Wednesday, December 15, 2021

ABA's 509 disclosures are out

Today the ABA published the disclosures that all ABA-accredited law schools have made this year under Standard 509:

Read all about your (least) favorite law school. Feel free to post analyses here.

Monday, November 22, 2021

The newest über-toilet is coming—to Shreveport

Southern University Law Center, which gives Cooley stiff competition for the rank of lousiest accredited law school in the US, is going to open a branch in Shreveport in January 2022.

We here at Outside the Law School Scam discouraged this particular piece of folly. Law School Truth Center wrote a feasibility study on the creation of another über-toilet in the Pelican State. But of course the scamsters were undeterred by such inconvenient party-poopers as rationality.

Were there a need for a law school in Shreveport (and there isn't a need for a new law school anywhere in the US), Southern University Law Center would be very ill placed to run it. At least a quarter of the incoming students last year scored no better than 143 on the LSAT (the highest score at that level in more than a decade). A "school" that bad should clean its own shit up before branching out.

Who are the students in the first cohort? Eight students at Southern University Law Center who decided to complete their last semester by moving from the main toilet in Baton Rouge to the outhouse in Shreveport. After a single semester, this ridiculous "law school" is going to close until it can find a few students next winter to pull the same stunt. Optimists might suppose that the new über-toilet is being built prudently from modest beginnings. Old Guy is more inclined to deal with reality: for the reasons carefully explained in Law School Truth Center's feasibility study, the Shreveport area just cannot support a law school, and that fact would become perfectly clear if this laughable branch of one of the very worst two or three law schools in the US threw open its doors and tried to operate as a full-blown Indiana Tech (with or without the four specializations in Global Leadership™ and such).

Indeed, the students are all from the area, although they completed most of their studies in Baton Rouge: "The inaugural class will be eight Southern University Law students who have roots in Northern Louisiana and felt an early move back to the region could help secure post-graduation employment." The only people who wanted to go to that branch in Shreveport were people who were from that part of Louisiana. And they are still looking for work as their time in law school draws to a close. They're desperately hoping that the declining Shreveport area will want graduates like themselves (assuming for the moment that they'll ever pass a bar exam), even though their ridiculous eight-student campus cannot offer meaningful support for finding local employment.

A propagandist for this bullshit Southern University Law Center said "I meet people all the time who say I want to go but all of the law schools are in southern Louisiana". Old Guy is unsympathetic. If you live in a small or bleak place like Shreveport, you cannot reasonably expect to have the facilities of New York City at your doorstep. Grow the hell up and move a couple of hours away if you're interested in law. Old Guy had to move far from his home town of Bumblefuck (much smaller than Shreveport) in order to go to university. People who have to wait for a law school to be brought to them don't deserve access to federally guaranteed student loans.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Charleston School of Law: Failures at the bar exam exceed successes

Back in 2015, when Old Guy was more inclined to indulge his muse here, he wrote the following song to the Charleston School of Law:
♪ Charleston, Charleston,
Made in Carolina.
Some sham, some scam,
You'll take it up the vagina
Down in Charleston, Charleston,
Lord, how they can swindle!
Ev'ry time they pull
O'er your eyes the wool,
Don't believe their bull:
They've made pocketsful.
Damn sham, flim-flam,
Will be a back number;
But at Charleston, yes, at Charleston,
That scam school's surely a comer!
Some time they'll bilk you one time,
The scam school called Charleston,
Made in South Carolin'. ♪

Law School Truth Center posted this little twelve-year history of Charlatan Charleston. Largely accurate, it did go astray with the prediction that Charleston would be the second law school to shut up shop. Since LSTC's article came out, fourteen law schools have gone tits up, but unfortunately Charleston isn't among them.

Recently Charleston gloated about a proposal to charge no tuition. While its scamsters dream on, its graduates keep failing the bar exam: this year only 46% of those taking South Carolina's exam in July received a passing score. That's the lowest rate achieved by the graduates of Charleston since 2008, when Law School Transparency started to keep records.

Scamsters will trump up excuses galore, but the fact remains that a class drawn from the 140s on the LSAT can be expected to fare poorly on a bar exam. And when the law school is a bullshit unneeded upstart from the present century, it doesn't compete with Harvard for students. 

Will the ABA do anything about this shit pit by the sea? Let's just say that Old Guy isn't waiting with bated breath. Earlier this year, just months after Charleston missed a new nominal standard for maintaining accreditation, the ABA cheerfully conferred its rubber stamp of approval on the über-toilet. Expect the scam-fostering ABA to exercise its "discretion" in the direction of covering up for this would-be InfiLaw scam-school and all of its peers in über-toilet territory. 

In the meantime, O aspiring toileteers, if you are ass enough even to consider applying to this stinky dump, tell us one thing: what exactly do you plan to do if you get your Mickey Mouse degree only to find, like so many of your fellow Charlatans, that you can't pass any bar exam?

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Law in the time of COVID-19: surviving schools increase enrollment

With law schools closing left and right over the past five years and others headed for the grave, a rational person might expect a decline in enrollment. But this is the law-school scam, after all, where pennies are not left on the table and lives are not spared.

Although the figures will not be in until the filing of the ABA's required reports in December, most law schools have already announced the size of their first-year classes in 2021–22. Collectively, those schools have increased enrollment by more than 9% since last year. The bulk of the increase, of course, lies in the vast realm of toiletry and über-toiletry, but even those schools in the so-called top 13 have not been shy about leading fresh lambs to the slaughter: Cornell, Duke, and Penn have all increased enrollment by more than 10%. As for über-toilets, notorious Vermont Law School has seen fit to tack on 72%, proving once again that it is not in the Green Mountains for nothing.

