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October 11, 2013

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anon

Anyone considering applying should understand how badly this students do on the job market. Less than half of the schools grads (only 71 out of 162) got full time jobs as attorneys. If your goal as a law professor is to help students, this is clearly not the place. It is well known that law schools are turning out many more graduates than there jobs as attorneys. This school could do a real public service by shutting itself down.

ATLprof

Yes, the school charging $17,000 a year in tuition to Kentucky residents should shut down so that those same students can go to a for-profit school charging $40,000 a year in tuition. That will help those students out a bunch. Good plan.

NKU shutting its doors will not prevent those students from going to law school. It will take away a lower (though not low enough) priced option, leaving those students going to a much higher priced option. And leaving more room for other schools to raise their prices.

NKU shutting its doors would just cause a for-profit to hoover up those students or would cause a for-profit to decide to open a school in Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati.

The existence of law schools is not driving students to law schools. It's the reverse. It's the demand of law students that is driving the existence of law schools.

anon

ATLprof:
Exactly! Student demand for law school seats is increasing! And, luring students who should know better into paying for a law degree that has a 50% probability or better of not enabling them to practice law is a noble service, as these fools would simply pay more somewhere else, for an even less valuable degree!
Yes, indeed, all is well!
And, anyone who says otherwise must be demonized, in the name of good "ethics."

ATLprof

I did not say that student demand was increasing or even remaining constant. Dodging the argument by making up words and arguments I did not make is a sign of something...

Demand is decreasing, but it is still there, enough that for profit schools at the bottom on entrance qualifications can still make sizable profits.

"And, luring students who should know better into paying for a law degree that has a 50% probability or better of not enabling them to practice law is a noble service, as these fools would simply pay more somewhere else, for an even less valuable degree!"

Which is the better option? You advocated for students paying "more somewhere else, for an even less valuable degree" by arguing for getting rid of the lower price option. (And who said anything about "noble service"?)

"Yes, indeed, all is well!"

Again, I never said all is well. All is definitely not well - that I believe that is quite clear from my comments on this site.

"And, anyone who says otherwise must be demonized, in the name of good "ethics.""

This seems to imply that you have been 'demonized' in some way. I certainly didn't do it. All I did was criticize your suggestion at a solution to current problems as illogical, as something that would make the problem worse. Which is true.

(In fact, the only demonization that occurs in these interchanges is the bizarre demonization of law faculty that borders on the pathological in its irrationality.)

Look, if you want to argue that half the law schools in the country should be shut down, through some sort of incredible fiat, then you would at least be making an argument that would address some of the problems. Advocating for one low price school to shut down however does not make sense - it would make the problems worse.

SickOfAnon

Anon,

I have followed your comments on this blog and believe from what I've read that you are a law student or recent grad who believes himself to be the victim of the so-called law school scam. May I point out that your problem may not be that law school "scammed" you but that you are unable to write clearly? My edits (ones which any legal employer would be loathe to spend time making) are in caps below.

Anyone considering applying should understand how badly THESE students do on the job market. FEWER than half of the SCHOOL'S grads (only 71 out of 162) got FULL-TIME jobs as attorneys [WHEN? LAST YEAR? EVER? THIS STATISTIC COULD BE MISLEADING ABSENT MORE INFORMATION]. If your goal as a law professor is to help students, this is clearly [MOST LEGAL WRITERS AGREE THAT THE USE OF THE WORD "CLEARLY" DETRACTS FROM AN OTHERWISE PERSUASIVE MESSAGE] not the place. [THIS IS A LOGICAL FALLACY. PERHAPS THE SCHOOL IS HIRING BECAUSE IT WANTS TO OFFER STUDENTS MORE RESOURCES. PERHAPS ADDING TO THE FACULTY WILL INCREASE THE SCHOOL'S ABILITY TO HELP STUDENTS.] It is well known that law schools are turning out many more graduates than there ARE jobs as attorneys. [THIS SENTENCE WOULD MORE LOGICALLY FOLLOW THE SECOND SENTENCE.] This school could do a real public service by shutting itself down.

