Monday, September 19, 2011

Petitions and principles

This week I’ll be contacting the administrations of all 200 ABA-accredited law schools, asking them to circulate the Law SchoolTransparency Petition to their faculties.  I’ll keep people apprised of what results this effort yields. 

Literally every law professor I’ve heard address the issue claims to believe that more transparency regarding employment outcomes is imperative, and that the measures the petition advocates, or something much like them, should be adopted.   So why might there still be resistance to signing it? 

In a comment, Partner X has suggested three reasons law faculty might refuse to sign: fear of the reaction they would get from their colleagues, too much loathing of this petition’s source, and actual approval of the status quo.  Additionally, a couple of anonymous commenters have pointed out that some people won’t sign petitions on principle.  That’s true, but it’s worth noting that as of May the faculty of several dozen law schools had voted to sign (that is, they voted to sign collectively as a faculty, not just as individuals, which is a more comprehensive statement than the LSTP asks for) this petition, drafted by Georgetown’s law faculty.   The petition protests a proposal before the ABA’s Section on Legal Education which would merely give ABA-accredited law schools the option of not having an established tenure policy for faculty members, and of employing clinical and legal writing faculty without offering them “a form of security reasonably similar to tenure.”

The rationale for opposing giving law schools this option is, not surprisingly, that the mere existence of such an option would “undermine the quality of legal education.”  The petition also claims adopting the proposal would damage academic freedom and faculty governance, while impeding the struggle to give clinical and legal writing people the same status as tenure track faculty (Not having an established tenure policy for faculty members in general would actually be the easiest and fastest way to give clinical and legal writing people the same status as the rest of the law faculty, but I don’t suppose the people who drafted this petition considered that option. And while tenure is an important component of academic freedom, the proposed change to the ABA rules raises the very good question of why all law schools should be required to be structured, at least in theory, as primarily academic institutions).

Under the present circumstances, in which a massive increase in the cost of legal education has accompanied a sharp decline in the value of a law degree, for law faculty to offer a consumer protection rationale for not allowing law schools to experiment with lower-cost delivery models for legal education is particularly self-serving.  It may be true that the existing ABA standards produce a higher quality of legal education than the average law student would enjoy without them (although there are good reasons to doubt this). Yet it’s also true that if Congress passed the Ricardo Montalban Consumer Protection Act of 2011, requiring all new cars to have rich Corinthian leather interiors, the average quality of new cars would be higher than it would otherwise be – but this certainly isn’t a good reason to mandate leather upholstery in all automobiles.
 
In addition, to paraphrase Myers McDougal, if you think a good way to enhance academic freedom and faculty self-governance within legal academia is to maintain an absolute regulatory bar to faculties having the freedom to even consider certain alternative structures for legal education, then you have what is called a legal mind.

Lots of law professors may oppose signing petitions on principle -- even a petition advocating something as supposedly uncontroversial as a call for law school administrators to stop cooking the books in regard to employment numbers -- but that principle seems to disappear when there’s some kind of a threat to the guild protections the ABA provides for our jobs. And make no mistake: that’s the main source of the apparently overwhelming opposition to this proposal.

After all, those guild protections are, along with unlimited federally-guaranteed educational loan money, what has allowed law schools to, on average, quadruple tuition (and double faculty salaries) in real terms over the past 25 years, without ever having to justify this mind-boggling cost increase in any other terms than that “a quality legal education is inherently this expensive.”  

One big problem with this argument is that, if it’s true, it means nobody got a quality legal education 25 years ago.  Of course that argument is preposterous on its face. If anything, given advances in information technology, it should be far cheaper to deliver the same quality of legal education today that law students were getting a generation ago – and it would be, if not for the ABA standards. The primary function of those standards isn’t to protect the consumers of legal services, or even the economic interests of attorneys, but to maintain the massively inefficient and unfair monopoly it grants ABA-accredited law schools to determine who will be allowed to become licensed to practice law, and how much it will cost them to do so.

