Subscribe via RSS Feed

Author Page for Paul Campos

rss feed

Eagles decide Riley Cooper needs therapy; Bob Filner says city needs to pay his legal bills because he didn’t get any

[ 84 ] August 1, 2013 |
“In meeting with Riley yesterday, we decided together that his next step will be to seek outside assistance to help him fully understand the impact of his words and actions. He needs to reflect. As an organization, we will provide the resources he needs to do so.”

Backstory here.

Meanwhile, it turns out Bob Filner only harasses women because the city of which he’s mayor failed to “train” him not to do so:

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, accused by at least eight women of sexually harassing them, never received a mandated training course on sexual harassment from the city, according to his attorney.

Filner’s lawyer, Harvey Berger, says the city failed to meet its legal requirement and therefore should foot the mayor’s legal bills. Filner and the city of San Diego are being sued by the mayor’s former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson.

The Associated Press reports that “Berger said the training was scheduled but the city trainer canceled and did not reschedule.” Berger laid out his arguments in a letter to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, parts of which were made public Wednesday.

City council members have unanimously refused to fund Filner’s defense and are suing the mayor for any damages the city may incur dealing with McCormack’s lawsuit, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“If Bob Filner is engaged in unlawful conduct and the city is held liable, he will have to reimburse us every penny the city pays and its attorney fees,” Goldsmith told the U-T.

Member station KPBS reports that when McCormack went public with her allegations earlier this month:

“She described Filner’s penchant for putting her into a headlock and pulling her about, while whispering sexually explicit comments in her ear. She said the mayor often told her he loved her, wanted to kiss her, told her he wanted to see her naked and that she should work without panties at City Hall; and that he wanted to ‘consummate their relationship.’ “

Thomas Cooley Law School: Don’t blame us if you believed our lies

[ 49 ] August 1, 2013 |

Shorter Sixth Circuit: It’s unreasonable for prospective law students to expect a law school’s representations about its employment statistics to be, you know, true:

Nor can the graduates establish a claim for fraudulent misrepresentation based
on the statistic for “average starting salary for all graduates” because their reliance
on it was unreasonable. The graduates alleged that Cooley committed fraudulent
misrepresentation by including the line in each year’s Employment Report and Salary
Survey stating the “average starting salary for all graduates.”
(my emphasis)

For example, the Employment Report for 2010 states that the “average starting
salary for all graduates” was $54,796. On its face, the phrase “all graduates” means just
that: all Cooley graduates—not just the ones who responded to the survey—made,
on average, $54,796. One could assume that, because there were 934 graduates, the
average starting salary for all 934 graduates was $54,796. The title of the document
containing this statement is “Employment Report and Salary Survey.” Therefore, it
cannot be that the average starting salary of all 2010 graduates was $54,796, because the
document, entitled “Employment Report and Salary Survey” (emphasis added) was not
based on the responses of all of the Cooley graduates in 2010; rather, the document
states that the number of 2010 graduates was 934, but the number of graduates with
employment status known was 780. So, the “[a]verage starting salary for all graduates”
would instead mean the average starting salary of graduates who responded to the survey
and chose to include their salary information—not the average salary of all Cooley
graduates in any given year.

We agree with the district court that this statistic is “objectively untrue,”
MacDonald, 880 F. Supp. 2d at 794, but that the graduates’ reliance upon it was “also
unreasonable,” id. at 796, which dooms their fraudulent misrepresentation claim.

Despite the statement’s untruth, the graduates cannot demonstrate that their
reliance on this statement was reasonable. Unreasonable reliance includes relying on an
alleged misrepresentation that was expressly contradicted in a written contract that a
plaintiff reviewed and signed. Novak, 599 N.W.2d at 553–54; Nieves, 517 N.W.2d at
237–38. A plaintiff unreasonably relies on one of the defendant’s statements if another
of the defendant’s statements contradicts it.

Here, the statement “average starting salary for all graduates” expressly
contradicted other statements in the very same report showing that the report itself was
based not on data for the entire class, but on data from those who completed the surveys.
The Cooley graduates’ reliance on the statement that the “[a]verage starting salary for
all graduates” was “$54,796” was unreasonable in light of both the statement that the
“[n]umber of graduates with employment status known” was less than the total number
of graduates and the very title of the report (a “Salary Survey”). Because their reliance
was unreasonable, their claim for fraudulent misrepresentation failed as a matter of law.
Therefore, the district court properly dismissed the claim.

