Monday, February 11, 2013

Innocent grifters

I've been reading Michael Gard's very interesting (and surprisingly funny) book The End of the Obesity Epidemic, which has special interest for me because he devotes a chapter to critiquing the work of what he calls "obesity skeptics," in particular that of Glenn Gaesser, Eric Oliver, and myself.

While Gard seems to agree with most of what the skeptics have to say, he does take us to task for going too far, in his view, in impugning the motives of those who are profiting from fat panic.  On reflection I believe much of this criticism is well taken: after more than a decade of engagement on this issue I've come to the conclusion that outright corruption among what I think of affectionately as the obesity mafia is much less common than genuine ideologically driven and culturally determined delusion.

A similar danger exists for critics of the current structure of legal academia.  I named this blog Inside the Law School Scam for two reasons:  to signal fundamental solidarity with the scam blog movement, and to indicate that, whatever the personal motives of people inside legal academia might be, law school has come to function as a scam in regard to the economic relations that exist between, on the one hand, legal academics and university administrators, and on the other, law students and law graduates.

A disadvantage of this approach is what might be called the innocent grifter defense: if particular individuals or institutional collectives of such people have, in all sincerity, no intention whatsoever of scamming anyone, and indeed will be sincerely horrified by any suggestion that they are doing so, how can one properly call the activity in which they're engaged a scam?

The answer, of course, is that from the perspective of the people being harned by the economic structure of the activity, it makes little if any practical difference whether those profiting from the harm have any intention of harming those people from whose injuries they are profiting, or indeed any consciousness that they are causing these harms.

(The parallels with the most sincere obesity warriors should be obvious. I'm sure the last thing Michelle Obama wants to do is to stigmatize fat kids. I'm equally confident that this desire is fundamentally irrelevant to the fact that her campaign to "end childhood obesity within a generation" does in fact have this effect).

Arguments about the presence or absence of good or bad intentions are ultimately distractions.  We could assume that every single person in legal academia who rejects the idea that law school has become indistinguishable as a functional matter from a  conscious scam does so with utmost sincerity and the purest of hearts. Yet this would make no difference to the analysis, in the fundamental sense that such an assumption doesn't create a single new job or pay down a dollar of any graduate's debt.

What this blog has been in large part about has been raising consciousness inside and around legal academia that what we intend our work to accomplish bears increasingly less relation to what our work does accomplish.  And, in the language of tort law, once that consciousness has been raised sufficiently, our harmful actions become fully "intentional" in the sense that we know what will result from them, no matter how sincerely we may not intend that result.



134 comments:

  1. whining begins now...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Was hoping to snag firsty this morning but it appears I was too late.

      Delete
    2. Fuck you, Diamond.

      Delete
    3. Lawprof supports fat asses and scammed law school grads - two categories of pathetic losers, dominated by the world's winners.

      Delete
    4. It's difficult to view the beneficiaries of a tax payer-funded scheme as "winners." It's especially difficult considering that about two years from now many of those "winners" will be struggling to find doc review work.

      Delete
    5. Dean O'Brien is a winner because he made more today than you'll make all year, loser bum. And he ain't gonna be doing no doc review. Dumbass.

      Delete
    6. I'm sore dean o'brien appreciates your support .

      Delete
    7. You stupid law professor. Yes, Dean O'Brien makes, per year, six times what I make. But he "makes" this money not by working or contributing anything, but by scamming young students and the general, taxpaying public. WINNER!

      Like most law professors, Dean O'Brien (J.D. New England Law) will be unemployable when his trash pile closes. Sure O'Brien probably has a stash somewhere, but I can't wait to see the fates of all the "winner" law profs that don't.

      Delete
    8. 6:28 is either a law professor or Mr. Infinity. Either way he's going to be an unemployed loser in the next year or two.

      Delete
    9. At least 6:28 is correct that O'Brien "ain't gonna be doing no doc review." These days you need better credentials than O'Brien's for doc review.

      Delete
  2. Law professors as concentration-camp guards?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. More like commission mortgage brokers offering No-Income No-Job loans to poor people. Legal? yes. Moral? not once you know the harm you are causing.

      Except for this very relevant fact: you can bankrupt out of a mortgage.

      Delete
    2. Terry:

      I would very much disagree with you!

      People aren't flocking to mortgages in a desperate attempt to better their lives and secure themselves a future.

      People aren't taking tests & studying to be able to qualify for mortgages.

      Mortgage brokers aren't holding out brochures to customers that say "98% of our customers that buy $500k houses have better lives because of it".

      People have much more invested in an education than they do in a house.

      A house you can sell, or, simply walk away from. An education is crippling disability.

      One day, educators are going to have answer for their actions....

      Delete
    3. Yes, of course, all of those "victims" forced to go to law school...

      Delete
    4. ^ Jack Marshall, you blithering idiot. How many times do we have to remind you that fraud does not require force?

      Delete
  3. "Arguments about the presence or absence of good or bad intentions are ultimately distractions."

    Exactly. Sometimes the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In fact, those who believe in the goodness of "legal education" - and see themselves as performing a "public service" - are just as dangerous. For a good comparison, see religious sect/cult leaders who fervently believe in their me$$age. Nothing will sway them from their position.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "And, in the language of tort law, once that consciousness has been raised sufficiently, our harmful actions become fully "intentional" in the sense that we know what will result from them, no matter how sincerely we may not intend that result."

    An admission that as a law professor, you are part of the scam?

    ReplyDelete
  5. “And so many of the people in this arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this — this [she chuckles slightly] is working very well for them!”

