Sunday, July 14, 2013

Horses, Wine, and Law School

Let's take a quick detour, move away from the facts and figures about student debt, false employment statistics, "professors" who have never practiced law, and misery of the profession as a whole.  Let's take a huge step back and look at law school from a more philosophical perspective.

Pretend for a moment that you’ve just won the lottery or inherited a large sum from a long-lost relative. You buy a beautiful old farm in Kentucky and you build some stables and training facilities to realize your dream of working with horses and perhaps breeding some champions.

You raise all the horses, feed them hay or oats, let them run and play in the fields, and see over time which ones respond best to more intensive training on the track.  Most will never make much of an impact on the racing world.  They’ll be sold off as horses for riding schools or to private owners, but will still lead happy horse lives.  Some will get injured, become sick, or just have bad temperaments or genetics and end up being sent to the glue factory.  But a few will succeed and do well as racehorses after all those years of hard work.  They’ll be strong and resilient, maybe win a few races or place in others, and they’ll win money and eventually be sold for a sizable profit to wealthy individuals.  Now, I’m no horse racing expert, but that sounds about right for how these kinds of stables work.

But what kind of business would you be running if one day you decided that instead of using some of the finest horses for racing, you put some of them on the truck to the glue factory along with the feeblest nags? Just throw them out, pretend that they don't exist.  Stupid, right?

Let’s try another example.  You inherit a vineyard, and you decide to continue the wine making business.  You pick all the grapes, sort them according to quality, taste, sweetness, whatever.  The worst grapes are sent to a jelly factory, or to a juice factory, or end up being turned into raisins.  You keep the good and the best grapes to use to make wine.  The good grapes will be turned into average wine, but the very best will be turned into a delicious, complex, expensive tipple that will win many awards.

This year, out of the thousand or so crates of grapes harvested, half are sub par and will be sent to make juice, just under the remaining half are better and will be turned into reasonable wine, but you have twenty crates of absolutely perfect grapes, the best of the best, enough for a small batch of premium wine.  These grapes have been lovingly nurtured over time, and their deliciousness is a result of genetics and hard work.  But instead of turning all twenty crates into the finest wine you can make, you take a few of the crates and just toss them out with the nasty ones that will get turned into fruit juice or raisins or wherever the bad grapes go.  Madness, no?

Let’s try a third scenario.  A society spends the best part of two decades educating its youth. Elementary school, middle school, high school, then college.  Most students are average and will go on to normal careers.  Some will not succeed for a variety of reasons, and they end up in jail or digging ditches or living under bridges, often being a huge drain on society.  But the very top students, those who work the hardest and who have the finest minds the education system can produce, will go to medical schools and graduate programs or work as engineers, teachers, military officers, scientists, and so forth, and will eventually become tomorrow's leaders, innovators and success stories.

Yet this society is content with taking a portion of those top students, some of the best, and throwing them out with the failures. They get sucked into law school, which produces no leaders or innovators, no benefit to society whatsoever, and there are no jobs waiting at the end.  They become debtors, tax burdens, unemployed, homeless, mentally ill from the stress of failure, too broken financially to ever do much of anything. A handful get lucky and escape, but work in law jobs that have a negative effect on society – ambulance chasers, class action trolls, divorce lawyers and so on, all of whom have the goal of generating legal fees and profiting from the misfortunes of others.

Hopefully, the point is clear.  Law is an extraordinary waste of great minds.

Charles Cooper is the author, along with Thane Messinger, of “Con Law: Avoiding...or Beating...the Scam of the Century (The Real Student's Guide to Law School and the Legal Profession)”, in addition to being the moderator at and the author of “Later in Life Lawyers”.  He can be contacted at


  1. How depressing.

    Cheap wine full of sulfites:

    Crazy Horses:

    And babies being thrown out with the bathwater too.

  2. I wouldn't characterize ditch diggers as being a drain on society or having wasted their life. That's an honorable profession I wish I had the physical stamina to consider. But the rest of the article is very good.

    1. I was referring to those who are in jail and those who end up on the streets - those unfortunate outcomes in life are generally expensive for society and a waste of human lives. Ditch digging, well yes, if that's the best that one can do, then it's honorable. But for most, it's hardly a dream career choice that they aspired to since they were young enough to remember, and (having worked in manual labor for a while in my younger days) it's clear that many are in that position because they made questionable choices earlier in life, or because they have just been dealt a really bad hand. While there's a few who wake up every morning and say, "Wow, another day in the freezing cold! I'm the richest man I know!", there's far more who wake up and say, "My god, my back is ruined, I can't afford medical insurance, I get paid minimum wage, and I have no prospects in life. I wish I had not got that DUI five years ago."

      I didn't mean to offend anyone who works with their hands, but the term "digging ditches" has taken on a cultural sense beyond its literal meaning (i.e. a dead end job for those who have no other choices), and it was that cultural sense in which it was being used.

