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January 04, 2015

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Just saying...

2005?? Ancient history. We all know that the world in which law schools function has changed dramatically since then and no one can predict if the change is permanent.

No one, to my knowledge, has said that the Florida Coastal faculty or any Infilaw faculty, is unqualified or inferior to those at other low tiered schools. It is the students that is the issue.

You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Adam

I hate to come to the (limited) defense of FCSL - and I am in near-total support of every point Frakt has made here on FL - but I think Lawman has sustained his burden.

Obviously, the recent bar passage numbers are appalling. And since it's unlikely FCSL is teaching significantly differently, I'm pretty sure this reflects deterioration in class quality. Overall, it's accurate to say that FCSL has historically done pretty well with bar passage, and one assumes they were able to do this with student bodies that were generally less qualified by LSAT and UGPA numbers than Florida's best schools. I think data going back ten years is relevant and indicative of a school's performance (it's just not conclusive, see below). So, I think it's a mistake - and one I would have made myself - to reject Lawman's claim. The real question is how far his claim can carry him.

The problem (and "just saying" alludes to this) is that this overall decent track record doesn't justify current admission practices that seem likely to continue the downward trends of late. Recalling a point Frakt made on an earlier thread, I suppose FCSL would argue that it's entitled to the benefit of the doubt, based on its record of preparing students for the bar, to have a little breathing room during this downturn. I understand that not everyone here agrees anyone should get breathing room, but I agree with Frakt in principle. But I'm not sure there's enough room for the Infilaw schools to reach as deeply into the applicant pool as their investors apparently demand.

Adam

Lawman

"Anon," you are right, I was using historical data to support my statement about how the school has historically performed. In all forums but one as hostile as this one a bar passage rate of 71.2 %, for example, would be considered as meeting an average rate of was 73%. That's what I meant; we've been about average or above. And the data shows how well we have done. But you are right, 71.2 is 1.8 points lower than 73.

To anyone with a high school education, 81.9 to 77.3 to 71.2 to 80 to 73.7 to 83 to 78 to 74.6 to 75.2 would not be considered "declining performance." If the numbers consistently went down, that would be declining performance. When the numbers go up and down within a small range, the trend is more accurately identified as level, not declining.

"Just saying," you are wrong. Florida Coastal's faculty are as qualified as the faculty at any law school, not just "other lower tiered schools." Do you really think teachers at "lower tiered schools" are not as good as teachers everywhere else? I attended a tier one school and I also taught at one before joining Florida Coastal. The professors at the tier one school published more, but the professors at Florida Coastal are definitely better teachers.

And who are you to say I "can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" when talking about my students? I'll take a student who didn't do well on the LSAT but nonetheless makes it through law school, passes the bar, and makes a great attorney, over one of your students any day.

Do either of you even teach law school? Why don't you tell us where you teach and what the performance numbers are at your school?

Concerned_Citizen

"I'll take a student who didn't do well on the LSAT but nonetheless makes it through law school, passes the bar, and makes a great attorney, over one of your students any day."

Sort of a strange emotional appeal to wrap up with. Almost begging to be pummeled with the notion that, even if 60% of FCSL's students do pass the bar, when fewer than 1/3 of FCSL's students get lawyer jobs (2012 and 2013), the student fitting your description is unfortunately all too rare. Even rarer than that when you consider attrition; some ~ 250 students entering in 2010 failed to graduate in 2013; hopefully the majority of these were transfers...

In any event, I wish them the best of luck.

As for the FCSL faculty, it should be thoroughly reviewed and with pleasure by those who argue one of the problems with legal education is schools packed with professors wholly ignorant of the realities of the profession. I don't think I've quite seen such a depth and breadth of legal practice experience anywhere else.

anon

Lawman

Ok. You are doubling down.

