Photo Essay of People's College of Law

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SplitterPride
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Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby SplitterPride » Sat Sep 19, 2009 4:07 pm

I think its important to contextualize the local atmosphere of these law schools before making any judgments. As a long time resident of the community, I can hopefully lend a balanced perspective on PCOL and SW.

Firstly, PCOL is surrounded by the Echo Park region, one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in all of Los Angeles. Large numbers of immigrant populations from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua occupy a tiny section west of Downtown. A 1/2 mile stretch of spanish businesses servicing the immigrant population, riddled with gang infestation and fake ID/SS vendors.

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Even though crime has clearly been a problem to the north of rampart down to the USC region south, the problems of immigrant communities are far more complex and demands a lot of attention that civil society in Los Angeles is not willing to offer. Therefore, there is a need for alternative institutions that can at least begin to bridge the gap of communication of the Echo Park community with the Greater L.A. region.

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This is what I believe PCOL's mission is to the community. It is mainly a legal workshop for willing folks who like to engage MacArthur Park in the civil society discourse. To classify them in the same breath as the business of law school diploma mills is dangerous and misleading. Misplaced elitism has driven most of the discussions here on TLS, and will continue to. But maybe we can open the forum to a more serious discussion....

In any case, here is the newly renovated lemon lime colored exterior of PCOL. You might notice they have taken down the "People's College of Law" title and instead just choose to stick with the logo...maybe to draw less attention to the "College of Law" part.

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I found out that the actual law school only occupies the up stairs room, visible in the white painted region. The down stairs area is actually a legal clinic for immigrant concerns, mostly dealing with housing, immigration, work, etc. The room that we see in the PCOL website's photos is the ONLY room of PCOL.

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Here is a shot from the side of the building. As you can see, there is a classroom and a restroom window. The place is really run down, but thats not the scary part....

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The bungalow next door is this creepy looking joint, who lives there, why is it still there...i dont know...but the barricaded fence and the broken glass panels tell another story....

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To get a sense of how small PCOl is in relation to the other broken buildings....

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Street view east of PCOL. just to prove my point, that Downtown LA offices of Latham Watkins/Jones Day/ White Case are only app. 1 mile away from PCOL....

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So what can you do with a degree from PCOL? Well if you are this guy, pretty much anything....[office building opposite PCOL]

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To give a sense of how polar L.A. can be...here is a picture of that same Wilshire boulevard 1/2 block south of PCOL....home of Southwestern law school....perfectly trimmed trees, squeaky clean office buildings and a landmark law building that puts UCLA/USC law buildings to shame.

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Southwestern's library...best place in L.A. to take LSAT...period.

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Anyways, so there it is. This is my community. SW and PCOL within 1/2 mile radius of LA proper.

In case you are wondering, UCLA, is 15 miles north of PCOL and SW in the vacuum of Beverly Hills and the Pacific Ocean. USC is east 5 miles of PCOL and SW...the Trojies are the lost cause in LA trying to maintain an elitist atmosphere in the working class Latino quarters.

Conclusion:

L.A. is truly a cosmopolitan city to go to Law School. The myriad of law schools--their prestige, their location, their buildings, their people--each have a story to tell. For this essay, I have focused on the two ignored law schools of LA. But the reasons they are there, the services they provide and what they stand for are important questions that are often sidelined in the blind fold walks along US News World Report. To engage in the politics, motivation and value of the students of these colleges have been the most educative time in my years around LA law schools. I hope this piece shed some light on PCOL along with the jokes and jeers.
Last edited by SplitterPride on Sat Sep 19, 2009 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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98234872348
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby 98234872348 » Sat Sep 19, 2009 4:18 pm

Hysterical and also (relatively) informative.

I can almost hear a collective 'touche' issuing from the PCOL nay sayers.

270910
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby 270910 » Sat Sep 19, 2009 4:28 pm

Image

FTFY

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SplitterPride
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby SplitterPride » Sat Sep 19, 2009 5:25 pm

Thank You for completing my essay disco Barred.

