Saturday, December 27, 2014

Mississippi Burning ...up the Job Market!

And with the birth of Jesus, your apostle at the LSTC is ready to return to bringing you the Good News, this time from the land of Colonel Sartoris.

From the Jackson Free Press (ed.: as opposed to...?)
The University of Mississippi School of Law's first-year enrollment has dropped from 199 in 2010, to 156 in 2012 and just 127 students this year.
The decrease was intentional.
Officials began reducing their class sizes at a time when a recovering economy and improving job market began to lure potential students away from law school.
Emphasis added.  See, kids, your "scamblogger" "friends" are telling you that law schools have had to slash enrollment because law school isn't worth it.  Au contraire.  As our friends in Mississippi are telling us, it's because the economy is going so darn good that it's luring students away from law school like Pied Pipers or Sirens or pick your analogy.

Of course, they understand math, too:
"We were much more concerned about placement. If we had a large class that impacts the profession in a negative way when the market isn't real strong for lawyers. What we've found by getting smaller is placement percentages have gone up," law school dean Richard Gershon told The Sun Herald.
Last year, about 85 percent of the law school graduates had a job in the legal field nine months after graduation, Gershon said.
Wow, that sounds excellent!  I mean, their law school transparency numbers are significantly lower (NALP 2013 = 71% bar passage required), but I'm happy Gershon - who the internet says is a pioneer of Charleston School of Law - is here to give us the straight dope without cutting it with malicious anti-law school lies.
"One thing I've found that keeps me optimistic is that people applying, getting in and going to law school really want to be in law school," Gershon said.
 Thank God we're finally getting people who really really really want to be lawyers, as opposed to the class of 2008, whose members were obviously just throwing three years of their lives away, in a much better non-legal employment market, to only sort-of want to be lawyers.  Maybe that's a byproduct of making residents spend around $100k for a public school law degree?

I just hope the improving job market for undergraduates doesn't lure them away.  Otherwise, Mississippi just may run out of lawyers.  So the next time you're in Biloxi or Tupelo, please make sure you talk up the virtues of buying from China or India.  Things simply can't go so well that we risk not having enough lawyers to stock the yellow pages and bench backs.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dean Satan's Christmas Carols, Volume I

OUR HERO in the Valentino suit with the pure silver cufflinks and the adorable red horns poking through his immovable sculpture of salt-and-pepper hair had a minor problem.

"Applications are still falling," Dean Satan huffed to the boardroom of esteemed faculty and donors.  "Kids these days simply don't understand the long-term benefits of a legal education."

Professor Mammon, a ninety-year-old who hid the smell of cancer with astringent aftershave and jokes from the 70s, slowly raised his shaking hand.  "I think we could use an LLM program in something new and current."  He rustled around in his saddlebag and pulled out a real actual newspaper.  "Russian law," he said.  "Oil law.  Horoscope law..."

"No," Dean Satan snapped.  "We need to attract fresh blood."

"Let's have one of those wine soirees," Professor Sin said, her eyes wide with excitement at the prospect.  "The new students always love those.  Let's just invite the prospectives, get everyone hammered, and have then sign master promissory notes at 2 a.m.  It's how I bought my lake house!"

"Tempting," Dean Satan replied in his grease-slick tone.  "Most tempting.  But I fear not even free mid-shelf booze can remove the torpor of this bunch.  No, we need something truly devious, something truly soul-clenching, revolutionary in its ability to make moderately-intelligent people believe our horseshit."

"A jingle!" Assistant Dean Beelzebub said.  He was just 26 and fresh out of a Supreme Court clerkship term, but he obviously brought with him the cutting insight of the sharpest legal minds.  Shit like this is why he taught courses like contracts and such.  "I've got eight cars because of those holiday jingles.  Surely we can get the suckers to fall in line if we lure them like Pied Pipers to our snowmobiles of jurisawesome!  I mean, most of our arguments for law school are just repeating the same discredited things over and over again.  Why not do it in song?

And what happened, then?
Well, in Hellville they say -
that Dean Satan's small heart
grew three sizes that day.
And when he recovered
in the hospital room
Dean Satan found the idea
simply unable to doom!

"We'll do Christmas Carols to market our law school!" he yelled with a fire of, well, hellfire.  Boom!

...somewhere, on a public access station...

  ...a jazz beat, piano intro...a group of handsome devils sings into a microphone...

Your phone rings; have a listen
Law school calls; your future glistens
A beautiful sight; protect some animal rights
Walkin' in a law school wonderland...

When you're a lawyer you can build a straw man
And sell it to a judge with robe and crown
He's ask "are you smokin'?"
You'll say "Law, Man!"
"And add some costs and fees; let's party down!"

