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In mid-July, we wrote about Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and his quest to get answers from the American Bar Association about the future of legal education in this country. Grassley’s inquiry came on the heels of a similar request from Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
Steven Zack of the ABA responded quickly, making sure to pass a great deal of the blame off on the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.
Grassley was apparently unimpressed with the response he received from the ABA, so last week he fired back with a shorter (and snarkier) list of questions.
Recall that Zack’s last response to Grassley touted that “no one could be more focused on the future of our next generation of lawyers than the ABA.” Will those be Zack’s famous last words in this debate?
ABA Claims It Lacks Authority To Stop Proliferation Of Law Schools. And Claims It Doesn’t Matter Anyway.By Elie Mystal
Well, the ABA has now responded. If you’ve been following the ABA closely, you’re not going to be surprised by the response. It’s the usual ABA combination of whining that they can’t do better while arguing that they don’t need to do better, because the market will magically provide jobs for everybody. Not the current market, of course — it’d just be silly to expect that people will have jobs before their loans go into default — but a magical future market that they provide no evidence will actually exist.
All one can really hope for is that people like Senator Grassley take the ABA at its word — and take regulatory authority away from the ABA, to give it to some organization with the will to use it….
We’ve documented the pressure Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has been putting on the ABA. Yesterday, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) decided to join the party. He also wrote a letter to the ABA asking it to “account for its work on behalf of both law students and taxpayers.”
Grassley’s on the Senate Judiciary committee. I bet the ABA will want to stay on his good side….
I’m telling you, the tide is turning against the American Bar Association and the weakness the organization shows when it comes to regulating law schools. People are starting to figure out that major American law schools purposely mislead prospective students about post-graduate outcomes. People are starting to figure out that the ABA hasn’t done enough to stop this practice. And people are starting to try to hold the ABA accountable for its failure to hold law schools accountable.
It’s not just former and current law students who are demanding changes. Right now the ABA is dealing with a U.S. senator who wants action from the organization.
That’s right, Senator Barbara Boxer is once again urging the ABA to do its job….
Today, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer called out the American Bar Association and asked the ABA to require law schools to provide accurate post-graduate employment and salary information about their former students. And so now the movement to get law schools to engage in some basic transparency about the value of a legal education just got some political muscle.
What a day.
And the ABA should heed this warning. Those who are ruined in part due to the misleading information spewed out by American law schools are generally a powerless bunch; the ABA can ignore their cries with impunity. But you ignore U.S. senators at your peril. If you want to turn a blind eye to the senior legislative chamber, you best be a President eager to engage in military action. Heck, with the political muscle of a U.S. senator behind it, maybe the mainstream press will start noticing that America’s future lawyers are lied to by legal educators on a daily basis.
You can read the full press release below (which has been blasted out to a number of publications). Law schools, the time for honoring yourselves is almost at an end….
I have written this column from many places: my parents’ couch, my local Starbucks, my bed, etc. I have yet to try it from atop a soapbox, but here goes.
It is common knowledge that the need for pro bono services is increasing as funding for pro bono organizations is decreasing (or ceasing altogether). As explained by ABA President Stephen Zack, in a letter opposing cuts to funding for the Legal Services Corporation, “[f]inancially, many Americans are still hanging on by their fingernails. The worst thing that could happen is to lose the place people can turn to when their money woes create legal problems.”
Similarly, as explained by Esther Lardent, President of the Pro Bono Institute, in her address at the 2011 Annual Seminar and Forum on In-House Pro Bono, with regard to the impact of the economic downturn, “for pro bono . . . the worst is yet to come.” Lardent explains that the loss of funding to pro bono organizations has posed a “justice crisis,” and the need for legal assistance will increase.
So, as a result of the economy, more people need legal aid, but fewer legal aid organizations are able to meet those needs. Clearly if these people are to be served, private lawyers are going to need to take the laboring oar — and they have. According to Lardent, pro bono hours performed by major law firms increased in 2009 (2010 data is not yet available).
What about small law firms?
* BarMax has launched its new app, BarMax NY for iPad — and it’s giving away one BarMax NY to a lucky law student at each law school in New York. [Yahoo Finance]
* Nancy Gertner and Stephen Shay have been named Professors of Practice at Harvard Law School. Lat wonders if Judge Gertner will wear peep-toe shoes to class. I wonder how it came to pass that I know what a peep-toe shoe is. [Harvard Law School]
* Speaking of the Crimson diploma factory, the Harvard Law Review elected its first “openly” gay president. You see where I put the scare quotes? Yeah, you know it, baby. [Harvard Crimson]
* Professor Larry Ribstein explains why Malcolm Gladwell’s an idiot so I don’t have to. [Truth on the Market]
* The latest on American Needle, from Professor Marc Edelman. [Social Science Research Network]
* Once again, ABA president Stephen Zack seems to get why law school transparency is important. But we’re still waiting for him to actually do something to force law schools to divulge complete and accurate information. [Law School Transparency]
* A “Tiger Cub” talks about how annoying it is to live with “Tiger Mothers” like Amy Chua. You know, if some Western mother went to China extolling the benefits of a laid-back upbringing, wouldn’t the Chinese government just ban her book and get back to lending us money? I think American parents need to put Chua’s book down and go back to letting the television and nanny do their jobs. [Cornell Daily Sun]
* Confession? There’s an app for that (kinda). So, for those keeping score at home, you can pray to God via an iPhone, but you better not be texting about a CONDOM because that still pisses Him off. [Time / NewsFeed]
Disclosure: BarMax is an ATL advertiser.
If you’ve been following along with the trend towards outsourcing over the past few years, you know what American lawyers are up against. Indian lawyers can do American legal work… while American attorneys are shut out of India’s (large and growing) legal market.
As many of you know, President Obama recently
fled traveled to India, and ABA president Stephen N. Zack is begging Obama to use his international goodwill to convince India to stop acting like dicks in an exclusionary fashion with respect to American lawyers and law firms.
Zack’s arguments are simple ones, based on sound business practices, free trade, and fundamental fairness. Yet these arguments haven’t worked on Indian legal authorities, and apparently Obama isn’t any more receptive…
* Which four firms do in-house counsel fear the most? [Law 360]
* Professor Orin Kerr offers a more concise version of my analysis from yesterday of politics and Supreme Court clerk hiring, viewing the issue as a principal-agent problem. [Volokh Conspiracy via Instapundit]
* Speaking of the principal-agent problem, Ted Frank explores it in the context of class-action litigation — and has some harsh words for the “coddled Ivy-League defense attorney that’s afraid of the inside of a courtroom and goes home at night feeling vaguely guilty that he’s working for The Man.” [Point of Law]
* Good news for the next set of Blagojevich jurors. [Chicago News Cooperative]
* What types of questions should law students ask during OCI interviews? [Lawyerist]
* Stephen Zack, the Boies Schiller partner who recently took over as president of the ABA, was just named the Hispanic National Bar Association’s “Lawyer of the Year.” That man is one wise Latino. [ABA Now]