anon

Just a few quick notes:
1. The anon to whom ATL responds is not the same "anon" to whom SickofAnon responds. If you think you are "following" an anon you are just mistaken, and probably should rethink your emotional outburst.
2. ATL: your comment that "It's the demand of law students that is driving the existence of law schools" is questioned, reasonably. As has been demonstrated here, and on other sites I suspect you visit, and as you concede, demand is shrinking, especially for seats in poorly regarded law schools that can't place a majority of graduates in law-related employment.
You contend that affording a less expensive alternative to "for profit" law schools means a poorly regarded law school that can't place a majority of its graduates in law-related employment should remain.
("Yes, the school charging $17,000 a year in tuition to Kentucky residents should shut down so that those same students can go to a for-profit school charging $40,000 a year in tuition. That will help those students out a bunch. Good plan.")
I find this argument poorly reasoned and illogical. YOu seem to be saying that if the "problem" can't be solved, in its entirety, then a poor alternative law school education must be permitted to exist if it is cheaper.
Instead, the absence of the poor alternatives might improve the prospects for all.
I certainly don't know whether the school in question is worth preserving; I am basing my comment generally on the information provided about placement and reputation. WIth respect to the poorly rated law schools with which I am better informed, yes indeed ATL, perhaps there are some that should be closed.
Do you really believe that after a "boom" in opening new law schools, one must never be closed?

ATLprof

"I find this argument poorly reasoned and illogical. YOu seem to be saying that if the "problem" can't be solved, in its entirety, then a poor alternative law school education must be permitted to exist if it is cheaper."

No, I said that given a choice between having 1) a lower priced school and a higher priced school admitting the same body of students or 2) having only the higher priced school admitting the same body of students, that 1) is the better option. I don't see how there is anything illogical about that. We end up with the same number of graduates, but less debt. How is that bad or illogical? The demand for spots in law school is not created by the existence of the lower priced option.

I do not say that a "poor alternative law school education must be permitted to exist if it is cheaper." What I am doing is not making the assumption that it can be closed by some outside fiat. Instead, I am thinking about what is the best available way to address the problems facing law students and legal education and proceeding from there.

But this is why interaction is important. I actually agree with most everything you said in that post. I just don't think it is relevant to real solutions to the problems. So this discussion is teasing out the underlying assumptions we are both starting with.

I do start from the perspective that closing schools by fiat because is not an option on the table. Not because I don't think it would solve a number of problems, but because it is not a realistic possibility. Legally.

So given that, I approach these sorts of questions with an attitude of 'What can be done? What is the best realistic alternative?'

"Do you really believe that after a "boom" in opening new law schools, one must never be closed?"

No, I don't believe that the number of law schools should simply increase without end and without others shutting down (assuming such increases outstrip the need for lawyers - not demand, but need). But I have thought at length about what it would take for a school to shut down or to be shut down. It is difficult to come up with scenarios, especially short-term scenarios.

"WIth respect to the poorly rated law schools with which I am better informed, yes indeed ATL, perhaps there are some that should be closed."

Not necessarily disagreeing with you on the "should" part of that. However, once again, I am coming at this from a point of view of 'what can be done' and then in light of what can be done 'what should be done.' Arguing for something that cannot be done doesn't seem like a way to approach solving problems. (See below for closing law schools.)

"Instead, the absence of the poor alternatives might improve the prospects for all."

Yes, I said that made sense in my previous comment (though it would not improve the prospects "for all"; it would improve the prospects for the select). However, I'm trying to search for actual solutions to problems. I'm not starting with an assumption that someone is going to be given the power to shut down law schools to match some market perception while magically preventing other law schools from admitting those same students.

If we want fewer law schools, then we have to think about how it can happen. What school on its own would make a decision to shut down its law school?

I can only come up with two scenarios. Maybe you or others can come up with more than I have.

Scenario 1:

Law school, probably private, that has become a huge money drain on the university as a whole. So the university makes the decision to close the law school. This could be a private or public school, although if it were a public school, then it would have to also involve a school that was not politically connected.

How likely is this? It's hard to tell. Schools are claiming financial hardships now because of decreased applications/matriculation. However, if you examine those schools closely, most of them really don't have "admissions" problems; they have "admissions/rankings" problems. In other words, they have smaller incoming classes only because they are trying to hold on to UGPA and LSAT score levels. That makes it as much a rankings problem as an admissions problem. In other words, most of those schools could matriculate normal size classes if they were willing to accept lower LSAT/UGPA scores.

