Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Stay On Target



While I do spend some time in front of the flight simulator eating Andorian Worm-crisps, it's not like I do it from my mom's couch all day.  I've worked hard and I am a successful X-Wing pilot, thank you very much.  Now, nothing can go wrong...!



Kid, I've flown from one side of the galaxy to the other. I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful "Pilot School Scam" controlling everything. There's no employment stats or economic data that controls my destiny.  -  Han "Solo"


As has been seen here on OTLSS, as well as in other locations, one belief-battle that continues to come up is the pro-solo vs. anti-solo crowd. The pro-solo crowd (which includes the Law Schools, in principle) says that there is plenty of opportunity to make a living as a lawyer, but you have to go out there and grab it, no one is going to give it to you. They claim to have directly experienced the reward that comes from making it happen.

The anti-solo crowd (which includes the Scamblogs, in principle) says that the market is glutted, that actual paying clients are few and far between, so by extension you are engaging in magical thinking that you, an army of one, will beat the odds, despite what the Law Schools say. They have directly experienced the difficulty of pounding the pavement and drumming up paying work.

This debate, while important, has confounded the overall Scamblog debate.  It is important to remember this and not get off track into arguing whose philosophy is better while multiple-thousands of new 0Ls continue to apply.

I don't have an opinion as to whether someone should go solo or not.  Some people want to, some people don't want to.  I do, however, care very much about the arguments Law Schools advance in support of enticing people to get that shiny JD as well as the broader economic data that's out there.  In the interest of full disclosure, I myself went to law school for "all the wrong reasons," as they say, so I am biased towards those who feel the wool was pulled over their eyes.

The availability of clients are the bread-and-butter of solo legal practice, and by most measurements John Q. Public seems to be hurting, according to the sobering data in the link:


Like any good entrepreneur researching the market before taking the plunge, what this data says to me is that the 90s onward were "less advantageous" times to be a lawyer (which, considering that Boomer ScamDeans and LawProfs tend to remember happier economic times when pontificating, should surprise no one*). For decades prior, the Average-Joe’s wages were high, people were working a lot of hours, manufacturing was on the rise, unemployement was low, and there were lots of small businesses out there. The hallmarks of a thriving economy. This of course says nothing about the overproduction of JDs overall, nor the outpacing-inflation nature of tuition and resulting average debt load, during later time periods – but that specific data has already been picked over by other commenters in multiple forums.


According to the data in the last chart, self-employment is now at an all-time low. I don’t know what percentage of this self-employment data constitutes solo practitioners from the 1950s onward. But amongst the thousands and thousands of people which include failed general contractors, store owners, and insurance agents to name a few, there are at least, I don’t know, one or two solos. At least.  And the remaining number of attorneys hanging a shingle make up an ever-increasing percentage of this continually-lowering statistic.

"Who cares?" I hear some of the pro-solos say. "Get out there, and make it happen! You miss 100% of the swings you never take! Just make sure you are in the winner’s circle, instead of the other guy! You just have to want it bad enough! You can’t accomplish anything sitting at home in your mom’s basement, eating cheesy poofs and posting on blogs like a bunch of L00z3r whiners!"

No doubt this advice is true on a very pragmatic level. Yes, doing nothing is a recipe for obtaining nothing.  Yet, the time and energy to be spent has to be invested well.   This chart indicates to me that many, many others took the  "do something" self-employment advice to heart as well, in a variety of fields, yet many ended up moving on for some reason.

One could just hand-waive all this economic data away and say, "well, they just didn’t want it bad enough to work hard enough, that’s why."  Perhaps "they" didn't...but I don't think lumping thousands upon thousands of people into one generalized "all fail, all the time" category does the underlying argument justice.  It’s not surprising, then, that many are reluctant to dive in head-first into the self-employed solo market, especially with significant student loan debt helping them sink to the bottom all the faster.

Look, if you want to be an X-Wing pilot like me, you need to go out there and grab it!  You have to shoot womp rats for a long time, network with the right people like old Jedi Masters, and get in front of "decision makers," like the Princess of the Rebel Alliance.  Yes, she's my sister, what of it?  And stop asking who my Daddy is...!

The truth is we all want validation of our personal choices. When JDs rage against the machine, there is sometimes an implicit denegration of those who chose to go solo as being dishonest or not fully forthcoming on the realities. It kicks in the fight-or-flight response, and the knee-jerk response is "Stop going on and on about how Law School is a terrible idea!  Look at me and my models and bottles!  Dude, get your butt off of mama's couch in the basement and stop whining!" When solos accuse JDs of crying to mama, the implicit denegration leads to the knee-jerk response of "OK, great for you, Tony Robbins turned Law-School-Quisling, but what about all the other people who tried and failed in an increasingly glutted market, or can’t scrape up the capital?  Some of us have been on the chain gang for years, thank you, and we know what we're talking about."

