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May 06, 2014


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This will be another exercise in law school higher ups avoiding the issue.


The policy makers who need to be informed are not solely, or even primarily "throughout the legal community."

The policy makers who need to be informed, and least of all by the ABA, are the members of Congress, who need to immediately stop the use of students as conduits to funnel unreasonable sums from the taxpayers to underperforming, demonstrably dishonest institutions.

If the ABA wishes to intercede, it should do so to set strict standards by which its accreditation, which is the ticket to federal student loan money, is maintained.

Former Editor

I am skeptical of any task force related to reforming law school funding practices that is chaired a board member of InfiLaw.


Rearranging deck chairs.........

When only a small minority gets the sort of jobs which offer a *chance* to pay off current debt levels, what can law schools do?

No, breh.

ALL the task forces!


How do you measure "underperforming ... institutions"? (not going to argue the other half of that description)

Bar passage? Job placement? Are these really about the performance of the institution, or about how many students and which students should be permitted to go to law school?

"I am skeptical of any task force related to reforming law school funding practices that is chaired a board member of InfiLaw."


Orin Kerr

Philip Schrag is at Georgetown not Colorado. (Colorado has Pierre Schlag.)

Sam Bagenstos

Colorado also has Phil Weiser.


I'm waiting to see if any of the professors who post here are willing to respond to Former Editor's point that the Chair of this committee is also the Chair of Infilaw. Is there anyone short of Paul Campos among law school faculty willing to say a single negative thing about even the worst of all law schools? Do any of you have a shred of integrity when it comes to this subject?


PaulB: Have you regularly read comments on this site? Then you would know the answer is yes. But I guess you haven't even read the comments in this post, let alone the rest of the blog.

In fact, if you read deeply enough, you'll find a few instances of "law school critics" actually extolling the for-profits because they reduce faculty governance in favor of a more corporate style.

Ronald Johns

Market forces are driving down the cost for lower tier law schools.


ATL prof, so the problem with the Infilaw schools is that "they reduce faculty governance in favor of a more corporate style?" That's like saying Bernie Madoff was a bad man because he had a mistress. What I am saying is that I'm waiting for you or any of the other professors who post here say that when the ABA appoints the Chair of Infilaw to chair its committee that it has surrendered any moral authority to participate in the conversation. As to the problem being solely one of for profit schools, let's talk about Luke Bierman and how Elon has dropped its LSAT scores by 5 to 7 points in order to keep a school that charges tuition in excess of $37K with an employment rate of 32% in business.

Have you no shame?


PaulB: "Have you no shame?"

Have you no ability to read and comprehend?

I didn't say the problem with InfiLaw schools is that "they reduce faculty governance in favor of a more corporate style." I did not say and have never claimed that for-profit schools are the only problem. I have been a critic of the cost of law school for more than a decade -even before the employment crisis following the economic collapse in 2008.

Did you read my comment in this thread where I explicitly agreed with FE's statement pointing out the problem of having a task force on cost headed by an InfiLaw board member?

I've never really thought the ABA had any moral authority. I'm not really sure what that has to do with anything.

Not a Dean, Just a Joe

To cut tuition, you need to cut cost. To cut cost, you need, to address faculty compensation, which is a large piece of a law school's fixed costs. But to address faculty compensation, you have to have some sort of faculty performance/evaluation measures with an administration that has spine to enforce it, especially for those faculty that are out to pasture who don't engage in a law school's mission and who will sue for breach of a tenure contract, etc. At this point, I think we need congressional or Department of Education intervention to authorize law schools (and other graduate programs) to have greater flexibility to deal with non-performing faculties.


The current reliance on "merit" scholarships to finance legal education is a moral and economic disaster and I am glad the ABA is finally turning its attention to it.

Merit scholarships are immoral because they result in students with the worst prospects paying the costs of educating students with the best prospects (who are the students most likely to be able to repay loans and therefore least in need of scholarships).

They are an economic disaster because they force law schools into ruinous competition for students with the GPA and LSAT scores the schools need to maintain their USNews rank. As a result law school can't afford to offer need based aid and may have to raise tuition further.

The ABA needs require schools to stop offering merit scholarships. That is the only thing that will enable schools to bend the cost curve and moderate tuition increases.


Former Mayor of Detroit giving financial advice? You have to be kidding, right?


"At this point, I think we need congressional or Department of Education intervention to authorize law schools (and other graduate programs) to have greater flexibility to deal with non-performing faculties."

Absolutely! But, there will be hue and cry in the academy about measuring performance, just as some law profs actually believe there is no way to measure the performance of a law school itself.

Trade schools, and other schools occupying particular niche markets have been refused eligibility for federal student loans by the governing authorities. (This was a topic on another thread, where some seemingly stunned profs asked, in so many words: "Yeah, like when? I never heard about that." ... Exactly.)

These enforcement actions can be brought based on the outcomes for students: on the bar, in finding JD required employment, etc., and the level of a school's revenue that is NOT derived from student loans.

If the ABA is wise, it will get ahead of the curve and redirect its efforts to setting standards for accreditation that address declining admission standards, unconscionable tuition increases, unacceptable employment prospects, bar pass rates, etc.

The argument that all woes are traceable to the Great Recession has lost all salience. It is time to act to withdraw ABA accreditation if a law school does not serve its students and fulfill its mission to prepare students to participate meaningfully in the legal system in JD required employment.

Too many law profs still can't figure out what this simple standard requires. Too many can't recognize failure when they see it; indeed, too many can't even agree that measurable and observable failure exists (except, of course, the failure to allow law faculties to run failing institutions without interference).

If the ABA is likewise clueless, then perhaps the ABA is the hopeless resource that many believe it to be.

Among other standards, ANY INSTANCE of the misrepresentation of ANY data, including unqualified forward looking statements that are stated with "expert" confidence that is inherently misleading, should result in probation, and upon repetition, immediate loss of accreditation.

Steve Diamond

Apparently, for the law school critics the only thing worse than the ABA doing nothing is the ABA doing something.


Steve Diamond, did you read the article?

The ABA "taskforce" on financing legal education is being chaired by the chairman of Infilaw, which, in case you forgot or were not aware of, is the company that runs a few bottom-feeding law schools.

It would be as if the Obama administration were to put Tom Daschle in charge of an "independent" review of the Affordable Care Act.

It is outrageous and insulting. The task force should be nearly completely devoid of law school administrators, faculty, and employees of for-profit corporations which rake in millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars.

And wasn't Phil Schragg the one who stridently defended IBR?



Cute, but inflammatory, simplistic and incredibly misguided. Your comments always ring the bell for the most unbelievably condescending attitude.

No, Steve. Those are not the alternatives ("do nothing or do what is described").

Some alternatives are spelled out in the comments above.

And, we can't overlook the composition of this panel, can we?

Or, should we accept this latest gambit as a timely effort, sincerely meant to actually address the causes, and not merely once again half-heartedly address (but do nothing about) certain of symptoms of problems that have haunted legal academia all these years?

In short, Steve, is this just politics as usual (yours and the ABA's)?

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