Friday, July 31, 2015

Coming Soon: the 367 Day Long Term Fellowship

As the Wall Street Journal reports, tensions have grown between the ABA and law school administrators over one year fellowships that are rather transparently, brilliantly designed by schools to boost their full-time bar passage required employment rates.
Emory University School of Law funded 52 of those jobs for the class of 2014, making up 23% of the 224 full-time, long-term legal positions its graduates found.

The school’s dean, Robert Schapiro, said in a comment letter to the ABA that the new proposals appear to be “driven by a desire” to label the so-called bridge-to-practice positions as “bad” jobs versus “good” jobs. The accrediting body, the letter says, should not “place subjective value judgments on differing employment opportunities.”
Oh come on, ABA!  Objectively, we know most of these fellowship things are "bad" jobs for a law school that leaves graduates with six figures of debt in an oversatued marketplace.  What the law school is trying to do is "mask" that "reality" through "creative advertising" in the form of a "manipulated statistic."  Thus, a one year gig working for the school can become a "long term bar passage required job" and therefore a "good" job in the eyes of lemmings.  How many "good" jobs are there in law, period?  This whole thing is about passing out shit sandwiches as cheeseburgers.

Of course, we have to remember that there are plenty of people who want "bad" jobs and, in fact, choose them even when the market is going supergangbusters instead of just normal gangbusters.  Perhaps that's the ABA's concern?  Yet, most of those people can readily find a "bad" job if they want one, and frankly it's not the ABA's place to cockblock unique forms of lemmingfucking.  Plus, how is the ABA going to guarantee that private employers don't dump their factory workers in a year?  It's quite ridiculous, actually, and I can't help but thing we should just use the federal standard definition of employment.

Getting back to the article, it's clear that law deans will likely pull altruistic programs designed to ostensibly benefit recent graduates if they don't get their way.  You might think, "gee, that's telling," but in actuality, they're benefiting their students.  Instead of simply being charitable and saying, "hey, guy, we fucked you, here's a biscuit," they're going to use threats to their graduates' employment opportunities to get concessions from the ABA.  Don't believe me?  Here's "Go to Law School" Guru Martin Katz:
But if the jobs no longer count as full-time employment, as the new rules propose, “schools are going to be less inclined to do this,” Mr. Katz said.
Sounds like a threat to me; if it's not, it should be.

Call off the dogs, ABA.  One-year fellowships are an essential part of academic freedom providing a leg up in the job market, by which I mean convincing the world that the job market is better than it actually is and kicking the can down the road to lateral time.

Of course, there is another solution, and it happens to be the title of this very piece.  Law schools will simply make the fellowships slightly more long term.  That's regulation, baby.  Doesn't matter whether you clear the hurdle by a micrometer or a kilometer. 

While I oppose the ABA making "scam on" more difficult, it's not like you can really win against slippery law deans.

It's actually a wonder anyone tries.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Arizona Summit Working Overtime

Lots of poorly informed malcontents accuse law faculty of not working hard.  To them, I provide the counterexample of Arizona Summit Dean Shirley Mays.  According to Above the Law's sources, Dean Mays was calling Arizona Summit graduates asking them to not take the bar exam on the Monday before the bar exam.

Some bar-takers were apparently put off by being offered $10k and given an invitation to a superduper program.  ATL apparently reached out to Mays for comment:
Not sharing this information would have caused them to miss the opportunity for making an informed judgment.
Can you people make up your mind?  You want to bitch about having a lack of transparent information about irrelevant employment outcomes.  Now you want to bitch about last-minute informative telemarketing schemes.

Goodness gracious, make up your minds.  Do you want law schools to prevent fraud and provide full consumer information or not?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

An Intimate, Low Cost Law School Experience

Imagine you go to law school at a "top" school.  In your 1L torts law class, you might have 60, 80, 100 students.  There's no way all of you can fit your tongues onto the professors' asses.

Now imagine a law school where you go to that same property class and it's just 19 other people.  Not just in your section, but in the entire class.  You'd get the exact same hands-on attention you got in high school geometry!  If you went to a podunk high school in western Nebraska!  Justice!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present Indiana Tech:
“We would like to have 20 students in the incoming class, and that’s what we’re shooting for.”  As an added enticement, the university is giving 100-percent scholarships to every single student enrolled there next year.

