Monday, April 30, 2012

The ninth circle

This weekend I discovered the existence of something called AAMPLE, which stands for the Alternative Admissions Model for Legal Education.  I haven't been able to run down who created and markets it, but it appears to be a standardized program that a number of law schools -- the number is unclear, but as of two years ago was apparently about 22 --employ. (Some of these schools appear to employ less pernicious -- shorter and less expensive -- variations on the program than the one described below).

It works like this: schools invite some of their rejected applicants to enroll in a six-week summer program, which involves taking a couple of upper level law school courses -- one on fourth amendment issues, and the other on negotiable instruments.  At the conclusion of the courses, the students take standard issue-spotting in-class exams. If they achieve at least a 2.5 GPA in both courses, they are offered admission to the school's fall entering class.

The original justification for these programs appears to have been that some people with bad LSAT scores and/or GPAs will do better in law school (in this context "better" means "not flunking out") than their numbers predict, and this is a good way to find out who they are.  These programs, however, should be sending up red flags to anyone looking into them.  For one thing, most law schools who have AAMPLE programs are remarkably reticent about the fact.  I went to the web sites of the 22 schools that LSAC listed as having such programs as of April 2010, and in most cases it was impossible to find any information about them, or indeed that they even existed (prospective law students can't apply for the program without first being invited to do so by the school after being rejected in the regular application process).

Those schools that do provide information about their AAMPLE programs use a canned FAQ format (compare this with this) which goes to great lengths to insulate the school from any potential complaints, legal or otherwise, and which is also very careful not to contain any information about how much this is going to cost the hopeful applicant.

How much this is going to cost turns out to be remarkably variable.  At some schools -- for example St. John's and Loyola New Orleans -- the program itself apparently costs nothing, beyond the cost of textbooks (which in themselves run several hundred dollars).  Others, for example New York Law School and Nova Southeastern, the tuition is or at least was -- more on that in a moment -- $3500, meaning that someone coming to the school to take the program could easily spend $5000 in six weeks in a last-ditch attempt to gain admittance to these schools.

Who do schools invite to participate?  Three years ago, Nova invited nearly half their rejected applicants to take part. 183 took them up on the offer, and 85 passed the courses. Now this was obviously a terrific little profit center for school, given that the program generated $640,500 in revenues.  (Some schools -- I'm unclear whether Nova is one -- credit the tuition paid by successful participants toward their first-year tuition.)  

Most of the AAMPLE participants at Nova had LSAT scores below the 23rd percentle, and a significant number were below the 13th percentile (two participants had LSAT scores between the second and the sixth percentile of the test, which represents a raw score barely better than answering the questions on the test randomly).

Now consider that, in comparison to some other schools that employ AAMPLE, Nova is relatively selective institution.  Per LSAC's latest data (which is two years out of date) it was admitting "only" 40% of applicants through the regular admissions process.  By contrast, three schools that actually promote the existence of their AAMPLE programs -- Charlotte, Florida Coastal, and Phoenix -- have been admitting between 65% and 73% of their applicants, per the same slightly outdated LSAC numbers.  Thomas Cooley, which also employs AAMPLE although you can't discover this via the school's web site, admitted 83% of its 2010 applicants. It seems probable that these schools invite the large majority of the the relatively few applicants they reject to take part in their AAMPLE programs.

My very initial research into these programs (I trust that the attorneys suing these institutions will look into these matters in more detail) has uncovered some interesting recent developments in regard to them.  Specifically, Florida Coastal, which was charging $3200 tuition for its AAMPLE program, has quite suddenly dropped the price of participating by 84.375%, to $500.  Charlotte is now charging the same price.  I was unable to discover what Phoenix is or was charging, but given that all three of these schools are owned by the same for-profit company it would be a surprise if both Charlotte and Phoenix haven't dropped their prices in concert with their corporate brethren.

Also, consider the trend at Phoenix in regard to how many participants in the program are being admitted:

  • 2005 11%
  • 2006 22%
  • 2007 20%
  • 2008 33%
  • 2009 42%
  • 2010 51%
  • 2011 Spring 80%
I don't know what "Spring" means in this context, but I suspect it means Phoenix started offering the program twice in 2011.  I also suspect that what's going on at these schools is that they've dropped the price of participation radically in an attempt to use the program to lure people through their doors who might have otherwise thought twice about attending if they had been admitted in the first instance, as opposed to treating the program as an independent profit center.  The psychological manipulation this strategy employs is not very sophisticated, but it may well prove quite effective.  (For a glimpse into the psychology of the sort of applicants who are  targeted by these schools, read this applicant's narrative of his admissions cycle).

Once again, we see how in legal academia something that sounds relatively innocuous in theory -- standardized tests have serious drawbacks, some people who score badly on the LSAT can still be competent lawyers, it's important to maintain "access" etc. etc. -- has been perverted into just another way of extracting money, coming and going, from naive, desperate people.


106 comments:

  1. I honestly don't see what's wrong with this. If you're dumb enough to contemplate going to these schools and dumber enough to take the offer, you should know/deserve what you're getting yourself into.

    The schools don't hide that they charge tuition for the program, and the for-profit ones don't hide that they're for-profit. How is this different from purchasing any other good?

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    1. Dumb enough to go these schools? WOW. Please tell me you went/go to a top 5 school? Not that it would give you a license to degrade others, it's just that I can't imagine someone having the brass to say something like that without at least top tier school credentials.

