Monday, July 2, 2012

Puppet show and Rutgers Camden

MARTY:  The last time Tap toured America, they were booked into 10,000 seat arenas, and 15,000 seat venues, and it seems that now, on the current tour they’re being booked into 1,200 seat arenas, 1,500 seat arenas,  and uh, I was just wondering, does this mean ...the popularity of the group is waning?

IAN:  Oh, no, no, no, no, no,, no, not at all. I, I, I just think that .. uh.. their appeal is becoming more selective.
                                                             This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

It's time once again to feature a letter from Professor Camille Andrews, associate dean at Rutgers-Camden's law school.  When we last encountered Professor Andrews a few weeks ago, she was encouraging people who had never shown enough interest in attending law school to actually go so far as to take the LSAT to apply for admission to Rutgers-Camden's incoming fall class .

This weekend an unknown number of people received this letter, which one lucky recipient was kind enough to forward:

Re: Special Admit-Outreach Scholarship Program for Select Students


You have been selected as an individual Rutgers School of Law-Camden would like to admit in the fall of 2012 as an Academic Promise Scholar. We are waiving both the application fee and the $300 deposit fee. Should you be accepted, you will be awarded a $18,000 Academic Promise Scholarship renewable at $18,000 if you are in the top 40% of the class or partially renewable at $10,000 if you are not in the top 40% but maintain a 3.0 GPA ...

[Bunch of stuff about how good Rutgers is]

We hope to see you in the fall.

Camille S. Andrews
Associate Dean, School of Law-Camden
What struck my correspondent as particularly notable about this generous offer (the offer is 50% off sticker price for out of state students and 80% off sticker for in-state students, although it comes with dangerous stipulations) is that he has never applied to Rutgers-Camden. 

It seems fair to remind Dean Andrews that, while "outreach" is a fine thing, there's a point at which outreach can begin to resemble stalking.  At this rate, 0Ls with decent GPA/LSAT numbers are going to have to start getting restraining orders.

On the other hand as a famous poet once observed:

There ain't much pride
When you're trapped inside
A slowly sinking ship.

As of three weeks ago, only 107 prospective first-years had put down deposits to start at Rutgers-Camden in the fall, down from 246 at the same time last year.  Given that some of those people are deposited at multiple schools, while others make think twice about trying to catch a falling knife, the school could easily be looking at an incoming class of less than 100 (the 2011 graduating class had 242 members). Indeed anyone currently deposited at the school should take into account the real possibility that it could be closed by the university's central administration in the next year or two.

Now it's true that Rutgers-Camden as a whole has been hurt by Gov. Christie's apparently aborted plan to merge the school into Rowan University.  But this just illustrates the extent to which many law schools (Rutgers-Camden is smack in the middle of the law school rankings) are becoming the economic equivalent of frail, elderly people, who are in danger of being swept away by a flu bug or an easily broken hip.

It's also important to remember that this is the first admissions cycle in which something beginning to resemble accurate employment data has been easily available for a large number of schools, and, not coincidentally, the first cycle since the economic circumstances of recent law graduates became a national news story (indeed the latter caused the former).

Rutgers Camden's present situation represents the near future for a big percentage of law schools. Unfortunately law school faculty and administrators are no less prone to Special Snowflake Syndrome than prospective law students.  They (we) believe that general statistics don't apply to our particular cases, that "working harder" to place our graduates than other schools will exempt us from the consequences of structural changes -- that in short we are different and special.

So instead of calmly and strategically cutting enrollments and expenses drastically, I suspect far more schools will end up indulging in pathetic half-measures measures such as offering admission and large scholarships to people who haven't even applied, while continuing to refuse to recognize their (our) actual situation.


  1. Yeah, it's the school's fault for being lazy. They should have networked harder, worked harder to get a higher ranking.

    What, do they think that they are owed student applications or something? If they failed to get applicants, it must be because they come across as weird and didn't network hard enough.

    Schools nowadays have a unjustified sense of entitlement. When Harvard School of Law was first established back in the 19th century they had to pay their way with the proceeds of slavery - and now they're one of the most successful laws school in country! Why can't Rutgers show the same can-do spirit?

    Schools think they're entitled to the best students simply because they pitch to them. There's so many people who want to go to law school nowadays but can't because of prior felonys and low mental acuity - why don't they hang up their shingle, expend some shoe-leather, and pitch to them? If they just persevere, offer to allow students to study for free, once the economic down-turn is over they'll be sure to succeed!

    1. I see what you're trying to do, but I don't think it makes sense.

      These law schools aren't whining to the government and everyone else for help and handouts.

      They are trying to create their own wealth by appealing (via "cold call" letters and scholarships) to a new demographic: non-applicants.

      The author contests the ethics of the schools' creating-wealth strategies by using a slippery slope argument. I have a problem with their bait-and-switch scholarship offer (see the NY times article).

  2. 5:12 -- Outstanding!

    Student loan money (read "unlimited federal debt") is the only think keeping this house of cards together. Word is getting out to would be law students about how crappy job prospects are. When the NYT or WSJ write an article about crappy law prospects, it is always one of the top emailed articles. In the name of journalistic balance, they always quote a few shills who trod out old lies about the versatility of a degree and new ones about the temporary setbacks facing schools due to "the recession."

    Word is getting out. We're now 4 years into the new times. The first class of "i'll sit out the recession in law schoolers" are just now being thrust from the harbor of deferred responsibility onto the rocks of reality. The only liferaft available is IBR.

    End IBR, which steals from taxpayers and gives to law schools, and 100 law schools close next year.

