Monday, April 1, 2013

Opposition's Second Epistle: What Would Thomas Brennan Do? or How I Learned to Quit Worrying Because They Had It Worse in '52

Generic Law Scam Victims
1000 Unemployment Lane
Loserville, USA (probably California)

RE:  Thoughts Inspired by Easter

Greetings Reprobates:

One of the pervading themes of the New Testament is the idea that Christians should follow Christ's example, such as in 1 Peter 2:21 where the author notes that "Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps." (NIV)

One of the problems of legal education is that we don't have any Jesus-like figures in whose steps we can follow.  Abraham Lincoln comes close, but that pompous assbag didn't even bother going to law school, so he's hardly an example.  But if I had to propose anyone, it would be Thomas E. Brennan, the youngest-ever Michigan Supreme Court Justice and the law school revolutionary who spearheaded The Thomas Cooley Law School, which no doubt saved legal education from the depths of Old Testament hell.

I'm inspired to write this Epistle after reviewing a past comment Brennan apparently made on the ABA Journal's website (see cmt. 35) claiming that:

When I founded Cooley Law School 40 years ago, the powers that be in the American Bar Association did everything they could do to stop us.  The cry of “too many lawyers” has been raised by members of profession for decades. These are difficult times, but no worse than 1952 when I went to work for a law firm making less than my secretary and my wife who was a part time teacher. 

His apparent rise from penury to the Michigan Supreme Court to law school trailblazer inspired the living hell out of me (and it should you, too, bums!).  Everyone knows the story of Cooley - a small group of freedom fighters take down a Roman Empire-like oligarchy and save American justice.  But this tidbit about making so small of wages struck a chord, so I dug deeper and found a most inspiring story, and a perfect model for new graduates to launch themselves towards state supreme courts, so long as they pay their meager dues.

I found an extremely helpful interview Justice Brennan gave with Roger F. Lane back in 1991 (part one can be found here and part two can be found here).  In these interviews, we learn that Justice/Dean Brennan did much, much more than the average law graduate.  In fact, I'll let the justice speak for himself, skipping to the period around when he graduated law school:
  • "I was then [1952, age 23] working at Burton Abstract and Title Company as a loan closer, and I had decided to run for the state legislature."
  • "So anyway, I graduated from law school in 1952. I was then working at the Burton Abstract and Title Company. I took the bar examination that summer past and was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan in January, 1953. During 1953, I simply worked at the Burton Abstract and Title Company."
  • "Then in 1954, I ran for the state legislature again."
  • "[L]ate in 1954, I got a phone call from Bob Waldron... Bob had recently been elected to the legislature, had a small law office in downtown Detroit, was looking for an associate and was I interested...."
  • "On the first of January, 1955, I started into the law practice, just the two of us. We had a two-room office, one office for the lawyer and an outer office for the secretary. Of course, we didn't have a secretary, and I sat where the secretary would be whenever Bob was in town and when he wasn't in town, I could sit at the lawyer's desk. We would have secretaries from other law offices come in in the evening and do our typing for us and so on."
  • "I remember the first month in my law practice, I had been making $325.00/month working for the law firm of Kenney, Radom and Rockwell when I left at the end of 1954, and in my first month in the law practice, I grossed $950.00. My expenses were $240.00 so I took home or grossed around $700.00 which was twice what I had made working for Kenney, Radom and Rockwell."
  • "In 1955, I ran for the United States Congress."
  • "Then in 1957, I ran for Common Pleas Court Judge."
This is, without question, entirely doable for someone leaving law school today.  More pointed comments and questions for you sloths:
  • Are you running for public office?  Did you run four times before hitting age 30?
  • Notice that he worked at a title company at the time of his law school graduation.  Have you tried contacting such non-legal employers for possible employment while the market swings itself into more favorable positions?
  • His ending salary in 1954 from what I assume was his first law job equates to roughly $36,000, a downright paltry sum that almost no law graduate today actually works for.  Would you work for that much?
  • The next month he made the equivalent of $72,000 in a firm where he soon put his name on the door.  If you're stuck in a dead end, have you tried opening your own practice, or allying with someone working out of a small operation that's saving money by not having a full-time secretary?
The Justice's grand point, of course, was that, "these are difficult times, but no worse than 1952," and obviously a review of his life in the early-to-mid 50s shows little difference between then and now.  The one glaring thing that I notice is that he picked himself up by his bootstraps and worked for a living wage and became involved in the community by taking simple steps like running for Congress in his mid/late 20s.

