Sunday, August 20, 2017

Will Valparaiso be the next to close?

Valparaiso, which unaccountably prefers the ugly name Valpo, will have only 28 students in this year's entering class. As recently as four years ago, it had 208.

The good news, from the Valponian scamsters' perspective, is that the quality of the class has gone up significantly: "Students just starting their legal studies this semester have a median LSAT of 151 and a median GPA of 3.23." Last year's median score was 147, so Valpo has risen from the 33d percentile to the 48th. It's still drawing the bulk of its class from the bottom half of people taking the LSAT.

Scam-dean Andrea Lyon "feel[s] optimistic about the school", which appears to have changed its approach to admissions in response to last year's censure from the ABA. She could hardly be expected to say anything else. But the university's administration cannot feel optimistic about a micro-sized toilet school that, after the closure of Indiana Tech, has earned a reputation as the biggest laughing-stock in the region.

With only 28 new students, the law school must be draining money from the university, even while it tarnishes the university's image. If the new students all paid full fare (primarily with federally guaranteed student loans), they would bring in scarcely a million dollars. But Valpo must have had to slash its fancy tuition in order to attract students of substantially higher (albeit still dreadful) quality. Who with a score above 150 would pay full price at risible sixth-tier Valpo, slapped last year with a censure and exposed in The New York Times for its graduates' failure to find proper jobs, when any number of fifth-tier institutions and even some fourth-tier institutions would offer a discount?

Valpo, therefore, is beginning to look like Indiana Tech redux. It cannot have taken in much money from the entering class, nor is it likely to see meaningful growth in the coming years. The parent university will not want to go on subsidizing the failed law school forever. I estimate that Valpo will announce its closure within a year or two.

But Valpo is only one toilet among many. To see just how far legal "education" in the US has fallen, consider a hypothetical requirement that at least three-quarters of the class at each ABA-accredited law school score in the top half on the LSAT. Many people might deem that a modest requirement for access to an influential profession that claims to uphold a standard of excellence. It would entail a minimum LSAT score of 152 at the 25th percentile for each school's entering class. How many schools today fall short of that level? Wait for it: 107. That's the majority of ABA-accredited law schools.

In less than a year we have seen three law schools close. Valpo may well be next, although Appalachian, Florida Coastal, Arizona Summit, and various others seem to be competing for that honor. It will be interesting to see how far the wave of closures progresses. I don't think that it will swallow up 107 law schools, although that would be a good start.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Charlotte School of Law has quietly closed

UPDATE: The Charlotte School of Law has indeed closed down, without so much as an announcement. See the comments for details.


The Charlotte School of Law, known as Harlotte by those who call a spade a spade, may have followed Indiana Tech and Whittier into educational-scam hell.

Now the ABA has rejected Harlotte's "teach-out" plan for enabling the remaining students to finish their Mickey Mouse degrees while the toilet school shuts up shop. In addition, Harlotte has lost its license from the state of North Carolina. By Harlotte's own admission, it is not eligible to ride the federal student-loan gravy train. A visit to www.charlottelaw.edu results in a logo and "Website Unavailable".

To their credit, most of Harlotte's lemmings had the damn sense not to come back for more abuse from the scamsters who screwed them last winter. A hundred or so, however, remained loyal to their InfiLaw overlords. Some people will never learn.

But what can they do, now that their precious toilet school seems to have shut up shop? Lee Robinson, head of the alumni association (yes, there actually is an alumni association), suggests that "these students’ only option is to transfer to a different school, and in the process, likely lose thousands of dollars and years of their lives". Transferring in the middle of August, just a couple of weeks before they had expected to start classes at Harlotte, would not be easy: even if another school took them at this late date (probably several dozen would), they would have to move in a great hurry and suffer substantial financial and other losses. That's unrealistic for many people, and undesirable for all.

Are the richly paid bureaucrats of Harlotte rushing to the students' aid? Probably not, since the very Web site has been taken down. Back in January, Harlotte locked the students out of the administrative offices and stopped answering the telephone. I shouldn't expect courtesies to the faithful now that the operating license is gone and even the ABA is denying its rubber stamp of approval. Maybe the other two outlets of the InfiLaw chain will reach out to the stranded students and, more importantly, the proceeds of their student loans. But Harlotte itself appears to be dead.

