Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Connections

Indiana Tech Law School, my favorite moribund – no, dead on arrival – law school, recently announced a $25,000 gift from a local law firm to endow a scholarship for the student who finishes the 2L year ranked first in the class.  I’ll put aside for now the issue of whether this school will have any rising 3Ls to take advantage of this scholarship in 2015, because this scholarship brings up a rather more pressing problem.  Jobs.

The firm donating the $25,000 to ITLS is Shambaugh, Kast, Beck and Williams, LLP, a local outfit in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Looking at its website, SKBW seems fairly typical of a mid-sized law firm; about twelve lawyers (so perhaps on the smaller side of midlaw), regional market, the usual local litigation and transactional practices etc.  This is probably a good target firm for successful grads of respectable law schools.  The firm might hire one associate per year depending on its needs, but most cities have a few firms like this.  And students at Indiana Tech Law School may well be rubbing their hands with glee: “Look, this firm is backing our school, so there will be jobs for us after all.”

But let’s take a look at the composition of the attorneys in the firm to examine why this firm will never, ever hire from ITLS.  It’s all about connections.

Let’s start with the obvious – family connections.  It’s commonly accepted that one of the only ways a graduate of a lower-ranked law school can get a foot in the door of a law firm is to have a family member who is high up in the firm’s management.  Looking at SKBW’s current lineup of lawyers, there’s one Steve Williams, a name partner.  Importantly, his last name is shared by two of the more junior lawyers (I’m assuming they are his sons), Benjamin and Nathan Williams.  While I’m not going to speculate about their abilities as lawyers, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that the fact that their father is a name partner at the firm had something to do with why they were hired.  A quarter of the entire firm is essentially a family business, and it's also not unreasonable to assume that should any children of any of the other lawyers at SKBW be looking for legal employment, SKBW will be very receptive to hiring them.

And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It’s just how the game is played.  Father develops a strong legal practice, wants to pass that on to his kids.  Nothing wrong with that.  Nepotism isn’t always bad.  If I built up a business or a strong client base, I too would want to be able to pass that on to my children.  What’s bad is that law school applicants often don’t see that this is how the game is played.  They think that if they do well in law school, if they graduate near the top of the class, then they’ll shine in the hiring process because of their superior performance.  After all, doesn’t the firm want the best lawyer for the job?  Er, no.  The firm wants the new lawyer who has family connections, regardless of ability.

Looking again at the composition of SKBW, we also see that the overwhelming majority of the lawyers there attended Indiana University for law school.  This is another type of connection – education.  At the midlaw firm I once worked at, many of the lawyers attended the same niche college for undergrad.  Applicants who graduated from that same college were a step ahead in the hiring process.  Alumni connections can be very strong.

Nobody at SKBW attended Indiana Tech Law School, and this illustrates why attending ITLS is an extremely risky proposition: there is no existing alumni network to rely upon, anywhere.  There are no grads from ITLS working as lawyers, managing law firms, or in any other positions to help ITLS students get their foot in the door.  How on earth are they going to get their resumes in front of the people who matter at law firms, corporate legal offices, or government departments?  Those kinds of alumni networks take decades to build.

How should this influence law school applicants?  Well, if you’re applying for entry later in 2014, take a look at your background.  Got any lawyers – any powerful lawyers – in the family tree?  If so, great – you probably already know that you have a job lined up for you when you graduate.  If not, take a look at where you’re thinking of attending law school.  Are you planning on attending a school out of state, then moving back once you graduate?  If so, your chances of finding a job are greatly diminished because you won’t have the local connections that might get your foot in the door.

Take a look at some small and medium-sized law firms in your own region.  The connections will look remarkably similar - family, education, or connections which aren't immediately apparent (e.g. relative is a major client of the firm).  You need far more than the magic top 10% grades to get a job.

Don’t think for one second that law school is a level playing field where everyone starts at the same point.  Not even close.  It’s stacked.  If you don’t have connections going into law school, you’re already well behind and you’ll most likely never catch up.  Your performance in law school will never outweigh connections.  The kid who graduates in the bottom 10% of the class will be hired through preexisting connections long before your “top 10% and law review” resume gets crumpled up by the hiring partner.

