Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The birth of a salesman

I've striven mightily over the past three months to avoid turning this blog into a forum for encouraging squalid little arguments between law professors, but Dave Hoffman's post on Concurring Opinions exhausts my capacity to avoid public exasperation, given how it attributes imaginary views and preposterous behavior to conveniently clueless straw men, before moving on to avuncular -- and shockingly self-revealing -- ruminations, intended to "help" the increasingly desperate and confused students paying his salary.

Hoffman claims that David Segal and I "argue (ironically) that law schools are contributing to the problems of the legal profession by not raising higher barriers to entry."  I don't know what would be "ironic" about that argument, but in any case I've certainly never made it, and if Segal has I haven't seen where (a link would be nice).  Hoffman then proceeds to fantasize about the idiotic behavior that I, apparently egged on by the nefarious Mr. Segal, must engage in when students ask me for career advice, early in the fall of their first semester of law school:

Let’s say a student comes to your office hours early in the Fall semester.  They are lost.  Really, desperately, lost.  They are working all the time, but they can’t see the forest, the trees, the continent, the planet.  Law’s [G]reek to them. What to do?  One view – let’s call this the Segal/Campos view – is that the morally right thing to do at that very moment is to 1) recognize that my livelihood depends on the students; 2) this puts me, like every provider of services, in a slightly compromised position when talking to a student about whether they ought to be in school; 3) realizing this, decide pretty quickly if I think that the student is a candidate for Bar passage and employment; 4) if not, tell the student that they’d be better off leaving school and pursuing other opportunities in today’s job market, or to take the Ayes-refund offer if it comes.
Hoffman then goes on to congratulate himself for not being nearly as reckless and insufferably arrogant as law professors who make instantaneous judgments in an empirical vacuum when confused 1Ls ask them at the beginning of their first semester whether they should drop out of school.  Unlike Campos and Segal (note Hoffman's reverie leads him to imagine not merely how badly I must do my job, but what a terrible law professor David Segal would be if he happened to be one) Hoffman would wait until at least the second semester before allowing himself to engage in a conversation with a student about whether he or she should stick it out, and he ("usually") wouldn't have that conversation without first engaging in "a pretty lengthy exploration of  their goals, resources and capabilities."

That's very thoughtful of you, professor. Then what do you do? The answer is disconcerting. Hoffman claims that at this point he still doesn't have enough information to give students useful advice:

I know that I have very little information early in a student’s career that will meaningfully predict if they can earn a living as a lawyer.  I will know something after the first semester about if they’ll get a job at a large law firm. But that’s a narrow slice of jobs for all law school graduates outside of all but 10-15 schools (or, more precisely 5-10% of law school graduates).  What I don’t know about students is their motivation; their people skills; their social connections; their ability to bounce back.  In short, I know almost nothing about their human capital.
This is pretty mealy-mouthed. Hoffman more or less acknowledges that, after a student's first semester at Temple, it's possible to predict with some accuracy whether that student's odds of getting a big firm job have gone from slim to ("constructively," as lawyers say) none.  This is actually an extremely important piece of information, which in my view ought to be conveyed to students who ask for it in tactful but otherwise unmistakable terms.

Furthermore, why doesn't Hoffman know about the student's social connections, given that those connections, along with first-year grades, are the most important considerations when trying to predict whether someone will earn a living as a lawyer?  What exactly does Hoffman talk about with students during those "lengthy explorations of their goals, resources, and capabilities?".

But let's assume Hoffman believes what he's saying, and that he's genuinely in some sort of profound epistemological quandary when second-semester 1Ls who are doing badly ask him for career advice.  One would think it would then follow that Hoffman would tell these confused and frightened young people that he just doesn't know enough about them, given the supposed unpredictability of the legal world, to give them useful advice. It turns out one would be wrong:

So I encourage most students to persevere, to stick to it, to work super hard, to postpone good times and return again to the books. I tell them that the Law School’s most successful graduates got bad grades.  (True, if success means money earned.)
(I would be very curious to know whether there's any evidence, either at Temple or any other law school, for this ubiquitous and highly counter-intuitive platitude about how C students end up getting rich. I would also be curious to know how this doesn't contradict on its face Hoffman's earlier admission that first-year grades are the key to getting high-paying jobs.)

It gets worse:

I sometimes tell them they are improving though they aren’t – but only if they seem to me to desperately need some solace.  (I never tell them that about their practice exams, in case my current students are reading this – you’ll get only criticism from me in the service of better final performance.)  I often tell people that hard work and caring more than other lawyers is the path to success, though I know that in life, social connections, being good looking/tall, and luck probably play just as much if not a larger role.  In short, I try to be a supportive mentor as much as I can, though I know, in grim probabilistic terms, that some students would be better off cutting their losses.
I've learned -- far too slowly -- over the course of two decades in legal academia not to be easily shocked, but still, as I've had more than occasion to remark in recent months. . . are you kidding me?  Seriously professor? You lie to them?  Because, incredible as it may be that this needs to be pointed out to you at this juncture in this particular scholarly exchange of views, that's what you're doing by your own admission!

Let me spell this out even more clearly: To continue this pseudo-Socratic dialogue, even here in Plato's Cave the shadows on the wall indicate that a whole lot of our students won't be able to make a living practicing law -- something which you readily acknowledge. How many is a whole lot? An excellent question! Do you have any idea how many recent Temple graduates have real legal jobs a year or two or three after graduation, or how much money they are or are not making, and how much debt they're carrying? If you don't, you ought to tell any student who asks precisely this: that you don't know the exact numbers, probably because, like almost everybody else in this business, you've made it your business not to know them, but that nevertheless you do know a lot of Temple students aren't going to be able to make a living practicing law at all, and that a lot of others who do have legal careers won't be able to pay their educational debts, and that (according to you) you simply don't know enough to predict with any tolerable degree of accuracy whether the student who is asking you for advice will be in either of those two categories.

This, according to you anyway, is the truth. Why should your students get less than that from you? Here's your answer:

Should I feel bad that I encourage people who may not succeed?  Should I start every conversation with a Vokesian disclaimer that is brutally frank about their current level of skill?  I just don’t see it.  That’s not, I think, what an educational institution is supposed to be about.  We’re selling the possibility of self-improvement, and economic and social momentum.  People need to believe in that possibility if they are to realize it: optimism actually makes people better, more competent, and more satisfied with their lives.  There’s a corrosive cynicism in the “scamblogs” which would, I think, turn that idea on its head. We owe our students more.
I really am on the verge of being rendered speechless.  Educational institutions are supposed to be about education -- about edifying people, and most especially young (i.e. relatively inexperienced, naive, trusting) people, by helping them see the world in clearer and more truthful terms than they did before they committed themselves to our trust.  There are ten thousand places in this culture where people can be separated from their money by other people who are "selling [le mot juste!] the possibility of self-improvement." Universities are supposed to be about something else.  That something else is above all what we owe to our students -- and for that matter to ourselves.


  1. "exhausts my capacity to avoid public exasperation, given how it attributes imaginary views and preposterous behavior to conveniently clueless straw men,"

    Sounds exactly like transparency boy who squats on this site all day every day picking shrill idiotic fights using zero logic. Maybe they are the same person?

  2. Touche.

    Of course, I'm also starting to think there's a prevailing, hm, difference of opinion/perspective between Concurring Opinions and yourself, given Frank Pasquale's somewhat-misread of the piece you collaborated with Segal on.

    Though I think that criticism was more on-target, at least to the extent that he was arguing against that particular characterization of Segal's (not your) position.

  3. Your argument, Mr. Hoffman, is that you do not have the data to know how well a particular student will do once he graduates. In other words, when the student comes to you to ask for advice, you can't give him any advice because you don't have the information required to know how well he will do if he stays in law school, or if he leaves.

    That's not true. Schools know how their students do. They have the data to properly advise the student, and to properly advise prospective students.

    However, they do not use this data. They hide it from the student. Not only do they hide it from the student, but in its place they publish fraudulent and misleading data. They claim a 99% employment rate, when that includes part time and non-legal jobs. They claim a median starting salary of $135,000 by intentionally using only salary data from an unrepresentative sample. This is as heinous and opportunistic a form of fraud as exists.

    Who pays?

    1. The student who is deceived by the fraud into attending a program that he would have been better off avoiding. They lose their one shot at a worthwhile education.

    2. Competitor academic programs, whose honesty, whose honest career placement numbers, just can't compete with the fraud pumped out by law schools. Who would want to go to physical therapist school when Temple Law Grads have a median private sector starting salary of $135,000? (Mr. Hoffman teaches at Temple and I assure you that figure is a damned lie). They lose students and tuition revenue.

    3. The nation's economy who loses responsible and hard working youth to the black ooze of legal education.

    4. Most importantly, the taxpayers, who will have to pick up the bill when the graduates can't find jobs and so are unable to pay their federally guaranteed student loans.

    Shame on you Mr. Hoffman. Shame on you.

  4. (I posted that as a comment to Hoffman's piece. Let's see if he publishes it).

  5. "Sounds exactly like transparency boy who squats on this site all day every day picking shrill idiotic fights using zero logic. Maybe they are the same person?"

    If you don't like LawProf, and if you don't have any sympathy for defrauded law students - then why are you on this site?

