Thursday, May 31, 2012

There was a silence in heaven

Reprinted with permission:
Dear Professor Campos:

I am currently at a tier 2 University.

I have been admitted into [Top 20 school] as a transfer student and I will be leaving my present school because the school is regional and the market here is dead, and I have some connections [there]. I do not have my spring semester grades, but I would like to transfer into a better and smaller school than [the one that's already accepted my transfer] if possible.

I wanted to let you know that the "law school scam" does not end with admissions and the schools have a strategic interest in maintaining the facade through the duration of the first year in order to keep their best students from transferring

My negative encounter with an "anti transfer pitch" actually resulted from being rewarded for strong first semester grades(placing me in the top 10%). I was invited to lunch with the Dean, Dean of Faculty, and Dean of Career services. The Dean began by stating that if we transfer we are traitors, and employers will not hire us because they will view us as just using them as a stepping stone. This naturally confused me because [my current school] accepts a handful of transfer students and this would be very unethical if he was allowing the school to recruit a handful of people who he strongly believed could not get jobs and are traitors. The Dean of Career services then went on to outline all of the great opportunities employers were providing to grads of this school (a lie). The Dean said that we should be bound together by our poor US News ranking and seemed kinda angry.

My anti transfer experience was relatively minor, but there is a host of stories out there. Such as schools making students pay absurd fees for letters of good standing, or sending email to faculty prohibiting them from writing letters of recommendation to students.

Do you believe that transferring law schools is in a student's best interest and what do you think of the transfer game?
I happen to know the dean in question here, and the funny part (not ha ha funny) is that unlike 98.44% of legal academics he has very extensive practice experience, so there's a zero per cent chance that his remarks regarding treason could be a product of some sort of self-serving carefully cultivated ignorance regarding the attitude law firms actually have toward transfers. (In other words he's lying rather than bullshitting).

This vignette has more than a whiff of desperation on both sides, as the top 20 school isn't even waiting for half the 1L's grades before gratefully accepting his money, while the second tier school's administration abases itself with transparent lies in an attempt to hold onto its better students.

I wrote about the transfer game a few months ago, and I wouldn't be surprised if the next month features an unusually wide open scramble, as some schools try to patch big revenue holes opened up by their failure to fill their first-year classes, and others try to avoid an unusually large number of transfers for the same reason (of course some schools will be dealing with both problems at once).  Any rising 2L on the transfer market who happens to be reading this should take this general situation into account, and should approach potential transfer schools not as a supplicant, but rather as a seller of a valuable commodity. Think of yourself as a former Dewey partner with a particularly big book of business (sorry Dean X!).

Other signs of the impeding opening of the Seventh Seal:

(1) Chicago hired 12% of its 2011 class into one-year school funded fellowships.  These numbers are somewhat hidden on a separate click-through page rather than on the main employment statistics page so they're easy to miss.  Note that all but one of these positions are counted as permanent full-time legal employment for NALP purposes, since the fellowships last one year (the minimum criterion for long-term employment per NALP's definitions).

Chicago's stats are full of indications of how badly the top end of the law school graduate employment market is doing. The percentage of its grads getting jobs with law firms has fallen from 81.6% to 58.8% over the past four years, and the drop is even sharper when you consider that in 2008 exactly one grad took a job with a firm of 2-10 attorneys while in 2011 six per cent of its grads going to law firms went into such positions.  (The percentage of graduates going to firms of 50 lawyers or less tripled between 2008 and 2011).

The percentage of Chicago people going into public interest work has zoomed from one (!) graduate in 2008 to 31 in 2011. Most of these of course are the law-school funded fellows, which hints at the extent to which these fellowships are simply stopgaps for people who couldn't get law firm jobs rather than a new institutional response to the freezing up of the market for PI work (The extent to which there have been no PI jobs for some time now is reflected by the 2008 class stats, as surely there must have been several people in that class who took law firm jobs because they couldn't get PI positions).

