Friday, June 26, 2020

Concordia University's law school closes after all

Only four months ago, Concordia University's law school in Boise, Idaho, announced that it would be acquired by Concordia University in St Paul, Minnesota. Now the deal has fallen through, and Concordia's law school will not be opening this autumn after all. Count one more law school as dead.

Although the institutions involved decline to provide details, it seems that a $300M lawsuit against the parent university (based or formerly based in Portland, Oregon) resulted in liens that blocked the transfer of the law school's assets. The parent university recently announced its own closure, but of course its assets may still have to answer that nine-figure claim and possibly other claims as well.

Anyone interested in keeping Concordia's law school alive might consider raising money with which to settle or at least secure that claim. A bake sale should do the trick: just make a dollar's profit by selling a carrot cake or a plate of brownies (or red-velvet cupcakes for Lisa Tucker McElroy) to every person in the US! We have helpfully offered numerous other ideas for bailing a law school out. Indiana Tech never tried them, but maybe Concordia can succeed.

Our dear friends at Law School Transparency have already stricken Concordia from their database, so I cannot provide a link to their data. But the entering class of 2019 had only 59 students, and Concordia was definitely deep in über-toilet territory. It achieved ABA accreditation just last year.

What shall become of those 145 Concordians who have been left high and dry? The U of Idaho has tentatively offered to take them in, one and all, if only it can find a place for them. Options include moving them all to the university's own law school (far away in Moscow, Idaho) and cobbling together a temporary place for them at the university's facilities in Boise. Expect plenty of other toilet institutions to come begging for the newly scuppered Concordians, much as the U of North Dakota scooped up much of the jetsam of Arizona Summit when the latter went tits up days before classes were supposed to start.

Twelve law schools have closed in the past few years (if we count campuses of the Cooley chain as separate law schools) or at least forfeited their ABA accreditation in lieu of closing for good:

Cooley (one campus)
Hamline or Mitchell*
Indiana Tech
Arizona Summit
Cooley (another campus)
Thomas Jefferson†
La Verne†

Which will be next?


* Hamline and Mitchell merged. Which one closed is difficult to say: arguments can be made on each side. Anyway, the two schools became one, so effectively one of the two closed. The merger was a closure in dignified guise.

† Forfeited ABA accreditation and continued with only the accreditation offered by California.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

ABA notifies ten law schools of non-compliance with Standard 316

Recently we reported that eleven law schools are out of compliance with the ABA's Standard 316. That standard, introduced in its current revised form in May 2019, nominally requires that "[a]t least 75 percent of a law school's graduates who sat for a bar examination must have passed a bar examination administered within two years of their graduation". The non-compliant schools are

District of Columbia
Mississippi College
Inter-American (Puerto Rico)
South Dakota
Florida Coastal
John Marshall–Atlanta
Florida A&M
Pontifical Catholic (Puerto Rico)

In May 2020, the ABA sent letters of non-compliance to all of these but Faulkner. (I have not found an explanation for the failure to call Faulkner out, even though it had the lowest percentage of graduates who took and passed a bar exam.) Those law schools must now produce a report by February 2021 and appear before the relevant council of the ABA in May 2021. The report must present "a reliable plan for coming back into compliance within [a] 2-year period" starting from the date of the letter (in this case May 2020). "The school returns to compliance by showing that a subsequent two-year cohort has a 75% ultimate pass rate"; otherwise "the school’s accreditation will be removed … unless an extension of time is requested by the school and granted by the Council for good cause shown".

This weak standard was adopted despite the militant opposition of the law-school scamsters and their lackeys, who did not want to have their good thing spoiled by even minimal requirements. Note some of the weaknesses of the standard:

1) Schools that have had perfectly dreadful results on the bar exam for years—including all eleven of the schools listed above—still get the full opportunity to improve their results. In the meantime, they continue to draw in new classes of lemmings, few of whom are likely to pass a bar exam ever.

2) The standard refers to "coming back into compliance", but quite a few schools have never been in compliance.

3) Only those graduates "who [have] sat for a bar examination … within two years of their graduation" are considered for the purposes of this standard. A law school can thus manipulate the data by discouraging its least promising graduates from taking any bar exam within two years of graduation, so that their expected failure will not count against the law school. It is well known, and has been reported here, that law schools have resorted to bribery and other corrupt tactics in order to keep students from taking a bar exam.

