Sunday, September 4, 2011

Law school cost, educational quality, and Felix Frankfurter's street car

A few years ago I was at a Colorado Bar Association annual meeting at which the guest of honor was a certain SCOTUS justice known for his remarkably high opinion of himself.  While there, I was told that, when the luminary of the local bar who was taking the justice from the airport to the mountain resort where the meeting was held showed up in a new SUV to pick up his guest, the justice balked at the idea that his legal personage should be conveyed in this fashion, and insisted that a limousine be sent for the purpose.


In 1952 the Supreme Court decided a case involving a first amendment challenge to a street car company's policy of playing radio programs of music and advertising in its cars.  Felix Frankfurter recused himself from the case, on the grounds that "my feelings are so strongly engaged as a victim of the practice in controversy that I had better not participate in judicial judgment upon it." 

I was reminded of these two contrasting tales (of course I'm not certain the first story is true, but the essential thing is that it sounded eminently plausible) this week, when doing some research at the University of Michigan Law School, which I attended in the late 1980s.  As a student over the course of my three years there I paid between $8400 to $9600 per year, in 2011 dollars, in resident tuition.  In recent years, as tuition at Michigan has risen at an astonishing rate -- resident tuition and fees are just under $47,000 this year -- I have felt increasingly fortunate to have gone to the school at such a reasonable price.  A bit of historical research reveals that I actually was paying much higher tuition than students had even ten years earlier, when in-state tuition was barely $5000 per year (again in 2011 dollars). And those students were paying much higher tuition than students ten years before that, who had been paying $3000 per year in current dollars. 


Now consider the changes in American median household income, in inflation-adjusted terms, over this period. In 2010 median household income was approximately $49,800, i.e., Michigan's annual in-state tuition was nearly equal to the average American family's entire annual pretax income.  In 1985 median household income was $46,900, which meant that tuition at UM Law was about 17% of that.   In 1975 median household income was $48,637, i.e., slightly more than ten per cent of tuition. And in 1965 -- 46 years ago -- median household income in America was $47,764 in 2011 dollars, meaning that the entire annual in-state tuition of $3,356 inflation-adjusted dollars at the University of Michigan Law school could be paid with about three weeks worth of the average worker's salary. (By the way the real GDP of the American economy has more than tripled over this time, even though median household income has barely changed).


I thought about these figures as I walked around the law school's new addition -- a $102 million-dollar project that is being built across the street the law quad, a beautiful 75-year-old structure built in the style of an Oxbridge college.  This is just one of the major building projects going on at the law school, which is spending another $40 million on renovating the Lawyers Club -- the residence facility that houses about a fifth of the school's students.  (Charles Munger of Munger, Tolles and Olsen and Berkshire Hathaway is paying for half this project, with the other half coming in unspecified fractions from the central administration and the fees paid by students who live in the Club, which currently charges $1350 or so per month for rent and 13 meals per week).  Indeed whenever I go back to Ann Arbor I'm always struck by the extent to which the shabby genteel town I remember as an undergraduate has over the past 30 years been transformed gradually into another playpen for the rich.

Of course in a university town all these things are always done in the name of educational quality.  That is the justification that's always given for the ever-increasing cost of higher education (Over the past 20 years undergraduate tuition has increased by about 78% in real terms, while law school tuition has increased by more than 300%).  A couple of days ago, a graduate of the George Washington Law School class of 2011 -- this graduate says he finished in the top 10% of his class at a school which is currently ranked 20th by USNWR, yet he doesn't have a job -- sent me a link to its new dean's explanation for why law school tuition is so high, and why it's difficult for schools to address the problem individually. 


