Sunday, March 19, 2017

Rise of the robolawyers

The Atlantic has an article this month on the consumerization of legal AI. The TL;DR is that garden variety civil legal issues are amenable to automation and "bots will become the main entry point into the legal system." The prediction is that by 2025, bots will handle the majority of divorces, contract disputes, and deportation proceedings.

Let me say this: both my work and encounters with vendors give me a good vantage point. I've argued since the early-2000s about technology displacing lawyers and other professionals. It was interesting having someone tell me I wasn't that smart after I posted an image of a production scanner, never mind that I had been to trade shows and met offshoring companies that would handle its output.

At this point I don't care whether you go to law school or not. The main thing you should be aware is that it is now commercially viable to replace lawyers with artificial intelligence, with the technology moving inexorably down the legal food chain. Absent protectionist measures — there won't be any — the writing is on the wall.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Harvard legiTTTimizes a scam

A funny thing happened on the way to this post. I created the above image over a year ago, intending to write about toilets doing an end run around the LSAT by accepting GRE results instead. The gist was that schools needed an innocuous, facially valid test to help get Asses In Seats while concurrently obscuring how dumb the asses actually were. In other words, a rankings scam.

Taking that to its logical conclusion, the best available easily-administered and graded, low-cost, objective test is CAPTCHA. Seriously. I've played Oregon Trail on a teletype, so I'm an expert on typing tests. "BANG!" For bonus irony, CAPTCHA is designed to defeat Artificial Intelligence yet AI will ultimately handle the work that might have gone to toilet graduates.

Harvard, eh, Hahvard, you peons, just threw a monkey wrench into that. The 8,000-pound gorilla of the legal academy announced

Starting in the fall of 2017, Harvard Law School will allow applicants to submit either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) to be considered for admission to its three-year J.D. program.

The pilot program to accept the GRE is part of a wider strategy at Harvard Law School to expand access to legal education for students in the United States and internationally. … The Law School’s decision to accept the GRE will alleviate the financial burden on applicants who would otherwise be required to prepare and pay for an additional test.

The change is supported by an HLS study, designed in 2016 and completed earlier this year, examining, on an anonymized basis, the GRE scores of current and former HLS students who took both the GRE and the LSAT. In accordance with American Bar Association (ABA) Standards for Legal Education, the aim of the study was to determine whether the GRE is a valid predictor of first-year academic performance in law school. The statistical study showed that the GRE is an equally valid predictor of first-year grades.

Let's look at the winners:

  • Harvard, which just expanded its applicant pool amidst an ongoing brain drain as the smartest students avoid law school
  • Columbia and Chicago, which will pick up Harvard's dregs
  • Every toilet from Brooklyn to Costa Mesa. If the most prominent law school in the country says the GRE is a valid proxy then who's to argue? Christmas just came nine months early at Cooley, where disseminating unintentionally humorous irrelevant comparisons to Harvard is an insTTTiTTTuTTTion

The losers:

  • The LSAC, but they'll get over it
  • Anyone going to a school outside the T6. This was also the case before Harvard's change
  • A handful of 170 or 171-LSAT scorers who get Columbia as a consolation prize. It will be interesting if this bulge descends further down the rankings
  • Taxpayers, as toilets prey on a newly-expanded pool of stupid, gullible SJWs

Law school vs dying of dysentery? Tough choice.

Friday, March 10, 2017

February 2017

So much material to post, so little motivation.

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t17.htm

Not seasonally adjustedFebruary20161,112,500
December20161,130,500
January20171,119,200
February20171,119,2006,700
Seasonally adjustedFebruary20161,119,100
December20161,126,100
January20171,126,400
February20171,125,1006,000
Change from Jan-17 to
Feb-17
-1,300

Sunday, February 12, 2017

January 2017

I titled this blog after I graduated law school and was subsequently unable to reconcile a so-called profession's obsession with prestige with its patent scumminess. Scummy practitioners who are miserable human beings. A scummy academy that has driven the best and brightest students away, even as it encourages mediocre ones to matriculate and throw away their life. A scummy accreditor that needs no further comment. A scummy judiciary that blames the victims, aka "sophisticated consumers."

