Wednesday, January 30, 2019

(Updated:) Surprise, surprise: scamsters oppose standards for accreditation

(Update below.)

A new article discusses the many graduates who do not pass the bar even after years of attempts. One of these, a Mr. Sam Goldstein, has failed eight times but plans to try again, despite coming all of 13 points from passing on his most recent attempt. Mr. Goldstein racked up $285k in debt to attend profit-seeking über-toilet Arizona Summit, which has cancelled all classes in preparation for shutting up shop.

The ABA, as the article points out, has done nothing to stop the many scam-schools that produce Goldstein after Goldstein. In evident response to criticism, the ABA now proposes a condition of maintaining accreditation: 75% of the school's graduates must pass the bar exams within two years. The same proposal was made three years ago and was predictably defeated by the scamsters and scamster-lackeys who effectively control the ABA's so-called oversight of law schools. Once again the proposal faces strident opposition at this year's ABA scam-junket in Las Vegas.

COOLEY: The poster child for the law-school scam, according to interim president Jeffrey Martlew, plans to impose "in short order" a minimum LSAT score of 145 for "students who enroll through the standard admission process". (The article incorrectly reports that "[i]n its most recently admitted class, the bottom 25% of students had an average LSAT score of 139". Actually, 139 was the score at the 25th percentile, not the average score of the bottom 25%—which cannot be higher than 139 but presumably is lower, as some of those in the bottom 25% probably have scores even lower than 139.) At least Martlew admits "that a score of 139 is too low for admission", though he doesn't justify the still reprehensibly low score of 145, nor does he explain what is meant by "the standard admission process" or whether a non-standard back door will let people in with lower scores.

Martlew opposes the proposed standard for accreditation on the grounds that it "would force law schools to turn away lower-profile students, among them many minority students, a move that would probably make the nation's law schools less diverse". He continues: "We don’t want to slam the door on our access mission,… which is really what makes us different than [sic] any other law school." Kyle McEntee of the anti-scam organization Law School Transparency correctly rejects that ridiculous argument: "People who don’t get through school and don't pass the bar exam are not diversifying our profession." McEntee might also have asked "Cui bono?" and noticed that "minority students" (apparently referring only to racial minorities) make up 56.5% of the JD students currently enrolled at Cooley. Consequently, a policy that kept Cooley from exploiting "lower-profile students" would hit Cooley's balance sheet hard. Note that Cooley charges $53k per year for tuition and that most students have to pay full price.

THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH DAKOTA: With its LSAT profile of 147/150/153, this Cooleyite public institution is the worst law school of a flagship state university after that of its neighbor to the north. It managed to push more graduates through the bar exam only after the state legislature put up funds for bar review. Rather than saddling the public with this expense, why not simply admit that the U of South Dakota is admitting large numbers of students who have no business in law school or the legal profession?

PONTIFICAL CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY: I have avoided discussing the Puerto Rican law schools, in part because most of their students faced a big linguistic disadvantage on the LSAT. (An experimental Spanish version of the LSAT was introduced a few years ago for use in Puerto Rico only, but it is not scored on the same scale as the English version.) But after reading the argument of scam-dean Fernando Moreno-Orama against the ABA's proposed standard, I really do have to speak up. Moreno-Orama objects "because law schools don’t control the content of the bar exam or set the passing score". So what? How can that possibly excuse his law school's poor performance? Whatever the standard be, and however it be established, law schools should meet it—or stop pretending to teach law. And just imagine how bad things would be if the schools did control the content of the exam and set the passing score.

FLORIDA COASTAL: Scam-dean Jennifer Reiber objects because people who give up after a single attempt at the bar exam would bring the school's numbers down. According to her, some students "plan to use a law degree to further their careers in journalism or public policy" and take the bar exam only once, more or less for the hell of it. I'd love to see evidence of significant numbers of people with the objective that Reiber claims—people who pour three years and a big six-figure sum into an über-toilet's law degree to gain an advantage in an existing career in journalism or public policy but don't seriously attempt to be called to the bar. That doesn't even make sense, and no one with a brain will believe it. Florida Coastal is no longer accepting students, and presumably it is on the verge of closing for good, but Reiber could have spared us her bullshit excuse for piss-poor performance.

Scamsters find any number of self-serving reasons to oppose the proposed standard. I say that the proposal is altogether too weak. Two years to pass the bar exam? Anyone who has not passed it within two attempts should forget about finding decent employment as a lawyer. And 75% is too low: it would allow schools to maintain accreditation even though as many as a quarter of graduates became stuck with six-figure debt and a useless degree. In addition, the law schools are known for manipulative antics such as paying students not to take the bar exam so that they won't drag the old alma mater's numbers down (only students who take the exam count for this purpose). The standard should be higher, not lower. But the scamsters seem to reject any standard at all.

UPDATE: The proposal was indeed defeated handily, by a vote of 88 in favor to 334 against. Two reasons in particular were cited.