63 comments:

  1. Professors and law school administrators won't sign this because, deep down, they're sociopaths and criminals who choose to make their money by doing the exact thing you're petitioning against. This petition is dead in the water.

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  2. I wonder if professors have any idea the work that it takes to teach ourselves how to be good lawyers.
    Law schools do not provide a "legal education" and these debates about "the quality of legal education" are farcial.

    In my first job, as an Assistant State's Attorney, I learned to practice criminal law. In order to expand to personal injury, products liability, intellectual property and other areas that I practice, I had to teach myself those areas by reading practice guides, statures and cases, court dockets, and deposition/trial transcripts and discovery documents.

    Successful practitioners keep their methods a closely guarded trade secret and will not share non-public information with you. Finding transcripts and internal discovery material was especially difficult. Even after you have the documents of several complete files, figuring out strategy is still difficult. It was difficult for me and I had already tried 200 cases as a prosecutor.

    CLE is a mixed bag. The best CLE practice guides (especially National Institute of Trial Attorneys) are very good, but they only last for a few days. A really good and legal comprehensive education would be a NITA class lasting for 6 months or more.

    I have said more than once that "there should be a school to teach lawyers to practice law". A non-lawyer friend asked me "Isn't that law school". Try explaining this to a non-lawyer. The public would be shocked that no one teaches licensed lawyers how to practice law; and that many don't know how to.

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  3. I'm skeptical of tenure in general. It's particularly infuriating in light of the growing support within academia for cost-benefit analysis of all government regulations, embrace of allegedly more efficient markets by elimination of various worker protections, and loss of support for Unionization and Labor laws. However, putting all of that aside:

    First, it hasn't always successfully protected faculty's free expression in the past, so it's not clear that it achieves its purported goal. Moreover, it's hardly as though academia is free of group-think, even with tenure protections. Second, it certainly is a barrier to increasing the efficiency and efficacy of higher education in terms of providing quality education at lower prices. As such, it emphasizes research over education, which I'm not convinced is the right balance (particularly outside the sciences).

    I've heard many defenses of tenure, but I remain relatively unpersuaded of most of them.

    In any event, the entire "I don't sign petitions" position is indefensible. It amounts to an "I don't work collaboratively with others to achieve political and social change" which in turn is the practical position that "I don't strive for political change." I have sympathy for the general position that one rarely signs petitions and only when one is informed, but the issue of transparency by law schools is exactly an issue where law professors have an obligation to be informed and to agitate for change.

    Finally, if their problem is the messenger, any quiet, respectable messenger could start essentially the same petition, say nothing else about the matter, and eliminate that concern. The failure to do so reveals that the messenger isn't really the problem.

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  4. @ 6:05: Tenure is needed to speak truth to power. Law professors, not practicing criminal defense lawyers, released hundreds of innocent prisoners from death row and ended the death penalty in Illinois. Tenured academics stand up and say that smoking kills, evolution is real, carbon traps greenhouse gases, etc. Special corporate interests can pay billions for whore scientists to lie about anything. An independent academy is necessary to protect democracy.

    "Group think" is often nothing more than consensus science from the point of view of people who are inconvenienced by the truth. In the long run, truth wins out over short term group think academic fads.

    It is absolutely shameful that law professors dress up their economic interests in having the ability to lie and scam students in academic freedom. This shamelessly weakens the the principle of academic freedom. I hope these guys get destroyed after getting deposed in these fraud lawsuits.

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  5. 6:14: I apologize, I'm not in favor of shifting to entirely at-will employment for professors. I'm just skeptical that the tenure protections are required, as opposed to lesser protections. Once again, this is something that I'm open to be convinced about. I'd also note that lots of people speak truth to power without needing the full protections of tenure, and lots of the accomplishments of professors could occur without tenure.

    I'd note that I'm actually more in favor of tenure protection or other protections for people at public universities, because the avenue for persecution is more clear-cut. I'm far less sure that tenure protections are necessary at private universities.

