Thursday, November 8, 2018

Why Aren't Texas Southern Students Passing the Bar?

Why Aren't Texas Southern Students Passing the Bar?  It's such a mystery.  Better get one of those blue ribbon investigations!
Only 44.52 percent of Thurgood Marshall students who took that exam for the first time passed it—a rate that was by far the lowest among Texas’ 10 law schools and much lower than the pass rate that comparable groups of Thurgood Marshall students obtained in recent years.
...
[T]he law school has launched an investigation to figure out why the pass rate was so low.
...
It is too early to speculate why the pass rate was lower than normal, he said, but he is concerned that current students may transfer to other schools after seeing the low pass rate for the most recent bar exam. [The Superdean] said other schools do reach in and “poach” the school’s best students, despite Thurgood Marshall’s desire to keep them.
And he should be.  Normally, the healthy reaction to "poaching" is simply to admit more students.  Unfortunately, the bar examiners have to cooperate by not making the examination too tough for the lowest rung of would-be lawyers to pass.  When the bar examiners are unduly harsh on tomorrow's white shoe tap-dancers, it makes it incredibly difficult for schools like Thurgood Marshall to profit as much as their namesakes would want.  What are they supposed to do, hire ringers or else go the way of Valpo?

But, hey, let's have us an investigation as to why one of the worst(-rated!) law schools in Texas can't cut it anymore on some elitist, unwinnable contest because some grand poobahs in Austin think you need a fucking Fields Medal to make millions divorcing unhappy trailer park denizens.

I mean, for fuck's sake, the school's incoming median LSAT is 143 with a median GPA of 3.02 - and we're talking about astrophysicists at Cal Tech.  What the hell do you expect?  You're going to investigate that, really?  This is like the New York Times food critic suddenly running Rizzo's Pubic Hair Sub Shop and calling for an investigation as to why the ham doesn't quite taste like the prime jamon iberico that law deans nibble off the nude bodies of "performance artists."

"It's too early to speculate..."  Okay, Deano... let's do a full investigation.  Put together a panel.  Get Deborah Merritt involved.  Put Seth Abramson on the case.  Start issuing subpoenas.  Hold some hearings.  Consult the experts.  Write an 85-page white paper with citations aplenty. 

Doesn't change the fact that the bar needs to accommodate the school's disability of not being to find better applicants.  If that's not an ADA violation, it damn well should be, and we need tons and tons of lawyers, especially the dumb ones, to prove it.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Arizona Summit Gets Blast-Mined

I met a traveller from an Arizona land,
Who said—“A vast and empty cadaver
Lay in the desert. . . . Near it, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered Justice lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
Shaped well by the old Socratic Method;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
'My name is ARIZONA SUMMIT LAW SCHOOL;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Well, you finally did it, you caustic maniacs.  Arizona is back to two law schools, regressing the state's legal educative process to the hellscape of 2004. 

Everyone suffers.  Students have one less place to blow through hundreds of thousands of dollars in the worst way possible.  Arizona is deprived a key production facility for budding shitlawyers.  The bar examiners will see a massive drop in retakers.

But alas, some people can't restrain their selfishness.  That, my friends, is how empires fall.

The survivors will, as always, scam on. Let's sip somma that top-shelf booze 'n' remember the good times:


Sunday, October 21, 2018

PSA: The LSTC Will Offer Pro-Law School Consulting Services Much Better Than Relative Hacks in Valpo/Tennessee Case

Proof Middle Tennessee State needs the magical logical reasoning granted only by casebook/Socratic-style legal education after all:  when the matter was before the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the consultants retained by the commission were Aslanian Market Research (the fuck kinda name is that?) and Jane Sadd Smalec.

Problem: as far as I can tell, Ms. Smalec does not have a law degree.  This brings to my mind an immediate question: have not enough JD Advantage graduates been produced that these government-adjacent easy-contract consultancies are still using non-lawyers?!?!?  Oh my gosh, ABA, turn the faucet back on!

