Sunday, June 30, 2013

2012 Law Grad: Case Study

"2012 Law Grad Happy to Work in His Hometown," by Jo Mathis (Washtenaw Co. Legal News)

A former colleague forwarded me this article. It is apparently second in a series of three articles profiling young lawyers and law students trying to make it in the legal profession. I couldn't find the first article in the series because the paper isn't indexed very well. However, the young attorney that is profiled seems to have a fairly typical story -- if not better than most since he actually passed the bar exam and is actually practicing -- so I thought perhaps our readers would like to leave some comments about what this young lawyer did right, wrong, and his likely career path. Overall, a great little article but not likely to be read by many pre-law students since it is in a legal newspaper so let's give it some exposure.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Will Vermont Law School Soon Start a Coffee Kitty?

"Vermont Law School Makes More Cuts as Class Size Drops,"  by Alicia Freese (, June 27, 2013)

Money Quote: "Starting last September, VLS enacted a plan to shrink the school in response to a tuition dollar drought that left it with a $3.3 million budget gap. The school attracted national attention last winter when it cut 12 staff positions -- 10 were through voluntary buyouts and two were involuntary."

"This past spring, in a quieter move, VLS whittled down its faculty. Eight professors, of the 40 who were eligible, voluntarily moved from full-time to part-time positions. Mihaly estimated that two or three other positions were eliminated when professors departed for personal reasons."

"VLS has been pruning expenses elsewhere, too. It has cut down on cleaning services and changed the hours and offerings of its food service, among other changes. At one point, there were conversations about whether coffee would continue to be available in offices, according to one staff member."

Friday, June 28, 2013

Guest Post: To the Class of 2016: Most of You Will Be Forgotten and NO ONE Will Feel Sorry For You

This post is republished here at its author's request.  The original can be seen here.

This post is meant for the graduating class of 2016. In a few months, law school classes will begin. Some of you are pondering whether law school will be the right choice for your personal future. Others plan to matriculate and have already paid their seat deposit and the security deposit for housing. But before you pay the tuition bill and commit yourself to three years of law school, there is something you should know.

I started blogging for two reasons. First, it was to lend another voice to many forgotten attorneys and others trying to spread a message: Going to law school and becoming a lawyer does not guarantee a financially comfortable life nor an exciting career.

In fact, chances are good that you are going to be financially screwed for a very long time if you have taken out large student loans. Many law school graduates will have a difficult time finding an entry level position and even if they find one, the job might not be secure. It is now common knowledge that most average and even some top law schools have been lying about their post-graduate employment statistics. Schools known to be regional powerhouses are now being exposed as trap schools as their reputations relied heavily on unemployed graduates keeping their mouth shut due to social pressure. Finally, low-ranked schools have become the new “lawyer jokes” among practitioners, law students and even some law school professors and administrators.

This message has received mainstream media attention since 2007. There are many articles, blogs and websites that tell you not to go to law school unless you meet a very narrow criteria. And even if you do go, you should drop out after one semester or one year if you do not achieve a certain class rank or if you receive no job offers after participating in the school’s OCI.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Let's Play Pretend: The Washington and Lee Practicum Fiasco.

Washington & Lee University School of Law (W&L) in Lexington, Virginia, has received much favorable publicity for its "experiential" third year curriculum. At W&L, the 3L year consists primarily of role-playing games, or in the more polished characterization of W&L law Professor James Moliterno, "elaborate simulation courses that we call practicums." (video at 1:15-1:18) Indiana University Law Professor William Henderson, a sometimes-law-school-critic, praised W&L's innovations so effusively that you would think that the Gem of the Slaveocracy had left every other law school choking on its dust and fumes. He said: "To use a simple metaphor, W&L is tooling around in a Model-T while the rest of us rely on horse and buggy."

Unfortunately, employers aren’t going along for the ride. The majority of W&L Law grads from the Class of 2012 failed to obtain full-time bar-required jobs within nine months of graduation. Indeed, if you rank schools by the percentage of the Class of '12 that obtained bar-required, full-time, long-term (one year or more, including clerkships) jobs that are non-solo and non-school-funded, W&L ranks in 119th, a shockingly bad outcome for a school that US News deems the 26th best.

Deborah Merritt recently published an important blog post at the Law School CafĂ©, which was excerpted at Tax Prof Blog, noting W&L’s disappointing results and proposing four possible explanations: (1) the connection between practical training and jobs is much smaller than practitioners assert; (2) employers may care less about practical training than they claim; (3) employers may care about experience, but want to see that experience in the area for which they’re hiring; and (4) the students may have developed higher or more specialized career ambitions than their peers at other schools.

My own explanation for W&L's failure is more straightforward: W&L’s version of experiential education is bullshit, and the practicing bar is not buying it. I strongly favor clinics and externships. But "elaborate simulations"? Building courses around role-play?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Possibly Dumbest Pre-Law Student Ever?

Money Quote: "St. Peter's senior Rosanna Hernandez, 21, appeared at [the side of U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr., D-Newark] at today's event. Hernandez, who studies political science, said she's been taking out loans since her sophomore year in college, and she anticipates another four years of loans when she attends law school. She doesn't know how much her student loan debt is. 'I want to know at the end, because I know it's going to be scary,' she said. Hernandez said she didn't contemplate skipping law school to avoid more debt. 'It's going to be an investment in my future,' she said."

Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. OMG. How freaking dumb.


All of the Above - Survivor Bias, Hard Work, Luck, and Cost

According to these guys, I'm practically guaranteed to get into "BigAdventure"!  All I need to do is "work hard" at burgling.  Now, if I could just figure out this promissory note...

