Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hug-A-Boomer

I have read a few recent posts, including one from Campos, about the clueless boomers.  I have written about the boomers myself in some of my earlier posts (see “Grey Dawn”).  As time passes, and the scams of the Legal-Education Industrial Complex become less of a controversial culture-shock and more of a common understanding, I have seen more posts and comments by the silent majority of boomer lawyers who hate the scam as much as the rest of us.  Even Thane Messinger has recently come out of the closet.

I am happy to see more boomers break their silence.  When we hear from them, it is easier to understand that many of them face similar problems.  Well, maybe not similar to the younger generation, but the financial problems are comparable in magnitude. 

Most of the “Gen X/Y” lawyers and ex-lawyers are drowning in debt with no foreseeable out.  Similarly, many of the boomer lawyers have not ended up where they thought they would at the end of their lawyer journey.  Many have seen their salary stagnate or even decrease over the years.  Many have resorted to the solo-by-default floundering that many of us newer lawyers face.  While boomers enjoy certain systemic advantages due to their connections and control of the bar associations, they still face the endless hordes of new lawyers spilling out of the endless law schools that keep opening.  While us younger lawyers were sold the bill of goods about our profession being a stable place to work, the boomers actually experienced this stability (more or less) at one point but slowly had the rug pulled out as the law schools threw all commonsense to the wind.

I have been one of those new lawyers that have felt antipathy toward the boomers because they at least have experienced some form of long-term employment.  Their gripes can feel disingenuous because often their complaints have less to do with total desperation relating to unemployment and more to do with not making enough to keep the big house, the private school tuition for kids, the vacations, and all of the other boomer-entitlements.

However, this view leaves out the many realities that countless boomers face as the Legal-Education Industrial Complex churns out more desperate lawyers that can replace experienced lawyers for a fraction of the salary.  Even worse, most older lawyers do not have much versatile experience, as they tended to specialize in one specific aspect of law, and many have never litigated.  So, getting another job or going solo can sink them in the same way that it sinks most new graduates.

Even some of our successful boomers that visit this site (like JeffM) make good money but never talk about familial obligations.  I am curious if JeffM would sing such a positive tune if he was putting three kids through school, paying for family vacations, etc.  I have never heard him speak of his personal life, and he may not be uncommon.  Sometimes, I get the impression that the most successful boomers did not buy into the scam of living the suburban family life and committing to the debt obligations that come with it (real estate and college and whatnot).

With more boomers speaking out, change will be more likely, as boomers still hold disproportionate power over the political process.  Yes, it will be slow and incremental because the 1% of boomers running the show will fight all change tooth and nail, whether they do so in their capacity as judges, bar officers, politicians, or professors/scam deans.  It is important to develop this coalition and remember that many of the boomers—perhaps most—got screwed as well.  Perhaps they did not get screwed in precisely the same way as us, but the end result is similar.  No money, no way out.

So, next time you see a scam dean like Nick Allard targeting boomers, promising a second law career to replace a first pre-recession career, remember that so many of these boomers have fallen into the same mousetrap as the rest of us. 

53 comments:

  1. Great post! Blaming the Boomers has become a distraction for the law school reform movement. A lot of this has to do with generational angst, and the understandable urge to blame those who seem to be doing better than we are.

    It's not the Boomers that are screwing us, it's structural changes in our economy that we are woefully unprepared for. They have been hit just as hard as we have, just in different ways.

    It might be fun to beat up on them (and it is, because so many are clueless), but it's not productive.

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    1. The only caveat tho this is they helped create those structures, and/or should have been prepared. But, yes, there are plenty of boomers - especially back-end boomers - who are shuffled out of their place of work at age 52 or whatever, precisely at the time they cannot be, because of these structural shifts.

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    2. As a nominal boomer (but not really, as I was at the very tail end of those years) and as someone who works with a wide variety of age groups, a somewhat different perspective:

      It's easy to climb inside one's own generational cocoon, and, by injustices visited, see violations everywhere. The "greatest generation" that came of age in the 1930s (thus facing a real, live Depression) had the misfortune of being just the right age to then fight World War II. Those who survived then enjoyed an amazing economy. But, and here's the paradox, their successes were created, in large part, by their early deprivations, and by a profound appreciation. (The economy was amazing because of factors we no longer "know" (and would reject anyway).)

