February 27, 2013
Paul Campos Ends Inside the Law School Scam Blog
Paul Campos (Colorado), Goodbye Is Too Good a Word:
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.
ITLSS has played a role in what can be without exaggeration called a fundamental shift in the cultural conversation. How big of a role it’s not for me to judge. Within legal academia, the pioneering work of Bill Henderson on the economics of legal education, and Brian Tamanaha’s writing and research culminating in his book Failing Law Schools, were both critical contributions to that shift. Others inside law schools – Jim Chen, Deborah Rhode, Herwig Schlunk, Akhil Amar, Ian Ayers, Paul Caron, Ben Trachtenberg, Orin Kerr, and Jeffery Harrison to name a few – have moved the conversation forward in various ways. And of course Deborah Merritt has lent her name and talents to this blog for nearly a year now as a co-author, greatly enhancing both its intellectual and stylistic range.
Outside the legal academy, a diverse group of voices, ranging from the scam blogs that had such a strong effect on at least Tamanaha and me, to Above the Law and JD Underground, to the tireless unpaid labor of Kyle McEntee, Patrick Lynch, and Derek Tokaz, aka Law School Transparency, found their way into the pages of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and onto the CBS Evening News. A movement that begun on the margins of the legal world, through the work of people like Loyola 2L, and Scott Bullock of Big Debt/Small Law, and Nando of Third Tier Reality, has gone mainstream.
This blog is now the length of about four typical academic books. Anyone who wants to browse through it will find posts touching on just about every topic related to legal education and the legal profession regarding which I have something to say. Readers looking for a more concise statement can buy or borrow a copy of my book Don’t Go to Law School (Unless), either in paperback or e-book form.
All of which is to say that I’ve said what I have to say, at least in this format. I’ll continue to write on this topic, both in academic venues, in the popular media, and even from time to time in blog form, at Lawyers, Guns and Money. But the time has come to move on from here. ... I would wish everyone good luck but I won’t. It sounds terrible when you think about it.
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This comes as a surprise considering the dramatic collapse of (or changes within) law schools around the nation is really just set to begin. Campos was ahead of his time, and did a great service for many prospective students. It was remarkable to read the comments of many individuals who credited him with literally saving their lives by helping them choose not to go to law school. I wonder how many academics, in any discipline, can lay claim to that feat.
If I had a caveat with Campos, it was only in the title of his blog. Although many law schools can aptly be called a "scam," he would have gotten further with a less sensationalist mantra. In addition, there is nothing wrong with the instruction occurring at many of these schools. The real problem is with the cost as compared with previous eras, and the consequent debt burden incurred by the students.
Financially, law school and many other graduate schools (maybe even undergraduate), have become akin to a plague. A very serious, and very read societal problem that people will only effectively deal with when they start viewing these institutions with the highest level of skepticism.
Taxprof - thanks to you as well for being willing to post content of this subject. Perhaps you will help fill the gap with your own thoughts on the issue from time to time.
Posted by: JM | Feb 27, 2013 2:48:17 PM
Posted by: Lt. Dangle | Feb 27, 2013 3:21:02 PM
When all is said and done, people will remember Campos and his crew as shrill, media seeking, unprofessional--and completely wrong about the fundamentals.
The only question will be whether they were dishonest, or simply incompetent.
They may have convinced a few gullible journalists. They'll never convince trained empiricists.
Posted by: Anon | Feb 27, 2013 5:01:29 PM
"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 really see that this statement can be supported. The CU Law School's website has all the same kind of positive statements about the legal job market for its grads Campos routinely criticizes when other schools do it: http://www.colorado.edu/law/careers/graduates
"With respect to current students, we are pleased to report that over 90% of students in the 2013 and 2014 classes have substantive employment in the summer of 2012."
"Of the 176 graduates in the Colorado Law class of 2011, 160 (91 percent) reported employment nine months after graduation."
Posted by: HighHo | Feb 27, 2013 5:40:20 PM
The best news I've had all day!
Posted by: anon | Feb 27, 2013 7:27:55 PM
Do you hear that sound? It's hundreds of sane, dedicated law profs cheering the demise of this odious blog.
Posted by: anon | Feb 28, 2013 8:17:51 AM
I suspect -- perhaps the "trained empiricists" among you can study this -- that Campos also did a tremendous service to practicing lawyers. (I'm not referring to the relatively small percentage that work in mega firms, but the much larger percentage that work in small partnerships or as solo practitioners.) If current applicant trends continue, over time we won't have such a glut of lawyers competing for so few paying clients. I suspect that Campos hurt no one but the law profs. With today's tuition rates and limited "return on investment," very few prospective students will be worse off if they skip law school. And the taxpayers will be better off with fewer student loan defaults.
Posted by: Michael Cicchini | Feb 28, 2013 11:59:54 AM
Sounded more like sighs of relief from hundreds of smug, vacuous law profs to me, to be honest.
Posted by: Lois Turner | Mar 1, 2013 6:32:08 PM
"When all is said and done, people will remember Campos and his crew as shrill, media seeking, unprofessional--and completely wrong about the fundamentals."
If by "people" you mean "law professors who desperately hoped that Campos would stop blogging," then yeah, I couldn't agree more. I just don't think they'll be remembering him correctly regarding "the fundamentals."
Posted by: Anonymous | Mar 2, 2013 2:33:31 AM
I think by "people" was meant rational adults, not Internet trolls.
Posted by: Brian | Mar 2, 2013 4:49:25 PM
Professor Campos was one of the few honest (brutally honest) insiders to tell the emperor that he's naked. The academics have about zero credibility with the practicing bar, which is unfortunate as a small percentage of academic research is quite good.
None of the current model of law schools makes economic sense, mind you, as the program is taught be individuals who do not know how to "think like lawyers" in a practical sense. As the practice of law is a practical, hands on discipline, there are limits to the current model. That's not totally the fault of current profs, but the problem is one of cost/benefit. There is a benefit to law school, much legal research, and many legal classes. But it is vastly overpriced.
Campos saw all of this and opened the eyes of would-be marks (er,I mean students).
Posted by: objective reader | Mar 3, 2013 4:15:31 PM
And Brian - given your behaviour over the weekend, aside from being an internet troll, I don't think anyone out there believe that you're a rational adult. Far from it.
Posted by: anon | Mar 5, 2013 1:05:18 AM