    In any event, I probable shouldn't have started on my tenure rants, since it's a bit of a distraction. The more important point is that the arguments against signing this particular petition are utterly unpersuasive.

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  6. If you want to protect academic freedom, you don't need tenure. All you need is an administration that values academic freedom and refuses to fire someone for holding unpopular views.

    Anyone who thinks they need tenure to protect their academic freedom obviously has little faith in the school.

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  7. Who here has argued against signing it beyond my statement and, I think, one other person's that I don't sign petitions? I assume most people have no such rule. So that principle should not be a serious problem.

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  8. In any event, the entire "I don't sign petitions" position is indefensible. It amounts to an "I don't work collaboratively with others to achieve political and social change" which in turn is the practical position that "I don't strive for political change." I have sympathy for the general position that one rarely signs petitions and only when one is informed, but the issue of transparency by law schools is exactly an issue where law professors have an obligation to be informed and to agitate for change.

    Well put. Only a law professor or a career politician could take comfort in the faux purity of "I never sign petitions as a matter of principle." If one of their relatives needed some financial help for a life-saving medical procedure, would they say, "I'm sorry, but I never give money to individuals as a matter of principle"?

    I'm frankly disgusted with the self-interest that law professors have so far shown on this issue. Last Thursday and Friday, I emailed four prominent law bloggers to ask that they mention the Law School Transparency Petition on their blogs. So far, not one of them has mentioned the Petition (and only one even acknowledged receipt of my email). I won't give their names, because I'm still holding out hope that they'll do the right thing (plus, I don't want to shame someone unfairly, in case my email got lost in cyberspace, he's been traveling, etc.).

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  9. Please name names of those who respond unfavorably to your request, LawProf. If these people won't stand up for honesty, they need to be shamed for their indefensible positions.

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  10. People who object to the "I just don't sign petitions" argument probably have never lived in New York City.

    In NYC, especially in the Village and downtown, there are a bunch of people, typically college kids, called "Chuggers." Charity Muggers. They stand around with clip boards and ask people passing by "Do you care about animals?" "Will you help stop starvation?" "Don't you think the rent is too damn high?"

    Most people pass by without even looking at them. Odds are they would agree with everything the petition says, but they just don't sign petitions. Why not? Simple cost/benefit analysis. The cost is pretty small, just a few moments of your time, but come on, when was the last time a petition like this did anything? The expected benefit is even lower than the tiny cost, and those tiny costs start to add up if you don't just ignore all petitions as a matter of course.

    The objection to this that you'd certainly sign it if it was a petition to get your wrongfully convicted child off death row is stupid. It doesn't mean that your "I don't sign petitions" principle is insincere. It just means you also have a "I help my family" principle that overrides it. Principles like these should be understood as having implies exceptions similar to Asimov's 3 laws. Yes, I always/never do X ...unless principle Y takes precedence.

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  11. Tenure or no tenure - on the one hand, it allows profs to keep their jobs no matter what they say, on the other hand it allows profs to keep their jobs no matter what they say. Comparing to the UK, where we don't really have a system of tenure, I would say it adds up to about the same thing - universities are actually pretty good at defending the freedom of speech of their professors. Prof. David Starkey being a good example.

    That said, if people beleive that US universities are only prevented from muzzling their profs by tenure, they may have a point.

    @PartnerX - Not signing petitions as amtter of principle requires a Clinton-esque warping of logic. However, whilst I think people who don't sign should certainly wish to explain their decision, I would not welcome the automatic assumption that they did so out of self-interest. There is always opposition to a measure because you don't believe it goes far enough - although I would be surprised if any of those refusing to sign have such a motive.

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  12. There should be documenting and publishing of the names of all law professors who refuse to sign and all bloggers who refuse to mention the petition.

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  13. No, there should be documenting and publish of the names of all people, not just law professors and bloggers, who refuse to sign or promote the petition.

