Glimpses into yesterday's ITLSS inbox:
Six hours later:Hey Professor,Here is the article about the [Fordham] Con Law Professor giving his students a multiple choice exam that had been sitting online for everyone to see all semester (w/ answers) that I had written to you about earlier. Not as hard hitting an article as I would've written, but it covers the basics.The school's 'solution' (substituting grades from other classes, many of which are easy A 2 credit courses) essentially gifts 80 out of 400 members of the class a better than median grade on the only curved and 4 semester credit class of the semester. You can imagine the consternation this is causing amidst the viciously competitive job market.I see that there was no good solution here, (although giving students the option of a P would have made more sense than allowing them to replace their grade with the grades of non-curved classes) the section in question already suffered 6 weeks of aggravation and stress. What bothers me is the stunning lack of accountability for the Professor who couldn't be bothered to accomplish his one concrete job for the semester. No reprimand, no apology, no consequences. He's an old man who clearly is no longer fit to teach and collect his large chunk of federal loan payments.
Hey Professor, so they have already bowed to public pressure and instituted what looks like a pass/fail, and did so by invoking one of your favorites - the 'balancing test'. They "very much regret the situation" but have announced zero disciplinary measures or repercussions for the highly paid Professor who caused all of this.Four hours after that:
I regularly read ILSS and wanted to get your thoughts on a situation that has occurred at my law school (University of Arizona). I am a 1L and was enrolled last semester in civil procedure. During the course of the semester it was clear to everybody in the class that our professor was not up to snuff. I'm not just talking about quickly brushing off topics or being hard to reach outside of class; I'm referring to basic deviations from professional norms that we are all held to. In the first week of class alone, the professor was late twice, each time students went to her office to find her asleep at her desk . . .
[Long tale of incompetence and subsequent shenanigans related to grading redacted for privacy reasons. Short version: Prof put on administrative leave and the administration is trying to figure out what to do with the class's grades]
The administration is working to come up with a solution that will only help the students (which I predict will look like everybody above median will keep their grade and everybody below median will switch their grade to a pass). My question for you is: do you think the class should press the school to refund our money for the course (at least partially)? The school treated the class like just another expense and took a risk by putting this "professor" in the classroom. The risk did not pan out as they would have liked, but the students are the ones that are skirting the costs and not the school. Any insight that you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
These sorts of incidents are perfectly predictable consequences of an increasingly out of control system, which features less and less accountability for those who exploit and are exploited by it. Law schools charge prices completely unrelated to the value of law degrees because they can. Students borrow sums of money completely unrelated to their subsequent ability to pay that money back because they can. Professors get away with metaphorical murder because they can.
From the look of it I doubt this Fordham guy puts ten hours a week into his "job," and his behavior is hardly unusual, as anyone who works at a law school is perfectly well aware. Yes lots of law professors work hard. Lots don't. After a few initial observations on this theme I haven't pursued it, because it's marginal to the central problem, and references to it become a distraction, since apparently nothing upsets the average law faculty member more than the suggestion that law faculty on average don't work very hard. But in any case it's a side issue: Even if every law prof in America published 100,000 words a year and spent 30 hours per week preparing for classes that wouldn't by itself lower any graduate's debt load or get anyone a job.
Still it's true that the non-work habits of professors are one outcome of the egregious featherbedding that is a prime consequence of having tripled real tuition since the 1980s: it's not an exaggeration to point out that it would possible to get rid of half the faculty at most law schools with no significant loss of educational quality. (Doing so would merely return faculty student ratios to what they were in 1980). And that of course has consequences for long-term reform: a few months ago somebody posted on I forget which law prof blog about a "no-frills" model law school that would charge only $20,000 per year year in tuition, obviously without realizing that no law school anywhere charged even that much (in constant, inflation-adjusted dollars) as recently as the early 1980s.
Housekeeping detail: JD Painterguy has assured me once again that he will no longer post on this blog. COMMENTS REFERRING TO HIM IN ANY WAY WILL BE DELETED, INCLUDING IN THIS THREAD. Please abide by this policy.
Are the legal professoriate and their supporters in 2013 becoming like Hip-Hop was in 2003? Consider:ReplyDelete
1) Despite some coming from ‘real’ backgrounds, law profs are now insulated from their origins by the academic equivalent of bling, blow n’ biatches, but carry on endlessly about a world with which they lost contact a few decades ago. Sotomayor is the Snoop Dog (I mean Lion) of the legal world.
2) Law profs have become ‘studio lawyers’, quite willing to talk smack in front of the microphone, but everyone knows they couldn’t back it up with action if their lives depended on it. Prof. Solan seems to be following in Ja Rule’s footsteps here.
3) Trusted by their remaining fans to say things as it is, in reality law profs and their supporters have become a set of commercialised-assed opportunists. For John Robert’s paid vacation to Ireland, read Dr. Dre signing Eminem.
4) Even the law profs with the ill-est content and delivery have retreated into producing esoteric product that even a Wu-Tang fanboi would find hard to follow. Prof. Leiter = GZA.
5) Law profs now show a marked tendency to blame things on the LAPD, government, anyone in fact other than themselves. Ice Cube’s “Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It” = every single law school apologia ever.
Isn't that making the dangerous assuming that law professors were at some artistic and political high point about 10-15 years ago?Delete
Although law profs DO do more damage than Public Enemy and NWA could ever hope for.
Don't talk smack about 'Em. If you don't see the talent in his lyrics, you are foolish.Delete
If you doubt his talent, check out Rap Genius. A site run by a Yale/SLS grad who was fired by Dewey a couple of years before they went bankrupt.
Oh, and anyone accusing the napping-on-the-job professor of being poor at her job is probably a misogynist, and shouldn't be allowed to make an anonymous complaint as this would be a form of contra-power harrassment, at least according to this lady:ReplyDelete
LOL, Valuable scholarship!Delete
Meh, read that one a few months ago.Delete
The only interesting thing in the paper is the fascinating exhibition of the intersection of her extreme paranoia and consuming narcissism.
Prior to reading her paper, I hadn't really thought much about how closely related paranoia and narcissism can be.
So in that regard, she has contributed something valuable to human understanding.
