Saturday, January 28, 2017

SoFi Shows Robust Market for Lawyers

There's a natural leeriness with private student loan companies, just as there is with any private loan consolidation scheme that spams the mailboxes of people expecting a steady stream of massive settlement checks, five-figure retainers, and paid bills with happy client gratuities.

SoFi is totally legit.  The LSTC has not done business with it, but its good purpose and honesty is clear from its valuable and helpful research into salary-debt ratios.
Elite institutions are generally worth the outlay, but, according to a newly released study, a few less nationally known schools also make the cut.

The University of Texas at Austin, the University of Houston and the University of Georgia were among the 10 schools offering the best salary-to-debt ratios, according to the study by SoFi, which stands for Social Finance Inc., an online student loan refinance company. They are grouped with Harvard, Yale and Stanford among the top schools that offered their graduates good value for the substantial debt they incurred while law students.
See?  You don't have to be at the tippy top to put your graduates on the fast-track to success, you only have to close to it!  Thanks, SoFi!

Of course, composing such a list requires high math.  As a result, a quick lesson in multi-dimensional, base-10 integer fractions is in order.  Salary-to-debt ratios require both a numerator and a denominator.  These are fancy Latin terms that mean "top" and "bottom," drawing a nifty parallel between fractional math and butt sex. 

Anyway, our numerator is first year salary and our denominator is long-term debt.  And how did SoFi determine "average" salary and debt at law schools?
SoFi rated the schools after examining salary and debt records of more than 60,000 people who applied to refinance their student loans with the San Francisco company between 2014 and 2016.
If anything, SoFi is being too harsh on law schools here.  Who applies for refinancing?  Obviously, it's people who need lower monthly payments.  The graduates who have the best salary-to-debt ratios would have no need for such things.

And we know this must be the case when we look at the salary numerators used by SoFi:

Worst law schools by lowest return on education 
We know these numbers are artificially low for averages.  Almost certainly, graduates of - say - TJLS are making more than $101,173 on average with debt loads of far less than $169,951.  But since SoFi is using a pool of lawyers going to loan sharks, most probably those few with substance abuse or gambling issues, the numbers get skewed and TJLS only has a 0.6x ratio.  In reality, it's probably more like 1.5.

While it's concerning that SoFi would present certain schools with a thumbs down logo, the salary numbers provided by those desperate for financial help show a robust lawyer market and that these people talking about gluts and overlawyering are ignoring that the Million Dollar Express is chugging down the tracks as fast as ever.

Thanks, SoFi!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Bringing Law School Jobs Back to Charlotte

The internet articles write themselves, filling the gaps like a LegalZoom form filing, the headline usually looking something like:

[Metro Area] Might Lose [Failed Business]? [Metro Area] Needs a New One!

This sort of economic atavism is, economically speaking, stupid.  Just as jobs in defunct industries just don't wang dang reappear like global commerce is a fucking magic trick, it's ridiculous to try and reinvigorate businesses where they obviously fail and rational economic actors have chosen to move elsewhere, purchase elsewhere, etc.  The Free Market is the Free Market, and if we're moving to government intervention forcing industries and jobs to exist against the order of the Free Market, we could do a heck of a lot better than...

WAIT!  What the fuck am I smoking?  I'm in Trump's America now, and that means we're bringing old jobs back. While most of the hubbub so far has been about metalworkers and light industry in the rust belt, I challenge the reader to ask why not law schools?

Indeed, why not bring lost law school jobs back before they've even left?

Charlotte's got the right idea.
Our city needs to have a law school. And with Charlotte School of Law on the ropes, it’s time to get going on starting a new one.
It’s a shame that the many Charlotte School of Law alums now working in the city’s legal community have had their degrees tarnished. But it’s important that future students like those can still attain their educational goals here in town.
Article pitches UNC-Charlotte law with an intriguing but less satisfying backup suggestion of relocating Wake Forest to Charlotte.

The article does not seem to be a parody.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Well, Charlotte Law, the doctor's leather shoes are walking back to the examination room and the news isn't good.  You've got the law school equivalent of a perplexing malignancy, so many tumors in so many bad places - bile duct, brain stem, blood, stomach, you name it - they're not even sure how to label your particularly malady and they're not sure it's worth the effort because you should have died months ago, ya fucked-up harlot.


Federal loan funding vanished.

Faculty layoffs, up to two thirds.

The executive branch is... not primed for a bailout.

It's a lot to be pessimistic about, as the school is basically on life support pending how many of its students can sell enough drugs and/or plasma and/or false promises to relatives to make a few tuition payments. In such times, cynicism becomes an alluring philosophy, to scowl at the world and fortune and God, to ask "why me?!" and keep telling yourself that you just wanted to do good things.
“We all know in our hearts that Charlotte School of Law could have been a good school and done a lot of good.

