Monday, March 30, 2015

Audit the Bar Exam Now! ...or at Least Consider Subjective Excuses

I have said it before, and I'll say it again: it is totally unfair that we have a neutral, reasonably objective, individual, professionally developed test component for determining entry to the legal profession.  What we should ask for instead is a neutral, objective, totally arbitrary guarantee that at least 90% of bar exam takers nationwide will pass the bar.

After all, what if you had an Olympics and no one could clear the first high jump bar setting?  You going to leave the podium empty?  No, sir, Mr. Gorbachev, take down that bar!

Here's LSTC Knight in Tailored Armor Nick Allard:
Over the past several months, fellow deans across the country have asked for a complete, credible and accurate explanation of the July 2014 results. We still are waiting.
I mean, I know that a group of educated professionals at the NCBE already audited these results and wrote a post-Allard summary in their newsletter, but if there's one thing the legal profession has taught me - nay, taught any of us - it's that if you don't get what you want to your satisfaction, the best course is to keep asking for it and pretend like your concerns have never been addressed by the appropriate people.  The only way Allard's concerns can be possibly addressed is either a) complete capitulation to his viewpoint or b) appeal to higher levels of experts who unjustly haven't given the chance to review it yet.

Indeed, Allard now appeals to experts.  Here's more:
[E]xpert commentators have shown through statistical analysis that, contrary to the claims by the National Conference, the Law School Admission Test scores in 2014 were comparable to the previous year’s and that, in any event, the bar-exam results do not correlate with any measurable change in LSATs. An important new expert analysis by Professor Deborah Merritt at Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law strongly suggests that National Conference of Bar Examiners’ scoring errors were the source of the problem with the July 2014 exam.
Oh, you got a PhD in test design and verification and have been using these methods for decades?  Fuck that shit, I've got a vague correlation between two tangentially related tests that measure entirely different things.  Fie on you and your expertise!  I'll provide my own.

There's also Professor Merritt, an expert who must be believed since she's a friend of the rascally reformers.  Look at her expert analysis.
After looking closely at the way in which NCBE and states grade the bar exam, I’ve concluded that ExamSoft probably was the major culprit.
The gist here is that an unknown (could be in the millions!) number of bar exam takers probably had severe problems with ExamSoft such that their performance on day 2 of the examination was four (4) raw points lower in the aggregate.  Tons of people study relentlessly between day 1 and day 2 of the bar.  This caused a domino effect that made the NCBE conclude that this group was "less able" to pass the bar, which caused lower scaling and equating than normal, thereby affecting students even in non-ExamSoft situations.
But here’s the rub: NCBE can’t tell from this general analysis why a group of examinees is less able than an earlier group. Most of the time, we would assume that “less able” means less innately talented, less well prepared, or less motivated. But “less able” can also mean distracted, stressed, and tired because of a massive software crash the night before. 
Forget that first-time takers had a lower score drop year-over-year than retakers by a significant margin and that ExamSoft is about as trusty as running Windows 95 on a Tandy.  We've got an alternative hypothesis.

We must take this further, of course.  Students should be allowed to declare any distracting of stressful occurrence in their life to have factored in their bar examination score in a way that benefits law schools.  Among a proposed list should include:
  • The weather outside - was it raining? blisteringly hot?  windy?
  • The biologic - was the examinee on her menstrual cycle?  Pregnant?  How were the bathrooms set up?  Did they have to pee for the last hour?  Any untreated source of pain?  That can cause scores to drop.  Was the examinee horny the whole time?  Sitting next to a well-endowed "hottie"?
  • The familial/personal - any divorces?  Deaths?  Break-ups?  Sick children?  That's like ten raw score points right there.
  • The material - is their phone broken?  Car problems?  Not wearing the right outfit?
  • The national picture - any recent insurrections?  What's the president's approval rating?  How about the economic outlook?
  • The financial - speaking of which, almost nothing is more stressful than financial woes.  Does this student have unpayable debt and bleak job prospects from a third-rate and unnecessary education institution?  Because that should be worth at least ten raw points.
  • The astrological - the bar exam is the same general time every year, but Taurus isn't always in the same space!
  • The dietary - did the examinee eat breakfast?  What did they eat for supper?  Did they take a multivitamin?  Are they on drugs?  We can't assume they aren't on drugs unless they tell us.  If every bar examinee did a line of coke before the test, we would have to assume scores would be affected!
  •  The fatigue - every examinee should be allowed to note the number of hours they slept the night before and whether they feel exhausted or not.  Many examinees stay in hotels - was the bed comfy?  Was it a Holiday Inn Express or better? 
  • Finally, every examinee should get a paragraph of lines to explain their stress level prior to taking an expensive multiday test whose passage is a prerequisitve to consideration for employment in the one field they actually have a 50-50 excellent chance at landing employment in.
If we can't account for each and every one of these things, we can't know why the students are failing and we'll be left to conclude based on reasonable, objective inferences that law school graduates may not be as intellectually competent as their peers from three to four years ago.  That's just an unfair conclusion to make, and it totally doesn't fit with any plans to open admissions further.

As a result, Allard, Merritt and other folks clearly are in the right for demanding a full audit and official investigation.  The NCBE is clearly biased towards having stressed and uncomfortable graduates fail for no reason.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Scam Madness 2015! Congratulations Arizona Summit!

Our (cough) most popular feature, Scam Madness(c)(tm) is back!

As you will recall, two years ago, Florida Coastal won a thrilling final match against Cinderella Wilamette.  Last year, the tournament was abandoned mid-stream and Cooley declared itself the unofficial runner-up to Harvard.  Yes, I've been waiting a year to use that joke.

On to the bracket!

