Monday, May 21, 2018

JD Advantage, Part IX : Bulls**t Jobs Edition

Remember when how late last year, that new era of JD Advantage Jobs had finally arrived?  You know, the time the flood-gates had finally opened and thousands upon thousands of JD grads were snapped up by private industry, once and for all silencing all critics of the Law School Cartel?  It was all over the newspapers.
Wait, no one has seen that or experienced this?  Oh.  Maybe because the story never happened:
For ’17, there were 2,227 fewer graduates than in 2016, a decline of 6.1 percent. Three employment statuses accounted for nearly 90 percent of the difference between the two classes: Employed JD Advantage (51.2%) (!), Unemployed – Seeking (23.7%), and Employed – Professional Position (13.4%). This pretty much tells you what you need to know about this year’s employment report.
This year’s employment report showcased many of the similar trends from last year: Good outcomes substituting for worse ones. It differs in that JD advantage jobs took a big hit while bar-passage-required jobs grew slightly. What’s interesting here is that overall, law-firm jobs fell nonetheless. Somewhere in the employment type outcomes are compositional changes where grads found law jobs and not JD advantage jobs.
Yep.  "Employed - JD Advantage" was down 22.1%, "Employed - Professional Position" was down 21.5%, and "Employed - Non-Professional Opinion" was down 7.8%.  A lot of people apparently didn't get the Cartel memo, or just because a bunch of people get together and say "x is the case" doesn't necessarily mean that it is so.  Unfortunately, it appears actual law jobs took a small hit, also, for what it is worth.
So, what is going on, especially as regards JD-Advantage jobs that apparently everyone says that so many people want to hire...?  I'm increasingly a fan of the current theory advocated by Anthropology Professor David Graber:
Are you a telemarketer? Compliance officer? Middle manager? Corporate lawyer? Do you feel like you contribute nothing concrete or meaningful, day in and day out, as you toil away at a job you believe is essentially pointless?
Then you’re in a ‘bulls**t job,’ according to one professor – who’s just written a new book about the millions of people whose jobs could ‘vanish in a puff of smoke’ with no real consequences for the world...

Rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world’s population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning of not even so much of the "service" sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources and public relations,’ he writes in a 2013 essay which laid the foundation for the book.

The story of one miserable corporate lawyer came from one of Graeber’s own former schoolmates. He got in touch with a friend he hadn’t seen since the age of 12, and was ‘amazed to discover that in the interim, he had become first a poet, then the front man in an indie rock band,’ he wrote.
‘I’d heard some of his songs on the radio having no idea the singer was someone I actually knew. He was obviously brilliant, innovative, and his work had unquestionably brightened and improved the lives of people all over the world.  Yet, after a couple of unsuccessful albums, he’d lost his contract, and plagued with debts and a newborn daughter, ended up, as he put it, “taking the default choice of so many directionless folk: law school.”
‘Now he’s a corporate lawyer working in a prominent New York firm. He was the first to admit that his job was utterly meaningless, contributed nothing to the world, and, in his own estimation, should not really exist.’

Whoops.  Compliance officer?  Middle Manager?  Banking?  All solidly "JD-Advantage".  And all solidly what the market is increasingly not looking for.  And some would say their job is pointless and soon to be automated, anyway.
But ignore all that.  The Law School Cartel has analyzed the situation and says that JD-Advantage jobs, let alone JD-required jobs sought after by "directionless folk," are in demand and on the rise.  Because the Cartel has your best interests at heart.

Monday, May 14, 2018

University of Minnesota heavily subsidizes law school

Often we at Outside the Law School Scam discuss the über-toilets, those laughable schools that make the generality look good. And the generality is poor indeed: a clear majority of law schools—107, to be exact—draw at least a quarter of their entering students from the bottom half on the LSAT.