  6. Excellent post LawProf, although perhaps the ultimate problem is that there aren't higher barriers to least higher barriers to entry for law school accreditation from the ABA.

  7. @10:46
    I'm not the guy who you are quoting, but I think you are misreading his intent. I think he's saying that Hoffman is like transparency boy, not Law Prof. If I'm wrong, then whoops, apologies to both!

  8. And in other news, vodka makes you drunk.

    Is anyone really surprised by these rationalizations? I just assumed most academics thought along these lines. When you're in that ivory tower its hard to give a shit about 20-30 years of crushing debt for the peons below. But hey, "optimism actually makes people better, more competent, and more satisfied with their lives." He must live a very rich life? Down here in debtorville its hard to think in terms of lollipops and rainbows.

  9. @10:49 - 10:46 knows Im talking about him...he's transparency boy. You can tell by his total failure at logic and shrill defensiveness.

  10. "There are ten thousand places in this culture where people can be separated from their money by other people who are "selling [le mot juste!] the possibility of self-improvement." Universities are supposed to be about something else."

    Well said. If students wanted to read a self help book they can buy one for $20 at Barnes and Nobles.

    What's particularly funny about Mr. Hoffman's take, though, is that there is proven evidence that law school will increase the rate of depression by A FACTOR OF 5.

  11. LawProf,
    The troll is at it again. Please start deleting comments, and please install statcounter so you can get IP addresses.

  12. "10:46 knows Im talking about him...he's transparency boy."

    If you believe in Law School Transparency movement, then why you are on this site?

  13. *If you don't believe

  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  17. Obsessive Transparency Guy and Obsessive Replier to Transparency Guy: Cut it out.

    Everybody who posts on this blog agrees transparency is important, although they disagree how important. Both points have now been made 500 times in 50 different threads.

  18. So, is the CBS piece going forward or not?

  19. 11:09: Still up in the air. We have several volunteers but we could use more.

  20. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  21. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  22. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  23. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  24. These law professors have no shame. It's astonishing.

    There is no excuse--none--for them not having a reality-based understanding about the absolutely terrible outcomes awaiting current law students and being suffered by recent grads. It's just willful ignorance at this point.

    Also, newsflash for Hoffman: grades matter, PERIOD, not just for BigLaw aspirations. I mean, come on--we all see postings all the time for attorney positions--some of them not at all impressive or well-paid--requiring "excellent academic credentials" or top whatever percent. These include positions requiring years of experience. Again: law professors should know this. No excuse.

    It's going to be interesting watching a bunch of clueless law professors when this whole scheme inevitably comes tumbling down. Good luck out in the job market with your "versatile" JD. I will have exactly the same concern and sympathy for you that you have had for the outcomes of your students.

  25. "It's going to be interesting watching a bunch of clueless law professors when this whole scheme inevitably comes tumbling down."

    That's the most troubling aspect of this scam. It's not going to come tumbling down. I would bet money that it will be around in 10 years, with $90,000 annual tuition (not including housing). It's a work of genius that would make bond villains jealous.

    1. Publish very attractive "99% employed with median salary of $60k for those who chose government, and $120k for those who chose private practice" job placement numbers that an aimless college graduate would have to be crazy to turn down.

    2. Immunize yourself from fraud claims by coopting the ABA committee in charge of determining the "proper" way to disclose job placement numbers.

    3. Only admit very risk averse and non-combative types (others will be weeded out by the C&F process in admissions).

    4. Beat them down during the three years, so that once they graduate unemployed the only thought in their head is "well, I wasn't top x% so I didn't deserve to be taught skills that the economy can use." As a byproduct of this abuse, increase their rate of depression by a factor of 5.

    5. Get the government to guaranty the financing, so private sector prudence doesn't gum up your plan.

    6. Vigorously fight anyone who poses a serious challenge to your scam (see e.g. Cooley/NYLS motions to dismiss).

  26. LaVonna,

    You make an excellent point about grades and it got me thinking.

    Essentially all grades in law school are a zero-sum game. A certain percentage of people are going to get A's, a certain percentage B's, a certain percentage C's, etc. If I remember correctly, most law schools base this on a set formula (10% get A's or whatever). Presumably the students Mr. Hoffman are "encouraging" are the students that are receiving more C's and D's than A's. Without these students, invariably, some of the A and B students would start receiving more C's and D's. This would in turn hurt the grades of the school's top students which may ultimately affect their earnings and thus the school's ability to pad their salary data.

    Perhaps I am being cynical, but Mr. Hoffman probably knows that these "cannon-fodder" students serve a purpose that benefits the greater law school and his salary. His "encouragement" to "try harder" is akin to the WWI Major telling his soldiers to run hard and straight right before he sends them over the top of the trench.

  27. Interesting take dimmit.

  28. Whether it's this Hoffman guy and his preposterous positions, that professor at the Univ. of St. Louis encouraging outright fraud on the federal loan system, or Ted Seto suggesting that the path to becoming a big law partner in L.A. is to choose Loyola over Vanderbilt (when Loyola places a pathetic 5% (1 in 20) of its students in big law vs. Vandy's nearly 30% (1 in 3), we can be certain that the legal "academy," for the most part, are contributing materially to the crisis.

  29. Comment on the Hoffman piece, by former Hofstra visting Hofstra Law professor Edwin (a.k.a. Scott) Fruehwald:

    "When I was in law school, I had a friend who did poorly her first year. The last two years, however, she had the highest G.P.A. in the class. After law school, she got a job with one of the top law firms in Louisville."

  30. @11:37 I dunno... sooner or later every pyramid scheme goes bust.

    Isn't that essentially what you're describing? I suppose you don't have each generation recruiting the next, but you cannot -- simply cannot -- continue to increase tuition by x% every year indefinitely.

    The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function. (A. Bartlett)

  31. Can somebody save Hoffman's post in its entirety? His post will inspire a future class action lawsuit.

  32. "Can somebody save Hoffman's post in its entirety? His post will inspire a future class action lawsuit."

    That's how you think like a lawyer. Hoffman's piece is a very precise admission to fraud.

  33. Doesn't this guy realize that, with his Yale, Harvard, Cravath, credentials, he's part of the "1%" of the legal profession?

    Doesn't he care about the fact that he is making a living by engaging in a process, and at an institution, that can reasonably be defined as one that engages in nothing other the than debt enslavement of its students so that the professors and administration can have quality lives funded by taxpayer subsidized loan programs?

    Doesn't he also realize that by teaching at a place like Temple, he's now part of the problem (the problem being not only an oversupply of lawyers, but an oversupply from schools that can't possibly place their students in jobs that pay enough money to service the debt they've taken on)?

    I never cease to be amazed at the clueless morons put out by Harvard and Yale.

  34. I work at a Tier 2 school. This week a tenured professor emailed out the recent NYT article to the entire faculty and staff. The professor accompanied the article with sympathetic remarks. The response? Crickets chirping. One other professor responded, referencing Leiter's response. End of discussion. No more responses.

    I can assure you that Hoffman's attitude, displayed here, is completely typical of the vast majority of tenured professors at middling law schools.

  35. But remember, law professors aren't complicit in the crime. They're just innocent bystanders. (sarcasm off)

  36. That's odd. Hoffman posted my comment at 10:43, but under the moniker of "Quinine." When I had posted it to his site I called myself "anon." Why did he change my name?

  37. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  38. LawProf, Troll alert at 1:51. Again you can take care of this person easily with statcounter.

  39. Actually, AFAIAA Statcounter only allows you to see IP addresses (which can be proxies), and doesn't allow blocking of specific IP addresses so that they cannot comment. You can use it to identify people by IP addresses/access times and delete their comments that way though.

  40. Dimmit, you are absolutely correct. But this is one of the few things on which law schools have tried to do the right thing and run into insurmountable resistance from employers. So many employers, as others note here, are determined to hire only the top 10%, 20%, or top half, with the percentage depending on the particular school.

    A small number of schools at the top can defeat this ridiculous attitude by giving the equivalent of pass/fail grades and refusing to rank students. For the rest of law schools, attempting to follow that model is disaster: Almost no one gets hired. Outside HYS, a student has to be able to tell many employers "yes, I'm in the top x%" or the resume goes in the employer's trash.

    The result of this, as dimmit recognizes, is that the bottom half of every law school class propels the fortunes of the top half. At some schools, it may be the bottom 90% propelling the top 10%. In good times, and at the more higher ranked schools, many members of the bottom x% may eventually find satisfying employment. But it's very hard. Today it is becoming impossible at many schools.

    This is one reason I found the Ayres/Amar proposal so hilarious. I do admire their willingness to think about the problem and explore creative ideas. But how would their idea work outside of HYS? Suppose that at a Tier 2 school, the bottom half of the class takes the rebate and drops out at the end of the first year; they see the writing on the wall and understand that their job prospects are dim. What happens next? The students who were formerly in the second quarter of the class are now the bottom half; the top ten percent has become the top twenty percent....I can almost guarantee you that law firms won't fall for the line "Our bottom half dropped out after the first year, so only the top half remain."

    This is one of the central problems of the legal job market. I've known law professors and law school deans who have beaten their heads against this wall for years. The problem may be the schools' fault--after all, they educated the employers who now pursue such ridiculous hiring policies. But it has been a tough nut to crack. It's not the only problem in the job market--there are lots of new ones. But it's a long-time issue that you state very succinctly.