The percentage of graduates going into "business and industry" has risen from 3.0% (comparable to the typical HYS numbers in this category) to 7.5%, suggesting that the majority of those positions are something other than consulting gigs with McKinsey.   Given that the number of grads going into "academia" has gone from zero to nine we can safely assume that "academia" likely doesn't represent a good result either.

All in all it appears that roughly 30% of the 2011 Chicago class ended up with facially bad outcomes nine months after graduation, which raises the serious question of whether for the modal applicant Chicago at sticker is a good idea.  And if that question can now be raised legitimately about the country's fifth-ranked law school . . .

(2) I've heard from various sources that a certain fourth-tier law school is in fairly imminent danger of being shuttered by the central administration of the university where it's located.  It seems dropping the admissions bar to the floor and saturation email bombardments offering "scholarships" to anybody with a current LSAT score are falling well short of filling this fall's class.

(3)  A couple of high-priced low-ranked schools are apparently cutting (not freezing but cutting) faculty salaries.  A little bit more of that sort of thing and American legal education is suddenly going to have a crisis on its hands.


  1. Oh man. Which schools are you talking about here? Name names! So mysterious!


    Anyone heard of this documentary on the Student Loan Crisis?

  3. First, the treason mark is a lie.

    I went to [below fordham, above St. Johns]. To a person, everyone who transfered up that I knew (about 5) went biglaw at top firms (Sull Crom, Paul Wise, Davis Polk, Cadwalader).

    Second, I hope that the collapse is so massive and destructive that [the dean of my school] has to sleep in doorways in deep brooklyn and beg for change.

    Sigh. Probably won't happen though. She likely has the proceeds of her misdeeds professionaly managed and in safe deposit boxes thoughout the country and world.

  4. The Dean began by stating that if we transfer we are traitors, and employers will not hire us because they will view us as just using them as a stepping stone.

    Setting aside all the other issues with the transfer game: for what it is worth, I think highly of the transfer students that I interview, because they generally have very good grades, and because they have exhibited the good judgment to make the best of their situation in circumstances where it would be easier to do nothing. In addition, I have never heard anyone disparage a student's decision to transfer in a hiring committee meeting. It therefore seems to me that the quoted dean's remark has absolutely no basis in fact.

  5. @8:20

    "Probably won't happen though. She likely has the proceeds of her misdeeds professionaly managed and in safe deposit boxes thoughout the country and world"

    You'd do the same thing. Humans are inherently greedy, selfish, short sighted, etc...

    You either just lost the game or your results are not as well as you thought that they would be...

    Its called life. Deal with it.

  6. But surely the profs at TTTrashville School of Law will now leave for those private practice gigs they've got lined up if the have their pay cut?

  7. " I've heard from various sources that a certain fourth-tier law school is in fairly imminent danger of being shuttered by the central administration of the university where it's located. It seems dropping the admissions bar to the floor and saturation email bombardments offering "scholarships" to anybody with a current LSAT score are falling well short of filling this fall's class."

    When it happens, the news must be broadcast far and wide.

  8. Is there a less high-brow place on the internet in which such kinds of names or not redacted?

  9. "exactly one grad took a job with a firm of 2-10 attorneys while in 2011 six per cent of its grads going to law firms went into such positions."

    It's hard to evaluate the magnitude of the increase when you switch from number of students to percentages.

  10. Freezing faculty salaries is not a crisis.

  11. ^^^^^^

    It is the sign of much worse to come.

  12. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    I agree.

  13. I'm sure you've already told your letter writer that a transfer has to be judged on the merits of the individual case, but the short answer is that a transfer solely to move up from one non-T14 school to another may not help his chances of future employment enough to offset paying sticker price for this allegedly better institution.

    If it were me, I'd get a letter of acceptance in hand, walk it down to the dean's office and ask what his opinion is of a full-ride scholarship for the next two years, with no stipulations other than full-time attendance. Afterwards, I'd make a decision.