Note: Per information Cooley posted on its web site while the suit was ongoing but has since taken down, the school had salary information for a total of 6.5% of the 2010 class. That was the school’s basis for its claim regarding the “average starting salary for all graduates.” (Emphasis added. LST posted the stats here before Cooley scrubbed its web site.)

In other words, if a law school publishes not merely misleading statistics but flat-out lies (“objectively untrue” statements), it won’t be liable for doing so as long as a close reading by sufficiently cynical and suspicious reader — for example, a lawyer! — would reveal that those statements are likely to be untrue, because they contradict other statements in the document (how readers are supposed to figure out which of the contradictory statements are actually true isn’t something the Sixth Circuit panel explains). Furthermore, if you tack the word “survey” to the title of a document whose text claims that it’s a comprehensive survey, that means the survey isn’t actually comprehensive, because also.

Even shorter Sixth Circuit: Suckers!

Due process, Bud Selig-style

[ 127 ] July 31, 2013 |

Alex Rodriguez to be banned for life?

I haven’t followed this very closely, but my understanding is that under the CBA the maximum punishment to which he’s supposed to be liable is a 50-game suspension. (Update: EF Goldman explains in comments that Selig can invoke the league’s anti-Soviet slander “conduct detrimental to the good of the game” clause).

Would it be irresponsible to speculate that letting the game’s most powerful franchise off the hook for about $100 million in future obligations might possibly have something to do with this?

. . . I missed Scott’s post on this yesterday. (FWIW a friend of mine has had professional dealings with Selig, and says he’d bet a lot of money that Selig wouldn’t hit three figures on an IQ test. He doesn’t say this in rancor — he claims to actually like and even somewhat admire the guy, but he swears he’s genuinely dumb).

Law school in America moves toward an open admissions policy

[ 94 ] July 31, 2013 |

Here is the percentage of law school applicants who were admitted, over the last decade, to at least one ABA-accredited law school to which they applied, by year:

2004: 55.6%
2005: 58.6%
2006: 63.1%
2007: 66.1%
2008: 66.5%
2009: 67.4%
2010: 68.7%
2011: 71.1%
2012: 74.5%
2013: 76.8%

Keep in mind that somewhere around 3% of all law school applicants have the kinds of background issues that create serious liability issues for any school that admitted them. Another 5% or so have entrance qualifications (bottom 5% LSAT scores combined with 2.1 GPAs from bad colleges) that indicate their inability to do even basic college level work, and thus make it almost certain they will not be able to pass a bar exam, not matter how much remediation they are subjected to during law school (low enough bar passage rates could affect a law school’s accreditation). In addition, the average applicant applies to eight schools (there are 202 ABA law schools at the moment), and some significant percentage of applicants will, prudently, not apply to any school below a fairly high rank.

This in effect means that over the course of the last decade, American law schools have moved from a moderately selective admissions model to a quasi-open enrollment policy. If you have a college degree, can get 35 out of 100 questions on the LSAT correct (you are likely to get 20 right by simply guessing, and each year some people rack up perfect scores — it is not, in other words, a very difficult test), and don’t seem likely to go on a shooting spree, you’ll be admitted to a genuine ABA-accredited law school.

The long-term effects of this fundamental shift on the status of the legal profession, and more important, the quality of legal services available to non-corporate people, remain to be seen.

Gordon Gee to be paid $1.16 million per year to be a law professor

[ 51 ] July 30, 2013 |


Pictured: Gee’s immediate academic supervisor

Not The Onion:

*Grant: For each year from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2018, the university will provide Gee with an annual grant of $300,000 in connection with his research on 21st century education policy.

Back story here , here and here.

The problem with back in the day

[ 52 ] July 29, 2013 |

slim charles

I keep getting emails from people regarding the much-discussed Simkovic/McIntyre paper, so I thought it would be worth reiterating a few basic points:

Read more…

An American hero

[ 119 ] July 28, 2013 |

emmett till

Emmett Till in life and death

Willie Reed

Willie Reed

On an August morning in 1955, Willie Reed was an 18-year-old sharecropper living in the Mississippi delta. While walking to a store, he saw brand-new pickup truck drive past him and pull in front of a plantation barn. In the back, 14-year-old Emmett Till was about to be tortured and murdered, for the crime of allegedly whistling at the wife of one of the men.

Reed heard horrible screams coming from the barn. One of the killers then emerged from a barn with a pistol, and asked Reed if he had heard anything. “No sir, I didn’t,” he replied, knowing that any other answer would likely cause him to be murdered on the spot.

