Monday, January 7, 2013

Diamonds in the rough

Over the past couple of years, the extent of the law school disaster has gradually become a matter of  public debate, and this fact is starting to hit law schools where it hurts. So some law school administrators and faculty have begun to fight back, by doing something other than posting anonymous comments on the internet.

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."

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.]
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.

If this is the best the defenders of the status quo can do, then we should all start polishing our resumes.*


*Joke#


#Sort of

131 comments:

  1. Law schools will hurt bad in 2013. Maybe some will shut down when their debt to income ratio tanks

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    5. We can only hope that "removed by blog administrator" means that PC is finally realizing that letting you-know-who ruin the comments serves no function, free speech or otherwise. I'm glad the comments no longer resemble inpatient group therapy at Willowbrook.

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  3. Law professors are well meaning and got caught up in this just by doing what they want to do, teach and write. Asking them to rethink their mission is a bit much. I won’t comment on the quality of the writing or teaching, since it varies greatly even within institutions. As far as I can tell, there seem to be as many law professors out there actively advocating for changing the system as there are actively defending it.

    The real culprits are the administrators of these schools, who seem to know better but can’t, or won’t, cut the size of their classes. Seems like someone needs to force them to. The professors won’t.

    My understanding is that the last time the Higher Education Act, which is the federal law that governs federal student financial assistance, was amended was in 2008, which means it might be up for amendment this year or next. Can we start to make some concrete proposals to amend the HEA and present them to legislators? Maybe like a “gainful employment” rule which requires that a school be able to document that over 50% of its graduates are employed in long term full time jobs that require a degree granted in that field (in our case a JD) as a condition to for its students to receive student financial assistance?

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    1. Why not just cap governmental student loans as they were in the past? Say, for law school, $25,000 in total borrowing per year?

      Would that not solve the problem? Would we not see costs plummet or schools close?

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    2. Or take the government out of student lending entirely. And then watch the "free marketeers" like Prof. Diamond howl!

      Politically impossible, I know.

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    3. "The real culprits are the administrators of these schools..."

      And where do these evil administrators come from?

      Oh yeah, law faculty.

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    4. We've been working on some ideas. If you (or anybody else) is interested in working on this, please let me know at lawschooltransparency@gmail.com We've already begun talking to various congressional staffers about ideas, and I'm hoping to help make this an issue this year since the HEA is up for reauthorization.

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    5. You could write LST but putting your suggestions here would allow for some quality brain storming. Law school admins are convening calls on how to keep the spigot open and we clearly have more brain power on our side, both measured by quality and quantity, than they do.

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    6. "Law professors are well meaning and got caught up in this just by doing what they want to do, teach and write. Asking them to rethink their mission is a bit much."

      Was this a law prof posting.

      I mean everyone I know would like to be "doing what they want to do...." The trouble is that, for the most part no one gets to do "what they want to do," they get to do what the market will pay for, at the remuneration level that the market is willing to pay. Law professors have largely sought to do the minimum amount of actual teaching possible, the maximum amount of vague writing - while asking to be paid as if, or indeed better, than most private practice lawyers.

      Law professors are not the innocents suggested in your posting.

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    7. Kyle,

      The only way that a "reform" will not be eviscerated by the political class is if it is proffered in a way such that it offers something to taxpayers and gives the Obama administration some political cover for its PAYE plan.

      I think a good first "reform" would be to cap federal lending such that taxpayers won't take a total beating from PAYE and law school. Capping total federal LS borrowing at $100k per student would do the trick. Tough to argue that this is "punitive" as it is one hundred thousand dollars. 10 percent for 20 years wouldn't be so problematic either -- for students or taxpayers.

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    8. Kyle,

      For the professional schools, students who leave without graduating and agree not to take the professional exams should be given certain debt forgiveness. This may encourage more attrition.

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    9. @9:20 Very sound advice. I also agree that caps will be a first step, though it will require several other steps to work well. For example, I think I'd want to reintroduce bankruptcy to private student loans (at least for grad school) and cap interest at the grad plus rate on those loans.

      @12:16 I'll have to think about this. It might shift too much risk away from borrowers.

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    10. Require a certain income level for a certain percentage of the class as a condition of the school using government loans to finance student educations. The whole portion of the class that is working in l egal jobsshould not be earning $30,000 a year. Someone needs to be working and earning enough to pay off the educational debt.

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  4. I think law schools are hoping that IBR/PAYE will be a lifeline. At least a lifeline to approximately 100 schools outside the T-14.

    I suspect that many good-but-not-great private schools (such as Case Western, Emory, Tulane, Wash St. Louis, Syracuse) are waiting to see if they are net beneficiaries as lower-ranked private schools close.