      Every school prepares there students for the same bar exams. What matters in real life, is the quality of the graduate. The ignorant inference that follows from your comment is that the LSAT is the end-all indicator of law school/career success. That is just not the case. It is only the best available method, but it cannot measure certain intangibles that are imperative to success in life and work and what it does measure, it does so with relatively significant inaccuracy.

      In a recent experience, the managing partner of my firm pushed a candidate from UF to my division. The kid was #7 in his class, law review, went to Cornell for undergrad, and had been published! Fired in under a month. He lacked maturity, and he couldn't keep up with the pace and stress of actual deadlines with real consequences. Sure, he was a good writer, but what good is it if you cannot meet deadlines. Meanwhile, a kid from St. Thomas that had been brought on just before the "wiz-kid" is taking on the work of two people without even flinching or any degradation in the quality of his work. He has average to above average grades, no law review, but very serious, and he's career-oriented. He makes over $90k with less than a year of experience.

      DO a little research next time you decide to speak. You will learn that some of the top law firms in the country employ students out of Nova (among other lower tier schools). Those firms include H&K, GT, and Greenspoon. In some cases, candidates were chosen over graduates from top 50 schools. In fact, Justice Thomas offered his own critique of the law school ranking system.

      http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2012/09/24/justice-thomas-says-law-school-rankings-lead-to-discrimination/

      It sounds like you have some growing up to do, if you intend on being a lawyer.

      Good luck to you.

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  2. 8:26:

    Because the good purchased can actually be USED and not purchased with non-dischargeable predatory debt, ya damn fool.

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  3. That's just plain wrong. We buy things that can't be used for debt all the time. Let's see here: vacations, massages, leadership seminars...and we pay for it using credit cards, who are predatory, though admittedly not non-dischargeable.

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  4. In case you didn't understand the analogy, I'm saying that law school itself can have value. You go to feel smarter/learn "law"/tell people you're in law school and going to be a lawyer, etc.

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  5. You have GOT to be kidding. I did not go to law school to, "feel smarter/learn "law"/tell people you're in law school and going to be a lawyer, etc." I went so I could make a decent middle class living. Before we go jumping to conclusions, I had zero expectation of a Biglaw job. However, I did expect a job.

    Not sure about the references to vacations, massages, etc... Massages are relatively cheap, vacations can be hugely expense. You even proved the point in stating that financing them with CC debt is still dischargeable debt.

    Try to get with the program. You are either a troll or completely ignorant of the problem.

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  6. Does anyone know if students that make it through these classes get credits that count toward graduation for their efforts?

    And that is a lot of money to spend for the opportunity to get into law school.

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  7. Maybe you went to law school for purely economic reasons and didn't anything out of it whatsoever. If so, then I feel very bad for you.

    The fact is that many people aren't like you. Many people went to law school because they thought they were interested in the law, and many of them end up enjoying law school just by itself, regardless of employment option.

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  8. And no, $5,000 is really not that much money.

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  9. 9:06: That is great for people who can afford to spend $130,000 for "enjoyment" of law school. But a lot of the people in this programs are not from wealthy families.

    Also, if you are after intellectual enjoyment, engineering programs are VERY broadening and build thinking skills, and they are much cheaper and actually improve employment prospects. A master's in statistics is also a good choice for the intellectually curious.

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  10. No, what I'm saying is that yes, employment is obviously extremely important, but don't think that it's the ONLY thing that you'll get out of law school. Enjoy the ride and grow from the experience, cherish the relationships you make, etc.

    Honestly if you don't have ANY scholarships and are so poor you have to borrow the entire load...you have no business going to law school period, except maybe to HYS.

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  11. Over the weekend I had thought about suggesting this as a topic for your posts (I recall one of my college friends doing this program at Widener). Looks like you were a bit faster on the draw than I.

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  12. 9:06; 9:18:

    Nobody on this thread ever said that it was ONLY for the job prospects. I would be willing to bet that most if not all went for the intellectual aspect of it as well, but when you are taking on debt, even with huge scholarship money, even if the debt is only ten grand total, I think it is fair to say that most people went because they expected a JOB!

    You don't write like an academic but you sure sound like one. I think this poster is presenting us with the next round of excuses to be delivered by the law schools.

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  13. I agree with you. I was just cautioning against tunnel vision and reminding you about the intellectual aspect.

    It's uncontroversial that no one should ever accept the offer to enroll in these programs. In fact, I would say it was uncontroversial that no one should enroll in these schools.

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  14. If the law schools told the truth so the borrower/student/customer (BSC) had all the facts, it would be uncontroversial. The law schools created the controversy by LYING. The government passed laws to make student loans PREDATORY. Everyone but the BSCs created the controversy. BSCs and the taxpayer have to deal with it.

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  15. "Cherish the relationships" ? LOL. A cat is cheaper.

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  16. student loans ARE predatory... i've never heard it put like that, but i think you're onto something.. it will make a nice soundbite for election season..

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  17. tdennis239,

    You are an idiot.

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  18. tdennis239,

    You are not an idiot. I liked the comment.

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  19. Looks like AAMPLE is a mechanism for low-ranked schools to squeeze money out of those with even lower numbers, rather than turning them (and their money) away.

    Reminds me of a practice at NYU (perhaps at other universities as well), where those rejected from PhD programs are invited to apply to a costly interdisciplinary master's program that isn't particularly likely to lead anywhere. Seems to serve as a nice cash cow for the university.