While scam-schools' coffers spill over with ducats, sane heads—there are still two or three, despite appearances—have asked where the hell the new graduates of 2024 are going to find jobs that will support the monstrous cost, mostly financed with expensive, non-dischargeable student loans. Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency offers a polite understatement: "It does not seem to me that the entry level labor market can handle this many 1Ls… Schools should have continued to decrease enrollment, at least a little bit."

McEntee also correctly lamented the rise in cost to people stupid enough to sign up for law school. Flush with so many applicants, law schools could afford to charge more. Expect them to have done so. Allegedly pious Notre Dame even pitted its new lemmings against one another by having them scramble to reserve their spaces in the class by paying their deposits early, lest they lose out. 

If you like the prospect of paying an even more obscene price for an even less useful degree, then law school is just the thing for you. Old Guy urges to you pledge your next of kin right away to the über-toilet of your choice.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Law today: unmanageable debt, low to zero income

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal reveals (surprise!) that a legal career ain't what it used to be. Many graduates leave with a mountain of debt overtowering a paltry or non-existent income.

Data from the Department of Education show that "[o]nly a dozen of the nation’s law schools leave students earning annual salaries two years after graduation that exceed their debts". Indeed, "the value of a law degree from nonelite schools has diminished. Salaries haven’t kept pace with inflation over the past 20 years. Meanwhile, tuitions have soared. A three-year juris doctor program, including living expenses, now can cost more than $250,000 at private law schools." The median salary has been stagnant over the past decade, while debt has continued to rise from an already obscene level.

The article focuses on the law school at the University of Miami, which, among the so-called top 100 law schools on the bogus "ranking" published by You Ass News, has the greatest gap between median debt at graduation and median salary two years later. Here is a sample of typical lemming-like foolishness inspired by delusions of prestige:

Laura Cordell, a 2019 graduate, said she chose Miami for the prestige, particularly within Florida. “You go to any courthouse in Miami and the judge went to UM, the judge is a teacher at UM, there’s some sort of connection to UM,” she said.

“When I was looking for law schools, I wasn’t looking at price as much as what would be good for my career,” said Ms. Cordell, 30 years old, who said she turned down another school that offered her a large scholarship. “I didn’t have an understanding of the gravity of the amount I was borrowing.”

Ms. Cordell owes $334,000 in federal loans for her time at Miami. She now makes an $80,000 base salary, with a bonus of about $12,000, working at a firm that specializes in insurance. Because her debt load is so high, she said, she can’t afford more than the minimum payment on an income-driven plan, which sets her monthly payments according to her income.

Now, let's get one thing straight, Ms Cordell: the U of Miami is in no way prestigious. Maybe the local bench features lots of graduates of your humdrum toilet school, but that doesn't mean that going there "would be good for [your] career". Those judges graduated long before you did, many of them at a time when the law-school scam hadn't fully bloomed into the monstrosity of today. You also wrongly attribute their apparent success to the law school that they attended. More likely, they succeeded despite going to a no-name law school, not because of it.

And anyone who admits "I wasn't looking at price" is not, in Old Guy's book, cut out to be a lawyer. Certainly she shouldn't have been allowed to contract a third of a million dollars in student loans underwritten by the federal government. Sorry to be frank, but failure to look at a price tag of that size manifests a shameful lack of intelligence, prudence, or both.

Dylan Boigris is similarly delusional:

“I had no work experience, life experience, anything like that before I signed on to this quarter-million-dollar loan,” said Dylan Boigris, a 2016 Miami Law graduate, who began his career making about $45,000 as a public defender. “I thought I would come out making much more than I did.”


Mr. Boigris, the 2016 Miami graduate, said he didn’t receive counseling about what borrowing roughly $240,000 would mean for his financial future. He now owes nearly $300,000, including interest and undergraduate debt.

“You tell them, ‘I need assistance,’ and they’re like, ‘OK, here’s a loan,’ ” said Mr. Boigris, who is 30. “It was just an endless supply of money.”

In February, he was surprised to learn that he and his fiancée couldn’t get approved to borrow as much as they wanted to buy a home. Though Mr. Boigris was making $120,000 after moving to the private sector, the lender told him his debt load was too high.

Yes, believe it or not, the borrowed funds were not Monopoly money: they do have to be paid back when the law-school game is over, and you can't buy a house on the same state-guaranteed never-never. But another graduate of toilet Miami has a different plan: stick the public with the cost of her folly:

Before Maria Rodriguez started at Miami in 2016, she and her mother visited the law school to discuss their concerns about affordability. The student had immigrated from Colombia as a child and grew up in a low-income family. She needed to buy books totaling about $1,000, she said, but her student loan money wasn’t yet available.

A school official told her there were no need-based scholarships available for her, and suggested she consider getting a credit card to buy the books, recalled Ms. Rodriguez, now 27.

Ms. Rodriguez said she didn’t blame the school for the timing of when loans were processed. She ultimately found a bookstore that gave her the books up front after she promised to make good when her loans came through.

She had a great educational experience at Miami, she said, though she now owes $300,000 in loans for her law and bachelor’s degrees. She works as a public defender, is enrolled in an income-based repayment plan, and expects to have her loans wiped away through a federal public-service loan-forgiveness program after paying for a decade.