    Magic 8-ball predicts that once schools begin closing, there will be calls among other schools to "reform" the lower ranked schools out of existence as they compete for a shrinking pool of suckers and dollars.

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    1. Syracuse is public, I think.

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    2. Syracuse is private, in the sense that it does not receive general fund dollars from the state of New York.

      You could make the argument that all law schools are public, though, given that they are all dependent upon federal financial aid money for survival.

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  5. What would Cooley LS do?

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  6. The conventional wisdom has changed. GAWKER's official position (as the paper of record for snarky pop culture):

    Law school tuitions are up. Lawyer salaries are down. And there are only enough jobs for half of you, anyhow. IT'S A SUCKER'S BET. A CLEAR SUCKER'S BET.

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  7. The pigs are supposedly the best and brightest, too. However, the facts are CLEARLY not in their favor. Hell, the situation is analogous to boxing Mike Tyson, with four ounce gloves, not favoring a 140 pound weakling. As such, the law school pigs keep getting their asses stomped.

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  8. The facts are not on their side. Their best and most common arguments are the ones that rely on non-falsifiable claims. As the evidence mounts, they'll be forced to retreat from those as well.

    Consider Steve Diamond's attempt to argue that his TTT of a school puts a greater emphasis on public interest careers than does nearby Stanford. Commenters produced data showing that Stanford places more graduates in public sector jobs than does Diamond's TTT. I enjoyed that.

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  9. Diamond's assertion that the market is self-correcting and proceeding precisely according to schedule reminds me of Keynes' famous statement that in the long run, we're all dead.

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    1. This quote is often used to flippantly dismiss long-term impacts of current decisions.

      True, in the long run we're all dead. I am just worried about the part where the shortsighted decisions explode, the decision-makers are dead and I am still alive,in the hurt-box.

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    2. actually, he's a big believer in the idea that markets self-correct only when it comes to continuing the oversupply of students at SCU (which pays his salary).

      in all his other professional work, he's a foe of that idea. it just goes to show that economic self-interest can cloud the minds of high-iq people as easily as it does for low-iq people.

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    3. 938: no argument here. I intended the quote to show just the opposite though.

      Keynes was fighting people who said that the market's Invisible Hand would work its magic (or "self-correct") if just given enough time. He replied that that's easy to say if you're in the privileged position of being able to wait. In the meantime, though, others who are not so lucky will die (or have their careers and finances ruined) in the meantime.

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  10. Larry Mitchell's statement that "we've gotten into a situation where we measure the worth of higher education by the dollar return on the investment" is profoundly dishonest and/or stupid on a number of levels. But what most pisses me off about it the lie that there is an unmet need for services that lawyers could tap into and make a living on if only they weren't turning their noses up at representing the downtrodden.
    Unlike probably 99% of American law professors I actually do volunteer for a legal aid office that provides indigent representation. Operative word there is "volunteer." Legal Services Corp doesn't have the money to pay any more lawyers than it already pays, and if you think that's changing any soon what you're saying about yourself is that you really don't understand anything about the how the political process works here in the USA.
    Taking Legal Services Corp out of the picture, what else is left to pay lawyers for such services? My state (IL) is so broke I lack the words to convey how broke it is. Local governments? Ha. I find it hard to believe that any non-insane adult could possibly be so stupid as to think that the large cross-section of America that finds itself without a pot to piss is somehow able to support for-profit law offices. This is the kind of lie you tell when you're not trying to dupe anyone sophisticated, but you know that a bunch of well-meaning young college grads might be naive enough to buy into it.

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    1. This.

      The "there is plenty of work if you're willing to work for free" argument is no argument at all. There is plenty of landscaping, gardening, lawn mowing, house painting, laundry doing, form filling, x, y, and z, work out there, if you're willing to do it for no money.

      But so what? Why would someone go $150k in debt to do it? Join a nunnery or a monastery to do public service for the needy for free. It's a lot cheaper.

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    2. Yes, once deans like Trachtenberg at GW decided to use market strategies to drive up their revenues, higher education became about the green. It's only that people are starting to realize and accept this and are willing to walk away from it that they are howling about how it's more than just the numbers.

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    3. "we've gotten into a situation where we measure the worth of higher education by the dollar return on the investment"

      Yes, this was one of the more rank passages of a stench-filled performance.

      The obvious response is to turn his shameless posturing back onto him (and his ilk):

      "We're gotten into a situation where we measure the worth of a *teaching career* by the money it pays - so I think all law school professors should earn no more than the US median *household* income (two-earner) for their six hour workweeks."

      The eternally correct response to moral poseurs such as Mitchell is to shove their posturing hypocrisy immediately up their *ss.

      Over and over again.

      Until they stop.

