Home / General / Florida Coastal is admitting applicants with LSAT scores of 134 (and probably lower)

Florida Coastal is admitting applicants with LSAT scores of 134 (and probably lower)


This post is the Infilaw law schools. Infllaw is a subsidiary of the good folks at Sterling Partners. Infilaw currently owns three ABA-accredited law schools, Arizona Summit (formerly Phoenix), Charlotte, and Florida Coastal, and is trying to acquire Charleston. These schools are for-profit operations, and a question I’ve been puzzling over lately is whether non-profit status (195 of 201 ABA law schools are non-profits) produces any significant ideological constraint on the institutions that maintain such a status.

Given that operations like Thomas Cooley and New England Law are non-profits, there are some reasons to think the answer is no, it doesn’t. On the other hand:

The 25th percentile LSAT score for matriculants into the part-time program of Florida Coastal’s entering class of 2013 was 138. A 138 means that 90.4% of test takers scored higher than you did. That means a quarter of the entering students had an LSAT score below that. How far below? That’s unknown, but Florida Coastal was imprudent enough to publish its 2012 LSAT/GPA admissions grid in the 2014 ABA Guide, which shows the school admitted eight applicants with LSAT scores between 130 and 134. Note this information is regarding the entering class of 2012, which ended up having a 25th LSAT for the part-time program of 140, i..e, two points higher than that of the class of 2013, which in turn suggests that the school in this past admissions cycle admitted many more than eight people with LSATs of 134 and below.

An LSAT of 134 means that 95.3% of test takers scored higher. To get a 134 you have to choose the right answer on about 29 of 100 LSAT questions, but since it’s a multiple choice test this means that, accounting for random correct answers, you only need to get nine questions right as a consequence of something other than chance.

Typical LSAT question:

Laird: Pure research provides us with new technologies that
contribute to saving lives. Even more worthwhile than this,
however, is its role in expanding our knowledge and
providing new, unexplored ideas.

Kim: Your priorities are mistaken. Saving lives is what counts
most of all. Without pure research, medicine would not be
as advanced as it is.

Laird and Kim disagree on whether pure research

(A) derives its significance in part from its providing new technologies
(B) expands the boundaries of our knowledge of medicine
(C) should have the saving of human lives as an important goal
(D) has its most valuable achievements in medical applications
(E) has any value apart from its role in providing new technologies to save lives.

(You can spend an average of about a minute and a half per question).

Moving right along, the Infilaw schools have published student loan data for their 2013 graduating classes (this information won’t be available for law schools in general for another month or two), and the numbers are startling. Arizona Summit reports that the “median cumulative program debt” for its 2013 grads is $184,825. Note that this number doesn’t include interest accrued during law school, which can be calculated fairly precisely since these are all federal loans, at interest rates of 6.8% for a minority of the debt and 7.9% for most of it. So the median law school debt of the school’s class of 2013 is approximately $220,000 at repayment (November 2013). This doesn’t include undergraduate or other educational debt.

Charlotte’s 2013 grads took out a median of $175,715 in loans (translating into about $210,000 in law school debt at repayment), while Florida Coastal’s numbers were $162,549 and $196,000.

Collectively these schools produced 1,214 JDs in 2013, which means a single year’s worth of graduates of the three Infilaw law schools are carrying roughly a quarter of a billion dollars in federal loan debt, none of which is dischargeable in bankruptcy. A glance at schools’ employment statistics suggests that approximately seven of these 1,214 graduates acquired jobs that would make it possible for them to service the median debt acquired by the school’s graduates without in enrolling financial hardship programs (Income-Based Repayment/Pay As You Earn). These programs will cause the graduates’ principal debt balances to balloon over the next 20 to 25 years, until it is discharged, with the discharged amounts imputed as income to them at that point (if man is still alive).

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • Ken

    With the LSAT score no longer a barrier, and with the credit rating not a barrier thanks to government-insured student loans, is there anything keeping anyone out of law school?

    • cpinva

      normally, the nearly 100% prospect of non-employment in the field would seem to present some barrier to entry, but that’s apparently no longer the case.

      questions for prof. campos:

      how accurate a predictor of future performance is the LSAT? isn’t it possible that someone can be a lousy test taker, but do well in school? I know many people like that. are essay questions no longer part of it? when I took it, wayyyyyyyyy back in 1989, it was somewhat similar to the CPA exam, in that it consisted of both multiple choice and essay questions, is that no longer the case? don’t ask my score, I have no idea. same with the GMAT.

      • RSP

        It’s been a while but I seem to recall studies that there was little relation between LSAT and job outcomes. There was a relationship to performance in first year courses, but little relationship to first year writing/professional training kinds of classes. But all of these studies obviously only looked at people actually admitted to law schools (and this was more than a decade ago so generally the scores were better) and so couldn’t really say what would happen with scores so low that admission was foreclosed by any sane school.

        I tell students that getting a 155 versus a 157 will affect their likely options, but won’t mean them failing automatically. But if you can’t muster the brain power to exceed a 140 then it’s really bad idea (luckily I’ve never seen such a case personally). I do tell them that 150 should be the absolute bottom number if for no other reason than their admission’s chances are going to be in programs that suck more than the average.

      • Paul Campos

        The correlation between LSAT scores and first year law school grades averages around .36. The correlation between LSAT scores/GPA and first year grades is more like .5.

        I don’t think the LSAT is a particularly good predictor of much except at statistical extremes. Once people have LSAT scores below 145 you see bar passage rates plummet. Admitting people with sub-140 LSATs means that you’re admitting people the large majority of which have essentially no chance of passing the bar.

