Friday, May 29, 2015

The Diverse Slaughterhouse

The good news about law school's appeal being more selective is that it has cleared the way for minorities to get their place.  It's just like when whites fled out of parts of Cleveland and Detroit and Chicago!  Cue Penn State's Assistant Dean of  Career Services Tameesha Keel:
[A]ttorneys within the American legal profession do not adequately reflect the diversity of the current population. The legal profession severely lags behind other professions when it comes to diversity and inclusion, which is ironic considering the nature of the profession.
It is ironic, isn't it?

But don't worry, this irony is getting corrected!
The good news is that minority students are applying and being accepted into law schools more than ever before.
Worship the Rainbow!  But like Keel states, it isn't enough to simply enroll students.  Schools must also invest in diversity with educational programs and shit.  It's not enough for these kids to be black and red and yellow.  They have to be reminded about it in post-tertiary educational settings.  I'm guessing such programs should account for two, three maybe, tenured professorships.  I bet Dre Cummings would make a good consultant on these issues.
[Diversity] translates into better lawyers with deeper understanding of the profession's global realities, more capabilities in representing a diverse client base, and heightened cultural intelligence - skills that are absent without multicultural experiences.
None of my elementary school, middle school, high school, undergraduate institution, or law school had a single minority; not even a random strain of Lakota in a white bread, picket-fenced classmate.  Having also never read a book or connected to the internet, I was a multicultural virgin.  Still, I had this cynical belief that we were all fucked, basejumping down a chasm of cultural and moral entropy with no parachute until we were left with nothing but gritty bits of institutionalized misanthropy and epicurean capitalism.  Then, I took a random field trip to Los Angeles and realized that I was wrong.  We were flying much faster than the speed of gravity, and doing it on crack-cocaine.

Don't mistake me, though; I'm not being ironic.  It's awesome that law schools are enrolling more minorities, regardless of what caused it.

Imagine a slaughterhouse.  Let's call it Dickinson Farms.  For years, Dickinson has been almost exclusively been buying prime Hereford cattle.  Due to some unsavory, yellow-journalism news articles ("50% of subsidized beef winds up in dumpsters"), the fortunes of the beef industry look significantly worse; ranchers find other areas to sell their best Herefords.

Left with a severe shortage in higher-rated stock, the slaughterhouses turn to purchasing more Black Angus than they had in previous years (for whatever reason, Herefords generally are rated higher than Black Angus, and ratings mean everything).  Obviously, they would rather have the higher-rated Herefords.

But is this a bad sign for the slaughterhouse?  Fuck no; they're diversifying your foodie palette.  Remember?  That was their mission all along.  Not to make money.  Not to ensure the conveyor belt is full of carcases.  But to make sure your collective sense of justice taste is fulfilled.  In fact, they should go further and install new equipment to better extract the flavors of Black Angus.  It's a different breed entirely; you can't just use the same program and expect the lady's mouth to water the same way when she chews her filet mignon.

You might say "it's all just beef," but sir or madam, you need to have yourself a multisubspecies experience so you can appreciate a real cheeseburger when one is presented to you. 

Likewise, when the abattoirs of the American legal academy begin pushing out more properly-processed minority students, sweet justice is going to taste a hell of a lot better.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

NYLS Grads Should Go Play in Traffic

That's the advice given by Joe Plumeri to NYLS grads.  At first, Plumeri's speech sounds like one of those gee-whiz, be-positive-and-build-it savants who often exemplify the rule that post hoc does not mean prompter hoc, offering tons in feel-food energy and precious little in practical advice that graduates can actually apply to their lives.  Thankfully, this isn't one of those.
Plumeri said graduates must have commitment, purpose and vision in order to have success. He encouraged graduates to commit fully to whatever they wanted to do, using the analogy that Vikings burned their ships when they landed at a place they wanted to conquer. 
All those NYLS alums who are having problems in the job market 2, 3, 4, 20 years post-graduation should look no further than this wisdom.  Obviously, they haven't committed fully with purpose or vision.  Burn your boats, unemployed lawyers.  Burn your boats.

Need help finding your vision?  Go play in traffic.
He further explained that "playing in traffic" is all about going out there and exploring your vision, making blunders and taking risks.
Maybe, Ironic Isaac asks, law school is a blunder and risk akin to playing in traffic.