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    4. And this Mitchell asshole tries to make us look like grasping, greedy pigs with nothing but filthy lucre on our minds. As if a six-figure expenditure didn't warrant some thought about its financial implications.

      Grotesquely overpaid Mitchell expects a halo for supposedly being above such base concerns as money.

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  11. The takeaway quote from Diamond's JDUnderground comments:

    "The consequences for law students and for society as a whole of the destruction of tenure and academic freedom made by Tamanaha would be far worse than the circumstances we are now dealing with."

    Diamond is hearing far-away hoofbeats. They are getting louder, and he suspect that they are not friendly.

    All of a sudden, being a tenured law professor at the 96th-best law school doesn't seem to be the guaranteed lifetime sinecure that it seemed to be a few years ago.

    It is seems obvious that for law professors, the future holds:

    1) less money

    2) a lot more teaching responsibilities

    ...and that's if you get to keep your job.

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  12. Diamond tried to argue in the FL thread that Silicon Valley was "underlawyered" because:

    1) there are po' people appearin' pro se!

    2) companies (notably start-up techs) could avoid litigation by engaging in more conscious risk-averse strategizing/transactional law.

    (1) is like saying there needs to be more grocery stores and Red Lobsters in Somalia so the children can eat. (2) doesn't actually argue for an undersupply, since it merely would reshuffle lawyers from litigation to transaction/consulting work.

    Diamond is taking the value of a Yale JD down every time he types and presses "enter."

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  13. Also on the JDUnderground thread, Diamond made a passing reference to "the available IBR plans recently bolstered by Obama".

    I can't wait for the law schools to start really pushing that:

    "Yes, you'll make no money graduating from law school, but thanks to IBR, it doesn't make any difference how much you borrow, since your loan repayments will be capped!

    Who cares that you'll be permanently cut off from all consumer credit if you are on IBR?"

    Somehow I think even Don Draper will have a hard time selling that one...

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  14. As a general rule, nice people don't need lawyers. Well, maybe if they have been seriously hurt in an automobile accident. But those people do not have a hard time getting a lawyer.

    When people talk about unmet legal needs, they are talking about divorces. After one has practiced for a while, one learns there is nothing particularly difficult about divorces. In most states, if someone wants a marriage to end, it will end. In most divorces, there are no real assets, so the parties are dividing debt. They need a bankruptcy lawyer more than a divorce lawyer. Bankruptcy is a simple administrative matter for 99% of the cases.

    Even child custody is not that difficult. All a Court need to do is find out who is doing the real parenting; that parent gets custody. Usually the only reason there is a problem is because the other parent does not want to pay child support.

    The unmet need for lawyers is much smaller than certain legal academics want to admit. The reason these legal services are not being provided is because the problems do not merit the attention of someone with years of training.

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  15. I'll disagree with the term "massive market failure" in a situation where the federal government loans out or guarantees money to students who have no chance of paying back the loans and, unlike private lenders, it apparently doesn't care about getting repaid.

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  16. With PAYE, the price of law school is 10% of your salary for 20 years. The nominal tuition charged by a school is monopoly money.

    You, the borrower, no longer are price sensitive. It's a bad deal from a market efficiency and taxpayer standpoint. Cost of attendance no longer is priced in dollars and no longer is predictable and no longer is subject to market forces.

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    1. If IBR does take off in a big way it will enable law schools to continue business as usual - raising tuition faster than inflation year after year indefinitely. But it would be a pyrrhic victory. At some point reality would assert itself. The government will rescind IBR, or crack down on how much they are willing to lend, or students would wake up to the very real and serious disadvantages of IBR.

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  17. Hearing the dean brag about a Case alum as the "president of Eastman Kodak" HAHAHA this guy really is stuck in the 1970s. President of Eastman Kodak is not something to be proud of at all.

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    1. I just sold my shares of Eastman Kodak—to realize the capital loss in 2012. The damn things had been on the pink sheets for years.

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  18. Re: Dean Mitchell, I think we should be careful with our language regarding student debt. (paraphrasing)

    Reporter: "Your tuition is 40k a year! How could you possibly expect people to pay that back!?"

    Dean's response: "Actually, we give out a significant amount of financial aid."

    Reporter leaves it at that.


    Rather than having a debate about nominal tuition and allowing shills to respond with their nonsense about "scholarships" why not simply state:

    "You school's most recent graduates average $95k in debt when they graduate, and that doesn't even include the three years of interest incurred on that principal. How can this person meet the unmet legal needs of the poor?"

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  19. I'd like to comment on the Deans remark regarding viewing education solely on the dollar return on investment, etc. It's a fair enough point. There's nothing wrong with education for education's sake, and certainly nothing wrong with persuing outcomes that are sub-optimal from a dollar and cents perspective, but may offer other rewards.

