Thursday, October 25, 2012

The state of the discourse

One thing that has been driven home to me with extreme prejudice over the life of this little project is that law schools are run primarily for the benefit of their faculties.  This  observation, which will of course strike almost all law students outside the 1L bubble -- let us not even speak of our graduates -- as blindingly obvious, will, from my experience, be treated as a horrible heresy by large portions of those very faculties, for reasons that are equally obvious.

Yet -- again in my inevitably limited experience -- whenever law school faculties discuss anything that involves their interests, it would be an understatement to say those interests trump all other possible considerations, and most particularly considerations of whether what we're proposing to do is actually in the interest of our students and graduates.

Last week the CU faculty met to vote on whether to reauthorize and greatly expand our LLM program, which was started three years ago on an explicitly experimental basis.  In a cursory memo, the administration laid out its justification for expanding the program from its current average of six students per year to a projected 26 per year by 2014.  The memo featured no data regarding whether our program or similar programs are likely to be worth it for people who enroll.  Instead it would be fair to say that its argument consisted of pointing out that, at least with appropriately aggressive promotion on the part of the school, there will be a "market" for enrolling 26 LLM students per year, who will collectively generate nearly a million dollars in annual revenue for the school.

When the motion was presented for discussion, I laid out a series of concerns regarding the potential this expanded program would have to exploit the desperation of current law students and recent graduates -- the groups which the memo revealed would be primary targets for our greatly enhanced marketing efforts -- given the dismal employment market for new law graduates in general.

Naturally I didn't think there was any real possibility of blocking the expansion, let alone the re-authorization, of the program, given the overwhelming short-term economic incentives at work.  What I did expect, in retrospect naively, is that there would be some discussion of the merits of the proposal. At a minimum, I expected something in the form of an argument from the supporters of the proposal, as to why we ought to aggressively market $36,000 LLMs to current law students, in effect representing to them that it would be, under present circumstances, a good idea for them to extend law school from three years to four, and to spend another $55,000 or so on their legal educations.

What happened was that, after I had voiced my concerns and extracted some predictably awkward revelations regarding exactly where the LLM tuition money was actually going, nobody said anything. There was literally no discussion of the proposal, and after about thirty seconds of even more awkward silence, the motion passed by a vote of approximately 30 to 1.

In retrospect, it's easy enough to see why no one was willing to speak in favor of (let alone to oppose) the proposal.  After all the most plausible, and indeed perhaps the only, justification for the decision would, I suppose, have to be an appeal to the crudest form of economic self interest, i.e., "if people are willing to give us a million dollars per year for quite possibly useless LLM degrees who are we to say no?"  In addition, if we actually engaged in some sort of discussion regarding the potential justification of the LLM program from the perspective of the interests of our students who knows where such a discussion might lead?

Given that law school faculties are full of gated communitarians, who are to put it mildly not interested in exploring whether their institutional behavior can be reconciled in any way with their putative political commitments, it shouldn't have surprised me that no discussion at all took place.

108 comments:

  1. Law school faculty are "not interested in exploring whether their institutional behavior can be reconciled in any way with their putative political commitments." This should be etched in stone for all time, and is true of just about any faculty in any university department.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do we all see now how really disinterested law faculty are about the crisis?

      There was no discussion, no concerns, no debate over adding this program.

      When it comes to money, talk is cheap and everyone votes in favor of their wallet.

      Delete
  2. Would anyone enroll in one of these useless LLM programs if they had to pay upfront with their own money? These LLM programs are just a new pipeline which transfers loan dollars from the tax payers to law school faculty and administrators.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is the credited response.

      Delete
    2. Probably not PosnerOctober 25, 2012 at 10:26 AM

      I think there is more or less consensus on this blog that the scam will not stop without loan reform. An experience I had yesterday, however, highlighted another issue with pressing for loan reform (other than the political incentives previously discussed).

      My lower-income hairdresser was raving about how fed loans were enabling her kids to go to college. The thing is, loans are popular ex-ante to those seeking to attend or have their children attend institutes of higher learning. They are also working fairly well outside of the professional school context. I think it's tough to press specifically for reform of loans for professional school because the conversation will bleed into revoking loans more generally, which would be unpopular. That said, we should still try. A couple good NYT editorials might do it.

