Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mail bag

I know I should be immune to surprise at this point, but it still surprises me how much outright deception law schools continue to engage in when attempting to lure applicants.

I have a forwarded email chain in my inbox that I don't have permission to quote from directly, but which the correspondent has allowed me to paraphrase.

It involves negotiations between an admitted applicant and a top 20 law school.  The applicant is a "splitter" in the jargon of the trade -- someone with a low (sub 3.0) GPA and a high (168) LSAT.  The applicant was admitted off the wait list recently and was offered a $60K "scholarship."  (This is a much larger "scholarship" than applicants with much better numbers who were admitted months earlier received).

Unfortunately for the school, the applicant is that rarest of fauna -- an actually sophisticated consumer of higher education. Over the course of a few weeks the applicant squeezed increasingly larger "scholarship" amounts out the school (again, these awards aren't scholarships in the sense of income from endowments -- they're simply straight discounts on the price of tuition). The award went from $60K to $84K to $99K to $105K, as "additional scholarship funding" mysteriously became available every time the applicant said no to the previous offer.

I know from other correspondence that the admissions office at this school was lying routinely to other applicants, having told them months earlier that the school had "run out of funding" for increased "scholarship" aid.

The most mordantly amusing exchange in this particular email chain involves living expenses.  After the applicant rejects the $99K offer, the response containing the $105K offer also informs the applicant that the school's cost of living estimates are "extremely generous" (aka greatly exaggerated), and indeed much more generous than similar estimates made by some competitor schools, because the school intentionally uses the highest-rent district in the city to make them, in order to make sure students can take out the "maximum amount" in federal loans!  The applicant is assured that although the cost of living estimate provided by the school to the federal loan authorities estimates an astronomical monthly rent, there are plenty of apartments near the school that rent for less than half as much as the estimate.

Somehow all this reminds me of my brief and inglorious legal career, which largely consisted of going through corporate documents looking for particularly damning bits of information. Every now and then you'd run into a letter from a corporate officer that all but said in plain English something along the lines of "is the cartel's price-fixing meeting still on for Tuesday?"  At least that guy didn't actually work for a law school.


  1. This is GW, I am sure of it.

  2. Wow! A sub 3.0 GPA and this person gets into a top 20 school with 105K knocked off the sticker price. Sounds like we've already reached desperation mode.

  3. I wonder if law schools are going into the red to offer these discounts or whether they really have that much surplus cash lying around?

    LawProf, any idea?

  4. It's bizarro world out there. I am a pre-law advisor, and I can't predict who will get in or with how much $--something I have been able to predict in the past, with some accuracy, after doing this job for quite a while. I have a ~160 LSAT/high GPA admitted at UVA; previously, my school has had only 172+ admitted at UVA. When the student started the process, the only school that student was admitted to was ranked in the 60's, for no money. As schools became increasingly desperate for asses in seats, the offers got better and better. At the same time, I have a fabulous 176/3.6 GPA (in Math) denied at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and NYU. Some schools in the T20 are running scared, others seem to be keeping the status quo, even if it means fewer asses in seats.

  5. "is the cartel's price-fixing meeting still on for Tuesday?"

    Those are the emails upon which you subsist during doc review. Very nice.

  6. While I am no fan of law schools or their tuition, in the school's possible defense, there are some legitimate reasons for a school to try to maximize its federal loan budget. Some students do come to school and already have families with children and need much larger apartments and a car, whereas a single student with no dependents and no need for a car can live much more cheaply. There are some students (I knew some in law school) for whom if the federal loan limit were set to a level that made sense for me would really have struggled to feed their families and get their kids to school/activities, etc. It should be up to the student to estimate how much money they need for living expenses. If a student takes out too much in loans the first year, they can always save it and use it to reduce borrowings in subsequent years. I think tuition, and not the living expense allowances, should be the real focus of reigning in federal student loans.

  7. Errr . . . Intentionally fixing C.O.L. at an artificially high rate to maximise the amount of public money you can appropriate sounds an awful lot like fraud. Just sayin'

  8. would really have struggled to feed their families and get their kids to school/activities, etc.

    If you are feeding your family with student loan dollars, and are not going to Yale, you are pretty much FUBAR.

  9. @6:42: The cost of living budget is meant to be for a single person. You can request a variance from it if you have a family or other special considerations.

  10. It's worth pointing out that this kind of thing works for people without amazing numbers, too.

    Your value to your school comes from two things: what you can do for them at U.S. News if they honestly report your GPA and LSAT, and what money the federal government will give them through you. Believe me, the law schools will be there next year if you don't get a deal you like. Some, anyway.