“Then for all of it to come crashing down, and in a way that met our worst fears. … The levels of frustration have just become overwhelming. We were all trying to do something good, and it just went bad.” 
Tragic, when all a group of people want to do is make an unreasonably high income making easy profits doing lax work for a shady corporation that harvests government-backed funds from sub-marginal professional school candidates with relatively low chances of career success, and they just get curb-stomped by  a cruel, cold system wearing the stormtrooper boots of pseudo-fascism.

So let's look on the bright side!

On the bright side:
  • the school has a chance at survival, these fires of adversity forging and hardening its steely resolve
  • the students who remain at the school will get first-hand experience in what it's like to work in a fledgling law firm that could shutter its doors at any moment, valuable experience for many of them
  • It's never been a better time for UNC-Charlotte, Winthrop, Davidson, Gardner-Webb, Catawba, or Queens to explore adding a law school
  • the school is now an experimental hotbed for alternative methods of financing personal investment products that show, typically, on average, routinely, etc., a million dollar lifetime premium
  • students are still earning JDs there, meaning one of them might grow up to be the next Kellyanne Conway!  #LifeGoals
  • while professorial turnover is high, the worst case scenario is that the Charlotte metropolitan area will be blessed with a dump-load of experienced practitioners ready to step into partner-level positions providing their expertise to the region's well-known banking and tech corporations
  • there's still any number of fun wealth-transfer schemes for the moneyed and credentialed to deploy and exploit socioeconomic advantage; get creative!
That's a lot of positives that shine through despite the dark clouds of oppression.  So keep scammin', but just in case no one rescues Charlotte Law from the cross on its own American Golgotha, there's plenty of bright side for all involved.  That's the power of law. 

Whether you slowly wilt from thirst and starvation or a merciful creature slits your throat, look skyward, Charlotte, and whistle in a major key.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Department of Education is in Good Hands

It is likely (barely) within the comprehension of the readership that the federal student loan programs come within the ambit of the Department of Education.  We need not delve into the particulars; we can safely leave such matters to Education Law(c) specialists with LLMs from any number of fine institutions.

But earlier this week, Trump's nomination for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, came, saw, and conquered her confirmation hearings.
A billionaire investor, education philanthropist and Michigan Republican activist, Ms. DeVos acknowledged that she has no personal experience with student loans — the federal government is the largest provider — and said she would have to “review” the department’s policies that try to prevent fraud by for-profit colleges.
But if she was sometimes rattled on the specifics, Ms. DeVos was unshakable in her belief that education authority should devolve away from the federal government and toward state and local authorities. Whether the issue was allowing guns in schools, how to investigate sexual assault on college campuses, or how to measure learning, her answer was always that states and what she called “locales” knew best.
The LSTC has little interest in becoming a political blog.  Scam is universal; anyone can do it with a bit of know-how, some pluck, and landing the right spot on the Conveyor Belt of Career Fortune in one's mid- to late-20s.  Super-liberal professors and arch-conservative businessman can team together in a beautiful fusion of misplaced idealism and wink-nod capitalism.

But Betsy DeVos is pretty bitchin', am I right?  She's got billions of dollars and yet - like many law professors - she has chosen to sacrifice and serve the public by selflessly taking the highest position in the American education superstructure.

Free of any need to advance her career, she has no need to play academic games and pretend she understands the nuanced arguments made by losers of various stripes who have devoted their careers to education policy. We should respect someone so far up her own ass that she stands firm on absolute principles like "local government" without even understanding the bigger picture or having reviewed various key government policies prior to testifying in front of Congress.

For years, the federal government has been a thorn in the side of profitable, necessary law schools, even recently taking away the funding of over 10% of for-profit law schools.

But DeVos understands that education shouldn't be left to "policy folks" who have "standards" and want to prevent "fraud" and "abuse."  Education is best left to "localities."

In the context of law schools, that means the following:
  • The ABA and its member institutions are left to regulate their own industry with their own "local" expertise, flimsy distinction between profit and non-profit aside;
  • Federal loan money keeps flowing unabated - I mean, you just can't take that away;
  • American public schools will become so abysmal that even more post-secondary institutions - including law schools - will be necessary to correct earlier deficits in the educational system.
Inauguration isn't until later today, but this administration is already shaping up to be the best in the last five years or so by a wide, wide margin. 

I'll have a mint julep in hand and a smile on my face.  Scam on. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Move to Tacoma. Get Rich.

It's not often that we get a law school feasibility study, much less one that is honest and not stacked against job- and wealth-creation.  But they did one in Tacoma.  And let me tell you, the results were fantastic.
Bruce Kendall, president and CEO of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County and an advocate of adding a UWT law school, said the study found that the South Sound region could provide jobs for 69 new attorneys a year.

