Friday, May 31, 2019

The Maine Course

If you're like me, sometimes you eat such rich lunches in this adventurous practice of law - because even if you have to settle for the meatpile-of-the-month at Arby's, the deft spice of social justice makes everything taste like The  French Laundry - that you don't wish to waddle your ass to the dining car in the evening.  Instead, on such nights, it becomes common to drink until The Express enters that long tunnel of hopefully dreamless sleep from which it emerges hours later into morning sunlight, the smell of franchise coffee, and a bushy tailed lawyer ready to law.

Tonight is one of those nights, the third this week in fact.  In that spirit, he's a shot and chaser - pick whichever you want to be one or the other, nothing matters any longer.  We're focusing on Maine tonight, so let's call this cocktail a, uh, Bloody Maine-y?

1.   Rural Area Lawyer Shortage Alert!

The Bangor Daily [phrasing?] News reports a dire situation for prospective exploitative legal billing in the partly inhabited part of Maine.
There are 30 lawyers per 10,000 residents in the Pine Tree State, compared with the national average of 40 lawyers per 10,000 residents, according to the Maine School of Law. Those numbers are sharply skewed to the southern part of the state, with more than half of all Maine lawyers living or practicing in Cumberland County.

That situation is expected to worsen over the next decade because of the average age of attorneys in Maine. As of 2017, about 1,000 of the 3,700 practicing lawyers in Maine were 60 or older. In rural parts of the state, 65 percent of lawyers are older than 50.
If this isn't reversed immediately, and technology forgets its efforts to make the law efficient, and there's an unexpected increase in legal work, Maine faces a dire lawyer shortage about 20 years from now. 

There's only one solution for this problem: the U. of Maine needs to pump out many more lawyers, particularly minorities who can bring diversity to upstate Maine AND do ace legal work.


2.  The U. of Maine is in the Red

Law school isn't expensive for students.  It's expensive for schools. 
From 2011 to 2018, the number of applications in Maine dropped from 988 to 574 – a 40 percent decrease. To stay competitive, the law school has increased the amount of money it spends on grants and scholarships.

In 2011, the school reported only a third of the student body got assistance on tuition, and that money almost always covered less than half of tuition. In 2018, two-thirds of students received financial aid from the school, and a quarter of them got half to full tuition. Tuition for this year is $22,290 for Maine residents and $33,360 for non-residents.

As a result, the law school has been in the red for several years, despite cuts to other spending.
This business has a monopoly on legal education in the state and still can't turn a profit charging what some fasci-communists would say is "too much."

I think it's proof positive that it's not enough in tuition.  Maine obviously needs more lawyers and is even subsidizing their deployment to rural areas.  And still, Maine Law is broke.  The solution for businesses in this situation is obvious:  raise prices and threaten/beg the government for crony handouts.  Thanks to federal loan dollars being funneled to law school coffers through nominally high tuition rates, the solution in this case is straightforward:  drastically increase the price.

After all, since there's really a demand for more lawyers in rural Maine, the financial rewards should more than cover it.

And when that happens, my friends, it's like grade A maple syrup dripping on hot buttery pancakes.

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Brutal Bigotry of Reasonable Expectations

Sometimes in civic discourse, pseudo-intellects of a certain right-wing political persuasion will discuss "the soft bigotry of low expectations" to concern troll against... well pretty much any minority-based progressive policy initiative save, possibly, adequately funding things like schools, which is simply ludicrous in a free market society.

It raises the question of whether there exists any bigotry in having high expectations.  Well, in the context of law schools, the answer is obvious:  YES.  MUCH MUCH BIGOTRY.

Case in point:  recently, the ABA accreditation folks adopted a measure requiring 75% bar passage within two years.  It's a stupendously dim proposal using an arbitrary number; assume 90% of Cooley's graduates land A-level JD-Advantage jobs?  And of course it's racist.  The ABA House of Delegates advised rejection of the deal with its past president noting that such a change would "decimate the diversity in the legal profession."

Requiring would-be lawyers to pass the bar exam seems an intolerable act.  When it unnecessarily punishes law schools for having the audacity of giving minority 140 LSATs a chance to defend traffic tickets, it's bigoted as fuck.

The LSTC vows to fight any such measures.  This accreditation rule essentially creates a segregated car on the Million Dollar Express, forcing us to uncouple it if the occupants simply aren't fit to practice law.  I'm fairly certain Brown v. Board is on point here.