  14. I agree with 9:04. Acceptance letter in hand, you now are a free agent to use the sports metaphor.

    I can go from Tier 2 to Michigan as a transfer,
    Dean Tier 2. Of course, it still will be expensive. Can you make a counteroffer? I'm thinking "full tuition scholarship" has a nice ring to it.

  15. "The Dean began by stating that if we transfer we are traitors"

    lmao. No way a Dean said this.

  16. LawProf,

    I hope you advised this emailer that it would be seriously foolish to give up a scholarship at his or her tier 2 for paid admissions to a top 20 trap school.

    The Dean may have been an asshole, but he was also an idiot as he didn't need to resort to threats when he could have a simple and reasoned argument.

  17. "First, the treason mark is a lie."

    Genius observation terry malloy. Did you figure this out all by you're selfes?

  18. Well, this can't be good news for anyone remotely involved in the legal profession:

    But don't worry guys...! There's no trouble here, because a JD will totally make you well rounded, highly desirable, and will hone your critical thinking skills!

  19. Yup. Those fucked by the Dewey situation can't find jobs.

    The REALITY of law school is that

    1. A JD is worth shit.

    2. A JD from a top school . . . is worth shit.

    3. A JD from a stop school + experience at a top firm like Dewey + losing your job for reasons that indisputably had NOTHING to do with your performance . . . is still worth shit.

    The KEY RESPONSIBILITY of law school Deans is to hide this reality from the suckers whom they swindle.

  20. Depending on the regional school and the Top 20, it might still be better to stay. My local market wouldn't be impressed by a mediocre showing at Minnesota over a strong showing at our local Tier 2, which is locally perceived to be underrated. I can see the rationale of treason in my local market, especially if the top 20 school has no name value to clients, like, say, Harvard.

    If Transfer is really enterprising, (s)he should email the local hiring partner for Transfer's dream job and ask for "advice" -- especially if Transfer plans to stay and said hiring partner went to the local school. Or, ask the hiring partner at Top 20 city for their "advice."

  21. Yeah, because a biglaw "hiring" partner (meaning the firm loser who can't bring in clients) really wants to make commitments to some dumb bitch choosing between two toilets.

    Great idea 943.

  22. Beside transfers, another thing to keep an eye on will be if law schools begin to experience higher dropout rates after first year. If you go to a non-elite school and end up with anything less than stellar first year grades, you better have some serious employment connections. Otherwise, your best option is almost certainly to cut your losses and drop out. Hopefully, as the word gets out, more and more law students will realize this and stop spending good money after bad.

  23. 9:38 is correct.

    A JD will get you nothing except a credential necessary for a job in an industry that is not hiring. That's true for most top school graduates, where only a few large firms need recent grads as billable fodder for large projects (ironically, like the Dewey bankruptcy!)

    As for the third point, biglaw is great money, until it isn't. Think of it as a very well paid dead end job. The experience you'll have there will not translate over into practicing law. And by practicing law, I mean what the know-it-students at xoxoth refer to as "shit law." Go that route and you'll be employed in a highly paid dead-end job with crappy hours and sociopaths for bosses. But at least you can service your debt for a few years. Don't count on learning anything there. It's kind of like law school, Part 2, only less fun, more stressful, and twice as pointless.

    Other former biglaw associates and I liked to joke that if we had somehow obtained a biglaw job without a law degree, it would be almost impossible for the DA to prosecute us for practicing law without a license. You will not practice law. But again, neither will your unemployed friends. At least you can pay the bills and have a 1 in 5 shot at transferring to shitlaw someday.

  24. 9:55: That's an interesting point, but I suspect the sunk cost fallacy is a particularly strong one, especially when it's linked to all the social pressure not to be a "dropout." I'd look for a certain subcategory of this: people taking full rides at lower ranked schools with the full intention of dropping out after their first year if they don't make top grades. (This has become a common recommendation at places like TLS. Whether anybody actually ends up doing it is another question).

