Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Times, They Are (Slowly) A-Changin’…

Put that coffee down. Coffee's for LLMs-only. You think I'm f***in' with you? I am not f***in' with you. I'm here from downtown.  I'm here from Law School.  And I'm here on a mission of mercy.

Just got some unsolicited mail the other day.  LLM program, yeah, whatever, seen ‘em come, seen ‘em go.  Real Estate Law?  Hmm…well, more practical than most LLMs, I suppose.  So I look closer at the bountiful claims.

Courses take a “transactional approach”?  Instructors use “actual real estate forms,” as opposed to “casebooks with appellate decisions”?  Students gain an understanding of “business objectives”?

Wow.  On paper at least, this is a far cry from “Legal Indeterminanacy in Nietzchean Transgendered Moral Positivism concerning Post-1860 Notions of Property Rights,” or some such “Law and fill-in-the-blank” lecturing.  Actual practice-ready materials, with actual people with actual day-to-day legal issues thrown in to boot. 

While not all higher education should be of the oh-so-dreaded “vocational” variety, with its plebeian concerns and travails as some would say, having the pendulum swing back the other way a little bit is a welcome change.  I view this as an indication that a small mental shift is taking place, given all the negative press, costs, and deplorable outcomes for law graduates.  Now, if we could get some of this practicality in the JD program itself…

However, this also smells like teen spirit and desperation – “Be Ready for the Real Estate Industry Rebound!” they proudly proclaim.  As law school enrollment drops, LLMs and other revenue drivers are on the rise, and that is what this is actually all about.  “What’s it gonna take to earn your LLM-business today?”  Not an actual sea change in the mentality and approach of the legal education industry, but an attempt to appear relevant and marketable to new students, freshly-minted JDs and experienced veterans alike, to make up for funding shortfalls.

One reason of many why this is suspect is that the Real Estate Industry in nowhere near rebounding.  Ultimately this is a topic for debate in another forum, but all you have to do is look at Bloomberg, ZeroHedge, and the like to see that the “smart money” is already exiting the real estate market in the so-called “recovery,” now that a second real-estate bubble has started to rise.  See, for example, here and here.  Many economists don’t think we will see actual, fundamental rehabilitation in real estate, commercial or residential, for many, many years, and even then it will continue to be a slow climb. 

But hey, a Real Estate LLM sounds legit, right?  Get in on the “rebound,” everybody! 

As with all things, proceed with extreme caution, especially where Law School is concerned.  They have tipped their hand once already, so remember who you are gambling with.


  1. The market is not rebounding, but that doesn't mean there's still not big money to be made if you know where to look. Problem is you also need a shitload of cash to finance those deals. The rich get richer.

    But to your point, there is probably nothing in this LLM that is (a) practical and (b) something that can't be picked up by working for one month as a real estate lawyer. Working a desk in a classroom is nothing like working a deal in real life, and no professor will be able to simulate that. Forms and documents are always out of place being analysed in a classroom.

    Experience trumps education 9 times out if 10 these days. Probably alway has.

    Avoid LLMs at all costs.

    1. Pure golden advice. Stay fucking away from ANY LLM.

  2. Lipstick on a pig.

    One thing I very quickly learned about the legal field is that it's a zero-sum game.

    Real Estate law. Okay.. fine. Whatever.. Area "X" in law. One's the same as the next.

    There are already established practitioners doing these complex transactions out there already. Every area of law, without exception, is flooded with an overcapacity of experienced attorneys.

    The legal field comes down to a game of Musical Chairs where the older experienced, established attorneys sit their fat Boomer asses in the few chairs faster than the younger, heavily-indebted ones do.

    Programs like the above only serve as a doubling-down of otherwise good money after bad. The LLM grad is pigeonholed, more heavily in debt, and still without a job. The winners in such programs are, of course, the schools and the law professors.

    Sorry Charlie...

    LLM's are for kids.


    1. Spot on, 6:16.

      Law is a zero-sum game, and every area of law, without exception, has long been WAY flooded with an overcapacity of experienced attorneys. It's actually getting comical (and linguistically questionable) trying to use adjectives to describe the situation: "super over-flooded", "beyond super-saturated", "hyper glutted"....

      The only thing that hard work, persistence, and exploitation of connections can possibly yield you today is yet a further division of a now-shrinking pie. That's the best you can do.

      The business of law ain't in the practice of law. It's in the selling of credentials: test prep, Law Skool, LLM programs, CLE's, etc., etc.

      If it's all on daddy's dime, I'd say go for one of these LLM programs. Get buzzed, go to class, and ask assinine questions. Or don't go. It doesn't matter. All that law has to offer you right now is the ability to purchase 'credentials'.

    2. Thanks for the thumbs up 6:54!

      "The only thing that hard work, persistence, and exploitation of connections can possibly yield you today is yet a further division of a now-shrinking pie. That's the best you can do."

      Bingo. An ever-shrinking pie.

      Law is like poker as well. A game of imperfect information. You don't know who is holding those cards of family money, connections, etc.

      Hint: If it's NOT you, you've just found the fish at the table..

