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August 14, 2014


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If the ABA was serious about the rules or enforcement thereof, they would investigate FCSL immediately. It is quite clear there is zero faculty governance, zero faculty input into admissions, and revenue-taking on a grand scale. I doubt that even their PR hacks on the Atlantic page believe their median 144 class has a great chance on the bar exam in 3 years, and the class starting in 2014 is likely to be even weaker. For-profit has no place in higher ed, and is even less appropriate in the law school context.

Just saying...

You are correct,Anon. But as the Campos piece points out, the ABA Section of Legal Ed has been "captured" by representatives from the lowered tiered schools, all of whom have a vested interest in doing nothing. This has been the case for some time, long before the current decline in apps. In fact, I can't remember a time when deans, faculty, admins from the top-tier schools played a significant role in the accreditation process or held positions of importance in the Section of Legal Ed. In my years of involvement with the Section and time on site inspection teams, it has always been the mid to lower tiered schools that were represented on committees and teams.

What has to happen is that the "big" ABA takes a very hard look at the Section and shake it up. What is going on in legal education clearly impacts all members of the ABA and the profession as a whole, so this should be something of importance to the ABA overall.


Wow, the guy Frakt was a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve and got a guy out of Guantánamo. Seems pretty impressive to me I for one would have like to see his power point presentation.

confused by your post

Ben Barros wrote about finding common ground in legal industry internet discussions. Perhaps for-profit law schools is a topic that people from a wide spectrum of the legal profession can find some common ground on. For-profit law schools as they are currently constituted harm so many members of our profession (directly or indirectly) and benefit so few that I have to think that all here can unite push back against these schools.

If there is agreement that these for-profit law schools are a problem. It seems to me the next step is to collaborate on solutions.

Obligatory Movie Reference

You want the truth, Lt. Col. Frakt?

You can't handle the truth.

Just saying...

Confused: Who is supposed to "collaborate on solutions"? Who has the power/authority to do anything about these schools, as well as the non-profits that are not much better, as Campos notes?

That is what the Section of Legal Ed and the accreditation standards and process is supposed to do -- ensure the quality of legal education, ensure good outcomes for students and the public they will represent. Unfortunately, as presently constituted the Section is not doing that. Standards are not adequate (strong enough) and those in charge have no real desire to go after (shut down) the Florida Coastals because their schools are not all that much better.


Law profs from respectable schools,

Why do you throw in with the diploma mills? These guys are threatening your collective bacon. Save the system, and reform the ABA committee on legal ed. Can't you see what's happening?

confused by your post

The road to solving a complex problem like the one presented by for-profit law schools will take time and many steps. Here, one of those initial steps is to solicit comments and ideas from various stakeholders and legal industry professionals regarding what may be done to address the problem. That's where we are right now.

All feel free to contribute thoughts.

Just saying...

Confused: There have been many conferences, articles, online discussions about what is wrong with legal ed and higher ed and little gets accomplished. The ABA Section of Legal Ed has an ongoing process of reviewing and amending standards and very little substantive change is usually made to those standards (see recent proposal to eliminate the tenur requirement). Certainly, there have been no drastic changes to standards on bar passage, employment and sanctions for not meeting existing standards.

In terms of solving the problem of for-profits, one or two steps would suffice: No federal loan money goes to a for profit school. Better yet, place a low cap on the $$ students can borrow for graduate schools. What had drove the increase in law schools and law school enrollment, as Campos notes, was all the freely available loan money.

I once (very briefly) worked at a low-ranked college, which bascially had open admissions and the president admitted that without the federal loan money the place would cease to exist.


The Campos post linked to was sponsored by University of Phoenix. Irony!


Campos finally seems to have figured out that law schools are businesses. What took him so long?


Confused: I doubt Ben Barros would want everyone to find "common ground" on the failings of for-profit schools. His own school has a median LSAT only a point higher than two of the Infilaw schools, and a point LOWER than the third. The reason why the academy is reluctant to go after the for-profit schools is there are plenty of "legitimate" non-profit law schools that are similarly horrible.

The simple fact is more and more law schools are admitting students who are not smart enough to practice law competently. And for a lot of them it's not because they were "failed" somehow by their undergraduate education but simply that they are on a neurobiological level not able to master a lot of the material.



Not sure that intelligence is tested by the LSAT, but wow, the LSAT tests "neurobiological level." Who knew?

That is not to say that there is not a high correlation between low LSAT and bar passage rates. There is.

But, adequate test performance and arguably analytical ability, albeit probably necessary to the effective practice of law, do not seem to me to be necessarily determinative of intelligence: which takes many forms. These performance measures, IMHO, are influenced more by preparation by reason of education and environment.

If you are a law prof, one shudders at the thought the legal academy harbors one with notions like the one you've expressed. Especially anyone who has taught first years knows how ridiculous (and dangerous) that comment sounds.


Don't be intentionally obtuse, anon. Do you concede that competent legal practice requires a certain level of intelligence, even if it's not an especially high one? Is it so unbelievable that someone scoring in the 130's on the LSAT might lack that intelligence? Of course education and environment is the primary determinant determinant of test scores, but intelligence (IN THE SENSE OF WHAT IS NEEDED FOR THE PRACTICE OF LAW) is highly determinative as well. If you cannot parse a simple paragraph and identify the main point in the LSAT after 4 years of college, how are you going to do that in law school, on the bar, or in practice?



First, according to Merriam-Webster, "neurobiology" is a "branch of the life sciences that deals with the anatomy, physiology, and pathology of the nervous system." Speaking of students as not being on the appropriate "neurobiological level" in this context is not only inaccurate, but evokes some suspect theories about how the anatomy of humans may affect problem solving, language skills, etc.