I'm not going to go over the dean's argument in detail, because pretty much everything he says has already been addressed on this blog. Instead I'd like to pose a simple question, which is really the only question that matters in the face of claims that by its nature a "top quality" legal education costs a lot.  Is the University of Michigan Law School providing a legal education that is six times better than that which it provided 25 years ago? Because that's how much resident tuition has gone up in real, inflation adjusted terms.  And before you get to that, we can put aside for the moment the whole question of taxpayer support for legal education by noting the quasi-private tuition paid by non-resident UM students has nearly tripled over the same time.  Indeed 25 years ago Harvard and Yale and Stanford charged tuition figures that would, in constant inflation-adjusted dollars, make them among the cheapest law schools in the nation today.  Apparently in the 1980s HYS grads -- let alone Michigan grads -- were getting a much worse legal education than what the average law student at a second or third-tier law school receives today (which is a shame given that these are the very people running today's law schools, not to mention the US government).

In other words, the "legal education is very expensive by nature" excuse is obviously bogus on its face. Now no one would deny that some of the things law schools are spending all this extra revenue on have a certain educational value.  The question, however, isn't whether more clinics and more small section classes and the like are educationally worthwhile. The question is whether the value they add comes anywhere close to justifying the added cost.  But beyond this, a great deal of the skyrocketing cost of contemporary legal education is a product of things that have little or nothing to do with educational quality.  Pharaonic buildings, fancy student amenities, gigantic administrative staffs, bloated salaries -- Michigan's dean is paid three times more in real terms than his predecessor was 30 years ago, while the faculty's average salary has doubled -- what do any of these things really have to do with the basic quality of education students receive?  


All of this is part and parcel of the transformation of higher education into a consumer-driven status game, in which the buyers are insulated from the consequences of the absurd prices they pay for the services they're buying until it's too late for them to recognize that they're seriously overpaying for what they're getting.  Of course if you're rich enough, then the idea of overpaying for a status good is almost a contradiction in terms -- the whole point is that you are flaunting your ability to pay for something that costs a ridiculous amount of money.  In this sense, the USNWR rankings are merely reflecting social reality when they use expenditure per student as a straight line proxy for the quality of the education students are getting (A characteristic sign of the times: at Stanford, there is now apparently strenuous competition among the various student living facilities to acquire the best "chef" on campus).


This, at bottom, is what fuels the over the top spending of universities in general and law schools in particular.  And that brings me back to Felix Frankfurter riding the Washington DC street cars in the 1950s , when a few decades later one of his successors would be insulted by the failure to provide him with a private limousine to transport him to an event at which he was the honored guest.  Frankfurter -- who had one of the best academic records ever at HLS;  who was Henry Stimson's personal assistant at the age of 23; and who had a chair created for him on the Harvard Law faculty, before he went on to become one of the architects of the New Deal -- would never have been mistaken by anyone for a humble man.  But he lived in a country where it seemed natural to him that he should ride the street car to work, even if his job happened to be United States Supreme Court justice.  He did not, in other words, live in a plutocracy.  It's a small detail, but it's the kind of thing that in its own way helps explain how law schools -- and not just law schools -- have gotten into the mess they're in today.








60 comments:

  1. I knew I was living wrong when I saw Northwestern Dean Van Zandt's $4.7 million Lincoln Park home listing: http://www.trulia.com/homes/Illinois/Chicago/sold/1435288-441-W-Belden-Ave-Chicago-IL-60614. I believe some of the difference in cost between the 1980s and today might be justifiable -- IT costs come to mind since I went to law school with a Mac 512K and was grateful not to be using a typewriter -- but I have to think that quality of deans isn't among them.

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  2. IT costs are exponentially lower now than they were in the 1980s.

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  3. Looking back at law school (2004 Tier 2 grad), and seeing the ongoing explosion in tuition, I can say that I have no idea where all the money goes to, or why law school is so expensive. In law school, I say in comfy chairs at tables that had places to plug laptops in. The professors lectured / Socratically questionned the students. Some professors used A/V equipment. Most did not. I used the books in the library during 1L before I got access to Westlaw and Lexis / Nexis. Once I had Westlaw and Lexis/Nexis, I never touched the library's print collection again.

