Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The California Model; or, the LSTC: Where Great Comments Inspire Great Ideas

The Law School Truth Center isn't just a place for me to post love letters to my intangible paramour, the Law School Industrial Complex.  It's also a think tank where the masses can inspire innovations in legal education.  From a comment on my last post:
Being 16 of 203 [law schools] is more prestigious than being 16 of 16.
From this Newtonian observation by Anonymous, we can derive a simple theory:  A greater number of law schools total makes every school except the bottom of the bottom ("PD academies") more prestigious.   Conversely, if law schools unfortunately close, suddenly otherwise-reputable schools like Florida, Arizona State, and Brooklyn may find themselves in the fourth tier.

We must prevent that from happening.  Do you really want to live in a world where a fine school like American is a bottom-feeder?  Of course not!  Those who bemoan schools like Thomas Cooley simply don't understand how the prestige pyramid works.  You have a whole bunch of drones at the bottom, and they buoy up everyone else to ever-greater heights.  Cooley didn't destroy legal education; it was trying to establish yet another base in the pyramid to make schools like Wayne State and Detroit look like sparkling rays of sunshine shooting from a unicorn's eyes.

Lest you think this theorem indefensible and reckless, I give you the Great State of California.  There are dozens of unaccredited schools in California; yet, their role, educating high-quality lawyers, has done nothing to stop the prestige of Stanford and Cal-Berkley.  Indeed, California is only one of three states to have multiple T-14s (to say nothing of the surplus of T2s like UCLA, USC, Pepperdine, UC-Irvine, Loyola, etc.).   And of course, relatively, those type of unaccredited "blue collar" institutions make places like UC-Hastings or Cal-Western look like Harvard.

Previously, I've explored potential other locations for law schools.  I have realized that this might have too restricting of a view on my part.  What we need is for the rest of the nation to implant the California model.  According to crack research by the LSTC, California has sixty (60) law schools and a population of only thirty-nine (39) million.

So California's ratio - which is obviously a successful number to generate fine schools like Stanford - would be roughly 1 law school for every  630,000 people.  Current US Population is 319 million, so our actual number of law schools to achieve California-quality prestige and legal representation nationwide would be around 506.

Examples of the severe shortfall of law schools to achieve this ideal abound.  Washington only has three law schools.  It should have 11 or 12.  Wisconsin has 2 law schools. It should have 9 or 10.  Ohio, with 9 law schools, is underlawschooled by 10.

When folks like Professor Seto talk about an impending lawyer shortage, it's not a great revelation to figure it out; we simply haven't considered that maybe the legal education industrial complex's problem isn't too many law schools, but too few.   Plus, as everyone knows, more competition always means a better result for consumers.

It's not just a matter of running out of lawyers.  

It's a matter of running out of prestige.


  1. I am inspired by this post's invocation of the noble word "pyramid," but feel that it does not go far enough. Only 506 total law schools?

    Approximately 20,000 out of 40,000 total new law grads every year will fail to obtain a full-time bar-required job. That means that they will need to do something JD-Advantage-ish, something law and entrepreneurial, lest their whole investment go to waste.

    My answer: Each of these 20,000 disappointed JDs should found his or her own law school. Just sweep away a few ABA rules and restrictions and it can happen. And then instant full employment for law grads!

    20,000 new law schools will yield a cornucopia of innovation and experimentation. And with the guidance and insights gleaned from the pages of 20,000 law reviews, society would shortly be floating on a sea of justice.

    And, of course, everyone who graduated from one of the 200 old law schools will enjoy immense prestige. Cooley may be less prestigious than 199 schools, but it will be more prestigious than the 20,000 start-ups. That will place it within the top 1% of law schools, the proportional equivalent of Harvard and Yale.

    1. Why only 20,000 law reviews? The current batch of ABA schools averages more than four journals per school. If we have similar expectations for the new law schools, that would give us, conservatively, 80,000 new law reviews.

      That may sound like a lot, but 80,000 law reviews is still only one law journal for every 4,000 residents of this nation, which seems like a fairly modest number, all things considered.

    2. The law school pyramid scam. I love it. I am incredibly happy that "dybbuk" and Prof. Campos are finally coming around to seeing the merits of shameless, open and notorious scamming.

      Is Prof. Campos angling for an InfiLaw deanship? Is "dybbuk" wanting to hop on "gravy train"?

    3. This is a grand proposal.

      In the first year there would be 20,000 new law schools from students hanging an academic shingle. But in the second year there would be around 20,000 more new law schools. The schools from the first wave would have the track records to instantly catapult to the first or second tier. No one would have to be refused a seat at a law school ever, and even the lowest of the traditional law schools would have mad world wide prestige after.

      Some of the students may even found their law schools as for-profit affairs, even to the point of becoming publicly traded companies. These entrepreneurial ventures will buoy the stock market and allow us non-legal schlubs to participate in the upside.

      I have one question though. What happens when there are more law schools than law students?

  2. This should be an SNL skit. Great stuff as usual.

  3. Another great post, but you neglected an important reason why more law schools are needed. The more law schools there are, the more faculty positions there will be for those graduates of elite law schools who are too lofty and brilliant to soil their hands with the ugly details of legal practice.

    In particular, Professor Brian Leiter, a brilliant philosopher at the University of Chicago law school, is desperately in need of placements for his own brilliant students. If he goes another year or two with few if any law school placements, his assurances to Chicago students who borrow huge amounts of money without wanting to practice law will start to look hollow and empty. To preserve his reputation, we need to provide a tenured position for every one of his brilliant students, not to mention their spouses and partners.

    1. Indeed. Not only would the University of Chicago become a professor factory, but other schools could hone this particular skill. SMU? American? Villanova? Depaul? Miami? Talk about adding diversity to the professorate!

  4. There are 16 common law schools in Canada. let's look at some stats. In 15th place is University of Manitoba. If you look at their LSAT admission table:


    you'd find the following very interesting information:

    1. There were no applications below an LSAT score of 151 (let's let that sink in- I would think it's because in Canada, if you score 150 or below, you know better than to apply to law school);
    2. Out of 68 applications in the 151 to 154 range, only 2 were accepted and they had GPA's 3.75 or above;
    3. Out of 162 applications in the 155-159 range, there were only 41 offers and all of those applicants had GPA's 3.75 or above
    4. For LSAT scores 160 and above, most applicants were accepted if they had over a 3.75 GPA. But with a score of 160 to 164, there were 76 applicants with GPA's between 3.5 and 3.74 and only 11 were admitted. Between a 165 and 169, there were 16 applicants with a 3.25 to 3.49 GPA and only 5 were admitted.

    With this kind of exclusiveness, U of Manitoba would easily be in the T14 in the US but they are 15 out of 16 in Canada. If I were from U of Manitoba, I would start lobbying for a North American law school ranking.

    This just drives home how pathetic and desperate US law schools are and the sad state of legal education in the US

    1. ...so what you're saying is that Ave Maria grads who struggle on the employment market should move to Manitoba to find work?

      Surely, with so few law schools, this place you call "Canada" must struggle mightily with social justice.

    2. I'm sure the average Canadian struggles to find social justice just like the average Canadian is desperately trying to figure out how to pay for health care. Also, the average Canadian law student is struggling to pay for their tuition. University of Manitoba law school tuition in US dollars is $7440 per year.