Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Nature of the Argument

I was forwarded a proof of Keith Lee’s recent book, “The Marble and the Sculptor,” and thought long and hard about whether or not I should write a review. Because no matter what I wrote about the book, any negative comments would be misinterpreted by many readers as me simply trying boost my own book at the expense of his, or dismissed by him as worthless because I’m a vocal critic of the current state of legal education. As he preemptively wrote on his blog, in an odd post dated October 18, 2013, and entitled, “The type of people who should not buy my book”, he warns that:

The Marble and The Sculptor is not for people who want to blame others for their lot in life. It is not for people who want to cry over spilled milk. It is not for people who want to whine about being scammed.

Which pretty much says it all.

And that led me to write this post instead, discussing the nature of the argument about legal education today. Let’s first of all summarize the “scamblog” position (a term I still dislike, because it mischaracterizes our position - we're reform advocates and activists).   Our position is very, very simple: law school costs far too much, teaches far too little, and there are far too few jobs. Simple. Nothing more, nothing less. Obviously, there are finer details that we often write about, such as the wretched state of legal “scholarship”, and the extraordinary salaries paid to law professors for, well, we’re still not sure why they get paid so much, etc. But at its core, the argument is simple. Costs too much. Teaches too little. No jobs.

And this is not, despite what many think, some kind of crazy, way-out-there position. Our position is easily backed up with observable data, readily verifiable, and not really that much different from the well-known issues troubling higher education as a whole in this country, especially at the point where education and revenue intersect.

Law school will set you back about $150,000 – for a three year degree that is taught in a classroom, that’s extraordinarily expensive. This is not really open to much discussion. Where does the money go?  It's far too costly for what it really is.

And it teaches far too little – or to be fair, it teaches very little relevant to the purpose of the degree, which is for the graduate to set foot into a law firm and start practicing something akin to competent law. It’s no secret that no law graduate is able to practice law on any level, and that law firms spend the first few years teaching the basics of practice. Again, not really open to debate; law schools do not produce anything like practice-ready lawyers, or even lawyers who could stumble through a traffic court hearing or writing a will.

Finally, not enough jobs. With employment rates (the true employment rates) at about fifty percent or less, law schools are flooding the marketplace with twice as many graduates as there are jobs. This isn’t rocket science or crazy talk.  It's basic math.

These three arguments are grounded in real, observable, reliable data.

And the counterarguments presented by the law schools, the ABA, authors like Keith Lee, and hangers-on like inGenius Prep? There are none. Everyone involved in the legal education system, save for a handful of commentators such as Paul Campos and Brian Tamahana, continues to ignore these core issues. When presented with questions about why law school costs so much, the response is: “You’re just disgruntled and bitter.” When presented with questions about why law school teaches so little law, the response is: “You’re just disgruntled and bitter.” And when presented with questions about where the jobs are, the response is: “You’re just disgruntled and bitter.”

In essence, while we’re addressing actual problems and trying our best to ground our arguments in reality, the counterarguments ignore the points we’re making and focus on us instead. Destroy the person making the statement, and you destroy the statement itself – that’s the logic of people like Keith Lee and others who dismiss anything outside their worldview as not even worth listening to or caring about.

And that, I’m afraid, is an argument that is lost. When your only response to an argument is, “Shut up because I think you’re a loser,” it’s because you have nothing else but personal attacks to resort to. The facts are not on your side.

And it’s because of this attitude that I just can’t bring myself to write a review of Keith Lee’s book. (A long time ago, when Con Law was released, I offered to send him a free copy and asked if he’d be interested in reviewing it. I also offered to happily review his book when it was released, even if he didn’t review mine. My email was ignored and I never heard back from him. And as you can see from a quick look at Amazon, my reviews are typically between one and two thousand words, and I go out of my way to truly write helpful, thoughtful, and generous perspectives on the authors’ works. Compared to a typical Amazon review, I go above and beyond.) But I can’t be bothered to write a review when I know that anything critical that I write – and in Keith Lee's book, as Adam B wrote recently on this blog, there’s so much to be critical of – will be dismissed with the same old arguments: I’m just disgruntled and that’s why I’m writing negative things.

The sad thing is, nobody here is disgruntled. Few, if any, “scambloggers” are disgruntled. Many are passionate, many are doing their best to change a broken system, and many are offering creative, helpful, practical and implementable suggestions about how things can be repaired. Furthermore, many have years of experience in this particular field – far more than many law professors, and certainly far more than Keith Lee! – and we’re not neophytes or recent grads with nothing useful to say. Sometimes the points are made in an obtrusive manner because it's the only way people sit up and take notice.  But any commentary and analysis we provide about the legal education system or the legal profession is often treated by law professors and law school administrators as if it’s coming from the mouths of morons with vendettas. That’s the best counterargument that the legal education system can offer. “Don’t listen to them, they’re disgruntled.”

