Saturday, June 29, 2013

Will Vermont Law School Soon Start a Coffee Kitty?

"Vermont Law School Makes More Cuts as Class Size Drops,"  by Alicia Freese (, June 27, 2013)

Money Quote: "Starting last September, VLS enacted a plan to shrink the school in response to a tuition dollar drought that left it with a $3.3 million budget gap. The school attracted national attention last winter when it cut 12 staff positions -- 10 were through voluntary buyouts and two were involuntary."

"This past spring, in a quieter move, VLS whittled down its faculty. Eight professors, of the 40 who were eligible, voluntarily moved from full-time to part-time positions. Mihaly estimated that two or three other positions were eliminated when professors departed for personal reasons."

"VLS has been pruning expenses elsewhere, too. It has cut down on cleaning services and changed the hours and offerings of its food service, among other changes. At one point, there were conversations about whether coffee would continue to be available in offices, according to one staff member."


"Aloofness will cost WSU, others their franchise," by Nolan Finley (Detroit News, June 27, 2013)

Money Quote: "'There's not much market force at work in higher education,' [Outgoing Wayne State University President and former auto executive Allan Gilmore] says [explaining a 8.9 per cent tuition hike]. For example, he can't ask his professors, who make on average $117,000 a year, to increase their productivity by teaching more than two three-hour classes a week. Why? Because competing schools don't. He agreed to an eight-year contract with annual raises for professors of 2.5 percent, despite the school's crumbling finances. Why? Because other schools might lure them away. While some professors are fully engaged in instruction, research and mentoring, Gilmour admits that not all are fully occupied. And while some of his professors could leave for more prestigious positions, Gilmour says most would be hard-pressed to find a better job than the one they have at Wayne. And yet he can't make innovative changes that might save money and spare students from tuition hikes unless all the other universities Wayne competes with do the same thing, at the same time, for fear of losing his few world-class professors. Talking with Gilmour, I couldn't stop drawing comparisons to his former industry. For decades, the Big Three automakers made poor decisions in lockstep, signed the same destructive labor contracts and believed that as long as they were united in their disregard for their customers, they would be shielded from competition. When the competition came, it brought innovation and customer-focused thinking to the industry, and nearly destroyed the Big Three. Higher education risks the same fate. Students can't keep taking on an average of $27,000 in debt to get jobs that start at little more than that, or no job at all."

Great article start to finish.


Money Quote: "Task Force chair Randall T. Shepard, retired chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court, said after Monday's meeting that the discussion reflected an 'earnest concern' among task force members over the costs of a legal education and an 'earnest interest' in trying to identify steps that schools and the legal profession can take that might reverse that long-term trend....But there appears to be no consensus as to what, if anything, the task force can say or do that would help control the costs of a legal education or lessen the impact that U.S. News and World Report's annual law school rankings have had on law school admissions and the broader legal culture."

See article above about Big 3 Auto industry.


"At Law School Graduations, Scant Talk About Job Market,"  by Grace Tatter and Claire Zillman (The AmLaw Daily)

Money Quote: "What do you say to an audience of would-be lawyers who just spent thousands of dollars -- much, if not all, of it borrowed -- to earn a degree that only two-thirds of them will even use in their first post-graduation job?...What we found was plenty of sage advice, but little blunt talk. Several of those who didn't dance awkwardly around the subject or punt on it altogether chose to joke about graduates' job prospects and debt obligations. It's unclear how well those wisecracks played."

Those Raman Noodle jokes will even be less funny when the student loans start coming due.


"Art School is a Tragic Rip Off,"  by Kate Seamons (Newser, June 27, 2013)

Money Quote: "Move over, law school: There's a new worthless degree in town...."

Artist Noah Bradley lays out a $10,000 art education and tells students to skip the $246K Rhode Island School of Design route. He explains you can't support yourself as an artist with a $3K a month student loan payment for 10 years. That might work for artists, but lawyers have no choice but to go the expensive route to pursue a career as an attorney.