    For some reason, tuition has just about doubled from when I enrolled in 2001 to now. If I had to guess, the current students' experience is probably just like mine was. 1Ls still probably hear about Hadley v. Baxendale, Palsgraf and International Shoe. They still probably get exam questions with curious children peeking through fence holes being wounded by knives thrown by circus performers who were startled by uncooperative lions that charged into the seating area of the circus setting off stampedes that caused poorly assembled scaffolding to fall into the path of a gunpowder truck that swerves onto an adjacent highway causing an accident that caused some other situation that would make Rube Goldberg's head spin.

    In short, no. I can't imagine that my law school in the past 10 years has come up with some great new innovation that justifies a doubling of tuition.

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  4. I hope the first paragraph is not true. It raises, almost, character and fitness issues in my opinion. That person sounds like too much of an ass to be deciding matters that affect the lives of real, non-rich, SUV riding (if they're lucky enough to afford a nice late model SUV) people.

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  5. The growth in law school tuition, which comes at the expense of people who have no ability to pay it (other than through life crushing loans) demonstrates the greed of tier 2 professors and administrators. There is simply no excuse for such opportunism, especially when it's mixed with fraudulent career placement statistics designed to lure the victim.

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  6. "The growth in law school tuition, which comes at the expense of people who have no ability to pay it (other than through life crushing loans) demonstrates the greed of tier 2 professors and administrators. There is simply no excuse for such opportunism, especially when it's mixed with fraudulent career placement statistics designed to lure the victim."

    Jesus. I knew the economy was bad but a top 10% GW student not being able to find a job?

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  7. "Is the University of Michigan Law School providing a legal education that is six times better than that which it provided 25 years ago? Because that's how much resident tuition has gone up in real, inflation adjusted terms. . . . In other words, the "legal education is very expensive by nature' excuse is obviously bogus on its face."

    Exactly. Well said. It has nothing to do with need or value. It has to do with law professors and administrators acting like pigs at the trough. What's frightening though is the intellectual dishonesty of claiming there is a real need for these tuition increases, combined with the intellectual dishonesty of career placement statistic fraud. Law school just reek of immorality, corruption and lies, and these are the places training our future lawyers?

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  8. "All of this is part and parcel of the transformation of higher education into a consumer-driven status game, in which the buyers are insulated from the consequences of the absurd prices they pay for the services they're buying until it's too late for them to recognize that they're seriously overpaying for what they're getting. "

    Great writing!!!!!

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  9. This was another fantastic post, not just about law school but about our money obsessed society in general. Coincidentally, just this week I was talking with a simple living history professor colleague of mine. He was making the exact same point by describing how in his day brand name clothing was shameful, but now it is a sign of status. He knows nothing about the law school scam but he would love this post.

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  10. I hope that you all are enjoying your Labor Day Weekend.

    However, according to the financial blog 24/7 Wall Street, guess which profession didn't earn a 3-day weekend? If you said law professors, then you are right! Law professor is #2 for the job that pays the most with most time off.

    "Between these sabbaticals and the summer vacation, most professors work nearly 400 hours less than the average U.S. employee. Money Magazine and Salary.com rated college professors at No.2 in their 2006 Best Jobs in America annual report."

    http://247wallst.com/2011/09/01/the-highest-paying-jobs-with-the-most-time-off/3/

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  11. Tuition at Ohio State seems to have more than doubled since I was a student from 2002 to 2005. As an in-state student, I paid around 9 or 10 thousand a year with another 9 or 10 thousand a year in living expenses. Total debt after 3 years was 60K. I racked up some credit card debt too, so it was more like 70K.

    Now their website says the 2011 class will pay 26K per year in tuition alone and they've calculated the total cost of attendance for an in-state student to be 48K per year. If that's true, it means in-state students are now graduating with 144K in debt. Compare to my 70K. And its only been 6 years since I graduated.

    That's really insane.