Note that I'm talking about schools that have mid-level scores to start with, not schools already admitting at the bottom end. They are a different story. See scenario 2 below.

Right now, they are all trying to weather the storm without sacrificing rankings. Once or if it becomes clear the storm is a permanent condition, they will have to make a change. So, if schools are becoming a financial hardship because of lowered numbers of students, it seems likely that they would finally have to start lowering their entrance numbers to get class sizes back to normal levels to maintain financial viability. Along with that, they can cut costs. Most universities would try just about anything before taking the reputational hit that would come from closing a major graduate program.

Bottom line: even though this is one of the more likely scenarios for a school closing, it would be a long-term process of quite a few years (if not decades) and is still rather unlikely.


Scenario 2:

A school loses its accreditation. Note that if this happens, the closing of the school is still likely a decade long process, given that the school would attempt to regain accreditation, and thus either recover or limp into the grave.

People may think this is the easy way to make school closings happens. People seem to argue that the ABA should go around and revoke accreditation until the number of schools are only producing the number of lawyers for which there are readily available jobs. There are a number of problems with that, but the only one we need to worry about in this discussion is that such an approach would be illegal. In other words, the ABA cannot approach it that way.

What they can do (and what they seem to be trying to do) is to inch the standards higher and higher until schools lose accreditation. They've already tried that approach once, and it did not end up ruling out as many schools as some thought it would. (See the bar passage standards added in the last decade.)

What seems more likely to produce a school closing under this scenario is an alteration in school admissions policies combined with the decreasing applicant numbers. If mid-level schools expand their admissions downward to maintain class sizes (for the reasons described in scenario 1 above), that ripples downward in an ever-expanding process. The schools below them would not only have to admit lower scoring students to adjust to decrease applicant demand but also have to admit even lower scoring students to make up for the students they would then be losing to higher placed schools who are dipping lower.

The result in this scenario is that schools that currently admit the lowest scoring students (LSAT/UGPA) would eventually be pushed so low that they would not be able to meet the bar passage requirements of the ABA standards. (There are some untested assumptions built into that, but I think most people would accept that, if the admissions standards went low enough, no amount of help could get those students over the bar hurdle.)

That is what it is going to take for a law school to be closed down from the outside.


Those possibilities, together with my desire to force the price of legal education down, gets us to why I would argue in support of NKU staying open or even of opening a new public law school (see the UNT-Dallas discussion, though for a new school there would need to be more reasons in the positive column for me to support it). My impression is that schools currently admitting the lowest scoring applicants are at the line right now. Lower-priced public opportunities or higher ranked opportunities admitting in the lower scoring applicant range would put desirable pressure on the for-profit schools. Either forcing them out of accreditation by forcing them to dip too low into the applicant pool or forcing them to drastically reduce their class sizes to maintain accreditation.


"'It's the demand of law students that is driving the existence of law schools' is questioned, reasonably. As has been demonstrated here, and on other sites I suspect you visit, and as you concede, demand is shrinking, especially for seats in poorly regarded law schools that can't place a majority of graduates in law-related employment."

Those two statements are not inconsistent, as I pointed out in the last post. Even with the drastic decrease in applicant demand, there is still enough demand to leave the for-profits at the bottom making plenty of money. That is empirical fact. The for-profts are still making plenty of money. What could change that situation such that lowered demand makes a difference is either 1) a much greater, further reduction in demand or 2) mid-level schools dipping lower into the applicant pool as described above.

"You contend that affording a less expensive alternative to "for profit" law schools means a poorly regarded law school that can't place a majority of its graduates in law-related employment should remain."

Yes, because the alternative is the same number of graduates but with more debt. I'm choosing between actually available alternatives. Not fantasy alternatives.

SickOfAnon

1) ATLprof and I responded to the same "anon." See comments #1 and 2 in this thread.

2) To call someone "emotional" because he points out errors in a post is an ad hominem attack, another example of a logical fallacy. Those who cannot reason or think logically will not do well in law school. At least in this respect, both posters calling themselves "anon" should consider some serious study in rhetoric before blaming law schools for failing them.

anon

Wow, SickofAnon, you've got it wrong again.
Perhaps instead of lecturing others, you should take it down a notch.
Your comments are obviously emotional. You are signing your comments "SickofAnon" ... that is a characterization of an emotion. Your all caps post was "shouting" according to internet custom, though I realize you were editing Anon 1's comment.
Finally, after insulting Anon 1, guessing about identity and basically sceaming at him/her, your reference to ad hominem attacks is sort of risible.
ATL:
Thank you for your thoughtful post.
Here's an idea, certainly not original. Cut off student loans to attend any law school that can't place 50% of its graduates in law related jobs for more than 3 years.
Let the chorus of objections begin; but, this has been done to shut down "diploma mills" that fleece students for their student loan money, and could be easily accomplished.

