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Looking back at ITLSS

[ 47 ] August 7, 2014 |

ITLSS started publishing three years ago today. The blog featured roughly daily posts (500 in all) for nearly 19 months, through February of 2013. During that time it received about three million page views, and it generated nearly 50,000 comments. On the eve of another academic year, this post looks back on the project from the perspective of what’s changed and what hasn’t in the law school world since the summer of 2011.

What’s changed:

The central theme of the blog — that there’s a genuine crisis in legal academia, because law schools are turning out far too many graduates and far too high of a cost — has gone from a fringe position in the academy, to a widely accepted view within it, and something like the conventional wisdom outside it.

Law school applications and enrollment have both plunged. The 2014 cycle featured about 55,000 applicants, down from 88,000 in 2010. Despite moderate to severe cuts in admissions standards at almost all law schools other than Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, the 2014 first year class will include somewhere between 37,000 and 38,000 students, down from 52,500 in 2010.

After decades of non-stop growth, average effective tuition (sticker tuition minus discounts) has at least flattened out and possibly even declined slightly over the last two to three years. This is a product of the combination of schools continuing to raise their sticker rates at faster than inflation, but offering deeper discounts to a larger percentage of their admits. The net effect of this has been to keep average tuition from rising in real terms, although of course this pattern exacerbates the reverse Robin Hood structure of contemporary legal education, in which students with lower entrance numbers (and, crucially, lower SES backgrounds) subsidize the attendance of their better-credentialed, richer, and better-connected classmates.

What hasn’t changed:

The legal hiring market remains weak. Only a bit more than half of all ABA law school graduates are getting real legal jobs (full-time, long-term, bar admission required), and this percentage drops to less than half at many schools. Only around 15% of graduates get jobs that pay salaries which make taking on $150,000 in educational debt (around the average for the 85% of graduates who borrow, once we include accrued interest and undergraduate debt) appear to be a good investment, at least from a short-term perspective.

The long-term economic prospects of current law graduates remain very unclear, for many reasons. What’s clear is that the high salaries paid to the “lucky” minority who initially get jobs with big law firms can be somewhat illusory (a 2013 Stanford law grad told me yesterday that several of his classmates who started in big law a year ago have already left, whether voluntarily or not), and that extrapolating the lifetime earnings of people who graduated from law school in 1974 or 1984 or even 1999 to people who graduated in 2014 is a form of methodological question-begging, if it’s presented as doing anything more than presenting one piece of mildly suggestive but problematic evidence in regard to the answer to the question of what is going to happen to current law graduates in the long run.

The fundamental economic structure of legal education — in which most of the operating revenue for most law schools comes from federal educational loans subject to essentially no actuarial controls — remains in place. Transparency in regard to employment outcomes — which pretty much didn’t exist three years ago — has been in large part achieved, and it has accomplished quite a bit by itself, as evidenced by the plunge in application and enrollment numbers. But while the situation is better, it’s still the case that far too many people are paying far too much to go to law school. (My back of the envelope calculation is that national first year classes ought to be around 25,000 matrics, and that effective tuition ought to be around $10,000 per year, if we want legal education to be a good investment for a large majority of prospective law students going forward).

Looking back with the benefit of both three years’ additional perspective, and the changes that have taken place over that time, I wish this blog had spent more time connecting the crisis in legal education to the crisis which is slowly but surely enveloping higher education in America in general. That latter crisis is a product of deep economic and cultural changes, which have left an entire generation of young Americans over-educated and under-employed (I explore the ways in which legal education is something of a proverbial canary in a coal mine for these much broader trends in a forthcoming article in the September issue of the Atlantic.)

But hindsight is notoriously more accurate than foresight. This blog played its part in helping some people — not least its primary author — understand the troubled world of contemporary legal education. The thing now is to change it.

(Cross-posted at ITLSS)

Lawyers and entrepreneurs

[ 19 ] August 2, 2014 |

The Times has a story on attempts by law schools to address the crisis in legal hiring via curricular reform:

On a spring afternoon at Michigan State University, 15 law students are presenting start-up proposals to a panel of legal scholars and entrepreneurs and an audience of fellow students. The end-of-semester event is one part seminar and one part “Shark Tank” reality show.