Her "great educational experience" didn't teach her such frivolous lessons as responsibility for her personal finances or discretion when borrowing a third of a million. Mommy apparently dragged her to the campus "to discuss their concerns about affordability", yet those concerns weren't significant enough to keep her from taking an on assload of debt for her "great" overpriced toilet school.

Zigan Danklou, a Togolese immigrant who apparently graduated at age 35, went to the dean with a couple of dozen classmates "during his final year to voice financial concerns. The students hadn’t gotten their loan money as soon as they expected and were struggling, he said." They didn't voice concerns about the amount that they were bothering (just funny money to them, bien sûr); they only complained about the delay in getting borrowed dollars into their hot little hands. The dean served them pizza and a line about the bright future that allegedly lay ahead. What happened?

Even with a partial scholarship, Mr. Danklou borrowed $138,000. He struggled to find a permanent job after graduating.

After a brief stint working for the federal government, he has begun working as a solo practitioner in Jacksonville. He currently has zero income but hopes to make money from cases taken on a contingency basis. His student-loan balance, with interest, has risen to $155,000.

I don't feel so sanguine about Mr Danklou's prospects of making money on a contingency basis. Leaving aside the important issue of his competence as a lawyer, I wonder who would take a lucrative case on contingency to a nobody who can't make a penny "as a solo practitioner". Unfortunately for him, he—like Old Guy—was too old to find work in the legal "profession", a veritable warren of age-based discrimination.

Scam-professor Anthony Alfieri of the U of Miami states, correctly, that "[l]aw schools encourage a kind of magical thinking in order to keep the lights on" and a "kind of cruel optimism"—Old Guy would say delusion—about the prospects of six-figure salaries. But while the high debts are a certainty, the six-figure salaries are a will-o'-the-wisp. Consequently, only 15% of recent graduates of his toilet school had begun to repay their loans within two years of graduation. Although that figure is "the lowest rate among law schools at elite private research universities" (pardon Old Guy while he barfs over the "elite" bit), most other law schools differ only in degree. There are only fourteen law schools where most graduates repay any principal within two years of graduation.

None of this is news; we at Outside the Law School Scam have been reporting it for more than eight years, and many noble anti-scam activists were doing so before us. Though we be the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, we insist:

1. You should not go to law school unless you can pay in cash and do not need income.

2. The government should greatly restrict, or even abolish, federally guaranteed student loans.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

San Francisco DA's office embraces brave new grammar

 Press release: June 30, 2021: “Today, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced a bold new policy to promote respect for the gender identity of all people encountering the criminal legal system. . . . The policy directs all San Francisco District Attorney’s Office staff to both inquire and then use correct pronouns, names, and titles for crime victims, witnesses, and the accused in a criminal case. . . . The policy also requires prosecutors to ask the defense which pronouns should be used for anyone accused of a crime, and to document and use those pronouns throughout the pendency of the case.”


1 Now comes gender-enlightened Petitioner and, consistent with the Hon. Chesa Boudin’s bold and inclusive pronoun edict, earnestly asks to be addressed as “Your Highness” and referred to as “His Highness” in all courtroom proceedings and court filings.

2. From earliest childhood, Petitioner has been identified as royalty. Petitioner’s birthing person (“mom” in pre-gender liberation parlance) was known to refer to the Infant Petitioner as “His Majesty.” Similarly, Petitioner’s birthing person’s inseminator (“dad” in pre-gender liberation parlance) was known to refer to Petitioner as “a Jewish prince”).  Similarly as well, Petitioner’s identified-as-female-at-birth-and-identified-as-chronologically-subsequent-at-birth sibling (“little sister” in pre-gender liberation parlance) was known to refer to Petitioner as “King Doofus.” 

3. Though wry or even disrespectful, such descriptions reflect a due acknowledgment of Petitioner’s long-standing transroyal status. Petitioner declares and embraces this princely or kingly identity, consistent with an obnoxious desire to regard others as commoners or peasants. Petitioner also wonders whether he* [to use oppressive oldspeak, pending recognition of preferred pronoun*] can cancel people at whim by making vexatious official complaints about instances of misroyalizing and royalphobia, which are sadly rampant in our society. 

4. It is pure discrimination and egregious noninclusivity to deny Petitioner’s royal gender identity because, by pure accident of birth, his lineage traces to Brooklyn shopkeepers and then to Chicago schoolteachers and accountants and not to Windsor Castle.  

5. Petitioner recognizes that the Hon. Chesa Boudin’s policy does not specifically mention lawyers, but only “victims, witnesses, and the accused.” But surely this is a mere oversight, and inconsistent with the policy’s bold and inclusive intent. It makes little sense to allow a criminal complainant, defendant, or witness to choose zitz or zatz own precious pronouns, but to not accord attorneys the same protection from the grievous psychic harms of grammatical clarity.  

6. Indeed, Petitioner knows, or imagines he knows, that many a grizzled criminal defense lawyer and prosecutor has been reduced to brokenhearted tears because judges persist in imposing the cruel and outmoded binary formulation of “his” and “her” rather than adopt such valid, inclusive, and beautiful preferred pronouns as “ishkabibble,” “zipadeedoodah,” Pi to the 131st digit, or the complete lyrics to “Over the Rainbow,” whether recited forward or backwards or translated into Albanian. 

