Saturday, July 16, 2022

The seven tiers of law schools: update

Our article "The Seven Tiers of Law Schools" is now more than five years old. It's time for a brief update.

That article was written about seven months after the start of the wave of closures that continues to batter the law-school scam. Two schools in Tier 6 (the lowest tier) are described as "soon to be closed".

Well, in the ensuing five years, fourteen schools have closed (or switched to state accreditation only), if one counts three campuses of the Cooley chain as separate schools:

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

All fourteen of these defunct toilets were in Tier 6. Several others in Tier 6 are apparently endangered, and even Vermont (Tier 5) and the U of Minnesota (Tier 4) seem to be tottering financially. 

Old Guy hasn't taken the trouble to appraise each surviving law school anew and make adjustments to the tiers, mainly because his basic position remains the same: below Tiers 0–3, all schools should be avoided. Those four tiers collectively contain only thirteen law schools—the very ones that they contained five years ago. It's true that Tier 4 is not altogether out of the question for those who get free tuition (a "full scholarship", in scamsters' jargon), so maybe there's still a point in reviewing Tier 4, in which case Drake, Chicago–Kent, Case Western, and a few others would be demoted. But Tiers 5 and 6 really need not be finely distinguished. And Old Guy has doubts about Tier 4.

Anyway, for convenience' sake, here is the updated list—now down to six tiers, the last two from the old ranking having been consolidated:

———— * ————

TIER 0: Definitely worth attending. Leap at the chance to enroll at one of these schools, even if you have to borrow the full cost.

*** NONE ***

Comments: Formerly occupied by a handful of schools, this tier has been vacant for years and is likely to remain that way until the second half of the century. Not for nothing is it named Tier 0.


TIER 1: Excellent choices for trust-fund babies. Others should seriously consider them while bearing in mind the very real risk of a bad outcome. You cannot, after all, eat prestige for breakfast.


Comments: No, Stanford, your jive ass is not in the same league as Harvard and Yale. Petulant Californian demands for representation in Tier 1 don't sway me one bit.


TIER 2: Rich kids should feel free to attend these. Others should not enroll without a substantial discount and should weigh the risk of a bad outcome carefully.


Comments: Formerly this category also included Michigan and Penn.


TIER 3: Rich kids are likely to consider these insufficiently prestigious. Others should not even apply without a fee waiver and should not enroll without a large discount, probably at least 50% off; even then, the risk of a bad outcome would loom large.


Comments: This category, which has shrunk considerably since 2010 or so, is the end of the group that, as of the last time that I checked (, saw at least 50% of the graduating class get jobs in Big Law or federal clerkships. I advise against attending any school below Tier 3. Even Tier 1 is questionable nowadays.


TIER 4: Expect a disastrous outcome at these unless you get tuition waived, have local connections, and intend to build your career in the vicinity of the school (no farther away than, say, an adjacent state). As always, rich people can go to one of these schools if they really want to.

Arizona State
Boston College
Boston University
Brigham Young
California—Los Angeles
Florida State
George Mason
George Washington
Georgia State
Louisiana State
Loyola Marymount
New Mexico
North Carolina
Notre Dame
Ohio State
St. John's
Southern California
Southern Methodist
Texas A&M
Texas Tech
Wake Forest
Washington and Lee
Washington University in St. Louis
West Virginia
William and Mary

Comments: Many of these are what Paul Campos has called trap schools. Others are toilets with employment figures that are better than those of typical toilets. All are best avoided, from the faux-prestigious outskirts of Tier 3 to the toilety outskirts of Tier 5.


TIERS 5 & 6 (combined): Tier 5 was originally described as follows: "Don't go near these unless you are independently wealthy, crave a little wind-up-toy law degree, and are too dumb to get into a school in a higher tier even after exploiting your rich connections." Tier 6: "The survival of these into 2017 offers an argument against the existence of a just god. Anyone who enrolls at one of these should not be allowed to roam the streets unsupervised." Now, in 2022, Old Guy's ranking of law schools merges these into one tier: "Hell, no."

Arkansas—Little Rock
Ave Maria
California Western
Case Western Reserve
District of Columbia
Florida A&M
Golden Gate
Florida International
John Marshall—Atlanta
John Marshall—Chicago
Lewis and Clark
Lincoln Memorial
Loyola—New Orleans
Michigan State
Mississippi College
Missouri—Kansas City
Mitchell | Hamline
New England
New Hampshire
New York Law School
North Carolina Central
North Dakota
Northern Illinois
Northern Kentucky
Nova Southeastern
Ohio Northern
Oklahoma City
Pennsylvania State—Dickinson
Pennsylvania State—University Park
Roger Williams
St. Louis
St. Mary's
St. Thomas—Florida
St. Thomas—Minneapolis
San Diego
San Francisco
Santa Clara
Seton Hall
South Carolina
South Dakota
Southern Illinois
Southern University
South Texas
SUNY Buffalo
Texas Southern
Thomas Cooley
Wayne State
Western New England
Western State

Comments: The distinction between Tiers 5 and 6 was not meaningful in practice, except for a handful of rich kids. None of these schools is worth attending: all are very likely to lead to atrocious outcomes. Anyone with potential in the legal profession can do better than these. If the best that you can get is a school in this tier, do not go into law; find something else to do with your life. By the way, any new law school that may be opened—and it seems that three or four are in the works—will presumptively start in this tier and will probably never get out. Special circumstances that are unlikely to be repeated allowed Irvine to get into Tier 4, and even its scam-dean never aimed for Tier 3.