  3. [quote]. A handful get lucky and escape, but work in law jobs that have a negative effect on society – ambulance chasers, class action trolls, divorce lawyers and so on, all of whom have the goal of generating legal fees and profiting from the misfortunes of others.

    Hopefully, the point is clear. Law is an extraordinary waste of great minds.[/quote]

    You know Charles, reading some of your posts, I really at first thought you were an enlightened guy, but now I see you as bitter and clueless. Its pretty amazing to me that you actually worked for years as a lawyer and yet see only the negative and and completely ignore the necessity of lawyers to our society or the good they Do. "Ambulance chasers" do a great service for people who need their services who society would ignore and arguably make society a safer place to be; divorce lawyers obviously play a crucial function in society to ensure the fair termination of a marriage and an equitable division of assets; Class action lawyers help keep corporate fraud in check. Profiting from the misfortune of others? Isn't that how our medical system works? Is that a reason to be critical of an entire career path?

    You are about as myopic and one sided as you can be. I get the whiners here angry that they could not make it in their chosen profession, blaming everybody else for their misfortunes. But the fact is law and law education is no different than anything else. Its competitive. There will be winners and losers. Just because you are a loser does not mean the winners need regret their decisions. If there was no demand for law schools, there would be less law schools. As the demand starts to be reduced, as is happening now, there will be less less law schools. If adults choose to take on non dischargeable student loans to attend a law school with a limited chance of success, where does the final fault lie? If a person chooses to see themselves as a snow flake, who are you or anybody else to tell them they are not?

    You guys whine and complain but offer no realistic alternatives. Join the army? That's an alternative? Maybe for you it is. Be a plumber? Not everybody wants to work with their hands.

    I get how angry people are. But you can go through life whining and moping and being critical of everything or everyone, or you can do the best you can with the abilities you have and hope for the best. NOBODY needs to take on huge loans. That is a decision every adult makes when they sign on the dotted lines. And if they can't pay it back, well that the way it goes.

    And you young lawyers who can't make it . . . THEN DO SOMETHING ELSE. Living with an optimistic outlook is a heck of a lot better way to live then being taught that you are a loser, which is what these scam blogs ultimately are doing.

    1. I appreciate the post, and there’s just too much in there to respond to – I think you’re the same troll who comes here regularly to offer the same old counterarguments, so I’ll pass on most of it if you don’t mind. You know what my responses will be.

      One relevant part of your comment does need addressing though:

      “And you young lawyers who can't make it . . . THEN DO SOMETHING ELSE. Living with an optimistic outlook is a heck of a lot better way to live then being taught that you are a loser, which is what these scam blogs ultimately are doing.”

      That’s the point of my post, and my writing in general. Law school is a life-changing decision. One cannot simply roll back the clock and do something else if law school doesn’t work out. One cannot take back those five years (three in law school and two trying and failing as a lawyer). One cannot wipe out the $150,000 in student loans. One cannot recapture the opportunities that are (1) lost to the past, and (2) refused in the future because you now are forever painted as a lawyer.

      “Do something else” is not an option. It’s misleading to tell people that they can try law school and if it doesn’t work, they can just move on. Life doesn’t work like that. Much of the “else” that could have been tried before law school is taken off the table after law school, either because you’re now too old, too educated, too much of a lawyer, too indebted, etc.

    2. Oh it's "Mr. What Are The Alternatives" again.

      Here's how his argument goes:

      1 - Blogs like this say that law school is a scam.
      2 - But they offer no alternatives.
      3 - No alternatives? That must mean that there is nothing better.
      4 - Which means that law school is by default the best option.
      5 - Poof! Scam disappears!

      What a moron.

      The alternative is to not go in the first place.

      Argument solved.

    3. 1. There was a time when taking on the loans was not considered a life destroying risk since the belief was that the advanced degree would lead to higher income, and there were not too many voices, if any, that would deny that.

      2. And there was also the "versatility" of a law degree concept or myth, synonymous perhaps with being highly employable in numerous other fields.

      Part and parcel of numbers 1 and 2 was a basic faith and trust in Higher Educational Institutions if not Education itself. But now, 1 and 2 are the subject of much debate and controversy, and the scamblogs are perhaps to be credited as the first to reveal what is really going on.

      Still though, the "sophisticated consumer" mindset of @6:56AM will defend and keep the law school and higher ed. cartel going, but for how much longer?

      Throwing away a life is hardly very much fun, and the odds of absurd financial ruination as a result of a scam from whatever source should be so blatantly obvious to any recent college grad by now, no matter what their level of sophistication.

      All they need is a healthy level of mistrust.