We see it constantly. From the attempts of many within the system to silence us rather than actually address the issues (e.g. Professor Brian Leiter’s MO of “outing” those he disagrees with, such as Paul Campos, and using the Internet to discredit – unfairly and cheaply – character instead argument via alleged armies of “sock puppets”), to the continuous offhanded dismissal of clearly-observable problems with the system (e.g. Keith Lee preemptively discrediting all criticism of his book by saying that critics are just people who are content to “cry over spilled milk”, “blame others for our lot in life,” or “whine about being scammed”), to those who simply issue threats to try to get us to keep these inconvenient truths quiet so they can continue to profit (e.g. David Mainiero and his inGenius Prep company.) All attack the arguer, not the argument, and when challenged for any kind of information to support their positions, they scamper away and hope nobody noticed.

Which, incidentally, is why many writers here choose to stay anonymous or write under pseudonyms. The legal education system has shown time and time again that it is interested not in addressing the issues, but silencing the critics. When the personal cost of daring to claim that law school costs too much is having half a dozen law professors trawling through every single facet of your life in order to ascertain who you are, where you work, who your boss is, what you have written anywhere in the past, and then sending threatening emails to you in which they imply that if you don’t shut the hell up they’ll ruin your life, it’s not surprising that few are willing to step up to the plate and blow the whistle on their activities.

You may say, “Well, doesn’t Outside the Law School Scam attack individuals occasionally?” Yes, you’re right. This blog does. But there’s a difference. People like Paul Pless are exposed because of their activities in connection with the law school scam; he was caught manipulating his school’s statistics and was paid handsomely to do so. Professor Nancy Leong was highlighted because she produced an extraordinarily abysmal piece of “scholarship” that was a prime example of Professors Gone Wild, and she was paid handsomely to do so. David Mainiero and his company was profiled because it charges a huge amount of money for services of dubious value, and he makes a handsome sum from doing so. (Notice anything in common here? Money changing hands?) I don’t believe this blog has ever attacked anyone for engaging in spirited debate with us, providing an alternative and rosier view of the education system based upon facts rather than fiction, or defending the merits of a legal education.

Even when faced with the most suspect aspects of the legal education system – for example, the creation of Indiana Tech Law School, possibly the worst decision any college has ever taken in the history of the United States – the response is the same.  Read the words of Dean Peter Alexander, leader of that moribund misstep:

They may blog about us. They might even insist that they know where we are coming from and what really we are about. I can’t do anything about that and neither can you. Their slings and arrows are crafted in the darkness of ignorance and they take aim in the green eye called envy. But I’m really not worried about those people. I have a higher calling.

Did he ever once simply counter our claims with fact or accept even a fragment of what we’re saying? No. Not even one (French accent) “waffer thin” fact. He just doesn’t want any facts; he’s too stuffed with money and prestige and tenure and god knows what else to pay attention to the clear truth that the entire system is just wrong. All he offers is an attack aimed at who we are, not what we are saying. Basically the same as Mr. Creosote’s response to the waiter in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, upon presentation of the post-gluttony waffer thin mint: “fuck off”. And like Mr. Creosote, the entire legal education system is now so obese and pumped to the brim with sheer greed that it’s about to explode all over the dining room. Even the tiniest admission that a part of what we’re saying is true will bring the entire system crashing back to reality. (Yeah, the scene doesn’t quite fit, but I was watching the movie last night and it stuck in my head.  Watch it if you're not familiar with the reference.  It's a good use of your time.)

So let’s not pretend that we’re arguing about the same thing here. Our points are clear. Costs too much, teaches too little, and there’s no jobs. And we can back up every single one. People far smarter than us have backed up every single one too. And the response from the law schools and their hangers-on is not that it costs about the right amount, that the classes are relevant, or that there’s enough jobs for grads who want them. The response is that we’re disgruntled and should therefore be ignored.

And sadly, we’re not the ones with the ax to grind or the income to protect. We have nothing to gain from our work here. We have jobs (and jobs in law, too!) We could just as easily disappear off into our own private little lives and never think about these issues ever again, and we’d lose nothing by doing so. There is no advertising on this site, no money to be made (not even from my $2.99 book – still haven’t bought the beach house from the proceeds yet), and no glory to be had. I get nothing from spending three hours writing this post other than the satisfaction of knowing that it might help someone make an informed decision about his or her future, and even if it doesn't do that I've at least exercised my writing skills.  Yet everyone else who is claiming we’re failures and losers and mentally-unstable disgruntled grads with vendettas, they do have one thing in common: they’re all dependent on the continuation of the scam for their livelihoods, and will therefore do and say almost anything to shut us up. That’s worth bearing in mind. Follow the money, because it’s powerful, toxic stuff that makes otherwise-rational people act very poorly.

