Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Deans disbarred?

That's a specter that Ben Trachtenberg raises in an important new piece that will appear in the Nebraska Law Review. Trachtenberg reviews the misleading practices that have tarnished legal education during the last few years--from manufactured admissions statistics to deceptive employment data--and asks whether any of this conduct violates the legal profession's Rules of Professional Conduct.

For the fraudulent acts committed by Paul Pless at the University of Illinois and Mark Sargent at Villanova, the answer almost certainly is "yes." Rule 8.4(c) declares that "It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to . . . engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation." As Trachtenberg acknowledges, disciplinary committees don't punish every deceit under this provision; it's ok to lie to small children about strange men in red suits. But committees and supreme courts do discipline lawyers for dishonesty that "jeopardizes the public's interest in the integrity and trustworthiness of lawyers." When law school deans--or their assistant deans--lie persistently and publicly about the credentials of their students, that seems to fit the disciplinary bill.

Trachtenberg also notes that Rule 8.3(a) requires lawyers to report ethical misconduct by their peers. The particulars vary from state to state, but most states impose this duty when a lawyer "knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects." By this point, quite a number of lawyers know about the dishonest acts at Illinois and Villanova. Why hasn't any lawyer reported Pless or Sargent to the disciplinary authorities?

The honest (and cynical) answer is that we don't take these rules seriously. We look the other way, especially when the people who commit unethical acts are people "like us"--they graduated from good schools and followed conventional career tracks. We condemn the sins, but not the sinners. We assume that people like Pless and Sargent succumbed to overwhelming pressure, have learned from their mistakes, and have been "punished enough." Why make a big deal about all this? Can't we just forget about Illinois and Villanova already?

Personally, I think it's embarrassing that no one has filed disciplinary complaints against Pless or Sargent. The new deans at Illinois and Villanova should have done so as soon as the wrongdoing was substantiated. This would have been an effective way to close out these incidents--and to signal to the public that we take integrity seriously in the legal profession.

But let's move on. What about all of those other "lesser" acts of deception that law schools have practiced? Trachtenberg catalogues many of these: the rosy representations of high employment rates, the omissions of material data (such as the number of graduates reporting salaries, the number employed by their own school, or the number working part-time), the clever use of nested statistics, the understated debt, and the failure to explain significant details about scholarship awards. Do any of these acts violate the Rules of Professional Conduct?

Trachtenberg acknowledges, somewhat reluctantly, that courts would hesitate to discipline much of this behavior. Some states require an intent to deceive under 8.4(c); others require at least recklessness. Going forward, it might be possible to prove recklessness or intent if a school persisted in discredited practices. But for past behavior, deans undoubtedly would argue that statistics are confusing, lawyers are bad at math, and they were just doing what other schools do. Do a few bad pie graphs really constitute intentional fraud?

Like Trachtenberg, I doubt that state supreme courts would have the stomach to discipline deans for the statistical shenanigans of the last few years. And many members of the legal academy will protest that cooked books are "a far cry" from slightly warmed statistics.

But I disagree with those protests. Unethical behavior doesn't start with the big acts, it begins with the small ones. Once you abuse another person's trust, even in a small way, you set the stage for larger lies. And the abuses here weren't so small: Law schools made specific representations about salaries, scholarships, and other facts to encourage six-figure investments. The people making the representations were professionals with advanced degrees, who had inside knowledge of the legal industry. Most of the people receiving the representations were college students with relatively little knowledge of either law schools or law practice.

Law school deans and professors aren't as bad at math as they claim; their analytic skills are pretty good. Any faculty workshop or tenure review committee would have torn apart the reporting methods adopted by most law schools in recent years. And it's no accident that all of those methods happened to favor law school interests; these weren't random blunders.

It's time to reclaim our integrity by acknowledging just how wrong all of this was--and by moving even more aggressively to make our representations to prospective students as informative and helpful as possible. If you were a prospective student, what information would you want before investing three years of your life and $100,000 or more in law school? How would you want that information presented? These are the questions we have to answer as responsible professionals.

If you want to hear more about Ben's paper, and you'll be at next week's AALS conference, join us for our "Hot Topics" panel discussion on Saturday, January 5, from 8:30-10:15 a.m. Ben, Jeff StakeScott NorbergJerry Organ, and I will discuss "Transparency Revisited: New Data, New Directions." As Ben's paper suggests, this issue isn't over. Plus, you can stop by to compliment Ben on originating the title of this post: He used it for early drafts of his paper, before accepting a more academic, law-review-appropriate title.

Update: Both the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) and TaxProf have posted on Trachtenberg's piece.

