March 3, 2015

Above the Law's Elie Mystal compares the LSAT to a condom and to a manhole cover.

In this post about the decision by a some law schools to accept applicants who have not taken the LSAT.
These law schools are trying to turn the purchase of legal education into an impulse buy. Don’t buy a prep course that costs a thousand bucks, instead spend $150,000 bucks on a lark. This is the law school version of the guy who tells you that he doesn’t use condoms because it “kills the mood.” The LSAT is a de-minimus prophylactic that, if used properly, can help protect students from harm. But Iowa and SUNY just want you to trust them.

Mystal went to Harvard (and you can't even trust Harvard to teach people to spell de minimis right). Mystal is commenting on a Bloomberg News article that has this:
Barry Currier, managing director of accreditation and legal education at the ABA... says doing away with the test might draw people to a career in law who would otherwise go to business or medical school. 
Mystal's reaction:
Instead of making law school reasonable, affordable, and valuable to people who want to be lawyers, deans are concerned with drawing — suckering — people into law who don’t know what they want to do with their lives. “I wanted to be a doctor, but I went to law school because I didn’t have to take a test.”...

And let’s remember that law school is ALREADY the easiest professional school to get into... Law school is already the recycling bin for the useless humanities degrees of the world....

The LSAT is only important because it’s... a “barrier,” the same way a manhole cover is a barrier that prevents you from falling down in a hole even if you aren’t paying attention....

15 comments:

Renee said...

But condoms do kill the mood...

Analogy doesn't help.

tim maguire said...

Not for nuthin is Elie Mystal the favorite punching bag among commenters at Above the Law. Sure, he went to Harvard, but he didn't pass the bar (!) and he tried to renege on his law school debts.

Nevertheless, he makes a good point. There are many problems with how we run our legal education. That the LSAT makes it too hard to get in is not one of them.

Brando said...

When I decided to go to law school in the late '90s, the conventional wisdom was that if you got into a good school and didn't flunk out, you were almost certain of getting a good job with a much higher salary that you would have with simply a bachelors degree. The schools' stats (which it turns out were very skewed) basically said so. While things worked out fine for me, getting decent jobs was much harder than expected, and apparently it is far worse for law students today with such a surplus of lawyers in the market. I don't know whether I would make the same choice today that I did in 1997.

The biggest problem with this surplus isn't just that lawyers will have trouble finding work (I'm sure the world's tiniest violin is playing for them). It's that a mass of desperate lawyers means a lot more frivilous cases being advanced by attorneys who previously would have turned these cases down, because even a loser of a case can be good experience, and a slim chance at settlement is better than nothing.

rhhardin said...

The LSAT is only important because it’s... a “barrier,” the same way a manhole cover is a barrier that prevents you from falling down in a hole even if you aren’t paying attention....

Manhole covers are circular so that they can't fall into their own hole.

Like a diaphram.

Sandra Bullock fell into a hole in All About Steve, which plot required her dangerous moment in The Proposal to be changed from falling into another hole. She had to be rescued from something else.

Renee said...

Why didn't pass the Bar? Massachusetts has a decent pass rate. Did he just take it once?

Brando said...

"Why didn't pass the Bar? Massachusetts has a decent pass rate. Did he just take it once?"

State bars (at least the ones I took) are not easy, but anyone willing to prepare adequately should have no problem passing. The only people I know who failed bar exams were those who didn't study for it.

MadisonMan said...

People should be free to make any stupid decision they wish. If that includes throwing 6 figures at the John Doe School of Law and Taxidermy (apologies to Taxidermists), why should I care?

Standardized tests like the ACT, SAT, LSAT have been sold as a way to screen out hoi polloi from the True Leaders Who Deserve Things. Results from those tests do only one thing: Make Lives simple for Admissions Office Employees.

Marc said...

De minimus? Tsk.

Skipper said...

Heck, half of law school applicants are on a lark, regardless the LSAT. How many law students are there only because, as Juniors, they didn't know what else to do?

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I knew a janitor guy who referred to sanitary napkins as manhole covers.

Roger Sweeny said...

He's right. But as far as I can tell, EVERY graduate degree program is too easy to get into, in that many of the people who graduate from the program won't get the jobs the program says it prepares them for.

If universities were run "in the public interest," there would be far fewer PhD, MAT, etc. programs. But that would mean a harder life for many of the people employed by those programs.

So I don't see it happening. But it makes me glad when someone calls them out in colorful language.

Beldar said...

Misspelling de minimis is surely among the tiniest of mistakes. But that's a very droll observation, Prof. Althouse.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

$150,000 in debt should be a big enough manhole cover.

The folks who would choose to go to law school instead of medical school because they are too lazy to take a test would not make good doctors. Score that concern a a public service.

But doesn't this story miss the real story about the University of Iowa College of Law?

Iowa has a long history of resistance to the ideas of east coast test makers. the long war between Iowa's ACT and the SAT being the most visible example.

Unknown said...

Conflating a condom and a manhole (cover),

Where's Laslo?

robother said...

De minimus is the appropriate Latin (masculine) usage when used to modify any manly part or covering thereof; usage of a hyphen is optional to emphasize the diminutive nature of the ummm.... On the other hand his usage of the manhole cover analogy is disturbing.