      A generation that actually had a legitimate gripe: say, African-Americans of that age, or Japanese-Americans, or just about any other x-Americans . . . didn't. Much can be written about this, but what should be said is that our current take is just flat-out myopic. Current generations (including boomers) have nothing like the deprivations of the past, and, debt aside, enjoy benefits that would have been all but miraculous. I'm not arguing that we shouldn't be upset, as indeed we should, but that it's seductive to fall into a time-centric trap. We are not special snowflakes. If anything, past generations were more with-it than we.

      It's even more dangerous to put "boomers" into a single lump. I was born in 1962, so the demographic rules that apply to someone born in, say, the late 1940s or early 1950s hardly apply to me.

      Moreover, I faced an interesting quirk, which was hardly funny at the time: I entered law school in booming 1989, when competition was beyond fierce. I graduated in 1991, into a severe if short recession. It almost boiled down to just a narrow few years that we faced this awful reality. What struck me at the time was the (to me) outrageous lack of understanding by lawyers about how massively lucky they were.

      Many law professors prior to the 1960 actually *did* have some practical knowledge or (and here's a key), even if they didn't . . . they respected those who did, and they understood the context and balance of academics and practice. That is gone, as the professoriate is rewarded for quasi-academic (and patently unacademic) naval-gazing. Mary Ann Glendon wrote a book on this transition, and what's interesting is that, essentially, the Old Guard fogeys were the ones who were the genuine liberals (meaning they were open to new ideas), allowing the future barbarians into the gates. These new rebels had a Cause, and, over the succeeding generations, a Legal-Education Industrial Complex that is utterly incapable of truly educating lawyers.

      Who's to blame? Everyone.

      The ABA for allowing and encouraging a self-interested and self-aggrandizing elite; professors for violating their professional responsibilities (ah, the ironies); practitioners for not caring, and, at the top, for taking advantage of this two-class system; the populace, for being low-information nincompoops; and each new generation, for the same reason. The psychological reasons for believing in a system--even and perhaps especially a bad system--are understandable. But they're no less wrong.

      And a related issue: our system rewards bad behavior. One need only look at posts in the "top" echelon to see a vastly ignorant vocal (presumable) minority drowning out any intelligent debate to see this in action. The same takes place in the classroom, with few professors up to the task of guiding an intelligent discussion. (Not that it matters with blind grading and a forced curve.)

      Our task, perhaps, is to reach that silent, lurking minority. If they can be given enough of an inoculation to see just how bad the system is, perhaps they can find something more positive to do with their lives. In many ways, for most, the only way to win is not to play.

      Thane.

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    3. Just to clarify: You think it is imperative to reach which silent lurking minority? And how would one do this outside of repeating facts ad nauseum in an effort to shame them?

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    4. Sir Adam -

      My apologies. This is what typing without coffee does. I meant "silent, lurking *majority*."

      These are the students who are (1) not running wildly into law school (or if they are, are open to having their eyes opened), or (2) who are part of that great mass of post-college non-STEM soon-to-be or recent graduates who more or less find themselves with an admissions letter. To law school.

      The real problem is twofold, I think: Students have a vested interest in believing. While we like to think we are radical and critical and ironic, in fact most of us cling to the few knowns we have. And the more unsettled life is, the more we cling. (One can guess, as long as we're talking about different generations, how inconceivable this discussion would have been to the boring-if-stable world of, say, 1952. How paradoxic that, in many ways, they were more daring than we.)

      And so, when someone comes around and tells us that the only quasi-respectable professional field we happen to have applied in is a scam, well, that's unnerving. Cognitive dissonance kicks in, and most will flatly reject the message, ignoring (at best) the messenger (or, ahem, Messinger).

      The second problem is in the "silent" part. It doesn't take long to see that bullies are the primary drivers to just about any discussion of law school. (The same is true IN law school.) It's hard to break through that, because nearly every instinct that nearly everyone has is to support, not attack, the System.

      As to how to break through? Well, wait, I'm thinking . . . . = : )

      Thane.