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  12. Ultimately, the out-of-whack nature of law professor salaries comes from dumb college administrators working under apparently-infinite budgets. Law professors also throw out outright lies like "I could make far more in the private sector." Universities never seem to have caught on that most law professors wind up in academia because (1) they value the cushy job conditions and (2) they can't cut it in private practice, but have the pedigree that saves them from being insurance salesmen.

    The idea that a top-quality legal education costs 45k+ a year is more absurd than creationism, trickle-down economics, or [insert preferred conspiracy theory]. You have a large pool of qualified labor, cheap materials, relatively low overhead, etc. A basic 1L torts class could be taught by a BarBri tutor with a textbook from the 80s dealing with 75-100 students at once. Very, very few law classes require any kind of technology or special expenditure. It's one of the cheapest models of education imaginable, and the idea of it costing $1+ a credit hour is ridiculous.

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  13. That is insane 9:09.

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  14. 9:31, I assume you meant $1,500 per credit hour.

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  15. Paul Schiff Berman, Dean of George Washington University Law School:

    "...I don’t agree that taking on large amounts of debt is necessarily a big mistake. Indeed, I don’t think it is necessarily so horrible to carry student loan debt over 20 years or more... [a]s with a house, student loan debt is a long-term investment that has significant long-term monetary and non-monetary value, and we pay off those investments over a long time horizon."

    What an asshole.

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  16. In the past decade tuition at my school has increased by one third in present dollars, for this extra $10,000 we have the nicest classrooms in the whole university (with WiFi and outlets on every table) and a visually pleasing but totally pointless 200 seat "reading room" (which is never remotely full) attached to the newly renovated library (with more shelf space.) Like a commenter above I never used the library's printed collection after the first week of 1L. Can someone please tell me why school's spend money on facilities that no one except those on Law Review (and maybe that's a stretch) use?

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  17. 11:04 ... The size of the library, number of volumes, and number of seats are all taken into account by the USNWR ranking, so basically they are building these facilities, that no one actually uses, to either improve, or more likely, just to keep their place in the rankings. Most of the evil in regards to excesses currently going in higher education can be directly, to indirectly attributed to the rankings. Sad, but true...

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  18. Professor Campos, I really enjoy your writing style as many other readers of your blog do, but I have a quibble, and I can no longer hold back:

    Please use commas where they should take the place of "and/or"s. So, for example, instead of "Harvard and Stanford and Yale and Michigan," it would be "Harvard, Stanford, Yale and Michigan." I see the former pattern in every one of your otherwise incisive and fantastically written posts.

    Thanks for entertaining my petty concern but it was like an itch I just had to scratch.

    Yours truly,

    Uptight and bored.

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  19. ... he lived in a country where it seemed natural to him that he should ride the street car to work, even if his job happened to be United States Supreme Court justice. He did not, in other words, live in a plutocracy.

    Given the amount of direct and indirect government aid that law schools get, plus the job-statistics fraud they engage in, I think it would be more accurate to call the system a klepto/plutocracy.

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  20. Here's the thing - I come from the UK, where judges are famously out-of-touch and come mainly from an Oxbridge and private school-educated elite, and are certainly well-paid for their troubles. However, law school here is far cheaper in the UK than it is in the US. Here's my guess at why:

    - division of the profession in England & Wales into barristers (essentially equivalent to US trial lawyers) and solicitors (essentially people dealling with transactional issues and minor offences). This basically separates many of the higher-earners from the rest of the pack, giving people a more realistic appreciation of how much debt it is worth going into to qualify.

    - Under-graduate law degrees with legally limited tuition fees.

    - One-year post graduate conversion courses for non-law grads.

    - Training contracts (i.e., your future employer picks up all or part of your expenses in qualifying). Pressure from employers helps to keep the cost down.

    - Students without training contracts have to pay for their vocational training either through a bank-loan (i.e., not state funded) or from their (or their parent's) pocket.

    - BVC (Bar Vocational Course - i.e., the vocational training for those who wish to become barristers) entrance being limited to those with a 2:2 honours degree (i.e., an overall good pass in your undergraduate degree).