Let that be a lesson to other lemmings. You're just a dollar sign to the law-school scamsters. That's doubly true of unabashedly commercial ventures such as InfiLaw.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Charlotte School of Law misses deadline for license

Imagine that you were ass enough to enroll at Charlotte School of Law ("Harlotte") within the past two years. Imagine further that you doubled down on your bad bet by staying at Harlotte even after the school screwed you over in December and January and also lost the right to enroll a new class of lemmings. Two or three weeks from the start of classes, Harlotte's license from the state of North Carolina remained in doubt. To get the license renewed, Harlotte had to present by August 10 a feasible plan for shepherding its remaining students through to graduation. Harlotte all along has been claiming to have the best interests of its students at heart. Question: Did Harlotte meet the deadline?

Answer: Of course not.

Harlotte is now seeking an extension of time in order to produce its plan. It proposes to have the remaining lemmings transfer to one of the other two InfiLaw scam schools—in Florida and Arizona. For that it needs extra time and also access to millions of dollars from federally guaranteed student loans. Those funds, incidentally, are predicated upon reinstatement of Harlotte's license to operate in North Carolina.

So here you are, lemming, not knowing whether you will be attending classes in Charlotte a couple of weeks from now, but knowing that your toilet school intends to have you pull up stakes in a hurry and move to a distant state in order to remain within the InfiLaw chain of scam-schools. What do you do now?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The ABA again Demonstrates Whose Side it is Really On



And the ABA wonders why membership among young attorneys is down...

 
Per TFL, TaxProf, and others:
 
 
At a meeting in June,...the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar approved a proposal that begins a process, as Jerry puts it, “to completely eviscerate the steps [the Section] approved in 2015 to assure greater transparency in reporting law-school-funded positions,” and to undo the disclosure of other potentially valuable and important employment-outcome information...:
  1. [T]he proposal apparently seeks to eliminate disclosure of the number of students graduating from a law school each year...thus making it difficult or impossible to determine what percentage of the graduating class got what kind of job, or any job at all. This is an incredibly easy number to determine and disclose...[and] it has been disclosed for decades.
  2. The proposal also makes it more difficult to determine how many postgraduate positions a law school itself has funded, and makes it impossible to differentiate any school-funded position that is long-term, full-time and pays more than $40,000 annually in its first year from any other LTFT Bar-Passage Required or JD-Advantaged job.
  3. In the guise of “simplification,” the proposal seeks to eliminate a number of different employment outcome categories that have been reported for years and in some cases decades, namely:
                    Collapsing [non-JD required jobs]...into a single category entitled “Employment Other”;
                    Collapsing five size-based categories of private firms into...“Firm 10-100” and“Firm 100-500”;    
                    Collapsing ["other"]...into a single category entitled “Unemployed or Status Unknown”; and
                    Collapsing [clerkships] into a single category.
 
The process by which these proposals were adopted was utterly unworthy of any responsible system of representative policy-making.  According to Prof. Organ, the justifications offered for these changes were factually inaccurate in some instances, and apparently many of the changes were not even discussed before being voted on.  Even more disturbingly, the proposal was offered to the Council just two days before its meeting, with no public notice or opportunity for comment. 
 
 
While this shocks absolutely no-one among those of the cynical, wizened readership of this and other scamblogs, who are often the debt-ridden products of the above-referenced, bait-and-switch system, it is nice to hear some LawProfs actually call this out for what it is.  Given how some LawProfs have virtually made a side-career of dismissing and even mocking the plight of the loan conduits students and alumni from whom they have benefited, one would think that the entire academy was in on the whole sick joke of it all, and couldn't possibly care less so long as the checks clear.
 
Granted, that does describe the vast majority of the academy, but hey, at least it's not 100%.
 
Potential 1Ls, this is your national accreditation body playing hide the ball.  These are the law schools who are suffering from low enrollment, complicity wanting the ABA to obscure the truth.  These are the "ethicists" and "justice-seekers" who are desperate for you, the "sophisticated consumer," to sign on the line that is dotted such that the gravy-train keeps on rolling.  They do not want you to know the truth, because, well, the truth hurts, and that impacts them adversely.  While I applaud those who are willing to speak up, as that no doubt subjects one to some slings and arrows from one's so-called compatriots, notice the deafening, resounding silence from all the other interested parties.
 
What meaningful and permissible purpose is there for the ABA to recommend a course AWAY from transparency?  How can this possibly help you, as the future student?  Consider this before taking the plunge.  For most of you, that means walking away, now.  For those who choose to remain, know what game you are getting yourself involved in, eyes wide open, and make sure you have ample backing if you do.  
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Harrison Barnes, John Cleese, and the Million-Dollar Dead Parrot



I was skeptical when I first perused Harrison Barnes’s article on lawcrossing.com: Twelve Sexy Things You Can Do With A Law Degree That (1) May Make You Famous And (2) Do Not Require Practicing Law,” which was illustrated by the colorful and informative chart republished above.  