Later on, you'll conspire,
while a-drunk, in the mire,
To face unafraid,
All the models you've laid,
Walking in a law school wonderland...

...key change, mood change to stately, festive...Professor Moloch - late 40s, fatter, bearded, maybe runs a blog on rock music and the law or something - steps up to a microphone...

Good King InfiLaw looked out;
On the Feast of Schemin'
Middling LSATs all about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone their futures bright
Tho' the news was cru-el
When their applications came
"Welcome to our schoo-ooo-el...."

...minor key, somber, like, a hymn or something...Professor Sin steps up to a DIFFERENT microphone...

O Come O Come Emmanuel
And ransom captive all those 0 Ls
That mourn in lonely exile here
where jobs for undergrads have disappeared
Law will change your unemployment hell.

...massive drum beat, Professor M.C. Mephistophales is in da hizzy...

Sittin' in my office readin' my law book hard
And I thought to call up, a champion of justice
Picked up the telephone, then dialed the seven digits
Said, "hey, want to talk wit' me about Hobby Lobby?"

I arrived at her house, knocked on the door
Not having no idea of what the night had in store
I'm like a dog in heat, a freak without warnin'
We talked about the ACA 'til early next mornin' this point, Professor M.C. Mephistophales raps "Me so horny...for law!" in between Dean Satan singing "All I want for Christmas is more butts in seats..."

Abrupt stop...a spotlight shines on a child who has been pushed onto the stage at gunpoint...

Jolly lawyers everywhere,
Lean your ears this way!
I just might, starve real soon
hear what I have to say.

Notice applications swoon,
listen while you can,
my Boomer counsel retires soon
who will replace that man?

When his career strikes at twelve
And fees rise up real steep;
Our promises to justice, well,
how can you claim to keep?

Johnny wants a pair of skates
Susie wants a sled
Me I just want counsel to
protect my home and bread.

 The child is unceremoniously ushered to the pits of hell, which, in this scenario, is a green room with watered-down orange drink.  The piano goes upbeat and Dean Satan, Prof. Mammon, and a ghastly pale figure called Spoiler step forward...

Spoiler:  Alright you lawprofs, ready to sing your song?
Dean Satan:  Every year!
Spoiler:  Okay, Mammon?
Prof. Mammon:  I think I wet myself.
Spoiler:  Okay, Mammon?
Prof. Mammon:  Ready.
Spoiler:  Satan?...Satan?...SATAN?!?!?
Dear Satan:  Ready!

Christmas, Christmas, time is near;
Like the bar, it's every year.
Go to family, advertise!
Dean Satan:  Imagine the view from your high rise!
We can hardly stand the wait; please don't apply here late.

Spoiler:  Okay, fellas, get ready. That was good, Prof. Mammon
Prof Mammon:  I met JFK once.
Spoiler:  I meant the singing.
Prof. Mammon:  My CV is 30 pages long.
Spoiler:  Uh, Dean Satan, only 35% of your students passed the bar exam last year....Satan?...Satan?...SATAN?!?!?!
Dean Satan:  Fuck you, asshole, it's the bar examiners.

Abrupt darknessSuper-cool laser light show.  Symphony orchestra starts playing "Carol of the Bells."

Hark! Zero Ls
Sweet Zero Ls
All seem to say,
"Debt bombs away."
Law school is here
Build good career
For young and old
Meek and the bold
All really want to study, helps you buddy, any path you may take!
JD, JD, JD, JD 'vantage
JD, JD, JD, JD 'vantage


...fade into Prof. Belial strumming at a guitar in the corner...

Billy, the English major,
chose to get a law degree
and if you ever saw it,
you would want to get a J.D.

All of the econ majors,
used to laugh and call him names
then never let poor Billy
play their silly MBA games

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
The big firm came to say
"Billy, with your mind so bright,
won't you lead our bet-the-company fight?"

Then all the MBAs loved him,
and they shouted out with glee,
Billy, the Super Esquire,
You'll go down in history!


Editor's note:  I hope you have enjoyed another thrilling adventure in the Dean Satan Chronicles.  I will likely not be posting again until after Christmas.  So, be you hero or villainous whiner or a lost soul in the chasm of unfathomable uncertainty, the LSTC wishes you a happy holiday of your choosing, or just a good December if you dislike all the present options.  

Please feel free to add your own holiday songs for Dean Satan and the gang in the comments section, but please note that particularly good ones may be stolen and incorporated into a future post, as is lawyer tradition.