  41. "Suppose that at a Tier 2 school, the bottom half of the class takes the rebate and drops out at the end of the first year; they see the writing on the wall and understand that their job prospects are dim. What happens next? The students who were formerly in the second quarter of the class are now the bottom half; the top ten percent has become the top twenty percent....I can almost guarantee you that law firms won't fall for the line "Our bottom half dropped out after the first year, so only the top half remain.""

    Good observation that deserves exploration.

    It is indisputable that what will happen under Amar/Ayre's system is that 2L and 3L classes will be much smaller than they are now. In other words, if right you you have 1,200 students enrolled - 400 1Ls, 400 2Ls, 400 3Ls, under Amar/Ayres's system it would be perhaps 800 1Ls, 200 2Ls and 200 3Ls (random guess at the numbers but you get the point).

    It is also indisputable, and you are right, that someone who was top 10% of the 800 person 1L class will not be top 10% of the 200 person 2L class.

    However I don't think these two certainties make Amar/Ayres's proposal infeasible, because firms can easily adjust to this new world by using different cutoffs by class year. E.g. top 10% of your 1L class, top 50% of your 2L class and so on.

  42. Also, keep in mind that if you were previously graduating 400 3Ls per year, but now you're graduating only 200 3Ls per year - then suddenly the supply of new lawyers has dropped by half. Employment problem (a.k.a. supply/demand problem) solved.

  43. Another point related to the top/bottom problem: I think most law schools now award scholarships on merit rather than need--it's a way to buy the best gpa/LSAT numbers for US News purposes. So at most schools, students pay a sliding scale of tuition. A small number pay no tuition, and may even get a stipend for living expenses. A greater number (perhaps half to three-quarters of the class, depending on the school) pay discounted tuition of different amounts.

    But a significant percentage of each class (1/4 to 1/2, I estimate, depending on the school) pay full tuition. This group probably takes out more loans than the rest, although they may also come from wealthy families willing to pay the freight.

    We know that, for better or worse, LSAT and gpa correlate with first year grades (which in turn have a big impact on employability). So the students who pay the most tuition at any law school (and probably take out the highest loans, although I can't say that for sure without more data) are also the ones most likely to be in the bottom half after the first year and to struggle hardest to find unemployment.

    The bottom x%, in other words, supports their top corresponding x% with both tuition dollars and lower job prospects. On a sliding scale, this is probably true at every breakpoint in the class. I.e., the bottom 90% pays more and has more trouble finding jobs to support the top 10%. The bottom 75% does the same for the top 25%. The top half depends on the bottom half both to subsidize their tuition and bolster their job prospects.

    How the heck did we get to this point?

  44. "How the heck did we get to this point?"

    Greedy pursuit of tuition revenue. None of the concerns you articulate would exist if the total number of law school graduates matched the number of job openings. These top x% issues only matter because there aren't enough jobs for all the graduates.

  45. To the guy who uses this comment board as his personal diary, can you get your own blog? Im tired of reading your endlessly repeated thoughts on the situation. Your comments take up a majority of the posts here. Seriously, start your own blog. Please.

  46. Just read the Hoffman post. How utterly embarrassing.

  47. Here's Bruce Boyden of Marquette Law School:

    "Perhaps we should end every lecture, Cicero-like, with “Law school must be destroyed.”"

    According to the LST website, the self-reported, unaudited figures for the class of 2009 nine months after graduation were that:

    - the average student graduated with $110,147 of debt.

    - 8.9% of responders self-reported unemployed

    - 55.1% of responders reported salaries or Article III clerkships, 10.38% of responders self-reported private-sector salaries in at or under $45,000 per annum, 20.76% of responders self-reported private-sector salaries at or under $60,000 per annum. 43.4% of responders reported being employed but did not report their salaries at nine months. 1.4% did not report their employment status.

    - 71.6% of responders self-reported being employed full time in Bar/JD required employment.

    This evidence strongly suggests that:

    - At nine months, at least 28.4% of Marquette graduates were yet to find meaningful full-time employment requiring the education they received from Marquette.

    - At least 1/5th of Marquette graduates had an income at nine months after graduation which would mean that they would have to incur hardship to repay their outstanding debt, or simply not repay it.

    What do you think Bruce Boyden's ex-students would say to his proposal?

  48. And that's a very generous interpretation of the data.

  49. "55.1% of responders reported salaries or Article III clerkships"

    Of that number, 11.7% reported a salary of zero. So the number reporting non-zero salaries is actually 55.1% minus 11.7% equals 43.4%.

    This is what I don't understand about law school transparency's data. They say that 43.4% reported a non-zero salary, but 71.6% reported being employed full time in a job requiring bar passage. In other words, 71.6% minus 43.4% equals 28.2% reported having a legal job, but did not report a salary.

    How could that be possible? Why would close to one third of the class fill out a survey stating that they have a full time legal job, but not state their salary? I'd really like to see the survey forms.

  50. Here's one reason why law schools report a significant number of grads who have full-time employment but report no salary--and I got this direct from the head of career services at a law school: The schools survey students for employment and salary info, and many students respond. But the career services' offices don't have to rely exclusively on those responses. If student A walks into the office and says "Student B just got a job with x firm," and A seems credible, the office will record B as working for x firm. If x firm happens to be a BigLaw firm with a uniform starting salary, the office will also record the salary. But if, as in most cases, there's no clearly known salary for x firm, they record the grad as employed (and note the category) but don't record any salary.

    This is another reason why, intentional fraud aside, the reporting of employment data is unreliable--and why salary info is so heavily skewed towards the high end. The salaries for high-end jobs are the ones that are commonly known, so a career services office can fill in the blanks. Crazy, crazy system.

  51. Interesting...a post on a law prof rationalizing lies to his students about the realities of dropping out turns into an endless commentary about transparency by mostly "anonymous" commentator. I wonder why.

    This shit is getting so tiresome. Get your own blog.

  52. Isn't lying to your students about their dismal prospects the same thing as lack of transparency? How do you distinguish the professor's lie from the lie that the Law School Transparency folks seek to fight?

    Any way, I think you've fixated on ridding this blog of one commenter whom you dislike, and this fixation has morphed into the goal of preventing all discussion of transparency. That's not a healthy way for a person to spend his or her time. I recommend taking a break and smelling the roses before you drive yourself insane.

  53. Posted there (and here, in case it disappears):

    It is false to say that a "more rigorous disclosure regime" is "very, very expensive." The regime itself will cost almost nothing to implement. The cost to law schools whose tuition is not justified by their employment outcomes may be enormous, but that has nothing to do with implementing the regime. As it happens, law schools already collect and provide most of the information to NALP, although law schools and the ABA do their best to round off whatever sharp edges might protrude from the NALP's collation and analysis.

    NALP already collects the following information in its survey:

    So, in section 1, we collect some basic demographic information, including full- time versus part-time status, age, gender, race and ethnicity, and disability status. In section 2 we collect the employment status information, including whether the graduate is employed, enrolled in a full time degree program, not employed and seeking a job, or not employed and not seeking a job. In A2 we ask about whether they are volunteering if they are not working (this is a question that was added during the recession to try to learn something about students with a gap year of some sort). In A3 we ask about the type of job, whether it requires bar admission or not, and whether it is a professional job or not, and also ask if the job is full-time or part-time. Question 3 asks about the salary. Question 4 asks whether the job is temporary or permanent, Question 5 asks if they are continuing to seek alternative employment, Question 6 asks about the timing of their job offer, 7 asks the date on which they will start (and this was added to help us get a handle on the extent of the deferral phenomenon), and question 8 asks about the source of the job.

    I would also point out that NALP reports salary data back to the schools at the 25th, 50th and 75th percentile levels, even though the schools publish average or median starting salaries to cancel out the low salaries in the bimodal salary distribution curve common to law graduates. Again, for no more resources than are currently being spent, law schools could provide incoming students with a far more honest view of what they can expect to earn out there. They could certainly indicate how many people aren't reporting salaries at all, which also tells prospective students something about a law school. Needless to say, law schools aren't racing to meet any standard approaching full disclosure, unless they're being sued in federal court for fraud.

    In the future, try dismissing transparency reform for some reason other than its expense. It won't make the dismissal more intellectually honest, but at least it won't make you sound willfully uninformed.

  54. what happened to the CBS news post? Story get canceled?

  55. Bravo, Morse Code--I thought exactly the same thing about this point in Hoffman's post. Hadn't had a chance to respond yet, but will go register my support for your point!

  56. "In the future, try dismissing transparency reform for some reason other than its expense."

    I find it instructive to compare my experiences with the transparency survey to my experiences with the national census.

    National Census - They sent me the bubble form collecting all sorts of information. I filled it out and sent it back. Then they called me to take the information by phone. I told them I had already sent the form, but they said they wanted a quick phone survey as well. Then they called me AGAIN to do the exact same survey. Then they sent a guy to my door! It was a young blond 20-something (very possibly an out of work law grad) who was clearly trying to earn some extra money. So I gave the information four times.