EAST
1 NYLS
16 Syracuse
8 Quinnipiac
9 Seton Hall
 4 Western New England
13 Drexel
5 Pace
 12 Catholic
2 Brooklyn
15 Vermont
7 Widener
10 New England
3 New Hampshire
14 Touro
6 Albany
11 Seton Hall

MIDWEST
1 Cooley
16 Michigan State
8 Indiana Tech
9 Valparaiso
4 Dayton
13 Drake
5 St. Louis
12 Northern Kent.
2 Case Western
15 South Dakota
7 William Mitchell
10 John Marshall
3 Capital
14 Depaul
6 Hamline
11 Iowa

SOUTH
1 Florida Coastal
16 Regent
8 South Texas
9 Barry
4 American
13 George Washington
5 Emory
12 Charlotte
2 Washington & Lee
15 William & Mary
7  Belmont
10 Stetson
3  Appalachian
14 Texas A&M
6  Charleston
11 Elon

WEST
1 TJLS
16 New Mexico
8 UNLV
9 Denver
4 UC-Irvine
13 UC-Hastings
5 La Verne
12 Cal-Western
2 Whittier
15 Montana
7 Seattle
10 North Texas
3  Arizona Summit
14 Golden Gate
6  Lewis & Clark
11 MacGeorge

LET THE MADNESS COMMENCE!
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ROUND ONE:  STICKER COSTS

On our first elimination round, we're doing a straight costs comparison.  Who has the audacity to charge more to the few/many students who are dumb enough pay sticker?

EAST
1 NYLS
16 Syracuse
8 Quinnipiac
9 Seton Hall
 4 Western New England
13 Drexel
5 Pace
12 Catholic
2 Brooklyn
15 Vermont
7 Widener
10 New England
3 New Hampshire
14 Touro
6 Albany
11 Syracuse

MIDWEST
1 Cooley
16 Michigan State
8 Indiana Tech
9 Valparaiso
4 Dayton
13 Drake
5 St. Louis
12 Northern Kent.
2 Case Western
15 South Dakota
7 William Mitchell
10 John Marshall
3 Capital
14 Depaul
6 Hamline
11 Iowa

SOUTH
1 Florida Coastal
16 Regent
8 South Texas
9 Barry
4 American
13 George Washington
5 Emory
12 Charlotte
2 Washington & Lee
15 William & Mary
7  Belmont
10 Stetson
3  Appalachian
14 Texas A&M
6  Charleston
11 Elon

WEST
1 TJLS
16 New Mexico
8 UNLV
9 Denver
4 UC-Irvine
13 UC-Hastings
5 La Verne
12 Cal-Western
2 Whittier
15 Montana
7 Seattle
10 North Texas
3  Arizona Summit
14 Golden Gate
6  Lewis & Clark
11 MacGeorge
 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 ROUND TWO:  LSAT LIMBO

In Round Two, we're looking solely at which school had the lower 25% LSAT score for matriculating students for the admitted class of 2013 (current 2Ls):

1 NYLS
9 Seton Hall
4 Western New England
12 Catholic
15 Vermont
10 New England
14 Touro
11 Syracuse

1 Cooley
9 Valparaiso (tie - Valpo has a lower median)
13 Drake
5 St. Louis
2 Case Western
10 John Marshall
14 Depaul
6 Hamline

1 Florida Coastal
9 Barry
13 George Washington
5 Emory
2 Washington & Lee
7  Belmont
14 Texas A&M
11 Elon

1 TJLS
9 Denver
13 UC-Hastings
12 Cal-Western
2 Whittier
7 Seattle
3  Arizona Summit
11 MacGeorge
 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ROUND THREE:  JOBS DATA MANIPULATION

What a sweet sixteen!  In this round, the winner is the school that has done a better job of artificially manipulating its employment numbers by hiring back its own students and counting them as employed in a coveted position.  On with the madness!

1 NYLS
4 Western New England
10 New England
14 Touro

9 Valparaiso
13 Drake
10 John Marshall
6 Hamline

1 Florida Coastal
5 Emory
7  Belmont
11 Elon

1 TJLS
12 Cal-Western
2 Whittier
3  Arizona Summit
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ROUND FOUR:  CASH, BABY

Onions!  Some more juggernauts fall!  Now it's time to punch tickets to the Final Four.

This round is also simple:  who's got more cash and financial resources?  In other words, who's really playing the game more for sport than because they actually have a non-profit mission to educate and serve?

1 NYLS
10 New England

9 Valparaiso
10 John Marshall

5 Emory
11 Elon

12 Cal-Western
3  Arizona Summit
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
ROUND FIVE: FINAL FOUR

What's in a name?  In this round, we look at what or whom the law school is named after, and determine - in the LSTC's sole discretion with input from Dean Satan - which one in scammier.

NYLS - a very large city named after its state named in honor of English royalty or something
VALPARAISO - a city in Indiana named after a city in Chile despite its Yankee pronunciation

EMORY - am 18th c. Methodist minister from Maryland
ARIZONA SUMMIT - an unknown, intangible mountain symbolizing the pinnacle of a legal education and/or an overdose of peyote.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ROUND SIX:   THE TITLE BOUT

It's finals time and it's a heavyweight bout between the Valparaiso Law Crusaders, with the religious sentiment of taking the meekest of LSAT scorers, and the Arizona Summit Mountaineers, with the fortitude of climbing invisible, things like mountains of insurmountable debt.

Our final category is... IT'S A DEAN-OFF!  SCAM MADNESS!

Valparaiso's dean is Andrea Lyon.  Dean Lyon is a real lawyer who has defended multiple capital murder cases to trial.  Prior to becoming dean she was a clinical professor at Depaul and Michigan.  There's some nice ideas about pseudo-reform and diversity, but overall, I'm greatly concerned that she's spent too much time actually practicing law.

Arizona Summit's dean is Shirley Mays.  Dean Mays was formerly at Capital University for a term in an assistant dean role.  She has served on ABA site visit committees as well as being on various other commissions in Ohio and Arizona related to legal education.

Well, this is obvious.

Congratulations, Arizona Summit!  You are the 2nd undisputed champion of Scam Madness!

Cue the band playing One Shining Moment and savor the glory, Summiteers.  You are the 2nd Infilaw school to take home the crown and the first from west of the Mississippi.  You smashed the competition like the Kentucky Wildcats and maybe - just maybe - ten (10) of your students can be highly-paid professionals some day, too.  Alumni donations have to come from somewhere, am I right?