I based conclusions about the accuracy of your statement that "“Florida Coastal School of Law students have historically met or exceeded the average bar pass rate in Florida" on YOUR COMMENT, to wit:

"I checked the Florida Bar website. Florida Coastal's bar pass rate was 83% for 2009, 78% for 2010, 74.6% for for 2011, 75.2% for 2012 and, as those providing comments are quick to point out, our rates have really dropped over the last two years."

As noted by another comment: “FCLS's 2014 bar results were worse... at a 58% pass rate, it came in 10th of 11 schools with only Ave Maria doing more poorly (56.6%). Absent these two schools, the average is 76% (including them, 72.7).”

These are declining results, which has been, as noted above, the point of this thread. To deny this, and to quibble at this point to defend your false statement does not bestow honor on Florida Coastal.

And, you have the temerity to insult the intelligence of the commentators on this site, and claim that this statement was accurate:

“Florida Coastal School of Law students have historically met or exceeded the average bar pass rate in Florida."

Had you added, "but for the last five years …" perhaps no one would have notices or quibbled with your bravado. But, as is, you made a flat factual statement that was demonstrably false, and now you are contending that pointing that out indicates a low level of intelligence. "Hostility" to a misleading statement apparently made without knowledge of the truth? Well, yes. Quite so. In another context, one suspects you might feel the same way.

As is, one can only shudder at the thought that you consider yourself to be an expert in educating. Your posts here have been an embarrassment, not enlightening. It may be that your students would benefit more from a bit more humility and honesty, and a forthright admission of error when appropriate, it seems to this observer. Your arrogant response is sort of shame and does not indicate the temperament of a seeker of knowledge and truth.

anon

A bit more facts, for the record, from the comments above:

"2010-2012 their students were hovering a bit below average with essentially 75% each year (state averages 79, 80, 80).

Then in 2013 their July takers dropped significantly to 67% (state average abt 77), then again tanked for 2014 with the above-mentioned 58%."

No way that it was accurate to state categorically and without qualification: "“Florida Coastal School of Law students have historically met or exceeded the average bar pass rate in Florida."

Given the obviously declining pass rates, coming in well below the state average, to claim otherwise is sort of inexplicable and, frankly, bizarre. Students (and those seeking the position of Dean) may need to accept brow beating from the Florida Coastal folks in their effort to obfuscate, but not here.

Former Editor

Lawman,

Thank you for explaining the years you are referring to when you indicated a historic rate "meeting or exceeding" Florida's rate and that what you mean by "meet" is "be within a few points of" rather than "equal", which is how I initially read your comment. I apologize if that initial reading seems "hostile" but the recent history of law school information disclosure has lead me to read most assertions with a skeptical eye. After all, that is what the courts indicated that prospective law students ought have been doing all along. For the record, I agree with Adam, and disagree with anon, that we should not read any duplicity into your statement.

Thank you also for, indirectly, answering my second question as to whether, in the context of the discussion surrounding Dean Conison and Prof. Frankt's posts, bar pass rates that are "historic" in the sense of representing the first half of the prior decade are relevant. It seems that you believe that they are. I also agree with Adam that, while not totally without some value, those indicators don't really inform the discussion, which has been about the recent practices of Infilaw schools, which you seem to admit have not gone well in terms of bar passage . I hope that we can renew this discussion two or three years from now, when Prof. Frankt's predictions about the most recently admitted classes are fully put to the test.

Also, for the record, I agree with you that criticism of the faculties of Infilaw schools in particular neither all that fair or that productive. My understanding of how things work in those schools is that shared faculty governance, to the extent that it exists, is minimal and probably plays little role in your admissions policies. I applaud your willingness to defend your students and your teaching ability. The fact that you are still in this discussion and that you went to find the data to support your position speaks very well of you as an educator.

lawman

This is in response to David Frakt's comment:

The points I was making were directed to some of the commenters on this blog, not you. I think their hostility to the faculty, and disparagement of the students at Florida Coastal, is unjustified and unproductive, and reflects poorly on the educational community.

"Anon" is proving to be a good example of what I am referring to. He or she didn't answer my questions or respond to the points I made. He is quibbling with my choice of words, in a particularly nasty way, for his own purposes.

