Thursday, October 31, 2019

Shop Closed, Party Continues

This blog started over six and a half years ago as a one-off joke adjacent to ITLSS and OTLSS. It had a touch more legs than I thought. The Center developed a small but regular readership of idiots who got it (including, it seems, law schools). Thank you to those of you who read regularly and commented. Making the same joke a few hundred times only works if you know, somewhere, that someone else smirks (or, one supposes, needs a drink).

It's Halloween: somewhere Dean Satan is hip-hop trick-or-treating with Slick Nick and the Notorious ADCP. He approaches the honors' sorority of a small liberal arts college. They think he's an early puberty child in costume instead of corporate evil incarnate. But it's too late, baby! This is slasher horror. A few quick cuts of the pen and you bitches are the first members of next year's 1L class at a ghoulish fourth-tier law school and the interest is already accruing.

Sorry, old habit.

Truth is, the world's changed, and I don't mean law school - it's still bocoup pricey and run by well-meaning sinecures who, despite their stellar resumes and often excellent intellect, maintain a haughty moat between themselves and real practice to preserve their own relevance.

Blabber about discounts all you want, obfuscate the data, ignore the casualties, whatever. The modal law student of middle class means still walks away with high five- or six-figure debt with limited means to reasonably pay it off short of entering a narrow range of already-high-in-demand jobs, subject to the whims of empathy-less oligarchs like Betsy Devos on side A and policy reformers on side B who would rather purchase votes from the masses than equitably solve the damn problem.

No - that's still a shitshow in the Land of Make-Believe. The bottom line - and I think this encapsulates the non-bitter/angry part of the "scamblog" movement - is that we can do much better, and for that matter, the "scamblog" era has been part of a damn good trend: bad law schools closing, enrollments right-sizing; relative to the population, enrollment is way down over recent memory. I really don't like the botched/memed Schopenhauer quote about the stages of truth, but I'll post a translation of one from his actual writings:
To truth only a brief celebration of victory is allowed between the two long periods during which it is condemned as paradoxical, or disparaged as trivial.
I think that applies to the "law school truth" movement - Nando et al were pilloried as heretics. I remember ages ago I contacted someone about a "future of law" symposium and including these sorts of discussions and being treated like a leper. Now, most of the criticisms levied at legal education are broadly accepted as problems to be acknowledged - ABA imprimatur and all! - and summarily swept under the rug to be cleaned up another day. To the extent that awareness was ever a goal, that's long done.

But the bigger elephant in the room at this point is that internet culture has changed. No one reads one-off blogs any more, or even message boards, really; both were in the process of dying when this stuff started. Access has moved to mobile and social media; "platforms" like FB or Twitter have become exclusive islands to themselves to the exclusion of non-conforming or non-viral content. Text is bad; that no one reads is a true cliche. To the extent they do, diverse niche sites have become established enough to drive out a lot of what used to be random people in the wilderness crafting industry-relevant blog content. The algo tech people have driven everyone to an extremely mediocre present.

All of this has happened in a relatively short period of time, shockingly, really. Mediums and industries now move faster than student loan repayments.

Frankly, though, I'm also more established in my own career than I used to be, not that I really have security to be this stable in 5 years, but I'm a lot more at peace with it, and it helps that my amount of bad anxiety days have been drastically reduced compared to when I started this thing. More distant from law school, I also don't really care as much as I used to (which is a common trend for authors in these parts) although I still get that interesting-new-case thrill from seeing some new entrant to the rogues' gallery. But then again, I think social media shaming has given inhibition to the type of dean who used to pass brazen idiocy as wisdom with no hint of irony or self-awareness.

Oh, well.

I will still check in on OTLSS, police comments (minor annoying reason to close shop: Google doesn't give a shit about spam filtering), etc., may post there if the spirit moves me, but the tank's run out on this side project.