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Drummingreg
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby Drummingreg » Sat Sep 19, 2009 8:47 pm

Good post. Southwestern has a pretty nice looking building from the outside. What is the reason for PCOL though? Shitlaw for Latinos?

the lantern
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby the lantern » Sat Sep 19, 2009 8:59 pm

why do you rag on this school? it charges virtually no tuition and barely anyone goes to it. people can and do go there and pass the bar. it isn't the greatest school in the world, but it isn't ripping people off like the TTT's that charge $40k a year...

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chadwick218
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby chadwick218 » Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:09 pm

an enjoyable read ...

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Dialogue
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby Dialogue » Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:19 pm

Drummingreg wrote:Good post. Southwestern has a pretty nice looking building from the outside. What is the reason for PCOL though? Shitlaw for Latinos?


Agreed, a good post indeed. Frankly, I see plenty of reason for the People's College of Law. A law school's function need not be limited to the conferment of increased earning potential. It appears (though admittedly from a distance) that PCOL's purpose is to provide affordable education to a community largely lacking such opportunity. So what if no graduate will ever work at Skadden? If they truly are attempting to bridge an educational gap, I can look past that.

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Drummingreg
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby Drummingreg » Sun Sep 20, 2009 2:26 am

Dialogue wrote:
Drummingreg wrote:Good post. Southwestern has a pretty nice looking building from the outside. What is the reason for PCOL though? Shitlaw for Latinos?


Agreed, a good post indeed. Frankly, I see plenty of reason for the People's College of Law. A law school's function need not be limited to the conferment of increased earning potential. It appears (though admittedly from a distance) that PCOL's purpose is to provide affordable education to a community largely lacking such opportunity. So what if no graduate will ever work at Skadden? If they truly are attempting to bridge an educational gap, I can look past that.

A JD is a professional degree. It doesn't "bridge an educational gap." That's what community colleges are for. The real question is, what do you do with a JD from PCOL? So far, the answer seems to be fail the bar, open a shitlaw firm, or run for mayor.

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Drummingreg
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby Drummingreg » Sun Sep 20, 2009 2:32 am

the lantern wrote:why do you rag on this school? it charges virtually no tuition and barely anyone goes to it. people can and do go there and pass the bar. it isn't the greatest school in the world, but it isn't ripping people off like the TTT's that charge $40k a year...

Which is worse the guy who cuts off your finger or the guy who cuts off your arm? Just because they don't totally shaft you doesn't mean they are blameless. Sure there are worse schools who are more devious, but is it really worth $12,000 and sacrificed wages to have to have a slim chance at passing the bar? Mostly it's just a joke because the school is shady as fuck.

Lord Jim-ish
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby Lord Jim-ish » Sun Sep 20, 2009 3:06 am

.
Last edited by Lord Jim-ish on Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Drummingreg
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby Drummingreg » Sun Sep 20, 2009 3:29 am

Lord Jim-ish wrote:I'm not sure why this post warrants the annotation of "hysterical." After all, PCOL (ostensibly) serves a purpose.

What purpose? is the question.
Lord Jim-ish wrote:One doesn't necessarily need to pass the bar to inspire change (however small) in a community

:roll:

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OperaSoprano
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby OperaSoprano » Sun Sep 20, 2009 3:37 am

Drummingreg wrote:
Lord Jim-ish wrote:I'm not sure why this post warrants the annotation of "hysterical." After all, PCOL (ostensibly) serves a purpose.

What purpose? is the question.
Lord Jim-ish wrote:One doesn't necessarily need to pass the bar to inspire change (however small) in a community

:roll:


Just FYI:

Wikipedia wrote:The People's College of Law (PCL) is a private, non-profit law school located in Los Angeles, California. PCL offers a part-time, four-year evening law program centered around work in the public interest.

Aimed at addressing inequities in law and society, PCL was founded in 1974 for individuals historically denied access to legal training and representation. The school maintains a socio-political requirement that states: "An eligible candidate will be able to demonstrate a commitment to progressive social change." PCL uses an alternative method of law school admission which rejects the LSAT due to what the school views as its cultural and sociological limitations. Tuition is kept low through the use of unpaid volunteer faculty and the work of students and members of the PCL community to maintain the facilities. Student involvement is coordinated through an accountability system, in which each student works at least 40 hours per year to help maintain PCL.

