Monday, September 2, 2013

A Labor Day Message

Law professors, where are you? Those working in schools with little in common with Harvard and Yale and who are tired of offering a one-size-fits-all degree that fits nobody except the elite? Those who are listening to hushed conversations in the faculty lounge about declining enrollment, staff cuts, and the struggle to recruit high quality students? Those who feel badly when their students end up unemployed and indebted for decades instead of enjoying the prosperity advertised by the admissions office, and for which you and they have both worked too hard to fail to attain? Those dynamic faculty members who see the simple solutions to the clear problems with legal education today and who wish the old school administration would just listen? Where are the thousands of you who care? Only a mere handful have spoken up.

Practicing lawyers, where are you? Those working in document review mills, wondering what’ll happen when the case settles and the next project might not appear? Those hustling for scraps of business in a shrinking marketplace, where clients are harder to find and the rising cost of malpractice insurance, bar dues and CLE - let alone health insurance and retirement - are becoming harder to justify? Those working hellish hours in large firms, where incivility is hidden behind closed doors and behind a mask of false prestige? Those who realize that that the profession is supersaturated, and who are concerned about the relentless flow of new JDs into a market that cannot support them? Where are the tens of thousands of you who care? A mere fraction have dared speak out.

Current law students, where are you? Those tens of thousands who are paying high tuition at low-ranked schools where you know that you are unlikely to graduate into a successful legal career, not because you’re not capable, but because there are no opportunities? Those who are tired of inefficient teaching from professors who are phoning in their lectures from notes two decades old? Those who are tired of classes in which no practical legal skills are taught? Those who are sick of professors taking expensive foreign sabbaticals, rarely spending more than a few hours each week at the school, and taking advantage of their privileged positions and tenure? Those who are done with the library continuing to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars on acquisitions of books that will never be read each year, or law school administrations wasting your money chasing elusive rankings instead of things that matter? Your voices are the quietest, and the most noticeably absent.

You might not think that this is your battle, but it is. By all means, distance yourself from this blog, but don’t distance yourself from the issues. And although this blog might not be the forum for you to express your concerns or propose solutions (although all are welcome), find the avenue that is appropriate for you. Write, speak, discuss debate, investigate, complain, support, and make a change. But whatever it is, do something. There are so many silent voices that if even half chose to do the bare minimum of a few minutes per week, the resulting outcry would be deafening. Blogs like this one and Third Tier Reality are leading the effort only because nobody else has bothered to pick up a pen and take the lead. But we don't own these issues. They're your issues as well as ours.

By making your voices heard, you can dictate the terms of reform and we can all prosper. By staying quiet, you become part of the problem; you’re not distancing yourself from it, but rather drawing yourself closer to the wrong side of history. Your silence implies that more and more new law schools are a good thing, and misguided colleges will continue to waste countless millions on unnecessary new JD programs. Your silence implies that spiraling student debt is good for society and should be allowed to continue unchallenged. Your silence implies that teaching law in a manner unchanged since the days when horses were the means of transportation and when electricity had yet to be commonplace (let alone the Internet!) is a perfectly reasonable way to train legal professionals who work on issues and with tools that simply did not exist back when the curriculum was set in stone. You imply that the problems do not exist, yet you see them every day. Those, and many other problems besides, are allowed to continue because you’re quiet, and will affect you whether you choose to hide in the shadows or not.

You may not like the bluntness of this blog – trust me, I see your point when reading some of the comments. But I have more respect for the voices of support and dissent here than I do for the vast majority who choose to stay silent, pretending that our legal education system is as effective and efficient as it can be or that the profession is as healthy as in days gone by. And I have no respect for those in positions of power who claim that anything but silence is disrespectful or unprofessional, that a student cannot challenge an established professor or practitioner, that anonymity completely discredits valid arguments, or that the debate must be within their rules, using conformity as a means to suppress much-needed reform. I see the growing anger at the status quo as being a direct result of the unwillingness of the current leadership in legal education and the legal profession to even acknowledge that problems exist, let alone discuss and - heaven forbid! - implement reasonable, cheap, and practical solutions. People grow tired of being ignored, and will shout louder and louder and dig deeper and deeper until they are heard – or at least until they wake somebody up from the profession’s collective slumber.

So today, spend a few moments over a hotdog and a beer and think about whether you’re truly happy about your law school, the legal education system as a whole, or the legal profession. Chances are, you can see room for improvement. And tomorrow, when you’re back in the classroom or office, remember that if you don’t participate in the reform, if you don’t join the movement in your own unique manner and with your own unique voice, then you don’t get to complain when you’re not pleased with the results obtained by those who had the courage to speak up, or worse still, if nothing ever changes.

15 comments:

  1. I am not happy about the legal profession but change is inevitable!

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    1. When do the matriculation numbers for fall of 2013 come out? That should tell some interesting tales.

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    2. Yes, very interesting indeed.

      And we can anticipate further decreases--huge decreases, in fact--in future years. Markets tend to overcorrect before they reach the point of sanity.

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  2. That's a superb commentary by a great fighter for justice.

    Keep up the good work, Mr. Cooper. And today we can remember not just the hard workers, but those who've been kept out of work by greed and deception. Even suckers deserve an even break.

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  3. Come on Charles, nobody speaks up because for the most part nobody gives a damn, especially about lawyers. Lawyers most of all don't care about lawyers. Law is a profession filled with narcissists and sociopaths, as is medicine. Not too many people are going to cry about us or the fact our younger lawyers are drowning in debt. Heck, most people don't care that many college graduates who can't find decent jobs are in debt . . so why would anyone care about lawyers

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    1. That's right.

      The only people you'll ever hear call law "a noble profession" are other lawyers. And that's only a small percentage of them, usually those who are comfortably well-off in a job or academia.

      Nobody else I've known has ever said that about law.

      Nobody. Ever.

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    2. Who exactly are these people who aren't lawyers who you expect to run around trumpeting that law is a noble profession?

      I do think law is a noble profession. There is nobility in the lawyer driving a beat-up 1992 Dodge who puts murderers behind bars for a living. And the equally impoverished public defender who fights for your and my constitutional rights against that very prosecutor. The list goes on.

      If you're mocking those who believe in the rule of law by becoming its advocates, you've lost your bearings. There is no nexus between being charged high tuition rates by poorly ranked law schools, which I abhor as much as you do, and the merits of being a lawyer and practicing law itself. The profession is filled with a lot of good people doing good, thankless work day in and day out. This is evidenced by your total obliviousness to their mere existence.

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  4. Mr. Infinity--he deadSeptember 2, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    A small bit of good news this Labor Day.

    Delusional law school shill Mr. Infinity has officially ended his wretched pro law school blog, and plagiarizes the title of Paul Campos' farewell post at Inside the Law School Scam.

    (I copy-pasted the complete entry so you won't have to click on the blog link and give the little shill a single penny in ad revenue.)

    http://lawschoolfail.blogspot.com/2013/08/goodbye-is-too-good-word.html

    The Frugal Law Student Guide

    Thursday, August 29, 2013

    "Goodbye is too good a word"

    Dear Readers,

    Thank you for reading over the years. I am ending this blog. I decided I would no longer post on it once I found out that I was having a child. Yes, that's right. Me, a law graduate, having a child. Who would have thought, huh?

    Once I found out my wife was pregnant, I knew I would no longer be involved in the scamblog movement. I knew right then that I would not be another Nando, a.k.a. obsessive over a dying movement at the expense of his family. One day, I imagine, when he is old and wasted, he will look back at this worthless crusade of his and realize that much of his life was in waste. However, for the time being, his fragile ego is so wrapped up in his childish blog that he spends little time with his wife and family, instead opting to post on the internet day by day, hour by hour. Grow up.

    With that, it is time to say goodbye. Thank you for reading. This blog continues to make money for me, so I will not be taking it down. You may go through the posts and read what you like. However, I will not be back to publish comments or the like.

    To all of you who have your lives wrapped up in the "scamblogs" and the law school whine, grow up and move on with your lives. It disgusts me when I think how you have turned yourselves into such a wretched group of people when you should be happy for what you have. In my life I have never come across such a sickening group. You must all be very proud of yourselves. Is this who you thought you would become when you entered law school?

    I could go on and on and type thousands of words on this subject, yet I do not want to allow myself to get wrapped up in it any longer. If one of you snaps out of this emo rage I will have done some good.

    And that is all.

    Goodbye is too good a word. I really should say good f***ing riddance.

    Thank you for reading.

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    1. hahaha...Great post by Mr. Infinity. I wish him the best trying to support a wife and kids.

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    2. Good. His advice was straight up bad and dangerous financially. I suspect that now he has graduated and found that we were right all along, he has no motivation to write anymore. He screwed his own life up by not quitting years ago when we told him to.

      I detected some real anger in his last post.

      On one hand, I feel sorry that he ended up being the victim of the scam he said never existed. On the other, payback is a bitch, right?

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  5. This school raised its enrollment 20% this year:

    http://www.colorado.edu/law/2013/08/29/colorado-law-welcomes-class-2016

    So I guess Professor Campos will get a good raise this year.

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    1. 1. 66% are out of state. When I was applying to, e.g, Minnesota in the 1980s out of state was capped at 20%. Have state law schools loosened up on such things to make it easier to recruit?

      2. What percentage were out of state each of the last five years? Could a secondary effect of the scam blog movement be students skipping a more prestigious school for in state tuition and thus lower debt?

      3. Notice the boasting about minorities (who tend to have to borrow more) and non-trads (who will have the worst job prospects).

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    2. Great comment and great information. But I think that's an unfair shot at Campos, and in addition is not going to happen. If anyone gets a raise, it's going to be a few administrators who "navigated us through an uncertain environment," et cetera, ad nauseum.

      I must concede, though, that most of us--and Campos too in my experience--seem to take the cohort size for granted, and don't agitate enough for shrinking cohorts as a specific administrative decision. We tend to think it's going to happen anyway, the market can take care of it, just watch what's happening at Hambone or Case Western, history's on our side, etc. And some have mocked Hastings for doing it, even though that's one tiny bit of reform that can change a few career decisions.

      If some poor kid wanted to go to Hastings because of its supposed "prestige," and can't quite get up the nerve to go to McGeorge-where's-that-again, then even Hastings has done a good deed just by recognizing the changing environment. If students have to move downmarket, the scam becomes more obvious to them. So I hope we can condemn CU in this instance, but in addition give credit where credit is due, to Northwestern and Hastings and even Case Western, which shrank more than 50% but refused to degrade its medians.

      Again, cohort size is a huge issue, and goes right up there with transparency and debt restraints as something I can fight for. And I'd condemn CU for that, but not for continuing to pay Campos. He's done more for his students than any hundred commenters on the Internet.

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