August 18, 2014

The dean candidate who got kicked out in the middle of his job talk tells his story.

I was just asking "What's the whole story behind the anecdote that begins Paul Campos's Atlantic article 'The Law-School Scam'"? That now has this update:
David Frakt has a long blog post at The Faculty Lounge detailing what he said that day he was so rudely interrupted. Does it answer my question? He doesn't know what the faculty were texting and emailing or what Stone was thinking. What could have been perceived as "insulting"? In his account: "I explained that, according to my interpretation of LSAT scores... over half of the students in the 2013 entering class at FCSL [fell] in the 'extreme risk' of failure category." I don't know the precise words or tone of voice he used, but conceivably, the statistics are so horrible that it felt intolerably insulting just to hear the facts stated. Frakt said he "suggested that it was unfair, ethically questionable, and a potential violation of ABA standards to admit students with such poor aptitude for the study of law," and he predicted that the ABA might put the school on probation, which would drive students away and exacerbate the problem. That's pretty frightening, but it's still not enough to justify cutting off his talk. It may nevertheless make Stone's unwise reaction comprehensible.

30 comments:

Bob said...

Frakt publicly observed that FCSL was engaging in what's called "predatory admissions."

The school doesn't want people to know that. But now people do.

RonF said...

You know what's rude? Reading and sending e-mails and texts while someone is giving a presentation as part of a job search. Those people are a$$holes.

David said...

Sounds to me like he identified the most important issue the school confronts.

The faculty did not like that.

Effective lawyering demands identifying and trying to solve the most difficult and important issues facing the client. What kind of education are you going to get from a bunch of teachers who refuse to deal directly with these issues in their own institution?

mezzrow said...

This is what happens when someone with a sense of integrity tells the truth straight up.

Some people can't handle it, as long as the check clears.

Anonymous said...

Malthaus the Too-Serious Blogger says:

"Poor aptitude for the study of law" is simply an attempt to elide the essential issues of race and gender. By associating scoring with risk he is negating the quantization inherent in these issues, and -- as such -- all inferences must be witnessed from a less objectified perspective. Also: Female Law Students in Short Skirts put me in the 'extreme risk of erection' category.

Anonymous said...

Malthaus the Too-Serious Blogger says:

Race and gender do not transcend aptitude for aptitude is a chimera conjured to explicitly shut down the implications of race and gender in the humanized format: to fail to transcend nothing necessarily negates the illusion of opportunity. Also: Female Law Students in Short Skirts should sit nearest the floor vents.

Anonymous said...

Malthaus the Too-Serious Blogger says:

Race and gender are at the most risk when the risk is ignored -- or worse -- denied. There will always be those who deny the racial/gender construct through misguided law, and their very denial places them securely inside the construct. Also: Female Law Students in Short Skirts should keep on doing that thing with their tongue that they are not aware they are doing.

john said...

"In my talk, I suggested that it was unfair, ethically questionable, and a potential violation of ABA standards to admit students with such poor aptitude for the study of law."

Frakt did not suggest it. He directly stated that FCSL violated ABA standards. He directly accused Snow of unethical behavior and probably incompetence.

That Snow kicked Frakt out shows he is not only a jerk but also that his poorly-considered action will ratchet up the bad publicity and may induce the ABA investigation he wants to avoid.

Anonymous said...

Female Law Student in Short Skirt says:

Yes, I am aware that my appearance causes many males to shift uncomfortably in their seats: this is their problem pertaining to the ability to focus on the matters at hand, not mine. I also choose to sit away from the floor vents not because I am worried the vented air will accidentally lift up my skirt but rather I would like the truly temperature-uncomfortable to have first selection of those seats. That thing with my tongue, however: I am fully aware of what i am doing.

Richard Dolan said...