And hopefully your win fuels the real Arizona to win the NCAAs.  The LSTC has, uh, part of its operating funds tied up in a sophisticated financial instrument related to same.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Amazing Dynamism of Prof. Noah Feldman's Prose

Early in his piece for Bloomberg View, Prof. Noah Feldman makes a stunning remark:
Law school isn’t really necessary for lawyers or their clients.
Uh oh.  Sharpen the pitchfork, Dean Satan, we've got another Professor Benedict.  But Feldman explains his point: lawyering requires training from real practice.  As he says:  "Lawyering is an art, not a science. And the only way to learn an art well is by doing it."(1)

But then he totally redeems himself:
Yet law school is absolutely essential -- not for lawyers with clients, but for our society as a whole.
It may be junk when spouted by lesser law professors, but this man is a bona fide public intellectual who has written six books in a decade and was a talking head in a Ken Burns documentary!  He clerked for a S.C. judge!  Heed his wisdom!
Law functions as a monopoly over all other forms of decision-making. When you make a life decision without a lawyer, it’s because the law allows you to do it. Unlike art or accounting or investment banking or even medicine, law affects and governs literally every aspect of human existence -- whether you like it or not. (2)
I used to have this friend Jimmy.  Jimmy was mayor of his own town out in the middle of Montana.  Anyway, Joey passed a law in his town that people who jump off cliffs are required to fly like Eagles.  And I said to Joey, Jimmy, whatever, "Uh, don't you think that the law of gravity is going to require that they fall to their deaths?"  And Jimmy said, "nope!  Law has a monopoly on governing literally every aspect of human existence!"  And then Joey jumped off the mountain cliff.  I never saw him again, and can only assume that he flew like an Eagle, perhaps to the sea.

And that's when I learned the power of law.  And it's incredibly important for law schools to run this here parade because law schools - and only law schools - can show students what the law "can be."
Our society desperately needs the law to evolve, adapt and improve -- or else we’d be quickly stuck in one place, struggling for change against a static legal system trying to hold us back.(3)
The answer here seems simple:  just write a new law that the evil, wicked law can't try to hold us back by being static if we're stuck in the mud because it's not evolving to suit our desperation for us to change it.  But maybe more refined solutions are in order, learned at America's finest law schools.
We teach students to understand that the quest for justice is an irreducible part of legal reasoning -- and that the meaning of justice is always and everywhere being contested and challenged. (4)
And because every lawyer has a client who seeks perfect justice in the world, this is easily achievable and does not, in any way, present ethical quandaries for attorneys representing bad guys.(5)

So in the end, law school offers so much more than any other mode of educating lawyers.
You can apprentice to be a good tax lawyer, but that won't prepare you to face the big questions. (6)
...
So the answer to who needs law school is: all of us. No society in history has ever changed as rapidly and dynamically as ours (7)...This amazing dynamism all requires legal regulation so that it doesn’t spin out of control.
Amazing dynamism, indeed!  If you, like me, don't want to see what happens when amazing dynamism spins out of control (I'm guessing it's some sort of nuk-u-lar thing!), go to law school and/or support legal education today!

Also - vote for Prof. Feldman if his name ever comes up for federal judge.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(1) No - it's actually a craft.  Learn the difference between the two and you'll understand a lot more about lawyering instead of the nonsense taught by law schools.  Real art requires vision, inspiration, and creative mastery; education can only develop an artist, it cannot make one.  Contra crafts:  techniques and tricks that require no particular creativity beyond applying rules of thumb to slightly different situations.  Lawyering is more like the white collar, intellectual equivalent of butchering a hog or building a birdhouse than it is about painting on a blank canvas. 

(2)  Feldman obviously must be smarter than me because I have no idea what the fuck he's talking about.  Human existence predates law (how did our ancestors make life decisions without its permission?), so is he simply saying that we live in a country with law, therefore law can govern any aspect of our lives?  Because that's not even true.  Moreover, no government - outside of dystopian techno totalitarianism - could possibly regulate human thought or emotion or biological processes.  He's apparently trying to pretend law is something other than what it is: a systematic method of promoting the common welfare and providing for peaceful dispute resolution.  Also, "monopoly" doesn't mean what he seems to think it means.

(3) This man has written six (6) books, and they don't appear to be self-published.

(4) Health disclaimer:  please do not try to think about this sentence.  You could literally replace "justice" with any other object, and I don't think the sentence changes its meaning much.  Watch:  "We teach students to understand that the quest for ornamental kale is an irreducible part of legal reasoning -- and that the meaning of ornamental kale is always and everywhere being contested and challenged."  See?

(5)  Note: there's always like a 65-70% chance you're representing a bad guy.  

(6) If only Jefferson and Lincoln had gone to law school, they might have been able to address "big questions" on the level of Barack Obama and Noah Feldman.  What type of an arrogant nut-bag seriously thinks advanced professional education by his special hands is necessary to grasp the bigger questions in life?  Any intelligent, aware person who has a bare-bones liberal arts education (or reading history) and about five minutes with the justice system is going to contemplate bigger questions about justice and truth.  Shit, novelists like Voltaire, Dickens, and Harper fucking Lee have been addressing the bigger questions for centuries in ways the Harvard faculty can't because of their biases and obligations.

 (7) Oh, really?  If you actually believe this tripe, you may want to pause the quest for justice and read a fucking history book.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Appalachian Spring; Drink up and Talk Merger!

Emory (Georgia) is a great law school.  But can you imagine Emory North?  A second Emory?  Combining the prestigious aura of Emory with the superciliousness of educational institutions in rural Virginia?

When you need hard-hitting investigative reporting about such things, WCYB Channel Five is on the case.
We were contacted about the status of the Appalachian School of Law by people concerned about its future.  News 5 WCYB's Samantha Kozsey visited the school and spoke to one of its board of trustees, as well as alumni, faculty and former faculty as well as legal consultants about the future of law schools specifically ASL. Just about everyone we spoke to said, this is a tough time especially for the few remaining 'free-standing' private law schools.
Notice that the news organization was contacted by anonymous 3rd parties.  Not the school, surely, but people in the massive outlying legal community who know that if Appalachian Law School shutters it's doors, an entire mountain region loses a crucial source of justice.  Sweet, sweet justice.

