Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: Correlation Between High Tuition Costs & Affordable Legal Assistance??  (Read 4753 times)

FalconJimmy

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 684
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Correlation Between High Tuition Costs & Affordable Legal Assistance??
« Reply #60 on: January 05, 2012, 07:29:08 AM »
As I read more of these “interesting” forums, I saw references about 1T, 2T, 3T, & 4T schools.  Not knowing what that was all about, I researched it and find it interesting how not only is there a line of thought about how one learns the law and if they should be allowed the opportunity to sit for a bar exam, but there is even a debate amongst ABA school students/grads as to how one’s school is better than another’s, which raises the question – if a school is in a lower tier than another implying it must be substandard in it’s curriculum or teaching methodology, should it’s grads be disallowed to sit for a bar exam since the school will probably have a lower passage rate?  A bunch of subjective BS to keep that competitive edge going, as I see it. 

Gonna pick a nit, here.  I go to a 4T school.  It's just a fact.  I probably could have gotten into a 3T somewhere and who knows, with a little luck, maybe even one of the lower ranked 2Ts.  Do I resent that my school is considered a 4T and that people from 1Ts and 2Ts have better job opportunities?  No.  Why would I?  Those people didn't get into those schools by blind luck.  They got better grades than I did.  They got higher LSAT scores.  Frankly, I think it's a truly pathetic loser who comes up short, but then says the game is rigged.  If you want what the 1T law students have, you needed to do what they did.  If you didn't, too bad, so sad, life sucks sometimes, especially when it's your own doggone fault for the predicament you're in.

Generally speaking most employers know that a top graduate of a 4T is not totally out of the ballpark of a top graduate from, say a 2T.  Top 10% is a hell of a thing, even in a 4T school.  (And based on the grades I have, so far, I'm nowhere near the top 10%.)  You can compete for the very best law jobs in most cities, if you're a graduate of a 4T, but only if you're at the very top of your class.

Where the comparison becomes important is that the average student at a 1T is considerably higher caliber than the average student at a 4T.  The worst student at a 1T might still have the potential to be a good attorney.  The worst student at a 4T?  That's a frightening thing.

You can argue that it's a bunch of BS, but I honestly have to wonder, what universe do you live in?  Are you basically trying to assert that no school is better than any other?  I've attended quite a few schools in my day (let's just say I give Sarah Palin a run for the money in terms of the number of transfers it took for me to get a Bachelor's degree).  You can see radical differences in the quality of the student body.  Generally speaking, the profs can only go as fast as the typical student can follow.  The tougher the school, the faster they're moving, the more material they cover, the more stuff you have to know and do to get a good grade.

Honestly, most jobs just aren't that analytical.  You just don't have to be that bright to, say, sell cars, or whatever.  Not trying to bag on car salesmen, here, but high academic achievement probably isn't in the top 5 most necessary traits for success in that field.  Stock brokers, too.  The success traits in those fields have more to do with a competitive, goal-focused personality and a desire for wealth.  However, if you want to put a satellite into orbit, you don't hire a bunch of communications majors from a barely accredited regional liberal arts college.  You hire Ph.D.s from MIT.

There are parts of the law that, frankly, aren't that analytical.  Really, probably any person of average intelligence could do them if they tried hard enough.  However, the more complex the issue, the harder it gets.  The more that's at stake, the more important it is to have a serious detail-orientation. 

Legal employers want to know who they're hiring and they use academic credentials to weed people out... pretty much like... oh... pretty much everyone who hires a recent graduate of an academic program.  If you're recruiting people out of school, any school, it would be unusual, indeed, to see a hiring manager saying, "Hey, you know who I want to hire?  Give me the guys who barely graduated.  I want to talk to the ones who really didn't do what the successful ones did.  My ideal candidate is one who cut every corner, couldn't be bothered to do what the top graduates did, and who tried to find a shortcut."

