"Are Lawyers Getting Dumber?"
August 20, 2015 11:55 AM   Subscribe

Bloomberg wonders why last's year Bar Exam pass rates were notably lower. Officials who administer the national multiple-choice portion of the exams said this was a predictable result of the lower credentials of the test-takers when they entered law school versus those of earlier entering classes. Deans of lower-ranked law schools whose accreditation (and federal loan eligibility) depend in part on Bar pass rates don't like that answer. (Earlier this week, the WSJ noted the growing debt of law students, the expanding programs which reduce payments and ultimately forgive balances, and suggests the latter is now starting to drive the former: some people are only borrowing because they know they won't have to repay in full.)
posted by MattD (73 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
You might say that people who want to be lawyers are getting dumber.
posted by parrishioner at 12:07 PM on August 20, 2015 [19 favorites]


Dramatic lowering of admissions standards in order to maintain profitability has entirely predictable results. Film at 11.

But no big deal, the endowment is fine, and that's what really matters. Please contribute $100 for the new law school building.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:07 PM on August 20, 2015 [16 favorites]


Law school grads, not lawyers (yet).
posted by gyc at 12:13 PM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Law school is not designed to prepare you for the bar exam. A bar exam prep course prepares you for the bar exam. These courses are expensive and time-intensive. If you're a poor student without a job offer at a BigLaw firm, chances are you have to bear that cost yourself (in addition to the bar exam sitting fees, examsoft fees for computer use, bar registration fees, and character and fitness review fees). This often means taking out more loans to pay for the course and for living expenses while you're studying. Or, not taking the course at all. You may be fine without it, but, like the SAT, a huge part of passing the exam is learning how to take the test. If you have to work to support yourself and/or your family during the time you're supposed to be studying 8 hrs a day, it's that much harder to manage.
posted by melissasaurus at 12:30 PM on August 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


None of that explains a dramatic recent drop in passage rates, all of that has always been true.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:36 PM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


None of that explains a dramatic recent drop in passage rates, all of that has always been true.

Yes, but the glut of students financially less-fortunate and unemployed after graduation has increased. Law schools admitting "dumber" students isn't necessarily the cause. They're admitting students with fewer resources and failing to adequately support those students. The bar exam isn't about being smart/dumb, it's about knowing how to take a specific test. If you can afford Bar/Bri and the two months off to study, you're at a dramatically better advantage.
posted by melissasaurus at 12:42 PM on August 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


(Earlier this week, the WSJ noted the growing debt of law students, the expanding programs which reduce payments and ultimately forgive balances, and suggests the latter is now starting to drive the former: some people are only borrowing because they know they won't have to repay in full.)

I'd say it's not quite so bad as that, but the practical impact is the same. I borrowed knowing that I wouldn't have to repay in full if it didn't go well. It didn't go well. (I mean, I could have passed the bar if I wanted to, I'm sure, but I didn't want to and I have no intention of ever taking it.) If my life goes well at some point in the future, I'm okay with the fact that I'll still have to pay it off then. It's a safety net. It just happens to be a safety net that most people who aren't at the top end of elite schools realize they're likely to need, because they're sending you out on a wire. Students of decades past made that crossing on a glass-enclosed footbridge. Nobody in their right mind would do the wire without the net.

You might say that people who want to be lawyers are getting dumber.

Or, and I'm not even really being facetious here, the really smart ones who don't desperately want to be lawyers are more likely to know that they've got way better career options. Less-smart people either don't realize and don't do the research, or else they're gambling that they can still make a go of it. Those people struggle harder throughout law school, and they don't graduate with job offers--neither do many of the smart people, anymore--and they struggle with the bar, which they were probably always going to do, but more than before. But there's at least a certain population of people who would have gone to law school in 1995 who are right now doing degrees in something else instead. High GPA and the ability to do well on the LSAT are likely to mean you're the sort of person who could easily do accounting or finance or engineering instead, and the employment crisis in this profession has now gone on long enough that anybody who thought about law school when they started undergrad 7-8 years ago already knew there was a problem.
posted by Sequence at 12:42 PM on August 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


To keep pace with the reality of the job market, law schools need to produce fewer than half as many graduates as they do today. That means either cutting class sizes in half, closing half of the law schools in the country, or some combination of the two. Personally I favor closing law schools. The ABA could help by dramatically tightening accreditation requirements.

Once the number of graduates is on par with the number of new job openings, far fewer graduates will need debt forgiveness programs, since they'll nearly all have reasonably well-paying jobs.

Ultimately we should make law an undergraduate program, like it is in most of the rest of the world. That right there would cut the average law grad's debt by about $110,000 and give them three more earning years.
posted by jedicus at 12:53 PM on August 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


I also wonder how much the cost of test prep has affected the test scores. I think many more students, in all fields, are choosing not to max out their loans at every stage of their education. If you graduate from a lower tier law school and you are aware that you are not going to make big money at your first job, where is the incentive to spend thousands of dollars on test prep?
posted by stowaway at 12:54 PM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dramatic lowering of admissions standards in order to maintain profitability has entirely predictable results.

And those standards have only gotten lower, as the number of people applying to law school has continued to drop by 5-10% every year for the past four years. The rate of decline is slowing, but it's likely it won't bottom out for at least a few more years.
posted by jedicus at 12:57 PM on August 20, 2015


Melissasaurus that's a great alternative hypothesis, that fewer and lower paying jobs for recent grads is increasing the percentage of kids who take the Bar without the benefit of Bar-Bri.

It's a point that the law school deans will be loath to make, since it won't look good on them to suggest / admit that it isn't their $150k/three year program, but Bar-Bri's $3k/six week program, that actually drives bar passage.

I wonder if the NCBE gathers statistics on preparation mechanism vs. pass rate.
posted by MattD at 12:58 PM on August 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


To give people a sense of scale: the (highly ranked) law school at the university I work for had a $2.6 million budget deficit last year, likely to get worse for the next few years before (hopefully) improving. The only reason its doors are open is because the university it's attached to has a multi-billion dollar endowment and can afford to let it burn giant piles of money every year in order to avoid the embarrassment of shuttering the school. It's going to get really bad for lower ranked schools, especially ones not attached to wealthy universities.
posted by jedicus at 1:01 PM on August 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm a law student. Just saw a whole bunch of friends take the bar. This article seems to miss an essential point- the decline of memorization as an everyday skill.

