Monday, March 5, 2012

Methods, sound and unsound

  COLONEL KURTZ
"Where are you from Willard ?"

  WILLARD
"I'm from Ohio, sir."

  KURTZ
"Were you born there ?"

  WILLARD
"Yes, sir."

  KURTZ
"Whereabouts ?"

  WILLARD
"Toledo, sir."

  KURTZ
"How far were you from the river ?"

  WILLARD
"The Ohio river, sir ? About 200 miles."

  KURTZ
"I went down that river when I was a kid. There's a place
in the river.. I can't remember... Must have been a gardenia
plantation at one time. All wild and overgrown now, but about
five miles you'd think that heaven just fell on the earth in the
form of gardenias...
-- Apocalypse Now --

I encountered several prospective law students on Saturday. They had been admitted to the University of Georgia, and were visiting the school as part of their decision-making process.  I asked them some questions about that process and learned that these students, at least (of course I don't have any idea how representative they were of current 0Ls in general), seemed fairly wary of the costs of going to law school, given their sense of the likely benefits.

For instance, one of them had a very high LSAT score paired with a relatively low GPA (a "splitter" in the jargon of the business), and had been admitted to to some very expensive top 20ish schools who were not offering him any scholarship money.  I was struck by his straightforward insistence that he simply wouldn't consider them at sticker price, given that the cost of attendance would be more than $200K.

Instead he was considering some lower-ranked schools that would be far less expensive to attend.  For example, the University of Alabama had offered him a scholarship that would cover three-quarters of his tuition cost, assuming he kept it (He also seemed quite sophisticated about "stips" -- that is, the stipulations schools put on scholarships in regard to academic performance.  All the students I spoke with had read David Segal's New York Times pieces on this and related subjects).  Interestingly, Alabama had flown him and several dozen other scholarship admits in for a recruiting weekend. The school paid for airfare and lodging -- something that must have added up to several tens of thousands of dollars.

I hadn't been aware that schools are actually paying 0Ls to visit, although given what else they (OK we) are spending money on, it makes sense. It probably makes more sense to spend $50,000 to fly people to your school and put them up for a couple of days than to spend money producing the garish "law porn" -- promotional materials advertising the school's virtues and accomplishments -- that has become ubiquitous in the age of the USNWR rankings.  Given how sticky institutional reputation is among law schools, this kind of thing seems like an almost complete waste of resources, both arboreal and human.

Anyway, all this indicates prospective law students are perhaps becoming savvier consumers, although I doubt a two-day campus visit really gives people much useful information about whether they ought to go to that particular school.  For example on the right sort of spring day Boulder, Colorado can pretty much appear to be heaven on earth. (Also, I gather the admissions people are careful to funnel prospective students to the "right" classes.)  The job situation, however, remains largely invisible.

***

They say there's no such thing as a free lunch, but if you're in Palo Alto or environs today there's a free lunch in room 190 of the Stanford law school building, where Deborah Rhode and me I will be discussing the present and future of legal education with what from all indications will be a highly engaged group of students.

64 comments:

  1. Stanford students are usually highly engaged.

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  2. "where Deborah Rhode and me will be discussing the present and future of legal education..."

    Maybe you should discuss the present and future of English grammar. Me/I.... who cares?

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    1. What's sad is the using me instead of I is completely grammatical to a descriptive linguistic...but a prespective linguistic wouldn't know the difference...people who act as grammar police are typically aspiring to rise in middle class...studies were conducted in the 1960s and 70s that found this phenomenon is known as "hypercorrection"...

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  3. I have noticed that the prospective law students I now talk to seem savvier about the job market, scholarships contingent on grades, manipulated figures, etc. Thanks to our collective work, including David Segal's series on "legal education" and members of Congress taking an interest in the issue, people are becoming more skeptical when it comes to the claims made by law schools.

    In the end, I don't have much faith in the legislative process leading to any significant change. We are aware that there is a small group of people - mostly wealthy businessmen - who run the country. They tell/persuade their legislative pets/pawns known as "lawmakers" how to vote.

    However, seeing that this nation's economy is consumer-based, we can impact the law schools. As corporate entities - whether "non-profit," for-profit, public or "private" - these pigs care about their perception. This is why many now hire PR departments or firms to highlight their "accomplishments" - and accentuate all positives - while working to bury and deflect any negative stories.

    Paul, if law schools - especially decent ones such as Alabama - are paying airfare and lodging, this is a GREAT sign that they are feeling the affects of the truth being published. However, unlike the major college football and basketball programs, the law schools will not be handing away full scholarships. Plus, they cannot point out their strength of schedule, games on ESPN, or mention how they will be big men on campus.

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  4. "feeling the effects" - for the grammar police.

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  5. "The school paid for airfare and lodging -- something that must have added up to several tens of thousands of dollars."

    Wow. Well, ladies and gentlemen, that right there tells you what a cash cow students and their loans are. What won't these scumbags do to keep the free money flowing?