All I know is that in my "JD-Advantage" office environment, I haved worked with fifteen other attorneys who turned away from the private practice world.  My coworkers are not green by any means - we’re talking 10+ years of experience each, but they were either edged out, burned out, or just plain walked out of practice.  Most are worker bees, but a few have risen to higher positions.   A couple left my office to go into private practice, only to return a handful of years later. This year we’ve already had three attorneys in private practice ask about openings (one a partner[lolwut?!] at a decent firm related to the industry), because they want into a corporate environment and/or see the writing on the wall.

Why are these people here, or trying to be here? Because they are loser whiners?  Because a desk jockey corporate job is clearly so awesome?  Hardly.  To hear tell, not only is the so-called "pay-cut" "worth it," it’s better than nothing at all.  Yikes.

My point here is not to knock the balls-to-the-wall gunslinger lawyers. If you’ve made it and built up a steady, lucrative practice, then good on you. You’ve clearly beat the odds and managed to make something out of (presumably) nothing. You’ve earned your reward.

My point is to say that, to anyone who will listen, the warnings advanced by the Scambloggers are real. This is not about dismissing the hard-won achievements of others, nor white-washing all struggling practioners or graduates as lazy mor-ans.  This is about Law Schools enticing students by painting rosy pictures for decades, in contravention of actual economic and graduate outcome-based data, and the picture being patently false. This is about transparency and truth in advertising.

For those of you who aren’t looking for the Wild West experience of solo-practice for whatever reason (and there are many), you can take it from me that you are by no means alone. I see these folks every day. By my view, for something that is allegedly so valuable, plenty of experienced attorneys are looking for a safe haven in the so-called "loser’s bracket."  This is not what the Law Schools would have you to believe when they go on about all the opportunities in the glossy brochures.

Friends, do not go to law school unless you want, more than anything, ever, to be a solo practicioner. If so, go network with actual solos you can find and see what it is really all about. Talk to guys like Jordan Rushie about what day-to-day life is like, and the work it takes to build a book of business. See if the idea is fun and exciting for you, personally.

Even then, given our economic climate, decades of systemic overproduction of JDs by the Law Schools, and the outrageous costs to graduate, I would think twice before taking the plunge – not only will you be doing yourself a favor in considering a different line of work, you may be implicitly helping the market correct overall and preventing yet even more untrained competition for scarce work. 

I can't say this enough:  this is not about snake-oil-solos vs. whimpering-whiners, although many try to characterize it that way. This is about full disclosure and removal of information assymetry, the last thing any of the Law Schools actually want.


* for a data-driven argument about how Gen-X and Gen-Y didn't just "blow the money becuase they are all lazy L00z3r whiners," see http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-05-23/guest-post-generation-x-inconvenient-era

48 comments:

  1. I think it is generally true that if you are the personality type who is capable of creating a book of business, successfully networking and following the advice of people like Brian Tennenbaum, then you are probably not a Toileteer. I see his snide advice on Above The Law and I'm sure it works well for a very few select people. It's what I would try to do on my own if I were a solo.

    But I am old enough that I recognize personality types pretty easily and there were very few folks at my TTT with the personality skills to pull it off. I know a number of people who tried to solo out of desperation and they simply didn't make it. God knows how they put food on the table. A website doth not a practice make.

    If I were a prospective client selecting a lawyer and I had to choose between a greybeard and a pimply 26 year old, there's no way I'm giving the kid a chance. Even if the kid is offering a cut rate. Maybe it's different in the lower bowels of sh*tlaw, but I work in IP and no one takes you seriously there unless you have a good solid 3-4 years of mentored experience.

    That's what makes the law school scam especially pernicious at any level below the top rung. It takes precisely those who are least likely to suceed in the solo world and gives them little other choice upon graduation.

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    1. "[N]o one takes you seriously there unless you have a good solid 3-4 years of mentored experience.

      That's what makes the law school scam especially pernicious at any level below the top rung. It takes precisely those who are least likely to suceed in the solo world and gives them little other choice upon graduation."


      Anon 5:59 -

      You raise perhaps the single most vexing problem in legal education and the profession in the double bind presented to graduates: they are "in," in which case they are trained in the actual practice of law and have an actual shot at a decent life; or they are "out," in which case they will have neither. This has always been true, but it has not always been true for nearly everyone. What makes law school a scam now is not just the underlying defect of a lack of real training in the law, but the massive expansion of law schools, the even more massive increases in tuition, and the cliff over which legal hiring fell, likely never to return.