We've all seen them - the expose of "successful" law graduates on every law school's website and premotional materials. For sake of argument, I'll use everybody's favorite punching bag, Cooley:

Well, there you go. The scambloggers should just stop whining - out of 17,000 graduates, with more on the way, here are 20 shining examples of what a JD can do for you - private practioners, judges, JAG, senior corporate counsel, directors of non-profits...the list goes on and on, so shut up already. Clearly, some say, there is a one-to-one correspondence between the latter and the former, and anyone who says otherwise just isn't willing to work hard enough. End of discussion.

The question few want to talk about is what about the other 16,980? The 99.9% left over, how are they doing? And how can anyone tell, more importantly? The law schools hide behind the false-positive of "no bad news is good news," while the scamblogs point to graduation data and economic data, along with personal anecdotes of themselves or others close to them, to paint the opposite narrative of how backing, connections, pedigree, and location location location (i.e. "luck") matters just as much or more than anything else.

But what does it mean to "work hard"? What does it mean to be "lucky"?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"The New Normal": A Warm Welcome to Our 60 New Readers from Weil Gotshal

"Law Firms Hiring!"  by JD Journal (June 25, 2013)

Money Quote: "Law school graduates can expect better returns, better job opportunities, and overall more hiring by larger firms."

Wait for it.


"Large Firms in a Hiring Mood Again," by Karen Sloan (National Law Journal, June 24, 2013)

Money Quote: "The country's largest law firms are wading deeper into the new associate hiring pool -- a welcome development after years of recruiting declines."

Wait for it.

New Course Offering: POV 575 (Lawyers in Poverty)

POV 575


This course is designed for graduating 3L students who wish to have hands-on practical training in poverty level survival techniques.

Please note: This course is NOT concerned with lawyers practicing in the area of legal assistance to low income persons (as such legal employment is nothing more than a myth perpetrated by law schools which you should have figured out by now!) Rather, this course will prepare YOU to enter poverty as a newly minted attorney.

Studies have shown that young attorneys have a difficult time adjusting to their new reality living at or near the poverty level. This course will begin with an historical overview of the lower social classes (which you are now entering despite having a Esq. at the end of your name) and proceed to an in-depth survey of the literature of the economic classification of poverty. It will also provide practical real-life lessons to students who will be navigating down to this social strata.

This course is designed for imminently graduating law students wishing to receive both theoretical and practical training in their post-graduate career. The course falls within our law school mission to provide "practice ready" training to our students. NOTE: Students earlier in their law school training will not be permitted to enroll in this course offering.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Scamblogger "Wall"

The recent post from the Adjunct Law Professor hit me very close to home.  Until a couple months ago I have been an avid devourer of news relating to changes in the law schools, anything about the law school scam, the legal job market, and the higher ed bubble in general.

But as many of you know other things get in the way.  For me it was a combination of a fatigue and weariness of following the scam, law school finals approaching, and a break-up.  I just didn't feel like scouring the internet for the latest news, or even spending the necessary 15 to 30 minutes for a decent blog post on this blog (when I first saw it advertised I was so excited to contribute I was one of the first people to volunteer via e-mail).

Something else that can dampen enthusiasm is the seeming lack of progress, or slow progress, that is being made.  This is unavoidable.  The vast majority of us do not sit on ABA accreditation boards, hold law school deanships, or are employed as senior law faculty.  Neither do we occupy influential positions for student loan policy or hold a position of respect in order to shape the behavior of tens of thousands of unsuspecting prospective law students.

We can react in different ways when ourselves or others hit the inevitable "wall."  I think the worst thing that we can do is lash out at those who are hitting the wall, as in the way the Adjunct Law Professor did.  True, a certain amount of "rouse the troops" leadership is needed, but we are all adults and don't need to be berated with profanity.

Instead the inescapable needs to be acknowledged and adapted to.  Professor Campos, a favorite blogger for many, felt obligated to completely stop posting.  Instead of complaining about his decision and dwelling on it this blog was created in order to create a platform to do something similar.  The dozen or so contributors of this site theoretically lowers the burnout.

We're trying to take on an established multibillion dollar industry.  It extracts billions of dollars a year in taxpayer student loans that should not be granted.  This battle will take a long time to be concluded.  There will be other Campos's.  Hell, there will be other Antiro's, or Adjunct Law Professors, and Outside the Law School Scams.

We have to take a multi-year fight day-by-day.  Law schools have seen a double digit percent decrease in applications for each of the past three years, they are only going to be more desperate here on out.  We need to be patient, and continue to calmly point out this indisputable fact to those in the legal field and those who are thinking about entering it: "the current cost of law school is far too expensive, and far too many people are graduating from law school."

Indiana Tech's Dean Says It's Not About The Number of Jobs, It's About The Quality of the Graduates

Even with the overwhelming evidence that the legal job market is impossibly saturated, new law schools are opening. And why not? Law school administrators operate on the same principle as Subway franchisees: Our law school is a special snowflake that will learn from all the mistakes that have been made so far. It doesn’t matter that there are four other law schools in this state. So it goes with Indiana Tech’s new law school, which has come under fire for opening when there are so many other law schools in the populous state of Indiana. Wait, what? You say that Indiana is the sixteenth most populated state in the U.S.? No matter.

