Saturday, October 31, 2015

Setting the Record Straight

If you pay attention to legal education news at all, you probably saw that the New York Times tried to body slam Florida Coastal and like schools this weekend, and, in fact, dropped the "s-bomb" in referring to such schools.  Of course, we rational, sane citizens know that if Florida Coastal is a "scam" then so are 185 other law schools in America.

Well, Florida Coastal dean Scott DeVito (sounds mafioso-y) is setting the record straight.  As someone with fairly impressive testicles, I know a good pair when I see 'em in action, and at the poker table of academic life, Dean DeVito's got the nuts.
Our alumni repay their loans at a higher rate than the “elite” schools. Approximately 1.1% of alumni at Florida Coastal are in default while 2.5% of alumni at the top 20 universities with law schools are in default. Our alumni even outperform alumni at Ivy League schools who default at a 1.2% rate.
Our students repay their loans because our students succeed.
Sometimes it takes a for-profit entity to right a wrong—in this case the lack of diversity in law schools. The student body in not-for-profit law schools is about 29.7% diverse. According to the U.S. Census bureau, the United States is currently about 37.9% diverse. The student body at Florida Coastal is approximately 44.4% diverse.
Yes, [our students'] debt load is higher but that is because taxpayers are not paying for our students’ education. In addition, if you want to diversify the profession across race and socio-economic lines, then you will have to admit students who do not have the same resources as students at “elite” law schools.
If the board comes I think they will be delighted with what they see: a law school that is educating and preparing a diverse group of students for success in a way that is better than traditional not-for-profit law schools.
My record has been set so straight it's making John Wayne look like John Waters.

For those who have a hard time following sound law school reasoning, "not defaulting" is now the same as "repaying," "not defaulting" means an institution's students are succeeding, prior to FC's founding there was a dearth of non-profit schools in the country that expressly sought to boost diversity, for-profit schools are expense because the taxpayers aren't funding anything, and Florida Coastal and its 33.5% LST employment score is a better option than places like Florida State or Florida.

Reading things like this really makes me want to do law school all over again.   If you're keeping score at home, that's a beatdown.  Mercy rule applies.  Go home, and do not try to mount a comeback.  You will only hurt yourself.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Godspeed, Larry Mitchell

Two years ago, I reported on the initial filings in the case that turned out to be key to Lawrence Mitchell's downfall as one of the great law deans, and also, in retrospect, revealed him to be a master of a bygone age, a time when men were men and the world was one giant titty.

It went somewhat under the radar earlier this school year that Mitchell resigned his faculty position and did not come back to the Case Western faculty this fall as initially planned.

I continue to believe that Larry Mitchell was unfairly railroaded by snooty, progressive nutballs infected with the disease of modern academic decorum. For example, the recent piece criticizes the dean for conduct including the following, documented in an affidavit in the court case:
Specifically, the affidavit mentions a dinner at Felice Urban Cafe attended by Mitchell, some staff, and some Chinese exchange students. Mitchell had been drinking heavily, it notes, and continued drinking during dinner. "Dean Mitchell was very touchy feely with the female exchange students, cuddling up against them. In particular, Dean Mitchell pulled one Chinese student... close to him. At one point he had his arm around her." The staff and the student made sure no students rode home with Mitchell that night.
Call me old fashioned, but I think school administrators should try to have more personal relationships with their students, particularly foreign students who need a strong male figure to welcome them to the United States and our strange customs relating to middle-aged white men and their lechery.  Really, who the fuck goes to a well-reviewed French restaurant with Larry Mitchell and doesn't plan on some connectivity?  If "touchy-feely" is now a bad thing, take me back to 1960 and smash the time machine, thanks.  Mad Men was way better in season 1, amirite?

The good news is that it appears the Case Western top brass generally agreed with this approach for quite a long time.
[T]he trouble remains that according to the tenured professor and Ku's lawsuit, many upper level staff members at CWRU, including the provost, the office of general counsel, and the right-hand man to president Barbara Snyder, heard all of the allegations and not only protected the hand-picked dean, but allegedly authorized Mitchell to dispatch with Ku.
Damn courts and journalists interfering with a good thing. Again, in the good old days, America protected its leaders.  We hushed up good and proper when they wanted to drink and ram their cocks in whatever was willing, under pressure or not.  We didn't banish them from educating the next generation.