    - A puppilage/training contract requirement for those becoming barristers/solicitors - basically, you have to complete your training with a firm. If no-one gives you a contract during your vocational training (in the first or second year), you cannot go on and might as well quit.

    - Competition from non-solicitor/barrister legal executives and consultants.

    All this said, whilst costs are much lower in the England & Wales (roughly 10,000 - 15,000 pounds, or 16,000 - 24,000 USD annually) fees have risen by 10% per year in recent years. Roughly 10,000 would-be solicitors competed last year for 4,000 training contracts (i.e., only about 40% of people who want to be solicitors become so). Something like 1,300 people passed the BVC but only 5-600 received pupillages. All this shows that, whilst the costs are not as bad in England & Wales, the employment prospects of those graduating are worse than in the US.

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  21. FOARP, the job situation doesn't seem worst in the UK if about 50% of graduates are finding legal work.

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  22. 6:12 = The standard law professor (or law professor wanna be) troll trying to take the discussion off topic.

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  23. I agree 10:53. He reflects the shamelessness of law professors and administrators. There was a great song lyric about the mindset of the criminal:

    "They'll hit you and they'll beat you and they'll tell you it's fair."

    And you see this in legal academia. These people are simply criminals. Obscene greed, a psychopath's lack of empathy for the harm they do, statistical manipulations, their often abusive behavior in the classroom . . . it's awful.

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  24. FOARP, Actually, I heard tuition increases are coming to the UK. Weren't there riots about this? It's sad to see that the wise policy of limiting tuitions and making education about education (and not profit) fell by the wayside there too.

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  25. The egalitarian in me really wants to believe that a legal education and its subsequent JD should be available to all. That if the private sector can't or won't provide the necessary funding, then this market failure is precisely the time the government should step in and provide subsidized loan to anyone capable of gaining admission to an accredited law school.

    But the realist in me balks at the consequences of such a system.

    I can't help but think there'd be an overall increase in our net utility if something like 50-70% of current law school matriculants were told, "you don't have the chops to be a fantastic attorney, go be a paralegal or child services worker or run for office or do ANYTHING that doesn't require 3 years and six figures of debt." We ought to close or de-accredit the bottom 1/2 of law schools.

    As this blog so perfectly illustrates time and time again, the current system is a fraud. It needs to stop.

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  26. And as a coda to that point: anyone capable of passing the Bar exam and the Character and Fitness review should be able to practice law, regardless of how they learned the law.

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  27. Scalia or Kennedy?

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  28. @7.08 - Those were undergraduates you saw rioting last year. The riots last month were, after the first night's demonstrations against a police shooting, pure criminality. BVC/LPC students are paying out of their pockets and hence have no reasons to demonstrate against cuts in tuition since they are not reliant on the government.

    @7.01 - But it's actually more like 40% becoming solicitors/barristers, and perhaps another 10-30% ending up as legal executives, paralegals, consultants etc. The only real difference is the lower cost, which is due to law firms keeping the costs down, and a lack of credit.

    The Law Society (for solicitors) and Bar Council (for barristers) are considering either capping the cost of school, introducing a requirement that new entrants should have a 2:1 (i.e., a strong pass at undergraduate), capping the number of places, introducing a requirement that students have a training contract/pupillage before they start, and a number of other measures.

    I guess some other things worth noting:

    - The BVC/LPC are taken at vocational schools. BVC/LPC teachers are not required to have any pretensions to academia although they often do.

    - There has been a rash of new facility building concurrent with the rise in fees.

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  29. Scalia or Kennedy?

    Heh. My knee-jerk reaction was "God Thomas is such an asshole."

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  30. It couldn't have been Roberts because he drives a low end chrysler. Other than him, everyone else is a suspect.

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  31. I'm no conservative, but Thomas drives an RV and is said to disdain a lot of the pomp and ceremony of the Court. I doubt he would make such a fuss about an SUV.