Can we help out Virginia Summit Appalachian Law School?  Of course we can!  Merger talks!:
In response to the declining enrollment and the drop in faculty, ASL has entered into discussions with Emory and Henry College to see if they can work out an affiliation.
...
We spoke with the public affairs director, Dirk Moore at Emory and Henry. He says both schools have agreed to continue discussions. He says Emory and Henry needs more time to determine if affiliating with ASL makes sense for them.
 ...
Emory and Henry isn't the only school that has expressed interest in the Appalachian School of Law. We also learned there were brief conversations between people from ASL and some people at ETSU, but no formal discussion about a partnership was ever reached.
Well, fuck, they should.  Have they not heard about all the good things that happen from when you have a law school affiliated with your school?  Cross-disciplinary institute studies with combo JD-whatever degrees are the rage, and guaranteed to help graduates stand out, just like they have in Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook, and by gum it put them on the map.

Emory and Henry is named after John Emory (same as Emory U.) and Patrick Henry.  The college was founded in 1836 and has an endowment of over $85 million, which could surely be burned through by a fine college of law until the legal sector comes roaring back, and then they'll see the mountainous return on investing when the market is selling.

Contrarian thinking, just like your namesakes!

And before long, you may be as prestigious and enjoy the billion-dollar endowment of another double-named Virginia tag-team of liberal arts and law...

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Pace Blue Light Special Bargain: Private Law School at Public Cost

One of the better things to arise out of the hearty, newfound competition among America's 200 or so top law schools is that it's promoted a veritable renaissance of law school sales pitches.

The latest inspired offer comes to us from Pace.  The Wall Street Journal calls it a "fire sale," which generally means the purchaser is getting a ridiculously good deal.  Who are you to disagree with the Wall Street Journal?
Starting next academic year, qualifying students who enroll at Pace can earn a law degree at the tuition rate of their home-state public law school.
...
The size of the discount would vary depending on the home state of the applicant. University of Florida, for example, charges in-state residents about $22,200. So an accepted applicant from Florida would pay less than half of Pace’s normal rate. The discount would be even steeper for students from Arkansas, whose in-state tuition stands around $14,000.
On the surface, Pace is simply attempting to compete with the lowest sticker price option an applicant has.  Will match competitor coupons!  But it does so much more:  by varying the price based on an applicant's home state, they're incentivizing applicants from states like Wyoming.  This is a cunning way to increase diversity, as Pace will no doubt have a flood of applications from the mountain states, enriching the White Plains community. 

Smart applications would be wise to move near the cheapest public law school ASAP to get the best price point on this deal.  But not too fast!  This bargain's not for everybody.  Exclusive, platinum card offer!
The program isn’t offered to any applicant. A Pace spokesman told Law Blog that eligibility would be mostly based on applicant GPA and LSAT scores with a loose cut-off around the median scores of Pace’s own students.
Yes, that's right, folks, this can't-miss deal is available only to people who loosely score around a 150 on the LSAT.  So get studying.  Additionally, to keep the deal, students have to be in the top 50% of the class, which thankfully is a fairly easy feat for the entire class to attain.

And with White Plains' super-low cost of living, this makes getting a prestigious private school education as affordable as ever.  Spots limited, act fast!  Low interest rates available! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lawyer Earnings Increase "Exponentially", Gainful Employment Rule Exponentially Stupid

Martha, My Dear is a rather silly Paul McCartney song that represents a plot point in his long spiral from writing catchy tunes to writing catchy tunes whose author needs a swift kick to the balls.

But I couldn't help uttering the song's title while reading Martha Walters Barnett's enthralling piece on the so-called "Gainful Employment Rule."  For the ignorant (a sharp majority of the readership), the "Gainful Employment Rule" would peg an educational institution's ability to receive student loan benefits to the loan payments of that school's graduates.  In short, estimated annual loan payments should be less than 8% of annual earnings in years 3 and 4 post-graduation.

Barnett, an attorney (retired) with Holland & Knight, sniffs rancid bullshit and brings a fire hose of truthy hot air freshener:
Imagine law schools whose graduates diversify the profession, contribute to the public good and have among the lowest loan repayment default rates. And now, imagine if those law schools were shut down because of a misguided and misinformed federal regulation? 
Shit, let's continue the theme:
Imagine law schools shut down.
It's painful if you try
No rock of justice below us
Life on Earth would die.

Imagine all the people
Needing a lawyer's aid

Imagine there's no loans
It's quite scary to do
No one to pay my salary
No more 3Ls looking screwed

Imagine all the people
Living a lawless life

You may say that I'm a schemer
But I'm not the only one
There's a massive surplus of lawyers
And we need every single one!
If only John Lennon had conveyed that message instead of "peace" and other non-exploitative hippie poo. . .

Back to the article.  Ms. Barnett urges that law graduates are different when it comes to earning those future paychecks*:
[T]he rule shouldn’t be applied on a “one-size-fits-all” basis to programs ranging from culinary schools to law schools. Among other things, the rule ignores the fact that the earnings of graduates of “first professional degree” programs - such as doctors and lawyers - increase exponentially over time. The rule measures "debt to earnings" long before those with professional degrees will tap their higher earnings to pay down their student loans. 
Sometimes I think people must read my work and think "LSTC, you sly bastard, you're making this up!"  No, here, Martha Walters Barnett did.

All the time, I hear law graduates complain, "why did I get a law degree if I'm only making $10.00 an hour folding clothes?"  Well, math whiz, it's time to learn about super-exponententiality.