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  6. It would be interesting to have a side by side film sequence of the school wine and dining the 0L's and the third year associate, non-lawyer, barista, drinking alone in his or her small apartment, writing the huge check to sallie mae.

    The school's program sounds like the flordia real estate seminars from the housing market froth years.

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  7. I wonder if that particular behavior -- flying in prospective matriculants -- represents a rational economic choice by the school or is a desperate move to try and pull in kids with top-end LSAT scores.

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  8. A little off topic, Paul Caron had an interesting post yesterday
    http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2012/03/the-real.html
    showing that from 1955 to 2007 the number of law degrees conferred went from about 7500 to about 44,000. MD's, by comparison, went from about 6,000 to about 15,000. No wonder there are no jobs.

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  9. @5:39, I was going to say something, but restrained myself. At least you put it on the table.

    It is interesting that you are going out to talk to students.

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  10. I am the pre-law teacher at an large, public undergrad. There is a huge, growing split in my students, as I have said before. There are the smart, savvy students who know how to work the system to their benefit. These students know exactly what they are doing, and they will be fine. The heartbreakers are the students who end up at lower-tier schools, with no money, because they insist that law is their ticket. They will not consider any evidence that conflicts with their long-held beliefs that all lawyers are well-respected and well-paid.
    What we will see in the future are the smart, savvy students with great credentials doing great work after graduation because they have little debt, and another class of lawyers who come from lower-tier schools, embittered and poor, doing anything to survive. It does not bode well for the legal system.

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  11. Agree with everything except even for grads with no debt, still no jobs. and too many new lawyers.

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  12. We have always had a bi-modal profession. Law has never been the "ticket" for everyone. And what does it mean to want,or have, a "ticket"?

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  13. 6:54, you are right. there are classes developing within law schools and after graduation. those with the option will work in jd-required jobs, if they can find them, and sometimes they will do internships for no money so as to ingratiate themselves with their future bosses. people with massive loans can't do this. they're stuck.

    the system is set up to make the advantaged even more advantaged, and the disadvantaged even more disadvantaged. oh, and it's unsustainable.

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  14. 5:39: Thanks for the grammar tip. You're a real (uber)mensch.

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  15. Which argues for making the split formal, by having lower cost alternative schools for people who want to be lawyers, but do not want to incur massive debts. This will not create more jobs, but people who attend these schools will not be as swamped during the inevitable ups and downs of the market.

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  16. The legal profession is a sinking ship. The ABA and the law schools are throwing heavy anvils in the ship to accelerate its trip to the bottom of the ocean.

    Attorneys' fees are being slashed. Attorneys are working more hours than before to make less. Yes folks, welcome to the race to the bottom of this profession. Remember, last one to arrive gets to turn off the lights.

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  17. 7:25: I'm not sure that students would voluntarily attend the "community" law schools. The people in the latter group are generally not very informed consumers. If cost was their concern, they would already be waiting for spots at relatively low-cost state law schools to open up or retaking the LSAT until they can get a better scholly. For them the high cost of law school is actually evidence that law school is a good idea, because no school would cost that much and not be able to deliver on it's promises of 98% employed at 160K starting salary- right?

    I bet you couldn't convince them to attend a practice oriented law school anymore than you could convince them to attend a community college or vocational program in lieu of going to an expensive undergrad and majoring in history or poly sci. We have a real cultural aversion to vocational or practical education that is a serious problem for our country.

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  18. I am actually one of the prospective students who spoke with Prof. Campos. I agree that it has been very difficult to make a decision based on visits to law schools. Overall, schools seem to present largely unrepresentative information and have us interact with unrepresentative students.

    For example, Alabama presented all sorts of information about how "well" they place out of state, brought in alumni who have been successful out of state (not coincidentally, all had graduated long before 2009), made sure tour guides were out of state 3L's with good jobs lined up, and had us eat lunch with students that seem to be doing well for themselves. The director of career services even went so far as to tell us that he rejects the statement that Alabama is a regional school, and truly believes that it is a "national" school. If one were to make a decision solely on the information provided on these visits, it would seem like Alabama would be a solid choice for an out of state student. Where conventional wisdom provided by students online--really the only place for prospective students to get real information not provided by the law schools themselves--is that it is a terrible choice to go to a school outside of the top 14 without ties to the area.

    It has been extremely discouraging to find out all this information after I spent a lot of hard work on the LSAT and spent a lot of hard earned cash on the whole admissions process, but the information provided on sites like this and other sites where students voice their experiences are invaluable. Please keep it up, Prof. Campos. Your insight is a very valuable tool for prospective students.

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  19. Bored3L with the KO knockout in the first round. I'd rather get my Macc at this point, but my parents are literally begging me to go to law school. They'd drop 200k for me to go. No matter what I tell them they always respond with the special snowflake argument: "You'll graduate in the top 10% of your class!"