Which brings me to my second point: networking.  The charlatans who inhabit the average law school career services office love to tell students to network.  Network, network, network - how I wish I could get paid a law school administrator salary for spending a couple of hours a week telling kids that they need to network.  That’s how jobs are found.  In a sense, they’re absolutely correct – jobs are found through networking.  But it’s more complicated than that.  Jobs are found through networks that already exist prior to attending law school.  Family networks, like having parents or aunts and uncles employed by a law firm.  Having a family member who is a major client of a law firm.  Attending the same undergrad as the lawyers in the firm.  Those are the kinds of connections that matter, not the feeble connections made by awkwardly sipping a glass of wine while talking to a senile old judge with a pee stain on his trousers at a law school event, and not the connections made by setting up “informational interviews” (a/k/a "begging for a job") with lawyers who really don't want to talk to you.

You should know, going into law school, what your connections look like.  If you’ve got them, by all means attend law school (abiding by the usual rules – don’t pay full price ever, don’t attend lower-tier law schools, never attend an unaccredited law school etc.)  But if you’re applying to law school now and you can’t think of the connections that will get you your first job, then think long and hard about whether you should attend at all.  Because even if you’re in the top 10%, you don’t stand a chance against the dumbest student at the school who happens to have connections.  You’ve lost the game before the dice have even been rolled.

97 comments:

  1. Connections trump hard work, especially for the good jobs. Why else would you see classmates at graduation you never saw once in your entire three years in law school? Notice how these guys and girls usually have a judge parent or other high post. The game is over before it even begins. When you toss in an additional $125K-$190K in non-dischargeable debt, you have a personal disaster.

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    1. Absolutely. We all kinda knew who the top 10% of the class were when I went to law school. It's no secret that this particular group were on law review and got all the on-campus interview slots. But they didn't necessarily get the jobs. After graduation, I'd often see or read about who actually did get the jobs in the firms or the agencies. And guess what? They were the kids who flew under the radar throughout law school, and you start to piece together the jigsaw a little. This kid's father is a bankruptcy judge, this kid's mother worked for the same firm but under her maiden name, this other kid's dad is an AUSA in a neighboring district etc.

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    2. I'm the poster boy for that: top 10% (and not just barely) every semester, law review, federal clerkship, published scholarship—but hardly any on-campus interviews and certainly no job. In the middle of my sixth semester, the dean urged me to give up on becoming a lawyer, as my age would keep me out of jobs (which is plainly the case).

      Meanwhile, all the mediocre—or downright lousy—little rich kids got jobs in the most exalted firms and other institutions.

      It was indeed all over before it began. I never had a snowball's chance in hell. The legal "profession" is a hereditary aristocracy.

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    3. 11:37, me too. I checked all the right boxes (Top 10%, LR, published note) and struck out when it came to job time.

      That kept me in school longer than it should have done too. If somebody had told me the fucking reality that the top 10% getting multiple offers is an outright lie, I would have left after striking out in my fall semester of 2L. But the associate dean of career services told me FLAT FUCKING OUT that I would have no trouble getting a job so I stuck with it.

      And FYI I'm not a bad interviewer or ugly or a dick. I've never had problems interviewing before. I interview very well. I have a good CV and it was utterly shocking to me that I left law school with no god damn job. This is a mid tier 1 school too.

      Yes and it's true that you see these academic fuck ups who were borderline incompetent in class and who never did shit during law school getting nice jobs. It makes you wonder what the fuck is going on. Then later you realize that oh, the game was rigged and those fuck ups were fuck ups because they knew they had a job no matter what.

      Absolutely agree that the legal profession is a hereditary aristocracy. The way firms are set up, they are like conglomerations of independent law practices sharing an office. Portable business is exactly that. It's also hereditary business. Children and other annointed young attorneys step into practices. They don't build them. THink about it. There are no worthwhile sources of legal work that aren't already accounted for. You think that when big partner leaves the firm that the clients will stick around and become your clients? Fuck no. The clients are bundled off to some attorney relative of someone far more important.

      And forget trying to build business by marketing to corporations. Business is not given out on the merits of your ability as a lawyer. It is given out based on who the guy at the corporation knows or is related to.

      That's what angers me the most. I could be the most brilliant lawyer ever and still not stand a chance at succeeding because I don't have the connections. God knows how many smart kids think that ending in the top 10% of their law school class means they'll be set for life. No fuckos, your class rank means nothing.

