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December 31, 2012

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Steve Diamond

Ah, Bored, somehow I knew you would not let sleeping dogs lie.

At SCU we have already committed, and have been committed for several decades, to all of the things you suggest - lower salaries, more teaching, more administrative work by faculty and lower tuition than is the norm at schools like Stanford. The result is that we serve a different market, a conscious choice made by the School decades ago. I think the students who come to SCU understand this.

At some point of course if a school moves in a certain direction it ends up as a bar review school which is fine for students who attend those schools but we chose to be a different kind of school. Stanford decided, several decades ago, to go in a different direction. CUNY uses a combination of public funding and fundraising to be able to offer its 22K tuition and be the kind of school it is.

We constantly debate those choices and try to find the right balance - which has included in the last few years decisions to freeze salaries, not raise tuition and increase administrative work for faculty. I happen to be someone on the faculty who thinks we should focus more heavily on intellectual development and research. Others argue for more clinical experience. I think one of the problems of the LST crowd is that they think law schools are not capable of or interested in making changes to be more responsive as needed. In my experience, however, law school faculty debate these changes with their deans and administrations as often and as vigorously as anything I have seen in the private sector.

We could work for free of course and then you could have gone to law school for free and I think you would have gotten a law school education worth precisely what you paid.

john

Steve Diamond: "As the new semester approaches, I think it is time for me to return to my syllabus revisions and that one last paper I want to finish before the new term begins, so feel free to take the last shot and happy new year."

Keep your promise.

Robiul

Great article.Should i learn more information about this?albany remodeling

BoredJD

Well Steve, unless I misread I thought you graciously gave me the last shot. I suppose you still had one in the chamber.

I'm not sure what direction your school is going in. Despite apparently being not a public interest oriented school, Stanford places students in public interest positions at almost twice the rate of SCU. Again, how do you explain this in the context of a quality public interest oriented education?

You misread the LST/reform movement. Reformers are interested in MEANINGFUL change. Slowing growth is not meaningful change. Tweaks are not meaningful change.

As a general example, assume there is a school with 50% students who aren’t getting lawyer jobs. A meaningful change might be for this school to cut class size by 20%, so fewer students are competing for the same jobs. What usually happens is that the school retools and beefs up its Career Services department because it's not fair that the school's career services department only has six people and the elite school downtown has 15! Nobody stops to ask the simple question of whether elite school students get jobs because of or in spite of well-funded career services departments. I could run this kind of analysis for a dozen or more different programs.

Law professors show an unwillingness to engage in the kind of rigorous analysis that first-year law students must engage in as part and parcel of their exams. "We charge a lot of money because we need to provide a quality legal education" is fraught with unanswered questions. Does a quality education necessarily require large tuition outlays? When does each dollar spent on educational quality result in diminishing marginal returns? What the hell is a "quality" law school education? Do employers care about the quality of the law school education as opposed to the entering credentials of students? Do students care about the quality of a law school education in and of itself, as a signaling factor in the job market, or do they not care at all? Is there a way to provide a quality education with a completely different structure, conceptually, as found at the top tier schools (with much lower cost)?

I hardly see how cutting tuition will force your school to move towards the bar prep model of legal education. It does not require you to teach only black letter law courses. It may require you to make sacrifices in other areas, but if the school and professors truly believe that intellectual, theoretical classes produce better lawyers, nothing prevents you from teaching what you like.

As to your claims on tuition: http://www.constitutionaldaily.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1899:santa-clara-prof-just-making-up-tuition-facts&catid=42:news&Itemid=71

Steve Diamond

My guess is that LST is really interested in making money not in any serious change, hence its interest in brand recognition. No doubt it will be offering law school applicants some kind of software package that will only add to the cost of going to law school. If it were interested in serious change at law schools it would not engage in false accusations (the suggestion that you repeat here that I was making up the statement that our faculty blocked a proposed tuition increase) about the very people it wants to change. As a business law professor, I feel badly that I have trampled in the way of your marketing campaign! Good luck to you.

john

Steve Diamond: "As the new semester approaches, I think it is time for me to return to my syllabus revisions and that one last paper I want to finish before the new term begins, so feel free to take the last shot and happy new year."