        • williamockham

          Professor – Do you know of any research giving us the correlation between the LSAT and LSAT scores/grades and bar passage? Are there any correlation figures for law school class rank and bar passage? Has anyone tried to impute the correlations from the relationship between the LSAT ranges of various law schools and their bar passage rates? Thanks.

          • Paul Campos

            The relationship between LSAT scores alone and bar passage rates is fairly weak until one starts looking at scores below 145, when it becomes very strong. The relationship between law school grades and bar passage rates is very strong (you can predict with a high degree of confidence who will have trouble passing the bar on the basis of first year grades alone). Basically any school that admits someone with a very low LSAT who then struggles with his or her first year grades knows that that person’s chances of ever passing the bar are slim to none.

      • Tom Servo

        I mean, look. I’m not trying to be mean or hurtful here but…bottom 10%? I’m willing to bet that the guy who got a 160 can be just as good a lawyer as the guy who got a 169.

        But, quite honestly, once you get into the 150s, I have to question whether you have the intellectual capacity to get through law school, much less pass the bar. Much much less be a competent lawyer. The law is not a profession of geniuses, but still.

        Again, not trying to be a dick, just observing. I know people who got lower LSATs than I did ended up with higher grades and better jobs than I did, it’s not the be all end all. I’m sure the difference between the dude with the 120 IQ and 130 IQ is going to come down to hard work and luck, it’s fuzzy. But the dude with the 90 IQ and the dude with the 130? At the extremes, it means something.

        • Tom Servo

          By “into the 150s,” I meant below the 150s. The 150 range is by no means a good score, but it’s not so bad that I’d question your ability to handle a post-graduate education. 140s and 130s would make me seriously doubt your ability to handle a post-graduate education. In fact, it would make me wonder how you got through college at all. Again, not trying to be a dick, but we need to de-stigmatize other less glamorous career paths.

          • Cher

            If you say so, but you are being a dick.

    • JL

      Grades, I assume. If I wanted to go to law school I’d expect my undergrad grades to be a serious barrier (unless the grad school grades compensated, but I always heard that for law and med school they did not).

      • Paul Campos

        The 25% GPA for FCSL’s entering class was 2.69, so that’s not much of a barrier either (median undergrad GPAs these days are around 3.0 at public schools and 3.2 at privates).

      • NewishLawyer

        I think my good grad school grades helped overcome some of my more mediocre undergrad grades when applying to law school.

        • Anonymous

          To the guy who “isn’t trying to be a dick”, well…you are. I am a horrible test taker and did not score high on the LSATs. As a result of my high GPA and academic record, I was given the opportunity and I excelled in law school. I also passed the bar on my first try. I was hired and currently work at a wonderful firm in NYC and my legal career is successful. Some people just do not take standardized tests well. I do not think the LSAT is a valid indicator of who will be successful in the study of law and am clearly living proof of that.

  • on point here.

    $251,000,000 to ‘educate’ these people as attorneys is downright criminal. There’s no other way to describe this.

    • on point here.

      I suppose there’s no chance of winning a qui tam law suit given the way the system is set up, but oh if one could…

    • NewishLawyer

      On Thursday, there was a meme going around facebook that was a link to etiquette guides for foreign visitors to the United States. The ones I saw were from Japan and Russia. Most of it was kind of interesting cultural differences. Americans are good and polite drivers according to the Japanese guidebook. Also our vending machines suck (this is true compared to Japanese vending machines) and Americans won’t be impressed by how the Japanese drink to excess (this one was more questionable)

      Both the Russian and Japanese suggestions with “And Americans are just such a gosh darn optimistic people that it is hard to hate them.”

      This is the dark side of American optimism. We don’t let things like bad LSAT scores tell people “maybe you shouldn’t go to law school.” We create law schools that cater to people with bad LSAT scores and then finance them with loans. We let people take the Bar again and again and again until the pass. We find tracking to be morally wrong (to be fair, I find tracking to be morally wrong. Then again, I was a bit of a late bloomer academically. Always smart and reading but an academic misfit. I rebelled against the AP kids because they didn’t seem to care about the subject matter. In a tracking system, I imagine I would have been sent to vocational school despite being a constant reader, just not of school stuff.)

      A while ago on LGM someone posted about an American historian/theorist. I can’t remember his name. His theory was that America was a nation founded by misfits and fortune hunters and there was always a good number of liberals who believed in the greater good but they are hated for going against the fortune hunting part of the American psyche. I don’t completely buy the philosophy (it is hard to psychoanalyze a nation of 300 million people) but there is a kernel of truth in it. It reminds me of the Tim Robbins movie Bob Roberts when they are interviewing two young guys about why the like Bob Roberts and the young guys say “He cares about the things we like, making money, etc.”

      • I found this on Crooked Timber, it may be the same person posted similar sentiments here:

        The American population is largely a self-selected band of misfits and fortune seekers who have incubated a culture of selfishness and cruelty. There is a minority faction that favors unpopular notions like human dignity, a living wage, and the public good. These people are vilified by the greedy strivers – not because they are a real political threat, but because they implicitly reject the values of the majority.

        These unhappy facts are described in great detail by Morris Berman in “Why America Failed.”

        • NewishLawyer

          That’s it. I don’t completely buy it but there is certainly a faction in America that fits the description.

      • UserGoogol

        Well, I’d say that optimism also has a progressive side to it: that justice will win out. And although I’m quite fond of that kind of progressive optimism, it too probably pushes people to go to law school, with overoptimistic visions of helping people instead of overoptimistic visions of making lots of money.