    Details:

    http://forum.thegradcafe.com/topic/12595-nyu-draper-ma
    http://forum.thegradcafe.com/topic/2157 ... ram-at-nyu
    http://applyingtograd.livejournal.com/1651526.html

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  20. Corrected 2nd link: http://forum.thegradcafe.com/topic/21579-draper-program-at-nyu

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  21. These programs truly are nothing more than "terrific little profit centers." We have established that ABA-accredited law school diploma mills/dung pits have no ethics, shame, or integrity.

    At some point, all one will need to get into law school is a brain stem and a laptop.

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  22. Apologies if I missed this in the post, but I wonder if students admitted through this program have their LSAT scores counted in the USNWR numbers for the school. Could a school just simply not report the admittee's low LSAT number under the theory that the applicant had been admitted under this program rather than an LSAT / GPA assessment? I'm not saying that's the case, but it would be an interesting way to cook the books and inflate a school's average LSAT score for USNWR purposes.

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  23. By the way, do AMA-approved medical schools or ADA-accredited dental schools stoop to such levels?

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  24. On a somewhat related note, former admissions dean of the University of Illinois Law School has re-emerged as a real estate agent about 50 miles west of Champaign: http://www.ppless.cbhoa.com/default.cfm/page/agent/cat/display/publicid/3092128274.htm

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  25. @10:10
    Thanks for the defense.

    @10:04
    LOL----Yes, you got me there. Sometimes, I am an idiot. But not when it comes to spending tens of thousands of dollars for "relationships to cherish".

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  26. @10:50 Nice! From one scam to another.

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  27. @10:50 I wonder if anyone asks him about the 9-year gap on his resume.

    http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=23660462&trk=tab_pro

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  28. I've heard of these programs, but never bothered to read about them. The school I (regrettably) attended employed such a program. I first heard about it because a friend of a friend ended up taking, and bombing out of, it one summer.

    It's hard to see much upside in this. Well, for anyone other than the school that is...

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  29. @ Anonymous APRIL 30, 2012 10:49 AM: I think you nailed it. I believe the school puts people at the shallow end of the talent pool through this type of program to hide their stats from USNWR, as well as take money from people who would be better off doing something different with their lives. /rant.

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  30. Just read the applicants narrative. That poor child. That poor, poor child. William Ockham

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  31. I would bet dollars to donuts that this back door allows schools to avoid reporting these applicants' heinous GPAs/LSATs as part of their admitted class. Wow. This really is the ninth circle.

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  32. "Maybe you went to law school for purely economic reasons and didn't anything out of it whatsoever. If so, then I feel very bad for you."

    "And no, $5,000 is really not that much money."


    There is only one thing to say to this.

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  33. How in-tune is the average tenured law professor to the the operations of a law school? Do professors have meetings with the Dean where he outlines incoming class size, the budget, the number of transfer students, etc., or do these meetings never take place?

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  34. Why is everyone who post on here so poor, or otherwise so attuned to the plights of the poor?

    Lots of people who go to law school have it paid for, either by their parents or from their own savings. Why are we focusing on people who take out debt irresponsibly?

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  35. @12:12pm

    I agree. In fact, where are all these poor people everybody keeps talking about? I go to a lot of parties and I never meet any of them. I think The Poor is just something the lib'rul media made up so that they can push their anti-American agenda

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  36. I guess if people took out debts based upon fraudulent employment stats, then they were irresponsible. I am focusing on the 85% of those law students who took out debt. Kinda conclusory when you ASSume that all those who are writing about debt took it out irresponsibly.

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  37. Back in the early 1980s, the ABA threatened to pull the University of Tennessee Law School's accreditation because it did not enroll enough African-Americans. Hard to believe there ever was a time the ABA ever threatened a law school's accreditation, but it is true. The problem at the time, was not that the law school's admission committe was inherently racist; it just could not attract enough African-Americans that could attain Tennessee's LSAT cut-off score. Those that could obtain such a score could get into a better ranked school. So, UT had a program called CLEO. I don't recall what it stood for, but it was only for African-American students. It started with my entering class in 1984. These students attended a summer program before their first year of law school. A couple of the untenured professors taught them how to take law exams, study, etc. AFter the summer program, during the three years of their attendance, a couple of the professors met with these students each week, tutored them, and, rumor had it, taught them what would be on the exams.

    Could AAMPLE be some sort of attempt on the part of these law schools to attract minorities? Of course, back when UT did this, it was free. Perhaps some Dean somewhere saw this as a money making opportunity if it opened it up to all marginal applicants.

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  38. I agree 12:27. Why do scam-bloggers hate America?

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  39. I don't know why people keep arguing with those who bring up the responsibility argument. this is a discussion about morals. Its a discussion about economics.

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  40. is not a discussion about morals

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  41. The "rumor" was that they told them what was going to be in the exam ? And UT students who were not in the program just let these alleged violations pass without getting to the bottom of it?

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  42. @12:42
    For sake of argument, lets say you are correct. People going into debt for law school are irresponsible and undeserving of any sympathy. That being said, does that justify these law schools and the ABA essentially destroying the legal profession by producing far more lawyers than the economy can absorb? What of the small practitioner who attended law school thirty or forty years ago when law school was cheap, there existed no severe glut of lawyers in the market place, when going to law school marked one as abitious, rather than irresponsible, and he or she spent decades building a practice? Is it moral or ethical for law school deans and professors knowingly to destroy small law heedlessly with a glut of new graduates just so they can make exhorbinant salaries?

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  43. I recall that Touro Law School had a special agenda to help disadvantaged minority students.

    One week before the 1L orientation started, there was a week long private orientation just for the minority students.

    They had their own outlines, and in the second semester of my first year, a friend I used to study with in a group gave our group one of those outlines.

