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May 02, 2015

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[M][@][c][K]

But Bernie, the big question is, how much are the Koch brothers paying you?Can we compare stipends?

Jojo

The answers are remarkably clear and easy -- so long as you don't care about dissuading potential customers with the truth.

anon

I'm readily admit that I'm confused. As Bernie states:

"{there are] a few basic but important confusions. {Bernie will] in the interest of mutual comprehension I attempt here to untangle the skeins that the combatants seem to be throwing past one another. ... The public discourse on these issues is so mixed up that it takes [him] some doing to untangle it."

But, what has been untangled? that S, on the one hand, says that law schools should report employment statistics as does a Government agency and just about everybody else, on the other hand, including the ABA and almost all courts that have addressed the issue, say that law schools should report more?

I'm sorry. What is the dispute here? What is the reason for posting this long drawn out essay about one person's blog posts about a subject that has already been decided against his position (a person, btw, who is not a credentialed labor economist and is funded by parties clearly interested in his anodyne findings)?

Who is confused here? Why pay any attention at all to the disclosure issue?

And, btw, the comments to the prior threads really didn't stay on point, so that is no evidence of interest in relitigating the disclosure issue.

As for the point about law school and the MILLION DOLLAR PREMIUM, that issue was discussed at length. As I hope we established, although S&M tried to milk attention by using that canard at firs, they quickly realized to what purposes that claim was being put. Their anodyne conclusion was actually that after putting in an investment of 200K or more, three years of time and significant intellectual capital, the median increase in earnings over a lifetime was actually, after taxes, quite modest. ANd, that is after applying all the skewed assumptions they built into that little cake.

Why is anyone paying attention to arguing about what S says and why not focus on moving on to effect the sorely needed reforms that might start to restore the law academy's credibility?

Endless debating this nonsense, is, as Bernie says, confusing in this context.

twbb

I think this is a good post; it's always good to take a step back and look at exactly what's being argued, particularly in light of the emotional timbre and cross-accusations of the recent debate.

I will say I think you may be giving the ABA way too much credit; they had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to this point. Frankly, many of us still don't trust them.

[M][@][c][K]

Bernie:

I'm sorry for my earlier snark (though if the Koch brothers are distributing cash...)

Fundamentally I agree with the point you made. Around a quarter of a century ago, when taking legal ethics, I came across the writings of the very odious Henry S. Drinker - the author of the early legal ethics rules, who as I recalled expressed the view that the rules were good because the "Irish, Italians and little Russian Jew-Boys" would be unable to comply with them, and hence excluded from the profession.

On another occasion a lawyer I know who is now dead told me about his father and uncle: "my father was a bigot, he would not have let a black man come in the front door." Yet he found himself bullied on the playground because the Toomey brothers (his father and uncle) and the Murphy's (I know a member of that family, a fine lawyer by the way (in his case it was his great-uncle and great-grandather)) endorsed the application of the first black man to become a member of the DC bar (he needed the endorsement of existing members of the bar.) One of the Murphy's told me that this gentleman spent almost two years looking for those signatures. Tomboy explained to me that when he asked his father why he had signed the endorsement, he had explained - "this negro came to the office, and he'd passed the bar exam and he was a man of good character, he had a right to be a lawyer, it was the right thing to do." Neither the Toomeys nor the Murphys had to sign that endorsement under the bar rules, they did it because it was right.

And here is the thing - you can parse the ethics rules and the BLS reporting writers (which frankly is Simkovic cherry picking a standard) and come up with an argument that if you read the rules and trade practice law in a particular way, maybe the misreporting of data by the law schools was, just technically, defensible. But to conclude that it was right is to be morally depraved. It was wrong, it was dishonest, it was disgraceful, shameful. And trying to justify it is why some people start invoking bizarre conspiracy theories.


anon

Here's the problem:

"But surely no one thinks that ought to be the end of the discussion, other perhaps than a few radical libertarians and Ayn Rand fanatics, who may imagine that very little should be unlawful, and anything that is not unlawful is admirable good practice if you want to pursue your self-interest by doing it."

Aside from the snarky attacks embedded in that sentence, and leaving aside that the finger perhaps should be pointed elsewhere, let's ask, law academicians: is this the motto you live by when you argue with others about the supposed evils in which members of that other party engage when they make this very point about the conduct of one of your own?

