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May 06, 2014


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Steve--It would be nice if the ABA did take some meaningful steps to address law school cost. Instead, the ABA has appointed a committee whose head is chair of a for-profit law school chain that doesn't even manage to be cheap, someone who is also the former mayor of the nation's largest bankrupt city (did no one even think of the optics!?), and appointed as a member someone else who has in the past argued that there is no real problem with law school costs because loan repayment programs will apparently be around forever.


The ABA does not represent the American Bar anymore. Lewis Powell and William Howard Taft weep.

I recently refused free membership in the ABA from some telephone solicitation. They tout 400,000 members. I'd be curious to learn how many are dues paying, non-students. I'd be surprised if it were more than 100,000, almost all in biglaw. I have exceedingly little faith in an organization that once served the bar and the public so well. In the last 40 years it has become politicized, and then focused on side missions rather than its core mission.

What do I mean? Well, the ABA has a standing committee on climate change and sustainable development. It has another on international human rights. Important issues? Of course. Issues directly relevant to the American bar? No.

The ABA has become a law school like pseudo salon of left-leaning preferences on American policy rather than a bar association. Worse still, its dues paying members are biglaw corporate guys, so it avoids biting the corporate hand on issues of banking reg, etc. In short, the ABA is useless. Don't pay dues and don't accept free membership. Even their cles are bad.


Steve Diamond,

Serious question. Don't you think the main topic here will be how to reduce merit scholarships in order to generate more revenue for schools?


No amount of condescension could be too much for the stupidity of the law school haters that this blog permits to ruin every comment thread.

Paul Campos

"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."

[Citation missing]

It's true that if you read deeply enough, you can find just about any view, no matter how absurd, expressed by a random commenter on a thread somewhere. (The technical cyberterm for this is "nut-picking.")

A couple of comments:

(1)This committee makes about as much sense as appointing a panel made up of the CEOs of the major investment banks to investigate the 2007 meltdown of the financial markets. Putting an Infilaw hack at the head of it was a particularly audacious flourish.

(2) That said, contra Paul B's comment, there are in fact a lot of critics of the status quo now inside of law schools, and the number is growing all the time. These people vary a good deal in regard to the pervasiveness of their criticisms, their rhetorical styles, their suggested reforms, their general politics, etc. But the law school reform movement is real, both inside and outside of legal academia -- and it's becoming increasingly easy to distinguish the sheep from the goats, both within particular institutions and in the public discourse.


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

I would prefer that the ABA do "nothing" than to engage in a whitewash, which is exactly what it is doing. Congratulations law faculty who do not want reform. You have regulatorily captured the American Bar Association. Well done. You care about your jobs more than outsiders care about reforming the legal profession. You win, gold star to you.

I suspect that the silent majority of law faculty have a conscience and care about their students and feel increasingly dirty about their chosen profession.



"No amount of condescension could be too much for the stupidity of the law school haters that this blog permits to ruin every comment thread."

You are in rare form today! Your comment, unlike all those haters, adds value to the discussion!!! Not a hater, you. No, no, no. You are admirable.

And, apparently, proud to be condescending!


ATLProf: "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."



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

To others - is the fallacy of the excluded middle? Or just a strawman? Or just generic BS?


(sigh) The ABA isn't even trying anymore. Let's just cut through all the political theatre and raise law school tuition (and lower LSAT standards) 4evah.

Remember folks, the prior task force recommended that we also need additional "not-law" institutions and "not-JD" degrees due to the "large" "unmet" "need" for legal services out there. It not like there are thousands of unemployed or underemployed JDs out there who would love to assist because they have student loans, or anything.

Oh, right, legal services are "too costly", and that is, of course, the fault of all those over-produced grads. They should have done their "research", amirite?

As No,breh stated: ALL the task forces!


Paul Campos

"the law school reform movement is real, both inside and outside of legal academia"

Absolutely true. And, it would appear, thankfully and finally, that many are losing interest in the efforts by a few to simply demonize you and others in order to resist change.

Instead, and this is admittedly an impression, it appears that many in legal academia are gaining an understanding that the best alternative to any particular set of proposed reforms is not maintaining the status quo, but rather, instituting other reforms that can garner a consensus.

And, as you propose, I suspect that a consensus is forming that the status quo must be addressed with serious and thoughtful CHANGE.

Every so often, someone enters the room, lifts a leg and sprays. When the smell clears, however, we are left with certain inescapable conclusions about conditions in legal academia that compel action.