“It shows the university’s and the board of trustees’ support for the law school and their belief in the law school, and we hope that’s going to incentivize students to stay,” Cercone said.
Top 5%?  Shit, you can be the entire top 5% by yourself!  Try doing that trick at Harvard.

If people want to criticize cheap and risky, so be it.  A test and some penicillin cost way less than thirty years of alimony payments.  One of two things is going to happen - either the school will make it and you'll all be rich lawyers or the school will fail pronto and you'll all get a closed school discharge.  If you're in the region and want to take a year's vacation rappin' it with 'dre, it's like a no-lose proposition here. Take out the max and live large in Fort Wayne.  Makes me wish I didn't already have my golden ticket, or I'd be on the next bus.

While I'm at it, is there an Infilaw angle here?  There's no better place for a repositioned crown jewel than Fort Wayne, Indiana, you know...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Chemerinksy on Scalia and Setting Examples

Dean Erwin Chemerinsky has an Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times (do people there actually read newspapers?) castigating Justice Scalia for being a bad influence on the lawyers of today and tomorrow:
But lately my students have been turning in legal briefs laced with derision and ad hominem barbs. For this trend, I largely blame Scalia. My students read his work, find it amusing and imitate his truculent style.
And you say law professors don't teach practice skills - he's got his Young Pioneers writing full legal briefs with opportunities for truculence!

After admitting that he finds some of Scalia's art "delightfully funny," [1] Chemerinsky points out the peril facing the legal profession:
But Scalia's browbeating is childish, even vain; like a harshly negative book critic, he revels in his own turns of phrase. And his attitude, just like his legal theory, affects the profession as a whole.
If legal professionals ignore Scalia's meanness or — worse — pass around his insults at cocktail parties like Wildean witticisms, they'll encourage a new generation of peevish, callous scoffers.
My Legal Profession Cocktail Parties(fake trademark symbol) will never be the same.  The last thing we need is more peevish, callous scoffers.  Bad, Scalia, bad!

We find a much better example for lawyerly conduct in Dean Chemerinsky, who, as a successful academic in his mid-50s, decided to take on the founding deanship at a totally frivolous, but absolutely needed (social justice!), law school that charges over $40,000 for in-state tuition to a second-tier public school while he and his wife take home hundreds of thousands in federally-backed loot from suckers. 

After all, actions speak louder than words.  Future lawyers, instead of being peevish, callous scoffers, be full-throttle wealth-transfering exploiters.

[1] Absolutely true - nothing molests my fancy until I projectile vomit like a legendary Scalia opinion.  But I think Dean Chemerinsky can do better than "delightfully funny."  How about "taint-ticklingly ribald, as-if Clarence Darrow, Archie Bunker, and Jim Gaffigan trysted menege-a-trois, Providence granted them an indulgence for the anathema, and from the befouled linens germinated Scalia's mordant wit."

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Staying Within One's Tiers

From Above the Law comes the unfortunate story of Barry Law's former CFO John LaTorre.  Unfortunate, of course, because he apparently got caught.
LaTorre stands accused of some serious misuse of his Barry Law corporate credit card to the tune of about $50,000. According to court records, LaTorre allegedly used the card to wine and dine his friends, pay his personal utility bills, and close his bar tabs at Hooters.
You might think that a former law school executive could do better than Hooters.  He probably could, but, I have a theory. 

To start with, we need to understand that expressions of male heteronormative sexuality fall neatly into tiers that happen to correspond to law schools.

To wit:

Tier 1: Having sexual intercourse with a well-adjusted, enviably attractive woman.  Every bro' will be jealous of you unless they're on the plateau, too.  This is basically HYS.

Tier 2: Having sexual intercourse with a well-adjusted, clean, respectable woman. This is like Cornell or Georgetown.

Tier 3: Banging the wife or girlfriend.  Reliable, safe, cheap, and probably nothing spectacular.  These are the remaining name-brand public schools like Iowa or Washington or Georgia.

Tier 4: High-class hooker.  Sort-of boast-worthy, but costly.  Think Boston U., USC, Vanderbilt, and the like.

