Letter to the ABA

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Letter to the ABA

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 18, 2011 1:49 pm

So the NY Sup. Ct. judge that I work for this summer has been following the stories in the NYTimes about the whole law school-tuition-fiasco. Every week or so he goes on a good diatribe about the ABA, the absurd cost of law school, etc. So I suggested to him that one of my projects this summer should be to draft a letter to the ABA, which he can sign and pass around to the other NY Sup. Ct. judges ("the supremes"), and maybe get some of them to sign on. My judge also used to be a politician, so he has some political clout and might be able to get some other politicos to join as well.

My questions for the TLS community: (1) to what extent would this be worthwhile? and (2) what should I say in the letter?

The first thing that he usually rambles about is how law school in general used to be a sure bet for upwardly-mobile Americans: it was a path for lower and lower-middle class students, children of immigrants, and children of people who didn't go to college to carve out an upper/upper-middle class life style, and to pass that gift of education and financial security on to their kids as well. Of course, given the huge cost of law school and the crushing debt, it's much the opposite of that now: law school is now an engine that takes a fair number of middle-class people and pushes them into the lower class with bleak job prospects, non-dischargable debt, and destroyed credit.

Second, he wants to talk about how law schools offer too many courses, and law schools hire too many faculty principally because ABA guidelines mandate such professor:student ratios and courses. Of course the argument that law school should be two years instead of three probably goes with this, too.

Third, he is concerned that law schools don't teach much practical stuff. Instead of birdlaw seminars, he thinks students should be required to complete a 6 month apprenticeship after graduating and before taking the bar.

Obviously, several of these points, while valid, are pretty far fetched. It would be much more realistic to attack the ABA about the absurd increases in tuition, rather than to try to confront the entire basic 3 year system of law schools.

any advice?

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thesealocust
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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby thesealocust » Mon Jul 18, 2011 7:19 pm

Fucking do it. Bad ass.

wdk3618
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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby wdk3618 » Mon Jul 18, 2011 8:22 pm

thesealocust wrote:Fucking do it. Bad ass.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby vanwinkle » Mon Jul 18, 2011 8:27 pm

Lol at "the supremes". This is NY we're talking about, the Supreme Court judges are at the bottom of the food chain.

I wish you good luck, sincerely, though.

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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby ShiftyPig » Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:52 pm

vanwinkle wrote:Lol at "the supremes". This is NY we're talking about, the Supreme Court judges are at the bottom of the food chain.

I wish you good luck, sincerely, though.


That's exactly what I thought halfway through the first sentence. I mean, if it impresses your "boss," by all means go for it. I wouldn't expect anyone outside of him to care.

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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby robotclubmember » Tue Jul 19, 2011 2:22 am

i think it would be of value to discuss the quality of information that law school report re: job prospects, and the extent to which the ABA allows for misrepresentative and essentially fraudulent advertising of employment prospects. the siren song of 98% employed with a median salary of $160K, a la NYLS, is tantamount to luring students to take on six digits of debt on the basis of fundamentally flawed information. the ABA allows this, and relaxed accreditation standards have resulted in a total oversupply of lawyers.

here are some comments i made re: the quality of info which, if brushed up and formalized, i think are strong points:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=160820&p=4614413#p4614413

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=160820&p=4614546#p4614546

i'm offering the perspective of an auditor who marvels at a field in which people make six-digit financial decisions without the benefit of audited data. it would be like investing in stocks without any SEC or any attestation that the company didn't just make up it's financials. we assume the economy has rational actors and it does. any rational actor would want to attend NYLS on the basis of the information they self-report. but the information is deceptive and fundamentally flawed. as soon as the ABA requeries fair and accurate reporting of employment data that isn't subject to obfuscation, investors in a legal education will see the true picture of what ROI to expect and the over-supply issue will begin to resolve itself. it's that simple. if you'd like any help drafting any parts of your letter please pm me.

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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:38 pm

vanwinkle wrote:Lol at "the supremes". This is NY we're talking about, the Supreme Court judges are at the bottom of the food chain.
I wish you good luck, sincerely, though.