      • Ian

        This is the dark side of American optimism. We don’t let things like bad LSAT scores tell people “maybe you shouldn’t go to law school.” We create law schools that cater to people with bad LSAT scores and then finance them with loans.

        This is a really strange reading of what Campos has been chronicling over the last few years. The problem isn’t optimism, it’s greed. (Another allegedly archetypal American quality.) Or perhaps a poorly designed system for financing education that people have been exploiting for years, in an increasingly grotesque fashion.

        I suppose it’s optimistic of the government to trust schools to behave responsibly in admitting students, but that’s what accreditation is supposed to monitor. I’m not sure what the answer is, beyond stricter oversight–the idea of the government deciding which citizens get school loans seems especially bad to me.

        • NewishLawyer

          I think they are intertwined. The greedy pray upon the optimistic or at least know how to sell optimism to maximize their wealth. “Got low LSAT scores? No problem! Come here! Forgot what those Harvard elitists say. This is America! Look at this (aytpical) set of 5 graduates.”

          There is something (often good) in the American character that seems to always want to be the exception to the rule. Lots of people like talking about their misfit cousin who didn’t go to college or maybe even dropped out of high school but was really good at computers and founded a start-up. Or we like the stories about the kid drafted to the NBA right out of high school.

          We don’t like stories about grinds who worked hard and consistently and then got a decent upper-middle class lifestyle.

          Low LSAT scores, no-name misfit law school but successful law career is exactly the kind of misfit story Americans love.

  • Richard Hershberger

    Seriously? That is a typical LSAT question? Nothing is required apart from basic literacy? I should have taken this right out of undergrad, back when a JD made economic sense.

    • Lamont Cranston

      There are different types of questions. I think the logic game questions are the ones that most people have problems with. But yes, many of the questions just require basic literacy.

      • Tom Servo

        My only wrong answers on the LSAT were in the Logic Games section. If only I had been less arrogant and studied harder…

    • Grumpy

      LSAT questions also vary in difficulty, and this is a fairly easy question.

    • Rarely Posts

      When I took the LSAT (back in the mid-aughts), there were three major types of questions:
      1) Reading Comprehension
      2) Logical Reasoning (a mix of reading comprehension and basic logic) and
      3) Logic Games
      For most high scorers, people regularly get perfects or near perfects on the first two categories.

      The LSAT clearly doesn’t test many of the skills that a lawyer needs, but honestly, almost every skill that it tests is one that lawyers ideally should have. The profession doesn’t need more people who struggle with reading comprehension (i.e., careful reading and recognizing nuances).

      • Tom Servo

        Right. The LSAT doesn’t measure how good a lawyer you will be. And I have my doubts about Mensa using it as a qualifying exam (I got a Mensa-qualifying score, so it’s not bitterness, just bemusement and doubt).

        But, you need to be at least mildly intelligent to be a decent lawyer. And if you can’t get above 150, well, I’m not trying to be a dick here, but you may not be even mildly intelligent.

    • Rarely Posts

      And, yes, a huge number of law students attend law school immediately after undergrad or with a few years of experience. The knowledge tests all come later – on the bar.

      • Jon C.

        Even the bar itself is a literacy test of sorts. The multistate exam, which mostly determines passage, is 400 (200?) multiple choice questions taken over two three hour sessions. The format is basically reading comprehension along the lines of Campos’ sample above, but has all law-themed questions regarding contracts, torts, con law, etc. Get enough right, you pass. If you have the discipline to review the study materials and practice the question format a little, and read English well enough to answer enough questions in six hours, you can pass.

        But if you actually tried to give legal advice based on the materials you studied it could well be grounds for malpractice.

      • dr. fancypants

        The knowledge tests all come later – on the bar.

        I would be hesitant to describe the bar exam as testing “knowledge.” At least here in CA, it’s more like a test of how well you can memorize “law lite,” and regurgitate it in a manner that bears little resemblance to the actual practice of law.

      • Rarely Posts

        I agree with many criticisms of the bar, but at the end of the day, it sort of tests knowledge of “the law.” Here’s what I mean:

        1) Even if you’re amazingly talented at standardized testing, you’re not going to pass unless you study for it (either by attending law school or studying the review materials for awhile-and I suspect it would take a few months of study, if you didn’t attend law school). It’s not an attempt to test intelligence and skills. It’s true that you need to have good reading comprehension skills and moderately acceptable logical reasoning skills to pass, but you’re not going to pass on that basis alone. In contrast, a person with the right skills can take the LSAT with no preparation and score very high.

        2) The “law” tested on the bar is a strange, mostly idealized/fake characterization of general federal and common law. However, if you’re familiar with the tested areas of law (criminal procedure, constitutional law, torts, contracts, etc.) then you’d get a fair number of them right.

        I definitely agree that the Bar could be substantially improved (I’d also say that the LSAT is an imperfect tool). However, as a legal practitioner, I think that far too much attention gets focused on improving these two test, and I suspect some reformers like to focus on them because changing them would have little impact on powerful, established incumbents (i.e., current lawyers, current law professors). Law schools and bar associations need a lot more reform than the tests.

  • oldster

    Uh…if I say “D” will I get a scholarship?

    • Hannibal St.-Gothard

      I settled on that answer eventually (in less than 1.5 minutes, mind you), but spent quite a while looking for a trick or a trap…

      • Linnaeus

        Me too…one of those questions where multiple answers have shades of being correct, but you have to find the “best” answer.

