Monday, April 20, 2015

The Bar Exam is [Negatively Charged Adjective].

Brother, do you happen to have a spare fist to shake?  Because there's plenty of scolding to be done at the bar exam.

Among the words and phrases used in Allen Mendenhall's opinion-slam (not all by the author himself) about the bar exam are the following:
  • restricts access to a particular vocation
  • reduces market competition
  • products of big-city politics
  • ugly history
  • paternalistic response
  • consumer above all who is harmed
  • archaic rules
  • anticompetitive practices
  • apprenticeship model
  • Amazon, eBay, Uber and Airbnb
  • sheer ubiquity and immediacy of reputation markets
  • legal cartel
  • hazing rituals
  • meaningful change
As the value and meaning of words declines in the age of the internet, one has to wonder why we persist in writing in complete sentences and paragraphs like mulish wordsmiths.  A nice bullet-pointed list like the above can capture meaning, innovative sub-arguments, and even the most quotable phrases ("sheer ubiquity" for the championship).  Plus, those folks at home playing Free Market Bingo won't have to wade through rows of words before finding "paternalistic" or "cartel."

With legal practice in many places shifting more and more to form documents over what our predecessors did, it makes me wonder if we can't use Mad Lib-style formulae for various propaganda pieces!

Here, I'll try a few:

Form sentence:  The [thing jeopardizing law school profits] needs reform because it unfairly discriminates against [sub-set of lawyers or law students].

Filled-in sentence:  The LSAT needs reform because it unfairly discriminates against prospective students with reasoning deficiencies.

 Another filled-in sentence:  The usage of nine-month employment statistics needs reform because it unfairly discriminates against schools whose students voluntarily choose to be unemployed, like women who have children and who may also be Jewish lesbian African-Americans or something.

Form Sentence:  We must [Cold War verb] the [threat] because it obstructs our [politically-favorable adjectival phrase] ideals.

Filled-in sentence:  We must eradicate the bar exam because it obstructs our free-market ideals.

Another filled-in sentence:  We must neutralize the US News Rankings because it obstructs our Constitutional justice-driven ideals.

I can even foresee this style of form argumentation finding a welcome place in many contexts.  To wit:

Form Sentence:  The [socially-negative thing] is/are [bad adjective] because it/they [synonym for "holds back"] people who [activity related to socially-negative thing that expresses freedom from tyrannical government] while aiding the [industry] cartel.

Filled-in sentence:  The OSHA rules are defective because they restrain people who contract for a fair market wage working twenty-hour shifts in a third-world sweatshop while aiding the safety cartel.

Another filled-in sentence:  The residency requirement for surgeons is nefarious because it imprisons people who want to try a laparoscopic appendectomy after watching one on youtube while aiding the anti-home medicine cartel.

And another:  The lawyer cartel is cartel-like because it cartelizes against people who want to break the cartel by offering mergers and acquisitions work for $100 flat fees while aiding the legal cartel.

As an aside, I would like to note that libertarianism and mainstream academic liberalism may seem like odd bedfellows, particularly given the academy's reliance on government-guaranteed loans to survive.  But the fact that incompatible political ideas are being mashed together simply shows the sheer ubiquity of anti-anti-law school beliefs.

After all, if law school were such a bad idea, the internet would allow for rapid consumer response, and people would be avoiding law school altogether.  Yet, several years post recession and scamblog era, and matriculations are down only by modest percentages.  Just as those same market forces can rid the country of a bad lawyer before any serious damage is done like someone going to prison or having an estate botched, they, too, can correct for law schools being "bad."  Since seats are being filled, the market for law school seats is strong.


  1. Damn you, LSTC, why didn't Dean Allard calling the bar exam a "scam" and "rip-off" (published in Bloomberg) make this post? You disdain the long-hanging fruit? Very well.

    Ugh, this: "As an aside, I would like to note that libertarianism and mainstream academic liberalism may seem like odd bedfellows, particularly given the academy's reliance on government-guaranteed loans to survive."

    I mean, if Mr. Libertarian is looking for a price-fixing cartel, shooting fish in a barrel would be...the ABA, still under a consent decree from 1996 for price-fixing since...1973. With a civil contempt charge thrown in since then for violating the consent decree. There's a nice paragraph in the original complaint about who in on staff at the ABA.

    Btw, I read too much industry news, and your last blog piece was bar none (punny) the best article written on the subject.

    1. The prodigious Dean Allard is advancing the field faster than I can keep up. It's almost Diamondesque.

      Here's the Bloomberg article:

      On can only admire the nutsack of pure American courage it takes for the leader of an organization with 165M in net assets and ~70M in annual revenue to call out the scam of an organization with ~70M in net assets and ~20M in annual revenue for ripping off their shared target demographic.

    2. "No, you're a rip-off...!"

      "No, YOU'RE a rip-off...!"

      "NO, YOU'RE A RIP-OFF...!"

      *meanwhile, thousands of un/underemployed lawyers look on in disgust*

    3. :) I think maybe, just maybe, the 'praise' heaped on Allard in this article is tongue-in-cheek.

      If Allard wants to go around screaming an admission at the top of his lungs, 'IF WE DON'T KILL THE BAR EXAM, BROOKLYN DIES!!!,' then let the jackass do so. It must truly be late in the evening when the neck-less, butterball from Patton Boggs lobbying and election law practice has no better way to save his scam than one-liners in Bloomberg and letters to the NCBE.

      Meanwhile, February bar results...

    4. "Ugh, this: "As an aside, I would like to note that libertarianism and mainstream academic liberalism may seem like odd bedfellows, particularly given the academy's reliance on government-guaranteed loans to survive.""

      When you look at the 'public libertarians', many if not most thrive on government subsidies. The classic examples are Glenn 'Instapundit' Reynolds, who threatened to 'go Galt', denying the economy the fruits of his labor. He's a law professor. His wife threatened to do the same; she's a psychologist (IIRC) in a job which is also dependent on government funding.

      Then there's the famous 'keep government hands off my Medicare', and all of those Tea Party people who have sweet government pensions.


    5. @ Barry,

      More than enough hypocrisy to go around. Reynolds at least advocates for risk-sharing by schools and bankruptcy protection for students. By contrast, I think Richard Epstein and some other Hoover Instituters are just absurd and transparent.

      So many in academia do not want to see the status quo change, and quite apparently do not care that the government is making inherently bad loans to students in guise of benefiting them, only to entrap them in the most inequitable set of financial laws I can think of.

      The average person keeps getting ripped off by changes in law that isolate all financial risks to the least powerful players, so the powerful players can reap profits otherwise impossible to achieve. No mortgage modification in bankruptcy, no bankruptcy for student loans, no bankruptcy for medical debts (!!!).

      Frankly, it's not just conservatives, but I blame them the most. Not all growth is good growth. Endless credit-fueled consumer bubbles are not good. The expansions they fuel are not good. They won't end as long as consumers keep being treated unequally under the relevant laws - including the tax code, bankruptcy code, etc.

      It's a centrally-planned screw job.

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