      Delete
  3. Professor:
    At least you did the upright and moral thing. So if law schools are run for the benefit of the faculty, why are law schools tax-emept entities?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, this is an under-explored avenue of attack - the tax exempt status of the schools and their endowments.

      If a plausible threat is made to either of these two goldmines, behaviour will alter damn fast.

      And, in this era of national financial ruin, who is more loathed than those wealthy entities that have gone utterly untaxed?

      Delete
    2. Historically, education was a public good and professors made less than they could in private practice in exchange for flexibility in scheduling and pension benefits.

      I know, it seems laughable now.

      Delete
    3. But the education lobby spends massively to keep the lie alive - and the tax dollars flowing.

      Delete
  4. What gets me mad is that so many law faculty like to hold themselves out as above the greed that they claim is epidemic in the corporate world.

    That they are ethical and for doing justice when their actions so clearly speak to the fact that they are not.

    It's disgusting, but then again, they are lawyers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "but then again, they are lawyers."

      Worse, still - they are *law professors...*

      Delete
    2. They can't be lawyers. Lawyers would be disbarred for something like this.

      Delete
    3. Lawyers have both fiduciary responsibilities to clients and conflict of interest rules - law professors and law schools apparently do not (or so a few judges have said.)

      Delete
  5. I've been thinking for awhile about how the interests of faculty are so opposed to interests of students. What would happen if students organized to lower faculty salaries?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only "organized protest" that would threaten the schools (and therefore elicit *any* concern on the part of the fraud factories) would be a coordinated, sizable, and publicized withdrawal of students.

      Even though it might be in their long-term financial interests...I don't know if many (any) student bodies have the stomach for that.

      The only thing these sc*m understand is force (legal) and the threat of force (legal).

      As this very post makes clear, appealing to faculties better nature is pointless - they have none.

      Delete
  6. I realize it's not funny but I laughed a little as I read this post imagining the LP trying to discuss the proposal and everyone else just sitting there like a lump and then someone just calling for a vote.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was wondering if anyone gave him the stink eye

      Delete
    2. I'm sure *everyone* gave him the "stink eye" (and then some) - he is messing with their corrupt, lucrative living.

      Undoubtedly, LawProf is suffering a *lot* of peer pressure (and probably career impediments) because of his commitment to telling the truth.

      Delete
  7. It's very disappointing that people who teach people how to "think like a lawyer" cannot even do that by discussing the pros and cons of a program that will profoundly affect the lives of dozens of people's lives.

    They are not their own clients, the students are the clients!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's where you're wrong. The other 30 faculty members were "thinking like lawyers" during the meeting. They were not thinking like educators.

      Delete
    2. Actually they were not thinking like lawyers - because lawyers would have had to consider whether the action was in the client's interest (and do) - they ignored that entire consideration.

      Delete
  8. Probably not PosnerOctober 25, 2012 at 7:31 AM

    Another great post. I've had several unrelated thoughts about why/how faculties become willfully blind, and will leave them in separate comments to facilitate discussion.

    I think the example of blogs like PrawfsBlawg deleting critical comments (mentioned on the last thread) is an excellent case study of law faculty insisting on living in a bubble without confronting critiques. I read Prawfs' comments policy in response to this thread. It says, " In general, if we can't determine who you are, there is a strong risk that your comment will be deleted. If comments are civil and substantive, we may overlook the anonymity of the rebellious commenter. We own our words. You should too." What they don't seem to get is that owning your words is another professorial privilege--many practicing attorneys cannot comment by name on substantive legal issues because of restrictions in their employment contracts. Thus insisting on ownership in fact greatly restricts conversation.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Lawprof,

    It's been said here time and time again, until the taxpayer spigot goes from a wide-open fire hose of money to a trickle, there will be no reform.

    So many of our problems are rooted in a political "cashquerade" -- that is, taxpayer money allocated in the name of an apparently legitimate public purpose that is used merely as a pretense to siphon money from taxpayers for private gain.

    Grad PLUS loans and IBR are cashquerades. Money that is purportedly given for "the kids" or "education" or "opportunity regardless of economic status." In reality the true motive is to enrich schools and faculty, to empire build, or to hold off educational reform.