    4. From someone who is not young, law school is still a lost cause for most people, even most graduates of top law schools in the sense that most top grads will not able to have a career, no matter how hard they try. The career jobs are just not there.

      Because of the severe oversupply of lawyers and an up or out system, as well as many shorter term jobs for lawyers early in their careers, like clerkships, older lawyers even from top schools are the mercy of employers who hold all the cards. These employers can and do step on lawyers like ants because there are so many more ants seeking jobs from the same employers than there are jobs. I am seeing absurdly short tenure applied to highly experienced and competent lawyers whose jobs worked out for a long time in the past. I am seeing a lot of unemployment among big law alums.

      The law firms that do up or out, all of the law firms of any size, are training a huge oversupply of lawyers relative to post-big law, post-associate jobs. There are not enough jobs by a long shot for lawyers coming out of big law and other non-career lawyer jobs.

      What happens is that the 30 year olds and 40 somethings can stay employed for a while, but after that, job losses are severe and they are permanent. The top law schools' older classes - most lawyers in the classes from the 1970s and many from the classes in the 1980s - from law schools that claim very high first year employment are going to be unemployed or severely underemployed.

      Many of us have seen this trip to unemployment first hand. It is not only the older classes, but top students in their 30s and 40s finding themselves completely unemployable because the employment system that has developed - up or out, class year hiring, experience caps on most lawyer jobs and many non-permanent jobs for relatively junior lawyers- is unsustainable.

      The term "unsustainable" is the key. We need to get this information out to anyone who is still in a position to say no to law school.

      The problem here is that a BA in many cases is going to be worth much more than the law degree for someone who is 20 or more years out of a top school. There is no turing back.

      The Harvard undergrad who goes to Penn Law may have had a good future after Harvard, but 20 years out of Penn Law, with a few years in house and many years in big law, that person is going to be totally unemployable if he or she loses that big law job. The problem is that jobs are very short-lived in the legal profession, and anyone who loses a job cannot compete with the hordes of 20 and 30 somethings being fired from big law. The younger lawyers have better resumes - they have never worked in house and at least while they are still on the firm website, they have not been fired. The Harvard and Penn Law grad is totally screwed by age 50.

  4. I agree with pretty much everything you are saying about how law school is a bad thing in its current form, and in its current numbers. I agree that 99% of professors have their heads shoved very far up their own assess. I agree that the greed of law deans surpasses most Wall Street insiders. And I agree that the whole thing is a profit-generating center as opposed to an educational institution--and this shows in every aspect of the system. And, lastly, I agree that things need to be changed dramatically on many different fronts to make law school both sustainable and effective.

    But I disagree strongly with your characterization of our profession. I am not sure what your background is--whether you have actually practiced or not. But that you cherry-picked certain areas of the law and characterized them as you have makes me believe that your practice experience is limited, but maybe you are just jaded from practicing too long, I don't know. But to categorically stated that law school produces no innovators and that graduates are of no benefit to society is--to say the least--concerning, as this is in fact saying that attorneys, on the whole, are merely a drain on society and contribute nothing. Mind you, please, that I am not saying that law school itself has anything to do with benefiting society, and in fact my view law school actually inhibits any benefit attorneys can contribute to our society (e.g. grads having too much debt to work in public interest, requiring grads to overcharge for services due to debt level, grads are poorly trained, etc.). Are their attorneys primarily or solely motivated by profit? Yes. Is the system perfect? Absolutely not. Yet it is the best in the world. I practice in the trenches (criminal defense, child welfare, injured people), and I see so many caring, passionate, and compassionate attorneys on both sides of the cases that it makes me sad when someone--apparently informed--characterizes our profession in this way. It displays a staggering level of ignorance.

    1. For every criminal defense lawyer working hard to protect the rights and lives of children, there are ten lawyers working in slip-and-fall PI outfits that make a living from sending demand letters to businesses and hoping that they'll pay rather than fight the frivolous claim.

      For every civil rights lawyer arguing cases at the federal level, protecting minorities from harm, there are ten lawyers working for credit card companies and whose job it is to find loopholes through which they can push regulatory reforms that squeeze extra pennies from the poorest debtors and into the pockets of the shareholders.

      For every lawyer pushing his mind to the limit with complex legal theories, there are hundreds who sit bored in windowless offices all day, proofreading documents or clicking through mountains of scanned docs for review projects.

      You get the idea.

      You see the compassionate side of law, and I'm pleased that you're one of the lucky ones who gets to enjoy a satisfying career working in public service. I spent years working the corporate side of things, and I on a good day, the best thing I did was push paper to make some rich people far richer, and many times I was working for clients who would snatch candy from a baby if they could do so legally.

      When the profession becomes saturated - which it is - ethical and moral standards drop in order to increase the available work. This is not a point that's really even open to debate. There are some opportunities to serve the public good, but they are few and far between. The rest of the profession is slowly scraping further down towards the bottom of the barrel in terms of what lawyers are willing to do in order to survive.