This blatant and regrettably systemic failure to understand the legal education marketplace is readily apparent even from this news summary, e.g.:
"Valparaiso does not have a good reputation," Smalec said during her presentation to the commission.
That's a self-own, Jane. As we all know, Valparaiso's reputation is dried dog-food solid.  The school is, admittedly, chronically underappreciated or, apologies to Spinal Tap, its appeal has become more selective.  But in the words of a rapper (somewhere): 
bein' niche
don't mean
thatta bitch
is in da ditch
So where did this idea that Valpo is somewhere inferior come from?  Oh, the other law schools in Tennessee seeking to protect their oligopoly, of course.
During the public comment period, both the University of Tennessee College of Law and the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in Memphis wrote letters of opposition.
C'mon! I know you academic beefsteaks want your piece of the pie so you can fart apple-spiced fragrance during your "office hours", but there's plenty of justice education to go around - Tennessee could support 15 law schools - not that Smalec is convinced by the basic math of more is better:
A seventh law school in Tennessee won't improve services to those underserved, Smalec said.
Did she not research the teeming mass of people who show up at court without counsel, their uneducated stuttering causing them to regularly lose winnable cases?  Does she not understand competition reducing prices for the Joe Schmo legal consumer?  Does she not want her local dean's creating jobs by investing in real estate, vanity restaurants, and shitty art?

It's not the only place Smalec's grasp of law, economics, and competition provokes skepticism from a would-be rival consultancy:
The transfer of Valparaiso University's School of Law to MTSU would increase competition for qualified students.
...
The study says adding another law school will only increase the competition for a limited number of opportunities for enrolled students.
...
The study showed that a new law school wouldn't increase employment opportunities across the state; it will only increase competition.
Is competition a bad thing now?  I thought we were still doing capitalism.  Has Tennessee gone pinko on us?  In America, if you have a business accredited by the government and backed by generous public student loan financing, you should be able to set up shop wherever you want in order to maximize your institutional profit and happiness at the expense of whatever misfired carbon-splatters successfully complete the entrance exam.  If you don't like that, you can get out.  I hear Saudi Arabia is nice and much more progressive than it used to be.

All in all: it's a flawed feasibility study, much like the one that was used to kill any idea of an Alaskan law school, and not at all like the one that green lit legal education in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Do you need specific reasons why it's flawed?  Like reason-based arguments?  Well you're in the wrong place, bub; I go from the gut.

In the spirit of free market competition, I propose the LSTC as rival consultants to Aslanian.  The LSTC has now been in business for five years, acquiring diverse expertise in evaluating the American legal education market and licking its rippled, leathery body from every possible angle.  For a high enough fee, the LSTC will write as many pages of academic-ish argument as your rump-roasting commission desires explaining the virtues of affordable, mass produced student loan disbursement in Murfreesboro in language written specifically for gutless government sinecures and delusional interdisciplinary advocates who haven't kept up with the fake news in the last decade. 

Best of all, the LSTC offers very affordable hourly rates for the cash-strapped legal education enterprise.  In fact, for good applicants, I might even offer a scholarship discount.  (Hint: they're all good applicants).

Chug chug goes The Express; chug chug!

The actual, full feasibility study is located here if for whatever reason you want to see how to construct a fairly good feasibility study documenting why Tennessee doesn't need another law school, even though we all know it just does.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

There May Be No Jobs But There Will Be Work

Are you a prospective law student or perpetual malcontent STILL harping and fretting about the lack of traditional j-o-b-s in the legal sector?  Well buckle buck, butt wart, you're not even asking the right questions:
[T]he improving employment rate may not be influencing law school applicants for the simple reason that employment prospects are not their main reason for going to law school.
 
But even assuming that every law students wants to practice law, and that there are fewer traditional law practice jobs to go around, this misses the point. While there may be fewer law jobs to go around, there is more than enough legal work.
Emphasis added because half of you can't read more than two paragraphs without sobbing uncontrollably and Googling for a summary.

Jobs don't matter, kids, it's all about whether there's work available.  This may surprise some, particularly those of you who believe that the "free market" can create jobs to meet existing real "demand."