It gets worse when you realise that there's an entire field of scholarship on this subject. There's detailed studies based on surveys of hundreds of professors like this one -Delete
And what did it show?
1) Men/women reported similar levels of so-called contra-power harassment.
2) Some groups found the impact of their so-called harassment greater than others.
3) Tenure-track professors were more likely to experience 'contrapower harassment'
Don't get me wrong - sexist, racist, and violent behaviour has no place in the classroom, but all of this scholarship seems to show a tendency to elide mere criticism with unacceptable behaviour in a way very sympathetic to academia and not at all sympathetic to students.
Ha-ha-ha-hahlarious. Page 337 of that report has a table listing the categories of harassment for which the professors surveyed would give their impression of how frequently it occurred.Delete
Among what might at least be considered real harassment (kid appeared to challenge your authority in class, made hostile communications, screamed at you in class) are these other true gems of "bullying/sexual harassment":
- kid fell asleep in your class
- kid asked you to make your tests or homework easier
- you think the kid flirted with you
- kid rolled his eyes or frowned at you (here, at least, they add the qualifier "continuously", but who knows?)
- you got inappropriate commentary in the course eval
- kid answered a cell phone in class (rude and inappropriate, yes, but is this an example of 'bullying contrapower harassment'?)
Ain't we got fun? Glad I'm not a puh-sigh-kiyatrist.
She's pretty hot. Or is that a lucky picture?Delete
Fight the contra-power!
"This article also argues that remedial actions—such as tolerance education and trainings—should be implemented in the law school setting to combat the deleterious effects of such negative associations."Delete
Welp. THAT'S annoying for many reasons.
At Phoenix School of Law, getting pregnant or getting someone pregnant is one of the best possible results, especially if it causes one to drop out.Delete
Other people only get $200k in debt. But you? You got $200k and a BABY. Look at it! Isn't it darlin'? Oh my gosh, what were doing in law school when we could drop out, work at target, and raise this bundle of joy like hippies?
No wonder Fordham has a worse placement rate than Touro, according to LST figures.ReplyDelete
Holy cow. I was getting ready to give you a smack because I thought you were just trolling....Delete
...then I looked up the numbers.
Crap, you're actually right.
Can that be correct? What are the figures?Delete
Fordham is a classic trap school, but they are all trap schools now.
This just points to the extraordinary absurdity of law school. Students fight tooth and nail to make sure they are in the top x% because if you're not, you're going to be unemployed, owing $250,000 in non-dischargable debt, and living somewhere under a bridge with all of your belongings in a shopping cart. When's the last time you heard a medical or student freaking out like the individual above because the student was concerned that he or she might be below x%?ReplyDelete
That's because med school graduates are called "Doctor" even if they graduate in the bottom half...Delete
... whereas about half of all law students each year graduate to the name "Deck Shifflet".
In recent years, Fordham has had several professors who are thoroughly condescending and disrespectful to their students. This professor not the only one.ReplyDelete
Law school is a zero sum game - always has been. In order for someone to finish first in the class, someone else has to finish last. This created an undercurrent of tension when I was in law school over 20 years ago. With today's brutal job market, I imagine it's taken on a "Hunger Games" like dynamic.ReplyDelete
Best thing to do is what my T20 school did - refuse to tell anyone what their class rank was. You never knew who you needed to torpedo in order to move up. A friend's girlfriend who was at Boalt Hall came to visit him. She absloutely freaked out when she saw us leaving our books and notebooks unattended in the library. Apparently at her school they would have disappeared. And this was in the early 1980s.Delete
When I was a Georgetown my section was given a legal research and writing course, pass-fail I think. There was one person in out group who made trouble if she though someone was helping the others (very unpleasant woman.) A key case on the main exam assignment came out in a newly arrived F.2d (boy that ages me) and I certainly mentioned it to a few classmates - and then heard she wanted to report people for helping one another.Delete
Interestingly someone then went to the library and cut the case out from about 7 copies of the F2d (not realising there were more on other floors and of course west law.) We all suspected her - she was that competitive. Someone also stole my notes from my bag - I used bound notebooks. Some good it did them, my notes always suck and I rarely use them.
Ha, I remember stories about people cutting pages from books in the library too! I wonder what people do now that everything's electronic?Delete
Simple - edit Wikipedia to sabotage people who rely on it for their first-pass at any specific subject.Delete
Sorry to say this, but sabotaging ones classmates is something I've only ever heard about happening in the US. I'm sure it happens elsewhere, but the US is the only place where it seems a big issue.
PS - . . . although, thinking about it, though I never heard of actual sabotage by students there, whilst I was in China I heard of several instances of parents bribing teachers/examiners to switch their dumb kid's grades with those of another kid. However, I'm guessing the China comparison is not exactly one that most Americans would be comfortable with.Delete
While I understand the students' anger about fairness, it does not seem like an unusual event to me. It's similar to many I've seen over the years. A number of my professors and teachers were too lazy to write exams and the smart students got copies of old ones. Heck, this is why Fraternities were invented.ReplyDelete
Still, given the stress in the job market, I can see why the students are turning it into a major faux pas. If you're paying solid gold tuition, you expect perfect service.
It sure looked like a good idea to charge so much but now it's coming back to bite us.
The main point is that these people are literally paying 100K plus for this - money justified on the grounds that it is needed to deliver a 'high quality education'. Profs everywhere can be lazy and useless, but they don't get to charge what law profs do.Delete
Remember, kids, these are just the grading issues you find out about. The professor who grades two identical exams with an A- and a C+ has almost no way of being detected. He can tell the C+ student that issues x, y, and z were missed while telling the A- student that x, y, and z only meant a half-letter grade.ReplyDelete
At least at my school, exams were "anonymous," but then the professor got a window of time to see the actual scores and make "adjustments" that better fit who properly genuflected during class. There was no way to see these "adjustments," only if the professor had the decency to show you your original score.
I also suspected one of my professors had a wife/assistant grade one of my exams after reviewing the hard copy and talking with him about what the marks meant.
