Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Playbook for Scoundrelling from California's Less-Accredited Schools

In an astute comment on the last post, PresTTTige (likely not a real name) noted that the unmet legal needs line of argumentation is the last refuge of scoundrel law school administrators, alluding to a quip by Samuel Johnson, a quirky man who spent nine years working on a dictionary only to have its legacy bested by the hipster fascists at Oxford and Mr. Merriam-Webster.

Unfortunately, PresTTTige's comment is slightly off the mark.  Law deans are so excellent, with such a wide battlefield of scoundrelling, that they get multiple last refuges. It's not a single last refuge, in fact, so much as a Wolf's Lair-like compound of related refuges from which the generalissimos can move deftly back and forth.

Consider this article about Southern California Institute of Law's ongoing battle with accreditation authorities over bar passage rules.

We, of course, have the classic unmet legal needs approach (not only does one need to move to Nebraska, one should maybe stop trying to work solely for Samsung, Boeing, and JP Morgan):
"We're in the business of producing qualified, competent mechanics who can day in and day out assess the basic needs of clients and find a cost-effective way to solve their problems, not work for the rare, sophisticated corporate client," said Mitchel Winick, the president and dean of Monterey College of Law, which also has a campus in San Luis Obispo. [How Cool[eyish]]
But aside from this astounding observation, we have its cousin, the "won't-someone-think-of-the-children loan mules students" approach, paired nicely with the "save the poor immigrants," "we teach our students good even though there's no objective evidence", and "let's snidely compare ourselves to one of the most successful capitalist enterprises in human history like it's a good point" approaches:
"It is our responsibility to help those who are new arrivals, who are new immigrants, who come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds," [SCIL Dean] Pulle said. "Is the only way these students are going to pass is to give them a McDonald's education or is it to challenge them to think for themselves?"
And then, for the non-ABA school, there's the "we're actually better than used car salesmen" approach:
"[The cost of the education] is doable for a lot people and it won't depreciate as soon as you walk off the lot," he said. "They will still have to push [financially], but it is what it is."
And finally - my personal favorite - the "inalienable right to fail and not be haunted" approach:
"As individuals, we have the right to pursue our dreams. Even if we cannot always attain them, there is much to be gained from trying, including the realization that something we had long hoped for is perhaps beyond our reach," the lawsuit said. "To never have tried may haunt a person for the rest of their life."
Put that in your Constitution and smoke it, 9th Circuit.

1 comment:

  1. "[The cost of the education] is doable for a lot people and it won't depreciate as soon as you walk off the lot," he said. "They will still have to push [financially], but it is what it is."

    Degrees cannot be resold on the open market. Or, if you want to think of another way, the resale and/or scrap value of a degree is $0. You can only make money from a law degree to the extent that it allows you to command a higher salary. For those who do not make themselves more valuable employees by acquiring an SCIL law degree (Roughly 100% of graduates, I'd wager), that is effectively 100% depreciation at the time of sale. That is worse than any used car in existence. An AMC Gremlin with a half-million miles on it and visible shit stains on the seats can be resold, if only for the scrap value of the metal in it.