        • Rhino

          I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who assumed it had to be a trap, because it simply seems too easy.

          • Rhino

            Sigh. Seems should be seemed. I’m fairly sure that was autocorrect, but I still want an edit button.

            • anon

              Ok. I’m a genius (seriously) as far as standardized tests go and I didn’t get “D”. I struggled and settled on “C”. So maybe it’s not as easy as people think.

  • MacK

    I did meet a graduate of Florida Coastal a year or two ago … he was looking for a job as a lawyer. A few minutes conversation with him established that he was: (a) not intelligent enough to practice law; (b) personally thought he was very very good; (c) knew very little law; (d) had character issues in his view of clients; and (e) should never have been admitted to any law school.

    I’ll add, Florida by all accounts has a fairly tough bar exam – something to do with the local bar wanting to keep all that nice probate work to itself and stop retiring lawyers getting admitted – as some wits point out, the Dade County Courthouse is infested with vultures, inside and out, some feathered, some that should be tarred too.

    • cpinva

      FL & CA are also the only two states without reciprocity, for the CPA exam. they both require a 5th (relatively useless) year of college, to sit for the (uniform) exam. so, if you passed it in any of the other 48 states and move to FL or CA, you’re required to meet their minimum school limit, and then re-sit for it. the sole purpose of this is to keep the market from getting inundated with retired CPA’s from other states.

      • There’s also the requirement that a CPA candidate be associated with a CPA firm in order to be able to take the test.

    • Tom Servo

      I don’t know if you’ve ever been to South Florida, but it might as well be considered the 6th borough of New York. I remember so many asshole New Yorkers down for the winter, and how everyone seemed to have family up there. Living in New York now, there are tons of people I know whose retirement-age parents want to move down to Florida and become credentialed, and it’s really, really hard (specifically for doctors apparently). Can’t blame the state.

      • Turgid Jacobian

        “Can’t blame the state.”
        Sure you can: they don’t have to be bought and paid-for by the local heavies. I mean, it isn’t surprising, but it isn’t anything other than rent seeking.

  • Nick

    Off-topic question — one of my old high school friends went back to law school after a successful career as a museum curator (I know, it mystifies me too), and ended up as an associate at some place called Sutherland, Asbill, and Brennan. She seems to be doing something horrid like tax law. Is this fate desirable, hideous, or indeterminate?

    • Nick

      I should clarify, I guess — to me, going from working as a museum curator to doing tax law is unambiguously miserable. I’m really asking if this situation comes with a huge salary to make up for all the wretchedness.

      • Paul Campos

        Starting salary for their home Atlanta office is $135K. $160K in their DC, NYC and Houston branches.

        Needless to say nobody at these law schools is getting this kind of job.

      • Tyro

        to me, going from working as a museum curator to doing tax law is unambiguously miserable.

        Especially because getting a job as a museum curator is much more difficult (and much more socially prestigious) than getting a job in BigLaw.

        My guess is that she was working as a museum curator in a city flooded with money that she realized she was never going to have access to unless she left for corporate law. Sutherland, Asbill, and Brennan is unambiguously one of those desirable “BigLaw” firms where she is making good money.

        • NewishLawyer

          Socially prestigious and glamorous but usually not well-paying unless you are at the top of the game. It tends to be a field where you need to be independently wealthy to survive or be willing to live a rather modest or perhaps destitute existence.

          The people I know who can do theatre are either independently wealthy or they basically are at peace with the idea of lacking most of life’s creature comforts.

      • Denverite

        The firm is a pretty reputable southern firm with a big tax practice. My guess is that she probably started around $140k (depending on office), with annual raises in the $5k-$10k range and bonuses in the $10k-$15k range.

        At firms like that, people usually have problems sticking past five years or so, but it’s a little different for tax lawyers. They’re a different creature than your typical biglaw lawyer. They tend to be “service attorneys” (meaning that they don’t really have clients but are brought in to help the other partners’ clients on deals). The plus side is that work is usually pretty steady, and tax law is esoteric enough that it’s hard to find experienced tax lawyers and there is a bit more job security. The bad news is that without clients, it’s exceedingly difficult for tax lawyers to reach the tip top tier of equity partnership, so they’re probably going to max out around $500k comp.

        (I’m in a field — mostly health care regulatory law — that’s fairly similar in that most of my business comes when other lawyers at my firm have a client who gets into problems with regulators. They call me. Which is good because I’m usually pleasantly busy, but bad because I don’t really have leverage to say I’m going to walk unless they pay me more.)

        • Denverite

          I should add that tax lawyers also typically have a much more steady schedule — so it’s not like hardcore litigators or deal lawyers who can swing from a 25 hour week to a 100 hour week at the drop of a hat. For a southern biglaw tax lawyer, my guess is she probably works 8:30-6:30 pretty regularly, with a couple of weekend days where she works several hours per month.

          Pretty good gig. Except for the tax law part.

          • Tom Servo

            I thought about doing an NYU Tax LLM several years ago. But I bombed baby tax, my lowest grade in law school. Loved the subject, was honestly a bad semester and a bad day

        • NewishLawyer

          I would be perfectly okay with making 500K a year.

          • Denverite

            Oh no doubt. Just noting that the inner circle partners at non-NY biglaw shops like that are probably clearing $2M-$3M.

            • NewishLawyer

              Until they overextend those offers and go kaput like Dewey Ballantine

      • Nick

        Thanks, everyone, for your input. It’s strange the things people do — I once knew a brilliant guy with a doctorate in planetary science who came within a hair of going back to school to do an MBA. Here someone who spent her entire life interested in, and succeeding in, the art world, somehow is doing taxes for a Southern law firm. (Though she’s in New York).