Of course, the emphasis on law school grades and the allowance for such variances and schemes (as well as the wide variance in grading curves) could be more or less ended instantly with some uniform action by the ABA or possible the NALP, but they have no incentive to do a darned thing as long as the people who wound up on top of the somewhat-arbitrary grading curves have no problems.
There's a professor at Mizzou who wanted an accommodation to allow her to skype her class. That's right, she didn't even want to leave her house and still collect a six-figure salary.ReplyDelete
She wouldn't have been the first professor to get paid to deliver a glorified webinar. Sad but true.Delete
Jesus. Such chutzpah.Delete
There's one at my law school who was late for every class but one in first year. (Having attended every class throughout law school, I can confirm it.) He doesn't even produce scholarshit, although he managed to cobble some garbage together for publication in our law journal (over my protest) just in time for his application for tenure.
At my law school, BLS, there were two corporations professors the year I took corporations.ReplyDelete
One, Prof. Roberta Karmel, is a former SEC Commissioner that has forgotten more about the corporate and securities law than most securities lawyers will ever know, and she doesn't appear to forget much.
The other prof. showed the full length Oliver Stone movie "Wall Street," including the scene where Daryl Hannah and Charlie Sheen are thrusting into each other in an 80s penthouse dystopia. There was a grade dispute in that class as well, something about the prof. missing multiple classes and not doing the reading. Thankfully, I had Karmel.
Obscene difference in quality. Same price.
That penthouse was supposed to be awesome at the time.Delete
It's all completely arbitrary at best, and vindictive at worst. Everyone has had that professor who's mind was made up about one's work long before the prof even opened the blue-book. They hide behind the facade of blind grading, but at some point they have to match exams to names. If a student manages to get out of law school without having at least one professor torch her or his gpa pitilessly, she or he has enjoyed incredible luck.ReplyDelete
At my LS the profs had zero insight ever into grades until the registrar's office matched code numbers to grades and then locked down the grades.Delete
If a student then had a prof willing to discuss the content and grading of the exam* and the grade got adjusted upward, they had to report together to the registrar and she would make the change.
She rule with an iron fist in that regard, but otherwise was a very nice person.
*And most were not - the usual line was, "You can't talk to me about your exam except for errors in arithmetic tallying score".
I'm sorry, after reading the comment by 7:16 below I realize I made a mistake in saying "zero insight ever".Delete
The legal research/writing and the litigation practices adjuncts did have to know who was who. Also in any class where the grade was based on a selected research topic paper.
Students, professors, and even administrators have told me that my schoolmarmish cursive handwriting is so distinctive that my identity is evident despite the hiding of the names.Delete
Okay, now THAT was funny. Perhaps the admonition should have mentioned summary judgment and execution for even glancingly oblique references.ReplyDelete
Law school is such a scam. No wonder no one is applying.ReplyDelete
Students smart enough to go to law school (except for the troglodytes inhabiting the lowest echelon of the diploma mills) all are smart, competent, and diligent enough to obtain jobs that will pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $50k to $100k in 10 years' time. You probably could even run your own small business, shop, bar/restaurant, franchise, etc. You certainly could do well enough to get a no work government job with sweet benefits that pays $40k+.
Why would you want to pay $150k+ to join a dying profession? Even the gatekeepers (read law schools and the ABA) don't give a damn about you or what's happening out there.
Let me tell you what is happening out there. Lawyers are under increasing pressure to work more, earn less, fight with more jerks, chase more clients, deal with unrealistic deadlines, have more discovery and documents than ever before, try fewer cases, try more bitter cases, be undercut by legal 'software' services, undo mistakes made by legal 'software' services.
It's absolute carnage, not the utopia that academics and Hollywood would have you believe.
"You certainly could do well enough to get a no work government job with sweet benefits that pays $40k+."Delete
Considering that state governments have been slashing their payrolls for several years now, probably not. OTOH, everything else holds.
I wish everyone would get this message. These kids don't understand that applications are down because the truth of employment is starting to be known. Why they think it doesn't apply to them is something I don't understand.Delete
Why is anyone going to law school this year? There is no demand for lawyers, it is a huge cost proposition and the rewards are small.
On TLS some people are saying they need to go to law school because the best job they could get where they live pays $8.50. These kids are resourceful and hard-working and determined, yet they can't figure out a way to make something happen for themselves outside of getting student loans to live on while in school.
If you live in a small town or a place with no jobs, put some effort into figuring out something else. Law school seems to be the obvious way out, but it isn't. If you are smart enough to get into a T14 school, you need to be smart enough to avoid being scammed for life.
Don't assume you will be making a high salary. Assume a 50,000 salary after law school,at best, does it hold the same appeal?
Realize that if you hit biglaw, you may hate it, and then what? Realize that the odds of getting and keeping a biglaw job for more than a few years are very, very slim.
Why are you going to law school?
Oh, also, there was an article in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month about partners being let go by firms - if they are cutting partners, where do you think your career is going? Demand is not increasing, so all firms can do is cut cost and increase productivity.Delete
Note that Patton Boggs attorney mentions that making partner is harder now at every firm.
It was never easy to make partner in biglaw, it must be close to impossible now. See below:
For firms with hundreds of lawyers, even a 100-hour or 250-hour drop in the average number of hours billed annually can add up to a substantial hit, says Edward Newberry, managing partner at law firm Patton Boggs LLP.
"Rate increases are hard to come by, demand is not increasing," he says. For firms trying to increase profits, "partner productivity is one of the remaining key tools."
The Washington, D.C., firm began setting individual productivity targets for its partners about two years ago. Partners who aren't up to par may get additional training or be deployed to other, busier, practices.
"In some cases we are counseling people out of the firm, but that's a step we prefer not to take," Mr. Newberry said. "Partnership standards at all firms, including ours, have increased."
If you think government jobs are still "no work jobs" in this budget environment (if they ever were), you haven't been reading the news. On the federal level, every agency I know of is severely understaffed due to long term budget and hiring freezes. Most employees are doing the work of 2-3 other employees right now. Oh, and our pay has been frozen for going on three years now and we're constantly under threat of imminent shutdown or furlough thanks to congress. State and local budgets have been slashed even more severely than the fed. But if you think working for the government is so great, why don't you go ahead and waltz yourself into one of those easy to get jobs and within a year surely you'll be an ambassador or something.Delete
"If you think government jobs are still "no work jobs" ... [gummint] employees are doing the work of 2-3 other employees right now"Delete
That puts them up to, what, 20-30 hpw of actual work now?