First, because California's bar exam is more difficult than those of many other jurisdictions, the standard would allegedly have been unfair to California's law schools. That's a stupid argument. Nothing stops graduates of California's appallingly many law schools (more than 60, including the unaccredited ones) from taking the bar exam in another jurisdiction, or the graduates of schools outside California from taking the exam in California. In addition, the law schools have been aware of California's standards for decades. It is their responsibility to ensure that their students meet the standard—and if they can't or won't do it, they shouldn't be allowed to operate. Besides, amidst the concern for "California's law schools", where is the concern for the people rooked in their thousands by these toilets?

Second, DIVERSITY! Loss of accreditation for the many underperforming toilets with large proportions of minority students "would have considerably harmed efforts to diversify the legal profession". Once again, diversifying the legal profession requires admission to the legal profession. Saddling people, racialized or not, with six figures of non-dischargeable debt at high interest for a degree that they cannot use is no way to diversify anything but the population of people bilked by the law-school scam. Furthermore, this recent interest in "diversity" is little more than a cynical ploy to exploit, under "progressive" cover, the last large population that can be lured in by scamsters bearing gifts.

When you set foxes to guard the henhouse, don't be surprised at the result. Yet again, the ABA demonstrates that it cannot be entrusted with the responsibility for accrediting and regulating law schools.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Nebraska is Still the Place to Be (and don't forget Iowa)

It was only a few years ago that the Law School Cartel mocked struggling law graduates for their inability to find paying jobs.  The problem, as it was stated, was that these graduates may need to give up their latte-sipping, loft-living, gentrified-urban lifestyles in order to get some experience and compensation.   Tons and tons of Boomers are retiring, and no-one is taking their places.  Hey, the Joads had to go West, so you might have to also, snowflake:

When attorney Phil Garland first hung his shingle in Garner, Iowa, there were five lawyers in town. Over 40 years later, that number hasn’t changed. What has changed, though, is those lawyers’ ages.
“We’ve got three guys in their 60s,” says Garland, who is 73.

Garland is the only one who has hired a younger associate to take over when he retires. That means in a few years, the town and its 3,000 residents could be down to just one attorney to handle everything from real estate transactions and probate work to juvenile issues and criminal cases.

And Garner isn’t the only small town facing that problem. Adams County, Iowa, for instance, boasts only one attorney for its 3,686 residents, while Ringgold County, with 5,034 residents, is home to three, according to the Iowa Bar Association.

Look at all that opportunity, and this is just a small sample!

That dearth of legal help is expected to worsen as baby-boomer attorneys who set up shop in America’s small towns 40 or 50 years ago retire and younger attorneys choose to congregate in cities rather than fill the gap.

“It’s a hard sell to get my students to want to go to Fresno and practice, but it would be a really hard sell to get my students to go and hang out a shingle in a place like Chowchilla,” Pruitt says, referring to a small town 250 miles north of Los Angeles.

Yep!  Get over yourselves, Millennials, you're the problem, not the solution.  The world is your oyster, if you deign to live outside silicon valley, that is.  Back to Iowa:

So Garland helped start the Rural Practice Program, one of several initiatives sprouting up with the aim of introducing new attorneys to the possibility of rural practice. The program organizes meet-and-greets between law students and rural lawyers to set up clerkships for those students in rural areas.

The hope is that some of those older lawyers will hire their clerks as associates after graduation, ensuring that when the older lawyers retire, younger lawyers will be there to pick up the baton.

OK, so what is the catch...?

“When I hired my associate, Carrie, I told her the business is yours when I’m done,” Garland says, promising her that he wouldn’t expect her to “buy out” the practice from him when he retires.

Garland says newly minted attorneys can no longer afford that “buy-out” because of the massive debt they are graduating with. Rodriguez “told me flat out that she’s got a lot of student debt … she said if you’d have had a buy-out I’m sure I wouldn’t have come,” Garland remembers.

“I try to encourage all my contemporaries” to forgo that money, he says. “We had the benefit of a cheap education, these kids today don’t have it.”

That debt is the biggest barrier to luring lawyers to the heartland, according to Pruitt and Garland, making the prospect of a regular salary from an established city firm far more attractive than the vicissitudes of solo practice or the cost of buying into a small firm in a town like Garner.

“Law school debt is just the 600-pound gorilla right now and it’s really constraining students’ choices,” says Pruitt. [emphasis added]

Kudos to Garland and other Boomers like him, and I seriously mean that.  Not only is he taking (self-sacrificing) steps to make a career happen for others and serve his community at the same time, he recognizes the fundamental truth that the Law School Cartel has dishonestly claimed to have been unable to understand - it's the debt, stupid.  Young graduates are not coming because they are "too good" for rural practice, it's because THEY CAN'T AFFORD TO,  unless someone is willing to offer a helping hand.

But, you can't expect a bunch of bubble-living deans, administrators and profs to understand this.  You can, however, expect them to deflect blame and throw the victim under the bus at every opportunity.