    1. You dont actually expect IBR to ever forgive the debt do you? I'll believe when i see it

  3. Here is an interesting question - assume we are looking at the Rutger's Camden deathwatch - how will they close the school (becasue Rutgers is a state university one has to question the likelihood of this happening.) Will they transfer the current classes to say Rutgers-Newark (or vice versa)? It would make sense to consolidate the two law schools in the Rutger's system, but geography is a problem. For students it would make more practical sense to transfer across the river where there are holy moly - Vilanova, Drexel, Penn, Temple, Widener, Duquesne - that's a lot of choices (does Philly or PA need that many law schools??)

    What would students forced into Rutgers-Newark say - they would have to move (and Newark is more expensive than Camden), to a lower ranked school....

    How do you close a law school - what are the mechanics?

  4. In the not too distant future, law school administrators and professors thrust into the malestrom of the real job market.

    Surely such justice is divine.

  5. How do you close a law school - what are the mechanics?


    It is super-easy. You close the doors and lock them! Try not to lawyer (complicate) it.

  6. Mac, that's a good question. I haven't been able to find a case of an ABA-accredited law school actually closing. A few non-ABA schools (almost all in Cali) have closed over the years, but ABA law schools appear to be immortal.

    If somebody knows of an exception please point it out.

  7. @5:31 a.m.:

    End IBR, and a majority of recent graduates of higher education in general will be unable to pay their student loans in full every month. As far as I know, this won't affect law schools in any direct way. They were smart enough to get paid up front.

    Even if it's repealed, IBR will still exist in fact if not in law. There's only so much blood to be wrung from us recently graduated turnips.

  8. Dear Rutgers,

    I have heard of people who want to go to law school not being allowed to do so because of homelessness, penal servitude, and insanity. We do not indirectly fund you so you can pick-and-choose students based on ability. To ensure that you do take whoever you can get we are cutting your funding by 30%.

    Have a good summer,

    The Taxpayer

  9. Lawprof,

    They have been doing this for years. Camden did the same thing to me in 2008. I never applied to their program and I got an unsolicited offer of admission with a $20,000 a year scholarship. I think that a number of marginal programs have been on the edge since before the recession.


  10. @LawProf

    It looks like Lincoln University School of Law is the only school with full ABA accreditation to close. It achieved accreditation in 1939 and closed in 1955. From its Wikipedia article, it looks like they wound down enrollment over a few years, and then merged with the University of Missouri.

  11. Prof. Campos:

    That's just nit-picking, isn't it?

  12. I personally think that Rutgers Camden's problem is that they are so hell bent on teaching in New Jersey. As pointed out, the market down there i saturated with all of Philly and NYC's law schools taking up students - Rutgers should look into teaching in small rural communities in Nebraska. Statistics show there are a lot less law schools out there per population density - they have to be willing to go where the students are!

  13. 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*.

  14. @6.27 - Yeah, they may have to hold classes in a barn or at the local Starbucks for the first couple of years, but give it a while and they'll get a good student body. It's only a sense of entitlement that holds them back!

  15. @LawProf and 6:15,

    Northeastern Law School was shuttered from the early 1950's until about 1968 or 1969. Not sure of the mechanics of how it closed or reopened beyond a "lack of interest" cited for its closure and "social justice" for its reopening. Given their ranking, I can't imagine their present situation is too different from Rutgers's apparent dilemma.

  16. I heard Rutgers-Camden recruiters had to cancel their Boston gig.

    But don't worry, it's not a big college town.

  17. The 80s/90s closure of a number of dental schools is probably a better model for how things would go. See

  18. There’s plenty of law students to go around. Try the bankrupt, the elderly, the homeless, the unemployed. Specialize in space law or internet stuff (a recently open TTT has done so and is doing quite well). Have professors write blongs on their specialty area. Become an expert in your field. Law schools are doing this as we speak. You don’t need a real JOB. You have tenure and steady pay increases. Students need you.

  19. I’ve advised young law schools with declining enrollments to quit going after people with LSAT scores and GPAs and starting handing out flyers at the local community college. They were skeptical at first. I recently heard they had tripled enrollment and were doing quite well. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to. There are no limitations. And as to the Baby Boomer slur, you likely are unaware that there was plenty of advice to go around in the early ’70s to discourage young women from starting up law schools because their weren’t enough law students who were willing to be taught by women. You might also be surprised to hear that tuition was “not quite high enough” when I started law school in the ’70s and many fine people like yourself advised me it was foolish for me to pursue a profession in which students were such sophisticated consumers that they would smell my bullshit a mile away.

  20. For rising 0L's consider a key issue - whatever deal - tuition breaks, scholarships, etc. that a law school offers likely will not survive the closing of that law school. That is to say there are three ways to close a law school:- announce no new enrolments and a phase out in 3 years, so say this years intake would be the last class ... or announce in say May that the school is closing, whereupon rising 2Ls and 3Ls will need to scramble to find another school - or announce now - on in a month or two that this year will be the last - i.e., in May 2013 the school is closing.

    The first law school closing may not be that far away ... and once the first school closes, the option of shuttering the school will be out there for many others. Indeed the higher the rank and "respectability" of the host institution (that is to say the college or university) that closes the first law school, the more likely it will be that other schools embrace that option. In that regard Rutgers University is pretty highly regarded and ranked - so if it pulls the plug on Camden or Newark it will make it pretty easy for another college or university to follow in suit.

