Professor joins the fight against “law school scams”

Lost in Cooley Law School’s lawsuit against “rockstar53” and his blog “The Thomas M. Cooley Law School Scam” is the fact that there IS a major problem in the legal industry as law schools seem to be oblivious about the fact that there aren’t enough legal jobs for new graduates to fill or they just don’t care as long as they’re getting paid.

After all, while he may have chosen to single out Cooley as the subject of his frustration, rockstar isn’t the only one out there with the opinion that the placement numbers reported by law schools don’t appear to be matching the experiences reported by recent grads. A quick Google search will find a number of these blogs, perhaps inspired by legal blog monsters Above The Law, such as Third Tier Reality, First Tier Toilet, Law School Scam, etc.  The point of all of these blogs is that law schools are luring new students with fake job numbers and the promise of a better economic future and wind up leaving them jobless or in jobs with far lower economic prospects and a mountain of nondischargable student loan debt. The story has also picked up steam in the mainstream media of late, with the New York Times and The New Republic, among others, discussing how some law schools entice new students with grants they don’t expect to renew and how many schools’ numbers are skewed.

Joining these voices is a new voice; a professor at an unidentified first tier law school has recently started his own “scam” blog, Inside the Law School Scam. (The identity of the blogger was verified by Inside Higher Education.)

“LawProf” posts daily, often at length, about the problem from inside the law school. Some examples:

I’m happy to concede that the simple unmodified claim that “law school is a scam” is hyperbolic — and that’s why I haven’t made it.  What I am arguing is that, for a very large number of current law students and recent graduates, the law schools they attend or graduated from have some striking scam-like elements. What does this mean?  A scam is a scheme to obtain money by means of deception.  Of course a huge number of social practices have scam-like elements.  For instance advertising almost always has scam-like elements, and in a contemporary economy advertising and business are intimately intertwined.  The complex social interactions described in books like Michael Lewis’ The Big Short involved quite a bit of scam-like behavior, most of which was perfectly legal (as Mike Kinsley famously observed, “The scandal isn’t what’s illegal; it’s what’s legal”).

From “What does it mean to call law school a scam?

Also interesting was “Understanding the rage of recent graduates” although quoting any of it required quoting the whole thing, so I’ll just link and let you read it directly from the site. The post discusses the popular rationalizations of the current law school system and why he feels they are wrong.

He’s also discussed keeping costs down and what the student’s tuition actually pays for, such as a professor’s law review article.

But he’s a law professor, so he must be part of the problem, right. From his first ever post, “Welcome to my nightmare”:

When people say “law school is a scam,” what that really means, at the level of actual moral responsibility, is that law professors are scamming their students.
We don’t mean to, of course. Like my learned colleagues, I’m just a soul whose intentions are good! And anyway it’s mostly the dean’s fault — it’s not like I was ever consulted about raising tuition 130% etc. etc. Yes there are so many excuses — I hear them every day (or would if I ever saw my co-workers in the office in the summer. Oh yes they’re “working at home.” More on that soon . . .). . .

In the end, the fact that law professors don’t intend to scam their students is irrelevant. We are scamming them, or many of them, and we know we are — or we would know if we paid any attention at all to the current relationship between legal academia, legal practice, and the socio-economic system in general, which naturally is why so many of us avoid doing so at all costs.

The blog certainly seems worth following if you’re interested in the subject.

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