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December 31, 2012

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john

"I was unaware of the fact that LST and the witch hunters at Con Daily are linked. Who else was not aware of that?"

That you were surprised is, at this point in the discussion, to be expected. But I think the answer to your question about who else was surprised is probably clost to zero.

If you click on the 'About LST' tab on the home page of LST, you can find this:

Research Director
Derek Tokaz is a licensed New York attorney with a J.D. from New York University School of Law and a B.A. in Philosophy and English from the University of Alabama. He is Editor-in-Chief of Constitutional Daily, a legal humor blog recognized in the 2011 ABA Journal Blawg 100. He is currently pursuing a Masters in Fine Arts from American University.

"I was certainly surprised to learn that Professor Merritt is engaged in a new joint venture with Law School Transparency"

Again, I can't emphasize enough that you need to click on those 'About' tabs on the home page of a website if you want to know "about" the people behind the website. From Law School Cafe:

Cafe Manager and Contributors

Deborah J Merritt manages the Law School Cafe; she is the site’s primary moderator and contributor. DJM is also the John Deaver Drinko/Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law, at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, but the Cafe is an independent project. Deborah has written about many facets of legal education, teaches in both doctrinal classrooms and clinics, and has developed a seminar on the Business of Law.

Kyle McEntee, the Executive Director of Law School Transparency, is the Cafe’s co-moderator, frequent contributor, and website designer. The Law School Cafe is a partner site of Law School Transparency.

"So, again, now, Bernie, what tone do you feel it is appropriate to take with people who call for a law professor to be "forced" out of his job because of what they now admit were false claims that he had not been truthful? Will you join me in calling for Con Daily to retract that call? Will Faculty Lounge as a community do so?"

Just so everybody knows, this is Steve's idea of a witch hunt(from Con Daily):

Steve Diamond isn't just flying into outer space, he's approaching escape velocity. And Santa Clara lets this guy teach business law and corporate finance. Lucky for him, he has tenure, but if we were SCU students, we'd under-enroll his classes until he was forced out.

Steve Diamond

Hmm, still no 990. Wonder why. Perhaps LST is not a tax exempt charity after all? Otherwise why violate IRS regulations? Nothing wrong with being a taxable entity but I think it would be important to tell donors that.

can't believe a thread like this is possible

the post and comments are a shanda. professor burk, please delete them and please remember that the tone you choose for the post can set the tone for the comments to follow. it is possible to ask hard questions in a polite way.

Concerned_Citizen

Professor Burk, thank you; in my opinion a very good post and very good criticisms and questions for LST's paper. Hopefully the LST personnel will take your post to heart and use it to improve their future efforts.

I have read through most of the comments here. I think that Kyle McEntree deserves and enormous amount of credit for responding politely and clearly despite professor Diamond's provocations.

And likewise, Professor Burk deserves credit in the comments here for responding fairly and carefully to commenters here, each in turn, even in his measured response and questions to professor Diamond, which professor Diamond saw fit to ignore, choosing instead a very weak and transparent deflection technique.

As for Professor Diamond himself. Well, it is not uncommon to find this sort of behaviour in comments sections. What is uncommon is to see this sort of extremely poor behaviour from a law professor who signs his own name to such utterly juvenile rubbish.

Concerned_Citizen

for "can't believe a thread like this is possible", why do you blame Professor Burk's tone selected for his post, for the tone that came out in the comments?

What precisely was it that you detect in the tone of the original post that engendered the ("can't believe [it] is possible") tone in the comments section?

This is a serious question.

Tax Lawyer

My guess is that LST is a Tennessee nonprofit that has not filed a 501(c)(3) application (Form 1023). I base this on the fact that it does not appear in the IRS database listing all nonprofits that have filed a 990-N or 990. The LST website does not claim that they are a 501(c)(3), just that they are a nonprofit, which does accurately describe the Tennessee statute under which they are incorporated. There is no shame in not being a 501(c)(3)- it just means donations aren't tax deductible. They are still bound by the Tennessee law on public benefit corporations.