1) The bar exam is a particular kind of exam, in that it has a huge focus on raw memorization ability, and the sheer amount of data that a person is able to keep inside their head is usually the limiting factor in a person's score. Schooling and memorization have been shifting a lot in the last 20 years, and that shift is trickling up to Bar exam aged students. Where the Bar used to be "a really hard exam", it's now "a really hard exam of a type that most students have not practiced".

2) My dad went to law school in the early 80's. We compare stories about my experience in law school vs his back then. His Property Law exam was handwritten (~30 wpm), his outline/notes were 12 pages, typed on a typewriter. His professor's expectations (and the class curve) were in line with that level of technology. My Property Law exam was taken on a computer (~60 wpm), my outline was a .doc outline with hyperlinks and a well organized navigation pane- it was 95 pages long. My professor's expectations (and the curve) were in line with this level of technology. I could not possibly have memorized enough stuff to do well on this exam, and attempting to do so would have been a waste of time, and would have hurt my grades in other classes. I know I'll have to have that stuff memorized come the bar exam, but it's not memorized yet.

TL;DR people used to be able to memorize the Iliad and the Odyssey, now I can't even memorize 10 phone numbers. Maybe that means I'm dumb, or maybe it means the mental skills necessary to survive in the world are changing.
posted by DGStieber at 1:02 PM on August 20, 2015 [47 favorites]


Jedicus -- law professors exercise great sway over the ABA's legal education functions. They won't crack down on accreditation in any way that reduces the of tenure track positions.

The only plausible mechanism for compelling lower law school enrollments is for Congress to cap the number of students who qualify for federally-provided or -guaranteed loans for law school. It wouldn't be especially radical: the medical profession long ago put a cap on the number of doctors who could qualify by causing Congress to cap the number of residencies it would support. (Medical school enrollments aren't legally capped, but onshore medical schools have for the most part respected that they aren't supposed to admit more students than can actually get post-graduate training.)

Law school enrollments are declining now only because law schools have not been able or willing ot drop their enrollment standards as fast as their applicants' quality has dropped, although some standards-dropping certainly has occurred (the very subject of TFA).
posted by MattD at 1:06 PM on August 20, 2015


Memorization is also a dramatically stupid feature of the bar exam, since being able to regurgitate black letter law in a variety of areas might be the skill set of a certain type of small town generalist, but isn't really what most modern lawyers do, in my experience.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:06 PM on August 20, 2015 [9 favorites]


Here in San Pablo, Hamline U and Billy Mitchell recently merged to save costs (i.e., lay off a lot of professors). This will be a trend, I predict.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:06 PM on August 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's kind of obnoxious that the Bar people are writing off the technical glitch angle, too. It's not at all unreasonable to think that people who are freaking out about a computer glitch destroying their future aren't gonna be able to focus as well on the second half of the test, and the fact that the Powers that Be are basically trying to hand wave that effect away would be funny if it wasn't so shitty.
posted by Itaxpica at 1:07 PM on August 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


These sorts of reports terrify me that someone is going to gut the public service loan forgiveness program that I (and many other public interest lawyers) rely upon in order to work providing legal services for low income or indigent people. Legal representation is necessary for many many people who simply cannot afford to pay lawyers what lawyers need to make to afford their loans. Legal representation is frequently necessary for women who never married the fathers of their children and need support; it's necessary for those fathers, too, who have rights that are often ignored. It's critical for people who are being evicted or sued over consumer debt.

Loan forgiveness seems like a huge bonus to people who weren't successful at getting a "real" job, but it's not. You don't become a public interest lawyer because you're not good enough to work at Big Law--the job market in public interest is as competitive (if not more) as it is at the big money level, in part because there are more people qualified and passionate about fewer jobs. Not only are public interest law jobs hard to come by, they require you to take a starting salary 1/3 that of your Big Law peers and 20k lower than your non Big Law peers. It means no bonuses, few raises, limited benefits (usually "no 401k match" or other retirement benefits). It means just as long hours, too.

Loan forgiveness requires 10 years of commitment to reduced salary in a market where you cannot easily find another job if yours disappears because Congress has further defunded the Legal Services Corporation or because your big donors decide they don't care about you any more. Loan forgiveness will tax you the year your loans are forgiven as though you received the amount forgiven as a wage in that year. (Try saving for that tax burden on a public interest salary.) It requires you to not miss payments, ever, on your loans. It requires you to be making so little money that you qualify for income-based repayment. Oh, and by the way, a lot of institutions you might work for don't qualify, either (the big one, of course, is political organizations or ones that engage in lobbying).

Loan forgiveness is likely the closest thing to a retirement plan many public interest lawyers have, and it's hostage to a bunch of capricious lawmakers whose constituents think rewarding people for their service to society is an unconscionable handout.

Loan forgiveness is often the only thing resembling an acknowledgement that your work is necessary and meaningful to ensuring the fair and just treatment of ordinary people. It's not all public defenders qualifying for forgiveness--it's the people doing public interest civil law too.

I liked it best when no-one knew about the programs, so I did not have to worry that public opinion would force the gutting of the program. I mean, there's a lot of lawyers with years invested toward forgiveness now, so we'd probably win the class action if someone tries to take it away cold and leave us with nothing. It still keeps me awake nights.

it also leaves open the question of what arguments against forgiveness say about how we value the contributions of professionals to the public interest. It leaves open the question of how we value access to justice. It shows we don't care about low and middle income people who are in no position to navigate social services, courts and--for instance--the unexpected death of a young spouse without a lawyer. It's just another way we dismantle all the social safety nets anyone has tried to create.