But still, if you're struggling in life, you just need to go out and mix it up a bit in the world.  Because, as Mr. Plumeri says, "Something's gonna happen eventually."  It's like a law: a series of blunders cannot continue indefinitely.

Let's look at Mr. Plumeri's life and see how this played out for him.
MY first job out of the College of William and Mary was teaching history and coaching at Neshaminy High School in Langhorne, Pa. 
In 1968 [two years after graduating from college], I spent six months in the Army Reserves at Fort Jackson, S.C. When I got out, I decided to go to law school.
So far so good!  Small-town teacher in Pennsylvania dances in the street and joins the reserves during the Vietnam War and then dances in the street and decides to enroll in a top-quality law school.  Can you see the vision and purpose at work?

And then, he brilliantly played in the street again:
I needed a part-time job, so I went looking around Wall Street. When I got to 55 Broad Street, I saw Carter Berlind Potoma & Weill in the lobby directory. I didn't know a law firm from a butterfly, but I thought that if it had three names or more, it must be a law firm.

The receptionist sent me to see Sandy Weill, one of the founding partners, and I made a great presentation. He said, ''What makes you think you'll learn the law here?'' I said, ''Well, this is a law firm.'' He said, ''No, this is a brokerage.''

He must have liked me because he decided to hire me.
As it turned out, he liked Sandy Weill and investment banking, dropped out of NYLS, and started a lucrative career, winding up in charge of Citigroup North America despite having only a history and education degree.

His vision and purpose in going to an investment bank asking to be a law clerk as a 24-year old law student is the type of vision, drive, commitment, and purpose the current crop of lawyers lacks.

If only 2015's NYLS students had the moxie to go "play in the street" and fumble their way into a meeting with a Wall Street CEO, more of them might realize the full value of their legal education.  Multiple career changes prior to age 25 doesn't signify a lack of purpose, commitment, and vision for Mr. Plumeri; oh no, it only signified that he needed to go out and play in the street some more.

NYLS grads may be wise to do the same.  The busier the thoroughfare the better; more traffic just means more inspiration and opportunity.  You may think when you lay paralyzed on the curb, exsanguinating from bloody limbs and exposed internal organs the way cash flows out your ass to pay debt, your traumatized mind unable to process the carnage, it's all quickly ending. 

But really, you're just going through blunders and risks, slowly failing your way to success.

P.S. - Those quick to note that he benefited by dropping out of law school should note first that without NYLS he never meets Sandy Weill and second that it is quite likely that he would have made even more money practicing law with his NYLS degree.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Montana's Ridiculous Rename Drama (Updated with happy CSOL news!)

UPDATE: Charleston will carry on another year.  Happy Memorial Day, Scam Soldiers!

Last week, news came out that Montana plaintiff's attorney Alexander Blewett III was donating $10 million to the U. of Montana's law school.  Discussions were private, and the school's faculty unanimously voted to change the school's name.  After all, "he was in the right place, right time" is the new "that dude revolutionized jurisprudence."

Some assholes think the public should have a say when renaming the state's only public law school.
But Regent Martha Sheehy, a Billings attorney, questioned why the public was not involved in the deliberations on whether to sell the school's name and for how much. The proposed contract came to the board as a finished product that the public has not had an opportunity to see, and Sheehy said neither the board nor the public know any other items that were being negotiated.
Sheehy said she's received comments from several attorneys who thanked Blewett for his gift but who also asked that the school's name be left alone.
I don't know if these Anonymous Andy "attorneys" understand how the world works, but generally, if you show up to a law school with $10 million, they're going to douse your junk in chocolate and enjoy a scrotal sundae long before the public knows what day it is.  I would make an analogy for women, but I've never seen a woman with $10 million pull this alpha-male shit.  They probably blow it on cosmetics and breast cancer research.

I mean, look at the words here:
Engstrom said the $10 million donation is a "transformative" opportunity for current and future students, but the school had to protect the identity of the donor during the process. The negotiations between Blewett and the university foundation were conducted in confidence until the donation was finalized, Engstrom said.
Is anyone going to ask why philanthropy requires negotiations?  This seems like a distinctly modern invention from the same mindset that blessed us with the 50-page packet of discovery requests and the ignominious patent troll.  When one donates money to church, there is no negotiation.  The minister is not, like, "Well, LSTC, that's a fine $2.50.  For an extra $1.00, I'll mention your shitlaw firm in an upcoming sermon..."  God bless the capitalist legal-business machine for making charity another place where the donor can get theirs.  The next time some "girl scout" wants to sell me cookies, I'm negotiating.  I'll pay $12 a box and I want the Samoa renamed to the Guamanian, or else you can take last year's sneakers and walk back the way you came, Little Olivia.