    However, there is a big difference between a sub-optimal ROI and the financial disaster that law schools are currently peddling.

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    1. "There's nothing wrong with education for education's sake"

      ...if you don't go 100K into debt doing it.

      If you owe 100K, it had damn better lead to a lucrative job.

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  20. Richard HershbergerJanuary 7, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    Not to defend Diamond, but I looked into law school ten or so years ago and decided it didn't make sense. The key is that I didn't look at official stats. I worked in a room full of freshly-minted JDs on a temp document coding job. I interacted with these people enough to know that many of them were very smart people. We talked about the numbers. I realized that the number only made sense if you got hired at a biglaw firm. These people weren't, and weren't going to be. I also talked to some of the associates in the firm that was running the project. They weren't any smarter than some of the coders. And while their financial situations were better, they also were, as a class, very unhappy people. The partners were even unhappier.

    A roll of the dice, where the prize is a miserable job? I think not.

    This isn't to say that someone in a slightly different situation wouldn't have looked instead at the official stats and, after all due diligence, been mislead. But it was perfectly possible to figure out ten years ago that law school is a bad bet.

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    1. Hmmmm...where did you get the term "coders"?

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    2. Where 'perfectly possible' means 'if you knew a lot of lawyers'.

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  21. Particularly galling is how Diamond seems to believe that before 2008 everything was just fine with the law school industry. Actually it looks like there was a severe oversupply of lawyers before then.

    Go to pre-scamblog sites and you'll see plenty of comments trying to warn people away from law school, although they were generally laughed at. The great recession has merely revealed the truth about the oversupply of lawyers, it hasn't caused it.

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    1. "Actually it looks like there was a severe oversupply of lawyers before then."

      Going to a lower-ranked law school has always been a complete crapshoot. The difference between then and now is that it is so freaking expensive to go to law school.

      Decades ago, I knew a number of people who worked for awhile, and then decided to go to law school (either full-time or at night). They had varying degrees of success in using the law degree afterwards, but all they had invested was some money and a whole lot of time. They weren't ruined financially if the law degree wasn't particularly remunerative.

      Of course, back then, law school tuition was limited by the ability of students to pay - with the onset of Federal loans, law schools jacked tuition through the roof, setting up financial ruin for students who did not benefit financially from the degree.

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    2. I'm a little hazy on the details, but it looks like in 2007-2008 there was a "perfect storm" of events which enabled law schools to jack up their tuition beyond all reason.

      * The credit shocks caused private loan for college to dry up. The federal government largely took over lending, and they are far more willing to hand out money.

      * Large numbers of people decided graduate school was a good option to ride out the recession, with law school being a very popular option.

      So we have a surge of new students capable of borrowing more money than ever before. Of course the colleges increased their tuition and their spending to absorb this influx of cash. Thats what colleges do, they can't help themselves.

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  22. I am still amazed at the assertion of Diamond, and the apparently the courts, that there has always been enough information available to the prospective student about the expected employment outcomes for them to make an informed decision. This is simply not true and the results of the efforts of LST cannot be underestimated.

    It reminds me of a book I read recently about how NHL players were treated in the days before there was a players union. Gordie Howe for example was only making 10K per year when he was the best player in the league, while other lesser players, even on his own team, were making much more. The issue was clearly available information. He trusted the officials who told him 'not to talk to anyone about his salary because he was making so much more than other players'. Information about the reality of the situation was not shared and for many years only those on the inside knew how much players were paid, and how profitable teams were. A key fact behind the concept that all player salaries are now public.

    Here with the schools the fact that the information is now out has completely changed the situaiton, but they too have profited handsomely (and still do) on the lack of information that the courts say was readily available. I would like to see where this information was available five years ago.

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  23. So, uh, Brian Leiter has a post today backing up Steve Diamond and reinforcing the "irrationality" the law school critics, including calling the complaint against Rutgers-Camden "frivolous."

    Is Leiter still claiming he isn't trolling these sites regularly?

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    1. "The last paragraph encapsulates the juvenile irrationality of these folks quite well, and it is the theory that has underlay the lawsuits against law schools, which have been uniformly dismissed by the courts outside California."

      I noticed he mentions California. Someone used to troll here about all of the law suits having been dismissed, until posters pointed out that the California cases have proceeded to discovery.

      "With the legal strategy apparently having failed, "Law School Transparency," which made common cause with the plaintiffs' lawyers in those cases, has now switched gears to filing frivolous complaints against law schools with the ABA."

      Someone used to troll here about how "nobody will do anything," meaning, actually file a complaint with the ABA. Now that one has been filed, it's "frivolous."

      This obsessive little freak is grasping at straws.