But I have to admit that its author, Harrison Barnes, J.D., has attained a certain credibility by virtue of the impressive accomplishments listed in the bio he posted on the website of the legal recruitment firm he runs, BCG Attorney Search. Barnes has taught professional responsibility at soon-to-be-defunct Whittier Law School, and truly Whittier needed all the ethics it could get. Barnes has spoken at Tony Robbins motivational events, though hopefully not the one involving the recent ill-fated fire-walk. And Barnes’s remarkable articles have been utilized in classroom instruction by legal academia’s most fatuous self-promoting windbag, and therefore most influential person, Indiana Law Prof. William Henderson. 

True, you can’t please everybody, and Above the Law was notably unimpressed by what it characterized as Barnes’s self-destructive ranting, in particular Barnes’s recent gem in which he gave fair warning to naive young esquires that law firm recruiters tend to be attractive but “ditzy” husband-hunting gold-diggers. 

On his firm’s website, Barnes states that he “wants you to be everything that you are capable of being.” He states that he wants to “awaken[ ] the power that is within you so that the good and power inside of you can come out and make you everything you were meant to be.”  

In my case, Mr. Barnes has succeeded. He has taught me a little factoid that I am actually pleased to know-- that Monty Python’s John Cleese has a law degree. And this factoid has motivated and empowered me to be everything I am capable of being. You see, like John Cleese, I have a law degree. Therefore, like John Cleese, I can write a dead parrot sketch.   

_______________________________

Palin: Okay, guv’, it’s a fair cop, the parrot I sold you is stone dead. But have you considered all the sexy things you can do with a dead parrot? 

Cleese: I don’t bleeding want to have sex with a dead parrot, what do you take me for? 

Palin: I said sexy things, not sex. Look mate, when you have a dead parrot by your side, you can squawk goodbye to your humdrum vocation and prepare for a life of sexy renown. You can write a novel or a screenplay or become a tv star or a real estate developer, and wouldn’t that be something to crow about? You might even get elected President of the United States. What I am saying is that this parrot’s flying days may be over, but sky’s the limit for its owner’s career.  

Cleese:  You make a tempting argument, my man, but I think I have spotted a fallacy in your logic. You are inferring causation from the order of events. See, it is possible, dare I say probable, that the act of obtaining a dead parrot has nothing whatsoever to do with the dead parrot owner’s subsequent non-ornithological achievements. Also, you may cite the odd success story, but why do so many people online claim to rue the day they came into custody of a putrefying Psittaciform?  

Palin: Do you want to listen to a bunch of digital malcontents or to scholarship?  Have a look at this then, penned by the Sage of Seat-on-Toilet University himself, Professor Michael Sycophant [slaps impressive-looking scholarly article onto the counter] “The Million Dollar Dead Parrot” and this [slaps down another scholarly article] “When is the Best Time to Acquire a Dead Parrot? As Soon As You Can!”

Professor Sycophant proves conclusively that the overwhelming majority of dead parrot owners receive a massive lifetime earnings premium. You don't even have to practice bird. As soon as people find out that you went to the trouble of procuring one of these captivating carcasses, they just can’t do enough for you. Which is why dead parrot owners get to do so many very sexy things. 

Cleese: Who is this Professor Michael Sycophant?

Palin: Well, actually, he is a dead parrot salesman. Highly reputable though. 

Cleese: And his scholarship is funded by?

Palin: Umm, by a pair of well-funded nonprofit organizations formed and controlled by a consortium of dead parrot retailers, to advance their interests.  Highly reputable though.

Chapman: I am sorry, this pet store has gotten too silly.

Palin: Pet store? This isn’t a pet store. This is law school career services. 


Saturday, July 22, 2017

LSAT scores by major

According to this chart by Robert Anderson of beach-bum toilet Pepperdine, law-school applicants who majored in mathematics, physics, biomedical engineering, classics, or linguistics on average score above 160 on the LSAT, whereas those in such illustrious fields as criminology, criminal justice, family relations and child development, social work, and elementary education score below 150.

The majors on the Cooleyite end of the range generally seem more closely connected to law than those that approach Harvard's territory. Selection bias may account for part of that effect: maybe the would-be mathematicians and classicists who decide to apply to law school are the crème de la crème, whereas just about every dipshit in "criminology" (which as a major is scarcely better than underwater basketweaving) decides "I's gonna be a loyer!" and brings down the average LSAT score. It's a safe bet, though, that criminology and such don't attract the brightest students. Only in recent years have I even heard of majoring in criminology.