Oh, no, my friends.  Current market participants just can't meet the needs of America's massive prospective client base. There's tens of millions of people willing to pay completely manageable rates of $50/hr to $125/hr for quality legal representation.  In the branch of mathematics called fictionometry, that's $500B of sidelines legal work if we simply take the $50/hr number, the minimum of ten million, and say that each lawyer pull just 1000 hours of work each year from this shitpile, bringing in revenue of $50,000, which is sustainable because it's above the national median income level.

You might ask yourself why current lawyers aren't simply meeting this demand.  The answer, one must assume, is either that tens of thousands of lawyers aren't good at the whole "business" thing or that they're all getting too rich already to bother with $50/hr work.

The author insists that law schools must - at a minimum! - teach lawyers how to exploit this "low bono" marketplace, you know, the people who get turned down by all the greedy, snooty lawyers presently in practice, among other things.

While I think it's unfair to fault law schools or require that they teach anything, I wholeheartedly endorse enrolling more and more of these boofers in law school to send more infantry to the slaughtering trenches of the justice crisis.  Teach them about limited scope representation and digital law practice.  Shit, let's teach 'em about dowsing rods, too.  It's like chucking handfuls of seed at the barren, salty Earth.  If just a few land, we'll soon have trees of justice and new sources of precious ground water.

Scam on...and scam online!

(The author of the linked article helps run "the nation’s first fully online law school" in case you or a dear law school applicant needed an even more innovative pathway to the Million Dollars Express)

Friday, October 5, 2018

2400 Law Professors Got Nothin' on Two Senators

As I write this, 2400 (and counting!) of America's finest law professors have signed an open letter in The New York Times opposing the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh.  It's a motley group - newbie soft socialists mixed with the doddering emeritus faculty titans.  Chemerinsky, Tribe, and Geoffrey Stone are there.  There's Deborah Rhode.  Notorious faith-defender Ted Seto signed; so did legal Bolsheviks Brian Tamanaha and Paul Campos.

A notable name isn't there, of course.  Don't worry - the Prophet opposes Kav, too, just on other grounds. Is that the perfect rad neato MTV response or what?

More than anything, though, this petition shows just how insignificant legal academia is.  So what if they agree on everything?  Poof, this guy's getting ramrodded through to a Supreme Court anyway and all because a very small handful of Senators don't want to be shunned at barbecues and future consulting engagements. Neither Jeff Flake nor Susan Collins are enlightened with the gift of law and yet their thoughts mean more than the opinions of thousands of full-time law school faculty members they're going to summarily ignore.

God bless America.  You might think, reader, that as a law school advocate I would scold the Senate for not trusting their obvious betters.  On the contrary, this is what educators refer to as a teaching moment.  There is perhaps no better way to show law students past, present, and future the utter and obvious futility of having informed opinions shared publicly. No greater lesson can be learned as a young lawyer than to have an ignoramus of a client trample one's advice.  This epistle is clinical education on a national scale.

If you think you can actually win when you go out and make it rain justice like a god of yore, you've got a lot to learn about The Law.  It's all in how you play the game: wear a snappy suit, say the right things, collect your paycheck.

Because these law professors aren't doing a god-damned thing to move the needle a micrometer.  They might as well be playing Learned Hand with themselves.  But holy cow it looks swell.

What do they all have in common?  They're getting paid, suckers.  The Million Dollar Express tracks run parallel to the Big Money Line.  We all can get rich.


...and so can you.  With just 300 easy payments of $1500/mo, you can finance a legal education at any number of outstanding law schools whose professors make their voices heard on very important matters.  Some day you'll make enough money that no one will care what you and 2399 friends have to say publicly, too!  All aboard!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Great Big Legal Bacchanalia

I have no idea whether the allegations of sexual assault, etc., made against Supreme Court nominee Hon. Brett Kavanaugh are true or not.  I leave to the unassailable discretion of police and prosecutors whether they should be investigated or charged, and to the wise and august United States Senate whether he should be confirmed.

I must say, however, that the LSTC disappointed in Kavanaugh's public responses.  Producing a milquetoast calendar from one's high school days and claiming one's prolonged virginity in response to allegations of being a drunk ravenous animal are not the way of the Million Dollar Express.