    ReplyDelete
  6. When I was applying to law schools in 1982 many people cautioned me that the market was glutted. Indeed, I only applied to schools that are now on the USNWR top 20 list, figuring the employment odds coming out of lesser schools were just too bad to justify the risk. After all, I graduated from law school with a whopping $10,500.00 in student loans that I had to pay off! Thirty years later you cannot tell me that anyone teaching or administering at ANY law school doesn't know what the score is.

    And here's more. Last summer 16 graduates of UMass-Dartmouth Law School took the Connecticut bar exam and 14 of them failed it. Of the 16, 8 were taking it FOR THE THIRD TIME and only one of those 8 passed. The overall pass rate for first-time takers was 83% and for third time takers it was 33%.

    UMass has to know this. How can they say with a straight face that they are not luring naive college students of limited abilities into a trap with visions of a glamorous career, knowing that 7 out of 8 might never pass a bar exam? What is their justification? That they are just ruining people's lives in the short term until they build up their reputation and attract better students?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Their justification is "improvement of access to justice" and "antitrust" arguments. In short, for the money they are extracting from lemmings watching Boston Legal or The Practice, they will come up with arguments no matter what. But they do not really need to as Hollywood does the required promotional/justification work for them.

      Delete
    2. The answer, of course, is to award bar admission in the same proportion that exam takers from U Mass Dartmouth bear to alll test takers. With double allowance for schools that traditionally emphasize URMs. Solved.

      PS: very surprised so many failed. Dartmouth is Ivy League.

      Delete
    3. Dartmouth the Ivy doesn't have a law school; this is UMass' law school. Considering UMass has only one law school and thus does not have to distinguish itself from any other UMass law school by including the location in the name, you may safely assume that this was a minor, albeit still shady, attempt to burnish their image.

      Delete
  7. To 7:27:

    Perhaps you forget the world of 5 years ago, but people were flocking to mortgages to give themselves better lives.

    And a lot of people can't sell the house, and can't always just walk away from it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To Mr 8:03:

      Sure, you can ALWAYS walk away from a house...It might not be a good thing or a practical thing to do, but you can always bankrupt out of a mortgage.

      Mortgage lenders can't tack on a 20% fee because you default.

      If you walk away from a house, you simply lose your downpayment & investment.

      How many graduates would LOVE to go bankrupt? How many would gladly turn in their law license & diploma AND CREDIT rating for the ability to go bankrupt and start over in life?

      More than you might think...

      Delete
    2. Not 8:03 but fyi mortgage servicers tack on a lot of fees in a foreclosure (legal fees, collection fees, court costs, title searches, etc.)

      Delete
    3. These days there's also often a deficiency when there's a foreclosure so yeah the bank can come after you for that as well.
      8:15

      Delete
    4. @ 8:15 and 8:17: Thanks for your 1L analysis, showing clearly that no practical lawyering is taught in law school. In the real world, lawyers advise foreclosure first, then bankruptcy to remove any deficiency judgment that arises after foreclosure. Simple.

      Delete
    5. Depends on how much money the client makes and how much the mortgage is for.

      Delete
  8. The law school scam is really similar to the Lloyds syndicate scam of the early 1990s in that law schools peddle a product cloaked in selectivity and eliteness to people for whom the product is totally unsuitable. In so doing, law school is fast losing its mystique, especially when lawyer/barristas are becoming if not commonplace, at least a reality. In losing the mystique of a legal education, I would imagine that law schools also are losing alumni support.

    By way of example, the private law school I went to in the early 1980's at that time, had a selectivity ratio of about 1 to 6, tuition was about $7000, the law school was ranked in the top 20s and roughly the top-third had a GPA of 3.0 or better. Now, the law school admits 50% of its applicants, the sticker price for tuition is about $50,000, the law school is in the second tier and 70% of the students have a GPA of 3.0 or better. As an alumnus, it's difficult to feel a connection to the institution that's so radically different from the law school I knew three decades ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lawyer/barista = LOL!

      Thanks I needed a smile today.

      Delete
    2. funnily enough, I read that as lawyer/barrister

      Delete
  9. Aren't obesity critics profiting as well, from sales of books and stuff? And someone who ends up with health problems because they heard it was okay to be fat would seem to have a beef with them.

    ReplyDelete
  10. 22 years ago, after first semester 1L grades came out, one of my profs gave our section a five minute speech, the gist of which was: don’t worry, you will all find jobs, but some of you will just have to “hustle” more than others. It wasn’t true. One of my friends (who got poor grades) never found a legal job, and I am sure there were others. But at the time, I think that prof believed what he told us. Sometimes I wonder if he still gives that speech. If he does, there is no way he could actually believe it anymore.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 3l at wcl. My civ pro prof told us all that too 1l year. He specifically said u don't need to drop out if you get a C or don't get good grades and that we will all become lawyers. He is a fucking liar.

      Delete
  11. Is there sincerity in willful blindness?

    ReplyDelete
  12. 8:37 here. I forgot to mention, that prof is still there, teaching the same first year class. They never jump off the gravy train.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I disagree that intentions are irrelevant. They won't create another job, true, but if everyone in the legal education industrial complex had good intentions, we might be able to tamp the oversupply problem TODAY. The very nature of public service is good intentions, after all.

    And instead of "good intent"/"bad intent", legal faculty fall into three camps, IMO:

    1. The conscious and good-intentioned (guys like Tamanaha and Campos)
    2. The conscious and bad-intentioned (guys like Leduc and Mitchell)
    3. The unconscious

    More and more, I think it's downright implausible that anyone still lives in category 3. It's clear that some battle lines are being drawn and those emerging from the cave of ignorance have to choose between 1 and 2.