In addition, those majors at the top produce only a tiny handful of applicants. The dumb masses in criminal justice and elementary education drag the average down, down, down.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Treasury of Idiotic Quotes by Law Professors, Vol. VI: "[S]eriously underprepared law students occupy a role as "other" just as students from vastly different cultures do." (CUNY Law Prof. Deborah Zalesne)

ABA Standard 501(b) states that "A law school shall not admit an applicant who does not appear capable of satisfactorily completing its program of legal education and being admitted to the bar." 

On the basis of LSAT scores alone, it should be glaringly obvious that most law schools are recruiting a significant and increasing contingent of law students whose presence violates Standard 501. However, law school admissions officers can always claim that, regardless of the general statistical correlation between low LSAT scores and bar exam disaster, they saw the requisite appearance of capability in each and every one of the particular weak-credentialed students they did admit. All appeared destined to beat the odds, glittering like juris diamonds in the very, very rough. 

Therefore, it is refreshing when a law professor (along with a law school academic support specialist)  admits that her classroom includes students who are so "seriously underprepared" and so lacking in "academic intelligence" and "cognitive skills" as to be beyond the reach of "traditional law school pedagogy." In other words, students who do not appear capable of satisfactorily completing a doctoral-level program of legal education and then passing the bar. Even if the law professor only make the admission in the context of trying to normalize the presence of unqualified law students via highly creative forms of obfuscation. 

Consider the following synopsis of a forthcoming conference presentation by CUNY Law Prof Deborah Zalesne and CUNY Law Director of Academic Support Programs David Nadvorney, entitled "Learning Outcomes, Cultural Competency, and the Underprepared Law Student as "Other."" (The conference itself is entitled "Teaching Cultural Competency and Other Professional Skills Suggested by ABA Standard 302" and will be held from July 7-8 at the University of Arkansas School of Law (Little Rock)).
"We believe a student’s academic intelligence is about more than simply cognitive skills; it’s akin to culture, including not only cognitive, but also affective and social skills, all of which contribute to a student’s level of success. Our workshop posits that for many faculty, seriously underprepared law students occupy a role as "other" just as students from vastly different cultures do. The workshop will emphasize the responsibility of the teacher to understand and bridge the gap that exists between students’ level of preparation and the goals of the course. In doing so, we will highlight the failure of traditional law school pedagogy to reach the underprepared student, and suggest a framework and materials for teaching the cognitive component of academic intelligence."
It would be problematic for law faculty to explicitly recommend dumbing down law school classes in order to reach "seriously underprepared law students" because, under ABA Standard 501, students in need of such remedial-skills spoonfeeding probably should not have been admitted in the first place. So Zalesne and Nadvorney make that recommendation implicitly via some very delicate wording and by misusing the fashionable concept of cultural competence teaching. That way, they can talk piously about the diligent efforts that law schools must make in order to satisfy ABA Standard 302 (learning outcomes) while conveniently overlooking the fact that poor learning outcomes are the foreseeable result of law school disregard for Standard 501 (standards for admissions).

Zalesne and Nadvorney’s novel little trick is to analogize, even equate, the needs and skills of law students who are "seriously underprepared" due to cognitive deficiency with the needs and skills of law students from "vastly different cultures."

By pretending that under-preparedness is simply another form of diversity, Zalesne and Nadvorney inadvertently recall the timeless statement by a right-wing U.S. senator from the 1960s named Hruska, who demanded opportunities for the marginalized Mediocre-American, including a Supreme Court seat, stating that "there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance?"

In case there is any sentient being who doesn't understand this distinction, membership in a cultural community, whether racial, ethnic, religious, or gendered, means belonging to a group with a distinctive history, values, norms, customs, and traditions. It makes sense for a law school to welcome students from "vastly different cultures" and try to provide them with whatever they reasonably need in terms of mentoring, counseling, accommodation, and protection against bigotry. By contrast, serious under-preparedness is a personal failing caused by lack of aptitude, poor training, laziness, or disinterest, and does not deserve outreach, but rather exclusion.  

Identity politics may be on the rise, but I do not anticipate a Seriously Underprepared community coalescing within law schools to protest the cruel pedagogical othering of being expected to read and analyze complicated material in the traditional manner. I do not anticipate inspirational chants of communal affirmation such as "Say it loud, I am seriously underprepared and proud!" or "We’re here, we’re seriously underprepared, get used to it!" Though, come to think of it, these would make fine law school mottos, given the horrifying decline in the quality of incoming law students over the past several years, and could even be adopted as formal ABA interpretations of Standards 302 and 501.