GDP is offically negative again. This doesn't bode well for the already moribound legal job market.ReplyDelete
If you are even thinking about going to law school, save yourself the 2 hours that you would have otherwise spent watching Judgment at Nuremberg or Legally Blonde.ReplyDelete
Instead, spend 30 minutes of that time at a group therapy session for delusional narcissists. Spend the remaining hour and a half at a civil motion calendar for the state court of general jurisdiction in your state.
If you still are interested in considering law school after that experience, go to night court at your nearest municipal court or to family court.
Note that this is about as "good as it gets" in the practice of law. The rest of the time you will be on the phone chasing clients, money, documents, or opposing counsel. Your nights and weekends will be spent responding to correspondence and/or motions.
That is the life of a lawyer. It is important work and necessary to the clients. But it is not exciting nor glamorous work. You're doing someone else's homework for a living.
I try not to go to too many civil motions days - judges treat snoring as contempt.Delete
At Boston University a con law professor did the same thing last spring - reuse an old exam where model answers were available online. No justice.ReplyDelete
Also relevant, a BU Law professor a few years back got horrible reviews from most of the 1L section she taught, and some students even went out of their way to speak with the administration about this professor's behavior. After the professor saw the reviews, the administration gathered the class together for what the students thought would be an apology and conversation about grade corrections. Instead, the administration asked the class to apologize to the professor and accused the students of treating her unfairly.Delete
That's hilarious. Who was the prof?Delete
I wasn't in that section (Section C, Class of 2010), so I heard the whole story from friends who were. It sounded like a real nightmare; first they had to sit through this terrible class, then they got chewed out for being honest in their evals. If I had experienced it first-hand, I would verify in a heartbeat.Delete
I wouldn't be surprised if it was Moncrieff. She seems like a decent person, but she's a new professor and doesn't know how to teach, She just likes to ramble on.Delete
No, no, I don't think Prof. Moncrieff had begun teaching at that point. Btw, I had her for a small seminar 3L year, and I thought she was great in that setting. I assumed that I had trouble following her because she demanded a much deeper level of engagement and understanding than other professors did, which works if you have a small group. It would be difficult to do that with a larger class.Delete
I had a particularly bad experience with my LRW prof first year who I was told was notorious for this same behavior (basically, boxing you into your grade based on first impression). The only way your grade moved is if you wasted an inordinate amount of time (that most 1L's do not have) waiting in line to see him in office hours only to be given incredibly delphic answers to questions that should have been addressed in class. And lest you believe this is merely sour grapes on my part, I had two close friends at the top of the class who later TA'd for him. One of them quit in outrage when she was basically ordered to fail a student because the prof didn't like him. Another friend of mine, who got an A with the same prof as a 1L would later tell me, as a 3L TA of his, "The man is just an awful teacher. I had neve realized it until now."
LRW grades are the height of arbitrariness and silliness. You could take the same brief to six different profs and I'm convinced they would give it anywhere between an A and a B-.Delete
I got out one of my 1L graded briefs recently. I got a B+, but the comments/criticism are nonsensical, confusing, inconsistent, and irrelevant. The person who got the highest grade in that class went on to write for one of our journals, so I looked up their pub'd article and it is dreadful, poorly organized, poor grammar, and simply not the work of someone who CALI'd legal writing.
At the time I suspected grades slanted depending on who went and slobbed on the professor during office hours, and who he felt were at his level of writing ability and were too good for his prestigious-biglaw-washout help. After reading that and based on some past 3L-at-bar conversations with classmates, I have no doubt that's what happened.
And of course, there's nothing you can do about this ridiculousness after 1L has ended. It's not like [Biglaw Firm] was going to take away the job offer that went to the high scorer of a rigged game.
Maybe the Fordham "law professor" was trying to score some points, so that he could be named as "best professor" by the students.ReplyDelete
Off point for this discussion, but this article in today's NY Post puts average pay for all workers in NY City at $61,000 and for the NY area at $68,000. Puts into perspective how much students who go to law school and make $35,000 to $50,000 or less in New York are scammed. The link is below:ReplyDelete
What’s your view of exam word limits? A friend who graduated from a mid-T1 school a couple of years ago with an overall 3.7 GPA (top 5 percent of class) received one C+ in three years for writing a few too many words during a first semester 1L exam. At the time, there were some vague references to word limits, but nothing was written down and certainly the instructions on the day of the exam said nothing about any limits. Nonetheless, the prof counted words (or had his computer do it) and stopped reading once the magic number was hit. My friend appealed – all the way to the Dean – to no avail. Overall, she did fine – honors, judicial clerkship, good position with mid-sized firm in a big city. But the issue still nags.
Two separate issues here: Word limits and proper notice of them. Obviously any plausible defense of the former requires the latter.Delete
I'm confused. "Your friend" only wrote a few too many words but the professor stopped reading at the limit and cutting off those few extra words turned an A-worthy exam into a C+? Or was "your friend" actually counted down for exceeding the word limit (your question makes it sound like the former, which makes no sense)? If no one was aware of the word limit, it seems like many people would have been negatively affected, so landing a C+ would still mean a pretty poor performance although lack of notice is a problem, of course.Delete
You're really not going to include the guy that e-mailed everyone in the section the spreadsheet showing everyone's grades?ReplyDelete
And here's the link so it's on a nice pretty platter for you:Delete
Ouch. Wonder if Professor Richard Friedman is known by "Dick, for short".Delete
If he wasn't before, I think he will be now...
Also posted here:Delete
Administration tells students not to read the email.
Is there anything more useless than a Civil Procedure professor who has barely litigated?ReplyDelete
If any faculty position should be reserved for a 20-year lawyer transitioning to academia, it should be the Civ Pro slot.