    Anywho, Pitt is paying for me to stay in a fancy schmancy hotel the night before their open house. I'm coming ready with all of the questions from here, JDU, ATL, and Third Tier Toilet.

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  20. @ 8:29:

    It has been extremely discouraging to find out all this information after I spent a lot of hard work on the LSAT and spent a lot of hard earned cash on the whole admissions process

    It is hard for anyone to truly accept the economic concept of "sunk costs," myself included. You shouldn't spend three years and 200,000 because you spent six months and 3,000. If the deal is bad, walk away.

    You seem reasonably well informed. Or at least skeptical. Keep your eyes open, and don't let how far you are down one road keep you from taking another.

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  21. 8:29 (and other prospective students): The best people to go to for real advice will be at the large mixers with every admitted student present. Admissions cannot funnel who goes into these events. I remember at my ASW it seemed like the same group of people were tour guides, panelists, and met with students in the lounge. They were all well-dressed and seemed to be involved in a lot of school activities and have a lot of pep about the school. Still, their answers were hollow and lacked authenticity. Then I went to the general ASW mixer. There the first person I talked to was a 3L who had shown up wearing a t-shirt from our rival school that he'd clearly got at an ASW 3 years before. People who had clearly come just for the free booze. Their answers were much more authentic.

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  22. @7:47-- that sounds like "a little bit of learning"...

    @bored3L you may think no one would sign up for those schools, but you may be wrong. It depends, as does everything, on how they are sold. This raises the question what it is that people really want? From the very beginning, people on this site have railed against law school costs, while pointing to what they thought were the reasons for those costs--faculty that focused too little on teaching, the high cost of law review scholarship and other things. Now, the question comes, is it worth it to create schools that do not do those things? The answer comes back that "No,that will not work because people will not go" or "No, it would not be fair to create what was called another "tier" of law schools. Shouldn't people who want to be lawyers have the shot at doing that without incurring so much debt? Begin to reshape people's thinking about the question. Not everyone is going to operate at BigLaw or other "prestigious" places. Make that choice before you go in.That is by no means to say that people will not have satisfying careers if they do not go for prestige, or that they will never do great things. They may be more satisfied in the long run and do great things.
    In most places in the world, students are forced by age 18 to choose their path to careers. Twenty-two is not too early to do that.

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  23. Student @8:29 - Im still amazed how these snakes could still lie through their teeth knowing the whole time the financial situation they are putting you in. "This used to be a country where we made things. Now its about how deep you can get your hand in the next guy's pocket."

    Student @8:31 - anyway you can record the Q&A (your portion) with your phone or another device? Would love to hear it go down or at the very least read a transcribed version.

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  24. I do not believe that the prospective students you spoke to are at all representative of the typical 0L. It is terrible that a school like Alabama claims to be a national school. Maybe truth in law school reporting remains the primary purpose of the reform movement.

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  25. LOL at Alabama claiming to be a national school. I have been an attorney for over 20 years in the NYC metro area legal market. I have yet to meet an Alabama Law alum in that time. Perhaps "national" is confined to the South.

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  26. @9:11
    I think choosing a career isn't so much a function of age as it is one of experience/exposure.
    Think about it: how can anyone really know if they want to be a lawyer - or a doctor or an engineer or profession really, unless they either a. work as one or b. work with one and see how they operate. Other than that, you can only go by what others tell you (i.e. everyone who goes to our school finds a job and makes a lot of money so sign those loan papers) or what you make up yourself to fill in the gap (People who go to this school must do well, otherwise why would they drop so much money to go?).
    The problem then, with making 18 year olds choosing their careers is they probably don't know much (if anything) about it. It's not like high schoolers can go out and get internships - usually those opportunities don't come up until a year or two of college.
    Same with 22 year olds if they haven't gotten a chance to work with lawyers yet.

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  27. @9:19 PA's wiretapping law is two-party consent. I could record a panel discussion without consent but not a private conversation. I'll see what I can do for the latter.

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  28. Maybe national at Alabama means bible belt? Does the rest of the country exist to them?

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  29. @9:34 is absolutely right. I was 30 years in practice in the Mid-Atlantic and have never met an Alabama grad or seem an Alabama resume. Don't go to Alabama unless your sights are set on the South.

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  30. I would give anything to be at the lunch discussion you and Deborah Rhode are having. What is her take on all of this? Will you report back?
    Thanks for all of your good work, LawProf. The rubber seems to be hitting the road in a number of ways.

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  31. @9:35 I understand what you are saying. But making that choice at 22 is likely to be better than making it at 18, and most people in the world who become professionals are on that road at 18. Certainly even pre-med folks are on that road well before 22. If people were forced to think about this in the context of a system that provided, at least, two clear choices about what route to take, the true nature of the legal profession would become clearer. If I try for this type of school,this is what I have the right to expect. If I get into that kind of school, this is what I can expect.