      I CANNOT BELIEVE ANYONE IS STILL APPLYING TO LAW SCHOOL!!!!!

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    4. Anon @ 11:37 AM,
      How old were you when you graduated LS? I faced a similar problem in that I graduated at the hoary age of 35. I didn't do nearly as well as you (top 30%, yeah baby!) No law firm exhibited the slightest interest in me. Law firms did wind up hiring about 60% of my fellow students, most of whom were at least 5 years younger than me.
      I had a pretty good engineering undergrad and passed the patent bar so I thought I SHOULD have gotten a job. Alas, it was not to be. No one told me that law firms are not interested in people over the age of 30 and now it's way too late for me to be one. But it was a very expensive lesson and I hope at least one or two older Lemmings who are reading this take heed.
      I am not sure older Lemmings really grasp how foolish it is to go to law school if they will graduate after the age of, say, 33. Unless you can bring significant business to a firm, they will not be interested in you no matter how good your grades or achievements.

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    5. 11:37, 12:12, 12:14, right back at ya. I always say that my handle at OTLSS is "dupednontraditional" for a reason.

      You guys had better stats than me, but the overall truth is that all the "meritocracy" markers, like grades, prior degrees, life experience, etc. mean absolute dick. I had engineering graduate degrees, work experience, JD, etc. etc. etc. and No One Cared, patent or otherwise. Graduating at 35 years old was an absolute killer - I might as well have been downsized out of my old job, for all the "leverage" my JD gave me. Results would have been exactly the same, but with less debt.

      But the ScamDeans will lie to you and peddle the snake oil. In their "defense", they are (willfully?) ignorant and come from upper-crust circumstances generally, so they never ran into the obstacles that Joe average law student runs into. Their life experience showed them that a little hard work (and sweet connections) vaults them to the top; so isn't it true for everybody...? Oh I'm sorry....you don't have a trust fund...? Oh...

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    6. I graduated at age 44. Élite law school, one of the top few students in the class, law review, published legal scholarship, federal clerkship, appellate clerkship during law school, teaching assistantship, twenty-odd years of varied experience including IT and business management, proficiency in several important languages… Yet I got only a handful of interviews despite well over a hundred applications. In many of the few interviews that I did get, I was (illegally) asked outright for my age.

      Lately there have been some complaints about the use of the word lemming at this site. Well, I'll say it now: I'm a goddamn lemming. I drank the poisoned Kool-Aid.

      I often ask myself how I could have known better than to go to law school. Obviously I did not know enough when I applied.

      In the very first week of law school, a classmate dismissed the need to study: as he put it, everyone would get at least a B–, and that combined with the law school's name would be good enough for a great job. And he did get a great job with his B–. With top grades, however, I was rejected out of hand.

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    7. I see no reason why law firms can't be family businesses. I also don't see a reason why this fact should not be trumpeted from the damn rooftops on every college campus. Law Family = Law Job. Otherwise, stay the hell out.

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    8. I got my job in mid-law (40-man firm) in the 80's strictly by being friendly to people who ended up partners in the firm. My starting pay at the time wasn't bad either, about 45K my first year and up from there. I eventually left and went solo. But I find it hard to believe it does not work the same way now. People want to work with other people they know and like being around who they think will do a good job. I came in with a good attitude and a good work ethic and did a decent job. I can't believe that things don't work pretty much the same way today. If your good friend from 3L lands a job with a decent sized firm, are you telling me that friendship will not help you get a job with that firm when you graduate? Hard for me to believe.

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    9. 12:54, my experience mirrors yours. Even if the firms don't ask your age directly, when you're about the same age as some of the guys or gals interviewing you, it's obvious. Asking your age outright - that's ballsy, but it happens. I've had some awful interview questions in my time, ranging from outright questions about how many kids I have, all the way through what church I go to. (None, by the way.)

      I guess the lawyers know the rules of the game. They know that the students are so desperate for jobs that they'll submit to all kinds of questionable things willingly.

      You're absolutely on the money about age discrimination. I'm sure someone will chime in with "maybe you just interview badly" or something like that, and if you were an isolated incident of age discrimination, that would be a fair conclusion. But we've all seen it time and time and time and time again - age matters! So many highly-qualified law grads with lots of relevant experience are simply passed over because they are "too old".