GRAVEYARD: These have been shut down since 2017, the start of the unprecedented wave of closures in which the anti-scam movement played a major role.

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

Comments: Every one of these was in Tier 6. Outside the Law School Scam reported on the deaths—often colorful—of every one of them. Expect more closures still, but not nearly enough.


  1. Iowa is one of about 12 law schools where the average debt is less than the average first-year salary.

    University of Minnesota has a problem with job placement due to carpetbagging from elite school graduates. There are big law firms in downtown towers, where you can look out the window and see the law school, yet they don't hire from that school.

  2. I've said before that Iowa is actually one of the best options within Tier 4. If it played its cards right, and if it were located in a sexier place, it might elevate itself to Tier 3. (About the location: I have no objection to Iowa, a perfectly pleasant state. But the legal aristocracy regards it as a backwater.)

    You're right about Minnesota. Traditionally it would have catered to the Twin Cities and the rest of Minnesota, and its own graduates would have been accused with some justice of carpetbagging in Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, and the Dakotas. But graduates of Minnesota find themselves iced out of big firms in Minneapolis, which can easily draw from Michigan, Cornell, even Harvard. And Minnesota is in dire financial straits. The university is tired of subsidizing the laws school to the tune of millions of dollars.

    1. Why is U Minnesota law school so expensive, and so useless in the eyes of the university, versus other state flagship law schools?

    2. I don't know, but the law school at the U of Minnesota has been a financial disaster. Between 2012 and 2018, the university injected at least $40 million to cover budgetary shortfalls:

      Perhaps one reason is that Minnesota lies just outside Tier 3. Twenty years ago it might well have been in Tier 3. It thus doesn't get many people of Tier 3 calibre, who can easily see that Minnesota is a long way down from, say, Duke or Northwestern. At the same time, it cannot afford to settle for much worse, for that would only turn it into a generic mediocrity of the Colorado or Tulane variety. And as someone mentioned, big local law firms will prefer graduates of the upper three tiers.

  3. Ouch! But accurate-there's my state U, firmly in the new 5/6; at least I attended when it was cheap. Now the tuition reflects the rapacious student loan-driven times and is a complete ripoff.
    This list ought to be emailed to each LSAT applicant well before test taking time, as it's the only critical analysis that matters: will the newly minted JD be able to get a job paying the enormous loan bill. Here's a hint: for 90% of the law schools, the answer is "no".

    1. Ninety percent of law schools means all but some 20. That's about right. Tiers 1–3 together contain only 13 law schools—those 13 at which 50% or more of the graduating class get jobs in Big Law or federal clerkships. The point of that analysis is not that everyone should be going for Big Law or a federal clerkship but rather that those are the realistically attainable jobs that are likely to support payments on the enormous student loans that people typically take out.

      Someone a couple of years ago came out with a similar analysis:

      Enablers of the law-school scam, including the LSAC and the ABA, never want to talk about the likelihood of finding a job that will generate enough money to cover the student loans. No, they pretend instead that everything from Harvard to Cooley is a sound choice, the differences being mostly questions of lifestyle or individual preference.

  4. Ok, this story is a bit sketchy, as what attorney(s) anywhere would give this advice?:
    "he was frequently advised by attorneys and those around him that pursuing a law degree would leave him well off — and keep a roof over his head, even while in school — so he thought taking out student loans would be worth it."
    Even the few high-income attorneys I know usually warn people off law school because of the debt, but take a few moments to read the following. It's hard to imagine anyone made more bad decisions than this guy. The moral of the story-if you've got a job(he was a social worker), stay away from law school unless you're rich and it's free.

    1. First of all, Seattle is a toilet law school in the bottom tier (see above). Again, nobody should go to that toilet. Second, this dolt has not passed a bar exam yet complains about more than a third of a million dollars in debt.

  5. Glad to see you gave New Mexico it's due by it being a tier 4 school despite its lower stats. It's cheap for in-state, it gives you a near monopoly at job opportunities at law firms in Albuquerque and Santa Fe due to the protectiveness of the legal community and has small class sizes due to the natural of the state. Not a perfect option but it's a school where you do mostly get what you pay for.

    1. Oh, don't think that I'm recommending New Mexico. If the data on employment were a bit worse, it would be in Tier 5.

    2. I didn't say that only that you didn't throw it in tier 5-6 most would have based on the school's stats.

  6. Ouch! My TTT is Chicago-Kent. For a while when I was a student there it briefly made it to about 60 in the USNWR, but it has fallen since then. And of course I now know that all these schools are doing is fighting for the scraps. 30, 60, 100, 200 - it's all the same kids. It's all the same.

    I graduated from there 13 years ago. I lost 250K in foregone income, 100K in tuition, and I'm still doing worse than if I had remained an engineer. What a racket. And there are STILL people who think law school is a good idea.


