Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Message to Friends and Supporters of OTLSS

UPDATE 2/20/14: Thanks for your comments and suggestions! There are some great ideas here.

Before I get into this post, I want to say thank you to the readers, commenters, contributors, and supporters of OTLSS.   This blog, and others like it, would not be effective without your input and your word of mouth, be it in support of our message or as words of constructive criticism.  As our web count increases and the law school applicants decrease, it would seem that our message is getting out there to the marketplace of ideas.

That being said, we have looked into "advertising" our message as well to increase our readership, yet unfortunately that has been much less successful.  Number one, as a collection of bloggers, we do not have the operating capital to run advertising campaigns (and, to that end, some would say "hurrah!").  Number two, while there are certainly some sympathetic ears out there, when push comes to shove there is political pressure not to get involved or otherwise provide an easy platform for our message.  Even if we had funds, many legal-oriented websites and blogs seem not all that interested in running or donating ad space for us.  Given the nature of the product we are criticizing, this is understandable to a certain extent.

Part of our message has been humorous (to us, anyway) advertisements that parody ads that have been put out by the Law School Cartel.  One you've seen already as a response to LSAC's "DiscoverLaw" campaign: 




Another responds to the value of the "Million Dollar Law Degree":




This is where we turn to you, our readership.  Are there venues that you are aware of that would be interested in running our "ads"?  Can you print these out, e-mail them, circulate them, use them as conversation starters with those you know?  What other ideas do you have?

Contact us and let us know.  We appreciate your continued support and your activism.

39 comments:

  1. The "Sign Up for the Million Dollar Law Degree" is an instant classic. Especially with the 70s-type used car salesman. Keep up the great and creative work, guys!

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    1. Used car salesman? Not a Breaking Bad fan, I gather?

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    2. Um, Nando... http://www.bettercallsaul.com/

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    3. The photo doesn't quite capture the characteristics of a tout at Honest Bubba's U$ed Karrrrrs & Skule of Law (halle-fuckin'-lujah!). Keep the horrible shirt, but substitute a loud plaid jacket, and add a whopping plastic flower for the boutonnière. Also use a fatter man who exudes the aesthetics of Budweiser and gun racks.

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  2. Assuming you could find media outlets that would run the ads, how much would it cost to run an effective ad campaign?

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    1. I can't say we've done exhaustive research, but the going rate online for legal-oriented websites appears to be anywhere from $2.5-10k per month, depending on how many "impressions" you want to pay for.

      And this assumes that they will accept your advertising in the first instance, which has been a tough sell so far. Even folks who would appear to be willing to donate space are rather cool to our message - there are a lot of protected interests out there, of course.

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    2. What about advertising in magazines focused on undergrads? When I was in college, I remember there was some magazine targeted to college students that was given out for free. U Magazine or something.

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    3. Is there any reason to advertise further? Good god, abundant information about the law-school scam is now readily available. Must we resort to neon signs and skywriting?

      I have very little sympathy for lemmings today who sign up for law skule and a quarter of a million in non-dischargeable debt. They don't want for information. There's a load of information today that wasn't readily available even three or four years ago. If Mr Lemming and Ms Special Snowflake are too stubborn to heed the warnings or too lazy to read them, they'll get no tears from me.

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  3. Loved the Million Dollar ad - hilarious.

    One venue that I have always thought of is billboards around law schools. This technique actually comes from the law schools themselves. When I was attending law school, I remember the law school had billboards plastered around the community trying to get people to sign up. If I were well-off, I would pick a school to target (if I were more well off, I would pick 3 or 4 schools to target) and then begin a campaign on billboards near the school, particularly if the school relied on local students. It might also be helpful to post the billboards around the undergraduate institutions that supply the law students.

    Since the illusion is that law school brings success, I would have on my billboard a picture of a dejected but professional individual w/ a rather serious, intense demeanor, along with the words: I paid $XXXX (the cost to attend the law school for 3 years) and studied for 3 years at XXXX (name of law school). I now work as a $10 an hour receptionist. Learn the truth. And then the website address.