  11. And yet at some schools the cost of living estimate severely underestimates the cost of living - even sharing with 2-3 roommates I can't seem to live within the bounds proscribed by the school. I had savings my first year, I don't know what I'll do this year.

  12. GW underground needs to pick this up

  13. Is nothing the school did violative of federal law?


  15. On the one hand, I might advise a student with good numbers who has already committed to one of these schools and isn't getting much money to pull out and apply again next year--playing the money game next time. On the other hand, in light of the way schools are spending, the money may all be gone. This year's numbers (LSAT and gpa) will mean nothing, and schools who are holding their medians with small classes may not get the US News bump they are banking on because US News is quite likely to see this year for the anomaly it is. Then, what will they have? No money and no improvement in ranking.

  16. They aren't spending money; they are reducing potential income.

  17. The calculated lie about living expenses is indeed the proverbial "smoking gun" For a variety of reasons that I cannot go into in a short blog post that I type with one finger it may in fact be an indictable offense. Now we need evidence that other "estimates" are equally inflated for the purpose of raising the amount of the loan. Some eager young AUSA should jump on this now!

  18. The law schools are firmly in desperation mode. And it is beautiful to behold.

  19. Monty Hall to join law school administration:

    Can I interest you in a law school tee shirt? The full retail value of the tee shirt is $500.00, but for you, you're special. Didn't everyone tell you you're special. For our special students, we have a new tee shirt scholarship. For a mere $200.00 you can buy one. Can I sign you up? No. Well, you're in luck because extra tee shirt funds just became available. How about $100? 50? ok, 12, but it's my final offer.

    You sir, can I interest you in meals at the law school cafeteria? Meals are usually priced at $5,000, but . . .

  20. I'm sure you've read the piece by now, LP, but one of the interesting things to come out it was echoed above: the new sales pitch of "get your reduced tuition this year while we can, because we won't have the money to do it again next year." One of the lines you now see on TLS is applicants hesitant to wait out a cycle because the money might not be there next year.

    Of course, as long as trajectory in applicants is downward--and there has been ZERO evidence that it isn't still trending down or at worst leveling off, as evidenced by the February LSAT numbers--this simply isn't true. There is no doubt that next cycle will also see an intense struggle to retain students that match past year's admitted student body, but there is no reason to suspect that schools won't be equally competitive in trying to attract the best class it can. Given the incentives to maintain the same size student body (any money is better than nothing, even full scholarship applicants might contribute via post-graduation donations, a shrinking school size is a tacit recognition of drop in demand for the school, etc.), there will be more, rather than less, pressure on schools next cycle to attract as many students as they can while maintaining their USNews numbers.


  21. LOL at rising 2L 7:20, " I can't seem to live within the bounds proscribed by the school. "

    I understand and even feel for your plight, but...

  22. @ 9:05, "They aren't spending money; they are reducing potential income."

    Um, sorta. And because they have reduced such income, they pay faculty & admin salaries, overhead and wot not with, wot, exactly? (Hint: previously accumulated funds. This is normally called "spending money").

  23. Personally, I liked the university. They gave us money and facilities, we didn't have to produce anything!

    You've never been out of college! You don't know what it's like out there! I've "worked" in the private sector. They expect "results".

  24. Before we had kids, my wife and I would occasionally agree to go sit through a vacation condo sales spiel if they were offering free nights in a hotel that was actually of interest to us.

    This T20 admit's story of the ever-changing scholly amounts reminds me of some of those experiences.

    One of them started off around $28K (it was truly a very nice resort). The first salesdood, in the face of my persistent statements that we were only there for the hotel voucher, serially ran down to about $16K (each time coming down about 2K, the last couple of times after having to "go check with Bob, The Vice President").

    Then we met Bob The Vice President. Bob The Vice President had more discretion when it came to negotiating and was a more serious dood, he started biting off chunks of $3k or $4k at a time.

    Bob got all the way down to his final offer of $4K and actually cursed me (in front of my wife) when I said no. I held out my hand and politely asked for my vouchers, which he slapped into my hand, then politely asked him if he was willing to (i) step outside with me or (ii) apologize to my wife for cursing in her presence. Turns out Bob had more than one type of discretion, so he kept his teeth and straight nose.