If you make $10.00 an hour now, that means your earnings will grow exponentially over time.  How exponentially?  Sky's the limit, bro'.  Let's say you have minimal exponent growth factor of 1.1.
Year 1:  10.00 ^ 1.1 = 12.50
Year 2:  12.50 ^ 1.1 = 16.09
Year 3:  16.09 ^ 1.1 = 21.25
Year 4:  21.25 ^ 1.1 = 28.84
Year 5:  28.84 ^ 1.1 = 40.36
Year 6:  40.36 ^ 1.1 = 58.42
Year 7:  58.42 ^ 1.1 = 87.74
Year 8:  87.74 ^ 1.1 = 137.25
Year 9:  137.25 ^ 1.1 = 224.53
Year 10: 224.53 ^ 1.1 = 385.83
See?  With the power of exponential growth, your modest $10.00/hour earnings now becomes the equivalent of $800,000 per year (not including benefits!) by year 10.  Tap that earnings potential and pay down those loans, you mold scraping!  And don't worry - even if you're guaranteed* a lower exponential return rate, it's no doubt higher than the de minimis exponential rate at which your student loans increase.
It is worth noting that if the GE rule were to apply to all ABA-accredited law schools, some well-regarded private, non-profit law schools would fail. Furthermore, if applied to law schools, this rule would encourage institutions to exclude applicants and even dismiss students who would have to borrow significant sums to finance their legal education.
You're damn tootin', Martha.  No way should law schools be incentivized to lower tuition or reallocate scholarship funding to be based on financial need rather than an LSAT score.  Do these jackholes at the DOE not understand the rankings games we play?

The DOE is obviously out of its element.  They need insider help.
Instead of burdening law schools with misplaced regulations, the Education Department should follow the lead of the ABA. 
Nice!  Let's follow it up with a personal touch:
I can personally attest to the quality and practice-ready education offered at one such law school, Florida Coastal, from which my son, a successful practitioner, graduated.
InfiLaw anecdote for the win!  If we were playing propaganda bingo, Martha would be getting the death stare from depressed old people with diabetes, 'cause she's a winner five times over.

To round out the Beatles theme, I would suggest that the DOE is seeking to become the proverbial Taxman; that when you're sixty-four the loans will surely be paid off with your billions; that your law degree will, in fact, give you your money; and that money can buy you love . . . of the lucrative law (also hookers, Paul.  Hookers.).

But perhaps the best words of wisdom can be inspired by one of Ringo's solo efforts:
Got to pay your dues if you wanna wear nice shoes,
And you know it don't come easy.
Hey DOE shrews, don't you read the evenin' news?
JD earnings grow exponent'ly.

I don't ask for much, I only want your trust,
And you can surely trust this ind'stry.
These earnings of mine, they keep growing all the time,
And you know it just ain't easy.
It sure isn't, Ringo, not with all these government fatcats trying to meddle with our free-market exploitation with their "rules."  Law schools aren't like for-profit colleges.   Why?  Because we say so.  That's why.

*not a warranty, guarantee, or promise of any kind; legally-unreliable puffery despite our presentation of such facts as a universal and obvious truth.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Two Handsome Faces of Dean Satan

In the wake of the U.S. News Rankings, LSTC friend and valued contributor Dean Satan has submitted the following two letters.

LETTER ONE - TO USE IF LAW SCHOOL RISES IN US NEWS RANKINGS


Dear Esteemed Members of the Hell School of Law Community:

Today, I beam with pride, for the chicks have come home to roost in the best way imaginable; indeed, the administrative gamecock has never been more satisfied.

This morning, I received a fresh copy of the U.S. News Rankings.  As many of you know, U.S. News is one of the most celebrated and often-awarded publications in American journalism.  Every March, it tasks its team of well-credentialed experts with a thorough, objective, honest examination of American law schools.

It pleases me greatly that Hell School of Law has yet again risen in the U.S. News Rankings!  This marks a considerable step in my tenure as dean, a shine of my shoes, a manicure of the silky red hands, another sharpened prong on my gilded pitchfork.

The causes of our steady yet precipitous rise are numerous.  This past year, we opened the nation's first legal aid clinic devoted to issues of transnational African law.  We founded our third Institute of Peace, Liberty, and Social Justice, which will allow new titles to be given to lucky faculty members.  We also instituted our Semester in the Seychelles program, where five noble faculty members travel to the south Pacific to teach contract law.

Of most primary importance to our rise, though, is YOU.  Students, your entering LSAT scores did not decline nearly as much as our rival schools, and ore of you total suckers accepted our juicy, mouth-watering scholarships than ever before.  Of course, such results arise from my awe-inspiring efforts to scam you loan-monkeys, but today I give credit to YOU.

And to YOU, my trusted faculty, you continued to publish inconsequential garbage at impressive rates.  I particularly applaud the senseless genocide of trees we propagated to print another year of exemplary work in our tertiary environmental law journal.  A special nod must also go to Professor Beelzebub, who blew off students for twenty-three consecutive days in order to generate his article about the inarguable post-graduate value of a juris doctor degree.  I encourage our faculty to continue to deepen their probing engagement of our student's bodies, I mean body.

Let us all continue to play our instrumental instruments in the glorious orchestra of our discordant scam, and I have faith that the experts at U.S. News will continue to reward our efforts.

Yours,

D.S.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

LETTER TWO:  TO USE IF NEIL ARMSTRONG AND BUZZ ALDRIN ARE STRANDED ON MOON SCHOOL DROPS IN U.S. NEWS RANKINGS

Dear friends:

I was shocked, but not surprised, to review the latest U.S. News Rankings.  As many of you know, many law schools overemphasize the importance of the U.S. News Rankings by finding excuses to spend money and play "games" with law student admissions, the type of thing that would besmirch Hell.

As I am sure you have heard, Hell Law School dropped [x] places in the most recent rankings.  I write today to explain why there is little need for concern.  I believe, for one, that our drop shows the problems with the rankings, and not any issues with Hell Law School.

Consider all that we have done recently under my principled leadership.  This past year, we opened the nation's first legal aid clinic devoted to issues of transnational African law.  We founded our third Institute of Peace, Liberty, and Social Justice, which will allow new titles to be given to lucky faculty members.  We also instituted our Semester in the Seychelles program, where five noble faculty members travel to the south Pacific to teach contract law.

The quality of our student body has remained steadily excellent (as we know, the most recent bar results have numerous problems too obvious to actually explain), and our trusted faculty have continued to publish inconsequential garbage at impressive rates.  I particularly applaud the senseless genocide of trees we propagated to print another year of exemplary work in our tertiary environmental law journal.  A special nod must also go to Professor Beelzebub, who blew off students for twenty-three consecutive days in order to generate his article about the inarguable post-graduate value of a juris doctor degree.  I encourage our faculty to continue to deepen their probing engagement of our student's bodies, I mean body.

