Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Small Firms Struggling with Grads Not Passing Bar? Solution: More Lawyers!

Here's Part III of Law.com's series on bar exam failures.

The upshot of this piece, reading through my $750.00 slightly tinted glasses, is that we need to pump more lawyers into the system in order to make sure there are enough bar exam passers to work at small firms and absolve them of any fretting about their "investments" failing the bar.

Unlike your typical law school brochure I'm only sorta making this up (instead of telling you the straight dope, which the brochures always do):
Because of Big Law’s tendency to hire from elite law schools that have for the most part maintained steady bar-pass rates, those firms have largely escaped the impact of the growing percentage of exam failures over the past five years.

But the reality is different for smaller firms and public sector employers that hire from a wider pool of law schools and can little afford to hold jobs open for graduates who flunk the bar.

...[L]ower pass rates are creating hiring headaches for the smaller employers that can least afford additional recruiting challenges.
To get the gritty, man-on-the-street opinion for what life is like among the lesser-fortunate firms, the piece features voices from 120-lawyer firms and 50-lawyer firms, unquestionably victims of the malicious squeeze upon bar exam rates caused by uber-jealous assholes who simply don't wear the suit as well.

Look, Skippy, just because you have a master's degree in statistics and psychometrics doesn't mean you can deny little Riley or Jordan the opportunity to practice law just because [preferred third person subject case pronoun] doesn't know how about affirmative defenses or arcane procedural rules like "jurisdiction." 

Apparently, some firms are even scandalously now waiting until lawyers are actually licensed before hiring them.  How the hell are young lawyers supposed to organize their financial affairs if they don't have six-figure jobs waiting for them at graduation?

The solution, it seems, is obvious:  we need to pump so many lawyers through the system and make the bar exam as easy as possible so people don't have to deal with this whole, messy "is this person actually qualified?" thing.  It's just not fair to anyone to expect lawyers to jump over some arbitrarily placed "bar."

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Most Delicious Soup

Karen Sloan over at law.com has posted a rather intriguing, comprehensive examination of declining bar exam pass rates.  As a long-time proponent of big colorful graphs to assist leading superficial readers to obvious conclusions, I'm a fan.  As a bootlicker of the drug-induced American dream, I wish she would have focused a bit more on the 40-year marathon that ends in a full-body collapse at the finish line into a large pot of gold.

I particularly take issue with the tone, e.g.:
Law.com analyzed the bar pass rates reported by schools to the American Bar Association between 2013 and 2017—the 2018 results aren’t yet available—and found that 42 out of 203 ABA-accredited law schools saw their pass rate fall anywhere from 10 to 20 percent. Thirty-five schools had pass-rate declines of more than 20 percent in those four years.

While their circumstances vary somewhat, most of those schools with pass-rate declines larger than 20 percent have experienced significant drops in their enrollment and applicants, as well as difficulties in helping graduates find legal jobs—making for a toxic stew of challenges.
Emphasis added - a toxic stew?!  That's a terribly inartful way to describe the delectable treats served in the cafe of the Million Dollar Express.  I would prefer it described as a playful but mysterious little dish.

It strikes me as particularly interesting that Ms. Sloan would select a soupy metaphor to describe the regulatory-challenged law school environment.  Searching my archives of Excellence in Law School Propaganda, I recall now-Chancellor and President of Syracuse Kent Syverud - while cresting the post-recession roller coaster - using a soup-adjacent metaphor to explain how the applicant pool had actually improved back in 2011:
Kent Syverud, dean of the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, where applications this year declined more than 11%, said it was a good thing prospective students now were more “clear eyed” about the risks and rewards of a law degree.“The froth in the applicant pool—those who were just going to law school because they didn’t know what else to do and everyone told them it was a safe bet—is pretty well gone,” he said.
For those unfamiliar with fine meal preparation, when you make a soup or stock with almost any kind of meat, bones, or beans, a froth or "scum" develops on the soup's surface that contains less-desired broken-down proteins and substances, so traditional cooking methods suggest to skim the froth and dump it on your most obnoxious child.  The recession, in other words, removed the least pure, least tasty law applicants, and in no way removed seasoning and vegetables, and in absolutely no way is the pot a giant crock of shit.

Perhaps, then, it is improper to call the current offerings to some lower-tier law schools a "toxic stew," but rather we should say "a much improved stew."  For imagine how insulting the dish would be to holier-than-thou palettes were the froth left in all this time.  The froth would now be lawyers instead of, one supposes, running tech start-ups or community organizing.  So if the soup somehow isn't to your particular taste, just be thankful you're not living in that dreary alternate reality where the only comfort to the bitter, radioactive soup is the extra thousands of lawyers floating around meting out justice like pills at one of those concerts the youths attend long before they have to pass character and fitness.

I, of course, find this soup absolutely delicious, not at all like the broth served in the soup kitchens of my mythical youth, and no one would dare to serve it cold as far as I can see.  So slurp it up, buckos.  Slurp it up and feel no guilt in asking for thirds.