Monday, February 25, 2013

The Only Winning Move is Not to Play

Even WOPR gets bored doing Document Review.

Props to the commenters at ILSS:

When I was applying to law schools in 1982 many people cautioned me that the market was glutted. Indeed, I only applied to schools that are now on the USNWR top 20 list, figuring the employment odds coming out of lesser schools were just too bad to justify the risk. After all, I graduated from law school with a whopping $10,500.00 in student loans that I had to pay off! Thirty years later you cannot tell me that anyone teaching or administering at ANY law school doesn't know what the score is.

And here's more. Last summer 16 graduates of UMass-Dartmouth Law School took the Connecticut bar exam and 14 of them failed it. Of the 16, 8 were taking it FOR THE THIRD TIME and only one of those 8 passed. The overall pass rate for first-time takers was 83% and for third time takers it was 33%.

UMass has to know this. How can they say with a straight face that they are not luring naive college students of limited abilities into a trap with visions of a glamorous career, knowing that 7 out of 8 might never pass a bar exam? What is their justification? That they are just ruining people's lives in the short term until they build up their reputation and attract better students?

I'm someone who graduated from law school in the 1970s, and I can say that law school faculty have always been somewhere between utterly indifferent and outright hostile to the fate of the vast majority of their students - only those at or near the top of the class (top 10% .... as they themselves had been) were considered worthy of attention and support.

But it didn't matter then the way it does now - law school was far far less expensive then, and student loans, to the limited extent they existed, were dischargable in bankruptcy.

Only a fraction of my class (25%?)went on to make long term careers as lawyers, but no one's life was wrecked as a result of spending 3 years in law school.


But law school faculty willfully ignore that fact. From their point of view, the large majority of their students who have never made careers as lawyers don't deserve too. As long as their law school produces a small % of winners, they're doing their job correctly. But the hundreds of thousands of lives wrecked that the current set-up has produced should and hopefully will come back to haunt them soon.

Law schools sell neither practical lawyering skills nor the ability to "think like a lawyer."

No, they sell hope. They sell hope to gullible 0Ls. They sell hope to the naive who believe that educators are altruistic. They sell hope to those who believe in the educational establishment. They sell hope to everyone who ever watched To Kill a Mockingbird or Judgment at Nuremberg or Law and Order and thought, "ain't lawyering a great way to make a living."

In the last few years, it's become clear that there is little hope for this profession. When the probability of a "good" outcome for a would be applicant falls from 1 in 2 or 1 in 3 students to 1 in 50 or 1 in 100 students, there ceases to be any meaningful distinction between selling hope and outright fraud.

Law schools, you're selling lottery tickets, very expensive lottery tickets knowing damn well that almost no one will win. And unlike the poor sons of bitches who buy scratch-offs for $1 to $5 each, your lottery ticket costs $100,000 to $200,000 each, and it's backed by the taxpayer.

You, law faculty, are horrible people. You are shameful parasites who sell lies to the naive.

There is not much to add here, except to sum up: ignore the increasingly desperate pleas of the law schools cartel and related industries (ABA, NALP, USN&WR), as the lies will only continue to compound as their self-interest continues to rise.  There will be no educational and financial reform coming in the near future, if at all.  Consequently, the only rational response for at least 90% of applicants is to not get yourself mired with an overly-expensive, under-performing law degree, just so university deans and professors can enjoy summer sabatticals, private schools and vacation homes while pumping out make-work.  Mutually-assured-distruction, long foretold, has finally come full-circle.

Heckuvajob, lol skool cartel!  Mission accomplished!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Voice of Experience

"The problem with you people," says the law school cartel, "is that you have no concept for the value of what we're offering.  A JD is a valuable and versatile investment that more than pays for itself.  Further, you embark upon a voyage of discovery of legal scholarship while defending liberty, pursuing justice, and being the instrument of change.  This is not about something so pedestrian or philistine as a job, but a life-long pursuit."

Or:  "Problems in the legal arena now are due to the Great Recession, and not due to any JD over-production or other claimed systemic issues.  Why, back as early as 2005, law-graduates were well sought after and commanded high salaries." 

