Monday, July 18, 2011

NYLS: Slammed!

David Segal of the New York Times sliced and diced law schools over the weekend, with particular attention to my fave local school to hate:  New York Law School.  His scathing indictment of law schools generally, and Dean Matasar's hypocrisy was as refreshing as a cold Mike's Hard Lemonade on a New York Shitty 95 degree summer day.  Honestly, if he had thrown in the words "commode," "toilets," "steaming pile of cow dung," etc. I would have to think that Nando of Third Tier Reality doubled as a reporter for the esteemed New York Time.  Please read what Mr. Segal, my new crush, had to say about Dean Matasar's schizophrenic attitude towards law school reform:
For a sense, take a look at the strange case of New York Law School and its dean, Richard A. Matasar. For more than a decade, Mr. Matasar has been one of the legal academy’s most dogged and scolding critics, and he has repeatedly urged professors and fellow deans to rethink the basics of the law school business model and put the interests of students first.
“What I’ve said to people in giving talks like this in the past is, we should be ashamed of ourselves,” Mr. Matasar said at a 2009 meeting of the Association of American Law Schools. He ended with a challenge: If a law school can’t help its students achieve their goals, “we should shut the damn place down.”
Given his scathing critiques, you might expect that during Mr. Matasar’s 11 years as dean, he has reshaped New York Law School to conform with his reformist agenda. But he hasn’t. Instead, the school seems to be benefiting from many of legal education’s assorted perversities.
N.Y.L.S. is ranked in the bottom third of all law schools in the country, but with tuition and fees now set at $47,800 a year, it charges more than Harvard. It increased the size of the class that arrived in the fall of 2009 by an astounding 30 percent, even as hiring in the legal profession imploded. It reported in the most recent US News & World Report rankings that the median starting salary of its graduates was the same as for those of the best schools in the nation — even though most of its graduates, in fact, find work at less than half that amount.
Pitter, patter--my heart.  Oh, be still.
Wouldn't you think this bit of common sense, no nonsense would come from a scamblogger?  Dare I say it, is our opinion becoming common place? 

Of course, the rest of the article is quite good as well.  It's what needs to be said.  Law school is a no-lose proposition for the capitalist pigs in higher education.


At this point, with mainstream media covering the law school scam in such a matter-of-fact manner, who is still considering law school?  Can you just imagine the rag-a-tag group of people that are piling into the halls of NYLS next month.
I am presuming that one must be able to read to go to most law schools.  I presume, in the age of the Internet, one should also be able to research.  So, who would still go to law school with the flood of information available on the web?  If you type "law school" into Google, and press "News"--this is what appears:
Add "law school" section to my Google News homepage


Search Results The Times 'Unearths' The Law School Scam, But Still Can't Explain It‎You +1'd this publicly. Undo
Above the Law - Elie Mystal - 1 hour ago

Over the weekend, you may have noticed that the New York Times suddenly figured out that law schools are cash cows despite offering dubious ...

Blog: Law school tuition, in graphic form‎ Minneapolis Star Tribune (blog)
New York Law School Law Dean Hits Legal Ed, But Hikes Class Size 30%‎ ABA Journal
all 3 news articles »

►Pistons' Wallace headed to law school?‎
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Yahoo! Sports - Mark J. Miller - 4 hours ago
For now, Wallace is at his home in Virginia researching law schools, the Detroit News reports. "The thought has been brewing for years, and he even spoke to ...

Highly Cited: Pistons' Ben Wallace has a future in, not on, court‎ The Detroit News

all 6 news articles »

Law School Economics: Ka-Ching!‎
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New York Times - David Segal - 1 day ago
Legal diplomas have such allure that law schools have been able to jack up tuition four times faster than the soaring cost of college. And many law schools ...
Law Schools Pump Up Classes and Tuition, Though Jobs Remain Scarce‎ Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription) (blog)

all 10 news articles »