As a final note, if you have liked my writing or comic style (or stop by here in the future, etc.) and actually read book-ish things, I did publish grown-up juvenalia a while back concerning the legal industry under a different pen name, Lawyer Fantasy. Various statutes of limitation have now passed, if I'm not mistaken, and I think some of the issues may be more salient now than they were when I wrote the damn thing. I am also full of myself, if you haven't noticed by now, despite pseudonymity, not promoting anything, etc.

The play was fine otherwise, Ms. Lincoln, and I love my law degree, thanks for asking.



Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Scam Movement, Forgotten in South Dakota

A decade of observations about the law school bubble means absolutely naught to the good folks in Yankton.
The University of South Dakota School of Law will welcome one of the largest incoming classes of students in 10 years next Monday, Aug. 12. Eighty-seven students representing 14 states comprise the Class of 2022.
The class also scored strongly on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) with both the median and 75th percentile scores improving one point from last year at 152 and 154 respectively.
Remember all that discussion about "right-sizing" law school?  About how a lot of schools were actually admitting that their admissions needed a diet?

Well, screw that. That argument is as passe as heroin.  USD (and others, it seems) is gonna party like it's 2008, which is probably fitting if you've ever seen what they wear to malls in those parts.

And you know we're back in boom times when the press trumpets a 154 as the "strong" 75th percentile LSAT that it is.  For years, pocket-protected nebbishes would have argued against such a premise, but you know what?  They're all going to be high-powered lawyers in the end so long as the bar folks burn their caution flags and let the engines roar.

The "fourteen states" bit... folks, only six states border South Dakota, so that means there's a few of these kids coming a fairly long way to go to a public school in a low-population state.  Among other conclusions, that tells me we might need more law schools in the flyover states. Is Texas hungry for another school?  Illinois?  Colorado need a third? Does Mitchell Hamline need to expand?

In any event, law school is back, baby, even though it never left.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

California Bar Examiners Respond to Criticism with Convenient Technical Glitch

Yeah, you know how the bar examiners in California have been getting progressively bitch-slapped harder and harder by law deans in California for failing an ungoldly percentage of would-be Clarence Darrows?

The State Bar of California accidentally tipped off law school deans about "general subject matter topics" of its upcoming exam — and now is telling everyone what will be on this week's career-altering tests, the group announced Sunday.

The State Bar normally tells the law schools what topics were covered on the tests after they're taken by aspiring lawyers each February and July.

But the State Bar revealed this sensitive information was somehow sent out on Thursday, well ahead of schedule, to 16 law school deans. The blunder, described as "human error," was only discovered over the weekend.
Human error my fuzzy taint.  You didn't see this shit happen in Montana or South Carolina.  Nope, in California, where law deans have begged and begged for a break from the mercilessness of minimum professional standards, they just gave all of their dopes a chance to ditch certain complex subjects and laser-focus in the last weekend before the bar exam.

I just hope when the appoint a task force to investigate this security breach it's stocked with law deans, ideally the ones who come up with the most clever excuses for why their students still couldn't pass the bar exam knowing what topics were going to be discussed.  Give the token private citizen slot to the lawyer in the article who dropped the b-word.

Dramatically improved CA pass rate, here we come!  Scam on.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Maine Potentially Investing Heavily in Law School

One could argue that Maine is our smartest state.  Indeed, I do so here solely because some blue ribbon report just recommended that Maine invest in its law school.  In 2019.  In Maine, a state that - the naysayers claim - could probably get by with one law school shared between it and half of New England.
A report released Friday calls for sweeping changes at the University of Maine School of Law, including the addition of new faculty and administrative positions, expansion of course offerings and an overhaul of governance and operational practices.
“Maine (School of Law) has already begun to cannibalize core functions in order to balance budget priorities,” the report says. “If Maine is to have a law school, then it must be repositioned within three years, funded and led by a skilled team as soon as possible.”

University officials Friday did not have an exact figure on how much it would cost to implement the wide-ranging recommendations of the report, but James Erwin, chairman of the UMaine System Board of Trustees, estimated it would require “millions of dollars at least.”
Fuck, boing, yes.  Sure, this is sorta like the institutional equivalent of buying your 51-year-old wife breast implants and new cheekbones instead of just leaving her on the curb and embracing swingin' singledom, but you work with what you have.