Generally, I agree we need fewer law graduates, but we need to improve legal services in tandem with reducing law school class size. Creating incentives and structures for public service lawyers strengthens the profession. Of course, I believe, we need to make legal education more practical and charge bar admissions practices to reflect this, rather than continue to support the cottage industry of bar prep. The system is very sick, indeed.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:07 PM on August 20, 2015 [47 favorites]


It certainly is Bar-Bri and bar prep courses that drive the passage rate. I was told to "aim for a D" on the bar exam - true competence or knowledge is not what the examinations evaluate. They measure your ability to regurgitate information on a mediocre level. I was told to not think critically, not to try to demonstrate my full capacity, not to show my great legal analysis - I was to simply repeat what Bar-Bri taught me. (And I am not touching bias, explicit and implicit here in my analysis - just want to support the idea that the privileged bar prep course, not law school, is what the exam really fits together with).
posted by anya32 at 1:08 PM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


This article seems to miss an essential point- the decline of memorization as an everyday skill.

Do you have literally no closed-book finals where you are? That might be an actual tragedy. (Although I envy you in the worst way for actually getting to have your outlines open on the computer--we had to print all of ours. I had them all indexed with tabs and it took longer than making the actual outline, or at least felt like it.) I mean, I would have died if all my classes had elected to do it, but we had enough to drive home the idea that you don't get to just make an outline and rely on that every single time. I mean, memorization, as a skill, no, it's not something we usually learn. I'm particularly bad at it, even with my ADD meds. But I CALIed two semesters of closed-book con law with a stack of flash cards and an app on my computer, and it's up there with "not dying when doing public speaking" in "things I learned that actually mean I don't think law school was a total waste".
posted by Sequence at 1:09 PM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just how much of an attorney's work will be taken over by software in the coming years? What impact will that have on the pay future attorneys command?
posted by sourwookie at 1:09 PM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I mean, not the con law, that part was still mostly a waste, but the practice of being able to distill information down to its most useful parts and then load that information into my head as efficiently as possible.
posted by Sequence at 1:10 PM on August 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


law professors exercise great sway over the ABA's legal education functions. They won't crack down on accreditation in any way that reduces the of tenure track positions.

No doubt this is true, and a sign of terribly mis-aligned incentives. But the ABA could help by tightening accreditation standards, even if it surely won't.

Just how much of an attorney's work will be taken over by software in the coming years? What impact will that have on the pay future attorneys command?

"An attorney", generically? Not a lot. "Some kinds of attorneys", especially the ones doing large-scale document review? Potentially quite a lot.
posted by jedicus at 1:13 PM on August 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Loan forgiveness seems like a huge bonus to people who weren't successful at getting a "real" job, but it's not.

It's worth pointing out, for people who don't have six figure law school debt that a job that lets you pay that off in ten years means a job that's paying you something like $1,500/month more than you need for living expenses and any undergraduate debt. There are plenty of "real jobs" that don't pay anywhere near that amount, especially since that's $1,500 that's immune to changing cities and reducing living costs. That people would hand wring about relieving that burden when the cost is a pittance next to what the government spends on the military is crazy.

Do you have literally no closed-book finals where you are? That might be an actual tragedy.

The only law students I've ever met who had closed book finals went to a terrible law school looking to curve people out of the program.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:13 PM on August 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Loan forgiveness will tax you the year your loans are forgiven as though you received the amount forgiven as a wage in that year. (Try saving for that tax burden on a public interest salary.)

False, at least as to PSLF. IBR remains taxable, though.

It requires you to not miss payments, ever, on your loans.

Also false. You always have the option to rehabilitate.

It requires you to be making so little money that you qualify for income-based repayment. Oh, and by the way, a lot of institutions you might work for don't qualify, either (the big one, of course, is political organizations or ones that engage in lobbying).

Mostly false. IBR/PAYE only requires "partial financial hardship" defined as when your 10yr payments would equal greater than 15/10% of your disposable income. When loan balances are in the low 200k range, that equates to a pretty hefty salary that will still qualify.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:14 PM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


People in general are getting dumber.
posted by 445supermag at 1:20 PM on August 20, 2015


The alternative explanation -- that the July 2014 bar exam scores were lower because of the ExamSoft debacle -- has been thoroughly explored by Deborah Jones Merritt in a series of blog posts at Law School Cafe . In particular, have a look at this chart, which shows a correlation between LSAT score and MBE scores (the multiple-choice portion of the bar exam), except for the triangle at lower-right, which corresponds with the credentials of students who started law school in fall 2011. Most of them took the exam in July 201. Their average LSAT scores weren't down, but their MBE scores were. Merritt has much more. Moeser's refusal to take the critique seriously because "We’re not in the blogging business" is unfortunate.

I am a law professor, so take my comments with the appropriate quantity of salt.
posted by grimmelm at 1:28 PM on August 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


Loan forgiveness will tax you the year your loans are forgiven as though you received the amount forgiven as a wage in that year. (Try saving for that tax burden on a public interest salary.)

False, at least as to PSLF. IBR remains taxable, though.


This is a mistake I am pleased to have corrected!
posted by crush-onastick at 1:29 PM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


What I don't get is why there aren't lots of jobs for lawyers once they pass the bar. It costs tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars to sue someone, even in an open and shut case of "He took my book, scanned it and is selling it on Amazon". That says to me it is a sellers market. Why don't all those law school graduates who can't get jobs just form "Bob's discount law firm" and do a ton of routine stuff for a bunch less then $brandname firm?

(I mean, there may well be good reasons for it, but it seems that there should be room at the bottom for cheaper routine things like patent applications and things.)
posted by Canageek at 1:36 PM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Overhead, and upfront costs. Plus market share. There's only a finite amount of personal injury cases worth taking, ie, with a defendant that has the means to satisfy a judgment. And to try that case, a law firm needs to first pay for staff, fees, expert reports, depositions, and on and on, out of pocket in a contingency case. And live for the 2-3 years it may take to make it to trial and get (maybe) paid. How many new law grads have that kind of capital? And if that's your case, are you taking it to Bob's Discount Firm, or to the established firm with 20 attorneys who have all tried hundreds of cases each?

Pick another practice area, a big corporation with millions to spend on a legal budget is not doling out work to a newly formed firm they've never heard of and has never filed a patent done a merger.