At least some people still get it.  Shreveport, Louisiana, is one step closer to solving its understudied lawyer shortage.
"If you look at points south between Baton Rouge and Shreveport and west between Dallas and Shreveport and north between Little Rock and Shreveport and east between Jackson and Shreveport we have one of the largest geographic regions in the country without a law school," Glover said.
God damn that's good stuff.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Proposed LSAT Adversity Score Adjustments

What ho, good reader!  The year says it's 2019 and in our long progression of tea-bagging the thin line between parody and reality, the SAT now intends to algo-rythymo up an Adversity Score.  This ensures that the long tradition of wealthy white people rigging overly-complex systems to their advantage will continue unabated while middle class folks who bought homes near nice schools and, generally, second and third generation Asians who play it straight will continue to get rammed.

 It seems only fitting that the LSAT should adopt an Adversity Score to capture those sorts of students who might excel in law school but just not be good at logical reasoning.  I would like to propose we give a questionnaire to determine whether prospective law students should be given Adversity Points - and I suspect that most should, because let's face it: everyone's life has been difficult or else they're exactly the type of people law schools really really want.

 As starters, I'll suggest the following:

QUESTION 1:  Which of the following best describes your skin tone?
A:   Cocoa   [+10]
B:   Caramel  [+5]
C:   Cotton Candy  [+2]
D.   I am now hungry  [-20; diabetes is not a form of diversity!]

QUESTION 2:  Which of the following was closest to your house growing up.
A.   KFC  [+8]
B.   Chik-fil-A  [+4]
C.   An O.G. Asian restaurant with no English menu serving the best chicken dish you've ever had  (+5, International Law!)
D.   A home where a personal, dedicated chef wouldn't dream of subjecting his "clients" to fried chicken [+25]

QUESTION 3:  Describe the pool in your backyard growing up.
A.  My homie's blood after the police done him raw.  [Automatic T2 Admission]
B.  Urine b/c the plumbing never worked  [+7]
C.  A li'l crick that ran the length o' the holler up to the bend [+3]
D.  One of those metallic above-ground things [...just...rejected]
E.  An in-ground pool, you know, typical McMansion stuff.  My step-mom sat beside it all the time and pretended to read trade fiction.  [-10]
F.  Have you seen Hearst Castle?  [Automatic T1 Admission]

QUESTION 4:  Have you ever had to work for a living?
A.  Yes, doesn't everyone?  [+10]
B.  God no  [+10]

QUESTION 5:  Are you good at trigonometry?
A.  Yes  [+5; need STEM!]
B.  No, I was more into reading and writing and history  [+10; obviously disadvantaged]
C.  What's this trigonometry?  Like a gun thing?  [+5 and Automatic T4 Admission]
D.  That's a bit off on a tangent, wouldn't you co-sine?  [GOODBYE FAKER]

QUESTION 6:  Have you ever brought a woman to orgasm?
A.  Yes  [+5]
B.  Well, myself, I guess  [+10]
C.  No...  [0]
D. I paid attention to that [-10]
E.  The female orgasm is a physiological myth propagated by Zionist femininazi pigs [-50; but do you have a trust fund?]

QUESTION 7: Do you plan on taking out student loans?
A.  Yes  [+10]
B.  No, I believe in thrift and have saved for law school  [0]
C.  No, I have a trust fund  [+10]

QUESTION 8:  Do you believe that the Constitution is a living, breathing document?
A.  Yes [+10]
B.  O, Listen!  I can barely hear its desperate, short breaths and the slow, methodical thump of its redoubtable heart over the deafening cacophonous march of totalitarianism, of censorship, of fascism, of retrogression!  Its blood ink has faded with age and its paper skin wizened but, the document persists, and as a wise codger, we would benefit mightily from hearing its feeble but strong voice bellowing the priceless wisdom of experience.  [+11]
C.  Citing Stephen Breyer on this point...  [+12]
D.  "It depends" [+13]

And so on.