  21. Turnabout is fair play.

  22. @Bored3L - People forget what a versatile thing ABA accreditation is. There's nothing to stop an ABA-accredited law school utilising its expertise to open an multiplex cinema, all-night dinner or Auto-Parts dealership on the same premises except a lack of vision.

  23. How sad is it that I would derive pleasure from watching my deal law school alma mater collapse inward on itself? High school, undergrad uni, no such feelings. Law school? Fuck 'em. Shut it down.

    I am honestly struck by this reality.

  24. The folks at Rutgers-Camden were under siege by Christie and a political boss of southern NJ who wanted to take the school over and call it Rowan. That scared lots of folks. Whatever one has to say about the state of legal education, the profs beat Christie and Norcross for the time being. That's good.

  25. Why is that good? Who cares if they call the school Rowan ? These professors and alumni are not facing reality. Once the truth of their lies about employment are widely known, they won't be able to get any students.

  26. It's good because there are people already enrolled in the school who have an interest in doing the best they can with it, and people who attended the school who have interests as well. Present students and former students should not be forgotten.

    1. Alumni are on their own - they can't hope to keep this school going off the backs of student loans of the current students. That is a morally repulsive idea. Financial ruin for the new kids as long as the alumni are taken care of.

      Current students are better off saving their money and getting out. I'm sure a peer 100 school will take them.

  27. this is just wonderful news for a monday morning. if this is the condition of the supposed #99, imagine how the schools further down the pecking order are feeling? actually, maybe they aren't in quite the same shape, since their standards would be even lower, and they are targeting even more credulous, misinformed, marginally intelligent people. who knows. bottom line, there clearly aren't enough students to go around. i'm sure rutgers-camden's operating budget can't be sustained by 107 enrollments (and one has to assume most of those 107 are getting some type of scholarship).

  28. MacK -- your comment about all of the law schools available around Philly is a good one, however -- for whatever precious little value they are worth -- Duquesne is located in Pittsburgh.

  29. Yes, the voice of moral reason...

  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

  31. @8:15 AM - Sorry about Duquesne - it is not the onky Pittsburgh school?

    One point I wanted to make is that the likelihood that a law school will close is a function of how many schools there are in the state, and whether there are others in the same metro as that school - as well as in the case of Rutgers-Camden, whether its physical plant is contiguous with its parent college campus (Rutgers-Camdem looks like it could easily use the law school buildings). States in this situation include (rough counts) are below. I would expect the lower ranked in each metro to be likely to close in the coming shakeout:

    California – 64 law schools!
    DC – 6 (and remember that George Mason is effectively a DC law school)
    Florida -12
    Illinois 9 (6 in Chicago)
    Alabama – 5 (3 in Birmingham alone)
    Georgia – 5 (3 in Atlanta)
    Massachusettes 9 (6 Boston area)
    Michigan 5 (2 in Lansing, 2 in Detroit metros)
    Minnesota 4 (all in Mineapolis/St Paul metro)
    New York 15 (8 in New York City (plus some nearby)
    North Carolina 7
    Ohio 9 (Columbus and Cleveland each have 2)
    PA 8 (Pitsburgh and Philly have 2 each – but other schools have Philly campuses)
    Texas 9
    Virginia 9

    Of course the UK has 90 law faculties – and Italy something close to 60, France 43 – indeed most European countries have a ridiculously large number of law faculties and produce way too many law graduates.

  32. Detroit has U of D, Wayne, Cooley Auburn Hills, Cooley Ann Arbor, and U of Michigan in its metro area. It is such a saturated market and the wages are so low that we are poaching a ton of doc review from the east coast.

  33. Doc reviewers make 20 an hour here in Detroit and that is up from the 19 we made in 2009.

  34. The michigan market could be saved if Cooley, U of D, MSU, and Wayne would shut down.

  35. Luckily west Michigan is in no danger of suffering an attorney shortage. Cooley's six-year-old Grand Rapids campus is up to 750 students. There are billboards on 131 between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo urging people to apply. Or at least there were last summer.

  36. Predicting which schools will close is hard. It's not going to be all about rank. Public flagships will be fine. Public non-flagships may merge or consolidate, but probably won't close. For-profits (Phoenix, Charlotte, Florida Coastal) probably will not close, but will find ways to spend less. I think vulnerable schools are likely to be those that are relatively low ranked (but not necessarily fourth tier) that are either standalone schools or else much lower ranked than their parent university. Look at Whittier Law School for example: the stats of incoming students and the outcomes for graduates could not get much worse, but the undergrad program is actually quite good. It does the university no good to have a law school.

  37. 8:58

    You may be on to something about WLS. If a low-ranked law school continues to exist and provides little to no benefits for its graduates, then perhaps the university's rankings should take a drop as well. A number of law schools exist in order to increase the prestige of the undergrad campus.

    The problem is that the current ranking system does not provide for this.


    "His mother, of course, saw it differently. While she was preparing for Jason's funeral, student debt collectors were still phoning her about the money her son owed."

  39. This is wonderful news! Perhaps next year, RuTTger$-Camden will throw in free weekly massages, reduced housing, free parking, movie tickets, oil changes for the first year, and Yankees tickets to entice the lemmings.

  40. This is wonderful news! Perhaps next year, RuTTger$-Camden will throw in free weekly massages, reduced housing, free parking, movie tickets, oil changes for the first year, and Yankees tickets to entice the lemmings.

  41. 9:33,
    I agree it sucks, but why did you highlight that particular section? It's unlikely the collection agencies even knew he was dead.

  42. @9.33 - Painterguy again? Man, journalists are lazy - there's so many people they could talk to instead who would be more representative of student debtors than him. Instead they just re-use the same guy over and over.