    Other cashquerades: the bailout of Greeks (which is, in fact, a bailout of French and German banks who hold Greek notes); agricultural price "stabilization" efforts; and defense spending (much of which goes to defense contractors rather than boots on the ground).

    - tmh

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All true - but public sentiment is at a boiling point here in the US - 16 trillion in prior generation debt and the endless QE dilution of savings value will turn the middle class into dedicated assassins of the political class (hello, law schools).

      A well-publicized suit or two targeting the current/pending law school exploitation of IBR might succeed beyond *anyone's* expectations.

      A decade of declining employment for the 25-54 year old cohort (see St. Louis Fed's FRED chart database) has readied the nation for an epidemic of political bonfires.

      Delete
  10. Probably not PosnerOctober 25, 2012 at 7:42 AM

    Next thought: Profs at top law schools like to think that the bottom schools should close but that eventually their own graduates will get placed because employers will start to realize they can now get students from top schools whereas before they could only get ones from mid-ranked schools.

    This seems, however, to ignore that employers are not irrational in often preferring the top of their regional school to the bottom of a t14. 1) Because US News only requires reporting of the LSAT and GPA "median" as opposed to the mean, top schools can and do admit a bottom half of the class that frequently has worse qualifications than the upper part of the class at a mid-ranked school. 2) People who go to regional schools often have strong community ties and reasons for staying. 3) Employers themselves have ties to these regional schools. 4) Smaller employers might not have the resources to go to OCIs all over the country, and national law schools can't cultivate ties with all small employers. So far from clear that employers will suddenly start preferring t14 bottom half grads over the top of mid-ranked schools.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Can't believe 47% jokes haven't made it to this site yet:

    http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php

    ReplyDelete
  12. It's surprising how educated voted would vote for something like that with no data!

    Wait, aren't these the same people who "teach" using the socratic method, when all of the data claims that it's the least effective teaching method.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At least read the post before you comment. They did have data on the likely inflow of revenue from the program.

      Delete
  13. Law school is really like any other business (nothwithstanding the heavy debtload, etc.).

    Do you think the engineers at apple discussed whether or not customers NEED a ipad mini or discussed how they could sell them the ipad mini.

    too many ipads that people dont need. too many jd's and llm's.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Difference is iPad's and iPhone's aren't purchased with debt exempted from bankruptcy protections.

      Delete
    2. ...Not if using student loan refund checks to purchase. See, student loans do help the economy!

      Delete
    3. And debt that often and easily runs in excess of $100k, deprives debtors of three years of income, and is carefully gamed to exploit taxpayers if everything else goes wrong.

      And is pocketed by a cohort of political class courtiers who like to pose as committed liberals.

      Law schools make the Augean stables look like a microchip clean room.

      Delete
  14. This story helps explain why this is better considered a scam than a crisis. The law professors are willing participants in what they know to be a rip off. There can be no claim of ignorance, they've read the articles and blogs, they've heard the stories. They know exactly what is going on and they vote to continue it.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm kind of amazed that it was 30 to 1. I would have thought he'd at least bring a couple people around, especially since it was probably clear that it was going to pass. Someone could vote no to feel better about themselves, while being assured it would still pass.

    "Gated communitarian" is one I'll have to remember!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Be glad that there was one dissenter. At most law schools, I'd expect unanimity.

      Delete
  16. Admirable what you did LP. Doing the right thing is never easy.

    ReplyDelete
  17. From the U of C website it looks like there's about 60 faculty members. Did 29 just not show up or is this a committee of some sort that you're on?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are something like 37 tenure track faculty. Not sure who else had the right to vote on this motion.

      Delete
    2. Bravo LawProf. I'm sure you'll get the 'stink eye' from your peers, but who cares?

      Delete
    3. You're a brave man. Keep up the good fight.

      Delete
    4. Thank you. Perhaps I misread the website but there are 60 people listed as resident faculty. Maybe those are non-tenure track or something.

      Delete
  18. But "law professors" are performing a "public service," right?!?! And they are always looking out for their students and graduates.

    Sure, and the Giants are going to put me in at second base tonight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Reminds me of the old George Carlin joke about "public service." It's an accurate term if by "service" you think the kind of "service" that is performed at a stud farm.

      Delete
  19. Maybe the other faculty view it as foodstamps for the educated. Room and board care of IBR. 15 percent of zero for 20 years is zero.