    Take, for example, Steve Sheppard:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/stephen-sheppard-paul-campos-brian-tamanaha-law-school-bubble-2013-2

    ""Much of the alarm about the quality and value of accredited legal education is distorted and exaggerated....Where is the scam?"

    "The decline in law school applications is as easily explained (and perhaps more accurately explained) by the drumbeat of criticism than by the economics of education or legal employment. This criticism has been initiated by unhappy law students, drop-outs, and graduates, along with critics in the law faculties who have their own axes to grind."

    Once someone opens their mouth on this topic, how can you not place them either in the category of good intent or bad intent? And once they're in the category of bad intent, how are they not a problem going forward?

    These charlatans with their bad intentions are why we are in the mess we're in. If we are TRULY interested in reform, we have to scrub the legal education process free of scumbuckets like Katz, Leduc, Mitchell, Sheppard, Yellen, Diamond, Hobbs, all of them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the way Sheppard wants to ignore the fact that the cost is the problem.

      Delete
    2. You are dead wrong about Yellen.

      Delete
    3. Kyle- I've never seem someone talk more, acknowledge the primary problems (for like 4 years now), and do less with their position of power than Yellen. He comes off like a blowhard politician whose goal is to suck up to the other side in hopes of reaching a milquetoast compromise that ultimately preserves the status quo.

      And of course, there's the scam-like behavior committed by Yellen and Loyola (and, before that, Hofstra), like this fine bit of myth propagation:

      "The thing that these statistics and these law suits don’t look at is how people are doing not one year after graduation, but five and ten years after graduation, and the studies that have been done show that lawyers tend to be doing quite well after a longer period of time."

      http://jdunderground.com/all/thread.php?threadId=25223

      And of course, Loyola's claims throughout his pre-2012 deanship of 90+% employment rates and his recent gem of an article on ATL where he defended the value of so-called "legal scholarship" and basically admitted that the ABA standards exist to enrich the enriched.

      If he actually *does* something meaningful, I'll gladly welcome him to the allies tent and buy him a beer. But don't confuse vocal concern, sympathy, or outspokenness on an issue with an intent to seriously change the game. That's the voter's classic mistake.

      Delete
    4. Does drafting the new Standard 509 count as something meaningful?

      Costs, enrollment, and jobs are a problem at Loyola Chicago. I know it, you know it, he knows it. I tell him, and others tell him. But it's worth recognizing the limited scope of power deans have to change things. This is not meant to justify the status quo, nor is it meant to excuse people from acting in their own capacity. Rather, it's meant to point out that the problem is systematic and that focusing too much on individuals not being panaceas of reform only serves to alienate people who can be tools of change.

      We can focus on blame and talk for hours. It just won't be productive. Rather, it makes sense to talk about what a law school dean and what a law school professor can do with the power they bring to the table. If you're interested in helping on this sort of project, please let me know at lawschooltransparency@gmail.com

      What's ultimately going to bring down the house of cards is movement from indifference to talking to acting. It does not need to be done in one fell swoop. We need to grow the number of internal critics and show them what they can do from their position. I hope you will help.

      Delete
    5. "it's worth recognizing the limited scope of power deans have to change things."

      but:

      "We need to grow the number of internal critics and show them what they can do from their position"

      So...could you articulate what, exactly, a law dean can do in your mind? Because for one purpose, you say they can't do much, and then you turn around and say they're powerful enough that we need to coddle them and refrain from calling them liars when they lie.

      Here's something simple all law deans could do immediately: tell the truth publicly, and call out those who are still lying. But almost all of them would rather knock down the "extremists" than call out the lies still being told by Leduc, Katz, Mitchell, et al.

      A second thing deans could do immediately is call for an end to tenure and demand lower faculty salaries. This could be done fairly quickly, as Vermont just showed us. Yet there's Yellen boasting about the importance of academic scholarship, so we shouldn't be expecting him to advocate for tenure to disappear, no?

      I simply have no faith that the same group of people who spent the last [x] years fleecing prospective law students can and will turn around to be "agents of change." What I fear will happen is that the same group of people will circle the wagons, make minor changes to placate the moderate critics (this is propaganda 101), and then ten years from now these exact same issues will still be festering.

      Delete
    6. Sure, I can articulate it, but I'm not going to do it here and now. When LST is ready to comment specifically, we'll do it in our normal fashion.

      Either way, I do not see the inconsistency you've identified. I said they're not as powerful as people think, not that they don't have power. Nor did I say you shouldn't call them liars when they lie. Moreover, there's room for guiding and educating without coddling and exonerating.

      Finally, in the defense of legal scholarship, there is value in it and it only discredits people when they wholesale reject its value. This is not to say there isn't a ton of garbage out there -- I am still amazed at some of the garbage I reviewed for my journal during the submission process. But wholesale dismissal and other simple thinking is just not productive.

      Finally, there is huge value in people circling the wagons. The value is not in what they say or do, but in talking about the inability to do something. That's the easiest way to get help from the outside. I think we're seeing this already.

      Delete
  14. it's more than just the debt. It's a "scam" because there is a huge skills gap. How many of us have said, "these graduates don't know anything... I gotta do everything for them"? Nobody cares about the "academia". Just be able to do your job. 1000% easier to just hire a 3rd year lateral from another firm.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Perhaps there is some hope that a popular and influential blog with the word 'scam" in the title will cause some of these clueless people to open their eyes.

    I am a big believer that intention doesn't matter. I'm sure no one at NYU intended B1ly to be unemployed with massive debt, yet there he is. The rank of the school is irrelevant. There are people from Columbia who don't have jobs. Does it matter if the law school intended them to be unemployed?