There are rewards for being a top graduate of a top school.  You can argue that we should live in a kumbaya universe where it shouldn't matter what school you go to, what grades you get, etc.  That's just not reality. 

jonlevy

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 550
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Correlation Between High Tuition Costs & Affordable Legal Assistance??
« Reply #61 on: January 05, 2012, 07:42:10 AM »
This is really a foolish line of discussion in a DL forum, if you have a DL degree you are not going to work for anyone unless it's your father in law. It's a given you are going to go solo like 47% of attorneys in California.

http://www.calbarjournal.com/January2012/TopHeadlines.aspx

FalconJimmy

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 684
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Correlation Between High Tuition Costs & Affordable Legal Assistance??
« Reply #62 on: January 05, 2012, 07:44:35 AM »
This is really a foolish line of discussion in a DL forum, if you have a DL degree you are not going to work for anyone unless it's your father in law. It's a given you are going to go solo like 47% of attorneys in California.

http://www.calbarjournal.com/January2012/TopHeadlines.aspx

Jon, is that what most of the incoming students think?  (Not trying to be smarmy, here.  Sincerely curious.)

I doubt very many of the people in my 1L class think they're going to work solo.  Most of them want jobs.  Personally, it was my goal to hang out a shingle at graduation, but at this point in time, I'm wondering how feasible that is.  Not from a financial standpoint.  I'm fine, there.  More from a standpoint of knowing what the heck I'm doing. 

jonlevy

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 550
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Correlation Between High Tuition Costs & Affordable Legal Assistance??
« Reply #63 on: January 05, 2012, 09:30:32 AM »
Look at the stats 47% of lawyers in private practice in California are solo, down from 54% a few  years back. I suspect another 25% in private practice are small firms, 2-5 lawyers. So unless you are going to work for the government, chances are you will be in the above categories.  Why not hang out a shingle?  You will be no less incompetent than most attorneys. As for your cohort in law school, they are typical scared of their own shadow type, don't want to mingle with indigents, would be lawyers who would faint dead away if they had to come face to face with a real client like a crank head, child molestor, SSI applicant, or angry divorced parent.

But you can be proactive:

All law schools offer some sort of practical experience - better sign up for it and attend courts in your spare time. You'll learn more about law hanging around the court house than from some pendantic so called law professor, who has the same JD you will you have. Also memorize Black's Law Dictionary, especially archaic Latin phrases and read everything by or about Gerry Spence, Louis Nizer, F. Lee Bailey and Melvin Belli. Also when you start practicing buy a largest ostentious fake gold plated Rolex, it instills confidence in clients no matter how inexperienced and pathetic you may look.

Opie58

  • Guest
Re: Correlation Between High Tuition Costs & Affordable Legal Assistance??
« Reply #64 on: January 05, 2012, 11:25:28 AM »
I concede that schools are different, some better than others with students who have higher GPAs – I’m not disgruntled.  In my case, I have financial commitments I need to maintain and would love to take my experiences (30+ year cop/firefighter) to the next level, but giving up my job for $100,000+ debt (after getting out from under overwhelming debt) is NOT something I wish to do.

As you mentioned earlier, the top 10% from a 4T school can be competitive with grads from higher tiered schools, so in other words they are just as good or capable, right?  Which supports my main principle – it’s NOT the school that makes the attorney, it’s the students in how s/he applies themselves – the school provides the direction.  A crappy 1T/2T student will be just as “uncompetitive” as someone in the lower 90% of a 4T school, I suspect.  I have said the school attended will have an effect on job competition – that’s reality – I understand even though I don’t agree, but to say just because someone opts for an alternative approach (online, law clerk program, apprentice with a judge/lawyer) to studying the law makes them less capable and should be disqualified from taking a bar exam – even when heir are those who have do so and practice successfully – is shortsighted in their view and elitist in their thinking.  There may be only one or two at a time who succeed through those programs, but to deny those ones or twos the opportunity spits in the face of our whole national concept of anyone can do anything if they set their minds to it.  Historically, most great achievements in this country have been from those ones or twos who refused to accept the norm, thought outside the box, & did things through alternative methods.  Standards of conduct and topics of study, I agree, but to say a school who disagrees with a “standard methodology” imposed by some self-appointed body (ABA) and chooses not to seek that body’s accreditation because they offer an alternative approach is less of a school, I have problem with, especially if the school has been around for years, and grads pass the bar and practice law successfully.

I agree with jonlevy – people have to know their limitations with the course they take in life – education, experiences, etc.  I know my approach towards law school will not open some doors for me – I accept that – but other doors will be opened that are not available currently.  I would like to pursue those and can with an online law degree, thanks to those states who allow for alternatives.  Life is about success and failure – if someone wishes to pursue a path, the person should allowed to opportunity to succeed or fail based one his/her own volition – not some entity’s sanctioning.

