Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wait, who are the Scambloggers, again?

Law Schools like to publish how many of their graduates find employment in "law firms." Thanks to improved information transparency, the truth is that many, many of these "firms" are small shops of just a handful of attorneys, or even less. Yet small-firms and solo practice are often touted as a realistic option for new graduates. We've all heard the old canard, "Well, if things don't work out like you planned, you can always hang a shingle."
 
Of course, the majority of recent graduates don't have the skills and experience (and thanks to tuition, the finances) necessary to just open up a shop, especially in this increasingly competitive market. Thus the flurry of "Practice Ready" activity the law schools have been advancing in the last five minutes. Many ScamDeans and LawProfs, who often have barely seven years of practical legal experience amongst themselves at any one institution (and BigLaw at that, not solo practice), whole-heartedly endorse solo practice as a legitimate option for the newly-minted lawyer.
 
Let's consult the experts, shall we?
 
New lawyers have this bizarre belief in their exceptionalism, that they are special, that their experience will be different from that of the thousands who came before them. How many times can old lawyers say that the practice of law is hard work, a tough business? It can be soul-crushing. It goes from high-flying to crash and burn in a blink of an eye. Marcus assumes that by getting out there, doing all the things that let the world know he’s available for purchase, would get him back on track. Even that isn’t reliable, though he will never find out.
 
 
• If you’re thinking about becoming a lawyer in any of the top ten growth states, you might want to reconsider. These states likely have their fill of lawyers.
• If you’ve never considered of going to any of the states with low growth and practicing law there, maybe you should.
• Massachusetts was seemingly hurt the hardest by the economic decline of the past few years (go figure). It’s actually the only state to have a decrease in the percentage of lawyers over the past ten years.
• While US Territories are included in main chart, I disqualified them from being in the running for the two breakout charts.
• UPDATE: Was going back through the data today and somehow I totally missed Rhode Island’s precipitous decline in lawyers (they are the smallest state in my defense). They’ve seen a -19% change in the number of lawyers over the past ten years. Yikes.
 
 
So why would a good, experienced trial lawyer like Charlie get out of practice? No clients, apparently. Despite what you may have read on Solo Practice University, solo practice is hard. Real hard. Not everyone makes it. There are only so many paying clients, and lawyers to serve them.
 
 
But increasingly, [Law Schools,] I am finding that many of your students are, quite frankly, useless to me; lacking the basic skill set necessary to incorporate them quickly and seamlessly into a busy and frequently resource-constrained practice like mine. Sure, I can understand having unformed research and analytic skills right out of law school. Over twenty years in, I still improve my skills with every brief or motion that I write.
 
Yet what I can’t fathom or tolerate is the utter lack of curiosity that many (but not all) new grads bring (or don’t bring) to the table when they hit the job market. I know that times are tough and it’s hard to be optimistic and proactive about the future when hope is dim. And certainly law school squeezes a lot of the natural inquisitiveness out of even the most hearty of students. Even so, how can today’s students not be excited about the cornucopia of riches at their fingertips — from free caselaw, free online legal briefs and memos by top attorneys, substantive analytic blogs galore, and an endless stream of news items on Twitter curated by experts in every field? Back in the day, I’d have been all over these tools, and yet like monks at a peep show, many law students simply avert their eyes and continue on their way. Nothing to see here — or so, they’re taught.
 
 
Field is a solo practitioner in Austin, Texas, who advises no one to follow his path, at least not right out of law school. In the Texas Lawyer, Field writes:
 
I have practiced in firms of all sizes, from 700-plus attorneys to four attorneys to one. The solo practice . . . is not a practice for those with a low tolerance for stress or a weak constitution. And, in my view, it is not the optimal form of practice for a recent law school graduate. . . . [M]y first suggestion for recent law school graduates considering going solo is: don’t.
 
But Field, seemingly a reasonable fellow, understands that in light of the job market more recent graduates will try the solo life than might otherwise. For those, uh, lucky souls, Field offers a handful of tips.
 
 
Critics try to dismiss the Scambloggers and their going on about the half-truths and false claims of the Law School cartel. We are often lambasted for trying to tell people that they should think long and hard about law school, that we discourage people from "following their dreams", how we need to be more positive and less negative and more "ethical" and "professional", clearly we're bitter and couldn't cut it, we're just downright mean, blah blah blah.
 
But look! The quotes above are from strong advocates for solo practice! You mean people who actually do the job, who are 100% behind the idea yet have fought the hard fight of making it on their own and have built a practice, say "don't do this lightly - while I love what I do, it's a lot of hard work and you might fail anyway" to folks who want to get in on the business? You mean the Law School cartel isn't telling you the whole story? Say it ain't so!
 