Again, folks, CREDIBILITY. This whole "debate" is just digging the hole deeper.

Paul Campos

I'm fascinated by this "debate," because it's so bizarre on its face.

Somebody who takes the position that there was nothing wrong with law schools reporting, without any further elaboration, that 95% of their graduates were employed nine months after graduation, is not someone whose views on the subject in general can be taken seriously.

It's like having an argument with somebody who says there was nothing wrong with the tobacco companies denying that smoking causes lung cancer, because after all doing so was a sound litigation strategy, or it's never "really" been proven, etc.

BTW Steve, the Koch brothers didn't actually pay me to post this.

Jojo

It's been more than 5 years since the law schools first discussed the possibility of a "crisis" in legal education. The only substantive improvement to address said crisis is the disclosure of 509 data brought about by LST and others.

The entrenched interests have done nothing but whine dispute and obscure what those data mean, while taking shots at the motives behind reformers who have no financial skin in the game at all.

Why can't we start talking about how to fix this mess? Can't we at least acknowledge an entry level employment problem and a cost of education problem? These strike me as not seriously controverted (but threatening to the status quo).

There are a lot of good law faculty out there who got into education because they care about the future. To you all, I'd plead that you work to right this ship even if it means the closure of 50 schools to do so.

anon

Paul Campos

I obviously agree with your assessment about a "debate" centered around S's recent musings on a blog (that are unmoored from 1. any semblance of labor economics training, education and expertise, leaving aside common sense (the ABA, nearly all law schools, and nearly every court that looked at the issues all agreed that reporting needed to be reformed), 2. a common sense of respect for others and an desire to be as transparent as possible when enticing youth into a very risky and expensive endeavor with misleading slogans and claims (this continues, of course: it is almost worse now) and 3. the need to be completely independent from interested parties who fund opinions that support their enterprises for self interested reasons (see, Bernie's condemnation of this, but only with respect to those he thinks are politically safe targets here in the FL)).

But, Paul Campos, please, stay away from analogies!!!

Steve may be preparing a post right now about his outrage that he has been compared to tobacco companies!

Voice of Reason

Paul Campos, you continue to accept a 6 figure salary for a job you've characterized as a scam from an institution you've disparaged. I would steer clear of disputes about credibility if I were you. Since anyone who attempts to contribute even the semblance of reasoned analysis to this debate is metaphorically assaulted by your mob of pitchfork-wielding thugs, I think Prof. Simkovic should be lauded for even attempting to talk sense. It obviously hasn't worked.

Bernie, requiring law schools to provide detailed, granular graduate employment data certainly gives prospective students increased capacity to decide BETWEEN law schools. However, unless someone provides largely equivalent data on the employment prospects for other graduate and professional programs or for the other alternative choices that potential law students might choose to make, it will do nothing to improve the rationality of the choice to attend law school in the first place.

The frothing mob will wave its pitchforks and scream that every student kept away from law school is a victory, but I suspect you are seeking a more reasoned decision-making process, one which will require data that is comparable between career alternatives. The ABA changes don't accomplish that. This doesn't make them useless--Simkovic's earlier posts, at least, acknowledge that the more granular data can be useful as supplemental information. But, if you completely replace the BLS standard definitions with granular data that is no longer comparable to that provided for alternative career choices, you've actually taken a step backwards.

anon

"Since anyone who attempts to contribute even the semblance of reasoned analysis to this debate is metaphorically assaulted by your mob of pitchfork-wielding thugs, I think Prof. Simkovic should be lauded for even attempting to talk sense." "The frothing mob will wave its pitchforks and scream that every student kept away from law school is a victory."

The only one demonstrating this form of conduct wrote that comment.

"However, unless someone provides largely equivalent data on the employment prospects for other graduate and professional programs or for the other alternative choices that potential law students might choose to make, it will do nothing to improve the rationality of the choice to attend law school in the first place. "

"someone" has. Do the research, as you likely expect undergrads to do. This information is readily available and, if a student is comparing options, then the more information about each option that is available, the better, right?

What, for the love of "reason," are you so worked up about, Voice of Reason? You are ranting like a person who is deranged, and making no sense.