So why do we do this? Why do writers here spend hours each week penning articles for you to read? Why did I spend a few years of my life writing a book on this subject? Because it’s important. It’s because we care about not handing a broken system to our kids. It’s because we have a conscience and don’t agree with turning our fine higher education system into a business model for syphoning money from college students to wealthy professors or, worse still, investors. It’s because we care about making sure future generations of students go out into the world with degrees that are effective in terms of cost and opportunities. We worry about the young people today saddled with mortgage-sized debt for degrees, and how this will affect their ability to do the normal things in life, like take a low-paid entry level job, buy a house, raise kids, or even afford to eat in some cases. We worry that the JD is being turned into a worthless piece of paper.  We are bothered that the legal profession continues to eat itself alive.  These are real issues. We want to be part of the solution. It seems that many others are content to be part of the problem, take their cut of the ill-gotten gains, and not particularly care what hollow shell of an education system (or profession) they leave behind. They’ve got theirs, and everyone else doesn’t matter.

To bring this full circle, I suppose it’s actually my duty to review Keith Lee’s book. To leave it unchallenged would be wrong, and might imply that it’s a valuable resource or at the very least harmless enough to be ignored. So here goes, because Keith Lee is probably not listening anyway. The Marble and the Sculptor is superficial, expensive, badly-written, and nothing more than semi-common-sense advice regurgitated onto the page, cobbled together from third-party sources of dubious quality. There is nothing in the book that will help any new lawyer succeed on any practical level, and there is plenty that suggests becoming a successful lawyer is as simple as following a few basic steps, almost like following a recipe, which is clearly not a game plan anchored in reality. Keith Lee ignores many awkward facts, such as how you’ll be starting your low-paid career with a massive $150,000 of nondischargeable student debt, how clients are very hard to come by even for diligent and experienced practitioners, how running a law practice is very expensive, and how new lawyers don’t actually know how to practice law (and often have no way of getting experience, a depressing spiral towards inevitable failure.) It’s a book that peddles a childish dream. Most little girls don’t grow up to be princesses. Most boys don’t grow up to be astronauts. And most law grads don’t grow up to be successful lawyers as Keith Lee suggests. But it does have one redeeming quality: it provides an excellent example of exactly the kind of things I warn about in Con Law and the blog posts we all produce, right here, for free.  (If you can afford Keith Lee’s book at $18.43, you can afford to combine your purchase with Con Law for a few extra bucks. The two books go hand in hand, and it’s as if Keith Lee actually set out to illustrate every point I make in Con Law.)

(I’m always a fan of not just highlighting problems, but also providing solutions. So after pointing out why Keith Lee’s book is so poor, I’m going to plug a set of books that offer the most valuable advice I’ve ever seen for new lawyers: the Jagged Rocks of Wisdom series by Morten Lund, an honest-to-goodness successful and experienced attorney, and a most insightful writer. His three volumes actually guide new graduates through what they are expected to do when they get into a law firm, detail by detail, example by example, and if you want to hit the ground running, these books are a vital addition to your library.  Forget Keith Lee’s puerile advice in The Marble and the Sculptor. Lund has already chiseled away the block and is handing you Michelangelo’s David in book form. You want to be a better lawyer? You need Lund, not Lee.)
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 Nontradlaw.net and the author of “Later in Life Lawyers”.  He can be contacted at charlescooperauthor@gmail.com.


  1. Damn straight, Charles. I'm feeling a Blues Brothers "Mission from God" coming on...

    Seriously, everybody, this is the message. Plain and simple.

    1. Charles Cooper, why won't you post the comment by Nancy Leong about all the personal attacks that exist on this blog:

      The comments below include lots of personal attacks as well. Why suppress criticism?

  2. Lee's book can be summarized as follows: You have been served a shit sandwich, and instead of whining about being served a shit sandwich, criticizing the restaurant which served you the shit sandwich, here is a list of a few condiments that you can sprinkle on that shit sandwich to make it easier for you to eat and digest.

    No thank you Mr. Lee. I am behind the cause that wants to have the restaurant (law schools) serving shit sandwiches (useless and watered down JDs) closed down.