Indiana Tech’s administration has been furiously defending this blatant cash grab short-sighted decision. New dean Peter Alexander is “tired of explaining it”. Mr. Alexander is “adamant: It’s not about the number of job openings versus the number of law school graduates. It’s about the quality of the law school graduate.” So, the top tier traps like NYU and George Washington have been unable to come up with Peter Alexander’s secret formula to guarantee employment outcomes. First, Mr. Alexander is placing a “heavy focus on practical experience.” How does Indiana Tech propose to implement this “heavy focus on practical experience”? “During the third year of law school at Indiana Tech, the students can work up to 40 hours a week for credit in nonprofit or governmental law, what Alexander calls a “semester in practice.” That’s right: Students will pay Indiana Tech for the privilege of working full time during their third year. With all the blowback slimy attorneys experience when they advertise “observation time” for pay, it’s a surprise that scambloggers haven’t called Alexander out on this suspect plan. 

As usual, higher ed is coming up with ever more creative ways to part naive students from their money. We need to have a truly independent board overseeing law schools. Shutter the ones with bad employment outcomes and prevent useless schools like Indiana Tech from setting up shop. But it looks like this generation’s future needs to be destroyed before society gets the message.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Guest Post - A Typical Story

This piece was sent in by a reader, and it's presented without editing.  The story, however, is typical and the message it contains for incoming law students is extremely important to understand:

My story is typical of the lost generation of law students. One area where my story is different relates to my age and my pre-law experience, so I hope it will helpful for people like me who are considering law school.

I came to law after 8 years of working as an engineer. I didn’t fully do my homework prior to entering law school. I knew the intellectual challenge of law school appealed to me, I had no desire to go to business school, and I did not want to be an engineer for the rest of my career. I also thought I would easily find a job as a patent attorney with my 10 years of experience. Like many others, I relied on Chicago-Kent’s published employment statistics . As you can see from the link, there was no mention of what percentage of graduates reported finding employment; the picture was all rosy.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Law Students GONE WILD!!!

Money Quote: "'It wasn't just like one day I woke up and decided, 'Let's do this,'' [former UB Law SBA Treasurer Margaret Olyer said after pleading guilty to stealing $33,000 from the organization.] 'I can't describe in words where your head goes....Everything that I'm trying to do is trying to right this wrong and correct this mistake.'" Olyer acknowledged that she "used some of the money to feed her alcohol and prescription painkiller habits."


Interview with Con Law Author Charles Cooper

Charles’ story is a good example of the I Did Everything Right journey that so many of us have traveled. 

I asked him some questions, he wrote some thoughtful responses, and I have edited it for length (yes, this is edited).  As many of you may remember, Charles provided a glimpse of his story in Con Law: Avoiding…Or Beating…the Scam of the Century.  I thought that having a more detailed account of his story would be interesting to readers. 

Once Upon A Time

I went to law school on the east coast in the early 2000s after thinking about it for a number of years and graduated in 2004. The school, at the time, was classed as a “tier 2” school, ranked around 70-80, give or take, and would be categorized as “regional”… I think it still is, although I haven’t actually checked the most current rankings – it never moves, regardless of how much money it pumps into self-promotion and expansion.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Today's News: Brooklyn Law Unloading Six Buildings

Money Quote: "Brooklyn Law School is selling six of its student housing buildings in Brooklyn Heights....[Brooklyn Law President Joan] Wexler, who will soon leave the presidents office to become dean and president emeritus, refused to say why the school is selling off so many residences. 'Thank you so much, and I really don't mean to be rude, but I haven't really got anything else to say,' she said."


Belmont Law School Scammers Triumphant.

(Jeff Kinsler: The man who persuaded the ABA to accredit Belmont, Elon, and Appalachian).
The ABA has just granted provisional accreditation to Belmont University School of Law in Nashville, Tennessee. The school did not admit its first class until 2011, and now, a mere two years later, it has joined the ABA's anointed. Here is a smattering of links, facts, and quotes from Belmont honchos. I guess what ties it all together is the following lesson for all would be scammers: It really helps to be, or to employ, a telegenic detail-oriented person with a flair for sounding sincere, confident, and idealistic while spouting baloney. In other words, a Jeff Kinsler.

I. Let Jeff Kinsler Quarterback Your Scam into the End Zone!

According to the Nashville Business Journal, Kinsler has been instrumental in obtaining accreditation for two other law school--Appalachian (where he served as Dean from 2005-2007) and Elon University (where he was a Professor of Law and Senior Scholar from 2007 to 2009, and where his salary was $221,800, h/t Third Tier Reality). And now Kinsler has completed an unprecedented trifecta of scam by obtaining accreditation for Belmont, which picked him as its charter Dean in 2009.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

And The News Continues

Please feel free to continue the prior post discussion. I'm not trying to squelch the conversation. However, there are some good articles to report so I wanted to get this post up.


"NYU Gives Its Stars Loans for Summer Homes," by Ariel Kaminer and Alain Delaqueriere (New York Times)

Money Quote #1: "'That's getting to be a little too sexy even for me, and I have a good sense of humor about these things,' said Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, a former president of George Washington University who has publicly defended high salaries for professors and university executives. 'That is entertaining, actually. I don't think that's prudent. I don't mind paying someone a robust salary, but I think you have to be able to pass a red-face test.'"

Money Quote #2: "'Universities are tax-exempt to educate students, not help their executives purchase vacation homes," [Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa] said in a statement on Monday. 'It's hard to see how the student with a lifetime of debt benefits from his university leaders' weekend homes in the Hamptons.'"

Administrative matters and a small favor needed

After this week's drama, I have a few administrative matters:

1.  New writers are still welcome. If you have a voice and you can commit to some kind of regular level of posting - perhaps twice a month, preferably more - then please email me at  Other bloggers here, please add your email addresses to your posts (if you want to) so that readers can contact you.