Indeed, in reviewing the factors that led to our decline in U.S. News Ranking, the only one that significantly declined was our post-graduate employment results.  As you know, we have little control over what our graduates do after they leave our hallowed halls.  If they would choose to pursue the interests of justice by being under- or unemployed, that is their decision, and Hell Law School respects their choices.  Any of our students who have the drive and networking to land gainful employment in the legal sector can do so.

That U.S. News would insult us for something totally outside of our control despite everything else happening on the blazing hot Hell Law School campus only shows its obsolete irrelevance.  Law school deans should not rely on U.S. News as any sort of barometer for law school success, and I am proud to report that this law school dean does not.

All we can do is continue to excel at turning and burning another generation of satisfied law school consumers while squeezing out the happy juices for the law school's preeminent faculty.  I encourage you to continue to do so and give no heed to publications that, should they ever be ranked, would be squarely in the fifth tier.

Yours,

D.S.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

My Theory re: Campos Ranting About UC-Irvine and Dean Chemerinksy

As you'll recall, Prof. Paul Campos is somewhere between unpublished mountebank and deranged lunatic.  So it should come as no surprise that he lashes out against UC Irvine and Dean Erwin Chemerinsky:
 All this means the law school must be currently losing a whole lot of money. How much? Well those 43 faculty are costing the school close to ten million per year in salary and benefits, which means the school’s total operating costs are probably well more than double that....

Meanwhile, how much tuition revenue is the school pulling in this year? ...

[Its] 326 students are probably paying an average effective tuition rate this year in the mid to high 20s. Let’s say $27K per capita. That’s $8.8 million dollars. UCI was given $20 million by real estate mogul Donald Bren to found the law school, but that money has probably already been burnt through in large part to buy the school’s first few classes (the original class paid no tuition, and subsequent classes paid, and continue to pay, drastically less than list price). Of course the school has no endowment to speak of beyond that original nest egg, nor is it getting anything in annual giving from its as yet almost completely hypothetical alumni base. So that pretty much exhausts the sources of law school revenues (grants and contracts, so critical to the funding of academic departments which do work that the outside world is actually willing to pay for, remain rare in legal academia).
Oooh - he's doing math.  Here, Campos makes a number of unwarranted assumptions in his pursuit to play swivel-chair economist and "prove" UC-Irvine is suffering an operating loss in the millions.

Sure, he's drawing straightforward, rational conclusions from what is objectively known.

But I have a theory of my own.  As we all know, the U.S. News rankings were recently released.  Chemerinsky's UC Irvine went from totally unranked to 30th in the country.  In doing so, they smoothly leapfrogged Campos' University of Colorado - which is a paltry 40th.  Colorado law professors on average make about half of what Chemerinsky does and they're living in Colorado instead of the hippity-hoppin' O.C.  And Chemerinsky has a whole constitutional law textbook with his name on it.

So my theory, which is mine, came up with by me, brackets, I own it, brackets, is that Prof. Paul Campos started with a little bit of envy for the great things Dean Chemerinsky is doing at Irvine, and now it's grow to a BIG envy for the great things Dean Chemerinsky is doing at Irvine.  This is causing him to seek out perfectly objective data and reach journalistic conclusions regarding the financial state of UC Irvine.

The good news is that my theory postulates an end to Prof. Campos' uncontrolled jealousy of Dean Chemerinsky.  At some point, he will realize he simply cannot be as awesome as Dean Chemerinsky.

Can you see Paul Campos huckstering it up and blowing $10 million a year on a vanity law school?  Can you see him take the necessary steps to tell the administration there is still a need for another 2nd Tier law school in southern California?  Can you see him continue to hire full-time faculty as it becomes clearer that the school's ideal target pool is shrinking rapidly?

No, of course you cannot.  Paul Campos has a sense of objective reality and a moral pulse.  He's not going to do the necessary hustling and scheming to open such an ambitious and ill-fated institution.  He's not going to have the balls to keep hiring more and more faculty as the market dries up.

It takes a special vision to be Erwin Chemerinsky and understand that losing money now is worth it because, at some point, UC-Irvine will be on par with Stanford and its alumni network will be a machine of donations as the school continues to be an innovative educational leader in the greater Los Angeles area.  You've got to be insane - which Campos likely is - but it's a particular type of insanity that says, "No, I don't care if the legal market in California is like a bad Botox injection; I'm going to open a new law school and spend so much money it becomes elite because we don't already have any of those in-state."

Sure, losing what sounds like millions every year sounds bad now.  But if Irvine can weather the current cyclical recession and wait out a few dozen other law school closures first, it may be in an excellent position to serve the people of Orange County long-term and possibly break even if it brings in enough students.  That's the sort of long-term vision that only comes with a lifetime commitment to public service, a particularized comprehension of constitutional principles, and an unparalleled institutional vision.

Campos simply doesn't have it, or else he would have spearheaded U. of Colorado-Colorado Springs Law School by now.  400k people and no law school - it's like these people don't know golden opportunities when they see them.  A law school in Colorado Springs could easily lose millions a year, but there Campos sits, blogging honest, useful journalism from his little keyboard.

In fact, I have a theory of how U. of Colorado-Colorado Springs Law School (UCCSLS) would play out.  It would be small in the beginning, then get really really big, then keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

Just like the prospects of UC-Irvine and its nascent alumni ranks.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Her Name is Rio and She Wants a New Law School

So the Washington Post has put out yet another irresponsible article about law schools being in a "death spiral," written by Dorothy Brown of Emory, one of those turncoat professors.  Of course, they aren't, and even if they were, they'd be taking American justice with them.

Some particularly odoriferous bits of blahbity-blah inanity:
No law school has figured out how to handle the new normal of legal education: the lowest number of applicants in four decades; fewer legal jobs for graduates; and, according to Moody’s, “no relief in sight.”
...
Legal scholarship is in a terrible state...
...
Law schools are run by the faculty for the faculty. A former colleague once put it like this: “If we could run this law school without students, this place would be perfect.” [ed. - this sounds confidential to me; did these heretics manage to avoid learning about "hush-hush" in their paltry-compared-to-trustier-faculty legal careers?] He happened to be the dean.
...
But while faculty cannot be terminated, their summer research stipends can be. Other disciplines require faculty to obtain external funding to support their work. Law schools should take a similar approach.
This high-and-mighty Campos-lite charlatanism is devoid of the proper respect law schools deserve as a result of their existence guarding the pot o' gold at the end of justice's rainbow.  And because Ms. Brown is female, we can invoke gendered criticisms as well.  What a bitch!