But not all is well even in such pseudo-exalted circles as the upper fourth tier. The University of Minnesota has been subsidizing its law school to the tune of $39.9M for the past five years. That's $8M per year. And it's already planning to kick in $12M two years from now. That's almost $22k for each student in the law school.

The U of Minnesota's law school has heavily reduced its faculty and staff, yet it goes on sponging off the university "to the point where it's too painful for other elements of the university to continue to bear", according to regent David McMillan.

Financial considerations are forcing a discussion of the classic toilet strategy of increasing enrollment by lowering standards. "We need to go out and earn these ['more marginal'] students to balance our budget", insists regent Darrin Rosha. Others, however, fear "a drop in the school's ranking, further reducing applications".

Of course, "the school's ranking" refers to the one published for profit by defunct magazine US News and World Report. Falling a notch or two according to the silly criteria of You Ass News is universally viewed as a calamity. By Old Guy's superior ranking, however, the U of Minnesota is unlikely to move in the coming years: it will remain a fourth-tier institution even if it becomes considerably more or less selective. And its fourth-tier status makes it a poor choice for all but the wealthy and the well-connected.

But note the usual scamsters' infatuation with prestige: "ranking" relative to other law schools trumps other considerations. Marginal students, we are told, should be kept out not because they are marginal, not for their own sake, but because they would harm "the reputation of the school", suggests provost Karen Hanson. Apparently the school's narrow interests, and by extension those of its faculty, push everything else out of the frame.

Why exactly should the university, using money from other students and the public, go on lavishly subsidizing a law school that puts its overpaid faculty and administrators first? Shut the school down and apply the savings to some public purpose.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Cooley: Non-Profit or Inflilaw Contender?

Continuing on the heels of the prior discussion on Cooley:
Cooley may be, by some measurements, the worst law school in America. And its standing has not been enhanced by a flood of publicity about the quality of the legal work of its best known and, increasingly, most notorious alum: Michael D. Cohen, class of 1991, President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and the target of a federal criminal investigation in New York that has clearly rattled Trump."
The school accepts almost anyone who can pay the $51,000 annual tuition bill—more than 85 percent of its applicants were admitted last year. Fewer than half of its graduates manage to pass a bar exam on their first try; among all law school graduates in the country, about 75 percent pass on their first attempt. The 46-year-old school has had to go to court over the past year to fight for its accreditation from the American Bar Association, which found that the school was out of compliance on basic admission standards for a time. Last year, the National Advisory Council for Law School Transparency gave Cooley a ranking no school wants: It was No. 1 on the group’s list of “the 10 least selective law schools in the country.
Well, nothing says "inspiring" like being one of the least selective law schools in the country.  While scamblogs have a long history of mocking Cooley and it's exploits, it's interesting to see a third-party come in hard and strong against this fine institution of higher learning.
Oh yeah, what about that bit about Cooley and non-compliant admission standards?  Did Cooley change its practices in light of the ABA's findings?  Ha, ha - no, it filed suit against the ABA:
Thus, on November 13, 2017, the ABA Council notified Cooley that the school was out of compliance with Standard 501(b) and Interpretation 501-1.  The Council was affirming a decision of the Accreditation Committee made in September 2017 which Cooley had appealed.  The school was ordered to submit a report by February 1, 2018 with additional details.   The next day, Cooley sued the ABA, seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent the ABA from posting the letter of noncompliance on its website.   Cooley’s injunction request was denied, but Cooley continued to pursue the lawsuit against the ABA, disputing the ABA’s findings of non-compliance with the Admissions Standards, and the ABA’s denial of their request to open a new location. 
The ABA filed two summary judgment motions, most recently on March 2, 2018, defending their actions and arguing that the lawsuit was without merit...So how does the ABA explain its about- face on Cooley?  The Council doesn’t provide much of an explanation. Here is what the ABA’s letter announcing the decision says:
Following consideration of the record in the matter, the Committee concluded that the further report and concrete steps taken by the Law School with respect to its admissions policy and practices demonstrated the Law School’s compliance with Standard 501(b) and Interpretation 501-1.
The “further report” refers to the February 1, 2018 submission to the Council.  But it is hard to believe that report could have caused the Council to change its mind, given that Cooley provided very extensive data to the Council just a few months ago, which the Council found singularly unpersuasive. 
Because nothing says "non-profit" like filing a lawsuit in response to the data-driven truth from an accrediting agency, and wringing a settlement out of them by making it too much trouble to hold the school accountable.  Other law schools, while not liking or necessarily agreeing with the ABA's similar findings of non-compliance, at least are willing to acknowledge the concerns and take a minimum of token steps to make changes.  Not Cooley - you mess with that income stream, the gloves come off.  Because...think of the children!
Sometimes, you can judge a book by its cover. 
 UPDATE:  Thanks to LSTC's coverage, it appears that Florida Costal has also filed suit against the ABA for the same reasons, i.e. having the temerity to enforce regulations. 
“I’ve been working with the ABA for 40 years. At one time, the ABA helped schools deal with issues. The helping part has disappeared,” he said.  “The ABA has shifted to an antagonistic model,” DeVito said.  “The best way to protect our students and alumni is to file suit,” he said.
Again...think of the children!  What happened to those halcyon scamming days when the ABA would "help schools deal with issues" by quietly looking the other way...?