    A student's life of study, leisure, and the absence of accountability is not a bad life if the bills never come due.

    When you play with the government's money, you're playing with house money. It's all fake, right, so why not? Keep the music playing and keep dancing!

    ReplyDelete
  20. LawProf,

    Again, thank you.

    You are undoubtedly catching *a lot* of heat both explicitly and implicitly from your "peers".

    But you are performing a very important public service by exposing their utter hypocrisy (as you very delicately put it - they are "gated communitarians" - cough, cough - phony leftist sh*ts...).

    But things are getting much much worse than even you seem to think - for the law schools are moving beyond the simple financial destruction of individuals, into a studied defrauding of the public fisc.

    As has been noted here and elsewhere, there seems to be a focused school effort not only to continue raising tuitions beyond reason (and ever more self-evident fact) but *to calculatedly exploit the federal income based repayment plans in order to do so*.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Professor Campos:

    Thank you for opposing the expansion of the LLM program at your own school. While you didn't succeed, years from now, the rest of your voting peers will not be able to deny their culpability for creating yet another program unneeded by society in general.

    ReplyDelete
  22. But just think of the pressure these professors are under?!

    Neighbor got a new boat! What's a prof. to do?

    Johnny has to go to private school! What's a prof. to do?

    Jenny got in to Harvard! But we pretty much got to pay sticker! What's a prof. to do?

    Getting close to retirement; really want to have that dream vacation home! What's a prof. to do?

    Gotta have swanky dinner parties! Talk about the election! What's a prof. to do?

    What a prof. has to do, is keep making 150-250k plus great benefits. Everything else be damned.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dean is talking about spending two WHOLE months in Europe! I want to do that! What's a prof. to do?

      Delete
    2. ***"Jenny got in to Harvard! But we pretty much got to pay sticker! What's a prof. to do?"***

      If Jenny got in to Harvard, her tuition will probably be "compt'd" because her mom/dad is employed by another university.

      This is standard operating procedure, and another "bene" for the professorial class, while taking income away from the granting institution.

      But never mind, we'll make that income up on the backs of the "regular" students.

      Delete
    3. Both my parents were professors and the only school I could go for without paying tuition is the one where they taught. I have had friends in similar situation and, to the best of my knowledge, it's not common for schools to waive tuition for children of professors at other universities.

      Delete
  23. The people in the market for LLM degrees are suckers -- even bigger suckers than people in the market for TTT JD's. Why not take advantage if even T14 schools are doing so?

    Is it really a surprise to learn that most people are in it for themselves, even academics who claim otherwise?

    ReplyDelete
  24. It will be intersting to see if CU can fill the seats (and I'm not talking about the football team, however, the comment applies there, as well.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Lawprof,

    Can you post the memo and related information that the committee based their decision on? They're public records so I can't see why they can't be publicized. I would love to see how devoid it is of any reference to the actual value proposition of a CU LLM

    (I'm presently lobbying the CU faculty for a second LLM, in international sports law with a focus on near-earth orbit/space aerobatics).

    ReplyDelete
  26. Here is an idea. Why not press in the ABA for an opinion vis-à-vis law schools, their administrations and deans that states that students are entitled to be treated as clients of the school and any members of its administration and faculty who are lawyers. Then put it up as an accreditation matter.

    The result would be to require law schools to consider the interests of their students and paramount - impose fiduciary responsibilities, etc.

    Moreover, how can a law school reasonably argue that it should not have such responsibilities?

    ReplyDelete
  27. LawProf,

    I have always wondered whether law schools get a cut from Barbri, Pieper, et al. for allowing these companies to peddle their goods and services on the law schools' premises. Can you confirm whether there is a financial arrangement, based on your experience, between the law schools and the bar prep companies. I think it is kind of ironic that law schools allow bar prep companies to come to their campuses since it reminds students that 3 years of law school doesn't prepare you for the bar and a 6 week bar prep course teaches you what you should have learned in 3 years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Probably not PosnerOctober 25, 2012 at 11:17 AM

      I know that they have to pay the law school I'm associated with to teach the courses there. I don't know if they have to pay for tabling.