    Scalia still wears that weird skull cap for the opening of the term.

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  32. And, yes, Kennedy is known to be rather imbued with self-regard, but I still lean towards Scalia.

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  33. BreezyWheeze said...
    And as a coda to that point: anyone capable of passing the Bar exam and the Character and Fitness review should be able to practice law, regardless of how they learned the law.

    This is still a very large cohort of people, much larger than those who fail to place in the top 10% of their law school. I passed the bar (and the almost breathtakingly non-comprehensive Character and Fitness review) and I still don't feel that I have any native talent for the practice of law. I just found the right bar review instructors to demonstrate for me just how little pedagogy goes into the legal profession.

    I propose something far more drastic: in addition to law schools closing, those that remain open should not admit anybody with an LSAT score below 170. If you struggle enough in the areas of logical reasoning and logic puzzles, you will a) never break past the 165 threshold anyways and b) will likely struggle through your entire first year.

    The only alternative is to change the very framework for how law is taught: no more Socratic method, less emphasis on appellate case law, and an increase in the number of exams/opportunities for self-evaluation over the course of the semester.

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  34. 8:22, Oh you're right I recall that. Ok so it's not Thomas or Roberts.

    My personal opinion is that it's one of the democratic justices. Perhaps they were even making a statement about gasoline use!

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  35. I propose something far more drastic: in addition to law schools closing, those that remain open should not admit anybody with an LSAT score below 170. If you struggle enough in the areas of logical reasoning and logic puzzles, you will a) never break past the 165 threshold anyways and b) will likely struggle through your entire first year.

    Ha! I'd be in favor of that. As an LSAT "expert" with over a decade of teaching/tutoring experience, a change like that would have them beating down my door, begging to cough up $250/hr for "elite" tutoring.

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  36. I have a question. How much of the change in our society between 1990 and now is due to the fact that, once Communism fell, we didn't have an enemy to shame us into decency?

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  37. None of this would have been possible if the ABA didn't allow law schools to create the impression that most of them will get jobs or make salaries that they couldn't have, without the JD.

    Imagine a world where a law school's employment reporting shows that only 8-10% of any one class' graduates begin at $160,000, and that the overwhelming majority of salaries for those employed as lawyers begin at $50,000. In this world, that reporting would also show that it's rare for any one class to have more than 75% of its graduates known to be employed as lawyers within a year of graduation, and that the average rate is much lower than that.

    It should go without saying that a yearly increase in tuition, much less one greater than the rate of inflation, would be impossible in that world. Fortunately for law schools and their employees, we don't live in that world.

    Yet.

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  38. "I propose something far more drastic: in addition to law schools closing, those that remain open should not admit anybody with an LSAT score below 170. If you struggle enough in the areas of logical reasoning and logic puzzles, you will a) never break past the 165 threshold anyways and b) will likely struggle through your entire first year."

    This is false. I scored in the mid 170s on the LSAT but struggled my first year, because I did not know that you were supposed to be using outlines from prior years that essentially acted as scripts for what the professor said during class. I read cases and thought about the concepts, like an idiot. I wasn't below median or anything, but did far worse than I should have.

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  39. "Imagine a world where a law school's employment reporting shows that only 8-10% of any one class' graduates begin at $160,000, and that the overwhelming majority of salaries for those employed as lawyers begin at $50,000."

    Even this is false. I imagine the truth is something like 5% get $160k. 50% get some sort of job as a lawyer making as little as $50k and the rest don't get legal jobs. See an interesting analysis in the comments here http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/college-rankings-blog/2011/09/01/aba-falls-short-in-efforts-to-improve-law-school-placement-data

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  40. This is false. I scored in the mid 170s on the LSAT but struggled my first year, because I did not know that you were supposed to be using outlines from prior years that essentially acted as scripts for what the professor said during class.

    LOL I begin to see a reason you may have struggled as a 1L. The original comment posited the following relationship:

    IF NOT >170, THEN NOT Succeed in Law School.