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    10. 2:35, being on friendly terms with partners in a law firm certainly helps get your foot in the door, and that's as true in the 1980s as it is today. But even that's a connection which most law students don't have. I know people who went through their entire law school career without ever speaking to a real lawyer.

      If you have the friendship with a partner at a law firm before you apply, then go for it (provided the conversation about "do you have a job for me?" has already been had, and the answer is "absolutely.") But if it's just a casual acquaintance, forget it. With the scarcity of new law jobs these days, spending $150,000 on the hope that a job will materialize through such a tenuous connection is madness.

      Much of what happened in the 1980s is still true today. But the problem now is that law school costs ten times as much, there were nowhere near as many law graduates, and consequently the stakes for law school applicants today compared to those grads in the 1980s are raised by an enormous factor. (This is one of the reasons Con Law was written - to address the very fact that so much law school admissions advice is so hopelessly out of date, and those giving said advice also so out of date, that at this point that it's dangerous - that's another story though.)

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    11. Just today I settled a dispute over illegal discriminatory questions (most notably about age) that were asked during an interview. I got a few pennies in settlement. But I still have no job, nor any real prospects of finding one.

      I certainly did not have connections to lawyers, let alone partners to law firms, when I applied to law school. I must have been well into my twenties when I first met a lawyer. The idea that I could tap my "network" for a job is risible.

      Entry-level jobs at law firms are not obtained after graduation; they are had during law school or not at all.

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    12. Imagining The Open ToadMay 1, 2014 at 10:33 AM

      (I've mentioned this before, so apologies to anyone irritated by the retread)

      Dear 11:37, 12:12, 12:14, 12:35 (DNT), and 12:54, you really ought to check Cooper's old website at, "www.nontradlaw.net".

      Tell your stories there. There exists there a target audience (all older folks considering a return to school, LS in particular) that really, really needs to hear what you have to say.

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  2. Typically the endowment has to be about 20 times the amount paid out every year. So that endowment will generate a "scholar"ship worth a thousand and change. Not much next to the cost of attending Indiana Tech Skule of Law and Manicures.

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    1. Thanks for that calculation. I was wondering how much a $25K gift would end up producing in terms of scholarship money per year. Not a great deal, and nowhere near what it should be to entice the top student to stay at the school and not transfer out or quit.

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    2. An endowed scholarship ordinarily pays out only the income, without touching the principal. At a 5% return (no mean feat these days on an investment for which preservation of capital is important), that's 1/20 of the amount of the endowment.

      Indiana Tech Law Skule estimates the cost of a year's attendance at $48,160. Covering that amount with an endowed "scholar"ship would require an initial cash donation of roughly a million dollars. Covering all three years would require about $3 million per "scholar".

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    3. Small scholarships like that are awarded all the time, and they were never intended to make much of a dent in tuition costs. They function mostly as a form of resume candy.

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    4. True. I meant only to point out that it's a tiny sum.

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    5. That it is. Point well taken.

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  3. The OP is quite right. The main network you have to rely on for getting a job was establsihed before you went to law school. And this is why where you go to law school is the most important decision you will make. If you don't get into a top ten school, then pick the place before you pick the law school.

    Career counselors often tell law students to network with each other which is like getting very anemic people to give each other blood transfusions

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    1. The main network that you have to rely on for getting a job was established before you were even conceived.

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  4. Connections -- rare and unreliable. You can't count on them.

    Networking -- a total waste of time, unless you're already established.

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    1. Absolutely. The fact that someone has connections does not mean that those connections will lead to a job. A lot can happen in the three years between 0L and law school graduation. A law firm will not create a position just to hand to a relative of a partner if the need for the position is not there to begin with (unless it's a more powerful partner who can essentially bankroll the position with the goal of handing off his or her practice to the next generation.)

      And networking - agreed, a waste of time. It's a way for career services to push the blame for not being employed onto the students. Getting an evening position as a server or delivery driver and putting that money into student loan reduction is a far more productive use of your time. Attending mixers at law schools and bar meetings is hopeless, and nothing is more pathetic than a law student (not the most socially adept creatures at the best of times) trying to turn a conversation into a sales pitch for why they should be hired.