94 comments:

  1. If a law school dean should be disbarred, the first one should be Patrick Esmond Hobbs a/k/a the Valvoline Dean from Seton Haul Law School. This is a school that had the nerve to factor a self-reported half a million dollar salary to raise the median income to $125K for private practice. Yet, they won't count $0.00 in the average for unemployed graduates and trust me, they are littered throught the NYC/NJ metro area.

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  2. It should be up to the disciplinary authorities to decide whether there is reason to let Pless, Sargent, and the others off the hook. File the complaints.

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  3. Unless the IARDC website is mistaken, Pless is not and has never been licensed in Illinois, nor is/was his then-supervisor Heidi Hurd. Before we start disciplining deans, maybe we should require them to be licensed and subject to discipline. And when we change that requirement, maybe we should just add a chapter on legal education so it's crystal clear what deans can and cannot do when shilling.

    As an aside, Pless is now apparently selling real estate in Bloomington, Il. I'm troubled that someone with a public history of committing fraudulent misrepresentations to a governing body while in a position of power is now apparently a licensed real estate broker. But hey, his JD is proving versatile, eh!?

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    1. Someone who had made fraudulent misrepresentations to a governing body while working as a real-estate broker might well have been denied admission to the bar. Presumably the real-estate authorities can similarly exclude someone for misdeeds of the kind—especially if they are recent.

      Lodge a complaint.

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    2. I believe you can be licensed and still not show up on the IARDC website, although Pless may never have been licensed, since the only qualification for being a law dean is that you have a JD and no conscience.
      Either way, the IARDC is so feckless and committed to protecting the licenses of even the shittiest and shadiest lawyers against any meaningful sanction that I wouldn't waste my time asking them to investigate anything. Pless would walk in there, say "mea culpa," and walk out with, at most, a 30-day suspension of a license he doesn't even use. IARDC is almost as worthless as the IL Dept. of Professional Regulation.

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    3. Pless is a member of the Washington state bar, with membership currently inactive. http://www.mywsba.org/default.aspx?tabid=178&RedirectTabId=177&Usr_ID=34629

      Delete
    4. Then file the complaint. Or post a draft and I will file it.

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    5. Lodge the complaints nonetheless (7:44). Force the IARDC to address this issue—and to go on public record with its response.

      Delete
    6. To the poster above, Pless' fraudulent misrepresentation to the ABA was while he was an admissions officer at UI, the knowledge of which predated his real estate license. I do not know that he has ever committed fraud under his real estate license, so I have no grounds to complain to them, only that I think there's something wrong with the licensing process if someone can get through with recent professional fraud.

      If Pless is not a licensed attorney in Illinois, the IARDC does not have jurisdiction to sanction him. To my knowledge, the Illinois Supreme Court has never claimed the oversight of law school professionals, and given that they delegated the suitability of law schools to the ABA, see Rule 703 (God bless you, Justice Heiple, for dissenting), I don't think they have jurisdiction to suddenly demand that law school administrators conform to Illinois' attorney rules.

      What they need is for the state supreme court to either mandate admission/compliance, or to just give them the power to sanction administrators. Without the state supreme courts acting, however, there is simply no valid grounds for believing a disciplinary commission could discipline a non-lawyer in an administrative capacity at a law school.

      What gets glossed over far too often in these debates is that most state supreme courts could stop this mess, at least in their own state, tomorrow. They are either ignorant or consciously choose not to do so.

      Delete
  4. I would add that another deception likely rising to the level of fraud is the failure to disclose the instability of legal jobs and the clearly known statistics by the insiders demonstrating that the relatively high paying jobs in biglaw must be taken as basically temporary positions of only a few years duration for the vast majority of those who get them (Citigroup Accounting reported 80% attrition within 5 years in 2011). The law schools like to impress with how many graduates obtained a job in biglaw starting at 160K without disclosing the fact little known to those outside of biglaw and outside the law school administrators that the vast majority, likely 90% or more after 7 or 8 years, will no longer be working in biglaw and will not be able to get another job within biglaw.

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    1. At least at my law school almost everyone knew that Biglaw was up or out and that people only stayed for a few years before they burned out or were turned out. Read abovethelaw and you'll find that out pretty quick.

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    2. "and you'll find that out pretty quick."

      This is an argument that is getting made more and more - but it is in large part irrelevant.

      There is much, much more info available about the law school scam *today* (thank you internet and blog software) - but that says *nothing* about the lack of honest information and deceitful practices going back *decades*.

      Hundreds of thousands of lawyers have *already* been financially harmed due to law school deceit - the fact that the schools have *finally* been exposed as centers of sh*t-baggitry says *nothing* about their culpability for past crimes.