    My sympathy for this guy is zero. There is a lot of information today that going to a law school like Seattle is risky. Taking on $340,000 of debt to do it is insane. We now have a generation of people who don’t do math well and eschew personal finance. And then he moves to Albuquerque? Hardly a place to start without connections. He is paying zero a month with interest accruing. He will be in the million dollar club. Well, at least it demonstrates this site cannot quit its mission.

    1. I agree. Anyone who doesn't hesitate to sign up for a third of a million in student loans is not fit for school.

  8. The scam continues, here from Tier 5/6. From Business Insider. Highlights only.
    Complete article at:

    Steve Pederzani was told that going to law school would set him up for a comfortable future. But he hasn't been able to land a steady job and is buried in $347,000 worth of student debt.

    After graduating from college and working as a social worker, Pederzani, now 32, wanted to continue helping people and saw a law degree as the next big step in doing so. As a first-generation student, he said he was frequently advised by attorneys and those around him that pursuing a law degree would leave him well off — and keep a roof over his head, even while in school — so he thought taking out student loans would be worth it.

    "I grew up in a working-class family, and I don't want to wonder when the next meal is going to be. I don't want to worry about putting food on my plate," Pederzani told Insider. "And with law school, everyone said that I'll never have to worry about those things."

    But after graduating from law school in 2017, Pederzani today has $347,000 in student debt that keeps growing. He took out graduate PLUS loans to attend Seattle University School of Law, which allowed him to cover the full cost of tuition, but medical complications with his fiancée delayed him from taking the bar exam, and their collective incomes took a major hit since his fiancée could not work.

    'Paying off student loans is the last thing on my mind right now'
    Pederzani said he chose to take out student loans to cover the full cost of attendance because he was under the assumption he would get hired once graduating and make enough income to pay the loans off. That's hardly been the case for him. After delaying his bar exam, he reached out to his alma mater for assistance in the job hunt to no avail.

    He was able to work as a clerk at a personal-injury firm for a short time but moved to New Mexico during the pandemic and jobs were in short supply.

    Since then, he hasn't been able to keep a steady income. While he is on an income-driven repayment plan that's allowing him to make $0 monthly payments on his student loans, the interest is continuing to accrue, and he said it'd take "a lottery win or buried treasure" to get out from under it.

    "We're not doing OK," Pederzani said. "Whoever told you that lawyers have instant tickets to the middle class, that maybe existed 10 or 20 years ago, but that doesn't exist anymore. It's not the same job market anymore."

    1. I know the tuition is high now, but that number still seems just way too high. Also if his wife medically can't work, then she should be on disability, and that's another issue. If that included her loans, I do believe that's one of the few ways to discharge student loans (the other being death).

      Regardless, he really has no excuse. People that went to law school pre-Great Recession were caught in a bubble, but after the NYT article, Campos, and the scam blogs including this one, even with making allowances for students that had already enrolled and some time for info to filter through, as well as allowances for the slower types, the non-wealthy should have stopped going before the class of 2014, let alone that of 2017.

      I suspect the scammers run bots/fakes on social media and reddit, as well as other comments sections because I always see positive accounts and high incomes in those types of places. The real numbers paint an obviously different picture, one that can not exist simultaneously with the very positive and six figure across the board results I see not just for law but for every graduate when these things are polled. I just refuse to believe this idea that someone making a six figure income, often nearing mid-six for these and over with combined income, is incapable of paying a student loan or is struggling on food and rent. It's just not possible, the math and economics in general indicate it surely isn't.

      The reason inflation and loans and everything else is a problem is because the salaries are just too low, and work is unstable for much of the population, including graduates of the higher education scam across the board. I do not believe any of this will change in my lifetime, as there are no real pressures to make a positive change, instead it looks as if our leaders expect to cut and run if things ever do fail, just as the crypto fund managers all did.

    2. According to Law School Transparency, the debt-financed cost of attending über-toilet Seattle is $280k:

      Throw in some "study abroad" or other costly recreation, and you can easily account for the difference.

      Almost half of the class get discounts in excess of 50%, in some cases 100%. And most of the rest still get discounts. So it would seem that this twat Pederzani belonged to the bottom-feeding group that got no discount at all or at best an insignificant one. In other words, he was among the least desired students at his über-toilet law school.

      And indeed there's no excuse for going to law school in the past decade. Information about the law-school scam abounds even in the scam-touting mainstream media. Even asshole scamster Lisa McElroy/Tucker mentioned the scamblog movement in her nausea-inducing autobiographical fantasy "novel" about law school. People know about it; they just sign up for law school despite all that we have said. And that's why I oppose the lawsuits that have been brought by mooching trash like Pederzani.

    3. And keep in mind that, according to the article, he was actually employed before attending law school. Yes, as a social worker so he wasn't making big bucks, but he had a job. The article is pretty spare with actual facts, but it appears that since he started law school, he's been employed only briefly(as a law clerk).
      So it's clear he was on the law school vacation plan, where loans guaranteed by the taxpayer have allowed this guy to not have to work, while moving from Seattle to Nebraska to New Mexico.
      To me, the scary part is the incredible bad judgment; can you imagine this guy doing any legal work of any kind competently? A simple will, represent a first time DUI-anything? At this point he's paying nothing back, and most likely will continue to do that.
      I'd say "unbelievable" but these stories pop up regularly, and not just law school; there have been several "I spent 300K for my two Master's degrees and can't find a job", and all the articles clearly blame someone else for the bad decision-making.