  43. @8:58

    I think I laid out my factors that would make a law school very likely to close - and I disagree with you a bit (respectfully). Consider the reasons we have so many law schools that have also become so big. First, law schools that are part of a larger university of college are large net contributors to that colleges budget - the host institution is allowed openly to take 20% of tuition - but often contrives to take more. Second, law schools are regarded as somewhat prestigious, a lot of politicians are lawyers, etc. One odd point is that back in 1992 when I went to Georgetown it was in the process of completing a big expansion, driven in part by a belief that the high ranking of Harvard was partly driven by the shear number of Harvard grads - HLS had until then been by far the largest US law-school - which ignored Yale being smaller, but the Yalies that ran GULC thought YLS had earned its reputation. Huge classes make more out of the school - more revenue that is. But at the end of the day University and College presidents and their boards are in a business, and as a business division a law school made sense - it was easy to set up, required no labs and "minted money."

    Now think about the question the way that a university or college president will look at it:

    1. The law school is not going to send us that 20% this year;
    2. The law school is discounting tuition and "going into the red";
    3. Looks like the law school will need a subsidy;
    4. The law school dean tells me this is temporary but the lawyers on my board say "nu-huh" no way is this going to turn around inside 15-20 years.
    5. Our law school is frankly crap, it is ranked below the one across town.
    6. But the law school has great facilities - right here on the campus - and there are really nice offices (that dean has really looked after himself - I wonder...)
    7. No way I can get the law professors to take a pay cut - they will make me fire the junior professors first
    8. The rest of the faculty hat the law professors - but the idea of anyone tenured taking a pay cut will give them "the vapors"

    So - it is time to pull the plug on the law school. About that dean's office, I wonder if I put it together with an assistant deans....

    Factors that make a school very likely to close - being part of a larger institution that sees real gains in closing it.

  44. You have to admit no one does pathetic and hopelessly indebted quite like JDPainterguy.

  45. Sewanee: University of the South had a law school and it closed sometime in the 1930's or 40's, I believe.

    If a law school closed, some law & ---- professors might be absorbed by other departments. For those tenured professors the university could not keep within it's existing framework, the university would probably offer a buyout just to avoid the inevitable lawsuits. No tenure, no offered buyout.

    I imagine the university might work out a transfer agreement with another school(s) to take at least it's 1L and it's 2L students. There would be some disruption, but it probably could be managed within a year to 18 months.

    That is kind of how Vanderbilt managed things when it took over Peabody College in the 1970's and closed several departments.

  46. If I said it once, I've said it a thousand times, Rutgers Camden first, puppet show second.

  47. MacK

    Don't forget six in Tennessee. Three in Nashville and two in Knoxville.

  48. Can anyone predict what will happen if Rutgers Camden ends up with 70/80 students this year? I assume that this is a money losing proposition, especially given the tuition discounts which will apply, but really, what will happen? Will the administration dismiss it as one "bad year", and carry on? It certainly does not take a very large staff to instruct 70/80 students. Or is there an even worse outcome? So few students will feel comfortable attending this school - especially when they show up and see only 70 or so peers - that the class implodes? Can some one close to the situation comment?

  49. One law school that I think should be closed down (but won't) is Yale because from what I understand its not terribly difficult (and not by the standards of people who can get into Yale) and their grads often go into academic careers where they write articles about a subject they have never practiced and apparently don't know how to practice or least their former classmates in big white shoe firms don't know how to practice.

    Yale hasn't released its NALP report and for all we know it might look like Michigan's with the exception of the students going into academia (or worse.) Yale does a great job attracting good students but isn't doing anyone a service by not teaching them very well.

    It is wrong to rip off students who have worked hard enough to get in with a crumby product. Yale has the resources if they want to to change otherwise I think it would be better if the law school closed and let their faculty find jobs at think tanks were they can do nothing but research.

    Whether I kid you or not should be irrelevant. Maybe this is right on target and the schools that should stay open are the ones that do a good job training people for the real world.

  50. "crummy product"-- Yale Law School is not a cake. Or, maybe it is...


    see here for background

  52. tdennis

    3 in Nashville!! What does a city with 600,000 people or 1.5 million in its metro need with 3 law schools! Knoxville has 2 - with a population of 175k - 1 million in the metro, wtf! Seriously, does anyone see Duncan, Belmont or Nashville surviving - I would expect Duncan and Belmont to not make it in the current environment - they are not even ABA accredited - and I never heard of them (which may not be a big test, but when a law school leaves you wondering who, where? it cannot be good.)

  53. Yale Law School might be a piece of cake.

  54. FOARP and others, brilliant parody--I love it!

  55. Yale might be a piece of cake for the people who can get in...

  56. David St. Hubbins says,

    "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation."

  57. @MacK @ 8:15,

    I'd say that Boston has seven law schools, not six. Massachusetts School of Law is in Andover, just about 20 miles outside of town, if that.

  58. On the gap between theory and practice, redux:

    At Prawfs, a professor at the acclaimed Whittier Law School (discussed upthread here, too) who teaches classes like Trial Advocacy and Criminal Law ... speaks of his desire to take a sabbatical in order to work as a prosecutor to try *A* criminal case, something that he confesses that he has never done, even though his Whittier bio touts that he "brings his real-world experience to bear in his doctrinal courses such as ... Criminal Law." What real world experience? ( So, to Whittier Law students, enjoy your tuition dollars at work - paying to get professors the sabbatical experience that they should absolutely have as prerequisites to teaching: ).

