Sunday, February 4, 2024

Wilmington University in Delaware opens über-toilet

Bucking the trend of closures since the second half of 2016, Delaware's Wilmington University opened an über-toilet law school last autumn. Despite forecasting an inaugural class of 65 students, the über-toilet got only 20. Indiana Tech did about the same: actual enrollment was less than one-third of the pie-in-the-sky prediction.

Phillip Closius, dean of this dump, risibly explained the shortfall: "I just over-estimated it.… I had no experience dealing with a school that was new and seeking accreditation. We didn’t get in front of enough people to produce those numbers." Indeed, he evidently had "no experience"—and didn't bother to glance at the histories of similar failed ventures, such as Indiana Tech.

Although we at OTLSS have not found any information about the LSAT scores of the twenty fools who signed up at this dive, Harvard need not quake in its boots at the thought of sharp competition from Delaware. One hundred three people applied, and Closius claims that twice as many were needed for a class of 65. The claim seems questionable: had there been twice as many similarly situated applicants, we should have expected enrollment around 40. Perhaps he meant that the hypothetical second slate of 103 applicants would have been much poorer and much more likely to matriculate. Or perhaps he just can't do arithmetic.

And now it's time for the obligatory announcement that Wilmington is a Different Type of Law School™. Closius again: "There was no reason to open up a new law school that’s doing exactly the same thing as 190 other law schools." Quite so. What, then, sets Wilmington apart from the pack?

Wilmington Law aims to distinguish itself with relatively low tuition — the current cost is $24,000 a year — and a focus on preparing students for the bar exam. Class assessments are designed to mimic the format of the attorney licensing exam, Closius said. The school will also emphasize hands-on learning through externships, he added.

Let's work through this item by item.

A law school can be expensive despite "relatively low tuition", thanks in large part to the cost of living and other expenses. It can also fail. Indiana Tech did, right after giving the entire student body ZERO tuition; Golden Gate is closing now after doing the same for all full-time students. Law schools with an unbroken heritage going back to the nineteenth century, such as the notorious Valpo, have gone tits up. Why should Wilmington be viable? Where exactly is it getting the money to operate with a faculty of 7 and a student body of 20? That's not even half a million dollars of revenue, far too little for operating expenses.

We hear, however, that the new über-toilet Jacksonville University College of Law doubled its entering class to 27 students last year after drawing only 14 upon opening in 2022. That's still too few students for sustainability, by Old Guy's estimates. And infusions of cash into a law school can quickly sink a parent university: Indiana Tech, once again, provides a fine example, and even the U of Minnesota is hurting from the millions of dollars' worth of subsidies needed to keep its upper-fourth-tier law school afloat.

The "focus on preparing students for the bar exam" tells us two things: 1) Wilmington, like many other über-toilets, will be a glorified bar-review course; 2) already Closius & Co. know damn well that their charges will struggle to pass a bar exam, because they're admitting students of low calibre.

And "hands-on learning through externships"? Ho-hum. Other law schools say exactly the same thing, without yielding results to match the rhetoric. Emphasizing "externships" as a vehicle for "hands-on learning" amounts to an abrogation of the duty to teach. And who the hell in Wilmington is going to offer "externships" to a couple of dozen über-toileteers?

In sum, Wilmington is indeed doing what 190 other law schools are doing—or perhaps I should say 160 or so, to exclude the élite and near-élite schools.

Admit it Closius: 1) you don't know what the hell you're doing; 2) there just isn't any practical or innovative way to make minimally competent lawyers of the lousy human material that your unneeded shit pit of a law school attracts. Unlike you, Old Guy has actually considered what would be needed to run a law school for Wilmingtonian über-toileteers: maybe a dozen years or so of demanding full-time instruction, starting with remedial training in reading, writing, and logic long before introducing anything to do with law. Some of your so-called students might complete the program, but it would be painful for all—and Old Guy isn't volunteering to teach it. 

Wilmington has sunk tens of millions of dollars into buildings that seem to excite Closius more than his shitty students and shitty law school. Indiana Tech and Thomas Jefferson are but two über-toilet law schools that pissed money away in precisely the same manner, only to have to vacate the new facilities almost as soon as they had moved in.

Prediction: This pig of a law school will fail to thrive. Old Guy doesn't expect it to survive four years.

Other news:

High Point University — a private, Christian university in North Carolina — is moving ahead with plans to launch a new law school next August. Applications for the coming school year will be available in September, according to its website.

Just what we need: a god-bothering private joke of a university with a new über-toilet of its own, in a state that lost a horrible law school (Charlotte) just a few years ago and still has far more law schools than it needs. Expect an update from OTLSS as information comes to light.