    Now, here's the deal. All during the (hour-plus) nego session, I could see other couples getting up and shaking hands with their sales reps. Only a few of the couples ended up still there at the end, not purchasing. I remarked to my wife on the way home that I found it amazing that, based on the time folks got up and shook hands, that many of them obviously were suckered into paying sticker, while others probably got a fair bargain, but overall it just amazed me that a product supposedly worth $28K a pop at 5 pm could still be viewed to bring profit to a company just an hour later - at 4K a pop.

  25. Law Prof,

    Here's a way for your student to pay for the rest of his law school. The False Claims Act.

    See 31 USC § 3729.

    If Pfizer has to pay $2bln whenever some sales rep tells physicians that they can use viagara to treat some unapproved indication, surely a university is at fault when Grad PLUS loans are used to cover more than the full cost of attendance when an admissions office knowingly over inflates cost of living.

    Campos, say fuckall to the law business and be a whistleblower for crying out loud. You'll bring the whole damn scam crashing down and make 15 percent of the take from Uncle Sam in the process. Seriously.

  26. Wow. As a rising 3L, this is absolutely infuriating. It's becoming increasingly clear to me that my class, which started in 2010 (and possibly the class after me) were at the height of a fraud-induced law school bubble that has now burst or is in the process of bursting. We are the equivalent of mortgage borrowers who bought their home in 2006-07 - the suckers left holding the bag when the real estate market collapsed. My LSAT of 169 and GPA of 4.07 (LSAC calculated) got me waitlisted at UVA. 6:40 says now a 160 can get you into UVA. That is simply amazing

    This is just one more way in which the law school scam is so damaging - not only will my class be stuck with a massive debt burden (tuition at my school passed 50k this year), but the prestige of our degrees will suffer as schools let in lower and lower quality candidates (WITH MONEY!!!!!) in order to continue the parasitic law professors' comfortable lifestyle.

    There must be a prosecutable offense in all of this.

    1. Yes. Your class is really screwed. Hopefully next year students will apply broadly and ride out every waitlist until the end.

      I Hope committed students start complaining and asking for more money.

  27. The alternative is that the law schools will have to change. Some will change voluntarily, but most won't. This upheaval will force change on all but the few (YHS and a few others with enormous endowments) who will be able to continue with the current model. So, much pain in store for everyone. Change in the end, most law schools kicking a screaming and most law professors who have a shot trying to jump to YHS so that they don;t have to change.

  28. @951:

    I've wondered about the FCA and its application to law schools. Given how easy it is to trigger FCA liability in the hospital setting (medicare/medicaid type stuff), I imagine they could get nailed for inflating the cost of living to induce more government lending than is necessary (and to induce people to take money from the government in the first place), especially since much of that excess money is spent back on campus (textbooks, meals, etc.). The school is clearly deriving a benefit by drawing more cost-of-living money than necessary, so I guess we can take this onto the list of plausible claims against the law schools.

    Setting aside the FCA, why not just place a phone call to some state bar associations? Many of the administrators at these places are licensed attorneys. They're misleading the federal government if they're inflating the cost of living. Something tells me that just might be an ethical issue.

  29. LawProf's salon piece regarding Healthcare ruling:

  30. Rising 3L, you are indeed screwed. Now that there is a shred of transparency, law school seems like a really awful deal for most.

  31. Christ on a cracker, there's a 160 LSAT who got admitted to UVA?!!?!

    I can't even imagine the depressed game of limbo being played at the 3Ts.

    "How low can we go?" The back half of the US News rankings will be like a sluttiest porn star competition. They're all dirty, but you just KNOW someone's going to take a 142 and give it a half-ride.

  32. If you ain't no punk holla we want IBR, we want IBR!

  33. Great blog. I once commented wondering why biglaw pay is so high when
    quality lawyers are available for less pay. Other commenters thought the
    obvious answer was profit from firms' pyramid structure. I think the
    high salary is needed to make loan payments and high cost of living (and
    taxes) in NYC and other urban areas. Biglaw has to pay enough for young
    workers to cover all the costs - at least the cost of payments while
    employed. The workers aren't really worth the pay but the young are easy
    to fire and old workers are not so easy to fire.
    The legal industry, like all industries, is facing disruption and
    increased competition resulting in more work for less pay. We are just
    watching the adjustment slowly ripple through law firms and law schools.
    One day the government will slow the money going into legal education.
    Fundamentally, I am starting to wonder about the value of the legal
    system altogether. I have had a broad exposure to the law and been
    involved in some really cool cases but I also see that the legal system
    is not delivering good value. Cases are wildly too expensive to pursue
    and outcomes are too unpredictable. Smart people avoid the legal system
    and negotiate settlements rather than face an expensive roulette wheel.
    The legal sector of the US economy needs to become more competitive and
    deliver better value. Overall, the legal sector is not looking like a
    good bet if you want a very high profit rate. I worry that the value of
    a rule of law might get lost if the legal sector does not adjust and
    offer better value. I have been thinking that we need judicial rankings
    (like USN&WR) to measure outcomes.
    I often think about what I will encourage my children to pursue. Right
    now, I'm thinking low-cost State supported undergrad and definitely not

