Monday, July 16, 2018

Tyranny in Vermont: Give us Tenure or Give us the White Shoe Firm Jobs We'd Otherwise Hold

Vermont wasn't a state yet when we broke free of the then (and now!) dreaded redcoats, but it's hard not to see the freedom vs. dictatorial fascism thing going on in bucolic Royalton right now.

"Tenure," it seems, has been rendered as meaningless as the flaccid rights of British subjects in 1776, capable of revocation solely because the coffers are low and the place might  go bankrupt if it keeps honoring all these debts.
Fourteen out of 19 members of the Vermont Law School faculty lost tenure on July 1 as part of a restructuring effort at the South Royalton institution.
...
[The walking condemned] were told they could choose to continue teaching another year under a new contract or they could opt for six month contracts with varying teaching requirements and salaries, or they could leave.

[The "lucky" survivors] were required to sign a non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreement, prohibiting them from speaking to anyone except their spouses. The agreement prohibited faculty from making derogatory remarks about Vermont Law School and its administration.

The American Association of University Professors, based in Washington, D.C., says the school has “depart(ed) grossly” from standards set by the association.
I'd say so.  What's the point of a benefit that can be retracted solely because a going concern is going kaput?  We must protect our professors.  The ABA and other organizations in charge must enforce tenure promises to the fullest extent of their selfish interpretations of the law.  Otherwise, who would they find to teach law schools?  Real practitioners?

I love law schools as much as the next shameless apologist, but you have to protect your talent and guarantee that they get their share of the cookies even if it means fucking the little maggots or closing down the school.

What American needs now is a new Bill of Rights... for law professors.  These people sacrifice a chance at big-firm glory for the passive income stream of a sinecure.  They command our adoration, our respect, and our unwarranted legal guarantees.  I say given them each a contract that secures the right of tenure, not just in empty words that can be revoked by King George wannabe Chapter 11 trustees, but real rights, backed by a guaranty that the school will place them in a partnership position at a major urban law firm or pay the cash equivalent out of its future revenue stream.

All we have seen in the last 5 years is law schools contracting and removing or deterring talented faculty.  And all that's happened in response is that the juiciest young  cherries take their ripeness to business or medical school.  Maybe - just maybe! - there's a correlation.  We must not cut costs with the professorship, but instead view it as an investment.  Spend millions to make thousands, that sort of thing.

Regardless, this act by Vermont is intolerable.  Law professors aren't at will employees.  They're a national treasure. 

As the splendidly named Prof. Peter Teachout observes in the article:
I think there’s a sense that the steps that were taken are lawless.
Thirteen words where three or four would do.  You simply can't get that from some adjunct.

Protect tenure now.  Scam on.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Combating the Apathy and Enjoying the Express

Justice Kennedy - who *may* be an unrepentant intellectual hack - has announced his retirement and the President - who *may* also be a hack (though decidedly nonintellectual) only capable of being produced at this point in our thrillingly roller coaster history - is apparently announcing Kennedy's nominated replacement on the Supreme Court tomorrow.

As a prospective law student, actual law student, lawyer, or legal blog follower, you should care.  Really, really care.  Like the coral reef is dying care.


Tons is at stake, I tell you.  Tons.  Don't you read the headlines?  Roe is at issue.  So are Amendments 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.  Liberty itself, indeed.  Women's rights are imperiled generally speaking. Have you heard a Margaret Atwood quote lately?  When you sip your Sazerac and look out the window of the Million Dollar Express, what do you want to see?  The United States of America, Lady Liberty's tits flopping like batter nozzles at a pancake house?  Or Denmark, France, Russia, India, or Vietnam in all their poverty fiscal and moral?  C'mon, man, don't you want to argue about the fundamental right to take a shit in public and fly a camera drone over an all girls school as our vaunted Founders intended?

Sure, the superficial on-paper amount of pseudo-debt for the bright new lawyer may appear imposing.  Everyday concerns about how to best serve clients and make ends meet and meet one's personal needs, justifying the three years spent in academic safety fantasy land, may rise to the surface, bubbling like the champagne we all drink on a Friday night and at Sunday brunch.