This might be wrong, but it is a guess based on what I could find on the IRS website on charities,http://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/ , the Tennessee Secretary of State website, and the LST website.

Steve Diamond

I believe they are incorporated in Georgia as Law School Transparency, Inc., with a license in Tennessee as a foreign corporation. They appear to be behind on their fees owed to Georgia, also.

john

"the post and comments are a shanda"

If you think these comments are a shanda, you should Steve in action over at JD Underground.

http://www.jdunderground.com/all/thread.php?threadId=39271

john

"They appear to be behind on their fees owed to Georgia, also."

First their website was down, now they are late on fees. I think it's pretty obvious they are up to something shady. Good work, Steve! And remember to keep plenty of tinfoil on hand.

Steve Diamond

John (or Kyle if you are still taking an interest), I take it you know something about LST.

Can you tell me why Kyle McEntee told the ABA this year that he was looking for $500,000 in angel funding for LST? WIll early stage donors also be able to invest at the same valuation as the angel funders? How far along is your funding search?

Is that linked to it has not become a tax exempt entity and thus has not, apparently, filed a 990 or 990N?

Do you think that potential donors should be told that their donations are not going to a tax exempt non profit or is that something they should try to figure out by themselves?

Do you think it is misleading to post nominal tuition numbers in red on your website when the actual cost of law school is impacted by so many other factors?

Can you tell us the names of LST's advisory board members?

Can you describe the nature of all of LST's partnerships and other relationships in particular with, if any, ad based sites like Con Daily?

Thank you for any light you can shed on this.

john

"John ... I take it you know something about LST."

You thought wrong. I'm just really good at things like clicking on 'About' tabs and searching the IRS and Sec. of State websites when I want to find something out about a company.

"Thank you for any light you can shed on this."

You're welcome.

john

I can give you my personal opinion on the following question, though:

"Do you think it is misleading to post nominal tuition numbers in red on your website when the actual cost of law school is impacted by so many other factors?"

No. Nominal tuition is the starting point, and for many students, also the ending point. If schools want to be more transparent about scholarships, average debt on graduation, etc., I would certainly applaud that. And I am sure the people at LST would add the information to the school profiles if that information was available.

How many students at SCU pay sticker? How many get 10, 25, 50 ... off? How many of the people getting a discount are able to retain that for the second year, for the third year?

If you think this information will make SCU more attractive, then why doesn't SCU release it? It would seem to be in their best interest.

Tax Lawyer

John, were you able to find LST on the IRS website? (I don't really care about this whole thing one way or the other, but I am curious whether I am good at finding things on the IRS website!)

Steve, even if they are not a 501(c)(3) (and this is a simple fact that I'm sure one of the LST guys can clear up), they are still a nonprofit, and still required to act in the interest of the public instead of their shareholders. There's nothing particularly important about becoming tax-exempt, except to encourage more donations (because it makes the donations deductible). And the way that it works usually isn't that people get letters telling them that their donations AREN'T tax deductible. Instead, for cash donations to be deductible, the entity must provide documentation (usually a letter) stating that the donations ARE deductible.

Steve Diamond

Instead of suing why not have SBA heads convene national dialogue with ABA and AALS? Class action lawyers want the money and are going after low hanging fruit. The jump to sue tells something about law school culture. Meaningful change requires deeper institutional commitment from all constituencies.

Effective disclosure together with support for tenure and academic freedom is critical to prevent this crisis from being exploited by those who would return law schools back to the white male dominated days of Kingsfield.

john

"John, were you able to find LST on the IRS website?"
No, my reference to the IRS website was just me giving Steve a hard time for not being able to figure out that the 990 he was demanding didn't exist because it wasn't required.

john

"Instead of suing why not have SBA heads convene national dialogue with ABA and AALS?"