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  5. Sooooo true Charles. I entered law school thinking that because I worked for a major corporation and knew patent lawyers that it would help me. It didn't, so I realized that I had to get known within the local IP community.

    I attended networking event after networking event during law school, hobnobbing with local attorneys and other law students. These events are terrible for law students without connections. You may know the other law students but you sure as hell don't know the partners and senior associates who attend these events. It was very obvious who the most desperate law students were. They were the ones who asked attorneys about their opinion on the latest in Federal Circuit case law. No one gives a shit about that! Talk about why Daley gave away the parking meters to a company in Dubai.

    The smell of fear was palpable. Take a bunch of introverts with no social skills and no saleable talents desperate for a job and trying to follow the advice of career services, ply them with liquor and stand back and watch the carnage. Watching law students network with each other is very amusing.
    And you can't just bring the conversation around to why you're there (i.e., I want you to hire me). I found plenty of the local patent attorneys very friendly discussing things like baseball, engineering, etc. But the second you start getting into who you are (i.e., employment status), they become a bit wary and guarded.

    Lawyers at law firms want someone who is going to bring money to the firm. If you are a son or daughter of a CEO at a major corporation, it doesn't matter what the hell your law school grades are because you have influence over where Daddy sends his company work. If you are a Toileteer with law review or moot court and great grades, who cares? Biglaw can recruit a T6 associate in a second.

    Charles, you are right. If you are attending a Toilet now (and 95% of you are) realize that you and most of the suckers around you are at the plate swinging at 200 mph fastballs while the other 5% is on third and rounding for home plate. The game is rigged and you are the sucker.


    P.S. I love the advice Scammers give on getting something published, as thought that makes a difference. Yes, Partner Biglaw is going to read my article on the ramifications of the latest Federal circuit opinion on obviousness double patenting rejections. Then he's going to give me a call and beg me to work for him for $180,000.
    Wrong. When you consider the hours you spend on a useless piece of trash like a law review article that no one reads, your time would be much better spend working at the Home Depot for $11/hour. Now I'm not saying that you shouldn't try to get your name out there. Maybe write a short article in your local bar association.

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    1. Exactly. As a middle-aged hayseed, I plainly have no connections down at the yacht club. (I don't even know where the yacht club is.) That's why I am passed over. But the dumb child of Daddy Warbucks is eagerly snapped up.

      I have published scholarship in law reviews. It doesn't do me a goddamn bit of good.

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    2. 180, all the way. Lemmings, pay heed.

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    3. Exactly, 9:53. For those who insist on networking, here's the key: don't talk about law, and don't talk about law school. Nobody cares.

      I think there's probably a few lawyers out there who would hire the guy who gets trashed on the free wine, talks sports, and looks like someone they'd like to hang out with after work.

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  6. A lesser, but still serious problem is being hired in addition to someone who is well connected.

    The connected associates at your law firm will probably spend long days on the golf course or wherever the rich hang out these days while you spend long nights in the office. The scions of the partners might not be good lawyers in their own right, but that problem can be solved by your willingness to work hard. The relationship might even be symbiotic, they receive the credit and you? you do the work.

    Of course many are hired as associates but few can be partners. So your time in a law career might be short if there are associates who's father has their name on the door, or a rich kid who was in the same frat as a partner.

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    1. 1:37, absolutely right. Your last paragraph sums things up rather nicely. Blood is thicker than water.

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    2. Perks. Like when your spouse / significant other becomes Dean and then you get hired.

      Yale: Reva Siegel & Robert Post
      Stanford: M. Elizabeth Magill & husband Leon Szeptycki
      Harvard: Martha Minow & husband Joseph William Singer
      Columbia: David Schizer - who didn't hire his wife. Way to go, Dean Schizer
      UC Berkeley Boalt Hall: Gillian Lester & husband Eric Talley

      Pick a law school at random. It's not just Chemerinsky who hired his significant other. Very common practice. Can you imagine another industry in which people go, "well, since you're moving 25 miles to take this job, how about we hire your love interest?"

      I'm sure they'd all defend the practice. Quite sure. American higher education is a big, fat welfare queen. Welfare looks a little better at the top, eh?