And transformative!  A beautifully academic version often used when "good" is intended.  It will be interesting to see what metamorphic changes the law school will undergo as a result of this $10 million gift.  Will it become the country-western version of Virginia?  Will it become a leader in insect migration law?  Will the law school turn into a giant coat rack?  An antifreeze factory?  An armadillo with a mohawk who doesn't take shit from anyone?

The key here is that they have to let the donation come in and allow the school's name to change.  Seriously, unless these protesting idiots pool together $10 million or more, you change the damn name.  Everything is for sale, and in these times, everything at a law school is on sale.

Blewett School of Law.  Just do it.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Charleston Saga Cont'd: CSOL Was Doing Well Before Protests to Sale

Today in the Charleston Saga, local attorney Armand Derfner wrote a Sunday article for the Post-Courier that CSOL was doing fine and dandy before all this InfiLaw stuff started.

As Derfner points out, applications and enrollment were doing better pre-2013 than other law schools around the country.  Meanwhile, median LSATs and bar passage rates remained steady.

In his words, students were "enthusiastic" to attend CSOL:
So don’t let anyone say that Charleston School of Law was already in trouble. 

That is a disservice to talented faculty and students who were building a fine law school with a growing reputation — a reputation that was getting an enthusiastic response from an otherwise-dwindling national student marketplace.
Indeed, let's look at the numbers!

LSAT Scores
Fall 2010: 156/154/151
Fall 2011: 154/152/148
Fall 2012: 154/151/149

Do you see that rise in the 25th percentile from 148 to 149?  That's numerical enthusiasm.

Fall 2010: 3.46/3.18/2.9
Fall 2011: 3.38/3.13/2.8
Fall 2012: 3.43/3.17/2.94

See those spikes from 2011 to 2012?  Enthusiasm!

1L Matriculants
Fall 2010: 237
Fall 2011: 224
Fall 2012: 174

See?  They might've lobbed 50 people off the class, but NATIONAL ENTHUSIASM!

You know where else you can see this enthusiasm?  The job market!

Bar Passage Required
Class of 2010: 53.5
Class of 2011: 55.4
Class of 2012: 59.8
Class of 2013: 59.6

See how the InfiLaw sale bushwhacked the school's prospects?  Absent any sale to InfiLaw, the school was seeing an exponential gain in student prospects looking at this small sample size.  By my calculations, the school was poised to have 71% of its graduates in BPR jobs in 2013.  Soon, it would be well over 100% if they just let it ride.

Of course, the villain in all of this isn't InfiLaw.  Heck, if InfiLaw makes a backroom deal to buy the school, and no one ever hears about it, it has literally no effect on anything.  No, the real villain is people protesting InfiLaw.

By protesting the sale and opening your mouths, you cost students jobs, and put CSOL on shaky ground.  If you had simply quietly accepted InfiLaw, none of these awful things ever happen.  CSOL continues to rise as InfiLaw's crown jewel, and pretty soon its graduates enjoy the fruits of a Harvard-like reputation in the American southeast.

In fact, one has to wonder why Mr. Derfner is writing to the newspaper.  If he truly believed in the school, I believe his talents would be better spent appealing to InfiLaw to get them to come back to the table and get the owners the money they rightfully deserve.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Charleston Saga (Cont'd): Where Future BigLaw Partners Can't Appreciate Good Business

What would YOU do if your Titanic of a law school was on the brink of sliding into the icy Atlantic?

My guess is that - as sensible, decorous people - you would quietly pack up to your office and discuss what BigLaw firms had contacted you about vacant partnerships.