    For decades law schools lied about stats while doing almost nothing to help their students find jobs.

    I don't think anyone can claim to be innocent.

    I have seen people commenting that they don't feel sorry for students who are applying now, because they should know better. Shouldn't the same rule apply to law professors and administrators?

    Funny how none of the responses to the scam have been, wow, we are charging way too much and it is hurting our students. Everyone just wants to keep their salary and ignore the harm they are causing.

    Law schools are nothing more than marketing machines aimed at getting student loans in the door.

    ReplyDelete
  16. One of the things you learn from practicing law is the ability of people to rationalise their roles and activities as inherently good - even when they are driven by self interest. I can believe that a large proportion of law school deans think that what they are doing is not bad, not destructive, not wrong - but they are predisposed to see it that way because this is in their interests.

    cf Law professors defence of scholarship.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You learn that studying history, too. Slave owners and the ministers of their churches left an ample written record of how they believed that slawery was actually in the slaves' best interests.

      Delete
  17. So is lawprof an innocent grifter or a full participant in the scam?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. By his logic, full participant. And conscious of it too. But happy to rationalize his right to a law professor salary with the special "scamblog" exception to the rule.

      Delete
    2. It's so funny, like you think that we're actually fooled by you or something.

      Delete
    3. 9:41/9:51, I've told you this before, but your responding to your own comments makes your trolling pathetically obvious.

      Delete
  18. Lawprof is neither by my logic. The scam is about knowledge and the student's lackthereof. Law schools exploit this knowledge deficit, while Campos works to erase it. Every law professor could do the same. If you are doing everything you can to make sure your students know the facts about their employment prospects, then you're not a participant in the scam. Try it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a great point. I think it is important too to recognize how much validity professors who are fighting the scam add to the movement. It makes it much harder to objectify people who don't have jobs simply as losers.

      Delete
  19. Over the weekend, I read what I thought was an inspirational story in the Los Angeles Times Sports Section, until I got to the very end of article (5th paragraph from the end, to be exact):

    http://articles.latimes.com/2013/feb/09/sports/la-sp-0210-laron-armstead-20130210

    The guy wants to go to law school, become a sports agent, and help impressionable young people. Ugh!!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Another bit of coverage in the NYT re: the scam.

    It's all about the lack of jobs ... not making every law grad "practice ready."

    A Call for Drastic Changes in Educating New Lawyers

    DALLAS — Faced with profound and seemingly irreversible shifts, the legal profession is contemplating radical changes to its educational system, including cutting the curriculum, requiring far more on-the-ground training and licensing technicians who are not full lawyers.

    Rex C. Curry for The New York Times
    Randall T. Shepard, a former Indiana Supreme Court chief justice, leads a task force on overhauling legal education.
    The proposals are a result of numerous factors, including a sharp drop in law school applications, the outsourcing of research over the Internet, a glut of underemployed and indebted law school graduates and a high percentage of the legal needs of Americans going unmet.

    “There is almost universal agreement that the current system is broken,” said Thomas W. Lyons III, a Rhode Island lawyer and a member of the American Bar Association’s Task Force on the Future of Legal Education, which gathered here over the weekend for a public hearing at the association’s midyear meeting.

    [...]

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/11/us/lawyers-call-for-drastic-change-in-educating-new-lawyers.html

    ReplyDelete
  21. I went to law school with Mike Gillis
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Gillis.

    He was an agent for at least 15 years until he decided that being president and general manager at Vancouver Canucks is a batter deal.

    Kids, if you have not plaid in NHL, do not go to a law school to become a hockey player agent. You will never make it. Never. No matter what Hollywood movies may imply or suggest.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Good God in heaven! Some disgusting animal just left a huuuge rotten "Seton Hall Law" clogging up the office toilet! The janitors are threatening to resign. How can any human being have this type of unhealthy digestive system and not seek medical help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just pour some Valvoline does the toilet.

      Valvoline: America's preferred toilet enhancer.

      Delete
  23. One either knows or does not know. But then there is the matter of whether one should know...and anyone in the employ of a law school should know about the product that is being sold. The Sgt. Schultz defense does not work anymore!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Paul,

    I'm a big fan of this blog, as you know, but I think this post falls short. Every law student learns that mens rea is the foundation of culpability. As Holmes put it, "even a dog knows the difference between being stumbled over and being kicked." Given that, it's misleading to shrug and say "of course" it doesn't matter if you have been wrongfully claiming that acts were intentional when they weren't. It doesn't matter for some purposes, of course. But it does matter for purposes of determining the responsibility of the individuals you are criticizing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think this is what the French call deformation professionelle.

      Delete
    2. As I read the post, LP is saying that the point of this blog is to shout, "watch out for that dog" and so prevent those responsible from claiming to have merely stumbled over it.

      Delete
    3. Orin,

      I agree that questions of the mental states of legal academics in re the current circumstances of the legal profession and our role in creating those circumstances are important in some ways and not in others.

      This is worth addressing in a separate post, which I'll probably do.

      Delete
    4. Now I'm getting angry. Can we just accept that law professors have a moral and ethical obligation to their students? As do the law school deans?

      What difference does their mental state make if they are ignoring employment and debt information? Don't they have an obligation to tell their students the truth?

      Why aren't law schools, law deans and law professors subject to ethical standards that carry sanctions? And why aren't existing standards enforced?

      Delete
    5. Alright, well here we go. Mr. Kerr, you're officially on notice. Ever read the model penal code? See where you fit now.