        • NewishLawyer

          Money. That is why these people are going to get their MBAs and JDs. I know a guy who had a successful career in classical music but he went back to law school because he had a wife and a kid and my guess is that he felt like he could not raise a money on a classical music salary.

          We sadly don’t value Museum Curators enough to pay them very well unless they are at the top of the game as far as I can tell. Same with all sorts of artistic people.

          I was a theatre director before going to law school and as I have said a million times even with the law school crisis, it is much much easier to earn a living as a lawyer than it is as a theatre director. Also much more lucrative despite my freelance status.

          • Tyro

            We sadly don’t value Museum Curators enough to pay them very well

            As you point out, there is almost an unlimited supply of them available who also come with trust funds to support themselves, so no one ever things to pay them anything beyond the least amount of money possible.

            I remember as a teen mentioning a few possible professions to my parents and having them reply, “No, those jobs are for people from wealthy families with trust funds.”

            • Barry Freed

              I know more than a few curators. None of them had trust funds.

        • BigHank53

          One of the issues with being a curator is the amount of ass that must be kissed: touchy artists, deluded gallery owners, wealthy donors, and (shudder) the board of directors, who all think they know more about art and the public than you do.

          Tax lawyers rarely even have to deal directly with a client, as referenced above.

          • That issue exists in a lot of fields. If I could spend all my time with buildings and never have to talk to their owners, contractors, or [shudder] architects, I’d be a happy happy man. I have never met a building that attempted to blow smoke up my ass.

            • LeeEsq

              If your a lawyer and going in front of any official or judge to do something for your client you need the just right combination of respect and assertiveness. Its not that easy to pull off. Tax lawyers are dealing with the IRS among other bodies. They need this combination to.

              • I can believe that. I’m actually hard-pressed to think of the job that doesn’t involve some degree of dealing with potentially-difficult people.

              • Denverite

                In my experience, biglaw tax lawyers do relatively little work directly with the IRS. I mean, sure, there are niche tax dispute/litigation practices (my understanding is that these are VERY competitive to break in to), and most tax lawyers very occasionally have cause to ask the IRS or state regulators for a no action letter (or whatever they call it — IANATL). But like 90% of what they do is being called in on a transaction to make sure that it’s structured in a tax-advantageous way, and occasionally writing an opinion letter saying as much.

                • Mrs Tilton

                  IA also NATAL, but I think that US tax lawyers call the sort of I call a no action letter a “private letter ruling”.

                  What you describe is a lot of what tax lawyers do. But many of them are more proactive than that. They spend a lot of time coming up with advantageous structures, then market them to punters looking to make their taxable income magically much smaller than their actual income. It’s been some years since this particular punch-bowl was taken away, but back in the days of tax-advantaged leased structures like JLLs you had battalions of lawyers from a number of practice areas thrown at each deal, with the tax guys very unambiguously in the driver’s seat and the transactional guys their service shlubs.

                • Denverite

                  I believe you, and perhaps it’s just my practice milieu, but in my experience, the type of work you are describing was the province of tax boutiques, who typically had (have?) very exotic and lucrative fee structures. Like they get 25% of the tax savings or somesuch.

                  (Obligatory caveat — my biglaw experience isn’t vast; a half decade or so in the early-to-mid ’00s, and then my current post-public interest/government stint.)

              • Denverite

                If your a lawyer and going in front of any official or judge to do something for your client you need the just right combination of respect and assertiveness. Its not that easy to pull off.

                Oh, and this is why any attorney who has the chance — even if it’s a couple of years out of law school — should really consider clerking. Being behind the scenes, and working closely with a judge on a daily basis, really does make you feel a lot less nervous when you’re in the middle of an adjudicatory process.

          • Philip Arlington

            Anyone who believes that any occupation is so agreeable that it is strange to leave it doesn’t know enough about it. There are miserable people in every line of work, for many reasons, often good ones beyond their own control.

  • TWBB

    As a former Dade County lawyer turned ecologist, I would much rather hang out with the rather cool turkey vultures who live there than have to attend hearings there again.

    The only time I really got a visceral feeling of the shadiness of the profession was when I showed up for motion calendar. Something about how many people just put off shady vibes in terms of body language, appearance, how they spoke…ugh. It gave me the creeps.


    • TWBB

      Oops, that was meant to be in response to MacK’s post above.

  • Sooner

    Glad you live in your own bubble Stinky Bill. Where the effects of bad policy simply bounce off! Congrats!

    • Sooner

      Well now the comment disappeared and I look crazy.

      • Warren Terra

        Blockquote can be your friend, if you fear this sort of thing happening.

      • Mike Schilling

        You’re fine,. Nowadays, walking down the street shouting at no one visible just looks like you have a cool ultra-miniaturized bluetooth earjack.

  • Shanae

    In the larger picture this behavior is positively criminal. On what basis does the government continue to funnel these sums to the higher education industry? Does it speak to the effectiveness of their lobbying, or is it another form of transfer payment to subsidize a segment of the economy? Is it based in the philosophical belief that “education/diversity/access is good?” Is the government trying to create a generation of indentured servitude?

    One thing is certain: this will not end well.

  • Anon

    This reminds me of a joke from a few years ago. They were talking about televising executions. The joke was all the networks will televise public executions, but Fox will televise them in the nude. The new joke is law schools like Hofstra anf Touro will exploit any applicant with a pulse, but Infilaw accepts comatose applicants.