2.  If you just have a piece that you want published here, email it over and we'll get it out there for you.  Guest posts are more than welcome.  Same email address, or the email address of your favorite blogger here.

3.  Kind of linked to the above, although I think that TALP had a bit of a hissy fit and should probably have cooled off before quitting, she did make a fair point: we do need participation and help. Whether that's just posting comments, or emailing us leads, or helping out with individual bloggers' projects to get the word out, I'm not entirely sure that this can be an entirely "informational" or "passive" blog, nor was that my intention when getting it up and running.  ITLSS has already done that, and done it very well.  OTLSS was supposed to be the next step, not a copycat blog.  The word needs to be spread, and it's not going to spread itself.  The easy part has already been done by the scamblogs of old - developing the message.  Now it's the hard part, which is spreading the message.  Just relying on Google to pick this blog up doesn't cut it. I don't expect the activism that TALP had hoped for, but I think we can all agree that just reading and nodding our heads in somber agreement without doing more to spread the word outside this blog is far less than we're capable of.

Now the small favor:

I screwed around with the logo by accident, and lost the original while I was trying to add the email contact address to it.  The title now looks messy and off-color and fuzzy.  So put your graphic design skills to work and send us something new.

The image must be 600 pixels wide, must contain the blog name, and must contain the contact email address.  Other than that, go to town and give us something cool and new and fresh.  Anything goes.  I'll post submissions.  Like Google Doodles, we can rotate through them or change them at will.  If you have something seasonal, or weird, or whatever, send it in and we'll get it up.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The End?

Part 1.  Why I’m Quitting

I’m done with scamblogging. It’s not working. And I don’t think it’s the fault of the scambloggers, because some of us have worked hard. It’s everyone else.

Yes, I’m looking at you.

You are not putting any effort into this. Scamblogging will never work if the readers just sit there and have a “meh” reaction to everything we do. From the very start of this blog, all those months ago, there have been so many opportunities to contribute, so many good projects for activism suggested, yet so much utter lethargy and disinterest from everyone involved that it’s been embarrassing. We tried stickers on books, so easy but ignored. We tried getting together and organizing a presence at LSAT tests or law schools, and that was so easy but ignored.  We tried fliers, again so easy but ignored. We tried promoting Con Law, so easy and ignored. Someone had the bright idea of renting a billboard, funding the project via Kickstarter, which was hands down the best idea ever suggested here. But that too was ignored.

And we've tried asking you all time and time again what exactly you would do to help, and we get nothing. Because deep down, that's what you want to do - nothing.

Monday, June 17, 2013


"Two-Year Law School? Don't Rush the Paper Chase," by Martha C. Nussbaum & Charles Wolf (Bloomberg)

An opinion piece arguing that the University of Chicago Law School curriculum model developed a century ago by political science professor Ernst Freund, where law students do not simply learn practical legal skills but also economics, sociology, political theory and philosophy, is a model that is relevant and should continued to be followed in the face of a push today for a two-year practical curriculum. Nussbaum/Wolf argue that students now arrive at law school shackled in undergraduate debt and law schools were slow to offer financial aid because they were sending students out to remunerative careers. Nussbaum/Wolf claim that law school deans are working hard to raise money for scholarship aid that will help them get ahead of the curve so no law school curriculum adjustment is necessary.

Not to surprisingly, Martha C. Nussbaum is Ernst Freund distinguished service professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago and Charles Wolf in a University of Chicago law-school graduate and a shareholder at Vedder Price PC in Chicago.


"OU, Cooley plan helps students earn degree faster,"  By Diana Dillaber Murray (The Oakland Press)

Money Quote: "[Cooley's Auburn Hills campus Associate Dean John] Nussbaumer said no limit has been put on the number of students who will be accepted under the program [whereby a student spends three years at Oakland University plus three years at Cooley Law School and graduates from both in six years instead of the traditional seven years]."


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Let's not let the student housing industry off the hook

"Living in a Van was the Best Financial Decision I Ever Made,"  by Ken Ilgunas (The Motley Fool via AOL)

Money Quote: "On the first night I tried to sleep in my van, I was lying in my sleeping bag sprawled out on the backseat, parked in a mostly empty Walmart parking lot. I'd wake up every 15 minutes because I was nervous that the security guard driving past my van would knock on my door and make me leave."

"My new home had 60 square feet and four wheels. While most people would consider living in a van an embarrassment, a low point, or even a 'rock bottom,' it would -- though I didn't realize it then -- turn out to be the greatest financial decision I'd ever made."


How to be a Scamblogger

Wake up in the morning feeling the anxiety of the unknown.  Lie in your bed, a too-short twin from your husband’s grandmother’s apartment from when she died of a heart attack during your third year of law school.  Let your husband sleep a little while longer.  Other than your anxious dreams, sleep is the one reprieve that you always look forward to.  Let your husband appreciate another few moments of unconsciousness so that he won’t wake up to a world where your unemployment and debt make you a burden. 

You will never know what exactly you’re going to do at the beginning of the day unless your side-job starts in the dark of the morning, in which case you might be bussing tables during the breakfast rush at the local diner or staggering off to a doc review gig in a windowless basement.  If you work at the diner, you will hide from all of your co-workers any details from the last four years of your life.  This is important, otherwise the mark of shame—your law degree—will cause everyone to question your place in the world.  You will become a suspect—Did you get disbarred? Did you even pass the bar?  Are you just dumb?—and you may get fired for being someone other than who they thought you were. 