Apathy is tempting.  It's so, so tempting, just to throw one's hands up and say the appointment to the creme de la creme of lawyer jobs being run by a moneyed gaggle of uneducated politicized jackwads is too much to provoke caring.  Just do one's job.  To not be bothered that quasi-qualified judges leapfrog their excellent peers on purple squirrel ideology.  To let them have their fun and just play other lucrative lawyer games, like winning slip 'n' falls or keeping gang-bangin' brokedicks out of jail.

But the Express requires commitment to civic virtue values morals things.  The ABA tells me so.  Pay attention.  Have an opinion.  The future's at stake!  Blah blah blah!  Read the ramblings of god-knows-how-many law professor blogs on Monday and Tuesday.  How are you expected to converse with other dull-faced, sad-suit lawyers at receptions?  What if you meet an impressionable young law student eager to talk shop on The Constitution?  On the road to our shared riches, we all have an obligation to argue passionately for important things and stay abreast of such essential news.  We can't let the relative shit on the windshield get in the way of our leaders' most sacred virtues.  Have you thought about informing the public via newsletter or bus station rant?

Do pro bono work, kids.  You'll feel better and meet your professional obligations, say your betters.  They charge $500/hour.  Heed their wisdom.

I am a little drunk but I love the law, really,, and I await with eager anticipation the next anointment to our circle of legal gods and high value red carpet law school speaking fees with the life apointment and ability to decide what The Constitution means.  But it is all right, everything is all right, the struggle is finished. I have won the victory over myself. I love the law.

Don't you?

Monday, June 25, 2018

Valparaiso: the Murfreesboro Years

Valparaiso has a problem. Despite a university foundation dating to the antebellum years - despite being America's most Lutheran law school - and despite the recent 20% contraction in Indiana special justice training academies, Valpo just can't catch a break.

The libelous wounds of the anti-law school publication assault simply run too deep, hemorrhaging like a ferocious closing on a just but losing cause.  Somehow, few people on the far fringes of a super-saturated legal market want to attend law school in the inverse taint of Indiana.

Solution? Mufreesboro, Tennessee, baby, land of dreams and - now - sweet justice.
Middle Tennessee State University has received a nonbinding letter of intent from Valparaiso Law School, a part of Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, to transfer to Murfreesboro, the Daily News Journal reported.
Murfreesboro now has a six-figure population.  It's rapidly growing and Rutherford County has no other law schools.  Local businesses like Nissan, State Farm, and Amazon cry out for an influx of 300, 400 new lawyers a year.  As it is, would-be lawyers have to drive (or walk!) 34 miles to Nashville should they want to attend a piece of shit law school.

And yet some of you would rather see them inconvenienced by arduous commuter travel than saturating middle Tennessee with so many lawyers justice becomes freer than a certain minority group in reconstruction.  Murfreesboro just makes sense and if you see someone say otherwise, they're letting reason get in the way of good feeling, which has led exactly no one to success in life.

--------------------------

Of course, lots of places would make an excellent landing spot for Valparaiso.  Oregon State, Central Florida, UTEP, Boise State, Norfolk State.  As the article explains, Middle Tennessee received a "nonbinding letter of intent."  I can't help but think Valpo launched these fuckers like their annual spray of fat-chance admissions pamplets.
Dear Fellow American Acclaimed University:

YOU have been looking for ways to increase your prestige while expanding your donor list and that li'l' special projects' piggy bank.  You've possibly already done a feasibility study that says, "duh, law school!"

WE are a prestigious, top-ranked law school looking for a new home, with a ready-made alumni base and a faculty that could be working at any number of law firms your board of trustees would hire were it sued by students, which it totally won't be, because you're a legit college...or at least you will be one you have a top law school.

Wanna bang?
 It's worked for me on the dating market with rousing success by my own definition.  Why not Valpo?