7. Petitioner’s request is certainly no less reasonable than other hypothetical gendering requests that would seemingly be granted under the express terms of the Hon. Chesa Boudin’s bold and inclusive edict. For instance, it would appear that a rape complainant in a criminal case can be compelled  to refer to her alleged rapist as “she” and “her,” even if the defendant identified as male when the incident took place and even if the defendant looks, sounds, and behaves, at least to the gender unenlightened, like a football linebacker with unconventional fashion and grooming preferences. 

8. Petitioner acknowledges that gender liberation ideology and parlance largely arose from the theorizing of hyper-privileged and avowedly progressive academics. Nonetheless, he dismisses as conspiratorial or phobic any suspicion that these high-status individuals were motivated to promote their careers on the backs of their marginalized group identities or to pad their CVs by producing gibberish in the guise of scholarship or to indulge in the narcissism of identity politics in lieu of discussing and acting upon such substantive and urgent progressive concerns as climate change, income inequality, and mass incarceration.

9. In considering his modest request, Petitioner asks that notice be taken of the wise precept articulated by noted legal philosopher Humpty Dumpty, who declared, “When I use a word. . . it means just what I choose it to mean– neither more nor less.”

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Über-toilet coming to Shreveport, Louisiana

Two years ago, when fools in the Pelican State were talking about opening a so-called law school in Shreveport, Law School Truth Center wrote a feasibility study showing what a goddamn stupid idea that was. Now, however, the project is proceeding: über-toilet Southern University Law Center is opening a branch in Shreveport.

Southern University is one of the rare law schools that make Cooley look good. Its LSAT scores of 143/144/146 place it dead last among ABA-accredited law schools outside Puerto Rico. It is now the only non–Puerto Rican law school (there were many just a couple of years ago) whose LSAT score at the 75th percentile is below 150. In short, it is a fucking dump. Yet somehow it drew in 336 first-year students last year.

Opening this über-toilet-to-be will allegedly cost between $8 million and $10 million, but Old Guy expects the real figure to be much higher. Already the state government has pledged to flush $500k down this toilet. The building that houses a public library in downtown Shreveport has been earmarked as its new home.

And this branch of the nascent Southern University chain of über-toilets is being planned around a four-year curriculum. Why four years, rather than the usual three? On the reasonable assumption that the students will be too damn stupid to finish on schedule? Will there be an entire year of bar review? Who will sign up for this trash heap when its program is a third longer than that of any other law school?

A local politician justifies the foundation of a new über-toilet on such ridiculous grounds as these: “Corporations and companies looking to move their headquarters and things like that, they want to know if their senior staff would have access to professional degree programs.” First of all, just exactly which corporations are eager to move their headquarters to Shreveport? Be serious. Second, no corporation is going to want to send its “senior staff” for a “professional” JD at the local four-year über-toilet. But of course the local boosters have to tout their shabby-ass little city and its shabby-ass little state however they can.

Public money thrown down this rathole will simply fund a monstrous embarrassment. Louisiana, like most of the other states in the region, doesn't have a single decent law school. With four mediocre to utterly contemptible law schools already, it certainly doesn't need another. This ill-considered venture will be Indiana Tech redux, with the notable difference of state funding to perpetuate über-toiletry in northern Louisiana. Even Cooley has been closing campuses one by one; but Southern University, the new Cooley, is expanding into nondescript pseudo-urban sites. Expect this to end badly. In the meantime, you can bet your ass that many a recently cashiered hackademic scamster from Florida Coastal will be applying for a cushy job at La Toilette Shreveport.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Toilets Я Us, Part VIII: Florida Coastal, the last InfiLaw über-toilet, is closing down

Break out the Champagne, everyone, for today marks the end of the InfiLaw era of scam-schools: Florida Coastal, InfiLaw's last über-toilet, is closing down.

After losing its access to the federal student-loan gravy train, Florida Coastal (Horrida Coastal) had to submit to the scam-enabling ABA a "teach-out" plan for winding itself up without just dumping the students on the ground (as former InfiLaw scam-school Charlotte did). Finally the ABA has accepted a teach-out plan whereby Florida Coastal will stop teaching courses at the end of the summer. Currently enrolled students will either transfer to other law schools or enroll elsewhere as "transient" students (that makes them sound like vagrants) while still receiving a degree from Florida Coastal, which will provisionally remain accredited until 1 July 2023 just so that it can issue those degrees.

I don't know why anyone would want a degree from an über-toilet that had just been flushed. Transferring would make more sense than enrolling as a "transient" student, but the best choice of all—if available—is to use the closure of the school as an excuse for backing out of one's student loans. 

Which law schools are going to scoop up the jetsam of Florida Coastal? The U of North Dakota welcomed the detritus of InfiLaw franchise Arizona Summit with open arms. Other failing law schools may be eager to snap up a few dozen toileteers. 

The number of law schools closed in the past five years now stands at fourteen:

Cooley (one campus)

Hamline or Mitchell (the two merged)

Indiana Tech





Arizona Summit

Cooley (a second campus)

Thomas Jefferson (relinquished ABA accreditation in favor of state accreditation)

La Verne (relinquished ABA accreditation in favor of state accreditation)


Cooley (a third campus)

Florida Coastal

Which scam-school will be the fifteenth to close? Appalachian, Ohio Northern, Faulkner, Western State, Mississippi College, Golden Gate, District of Columbia, Vermont, Western New England, Charleston, the rump of Cooley, and a number of others seem like prime candidates. Nominate your (least) favorite below.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Strike three, InfiLaw's out? Florida Coastal uncoupled from the student-loan gravy train

Private scam-chain InfiLaw ran three outsized über-toilets for years. Two of them—the Charlotte School of Law and Arizona Summit Law School—are defunct. Florida Coastal is the sole surviving InfiLaw scam-school. And now it, too, is headed for collapse.

