Saturday, October 21, 2017

First Tier Heist: University of Chicago Law School

Tuition: If you have a heart condition, do not read the next sentence. Full-time tuition at the Univer$ity of Chicago Law $chool amounts to $61,626 – for the 2017-2018 academic year. There is also a Student Life fee of $1,164. I’m sure that you will have plenty of time – in between studying your brains out in the library, home, or city bus – to take advantage of what it offers. First year students will also be assessed a $75 Transcript Fee, plus a Computer Allowance charge of $1,500. What a bargain.

Total Cost of Attendance: According to the same page, the law school lists the total estimated COA as $93,414 for first year students, and as $91,839 for those in their second or third year. Think about that for a moment. Let that figure sink in, and if that doesn’t take your breath away, then you are from a wealthy background or from a truly connected family. Then again, you could merely be a fool.

The school lists room and board as $16,830; personal at $2,880; and transportation costs as $2,502. In order to get a better picture of the total annual price tag, we will prorate those three items. Student loan fees, books and supplies, and health insurance costs will remain unchanged. This is fair, since actual students will require expenses over a full calendar year, and not just for nine months.

After prorating those three areas, the more accurate estimated Total Cost of Attendance is $100,818 for first year law students at the Univer$ity of Chicago. However, it is "only" $99,243 for second and third year students. Keep in mind that these costs are for a single year of law school! Good luck avoiding the need to take out private student loans, for your first-rate “legal education.”

Ranking: As you can see, the Univer$ity of Chicago Law $chool is rated as the 4th greatest and pristine land school in the land, by US “News” & World Report. Then again, it is a full six spots ahead of Northwestern University Prtizker SOL. That makes it the best in$titution of “legal education” in the Windy City. And tuition is not much more expensive than Northwestern’s law school.

Employment Placement Statistics: You will notice that there were 215 members of the University of Chicago 2016 graduating law class. Every one of them reported working in full-time, long-term positions within 10 months of receiving their law degree. By the way, 10 of them landed jobs that were funded by the law school or university. That’s one way to ensure full employment.

Scroll down to Employment Type, to see how well the class is doing. In fact, 144 were employed in private law firms within 10 months. Of that figure, 19 were in offices with 251-500 attorneys – and 107 were with firms that have more than 500 lawyers. It would be interesting to see what portion of these come from families who can afford to foot the bill for their law degree. As you will see shortly, nearly 40% of this class did not take out a dime in student loans to attend law school.

Another 36 landed article III clerkships. These guys will do just fine, once their year is complete. This school is expensive as hell, but it might actually be a relatively safe bet. Keep in mind that most Biglaw associates are churned and burned within 3-5 years. Hopefully, you earn enough in that short span to repay your student loans.

Average Law Student Indebtedness: USN&WR lists the average law student indebtedness - for those members of the University of Chicago JD Class of 2016 who incurred debt for law school - as $134,148. By the way, only 62% of this school’s 2016 graduating cohort took on such toxic debt. Remember, this amount does not even include undergraduate debt – and it also does not take accrued interest into account, while the student is enrolled.

Here's some more good news. While the law school was ranked 4th best in terms of overall reputation, the school’s 2016 graduating class was only the 50th most burdened by additional law school debt. I suppose that does make it a great deal, for those smart enough to gain entry. It’s even better for the 38 percent of this class that did not take on any student loans for law school. That is nearly 2/5 of the entire cohort. Have fun competing against those rich young men and women for the best law jobs out there.

Conclusion: If you are not from a ridiculously wealthy family, or you are not married to a top rate cardiologist who wipes his ass with $20 bills, then you have no business attending such an outrageously “institution of higher education.” It’s a sad statement, but I’m not the one who made the rules about wealth and connections being the rest route to “success.” By the way, the rich kids in your class do not even need the credential. It’s more of a vanity thing with them. When they’re playing at Augusta National or having their next yacht party – comparing their Rolexes – it might give them something to talk about with their friends or associates. Based on this Wikipedia entry, the Univer$ity of Chicago Law $chool was “founded by a coalition of donors led by John D. Rockefeller.”

