Via Paul Caron at TaxProfBlog, the National Law Journal’s interview of the new American Association of Law Schools president, Kellye Testy, brings us the words so many law students and lawyers longed to hear:
NLJ: It seems that the phrase “law school crisis” has died down a bit, yet enrollments and bar passage rates are still declining. Do you think legal education is still in crisis mode?
KT: I don’t see legal education as being in crisis at all. What I do see is that there are a lot of crisis in our world that legal education can help address. That’s part of why I’m trying to help our academy look outward and talk about the great things our schools and our profession do around what I think of as real crisis: things like incredible inequality and poverty, and violence around our world.
There you go. There’s no crisis. None at all.
So what if admissions have fallen, forcing law schools to admit the marginally qualified, if not the grossly unqualified (at least for being a lawyer; not for getting student loans). So what if ABA approved law schools can’t manage to graduate classes that can muster a 40% bar passage rate. Three years of law school, and more than 60% of a class can’t pass the bar?
The only crisis would be if they couldn’t pay tuition. But they can and do, even if they are so far below the minimal qualifications needed to practice law that bar passage is a distant dream.
But in an amazingly disingenuous non-sequitur, Testy’s answer to the massive institutional failure is to shift the focus.
I think there is a steadying out now after quite a crash in the number of students our schools are admitting, but I really see a lot of people now with their feet under them and looking outward for the difference we can make in our world.
What does “making a difference in our world” have to do with anything? That question is only asked by people who look at Testy’s idiotic response and wonder, is she on drugs? Is she insane? Or does she assume that the lawyers who will read her words are as blind and stupid as she thinks?
Has the legal profession truly reached this nadir of mindlessness? Have the very smart men and women in the Academy decided that anything remotely resembling thought should be abandoned by the president of their association in the hopes of tricking the profession into seeing a connection in her bizarrely disconnected comments?
Who the fuck are you kidding?
Kellye Testy is the dean of the University of Washington School of Law. Among her areas of expertise is “social justice.” And so it comes as no shock that her intellectual implosion should push her to conflate a law school crisis with the wholly unrelated outcome of law students curing “things like incredible inequality and poverty, and violence around our world.”
Whether scholars are now ashamed of having put this dolt in charge of their association, or accept this bizarre and shameless response as long as their paychecks don’t bounce, is unclear. Certainly, Paul Caron recognized the problem, as reflected in his decision to post this insanity. But is this widely recognized by the professoriate? Is it obvious to the profession? Are the law students seeing this as well?
There is a pervasive sense that if we just keep lying to ourselves, problems will magically be cured. Among the most potent of lies is that social justice, not nuts and bolts like bar passage, is the heart of all that ails us. Keep screaming about social justice and it will distract attention from the debt service of unemployed law school graduates.
Oddly, a great many of these same law school graduates are sufficiently stupid that they are willing to have their concerns directed toward the emotionally exhausting issues of social justice, even as they can’t pass the bar, can’t get jobs, can’t pay off their loans and can’t move out of their parents’ basement. But they can spend their days on Twitter ranting about social justice.
Does this mean there is no crisis in law school? Or does this mean we’ve grown tired of discussing the crisis, having made no headway on fixing anything? Are we satisfied with the next generation of lawyers being so unqualified that they would never have gotten into law school but for the critical need to fill empty seats so schools would have the money to law professors could write important law review articles?
At some point, there will be actual human beings in the trenches in need of effective legal representation, and the old guard of the legal profession will no longer be around to assist them. Will there be lawyers capable to represent them?
Of course there will. There’s no law school crisis. Kellye Testy says so. And this is okay with the profession?