NCCU and the ABA – A Clash of Wills

OH HAPPY DAY!

So you guys may be familiar with my longstanding opinion that the ABA is something we could do without.  It has, for generations now, served as a governing body without a profession to govern, choosing to suggest things and come up with resolutions regarding the practice of law that are entirely non-binding on attorneys. In short, the ABA is the government-that-never-was, dictating the standards and admissions of exactly 0 attorneys and offering nothing more than a series of possible discounts in the form of malpractice insurance and rental car agreements for the attorney who thinks it may mean something, someday.  But, unfortunately, this lack of say has not extended to the law schools that educate the attorneys of our fair nation, and the ABA, as the accrediting body for these august institutions of assholery, has long maintained a stranglehold on the profession by governing where someone seeking to learn how big of a mistake lawyering is can go.

And even then, even with that one fucking job they actually had, the ABA managed to fall asleep at the switch and allow law students to get bent over the barrel and dry-fucked for the better part of over a decade now.  With student loans being handed out like candy to these institutions and accreditations seemingly falling from the heavens for anyone who felt the need to open a law school, there was a period in the history of this country where printing one-half of a Torts outline on a placemat had a very real possibility of getting your local diner ABA accreditation.  As a result, law schools were churning out so many J.D.’s that there was a very real chance the person serving you the pancakes at Bob’s House of Flapjacks and Law was, seriously, a graduate of an ABA accredited law school.

Yes folks, the ABA allowed our profession to sink to a point where it put profits over protecting the unwashed, ignorant masses that had no business in a law school in the first place from the predatory practices of profitable education.  Imagine that, fucking lawyers caring more about money than the chance for people to practice in a field they spent hundred of thousands of dollars to enter. That should shock you.  Just shocking.

But it seems like the happy days of bilking bastards out of their non-dischargeable student loan dollars are coming to an end, as the ABA has continued the fine tradition ist started when it shut Charlotte School of Law right the fuck down last year. The ABA, a slumbering beast, has awakened, taken a look around at the hell-strewn legal landscape it has helped to create, and promptly shouted “Oh hell no!” with a triple snap before girding its loins and running into battle with warning letter after warning letter to the multiple schools.  And among the latest school to feel the Eye of Chicago turn upon it and send forth the Orcs of Compliance is…North Carolina Central University School of Law. 

Seriously.  What the fuck is it with North Carolina? Like, are the law schools there just a front for some shady money-laundering business ran by the mob? Cause it seems like the ABA has developed a real hard-on for shutting down the legal learning centers of the Tar Heel State.

This one comes on the heels of a letter sent to the school on January 4, 2018 in which the ABA accused the school of not being in compliance with the requirements of ABA accreditation standard 501(b).  As you may remember from the (now fucking multiple) times we’ve discussed the wholly stupid methods of how legal education is managed and accredited by the Council of Holy Overseers located in the ABA’s Chicago Headquarters (currently making Chicago a strong competitor to take the “Mistake on the Lake” title away from Cleveland…and let’s remember Cleveland once set a fucking river on fire, so that’s saying something), Standard 501(b) reads as follows:

A law school shall only admit applicants who appear capable of satisfactorily completing its program of legal education and being admitted to the bar.

NONLAWYER TRANSLATION TIME: A law school should only admit students that can fucking graduate from law school and stand a reasonable chance of being admitted to the practice of law.  This, by the way, is supposed to  be the job of the admissions department.  Despite what many, many law school admissions departments seem to fucking think these days, you do need more than a pulse and the ability to wipe your own ass to practice law.

My clients may disagree, but, you know.

Anyhow, why did this letter get sent out?  Well, it may be because the median LSAT at NCCU was a world-shaking 145 and the median GPA was a blistering 3.22.  To put this in perspective, the LSAT runs from 120-180.  The national average LSAT score is roughly 150, and in my day if you had a score below a 160 you should buckle your ass down and study for the fucking exam because you were a worthless piece of shit only acceptable to the unaccredited law schools of California. And a 3.22 in combination with a lower-than-the-national-average LSAT score?

Let me put it this way.  In 2002, no school would have looked at these students.  Period.  These students would be told to either raise the LSAT, raise the GPA, or find another career because the practice of law simply wasn’t indicated in the crystal ball of the future for them.

But NCCU?  Well, they’re an “opportunity school,” according to the board, that, based on its heritage as a historically African-American institution, admits those who may not have had the best chance to test and study over the years but still have the potential to become leading lawyers in their community despite those disadvantages.  And you know what? I respect that.  I respect that a lot, and I agree that we need to encourage that.

Which is why we have things like the URM (underrepresented minority) boost which exists for just this reason, theoretically taking into account the background of historically underrepresented and disadvantaged minorities by providing them with a “boost” in the admissions consideration process, normally in the form of points added to their “desirability” ranking when the schools are listing the applicants. We have a system in place, folks…not the best system arguably, but a system.

What I can’t support, though, is a law school reaching into the below average LSAT scores and GPA’s to admit students that, over the course of three years will incur another $54,000 – $121,314 in student loan debt (because nobody is financing this shit privately through themselves), then leave law school with, as of 2017, only a roughly 50/50 chance of actually passing the bar.  That, to me, smacks of profiteering and taking advantage of students that, much like Charlotte School of Law, have a dream of advancing themselves by joining a respected profession, but may lack the actual ability to do so.  That sounds to me like someone selling snake oil.

And this isn’t to say there aren’t great fucking lawyers that come from those schools.  Because there are. Thurgood Marshall would have been Thurgood Marshall no matter what fucking law school he went to…and he would have been a wonderful attorney…but would he have been a wonderful attorney if he had attended a school that reached into the groups of people who -academically- were less likely to ever become attorneys? That’s questionable, because so much of what you actually learn in law school is how to think like a lawyer, and it really is to some extent a group learning experience.  You are, in some regards, only as good as the opponents you sharpen your sword against, and in this case that means your classmates.

In any case, the hope is that the school will re-evaluate its performance and admission standards, because, folks, the numbers don’t fucking lie.  NCCU has a serious issue with admitting students that have a likelihood of passing the bar and entering the practice of law, and where there is that issue the fact remains, despite all the flowery words, that they are admitting candidates unlikely to ever practice law.  And, regardless of the school’s history or desire to serve underrepresented portions of the population in the practice of law, the fact is that admitting people with little chance of ever appending, and then being roundly derided for appending, the title “Esquire” to their name is not fucking helping anyone.

It’s simply loading them down with new debt.

-BB