    Parenthetically, Pritikin laughably claims a "fair amount of civil litigation and trial experience" - which, from his bio, appears to mean that he "participated" in two federal trials as a biglaw associate - query whether he ever spoke in court during the federal trials in which he "participated". I do, however, think that Pritikin is on the right track in belatedly trying to accumulate some practical experience, even though his lack thereof currently diminishes his credibility as a professor. So, I find it still more problematic that he relates that some professors at his school essentially shot down his idea, while others told him that he just needed to sell the sabbatical the right way - claim that he needed the practical experience in order to "generat[e] scholarship."

    Meanwhile, as 8:58 points out upthread, the stats of incoming Whittier students and the outcomes of graduating law students can't get much worse.

  59. To his credit, Pritikin does recognize that his current background has not equipped him well to teach his students:

    "Moreover, I am sensitive to the “homogenization” problem identified in the recent ABA Journal article, as just commented on by Paul Horwitz. I went straight from an elite law school to an elite law firm to teaching at a lower-ranked school where many of the graduates work as prosecutors or criminal defense lawyers, not associates in white-shoe firms. If I had experience doing the type of work that my students are likely to do, it could help me better integrate into the classroom the skills or knowledge they would need to succeed in that environment, or at least give me a more informed basis to advocate for other appropriate changes within the institution."

    I give him credit for realizing that he is part of the problem. But, he's still part of the problem.

  60. This story needs to be publicized hard on TLS, ATL and other media outlets. The negative publicity might force the incoming students to enroll somewhere else.

  61. Well, Whittier does rhyme with shittier. Booyah!

  62. Also, Whittier is tailor made school name for a "TTT" embellishment. WhiTTTier.

  63. @11:47 - so who in Boston are you nominating for the law-school-death-watch:

    Boston College Law School
    Boston University School of Law
    Harvard Law School
    Massachusetts School of Law (Andover)
    New England School of Law
    Northeastern University School of Law
    Suffolk University Law School

    Give us reasons and rankings on the death list - you don't need to do Harvard.

  64. I'll give you my three nominees in no particular order:

    Massachusetts School of Law (Andover)
    New England School of Law
    Northeastern University School of Law

  65. This is really shocking. Coming to a law student near you!

  66. Speaking as a lifelong NJ resident, and recent RULS-Newark grad, I can't over-emphasize the importance of the whole Rutgers-Rowan mess over the past two years. People have been LIVID. Rightly or wrongly, the "Rutgers Brand" really means something to us Garden State lifers. Even the credible threat of having your degree changed from Rutgers to Rowan mid-stream was enough to scare people away in droves.

  67. Of all the reasons that a person could be scared away from law school today, I'm shocked that a trivial name change is apparently the most effective.

    Economic suicide? No problem! Changing from 'Rutgers' to 'Rowan'? No way!

  68. 12:51, interesting article in the Times. It amazes me that something a little as a speeding ticket escalates to weeks in jail and thousands in fines.

    It's almost as if these "for profit probation" and collection companies want these crazy types of escalations.

    Oh, wait, they do. Good for bidness (for them).

  69. This comment has been removed by the author.

  70. 1:36 - You think the uproar over Rutgers-to-Rowan was bad, you wouldn't have believed the wailings and gnashings of teeth heard in Cambridge when they were mulling the name change to Poindexter's Legal Jam...

  71. 1:44, interesting that JDP associates his OFace with a dirty wet dishrag... ...guess he likes it better than the dirty dry dishrag...

  72. What school in Cambridge was concerned?

  73. @MacK,

    11:47 here. I agree with two of your three choices.

    - MSL is still remarkably cheap and is run by a true anti-ABA bulldog zealot of a dean; maybe still cheap enough to hang a shingle in nearby Lowell or Lawrence and hit up potential criminal and immigration clients.

    - NE Law Boston is the bottom of the food chain and probably the first to go; I reckon their incoming classes is quite tawdry. $63k/year and not one BigLaw alumnus this year, according to the 2011 ABA stats. However, their dean is also the Chair of the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, which will probably buy the school a few more years than it would otherwise possess.

    - Northeastern appears to cost more than every law school in New England save for Harvard and Yale (a shade over $70k/year), claims to be focused on "the public interest," and according to the ABA stats, had 4 BigLaw hires out of almost 200 grads. It is also interesting that they claim that "on average" the school has 40% of their grads accept an offer from a co-op employer, but the ABA stats show that only about 45% of their 2011 grads had full-time, permanent legal jobs nine months out. Does this mean that only co-op students find jobs? Or is the 40% figure fictitious? There was a post on ATL a few months ago about one of their grads going on food stamps.

    - I would add that Suffolk is in store for at least a downsizing. There are like 2500 students there btw day and night programs. That's bigger than my undergrad college!

    Frankly, the Mass Bar Association is saying that fewer than 1 in 3 bar passers in MA is finding work. All of the MA law schools should probably close...

  74. So gentle readers -

    I am actually going with Northeastern to close first - because it is a low rank, high cost school, the decision lies with a parent university, and its facilities are contiguous to other Northeastern facilities such as engineering and the Dana research center so they could be readily repurposed. NESL would be second - because it is independent of a college or university and the decision will thus be controlled by its obscenely overpaid dean. Then MSL - simply because even a bulldog anti ABA dean can't bring in students if they think they won't get hired. And yes, Suffolk needs to shrink, but shrinking is tough if it involved cutting faculty.

    But yes, I would put Northeastern and NESL at the top of the Mass deathwatch.