      The point of the post was not to attack the profession. The point of the post was to explain that we, as a society, seem to be perfectly happy to send tens of thousands of the best students we have - those who would be wonderful teachers and leaders and innovators - off to law school, where the best that many will ever achieve is mundane and uninspiring (and valueless) document review or bouncing from insurance defense firm to insurance defense firm.

      What a waste of great minds.

      Don't misunderstand me. I would be far less inclined to raise the public's awareness of the faults of the legal education complex were it sucking up only our average students. But it's still taking some of the best we have, then tossing them out into a scrapheap where many of those great minds are grossly underutilized.

    2. Sorry dude at 7:21 but you sound just like a baby boomer.

      The modern reality of law is that 50% of grads get no jobs and are a waste right off the bat.

      Then maybe 10% of those employed grads get jobs that actually help people. The rest, which is 95% of all law grads, do no good for society ever. They are doc reviewers and hired guns and troublemakers and patent trolls and debt collectors.

    3. LOL at 7:21am.

      "I practice in the trenches (criminal defense, child welfare, injured people)"

      Translation. I'm a failed lawyer who makes a living by charging people $500 to defend $200 speeding tickets and $5000 for basic DUI defense, I charge $250 per hour to "protect" the kids and get spousal support (most if which goes on my fees), and I help injured people by being a slip and fall "no win no fee (but I'll take 30% of your compensation for 30 minutes of real work)".

      I see now why you think Cooper is wrong. It's because he doesn't go far enough in calling you out for the scammer you really are.

    4. ^^^^^^ Now you guys have to try tearing down members of the Profession who are happy with what they are doing. This is why the scam movement is never going to make it. Campos did a pretty good job because he was a well respected professional who had inside knowledge of the "scam". But you guys are children who in your own, immature way are insulting those who have been a success for no other reason that they are a success at something you have failed at. Acting like children, throwing silly insults at people you know nothing about who work in a profession you know nothing about because you never worked in it. How could you ever hope to be taken seriously by anybody? Its kind of sad you have no body worthy of respect leading your cause now that Campos has pretty much withdrawn from the fray.

    5. @10:59,

      You know, you make your point much better without having to result to insulting people for the career decisions they have made. I am not the original individual who posted, but I find your description of a criminal defense and child welfare attorney insulting and I don't even practice in the law.

      Why don't you take a little time off from posting and get to know what these individuals do for a living before randomly insulting them knowing nothing of their career.

      You're better than that and people like you seriously give the movement a BAD name, far worse than JDP could ever do.

      I would also like to request that OTLSS better monitor such postings, because it brings down the quality of their work. There is no need for insulting people for having a difference of opinion or following a different career path than you did. We can all discuss this in a civilized way, can't we, without resulting to insulting other people to make us feel better about ourselves?

    6. LOL at 7:21am.

      "I practice in the trenches (criminal defense, child welfare, injured people)"

      Translation. I'm a failed lawyer who makes a living by charging people $500 to defend $200 speeding tickets and $5000 for basic DUI defense, I charge $250 per hour to "protect" the kids and get spousal support (most if which goes on my fees), and I help injured people by being a slip and fall "no win no fee (but I'll take 30% of your compensation for 30 minutes of real work)".

      I see now why you think Cooper is wrong. It's because he doesn't go far enough in calling you out for the scammer you really are."

      Well let's take this piece by piece:

      "I am a failed lawyer." Guess that depends on your definition. I make enough to pay the mortgage, make my student loan payments live a decent life, and contribute to my retirement. I by no means live a luxurious life, but this is something I never really envisioned through law anyway. If that is a failure then I am a failure. But I'm OK with it I suppose.

      I could address your characterization of what you think I do versus what I actually do, but that would take quite a while. Suffice it to say that I am fairly confident that, given your limited insight and general attitude, your practice experience was/is different than mine (or non-existent; and I don't mean that as a dig at you, I just don't really know what your situation is).

      In the end, I agree that law school is a scam. I agree that the current number of attorneys effectively produces a race to the bottom, where ethics--legal and otherwise--take a backseat. And I know that many new graduates don't get to practice at all, which is tragic. And I am not a boomer, I graduated in 2011. But I--though 75% luck and 25% hard work (or something like that)--have managed to squeak out a living, and I enjoy and am passionate about my work. I also believe that there has never been greater need for good attorneys who ethically represent clients, though the law school scam has made it nearly impossible for attorneys to do this and not ruin themselves financially. BUT this blog (at least I thought) is not about attacking the profession. The kind of attorneys you and Mr. Cooper mention are, in reality, the outliers. Your characterization sounds more like insurance company propaganda than thoughtful discourse.