    • Warren Terra

      The joke doesn’t quite work: comatose people have pulses.

      Maybe a pupillary response? Though I don’t know any medicine, maybe the comatose have that too.

      • Hofstra anf Touro will exploit any applicant with a pulse, but Infilaw accepts zombies.

        • Hogan

          Not that the zombies will find much of a meal.

    • Mike Schilling

      It’s a classic bit: I’d rather have been a judge than a lawyer.

      The lawyering exams, they aren’t very rigorous. They only ask you what your name is, and I got 75% on that.

  • ichininosan

    The Charleston situation presents a paradigm study of bad policy in action. Its a terrible school to begin with — grossly high tuition and terrible employment prospects. Yet, It’s just a matter of time that someone suggests that the state buy the institution in order to save the jobs it creates while it impoverishes the students. I’ve seen not article about the school that even mentions that its finances are a mess because students are beginning to realize that attending Chaleston is a terrible idea.

    • Warren Terra

      “unlikely”? If the numbers in the post are correct it’s 99.5% non-employment, and that’s sufficiently overwhelming that I strongly suspect the vanishingly rare exceptions don’t really count – that for example they already had their job, and just needed to obtain a JD anyplace to make it official (you see versions of this for example in patent law firms that train PhDs and engineers to examine patents and process paperwork for several years before sending them to law school and promoting them to licensed-lawyer status).

    • BoredJD

      That’s been in the works for some time now.


      A lot of these law schools operate like military bases except they are indirectly instead of directly government funded. Whatever state rep in this district doesn’t give two shits about the students who are going in debt to fund the school when he’s got local real estate developers, construction companies, and restaurant and bar owners blowing up the phone.

  • Jake

    I guess money trumps meritocracy in the academic world. Shocker.

  • Anon

    Shanae, you are right.This is criminal. They are committing fraud to get their students to come to their law schools, then funding them with federal loans. They are also admitting students they know are unlikely to pass the bar or get a job, again using federal loans to fund it all. This sounds like a RICO violation to me. These law school deans belong in jail. I’m suprised nobody has tried a RICO suit against a law school in fed court.

    You are wrong about one thing. This is not about diversity. This is about deans protecting their own jobs and high salaries. They are exploiting people of color, not furthering diversity.

    • Philip Arlington

      He was making the familiar point that law schools exploit the cultural cachet of “diversity” dogma, which is another way of repeating your point (and his).

      This is a different point: diversity dogma itself is a cause of injustice. It is predictable that it will be abused, so it should not be elevated to such unassailable heights in the first place. More focus on fair treatment of individuals is needed in the place of identity politics.

    • Just Dropping By

      And what, pray tell, are the two predicate felonies for a RICO claim?

      • Hogan

        Look out! He’s going Socratic!

  • David desJardins

    Did you misquote the question? None of the answers are correct as stated. Kim states that saving lives is the most important thing, but doesn’t assert that medical applications are the only or primary way that pure research saves lives. So if “D” is supposed to be the correct answer, the test is flawed.

    • Jamie

      Primary means “most important.”


      • UserGoogol

        Well, saving lives and medical applications aren’t strictly synonymous, (it’s logically possible that the lives saved from research are not through applying that research medically, but some other more abstract mechanism) although they might allow you to infer “common sense” implications like that.

    • Nobdy

      It is easy to overthink things on these tests because they are not that carefully written. You pick the best answer as would be selected by someone who isn’t very creative or a particularly deep thinker.

  • Samuel Browning

    Paul, if the ABA wished to be rational about this matter, what should be the lowest LSAT Score a person should have and still be allowed to apply to law school?

    I assume at some point (134) it just becomes ridiculous, to allow people to attend who will not be able to pass a bar exam.

    • Denverite

      My view is that a school should never admit anyone it doesn’t think has at least a 75% chance of passing the bar. You can do the math from there.

    • nerudaaduren

      152 gives you a cutoff that makes below median scores a failing grade. 150 is 44th percentile and could also be a natural marker.

      The amazing thing is that the institution of a 150 minimum, or even a 145 minimum (27th percentile, about half of the questions right), would instantly shutter numerous schools. If we assume that basic literacy and logic are required for the practice of law, a 145 or 150 could be justified pretty easily.

      I’d be happy with a 140 / 13th percentile minimum (40-41 correct answers!) as a starting point, which illustrates how dire things have gotten. Most schools aren’t dipping into this range, which gives it the advantage of being a standard that could receive support from a majority of schools.

      • rea

        134? 150?? presuambly they’ve change the grading scale since took it in the 70s and got 730?

        • Philip Arlington

          The range of possible scores is 120 to 180.

        • nerudaaduren

          I think the old scale was like the GREs, from 200 to 800.

          So a 730 is a 173.

  • Samuel Browning

    The 120-180 scoring scale has existed since at least 1991. See the LSAT page at wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_School_Admission_Test

    The page also points out that there is presure within legal education to get rid of the LSAT as a method of promoting diversity within the legal profession.

    “For example, based on a LSAT cut-off of 145, over 60% of black applicants will be presumptively denied, but only 20% of white applicants will be “presumptively denied.””


    So that’s the big argument against my earlier suggestion of a cut off. Normally I’d suggest buying every qualified African American pre-law student a free bar review class through Uncle Sam as a way to remedy existing differences in race and class, but something tells me that this solution would be rejected by all parties concerned.