    Nominees in other states? Anyone

  75. Pennsylvania: Drexel, Dusquesne, Villanova, and Widener.

  76. FYI, Wikipedia lists about 12 law schools that have closed in US history:

  77. I haven't been solicited by R-Camden. I haven't been solicited by any law school.

    I feel so left out!

    If they can offer 80 percent tutition discounts to students to students who never applied, they should pay my therapy bills.

  78. I went to law school ten years ago with an appx. 3.9GPA and a mid 160s LSAT.

    While I didn't apply to Cooley, they did spontaneously send me a mailing that offered full tuition and a free laptop!

    Applicants: Remember that you can do better. Always hold out for the free laptop.

  79. 2:39:

    McGeorge school of law. Standalone, saturated market, highly overpriced.

  80. In New York State: First to go should/would be Touro. Then, New York School of Law. Next I would pick Pace: High price and, even with its location steps from Wall Street, it can't place its graduates in that industry, or any other.

    After those schools, Crooklyn and Hofstra would probably be at some risk of closing. Like Pace, they simply can't compete in the NYC market.

    Cardozo Law School of Yeshiva University will probably stay open because of its ties to the Orthodox Jewish community. If you're of the community and want to work for/with it, this is your law school.

    SUNY-Albany will survive, at least for some time, because it's in the state capital. SUNY-Buffalo might make it if Buffalo turns around. These schools, however, will have little if any clout outside of their hometowns. Ditto for Syracuse University's law school. (But, really, do you want to go to the LS that graduated Alfonse D'Amato?)

    CUNY's law school will survive for a decade, or maybe more, simply because it's far less expensive than the others, and for its emphasis on public service (great way to get a couple hundred lemmings a year, right?).

    St. John's will hold out for a while simply on the momentum of its alumni network. But St. John's has traditionally been a training ground for DAs' offices in NY and for government. The drastic oversupply of lawyers could mean that those jobs will be taken by graduates of more prestigious schools, which could spell trouble for St. John's. Also, it has very little clout outside NYS.

    Fordham's expensive, but has an excellent alumni network, which should continue to help place its graduates. Plus, they have one of the most respected night schools. They should be OK, at least for a couple more decades.

    That leaves NYU, Cornell and Columbia. NYU attracts mostly affluent students, which may keep it open--although, from what I hear, it's nothing special as a law school. A Cornell JD may continue to be worth something just because of the name of the school. As for Columbia: For the time being, it's still considered the next-best school to Harvard, Yale or Stanford. However, they may be losing ground to those schools, and others in T8.

  81. If any law school administrators are reading this, I am willing to go back for a second JD under the following conditions:

    -let me change my name after LSAC sends you my info;
    -since I need no dean's certification, no one has to tell any bar associations anything;
    -free tuition;
    -living stipend at maximum borrowing limit, part of which will go back to you;
    -you provide me a reference for my work history for the last 3 years;
    -I promise to take only the largest, more profitable classes.

    I have a covetable LSAT score and a knowledge base that can either blow your curve (to keep scholarship retainment down) or tank on purpose (straight Cs to encourage people to come back at sticker). I can work "behind enemy lines" to support people and suppress dissent, wear lots of company sweatshirts and talk about how I'll be a federal prosecutor some day, how this is the best career move I made, etc.

    Let's face facts. We both just want a payday. I do something to do, since the JD obviously isn't working, and you need warm bodies to sit in rooms and pretend they're not getting suckered.

    Think about it and give me a call.


    PS - act now and I'll spend pre-law spreading propaganda across the internet to counter the scam blogs, which, as you know, are more truthful than anything your law review has published since the 60s.

  82. This comment has been removed by the author.

  83. 2:49 You should rank your PA nominees in order and give reasons why one is higher than he other

    MacK has a point - we should create a ranked deathwatch list. It will at least warn the 0Ls

  84. Coming soon:

    Law Schools and Matchbook advertising:

  85. 2:39
    McGeorge School of Law is part of the University of the Pacific (UOP) which is based in Stockton, CA. McGeorge is in Sacramento, CA.

    UOP has a decent ranking for colleges.

    Given the fact that Stockton just declared bankruptcy, I do not know about the prospects for the town.

  86. Ooooh, are we closing law schools? I'll do Illinois:

    At the top of the deathwatch is - duh - JMLS, which just spent a massive amount of money on a new campus and relies on bringing in like 500 new students every year. My guess is they're already facing severe shortfalls.

    Next is Chicago-Kent. Less history and foundation in Chicago, weaker parent school than those below, weaker local network.

    Next is DePaul and Loyola in a tie.

    Shortly after them are SIU and NIU, both of which may be endangered due to the state of Illinois' politics and because students would rather go to Kent/Loyola/Depaul than take the cheapo route at the 2nd-tier state schools.

    Northwestern has an outside chance of closing its law school, even though it's a T-14. The dean there has already talked about reducing class size. Northwestern has a history of closing professional schools (they closed their dental school a few years back) and the law school is far away from the main campus, yet not as independently sustainable as the medical school. With declining interest, the school may just decide to shutter it.

    Safe as can be are U of C and U of I.

  87. I went to the movies this week and saw "People Like Us", one of the characters gets accepted to law school and a big deal is made of it with statements like "your parents must be so proud" etc.. so a lot of work still needs to be done because society apparently still thinks law school leads to financial success.

  88. MacK:

    Exactly. Too many! When the President of Belmont (a half-baked religious school) announced the law school in 2006, he told the Nashville press that he "wanted Belmont to contribute to the legal problems of the Nashville community".