FalconJimmy

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 684
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Correlation Between High Tuition Costs & Affordable Legal Assistance??
« Reply #65 on: January 06, 2012, 11:02:11 AM »

Which supports my main principle – it’s NOT the school that makes the attorney, it’s the students in how s/he applies themselves – the school provides the direction.

I agree with you there, to a degree.

The thing is, with ABA approved schools, we literally use exactly the same books.  We all cover exactly the same subjects.  The 1L sequence, at virtually every ABA accredited law school, is essentially identical.  Our professors come from exactly the same schools.  Yes, the class at Harvard probably does dig a little deeper into topics. Maybe they cover a little more material, but not much.  Their Torts course and the one at a 4T aren't really that different.

Their students are, but the courses aren't.  Their library is probably worlds better than the library at my school.  So, maybe they have more resources, and that justifies saying that the experience is better.  The classrom experience, though?  Probably not that different.

With an unaccredited school, it's possible that you're using all the same materials and you have profs from all the same schools.  Trouble is, that's not generally what I've observed.  If you do, then great.  I agree.  It's entirely likely that the very best student at an unaccredited school is every bit as good as the very best student at a 4T or 3T.  Heck, probably in the ballpark of what the very best students would be like at a 1T or 2T.

Thing is, there seems to be a pretty big difference between what is taught and how.  For instance, a while back one poster commented that she was covering 300 cases or somesuch, in one of her classes.  That would be an astronomical number of cases.  However, she later revealed that her textbook was Legalines or something of the sort.  She wasn't even actually using an actual textbook.  She was using a study aid.  I find it very, very hard to believe that a person who was going through law school this way would have had the same educational experience (or approximately the same educational experience) as a 1L at Harvard.

A crappy 1T/2T student will be just as “uncompetitive” as someone in the lower 90% of a 4T school, I suspect.

Probably

 
I have said the school attended will have an effect on job competition – that’s reality – I understand even though I don’t agree, but to say just because someone opts for an alternative approach (online, law clerk program, apprentice with a judge/lawyer) to studying the law makes them less capable and should be disqualified from taking a bar exam – even when heir are those who have do so and practice successfully – is shortsighted in their view and elitist in their thinking. 



Yeah, I see your point and to a degree, I agree with you.  Face it, the law is a profession and one aspect of a profession is always to try to limit the number of people who practice that profession.  Heck, you can't even be a plumber in my neck of the woods unless you're connected, probably by blood. 

My full opinion on this is that anybody who can pass the bar should be an attorney.  However, in my world, the bar would be a lot harder to pass.  Here's the difficulty:  as a thumbnail, it appears that bar passage rates for nontrads is pretty poor.  Might be on order of only 10 or 20% of people who graduate from a nontrad program can pass the bar. 

So, if the world were what I envision, with a much harder bar exam, who knows, maybe folks at 4Ts like me would see that only 40% of the class would pass the bar, but then, what, 5% or 10% of the folks from the nontrad programs?

To me the problem isn't that a person from a nontrad program can't be a good attorney.  Heck, Abraham Lincoln is one of the most famous attorneys in the history of the nation and he never once set foot in a law school as a student.

It's that we shouldn't encourage people to embark on programs of study where there is, at best, a minimal chance of success. 

Granted, some people will still want to fight the odds, but when you're talking about such a low percentage of people being able to even meet minimal demonstrated knowledge on the bar, I don't see how it's unreasonable for states to close this door.

For instance, if there were a medical school where only 10% of the grads could pass state boards, would it be unreasonable for a state to shut down the medical school, or if they couldn't, to say that graduates from that school are not allowed to practice in a state?

It's hard to build a rule around an exception and the nontrad law student who can pass the bar is an exception.

Also, education is not entirely about education.  In fact, it's probably equally about credentialing.  (Some would argue that it's not about education at all, and is almost entirely about credentialling.)

Society really can't individually evaluate people so we use processes to stand in the stead of individual evaluation.  To me, the low bar passage rate of nontrad programs is probably somewhat due to an inherently inferior educational process, but is probably more largely related to the fact that entrance standards aren't very rigorous.  (I think at some of the California schools, all you need is an associate's degree, for instance.)

Basically, when the ABA accredited schools accept somebody, they're accepting a person with a 90% chance of passing the bar, after a program of study.

When a nontrad accepts somebody, they're accepting a person with a 20% chance of passing the bar, after a program of study.