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  32. Paul Horwitz, if you think these are issues worth paying attention to, then why don't you? You never write about any of this other than in response to Paul Campos and usually to make the point that the problem is not as bad as Campos makes it out to be. That doesn't contribute towards reform, that reinforces the status quo.

    What are you doing to encourage reform?

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  33. Hopefully this elucidation of 0Ls continues. The mainstream press is picking up on student loan defaults more and more. This article even notes that the default rate - which is high - is understated.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-05/student-loan-delinquency-reached-85-billion-in-third-quarter.html

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  34. @10:38
    I get what you're saying as well. I think I was a bit more argumentative than I meant to be (hooray for legal education!).
    I agree that clarity would be a good thing, for students to know how far their degrees could take them.
    I guess my take (Caught myself typing "counter") is that it also would be good for 0Ls to have an avenue to experience either of those two paths before having to commit to law school, to figure out which they could handle/which would provide what they are seeking.
    It would be awesome if both things happened.
    I don't totally agree though with professionals being on their way at 18 still - I know people who got started with college later in life, and similarly a large amount of people in college who changed majors halfway through, realizing that the original profession they were aiming for wasn't actually what they wanted.
    But I totally agree that clarity in what these people were getting into would have helped them in making their initial decisions.

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  35. @shaggyredhair--you are right. We in the US have a system that allows people to play around for a long time, as compared to what happens in other countries. I think there are good points and bad points to that. But having different types of law school would not prevent people in their mid-twenties, say--or even older-- from picking one kind of school over another. There is no way for people to know for certain, until they do it, whether they want to spend their entire careers as lawyers. But you can have a rough idea. This way, people who want to go the route of "prestige" can do that--and pay for it. Those who do not want that, but want a good, basic, affordable legal education can do that, too --whenever they are ready.

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  36. I wasn't sure what 11:08 was referring to at first, so I wanted to draw readers' attention to Paul Horwitz's response to this post, available here: http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2012/03/on-wining-and-dining-admitted-students-.html#more

    I thought it was a reasonable look at the reasons why it may make sense for Alabama and similarly-situated schools to use the ASW/wine-and-dine approach to attract the best possible students for whom the school in question is a reasonable fit. I would need to know whether Alabama is able to place all of its graduates in full-time, indefinite jobs as practicing attorneys (or at least, whether it was/is able to do so apart from the outlier Classes of 2009-11) to know how much issue to take with Horwitz's post still sounding too friendly to the academy's status quo, as I suspect that it is. But I think that his post offers some interesting explanations for why schools - especially in geographic locations that are not widely sought after - want to bring prospective students to campus. And if students come skeptical and ready to push professors and administrators with lots of questions about tuition costs, post-graduation employment statistics, etc., ASWs might indeed be quite productive. I think that 0Ls with good statistics actually have more power than most of us alums to dictate law school reforms, because they collectively have a lot of purse power.

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  37. I have no doubt that a truly exception student from Alabama could get placed in Biglaw, even beyond Atlanta. Whether she can beat the odds and finish up a 6th year (let's not even start thinking about partnership) is another question, and is likely going to depend on social capital acquired outside Alabama. (The same is true of HYS, actually).

    Outside the truly exceptional, I'd imagine that Alabama is a terrific school for people who want to practice in Alabama -- way better than HYS for this -- and perfectly fine for people who want to spend their careers in the region. And there's nothing wrong with this: millions of people (and probably thousands of lawyers) lead perfectly fine lives in the South.

    CC

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  38. I've kind of been 'geography guy' in commenting now and then, and this post gives me another opportunity to bang on it.

    To a fairly large extent, hiring isn't national but local. Even for a grad from T14, who did well, lots of employers are looking for ties to the community. And why shouldn't they: that's what actual success in the practice of law is made of. Your LSAT score, how clever you were in that law and sociology seminar, the fact that you went to Georgetown -- these things don't hurt you most places, but they're no substitute for having grown up somewhere, and known (and been respected by) people likely to be clients.

    And look at the 'respected' aspects of the profession. Respect doesn't come from having a JD -- it's about length and quality of ties in a community. Yes, of course, an exceptional person can migrate, and ht the ground running. A truly exceptional person. For most of us, if we want to be lawyers, we should stay close to home, build community (legal and non-legal) ties before, during, and after law school, and live like an engaged member of our communities. It's hard to see how attending law school halfway across the country is going to fit into this.

    CC

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  39. There's a guy that posts regularly under the handle "cowgod" at JD Underground. He is an Alabama law graduate who works in a pizza place.

    I'm not saying that he is representative, but I guarantee that he wasn't there visiting prospective students.

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  40. "To a fairly large extent, hiring isn't national but local. Even for a grad from T14, who did well, lots of employers are looking for ties to the community. And why shouldn't they: that's what actual success in the practice of law is made of. Your LSAT score, how clever you were in that law and sociology seminar, the fact that you went to Georgetown -- these things don't hurt you most places, but they're no substitute for having grown up somewhere, and known (and been respected by) people likely to be clients."