Here’s something else to consider: even if you break your neck trying to join The Club, you may never really fit in with your surroundings. History provides countless examples of this outcome. And if you don’t manage to become a tenured “law professor” or a Biglaw partner, you may struggle to repay your student loans. It seems that even medium-sized law firms don’t want supposed Biglaw failures or washouts – and there aren’t a ton of in-house positions afterward, either. In the end, if you feel the outrageous cost of admission is worth it to you – and that you can commit fully to a spartan lifestyle for several years – then feel free to enroll. Sadly, too many lemmings think that they have a shot at these types of jobs – with a JD from a second tier diploma mill. Per usual, if you are rich, enter with no hesitation.

Monday, October 16, 2017

First Tier Trap: Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law

Tuition: If you have a heart condition, then it may be best if you skip this paragraph entirely. For everyone else, take a deep breath before reading the following sentence. Full-time tuition for the Northwestern University JD program is $61,784 – for the 2017-2018 academic year! That number is for a single year of “legal education.”

I’m sure the “professors” and deans will tell you that this is a great investment. If you are not from an extremely wealthy family – or you do not have a full scholarship - then you have no business attending such an expensive in$titution of “higher learning.” Plus, it is still not Yale, Stanford, or Harvard. In fact, it is the second best law school in the city of Chicago!

Estimated, Total Cost of Attendance: According to the same page, the total budget for the current school year will amount to $87,150. Yes, you read that correctly. That is simply outrageous. Do you have that money in your couch cushions? Again, if your family is incredibly wealthy, then I suppose you will be okay with attending this school.

The school provided the following figures: room and board add another $14,040 to the total; personal costs amount to $2,610; and transportation an additional $1,584. Seeing that actual law students will require living expenses for the entire year – and not a mere nine months – we will prorate those three items. Health insurance, books, and loan fees will remain unchanged – and those areas reach $7,132.

Prorating room and board, personal expenses, and transportation, we reach a more accurate total cost of attendance figure of $93,228. Remember, this is for a single damn year of law school. At a minimum, you need to be sure that a Biglaw position is a certainty – before even applying to this school. And since those jobs do not tend to last that long, even that is not a good enough reason to take on such levels of non-dischargeable debt.

Rankings: After that essentially insurmountable cost of attendance, this has to be the greatest and most magnificent law school in the entire country, right?! Not so fast. US “News” & World Report lists Northwe$tern Univer$ity Pritzker $chool of Law as the 10th best law school in the United States. It shares that rating with Duke University. In contrast, the University of Chicago is ranked as 4th highest in the land.

Employment Placement Statistics: Let’s take a look at the school’s Employment Summary for 2016 Graduates. You will notice that there were 249 members of this class. Of that figure, a total of 231 reported working in full-time, long-term positions. That is an effective employment rate of 92.8 percent. By the way, eight of those were in jobs that were funded by the law school or university.

Counting those in full-time, short-term jobs and part-time positions, 236 members of this school’s Class of 2016 were employed in some capacity – within 10 months of receiving their JDs. That equates to 94.8% of the cohort. In sum, this “top ten” law school did not provide great results for everyone in the class. And at such ridiculous costs, this is unacceptable. Imagine if you bought a brand new Audi or Jaguar, and within a few months, it stopped running. At least then, your car would still be under warranty.

Under the Employment Type subheading, you will see that 168 graduates from this class reported working in private law firms. Only two of these JDs were employed on a part-time basis. Seven landed employment in firms of 251-500 attorneys and 142 secured jobs in offices with more than 500 lawyers. That means that 59.8 percent of this class found employment that would pay enough to allow the law grad to reasonably repay their law school debt. Again, that is less than 3/5 of the graduating class.

Average Law School Indebtedness: US “News” lists the average law student indebtedness - for those members of the Northwestern University JD Class of 2016 who incurred debt for law school - as $154,923. By the way, only 65% of this school’s 2016 graduating cohort took on such foul debt. Keep in mind that this amount does not even include undergraduate debt – and it also does not take accrued interest into account, while the student is enrolled.