      But everyone's experience is different. I am not saying that, because there are good lawyers out there, that law school is a good idea--it's not. All I am saying that lawyer-bashing is counterproductive, shifts focus from the real issue (scamminess of law schools), at--in the end--is misleading.

      And Mr. Cooper, I apologize for the tone of my first reply, it was inappropriate. But while I agree with the overall message (law school is a scam and you should not go), I don't believe that "all lawyers are scammers, and therefore you should not go to law school." But I could have made that point more politely.

    7. well unfortunately, Charles himself starting the name calling with the troll comments. Face it, without mature, professional individuals like Paul Campos, these sites are pretty much worthless. How could anybody considering law school take sites like this seriously where the children and failures reign supreme and try to drown out the voices of any who offer counterpoints? How can any take sites like this seriously when the author of the post accuses law of being a worthless profession and in one general sweep maligns the great majority of lawyers out there who make their living doing Divorces, Personal Injury and Criminal Defense . . and then insults the rest of them by attacking those in big law? If you take the advice of the people here seriously, you have no chance in making it in the law, and even if you do, you are simply a non-contributing parasite to society. Instead, you should join the army or the plumbers union or be a teach making 20K a year in an inner city school somewhere. WOW.

      Then you have those who have never practiced law in their life or have practiced in limited areas of the law who think they know what the rest of us are doing or not doing.

      Who the regulars here are saying to the world is that because they failed and they couldn't make it, the profession is worthless and that if you even try to get into it, you will fail too.

      Clearly these sites need better people. You have this site with the failures and the other site trying to shock the senses with a bunch of toilet words. Where are the reasoned sites written by intelligent people who actually have something to say worthwhile?

  5. law school is a bad a idea. we get that.

    but what a farmer does with his personal property, whether that be grapes or horses, is up to him. we as a society do not own other people to direct them to the career choice of some central planning bureaucracy. that's how things were done in the ussr.

    here we have freedom to choose. some will make bad choices. its their personal choice. and I am glad we do.

    1. Ok, I get it now. You're the same person who has been commenting all morning...

      It's sunny outside. Go cut the grass, take a walk, or just chill with a bottle of wine and some human company or a good book. Surely there's something better to do with your weekend than furiously troll here and suggest that we'll turn into the USSR if we don't allow people to go to law school no matter what the costs or no matter how inadvisable?

    2. Please Infinity, GO AWAY!

      Your disruption to this blog is sad on two levels. First it is sad because you are destroying the good that people here are doing. Second it is sad because your own blog is such a failure that you come here to get visitors.

      GO AWAY. You are as bad as unmentionable P was.

      Oh you're wrong too!!! LS is a toilet. You can't convince us otherwise and I look forward to your impending failure as a lawyer.

    3. In my defense I would like to submit that your former pal, the Adjunct Law Professor, claimed that All of the Trolling All of the time, was by me.

      I hope everyone by now realizes that there really are other trolls and that there really is a Mr. Infinity.

      In addition, I was not happy with the anon attacks on Leiter by the Adjunct Law Professor, which violates the spirit of due process somehow, and when I objected I was very strongly put down.

      But let the record show that Leiter put in a nice review for the Tamanaha book on Amazon, and I hope for the day when Leiter will review the Paul Campos book and will also moderate his views given the economic realities.

      In addition there is an anti Obama and seeming white supremacist racist troll who is not Mr. Infinity and also very much against me and seems to hate my views on Civil Rights and I have already commented on Nando's most recent post about his track record.

    4. no, this is not the same person who responded earlier - I can assure you of that.

      we actually agree on many things. but when you say silly things, you need to do a better job of defending your comments or acknowledging that you are wrong. you are after all doing what we accuse the law school deans of doing.

      who should get to decide if someone goes to law school? or culinary school or truck driving school or whatever vocation. society (the government?) or the individual?

      who should decide if the farmer wants to scrap his whole crop? the farmer or society?

      and who should bear the responsibility of that choice?

      if society can tell this person he cant go to law school because he will be a drag on society, does society get to interfere with every other personal choice that someone makes that could be a drag on society?

    5. "In addition there is an anti Obama and seeming white supremacist racist troll who is not Mr. Infinity and also very much against me and seems to hate my views on Civil Rights and I have already commented on Nando's most recent post about his track record."

      Mere disagreement does not a troll make, and calling an unknown someone a white supremacist racist based on philosophical views that are, if anything, more kind to a genuine human dignity (and a someone who actively fought for civil rights) . . . that is disrespectful.

      Also, I would never "hate" anyone who views civil rights as an important part of our civic (not to mention legal) responsibility, even if we disagree about how to get there, but that is not the same as saying a re-write of history is okay. Everyone should explore their own failings, and be prepared to be honest, objective (yes, there is such a thing), and self-critical. That is the essence of Western Civilization, which, yes, is worth caring about. That seems to be part of Cooper's argument, that we are practically committing social suicide by tossing our best and brightest to the trash heap. One might argue that we are doing so in multiple ways, not least with regard to race and race-baiting.