A while ago I reached a point where I not only lost interest in blogging, but even reading other scamblogs I've followed for years.

Anyhow, I popped into TTR recently and saw that Charlotte School of Law is holding a food drive. For its own students. The tl;dr version is the Dept of Education finally put the screws to a law school and cut off Federal loans, something it should have begun in the Joan King era.

Reportedly, the DoE offered to extend loans for the spring semester if the school agreed to shut down, but scumminess won the day. Nando and his commenters have already said all that needs to be, so I'll quit here.

Please give generously. CSL Students' Living Expenses

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t17.htm

Not seasonally adjustedJanuary20161,111,000
November20161,124,700
December20161,130,400
January20171,117,4006,400
Seasonally adjustedJanuary20161,119,400
November20161,122,500
December20161,125,800
January20171,124,9005,500
Change from Dec-16 to
Jan-17
-900

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

December 2016

I'm obviously on top of things.

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t17.htm

Not seasonally adjustedDecember20151,130,000
October20161,128,200
November20161,127,700
December20161,131,9001,900
Seasonally adjustedDecember20151,124,200
October20161,126,100
November20161,125,600
December20161,127,6003,400
Change from Nov-16 to
Dec-16
2,000

Friday, December 2, 2016

November 2016

If I'm inspired, and I probably won't be, I'll comment on this.

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t17.htm

Not seasonally adjustedNovember20151,126,400
September20161,121,100
October20161,127,300
November20161,127,300900
Seasonally adjustedNovember20151,123,800
September20161,124,900
October20161,125,100
November20161,124,600800
Change from Oct-16 to
Nov-16
-500

Sunday, November 27, 2016

OcTTTober 2016

One benefit to being dilatory a lazy POS is that I can watch events unfold and write about them at my leisure. Sometimes I'll have a theme for a post, start a draft, and it will be immediately obviated by the news.

Three things have happened of late.

  • Donald Trump was elected president running on a populist theme
  • Indiana Tech announced it was closing its stillborn law school
  • "Let's see — I can't. The third one, I can't. Sorry. Oops." Oh yeah: California's July bar passage hit a 32-year-low, mirroring other jurisdictions

Just so we're clear, Indiana Tech is the harbinger of nothing. The university already absorbed the substantial sunk cost of starting the school and could have limped along, augmented by offering undergraduate courses, distance learning, and luring foreign students. I've previously opined that as long as law schools keep their expenses in line with revenue — scamsizing™ as it were — they are viable indefinitely. Uncle Sam has made the academy immune to market forces and using business terms and concepts to discuss it is obfuscation. I truly believe that the State of Indiana told the university board to shitcan the school, with this as the last straw. Basically, one well-connected individual contacted one well-connected board member, maybe even in person(!), and that was all it took.

I'm not speculating; I've seen this done. The government has enough harassment tools to obtain cooperation from anyone.

When I was in law skool a long time ago I had a course on business entities. The professor, who was a partner at a large firm, described states falling over themselves to emulate Delaware law as a race-to-the-bottom. He predicted that what the legislatures gave, the courts would take back.

Fast forward to about 2013 and the inception of another race to the bottom, this time with academic credentials of admitted students. As my professor could have predicted, the state bars are digging in. Even doing nothing — leaving the exam and passing score static — is a rational option. The end result is was Indiana Tech.

That brings me to Trump. If you'd asked me last month about the 75% bar-passage requirement to be voted on February 2017 by the ABA's House of Delegates (is that presTTTigious or what?), I'd have speculated a watered-down version would be enacted. Given the overwrought reaction to Trump's election — recounts pending as I type this — I now think no effin' way. Diversity, you know?

Seriously, no sooner had the votes been counted then TTTexas legislators began pushing for yet another school! If I may quote, "[E]verybody has a law school." Does that sound like someone who's worried about the school ultimately being accredited?

Oh, and don't look for debt relief, either. Ever.

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t17.htm

Not seasonally adjustedOctober20151,125,400
August20161,128,000
September20161,121,800
October20161,127,5002,100
Seasonally adjustedOctober20151,123,800
August20161,125,100
September20161,125,400
October20161,125,3001,500
Change from Sep-16 to
Oct-16
-100