Cooley Law School sues over online postings‎
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Lansing State Journal - Matthew Miller - 1 day ago
LANSING - The first post on a blog called The Thomas M. Cooley Law School Scam billed itself as a public service for anyone who might have thought about ...
Highly Cited: Thomas Cooley Law School Sues Kurzon Strauss Law Firm Over Job ...‎ Bloomberg
Blog: Law School Sues New York Law Firm For Defamation‎ Wall Street Journal (blog)
Cooley Lawsuit Update: One Of The 'Cooley Four' Responds To The ...‎ Above the Law
The National Law Journal - Inside Higher Ed

A standard no longer applicable to most law students.
 all 26 news articles »

Hmmm. Issue spotting anyone?  The emphasis is all mine.  To an average schmo--shouldn't the first few articles that come up on Google cause a tiny bit of concern?  Law schools are suing for defamation?  Tuitions have increased 4 times faster than college tuitions? Class sizes increase by 30%??? Dubious and Law School in the same thought???! 

So, are we left to think that these students that the class of 2014 are idiots?  Or illiterate or neophytes? 

Well, I have the special privilege of passing by New York Law School at least once a week on my way to Court.  I always take note of who is grabbing a ciggy outside of their newly built, state-of-the-art building and who is loitering in the lobby.  Actually, last week, when I walked in front of it--some construction workers were out front with a banner that read "New York Law School is Bad for New York City."  I flashed them a thumbs up for an entirely different reason than they stood for--but the premise is the same.  So, what's my impression of the students that I see there?  I guess... I would have to say they look like rich kids.  I'm certain they aren't actually rich though--but they are just arrogant enough to think they will be rich one day and spend accordingly.  I pass by their school with the same Kenneth Cole canvas brief case I've carried since 2002 and the girls at NYLS role up to Civ Pro with a Louis Vuitton tote.  Some of the boys appear to be hipster types. Not really sure how that goes down in the courtroom.  In any event, arrogance abounds when I pass this school and make eyes with a few of the students. 

I think they look down their noses at me as a lawyer who is running to Court--rather than cabbing it.  Sometimes I stop and bum a ciggy from one of them.  In any event, it must take a really arrogant bastard to see all the news regarding the future of lawyers in this Country and somehow think that it won't apply to you--because you're special and you'll be the one to make it.  You're better than everyone else.
 
Well, there's one thing the scambloggers cannot do.  We can't change stupid. 

33 comments:

  1. The biggest scumbag I ever worked with in my career is an NYLS grad who treats everybody who works for her like crap (and I am talking PTSD-inducing-level-abuse), and recently stiffed me to the tune of $2K for contract work I did for her several months ago on the grounds that she unilaterally decided that she should get paid up front for an entirely different case we were co-counseling ON CONTINGENCY (except she quit in a huff for no apparent reason 1 week before the appellate brief was due), and that the payment should come out of my 4 kids' mouths rather than from our client.

    Anyhoo, I do have one mildly positive thing to say about Matasar, and that is that under his deanship NYLS has done a lot with its curriculum to make sure its students actually PASS THE BAR. (I have no idea whether this was something that began under his deanship or whether a predecessor started the program, but I think if you're going to charge those kind of prices, your students really do need to pass!) The law school where I used to work sent me to a conference on the subject of bar passage where Matasar was one of the major speakers. Of course, when I came back and suggested that we implement some of their ideas (like requiring students to take courses in some of the bar tested subject), I got a chorus of, "It's LAW school, not LAWYER school!"

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  2. I have to assume anyone attending this school comes from a wealthy family and has a guaranteed job and/or no need to work for income post-law school, and just wants/needs a J.D. for some reason. Otherwise, they have to be mentally ill or stupid on a level that hovers near clinical amaurotic idiocy.

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  3. 2:25. My sentiments EXACTLY. Man, you're good!

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  4. The last comment at the end of the article is very telling....the idea that one particular law student is "special" and that they will make it.

    In my opinion, that thought in the minds of most OLs is the driving force behind most law school applicants and why, despite so much evidence to the contrary, that law school apps have not taken an even bigger drop. The law schools play up on that mentality. These students MAY get in the top ten percent and MAY get the coveted Biglaw job....the questions is would they really want it? I know too many lawyers who hate Biglaw. So in the end, the most coveted jobs may not even be the most wanted jobs. These applicants think that THEY will be happy that THEY will make a difference and that THEY will make money. The odds of happiness and money are against them despite the BS the law schools spew. I say, like class ranking, there is roughly a ten percent chance of landing that Biglaw job, if that!