      Just this morning, on NPR, an author stated something to the effect that "liberals care about the individual" and "conservatives care only about the group." Say what? The essence of conservative thought is individual rights in the context of society and civilization that must be preserved; progressives chatter endlessly about this benighted group or that one, always with a grievance at hand.

      For our purposes here, it's not that we need a single voice, but the endless sniping and personal attacks have law professors and deans shaking their heads--to the extent that they care at all--and laughing all the way to their next paychecks.

      Can't we all just get along?

  6. The US has the largest number of lawyers per capita in the world:

    To take just one other country, France functions reasonably well with, on a per capita basis, 15% of the lawyers that the US has.

    So Charles' point about lawyers and law schools in the US being a waste of resources and talent is true, albeit not absolutely 100% true. Looking at France again, perhaps he's only 85% correct, or taking into account the current hyper-glut of lawyers, 90% correct for lawyers and 98% correct for law schools.

    1. "90% of the time, I'm correct every time."

      I'll take that.

    2. Coop, I was on the fence about you, but if you rock an Anchorman reference, you're on my fuckin A list.


  7. I like the way 9:25 sums up the issue: other nations with equally-developed legal systems manage to operate on a fraction of the number of lawyers we have.

    My point being that allowing so many smart kids to go to law school is an absolute waste of resources. We don't need this many lawyers. We do, on the other hand, need some smart people going into other things that do have a measured positive effect on society. Teaching - that's a perfect alternative to law school. If you want to do good, teach, because lawyers do some very bad things.

    Sure, this is America though. It's written into the Constitution that we're free to do damn well as we please, regardless of how foolish. You're free to go to law school. And I'll go along with that, even though the word "freedom" is generally a word tossed around by those who are trying to justify a terrible public policy (i.e. student loans for law school). Sometimes freedom of choice works, occasionally it fails spectacularly.

    1. Freedom includes the right to make bad choices. It also includes the right of others not to be forced to pay for people's bad choices. E.g. taxpayers should not be forced to guarantee student loans, mortgages, bank bailouts, etc. If lenders had to apply some basic underwriting to student loans the whole law school gravy train would end.

    2. "lawyers do some very bad things"

      The crimes they commit against their own clients are perhaps the worst of all - substituting pages after the document was signed, appointing themselves trustee, secretary etc., so that the lawyer ends up owning their client's property without having paid for it.

    3. Those that talk about being free to do things, such as go to law school, forget one very important thing: the statistics given to prospective students were manipulated to present a false premise of a prospective student's career options. Once that happens, there is no freedom involved, because one's decision is based on an incorrect premise.

      To illustrate, I don't think Bernie Madoff's clients were free to understand the magnitude of the investments they were making, because they were not given the information to do so. When the market is manipulated as it has been through the law schools, it becomes less of a free market and therefore the decisions of those that participate in it become less freely made, because the decisions that were made were manipulated by false information to begin with.

      I love those who argue for a free market system, whatever the consequences. They are the same individuals who fail to recognize that our market is not free when we allow those with blatantly more power (such as the law schools) to manipulate the facts in their favor to disguise the truth. Our system is not free when we allow individuals to create regulations (ie: one has to spend $100K if one wishes to attend law school and pass a bar to enter the profession) then scream bloody murder when we try to create regulations to protect those who have now been hurt by the excessive regulations (ie: ridiculously high law school tuition) that WE have created. There is nothing that smacks of freedom in that scenario.

    4. "I love those who argue for a free market system, whatever the consequences. They are the same individuals who fail to recognize that our market is not free when we allow those with blatantly more power (such as the law schools) to manipulate the facts in their favor to disguise the truth. "

      I am the free-market troll (or one of them), and I agree absolutely.

      "Free" market is not crony market. The issue with regard to law schools is that, in its best light, it is not a free supply-and-demand scenario. Law schools are expensive, set up as a legal cartel, and the practice of law is highly constrained . . . to get in at least.

      Numerous free-marketeers have argued that admission to the bar ought to be easier, or even open, with far more attention paid to meaningful information about lawyers.

      As of now, students don't have this information, and even if they do, they're brainwashed into believing that that information can't possibly apply to them.

      If there's one thing the scam movement should address, it's this reality.

    5. several/many years ago when the truth was not available, the law schools did stuff that should have subjected them to civil lawsuits. anyone who goes to law school now has at their disposal lots of information about how bad the market is. I am ok with them making a bad choice, but I don't want the taxpayers stuck with it.