The list of suggestions reads like Christmas in July for a law school sycophant.  Big, new investment in diversity (read: getting non-white people to move to Maine)?  Check.  Investment in specifically training lawyers for rural Maine, which has a dreadful lawyer shortage?  Check.  Expanded tenured faculty and an administrator devoted to fundraising?  Big-dick-energy check.

Of course the article discusses the "financial" "issues" of operating a law school in a remote, small population state.  The government isn't giving them nearly enough, admissions have been stagnant, law applicants nationwide are down, blah blah blah.  It's had to make tuition concessions to draw new students and the faculty has even gone without cost-of-living increases since 2013.

But fold the cards?  No, baby, it's time to go all-in.  Student loan money ain't coming in like it used to?  Well, time to amp up state funding!  Get some new tenured faculty and funnel some o' that ol' internet money or somethin' this way! 

I like the cut of your jib, folks.  Tell that blue ribbon task force to go on tour, please.  I've got a few more states they can visit...

Monday, July 15, 2019

Hail, Columbia! The Seven Figure Law School

This Campos/LGM post is from a month ago, but I read fine-print books instead of playing with electronic gizmos and sending e-texts when I was younger so my brain works better but not faster, you damn kids.
Columbia’s law school has passed a fiscal milestone: for the first time, its estimated cost of attendance for a nine-month academic year will be in six figures ($101,345 to be exact).
Students who borrow the full cost of attendance will owe about $370,000 when the first loan payment comes due six months after graduation. (This sum is calculated by assuming average historical COA increases over the next three years, plus accruing loan interest and origination fees).
How much did it cost to do this kind of thing when the heart of
rock and roll the baby boom was moving through this and similar institutions?
Inflation-adjusted to constant dollars, about one quarter as much. [Example from1980, blah blah blah]
Turn the amps to 11, 'cause speaking of 1980:
Hell's bells!
Yeah, hell's bells!
You got me ringing
Hell's bells!
My temperature's high
Hell's bells!
Rock on, motherfuckers, a $100k/year law school! Much like automobile sales, we've long crossed the point where it's "overpriced" and we're in straight-up "DGAF luxury" Lambo et al territory. You want a Daewoo, you little schmeltz? No, you want a Maserati, jet black like your natural hair age 65, with a phat bitch pre-installed in the passenger seat, stick shift only, mmmbaby!

And with the prestige of a luxury degree like Columbia in a hot, lawyer-hungry market like New York (see my last post), you're sure to be gainfully employed for at least five or six years, more than enough time to pay back any debt. Don't worry, if the long days at Necktie / Noose LLP send you drinkin' like Bon Scott, you'll probably have health care sufficient to cover any incidents.  Probably.

Note that the urbane, progressive Columbia is bucking a distasteful, garish counter-trend to lower tuition in backwater red state hick-holes to "keep the best minds at home" (like any "best minds" would fall for THAT scam!). For example, South Carolina just slashed in-state tuition to what must be unsustainable 2015 levels.

Losers. When people seek out counsel, they don't want some poser who bargain-shopped. They want a grown-up bambino who knows how to spend money, who has no qualms about dumping cash on people who paid rent-controlled tuition. What better way to show clients that you know how to spend money - and that you're willing to invest in their winning case, if need be - than by plunking down $400k for the premier legal education shared by U.S. Grant, Jr.; David Stern; and Roy Cohn?

But why stop there? The market obviously is signalling that top legal education has no maximum price. These little bitches will sign over their damned organs for a Manhattan T13 roll-o'-the-dice. Let's steer this branch of the express to 500, 750, and one million dollars. Why not? This ain't no Highway to Hell.  The rubber stamp's never been wetter and if you tell people there's only a few law schools that'll get them where they wanna go, they'll throw money at you like fat drunks on a strip club bar crawl who know they'll be dead before the bill comes due, only they'll likely be alive, with models, and bottles, and a suit collection featuring every tone of gray.