Small law firms do exist, people need wills, POAs, medical POAs, estate planning, LLPs formed, etc, and a new grad can make that work if they're talented (at business, not necessarily "law"). But it's (a) hard as hell and (b) not making a lot of them rich, especially at first.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:46 PM on August 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


jedicus: "Personally I favor closing law schools. The ABA could help by dramatically tightening accreditation requirements."

100% agree.

DGStieber: "The bar exam is a particular kind of exam, in that it has a huge focus on raw memorization ability, and the sheer amount of data that a person is able to keep inside their head is usually the limiting factor in a person's score."

I ... did not find this to be true, compared to other exams I have taken, law and non-law. Illinois bar exam, 2004. I think. Apparently I can't even memorize what year I finished law school.

Bulgaroktonos: "especially since that's $1,500 that's immune to changing cities and reducing living costs."

Yeah, this is the one thing that I really struggle with about our move to a low-cost-of-living area -- nobody notified our law school loans. The savings in housing costs pretty much compensates for it, but the limitations of that strategy are more apparent now that we have two children and still a pretty small house, because we have to keep putting those housing savings towards the immovable loan payments.

Bulgaroktonos: "The only law students I've ever met who had closed book finals went to a terrible law school looking to curve people out of the program."

I went to Duke. They weren't ALL closed-book by any means, but there were some.

Canageek: "Why don't all those law school graduates who can't get jobs just form "Bob's discount law firm" and do a ton of routine stuff for a bunch less then $brandname firm? "

Well for starters, malpractice insurance isn't cheap.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:47 PM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why don't all those law school graduates who can't get jobs just form "Bob's discount law firm" and do a ton of routine stuff for a bunch less then $brandname firm?

There's the question of whether it would be ethical for the recent grad to even take on those matters. As I said above, law school does not prepare you for the bar exam; it certainly doesn't prepare you to actually practice law.

The best option for many unemployed recent grads is freelance/temp agency doc review, but even those opportunities are decreasing (along with the wages). You can't really pay your law school loans on $20/hr (with no benefits, no job security, no free CLE courses to maintain your license). Hopefully, you're fluent in another language, so you can get the higher rates available for foreign language doc review.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:55 PM on August 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


There's the question of whether it would be ethical for the recent grad to even take on those matters. As I said above, law school does not prepare you for the bar exam; it certainly doesn't prepare you to actually practice law.

Yeah plenty of recent grads hang out a shingle when they can't find work; sometimes they can even find clients and not commit malpractice, but it's hard.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:58 PM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Why don't all those law school graduates who can't get jobs just form "Bob's discount law firm" and do a ton of routine stuff for a bunch less then $brandname firm? "

In addition to all the other reasons identified by others: how is Bob's Discount Law Firm supposed to get clients? In-person solicitation is ethically prohibited in most cases. Advertising is ethically regulated, expensive, and largely useless.

Another problem: lots of people need lawyers, few people can pay lawyers, even (relatively) cheap ones.
posted by jedicus at 2:06 PM on August 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just as a point of reference, I help attorneys set up their practices and it is super, super rare to see a recent admission date for someone setting up a solo practice.
posted by griphus at 2:07 PM on August 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


It should also be noted that virtual law firms, which basically follow the model you suggest, have been a thing for a few years. They have not been total failures, but neither have they been especially successful so far.
posted by jedicus at 2:11 PM on August 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


All of y'all are making me worried about my own new solo practice as a recent grad.

The difference being that I'm in a small town doing mainly crim & family, which there's always a market for. 70+ files opened in first 4 months!
posted by Lemurrhea at 2:15 PM on August 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


That's the kind of new startup firm that I've personally seen work, new grad who went away to Fancy Law School goes back home and has a ready built network of potential clients. Graduated with a couple people like that, it's not impossible. But not nearly as simple as legal work hanging on trees for the lowest bidder.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:23 PM on August 20, 2015


Just how much of an attorney's work will be taken over by software in the coming years? What impact will that have on the pay future attorneys command?

Could halve it. Full disclosure, this is a self-link, but even the head of the ABA is saying attorneys are going to have to get used to a high-tech, high volume, lower-pay future.
posted by Diablevert at 2:44 PM on August 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


The only law students I've ever met who had closed book finals went to a terrible law school looking to curve people out of the program.

I'd granted last heard awhile ago, and Ohio doesn't have any of the T14 or anything, but what I heard, anyway, was that other places in the region were doing similarly--not all classes by a long shot, but enough not to be able to avoid them. Far from curving people out of the program, they often made a point of telling us that the point was that you weren't going to be able to have an outline on the bar exam. Maybe that's actually something MORE schools should be doing, if pass rates are getting to be a problem. They didn't have noticeably more difficult tests than the other classes, everything else taken into account. The test didn't insist on the same level of detail in answers and that was fine.

But this doesn't even really make sense to me as a general rule. The terrible schools don't want to curve people out of the program. They want to keep people in the program and giving them tuition money.

"Why don't all those law school graduates who can't get jobs just form "Bob's discount law firm" and do a ton of routine stuff for a bunch less then $brandname firm? "

For people who were already struggling in school, you might as well ask people to fly to the moon as ask them to come up with enough money to acquire office space and clients. Even if you're competent enough, which is seriously unlikely, it's not free. The people I knew who did it, well, I wouldn't go to any of them if I was in trouble, but they all had family or spouses with some amount of money, and that means they're not the struggling people who everybody's most concerned with.
posted by Sequence at 2:49 PM on August 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


The main reason there's little in the way of Bob's Discount Law Firm isn't the cost of doing it -- lower than ever given technology -- but that the market for it doesn't exist in any scale.

There are plenty of people who can't afford any lawyer under any circumstances. They use a public interest lawyer if they qualify, or a contingent lawyer if they have a winning tort case, or do without.

But there's very few people who can afford $50/hour for BDL ill-experienced, poorly-credentialed lawyer, who doesn't have the ability to scrape together from family or borrowing the $200/hour it might cost to pay a lawyer who really knows what he's doing.

