Saturday, September 20, 2014

Flush Drexel

Drexel, which as you may recall is one of the top ten law schools in Philadelphia, used to be known at the Earle Mack School of Law.  That is because in the 2006 - 2008 golden age, a man named Earle Mack donated $15 million to the school (along with pledges for $15M from other sources) to get it kick-started and the school put his name on the door.

The largess continued unabated, as in 2013, Mack agreed (out of magnanimous volition, one assumes) that he didn't need to have his name on one of the most elite law schools in the mid-Atlantic:
Since then, the university said, the school has suffered from the global financial crisis and a related decline in the number of applicants to law schools. 
"The Earle I. Mack Foundation and Drexel jointly concluded that this will require an economic foundation beyond what was established by his gift and the university's matching funds," the university said.
Part of me wants to scream something like fucking lemmings!   But lo and behold, ye children of law, every dark cloud has a silver lining, and no shortage of law applicants can stop the rainbows of fun.

Thomas R. Kline, a Philadelphia lawyer who is obviously doing well with his Duquesne legal education representing the poor and downtrodden, is giving $50 million to Drexel, who will slap his name on the door.  They're going to have a new institute of trial advocacy and everything!

For all you shit-for-brains who think law school is going under, the Drexel Model just proved to be an innovative way to get around the fact that no one currently wants to go to law school.

The Drexel Model
1.  Sell law school naming rights to highest bidder.
2.  A few years later, inform original donor that they need a new infusion of cash and it would be best the original donor would remove his name from the school.  In business, this would be a laughable breach of contract and all that, but remember, law schools are non-profit do-gooders who don't have to abide by such rules.
3.   Find a new donor with a massive ego who wound up with more money than sense and get a much larger donation
4.  Repeat Steps 2 and 3.

Let's do some quick financial calculations to see how much the Drexel Model can make a law school over the long term:

2008:  15M
2014:  50M
2020:  150M
2026:  450M
2032:  1.4B

You can tell graduates that they won't make a mint practicing law and charging a reasonable fee for their services (as an aside, if there were a lawyer shortage, how did Kline make so much?), but you can't stop those same law graduates from paying back the system by donating a ton of scratch to a fine law school from which they didn't even graduate.

Perhaps Thomas Jefferson Law School's mistake was naming its school after a dead guy with a longstanding connection to San Diego.  They should look at changing the name to get an instant cash infusion.  Might I suggest the George W. Bush Law School?  Try it out - if it doesn't work, you can change it in a few years for a handsome profit.


  1. "Let's do some quick financial calculations to see how much the Drexel Model can make a law school over the long term:

    2008: 15M
    2014: 50M
    2020: 150M
    2026: 450M
    2032: 1.4B"

    That was brilliant! I also loved the reference to Drexel being a top 10 Philadelphia law school.

  2. Brilliant observation and recommendations LSTC, you should be charging consulting fees to view this blog. Keep fighting the good fight!

  3. The collapse of the scam will be set back one to two years due to the, uh, philanthropy of vain, gullible, elderly multi-millionaires who think that placing their names on the side of a law school building will secure their legacies as well as big tax deductions.

    1. Most of those schools are pretty quick to take a name off of a building, or even to tear it down without a trace.

  4. Those guys give scamming a bad name. They're nowhere near maximizing their revenues. They should be charging $500K to name a desk, $5 million for a classroom, $50 million for an auditorium, and $500 million to name the entire law school. I mean, it's not every day that you get to put your name on a law school. There's a serious shortage of fourth-tier law schools, just like there's a serious shortage of lawyers.

  5. The comments over at Faculty Lounge imply much of this $50M is in the form of a building which has been disused for a decade. And Drexel are going to spend most of the cash portion of this grant refurbishing the building into a state of the art legal education edifice, complete with "trial advocacy center".

    This grant is a white elephant. They are just going to end up with an expensive to maintain, utterly unnecessary facility.

  6. Damn, for $50 million that guy could've had his name on a builting at a prestigious law school.

  7. Oh great, now we'll never get rid of Drexel law.