They're putting their names to various arguments regarding why law school isn't really a bad investment after all, let alone -- heaven forbid! -- a "scam" (scare quotes required). For this they should get some credit. Unfortunately the quality of the arguments they're putting forth tends to confirm the harshest accusations of legal academia's most strident critics.
Check out these two train wreck threads, on JDU and TLS respectively, along with the thread I linked this weekend from the Faculty Lounge. What we're seeing here is what happens when legal academics meet law school graduates and current law students on something resembling a level rhetorical playing field, as opposed the intensely hierarchical atmosphere inside law schools themselves. The results aren't pretty.
A few general observations:
(1) Steve Diamond appears to be a big believer in "the market," which according to him is now self-correcting, as many fewer people apply to law school. I can only imagine how exasperating these sorts of assertions must be to people like Kyle McEntee, Patrick Lynch, and Derek Tokaz, aka Law School Transparency. The reason applications to law schools are collapsing is in no small part because LST has collectively invested literally thousands of hours of free labor in helping correct a massive market failure. The market for law school seats has for decades suffered from increasingly severe distortions, many - although far from all -- a product of the lack of information transparency that has begun to be corrected over the past two years -- again, in considerable part because of McEntee's, Lynch's, and Tokaz's efforts.
And this market failure was hardly accidental: law schools were perfectly well aware that the easy availability of accurate employment and salary statistics would be a disaster for many of them, which is why they didn't disclose any more information than they were required to do by their "regulators" (i.e., themselves), which is to say almost none. Shockingly, but not surprisingly, people like Diamond are now arguing that enough information was available for reasonably prudent applicants to figure out just how bad of investment a degree from his own law school was.
Leaving aside that the linked threads make clear that Prof. Diamond, J.D. Ph.D., seems quite incapable of figuring this out even now, this is pure revisionist history. Until about 15 minutes ago there were no even vaguely reliable employment and salary statistics regarding outcomes for graduates of the vast majority of law schools. That's one of the things that LST has worked so hard to change. (There are still basically no reliable long-term data at all, although there's a lot of circumstantial evidence suggesting that long-term outcomes for graduates of schools like Diamond's are even worse than Santa Clara's dire NALP nine-month employment statistics).
(2) Given (1), what can one say about Diamond's assertion -- which he since tried unconvincingly to walk back as a joke -- that LST has been doing what they're doing for the money? Note that he still won't shut up about LST filing an IRS Form 990, even though LST isn't required to do so, since the organization has essentially no income.
Speaking of jokes, Diamond's effort to play the martyr, on the basis of the claim that a throwaway line at the end of post at Constitutional Daily, suggesting that students not enroll in his classes in order to pressure SCU into getting rid of him, is one of the more preposterous things I've ever seem a legal academic try to get away with, which is saying something.
(3) Meanwhile Larry Mitchell doesn't seem to know how to quit when he's behind. In the wake of his widely panned NYT op-ed on why "law school" (as opposed to, say, attending Case Western at the advertised rate) is supposedly still a good bargain, he doubled down in an interview with a skeptical journalist. As helpfully transcribed and commented on by a TLS poster:
Interviewer: "The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that there will be 74,000 new lawyer jobs opening up over the next decade. During that time, American law schools will graduate over 400,000 law graduates, so there's a massive oversupply problem."Oh my. Note that Mitchell doesn't seem to have a good enough grasp of the statistics here to point out that the BLS estimate of oversupply is "only" 2-to-1, since the 74,000 figure doesn't include outflow from the profession. Note too the extent to which he is properly savaged by just about every commenter at TLS, despite TLS being traditionally a far more genteel and establishment-defending venue than the shark tank at JDU, where Prof. Diamond being ripped to shreds was perfectly predictable.
Dean: "It's not clear to me there's an oversupply at all."
Interviewer: "Really, because that's like a 4-to-1 ratio."
Dean: "Well only 20% of the legal needs of poor people are being met. They should go [start firms that?] serve those people."
Interviewer: "But you can't do that if you're taking out six-figure debt."
Dean: "You know . . . you can and you can't. We've gotten into a situation where we measure the worth of higher eduction by the dollar return on the investment." [Goes on to talk about the value of doing what you love, and yes, the "versatility" of the JD.]
If this is the best the defenders of the status quo can do, then we should all start polishing our resumes.*