Friday, November 6, 2015

Prof Noah Feldman Builds Ark of Triumph

Consider that when Noah, old-school Noah, built his Ark, the so-called "conventional wisdom" for all marmots but two was to stay on dry land on not get on the boat of salvation with the ridiculous hippie who apparently looked like Russel Crowe.  The other marmots likely mocked those two and accused them of having the antediluvian equivalent of a 140 LSAT score, but they drowned.  Foolish marmots.

Really, it's no different with law school today.  "Conventional wisdom" is to not go.  But those who don't are going to wind up drowning in the flood of poverty-driven tears and wistful thoughts...

Now consider Noah Feldman.  Feldman, a Harvard law professor, author, and Esquire intellecttual, has done something equally impressive as constructing a giant boat.  He - somehow - has published a piece with so much testicular fortitude, so much blithe ignorance of practical commonsense realities, so much bird-flipping to do-gooder reformers, that he got called out by Jordan fucking Weissman, the guy who told people it was a good time to go to law school in JUNE 2014.

Are your loins tingling in anticipation?

Feldman claims that law schools in the business of collectively denying 140 LSAT scorers a spot "would rightly be accused of elitism and denial of opportunity."
You see, law schools just can't collectively be elitist - but it sure seems that some law schools can be elitist if they so choose and find themselves in the socio-historical position to do so.
Not every law school needs to subscribe to the technocratic-elite belief that all its handpicked students are excellent and should therefore be guaranteed success.
In other words, it's completely okay for Harvard to have elitist, high standard admissions practices that it relies upon, but schools at the bottom of the food chain should not be held to high standards or else the whole system will be elitist. 

There has to be somewhere for dreamers to dream.  Places like Florida Coastal serve a vital public function by making sure there's somewhere on the Titanic for everyone.  So what if it's in the third-tier deck?  They're allowed to pay 150k for a low chance of survival when boat meets ice.  This is America.  If people want to throw good money at bad and enrich educational oligarchs channeling Morrissey in the process, so be it.

In fact, a high bar passage rate isn't so much a sign of success, but is a sign of systemic failure to provide enough dreamspace for all the dreamers who are more than happy to put a bucket o' taxpayer-backed student loan money on black to dream.
If all law students were passing the bar, it would be a sign that law schools weren't taking a chance on students at the margin of the capacity to succeed.
Don't worry; if there's anything wrong in Feldman's "parochial" thinking, law students all over the country - even the 140 LSATs - should be able to easily suss it out on their way to holding any of the proliferate amount of JD-advantaged positions:
 We teach (I hope) rigorous thinking, strategic analysis, and a distinct approach to identifying structures of power and shaping them. Those are benefits even to graduates who don't practice law, and indeed many of the most successful graduates of my school and others don't practice law at all. They’re writers and hedge-fund managers and community organizers and presidents.
And then with the wrathful fire of Old Testament god Noah Feldman lays his big staff to the bare asses of namby-pamby paternalists:
Those who think law schools shouldn't admit students with low test scores are reflecting, whether they know it or not, a culture of paternalism that verges on infantilization. Since when did college graduates pursuing the American dream of professional success come to be seen as an act of self-delusion? Do we really need to protect people from trying to achieve their dreams?
After reading this, who wouldn't follow Noah Feldman onto the equivalent of a DIY boat built by people who believe in impending doom to the scorn of the rational world?

No one needs infantile protection from their dreams.  After all, when the world fucks one over, it sure as hell doesn't wear a condom. 

If a young person has a fantasy, and that fantasy just so happens to have a particular set of narrow historical advantages that allow its shifty purveyors to claim it's unique from other dreams, consumer products, and investments, so much so that the dreamers are willing to take on escalating amounts of absurd, non-dischargable debt for decreasing chances of earnest repayment or beneficial experience, while a bunch of loafer-wearing jackanapes can take home a cozy six figures because they had the right chairs when once the music stopped, then by the GOD of NOAH, we're going to write those dreamers a blank check no matter how badly they botched some entrance exam that only correlates with law school and career success the overwhelming majority of the time.

This is America.  If infantile snowflake wants to snowflake like an infant, we let it snowflake like an infant.


  1. Mark my words. Bar Examiners will be PRESSURED, CAJOLED, SUED and ARM TWISTED into lowing their standards all in the name of bringing legal services to the UNDER SERVED. I read a local article that noted DePaul was having a "conversation" about declining Illinois Bar passage rates. By the way, many of us neighborhood solos do provide legal services to the UNDERSERVED. The ones you see Pro Se typically suffer from Oppositional Defiant Disorder and want it FREE. Even one hundred dollars for one court appearance is too much for them, They need it for two cartons of smokes. We live in a Walmart world.

  2. The above is the absolute truth. First, the bar examiners will provide only a momentary roadblock before they too cave. Second, the unpleasant truth is that nobody wants to pay for legal services. My favorite all time painful conversation was with a prospective client-he was on Medicaid, but wanted a lawyer to fight a restraining order and the PD wouldn't. help. His question: Why should I pay for a lawyer when I get my doctor for free?

  3. I wonder if Professor Noah would feel the same way about his surgeon's education. Or would he be hesitant going under the knife with a surgeon who got into a med school with low MCAT scores, low grades and had trouble getting his medical license, but dammit, he had the dream of being a successful surgeon.

    1. Yes, us lawyers call them deep pocket defendants.