Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Trump Bad. More Lawyers Good.

The non-sequitur.  A classic of absurdist humor utilized by Carroll, Beckett, and everyone in between.  After all, when a bulldozer runs over an alto-soprano mongoose, it sings a bit flat.

But did you know the non-sequitur is also a logical fallacy?  It's true, readers.  Sometimes, sophists establish premises and then draw conclusions that in no rational way follow the presented factual scenario.  Taken seriously, it's not quite as funny as  Monty Python sketch, unless it's taken really seriously. 

Thankfully, the non-sequitur has no application to this article here, which argues that Donald Trump's nascent presidency has made law school "cool" again.  (Does it really lose "cool" status by having a more exclusive appeal?)
Even if law school remains a difficult and potentially costly path, the importance of good lawyers is becoming increasingly clear. “This new administration is challenging some things that we’ve taken to date as long-standing legal truths, ranging from civil rights and civil liberties to administrative regulations,” says Adrienne Davis, a law professor and the vice provost at Washington University. “So yes, we need more lawyers.”
Notice how it follows logically that because we have an administration "challenging some things" that we need more lawyers?  Because - and this is totally implied unless you can decipher the subtext like perspicacious moi* - we developed our present equilibrium of lawyers (where demand equals supply) under the Obama administration.  With an articulate Constitutional scholar at its helm, our prior presidency simply wasn't going to challenge basic tenets of the Rule of Law.  Now that we have a genuine challenger, well, Adrienne, it's time to recruit some more legal Rocky Balboas to put on the gloves.

Much of the article is a masturbatory piece for social justice lawyers (which, remember, is all of us!  we all ride the Million Dollar Express!) and how, you know, you should totally go to a school that has a high return on investment (all of them!).  And of course, there's an "unmet legal needs" claim slipped in the side door like a flood of Honduran migrant farm workers who, swear to God, have all been living in Albuquerque with their families for generations on my very large, labor-intensive farm...

The novelty of the article remains its drawing the astute observation that a Trump White House creates a commensurate need to print more and more law licenses until the cost of legal services hits zero.  One day it's going to happen, by God, and you fat cats and your $140/hr monopolistic rates will feel the wrath of bottom-barrel competition.

You can't make this shit up.  It might even be impervious to parody.  Poe's Law.
But one of [Trump's] accidental accomplishments may be to make lawyering great again.
A slight demurer: it's always been great.

*Perspicacious Moi is the name under which I plan on releasing future solo hip-hop efforts.  Copy it and I will hire one of the impending gazillions of new lawyers to sue sue sue.

Friday, February 24, 2017

New School Alert: Selling Down the (UC-)River(side)

California Needs Another Law School, State Legislator Says.

Be still my grease-clogged heart!

Sabrina Cervantes (D., Corona) - in no way, shape, or form quixotic like the title character of her potential ancestor's greatest work - has proposed a new law school at UC-Riverside.

Cervantes - 29 and daughter of a local politician - is a graduate of UC-Riverside and some program at Harvard, so you know she has the chops and the institution's best interests at heart.

Even if she doesn't have the details yet.
The bill contains a single sentence: “It is the intent of the Legislature to later enact legislation that would provide for the establishment and construction of a school of law at the University of California, Riverside.” The proposal does not include cost or timeline projections—details, Cervantes said, that would be worked out later.
Obviously needed a legal writer or two to tackle the task.  Much like the million dollar law degree, we can figure the pesky details out later.  For now, it's simply time to act, to build a great institution of the law to serve Southern California, a place so devoid of legal education that the closest law school to Riverside is an absurdly ridiculous 22 miles away, which can take up to an HOUR when traffic along Highway 60 is a bitch, the indignity!  How the fuck are you supposed to stop for coffee before class?  Make finals week "work" while not missing Game of Whatever?

This Los Angeles story is timely.  With the Academy Awards this weekend, I would like to pitch my hot-as-burning-zoo screenplay.  It's called Law-Law Land, and it's about a young male lawyer in LA whose only dream is to run a solo firm trying cases like Perry Mason because pretending it's 1960 without the civil rights shit gives him wood.  He meets a spunky young woman who wants to take her case of wrongful discharge from In-and-Out to the Supreme Court so she can be a case title and bathe in the riches and limelight of jurisprudential fame and ain't no 9th Circuit gonna stop her.  There's singin', dancin', foregone bland romancin', and eventually they get everything they could ever ask for in their careers, because life is easy for these PBS millennials with their Twitter and their lattes and their craft alcohol and their iPhone apps and their stockpiles of post-ironic kitsch...

Just go to this new UC-Riverside law school, put a bit of interest in, and you'll be swimming in the river of cash like Scrooge MacFuckstick.  Holy Buddha, Batman, a 29-year-old is in the General Assembly; don't you think YOU, scion of the digital revolution and consumer of Cool Things, can work as a measly lawyer?