Again, when states try to make a rule, do they really want to build it around an exception?  Heck, I bet a lot of former combat medics could easily step into a hospital and do absolutely everything an RN could do.  Are states wrong to require that a person complete an RN program of study before being allowed to be an RN?

Some people are really safe drivers at 80 mph.  Some are unsafe at 45.  Still, we have speed limits and we expect all of society to adhere to them. 

That's the crux of the matter.  It's not that anybody wants to be unfair or discriminate.  It's that there are standards, and frankly, I don't see how the standards are unreasonable.  They're not perfect, but they're not unfair. 



FalconJimmy

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 684
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Correlation Between High Tuition Costs & Affordable Legal Assistance??
« Reply #66 on: January 06, 2012, 11:02:38 AM »
There may be only one or two at a time who succeed through those programs, but to deny those ones or twos the opportunity spits in the face of our whole national concept of anyone can do anything if they set their minds to it.

Ya know, if the Miami Dolphins allowed just anybody to show up to training camp, then I bet once in a while, somebody would make the team.  Thing is, they don't do that, knowing full well that every now and then, it will cost them a player who might actually be pretty good. 

Almost anybody can be an attorney, but let's be srious.  Not just anyone can do just anything if they set their minds to it.  For instance, there are some stupid attorneys out there but I sincerely doubt that you could pass the bar exam if you were of below average intelligence.  So, right off the bat, 50% of the population just got denied an opportunity by nothing more than an accident of birth.

Do you believe in ANY education requirement?  Because if you believe a bachelor's degree is a nice thing to have, there goes another half of the remaining 50%. 

Life isn't fair and it's naive to think that everybody can do anything they set their minds to.  It's a nice thought and folks should certainly try, but it's just not the way the world works.  I'm not sure there's a set of plausible circumstances that would have ever allowed me to become an MD, for instance.  I just wasn't that good in science courses.  Oh well.  Too bad.  So sad.  No matter how I put my mind to it, I doubt I could ever be a doctor.  That's just the way the world works.

OTOH, I don't see that attending an ABA law school is some horrible requirement.  Honestly, it's probably an order of magnitude easier to be a JD where I live than it is to be a plumber, if you do not have family connections.

What you're saying, though, is that it's either too expensive or too much trouble, or both.  The only person who is excluding you is yourself.  You know what you have to do.  You probably can do it.  You don't want to do it.  It'd be no different than me demanding to be a fireman, but saying that I don't need any of the formal training and that I know a guy who knows a lot about being a fireman and he trains me in my back yard.  I don't need the certifications, I don't need any of that.  The guy in my backyard prepares me well enough.

I would like to pursue those and can with an online law degree, thanks to those states who allow for alternatives.  Life is about success and failure – if someone wishes to pursue a path, the person should allowed to opportunity to succeed or fail based one his/her own volition – not some entity’s sanctioning.

States regulate all sorts of things, including where you can get your hair cut.  I used to get an occassional haircut from a neighbor girl who had never attended cosmetology school, wasn't licensed by the state and who worked out of her home. 

Nothing bad ever happened to me, other than perhaps a wonky haircut now and then.  Again, though, I don't see how this is an argument that the state should get out of the licensing business.  The state can't build a rule around an exception. 

You know what you have to do to attend an ABA school.  If you chose not to do it, you know the consequences.  If you accept that, then good for you.  However, railing that schools that produce 20% bar passage rates should be considered the same as schools that produce 90% bar passage rates is a tough sell.

GovLaw

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 52
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Correlation Between High Tuition Costs & Affordable Legal Assistance??
« Reply #67 on: January 06, 2012, 01:11:28 PM »
My major issue in this area is that some of the DL schools downplay the difficulty in actually practicing law with a degree from their school.  I would certainly feel better about this if there were more transparency and disclosure.   I actually like the DL model, at least in theory.  I feel the bar should be redesigned to be more difficult and to weed out persons who won't be good attorneys.  I do believe in minimum qualifications for taking the bar, but I feel that the ABA has overly much influence in this area.  If a law school can get accreditation from an authority recognized by the U.S. Department of Education I think that graduates from that school should be able to sit for the bar.  However, remember that I also advocate that the bar be made more difficult, so "nothings free", as they say.  In my vision DL students would know what they are getting into, their schools would meet minimum requirements (or disappear) and they would be allowed to take the bar - but it would be harder. I also feel this would also weed out some students from B&M schools - just because a school has a physical location doesn't mean that all the graduates are wonderful....