Bad Ideas

Over the summer, the American Bar Assocation announced that it would stop collecting data on law school expenditures. Ignoring law school expenditures is (counterintuitively perhaps) an important legal education reform. Law schools should be spending, and charging, as little as possible. The fact that a law school spends a lot of money on its professors really doesn’t seem to have a great effect on the quality of legal education, especially if that quality is at all measured by job placement rates.

Of course, getting the ABA on board is only part of the battle. In June, we noted that the real prize is for U.S. News to stop rewarding law schools for spending as much as possible. A law school shouldn’t be able to improve its ranking by tricking out its library or giving its faculty fat raises in a market where law school tuition is far too high.

I had expected U.S. News to follow the ABA’s lead. Law schools might not be the most transparent institutions, but they generally try to avoid lying to the ABA (at least some of them do). But without an ABA check, there’s nothing to prevent schools from lying to U.S. News to inflate their expenditure figures in an attempt to game the rankings. Reasonable people can disagree about what factors should be important in a set of law school rankings, but I had assumed U.S. News would at least want their data to be tied to reality, instead of made-up statistics offered up by law schools without any independent auditing or fact-checking.

It turns out, I was wrong…

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Midwesterners may represent the most wholesome portion of our population, but their lawyerly brethren have allowed their libidos to get the better of them.

Take Kenneth Kratz, the sexting district attorney from Wisconsin who once notably told one of his victims, “You may be the tall, young, hot nymph, but I am the prize!” Another fine example is Reema Bajaj, a young solo practitioner in Illinois who pleaded guilty to engaging in prostitution (and was also accused of trading sex for office supplies).

Now we’re hearing about a public defender who was allegedly unable to keep it in his pants. Coles County Public Defender Lonnie Lutz held his position for 33 years before retiring in June. In the final years of his service as PD, he allegedly took advantage of the attorney-client relationship by repeatedly sexually harassing and fondling his female clients, but not all of them — “only the special ones.” The sweet nothings Lutz allegedly whispered to his “special” clients are quite… graphic in nature.

Is Lonnie Lutz just a horny old man? Let’s find out…

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Welcome to law school, sit anywhere you’d like.

In 2011, when Indiana Tech announced it was going to open a law school in Fort Wayne, Indiana for no good reason, Indiana Tech President Arthur Snyder said that access to legal education in Indiana was a big reason for opening the fifth law school in the state: “There are potential students who desire a law school education who cannot get that education in this area, and there are people in our state who need legal services who don’t have access to them.”

This was always an incredibly weak argument. Now, as Indiana Tech is set to welcome its first starting class, we have some measure of proof that those 2011 prognostications were as incorrect as everybody knew they’d be in 2011….

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Brian Zulberti

Finding a job as a lawyer is incredibly difficult these days for young law school graduates, and desperate times call for desperate measures. Some new lawyers have been forced to take a much more innovative approach to their job searches.

In an overcrowded job market, sometimes unemployed law school graduates have to resort to some rather unorthodox measures just to get a foot in the door. After all, if you’re going to send unsolicited emails to hundreds if not thousands of attorneys, who needs a résumé when you can send a selfie instead?

That’s what a recent Villanova Law graduate did, and after all of the fanfare he received as a result of his viral job search tactics, he’s got something to say. Inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr., Brian Zulberti has a dream…

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The job scene for recent law school graduates is still pretty rough. A little more than half of the class of 2012 managed to secure full-time, long-term positions as lawyers within nine months of graduation, and now that a year has passed, many of them are still struggling to find employment. They’re doing anything and everything they can to find work, from advertising themselves in text ads on Google to trawling the legal/paralegal section of Craigslist all day long.

Others, however, have resorted to more guerilla-esque job search tactics, like sending out emails to hundreds, if not thousands, of practicing attorneys across an entire state. We managed to get our hands on one such desperate email, and rather than including an accompanying professional photo, the sender decided to attach a grainy picture of himself with his sleeves rolled up, showing off his guns. Seriously? Has this man no shame?

After a quick Google search, it seems like the answer is no. Protip: If you’re trying to find a law job, make sure there aren’t half-naked pictures of yourself readily available online…

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The headline comes from a tipster, but I think it perfectly sums up the Cardozo note in their latest alumni newsletter. Cardozo has issued an intellectually soft apology that admits what they did, but completely glosses over why they did it. “Aww shucks, we’re just goofy!”

Last week, we caught Cardozo trying to game the U.S. News ranking system by encouraging students to make token donations in order to pump up the school’s alumni participation score. The school said that alumni participation was a factor in the U.S. News law school rankings, but it turns out they were wrong.

The school is now apologizing for the error. They’re not apologizing for trying to game the rankings, they’re just apologizing for being wrong about how to do it….

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I almost feel bad for Cardozo. Yesterday, we reported on how Cardozo was trying to convince the class of 2011 to give money to the school on the theory that even a small donation will help the school move up in the U.S. News law school rankings, thus increasing the “value” of a Cardozo Law degree. Yeah, the campaign isn’t about how giving more money will deliver more value to Cardozo students in terms of job opportunities or educational experience. It’s just a hard sell that a higher ranking equals “value,” and an instruction on how Cardozo alums can help the school game the system.

And it turns out that the strategy isn’t even an effective way to game the rankings. The school is actually wrong about how the rankings work.

Look, I have to be one of the foremost authorities on “stupid things law schools do” in America. I believe I meet all of the Daubert requirements to be qualified as an expert on this topic on the Internet. In my expert capacity, I hereby testify that this Cardozo thing is the dumbest alumni giving campaign I’ve ever seen….

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And now back to our regularly scheduled programing. We join this episode of “My Law School Nearly Got Away With It,” already in progress.

We all know that law schools do all kinds of things to game the U.S. News law school rankings. U.S. News knows this, yet does little to stop this behavior. But rarely do we catch a law school red-handed.

Here, we have a school openly calling upon its students to do something for the express purpose of increasing the school’s U.S. News rank.

Even more embarrassingly, the school is targeting a class of graduates who have generally not had much luck in the employment market. The email suggests that the way to increase the value of their law degree is to give money to the school, since right now it’s not good enough to get them a job…

(Please note the important UPDATE at the end of this post, a punchline of sorts.)

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When Professor Paul Caron of TaxProf Blog sent me a link to a story on his blog last night, all I could do is hit “reply all” and say, “Are you sh**ting me,” only without the bleeps.

I think, my friends, I have seen the most desperate and naked money grab by a law school in the modern era. They’re only asking for a thousand dollars, but if you know somebody willing to pay it, you should just steal $1,000 from them and punch them until they figure out why…

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I think we all know that you can’t really trash a Las Vegas hotel room like they do in the first Hangover movie (and maybe the third, I haven’t seen it). It’s a movie. You also can’t dodge bullets or become a freed slave who kills white people and gets paid for it in the antebellum South.

Of course, most of us didn’t go to a place that’s been called the third-worst law school in America. One attorney’s high-roller birthday party in Vegas allegedly cost the Encore $96,270 in damages and labor costs, and you can’t get out of jail from that by letting a fat kid Taser you…

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