Basically not unlike the reason why there's no $8,000 new cars for sale in the U.S. (Pretty much) anyone who can afford that, wants more in the trim package and can pay for it, and there you go.
posted by MattD at 3:42 PM on August 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


The only law students I've ever met who had closed book finals went to a terrible law school looking to curve people out of the program.

This is not the case, I'm afraid.

(But it is true that bad law schools aim to "curve people out of the program" or something like it. Since scholarship awards are sometimes contingent on class rank, a harsh curve allows these schools to promise much more scholarship aid than they actually pay out. They then collect full fare from those whose performance slips.)
posted by grobstein at 4:04 PM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't know if this is true but I have heard that one reason several dental schools closed at one point is because dentists realized that having too many colleagues led to lower salaries for starting dentists. Similarly, dental schools don't have rankings because all of the dental schools agreed not to play that game. So closing schools sounds rough but it might be what's best for the field. However, what's best for the field isn't what's best in the short term for individual schools.
posted by kat518 at 4:46 PM on August 20, 2015


The best option for many unemployed recent grads is freelance/temp agency doc review, but even those opportunities are decreasing (along with the wages). You can't really pay your law school loans on $20/hr (with no benefits, no job security, no free CLE courses to maintain your license). Hopefully, you're fluent in another language, so you can get the higher rates available for foreign language doc review.

Yeah, I have a staff role tangentially related to hiring at a giant firm, and we've cut way, way down on the number of doc review attorneys we hire. I think a fair number of places have switched from a fluctuating crew of temps/freelancers to subcontracting this stuff to dedicated groups of fulltimers (although the burnout rate on that must be ghastly).

More broadly, one of the worst parts about the rapidly expanding graduate classes of the last however many years is that they made it even more advantageous for big firms to hire dozens of associates each year with the expectation that maybe 4 or 5 of them might become partners someday. If you have an effectively infinite supply of labor, why not churn through as many bodies as you possibly can? All the benefits accrue to you and the only cost is the vague bad thoughts that you might be working some people half to death since you can ditch them as soon as they're no longer maximally useful to you. There's still a lot of romanticization of the Cravath System, but, Jesus, what a mess it is, and it would be great if the flight of ambitious 22 year olds from the legal profession could bring some sanity to the career path.
posted by Copronymus at 4:55 PM on August 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


As to why grads without jobs don't just hang out a shingle, I'll just re-iterate:

--Malpractice insurance is very expensive.
--[Some] New graduates [very often] have very little practical knowledge related to the practice of law (i.e., the prosecution or defense of a case) and need a more experienced attorney to help.
--New graduates have little practical knowledge related to the mechanics of the court (i.e. where to go, physically, to file a case; how calendaring or service work in their county), much less reasonable knowledge about the culture of practice in their county (which judge you should transfer away from; which law firms are dicks and which are reasonable)
--New graduates have no money for office space and office staff, much less for filing fees, service fees, copying documents
--There is an honest question as to whether it is ethical for a new graduate with no practical experience (and it is more than possible to graduate law school and pass the bar without ever having been part of a real case or in a real courtroom or examining a real potential case and making appropriate decisions about whether to take it, how to draft its complaint and whether to accept a settlement offer)
--Running a business not only requires a specific set of skills that you don't learn in law school, it is also a career choice that most folks going to law school did not make. It's like asking why your waitress who got fired does not just open her own diner.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:58 PM on August 20, 2015 [15 favorites]


Passed with ease in 2010; took two tries in 2014. Hand wrote both, all my law school exams were closed book. The first one wasn't in the state where I went to school, but the second try was. I dunno, second one seemed a lot harder. I heard rumors they were cranking up the difficulty in/around 2012 or so, don't know that they're true though...
posted by mrbigmuscles at 5:36 PM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Personally I favor closing law schools. The ABA could help by dramatically tightening accreditation requirements.

Do you also favor closing art history programs, english lit programs, biology programs and computer science programs? All of the people in those competitive fields would love to have a quasi-governmental monopolist to limit competition in their chosen fields and increase their incomes.

The bar exam isn't about being smart/dumb, it's about knowing how to take a specific test. If you can afford Bar/Bri and the two months off to study, you're at a dramatically better advantage.

This is an indication that the bar exam is an artificial hurdle to prevent, for example, foreigners who could be educated much more cheaply, from practicing law in the U.S. Every other U.S. worker must compete with cheaper foreign labor, from landscapers to factory workers to software engineers. Why should lawyers use a phony accreditation process to limit competitors?

Law school does not prepare you for the bar exam; it certainly doesn't prepare you to actually practice law.

Therein lies the problem. Law schools are not preparation for a career. They are credentialist screening mechanisms to limit market competition and increase income. Your real education begins on the job.

But there's very few people who can afford $50/hour for BDL ill-experienced, poorly-credentialed lawyer, who doesn't have the ability to scrape together from family or borrowing the $200/hour it might cost to pay a lawyer who really knows what he's doing.

All the more reason to make it easier for foreign educated lawyers (and doctors) to practice. There are 60 million foreigners in the top 1% of intellect that are probably smarter than you who might be interested in serving poor people at low rates. These poor people must compete with foreigners for their jobs. They should also have the benefit of low cost foreigners for their legal and medical services.

Ultimately we should make law an undergraduate program, like it is in most of the rest of the world.

That is the first practical recommendation I've seen in this thread. A four to five year undergraduate program should be adequate for both the legal and medical professions. Tacking on four years of undergraduate work as a pre-qualifier is unnecessary and yet another intentional hurdle to reduce market competition.

Credentialism has been a large part of the rise in income inequality for the middle class. The middle class must compete with the world. Lawyers and doctors have protectionist guilds to enhance their incomes.
posted by JackFlash at 7:00 PM on August 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


Lawyers already have a guild, they should do what guilds did and have apprentices. That's pretty much how all the professions used to work. Not much money for the managerial/administrative class in apprenticeships, though
posted by mrbigmuscles at 7:03 PM on August 20, 2015


"Competing with the world" has done such wonders for the working class, after all.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:06 PM on August 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


Lawyers already have a guild, they should do what guilds did and have apprentices. That's pretty much how all the professions used to work. Not much money for the managerial/administrative class in apprenticeships, though Schools are pushing for more experiential learning - a) teaches you how to actually practice law (it takes practice to be a good lawyer) and b) if people know you and you have connections, you get the job v. unknown hundreds of people applying for jobs.
posted by anya32 at 7:11 PM on August 20, 2015


Lawyers already have a guild, they should do what guilds did and have apprentices. That's pretty much how all the professions used to work.