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  2. Several good points in this post. I for one have never jumped on the hate-boomer bandwagon. Adam B should prepare himself, though. Pretty soon a fierce field commander roach will be accusing him of being a saboteur who is secretly in the pay of the law schools themselves.

    I've also never accepted the shibboleth that "home ownership" (i.e. big-ass mortgage debt) will breathe life into the economy. Even at a 3% rate, you end up paying 150% of the closing price. The bank gets that extra 50%. Small wonder that "home ownership" gets talked up so much.

    Not sure why you cite Thane Messinger as a sign of progress. The guy puts on airs and claims he went to Harvard, when he actually only went to their extension school. So sad.

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    1. Why the incessant pushing away of allies? It's like you want to fail. Who cares where he went? He's on our side, moron!

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    2. Anon 11:17 -

      Shall we pull them out and measure?

      What's sad is both a sense that one's pedigree determines the truth and wisdom of what one says, and that internecine warfare is almost always the biggest ally of the bad guys. (A comparison of the French and U.S. revolutions, two opposites if ever there were, is instructive.)

      For anyone who's interested, by the way, the Extension School at Harvard is an amazing story, and one law schools might emulate. In short, a benefactor gave money to Harvard at the turn of the last century for the establishment of "common" courses for the people of Boston. Truly an amazing story, and one that shouldn't, by administrative malevolence and in-fighting, have lasted long enough to tell. It's easy to have a love-hate relationship with an elite institution, but the Extension School is a legitimate and love-worthy anomaly. Among other reasons is that the faculty are volunteers from Harvard and elsewhere, and are on average among the best. Not least, they care, and have benefited by a few key allies, a general benign neglect, and a scrappy if small administrative staff. (The former dean was my thesis advisor.) Ah, well.

      The Gates Unbarred: A History of University Extension at Harvard, 1910 - 2009. http://www.amazon.com/The-Gates-Unbarred-University-Extension/dp/0674051351/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1371155979&sr=8-1&keywords=shinagel

      Thane.

      PS: Two master's and a doctorate, one of which from Harvard. Honestly, I try never to use the word, as it's impossible to use without seeming to be putting on airs. Perhaps a few hundred million would help.

      PPS: I agree as to homeownership, but don't quite follow the logical train. Perhaps it's my poor training.

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    3. ^ Your doctorate isn't from Harvard. It's from the extension school.

      Only someone who is obsessed with pedigree would even go there in the first place. You won't sound like you are "putting on airs" if you say "Harvard Extension School."

      It's not elite. It's literally open admissions. And yes, mine is better. Hell, UM-Lowell would be better.

      Look, I believe you should judge a school by the strength of its graduates - not the other way around. But people like you are obsessed with "prestige" - despite the fact that you don't have any. And your writing style is pretentious and boring.

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    4. Ad hominem aside, you are aware that the Extension School is one of the schools of Harvard. Yes?

      Open enrollment? Absolutely. And one of the hidden jewels of higher education.

      You might also be aware that, because of assumptions by snotty individuals such as yourself, those within the Extension School are, shall we say, aware of their second-class status. (This despite the fact that the administrators are, yes, real academics, many of the extension faculty are senior faculty in Arts and Sciences and elsewhere (and they actually care), yada, yada.) As one might guess, this results in a certain care as to the actual academic work. Of course, if you still need to be snotty, I did take courses at the law school.

      If there is a credibility issue, it speaks as much to a comment such as yours than to anyone connected with the extension school, including students working 60-hour jobs, as I was.

      To all, if we lose it might well be because of attacks such as this. Not sure about you, but I have better things to do.

      And, by the way, the chances of success are, on a good day, no better than 50-50.

      "We" can mean society as well as any grouping of law students, lawyers, or anyone else.

      "Success" might be a more solid professional founding for *all* law graduates, such as I propose at the end of Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold.*

      As to being pretentious and boring, can I be just one?

      Thane.

      * In these discussions we focus on the supply side, but that's just half the problem. There's equally a demand side, which has been, in the best of times, badly mismanaged. Were there bar review *within* law school and mandatory internships and residencies at both courts and firms (modestly paid but required for bar admission), how different would the profession be?