    Job placement survey - My law school sent me a link to an internet site. I went in, filled out that I was unemployed but looking and that was it. What was odd was that this survey was done shortly before graduation, but they did not survey me again 9 months after graduation. I thought the numbers were supposed to be collected 9 months after graduation?

    Keep in mind that the US Census has to survey THREE HUNDRED MILLION people, where as the law school only had to survey about 300-400.

    Finally, I got nothing from the NALP at all. So if they're collecting stuff they didn't collect anything from me.

    Overall though - the fact that law schools try so hard to fight a simple 400 person survey is telling. You don't fight something that hard unless it affects you in a major way. You don't co-opt ABA committees. You don't willfully ignore data by using intentionally non-representative samples. You don't hire biglaw firms to fight very expensive litigation battles (the NYLS and Cooley lawsuits could probably easily be settled if the schools would agree to honest disclosure). You don't do these things unless your paycheck depends on it.

  57. There's another facet that's already been touched upon regarding the bottom 50%: it does help in subduing any attempt to fight the system. I'm about to start 2nd semester 2L at a tier 1, and I felt that if I don't make it, it's because I'm like in the bottom 80%. But after discovering these scamblogs, I realize that I'm not stupid. That the work you put into law school is not cognizant with what you get grades wise. It's taken a lot of convincing that this isn't my fault. Nor is it my fault that even after I graduate with this sham degree, not only will I be unprepared to work as a lawyer, but that law firms themselves refuse to train me because it costs money, so what do I do?

    I would quit, but my family refuses to allow me to, they're victims of the sunk cost fallacy....

    If I have a question on getting out of this mess, is it alright if I ask? I don't know where else to turn b/c my god forsake career services office/school faculty will be absolutely useless in this regard....

  58. Check out Hoffman's last comment. What interest does the public have in some of its brightest kids not working for three years, going heavily into debt that the taxpayer subsidizes, and then not being able to find work? What is the social utility of an unemployed new lawyer? You could argue that it lowers the costs of legal services. I'd also argue that it increases the amount of frivolous litigation as lawyers desperate to make loan payments take anything to court they can

  59. Upton Sinclair certainly comes to mind: "It is very difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

  60. Not surprisingly, he deleted my comment. I thought I was being civil, but maybe not. Maybe I was too repetitive in telling him that taking his CSO at its word is not as confidence-inspiring as he apparently believes. You decide.

    "I'm sure that you engaged your "law school career counselors at several schools" in a thorough and unrelenting quest for the truth, Dave. However, I can tell you that one of your neighboring schools in Pennsylvania recently asked two of its associate deans for career services to pack up and leave, in light of terrible employment statistics and non-improvement thereof. It's understandable enough - the employment stats are bad, alumni and university chancellors scream "Do SOMETHING!" at the dean, and the dean calls in a new broom or two to the career services office. However, it's equally understandable that present CSO employees would like the sunniest employment statistics possible to prevent the above scenario.

    Anonymous Internet commenter or no, I have provided you with a link to statements made by the Executive Director of NALP. NALP creates the employment surveys used by all but three law schools in the U.S., collects them and analyzes the data presented in those surveys. That Executive Director seems to think that he already provides you with a different but far more descriptive format for salary reporting, which your career counselors would need only to reproduce in place of the average or median starting salary statistic they now provide. Is merely transcribing NALP's 25th/50th/75th percentile salary format really going to bust the Temple career development bank? How about mentioning how many surveys returned actually provide data on one or more employment statistics? Is there no room in the average law school's barrage of pamphlets to say that only 50% of its graduates are telling them anything about what they made in their first year of practice?

    If you are the concerned and caring professor you claim to be, you owe it to yourself and your students to know - not just believe, but know - that your school is telling your incoming students everything it possibly can about your product. If NALP is giving you information in one format and your school sends it out in another format that obscures the thrust of the underlying data, then you should be asking why your school isn't being honest if the cost is no greater than your present reporting regime. Don't waste your time by telling me what you broadly support, or what you advocate. Tell me what it is that you'd actually do or say on behalf of your hypothetical student, if confronted with your employer's systematic effort to deceive him."

  61. @ 7:45, this is 7:43. Again, why would it cause increased litigation in courts? I can't do a fuc@ing thing with this J.D., let alone know how to bring a case to court!

  62. lol Hoffman is getting owned all over this thread even though he's censoring comments there. If you can't take the heat then stay out of the kitchen.

  63. @8:27 Seriously. I thought Morse Code's deleted comment, posted above, was actually quite civil. These academics are such delicate flowers! Such clueless, delusional, delicate delicate flowers.

    Wait until your student loan financed "legal academic" wankathon comes to an end, law professors. I don't care if it's in a few years, or a decade. I will be sitting there with a bucket of popcorn, laughing and laughing.

  64. Props to Deborah Merritt for successfully interpreting what I was attempting to say to Hoffman. I eagerly await his response, if one is actually forthcoming.

  65. Thanks to you, Morse Code for J, for leading all of us to the NALP presentation. I thought Hoffman's response to your first post was quite inadequate, so felt compelled to reply on his blog. And that was even before I saw here that he had deleted a second post from you! I see no good reason for deleting that second post--I, too, hope I'll get some type of response. Meanwhile, happy Thanksgiving to you.

  66. The one particularly assholish statement in Hoffman's post was:

    "I often tell people that hard work and caring more than other lawyers is the path to success, though I know that in life, social connections, being good looking/tall, and luck probably play just as much if not a larger role."

    What he's doing here is saying, "Look, I know you couldn't find a job. But don't blame me. it's because you have no friends, and because you're ugly and short and/or cursed."

    Ignoring the ridiculousness of his statement (take a look at our current SCOTUS to see the importance of looks/height to success). What kind of scumbag rips you off, and then when you to complain about it, starts insulting your personal traits?

    You're a f'ing pos Hoffman.

  67. Like Horwitz, Leiter, Althouse, Kerr, etc, Hoffman shows what side he's on. Notice his last footnote, where says he does not condone misleading statistics. Putting this in a footnote does a nice job of symbolizing the difference between people like this, and people like Campos and Tamanaha. I'd love to see any of these people point to a time in the past couple of years in which they've addressed the issue of deceptive statistics, poor job prospects for graduates, unrealistic expectations held by students, saturation of the job market, dramatic increases in tuition, or any of the rest of these issues in some fashion other than as an aside in a post primarily focused on attacking Paul Campos. So far as I know, that is the only time any of them see fit to mention these things at all.

    They have no credibility at all when they claim to be bothered by these things, because the make no effort at all to address them other than to attack their greatest champion and smear his arguments in the process.

  68. "A student" "they"? Holy pluralize the singular, Hoffman!

  69. I apologize for posting here on a topic related to this blog, but not directly to this post: the inability of legal academics without practical experience to deliver an education of value to students who will go on to become practitioners. This stems from a discussion over at Prawfs ( in which Dan Markel calls for "nuance" in critiques of legal academia, but in which he is deleting comments that, well, are too critical of legal academia. If Prof. Campos is willing to take on the many fallacies in Markel's post defending the education that law professors are currently providing students under the current "regime of intellectualism" (as Markel describes it), I would be most indebted. Meanwhile, I wanted to post here my argument for clinical-focused education, which Markel has deleted no fewer than four times today. (I apologize for possibly disrupting this thread, but it seems mostly to have run its course.)

    Because Markel recently posted about capital punishment, I used it as an example of the inability of law professors without practical experience to teach their students adequately, in order to furnish a detailed example rather than speaking in generalities. However, a similar comment could be written about any other subfield within law, illustrating why professors who have not practiced in these subfields are really not qualified to teach future practitioners. Imagine a 1L student drawn to capital work. To decide whether he will pursue this career, he might want to learn the following in law school:

    1. The law in this area - e.g., the substantive and procedural Eighth Amendment, about the state and federal postconviction processes including AEDPA and Teague, etc.

    2. The differences between being a capital prosecutor and defender; the differences between trial, direct appeal, and postconviction work. Each have unique challenges and suit different personalities. He will need to learn these from practitioners who know each type of work and to experience these subfields to the extent possible via clinicals or externship experiences.

  70. 3. What is involved in capital practice beyond what is reflected in the (federal appellate) caselaw traditionally taught in law school, e.g.:
    - Considerations used by trial prosecutors in deciding when to seek death (e.g. victims' families' wishes, funding, particular types of persuasive aggravators and mitigators, etc.)
    - How and when trial defenders should approach victims' families or prosecutors to seek capital charges being dropped before trial, e.g., when to offer a LWOP plea bargain (and when it is advisable to try to persuade a reluctant client to take it)
    - For both sides, how to death-qualify a jury in the manner most favorable to their goals
    - For prosecutors, how to prepare victim impact evidence
    - For defenders, how to put together a mitigation case
    - For appellate defenders, the practical/ethical quandaries that arise when confronted with clients who insist they want to volunteer for execution - e.g., is it ever appropriate to acquiesce in and fight for the clients' wishes to be executed, or should defenders continue to oppose their clients' wishes on competence grounds and fight for their lives?
    - For both sides, the ways in which imbalanced and limited public funding disadvantages the defense relative to the prosecution in many states and compromises defenders' ability to represent their clients zealously
    - All students interested in capital litigation may be interested in the emotional toll that working on capital "guilt-phase issues" (e.g. forensic pathology evidence) will take over a period of time, and may be interested in the advice of seasoned practitioners on how to cope when the strain of the work seems unbearable.
    Please note that I am not saying that all these things can possibly be taught fully in a semester or yearlong course. However, I contend that it is realistic to give students a thorough overview of these types of challenges, if the right professors (i.e., current or former prosecutors, defenders, and judges) are retained to do so - and further that it is not realistic to expect a professor who has never handled a capital case to teach these things adequately or at all (which is why it rarely happens today).