THANKFULLY, not everyone listens to objective truth and sound reason.  There are - THANKFULLY - still leaders who understand the value of legal education: getting what you can while you can, and employing a well-dressed faculty.  Or should I say MUCHAS GRACIAS?
The allure of law school can be powerful.

Nowhere is that more clear than the Rio Grande Valley, whose leaders are persisting in efforts to win a new, state-subsidized law school despite declining enrollments nationally and double-digit unemployment for the graduates of some programs.

Those trends don't seem to apply in the port city of Brownsville, said Rep. Eddie Lucio III, a lawyer beginning his fifth term in office at the Capitol and making his third attempt to bring a law school back home.

“We’re still very underserved," Lucio said.
"Very underserved!"  That sounds critical to me.  Someone get this place the epinephrine of Pennoyer v. Neff, stat!

But there's more, of course.  There are real lawyers who had to leave the area to get a high-quality legal education.



“I had to leave to go to Miami to go to law school,” said Steven Tipton, a Brownsville immigration attorney who recently launched a solo practice. “If there would have been a law school here, I could have stayed closer to my family.”
With $300,000 in law-school debt, Tipton, 39, is still trying to get on his feet. He's just beginning to pay off the loans that financed his degree from St. Thomas University School of Law.

Mr. Tipton is, of course, downplaying the excellence of St. Thomas (Miami version), the incredible value it offers students, and its natural focus on immigration law.  But it's clear that if there were a law school even halfway to St. Thomas's caliber in Brownsville, Texas, budding lawyers like Mr. Tipton could hang out closer to home before hanging their shingles.

What, exactly, do you have against home-cooked meals, you domineering skeptics of new law school construction?

The article offers a number of other gems, like this remark from our state legislator:


“I have a hard time believing there are no jobs for attorneys out there," he said.


And this statement from our immigration attorney, supra:


“We are legally underserved in the valley when it comes to immigration law. I wish there was 100 more,” he said.


MAS ABOGADOS!  LET'S MAKE IT A REALITY, FRIENDS! 

With the simple act of writing a letter to the Texas state legislature to tell them that the law school "crisis" is little more than a hoax like global warming and that all the "proof" is smoke and mirrors, you can help flood southern Texas with a waves of sweet justice, not to mention bolstering the regional economy with a fresh influx of student loan money.  Just like Fort Wayne is now basking in the sunshine of having its own law school, so too can Brownsville.

Someone should set up a bilingual hotline for this bullshit.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Law Schools Should go to Prison

Meet Jonathan Reynolds.  Reynolds was the special snowflake hippie weed dealer for his school, then was convicted as an adult for selling blow at the ripe old age of 19, which, as best I can tell, was eventually prosecuted because "[a] surprise visit from his probation officer in December 2011 revealed Reynolds in possession of drugs" - to be fair, it is totally unfair for a probation officer to just pop in without an invitation.

The timeline in the article is a bit murky, but the bottom line is this:  Reynolds is a 21-year old former user and convicted felon drug dealer who has, in a span of less than four years, totally redeemed himself.  And he's going to law school (South Carolina, for the lazy bastards who don't want to actually go to the article).
He tried college on a whim after getting an equivalency high school degree, and got "amped up" about politics and the law.  ["Command, this is Rocketship, we're at launch level one, interest in politics with rock music metaphors.  Repeat, launch level one."]
...
[A severe car] accident required brain surgery on Reynolds. Afterward he said it made him feel as if he was experiencing a permanent anxiety attack.  ["Command, we've got a physical injury causing an epiphany - we're at launch level two.  On standby"]
...
Then in the fall of 2012, Reynolds helped break up a robbery attempt while working as a bicycle taxi driver in Nashville. That earned him a Citizen Commendation award from the Metro Nashville Police Department.

"I grew up not liking police to getting an award by them," Reynolds said. "It just felt wonderful being appreciated, really euphoric. It was then my school and lifestyle turned around. It was definitely reaffirmation of what I was trying to do."  ["Command, we're at full power!  Full power!"]
...
"How many lawyers have been to jail?" Reynolds said. "Not many. There is a certain empathy you can't have if you haven't been to jail.  I feel I can represent those people better than third-generation lawyers."  [BLASTOFF!  Rocketship Law School is Racing to the Heavens and it's so Ethereal I have to use Capital Case!]
The issue here is not any of the following:
  • How he can bear the heavy burden of proof at a C&F hearing
  • How he thinks practicing law is a good idea with a past "permanent anxiety attack."
  • How I'm going to recover from the concussion I received after bashing my head into a brick wall upon reading yet another person who was partially motivated to attend law school because he or she gets "amped" about politics and law.
  • How he thinks empathy for accused criminals requires actually going to jail, or why it actually matters when negotiating a plea deal or opening a trial.
  • How - if he's the type to suddenly change his opinion of the entire justice system because of a  citizen commendation - he's going to react the first time he loses something he shouldn't, or when he realizes that the system is wholly anti-accused.
  • How arrogant an undergraduate student has to be to positively gauge his possible future representation of criminal defendants against established "third-generation lawyers."
  • How he's going to avoid the sitcom-setup temptation to hit up his connections when the student loan bill comes due.
among others.  Oh, no, the issues are clear:
  • Everyone, from convicted drug dealers barely back on the wagon to prestigious law schools, can reform in fairly short order.  This is America. You can be a total fuck-up from 11-21, dance with a little love, and - shazizm - you're good to fly the flag of justice.
  • More lawyers need to experience the criminal justice system first hand to better get a grip on their professional lives.
  • South Carolina is yet another law school open to embracing the diversity brought in by convicted felons.
I'm feeling inspired by Mr. Reynolds' story and South Carolina's willingness to accept him - baggage and all - to help kickstart amplified change in the world.  I think I'll rob a liquor store.  I can say it was for my raging alcoholism.  Five years from now, I'll be sober, out of jail for sho', and a better lawyer than ever!  Why?  Because I'll have empathy for my client by experiencing the terrible things they went.