Regrettably, the ABA is probably not the vehicle to lead anything like real reform. The key is to use the student loan flow to regulate.

another anon

If there is a real law school reform movement, can someone name its members, individual and institutional, and their actual accomplishments to date?


Another anon

Good question. Really. Brilliant. It is impossible within the time answering your questions merits, and would be unproductive in any event to spend too much time answering. But here are a few examples.

First, reporting by law schools is taking a much deeper, and more accurate look at reality than it did before the hue and cry that was raised about misleading nature of much of it. Would you prefer to return to the "good old days"?

Second, more accurate reporting, combined with the analyses of many law school critics has, to a large extent, resulted in more serious deliberation by college grads before deciding to attend law school. To be sure, I can't cite a study on this. However, one can reasonably attribute the sharp decline in applications to a growing awareness that law school is not for everyone, including for economic reasons. Would you prefer it to be otherwise? (Perhaps. S&M, right?)

Third, the ABA task force above-described was likely created because of the efforts of law school critics. While likely an inadequate and misplaced effort (for the reasons stated above) the fact is that it is an effort. And, this is just one effort, among many other efforts, that appear to be in recognition of the truths espoused by those calling for "reforms" of the legal academy. Do you support the status quo in every respect?

If not, what changes would you make? Educate us, dear educator. Light a candle in the darkness.

As for the id of every voice here and elsewhere, I think you know the reason that is a loaded question. But, the efforts of the ABA above could be described as part of an effort to "reform" as are the innumerable studies by State Bar associations that have been cited here in the FL. And, the "watchdog" sites that have grown up to police transparency have also been cited and engaged with respect. And, on and on.

One suspects you know this. Your rhetorical gambit is just a bit too childish to go on much further. You undoubtedly know that your questions were just meant to be "cute" and "clever."

Ok, Another Anon. You asked some really tough questions. There is just no answer to your probing and cutting analysis.

Feel better?

another anon

Do you have any evidence at all for any of your claims? Correlation is not causation.


Another anon.

Read my comment. Think about it.

You are right. Correlation is not causation.

How about answering a few of the questions I asked, Another Anon, instead of answering with another "clever" question.

But, before you do, start here: do you contend that the hue and cry about legal education in the past few years has had nothing to do with any of the phenomena cited?

If so, do you have any evidence for that claim?

(See, two can play! Fun!)

another anon

The ABA changed its tune when Barbara Boxer started sending angry letters. Then the NY Times ran its series on the lousy job market for new lawyers. Everything changed after that. The blog stuff was just noise. Possible, right? Any contrary evidence? Or do you think Barbara Boxer was reading the blogs?


You demanded evidence, but now present "possibilities" backed by nothing.

Perhaps your comment is intended to be humorous.

If so, very funny! Well done!

And, by the way, you have not even attempted to respond to the questions posed above; your answers will expose your position far better than your comments have to date.

So far, it just seems that you are very confused and angry that there has been criticism of the status quo in legal academia. You apparently believe all of this criticism has been entirely off base and without merit or effect.

If that is your position, then you must be, IMHO, not only angry and confused, but uninformed - perhaps willfully so.

We can't determine this until you make a good faith attempt to read and address some of the reasonable inquiries above.


Read this?

another anon

You didn't answer any questions or produce any evidence or respond in good faith, so stop your childish posturing.

The ABA acted because of the Barbara Boxer letters, go back and read the news accounts. Once the ABA acted, the real employment data started coming out. Then the NY Times ran its series about the terrible job market, and then applications plunged. The timing, together with the wide reach of the NYT, and the fact that there have been many prior cases where front-page NYT stories affect events in the real world, supports that hypothesis.

By contrast, you have no evidence of a law school reform movement, you have named no one in it, and named none of its achievements. It's nice for people ranting on blogs to think their ranting matters. But absent evidence, it seems far more likely that it doesn't matter at all, and that the two events noted above were decisive. Sorry to consign you to irrelevance, but that is probably where you belong.

Former Editor

@ another anon

So, is it your contention that the reform movement had no relationship to Boxer writing letters and the NYT covering the market decline as well? It seems to me that information that reached the general law school applying public (as the reform movement had begun to do at the time that I was applying, as it affected my choices) probably also reached people like Boxer and the NYT. For the record, several NYT articles refer to or quote Campos and Tamahana (just search their names on the NYT website and you will see this).

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