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Drummingreg
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby Drummingreg » Sun Sep 20, 2009 3:47 am

OperaSoprano wrote:
Drummingreg wrote:
Lord Jim-ish wrote:I'm not sure why this post warrants the annotation of "hysterical." After all, PCOL (ostensibly) serves a purpose.

What purpose? is the question.
Lord Jim-ish wrote:One doesn't necessarily need to pass the bar to inspire change (however small) in a community

:roll:


Just FYI:

Wikipedia wrote:The People's College of Law (PCL) is a private, non-profit law school located in Los Angeles, California. PCL offers a part-time, four-year evening law program centered around work in the public interest.

Aimed at addressing inequities in law and society, PCL was founded in 1974 for individuals historically denied access to legal training and representation. The school maintains a socio-political requirement that states: "An eligible candidate will be able to demonstrate a commitment to progressive social change." PCL uses an alternative method of law school admission which rejects the LSAT due to what the school views as its cultural and sociological limitations. Tuition is kept low through the use of unpaid volunteer faculty and the work of students and members of the PCL community to maintain the facilities. Student involvement is coordinated through an accountability system, in which each student works at least 40 hours per year to help maintain PCL.

Thank you OS. In all sincerity, you are one of the most helpful posters on tls. But I guess I stated the question wrong. Is there anything tangible that this school actually does? Does a JD from PCOL help you get a community organizer job that you couldn't have gotten otherwise? I'm legitimately curious as to what advantage it gives you besides a chance to apply to pass the bar.

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danquayle
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby danquayle » Sun Sep 20, 2009 4:20 am

Drummingreg wrote:
OperaSoprano wrote:
Drummingreg wrote:
Lord Jim-ish wrote:I'm not sure why this post warrants the annotation of "hysterical." After all, PCOL (ostensibly) serves a purpose.

What purpose? is the question.
Lord Jim-ish wrote:One doesn't necessarily need to pass the bar to inspire change (however small) in a community

:roll:


Just FYI:

Wikipedia wrote:The People's College of Law (PCL) is a private, non-profit law school located in Los Angeles, California. PCL offers a part-time, four-year evening law program centered around work in the public interest.

Aimed at addressing inequities in law and society, PCL was founded in 1974 for individuals historically denied access to legal training and representation. The school maintains a socio-political requirement that states: "An eligible candidate will be able to demonstrate a commitment to progressive social change." PCL uses an alternative method of law school admission which rejects the LSAT due to what the school views as its cultural and sociological limitations. Tuition is kept low through the use of unpaid volunteer faculty and the work of students and members of the PCL community to maintain the facilities. Student involvement is coordinated through an accountability system, in which each student works at least 40 hours per year to help maintain PCL.

Thank you OS. In all sincerity, you are one of the most helpful posters on tls. But I guess I stated the question wrong. Is there anything tangible that this school actually does? Does a JD from PCOL help you get a community organizer job that you couldn't have gotten otherwise? I'm legitimately curious as to what advantage it gives you besides a chance to apply to pass the bar.


As you yourself noted (with stunning condescension), the Mayor of Los Angeles is an alum. I certa A legal education is an excellent preparation for public service - and that just happens to be the school's stated focus. Many, many people go to law school with their eyes set on political office or other public interest work. I have a serious problem with law schools designed to be money makers. This clearly isn't one of them.

And for this goal, the bar exam passage rate is far less pressing. Villaraigosa has failed the test 4 times, and it evidently hasn't hurt his political career.

So their purpose? To educate people wishing to effect change and to do so with a discount. They seem to be succeeding. Besides, if you never intend to practice, is paying for a school like USC really worth it? I've long argued that the only logical use for a lot of these poorer schools is for enrichment purposes of people who never intend to practice. So long as the school's are upfront about that, there's nothing wrong with it.

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Matthies
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby Matthies » Sun Sep 20, 2009 10:28 am

I think there is definitely a need for school like PCOL. The cost of a traditional legal education is such that the vast majority of lawyers can’t afford to offer low cost or no cost services to the community. You take an oath when you are sworn in that you won’t ever turn away a client for an inability to pay, but the reality is most lawyers can’t live up to the ideal because they have bills to pay as well.