His apologia pro sua vita left out his proposed solutions to the problems he identified -- that is the part of his presentation he said he regretted not having been able to give. But nothing stops him from giving it now. He wants to be seen as the white knight, determined to uphold accreditation standards and do right by prospective students, especially those who would be well advised to pick a different career. But without hearing his ideas for solving the downward admissions scam he described, it's impossible to decide whether his mission at that presentation was as high-minded as he says, or more focused on a self promotion pitch that backfired.

Fen said...

"the statistics are so horrible that it felt intolerably insulting just to hear the facts stated."

Micro-Aggression!

"We are offended by uncomfortable truths" said the Universities.

And America fell.

Zeb Quinn said...

Caveat emptor plays a role here. Except for those among them that are bona fide sub-70 IQers.

DrMaturin said...

I'm a physician and a member of the voluntary faculty of a medical school. If half of all medical school graduates failed to find residencies and had to take jobs as medical assistants or baristas the practicing physicians in this country would be up in arms and the situation would be rapidly remedied, perhaps by closing the badly performing schools. I'm amazed that this isn't the case in law. Don't practicing lawyers and law school faculty feel any sense of obligation at all to the thousands of young people who are graduating into lives of debt and failure?

FleetUSA said...

@Dr M. That's the problem in the legal profession.

I am glad Prof. AA found out what happened.

DrMaturin said...

The issue here isn't for-profit vs. non-profit. That's just a distraction. The issue is that the legal profession, the ABA and legal educators tolerate the corruption of legal education and the destruction of the lives of thousands of naive young people. To simply shrug and say caveat emptor is immoral.

Larry J said...

hn said...
"In my talk, I suggested that it was unfair, ethically questionable, and a potential violation of ABA standards to admit students with such poor aptitude for the study of law."

Frakt did not suggest it. He directly stated that FCSL violated ABA standards. He directly accused Snow of unethical behavior and probably incompetence.

That Snow kicked Frakt out shows he is not only a jerk but also that his poorly-considered action will ratchet up the bad publicity and may induce the ABA investigation he wants to avoid.


This is called the "Barbara Streisand Effect" where attempts to silence unpleasant news only serve to draw attention to it.

DrMaturin said...

The issue is that the legal profession, the ABA and legal educators tolerate the corruption of legal education and the destruction of the lives of thousands of naive young people. To simply shrug and say caveat emptor is immoral.


This would be a good point if the legal profession had any ethics and morality. So long as the tuition checks clear, they don't care about what happens once their students graduate.

Tank said...

Larry J said...

This would be a good point if the legal profession had any ethics and morality. So long as the tuition checks clear, they don't care about what happens once their students graduate.


With the caveat that I went to law school a long time ago, my experience was that most of the professors were very helpful and enthusiastic about helping students find employment. I mean that they went out of their way to use their contacts in the legal community to help students get jobs.

That being said, we have too many lawyers in the this country already. I'm sure that, for various reasons, lots of people are going to school that should be doing something else.

Peter said...

"Caveat emptor plays a role here.

Two issues: the first is "informed consent." The students need full information if they are to make an informed decision about contracting this debt. And how many of them even have the capacity to translate that debt into payments of $N/month for M years?

The second: there's a third-party payer (or at least risk-taker) here, as many students won't repay these loans because they simply won't be able to.

There are so many simple reforms to government student loan programs. Such as, linking interest rates to risk, based on major, grades, (and simply refusing loans when the risk is too high). Such as, pushing some of the risk back on the schools. Such as, requiring proof that the student understands the terms, and the probability of employment related to the education offered, prior to signing the loan contract.

Just as electric appliances have a label estimating the annual cost of using the appliance, perhaps students using student loans could be required to sign a form that provided a probability of graduation (based on current, weighted GPA and SAT/ACT/GRE/LSAT/MCAT, etc., score) and on related employment IF the student graduated, updated annually?

In any case, isn't it time to give up the nonsense that everyone should/must have at least a 4-year degree (until that becomes commonplace, and everyone must have a graduate degree)?

Carol said...