      But too many - including those upon the Bench - want to sweep the monumental corruptions of the past under the carpet as quick as is humanly possible.

      There is far, far too much human wreckage for this to be acceptable.

      The schools have earned the relentless wrath that pursues them.

      Delete
  5. The fact that Biglaw jobs are temporary for the overwhelming number of people who get them, i.e. 5 years and goodbye, hardly constitutes fraud. Nobody says a new grad is likely to keep such a job. ONe could analogize this to professional sports. Big, huge salaries, but limited job tenure. Where is the fraud? Your readers should understand that even after biglaw, there are many lawyers in firms of 10-50 lawyers who make a very good living. Its really all about hustling for business. I would like to see an analysis of whether the deceptions that have been addresssed in prior posts come under the purview of disciplinary bodies when the "education" function is arguably not the "practice of law" that disciplinary bodies concern themselves with. I understand that a felony conviction and such represents automatic disbarment.

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    1. I agree, it's not fraud. But, it is just another instance of applicants not understanding what the career of a lawyer is like, and law schools doing nothing to better inform them.

      The sad thing is I bet many deans and professors don't understand the attrition rate in BigLaw. They probably think the 80-90% of people who leave just go on to cushy in-house jobs or become tenured faculty, or work in even higher paying boutiques.

      Delete
    2. Sorry, my bad....I was confused when I went to law school. I thought law was a profession. I understood teachers, doctors, dentists, optometrists, nurses, chiropractors, etc. were professionals. Since they don't take temporary jobs and get pushed out wholesale in large numbers (overwhelming majorities), I assumed lawyers didn't either. Perhaps we should just drop the term "profession" altogether when referring to the lawyering business. I think that it is completely inappropriate to use the same term to describe the lawyering business as the professions I refer to above.

      Delete
    3. "I understood teachers, doctors, dentists, optometrists, nurses, chiropractors, etc. were professionals."


      I'm sorry, but why would anyone think of people who keep their jobs and their employment benefits via collective bargaining (teachers, nurses) as being "professionals"?


      As for the docs, ODs, dentists, and quackpractors, this would seem to be a good analogy inasmuch as each of these are the quintessential earn-what-you-bring-in profession.

      So where's your complaint, exactly?

      Delete
  6. Maybe the answer is something akin to the Surgeon General's warning, appended to every pamphlet, webpage or other promotional item given out by a law school.

    "WARNING: the American Bar Association has determined that the majority of statements directed at prospective law students by law schools consist of self-serving bullshit, intended to turn unrealistic ideas of a JD's worth into $100,000+ of revenue for the law schools. Use extreme caution in borrowing money to attend these institutions just because you're not sure what else to do with your bachelor's degree."

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  7. "The honest (and cynical) answer is that we don't take these rules seriously"

    You've got that right. I found it difficult to teach PR knowing that most of these rules only applied to small-law lawyers and even then, only occasionally.

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  8. Take a look at last week's decision by the Appellate Division, First Dept, in NY, dismissing a case against NY Law School for inflating its employment numbers. The Court noted that in releasing incomplete information, officials at the law school may have violated ethical rules.

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  9. 6:59 AM here again. The closest analogy to biglaw is the Big 4 accounting firms. You work a few years and you get pushed out. It really has always been that way. BTW, I am a male but I can tell you I have met so many females who worked in big law and who were gone as soon as they had their first child, never to return. For better or worse, most seemed to have no problem with that. That has to represent a meaningful % of attorneys who leave biglaw. I know it is very tough to get any job now but the truth is that many lawyers in 10-50 lawyer firms make a very good living. Let's say 300K +. It is not unusual at all, at least in NYC where I am. Getting jobs in high paying boutiques (except IP), law school faculties and the great in-house jobs is rare, but can be done, at least from a big law firm. Heck, I know somebody who is GC of a famous foundation.

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    1. 8:42 here,
      I agree and I think that at least at the top schools it's pretty well known that Biglaw is only for a few years. There's not a lot of data on what happens after Biglaw so it's hard to draw a conclusion either way.

      Delete
    2. Practicing law is not a fun way to spend one's waking hours. The real problem is a broader one: America's middle class is disappearing and the children of America's middle class are scrambling to try to hold onto a middle class lifestyle.

      Good paying jobs in commercial banking or middle management do not exist anymore. Same with most law jobs. So you have a whole crop of children who grew up in the middle class, bought into the education = upper middle class lifestyle, and now are being sorely disappointed. Worse, governmental attempts to expand access to education (and broaden the middle class) just mean more competition for few jobs AND a higher price to get an education as schools have captured the government loan money. It really is a terrible system now, and it's not getting better.