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  14. Prof should submit two petitions for consideration:

    1. The Law School Transparency Petition advocated above, and

    2. The Law School Opacity Petition, which would be something like this:

    "We, the undersigned, believe it is imperative that all law schools provide prospective law school students with misinformation that will not allow them to accurately assess their prospects for finding appropriate employment within the legal profession upon graduation from the schools they are considering attending. We therefore call upon the American Bar Association to require all schools it has accredited to release unclear, inaccurate, and unreasonably incomplete information regarding graduate employment, by for example ignoring the proposals outlined in Part III of the Law School Transparency Project's white paper "A Way Forward: Transparency at U.S. Law Schools" (http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1528862.)."


    Name
    Institutional affiliation or employer, if applicable
    Law school attended and year of graduation, if applicable


    *Institutional and employer affiliations are for identification purposes only"

    It would be interesting to see how many signatures each would receive.

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  15. I think that tenured profs should sign the petition. However those who are not yet tenured or who have contracts should not. Deans at many law schools are vengeful. You get on their bad side and you are gone. Only tenured faculty members have protection. There is no "academic freedom" for the rest.

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  16. The objection to this that you'd certainly sign it if it was a petition to get your wrongfully convicted child off death row is stupid. It doesn't mean that your "I don't sign petitions" principle is insincere. It just means you also have a "I help my family" principle that overrides it.

    If that's the case, then the claim "I never sign petitions" is false. Such a person does sometimes sign petitions; s/he won't sign this petition. Which brings us back to the original, as-yet-unanswered question, Why won't s/he sign this petition?

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  17. Carthage Must be Footnoted!September 19, 2011 at 9:04 AM

    I'm an untenured faculty member and I signed the petition.

    I actually think that not having tenure makes it easier for me. I'm not as invested in the system. I don't feel like I've won a great prize, and some upstarts are trying to yank it away from me.

    Tenured or not tenured is no excuse. Quite frankly, if my Dean fires me for signing the petition (highly unlikely; let's get real) that would probably do a great deal more justice for the cause than my signing the petition.

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  18. Or you're both wrong and it's a true statement subject to qualifications? "I never sign petitions unless a family member or loved one is involved."

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  19. PartnerX: No, it's not false to say "I never sign petitions" even if you would in some instances (such as to save your kid).

    It sure looks false, but it's not. It's short hand for "I never sign petitions, except in X, Y, and Z situations, which are such obvious exceptions that they shouldn't have to be explicitly stated."

    A: "I would never put ribs on a pizza."
    B: "What if someone put a gun to your head and told you to do it?"
    A: "Oh, well obviously then I'd do it."
    B: "Ha! Then I just caught you in a lie!"
    A: "No, you just suck at language."

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  20. You are lucky to have a good dean at your law school. The one at my law school is vindictive. If she doesn't like you, you are gone (librarians, administrators, lower level profs).

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  21. It sure looks false, but it's not. It's short hand for "I never sign petitions, except in X, Y, and Z situations, which are such obvious exceptions that they shouldn't have to be explicitly stated."

    The commenters offering the "I never sign" explanation have not stated their exceptions.* That's convenient for them, because it prevents us from asking the next obvious question, which is "Since you have exceptions, why won't you make an exception for the Law School Transparency Petition?"

    What I'm trying to get at is how anemic the "I never sign petitions" excuse is for a law prof or administrator. Consider the circumstances: (1) The petition seeks nothing objectionable (who can possibly object to making full and fair disclosure to prospective customers?). (2) No one seriously disputes that the current law school disclosures are not full and fair. (3) Law profs and administrators are making a living based partly on the misconceptions fostered by their schools' intentionally flawed disclosures. And a law prof or admin has the gall to say, "I won't sign a petition seeking full & fair disclosures because I never sign petitions"? Seriously?

    *Assuming they have any.

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  22. This is so much ado about nothing that it would even make Shakespeare blush. But I'm not going to hate on you for trying.