I mean, you might think a $1M cost of attendance is ludicrous, but you, a starch-eating rational grump, thought a $200k cost of attendance was ludicrous and now that's S.O.P. Buckle up, buckaroos, 'cause mixed metaphors be damned we're shiftin' this baby into warp speed.  By the light of the Million Dollar Express shall we see light.

Cue the music, boys:
I won't take no prisoners, won't spare no lives
Nobody's putting up a fight
I got my bell, I'm gonna take you to hell
I'm gonna get you, [Dean?] Satan get you 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The New York Lawyer Shortage

I'm not making this up - it's a real news article/topic - that NEW YORK of all states (what, not Florida?) has a lawyer shortage!  You know, "hey, why does that place need so many fucking law schools" New York.  "They put the dead ones in Banker's Boxes and no one misses a beat" New York.  "Touro Law School sounds made up" New York.  That New York.

God damn I love this industry.  Give me a fellowship and let me shoot this shit in my veins, drooling passed out in the stacks of the local law library.

Here's the article with the golly-shucks lawyer picture (winning sartorial formula: bow-tie, bold belt, no suit; needs suspenders or jeans ideally, B+) and the one-two punch of anecdotal whimsy ("kids 'r' movin' away!") and context-free data (only 1 lawyer for every 1310 residents, Orleans County, how dare you!).

"Rural justice is a quickly disappearing commodity," the article bellows, tickling my fervid loins like an electric feather and calling upon anyone who can pass the first year at St. Johns and once upon a time read a Richard Russo novel...

These articles all sound the same after a while, but we're used to seeing them pop up about states no one ever wants to visit like Nebraska or Montana, woebegone artless shitholes that have to pay for tourism campaigns with subtitles like "it won't be THAT embarrassing to tell your parents you came here!"  New York has hick places, but you're never that far from a liberal arts campus, a tourist hot-spot, or a big city - the town featured in the article is within an hour of Binghamton and a bit over an hour from Syracuse, after all.  But I guess those expert practitioners cannot drive...

If that place can have a lawyer shortage, the only answer is to start a task force, ask how you can get young people to move to rural communities against their economic and cultural interests to, uh, serve the undefined and debatable greater good, and, hell, just pump more people through law schools, will ya?

Not convinced?  Want to claim that young people are rational economic actors (ha!).  Well, don't worry, the neutral Albany Law School brought science to this church potluck:
A survey by Albany Law School published in April shows the strain facing those left behind. Among its conclusions: Rural attorneys are overwhelmed by their caseloads, suffering financial stress and struggling with limited resources.
Overwhelming work with financial stress?  What could possibly go wrong on the five-lane way to making money hand-over-fist?! Well.... for one thing, Boomer lawyers and their egos could not retire:
Responses like this were typical: “I am the only lawyer handling complex business transactions. I am 69 years old and cannot retire because too many people rely on me.”
If only the State of New York would put the resources in to train lawyers who could handle the complex business transactions of postcard New York.

I guess, again, we'll just have to put out more lawyers until we get one to apprentice for this gentleman and then pay him a generous buy-out in lieu of a retirement account. 

Ditto for Georgia and Maine, which the article also states face calamitous lawyer shortages.  The ABA must act now to correct these things, or else in ten years life will continue unabated and the law school profit-self-righteousness matrix will remain sadly underwhelming.  Scam on.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Dean Satan's Declaration of Independence

When in the Course of Scamcraft it becomes necessary for red-faced administrators to speak in the third person and gesture menacingly at the bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the hypothetical separation.

I hold these truths to be self-evident, that not all men are created equal, that legal administrations are endowed by their Creator with certain surplus uncommon abilities, unimpeachable white-collar manners, and unalienable rights, that among these are Limitless Locution, Licentious Leisure, and the pursuit of Legal Lucre. — That to secure these rights, academic bar associations are instituted among our Special Clique, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Administrative Oversight becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the Deans to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Administrative Regime (or just destroy the existing one, por favor?), laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Satisfaction and Greed.