Deborah Merritt

This is a good post, Bernie. I hope that it will, in fact, allow the discussion to move on--after some equally good comments, of course, which have already started to appear.

Bernie Burk

Voice of Reason,

First of all, let's dispense with the epithets. I don't see the behavior on either side of this debate being discernibly more civil than the other. Invoking "frothing mobs" and "waving pitchforks" adds nothing to the discussion. There are sober, thoughtful people in this discussion who simply disagree with you for rational and clearly stated reasons.

On the merits, you're still missing three very important points. It is, of course, perfectly reasonable to ask the question that you and Simkovic & McIntyre ask: If I go to law school, will I make more money in the course of my entire career than if I don't and just enter the workforce with my BA, or if I go to Business School, or if I go to grad school in English, or if I go to Medical School, or if I go to Divinity School, or if etc. etc.? There are certainly rational people who would like to know this, so the inquiry is valuable and informative.

The first important point you are missing is that, if your concern is career-long earnings power, which is what Simkovic and McIntyre tell us is the meaningful concern on which we should focus, then Simkovic & McIntire's more recent article tells us that the "nine months after graduation" statistics that were the primary or only statistic that many law schools publicized are USELESS in answering that question. Comparing one statistic that is useless for the purpose you have identified as meaningful with another statistic that is useless for the same purpose is still useless.

The second important point that you're missing is that career-long earnings is NOT the only inquiry that many prospective law students want to explore. Lots of people considering law school are considering law school BECAUSE THEY WANT TO BE LAWYERS. Given this preference, they ask the question "What are my chances OF BECOMING A LAWYER if I go to law school, or if I go to law school X rather than law school Y?" And if you want to be a lawyer, you may be quite specifically concerned with whether you will be able to START YOUR CAREER as a lawyer. If you don't go to law school, your chances of becoming a lawyer are effectively zero. If you do go to law school your chances if you graduated in 2014 are still (depending on how you count) less than 60% of starting your career as one. (And the statistics we have tend to indicate that people who don't start practicing law relatively soon after graduating are much more unlikely to practice law later, however well they may do in other work.) Telling people that 90% of recent law school graduates are "employed" when a third of those recent graduates have jobs with no resemblance to the particular kind of job they want to know about is not useful either.

If you agree with Simkovic & McIntyre about what you should care about when planning your career, then prior to 2011 law schools were not telling you anything you really wanted to know. If you disagree with Simkovic & McIntyre on this point, what law schools supplied was even worse.

Finally, the third important point you're missing is addressed when you say "if you completely replace the BLS standard definitions with granular data that is no longer comparable to that provided for alternative career choices, you've actually taken a step backwards." That is not correct on its own terms for the reasons just discussed. More importantly, it's simply not what's happened. You can easily reconstruct statistics that are identical to BLS statistics in the government definitions of "employed" and "unemployed" from the more granular data ABA now requires. You should not have suggested otherwise.

All of this was set out clearly in my post. You shouldn't accuse "the frothing mob" of not listening until you listen yourself.

Bernie

Anon

No, Paul, you are happy to carry out their agenda for free (at the expense of the taxpayers and students of Colorado).

Anon

Jojo, Why isn't a 50% decline in applications with the consequential impact on faculty and staff pay and positions a "solution" to what you say ails legal education?

Anon

Bernie, I agree with the substance of your most recent comment. I think it puts balance on the issues that a prospective law student needs to consider. I think it likely that most applicants to law school do think they want to become lawyers even if they think they eventually want to do something else. And I agree that entering a world where you know you have a very solid chance of getting a job right out of law school would be reassuring. Nonetheless the whole point of the attack on law schools has been the cost. If cost did not matter then sure just desire to be a lawyer and the opportunity to do so when you come out of this or that law school might be more important. But the critics rave on about the cost (and it seems nominally to be high) and that is why the research that Mike and Frank did is so important. Until that research arrived on the scene it was anecdote v. anecdote and resembled that old Mad Magazine Spy v. Spy cartoon. Now the critics should retreat and come up with their own data. Surely they could get the funding for the research from their friends in DC.

anon

Anon

You seem to believe that the "their agenda" (whose?) is to close down legal education entirely:

"every student kept away from law school is a victory"

and

"Why isn't a 50% decline in applications with the consequential impact on faculty and staff pay and positions a "solution" to what you say ails legal education?"