Friends, who are you going to believe? People who are actually doing it and have the battle scars to prove it, or a bunch of ScamDeans who say their ever-increasingly-costly programs makes you "Practice Ready," when No One Cared about that for decades prior?
 
These solos, like the scambloggers, don't get a dime for giving you honest warnings. The Law School cartel, on the other hand, is more than happy to tell you more about their "new" programs, and the implication that these programs will set you on the path to success for a paltry $150-200k.
 
For those who are fully INFORMED and want to be in private practice more than anything, God bless. For everyone else, think twice. Or three times. When evaluating the claims of the Law School cartel, always follow the money.

37 comments:

  1. superior ideas to starting a solo law practice with limited experience in terms of failure odds:

    -2 rounds of Russian Roulette
    -serial banging every piece of overaged dumpster skank trash at the local dive bar
    -smoking crack in an attempt to become a great artist.
    -quitting one's job to do nothing but write blogger posts full time
    -urinal licking
    -becoming a devote of Ayn Rand and telling everyone you meet about living like an intolerable asshole.
    -professional con-artist
    -professional betting based on who has the cooler jerseys
    -stuffing pencils up your nose and putting underwear on your head in an attempt to prove insanity and get out of the Big Push
    -joining the Marines and calling everyone you meet a "fagot."
    -finding a 60+ person to marry who wants to support your lifestyle

    and....

    -opening a small business that consumers actually need and/or want to benefit society by adding a productive business to the economy instead of another motherfucking law practice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At present, I'm practicing four of the above suggestions. Do you think I have what it takes to be an attorney?

      Delete
  2. Listening to the academic thieves try to justify their "work" is akin to listening to mobsters talk about how their work benefits the community.

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    Replies
    1. And it's been 8 months since the dons...er, I mean the deans...made Campos an offer he didn't refuse.

      I miss him.

      Delete
  3. I disagree. Law schools actually do a good job of preparing students and making them practice ready for the real challenges of our globalizing world.

    For example, see the recent Space Law Moot Court problem involving territorial disputes on the moon.

    http://www.iislweb.org/docs/2013problem.pdf

    Without charging +$50,000 per year tuition, for 3 years training, at the graduate level, using Socratic method pedagogy - it would be simply impossible to produce practice-ready leaders like those emerging from Space Law Moot Court.

    And finally, changing anything about law schools, especially professors' salaries and the student loan that pay them, would be racist.

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  4. Replies
    1. I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

      Delete
    2. I'm not sure she's capable of any real feelings. She's privileged lawprof generation. She learned morality from Harvard Law Review.

      Delete
    3. She was screened in favor of narcissism at every step of her career path, and then advanced to positions for which she was unsuited and unprepared. It's not surprising that her behavior has been disastrous for her students and for the profession.

      Delete
    4. I know she has the capacity for one emotion. She despises the students at her scam institution for being stupid enough to attend it.

      Delete
  5. Any law school grad considering going solo needs to open up the local phone book and take a quick glance at the sheer volume of attorney listings. How are you going to compete for limited client dollars against so many people - all of whom have more experience and contacts than you do? You're jumping into a shark tank and you don't even know how to swim. Not a good plan.

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  6. Even the most successful solos I know are depending upon a spouse's health insurance and retirement benefits. If you haven't got that going for you you are going to be working until you drop dead.

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    Replies
    1. Wouldn't call myself successful, at least not by many standard measures, but that situation describes just about every solo/small firm practitioner and myself to a T

      Delete
    2. Amen, 1:50. I am like Lou Gehrig; I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth. During my first 16 years as a solo I had a part time state gig. While it eventually went away I was able to vest a modest but decent pension and lifetime medical coverage for my wife and myself. Without that I'd be screwed.

      Delete
    3. This is an excellent point re: benefits, and is worth a post on its own from those in the trenches. It's easy to say "go hang a shingle" when you are young, healthy and single (but with no experience); it's quite another when you have the experience but also have to save for "retirement", pay for healthcare, pay for a mortgage, support a family, etc.

      Delete
    4. I don't see how a recent law school graduate can open up a solo practice unless they have a spouse/partner or parents who are willing to pay some of the bills (or some other source of family wealth). Even if it's done on the cheap there are still a lot of start up costs, and at least a couple of years before a regular income stream comes in. Who is going to loan a newly minted, broke JD (with six figure debt) money to start up a practice? What if they are single and don't have parents they can live with? If I am missing something please enlighten me.

      Delete
    5. Valid point, BamBam, but the point being made here is that even if you get a practice up and running very, very few solos nowadays make enough to afford health insurance let alone put anything aside for retirement. A year or two back a legal publication in my state ran an article about what happens when a solo practitioner dies. It said that the issue was coming up more and more because many lawyers were taking their licenses off retirement status and going back to work because they found they did not have enough to live on in retirement. And these are folks who came out of school before the market was hopelessly glutted and didn't have six figures of student loan debt to retire before even starting to think about their old age. On the other hand, I have seen estates of non-union factory workers whose ESOP and 401(k) accounts would make most solos green with envy.