      For years I have been solidly in the naysayer camp with regard to going solo. My objection used to be based, rather simplistically, on a comment from a colleague: "Solos are walking malpractice suits." This is, sadly, a true statement, not because solos are inherently less deserving than any other new practitioner, but because the demands of law practice are at odds with the characteristics of a solo practice. For a *new* practitioner, it ought not be even arguable that they are qualified to represent a client. To borrow an overused analogy, if medical school were run like law schools, what would we say about an appendectomy done by someone who had never actually done an operation before, and in fact spent the years of law school studying things like "the torso, a primer" and "gender, race, and alternative sexuality in postmodern dermatology.”

      Even an experienced, good practitioner should not be solo. About the only exceptions might be those with sufficiently high quotients of Asperger's as to be nearly impossible to work with (which, of course, raises questions about just how competent such a person would be with clients, opposing counsel, and the court).

      More deeply, the comments of nearly everyone here points to the same reality: the very graduates who are most likely to be in the greatest peril are the ones who are least likely to have the innate skills to make a genuine go of a solo practice. Moreover, for that tiny percentage that does have the skills, energy, and drive, why stop at solo, and why stop at law? Why not simply use those entrepreneurial energies to build a business, and make real money?

      Our efforts are directed, it seems, at opening the eyes of the all-but-unconscious prelaws, to get them to ask themselves, seriously, if they have what it takes and if they're truly willing to spin the career (and now life) on a roll of the law school dice. The answer, for perhaps 80%, is no.

      Thane.

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  2. A friend of mine is the chief clerk of the criminal courts in a neighboring county. He tells me that even the most established and well-regarded criminal lawyers there are "scrambling" to find clients because solos who have no criminal law experience but can find no other clients are showing up with appearances. Are there still people who can build up a solo practice and make it fly? Yes, but the reality is they will not make a living at it that's worth the stress, or anything like the living solos made forty years ago. And they will most likely be relying on a spouse's health insurance and retirement plan.

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  3. There were a few comments that struck me as true, despite my previous belief that anyone could hang a shingle if they truly wanted.

    There really are a lot of people who just don't have the capacity or desire to explore rich topics around others they don't know. This is part of it. I have seen those people. The conversations never go beyond football and the weather, or how something's "nice," etc. This personality will have a harder time drumming up business.

    There are others who are so disinterested in almost everyone else that they don't want to take the time to learn different perspectives. This hurts advocacy skills. For example, how many people here really want to understand the life of a general contractor in terms of getting contracts, finding subs, getting paid, paying subs, keeping the job flowing, etc.? There are many lawyers who really do not care one iota to learn what this other guy's life is like. As a result, it shows, and these lawyers will probably have a hard time getting business from contractors, as well as providing good advocacy. The same goes for getting to know convenience store owners, restaurant owners, and on and on. If these people's lives bore you, it's no wonder you are of no use to them.

    Law is an extremely people-oriented practice. Very few can do it and not be people-oriented (except doc review, I suppose, and a few other jobs like clerking).

    How does an introvert become an extrovert? You can't just say, "be an extrovert." They don't care about the intricacies of other people's lives and really getting to know them. That's just the way their brains work. I don't think you can change that.

    So, now I get it. I will not believe anyone can go solo and get clients anymore. To make it work, you have to have a genuine curiosity in what the lives of others is like. I mean genuine enough to really know and appreciate - not just a passing interest because of some case you took on.

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    1. See, we struggle because we are narcissits. Case closed.

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    2. By our talks, I don't think you are a narcissist, and also, I think you indicated that things have improved for you over the last handful of months.

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    3. I have been following your comments here and on JDU. At first I was quite a believer that anyone can go solo but that was while I was sitting on my couch. Now that I am getting closer to reality that it the only option I am wondering if I am cut out to do it myself. The bottom line of your position is correct, in my opinion, is that you never know until you try if you got 'that' personality. But at the end of the day most people don't and some that do have the personality6 don't have a chance to go solo re no money/family support to just take 2 years to learn the practice.

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    4. Well, for starters, the user names people use might be an indication of whether they are extroverts or not. If you wanted, you could find out who Adam was. You already know who Jordan is. You know who I am. People like us want to be known. This is an important indicator in terms of getting out and networking. Do you want to be known?

      Some anonymous posters have indicated their preference for anonymity on the rationale that things they say could ruin their professions. I never saw it that way. I was an avid article-writer a couple of years ago at tenthamendmentcenter.com. I put my politics out to the world, and my name behind them. Granted, that's quite a different scenario because I wasn't writing articles on how I was a loser.