I know in my own city the need is so great that the bar association sends our e-mails almost daily practically begging lawyers to do some pro bono work. The last one was from an 85 year old lady on a fixed income who paid a roofer to replace her roof, he came and took all the tiles off then never returned. Now she has no roof, no money to get it fixed, no money for a lawyer to force the guy to finish the job and its going to start snowing within a month here. There are tons more examples where people need legal help but can’t afford it, or get it, because lawyers have so much debt/work so many hours they can’t do the pro bono work even if they wanted to.

A law school that trains lawyers to help these folks and keeps debt down is a needed avenue. Even if these lawyers work another job during the day and do pro bono on the weekends its something. Something more than we have in my city. We have far more need than lawyers who can possibly answer the call.

As to passing the bar, I think this has less to do with the school than with the students. I just took the bar and there is no way in hell I could have passed it just based on what I learned in LS. They simply don’t teach you what you need to pass. You pretty much have to take bar bri or another prep course. And that costs money, all told with Bar Bri, PMBR, books software, time ect. I spent about 8k on bar prep. I’m willing to bet most people who go to PCOL could not afford that. They don’t have the luxury of taking a bar prep class and its very hard to pass the bar if you don’t have those resources. Bar passages rates would be very low at every school if not for bar prep classes.

I think there is a need for schools like this to train lawyers that are willing to commit to community service with their law degrees. I wish there were more options for students who would be willing to forgo using their law degree only for clients that could pay.

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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby Dialogue » Sun Sep 20, 2009 11:16 am

Drummingreg wrote:A JD is a professional degree. It doesn't "bridge an educational gap." That's what community colleges are for. The real question is, what do you do with a JD from PCOL? So far, the answer seems to be fail the bar, open a shitlaw firm, or run for mayor.


I understand your opinion, though I tend to look at education differently. A J.D. is undoubtedly a professional degree, given its capacity as a prerequisite for legal employment (save the occasional loophole). However, I see the function as two-fold:

1. Any education is of value. Continued learning yields numerous beneficial effects, among them an improved assessment of self-worth. Obviously one need not enroll at a "college" in order to learn, but that route should not be criticized due to the mere existence of alternatives. In many circles, the simple possession of a JD is viewed as an accomplish in which one can and should take pride (though TLS is certainly eccentric in comparison).

2. It provides increased legal understanding to a segment of the population that is far too often involved in our legal system. Even if they don't practice, I believe such empowerment is estimable.

Just my opinion, most likely because of past work in the Appalachian region. The People's College of Law seems to be playing the role that I wish the Appalachian School of Law would assume.

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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby protokurios » Wed Sep 30, 2009 3:25 am

The area in which PCOL is located is definitely not Echo Park. Echo Park is part of the Eastside of LA (not to be confused with East LA, an incorporated community), which includes Silverlake and Los Feliz. I think most would consider Echo Park north of the 101 freeway. But it isn't in Koreatown, either. I didn't know the name off the top of my head, but looks like the LA Times calls the region Westlake.

SplitterPride wrote:In case you are wondering, UCLA, is 15 miles north of PCOL and SW in the vacuum of Beverly Hills and the Pacific Ocean. USC is east 5 miles of PCOL and SW...the Trojies are the lost cause in LA trying to maintain an elitist atmosphere in the working class Latino quarters.


Having attended four years at USC as an undergrad and having lived in the North University Park area for all four years, which is in South Los Angeles (previously and notoriously known as South Central), I can tell you that USC does not try to maintain an "elitist atmosphere" or some kind of rich bubble within the community. USC is the largest private employer in LA, and there many, many Latino staff employed by the university. There's a reason the rioters in 1992 left the campus largely untouched while businesses just across the street on Vermont Ave were burned to the ground. USC has done a lot of good in the community. Even gangs in the surrounding area respect USC. One of my friends who was on the football team the last three years told me that Pete Carroll (the head football coach at USC) has done a lot of work with gangs to form truces against one another. Sure, there are times when some of USC's initiatives don't go over well with the local community, but USC is far from a "lost cause in LA."

That being said, I do appreciate your post, and the photos and explanations are very helpful.