  34. Roberts is no liberal hero, but he made the right call. The so-called "mandate" is a tax. Great day for HLS-- Roberts, Kagan, Ginsberg (for first two years), Breyer, and Obama.

  35. If UVA really is suffering, then it seems as though law school admissions, like the legal industry salary distribution, is increasingly bimodal.

  36. Ah yes, CJ Roberts exercises the special revisionist history power of the Office of Chief Justice, calling it The Tax That Was Never A Tax, But Really Is A Tax, Even If We Insisted All Along That It Simply Is Not, And Can Not Be, A Tax.

  37. I can foresee 15-25% of law schools closing in the near future. You can run away from the laws of supply and demand, but you can't hide forever.

    When this happens, I wonder about the job prospects from the former professors from these schools.

    It's easy to blame the economy but the problems with the legal profession have been brewing for decades. The every-increasing tuition, no-questions-asked student loans, contracting job market, and doctored-up employment stats were going on long before the economy went to shit.

    It's not just law either--lots of professions are suffering. I know several architects and their businesses are all hurting. They are all essentially working part time now.

  38. Yup, that's what it means to be Chief Justice-- or on the Court at all--to have the capacity to see and call the thing what it actually is, based on what it actually does.

  39. @10:54, "When this happens, I wonder about the job prospects from the former professors from these schools."

    Jonathan Turley (whose job is safe) has already got an FDR-style court-packing plan all outlined. The xlawprofs will just become justices of the supreme court.

  40. I wouldn't rub my hands with glee at the thought of law professors thrown out on the street and trying to make a living as lawyers. Sure, they know better than to try, but they won't have to try. Most of them have been making north of $200k for years and doubtless have wonderful retirement plans through their schools. Clearly they can settle into comfortable early retirements and still live much better than most. Will they be as rich as they expected? No, but they won't have to work as lawyers, and that's the main thing. A few may drift off into teaching some other stuff part-time if it amuses them, but really, they're not going on the job market. They don't have to.

    --Keine Schadenfreude


    Relevant quote to this thread: "The Harvard constitutional law professor Charles Fried told me FROM ROME, WHERE HE WAS ON VACATION, that he was 'dispirited' by the ruling." (capitalization added).

    Rome is a good symbolic place for the parasites to "summer."

  42. 12:05

    Be fair. He teaches at one of the only law schools left that makes sense to attend.

  43. Also, are you really knocking him for vacationing at the end of June, when school is out? Bitter much? What exactly is wrong with anyone going to Rome in the Summer? (I wouldn't, but only because it's much too hot this time of year.)

  44. 10:54/BamBam -
    Well said, all true. The Lawtastrophe is just part of a comprehensive collapse that has been brewing for decades.

  45. 12:09, since Harvard influences the rest of the schools and has done nothing to mitigate the law school scam (and because many of the unethical profs at lower-ranked schools come from HLS), HLS is at the very least complicit. The juxtaposition between the Rome-vacationing professor and the thousands of suffering debt-burdened grads bothers me. It really doesn't bother you?

  46. really doesn't. This is like saying "Oh you live in a house with heating in the Winter? People in the Sudan don't have that! You should feel bad."

    I do buy the argument about complicitness though. But come on. This is a guy enjoying his vacation. He has a right to do that without being held responsible for the tens of thousands of unemployed law graduates that DIDN'T GO TO HIS SCHOOL.

  47. So...come 2014, under the new healthcare ruling, if an attorney wants to start a practice as a solo, he is forced to buy health insurance or pay a fine, correct? The same for new hires?

    What happens if the solo's spouse has health care and the solo is on that plan?

  48. And come on. The guy is hardly the archetype that gets stomped on here everyday. He was Solicitor General, MA Supreme Court Justice, and is 77 years old...

    Seriously, should everyone connected to law schools (even HYS) just drop everything and work 24/7 to find people who went to Cooley jobs?

