Monday, May 30, 2011

Thanks, Vets

Today is Memorial Day in the United States. I would be remiss if I didn't take time from my bitching to recognize those who made the supreme sacrifice, as well as those who have either served or are serving.

Dean PresTTTige?

I've climbed every mountain, swam every river, crossed every ocean, and reached the pinnacle of my career. Not only do I have an ABA law degree, but also a Costco membership. What challenge remains? I know, law school dean!

From (click to embiggen)

University with multiple accreditation and licenses is seeking to merge or sell to a private owner. The University was established in 1999 primarily as a legal education school. The University offers a Juris Doctor degree in Law, Associate degrees in legal education, courses meeting requirements for the State of CA Certified Paralegal Accreditation and Immigration Legal Assistant Certificate. The University is not limited as to the type of curriculum developed. The current owner focused on Legal Education. The school's license does not restrict content. The University is also able to issue Visa's to International Students seeking to study at the school. The student body is diverse. School purchase includes asset sale of legal library, course curriculum and leasehold improvements. The course curriculum is custom developed by the current owner, a licensed attorney. This business has the ability to grow in multiple ways. The courses are not yet online, however most competitive schools offer courses online. There is an opportunity to develop online classes as well as develop additional courses. To continue to operate the law school, the new owner must hire an Administrator/Dean who holds a license by the California Bar Association or have this credential themselves.
For more information regarding this listing please contact us by completing the "Contact the Seller" form to the left. We look forward to hearing from you.
What an inspiration I would be to my disciples, strolling the rooms of my leased 2,500 ft² facility in my elegant attire, arriving in my leased Altima, and departing with my leased companion.

Ninety-five grand cash flow = models & bottles, and the sky is truly the limit! That reminds me: Space Law LLM.

Best thing is the hard lifting is already done; the school's extant and licensed. Get the dumbass seller to finance it and it will self-amortize.

Spend the morning on TLS with my sock puppets telling idiots how awesome the school is, work with my online learning subcontractor in the afternoon, and do random sobriety checks on my instructors in the evening. Throw in occasional $1K political contributions to keep the gravy train flowing and I can keep it going until I retire.

There's some pesky rules, but nothing a good lawyer can't handle. Here's my favorite:
Rule 4.107 Student complaints

The Committee does not intervene in disputes between a student and a law school. It retains complaints about a law school submitted by students and considers those complaints in assessing the law school’s compliance with these rules.

Rule 4.107 adopted effective January 1, 2009.

Enshrined in law above is the Prime Directive of schools everywhere: Faculty and administrators count. Students don't.

If any readers would like to lend me the down payment, I'll gladly repay you when the tuition checks start rolling in.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The shiTTT finally hits the fan

Anna AlaburdaThomas Jefferson School of Law, exemplar of fourth-tier shitholes, has been hit with a 50-million-dollar class action lawsuit by an alumna alleging intentional fraud. Reaction from the damned has been vindication over what most of them saw as inevitable.

Anna Alaburda, pictured, graduated with honors from TJ, owes $150K, and has never found full-time legal work. Her undergrad degree is from NYU.

She is suing on behalf of herself and other individuals who were students at TJSL. There are potentially more than 2,300 members in the Class.

The Complaint itself reads like a contemporary, well-researched, articulated, and documented scamblog post, replete with citations to unfavorable news coverage. Indeed, in some places it's a little too breezy. Some choice excerpts:
"For more than 15 years, TJSL has churned out law school graduates (my emphasis)"

"In order to attract students despite these dismal figures, TJSL has adopted a practice of misrepresenting its post-graduation employment statistics."

"At the end of the day, TJSL is more concerned with raking in millions of dollars in tuition and fees than educating and training its students."

"In order to attract larger numbers of prospective students, law schools nationwide have adopted the practice of inflating statistics and presenting misleading figures to U.S. News & World Report, as well as the American Bar Association ("ABA"). Students are unaware that these statistics are false and misleading, and they frequently rely on the false statistics in deciding which law school to attend."

