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Once again, troubled Thomas Jefferson School of Law was last in bar-passage rates in 2013 among state American Bar Association-approved law schools. Only 50.3 percent of Jefferson's first-time test-takers passed — down from 52.33 percent in 2012, when the school was also in last place.

University of San Diego had a 74.6 percent passage rate and California Western 68.5 percent.

Tops in the state was Stanford, at 91 percent. Of out-of-state schools, Harvard topped the list at 95.9 percent. On the bottom rung nationally was Florida Coastal at 10 percent.

In December, Standard & Poor's gave Jefferson bonds a junk-bond rating mostly because of its construction of a new facility in 2011. In December, there were massive pay and staff cuts. The new dean admitted past sins in a memo to faculty and staff.

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Visduh Jan. 31, 2014 @ 8:38 a.m.

Well, some school has to be at the bottom of such a ranking, doesn't it? The real shortcoming here is that while it delivers so poorly, TJ has higher tuition rates than the top performers. If it were running a shoe-string operation and keeping its program as affordable as possible, some of this would be understandable and expected. But in this era of far too many law school grads being produced, a school like that one has no real reason to exist, or continue to exist, save for keeping some people employed. The debt burdens that many of its graduates carry will be with them for almost the rest of their lives, with little hope of paying them off. To me, that's unconscionable.


Don Bauder Jan. 31, 2014 @ 11:13 a.m.

Visduh: Perceptive observations, as usual. In many ways, the collapse of the legal fraternity is similar to the collapse of the metro daily newspaper business. Both collapses came incredibly rapidly.

In each case, some insiders were afraid of collapses, but didn't expect them to come so rapidly. I know I felt metro daily newspapers were in for a decline, but I didn't know it would come so abruptly and so steeply. The same is true of the law, I believe.

Jefferson built that expensive building. Those who authorized the expenditure must have had no idea of what was coming. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh Jan. 31, 2014 @ 8:20 p.m.

Don, this problem of too many lawyers isn't that parallel to the breakdown of newspapers. It isn't due to declining business as much as too many sellers. A few years ago, when my son graduated law school, he was part of a class of 400. A family friend's daughter graduated from med school that year, part of a class of 50. There are many more law schools than med schools in the state, and it would seem that the law schools are producing ten or more times as many grads as the med schools. A historical perspective means that we either have a shortage of MD's or a surfeit of JD's.

Lawyers manage to generate plenty of work for themselves, and every time one is hired, another one has to be hired on the other side to oppose the first one. No, legal work isn't going the way of newspapers: we haven't altered the tax code in about 60 years and it just gets more complex, the criminal justice system keeps soaking up more effort and dollars every year, and then there are the "causes" that generate many lawsuits. The problem in law isn't too little work; it is too many who can do the work.

The law of supply and demand is an iron law, and cannot be repealed. The answer to an excess of law school grads is to limit the number of them. Bring supply and demand back closer to a balance, and this issue will fade away.


Don Bauder Feb. 1, 2014 @ 10:43 a.m.

Visduh: Probably the AMA (American Medical Association) is working more assiduously at holding down the number of med graduates than the ABA (American Bar Association) is at holding down the number of law grads. Milton Friedman, noting that the number of doctors per 100,000 population kept falling (it has been rising the last couple of years), used to say the AMA was the strongest trade union in the country.

Yes, there are many more specialties for lawyers. But the same is true of doctors. GPs are struggling. Best, Don Bauder


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