  49. Also (finally), the poor guy's been emeritus for the last 13 years. He really deserves a vacation after that long and distinguished career (I just looked him up). This is not the professor who phones it in and writes one useless journal article every other year...

  50. The wall is tumbling down...

    I am neither an historian nor an economist. But, if I'm not mistaken, this is the first time law school--and most other graduate school--applications and enrollments fell during a recession.

    Even if he takes the offer, the student Prof. Campos mentions will be making more of a sacrifice than the school will.

  51. Perhaps 12:05 p.m.'s reference was to Nero and fiddling while Rome burned rather than to the fact that Professor Fried was taking a European vacation . . .

  52. If so, it was a very poor reference...

  53. "The Decline and Fall of the Law School Scampire"

  54. 1:11 - that was indeed part of the reference. Like the Roman Empire, the law school scam is collapsing while the profs are quibbling over health care. Thank you for getting it.

    Btw, Larry Lessig is very accomplished as well, but that didn't stop people from ridiculing his obscene graduation speech telling John Marshall graduates to give up Big Law to help the poor.

  55. Health care for the citizens of the United States... a quibble?

  56. 12:05:

    As an HLS alum still paying off my student loans, I have no quarrels with Charles Fried vacationing in Rome in summer. My post-HLS income actually allowed me to travel to Italy for the first time; why would I begrudge my school's professors the same?

    I've been persuaded by this blog that the majority of the nation's law schools are acting dishonestly and reprehensibly towards their students, but I have not been persuaded that HLS has wronged its students. Certainly not at the time that I graduated a few years ago, and (based on my conversations with current students/recent alums) not even now.

  57. 2:06

    Exactly my point.

    Yes the vast majority of schools (probably all but 5) are scamming their students and yes there are fewer law jobs than ever. But there WILL always be the need for at least a few thousand lawyers at big firms, handling big cases and deals, and HYS still DO send a big majority of graduates to those high-paying jobs with good exit options.

    So even if the professors catch a little Ivory Tower Syndrome...I think it's generally forgivable. They're not to blame for the dirty dealings of their lesser colleagues. Of course Lessig was wrong, but guy has his head in the clouds...and his sentiments are very realistic for graduates of HIS school.

  58. ^ Hungry quibble-troll is hungry.

  59. Do professors at preeminent law schools have a responsibility to address issues immediately undermining the system of laws and justice, or should the undisputed pinnacle of legal academia continue to instruct its pupils (doing no harm to these students) oblivious to the conflagration outside the ivy walls?

  60. John Roberts & freemasonry?:


  61. @2::47-- In their own way.

  62. This comment has been removed by the author.

  63. This comment has been removed by the author.

  64. @ 2:47 re: this:

    "Do professors at preeminent law schools have a responsibility to address issues immediately undermining the system of laws and justice, or should the undisputed pinnacle of legal academia continue to instruct its pupils (doing no harm to these students) oblivious to the conflagration outside the ivy walls?"

    Yes, I think that HLS professors have this responsibility. My point was that as an alum, I do not object to professors taking summer vacations in Italy, nor to their commenting on SCOTUS decisions while vacationing.

  65. This is fucked up on so many levels I don't even know what to say. A 3.0 168 is getting a full scholly at USC?!?!

  66. I feel like it's almost time to stop paying my private loans. I'm morbidly curious what the judge will say when I show up in court. paid back 48K of 64k borrowed so far. 2006 grad here. I think that's more than fair considering my education was pretty much useless. Plus ICR payments as well. at the end of the day i'll probably have paid close to 100 grand to work in a job I could have done with a high school diploma.


  67. It can't be legal for a school to tell students there is no more money and then find money for later admits

  68. Hey I finally got a decent job when I took JD off my resume :)

  69. "Do professors at preeminent law schools have a responsibility to address issues immediately undermining the system of laws and justice, or should the undisputed pinnacle of legal academia continue to instruct its pupils (doing no harm to these students) oblivious to the conflagration outside the ivy walls?"

    But it actually is in their interest for new law schools to keep sprouting like mushrooms.

    A big part of their sales pitch (particularly at a place like Yale, with a relatively small class) is that students can attend there, have a shot at a great clerkship and maybe biglaw on the way to the REAL plum job: Law Prof.

    Since law professors don't leave their posts very often, and since there are not really any physical demands in terms of stress, law professors can hold onto jobs well into their sixties and seventies.