    4. Our aspiring capital litigator may want to read scholarship that describes the legal constraints he will face in practice and proposes creative-but-practical solutions to overcome them - solutions that stand some chance of being accepted by a reasonable jurist or adopted by the Congress or state legislatures, not "creative" scholarship that is only of interest to other academics because real-world decisionmakers will never accept it. And yes, he may wish to read theoretical articles about the purposes (or lack thereof) underpinning capital punishment - from people who can link that theory to the realities of American capital punishment that they have practiced and lived.

  71. At this juncture, the conventional academic protestation is that our hypothetical student can expect all these things -- just not from the tenured faculty. Most tenured academics seem to endorse a system in which they are only expected to contribute to #1, and even here often insufficiently (for instance, I note that it is rare for faculty to teach about the role of the state postconviction process to the same extent as "sexier" federal habeas proceedings). While in law school, our student is to look to clinical faculty (if available) or to practitioners found through internships or happenstance for #2-4. And, the tenured academics comment, absolving themselves of any responsibility to prepare students for practice realities: after our student has invested three years of his life to learn some theoretical aspects of a field (divorced from practical grounding) - which is all the value most tenured academics are qualified to add - it will ultimately be for practitioners to teach him how to be an attorney.

    I agree that this is the current system. It is largely created by law schools' choice to place tenured faculty with little/no practice experience at the top of the academic hierarchy. There is no intrinsic reason why this needs to be so, and I strongly dispute the system's desirability: more desirable would be to hire the qualified attorneys who could accomplish #1-4 if serving as professors.

    First, I often hear that it is unrealistic to think that law schools could hire many scholar-practitioners, even if they desired, because these practitioners are so keen to practice. I think these fears are overblown. Introduce a required clinical component to most classes after 1L year (thus using law student tuition dollars actually to benefit law students, rather than to fund faculty publications or to fund less profitable branches of universities). I.e., require students to take 2-3 subjects (each with a classroom + clinical component) each term. Place clinical faculty in voting roles at the top of the law school hierarchy, consistent with the fact that they are the ones qualified to train the next generation of attorneys. I think you will then have little trouble recruiting even committed practitioners to the faculty, because:
    - They will be able to continue to represent clients (with the added benefits of the clinical environment - the ability to screen for meritorious cases and the institutional support of the law school).
    - For many (in the non-profit and public sectors), their salaries will increase upon joining a law school faculty.
    - They will have few objections to writing practical, doctrinal scholarship of use to judges and practitioners.
    - They will not have to worry (as clinical faculty tell me that they currently do) that they are the devalued, red-headed stepchildren of the legal academy, deprived of voting privileges, tenure, and the best salaries the academy has to offer.

  72. Second, I think there is reduced purpose to studying constitutional, statutory, or regulatory law unmoored from the practical considerations who have shaped it, which is the experience that law schools currently offer. The people who are qualified to pair theory with practice, to describe the law alongside its underlying practical considerations, are the attorneys, judges, and policymakers who create and shape the law through their practices/jurisprudence. Imagine being taught Panetti v. Quarterman by a professor who understands its theory vs. a professor who understands its theory and can also describe to students how she has used that theory to advocate successfully for her clients who are mentally incompetent to be executed. For most aspiring practitioners (i.e. virtually all law students), the second experience will be far more desirable -- but the first is usually all that law schools currently offer them. The second experience is facilitated through my proposed emphasis on clinical hiring, analogous to the medical school experience in the two final years.

    Third, as with medical school rotations, my setup would allow students to experience a number of different areas in practice before leaving the law school. Within the current setup, because law students are "trained" to practice for the first time after leaving law school, it becomes more difficult for them to switch practice areas if they realize that their initial "guess" about their practice preferences was wrong. Their guesses are currently more likely to be wrong because their law school education, supplied primarily by professors who have little practical experience, does not fully qualify them even to make an educated guess. This system can be fixed by exposing students to practice in four to six areas of law during the 2L and 3L school years (plus 1L and 2L summer experiences, of course).

    Fourth, requiring law schools to assume part of the burden to teach students how to practice is equitable and realistic in light of the tuition dollars they receive. While it may be realistic to expect large law firms to train attorneys to practice (though increasingly less so in light of clients' objections), it is less realistic and wholly unnecessary to place the burden of training on cash-strapped prosecutor and defender offices, legal aid clinics, and small law firms. If the burden is to be placed on these offices, they - rather than inexperienced law professors - should be the recipient of students' tuition dollars.

  73. Yes, what happened to the CBS News post?

  74. @1.04 - I think it indicative of the excellent purpose this blog has served and should continue to serve that, having had a well-thought-out comment deleted on another blog, you should come here.

    Your point is well made. Poor legal education and scholarship can cost lives. The lawyer that represents convict X might be from any law school. He or she is distinguished from the average law graduate only by having a job and experience (which is, actually, something that distinguishes them from ~50% of law graduates).

  75. Anonymous "Markel reject" (for lack of a better term!)-- Holiday laziness calls, so I won't make a long post. But I want to take a moment to say that I think you offer a terrific list of the different things that a novice lawyer needs to learn. This is exactly the type of thinking we need in figuring out the best ways to reform legal education. I've been trying for years to urge both practitioners and academics to come up with specific lists like this. And, although I've compiled some of my own, I really like the way you have laid this out. You've given this a specificity that is very important.

    I would make a few tweaks, just as a way of making your presentation even more effective. All of us have had different experiences but, based on my own experience as a student and law prof, I think that many tenured faculty do a pretty good job with #4. Some scholarship from tenured faculty may be wildly impractical but a lot, in my experience, is "creative but practical."

    You may have had some bad experiences on this, but I bet that in the academy as a whole you would find a lot of seminars fitting #4. There's still a whole lot the academy doesn't cover, and it would be great to supplement #4 with perspectives of non-academics--so I don't disagree with your overall point. I would just personally acknowledge that the academy currently does some (I might even say a fair amount) of #4.

    My other suggestion relates to publications by clinicians. As someone who teaches part-time in a clinic (although I'm a pointy-headed tenure-track faculty member by training), and reads a lot of clinical scholarship, I would say that most clinicians do *not* want to publish on practical doctrinal law--and that their talents would be wasted there.

    The big value that comes from clinicians is their ability to write about many of the other issues that you have on your list. Clinicians, for example, are superb people to write about the imbalance in public-private funding (although some tenured academics have also tackled that one) or to explore the emotional toll of certain types of casework. That's actually where many clinicians currently write and where I think they offer the most needed insights. The problem clinicians currently have is that tenure-track faculty consider this scholarship "mushy emotional" stuff or "pure policy" rather than sufficiently related to legal doctrine. (I know, that sounds bizarre given what some tenure-track faculty publish, but there you have it.)

    Anyway, congratulations on coming up with such a perceptive list of the skills/experiences a novice lawyer should acquire! I hope to build on this discussion further at another time, and I may well use your list in some of the discussions I have on improving legal education. (I'd be happy to credit you by name in those discussions, by the way, if you want to email me your identity. But no need to do that--I just want to give credit where it's due.) Hope you've had a good holiday, DJM

  76. This thread was wonderful. Happy Thanksgiving all! It's great to see so many people spending so much time and energy because they are worried about our youth.

  77. According to Nando, DJM makes $240,000 as a professor at Ohio State.

  78. It's all a moot point. The legal establishment doesn't want lawyers coming out of law school who are practice ready. Biglaw partners are profitable because of leverage, and part of how they rake in their obscene profits is having warehouses full of unskilled TTT doc reviewers who are in a race to the bottom competing with each other to earn $20 an hour because that is all they know how to do. Imagine if thousands of practice ready lawyers were all of sudden pumped out at graduation? What would that do to shitlaw and biglaw partner profits? It's in the legal elite interest to have the law schools not teach practical skills and engage in 3 long, expensive years of mental masturbation.

  79. "According to Nando, DJM makes $240,000 as a professor at Ohio State."

    That's not new information. All tenured law professors make about that much. The difference is that she's spending her time trying to help end the problems with law school. Besides, if all law professors who make over $X can't be part of the scamblog movement, then there won't be any tenured professors here.

  80. "It's all a moot point. The legal establishment doesn't want lawyers coming out of law school who are practice ready."

    That's a new and interesting take, and it's not completely implausible (although the balance of evidence seems to be strongly against you with law firms pulling their hair out because their new associates can't do anything).

  81. If they are pulling their hair out, they have been doing it for years. Law school has never made graduates practice ready on Day 1. The people who are complaining were trained by older lawyers when they were young. They just do not want to do for newly minted lawyers what was done for them. They want to keep the money. American corporations are sitting on piles of cash,some making record profits, but they insist that everyone who works for them take less in the way of wages and salaries--from lawyers to sales clerks. Americans accept this as the natural order of things.