Of course, I agree that "competent legal practice requires a certain [type] of intelligence." But, the LSAT is not a psychometric test, and doesn't claim to be.

Analytical and problem solving abilities are certainly relevant to probable success on the bar and in practice.
As stated above, the LSAT measures these and other skills imperfectly, but at the lowest percentiles performance on the LSAT is highly correlated with inability to pass the bar, etc. And, I would agree that law schools do a disservice to admitted students, violate the ABA standards, and act unethically if admitting such students simply to survive and maintain revenue to support faculty and administrative positions.

But, please, don't throw around statements like this: "[law schools are admitting students who] are on a neurobiological level not able to master a lot of the material." As stated above, that statement is, at least in my view, offensive and insults persons on specious grounds.


Suspect theories? Anon, what do you think we use to make decisions and judgments? If you think thought processes are done in some higher plane and not dependent on neural activity then we are never going to have any common ground here.


I'll try posting my views as an interesting experiment - most of my posts here get blocked [brief off-topic allusion to MacK's dispute with a third party deleted—MM]

First, the LSAT (and the GRE general and the GMAT) are essentially IQ or intelligence tests. They can be taught up to a point so that preparation will improve performance - but at the end of the day, they are intelligence tests, prep can only do so much. Is the LSAT more adapted as a test for the sort of intelligence required to practice law - well I took it 20+ years ago and there was no difference worth mentioning over the GRE-general and the GMAT. I do not believe that has changed - ergo, low score on the LSAT/GMAT/GRE = poorly prepared or not very intelligent.

Second, the bar exam in most states (including the two toughest CA and NY), is, assuming someone has access to a decent bar prep course, a sort of intelligence test - a pile of material relevant to questions that likely will be asked - can the candidate learn how to present the right answers. In most state bar exams - they need to be pretty dumb or have some major exam taking issue (which would not be good anyway in practice) to flunk the bar after Bar-Bri or whatever prep course they took.

Third, practicing law does not require a genius level IQ, but it is not a profession for a complete moron either. Lawyers represent clients - typically less educated and less informed than the lawyer they hope they are hiring (at least in the field that the lawyer claims to be knowledgeable.) Clients in their personal terms pay huge amounts (often close to or more what law students pay in tuition) to get the advice of lawyers that they believe to be more knowledgeable, more skilled, more aware and overall more "savvy" than the client - and those clients pay that sort of money because they typically have life-changing or future-destroying possible outcomes that they think the lawyer could help prevent (and law students take on, inter alia, levels of debt that are life-changing or future-destroying believing the law school they go to will help (90% of the time.))

So at the end of the day we have a chain - which in theory consists of the following:

(1) Law Schools take on skilled legal educators with deep knowledge of the law and of practice (oh dear!) ->

(2)the law schools recruit students with at least the level of intelligence necessary to be able to represent clients whose economic and indeed actual lives are at stake (not many law schools these days) ->

(3) there is a test called the LSAT designed to filter out those who lack the the level of intelligence necessary to be able to represent clients whose economic and indeed actual lives are at stake (and the score on that test has become essentially irrelevant at many law schools) ->

(4) to ensure that enough of who have the level of intelligence necessary to be able to represent clients whose economic and indeed actual lives are at stake, law schools are supposed not to admit those who do not have decent scores on that test to law school (but many are doing so anyway, at least this year) ->

(5) When "skilled legal educators" have spend 3 years in mostly debt financed education efforts on the products of (1)-(4) there is a test called the bar exam, designed to find out if the "skilled legal educators" have made enough progress with the these very-intelligent-young-adults that it is acceptable for them to get involved in the situations of clients whose economic and indeed actual lives are at stake.

And because law schools have been ignoring (1)-(4) there is a problem of their graduates failing the minimal test that in most states is the bar exam. Good grief, the bar exam is a trivial and easy test - I passed NY - with a high pass, first time, after 2 weeks study - believe me, not passing the bar is hard. To be more blunt (1)-(4) are broken and (5) is a dubious gate given the trust that is placed in those who pass the bar exam in most states. I am far from convinced that many law schools, and their faculties, especially those admitting students with sub 145 LSATs, even care about (1)-(5) above.


I am deeply puzzled - was "confused by your post" comment about:

"here, one of those initial steps is to solicit comments and ideas from various stakeholders and legal industry professionals regarding what may be done to address the problem"

intended to mock the usual response from any group trying to delay addressing a pressing problem (i.e., "lets set up a committee to ask everyone what they think - give them 3-15 years to report"), or was it a serious post. I mean it did actually seemed to me to be facetious, but those replying took it seriously. Confused, were you joking?

I'm not joking by the way - I thought is was an elegant piece of mockery, until posters started treating it as serious.



Confused's comment was probably mockery, given C's comments on the Barros thread.

The mockery is actually even more hilarious when you consider that C takes to reading and participating in blog comment threads to make C's point that comment threads are useless.


Ah, he's trying to emulate the great Brian O'Nolan (a genius who deserves more recognition):

Most of his later writings were occasional pieces published in periodicals, which explains why his work has only recently come to enjoy the considered attention of literary scholars. O'Nolan was notorious for his prolific use and creation of pseudonyms for much of his writing, including short stories, essays, and letters to editors, which has rendered the compilation of complete bibliography of his writings an almost impossible task. He allegedly would write letters to the editor of The Irish Times complaining about his own articles published in that newspaper, for example in his regular Cruiskeen Lawn column, which gave rise to rampant speculation as to whether the author of a published letter existed or not. Not surprisingly, little of O'Nolan's pseudonymous activity has been verified.

See Wikipedia

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