Some would beg to differ...

As 7:13 PM well put it, "Law is a mirage; there is no oasis there." I speak from what I have observed over 20 years as a patent lawyer. Patent law was a great field, not yet flooded, 20 years ago when I entered, still a veritable ladies and gentlemen's club where professionals treated one another largely with respect. That is perhaps the way the practice of law generally was 50 years ago. Patent law has changed as the field became flooded. It is now not civil, cut throat, mean spirited, filled with lies and deceit as people stumble over one another looking for paying clients.

Law is a mirage. It has been an illusion that you could long term make a decent living as a lawyer for at least 25 years. I know. I have seen what happens in the long term even to those who get a good start. Moreover, that mirage and illusion has been kept alive by the untruthful, deceitful lies of the law school industry regarding employment statistics. Only a complete fool would buy a law degree at any price these days. The work continues to decline, and the competition for what exists continues to increase.

Nando, I want to thank you again for soldiering on in this crusade against the plague known as the law school scam. I graduated law school in 1991 and despite having worked in Biglaw, in-house and Midlaw, I consider myself a failure in life. Sometimes I wish I had never gone to law school.

Let me give you a State of the Union Address on the legal "profession." The market is GLUTTED. PAYING clients are harder to come by. No one wants to pay for legal services anymore. I never imagined 22 years out of law school I would be hitting the pavement hustling for clients who are nickel and diming my fees because the law schools graduate kids who don't know how to practice law and undercut on fees.

It is harder to make a buck as a lawyer these days. Sometimes I feel like Mad Max and I am in Thunderdome struggling to preserve my life. Is this a way to live? Do the lemmings who read the NYTimes and think "wow, I can sneak into GULC this cycle" believe they have a shot of getting it all? I went to law school at a time when it was cheap. I had no student loan debt. I had excellent credit. I bought nice homes, bought a $90K car and been married three times. Yet the law did something to me. It made me a fucking douche, it made me a monster, it created a hunger for money. The difference between me and a greedy law school dean is that I actually bust my ass 70-80 hours a week to make 40% of what that cocksucking dean at New England Law School makes a year. He gets a raise because he gives Chief Justice Roberts a paid jaunt in Malta for the summer. Did I get a raise? NO, I got Obamacare costs. I got higher payroll costs. I may have to cut staff and their hours to avoid Obamacare liability. Meanwhile these son of a bitch deans and law professors host wine and cheese "lectures" and talk about the state of the legal economy and how it is poised to make a comeback. What do these fuckers know? They are not on the frontlines like I am. They are isolated on their ivory perches and so disconnected from reality.

I stopped giving money to my law school. Two years ago, the new dean of my law school called me and asked me if I would put $10K on a banquet table to sponsor a fundraiser. I told the dean to go fuck himself and hung up. I never got a call from my alma mater again. I wish I could hit that motherfucker in the snout but telling him to go fuck himself felt good.

I do not know why anyone would want to be a lawyer today. I would rather be a plumber or a cop than be a hack in a suit. Lawyers are disrespected nowadays by every segment of society. Cops hate lawyers. Judges hate lawyers. Joe Sixpack hates lawyers. So why are people willing to still in this day, become a debt slave so you can hustle everyday to land a non-paying client and get no respect from society? It just doesn't make any fucking sense to throw your future away by subsidizing these motherfucking law school deans, professors and administrators who are living high on hog. Stop the madness and starve the beast.

Douglas Oglesby Wrote:

I graduated from a top 10 law school in 1971. I have many years' experience at executive levels in very large corporations and been a senior counsel and partner in major law firms. The legal profession is manifestly in need of major reform and fewer lawyers. Much of the work done by lawyers is routine and, with adequate supervision by an experienced lawyer, could be performed by an accomplished paralegal. Many of the lawyers I have seen in small firms and solo practices are incapable of performing anything other than routine, mundane legal tasks, and indeed, a large number are simply incompetent. The ABA and state bar associations serve little purpose other than to ensure a closed shop to preserve the market for law school graduates.

The last thing the profession needs are more law schools graduating more mediocre lawyers.