Oh well.  If this was the quiet last hurrah in legal education, I say godspeed, Dean Mitchell.  I'll never forget the indelible impression of your words:
I’M a law dean, and I’m proud. And I think it’s time to stop the nonsense. After two years of almost relentless attacks on law schools, a bit of perspective would be nice.

For at least two years, the popular press, bloggers and a few sensationalist law professors have turned American law schools into the new investment banks. We entice bright young students into our academic clutches. Succubus-like, when we’ve taken what we want from them, we return them to the mean and barren streets to fend for themselves.

The hysteria has masked some important realities and created an environment in which some of the brightest potential lawyers are, largely irrationally, forgoing the possibility of a rich, rewarding and, yes, profitable, career.
It was true way back then and it is true today.  As enrollments continue to decline, it's clear that Mitchell's words were prescient.  This industry just wasn't made for him.

I pray the dean, now publicly using the name "Ezra" apparently, finds goodness in his new ventures, and that he continues writing and producing top-notch poetry.

I also give him bonus points for claiming resume-worthy achievements from a place that - for all practical purposes - unceremoniously canned him.

Monday, October 26, 2015

When the Seventh Seal Opened, There Cameth a Parade of Honda Civics with Opinionated Drivers

Happy Monday, law school scammers!  

This is the LSTC Morning Show letting you vent all those valuable opinions you have as you drive in to enjoy the rightful fruit of ignorance for being well-positioned in life.  Remember, opinions are like butts; you've all got 'em, and I want to lick every single one connected to a mind that reads the paper of record.

Now, yesterday, the New York Times ran an article that basically echoed the ramblings of Crazy Campos.  I know you're all chomping at the bit to opine on this liberal spillage, so let's put on some light jazz and hit the phonelines.

Here's Jack in California:
Do these "students" do any homework? How many minutes of Internet research does it take to find the pass/fail rates of students in these law schools? How much research does it take to discover the average income of lawyers, the job prospects for lawyers, the odds of passing the bar, etc?
Amen, brotha.  With accurate information at the click of the mouse (much of it put out by schools themselves), these lazy cats deserve what's comin' to 'em.  It's not like the schools put out intentionally misleading disinformation or anything, just the awesome truth of the million-dollar degree.

Thanks for calling. Now here's Lynn:
Graduation from a good law school can prepare one to do any job that requires critical thinking, diligent preparation, public speaking, and/or wise judgment....
Taking on student debt is a gamble just like taking on a mortgage or a car loan or at the national level, war debt.
 That's right, Lynn, it's just like those other debts.  These law grads should use some of that "diligent preparation" and "wise judgment" and get themselves a job to pay back that debt, just like you would if you had a million dollar housing investment scheme go bust.

Let's go to Bryan in motherfuckin' Canada:
Your analysis leads to the profoundly illogical conclusion that somehow the will of these gullible students to resist law school allure has been overcome by predatory, profit-seeking law schools. Are they children? Please.....
 Whoa, wicked burn, Spock! Your command of logic is outstanding. Now let's go to Tim in New York:
Where is the culpability of the student, who, after receiving a pathetic LSAT score, fails to say him or herself "maybe I am not cut out to be a lawyer and shouldn't incur $150k of debt" (thereby proving again that they aren't capable of being in a profession requiring logic skills )?
 When we're faced with a Catch-22, blame the decision-maker and not the one who put the absurd system in place.  Timmy, I like the cut of your jib. Go Mets!

Next we have wsf (surely not a real name) calling in from Michigan.  What's on your mind, bro?
We are a nation of laws so we need lots of lawyers. It would seem to me that some of our lawyers should be smart enough to know how to provide us with a law that would prevent this law school debt crisis.
If only!  Unfortunately, no one has been able to come up with a single law or policy change that would stop the federal government from writing prospective students a black check ticket to whatever degree they least not one that keeps the good schools in business and doesn't deprive impoverished minorities of vital education.  If anyone can come up with anything that is fair and equitable to all parties and allows college administrators to continue eating the ass of the piggybank, let us know!