      And Lawprof is a whistleblower. They get treated differently, as they should.

      Delete
    6. I'm waiting for a law professor to post explaining to me that as professors and licensed attorneys they have no obligations for the welfare of their students.

      Delete
    7. Seems y'all either missed (most of you) or intentionally ignored (LP) Kerr's accusation in "... it is misleading to shrug and say "of course" it doesn't matter if you have been wrongfully claiming that acts were intentional when they weren't".


      He's accusing Campos of trying to "walk back" any of his earlier attributions of intent.

      Delete
    8. My point is that intent is not relevant. I thought that was clear. So let me rephrase: intent isn't relevant because professors have moral and ethical obligations to their students. Their job is to know what is going on with the information the administration is giving to students.

      We had a prof post here a few weeks ago about how much time professors spend in administrative matters. Don't claim that professors are not involved.

      Also, that sentence you quoted was typically obtuse professor speak. I would love to see him repost in ordinary language what he meant.

      Delete
    9. Was it a Freudian slip to compare students to dogs being kicked? Why did that example spring to mind?

      Delete
    10. "...that sentence you quoted was typically obtuse professor speak. I would love to see him repost in ordinary language what he meant."


      It wasn't obtuse to an ordinarily intelligent observer.

      That's why I called it out.

      Delete
    11. So you have given up on trying to defend law professors claiming ignorance as a defense for their role in the scam and have gone right to assuming you are more intelligent than I am?

      That is very funny. Don't worry, you didn't hurt my feelings. LOL.

      Delete
    12. I'm sorry you struggle so with reading comprehension.

      Go back to my original comment (and/or my other comment above), and show us, precisely, where I was ever defending law profs? (Answer: you cannot show us what does not exist.)


      What I did do was point out that Kerr leveled a certain accusation at Campos, which he ignored. A very "Leiter-like" accusation, in fact.

      Delete
    13. Dude: I comprehend. I don't agree. Not sure how much clearer I can make it. Intention isn't relevant or important so the discussion isn't relevant or important. You are fighting about the meaning of words I don't care about.

      Like it or not law professors and law deans have grossly failed their students. Whether they can claim it wasn't intentional or whatever Lawprof is trying to say with his idea that sometimes intent matters and some times it doesn't, just doesn't interest me at all.

      No excuse for faculty who run budgets, hiring , salaries , curriculum to claim they aren't involved in administration so they didnt know, and never intended to harm anyone. People have been harmed . The professors have shirked their moral and ethical duty owed to their students. The excuses as to why it might not be their fault are irrelevant.

      We are talking about two different things.

      And, I always learned that it is the proponent of a point to make it understood . But I have done my best to explain my point- which is that your points are irrelevant- not sure i can make it any clearer for you.

      But I won't put you down for not understanding. It is only the weak or inexperienced blog commentators who feel the need to be rude to those who disagree. I've been online for most of my life. I understand that the olds don't really understand how to comment. So, no worries.

      Delete
    14. "It is only the weak or inexperienced blog commentators who feel the need to be rude to those who disagree. "

      Pot/Kettle/Black. Or am I being "obtuse"? (Your word)

      Delete
  25. I'd like it if someone could compose a song titled "Innocent Grifters" to the tune of Stephen Foster's Beautiful Dreamer. Thank you in advance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gullible senior, enroll with me,
      Status and riches are waiting for thee;
      Sounds of the real world, heard in the day,
      Lull'd by the job stats have all pass'd away!
      Gullible senior, mark of my con,
      List while I woo thee with sales puffery;
      Gone is the future you counted on,
      Gullible senior, enroll with me!
      Gullible senior, enroll with me!

      Will work on verse 2 later.

      Delete
    2. It was fun. Wish I'd appled for a job at MAD magazine doing song paodies.

      Delete
    3. School days, school days,
      One-L's in a fool daze.
      Contracts, procedure, torts, criminal law—
      But never mention the critical flaw:
      Legal job market's all but dead,
      Yet six-figure debt looms o'er your head.
      Pray, how will you climb out of the red
      If you fall for the law-school scam?

      (Old Guy hopes that this song is still known to the younger generation.)

      Delete
    4. If only more Law Revues made fun of the fact that there are no jobs. Instead we get silly jokes about old cases and professors. Maybe that's too dark for a school sponsored performance.

      Delete
    5. 9:47 - I bet most audiences would respond with silence.

      Delete
  26. LawProf Paul Campos has the status of protected whistle blower in terms of the law school scam. He shall get a pass when it comes time to hang all of the law professors (Leiter, etc) who are participating in the scam.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Great to see (not) another useful specialty introduced. Probably lots of exciting career paths with a space-law degree.
    http://djournal.com/view/full_story/21684133/article-Ole-Miss-launching-air--space-law-degree?instance=home_news_bullets

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If it wasn't so sad it would be funny.

      Delete
    2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvage_1

      There was a short lived late 1970s sci-fi series called "Salvage 1" about a scrap dealer who builds a Saturn V style spacecraft out of spare parts from his junkyard. He launches the spacecraft to the moon and recovers some of the Apollo 11 equipment left behind at Tranqulity Base.

      That scenario is more likely to come true than the likelihood that any one this law school graduates become aerospace law attorneys.

      Delete
    3. The specialty 'concentrations' are prima facie scam material. The innocent marks think that if there were no merit in the program, the school wouldn't offer it. They also believe that something useful and related to practicing "space law" will be taught, and that such knowledge will give them a leg up in the space law employment market.

      None of this is true. But it appears true enough to the naive to get them to hand over their dough.

      Delete
    4. The only thing more useless than a masters degree in law, is a masters degree in space law.