As this blog has attempted to make clear to our audience, the legal game is a lifelong bacchanalia for white collar elites who lack the personality and cunning to make it in business and/or the stomach and math skills to be a surgeon.  If you got the chops and hit a stroke of luck or two - particularly if you avoid the fly-trap of actually trying to make it as a real lawyer - you can milk this racket dry and feel damned good about your gluttony while other well-dressed people lick your boots.

Judge Kavanaugh has so far played the game beautifully.  White, male, DC to Yale and back, obviously affiliated but not overtly political, perpetually passing off polemics as brilliance to people still angry at the Bork confirmation hearing.  He even got it once, when he was on the Ken Starr team pressing to ask the President about his sex life. Why stop now because of this brief fad of society actually doing something about male excess?

Why do we resist this last barrier?  Why do we maintain the charade of prestige and integrity like a syphilitic hooker powdering herself?  It's never been clearer that legal elites in America - and this is by no means limited to one political "side" - have only a superficial interest in justice, the law, or even legal philosophy.  The whole point is to metaphorically wag one's genitalia in the faces of lessers, whether that be third-tier law students gunning for The Hague or the general public focusing on one or two pet issues.

Legal analysis isn't rocket science.  On pure intellect or legal understanding, there are thousands of lawyers just as qualified as Judge Kavanaugh.  What most of them lack is the whole package, the gravitas, the haircut.  Kavanaugh has the pedigree, but I sense a failed understanding of the bigger picture.  That isn't to condone any past wrongful conduct, but it speaks volumes that Kavanaugh elected to go with "that's not me!" instead of "who gives a shit?"

These people didn't care about the giant stack of unknown documents and opinions hiding in a White House vault.  They don't and never were going to care about drunken teenage skylarkings/indiscretions/felonies.  The Senate embraces the elite white collar white man bacchanalia.  Why not you, too, Brett?

The biggest fear, of course, is that a Supreme Court Justice or nominee being held accountable for his behavior will lead to a rippling domino effect where law deans might also be held accountable for their decades of collective nonsense.  And folks, I hate to burst your liberal bubbles, but we simply can't have that without a breakdown in our justice quotient.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Law School Applicants Appropriately Numbed to Sticker Shock

As it turns out, law school applicants don't care how much money they're flushing down the toilet, as long as it's one of them golden plungers.
Author Amy Li, a professor in the University of Northern Colorado’s department of leadership, policy and development, found that not only is there no correlation between lower costs and the number of applicants and matriculants at individual schools, but that increased costs correlate to higher enrollment at many private law schools. 
You have to take this research with several caveats, of course.  For one, there's no real control group against which to actually test the hypothesis, which is typically damning to scientific-ish conclusions.  Second, the articles' time range coincides with global economayhem that caused a slight but correctable dip in the rocketing fortunes of budding lawyers.  Third, it's not written a law professor, and this Northern Colorado doesn't even have a law school itself from which the author could draw knowledge, inspiration, and analyses of Pleasant Grove City v. Summum (2009).  Fourth, it's a behavioral economics study where no one's using "real" money.

But I kinda like the conclusion, so I can look past these problems.

What I particularly like is that Professor Li assumes that this pool of maimed indentured servants is rational.
Law students may understand that their employment prospects are the best at elite law schools that charge the most, Li theorized, and thus are willing to pay top dollar. Or law students may feel more comfortable paying for the school they want because they are older and more established than undergraduates, she speculated. Law students may also be savvier than undergraduates about federal loan repayment options such as income-based repayment—which limits monthly payments to a percentage of their income—and public service loan forgiveness, Li wrote.
You could also consider the LSTC official hypothesis which - and this theory that I have, that is mine, that belongs to me, etc. - is that law students simply don't care about marginal increases in digital Monopoly funny-money.  They don't have to worry about repayment until they've been baptized into the legal faith 3-4 years down the road.  Law schools, meanwhile, get the immediate benefit of real, spendable money and everyone wins.