Tier 5: Taking home any remaining sane, clean woman.  Probably little risk, but you're not going to brag about it, and no one's going to be impressed.  These are your remaining public schools.  Northern Kentucky, Maine, etc.

Tier 6:  Sticking it in first-choice crazy.  You may brag about it, it may be great at the time, but then suddenly you're deeply in debt and your car is being fire sold as-is in a Taco Bell parking lot.  Wake Forest, Pepperdine, Washington & Lee, and their friends.

Tier 7:  Remaining group of clean & crazy.  Like Tier 6, but with a bigger risk of being kicked in the balls.  Loyola, Syracuse, Case Western, etc.

Tier 8:  Taking home a totally sane, notorious slut with a known STD history.  No one's going to respect it, and there's a fair chance you'll be permanently scarred.  Creighton, Duquesne, Chapman, etc.

Tier 9:  Porn girls, strippers, Hooters/Twin Peaks/Tilted Kilt waitresses, that particular type of hairdresser, etc.  Have at it, boys, but you're going to be the only one who thinks it's really cool.  Here we have schools like Albany, Barry, Hofstra, NYLS, and the like.

Tier 10:  Bare-back roulette with a drugged-up bargain-bin hooker.  Florida Coastal, Cooley, etc.

My theory is that law school administrators incorporate this typology in their spending habits, so paying tips to Hooters waitresses was just LaTorre's expression of Tier 9 experience.

Now, from the above you should not conclude that the LSTC is recommending against going to a school like, say, Charleston Law School, which used to be a Tier 9 who got fired, bought millions in crack, and is now in Tier 10.  A novice reader may say I'm comparing enrollment in Charleston to buying the nastiest Colfax Point skank and sucking the hepatitis out of her track marks.

But in reality, remember that even Tier 10 is getting laid.  Because law school, regardless of where you go, is like getting laid.  It's much better than getting an MBA from Penn, which is like jackin' it to high-production porn, or getting an MBA from Middle Tennessee State, which is like jackin' it to Facebook pictures of female acquaintances who politely turned you down in college.

Surely, even the most skeptical readers would agree that going to Washington & Lee is better than jackin' it, right?   Right?!?

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Call to Law School, Reprised: Catholic Version

Astute readers may remember that the Center's official position on Obergefell v. Hodges is that everyone needs to go to law school so that we can fight our biggest social battles with thousands of unread amicus briefs.

Well, friends, life hath imitated art.
“The great setbacks of our age in abortion, marriage and family have been legally driven. Legal solutions will be a necessary part of much needed reform,” Gillen pointed out. Additionally, “courageous lawyers will be needed” to “defend those who seek to speak the truth about the issues at the heart of the culture war.”

“If we concede the legal profession to those who do not hold our values, we endanger the law and the culture upon which it rests,” Milhizer added. “As we say at Ave Maria School of Law, we don’t need more lawyers; we need more good and faithful lawyers.”
Ave Maria feels persecuted.  No one, it seems, believes in the arch-Catholics' convenient reading of The Constitution.  The First Amendment is too damn strict, or something.  Indeed, these professors go so far as to blame other law schools for their persecution.  As one professor says, "[T]here are many institutions responsible for this corrosive process [of a morally obliterating America from within]—and chief among them are law schools."

Sounds like a scamblogger screed, don't it?  Indeed, politics makes strange bedfellows (side note: the scambloggers will likely want to pull out on this one).

The difference, of course, is that instead of bitching and moaning to random people on the internet, Ave Maria is actually making a difference by pandering to SuperCatholics (i.e., the ones who think Notre Dame is too secular) and pumping out lawyers into the remunerative field of religious activism.

Instead of graduates struggling in family law hell, Ave Maria strives to have its graduates struggle with never-bought arguments about families and hell.  You can't say that about Nova Whatever, Barry, or Florida A&M.

Really, in terms of a creative sales pitches amidst the diminishing popularity of law school, it's hard not to praise Ave Maria for this angle.  They took the call for diverse law schools to a whole new level. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

PSLF Math and the JD-Advantaged School Worker

From Time comes this article informing what is surely an ignorant populace about Public Service Loan Forgiveness ("PSLF").

Why ignorant?  Look at this:
The key to PSLF is that it doesn’t matter what you do at a nonprofit or in government, as long as you work for an entity focused on public service. So you can be an administrative assistant at a public school, not necessarily a teacher, and still qualify. 
Money shot.