      Delete
    2. I remember 20 years ago they were charged by schools - there may even have been an antitrust dispute over exclusivity agreements where one (Bar/Bri) had signed up schools to multi year deals for table rights.

      Delete
    3. They're using law school space for their tabling, why wouldn't they pay for it? At my law school employers had to pay for the interview rooms on a sliding scale based on the size of the firm.

      Delete
    4. Making Barbri pay seems fair/makes sense. But I wonder if making employers pay to attend OCI discourages smaller employers from coming?

      Delete
  28. As an emeritus law professor who has endured more than four decades of faculty meetings, a question arises for me from the way the LLM issue went down. Has the rest of the CU law faculty decided LawProf is a crank not worth engaging? If so, that faculty has its collective head in the sand on much more than the narrow issue of expanding the LLM program.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They don't have their heads in the sand. They just don't care about the product or it's one-time user, just the sales revenue of the product.

      Delete
    2. "Crank" is a convenient slur. Very useful for dismissing serious people—a time-honored academic tradition.

      Delete
  29. Where would one finad all the 25-year old unemployed debt-ridden women in the DC area? Help a playa out, folks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You must be a law prof. You sound sufficiently desperate if you are going after those not hot enough to be hired at Big Law.

      Delete

    2. I've usually asked yourself whether or not regulation colleges get yourself a reduce coming from Barbri, Pieper, et al.. regarding enabling these firms to be able to monger their own items as well as providers around the regulation colleges' property. Is it possible to verify whether or not there's a economic agreement, according to your own knowledge, between your legislation colleges and also the pub preparation businesses. It is actually type of odd which legislation colleges enable pub prepare organizations arrive at their own grounds as it reminds college students which three years associated with school of law does not equip you for the actual pub along with a six few days club preparation training course shows you what you need to have discovered within three years.


      phlebotomy training in CO

      Delete
  30. I'm not sure how this hurts law grads. If you're already $200,000 in debt and can't get a high paying job, you'll be on IBR and your payment will max out at more than 10% of your income. It doesn't matter whether you take on more debt, your IBR payment will be the same. Getting an LLM at least gives you the opportunity to get more money from the government to pay your rent, money you'll never have to pay back due to IBR.

    Let's be honest about what's going on. We have people who can't get jobs working with law schools to rip off the government. To get the government money they have to enroll in law school (or an LLM program). The law school gets its cut of the loan money in tuition. But the student gets to keep some for living expenses. The only party that gets hurt is the government.

    And please don't tell me the borrower will get stuck with a huge tax bill when the debt is forgiven in 20 years (10 if they take a gov't job). You can't pay taxes with money you don't have so that will just get forgiven as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your social security retirement will be garnished due to unpaid taxes.

      Delete
    2. Enjoy terrible credit for 20 years of your life and the constant fear of the IBR program being cut when Paul Ryan runs for President in 2016.

      Delete
    3. Twenty five years from now when IBR discharges, and the tax bill comes there will be no social security anymore, so I wouldn't worry about it. :)

      :>>--

      Delete
    4. "Let's be honest about what's going on. We have people who can't get jobs working with law schools to rip off the government."

      Exactly.

      Except substitute taxpayers for government.

      The fiscal pedophiles in DC aren't paying for anything - they are getting very wealthy selling tax benefits.

      Before the Protestant Reformation, this was known as selling indulgences...

      Delete
  31. Isn't the central administration going to skim a lot of this tuition? I can't imagine they will let it go to faculty salaries!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Wait... are you guys saying I shouldn't get my LLM in animal law?

    http://www.bendbulletin.com/article/20121025/NEWS0107/210250360/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Only if it's international animal law. You can negotiate panda-rental agreements between zoos and China!

      Delete
    2. Pandas born in the US should be US citizens!

      Delete
    3. "The extra degree also could help law school graduates stand out, since the U.S. has more than 1.2 million licensed attorneys."

      Oh, yes, you'll stand out, all right. As a total fucking idiot.

      Delete
  33. Probably not PosnerOctober 25, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    Recently had lunch with a t1 prof. He offered the following observations:

    "Well, the ultimate problem is lack of jobs/student loans, so nothing we do can help students."

    "Well, so many student complaints are stupid that it makes sense that we are discounting the new ones."

    Critiques?

    ReplyDelete
  34. "Nothing that we can do to help students (that would increase school revenue and prestige)."

