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Tax Syphons, Law School Edition

Scummy for-profit universities are by now a notorious national scandal; Paul Campos reminds us that that you can get the same thing in a law school:

[S]chools accredited by the American Bar Association admit large numbers of severely underqualified students; these students in turn take out hundreds of millions of dollars in loans annually, much of which they will never be able to repay. Eventually, federal taxpayers will be stuck with the tab, even as the schools themselves continue to reap enormous profits.

It’s the very same scheme as the college scheme we’ve followed on this blog for years.

Campos features an amazing story that could have come out of North Korea (or, even worse, Chicago State University). The worse a university (the worse a country), the more repressive it is, particularly about threats to its propaganda machine. A candidate for dean at arguably America’s worst law school (one of the for-profits) not long ago tried to give a truth-telling presentation to its faculty. As the candidate spoke about the school’s astonishingly, cynically, low admissions standards, the school’s president stood up and told him to stop immediately, to leave the room, and if he didn’t leave, the president would call security.

The life of mind’s a beautiful thing, ain’t it? America can be proud of its ABA approved law schools and their commitment to the robust exchange of ideas…

I mean, to be sure, if fellow travelers, fair weather friends, and enemies of the state happen to appear among us, it is not only our right but our duty to rise up as one and eliminate them from our midst…

Low-ranking not for profit law schools, Campos points out, are pretty much just as brazen in their sordid profit-taking.

A glance at New England Law’s tax forms suggests who may have benefited most from this trajectory: John F. O’Brien, the school’s dean for the past 26 years, whom the school paid more than $873,000 in its 2012 fiscal year, the most recent yet disclosed. This is among the largest salaries of any law-school dean in the country. (By comparison, the dean at the University of Michigan Law School, a perennial top-10 institution, was reported to make less than half as much, $420,000, in 2013.)… Richard A. Matasar, a former dean of New York Law School, was, until his resignation in 2011, quoted regularly in the national press about the need to reform the structure of legal education, even as he collected more than half a million dollars a year from a school with employment statistics nearly as poor as those of [for-profit law schools].

Margaret Soltan, August 15, 2014 6:29AM
Posted in: just plain gross

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2 Responses to “Tax Syphons, Law School Edition”

  1. MattF Says:

    Campos posts regularly at the ‘Lawyers, Guns & Money’ blog:


  2. Jack/OH Says:

    Campos is dead on. “Behind that support [of higher education] seems to lurk an inchoate faith–one that is absurd when articulated clearly, which is why it almost never is–that higher education will eventually make everyone middle-class.”

    University insiders, such as UD and many others, are going to somehow have take the lead in, for want of a better term, “collegiate housecleaning”. Otherwise you’ll end up with the political crud dictating solutions with no understanding of the problem. Baby/bath water thing.

    Here’s one example of an influential local civic leader where I live offering gratuitous advice on university research to local newspaper readers: “Research should be rewarded . . . professors once they’re tenured should be sure to be held accountable for a . . . brisk pace of research . . . .” Brisk pace? Like what? Einstein when he was a patent examiner? Or, Einstein slogging away on a Bamberger’s sinecure at the IAS? I’m not a prof, but I’ve done work on a manuscript (at my own expense), and there are times you just don’t know where you’re headed. I know the civic leader by reputation, and I’m fairly confident he believes academic research can be squeezed into a double-entry model of bookkeeping.

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