"Law schools are also believed to be manipulating post-graduation employment statistics, as well as median salary information for their graduates."

"This method has been described as a "bait and swtich [sic]" as to prospective law students."

"What should students expect in exchange for the hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt they incur in student loans in order to receive a diploma from TJSL? In 2007, TJSL's bar passage was 35.6 percent, among the lowest in the country; and the most recent figures reveal that TJSL's passage rate remains under 50 percent, well below the state average."

"TJSL's average student indebtedness in 2010-2011 was $137,352, which is among the highest in the nation...."

"On information and belief, TJSL provides false and inaccurate information directly to U.S. News & World Report with the understanding that the false and inaccurate information will be disseminated to the public."

"In other words, if graduates accept part time employment working as a waiter or a clerk at a convenience store, they are considered to be "employed nine months after graduation."
There are five counts.
  1. Violation of Business & Professions Code §17200 et seq. - Unfair Competition Law ("UCL") for unfair and fraudulent business practices
  2. Violation of Business & Professions Code §17500 et seq. - False Advertising Act
  3. Fraud - engag(ing) in a pattern and practice of knowingly and intentionally making numerous false representations of material fact, and material omissions, with the intent to deceive and/or induce reliance
  4. Violation of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act - misrepresentation of post-graduation employment rates
  5. Negligent misrepresentation - making material representations and omissions with no reasonable grounds for believing them to be true
I'm not familiar with California law. My layman's opinion is that unless they find something damning during discovery -- and they well might -- this suit isn't going anywhere. A school's usual defense is that it took tuition money in exchange for a legal education, which the plaintiff received; it made no guarantees; and, it's complying with ABA requirements. Further, much of the Complaint refers to US Snooze despite the school having no control over its editorial content.

One aspect of the Complaint I found fascinating is the reference to the faculty and staff being members of the California bar and implying they breached their ethical responsibilities. I think this would be a fertile second front to open up in California and other states: File ethics complaints against law school administrators.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Senator Boxer again goes after ABA

Press Release of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
For Immediate Release:

May 20, 2011
Contact: Washington D.C. Office (202) 224-3553

Boxer Continues to Urge American Bar Association to Improve Accuracy and Transparency of Data Reporting by Law Schools

Senator Recognizes Initial Steps by ABA, But Calls For Stronger Oversight of Reporting by Law Schools and Better Access to Information For Students

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today wrote a letter to the American Bar Association (ABA) acknowledging the group’s initial steps to address the accuracy and transparency of information for prospective law school students, but also urging the ABA to strengthen its oversight of admissions and post-graduation information reported by law schools and improve access to information for law students across the country.

Boxer’s letter follows an earlier letter on this subject, which was a response to recent news reports that have highlighted several law schools allegedly using misleading post-graduation employment and salary information to enhance a school’s position in the competitive and influential U.S. News and World Report annual rankings. Such inaccurate data can mislead prospective law students into believing they will easily be able to find work as an attorney and pay off their loans despite a sharp decline in full-time employment for law school graduates.

The full text of the Senator’s letter is below:

May 20, 2011
Stephen N. Zack
American Bar Association
321 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60654-7598

Dear Mr. Zack:

Thank you for your response to my letter regarding the transparency and accuracy of post-graduation employment and salary information reported by law schools.

I was encouraged to learn that in June the Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar will be considering recommendations on how the ABA can improve access to accurate and transparent information for prospective law school students. I view this as a positive step toward improved standards, but before completing its work on these important recommendations, I urge the Section to address some other important issues.

1. Independent Oversight

It is troubling that the recommendations do not address the need for independent oversight of the data law school deans submit to the ABA and publications like U.S. News and World Report. The Section’s recommendations would allow law schools to continue to submit unaudited data, despite the fact that a lack of oversight has been identified by many observers as a major problem.

The editor of U.S. News and World Report wrote a letter to all law school deans, noting a “crisis of confidence in the law school sector” and asked deans to be more vigilant in their data reporting. This letter and the recent news that a well-known law school admitted to knowingly reporting inaccurate data to the ABA for years indicates that independent oversight must surely be a part of any reform proposal.