    4. Of course we wouldn't trust him to do any legal work! I wouldn't trust him to do much of anything.

      At my élite law school, during my third year, I asked a couple of classmates—who, like Old Guy, were among the top students in the lass—how many people in our class they would be willing to see as counsel for their mother. One of them said fifteen. I said ten. The other began to name names while counting on his fingers. Even being generous, the three of us couldn't come up with ten names; we counted only nine. And that was at an élite law school, not an über-toilet like Seattle. You probably wouldn't find anyone at a Seattle whom you'd accept as a lawyer.

    5. "Steve Pederzani was told that going to law school would set him up for a comfortable future."

      Who told him this? The voice in his head?

    6. Probably some ignorant baby boomer who thinks that this is 1977. Because university worked out so brilliantly for the baby boomers, they expect that the same will be true of subsequent generations.

    7. Steve Pederzani:
      "Whoever told you that lawyers have instant tickets to the middle class, that maybe existed 10 or 20 years ago, but that doesn't exist anymore. It's not the same job market anymore."
      Old Ruster:
      "No, Steve, those tickets didn't exist '10 or 20 years ago' or even 10 or 20 years before you entered law school in 2014. If you had asked young lawyers' advice about a law career even as late as 1994, they would have told you that law school, even without the then-common $80,000 of accompanying debt, is a dicey proposition at best, based on the tough job market, 3+ years of lost earnings, and employer expectations."
      " 'Whoever' is the biggest liar there is, and tends to point to one's reliance upon Hollywood's glamorization of the law as a career in place of any actual research done by the prospective student into his chosen field."

    8. The media make legal work look sexy. People get the impression that we lawyers are always doing showy stuff in court. We're not. Many lawyers never go to court at all. Of those of us who do, most spend far more time out of court. Even most appearances in court are rather dull: interlocutory motions, adjournments, scheduling… Believe me, it isn't like Perry Mason.

    9. I attended Stetson. Good trial advocacy program. Unknown outside the State of Florida. When I tell them the history as a former Southern Baptist University that was founded by a hat maker John B Stetson, I get lots of laughs but not much respect. I would only recommend it if you plan to stay in the Tampa Bay Area of Florida. If you plan to practice anywhere else, forget it. I am a native of central Pennsylvania; I went back after getting my JD at Stetson. I am a criminal trial lawyer so that part worked. The bad news is the financials never worked for me with this degree. I make 50 thousand a year as a full time public defender. That is the most money I ever made. I tried a private practice. The phone never rang. So I live in a one bedroom apartment. This is not what I had in mind when I went to Stetson Law. I got waitlisted at Vanderbilt and Washington and Lee. I never got in. This was the best offer I got. I agree with the publisher of this article. I have a very stressful job that pays 50 thousand a year. The only good news is that Stetson is not as expensive as other private schools. It was also a nice place to be while attending. However, working the numbers, I should have picked a different line of work. My job is too stressful for the money and it is hard to take a week off. Hell I can’t afford vacations anyway. In summation, I agree with the author. The numbers never worked for me. If you can’t get into at least Tier 3 (as defined in this article and not as defined by US News and World Reports), do not even bother with law school

    10. Thanks for sharing your story. And note that you're among the "successful". Plenty of your fellow graduates would kill for your job, stressful and unsatisfying though it is.

      Things might not have worked out brilliantly for you if you had been admitted to Vanderbilt or Washington and Lee. Since you made the waiting list at those two, you probably got a big discount (inaccurately called a "scholarship") at Stetson. You would have paid full fare at the other two, and you still would have been only in my Tier 4 (albeit at the top, not the bottom, of the tier). You might have found better work, or at least more money, but you would also have had a heap of student loans at high interest. That's another reason to stay out of any law school but the thirteen in my top three tiers. (That said, I'll allow that Vanderbilt or Washington and Lee might work out, at least in the Southeast, if you got free tuition—but both would be risky.)

      You're right about another aspect of toilet schools: they have no reputation outside their small region. (Stetson's region is not the entire Southeast; it is perhaps from Naples to Tallahassee.) If you are hellbent on attending a toilet and you plan to work in Pennsylvania, at least choose a toilet in (or very near) Pennsylvania; do not go all the way to Florida. Most people are within a couple of hours of a shitty law school, and there's no reason to go to some distant locale for another shitty law school unless you plan to stay there.

  9. Not sure that getting into a large law firm is actually such a great career outcome. Even if one manages to be among the 10 percent or so of all law students nationwide that get such a job, the average tenure of a first-year associate at a large law firm is about 4Y. In fact, 44 percent of these associates leave before their third year mark. (See supra). At the 190K per year mark, working 70 hours a week, a first year associate at a large law firm will make just slightly over 50 bucks an hour, pre-tax, with no overtime. Ask a successful, practicing lawyer not caught up in the big-law/prestige nonsense to do legal work for 50 bucks and hour, and he will walk away laughing. Plumbers and electricians routinely charge more than 100 per hour for their work, with all kinds of other expenses tacked on. Oh, and the prospects of a big law attorney who burns out after 3-4 years, in today's legal job market, are not rosy, not at all. You can easily spend 7Y or your life (4Y college, 3Y law school), spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition and living expenses, earning little or nothing along the way, sit for a tough 2-day Bar Exam, get top grades. . . .all for a job that ends after 24-36 miserable months. Large law firms love to churn-and-burn first year associates. Is that really such a great outcome?