Today the US Department of Education announced that Florida Coastal is ineligible for student loans. Specifically, Florida Coastal had failed to meet the standards of financial responsibility, fiduciary conduct, and sound administration. It earned "the lowest possible score", namely –1.0, for financial responsibility. InfiLaw recently dumped its 98.6% stake (InfiLaw no longer even operates a Web site), thereby leaving big concerns about solvency. Insufficient "competency and integrity" also contributed to the decision.

Florida Coastal is looking into the option of appealing against the decision within the next ten days. Already, however, the Department of Education is planning actions to take "if Florida Coastal School of Law closes precipitously"—a likely eventuality indeed. With no significant source of money for operations, the worst possible financial rating, a reported lack of integrity, and an evident propensity for "profiteering off students", Florida Coastal may well go tits up any minute now. Charlotte notoriously locked its doors without a word, and Arizona Summit canceled classes and shut up shop about two weeks before the start of the academic year, so I shouldn't put it past an über-toilet of InfiLawvian heritage to leave its toileteers high and dry.

Florida Coastal seems ready to become the fourteenth law school to close its doors within the past five years. Which will be #15? Nominate your (least) favorite below.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

“All Law Schools Are Free”: An outsider hits the nail on the head

Old Guy stumbled upon a ten-year-old criticism of the law school scam. Although written by an outsider (specifically a psychiatrist), it shows real insight into what was wrong with law school in 2011—and what is still wrong with it today.

Long-time anti-scam warriors will be familiar with an old article in The New York Times that used as its chief example Michael Wallerstein, "a tall, sandy-haired, 27-year-old radiating a kind of surfer-dude serenity". Wallerstein borrowed a quarter of a million dollars to attend now-defunct über-toilet Thomas Jefferson while indulging in high living that included a fancy apartment—he nearly used his borrowed funds for the downpayment on a $350k condo—and trips to Europe for "study". After graduation, he couldn't find work other than temporary document review under a manager who likewise had failed to thrive ("I was 32 when I graduated, and at 32 you’re washed up in this field"). He couldn't pay the interest on his loans, never mind the principal. His fiancée was if anything even more oblivious, hoping that he wouldn't "wind up in one of those time-gobbling corporate law jobs" that he would never get, all because "[w]e like hanging out together". (While he stiffed his creditors, somehow he and his brainless bit of stuff appear to have found the money for a "Boho-Chic Wedding", whatever that means.) Yet Wallerstein was "one of law schools’ satisfied customers" on account of the "prestige" of nominally being a lawyer.

"Do you hate law grads yet?" asked our psychiatrist. Yes, we do. Even those of us who are law grads ourselves. And Wallerstein is particularly odious. The psychiatrist called him an "intelligent but entitled douchebag". I disagree with the "intelligent" part, but the rest is true in spades.

The psychiatrist ripped into the garbage-purveyors at You Ass News and the scamsters who manipulate the worthless "rankings" for status and profit, but also exposed the plight of graduates who find themselves all but indistinguishable from the rest because they too are not meaningfully assessed:

Law students had no real measure of their status as an applicant; no reliable descriptor of what kind of a school they went to (short of branding); and no reliable measure of their performance there.  "What do you mean I can't get hired?"  They think to themselves,  "amn't I bright? Hard working? Fluent in legal theory?"  And the employers respond, "how the hell would we know that?"

Back to the douchebag Wallerstein and his coveted "prestige" of being a document-review monkey masquerading as a lawyer:

I don't doubt for a moment he sincerely believes he is a lawyer, because lawyer for him isn't a profession or even a job, it's a label, a code word for a kind of intellectualism he wants for himself.  As long as "all of my friends see me as..." it was well worth the cost.  He didn't study to become an attorney, he bought a back-up identity.

It's worth asking why Wallerstein chose a JD as a back-up identity, and not an MD or a PhD.  Can we agree it was easier?  Why not an MBA?  Because an MBA is for something else; a law degree is a brand in itself.  You can get an MBA and still be nothing unless you find a job.  Get a law degree, you're always a lawyer.

That may be correct (with one slight change: one has to maintain a license in order to be a lawyer). An undeserved intellectual cachet attaches to the JD. Lemmings from Maine to California are told that "you can do anything with a law degree". The magical "million-dollar" JD supposedly sets one head and shoulders above the generality. An MBA is nothing without an overpaid corporate job in so-called management, but a JD is thought to represent quality whether its bearer works in the field of law or not. Perhaps there was something to that sixty or seventy years ago, but how much intellectual superiority can the JD connote in a day—a very bleak day—when über-toilets raffle off "scholarships" to people who haven't even applied for admission?

On the prestige of a law degree:

In actuality, law school is utterly useless. The only thing that was useful was the writing class, which basically taught you how to argue thoroughly but efficiently on paper.

That overstates the outcome of the writing class. The few people who come out able to argue thoroughly but efficiently on paper were able to do so before law school. That said, "utterly useless" isn't wide of the mark. Certainly law school, pretensions aside, does not teach anyone "to think like a lawyer"; it doesn't even impart much knowledge of law.