Ridiculous. A practicing attorney hasn't read Pennoyer v. Neff in ages, and it's essential to the sound study of law and "thinking like a lawyer."Delete
(Seriously, it's only slightly less useless than an evidence teacher who's never tried a case [mine hadn't])
7:42 -- Fordham Law School's dean is a civil procedure teacher who never practiced law.ReplyDelete
@7:22 am--I too am astounded at how low the pay is for many lawyer jobs in NYC. It's NYC for God's sake, one of the most expensive cities in the world, and lots of lawyer jobs pay 30-50K per year. Even the Manhattan DA starts new JDs at 60K per year. How the hell do you live on that in NYC unless your family/spouse supports you, or you are a trust fund baby?ReplyDelete
It's very doable if you commute in.Delete
Yes, if you commute in from Des Moines.Delete
$35,000 a year is less than one could make doing unskilled labor, such as house cleaning or even dishwashing in a restaurant in New York City. Of course, this is doable after 4 years of college, 3 years of law school and incurring whatever cost of living one must incur to live during those 7 years. What about tuition? Even if one assumes it was free for 7 years, there is the opportunity cost of not working.Delete
Furthermore, the unemployment rate in the economy as a whole is 16% counting those who are underemployed. For lawyers, it is well over 50%.
Top law grads who are unemployed in New York - Columbia, NYU - U.S. Attorney or Biglaw experience- they are a dime a dozen. Employers can hire these top grads for almost nothing on a temp basis and then discard them after a short time.
The ABA does not understand the laws of supply and demand. You flood the market with labor in the legal profession, and most are unemployed. Many of those who are employed earn less than the average wage for all workers in the area. You can actually get lawyers to pay an employer $50,000 a year for the experience of working, the legal job market is so bad.
How about a few posts about the unhealthy relationship between the ABA and law schools, and also about the nonexistent relationship between the ABA and practitioners who do not work for Sullivan and Cromwell.
8:26 - I don't see how you could possibly say that. Where should they be commuting from? I am sure that cab drivers make more than this, with no education at all.Delete
It's doable from a lot of places in NJ.Delete
Care to name a few? I am sure there are readers of this blog who need to move to urban areas and could use some good places to live that are cheap and close to the city.Delete
A lot of New Jersey is a two train zone or bus only zone. With the bus, you literally sit for two hours each way in traffic crossing the bridge or tunnel. In a two train zone, you wait for 20 minutes or more for a train to take you from the first train, which you probably had to take a subway or bus to. And then you need to get home from the second train.Delete
None of this makes for a healthy life style. You are sitting 14 or 15 hours a day to make it to work. No possibility of exercise here, because there is no time if you are going to work for the typical 8 hour workday in New York City with an hour in the middle added in for lunch hour, whether or not you take lunch. These are often 4 hour commutes, no mistaking.
I just took the train to Newark from the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Took me 2 hours to get there by the tubes, which is akin to a subway. I guess I could have taken New Jersey transit, from Penn Station, but that is more money. If you commute every day, you need an expensive monthly ticket. The train to Newark from NY Penn Station is $139 a month - a lot to pay if you make $35,000 a year. This is the link:Delete
This will be even worse for lawyers who dont work a typical 8 hour day and don't have an hour for lunch.Delete
So you can live and work near New York for $35,000 if you live within a 2 hour commute.
Would anyone go to law school for this outcome?
You are all falling for one obvious fallacy -- that there is no affordable housing near the city. There is plenty of affordable housing in NYC -- after all, 20% of its residents are below the poverty line.Delete
The issue is not that there is no affordable housing available, the issue is that you CHOOSE not to live the affordable housing available (with good reason!). If you want to live cheaply in the city you can.
However I will echo the above poster:
"Would anyone go to law school for this outcome?"
You could commute from Philadelphia, I guess is what he's saying. You'd have to live in south philly or something to make it affordable, so that would add to the commute. But you could be in the city in under 3 hours each way, probably! Maybe 4 if you take Amtrak. Stop whining!Delete
True, someone making 35K in NYC would qualify for government housing assistance. Then they could live in a lovely "affordable" housing project in Coney Island. (Right on the beach!)Delete
Your assertion that there is plenty of affordable housing in NYC because 20 percent of its residents live below the poverty line is so illogical that I don't even know how to respond. You realize that people living below the poverty line get subsidized housing, and even with that, they generally pay 50 percent or more of their income in rent, right? I don't know why I'm even trying...
The poverty line is closer to $12,000 these hypothetical NYC lawyers making $35,000 are nearly 300% above the poverty line! (sure they have the loan equivalent of a small house, but IBR takes care of that right?)Delete
Besides that, thousands of people below the poverty line in NYC somehow manage to live another day with a roof over their heads, why can't a law grad?
I think people (including myself) find this idea repulsive because it gives up any pretense of actually being in the middle class. Just don't argue it cannot be done.
@January 30, 2013 at 11:53 AMDelete
There is affordable housing in NYC, if you are ok with the cardboard variety.
To be honest, I don't think anyone should be forced by poverty to live in the degradation and dangerous conditions of public housing in New York.Delete
This should be a law school ad: Go to law school, and you too can live off of the public dole!Delete
Live ON the public dole.Delete
LawProf, you should name the two incompetent professors discussed in this post. They don't deserve to have their "privacy" protected.ReplyDelete
I work in law school academic support. I can tell you that while the really egregious abuses discussed here are not common, the overall lack of standards and "who gives a shit about teaching/students" attitude is EXTREMELY pervasive among tenured faculty. Right now, I am meeting with multiple 1L students per day with questions about their low grades in the first semester. In many cases, they correctly point out the utter lack of standards in grading.ReplyDelete
It's also heartbreaking to hear them doing the increasingly impossible scholarship math. I actually had a student last week talk about how all they needed to do in the spring was get [grades that about 2% of the student body gets at my school] to keep that scholarship.
And do you tell them that it was not going to happen and they should drop out? You aren't helping kids with academic support unless you advise them of their best course of action.Delete
Though I guess if this year is paid for, they might as well finish, but drop out if they lose the scholarship.
I think a huge area for reform is the complete elimination of all stipulations other than good standing. It is really outrageous that schools can continue with this bait and switch, knowing full-well, and planning on a group of students losing their scholarships.