And pretty much every profession, including plumbers and priests, that used to do it that way has switched to a secondary education followed by a practicum/journeyman stage. Education with standardized curricula at certified schools at the apprentice level gives much better base standard of trained professionals overall.

How that training should happen is a good question. I can certainly see the merit in exploring an undergraduate law (and medicine) program. This works just fine for engineers and accountants and nurses, for example. Running a six-year law program with 4-6 placement periods (what the engineering schools in Canada call co-op terms, and which the rest of the STEM faculties are increasingly adopting) seems like a model for a good mix of education and practical training.

But going back to single-practitioner training would invite all kinds of new-old problems the existing systems was set up to address.
posted by bonehead at 7:38 PM on August 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Do you also favor closing art history programs, english lit programs, biology programs and computer science programs? All of the people in those competitive fields would love to have a quasi-governmental monopolist to limit competition in their chosen fields and increase their incomes.

Legal education is a professional degree program intended to train people for a specific profession. The only reason to have people in law school is to fulfill the needs of the legal market. If the number of people being trained as lawyer far exceeds the market for lawyers, then the guild should degrees the number of trainees.

And while we are at it, a lot of English Literature PhD programs should be closed as well.
posted by deanc at 7:49 PM on August 20, 2015


In Canada I think all jurisdictions have articling requirements (ie apprenticeships) for law school graduates before they can be called to the bar. I think it can do a good job for preparing students to be actual lawyers because by the end of my articling term I at the very least knew how to do the basics of what I do in my practice now. I've also passed the NY bar exam and with filling in some additional paperwork could be a NY licensed attorney, and to be honest I have no idea how anything in NY or the USA actually works. I guess doing anything with that license would be between me, my ethics and my insurance, but it does seem a bit strange to me.

One significant issue with articling is that there aren't enough articling positions for all the students and it isn't always the best qualified candidates who get the positions. In Ontario we've already started or are in the process of starting an articling replacement for those who can't get positions so that they can still get called to the bar.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 7:57 PM on August 20, 2015


Education with standardized curricula at certified schools at the apprentice level gives much better base standard of trained professionals overall.

How do you know? After all, almost all the cases we study in law school, were written and/or argued by lawyers who never went to law school.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 7:57 PM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


The main problem mandatory schooling addresses is insufficient income and job security for administrators and "educators". Student lenders do okay too.

Plenty of idiots pass the bar, but no old salt looking for a protege is going to hire a moron. Apprenticeship is the way to go.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 8:04 PM on August 20, 2015


If the number of people being trained as lawyer far exceeds the market for lawyers, then the guild should degrees the number of trainees.

There's not such a thing as the legal "guild", and really has never been. The bottom 50% (or more) of law schools exist almost solely to enrich the faculty and administration of the schools themselves, with a bare minimum of regard for the fortunes of the lemmings enrolled and paying sticker price. Uncapped Federal student loans have enabled the profession to eat it's young while the old happily grow fat.

Doctors and dentists saw the same trends 40 years ago and moved to restrict supply, in order to maintain high salaries and protect the earning power of their professional degrees. The legal profession did not have the same strong, coordinated, gatekeeping infrastructure, and went exactly the opposite direction, opening new schools literally as fast as they could be built. Which is why today you can still graduate 99/100th from Shit State Med School and leave school with at least 1 job offer in hand, but the same ranking at Vanderbilt Law School will get you the same job you could've got from paying $7 to get a food handler's permit.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:25 PM on August 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


There's not such a thing as the legal "guild", and really has never been

I meant "guild" metaphorically. there was a time when many of the local law schools were the places that provided the lawyers for traffic court, the local judges, in house lawyers for municipal government, and the guy who drafted wills and contracts for your uncle bob. Due to a combination of increasing supply and drop off in demand, these lower tier law schools no longer serve a professional purpose. The stakeholders of the legal profession-- the lawyers themselves and the corporations, people, and governments who rely on them -- need to start shutting down and merging the excess.
posted by deanc at 8:36 PM on August 20, 2015


The problem is too many of those stakeholders, at least the ones with the power to change the structure, are personally invested in keeping the grift going as long as possible. Lots of bottomfeeder law deans hold influential spots on the ABA accreditation workgroup. No, the market will have to bottom out, or some outside force (such as the Federal government finally turning off the taps) will have to intervene, there's no functioning self-corrective mechanism otherwise. Too many people are still getting rich off the status quo, and too many flagship state universities look at their law schools as a profit center in times of budget cuts.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:04 PM on August 20, 2015


Running a business not only requires a specific set of skills that you don't learn in law school, it is also a career choice that most folks going to law school did not make. It's like asking why your waitress who got fired does not just open her own diner.

That's unfortunate, because only lawyers can own law firms.
posted by pwnguin at 9:20 PM on August 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


The stakeholders of the legal profession-- the lawyers themselves and the corporations, people, and governments who rely on them -- need to start shutting down and merging the excess.

That would be good for existing lawyers, just as the restrictions on medical education are good for physicians and dentists. But having seen what the horribly distorted markets for medical labor do to everyone who's not a member of those particular rent-seeking clubs, shouldn't we as a society want to prevent attorneys from doing that?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:43 PM on August 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Professional degrees are a land of contrasts.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:47 PM on August 20, 2015


I've often heard, including in this thread, that law school doesn't prepare you for 1) the bar exam or 2) practicing law. This strikes me as completely nuts but, as the saying goes, I'm not a lawyer and I don't even play one on TV.