I go through this to show you that law school, while it attracts people wanting to practice law,  also attracts college kids who are bright but emotionally adrift.  They don't know what they want-- besides a mental image of a lifestyle-- and they don't know who they are-- besides a mental image of an identity.  A three year law program is a great way to postpone reality and still have something to show for yourself.  

Again, law school also attracts plenty of people who are not bright. But this psychiatrist has put a finger on an important element of the law-school scam: just like an undergraduate program, it's an extension of high school. Thousands of lemmings leap into law school without intending to practice law; many others entertain fantasies of being paid six figures for saving dolphins or hobnobbing at cocktail receptions in Vienna. These and many others go to law school "to postpone reality" while collecting a faux-prestigious JD at the end (unless they fail out, as many do).

Lemmings can afford the frivolous venture for one simple reason:

[B]ecause all law schools are free.  Read it again.  All law schools are free.

Not after you graduate, of course, but right now.  Law schools can charge anything they want because everyone has enough money to pay for it- today.  As long as there are guaranteed government loans available for this, there is no economic incentive to lower the costs.  And as long as the price is zero, demand will always be infinity.

If it was true supply and demand, #1 ranked Harvard and #100 ranked Hofstra wouldn't have the same tuition.  But they do, the same as stupid Washington University, which is so stupid it's in Missouri.  "It's underrated."  Bite me.  Are we saying that Hofstra's worth the same money as Harvard?  That people would pay anything to go to Hofstra?  No, they don't have to pay anything to go to Hofstra.  That's the point.

The psychiatrist correctly excoriates scam-professor Steven Greenberger for proposing to address the high cost of law school through a warning like those put on packages of cigarettes. That kind of warning, which the scamsters haven't given even once in the many years since Greenberger made his scam-serving suggestion, would afford a handy to excuse to the scamsters while failing to deter significant numbers of lemmings. 

I don't agree that supply and demand would solve the problem. Even without student loans, Hofstra could charge high rates because there is no real competition: the choice is not between Hofstra and Harvard; it is between Hofstra and nothing. Nevertheless, I do agree that non-dischargeable student loans should not be available for law school, at least in the current free-for-all of arbitrarily large amounts for anyone whom some goddamn über-toilet choo$e$ to admit. Those who worship at the altar of free markets—Old Guy certainly isn't among the devout—should demand that the loans be dischargeable in bankruptcy. As things stand, federally guaranteed student loans underpin the contemptible and pernicious hackademic–industrial complex.

Monday, February 1, 2021

The Law-School Scam is just one ugly part of the Degree Scam

The Law-School Scam, exhaustively discussed by your dutiful servants here at OTLSS, is only one small part—a particularly ugly one, I admit—of the Degree Scam. To understand the Degree Scam, we need to review a bit of history. So gather around Old Guy, boys and girls, and let him tell you a story.

For most of the first half of the twentieth century, few children in the US went on to high school. Many did not finish elementary school. Black, Latino, Indigenous, and rural white people were especially unlikely to attend school for more than a few years, if that.

By World War II, high school was common in most places, though by no means all—for white people, that is. Black people in many areas—not just the Southeast—were still deprived of high school or at best were sidelined into "seg" dumping grounds. Much the same was true of other racialized groups; indeed, it is still more or less true today. Of course, with so few students going to high school, university degrees were rare.

The end of the war marked the beginning of a distinctive generation, the baby boomers, so called because of a spike in the birth rate that extended from 1946 almost until the mid-sixties. The baby boomers profited handsomely from the economic upswing that followed the war—especially in the US, which, unlike much of the rest of the world, emerged practically unscathed. The French call the period from 1945 to the early 1970s the thirty glorious years (les trente glorieuses), and for good reason, because it was unusually prosperous. Simply by chronological accident, the baby boomers reaped the fruits of cheap housing, cheap goods, high wages, rapid growth, nearly full employment (at least among white men, and increasingly among white women and some racialized populations), abundant opportunities. The baby boomers tend to credit themselves for what was really nothing but dumb luck.

As I mentioned, few people in the US went to university. That changed with the baby boomers' cohort. Since most baby boomers had attended high school (unlike the generations before them), they were admissible in principle to university. Various social changes drove many of them to enroll for a bachelor's degree in the 1970s, including the civil-rights movement (which increased blue-collar employment for Black men while also displacing many white men, thereby leading the latter to look into other options) and the fizzling out of les trente glorieuses.

University was so cheap in the 1970s that a baby boomer could work during the summer at some low-paying job—grocery clerk, telephone operator, whatever—and save enough money to cover tuition for the entire following year. A degree back then set a baby boomer apart, precisely because degrees were so uncommon. Many down-at-heel white people and even some racialized people were able to get good jobs in engineering, law, business, teaching, other domains. But even blue-collar employment, at least for able-bodied men, still paid so well that a factory worker who had never finished high school could typically afford a house, a car, and various other trappings of comfortable life, all while accumulating a defined-benefit pension and enjoying other valuable benefits.

Things changed rapidly for the worse in the early 1980s, which is why the idiotic far right nowadays talks of "making America great again". Cushy blue-collar jobs were drying up while decadent white yuppies blew everything that they had and more on high living. Old Guy's generation, namely Generation X, were urged to finish high school, because prospects for dropouts were rapidly deteriorating. Old Guy remembers hearing in the late 1970s that soon one the job of garbage collector would require a high-school diploma. His was the first generation in living memory that made less money than the one before.