Keep your promise.

Kyle McEntee

"My guess is that LST is really interested in making money not in any serious change, hence its interest in brand recognition. No doubt it will be offering law school applicants some kind of software package that will only add to the cost of going to law school. If it were interested in serious change at law schools it would not engage in false accusations (the suggestion that you repeat here that I was making up the statement that our faculty blocked a proposed tuition increase) about the very people it wants to change. As a business law professor, I feel badly that I have trampled in the way of your marketing campaign! Good luck to you."

I take great offense at your "guess" about my organization's real interests. LST is a nonprofit that Patrick Lynch and I incorporated in 2009. My team has worked thousands and thousands of hours for free since that time. I could not be prouder of their and my work.

Nobody has never taken a salary for work with LST, though I do hope to take a small salary this year (probably $750 per month) when I move to doing LST part time. (I had to find another job to afford my loans and to live.)My total income since starting LST is $18,000 -- all from a school-funded fellowship to work for another nonprofit -- though two years were during law school . No less, I have foregone income (my last paycheck was August) as long as possible in order continue working passionately and effectively for something I believe in. But yeah, this is just a long con so I can make money.

Kyle McEntee

Oops, should say "nobody has ever taken a salary."

Steve Diamond

Kyle, Where can individuals interested in transparency find LST's annual reports and Form 990s?

john

Steve Diamond: "As the new semester approaches, I think it is time for me to return to my syllabus revisions and that one last paper I want to finish before the new term begins, so feel free to take the last shot and happy new year."

Keep your promise.

Kip

Kyle -- I wonder if you can address some of the substance of Bernie Burk's original post. That is, what do you believe your expertise is in the area of law school curricular reform, as you indicate you have never practiced, held only one part time job for a short period of time, and have not taught?

That is, now that you have seemingly achieved your goal of having all law schools post detailed employment statistics on their website, why are you still here?

BoredJD

"If it were interested in serious change at law schools it would not engage in false accusations (the suggestion that you repeat here that I was making up the statement that our faculty blocked a proposed tuition increase) about the very people it wants to change."

I don't work for LST if that's what you think. If you want to know about my motives you only have to ask.

The link to ConDaily, a separate blog from LST, was attempting to provide context to your statements. That you froze tuition one year is a good thing. That tuition rose by $8,000 from 2007-2012 is not so good. That's about twice the rate of inflation. The school seems to have an insatiable need for tuition revenue and a prospective student might reasonably wonder if you will not make up your tuition freeze in another year.

Statements like "if you want free law school, you get what you pay for" are bad arguments. Your last comment was bizarre in the context of this conversation. You so offhandedly attribute ulterior, profit-seeking motives to LST, an organization that offers no paid products and survives on donations and time. Law professors and deans, however, could never be concerned with their own bottom line first and foremost.

Deborah J Merritt

Steve, your allegation about LST's motives is malicious and, as far as I can tell, completely unfounded. In court, an attorney needs a good faith belief before asking a witness a question like this. Attorneys can't just ask things like "isn't it true that you embezzled money from your employer?" or "isn't it true that you're really interested in making money from prospective students, thus increasing their cost of attending law school, rather than effectuating serious change?" without a good faith belief in the accusation.

I'm disappointed both in your professionalism and in the integrity of this site. Why didn't the moderators remove this comment? The comment points to no basis for for a very malicious accusation. Is this a site that allows any statement, no matter how unprofessional?

Really?

"The comment points to no basis for for a very malicious accusation. Is this a site that allows any statement, no matter how unprofessional?"

No, that would be ITLSS.

Steve Diamond

Deborah,

If I recall correctly, the suggestion that LST might be engaged in an effort to start a business was implied at the outset by Bernie when he pointed to their recent "brand recognition" tab on their website. At least, that is why I even thought about that possibility. In addition, there was the suggestion that LST has had some relationship to the law suits now filed around this issue.