  25. I've always thought the schools are actively exploiting the sunk cost fallacy, hence the tricky stipulations and section stacking. I see little point to scholarship stipulations in law school except as a way to exploit sunk cost fallacy while still buying students with high scores (basically hoping they will still turn a profit if the student's higher LSAT/GPA does not translate into better law school performance). At schools that make scholarships contingent on high class performance, I would think students would all be busting ass anyway to try and line up decent employment. A top 1/3 stip at a school where you need top 10% to be competitive for decent employment seems unnecessary to encourage students to take their studies seriously.

  26. @9:38 you are so correct...that about sums it up...a J.D. has for a very large percentage of people been worth shit for at least 20 years.

    @9:56 you are so correct...a biglaw firm job is for the majority of people nothing more than a dead end temporary job....the majority of biglaw hires serve as billing fodder doing mindless work that has very little to do with the practice of law outside of biglaw...and the majority learn few marketable skills in a biglaw temporary gig. As a veteran of three biglaws over more than a decade, it is also correct that most biglaw working environments are snake pits largely because people are constantly hoarding work and clients and backstabbing and fighting to get and keep any work or better work or clients as the case may be.

    Any why is all of the above true? Because there are way way way too many lawyers. And what is the only solution to these problems and the only way to alter these realities? shut down most of the law schools

  27. Any insight on how many schools are cutting incoming classes and by how much at this point?

    I suspect the only thing saving some schools is the reduction of class sizes at some of the better higher ranked schools.

    Also curious as to what happens to the students if a school closes its doors. I mean, I'm pretty sure 99% of them will be better off regardless, but are you just left with 1-2 years of schooling and nothing? Agreements with other schools to take the students?

  28. 9:56,
    Possibly true for litigation folks (I don't do litigation so I don't know), not as true for corporate.

  29. I, for one, continue to encourage little Tyler to follow his dream of becoming a lawyer. Ever since he read "To Kill a Mockingbird" and watched Ally McBeal, he knew law was for him. And with the status and prestige that accompanies the profession, who can blame him?

    Ah, until he uses his poli sci degree to become Senator Tyler, I suspect that he'll have to spend his days fighting injustices, attending lavish parties, and shopping for luxury automobiles. He's quite sharp, you know. Everyone in the family wants to be on his team for Scrabble.

    I've heard that some less-motivated, less-focused youngsters have had a temporary setback finding employment due to the recession. But that should be done by the time little Tyler is done with law school. I secretly hope that he decides to clerk for the Supreme Court instead of going right to biglaw, but I don't want to pressure him. He'll have enough to focus on at TTT law school.

    - Tyler's baby boom mom.

  30. "Possibly true for litigation folks (I don't do litigation so I don't know), not as true for corporate."

    Yeah because transactional corporate work is sooo booming. Litigation is far far more stable.

    Holy shit you are the biggest idiot to ever post here.

  31. 10:39,
    I was referring to the last paragraph of 9:56's post.

  32. "Possibly true for litigation folks (I don't do litigation so I don't know), not as true for corporate."

    More tempered response-- the biglaw corporate work is very, very pigeon-holed and there are often only 20 to 50 clients who the specialized work big-law corporate departments provide. A fourth year corporate associate who only has worked on mezzanine financing agreements and due dilligence on asset purchases is not ready to start his own practice.

  33. FYI no one reads more than teh first one or two sentences of a comment so write you'res better in the future. thanks.

  34. 11:00,
    I'm not sure if anyone that has only been working for four years is truly ready to start their own practice. That said, knowing the parts of an asset purchase agreement and having drafting experience is a transferable skill set. If you're in a giant biglaw shop then yes you'll probably end up pigeon-holed. At a smaller shop that does more general corporate / M&A work you will get broader exposure.

    You still end up in the same boat though where you're competing for a limited amount of work as you get more senior and a limited amount of lateral opportunities.

  35. this guy on TLS put together an "unemployment outcomes" graph for students at top schools from Columbia down to USC.

    worth a look.

  36. @11:02, were the "teh" & "you'res" typos on purpose?