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Official LSTC Statement on Arizona Summit Losing Accreditation

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Phoenix—mighty Summit is the unfortunate victim of overwrought and misguided administrative regulations that are hamstringing America's entrepreneurship and now endangering our supply of new lawyers in the southwest I sure hope to Christ you snooty narcissists are happy with the hellscape you've created which seems like the equivalent of torching the tracks after your own moneytrain has left the station the hypocrisy the hypocrisy the hypocrisy!

Friday, June 8, 2018

We'll Always Have the Memories, TJ; Now We Have the Future

A bittersweet moment.
This week, the school announced it will vacate its custom-built law campus and relocate to a smaller space in a 24-story downtown San Diego office building that also houses Bank of American and several law firms, including Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith. Classes will be held in the new space starting in the fall.
Sure, you might say, it's a waste that Thomas Jefferson School of Law built a $90 million dollar law school with all the bells and whistles to be expected by America's top law applicants.  That fine mock court room and the swank diner where woke, intelligent students sipped coffee and discussed the detailed holdings of Casey v. Planned Paranthood.

As our most famous real estate tycoon would say: sad!  But on the bright side, TJLS is now in the same building as several law firms.  Now not only is the bright futures of these eager beavers intangibly palpable, it's physically palpable.  A few each year will no doubt be able to smell the new carpeting and paint of their posh offices.

TJLS students, have you ever tried the getting off on the wrong floor trick?  Hundreds - thousands, even - of lawyers in our major cities can land jobs through this innovative form of networking.
1.  Wear nicest $250 suit you own and don't skimp on the shoes or accessories, bro.  Ladies, if you got 'em, let the girls breathe a bit.  Take resumes and print-outs of writing samples that cover areas in which the big firm practices.
2.  Get off on the floor of a top law firm.
3.  Claim you have an interview at some fake law firm - "Jones Johnson Smith, LLP" or something.
4.  When the receptionist points to the sign and says, "yeah, that's not us," get a flustered look, turn, walk confidently, and fall flat on your face, splaying the papers everywhere.  Blood is a plus.  Learn how to feign something being broken.
It's pot luck who walks through the lobby when you're running this game, but talk about getting a foot in the door!  Lower 1st-tier graduates from schools like TJLS usually have to make their fortunes everywhere; it's plain that this prejudice reduces their opportunities at firms like Lewis Brisbois.  But being in the same building, having a security pass, and being able to claim you got off on the wrong floor... go ask Cal-Western if those fuckers can do that.

So of course it's sad to see a school move from its resplendent campus, a tragic result of the fluke recession mixing with irrational fears about the law school scam to create a "perfect storm" of this overlooked, underrated, emerging market law school not being able to reel in the guppies fast enough.  But look at the silver lining - most of these TJLS students are closer to BigLaw than ever!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Dean Nick Allard Leaves Brooklyn in Best Place Ever

Goodbye, Nick Allard.
After six years serving as president and dean of Brooklyn Law School, Nicholas Allard is set to resign at the end of June, he announced to faculty and staff last week.
Sometimes in legal education, mercenary titans appear, sometimes outsiders, sometimes lifetime academics, only to boisterously make proclamations like a prophet or saint and then to vanish, leaving the life-long lawyers on a slightly better career trajectory by their gentle touch.

Let us remember, for example, Allard's Common Sense-style denouncement of the bar exam.  Or his celebration of the 4 p.m. faculty wine soiree. Or his more recent analysis of the "Trump bump."
Law schools can seize this moment and, like the generation inspired by Woodward and Bernstein to pursue careers in journalism, lead the renaissance in legal education that would revive a profession in need of an injection of youth, idealism, and high-tech savvy.
The good news is that law schools still can-do, even as Allard sails to his next port-of-winning, be that super-cool lobbying contracts or sipping beach bum cocktails in a homemade tiki bar.  As we can see from lawyers like Michael Cohen, the country desperately needs quality attorneys.

Consider, too, how Brooklyn has excelled.  For example, from 2012 to the present, Brooklyn's incoming LSAT scores have dropped 5 points at both the 25% and 75% intervals.  That's diversification, bub.  And only the last few years, tuition had actually decreased. While still over $50,000 a year, it's a fantastic bargain relative to the 2013 price.