In any case, why is it malicious to suggest someone is starting a business? I actually think LST could be a very good - and useful - business! I support full transparency from law schools. And just as in the private sector the existence of third party providers of disclosure and other information is very useful. I sat on the advisory board of a company that did this very thing for the financial sector. It now focuses on executive pay packages. It provides an important service.

I do think however that the obsession with nominal tuition numbers is not helpful, a point I have now made here and on ConstitutionalDaily exhaustively. That this blatantly obvious and rational conclusion is ignored by LST and others suggests that there is another agenda here. Kyle and LST have still not made their annual reports or Form 990s available so that they too can be checked for accuracy.

And since you are anxious about my professionalism would you mind taking a minute and going over to ConstitutionalDaily.com and tell them that you oppose their public effort to have me fired for participating in this debate?

Or are you too more interested in yelling fire in a crowded theater than having a rational discussion?

(And please give my class mate Dan Tokaji my best when you see him).

Steve Diamond

Bored: Although John will tell me I should keep quiet, allow me to respond to one point you made:

"The link to ConDaily, a separate blog from LST, was attempting to provide context to your statements. That you froze tuition one year is a good thing. That tuition rose by $8,000 from 2007-2012 is not so good. That's about twice the rate of inflation. The school seems to have an insatiable need for tuition revenue and a prospective student might reasonably wonder if you will not make up your tuition freeze in another year."

We did not freeze tuition. The school did not make two proposed structural changes in tuition that would have increased school revenue. The nominal number has increased as reported to the ABA.

I continue to believe that discussions of the nature legal education that focus on nominal tuition are not meaningful because they do not reflect the actual cost/revenue basis on which law schools are managed. Again this is not my area of expertise but as an example out of 11 California schools our tuition ranks 8th, below Pepperdine, Davis, etc.

Interestingly, USC, Davis and Berkeley (using in state resident tuition for the UCs) ranks ahead of Stanford. If this then is all about the correlation between nominal tuition and USNWR then I would think the students at USC Davis and Berkeley should be howling. But I would give them the same answer as I have here - the experience is different, the schools serve different markets, the cultures vary. Having recently advised a family friend to go to USC, for example, I think she made a great choice, is having a great experience and will make a terrific lawyer. She had several other choices.

Of course, it looks like she will be graduating at a time when the economy remains sluggish. This is a serious problem but it is not one caused by law schools. It is distressing to me to see so many in our profession ready to eat their young.

Carlos Rosario

Professor Diamond,

As a former SBA president at SCU, and a former co-worker of Kyle McEntee, I can say with a great deal of confidence that LST is not looking to make money off of their project.

In the many conversations I have had with Kyle, including talks with Kyle and Dean Polden in the Adobe Lodge, all that was ever discussed was how to provide a service where fewer of our former classmates and friends become part-time servers after their law school career ends.

Kyle's goal is altruistic. - Just my 2 cents.


Steve Diamond

Thank you for that perspective, Carlos.

In your view has the service provided by LST or Kyle helped law students get jobs? I am not sure how that works because I cannot see any connection between the information they provide - which is readily available elsewhere and has been for years - and the likelihood of employment. I made an assumption based on their site and the discussion here that they have a political viewpoint (given the argument of their paper) or a marketing viewpoint (given their attempt to create "brand recognition" and to move to a salaried business model for staff.

Again nothing wrong with either of these goals. Or with trying to help law students get work. But it would be nice to have some, well, transparency about this.

Stan

SCU's bar passage rate for California is 15th of 22. Stanford came in 2nd. I guess there is something to be said for Joe Grundfest after all.

http://abovethelaw.com/2013/01/california-bar-exam-results-by-law-school-open-thread/

Case Update

There was a decision today dismissing the employment stats case against Albany Law School. Here is a key quote from the ruling:

"Given the elaborate and somewhat subjective nature of plaintiffs' definition of 'employment,' it is difficult to envision how they could reasonably have expected any single published statistic to comport with all of their assumptions and expectations regarding legal employment," Platkin wrote.

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