    1. Indeed, it's a bad outcome for most, and a good one for very few. We've discussed that here many times. The point is that Big Law is about the best that a new graduate can expect to get—a job that pays $160k or so, while it lasts. And it's one of the few possibilities that can support—at least for a short time—the payments on typical student loans nowadays.

      You're quite right to point out that only a handful of people in Big Law become partners and that most are gone within a few years. What's more, Big Law does not impart useful skills. Many a "litigator" in Big Law has not conducted a deposition even after four or five years. People ejected from Big Law often find themselves unemployable, and hardly any of them can get positions with comparable salaries.

    2. For all but the tiny fraction who make partner, biglaw is really about the "exit opportunities." Rightly or wrongly, it's perceived as the best training there is. So the idea is that you stay for that 3-5 years, pay off your loans, and then jump ship to in-house, some prestigious government agency, or a smaller so-called "boutique" firm.

      These are doors that are generally closed to people without biglaw training, so biglaw is usually the means to an end not the end in itself. It's like a doctor's residency, which also has brutal hours and certainly doesn't pay as well. But here's the thing: You have to exit at JUST THE RIGHT TIME. There will be a sweet spot 3-5 years in where the recruiters are very interested. Leave too early and you're screwed. Stay too long and you'd better make partner, cuz you'll now be screwed unless you have a significant portable book of business. But with the right timing it's a good life, eventually, once you've gone through the biglaw "right of passage" and landed at the right "exit opportunity."

      I hate the law school scam as much as the next guy. But credit where credit is due. If you're among that subset that gets biglaw, and the subset of the subset that exits at just the right time with just the right amount of experience, that is a good outcome and you'll be among the relatively few people for whom law school was a good investment.

    3. Big Law is regarded as prestigious. As is often the case, the image is more glorious than the reality. Very little real training occurs in Big Law. Associates there typically spend their time doing one narrow thing, such as sorting through boxes of papers. When they emerge from Big Law, they cannot do very much.

      I've been very unimpressed with many of the people—partners included—at white-shoe law firms. What they have is pedigree. Big Law is for the scions of the aristocracy. It used to be the exclusive preserve of the WASPy aristocracy: not until the mid-1960s was the first Jew hired at a white-shoe law firm in New York. Female lawyers and racialized lawyers are also recent innovations. Those of undistinguished class background, such as Old Guy, are unlikely to be found in Big Law.

      And you're right about moving out within that narrow window of 3–5 years. Big Law works out, after a fashion, for those few who can hang on for seven years or so and bring in heaps of business through connections at Daddy's yacht club. Everyone else had better treat it as a springboard to something else—and hope like hell to last for four or five years, until those other opportunities materialize.

    4. Going from Big Law to in-house corporate seems a fairly common move; better hours but at reduced pay. I also know a few people who stayed on a Big Law firms but are not on any partner track- 'of counsel' position I think it's called. I have one friend, a former Big Law associate, who's still in Big Law, but in an HR position. Of course, I also know a former Big Law associate now doing document review- complaining about the low hourly rates.

    5. @8:56, yeah you do run into former associates on doc review. A whole lot of 'em who "got Lathamed" for example (Latham & Watkins laid off like 400 people in 2009, including first year associates who of course were nowhere near that sweet spot where recruiters would be interested).

      Biglaw is a tightrope strung over a pit; the pit houses all the law grads who didn't get biglaw. You need to make it to the other end and journey is brutal. Ever notice how they hire in classes? Well classes graduate. Getting axed too early is like flunking out, and staying too long (unless partner material) is like being the guy who takes 8 years to finish college.

      Fall off in the middle of the tightrope and you're in the same pit as the unprestigious grads, sometimes literally since many doc review temps work in the actual basement.

  10. For the unaware, "San Diego" is a reference to the USD School of Law and they are part of the University of San Diego aka "that private wealthy Catholic school on the hill." You never hear a peep from that campus or that law school, which is quietly ominous compared to what we know about UCSD and SDSU (which is a lot.) I'm half-expecting to read that they were doing something horrendous if or when the school is closed down.

    California Western, USD Law, and Thomas Jefferson SoL are all located in San Diego, and all are on the lists of law schools presented here as places to avoid. Thomas Jefferson is *still* doing prospective student meetings....on Zoom, even though their ABA teach-out plan runs out in 2023.

    1. Thomas Jefferson is indeed about to lose its ABA accreditation, but it is going to go on operating as a state-accredited law school. State-accredited schools are so bad that they don't even get a tier. We ran an exposé on them a few years ago. There was one called Larry's Law School or similar that operated in the space above a Mexican restaurant and that seemed to have had only five or six students in its history of many years. These institutions have notoriously bad rates of success at the bar exam.