If you head off to a doc review gig, stop by the Starbucks for your fuel.  You will point and click for eight or ten hours straight while a taskmaster monitors the speed of your progress.  At least the stomach-churning 24-ounce coffee will provide you with a good excuse for a bathroom run.  You will have to run.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Lemmings or Luddites?

Money Quote: "So should workers simply be prepared to acquire new skills? The woolworkers of 18th-century Leeds addressed this issue back in 1786: 'Who will maintain our families, whilst we undertake the arduous task' of learning a new trade? Also, they asked, what will happen if the new trade, in turn, gets devalued by further technological advance? And the modern counterparts of those woolworkers might well ask further, what will happen to us if, like so many students, we go deep into debt to acquire the skills we're told we need, only to learn that the economy no longer wants those skills?"

So should we quit calling law students lemmings and start calling them Luddites? Other than the extent of the non-dischargeable debt and lost opportunity costs, are displaced lawyers worse off than any other career that has collapsed in history? Or this century?


The four tiers: T13, Trap, No-Name, and Joke.

It is customary to divide the 200 or so law schools into four tiers, fifty per tier, based on where they placed in US News and World Report’s annual ranking. Beware of classifying law schools in this manner because it gives undeserved status and dignity to some extremely scammy law schools. For instance, US News deemed American University to be a first tier law school until this year, and even now American is situated near the top of the second tier, in 56th place. But look at its calamitous placement results--only 38.4% of the Class of 2012 and 35.3% in the Class of 2011 obtained full-time lawyer jobs within nine months of graduation! [1] One can only hope that American University JDs, however jobless and impoverished, take pride in their semi-elite pedigree, like minor aristocrats after the Russian Revolution.
Here are the tiers as I see them: 1) The T-13.  2) The Traps. 3) The No-Names. 4) Joke Schools. The purpose of this blog post is to encourage those who cannot be dissuaded from law school, and are in the process of choosing where to enroll, to opt for a big scholarship at a No-Name over paying full or nearly full freight at a Trap. But do NOT go to a Joke School, even for free.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


I have read a few recent posts, including one from Campos, about the clueless boomers.  I have written about the boomers myself in some of my earlier posts (see “Grey Dawn”).  As time passes, and the scams of the Legal-Education Industrial Complex become less of a controversial culture-shock and more of a common understanding, I have seen more posts and comments by the silent majority of boomer lawyers who hate the scam as much as the rest of us.  Even Thane Messinger has recently come out of the closet.

I am happy to see more boomers break their silence.  When we hear from them, it is easier to understand that many of them face similar problems.  Well, maybe not similar to the younger generation, but the financial problems are comparable in magnitude. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Times, They Are (Slowly) A-Changin’…

Put that coffee down. Coffee's for LLMs-only. You think I'm f***in' with you? I am not f***in' with you. I'm here from downtown.  I'm here from Law School.  And I'm here on a mission of mercy.

Just got some unsolicited mail the other day.  LLM program, yeah, whatever, seen ‘em come, seen ‘em go.  Real Estate Law?  Hmm…well, more practical than most LLMs, I suppose.  So I look closer at the bountiful claims.

Courses take a “transactional approach”?  Instructors use “actual real estate forms,” as opposed to “casebooks with appellate decisions”?  Students gain an understanding of “business objectives”?

Wow.  On paper at least, this is a far cry from “Legal Indeterminanacy in Nietzchean Transgendered Moral Positivism concerning Post-1860 Notions of Property Rights,” or some such “Law and fill-in-the-blank” lecturing.  Actual practice-ready materials, with actual people with actual day-to-day legal issues thrown in to boot. 

While not all higher education should be of the oh-so-dreaded “vocational” variety, with its plebeian concerns and travails as some would say, having the pendulum swing back the other way a little bit is a welcome change.  I view this as an indication that a small mental shift is taking place, given all the negative press, costs, and deplorable outcomes for law graduates.  Now, if we could get some of this practicality in the JD program itself…

However, this also smells like teen spirit and desperation – “Be Ready for the Real Estate Industry Rebound!” they proudly proclaim.  As law school enrollment drops, LLMs and other revenue drivers are on the rise, and that is what this is actually all about.  “What’s it gonna take to earn your LLM-business today?”  Not an actual sea change in the mentality and approach of the legal education industry, but an attempt to appear relevant and marketable to new students, freshly-minted JDs and experienced veterans alike, to make up for funding shortfalls.

One reason of many why this is suspect is that the Real Estate Industry in nowhere near rebounding.  Ultimately this is a topic for debate in another forum, but all you have to do is look at Bloomberg, ZeroHedge, and the like to see that the “smart money” is already exiting the real estate market in the so-called “recovery,” now that a second real-estate bubble has started to rise.  See, for example, here and here.  Many economists don’t think we will see actual, fundamental rehabilitation in real estate, commercial or residential, for many, many years, and even then it will continue to be a slow climb. 

But hey, a Real Estate LLM sounds legit, right?  Get in on the “rebound,” everybody! 

As with all things, proceed with extreme caution, especially where Law School is concerned.  They have tipped their hand once already, so remember who you are gambling with.

How did we miss this story while Brian Leiter picked it up? Is he the new leading scamblogger?

(Update - the fantastic RAB picked up on this story too, via the fantastic dybbuk, on the 6/11/13 news roundup. But I still think it warrants a separate post, just because it's so...scammy! And also because we weren't writing about it on 6/10.)

This giant story was picked up on 6/10 by Brian Leiter as it broke, and I (his biggest critic) will be the first to give him complete respect for posting it on his blog.