God bless us, every one, tho' obviously me a wee bit more than others.  Happy holidays---

Monday, December 8, 2014

California Style

Less than half of overall takers of the California bar examination passed the test this year, and, as it turns out, they do it on the west coast the same way they do it on the east coast:  blame the test makers.  First, the sympathy set-up so you're emotionally ready to exonerate the leaders:
"Law school deans are in a particularly difficult situation these days," said Derek Muller, a professor at Pepperdine University who writes on the business of law.
And now the flush:
Muller, the Pepperdine professor, said he didn't believe the drop in bar passage could be entirely explained by the test-takers because the rates fell in so many states. "It strikes me as something internal to the bar," he said.
See, if the results of the bar examination dropped in one state in isolation of all the other states, we could assume it was due to that one state being more stupider than all the rest, but since they dropped everywhere, it's just totally erroneous because everyone knows the entire law student population didn't get dumber overnight.  I mean, that's just dumb.

The opposite of dumb is Gilbert Holmes, who's currently leading La Verne on a thunderous comeback to relevance.  Note how he gracefully slips a soundbite into a sentence ostensibly criticizing soundbite reliance (that he surely knew was going to get published):
Many academics say the drop isn't a concern — at least not yet. "We live in a sound-bite society, but one year does not make a trend," said Gilbert A. Holmes, dean of the University of La Verne College of Law.
And now watch Holmes drop-kick the NCBE's cold remark that the 2014 class was "less able" to pass the bar with words:
"To make such a damning statement of this group of law students, to label them as being as less able based on solely that the average score was lower than the year before, is what got me upset and what got the other deans upset," said Holmes, who signed the administrators' letter.
Yeah, why use averages?  Everyone knows that if you want to reflect a data set properly, you give the median and 25th/75th percentiles.  Thankfully, the article doesn't mention that La Verne's 1L enrollment fell from 166 to 55 in 2011, because that's just another ludicrous and irrelevant data point that would make Holmes angry.

Gilbert Holmes?  More like the John Holmes of Semantics.  Only maybe without the AIDS or the cocaine thing.

The simple truth is that the bar examination is not fair if it precludes an open admissions policy,.  The sooner the powers that be accept this, the sooner we can all get back to our Swedish supermodels and Italian sports cars.  (Or, if you're a public defender, Italian supermodels in Swedish sports cars; there's a reason they call public service jobs a sacrifice).

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Law School Worth Investment, Says PhD Liberal Arts Dean

Daniel R. Porterfield is the President of Franklin and Marshall college.  He's also married to an attorney so you know he knows what he's talking about.  And he's on Forbes - leading in with the not-tired-at-all Shakespeare character speaking of killing lawyers - telling the world law school is a good investment.

Let's celebrate some of his best points:
Our society doesn’t work without well-educated legal leaders dedicated to preserving America’s commitments to the Constitution and fair legal frameworks for dispute resolution.
As we all know, our society is now working better than ever.  I don't know about you, but I do nothing but ride unicorns, eat cupcakes, and hold hands with minority business owners.  That's largely thanks to an unprecedented amount of laws, regulations, and lawyers in this land.  Thank goodness all lawyers are dedicated to preserving Constitutional values and securing fair access to courts and other legal frameworks.

But it's not just our nation that's imperiled in the absence of lawyers; it's our money:
...capitalism requires legal checks to ensure fair competition in the economic sphere and protect the rights of employees, consumers, shareholders, and owners alike.
A simpleton might quip that capitalism has been practiced (and is practiced) without any of the above, but they just don't understand a principle I like to call lawfeelgood.  Plus, they don't a PhD, so fuck 'em.

 As he notes later on, law has numerous personal benefits as well (listen up, Sally Selfishes!), from "honing one’s mind" to "earning a living" to "expertly navigating the litigious society that we all inhabit."  I stop and reflect upon that last one. Prior to law school, I used to conduct blasting operations at a chromium factory in a large urban area as part of a horizontal price-fixing scheme while disregarding my child support obligations.  I can't tell you how much law school has helped me navigate the litigious aspects of this country.

His advice?
Sometimes, when a promising undergraduate says she is considering law school, well-meaning people say, “What a shame…”

But we should encourage such aspirations, because we need some of the best minds of this and every generation to become society’s leaders in law.
This follows with what is essentially an advertisement for Franklin & Marshall, which is great, because it apparently has leaders who are more gung-ho for law school than the heretical saboteurs at other institutions that may give their students advice based on statistics, rationality, and probability rather than pop political philosophy and unicorn zoology.

But most importantly, it's absolutely necessary that we send "some of the best minds of this and every generation" to law school.  Because law is super important and even though there's already triple the people to do this work now in a system that is bloated and shrinking, we need more more more gobble gobble more.

I'm off to ride my unicorn (named "Hornylaw") and eat cupcakes of justice as I protect capitalism and democracy.