Unfortunately, the people of Washington have postponed new law school construction to fill this justice gap and give opportunity to Washington's minorities, females and oppressed "others" who need the power of a JD.

But in their short-sighted "maybe we'll fix this serious societal problem tomorrow" attitude, the plutocrats in Washington state have created opportunity.

If Tacoma is ripe for 69 new lawyers each year, it seems to me that new lawyers in other parts of the country would be wise to add Tacoma to the list of places (Alaska, Nebraska)  where lawyer opportunities are super-excellent instead of merely excellent.  Whereas the new JD in Oklahoma City may only have a million dollar premium, these new Washington lawyers likely have significantly higher premiums. Million-five?  Two million?  Three million? A million plus lottery-ca-ching punitive damages?

Remember, too, that this study is an economic estimate. More often than not, they hedge conservatively.  I have no evidence for this, but do you have any counter-proof?  No?  Then I win.  Preponderance of the evidence, dear reader.  It could be that the Tacoma market is actually capable of supporting 75, 100, 200, 1000 new lawyers every year.  We'll never know until we find out.  Personally, I suspect Tacoma is just like New York, Boston, Washington DC, and Chicago: elastically capable of supporting far, far more lawyers than any small-minded, proscriptive writer would think.

So I say build a law school in Tacoma.  But until then, let's flood it with transfers injected with that Horace Greeley spirit, to go west and prosper, show the anarchic natives the way of the Law, and profit profit profit.  The Million Dollar Express is transcontinental, and cuts through the Rockies - nay, any obstacle - without issue or extra expense.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Charleston and Florida Coastal Grads Showered with Golden Salaries

Some fine citizen has directed me to the Department of Education's list of schools that failed the so-called (more like fraudulently called) "gainful employment" rule in the multitude of comments on the last post.

Both Florida Coastal and Charleston School of Law make the list, but it is clear that the compiler is clinically insane, given that programs from Harvard and Johns Hopkins also made the list.

Most importantly, however, is that Florida Coastal and Charleston graduates have the highest median earnings among the hundreds of programs on the list.

In fact, both CSOL and Florida Coastal report salaries around the median incomes for residents of Florida and South Carolina.  And they dominate over these "scam" programs in cosmetology and barber-ology.  Both resulted in almost 20% greater earnings than the next closest program.

Clearly, those running this kangaroo evaluation have unfairly swept institutions that result in a good income and a fair lifestyle (second-shelf booze and lot lizard is still models 'n' bottles!) with scurrilous schools that result in a negative earnings premium.

So to the Department of Education, who already has thrown down the gauntlet at Charlotte Law, is having a go at Coastal and Charleston.  Next month, they'll find a way to bitch-slap Summit or Cooley, and then it's only a matter of time before Cal-Berkley and Georgetown and sweating an accreditation probation hearing. Slippery slopes are real, people.

Piss on the Department of Education - like someone should literally pay a bunch of hookers in a second-world country to spite-pee all over it.  Because, dear readers, if you stop the figurative golden shower of the law school earnings premium, you should get the golden shower of, well, a real figurative golden shower.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Charlotte's Web of Truth Continues

The show is going on in Charlotte:
Charlotte School of Law – battling lawsuits from students, a federal cutoff of student loans and financial problems – told students Friday night that it would reopen for the spring semester.
Students were told earlier that administrators had determined that at least 500 students – about two-thirds of its current enrollment – would need to commit to taking classes this spring for the school to reopen.
CSL told students at mid-week that it was trying to make arrangements with Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville – a sister institution in the three-school InfiLaw chain – for students to complete their studies and receive an ABA-accredited degree.
As I've written previously, law schools are supposed to exemplify the highest virtues of Law and Lawyering for the benefit of their student bodies.

Charlotte is doing just that here.

Resilience against unjust oppression, a bent for the quixotic and meaningless, a struggle to continue a good confidence game at all costs...

It's heartening to know that despite the federal government's irrational decision to imperil the supply of legal services in America's 22nd largest metropolitan area and inhibit the ability of minority students to practice law, the private sector will continue on for at least another few months.

If and when they tragically succumb to the brutal and unfair onslaught of a totally unsustainable business model, I hope Florida Coastal is willing to pick up the flag and keep running.  And by pick up the flag, I mean suddenly open "North Carolina Coastal" and keep the printing presses turning.

(While I'm at it, shouldn't every state have a Coastal?)

Because it's not enough to squeeze every drop of blood from a corpse.  The corpse must be re-purposed as an avatar of service for the great mission. The show must go on.