    I think he forgot the last part.

    ReplyDelete
  35. This is off topic but relates to the postings earlier this week on awarding masters degree to law students when they complete their 1L year. The idea behind this proposal was nonsubstantive but as a cosmetic device it might reconcile or justify some greater number of 1L's quitting law school. Particularly people in the bottom half of their class or at lower tier schools who have little chance for employment as attornies. Here's another like proposal. When the LSAT scores are reported back, in addition to the number score the potential applicant would be told that he passed or flunked the exam. He would still be allowed to apply and be accepted. But being listed as "flunked" should be sobering to special snowflakes and cut back on the number of their applications. Perhaps also the law schools should be required to disclose the number and percent of their entering class who flunked the entry exam. Maybe a death blow to the true bottom feeders. A score of 155 might be a good cutoff. Or since 50% of law grads never get jobs, how about making the pass/flunk cutoff the half way mark for the starting class for all ABA schools. Would this work? William Ockham

    ReplyDelete
  36. Laww skhools luv youu
    They make your life turn tu poo
    Profesurs can go to hell
    They make ure resumay smell
    like poo
    like pee
    like poopee (poopy)


    Simple Charlie
    (aka the ghost of JD Painter)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not remotely amusing. Please give it a rest.

      Delete
  37. LawProf,

    Your name is really Winston Smith.

    The scam comes in two flavors: In the first, state employees of state schools are kept afloat by Federal loans passed through hapless students; in the second, private employees of private schools are kept afloat by even bigger Federal loans passed through hapless students.

    The original Winston would have a field day.

    ReplyDelete
  38. There is no concern today of university faculty or administration for the cost to the students of faculty decisions or the welfare of the students. Let the students be burdened with debt they cannot pay off for life - not a university concern. University faculty and administration have a "let them eat cake" attitude towards the welfare of students and their families.

    Our child transferred colleges, and the school that he/she currently attends has denied our petition to transfer credit for a course taken at the old school that is almost identical to a required course at the new school. We wrote a careful, item by item explanation of the similarities between the syllabuses of each class. We got back a one line denial. Cost to our family to repeat the class: $6750. The dean's office says that they cannot consider cost in reviewing the denial. Our child will be stuck with that debt with interest for life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Condolences on having had a hermaphrodite (he/she).

      Delete
    2. This is par for the course. I have had been denied transfer credit within the same institution (i.e. English 101 in Mgmt not transferring to the school of Engineering. Thanks Purdue.)!

      Delete
  39. I have taught as an adjunct for 10 years in an LL.M. program. Here are some of my observations regarding LL.M. degrees:

    1. If a student pursues an LL.M. immediately after the JD without any professional experience, an LL.M. in a particular subject can negatively effect a job search. For example, if a student were to pursue an LL.M. in international law, most firms would not consider the student for a position in the litigation section. In pursuing an LL.M. in a certain subject area, the student/job candidate is signaling to potential employers the particular area of interest, which necessarily curtails consideration in other areas. Why would an employer take a chance on a candidate that might not be satisfied practicing any other type of law?

    2. There are two execeptions to this genrealization:

    a. You wish to work in a government agency (and who doesn't these days?) and you were not in the top third of your JD class.

    Most government agencies require that attorneys who are just starting their career to be in the top third of their JD class or have an LL.M. in the particular agency subject area. For exapmple, if a student wants to work for the EPA but was not top-third in their JD class, they can sanitize their CV with an LL.M. in Environmental Law.

    b. You have a particular expertise from your experience prior to law school and the LL.M. will enhance that experience on your CV.

    An example would be a student who has a BS in Nursing and has--quite rationally--obtained JD from a good but comparatively inexpensive law school and then will pursue an LL.M. in Health care law. Likewise, an LL.M. in IP law probably would be beneficial to someone with a BS in Engineering.

    3. A significant number of LL.M. sstudents aare trying to cleanse their CVs of a poor JD performance. This rare works and the students just end up heavier in debt with actually fewer job prospects.