      All this nonsense about how we're "coming out of the greatest recession since the 1930s" and "baby boomer retirement" are just hogwash sold by politicos. There is a structural change going on. We're in global labor competition and the upper middle class as we knew it for the sixty year period from 1946 to 2006 does not exist anymore.

      Delete
    3. "We're in global labor competition and the upper middle class as we knew it for the sixty year period from 1946 to 2006 does not exist anymore"

      Agreed - except I would point to the "beginning of the End" being around 2001 (when the internet bubble cratered, China rose, and DC started to destroy the dollar as a store of value in order to hide the first two).

      Delete
    4. 9: 45,

      That was a very well thought out, cogent, and accurate assessment. I would point out though, that the politicos are willing to insulate certain groups from the horrors of global competition, while at the same time placing the burden of said insulation on the people braving the horrors of globalization.

      Delete
    5. and the trick is to get in on the gravy of that insulation while its still going on

      Delete
    6. Yes, of course, it's the fault of everyone else and everything else that I am a failure.

      Delete
    7. Contract terminal cancer, Leiter.

      Delete
    8. Personally, I think it is hilarious (and justified) that "Leiter" has now become a synonym for sh*tbag.

      Priceless.

      Delete
  10. One of the most remarkable things about the law school scam hiding in plain sight is the fact that most of these tenured professor aren't even licensed attorneys. Does it work the same way for medical school? Do nurses teach advanced histology? The fact that unlicensed charlatans posing as academics can teach law is analogous to an Amazonian witch doctor holding a teaching chair at John Hopkins.

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    Replies
    1. Golly, now THAT is "remarkable."

      Delete
  11. I agree that the conspicuously undisclosed attrition rate in BigLaw does not rise to the level of fraud or a disciplinary violation. It is, however, in a larger sense unethical. Law schools know perfectly well what the are selling: the potential reward of a six-figure salary out of the box and the implication that, with that, a law grad will have a comfortable four-decade career. It's really on par with state lotteries. Deans are just like the pitchman who's mouth you can't see move when he overdubs that week's big jack pot. Hey, you never know ...

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  12. LS Grad: I want the truth!!!

    LS Deans: You can't handle the truth!!!! We use words like honor, code, and loyalty. I'd rather you say thank you and went on your way.

    LS Grad: Did you order the tuition increase?!!!

    LS Dean: YOU'RE RIGHT I DID!!!

    (Sorry, still thinking about the previous JAG thread.)

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  13. Also someone who went to Hofstra and was injured by the dean's deceptions should file a complaint against former dean Nora Demleitner.

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  14. DJM, thank you for the write up (and thanks to the commenters for their feedback).

    A quick reply to the comment mentioning the Appellate Division case from New York (Gomez-Jimenez). I mention it briefly on page 53 of the draft, in the context of advisory opinions. Many bar organizations will issue advice on ethical issues if asked.

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    Replies
    1. Any thoughts on getting rapid declaratory judgments concerning the legality of various *public* law school practices (is the publication of incomplete/misleading placement stats in the public interest?, does such behavior void non-profit status?, etc.)

      Delete
  15. One thing missing from the section on scholarships is the practice of "section-stacking" or placing scholarship students in one section so that they are curved against each other rather than against the whole class. This allows a school to predict with more certainty what % of the scholarship money they will get back after one year.

    I've never seen verifiable confirmation of this practice other than on blogs and forums- but it is certainly an example of a fraud on the level of straight up falsifying admissions statistics. Perhaps a mention of the practice in theory to highlight the difference between common practice and what most people consider straight up deception.

    Additionally, an interesting thing about scholarship stipulations is that they get harder to meet the farther down the rankings you go, despite the fact that job prospects decline considerably. It might make sense for NYU to require a 3.4 GPA in order to stop students from simply blowing off 2L and 3L once they get their biglaw jobs. It doesn't really make sense for a school like NYLS, where everyone is busting ass to get in the top few percentiles to have a shot at a decent job. In fact, it does not really make sense to incentivize students to be in the classroom at all during 2L, since once they miss the boat for high status employment it makes much more sense to go out and do part-time legal work in hopes of getting hired on after graduation.

    Finally, the scholarship stipulations generally take advantage of the sunk cost fallacy and social stigma against dropping out. If you are bottom third at NYLS and lose your full scholly, it makes sense to cut your losses. But that's a lot harder call to make once you are actually in law school and have invested a full year of your time.

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    1. interesting point. it implies that the tuition increases in the 2L year at a TTT and T14 will be far different due to incentives.

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    2. I've never understood why someone would accept a scholly that required them to maintain a GPA that equates to the top 1/3 of the class.