  82. That's true 10:49, and it causes me to recall a conversation with a T5 firm partner. He said that when he started, associates didn't make much (something like a $25k salary in 1976 IIRC) and so the firms didn't mind training associates. Associates weren't expected to do any real work their first few years, and they would go through a rotation.

    But now he says associates are expected to contribute to the bottom line on day one - which makes the lack of training problematic.

  83. @11:09--They were the ones who raised salaries high, and started to hire boatloads of associates beginning in the 1980s and bill them out at rates that increased their partnership shares. Before that, with smaller classes, more associates could be mentored and have a shot at becoming a partner. Clients had an interest in these young lawyers who might one day be their lawyers. Once firms went to the factory model, hiring legions of people they could not possibly mentor or make partner, but who were valuable for their billables, it became easy for everyone--clients especially-- to say that young associates were not, in their terms, "worth it."

  84. I wondered when my salary would appear in these comments--I'm a bit amused that it has taken this long.

    I'm not at all embarrassed about my salary. It's much lower than it would be if I had accepted any of the offers I've gotten from T14 schools over the years. It's also lower than it would be if I'd used any of those offers to negotiate with my dean--I've never done that.

    I've stayed at Ohio State--despite higher salaries offered elsewhere--because I genuinely like the students, faculty, and alumni here. I find the faculty here much more interested in teaching, in relating to students and the practicing bar, and in scholarship that is "creative but practical" than the faculty at other schools that have invited me to join them.

    I also particularly like our students: A significant proportion of them are interested in working as prosecutors, PDs, family lawyers, or lawyers for small businesses and regional companies. Until quite recently, our public-school tuition has made that feasible (and I'm working as hard as I can to make that feasible again). I also support students who want to work for BigLaw; I write lots of letters and make calls for them too. But the students here don't refer to work outside BigLaw as "shitlaw" and I like that.

    So what do I do for the money I'm paid? I've always devoted a lot of my time to teaching and legal education reform. I've moved around the curriculum to fill the school's needs and to create courses that students wanted. I agree with critics of the casebook method and worked with my colleague Ric Simmons to create an "uncasebook" on Evidence (more formally called "Learning Evidence").

    That book took a lot of our research/writing time to produce, because we wrote every word: No appellate opinions to cut and paste! And no rhetorical questions in notes; we had to nail down what courts actually say on everything we put in the book. We also edited mercilessly--with the help of paid student RAs--to make the text as accessible as possible to students.

    It seems to have been a success. In addition to its impact in Evidence, West has created a series based on our approach; they're signing professors to create similar books in other subjects. I spend a lot of time talking with West and professors around the country about how to create better, more practice-oriented materials for law school and about how to teach those courses. That time is not compensated by West; this is part of my working time as a professor. Ric and I are happy for other professors and West to build on our uncasebook idea, and we are willing to spend a lot of time talking to other profs about the idea, because we think it will help legal education.

    I also teach Legal Writing and Research as a tenured professor, co-teach our criminal defense clinic (which I love), and spend a lot of time on curricular reform both at OSU and nationally. Ric and I devote a lot of time to creating classroom materials for the Evidence course--not just for our own students, but for teachers and students nationally. We maintain a website where we provide materials for classroom simulations, hands-on demonstrations, and other materials. We seem to have a good following from professors adopting these techniques.

    That's a snapshot of teaching and some research/writing activities. I am going to make a second post on committee work and other research/scholarship because there's a point I'm leading up to here about how I have been rewarded for things that others say can't be done in legal education. So indulge me on this for one more post...

  85. So just one more post on what I do for those modestly big bucks--again, because I think it illuminates some important points about legal education. I do a lot of committee work, both for the law school and the university as a whole. Most of that I consider time well spent because it advances the interests of students. I frequently chair curriculum initiatives at OSU law: Last year we secured a professor-administered fall semester mid term (with professor feedback) for all 1Ls and an expanded, improved first-year legal research and writing program.

    I publish scholarship that I hope matters. And over the years I've found lots of audiences, sometimes in places I didn't expect. I'll describe just one piece, drawn from some of my work related to legal education. About ten years ago, I published an article with two social science colleagues in which we exposed a seriously flawed statistical method that state bar associations were using to persuade their supreme courts to raise the passing score on bar exams--making it much harder for new lawyers to enter the profession. The article persuaded at least three state courts to reject proposals for higher passing rates and ended that particular approach nationally. It's not the only time I've had a direct impact on something I cared about, but that one mattered to me a lot.

    This article, I think, is also an example of why scholarship (as a process) is important. The article was interdisciplinary: I could never have done it if I hadn't educated myself on statistics and joined forces with more expert social scientists who backed up my analysis. If I hadn't been in the academy, it would have been much harder to bring my legal knowledge together with the needed statistical insights. And the statistical flaw wasn't easy to see--it had fooled a lot of practicing lawyers an judges. It took us a lot of time, research, writing, and editing to tease the problem out and explain it in a way that bar associations and courts could readily apply. I'm not sure who outside the academy would have had the time to do that--there was no client to pay for that work.

    I also spend lots of time interacting informally with law students--in fact, I live on campus in an apt building designed for law students. But I don't count those interactions as something I'm paid to do, even if that's technically the case. I like to talk to students and law graduates--it's integral to everything else I do.

    I've written this in detail for a particular reason: If you look at online reports, you'll see that I'm one of the highest paid professors at Ohio State. I note that because I *have* been rewarded (both absolutely and relatively) for devoting a lot of time to teaching, to writing scholarship that makes a difference, and even for teaching legal writing and a clinic. I think that's somewhat unusual--I won't for a moment deny the prejudices that many legal educators have against those activities. Indeed, I spend a lot of my time fighting against those prejudices! But I think other academics often overestimate the forces against them if they want to do some of the things I've done. Sometimes you do get rewarded for doing what you believe in. Happy holidays, and thanks for indulging me, DJM

  86. When I read his post, I am just, as you put it... speechless. I just... I can't believe he would actually write those words. Think them? Maybe subconsciously. But write them? Out loud? for the world to read?

    It's just... It's inconceivable to me. If you're reading this, Mr. Hoffman, I want to emphasize that I mean this in the most "civil" way possible, as you complained - in a post where you all but BRAGGED about lying to students to keep that gravy train rolling along - that people had the NERVE to be "uncivil" in your comment thread:

    Fuck you, man. Fuck you.

  87. I think my second post fell into the spam filter, and that's fine--it was too long (as usual) anyway. Here's the point about salary I was building up to: I *have* been rewarded, both absolutely and relatively (you can check other OSU salaries) for doing things that many people say earn no reward in academia: devoting a lot of time to teaching, developing new classroom approaches and materials to support them, teaching legal writing and clinics, and writing scholarship that I think has an impact (I had more about that in my lost post).

    My case may be unusual. I won't for a moment deny the prejudices that many legal educators have against the activities I have focused on. Indeed, I have often spoken up vigorously against those prejudices. But I think other professors sometimes overestimate the forces against them if they want to pursue similar paths. If you care about students, good teaching, and scholarship that makes a difference, you can pursue those ends--and get rewarded--within the academy. Professors shouldn't claim that they'll be mocked or penurious if they do these things. Thanks for indulging my second post on this, and happy holidays, DJM

  88. "According to Nando, DJM makes $240,000 as a professor at Ohio State."

    You know,it's exactly this kind of self-defeating nonsense which holds the scam movement back. That DJM might actually be earning her salary does not seem to be a point worth considering to the people who quibble over this kind of thing.

  89. Thing is, DJM, as good as your work might be, your salary is still directly tied into the "scam". Your $240,000 salary is made possible only because law students are willing to pay 25 or 45 thousand per year for their OSU JD. And they are only willing to pay that much because they are on the wrong side of an asymmetry of information. They pay that tuition on a lie, and its the lie that makes your salary possible. Take away that lie, and there wouldn't be $240,000 laying around to give to you. You really would have to take up one of your T14 offers, because Ohio State certainly wouldn't be able to pay you. The typical Ohio State graduate will never see a $240,000 salary in their careers, and would be very lucky to see half that. If we could somehow give Ohio State 0Ls full and complete information about their earning potential, half would never enroll and the other half would demand a discount. Nobody would put themselves $100,000 in debt for the earning potential commanded by a Moritz JD. Only by misunderstanding the weakness of that earning potential do they agree to pay.

    This isn't to pick on you personally, I just happened to see your salary made public recently over at Nandos. But the size of the salary really is remarkable. A quarter of a million dollars a year to be a teacher. When I was a law student, I had no idea the professors made so much money. I believed that law professors made less money than the typical lawyer, although I'm not sure why. It turns out that professors are among the highest paid of all lawyers and that really surprised me.

  90. 5:55, I don't believe that Moritz's education is a scam. If I did, I wouldn't stay in this position. One problem with your comment--and some of the other "scamblog" comments here and elsewhere--is that you don't distinguish much among law schools and you don't have full data on the schools you criticize.

    75% of the students at Moritz already receive a discount; we give them scholarships that average $11,000 apiece. And, unlike the situation that apparently exists at other law schools, our students rarely lose those scholarships as 2Ls or 3Ls. I believe that only one student during the last three years has lost a Moritz scholarship. Our students also qualify for in-state residence by the end of the first year at latest. So your projections on the costs of a Moritz education are way off.

