Great News! The Law School Crisis Is Over!

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?

14 thoughts on “Great News! The Law School Crisis Is Over!

  1. Arctic_Attorney

    “Will there be lawyers capable to represent them?”
    Of course there will be. There will just be higher percentage than is currently the case who are not capable of doing so. But no worries, clients can just use tools like AVVO and daytime TV commercials to find the best lawyers around.

  2. Bruce Godfrey

    The best heuristic is never to believe anything positive emitting from the mouths of the law school hacks – nothing from career services, PR people, trade group, officials, “guidance counselors” – etc. Not even regarding the quality of the coffee in the canteen. Not one word ever. Never anything about money or skills.

    They tell the truth sometimes, just like other buncombe artists, but anything both true and positive is more reliably confirmed elsewhere with the silence of the hacks. The only law *professor* I might trust in that hothouse would be one with F-you level money in a private real-life practice; they have one foot in the stirrup and can speak the truth. In some ways, law school is worse than the tobacco industry; if you buy a pack of cigarettes, you will reliably get 20 actual cigarettes.

    1. Fyodor

      I am sickened by your offensive insinuations. Just because law school tuition has quadrupled in the last 25 years even as most other endeavors associated with the dissemination of information have become significantly cheaper doesn’t mean that they are greedy or self serving.

  3. losingtrader

    We should run a test. I’ll apply to law schools using my 35 year- old LSAT score (top 15% or so).

    Honestly, I know enough about most real-world civil law subjects from having paid legal bills for years, I can already do the most important thing:
    write really nice letters citing the law and threatening to sue.
    Perhaps the profession needs something akin to the Recreational Pilot’s License. At least the recreational lawyer isn’t going to crash into you.

    1. SHG Post author

      Go for it. You would be a natural. A nice essay on donkeys and you would be Harvard Law School material

  4. EH

    They need to add a mandatory admissions essay.

    PART 1: Relying on the attached charts predicting law school outcomes by undergrad GPA and LSAT score, explain your predicted law school outcomes.

    PART 2: Relying on the attached charts showing this school’s employment statistics by year and class rank; explain your predicted employment outcome.

    PART 3: Relying on the the attached charts listing earnings and overall debt, and the information from Parts 1 and 2, draft a brief business plan which will result in financial solvency and explain why you are confident you will reach solvency.

    PART 4 If you claim ability to “beat the odds” by performing above your predicted potential:
    1) explain why you believe this will happen. Include specific supporting facts and an estimated likelihood for your claimed outcome.
    2) Estimate the percentage of applicants in similar situations who believe that they, too, will “beat the odds.”
    3) Explain how many of them are likely to be correct or incorrect, and why.

    1. SHG Post author

      “Because I’m special, and you are a bully who’s harassing me and disrespecting my awesomeness.”

      Do I win?

      1. EH

        If you had shitty SAT scores and great college outcomes (assuming you had a non-fluff course load) then you are justified (perhaps) in arguing that your 140 LSAT score is a poor predictor. But that’s a rare case.

        When I used to teach the LSAT, EVERY student thought that they were the exception. I only did a couple of hundred folks, but I literally never met a single student who believed that their low test results were an accurate reflection of their ability. The averages were never denied; all the students were merely exempt.

  5. David M.

    If you said, today, that you’re taking on apprentices, you’d find me on your doorstep by tomorrow. Comes with packed valise, winning smile, barista savings.

    Accreditation. The traditional way.

  6. K Akkaya

    I think the problem is a bit cyclical here… there’s an attempt, originating in some part from law students, to refocus the profession on issues beyond the traditional corporate and political spheres- to broaden the use of law, to make law accessible to everyone, and to remove some of the stigma associated with public defenders and other “social justice” areas in the legal field. Is this social justice? Yes, of course, and it’s infected with the much-discussed millennial idealism. The problem is that law schools are hearing this call to refocus and twisting it, attempting to exploit the social justice crew: “YOU TOO can be a lawyer! Call today for this great deal!” Combined with the marketing of the JD as a jack-of-all-trades degree, one the “teaches you to think” and “can apply to any number of fields, not just musty board rooms and courtrooms!” you have a toxic, but tempting, heap of bullshit. Which, when offered, then reinforces the idealism and belief of those social justice seekers that helped trigger this in the first place. And since
    the standard undergrad degree, especially in liberal arts, doesn’t get you… anywhere, recents grads (who were dumb enough to get liberal arts degrees) are very short on options and looking for something to grab on to to stay afloat. And law schools are generously offering it to them, regardless of qualifications… at full price.

    So of course there’s no crisis. There’s law school marketing, and people buying it (until they can’t pay it back), so the wheel continues to turn. When the bubble bursts, then we’ll have our crisis.

    1. SHG Post author

      It’s bad enough that social justice has been the misguided rationale for the return to authoritarianism, but that it’s also become the new snake oil is excusable.

  7. Pingback: In Place Of Torts, Social Justice | Simple Justice

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