Thursday, January 28, 2010

No More Room at the Bench! The ABA speaks!!!

Surely, by now, you've heard of the above-titled article by Mark Greenbaum. It was among one of the first mainstream media articles that addressed the oversupply of lawyers and asked that the ABA become accountable for its sins--namely, failing to regulate law schools. Well, there's been a response!

Here are portions of ABA President Carolyn Lamm's Letter to the Editor, in pertinent part--which I lifted from ATLMy comments are in grey:

To the Editor:

You published a recent opinion piece by Mark Greenbaum. His analysis is premised on incorrect facts from which he draws flawed conclusions. He misstates the number of American Bar Association-approved law schools, ties it to what he describes as a “flood of graduates,” and insists the ABA should “block” new schools. He fails to acknowledge that in fact existing law schools have reduced voluntarily class size and therefore despite a minimal increase in the number of accredited law schools (7% over a 5 year period) first year enrollment grew by only two percent. Hardly producing a “flood of graduates”.

First of all, the flood started in the late 90s--not since the Great Recession.  I have yet to hear about a law school that is voluntarily reducing its class size. I would venture to say that is a fib.  However, I have heard that applications are up 20% and that New York Law School, for example, is expecting 50% more first years this coming school year. That is an additional 250 attorneys when New York City cannot support the tens of thousands of attorneys it currently houses.

Mr. Greenbaum said: “Today there are 200 ABA-accredited law schools in the U.S., with more on the way, as many have been awarded provisional accreditation.” There are 200 ABA-approved law schools. That number includes the six provisionally approved schools. And while he complained about an increase in the number of schools, as we pointed out, the relevant number is of students. Due to self-restraint by the schools, that number did not increase significantly. Greenbaum is even inaccurate in identification of ABA-approved schools in California. He says the new law school at UC Irvine is among ABA-approved schools. That school has not yet even applied for ABA approval. 

I'm sure, when they apply, they will be accredited shortly.  She is using semantics to argue.  Didn't she learn that wasn't an effective means of arguing in law school?

Greenbaum’s proposal to erect barriers to entry in the profession and/or to new law schools would violate the antitrust laws of the United States, something the ABA cannot and will not attempt to do. To violate our nation’s laws as we strive to teach new lawyers ethical and responsible practice would offend public trust and disserve future clients. Before so causally dismissing antitrust “concerns,” Greenbaum should consider the basic precepts of antitrust law that ban concerted action to bar entry to a public profession. He proposes to protect income of lawyers already in practice by clamping the pipeline for bright, committed, energetic and talented new lawyers preparing to serve the public. Rather, the ABA is working to ensure that our profession is open to all from our communities who wish to serve the public. Our profession and those involved in our justice system must reflect our communities. It is a difficult time for all given the economic crisis.

Right, it's unethical to violate anti-trust laws, but it's ethical to defraud 0Ls and lawyers of millions of dollars?  It's also ethical and to issue an decision allowing work to be shipped over to countries that don't share our ethics or laws? That was the ABA's doing... It's evident that the ABA wants to serve the public, as in sell Law School to the general public as a responsible option for one's future.  It is likewise evident that the ABA has no interest in lawyers serving the communities, otherwise, accredidation might be contingent upon low tuition. Or, at least, the tuition costs would be a consideration.  So, are you selling education to lemmings, or protecting liberty and pursuing justice or whatever your retard motto is?

Neither I nor ABA oppose appropriate and responsible regulation. The antitrust restraint in which we cannot participate is in erecting artificial barriers to entry or limiting students’ entry to the profession. What we oppose is regulation with a goal of restricting the number of law schools, an approach that Greenbaum clearly is advocating. He suggests the American Dental Association “assiduously guards the profession and has allowed respected dental schools … to close for economic reasons and to prevent market saturation.” We can’t speak for the ADA, of course, and the ADA might well quibble with Greenbaum’s description of its practices and rationale. But there is a huge difference between allowing a school to close and his suggestion that the ABA should “curtail the opening of new programs and perhaps even shut down unneeded schools.”
The ABA is responsible to the Department of Education in fulfilling its accrediting function, and a key principle in DoE recognition of an accrediting agency is that it be demonstrably independent of the profession served by the schools it accredits, to prevent the profession from imposing protectionist policies on behalf of those already practicing. That is why the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar is actually the recognized accrediting agency, and not the ABA as a whole. The section is required to maintain financial and policy independence from the association, and while it advises ABA governing bodies of its accreditation policies, those bodies do not have veto authority over section decisions. A check of your news archives will likely show the ABA entered a consent decree with the Department of Justice in 1996, and submitted to 10 years of compliance oversight, over just those kinds of issues.

OBVIOUSLY, the distinction between the Section of Legal Education, et. al. and the rest of the ABA, which is supposed to serve the professionals, is illusory.  I have never heard of anyone blaming that the one independent section, but giving credit to the remaing sections of the ABA for looking out for OUR interests.  That being said, the ABA needs to fess up that there is lots more money to be had in accrediting law schools and snuggling up with BigLaw than there is in membership dues.  As such, they stand for law schools and NOT lawyers or lawyers-to-be.  Only then will lawyers stop turning to each other, scratching their heads and saying, "How is the ABA letting this happen?"  We will unionize and lobby Capital Hill for our own interests.

On its web site ( the ABA however does provide young people who wish to become lawyers with realistic information about the economy and their own prospects for employment. The ABA also strives to help lawyers already in practice to cope with an economy that is a challenge for everyone, and to help their clients weather the crisis until we all enjoy economic recovery.

I read this website and it says nothing about your future as a lawyer--how much you'll earn, how likely it is that you'll find a job, how much your loans will cost you monthly.  This information page is as vague as the introduction page to the LSAC booklet on the LSAT.   There is nothing realistic about this"resource."

Finally, with respect to your specific question about requiring changes in the way schools report salary and employment information on their recent graduates, the Section is in fact looking at ways it might revise its annual questionnaire to law schools to elicit additional information. While there is no evidence that we have seen that schools are inaccurate in their reports, we may not be asking all the right questions, and that is under review. But we also encourage prospective students to consider carefully their decision to attend law school, their choices of schools and how they finance legal education. We are concerned about student debt and the burden it places on graduates. But we do not equate that concern with limiting entry into the profession. As I said in my letter, we believe it is important that the legal profession be open to entry from all elements of society. The law is not and should not be a closed club.

This really angers me.  It doesn't take a genius to see that the numbers put out by any given law school are usually erroneous.  Actually, Nando of Third Tier Reality does an expose on different law schools all the time. If you, the ABA, don't see any inaccuracies--you must be blind.  And, instead of encouraging 0Ls to carefully consider "student debt" and its burden, students that are actually not members of the ABA and may not even know of its existence or have access to ABA and "vast" array of resources.  Instead, the ABA should concern itself with those who have acceded to its power  --law schools, law firms and lawyers.  The ABA should make sure that law schools are affordable for future lawyers and should make sure that law firms treat lawyers well and uphold ethical standards. 
What a joke. You may be tricking some idiot somewhere, but you haven't fooled me.



    Apparently, NYLS produced 476 JDs for the Class of 2009.

    Yes, New York needs another 15%-20% more grads from this school.

    Oh, and look at their endowment: $208 million.

    Who says law school is not a profitable industry?!

  2. Lamm belongs on your wall of shame.



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