Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Eleven law schools are out of compliance with the ABA's new standard for passing of bar exams

Recently the ABA changed its requirements for continued accreditation such that a law school must see at least 75% of those graduates who write the bar exam get a passing score within two years of graduation. Eleven law schools failed this standard, and far more came within one or two students of failing.

Here is the list of greatest shame:

Faulkner, 62.5%
District of Columbia, 64.1%
Mississippi College, 64.2%
Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, 64.5%
Cooley, 66.0%
South Dakota, 67.2%
Florida Coastal, 67.3%
John Marshall—Atlanta, 67.3%
Florida A&M, 70.8%
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, 70.9%
Charleston, 72.1%

Golden Gate just met the standard, with a rate of 75.0%. Thirty-three schools came in below 80%, and 96 below 90%.

Bear in mind that these figures are for those who take a bar exam. Law skules are notorious for discouraging their lousiest graduates, to the point of bribing them to "defer" the exam.

What happens to the aforementioned über-toilets now? The scam-administering ABA will review the data this month and send out letters to those law schools that are indeed non-compliant with the new standard. Those schools get two years to bring themselves into compliance. Of course, the ABA can always extend the deadline, change the rules, or otherwise do nothing about the most appalling toilet law schools, to say nothing of the merely horrible ones.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Concordia Law School survives, for now; plans for law school in Shreveport, Louisiana, rejected

Old Guy has good news and bad news for the anti-scam movement today.

First the bad news: Boise-based über-toilet Concordia Law School is going to survive after all, for now. Just last week, the parent institution in Portland, Oregon, announced that it would close down at the end of the semester. We had hoped that the closure would also kill off the law school. Alas! no. The law school has been acquired by Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota. How long the über-toilet will last under the auspices of yet another member of the sprawling Concordia family remains to be seen. I hold out little hope for a bottom-of-the-barrel law school in Idaho—a state that does not need one law school, never mind two—whose most recent graduating class featured an unemployment rate of 40%.

Now the good news: the vaunted "feasibility study" for a proposed law school in Shreveport, Louisiana, came back strongly negative. Almost a year ago we criticized the proposal as hopelessly inappropriate. We expected the feasibility study for Shreveport to be of the odious Indiana Tech variety. But saner heads existed in Louisiana, apparently, just as they did in Tennessee when über-toilet Valpo tried to dump itself onto Middle Tennessee State University.

The feasibility study for Shreveport sensibly observes that "[t]here is little compelling evidence that a new law school is warranted in the Shreveport/Bossier region". It recommended that "[n]o new law school be established in the Shreveport/Bossier region". Apparently unimpressed by such sensible conclusions, however, the Louisiana Board of Regents "requested further reports and feedback".

If the Louisiana Board of Regents stupidly approves another über-toilet in the Shreveport area, it will have itself to blame for the ensuing fiasco. Why do I say "another über-toilet"? Because just about any new law school today is bound to be an über-toilet. It will start life with no accreditation, no reputation, no particular reason other than location for anyone to attend. And location—really, Shreveport, for god's sake!—isn't going to attract applicants of even mediocre, never mind high calibre. Indiana Tech boasted that it would start out as third out of Indiana's five law schools by LSAT score, but absolutely no evidence was given of its ability to o'erleap two established and accredited (if awful) law schools. Predictably, it started at the bottom, and soon enough died. Such is the fate of just about any new law school. The exception of UC Irvine is hardly relevant: Irvine started with the prestige of the UC system and an enormous infusion of cash that enabled it to bribe entire entering classes. Even Irvine has hardly been a smashing success: first-year enrollment last year fell by a third, and more than 20% of graduates were unemployed or in jobs funded by the school itself (these being notorious as devices for distorting the picture of [un]employment).

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Texas Southern University fires president over admissions scandal at über-toilet law school

Texas Southern University has just fired its president, in part over a scandal involving admissions to its über-toilet law school.

In his "Notice of Proposed Termination for Cause" (see link above), the chairman of the board cited the following as the first of several grounds for termination:

As set forth in your Contract, you have a duty to promptly advise and fully report to the Board any matter known by you that tends to bring public disrespect, contempt or ridicule on the University. It is alleged that you failed to meet this obligation by failing to report to the Board and to the internal auditor allegations of fraudulent and dishonest activities of the former Associate Dean of Law School Admissions and Financial Aid (the "Former Assistant Dean"). As you know, the Former Assistant Dean resigned in lieu of termination for facilitating a fraudulent transfer law school application for Student One. Also, the Former Assistant Dean facilitated second fraudulent admission and scholarship for a first-year law school student (Student Two) in exchange for fourteen thousand dollars ($14,000) in cash. The Former Assistant Dean also provided false LSAT information for submission to the ABA law school accreditation review board. Each of these items are [sic] serious matters and are the subject of ongoing investigations.

A footnote explains that "Student name has been redacted to preserve their amenity". Presumably anonymity was intended, but one cannot expect a high standard of literacy at Texas Southern.

There are further allegations of cover-ups, inconsistent statements, interference with an investigation, and related wrongdoing.

Old Guy is not surprised to see an overpaid hackademic functionary accused of corruption. He is, however, astounded to see that someone paid a $14k bribe in order to get into the law skule at Texas Southern. With its LSAT scores of 143/145/147, Texas Southern ranks below all but Southern University Law Center and perhaps Cooley. Imagine being lousy enough that Texas Southern wouldn't take your ass!