  37. "The Dean began by stating that if we transfer we are traitors, and employers will not hire us because they will view us as just using them as a stepping stone. "

    My initial reaction was that this was one of: made up (by the student), an exaggeration (by the student) of what was said, or a Dean lying through his teeth.

    But maybe not. In the region I live now, there's a very well regarded local school that tends to run in the 50's - 60's in the USNWR rankings that nevertheless is quite competitive locally (in terms of student profiles, bar passage, OCI and hiring, etc.) with other regional schools that run historically in the 20's. I can imagine if TransferStudent left a school like that to go to a non-regional T20, AND THEN came back to the same region for employment, there might be some bruised feelings. So maybe the "traitor" meme is not total crap under precise circumstances.

    I really like the idea of several commenters above that TransferStudent could take his/her new acceptance letter to the current dean and bargain for a free ride. While this sort of negotiation is disastrous for employment purposes, I don't see a downside in the law school context, if the balance of risk/reward should in the end favor staying put for free.

  38. @ 9:55am

    Law schools could entice students with poor grades from dropping out (for that reason) easily by getting rid of grades (make it pass/fail) and class rank. Then no one needs to drop out because they were "bottom 50%". I heard some law schools already do that.

  39. This post by LawProf was a glaring example of his bias.

    To take this emailed recount as true (and all of the verbiage LawProf used indicated that it was true, not just alleged) without doing any fact-checking is poor journalism/blogging and shameful for a tenured law professor.

    C'mon, LawProf, you even KNOW this dean! If you know the dean, then you know some of the profs at the school. Did you inquire about these "anti-tranfer" lunches before taking the word of some random law student who very well may be exaggerating?

    I'm not saying to "out" the poor student, but really, you already "outed" him IF the story is remotely true, and especially if it is exactly true as stated.

    Check the bias--you've lost sight of the forest.

  40. @10:35 ("Tyler's Mom")=awesome.
    That is a conversation I have everyday where I work (public undergrad). It's a part of "Special Snowflake Syndrome" (something else I deal with everyday).

  41. Has anyone done a study on hiring and transfers? I imagine an employer showing up at Columbia OCI interviewing 2Ls and I get someone showing me their Cooley first year transcript who has not set foot in a Columbia classroom or met any Columbia professors and has no Columbia class rank to show. As an employer, I would think of that person as a Cooley student rather than a Columbia one.

  42. @12:09 p.m.:

    "Hi, Dean ___? This is Paul Campos. Yeah, that Campos. Anyway, I was wondering if you remember having a lunch wherein you made ominous noises about your best 1Ls transferring elsewhere in light of your terrible placement statistics? Hello? Hello?"

    A dean at Illinois Law falsified GPA and LSAT reporting for six years solely to bolster his school's USNWR rank and thus its brand with credulous prospective students. The lesson of this blog is that even stupidly unethical behavior by law school administrators may no longer be dismissed as beneath them.

  43. @12:46, I don't think that Cooley students are eligible to apply for tranfer admission to Columbia because Cooley is not an AALS school. Columbia is snobby that way.

  44. To all the people doubting whether this happened or claiming that it needs to be fact checked--

    [1.] There is a very high imbalance of power between a Dean and a First Year.

    [2.] While the Dean may have not said the exact words, the implication could have been made.

    [3.] Campos is allowed to protect his sources, and following up on the e-mail would have certainly outed his source.

    Bottom line-- whether or not the Dean actually said the word described, the student interpreted the lunch as an attempt to prevent the student from transferring. The Dean should be assessing whether this is a good tactic, or a possible P.R. nightmare.

  45. Brian T interview:

  46. Or maybe the dean just gave a spiel about how great the law school is and how much they do for their students blah blah blah.

  47. It always comes down to money, i.e. enrollment.

  48. Let me ask you law school detractors this, would this man have been better off having gone to law school?

    Almost certainly his life would have turned out differently, and better.