Edit: Also, USC is 5 miles south of PCOL and SW, not east. And UCLA is 15 miles west, not north.
Last edited by protokurios on Wed Sep 30, 2009 1:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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prezidentv8
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby prezidentv8 » Wed Sep 30, 2009 3:53 am

This has been the most fascinating discussion I've seen on here in a long time. Awesome.

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SplitterPride
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby SplitterPride » Wed Sep 30, 2009 3:08 pm

protokurios wrote:The area in which PCOL is located is definitely not Echo Park. Echo Park is part of the Eastside of LA (not to be confused with East LA, an incorporated community), which includes Silverlake and Los Feliz. I think most would consider Echo Park north of the 101 freeway


Yes I would like to address the correction. The area I was referring to is called Macarthur Park, not Echo Park. And yes, it is part of the Westlake region. Thanks protokurios.

Also, the jab at USC was meant to be harmless. LA residents know very well the service of the USC community. I should have noted, this was coming from a Bruin, so forgive me if my blue and gold prevents me from accepting a Trojie.

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john titor
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby john titor » Wed Sep 30, 2009 3:19 pm

the lantern wrote:why do you rag on this school? it charges virtually no tuition and barely anyone goes to it. people can and do go there and pass the bar. it isn't the greatest school in the world, but it isn't ripping people off like the TTT's that charge $40k a year...



+1

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Panther7
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby Panther7 » Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:16 pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Lawyer_Walks_into_a_Bar

I randomly watched this movie the other day, and it follows a woman who graduated from PCL and a few other california schools.

Was interesting, and completely relevant to the conversation.

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john titor
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby john titor » Thu Oct 01, 2009 1:50 pm

Panther7 wrote:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Lawyer_Walks_into_a_Bar

I randomly watched this movie the other day, and it follows a woman who graduated from PCL and a few other california schools.

Was interesting, and completely relevant to the conversation.


i saw that the other week - I loved it! i cant believe that guy took the bar 42 times. i mean, he's got to have some kind of reading problem or something. im pretty sure a parakeet could pass the bar if it had 42 cracks at it.

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nealric
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby nealric » Mon Oct 19, 2009 3:42 pm

i saw that the other week - I loved it! i cant believe that guy took the bar 42 times. i mean, he's got to have some kind of reading problem or something. im pretty sure a parakeet could pass the bar if it had 42 cracks at it.



I saw the movie too after reading this thread (thank you neflix streaming). From what they showed, it sounds like the guy was defeated by his incoherent written product. There was a scene where the consultant asked him to write a sample answer. What he produced was completely illegible and lacking in any organization. I can see how that product would produce serious doubt an a bar examiner's mind of the guy's ability to ever write a brief.

One thing I disliked about the move is it seemed to perpetuate the popular myth that all lawyers are litigators. Its random discussions on the role of lawyers in America seemed to focus almost exclusively on personal injury.

RE: the PCL. I have some amount of skepticism that the school is really doing much good (especially after seeing the movie). It's great to see a low cost school for people looking to do street-level public interest work.

The problem I see is that the more or less open admissions requirements set certain students up to fail. There are essentially no academic requirements other than two years of passing college grades (or two years worth of CLEP credits). It appears a huge percentage of matriculants never end up practicing.

The movie showed a woman who ended up repeatedly failing the bar teaching legal writing- which causes me to seriously question the quality of the education the students are receiving. Also, the dean they interviewed for the movie seemed well-intentioned (and quite passionate) but completely divorced from reality. The school also seems to lack courses in any of the subjects where the graduates are supposedly supposed to practice. They don't offer courses in fair housing, civil rights litigation, etc. Instead, the school only teaches bar courses (which I suspect to be necessary in light of the academic qualifications).

What I would really like to see is a law school organized around a similar model (volunteer instructors, very low tuition) without such a strong political agenda- but with admissions requirements that would allow for a reasonably high bar passage rate- and with higher quality instruction. As it is, adjuncts teach here at GULC for a whopping 1.5k a semester. Some of these adjuncts make in excess of $1M a year in their full time careers (in which they are often quite distinguished). If these same adjuncts donated their time to a school devoted to public interest, they could do a lot of good.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Photo Essay of People's College of Law

Postby reasonable_man » Mon Oct 19, 2009 3:55 pm

Super busy.. But marking this to follow the discussion.




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