NYU [Law] Channels Wall Street: New Documents Show Lavish Pay, Perks and Secret Deals
According to documents unearthed in a month-long search of public records, NYU Law School has created an array of nonprofits to funnel money into lavish perks for its professors. The money has been used by professors to buy multi-million dollar brownstones and condos in Manhattan and Brooklyn with portions of some loans forgiven over time. In some cases, even the interest charged on the loans has been reimbursed.
Some of the more vomit-inducing facts include:

. . . on December 9, 2004, the NYU School of Law Foundation made a $2,850,000 mortgage loan to one of its law professors, Richard (Rick) Pildes to purchase a 6 room, 3 ½ bath, luxury condo with views of the Hudson River.
The article continues:

That deal followed an earlier one with Pildes in 2001. On January 30, 2001, the NYU School of Law Recruitment Assistance Corporation gave a $200,000 mortgage loan to Pildes and magically made him a tenant in common with the nonprofit in a brownstone on West 10th Street. On October 29, 2004, the same nonprofit bought back Pildes’ 49 percent interest in the West 10th Street brownstone for $3,000,000, according to the public record it filed with New York City, even paying $42,000 in transfer taxes.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

NYU Law School Using Nonprofits to Forgive Loans to Profs

Money Quote: "According to documents unearthed in a month-long search of public records, NYU Law School has created an array of nonprofits to funnel money into lavish perks for its professors. The money has been used by professors to buy multi-million dollar brownstones and condos in Manhattan and Brooklyn with portions of some loans forgiven over time. In some cases, even the interest charged on the loans has been reimbursed."

Hat tip to Dybbuk123 for this link.

Law school transparency at the NALP conference, FJM style

At the NALP conference in April, a group of panelists discussed the issues around the increased transparency being demanded by the public. The fact that this panel was arranged shows that the law schools are still only paying lip service to the concept of transparency. Instead of being as open as possible with their employment numbers, law schools want to continue their manipulation of the stats to dupe unwitting students into buying a $200,000 lemon.
One of my favorite sports websites was Fire Joe Morgan. They would take Joe Morgan’s commentary and offer a line-by-line counterpoint. Some other websites have done it, referring to it as the FJM treatment. I will attempt to do so with the main points of this excellent summation by Above The Law. My comments will be in italics.

1. Checking employment status at nine months is unfair to us because we send a high number of our graduates to the types of employers who wait for bar exam results to hire entry-level attorneys or who are otherwise slow in their hiring (e.g., state government or small law firms).
If the law degree is as desirable as the law schools present them to be, then students should have little problem finding a job. You know why employers are able to wait so long to hire people? Because there are a thousand more people in line, ready to step in. Employers are in a buyer’s market that will continue to tilt further in their favor as long as law schools treat their students as ATM’s rather than future colleagues.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Blogging the News

"Chart of the Day: Student Loan Debt is Skyrocketing," by Kevin Drum (Mother Jones)

Money Quote: "Student loan debt is just flatly out of control. I understand why this has happened, and I understand why it's hard to get a handle on, but we're going to regret it if we don't do something about this. We're training a whole generation to be wary of going to college, and for those who do, we're forcing them to start out their lives living under a mountain of debt. This is a recipe for disaster....It's also yet another fault line between young and old that's not likely to turn out well. My generation got a cheap college education when we were young, and we're getting good retirement benefits now that we're old. Pretty nice. But now we're turning around and telling today's twenty somethings that they should pay through the nose for college, keep paying taxes for our retirements, and oh by the way, when it comes time for you to retire your benefits are going to have to be cut. So sorry. And all this despite the fact that the country is richer than it was 50 years ago, and will be richer still 50 years from now."

Highly recommend taking a look at the charts in the article.


So, when all is said and done, who *should* go to law school?

The Law School Scam trains its sights primarily on those institutions (and their leaders) that perpetuate the systematic impoverishment of thousands of would-be lawyers in a rapidly shrinking market for legal services. At the same time, not quite as much attention is paid to those students who put themselves in this position to begin with by continuing to apply. Sure, we may derisively refer to this cohort as “lemmings”, no doubt with a measure of self-loathing; after all we were once like they are now, to lift a line from Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam, whoever).  But while the profession has a responsibly (willfully abandoned, it seems) to see to it that there aren’t more lawyers than the identifiable demand for legal services can ever justifypeople will continue inevitably to apply in larger numbers than what is probably necessary. For these and other reasons, this blog - and countless others - has expounded at length about why you shouldn’t consider applying to law school, but it may also be an equally useful exercise to consider who should be applying to law school 

Should, of course, is really a terrible word, thoroughly larded with definitive presumptions and unfounded certainties. Nobody should do anything where advanced higher education is concerned. Legal prodigies of such startling genius as Ronan Farrow and the young Judge Posner were by no means predestined for careers in law simply because they were really, really smart. But it no doubt also helps to understand the particular kind of smart you have to be to succeed both in law school and as a lawyerAt the conclusion of a characteristically unchallenging 4-6 years of college you ought to have a clear understanding of whether or not you are, in fact, possessed of this brand of smart. And if there is any doubt in your mind, the folks at the Law School Admissions Counsel offer up a wonderfully time-consuming and tedious diagnostic administered a couple of times a year that should provide you with a much clearer idea.   

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Law School Advisory List: One Guy's Opinion

A commenter recently suggested looking at individual schools:
I think it might be time to start attacking specific schools, otherwise 0L's will say "at least I'm not in Cooley, I'm in University of X, so I'm OK". 
I agree.  So, for clarity's sake and as a treat for our Sunday afternoon readership, here is a full list of American (non-Puerto Rican) law schools (I think) with the probable reaction yours truly (and not OTLSS - this isn't Above the Law for God's sake) would give to a prospective student enrolling in those institutions, in crude alphabetical order.