Well, don't ya?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Like any good liberal artist, the personified LSTC is familiar with a random smattering of important short fiction, including Yukio Mishima's Patriotism.  In Patriotism, an army officer commits a visceral, detailed seppuku instead of choosing between rebelling against his emperor or leading a counter-insurgency against his neighbors and comrades, selecting the method of self-execution preferred by samurai when necessary to preserve honor.  The case brief-level moral of the story is that when faced with moral dilemmas, one can always killself, just as the author himself did a few years later.

Often, I like to think of lawyers and law students as samurai warriors living by an ancient code, the Constitution our emperor and the rules of professional conduct our bushido.  In the face of certain danger, like rational statistics saying law school is NO NO NO, the best ones wear the kimono of courage and charge headlong towards hundreds of thousands in debt screaming BANZAI like cliched motherfuckers.

With that I give you this:
Melchor Matias flew from Seattle to Detroit every weekend to study for his J.D. at WMU-Cooley Law School-and graduated in January.

A CPA at Boeing in Seattle, Matias did licensing audits on royalty and technology contracts, and designed audit programs. His interaction with the lawyers of Fortune 100 companies sparked his interest in earning a law degree.
This sort of effort is true patriotism in modern America.  For the legal samurai in our times, thankfully no impassable dilemma exists.  In no way does taking an established career for a major company in an in-demand professional certification to Cooley resemble cutting open one's belly for the entrails to disembowel while praying the head is soon mercifully chopped off.

But being a legal samurai paying homage to our Constitutional emperor requires effort.  This gentleman, deprived of an appropriate, accommodating law school west of the Mississippi, flew to Michigan to earn his juris doctor.  Unfortunately, lots of people feel a school like WMU-Cooley is completely unnecessary, a fifth tier toboggan turd sliding out the crusty, wart-lined anus of legal education.

Yet it obviously fulfills a valuable function for people who require a law school for working professionals near major airline hubs and tourist destinations.  Anecdote, you know, is the singular of fact.  To deprive people like this of that opportunity would be to create a moral dilemma for the patriotic legal samurai to choose between his heart and overwhelming rational consensus telling him a lower-tier law school is a stupid idea.  And various feasibility studies show there are literally hundreds of thousands of people interested in signing up for that training.

Perhaps our best and brightest, when deprived of a place to learn The Law, would not resort to actual seppuku.  Perhaps it's more akin to one of them metaphor thingies.

But the truth, as cutting and adamantine as an expertly forged katana, is that if you get in the business of closing law schools, you've eventually got patriotic blood on your hands.  A spoiler for your Lady Macbeths out there: it don't wash out.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Cleaning the Swamp: 3rd Tier Law School Dean Nominee to Head Labor Department

Donald J. Trump, populist, riding to Washington in his shiny black chariot from his New York fortress, a kingdom so removed, so distant from the hustle and bustle of DC that his fair queen can't possibly stomach the culture shock involved in moving to one of the most secure and posh buildings on the planet, has appointed R. Alexander Acosta as his replacement choice to head the Department of Labor:
In Mr. Acosta, Mr. Trump has chosen a nominee with deep experience in labor relations, law and education. The pick answers concerns about the lack of diversity in the Trump administration, in that Mr. Acosta would be the first Hispanic in the president’s cabinet. And his chances of being confirmed appear relatively high, since Mr. Acosta, currently the dean of Florida International University’s law school, has made it through the Senate process three times for different roles.
Talk about a grand slam!  You poor schmucks have been clamoring for widespread, systemic reform for years now - and the dean of a public scam school just zipped right past in the glass elevator on his way to helping set policies to keep the underclass just barely content enough.

According to Law School Transparency, Florida International costs $179,807 for residents increasing faster than inflation.  Roughly 1/3 pay full price and only 1/3 get a discount of more than $5k.  Its employment score is 63.9% with a quarter of all graduates working in small firms and a quarter working in public service.

Lest the "scamblog" crowd think those numbers are "bad," it's objectively one of the top 5 schools in a state that has 11.5 of 'em. Just look at this beautiful back-alley appendectomy of a law school picture.  If sunshine be the best disinfectant, the Sunshine State's law school output is so mercilessly bright it's the equivalent of dumping chlorine bleach into a beer bong.

I'd say the fact that the nominee helped flood the ranks of lower-paid lawyers in a saturated state with an above-average law school more than qualifies Mr. Acosta.  Wouldn't you?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Thanks, ABA! or: Good Times, These are the Good Times!

Remember how the ABA has been debating tightening bar examination pass rates with respect to law school accreditation?  You don't, but they have.

House of Delegates says nope! Diversity, that all-encompassing Wonderbread of American geopolitical argument, always cheap and filling, to the rescue:
A storm of criticism has surrounded Standard 316’s proposed revision, which would have required that to meet accreditation standards, 75 percent of a law schools’ graduates must pass a bar exam within a two-year period. At a notice and comment hearing the section held in August, various groups, including the National Black Law Students Association (PDF), testified that the proposal failed to address racial inequities in the law school admissions process and legal education.