  49. The logical fallacy in your arguments is that you assume everyone who doesn't go to law school does well. Here was a Stuyvesant High School graduate who did not go to law school and did not do well.

  50. @ 1:47-- "Or maybe the dean just gave a spiel about how great the law school is and how much they do for their students blah blah blah."

    I don't doubt that's what he thought he was doing. The question is whether that's morally responsible in light of six figures of non-dischargeable debt coupled with expected incomes in the mid-five figures or lower, especially if a transfer would result in a starting salary of six figures.

  51. One of the most popular professors at the law school I attended 10 years ago widely advised students who didn't like law school, who thought they had made a mistake by going to law school, etc., to drop out after the first year. And this was before tuition sky-rocketed and the economy tanked. He was a good guy, that professor. He is still teaching; I wonder if he feels free to continue to offer that advice. I doubt it, but hope so.

  52. Really, profs like Campos and DJM could/should go rogue and encourage other like-minded professors (read, those with a conscience and critical thinking abilities) to advise 1Ls that if they thought they made a mistake by going to law school or did not like law school, that they should consider dropping out. Hearing it from a prof might make students view it as more of an option and reduce the stigma. It would do everyone a great service.

  53. @1246:

    I go to a T2/T3. Guy in my 1L section who was ranked equal or below me transferred to a T7-12. I don't know what he's done since, but I've moved up in class rank/GPA.

    He got a summer associate position, and will be soon starting at, a respected top 100-150 firm in their home office.

    I whiffed at OCI, was shlubbing it for a small PI firm, and have nothing long-term. Oh, and the firm where he's working? I applied for an open position with a professor backing me and I couldn't even get an interview.

    Again, we sat in the same room and took the same tests. Dude didn't make the law review cut or do well in the advocacy competition. He was probably around the top 10-15% at best.

    Him = job. Me (and half the others in the top 10-15%) = no job. Difference? School attended.

    Kids, if you can transfer to a T13 [not Georgetown], GO!

  54. A good bankruptcy reform would be that student debt becomes dischargeable if no degree is obtained. Or a ballsy bankruptcy judge could rule that debt constitutes a "hardship" when no degree is obtained. This would provide some relief and alleviate concerns over students gaming the system.

  55. 2:12/2:13 pwn this blog.

  56. I guess everyone is familiar with the content of the following article, and it does seem to tie in with this post by LawProf and the comments, but here it is again just in case:

  57. 9:55AM said:

    "If you go to a non-elite school and end up with anything less than stellar first year grades, you better have some serious employment connections"

    I well remember my rather fancy graduation ceremony for Touro Law School at Avery Fischer Hall, Lincoln Center in New York.

    The names of the graduates were called one by one, and sometimes there was a person onstage to greet the new graduate and drape the hood over the head of the graduate.

    For instance, the announcer would say the name of graduate Jane Doe, and then say something like:

    "And here to place the hood on Jane Doe is her father, Judge Doe"

    Or "Here to greet Mr. Smith is his uncle, the local Mayor" of whatever municipality in Queens or wherever.

    Or: "Here is the Partner of xyz law firm to greet graduate Jane Doe.

    And after a while I started saying to myself: "What The Fuck? It looks like they have jobs already!"

  58. For those that find this story implausible, I can assure that upon completion of my first year I considered a transfer and was told the "traitor" line by a professor of mine when I asked his opinion on the subject. Although he did not use the word "traitor," the message was the same. I believe he said something about loyalty. Anyway, for what it's worth, I have no problem believing the discussion occurred exactly as reported in the original post above.

  59. It seems to me that the premise for 1L students considering the transfer out of any law school would be that they have no law industry connections or jobs lined up after graduation, and are transferring out so as to enhance their career and income opportunities.

    For instance, a student of a local good old boy regional law school that has endowments from local law firms would not want to leave no matter what the grades after the first year.


  60. ^^^^Duh, I mean, the student is well connected with the local Rotarians and Kiwanis Club and Legal Community etc.


    The deep in dangerous and insane debt flickering porch light.