0Ls, we here at OTLSS can't say how widespread this phenomenon is, but it is encouraging that actual, work-for-a-living practitioners "get it" and are trying to do something about it.  We still argue that there are too many graduates for too few jobs, rural or not, but perhaps with some planning and a little luck (aka the Garlands of the world) there may be snippets of opportunity.  Don't bet the farm on this, however, as the Cartel will say anything about jobs and statistics, as has already been demonstrated.  And the debt is toxic and constraining, make no mistake, otherwise there would have already been a rural Renaissance of legal plenty.  Do your research before taking the plunge.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

We Tried Law School so You Don't Have To

Readers of OTLSS and other blogs that dare to be critical of the Law School Cartel have likely heard of David Frakt.  Like Tamanaha and Campos before, Frakt has argued for increasing the admissions standards at law schools, not only for the sake of the schools and the profession, but for the sake of future practitioners themselves.  Frakt is probably most famous for speaking truth during his job interview to become Dean of Florida Coastal School of Law (before being promptly shown the door for recommending some tough medicine).  Frakt continues to demonstrate that poor admission statistics generally lead to poor results later (for graduates, to be clear), another unpopular position to take if you are on the Cartel-side of the fence.  

...aaaaand so it goes.  Often this kind of insider-honesty is decried as an attempt by "the man" to prevent diversity and opportunity for disenfranchised students, when the brutal reality is: what school wants to turn down gobs of federal student loan money if it doesn't have to?  And the scamblogs are hardly enticing students to sign up, but to stay away, frankly, for their own sakes.

But what about the students themselves, and their own decision making process?  Over the several years we have all heard admonishments from the Boomer-esque "Personal Responsibility Brigade," yet to some degree there is a point to be made there.  Setting aside the irony for the moment that many people trying to entice students into law have been Boomers themselves, only to blame students for their predicament once the degree is conferred, only so much of the blame can be laid at the feet of the Cartel itself.  The following comment from a current law professor is poignant: 

Look, here's the deal: those of us who are law professors (or have been) know that many of our students are just not willing or able to believe that if they don't score well on their LSATs, they are very unlikely to "make it." Heck, they plead and cry and threaten suit to remain in law school even if they _also_ get very low grades in law school; another indicator of non-success, as it is typically measured, as attorneys. It sounds paternalistic, but Frakt has a point: since we all know that these potential or actual students are highly unlikely to make it past the bar or, if they do, to gain "meaningful" employment as measured against their previous expectations, it's better for them to not go to law school. Yes, they are in denial about that, but sometimes, you have to exercise some "tough love" in these cases. It truly is a consumer issue, as Frakt correctly says. What in the _world_ are you trying to obtain by calling him a racist and all sorts of things?! Please. That's nasty and below a mature, professional discussion.

Second, anon has a very good point: law schools are indeed - the vast majority of them, at least - hiring only from the top five law schools (if that). That's incredibly elitist and downright stupid. I'm sorry, no offense to those of you smart, nice, highly intelligent folks who, for very good reason, made it into those schools... [b]ut I think we can all agree that it's ridiculous to think that only a handful of schools (actually, really only Harvard, Yale, and Stanford) can produce law professors that can teach students the law and how to think critically, etc.[...]

At bottom, I think law schools really ought to hold themselves way above what is currently going on: profit-making, snobbery, and self-serving procedures. Another example of the failure of the American educational system.

Posted by: TruthAboveAll | December 19, 2018 at 11:53 PM

To those who think the scamblogs don't know what they are talking about - don't take it from us, take it from the insiders who are willing to be honest.  The Cartel would have done well to maintain admission standards rather than fling open the doors year ago, and students should not assume that nay-sayers are out to get them, personally, just because the path is dangerous and consequence-filled.

As we always say: 0Ls, pay heed before deciding to take the plunge.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Sacred Cows Die Hard

What began as a "simple" post expressing concern over increased law school applicant rates, and the misguided rationales that could explain why such an increase is occurring, instead resulted in a lively debate in the comment section over the value and utility of law school and of a legal career in and of itself.  As some have openly questioned the purpose of the scamblogs now that it is 2019, it is all the more interesting that the debate still continues to roil, rather than being a matter that is instead fully "settled," if the use of the scamblogs has indeed run its full course.

Lawyers deal in nuance.  If a dispute was a simple matter of facts, or something that proved to be not much of a dispute after all, then lawyers would not even be needed.  It is preciscely becuase that large expanses of grey can exist between extremes of black and white that individuals skilled in weighing various factors, and advocating for a position that is supported by the same factors, becomes necessary from time to time.

The anti-scamblog arguments, as evidenced by the last comment section, still seem to fall into a handful of broad categories:

*  The scamblogs are just plain ignorant;
*  The scamblogs oversimplify the true state of affairs;
*  The scamblogs are insolent;
*  The scamblogs are a bunch of losers whose message should be discarded, Because Reasons.

What is interesting about all this is that these broad arguments were the exact same arguments leveled at the scamblogs almost ten years ago, if not earlier.  While it is unfortunately difficult now to link to  sites such as Third Tier Reality, one thing I distinctly remember from Nando's inaugural post was the debate that raged in that comments section.  The long and the short of it is this:  nothing much has changed between late 2018 and late 2008, at least as regards the anti-scamblog comments.  In 2013-2014 or so they died down, I would argue because the truth of the movement had been made manifest, but now that a new crop of students are applying who perhaps are not as acquainted with the message, the cycle begins anew.  This excellent post on the history of the scamblog movement is still informative.

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