  89. I nominate VLS as most likely Vermont law school to close.

  90. "I suspect far more schools will end up indulging in pathetic half-measures measures such as offering admission and large scholarships to people who haven't even applied"

    Curious - is this at all unusual nowadays? I went in the `90's, and got some unsolicited offers (from schools to which I had not applied), which I assume were just based on my reported LSAT and UG degree.

    In the end I was not interested in them, but I certainly did not mind at all having received them.

  91. "McGeorge school of law. Standalone, saturated market, highly overpriced."

    You want fries with that?

  92. Fries?!?!?!? Cannot even get a job serving fucking fries with a fucking JD on the ole' resume.

    5:33: Fuck you anyway.

  93. 5:38, 5:33 here.

    And have a nice day to you, too.

    Supersized, even.

    How about a nice apple pie fritter?

  94. They don't serve those at Mickey D's fucko. I know this because I researched the company before I applied j/k.

    Eat shit.

  95. 5:53, me again. I hope you have a wonderful evening and enjoy the work you can find, once you graduate from MS.

  96. I want to add my appreciation for FOARP's outstanding comments on this thread!

    There have been suggestions made that higher education should be financed by charging students a percentage of their future earnings for a specified period of time, instead of charging tuition.

    Though I am skeptical, I would support such a system for law schools if the assessment were reasonable, and if the school bore some of the risk of a bad outcome.

    For instance, if the rule was that the law school took 8 percent of a JD's earnings in the legal profession for 10 years, instead of tuition, and the newly minted JD can't get a legal job or decides he or she would rather do something else, it would be the law school that suffers the lost revenue, not the kid it shoved into a supersaturated market with a dubious degree.


  97. So under your plan Ellie Mystal gets a pass?

  98. Poor, poor Ellie May. Sometimes wonder if his dad was a Johnny Cash fan.

    Boy named Sue, and all that.

  99. If we're making a list of possible law scholl closings, here's a first draft for California. Stanford is safe as safe can be. USC with T-20 standing and a huge university endowment and top 25 university, closely follows up. The University of California law schools are a tough conumdrum. I guess you would add Berkeley followed by UCLA in the safe as safe can be catagory also. But the issue for the UC schools is the death spiral that haunts the entire of California's government. No one has a credible scenario for California working out it debt, its current deficit, financing its growing public sector much less public pensions that are unfunded to the tune of a half a trillion dollars. So far the method chosen is to cut funds for The state colleges and the University of California. Support from general funds for UC's law schools will cease in the next two or three years. To underscore the extent of the crisis, the UC regents aren't talking about closing laws schools, they are talking about closing entire campuses, presently, Riverside, Merced and Santa Cruz. UC Davis is a highly respected T25 school so it seems safe (albeit with a $45,000/year in state tuition). Hastings has been extensively discussed in this blog, so nothing to add here. But the importance of Hastings is that if it closes it takes a lot of the pressure of of USF, Santa Clara and McGeorge. I know nothing of their internal finances but from the outside McGeorge looks the weakest, being in all but name a stand alone school. Santa Clara has very high tuition, but is mid T2 and feeds into the silicon valley and to some extent gets its students from employees of the high tech companies. USF not so much and they have to contend with San Francisco's excruciating cost of living. At the bottom it looks brutal. Thomas Jefferson and Golden Gate both have $40,000 to $45,000 tuitions and beautiful new $50,000,000 schools and the debts to go with them. Both are lower level fourth tier schools of almost a thousand students. Thomas Jefferson's bar passage has dipped into the low 30's. Law School Numbers lists neglgible to nonexistent OCI for either school Both look to be extinct. Same for Thomas Jefferson's step brother in Orange County, Western State law school. The University of La Verne Law School with it's on again, off again accreditation looks similarly hopeless. Loyola and Southwest are interesting cases. Both old established law schools with large alumni and considerable respect. Southwest is over a century old, with respectible LSATs, Loyola a bit younger but with LSATs pushing into the 160's. Loyola has the advantage of being Jesuit and Catholic, Southwest the disadvantage of being a stand alone. Pepperdine is much younger, but is in and out of the Tier 1, has LSATs solidly in the 160s, a world class campus and a strong reputation with conservatives. The new UCI law school is a real question mark. It's very small and only in its third year. It has mid to high LSATS, but it bought them with free three year tuition for it first couple of classes. It styles itself as progressive to left law school, with a faculty that is highly respected by progressives. It was founded with a philosophy of clinical education and principally intended for its graduates to go into public service jobs. If it succeeds and its class size grows it will be at the expense of Loyola, Pepperdine, The University of San Diego and maybe USC. But no one, NO ONE, is hiring in public interest law, and clinical legal education is very expensive to sustain. And of course we don't yet know whether its graduates can pass the California bar. It had a $20 million endowment to kick it off but this must have been largely chewed up in start up expenses and it free tuition gig. And if the University of California as a whole goes through a financial mountdown then all bets are off. The University of San Diego is a young law school, just over fifty years old...