And how long do you suppose that might take? How many people's lives would be destroyed during the wait?

"Effective disclosure together with support for tenure and academic freedom is critical to prevent this crisis from being exploited by those who would return law schools back to the white male dominated days of Kingsfield."

How does overproducing lawyers help minorities? How does overcharging for a law degree help minorities? This might be the biggest non-sequitur yet. Please explain how Tamahana, Campos, LST, or whoever else, are trying to return law schools back to the white male dominated days of Kingsfield.

newbie

Professor Diamond,

I have been following this debate pretty intently. I must say that I have greatly enjoyed. I think that there were some good points on both sides, and your intent to see behind the motivation of LST is understandable given the situation.

But the original post was about law school reform, LST's role in it, and provided some very practical suggestions by professor Burk, which I applaud. But what likely was meant to provoke meaningful discussion, both on this post and in the real world. But it has deteriorated into the law school reform version of the "birther" debate. And like the birther debate, you quest has sucessfully sidetracked attention away from the problems; I am sure this is intentional. Might LST's motives be less than crystal clear? Maybe. Frankly, I don't care. Apart from a vague reference to listing "nominal" tuition costs as opposed some other cost of tuition (January 07, 2013 at 02:24 AM), I have not seen you point to anything inaccurate or misleading about their numbers. And you do not really explain why the nominal tuition would be misleading anyway. And all of this talk of violating IRS regulations--in my opinion--runs dangerously close to defamation. But I digress.

To explain myself: I am living the JD nightmare. I am a 2011 magna cum laude graduate of a 80-something ranked law school. I am unemployed, I cannot currently support my debt, and I have recently come to grips with the fact that I may very well be poor for the rest of my life. But this is not my school's fault. I started in 2008, right before the market tanked. I should have hit eject, but I didn't (little bit of special snowflake syndrome there). I take full responsibility for my situation, while attributing just a bit to bad luck for the sake of sanity. In trying to figure out how I could so catastrophically destroy my life by simply going to school, I came across ITLSS. And, to my dismay, I realize that I am not alone. My only point here is to disclose my perspective: a new grad living the worst case JD scenario and relative newcomer to the debate. And I am currently squeaking out a practice as a solo, in a town filled with new Cooley grads (and please note, nothing wrong with Cooley grads except sheer volume), so I see what effect a glut of grads has on the market, professionalism and overall practice in the area.

Steve Diamond

If dialogue had occurred first we would have results by now. Three years wasted.

Women and minorities have historically have a tougher time accessing the legal profession. A proposal to create a two tier system with only adjunct style teaching at second tier will mean expensive top tier accessible to only those with the resources. Second tier adjunct schools will resemble "shove it down their" throats non-theoretical approach that once dominated law schools, precisely what we have tried to move away from with increased tenure protections for clinical professors and improved access to the legal field.

Law prof who expects honesty

LST has done some good things, but I do have concerns about the ethics of the Con Daily author after reading this post: http://www.constitutionaldaily.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=650:here-is-a-dime-use-it-to-phone-a-friend&catid=38:there-and-never-back-again&Itemid=65

John Steele

Steve,

Could you explain that last point a little more? We currently have a situation where the cost of law school is one of the factors leading to significant to severe under-representation of the middle and working classes in law school and the legal profession. That hits the African-American and Latino participation rates particularly hard.

Why, then, would it more inclusive to raise law school prices and insist upon a one-size-fits-all system? Are you saying that have a greater diversity of law school options will (1) actually decrease the number of URMs attending law school; (2) have no impact on the number of URMs attending law school; or (3) increase the number of URMs but prevent them from obtaining the more prestigious sorts of JDs?

If the answer is (3), wouldn't your argument then reduce to: "it's better for lots of the lower socio-economic groups and URMs to get no JD than to have them attend a non-prestigious institution"?

Also, isn't it a logical error to talk about "creating" a two-tier system if we already have one?

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