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    3. -They don't know what a forced grading curve is, or that median could be a 2.7, because they are former liberal arts majors in classes where 80% of the students got a B or higher.

      -They are human beings, subject to the optimism bias, believing that there's no way they could end up outside top 20%, max.

      -They have no idea how law school classes work, that you can't simply grind your way to the top, and that you get two shots (Fall and Spring exams) to make grades with little feedback. Don't "get" law school exams until December? You're medianpwnd and need to get top 10% next semester to keep the scholly.

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    4. You've seen no "verifiable confirmation" yet it is "certainly an example of a fraud"???

      Huh?

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    5. While we're out eradicating section-stacking, let's take care of those alligators in the NYC sewers and Proctor & Gamble's satanism.

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    6. Read the next sentence. "In theory." If there was any evidence of the practice, I think it would be considered much more deceitful than simply not disclosing the concept of a forced grading curve former liberal arts majors.

      Delete
  16. Somewhat relatedly, it struck me that one reason that it's difficult to get any action against misrepresentations by law schools is that no one feels like they have the authority to impose the "death penalty" on a school. In particular, if any court ever let a former student's lawsuit against a law school get past a motion to dismiss, a likely result would be the insolvency of the school. To be sure, that may well be warranted in certain cases (cough, Cooley, cough), but it seems unlikely at this point that that is ever going to happen. The question, then, would seem to be whether there is some kind of sanction with sufficient "teeth" to change law school behavior that wouldn't threaten to wipe out a misbehaving law school, and secondly what pathway gets to that sanction.

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  17. Give me the states that they're barred in, and I will gladly report them.

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  18. In the Chronicle of Higher Education survey of college presidents' salaries for 2007-08, then-GWU President Stephen Trachtenberg [Father of Ben Trachtenberg] topped the nation with a compensation of $3.7 million.

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    1. Hmmm, I wonder who out there could be obsessively googling Ben Trachtenberg, for the purpose of posting irrelevant biographical information about him, in the form of a vaguely ad hominem argument???

      Delete
  19. Or post a draft and we can flood the bar with complaints.

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  20. Dream on you loosers.

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    Replies
    1. Inquiring minds wannaknow.

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  21. I nominate Joan King for disbarment.

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  22. Joan King has moved on to a better con game. She is a licensed realtor in UCONN (no pun intended).

    http://www.realtor.com/realestateagents/Joan-King_Southbury_CT_1145826_238522926?source=web

    If you notice on he e-business card, it states that Joan King specializes in conning people over 50. This parasite sure has all age groups covered.

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  23. I hope that everyone realizes that the wronged law graduates of the law schools need to file the complaints. The complaints won't just magically file themselves. Someone has to do it. You can also file complaints against other law school administrators who participated in the wrong doing, such as vice deans, directors of students services. Just make sure you have the facts to back up the complaint. That NY decision will certainly help those who file in NY. it is almost like the court is begging people to file ethics charges.

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    Replies
    1. Agree completely.

      But can the disciplinary committee act on a complaint from someone who wasn't directly injured?

      Delete
  24. Sure you can file a complaint if you are not directly injured. My point is that will someone who is not injured file a complaint? those who were injured have to stand up for themselves and not wait for someone else to do it.

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    Replies
    1. Aren't we all harmed by these lying liars who lie and their obvious lack of integrity?

      Delete
  25. TCM, or, I mean, the Turner Classic Movie Channel, is giving the rundown of all the people that Hollywood has lost this year and it is really friggin depressing. OMG the music and the images and all!

    I don't know if anyone is old enough to remember Davey Jones, but a few years back or so Jones was pulled over for a DWI, and Jones got out of his car and ran up to the cop and said:

    "Officer, you don't understand, I'm really a Monkee."

    And the Officer replied: "And I'm really a Police Officer, and you are under arrest."

    And in addition, a make up artist that worked on ET crossed over, and is now partaking of Glory this year, which really made me weep.

    Seven handkerchiefs.

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    Replies
    1. @Paintroach,

      WHY are you still posting here?!

      Aren't you slammed with your own blog, not to mention your busy work schedule? You know, like asking your parents for more allowance money? And thinking up reasons why you are "ineligible" for PSLF and therefore unwilling to get a job?

      Keep your promise, you parasite - stop posting here!

      Delete
  26. SHHHHHHHHH.

    Overture for Funny Girl now playing.

    Sigh! Babs! The vibrant and beautiful young Fanny Brice.

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  27. This is an interesting idea but ultimately it is going nowhere.