In terms of shameless law school apologia, we can now have a vibrant debate.  On one hand, many people - including the LSTC at times - believe that law applicants are stupidly naive and being exploited by masters of white collar public service debauchery.  On the other hand, there's a very nice strain of alluring, sexy economic scholarship developing that justifies this superficially insane behavior.

The question moving forward is no longer "How many law schools will close?" my dear friends. 

The question is now "Are law students dumb with ignorance or dumb with knowledge?" 

I propose we name our sects.  Sticking with the cleverness of lawyers in general, I would suggest "Ignorists" and "Knowists."  Do law students just not know they're running headlong into helicopter blades or have they calculated the rotation and earnestly believe they'll be sipping gin without a drop of blood on the coat?

We can debate these things at law school symposia instead of shit that actually matters to law practice.  I will gladly volunteer to argue on behalf of the Ignorists.  Just get me a lunch that's nicer than that sandwich-and-an-apple bullshit.  I know the dining car on the Million Dollar Express has fresh prawns, and by gum, the audience knows it, too. 

I can see them salivating the more I louder I hit the pleasure bill. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Extrapolation of Hyperbolic Study Suggests We Need More Law Schools

It's a truth universally acknowledged that law schools are liberal and that makes lawyers liberal and it's, like, super-unfair to conservatives and Republicans.  And you might think conservativism is the last movement needing a boost given their current pedal-to-the-floor ram-rodding of another whitebread originalist onto the Supreme Court, but read this troubling piece:
The findings seem to indicate that conservative-leaning law professors are facing discrimination at top-tier law schools in ways distinct from their liberal counterparts.
...
According to Phillips, the inability of law school graduates to “candidly and accurately assess the weaknesses in their own views and the strengths in opposing views” is essentially “professional suicide.”

“Law school graduates who are ill-equipped to make persuasive arguments in front of half of the judiciary are ill-equipped to be lawyers”, says the study.
Those you who are actually "experienced" in practicing "law" may say that 99.9% of the time politics as understood by Joe Public has fuck-all to do with the price of orange juice, but this dude is a non-resident fellow at Stanford and you are almost certainly not.

You see discrimination.  I see opportunity.  What's the harm in grossly increasing law school enrollments to ensure that conservatives and libertarians can have safe spaces on law school campuses?  What would be the harm in building whole new elite law schools in places - San Antonio?  Colorado Springs?  Huntington?  Pensacola?  Fort Wayne? - where future conservative jurists could feel comfortable discussing whether Justice Scalia was brilliant, a genius, or both without seeing the scowl of their intellectual lessers? 

Failing that, how about affirmative action?  Intellectual diversity should be just as valued as phenotypical.  Being black doesn't affect how you'll argue in front of a federal judge.  But staying in a liberal bubble?  That'll give you blind spots, not that you'll ever want for caviar and cognac.

The point of all of this:  if you're sitting and home and debating whether law school is for you, while at the same time thinking maybe climate change is a hoax and that socialism is a dirty word and that you think the police have permanent probable cause to shoot anyone whose shirt is untucked, we want your money, too!

Just because your typical law professor loves Mao, Marx, and Muslims more than the book of Matthew or Mike Pence doesn't mean you shouldn't go to law school. In fact, it's the opposite.  Law schools need you to show up, bond with like minds, and annoy the redoubtable liberals.  All of you will become better lawyers in the process, we'll get rich, and people who don't understand the fucking law will eventually stop writing stupid fucking articles about the thoroughly irrelevant political leanings of law professors.

And since most of you little runts pride yourself on economics, have you seen the ROI on law school tuition?  A mere up-front payment of, like, $250k will yield you a $1 million net benefit over the next forty years.  With those numbers at 7% interest, the only way you lose is if you don't pay a dime for like 20 years. 