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    5. Jeff, While you give fair advice, help, and feedback at times, I do not understand where some of these statements come from. Could you point to a post here where someone wrote about being a loser? I think some people have written personal stories about hard times, but most of our articles deal with covering relevant news...right?

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    6. It's thoroughly implied. You have recent law grads saying it's a scam, don't go, can't get jobs, etc.

      If I went to a real estate seminar and came back saying those things 1 year down the road, you'd kind of have to think I didn't do so well in real estate.

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    7. The labeling of a person as a loser for speaking, often truthfully, about the state of things in his profession strikes me as a convenient way to silence dissent. The law schools have used this to their advantage. Since I don't see you as a shill, I don't understand your motivation for advancing the loser stigma.

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    8. One point of JeffM is very true -- law is very much a people profession. Some would say "glorified social worker." Many of the people who go into it think you get to spend your day reading books and doing research. Not only do you need to understand your client and have empathy, but you need to learn how to deal with other attorneys and the court system. You can sit and research all your deposition questions and write them out in a list, but if you can't handle the attorney sitting across the table yelling at you shouting objections you are in trouble big time.

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    9. I am not accusing you guys of being losers. As I have stated a number of times, once you give it 5 years or so, you will look back on these miserable times as a rough period in your life that is over. Of course, you will have new issues, but joblessness will not be one of them. You will wonder if making $70k - 80k was worth it because there will be a whole new set of problems.... namely clients' bullshit.

      I think you are misunderstanding. I said that the casual readers will get that impression. You don't think so? How not?

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    10. "As I have stated a number of times, once you give it 5 years or so, you will look back on these miserable times as a rough period in your life that is over."

      Noooooooo! You say this as if our problems are temporary and if only we give it time, the clients and jobs will miraculously appear!

      This is not true.

      With countless (or actually countable - twice as many as we need) law grads all wanting the same thing each year, it gets harder and harder for us to compete as we get older and older and more desperate for jobs and clients and our experience gets more and more stale. I think that a new law grad has a shelf life of three years, after which they will never find legal work if they haven't already. Persistence does not pay off. It just causes more missed opportunities.

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    11. That's because you are holding under the impression that the only path is by way of a J-O-B. Many have figured out otherwise. It takes a bit of time to get in the pipeline and to have a steady flow, but that's what happens. Ask Adam. He'll tell you. Ask Jordan. He'll tell you the same. They are not all the way "there," yet, but they can recount their progress (which sure beats stagnation and hopelessness).

      There are many, many people who have lived, are living, or who are starting out, in this path and realizing it is true. It doesn't negate the law school lies, but it negates the proposition you are trying to make. I foresee that Jordan and Adam will continue to do better, perhaps reach some plateau (which is reasonable) and be self-sustaining, with issues besides whether they can get enough work to make $75-80k+.

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    12. Why would anyone want to promote --or even encourage-- anyone to start a solo law practice? What's the big deal if general conversation is quite realistic --even pessimistic-- towards a legal career. That concern doesn't smell right at all.

      Something's amiss.

      Being a self-employed lawyer today is a form of entrepreneurship. You'll have to think outside the box. Way outside. Entrepreneurs are great. They're clearly a needed element of a captialist economy. (Actually, these folks are needed and will emerge in any economic system that wants to survive. See Cuba).

      But entrepreneurs are unique. The notion of a diploma-mill cranking them out in ever-increasing numbers is incomprehensible. Unless the entrepreneurship at issue is that of the Deanery.

      This drive, desire, and mindset comes from within. If legitimate, it exists in spite of naysayers. Actually, it thrives on naysayers: 'Everyone kept saying it couldn't be done... so I did it.' I'd venture to say the entrepreneur don't give a shit what any one thinks.

      It's impossible to sell this mindset. Not everyone's cut-out for this and most significantly, not everyone wants to be. And not everyone can be one, either, if the concept's supposed to work. Henry Ford's pioneering work in auto manufacturing was carried forward by hundreds of now-nameless employees.

      No one set out to "promote" the auto building business to Ford, or encourage him. No one worried that conventional wisdom, common experience, and the thinking of the day was discouraging him. Like the artist, the entrepreneur will make it no matter what. When he doesn't, he doesn't bitch or blame anyone else. He can't. It was HIS OWN idea.

      Law school's different. It takes the Henry Ford result (which most everyone clearly wants) and says it's selling you the tools/credentialing you need to get there. Law schools promote and encourage the image ... see, e.g., employment statistics, bragging about clerkships, etc. Essentially, it's a case of them saying, "Come to our school, pay our tuition, learn about auto manufacturing, get a Henry Ford certificate ... and then be an auto manufacturer like Henry Ford." It's putting ideas into kids' heads... and not attainable ones.