    The words can be tweaked to fit the situation. If you couldn't find any recent graduates willing to pose from that law school, then a generic statement can be made: I paid $XXXX to attend law school (instead of the name of the specific law school.)....

    It's important that the ads be true, to avoid any legal consequences should they not be. If no one specific person was willing to pose, one could again tweak the billboard: Same sad, deflated but professional person, with the words: "The average law graduate graduates with $135,000 and has only a 52% chance on average of finding a legal job. Learn the truth about law school: website address.

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    1. The downtown airport in Toronto is plastered with ads from the Ontario Bar Association on the theme "Why I Went to Law School". The legal "profession" and academy in Canada are not yet so horrific as their US counterparts, but they're certainly headed into the toilet.

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  4. I've actually been wondering when the law skules will begin to advertise on television. Imagine a big commercial for Indiana Tech, complete with "The Wabash Cannonball" played on a banjo in the background. Pond Scum (display all four names in lower case at the bottom of the screen) could talk about exciting careers in the law of hip-hop, and that greasy-haired narcissist Lamparello could share prurient excerpts from his biography.

    In other news, a lawyer in Montréal demands, in the wake of the recent demise of supposedly storied firm Heenan Blaikie, that the law skules take responsibility for their self-serving part in creating a surplus of law graduates and degrading the "profession":

    http://www.canadianlawyermag.com/5009/The-lawyer-bulle.html?utm_source=responsys&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CLNewswire_20140218

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  5. This is ridiculous. You are getting the message out through Blogs. Do you expect to have to pay to ensure the lemmings get the message? This is the way I see it. Anybody who is young and thinking about law school would be googling law school, jobs after law school, is law school a good bet . . .worth it, that sort of thing. Who would embark on an expensive, lengthy journey these days without making some effort to see what you are getting yourself in for. And honestly, if somebody is dumb enough to do so without considering the costs and benefits . . you aren't going to reach those people anyway. But the simple fact is that many people are simply not going to agree with these blogs. You call people snowflakes . . but some people have confidence in their abilities to make a go of law school and a possible career. Not everybody fails at law. And today, I have to assume that most people are making reasoned decisions for themselves. Better to have tried and failed than never tried at all?

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  6. You can pay $5 on Fiverr.com to have people distribute flyers in various locations: http://fiverr.com/gigs/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&search_in=everywhere&query=flyer+distribution&x=0&y=0&jls_se99912_1_auto=1&jls_se99912_2_auto=1

    Here's NYC distribution: http://fiverr.com/finalstep/do-highly-targeted-flyer-distribution-anywhere-in-nyc

    Yale: http://fiverr.com/writenow921/distribute-your-flyer-around-yale-university

    Some "large, liberal, public college city campus" (this is probably a good one since it will undoubtedly be infested with lemmings): http://fiverr.com/babybear613/distribute-your-flyers-on-my-college-campus

    UT-Dallas (good one): http://fiverr.com/doctor_quill/distribute-50-flyers-across-the-university-of-texas-in-dallas-campus

    Princeton, NJ (lots of crappy colleges not named Princeton here): http://fiverr.com/paulina_smiles/distribute-30-flyers-promoting-your-product-business-or-website-in-princeton-nj-or-princeton-university

    Portland State (didn't even know this existed): http://fiverr.com/onlinetradepost/postdistribute-50-flyers-at-portland-state-university

    NYU: http://fiverr.com/finalstep/distribute-50-flyers-at-nyu-or-rutgers-university

    Columbia: http://fiverr.com/finalstep/hang-50-flyers-at-columbia-university

    Southern Methodist University: http://fiverr.com/doctor_quill/distribute-40-flyers-across-the-southern-methodist-university-campus

    University of Central Florida: http://fiverr.com/upzydazy08/post-10-flyers-on-college-campus-with-over-50000-students

    Arizona Colleges: http://fiverr.com/trianalife/post-80-flyers-in-arizona-colleges-asu-business-malls-phoenixtempeglendale-and-scottsdale-arizona-all-college-campuses-also-and-spring-training-coming-up

    Grand Rapids Community College: http://fiverr.com/walkerwork/hand-out-flyers-at-grand-rapids-community-college-grcc-50000plus-people