  3. I have skimmed the book. To me, the most surprising part is that a person with three years of law school and three years of experience practicing law feels qualified to write a book on what to do in law school, what makes someone a good lawyer, and how to practice law successfully. Granted, some of the advice is advice that the author was told: For example, on page 73, the author summarizes what senior lawyers said at a CLE he attended. But a lot of it is written from the perspective of someone who has "been there, done that" but who graduated from law school in 2010.

    1. It's true that Keith has just three years of experience. And he graduated from an ABA-unaccredited JD program, which apperas to cost about $15,000 a year rather than the standard $40,000 to $50,000. Both of which mean that he has no idea what the issues are. The post-BigFirm depression that affects many graduates of expensive or even prestigious institutions is foreign to him. His career is a tight-fisted retreat from the standard JD fantasy, not a confirmation of it.

    2. Orin, didn't you start teaching Crim Law after 3 years of experience? Did you feel qualified at the time?

    3. Anon, no, I didn't feel qualified at all. I was only four years out of law school, with one year as a clerk and three years of practice at DOJ, and the kinds of issues that I was required to teach weren't the kinds of issues I had dealt with in practice. That's why I had to spend around 12-15 hours of prep time for each 50 minutes of class when I first taught the material. If someone asked me to write a book on how to succeed in criminal law based on my short experience, I would have laughed at the idea.

    4. Great question, and I've found Orin to be a stand-up guy. I hope he comments on this one.

    5. Then why didn't you laugh at the idea of drawing an annual salary to teach tuition-paying students? Is that not a worse sin than writing a stupid book? The book shill makes nothing if the book doesn't garner good reviews and sell. The professor's students may have no option value whatsoever in selecting their professor.

    6. 1:34 here

      Thanks for your quick response, Orin. I don't think everyone understands that your previous comment went counter to the customary non-advice of "just start your own practice " that has been so destructive to so many students. Whatever the intricacies of the hypocrisy argument might be, you expressed some refreshing skepticism about the entire bootstrap approach.

  4. Waffer thin mint...awesome!

  5. I could sum up the issue in one point: the return on investment is negative for most people.

    the fact that they don't teach you anything didn't matter when there were employers who would hire and teach you. if that changes again, it wont matter if you don't learn anything.

    1. I'd agree with this. The return on the financial and the intellectual investment is negative for most people.

      And you are absolutely right that nothing mattered when there were jobs available. The system worked when there were jobs. Not because it was a good system, but because it really didn't matter that it was a bad system because the effects were hidden from view.

      But take away the jobs and suddenly the flaws are exposed. And law professors and law school administrators are scratching their heads and wondering why people are unhappy with their outcomes when the professors taught the same classes as during the boom years, gave the same careers advice as during the boom years, and charged as much as during the boom years.

      They seem oblivious to the fact that the system was not working properly even when grads were getting jobs!

      The system was broken even back then. Yes, even in the late 1990s and early 2000s when one couldn't fail to land a great job. The system was still broken. We just didn't see that it was broken because the fact that people were getting jobs meant that nobody had any reason to poke around inside to fix things.

      There are huge similarities with this and the recent housing/mortgage bubble. When everyone was making money, people assumed the system was working just fine. The reality was that the system was already broken, but the fact that people were making money hid this fact.

      Great point to make, and I'm glad you brought it up.

  6. Beautiful post !! Really and truly beautiful !!

    The point about the scammers' use of personal attacks instead of arguments on the merits is one that cannot be repeated too many times.

    I would only add to "Costs too much, teaches too little, and there’s no jobs" - "and the student loans are non-dischargable".

    Lives are being ruined by non-dischargable debt. That is the evil heart of the law school scam.

    1. The nondischargeable nature of the debt cannot be understated, and I want to emphasize your point. You are absolutely correct.

      Much of the financial damage of a poor choice of law school (or just an unlucky outcome at a great law school) could be erased by allowing student loan debt to be discharged. With the JD being a degree that is largely useless without a law license, it would be easier to police than, say, allowing debt for undergraduate studies to be discharged in bankruptcy. A simple amendment to the law stating that money borrowed for law school could be discharged in bankruptcy, but the graduate would not be able to obtain a law license. Easy.

      But sadly will never happen. Sallie Mae's lobbyists, the ABA's lobbyists, law school lobbyists, and politicians themselves (many of whom are law grads) would never go for it. Too much money to be made from keeping things the way they are.

      Either law school needs to be reformed, or law degree funding needs to be reformed. Preferably both. But one or the other would go a long way to reducing the harm caused by a bad JD degree, the former helping those who have yet to graduate and the latter predominantly helping those who have already graduated and who are suffering under crushing debt.

      There is so much that can be reformed so easily. Yet no matter what solutions we offer, we're met with the ridiculous counterargument that we're the ones who are broken, not the system.