Just a few years later, when Old Guy did finish high school, Generation X was being told to go on to university, as a high-school diploma was worth next to nothing. And the universities needed lakes of young blood on which to feed their bloated staffs of baby boomers. Thus Generation X was herded into universities, which happily instituted remedial programs for the hordes of "students" unable to read their high-school diplomas. By then, however, university was no longer cheap; nobody could pay for it with the money saved from bagging groceries the prior summer. It was terribly expensive, and those of us with no trust fund or Daddy Warbucks had to borrow five-figure sums at high interest in order to pay for it—without access to bankruptcy, a cherished tactic of baby-boomer yuppies eager to rid themselves of responsibility for their irresponsibility.

Generation X finished university with poor prospects. The few jobs to be found were often temporary, short-term endeavors. The word pension sounded obsolete. When everyone and her pet gerbil had a bachelor's degree, the things were all but worthless. How else to distinguish oneself but with a master's degree? (The baby boomers themselves had just come out of their fad of pursuing an MBA, often at an employer's expense. But an MBA or any other degree loses its prestige when everyone in town has a fistful of them.)

Naturally, the Degree Scam, already well under way, was delighted to expand the offerings. Sign up for a Master's of Fine Arts, a Master's of Creative Writing, a Master's of This, a Master's of That! And of course law school is the all-purpose solution, since You Can Do Anything with a Law Degree (cue jaunty music from the Roaring Twenties). So law schools spread like kudzu to the point that you could hardly throw a brick without breaking the office window of some fat-assed boomer pig who wolfs down red-velvet cupcakes while being fanned by her rented slaves on a package tour in Kenya or some born-with-a-silver-spoon-up-my-ass princess who oppresses those with the temerity to criticize her scholarshit about the Open Road. Insidiously, the boomer scamsters touted their extremely costly offerings—funded with non-dischargeable federally guaranteed student loans at high interest rates—as opportunities for racialized and other groups on the receiving end of discrimination, without drawing attention to the fact that a bunch of mostly white, upper-class scamsters were lining their pockets with the proceeds of this allegedly eleemosynary campaign.

Generation X was royally fucked by the baby boomers, but it must be said that Generation X was also the last generation for which university made any financial sense at all (just barely, in Old Guy's case). Conventional Wisdom™ dispensed by the boomers, who fancy themselves the fount of all knowledge, treats "education" as an "investment". Careful readers will note the propagandistic bait-and-switch ploy that equates education (properly understood as self-cultivation) with institutional dispensations (degrees issued by universities) and investment (placement of money for an anticipated gain) with expenditure (payment of whatever monstrous amount the universities demand). (On the subject of "investment", note politicians' tendency to speak of investments rather than expenditures. "We are investing $1 billion in our armed forces." No, you are spending—squandering—that money.) If going to university were truly an investment, we'd expect to see an analysis of the expected gains and the risks. Yet we never see one. Instead, paying whatever the universities charge is an "investment", and that's the end of the matter.

What worked for the baby boomers, however, does not work today. The baby boomers paid pocket change for their degrees and got good jobs. Hell, baby boomers without a degree, without even a high-school diploma, were better off than most of today's young graduates of law school, even before we take student loans into account. So tell the baby boomers to stick their Conventional Wisdom™ up their ass. Don't fall for it.

It is difficult to encourage independent thought in the anti-intellectual US, but Old Guy is going to try. Consider that your effort to break into the legal "profession" would require at least seven years of university, not to mention preparation for one or more bar exams. During that time, your earned income is likely to be very low. Instead of going for a mythological career in law, you could get a job right after high school, live cheaply, save much of your income, invest in index-linked ETFs with low managerial fees, and be well on your way to an early retirement while some dolt of your age is still struggling with the formation of contracts over at Cooley. Or you could go to trade school, work as a paid apprentice, and be fully licensed around the time that dolt first showed up for classes in a Cooley sweatshirt. By the time the Cooleyite in the polyester-covered mortarboard was applying for food stamps and receiving bills for student loans well into the six figures, you'd have a respectable nest egg, and almost certainly far better prospects of income for the rest of your days.

Knowing full well that few of his readers will perform the exercise described above, Old Guy will reduce his recommendations to a form that will fit on an index card, if not a bumper sticker:

1) Consider university if you are going into medicine or nursing AND can succeed AND have figured out how you are going to pay for it AND have a serious Plan B.

2) Go ahead and attend university if you have the money to blow on it AND don't need to earn an income with the anticipated degree.


If you've already finished university and are now contemplating law school, the advice is the same, except that you can drop item (1).

Friday, January 1, 2021

Which law schools are worth attending? Part II

Just over six years ago, Old Guy posted his first article here to answer an important question: which law schools are worth attending? Using a simple but reasonable model and the data supplied by our friends at Law School Transparency, he concluded that 13 schools—Berkeley, Columbia, Chicago, Cornell, Duke, Harvard, Michigan, Northwestern, NYU, Penn, Stanford, Virginia, Yale—were "the only ones that anyone not independently wealthy should consider". Just maybe the total could be raised to 16 by including three marginal schools that people paying little or nothing might consider as long as they understood that "they [were] taking a big risk".