    Which has the following contrapositive:

    IF Succeed in Law School, THEN >170

    You then attempted to disprove this relationship by asserting the following data point: BOTH >170 AND NOT Succeed in Law School.

    This data point does NOT serve as a disproof of the original poster. In fact, the only data point that would have a truth table inconsistent with the original assertion would be: BOTH NOT >170 AND Succeed in Law School.

    Condescending BS aside, you do make an excellent point about how nonsensical the current structure of law school pedagogy is. With the right outline and previous questions to practice on, you can literally prep for 3 days and get an "A" in Evidence or Civ Pro or any other heavily-rules-based exam. Such nonsense.

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  41. @8:59 a.m.:

    I just threw out numbers that would seem appropriate (a) stretched across the entire spectrum of law schools and (b) when the market for law graduates is only normally dissatisfying, instead of once-a-century terrible.

    It may be that I'm being overly generous, but the point is that the data has problems at collection that get no better in their presentation. It could be as bad as you say, and it might just be worse. But we don't really know, because the ABA is trying its damnedest to blunt any real reform in employment reporting, and keep bundling Biglaw/DOJ-type outcomes with those of sole practitioners and baristas. See http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/2011/03/the-509-subcommittees-first-proposal-an-explanation-and-evaluation/

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  42. "I propose something far more drastic: in addition to law schools closing, those that remain open should not admit anybody with an LSAT score below 170. If you struggle enough in the areas of logical reasoning and logic puzzles, you will a) never break past the 165 threshold anyways and b) will likely struggle through your entire first year."

    This is false. I scored in the mid 170s on the LSAT but struggled my first year, because I did not know that you were supposed to be using outlines from prior years that essentially acted as scripts for what the professor said during class. I read cases and thought about the concepts, like an idiot. I wasn't below median or anything, but did far worse than I should have.

    *********

    I'm not saying that the opposite isn't true; there will still be a bottom of the class no matter what, simply because lack-of-teaching leads almost inextricably to lack-of-learning.

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  43. Okay, this is killing me. Which Justice?

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  44. hehe I know 9:22 I feel the same way

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  45. Breezy Wheezy, I'm not going to describe how you misrepresented the statement made, or the logical failings in your analysis, because I have a life. But you are wrong for these reasons.

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  46. Ha! I'd be in favor of that. As an LSAT "expert" with over a decade of teaching/tutoring experience, a change like that would have them beating down my door, begging to cough up $250/hr for "elite" tutoring.

    Breezy Wheezy,
    How do you reconcile your anti law school stance with the fact that you profit by FEEDING fresh victims into that scam, and have done so for ten years? Do a "logical" write up "disproving" that astonishing bit of hypocricy.
    Thanks

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  47. Since I am an LSAT junkie, let me explain BW's error:

    Imagine a school where the 1L class consists of one student scoring above 170 and everyone else scoring below 170. Then imagine that the former did not do well on 1L grades. That would mean that everyone who did well in 1L had an LSAT below 170. Thus BW's contrapositive is absolutely false, and the data point of one 170 LSAT student not doing well would in fact disproof the statement that "IF NOT >170, THEN NOT Succeed in Law School."

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  48. 11:04 PM and 4:45 AM:

    I can tell you that at the second tier state law school where I work (as very, very, very poorly staff, mind you- I do not earn a living wage), the only reason more of the library's materials haven't been converted to digital format is: The Professors Don't Like It. They are lazy and cannot be bothered to learn how to find things for themselves. They do not even know how to search the electronic catalog, which has been in existence at my school for nearly 20 years now. When they need a book or an article for their "research," they email the librarians directly, and we must produce it for them. Either we search our own catalog, discover that it is sitting on some shelf, and deliver to their office, or we buy whatever they need. In the library world this is called "patron-driven acquisitions," but in the academic law library world, it means "we buy whatever the professors want no matter how bizarre or obscure it is, whether or not it fits into the mission and scope of our library."