On the positive side, while the law school was ranked 10th best in terms of reputation, the school’s 2016 graduating class was only the 15th most burdened by additional law school debt, on average. And it has sole possession of the latter honor. Also, fully 35 percent of this class did not take on any student loans for law school. Now, good luck competing against those rich kids for the best law jobs out there.

Conclusion: In the final analysis, the cost of attendance at Northwe$tern Univer$ity Pritzker $chool of Law is prohibitive. While it seems that a fair amount of students land Biglaw jobs, ask yourself if you want to be in the position of having to stay in a large, white shoe law firm for several years. And as others can attest, that is certainly not all in your control. If you don’t make partner relatively quickly, i.e. if you do not bring in big business for several consecutive years, then you can expect to be kicked to the curb within 3-5 years.

Does anyone think that the typical JD who either quit or got canned from a “prestigious” job within a few years will be able to waltz into a similar post, with no problems? Other large law firms will see you as damaged goods, even if you went to the second best law school located in Chicago. Lastly, remember that fully 35% of the class did not incur any education loans to pay for law school. How do you figure that you will be able to compete against those rich students for the best available jobs?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Second Tier Public Dumpster: University of New Mexico School of Law

Tuition: New Mexico residents attending this public toilet, on a full time basis, will be charged $16,597.92 in annual tuition – for the 2017-2018 academic year. Out-of-state, full-time law students will be slammed with tuition costs of $36,247.92, for the 2017-2018 school year. What a bargain for non-residents, right? Don’t forget that UNM law students will also pay $275 in required fees each semester. That increases the totals by $550 for each group of suckers/law students.

Total Cost of Attendance: According to the same page, other costs will add another $16,150 to the price tag. Of this amount, room and board is estimated at $9,662; transportation will be $1,854; and miscellaneous expenses will total $3,402. As such, the total annual figures are $32,747.92 for in-state students and $52,397.92 for full-time, non-resident law students, at the Univer$iTTy of New Mexico SOL. With required fees tossed for good measure, the amounts are $33,297.92 and $52,947.92, respectively.

Keep in mind that these are based on academic semesters. Seeing that actual law students will require living expenses for 12 months – and not a mere nine months out of the year – I will prorate the three factors noted above. Doing so, we come up with the following numbers: $12,882 for room and board, $2,472 for transportation, and $4,356 in miscellaneous costs. Books will remain unchanged at $1,232. That is a sub-total of $21,122, which is an increase of $4,972 over the school’s posted estimate.

Counting the required academic fees, this brings the grand total – for 2017-2018 alones – as $38,269.92 for full-time, in-state law students. The amount for non-residents attending this second tier law school full-time is $57,919.92. This is a more accurate figure. Still want to sign on the dotted line? By the way, do you imagine that there are a ton of law firm and other legal positions in the state?

Ranking: Based on these high costs, one would expect this school to have a solid reputation among the academic and legal communities. According to US “News” & World Report, the Univer$iTTy of New Mexico $chool of Law is rated as the 77th greatest, most magnificent, and amazing law school in the entire United States!

What a tremendous “accomplishment,” huh?! In fact, it “only” shares this distinct honor with the following ABA diploma mills: University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, University of Miami, University of San Diego, and Villanova. Their mothers must be exceptionally proud. The “professors” and deans there couldn’t care less.

Employment Placement Statistics: Let’s take a look at the commode’s 2016 ABA Employment Summary. There were 113 members of this graduating class. Of that amount, 86 reported working in full-time, long-term positions – within 10 months of receiving their law degrees. One was in a law school or university funded position. That is an effective employment rate of 76.1 percent!

Counting the two grads in full-time, short-term positions as well as the 10 desperate souls in various part-time posts, a total of 98 were considered employed for the purposes of this survey. I suppose the school considers that to be an 86.7% employment rate, i.e. 98/113. Are you still impressed by this in$TTiTTuTTion of “higher learning”? If so, then I’m sure you would also be interested in purchasing some swampland near the Everglades.