    Los Angeles universities and colleges: http://fiverr.com/adversity/post-ads-at-los-angeles-universities-and-colleges

    San Diego State University: http://fiverr.com/drockdizzle/post-up-50-flyers-at-san-diego-state-university-with-over-30000-students

    UC San Diego: http://fiverr.com/drockdizzle/post-50-flyers-at-uc-san-diego-with-60000-people

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  7. I had some business cards made up that reference the scam. I have your web URL on it a few others as well. I leave it around places that young kids hang out, or post them on various bulletin boards. I live in Charlottesville, VA. So we have lots of lemmings running around. They are so precious..

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  8. Rather than focus on law-oriented blogs, why not reach out to political/pundit type bloggers? The law school scam is a great story from a liberal OR conservative perspective. Instead of ads, some bloggers may be willing to write articles for their sites. That would be a great way for the scamblog message to reach a wider audience.

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  9. You could have banners above your blogs asking for contributions from your readers. I would not mind sending you money. Another time a banner could ask the readers to print the blogs and leave them on bulletin boards/cafeteria/public places. Another time ask your readers to like you on Facebook. Ill start leaving them in the train. And THANK YOU for your quality work,

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    1. Thank you for the offer and the encouragement. This idea may be something we mull over, but we don't take donations currently becuase it allows an all-too-easy cheap shot from our detractors.

      Even though funds would be earmarked for advertising, supporters of the establishment would say "see, they are doing it for the beer money!!!111!111eleven!!!", although there is no "money" in being a scamblogger, trust me. Strawman-ers gotta strawman and shills gotta shill in any event.

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    2. The law schools soak the public at the rate of a quarter of a million bucks a head, yet we'd be wrong to accept a few nickels and dimes in donations. Cherchez l'erreur !

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  10. The Movie: "The Paper Chase" was on TCM today.

    Any thoughts on that movie in some 40 year hindsight?

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    1. The television series (first season) was better.

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    2. "The Paper Chase" is yet another ingredient in the now-distasteful cultural bouillabaise that allows law schools to continue their senseless binging on fresh college grads and the resulting bulimic vomiting of thousands of newly minted JD's into a tragically maladjusted marketplace that sours by the month. The film is the jewel in the crown of the law school mystique. Yet like 'Triumph of the Will,' it should be viewed not to glorify its subject in any way, but rather to try to better comprehend the resulting dysfunction that grew therefrom.

      Written and filmed in the Nixon era (1973), the film is blissfully free to navigate the sensory buffet of law school, helping the viewer to generous servings of the intimidating, curmudgeony Professor; the hardworking, resourceful Law Student; the drama of the Socratic method unfolding in a classroom-- without ever having to confront the meteoric rise in tuition that has long since drained the degree of worth. Tucked safely inside this 40-year-old time capsule, the film is a curious type of Watergate-era "Suits"-- only its protagonists sport long hair, sideburns and bell-bottom jeans. The post-school legal world may well be their oyster. And repaying debt was as distant as AIDS, the Internet and cyberspace.

      Yet even understood through this historical prism, Paper Chase is to law school what "Gone With the Wind" is to southern history and the plantation system: a superficial, stylized gloss that can be dangerously deceptive to the degree it's taken as fact... or at least to the degree that its entertaining storyline and plot displace deeper analysis of actual facts and practices.

      Professor Kingsfield (Houseman), the so-called Socratic Method, and what would later come to be known as a "Tier 1" law school exprience all feature prominently in the picture, and have come to be cultural proxies for actual experience. Law professors are idolized by the studentry. Like "Full Metal Jacket's" one-hour tour through 1968 boot camp, Paper Chase introduces the public to iconic figures (Kingsfield) and classroom bullying, creating an accepted cannon of central-casting-type characters.

      Law School is East-Coast centered, and housed in prestigious buildings. There are tough, prestigious, brilliant-as-shit professors who apparently engage in scholarship and research, too. They are busy and impatient. Libraries are important. Wood paneling. Classroom bullying becomes entertaining and, in a way, uplifting -- much as we love L Lee Ermy's drill sergeant in "Full Metal Jacket" and we cheer for the officer candidates in "Officer and a Gentleman."