It's sort of like the touching children's novel Charlotte's Web.  In that memorable work, Charlotte, a crafty spider, helps a down-on-his-luck farmer after the federal government withdraws pork subsidies by spinning webs with alluring messages to piglets on neighboring farms.  Then, the piglets flock to the farm, where they are slaughtered and turned into delicious pork products like the kind you buy at your local store!  The farm is saved, but alas spiders do not live forever, so Charlotte's children take up the trade, and her children's children, and so on.  An endless succession of helpful capitalist spiders leading pigs to profits.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Letter Joining in Opposition of Jefferson Sessions as Attorney General

In case you missed it, well over 1000 law professors from 48/49 states (fuck you for still not having a law school, Alasska) - including Dean Chemerinsky, Prof. Leiter, and Prof. Leong - have signed a joint letter to Congress opposing the confirmation of Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions as the next Attorney General of the United  States  on the grounds that he isn't fit to  serve as chief justice evangelist.

Here, the LSTC joins them.

Dear Congressperson:

The Law School Truth Center is an unincorporated non-non-profit dedicated to preserving the Rule of Law in the United States of America by flooding the streets with so many lawyers and so much legal scholarship that injustice figuratively drowns in the resulting mass of bodies and paperwork and discarded models and bottles and from Ivory Tower high-rises.

The Center is very, very concerned about the potential appointment of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.  Sure, Sessions is the 2017 equivalent of Albert Speer in Strom Thurmond dress.  But more importantly, Sessions seems opposed to the sort of reckless federal government spending/expansion and student loan reform that would ideally lend itself  to expanding justice by getting every single American a law degree.

Of course, there are pros.  A Sessions-led DOJs portends more criminal prosecutions in select areas ripe for expanded prosecutor's offices and more criminal defense retainers.  Immigration law looks to be on the rise.  And forfeiture cases!  A whole new niche for aspiring law graduates wanting to defend confused Airbnb lessors and parents whose teenage son's friends' cousin's girlfriend got busted with a baggie in that brand new Lincoln.

But overall, we need to trust the Ivory Tower on this one.  A thousand law professors, by definition, cannot be wrong. They are the Earthly vanguard of Law, one of the essential forces holding the universe together.  Running the factories of justice with efficient, sacrificial aplomb, they are oracles, maintainers of equilibrium between have and have-not, white and black, rich and poor. criminal and victim, peace and war, civilization and barbaric anarchy. Their vote should be worth more than yours.

We might say that this letter is yet another pointless, attention-grabbing attempt by Infiniti-driving liberals to halt the results of an election they were too stupid to win despite obvious intellectual superiority.  We might question why hundreds of trained lawyers failed to come up with better evidence than dredging up thirty year old anecdotes, citing political positions that are irrelevant to his new position, and overstating the role of the individual Attorney General.  We might pause and ask why law professors believe they "work every day to better understand the law and teach it to [their] students" as opposed to "teaching students how to practice law."

No bother.  After years of careful contemplation and applying law to fact, your wits are no match. If these uebermenschen Pharasies have determined that cons outweigh pros, it's high time to reevaluate your position and vote no on Jeff Sessions.

Of course, if you still favor the Confederate Commu-Nazi, there's a perfectly good way to combat such left-wing piffle: 

More. Conservative. Law. Schools.

I don't know if you saw the school affiliations for these mandarins, but most hail from the sort of super-liberal hippie campuses that have ruined American education by making it all multicultural, progressive, and philosophical as opposing to, say, the University of Georgia circa 1965.  But there are lights among the darkness, friends, schools like Liberty University and Ave Maria College of Law.

If you dislike the immediate checkmate feeling when a thousand brilliant academics stomp and pout in unison, create a counter-movement.  Find - or create - a thousand brilliant academics who support the war on drugs, trickle-down economics, and that particular reading of the New Testament.

Of course, given the current hostile climate, it's difficult to build schools with such singular focus.  While normally the federal government should be limited and Medicare/Medicaid should just be stopped cold turkey, as we all know, it's perfectly appropriate to use federal spending for pet pork projects.

Let's build ten new law schools in the next four years with an ambitious proposal I like to call the Restore American Justice Act.  Commission a study for the ten places most in need of a law school that can provide ideological diversity.  I suggest starting in Washington D.C., a metropolitan area sorely in need of more lawyers.

Put Ted Cruz on it.  Build 'em.  Watch 'em glow.  Enjoy the spoils of even more balanced justice and even more letters to the editor guiding the American people on best for The Law.



P.S.:  Also, since we all know pot will soon be legal at the federal level - particularly if Sessions ramps up prosecution - how about our old pal cocaine?  Any way we can tie that one in on a rider with some Congressional hackery?  I'm asking for a friend...