      And thousands of people follow the dream, in hopes of being the CEO of Ford Motor Co. or their own version thereof. And thousands pay big money to do it, too. Sadly, most shouldn't have been sold this bill of goods in the first place because they ain't auto manufacturing visionaries, and even if they were, the country only could sustain about 11 or 12 auto manufacturers. And no, you can't be an auto manufacturer and have six cars run down your assembly line each three years.

      The Scamblogging Movement is no way trashing Henry Ford. It's simply giving a very badly needed reality check and wake-up call to young people who are being sold a bill of goods. It's sounding the alarm that one of the key ingredients needed for entrepreneurial success is scarcity and uniqueness. The law schools' overproduction has undermined the value of their product.

      So yes, we will concentrate on the fact that you probably won't be Henry Ford, and you should get that silly dream out of your head. This is a needed perspective.

      Don't worry. Henry don't care. He's not gonna listen. He'll also not go to law school and truly be an entrepreneur.

      True entrepreneurship's gonna make it. The "entrepreneurship" practiced by the law schools over the last 20 years sure isn't.

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    13. Most people on law school are there because for the prior 22 years of their lives they have had zero entrepreneurial spirit. Did they learn it from law profs or something?

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    14. Yes, but there are many tens of thousands more law entrepreneurs than there are entrepreneur auto manufacturers. Probably, these people would have done well in any other trade they chose. They have "it." But they are not nearly as scarce as you suggest by talking about auto manufacturing.

      So, you can't say that 90% of people going to law school can't make it because they aren't entrepreneurs at heart. Many are entrepreneurial-spirited. Those who are not will have a much tougher time. They want someone to feed them; they are wanting to learn how to make the kills.

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    15. @June 4, 2013 at 12:47 PM

      Copy that, Red Leader.

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    16. 12:41 p.m. "Most people on law school are there because for the prior 22 years of their lives they have had zero entrepreneurial spirit. Did they learn it from law profs or something?"

      They might have never learned it at all. Who's to say?

      There are many that were entrepreneurial before they went to law school. I know I was. Still, I had to be nudged to finally jump into the pool after a good handful of years of being employed.

      It's really unfair to try to stereotype who law students are. They come from many different backgrounds and have a diverse set of skills. Stereotyping is one of the faults of many scambloggers. I think it's better to recognize what getting started in the practice of law entails, rather than saying off-handedly, "90% can't do it."

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  4. Best post on the blog in months!

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  5. From the post: "I can't say this enough: this is not about snake-oil-solos vs. whimpering-whiners, although many try to characterize it that way. This is about full disclosure and removal of information assymetry, the last thing any of the Law Schools actually want."

    Right. That's what I said in a comment yesterday. When the scambloggers say it's doom and gloom for everyone but some few lucky who beat the odds, this is bull. Law has its challenges. No doubt. For some, it's hard to break in. For others who break-in, they are miserable and looking for a way to break-out. There are others who coast along just fine.

    I think honesty and full disclosure require acknowledgment of all these as making up a substantial number of practitioners. Law school is extreme on one end (painting an inaccurate picture), and much of scamblogging is extreme on the other end (painting an inaccurate picture).

    The truth lies on the middle. Bottom line: It's work, folks! And not necessarily riches for your efforts. Just know that the odds are the UPS drivers will be doing nearly as well (financially).


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    1. Painting the law school industrial complex and the scamblogs as opposite ends of the spectrum is a false equivalency. Most scamblog posts try to fill in the blanks. Many posts even recognize that law can be a good choice for some. But the facts are clear: law as a career does not work out for the majority of people who dump six figures into it based on inaccurate information provided by the schools.

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    2. That depends on what you mean by "does not work out." $150k is a lot of debt, but it's worth it if it makes the difference between $30k per year and $80k per year. The math will bear that out. Some people are in that boat, like P.E. majors and anthropology majors.

      For people like me, who had a 3.75 in undergrad in accounting, the likelihood of it "working out" is far reduced.

      There are far too many variables to stereotype.

      I agree law schools misrepresent. I have said it many times before. But we're past that. Yes, the world needs to know that. But this does not mean it's not worth it for 90% of the people, or even 80%. It just means that 80-90% are probably going to realize that law schools lied to them at some point when you can't roll back the debt clock.

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    3. If only those made up figures were true.

      Let me make some up. Earning $60K before law school, law school lied and said average salaries were $120K, but turned out to be half that and you end up with a law job that pays $40K to start. And let's ignore the zero benefits that most small firms offer compared to the corporate world.