    2. That's a great idea: you get to discharge your debt, but have to give up any hopes of being an attorney. A sweet bargain for those who can't find attorney jobs.

      Now, how do we get 50 state bars to keep out the bankrupt attorneys?

  7. Still the OP is a bit meandering and emotionally so and ought to have been tidied up and shortened.

    If Coop don't want to read the book he should leave it at that instead of taking a last flight and circuit around the room and ceiling and, after three more laps around the chandelier declaring woefully that he would give some last attentions to one "Lee's" book in a desultory and dismissive and vindictive way :)

    What the writers here don't seem to realize is that there are other outside economic forces that will bring about solutions and which might make the very premise and issues discussed on this blog moot overall.

    Hyperinflation for instance?

    So let Keith Lee have his book and be happy. It ain't like these kinds of books make anyone any money anyway.

    Am I right? Know what I'm talkin'?

    1. Hi Keith. Up late?

      That's not how this blog works. Your book does not get a pass because you are not making any money. Even if royalties don't add up to much you are still trading on your status as an author. Look at your web site. your book is plastered everywhere. It could sell zero copies and you would still benefit from the publicity.

      When someone writes something stupid, they get called out because otherwise vulnerable and stupid pre-law students will think that the Marble and the Sculptor is a good and accurate book. It is bad advice and people need to be warned.

      Hyperinflation? Huh? You think that all these problems will be solved if we just wait for a bigger economic fuckup to make them look insignificant?

      And no, you are wrong. And I do know what you be talkin' Keith, and you be talkin' some pretend bad writing to cover up the fact that it's you.

      You don't have to put on keyboard blackface and hide behind jive talk. I don't think this site tracks user data so you are safe to comment and respond to anything without fear of repercussion but not without fear of ridicule when you say something stupid. Here you have to back up your words with fact and not lies.

    2. Sorry you feel that way, 5:16. I hope you realize that this was not meant to be a meandering book review, but instead a post about why it's useless reviewing books, communicating with professors, or engaging in anyone or anything bullish on law school when the entire argument for that pro-law position is simply, "We're right because those who say otherwise are disgruntled."

      It's like arguing with a small child.

      But it's also important that we don't ignore things that are pushing a false message of hope when it comes to law school and legal careers. I'm all for people who cautiously advise certain individuals to attend law school because for some people it's still a good career choice. But this choice has to be made on a careful analysis of the facts, and not just trite fluff and copied-and-pasted "rules" for generic success that seem to make up the lion's share of Keith Lee's book. For better or for worse, malleable undergrads listen to people like Keith Lee, they treat the US News rankings like the bible, they thrive on source that validate their misguided plans rather than give them cause to question themselves. And if we don't offer a counterpoint? Well, it makes the landscape look like Keith Lee is telling the truth and that anyone will succeed if they just follow Winston Churchill's speaking advice and dress in a fancy suit.

      I'm not going to apologize for highlighting misinformation when I see it. I try to do it in a manner which focuses on the information rather than the informant (which is the opposite of those who continuously overstate the benefits of a legal education, and who always focus on the informant rather than the information, as demonstrated by quoting Keith Lee's preemptive strike on critics above). I'm sure Keith Lee is a very nice person in real life, and he certainly seems to go about his business in a very professional manner. But his book is truly and objectively a poor addition to the literature on this subject, misleading, and as a published writer, he's unfortunately going to have to learn to take the criticism directed at his work.

      I just hope that he doesn't take it personally and that he uses it to improve his next book rather than give us more of the same thing. That's the mark of a good writer; getting better each and every time. Writing never has to be perfect (and rarely is), but each subsequent piece should be better than those which preceded.

    3. @5:16 from yesterday here.

      Sorry I was just kidding around and a bit rough I guess.

      I stumbled across this recently and it is just another example of how detached and out of touch the scammers are with the real harm they are inflicting:


      I admire your good work and please keep it up.

      Still, the scam is artificially propped up by an unrealistic economic model founded on student lending and someday I hope to see real justice and what is going around now, coming around for all living comfortably from student lending gravy train.

    4. Hi Keith again at 2:40!!!!!

      Pulling the old "look at something worse than me" trick in the hope that we all stop writing about your book and use Epic Fail as a new target.

      Sorry. Your book is still the center of attention here and for all the wrong reasons.

    5. ^^^Boy oh boy are you smart and I'm proud of you!

      Unfortunately you guessed wrong and twice now and it is not Keith Lee and if anything you should grant Lee the benefit of the doubt and say you are sorry for being paranoid.

      I hope you gather your evidence more carefully and before use in real life.