Finally, here's Beverly in Florida:
The answer is to give students FREE tuition in exchange for 10 years of work as a lawyer for the public sector. Those willing to do the pro bono work and the low paying work for low income clients deserve free tuition.
Well herpa derpa ding ding ding FREE, I think we just solved the problem.  That doesn't exist, of course, because all lawyers make bank over their lifetimes, but we solved the problem nonetheless!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Crazy Campos Continues Curmudgeonry

Just when we sane readers of upstanding, industry- and hierarchy-friendly news think it's safe to open our browsers, Professor Paul Campos, a/k/a "Crazy Campos" ("CC"), is back, his ongoing efforts surely an exercise in training for Monty Python's Twit Olympics, or maybe it's all a gigantic ruse put up by some clever, puckish law professor with multidisciplinary abilities and an impressive publication recordIn any event, one might need five "CCs" of something potent to make it through this dribble.

In any event, he's back at railing against InfiLaw and bar passage results, as if that's really a legitimate issue for law faculties who are saving the world one footnote at a time:
Bar-passage rates at the InfiLaw schools are now in a free fall.
The InfiLaw schools’ bar-passage numbers are almost certain to get even worse. Although the schools reduced their admissions standards drastically in 2012, they have since cut them further, to the point where they are now admitting huge numbers of students with credentials including lower LSAT scores and GPAs that would have barred them from getting into these schools three years ago.  The admissions process at the InfiLaw schools is now close to a fully open-enrollment system, that inevitably matriculates many people who have little chance of ever passing a bar exam.
CC has apparently never read about the million dollar premium.  Yet again, let's go over this.  People who get law degrees make shit-tons of money, okay?  Whether they pass the bar or not is irrelevant because they can always go out and get one of those super-duper JD Advantage jobs that pay $90k to anyone with a JD, a white shirt collection, and a comfy 9-5 time slot.  InfiLaw is doing these kids a massive favor by letting them into the elite club.  They get bonus points when they admit poor minorities.

Of course, CC just can't keep his wild opinions - not supported by the law review literature - to InfiLaw schools.  He has to take the piss out of pure non-profits, too:
The only difference between these schools and the InfiLaw group is that most of them waited a year or two longer before reducing their admissions standards in response to plummeting application numbers, and that therefore it will take another year or two before this is reflected in the national bar-exam results.
...That's, of course, only if Erica Moeser continues her conspiratorial rampage that victimizes hard-working students who should be greenlit through the bar process so that schools can boast about something that doesn't really matter since all their students are getting rich...or something.

There's some other stuff about regulatory capture and law schools being predatory and the endangerment of American taxpayers, but it's hard to ignore that CC and others like him believe in a world that's too conveniently rational

Sure, the pieces of the puzzle fit together, but who wants to live in a black-and-white world when one can simultaneously believe that law degrees statistically make graduates rich at the same time courts are pitching those graduates' lawsuits because the graduates were sophisticated consumers who fell for an obvious sham?  Who wants to live in a world where falling bar passage rates are the natural consequence of open enrollment when you can buy penny stock in a conspiracy theory and try to sell the idea that the 2015 class is comparable to the 2010 class despite a lack of empirical evidence supporting the idea?  More importantly, why believe in reality when it threatens the bottom line?

I'll tell you who, a damned crazy curmudgeon.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Play a Sad Violin for Villanova the Victim

The winner for best, finely-tuned tone of any news article I've read in the last week is clearly this piece by Chris Mondics of regarding the martyrdom of Villanova for the sin of telling the truth.
Honesty is the best policy, goes the childhood refrain.

But it can come with a price. Just ask Villanova University School of Law, which is finding that the truth still hurts years after it acknowledged a handful of administrators secretly manipulated admissions data of incoming first-year students.
Price isn't just an abstract metaphor here.  It's real, like cash money and shit.
And it has had to spend lavishly to stay in the ratings game...

Nearly 20 percent of Villanova law students now attend tuition-free, under a generous scholarship program that has been a big draw for top students [note: 75th percentile LSAT is a quite impressive 159]. It has blunted some of the effects of the scandal, but has cost the school millions of dollars.
[I]magine what the university might have done with the added resources had more top students been willing to attend based on Villanova's reputation alone.
Not only does the article orchestrate an entire string section's worth of sympathy for the defrauder, it manages to completely remove Villanova's post-2011 reality from the national law school marketplace, as well as claiming the prior fraudulently-earned gains are evidence of Villanova's post-hoc damage.