SickOfAnon

Honestly, I've never engaged with the "anon" types before. I'm really tired, however, of the "it's not my fault I'm not employed" gripers on the internet. Certainly, the job market is not great. Law schools are up against that problem. But I have never met a single legal educator who was acting in bad faith, and I have never met one who did not care about students and their future. I'm not saying they aren't out there; every profession has its turkeys. But they are few and far between.

The "law school scammers," though, refuse to take responsibility for themselves and their own futures. They say that law schools lied to them. A few law schools have been outed as dishonest; the vast majority have not and will not be because they are ethical.

I have thought for a long time that, if law students worked hard, learned to reason and write and research and think, and considered a variety of job options, they would find themselves far better situated. Those same students would find any number of law professors willing to help them.

It is time that the legal academy stopped ignoring the "scammers" and started responding. It's not all the law schools' fault. It's a shared responsibility. After following blog comments for a couple of years now, I've come to the conclusion that those who shout the loudest and cast blame the furthest are the ones who are least worthy of legal employment in the first place, by virtue of the fact that they can't spell, write, proofread, reason, or think logically.

I have no doubt that "anon" and his friends will say that this, too, is an ad hominem attack. However, my comments are supported by anon #1's own comment in this thread and by countless other similar across the blogosphere. I doubt seriously that you'll see legal educators making similar errors. Call them what you like, but those employed in the law world have learned to think and write. It's a job requirement, and one that people like "anon" apparently can't meet.

anon

SickofAnon says:
"Honestly, I've never engaged with the "anon" types before."
You couldn't make this sort of stuff up.

ATLprof

"Here's an idea, certainly not original. Cut off student loans to attend any law school that can't place 50% of its graduates in law related jobs for more than 3 years."

I;m assuming you are talking about federally-backed loans, since those are really the only ones that matter. Private loans would take care of themselves. Given that, there could be two approaches:

One would be through accreditation. Accreditation, by someone, is required for federal loans to be available.

Another would be through direct regulation by the lender, the federal government. That becomes a political fight. They are, I would guess, more focused (or would be if we had a functional federal government) on other types of schools which are much, much worse than law schools. Yes, there is a huge for-profit educational industry that run up huge student debts for things like culinary degrees - stuff with much worse outcomes for students than even the poor results many law graduates are experiencing right now.

I would suspect the political fight to get that done would be very difficult, since the trend is to convert more and more of education at all levels to for profit enterprises, and there are a lot of heavily connected political players deeply involved in it. (See for example the Bush family.)

There are restrictions that come along with taking federal loan money, and they are actually stricter for for profits than not for profits. But they are not terribly strict. Tweaking those might be accomplished more easily.


"Let the chorus of objections begin; but, this has been done to shut down "diploma mills" that fleece students for their student loan money, and could be easily accomplished."

There are no law school 'diploma mills' in the United States - at least not any who are ABA accredited. I can't speak to every unaccredited school because I am not familiar with that many, but the ones I am familiar with (e.g. Nashville School of Law) are clearly not 'diploma mills.' I don't know whether your comment meant to lump law schools in with diploma mills, but I wanted to make that clear.


Also note that the question of whether we should decrease the number of law schools or decrease the number of graduates, and all the considerations that we would have to take into account, is not something that we've covered in this back and forth. Decreasing the access to a legal education to those who want it is a difficult question.

Cent Rieker

"I've come to the conclusion that those who shout the loudest and cast blame the furthest are the ones who are least worthy of legal employment in the first place, by virtue of the fact that they can't spell, write, proofread, reason, or think logically."

I couldn't agree with you more SickofAnon. Now if only there was a test that could measure a minimal degree of reading comprehension and logical reasoning ability that students needed to take before gaining acceptance to law school. Maybe there also should be a minimum score for that test- say I don't know 160? Too strict? Fine- how about 150?

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