      But women do tend to do jump to conclusions (with all due respect) and we must be tolerant (graciously so) and bear up as best we can and allow them to feel important and expressive sometimes (in spite of their intellectual shortcomings)

    6. Out-of-nowhere, incongrouous, demeaning attitude towards women, as if "being a woman" is itself an insult? Naw, that never happens in Alabama.

      Nice try at deflection, Keith, but you've got a tell.

    7. Could be keith causing trouble again.

      Or it could be nancy leong seeding more anonymous comments to write articles about. Odd how this unique attack on women occurred just after she started fussing about us on her feminists professor blog. She was scraping the bottom of the barrel there already with her conclusions and she clearly needs some actual sexist comments to write about. So she writes them herself then plays the victim. What a clever way to create scholarship! Seed the problem then write about how much her sock puppets are hurting her.

    8. Who Is Nancy Leong? I must look that name up, he said absently mindedly.

      It was a 50/50 shot at the author of the 2x wrong guess being a woman.

      I figured that if it is a woman she would be outraged and get all defensive as is shown here.

      If not, the male would quickly deny it. Kind of like the split the baby thing from the old king Salmon.

      Yup, the wrong accuser of Keith Lee can fry up the bacon and serve it up in a pan.

      But nope Nancy Long or whatever the name is, is not me. And tweedly dee dum and tweedly dee dee to thee.

      Women: Can't live with them or without them.

      As the Wife of Bath said: the thing a woman desires most is absolute and complete control. However, the Wife of Bath was a bit more logical and methodical than you.

      I want to help you really. Can I help in any way before you flail around and possibly create paranoia about people that have never posted remarks here so far and insofar as I know?

      Send you a gift certificate for a nail salon maybe? (Sorry about the up front adverts in the following :)


  8. Teaches too little? From what I remember, I had to teach myself by reading old, long, dog shit cases. Law schools need to be revamped for the 21st century.

  9. Nando needs to profile this charlatan!

    For a quick LOL, go to this page of Lee's blog: http://associatesmind.com/about/

    Scroll to the bottom. Scroll to the bottom and you will see a series of four photographs. The last one looks like he has LITERALLY SMEARED HIS FACE WITH SHIT.

    Maybe that is his graduation photo from his unaccredited toilet school of law?

    When I first heard about his book I thought it was a piece of shit but now that I am learning that he attended an unaccredited law school and has three years of experience and went to law school part time in the evenings too I just do not know how he managed to get this fucking shit published. An editor at the ABA should be fired for this screw up.

    The ABA publishing the wise words of a graduate from an unaccredited evening law school who has three years of experience at most?

    1. I went ro evening law school. The students were older, smarter by far and more accomplished than the day students. Just sayin.

    2. isn't this the type of personal attack we bitch about when done to us by the scammers? stay above the gutter. this demeans the movement

    3. 7.18 and 7.34 are keith lee. And is 7.18 scooby doo?

    4. 734 here.

      as an older attorney, I can tell you that the childish name calling and pics of toilets doesn't work. As Charles says the facts are on our side. no need to sound like a whiney child. campos has written many good posts and not once did he post a pic of a toilet or resorted to name calling. its simply not necessary and counter productive in trying to influence those in a position for change.

      now pics of toilets will make my 6 year old laugh, but he is not in a position to change anything.

      there is a noble and good cause we are all supporting. don't ruin it with immaturity.

    5. Hey, the main post demeans night school students as somehow inferior. Just saying we are anything but, at least from my night school where the average LSAT was about ten points higher than that of the day students.

    6. When Campos started his blog he wrote to Nando and some of the other original scambloggers and told them about his new blogging effort and the intention of Campos was to be Anon.

      A few days into his blog proved otherwise and Campos was challenged by his peers to say who he was or is.

      The very first commenter on the Inside The Law School Scam blog was Cryn Johannsen who, ironically, offered to help an anon Campos to promote his new anon blogging endeavor.

      All I am saying to the older lawyer above is that the toilet pics were a necessary but not sufficient, it seems, condition towards the reform of a horrible scam situation.

      Reform that may not come for many years, but the toilet pics got things jumpstarted and were real adult expressions of the horror of lifetime debt and all the evils that befall the debtor in the wake of student lending the government involvement in the free market and higher education, and they were enough to get Paul Campos going at least for a while.

      Tamanaha as always sits on the sidelines and throws an oar in if it suits him or if the weather suits his clothes.


      We have a LEVEL ONE Painter alert at 4:20.

      Who dropped the ball on that one?

    8. To 9:35,

      That post didn't demean evening students as inferior. I did, however, detect a suggestion that graduates of ABA-unaccredited institutions can't be considered experts.

