Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Erwin Chemerinsky, the "constitutional scholar" who recently argued a First Amendment case before the Supreme Court -- well, he tried to turn a non-First Amendment matter into one without success -- has been give access to a prominently placed long column in the New York Times.  He is pleading, groveling, for your money.  Without any evidence whatsoever, he tries to counterattack many of the suggestions for reform, including Obama's suggestion of killing the third year of law school (which Chemerinsky thinks should be devoted to even more "interdisciplinary" classes).

UC Irvine's law school must be doing poorly indeed if he is resorting to this level of shilling.  Read all about it:


Update: Campos attacks this column on LGM.


Update 2:  During the short period of open comments after this op-ed, the majority of people left negative remarks, discussed the fake employment statistics that the authors cited without a source, and drew attention to the financially self-serving shilling of the authors (and significant others).  It is refreshing to see the tide continue to turn.  The more we make our voices heard, the lower those application numbers will drop.

Update 3: Fun day today!  Oregon Law Professor Robert Illig complains about the consipracy to use his raise for hiring recent graduates to game the USNWR rankings -- not because it is unethical but because it deprives him of money!


AND the good lawprof is reading and answering some comments here if you'd like to give him a piece of your mind...since he seems to have no clue:


Get Yer LLMs While They're Hot!

Believe it or not, I'm really not trying to pick on anybody in particular. But "I get mail," and when I do it's hard not to respond to it.

We've discussed the not-so-value of LLMs and LLM look-a-likes before. In theory, they could provide some additional training and insight into a heretofore-unexamined area of law. Practically, the marketplace does not respond favorably to those who incurred the expense of yet-another degree, unless the student had their success in-tow prior to enrollment. And, of course, these LLMs ain't free, you know.

However, this does not prevent the powers-that-be from trying to convince desperate, once-bitten, twice-shy law graduates from regressing back to lemming-dom and accepting the logical leap between "if you buy X from us, then you will receive Y from the universe at-large" mode of thinking, as seen below:

Sounds like prosperity theology to me, with a hunk of "Act Now! Supplies are going fast!" thrown in. Come, lay your additional sacrifice of time and treasure at this altar, which didn't work too well before, of course, but hey, who's keeping score anyway? Get prepared for "practice-ready", "advantaged", "marketability" with improved "earnings" and "promotions." There are eight, count 'em, eight different LLMs! It's a veritable Baskin-Robbins of legal-flavored goodness! Do them online, in the comfort and convenience of your own home! CBA members get 20% off, doncha know.  Heck, other loser law schools only offer three or four LLMs...we've got eight!  The most in Chicago!

Just be sure to thank JMLS with a sizable donation check when that Estate Planning LLM rockets you into the stratosphere of legal success. I suspect, though, that YMMV. I don't know of that many Boomers with "estates" that need serious planning in this economic environment, let alone Gen-Xers, but who cares!?! I don't run in the "right" circles, clearly. As the right circles tend to be the domain of the LawProf, maybe that explains the difference in perspective.

Friends, the facade is cracking. It just isn't about what people say it's about, and that is both frustrating and fear-inducing to the law schools. They have always been dependent on a fresh supply of students, but that low-hanging fruit has already been picked. The Truffula Trees have all been chopped down, to use a classic Dr. Seuss reference, and now the Once-lers are all scratching their heads wondering what to do next. Clearly, planting new trees was out of the question. Now, almost nobody wants a new Thneed, nor could they afford one at the asking price, or the "discounted" price. It's done.

Zerohedge says it best, as this has more to do than just with LLMs and Law School:

In this economic environment, it doesn't matter how smart, how educated or how experienced you are. If you are out of work, it can be extremely difficult to find a new job. Just consider the case of Abe Gorelick...

Abe Gorelick has decades of marketing experience, an extensive contact list, an Ivy League undergraduate degree, a master’s in business from the University of Chicago, ideas about how to reach consumers young and old, experience working with businesses from start-ups to huge financial firms and an upbeat, effervescent way about him. What he does not have — and has not had for the last year — is a full-time job.
Five years since the recession ended, it is a story still shared by millions. Mr. Gorelick, 57, lost his position at a large marketing firm last March. As he searched, taking on freelance and consulting work, his family’s finances slowly frayed. He is now working three jobs, driving a cab and picking up shifts at Lord & Taylor and Whole Foods.

So what does Abe need in order to find a decent job?

More education?
More experience?
No, what he needs is an economy that produces good jobs.


Clearly, people like Gorelick just need to "work harder" and "network." 

0Ls, non-trads, please: turn back before its too late. There are no easy solutions, but there are some easy answers: avoid law school.