    I guess they were all told to sit in the front rows and to participate as much as possible, because during the course of my first year at Touro Law School in 1992, Fall and Spring Semester, the first two or 3 rows were all occupied by the same group in almost all of the classes.

    Strangely, the student that always wore the Yale sweat shirts and T shirts didn't sit anywhere near the first three rows.

    If Touro Law School keeps records of seating arrangements on file, the old records would bear me out.

    Anyway, in my 2L year, that was all a thing of the past.

    For in the second year, whomever had survived from the first 2 or three rows were sitting elsewhere, and I recall that one or two had even taken an option to take their entire first year over, which horrified me.

    It was all kind of sad. I was glad to have survived my first year, though on academic probation, but sad to see the attrition rate.

    In addition, a few of the top students had transferred out, which was also kind of sad, having gotten to know a couple myself.

    By the way, the passing around of outlines is a great topic for discussion.

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  44. @12:54
    Most of the law students, even politically progressive students like myself, had a little bit of a problem with it. The Federalist Society went crazy and demonstrated. The Black Law Students' Association counter-demonstrated. As usual, nothing changed.

    Most of the students were just trying to muddle through and most of us felt what the law school was doing was preferable to losing accreditation. We were naive.

    Sadly, as it turns out, out of the 27 or so African-American students of my class in the CLEO program, I think only about four ultimately graduated and about two passed the bar. So really, it was these young, African-American men and women who suffered, not my Caucasion cohort. They were used by the school and discarded.

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  45. Good grief, how is it that UT "used" and "discarded" them? What more could the school have possibly done for the black students? They were substandard and unable to compete; absent CLEO, they would have been wailing about exclusion and lack of opportunity. [Which, by the way, is exactly what will happen if student loan debt becomes readily dischargeable - loan sources will dry up and those without credit will bleat incessantly about being denied the chance to borrow and succeed. I can't wait as it will be profoundly entertaining!]

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  46. @2:06
    Most never had a realistic chance of obtaining a law degree or passing the bar and I believe the law school and university administrators knew it. They saw these students as a means to an end: keeping the ABA off the school's back; and I'm sure they used the very rationalization you just stated to make themselves feel better.

    These students wasted one, two, or three years of their lives when they could have been establishing a career doing somthing else that better suited them. They didn't need the taint of flunking out of law school or barely passing only to fail the bar.

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  47. Wait a minute. Things are getting mixed up. To be clear: the CLEO program is one thing. Giving people the exam questions ahead of time is something all together different. There is nothing in CLEO that would allow professors to give students exam questions ahead of time. I cannot believe that if that actually happened, all students would do is protest. You are putting this out there as if this is a legitimate part of what CLEO does.

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  48. @ 2:22

    No tdennis239 with a pathetic numeber of profile views.

    I think it was all well intentioned and in the end very sad because there is a societal disconnect.

    You sound like an older out of touch relic, like the people that created this mess are.

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  49. The US House of Representatives was looking at my blog today yet again.

    Why don't youse people finally realize that your armchair lives are coming to an end and that in the not too distant future the student loan bubble will collapse and that a lot of law school professors will be working alongside of the day laborers that hang out on countless american street corners?

    My late grandfather used to talk, with wonder, until the day he died, about how he "dug ditches alongside of College Professors" during the great Depression"

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  50. What could be more rich in irony than JD Painter calling tdennis239 "an older out of touch relic"?

    JDP is pushing 50 himself and he looks every bit of that and then some. He gave up even trying to pass the bar exam 15 or so years ago and has the nerve to blame everyone but himself for the massive student loan debt he amassed for his law degree. All the while tdennis239 put together a laudable career as an attorney, putting her law degree to legitimate use.

    You won't find a more offensive and less sympathetic debtor than JDP because there isn't one.

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  51. Exactly. JDP deserves everything he has and more.

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  52. 2:06 - Of course they used these black students. Their mere presence made the administrators feel like good progressives and avoided allegations of racism. The school knew their level of preparation, likely knew of the risks of accepting these underprepared students (or else engaged in the fantasy that they somehow had remedial powers greater than all other groups), and yet, enrolled them. They did "use" them. I know it is politically incorrect, but at my T14 law school, which had similar programs to help minority students, nothing made me more disillusioned than observing the progress of the students admitted under affirmative action criteria. Although the intentions were noble, one would have thought the school was practicing segregation when looking at the bottom 10% of the class. And to think, they took on what I thought then was a lot of debt, which in today's terms is peanuts.

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  53. @2:41
    I don't know if giving the CLEO students the exam questions was a legitimate part of the CLEO program or a defacto part of the program. I don't know if it was a practice unique to UT or a practice that permeated the entire program. I didn't administer the program. I know only that several participants in the program told me and other non-participating 1L students that the managing professor had learned from the other 1L profs the exam questions for each course the CLEO students were taking. (this may have happened my second year as well--I can't remember with certainty). There was an outcry, as I described earlier. The administration denied the CLEO students were getting the exam questions. Instead, they said the CLEO professor was giving the students an intense "review". The majority of the non-CLEO students believed what the indiscreet CLEO students told them and disbelieved the administration. But, what were we going to do? Quit in protest? Most of the non-CLEO students realized, in the end, it made little difference.

    To JDPainter:

    I probably am a relic, but I am not part of this mess and I doubt I am out of touch. I and my fellow small law practitioners have been observing the glutting of this profession every week for the past twenty-odd years when we would go to motion call and see a quickly rising tide of new, young faces. It was obvious to most of us in 1990 that the supply of lawyers was becoming glutted relative to the amount of available legal work.