8:35 -- The link (to the Fordham Law Record) names the Fordham professor -- Robert Kaczorowski.ReplyDelete
Law school could be thought of as a tournament where a few students (top 10%) win and everyone else loses. So the reaction to incompetent professors is like incompetent referees. No one really cares whether they are taught anything useful, but rather just that the process is somewhat "fair."ReplyDelete
It is probably worth sitting back and thinking about how ridiculous this whole system is. Imagine if leading tech companies hired like top law firms. In order to get a job at Google, you would need to have top grades from a leading school. Did you invent something or have something to offer Google but didn't go to a top school and get top grades? Forget about working there. Your whole career trajectory is dependent on one year's grades in computer science.
That's probably close to the way that it is in high-tech companies. Resumes from Directional State U will never be read.Delete
This isn't exactly true. Google has acquired many start-ups that had great ideas and products. They are looking for results in this case, not where you went to school.Delete
ah,nevermind, I misread the quote. It would be ridiculous for a company to work on this system.Delete
Law uses grades. I'm not sure why this is ridiculous, what would you suggest be used instead? Perhaps the grading on the forced curve is ridiculous.
If it really mattered to a law firm if they had the best lawyers (it doesn't), then they would hire the best lawyers. You wouldn't work for top firms straight out of school - you would have to have excellent experience to get those jobs.Delete
DJM wrote something like that.Delete
It's not really the same though is it now?Delete
This crisis will not end until the funding of law schools and the cost of attending law schools reflect economic reality.ReplyDelete
Federal funding plus PAYE mean that law schools are funded with monopoly money, backed by taxpayers.
I have yet to find even a semi-coherent defense of the law school funding situation. Even some official law school BS like underrepresented minorities, or financial crisis disrupting capital markets would be nice. Law schools, this is a challenge to you. Go on record for why the current federal funding scam/PAYE system should continue.
So the Obama administration is now part of the scam?Delete
Every administration since Truman has been part of the scam. But things really kicked into high gear with Bush Jr and Obama.Delete
Not so. Back when the GI Bill was passed, a college degree would actually take you places.
During the last year of the Truman administration, tuition at my law school was apparently $450 per year - and that was for out-of-state students.
Back then a degree was a mark of quality because higher ed had standards. Far more people flunked out back then.
@ 8:41 amReplyDelete
I imagine that most of the students are well prepared and probably did well on the exams. But the curve requires a higher degree of differentiation than the variability of student performance on exams. At any level, standards will be somewhat arbitrary under such a scenario.
Back when I was in law school (as an older student), I remember my much younger classmates saying things like "oh, those professors ... they are so smart, they can get a job at a big firm making $400,000."ReplyDelete
My response: "why don't they?" lol
Some do. Quite a few professors work for law firms these days, making good money on the side rather than pour their energies into teaching and school service. They know exactly the minimum output required by their schools and can use school resources while they bill out at extremely high profit margins.Delete
Yes, and they get free parking for their unicorns too!Delete
On the side? That's only because their day job doesn't require work, or even presence. I could make a lot of money too if I got one salary for doing nothing and had other work "on the side".Delete
Why don't they?Delete
One reason is the ideological lean of most law profs versus the real source of most profitable law firm practice: repesenting big finance, big pharma, big media and big oil.
There was a contracts professor at Duke - Daniel Chen - who was such a bad teacher that the administration had to offer an entire section P grades after they caught him grading exams completely, literally, arbitrarily. Unfortunately, at that point he had been teaching for two years and no one caught him after the first, so the 1L section that had him was SOL. But Chen had a PhD from MIT and a JD from Harvard with no practice experience, so it's all good. After getting fired, he's at some "think tank" somewhere.ReplyDelete
What's tuition at Duke again? Oh that's right, more than 50K a year. And BigLaw status depends entirely on 1L grades. Did the administration ever apologize or even acknowledge its massive fuck up? Of course not! Thanks, Duke!
* sorry, meant the first 1L section that had him was SOLDelete
Is it the same guy who's at Chicago?Delete
That's an old CV. He went from Chicago to Duke and thence to a think-tank in Zurich. There's a link to his current CV here.Delete
Oh, well thank goodness he finally got tenure.Delete
Because I loved the dead cat bounce comment from the other day, regarding the applicants who feel that other people fleeing law school is just a big opportunity for them:ReplyDelete
here are two people who have applied to USC from TLS:
Just submitted my app. USC is one of my reach schools. Hopefully a drop to 166 median can allow someone like me at a 165 to sneak right in.
Good luck to all those who are still waiting and congrats to those who have been accepted.
I'm hoping as well, but for a little different reason. Hoping my 167 will allow me to get in, even with my terrible GPA.
And this lovely one from the applicant thread at American (Someone had posted telling them not to assume they would work hard and be at the top of their class):Delete
Seriously guys, save your lectures for a forum where we actually ask for your opinion. Right now, all I want to know is if anyone has gotten updates on their status today.
If we wanted your 2 cents on why we shouldn't go to this school, we'd go to one of the million other discussions where we can read post after post on why we shouldn't go here.
Yet, still, they are applying.
Long time reader, first time poster. Thanks LP and others for encouraging me to back out of Law School. I was the classic "don't know what to do with my liberal arts degree" case, and you've all saved me a lot of headache.ReplyDelete
Although, I post for a different reason today. Every prediction on here has come true.
For the fun of it, I changed my status on LSAC to indicate that I would be applying for schools this year, and I've received a flood of emails from schools "extending their deadlines." Or claiming they don't have deadlines. Or that they don't have rolling admissions, so I can still get my app. in.
Also, hilariously, University of Chicago has contacted me a few times about applying. (I'm 165, 3.8 from TTT undergrad). I lol'd and thought about applying requesting full scholly, no stips, and a response within 24 hours.
Thought it might be a smidgen of justice (revenge) for all my po' liberal arts-quarter-million-in-debt angels that saved me from their cursed fate.
Thanks again LP and to all of you who were scammed. Be happy you saved at least one. (And, judging by the app. cycle, a great many more).