Suffice it to say that Bernie is correct in this respect:
"You shouldn't accuse "the frothing mob" of not listening ...."

The "debate" here is whether S is right that less information about employment outcomes would be preferable, because a government agency counts as "employed" anyone earning anything doing anything during the relevant time period. S says, in a blog, that if law schools would follow that lead, then prospective law students wouldn't be misled and confused by too much information, and could, instead, seek out and read about the putative (but illusory) MILLION DOLLAR PREMIUM without being confused by facts concerning the issues they actually (and should) care more about (as Bernie notes).

Why is this a "debate"? What is the purpose of elevating these ridiculous musings by S to any status whatsoever? The the issue has been litigated and decided, decidedly, by everyone who counts and has a say in the matter. When is enough enough? How much more S... is necessary here?

I have yet to hear an answer to this question.

terry malloy

As a member of the "frothing Mob" let me chime in. I've been vocal against what I see as the immorality of monetizing the cognitive errors of 22 year olds to convince them to take on mountains of non-dischargable debt to fund the outsize salaries of law school administrators and the cushy navel gazing of law professors.

I was harmed. I went 143,000 in non-dischargable debt, passed the bar, and have not practiced 1 day. The debt and concurrent identity loss of never practicing, have negatively impacted my life, and the lives of tens of thousands of my peers, in a myriad of depressing ways.

The manner and extent to which schools and their marketeers massaged employment and salary numbers to sell their product, including what S is defending, is unconscionable.

I don't expect the law school defenders to change their opinions. I just can't let them say that no one ever told them what they were doing was immoral.

Cribbing Camus:
'to commit to the fight against injustice in a world in which that fight is almost certain -- or certainly more probable to lose -- is an absurdity. But to not commit to making the fight is equally absurd and only one choice actually offers the choice for human dignity, and dignity matters'

No one pays me to haunt the law school cheerleaders.

I do it to remind them that those they harm are human beings with a right to respect and dignity, not just inflows of federal student loan dollars.

anon

Terry

Well said.

Unfortunately, the "debate" here on this thread is about whether S has any basis to claim that everyone - from the courts (who agreed that law schools issued misleading statements but found no reasonable reliance thereon), to the ABA (which now requires the more "granular" disclosures that S questions), to the reform community (e.g., LST) - nearly everyone, everywhere, agrees that the better disclosures now required are a step in the right direction.

If we are going to have this debate, let's start with a debate about Prof S's credentials as a labor economist/analyst, his receipt of funding from financially interested sources and the extraordinary attention he has received from certain of the loudest voices in support of the notion that legal academia is a pristine bastion of ethically superior geniuses under attack by a frothing, ignorant mob with pitchforks.

Or, are we now supposed to "debate" whether S is correct about the nature of required post-law school employment disclosures, and whether, if so, every other relevant actor is wrong? Why?

Yes, Bernie, we need to be enlightened. What is it about S's recent musings do you find worthy of so much of your time and attention?

Barry

Bernie: "You can easily reconstruct statistics that are identical to BLS statistics in the government definitions of "employed" and "unemployed" from the more granular data ABA now requires. You should not have suggested otherwise."

Yes, and this is solely due to the 'scambloggers'; the ABA and the law schools and people like you had no problem with the previous system.


BTW, I note that you and S (M seems to have faded away), SD and others seem to lean very heavily on BLS definitions - but for no good reason.

First, Saying that you (in a certain aspect, viewed very narrowly) followed a government definition is not proof that you are ethical. It's not even proof that you are acting legally; I have heard it said that the US government has imprisoned more people for whistle-blowing on torture than for torturing. The current US standard for torture is clearly (a) be dumb enough/unlucky enough to have pictures hit the internet and (b) don't have connections whom one can implicate.

Second, when the BLS says that the yearly demand for new lawyers is X, while law schools are graduating ~2X, I don't see these same people pointing at that as a golden standard which commands obedience.

However, it is interesting to see the counterattack and party line form up. I note that at both here and Prawsblog, the comments which are disappeared are not selected due to more heat than light, but for the wrong sort of light.


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