Here is the breakdown of the 49 graduates who reported working in law firms on a full-time, long-term basis: one solo, 35 in firms of 2-10 lawyers, three in offices of 11-25 attorneys, four in firms of 26-50 lawyers, five in offices of 51-100 attorneys, and one managed to land a job in a firm of 101-250 lawyers. Do you think that YOU, prospective law student, will be the single person in your class at UNM $chool of Law to land that position?! Look at this report for any place that you are considering. It provides great insight into the job outlook facing JDs from each school. If you do not bother to do so, then how do you figure that you will be able to effectively and competently represent other people in legal matters?

Average Law Student Indebtedness: USN&WR lists the average law student indebtedness - for those members of the University of New Mexico School of Law Class of 2016 who incurred debt for law school - as $75,277. Plus, 88% of this school’s 2016 graduating cohort took on such toxic debt. Don’t forget that this amount does not even include undergraduate debt – and it also does not take accrued interest into account, while the student is enrolled.

While this is among the lower end of law student debt among ABA-accredited diploma mills, ask yourself how you will repay an additional $85K+ in non-dischargeable debt – when you are hopefully making $45K per year. By the way, Albuquerque and Santa Fe are not exactly on the cheap side, when it comes to cost of living. And where else are you planning to practice law in that desert?

Conclusion: Do not attend this middling law school diploma factory, unless you have great connections in the state – or are independently well off financially. Then again, if the latter is the case, you would be much better off avoiding a second tier “legal education” – and investing in real estate or some other venture. Remember, you can always hire an attorney if the need arises. You can’t regain three years of your life. The Univer$iTTy of New Mexico $chool of Law will not provide you with great job prospects as a lawyer. If you are in a decent-paying job, with some opportunities for advancement, you would be better served by remaining in that position, making real connections, and earning more income at something you do well. Going to law school at this point in time is nothing more than a risky gamble.

Friday, October 6, 2017

High Student Loan Default Rates at Several Free-Standing ABA-Accredited Diploma Mills

The News: On October 2, 2017, the ABA Journal published a Stephanie Francis Ward article entitled "Is Department of Education data on student loan defaults an accurate reflection of law schools?" Take a look at the following:

"Among the thousands of schools listed in the U.S. Department of Education’s student loan default data released last week, 23 were law schools, all of which have individual identification numbers for participating in Title IV aid…

There could be many more law schools with student loan default rates that aren’t included in the data, says Donald Lively, president of Arizona Summit School of Law.

“Law schools that are part of a university have their default rates aggregated with the university, so it is difficult to determine their default rates. Given that they constitute the vast majority of law schools, however, it could well be that some of them have the highest loan default rates,” Lively wrote in an email to the ABA Journal. His law school had a student loan default rate of 1 percent, according to the data.

The Department of Education Data is for the fiscal year 2014, which has a tracking period of Oct. 1, 2013 through Sept. 30, 2016. according to an agency press release. Between fiscal years 2013 and 2014, the overall student loan default rate increased from 11.3 percent to 11.5 percent, the release states.

Among the law schools with their own OPE ID numbers and a student loan default rate of more than 2 percent:

• Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, Massachusetts—4.8 percent (12 in default among 250 who entered repayment plans.)
• Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego—3.8 percent (20 in default among 530 who entered repayment plans.) 
• Appalachian School of Law, Grundy, Virginia—2.9 percent (three in default among 102 who entered repayment plans.)
• Mitchell Hamline School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota—2.6 percent (eight in default among 306 who entered repayment plans.) 
• San Joaquin College of Law, Clovis, California—2.6 percent (two in default among 76 who entered repayment plans.) 
• Thomas M. Cooley School of Law, Lansing, Michigan—2.5 percent (32 in default among 1,255 who entered repayment plans.) 
• Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, Atlanta—2.3 percent (seven in default among 302 who entered repayment plans.)" [Emphasis mine]

These figures do not tell the full story either. How many graduates are managing to pay the minimum monthly amount, while scraping by on a paltry $43K annual salary?