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  23. This issue may be getting closer to a tipping point. This post was just circulated among the faculty by a tenured faculty member at the school where I teach:

    http://balkin.blogspot.com/2011/09/sobering-numbers-law-graduates-who-do.html

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  24. 10:52, those numbers are still self reported and inflated.

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  25. My personal reasons for not signing them probably would not apply to law professors.

    I suppose as a general rule I would not sign a petition unless I was otherwise significantly involved in advocating for change. Like I said with the diversity petition yesterday, it felt cheap signing it when I wasn't doing anything else to further that cause. With the child on death row I would obviously be doing a lot more than just signing. Even then, it's unlikely I would sign it as I would be satisfied with my otherwise significant contributions. Again, it's a personal viewpoint though and I wouldn't expect others to feel the same.

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  26. Good to see things start moving because I'm still jobless. For some reason, the only employers who are hiring are looking for attorneys with something called, "experience"? I don't what that is..

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  27. The numbers that Tamanaha has on that site are pure fiction. It's not his fault, necessarily, but he is relying on the LST efforts, which, in turn are based on self-reported, unaudited numbers.

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  28. I don't sign petitions because I think petitions are pretty useless. Generally all they do is make the slactivist feel better while not effecting any change.

    Faculty petitioning their school might be more effective than, say, a petition signed at the Wall Street protest, but there's a lot more a professor could do, even acting on their own.

    I would imagine professors would have little trouble reserving a lecture hall after hours. An open forum discussing transparency would create a much bigger stir than a signature on a petition.

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  29. Seems to me the debate about whether a petition is the most effective strategy is beside the point. Most social justice campaigns utilize a diversity of tactics over time. It's going to take petitions, protests, teach-ins, etc and a whole lot more to get any movement on something like this.

    So sign the friggin' petition, AND do all the other good things that people are offering up as alternatives.

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  30. 11:44, the question is why didn't Mr. Tanahama report LST numbers that contradicted the ones he reported? See this comment in his blog:

    ----------------------------

    Mr. Tamanaha,

    Please allow me to describe how you, once again, have (I hope) inadvertently overstated the career prospects of law graduates in one of your reports. This is not the first time you have done this, and I sincerely hope these posts of your are not intentionally misleading advertisements for law school. In other words, I hope you are not taking fraudulent, overstated and misleading statistics and presenting them as an indictment of law school in the hopes that they will be accepted, i.e. I hope that your real motive for posting this was not to communicate the statement: "Look, even at a tier 2 75% of the grads work as lawyers" because that 75% number is completely wrong.

    Here is why. How could LawSchoolTransaprency provide a "jobs requiring JD" percentage that is HIGHER thant he "reported non-zero salaries" percentage?

    For example, at Loyola Law in LA, of their entire class, only 39.6+1.5=41.1% reported a non-zero salary.
    http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/clearinghouse/?school=loyola&show=salaries&class=2009

    Yet we are to believe that 60.3% of the graduates were in jobs that required a bar?
    http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/clearinghouse/?school=loyola&show=charts&class=2009

    How could the statistics collecter know that the job required bar passage, but not know what the job pays?

    What you should do, Mr. Tamanaha, so as to correct the misleading chart you posted above, is to add a line showing "Percentage of graduates with a known salary" which would be the sum of the variables "graduates are represented by salary quartiles" and "graduates are Article III clerks"

    Otherwise, your chart will do more harm than good.

    Sincerely,

    Concerned Citizen

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  31. Signing the petition is the least you can do, it does not mean that it is all you should do. Peaceful demonstrations, debate, discussion audits - there is no need to separate out one measure, label it 'slacktivism' and despise it. The simple fact is that if Campos reaches his goal of 100 ABA-acredited faculty, the ABA will find such a petition very hard to ignore.

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  32. It is true that many people don't sign petitions when approached by strangers on the street. The most prevalent reasons are as stated, which is that:
    1. the individual doesn't care enough or know enough about the issues at hand
    2. signing won't achieve much so why bother

    If a law professor, though, states that this was his reasons for not signing LawProf's petition, however, it would be quite damning.