The companies the students are describing would be very different from the mega-firms that many law students have traditionally aspired to work for, and to grow wealthy from. . .

A few of them talk of outsourced services for larger law firms. Karen Francis-McWhite pitches one to help homesteaders claim properties for their own. Another would help immigrants file their taxes, an essential but frightening step to gaining citizenship. The tagline, delivered by its advocate, Giavanna Reeves: “Filing taxes should not make you feel blue when you’ve got a green card in line.”

The Entrepreneurial Lawyering Startup Competition, a showcase of the university’s Reinvent Law Laboratory, is not an activity many practicing lawyers would recognize. But it might be the kind of broadened curriculum many of today’s students need.

This kind of program at least recognizes implicitly that it doesn’t make any sense for MSU’s law school to be based on a model in which its graduates go on to work for high-paying large law firms, since almost none of them do (14 of 301 graduates in last year’s graduating class got big law jobs. It’s too bad MSU’s tuition structure doesn’t acknowledge this reality).

It also signals that some law faculty now realize that a lot of their graduates won’t have traditional legal careers at all, high-paying or otherwise. That (the recognition) is a good thing, but curricular reforms of this type can play at best only a very minor role in ameliorating the problems our graduates face.

Turning part of the law school curriculum into a quasi-MBA program doesn’t do anything about the central problem, which is that law schools charge way too much and graduate way too many people. And trying to train law graduates to be entrepreneurs is a classically American response to the structural challenges to traditional ways of life created by changing economic conditions.

The difficulties with this response are that the whole point of law school has always been to qualify — if not actually to train — people to be a very specific sort of entrepreneur, that is, someone who runs a business that sells legal services. And the fundamental problem remains that demand for that kind of business is flat or declining, and/or is being met more and more by low-cost alternatives to traditional legal services, as Bill Henderson points out in the Times article itself (I’m using “demand” here in the sense of people being willing and able to pay for such services, rather than in the sense that many law professors use the word, which features a concept of demand that doesn’t take into account the “able” part of the definition).

People generally don’t go to law school because they’re “entrepreneurial” in some more general sense: indeed, it would be more accurate to say that they go because they’re not entrepreneurial in a more general way. And it would be even more accurate to say that just about the least entrepreneurial class of people this side of trust fund babies are law professors themselves, since the job selects for personality types that make Dilbert look like Steve Jobs.

How a bunch of mostly old people who have spent their lives polishing apples and coloring inside the lines are supposed to turn the kind of mostly young people who go to law school today into disruptive innovators, sending gusts of creative destruction across the legal economic landscape, remains more than a little mysterious.

. . . In comments, Fortunado points toward an even more fundamental difficulty, which is that the vast majority of entrepreneurial ventures fail even in good economic times. Of course the whole point of getting a law degree, from a strictly economic perspective, is that it allows one to acquire a license, that is, a serious barrier to entry, that is supposed to put one at a competitive advantage relative to “mere” entrepreneurs.

Ivy League problems

[ 45 ] July 31, 2014 |

“First world problems” is a well-known internet meme. I’d like to suggest a subcategory of the genre, Ivy League problems, which, rather than reflecting American upper middle class angst in general, chronicles the struggles of people very close to the tippy top of the SES pyramid.

A nice example is this Atlantic piece on the sorrows of law school graduates, which focuses exclusively on the problems encountered by young lawyers at big law firms:

Through formalized on-campus recruiting (particularly at top schools), the path to the law firm is so well-paved that students can navigate it on auto-pilot. “My law school made it so easy to get a job at a firm that I barely had to do any work at all to generate several associate position offers,” says one of my former University of Pennsylvania Law School classmates. The appeal of the law firm is only enhanced by the reality of student loans. “Big law was really the only path I considered. With the level of debt I incurred by going to law school, taking the highest paying job felt like the only real, responsible choice,” says another Ivy League grad.

The parenthetical about top schools is the only acknowledgement in this piece — which is otherwise interesting on its own terms — that the problems it’s discussing are relevant to a small minority of law school graduates. At the vast majority of law schools, less than 10% (indeed often more like 1% or 2%) of graduates get jobs with big law firms. Thus this article is analogous to a piece on the problems encountered by former graduate students that focuses exclusively on people with tenure track jobs at research universities.