So once more we shove a legal academic's career onto the pyre and watch solemnly as it roasts.  Allard has inspired us.  He hasn't been the only one.  There will be others.  But there has been only one Nick Allard.

Scam on and enjoy the ride, no matter how long the greats like Allard are leading the train.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Legal Practice Guide 11: What Went Wrong at Arizona Summit?

As Hall & Oates once crooned, what went wrong?!?!?

Indeed, that's what they're asking in Arizona atop the Summit of gory glory.
In the early 1990s, Donald Lively had a vision for a new type of law school.
...
[H]e never envisioned that the for-profit model that made the schools possible would open the schools to such criticism and scrutiny, eventually threatening their very existence.

He always assumed people would just see his good intentions —  to fulfill the school's mission of student diversity.
Sometimes as a lawyer you have to give your client advice they don't want to hear.  You might - hypothetically! - have to say something like, "Donnie, your idea is fucking stupid."

Thankfully, that isn't the case here.  Arizona Summit was a brilliant idea.  As the article points out, Phoenix was starving for lawyers and the legal profession needed some variety in the bowl of vanilla ice cream.

Of course, as we know from the scambloggers' existence, there are always negative Nebby's wanting to rain on a cash parade:
Some in the legal community were skeptical of the schools' for-profit status. 
...
The American Bar Association, the national accrediting body for law schools, put Arizona Summit on a two-year probation in March 2017 for being out of compliance with admissions policies and academic standards and for failing to maintain a rigorous program.
...
First-year students typically take Torts and Civil Procedure as separate courses. But the Arizona school combined them. School officials would later find that students weren't getting enough instruction in either subject. 
...
ASU typically takes the top 25 percent of Arizona Summit’s class each year.
...
Arizona Summit officials acknowledged some of their graduates struggle to pass the bar exam. They've been encouraging students to take the exam in New Mexico, where they say it's easier to pass, and graduates had a 54-percent pass rate in February.
Fiends!  That's a veritable rogues gallery of people who simply don't want diversity in the legal profession.

What went wrong?  Nothing except the world turning against it.

Today's legal practice exercise is to pretend that you're Arizona Summit's lawyer.  What advice can you give them facing this parade of horribles?
  1. Keep on truckin', bro', no need to make changes when yer the Summit.
  2. Sue the ABA and/or Arizona State in federal court.
  3. Thumb nose at the ABA: double-down on diversity and lowered admission standards, exponentially increase tuition to account for the risk the school takes in admitting less-qualified students.
  4. Continue adjusting admissions standards and/or gimmicky bar passage efforts just barely enough to stay ahead of the ABA's mercilessly Tantalan chopping block and do little else.
  5. Remodel the school with a mid-century western swing motif and affordable high-class dining options that superficially incorporate the uniqueness of Arizona's cultural heritage with otherwise standard items like delectable salads and ham sandwiches. Use avocado and ancho mayo.
  6. Emphasize faculty publication rates, add to the library, and pay out the nose for top LSAT scorers to play the rankings game.
  7. Rename yourself "Arizona State Summit."
There's really not much else to do here, right?  Sometimes as a counselor the best thing you can do is throw your hands up and say, "ScammerClient, you have the solution within."

Friday, May 11, 2018

Legal Practice Guide 10: Complaint Drafting and Rule 11

A masterclass in complaint drafting.
124. The ABA, in failing to enforce and ensure that [Charlotte School of Law] was in compliance with the Standards failed to act as a reasonable accreditor, recognized by the DOE for purposes of ensuring compliance with Title IV of the HEA. 

125. The ABA was the direct cause of Love’s damages because Love opted to enroll at CSOL based upon the ABA’s certification to prospective law students that CSOL had achieved and was in full compliance with the Standards when, in fact, CSOL was not in full compliance or substantial compliance with the Standards when Love enrolled at CSOL.
Good fuckin' luck with that.  If you want another masterclass, Infilaw's got you covered:
Florida Coastal School of Law filed suit in federal court Thursday against the American Bar Association alleging that the ABA violated due process in its accreditation review process.