A few weeks later, in an act of indescribable courage, Reed testified against two of Till’s killers in a Mississippi courtroom, after walking through a gauntlet of Ku Klux Klan members. Till’s killers were acquitted in 67 minutes. One of the jurors remarked afterwards that the deliberations would have been shorter if the jurors had not paused for a soda pop break. For his own safety Reed was hidden away by a local African American doctor, until he testified again in November, before a grand jury hearing charges of kidnapping against the men who had been acquitted of murder. The grand jury refused to indict, despite the men’s own testimony that they had taken Till against his will and held him to “scare” him.

He was really the best eyewitness that they found,” David T. Beito, a historian at the University of Alabama who has written about the Till case, said Wednesday. “I don’t want to diminish the role played by the other witnesses, but his act in some sense was the bravest act of them all. He had nothing to gain: he had no family ties to Emmett Till; he didn’t know him. He was this 18-year-old kid who goes into this very hostile atmosphere.”

(With no criticism intended toward Prof. Beito, I suggest that under the circumstances “very hostile atmosphere” is a severe understatement regarding the situation the teenaged witness faced).

Reed, who by this point was running a significant risk of being lynched, was spirited away by civil rights leaders to Chicago, where he was kept under police protection for several months. He suffered a nervous breakdown, changed his name to Willie Louis, and got a job as a hospital orderly in 1959, which he kept until he retired in 2006. In 1976 he married, but his wife knew nothing about his role in the Till matter until a relative of his told her eight years later.

After viewing the severely disfigured corpse of her son, Till’s mother insisted on an open casket funeral. Photographs of the body galvanized outrage across the nation. Till’s murder and its aftermath played a key role in the gathering civil rights movement.

Willie Reed (Louis) died last week at the age of 76.

Time was on his side

[ 61 ] July 26, 2013 |

Mick Jagger is 70 years old today. The only Rolling Stones show I ever went to was at the old Silverdome outside Detroit in 1981. He was 38 then, which at the time seemed way too old for his on-stage persona (The most memorable thing about the evening was that local legend Iggy Pop opened, and was bombarded by various objects thrown from the floor by irate Budweiser-fueled groundlings. He took the assault in good humor, telling the crowd between songs that “we must play until we win you over.”).

A fun if slightly depressing parlor game can be played by noting things such as that the distance between Beggars Banquet and today is the same as that between that album and Warren Harding’s presidency. Jagger was 24 when they recorded this:


[ 7 ] July 26, 2013 |

For interested parties who don’t want to wade through the 300,000 words and 40,000 comments at ITLSS, or the much more concise summary provided by Don’t Go to Law School (Unless), here’s an interview I did with the Denver Post, suitable for the attention span of the video game generation.

Now get off of my lawn.

Only 22 people elect to cash million-dollar admission ticket

[ 43 ] July 26, 2013 |

Here’s a puzzler for econometric analysis: Why are only 22 prospective students scheduled to enroll in Indiana Tech’s inaugural law school class next month, when social science has proven that getting a law degree is equivalent to being handed one million dollars in cash?

Speaking of the Simkovic paper, Matt Leichter makes an intriguing suggestion:

(1) On page 44, it says,

Thus, on average and ignoring obvious behavioral changes, the federal government would hypothetically profit from legal education even if it provided legal education free at the point of service.

This is about the moment that I opened to the possibility that “Economic Value” was a hoax like Alan Sokal’s famous “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity,” because it’s the exact kind of absurd policy proposal that a satirist would put into an article claiming law school is worth the money. Just hedging my bets. (Please be a hoax. Please be hoax. Please be hoax.)

(2) Otherwise, “Economic Value” is the “Reinhart and Rogoff” of legal education. I’m surprised I haven’t seen the parallel made elsewhere, and we really should have seen it coming. Sure, it’s probably not going to contain any MS Excel errors or strange weightings, but it’s causal theory is equally nonsensical and should not be taken any more seriously than “Growth in a Time of Debt” is taken today.

Leichter’s more polite criticisms are here.

Seriously, is it necessary to point out the logical fallacies and associated pseudo-empirical leaps of faith at the core of these sorts of arguments?

Those holding bachelor’s degrees earn about $2.27 million over their lifetime . . . earn vastly more than counterparts with some college ($1.55 million in lifetime earnings) or a high school diploma ($1.30 million lifetime), indicating that no matter the level of attainment or the field of study, simply earning a four-year degree is often integral to financial success later in life.

“The payoff from getting a college degree is huge and is actually increasing,” says Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation, a nonprofit focused on boosting America’s number of college graduates. “For people wondering [if] a college degree [is] worth it: Not only is it worth it, but the premium is growing.”