2. Easy Access for Students to Information

The ABA should undertake efforts to ensure that students have easy access to post-graduation employment and salary information. Prospective students should not have to search far and wide for information so critical to determining their futures. To achieve this goal the ABA should make it standard practice for law schools to post links to this information on website homepages, and to include these documents in acceptance notices.

I would be remiss not to mention a very troubling New York Times article on law school merit scholarships. The article detailed the recent increase in the number of merit scholarships offered by law schools and demonstrated how scholarships are being used to convince students with high LSAT scores to attend lower-ranked law schools.

While the opportunity to earn a very expensive law degree at a fraction of the cost can be an attractive option for many students, the Times exposed a major problem with scholarship transparency. Many law schools not only fail to make it clear that prospective students must meet minimum GPA requirements, they also do not disclose how the law school’s grading curve can prohibit all students offered scholarships from maintaining the benefit every year.

It was reported that at one school, 57 percent of first-year students in one class year received a merit scholarship, but only one-third of the students in that entire class received a GPA high enough to maintain a scholarship. In the Times article, an ABA official admitted he was unaware of any problems with merit scholarships, and noted that the ABA does not ask schools to report how many students lose their scholarships each year and does not publish any information for prospective students on this subject.

I look forward to reviewing the results of the Section’s June meeting, as well as your response to the merit scholarship issue.


Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

JDU pwns ATL

JDU wags collaborated on a fanciful Craigslist shitlaw job listing that one of the regulars then posted in the Chicago market. It soon found its way to both shitlawjobs and ATL. Unfortunately, she pulled it shortly afterward.

The sad thing is that a truly wretched law job description received real responses and didn't seem contrived enough to arouse suspicion at ATL.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hoosier Daddy

This is my latest post based on an aged draft. My style is to collect a bunch of ideas at once, save them as drafts, and work on them as time permits. Amazingly, they can become obsolete in one week.

I was going to comment on TaxProf blog's May 10th law school status update. As if on cue, Indiana Tech announced plans May 16th to open the state's fifth law school.

Both Restoring Dignity to the Law and the Indianapolis Star have good articles on it so I needn't waste much breath. Let's just say that Indiana Tech is unabashedly poaching Cooley's market. Meanwhile, University of Indiana, currently ranked #23 by US Snooze, is having trouble placing its graduates.

If Indiana Tech were a public institution then I would have had put in an FOIA request or its state equivalent for the studies supporting this school. Apparently, the only thing it considered is whether there's a market for a law school, not its graduates. The title of this post is what alumni are going to hear from creditors.


So, here's the roundup

Now accepting lemmings

Lincoln Memorial University (Knoxville, TN)
UC-Irvine (Irvine, CA)

Accepting lemmings 2011

Belmont University (Nashville, TN)

Accepting lemmings 2012

Concordia University (Boise, ID)
Louisiana College Judge Paul Pressler School of Law (Shreveport, LA)

Accepting lemmings 2013

Indiana TTTech, (Fort Wayne, IN)
University of North Texas (Dallas, TX)

Accepting lemmings 2017

SUNY-Binghamton (Binghamton, NY)

Bitch slapped by Maine Supreme Court

Husson University (Bangor, ME)

Shelved in display of decency atypical of legal education

University of Delaware (Newark, DE)
Wilkes University (Wilkes-Barre, PA)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

ABA outsourcing its annual meeting

America's phoniest "professional" organization is holding its 2011 annual meeting in Toronto. Canada. Thought you'd like to know that.

Monday, May 16, 2011

U R Screwed

Graduation time! The combination of stumbling across an article about Ave Maria's graduation and being in a pissy mood led to this post. Domino's Pizza School of Law is a Florida Tier 4 Catholic institution with a 150-median LSAT. But, doesn't everyone look excited to begin their new life? Click on the link for more pix.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Economist magazine agrees with me?

