Friday, June 14, 2019

Who Needs Accreditation, Anyway?

No one ever had to accredit Thomas Jefferson The Man.  He had swank digs, a good lot of slaves, and a mind for the Enlightenment.

So why break the balls of Thomas Jefferson The School?  Were they not trying the exact same thing as the critics imagine it, repurposed for modern times like when HBO thought Native Son needed a makeover?  A corporation of modest, sustainable annual profits built on unpayable indentures?  A thirst for justice and improvements to democracy?  A postmodern Monticello on the shores of the Pacific?

Yet here we go again.  The ABA's sub-whatever voted to strip accreditation from TJLS.  Blah blah blah.
The American Bar Association’s accrediting arm has decided to pull approval from Thomas Jefferson School of Law for not complying with standards related to financial resources, program rigor and admissions.
Thanks, ABA.  I'm sure the real Thomas Jefferson would give these assholes quite a rigorous admission.  At there's a silver lining:
Thomas Jefferson will keep its accreditation throughout the appeal, which is expected to take from six to nine months.

“The law school is disappointed by this capricious decision and strongly disagrees with the council’s findings,” it said in a statement.
Capricious, indeed.  What kind of a rule-of-law-loving organization so casually disregards established ideas of due process and impartiality and decides so capriciously after several years of investigation to give some poor multimillion dollar paper mill the effective death penalty?  Obviously, the ABA needs more lawyers on its staff trained at places that understand the legacy of Thomas Jefferson.  More from the TJLSs of the world and less from, say, the hoity-toity University of Virginia.

Maybe someday it'll be a fair world where the little guy can get a break and continue mortgaging the future for self-important profits.  Until then, fight the power and scam on.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Young Florida Lawyers Display Immense Job Satisfaction, Repying Debt at High Levels

Great news from the ABA Journal!  The Florida Bar did a survey of its younger/less-experienced members and the results are a resounding, unqualified success for Florida, its law schools, and its bar.  Really, it's a win for justice.  Pat yourself on the back, big guy, and know the line to suck your even-keeled balls is long but well worth it.

Most often, we use words to describe the brilliant grace of the law.  This preference arises from the fact that we, generally, are wordsmithy lawyers, trained in legalese and office persiflage but utterly lost when numbers show up, save, of course, when the checks come (and they do!).  But loving the law can be expressed quantitatively as well, and buddy, it's rainin' good stuff:
  • 60+% of young lawyers are satisfied with their professional lives and over 50% would run to sign up for law school again
  • 41% have found so much success in the law that they have dreamed of transitioning to other fields, presumably like teaching, writing, or being CEOs of multinational corporations
  • 79% are working less than 60 hours a week, providing an excellent work-life balance
  • 43% report feeling no anxiety or depression at all in the practice of law
  • in an especially highlighted positive finding, "66% said they enjoy performing the day-to-day work of the job."
The Million Dollar Express: who said it's hard to perpetually orgasm and drive a train at the same time?  Not this one-man think-tank, and if anyone has, I'd like to see the paper on SSRN.

The biggest victory is in the student loan debt department. Behold the glory: "The median outstanding student loan amount was $150,000."

How many times have you heard that common student debts from "unnecessary and predatory" fourth-tier "shit-holes" like Barry, Coastal, or Ave Maria run 200k, 300k, etc.?  Well, if we accept that libel as true for the sake of argument, these lean, mean, lawyering machines are rapidly paying down their debts, no?  Is that not basic math?

$150k for an early career practitioner is nothing.  Just 15 years of $10k in payments (plus a teaspoon of interest and a fee here or there).  These badasses can live large in Destin or Naples and should have no issue paying down their debts.  I don't even know why we have IBR much less Liz Warren.

It's obvious that sunshine is the best disinfectant when the Sunshine State has, apparently, been scrubbed clean of the "it's a scam!" virus. 

I mean, it is, but shit...

Scam on.

Friday, May 31, 2019

The Maine Course

If you're like me, sometimes you eat such rich lunches in this adventurous practice of law - because even if you have to settle for the meatpile-of-the-month at Arby's, the deft spice of social justice makes everything taste like The  French Laundry - that you don't wish to waddle your ass to the dining car in the evening.  Instead, on such nights, it becomes common to drink until The Express enters that long tunnel of hopefully dreamless sleep from which it emerges hours later into morning sunlight, the smell of franchise coffee, and a bushy tailed lawyer ready to law.