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    2. The failure of those lawsuits in no way redeems the law schools. At least some of those lawsuits appear to have been shabby and hopeless. That doesn't mean that the law schools were right or that other people may not have valid claims against law schools.

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    3. Up until very recently many, if not most, people just assumed, without question, that a law degree was a safe bet, a guaranteed ticket to lucrative employment. A lot less people believe this now though, fortunately.

      One of the purposes of these lawsuits is to continuing getting the word out there that just maybe Law School isn't a safe bet. Even if people scoff at first, the seed of doubt would have been planted. So win or lose, the message is getting out, hopefully.

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

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  25. I will provide a simple suggestion to law school transparency, its called cost control and its used by many other government programs.

    If a law school wishes to be eligible to receive federal loan money through its students it cannot increase its tution each year more then one point over the rate of inflation as calculated through the CPI for the region in which it is located. If schools do not want to obay such a rule their students will have to fund through a completely private lending market which means practically speaking, only the top three to five law schools could opt out, since most banks would not privately underwrite unsecured, non guaranteed law loans.

    A number of law schools would then collapse because either they could not afford to run because they have to increase their tuition well above the rate of inflation each year, and secondly, some universities would shut down their law schools since they could no longer tranfer 20% or more of their revenue each year to the university at large.

    The benefit to the government, besides fewer law schools, and less law school graduates, is that it would not be overpaying for a commodity for which there is already a surplus. If there are two Tier 3 law schools, in the same state, why should the government loan money to school A which costs $50K a year, when school B only charges $30K a year and produces a very similer product?

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    1. Your third paragraph assumes these schools need the current amount of revenue to operate and I'm not sure that's true as both salaries and personnel can both be cut.

      Delete
    2. I agree with 4:17. Once the shit hits the fan, the Boomers will turn on the younger professors. Once they are gone the Boomers will then begin turning on themselves, criticizing the other's scholarship work and stabbing each other in the back in a desperate bid to ensure they have a chair when the music stops.

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  26. similar product. oops.

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  27. I can't wait for those like Diamond and Mitchell to lose their jobs. Since no law firm is going to want them (despite their claims to the contrary) I guess they'll have to get by meeting all of the unmet legal needs they talk about.

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  28. It's law school professor or WalMart greeter-and they know it (hence the panic setting in).

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  29. Is Brian Leiter generally respected among law professors? I realize he's got a lot of enemies, but do people generally agree that he is a smart man?

    He is not afraid to come to the defense of, or even endorse, quite bad arguments. So far he has endorsed the arguments of commenter "Anon", even declaring that he "won" a debate with DJM on the taxprof blog. And he know appears to be endorsing Diamond's efforts, calling them an attempt to "reason with the crazies".

    Would Leiter make those same arguments under his own name? Is he a moron?

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  30. Leiter is an amazingly good troll. I will try very hard to make this the last time I mention his name in these comment threads. The guy's opinion on these subjects deserves no publicity. Despite his claims to the contrary, he's yet to contribute to this discussion in an intelligent and helpful way.

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  31. How come My partner and i never thought of their?
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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Go to hell, you parasitic jerk.

      Delete
  32. Brian Leiter is a complete loser. End of story. When the shit hits the fan, he'll be out on the pavement because he adds absolutely no value to Chicago, nor would he at any other law school. All the rhetoric about making law school more useful for law students, if it's not bluster, will make Leiter completely obsolete. I will relish the day he is trolling for blog views like commenter 5:28.

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  33. Excellent article re: the student loan bubble:

    http://www.infowars.com/the-student-loan-debt-bubble-is-creating-millions-of-modern-day-serfs/

    ReplyDelete
  34. Mr. Diamond's melt-down hit the big time -- he is on ATL: http://abovethelaw.com/2013/01/non-sequiturs-01-07-13/?show=comments#comments

    ReplyDelete
  35. There was a recent article in the Wall Street Journal about "Big Law" firms sacking PARTNERS as their business shrinks. Clearly the rout is underway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They have to free up sable-carpeted corner offices for law professors.

      Delete
    2. ^^^This. Funny.

      Delete
  36. It's not all bad. At least another law school is going to open in Texas. There must be a shortage of lawyers.

    http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/local/article_4139c218-59ae-11e2-86c9-001a4bcf6878.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, right by Mexico!

      I smell international law as a specialty...

      Delete
  37. Oh, oh ... looks like an "apology" for Steve Diamond. LOL

    http://www.constitutionaldaily.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1902:we-were-wrong-about-professor-diamond-and-we-apologize&catid=42:news&Itemid=71

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seemed a little overdone to me and focuses on some of the unimportant (albeit still dumb) comments Diamond made. His house though, he can certainly publish what he wants.