      Who's SOL then??

  3. Yeah, I would've stopped reading that ad at "Real Estate Industry Rebound." The real estate industry is FAR from "rebounding" - even though it has ultralow rates supporting it.

    Imagine what'll happen when the interest rates actually start to rise ...

  4. John Marshall is a festering cesspool of Toiletry. Everyone who goes there tries to transfer "up" to other Chicago area Toilets like Kent or Loyola. That should give you some idea what value you'll get from JMLS.

    1. Loyola/Kent > John Marshall?

      Who knew?

      Aren't all three of them pretty much interchangeable?

    2. Anon @7:39
      (sigh) ... Yes, you're right. They are ALL First-Rate Toilets.

      Here's the thing though. I am a Kent alum and remember thinking in 2005 we were the second best law school in Chicago.
      Yes, stop laughing. Some of us really believed that.

      You have to remember, this was 2005, before everything fell to pieces. We did have better facilities. And somehow we thought there was a difference between a ranking of 60 and 100+ in USNWR.

      The last thing I'm going to do now is defend Kent. It ruined me financially and left me unemployed for 2 years. That's why we need to keep up the stream of honest reporting and commentary on the scam. I have spread the word about this vile industry for 4 years and I am not going to rest until I have helped destroy the law school brand. I am not going to rest until the schools are shut down and these scumbag "professors" are thrown on their asses and their children kicked out of private schools. I hate these repulsive cu#ts.

    3. Kent, JMLS, DePaul and Loyola are all interchangeable in the sense that none of them should be open at this point. I've met good and bad lawyers from Kent and JMLS, but it's hard to fathom why anyone is enrolling at these dungheaps at this point. When I worked for the state we used to have a ton of JMLS interns cycling through every semester. None of the 2Ls or 3Ls out of JMLS ever had summer or post-grad jobs lined up. It seemed like the 3Ls I got to know from there had given up on even trying, they were mostly aiming at non-law careers post-graduation.

    4. No offense 9:00, but your comment speaks to the power of delusion in the mind of the OL, that a bunch of Kent kids had convinced themselves they were on a level with Northwestern grads.
      Kent, JMLS, DePaul, and Loyola should all be closed yesterday. Chicago big law draws from the entire country, and Chicago mid law/s**tlaw draws from the entire midwest. It's beyond insane that the state of IL has 9 law schools, with 6 in Chicago. When I worked at the state (2006 to 2010) we used to get a ton of interns from JMLS every semester. None of them seemed to have jobs lined up. I expect it's only gotten worse for the kids whose daddies aren't lawyers.

    5. Kent/Loyola suck. Depaul sucks more. JMLS sucks even more.

      That said, I do know a few people who've been through JMLS's LLM programs. They seem practical and helpful, and they push connections in Chicago. It's well-intentioned, and in some cases, works (they mostly have in-field jobs now).

      Of course, it's almost certainly not worth the ridiculous cost.

    6. @9:00-

      Fellow Kent alum here. I got the exact same pitch when I was looking in '08. I wish I could find the brochure, because it actually boasted Kent's high placement rate in Chicago as being higher than the other schools. The general pitch was that if you want to work nationally, go to UC or NU, but if you want to work in Chicago, Kent's the place. I swear I'm not making this up, as it's one of the reasons I wound up choosing Kent over Loyola.

      B to the S. Total, ridiculous BS. I value the part of my Kent education that actually taught useful skills (the adjuncts and clinical faculty are great, IMO; not as much with the old-guard tenured folks like Brill or Conviser - I laugh whenever I see some law school guide suggesting to take a course with him).

      But the advertising and lies to prop up tuition rates are simply indefensible and disgusting, almost as much as the fact that so many alumni seem willing to take it in silence like subservient sex slaves. Kent totally sells the norm as landing an established firm job or landing with the state's attorney - reality is that the norm is landing with a small firm making 40k hoping the lead partner doesn't have a heart attack. I've seen personable honors-level grads from there struggle on the employment market because Chicago is so saturated.

      IMO, Chicago needs a local alternative to UC and NU, but not four/five of them! I wouldn't shed a tear if Kent circled the drain in one way or another, and I'm sure as hell not recommending anyone to go there unless they slash tuition by 2/3.

    7. @ 9:00,

      You might be in for a long wait. Wouldn't it be better to focus that energy on making money on the side? Me, I'm working on designing a very marketable (I think) iPhone app in my free time.

      - 7:39

    8. @09:56
      Yes, you're right. The law schools count on the collective delusions of OLs and I wasn't any different. We disregard the evidence that contradicts our preconceived notions. In my case, it did not help that Kent put out patently false employment data and that my T14 law professor brother-in-law said it was a great school to go to and that I should go.

      It's tough fighting the special snowflake syndrome. I tried mightily to dissuade one gal from going to DePaul. She went anyway ('09-12) and is now right back at the same low-paying no-future job she had before law school.

      Yeah, they made the same pitch in '05 as they did on '08 about high placement rates.