Tonight is one of those nights, the third this week in fact.  In that spirit, he's a shot and chaser - pick whichever you want to be one or the other, nothing matters any longer.  We're focusing on Maine tonight, so let's call this cocktail a, uh, Bloody Maine-y?

1.   Rural Area Lawyer Shortage Alert!

The Bangor Daily [phrasing?] News reports a dire situation for prospective exploitative legal billing in the partly inhabited part of Maine.
There are 30 lawyers per 10,000 residents in the Pine Tree State, compared with the national average of 40 lawyers per 10,000 residents, according to the Maine School of Law. Those numbers are sharply skewed to the southern part of the state, with more than half of all Maine lawyers living or practicing in Cumberland County.

That situation is expected to worsen over the next decade because of the average age of attorneys in Maine. As of 2017, about 1,000 of the 3,700 practicing lawyers in Maine were 60 or older. In rural parts of the state, 65 percent of lawyers are older than 50.
If this isn't reversed immediately, and technology forgets its efforts to make the law efficient, and there's an unexpected increase in legal work, Maine faces a dire lawyer shortage about 20 years from now. 

There's only one solution for this problem: the U. of Maine needs to pump out many more lawyers, particularly minorities who can bring diversity to upstate Maine AND do ace legal work.


2.  The U. of Maine is in the Red

Law school isn't expensive for students.  It's expensive for schools. 
From 2011 to 2018, the number of applications in Maine dropped from 988 to 574 – a 40 percent decrease. To stay competitive, the law school has increased the amount of money it spends on grants and scholarships.

In 2011, the school reported only a third of the student body got assistance on tuition, and that money almost always covered less than half of tuition. In 2018, two-thirds of students received financial aid from the school, and a quarter of them got half to full tuition. Tuition for this year is $22,290 for Maine residents and $33,360 for non-residents.

As a result, the law school has been in the red for several years, despite cuts to other spending.
This business has a monopoly on legal education in the state and still can't turn a profit charging what some fasci-communists would say is "too much."

I think it's proof positive that it's not enough in tuition.  Maine obviously needs more lawyers and is even subsidizing their deployment to rural areas.  And still, Maine Law is broke.  The solution for businesses in this situation is obvious:  raise prices and threaten/beg the government for crony handouts.  Thanks to federal loan dollars being funneled to law school coffers through nominally high tuition rates, the solution in this case is straightforward:  drastically increase the price.

After all, since there's really a demand for more lawyers in rural Maine, the financial rewards should more than cover it.

And when that happens, my friends, it's like grade A maple syrup dripping on hot buttery pancakes.

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Brutal Bigotry of Reasonable Expectations

Sometimes in civic discourse, pseudo-intellects of a certain right-wing political persuasion will discuss "the soft bigotry of low expectations" to concern troll against... well pretty much any minority-based progressive policy initiative save, possibly, adequately funding things like schools, which is simply ludicrous in a free market society.

It raises the question of whether there exists any bigotry in having high expectations.  Well, in the context of law schools, the answer is obvious:  YES.  MUCH MUCH BIGOTRY.

Case in point:  recently, the ABA accreditation folks adopted a measure requiring 75% bar passage within two years.  It's a stupendously dim proposal using an arbitrary number; assume 90% of Cooley's graduates land A-level JD-Advantage jobs?  And of course it's racist.  The ABA House of Delegates advised rejection of the deal with its past president noting that such a change would "decimate the diversity in the legal profession."

Requiring would-be lawyers to pass the bar exam seems an intolerable act.  When it unnecessarily punishes law schools for having the audacity of giving minority 140 LSATs a chance to defend traffic tickets, it's bigoted as fuck.

The LSTC vows to fight any such measures.  This accreditation rule essentially creates a segregated car on the Million Dollar Express, forcing us to uncouple it if the occupants simply aren't fit to practice law.  I'm fairly certain Brown v. Board is on point here.