      If the film could be viewed in its historical context, it would be an interesting artifact. Yet the fact that many of the Nixon-era law graduates portrayed in Paper Chase arrived at the market buffet first... and many are still there today. Your professors, your bosses, your competiton. As the Carpenters were signing "We've Only Just Begun" in 1973, the legal academy's hyper-overproduction of JD's was in its infancy and market saturation had only just begun. The film becomes somewhat darker when this stark fact is recognized.

      In the final analysis, perhaps the film's most poignant insight into law school is unintentional. The talented actor who played the 1-L student, Mr. Hart, has the surname of 'Bottoms.' And forty years later, students heading off to law school in 2014 will most likely be 'bottoms' in a vastly different way.

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    3. 9:45 PM, submit this as a front-page post.

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    4. 9:45 pm, excellent post and this is a subject I've been wanting to discuss in this blog for awhile.

      Paper Chase was at least a reaslitically fictionalized account of Scott Turow's 1L, a book about his first year law school experience at Harvard. The Paper Chase series was a Spielbergish adaptation of the novel. The green of the lawns, the wet stones on the buildings were palpable; the conflict of each episode was announced by french horn and was resolved by clarinet or viola accompaniment. It was only dangerous as any fictionalized account can be dangerous, similar say, to We Are Marshall and college football. As far as depicting the realities of law school though, well, if Paper Chse was your siren call to law school, it wasn't too far off key.Those of us who went to law school in the 80s anticipated that our law school experience would be similar to Paper Chase,even if not at an Ivy, and we were not disappointed. At least Paper Chase was idealistic in way that could withstand scrutiny. As law students, we experienced the same class preparation terrors, night sweats, conflicts with fellow students that the Paper Chase characters experienced.

      Let's contrast to today's lemmings who reference Legally Blond, Ally McBeal and the unwatchable Suits as inspiration for embarking on a career. These shows are farces, the characters are clownish, one-dimensional mannequins and the plots are paper-thin attempts to combine slapstick with stylish clothes. If Paper Chase or, in the 60s, Perry Mason, shaped your ideas as to what law school and legal practice were all about and served as some sort of inspiration, then at least you would be a sane idealist. However, if you are going to law school to recreate your version of Elle Woods or live in some scene in Legally Blond or Suits, then something is seriously wrong with you. I frequently encounter this type of magical thinking insanity in today's law students, which also is in ample evidence in Law School Lemmings. What I also find with respect to today's law students is that (1) many of them have never had a job, (2) many of them don't drive a car and therefore have never had to plan for expense and maintenance, and (3) many of them are in constant contact with their parents whom they consult with all day long. There is a connection between living this Peter Pan-type existence and not being able to separate reality from farce. These students are gullable and easy targets for aggressive law school recruiting, and few will ever practice law. The sane OLs are reading this blog, examining the evidence, talking with practicing attorneys, asking law schools the right questions, and are declining to pursue a legal career. The law school students in the comming years will be the extremly bright and well-connected and the insane.

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    5. I can't find what Harvard Law School tuition was from that era, but Harvard undergraduate tuition in 1981 was $6,000 - $15,440 in 2014 dollars. 2014 Harvard Law School tuition is $52,350.

      Even if you assume that the law school tuition in 1981 cost a bit more than undergraduate tuition, Harvard law school tuition has roughly tripled since the early '80's.

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    6. John Jay Osborn, Jr wrote the Paper Chase. Not Turow

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    7. Imagining The Open ToadFebruary 20, 2014 at 7:17 PM

      3:25, in addition, although 8:35 did not actually claim Turow wrote Paper Chase (the statement was "Paper Chase ... a... fictionalized account of Scott Turow's 1L"), 8:25 is obviously way off base given Paper Chase preceded 1L by about 4 years and so could not be even loosely considered an "account" of 1L.

      Possibly the opposite is true.

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    8. Mr. Hart was played by Timothy Bottoms. Four years later, he played the part of a man blowing up rollercoasters...the supposed sequel to Paper Chase if he would have graduated.