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  54. "Just read the applicants narrative. That poor child. That poor, poor child. William Ockham"

    That narrative is one of the most depressing things I have read. Everyone should read that. What are this person's chances of ever practicing law? 10%? 3%? But of course, he gets admitted by Touro.....

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  55. 3:31 PM...That is sad...

    I hope when we come across AA at College we accept that they are there because they had all the requirements needed to be accepted.. I happen to know 2 AA who were at the top of their class at their Private High School..Were AP Honor Students and went on to graduate from their top 10 Universities with Honors..

    Other students never accepted them as AAs because one was from the island of Trinidad & Tobago & the other was half German...

    They did very well at University because they were exceptionally bright..

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  56. @2:06

    You performed a perfect summation of this program. I was very good friends with one of the participants. He was a lovely young man--charismatic and well-liked. He struggled and stayed on academic probation. The law school expelled him at the end of his second year. It was heartbreaking to see how the school crushed him. He could have been successful in a number of fields. He didn't need law school.

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  57. "I would bet dollars to donuts that this back door allows schools to avoid reporting these applicants' heinous GPAs/LSATs as part of their admitted class. Wow. This really is the ninth circle."

    That was my first thought, as well.

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  58. "That narrative is one of the most depressing things I have read. Everyone should read that. What are this person's chances of ever practicing law? 10%? 3%? But of course, he gets admitted by Touro....."

    Did anyone else notice that of the 14 schools that rejected him, he received fee waivers from 13 of them?

    That poor fellow had to assume those schools were generally interested in him as an applicant.

    In reality, it was worth it to them to waive his fee so that their acceptance rates could look a little better in the magazines.

    Unconscionable.

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  59. According to Harvard, to be considered African American, a person must have 4 Grand-Parents of African decent, BORN in the USA.

    If a person has 2 white grandparents and 2 grandparents born in Kenya, that person cannot be considered African American.

    But Shuuu! Do not tell anyone.

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  60. Descent (sorry)

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  61. "Nadya Suleman Files For Bankruptcy: Octomom 'Excited' About Future"

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/30/nadya-suleman-bankruptcy-octomom-chapter-7_n_1465804.html

    Students with non-dischargeable debt, the joke is on you.

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  62. There are just so many layers to the scam. It's like peeling an onion.

    Most schools are probably like mine, where every day the grade-grubbers hang around after class, glomming onto professors like a groupie waiting backstage for a rock star.

    They follow them back to the office to gain more insight on some ridiculous case from 1825, presumably to follow up on their question from class about how this case hearkens back to Blackstone, or the Magna Carta, or some such.

    So for a long time, I could almost understand why professors believe there is a market for their useless articles. Why they believe that teaching theory rather than practice is important, and why students are not only happy to be there, but genuninely are interested in the lectures they peddle.

    I've been in multiple classes (typically first year classes) where the students actually applaud the professor on the last day of class...standing ovations in some cases.

    Then they'll never see these folks again. They won't see them crying over their loan statements. They won't see them putting off major life decisions such as marriage, child-bearing and home ownership.

    Even the worst off students might complain to career services, possibly even the dean of the school, but as far as many law professors know, everything is peachy keen for 90-95% of the class, and as for the bottom-feeders, well, we've always known that we can't expect to place everyone, or that everyone will be well suited for the practice of law.

    But the more we see about these types of practices, it's becoming increasingly obvious that the red flags have been there for some time---and not just at the worst schools, either.

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  63. @2:41
    I don’t know if giving the CLEO students the exam question in advance was a sanctioned practice of the CLEO program or a defacto practice. I don’t know if the practice was widespread or limited to UT. I didn’t administer the program or participate in it. I only know that several CLEO participants told me and several other non-CLEO students that the professor who managed the program gathered from professors of the 1L CLEO participants the exam questions, reviewed them with the CLEO students, and suggested acceptable answers (it may also have occurred in 2L as well ---but my memory is uncertain on that score). The outcry I described earlier ensued. The administration claimed the CLEO students received nothing more than an intensive, pre-exam review. Most of the non-CLEO students believed the indiscrete CLEO students, not the administration. But, what were we going to do? Quit?

    To JDPainterguy:

    I am probably a relic. However, I did not create or participate in this “mess”. As far back as 1990, every week that I and my other small law colleagues went to motion call and surveyed the rising tide of new, young faces in the courtroom, we knew law schools were producing too many lawyers relative to the available legal work. Many of us decried the practice, however ineffectual. I can recall in 1994, attending a UT law school alumni fundraiser and watching, with undisguised glee, a friend and colleague offer the Dean 50K if he would shut down the law school. Unfortunately, for countless future grads, the dean did not accept his offer.

    Regardless of your lack of generosity towards me, I truly am sorry what has happened to your life. I wish you emotionally could move on, but I know you can’t for a multitude of reasons. I absolutely believe that the bankruptcy code should allow someone like you to discharge your debt. Touro never should have allowed you in; and once in, when it was clear you would not succeed, Touro, in a better position to predict your outcome, should have winnowed you out, early on. You are no less deserving of bankruptcy protection than the fool who loses 100K at the blackjack table.

    ReplyDelete
  64. "Most schools are probably like mine, where every day the grade-grubbers hang around after class, glomming onto professors like a groupie waiting backstage for a rock star."

    Dead-on. Some things never change I see.

    ReplyDelete
  65. From all the news stories surrounding law schools recently (drop in LSAT takers, schools cutting class sizes, a law administrator saying that some law schools are going to close), it looks like the law school scam as it exists currently is about to end. There is no feasible way that TTTT schools are going to continue to churn out thousands of grads each year with debt way over 100k and no job prospects.