Yes, that's correct, in New York state, the trial court is called the Supreme Court. Did you learn that at Harvard?
While they are the lowest court, that means there's also a large number of them. Also, "the supremes" is a pejorative in light of the fact that they are the least supreme.

robotclubmember wrote:i think it would be of value to discuss the quality of information that law school report re: job prospects, and the extent to which the ABA allows for misrepresentative and essentially fraudulent advertising of employment prospects. the siren song of 98% employed with a median salary of $160K, a la NYLS, is tantamount to luring students to take on six digits of debt on the basis of fundamentally flawed information. the ABA allows this, and relaxed accreditation standards have resulted in a total oversupply of lawyers.

here are some comments i made re: the quality of info which, if brushed up and formalized, i think are strong points:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=160820&p=4614413#p4614413

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=160820&p=4614546#p4614546

i'm offering the perspective of an auditor who marvels at a field in which people make six-digit financial decisions without the benefit of audited data. it would be like investing in stocks without any SEC or any attestation that the company didn't just make up it's financials. we assume the economy has rational actors and it does. any rational actor would want to attend NYLS on the basis of the information they self-report. but the information is deceptive and fundamentally flawed. as soon as the ABA requeries fair and accurate reporting of employment data that isn't subject to obfuscation, investors in a legal education will see the true picture of what ROI to expect and the over-supply issue will begin to resolve itself. it's that simple. if you'd like any help drafting any parts of your letter please pm me.

Thank you so much for this!

I completely recognize that this letter, at best, is just another log in the fire. But i thought it would be a fun and relevant project to work on. The more exposure and dialogue there is about this ABA problem, the better.

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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby bjsesq » Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Yes, that's correct, in New York state, the trial court is called the Supreme Court. Did you learn that at Harvard?


Sick, sick burn. Also, I hope this works out. It would be nice if the pressure continued to build.

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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Jul 19, 2011 2:27 pm

To make the letter effective, send a copy to the New York Times Op-Ed page. The ABA is well aware of current concerns, but much of the public is not. If you prefer, a letter to the WSJ should also garner national publicity.

Another angle is to portray taxpayer dollars wasted on subsidized loans for an overpopulated profession. Those dollars should be focused, in my opinion, on math & science students.
Law school should be reduced to two years plus an apprenticeship. The apprenticeship should not require any tuition payments. This may drive many law schools out of the market due to decreased profits.

Student loans need to be dischargeable in bankruptcy once again to reverse tuition increases & reduce the number of law schools. Lenders will be skeptical of lending to those seeking to join an overpopulated profession. Although there will likely be an uncomfortable period of adjustment, the net result should be fewer law schools, fewer law students & lower tuition.

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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby robotclubmember » Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:20 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:To make the letter effective, send a copy to the New York Times Op-Ed page. The ABA is well aware of current concerns, but much of the public is not. If you prefer, a letter to the WSJ should also garner national publicity.

Another angle is to portray taxpayer dollars wasted on subsidized loans for an overpopulated profession. Those dollars should be focused, in my opinion, on math & science students.
Law school should be reduced to two years plus an apprenticeship. The apprenticeship should not require any tuition payments. This may drive many law schools out of the market due to decreased profits.

Student loans need to be dischargeable in bankruptcy once again to reverse tuition increases & reduce the number of law schools. Lenders will be skeptical of lending to those seeking to join an overpopulated profession. Although there will likely be an uncomfortable period of adjustment, the net result should be fewer law schools, fewer law students & lower tuition.


true. law school loans need to be dischargeable. by offering federally backed loans, the law schools have no "skin in the game" over the success of their students. a good system would be one in which the law schools themselves are required to finance the education. few 22-year olds would be offered $175K for a home loan so why is this different? the debt isn't even collateralized. increasing the supply of easy money for a legal education has allowed for 317% inflation of law school tuition from 1989 to 2009 as well. throwing taxpayer money down on this allows for the federally backed loan to serve as a wealth transfer vehicle from students who have no wealth to schools that lie about their prospects to entice students to consume their product.

but that's not an issue for the ABA. honestly i don't know why state attorney generals aren't involved in the deceptive advertising of law schools.

after "the supremes" sign that shit, they should send it as an op-ed somewhere. that would be awesome.

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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby gwuorbust » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:19 pm

I 100% support this. I fully agree that forwarding the letter to the NYT and WSG would also be beneficial.

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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:21 pm

Go for it. Possibly your letter will make it into the NYT....

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aaaaaah
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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby aaaaaah » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:41 pm

This sounds like something the Public Advocate's office would be interested in, too.

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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby prezidentv8 » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:42 pm

I have to chime in and say, yes, this is an awesome idea.