Non-trads, the future is bleak, despite the law school cartel's hand-waving and denial of structural changes within the industry.  Don't listen to the people who don't actually do the work; listen to those who do and then decide.

JD's are not worth the price tag, nor is the make-work legal "scholarship" that is funded by it.  If you must seek further education, put your hard-earned cash towards something else.

Friday, February 1, 2013

"Go Back to Square One"

Paul Campos does a nice rebuttal to Justice Sotomayor's admonition that unhappy law grads should just "go back to square one," as if it's no big thang, like buying a new suit or changing a hair style.  He uncovers the fact that her own journey was much, much less rosy, and that confirmation bias and revisionist-history can abound even in the most thoughtful of people who should seemingly "know better," or at least be much more sympathetic, given their knowledge base.

However, the comment from JoeJones in that article speaks volumes to me, and I suspect to many others:

"let them eat cake," is the wisdom from Queen Sonia, it would seem.

Hey, Queen Sonia, can I please go back to square one, back to 2005, when I researched the job and salary stats put out by the law schools and decided that going to law school at the age of 48 was a good decision. Graduated near the top of my class, but could not get an interview. Went solo and lost my life savings. 

What about me, Queen Sonia? How can I be made whole after losing everything to the law school scammers?

By the way, Queen Sonia, have you ever taken money from a law school for, saying, an appearance or for teaching classes? If so, then you are a hypocrite, in addition to being an unelected imperial queen (one of 9) that rules america without having to care about the needs and desires and opinions of us proles.

Let us scammed law grads eat cake, eh. Go back to your palace, Queen Sonia. But I hope someday the crowds will gather outside and give the washington elite what they deserve.

To all the critics, personal-responsiblity types and the law school shills: the problem runs much deeper than you know or care to acknowledge.  These are real people, with real lives, who are burdended with real difficulties of whom you make light.  As hard as it may be for you to imagine, your "success" stories are the exception, not the rule.  If only we all had friends in high places, perhaps we could then also afford to be so cavalier in our responses. 

But, this is always been the attitude of those who receive priviledge in one form or another, as history has borne witness time and time again.  The sooner this travesty ends (step one: eliminate half the lol skools so as to avoid further increased collateral damage), the better everyone will be.

Non-trads, don't take it from me, take it from all the other non-trads whom I quote on this blog as evidence of the real, tangible risk you take by attending law school. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Student Loan Defaults at 15%

Offered without comment:

OK, I lied, here's some commentary because I can't not go on about this:  The lol skool shills will go on and on about how "this is across all student loans, not specifically law grads" and  "law is a lifetime career" and the other old, tired canards.


“This situation is simply unsustainable and we’re already suffering the consequences,” Andrew Jennings, chief analytics officer of Fair Issac, said in the statement. “When wage growth is slow and jobs are not as plentiful as they once were, it is impossible for individuals to continue taking out ever-larger student loans without greatly increasing the risk of default.”

Wage growth is slow, in the legal industry, no less?  Jobs not as plentiful?  What?  Oh, right, cf. 2013 Citi/Hildebrandt, for example.  Guess the lol skools have been getting that whole "valuable, versatile law degree" thing wrong for some time now.  Sure, Deans and profs can point to all kinds of success stories - the "in" crowd always does well.  For the average Joe, however, who makes up the other 95% of the class, there's MasterCard.

Out of the billions of dollars of defaulted loans (remember, for those keeping score at home, total student loan debt is at $1 trillion), there are at least, I don't know, one or two law grads in that number.  At least.  Considering that a law degree costs $150k plus expenses.  And that JDs have been overproduced 2-to-1 to available jobs for decades.

The lol skool cartel's response?  Fire groundskeepers and maintenance staff.  Accredit new law schools.  Add more to the "ever-larger" tuition bills, every year, at four times the rate of inflation.

Non-trads, look at the thousands who have gone before you - look at the comments of other non-trads who have been through the wringer on this blog and on other sites.  Look at the increasing volume of student loan defaults.  Don't waste your hard earned money and savings on something where the law schools are growing ever desperate.  The law school scam is going from red-hot to white-hot.  Stay away at all costs.