      And I agree that many alumni do not seem willing to admit they got suckered. That's another problem we face. I know a lot of Kent alums working in "JD Advantage" jobs and they seem unwilling to admit they made a mistake. There's still this vague notion that things will magically turn around.

      Maybe 50% of the IP types I know who went to Kent wound up at the PTO or doing some other no-future crap-type work for less than $50K. These are unacceptable outcomes for a school that charges, what, $35K/year.

    9. How the hell do you work "nationally," anyway? Even DOJ attorneys are assigned to cities. Maybe if you become the actual Attorney General or land at SCOTUS, but other than that...

    10. Tuition is now more like 42k there.

  5. "... the fall 2013 semester which beings in August..."

    What a concept. There are actually people out there who at this moment are getting ready to get on the Yellow Brick Road and are off to see the Wizard. What can they be thinking? And what are their sources of contact with the outside world?

    The whole notion of a law-skool bound student in mid-2013 reminds me of stories about Japanese soldiers who were discovered on remote Pacific islands still in hiding, decades after the end of World War II, unaware that the war had ended long ago.

    The concept of an LLM candidate entering a law school in the fall of 2013 is like a 2013 person going onto one of those islands and waiting for the return of Emperor Hirohito and the recommencement of the war in the Pacific.

  6. First a BA, then a JD, next an LLM! And if that doesn’t work, you can always go for an MBA! All that stands between you and the life you imagined you'd have is one more (very expensive) degree. The suckers never learn.

  7. Why do people encourage law school if the parents are paying for it? That's still a massive waste of money. Your own family's money!

    1. Because the kids have nothing else better to do in this economy, and because it makes the bill-paying parents very proud. It's bringing the purchasers happiness and status (in their own eyes, at least).

      Titles fascinate and impress.

    2. True enough. If anyone actually has parents who are silly (and wasteful) enough to blow money like this, convince them to spot you for a new business instead.

      Or teach English for a year. Or join the Peace Corps for two. Or the Navy for three. Or the Air Force for 20.

      Or just use the money to buy a house, and work at Starbucks.

      Anything but an LLM.

      If it's less than Harvard-Yale (and it should be limited pretty much to those two, or perhaps those plus Stanford), it's a waste of money, time, mental energy, and opportunity cost.


  8. If applications for JDs are down, why not go after something else like LLMs to make up the difference.

  9. Who wants to set-up a Shantytown for recent unemployed law grads in the parking lot of a TTT to coincide with the first day of fall semester 2013? There could be disheveled people sleeping in tents, a soup kitchen, etc. Communal living and seminars on topics like squatters' rights under bridges. Be ready for the Rebound.

    1. HAHAHA, yes! I'd sit in with you. I'll bring my guitar. We can roast weenies!

    2. Let's set up the JD Shantytown on the campus of Third Tier Drake, in time for first year orientation.

    3. I've tried to involve readers a few times with projects that would keep them mostly anonymous...and no sale. I doubt anyone will take the effort to participate in active protest even for one day. Sorry to be the downer, but it is true...

    4. Like Chicago in 1968, Mayor Dailey merely has to suspect that his orderly city will be overrun by dirty, filthy LSD-crazed hippies who are hell-bent on destruction. The whole world is watching.... Oh no! My well-ordered convention is going to go off the rails!!! Call in the army!

      Paranoia soon sets in. Oh no! CBS will be there (or USNWR these days). Can't let this happen!

      As aspiring professionals, the Shantytown should be classy and clean ... especially as far as sanitation is concerned. Make a special point of having Nice Clean Porta-Potties and tell the crowd, "If ya wanna see a foul toilet and unflushed excrement, don't look at us.... just go inside the school. That's what we're fighting AGAINST."

      This will be a Shantytown that's trying to clean-up and shut-down open sewers. And instead of the hippies' threat to put LSD in the water supply (lord knows, the 1L's don't need it), the movement should strive to flush the sewer lines with Vanish, and then apply some Mr. Clean or ammonia with a Johnny Mop.

    5. Adam B, don't give up!

      Could we wear masks?


    At the University of Nebraska, you can earn an LLM in Space, Cyber, and Telecommunication Law!! Who wouldn't jump at this prestigious opportunity?!?! This is such a "lucrative" field, after all.

    You can also receive an LLM in Agricultural and Food Law, from the University of Arkansas. If you don't want beautiful, strange women forcing themselves on top of you in public, don't tell them about your amazing credential.

    You can receive a TTTThoma$ M. Cooley Law Sewer LLM, in any of the following areas:

    Corporate Law and Finance
    Insurance Law
    Intellectual Property

    It's nice to see that these commodes are looking out for the students' best interests, huh?!

  11. My "Space Law" LLM launched my career! Visit my website:

  12. 'Instructors use “actual real estate forms,”'

    You mean like a paralegal course you could probably take at a community college for a fraction the cost?

    And shouldn't they teach that stuff in law school rather than in a post-post-graduate degree?

    1. "Actual real estate forms"? You mean like those things you can find in treatises for free at the county law library?

  13. askm the shitlaw lawyer who does $350 real estate closings about his Real Estate LLM