It’s too bad, because the problems the article talks about are real enough, and ought to be taken into account by prospective law students (somebody has described big law as a pie-eating contest in which the first prize is more pie). But failing to acknowledge that those problems represent the experience of a small subset of especially fortunate and privileged law school graduates inadvertently replicates the myth that going to law school means getting to be a lawyer, which in turn means getting a high-paying, high-status job. That’s not even true for a significant percentage of the graduates of the nation’s dozen or so elite law schools, let alone for those of the other 189.

Unemployed Northeastern sums the situation up nicely in the comments to the article:

Of course, much like the headhunters that specialize in finding lawyers new jobs inside the legal profession, this boutique industry of career advisers who assist attorneys in leaving the profession cater to an incredibly miniscule fraction of the profession: graduates of “top” law schools with BigLaw experience on their resumes. Frankly, they are the group that needs the least assistance.

Meanwhile, nearly 50% of all law school graduates are unemployed or underemployed nine months after graduation, and a plurality of those with *actual* lawyer jobs are so woefully underpaid that they also seek to leave the profession. Soon after the nine month mark, another class of law school graduates enters the workforce, and the labor supply becomes that much worse – and we are now in year seven of this phenomenon. These headhunters will not touch this group with a ten-foot pole.

Sadly, the author does not see fit to even mention the plight of these non-BigLaw attorneys and their Sisyphean efforts to leave the profession in her lengthy article. Mind you, Biglaw hiring at its peak in the Oughties never amounted to more than about 12% of all law school graduates, overwhelmingly concentrated at the schools at the top of the US News Rankings (like the author’s UPenn).

- One of America’s tens of thousands of un/underemployed attorneys

(I have a long piece in next month’s Atlantic on for-profit law schools, and how similar predatory behavior is found well beyond the formal for-profit realm, both in regard to law schools and to higher education in America generally).

A global law library of Alexandrian proportions

[ 110 ] July 27, 2014 |

So many questions.

I recommend clicking around the linked web site on your own, but here are a few representative excerpts:

The reindeer (carribou) is the mascot of the Alaska Law School. Never before has the reindeer been chosen as a mascot by any educational institution of higher learning that we know of, and we at the Alaska Law School felt it was high time that this majestic creature receive proper credit! The reindeer is not a predator, but does do a lot of practicing and playing, much like aspiring attorneys. Consequently, REINDEER GAMES is the official title of our Moot Court competition.

This is a photo of Alaska from space. It looks like a polar bear having a drink lying back, smiling and relaxing on the top of a Palm tree!

Connie Hunter, Director of Admissions, is a woman of ecclectic accomplishment. In addition to her legal experience, she is in Who’s Who of Inventors, studied Psychology with B.F.Skinner while a student at Harvard, knows how to fly planes and even judges the academy awards.

ALASKA LAW SCHOOL IS WALKING DISTANCE FROM THE STATE LAW LIBRARY, ALTHOUGH THERE ARE SHUTTLES AVAILABLE BETWEEN BOTH DESTINATIONS. THE LAW SCHOOL ITSELF IS LOCATED NEAR THE OLD AIRSTRIP. IT IS EASY TO FIND AND GENERALLY HAS PLENTY OF PARKING.

Spring, 2013, the Chair of the American Bar Association Law School Accreditation Committee, Randy Courrier invited ALS Founder, Daun DeVore to the committee’s annual meeting, August 9, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Provisional accreditation is expected to begin Michelmas term, 2015 with the arrival of the first student. Also, ALS plans to create The Alaska Law School World Law Library, a global law library of Alexandrian proportions, comprised of hard copy law books, many in their original languages world wide.

While ALS works to obtain a land grant in the Fairbanks area large enough to contain these operations, two ships, a gift to the Alaska Law School by an anonymous donor will assist in the acquistion of this epic endeavor! It will also have enough space to give law school classes and seminars.