    4. LL.M.s further erode the academic integrity of a law school with respect to the rest of academia. LL.M. students are largely taught and advised by professors who only have a JD or LL.B. To have a student pursuing a degree that is higher on the food chain than earned by the professors who are teaching and advising the student is unthinkable in other faculties. Can you imageine an MA student in English being taught by someone with only a BA in English? The LL.M. is therefore not really an academic degree. But it also isn't really a professional degree either as, in contrast with an MBA, professional experience is not required for admittance.

    5. When a JD student expresses in purusing an LL.M. immediately after the JD, I always encourage them to consider foreign universities where the LL.M. is much cheaper and living in another country will provide another sort of education. They also may gain access to other legal job markets that are not as dismal as the legal market is here in the US.


    Musing-- I just wonder where all of the LL.M.s in environmental law go? Every law school that has an LL.M. program seems to have one in Environmental Law. There just aren't that many environmental law jobs out there. Formerly, there was at least some compliance work in companies but this seems to be taken over by non-lawyers or outsourced.

    ReplyDelete
  40. 2:38 Do not want to reveal too much info on a pending dispute. We are appealing, and I am hoping for relief. As of now, they wrote back with one reason about the course being transferred that was absolutely inaccurate. $6750 for this nonsense is the height of arrogance on the university's part as is the dean's office position that they will ignore the cost to us of making this decision.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why should the cost be relevant? The similarity of the course should be the only issue.

      Delete
  41. 3:30 That cost should be relevant is the whole point of my comment. The courses in our case in fact are substantially identical. Point is that the school did not even try to ascertain the facts before denying credit.

    Cost is surely an issue to students and their families. Schools take transfers, and if an absolutely identical course is required for transfr credit, there is going to be a big cost of repeating classes when the student transfers.

    When the cost of education far outpaces the value, the standards the school applies in making decisions - ignoring cost- becomes a big point of contention.

    The whole point is that as in LawProf's post today, the cost/benefit analysis to the student is absent in academic decisions in colleges as well as law schools. There is no law requiring the school to consider cost/ benefit in academica decisions and they can and do ignore cost.

    As a legal matter, universities have absolute discretion to ignore the cost and cost/ benefit analyses in making their decisions. That is a major part of the problem we are seeing on this blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Universities don't ingore the cost benefit analysis. The more the course cost, the greater the university's benefit. Applicaable every time.

      Delete
    2. I don't see it as a problem at all in this situation. They have a degree that represents a course of study and various requirements. The course your kid took either is or isn't substantially similar. Yeah it sucks they might have to retake the course and spend that money but your kid chose to transfer.

      I make no judgment as to whether the review process itself is adequate for comparing the similarity of the courses.

      Delete
  42. That ghost of JD Painter was not JD painter BTW.

    But here is a dumb question:

    When all of that federally backed student loan money flows in to the law school. Many millions of dollars I guess....

    (And of course there is the endowment money and, like an established Museum, an established Law School must have substantial endowments)

    But does the school have a financial dept that invests the money in Treasury Bills, or in a stock portfolio, or gold or something like that?

    I know that is the way it was in the insurance business. The cash flow was incredible and was well invested, and then the claims on the back end were dealt with some time later.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Short answer is yes - the excess funds get invested (ditto endowments).

      Whether the law school itself (or whore-mother University) controls the personnel investing the funds/endowments - varies.

      And, yes, the resulting cashflow is incredible - and almost entirely tax-free.

      And vulnerable to IRS challenge for not serving a public purpose once the case for systemic, institutionalized deception is made.

      :)

      Delete
  43. "As a legal matter, universities have absolute discretion to ignore the cost and cost/ benefit analyses in making their decisions."

    As a very broad matter, I would agree with you.

    But I wonder - if one digs down into state statutes there are often what might be called "public policy posturing" statutes - usually introductory provisions that are broad and vague("To further the welfare of the citizens of X, state employees share act in good faith, honest dealing, etc.").

    The predatory practices of law schools (decades worth of selective - and occasionally outright fraudulent - presentation of placement data) seem to violate these statutes.

    Any thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
  44. Just to further this discussion, one of the problems here as that colleges and universities are awarded absolute discretion in making academic and administrative decisions. Maybe LawProf can comment, but it seems to me that the statement by the Dean in my case "we don't need to consider cost (or benefit to the student)" in making a decision of whether to award transfer credit, is completely correct as a legal matter.

