Saturday, September 26, 2015

I Love the New York Times / No Evidence (The Bar Exam Saga, Cont'd)

Thank you. For this.

Five people invited to "debate," which can be summed up as follows:

Prof. Jerry Organ, who takes the scamblogger position that lower-quality-on-paper students are coming to law school, yet explaining that it's "for reasons that are hard to document empirically."

Prof. Deborah Merritt, who repeats the idea that the ExamSoft glitch contributed to low scores last year and adds on the idea that the the new subject of civil procedure was just too much for the little bastards to handle. The NCBE can't be trusted and that the ABA should create another Task Force.

Next up is a new face, Prof. Linda Sheryl Greene of Wisconsin.  After writing that law schools must better prepare the slower buffalo to run with the herd, we get this well-worn trope:
It is imperative, however, that law schools not overreact to the bar exam decline by limiting access to legal education. Instead, let’s keep the door open and provide the support students need to succeed in law school and at the bar, as well as to serve the public in and outside of the legal profession.
Is "serv[ing] the public...outside of the legal profession" like serving margaritas during happy hour?  Oh, keep those doors open!

Next up we get a briefer missive from BigLaw Recruiter Diane Downs (Harvard JD who spent time in legal academia), who, without any empirical proof, heaps high praise on the commitment, drive, and skill of the product her firm sells to its prestige-addicted clients at ridiculous and unjustifiable premiums to cover the overhead necessary to have a Chief Recruiting Officer.  Also, she delivers the best. line. ever.
They are exceedingly talented – whatever their scores were on the bar exam.
Fuck me, these people are almost impervious to parody.

Finally, we have the Big Thunder. Dean Nick Allard, who, without any apparent irony, writes things like this:
Why should our most ready-to-practice graduates, who will pass the bar anyway, spend the time, effort and money ($50,000 to $100,000 or more in lost wages and bar prep courses) on an outdated, unnecessary rite of passage...
And this:
For too long the unregulated monopoly of the testing industry has masqueraded as the self-appointed guardian of professional standards.
And this:
It is time for the A.B.A., courts and law schools to take back control of the future of the profession...
Allard is no dummy. He knows full well that some jackass could apply these quotes straight-up to an expensive three years of law school in general. That he writes this shit anyway shows he's a hardcore badass who has not one fuck to give.

Of course, the question to all five of these people was a simple one:  Is the bar too low to get into law school?  That none of the five people - three of whom are regulars in this general non-debate - directly answered the question is a thing of legal profession beauty

The answer, of course, is clearly "NO."  We can go way, way, way lower.  And when we get there, we'll be reading the same motherfucking arguments from the same or similar industry lackeys in the New York Times, and it's so fucking beautiful.

Next year, NYT, could you perhaps invite The Notorious BDG (who appears to be Prof. Brian David Galle):
It could be true that scores were lower because the test-takers were not as able, but then I could also be a Martian or a Soviet spy.  There's really no evidence of any of those.
There's also no evidence that the law professorate pontificating on this subject is a group of biased, propagandizing intellectual lightweights who very well know better but are choosing to shove their fingers in their ears and scream "IT'S NOT THE STUDENTS WE'RE ADMITTING" while they find unpersuasive red herrings because it just has to be something else.  No evidence at all that they're walking, breathing examples of stupidity, cognitive dissonance, and/or willful misrepresentation.  No evidence that this entire thing is a tacit, collective scheme to get state supreme courts to remove or lessen the importance of the MBE and/or NCBE and move to the Wisconsin model so that law schools can pump their graduates into the state bar without this embarrassing little hurdle that's somehow never been a problem before dealing with the grisly aftermath of a burst education bubble that was blown up by systemic fraud.  No evidence that the poor analytical abilities and twenty hour work weeks of the people teaching law school courses contributes to the underdevelopment of lower-quality talent.  No evidence that by making the argument that adding civil procedure is a major variable in determining bar passage rates, these professors are basically admitting that eight weeks of bar preparation developed from consistent past tests may better prepare students than the entire wasted semester or two of civil procedure that they took in law school.  No evidence that law schools would in fact admit a Martian or a student convicted of being a Soviet Spy if they could bring a promissory note and a 147 because the schools are so desperate for warm bodies they've become the post-graduate equivalent of a lonely guy who buys his back-alley hooker pussy with HIV medication.

No evidence.


  1. Beautiful takedown. Watching this incredibly slow implosion of a once respected profession that I idiotically joined is somewhat humorous to say the least. I think we've only gotten the tip of the iceberg of how bad things are going to get. The numbers next year will be even worse.

  2. $50,000 to $100,000 in lost wages (and other things that aren't THAT expensive) is an awful lot of barista shifts lost for bar prep.

  3. Deborah Jones Merritt switched sides?

    1. I personally wouldn't say phrase it in terms of "sides."

      She seems to have a lot of empathy for her students, which has led to some great commentary on debt loads and employment outcomes, but I fear it also leads to implausible arguments like the claims here.

    2. She's a law professor at a school whose name doesn't start with "Har-" and end with "-vard". Her current school's employment outcomes couldn't justify unsubsidized lending from private lenders. She's a 1980 J.D. graduate with a couple years of private sector experience as an associate. Her chances of getting a good-paying legal job in the private sector are essentially nil. She is, simply put, fucked six ways from Sunday if the GradPLUS gravy train grinds to a halt.