    I knew when I went to law school that statistically the Biglaw jobs were out of reach for me. Why? My law school was not top tier. I did however, expect a job, one that at least would pay the bills. I figured that I could get in somewhere, work hard, prove myself, and move up. Such is not the case.

    As I sit here in sunny CA, unemployed, with no prospects, yet tons of experience, I realize that law school was a mistake. I wish I would have known. It appears that there are more people like me than otherwise.

    In the end, future "lawyers" will have to see the light before they get sucked in to the pit. Like subprime homebuyers, I doubt this will be the case. These kids have too much working against them.

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  5. My experience, NYLS is a rich kid's school. Other than a partner who does workers' comp at a large firm, I don't know of any other grads that made it ... if you can call working in workers' comp as "making it."

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  6. Well, there is the fact that the name is so close to NYU, and the school is so close to NYU that someone might mistake its grads for grads from NYU.

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  7. The New York Times article on New York Law School ("NYLS") is full of inaccuracies and false characterizations.

    The author implies that NYLS tuition is unusually high by comparaing it to Harvard's. In fact, tuition at NYLS is comparable to other private law schools in the New York City area, such as Brooklyn Law School, Cardozo Law School, Hofstra and Pace.

    The author harps on the large class that entered NYLS in 2009 but overlooks NYLS' explanation that the yield of admitted students was higher than expected due to the favorable response to the new NYLS building in Tribeca.

    The job market for recent law school graduates has suffered during the recession, and the author has singled out NYLS for blame. This, and the plight of recent law school graduates, is regretable.

    On the other hand, if you peruse the websites of major law firms, such as Cleary Gottleib, Skadden and Proskauer, you will see that NYLS is well represented.

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  8. Do not forget to read the comments to the article. A key comment that came up, but totally missed in the article (and starts at comment 131) is

    (131) Why is Mr. Matasar's position as Chairman and Treasurer of Access Group, the huge law school loan provider, not explored or even mentioned in this article?

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  9. See NYLS's point- by- point response

    http://www.nyls.edu/news_and_events/matasars_response_to_nytimes

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  10. Re: Matasar and Access Group.

    Financial disclosure says that he (along with the FIVE - count'em FIVE - other law professors or current or former law school deans on Access Group's eight-person board) have no "reportable" income for their four hours weekly of work.

    I am not aware that that does not mean he receives no compensation at all, but I don't know what that compensation might be.

    The issue of compensation aside, however, one wonders whose interest Matasar was looking after when his school raised tuition to supra-Harvard levels and expanded 2009's enrolment by a full third. Was that move in the best interests of NYLS, Access Group or himself? Surely, it can't be true that it was in the best interests of ALL three and that there is no conflict - the cold, hard numbers bear that out - he is screwing any hope NYLS had at a decent reputation by off-loading a bunch of pointless J.D.'s onto the job market, and he was creating (likely) more defaulting accounts for Access Group. He must have known.

    And then there is the compensation issue . . . again.

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  11. If legal academics cannot sit on the board of Access Group, who should comprise the board?

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  12. People who, you know, know something about running companies perhaps - particularly companies that act as lenders?

    Again, though, the issue is not about whether law school deans have any place at all on a board of directors. We're talking about whether you need 5 of 8 people on the board to be law school executives. Different issue.

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  13. I hope this doesn't post twice.

    But that's not a complaint against Matasar specifically. It is one thing to say there should be a better mix of folks on the board. Maybe so. But the board should have some people who are involved in the industry in question-- that is to say some academics. Maybe you aren't the same Anonymous who wrote earlier. But I took that comment to be saying that being an academic on the board of an outfit that gives out student loans is an inherent conflict. That's not right.

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  14. Yes. It's the same Anonymous. I see your interpretation. I get what you're saying.

    Let's see if I can parse the issues a bit: Is it appropriate to have an academic from the industry in question on the board? As a general rule: Yes. I think we agree there. Right?