Monday, January 28, 2013

More and More Students Avoiding Law School

"Work Pro Bono!  Defend Liberty!  Pursue Justice!  Pay tuition! no attention to the employment statistics behind the curtain...!  Ignore the Dean/Professor salaries...!   Come back, you ungreatful wretches...!" 

Well, it was bound to happen.  You just can't have this level of bad outcomes and think no one is going to respond to it.  The invisible hand of the market works, even in academia.

And it was necessary.  Many, many sites have been calling attention to the ever-increasing rise of tuition, the bi-modal distribution of salaries, the less-than-frank employment statistics, and systemic JD overproduction.  Student loan totals kept going higher and higher, default rates increased, large law firms let go of thousands of attorneys.  The legal jobs market continues to be a cesspool of too many graduates chasing too few jobs.

The generalized response to these whistleblowers early on (as is always the case) was that jobless, debt-ridden graduates were entitled losers that needed to buck up and go get a job, for crissakes.   Go “network” or something.  Move to an “underserved” state, like Nebraska.  Be willing to work for free…no one is going to hand you a job on a silver platter (well, unless you know the right people at the start, of course).  You have to want it bad enough and be willing to make your own way. 

However, the truth could not be swept under the rug.  Then tactics changed…the deans and profs began to write multiple op-eds about how great an investment a law degree was, how “versatile” a law degree was.  The theme came back to being defenders of liberty and servants to the community.  How law was a long-term vocation that lead to a satisfying life.  Of course tuition couldn’t be reduced…you can’t train the next generation of legal saviors on the cheap, you know.   But, we’ll play games with LSAT scores, “scholarships,” and what-not to keep the students coming in.  Recently, Citi/Hildebrandt opined that structural changes in the legal world are here to stay, with significant downward pressure on firm profits for many years to come, but let’s not pay too much attention to that as it conflicts with the “valuable law degree” and “preparing leaders” worldview.  Keep outsourcing that doc review to India.

"Wait, so you're saying that 98% of your graduates have jobs requiring a JD, nine months after graduation.  At an average salary of $135k?"

However, it appears that declines in applications are down anywhere from 10 to 30 percent, depending on the school (we’ll leave the matching of the percent-decline to the school as an exercise for the reader).  Apparently, you can’t fool all of the people all of the time, even prospective law students.  Professor Merritt (Ohio State) states that “I would be surprised to see applications go up again, unless there are major changes in the legal industry.” 

What the lol skool cartel can’t seem to understand, despite their tone-deaf attempts to deny the obvious, data-driven truth, is that this not a failure of the students – it is the failure of the entire model of legal education.  Upton Sinclair put it this way, in The Jungle:

They were of the triumphant and insolent possessors; they had a hall, and a fire, and food and clothing and money, and so they might preach to hungry men, and the hungry men must be humble and listen! They were trying to save their souls--and who but a fool could fail to see that all that was the matter with their souls was that they had not been able to get a decent existence for their bodies?

If a few people get great results, and the vast majority are consigned to debt-slavery, then you are a willing, complicit part of the problem, not the solution.  Until these “major changes” come along (don’t hold your breath), the only winning move is not to play.  Remember, all you “sophisticated consumers,” our learned court system has told us how to evaluate law school claims: caveat emptor.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


This commenter hits the nail on the head, from ITLSS.  I share this because the lol skools hammer this selling point hard with non-trads:

(8) You can do a lot of things with a law degree besides practice law.

Let's first redefine "a lot of things with a law degree" to the intended result for an average graduate. You can do a lot of PAYING things with a law degree. For example a law degree qualifies me to do all kinds of volunteer work, which unfortunately does not earn me any money.

Let's also subtract graduates of Harvard and Yale law schools from our sample of law school graduates, since such law degrees are much more likely to produce flexable career results, which are not typical for the rest of the profession. i.e. the signaling value from a graduate program from these two Ivy League law programs, is far stronger, then almost all the other law schools, though I suppose people could argue about Stanford or the University of Chicago or Columbia. These Harvard and Yale are approximately 1% of our law school sample.