Well, at CSOL, a minority of rabble-rousing idiots have decided to print a lunkheaded editorial in the local paper that violates their duty of confidentiality.  Get a load of this nonsense:
First, in the years immediately preceding the sale to InfiLaw, the owners distributed to themselves as profits $25 million in student-paid (often federally-guaranteed) tuition dollars. Those distributions depleted a multi-million dollar “rainy-day” fund, which the owners had assured the American Bar Association would remain in place to shelter the school against economic downturns. This profit-taking weakened the once financially vibrant law school. 
Okay, first of all, nothing that is said to the ABA counts.  The ABA is just a rubber stamp.  You say - and do - what you have to so they say yes, and then you do whatever the fuck you want.  You know that library?  That's only there because the ABA asked.  Your tenure status only exists because CSOL had to go through the motions to get accredited.  Accreditation is like being the chick in the sorority who desperately wanted a husband to support her idle shopping habits.  You do what you have to do to get the ABA to say "I do," and then you do the bare minimum so the ABA doesn't pull a LaVerne on you. 

Telling half-truths to quasi-regulators isn't just an American tradition; it's also fun.

Now let's learn more about what these idiots don't understand about the adult world:
Second, two of the five owners voted to buy out two of the others, thereby obtaining the votes needed to ink the InfiLaw deal. This buyout was accomplished through an InfiLaw loan, with the resulting millions in new debt strapping the school still further. 

Third, the remaining owners (by a 2-1 vote) hired InfiLaw as a “consultant,” at a numbing price tag that roughly equaled what 16 law students pay yearly in tuition. 
Board machinations and sweetheart consulting deals are the sine qua non of American business.

These aren't moves to be scorned in public, but rather to be applauded, copied, learned from.  The part where these gentlemen loaned money to buy out co-owners so they could secure a lucrative sale to the lender?  Buy that man a drink at the clubhouse!

Good God, you faculty members (along with the wicked state government) willfully and ridiculously obstructed this transaction with the ignorance of a child.

You all are like the kids in Scooby Doo.  There's the hippie stoner, the dorky feminist whatever, the upright closeted gay guy, and the mildly hot one.  I'm sure there are echoes on the faculty.  It's like you little bastards chased a bunch of clues and now you've pulled back the curtain, pulled off the mask, shone the spotlight:  IN-FI-LAW!?!?

That's juvenile kid shit.  Cross over to the world of grownup ethics, where bilking and conning others, manipulating federal programs and closely-held "public service" corporations for millions, should lead you to a better place, instead of having to ruin a perfectly good afternoon explaining life to a bunch of stupid law graduates in an empty office building.

It's times like this I wish the law graduate market weren't so robust, because these clowns really don't deserve to waltz into BigLaw partnerships.  

But they will, and they'll profit mightily, savoring the million-dollar degree, inflated, no doubt, by CSOL's probable closing.  And they say they have no self-interest...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Dean Satan's Graduation Speech (2015)

It's graduation season, so we decided to ask our good friend Dean Satan if he would kindly share his graduation speech for this year.  He's more than happy to comply, and to offer you a special seat in the Class of 2018...

[Wait for rapturous applause from introduction to finally abate, smile, thank the suckers, etc.]

Thank you very much for that heartwarming welcome.  I am touched by the enthusiasm of the Hell School of Law community each time I speak, and I know our graduates share that tingly feeling of being touched, too.

We are here, today, obviously to celebrate successes.  Over 200 of you have endured three years of concocted hell, and now you will leave with the distinguished honor of being a lawyer, one of America's most heavenly professions.  You have the opportunity to use the power of law to fight demons as you join the Honor Guard of Justice.

You may sit through court calls with megalomaniac judges that would make lesser people weep more loudly in their shitty little Toyota in the shitty parking lot afterwards.  In cold dark caverns you may monotonously review documents, each one feeling like a tiny stitch in a broad sweatshop fabric used to wipe the metaphorical cum out of your collective eyes.  You may work for self-absorbed baby-boomer partners who have earned the privilege to ride you like an ugly donkey as their retirement portfolio outpaces your savings account.  You may be unemployed, spit out of the system, left to beg and scrounge like a homeless drug addict for $50k jobs that go to new graduates as your dumber law school peers continue to hang on.

In all of these settings, remember that you are a Genghis Khan of justice.  On the back of a black horse called Truth, you will move like a feared ball of hellish fury rolling your army across the Adversarial Plains.  With your mighty bow the Constitution, you will shoot arrows of Rights.   You will chuck spears of Facts carved from the Forest of Investigation.  And with the robust sword called Procedure, christened by the touch of William Blackstone and handed down to you through the generations of warriors, you will deliver fatal blow after fatal blow to the enemies of justice.

But remember that even Genghis Khan failed in his life.