      Ladies and gentlemen, here is how to determine whether you should get an LLM. Answer these two questions: Is the LLM from NYU and in taxation? Do I want to work as a tax attorney?

      If and only if you answered "yes" to both questions should you ever even consider obtaining an LLM.

      Delete
    5. NYU Tax LLM is OK, but don't rule out one of the many great LLM offerings from TJSL. I'd like to be one of the ethnically diverse group of Little Lebowski urban achievers showcased in their ads. I'd have it knocked.

      Delete
    6. Remember, the Titanic is still #1 in sinking.

      Delete
  28. Lawprof will probably get to this but yesterday the Times had a piece about reforming law school education:

    http://alturl.com/s39yh

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For whatever reason the short url for the Times piece isnt working. Direct link:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/11/us/lawyers-call-for-drastic-change-in-educating-new-lawyers.html?hpw&_r=0

      Delete
    2. A two-year law program is not in the best interests of the profession. It merely keeps law professors' salaries at a high level because more applicants will apply to law school since the OVERALL debt will be reduced by a one-third (assuming annualized tuition levels were to stay constant with today's prices). How does a 2-year program (or even a b.s. level law degree) benefit the profession. I read this article and was disgusted by these egg heads that think of nothing but their own pockets. When will the madness end?

      Delete
    3. There's an article in Friday's Los Angeles Daily Journal about Pepperdine's two year J.D. program. Tuition is the same as for the conventional three year course.

      Delete
    4. Now why doesn't that surprise me?

      I can see the scammers going for the 2 year degree because they can siphon even more people through the student loan mill.

      Delete
  29. i dont want an air and space law degree, i need one.

    ReplyDelete
  30. No one who charges hundreds of thousands of dollars for their product can come back and claim they didnt know it was scamming the purchasers. There is a threshold where just basic financial obligations means you have to pay attention.

    ReplyDelete
  31. "We supply education, not jobs. We give you the building blocks of the future, not something so banal as a paycheck. Nothing more is promised, but much more is taught."

    And when the dust settles, you're out 3 years and $200k.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not quite...

      When dust settles, you are out of 3 years of your life plus $200K and additionally you are paying down these $200K and the interest on it for the rest of your life.

      Delete
    2. whose quote is that, 3:41? did i miss it in this thread? that is pure decadence, in both senses of the word. haven't seen a single quote so perfectly sum up the archetypal law professor/dean/admin/criminal.

      Delete
    3. Lol. So let whoever said that give up their "banal paycheck." The ability people have to delude themselves is astonishing.

      Delete
    4. 16 Tons

      Some people say a man is made outta mud
      A poor man's made outta muscle and blood
      Muscle and blood and skin and bones
      A mind that's a-weak and a back that's strong

      You load sixteen tons, what do you get
      Another day older and deeper in debt
      Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
      I owe my soul to the company store

      I was born one mornin' when the sun didn't shine
      I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
      I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
      And the straw boss said "Well, a-bless my soul"

      You load sixteen tons, what do you get
      Another day older and deeper in debt
      Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
      I owe my soul to the company store

      I was born one mornin', it was drizzlin' rain
      Fightin' and trouble are my middle name
      I was raised in the canebrake by an ol' mama lion
      Cain't no-a high-toned woman make me walk the line

      You load sixteen tons, what do you get
      Another day older and deeper in debt
      Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
      I owe my soul to the company store

      If you see me comin', better step aside
      A lotta men didn't, a lotta men died
      One fist of iron, the other of steel
      If the right one don't a-get you
      Then the left one will

      You load sixteen tons, what do you get
      Another day older and deeper in debt
      Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
      I owe my soul to the company store

      Delete
    5. At least the coal miners unionized and fought back.

      Delete
  32. Orin Kerr's a big fan of this blog?

    Glad to know I'm not the only conservative here!

    ChicagoDePaul

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are not alone, my conservative friend. And I am in the People's Republic of Boulder!

      Delete
    2. Old Thyme ConservativeFebruary 11, 2013 at 7:26 PM

      As BoulderBoy mentions, you're not alone.

      But there ain't many of us, I think.

      Delete
    3. Fiscal responsibility ought to be a conservative virtue even if it wasn't under Bush, and ITLSS is all about that. If this site slants to the left, then it's because academia/law students do so.

      Delete
    4. Old Thyme ConservativeFebruary 12, 2013 at 6:50 PM

      I was one of about 4 conservative-leaning law students in my class.

      My contracts prof used to summarize the faculty as "liberal save one conservative and one libertarian - me".

      Delete
  33. I think there's probably a distinction between the administrators and professors.

    The administrators and staff have known the numbers for a long, long time. Why else do you think the numbers are reported as they are?

    Percentage employed, not employed as lawyers...

    BUT....

    average salaries come from a separate group, only from those actually working as lawyers that report their salaries...

    median LSATs as opposed to mean LSATs, 75% and 25%, so that you can effectively hide the numbers of a quarter of the class...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The students are the professor's business. How can they possibly claim it isn't their job to know what is happening with graduates of their own schools?

      Delete
    2. What horrible scammers! Only law employers for salary data, but all employers for employment data? This is empirical evidence that law schools do not believe their own bullshit about the versatility of a law degree. Let them close!

      Delete
  34. @ 3:56 - The professors must know, as well. If not, they are as Lawprof calls them, innocent grifters. Why haven't they spoken out against obscene increases in tuition over the past decade? They all took a piece of the pie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess the German people were innocent too. They had no idea where those trains were going. After all, they weren't the people in charge.

      It has come down to childish finger-pointing within the law school education scam.