    This does turn out to be true - although it's not always about "having grown up somewhere, and known (and been respected by) people likely to be clients."

    I am an HY graduate who had zero connection to the Bay Area while I was in law school, but decided that I wanted to move to San Francisco and spend my career there. (I omitted the S from HYS in the preceding sentence for obvious reasons.) I had a very difficult time with Bay Area law firms during 2L recruiting and managed only one offer in a good economy, even though I received several offers from East Coast law firms. I took the one offer, moved to San Francisco, passed the California bar, and reapplied to the six or so large SF offices in which I was interested. I got offers from all of them - even though they'd all rejected me for a summer associate position a couple years earlier.

    When I discussed this with the recruiting coordinators at the law firms, they stated that they were reluctant to hire East Coasters without ties to California, because it was very common for law students to summer in California, view it as a "vacation," and then move back to the East Coast. They were more comfortable, but still cautious, about hiring young attorneys who had at least passed the California bar and experienced living out here for a year - though they were still nervous that East Coasters would ultimately want to move closer to their parents and original friends. It actually took five years of legal experience in the Bay Area before people stopped grilling me about my California bona fides in interviews and accepted that I had genuinely transplanted. In the large firm/private sector context, this seemed purely to be a concern about whether they would lose their "investment" in training me were I to leave too early.

    When I transitioned into criminal law, I discovered that DA and PD offices were much more interested in ties to the community for the reason that you state. Those employers want people who feel deeply rooted in the communities in question and care passionately about improving them. And after having lived in the Bay Area legal community for several years, and now being absolutely committed to staying here in the long-term, I was able to describe my passion for this area and desire specifically to serve the local community in a way that I could not have done immediately upon moving here. I suspect that for smaller communities, both public and private sector employers will look for this - and in the private sector, it will be for the reasons that you state - your being known and respected by people who are likely to be clients.

    I think there's nothing wrong with attending a T14 school in a location other than where you want to practice - but it is very important to spend your 1L and 2L summers where you want to practice and to put down as many roots in that community as possible (community service, etc.)

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  41. If a casino put together a vacation junket to entice recent college grads into borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars and betting it all on one spin of the roulette wheel, that would be more honorable and more responsible than this "recruitment weekend" sponsored by Alabama Law.

    First, the gambling debts would be potentially dischargeable in bankruptcy, but the education debts will stick forever like a scarlet IOU.

    Second, wins or lose, the gambler would not have to spend three years in the casino prior to even being allowed to place his or her bet.

    Third, at 50-50, the chances of a substantial finiancial return on the roulette wheel are much greater than the chances of a substantial return on an entry-level JD.

    dybbuk

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  42. Nothing schocks me anymore in terms of the depths schools will go to ensnare 0Ls. Hastings has sent me three emails in the last month, practically begging me to shill for the school at a local event because highly desirable prospective students will have competative offers from other law schools. I refuse to be co-opted.

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  43. To go to Alabama expecting to work outside of Alabama or possibly Georgia is a mistake. If you do get a job, you should expect that you will stay local.

    Alabama is misrepresenting itself. Why doesn't that surprise me?

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  44. Hope the Stanford trip went well! :)

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  45. "To a fairly large extent, hiring isn't national but local. Even for a grad from T14, who did well, lots of employers are looking for ties to the community. And why shouldn't they: that's what actual success in the practice of law is made of. Your LSAT score, how clever you were in that law and sociology seminar, the fact that you went to Georgetown -- these things don't hurt you most places, but they're no substitute for having grown up somewhere, and known (and been respected by) people likely to be clients."

    Bingo. I grew up in the south, but for a while I really wanted to practice in D.C. In choosing between Vanderbilt and Georgetown, I decided it would be plausible to get to a D.C. firm from Vanderbilt, although less likely than G'town, but if I wanted to come back home, Vanderbilt was the better choice. It was a gamble, and I'm very grateful I chose Vanderbilt. I suppose it's possible I'd have been able to stand out from 600 other students at G'town, but it was always a risk.

    Recently, when after viewing at blogs like this, I started to try to find how my classmates were doing 10 years later. What stuck out to me most were not the quarter or third of the class who went biglaw in NYC/DC/Boston/Chicago. What stuck out to me was that of those that didn't, went to regional firms in southern and midwestern cities---and they are still there, because they made partner, while many of the big city folks have bounced around from mega-firm to mega-firm, some before going in-house or something of the sort.

    In short, while many who say Vanderbilt is not as much of a "national" law school as the top 14, that regionalism protected some of us. Because honestly, in the vast majority of the south, Vanderbilt might as well be Harvard or Yale to many legal employers in the region.

    Having said that, while it made sense for myself and others a decade ago, I don't know if I could justify it today at twice the price.

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  46. "Anywho, Pitt is paying for me to stay in a fancy schmancy hotel the night before their open house. I'm coming ready with all of the questions from here, JDU, ATL, and Third Tier Toilet."