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    3. The worst part about corporate welfare for deans' spouses is that these are not the underprivileged. They have advanced degrees and a spouse making a 6-figure income. Yet, they apparently are unable to find jobs on their own -- in Boston or San Jose, no less.

      Why do taxpayers need to give these people jobs? Why can't they hang their own flipping shingle?

      This is the entrepreneurial spirit of those who teach law. These spouses have everything they need to take a chance and start their own business -- health insurance, a spouse's income to fall back on, connections -- and they choose to take the safe, useless road. They create nothing, just take from taxpayers.

      These are the people teaching the next generation the "business" of law -- useless spouses who know they'd never make it in business and don't like any risk, and so just take a make-work taxpayer-funded position.

      These spouses should all be ashamed. The very fact they took such a job says something huge about their creativity, integrity, and initiative, namely that they have none of those things.

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    4. At my lol skewl, the Dean's spouse was installed as head of the Career Services Office at the time. Talk about the blind leading the blind - sure, she had "left" a sweet gig in order to work at the skewl, but her advice...? The good old, reliable, Joan-Kingian catch-all..."network."

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    5. I believe Nancy Leong's husband Jystin Pidot works at the same school as her. The question is, was she hired because if him, or was he hired because of her?

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    6. A professor and I once counted eight husband-and-wife or parent-and-child pairs that taught at my relatively small law school.

      The extent of the nepotism is astounding. A responsible institution would absolutely bar the hiring of a near relative. But this is hackademia, a private rip-off tricked out in the caps and gowns of Education and Higher Pursuits.

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    7. I think Justin had too much practice experience to be considered a really hot prospect, although he's considered adequate by academic standards. Nancy, on the other hand, was obviously on the professor track since early childhood. I'm absolutely certain that she is the reason for Denver hiring them together.

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    8. They are academics, not practitioners, why doesn't any one of the spousal pairs use the same last name? Not even a hyphenated hint among them that they are married.

      A recently retired Academic Dean at my law school had his wife as his secretary for a decade or more. She left when he retired. I really want to know how much money she was making.

      The next Dean hired his wife as a professor.

      Then there are the Deans of Marketing or whatever...so many, many deans, and I wouldn't be surprised if that dean had hired his niece to be Czar of Parking, or to self-publish some proprietary rankings...I mean, why not? It's free money and lots of it.

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  7. Connections in America is similar to royalty in other countries. If you are not of the bloodline, expect a difficult, if not impossible, time because anything good will be reserved for the beautiful people. You might be able to marry into it if you're very lucky. You might be able to buy your way into it, provided you have enough money. But being born into it is the best way. Of course, there are always the ones who start off life on third base and yet still fuck it up.

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  8. Among the 30-odd Indiana Tech students, there may well be another relative of those at Shambaugh, Kast, Beck and Williams, LLP, or their clients. Maybe a son's fiancé, or a client's nephew. This might make them eager to support the school.

    This is great for Shambaugh, Kast, Beck and Williams, LLP, but irrelevant to the rest of the students. Good for the firm for funding a scholarship. However, if you aren't someone's nephew of fiancé, even a $25,000 scholarship isn't going to make up for long-term unemployment and six-figure debt.

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    1. Good point. Why else would this firm support this "school" when it seems to be partial to grads of Indiana Law? You could be on to something.

      Two further points. First, it's obvious who this "scholarship" will be awarded to. Second, it's obvious which of the students will be hired by this firm.

      BTW, does anybody know any insider scoop on how admissions for this year are coming along at ITLS?

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    2. The actual number of students, if I may so flatter them, who matriculated at Indiana Tech Law School last year is 28, according to the skule's 509 report. Of the 69 who applied, 51 received offers of admission. I'm actually astounded that this toilet turned 18 people away; I had expected it to admit damn near everyone.

      At the skule's Web site, a student named David Felts, bedight with a tie in Indiana Tech's ugly orange-yellow and a matching lapel pin (could it be the one awarded at that dumb ceremony last autumn?), says: "If the current Circuit Court Judge for Allen County recommends a certain law school, it is definitely a school to consider and attend." On what basis, exactly, does that judge recommend "a certain law school" that opened less than a year ago and thus has no track record at all? (I assume here that "a certain law school" actually does refer to Indiana Tech and is not a cagey reference, say, to Harvard.) And does Mr Felts really believe that the recommendation of one judge constitutes sufficient grounds for deciding to attend a law school? One might have hoped for sounder reasoning from a student on the dean's honor list (which comprises 25% of the students even though the requirement is to score in the top 20% of the class). Then again, this is Indiana Tech.