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Cooley: diversity or bigotry?

Über-toilet Cooley has lashed out against critics who have reasonably called it the worst law school in the US. James Robb, general counsel to Cooley, waxes bitter about "incivility and bullying by people who truly know little about … our fine law school". Critics, in his view, are "elitists who do not appreciate, or do not care about, the opportunity to succeed", especially for the 35% of recent graduates who, according to the author of the article, "identify themselves as members of minority groups".

Ordinarily I wouldn't bother to respond to this defense of the indefensible. What caught my eye was a discussion of the school's founder, 88-year-old Thomas Brennan. Although Brennan resigned as Cooley's president 16 years ago, he "has continued to be paid more than $329,000 a year as an emeritus professor even though he works only five hours a week. An audit released last year revealed that under his contract, Brennan is entitled to receive a salary 'based on two times the salary of a Michigan Supreme Court Justice, plus certain other benefits, until his death.'" I wonder what one of those judges would say about his getting twice the salary, "plus certain other benefits", for five hours of work per week. And what do the students think—if they think at all—about spending several hundred dollars per year each to maintain this hanger-on?

With a third of a million a year for doing fuck all, Brennan has ample time and resources to show how he feels about "minority groups". On his blog, Brennan celebrates the jolly old days of minstrel shows, when he and his brother performed with "faces blacked to the teeth" in Detroit, a hotbed of racial segregation and monstrous inequality. Today's "political correctness", says Brennan, suppresses "the truth … that minstrelsy was fun" (so were lynchings, one presumes, for those on the dispensing end), just as it detracts attention from the many "good people" of the Confederacy who deserve to be memorialized in statues of Robert E. Lee. He makes the obligatory attack on Islam, of course, and rips into the US Supreme Court for the "evil" recognition of the right to same-sex marriage, which will spell "Armageddon" for "our beloved nation".

Cooley, I admit, is not necessarily responsible for the statements of its founder. But surely the self-styled champion of "opportunity" for disadvantaged minorities should distance itself from the bigot whom it maintains on a lavish life-long "salary".

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

SMH, LSAC Applicants 2018 Edition

We are now at the 90% point for applicant count in this particular cycle, and for those looking to see a reduction in the applicant numbers, the news is not good. It appears that the cycle for 2018 is lining-up to be virtually identical to the 2013 cycle, which we have not seen in, well...five years. Applicants are up approximately 8% compared to 2017, and as of this date are at approximately 54,000 total.