      Delete
    2. ok that was hyperbole for effect. But c'mon professors - stop sticking your head in the sand and proclaiming you didn't know anything.

      Delete
  35. I agree that, morally and practically, it doesn't really matter whether or which legal academics realize that they are participating in a horrible scam.

    In fact, I am quite sure that most do not, even though they may be troubled by certain discordant facts and dismayed by what they perceive as angry rhetoric. In criminal law terms, even the scammiest dean would probably be acquitted of any charge requiring proof of an intentional mental state, though I am not so sure about knowing or reckless.

    Here are a couple of instructive quotes on self-deception from a really interesting published dialogue between biologist Robert Trivers and linguist/activist Noam Chomsky.

    Chomsky states: "I think we all know from personal life, if there’s something you want to do, it’s really easy to convince yourself it’s right and just. You put away evidence that shows that’s not true. So it’s self-deception but it’s automatic, and it requires significant effort and energy to try to see yourself from a distance. It’s hard to do....What he [writer James Peck] says is that there are elaborate techniques of self-deception to try to build a framework in which we can justify things like, say, invading or overthrowing the government of Guatemala...And it’s done by making everything simple. You have to make it clearer than the truth....And as this picture gets created internally and built up...it becomes like a real fundamentalist religion, showing extraordinary self-deceit."

    Trivers states: "Information is often somewhere in the organism; it’s just well-hidden. It’s well down in the unconscious. And it’s often inaccessible because you build up firewalls against it."

    http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/noam_chomsky_robert_trivers/

    Except for an honorable few, law professors will continue to deceive themselves about their noble intentions, and the value of their product. It is irritating, but it does not matter because they are not the intended scamblog audience. The scamblog audience is bright but naive kids on the cusp of deciding whether to spend a couple of hundred thousand dollars of borrowed money and three years of their lives for a law degree. And, judging by the applicant numbers, this audience is paying close attention.

    dybbuk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My main man, Professor Norman Chomsky . . .

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djV1_KlLckA

      Delete
  36. Law Prof. Maybe a little off topic, but there has been an increased frequency of articles lately advocating for a 2 year law degree or even at the B.S. level. Despite all the individuals out there spouting off about how their 3L year was a complete waste, I felt that the 3rd year was quite beneficial. Without a doubt, most students are tired of going through the grind of law school by the third year. But that doesn't mean that the learning stops. My question to all these individuals advocating for a 2 year program is if that plan of action would produce a more qualified pool of future attorneys. I am convinced that the answer is a resounding NO. Then again, I'm an attorney, biased as I may be, and looking to maintain whatever meager existence that I have within the profession (which isn't much mind you) as the expense of inundating the profession even more with classes graduating every two years or at the conclusion of one's UG studies. I really don't care about what the rest of the planet does in this respect. My belief is those advocating for a 2 year course of study are academics that want to keep the tuitions the same or higher on a annual basis, but reduce the overall debt to the student. This way the academic elite get to keep their high salaries, and increase the law applicant population because the barrier to entry is further reduced and the total cost is 2/3rds of a 3-year program. Again, how does this idiotic proposition benefit the profession?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Back in the day people used to go to college for three years and then transfer to law school for three years. This was allowed at some law schools into the 1970s, although by then it was very rare. But in any event my father came home after WWII with one year of college to do to finish a bachelor's degree (he had finished one year and his naval officer training had provided a lot of credits).

      Because the GI Bill was paying for everything he decided to go to law school, mostly because the war had broken up his education into little bits. He never did take a bar exam, he went into business, but what is interesting is this. People who did the 3-and-3 route got an LL.B., while people like him who had finished an undergraduate degree went to law school for two years and got a B.S.L. (Bachelor of Science in Law, I believe) and were just as eligible to take a bar exam as any LL.B.

      At some point the undergrad degree became mandatory, and the six year program became seven. I know a C.P.A. who has an associate's degree and is grandfathered, because you now need a four year degree.

      The obsession with formal education and its relative value are things that need to be examined.

      Delete
    2. 2 Years would be a huge improvement. I went to law school. Practiced for a few years, switch to business. Then I went back to b-school. The two year MBA program is light years ahead of the JD experience (team oriented, no ranking bs, etc). Difference might have been schools. My JD is from top 100 school. MBA is from top 5 school. The networking of Top 5 b-school is phenomenal and there's no bar (so you're removing the bs of "big law or go home"). 2 years allowed us to do our thing, and then get on with our lives. The whole argument that graduates are coming out of school every 2 years is bs -- you'll always have more business experience than the green MBA.

      Delete
  37. Young and OLD Naive...February 11, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    Our resident Jewish spook writes above at 5:41, "...they [law faculty] are not the intended scamblog audience. The scamblog audience is bright but naive kids on the cusp of deciding whether to spend a couple of hundred thousand dollars of borrowed money and three years of their lives for a law degree. "


    It's not just the naive young kids. Check out www.nontradlaw.net, where the oldsters are congratulating another oldster over having gotten accepted to the 2013 starting class at Pace U law school.

    Pace. Fer cryin' out loud. 35% employment score.

    UGH.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 733: sad. The guy is positively elated. And others are congratulating him.

      Delete
    2. Wtf "Jewish" ? What is your problem? You are so hateful.

      Delete
    3. Commend your sensitivity, 919, but my nom de scamblog is, indeed, a spook from Jewish folklore.

      dybbuk

      Delete
    4. lol @ 9:19. what a moron.

      Delete
    5. Young and OLD Naive...February 12, 2013 at 6:30 PM

      9:19 is proof that some of the naive fools are here as well.