At first I thought that the bribe might have been paid for the "scholarship", but the text says that the admission too was fraudulent, thereby suggesting that it could not have been achieved by the usual means of applying directly. One wonders just how bad a person has to be to resort to such desperate measures for admission to über-toilet Texas Southern.

Also interesting is that the contract required the president to advise of "any matter known by [him] that tends to bring public disrespect, contempt or ridicule on the University". Did he tell them that the stench of their über-toilet law school fouled the air for a hundred miles around? If not, he should indeed have been fired.

Monday, February 3, 2020

"I’m a Product of a Legal Education System That Produces Graduates for a Foregone Era"

Image result for hustle

This opening statement resonated with me immediately:

In May 2012, my professional outlook was bleak.

I was wrapping up three unenvious years of law school, confident I didn’t want to practice and saddled with about $150,000 in fresh school debt. Insult to injury: I was unemployed.

Haven't many of us been there?  Optimism turns to pessimism to despair over a three-year period.  Whether or not the practice-bug stayed intact, the question became - what do I do now?  Let's see:

A month after graduation, I received the first in a string of professional lifelines: a Fulbright fellowship to the Republic of Kosovo.

Wait, what?

It was a palate cleanser. I spent the year talking to people building the country’s justice system...[while] I traveled throughout Europe’s newest country, I was focused on traditional rule of law issues...[i]n the periphery, however, I caught glimpses of something I’d never seen before: a civic technology scene...[w]hile the country’s government operated in fits and starts, I saw members of a young, tech-savvy population trying to bridge the government’s gaps with their own solutions. 

Definitely not traditional legal practice - note the use of the term "palate cleanser".  Intrigued, I wanted to see where this went:

With a new universe of possibilities rattling inside my head, I left Kosovo for Baltimore to lead a criminal justice policy project.  The role didn’t last long; however, during that time I channeled what I saw in Kosovo and built my first legal app. That small act sealed my fate. I quit my job to catch the wave of the app’s early success, only to find the model unsustainable. From there, Justice Codes was born.  The following five years would be filled with euphoric successes, crushing defeats and the often-numb banality of striking out on your own.

Hmm, OK.  I admire the hustle, moving from one thing to the next - it sounds like the author was a bit of an entrepreneur at heart.  Regardless:

While I don’t recommend my path to others, I do think there are broader lessons in my experience. If nothing else, I want to join the chorus of voices pushing lawyers to expand their potential and embrace nontraditional, path-breaking opportunities. While such a choice is not without cost and sacrifice, lawyers who embrace it will be better suited to navigate our changing profession...[i]n retrospect, it’s safe to say that this was all worth it, as I exceeded many of my initial goals. Now, I even receive the occasional call from law students or lawyers looking to make a career change asking how they can do what I did. I tell them the process to get here looks nothing like the end product...[i]’m privileged to have had some savings and the personal freedom to embark on this endeavor, but I made just above the poverty line my first year. Each subsequent year was progressively better, but I still had to stop paying on my student loans during this time...[after additional challenges], left broke, dejected and running Facebook ad optimizations to cover rent, I became a journalist—another lifeline [emphasis added].

Wow.  I point all of this out not to criticize, as I admire the ability to stay agile.  Certainly more agile that I myself have been.  But I also appreciate the honesty - a seemingly lightning-strike initial opportunity, followed by multiple job-hops, varied amounts of "success" and "failure," some cash-flow issues along the way, initial capital required as a pre-requisite, while student loans took a back seat.  "Personal freedom" necessary - I'm assuming this means no familial obligations.  Other lawyers asking how to get out in the meantime, as this circuitous path apparently looked better.

What is the author's conclusion?

I’m a product of a legal education system that produces graduates for a foregone era, while saddling them with life-altering debt. Graduating into the wake of the Great Recession, I was left unsure about my professional future and building skills absent from law school curriculum. Simultaneously, legal professionals spent the last decade scrambling to learn new processes and technologies—and fend off others—in a bid to stay relevant. Regardless of our collective best efforts, most Americans still can’t access meaningful legal assistance.

At the same time, there has never been a more exciting moment to create a new path. Within the wreckage that is the access-to-justice gap, there is opportunity. Further, costs have never been lower to experiment with a promising idea, like those had by the founders at JustFix, Simple Citizen, Upsolve and Uptrust—just to name a few.

However, change is hard, and in a profession built on precedent—literally training us to look backward—I agonize over those not focused on what’s ahead...[i]t'll be better instead to set sail.

Welp, these are good points.  Congratulations to the author on navigating the minefield, as we all have to do in some form or fashion.

0Ls, and nontrads, however - let this example be another voice who is honestly pointing out the opportunities and the challenges, as no one within the Cartel will speak this plainly.  Many people start out saddled with debt.  The profession is changing, and may require multiple job-hops that are not even legal in nature.  Your career stands a good chance of being "nontraditional" (i.e. non-practicing) if you are not already a made-man going into the legal profession.  As seen above, there were many twists and turns, some of which may be "exciting," but financial stability and ability to pay back loans was not a large part of it.

If the future is "non-traditional, path-breaking" opportunities, then maybe law school is not the answer in the first place.  If I ever saw a ringing endorsement for an MBA (and I don't doubt there are overproduction of graduates issues there also), then this story would be it.  Caveat emptor.