All Rights Reserved
Strong start for UMass Law – The Boston Globe, July 6, 2010
Lower costs help to double size of first-year class
Yes, lower costs for an unaccredited law school lures unwitting 0Ls to mortgage their futures. Do they not know how slim the chances are for most lawyers who attend an accredited university to obtain jobs in this economy, let alone non-tier 1 law graduates from accredited law schools? The legal profession has become nothing more than a corporate veil.
NORTH DARTMOUTH — Applications and enrollment at the state’s first public law school have surged since the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth acquired the struggling Southern New England School of Law, an early sign that the controversial merger is off to an auspicious start. Sounds like a typical corporate merger and acquisition deal, you know business as usual. Let’s see when one company considers purchasing another it is likely for two reasons 1) company no. 2 is struggling and seeks to get rid of its product, in turn company no. 1 will probably get a tax write off and sell what assets it can to turn a profit OR 2) company no. 1 knows that somehow it can bilk what’s left of company no. 2 and put a spin on the merger to make it appear it’s a valuable asset again and secure new consumers to purchase its product with the prediction that in a few years it will return a profit. This is regardless of whether the product itself had any long-term value, which is why oft-times more money is spent in advertising and marketing (shiny admission brochures and course catalogs) than actually improving the product. This is also done regardless of whether a market is saturated. In general business, people throw ideas around, had it already been produced by another company it’s tossed out as “been there, done that.” Not with law schools.
Following years of pitched political battles to block its formation, the new University of Massachusetts School of Law received 462 applicants for this fall’s incoming class. That is more than twice the number who applied last year, when the school was a little-known private institution. Even with staunch opposition, the failing law school was allowed to be recusitated though letting it die would’ve saved hundreds if not thousands of potential law students from a disheartening fate. One should wonder, is anyone listening, yes to the cash register.
The size of the first-year class is also doubling to 155. And students’ credentials, as measured by undergraduate grade point averages and LSAT scores, have risen, a feat for a school that has yet to be accredited by the American Bar Association, say university administrators. More than half of those accepted have decided to enroll. Should this statement be proven true, it either means the quality of higher education has reached a level of unimprovement or standards for admissions continued to be lowered. What is interesting is that many of the enrollees have competitive undergraduate records, yet CHOSE to attend an UNACCREDITED professional school. This makes no sense.
“Students are voting their confidence in the fact that we can probably get the accreditation,’’ Jean MacCormack, chancellor of UMass Dartmouth, who plans to seek the designation in 2012. Students are relying on their hopes that the school they attend will get accredited. They are taking a gamble where the stakes are highest on their future, not the schools. The law school will have recouped its investment via student loans, while law graduates (if they make it that far) will graduate with a substantial amount of debt, little job prospects and attendance to an unaccredited university on their resume. Someone push the ‘logic’ button please.
The new students are a nontraditional group, ranging from 21 to 59 years old. More than a fifth will pursue law degrees part time while continuing to work. Half are Massachusetts residents. Nearly a third are black, Latino, Asian, or Native American, the highest minority enrollment among Mass. law schools. The author attempts to make it appear that a third of incoming class is alot. It isn’t. Minorities have caught onto the game. Hopefully the spin on this article doesn’t attempt more students, especially minorities to take the bait to attend law school, especially this one! [see Law School Admissions Lag Among Minorities January 6, 2010 « Life’s Mockery]
And 39 percent will receive financial aid, including 25 students awarded a fellowship that covers half of the $23,565 tuition for committing to four years of practicing public service law upon graduation. 39% on student loans and only 25 OUT OF 462 students have a partial scholarship in which they have to work in a non-existent, low pay state/local level government job which won’t even cover their basic necessities after their initial deferment payment. Oh from an unaccredited law school, great investment right?
“The fellowship is a huge relief for someone in my position,’’ said Brandon Ferris, the 25-year-old victim-witness advocate. “As soon as this school became UMass, there was no question where I was going to go.’’ [emphasis mine] He’ll need a victim-witness advocate when he’s testifying about the student loan industry before Congress on Captiol Hill.
The public law school, whose tuition is about 40 percent less than what private law schools charge, formally assumed its new identity July 1. The school was decades in the making. Attempts to create it repeatedly faltered amid challenges from private law schools that said the state had enough law schools, questioned its financial feasibility, and were threatened by the more affordable competition. Yet, no one listened. Although I’m confident these law schools opposed this one for monetary reasons, like wanting to hoard potential law students for their own profit, at least they were right in asserting that the state had too many law schools.
Its existence, though, has not appeared to affect UMass Law’s primary rivals, including Suffolk, New England, and Western New England law schools. Suffolk saw a 2.5 percent increase in its applications for next year, with first-year enrollment holding steady at 530 students. These sound like unprecedented enrollment numbers, how can this be allowed?
Twenty first-year students are already on campus, getting a jump on law school with a criminal justice course taught by law school dean Robert Ward. In nine weeks over the summer, they will cover a range of topics from Fourth Amendment searches and seizures, to conspiracy and inchoate crimes.
Three weeks ago, Ward said, he worried whether some of his students belonged in law school. But he said he has found that the students have fewer academic challenges and possess better writing and analytic skills than students in previous years’ classes. [emphasis mine]This professor even admits that the school admitted students who should not be attending law schools, but “at least they’re better than the prior class.” That doesn’t mean much except that many students in that prior class shouldn’t have been admitted either. I wonder whether more professor will have the courage to form a committee to make recommendations on limiting law school enrollment and types of students enrolled. Probably not, that will interfere with their sabbaticals and pensions.
Other supporters have stepped up as well to help build the law school’s future, which MacCormack has vowed would not cost taxpayers a cent. Charles Hoff, a venture capitalist, former UMass trustee, and UMass Lowell graduate, has pledged $210,000 in scholarships for needy graduates of any UMass campus to attend the law school. Key words: venture capitalist, thus a money making venture, investors are banking on the false hopes of newly enrolled students.
The new students said having a state law school makes a legal education more accessible. With the lower tuition, and fellowships for public service and high LSAT scores, some students believe they will graduate with little to no debt. Look how subtle this line is. The author implies, that’s what they believe but is not reality. Even with partial fellowships for those whopping 25 enrollees, interest and fees will mount and continue to increase as the student loan industry tries to recoup money it will lose due to the new federal regulations concerning subsidized loans. Law graduates will likely rely on parents, credit cards, forebearances and deferments for survival. That’s why the author states “some students believe they will graduate with little or no debt.” Belief is not reality.