Imagine a world where top students enroll in Villanova based on the school's sterling reputation and pay sticker, indeed!  It would have happened, by gum, if only that sterling reputation hadn't been built in part on the dastardly fraud still damaging the school's prestigious reputation and costing it millions that it maybe never would have earned in the first place absent fraud.  Surely, in absence of fraud, the school still would have ranked as highly - maybe even higher! - and attracted top-caliber students wanting to pay full sticker price.  Reality is pretty fun when you can pick and choose what facts you want like it's a dreamland buffet.
Villanova, in short, did everything right. Yet it continues to pay a steep price in terms of reputation damage, even as other colleges that engaged in deceptive practices, notably by providing misleading post-graduation employment statistics, have paid no price at all.
While I wholly sympathize with victimized Villanova, Mondics loses me a bit here.  Law schools nationwide have been paying a steep price for their collective honesty, while chronic liars like MBA programs, computer programming schools, and large for-profit corporations are now profiting by their dishonesty.  There's plenty of violins, and all but the tip top law schools (where Villanova surely would be but-for fraud) deserve a somber, lonely song.

Play a sad song for Villanova, but forget ye not the Cooleys and Saint Thomases and John Marshalls. Being a law school in 2015 is like listening to the sobbing hymns at the funeral of an upstanding twenty-eight-year-old father of six who died while saving every last invalid from a burning nursing home. So much good snuffed out, so much cosmic cruelty, so much sadness and uncertainty.

The piece ends with thoughtfulness, and some sound words of advice:
But is [prior fraud] any reason to punish a school after the perpetrators have left? [uh, yes? -ed.]

Maybe it's time for law schools and prospective students to ignore the rankings and focus on the quality of the legal education day to day.
It's amazing. Trust me. I'm not only a certified law school propagandist. I'm also a lawyer.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Mitch Hamline: Clever Pickup Artist

Today, I ran across this article, where former Hamline dean George Latimer celebrates the merger of Mitchell and Hamline with relevant, touching lines such as this:
...[The dean] has stellar credentials: bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Columbia, and a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard (a law school I’ve always respected for being the only one to reject my application, many years ago).
Ignoring the total non-contradiction of praising a school like Mitchell Hamline in the same piece one gags on the gilded totem pole of prestige, I greatly appreciate the author disclosing his exact place in the admissions pecking order several decades ago.  It's one thing to be a tone-deaf douchebag pontificating to generational lessers about how "both Hamline and Mitchell have strong traditions of training students for a variety of careers." But when you can deftly add a human touch...well, that's the craft of the white collar mandarin marketing editorial at its pinnacle.

And Latimer certainly knows how to finish a piece as well:
He’s got the right experience and the perfect approach for the leader of a law school in today’s world, where not every law student is dreaming of joining the partner track at a big firm. As Mark is fond of saying, “There are two reasons to go to law school. Either because you want to be a lawyer or because you don’t want to be a lawyer. If you fit into one of those categories, you should come.”
The underlined isn't just a marketing slogan.

It's a philosophy.

Let's consider it as an ethos, and a well-trod pickup line, for our latest personified cavalier, a young Lothario named, well, Mitch Hamline....

Mitch Hamline walks into a meat market bar.