    6. Thanks Charles - 9:25

      Perhaps the US's disproportionate amount of lawyers could be the topic of a separate blog post, or even a book :)

  8. I can see why you all have so much trouble making it in the law. You have no ability whatsoever to see beyond your own viewpoints, and any who disagree are Mr. Infinity or are trolls. The problem with Charles is that he never had respect for himself when he worked in big law because he saw himself helping the rich get richer. Nobody forced Charles to take a job he detested and he should not project his personal feelings onto the profession, but he does anyway. I understand you young guys who have never made it reaching unjustified conclusions about the worthiness or practicing law because you never made it to begin with, so it makes you feel good to believe that practicing law is worthless. Charles though is older and should know better. There are plenty of worthwhile things lawyers can do. Not everybody chooses to work in Big law making the rich richer, or defend soulless corporations or insurance companies as they abuse the individuals. Many lawyers actually do work for the little guy. In fact MOST LAWYERS work for the little guy because most lawyers are in small firms and they represent individuals with all sorts of problems. From real estate issues, to divorce to Personal Injury to fighting city hall. Law can be a VERY REWARDING profession. But you young guys who never made it choose to believe your new leader Charles, because he wrote a book, and thus buy into the Law is a worthless profession. Sorry you guys couldn't make it and prefer to wallow in your own sorrow and pity. At least you are not being drafted against your will as the boomers were, and sent to fight in hell holes like Southeast Asia. You simply grew up believing you were the entitled generation and just cannot believe that society is not handing you a silver spoon on a silver platter. Well ain't that tough. You made your own bed. Sleep in it or find another bed.

    1. 1. Charles is not our leader.
      2. You are a troll.
      3. You are Mr. Infinity.
      4. You are wrong.
      5. Sorry you ended up doing criminal scam defense and personal injury. Sucks to be a phone book lawyer!
      6. Sorry you failed getting Biglaw and ended up being a solo.
      7. Nothing you say here will magically make you a success. You failed. You are a lawyer that nobody respects. Law is a failure and you're part of that sinking shit, er I mean ship.
      8. LOL. Just LOL at your defense of your profession. I hope you defend things better in court, because here you can't even defend yourself! No wonder you failed.

    2. Really, just what is wrong with being a "phone book" lawyer? Sure beats being a loser and a failure and whiner and a person who blames everyone else for their own lack of standing in life.

    3. Why don't you guys just stop tearing each other apart and focus on tearing the law schools apart? You could get so much farther ahead cultivating supporters instead of tearing apart anyone who happens to disagree on a minor point.

      Really - a person is a failure because he or she is working as a criminal defense attorney? Really? This, coming from a person who probably doesn't even work in the law!

      I am not the original poster, but can 't you just discuss a person's post without getting personal? It's like you have nothing to say about what he or she said, so you have to attack him or her personally. You may thing you are going far, but you take this movement back 100 steps because you alienate anyone who has anything different to say.

    4. Sorry 12:09 troll, but we know its you. There is only one person here today who disagrees. Stop hiding behind multiple anon IDs.

      Leiter? Tannebaum? Tannebaum's bitch who runs that "Associates Mind" site?

    5. You are so wrong, 1:56. There is more than one person who disagrees - hard for your little mind to comprehend it, isn't it - that others may have valid viewpoints?

      For the record, I have posted at 11:56am, where I posted about freedom to choose being distorted by lack of information. Typically, I hold scamblogger views and detest law schools. But I hate the fact that a valid message gets distorted by these stupid fights - where someone thinks that things are going to be improved by attacking an individual who happens to be a defense attorney.

      I also posted at 12:09, because I think attacking persons and their career choices instead of responding to their points is small-minded. I also posted at 12:03pm, where I again complain about the personal nature of some posts, who miss the points completely.

      I did not post anywhere else and no, I am not a defense or child welfare attorney. I don't even work in the profession, as I said earlier. My name isn't Leiter and I don't even know who Tannebaum. Why don't you focus on what the original poster said instead of attacking anyone who disagrees and calling them Leiter or Tannebaum?

      Again, guys, you really lose your points if you can't even address anyone else's and have to resort to name-calling. It's disappointing, because I really think you all have valid viewpoints. They just don't get heard because you are so busy calling each other losers for working as defense attorneys or calling others names who may have opinions that are different than your own. You shoot your own self in the foot and the sad thing is, you aren't even realizing you're doing it.

    6. 2:11, you've been trolling all day. What a waste of your life. I truly feel sorry for you.

      Get a life. You PI troll practice is shameful and not "a public service". You're a scammer who fleeces retards for thousands for innocent mistakes.

      No, fleecer is too nice a word. You're a cunt.

    7. Here's a somewhat different take:

      I represent corporations, and while I often think their executives are stupid, they're not "soulless." Many of them are just as smart as we are, and many are deeply caring individuals. My experience is different than Mr. Cooper's, perhaps. I enjoy working with these issues, if not with all of the people, and I enjoy many parts of practice. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't enjoy the prestige, which seems the real driver for most students. It certainly was, for me.