4) Likewise, a law school could simply reduce enrollment for a couple of years in order to reach the 75% threshold. Many law schools have resorted to this tactic, especially in recent years, so as to seem more competitive or selective than they are.

5) A law school can also turn its curriculum into little more than three years of bar review. Already that is reality at many law schools, despite the pretensions to "global leadership", flashy specialties, scholarship, complex litigation, and so on. Quite a few law schools have formal bar-review courses every semester, and the rest of the curriculum too is effectively more bar review. The ABA prates about rigorous programs of legal education but does little to evaluate, still less to regulate, what is actually done at toilet law schools.

6) The two-year period "for coming back into compliance" can be extended as the ABA sees fit.

7) If a law school fails to achieve compliance within the two-year period or any longer period allowed by the ABA, it can get a further "extension of time", perhaps indefinitely.

8) The ABA affords a full year between the notice of non-compliance and the evaluation of the school's plan for achieving compliance. Throughout that year, the school is free to do as it pleases.

9) The ABA does not say what it will do if the presented plan is deemed unsatisfactory. More extensions? Opportunities to try again?

10) Nothing in this standard stops a law school from manipulating its way into compliance only to fall back into its usual über-toilet practices immediately until slapped on the wrist again for non-compliance. This yo-yo cycle could continue forever.

So what will happen to the ten law schools whose accreditation has been called into question on account of Standard 316? A few of them are so shriveled up or financially threatened that they are likely to fail before the two-year period lapses. The ABA knows this, of course. As for the rest, I expect them to receive the sweetheart treatment from the ABA, which never saw a scam school that it didn't like. Maybe the ABA will feel the need to strip one or two dying schools of their accreditation just for the sake of appearances, to create a veneer of seriousness about upholding standards or policing the law-school scam. It has done the same in recent years to a couple of schools that had one foot in the grave anyway. But what about the rest of the schools? Will they not get extensions and other dispensations until they attain the pitifully low 75% threshold?

Monday, June 8, 2020

On-line instruction: boon or bane to the law-school scam?

Faithful readers, we are still here. We have been relatively quiet only because there has been little news to report on the law-school scam, thanks in large measure to the disruption resulting from COVID-19.

One new development is the shift to on-line instruction. Since March, on account of the virus, law schools have closed their campuses and switched to lectures delivered via the Internet. Harvard recently announced that it will do the same for at least one more semester, once classes resume in the autumn.

What does this development mean for the law-school scam? The very viability of teaching law in this way casts doubt upon the putative need for expensive buildings, libraries, and, above all, faculties of overpaid professors. Now that the entire student body at Harvard can complete a semester from Paducah, Peoria, or Phnom Penh without getting dressed, why not complete all of law school in the same way? And if students can do so with nothing but some Internet-based lectures, can Harvard not slash its faculty and support staff? The lectures themselves can just be recorded once and for all; students anywhere can attend them at their convenience. A few adjuncts can be hired to grade exams on the side.

It might be argued that the students have to write a paper or two, using the library's resources, or perhaps conduct a moot. But that doesn't justify three years on campus: the students can just show up for a couple of weeks and stay at a hotel if necessary while they do the little bit of work that must be performed on site.

Harvard has long been regarded as the bellwether of the law-school scam: what Harvard does, every über-toilet is sure to imitate. (For instance, every über-toilet teaches law as if its charges were slated for Global Leadership™ or litigation before the Supreme Court.) Now that Harvard can operate entirely via the Internet, other law schools will do likewise. And why shouldn't they? Why maintain the costly, old-fashioned mode of instruction when a cheap and efficient substitute can be rolled out even at Harvard?

The implications for the law-school scam are harder to predict. On the one hand, the widespread introduction of on-line instruction may shore up many a toilet law school by facilitating enrollment. Students no longer need feel constrained by geography: wherever in the world they may live, one toilet is accessible as another. That fact may foster competition among toilets, but it may also help them to put lemming asses into virtual seats. On the other hand, the on-line medium will sap law school of much of its mystique and prestige, thereby discouraging many a prospective student. And even some of the thickest lemmings may call into question the fancy price tags attached to JDs. That could drive the cost down significantly.

Will COVID-19 prove to be good or bad for the law-school scam? Share your thoughts below.