    For instance, at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Dean Hasl is (conveniently) set to retire at the end of the year. The new Dean will be able to plausibly state that all of the shady self-dealing occurred well before he even arrived and there is no rational reason why he suffer the ramifications for it.

    The dynamic would be similar to College Football Coaches; the coaches typically move on every 2-3 years or so and when the NCAA comes calling the schools blame the departed coach, and vice versa.

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  28. With Walter Pidgeon (of Forbidden Planet fame) as Florenz Zigfeld :)

    And a cameo by Robby the Robot

    Just kidding...

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  29. Re: Campos: he and DJM are doing all they can within the parameters of people so situated, and in that sense they are pushing the envelope quite a bit.

    To expect them to resign with heavy sighs after submitting a poison pen op ed to the NY times and in a spirit of moral purity is kind of Victorian and corny.


    ReplyDelete
  30. Remember something about bill Clinton being disbarred. What was that procedure? I think it was just based on integrity.

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  31. A Terrified Law Student aka Law School Fail has woken up and realizes that you are all full of crap. Campos, your sham is up! The reality is that people are starting to see this blog for the fraud that it is!

    http://www.lawschoolfail.com/2012/12/are-scamblogs-wrong.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Mr. Infinity! How's the blog?

      Delete
    2. The scam is about law schools swindling students based on fraudulent statistics.

      This has been proven.

      Delete
    3. @7:41 PM

      "The scam is about law schools swindling students based on fraudulent statistics."

      Plus a lot of specious reasoning, such as law degrees are versatile.

      Delete
    4. Stop giving Mr. Infartity Ad RevenuesDecember 28, 2012 at 7:40 AM

      Don't visit its `site, or you give it advertising revenues.

      Instead, google it and read it from google cached mode.

      Delete
  32. anyone post this yet?
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324677204578187401791974018.html

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  33. The biggest lesson learned from Trachtenberg's article is that the Nebraska Law Review has very low standards for publishing. We all lament the poor quality of today's legal scholarship, but since when did cutting and pasting from Above the Law constitute law review worthy writing? Embarrassing.

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    Replies
    1. Shouldn't you be cite checking your "jurisprudence of hip-hop" article?

      Delete
  34. If a law school dean should be disbarred there must e enough reasons to do so..netwind.com

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  35. another example of a distinguished law school dean just "following the rules" (the great UC Berkeley no less)

    http://www.mercurynews.com/weird-news/ci_22268634/uc-berkeley-law-students-charged-beheading-exotic-bird

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    Replies
    1. Deans treat unethical behavior by students the same way judges treat unethical behavior by law schools

      Delete
  36. But seriously, I know this is off topic, but this seems to be the new arrangement for SL debt and probably the biggest development after IBR/PAYE:

    http://www.sheboygandaily.com/2012/12/18/congressman-petri-introduces-student-loan-bill/

    It will cap interest at 50% of the principal balance upon graduation and prevent loans from spiraling out of control.

    Payments will be 15% of income automatically deducted from a paycheck, in addition to income tax.

    So under this plan, I guess a graduate with SL debt making about 60K a year could well be in a 40% "tax bracket" in a sense?

    What are the chances of this bill going through? And how long would it take for it to become effective if it does go through?

    A couple of years?

    In addition, I have read that there will be no more Public Service Loan Forgiveness under this plan.

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  37. ^^^In addition, the Justice Dept. will aggressively collect on older debts.

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  38. It is all really just advertising...December 28, 2012 at 6:48 AM

    All the information put out by law school administrations boils down to advertising, one way or the other. Student LSAT/GPA stats? Advertising how elite is our school. Graduate employment rates? Advertising how great is our school compared to some other school. Graduate salary outcomes? Ditto. Ditto. Ditto.


    Now, in every jurisdiction I've ever read about, advertising by lawyers is pretty strictly controlled, even to the extent of prohibiting speech that otherwise might raise first amendment concerns (to the extent a state bar association is a government actor).

    For example, let's say I've been in practice for 14 years and that I have won every single suit I've taken to trial.

    Can I state that fact in my small firm advertising? On my small firm's website?

    NOPE. Completely factual, yet such statements are said to raise a misleading impression in the mind of the reader, thus this statement or similar others of its ilk are forbidden. I would quickly be sanctioned for making such factual statements.


    Now - inasmuch as all the information pumped out by law school actors is basically advertising provided by lawyers, why is it not similarly sanctionable?

    Treated this way, it doesn't matter if some state's version of 8.4 requires intent to deceive.

    Treat it under MR 7 et seq. dealing with advertising.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Re: Terrified Law Student and all his Jazz:

    True the failed class action lawsuits took the stuffing out of the scamblog movement, for 2012 was to be the great year for the suits.