I think it should be noted that anyone can post comments on this blog, not just legal educators. We are all familiar with the proliferation of blogs by bitter, entitled law students disparaging the institutions they attended.

I suspect some of those bloggers also post on this site.

Nathan A

"bitter, entitled law students disparaging the institutions they attended"

Entitled? Really?

anon

Lawman

It is funny that, you post anonymously, and then complain that "anyone" can post on this site, claiming to be whomever they choose.

FE: I went out of the way to say that I did not attribute any duplicity to Lawman's misrepresentation. I pointed out that it was obvious that he only went to check the "facts" (he still doesn't accurately report those facts) after challenged, and thus, he made a false statement with disregard for the truth (just as bad, perhaps).

It was only after Lawman doubled down, after seeing the comments, and stuck to the bogus assertion that something more than just a mistake seemed clear. This, combined with conflating those comments that disparaged the students with those that called out yet another seeming effort to obfuscate negative results, seemed remarkable in this context, and deserving of some strong criticism.

Now, Lawman is flailing around and failing to convincingly defend this statement that Florida Coastal has met or exceeded the state bar pass rates "historically" (which meant, according to the dictionary, exactly what any reader would have reasonably believed it meant, and what Lawman obviously intended it to convey, as we now know). First, he lashes out in anger at anyone who points out the error, now he is condemning his former students, apparently believing that they must be angry because he is still suggesting that Florida Coastal's grads will meet or exceed state wide bar pass rates.

We need to put Lawman's conduct in context. It is indicative of the larger problem, to be sure. It is for the readers of his statements, and his defense of them, to decide whether he misrepresented the facts, then carried on almost hysterically when challenged, and whether he still just doesn't get the point of the Frakt post to which this entire discussion relates.

anonymous lawyer

Strawman rhymes with Lawman.

Nobody is attacking students or teachers. The criticism of the Infilaw scam-schools is that they are knowingly taking money from prospective students ill equipped to handle law schoool work, pass the bar exam, or fine gainful employment in the profession.

Please respond to Frakt's point about declining test scores being directly related to declining academic standards over the past few years, rendering your old numbers meaningless.

Just saying...

"Just saying," you are wrong. Florida Coastal's faculty are as qualified as the faculty at any law school, not just "other lower tiered schools." Do you really think teachers at "lower tiered schools" are not as good as teachers everywhere else? I attended a tier one school and I also taught at one before joining Florida Coastal. The professors at the tier one school published more, but the professors at Florida Coastal are definitely better teachers.

LAWMAN: Let's be honest. If you and your colleagues could move to a tier one law school would you stay at Florida Coastal? I have no doubt that many profs are good teachers, in fact, I think that some of the mid to lower-tiered schools probably have more better teachers than elite schools, but as we know, scholarship, academic credentials, clerkships, prior employment, etc. all go into the mix in evaluating the quality of a faculty.


And who are you to say I "can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" when talking about my students? I'll take a student who didn't do well on the LSAT but nonetheless makes it through law school, passes the bar, and makes a great attorney, over one of your students any day.

LAWMAN: I am sure you heard that saying before and it was not aimed at you personally, but since you brought it up, how many students have you personally taught who have done what you state: graduated, passed the bar (on the first try) and become a great attorney? And since you do not know where I worked, how can you dismiss the students at my former schools in such a way? For the record, I worked at schools in the NYC area, none of them elite, but they provided a solid education, have always had bar pass rates above the state average and consistently placed students in good jobs, with some going on to top firms. If course, they have now had to lower standards and shrink class size to stay viable, but I dare say, they have not, and will never, sink to the levels of Infilaw schools when it comes to student credentials.

Lawman

According to a Bloomberg Businessweek article dated yesterday and entitled "Getting Into Law School Is Easier Than It Used to Be, and That's Not Good,""A paper released last month by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, the nonprofit that creates part of the bar exam, shows that since 2010, 95 percent of the 196 U.S. law schools at least partially accredited by the American Bar Association for which the NCBE had data lowered their standards for students near the bottom of the pack."