    Excellent. If this could happen a few hundred times this spring, some headway might be made. It doesn't even have to be confrontational- in fact it would be better if it is not-but they'll get the message.

    For example:

    "I've noticed that the employment statistics do not delineate between legal employers and other employers. Is there a reason your law school does not list each employer of a 2010 grad?"

    "How many members of the graduating class--and I'd like an exact number if one is available--are included in the group from which you draw your median salary"

    If, at any point, someone says that it is impossible to track members of the graduating class hit them with one of these:

    "So no one in your career services office can utilize facebook or google?"

    "Don't all the big firms have online profiles of their associates?"

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  47. "The school paid for airfare and lodging -- something that must have added up to several tens of thousands of dollars."

    Not a bad investment, really. If they land a few students and bump their average LSAT by a point, they can cover the whole expenditure by admitting another transfer student or two willing to pay out-of-state sticker price, and the 149 that person got on the LSAT last year doesn't even count against them!

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  48. 6:54 - absolutely agreed.

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  49. And those questions should be asked in the largest forum possible. Preferably when all the prospective students can hear.

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  50. Col. Walter E. KurtzMarch 5, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    "The law school scam--the horror...the horror!"

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  51. "It's a way we had over here for living with ourselves. We'd cut their careers and futures in half with a student loan machine gun and give 'em a Band-Aid called 'networking'. It was a lie. And the more I saw of them, the more I hated lies."

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  52. ABA President CormanMarch 5, 2012 at 8:38 PM

    "Well, you see, Willard, in this profession, things get confused out there. Power, ideals, the old morality, and practical educational necessity. But out there with these lemmings, it must be a temptation to be God. Because there's a conflict in every human heart, between the rational and irration, between good and evil. And good does not always triumph. Sometimes, the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature."

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  53. "Some day this scam's gonna end."

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  54. Prof. Deborah J. Merritt neatly and completely dismantles Alabama's misleading job stats in (the only) comment to Paul Horwitz's Prawfs post referenced above @1:43, concluding:

    "I've looked at a lot of law school career sites during the last few months and I have to say that Alabama's is the worst I've seen that is currently still on the web. Some others were as bad six months ago, but they have been improved in response to criticisms. The Alabama site is pretty appalling for March 2011, given the use of outdated numbers, a questionable metric for "employed," and lack of other detail. Alabama could be giving better information to students in other contexts, but the web is an obvious place for applicants and admitted students to look. Based on the website, Alabama admittees are not getting anywhere near the candid information you want them to have for decisionmaking."

    http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2012/03/on-wining-and-dining-admitted-students-.html#more

    -Z32

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  55. Read the DJM post at profblawg. Interesting ... Paul Horowitz' article evinces ignorance about key issues:

    "As far as I know, Alabama regularly brings in admitted students. I don't know how much it spends on these affairs, although I'm happy to try and find out. Certainly the number is less than $0, if only because of the lunches and the balloons, although I wouldn't assume it's $50,000 either.

    ***
    Second, it matters just as much what we [University of Alabama law school] tell these admitted students as it does that we bring them in the building. We should provide them with numbers--accurate, hard numbers, to the extent they're available (and they should be). The numbers may or may not tell the whole story, but they're still entitled to them. My understanding is that Alabama's LST numbers are very low, although I'm not sure whether that's because we don't provide information to students or because we haven't yet provided them to LST. (I'm working on a better answer.) In any event, we should make sure students are given all the information they need to make a decision. Some numbers will work in our favor: small class sizes, fairly low tuitions, and, more so than many other schools, real opportunities for "practical" clinical work for many or most students and not just a select few. Others doubtless will work against us. But it should be their choice. We can certainly accentuate the positive, but we shouldn't eliminate the negative. (I'm not saying we do; I lack much information either way. I'm just discussing what we certainly ought to be doing.)"
    (Emphasis supplied)

    The difficulty is that given PH general taste and trading in legal academic gossip (for example on the profsblawg website, the idea that he does not know the details he asserts ignorance of it a little unconvincing. I might even reference Clause Raines in Casablanca ""I'm shocked, shocked to find gambling going on in this establishment!" ... "Your winnings sir"

    The more amusing aspect of DJM's response is that in posting on profsblawg yet another screed against Professor Capos and the general movement for reform:

    "I criticized the blog for its excesses...I promised I would continue to read it and would pass along anything original or valuable I learned there, and let readers here make up their own minds. That hasn't involved much effort on my part, because Campos's blog rarely says anything original or valuable. (That's a high bar, and I'm not being unduly critical here...."

    PH managed to attracts a detailed takedown from DJM of Alabama's dishonesty in its own recruiting. Now one can comment on the irony, of the poetic justice, but the thing that brings a wry smile to my face (scary my assistants say) is considering the conversation that PH will likely have with his Dean. Somehow I think it will be in mildly undiplomatic language:

    "so you though you were being ******* helpful! well DON'T HELP again - stay away from the subject altogether."