Photo of ships here.

h/t Law School Tuition Bubble

Seconds of pleasure

[ 27 ] July 24, 2014 |

Updated

As a tail end boomer (graduated high school 1978) I submit I would have gone 16 for 16 on this quiz if it had covered the pop music ephemera of the 1970s instead of the 1980s. OTOH if it had covered the 1990s I probably would have gotten about four right, while for the aughts I might well have gone aught for 16 (unless it included that Gnarles Barkley song, I definitely would have gotten that one). As it is I batted 13 for 16.

Relatedly, I recognize exactly one of the ten “least obscure hit songs” since 1900, but 9.5 of the ten least obscure when adjusted for time (I’m not exactly sure what In the Mood is, which is sad given that my office is steps from the Glen Miller Ballroom).

Updated: There’s now a 70s version and YES I batted .1000. (Although I ended up having to play hangman on one, which I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise).

As for the 1990s, I did that one as well and . . . let’s just say that in retrospect I would have been thrilled to reach the Mendoza Line.

Plus-size model Robyn Lawley exemplifies body diversity in the world of high fashion

[ 75 ] July 23, 2014 |

lawley

[edit: original photo replaced with one of Lawley; I inadvertently used one of another "plus-sized" model]

Wins praise for appearing in un-retouched bikini photo.

Last night we stumbled upon (OK we’ve actually already watched two three five episodes) one of those trashy reality real estate flip shows [ed.: link], featuring a husband and wife team, and it struck me that the wife’s size zero appearance is completely normalized on television in particular, and in the media in general. In other words, in these contexts a woman who is roughly in the 2nd percentile of BMI occupies what sociologists call an “unmarked category.”

By way of comparison, the 98th percentile of BMI — the statistical obverse — would be represented by an average-height woman weighing around 250 pounds.

The justice system

[ 60 ] July 22, 2014 |

The murder of Dan Markel triggered a memory: On April 4, 1991, Mary Joe Frug was hacked to death with a seven-inch military-style knife, a couple of blocks from the home she shared with her husband Gerald Frug and their two children. (The crime remains unsolved). I had met Frug at a conference in Boulder a few days earlier, and this news made a particular impression on me.

A year to the day after her death, this happened:

On April 4, 1992, the Harvard Law Review held its annual gala banquet, when the torch of the nation’s most prestigious legal journal is passed to a new generation of editors. Among those invited: the murdered woman’s husband, Gerald Frug, a member of the Harvard Law School faculty. Had he attended, he would have found on his plate a parody of his wife’s last article. The parody, titled “He-Manifesto of Post-Mortem Legal Feminism,” was produced by the Law Review’s editors and paid for by the school. It depicted Ms. Frug as a humorless, sex-starved mediocrity and dubbed her the “Rigor-Mortis Professor of Law.”

The alleged satire poses a question that is certain to outlast all the finger-pointing, ducking, blaming, petitioning and posturing that has overtaken Cambridge in the nearly two weeks since the “joke” came to light: how can Harvard’s best and brightest, the men and women who will soon write the opinions of some of the nation’s most powerful judges, also be its cruelest and crudest?

Earlier this year, Ms. Frug’s article, “A Postmodern Feminist Legal Manifesto (An Unfinished Draft),” appeared posthumously in the Harvard Law Review. Several conservative editors fought unsuccessfully to block the piece, a bluntly worded examination of how, Ms. Frug maintained, the law perpetuated the subjugation of women.

As the banquet approached, the Law Review’s editors, their coveted, career-making judicial clerkships in hand, turned their efforts to the Harvard Law Revue, an annual send-up of the publication. Along with others who had opposed publication of the Frug article, Craig Coben and Kenneth Fenyo set about to lampoon it.

The result was a five-page, footnote-laden parody, saturated with inside jokes and sexual innuendoes. The article was purportedly dictated “from beyond the grave” by one Mary Doe, described as the “Rigor-Mortis Professor of Law, New England School of Law, 1981-1991″ and “wife of Gerald Frug, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School.” In it, Ms. Doe recounts childhood sexual fantasies about men in tight swim trunks, defended the use of obscenities in her scholarly work, and reflected on “the irony that I, a postmodern feminist, am being published because of my husband’s tenure here.”

“Postmodern feminists represent a diverse group of people,” the parody continued. “Some of us are intellectuals. Many are politically committed. Most are disillusioned. Others are just plain horny. But there is one thing that we have in common: we have no sense of humor.”