  61. This song is for all American student loan debtors everywhere. And turn it up LOUD!

    Another dedication from Cheeseland USA, from the Mild Mannered Mouse (Who Always "Gets" the cheese :)

  62. Hey! Thank you Mild Mannered Mouse!

    After all, courtesy and composure are the Queen's riches!

  63. Whether you believe that the interaction took place or not is not the issue.

    The issues is that LawProf stated something as fact when in fact it was merely one person's unsubstantiated one-sided impression of an event. Being as this student is a reader of this blog, it is also likely that he was looking to interpret whatever the Dean(s) said as being hostile or negative in some way.

    That's not to say that it didn't happen, but LawProf should do better.

    Try not to miss the point again this time.

  64. 4:43:

    What is your point? With all the crap that the law schools peddle, I could care less if the whole fucking thing was made up, true, one person's side or not, or a miscategorized handout that Lawprof was giving to his class.

    Who cares. Add something of value or go find something else to do you fucking douche.

  65. All betting is CLOSED!

    Where to get the money to pay off the life destroying and desperate student loan debt?

    Where? Where? Where? Where? Where? Where?

    I wish I was a hunter in search of different food.

    I wish I was the animal that fits into that mood.

    Run! Run! Run! Run! Run!


    but the good news - apparently dropouts are increasing, less debt servitude then

  67. Another cannibal story in Maryland. Thus far two people who didn't go to law school were eaten by cannibals.

    Law school - 2
    Anti-law school - 0

  68. @5:47 p.m.:

    It's true that even in this economy, most law schools boast a higher non-eaten rate 9 months after graduation than comparable professional programs!*

    * May be total bullshit.

  69. lmao expect to see victim of cannibalism in cooleys rankings

  70. Pretty nice op-ed by Tamanaha in the NY Times:

  71. Very interesting piece, especially the part about having schools that continue to focus on research and teaching while allowing others to focus mainly on teaching. Students can choose the lower cost teaching oriented institutions or opt for the traditional research model.

  72. 9:51 -- the good thing about old media, e.g. NY Times, is that baby boomers and politicians read it.

    Tamanaha correctly identifies the problems with legal education: too much cost, too many lawyers, out of touch law schools.

    He incorrectly proposes modest tweaks to the current regime (where he receives his meals).

    First, if federal funds are fueling this, which they are, why propose some odd new multifactor cap on loans.

    Here's a solution. No federal student loans for law schools. Period. Or how about this, no federal student loans for law school unless the educational institution agrees to serve as a surety for the loan.

    What is wrong with that? No loans to law students unless the institution agrees to serve as a surety.

    Overnight, student interests and faculty interests are aligned. "let's make sure that jimmy can earn enough to pay back the loan."

    Second, law faculty are as useful as tits on a bull. Actually less so, because bull tits can become hamburger. if you want to radicalize legal education, why not go back to apprenticeship?

    But frankly, if you forced educational institutions to act as sureties for all federal student loans, the oversupply problem goes away overnight. The high achieving poor would still have access to school. You'd simply see 100 schools downsize or close within a year.

  73. Simple answer...

  74. A few small points.

    First, the letter Professor Campos posted reminds me of one of the depressing aspects of legal practice, which is the proportion of lawyers who believe the lawyer jokes - and who are willing to say and do anything to advance their objectives - as long as it is not actually "illegal." Of course the Dean's statements were bullshit - I barely look at the law school an interviewee went to - in fact I am generally more interested in undergraduate work. I rely more on the interview than anything else. In any event I cannot conceive of a situation where someone's transfer status would mean jack-shit to me - I can conceive of the situation where, if I was on the board of this law school I would rip the Dean a new shit-jack though.