    The fewer schools that exist, the lower the finite number of jobs. Eventually, if a couple dozen schools close, and a portion of the remaining schools cut class sizes, or don't rehire when professors retire, increase workloads of existing faculty, etc. then eventually it gets harder and harder to get one of those jobs--even for an HYSCCN grad.

  70. I attended an annual dinner yesterday at an ethnic bar event...lots of judges and successful older attorneys were present, the surroundings were ritzy, and vibe was genial.

    However, the incoming president of the organization gave a speech referencing the desparate situation faced by law grads. He specifically mentioned that, in total contrast to the affordable legal education and ample opportunities of his era, only 55% of new JDs get jobs in the profession within nine months of graduating in spite of debt levels that would pay for a "house in a gated community." He urged everybody to try to be a mentor for promising young graduates.

    The speech was music to my ears. The practicing bar now knows that law schools have flooded the market with massively indebted untrained lawyers. In only two years, the scamblog message has passed through the stages of "ignored" to "violently opposed" to "accepted as common knowledge."

    I anticipate extensive law school closures after another admissions season or two. For a 55% chance at a job, even these huge tuition discounts, aka scholarships, seems like a dubious proposition-- after all, the kids still have to invest three years of their time, feeding and housing themselves during the process.


  71. why would the older cohort of well-to-do lawyers want to train any new competition?

  72. 5:08:

    ...except that

    (1) HLS professors already have plum law prof jobs. If they want to lateral, most of them will be competitive at YSCCN/MVP. They don't really have a strong personal interest in lesser-ranked law schools (let alone T3/T4 law schools) continuing to exist.

    (2) As an HLS alum, I was never told that "law prof" was the brass ring. Most of my classmates were interested in clerkships, biglaw, high-end federal government jobs, and/or jobs with the most competitive national non-profits. In fact, I arrived in law school with a vague interest in legal academia, and I was quickly talked out of it both by classmates and by professors (the professors, if asked, acknowledged ambivalence about their lack of practical impact on this field.)

    (3) IME, most HYS grads who decide they want to go into academia do so later, after finishing their clerkships, exiting the rarefied air of the federal judiciary for practice, and realizing that they don't enjoy practice all that much. You're definitely right that these grads (see, e.g., Dan Markel, who clings to his address and can't even deal with using his own institution's email address full-time) have a vested interest in lower-ranked law schools continuing to exist. But I don't think that HLS professors are strongly out to champion the interests of that alum constituency. Yes, in theory, it makes HLS look good to place as many of its grads in academic positions as possible -- but only if they're academic positions in top-notch schools. (Honestly, it arguably decreases HLS's cachet if its graduates are relegated to teaching at low-ranked schools.) By analogy, HLS is *extremely* focused on clerkship placements - but primarily SCOTUS and federal circuit, and to a lesser extent, federal district. In contrast, HLS cares not at all about placing students and alums into state trial and intermediate appellate clerkships - and in fact would probably get concerned if too many graduates started accepting those low-prestige clerkships. The same is true of placing alums in tenure-track positions at lower T2, T3, and T4 schools.

  73. History repeats itself and a lot of these law schools will go the way of beacon towers.

    The only thing that keeps me going now with all of my debt is to see a system corrected.

    Maybe I will live long enough to see an end to the law school scam and the shuttering of a lot of law schools.

    I will not take schanden pleasure in seeing out of work professors struggle, but it is all a tit for tat, and when you couldn't help me way back when, I will laugh but nevertheless be able to help you.

    because I am better than the law school scam and that is what decent people do.

    We take care of our own family no matter how much we have sinned against one another.

    But the sinning has to stop.

  74. Does anyone besides me get tired of hearing about Harvard Law School? It gave us the case-study method of learning law. Isn't that enough right there to tell us they don't know what they're doing?

  75. Beacon Towers:

  76. 5:53,

    I agree with much of what you say, and I think that may be a function of Harvard's size.

    Yale is a smaller school, and I think is more likely to draw the type of student that already has a career in academia in mind when they are coming in to law school.

    Also, it may not make a huge difference if the relatively smaller percentage of Harvard grads no longer have a path to legal academia, but I would imagine that Yale would have more of a problem if those paths were eliminated.

    Overall, I think I agree that preservation of the the lower tier schools is not a huge concern at either place. I doubt they have an inkling of how horrible the market has been at schools outside of tier 1 (and increasingly nearly all the way up the rankings).

  77. I do think professors at all schools have an interest in not pumping out tens of thousands of graduates who are increasingly sour on the law school experience and the profession itself.