The memory of these events made me wonder what Coben and Fenyo have accomplished in the 22 years since they exhibited what might be interpreted as extreme psychopathic tendencies. (It’s worth noting in this context that, at least according to the two of them, none of their colleagues on the HLR objected to their “joke” before the fact).

The answer is that, in conventional terms, they have gone on to stellar careers in the business world:

Ken Fenyo has deep expertise in loyalty programs, digital coupons, personalized offers, e-commerce, and customer insights and analytics. He launched the retail industry’s first digital coupon program and has created new loyalty programs for Kroger, Caesars Entertainment, and General Mills among other companies. He is a frequent speaker on digital trends in retail including how mobile is transforming the shopping experience.

Ken completed the sale of YOU Technology, Inc. to Kroger (NYSE: KR) in February 2014. As CEO, Ken built the business into the retail industry’s largest digital coupon network delivering over 1 billion digital coupons to over 10 million shoppers at over 10,000 stores nationwide. YOU’s clients included over 20 leading retail chains and over 100 top brand advertisers. Prior to joining YOU, Ken was Vice President, Loyalty & Digital at Kroger, where he launched the industry’s first digital coupon program in November 2007, expanded Kroger’s fuel rewards program nationwide, created the new Kroger rewards loyalty program, and overhauled its $100 million personalized marketing program. Earlier in his career, Ken started a venture-funded e-commerce technology provider and served as a senior consultant with McKinsey & Company and Prophet Brand Strategy, where his clients included Caesars Entertainment, Time Warner, Dell, and HP. He has degrees from Stanford University and Harvard Law School.

Ken also apparently found love.

Meanwhile, Coben has also found his law degree to be remarkably versatile:

Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BoAML), which has been playing a leading role in some of the biggest transactions in the London market so far this year, has appointed a new head of UK equity capital markets (ECM).

The bank, which is advising on the Pets at Home flotation, the RSA rights issue and worked on the recent Kennedy Wilson share listing, is relocating James Fleming from its Hong Kong office to become head of UK ECM.

BoAML jumped from fifth place to second place in European ECM last year, due in part to its success in the UK. The bank sees the UK as the second most important market globally after the US and last year worked on the Royal Mail privatisation, the Barclays rights issue and the first sale of shares in Lloyds Bank.

Fleming, who has 16 years’ experience in ECM, will report to Craig Coben, the head of European ECM at BoAML.

Meanwhile:

It took a relatively obscure former British academic to propagate a theory of the financial crisis that would confirm what many people suspected all along: The “corporate psychopaths” at the helm of our financial institutions are to blame.

Clive R. Boddy, most recently a professor at the Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University, says psychopaths are the 1 percent of “people who, perhaps due to physical factors to do with abnormal brain connectivity and chemistry” lack a “conscience, have few emotions and display an inability to have any feelings, sympathy or empathy for other people.”

As a result, Boddy argues in a recent issue of the Journal of Business Ethics, such people are “extraordinarily cold, much more calculating and ruthless towards others than most people are and therefore a menace to the companies they work for and to society.”

How do people with such obvious personality flaws make it to the top of seemingly successful corporations? Boddy says psychopaths take advantage of the “relative chaotic nature of the modern corporation,” including “rapid change, constant renewal” and high turnover of “key personnel.” Such circumstances allow them to ascend through a combination of “charm” and “charisma,” which makes “their behaviour invisible” and “makes them appear normal and even to be ideal leaders.”

It turns out that criticizing a law professor for publishing a bad law review article isn’t actually a violation of professional ethics

[ 87 ] July 17, 2014 |

Last fall Nancy Leong, a University of Denver law professor, decided to file a formal bar complaint against Dybbuk, a public defender and occasional scamblogger, on the basis of the claim that criticizing some of her writing in three blog posts and a handful of thread comments over a 14-month period constituted cyber-harassment. Not surprisingly, this claim ended up going nowhere, but not before Dybbuk was forced to spend several months and a significant amount of money defending himself against the administrative equivalent of a SLAPP suit.