You can take this as one guy's opinion, but the point is that if you want to argue there's a difference between T4 and T7, fine, go ahead.  Neither is a good option, and if I'm ever on the other side of the hiring table, you're getting an escalating minus if you enroll in any school in T4-T7 in 2013 or beyond.

1st Tier:  [Enthusiasm]  "Good for you!"


2nd Tier:  [Passive approval] "Sure, go to law school."

New York U.

Con Law: Get the Message Out!

I have been educated in the last week about the more volatile publishing industry now that ebooks dominate the market.  To make a book survive the white noise of self-published crap, the book must sell and must receive reviews.  With ebooks, marketing is now more akin to viral campaigning...

I know that the book has sold because many readers commented on this forum.  I would like to ask on behalf of myself and the authors that the many readers express their opinion on an Amazon review as soon as possible.  No one needs to write anything fancy, just make your enthusiasm for the book known in a short review.  Right now, the reviews are limited to The Adjunct Prof and myself.

It will help another book exposing the scam to survive!

(UPDATE from OTLSS - I second Adam's request. We get about 2,500 hits here per day. Assuming (conservatively) that only 20% are readers, and that only 20% of those readers have Amazon accounts, that's 100 potential reviews on Amazon for this book. We rarely ask for you guys to do much except sit back and read and comment once in a while, but this would be a great way to spread some influence beyond this blog. Apathy doesn't work anymore and if we're going to make changes, we need to expand and venture out from here once in a while. Recently, you were all asking for easy pieces of activism that required no effort whatsoever - well, here's one. Adam has handed you a task on a plate. I for one would like to see how well our readers are able to respond to a challenge like this. I hope I'm not disappointed, because when outsiders look in and see a group of people who aren't willing to step out from behind the comments section of the blog, it makes us all look toothless, insignificant and kinda pathetic. And while you're over at Amazon, if you've bought some other pre-law guides in the past and found them to be lacking, why not review those too and give them the two or three stars that they truly deserve instead of their current five star ratings?)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Lemmings: Why Bother with Tuition?

I know that many of the die-hards believe that the one and only goal of scamblogs should be the dissuasion of all prospective students from law school.  I do not disagree that such a goal would lead to victory, as it would empty the bank accounts of the law schools once and for all.  However, I recognize that in reality, many people will still attend law school for various reasons, including those people with connections in government or big law or rich families.  Also, those people who get into the higher-ranked schools and achieve top grades will probably survive the post-law-school financial wasteland (although Con Law explains why even those graduates often become miserable and leave the law).

To help those young people who will attend law school despite the scam warnings, perhaps because many of the major facets of the scam do not affect them in the same way, there are additional messages that we should advance that will still help to destroy the Law School Industrial Complex.  For example, Campos (remember him) recently reported on Lawyers, Guns, and Money that he emailed with a student matriculating to a higher-ranked T1 school this year who received an unsolicited tuition discount of 60%.  To be clear, this was not a contingency scam-scholarship—this was a straight tuition cut given to a student with below-median LSAT/GPA. 

If the schools are desperate enough to retain a below-median student without any negotiation whatsoever for only 40% of sticker price, the end is nigh.  Think about what would happen if he did negotiate.  This begs an even better question: could all above-median students receive a full-ride for all three years?

Harvard Law Prof. I. Glenn Cohen's deleted post: If you want tenure, avoid focusing on teaching or service.

On June 7, 2013, Harvard Law Professor I. Glenn Cohen published a post at Prawfsblawg, online hub of the pro-scam law professoriate, entitled "How to Increase Your Risk of Not Getting Tenure." One helpful hint that I. Glenn offered to those junior faculty who actually crave tenure, in contrast to the ironic blog post title, is to avoid devoting too much time to service and teaching. I. Glenn estimated that 90% of the "promotion process" is based on an assessment of a law professor's "scholarship," rather than on his or her teaching and service, and recommended that junior faculty allocate their time with that figure in mind. To his credit, I. Glenn disapproved of this state of affairs, but indicated that he was simply being realistic.
I. Glenn stated, in relevant part, that:
"Every school says its promotion process is based on the triad of teaching, service, and scholarship. My experience is that for most schools it is 90% for scholarship and the remainder for the other two. Allocate your time appropriately. This is a sad and unfortunate truth, I think. It is partially a result of the fact that outside letters cannot and will not evaluate your teaching and service, and part a matter of thinking about your long term career – service in particular is a firm-specific investment, and if you leave your home institution (to lateral or due to denial of tenure) you don’t take it with you. If your dean calls on you to do significant service, you should ask for teaching relief (as my dean did and I did) to make sure you are not getting the short end of the stick.
In terms of teaching, most of us overinvest in teaching based on what the value is for tenure. I did/do, you will as well. I am happy I did it, but in part because I was able to produce enough scholarship at the same time. But you should recognize that every moment spent prepping, sadly, is a moment not spent on your scholarship. Some schools sometimes punish bad teaching during tenure, but far far fewer reward good teaching or at least in the proportion to the time spent to become an excellent teacher. Again, I am being cynical here but a realist; this is not the way I would like tenure to work, but I think it is the way it works right now in many institutions (as with all this advice you should try as much as possible to figure out what the climate is at your institution."  
The post was deleted a few hours after its debut. I am actually not crazy about always preserving e-statements that the declarant wishes to withdraw as imprudent or prone to being misunderstood. However, this post needs to be preserved. It was written by a tenured Harvard law professor, no less. And law students and the public may find its content to be instructive, given that their money is fueling the law school gravy train. Therefore, I am linking to the post as it still exists in yahoo cache. Also, I have converted it into pdf. (below).

