Monday, June 24, 2013

The Scamblogger "Wall"

The recent post from the Adjunct Law Professor hit me very close to home.  Until a couple months ago I have been an avid devourer of news relating to changes in the law schools, anything about the law school scam, the legal job market, and the higher ed bubble in general.

But as many of you know other things get in the way.  For me it was a combination of a fatigue and weariness of following the scam, law school finals approaching, and a break-up.  I just didn't feel like scouring the internet for the latest news, or even spending the necessary 15 to 30 minutes for a decent blog post on this blog (when I first saw it advertised I was so excited to contribute I was one of the first people to volunteer via e-mail).

Something else that can dampen enthusiasm is the seeming lack of progress, or slow progress, that is being made.  This is unavoidable.  The vast majority of us do not sit on ABA accreditation boards, hold law school deanships, or are employed as senior law faculty.  Neither do we occupy influential positions for student loan policy or hold a position of respect in order to shape the behavior of tens of thousands of unsuspecting prospective law students.

We can react in different ways when ourselves or others hit the inevitable "wall."  I think the worst thing that we can do is lash out at those who are hitting the wall, as in the way the Adjunct Law Professor did.  True, a certain amount of "rouse the troops" leadership is needed, but we are all adults and don't need to be berated with profanity.

Instead the inescapable needs to be acknowledged and adapted to.  Professor Campos, a favorite blogger for many, felt obligated to completely stop posting.  Instead of complaining about his decision and dwelling on it this blog was created in order to create a platform to do something similar.  The dozen or so contributors of this site theoretically lowers the burnout.

We're trying to take on an established multibillion dollar industry.  It extracts billions of dollars a year in taxpayer student loans that should not be granted.  This battle will take a long time to be concluded.  There will be other Campos's.  Hell, there will be other Antiro's, or Adjunct Law Professors, and Outside the Law School Scams.

We have to take a multi-year fight day-by-day.  Law schools have seen a double digit percent decrease in applications for each of the past three years, they are only going to be more desperate here on out.  We need to be patient, and continue to calmly point out this indisputable fact to those in the legal field and those who are thinking about entering it: "the current cost of law school is far too expensive, and far too many people are graduating from law school."


  1. Idea for guerrilla scambusting: your school probably has several "online chats" regarding financial aid where prospective marks can ask the con artists (admissions and financial aid staff) questions about law school and why it is so f***ing awesome. You can log in and chat, because all you need is an email address. What I have done in the past is to post the average indebtedness and the employment stats for the last few years and then asked the "staff" to explain why, given those numbers, someone should go to their law school. The moderator immediately kicked me, but point made. This doesn't reach a ton of people, but what you lose in volume you gain in the focus of the target audience (or maybe not whatever still it's something). You will need to register in advance usually. It can generally be done anonymously if you get creative, but even if you have to post as yourself, as long as you post verifiable stats your risk is almost nil. Just a thought, go get 'em if you dare.

  2. TLS - Go to "Vale of Tears"

  3. Good post.

    The fight has just begun. We got years ahead of us before anything happens.

    This blog needs to become a go-to for law school news. Keep it objective and professional to shore up broad base (although I must admit I am a fan of Nando's turds but many people don't share the sense of humor).

    As for ALP, she has a right to say whatever, this blog did a pretty good job of separating her post from the general message.

  4. We are all making a difference little by little. Every time we post a comment we are putting information out there that will be seen by anyone who has the wherewithal to google "law school." The internet has made that possible. I and many other practicing lawyers do all we can to educate 0Ls on the realities of this "profession." The truth cannot ultimately be supressed.

  5. Antiro -

    This is going to be a long process, there will be no clear end (much less, "victory"), each has a different take, and law schools are hardly going to take this lying down.

    There are now several sources, including Con Law, that highlight just how bad this is. While we can each have our own approach and limits, it seems as an initial matter that the first challenge is to reach as many prospective students as possible.

    As Charles Cooper has written elsewhere, in Con Law he and I do not take an all-or-nothing approach: Law school is a mistake for most students. But not all. The danger is that nearly all students assume they're in the latter category, while we each know that many, many more are in the former. Some of this is based on rankings, loans, etc.; some is based on the qualities students assume go into law school (but applied very differently than they assume); some is based on luck.

    An additional trick is that, once the decision to go to law school is made, it's important not to focus on the scam part, and instead to "do law school right," which nearly no one does. Why? Because law school is unlike all schools before it . . . which, in large part, is because of the scam.

    Every student should read Con Law (or a book by Campos, Tamanaha, or Harper) . . . before taking the LSAT, and certainly before sending in the tuition deposit.

    They should also read *serious* prelaw books, such as Planet Law School (soon out-of-print, I think); Law School Undercover (as to "biglaw" attributes); or, ahem, Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold.

    If they can read any one of the above in either category, and *still* want to go, then the arguments shift more in favor of attending. Or less in favor of "Are you crazy?!" But if, like many students, they're on their way to law school just 'cause, we might save them enormous headaches (and heartache) by helping them to take the radical leap to decline to play the game.


    1. That's a very good point that many people seem to forget.

      I might even put myself in the small category of people you speak of: I feel that the perfect job for me is a county prosecutor for a mid-sized town in my home state, and I am graduating from law school next May with 0 debt.

      But then again, maybe I am just proving your point . . .

      Thanks for the great post!