Other Coverage: On September 29, 2017, Staci Zaretsky posted an ATL entry labeled “The Law Schools With The Highest Student Loan Default Rates.” Here is the full text below:

“Here at Above the Law, time and time again, we’ve warned both prospective and current law students about the dangers of student loans. According to the most recent data reported to U.S. News, recent graduates of public law schools have an average debt of $90,217, recent graduates of private law schools have an average debt of $130,349, and the average class of 2016 graduate has an average debt of $112,389. With debt loads that large, it is imperative that law school graduates secure employment with salaries high enough to service those loans, lest they risk defaulting on their debts. Given the dismal employment statistics that some law schools have continued to post year after year, it seems obvious that graduates will have issues when it comes to repaying their debts; some graduates will allow their loans to fall into delinquency, and other graduates will default on their loans outright.

The consequences of student loan default are severe, and can range from wage garnishments to Treasury offsets to acceleration of the entire debt owed. This is not a situation that anyone would want to deal with at any time in their lives, but some law school graduates have been forced to endure the disastrous repercussions of default.

Are graduates of your law school at risk of defaulting on their student loans? The latest information from the U.S. Department of Education may provide some guidance. During the tracking period for Fiscal Year 2014 — which includes data from October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2016 — six freestanding law schools (i.e., law schools that aren’t affiliated with any college or university) reported student loan default rates greater than 2 percent. For the sake of comparison, five law schools posted default rates greater than 2 percent for Fiscal Year 2013, and six law schools reported student loan default rates greater than 2 percent for Fiscal Year 2012.

As reported by the ABA Journal, these are the freestanding law schools with the highest student loan default rates for Fiscal Year 2014 (you may recognize a few of from prior coverage here at ATL):

• Massachusetts School of Law: 4.8 percent
• Thomas Jefferson School of Law: 3.8 percent
• Appalachian School of Law: 2.9 percent 
• San Joaquin College of Law: 2.6 percent 
• Thomas M. Cooley School of Law: 2.5 percent 
• Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School: 2.3 percent” [Emphasis mine]

Of course, tons of college graduates will choose to sign on the dotted line. Apparently, helping “law professors” to maintain their vacation homes is a worthy endeavor.

Conclusion: We know that the vast majority of freshly-minted attorneys are not in Biglaw. As such, most are making $40K to $55K per year. The information has been out there for nearly a decade. Lower-ranked ABA schools are no longer asserting that 98% of their JDs are employed within 9-10 months of graduation. The cost of admission is outrageous. ABA-accredited cesspools have lowered their acceptance $tandard$. Yet, fools continue to apply and enroll. In the end, these willing marks deserve no sympathy.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Law Schools Are Letting Down Their Students, According to Law Professor Gillian Hadfield

News Flash: On September 20, 2017, Quartz Media published a piece from Professor Gillian Hadfield, under the header "Law schools are letting down their students and society - here are three steps they can take to fix thigns." Take a look at the following segment:

“Another fall, another crop of students arriving in law schools, buying the same casebooks, ready to be taught the same way how to reach the same conclusions for the same exams.

Law schools in the US today have become depressingly single-purpose: training members of a closed profession and failing to equip them to tackle the full breadth of problems facing economies and societies that are undergoing extensive transformations.

Law schools are letting down their students. They’re requiring anyone who wants to do any type of legal work, even the pro-forma and routine, to enroll in three years of graduate school and take on an average debt of $140,000, all the while facing dwindling job prospects.  

This is bad news for students. But it is even worse news for the rest of us. Today’s law schools are graduating hordes of would-be lawyers who are not prepared to respond to, or innovate new solutions for, the pressing legal and regulatory needs of citizens and businesses alike.