I see the Economist and I are on the same page. Granted I'm mosiach, Warren Buffet, and the Delphic Oracle combined, but it's gratifying to have my convicTTTions validated by such an august entity.
"Ultimately, lawyering is becoming more of a business than a profession."
Well, hit me with a 2x4. Ever wonder why my blog has Profession in quotation marks? Funny, this article is dated May 2011; it's about 30 years late.

There is nothing new, here, to anyone who follows the legal industry even casually. The main import is that it appeared in a widely-read and respected publication. The only reason I'm blogging about it is I started a draft a while ago and didn't want to let it languish. Which is a piss poor reason. Whatever.

The article leads off with Howrey LLP's dissolution. The firm's circling the drain led to much breathless (and witless) writing on ATL. The ultimate cause of death was partners defecting because profits weren't at their accustomed >$1MM/partner/yr. Pundits, including The Economist, can wax all they want on structural changes in the industry, but the firm was killed by old-fashioned greed and mismanagement, same as from time immemorial. Unlike a typical business failure, Howrey was never insolvent, and its investors (equity partners) landed on their feet elsewhere, each presumably with his or her book of business intact.

There's a much better article in the Washington Post that traces the firm's rise and fall. It also discusses structural changes, but the main one is the demise of the general partnership structure that bound partners to the firm and limited risk taking. Seems quaint, but around the time I was in school, associates who had been offered a partnership were advised to check the firm's financial condition, especially unfunded pension obligations. Also see Finley, Crumble.

I note Howrey set up "a back office in Pune, India, to provide low-cost legal research." Snort.

The interesting aspect of the Economist article is its predictions on what firms are likely to thrive in today's economy.
  • Elite New York-based firms such as Sullivan & Cromwell that restrict their locations to business centers
  • Smaller, highly-specialized firms such as Wachtell that can command a price premium, or, as one of our salesdroids used to call it, a "sustainable competitive advantage"
  • Certain global firms such as Baker & McKenzie that have a viable business model and management that can execute it (my emphasis)
TLS members should make it a point to work only for firms positioned as described above lest their careers be derailed, though BigGov is also acceptable.

My favorite part of the Economist article was the discussion on protectionism. Other countries severely or completely prohibit foreigners from practicing local law. Meanwhile, over at the ABA, they're not only exporting legal work as fast as they can — until it blows up in their faces — but also subjecting the locals to CLE, mandatory pro bono, bar dues, etc.

How I wish this were the real profession I thought I was entering.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Be handsome. Be attractive. And, don't be unaTTTractive

Hartford Business Journal, which normally doesn't attract much attention outside its locale, recently got plenty with an article about lawyer debt reaching an all-time high.
From 2001 to 2010, the average amount borrowed annually by law students for their three-year degrees increased 50 percent, according to the American Bar Association. This past academic year, law students borrowed an average of $68,827 for public educations and $106,249 for private educations.
That would be on top of any undergrad debt.
Law school debt increases the cost of legal services. As lawyers repay loans, firms must compensate to meet their loan and cost-of-living demands. Law school debt essentially means a lawyer must make $200,000 or more above what the holder of a bachelor’s degree will make over a lifetime, to have the investment break even.
Other than the numbers themselves, there is little new, here. The piece shills for T2 UConn as a cost-effective public law school whose in-state tuition is half the price of the private Connecticut schools. My guess is most of its students didn't cross-shop Yale. I'm also guessing that Connecticut taxpayers don't mind subsidizing a law school in the supersaturated New England market.

The $200,000 number was pulled out of someone's ass; it omits both opportunity cost and the time value of money. It's possible to lose that much in salary alone during the three years of school. Speaking of salary,
“You end up being a little less selective,” said Jonathan Shapiro, partner at Middletown’s Shapiro Law Offices LLC and vice-chairman of the CBA Young Lawyers Section. “You end up going down a path that you might not have wanted to.”
Hellooooooooooo, shitlaw! Turns out Shapiro is a UConn grad who made biglaw and then landed on both feet at mommy and daddy's firm.