      Taking on $150K in debt to earn $20K less than before is not such a good outcome, but equally realistic, no?

      Remember Jeffster that made up numbers and approximations and tweaks and fuzzy math are what allowed law schools to set up this huge scam in the first place.

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    4. Of course. As I stated, it will work out better for some than others. Why do you think I only acknowledge one side? This, I don't get.

      Many of you seem to think that if I'm not 100% down on law, then, I must be 100% up on it. It's really strange that some people demand that everyone needs to take a polarized stance.

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    5. Wha??? Seeing things in black and white is the sign of real scamblogging, not that weak bullshit where the shades of gray are acknowledged. Don't let Nando hear you or he will revoke your scam membership card and declare you persona non grata.

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    6. "....Law school is extreme on one end (painting an inaccurate picture), and much of scamblogging is extreme on the other end (painting an inaccurate picture)."

      No, it's not nearly that evenhanded.

      The Deanery of Law Schools has certainly engaged in "extremism" in painting inaccurate pictures. That's what this whole thing called Law School Transparency arose, people started examining the methodology of the US "News" rankings, and began calling Law Schools out on patently untrue employment statistics.

      But I can't, for the life of me, see much significant extremism in Scamblogging. And let's say, for argument's sake, I'm missing it.
      What's Scamblogging gonna say, anyway, that approaches the sheer shit peddled by the Deanery?

      Scamblogging ain't selling anything. It doesn't make any money by pushing an agenda. It also lacks the apparatus to make truthy-sounding claims like the law schools can. We can't say "95.3% of all solos fail"... or "63% of all recent grads have considered suicide within the last year." We simply show pictures of people who have lived out that position and point out larger trends.

      Given that even you now are making the statement, "the odds are the UPS drivers will be doing nearly as well financially [as the recent law grad]", the Scamblog Movement has succeeded in great measure in shining a strong beam of light into the cesspool. In my day, anyone SAYING such a thing would have landed on the Analyst's Couch, followed by a supervised trip to a Padded Cell in a Straightjacket. Such things may have been true for some lawyers, but they were not said. The "Law is the Ticket to Riches" song was always playing then, too. Scamblogging has let people speak their truth. It's providing the countermelody.

      Do we paint a parade of horrors? All I know is that we sure as hell don't allow drug dealers to air commercials saying, "A Heroin High lets you write Great Books," simply because there have been a few artists/authors who have found the drug temporarily enhanced their creative powers. No. Instead, we look at the overall picture of heroin and counsel accordingly.

      Keep it up, Scamblogs. Long Live The Movement.

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  6. History is written by the winners. Looking at a history book, you would be forgiven for thinking that everybody back then was a king or emperor or inventor or hero. You don't see the billions of slaves and factory workers and ordinary people who tell different stories.

    The same goes for most lawyers giving advice that its all good and we can all be successful. It is just not representative of the tens of thousands if new law grads who strike out each year.

    The cool thing about blogs like this is not because they highlight failures and losers, but that they highlight normal stories.

    Scamblogs are not the exception. The successful lawyers are the exception these days. The scamblog experience is average and normal.

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    1. history is also written by people who have five pages of irrelevant stuff at the end of their resumes, such as, admitted to Court of Appeals, admitted to state Supreme Court, Certificate of Financial Planning, National Law Forum Committee on Council of Lawyer Affairs, Shawshank vs Redemption, Special Master to the Master of the Special...

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  7. If you go to Jeff 's post @8:56, you can really appreciate why this whole thing is. such a fucking scam. People don't go to law school to make what a high school drop out driving a UPS truck makes. They go to LS for a better life than they would have had absent going to law school. This is measured by money, job security, stress ( lack thereof), and leisure. Law school attracts people who are willing to sacrifice lack of stress and leisure for money and job security (i.e. being able to get a job with ease even if you have to change jobs). Law school does not provide that for 99% of its graduates. The debate going on here is how bad is the scam.
    The answer is: fucking bad. After seven and a half years of education, a few hundred grand in debt, and per Jeffm, a few years of work experience AND (notice the caps) the "right attitude," if all you can make is 70-80k, especially if that. comes in the form of running a business with the added stress of the law in general, I think it's safe to say law is a huge fucking scam.

    Guys I know in the municipal trades and municipal cop jobs make double that with total job security, no loans, no lost opportunity cost, and in some instances, retirement at 42-45.

    70-80k is not a good outcome for a "winner" in something that involves close to 300k in capital investment and close to a decade of education. That a few people will be raped less hard than the rest changes nothing.

    If garbagemen made 80k, politicians would lose their job (they would fucking riot the city down).