      Keith doesn't represent evening students in any way. He's doing this on his own, just to make money.

  10. This is one of the best posts I've seen on OTLSS.
    Funny to think that after only 5 years out of law school I now have more practical experience than most of the tenured profs at my Toilet.

    1. Thanks. I can't take the credit though - I'm just restating what everyone involved has been stating all along! These are by no means my original conclusions, and I merely thought that it was time for a post restating the core of what all the law school critics are working towards.

      It's always an odd feeling when you are a few years out and you realize that yes, you now know far more about the law in your chosen area than the guy or girl who taught you in during law school. (Or certainly more "black letter law", which is the important stuff, along with actual practical lawyering skills.) It's not like you've merely developed a level of competence that would make your "master" proud, with the master still being far, far above the level you're at, kind of like Yoda being proud of Luke's Jedi skills but still being the far superior practitioner. It's more akin to Luke listening to Yoda talk about how to be a Jedi for three years in Jedi school, then Luke goes off into the world and actually learns real Jedi-ing, then comes back to Jedi school a couple of years later and kicks Yoda's ass. (And instead of being a Jedi, Yoda spends his time writing articles like "Open Space and the Traffic Stop: Narratives and Counter-Narratives of the Force", or something like that. You get the picture.)

    2. I'm anon @ 9:02.

      The words of this post should be tattoed into the foreheads of every English and Political Science undergraduate major in this country. This post sums it up about as well as that flowchart somebody put together about a month ago.

      I will say my professors were much, much smarter than me. They had faster brains. But having a fast brain is not a necessary trait to be a successful lawyer, at least outside the elite firms. My professors wouldn't have the slightest idea how to draft a patent claim or negotiate a licensing agreement. The notion that they could teach this without doing it is rubbish.

      In fact, I think emotional intelligence, integrity and life experience is far more critical to success as a lawyer. It's ironic that development of these skills & traits is actively discouraged by those who profess to teach them. These fuc*ers live in a bubble. They are like an ant standing on the top of a car tyre and the tyre is slowly turning and about to obliterate them.
      Bring it on.

    3. 7:33 a very good "ant"alogy. The ant on the wheel. Like Leiter's ant rising and falling poem. On a tire, the ant could rise and fall, round and round! You have cracked the code. Leiter's poem is an insightful metaphor for the career of a law professor, not the pseudo artistic drivel we once laughed at.

    4. With five years under your belt, you not only have more experience than all of the tenured profs, you likely have twice as much as all of them do.

      Seriously. Read their CVs sometimes. Eighteen months in private practice is common.

  11. Yesterday, I was in court, waiting with four other lawyers, for my turn to see the judge. Two in our group were insurance defense lawyers, the rest of us plaintiff lawyers, but all of us came from the "small shop" part of law practice; which is to say the typical American law practice. All of us were in our late fifties and sixties (yes, cursed baby boomers) and our collective legal experience totaled about 180 years. We are the lucky ones; the ones that what passes for "making it" in this profession. In short, when we talk criticize legal education and the practice of law, we are not crafting our slings and arrows "in the darkness and ignorance". Quite the contrary.

    As we caught up on each other's lives, soon the conversation turned to practicing law: how hard it is for us, much less young, inexperienced lawyers, the obvious oversupply problems and its effect upon the market place and how, to a person, we forbid, not discouraged, forbid our children from following in our footsteps---not because we are losers---but because we can read the writing on the wall: there is no future in law for the vast majority of young lawyers. That topic flowed into the recognition, fired by hindsight and lengthy experience, of the laughable ignorance and sheer ineptitude of our law professors in teaching us anything about the practice of law. We all agreed, however, that as bad as the bombastic musings that passed for legal teaching was when we attended law school, at least we didn't have to pay $150,000 for the dubious privilege of having to listen to it as our young people now must do.

    I suppose if Dean Alexander or Prof. Leiter or Mr. Lee or Prof. Leong had heard us, they would have detected some bitterness---I admit to that. But, it is bitterness born of righteous indignation because all of us agree that the ABA, our trade organization, has allowed professors, deans and big-law managing partners, most of whom cannot find the court house, much less draft a complaint and try a jury case, to trash our profession. One would have to be a stone not to be bitter at the utter disrespect these gangsters have shown for, what is to us, a once noble profession.

    Finally, as for Keith Lee's "step by step plan", it is nonsense. Each and everyone of us old, wizened lawyers affirmed that starting a law business in the 1970s and 1980s was hard. Keeping it a profitable concern for thirty or forty years is even harder and with each passing years, only getting harder. Starting a law practice now, in the present market, simply makes us shake our head in wonderment that anyone would recommend such a scheme to a young, vulnerable person.