      I put Thomas Jefferson and La Verne ìnto the Graveyard because their forfeiture of ABA accreditation (which they would otherwise have lost) puts them in that circle of Hell whose students, if they may be so flattered, are ineligible for federally guaranteed student loans and for the practice of law outside California.

    2. Thom Jeff is in a perfect spot to be a "ghost law school"; they work out of the old Bank of America office building downtown, they take up a floor, the landlord will cut them slack when the recession hits because they are using part of a building that may empty out. It's all play-acting as an LS, and due to only practicing law in California, the place will become even more of a creator of ambulance chasers, auto and industrial accident lawyers, and other low-rung solos across the state, the kinds of legal work "JDPainterguy" (John Koch, one of Nando's commenters from the "TTT" days) would have gotten had he passed the bar on the other coast. And if they can't get loans, the ones who will stick this out are the real sharks, the ones with two jobs who will pay cash to get a chance to help their friends out of fender-benders and get paid for it. And there are a lot of "rise and grind" types in Southern California, enough to keep the junk law schools going for years.

      ".....There was one called Larry's Law School or similar that operated in the space above a Mexican restaurant and that seemed to have had only five or six students in its history of many years."

      Sounds like a legal variation of those diploma-mill Bible colleges the Fundamentalist Christians run, like the ex-veterinary office Kent Hovind got his fake Ph.D. from, (Patriot Bible University) in the dinky town of Del Norte, Colorado. Or possibly one of those patent troll offices in Texas, where the troll comes in once a week to pick up his business mail, do a smidge of email and other bare-minimum office tasks before leaving, which is just as well because the space is like a shoebox and he may or may not have a window. We are a country rich in scams.

    3. Calling them a "creator of ambulance chasers" is a bit generous. In order to chase ambulances, one must first pass the bar, and state bar accredited schools are pretty much by definition not very good at getting people to do that.

      That said, believe it or not, in CA there is a gutter even below the gutters. Something even worse than "state only accredited" schools. These schools are just state "registered" meaning they're accredited by no one, neither the ABA NOR the state. Those schools are so bad there's a special "baby bar" just for them. This "first year law students' examination" must be passed after 1L before they can even continue with their studies, much less take the bar.

      Here's an example of one:

    4. Yes, California has unaccredited law schools. So do a few other states: Alabama and Tennessee among them, if I recall correctly. These are scams to the twelfth power. See this exposé:

      People's College of Law has been profiled here, in passing. Tuition is only a few thousand dollars a year, but the place looks like a bar-review program. Students are required to do much of the work of keeping the place open, such as running the office and scrubbing the toilets. The theme, as one might guess from the quasi-proletarian name, is social justice, and Old Guy is almost prepared to accept that in light of the absence of a profit motive (total revenues wouldn't pay for one scam-professor at an ABA-accredited über-toilet). But how much serving of the downtrodden do the graduates of this thing do? Few of them pass the bar exam. One advantage, however, is that the curriculum is fixed, so it is blessedly free of Intersectional Narratives of the Open Road or Hip-Hop and the US Constitution.

      Note the illustrious Larry H. Layton School of Law, with only six students in its entire history. Although it seems to have shut up shop, it formerly occupied quarters above a defunct Mexican restaurant.

  11. This post makes me laugh and also want to cry. I graduated from, according to the post, a tier 5 or 6. I could not pass the bar exam. In fact I barely graduated with a 2.1 GPA. Over time I got into manufacturing/factory work and I try not to look back. It is just too distracting and upsetting to do so. Yet I sometimes read this blog which is, by now, carried on by a single poster.

    I do follow the student debt issue in the news and Biden is going to do something about it soon, or so they say. But we will see.

    If student lending were cut off or cut back a lot of academic jobs would be lost and one would think whole towns which depend on a University or two would feel the economic impact. I read something about SLAB bonds being risky but that stuff always seems to bounce back and well..the whole thing is high finance and just too big to fail. 1.7 Trillion is a tidy sum after all.

    1. SLAB has zero risk whatsoever, they are federally guaranteed, it's better than a T-bill because the interest rates are so much higher. Obama tried to fix the student loan mess preemptively but none of the bond holders were at all willing to take a haircut, it was impossible to buy the bonds off of them with lump sums because they all wanted their guaranteed usury.

      The games the elite classes play are truly absurd, they rig the system at every level and exploit the masses relentlessly, yet the masses are unwilling to scrutinize them or attack them for it. The masses have been successfully propagandized with the mentality that the elite classes "work hard" "take risks" and "earned it". If they ever figure out just how ridiculous finance is, maybe they'd get mad, like slow to anger cows that stampede when enraged, who knows, probably not in my lifetime. Most of the "clever laws/legal fictions/business genius" is creative writing a toddler can do yet when forced through the system it's hailed as brilliance that nobody else can think of. Nonsense like Madoff's made up system was held up by our alleged sophisticated geniuses for decades, as told by old fables like "The Emperor's New Clothes" perfectly. LIBOR was poorly understood yet rigged. Anyone that calls this stuff out is called a lunatic while the rich run their schemes, and then if it backfires anyway the rich all claim nobody could have seen it coming, get bailed out while remaining smug and protected from any repercussions. Even the Gamestop stock thing was such an open powerplay, they just will not allow anyone to play the same game with the same rules.

