Thursday, February 28, 2013

Law Professor Shuts Down Blog Criticizing Law Schools for Scamming Students

Paul Campos, law professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, on Wednesday announced he is ending his blog, Inside the Law School Scam.  The blog took a harsh look at the value of a law school education and criticized the manner in which law schools lure naive young men and women into going to law school only to leave school three years later with enormous debt and few, if any, employment prospects.
Prof. Paul Campos

As Prof. Campos puts it:
I started [this blog] because I had something to say, and this seemed a good way of saying it. For a few days I wrote anonymously – something I had never done before – more as a stylistic experiment than anything else. But naturally people in legal academia instantly became more concerned with Who Was Saying These Outrageous Things than in whether those things might actually be true. So I dropped the mask -- which ensured that a few of those people would busy themselves henceforth with irrelevant personal attacks, rather than substantive responses.

19 months and 499 posts later, it turns out that the core message of this blog – that legal academia is operating on the basis of an unsustainable economic model, which requires most law students to borrow more money to get law degrees than it makes sense for them to borrow, given their career prospects, and that for many years law schools worked hard, wittingly or unwittingly, to hide this increasingly inconvenient truth from both themselves and their potential matriculants – has evolved from a horrible heresy to something close to conventional wisdom.

That enrolling in law school has become a very dangerous proposition for most people who consider enrolling in one is now, if not a truth universally acknowledged, something that legal academia can no longer hide, either from ourselves, or – far more important – from anyone who doesn’t go out of his or her way to avoid contact with the relevant information.
Indeed Prof. Campos is spot on right.   Several years ago, I raised the point that law schools were lying about their published employment numbers in order to fraudulently entice students to go to school.  The saturated legal job market, including the low employment and salaries (should a new attorney be so lucky to get a salaried many jobs are commission only) has only gotten worse since then.  I, like Prof. Campos, felt like I was a lone wolf crying in the woods when I was trying to warn people about going to law school.  Now, less than a decade later, I feel vindicated.  Indeed what Prof. Campos now called "conventional wisdom" has led to a dramatic decline in the applicants to law school, although not surprisingly the greedy law schools continue to crank out the same level of graduates.
Prof. Campos did yeoman's work in publishing the blog and, in the process, taking on the legal academia.  He hints at the price he paid for doing so:
I’ve never written anything about the professional and personal price I ended up paying for starting to investigate, more than a year before I began this blog, the structure of contemporary American legal education. Perhaps I’ll tell that story someday. For now I’ll merely note that if people enjoying the extraordinary protections afforded by tenure aren’t willing to confront institutional corruption, then academic tenure is an indefensible privilege.

People have asked me how I can continue to be on a law faculty, given my views. This question – when it isn’t simply a hostile attempt to derail conversation – is based on a misunderstanding. I very much believe in the potential value of higher education. And I believe that legal education can and must be reformed radically. (On one level the most important short-term reforms couldn’t be simpler: the cost of law school attendance must be reduced drastically, and the number of people graduating from law school must be decreased by a significant amount. In the longer term, the American legal system will need to confront whether it is either pedagogically justifiable or financially viable to continue to require the basic law degree to be acquired through postgraduate education).

In some very concrete, practical ways, reform is much easier to achieve from the inside. I’m proud of the fact that, as of this coming fall, my law school is on track to have cut tuition in real dollar terms over the past two years – something which perhaps no other ABA law school will be able to claim. I’m proud that CU Law School, which two years ago was publicizing highly inaccurate employment information, is now one of the most transparent schools in the country on this score. I don’t happen to believe that I would be more effective working for reform as an ex-law professor. Still, even if I did believe this, I’m well aware I wouldn’t have the moral courage to quit. That makes my belief suspiciously convenient -- but it doesn’t make it false.
In any case, reform driven by forces both outside and inside the law school establishment is essential, and it’s beginning to happen.
I leave with a comment on his blog from a grateful reader who took heed of Prof. Campos' warnings:
I would like to thank you for writing this blog. This time last year I was planning on applying to law school thinking that being a lawyer was a sure way to a stable and lucrative career. After suffering 5 months of LSAT prep, taking the test this past October and December and sending out applications, I discovered this blog just as it was about time to seek out how to finance my potential law school career. The statistics you provided and the posts by recent graduates and unemployed attorneys were alarming. Needless to say, I have since changed my mind on attending law school seeing that it is a losing proposition. I would like to thank you for giving me information that helped me avoid a $175,000 mistake.
Yes, thank you Prof. Campos for your courage to stand up to your fellow members of the legal academia and tell the truth to young men and women considering a career in the law.


Concerned Tax Payer said...

Here's another Scam by attorney's.
I received a copy of this and decided to post it:

12/13/12 initial court hearing for unpaid medical bill $397.00. Did not know about the bill I had signed letter from a different Attorney (not Derek Johnson) that the hospital inadvertently did not inform him or client about the bill at that time. The hospital also admitted to the mistake. I met Johnson in a room outside the court room. I informed Johnson that my son was being seen at Riley Hospital and was scheduled to see an Oncologist and I just didn't have any money. Told him I could pay the bill that was all when I got my tax check in Feb. Johnson gave me a paper and said just sign this. I asked the Attorney if he would dismiss the Judgment if I signed the paper. He asked me if I could pay by 2/9/13 $870. I said I would try as this is about the time I would get my tax check in Feb. Again, I asked him if he would dismiss the Judgment he said, "Yeah whatever, just sign the paper." I signed the paper but asked the Attorney to put it in writing that he would dismiss the judgment if I paid by 2/9/13. He refused. I said, "It's my right to get any deal in writing and get a copy of it." He refused again. I said, "I want to see the Judge because you're not doing something honest here." He stormed out and went into the court room. I told the Judge about the deal he tried to make but the Judge wouldn't listen. I told the Judge about my son and that I didn't have the money except to pay the bill. I begged them both. Derek Johnson LIED to the Judge and said Johnson said he didn't offer any deal or say he would dismiss anything. Then Derek Johnson said something to the Judge like "evidentiary/evidence hearing." I said to the Judge and Derek Johnson I was trying to be honest that i owed the bill and Mr. Johnson was not. I said in open court I would pay once I got my tax ck Feb. Judge agreed. On 1/9/13, Derek Johnson filed for non-payment. Only 11 business days after the Judge gave me the Judgment and not enough time to get a tax check. He CHARGED me more fees. Total $999.

Nicolas Martin said...

Eliminate state control of legal practice, and let the free market determine how many lawyers can survive and what they should earn.