    So PH, if you are not banned form the subject or posting here, how about a little exposition on how your colleagues at the University of Alabama responded to this little go round. Don't worry about our tender ears ... leave in the profanities.

    MacK

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  56. On the local schools issue - in Washington DC it makes a very big difference. There Georgetown (except to its own faculty) ranks very highly, probably close to HY, and in DC there are a lot of high paying boutiques with specialised practices (not just lobbying.) Also in DC law-firms do rate Catholic University as producing some very good quality graduates - even though it is was (94/2009, 98/2010, 79/2011) in the USNWR rankings (and indeed among senior DC lawyers discussing USNWR, the disparity in CUA ranking as compared to say, American University (45, 48, 50), which indeed used to even be bigger, was regularly cited as an indication that the USNWR numbers were nonsense. Even 10-15 years ago many in DC regarded CUA as producing better graduates and wondered how the rankings could be so out of kilter with local perceptions. (I'll admit that over 20 years ago the Dean of CUA arranged a personal interview to try to persuade me to go there (my family lived in DC at the time) - but admitted that I should probably take the offer from Georgetown - I did have offers from other schools that might be regarded as more prestigious, but since I could not get student loans and needed to work through, DC was the only viable option. AU was the only school to turn me down ... that may impact my assessment.)

    In addition, at least until recently, a larger proportion of DC law students work, most in my time more than the allowed 20 hours per week. After my first year of law school I worked for a very well known litigator and other partners in a large firm - I was for a while the "motion in limine guy" for white collar and did OSHA litigation, ghost wrote half a book for a partner and did 30+ hours a week until a ten days before sitting the NY bar exam when it was suggested that perhaps I might want to do some study (I was sure I had flunked, but I didn't.) At least when I was there the ready availability of legalish jobs or work on the Hill was a big factor for many of my classmates choosing GULC over schools in other cities. It also helped them in their careers later.

    MacK

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  57. I want to add that Professor Paul Horwitz of Alabama is a scammer, even apart from his disgraceful blog post approving of his school's enticement weekend.

    The guy's website asserts that he has "expertise" in constitutional law generally and in first amendment law and, indeed, he has a long list of publications in those areas. However, Westlaw reveals their true value:

    Has even ONE of Horwitz's journal articles ever been cited by a reviewing court? The answer is NO.

    Has even ONE of Horwitz's journal articles ever been cited by an administrative agency in a published opinion? The answer is NO.

    In fact, has Horwitz ever had any legal experience whatsoever, apart from a single year as a judicial clerk a couple of decades ago? Has he ever represented a client on any matter. The answer is NO, and NO again.

    Horwitz is as useless to courts and practitioners as he is destructive to his students. When a practitioner or a student walks by, Paul Horwitz should lower his head in shame.

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  58. I don't generally respond to mostly useless hostile comments, especially when I don't get the sense that the commenter is inclined to apply the same standards and questions to everyone to whom they might be applicable. But let me offer a couple of corrections. Yes, I have experience apart from my judicial clerkship: much less than many here have suggested should be a bare minimum for law teaching, but about five years of practice in addition to the clerkship. Yes, I have represented both individual and institutional clients, usually as part of a big team and sometimes individually, particularly in my (very few) pro bono cases. To the best of my knowledge, none of my articles has been cited by a reviewing court or administrative agency in a public opinion, although they have been cited in several briefs before the courts. Those are the only meaningful factual claims made in the comment above and the only ones worth bothering to respond to. Best, PH

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  59. PH - I though you were going to give us an unadulterated version of the reaction at Alabama to the DJM response (which you snottily complained I called a "takedown") detailing the, shall we say "economy with the facts" of Alabama.

    You know telling the readers here - or at profsblawg what the response to DJM's catalogue of Alabama's shortcomings at the University of Alabama would actually gain you some respect here. Not doing so... well, given that you stated that schools should be honest, and you have taken may I say some shots at this site and Paul Campos ... would probably simply confirm the negative views many here hold of you.

    I would add to, that your posts about this site at profsblawg are a bit like a victorian gossip describing a smutty book to friends - "dear friends, to protect you tender sensibilities I am making the great sacrifice of reading it, and will tell you what you need to know...." Of course it seems likely that many more law professors read this blog than bother with profsblawg ... and you might want to think about how you gain respect amongst that readership. Toodles

    MacK

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  60. 1) I have received no internal responses to my post or DJM's comment as of yet. I did, however, pass along the relevant links to a relevant person in the administration and pointed out that I am happy to work with that person on those issues, including both transparency and what we tell admitted students. I also put a link to those discussions on my FB page, on which I am friends with many current and former students, and encouraged them to weigh in, publicly or privately, with their own experiences about things we do well and things we do badly, and what we ought to change. I've brought other such matters to the administration's attention before, and I'm not especially worried about negative internal reactions. Please remember, however, that a) real time is not blog time, and b) some of what I, and other professors, do on these issues is done within the school, not online. While I can't speak to the outcome, you may at least rest assured that these issues and valid concerns are being brought to my school's attention, and should be.