    I think a lot of professors would be shocked at how lightly "esteemed" they are by practicing lawyers and judges.

    Some of this is understandable...many, if not most law professors spend their days in the company of people who are essentially kids, many of whom are still adjusting to paying their own rent and preparing meals on a regular basis. These students hold them in such high esteem and there is no shortage of brownosing students willing to reaffirm their brilliance and place in the legal community.

    In practice, while some practicing lawyers might have an affinity for a certain professor, or might on occasion read one of the many thousands of law articles that are pumped out each year, more likely you'll find the case to be that professors are seen as endearingly aloof at best, or clueless and isolated from reality at worst.

    Take for examples today's decision. Academia seemed shocked that the petitioners would even bother to argue, as if there were literally no argument for the mandate to be held unconstiutional at all. Even though the mandate was upheld, virtually none of these esteemed geniuses (at least not from the predictions that I had seen) was on target as to how the opinion would ultimately be crafted.

    There is going to be a whole new class of customers (i.e. the unemployed) that are going to view law school and everyone involved with it with seething resentment. To their friends, law professors will be described as greedy at best and scam artists at worst.

    It's a problem, and legal academics would do well to think about the long-term effects of such a problem.

  78. That's simply not true. A number of law professors called it exactly. And it was five to four. It's not as though the people who argued that the mandate was a valid exercise of the Commerce were way off base. You were not reading widely if you thought the tax argument was not offered as an alternative basis for the decision.

  79. With no disrespect to Professor Campos, DJM, or Tamanaha, but I do not recall ever seeing so many high ranking and successful armchair people narcissistically comment and lament upon a situation that has no bearing or effect upon themselves or their own personal fortunes whatsoever.

    It is like the successful people in law feel like thay have to play the political field and give lip service to something that they hope will go away in time, but that they have no practical answer for other than to gratify personal vanity by listening to themselves speak theoretically and without any ideas on how to fix the law school scam.

    In the meantime there are thousands of desperate and very repressed US citizens drowning in American style student loan debt with no way out and trapped and absolutely dear God trapped and God help us all if this blog cannot produce a couple of more people brave enough as its author to come forward and denounce the scam.

    People that ought to know better.

  80. It was offered, but I did not read a single person who believed that John Roberts would write an opinion where he sided with four conservative justices in agreeing that the use of the commerce clause was not constitutional in this case, but would then band with the liberal half of the court to craft a middle ground under the taxing authority of Congress.

    Which law professors, exactly, predicted the above?

    While the tax argument was on the table, and I did read some list it as a possible outcome, I don't remember seeing anyone predict what actually occured. I'm sure someone did, but I didn't see it.

    Predicting a 5-4 decision isn't exactly rocket science. There are only 9 possible ways the vote could go in any case.

    Predicting that the law would be upheld is not going out on a limb, either.

    Further, I never said that folks arguing for the Commerce clause were off base. I said that most law professors seemed shocked at the very idea that others might disagree, and some even predicted an 8-1 decision to uphold on Commerce clause grounds.

  81. Laurence Tribe and Walter Dellinger predicted that Roberts would lead the majority upholding the statute as a tax. They were wrong about the Commerce power. Jack Balkin and a bunch of others wrote amicus briefs supporting the mandate as tax view, which suggests they thought it a valid basis for deciding the case.
    You go from "some" to making broad pronouncements about all law professors. By the way, they are right: the mandate is a valid exercise of the Commerce power and it is a tax.

  82. "The applicant is assured that although the cost of living estimate provided by the school to the federal loan authorities estimates an astronomical monthly rent, there are plenty of apartments near the school that rent for less than half as much as the estimate."

    Pretty good clue. Anyone have a good guess which school this is?

  83. I think this has been speculated to be GW.

  84. 6:33 pm--not all of us who comment here are snugly in tenured, high-paying positions. I consider myself a journeyman lawyer who earns a livable salary helping real people--I have a job I enjoy, in a small firm working for and with some great people, but I know there is no guarantee I won't lose my livelihood at any moment. The law school scam affects me personally because I believe in the rule of law and what is going on is dishonorable and an indictment of our profession.

    Lots of us have proposed solutions to this. I believe the ABA needs to stop accrediting new law schools immediately; that student loans should be bankruptable if after 7-10 years a graduate is still realistically unable to repay his/her loans; that law schools must provide accurate employment/salary information; and the fed. govt. needs to stop shoveling student loan money with no questions asked.

  85. I don't know how anyone even glancingly familiar with constitutional law thinks the individual mandate is a valid exercise of the commerce clause.