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    5. Anon 6:51 -

      I know I shouldn't feed the beast, but it just struck me:

      This seems just a teensy bit above the pathetically juvenile tit-for-tat in many online discussion groups. Bullies drown out reasoned discussion, with a result that lurkers lurk deeper, and many simply disappear. The bad crowds out the good. The conversations, and participants, are debased.

      Same as in law classrooms, no?

      Thane.

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    6. ^ If a kid points out that the emperor isn't wearing any clothes, is he a "bully," too?

      Just read this, if you think your heart can stand it:

      www.dba-oracle.com/t_harvard_extension_school_lower_quality.htm

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    7. If a nudist emperor points out that the kid is a brat, and by the way there's a kingdom to pillage and fair maidens to be, ah, "rescued," is the kid still a brat?

      Say, this is fun.

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    8. PS: The link was dead, but I found it. The article quotes a "certificate" holder, which is not the same as a degree holder. I, having been through many classes, will confirm that not all students should be there. (At "regular" Harvard classes, the raw talent is almost certainly there, with a rare exception, but the drive, maturity, and humanity too often aren't.)

      The difference is that Harvard does it exactly right. Anyone can enter, but few make it through. This is EXACTLY as education should be. In the past hundred years, something like only 7,000 have earned degrees, while hundreds of thousands have taken courses. Anyone is free to say what they like, and it's hard not to argue that resume fraud is not an abuse.

      To be admitted into either a bachelor's or master's program, one must take a set of courses, and *then* apply for admission. One is not "admitted" until then. A thesis is a requirement, at the bachelor's level as well (I think), and . . . here's the trick . . . because of this concern, the thesis is taken pretty seriously. I had a committee, just as grown-ups do. In fact, it was rather more elaborate than at the University of Texas at Austin.

      So our intrepid correspondent didn't bother to check the transcript? Who's scamming whom?

      As just a basic question (for everyone else; not you if your mind is made up): do you honestly think that, even with a few key administrative allies over the past hundred years, the Harvard Corporation would risk its name?

      You offered your "critique." Are you willing to read and critique "The Gates Unbarred"? If not, who's the fraud?

      Thane.

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    9. ^ Fraud: the guy who attends HES, but writes "Harvard University" on his LinkedIn profile.

      'Nuff said.

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    10. Pointless, I know, but I re-read the reference you cited, and the only conclusion is that you are dishonest.

      Yes, you will respond about pots, kettles, and all that. Your dishonesty is on two levels: you misrepresent what is written (what ought to be a capital crime in law, but then I'm from Texas), and you are willfully ignorant about facts that are easily discovered. Perhaps not as easily as LinkedIn, but easy nonetheless. The degree is from Harvard, full stop. (Would you believe it's not even on a wall?) If you don't like that, well, that's your problem.

      But wait, there's more. Your dishonesty is compounded by a need to cut rather than build. Why the ad hominem? The refuge of the weak? If we learned that a post were written by someone who had gone to night school, would that detract from their point? It depends (yet should strengthen, not weaken, the impact), but to argue, as you do impliedly, blithely, and arrogantly that it follows as night follows day . . . shame on you.

      And there might be yet a fourth dishonesty. Anonymity is certainly the norm here, and that's fine; but it does lessen the credibility of an attacker, especially against someone who is willing to put their name to the electronic version of paper.

      Thane.

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  3. I think it is less a generational have/have not then simply a class have/have not. I know lots of solos up in their late-60's/early 70's who are surviving on social security and not much else and were never able to put a dime away because of the cost of raising a family. If you come from money, you will do better in the profession then if you didn't.

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  4. Well said. I think that the generational tension happened toward the beginning of the scam blog movement when many accused the young people of whining and acting entitled. Now that more boomers are breaking their silence, it seems that only the minority of rich lawyers benefiting from this broken system want to continue to block commonsense reform.

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  5. This past weekend I had to go to an open house. Some people I didn't know sat down with my spouse and me. Everybody is having vague generic polite conversation. The host comes over and starts laughing about the number of attorneys seated at our table. Total was 4 of 4. The one guy claims he isn't a practicing attorney. He tried it then decided to go into the "family business." Basically, law was a bust so made his dad put him on the payroll. Lives in a big house and looks like a rich boomer lawyer but its from his family not the practice of law. So there you go.