    2. Good job, Antiro. Congratulations.

  6. The law school brand must be destroyed. That will only be accomplished by never giving up and succumbing to apathy or other distractions. We have the moral high ground but not the money. Never mind. All we need is the will to keep fighting. I personally have the will to keep this going as long as I must. I have been fighting the law school establishment for 5 years and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. Remember, it's the side with the most will that will eventually win.

  7. Remember the Law School Scam is built directly on --and relies wholly on-- the Lawyering Scam. Law school is a ticket to Lawyering. Even the most benighted lemming understands that law school will one day come to an end and he'll then be a Lawyer. That's the golden ticket. Oh happy day.

    The wall you'll hit is that of cultural class programming. Doctors and lawyers are professionals who are well dressed, well spoken, don't have extensive tattoos, send their kids to good schools, live in nice neighborhoods, and drive nice cars. Parents and their kids crave this. They are desperate to get on any vehicle that will take them to the mansion in the West Hills.

    "Lawyering will get me there." But Law is no longer the ticket to any of that. It's now not even a lesser form of professional. It's just a title.

    And, for the record, lawyering has never been the same as being a doctor. Doctors are clearly learned professionals and are generally very, very well though of. Psychologically and linguistically, lawyers are their professional cousins in the public mind. People and their parents crave this professional status.

    People need to wake up to the fact that the habitual mental and linguistic marriage of "doctors and lawyers" is misguided. Lawyering produces a less rigorous type of professional... one now that is probably worth very little.

    Doctors have prescribed Pre-Med courses that are rooted in the sciences, including biology, physics, chemistry, etc. Law school is famous for having no set pre-curriculum. You can go with a fashion merchandising or medieval history degree. But lawyers created the construct of "pre-law" in an attempt to ape doctors. The educational prerequisites simply aren't the same, however.

    Things sometimes get better with a doctor's touch. Ninety-nine percent of the time, however, a lawyer can't cure his client's ill in a several hour consultation, and certainly not with his touch. "Going to the lawyer" ain't the same as "going to the doctor."

    Puncturing the false equivalency of doctors and lawyers, and de-gilding the lily of Lawyering is the key to breaching the wall.

    1. great post, it's amazing how many people still think being a lawyer is a guaranteed ticket to at least an upper-middle class lifestyle. anyone can become a lawyer as long as they sit for the LSAT and have the stomach to borrow 6 figures of debt. not a very exclusive club.

  8. Tiny Anon PartnerJune 25, 2013 at 6:25 AM

    Hang in there. Someone needs to keep this topic alive on the net, since Prof. Campos stopped. 0Ls need to have access to information about the REAL risks of going to law school.

  9. I wonder why Campos quite blogging so suddenly? Seems like a school like Colorado is probably feeling the direct effects of a 30-40% reduction in applicants and maybe his message was too strong in getting the word out and legitimizing the scam blogs. Maybe he realized the power that blogging and the scam blogs can have on the law school applicant pool.

    Anyway, I don't think the scam blogs are a waste or that they have hit any sort of "wall", I mean it is pretty amazing that over the past 3 years, there has been like a 40% drop in law skool applicants. That is an amazing feat! We need to keep the message alive.

    1. I think he felt he had said all I could say, and was just getting to the point of repeating himself, and it was time to move on. He said as much in a post.

  10. So, the poster Antiro is currently a law student??? Why the heck are you in LS, you enrolled in 2010 or later? when all the information about the scam was available and yet you are still "studying for finals" wtf??? doesn't make any sense.

    1. Yes, in previous posts I have mentioned that I just finished up my 2L year at a low-ranked Midwestern law school on a full tuition discount, and will graduate next May with $0 debt.

      I naively assumed that going to law school and becoming a lawyer was a sure ticket to the upper-middle class office job lifestyle that I wanted through my college years. I did not do my due diligence in the least, and part of my penance is informing others.

      Why do I stick with it? Because I am graduating with zero debt and my dream job is a county prosecutor in a mid-sized town in my home state. I can't do that any other way.

      I personally never heard of the law school scam until February of 2012, a few weeks into my second semester of my first year of law school.

    2. Great, you fall in the very small category of people where law school might not be a very bad investment. At first, I was like wtf...haha.

  11. It will be a long, slow process. People want to see justice, so they want to see professors and deans who have profited from the scam to lose their jobs.

    However, this is unlikely to happen anytime soon, save for the few schools that will eventually close.

    There has been so much featherbedding in every aspect of the scam for decades that the wind-down will take forever.

    Rather than lose their jobs, Professors will just take $130K instead of $170, if backed against the wall. They'll teach three courses per semester instead of two---and they'll slow new hiring to a crawl.

    When a few schools close, it will be disasterous for those schools, but others will actually benefit as they'll skim the highest ranking students bought with "scholarships" from that school and add them to their own ranks.

    So there will not be some huge event where cosmic justice occurs in a certain year. Progress will be incremental....but it will come, so long as the truth continues to be told.

    The truth, though, in the form of actual employment statistics....that is their kryptonite.

    A simple requirement that each school list each graduates employer one year from the date of graduation would work wonders, but we're unlikely to ever see that happen.

    1. You bring up a good point. I think the current scammers (at least the tenured ones) will likely avoid the fallout when the scam collapses. Even if they do lose their jobs, they will likely leave with all kinds of benefits and severance pay, not to mention the savings they should have built up making huge salaries for years. The financial backers of the schools can just sell the facilities that were bought with tuition money.

      We will probably never be able to "punish" those who scammed us. The best we can hope for is to prevent the scam from continuing. In my opinion, shutting off the firehose of government-backed student loans is the only way to stop/slow the scam.