    1. Please forgive the grammatical errors. I wrote this on the run and, alas, do not have Mr. Cooper's wonderful flair for language.

    2. That was a magnificent comment, crafted in the wisdom of experience. Thank you very much.

    3. Great comments, my son is a insurance defense lawyer and he can't stand it. I only wish I could have been more knowledgeable about the scam blog movement before he went to law school. Many might consider him to be one of the lucky one's but he's looking for what is next on his plate, and it may not be the law. Sad because he is good at it!

    4. 8:21, is your son at a private firm or a captive office? If it's the latter he should get the hell out while he is young and can still make a career change. More and more I am seeing folks who built up decent incomes over years at captive offices get axed in favor of recent grads who will work for peanuts just to have any job. They might no be as good trial lawyers, but the insurers just build it into their underwriting.

    5. Can you explain the difference to me I believe you would call it a private mid-sized firm. Not sure what you mean by captive office?

    6. Never mind I googled it. He is at a private firm..

  12. "The Marble and The Sculptor is not for people who want to blame others for their lot in life. It is not for people who want to cry over spilled milk. It is not for people who want to whine about being scammed."

    Yeah. If you've already been scammed, it's best not to further ruin your life by blaming yourself. Fake it and put on a good show. Pretend you enjoy it.

    But if you're thinking of Law School..... Don't.

    These blogs are aimed at people who are considering law school. We don't want to have another generation tempted to blame someone else.... Rather, we want them never to make that mistake to begin with. And yes... don't cry over spilled milk. Don't have spilled milk in the first place. And certainly, don't ever whine about being scammed. Read some Charles Cooper, and avoid the whole scam in the first place.

    You have been served a shit sandwich. Those of you at the table may want consider a list of a few condiments that you can sprinkle on that shit sandwich to make it easier to eat.

    But don't line up in the cafeteria to buy a shit sandwich.

    Don't think of closing law schools as vindictive or bitter. Rather, it's a patriotic move to support this country's administration of justice.

    1. When prospective students figure out that the past predicts the future, then the scam is finished for good.

  13. "hen everyone was making money, people assumed the system was working just fine. The reality was that the system was already broken, but the fact that people were making money hid this fact."

    I liked this observation almost as much as the original post.

  14. If people were getting jobs and making money, the system by definition was not broken. But law in and of itseld has aleays been a lousy profession filled with narcissists, sociopaths and egomaniacs.

    1. So the mortgage crisis was only broken when the market crashed?

      In other words, the symptoms are often not contemporaneous with the cause. Does one only have cancer when one coughs up blood, or does the problem actually exist two years earlier when the shadow can be seen on the X-ray?

    2. Its really simply a game of musical chairs. Some people are simply not going to have any chairs. The system is still working for those who are gainfully employed. So remember, whether the system is broken depends on your perspective.

  15. I am, yet again, learning a new area of the law as I chase that almighty dollar. OK, I'm not chasing dollars as much as trying to pay the mortgage and put food on the table. I'm doing both, so I got that going for me.

    Law school takes so much and gives so little.

    How many of us have looked back to our school outlines, class notes, and the like once we graduated, passed the bar exam, started working and thought, what the fuck were we doing in that class? It is so utterly disconnected to anything we lawyers actually do on a day to day basis. It continues to amaze me.

  16. What color are Nancy Leong's eyes?

    Someone in the comments above mentioned her and I had never heard of her and so I googled her name and what lovely images appeared!

    I would say her eyes are sort of pale blue or pale gray?

    How could such a lovely young woman make anyone around here oppositional to whatever she could possibly say or write?

    And Stanford only ads to her credentials and overall loveliness. Sigh, said Charlie Brown.

  17. I sometimes wonder why you are even giving Keith and his book any attention. He just wants publicity - good or bad.

  18. I think you should stop giving this guy any more coverage here. He is looking for any publicity - good or bad. Why do you think he put his cowardly disclaimer on his blog about who should not buy his book? He's trolling you all - plain and simple.

  19. Rereading the post, I'm somewhat surprised that Keith wanted to decide who does or does not get to read his book. Hey buddy, if you write it, anyone gets to read it. And anyone gets to review it.

    That just shows that Keith isn't used to participating in a free market in ideas. He doesn't hear opposing ideas anywhere near enough to have a sound opinion on anything. His book isn't genuine advice so much as extended bragging about his own success.

    1. Well, he did the bloggers free PDF versions to review.

  20. Great thread, great comments. I'm hoping for a new post by Friday at noon, but that depends on the distinguished contributors to this website.

    Sometimes I'm amazed at how much momentum is now driving the reform movement.