Saturday, September 12, 2015

If It's Broke, Leave It As-Is

As you may recall, recently I featured Milan Markovic and Jeremy Paul's letters to the New York Times in response to Steven Harper's recent Op-Ed. Well, grab some popcorn, 'cause this motherfucker escalated to the internet intermediate appellate level...

Harper responded with a lengthy blog post on September 9. As any good BigLaw litigator would do, he misdirected the matter at hand to an irrelevant rhetorical question that guarantees his side's victory:
Would Professor Markovic and Dean Paul — among many others who similarly ignore the crisis in legal education — counsel their own children to attend a marginal law school that, upon graduation, assured them of six-figure debt but offered only dismal JD-required employment prospects?
Well, the answer is, of course, "No!" But it's not for the reason Harper wants you to believe. See, Professors like Markovic and Paul are such prodigious intellects that any offspring of theirs would truly be a remarkable genius and score a 187+ (with bonus points) on the LSAT. At that level of accomplishment, those students are looking at getting full rides to law schools like Princeton and Johns Hopkins. The idea of the marginal law school or six figure debt simply doesn't exist for them. That said, if there was some sort of selective nuclear holocaust and somehow one hundred law schools ceased to exist, then surely they might countenance a Northeastern or Texas A&M.

Currently, those "other" law schools - the ones employing Markovic and Paul - don't exist to educate the offspring of the wine tasting gentry. They exist to give an education to those 150 LSATs of modest means striving for the slightly-upper-middle-class.

Markovic, of course, knows better than to fall for the litigator's cheap trick. At TaxProf, he responded to Harper and artfully dodged the question entirely:
Even the most strident law school critics acknowledge that 2018 graduates will be in a much better position because of the steep decline in law school enrollment.
Harper’s response does reveal two things, however: His disregard for employment opportunities outside of BigLaw and willingness to conduct a grand national experiment in student loan reform that will likely leave law students more indebted while transferring profits from the treasury to private lenders. 
Markovic's response is enlightening. For one, the man is so amazing he not only can see the employment landscape three years from now, but he can also read the minds of "the most strident law school critics."

You might think, for example, that someone who writes a satirical blog to legal education might be among the "most strident law school critics" and you might presume that such a person would say "fuck no, I would never say or acknowledge that!" But Markovic will gladly play with straw men. Likewise, he adds that Harper "disregards" jobs that Harper expressly includes in his analysis. Surely, Markovic's telekinetic abilities show the sort of keen insight one receives with a T-14 + BigLaw career path...not that such a path matters because Texas A&M grads are going to rock it even if they're practicing law in a strip club bathroom.

But my favorite response is Markovic's claim that student loan reform would be a "grand national experiment." Sure, we used to rely on private student lending. Sure, the government-backed student lending system is fraught with major problems that benefit no one except higher education institutions. Sure, this is an acknowledged crisis on a national scale that only exists because some hippies decided to embark on an even more dangerous grand national experiment a few decades back.

But do we really want to try a "grand national experiment" to solve it?

I say if it's broke, leave it as it is and see if the problem corrects itself on its own. Now that legal academics know that there is a problem with law school financing - I mean, ,they commissioned multiple TASK FORCES for fuck's sake - surely we'll see some meaningful reform by private actors.

And let's not forget the numerous national crises that easily solved themselves without anyone doing anything. What makes Harper's suggestion so utterly reckless is that, in this case, the crisis was exacerbated greatly by governmental intervention. Now, as a solution they want the government to withdraw?

Whoa, Dr. Moreau, let's slow down. The American educational landscape isn't your personal playground sandbox for building phallic towers and bucket-shaped fortifications. It's the personal playground sandbox where professors can educate tomorrow's leaders at ridiculous, predatory prices.


  1. Markovic's TTT analysis relies on nothing more than a series of idiotic assumptions. See the brilliance emanating from this "educator"?

  2. "Even the most strident law school critics acknowledge that 2018 graduates will be in a much better position because of the steep decline in law school enrollment."

    Who are those critics who would agree to that bullshit and why? Tuition will still increase at 5% per year when the rate of inflation is zero so the student debt loads will be much larger relative to wages for the students graduating in 2018. And they will be competing for full time jobs with the many, many law graduates from years prior to 2018 who have been lucky enough to find part-time employment. Yes, the actual graduating class of 2018 may have fewer graduates from their own class competing for jobs, but there are likely to be fewer jobs and the majority of those jobs will be less secure and provide less compensation. There will probably be a legal equivalent of Uber ("Luber") where shit-law lawyers will now have to make house calls because the other guys are doing it.

    And as I've written before, the race of law schools to provide practical experience and to increase the number of legal clinics only hurts the general civil and criminal attorneys in the same jurisdiction. Texas A&M lists 8 clinics.

    As for Markovic employment assumptions, Texas A&M stats for the Class of 2014 state that there were 232 graduates and only 121 found full time, long term employment as an attorney. Of those 121, a total of 71 were employed in firms that were from solo to 10 attorneys. Only 3 graduates were employed in firms of over 100 attorneys. So Markovic should now tell us how he thinks these numbers for 2014 will improve in 2018.

    1. Milan Markovic's ConscienceSeptember 18, 2015 at 4:55 PM

      Fuck you, I got my slice of the pie.