The article's frame story features a Lewis & Clark graduate who has around $160,000 in student loan debt.  Take two scenarios:

A:  Graduate works as a full-time crap school admin job making $25k/year.  Works the job 10 years.

B:   Graduate works as a full-time private sector attorney with a $45k salary to start in flyover country and somehow manages to hang on at an eat-what-you-kill place for 10 years.

Let's assume both are going to see a 3% annual rise in income.  To keep matters simple, let's say the loans are accruing 7% interest, ignore taxes entirely, and assume that our graduates can pay 10% of gross income on their student loans.

After 10 years, Graduate B has made around $515,000.  Graduate A has made only around $285,000.  Graduate B owes around $225,000 on loans, wile Graduate A has over $250,000.

BUT Graduate A now has the power of PSLF.  Like butter on a hot summer day, Graduate A's loan balance slides to 0.00 and Graduate A's effective income over the 10-year time span is now roughly $535,000.  Graduate A is now debt free with 10 years of office experience and boatload of stories about peoples' cats and/or nieces and nephews.

Sure, at some point, Graduate B is going to cash in on lawyer riches and, if 30 years comes before death, Graduate B will get a discharge, too.  But at that moment in time, 10 years out, Graduate B has made more money.

And yet, when people discuss law school employment, what do we hear?  An obsession with JD-required jobs.  Why are we not concerned with landing new attorneys in public school administrative assistant positions?  The JD Advantage could provide an immense benefit to public school offices.  Imagine a Socratic approach to the morning announcements, or keen negotiation skills saving the school district money on bulk supply orders.

You people not only don't care about your graduates' economic fates, you seem to not care about The Children.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Charleston Saga, Cont'd: Tenured Professors v. Greedy Owners

In the spirit of Fourth of July weekend, we now continue The Charleston Saga, which has rapidly become one of the blog's most popular features.

Charleston School of Law has been sued by former professors.  Twice.
Both plaintiffs claim the owners have not proved the school is in a financial exigency, or state of emergency, and say the owners have ignored the requirements of their tenured statuses. They claim tenured status requires the school to justify their dismissal with rational and objective criteria, provide a year’s notice of termination with pay and provide preferential hiring and recall rights. 
I'm honestly having a difficult time finding a side to root against here.

In one corner, we have esteemed, prestigious public service capitalists who appropriately removed profits from their business enterprise only to be whacked by a recession that had happened five years earlier and a sabotaged exit plan.  In the other corner, we have tenured law professors exhibiting the highest values of academic freedom by taking high amounts of compensation to substitute for their would-be BigLaw salaries demanding that tenure be ridiculously expansive.

Can you tie a lawsuit?  

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Underrated Law Schools: As Sexy as a NIssan Sentra

Knowing what's "underrated" is good.  It means you're sharper than the next guy, and nothing is more American than having an edge on your capitalist comrade.  Whether it's canned salmon or podiatrists, why pay a premium when there are overlooked items just as good?

Yesterday, Prof. Brophy of UNC published his list of underrated law schools and, there to take the scrumptious bait, is Natalie Kitroeff
Brophy’s simple accounting looks at students’ employment outcomes, their median scores on the Law School Admission Test, and the number of citations that a school’s law review receives.
KISS: Keep It Stupidly Silly.

Can't think of anything he missed; it's not like Brophy left any $264,000 questions unanswered.

You'll have to go to the link to see the full list, but let me just say that any law school ranking that includes Albany is a good ranking in my book.
What’s more, Brophy found that in the middle of the pool—schools ranked from 15 to 150 on his list—there wasn’t very much variation in performance. 

“The difference between a Toyota Corolla and a Nissan Sentra isn’t that great. That’s the analogy I would make,” says Brophy.
Why, yes, similarly-priced, efficient, compact Japanese compact sedans that revolutionized the American auto market.  The perfect analogy in oh so many ways, such as the monthly payments being super-affordable and that people who drive gas-guzzling luxury degrees will be super-jealous.

Why, indeed, I notice many lawyers choose to drive early 2000s Toyota Carollas even though they obviously could afford a much better ride with that million-dollar Campbell Law degree.