    One thing I am certain about - as the law scammers watch their scam crumble, they will play the race card as a last ditch effort to keep the scam going. Mark my words, when it looks like schools are about to close, the scammers will begin bleating about how they provide access to legal education for underrepresented communities. The stories will come forth about their heroic grads who were the first in their family to go to college and then law school and so on. And what a tragedy it would be if our TTTT law school won't be able to teach the next hopeful generation of benighted souls to understand.

    When the race card is played, I hope that those who oppose the law school scam have the moral courage to stand up and say that the real racism comes from the law schools that play upon the hopes and aspirations of individuals like the one who's blog is linked in the penultimate paragraph of today's entry. Or the students tdennis described, who were admitted to UT law not because they had any great chance of success, but because they kept UT out of trouble with the ABA.

    ReplyDelete
  66. JDP's being so abrasive and unpleasant he makes me look like a cherub. Keep it up, champ.

    Most of the AAMPLE participants at Nova had LSAT scores below the 23rd percentle, and a significant number were below the 13th percentile (two participants had LSAT scores between the second and the sixth percentile of the test, which represents a raw score barely better than answering the questions on the test randomly).

    Couple of comments about this graf: first, scores in the "did you just fill this out randomly" range are sadly much more common than you'd think. I'd say I had a handful of students every year who would sweat and strain and work their butts off on practice tests and manage to produce scores in the 122-126 range (I never saw an actual 120 or 121). These were almost always ESL students, so struggling with a test like the LSAT was understandable. But I've also seen a few folks who had to have some sort of serious undiagnosed learning disability, or brain damage, or a case of weapons-grade stupid. Those folks are out there, and plenty of them paid thousands of dollars to my company for help with a test they were never going to master. Near the end of my tenure with the company, I just started leveling with these people: "Look, it's exceptionally rare to go up more than 15ish points, and even if you got that kind of *amazing* improvement, you still won't get into law school." It got me into trouble, but fuck it.

    Second, somewhat ironically, those "extreme" data points you offer up actually seem to prove the value of these AAMPLE programs (setting all the other scam issues aside). There's a small group of people out there who have the mental wattage to handle law school material, and to do moderately well on law school exams. But for whatever reason the LSAT does a piss-poor job of assessing their abilities. While the whole notion of these programs leaves a sour taste in my mouth, I can't help but feel there's an "atta boy" coming to the folks who couldn't break 130 on the LSAT but were able to pull B's on "real" law school exams.

    ReplyDelete
  67. @TDennis I can believe that professors wrote exam questions for them and suggested answers. Providing model questions and answers is one thing. Giving them questions that were to be used on an actual exam is something different. I cannot believe law students would not go to the press with something like that. This would have been a high point for hysteria about affirmative action. I think your informants were mistaken.

    ReplyDelete
  68. 5:36: I have been predicting the same thing now. Before it is all over I think we will see at least one lawsuit against a state bar association or the ABA stating that the bar exam is too hard or that the rule requiring 75% of students to pass the bar discriminates against minorities.

    It's truly absurd. What kind of people bleat about access to law school in pursuit of social justice then turn around and charge those same underrepresented people 50K per year to attend?!?

    ReplyDelete
  69. @6:20
    The press? What press? The Knoxville Sentinel? Now there's a hardhitting news outlet. This was Knoxville, TN in 1984. Knoxville is definitely a company town--Knoxville is UT. The Knoxville press was not going to cast the University in a bad light. It might have affected football recruiting. The non CLEO students weren't going to riot--we didn't want potential employers to see us as troublemakers. Even if one of us went to the press outside of Knoxville, to whom would he go? There was no talk radio then. CNN was nascent. No Fox. No MSNBC. This was not national news material.

    You believe what you want. I'll believe what I know.

    ReplyDelete
  70. My guess is that AAMPLE is a program run by our friends at the Law School Admission Council. see:

    http://www.lsac.org/jd/PDFs/CONDITIONAL-ADMISSION-PROGRAM-2010.pdf

    The program seems to have begun back in 1980 according to a 2011 Nova University publication that says the program had been in operation for 31 years:

    http://www.lsac.org/LSACResources/Publications/2011OG/lsac5514.pdf

    This almost certainly originated as a plan to continue affirmative action in the wake of the 1978 U.S. Supreme Court case of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke.

    ReplyDelete
  71. You said yourself that you do not KNOW anything for sure. The story that professors gave out exam questions and answers to black students at a public university would be news. Campus culture wars were raging during the 1980s, even without the Internet and talk radio as we know it now. This sounds like a version of a "white man ain't got no more rights" lament. Not credible. Oh, yes, what was the tail end of the previous thread about?

    ReplyDelete
  72. I'm sure the other posters much desire that 7:16 and I both give the "professors gave exam questions" a rest, so to all of you, I apologize. But it is hard to have one's words so distorted and not respond. This is my last post on the subject.