Even if you got Chicago for free, there is a question of what you would be doing several years down the road - working or unemployed looking for a job.Delete
With the huge oversupply of lawyers, even Chicago will not produce a long term full time job as a lawyer for most people. I see it in NY with Columbia and NYU. Many grads are unemployed, solos or counsel to a firm where there is no office and no real job. Don't do it unless you have some compelling reason to believe you will outshine your classmates at Chicago and go on to greatness in the legal profession.
I even see it with Harvard and Yale. Some of my colleagues lost jobs in the recession and did not recover. This has become a very difficult profession with poor prospects for long term full time employment as a lawyer for most people.Delete
My mom's friend is a solo who graduated from Yale Law. I wish that I connected the dots....Delete
12:15pm here. The email was merely meant to kick the schools while they're down. Me, a lowly 165, dictating terms to U Chi. I would be embarrassed for them if they actually let me in. After all, "any club that would have me for a member..."Delete
But I hear you guys. I wouldn't go at this point for anything.
Didn't University of Chicago have that awful professor that complained that he didn't really have enough money that if the Obama Administration raised his taxes, he and his Medical doctor wife would have to fire the nanny, the groundskeeper, and maybe the maid?Delete
Yup, Todd Henderson. He also thinks law school should be called "leader school."Delete
@January 30, 2013 at 4:49 PMDelete
Actually Endless Money Pit would be more appropriate.
"Law school teaches one how to solve problems in a rigorous manner, whether it is how to interpret a statute or how to help ski resorts sell tickets using the Internet, as one of my students is doing. While getting an MBA is one way to become a successful business executive, the plethora of law grads running top companies is evidence that we are training leaders, not just lawyers. Perhaps "leader school" would be a better moniker."Delete
The really amazing thing is that guys like this don't realise/won't admit that:
1) Most students already know how to solve problems before they come to law school. The whole point of exams like the LSAT is that they're supposed to eliminate those who are no good at problem-solving.
2) Issue-spotting (i.e., what's taught and tested by law school) is not the same as problem-solving.
3) The key skill required for leadership is not problem-solving. It's resource-allocation and people-handling, and, again, these are things people either are or aren't capable of doing before they get to law school and which law school doesn't/can't teach them.
4) Three years experience in any given field of business outside the law is more valuable for getting a job in that field of business that three years in law school.
5) Many lawyers would make terrible leaders - not least because their profession requires them to indulge in CYA to a degreee that would be poisonous elsewhere in business.
6) Law students don't pay 100-200K and spend three years to get a debatable boost in attractiveness to employers outside the legal industry.
Something like this happened when I was at Temple law 10 years ago. A professor copied test questions right out of the Examples & Explanations study guide. If memory serves, I think the school gave the students the option to have a "pass" grade if they didn't like their actual letter grade.ReplyDelete
In another class, this other (crazy) professor actually made references in the exam itself to example questions in the text book. So, it said something like "go to page 35, and do question 4." Basically, if you had practiced by looking at said question, you had an advantage.
These examples basically prove that the "one test at the end of the semester" is basically just there because professors are lazy.
The second style of question ("go to page 35...") seems perfectly legitimate to me, if the professor assigned p.35 to the class during the course of the semester. I have done this. It does reward students who practiced by going through the problems in the reading - but why shouldn't they be rewarded? (And if a student mastered the idea without reviewing p.35, they will still be able to answer the question.)Delete
This is different than using questions from old exams or published books that have not been assigned, so that whether a student has access to it and/or has looked at it is a matter of fortuity.
I've also seen 'go to your note for Oct 14, and do the worked problem, with the following substitutions....' used in a class (for one question, not the whole exam).Delete
I started taking really, really good notes that semester.
"The second style of question ("go to page 35...") seems perfectly legitimate to me, if the professor assigned p.35 to the class during the course of the semester. I have done this. It does reward students who practiced by going through the problems in the reading - but why shouldn't they be rewarded?"Delete
No. Exams are supposed to be a proxy for how people will use their knowledge in unexpected circumstances occuring within a given area of law, not a situation in which people re-gurgitate answers they've already given. Simply awarding students for having a full set of notes (what if I lost the notes in question?) just rewards people for something other than actually knowing their stuff.
FOARP + 1.Delete
My prof wrote a commercial outline for Civ Pro that had sample essay questions and answers. He then used one of those essays, word for word, on a Fed. Jurisdiction final exam.ReplyDelete
AnonymousJanuary 30, 2013 at 10:32 AMReplyDelete
"This isn't exactly true. Google has acquired many start-ups that had great ideas and products. They are looking for results in this case, not where you went to school."
That would be the equivalent of making a lateral move (from a small law firm to a megafirm) after having won some seriously hot or critical cases. Which I imagine does happen in law, but not much.
(I'm assuming that the 'acquired by a hot firm for lots of case' rate for start-ups is something like 1% or less)Delete
I can't believe that one of the options offered by Fordham was a make-up exam. The professor doesn't do his job so the students should undergo the stress and time-waste of a make-up?ReplyDelete
I agree that students in this type of situation should get a refund of their tuition for that course. If this was one quarter of the students' courseload, refund one quarter of the tuition. That, in turn, would make sure that schools didn't allow professors to act this way--and that schools would act quickly to penalize professors who did.
I wouldn't put up with this sort of defective performance from any service organization or company--let alone one purporting to educate students for a profession. Why are't students entitled to a refund in light of such defects?
"I wouldn't put up with this sort of defective performance from any service organization or company"Delete
Hey there, Mitt - so what you're saying is, "I like to be able to fire people"?
Law students are sophisticated consumers. They were either aware, or should have been aware that when they registered for this professor's course, this outcome was possible or probable.ReplyDelete
The fact that they are in law school disproves your hypothesis that they are sophisticated consumers.Delete
Although I might be tempted to concur with your response, several of our finest members of the judiciary have opined that law students are sophisticated consumers.Delete
Therefore, anything unfortunate that befalls them is totally their fault. The students should have been aware that a professor may recycle questions from a colleague's exam. The students should obviously have known that if you are paying a professor a six -figure salary to work 10 hours per week, 32 weeks per year, there is no way in the world such a professor could possibly endeavor to actually make up his or her own original exam. Maybe if you paid the professor a seven figure salary, like a partner a large law firm is paid, the professor would be expected to create an original exam. In other words the students are UP THE CREEK WITHOUT A PADDLE!