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  6. Off topic and just a few observations:

    1. There are a lot less comments, if any, about the woes of HYS people on OLSS than there was on ILSS.

    2. Campos rocketed to a million views after about a year I believe, and OLSS is on course for about half that, which ain't bad :)

    3. @11:17AM, who put down Messinger, is a self described "Libertarian" and has been trolling Cryn's blog as well as Donna Furiosa's blog. He apparently did not go to law school, and considers 3 years of law school a vacation on borrowed money.

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    1. Things are really picking up steam around here. The quality of the comments is comparable to that of the ITLSS comments.

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    2. 1. Good? They are hardly the most needy.

      2. No matter what they say, people still worship law professors. We say the same message as Campos right here and have extended it plenty and said things he could not say, but because it's not coming from the mouth if a hallowed professor, people don't care.

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  7. I think the biggest problem is that Boomers keep trying to put the higher education problem into an ideological box.

    When we criticize higher education as predatory, a lot of Boomers think it's a proxy argument to undercut the liberalizing effects of education. They think we are crypto-conservatives.

    When we criticize the way the economy has harmed our livelihoods, the conservatives just hear calls for redistribution and think we are entitled.

    I do think that this movement is probably more liberal than not, simply because most of those harmed by the law school scam are young, and are therefore more socially liberal. Still, it's hard to the Democratic party really rallying around higher ed reform in a substantive way, because it pits two of their constituencies against each other (youth v. Academia Inc).

    If you check out the rhetoric coming from the Dems, they always criticize for-profit schools and private student loans, but rarely non-profits or federal loans. To do so would require acknowledging that public institutions can be just as predatory as private ones.

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    1. The Dems always go in half-assed with everything. Then after debate and concessions to the immovable filibuster hostage takers most bills do nothing. The only debt reform in the foreseeable future is preventing interest rates from doubling. Apparently, even this requires negotiating. I hope that both parties start to lose a whole generation of supporters. I do not know where that will lead, but it has to be better than total stasis.

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    2. I think real, lasting political reform only occurs when the people have been educated, and the politicians are pushed by a groundswell. The topdown model of "legislate first, educate/inform later" leads to unpopular legislation like the ACA.

      I actually think that's what's so interesting about the scamblog/law school scam movement. It has affected a relatively small, highly "educated" group of people, and we have been able to effectively target the problem. We haven't won by a long shot, but I think it shows how potent the internet can be for identifying problems in our society.

      Who knows, maybe this is how every reform movement will happen in the 21st century.

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    3. Adam, Jacob, and All -

      All universities charge too much. (Even state ones, now.) Students are pushed there, and then into graduate or professional programs, regardless of their interest, talent, or maturity. Add credential creep. Multiply by professorial sinecures.

      Demand increases, supply increases more slowly (and very slowly or not at all at the top), the government steps in with loan guarantees, then pure loans, plus grants and other goodies, minus discounts, preferential treatments, and actual quality. And the price goes up. Gee.

      30 students in a classroom, each paying $2,000. (Much less . . . 300 students, each paying $8,000.) And still that's not enough.

      If one-third of matriculants were not to go to college (or two-thirds not go to law school), and if no one were allowed to go directly from high school to college, or from college to law school, we can guess what happens to quality (it goes up). What happens to price?

      Thane.

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    4. I have encountered the problem that many younger people and most older people do not want to recognize the scam because it goes against their programming (cognitive dissonance). Also, this is such an image-based profession and most people want to sound successful.

      As to bullies, such is life and the legal profession. Around here it is best to not feed them, not even leftover bread crusts.

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    5. This was supposed to be responding to the first thread.

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  8. I'm a boomer. I will trade my money (a few million saved from law practice) and debtless status for your youth any time. Any takers?

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    1. You had your youth and you now have money.

      When we get to your stage in life, we will just have had youth - no money.

      Yes. I would exchange. You have had it better.

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    2. Believe me, if I could give up thirty years for no money in the bank and a few hundred thousand in debt, I would do so in a heartbeat. You have no idea when you are young how much of a gift that youth brings to the table. And if you were intelligent enough to go to Law School, despite the debt, you can have a ball as you face life head-on and if you see the positive in everything instead of the negative.