The result is an insulated and out-of-touch conveyor-belt profession that has become too complex, too expensive, and too disconnected from the realities people and businesses face. Law is increasingly not getting the job done, let alone addressing the long-term crisis in access to justice and modern challenges such as automation, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, climate change, and safety and fairness in global supply chains.

Today’s law schools are increasingly chasing their own tails, with the holy grail still being a coveted job in a big law firm that serves large corporations. Meanwhile, roughly 90% of Americans dealing with legal matters do so without legal help. And as I have found in my research, even big businesses are unhappy with what is available to them. In a 2011 survey, 70% of global executives reported that law and regulation were the greatest causes of complexity in their businesses.” [Emphasis mine]

The vast majority of Americans who need legal services do that work themselves. Does anyone with an IQ over room temperature believe that this is due to anything other than the inability to pay for an attorney? Later on, she provided the following insight:

“At the highest levels, law is a learned profession—and it should remain intellectually demanding and informed by philosophy, economics, history, political science, and more. But that is not the appropriate benchmark against which to establish the minimum thresholds needed to ensure widespread consumer and commercial confidence.

Law would do well to follow the model in medicine: test law students early in their educational careers to make sure they have acquired basic legal knowledge. Then focus ultimate qualification on candidates’ ability to actually listen to solve real legal problems encountered by real clients.”

Instead, lazy “law professors” prefer the SocraTTTic MeTTThod and “issue spotting.” Then again, their bloated salaries are not tied into their graduates’ results. Plus, most of these “legal scholars” tend to view the practice of law as mundane.

Other Coverage: On September 21, 2017, the ABA Journal featured a Debra Cassens Weiss article entitled “The legal education model is out of touch, writes new ABA commission member.” Read this opening:

“Legal education is too complex, expensive and disconnected, and the American Bar Association has an “effective monopoly” on law school accreditation, according to Gillian Hadfield, a member of the organization’s Commission on the Future of Legal Education.

Hadfield, a professor of law and economics at the University of Southern California, shared her opinion on Wednesday in a piece she wrote for Quartz. According to her, legal education does not equip graduates to respond to or create new solutions for serious legal and regulatory needs for citizens and businesses.

Instead, for nearly 150 years, conventional law schools prepare graduates to “think like a lawyer” and spot potential legal issues with practical training left to employers.

“During the heyday of the industrial nation-state economy, this worked pretty well,” Hadfield wrote. “… What we need now is greater diversity, new methods, and better engagement with the real world. To get the broad and deep innovation in law that we need, we have to fix legal education.” [Emphasis mine]

Hadfield told the ABA Journal on Thursday that she’s not speaking for the Commission on the Future of Legal Education, and she does not know if it would recommend her suggestions in the Quartz piece, which has generated some responses since it was published.”

Let me make break this down for you. The American Bar Association would never recommend the suggestions outlined in the Quartz article.

Conclusion: Law schools will continue to operate the way they have for over a century. They will employ the same methods, because it is cheap/"cost effective" for the school to jam 75 first year law student into one large room - with one boring "law professor." By the way, when ABA-accredited diploma mills increase their clinical offerings, they immediately complain that it is expensive for the school to use so much space to teach smaller numbers of students. Plus, most tenured faculty are older than dirt, which means that they are reluctant to change. And lastly, these "educators" don't care if a significant portion of their class fails the bar exam. After all, they get paid up front, in full - via federal education loans.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Mississippi Bar Exam Passage Rate Continues Downward Slide; Only 53 Percent Made the Cut on July 2017 Test

Let’s Review the Results: On September 18, 2017, the Jackson Clarion Ledger published a Jimmie E. Gates article, under the headline “Mississippi bar exam passage rate dropping.” Read this opening segment:

“Entering the legal profession in Mississippi is once again proving difficult for those seeking to become a licensed attorney.

The July Mississippi bar exam results released last week showed about 53 percent of the 172 who took the exam passed.

The passage rate was slightly better than the February exam when a smaller number took the exam and about a third passed. However, when the February and July bar exam results are analyzed as a whole, it shows a passage rate of 45 percent.

The passage rate in the state has dropped from about 80 percent several years ago.

