As we mentioned today in Morning Docket, William Robinson, the newly appointed president of the American Bar Association, is taking a stand on the status quo of legal education in our country.

But instead of combating 2011′s annus horribilis for law schools by calling for reform, Robinson is defending the ABA’s role, stating that young lawyers “should have known what they were getting into.”

Isn’t it wonderful to know that the man in charge of the ABA is essentially playing the “blame the victim” card when it comes to debt-saddled and unemployed law school graduates?

Yesterday, David Ingram of Thomson Reuters News & Insight sat down with Bill Robinson to discuss the criticisms the ABA faced in 2011, highlighting complaints of joblessness and indebtedness. Robinson noted:

It’s inconceivable to me that someone with a college education, or a graduate-level education, would not know before deciding to go to law school that the economy has declined over the last several years and that the job market out there is not as opportune as it might have been five, six, seven, eight years ago.

That’s funny, because it’s inconceivable to everyone else that someone at the head of the American Bar Association would not know before deciding to make such a statement that law schools have been painting pretty pictures of an extremely opportune job market for the last decade, despite the declining economy.

What planet has Robinson been living on? Certainly not this one if he refuses to admit that year in and year out, law schools have been weaving pipe dreams of near 100% employment rates. Why does he think the law school transparency movement was started? Does he even know that it exists? To be honest, it doesn’t look like it.

Here’s what Robinson had to say about law schools being sued over allegedly deceptive and misleading post-graduation employment statistics:

Robinson said the number of schools in question is “no more than four” out of 200 with ABA accreditation, and he said few lawmakers have expressed interest in the subject. “It hasn’t been a groundswell of comment from Congress,” he said.

No more than four? Just because “no more than four” law schools have been sued thus far does not mean that “no more than four” law schools are guilty of the allegations made in those class action lawsuits.

In case Robinson hasn’t been paying attention during his first six months in office — which he obviously hasn’t been — Jesse Strauss and David Anziska have vowed to make 2012 the year of law school litigation. Fifteen additional lawsuits over post-graduation employment statistics will be filed in the coming weeks. What’s Robinson going to say then? Don’t worry, the number of schools in question is “no more than 19″?

And what about allegations made by David Segal of the New York Times, among others, blaming the American Bar Association’s accreditation process for the rising costs of legal education? Robinson had something to say about that, too:

William Robinson III

[T]he ABA is powerless to hold down costs, he said.

“I should take the lead in telling these schools that they should reduce their tuition to $25,000 a year? No, I don’t think I should do that. I don’t think it would be purposeful. I don’t think it would be meaningful. I don’t think it would accomplish anything for me to do that,” Robinson said.

He said “it’s a complex question as to whether the cost is higher than it should be or is justified.”

The ABA is “powerless”? It’s a “complex question”? The ABA has all the power in the world, and the answer to the question is as clear as day.

No, Robinson doesn’t need to lead the charge for the reduction of law school tuition to $25,000 a year, but it would be helpful if he admitted that it’s problematic when law schools are charging double that amount, and in some cases, even more. It would be helpful if Robinson admitted that it’s problematic when the cost of attending law school will put students into six figures of nondischargeable debt.

But why would he admit any of that? Why would the head of the American Bar Association admit that the organization is doing a serious disservice to law students and recent law school graduates? He wouldn’t, because he needs to protect the ABA’s interests.

That being said, the ABA might want to look into changing its logo to something more appropriate. Our suggestion: Defending Liberty, Pursing Justice… But Only If It Pads Our Wallets.

Because Robinson has chosen to protect the ABA’s interests, instead of protecting the interests of the jobless lawyers for whom he claims to have little sympathy, the title of this post over at Constitutional Daily sums up our feelings quite nicely.

ABA head has little sympathy for jobless lawyers [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
William Robinson is a Stupid Dick [Constitutional Daily]


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