      I remember well when I first graduated from law school and was awaiting a hearing in Court. The guy next to me was a well known elderly superstar who had earned tens of millions in fees for himself over the years. As I congratulated him on his success, he looked at me and said he would give it all up to be as young as I was (then) again. That conversation always stuck with me for some reason. I am sure this gentleman passed on long ago. Death is the great equalizer for all of us. When you hit your fifties and see your contemporaries starting to drop dead from heart attacks and cancers, you will have a different perspective and will realize that in the end, none of this really matters. You can choose to enjoy your life or choose not to. Its really that simple.

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    3. You are romanticizing because you had no debt and a good job the whole time. The situation of young lawyers with no jobs or low paying jobs and big debt is bad. You would be in a totally different career today with much more limited chances of success if you were in your twenties now.

      As an older lawyer, I am happy with my life but very unhappy with my career choice. The problem is the lack of jobs for me and mostof my contemporaries. Going to a top 5 or 14 law school just has not produced jobs for most of my contemporaries at this point and for the last decade.

      No, I would not want to go back and be a heavily indebted unemployed lawyer in my twenties. If I could go back to college, I would never, never, never in a million years chose to become a lawyer because lawyers have one of the highest levels of unemployment of any profession when you compare degree holders to full time permanent lawyer job holders.

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  9. While I am guilty of some Gen-Xer indignation towards Boomers, you can only listen to so many decades of one-sided accusations against "lazy", "shiftless", "entitled", "you should have done your research", "bootstrapping" blame-the-victim strawmen before you just have to turn it all off and conclude there is no common ground. When the "lazy" generation-du-jour is turning 30, 40 and 50 while paying loans, paying mortgages, etc., the allegations sound all the more hollow.

    I actually welcome the participation of those who want to engage in honest debate about where we are right and where we are wrong. I've always believed down deep that Boomers were affected in large degree by the very same economic circumstances (how could they not be?), which only made the sweeping accusations against later generations all the more confusing and frustrating. If people want to engage, then so much the better.

    So come on, Boomers, join the love train! I think you will find common-cause allies here.

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    1. The boomers will jump aboard except for a few things.

      First, they have years of experience on you guys. You guys think the party ended before it ever got started. This just ain't so. The boomers figured out Betty Crocker's recipe and found out how to throw a small party with cheap-ass cake. You guys hold out like Betty Crocker's recipe doesn't make cake anymore.

      Second, because you inexperienced Y-ers claim to be fortune tellers of doom (as if we Boomers don't have just a bit more experience) is a real turn-off. We tell you how to set out to make a reasonable subsistence, but you guys will hear none of it. If you can't get a job with a firm, life is over as you know it. To that, all we Boomers can say is, "Well, if that's the way you want to make your bed, you'll just going to have to lie in it."

      Third (and Adam is still a little guilty of this as shown in his article), you think us Boomers are disheveled because we lament over not being able to afford private school for the kids and annual vacations to Europe and Disney World. News Flash! Our struggles are a little more earthly than you might think.

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  10. Stockholm Syndrome.

    It's generational / class warfare, no question. The Boomer cohort has far, far more money than Gen-X or Y, etc. ever likely will.

    As far as other Boomers sympathizing, so be it. The main point being that, regardless of the crocodile (or otherwise..) tears, that generational cohort at least had opportunities no longer enjoyed by subsequent generations. They at least had a chance to improve themselves.

    Lastly, their voting block will ensure that the Gravy Train benefits of Social Security and Medicaid will not run out - at least until they are largely dead and gone. Sunsequent generations will be left to fend for themselves.

    In short, that generation, as a block, only cares for itself and while some may or may not sympathize from their cushioned sidelines, it changes nothing.

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    1. I don't think the main point is that the Boomers had opportunities that subsequent generations will never have. The Boomers didn't create those opportunities, they just got lucky, and the Boomers have created the structural problems that exist today.

      I do think you're right that they are POTENTIALLY the obstacles to reform, but the jury is still out on whether they can actually stop systemic reform, or even if they are completely opposed to such reform.

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    2. I agree. If you do genealogy work, what you see following your family tree is how each generation was pushed around and had their lives disrupted by economic and social forces beyond their control. It's just our turn. I just hope that the next generation, once they take political power, level some of the economic disparity and get the corruption out of the political system.