    @7:16
    1. I did not say I did not KNOW anything for sure. I said I could not remember if the same process happened my second year. I never disavowed knowing that "professors gave exam qustions" my first year. Try reading for accuracy.
    2. When I replied to a poster who wondered if it upset the non-CLEO students, I acknowledged that "even the progressive students like myself (sic) had a BIT of a problem with it". A "BIT of a problem" is a far cry from a "white man ain't got no more rights" lament. As I said earlier, in the end, it didn't matter much to any of us, because it had little effect on testing outcomes. I am virtually certain that the CLEO students knowing the test questions in advance did not affect my class rank or the class ranks of most of my fellow non-CLEO students one whit. Telling the CLEO students what the questions would be and giving them suggested answers a week before the test did not help them when it came time to write the essay answers. If you can't write in an organized, cogent fashion, knowing the question in advance will give you little advantage on an issue-spotting exam. I imagine the CLEO students that still did poorly did so because they communicated poorly in writing.
    3. I originally posted about the CLEO program as I observed UT practicing it in the mid 1980s as an illustration of how, even 28 years ago, law school administrators were willing to exploit vulnerable young people for their own, selfish reasons.

    If this program had resulted in 75% of the CLEO students graduating and passing the bar, I would be the first to cheer. Instead, 7%, or 2 students passed the bar. UT ground up the rest like so much chaff. Now if you think that is okay, good for you. If you think the fact that I don't think its okay makes me a resentful racist, well---clearly I too have failed to communicate clearly. You may give me an "F".

    ReplyDelete
  73. It looks like "AAMPLE" was registered as a trademark by Nova University in 2001 / 2002. See:

    http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4004:el9vig.2.1

    ReplyDelete
  74. I think prof. Campos may have gotten the meaning of the acronym a little off. The word is "AAMPLE" and his meaning "Alternative Admissions Model for Legal Education" does not include a word for the "P" letter.

    The correct meaning seems to be "Alternative Admissions Model Program for Legal Education."

    What's in a name? The "Model Program" phrase sounds like Nova law school scored themselves a grant at some point in time to come up with a "Model Program" for alternative admissions and that other law schools are now copying this "Model Program."

    ReplyDelete
  75. sounds like Nova law school scored themselves a grant at some point in time to come up with a "Model Program" for alternative admissions

    I almost wonder if such a system wouldn't be better as a whole-cloth replacement for the traditional admissions process. Better for the kids who get in, better for the kids who don't, better for society as a whole.

    As it stands now, for a total investment of less than $500 and 15 hours your time, you can take a few practice LSATs, take the real thing, fill out your online LSAC apps, and apply to a law school or three. If you get fee waivers (as you're likely to do if you're either financially hard up or a high LSAT scorer) you can apply to even more. This creates hordes of 1Ls who know nothing about law school, much less the actual practice of law, and who blow vast sums of money on a near-worthless education.

    If, instead, ALL students had to drop three grand on one of these "mini law school" summer courses, it would keep a lot of kids from casually falling into law school. Plus, those students who find they have no stomach for the material or teaching methodology could get out only having wasted single-digit-thousands of dollars rather than three years and six figures. Finally, it would eliminate the need for a near meaningless yardstick like the LSAT.

    ReplyDelete
  76. So, kind of like a "law school" summer camp?

    ReplyDelete
  77. Is this Villanova?

    ReplyDelete
  78. So, we go from a "rumor" that black students in the CLEO program at UT were given questions and answers ahead of time to exams that were then administered to all students. Then the rumor is presented as fact because some black students in the program personally told you that OTHER students in the program got advance copies of exams and answers (of course they did not get the exams and answers ahead of time). By the way, this is one of the oldest tricks in the book; use black people as cover for sketchy race-based thinking.Finally, we end up with the "fact" that despite receiving the questions and answers ahead of time, those black students still did not have "the necessities" to pass the tests, and flunked out.

    It's not about giving you a grade (desperate argumentative move, that is), it is about trying to get the truth about some really toxic stuff that you are throwing around pretty casually. It makes no sense that law students--Federalist Society and not, black,white,all students, save the ones allegedly receiving exam questions and answers from professors in advance, would tolerate this. Again, I have no problem believing that professors wrote sample exams and model answers for these students. I do not believe they used the same questions for the regular exams they gave to all other students, and the other students did nothing but engage in what you describe as a feeble protest. I also find it incredible that after receiving the exams and answers, all these students still flunked. I suppose anything is possible, and if I am wrong in my suspicion that this is a story that has gotten all mixed up, I am just wrong. But, I don't think so.

    ReplyDelete
  79. I am a new poster to this site, and a tenured full professor at a tier 3 law school. we do not have an AAMPLE program, although I used to teach at a school that had one.

    At my school, we DO think about these issues as a faculty. We regularly talk about ways to ensure that all graduates have the best skills to ensure success in the legal profession. We have routinely decided to ask the University to allow us to take a smaller incoming class to ensure that each student has a reasonable probability of success in law school.

    As a Contracts teacher, I have frequently had "the talk" with students who perform poorly on exams, but whose grades are not low enough to get them academically dismissed. I talk about balancing huge debt against the remote chance of success when you're at the bottom of the class. Time and again, I have faced anger from these students, who almost invariably insist on staying in school.

    I also chair the committee that decides whether academically dismissed students can be readmitted, on probation, to have one more shot at raising their grades to passing levels. That committee agonizes over many stories of personal tragedy and struggle, but almost always refuses to readmit the really weak students.

    It's easy to take pot shots at law professors who admittedly have great jobs. We may have made your life unpleasant while you were in law school. We may have given you grades that you didn't like. But whatever you think of us as a breed, don't think that we don't think about the issues you're discussing every day of our careers. I care about my students and their futures and the future of the legal profession.

