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Trending: Crappy Law Schools and Crappier Lawyers

Vivia Chen

May 15, 2018


I usually wait until the end of the year to make predictions about the legal profession. Though it’s only May, I already see some ominous signs. Not to be alarmist but here are some recent developments that portend the profession is going to hell.

The ABA is opening the floodgates. Yes, even your dog can apply to law school—and get in! It’s official, the American Bar Association is poised to allow law schools to use GREs in lieu of the LSAT. The change “will pave the way for schools nationwide to more easily use the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and other tests,” reports Law.com’s Leigh Jones. (Query: What “other” tests—the ones for competitive kindergartens?)

Dropping the LSATs is one of my pet peeves. I mean, why does the legal profession want to make it easier for dilettantes and die-hard English-major types like me to become lawyers when most of us would probably be better off going to culinary institutes, interior design programs or fly-fishing schools? How many more disenchanted, ill-cast lawyers does the profession need?

As I’ve often said, the profession should set up more barriers and tests to gain entry to law schools, not fewer. And why do away with something like the LSAT that tests for logical thinking and critical analysis—the stuff that actually gives you a flavor of what law school entails?

Not to be cynical (who, moi?), but the reason is obvious: Law schools are worried that they won’t have enough warm bodies to fill their seats so they want to make the application easy, breezy and spontaneous. Just what society needs: More people diving heedlessly into the legal profession.

Speaking of warm bodies: More bottom-feeding law schools on the horizon. How fortuitous: Now that law schools will be accepting GREs and homemade crafts in considering applicants for admission, isn’t it great that the education department is now dismantling investigations into for-profit educational institutions?

The New York Times reports that under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, members of a special investigative team, looking into abuses by for-profit institutions, have been “marginalized, reassigned or instructed to focus on other matters.” Though the Times article focused on for-profit colleges, for-profit law schools have been accused of similar abuses, including deceptive recruitment practices and job placement records. (You might recall that students from Charlotte Law School were left holding the bag after the school closed.)

DeVos will likely keep a loose leash on for-profit law schools (or whatever schools) too—which means more could pop up in the future. With little or zero oversight and more flexible admissions criteria, what a marvelous time for for-profit law schools?

Maybe we should all invest in them. If you can’t fight them, profit from them!

Speaking of crappy law schools: Cooley Law School alum Michael Cohen makes more money than you do! To all you Am Law 100/200 lawyers out there who think going to top law schools and slaving away at some big-name firm makes you special, here’s the reality check: Michael Cohen didn’t bother with any of that stuff, and he’s cleaning your clock.

If nothing else, Cohen stands for the proposition that going to a bottom-scraping law school doesn’t mean you won’t be rich and fabulously fabulous.

Just a quick refresher: Cohen went to notorious Cooley, which accepts about 85 percent of its applicants (is 85 percent also the unemployment rate of its grads?). You know the rest: consigliere extraordinaire/pimp to Donald Trump.

But just as we were feeling sorry for Cohen for not getting a job with the Trump administration and digging into his own pocket to pay off Stormy Daniels, we learned that he quietly made over $4 million by selling himself off as decoder of all things Trumpian. And those buying his product weren’t country-bumpkins but big companies like AT&T ($600,000) and Novartis ($1.2 million). And we won’t even go into the deal he got with Squire Patton Boggs (another $500,000).

So there you go, you smug Big Law types. Not only does he make a few million more than most of you, Cohen probably didn’t have to sweat as hard or master some boring, esoteric area of law. He just swoops right in on those clients of your dreams and leaves you in the dust.

So who’s the sucker?



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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: [email protected]

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