    Does it give me pause that a financial lending institution has 5 of 8 board members who are law school executives and another who is a MBA dean or professor? Yes. I imagine you agree that it's a somewhat curious arrangement.

    Is there an inherent conflict any time a law school professor or dean serves on Access Group's board? Absolutely not. Has Matasar done things that raise a question in his case? I think that's a fair question.

    When Matasar raises tuition in excess of Harvard's and expands the incoming class by 30% (with the convenient timing the NYT article points out), does his position on the board at Access Group not become relevant? And is it not fair to ask whose interests he's looking after and whether he can satisfy all his obligations without running into a conflict?

    In the first instance, I think the issue is raised by his conduct, not by his position as a dean. In the second, the question about how Access Group does business is raised by how its board is weighted and, given that its main activity is lending (and not educating future lawyers), about how it is using positions on its board. Yes, Access Group needs expertise about how law schools are run. That's fair enough. But is it using a board position for another reason? The financial disclosure raises the possibility, but provides insufficient information to answer one way or another.

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  15. I think I understand what you are saying. But I also think you are mixing things together that don't necessarily connect. I am no expert on Access Group. But, I don't think the board members get paid to be on the board. And if they did get paid, what is the specific concern? Is it that they might be paid or that being on the board means they have an incentive to give out loans to students. But giving out loans to students is the whole point of Access Group, and would be the point if all the board members were non-academics.

    As for tuition, the relevant comparison is not Harvard, but other schools in the the NYC area. There are at least 5 schools in the area that are more expensive, and most all of them seem to be bunched up together. That's how it is in education at the college level and graduate level with private schools. Everyone charges about the same, even though the quality may be wildly different. There are plenty of schools that are no where near as good as Harvard College who charge more. It's a mistake to look at the economics of higher education and compare it to other industries. It does not work the same, and it never has. But, again, that has nothing to do with Access Group.

    Matasar explained again today that NYLS accepted 30 percent more people in 2009 because despite having offered fewer places to applicants, far more people than they expected accepted the offers. These were not people on a waiting list. They had been accepted. Once you admit people, you can't write back to them and say, 'Oh, forget about it." That would have been a disaster.

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  16. By the way, I'm not saying your concerns about the makeup of the board are illegitimate. I'm just suggesting that a situation can be a problem with out also being the result of a fraud or bad morals.

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  17. Yes. You're right. Mixing things together which don't apparently connect is exactly what I'm doing. That's why so many of my sentences ended with question marks.

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  18. The comment at 10:14 is so telling. Blood in the water. The shills have shown up to . . . ahem . . . manage the comments here.

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  19. I don't manage comments. This is a "free speech" forum. Shills are welcome and shot down.

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  20. @Angel:

    Wasn't referring to you. Was referring to the shill @ 10:14.

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  21. To 9:19 - As I pointed out in my blog in December 2009 and Jan 2010, Matasar accepted extra students in part to pay for more remodeling of the school. I had talked to several people working at the school when I noticed that 250 additional students had been admitted that year. It wasn't a "mistake." The one thing Matasar knows how to do is count.

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  22. NYLS remodeled the school (built a new building) by selling a part of the school's land at the height of the market. TriBeCa real estate was then, and probably still is, the most expensive real estate in NYC. There was an article in the Times about it when it happened.

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  23. It's amazing that all of the NYLS apologists are coming out of the woodwork now. I guess he has done something right if people that he screwed are willing to stand up for him. It must be Stockholm Syndrome.

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  24. @ Angel:

    Agreed! Guess the bloggers are doing something right, too! Blood in the water.

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  25. New York Law School is a fucking welt on the legal profession. You can literally be #1 in the class and no one gives a shit because of the stink that dump lets off. It should be shuttered immediately.

    Anyone who has gone there will tell you this and/or has worked with anyone who went there can tell you--It's graduates are borderline retarded.

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  26. So, the problem is not the school--administrators and faculty-- it's the students themselves?

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  27. To 9:08 NYLS sold air rights, not land, back in 2006. They ran out of money, and needed to admit more students to pay for the extra costs of remodeling their old building after spending close to 500 million on the new building. Get your facts straight and take your nose out of Matasar's ass.