Bwahahahha..they couldn't handle the truth.

Montana is looking for a new dean. I hope he brings his presentation here.

DrMaturin said...

Legal education needs the same kind of cleansing that medical education went through a century ago. Google Flexner Report for the details. Among the many reforms the Report triggered was the closing of more than half of all American medical schools that were in operation in 1910. Medical education and medical practice were greatly improved by these reforms.

Larry J said...

Legal education needs the same kind of cleansing that medical education went through a century ago.

Close at least half of the law schools, raze the buildings, and salt the earth so nothing grows there again.

That, or repurpose the buildings into something actually useful.

RonF said...

Peter:

"And how many of them even have the capacity to translate that debt into payments of $N/month for M years?"

They were taught it in Algebra II their Freshman or Sophmore year in High School. Any college student who either a) doesn't remember how to do that or b) can't figure out how to use any of a hundred loan calculators on the internet is too stupid to be a lawyer.

DrMaturin said...

They were taught it in Algebra II their Freshman or Sophmore year in High School. Any college student who either a) doesn't remember how to do that or b) can't figure out how to use any of a hundred loan calculators on the internet is too stupid to be a lawyer.

Then they should never have been admitted to a law school in the first place. You have to have aced freshman calculus in college to get into medical school. Yet people who can't grasp simple algebra can go to law school?

Larry J said...

nF said...
Peter:

They were taught it in Algebra II their Freshman or Sophmore year in High School. Any college student who either a) doesn't remember how to do that or b) can't figure out how to use any of a hundred loan calculators on the internet is too stupid to be a lawyer.


Clueless Law Student: "They told me there'd be no math! Hell, if I could do math, I would've become and engineer or something."

Anonymous said...

DrMaturin said...

Legal education needs the same kind of cleansing that medical education went through a century ago.

You mean, turned into a monopolistic government backed cartel? I disagree.

A much better solution: change the law so that student loans can be discharged in bankruptcy after 10 years, and the school the student loans were spent at is liable for the first 20% of the outstanding loans.

ken in sc said...

My wife told me about a physics course required in her medical school. One of the students asked the professor why physics was required in that it didn't have anything to do with medicine. The professor answered that it was to keep stupid people out of medicine. If you are not smart enough to pass his physics class, he said, you are not smart enough to be anyone's doctor.

Maybe law school should have a course like that.

Larry J said...

egq said...
DrMaturin said...

You mean, turned into a monopolistic government backed cartel? I disagree.


Is the American Bar Association any less a monopolistic government-backed cartel than the American Medical Association? With the apparent exception of online schools, doesn't the ABA essentially control who gets to open a law school like the AMA does for medical schools? Don't most states* require candidates for the bar exam to graduate from an ABA approved school?

*From what I've read, California is the only state that allows graduates from non-ABA approved online or correspondence law schools to take the bar exam. There are also restrictions that vary by state on graudates from foreign law schools to take a US bar exam.

DrMaturin said...

Legal education needs the same kind of cleansing that medical education went through a century ago.

You mean, turned into a monopolistic government backed cartel? I disagree.

A much better solution: change the law so that student loans can be discharged in bankruptcy after 10 years, and the school the student loans were spent at is liable for the first 20% of the outstanding loans.


Medicine may be a cartel but at least the gate-keeping occurs at the time of admission, not after graduation. If you get into medical school you will almost certainly graduate and practice medicine. If you don't get in you're still young enough, and hopefully solvent enough, to do something else. We don't dump half of our graduates onto the streets and tell them they're on their own. And fiddling around with student loan terms won't change the reality that legal education is in deep trouble and needs serious, systemic reform.

DrMaturin said...

@ken in sc:

This is why, I believe, most of us had to ace calculus to get into medical school. In my 32 years as an M.D. I've never once used calculus and couldn't derive or integrate any more if you paid me. It was a test of perseverance and intelligence.

Anonymous said...

He sounds like a racist.