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    1. That is a completely valid opinion. Mine is not too far behind yours. The only difference is that, speaking only from my experience, I can certainly really appreciate the fact that I could blow off 5+ hours per workday and still make what UPS drivers make working 8+ hours/day. That part was always nice. But it's not the end-all.

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    2. @June 4, 2013 at 12:52 PM

      Copy that, Red Leader.

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    3. But that's your experience Jeff, and it means nothing to anyone else but you. Do you get that? You made a comment above about introverts vs. extroverts which is very telling. Introverts do not lack the capacity to understand others, some are not even shy, and in MY experience introverts make better trial lawyers. Extroverts believe the world and their belief system are one in the same, their inner world and the outer world are the same. It was extroverts that caused the economic meltdown in 2008, it is extroverts that have caused the disfunctional legal system and law school system. You are entitled to your opinion, but your opinion is only useful to you. Things are different now, law is not a sane career move, instead going to law school has been described as "economic suicide" by Bloomberg News (not exactly the publication for bleeding hearts). I'm am glad you made money in this profession, they same way I am glad my grandfather made money in bootlegging. But bootlegging and lawyering do not make money any more.

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    4. But that's your experience Jeff, and it means nothing to anyone else but you. Do you get that? You made a comment above about introverts vs. extroverts which is very telling. Introverts do not lack the capacity to understand others, some are not even shy, and in MY experience introverts make better trial lawyers. Extroverts believe the world and their belief system are one in the same, their inner world and the outer world are the same. It was extroverts that caused the economic meltdown in 2008, it is extroverts that have caused the disfunctional legal system and law school system. You are entitled to your opinion, but your opinion is only useful to you. Things are different now, law is not a sane career move, instead going to law school has been described as "economic suicide" by Bloomberg News (not exactly the publication for bleeding hearts). I'm am glad you made money in this profession, they same way I am glad my grandfather made money in bootlegging. But bootlegging and lawyering do not make money any more.

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    5. "... and it means nothing to anyone else but you. Do you get that?"

      Right back to you. Interesting, when you recognize it's a 2-way street.

      The point is, your experience is not mine, mine is not yours, and there will be many others whose experiences are not like either of ours.

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  8. How can this thread not have a picture of Han Solo on it?

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    1. Good call; absolutely had to fix that. Updated!

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  9. Today's Solo = Realtor.

    You get the class-pass that is stamped 'Professional.' You work indoors, wear nice clothes, and don't have to lift things.

    And you do it in your free time, make sure your spouse is the primary breadwinner and insurance provider, and you are pleasantly surprised when a check comes in.

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  10. There's not an unlimited market for solos. You don't control the market. The marketplace isn't growing as fast as the number of lawyers.

    Lawyers can't LEGITIMATELY create new work. You're supposed to service clients' needs as created by the clients or the state. Of course, you can run cases, as some probably do but that's wrong.

    The criminal element isn't going to go out and get arrested and charged more frequently because they hear you're a great new defense lawyer or because there are more lawyers in the US to defend them. And it's doubtful a virgin, non-criminal will go out and try a murder or manslaughter just to try-out your great legal services.

    Couples aren't gonna get divorces just because they hear you're good, and offering a discount on marital dissolution representation: "Honey, let's have a child custody dispute because I hear Marc's a great lawyer." Or, "Wow, my previous divorce was handled in the 254th. My lawyer says that there's a 50% discount for repeat business."

    "Why don't you not pay your federal income taxes .. in fact, lie on your return... so I can represent you." Right.

    The rising number of lawyers has not risen in response to any market stimulus. It rose from the law schools' desire to make money. This has dire and continuing financial consequences for solo practitioners. It's coming home to roost.

    Law schools have no business considering solo-by-default as an employment category.

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  11. I hope lemmings reading these comments can take a wider view and recognize the similarities between the commentators here and the climate change "discussion" perpetrated by the media.

    Something like 99% of all serious scientists (scambloggers like Nando, etc) acknowlege that man-made CO2 is causing the globe to warm. On the other hand, we have a small group of extremely vocal and well-funded Deniers (JeffM) claiming that man-made CO2 is doing nothing and that things should go along as normal.

    The Deniers job is not to get to the truth, but to obfuscate it. This lets them perpetuate or delay the inevitable changes in law school reforms that will hurt the economic interests of their patrons. Deniers enable law school administrators and professors to leach the last bits of blood from lemmings.

    The Deniers job is not to get to the truth, but to obfuscate it.
    At the end of the day, it's your ass that's going to be underwater, not a Denier.