Ah yes, the good folks at Lumina want everyone in America to enjoy the extra million dollars a college degree bestows on its owner:

“Lumina Foundation is a conversion foundation created in mid-2000 as USA Group, Inc., the nation’s largest private guarantor and administrator of education loans, sold most of its operating assets to Sallie Mae. Proceeds from the sale established the USA Group Foundation with an endowment of $770M. The Foundation was renamed Lumina Foundation for Education in February, 2001.”

It should be mentioned that with $1.5B in endowment, they give out no scholarships and seem to exist solely to propogate “we need many millions more college graduates” studies, with a particular emphasis on higher matriculation rates from the lower socioeconomic classes. Now, what do the lower classes need to get through college? That’s right: student loans – both private (which Sallie turns into SLABS) and federal (which Sallie still administers and collects).

Funding source: Sallie Mae

Sponsors/operators: Sallie Mae, USA Group [erstwhile SL guarantor that was in danger of losing its non-profit status when Sallie bought its assets and turned it into Lumina]

Public Agenda: double the percentage of college grads in the US, even though college grads have sported 50% un/underemployment for the better part of a decade now.

Other possible agendas: to ensure the financial health of Sallie Mae by decrying our supposed lack of college grads and getting everyone and their dog to enroll in college, especially if they need student loans. There has been a lot of media coverage on the burgeoning student loan crisis: the 1 in 4 in delinquency, with only 1 in 2 in active repayment (per NY Fed Reserve). The law school crisis. The biz school crisis. The humanities grad school crisis. The liberal arts crisis. The supposed STEM shortage. One can go on and on and on. I have collected north of 300 articles, studies, papers, etc on these trends over just the last two years. Lumina, despite being the largest higher ed foundation in the country, is very careful to…. not say anything about these horrendous outcomes. Nope, all that is needed to solve the country’s ills is to double the percentage of college grads, even though we already have twice as many college grads as the country can absorb. Any correlation between this goal and continued prosperity and revenue growth at Sallie is purely coincidental, of course…


The student loan fiasco

[ 96 ] July 25, 2013 |

Last night the Senate passed a bill to re-set student loan rates. The House is expected to accept this “compromise” measure (compromise being a term of art meaning “a GOP-backed measure acceptable to the Obama administration”).

The new deal essentially jacks up student loan rates drastically going forward, but disguises this with what Elizabeth Warren analogizes to an initial credit card teaser rate.

Here’s how it works. Each year, student loan rates will be determined by the following formula:

Subsidized Staffords will be set at the previous year’s 10-year T-bill yield plus 2.05%. (These are the loans that undergraduates can get for the first few thousand of education costs in a particular year).

Unsubsidized Staffords will be at the 10-year rate plus 3.6%. Grad Plus and Parent Plus will be at the 10-year rate plus 4.6%.

Now because treasury yields were at a post-WWII low last year, this formula actually reduces student loan rates slightly for next year. But it raises them, drastically, going forward, assuming (as the CBO projects they will) interest rates will rise toward anything even remotely close to their historical averages.

For example, graduate and professional students would see their loan rates increase above the current 6.8% (Stafford) and 7.9% (Grad PLUS) rates if the yield on the T-bill were to be at the lowest annual rate it hit in any year between 1962 and 2011. If interest rates climb anywhere close to historical averages, the Stafford and Grad PLUS rates will climb to 9.5% and 10.5% respectively, where they’re capped by the bill.

For undergraduates, subsidized Staffords are capped by the bill at a mere 8.25%, but they would hit this astonishing rate even before interest rates got to their 50-year historical average.

In effect, this bill treats federal student lending, even more than it is now, as a multi-billion dollar per year arbitrage opportunity for the government (unlike almost all other debt, student loans aren’t dischargeable in bankruptcy). This is especially true for graduate and professional students, who by 2015 are projected by the CBO to be paying even higher rates than they currently pay. (How does $200,000 in debt at 10% paid back over 25 years sound? If CBO projections regarding interest rates prove correct, that’s what the average law graduate who matriculates four years from now will be taking on).

A failure of the elites

[ 103 ] July 23, 2013 |

Atrios asks below:

Would like your take on the problem with discussions of this sort being (almost) entirely dominated by people who attended relatively elite institutions and therefore have little real understanding of the question actually being asked.

Here’s a passage from a draft article I’m working on, regarding the stigmatization of recent and not so recent law graduates who are unable to become, in Goffman’s terminology, “normals.” The passage is part of a discussion of why legal academia has been so slow to recognize the crisis which has been building in the legal profession, and our own role in it (The second block quote is from a regular LGM commenter): Read more…