The good news, justice warriors, is that Rule 11 simply doesn't apply when you're chest-out justice fightin'.

Scam on.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Legal Practice Guide 9: Texas-Style Fraud and Exempt Employees under the FLSA

From The Texas Tribune (no, I don't know what it is, either):
A former director at the University of Texas at Austin's law school was arrested Thursday for claiming he was showing up for work while he was actually galavanting in tourist hot spots like Cozumel, Las Vegas and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to court documents and local law enforcement authorities.
...
During multiple pay periods, Shoumaker logged regular 8-hour days with the university while he was actually cavorting out of state, according to the affidavit. 
"Cavorting" and "galavanting" sound like actionable offenses, but are they?  As a director of facilities, Shoumaker was almost certainly an exempt employee.  You may have heard the term used pejoratively when people say things like "lawyers are exempt - no overtime for Saturday morning lashings!" But it also applies in the positive sense.  If you're good enough at your job, you're exempt from showing up on strict "8-hour days."  People often criticize law professors for working like three days a week half-assedly, but all they're doing is taking advantage of their full rights under the FLSA.

Should we really be punishing law professors for exercising their rights?

But back to Mr. Shoumaker.  It seems most likely that he was working remotely from those locations.  Supposedly damning - naive journalists and prosecutors - are credit card charges for various restaurants including Hooters and an $81.00 massage.

The massage is obvious: the poor man was stressed from his job.  And Hooters?  Come now - what man of class goes to a hot tourist spot and eats at motherfuckin' Hooters?  In Las Vegas, there's no reason to eat middle class with half-dressed women unless you're there on boring law school administrative business.

So while at first blush this may seem like a man who just said fuck it and did whatever he wanted following the example of Larry Sager's forgivable loan, it's likely not wrong at all, but rather a shining example that you can do law school work even while sipping on glamorous drinks with attractive people taking honest vacations.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Legal Practice Guide 8: Qui Tam and Google.com

Qui Tam.  It's a Latin phrase, an abbreviation of a much longer Latin phrase, meaning to sue on behalf of the King because someone else broke the law and now gimme gimme gimme a piece of that succulent monetary penalty.  Daddy's vacation condo needs a new bathroom.  In other words: whistleblowers!  People who have inside information that someone's cheating Uncle Sam. 

There are multiple elements to a good Qui Tam case - try Westlaw, it's great - but if one of these discontents stumbles into your office or makes a nervous phone call, you definitely should make sure that it's actually inside information they're wanting to squeal about and not something that's publicly disclosed.  Because if everyone knows about it, it ain't fraud and no one's blowin' any dabgum whistles.

Like with Charlotte Law, the gorgeous murdered slut of North Carolina:
Judge Roy Dalton Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida on Monday granted InfiLaw’s motion to dismiss the qui tam suit filed in 2016 by former Charlotte School of Law professor Barbara Bernier, who alleges the school and its corporate owners defrauded the federal government of more than $285 million by admitting unqualified students in order to pocket their government-issued loans. Dalton ruled that InfiLaw’s myriad problems had already been publicly disclosed in news stories and posts written on law faculty blogs before Bernier file her suit.
Cue the sad trumpet of a federal court butt-kicking.

The judge's opinion may be scathing against Infilaw and rely on an assumption that Charlotte Law was committing a massive fraud, but the point is that it was obvious and everyone knew.  The newsmedia, that fantastic fourth estate, did its job perfectly.  No million dollar paydays, here!

This of course fits nicely with the idea of the sophisticated consumer.  If - IF! - law schools were committing fraud, everyone knew it, student and third-tier professor alike.  Tweet it like Trump: No fraud! - particularly since people kept buying the product.

Bernier has time to amend the complaint, so we'll see what gets pulled out of litigation's back-alley dumpster to reserve a judge who obviously was reading the papers and knew the score.  But in the meantime, it's essential to find people who know real secrets to bring a whistleblower action. 

Law schools weren't scamming anyone, but it was widely known that they were.