Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Spineless, Gutless ABA

This organization is the epitome of spinelessness. According to its website, the ABA has 400,000 members, a large annual budget and about 1,000 employees. Yes, it is comprised of four hundred thousand lawyers. Yet, this “professional organization” is afraid to go to court!

We see the ABA blame US News & World Report and its grad school rankings for the high rate of law school tuition. That's right, debt-soaked law grads. According to the ABA, your large debt load is due to the actions of USN&WR!! How convenient – blame this mess on a magazine. The 400,000 member strong association that is charged with accrediting law schools is – by its own unsupported assertion - not to blame. A magazine has caused the high rate of tuition. (Apparently, the GAO agrees with the ABA’s version of events/fairy tale.)

Now, we see that the current president of this association is on the attack:

According to Lamm, there are not too many law schools in the United States. (Will she also inform us that obesity is not a problem in this country?) She jumps on Mark Greenbaum for his piece in the Los Angeles Times, entitled “No More Room at the Bench,” but she then acknowledges that there are 200 ABA-accredited law schools, in her letter. Good thing she at least did that – since the ABA’s website confirms this reality.

Lamm then goes on to state that the ABA cannot stop accrediting more law schools, because of the consent decree between the ABA and the DOJ. The ABA is concerned with a potential antitrust suit. Evidently, the ADA and the AMA have figured out something that the ABA has not – these organizations have been able to "get away with" keeping the number of schools low and the number of seats down for decades.

But the ABA – with an immense annual budget and an army of lawyers at its disposal – DOES NOT have the balls to go to court and make the case that, as a professional association, it has a duty to its members (and to the public) to protect their interests and investment! That it has a duty and obligation to make sure that its practitioners are skilled and competent, upon graduation. That it has the moral and professional responsibility to ensure that its students will be practitioners – if they so desire. That it is charged with ensuring that its members will be able to practice their trade. As such, the ABA has the duty and right to reasonably limit the number of schools, so that there is not a plethora of unemployed lawyers and JDs working as taxi drivers.

Also, relying on the consent decree is a specious argument. You see, this agreement expired – by its own terms – on June 25, 2006. The two parties have voluntarily agreed to abide by the terms, even after the agreement expired. Plus, the reason the DOJ even filed suit against the ABA, is because the ABA was requiring schools to pay their law professors a certain salary. Maybe you should research this info, Carolyn.

As you can see, the ABA is a paper tiger. It can talk about “Defending Liberty, Pursuing Justice” all it wants. It can require that its member schools teach courses on Professional Responsibility and Ethics. It can hold forums and panel discussions on “innovations in the law.” It can even tout its large membership to the outside world. But when push comes to shove, this industry association WILL fold.

It seeks to cast blame, for its problems, on others weaker than itself, i.e. magazine features. (As an aside, if the ABA is so concerned with the omnipotent USN&WR, couldn’t the ABA simply refuse to participate in the annual law school rankings, put out by the magazine? The ADA refuses to allow this magazine to rate/rank its 58 member schools. Let me guess, Carolyn: the magazine is forcing you to allow them to rank law schools. Is that it?)

The legal industry could not possibly be in shambles due to anything the ABA has done – or failed to do. The over-saturation of the U.S. legal market couldn’t have anything to with ABA “Ethics” Opinion 08-451, could it? Or by the fact that the ABA had approved too many law schools. Or that ABA-accredited law schools continue to pump out around 45K JDs every year, when there are, in fact, nowhere near this amount of available openings for attorney positions.

In the last analysis, the ABA is pathetic. These physiological marvels are somehow able to move around and “Defend Liberty” without a backbone!


  1. You are planning to attack the ABA some more? Sheesh! Give it up already. Nothing will change in this area. Accept it and move on. The same for your whiny sister bloggers.

  2. I smell a troll in here...
    I hope you end up homeless too!

  3. Anonymous at 11:26, I have a better suggestion: give it up already and stop reading blogs whose message you, for some inexplicable reason, disagree with.

  4. To Anonymous at 11:26,

    What exactly did I get wrong in this entry? Please let me know. Or better yet, tell me why the ABA is correct about the state of legal education and the law industry. We can discuss this in-depth, if you want.

  5. There's nothing to explain to you or your whiny sisters. People will continue to apply to ls in droves. Wow, you guys are having such an impact. I'm syre the ABA is crapping its pants!