At least some people still get it.  Shreveport, Louisiana, is one step closer to solving its understudied lawyer shortage.
"If you look at points south between Baton Rouge and Shreveport and west between Dallas and Shreveport and north between Little Rock and Shreveport and east between Jackson and Shreveport we have one of the largest geographic regions in the country without a law school," Glover said.
God damn that's good stuff.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Proposed LSAT Adversity Score Adjustments

What ho, good reader!  The year says it's 2019 and in our long progression of tea-bagging the thin line between parody and reality, the SAT now intends to algo-rythymo up an Adversity Score.  This ensures that the long tradition of wealthy white people rigging overly-complex systems to their advantage will continue unabated while middle class folks who bought homes near nice schools and, generally, second and third generation Asians who play it straight will continue to get rammed.

 It seems only fitting that the LSAT should adopt an Adversity Score to capture those sorts of students who might excel in law school but just not be good at logical reasoning.  I would like to propose we give a questionnaire to determine whether prospective law students should be given Adversity Points - and I suspect that most should, because let's face it: everyone's life has been difficult or else they're exactly the type of people law schools really really want.

 As starters, I'll suggest the following:

QUESTION 1:  Which of the following best describes your skin tone?
A:   Cocoa   [+10]
B:   Caramel  [+5]
C:   Cotton Candy  [+2]
D.   I am now hungry  [-20; diabetes is not a form of diversity!]

QUESTION 2:  Which of the following was closest to your house growing up.
A.   KFC  [+8]
B.   Chik-fil-A  [+4]
C.   An O.G. Asian restaurant with no English menu serving the best chicken dish you've ever had  (+5, International Law!)
D.   A home where a personal, dedicated chef wouldn't dream of subjecting his "clients" to fried chicken [+25]

QUESTION 3:  Describe the pool in your backyard growing up.
A.  My homie's blood after the police done him raw.  [Automatic T2 Admission]
B.  Urine b/c the plumbing never worked  [+7]
C.  A li'l crick that ran the length o' the holler up to the bend [+3]
D.  One of those metallic above-ground things [...just...rejected]
E.  An in-ground pool, you know, typical McMansion stuff.  My step-mom sat beside it all the time and pretended to read trade fiction.  [-10]
F.  Have you seen Hearst Castle?  [Automatic T1 Admission]

QUESTION 4:  Have you ever had to work for a living?
A.  Yes, doesn't everyone?  [+10]
B.  God no  [+10]

QUESTION 5:  Are you good at trigonometry?
A.  Yes  [+5; need STEM!]
B.  No, I was more into reading and writing and history  [+10; obviously disadvantaged]
C.  What's this trigonometry?  Like a gun thing?  [+5 and Automatic T4 Admission]
D.  That's a bit off on a tangent, wouldn't you co-sine?  [GOODBYE FAKER]

QUESTION 6:  Have you ever brought a woman to orgasm?
A.  Yes  [+5]
B.  Well, myself, I guess  [+10]
C.  No...  [0]
D. I paid attention to that [-10]
E.  The female orgasm is a physiological myth propagated by Zionist femininazi pigs [-50; but do you have a trust fund?]

QUESTION 7: Do you plan on taking out student loans?
A.  Yes  [+10]
B.  No, I believe in thrift and have saved for law school  [0]
C.  No, I have a trust fund  [+10]

QUESTION 8:  Do you believe that the Constitution is a living, breathing document?
A.  Yes [+10]
B.  O, Listen!  I can barely hear its desperate, short breaths and the slow, methodical thump of its redoubtable heart over the deafening cacophonous march of totalitarianism, of censorship, of fascism, of retrogression!  Its blood ink has faded with age and its paper skin wizened but, the document persists, and as a wise codger, we would benefit mightily from hearing its feeble but strong voice bellowing the priceless wisdom of experience.  [+11]
C.  Citing Stephen Breyer on this point...  [+12]
D.  "It depends" [+13]

And so on.