    As for reason (1), that it is damning is pretty much self-evident. As for reason (2), this is just stupid. As PartnerX points out, people will sign petitions when they feel the issue is important enough. Therefore it can only mean that the issue is not important enough to them (or they secretly oppose it).

    Other than fear of retribution or actually disagreeing with the premise of the petition, there is no other valid reason for not signing.

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  33. I think the petition is worthwhile just for the opportunity to put law professors on record as being for or against it. They can't avoid being one or the other, and that information can be collected and published. If all it ends up proving at the end is that most are against it, that alone is something I'd like to know. It would at least discredit the "we didn't know" explanation offered by Orin Kerr.

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  34. Good point 12:34. The petition perhaps is just a first step. However, professors do not need to tell you whether they will sign it. They can just pretend they never heard of it.

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  35. It's like people got through college without learning about the concept of supererogation.

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  36. @ 12:34

    I think that in and of itself is as useful as anything.

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  37. In the final analysis, either they support the aims of the petition or they oppose it or they refuse to state their position. As far as the usefulness of the petition in gauging law professor and admin attitudes that is enough.

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  38. or they don't care enough about the issue to sign?

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  39. Deborah Jones MerrittSeptember 19, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    I have signed the petition, and wish to offer these words of encouragement to others:

    (1) Like many of you, I don't personally like the sensationalist name of this blog, and I don't agree with all of the statements made here. But sensationalism is an important part of any change movement. Sensationalists raise an issue; moderates implement the change. I consider myself a moderate and am willing to work for change even when it originates from somewhat sensationalist statements. The petition does not bear the name of this blog or endorse statements made here.

    (2) The petition refers to the work and proposals of Law School Transparency (lawschooltransparency.com), a group of Vanderbilt law students who--based on what I have seen so far--are conducting a respectful, reasonable campaign to obtain more accessible employment data about legal careers. If you have any doubts about signing the petition, I urge you to visit the LST site. The initiative is actually a good example of what well trained lawyers can do!

    (3) Gathering data about legal careers is important for many reasons--not just to help prospective law students make wise decisions (although that is a very important reason in itself). The legal market has changed dramatically and will continue--like other markets in a global economy--to evolve rapidly. Law professors and practitioners need to know more about what law-trained graduates do, the types of law they practice, the type of employers they work for, etc. If we as professors don't have that information, how can we tailor our education to provide the best training for students and their future clients? I think there is a lot of value in current legal education--those are some of the comments I disagree with on this blog. But like any industry today, we need to know what is happening in the world. How can we make wise decisions as educators if we close our eyes to information?

    (4) In his op-ed last week, Dean Gormley said that he was proud of the work that all of his graduates do. I feel the same about grads from my law school. New lawyers who join small family law practices or public defenders' offices provide services that are just as important and honorable as the work done at big corporate law firms. Since I'm proud of the work that all our grads do, I see no reason to keep it quiet. Sure, some students will decide that the cost of law school isn't worthwhile if they're more likely to practice family law or criminal defense than be associates at big law firms. I think that's great--it's the market working! As a professor, I want students who have made informed choices about their graduate education and career goals.

    (5) I don't think most law schools are "cooking" their numbers (although a few, regrettably, are). But the petition doesn't make that accusation. I do think that schools have gotten carried away with overly glossy marketing and are more afraid than they need to be about publishing complete, detailed data about graduates' careers. I'd like to lower the temperature of the debate and talk reasonably about why very open, detailed career information will benefit lots of people--including the schools themselves. Signing the petition won't be my only step in that direction but, on reflection, I've concluded that it is a good step toward discussion.

    As another step in encouraging more moderate discussion, I'm signing my name to this comment and will hope to encourage more discussion from others. I do think this blog is an important stimulus to discussion. Now it's up to readers to take the discussion in a direction that makes sense to us. Deborah Jones Merritt

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  40. "or they don't care enough about the issue to sign?"