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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:55 pm

(1) I agree that a degree from NYLS at full tuition is a bad investment for most, but if someone has no other options, I think an NYLS degree isn't the worst deal out there. If someone graduated median from CUNY with a degree in Classics or Chinese literature, what else are they supposed to do? The chance at a doc review job is probably the best opportunity out there. I think the unreliable salary information is the problem with law schools, but the same problem exists at all schools. I distinctly recall an ex-girlfriend of mine telling me about how great her career opportunities would be with her degree in communications from BYU-Idaho, based on information she received from her school (she is now unemployed and has never had a job she couldn’t get without a degree). I think a kid and their parents should receive a full distribution (i.e. every single student from a graduating class) of starting salaries, and salaries 10 years out of school for the major they apply for, and they should have to sign the distribution to show they understand what they're getting into. If they still want to become an attorney bad enough to pay stick at NYLS, at least they were informed.

(2) I think University of Phoenix/ITT Tech are the real bad guys in the education arena. They're almost as expensive as law schools, and the opportunities are even worse.

(3) My (terrible second tier) law school requires every graduate post their employment status before they can graduate. I figured this was a ABA crackdown to fix inflated employment figures. Does this happen at any other school? If not, I think this should be a graduation requirement set by the ABA. The ABA could also require a $1000 deposit taken out of tuition money that isn’t paid back until the school receives certified employment information with salary information. Then failure to reply doesn’t factor into skewed employment information. A few years back, my school reported unreturned employment information forms as unemployed. The next year, the school dropped into the Third Tier. Until this year (we'll see what they do with the information they collected) they went back to playing the "if we don't receive the information, it doesn't exist" game and they're back in the second tier.

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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:08 pm

Since you are posting anonymously, can you tell us to which law school you are referring ?

I like your idea regarding the employment deposit.

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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby firemed » Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:22 pm

wdk3618 wrote:
thesealocust wrote:Fucking do it. Bad ass.

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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:56 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Since you are posting anonymously, can you tell us to which law school you are referring ?

I like your idea regarding the employment deposit.

Above Anon is not OP

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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:07 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Since you are posting anonymously, can you tell us to which law school you are referring ?

I like your idea regarding the employment deposit.


I would, but I discussed an ex, and I feel like I'd get too close to outing myself. Also, in full disclosure, the reporting thing is all a rumor (although a very prevalent one). I have no hard evidence about how they changed their reporting. I do know that in the local newspaper they blamed the drop in the rankings on "problems" in OCS related to the low reported employment rate, but they did not come out and say they were going to stop reporting on those that did not reply to queries. That is all second hand information that I admittedly cannot back up with personal knowledge.

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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:57 am

on the right track? questions, comments, or suggestions?
also.... very rough draft that has not been proof read.

Dear President Zach:

I am writing to express my concern about the ever-increasing cost of a legal education, and to join the dialogue about the American Bar Association’s lack of oversight with regard to this problem. Recently, articles in the New York Times by David Segal and Senator Grassley’s letter to the ABA have drawn attention to this troubling matter.

The cost of a legal education has now risen to such an absurd height that it is no longer practical, economical, or wise for many young Americans to attend law school today. The legal profession used to be a proud vehicle for upwardly mobile, dedicated, and intelligent students to carve out a seat in the American middle class. Children of immigrants, children of parents with little education, and other children of the lower and lower-middle class were able to join the noble legal profession, and thereby provide for their families.

Today, sadly, and in part because of the ABA’s failures, the legal education system of non-dischargeable, federally-backed loans works in the opposite manner. Law schools now equip college graduates with over $100,000 in debt, thereby transferring a substantial amount of wealth from our most promising young people to fill the coffers of greedy academicians. Rather than providing a comfortable, middle-class lifestyle to hard working law students, law schools now drive a substantial number of middle-class students into the lower class with debt that is non-dischargeable but will nonetheless ruin an individuals credit.

The ABA is in no small part responsible for the sad state of the legal education system today. By requiring an absurd faculty-to-student ratio, and by doing little to oversee the near-fraudulent representations of many law schools advertising 98% employment and median salaries of $160,000, the ABA does more than simply stand by as this system spirals out of control. The ABA allows this quasi-pyramid scheme to function by accrediting too many law schools. Rather than strengthening the legal profession, the ABA now contributes to the incredible over-supply of lawyers, and stands by as law schools raise tuition to absurd levels.