Is the information in that article relevant to the discussion here or is this just for Infilaw bashing?

Concerned_Citizen

Lawman, it is indeed relevant that many more schools than the bottom-bottom-bottom are in the last ~ 3 years dipping deeper into the applicant pool than they used to. Jerry Organ's got some good number crunching on qualification slippage from 2010-2014 across all ABA schools, although I wish he'd reformat some of the charts. I'll find a link to that and post it when I can (offhand, I suspect one of these recent articles here on TFL link to it also).

Still, scope and scale matter. The deepest dippers, if you will, those with the most preposterous, essentially open admissions policies, are the three Infilaw schools plus schools like Inter American, Ave Maria, Cooley, Valpo and Texas Southern. Schools having a large portion of their entering classes with LSAT scores under the 15th percentile of test takers.

Think about that. A quarter of your students failing to hit 15th percentile on the LSAT. Chances of graduating, passing the bar, and becoming an excellent, successful attorney?

anon

Lawman:

I, for one, agree that bashing "for profit" law schools doesn't make sense, as the "not for profit" law schools pay about the same, and do just as the "not for profit" schools do, in many instances.

That doesn't make what you have said here correct, though, nor does it address Frakt's point.

You are once again arguing a straw man, Lawman. It is sort of the same as your argument that it was ok recently to be almost the lowest rank law school in Fl(in terms of bar pass rates), because other schools pass rates slipped too. or, your argument that Florida Coastal hasn't already seen declining pass rates, just as Frakt is predicting.

Please, Lawman, think about what you are doing here.


Lawman

My point is you are scapegoating the Infilaw schools. They are not the only offenders and they are not the worst offenders. But your venom is directly exclusively at Infilaw.

I also think the hostility of many of the commenters on this site is in many cases misplaced. They not only blame Infilaw but they also seem to have contempt for anyone else associated with the schools.

Anon, my friend, you suggest I think about what I am doing. I suggest you listen more carefully to what I am saying and, more importantly, not saying.

I am not arguing that lower standards and lower bar pass rates are a good thing. They obviously aren't. And I am not arguing that there is no connection between the two. There obviously is.

Take a look at that article I cited (it's on line). The author found that "95 percent of the 196 U.S. law schools . . . lowered their standards for students near the bottom of the pack."

If that statistic is correct, then where is the search for "knowledge and truth" in these comments?

David Frakt

Lawman -

Actually, InfiLaw schools are the worst offenders, by far, representing three of the four schools in the country with the lowest LSAT profiles this year. And InfiLaw schools are very large, so they represent a huge percentage of the sub 144 students being admitted throughout the country. This is not InfiLaw bashing, this is just stating the facts. See my newest post http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2015/01/parsing-the-bloomberg-businessweek-article-and-the-ncbe-report.html

You will be pleased to see that I called out other offenders there as well.

Lawman

I thought the BusinessWeek article said that Emory had the biggest drop; and then you pointed out that the drop at Suffolk was even bigger.

Where is the data supporting your statement that "InfiLaw schools are the worst offenders, by far, representing three of the four schools in the country with the lowest LSAT profiles this year"?

My understanding is that the schools with the lowest LSAT score range are Southern University, Florida A&M, Thomas Cooley, North Carolina Central, Texas Southern, University of Detroit, Ave Mara, Thomas Jefferson, Oklahoma City, Nova and Appalachian.

In any event, yes, I appreciate your calling out the many other offenders as well. Thank you!

Nathan A

"Is the information in that article relevant to the discussion here or is this just for Infilaw bashing?"

Not really. The bottom tier students at Emory and Georgetown still have scores well north of those at Infilaw schools.

The lowest ranked/least desirable law schools are the ones that have to worry about dipping too low in the LSAT pool simply because there's just not that much room below them. Yeah, life's unfair. Hopefully, that doesn't come as a shock.

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