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  28. No, that is not correct. The deal involved air rights AND the sale of the Mendik Library building--which was built on land. The building was demolished, and a developer has plans to put a tower there. The deal was described in a number of papers at the time, including the NY Times. It can easily be looked up. Here, from the Tribeca Trib"

    "To help pay for the building, the school sold its Mendik Library property at Church and Leonard Streets, along with unused air rights, to Izak Senbahar and Simon Elias of the Alexico Management Group for $136.5 million."

    It is simply not true that everyone who disagrees with you, or points out errors, has his/her head up anyone's ass.

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  29. One more thing... the school transferred air rights from its parking lot to the Mendik building so that the developer who bought that property could go higher than they would have been allowed without the transferred air rights,aka transfer development rights. The tower can be as high as 57 stories. That made the property more attractive.

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  30. And 500 million dollars on the new building? Where does that figure come from? I'm serious, what is the citation for that? David Segal's article said that Fordham is building a 22 story building for 250 million. Here's a source on costs. Scroll down to 35:

    http://newyork.construction.com/projects/TopProjects06-08/31-35.pdf

    If that is wrong, and it could be, say how and why it is wrong.

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  31. you are right... you can also find latest Education Loans news online.

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  32. As an '06 grad I feel compelled to contribute to this conversation.

    After graduating NYLS, I was painfully aware of the 'reputation', but in the actual practice of law, I have found that my education was - in most cases - superior to that received by peers from higher ranked schools. I attribute this to the fact that NYLS cannot and could not attract the published 'scholars' as professors, but rather employed professors who actually practiced and succeeded in real life and who imparted more than just a theoretical view of supreme court matters.

    Subsequently, I have found that neither NYLS or any other school prepares lawyers for the 'actual' practice' of law, ie. motions, hearings, oral argument and most importantly profits and losses.

    Maybe I just paid attention, or other NYLS grads are lazy; but to claim that you "as a graduate" should be 'entitled' to a certain level of job or earnings is ludicrous.

    This entire blog and the soon to be dismissed lawsuit is without merit. Whether it be Harvard, NYU, or any other law school, the basic tenant of law school is to provide two things: a legal education and an opportunity to take the bar exam - NO MORE.

    Nobody ever told me or anyone else that I know of that I was guaranteed a job, a minimum salary or even passage of the bar exam(s).

    Similarly there are no guarantees that going to Wharton or getting an MBA has any assurance of post graduate lifestyle; or that passing the series 7 has any bearing upon the multi-millions you will or will not make at lehman brothers.

    If you relied upon any the above school's marketing campaign about post-graduate success qualifies you for one thing: ITT tech. You took the LSAT and based upon those scores (as remedial as they may be), you should be able to understand that they may be skewed, overinflated or mere puffery.

    We all know or knew that going to law school was expensive. We all knew that there were no guarantees that you would graduate. And we all knew that passage of the bar was another separate hurdle. It is unreasonable and illogical to impart any promises express or implicit that graduating from any institution guarantees any success in a job market.

    If you claim that you were inadequately prepared for the BAR, or that NYLS misrepresented the BAR passage rate that is a different paradigm.

    However, the failure of your JD to live up to your expectations from watching LA Law are completely misplaced.

    While Dean Matasar's involvement with the Access Group is disappointing, it is not illegal, and not illogical from a business standpoint.

    The 'real' fight should be about the exemption carved out for Student Loans in the bankruptcy process.

    If you have been inadequately prepared in any higher learning system, you should be able to Chapter 7 or 11 out of it. The ability to avoid student loans via bankruptcy would revert the pressure of private institutions to actual education rather than recruitment.

    Student loan default is the next shoe to drop in this economy...and until if gets fixed it will continue to depress the housing market.

    My 2 cents.

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  33. A friend of mine mentioned that he once witnessed, Dean Matasar approached by Dean Perez about accepting a student who as Dean Perez put it, "has messed up his life, but because of who his grandfather was, had to be accepted!" Dean Matasar signed the acceptance letter after Dean Perez declared, "I ain't putting my name on that!"

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