Another horror story on point: we had a teacher who was an adjunct--something "Jones"--who lifted the ENTIRE final (which was the only exam/grade) from a "Questions and Answers" book. I mean word for word, multiple choice AND essay. This was asinine because there was an incredible disconnect between the material we read in class and the material in the exam. But everyone was clued off to this by the way he described the test questions. So my belief is that the majority of people got EVERY question on the exam correct (not hard to memorize the answers to 50 MC choice exams when you know exactly which ones are on the exam). Pretty funny. I wonder what if the asshole thought he was just that good of a teacher.ReplyDelete
Couple other points: (1) he was an adjunct who was apparently pretty successful in private practice; so this maybe raises a question of whether tenure is a/the problem with regards to slacking off. (2) He explicitly stated that teaching this class was "his way of giving back." LOL. The thing is, I have no doubt he really believed this--adjuncts get paid shit, so he definitely was not in it for the money. Just another example of the cluelessness of admins/profs.
The end result for classmates and I: money out of my pocket, about $3500 in tuition, plus books; time wasted, a lot; non-useful things temporarily learned, 50; useful information assimilated, none. THIS IS EVERYWHERE.
I had a prof who included several questions on an exam from a commercial source like "Questions and Answers" (I can't recall the name of the text). A few classmates got miffed. Some complained. It went nowhere. First year, too. It was when my eyes began opening to what was going on around me.Delete
As a Fordham 1L, I am very upset by this thoughtless post. Professor Kaczorowski is one of the best professors I have ever had. What makes him so great is that he integrates his research into his teaching making it fresh and exciting. He didn't have time to craft a new exam because he was busting his but to prepare for class, keep up with the lastest developments in Con Law and do his cutting edge research.ReplyDelete
I and many of my classmates have changed our career plans as a result of Prof. K's great teaching. Many of us were only in it for the money and were going to get rich working at a big law firm. But now we've decided to accept the far lower salaries offered federal judges (as John Roberts would be the first to tell you) so that we can enjoy the thrill of applying constitutional law.
Thank for Prof K. and for IBR as well, which will enable us to afford to be federal judges, without IBR we'd have to work at BigLaw just to pay off our loans.
This is a joke, right?Delete
^^^^^ This. LOL. Be sure to edit and add \\sarcarsm offDelete
Good article here.ReplyDelete
That article on the front page of the New York Times tomorrow = law schools are in big trouble.Delete
I feel that I have been waiting for this article for a long time. It doesn't mention the scam that was run for years and transparency as the major factor in applications dropping; and they are wrong, wrong, wrong about demand existing and no oversupply for individual or biglaw ( the exact opposite of what the bankers to the law firms said in their recent report- demand is down and overcapacity is the problem)...Delete
Still, I feel as if this train is starting to really pick up steam.
Hot damn- we are down to 1970s levels, when their were fewer schools.
All I can say is good work fighting the scam to Lawprof, Tamagana and LST. Was it only two years ago that schools were simply ignoring LSTs requests?
Just read the article after arriving at the office this morning. I agree with 9:22. I'm glad it is getting front page coverage, but I am still disappointed with the content and depth after the first few paragraphs.Delete
Law school grading is just plain ridiculous. For me it was a real roller coaster ride. I would get an A in one class and a C in the next. It all averaged out to an average, but there was no rhyme or reason to it.ReplyDelete
Legal employers really do place too much emphasis on grades. But this emphasis was more of a CYA measure than anything else. No one is going to blame the recruiter who hires from the top of the class if the new associate turns out to be a real clown. The firm can always fire him.
But anyone who thinks there is any real correlation between law school grades and being a good lawyer is just kidding himself.
Lawmaker: Allow online law school grads to take Az bar examReplyDelete
Posted Jan 26, 2013, 5:29 pm
Cronkite News Service
Sharon Garshak of Gilbert always dreamed of going to law school, but her job with an aerospace company and having to support herself made that impossible until she found Kaplan University's online Concord Law School.
"Despite working full-time at a demanding job, I was able to go to law school and learn the legal principles really well," she said.
After graduating in 2011, she passed the California bar exam. But she can't practice in Arizona because the state only allows graduates of law schools accredited by the American Bar Association – a list that includes no online law schools – to sit for the bar exam.
"I don't intend on moving to California," she said. "But without being able to take the Arizona bar, I won't be able to help people."
A state lawmaker wants to change that.
Rep. John Allen, R-Scottsdale, has introduced a bill that would allow graduates of online law schools to take the bar exam and become attorneys.
Wonder how much he gets in contributions from private educational interests like kaplan.Delete
There is no reason for this legislation.
Where do these articles find all these people with good jobs who "dream" of becoming lawyers? The media and their glamorization of law have a lot to answer for.Delete
I wonder sometimes if this is a good idea. Maybe the accredited law school requirement is a bunch of baloney? I certainly wasn't much impressed with what passed for a "legal educator" at my accredited school.Delete
7:08 PM -- Which of Professor K's colleagues wrote this "anonymous" post?ReplyDelete
When I was in law school, I took a two semester six credit Torts class with an adjunct professor whose specialty was Native American law. As they had recently expanded the number of Torts classes, the school found itself a professor short and ordered this very prestigious professional to teach a One L class in probably the second most important and heavily influential class.ReplyDelete
She had never practiced anything remotely related to Torts, she had never taught Torts before. She had LESS experience with Torts than I had when I graduated law school.
Within three weeks, a coterie of gunners had gone to the Dean of academics to complain. The class was monitored for two weeks and nothing happened. Fortuitously, I stopped paying attention within four weeks and simply read the casebook and taught myself from there. No idea how I managed to get one of the handful of As handed out in that class, but then again, no one had any idea how they were going to score in that class anyhow. The pair of As I scored in that class certainly don't reflect any sort of competence.
What is terrifying is that the law school took seven or eight grand from each student for that class for two semesters and did so with a reckless disregard for the actual education of its students considering the lack of qualifications this woman had. It got so ugly by the end of the first semester, I actually felt bad for the woman. But when she rolled back into class in the second semester, there was no sympathy left and only disgust.