    But people should still be aware of what they are really getting into with the debt etc.

    Do you know I graduated from a 4th tier law school with seven D grades?

    Four were D+ grades, and three were a plain D.

    I think kids about to get their first semester grades should seriously consider if it is wise to continue to borrow money if their GPA's turn out to be marginal.

    I pushed on, and some of my D grades came in the 2nd and 3rd years.

    I mean some of those classes, like Trusts and Estates, were really really hard!

    Some people say that a grade of D in law school is not like a D anywhere else, and that it is a good and friendly D. A chuckling and jolly D that will poke you in the ribs with his elbow and slap you on the back and not so bad.

    But what would a client think if they ever saw?

    ReplyDelete
  40. William Jefferson Clinton, Esq. (formerly)December 28, 2012 at 7:37 AM

    @ 3:48 PM, "Remember something about bill Clinton being disbarred. What was that procedure? I think it was just based on integrity."

    Professor Lynn Hogue (of GSU - a crusty old bastard who taught military law and someone who takes an oath very, very seriously) filed the complaint that got WJC disbarred in Arkansas (note the original ruling in Arkansas was a 5 year suspension with fines rather than complete disbarment). Hogue is barred in several states including Arkansas.

    Subsequent the Arkansas action, the USSCT suspended WJC also and barred him from practice before it, and required him to "show cause" as to why he should not be disbarred from the Court. WJC smartly resigned instead (the show cause request means almost certainly you will be disbarred).

    The Arkansas action was not "just based on integrity". Rather, WJC had been found to have been in contempt of the court (by willfully disobeying the court's orders) and was sanctioned by the EDArk in the Paula Jones case.

    The judge in that case never actually mentioned "perjury" in her sanction order but did allude to lies and obstruction of justice ("Notwithstanding these orders, the record demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that the President responded by giving false, misleading and evasive answers that were designed to obstruct the judicial process."

    I saw this professor Hogue on CNN going head-to-head with Dershowitz while the Arkansas thing was pending. Although I don't necessarily agree with his politics, I have to admit he really sliced and diced Dershowitz from a logic/legal perspective.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The prosecutors in the Clinton case were not able to prove up perjury. It's one of the reasons the impeachment went nowhere. Kenneth Star would have lost a criminal case, which probably is why he never sought an indictment.

      Clinton's lawyers submitted a 184 page brief outlining his defense, which was summarized in this article: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/1998/12/what_is_clintons_perjury_defense.html

      The bottom line here is an important one for young lawyers to learn: learn how to ask a Goddam question, because a witness will answer the question you ask, and not the one you meant to ask.

      What is so striking about this case is how staggeringly incompetent the Paula Jones lawyers were. If you are going to set a perjury trap, do it right!

      Bill Clinton did not fight the disbarment because he will never have to practice law again. Currently, he is one of our most popular presidents -- whether that reputation is deserved or not.

      Delete
    2. Also, this demonstrates the law of unintended consequences. While the judge who permitted the Paula Jones case to go forward against a sitting President may have believed that allowing this case to proceed was harmless, that proved to be far from true.

      It is reasonable to believe that the whole Paula Jones case was a vehicle for powerful right wing interests to attack a sitting president. The fact that Clinton's deposition was used to set a perjury trap, which was pursued by Kenneth Star makes this conclusion unavoidable.

      The subsequent impeachment proceedings were a giant distraction which brought the Federal Government to a grinding halt.

      The President was preoccupied with this non-sense and it is reasonable to conclude that this prevented him from performing his duties. Perhaps the most important thing that was neglected was Al Quaeda and Osama bin Laden.

      Of course, we saw the effects of this neglect in the first two months of the Bush administration, with the 9/11 attacks, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

      So perhaps that Federal judge should feel someone responsible for the impeachment proceedings, the 9/11 attacks and two wars.

      Delete
    3. "Currently, he is one of our most popular presidents..."

      So that would give him an un-fluffed MSM approval rating of, what, 3%?

      Delete
    4. @826/901,

      LOL, sounds like you have a dog in this fight. You wouldn't by any chance BE Bill Clinton, would you?

      If you're interested in assigning blame for 9/11, perhaps you should turn your focus inward. I don't suppose Bill Clinton's habit of firing Tomohawk missiles into Muslim countries every time he was on the hot seat had anything to do with causing 9/11, did it? Note that the unprovoked missile attacks against targets picked at random infuriated Muslims, but did nothing to disrupt their ability to attack us.

      If that dingleberry doesn't deserve the lion's share of the blame for 9/11, can you name a single American who does?