      Delete
  38. Would you hire a law professor to do legal work for you?

    If the answer is "no" or "of course not" you've identified the problem.

    This should be the standard by which faculty are evaluated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I disagree completely. For example, you can teach the anatomy of a contract without being a successful transactional attorney. I'm not even sure you need a lot or any practice experience to do this as you can learn it on your own.

      Delete
    2. That's absurd. Would you hire a dolphin as a swim instructor? Teaching is a profession in its own right.

      FWIW, I think your average junior high history teacher is more qualified to teach than most law faculty.

      Delete
  39. "When a New Jersey lawyer named Damien Figueroa filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in November 2010, he listed among his assets a six-year-old Dodge Ram and “one pending civil case at fixed fee of $500.” Figueroa’s debts included $69,540 in student loans and a non-dischargeable $5,000 fine payable to the New Jersey Attorney General for his alleged participation in a mortgage-fraud scheme.

    A little more than two years later, a lawyer with the same name appeared on the billing sheets submitted by the New York law firm of Kirby McInerney in support of their request for a nearly $100 million fee as payment for negotiating a $590 million settlement of a securities-fraud lawsuit against Citigroup. Instead of charging $500 per case, Figueroa was now being billed at a rate of $550 an hour — for 2,711 hours in all, or $1.5 million worth of legal work on the case."

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2013/01/04/class-action-firms-capitalize-on-wretched-market-for-law-school-grads/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lol the legal "profession."

      Delete
  40. Looking at the ads on a leading website for my practice area, which includes law and non-law jobs. There are tons of unemployed attorneys (40 to be exact) posting their resumes - more than for any of the jobs that do not require law degrees. There are 4 attorney jobs posted nationally on this site for the 40 attorney job seekers.

    The non-legal jobs will not generally hire the attorneys even though the attorneys have very relevant technical skills and could easily do most of the non-legal jobs posted.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Columbia has miserable bar pass rates in California- only 81% of their grads passed the California bar compared with over 90% for many of the top law schools.

    Shows you what taking transfers equal to 20% of the class does- Columbia has much less qualified grads than other top schools.

    Abovethelaw posted the California Bar exam pass rates by school yesterday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I've said before, Columbia is at or near the top of the second tier.

      Delete
  42. If they limited the class to 275 or so, they would have decent stats on everything. That was the size of my class there. Study of law school enrollment said that law schools should have stopped expanding about the time my class graduated.

    ReplyDelete
  43. All these law schools have miserable but as yet hidden from public view long term employment statistics.

    Columbia produces lots of women grads who are real estate brokers, housewives, unemployed and seeking work, temps and solos because the women cannot get legal jobs once they age out of Biglaw. What a dead end. If you come from a top undergrad school and especially if you are female, you are crazy to sign up for Columbia Law School. While you will likely be able to work for several years after law school from Columbia, the long term outcomes are mostly horrible. We should get the word out to top undergrads. Columbia Law has been a miserable dead end for me and for most of my female classmates, once everyone aged out of BigLaw.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please also discuss career prospects for older attorneys generally with a particular emphasis on your position with regard to "up or out" policies.

      Delete
    2. 456 sees only women, and women's problems. Asking her to analyze the problems of older lawyers "generally" may cause her head to pop.

      Delete
    3. 456 sees only women, and women's problems. Asking her to analyze the problems of older lawyers "generally" may cause her head to pop.

      Delete
    4. George Washington also produces Real Estate brokers. I am sure that a lot of them do.

      Delete
    5. More white men than women or minorities are employed in good legal jobs. Law firm partners in established firms are largely white male.

      Law students who think everything is hunky dory (including Harvard, Yale and Stanford) should ask themselves where would you be able to work if you take away all of the BigLaw jobs and take away every job that is short-term like clerkships, U.S. Attorney, government programs for lawyers that last a few years or less and all associate positions.

      You ought to be able to conclude that there is not much out there. That is the experienced legal job market- not much out there in the way of jobs.

      Delete
    6. Just to be clear, there is a big percentage of unemployed lawyers, but older women and older minorities suffer considerably more than white men among those lawyers with superb academics and impressive records. For both groups, it is completely acceptable for law firms to discriminate against them in the way of experience caps on real, paying legal jobs. The net result is that older women and minorities with superb records (yes, Harvard, Yale, Stanford included) suffer greatly.

      What it comes down to is that there are not enough career jobs by a long shot for the 20,000 or 25,000 lawyers who get first year legal jobs.

      I was trying to point that out to a HLS student on this blog. He/she was in disbelief, as I was at that stage.

      The numbers and bad outcomes are well hidden by law schools right now.

      Right sizing means much smaller law school classes than those who get first year jobs.