While it’s heartening to see Leong’s attempt to silence a critic through frivolous quasi-litigation fail, it’s sobering to consider how easily legal and administrative processes can be abused in this fashion (See, for example, this “apology” extracted by the egregious Thomas M. Cooley School of Law from a cyber-critic).

A comment on legal scholarship

[ 100 ] July 15, 2014 |

Class Bias in Higher Education, a blog authored by Univ. of Florida law professor Jeffrey Harrison, is well worth reading. A recent post regarding the costs and benefits of legal academic publishing reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write about this edifying little incident:

A few months ago, a law student forwarded me a copy of a “law review article” submitted by Prof. X to Journal Y. The outgoing editorial staff of Y (a secondary journal at a semi-elite law school, run, as almost all law reviews in the US are, by law students) had accepted X’s article in the spring of 2012, for publication the following fall. My correspondent was part of the incoming staff, and he had been handed the task of editing and cite-checking X’s article. He discovered that, besides being poorly written, the article’s cited sources often failed to say what X’s article claimed they said.

In the world of law review publication, a poorly written article full of inaccurate citations constitutes a dog bites man story, but upon further review a bigger problem was discovered: X’s “article” was completely self-plagiarized. X had simply copy and pasted large sections of two of X’s previous publications, and tacked them together into a “new” 7600-word article. The only original material in the text was a single short transitional paragraph, designed to link together the C&P material.

The journal’s editors pointed out to X that X had signed a disclosure form averring that the material submitted to the journal had not been published previously, and then informed X that the journal would not be publishing the article (this all took place very late in the publication process). X was quite indignant about this, claiming that the cutting and pasting had created an original work. The journal’s faculty adviser was consulted, and after some back and forth the article was withdrawn, and nothing further came of the incident. (X’s institution was never informed about any of this).

I asked my correspondent to forward me X’s article. It was indeed word-for-word self-plagiarism, save for a couple of date and tense changes, and the 200-word transitional paragraph. Incidentally, besides being made up exclusively of already-published material, the “article” itself was something worse than worthless: a painfully amateurish and very poorly written diatribe about a couple of SCOTUS opinions, that would in all seriousness merit a C+ as a law student seminar paper, assuming our current generous standards of grade inflation. (X, btw, is a tenured full professor at a mid-tier law school).

My favorite detail of this story is that more than a year after the article was pulled, Prof. X was still listing it as a “featured publication” on X’s law school faculty web page, with a citation to the already-published volume of the journal in which the article was supposed to have appeared.

My correspondent:

The other thing to note is that our editors (including me) wasted months worth of time trying to get this in publishable form. Makes it all the more egregious that [X] would use all this free editing labor on the lark that [X] could get a third “publication” out of totally recycled ideas. [X] apparently put zero effort into this. I was publishing my own note in this same edition and editing [X] at the same time, so I spent many nights in the library past midnight working on both, and being held up by having to reread every source [X] quoted, since each source was prone to being misrepresented in [X's] own article.

. . . see also James Powell’s comment in the Zizek! plagiarism thread infra:

A lot of people are required to write things in order to get or keep their phony baloney jobs. But writing well is very hard and very time consuming.

Attention, Interest, Decision, Action

[ 106 ] July 2, 2014 |

Over the last few years, the Thomas Cooley School of Law has become something of a byword for what’s wrong with American legal education, so it’s fitting that it has become the first school to downsize by actually closing an entire campus:

As with most law schools across the country, Cooley’s enrollment and revenue have continued to decline. Despite our ongoing cost control efforts, it has become apparent that we must now reassess our costs, including our faculty and staff levels, in light of current enrollment. Thus, Cooley’s board of directors and administration are instituting a financial management plan designed to right size and reinvent the school. Unfortunately, and as has occurred at a number of other law schools, the plan will include faculty and staff layoffs. As part of the plan, Cooley will also hold off enrolling incoming first-term students at the Ann Arbor campus for fall 2014, though all currently enrolled Ann Arbor students will continue to be able to pursue the school’s full curriculum.

The plan includes the following features of particular interest to students:

• We will work to keep tuition increases as low as possible. Details will be available in the coming weeks.
• We will continue to reward students through our already generous scholarship program.
• The 2014/15 academic calendar will not change.
• Student services will not change.