      Well that's enough of this rant, ultimately though you are right that if the lending stopped the academic sector goes poof, but that things are also TBTF (tm). Worst case scenario I guess they'd have the Federal Reserve buy the SLABs and hold while harassing the borrowers.

  12. I forgot to add: I never talk about having a law degree. People just will not understand. I ended up leaving the law degree off my resume. It only hurt my job search. But I left my college degree on and I found work.

  13. Just finished a job interview as a paralegal where I had to say I wasnt a lawyer and hide my law degree. Otherwise I wouldn't have gotten the interview (I was asked this very directly early on by the recruiter). Oh what a worthless joke law degrees are! If you'd told 20 year old me that a law degree would be a stigma you'd have to hide I would never have believed you.

  14. I would rate them all as "Tier 5 & 6." Stay out of Law. The whole profession is scam on top of scam. Other careers don't require the same amount of time and treasure simply to try to enter the profession = You're being scammed from Day One. Are there decent people in the legal profession? Yes, but they're generally not the most "successful" ones. Just stay away. Mark 8:36

    1. Modern law schools are a scam. They say there are great opportunities for those who graduate in the top 10 percent of the class. My response is, if there AREN'T great opportunities for 9/10 of your graduates, what kind of a program are you running? People in other--real--professions don't have to get top grades or write for a journal to have good job opportunities post-graduation. Of course, people in other professions don't spend 7 years in higher education, and sit for a tough two-day Bar Exam to work for $19 per hour. Only lawyers do that SMH. . .

    2. … while shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars for the privilege.

  15. Applications fall 12 percent

    1. Prediction: LSAT scores at the 25th percentile will be slightly higher than last year's at a couple of schools, stable at many of the rest in the top three tiers and maybe a couple in Tier 4, and down everywhere else—most strikingly in the bottom tier.

    2. Applications may be down at the moment, but we have entered a recession. Three work-free years funded by student loans will be a lot more attractive than working at Wal Mart for a lot of recent college grads who can't find real jobs. If you read The Law School Reddit students openly talk about how they don't plan to repay their loans, and use them for "living expenses" and even to invest in the stock market, among other things.

    3. Don't forget to vote for Worthless Politician X, with a 302-point plan for total debt forgiveness!!!!!

    4. Dilbert has it right; for the vast majority of applicants, law school is a way to avoid real life for three years. When they're done, they then can whine about onerous school loans, acting as if nobody, absolutely nobody, told them that those pesky loans would have to be paid back.
      So they get to postpone real life for three years, get to avoid working at Walmart, and get to claim they just didn't know they'd not get 180K jobs in NYC with their tier 7 JD. And taxpayers will pay the bill, while the scamsters enjoy the riches.

  16. The Jacksonville Law School has a Dean:

    1. This new über-toilet will never get out of the bottom tier—or even into the bottom tier, for I don't expect it to achieve accreditation. Any bets on when it will shut up shop? Old Guy proposes 2025.

      Any upstart law school nowadays is doomed to the company of Cooley. The one exception, Irvine, had the power and prestige of the UC system behind it and also had enough money to buy its first three entering classes in whole or in part. Even Irvine failed to meet its goal of leapfrogging into the so-called top 20. It's just another Tier 4 mediocrity.

    2. Scott DeVito, former Dean of Florida Coastal, is back teaching commercial law at this new festering toilet that Jacksonville U. decided to flush 14 million down....

  17. Can I, as a foreigner who's never understood the USA law school loans system ask a couple of stupid questions?
    Did they really retrospectively change the law school loan system in 2005, so that if you'd taken out private loans in 2003 and 2004, the amounts lent in those years were no longer dischargeable after 2005?
    Can people really use their student loan money for actual living expenses, ie use it as actual cash given to them to pay for whatever, or is it all just paid to the University for fees?

    1. Yes, long ago the student loans guaranteed by the federal government were rendered non-dischargeable. Originally this was promoted as a necessity because students, who typically have very few assets, could put in for bankruptcy right after graduation and never make any attempt to repay their loans. But the extreme that was adopted was by no means necessary. In Canada, the last time I checked, student loans became dischargeable seven years after graduation.

      Student loans include an amount for fees and another for nine months' living expenses per year. Both amounts are determined by the law school, and there appears to be no limit, so of course the cost of law school (which most people fund primarily with loans) keeps rising far more rapidly than inflation. So, yes, students do get borrowed money that they can spend as they wish, and many of them spend it on more than a spartan existence: some use it to buy expensive condos or play the stock market. "Studying abroad"—really just glorified tourism—is another common expenditure. Law schools offer loads of programs of this sort, invariably taught in English by Yanks. I fail to see a legitimate purpose in "studying" law for a few weeks in Geneva or Shanghai when what is on offer has nothing linguistic or legal to do with the destination. Of course, law schools profit greatly from these programs, professors treat them as paid vacations, and students get academic credit for what is really recreation.

    2. That seems to be a little bit of an exaggeration that student loan money is commonly being used to buy condos. First, how would a student loan provide enough money to buy a condo for cash and second, what lender is going to give a mortgage if the only income is student loan proceeds?