    On the other side of the equation, the majority of Moritz students do not come here hoping to earn $160,000. BigLaw does not figure quite as "bigly" here as it does at some schools. Students choose Moritz in part because the costs here will allow them to take other types of jobs.

    How does my salary compare to that of typical Moritz graduates? Well, I'm 56 years old and 31 years out of law school. I also graduated near the top of my law school class, got glowing reports from my law firm employer, and have a lifelong reputation as a very hard (even neurotic) worker. So I'm not sure the relevant comparison is to a "typical" graduate of any school. We'd have to look at people of my age and with a similar career history. In that group, I'm willing to bet that there are lots of graduates (from both Moritz and elsewhere) who earn at least what I do.

    I agree that there have been asymmetries of information, although I don't think that Moritz's website information has been nearly as misleading as data provided by other schools. I started pestering our dean about improving our site months before LawProf started this blog, and our new, more comprehensive data will be up at the end of next week. Meanwhile, Moritz's full employment stats have been fully available here in Ohio for many months--they appeared in the Jason Dolin article that LawProf posted about much earlier this fall.

    I'm fairly confident that Moritz will continue to fill its entering class, even with as much info as we and the blogosphere can load onto potential students. I'm also quite confident that we'll continue to graduate lawyers who provide real service to their clients and advance the rule of law in countless ways. The bottom line is that Moritz costs less than many schools, we provide generous scholarship aid, we have a faculty that is very engaged with teaching and students, and we have a number of attractive (and rather unique) programs for students and recent grads.

    If the students don't continue coming and paying tuition, I'll gladly go do something else. But I suspect I'll still be here in 20 years--and still bugging the dean about something.

  91. When I responded before, I didn't know what "Nando" was. I found out, and looked at his post on OSU--as well as the antisemitic comments by his followers. I would comment on the original post, but I'm too appalled by the antisemitic comments--together with the fact that Nando removed another (later) comment from the blog but not the antisemitic ones. Sorry folks, if this is the scamblog movement, I'm out of here.

  92. I am sincerely grateful for efforts by anyone such as DJM to make the instruction in law school something that might potentially be useful for possibly making a living in the law business. Most seem to agree that the arcane, inefficient socratic method and lack of practical instruction are big problems that leave graduates with very few practical skills.

    However, I wish to add that discussing how you package the snake oil, what bottle you put it in, how you label it, and what instructions are sold along with it evades the more important issues. There is simply far too much snake oil being sold, and the price that the snake oil is being sold for is far too high. Too many have bet the farm on the snake oil and lost.

    I refer to Brian Tamanaha's analysis that demonstrates with data that for at least a decade at least a third of law school graduates have not obtained a first job working as a lawyer. I know from my own observation that this was true at least two decades before. I also know from two decades of observation that a very large percentage of those who obtain a first job won't be able to find a second or a third lawyer job once they lose their first or second lawyer job and on and on.

    The emergent issue that urgently needs attention is how to shut down some snake oil salesmen and how quickly that can be done. There might be more efficient means to instruct graduate students in art history, medieval German literature or ancient Latin, but there are few ways to use that knowledge to make a living. Unfortunately, discussing reform in teaching completely evades the catastrophe that is happening. Law schools are selling far too many JD degrees, and they have been doing so for decades. Law schools are ruining people financially, and they are inducing them to their ruin with at best shady means and in the minds of most reasonable people, outright fraudulent deceit.

  93. 5:55,

    There are so many professors out there that you can call, email, blog about, whatever. You're too scared to pick up the phone and call one of your law professors and give them a piece of your mind, so you pick on poor DJM who has spent a lot of time trying to fix the problem.

  94. 1:01pm wrote, "The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function."

    I'm not so sure. Here's what I predict will happen in ten years. Annual tuitions will be $90,000. Biglaw will pay $250,000 to first years, justifying the tuitions. The number of law schools will have increased to 225. 50% to 75% of graduates will not find full time paying legal work upon graduation. But the 25% that do will be enough to keep it going.

    I really hope this blog is archived, because it will be really interesting to read them in 2021, when people reminisce about the "good old days" before legal academia was broken.

    And I'm not being facetious in any way. You'll see.

  95. 9:24 is completely correct, and this person:

    "And they are only willing to pay that much because they are on the wrong side of an asymmetry of information. They pay that tuition on a lie, and its the lie that makes your salary possible. Take away that lie, and there wouldn't be $240,000 laying around to give to you." delusional. But if it makes you feel better to think that was the only reason you went, or that everyone did, go for it.

    And DJM, sorry you did not earn your salary. You are paid that salary based on a false market of loans that are, unique to banking, stuck with your students forever. But keep telling those to yourself too....lots of rationalizing going on in here.

  96. @DJM:

    The scamblog movement is a big family, which means we have our share of drooling cousins. Even if you are far less frequently found here (and I wouldn't blame you), I appreciate what you've said already. Thank you.

  97. 5:55 here. I don't think its delusional. Law students pay the tuition they pay because they underestimate their earning power upon graduation. They underestimate it because they don't know enough about the situation they are getting themselves into. Most of that information isn't learned until after graduation, the hard way, when they see that jobs and salaries aren't materializing.

    Imagine an alternate universe in which the law student knows, before he enters law school, the exact outcome in store for him. He knows that he'll get a job for 30K. Or he knows that he'll spend a life as a temp doc reviewer. Or he knows that he won't find legal employment at all. How much is this person going to be willing to pay to go to law school? Certainly not the 100K+ he'd have to pay to attend Ohio State. It is only because he is ignorant about his future that he's willing to pay DJM's considerable salary.

    I would think that if people could agree on anything, its that 0Ls are not very well informed about the legal profession and they make their decisions based on very little information, clouded by their own biases and overestimations of their chances for success. And this is the only thing that makes $250,000 law professor salaries possible. I don't doubt that DJM is "worth" this salary insofar as she is superior to her peers and having her on the roster boosts a ranking somewhere. But my point is that none of them should be making anything close to this for what they do. And they wouldn't be if students were making more informed choices or, as you suggested, if lenders were limited to extending credit only to the degree that it wouldn't be likely discharged later in bankruptcy.

  98. 5:55 again.

    Let's really dissect this. Why would Ohio State pay DJM $250,000 a year? They pay her this to keep her from going to another school. Why do they want to keep her? Because her combination of credentials produces a high score as judged by US News. So having her on the roster lets Ohio State rank at 35, instead of 36 or 37 or 40. And Ohio State wants to rank at 35 because this allows them to say they are in the "first tier" and that they are "better" than all but the 34 law schools beneath them. It lets them say they are best law school in Ohio.

    But none of that means anything for the students' actual job and earning prospects post graduation. Ohio State's 35th place means nothing in the job market, as the graduates come to learn in the years that follow graduation. This provides no value at all to graduates, but it does fool prospective students. Prospective students think that 35th place and first tier actually means something. And as long as they think it, it doesn't matter if its true. If they think it, they'll pay it. That is the source of DJM's value, she's got the credentials that help fool students into overpaying for law school.

  99. I went to law school 12 years ago and knew going in that I needed to be in the top 10% to maybe have a shot at a good position. Did I rely on the stats my law school provided me? Hell no. Why would I do hat? Im moderately intelligent and know that when an institution has a vested interest and control the numbers fudging is bound to happen. I did some research, asked other lawyers, etc. You're just revealing your lack of critical thinking and seriousness before taking on such an endeavor. Hopefully you do more research than this for your clients before allowing them to jump into a lifetime of debt, prison sentence, whatever. Do you really believe that credit card regs in your statement are nothing else except to confuse the consumer of their rights? And this was before the internet really took off so I didn't have the advantage to people talking about these issues online. Today all of this is a google click away. But hey, everyone needs their rationalizations.

    And your analysis as to why DJM is getting paid what she's getting paid is ignoring a rather large gorilla in the room. A wise man once said, no money no problems. But hey I guess all I need to do is tell the govt that I wan to start a business based on BS (hardly anyone learns a practical thing in law school except to put up with the long self-puffing ramblings of people like DJM) and get them to finance my customers with non-dischargeable loans so they can buy my products! Voila! Instant price hike! Instant business.

    Your economic analysis does not overstate the old stereotype about lawyers and numbers.

  100. 10:10

    "At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this blog is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

  101. This isn't on topic, but I have a bone to pick.

    Often times in the media you hear the statement, " . . . more and more Americans find that they cannot afford any kind of legal help."
    See e.g. today's NY Times Op-Ed.

    But they never give you an example. If you're going to make that statement, then I want to see a person, what their legal issue was, how much they wanted to spend, and which lawyers rejected them. Without the data, the statement is as misleading as Cooley's job placement statistics. But you never get an example. You just get a bald "poor can't afford lawyers" statement.

    Does anyone know of a person who can't afford legal services?

  102. "You're just revealing your lack of critical thinking and seriousness before taking on such an endeavor [without disbelieving the school's job placement statistics.]"

    Has any judicial opinion in a fraud lawsuit ever made this point? In other words, is this the law or just your personal opinion? I hope it's the latter, because it's very callous. We still live in a civil society, and not in your "law of the jungle" existence.