Failure is okay.  Failure is natural.  Look around this fine auditorium.  These people who came to see you, that love you and supported you through this nonsensical stuff?  Almost all of them are objective failures compared to me.  Look at me: I'm devilishly handsome, run a five minute mile, pulled in 500k last year, and chicks dig the pitchfork.  I'd like to see your booger-eating parents and siblings and spouses come up and preach the Bullshit like this.  That Genghis Khan of justice stuff?  That's choice material.

The point is that success does not come easy.  It is hard.  Really hard.  Much, much harder for people who don't have the Juris Doctor.  I mean, you'll never be able to go back and time and prove me wrong, but trust me on this one.

Many of you are failing right now.  Like 70% of you idiots can't find a job.  Maybe you should try cologne, or a push-up bra.  Maybe you should learn how to wear a fucking suit.  Full Windsor knot, Billy.  Full fucking Windsor.  Maybe you should learn how to talk to real people without sounding like an aspie retard.  Maybe you should've done better in all those curved classes.  Maybe you shouldn't have studied classics in undergrad.  Maybe you should've externed with an appeals judge or something.  I mean, I know there's a finite number of jobs and we could play this game for literally every unepmloyed person in America, but what the fuck is wrong with you folks?

The point is that most of you right now are failures.  Most of you are also deeply in nondischargable debt, so it's like exponential failure.  And because everyone quit listening to this speech once I brought up the Honor Guard of Justice, I will now tell you exactly how I plan to spend my tuition profits-based bonus this year.  You, fat girl in the front row, I'm spending your tuition profits on sprucing up my tie collection.  The back row on this side is going to help with payments on my cabin in Minnesota.  You four or five over Jewish-looking blokes here are going to contribute to a nice dinner at Eleven Madison Park, if I can get a table, which I always do.  And this general section here is contributing to my vice fund.

But this failure - like you people all being unemployed and broke, or even maybe like totally wasting three years of your life - is what makes us who we are.  The greatest successes in life come from the greatest failures.  That's not really true, but God damn it, it sounds super-cool.

I can't predict the future, of course.  I'm Satan, not a fucking fortune-teller.  But I know that despite the present failure engulfing the majority of you will someday lead to success.  You could have failure after failure after failure and, someday, you will finally break through, and you will look back and say that because you once went to law school, your legal education contributed directly to your success.

And I know this not because I want it to be true.  I know this because we now have mathematical proof that you will almost certainly realize a profit from your law degree.  Two of my esteemed colleagues in academia have recently published a study using real data that shows that by coming to law school, you will make a very nice premium over what you idiots would have earned with your English degrees.  Sure, critics of such studies may point out "flaws," but mathematics is mathematics.  You can argue no more with statistical-looking results than you can with a Maserati dealer.  Those guys will not haggle.  I admire that.

Instead of celebrating success today, we should be celebrating failure.  You all are struggling right now.  Near unemployable.  Deeply in debt to fund my speedball weekends.  Possibly angry, depressed, whatever.  That's wonderful!  If you had gotten an MBA or M or what have you, you'd be much less likely to be in this position, which means, in turn, that you'd be much less likely to have the resounded financial success of a lawyer later in life.

You can't argue with science, and science says that lawyers are successes.  So whatever you are feeling right now is just the prelude to bigger things.

So as you get employment rejection after employment rejection, wonder why you ever went to law school, descend into a doc review dungeon, maybe have to take a position in another field, maybe even irrationally hate me or my devilish faculty friends...

...Remember that we did you a big favor by giving you the power of a law degree.

You are a Genghis Khan of justice, and someday you, too, will have an empire.  Just keep scrolling, applying, waiting, struggling, and paying.  Success won't come if you fuck up my default rate.

[Smile and nod at standing ovation, try to pick out student's mom to nail, etc.]

Sunday, May 10, 2015

UMass Law: of Sterling Vision and Silver Spoons

Once upon a time, long ago, UMass Law was a stable, rising law school in a sea of resizing, confused law schools:
"Other schools are losing enrollment and decreasing their academic indicators," Bilek said. "To be stable and be increasing academic quality, at a time when nationally legal education is trying to figure out what to do, I would say is where we want to be.