  100. Looks like Cryn Johannsen broke through to the public.

    803 comments so far and counting:

  101. 11:59 continued....but has a a strong reputation, is rated by USN&WR in the 60's and by others higher. It's faculty frequently go on to teach in Tier 1 law schools. And of course it's in San Diego. Its nearly 1000 students have LSATS in the low 160s. It is the predominate law school in the San Diego area. It's campus is beautiful, it's part of 5,000 to 6,000 student Catholic university. Importantly, its facilities are completely adequate and old enough that they must not be carrying much debt so USD has the critical mass to go forward. But the question is what happens to California Western the other established San Diego law school with nearly 1,000 students. I take it as a given that Thomas Jefferson law school will close. If California Western also closes then USD has a clear future as San Diego's only law school. But what will happen to Cal Western. It's two most obvious problems are that it is a stand alone and that it recently completed an new and apparently very expensive new school. So it's probably carrying a lot of debt. Also I can't figure where its graduates fit in the legal job market. It is a perfectly respectible law school which has provided San Diego with competent attorneys and judges for 75 plus years. But Law School Numbers shows that it has very little OCI for law firms. The government and the prosecutors offices aren't hiring and solo practice is economic and legal suicide. So what do it's 250 or 300 graduates do? USD must be hoping that it just goes away. Anyway, that's a first draft on closing law schools in California. I'd sure like someone elses thoughts. William Ockham

  102. Learn to use paragraphs.

  103. I have a lot of objections to JD Painterguy - he is in many respects undermining the whole cause of legal education reform because such a large proportion of his problems are self inflicted and he is atypical of law school debtors, but meets and reinforces a clichéd view of them.

    But still - if Tuoro Lw School was my client, I would honestly advise them that they should call Sallie Mae and try to collaborate on a deal - a confidentiality agreement in return for paying off/cancelling JD Painter guy's loans over say 3 years - and the tax. He is probably the single biggest reason I would put Tuoro at the top of the New York death watch list. It has got to be worth the $300k to silence him.

  104. But Mack, you are kind of a judgmental jackass who likes the smell of his own farts. I think your view(s) on Painter are a little short-sighted and simple.

  105. I just graduated from Rutgers Camden. I can confirm that it is a terrible school. Clueless adjuncts do the teaching, the career services is pathetic (obv), the clinical programs are worthless (Don't like family law? Too bad!), and the facilities are rundown and filthier than a bus station (except for the new wing, which is pristine and mostly taken up by faculty offices).

    I'm sad the merger didn't go through. The school kept whinging about how the name change would ruin their ability to "recruit nationally." Unfortunately, they have trouble employing outside their own campus, so maybe they should scale the national recruiting back a bit.

    About Rutgers closing, all I know is that once the merger with Rowan was broached, the Dean and many of my professors said that there had been ongoing talks to merge with Newark on the New Brunswick campus, and that these talks had been going on for a while. This came as a surprise to me, and now that they got what they wanted from the merger plan, I doubt it's in anybody's interest to lay off half of each schools faculty and staff.

    I've learned one thing about Rutgers Camden from my time spent there: They are very comfortable with mediocrity. I have a feeling Rutgers Camden will happily go on being a walking dead law school for a while. And if you're going to have a zombie school, why not put it in Camden?

  106. MacK,

    To answer your question regarding the Tennessee law schools:

    Nashville School of Law is a different animal than Belmont and Lincoln Memorial (Duncan).

    Nashville has never been ABA accredited. It's graduates can sit for the Tennessee Bar, but cannot practice in other states unless those states allow through reciprocity or some such vehicle.

    It's history is as a night law school, and actually has some distinguished graduates. It's very practice oriented and many classes are taught by practitioners. It's also relatively cheap, since it doesn't have to jump through all the ABA hoops. I'd imagine it may survive, simply because it has a niche market that it has served well for a long time.

    I never knew why LMU was starting a law school, other than as an additional revenue source, as it has started several additional graduate programs in the last decade. The ABA denied accreditation this year, which is under appeal, but that may have been the death blow as far as LMU is concerned, since they sued the ABA before even going through the appeal process.

    Belmont is a school undergoing massive growth and a huge influx of funding. In another time, it might have made sense, unfortunately for them they are running right into the teeth of this thing and have already sunk massive funds into a new law building.

    Vanderbilt, Univ. of Tennessee and Memphis are safe. Vandy due to status and money. Tennessee is the flagship school and alumni ties all over the state will protect their grads for the most part. (Vandy and UT also have small classes, and many Vandy grads leave for other states upon graduation, so they don't infringe too much on the other state schools).

    Due to Tennessee's geography, Memphis is also probably safe. It has a relatively small enrollment in a large city, and due to geography it's the only real option in the western portion of the state. (It's more than a six hour drive from UT-Knoxville).

    As long as those three schools (and the non-ABA Nashville school of law) existed, everything was pretty perfect, as the schools played to their strengths and didn't really infringe on one another's markets too badly, so it worked well.

    These last two entrants to the mix (Belmont and LMU) have not helped on either front, and given the state of the economy and the profession, I don't know about their long term viability. Belmont probably stands a better chance than LMU, but it's just brutal out there right now.

  107. I saw the video and tried to remember the song. I don't think it's new. The video was at an elementary school and it was a really funny puppet show. I want to know what song it is so I can show the video to my fiance. Thanks for your help.

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  108. Late to the party, but couldn't this letter technically be a violation of the state ethics code prohibiting lawyers from soliciting clients?

  109. 10:25, ask Jack Marshall of He gets paid for his "expertise" on such matters.

  110. I hear these talks of out of work law school grads "sitting out" the recession in law school. I will tell you this: 100 to 1 I'd rather be a unemployed attorney than an umeployed any other college grad. If you think a lawyer will miss the boat forever, they are either the studpidist, ie George Bush, lawyer ever admitted to the bar or your as stupid as the aforementioned Bush. All you mechanics "making more money than wall st" enjoy the sun, IT WILL NOT LAST. MARK MY WORDS

  111. I got this same offer except mine was referred to as a "High Academic Excellence Scholarship" which was for full tuition. I wish there was something funny I could say about this, but it is downright pathetic.

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