One last quibble - LSAC has been consistently over-predicting the percentage increase by several percent over the course of this cycle. As has been detailed previously, and has happened again this year, the explanation can be tied to matching up data from cycle to cycle. If LSAC chooses to go two weeks without reporting data (which sometimes happens), that's fine...but then, when you do report data, you need to make sure you "skip a week" to do the apples-to-apples comparison properly with the prior cycle. That can be the difference between saying applications are up 8% on one particular week, when in reality, it is closer to 2% for that same time last year.


But enough of that, because (1) it has been documented, and (2) ironically, the "misreported" percentage differences are proving to be correct now that we are late in the cycle. That is, an actual 8% increase over last year currently (the following charts also predict the rest of the cycle after Week 22.  In addition, these curves are the fitted data curves, and the data points themselves are not shown so as to see the trends more clearly). Why is this happening?   More below the fold:

Monday, April 23, 2018

It's Future Shock All Over Again

"A Nickel ain't worth a Dime anymore..."

The problem isn't the way the legal industry has been historically handled over decades...the problem is, apparently, that it is now 2018 and the legal industry has failed to innovate:

It is no secret that the legal profession is not serving a large portion of society. However, the delivery of legal services is evolving rapidly to try and meet this need. Technology is providing new ways of communicating, collaborating, and organizing our work to better serve clients, the profession, and ourselves. Nowadays, many people seek legal representation in other ways besides the typical in-person model. Alternatives are readily available, fueled in large part by advanced technology. In addition, those without JDs increasingly operate in the space that previously was the exclusive province of lawyers.  (emphasis added)
There is a new normal in our profession. To adapt and thrive, we need to think like true innovators. Many are in agreement that the more efficient delivery of legal services is a win-win for everyone – lawyers and clients alike. How we get there is the topic of this critical industry conference.
In other words, legal services are too expensive.  We have heard the clarion call from the Law School Cartel for years now, and it is finding its way into the private sector also - many are underserved, there is not enough pro bono, other kinds of non-JD degrees need to be offered, etc. etc. etc.
The answer?  Gig the legal economy.  TaskRabbit-ize the already-stretched army of underemployed attorneys trying to scrape out a living.  Because the unaffordability of legal services is clearly the Lawyer's Fault(tm).
And the reason lawyers can't work for peanuts, in most cases, is due to the extreme cost of law school and the attendant student loans.  PSLF and other semi-loan-forgiveness programs like IBR are increasingly in the crosshairs due to growing rates of default and use of these programs.  Because no one saw this coming, even though the Higher Education Act was originally passed in 1965.
Part of the reason legal services are "too expensive," of course, has to do with stagnant wages for decades.  True, legal services have probably never been cheap on a relative-percentage basis compared to middle-class incomes.  Then again, I must have grown up on the wrong side of the tracks, because the only experience I had with the legal industry was when my folks set up a Living Will.  Never had any cause to retain legal counsel prior, but then again we were hardly Magnates of Industry or Descendants of Aristocracy, so maybe that's why.
Regardless, the "new normal" of the legal services industry has arrived, and it involves clients paying less due to a buyer's market.  According to the Georgetown Law(!), the Legal Executive Institute, and Peer Monitor's 2018 report, the legal industry is stagnant, law firm profits are on the decline, and clients can demand and do obtain significant reductions in price.  Legal outsourcing and contract legal work is on the rise as a consequence.  The charts and graphs in the attached report are worth a look in and of themselves.
Into this declining market, the Law School Cartel continues to manufacture twice as many graduates as the market requires while continuing to blithely raise tuition.   And the brunt of that will fall on you, the mid-range law graduate.  In years prior, law graduates did not have jobs because they did not "network" enough.  Today, law graduates do not have jobs because they failed to "innovate."  In either case, the "fault" lies with the party least able to institute major change in a declining market.  An amazing coincidence, to be sure.
Don't go to law school kids, unless you have excellent backing and "immediate connector" status.  Otherwise, the failure of the legal industry in general, and your declining paycheck in particular, will be All Your Fault for some reason. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Another Word of Warning from Someone Who Has Been Through the Gristmill