"Every law school in the country has to resize, unless you started out the right size. We just came in at that moment where we could start out at the right size.
That was Dean Mary Lu Bilek, quoted in an article published September 21, 2014.  And there's more!
If and when UMass Law is granted full accreditation, Bilek said she'd like to double enrollment.
You have to admire the moxie here.  With dozens of public law schools, and numerous regional private law schools, struggling to find warm bodies who can pass a bar exam, Bilek and UMass were going to double enrollment in one of America's newest law schools.  This is the sort of bold, dictatorially reckless ambition that is usually lacking the risk-averse legal field, but occasionally finds its way into administrative positions.  It's the kind of thinking that made InfiLaw America's largest and best law school consortium; to take that basic stuff-'em-in model, but make the school, like, public service-y?  That's brilliant.

Fast forward to May of 2015:
The University of Massachusetts School of Law has a mounting deficit, which hit $3.8 million last fiscal year, a gap expected to widen next year....

The law school for now has scrapped plans to increase enrollment and instead decided to cut the size of its incoming class by a third, to 72 students.
The school has adjusted its goals, and now expects to be self-sufficient when it increases its enrollment to 450, hopefully by 2018. This year it has 213 students.

Bilek is frank about how UMass is trying to bolster its academic profile, by admitting fewer students and those with higher LSAT scores, and by offering more scholarships. Last year it spent $1.3 million on scholarships for its 268 students.
Ah, yes!  They're still going to double enrollment by 2018; that part hasn't changed in the last eight months.  Because if there's one thing Boston needs, it's an additional 150 lawyers dumped into the market every year.  But before they do that, they're going to fool everyone into thinking they have a higher academic profile by reducing enrollment and getting higher LSAT scores.

Per the Globe, the school currently has around 9.3 million in expenses and 5.5 million in revenue.  They're going to offer more scholarships to get better students next year.  Got to spend money to make money, bro'.

This school's whole existence and forward financial model is reckless stupid wasteful offensive moronic arrogant cunningly ingenious.  Imagine if Cooley slashed its enrollment, enjoyed the temporary academic profile boost (US News #109!), and then turned the spigot on doubleblast a mere three years later!  The best part of it being Dean Bilek and UMass that came up with this is that the public of Massachusetts stands to benefit mightily.

After all, UMass's raison d'etre is that the grads being pumped out by Suffolk and Northeastern are too fucking rich and too uninteresting in the plight of the poor to be trusted with something as important as The Law.
The law school was created with a noble mission: To make a doctor of laws degree affordable, and to educate people who will use their degrees to help people who direly need legal services.

Bilek calls it “making sure that not only people born with silver spoons in their mouths are making the law.”
Indeed.  If there's one thing that can be collectively said about graduates from Harvard, Boston U., Boston College, New England, Northeastern, Suffolk, Massachusetts School of Law, Yale, UConn, Quinnipiac, Roger Williams, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, it's that no one's interested in public service or legal aid work in the region, not even with programs like PSLF.

UMass will likely continue to lose money every year.  But come 2018, watch out, richers.  New England is going to get a Marxist curbstomp of public-serving justice doers.

You can use your silver spoon to swallow the cold medicine of 150 new legal aid-friendly graduates hitting the market every year.  Boston may finally have enough lawyers.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Charleston Saga, Cont'd (Updated): The Law School Bubble May Have Found Its Lehman Brothers

For those of you who conveniently ignore that we had the mother of all global financial meltdowns less than ten years ago that caused a momentary downward shift in lawyer incomes amidst a long stretch of green green green, here's a history lesson for you.

In early 2008, Bear Stearns (a big banking thingy) looked like it was going under rapidly.  This was bad news for everyone, so our Lord and Savior, the Federal Reserve, swooped in and saved them from bankruptcy court in a shenanigans deal to JP Morgan.  Later in 2008, Lehman Brothers (another big banking thingy) looked like it was about to go under.  But this time, for reasons not worth going into here, the third party angel did not save our necessary institution.

Result?  Stock market crash.  Biggest panic in decades.  A recovery measured in years (and thankfully achieved, eh, law grads?)

In the law school setting, Thomas Jefferson Law School was our Bear Stearns.  A too-big, too-necessary institution that our legal academy could not risk losing.  Their lenders saved it from the brink of annihilation, and now they're poised to continue educating southern California's finest lawyers for years upon years to come.

So who's the law school industry's Lehman Brothers?