      But it is true that using student loans to pay for room and board at school is what is driving this ballooning bubble.

    3. Well, I didn't say that it was commonly being used to buy condos. But we did report on one case of that kind:

      Why would a lender take a mortgage from this asshole? Perhaps Daddy was going to co-sign. I doubt whether the false promise of a cushy job right after graduation from über-toilet Thomas Jefferson would satisfy any lender, but stranger things have happened.

    4. Community Colleges are even more corrupt. You can enroll at a CC if you qualify for Pell Grants, and sign up for the bare minimum of classes. After about 6 weeks, the surplus funds are released to the student (the idea being extra Pell Grant money would cover books). Now, this is an unofficial holiday at my local CC; Check Day, they call it. Half the students will never be seen again. The surplus funds can easily add up to enough for a down payment for a car, btw.

    5. Not surprised 1:06. Pell grant max plus NY state TAP max equals $12,560 per year. CC tuition in NYC is $4,800/year. (4-year CUNY is $6,930) That's a lot of leftover money to spend. I'm sure a number of students register for courses, collect the grant money and drop out.

    6. Indeed, Pell Grant kids at a community college often get quite literally paid to go. The Department of Ed refers to a person who plans to drop out as soon as they get their check as a "Pell Runner" and they have announced efforts to prosecute such cases as fraud, but obviously that only happens in a small fraction of the most egregious/repeated cases.

      It's somewhat ironic that the reason this happens is simply that tuition at a CC is so LOW. Because a Pell grant is refundable and usually exceeds total cost at a CC, that's why it happens. Feels weird to think about a higher ed institution that may actually be charging too little, but there it is.

    7. Thanks for the information about the community-college scam. I hadn't been aware of it. Prosecuting that sort of thing for fraud would be difficult, as you said, because the evidence would seldom support that. Repetition, however, should be easy to prevent: simply require that the first loan be paid off before another could be had, except in cases that the applicant could justify (and the burden of proof would fall on the applicant). Maybe also pay any surplus out by the month, not as a lump sum, and cut it off as soon as the recipient stops attending classes or fulfilling the required academic standard. Exceptions would have to be made at the margins, but the problem could be managed.

      Of course, many people go to community colleges for vocational training. As we have discussed, however, community colleges have also framed themselves as cheap schools for the first two years of a four-year bachelor's degree. That too is a bit of a scam, both because it cannot cover all majors (in particular those that require three or four years of study within the major, if little or none of this is offered at the community college) and because large numbers of students who attempt this path do not complete it (though apparently the "Pell runner" scam has something to do with that).

    8. Do you guys have a citation for the assertion that student refund checks come from Pell Grants? My son was a recent CC student and any refund checks came from surplus loans that must be repaid, not Pell Grants.

      Hypothetical: If the cost of tuition and fees is $8k, the Pell Grant may cover up to $4k. Instead of borrowing just the remaining $4k, kid borrows $6k and pockets the extra $2k. But that $2k must be repaid.

      I had to explain this to my son after his eyes got real big seeing those "refund" checks.

      Sounds like your information source was conflating grants and loans

    9. I assure you that after almost 20 years practicing law I know the difference between a grant and a loan. Google "pell grant refundable" and you'll see it for yourself. Then google "pell runner" and see how people use that refundability to run a scam.

      If the tuition is so low that the Pell grant actually exceeds the amount the school is owed, which is common at community colleges, you receive the difference in cash.

      The same thing happens with loans if you choose to take out more than is owed, that's absolutely true and indeed it's how most grad students pay their rent. But at schools where tuition is REALLY, REALLY low, you can find no need to take out loans at all because the pell grant covers the whole bill and then some. The "then some" goes back to you as cash regardless of whether it was a loan or a pell grant. It's not the distinction between loans and grants that matters, it's the question of whether it is "refundable" or not, which pell grants are.

      It's like the earned income tax credit, where taxes have a similar distinction between nonrefundable credits and refundable credits. EITC is a refundable credit, so if you get so much EITC that your income tax becomes a negative number, you get the difference back in cash. It's a refundable credit. And of course there's lots of EITC fraud too for the same reason: It's possible for someone who paid no income taxes at all to get a "refund" thanks to the refundable credit.

    10. Go to a very top lawschool, work for a large firm and you too can be a Servant of the Damned. What a deal.

  18. The amount of speculation in this thread is wild. Law school is a scam, but the lack of quality in the comments don’t do the material any justice. You all sound like a pissed of pack of llamas! Anyway, apparently the dude had a woman jump in front of their car to commit suicide and while working out the PTSD accommodations with the school his fiancée had a necrotic tumor and almost died so they made the decision to just finish up the JD and go home. That and landlords in Seattle jacking rent up really rapidly apparently was the screwing blow that sucked them dry with the rent getting plugged directly into the Federal loan financial aid through the school.

    Is he smart? No lol he made dumb choices chasing a dream. But let’s not forget the scam here — the law school, considering especially Seattle University’s rank plummeted halfway through his program and the dean sent out a “don’t panic” email that assured many, including him, to stay.

    After all, why would the kid who always dreamed of working at the place that made the Pokémon cards drop out in the middle of an internship at Wizards of the Coast?