This is a practical example you can follow, and given that he - a future state supreme court justice - was making the equivalent of $36,000 and most graduates today make in the upper $80s and $90s, I hardly think anyone has a cogent argument that there are "too many lawyers."  The market doesn't lie, you fools.  The market doesn't lie.

In fact, I would imagine that everyone with a similar five-year career opening (title co., collections-heavy firm, 2-man shop) today has an equal chance of waking up one day with a painting in the Supreme Court venerating several terms of excellent service.

And even if all else fails, remember that you can always follow his example and start your own law school and publicly claim ridiculous things like "These are difficult times, but no worse than 1952."  It may not be as profitable as it's been for Tom, but damn it, sometimes it's just a heap o' fun.

Truly yours,

-Law School Truth Center

PS.  If you bitter young lawyers want to see an example of how to handle oneself as an ethical, tribunal-respecting attorney, I encourage you to check out this story of Brennan's from his early time in practice:

[A]t one time when I was practicing, I [was] representing a doctor [in a small claims action for an unpaid bill]. A lawyer came in and represented him, Maurice Cherry...and he represented the patient, and I think the bill was $80.00. It wasn't worth the trouble to sue or certainly the trouble to have the doctor come down and yet the money was owed, so I used the Court rule for summary judgment...... 
[T]he Clerk came out with the file stamped that the motion was denied, and then I tried to get into see [the Judge]. "Why had he denied it? How could he deny the motion? We followed the Court rule." He wouldn't tell me. He wouldn't talk to me about it. He wouldn't respond, but he denied the motion and awarded $10.00 or $20.00 cost to the defendant.... 
[At trial,] I've got my client with me. Maurice Cherry is there. He doesn't have his client with him. The case is called [before a new judge, Kenney]. It's about to start and Cherry stands up and says, "Your Honor, before we begin, the counsel made a motion for summary judgment before Judge Liddy that was denied and Judge Liddy awarded my $10.00 in costs and the costs have not been paid. I don't think that I should be forced to defend this case until counsel and the plaintiff pay me my costs". Kenney says, "Pay him his costs. I'm not going to hear this case unless you pay him his costs". I said, "Your Honor, I should have won that motion, and we're about to try the case, and it's going to prove that I should have won the motion because he doesn't even have a witness with him". "Pay him the costs or I'm not going to hear the case". I took out my checkbook, and I wrote a check for $10.00 to Maurice Cherry and I handed it to him right there in open court.... 
[After winning at trial and being ignored and slighted by the small claims judge regarding the wrongful denial of the summary judgment] We were never going to collect a dime of this $80.00 from this deadbeat anyway, but I called the bank and stopped payment on the check, so I at least saved the $10.00....[The boss] came into my office a month later, and he said, "You stopped payment on a check you gave to a lawyer in open court?" I said, "I sure did". He said, "You can't do that. That's unethical". I said, "The hell it is. What's unethical is this lying son of a [expletive] that comes into court and defends when he hasn't got a defense and doesn't file an affidavit of merits when the court rule requires him to do so and then insists that he won't go forward until I pay the costs that he is not entitled to." "Well, I never heard of such a thing, stopping payment on a check to another lawyer". I said, "Well, sue me." I understood years later that [the boss] made up the $10.00 to this guy Maurice Cherry, but they never got it out of me.
It's surely things like this that got him rapidly elevated in the super-crowded legal field.

P.S.S.  Where are we coming on those new applicants?!  Can we get a few thousand in a late rush?

The Law School Truth Center is a NNP (non-non-profit) dedicated to an alternate form of God's work. You can read more at its regular blog, which can be found at  It can be reached at lawschoolscam - at -  Thanks for reading.