With enough questions, everyone's individual diversity and adversity can be accurately accounted for, ensuring that law school admissions are fair, rationally based, and entirely the broken turnstile for the masses that they were always intended to be.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Statistics for Lawyers and, Also, Your Test is Still Racist

Ah, Aaron Taylor.  He pops up every now and then in the sorts of high-class periodicals I peruse.  For example, in this article, exploring the relationship between declining enrollments and greater diversity at less-endowed law schools, which contains this outstanding footnote:
Hoards of so-called “scamblogs,” on which the authors, often anonymous, offer searing critiques of legal education, have gained popularity over the last few years. These blogs have tapped into the larger climate of frustration, generating attention and, of course, page views. Some of these blogs have contributed useful insights to discussions of legal education; others have contributed little more than snark. See, e.g., Profiles in Deliberate Misinformation and Dishonesty: Aaron Nathaniel Taylor, “Law Professor” at St. Louis University,THIRD TIER REALITY (Oct. 12, 2011, 6:25 AM), erate-misinformation.html (providing a particularly snarky assessment of my views on legal education).
Feel the burn, you gnarly whoreson!  If that isn't like lemonade on a sunny Saturday afternoon...

His latest triumphantly castigates the LSAT and law school admissions folks for being racist. I feel like I've heard this record before, but it feels fresh every. single. time.  So academics, don't worry - you can repeat yourself and still get tenure. Look at how often the Beatles get played on the FM radio,or the teeming millions who read this blog. People want to hear good shit over and over again.

The actual article is about "marginalization," a word omitted by the Orwellian press cited above entirely.  The piece deep-dives into this concept of marginalization, not just Du Bois-for-idiots but getting out the dictionary Scalia-style:
The terms marginalization and its lexical cousin, marginality, are both derivatives  of  the  word marginal.Thus,  the  meanings  and  conceptions  of marginalization and marginality descend from how marginal is defined.  The Oxford dictionary defines marginal as “[r]elating to or situated at the edge or margin of something.” Therefore, marginal is a relative construct denoting deviation or distance from some notion of normality, center, or power.
Smooth as the related word margarine, and not at all filling space like a high school salutatorian speech.

The article's real gem, however, is brash acts of grammatical/statistical dissimulation worthy of an immediate letter e-mail to prospective students.  For example, this glorious page:
Note that the upper chart doesn't support his thesis in the least; though it uses averages, a black student with a 152 appears to have a greater chance at landing a merit scholarship than a white or Asian student with a 152.  Confronted with this hostile microaggression, Taylor ignores it and pulls a denominator switcheroo, rephrasing the issue as the chances of a random student from said race independent of LSAT score landing a scholarship - which is simply restating the LSAT disparity coupled with the idea that merit scholarships are yoked to LSAT scores.  This indispensable variable removed, the racism of the imaginary 148 LSAT black student not getting a scholarship compared to the imaginary 155 LSAT white peer becomes patently obvious.

Elsewhere, the piece lumps together people with 135 and 149 LSATs to make some claim that low-LSAT whites have a higher admission rate than low-LSAT black applicants without even looking at GPAs or other factors, and at other places it makes logical presumptions without appropriate citation or premises (e.g., "[a]pplicants  who  apply later in the cycle are often less likely to gain admission, due to fewer available seats  remaining  in  the  entering  class").

In statistics terms, it sucks, but in rhetorical terms, it's amazing, perfect not only for law school scholarship but also indicative of the sorta thing that would thrive on the Plaintiff's bar or in a BigLaw managing partners' meeting.

Being blatantly pro-LSAT, Inside Higher Ed, of course, gave the institutional test-makers a chance to defend their hot garbage exclusionary tool:
"The trends we have observed in applications from African American candidates that affect outcomes include the factors that Mr. Taylor identifies such as submitting applications late in the application cycle and LSAT scores that fall in lower bands. We see other factors as well such as [grades] and age at time of application."
"We believe that the overreliance that Aaron criticizes is driven by too much focus on U.S. News & World Report rankings and, in some cases, a failure on the part of schools to understand that even if they choose to focus on rankings, they have room to admit a wider range of LSAT scores."
Emphasis added.  What a snippy, spiteful bitch.  It wasn't enough to successfully rebuke the adequacy of Taylor's work in single paragraph; she just had to knock the entire industry's ability to understand how averages and medians work.

As a leader of the industry's preferred white-power testing mechanism, she should know that the willful mishandling of statistics to do whatever the fuck we want is de rigueur for this industry.  

Without statistical obfuscation, the Million Dollar Express just doesn't run.