    2) I'm not hiding anything from anyone, as far as I know. I certainly don't worry about getting negative internal responses at my school; for one thing, I'm just doing my job, and for another I promised my students I would raise these issues with the administration, and I care more about that promise than about getting negative internal reactions. In any event, thus far I've never been criticized or frozen out for raising these issues with my administration, and I'm not the only faculty member who has raised them.

    3) I enjoy your characterization of my posts at Prawfs sharing posts from this blog. I would say add that I've already made clear my views on the shortcomings of this blog, but I've also made clear that it sometimes raises valid issues. My promise to keep bringing noteworthy posts to the attention of Prawfs readers is not an effort to protect tender sensibilities, but more a desire to make sure that worthwhile points and posts (and comments; in some few cases, I've found that the commenters made significant improvements on the OP) here are brought to the attention of the readership at Prawfs, which despite your assumptions I believe to be a somewhat different readership. And as it turns out, aside from trying to write posts I'm pleased with (with only partial success), I don't care much about respect from either my Prawfs readers or the readers here. I mean that in a friendly way, however. -- PH

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  61. Dear MacK: I posted a response a little while ago but it has not shown up. I'll make it marginally briefer this time.

    1) I have as yet received no internal reactions to my post or subsequent comments. I have, however, provided links to those discussions, including Prof. Merritt's comment, to a relevant administration member and reiterated my willingness to work with him or her on transparency and other issues. I have also put up links on my FB page, on which I am friends with quite a few current and former students, and encouraged them to share their experiences and views with me publicly or privately. I generally share those concerns, along with students' reform suggestions, with the administration as well. Remember, please, that real time and blog time are different, and it can take time to get reactions and movement, whether positive or negative.

    2) I enjoyed your characterization of my Prawfs posts about Campos, but let me offer a slightly more charitable interpretation. I've made clear my problems with this blog, but I've also made clear that it deals with valid issues and concerns. Rather than urge my readers to ignore it or something of the sort, I told them that at the very least, I would continue to read it and pass along posts (or comments--sometimes the commenters here improve on or add details to the OP) that I think the Prawfs audience ought to read and think about. Although that happens rarely, I take the promise seriously, which is why I continue to read this blog despite my issues with it. I do think the two blogs have different readerships and thus that there is value in passing along some posts here to those other readerships.

    3) I promised my students I would raise their concerns, and related concerns, with the administration. So far I haven't been criticized or frozen out for doing so. But given that promise, I would be basically indifferent to such criticisms if they occurred. On the other hand, apart from trying to write good posts (unsuccessfully most of the time, of course; I'm only human), I'm also mostly indifferent to the respect of my readers, here or on Prawfs. But I mean that in a friendly way. Everyone enjoys and craves respect, but I don't believe one ought to write in order to seek or secure respect.

    Yours,

    --PH

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  62. PH -

    Thank you for a courteous and detailed response. Might I suggest that you may also want to draw the relevant people at Alabama's attention to Morgan Cloud, and George B. Shepard Law Deans in Jail. Although I think that the paper has some weaknesses (it does not address for example the law schools' roles in brokering student loans as a factor in its analysis), I think that the publication of this paper and its wide circulation is a "game changer" because in stating that certain practices are fraudulent and indeed criminal, it renders continuing such practices legally very dangerous. I have little doubt that this paper has been read in pretty well every law-school office charged with student recruitment.

    MacK

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  63. Paul Horwitz,

    You acknowledge that, to the best of your knowledge, your work has never been cited in any reviewing court or administrative agency opinion. In fact, to the best of WESTLAW's knowledge you have never been cited, not even in a footnote.

    Let us tarry on that a moment, for it does seem passing strange. You have published over 20 journal articles in your alleged area of expertise, constitutional law. You have collected, probably, a sum total of a couple of million dollars in salary and benefits from Alabama and other law schools on the premise that you are a constitutional law expert. Yet, the sum total of guidance you have provided to reviewing courts and administrative agencies, as they wrestle with constitutional questions is precisely ZERO.

    You say that you have been cited in "several briefs before the courts." Let us clarify this. You have NEVER been cited in briefs filed by counsel for the actual plaintiff or defendant. You have only been cited in amicus briefs. Sorry to burst your bubble, but reviewing courts think "amicus" is latin for "please deposit in the nearest garbage can."

    You claim five years of practical legal experience. If that is true, I, of course, admit my error. But you do not provide any details whatsoever, either here or on your faculty bio. What jobs did you hold? For how many years? Just FYI: handling one pro bono case per year for five years does not amount to five years practice experience.

    Sorry to sound hostile, but my two-year old niece has provided as much guidance to courts and practitioners as you have. She should get your professorship--she is cuter.

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