Friday, June 7, 2013

The fool doth think she is Weiser.

In a country, actually an entire planet, overwhelmed by suffering and oppression, the downtrodden cry out for assistance. Their humble request is for more law school graduates to analyze subordination for them, and provide them with much-needed leadership. But American law schools, though fantastical places that provide their students with super-cerebral analytical and problem-solving skills, have gone astray. You see, law students, their values distorted by a  greedy culture, crave Bentley cars and private jets, rather than service and justice, and the complacent schools have not provided appropriate correction. So to all you recent law school grads and law students, one can only ask: where is your shame? Instead of hankering for a private jet, why not adjust your goals and values to accord with those of the fictional character Atticus Finch? Why not craft a more just and caring society, as your law professors taught you to do through their principled critiques of the status quo and their explanations of your professional responsibilities? 

If you think that the paragraph you just read is a preposterous and incoherent attempt at parody, then read the following quotes from Fordham Law Professor Hazel Weiser, a long-time honcho of the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT).  Unfortunately, my rhetorical exaggerations are slight. As the quotes demonstrate, I am actually summarizing her views.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What a Depressing News Cycle

"Your student loan isn't really a loan," by David Dayen (Salon)

Money Quote: "The roughly two-thirds of U.S. students who take out loans to finance their college education can end up in a situation most resembling the historical concept of indenture. In medieval times, peasants would sign deeds to work land, which would then get cut in a jagged line (looking like teeth, or 'dentures'). Each party would get half, and rejoining them would prove the authenticity of the contract. Colonial indentures would trade years of labor for the opportunity of transportation to the New World. The indentured could not alter the terms of the contract, no matter their circumstances. One way or another, the debt would get paid. This is basically how student loans work."


"Fix bankrupt student loan proposals," by Katrina vanden Heuvel (Washington Post)

Money Quote: "Is it any wonder that Americans grow cynical? Multinational corporations and wealthy investors stash literally trillions abroad to avoid taxes. The big banks rake in trillions in subsidies and discounted loan rates to rescue them from their own excesses. But Congress finds it impossible to make it affordable for the next generation to get advanced education and training."


How we're doing, and how are we doing?

A little breather. A sorbet, if you will, to cleanse the palette; something to remove the nasty taste of daily law school dirt.

From a technical standpoint, this blog has taken off in a big way. Daily reads are increasing, we're well over 160,000 views, and the switch to moderated comments has - I think, at least - made a huge difference to the quality of discussion. In fact, rather than discouraging people from reading, the increase in quality comments has encouraged more readers and lifted the comments out of the gutter. You're probably safe to read this blog at work now.

It's been said before, and it's worth saying again - the comments and the participation are the life of this blog and where the real action takes place.  It's where anyone can join in and air their opinions.  The writers here merely set it up (very well) for you to smash to pieces (even better).

Now is the time to continue to put in the effort. The new crop of 1Ls will be starting school in a few months, and this is the last chance to discourage them from making the dumbest decision of their lives. Participate here, or participate elsewhere, but participate. Whether it's posting a comment or taking it a step further, do something. If you're just reading, then you could do more.

For those of you who don't feel comfortable commenting here for reasons of privacy, I'll quickly go over what we see as admins of the site. When we log in, we see a screen that shows all the unpublished comments - no names, no IP addresses, no identifying information at all if you're posting comments under the Anonymous category. We cannot trace you, we cannot out you, we have no ability to look behind the curtain and see anything other than your words. There is no way for us to see who you are, where you are, or link your opinions to you in any way whatsoever. Not that any of us here have any desire to do that even if we wanted to, but still. This place is absolutely anonymous.

Following on from that, all opinions are welcome. There have been some heated discussions over the past few days from those with all manner of differing opinions, and we typically publish every comment other than the obvious spam. If you have something to say, whether you agree or disagree, then please join in.  That includes those who would consider themselves in opposition to our broad mission here.  Tell us why we're wrong and you're right.  Let's discuss it - these issues will never be resolved if you remain on your side and we remain on ours and we never interact.

Now to flip this around 180 degrees - how do you think we're doing? Are we still on the right track? Are there things we're not covering that we should be? Everyone here is open to comments, criticism, suggestions and direction. Email us at outsidethelawschoolscam at if you need to get in touch with any of us with tips, hot news, or if you want to join as a regular writer.

Remember, this is a community effort. If this blog is not serving you properly, let us know. And likewise, please do your best to add whatever contributions you can, be it spreading the word elsewhere, writing comments, writing posts, or standing outside law schools in September with a placard reading "The End Is Nigh" - anything to get the message into the heads of those who don't yet understand.

Oh, and thanks!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Bonus News Round Up!

"McConnell: ObamaCare to blame for higher student loan rates,"  by Ramsey Cox (The Hill)

Money Quote: "'Rates are going up, and the tuition is going up so [students] have to pay back more at a higher rate ... all because of something young people had nothing to do with -- and that's the passage of ObamaCare,' [Sen. Mitch] McConnell said on the Senate floor."

It's called misdirection. Get people riled up about the interest rates and they won't think about the principal.


"How is Student Loan Debt Affecting Your Post-Graduate Life?" by Newsdesk (PBS News Hour)

Money Quote:

  • .@NewsHour no, but i'll have $250,000 worth of loan debt by the time I finish law school.

  • Not so brilliant, Howard.