Monday, April 14, 2014

News Roundup: Buffalo and UNC Having Issues

Buffalo Law School Offers Faculty Buyouts
Money Quote: “The school had 1,149 applicants this year, a 50 percent decline from the 2,304 applications it received in 2008—the most dramatic drop in the state during that period, according to the American Bar Association.”

'After the J.D.' Study Offers Weak Evidence of J.D.'s Value
Money Quote: “The not-so-good news is that as of 2012, only a minority of respondents were still in private practice, and roughly one in four had left the practice of law entirely (by contrast, most respondents were in private practice in 2003).”

UNC’s law school receives fewer applications
Money Quote: “Michael States, assistant dean for admissions of the UNC School of Law, said the decrease in exclusivity is mainly due to a declining number of applicants.”

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Solo Path (Update)

Some of our readers may have noticed the absence of myself and Dybbuk (albeit for very different reasons).  Until our most prolific author returns, I am trying to find the time during the evenings to start posting regularly again.  I do not promise quality writing, but hopefully you find my plight entertaining.

The amount of time that I work leaves me with little free time for writing full-length posts about carefully considered topics.  I just finished the first year of taxes where I actually made enough money to pay $4k to the state and feds.  The amount of time and energy devoted to basic survival is another aspect of the law school scam—the marginally employed recent graduates have the least amount of time and resources to fight the law school propaganda machine because they must expend all energy to tread water.

I am a good example of this bind.  I enjoy the 35% of my 60-70 hour weeks that I spend on actual lawyering, but the rest is hard as hell.  “The rest” is the stuff that I have to do before I get to the lawyering.  Most of it involves promoting myself, performing well, and getting more clients.  Yet, I started taking cases as a solo practitioner not for the purpose of running a makeshift practice from a bedroom for years and years and not for the purpose of constantly commuting 3 hours a day between six courthouses and/or chasing down clients for money.  Instead, I took solo cases to gain a high degree of specific short-term experience for possible jobs.  (Note to others: starting a solo practice is not a good way to get short-term experience).

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

News Roundup: Robot Lawyers, Merit Scholarships and Law School Rankings

Here come the robot lawyers
Money Quote: “But lots of legal work is already being computerized by some firms, including the drafting of simple contracts and the search for evidence in reams of documents.”

Comparing Law School Rankings? Read The Fine Print
Money Quote: “But the US News rankings don’t consider who employs the graduates, so long as they’re employed in a professional position. Some schools have been , and rising in the rankings.”

The Ethics Of Law School Merit Scholarships
Money Quote: “The upshot of all this is that, at most law schools, price discrimination results in poorer, less well-educated students “subsidizing” (paying higher tuition than) richer, better-educated students. “

Monday, April 7, 2014

A report from New America sheds light on graduate school debt

The drumbeat of criticism of the federal government's policy on the financing of college and graduate school education hit a new pitch with the release of the excellent report from New America.  New America identifies itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy institute, and is funded by grants from various organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. 

The conclusion that New America's makes is that the debt crisis in America's graduate education should be separated from problems stemming from America's undergraduate education, even though many media accounts seemingly equate them.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the report is the figures themselves.  When law schools report debt figures to US News and World Report, they report the total amount of debt that a student has accrued while in law school, sans interest.  However, the debt levels that New America reports on include the total debt that a graduate has at the point they completed their degree.  In other words, a law graduate's undergraduate debt, law school debt, and interest on the two would count.

Friday, April 4, 2014

No More Making Fun of International Space Law

So there I was, bored last Sunday morning, looking for something to write about.  I pulled up Google and tried the usual search terms.  A personal favorite of mine, "Indiana Tech Law School," turned up nothing again - they're keeping a rather low profile recently - so I turned my attention to space law, an oft-cited exciting new area of law that is exploding with opportunities for law grads.  Could space law be the new international law, the hot practice area of the 2000s which failed to materialize?

And I found not just space law, but international space law.

Yup, I stumbled upon the website for the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs, an organization that has pages devoted to international space law.  So no more teasing people who want to get into this hot area of practice.  It's legit.  International space law.  Who'd have thought it even possible?

And then there's organizations such as the International Institute of Space Law, which seems to be more concerned with padding the resumes of the space lawyers involved than with actually doing much space lawyering.

According to this article, space law is poised to become the savior of the entire legal profession:

America's struggling legal business, once a high-flying profession whose leaders could bill $1,000 per hour, may be turning the corner, thanks to developments both earthly and unearthly.
Reading on:

In addition, the industry is now preparing for the rise of increased demand for a new kind of legal service ... a demand that comes from outer space. 