      The first years push the more experienced lawyers out of work in the current structure. It is despicable to train top lawyers for a few years of work, followed by long-term unemployment or underemployment, but that is the norm in the legal profession for many, many lawyers.

      Delete
    7. It sounds like 456's problem is with *law firms,* not Columbia Law.

      Delete
    8. That a tiny subset of all lawyers--BigLaw partners--is principally white and male does not make being white and male a guarantee of a damn thing. Those white males who didn't make BigLaw partner, to say nothing of all the white males graduating from less-than-YHS schools these days, face equally daunting challenges. To focus solely on women's challenges distorts the realities that 95% of all lawyers are facing.

      Delete
    9. 5:13 Not all of these people are older. Some are as junior as 2-3 years out of law school with one year of work experience in BigLaw.

      It is pretty despicable to have so many unemployed attorneys. The number of unemployed attorneys nationally may be as many as 900,000, and the number increases every year.

      The high number of unemployed is a function of the structure of the legal profession, and not the abilities or personal attributes of the unemployed. The numbers just do not work, and many attorneys suffer.

      Delete
    10. This also assumes that everyone in the applicant pool is equal which they're not. The Harvard grad isn't competing with the Cooley grad that never got a job.

      Delete
    11. "Not all of these people are older. Some are as junior as 2-3 years out of law school "

      Yeah, but that's because they're suckie at being lawyers.

      Delete
    12. 456 sounds like Cryn, who tends to write blog posts about women's issues like this.

      Her latest venture is writing those silly "Top 5 reasons for..." blog posts that are one step above spam for a site that is "a consumer centric email marketer, bringing consumers the most popular offers on the internet." Go check some out. Not only are they superficial and offer no advice whatsoever, they are almost entirely lifted from other "Top xxx lists", word for word. Topics she has copied er I mean covered include:

      "5 signs you have a credit card addiction"
      "8 insurance policies you don't need"
      "7 car insurance myths you should know"
      "Which should you get? PPO or HMO?"
      "Which should you get? Mutual funds, bonds or stocks?"

      Yeah, like I'd ask Cryn for investment advice...

      Glad to see her career has gone from strength to strength.

      Delete
    13. No. White men do better in the legal profession than women and minorities. If the data were available, which it is not except by looking at the rosters of experienced lawyers at law firms and to a lesser degree in house, it would be more obvious. Law firms that pay anything are predominantly white males at the experienced level. There are just not that many in house positions and they tend not to be career positions in any event.

      Delete
  44. Oh I'd just love to see these disingenuous thieves freak out, so I hope the "answer" is no more accreditation of law schools - no more price-fixing cartel! Or, it'd be funny if they found themselves on the wrong side of public largess, for a change. If anyone gets honest about the default rates, a lot of law schools will lose eligibility for public funds, as they should. These bastards want a caste system instead of a meritocracy, courtesy of price-inflation, OK. How about they be relegated to trying to fill a class with kids who can pay cash! Bwhahahahaha!

    ReplyDelete
  45. The practice of law absolutely sucks. I work about 55 hours a week for 40k and no benefits. I graduated in the Top 5% from KU and did one year of law review. Now the asshole partner I work for says I'm not working enough. I check job postings every day to see what I can do after I have some experience. My conclusion is that I can probably do absolutely jack squat. What a flipping joke.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. KU=University of Kansas? That's a decent school.

      Delete
    2. KU = "Wheat Chaff Law".

      Delete
  46. Really, the most satisfying thing about this spectacle is watching law professors, nearly all of whom would scoff at the notion that we should just let major for-profit entities present data in a way that, while perhaps technically inaccurate, requires significant 'unpacking' to be even remotely relevant to the needs of the intended audience, present exactly this defense of the supposedly noble law school establishment. I mean, can you imagine the reaction of these professors to, say, a major pharma company presenting data in a fashion similar to that of your average law school?

    "96% of patients experienced an increased lifespan!" *

    Buried somewhere behind six broken weblinks and a firewall:

    * 96% of patients whose treatment outcome is known. Outcomes are known for 40% of the test population.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Should read "technically accurate in some sense"

      Delete
    2. Excellent point. Expect "Leiter Reports" (scare quotes required) to cover this tomorrow.

      Delete
  47. I just found out one of my professor's, that I really hated, just got show the door because of plummeting enrollment. I hope he enjoys doing document review. Payback is a bitch!! LMAO

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If true, this is awesome news.

      Like I said about a year ago, I can't wait to encounter Leiter on a doc review project.

      Delete
    2. Can you name names??? I'd like to rub it in myself.

      Delete
    3. Unlikely that Univ. of Chicago will be laying off professors...

      Delete
    4. ^ Yeah true but the "philosophers" will be the first to go if/when law schools are forced to become less theoretical and more practical. Still, probably won't happen to Chicago.