As the media is wont to do, it takes a solid story then throws a curveball by including an atypical subject who overshadows it. The NY Times did this with the groundbreaking Is Law School a Losing Game? by profiling a clueless Thomas Jefferson School of Law graduate. Here, HBJ featured a photogenic blonde UConn alumnus who got a job with Day Pitney the same way we all do, by inviting a partner to lunch. I was dumbfounded when I read this and I suspect that the article wouldn't have received much attention at all but for her.

One of Day Pitney's predecessors was Pitney Hardin, an NJ biglaw that might as well have been Cravath in being a reach for me. And, most other applicants.

Here's the takeaway. Want a soft-IP biglaw job? Just send an e-mail. Oh, and make sure you're attractive. And, very important, don't be unattractive. The clip below is tongue-in-cheek and set in a different context, but also 100% accurate.

Blogger had a system error and deleted my original post. J-Dog had left the comment below by then. I'm wondering what the scale is, myself. Also, you younger guys should invite Ms. Cantor to lunch.

The whole "invite a partner out to lunch" and get a job offer a week later cracked me up.

Maybe there's a scale based on how attractive you are, competence factors being equal, for what you have to buy a partner to get a job offer:

Attractive ur minority: soda
Attractive female: lunch
Attractive male: dinner
Average ur minority: pro sports tickets
Average female: round of golf, elite course
Average male: furniture
Ugly ur minority: high-class electronic gadgets
Ugly female: nice car (> Honda)
Ugly male: vacation home

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Off with his head!

'No, no!' said the Queen. 'Sentence first - verdict afterwards.'
The NY Times has just (I started this post a week ago and have been preoccupied) widely publicized how both the ABA and US Snooze are asleep at the switch. Again. Law Students Lose the Grant Game as Schools Win is just what the doctor ordered for the legal eduction carTTTel. The article managed to hit print the same weekend as two of the biggest stories of the era but the message will get out; it is was the second most-emailed business story on the Times's site.

The article features a victim of Golden Gate University, a toilet that rubs shoulders with unranked superluminaries such as Florida Coastal, Cooley, and Regent. Like other administrations that aspire to keep their jobs, it games its ranking by baiting well-qualified applicants with merit scholarships and then revoking them after 1L. The students themselves refer to it as "bait and switch."

There were few merit scholarships when I went to school. US Snooze changed everything.

Schools are ranked heavily on the LSAT scores and GPAs of their incoming students. The scholarships allow them to buy a better class and higher ranking. The gotcha is that the scholarships carry grade stipulations. The combination of a vicious grading curve and stacking the scholarship recipients in the same section ensures that many will lose them.

Basically, scholarship recipients compete against each other, though most don't realize that when they sign. Reminds me of the two hikers being chased by a bear. One pauses to take his boots off so he can run faster. The other yells, "Why are you stopping? You'll never outrun him!" The guy replies, "I don't have to outrun him, just you."

A side effect whose significance depends on your leanings is that money for need-based scholarships is diverted to merit scholarships.

Naturally, neither the ABA nor US Snooze track how many students retain their scholarships. Why should they? They're supreme beings; however, USNWR's Robert Morse's comments were so appalling that only Nando could do them justice.
Why is merit scholarship retention not part of the U.S. News data haul? “The main reason is that we haven’t thought about it,” said Robert Morse, who oversees the rankings. “It’s not a great answer, but it’s an honest answer.”

Then Mr. Morse thought about it.

“This isn’t meant to be sarcastic,” he said, “but these students are going to law school and they need to learn to read the fine print.”
Got that? They need to learn to read the fine print AFTER THEY'VE ALREADY SIGNED IT. The asshole is channeling Lewis Carroll.

Bob Morse also has investment advice: "Don't gamble. Buy some good stock. Hold it until it goes up and then sell it. If it doesn't go up, don't buy it!" Oh, that was Will Rogers. Never mind.

Restoring Dignity to the Law has pointed out there is no fine print to read at GGU. Naturally, the article has attracted plenty of attention elsewhere. Morse himself came down from the dark tower to issue exculpatory comments and point a finger at the schools.