This recent report by Andrew Gillen of the Texas Public Policy Foundation revisits Old Guy's question. Pointedly entitled "Objection! Law schools can be hazardous to students' financial health", the report assessed law schools' performance and relative value by applying "a debt-to-earnings test called Gainful Employment Equivalent (GEE)" (at 1) to data from the US Department of Education. Of the 218 law schools (not all accredited), 168 had publicly available data; the others were so small that the Department of Education concealed their data so as to protect the privacy of students and graduates (at 2).

How many schools met Gillen's standard? Exactly as many as Old Guy cited in his more generous estimate: "of the programs with data, only 16 (10%) law schools pass GEE, with another 30 (18%) on probation. A shocking 122 (73%) law school programs fail GEE. Thus, almost three quarters of law school programs leave their typical student borrower with a debt so high relative to their post-graduation earnings that they are unlikely to be able to afford to make their student loan payments" (at 2).

The following are the schools that passed GEE (at 5–9):

  • Berkeley
  • Boston College
  • Chicago
  • Columbia
  • Connecticut
  • Harvard
  • Iowa
  • Michigan
  • Northwestern
  • NYU
  • Penn
  • Stanford
  • Texas
  • Vanderbilt
  • Virginia
  • Washington University in St Louis

This list will surprise the esteemed readers of Outside the Law School Scam for including several mediocre institutions while omitting some well-regarded ones. Most of the mediocrities barely scraped through. As for the missing élite institutions, please note that Cornell, Duke, and Yale were omitted for want of data, probably because relatively few of their graduates took out student loans.

Since Gillen's data come from 2015–16, the report amusingly includes the über-toilets that have shut down since that academic year, the first of which was Indiana Tech.

Gillen aptly observes that "only 15% of law school graduates attended a program that passed GEE. Another 17% attended a program on probation [by the Department of Education]. An astounding 68% of law school graduates attended a program thath fails GEE, indicating that the typical graduate ho borrowed will be unable to afford their student loan payments. In other words, for every law school graduate from a passing program, there was one graduate from a program on probation, and four graduates from a failing program" (at 2).

A glance at the five-page list of law schools shows that debt, where reported, is typically well past $100k. The following had median debt in excess of $185k (and remember that this was five years ago): Florida Coastal ($198,655), Whittier ($196,008), Thomas Jefferson ($195,892), Southwestern ($193,653), Arizona Summit ($188,191), Charlotte ($188,985). Small wonder that four of these six are defunct (well, Thomas Jefferson still operates, just without ABA accreditation) and that at least one of the others has one foot in the grave. In the department of earnings, the long-reported bimodal pattern stands out in sharp relief: 7 schools have median earnings above $150k, 19 have median earnings below $40k, and most of the rest seem to be close to the lower end (perhaps below $55k).

Unsurprisingly, high debt often accompanies low earnings. Of the six mentioned above where median debt exceeds $185k, the highest median earnings were $45,200 (at Arizona Summit, in case you care to know). Arithmetic could not have informed many decisions to enroll at über-toilets where the median debt is more than four times the median earnings.

Old Guy is grateful for Gillen's effort but wishes to point out that median earnings at the time of graduation are unlikely to last: even those few who get jobs paying $150k or more are likely to lose those jobs within three or four years—and find themselves unable to make comparable money again. Borrowing $183,857 to go to NYU, or $129,030 for Vanderbilt, is likely to turn out badly when the income that supports the high payments proves temporary. In addition, the median figures may be misleading. Harvard's median debt of $133,617 may appear manageable, but remember than many students get the entire cost paid from a trust fund or a parent's bank account and thus do not borrow anything, while many others borrow all or nearly all of the cost and thus run up a debt in the vicinity of $362k at graduation (figure from Law School Transparency). Debt around $362k is unaffordable even on a median income of $158,200. Similarly, median earnings often conceal a great deal of variation—especially at the bottom end, with quite a few graduates being unemployed or making little money at a temporary, part-time, or non-legal job.

Old Guy therefore stands by his original list. Perhaps Vanderbilt can be appropriately added (it was one of the three marginal candidates on Old Guy's extended list of sixteen schools), and Old Guy is willing to entertain arguments on behalf of Boston College, Connecticut, Iowa, Texas, and Washington U, especially for applicants receiving a full scholarship. Gillen and Old Guy differ on three or four schools (presumably he would accept Cornell, Duke, and Yale even though their data are not public), which is to say that they substantially agree—and that should come as no surprise, since their analyses are based on relevant facts and logic, not on arbitrary "rankings" by some long-defunct magazine or propaganda from admissions offices or pie-in-the-sky fantasies by lemmings who expect to achieve a financially successful career even though most new JDs today do not.

Although we can argue about the merits of individual law schools, the key point is that only about one school in twelve works out adequately for the median student when we generously and unrealistically assume that income shortly after graduation will not decline until the student loans are paid off. Anyone considering a law school can start with Old Guy's list or Gillen's (the latter should be supplemented with Cornell, Duke, and Yale) but must perform the financial analysis in light of individual circumstances. Perhaps UCLA on a full scholarship wouldn't be a horrible idea for you even though Harvard with no scholarship—and no trust fund or benefactor—would be. 

Gillen's final paragraph (at 4) can appropriately end this article as well: "Among the riskiest of the largest academic fields is law. Seventy-three percent of law schools fail these debt-to-earnings tests, and 68% of law school graduates attended a program that fails. Students should think twice about enrolling in one of these failing programs, and policymakers should stop providing taxpayer subsidies for them."