      Delete
    5. 7:34 is quite the liar. No prof has yet been fired due to enrollment decreases.

      If it had happened, names would be easily disclosable.

      Ignore the flamers, idjits.

      Delete
    6. 9:00. Thanks law professor. You guys are safe. For now.

      Delete
    7. 9:00 Do you actually believed no professors have been fired because of enrollment decreases? I'm sorry to hear you're suffering from clueless baby boomer syndrome. It's called cost cutting. Do you think no cost cutting is going on by schools seeing their enrollment fall by 50%?

      Delete
    8. So name the professor then! Hardly a step that will "out" the liar making this stupid claim.

      Delete
    9. name the professor.

      Delete
  48. January 8, 2013 7:15 PM writes, "Really, the most satisfying thing about this spectacle is watching law professors" [acting like total effing hypocrites and not even (apparently) noticing their utter hypocracy].

    Great comment. Go up and read it in its entirety.

    ReplyDelete
  49. 8:52: Problem is that the law firms are firing a huge percentage of lawyers each year as part of their structure. Same for some in house positions. Eventually all but a small percentage of lawyers in each class are fired and out of work. That is the business model in the legal profession.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not really, most Biglaw firms don't start trimming down classes until after the 4th or 5th year (except of course for the situations like Latham and Dewey).

      Delete
  50. Here's an easy reform of the federal student loan program. It's simple, could be done with the stroke of a pen and would appeal to George Orwell. Change the name of the IBR/PAYE statute to the Manager Default Act. Considerably dicier proposition for the admissions dean to refer questioning prospective students to the managed default progran than it is to suggest the possibility of income based repayment. William Ockham

    ReplyDelete
  51. "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."

    Actually, if law schools are pumping out 45,000 per year, then over a ten year span the oversupply would be closer to 6-to-1.

    I'm sure the spin meisters would point out that not all of those folks pass the bar or practice law......so why are we taking $150K from them on an annual basis?

    ReplyDelete
  52. And as far as "outflow from the profession", that's more than offset by pent-up demand from the last thirty years of oversaturation.

    I'd say 6-to-1 is closer to reality in terms of the honest-to-goodness market inefficiency here.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Maybe in the great big picture, consumers in the US are fair game and get scammed all the time and from many different sources.

    Here is typical language used in defense of a TYPICAL consumer scam, and damned if the language and sentiments don't remind me of the way the judges ruled when squashing the great 2012 wave of class action lawsuits against the L schools.

    Here it is:

    "Please keep in mind that as a consumer you have some responsibilities as well. Success has many definitions that based on your past experiences, current situation and your perceived expectations.(sic)Success with any product or service is always based on the proper application and understanding. The fastest car will not run if you never turn the engine on. Look at how you used the product or service that was provided in relation with the instructions that you received. The Corporate Advocacy Business Remediation and Customer Satisfaction Program will help you get your voice heard but please be prepared with documentation and fair representation of your concern, also have an idea of how the company can fix your concern. Can they offer additional services, extend warranties, offer a fair refund or just get you talking with someone that can help. ..let them know and let us know!

    *Any consumer not receiving satisfaction from a member of the Corporate Advocacy Program should email us at editor@ripoffreport.com"

    Close quotes. (Sigh)


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "squashing the great 2012 wave of class action lawsuits against the L schools"

      Yeah, right. The "great 2012 wave". The courts were really crushed by the weight of the onslaught from those powerhouse law firms and their awesome cases and compelling plaintiffs. How many jobs did Alaburda apply for again? Like, two? And she ended up being employed as a lawyer for a healthy salary with benefits but didn't want to spend a week in a training course or something so she quit? And the recent NY case, where the judge basically said that the plaintiffs were living in dreamland if they drew so many unrealistic (and self serving) inferences from the employment data.

      More like the "weak 2012 end of piss dribble".

      And 2013 looks like being the year where these lawsuits are like the drop or two that comes out with the final shake of the cock. Perhaps by 2014, this lawsuit cock will be put back in its pants, where it belongs. It's rather small, and nothing to be proud of.

      Great wave. The only great wave is that given to the plaintiffs from the the defense as the plaintiffs leave the courtroom, accompanied with "bye, and thanks for playing!"

      Delete
  54. Always encouraging to see that the shills like @7:20AM are ready to pounce, double entendres and all.

    Also very dismaying to think that this person works in law, after reading the mentally sick comment. Everyone can decide for themselves which totally unnecessary portion of the comment I am talking about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 7:20 A.M. also seems to be fixated with penises. Maybe it comes from metaphorically fellating his bosses and the powers that be in the legal profession on a daily basis.

      Delete

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