The history of the present American Bar Association is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these Legal Institutions and prevent the Justice of the Inoffensive Exploitation of Student Loan Conduits.  To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

I would list them out Severally and Specifically, the Scorns and Calumnies, but as a Law Dean such a task is beneath me and my Secretary is on Holiday.  Basically, kindly lower bar score thresholds and ensure the rest of us are not going the way of our Lesser Acquaintances.  The soft exploitation of minorities is good, too.  I also would like a free Espresso Bar at the next Tropical Convention.  Suffice to say, the American Bar Association has blown its organizational imperative to fully support its member organizations' earnest efforts of Scamcraft.

Appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of my intentions, I do, in the Name, and by Authority of my Supreme Deanship, declare that I am, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent  hereby sternly advising the American Bar Association of my Supreme Consternation. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, I pledge my Life, my Fortune (the fuck?) and my sacred Honor.
Govern yourself accordingly.

Scam on,

Dean Satan

Sunday, June 23, 2019

LSTC Sips Fine Napa Cab, Calls Shenanigans on the California February Bar Results, Joins Demand for Another Task Force

Here is a tabulation from this past February's California bar examination results to study for fun and profit:
Total:  43.5%
California ABA Approved:  45.2%
Out of State ABA Approved:  47.5%
California Accredited:  21.2%
California Unaccredited:  25.4%
  • The bar exam sucks.
  • Based on these results, what is the benefit of attending a California law school if it gives you no advantage in passing the California bar examination over an out-of-state school?
  • Based on these results, what is the benefit of attending a California accredited law school if it gives you no advantage in passing the California bar examination over an unaccredited school?
  • All of these applicants passed a rigorous course of study over several years, so WTF kind of a bastard shitbird cousinblowing nutpunching lousy bar testing program fails more than half of them?  Even Clarence Thomas would find that cruel and unusual punishment, and he's gone full heel at this point.
Consider, too, that the Santa Barbara College of Law went 6/11 on first-timers - a better rate than all but 3 of the 12 ABA-accredited schools with sufficient first-timers to report numbers.  Or that unaccredited distance learning schools had a better pass rate (28%) than Chapman (25%) or the surviving remnants of Whittier (25%).

Sorry to repeat myself, but when you're right you're right, and I look fucking amazing today:  the bar exam sucks and these people are spitting out results that simply defy expectations (which, when you're smart enough to run a law school cartel, should match reality).  If students at Santa Barbara - this is not an ABA accredited school, okay!? - are outperforming Loyola (Los Angeles), Southwestern, and McGeorge, that would suggest a major problem in the reality of American legal education in terms of accreditation, admissions, and testing.  It's simply unnatural, an abomination to the Naturale Law and Goode Order. 

I refuse to believe that the space-time continuum is broken; my wine simply tastes too good.  The only possible explanation is that the bar exam sucks.

Thankfully, genius finds genius and I'm not alone in my conclusions.  Here are three of California's top 25 law deans in an opinion piece for
Though California bar takers, on average, perform better than their counterparts elsewhere on the multistate bar exam (MBE), a far greater number fail as a direct consequence of California’s exceptionally high cut score.
The best path forward is for the California Supreme Court to appoint—as soon as is practicable—an independent, blue-ribbon task force to study the cut score issue and make its recommendations within six or nine months. Such a task force should bring together leaders from the bench, bar and law schools to assess the cut score and licensure issues expeditiously, thoughtfully and holistically.
Say it loud, say it proud:  TASK FORCE!

As with every task force in the history of white collar task forces, you don't appoint one unless you know the result of deploying their tactical expertise, so you know any such task force will develop one hell of a white paper advocating that California reduce its cut score and flood the market with even more lawyers to make even more money.

We should just have a standing task force (Task Force One? The X-Persons-of-all-Genders?  The Un-Avengers?) to deal with legal reform proposals, but since we don't, appoint me!  I know the score and I've been doing this shill thing longer than a lot of law deans. 