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  11. At church a few Sundays ago, the congregation had a "Graduate Sunday" ceremony in which the church members graduating from high school and college were recognized. One guy was graduating from college and heading to the Charleston School of Law. The preacher joked, "Just what we need, another lawyer." I wanted to tell him, don't worry, that kid will never work as a lawyer.

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    1. It's notable that even a scamming lying preacher is above a lawyer. And preachers are some of the biggest lying wastes of space ever.

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    2. Well maybe speaking up in front of the congregation would have been going too far, but maybe you could have spoken to this guy in private and tried to warn him what a terrible mistake he was making (not that he'd likely listen).

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  12. Jacob - you have hit the nail on the head. The real problem is that many young people have been conditioned to believe that so-called progressives are acting in their interest - nothing is further from the truth. The Feds and the loan programs have acted in concert with the academic industrial complex, which is overwhelmingly liberal. The Feds and the academic beneficiaries do not understand the damage they have created and continue to create, and are not inclined to do so as the preservation of the liberal academic apparatchik class is paramount.

    Please, don't paint this as a plea that conservatives are looking out for everyone's interest. But if the loan programs would be radically curtailed, the market would begin to work, i.e., with much lower prices obtaining. It is very difficult for young people to see liberal Democrats as the problem - but they are.

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    1. Both political parties are captured by the special interest groups. No one is looking out for the common man anymore.

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    2. You're moving everything into an ideological box. A liberal like me would say that loans should be available, capped, and dischargable in bankruptcy and/or that loans should be removed, education heavily subsidized out of general revenue and rationed. There may be pure market solutions (I'm doubtful), but the idea that it's a "dems are bad" and "repubs or libertarians are good" issue is flat nonsense.

      There may be multiple solutions, but if we continue financing higher education with loans, but don't allow dischargability in bankruptcy, no proposal will be effective and it doesn't matter whether the financing is fully private, blended, or fully public.

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  13. Absent is the mention of Lobbying, which is as mysterious as the all time Student Lending phantom industry.

    Really, can anyone rattle off a list of lobbyers in DC and for whatever causes?

    Or name even one glad handing lobbyist person?

    Is there an official registry of the politial lobbyists of today in DC?

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  14. A lot of boomer-aged lawyers are learning about the scam in a brutal way-- it is happening to their children. People who spend 25 years raising a bright and decent kid are not delighted to see the kid's life prospects and ideals destroyed by con artists.

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  15. It is actually worse than you make out because likely only 20%, and perhaps fewer, of boomer lawyers hold real full-time permanent legal jobs. The current structure of the legal profession is a pyramid agewise. The lack of jobs for older lawyers will affect even the most successful of the current generation X and Ys when they reach their 50s and 60s.

    Being shown the door in one's 50s or 60s is the norm for boomer lawyers. Law firms all have annual and more frequent "cleansings" and the older you are, the less likely you are to survive. Even the largest companies in the U.S. allow "fit" and "comfort" terminations - a way of saying they are firing an older lawyer without specifically pointing to age.

    The legal profession is suffering from a structure that does not leave room for a whole lot of age 50 plus lawyers in real paying jobs.

    The employment numbers should not be a pyramid, but more of rectangle, with constant or almost constant numbers of legal jobs for each age group. If that were true, getting a job out of law school would land you in a career.

    The problem is that the 20% or worse number applies to top 5 law schools. Maybe it is worse for lower ranked law schools.

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  16. One question that people need to ask themselves is whether they were realistic in their assessment that law school was likely to be a good choice. As a boomer, I had doubts about going to UCLA, which is pretty high up on the food chain, many many years ago. I went to a much higher rated law school. The problem was that once you got away from the University of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Virginia, you were in pretty high risk territory even back then. Sure some people from lower ranked schools hit the jackpot, but that surely was not the norm.

    What is changed now is that even the tippy top law schools do not give you a great chance of a career, and there are so many unemployed or solo lawyers from the very top schools, like Columbia, NYU, Harvard and even Yale. There are just so many displaced lawyers looking for work.

    It is a sea change from a profession that was once much more secure to a profession where most lawyers are walking on thin ice if they have not yet fallen through the ice. Going to a top law school like Harvard does not protect you from being fired. Ir is very hard to get a job when you are fired, especially if you are on the street and you are not young.