      But, even so, the essence of this discussion is important: most students have no idea what they're getting into, and practically everything they're told is leading them down a very dark path. There is also a laziness that seems to be part-and-parcel of just about everything connected with "school" nowadays, but I have to watch my boomer sensibilities. I sat in on a class recently as a favor to a friend, and everyone--everyone--was spending more time on their laptops or phones than they were in the discussion. They might as well have been at the mall for all they learned. Several were shopping on the web. One seemed engrossed in some IM exchange. I hate to admit it, but I felt like taking a sledgehammer and smashing every one of their electronic devices. I don't know how my friend does it.

      It says absolutely nothing that some will succeed if most will be destroyed. That, pretty much, is the picture now.

  9. More on the US's insane and destructive (on every level) oversupply of lawyers:

    9:25 again

    1. The 1.2 million number in the article understates the problem. There are about 1.5 million graduates of ABA accredited law schools of working age. There are also a few hundred thousand graduates of unaccredited law schools.

  10. "The Beginner's Guide to Spotting a Troll."

    Chapter One

    To spot a persistent troll, look for the key phrase, "I'm not the poster at ... but ..." or "I'm not the person who said ... but ..."

    Dude, we know its you. Mark of a troll - wastes a whole day online trying to make a point. Sad. Stop trying to tell us you're an amazing lawyer. You probably can't even afford a quarter-page ad in the phone book.

    1. I'm not the poster, and I'm not the person who said whatever it is you're referring to, but:

      Do you have any idea how much a quarter-page ad in the phone book is?

      : )

    2. Er, yes you are. Because the hallmark of a troll is that they HAVE TO WIN AN ONLINE DISCUSSION AT ALLLLLL COSTSSSS!

      Goodbye Infinitroll.


  11. I want to give an example of why what Charles is saying is true. I am on linkedin looking at lawyers in a specific practice area in a specific city. I notice a number of experienced lawyers with big law credentials in this practice area are looking for work. One individual looking for work in this practice area and city has 18 years at a big law firm as an associate and then counsel and was laid off within the last couple of year.

    I go to the website of this individual's former law firm. They have an equal number of partners and counsel on the one hand and associates on the other in the practice area and city. All of the associates have 5 years or less of experience and two thirds of them have 2 years or less experience.

    In an up or out system, this firm will keep running through associates. Lets say each associate stays 4 years, probably a long time for most people. The firm will turn over its associates 10 times in 40 years. On the other hand, the partners, two thirds of the partner- counsel total, will likely stay for 20 years each. Lets say there are 3 partners or counsel and 3 associates. You have 30 associates running through the group during this period, but only 4 partners. Maybe the counsel position turns over every 5 years, so you have 8 counsel positions in the 40 years. That leaves 30 lawyers for 12 posiitons, and it is worse than that because 7 of the counsel will have to leave, so you have more like 30 associates for 6 or 7 positions. The other 23 lawyers need a place to go, and that is the rub. This is a hard area to do in a small firm, and few small or midsized firms do it because there is a lack of demand. Furthermore, there are limited numbers of in house positions in this area, and many of the in house positions tend to be short lived.

    So it turns out an associateship in a prestigious firm is a one way ticket to unemployment, either sooner or later, for most people entering this practice area in this city.

    People see high employment statistics for top law schools and assume the problems do not apply. The problems do apply because up or out makes a recovery from a firing very difficult. Up or out applies no matter what law school a lawyer went to.

  12. Just to continue the story, if you look at job boards, there are experienced lawyers who will go anywhere in the United States to work. Unlike corporate, there is no demand for this specialty abroad. The bottom line is that the surplus of lawyers is everywhere. It does not help to be willing to move someplace else. I do not know of anyone in recent years who has gotten a JD advantage job using his or her experience.

    It is like a big traffic jam where many of the people stuck in traffic are going to drive off a cliff. they cannot go backward, and they cannot stay where they are. Two out of three are pushed off the cliff in their cars with their prestige law degrees, honors records, and big law experience where they did a good job.

  13. Meh. Too easy to hate Cooper and pretend that the scam doesn't exist.

    Attack the facts, not the messenger. Or Messinger. Yeah, you get it.

    Look, this blog now has 250K hits. That's no small shit.

    So this is clearly an issue. This is not a few kids online pissed off that they are not getting jobs. To get 250K hits, you need a persistent and widespread problem.

    Sorry law school apologists. This is a battle you've already lost.

    So why not join us now and be on the right side of history?

  14. Heeelp!! Some sick animal just took a huuuuuuuuuuuge "SETON HALL LAW" in the office toilet! The janitors are marshalling their forces but they are powerles against it!!