With enough questions, everyone's individual diversity and adversity can be accurately accounted for, ensuring that law school admissions are fair, rationally based, and entirely the broken turnstile for the masses that they were always intended to be.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Statistics for Lawyers and, Also, Your Test is Still Racist

Ah, Aaron Taylor.  He pops up every now and then in the sorts of high-class periodicals I peruse.  For example, in this article, exploring the relationship between declining enrollments and greater diversity at less-endowed law schools, which contains this outstanding footnote:
Hoards of so-called “scamblogs,” on which the authors, often anonymous, offer searing critiques of legal education, have gained popularity over the last few years. These blogs have tapped into the larger climate of frustration, generating attention and, of course, page views. Some of these blogs have contributed useful insights to discussions of legal education; others have contributed little more than snark. See, e.g., Profiles in Deliberate Misinformation and Dishonesty: Aaron Nathaniel Taylor, “Law Professor” at St. Louis University,THIRD TIER REALITY (Oct. 12, 2011, 6:25 AM), erate-misinformation.html (providing a particularly snarky assessment of my views on legal education).
Feel the burn, you gnarly whoreson!  If that isn't like lemonade on a sunny Saturday afternoon...

His latest triumphantly castigates the LSAT and law school admissions folks for being racist. I feel like I've heard this record before, but it feels fresh every. single. time.  So academics, don't worry - you can repeat yourself and still get tenure. Look at how often the Beatles get played on the FM radio,or the teeming millions who read this blog. People want to hear good shit over and over again.

The actual article is about "marginalization," a word omitted by the Orwellian press cited above entirely.  The piece deep-dives into this concept of marginalization, not just Du Bois-for-idiots but getting out the dictionary Scalia-style:
The terms marginalization and its lexical cousin, marginality, are both derivatives  of  the  word marginal.Thus,  the  meanings  and  conceptions  of marginalization and marginality descend from how marginal is defined.  The Oxford dictionary defines marginal as “[r]elating to or situated at the edge or margin of something.” Therefore, marginal is a relative construct denoting deviation or distance from some notion of normality, center, or power.
Smooth as the related word margarine, and not at all filling space like a high school salutatorian speech.

The article's real gem, however, is brash acts of grammatical/statistical dissimulation worthy of an immediate letter e-mail to prospective students.  For example, this glorious page:
Note that the upper chart doesn't support his thesis in the least; though it uses averages, a black student with a 152 appears to have a greater chance at landing a merit scholarship than a white or Asian student with a 152.  Confronted with this hostile microaggression, Taylor ignores it and pulls a denominator switcheroo, rephrasing the issue as the chances of a random student from said race independent of LSAT score landing a scholarship - which is simply restating the LSAT disparity coupled with the idea that merit scholarships are yoked to LSAT scores.  This indispensable variable removed, the racism of the imaginary 148 LSAT black student not getting a scholarship compared to the imaginary 155 LSAT white peer becomes patently obvious.

Elsewhere, the piece lumps together people with 135 and 149 LSATs to make some claim that low-LSAT whites have a higher admission rate than low-LSAT black applicants without even looking at GPAs or other factors, and at other places it makes logical presumptions without appropriate citation or premises (e.g., "[a]pplicants  who  apply later in the cycle are often less likely to gain admission, due to fewer available seats  remaining  in  the  entering  class").

In statistics terms, it sucks, but in rhetorical terms, it's amazing, perfect not only for law school scholarship but also indicative of the sorta thing that would thrive on the Plaintiff's bar or in a BigLaw managing partners' meeting.

Being blatantly pro-LSAT, Inside Higher Ed, of course, gave the institutional test-makers a chance to defend their hot garbage exclusionary tool:
"The trends we have observed in applications from African American candidates that affect outcomes include the factors that Mr. Taylor identifies such as submitting applications late in the application cycle and LSAT scores that fall in lower bands. We see other factors as well such as [grades] and age at time of application."
"We believe that the overreliance that Aaron criticizes is driven by too much focus on U.S. News & World Report rankings and, in some cases, a failure on the part of schools to understand that even if they choose to focus on rankings, they have room to admit a wider range of LSAT scores."
Emphasis added.  What a snippy, spiteful bitch.  It wasn't enough to successfully rebuke the adequacy of Taylor's work in single paragraph; she just had to knock the entire industry's ability to understand how averages and medians work.

As a leader of the industry's preferred white-power testing mechanism, she should know that the willful mishandling of statistics to do whatever the fuck we want is de rigueur for this industry.  

Without statistical obfuscation, the Million Dollar Express just doesn't run.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Small Firms Struggling with Grads Not Passing Bar? Solution: More Lawyers!

Here's Part III of's series on bar exam failures.