  6. How much is the ABA paying you to post here, amls?

  7. TTT law school, even worse MBA program, tons of unemployed grads. So what do you need? A new medical school!

    Look into it?

  8. It is interesting that you think that magazine features are weaker than the ABA. I actually agree with that line of thinking. Though, I must say I'm a little annoyed whenever I see on your sister blog (poorlytrainedchimp?) harping about how much power print media has and how they are all under the control of law schools just to get advertising dollars. I mean, maybe to a small extent, but I always thought that line of argument was way too much of an exagerration.

    As for the repeat mentions of dentists:
    1. As I stated before, I don't think the rankings of law schools are necessarily a minus. In fact, I think they are a good guide as to which schools need to be shut down. While it is interesting that dental schools aren't ranked, medical schools are ranked and it doesn't seem to diminish the job prospects of medical doctors.
    2. I'm actually beginning to think that dentists are in a more competitive environment than one might think. I was recently in NYC over the holidays, and there are people standing out in the streets handing out flyers for dentists. One even had it in Spanish with "Dentista." (Although I am not Hispanic, I am sometimes mistaken for someone who is.) In addition, I have actually gotten letters in the mail from dentists to "welcome me to the neighborhood" after I had moved about a year ago. I didn't think much of it back then, but I guess that's a possible sign of competition. I'm sure it's still not as oversaturated as law, but there are inklings.

    The ABA doesn't exist to protect law grads. Never has. Never will.

  9. Drake Mallard,

    The ABA clearly has more power than USN&WR. I don't speak for poorlytrainedchimp. For the ABA to blame high tuition and shady tactics, i.e. misleading employment and starting salary info, on a magazine is beyond childish.

    I agree that, in theory, the rankings provide some measure of seeing which schools should be shut down. However, the ABA keeps approving more for-profit, fifth-rate law schools. It is NOT in the business of closing schools down. (They might face an antitrust suit, if they did that - at least according to the terrified "leaders" of the ABA.)

    I am glad to see that MDs have now gotten involved in exposing the higher education racket. MD Underground is a good development. Frankly, I am surprised it took this long for such a forum.

    I have also seen dentists and orthodontists perform dental work for dirt cheap prices, in an attempt to drum up business. It is competitive out there. At least medical schools and dental programs teach their students practical skills; they require extensive clinical experience; and they do not flood the market with way too many graduates.

  10. I read Greenbaum and one thing he doesn't mention is that most of the bottom-tier law schools and law correspondence schools aren't accredited by the ABA in the first place. The ABA may be a sort of gatekeeper, but but imagine the job market for these other law schools, some of which are just as expensive as ABA-accredited law schools.

    But one cannot possibly read Lamm's rebuttal to Greenbaum without cringing at how disingenuous and shifty she is being here. There is even something eerie about it.

    Law schools are special in that they are essentially institutions attached to a major sector of the government--its judicial branch. For example, if you try to sue your law school for giving you a bad education, you'll find that the 11th Amendment (immunity) kicks in. Joining the bar of your state is becoming an officer of the court.

    That makes Lamm's attitude that much more spooky. Courts have the power to administer the lethal injection, keep someone in prison, or make them pay fines. Law school opens the doors to how ass-stupid some of the legal theories are to justify the deeds and power of courts, as well as how ineptly some high-ranking justices implement these theories. The ABA has a million reasons to regulate these law schools, but making sure JDs get jobs is way down there in the priorities.

    If Lamm wanted to really show the true face of the ABA, she'd make sure law schools stopped idolizing jurists like Oliver Wendell Holmes or Clarence Darrow. A more fitting jurist to Lamm's style of getting things done would be Pontius Pilate.

  11. Ok this is motivating me to get back into the groove this year.

    Adding this.

  12. The proper enemy here (and this goes to the root purpose of this blog, not just this article) is the government, not the ABA. The ABA is responding to a market demand, which is artifically created by the silly requirement that someone who wants to practice law and become a member of the bar attend three years of law school, from an ABA-accredited institution. Jefferson, Adams, and Lincoln practice law quite well before this paternalistic requirement came into effect. Demand for ABA-accredited law schools rises as a result of this.

    Second, blame the federal government for subsidizing student loans, both by offering an interest rate lower than the market rate, and by subsidizing interest payments for some loans while the borrower is in school. This makes law school more affordable, thus more accessible, which increases the price. Same thing happens at the undergraduate level, as well. It is criminal.


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