According to data ... submitted for the hearing by William Patton, a professor emeritus at Whittier Law School, 33.4 percent of black students in California and 29.8 percent of the state’s Hispanic law students attend the five ABA-accredited law schools that would be most at risk of violating the proposed revision.

And in January, the Association of American Law School’s Law School Deans Steering Committee wrote the council to ask it to withdraw the proposal, based on concerns about different state bar scoring standards, falling bar-passage rates and a lack of diversity in the profession.
In other words, vague sociological ideals trump some strict "standard" that also happens to disadvantage quite a few law schools and other institutional actors who need more people of color in the feel-good brochures that solicit donation$ from mostly liberal lily-white donors.

What I particularly love about this particular issue is that apparently no one in this "debate" has ever seriously questioned the Defenders of the Faith on what, exactly, the causal connection is between having race-neutral strict bar passage standards as an output and a sufficient level of minorities being enrolled in law schools as an input.

It seems a highly relevant question where there is already a massive oversupply of lawyers generally and at least some minorities living in the legal profession's margins of incompetence or pseudo-poverty.  And if the legal profession really is too damned white, couldn't we cull some of the barely ethical boomers pulling the slouching court system towards Gomorrah? 

Consider how beautifully nonsensical this argument becomes upon even a whiff of scrutiny:  If minority students are able to pass the bar and the law schools deny them admission out of fear of stereotypical failure, the law schools are being blatantly racist.  If minority students aren't able to pass the bar, the law schools aren't doing them a favor by admitting them.

SO:  What does this fucking regulation do, but either relieve law schools of their own institutional racism OR permit the law schools to profit profit profit from students who have no business in an American law school under the Great White Cloak of "Opportunity"?

Why does a $10k soft tissue claim get more adversarial scrutiny than the policies that affect a generation of lawyer-serfs?

It's exploitation.  Glimmering, shiny exploitation.  Gleaming like polished alabaster in the noonday sun, fine as the deftly carved ivory in the foyer of warlord's mansion, as brilliant as bleached teeth or a birch forest covered in silent ice.  As beautifully shameless and blissfully overt as Mandingo or Foxy Brown, both of whom would be easily admitted into La Verne's night program.  Lexploitation.

God, even to a jaded, cynical political-legal realist, barred of any idealism related to law and justice, agnostic regarding the sacrosanct of the legal elite, this argument is awesome and ethereal:  superficially infallible, latently unsupportable, bigly profitable. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Meddling Self-Appointed Investigators Slander a Bunch of Noble Schools

Remember Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Machine gang?  Those cartoons were always incredibly biased towards the trespassing, interfering little whippersnappers who obstructed spookerific scams.  Alternative facts should have been in order.

Law School Transparency is legal education's equivalent of those noisome little thong-stains.

With the tone of a know-in-all kindergarten moral philosopher, LST has issued an updated report on "high risk" law schools to try and influence the ABA.
[I]f a school cannot survive without exploiting a large number of students, it should not survive. For the students who would have attended these schools and had a reasonable chance at passing the bar, they will find another law school to attend. For the others, they will be better served by not attending law school.

Many of the law schools we are most concerned with are placing a bet that the profession, accreditors, and government will stand idly by. As these updates show, the very high and extreme risk schools are headed in the wrong direction. Holding them accountable through smarter accreditation standards will right their path.
 Blah blah blah.  You can see the actual, exaggerated school data here. LST lists EIGHTY-TWO (82) schools as "High" risk on any level.

Now, if you honestly think that, like, 80+ of 200-some law schools are "high" risk, well, mister, I've got a bridge to sell you.  Also, you're probably the sort of dope who falls for fake ghosts so facile a bunch of teens with a stoned dog can figure it out in a half-hour.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

UMKC Law School Doing Things Right

Not that there's a wrong way to run a law school (other than closing up shop, of course), but UMKC seems to be doing things right.  Let's go to the independent newspaper hosted on a UMKC website!
“Our goal is always to have the right level of enrollment and sometimes that’s going to mean growing and sometimes it’s going to mean a decrease,” said [Student dean and admissions committee chair Allen] Rostron. “We’re always going to be careful not to admit more than would be justified by the quality of the applicant pool or the strength of the job market for graduating law students.”
Indeed.  Let's look at the numbers!

Non-discounted cost:  $125,062%
% paying full sticker:  61%
Employment Score:  61%
Underemployment: 19.1%
LSAT splits:  149-152-156
Last published NALP report showed median salaries generally in the 50s-60s, half in small-ish firms and public service.

According to LSN, there's a 58% acceptance rate

In light of the fact that every law school in the country is acting carefully to admit qualified students that are justified by the quality of the applicant pool and strength of the job market, I'd say UMKC is being super-responsible.