    Second, I think it is a bad idea to imply that law school leads to consistently poor outcomes - or even that going to say GW leads to such inevitably poor option - since it is evident to me, from dealing with GW grads daily, that at least in the IP space it some GW graduates secure interesting well paid jobs where they get to do cutting edge work - even without connections. But, I should also point out that these grads were probably identifiable before they even went to GW (cf my reference to undergraduate backgrounds) - for many GW grads, if the not the current majority it does not lead to a good outcome. This is the BIG ISSUE, that too many kids (and they are kids) are being suckered into law school and big debt - even though it is pretty clear that either (a) they will not get a good job on graduation; or (b) if they do they will hate the work and the professions - and unless they went to HYS - will not have the option of looking for a law professor gig.

    Third, when I graduated from law school and a traineeship in 1992-3 I had two BigLaw offers, but they evaporated with the offices. Thereafter I lusted for a BigLaw job - but when finally offered one - and a good one at the time (until that firm merged) - I was simultaneously offered a job in the No. 1 Japanese law firm in the fields I practice (according to Nikkei Business, the Japanese Business Week) - as the effective number 2 - in a 9 lawyer store. I took that job - and it was tough, but great. Between being in two smallish to mid-sized firms I amassed the experience to be be a big-company GC, with largish legal departments. In that situation I discovered something - most BigLaw alumni cannot be trusted to wash windows - their experience and knowledge is too narrow, they are usually paralysed by having to exercise judgement - and for the most part they cannot draft contracts, briefs, etc. They are sort of defined by haplessness.

  75. Fourth, there is a point to law school - though I think the exam system and the emphasis on grades tends to weaken the education that some students secure. Being a good lawyer is about having a very wide knowledge base in your field. Consider what I said about the haplessness of BigLaw alumni. A lot of that haplessness comes from two things - first, that BigLaw has those lawyers do one thing and one thing only, usually for a practice group that does that one thing. So to take an example, is not just antitrust - it is HSR filings (or worse 9 years of HSR second requests (I interviewed this guy from Skadden once)) - no intellectual property, no litigation (even antitrust), no EU Competition, no employment, no real estate, just HSR filings. Or it's every second month GMAC or some banks securitization of car loans or revolving consumer debt .... month in month out ... make sure the typos for the August offering stay in the November offering - no collection, no bankruptcy, no - just bond offerings.

    However, the BigLaw alumni also made it into BigLaw, based mostly on 1L grades - and that 1L secured those grades by focussing on one thing only - what was going to be on the exam - nothing else. When studying contracts, torts, civ-pro that student exercised no interest in anything that was not going to be on the exam - and forgot a lot of that immediately afterwards. The resulting lacunae in the 1L's knowledge have continued through the rest of his/her career until I am faced with his/her work ..... arggggh. Law school can and does serve a useful purpose - but far too rarely - because of the way in which law schools operate and the desire to pander to BigLaw as well as BigLaw's fatal attraction for so many law students.

    However, there are law graduates for which everything works out ... they appear to be a shrinking minority, but they are there. Saying the don't exist is so patently untrue that it undermines the message - fior too many law was and is an expensive mistake.


  77. The schools are naturally concerned that students will transfer and this is why this post is believable.

    This is the problem that schools have. Lets say the top 10% of the students transfer out...this does not mean that the other students rise to fill their place the school is left with everyone below the top 10% because the rankings is a snap shot in time. So this hurts during OCI very very much..

    Law students have to wake up and realize that all they equal to Deans and Professors is $$$$

  78. After a very good year at [insert rankings-based euphemism for Cardozo] I had transfer opportunities. Parlayed them into scholarship increase to 100%. State highest court clerkship, federal clerkship, V5 firm. No regrets.

    I was lucky. Looking back, I would not advise anyone to either (1) go to Cardozo with less than 100% guaranteed for all three years, or (2) not transfer to YHS. But you can do as I did, not as I say, and get away with it. Sometimes bad bets pay off.

  79. This is classic Campos selective reporting. Fails to note Chicago got a new Dean in 2010 who did a massive overhaul of public interest, huge increase in LRAP.

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

  81. "7:46" must be Dybbuk. Only he gets so worked up about Leiter.

  82. Have you informed Prof. Leitner of how bad things are at Chicago?

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