MITCH:  Yo, barkeep, get me a beer.
BARTENDER: Sure thing, Mitch.  What kind?
MITCH:  Coors Light.
BARTENDER:  Coors Light?  Are you shittin' me, Mitch?  No one drinks that shit anymore.
MITCH:  Oh, I don't want to drink it.
BARTENDER:  You what?
MITCH:  No, see...there's two reasons to order a Coors Light.  Either because you want to regret your choice in alcohol or because you don't want to regret your choice in alcohol.
BARTENDER:  Well, herpa derpa, you sure are smart, Mitch!  No wonder you're a law professor thingamabob!
MITCH:  Hey, mama, want to dance?
HOT CHICK:  I don't know.  I've heard some pretty shifty things about you, Mitch Hamline.  You only leave like 50% of your customers satisfied and you stick gals like me with $200k in nondischargable herpes, I mean debt.
MITCH: Fuck this.  Let me tell you what.  There's two reasons to go home with me.  Either because you want to fuck me or because you don't want to fuck me.
HOT CHICK:  Why would I go home with you if I didn't like you?
MITCH:  I'll say it again.  Listen.  It's really fucking clever.  There's two reasons to go home with me.  Either because you want to fuck me or because you don't want to fuck me.
HOT CHICK: I'm incredibly confused
MITCH:  Don't you get it?  You have a reason to go home with me either way!  And then I fuck you Mitch Hamline style!
HOT CHICK:  Uh, yeah, I'm going to go to business school or something...
MITCH:  Hey, girl, come here often?
MITCH:  So there's two reasons to be here tonight.  Either because you want to hook up with Mitch Hamline or you don't want to hook up with Mitch Hamline.
MITCH:  He's a first-tier lover who can make you rich and versatile with the Mitch Hamline Premium Effect.
MODERATELY ATTRACTIVE CHICK: I'm not fully grasping...
MITCH:  Look, there's two reasons to keep talking to Mitch Hamline with an LSAT score, I mean drink, in your hand.  Either you want to be date raped, or you don't want to be date raped.
MODERATELY ATTRACTIVE CHICK:  I don't get it.  What you're saying applies to literally everybody, including people who you have no interest in, and people who have no business going home with you for your legal premium effect, and people who literally cannot go home with you.  Also, technically it applies to the people you've already fucked over and swindled.
MITCH:  Fuck this, I'm finding a woman who's got a brain.
MITCH:  Hey, kid, what's your sign?
LUMP-COVERED GOAT:  Bah, I got a 136 on the LSAT.
MITCH:  Holy shit, I'm buyin' you a double!  There's two reasons why you should keep drinkin' the Kool Aid with ol' Mitch and saddle up for a juris-im-prudent adventure:  either you want to be a lawyer or you don't want to be a lawyer.
LUMP-COVERED GOAT:  BAHAHAHA!  That's funny, mister!  I...Uh....I want to be a lawyer!
MITCH:  Mitch Hamline scores again.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Touro! Touro! Touro! ...Bombed

If you'll recall, almost two years ago, I reported that Touro was bringing a class action on behalf of all ABA schools to judicially declare a legitimately sham law school a "diploma mill" because Touro got duped and let one student through the cracks and apparently wound up in litigation.

As I wrote at the time:
1.  Touro obviously has standing to bring a declaratory judgment action against another for making representations addressed to a third party that the third party made subsequently to Touro.
I had forgotten about this important issue entirely until a friendly commenter (you know who you are - thanks!) tipped me off last week that the court had issued an order dismissing the case.
Oh, cruel wheels of justice, with your gnashing spokes like axes against the soul!
You can view all of the moving papers and orders through this site here.  The order states that "Touro fails to sufficiently allege its standing, i.e. that it has a "legally protectible interest, that is in direct issue or jeopardy, in order to invoke the remedy of declaratory judgment.""

This, of course, is a grave injustice.  As Americans, we all have the right to file class actions against parties with whom we have no direct dealings to declare them whatever mean words we want.  For example, if I wanted to bring a class action on behalf of all accredited, legitimate law school supporters that Paul Campos is an "opium-smoking three-toed sloth," that's my right as an American.