Law school is a tragic rip off too. Art students knew they would be eating Raman noodles most of their lives when they went that route. It's a shock for the newly minted lawyers.


  1. I might get around to ginning up some economic charts for this, with trendlines and all that.

    If I wasn't so busy practicing law and raising a family.

  2. To any college student considering going to law school, or to any high school student assuming you'll go straight to college, consider instead:

    1. Join the military. See the world, learn a few things, get some experience, put yourself to the head of the line in a few job categories, get your head on straight, and benefit from some serious tuition-assistance programs.

    2. Travel abroad and teach English, instead. You won't appreciate the U.S. until you've lived elsewhere. (The same is true in reverse, of course, although many who travel TO the U.S. are even more appreciative of what we have (and what *we* fail to appreciate).)

    3. Travel to North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, or anywhere else where the natural gas and oil industry are taking off. Just go.

    In an old film, The Graduate, the old fogey is giving advice to the main character played by a young Dustin Hoffman:

    Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.

    Benjamin: Yes, sir.

    Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?

    Benjamin: Yes, I am.

    Mr. McGuire: Plastics.

    Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?

    Mr. McGuire: There's a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?

    Replace "Plastics" with "fracking," and the advice holds.

    3.5 Re Benjamin, if you're male and can find an older woman to seduce you, good going. If you're female, well, I'll leave that advice alone.

    4. If you're going to attend college anyway, read College Fast Track, by Derrick Hibbard.

    5. And if, if, IF you're non-dissuadable from law school: take online advice with a grain of salt, read ALL of the books on law school, and do NOT do law school as everyone tells you you should.


    1. To anyone who is looking at the military, talk to people who have actually served so that you get a realistic idea of what it is like. Don't rely on recruiters, they can be as bad as law schools in giving you rosy information. Also keep in mind two things: Stop Loss and Post Traumatic Stress disorder. Those two things can really screw up your life. Also remember that Congress will be all too willing to sacrifice your life so that they can appear tough, while keeping their children as far as possible from the conflict.

      Now on to fracking. Keep in mind that you will be directly participating in something that is an environmental nightmare. Polluted groundwater, Green House gas emissions, etc. I don't know about you, but I like clean water and clean air. Of course Natural Gas is cleaner than coal in green house gas emissions, particulate, etc., however North Dakota is flaring the natural gas when they frack for oil rather than using it because it is cheaper that way, so currently that is boosting the Carbon footprint of that. We should really phase all of this out for renewable energy.

    2. Join military = bad idea for anyone who us not interested in that route. It's a boring, often dangerous mess. You work all day with some of the stupidest people in the nation, in a misogynistic and alpha male system. And when you realize that it's all a bunch of shit, you still have three years of duty left.

    3. Anon 8:35 -

      Agreed as to the military.

      As to fracking, not quite. First, oil and (especially) natural gas are less damaging than bituminous/lignite coal, which they primarily replace. Fortunately or not, we've massive amounts of all three. Nuclear is arguably the better practical option, being the only option (including renewables) that doesn't produce CO2, but of course there's not a whole lot of clamoring for that, among polite society especially. Renewables, which everyone including Bambi likes . . . is not ready for prime time. There is simply no practical means to replace hydrocarbons (or nuclear) for renewables at any time in the foreseeable (50-year) future. At most it's in the very-low-single-digits. Moreover, the environmental damage is coming primarily not from the U.S., but from elsewhere. "Saving" the environment in North Dakota--which is not fair to the technologies and care employed by drillers--is not going to make the difference implied.

      As to natural gas flaring, I wonder why that's so. Regulation, per chance?

      The statement about liking clean water and air is simply an insult. It's almost cartoonish to say that evil capitalists howl with glee at the thought of black crude gushing all over the forests.

      Besides, remember Lake Erie of the 1980s?