  103. "Do you really believe that credit card regs in your statement are nothing else except to confuse the consumer of their rights?"

    In other words, you are equating some irresponsible person who goes on a bestbuy shopping spree with a credit card - that honestly spell out the interest rate in bold letters - with a decent young adult who wanted to contribute to the economy in a meaningful way, and who trusted the job placement numbers published by the institution.

    I understand that you may have a bunch of scumbag clients who don't want to pay for their 60" plasma television, but please do not equate their plight with that of a 21 year old top student who wanted to be a lawyer.

    You are a disgustingly immoral person.

  104. Transparency is just a starting point, just like medical marijuana is just a starting point for full legalization. The point has always been fewer law students educated at a lower cost. We need to protect the reputation of the profession in the long haul, not protect the short-term interests of administrators, professors, and biglaw partners. Law schools and the legal profession continue to suffer huge reputational hits as stories keep coming out. In time, this and other economic pressure may turn the public against some of the rules that protect lawyers from competition by non-lawyers because people will lose respect for the people who attend law schools. You have people equating law school recruitment practices with those used by shady culinary and beauty schools- in what world is this acceptable for the "honored" profession of law?

    DJM, I implore you to ignore the idiots and John Bircher-esque scambloggers and help us. I'm sure you've thought about the implications of law school reform on your own salary and perks. It would be nice if more of the professors associated with reform would share their thoughts on that, but for now just having your input is good for the movement.

  105. The nihilist's credit card example reminds me of a conversation I had recently with a friend. Well, not really a fried but I'll call him that. My friend had lost his job, and he used his credit cards to get a bunch of huge cash advances. Soon a notice of default came.

    What does he do? He starts screaming to me about all the "evil banks." I'm thinking to myself, "You just admitted that you essentially stole a bunch of money from the credit card company. You had zero intention of paying that money back. All they did is send you a default notice. What did you want them to do?!"

    One problem with modern society is that, since our youth have zero moral training, we are ready to call all of our enemies "evil" or "wrong" when sometimes the problem lies in yourself.

    Scamming a credit card company by borrowing money you had no intention of paying back is wrong. But that's not the same thing as borrowing $170,000 for a legal education because, based on the school's statistics, you assumed you could pay it back.

  106. 10:17, 10:22, 10:26, 10:32. 10:33

    Get your own blog you annoying troll. I always wondered what happened to those law students with zero social skills and who showed signs of Aspergers/ADHD/OCD/whatever that ruined every course with their narrow clueless ramblings that exhausted everyone's patience. Now I know. They are unemployable shrill hysterics who troll comments boards because they have nothing else to do with their time. This will be a long painful life for you. Get some therapy before you die frustrated and alone.

    I don't rely on the obviously fudged numbers of self-interested actors....there was awhile world out there telling me differently. You might want to join that world.

  107. a whole world out there*

  108. "I don't rely on the obviously fudged numbers of self-interested actors....there was awhile world out there telling me differently. You might want to join that world."

    You live in a callous, violent and cruel world where liars are right and those who trust them are wrong for having done so. You live in what I imagine hell is like. Not everyone had the misfortune of having whatever wretched background you came from, nor do they have your innate lack of morals.

  109. "Get your own blog you annoying troll."

    Since you are the one who doesn't believe in criticizing law schools for fraud, and who repeatedly attacks Ms. DJM - a very valuable member of our community - shouldn't you be the one who finds a different internet community?

  110. "10:17, 10:22, 10:26, 10:32. 10:33"

    P.S. I was only three of those people, but I think it's poetic justice that an amoral nihilist like you drives himself insane trying to guess which posts come from me, and in trying to remove me from this blog. Enjoy!

  111. Congratulations, you're admitting you're lazy and not that bright. I have a bridge to sell you, you sound like the perfect candidate.

    Again, get your own blog. You write more here than Campos does. You seem to have a very specific slant and I'm sure it will prove highly popular.

  112. I'm going to be on this blog talking about the law school scam as long as it exists. I picked this community because it meshes with my interests. I enjoy talking about law school transparency, lack of proper training in law school and other ways law schools take advantage of students and taxpayers.

    Now you have two choices, you can continue to obsess over me - and people you think are me - until you drive yourself insane(r) or you can train yourself not to be so invested in me. As unhinged as you are, I imagine the latter will be like a drug addict weaning himself off of crack.

  113. "law students with zero social skills and who showed signs of Aspergers/ADHD/OCD/whatever"

    I'd rather have all of those illnesses and many more, than to spend one day being a psychopath who has no capacity for empathy, morality or remorse.

  114. I laugh at obsessives like you, except that its whiny simpletons like you that failed to do basic research and aided your overlords in glutting the market with lawyers. Every comment section is dominated by your hysterics. I come back days later and here you sit composing essays saying the exact same shit over and over again. Say one thing for firms, we drum psychos like you out pretty quickly.

    But thanks for bringing back memories of law school. So do not miss pontificating, rationalizing academics who have no clue about the real world and their sad little fanboys/victims who never had a place in it. But again, you seem to have a lot to say so start your own blog instead of hijacking someone else's.

  115. Yes, Im a psychopath...I never believed law school's inflated BS numbers and was right....I only limited the amount of loans I took out and went to a state school with a scholarship. Such a psycho.

  116. What makes you a psychopath is your lack of empathy for those who were misled and your comfort with those who mislead. Those are two of the four badges of psychopathy as you can confirm by doing a Google search.

    Of course, obsessing over an anonymous internet commenter isn't helping your case. Are you able to let one of my posts go without reacting? Let's see how long it takes 5...4...3...2...

  117. You don't write the rules psycho...I'll react to whatever I want to react to. I used that when I was 12. Glad to see semi-adults still attempting it.

    Your limited world view is incredibly myopic and utilizes "black and white" thinking - look it up. Having an honest nuanced conversation is impossible here because of psychos like you. I have shit to do, a game to watch, a wife to hang out with. Keep typing troll...its what you do. And when I come back in a few days you'll be filling these pages with the same shit again and again and again.

    Good to see you finally admit how lazy you are though. You refuse to do basic research or start your own blog. See you in a few days, sad little troll...can't wait to read more of the same.

  118. Didn't take long. What's most disturbing is that I hadn't posted all Thanksgiving. My first post was today and not ten minutes later the heartless person attacked me and told me to leave the blog.

    Were we just coincidentally on at the exact same time or was he monitoring the site religiously over the past three days?

    Any way, I hope Lawprof starts to delete posts to moderate his emotions because this board could send the above poster over the edge.


  120. What about suicidal student loan debtors?

    Lives absolutely financially destroyed by the Law School scam?

    Oh Dear God! Oh Dear God help me!




    You, Campos, are a Monster.


  121. JD Painter Guy,
    Lawprof has posted about law school related suicides. I bet that if you emailed or called him he could help.

  122. JD Painter Guy, Please call 1-800-273-TALK (the national suicide prevention hotline). We care about you and want you to make it through this crisis.

  123. There are numerous verified studies that law school increases the occurrence of mental illness (severe stuff like depression) by a factor of five. That's a bigger harm than the deceit over job placement and lack of real world training combined if you ask me. What a putrid institution.

  124. Brian Leiter sounds death knell for the NY Times!

    November 26, 2011
    The NY Times Jumps the Shark...
    ...with this bizarre editorial:
    American legal education is in crisis.

  125. Leiter makes a good point about how increased skills training won't increase the number of jobs. His implied point seems to be that there are too many law schools. So why doesn't he just come out and say it?

  126. 10:10/12:49 etc., A word of advice: if you don't like other posters attacking you, then you should try to put together a coherent thought. Either that or stfu.

  127. Law School Fights Former N.D. Attorney General's Age Discrimination Suit:

    Nicholas Spaeth, the former attorney general for North Dakota, first sued the school on July 28 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Spaeth claims that despite his vast experience as a lawyer, [Michigan State University College of Law] passed him over for a teaching job because he was too old.

    The school moved for dismissal on Oct. 14. Less than a month later, Spaeth filed an amended complaint on Nov. 7, this time against Michigan and five additional schools and their representatives. On Nov. 21, Michigan renewed its motion to dismiss, and asked in the alternative that the court separate it from the other defendants and move the case to U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. ...

    The other schools now named in the lawsuit include University of Missouri School of Law, University of California Hastings College of the Law, Georgetown University Law Center, University of Iowa College of Law and University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

  128. Leiter is right, but he and his fellow professors deserve to take the heat for this until they speak up and start making case against market saturation and overwhelming debt. So far, they've wanted to sit on the sidelines and pretend like this isn't their problem. But by doing so, they allow people such as NYT opinion writers to invent their own theories, ones that put the blame even more squarely on the professors. That is their own fault.

  129. Does anyone know of a person who can't afford legal services?

    How about every single person who uses all the law school clinics out there? My school's clinics never ran out of clients - we had to stop taking them after a certain point in the semester. And there were lots of people contacting us whose cases weren't appropriate for our clinics to begin with. There are TONS of people who can't afford legal services.

  130. Sorry- this is unrelated to this post but deserves comment by Paul: its a rant against letters of recommendation published at a international politics blog Duck of Minerva - hilarious and relevant:


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.