I think Charleston Law School.
The troubled law school’s two-member board cut the traditional post-commencement reception from its budget this year — despite pulling in $25 million in profit from the school between 2010 and 2013. The move has pushed student and alumni groups to take up a collection to cover the cost, said Matt Kelly, president of the Student Bar Association. 
Oh dear.  You know you know how there's various behavioral/physiological signs of pending death in an elderly person?  I have to think cutting the coffee and cookies after a major event is a huge red flag for academic death.  How the hell do they expect to keep a faculty without so much as a cheese tray, a tub full of bottled water, a bargain bin Vivaldi CD playing over the loudspeakers?

InfiLaw has apparently stepped out for now.  And just like a pair of soon-divorcing spouses arguing over which one forgot to feed the floating fish, the greedy former owners and the greedy InfiLaw folks are already arguing about who killed it:
The school’s future remains uncertain, and InfiLaw representatives have said they currently have no plans to re-apply for a license to operate in South Carolina from the state’s Commission on Higher Education.

Law school owners and InfiLaw representatives have said the school is in a financial crisis due to declining enrollment and the owners taking money out of the school. And former owner Ed Westbrook has said the management services fee the school must pay to InfiLaw also is adding to its financial burden.
Honey, it's because you withdrew money.
No, 'Flaw, it's because we have to pay you a management services fee!

By all accounts, this school's future is in peril.  If and when it becomes a Lehman Brothers, expect ripples throughout legal academia way worse than anything anyone expected.  Is South Carolina prepared for the rush of applications?  Is the southeast prepared to have a massive gap in its justice fulfillment?

More importantly, if you're a struggling law school, and InfiLaw comes knocking, take the damn deal and shut the fuck up.  The hypocritical "pride" of some alumni/students/outsiders may cause Charleston, South Carolina, to be without a law school.  It's almost like InfiLaw is going to let this school die out of spite at this point.  I mean, if I were 'Flaw, I would've at least tried to apply again wearing a fake mustache and talking with an accent.  No, I'm not InfiLaw, I'm OutfiLaw, and I just got off the boat from Galway, I did.

Potential post-closure activities already post some interesting questions; for now, InfiLaw's next move will be interesting; might I suggest a play in Atlanta or Savannah? 

UPDATE:  The Charleston Regional Business Journal is reporting that CSOL may stop enrollment.  She's now more likely to go down than the average woman a young buck lawyer dates.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Tale of Two Studies and the Easy Six-Figure LSAT Tutor

Slate's Jordan Weissmann is back with an article summarizing the recent research efforts in the legal academy to quantify how much ass a Juris Doctor degree kicks booty.  He begins with a discussion of Deborah Merrit's Ohio study (I don't know what's called, so I'm going to name it after a Neil Young song about justifiable homicide), which purported to show that the 2010 era graduates aren't doing as well as the 2000 era graduates.  Encouragingly, Weissmann appears to buy the Simkovic & Co. narrative that Ohio isn't American enough:
Among other issues, Ohio has a lot of low-ranked law schools, and many of its most talented grads don't stay in-state; they head to centers of the legal industry, like nearby Chicago, instead.
If Professor Merrit really wanted to do a solid analysis, she would have chosen a more populous state with a destination legal market that isn't so unfairly burdened with low-ranked schools.  Obviously, if she had run this analysis on New York, California, Illinois, Florida, or D.C., the results would have been significantly more favorable to the legal academy, and way, way more relevant to the nationwide pool of law graduates.  As well all know, those states' legal economics are doing much better for younger graduates than f'ing Ohio.

The best thing about Weissmann's piece is not that it's superficial 'net rubbish, but that it reinforces the profitability of the law degree:
[E]ven relatively low-paid J.D.'s earn enough compared with mere bachelor's holders to make law school a financially worthwhile investment....One reason is that, even law grads who work in other fields, such as business or public policy, tend to get a nice salary bump compared with people who ended their educations after college.
Wang is currently working as an LSAT tutor, which is more or less a nightmare scenario for most students. On the other hand, he's making "over $100 an hour," meaning he could easily be making six figures. By Simkovic and McIntyre's metrics, his law degree looks like a solid choice, given that relatively few mere B.A. holders under 30 earn that much.
The first take-home point here is that he accepts the mathematical validity of Simkovic & McIntyre's work.  This is a major website and a person who has written on legal education previously.  He surely knows better.  But still, when you dazzle people with mathematical models and such, you can sell ice water to a polar bear.