Look, I'm Just going to out-hustle my 100 other classmates at my 90th-ranked school, NBD.
Today we have a "guest post" that doesn't pull any punches.  OTLSS has laid this argument out on the line more than once concerning school rankings, but here is another poster from a year ago that puts it in no uncertain terms:
I go to a law school ranked 80-90 with about a 55% employment score. Do I think my quality of education is bad? No. However, I think the main difference between my school and a better school is the feel you have knowing that, out of any three students, one is going to get a good/decent job, one is getting a shitjob that won’t pay back their loans, and one isn’t get hired anywhere...everything matters because you know there’s way more falling bodies than trampolines to save them.
Also, remember that the employment score is likely bolstered by people who I call “immediate connectors.” These are people with serious connections that guarantee a job, not just the typical dude who knows a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy he can send his resume to. These people bolster the employment score, but aren’t actually an indicator of the school’s ability to place its graduates. Just to toss some anecdotal examples out there, there’s a person in my class who transferred in from Charlotte School of Law. Her third time in the actual building, she went through OCIs and got swiped up by the biggest firm there. Come to find out, her dad is a bigshot partner there. The fix was in the whole time. Another person’s uncle is a damn US Senator and has a job locked up for that person in DC after law school. I can name at least 8 more in my 100ish-person law school class...I don’t blame these people for their connections (hell, I wish I had more), but you should understand what they mean. They’re sucking up a job that you honestly don’t have a chance of getting. It doesn’t matter how well you outline for Seagull Torts and write on for the International Dogbite Law Journal, the firm is looking to fill one spot and you aren’t beating out the partner’s kid. That’s less trampolines catching those falling bodies.
It’s frustrating especially because there are no solid criteria for what gets you a job, so you never get the feeling that you’re safe until your offer is in hand. The number one kid in the class is set, but I know the number five (with LR and a ton of mock trial stuff) kid is looking and can’t find shit. Number 3 kid is working as a state court clerk making as much as a dental hygienist but with much more debt. At the same time, there are some lower ranked kids with good job offers because they hustled their ass off...but it’s a rough correlation and a bunch of people who deserve it get left out in the cold.
What’s also shockingly noticeable are the people who are just refusing reality and are not hustling to get jobs even though it is 3L spring and that student loan hammer is just WAITING to crush them. I saw one dude in our class (probably in the top 10%, mind you) who said he put off looking for jobs pretty much all of January/February because he is the head of our school’s trial association and his time has been preoccupied organizing the school’s in-house trial competition...[y]ou see shit like that out of 3Ls all the time at this level and, honestly, the psychology is fascinating. Just straight-up denial of trying to find a job. You can tell they’ve never been put in that position before, where putting your head down and mumbling “I don’t know” isn’t an acceptable answer. These are people who have been smart and capable their entire lives and just aren’t computing that the transition from law school-to-work isn’t as smooth as the transition from undergrad-to-law school. There’s no magic standardized test score they can reach that will end with someone handing a job to them on a silver platter like there is with a really high LSAT score. It’s like someone put Valium in the water or something.
If this seems depressing, well, it is...[i]t seems crazy on most forums because all but a few 1Ls just can’t grasp it while their busting out all the cannons of construction for International Shoe. Realizing that you can do everything right and still lose is shocking to some people.  I’m a 3L and things “worked out” for me...[h]owever, I am aware that one misstep, one bad bounce and I’m back to being a falling body with no certain trampoline. So, would I recommend a school of this caliber to someone who isn’t an immediate connector (for those of you that are, it doesn’t matter which school so at least pick a cheap one in a nice location)? No. Absolutely not. It just isn’t worth it. But if someone insisted, I’d tell them to prepare for a fight.

We've said it before, and we will say it again - don't take our word for it, take it from someone who is unaffiliated with OTLSS.  You have nothing to lose, and perhaps your whole life to regain.