To rectify this problem, as Senator Grassley points out, the ABA should mandate that law schools provide transparent data about employment and debt levels of their graduates, and the ABA should not stand by as law schools manipulate this data to deceive potential students. Next, the ABA should consider a fundamental over-haul of the legal education system. The goal of law school should be to train lawyers, not to enrich professors and deans by deluding students and offering courses with little relevance in the real world.

The ABA should consider decreasing the length of law school to two years, and to strive to teach practical, doctrinal courses rather than esoteric seminars on irrelevant matters. Second, the ABA should consider instituting an apprentice-system by which law school graduates work with practicing attorneys for six months before being allow to sit for the bar. Such changes will insure that law school graduates are prepared, informed, and not over-burdened with non-dischargeable debt and unable to find a job because the ABA did not do its job.

If the ABA does not fulfill its goal of strengthening the legal profession, what purpose does it serve?

firemed
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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby firemed » Thu Jul 21, 2011 12:09 pm

my advice after quick read through:

1) replace "greedy academicians" with something less inflammitory

2) Include that senator Boxer also has written letters to the ABA on this topic

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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby Master Tofu » Thu Jul 21, 2011 12:53 pm

Thanks for doing this; I think this is great. A couple of comments.

I think the tone of the letter might be a little too inflammatory. Argue with facts, don't argue by characterization("greedy", "absurd", "quasi-pyramid scheme", etc.). I think you would be more persuasive that way.

I am not a fan of ending with a question.

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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby theturkeyisfat » Thu Jul 21, 2011 12:55 pm

thesealocust wrote:Fucking do it. Bad ass.

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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:04 pm

This letter needs to be rewritten, in my opinion. It is a touch abrasive & fails to support claims made.

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Re: Letter to the ABA

Postby robotclubmember » Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:22 pm

i would say just state facts. the cost of a legal education is not in the control of the ABA. the federally backed loans are not in the control of the ABA. the area that is under their control is oversight of employment reporting and accreditation standards. stick to that and be armed with facts.

don't do the job of reading between the lines for them. the real issue is failure to provide adequate oversight, which leads to investors in a legal education not being equipped to make informed decisions. think of how you would make an argument for the Securities Act of 1933 before it existed. the 33 Act embraces a disclosure philosophy, meaning that in theory, it is not illegal to sell a bad investment, as long as all the facts are accurately disclosed. the issue with the ABA is that it fails to ensure that law schools "accurately disclose" their employment statistics, which is akin to the audited financial statements that investors use to make informed decisions about law school.

the ABA isn't responsible for controlling tuition hikes or making sure people make good or bad decisions, but i think it does bear an ethical responsibility to see to it that as a part of maintaining accreditation, schools ensure students are making INFORMED decisions by offering legitimate -- if not independently audited -- statistics. to support your case note that aver 66K students enrolled in law school in 2011, while the BLS projects 30K jobs. this indicates that students simply are not being provided reasonable data from the schools. this is further evidenced by a decline of 20% in median salaries in just one year. the market cannot handle the oversupply of lawyers but students are not being given enough information by the schools to know that. they are being willfully misinformed even, and it's the ABA's standards that allow this. do lots of googling to get numbers and cite them where appropriate.

do some research on the 33 act and frame your argument from the perspective of the reasonable expectations and rights of a consumer of a legal education. consumers have a right to accurate information. perhaps the ABA should require a more thorough and comprehensive form of collecting employment data or should require better disclosure. also the surveys shouldn't be reported directly to the school unless their is an audit procedure to ensure that the surveys are being handled properly. there is anecdotal evidence to suggest schools outright cook the books and pitch unfavorable responses in the trash, though without any oversight you could never prove it (just as before the 33 act it was hard to prove a company was cooking its books). perhaps as a stipulation of sitting for the bar, candidates should be required to complete a survey which discloses the nature of their employment, their earnings and what school they graduated from. if they don't have a job offer secured at the time of sitting for the bar, they should disclose that. and be required to submit employment data after passing the bar before they are admitted. if they wish not to disclose any information, that should be explicitly disclosed in the law schools employment reporting. if students from a law school choose to not sit for the bar at all, this should also be disclosed. when in doubt, schools should always err on the side of full and absolute disclosure that is featured as prominently as the favorable stats, and if the stats would be unfavorable the schools should be held to account to seek the employment data more aggressively instead of turning a blind eye.

i would in general avoid ad homs and opinions, they're appropriate on an internet forum but not something a judge should sign his name to. this letter could be srs bzns.
Last edited by robotclubmember on Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.




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