      Delete
    6. Network, and you'll be all right. The law schools are now turning out Practice Ready graduates, so you'll jump to the head of the line.

      That's why a JD is not marketable outside law. It means you've been taken.

      Delete
  7. This quote sums it up perfectly:

    "These solos, like the scambloggers, don't get a dime for giving you honest warnings. The Law School cartel, on the other hand, is more than happy to tell you more about their "new" programs, and the implication that these programs will set you on the path to success for a paltry $150-200k."

    FOLLOW THE FUCKING MONEY, GUYS!

    That will 99.9% of the time tell you the truth. What do we as scambloggers have to gain by spending our time warning people away from law? Are we greedy and trying to keep the huge pool of billions of clients and billions of dollars in legal fees all to ourselves and not let any new lawyers get a taste? Are we really all just angry little children who failed?

    Follow the money. Law schools make lots of it for professors and administrators. They get it from student loans, which are free money for the schools and which the government gives out readily. They sell their product - JDs - and have no responsibility after graduation. They are making off like bandits with students' money and students' lives, so follow that fucking money and you'll see that law is a disgusting, dirty, shit-filled career full of greedy, money-grubbing cunts at every step.

    They make $150K per student they dupe into the scam. We make nothing for every student we dissuade.

    Who's more likely to be telling the truth?

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    Replies
    1. So, so true, 6:48. So, so true. Once had a guy call me who owned a rental property near where a new school had been built. There had been a lot of blasting and the well on his property ran dry. I said he could figure $20,000 between me and a hydrogeology expert and maybe we win, maybe we lose. On the other hand he could probably drill a new well for $4,000.00 pre-tax. He chose the latter and later told someone how impressed he was that I didn't goad him to sue so that I could make money.

      The mentality of the law schools would be to tell this man that he was almost certain to win, take his money and if he lost say "I said ALMOST certain."

      Delete
    2. Bingo.

      And when you look at Rhode Island, with its 20% drop in lawyers over the last 10 years, you should ask the question, "Why?"

      Do you honestly think its because those people could make a living at law, or perhaps they couldn't?

      And today, being a new attorney is harder than ever.

      Massive debt. And those mandatory CLE's aren't free..

      Lemmings take heed. There's massive iron in the above posts. Massive.

      Delete
    3. Love these comments. The money is the key here.

      Professors will gladly tell you what losers we are and how unethical and disrespectful we are being towards the magnificent Law, all while scraping your tuition dollars off the table and into a bag marked "swag".

      It's not us who the critics should be looking at. Yes, we're disgruntled for a reason. We were scammed. But what are our motives for fighting back? Money? Hardly. The critics need to be asking why the professors are continuing to push these outrageous law degrees on kids who will never need them. The answer, of course, is money. They make lots of money from this disgusting system.

      We just want a bit of our dignity back, perhaps a little enjoyment from seeing professors and law schools fail too. They however want you to give them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

      Perhaps this thread is like the one that led to the awesome crest at the top right of this page. (The idea that if something is prestigious enough, people will throw money at it.) Perhaps the scamblog problem is that they are not asking for money. Maybe it's time to not just have a fancy crest, but also to have a $100,000 "tuition" fee for reading this blog. Maybe that's what it'll take for people to stop and listen.

      You're not charging enough, Bloggers. You need to charge more because that's the only way people see value these days. How much it costs. Obviously you're all liars and losers and retards when you're giving your advice away for free. I mean, if it has no monetary value, it's junk right?

      Delete
    4. I don't just want to see professors get canned. That's an effect, not a cause. What I want most is to keep naive students, of any age, from making a cancerous mistake by signing student debt documents.

      Those of us who got scammed aren't motivated by envy. We want to warn others and make them better off than we are. That's how decent human beings tend to think. The scamdeans and scamprofs just can't understand it. Their entire system is based on envy, and they're not giving up without a fight--a very, very dirty fight.

      Delete
    5. "FOLLOW THE FUCKING MONEY, GUYS!"

      I'm waiting for a stupid lawprof to show up and argue anonymously that the potential discharge of 300k in student loans is a major payday the losers are looking for.

      Delete
    6. Yes, 300K that they never saw or received, money that went straight to pay for new condos, gourmet dinners, and summer vacations for the scammers. (Or in one case, a two-year vacation.)

      Those fake professors don't care. They've had their own payday, and the students can go straight to the crematorium.

      Delete
    7. ^^^^^^^^^^ This. ^^^^^^^^^^

      It's not like a student ever sees the tuition money they paid. It goes straight into the coffers of the law school.