    On the other hand, if the individual mandate is indeed a tax, then yes, the taxing power supports it.

    It is a strange sort of tax, though. Is there anything analogous? Where you get a penalty you have to pay as a tax, for failure to purchase some thing?

    Maybe it could be looked at the other way, though. For example, people who do not have a mortgage do not receive the benefit of deducting interest from their taxes. Sort of a penalty.

  86. The individual mandate is like the salt tax on French citizens a few hundred years back. Due to built in demand (penalty for not buying) the French government placed all these extra goofy taxes on the salt.

    How will this not happen with the individual mandate? How is the middle class not becoming extinct? How will someone want to hire employees if the FORCED costs on those employees makes business bills more expensive.

  87. ^^^^^^^ hmmm. so why not tax health care transactions?

  88. If I hadn't already emigrated, I'd be buying tickets about now.

    I can't imagine being stuck with 100K+ in non dischargeable student loan debt (not tax-deductible unless you're making less than 45K or so), plus all the usual living expenses, plus there aren't any jobs anywhere, PLUS now an expensive new forced health insurance purchase which may or may not cover anything. Don't something like half the medical bankrupts in this country have health insurance? I was explaining the ruling to my Irish neighbors last night, professional and sophisticated people, and they just could not get their minds around the way the student loan and health care systems in the US screw people.

  89. Simple solution: replace with a national health system like the UK's NHS.

    - Cheaper by half

    - Simple

    - Covers everyone for everything they actually need.

    - Doesn't encourage doctors to prescribe unnecessary meds and operations.

    @3.22 You're right. No-one in the rest of the world understands why the US has its current health care system other than as a way for health ensurers and pharma companies to make fat profits or pure ideology.

  90. I never LOL. When I do, I never type LOL.

    It sucks, and people that use it, other than 3:48 AM above, suck.


    "is the cartel's price-fixing meeting still on for Tuesday?"

    LOL. And fuck, yeah!

  91. I spent lunch trying to explain the Supreme Court decision to my Italian colleagues. They seemed to think everyone's covered now. I just went with it.

  92. Ahem, Next post please!

  93. @6:33 p.m. You're wrong about DJM, at least. I know her well. She may be in a secure position (which she has amply earned), but she fights the good fight every day. EVERY day, even when no one agrees. She is using her security to make points that others cannot.


  95. The "law bust" may lead to a second phenomenon - the perception that law students from the class of 2015 and onwards are not as "good" lawyers. If you see law school and law school admission as a "filtering" mechanism, so the selectivity of law schools in general means that lawyers are more intelligent than most, and the higher rank schools as a further filter - the decisions that law schools are making now may lead to a perception, especially in law firms, that the classes of 2015+ are not that good. Certainly there may be more examination of undergraduate grades and LSAT scores at hiring time.

    By the way, I expect that law schools will also compete by flattening the curve. Georgetown when I went there had a B- curve, which compared with its peers B+ curve, leaving a lot of its JDs with faculty poorer grades that hurt them in hiring - the Yale dominated faculty thought that was fine. A few years back they moved the curve up to match Georgetown's T14 peers.

  96. Interesting - washington and lee way overenrolled. They are trying to get at least 30 people to defer to next year. So, how are admissions offices supposed to figure this out.

  97. "I don't know how anyone even glancingly familiar with constitutional law thinks the individual mandate is a valid exercise of the commerce clause."

    You have to:

    a) buy the idea that health care payment mechanisms are a form of commercial activity and
    a) buy the idea that inevitably entering a particular market is sufficient to trigger commerce power or that it's an exception to the idea that some positive act is required to be regulated.

    There's no real way to shoehorn it in a Lopez/Raich world.

  98. You can't make this up. Cooley Dean Letter on tuition increase of 8.5% for returning students.

    I can't copy the whole letter here as it is too long.

    It was posted on TLS in its entirety:

    I'm sure ATL will be on this too;

  99. Here is an excerpt:

    This year’s three incoming classes declined in
    enrollment by about 28%, leading to an 8% decline in total enrollment.
    That lower enrollment carries forward into next year, where we anticipate
    additional, substantial declines in the total enrollment. In putting together the budget for
    the coming year, we assumed that we would have new student enrollment at the same
    levels as last year. In reality, we anticipate further declines in new student enrollment in
    2012-13, based on applications and deposits to date. So, we face a serious challenge for
    the coming year.

    No mention of taking other measures to cut costs. Only that they need to increase tuition,


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