      That aside, the wages for individuals in oil and gas are easily twice that of nearly any other industry. Many if not most workers make well into six figures. More than many lawyers, actually.


    4. Anon 10:55 -

      Quite right, although . . .

      "It's a boring, often dangerous mess. You work all day with some of the stupidest people in the nation . . . "

      And that's different from law how?

      ("Dangerous" as to finances for the current generation, certainly.)

      Perhaps the phrase most in need of comment . . .

      Would you prefer beta males?


    5. "'Saving' the environment in North Dakota--which is not fair to the technologies and care employed by drillers--is not going to make the difference implied."

      Tell that to the farmers in North Dakota.

      "As to natural gas flaring, I wonder why that's so. Regulation, per chance?"

      Actually just the cost of Natural Gas has gotten so cheap that it isn't worth the money to them.

      "The statement about liking clean water and air is simply an insult. It's almost cartoonish to say that evil capitalists howl with glee at the thought of black crude gushing all over the forests."

      Good. Glad you noticed. See Deep Water Horizon. See all the oil leaks from oil pipelines. See what is going on in Arkansas.

  3. Shut the mothers down. Now. No 2013 Fall Semester.
    Padlock the front doors and board-up the windows.

    Law school = plantation. Romanticized in Hollywood (Gone with the Wind/Paper Chase) but in reality, the stage for gross exploitation.

    And no, it's not 'plastics.' Anyone thinking of law school needs rubbers. Full body condoms.


    1. "And no, it's not 'plastics.' Anyone thinking of law school needs rubbers. Full body condoms."

      Practice safe education!

      = : )

  4. @June 29th 8:35PM

    Oh.......that old fart is pitching working in the oil fields of North Dakota and joining the military etc. all over the internet. For instance, he calls himself "I_Am_Me" in the comments section of this article here:

  5. This article was written by a Law Professor, and the comments are many faceted and the most intelligent I have ever seen regarding the topic of student loan debt.

    1. Very good article. And not pay wall blocked either!

    2. Not pay wall blocked, but to comment you have to be a paid subscriber. Which is OK I suppose.

      But really the comments are pretty insightful and many are non anon.

    3. The comments are insightful and brutal at the same time. I especially liked the comment from the high school teacher about all the kids and parents being sold on college even when their kid obviously isn't college material.

    4. Well that's the thing of it, RAB. The colleges want people to borrow money and give it to them so they will take anyone who can fill out a loan application. People who sell securities are required by law to "qualify" investors, i.e., make sure that the investor can handle the risk level of a particular vehicle. If they put someone in something too risky they can get sued.

      I like the idea of colleges having to pay off a percentage of defaulted student loans, but I'd also like to see a right of action against colleges that promise lucrative careers that don't materialize.

    5. Another commenter said in so many words that the once unquestioned idea that Higher Ed. will improve the financial well being of a person over the course of a lifetime is simply not true anymore.

      High School teachers have very interesting views as well, and maybe they are a valuable resource of insight - perhaps more valuable than any professor of a College or University or of higher ed.

      I would think that a public High School teacher is first in line as an early interventionist, and therefore in the best position to warn the parents and the student of the potential perils that await from signing or co signing a nondischargeable and highly toxic student loan document.

  6. I'm surprised Karis North has not posted here yet, informing us how great VLS is. Demise? pshaw!

    She is an alumni who claims to have worked in "mega firms," like zero members of the VLS class of 2012 (source:

  7. "The statement about liking clean water and air is simply an insult. It's almost cartoonish to say that evil capitalists howl with glee at the thought of black crude gushing all over the forests. "

    No, but injecting a noxious mix of chemicals into the groundwater is all in a day's work, and the damage to the water supply is not a cost to the people doing it.

  8. Don't know if you've seen it yet, but McGeorge Law School is looking to reduce its student body by 40% over the next few years, with corresponding reduction in staff: