Friday, September 20, 2013

Law Prof. Tamara Piety compares attending law school to having a baby.

"There is a really interesting post over at Crooked Timber. . .about the difficulty in treating a decision about whether to have a child as a purely rational (let alone economically rational) decision; you cannot really know what it is like until you do it, at which point (at least for most responsible people) it is too late to change your mind. Certainly once you've done it, if it doesn't turn out to match all of your dreams, it can be fairly devasting [sic] for all concerned, parents and children both. Happily, (or so it seems) a goodly number of people either find that being a parent does meet their dreams or they adjust their dreams accordingly. In reading this piece I was struck by the parallels between the phenomonological problem described - i.e., that the experience of being a parent is something virtually impossible to "know" or convey before you experience it and thus makes rational choice difficult - and the decision to go to law school . . ."
          Professor Tamara Piety, University of Tulsa School of Law.

 http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2013/03/the-phenomonology-of-choosing-to-go-to-law-school.html?cid=6a00e54f871a9c8833017d418d77ff970c

Tamara Piety is a law professor. As indicated by her CV, she has not practiced law in many years, but the legal profession continues to be very, very good to her. Tamara earns a six figure salary without having to endure the stresses and frustrations typically experienced by highly successful lawyers who earn salaries in the Tamara range--demanding judges and clients, the anxiety and drudgery of trial or oral argument preparation, the constant deadline pressure. In addition to her big paycheck, Tamara has job security, the status that comes with her title, and plenty of time to cogitate and write in areas of her scholarly interest.

Noam Chomsky has said that persons in privileged circumstances have enhanced moral responsibilities, and intellectuals particularly so. And it would seem to me that the students who made a teacher rich should fall dead-center in the circle of that teacher's moral concerns. Yet when Tamara Piety blogs about the law school catastrophe, in a style that swings strangely from sweetly reasonable to condescending and pissy, her main concern seems to be throwing the blame back on students for their bad choices. True, she does so subtly, as befits an academic, by fogging up discourse with theological-sounding jargon, such as "the phenomonological problem." In the above post, Tamara draws an incredible analogy between going to law school and having a child. It is a leap of faith, not a rational choice. You cannot know what it will be like until you do it. It will be stressful, expensive, and life-changing. But, in most cases, there will be a happy outcome, even if the outcome is radically different than what you envisioned going in.

Contrary to Tamara, the decision of whether or not to attend law school, unlike having a baby, is highly rational--that is, it is a weighing of costs and benefits to arrive at a decision that will maximize personal gain. The kind of kids who consider law school as an option are typically not  those who would otherwise be pursuing some other wildly romantic dream, such as trying to make a living as an artist or a poet, or climbing a Tibetan mountain peak in pursuit of wisdom. These are bright career-oriented young people who are investing a ton of borrowed money in the expectation of a professional career that will allow them to pay back the money and make a living besides. True, some of them want lesser-paying, but more interesting, do-gooder type jobs, such as that of public interest lawyer or public defender (jobs that are, ironically, often harder to get these days than work in the private sector due to austerity and other factors). But even the law school idealists want to practice a profession and make an income.

Tamara's assertion that deciding to attend law school is strikingly parallel to deciding to have a child  is false. But, worse, it is sickening and offensive. If law school turns out to be economically devastating, you don’t get the compensating sweetness and charm of a child's smile; instead you get Sally Mae’s harsh glare. Indeed, as dupednontraditional's post noted, you may have to deny your child things that you desperately would like to give her or him because Sallie Mae has a preexisting and superior claim to a chunk of your earnings. So, in practice, a graduate will be taking resources from his or her dependent family, including children, in order to pay interest on the massive student loan debt that has made Tamara rich and cozy. And what does Tamara do with the  contemplative leisure made possible by that money? She writes blog posts about how the decision to go to law school is phenomonologically like having a baby.

 

46 comments:

  1. So what's her point? That questioning excessive debt is an attack on motherhood?

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  2. The academic pigs simply want to increase the public's faith in "higher education." TTTamara PieTTTy, in particular, is a vile dog and charlatan.

    Deciding whether to pursue a "legal education" is, or should be, primarily an economic decision. In my view, this is strictly a financial choice. One must weight the immense costs - in terms of borrowed money, time, and energy - against the shrinking chance of success.

    Having a child is not primarily a financial decision, with the possible exception of yuppie parents. Hell, even for them, this is soon as a boost in status. The very best part of my day is coming home to see my child smiling at me, and crawling towards me.

    Anyone who claims that having a child is are phenomonologically similar to going law school is a dolt, a shill, or a piece of garbage who is personally benefiting from the scam. Such a pig cannot be taken seriously.

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  3. Since it doesn't cost $250,000--not to mention years of extortionate interest--just to cart a baby out of the birth factory, her comparison is an affront to reason and common sense.

    Thousands of bright, optimistic students are signing away their chances for parenthood every year just to pay for pretentious, overpriced courses that don't prepare them for jobs. Try to comprehend that phenomenon, and then report back to us, Tamara. Shame on you for not caring.

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  4. I think being a "bright career-oriented young people who are investing a ton of borrowed money in the expectation of a professional career that will allow them to pay back the money and make a living besides" can be just as irrational as the person trying to make it as a poet or actor. In the case of the law student, the irrationality comes from never questioning the path that others have set out for you and assuming that something that costs that much time and money must be beneficial.

    In other words, the poet/actor doesn't properly measure the risk that they won't get where they are trying to go. The law student doesn't even think about risk at all. The 95K midlaw job is just going to be waiting there after graduation along with the penthouse and the Benz.

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  5. More la-la-land fluff. "Taking a risk on parenthood" is not the same thing as "taking a risk on law school/higher education". At all. Even remotely.

    If Piety had ever worked a day in her life, she would realize this. Wait...doesn't everybody subcontract their child rearing out to an army of nannies...? How else would this "scholarship" even get written...?

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  6. This type of logic applies to almost every decision in life, it's usually that the the consequences of a baby and law school are much greater. When I buy a stock, I believe it will go up. However, that is not always the case. Nevertheless, I don't have to be right about every stock, just most of them. Law school and having children are basically irreversible and set your life on a different course.

    However, and this is the most important point, I wonder if her implicit argument is that everyone has a child loves their children. I have 3 children and I can't imagine life without them. In that, I'm no different than anyone else. I am sure that there are some parents who wish they didn't have children - though I'm sure social mores prevent them from expressing this feeling. But the vast majority of parents love being parents.

    So I wonder if the implicit argument is that the vast majority of law students love going (or have gone) to law school. I would say "love being lawyers" but too few actually become lawyers to make that claim.

    I think it is true that a majority people who are "objectively scammed" don't regret their decision to go to law school. I've seen this question posed on many message boards and the results are consistent. I don't why this is true.

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  7. There needs to be a special circle in Hell for people like this.

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  8. I think it interesting per her CV that she went to a mediocre Florida State Undergraduate School, and then an only OK Law School (albeit a very expensive one) and that she has still done so well for herself. In her case, I guess not going to the top ranked law school made no difference in her career trajectory.

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    1. I guess that's what working on feminist issues (at Harvard, post-JD) can do for your career.

      And according to her CV, she did a fed app stint before she even got that Miami JD. Wut?

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  9. Differences between bearing a child and getting a JD:

    1)The initial effort made to have a child is unprotected sex. The initial effort made to get a JD is the LSAT.

    2)Some may still do this, but overall fewer people will decline to interview you for a job because you have a child. If you find yourself before a softer-hearted hiring authority, it may actually increase your chances. In any event, you don't necessarily have to explain yourself.

    3)If you do choose to explain yourself, having a child is a good reason for a three (or more) year employment gap.

    4)Having a child means you have a child who loves you, and absent tragedy you will be a parent for as long as you live. Having a JD does not mean you'll be a lawyer in any meaningful sense. It certainly does not mean anyone will love you.

    5)The legal obligation to support a child lasts only 18 years, and not 20-25.

    6)You can, as a last resort, if you really cannot handle it, have proceedings to terminate your own parental rights. Few situations permit you to terminate student debt.

    7)A child is a form of immortality. A JD is a subtle form of death.

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    1. Big similarity - getting a law degree and having a baby involve getting fucked.

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    2. Having a baby stems from vaginal intercourse.

      Attending law school involves a non-consensual ass-raping, complete with rectal tearing, colon puncturing and a little ATM to finish it up.

      Law School: Hell No, Don't Go.

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    3. I'm not sure if its really non-consensual?

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    4. I was repeatedly Socratimized against my will, while a crowd sat there and watched my violation. I wanted to expand my horizons and broaden my intellect, but instead I got intellectually fisted.

      And for what?

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  10. Just wanted to bring this to everyone's attention:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/20/education/task-force-backs-changes-in-legal-education-system.html?emc=edit_tnt_20130920&tntemail0=y&_r=0

    Why would anyone spend 3 years and $200k on a law degree when you can practice without one?

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    1. And of course, any JD who's 200K in debt is going to be considered overeducated for these easier, more standardized jobs. Sickening.

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    2. I'm looking forward to somebody's takedown of this report in a later post.

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    3. "Mr. Shepard said that there had been little controversy over the use of nonlawyer practitioners"

      We're all fucked.

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    4. Legal services will be coming to a Walmart near you (no JDs need apply).

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  11. Going to a school like Tulsa is like having a baby - Rosemary's Baby.

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    1. Damn! I was just about to post that!

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  12. First of all: This is another example of fluff dicta or whatever that the massive billions of dollars and the tidal wave of gravy train funding and taxpayer robbery has enabled.

    If any law professor wanted to write about how to put on his or her shoes in the morning and then pinch a loaf in a toilet, it will be backed up by up front cash dollars from the US Treasury no less.

    She probably also thought about murdering her child by means of abortion, and the taxpayers would have had to pay for that too.

    All of us have mothers or we wouldn't be here and a blue collar mother or an illegal immigrant mother goes through the same pain of childbirth as an elite Marxist current day American Law Professor Liberal monster.

    The difference being that the blue collar class pays for the student loan debt slaves that go to pay for the crappy failed women that use words like "phenomenological" on the working and middle class dime.

    All satire of course and free speech :)

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  13. There are two interesting things about her post (BTW, I'm the 'Barry' in comments over there):

    1) Everything that she says about the uncertainty and 'unknowability' of law school and becoming a lawyer applies to all schooling and all professions. She's trying to sneak in the 'we don't know for sure, so [insert desired conclusion here]' trick.

    2) She talks about how bad things were in the early 90's, but doesn't really compare it to the present. I've noted that I've frequently seen bad times in the past invoked, to support the 'cyclic market' claim, but I've never seen anybody quantify this.

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  14. Underpaid 83-Year-Old Professor Died Trying to Make Ends Meet by Working Night Shift at Eat an' Save
    http://admin.alternet.org/print/economy/underpaid-83-year-old-professor-died-trying-make-ends-meet-working-night-shift-eat-save

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    1. Read that. It's a tough slog for adjuncts, my brother in law was one for 5 years before finally getting full time. He could only make it work because he lived with his parents during that time. He only got full time because he made a pretty substantial move. My wife wants to teach as well. Articles like this kind of make me worried.

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  15. I consider Piety's post to be a moral evasion.

    Are law professors providing the gateway into an experience that is usually satisfying (even if exasperating, stressful, expensive, not what you expected, ect.) Are a young lawyer's prospects really impossible to convey to someone who hasn't gone through the experience of law school?

    If the answer to both questions is yes, then the comparison of law school to parenthood is apt, and professors need not trouble themselves with the grim thought that the scamlaw critique might have some bearing on how they interact with their students or prospective students or view their job. But how can any morally responsible law professor give affirmative answers to both questions?

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  16. If going to law school is akin to having a child, then infanticide becomes a virtue and abortion a sacrament.

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  17. Saw this and thought that you guys might enjoy it. I guess Millenials do suck after all. At least we are sorry right?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4IjTUxZORE

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  18. It's powerful reasoning she shows.

    1. Having a baby is not just an economic decision, it is also spiritual and emotional.

    2. You don't know beforehand what the results of having a baby will be.

    3. You don't know beforehand what the results of going to law school will be.

    4. Therefore, law school is just like having a baby.

    5. If enrolling in law school is just like having a baby, then it follows that law school must be a spiritual and emotional decision, not just and economic decision.

    I am in awe of her logic. It's sort of like saying that bread is good to eat, and bread is brown, and poop is brown, therefore poop must be good to eat.

    Yeah, OK, then. 8+ years of post-graduate education for this sort of thinking? Our whole educational system in this country is shameful.

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  19. You don't know beforehand precisely what the results of having a baby will be. You have some idea but you don't really know on a deep level until you try it.

    You don't know beforehand precisely what the results of shooting heroin will be. You have some idea but you don't really know on a deep level until you try it.

    It turns out that heroin and childbearing are not as different as you might think!

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  20. Abortions for all!

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    1. If you wanna keep the child analogy going, the law schools have been cranking out children at such a feverish rate that over-population and the resulting starvation has now set in. The mother and father can't afford to feed them, and the disposable offspring starve only months out of the womb.

      Law schools should have had their tubes tied many, many years ago. We're getting to Zero Population Growth the hard way, and we've got so much, much farther to go. Law school's have been shitting forth new offspring at a frightening, irresponsible rate.

      Birth control. And if you're in law school right now ... for God's sake, just Pull Out.

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  21. One of the comments on that Faculty Lounge entry starts "As a pre-law advisor at a large university....". Hey I could do that job and far more effectively than this person. I'd just have a big sign made up and put it on the wall behind me - "DON'T GO TO LAW SCHOOL!". And whenever anyone came in to talk to me I'd just hush them up and point at the sign.

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  22. Nice post, but you lose me (and undoubtedly others) when you quote Chomsky like his words are sacred truth. Some of us think he's really vile for the stuff he says about America and is no moral guiding star whatsoever.

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    1. Can you cite something of Chomsky's that you think qualifies as "vile" or lacking a "moral guiding star?"

      I find the latter charge especially laughable. I'm not exactly Chomsky's biggest fan, but the man has a very clear and consistent moral focus. The fact that you would use a word like "vile" to describe a peaceful political activist says more about you than him.

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    2. He came to my college after 9/11to give a speech where he said America's goal in invading Afghanistan was to kill millions of the Afghans. His supporters put his quotes on bulletin boards around campus.

      That, and his disgusting anti-anti-communism in the Cold War. One of my parents is a refugee from a communist country, whose murderous communist killers were defended and supported by saint Chomsky. His writings on the country are utter lies, my relatives lived an entirely different history of suffering at the hands of the communists. So yes, Chomsky is scum in my book. Go talk to a refugee from a communist country and hear about the monstrous evil that America fought and saved the world from.

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    3. He also came and spoke at my college. At the time, as an economics major, I was very interested in issues of income inequality and of course had learned that income inequality had grown dramatically beginning in the early 1970's. Chomsky went on, at great length, about how terrible a country America was through the mid-twentieth century, and how the social movements of the 60's "civilized the country" (I remember that phrase very clearly). Does this count as civilization, when upper-middle class homosexuals can get married (many working class people with homosexual inclinations still face massive social pressure within their communities to live a heterosexual lifestyle), but poor kids who try to better themselves are basically sold into debt slavery?

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  23. @10:01 -

    The quote about Afghanistan is stupid, but it's far from vile.

    I'm not sure you understand communism, or Chomsky's criticism of the west in the Cold War, or why communism failed.

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    1. Uhhhh ok. Go feel superior about yourself then. People who disagree with you must be ignorant. Only enlightened Chomsky readers know the truth!

      FYI, I read Marx, I've known real communists, and I've had long debates with them and gotten to know them. They usually love Chomsky and cite his ridiculous torrent of lies he's put into print. My disagreement with communism and its defenders has some basis in understanding them.

      BTW,if you want a corrective for Chomsky, I suggest, "the world was going our way: the KGB and the battle for the third world" by Christopher Andrew, a cambridge historian. It's based on documents smuggled out of Russia by a senior KGB archivist. Read the chapter on Latin America and see what an utter liar Chomsky is.

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    2. 9:57 here. I'm not a Chomsky defender, so I could care less about your petty paper and your silly friends.

      Communism did not, in any way, cause murderous dictatorships. The fact that you believe such utter nonsense suggests you know nothing of either communism nor murderous dictatorships. Additionally, the United States had almost nothing to do with communism falling in Europe. This is fairly basic history, which doesn't stop people from making an utter mess of it to support their narrow views of history, but that's another matter.

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  24. As to the alleged Afghanistan quote, are you sure that Chomsky did not say that U.S. actions in Afghanistan put millions at risk (by disrupting international food distribution efforts)? Saying that the death of millions is a possible consequence of a military intervention is different from saying that it is a policy goal.



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    1. I repeated it the way I read it on the flyer. I was pretty shocked by his claim it was America's goal/purpose to commit genocide in Afghanistan.

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    2. "I repeated it the way I read it on the flyer."

      You know, that is called double hearsay. Chomsky is not shy about expressing his opinions in print and video, so it would be better if you could come up with the quote.

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  25. Hey friends...

    Now that we're discussing Chomsky, we can get together and ask him to take a position on the JD factory scam...and on the deception, poor education, and overproduction of PhD students in his own department, or former department if he's expired.

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    1. Not trying to put words into his mouth, but I suspect his argument would boil down to an assertion that law students deserved to be impoverished, to the benefit of the "pro-social justice" law professors, because they had gone to law school in the hope of becoming corporate lawyers.

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  26. LOLOLOLOL, how amusing, sad and embarrassing for a Law Prof not to know how to spell "phenomenological".

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