The bar exam is given in February and July of each year.

The Mississippi Supreme Court annual report for 2016 shows the Board of Bar Admissions processed 27 applications for registration as law students and 343 applications for examination. A total of 276 people took the bar exam in 2016. The pass rate was 68.8 percent, down from the previous year when 75.1 percent passed, according to the report.

No one seems to know for sure why the exam passing rate is declining, but some have suggested it may be that law schools are accepting less qualified students.

Kyle McEntee, executive director of Law School Transparency, said a 2015 investigation by the national organization found that law schools were accepting more students with lower incoming credentials than ever before.” [Emphasis mine]

Anyone with an IQ room temperature understands the cause and effect of these declining passage rates, i.e. the law schools have lowered their admi$$ion$ “standards” to put more asses in seats. Yet, the deans want you to believe that there is no connection between these factors. Yes, it must just be a mere coincidence, right?

Other Coverage: On September 19, 2017, Staci Zaretsky posted an ATL entry simply entitled “This State’s Bar Exam Results Suck.” Read the following portion of that article:

“This spring, the results from Mississippi’s February administration of the bar exam were heavily critiqued for being downright atrocious; after all, a 36 percent overall passage rate is nothing to write home about. Granted, February exams are known to have lower overall passage rates than July exams, but Mississippi’s passage rates for each and every test administered have completely plummeted over the course of the past few years.

Just how bad has the problem become?

The results from Mississippi’s July 2017 administration of the bar exam were released yesterday, revealing that only 53 percent of all test-takers passed. That’s an 18 percentage point drop from the July 2016 exam, and a staggering 27 percentage point drop from the July 2013 exam. Something is wrong here.

Perhaps Mississippi College School of Law interim Dean Patricia Bennett knows why the state’s passage rates have dropped so much in the past few years. Here’s a statement on the issue that she gave to the Jackson Clarion Ledger:

Bennett has said there is no one explanation for the national decline in bar passage rates, and certainly Mississippi is not unique in that regard.

“Many states, including California and Florida, have seen significant declines,” Bennett said. “MC Law has never changed its admission strategy of enrolling students who we believe can ultimately become successful attorneys.”

There’s “no one explanation” for the decline in bar passage rates, eh? For years, we here at Above the Law have chronicled in detail the brutal fact that declining admissions standards have resulted in declining bar exam passage rates.” [Emphasis mine]

Zaretsky is right on the money with her assessment of the situation in Mississippi. Someone should inform Patricia Bennett that ABA-accredited diploma mills in Florida and California have also lowered their admi$$ion$ criteria. Then again, she is already aware of that fact. Frankly, these “legal educators” don’t care if you, the applicant, can pass a bar exam. They are only concerned that your student loan check clears.

Conclusion: In the last analysis, the law schools want to enroll anyone with a pulse – without regard as to whether that person: (a) can pass a bar exam; or (b) has the temperament and skill to represent others in legal matters. That does not even enter the equation for admissions committees at ABA schools.

Courtesy of Law School Transparency, here are the figures for the cohort that entered the Univer$iTTTy of Mississippi SOL in Fall 2013: 25th percentile LSAT: 152; 50th percentile LSAT: 155; 75th percentile LSAT: 157; 25th percentile UGPA: 3.13; 50th percentile UGPA: 3.46; 75th percentile UGPA: 3.67. The situation was even uglier at Fourth Tier Mi$$i$$ippi College $chool of Law for Fall 2013: 25th percentile LSAT: 145; 50th percentile LSAT: 149; 75th percentile LSAT: 153; 25th percentile UGPA: 2.97; 50th percentile UGPA: 3.3; 75th percentile UGPA: 3.59. With those numbers, what did you expect to happen on the bar exam?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Fourth Tier Florida Coastal School of Law Grads Had the Worst Pass Rate on Florida June 2017 Bar Exam; Dean Blames Results on Admitting Dumb Applicants

We Take in Dummies: On September 22, 2017, the Jacksonville Daily Record published a Max Marbut article entitled “Florida Coastal School of Law grads struggle to pass Bar exam on first try.” Check out this opening:

“Of the 132 Florida Coastal School of Law graduates who in July took the Florida General Bar Examination for the first time, only 63 passed — that’s 47.7 percent, the lowest first-time pass percentage among the 11 law schools in the state.