But here's a hypothetical: Let's take a reasonably intellectual person with no background in law, say a recent English or Engineering graduate. Could that person take one of these bar exam prep courses and have a reasonable chance of passing?
posted by LastOfHisKind at 11:24 PM on August 20, 2015


This comment addresses that, LastOfHisKind: http://www.metafilter.com/141476/DIY-Law-School-Learn-the-Law-Without-Law-School#5662988
posted by Dalby at 11:39 PM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, sorry, I actually misread your comment (the hypothetical, that is. I guess it relates to the first part of your comment still though).
posted by Dalby at 11:42 PM on August 20, 2015


Let's take a reasonably intellectual person with no background in law, say a recent English or Engineering graduate. Could that person take one of these bar exam prep courses and have a reasonable chance of passing?

Totally. The hardest part of the bar is the self-discipline it takes to grind out 6-8 hours a day of studying, six days a week, for two months.

On the other hand, I think only a handful of states let you sit the bar exam without having graduated from law school. Further, even if they passed, would that English or engineering grad be able to get a job offer from an established firm to do legal work? Probably not, although I'm guessing that if the engineering grad also passed the patent bar exam to practice before the USPTO, they might have an outside chance. (I can't remember off the top of my head whether the patent bar requires law school.)
posted by joyceanmachine at 6:53 AM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Additionally, a reasonably intelligent (and skilled standardized test taker!) who skips law school, takes the prep class, and passes the bar exam still has no idea how to take your bog standard civil law suit from anxious first client meeting to successful and reasonably accurate outcome in the appropriate county courthouse.

That's the problem with legal education--it is not practical enough, even where it's successful in steeping you in the thought processes, goals and languages of the practice. The tuition; the excessively large classes; the US News & World Reports; the accreditation process; the White-Towering-of-Law-Schools is intertwined with the problem, but that's the problem.

The problems with the profession (and there are many) are only somewhat related to the problems of legal education. Some of the problems with the courts stem from the raising profit-motive in legal education and law firms, but some stem from municipal politics and budgets, Some (largely related to the criminal justice system but also to the tort system, judicial elections and funding of legal aid) stem from federal politics and budgets. Some come from bad laws.

A small (decidedly non-exhaustive) list of problems with the legal profession and our courts: --law firms pricing themselves out of the middle class market; --judges who are ill-qualified and ill-trained to take a case from start to finish from the other side of the bench; --no court reporters or digital court recording so no appropriate record is made in low fee cases, high volume courts, or pro se cases so appeals cannot be properly pursued; --fines and fees; --funding disparities between public defenders and prosecutors offices; --social attitudes (and weird court rules) about jury service; --social attitudes (amongst jurors, judges, prosecutors and public defenders) about the presumption of innocence and burden of proof; --a lack of respect and investment in pro bono services by attorneys; --the profit-driven continuing legal education system; --under-funded court systems with no data management, hand-written court orders, cramped facilities and a lack of support staff (like court reporters, translators, mediators, clerks); --poor integration with social services (particularly in criminal, family and juvenile courts).
posted by crush-onastick at 7:25 AM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


joyceanmachine: " Further, even if they passed, would that English or engineering grad be able to get a job offer from an established firm to do legal work?"

No, because in 43 states you must graduate from an ABA-accredited law school to be admitted to the bar after passing the bar exam. Vermont, Virginia, California, and Washington state allow forms of apprenticeship (before you pass the bar); New York, Maine, and Wyoming have programs where you go to a year-ish of law school and then do the rest as an apprenticeship (my knowledge of those is hazy). My understanding is that the bar pass rates for people entering via these alternative methods is currently abysmal (although there's no real reason it has to be; I assume it's the self-selection of folks who go the non-traditional route).
Law office readers comprised only 60 of the 83,986 people who took state and multi-state bar exams last year, according to the New York Times. They are also less likely to pass those exams. Only 28 percent of the tiny minority of law office readers passed their bar exams last year, compared to 78 percent of students who attended American Bar Association-approved law schools, reports The Times.
Most people who take the bar exam who haven't gone to law school either a) have a weird hobby of taking exams; there are people who make it a goal to sit the bar exam in every state where they're allowed to do so, just like people try to run a marathon in every state; or b) work for BAR-BRI or a competitor. They get their information about what's on the exam and how it's being scored by having a bunch of employees sit the exams every year. (This is not weird; ACT test prep companies also send their employees to sit the ACT to have the latest information about what the tests are like. I worked for one where the region's manager, a 35-year-old man, went and sat the ACT test like four times a year. ACT releases tests that are a couple years old for students to study from; test prep companies see a value in knowing the latest tests and what they're emphasizing, I guess.)

LastOfHisKind: "Could that person take one of these bar exam prep courses and have a reasonable chance of passing?"

I think so; there are two basic components to the bar exam (IMHO) -- stuffing your brain with enough state law to pass the substantive portions of the test (which is what the BAR-BRI prep course is for), and learning how to "think like the lawyer" to analyze the questions. Some people think that way naturally; in most of the rest of us it can be trained, and law school is one place to learn it, but not the only place. I might single out people studying philosophy and theology; politicians and/or their employees who write laws or make policy decisions; certain kinds of business analysts as being particularly good at identifying issues and weighing competing interpretations in the way the bar exam wants you to. Someone who's a naturally good at "thinking like a lawyer" and did BAR-BRI could pass it; someone who's a very linear thinker who likes a "right answer" could probably pass the state law substantive portions no problem, but the essay sections where you have to identify issues and weigh them might require a little more intellectual training than you get from just BAR-BRI.

To some people that kind of thinking and analysis is as natural as breathing; to others, it's a skill that requires quite a bit of hard work and training. (And it's not a matter of intelligence, just of thinking style.) So some people would sit down to take the bar exam with their brain stuffed full of BAR-BRI and be like "oh, this is no big deal" and other people would be like "HOLY SHIT I DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THESE QUESTIONS."