    • Nobdy

      Eh, bar review classes suck. I think bog standard affirmative action works in these scenarios (though i’m not sure how ‘affirmative’ the action of admitting a borderline minority candidate to a bad law school is.)

  • Philip Arlington

    How do law profs who attended elite schools, and presumably expected to be teaching smart students when they started out, cognate about teaching these people? What goes through their minds in the classroom if intelligent reponses are rarely forthcoming? What do they make of a batch of semi-literate examination answer papers?

    • Ken

      We might be in “as long as the checks clear, I can buy booze to kill the pain” territory.

    • Shanae

      If they are as intelligent as their credentials suggest then they must understand the depth of the fraud in which they participate

    • BoredJD

      “I deserve this because I got a high LSAT score, got a bunch of “High Passes” at Harvard, and worked for a federal judge for a year. In other words, I’ve done nothing remotely spectacular with my life except be good at school.”

  • Paula

    Hey, I could have gone to law school (I got a 153 after 3 weeks of half-assed-studying)!

    Actually, the professional program I DID go into is probably worse in terms of job prospects, but at least 1)I got scholarships, so I’m getting the master’s at half off, 2) I don’t have to pay for 3 years of school, and 3) I already have over a decade of work experience in the field I’m entering.

    Actually, reading Campos’ posts helped me make this decision. Unfortunately, it did not dissuade me from the idea of an advanced degree altogether. But I do feel better that this degree is a labor of love, whereas the law degree would not have been.

  • mike in dc

    Hey, I busted a 171, went to a top 20 school, and still can’t find steady work. Maybe we should just shut down all the law schools until the labor surplus disappears.

  • Pingback: Sunday Links! | Gerry Canavan()

  • Casual Observer

    You all are missing the bigger picture. Kim is wrong; Laird is right.

    Dipping down into the sub-135s enables Florida Coastal law faculty to provide the public with much needed scholarship. Pure research is what matters. Students are a mere distraction from law schools’ need to serve the greater good.

    Out of curiousity, how are 3 other “random” schools doing: Santa Clara, Weidner Harrisburg, and Drexel?

    • Pushkin

      Out of curiousity, how are 3 other “random” schools doing: Santa Clara, Weidner Harrisburg, and Drexel?

      You want to return to the bad old days of Professor Kingsfield if you ask questions like that, insolent person!

      • Casual Observer

        Hi Brian.

  • ChrisI

    America has come to put the value of higher education on a pedestal. Everyone should go to college and get a bachelors degree and everyone’s opportunities will be improved immeasurably by doing so.

    This myth has been embraced wholeheartedly by the government. Its very convenient for deflecting criticism about the poor economy. e.g.

    “I don’t have a bachelors degree and I don’t have a job”
    “then that’s your fault for not having a degree”

    “I have a bachelors degree and I don’t have a job”
    “then that’s your fault for not taking advantage of this incredible advantage you have”

    The government has every incentive to keep giving more and more student loan money out, since trying to limit it would mean acknowledging higher education isn’t the automatic golden ticket its been painted to be.

  • unfortunately, the social status and cachet that still accrues to any holder of a JD means that tens of thousands of those poor suckers will continue to get taken over the next few years. That is a lead pipe cinch….

  • Anonymous

    “The 25th percentile LSAT score for matriculants into the part-time program of Florida Coastal’s entering class of 2013 was 138… That means a quarter of the entering students had an LSAT score below that.”

    I don’t believe this follows. A 25th percentile of 138 means that 25% of the class did not get higher than 138. It doesn’t mean that 25% of the class had a score lower than 138.

  • HarryH

    I had a classmate with a brother in law who taught Con Law at FL Coastal back in 2006-2007. His brother was a recent grad of the school. You read that right – a recent grad of a 4th tier dump was, not long after graduation, teaching Con Law to new lemmings. From what I understand he wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, either.

    What nobody mentions about the lower scores on the LSAT is the disproportionate number of (URM) minority students, especially at the lower ranked schools, with scores in the sub-150 range. Many of these students wind up on academic probation and some never finish. So, while on one hand we fret that something must be done to prevent people from committing academic and financial suicide, but on the other the schools are doing everything they can to fill the seats with enough URM students, whether they have the goods to graduate and pass the bar or not. Nothing will happen to change this – just try messing with the political demands for a balanced class demographic and you’re playing with fire.

  • Casual Observer

    Law school is beginning a downward spiral.

    First, it should be readily apparent to 0Ls that the prestige bloom is off the rose for enrollment in a generic law school. The most informed students, and the most apt, are saying “no thanks” to law school in higher and higher percentages.

    Second, the decline in biglaw hiring from 2008 to the present really hurts recruitment. The biglaw numbers could be counted on to tweak and manipulate the data on starting salaries, which were a good recruiting tool of 0Ls who were unaware of (or unwilling to read) the fine print. Starting lawyer salary data now looks like it went over a cliff because the biglaw data artificially inflate the numbers to a much smaller degree than they once did. The big decline is headline worthy, and hurts recruiting even though biglaw always was a drop in the bucket.

    Third, IBR and PAYE are double-edged. They stave off repayment and bailout law schools. At the same time, who wants to leave a junior governmental position now? The private market is saturated. You make as much (or almost as much) in a govt job as you would in the private sector, with more job security, better hours and WAY better benefits. Plus the IBR public discharge in 10 years without tax consequence makes these “lower paying” public jobs higher paying than all jobs but biglaw. $60k plus bennys with substantive experience and IBR of your $150k debt looks pretty sweet. These chaps aren’t leaving, and won’t leave. There are thus far fewer entry level govt jobs that employed newbies in the past.