Want to be a better family law attorney?  Get two unwanted kids and a loud mistress with bipolar disorder who likes crank-calling your wife.

Want to be a better animal law attorney?  Go spill some oil in Flipper's little habitat and clean it up.

Want to be a better oncologist?  Tan yourself black, smoke yourself coughy, shove your dick in a microwave, and get yourself da cancer.

God bless reform in the law school community.  Twenty years ago, I never would have heard of this story, because they all would have rejected this caterpillar Tony Montana, never letting him blossom into his Atticus Finch butterfly.

But instead of current lawyers - tainted by normally taking the straight and narrow path in life of not being convicted drug dealers - going to jail, why not seek candidates therein?

As everyone knows, law schools are having a hard time convincing crafty, skeptical, options-having millenials of the infallible truth that law school is a great three-year investment in oneself leading to models, bottles, and the upper middle class.

Why not look to prisons?

There they are, tens of thousands of young people, all of whom have more courtroom experience than many law school graduates.  Why not tap that succulent resource, and tap it hard?  Let's put programs in place to help these young men reform in rapidly short order, secure early release, get their undergraduate degrees, and make them eligible for extra-spicy maximum student loan payouts?

We would produce an army of tuition-paying justice-seekers who have empathy for criminal clients and help law schools get through The Irrational Times by filling seats with people who would no doubt relish the opportunity.

Imagine the heart-warming stories that would develop in 1L classrooms!

Prof.:  Rasheed, what's the Rule Against Perpetuities?
Rasheed:  Shit, dawg, I don' know.  What is this bullshit?
~~~~~two weeks later, in office hours~~~~~~
Prof.:  Rasheed, I believe in you, son.  You got fight.  You got heart.  You got potential.
Rasheed:  I know, coac, I mean professor, but I just don't see how this property shit matters none.
Prof:  Let's take it one step at a time.  Let's say there's a prime growhouse for sale, and you buy it.  But then you find out the owner already sold it to another dealer...
Rasheed:  I bustin' a cap in his ass.
Prof:  No, no, Rasheed, listen!  If you record before him in a race jurisdiction, you don't have to.
Rasheed:  Damn straight.  Respectin' my turf.
Prof:  But what about in a notice or race-notice jurisdiction?
Rasheed:  I di'n't know he sold it.
Prof.:  There ya go!
 ~~~~~~grading final exam time~~~~~~~
Prof.:  My God, Rasheed's exam is flawless!
~~~~~~after graduation~~~~~~~
Rasheed:  Yo, Prof.!
Prof.:  Rasheed, how's it goin'?
Rasheed:  Prof., I used to hate the law.  Now I'm a lawyer rakin' in the benjamins and I love the law.
Prof.:  Well, I used to be a crusty white T-6 graduate.  Now I'm a crusty white T-6 graduate who "gets" the street reality, my brotha'.
Rasheed:  Wanna roll wit' us?
Prof. (winking):  Straight up, homie.

Credits roll as Prof. and Rasheed smoke blunts rollin' in a Cadillac listening to Coolio's "Fantastic Voyage."  Cuz, if you don't get it, that's what law school is.   

Can't have the hop if you don't have the hip.  

Enroll now.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dean Nick Allard: Mythological Hero

He doesn't always run law schools, but when he does, he runs Brooklyn to new heights.  This faith-affirming article describes Dean Nick Allard as
a man who has, in a few short years, elevated Brooklyn Law School’s reputation dramatically in the view of many in the legal profession.
Remember a few years back, when among "many in the legal profession" Brooklyn was a wannabe 2nd-tier law school among the dozens of overpriced private law schools in American urban centers that may have once filled a useful function, but now are overpriced, questionable institutions with sub-optimal employment scores?  Remember how Allard's leadership brought Brooklyn to the level of NYU and Columbia with Herculean might and Chemerinskyan aplomb?

Me, too!  What fun days those were!

More journalistic excellence:
His innovative leadership has sent ripples through the national legal world and, many believe, he has almost single-handedly sent out the message that our existentially challenged profession can indeed be “saved” and prosper if only scholars and practitioners would embrace the dramatic changes thrust upon them by the onset of the Digital Age.
Indeed, I have no doubt these unnamed believers remember fondly the time Allard took his "embrace change!" message to attack the oligarchic test-makers at the NCBE, who were using antiquated psychometric science and unfairly causing bar examination results to decline.  The NCBE should have simply embraced the change brought on by the digital age and let anyone into the bar who could correctly navigate an ExamSoft prompt or two (which, to be fair, most older solo practitioners would fail at doing.

And what a grueling task to "single-handedly" send out reform messages starting in 2012; like Atlas holding up the Earth by his lonesome, Allard swooped it to hoist the Rock of Reform on his broad shoulders.  I only wish others in the profession had bothered to utter one word about reform and adopting to the digital age prior to then...or even now...

And in the speech actually being reported in the above article, Allard makes clear that Brooklyn is the place to be:
Today, we are known for producing extraordinary graduates, like you, who have that extra Brooklyn edge in public service, government and the private sector. [emphasis added to show the edge - it cut you like a switchblade, mothafucka]
...
These students will go on to excel in law school, pass the bar and get meaningful jobs.*
See?  And I would be remiss not quoting Allard on his inventive, unprecedented tuition plan:
We have turned the broken business model of legal education on its head. And we sparked a national conversation on an issue that affects us all.
When you think about the positive reforms that are happening in legal education - and particularly the part about law school becoming more affordable for the blue-collar masses - remember it all started when Brooklyn Law School courageously lowering its tuition in 2014.

Dean Nick Allard has not only filled the void left by the departures of Titans like Dean Hobbs, Dean Mitchell, and Dean Matasar, among others, he's building himself a legacy in his own right as a trailblazer among trailblazers, an Osiris-Dionysis figure taking the mantle of a noble cause and leading his own revolution.  This Rhodes Scholar should, frankly, have his own Colossus.

*disclaimer: puffery; not a warranty of any kind.