      Delete
  38. "innocent grifter defense"

    How can we reconcile any (laughable) claims to "innocent grifting" with the relentless hunting up of ever more "marks" - to wit, the taxpayer at large being put on the hook for "income-based repayment" of loans which can never be repaid?

    All to further enrich the nomenklatura of the law school scam.

    Deep in their innermost hearts, their secret souls, they really are...the shits that they appear to be.

    ReplyDelete
  39. So let's take this to its logical conclusion. In two years, every professor is now aware of the "scam". They all know it, they talk about it in classes, how there's not enough jobs, how law school is too expensive, etc.

    And this will logically mean that every student going into law school at that point will also know that law school is a "scam".

    So this, by default, makes it no longer a scam. Everyone knows the score, everyone is there willingly, and everyone knows the risks.

    So no fundamental changes, the scam continues as is.

    Is this what we really want?

    And to be honest, how many of think that this ísn't the case already? How many of us think that all these innocent little law school student lambs knew nothing about the perils of law school, and how many of these law professors never read anything negative about the profession?

    Which is why the "scam" will continue - because all the players, whether they admit it or not right now, know the deal and have consciously assumed the risks. They know what they are getting themselves into.

    Now, back from 2000 to perhaps 2008, it was a scam because the info was hidden. We're the victims of that period of time. But no law school reform will help us. We're screwed.

    But for people going into law school now, for anyone to claim that they are unaware of what they are doing, or for anyone to realistically argue that law professors do not understand that the profession is a rotten dump, would be silly.

    We're already at the point that LawProf hypothesises above. And that is a dangerous point to be at, because it's a new status quo. We may well have seen the few class reduction sizes and drops in applications that constitute this entire "restructuring" of legal education, and these may well be washed out as the economy continues to recover and a token amount of jobs are added to the economy and a little positivity returns.

    2012/2013 could be the new normal, rather than the top of the cliff for law schools.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very obvious problem with this analysis: keeping the scam going costs money - a lot of it, an amount that grows every year, and which is coming more and more from the tax-payer as graduates can't pay down their debt. Transparency draws attention to this and brings forward the day when tax-payers pull the plug on it.

      Delete
    2. The grift has been going for a long time now. These figures from the Faculty Lounge are very interesting:

      http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2013/02/historical-data-total-number-of-law-students-1964-2012.html

      Look at how the number of law students approximately doubled from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. You can't tell me the demand for lawyers doubled over that same period. The scam has been ticking along for at least 40 years.

      Delete
    3. Perhaps. But with no publicity, there is no motive to change. Scamblogs exist because about 5 years if law students, from 2000 onwards, were legitimately scammed and are hurting badly. But in the future (now?) when nobody can realistically claim that they were scammed into going to law school, there will be no new additions to the scamblog movement. And the old guard will move on, get jobs, find a new path in life, and it all just fades away.

      Transparency is good, but transparency destroys the scam. The system is still broken, but its no longer a scam if everyone knows the deal. It just looks like some stupid law students giving money away to law professors for a slim chance of a nice career. Gambling is not a scam, and to be honest, the plight of a few thousand law grads per year is not going to make much news, and taxpayers have bigger scams to concentrate on than helping produce lawyers. Ours is not an attractive scam - we are small and generate little sympathy - and once it's no longer a scam, it's just another ignorable niche example of American society getting something wrong.

      People hate lawyers. People have bigger scams to worry about (student loans in general, for one.) I see the way forward for the law school scam as joining forces with broader student loan and education reformists, not trying to "out scam" everyone else in the hope that we will be first in line for assistance.

      Delete
    4. @6:24, you make scratcher unsympathetic argument. It's one thing for us to (rightfully) claim that law schools are pumping out twice as many grads as jobs, and that this needs to change. It's another thing to suggest, as many people do, that law schools should produce only as many grads as there are jobs, thus removing a the risk and basically having the schools guarantee 100% employment. Why should law grads get a special deal that no grads of any other program get?

      Think if it like gay rights. We should not be asking for more than other grads get. Just equal. And that includes some risk, some overproduction (but not insane overproduction like JDs have it right now), and a partnership between school and student with fair professor salaries, reasonable debt, and reasonable opportunities. You're asking for a sweetheart deal with zero risk, guaranteed job, etc. not going to happen.

      Delete
  40. Dean LeDuc, in his blog over at the Cooley website, says hiring is "ticking up", that it's a good time to go to law school. No Lie.

    Talk about mens rea.

    ReplyDelete
  41. This blog has helped me come to the conclusion that the law school scam represents a systemic failure more than intentional evil doing.

    As long as the special snowflakes are able to incur massive non-dischargeable debt to join the ranks of the unemployed or underemployed, someone else will be quite happy to take their money.

    If one law school shuts down, another will open. If one law school decreases its class size, another will increase theirs.

    The only real dishonesty is when law school deans, and certain professors, claim there are well paying jobs for everyone. In light of law schools graduating twice as many lawyers as the economy can absorb, these claims are clearly false.

    It is equally obvious that the bar cannot expect academia to fix the problem. The incentives are aligned so that law schools have a real incentive to churn out too many lawyers.

    The solution, if there is to be one, rests with the bar associations and state supreme courts: lowering the pass rates on the bar exams. However, judges have no incentive to do this.

    Eventually the word will get out that it makes little sense to go to law school. I, and just about every lawyer I know, have been warning prospective law students about this for the past 30 years. Those warnings have gone unheeded, in large part because most of these prospective students believe they are immune from the severe glut of lawyers.

    Markets are not rational, however. That is why this mess exists.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.