Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.” In contrast, Thomas Jefferson School of Law does not tremble before the toothless authority of the ABA. In fact, the school feels free to respond to utter institutional FAIL with peevish blame-shifting. Either TJSL has a serious problem with its admissions standards or it fails students once they arrive. Or some combo platter thereof. Does it matter? Let’s all stipulate that this is a “bad thing.” But what, if anything, should be done?
There are obviously a range of legal/societal stances toward the treatment of “bad things.” Bad things like cigarettes are legal but have mandatory warning labels. Bad things like the New York Lottery are just a Darwinian tax on the ignorant. Predatory subprime mortgage lenders are subject to a patchwork of federal and state laws. Ponzi schemers face criminal fraud charges. Where a law school charging $120,000 for a dubious product fits into the scheme of bad things is open to debate. So we reader-sourced the question. Last week, we conducted a research poll asking:
• Should the ABA impose national minimum LSAT and/or GPA standards for entry into accredited law schools?
• In what range should the LSAT & GPA cutoffs be?
• Should law schools lose their accreditation if their graduates’ bar passage rates fall below a certain threshold?
• Below what level should a school’s accreditation be in jeopardy?
After the jump, you tell us whether and where the lines should be drawn….
* Occupy Wall Street supporters, please take note: this is how you stage a protest. Yesterday’s internet blackout definitely made lawmakers think twice. SOPA bill backers dropped like flies. [New York Times]
* A judge has nixed Duncan Law’s request for injunctive relief against the ABA. Because really, what’s the harm in a memo about a lack of accreditation when you never had it in the first place? [ABA Journal]
When I saw the abysmal bar passage rate posted by the Thomas Jefferson School of Law on the July 2011 administration of the California bar exam, I opined that TJSL should lose its American Bar Association accreditation. Of course, that won’t happen. The ABA standards on accreditation are so lax that law schools can lie to the ABA and still not get kicked out.
Much to the ABA’s embarrassment, TJSL released some papers to reassure students that even with a 33% first time bar passage rate (and an incomprehensible 13% pass rate for returning test takers), Thomas Jefferson Law was still well within ABA parameters. TJSL sent out an email that reiterated ABA Standard 301, which sets forth bar passage requirements for accredited schools:
Standard 301 (A): A law school’s bar passage rate shall be sufficient, for purposes of Standard 301(a), if the school demonstrates that it meets any one of the following tests:
(1) That for students who graduated from the law school within the five most recently completed calendar years:
(a) 75 percent or more of these graduates who sat for the bar passed a bar examination, or
(b) in at least three of these calendar years, 75 percent of the students graduating in those years and sitting for the bar have passed a bar examination.
2) That in three or more of the five most recently completed calendar years, the school’s annual first-time bar passage rate in the jurisdictions reported by the school is no more than 15 points below the average first-time bar passage rates for graduates of ABA-approved law schools taking the bar examination in these same jurisdictions.
TJSL representatives say that they are in compliance with the two out of the three possible methods of compliance. They even produce a graph that shows how the class of 2011 was an outlier result — not that this graph is really something TJSL administrators should be proud of.
The solution? Blame Bar/Bri, and the students themselves….
* Is the Roberts court really as pro-First Amendment as we’ve been led to believe? Lawyers aren’t really that good at math, but they’ve done studies, you know. And 34.5% of the time, it works every time. [New York Times]
Robinson had the grace and the courage to tell law students it was their own fault for the rampant price gouging that happens as a result of the ABA’s ineffective oversight of law schools. It took real strength of character for Robinson to share this anecdote: “When I was going to law school . . . I sold my Corvair to make first-semester tuition and books for $330.” I mean, how many people in Robinson’s position would be so out of touch that they think prospective law students are driving automobiles that can cover a whole semester of tuition at an American law school!
That’s right, future 1Ls, don’t get too used to your Jaguar XKR. Don’t become too attached to your Lexus hybrid. You’ll need to sell your luxury automobile to pay for law school. D’uh!
Sorry, I’m still flabbergasted that the president of the American Bar Association openly admitted to being a complete joke.
And let me tell you, law school professionals — the people who have to deal with the perception of general ABA incompetence on a day-to-day basis — were not at all happy with William Robinson’s comments….
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?
It woud be nice if the Senate could have actually given this guy a vote instead of forcing the present ugliness.
* The recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the CFPB could get tricky — not because Republicans are outraged by recess appointments (much like Democrats are outraged by obstructionist filibusters), but because Congress isn’t technically in recess, due to the sham sessions Congress has been running. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Is it really that surprising that the unemployed are NOT on drugs? Aren’t Republicans the ones who are supposed to understand that in a market, desirable goods cost money? If you want to drug test a constituency, do a random raid at a white-shoe law firm, and don’t forget your chemistry set. [Huffington Post]
* It’s nice to ask permission before you appropriate somebody’s song as your campaign theme. [Fox News]
* Thanks to everybody who voted for us as their favorite legal blog for news in the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 poll. You’ve given us the strength to keep reporting on spring bonuses, even though they don’t technically exist yet. [ABA Journal]
The lawsuit is doomed. The antitrust argument seems to be that the A.B.A. is limiting the number of law schools. But there are 200 A.B.A.-approved law schools, so if the council’s secret agenda is to limit competition, it’s doing a lousy job.
Jiminy jillickers! ATL editors are going all over the place over the next month or so. Or at least all over the Eastern Seaboard. If we aren’t heading to your neck of the woods on these trips, never fear, we may hit you up on the next time around. We’ve already hit up Houston, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in the past year.
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.
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