I can't overstate how awesome it is that people still put stock in Economic Value of a Law Degree.  It's bogus research that has been shredded to pieces for its number of flaws (bias, methodology, lack of refuting alternative causation hypotheses, etc.), and Weissmann still cites it for the proposition that non-lawyers get a "salary bump" for having a JD! 

The second take-home point is that there's a writer in America who believes an LSAT tutor is actually making the full-time equivalent of his stated hourly wage, or that it's "easy" for an LSAT tutor to get so much work (in a declining LSAT environment) to make that much.  And then it's almost like he uses that conclusion for circumstantial proof of Simkovic & McIntyre's claims that non-lawyer JDs do okay financially - it's the emotional side we have to be concerned about.  Your money can't save you from the depression that you'll never settle a speeding ticket.

Note the core approach here:  The mainstream journalist points out potential sample/methodological issues with Professor Merritt's research, but when he discusses the pitfalls of Simkovic & McIntyre's research, he writes as though the sample selection and methodology were fine and it's the extrapolation of the results that's the issue, despite rather glaring issues in Simkovic & McIntyre's sampling and methodological approach, not to mention the causation problem that's present when looking at a premium like this.

Were I a feminist scholar, I would point out that taking the white males' research conclusions at face value without relaying any of the skepticism and blatant issues therein, while repeating white male criticisms of the methodological approach of the female scholar, is a blatant example of academic sexism.

But I'm not, so fuck her and her stupid look at real-life linkedin profiles.

I'm off to spend some of my million-dollar JD premium on a professional-grade ice cream machine.  I'm going to see if I can make a flavor that tastes like the bitter crocodile tears of $200k LSAT tutors.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The $700,000 Law Job: America's Most Inefficient Law Schools

As many of you know, the powers that be recently released the 2014 jobs data.  I decided to come up with a metric to see which school were most delightfully inefficient in turns of getting their students full time/bar passage required jobs.  Don't worry if this offends you; the free market would correct it if it were any ind of error.

What I did was use an estimated total of student expenditures on law school, starting with the full cost of attendance at repayment for individuals and subtracting out an estimated amount of per-student discount.  For this model, I don't care who is paying, just that money is likely changing hands.  (After all, money invested in a legal education could've been spent or invested elsewhere).

I then took the aggregate total of estimated expenditures by the total student body to attend said institution for three years and simply divided it by the number of bar passage required jobs.

You might think "this looks bogus" or "aren't you forgetting some stuff/making a few assumptions," but I can assure you that I'm strongly interested in methodological rigor.  I thought about it over a lunchtime, and my conclusions are as valid as the "million dollar law degree" that is now empirical fact.  And because million dollar law degrees are a fact, attending each of these institutions is still an economically productive activity at modest inflation rates.

Here's the top 20:

Law School Expenditures/ FT/LT BPR
Thomas Jefferson $782,819.57
Whittier $772,062.72
WMU/Thomas M Cooley $766,592.20
San Francisco $742,725.08
Southwestern $677,350.97
Santa Clara $665,445.09
Western State $649,527.55
Florida Coastal $612,042.07
Golden Gate $604,420.11
Ave Maria $557,295.81
Western New England $544,779.49
New York Law School $540,442.91
McGeorge $529,213.48
Elon $528,593.00
Pepperdine $522,318.40
New England $519,030.78
Catholic $517,094.21
District of Columbia $509,185.18
Charlotte $499,625.69
Vermont $487,800.10

Why, yes, I did just find another way to show how awesome law schools are.  Example: for every Golden Gate 2014 graduate who found a full-time, bar passage required job with 10 months, the student body of Golden Gate collectively paid a crudely-estimated $600,000 in expenses.

If you'd like to know what the worst law schools are in terms of totally bilking everyone involved, just pick a random public school in the middle of nowhere.  Further research would be wise to adjust these numbers by geography.  For example, the worst-scoring schools on the list were the University of Montana and the University of Nebraska, who combine offensively-low costs of living with above-average job placement (Nebraska claims 90 of 117 graduates in bar passage required...).  Things like this are why the economies of Montana and Nebraska are lagging far, far behind California, Illinois, and New York.  In any event, even at those schools, the expendatures/job numbers are in excess of $125,000.00, in areas with much lower costs of living.

And while we're talking about money, I'd like a moment to disclose that this blog is, in fact, fully funded (that means my hookers are clean) by an arch-conservative foundation and/or reactionary group.  Have fun guessing which one!