If you apply for a job that does not require a law degree from almost any other law school you then have to deal with the standard question. "Is he more argumentative then the rest of our applicants?" "Is he more likely to sue?" "Is he more likely to jump back into the law". and my favorite, "I don't care what he brings to the table, since my contested divorce I've hated all lawyers!" Given the economy its far easier for the HR department to simply exclude the lawyer from the non-legal job, and instead take no risk, by choosing all the obvious round pegs for the round employment openings they need to fill.

Let's collectively call this the JD disadvantage.

Now perhaps, in a small minority of cases, Catbert the HR director actually prefers JD holders over non JD holders for a job that does require such a degree. Perhaps there is something in his or her background that influences this choice.

However, I do not need to prove that a JD is ALWAYS a disadvantage when applying for a job that does not require such a degree, I am only arguing that the majority of the time, based admittedly on antidotal evidence that JD Disadvantage exists, and that the applicant would have been more likely to have obtained that non-legal job, with a degree other then a JD.

Straight up, anonymous.  Be sure you bring copious backing and connections before taking the dive, non-trads.  (How the 20-something set is supposed to have these without family money is unclear to me, but hey...versatile JD blah blah blah). 

As the learned courts have told us regarding law school claims: cavaet emptor.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Profs protest too much...

Sigh.  'Nuff said, really:

"Looking for a low-stress job? Being a full-time university professor is the least stressful career for 2013, according to jobs site

"Professors are kings of their kingdoms," said Tony Lee, publisher of and "They tell students what they must do." '

Of course, get ready for the legal-ese reply:  "But, law professors are not the typical university professor, so this does not apply." 

Nope, they certainly aren't.  Considering that they make twice as much as the average professor in the article above, it's no wonder they defend their legal prestidigitations as opposed to say, well, caring about student outcomes.  Meh.  The former is fun navel-gazing, the latter is, well, what can you do?  The market heals all.

With rare exceptions (e.g. Tamanaha, Campos), the law profs are certainly more concerned with declining student enrollments and propping up their failed model, where law graduates are overproduced 2-to-1 to available jobs

Don't get embroiled in this quagmire.  Non-trads, cavaet emptor.

EDIT:  Sigh.  'Nuff said, part Deux:

"What Is This Really About?

There is a very important and distinct difference between "knowing that" and "knowing how," with the crux of the distinction being the difference between this initiative and that vast swath of modern academia. "Know that" is a function of rote memorization of static information, passed down from the Prussian method of education implemented over 200 years ago and still common use today and "know how" is basically understanding of how to get things done...

"Know how" is what has separated the labor intensive low margin industries of the far east from the Intellectual Property rich industries found in the US, at least until now. After decades of toiling in an antiquated teaching system producing a legions of leveraged "know that" recipients who then seek "know how" in the work force (basically asking employers to pay to learn on the job what they should have learned from school) to pay off or compensate for hundreds of thousands of dollars of tuition bills and debt, the US is finally paying the piper for its lackadaisical approach to real education. Asian companies such as Samsung are actually outperforming their sterling US counterparts such as Apple in both product capability, product quality and even market share. In order to stem this tide, true "know[ledge] how" must become - once again - the aim, goal and accomplishment of the education system, similar to the apprenticeships of old."

Law School is "know that," non-trads, not "know how."  Lol skools are scrambling to demonstrate the link between "valued, versatile JDs" and the marketplace, but they just can't come up with it - maybe because the model is 100+ years old.  "Know that" is not worth the $150k+ price-tag in today's economy.  It just isn't.  Thus, the reliance on graduates with connections who can score their own on-the-job training.  See?  It worked for this handful of students!  The rest of you....well...."network," or something.

Most people assume (understandably) that your legal education is teaching you how to actually practice law, thus the collective head-scratching by the populace-at-large regarding swarms of unemployed or underemployed JDs, who struggle to pay the bills if they even have a job.  The Wizard of LOLZ will bellow otherwise about ungreatful JDs and how Law School is not crass vocational training for obtaining filthy lucre, but by all means do not ignore "The Man" behind the curtain. The price tag is just too high.