The average first-time pass percentage for the July Bar exam was 68.4 percent, with Florida International University College of Law in the No. 1 spot at 87.8 percent.

In the past 10 Bar exams since February 2013, Florida Coastal students have bettered the state average just twice.

So, what’s behind the below-average performance?

Florida Coastal Dean Scott DeVito said how potential law students are tested and the law school’s niche are the main factors to consider when evaluating the statistics. 

“We take students who don’t do well on standardized tests. The LSAT is a standardized test and the Bar exam is a standardized test,” said Florida Coastal Dean Scott DeVito, referring in the first case to the Legal Scholastic Aptitude Test.

A student’s LSAT score is viewed by many law school admissions officials as being more important than grade point average when evaluating whether to admit a student.

DeVito pointed out that the 75th percentile LSAT score at Florida Coastal – the minimum score that would mean admission for 3 out of 4 applicants – is lower than the 25th percentile score (minimum for admission for 1 out of 4 applicants) at the other law schools in the state.

Florida Coastal’s 75th percentile score for students admitted in 2016 was 149. Compare that to 25th percentile scores at Florida International (151), Stetson University (152), the University of Miami (155), the University of Florida (156) and Florida State University (157).” [Emphasis mine]

Yes, taking in people with 141 LSAT scores is something that is beyond your control as dean of this for-profit, fourth tier in$TTTTiTTTTuTTTTion, right?! Do you expect the state board of examiners to dumb down the licensing test – in order to accommodate your subpar students and graduates, Scott DeVito?

Other Coverage: On September 18, 2017, the Florida Times-Union featured a piece from Eileen Kelley, under the headline “Florida Coastal Law School places last in Bar exam passage again.” Read the following excerpt:

“Less than one-half of all Florida Coastal School of Law graduates passed the Florida Bar examination on the first try, the worst numbers of the 11 law schools in the state.

In Florida, the bar is administered twice a year. The results of the July exam were released Monday.

The Jacksonville school’s pass rate of 47.7 percent puts it at the bottom of all Florida-based law schools.

Florida Coastal has the lowest ranking for the last four consecutive tests. Florida International University College of Law ranked highest with a 87.8 percent passage rate.

Though low, the 47.7 percent passage rate for Florida Coastal is a 91 percent improvement from the results of the winter 2017 examination when just one of every four students who took the exam for the first time passed.” [Emphasis mine]

You know that you are operating a diploma mill when a 47.7% pass rate on the July Bar Exam represents an improvement almost by a factor of two, from the previous administration of the test. What will the school put on its website and recruiting materials? Perhaps, “Florida Coastal: where you have almost a 50/50 shot at passing the Florida Bar Exam.” Sadly, the mentally deficient would continue to apply to this dump.

LST Report Info: Courtesy of the folks at Law School Transparency, here are the stats for the class who entered in Fall 2013, i.e. the same cohort who took this bar exam:

25th percentile LSAT: 141
50th percentile LSAT: 144
75th percentile LSAT: 148
25th percentile UGPA: 2.69
50th percentile UGPA: 2.97
75th percentile UGPA: 3.26

Look at those figures for a moment. What would make you think that such students would be able to kick ass on the bar exam, without some incredible increase in work ethic or brainpower?

Conclusion: In the final analysis, Florida Coa$TTTTal $chool of Law is only in this thing for the money. The "professors" and deans could care less about where their former students end up, as long as the federal loan checks clear. Remember, these supposed "legal scholars" get paid up front, in full. You, the student, are a mere mean$ to an end. Full-time tuition and fees amount to $46,068 - for the 2017-2018 academic year. For $ome rea$on, the school lists this on a per semester basis.
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