    Then that would be as telling and damning as anything.

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  41. "Then that would be as telling and damning as anything."

    And is, anyway, not an excuse to do anything more than delay a few days. Paul Horwitz said he would consider it. Does it really take that long to read LST's white paper? Has he made his mind up yet?

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  42. What is supererogation?

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  43. And the scamblog movement continues to shoot itself in the foot despite Lawprof's attempts to help. Arguing over meaningless distinctions for 50 comments instead of trying to think up solutions. Not realizing you can sign a petition and still do other things to change the system. Reading a story from a sympathetic law professor like Tamahana and then posting accusatory, ridiculous comments like the one at 12:01 instead of just agreeing with him and then trying to point out how his helpful conclusions are probably even understated with respect to the extent of the unemployment problem. You guys need some organization and need to put your egos in check before you're ready to take on the entrenched law school cabal.

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  44. Supererogation is doing something which is good but not morally or ethically required.

    Would it be good for a professor to sign the petition? Sure.

    Have they failed a duty by not doing so? Not really.

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  45. @ 1:54

    No one said they were "required to" sign the petition or that they have "they failed a duty by not doing so". All that is said is that if they fail to do so, then they assume any risk in terms of people's assumptions as to why they did not sign. It is their choice.

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  46. People can talk and comment all they want, differing in how they think change can take place. The bottom-line is that something must be done, and, whether you like petitions or not, "we" are doing something here. Yes, one can argue the effectiveness of petitions, the alleged timidity and meekness of academia/law students, etc...blah...blah...blah, but nothing happens without some effort. So, back to my original point: SOMETHING IS BEING DONE, and that is much better than NOTHING BEING DONE. Yeah, it is a petition. If the naysayers think they can do something better, then go form your own blog and DO SOMETHING. In the meantime, I continue to be encouraged by this blog, Professor Campos, and, yes, even most of the discussions.

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  47. That begs the question as to what is moral or ethical.

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  48. "SOMETHING IS BEING DONE"

    Correction: Something will have been done if the petition collects enough signatures to allow it to be published. This is something that people can work on, if only by mentioning it in as many places as possible.

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  49. Exactly 2:03, it really won't matter the reason, only that that that didn't sign. That tells you enough.

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  50. A question for those here who are more involved in the scamblog movement than I am: are there schools out there right now that are being as transparent as they should be? I've taken a look at a couple of the schools on the Tamanaha survey that seemed like they might have relatively honest employment numbers, and found a couple that seem to be fairly transparent. For instance:

    http://www.law.msu.edu/career/placement-rates.html

    That's Michigan State's information. Right up front, they tell you that 43% of their grads are employed in full-time jobs that require a JD.

    http://www.chapman.edu/law/career/employmentStats.asp

    That's from Chapman. Again, right up front we see that 76 of their 171 grads are in permanent full-time jobs. (They don't disclose how many require a JD, but they do have a further breakdown by sector which tells somewhat more.)

    (I was surprised how many of the schools on Tamanaha's list aren't being transparent at all, though. Even to my untrained eye, it was obvious in some cases where they're hiding their grads.)

    Are the two schools referenced above doing what they should be? If not, what should they do to satisfy the transparency movement?

    (Full disclosure: Yes, I work at a law school, though I'm a (low-level) professor rather than an administrator.

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  51. Sheesh, I would hope a 71/171 employment rate would be accurate!

    What these schools should do, 2:57, is endorse all transparency measures. No reason why they should be the only ones being honest.

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  52. 2:57, They should also advertise their honesty. If other schools are advertising things that aren't even true, then there's no reason why those honest schools shouldn't advertise things that make them look good and that are true.

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  53. Jeez, Anonymous. I thought you were going to be a fly-by-night a-hole. Turns out you're really committed.

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  54. Who are you talking to?

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  55. Who is who talking to? It'd be so much more coherent on here if posters wishing to remain anonymous would just pick a pseudonym and stick to it.