We are confident that this plan will help us remain at the forefront of innovative approaches to legal education and continue to deliver the broad, high-quality access to legal instruction students have come to expect from Cooley.

(h/t ATL).

Between 2010 and 2013, the school’s first year class contacted from 1,583 students to 582, and with the continuing slide in applicants to law schools in general it’s not surprising that TCSL is enduring major financial strain. This is now apparently the case even though as little as two years ago the school was still practically printing money, as it extracted more than $90 million per year in net tuition revenue from its federal educational loan conduits students. Cooley’s most recent publicly available financial disclosure forms are from FY2012, and they reveal a healthy 14% profit margin in regard to revenues over expenses. Of course technically Cooley doesn’t generate any profits, since it’s a non-profit organization organized for charitable purposes, and therefore exempt from paying federal income taxes.

At the time the main beneficiaries of this charitable endeavor included President & Dean Don LeDuc, who pulled in $575,562 in reportable compensation, and $45,905 in other compensation, and ranting old man distinguished emeritus professor (and former chief justice of the Michigan supreme court) Thomas Brennan, who received $329,198 in reportable and $43,865 in unreportable compensation, for what the school itself characterized in its financial disclosures as an average weekly work load of five hours. (This works out to an hourly wage of $1,492.25 for those of you scoring at home).

. . . And keeping it all in the family:

Laura LeDuc has been promoted from assistant dean to the newly created position of Associate Dean for Planning, Assessment, and Accreditation. In her new role, LeDuc supervises the school’s institutional planning and assessment activities and oversees Cooley’s relationships with its two accrediting bodies, the ABA and the HLC. She is based at the school’s Lansing campus.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about higher ed in America in the 21st century is that you can never have enough associate deans for planning, assessment etc. etc. (Laura LeDuc is Don LeDuc’s daughter. She was paid $108,385 in 2011-12 when she was a mere Director of Planning, so no doubt a generous raise is in order).

Note that Cooley’s attempts to “keep tuition increases as low as possible” have resulted in the school raising tuition from $28,625 in 2008 to $43,500 in 2013.

Expect a lot more developments along these lines over the course of the next 24 months or so.

Update: Law School Truth Center counts the human cost:

Now, because of the lies spread by selfish malcontents, a city of 110,000 is left with only one law school.

How much has law school tuition really gone up?

[ 35 ] June 25, 2014 |

A point sometimes made by defenders of the legal academic status quo is that while nominally tuition has gone up a lot, actual tuition increases have been much more moderate, because of the increasing prevalence of tuition discounting. Note that even to the extent that this claim were true, it would still be a very problematic defense of the price structure of law school, since tuition discounting shifts the costs of law school onto precisely those students who can least afford to pay a high price for their law degrees.

This is because tuition discounts go to students with better entrance credentials, with schools buying better entrance credentials as a consequence of their obsession (and to be fair, the obsession of clueless prospective law students) with the rankings nonsense. Those credentials correlate significantly — with an average positive correlation between LSAT/GPA and 1L grades of around .5 — with better grades, which in turn correlate with both high-paid employment and legal employment of any kind. Since for what ought to be obvious reasons better entrance credentials themselves correlate with higher SES, this system results in lower SES law students with worse long-term job prospects subsidizing the education of their higher SES classmates with better job prospects: the so-called “reverse Robin Hood” effect. And of course to the extent that high-paying or any legal employment is distributed on the basis of non-grade-based factors, this system is even more disadvantageous to lower SES law students, who don’t have comparable social connections and cultural capital on which to trade while hunting for jobs.

But exactly how much stealing from the poor to give to the richoptimizing of admissions outcomes on the basis of “merit” has been going on in American law schools over the past couple of decades, as cross-subsidizing of tuition through discounting has become more common? To my knowledge nobody has calculated the answer to that question. This post attempts to do so. Read more…

I guess FIFA doesn’t adhere to the one bite rule

[ 117 ] June 24, 2014 |

suarez

Woof.

Spoilers ahead.

. . . apparently a Norwegian fan has pocketed nearly $1000 after having the foresight to lay down a bet that Suarez would bite an opponent at some point during the tournament.

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