The upshot of this piece, reading through my $750.00 slightly tinted glasses, is that we need to pump more lawyers into the system in order to make sure there are enough bar exam passers to work at small firms and absolve them of any fretting about their "investments" failing the bar.

Unlike your typical law school brochure I'm only sorta making this up (instead of telling you the straight dope, which the brochures always do):
Because of Big Law’s tendency to hire from elite law schools that have for the most part maintained steady bar-pass rates, those firms have largely escaped the impact of the growing percentage of exam failures over the past five years.

But the reality is different for smaller firms and public sector employers that hire from a wider pool of law schools and can little afford to hold jobs open for graduates who flunk the bar.

...[L]ower pass rates are creating hiring headaches for the smaller employers that can least afford additional recruiting challenges.
To get the gritty, man-on-the-street opinion for what life is like among the lesser-fortunate firms, the piece features voices from 120-lawyer firms and 50-lawyer firms, unquestionably victims of the malicious squeeze upon bar exam rates caused by uber-jealous assholes who simply don't wear the suit as well.

Look, Skippy, just because you have a master's degree in statistics and psychometrics doesn't mean you can deny little Riley or Jordan the opportunity to practice law just because [preferred third person subject case pronoun] doesn't know how about affirmative defenses or arcane procedural rules like "jurisdiction." 

Apparently, some firms are even scandalously now waiting until lawyers are actually licensed before hiring them.  How the hell are young lawyers supposed to organize their financial affairs if they don't have six-figure jobs waiting for them at graduation?

The solution, it seems, is obvious:  we need to pump so many lawyers through the system and make the bar exam as easy as possible so people don't have to deal with this whole, messy "is this person actually qualified?" thing.  It's just not fair to anyone to expect lawyers to jump over some arbitrarily placed "bar."

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Most Delicious Soup

Karen Sloan over at has posted a rather intriguing, comprehensive examination of declining bar exam pass rates.  As a long-time proponent of big colorful graphs to assist leading superficial readers to obvious conclusions, I'm a fan.  As a bootlicker of the drug-induced American dream, I wish she would have focused a bit more on the 40-year marathon that ends in a full-body collapse at the finish line into a large pot of gold.

I particularly take issue with the tone, e.g.: analyzed the bar pass rates reported by schools to the American Bar Association between 2013 and 2017—the 2018 results aren’t yet available—and found that 42 out of 203 ABA-accredited law schools saw their pass rate fall anywhere from 10 to 20 percent. Thirty-five schools had pass-rate declines of more than 20 percent in those four years.

While their circumstances vary somewhat, most of those schools with pass-rate declines larger than 20 percent have experienced significant drops in their enrollment and applicants, as well as difficulties in helping graduates find legal jobs—making for a toxic stew of challenges.
Emphasis added - a toxic stew?!  That's a terribly inartful way to describe the delectable treats served in the cafe of the Million Dollar Express.  I would prefer it described as a playful but mysterious little dish.

It strikes me as particularly interesting that Ms. Sloan would select a soupy metaphor to describe the regulatory-challenged law school environment.  Searching my archives of Excellence in Law School Propaganda, I recall now-Chancellor and President of Syracuse Kent Syverud - while cresting the post-recession roller coaster - using a soup-adjacent metaphor to explain how the applicant pool had actually improved back in 2011:
Kent Syverud, dean of the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, where applications this year declined more than 11%, said it was a good thing prospective students now were more “clear eyed” about the risks and rewards of a law degree.“The froth in the applicant pool—those who were just going to law school because they didn’t know what else to do and everyone told them it was a safe bet—is pretty well gone,” he said.
For those unfamiliar with fine meal preparation, when you make a soup or stock with almost any kind of meat, bones, or beans, a froth or "scum" develops on the soup's surface that contains less-desired broken-down proteins and substances, so traditional cooking methods suggest to skim the froth and dump it on your most obnoxious child.  The recession, in other words, removed the least pure, least tasty law applicants, and in no way removed seasoning and vegetables, and in absolutely no way is the pot a giant crock of shit.