    Fourth, old lawyers don’t retire. I personally work with (or litigate or negotiate against) many lawyers aged 65 plus. There are far fewer over 75 still in the practice, but I still see more lawyers over 70 in court or in the real estate recording office than lawyers under 30. If you have some retirement savings and a house, you can hang in there and practice part time doing real estate, an occasional divorce, and some appointed counsel work, and the odd PI case until you’re in the ground. Unlike the 29 year old, the 69 year old thinks it’s just fine to make another $30,000 per year the hard way. A 69 year old lawyer enjoys 3 or 4 day weekends. A 29 year old lawyer would be homeless. A newbie with any brains and any talent sees this and gets out. He’s then a JD Advantage kid with $150k in debt and no law experience.

    I just hope that the law faculty appreciate this. This is the consequence of oversaturation. You’re ruining lives and a great profession. Can you please shut a third of the schools down? Pretty please?

    • Jimmy Conway

      Excellent observation on what the BIGLAW numbers did to starting salaries. With greater transparency, new reporting standards, and free information on the internet, hiding the unpleasant truth just doesn’t work as well as it once did.

  • Pingback: Public service, Brooklyn-style - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money()

  • john-doe9

    Dear Readers I am new to this but I want to reply.

    I took the LSATs after 4 years of recovering from a catastrophic car accident my first week in college. I scored a 17 out of 43. I was given one admission to law school: Univ. of Alabama. I chose instead to work and get a MBA and MS after getting in 5 years a BS in Prelaw History and Gov’t dual major. I proceeded to work for 3 fortune 50 companies all of which entailed working in and for the legal departments of these corporations after the MBA where I scored 4.0 GPA and produced a 157 Page thesis at the Wharton School of Business being first in my class.

    I earned about $4.2 million dollars + investment interest that included 2 pensions, a 401K and minor benefits in exactly 29 years of work. I worked 7 days a week and never took a vacation. My primary role was security and contract negotiations. I also attained a post MBA certificate from Wharton in legal process and negotiations. I am a court expert having worked on appellate work and expert witness work.

    I spent approx. $100K on education all in and the corporations paid off most of it as student loans and bonus’s via promissory notes.

    The work was arduous and traveling the world while it seemed fun was mostly really hard. I develop 5 languages and after retirement this year have applied to 2 major law schools with a request waive my LSAT requirement. I am fully funded and against the recommendations of my counsel and work legal department want to get the law degree anyway to open a shop to do low cost elder care with some season retired attorney’s I know well.

    The point here is the LSAT I took back in 85′ set me back and then the GMAT was high and fine as well as the GRE I took. I also took a bunch of tests with the employers and the Watson Glaser test. Test mean something I took a ton of them over my career and mostly I just kept getting promoted and pay increases, houses, a car, health care etc…while learning all I could without a law degree. The legal teams I worked with were the best external and internal counsel worldwide. I cannot say who but the work was everything from currency to tax to contract work and input to complex ligitation on security issues.

    I think the Tuition and fees for Legal degrees is outrageous and the premise that and LSAT score can be correlated to success is well partially untrue. I made so much money at some point I just wondered how much more the lawyers made and was their quality of life the same or better than mine; divorces, heart attacks, college bills, loan paybacks in 80’s money of $300K from top schools with 10-15% interest…no way.

    It all depends but my advise to anyone now is work and do what you want but realize once you sign those bills and notes contracts you owe and you will pay. Am I going to get the law degree paying about $150K + bar exam costs; probably…self actualization in early retirement. I am young. Will I do loans or interest NO WAY. WHY? If you want to get a deal work on a promissory system once you have a job and pay and get the employer to pay off the school while attending as for Florida diploma type mills: I worked with a few folks from FCoastal and Cooley and Harvard, GTown and NY Law school, Berkeley and others. They all had strength and flaws just like me and I did find however that the BIG Schools writing was better and legal thought a little more prickly and drawn out. The lower tier schools the attorneys were ok, learning not great but good and hungry so it depends on who and the personality.

    Back to me. I wonder if I had never hitched a ride in a car with a bunch of idiots at 17 my first week in college and then everyone died 30 minutes later after the driver killed everyone but me – I put my seat belts on at the last minute and was in the rear passenger seat of a HOPPED UP Transam 440 hot rod all to get a ride across campus at 11:30pm at night and to go to Mcdonalds – what a dumb child I was. I survived but had to deal with the deaths of all those people and carnage in the road on a foggy night. My folks were so mad and sad – I was real lucky – since them I have had 25 close calls from Planes, Trains and Auto’s my last Porsche Turbo creamed by a Pep Boys mechanic out on a joy ride at lunch on a sunday drove right through my car at 50 MPH. The Porsche saved my life but boy it hurt. $220K in damages. Pep Boys never did admit liability but boy did they pay!.

    The point for all of you is look at me – well done, successful and LSATs in the bottom Qtr. I am awaiting the dean’s if the two top law schools to review my application less current LSATS – I might take them but you never know. No I am not in a wheel chair somehow I just keep walking away and my own attorneys are always just aghast at my instant recovery. Lucky yes – debt just a house and that’s it.

    Go get that degree but realize the costs are high and life costs + the loans will quickly overtake your enthusiasm and not everyone is a hardcore litigator making $M’s it takes hard work and years to make good money and win and lose and thrive.

    Live live live your passions.

    As regards,
    Pending Law degree

  • Pingback: Lsat Game | Home()

It is main inner container footer text