My college roommate, who I think is considerably more intelligent than I am and who went to a top-tier medical school, would have collapsed into a sobbing heap on the floor confronted with the bar exam. She absolutely hated having to think "like a lawyer" and found it stressful and "stupid"; she was much, much more intellectually-oriented towards the sciences where you find a correct answer or at least can express yourself in probabilities. She was a voracious reader of fiction but hated having to talk about it when everyone had different interpretations and wanted to argue about which one was "right," and she struggled through our required philosophy and theology credits. It is just not the way her brain works, and having watched her take medium-stakes college finals that required analysis of a sort similar to the bar exam and just about have a nervous breakdown, I can confidently state that the bar exam would put her into a state of total collapse. I know she was smart and intellectually disciplined enough that she COULD have learned to pass that sort of test, but I think it would have been a struggle and she probably would have needed (and hated) law school to do it -- at least a year or so. (Probably not all three years, I don't think anybody needs all three years.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:52 AM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Maybe it's time to kill the bar exam.

I passed the bar, but I crammed for it the weekend before. I displayed procrastination and optimism, two of the worst traits a good lawyer can have.

A law school friend studied methodically for the entire spring and summer, taking classes and notes and practice tests. She KNOWS her stuff, still. She displayed patience, responsibility and preparation, all great traits for an attorney to have. But she didn't pass.

Who would you prefer to take your case when it comes time?

Some people don't test well. The bar set up is not an accurate measure of a person's knowledge or skill, because it does not mimic how lawyers actually work 9 - 5 (ok, 8 - 8). Yes, it is stressful and court, angry clients and more knowledgable opposing counsel are stressful, but NO ONE expects us to perform all of the work on any case in two days straight without ever cracking a book or hopping on Westlaw or calling a mentor. Obviously, practicing like that would really be a danger to the public and the bar.

I feel like the bar is becoming a tool to keep the practice a homogenous good old boys room. I think the profession, the public and the justice system would be better served by scrapping this model altogether and instituting a commonwealth model of articling, so young lawyers actually have the practice experience that just cannot be replicated by filling in a bubble sheet while having a panic attack. Save the standardized testing for a state-specific court rules test when you're done articling and ready to hang a shingle. That's what the public really needs. I got myself a bar card and a court appointed defendent before I knew what an arraignment was, and he didn't seem to care so much about the question on bailments (bailments, really!?) that I aced on the bar.
posted by mibo at 7:57 AM on August 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


The only reason its doors are open is because the university it's attached to has a multi-billion dollar endowment and can afford to let it burn giant piles of money every year in order to avoid the embarrassment of shuttering the school.

There's also the fact that law schools were cash cows for decades, subsidizing the philosophy and political science departments that were busy churning out the next round of law students. Oh, and especially subsidizing the ever-bloating university administrations. Law schools are cheap compared to other professional schools. All you need is a room and a professor (and of course thirteen assistant vice associate deans of community engagement). I think universities are going to want to be positive that the good times have stopped rolling before they start shuttering law schools.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 10:48 AM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


(I can't remember off the top of my head whether the patent bar requires law school.)

It does not require law school. However, without law school and the bar, a member of the patent bar cannot litigate patents in court. But he can serve as a patent agent for all other purposes.
posted by deanc at 12:03 PM on August 21, 2015


Lawyers and doctors have protectionist guilds to enhance their incomes.

Well, that and these are professions with very high liabilities for poor outcomes, so it behooves their professional societies (and society as a whole) to restrict the number of candidates to those who are likely to perform well. Of course, we can (and regularly do) debate the relative quality of the professionals coming out of those two professional degrees, but a high bar to entry is (at least IMO) a good thing.

The high cost of medical school is also somewhat unlike the high cost of law school; it's really really expensive to train doctors (liability/malpractice insurance, supplies, etc), whereas I'd imagine it's less expensive to train lawyers.
posted by Existential Dread at 3:30 PM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Existential Dread: "Well, that and these are professions with very high liabilities for poor outcomes, so it behooves their professional societies (and society as a whole) to restrict the number of candidates to those who are likely to perform well. "

Law is also an unusual case because it both provides the state with its criminal justice apparatus (prosecutors, judges) and provides private access to the coercive power of the state for private citizens with disputes. Even lawyers in private practice are officers of the court and have an obligation to justice and the law.

So it's necessary (especially in common law countries, I'd argue) for lawyers to work under a fairly burdensome system of ethical rules, state regulations, malpractice insurance, and limitations to membership. It operates in a very strange hybrid space of public/private obligation and public/private regulation, and I think the special access of the legal profession to the coercive power of the state combined with the special responsibilities of attorney to represent another person's interests when standing before the law do necessitate an amount of professional regulation that I usually oppose, and a fairly high bar to entry. (I don't think law school is remotely the Platonic ideal of the best way to ensure high-quality lawyers, but I don't in theory oppose limiting and regulating the bar through fairly onerous requirements -- although ideally ones that are more fairly accessible to more people than upper-middle-class college kids.)

In general I think a higher bar for state court judges would help a lot. And a higher bar for cops. Anyone who has special access to the coercive power of the state should be held to a higher standard and winnowed out of the job -- or kept out in the first place -- if they can't perform it adequately.

(Interestingly, I had to take a way more serious oath and have to follow a much stricter code of ethics as a lawyer, than I did as an elected official, where there were two oaths, one of which was that I would discharge my duties to "the best of my ability" and the other was that I was not a communist. I took the first one but when they presented me the one about communism, I laughed and said, "I'm not taking that." Elected officials also don't have to take ethics training in my state, which is mandated for all state employees because of high-profile shenanigans by elected officials, because you can't override the will of the electorate over a small matter like refusing to learn the ethical code for your office. Which leads to the relatively absurd situation where elected officials skip ethics training because it's a pain in the ass and Department of Transportation flag-wavers have to spend four hours learning about how they shouldn't use their elected authority over contracts to assign state contracts to their family members. The whole training is "things Rod Blagojevich and members of the corrupt Illinois legislature did that you are not supposed to do, and since we can't require any of those people to go to ethics training we will make tens of thousands of state employees go to ethics training for matters that have absolutely no bearing on their jobs whatsoever. And then we will penalize university professors for taking the test faster than we have deemed ethical because they read too fast." True story.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:26 PM on August 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


In my head, this is me refusing to swear I'm not a communist. "WHY AREN'T YOU, BOB?"
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:34 PM on August 21, 2015


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