Which you will, because you will make bank as a lawyer.  And when you do as a conservative or libertarian, you'll have to beat back Fox News with a stick.  The world will be your oyster, and how much tax you pay on the pearl is dependent strictly on how many of these Young Republicans pledge their lives and a six-figure check to restoring the partisan balance in a place where it doesn't fucking matter.  So sign up, bring a friend, and march onward, young Reaganites.  Robert Bork isn't going to preserve his own legacy.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

An Open Letter to Potential Law Students: The Truth is not the Truth

Hold yer nose and check this presumptuousness:
If you’re in it for the money, the truth is that very few lawyers will see those highly coveted and published $190,000 salaries as first-year associates.
This is just one of many, many quasi-truths in a piece full of them.  Have these cretins learned nothing from our current administration?  Truth is not always truth, bub.

For this particular passage, the twist rests in the initial dependent clause - if you're in it for the money.  Newsflash, here, but no one is in the legal industry for the money.  Truth.  Some of us signed up to carry justice on our backs.  Others were more interested in defending liberty.  Still more wanted to change the world.  But money?  Bitch, please, if we wanted money, we would've gone to MBA school.

Of course, had we gone to MBA school, we wouldn't make nearly as much money as we would going to an ABA-accredited law school, which provides a $2 million premium over homelessness.  And those 190k jobs are easy to nab for the true hustlers.  But no one goes to law school for the money.  We have higher purposes and if the train's voyage involves a few old fashioneds and oral gratification from 8s and 9s here and there, so be it.

The entire "open letter" has this sheen of collected rationality that is grossly undercut by true truth.  For example, the following things are totally false even though they look true:
"[L]awyers suffer from high rates of depression, substance abuse and suicide."
"Technology continues to supplant and replace much of the legal work traditionally performed by newly hired associates."
Yawn.  The world needs good lawyers, and good lawyers don't get no mental illness. Technology can't replace a good legal mind. They'll just replace the lowest quality legal jobs, the ones that lead mediocre lawyers to alcoholism and shooting people.  Yada yada yada.

But, to be fair, the article offers some dead-on accurate statements, some true truths:
"[B]eing a lawyer is still a noble profession"
"Consider night school or a lower-tier law school that offers scholarship options so that you can pay for law school as you go and avoid debt."
"Realize that the decision to attend law school is not a choice between right and wrong: It is a choice between right and right."
God, that feels nice.  I'm going to read it again, do some blow, and give my mistress a call to discuss when the truth is the truth or not.  You? You should go to law school.  I'm drinking at home on a Friday night and you can, too!

Friday, August 17, 2018

The Celebration of Glorious Indentured Servitude

In a feelgood news story, the internet sees a good comrade, celebrates:
After Nicole Medham, an attorney based in New York City, finished paying off her $180,000 student debt, she announced the news in a [tweet]...We asked Medham, who graduated law school in 2010 with $180,000 in loans, to explain her strategy.
The tl/dr version of this Super Dave Ramsey strategy is that she went to Columbia, nabbed BigLaw, and lived at home until her mid-30s.  Going without them daily Starbucks purchases and primo cell phone plans, most law school students can effortlessly replicate this task and, most importantly, avoid the social opprobrium associated with default and shirking one's financial obligations to God and country.  Your Boomer Uncle paid his $15k loan over twenty-seven years; why can't you do the same?

On a broader level, who needs early adulthood, anyway?  Trust me, it kinda sucks.  Wouldn't you much rather have illusory financial independence with those beautiful plump zeroes staring back at you than have the actual personal independence of being a grown-up in the relative prime of life as our forebearers once had to suffer?  Building careers and families and nest eggs at age 24 like a schlub!  What's the point of earning six figures if you can't blow an extra twenty grand every year to make your credit report glisten like your life's report card while ensuring that fingers can still be pointed at student debtors everywhere?

Don't say the billions in student loan debt haven't given us anything but a generational wealth transfer while reinforcing the same inequalities they sought to eradicate. (Piffle!)  They've enhanced the neo-capitalist religion of borrowing an obscene sum of money to work like a dog, eventually paying it back and being left with nothing but a great American sense of accomplishment.  Like building a demolition car or a nuclear bomb.  You may have only a fraction of the savings that you should, may have relatively little for whatever sacrifices have been made, but by gum, it's going to feel amazing and get you all sorts of likes around the internet.