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  17. Finally, finally, finally ... the discussion turns to something beyond Law School and the awkward hunt for that first job. Finally, a light shines on career outcomes for lawyers and it ain't pretty.

    Listen to a Boomer.

    Yes, Law School's tough, WAY overpriced, and abnormally preoccupied with hierarchy, status and a misguided and highly antiquated cirriculum. The profs can be arrogant pricks, the 'Socratic' Method is grossly abused and little more than bullying, and first-year Property is a disjointed LSD-trip through snippets of out-of-context English legal history. The grades are arbitrary, the lectures are a game in 'hide the ball', and the competition among students is both infantile and cut-throat at the same time.

    So we all chant "Don't go to Law School!," hate the Deans, and despise their scam. And rightfully.

    But let's not lose sight of the real reason we're saying "Don't Go to Law School." We're saying don't be a lawyer. The problems lie in the structure of the PROFESSION.

    Listen to a Boomer. Look at them and see what they are doing. It's a pity more Boomers arent blog-focused, because if they were, the online comments reflecting extreme disappointment with their careers and outright despair would corrode your screen and make your computer shut down.

    Most all of us entered law for the "job" or money-earning aspect of it. NO. Not to become rich, not to make more money than most anyone else, not to be upper class, but simply to earn sufficient money to support yourself and family, and a practice (if need be). Like, a job. That's a highly dubious proposition in law these days, and if you do perchance achieve it, it ain't lasting more than 10 years. This sad state of affairs stems largely from the overproduction of lawyers.

    Our focus on Law School rather than piss-poor career tracks are similar to a peace activist focusing on the harshness of Boot Camp: "I'm against war because the Army puts you through this awful thing called Boot Camp where a Drill Instructor wakes you at 0500, yells at you, and makes you do push-ups and PT. You have to salute and the uniforms are drab, and some of the colonels are uncool."

    A principled peace proponent is against war (except as a last resort) because he/she recognizes that the obscenely high human and financial costs of war usually (not always) makes diplomacy or sanctions the better route.

    Don't be against war because Boot Camp sucks; be against it because in many circumstances, it's not the right vehicle to reach the national objective and, worse, greatly harms the nation. There's usually a better vehicle to get there.

    The ridiculous overproduction of lawyers over the past 20 years has completely destroyed the ability of lawyers to have a career in this profession. Yes, some of the better performing students from better schools will land jobs with firms. The sheer number of available replacement lawyers will make the job a tenuous existence and will create an work atmosphere that makes Survivor look like child's play. And it only lasts for a couple of years, at best. And when you're in your 30/40's and looking at kids and college, the profession's largely done with you. And yes, the number of lawyers trying to 'go solo' directly affects the profitability of your practice. No, I don't mean your ability to strike it rich; I mean your ability to pay your bills.

    This is the ultimate reason to say NO to law school.

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  18. From the comments it seems boomers want youth which is something they cannot buy. The Generation X/Yers want secure employment and the money that follows like the boomers had. I'm happy at the Golden Corral buffet which is something I never had in my youth and doesn't cost a lot of money. Perhaps, there's the answer.

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  19. "I'm happy at the Golden Corral buffet which is something I never had in my youth and doesn't cost a lot of money. Perhaps, there's the answer."

    It's something like that. Dependence on anything - money, a job, a habit, etc. - reduces freedom. There comes a point in many peoples' lives when they feel trapped and that the second half of their lives should be more fulfilling than the first. This is commonly called a mid-life crisis. If you are lucky, you get to go back and start fresh with some other things. If you are not free to do so, you are trapped and unhappy.

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    1. The Golden Corral is great, but there's this cashier at the end of the buffet.

      It's nice to have a little earning capacity so that you can eat at Golden Corral, and now, pay some of the various insurances the government seems to want us all to carry. I guess that's a dependence on money that saps my happiness. I'm trying to get over it and be free, but it ain't coming easy.

      Starting over is great, but I sure don't want to run the lawyer race again or go back to that starting line. Even pro bono cases have filing fees and entail depositions and expenses. Just like the Golden Corral, they cost too.

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