Perhaps, then, it is improper to call the current offerings to some lower-tier law schools a "toxic stew," but rather we should say "a much improved stew."  For imagine how insulting the dish would be to holier-than-thou palettes were the froth left in all this time.  The froth would now be lawyers instead of, one supposes, running tech start-ups or community organizing.  So if the soup somehow isn't to your particular taste, just be thankful you're not living in that dreary alternate reality where the only comfort to the bitter, radioactive soup is the extra thousands of lawyers floating around meting out justice like pills at one of those concerts the youths attend long before they have to pass character and fitness.

I, of course, find this soup absolutely delicious, not at all like the broth served in the soup kitchens of my mythical youth, and no one would dare to serve it cold as far as I can see.  So slurp it up, buckos.  Slurp it up and feel no guilt in asking for thirds.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Guess Which Enterprising Law School Offered Admission to a Teenager?

HYPO:  A gifted young woman graduates high school at 13.  Currently 16, she's set to graduate college this semester.  Crusty skeptics would say that a responsible law school interested in training professionals should not be in the business of enrolling a teenager who likely, by nature and through no fault of her own, lacks the maturity to practice in three years.  So, which law school is going to tell all of those deflated scrotums to fuck themselves and offer admission?

TRICK QUESTION:  The answer is at least ten!  She's actually enrolling at SMU, which is currently ranked... prestigious... by the U.S. News rankings.  It's where lots of good Texas lawyers went and isn't typically a recipient of angry spittle about being in the "third tier" or worse. 

MATH:  The "million dollar premium" was calculated based on a traditional K-JD all-star.  A 16-year-old who graduates law school at 19 gains an additional 5-6 years at the front end of a high-earning career, which, by my bar napkin calculations, increases the earnings premium to 2 million easily (compound interest, etc.).  The charlatans at the ABA and various accreditation offices are clearly robbing gifted students by keeping most of them from earning their six-figure potential at 20 years old.  This is fundamental economics.

ADVICE:  For any other minor considering a legal education, I would like to advise you that studying law is far more interesting than pretty much any other venture a teenager can involve themselves.  Malls, cars, music, sex, drugs - all overrated products of immature vanity.  In fact, fuck the idea of a social life alltogether - I've never met a teenager worth talking to, and boy have I tried!  The adult world is where all the fun is at. Don't you want to look forward to co-workers gabbing about NO COLLUSION and their NCAA brackets?  To get there, I can't think of a better detour than reading jurisprudential gems like Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1.

Shit, if she's a lawyer at 19 or 20, with the right ideological views she'll be in line for a district court gig while her age peers are just getting sworn in.  The Million Dollar Express has an infinite supply of track, after all.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Congratulations and/or It's Okay, You're Still Running a Law School

It's that time of year!  Again!

U.S News has come out with its newest rankings, where a dying publication reshuffles a few law schools around the rankings as they have been for a couple decades and everyone pretends it's news.

As is tradition, there is a cavalcade of 2nd-rate journalistic outlets using the pseudo-expertise pedaled by a 3rd-rate publication for fresh-take articles.  For example, this one's headline highlights UNLV being the "top 60," which is a polite way of saying it didn't quite make the top 50.

This one, about law schools in Georgia, has many hallmarks of the genre, the highlight of which is the passive aggressive dean quotes showcasing a master-class in academic public relations, where the winners have received self-evident proof of their greatness while the losers have liberty to challenge the very idea of ranking law schools.
  • Emory's law dean calling it a "top-ranked global law school" as if that's a real thing and suggesting that it teaches students to "think critically about the rule of law," whatever that means.  (Note: the LSTC is pro-rule of law.  Pro.)
  • Georgia's dean speaking in terms of "epic strides and buzzwording the school as the "nation’s best return on investment in legal education."
  • Mercer - which dropped 10 spots - saw its dean say this: 
We obviously would rather be moving up in the rankings in a year when our bar passage rate went up, but that underscores to a large extent the arbitrariness of the rankings year to year.
God, that's some good stuff.  Are your blood vessels not dilated?  Who needs drugs when you can read law school journalism?

Perhaps the biggest Congrats of the week goes to Concordia University and, by extension, the Great State of Idaho.  Concordia now has full ABA accreditation, which is like having a full metal jacket, although the only people blowing their brains out are the graduates 20 years into debt repayment. For now? 

The metaphor works:  there's nothing better in America than holding a loaded weapon or running a law school.