  1. Right. Do you have any idea what it costs to run for public office? It's a closed system now days unless you want to run on behalf of some third party. And I guess he really showed a lot of respect for the system in how he paid the court costs. Good find.

  2. "What I find most ironic is that those individuals advertised themselves to law schools as great critical thinkers," [Michael C. Sullivan, a lawyer representing the schools] said of the law-grads-turned-litigants. "Now they say they never considered the possibility that employment might include part-time jobs."

    Law school graduates aren't finding much on the employment docket, Los Angeles Times,0,1312864.story

    1. This appears to be the tool here:

      Cal grad and "Mr. Sullivan served as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law for 12 years."

      What a dick. The *students* advertised themselves as great critical thinkers? Really? Why should it even take "great critical thinking" to decipher a school's advertisements?

  3. I do not write many remarks, but after browsing through some of the comments
    here "Opposition's Second Epistle: What Would Thomas Brennan Do? or How I Learned to Quit Worrying Because They Had It Worse in '52".
    I actually do have a couple of questions for you if you do not mind.
    Could it be simply me or do a few of these remarks look as
    if they are coming from brain dead individuals?
    :-P And, if you are posting on additional sites, I'd like to follow anything new you have to post. Could you make a list of the complete urls of your social pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

    my weblog: book ra testen

  4. Great commentary on the clueness caused by the generation gap.

    1. Yes, we don't live in a "knowledge economy" we live in a menial service economy.

  5. Sweet Jebus on a Cracker, why do all these "learned" men throw reason and experience out the window? How can they have lived for so long and yet have zero perspective on how life actually works for the majority of people? Like the world of 1952 was EXACTLY LIKE like the world of 1991 or 2013 IN EVERY ASPECT. Lol.

    Median income in 1952 - $3,900. Brennan was making median income straight out of law school, and it quickly doubled. Median income in 2009 was $50k, and today's grads would kill to make that, even they even get a job in the first place.

    Running for the legislature four times? Becoming a Judge? It sure helps to have friends in high places. Don't we all need a phone call from the "Bob Waldrons" of the world.

    Bitch, please.

    1. It's even better than that. He wasn't rich or from a rich background at all, but sure liked gambling with his family's well-being for his selfish ambitions.

      In 1952, he and wife sold a car and bought a house for 9800. Then (and try to hash this out):

      "the twins were born, Peggy and John were born in 1956. We were struggling. I had to give up my home, the house we bought. Polly went to work teaching. That was before the twins were born, and we rented an upper flat near Six Mile and Wyoming on Cherrylawn Street. We lived in that two bedroom upper flat when the twins were born so there we were with three children in a two bedroom upper flat. Then in 1957, I ran for Common Pleas Court Judge. Oh, I left something out. In 1954, I ran for the state legislature. In 1955, I ran for the United States Congress."

      So run for state legislature, run for Congress, get so broke trying to support your wife and 3 kids that you have to give up your house, run for judge. In 1958, he bought his mom's house for his now-four kids and - you guessed it - ran for judge again in 1959. After losing, again, "I remember waking up in the hotel room the next day and being very, very down and discouraged, being in debt and having to go back and rebuild my life and my law practice and so on."

      Yeah, law practice sucks, doesn't it?

      He was so down and depressed, he and wifey popped out baby no. 5 in 1960. And he runs for office again in 1961, finally winning.

      Can you say "financially irresponsible?" Can you say "deadbeat in 2013 reality, because there's no way he ever wins an election?"

    2. Exactly. Unless you're loaded, if you have five kids nowadays people are all "What are you doing? That's financially irresponsible!" The handful of people I know who have five kids or more have both parents work, and they have an army of nannys to bring it all together. In the 1950s, you could "get by" on one income, becuase the wife sacrificed any aspirations she may have had, if they could be realized in the first place. Sounds really great (sarcasm).

      You would think that after Brennan's trials and trevails, he would say "wow, it's tough out there, I feel for people trying to go down this path." Nope. It's "you damn kids get off my lawn!"

  6. Now, he would never get a judgeship without paying off the right people to get on the ballot. Also, he would never have survived with five kids by hanging out a shingle. Law skool factories have ended that opportunity with the eternal glut.