Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Bay State's New Public Toilet

Years ago, a famous Boston restaurant got some unwanted publicity for its improper "waste management". Apparently, the restaurant was expelling the waste from its bathrooms into the harbor. I guess that's permissible, but what wasn't quite as forgivable was that the water for the lobster tank was being pumped backed in from the same area in which the waste was being deposited.

That's pretty disgusting, but I'd contend that this incident is still less repugnant than the Commonwealth's most recent (albeit more metaphorical) toilet related story. It seems that the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees voted to saddle the state's taxpayers with the burden of supporting one of Massachusetts' 90 law schools. The Board voted to acquire the Southern New England School of Law.

SNESL is one of two unaccredited schools of law (think of it as a TTTTT). Along with the Massachusetts School of Law, these two institutions remain ABA unaccredited* but allow students to sit for MA bar. It presently has one of the worst bar passage rates in the Commonwealth, which is often times nicknamed Passachusetts for it's remarkably high bar passage rate (90% among first time takers this July). Presumably, UMass will do what it takes (and apparently it doesn't take much) to received ABA accreditation.

This will add another accredited school to a market that is already flooded. The difference is that the taxpayers will be forced to subsidize this particular diploma mill. Of course, proponents of this absurd acquisition claim that UMass lawyers will do the jobs other lawyers won't do, namely public interest work.

Can law school apologists and administrators ever stop lying?

For one thing, even with the subsidized tuition, it will still cost about $20,000 a year to attend the new law school. Over three years, that's $60k just for tuition. Given how expensive the Boston area is (though SNESL is outside of the city), it could easily still cost someone in excess of $100,000 to attend UMass Law. That's not exactly a debt load that makes it easy to pursue a non-profit career.

For another thing, public interest law isn't exactly a guaranteed job for anyone with a heart of gold. It can be just as hard to find a paid public interest position as it to find a good firm position. Do they honestly believe that Suffolk and New England School of Law grads (or Northeastern on up) are awash in big firm offers that they feel compelled to take either out of greed or necessity to pay off their private school debt?

Graduates from those schools (if they can find legal jobs at all) end up chasing ambulances and collecting debts for under $50k a year not because they are unable or unwilling to work for public interest causes, it's because that's all there is out there. UMass grads will find that out too - of course, they'll be chasing ambulances and filing frivolous law suit, in part, courtesy of the Massachusetts taxpayer.

* Isn't that sad? The ABA would probably accredit a taco stand if it claimed it had a law library. The Florida Coastal school of law is even ABA approved, and it's application for admission is less complex than most credit card applications.


  1. Why in the hell does the ABA allow schools 20 years to gain full accreditation? By that point, the school is obviously a diploma mill. Contract the number of schools - starting with these failed institutions!!

    And WHY do state bars permit those graduates to sit for their respective bar exams?

    Oh, yeah. I almost forgot. It is because law school is big business, and it doesn't matter if legions of law students are bankrupted (as long as deans, law profs, loan repayment counselors, banksters, and school administrators keep raking in the dough!!

  2. I covered this in my blog when it was still in the discussion phase... and at the time, the Treasurer of Mass... God Bless him... was very against the idea. I don't know how he lost out. Not to mention the fact that this "public" university will be super expensive. Mass doesn't need a law school in that corner of the state. The proponents of school were taking pity on the poor law students that commute to Boston for school. Why commute when they could have a public overpriced option right around the corner??? FUCK the capitalist monster, law schools die!


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