Too bad the California bar examiners have forgotten the Latin saying embroidered into napkins on the dining car:  Squamous Onus. Be a darned shame if I just spilled some of this fine Cab on their lapels and they had to to reach for one...

Friday, June 14, 2019

Who Needs Accreditation, Anyway?

No one ever had to accredit Thomas Jefferson The Man.  He had swank digs, a good lot of slaves, and a mind for the Enlightenment.

So why break the balls of Thomas Jefferson The School?  Were they not trying the exact same thing as the critics imagine it, repurposed for modern times like when HBO thought Native Son needed a makeover?  A corporation of modest, sustainable annual profits built on unpayable indentures?  A thirst for justice and improvements to democracy?  A postmodern Monticello on the shores of the Pacific?

Yet here we go again.  The ABA's sub-whatever voted to strip accreditation from TJLS.  Blah blah blah.
The American Bar Association’s accrediting arm has decided to pull approval from Thomas Jefferson School of Law for not complying with standards related to financial resources, program rigor and admissions.
Thanks, ABA.  I'm sure the real Thomas Jefferson would give these assholes quite a rigorous admission.  At there's a silver lining:
Thomas Jefferson will keep its accreditation throughout the appeal, which is expected to take from six to nine months.

“The law school is disappointed by this capricious decision and strongly disagrees with the council’s findings,” it said in a statement.
Capricious, indeed.  What kind of a rule-of-law-loving organization so casually disregards established ideas of due process and impartiality and decides so capriciously after several years of investigation to give some poor multimillion dollar paper mill the effective death penalty?  Obviously, the ABA needs more lawyers on its staff trained at places that understand the legacy of Thomas Jefferson.  More from the TJLSs of the world and less from, say, the hoity-toity University of Virginia.

Maybe someday it'll be a fair world where the little guy can get a break and continue mortgaging the future for self-important profits.  Until then, fight the power and scam on.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Young Florida Lawyers Display Immense Job Satisfaction, Repying Debt at High Levels

Great news from the ABA Journal!  The Florida Bar did a survey of its younger/less-experienced members and the results are a resounding, unqualified success for Florida, its law schools, and its bar.  Really, it's a win for justice.  Pat yourself on the back, big guy, and know the line to suck your even-keeled balls is long but well worth it.

Most often, we use words to describe the brilliant grace of the law.  This preference arises from the fact that we, generally, are wordsmithy lawyers, trained in legalese and office persiflage but utterly lost when numbers show up, save, of course, when the checks come (and they do!).  But loving the law can be expressed quantitatively as well, and buddy, it's rainin' good stuff:
  • 60+% of young lawyers are satisfied with their professional lives and over 50% would run to sign up for law school again
  • 41% have found so much success in the law that they have dreamed of transitioning to other fields, presumably like teaching, writing, or being CEOs of multinational corporations
  • 79% are working less than 60 hours a week, providing an excellent work-life balance
  • 43% report feeling no anxiety or depression at all in the practice of law
  • in an especially highlighted positive finding, "66% said they enjoy performing the day-to-day work of the job."
The Million Dollar Express: who said it's hard to perpetually orgasm and drive a train at the same time?  Not this one-man think-tank, and if anyone has, I'd like to see the paper on SSRN.

The biggest victory is in the student loan debt department. Behold the glory: "The median outstanding student loan amount was $150,000."

How many times have you heard that common student debts from "unnecessary and predatory" fourth-tier "shit-holes" like Barry, Coastal, or Ave Maria run 200k, 300k, etc.?  Well, if we accept that libel as true for the sake of argument, these lean, mean, lawyering machines are rapidly paying down their debts, no?  Is that not basic math?

$150k for an early career practitioner is nothing.  Just 15 years of $10k in payments (plus a teaspoon of interest and a fee here or there).  These badasses can live large in Destin or Naples and should have no issue paying down their debts.  I don't even know why we have IBR much less Liz Warren.

It's obvious that sunshine is the best disinfectant when the Sunshine State has, apparently, been scrubbed clean of the "it's a scam!" virus. 

I mean, it is, but shit...

Scam on.