      Oh, and if you actually think that Clinton's testimony was "legally or technically accurate," then you're even more f**ked up than he is.

      Delete
    5. "184 page brief"
      - wow, size does matter? WTF does the brief length have to do with the price of tea in China? (Ans: None whatsoever)


      "It is reasonable to believe that the whole Paula Jones case was..."
      - Gee. Reasonable? Why? Because you say so?


      "The prosecutors in the Clinton case were not able to prove up perjury. "
      - Well, in actual point of fact, President Clinton was acquitted because Senator Robert Byrd did the correct thing (for the country) and refused to convict him.
      - But the court contempt/sanction above and his censure by the Arkansas bar aren't about perjury charges. It's plain old, simple contempt sanctions for lying in court and during discovery in the Jones case.
      - President Clinton admitted and acknowledged, officially and on the record, that he:

      a. knowingly gave evasive and misleading answers in an attempt to conceal from Jones' lawyers the true facts of his relationship with Lewinsky; and
      b. that by his conduct outlined above, he engaged in conduct that was prejudicial to the administration of justice.

      This is all a matter of public record.

      Delete
    6. It's too bad the partisan Senate Democrats DIDN'T kick his ass to the curb. Perhaps a successor who wasn't "distracted" by the rightful consequences of his own wrongdoing would have been able to prevent 9/11.

      Delete
  41. Perhaps this article could be expanded to include misrepresentations in statistics at the undergraduate level as well. For example, there was recently an admissions data scandal similar to the ones Professor Trachtenberg chronicles at Villanova and Illinois at the undergraduate level at George Washington. According to this article, the misrepresentations went back a decade: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505145_162-57547972/a-new-college-rankings-scandal/ The President of George Washington during much of that decade was Steven Trachtenberg, Esq.

    This article discusses President Trachtenberg's role in the tuition arms race among universities, as his institution rose to the most expensive in the country. http://www.nationaljournal.com/features/restoration-calls/stephen-trachtenberg-is-not-sorry-20120927

    ReplyDelete
  42. Most likely, disbarring a dean or two would have a very profound effect on law schools. In fact, having a few bar complaints would probably do the trick.

    However, disciplinary counsel usually does not go in search of violations. Someone has to file a bar complaint. Until a bar complaint has been filed, disciplinary counsel will not do anything.

    Also, disciplinary counsel tend to be very protective of the legal establishment. Usually they pursue small solo practitioners, who they often hound mercilessly. You see, the little guys are easy targets and typically cannot fight back.

    However, law school deans will fight back, and will raise quite a ruckus.

    It's why big law seldom gets targeted, even though their fraud, especially with respect to billing, is legion and well known. The stories about double billing, billing 36 hours in a single day and so on are quite common. Not only that, they encourage their associates to engage in billing fraud; just because an associate bills 20 hours in a day, does not mean he actually worked 20 hours. This sort of fraud has gone unpunished for decades.

    Anyone who is going to bring such a complaint is probably going to need to actually put the case together for disciplinary counsel. That means finding the fraudulent misrepresentations, being able to prove they were wrong, proving the deans knew or authorized the statements, and proving that the deans knew these statements were incorrect.

    Otherwise, disciplinary counsel will simply dismiss the complaint without conducting an investigation. Even if the case is put together, disciplinary counsel, more likely than not will dismiss the complaint anyway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, it should be easy to prove for Pless. The evidence has already been gathered. It would be a start anyway, at a return to integrity.

      Delete
  43. Nothing's going to happen. You complain and complain but when it comes time to do something you do nothing. I bet a month from now not a single complaint has been filed against a dean. Six months, same thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. STFU Leiter. You ramble on over and over about how scamblogs have no effect and yet it's clearer every day that they do. I bet a month from now you'll be saying the same thing. Six months, same thing.

      Delete
  44. Huge Whining About SucessDecember 29, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    WTF is success, anyway? Y'all whine about what is success.

    Is "success" getting a job that pays 50K a year, and holding onto it?

    Is "success" getting a job that pays xxK a year, and being able to see your kids grow up?

    Because I can tell you, with no whining, that having a job that pays XX+X means you will not be able to see your kids grow up.

    Period.

    ReplyDelete
  45. All kind of law information available here..
    law

    ReplyDelete
  46. "believer in "the market," which according to him is now self-correcting, as many fewer people apply to law school."

    the market is capable of self-correcting.. but it's not the market that is setting tution.. What is setting the tution is a third party(the goverment) letting the student borrow an unlimited amount of money. no pure private entity would make these loans 99% of the time without a third party goverment guarantee. law schools would be FORCED to cut costs if the federal goverment got out of the market.

    ReplyDelete

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