    I grow weary of repeating this, but the FACTS are very simple, lemmings.
    (a) Law schools are churning out twice as many lawyers as there are jobs for them.
    (b) There are hordes of infinitely better qualified and pedigreed lawyers gunning for ALL the other in-house, smaller firm and government work.
    (c) Goverment work is incredibly selective these days and a mere TTT Cum Laude degree with Moot Court will not suffice.
    (d) You will NOT suceed as a Solo Toileteer because the very characteristics that put you down this "career" path are the very ones that work against you as a prospective solo.

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    1. "You will NOT suceed as a Solo Toileteer because the very characteristics that put you down this "career" path are the very ones that work against you as a prospective solo."

      What characteristics would those be?

      Incidentally, have you ever studied how they collect temperatures from around the world to accumulate the data which they claim supports that the globe is warming? It is a joke. http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/08/how-bad-data-contribute-to-global-warming-hysteria.php

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    2. So you are a climate change denier too. Anyway, check this out.

      http://www.alternet.org/environment/99-one-liners-rebut-climate-change-denier-talking-points

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    3. That's ridiculous garbage. I live in Houston. We have hurricanes. Every year they come out with models and predictions of how many hurricanes we are going to have this coming season. They are always wrong. Incidentally, they are routinely WAY wrong. They can't predict a few months out, and you think they can predict decades out? That's absurd. http://brianhuddleston.blogspot.com/2010/12/csu-hurricane-predictions-six-year.html

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    4. Already covered in #60

      Skeptic Argument: "Scientists can't even predict weather"

      Response:

      "Weather is chaotic, making prediction difficult. However, climate takes a long term view, averaging weather out over time. This removes the chaotic element, enabling climate models to successfully predict future climate change"

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/weather-forecasts-vs-climate-models-predictions.htm

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    5. JeffM,

      In response, I'll just repeat my first post and Thane Messinger's response.

      "I am old enough that I recognize personality types pretty easily and there were very few folks at my TTT with the personality skills to pull off a solo career. I know a number of people who tried to solo out of desperation and they simply didn't make it. God knows how they put food on the table. A website doth not a practice make.

      If I were a prospective client selecting a lawyer and I had to choose between a greybeard and a pimply 26 year old, there's no way I'm giving the kid a chance. Even if the kid is offering a cut rate. Maybe it's different in the lower bowels of sh*tlaw, but I work in IP and no one takes you seriously there unless you have a good solid 3-4 years of mentored experience.

      That's what makes the law school scam especially pernicious at any level below the top rung. It takes precisely those who are least likely to suceed in the solo world and gives them little other choice upon graduation."

      THANE:
      Anon 5:59 -

      You raise perhaps the single most vexing problem in legal education and the profession in the double bind presented to graduates: they are "in," in which case they are trained in the actual practice of law and have an actual shot at a decent life; or they are "out," in which case they will have neither. This has always been true, but it has not always been true for nearly everyone. What makes law school a scam now is not just the underlying defect of a lack of real training in the law, but the massive expansion of law schools, the even more massive increases in tuition, and the cliff over which legal hiring fell, likely never to return.

      For years I have been solidly in the naysayer camp with regard to going solo. My objection used to be based, rather simplistically, on a comment from a colleague: "Solos are walking malpractice suits." This is, sadly, a true statement, not because solos are inherently less deserving than any other new practitioner, but because the demands of law practice are at odds with the characteristics of a solo practice. For a *new* practitioner, it ought not be even arguable that they are qualified to represent a client. To borrow an overused analogy, if medical school were run like law schools, what would we say about an appendectomy done by someone who had never actually done an operation before, and in fact spent the years of law school studying things like "the torso, a primer" and "gender, race, and alternative sexuality in postmodern dermatology.”

      Even an experienced, good practitioner should not be solo. About the only exceptions might be those with sufficiently high quotients of Asperger's as to be nearly impossible to work with (which, of course, raises questions about just how competent such a person would be with clients, opposing counsel, and the court).

      More deeply, the comments of nearly everyone here points to the same reality: the very graduates who are most likely to be in the greatest peril are the ones who are least likely to have the innate skills to make a genuine go of a solo practice. Moreover, for that tiny percentage that does have the skills, energy, and drive, why stop at solo, and why stop at law? Why not simply use those entrepreneurial energies to build a business, and make real money?

      Our efforts are directed, it seems, at opening the eyes of the all-but-unconscious prelaws, to get them to ask themselves, seriously, if they have what it takes and if they're truly willing to spin the career (and now life) on a roll of the law school dice. The answer, for perhaps 80%, is no.

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    6. Jeffm cites to powerline - a blog written by lawyers - as authority on climate issues. Good to know and explains a lot.

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  12. Just do e-discovery, guys.

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