Although Touro lost, one has to give credit to Touro and its general counsel, who fought the good fight and gave Touro's first-tier students a first-tier lesson in "fuck it" civil litigation.  For example:
  • Touro apparently brought a class action pro se, which normally wouldn't be viewed as advisable or proper (or allowed at all, at least in federal court, see Rule 23(g)), but let's call it innovation.
  •  In Touro's response to Novus' motion to dismiss, Touro pulls out one of the most essential tools in the civil litigator's kit: indignant bluster, accompanied with its cousin, barrage of conclusory adjectives (from page one alone of the memorandum: "defendant's nefarious operation...specious motion...well-founded opposing affidavits...smoke-and-mirrors legal argument....).
  • Touro also delivers a nice serving of language errors, almost certainly to give the brief that nearly flushing shitlaw feel.  For example, "slight-of-hand" is used (1), and the brief states that "Novus prays on the market and in turn its students pray on Touro and other law schools." (6)  The second mistake is particularly ingenious, as it puns on the idea of Touro being both infallible and a victim at the same time.
  • The brief spends two and a half pages discussing personal jurisdiction, which does not seem like it was even (or seriously) at issue.  Classic misdirection.
  • In addition to a barrage of case law, there's citations to a treatise and two law review articles.  Lord knows lawyers need to cite to those more often.  Lead by example, superheros.  Lead by example.
  • Finally, there's the clunky metaphor, another favorite of small law all-stars. "Novus has shot its sham degrees out from California, and those degrees have landed in New York...." (1).  "The legal education community finds itself faced with a consequential choice between two roads, which are long and different [but are they open?  -ed].  At least one of the roads is shrouded in legal uncertainty...And one road must be chosen....We are at a crossroads. The road should not end at the pleading stage...." (10).
Here's to hoping the appeal goes well...if there's one thing we all must do, it's stamp out law schools that trade in overpriced or worthless degrees that may only yield a $500k premium. 
The sanctity of the ABA-approved million dollar degree must be preserved.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Can't Tame the Buffalo

One truism of any potential legal education reform is that it absolutely must be handled by people who are currently profiting the most out of the system.  Just as The Law is an indecipherable labyrinth of fine-tuned, justice-dispensing complexity only comprehensible by seasoned masters, the law school graft is not a simple educational mill operation.

Consider Buffalo, NY, where state lawmakers are proposing to move UB's law school to a vacant downtown federal courthouse - that apparently the school could get for free.
"Lawyers need to be trained where the work is. And a law school being in the old federal courthouse will allow the kind of hands on training that we haven't ever Buffalo's Law School," Panepinto said at a Friday morning news briefing.
Currently the law school is a twenty-minute drive to downtown. Given that there may be no acquisition costs, this may seem - to a slackjawed, "practical training is good!" layperson - like a good approach to best serve students.

So is the school open to this possibility?  Oh, hell no.  It's time for the Buffalo to shoot the pioneer.
In a written response, UB said "The university has no plans to move the UB Law School from the North Campus. Isolating the UB Law School off-campus, away from UB’s other professional schools, is neither academically nor economically sound. It is not consistent with the interdisciplinary nature of legal education and research."
Oh, you think your publicly financed and subsidized-to-its-balls school should focus on actually training lawyers in the craft of law? Check your privilege, bro', and get on the Interdisciplinary Express. Future lawyers have to theoretically mingle with future dentists and future accountants, not with actual judges and lawyers.

This part of the subscam is all about turf control.  You can't give a centimeter to these haughty reformers, or they'll soon think they can actually do something when your students aren't getting jobs or passing the bar.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Rosy Future for Law School Admissions!

Finally, some news that gives me faith in the future of the law and legal education!
The Kaplan Test Prep’s 2015 survey of admissions officers at 120 law schools across the United States found that nearly nine in 10 (88 percent) of law school admissions officers predict that they are going to see an increase in applications, and they are confident that their law schools will see a spike for the 2015-2016 application cycle...
Jeff Thomas, director of pre-law programs for Kaplan Test Prep said: “Something feels different about this application cycle to law school admissions officers, and those sentiments are backed up by some key data points regarding the number of LSAT takers.
Hurrah to the Huzzah!

It's sort of like when you're a hip, single guy cruisin' the scene and you keep gettin' shut down - for five years in a row - because word got out that your "95k salary" is actually 45k and most of the women you've dated somehow wind up with incurable career herpes.  Even after several years of striking out, one night, you walk into that bar and suddenly "something feels different." You're going to score.  Maybe the gals have accepted that they simply can't do any better than a woman-using reprobate who leaves his victims with nondischargable debts. Maybe so many people now have career herpes that no one cares anymore. Maybe the scene has changed enough the half-truths are working again.

Who cares? They're interested, and the Bar just restocked the dispensers in the bathroom. You're white collar; fortune was going to turn around at some point.  Every gambler is due a hot streak, and it's time for Mr. Legal Education to come roaring back.  We don't yet have the empirical proof that law school is, in fact, roaring back, or that the right people are going to apply and take the offers, but damn it, what the law needs is more conclusions determined by gut instinct and wishful thinking.

Nine in ten law school administrators can't be wrong, can they?