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  56. Calling eachother by the timestamp works fine too.

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  57. Is FOARP here? Did I read correctly that 20 years ago, the UK not only did not charge tuition, but they paid you money to go to school?

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  58. This is very noble, but how likely is it that an institution can actually reform itself from within to seek fewer resources? That seems contrary to very basic systems theory and most of our current political decisions. Think reform has to come from outside, and usually only after something dramatic happens.

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  59. @5.26PM - Yes, that's correct. It was called the maintenance grant and was paid to all non-mature students. It was part of a whole raft of policies (universal healthcare through the NHS, nationalisation of major industries and all the universities etc.) brought in by the post-war Labour government.

    As you can probably guess it was disliked, both by Conservative voters who saw it as a mis-allocation of money which would be better kept in the pockets of the taxpayer, and by working-class Labour voters who saw it as the subsidising of an elite. It was gradually phased out and tuition fees, paid for with loans raised from a national student loans company and only repayable after your income surpassed a certain amount were introduced. I was in the last group of first-year students to receive a grant in 1998 (a measily 400 quid in my first term).

    In Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales, however, university remains free, and grants are available on a means-tested basis.

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  60. Thanks for spreading word of the petition on the internet FOARP. I saw your handiwork on a number of other sites today.

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  61. I guess it's also worth pointing out - until recently law firms in England paid (either in part or in whole) for the vocational education of lawers, through training contracts for solicitors, and pupillages for barristers, which would be worked off in the years following qualification, or paid back if the person failed.

    Twenty years ago, someone who wanted to be a lawyer would study an three-year LLB (or one-year conversion course for non-law grads), then try to find a firm (or chambers for barristers) which would support him/her through his/her vocational education. They would then take the one-year LPC for solicitors or the one-year BVC (now the BPTC) for barristers, and then work for the firm or chambers with which they had their traineeship or pupillage.

    Basically, to become a solicitor or barrister in England & Wales could be acheived at no cost to the would-be lawyer, so long as you had the scores to do so, and so long as you were happy with paying the higher tax rates around at that time and willing to work off the money given by your employers for your training.

    Over the last decade or so, however, law schools (many of which are private companies run on a for-profit basis) have encouraged increasing numbers of students to apply for positions paid for with bank loans. Particularly US-owned schools like Kaplan have sought to introduce a US-like system of students funding their own education through loans paid-off after graduation.

    This has led to a situation in which there are, for example, roughly 10,000 LPC students persuing roughly 5,000 traineeships, and roughly 1,500 would-be barristers persuing 600 pupillages. In the British system, remember, merely graduating from these courses does not entitle you to work as a lawyer - you have to go through a traineeship or pupillage. Vocational qualifications are no more than pieces of paper which do not allow you to practice solo.

    I had hoped that the banks withdrawing their loans from law students might end this practice, but now I hear that the law-schools (BPP for example) themselves are offering high-interest loans. Essentially, they are lending people money to pay their ever-increasing fees (~10% increases year-on-year) on the expectation of getting employment which statistically speaking they are unlikely to find.

    The one thing I will say is that the situation is that students are not, yet, borrowing so much money as to criple themselves, as they are in the US. However, if no action is taken this is what will happen.

    Therefore, if anyone is wondering why someone from the UK is so interested in stopping the US law school scam, it is out of the hope that if something is done in the US, this will have an effect in the UK.

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  62. Interesting. I actually learned about this by hearing Gerard Butler explain his failed legal career (if I heard him correctly he was fired from his vocational training for misbehavior and so never finished his law degree). Sad to hear that Kaplan is sinking their tenticles into the UK system.

    I was speaking to a friend from Taiwan who believed that education should be a rare and free resource, available to the few who get the grades to deserve it. Given a choice between (a) the US, where any idiot can get an "education" if he pays (or borrows) enough money and (b) such a system, I think I would choose the Taiwanese gentleman's system.

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  63. At 10:52 AM - Touro Law right?

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