    ReplyDelete
  80. 6:41 - I can tell you as fact what happened at my T14 law school in the 80's. A group of students admitted under affirmative action received remedial education, and those education sessions included questions from the prior year to be clear, the prior year's exams and not the upcoming exams). And yet, I did not believe it was unfair to the non-preferred admit students. The sad fact of the matter is that a T14 law school never was and never should be a place for remedial education, and save for a few, most accepted under the program were really far behind in terms of preparedness. I didn't feel compelled to protest, feeble or not. In fact, I learned of these practices because a fellow law review editor hidebound to end affirmative action and frankly an insensitive guy, made a big deal about attending these sessions out of a passionate desire not to be "victim" of reverse discrimination. I chastised him, and not because of his beliefs - he had every right to hold them and advance them - but rather in showing up at their sessions, he was making people who already been persuaded into what I viewed as a no-win situation feel even worse. It wasn't a fair tactic and it was mean. Is this toxic stuff? Maybe. But affirmative action is no different than any other program - its costs, as well as its benefits, must be examined. And those who point out the costs should not automatically be deemed "racists". And the issue of "costs" of the program is all the more important today given enormous increases in tuition and outrageous amount of borrowed money (on awful terms) these students take on.

    A couple of other data points:

    1. I met a senior professor for lunch a few years after graduating and he admitted to me that it was a shame as to just how far the school went in relaxing its admissions standards. Upon looking at bar passage rates, entry into the legal profession, and outcomes 5-6 years out, he regretted how far it went. I am not sure how far back the school scaled its admissions preferences, but my guess is some. It didn't take Richard Sander for us to conclude that there were real problems in granting such significant preferences.

    2. I have talked to the placement director over the years, and while there are always a few success stories, the problems caused by granting such huge preferences. Again, the debts today make this all the worse.

    3. My comments I believe are not reflective of, as you say, sketchy race based thinking. But there are real problems with treating people differently based on race, and it merits discussion.

    4. By the way, I do credit you for pointing out that the notion that exam answers were given in advance is hard to believe. But this does not obviate the fact that these programs have real problems.

    ReplyDelete
  81. There is a huge difference between getting past exams and going over them with professors and getting the exam and answers for a yet to be administered test ahead of time. The latter is cheating, and TDennis accused professors and black students in the CLEO program of doing that. Cheating and then still failing.

    My HYS Law school publishes the exams given each year. My first year professors offered to go over those exams we took as practice. I remember going over my answers to old exams with profs on my own and with my study group. That had nothing to do with remediation.

    What is toxic is saying that law professors gave exams and answers to black students, and other law students had no recourse. The truth is, if you talk about any problem in America long enough, it will eventually come out that "the Negro" is really to blame. The tiny, ever shrinking, number of black students are at the heart of the problems facing the academy and the profession.

    ReplyDelete
  82. 9:45, I very much disagree with your calling those who oppose affirmative action racist, in so many words. I'm a second year law student and I wholeheartedly supported affirmative action until I started at my T-14 school and saw the toxic consequences firsthand. So did I suddenly become racist in the past 2 years?

    Affirmative action allows white liberals to take the easy way out and feel good about themselves while doing none of the hard work required to actually create a just and equitable society. Meanwhile, racial resentment runs high in the school and the distrust between students rises ever higher as admittance to the top law schools gets even more competitive. The minorities tend not to do very well on law school exams, so the firms have to do diversity hiring (trust me, I get emails all the time about "diversity" job fairs). I've had friends in the black law students group tell me they are sick of students in the group refusing to study yet feeling entitled to a clerkship after graduation or a big law job. Again, this is not everybody, but I don't know what else you can expect when the message is sent, "mediocrity is OK because of your skin color."

    Most of the black people at my law school are members of the middle class who had just as many opportunities as I did to get a good LSAT score and GPA. The programs are not helping the poor people that most people envision.

    Do some minorities succeed on their own merits? Of course. But

    ReplyDelete
  83. Oops, I don't know where that last line came from. Ignore that.

    ReplyDelete
  84. I did not say--in any number of words-- that people who oppose affirmative action are racists. I was speaking strictly about the accusation that law professors gave black students exam questions and answers ahead of time, and that there was nothing "non-CLEO" students could do about it. If you do not support CLEO,fine. I have a different view, but I believe the opposing viewpoint is legitimate. What is not legitimate is to say that the program involves activity that it would--could not--involve. If you do not like CLEO, argue the merits. Don't make up stuff, or repeat incendiary rumors as fact as a basis for attack. That's all.

    ReplyDelete
  85. I want to echo some of the earlier comments that affirmative action can actually be a disservice to minorities. My minority ex-gf was admitted to a Tier 1 state law school with a 144 LSAT, believe it or not.* She was rejected from(or withdrew her app from) every other school she applied, included some bottom of the barrel Tier 4 schools.

    Perhaps not surprisingly, she has done terribly in law school. I don't her official standing, but I can estimate based on her GPA that she's probably in the bottom 1-3% of her class.

    Unfortunately, she's probably going to graduate with about 100k in debt. And I estimate that her chances of passing the bar are low as well. It's a shame that the state school didn't reject her like the Tier 4 schools did. It would have been disappointing but survivable. Instead, she's f*cked.

    *That's an interesting story of its own. She was rejected everywhere in her first go-round of applications. In her second try(when I was a 1L), I advised her to make her admission essay as liberal heart string pulling as possible. We got 4 great professor recommendations from her undergrad. We got her SAT and ACT score reports(which were low) and attached them to her application, to "prove" that standardized tests didn't predict her abilities well, since she had good undergrad grades(I heard about this strategy on TLS). So, truth be told, it was a nice application packet, but she still beat the odds considerably given that only 1% of people with her LSAT were admitted that year. I posted her info on Law School Numbers, and a bunch of people accused me of lying lol.

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