    Likewise here is no legal requirement for the law schools to keep tuition down or to even consider affordability in setting tuition and expenses. They can build castles, reduce faculty workloads, hire tons of administrative staff and they will be fine under the law. The law schools can also add as many students as will come. There is no legal requirement for the schools to consider the job market or whether their graduates will be employable in setting class sizes or making academic decisions.

    Maybe state schools are a little different from private ones. One thing is clear - the law gives these institutions too much discretion to the detriment of their students and the U.S. taxpayers.

    It is incredible, but we have come to a place where the colleges and universities are modern-day Marie Antoinettes.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Voting "no" was as honorable a gesture as running this website. I hope that the 30 yes voters have enough dignity not to assist the smear artists and pompous nitwits who congregate at PrawfsBlawg, or the Nietzschean uber-munchkin himself, Brian Leiter.

    Leiter is a phony, and it is a shame that the University of Chicago Law chapter of the National Lawyers' Guild was duped by Leiter's lefty facade into selecting him as their faculty advisor. Leiter can call for revolution on the streets of Madison, Wisconsin all he wants, and there will never be a chill moment between himself and the radical free marketeers on his school's faculty.

    Maybe in distant places, Leiter calls for rebellion. However, in his own domain of law school, Leiter defends his and his colleagues' compensation, perks, leisure, dignity, and amour propre, and scorns the victims and rebels who cross the invisible line, in Leiter's own mind, between phony and serious dissent.

    dybbuk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In brief,

      Leiter is a turd.

      Agreed.

      Delete
  46. As the wise wizard said to Conan in the old Arnold movie: "The lifeblood of Dagoth is in the horn," just as the lifeblood of the current day law school industrial complex is student lending.

    Hell, even President Obama warned Higher Ed. to make things more affordable in a past SOTU address, or else the Federal money might be cut off.

    Conan the Destroyer (AKA Arnold) removed the Horn and lifeblood of Dagoth. But who is to cut off the student loan easy money flowing into higher ed? Romney? (I doubt it)

    Anyway, enjoy the music. It sort of reminds me of Ravel's Bolero:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTpw-87rRq4

    ReplyDelete
  47. "Between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis, and the rise of the sons of Aryas there was an age undreamed of. And onto this, Joan King. Destined to wear the jeweled crown of Brooklawonia upon a troubled brow. It is I, her chronicler, who alone can tell the off her saga. Let me tell you of the days of high tuition!"

    ReplyDelete
  48. @5:27PM

    Well, here is Conan anyway, wearing his crown on his troubled brow with music that can give one goose pimples:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPURxkrl2aE&feature=related

    Leading us all forward into the brave new world of debt.

    Shave and a haircut, 10 cents.


    ReplyDelete
  49. Thank you for speaking truth to power. You are a good man.

    ReplyDelete
  50. I highly recommend those intrigued by this post read the book "Death of the Liberal Class" by Chris Hedges. It puts a lot of this in perspective.

    Just make sure you immediately read some Studs Terkel after to avoid severe depression.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dead on.

      Liberalism means nothing. It's the default plumage of ambitious coastal types.

      Voting for the Democratic Party is a plenary indulgence. Act as selfishly as you want, move to an economically cleansed neighborhood, compete viciously to ensure that all advantages are bequeated to your children -- all of those sins are forgiven if you vote Democrat and mouth the handful of Required Opinions Of The Moment.

      Delete
    2. This is a fundamentalist viewpoint. Decrying all people who believe in liberalism because of the obvious hypocrisy of wealthy left-leaning statists is beyond myopic.

      fundamentalist beliefs are dangerous for democracy. Objectivism is fundamentalist thinking.

      Delete
  51. As a Colorado Law alum, I'm completely disgusted by this shameful move by the faculty.

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  52. How many of these LLM candidates are foreign students? At my law school, over half of the LLM students were foreign nationals with foreign law degrees working for a foreign company in a foreign country. Their companies actually PAID for them to obtain a LLM degree in the U.S., presumably so they can negotiate business deals with U.S. companies more effectively after they return to their home countries (a highly questionable proposition, but at least it's on the company's dime).

    ReplyDelete
  53. This is what you get when you only have leadership based on credentials and not real world accomplishments.

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  54. @ SD Attny: Best comment of the "thread"

    ReplyDelete

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