    Print materials' costs are sky-rocketing due to consolidation in the publishing world and it is out of our hands. Wanting to shift more of our resources to digital collections though, is like pulling the faculty's teeth. Our director has to prime them for the idea. The director has to soothe them and make sure they think it will all be okay. It is an unspoken rule at my library that when the professors say, "JUMP!" we are to immediately ask, "How high??"

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  49. Another excellent post, Prof. Campos. As your blog has so cogently pointed out, legal education today is a fundamentally broken system where the powerful and privileged prey upon the weak and powerless. But since so many law schools have actively defrauded their potential students by lying about their placement statistics, (seems to me that's called "fraud in the inducement") and fraud is still illegal in every state last I checked, I don't understand why massive numbers of lawsuits have not been filed against massive numbers of law schools. It would only take one or two victories for the rest of the schools to see the light. I would love for your to focus on this question in a future post.

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  50. "I don't understand why massive numbers of lawsuits have not been filed against massive numbers of law schools."

    It's starting. Let's see if the courts do the right thing and allow detailed discovery of the facts, or if they too are corrupt.

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  51. I think accurate reporting of employment stats will help, but to put out a fire, you have to deprive it of fuel. Here, the fuel is guaranteed loans. It's like the subprime mess but instead of the allure of an ever appreciating home, it's the allure of a lucrative career. What bank is not going to lend at 7.5% with non-dischargabity + guaranteed repayment? Until this spigot is turned off, law school deans will continue to be snake oil salesman pitching to a naive audience ready to be suckered.

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  52. @11:41
    They will do the right thing if the cases are put together well and litigated effectively. Let us hope that the plaintiff in the big case is not an angry recent grad representing him/herself.

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  53. "Let us hope that the plaintiff in the big case is not an angry recent grad representing him/herself."

    @4:43 What big case?

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  54. @4:48
    "What big case?"
    I was a law reform lawyer in the 60's when law reform actually worked. I saw a lot of good legal issues get screwed up by plain old bad lawyering. There are lots of good cases out there if the facts are put together carefully and the law is argued effectively. Witness the good law made in the Prop 9 case by two of the most respected litigators in the country. If you have a strong case get some help. There are plenty of good litigators who would probably do the case pro bono. There may some of them on this blog.

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  55. And, let me suggest that you put together a team. A group of angry new lawyers who are willing to do the work and an experienced litigator to supervise the pleadings. Pick your strongest case in the right jurisdiction and go for it!

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  56. And one more wild idea: Is there a theory you can think of in which a strong showing of fraud could be used to avoid the non-dischargability of debt?

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  57. @5:30 p.m.:

    Probably not. For one, no one's alleging that there was any fraud perpetrated by creditors against debtor-graduates, just between the debtor-graduates and the institutions where they spent the money. For another, 11 USC 523(a)(8) is pretty clear on not allowing discharges of qualified student loans except where not doing so would "impose an undue hardship." Thus far, bankruptcy courts have construed that to mean something like "I suffered severe head injuries in an accident and will probably never hold down a real job again," not "I will spend 25 years in IBR."

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  58. Say someone was thinking of creating a website similar to Law School Numbers that instead surveyed recent graduates and asked about their salary and employment status? It would use the questions suggested by Law School Transparency.

    All one would need to do is obtain the graduating class list and verify the survey respondent is the actual graduate (using Facebook, LinkedIn, .edu email address, etc.). Then, the site could get a 3rd party auditor to sign off on it's methodology and blow down the facade of high salaries and employment among law school grads, no?

    Am I missing anything here?

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  59. Breezy Wheezy, you never fessed up to the pwnage you received in 9:50.

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  60. Scalia spoke at a Colorado Bar Association meeting in 1990. As a college student, I don't know if that's really just a few years ago, but here's a link to the article:

    http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=SJ&s_site=mercurynews&p_multi=SJ&p_theme=realcities&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EB7330DAA9EE9AB&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM

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