Consider this: Commercial spaceflights may take off from the New Mexico desert next year with Virgin Galactic, and Planetary Resources is planning to mine near-Earth asteroids for minerals in less than 10 years. Which jurisdiction adjudicates a mishap in orbit? What if two satellites collide? Who pays the bill? And who exactly has an enforceable claim to minerals on an asteroid? Which parties bear responsibility if mining debris in orbit crashes into a satellite or falls to Earth and trashes a building or kills people?

The prospect of such disputes -- which are closer than many realize -- is fueling the creation of space law and programs that focus on space law.

Er, okay?  Then there's this article:

Ambulance chasing only gets you so far. Hitching a ride, metaphorically speaking, on rockets funded by private corporations seeking fortunes beyond Earth's atmosphere is where it's at for eager legal pioneers.

There are stellar opportunities for lawyers specializing in space exploration. Space law is quickly becoming an integral part of the evolving aerospace industry. These lawyers exist in a tightly knit industry that deals with all kinds of practical issues and some that seem cribbed from science fiction. Depending on whether the space lawyer is in private practice or academia, he or she could handle anything from liability laws pertaining to litigious space tourists to the legal framework surrounding human encounters with E.T.

...and so on and so forth.

So how can students get a foot in the door of this practice area?  Well, there's a handy little document published on the UNOOSA site which details the opportunities for education in this area of law.  They could study at places such as GWU, with its tuition of a mere $44,000.  Maybe that hotbed of advanced science and forward thinking, Mississippi, where the JD with a concentration in "Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law" (wow!) is a drop in the bucket at almost $21,000 per year.

Nebraska?  You can get a JSD in space law for a total tuition cost of $60,000.  And in Houston, the one semester program costs $17,000.  Houston, you have a problem!

So once you've spent your fifty or sixty grand (maybe twice that at some places when all is said and done) on your qualification in space law from a US university, five to ten times more expensive than comparable qualifications from overseas, let's take a look at some of the opportunities that await.

After much searching, just about the only thing about space law that I couldn't find were job openings for space lawyers.  Surely I must be mistaken?  Not trying hard enough perhaps?

Looking in Martindale for space lawyers, there are about 130 in the US.  The vast majority of these lawyers practiced space law in conjunction with many other areas of law - presumably ones that made money and allowed them the luxury of pretending to be space lawyers on the side.

"Wait," I hear the law schools cry.  "There's clearly a huge unmet need for space lawyers.  See how few of them there are?"

Don't fall into the trap.  There are only 130 space lawyers in the US because there's not enough work for more than 130 space lawyers.  I bet there's not enough work to support 13 full-time space lawyers, let alone 130, given the fact that most of them list many other practice areas in their bios.  (Note that there are many lawyers who work for space-related agencies and companies - NASA, Hughes, Intelsat, SpaceX, etc. - but they are not space lawyers; they are corporate lawyers, litigators, compliance attorneys, HR practitioners, the usual in-house types.  Working for a space-related company is not the same as being a space lawyer.)

To put this into perspective, other pie-in-the-sky vanity practice areas had the following hits in Martindale:

Entertainment - 7,464
Sports - 2,846
International - 16,952
Animal - 1,190
Restaurant - 405
Art - 325

And to put those figures into perspective, here's the Martindale numbers for some normal practice areas (all of which half of all law grads can't even get into):

Corporate - 106,972
Real estate - 113,733
Litigation - 243,788

For every space lawyer out there, there's an astronomical 1,000 real estate lawyers, and 2,000 litigators.  And 57 entertainment lawyers.

Attending law school with the goal of obtaining any law job is risky, given the fact that half of all law grads end up as unemployed lawyers.  Trying to narrow that down and obtain a job in a particular area of law is even riskier, whether it's litigation or corporate work, or some finer subcategory thereof.  But spending $50K on a higher law degree to obtain a job in a practice area that even art and animal lawyers consider to be a niche?  An area of law that is 1,000 times less common than real estate law, and 2,000 times less common than litigation?  Insanity.  Utter insanity, especially when considering the out-of-this-world cost of a US degree in space law.

As an interesting footnote to all of this, on my travels I did find one attorney listed on Martindale whose practice is like a law applicant's dream career.  Richard F. Martz, Jr., of Niceville, FL, manages to practice not only space law, but international law, arts and cultural heritage law, entertainment and music law, and sports law.  Clearly, a very, very busy man, probably very rich too with all those music stars and Oscar winners in his lobby each morning.  I can imagine being his secretary:

"Sorry, Mr. Joel, Richard is busy this morning with Tiger Woods.  And this afternoon he's booked up with Kevin Spacey and LeBron James.  Tomorrow?  Let me see...he can fit you in between Tony Blair and Bill Clinton at nine thirty, or at four in the afternoon right before Neil Armstrong.  Does that work?"