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    9. And it was based on an earlier era. Prof. Kingsfield is based on "Bull" Warren, who taught at Harvard Law in the first part of the twentieth century.

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  11. One of the sarcastic titles for the tweets on the Law School Lemmings site gave a very good idea:

    "Can we do a Kickstarter campaign to pay for a professionally shot PSA with Reese Witherspoon admonishing the lemmings who believe Elle Woods is a realistic role model?"

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    1. I never realized what a role model Elle Woods is for the OL set in 2014 until I started following Law Lemmings. Given such abject stupidity I don't know that there's any advertising strategy that would be effective in dissuading these idiots. That's your lawyer of tomorrow -- the dumbest kid from your undergrad poli sci class.

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    2. I don't know what this Elle Woods stuff that people keep talking about is (I don't watch television or Hollywood swill), but it should be obvious that the representation of lawyers in the media will be unrealistically glamorous. No television show is going to explore the dreary life of a law graduate who cannot find work at all.

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    3. Imagining The Open ToadFebruary 20, 2014 at 7:11 PM

      Wow, 2:04 PM must live under a rock. Everyone who's anyone knows the Ellie Woods Mystal is a legal news writer over at Above The Law.

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  12. If the point is to reach out to less informed/more casual potential law school applicants, I would suggest...

    1) A CPM (cost-per-thousand-impressions) campaign handled through *any* of the hundreds of CPM internet ad networks in existence.

    Untargeted campaigns might cost *50 cents* per thousand internet ads (the huge supply of internet ad space has driven ad costs dramatically down) with a small guaranteed buy ($100?).

    Very well targeted ads (by demographic, by website, etc.) might go for $1 to $2 CPM - again, the huge oversupply of internet ad space has made CPM prices almost laughably cheap.

    It is perhaps even *easier* to run a Google Adsense CPC (cost-per-click) campaign that essentially gives away Google Search impressions for free (charging only for click-throughs). Here, the targeting is entirely driven by the selection of keywords. Google's Adsense tools are very straightforward and have very low upfront costs.

    2) Source of Funding? Hold a Kickstarter campaign - even minimal campaigns can generate $8k to $10k on average - and with the large base of scamblog readers...the campaign will go very viral...**and serve as high profile advertising in and of itself.**

    The general press is addicted to the "novel" and there is little more novel than a Kickstarter to bring down the law school cartel.

    Trust me - If you seriously try to crowdsource an anti-cartel ad campaign...you'll get extensive free press coverage (the general press doesn't have the built-in conflict of interest that the legal press does when it comes to law schools...and *their* advertising dollars).

    I'm posting under a pseudonym, but if you want some free Kickstarter/ad campaign assistance (educated amateur division) just post the site's interest in really going down this road and I'll call/email in.

    CAS127

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    1. CAS127, I've personally wondered about this idea, and we may discuss it further. Could you shoot us a throwaway e-mail contact at the address above, so if the group does decide to go down this path, we can get back to you more easily? You are welcome (in fact, encouraged, given the pro-scam stalkers) to remain anonymous, of course.

      Thanks - always nice to talk to someone who has done something similar prior.

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  13. It's only a matter of time before people catch on to other sectors of academia --

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/20/us/lawsuit-accuses-for-profit-schools-of-fraud.html?action=click&contentCollection=Europe&region=Footer&module=TopNews&pgtype=article

    As stated in article --
    ... for-profit schools have drawn scrutiny in recent years for aggressive recruiting, high prices, low graduation rates and heavy borrowing by students who often have poor job prospects afterward.

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    Replies
    1. Since I can't find a fucking job, perhaps I should hop aboard the student-loan gravy train. Shall I set up the Old Guy Skule of Law and Manicures?

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  14. You will certainly want to retool the ads before distributing, uploading or posting them anywhere unless you are packing a release from Bob Odenkirk and an image license from High Bridge/Gran Via/Sony Pictures Television.

    I trust (hope) that you paid the right license fee to Shutterstock (or 123rf.com) for the guy with his head in the net....

    Just saying...

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  15. Speak out! Don't be ashamed to tell your story. The law school cartel is counting on our silence.

    ReplyDelete