      Well, as said:

      "money that went straight to pay for new condos, gourmet dinners, and summer vacations for the scammers. (Or in one case, a two-year vacation.)"

      To say that students would somehow be gaming the System if BK protections were restored to student loans is ridiculous. You can BK away cc debt and still have whatever you bought or paid for services. But not education. That's somehow different / "good debt" whatever..

      Riiiight.

      It's all one Giant Scam for the schools and the profs. Everyone wants a bigger slice so they want to move up to that sweet Dean position and so on.

      All complete bullshit being run by complete Toolboxes.

      Delete
  8. What if law schools dont close? What if there's a big fall-off in applications, but that's it. There's still too many people willing to play Russian Roulette with debt, and student loans are still too easy to get.

    Obviously, student loan reform would end the law school scam like a bullet to the head of a zombie. But there's no sign on the horizon.

    Free money + naive kids = law school scam business model forever?

    ReplyDelete
  9. I went to the website with the post about Marcus, and I've got to say the guy who runs that website is a monster. He's making fun of indebted attorneys who had no choice but to start their own practice. And he praises Marcus for being mature enough to quit, meaning that Mr. Monster has fewer competitors for trying the good cases.

    He can defend defendants to his heart's content, but as a commentator he's vicious, predatory, and dishonest. Goes with the territory, I guess.

    I can see his point about everyone thinking they're the exception, but Mr. Monster wasn't trying to warn naive students away from the crushing job market. He had more sinister motives, such as kicking young attorneys when they're down, hoping they never get up again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So why don't you tell the Monster instead of whining about how mean he is here?

      Delete
    2. First, he's very open about censoring comments, and seems quite proud of it. No one gets to "attack" him on his website, even though he gets to demean anyone he wants. That's his approach, which I won't accept.

      Second, there's a genuine issue here. Some members of the distinguished Bar enjoy squezing young attorneys out of the profession. And that's caused in part by the massive overproduction of new attorneys by scam institutions. There are other causes, such as greed, sadism, pretension, etc., but time forbids me to treat them in depth.

      Third, you're the one who's whining. I comment whenever an issue comes up, and I don't have to inform anyone first. You can inform the Monster about these comments if it's important to you.... No. I didn't think so.

      Delete
    3. Sharing your feelings, if done properly, would not be an attack. You could only benefit from a civil and respectful exchange of thoughts with him.

      Delete
    4. "You could only benefit from a civil and respectful exchange of thoughts with him."

      Except he has no respect for anyone under 40, like many in the law of his generation.

      Delete
    5. I used to enjoy reading his blog. Then I realized that what I enjoyed reading was the vicious mean-spirited attacks he made on those poor saps who left comments on his blog.

      Delete
    6. Hi, I'm the guy who conceived the character of "Mr. Monster." It's come to my attention that he wrote a very good post about student-edited reviews. I've got to respect him for that. And, as indicated by other commenters here, he's mean-spirited to commenters on his website. I choose not to respect him for that.

      And mocking young attorneys with much debt and few job options is disgusting. I can't compromise on that. But I may start reading him more often, just to extend the range of my thought.

      Delete
  10. I am a long time practitioner, financially and professionally successful. Even I must admit that this is oftentimes a garbage profession filled with sociopaths and narcissists. There is no integrity in the system. From the Courts to expert witnesses to attorneys, its all Bullshit. Just sayin.

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    Replies
    1. Take back the profession and stand up for the adminstration of justice in this country: agitate for the IMMEDIATE closing of 50% of the law schools this year. Then 20% more closings in 2014. Send NO money to your alma mater. DEMAND a refund for every dollar you donated in the past.

      Every country has Courts and a system of justice. Every country. We need a justice system.

      But not everyone is entitled to be a lawyer.

      Standing up for your country means closing your law school.

      Delete
  11. "Some members of the distinguished Bar enjoy squezing young attorneys out of the profession. And that's caused in part by the massive overproduction of new attorneys by scam institutions. There are other causes, such as greed, sadism, pretension, etc., but time forbids me to treat them in depth."

    NO SHIT. Squeezing someone out??? There never was room to begin with.

    Overcrowding of the profession has created The Hunger Games. That was true in 1987. Now it's go-for-the-throat from Day 1.

    Even if a Top 3 gives you a completely free 3-year education, and graduates you with high honors, and then lets you teach as an Adjunct while you work a Biglaw partnership track, your law degree is a steadily eroding, constantly devaluating item.

    Go ahead and pay-off all your debt. You'll still be cheated because your law degree is worth less and less every year.

    The marked decline in entering law-school classes is depressing. When 50% of today's 1-L class quits in the middle of the semester, then the message will be getting through.

    ReplyDelete