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    3. The $25k donation is meant primarily for publicity, to give the appearance that this firm is powerful and dedicated to the community. It's deductible, too.

      For what it's worth, not one of the students who made the dean's honor list after the first semester is named Shambaugh, Kast, Beck, or Williams.

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    4. Imagining The Open ToadMay 1, 2014 at 10:45 AM

      "Why else would this firm support this "school" when it seems to be partial to grads of Indiana Law?"

      The simplest reason (not necessarily correct, though) is that since this is a new LS co-located in FTW with them, this gesture gives them nice advertising in the local community.

      I would be surprised if they don't make up the cost of this gift in additional business.

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    5. At 9:20: The David Felts quoted just so happens to be the son of the Hon. Thomas Felts, the same Circuit Court Judge for Allen County upon whose recommendation he relied when choosing where to pursue his legal education. We can all sleep better knowing that Mr. Felts assuredly has a successful legal career awaiting him upon graduation, completely notwithstanding the fact that papa just happens to be a judge.

      See how it works? An Indiana Tech success story right out the gate!

      Delete
    6. Thanks, 11:42, for tracking down the fact that this contemptible shill was quoting DADDY'S recommendation of the local Johnny-come-lately toilet law skule. He had the unmitigated gall to hide behind "the current Circuit Court Judge for Allen County" without mentioning his ever-so-coincidental relationship to that worthy. And of course Indiana Tech, also perfectly aware of the connection, eagerly took part in the cover-up.

      How goddamn contemptible! I should write a letter to the ABA. Not that they'd do anything, of course. But maybe a future litigant will invoke this deception as evidence of Indiana Tech's seediness and lack of integrity.

      Delete
    7. On the Felts thing - maybe OTLSSTeam@gmail.com should send Dean Alexander an open request to either have that taken down or to list the obvious conflict/connection?

      Delete
    8. Not before saving a copy of the incriminating evidence.

      Delete
    9. Well, coming from the "other side" (i.e. the ones fucking relying on these "lawyers"), I am not surprised at all that with the Felts connection. You are hard pressed to find a decent attorney in Fort Wayne (particularly family law) that is not connected to someone and cannot do their job with balanced justice. They charge their clients to make sweetheart deals in-between their acting in the courtroom. The judges (including Felts and his magistrates) base their decisions on how pretty or well-liked the attorney is. If you have an ugly or disliked attorney (and how the hell would you know this as a client?), they immediately treat the client disrespectfully. The whole field is unethical and severely damaged. No one actually going into law for moral reasons or for the greater good could ever survive this hell. You would have to be bred for it by the devil him/herself.

      Delete
  9. Sorry to go off topic, but I couldn't pass this up.

    From today's New York Law Journal: "Albany Law Wagers on Racing and Gambling Concentration."

    From the article:
    "Starting this fall, the school will offer specialized courses at its newly-created Saratoga Institute for Equine, Racing and Gambling Law."

    As someone once said, you can't make this shit up.

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    1. Law and gambling? What next: law and prostitution?

      Maybe they call it the Institute for Equine Law because it is run by a horse's patooty.

      Delete
    2. Imagining The Open ToadMay 1, 2014 at 10:45 AM

      I heard the jockeys are all small dolphins.

      Delete
    3. SUICIDE!!! Teach them that shit and they will soon see that enrolling at Albany was a sucker's bet. No classes in that topic until the tuition check for second semester third year has cleared.

      Delete
    4. Sure, law and prostitution! Why not?

      Stir up some post-modern rhetoric, dubious analysis of racial capitalism, fictitious narratives of repression and resistance, and voila! You have a hot new academic specialty. Then you need to hire new people intensively trained in the new specialty. No room for yesterday's gimmicks, like global leadership or climate law. And by all means exclude anyone with practice experience in a firm, They never had time to develop the inner fantasy world necessary to succeed as a law professor.

      Then some sleazy mentor at a Top 10 school can brag about placing another "brilliant" student at some sinking barge of a Tier 2 diploma mill. Forget that 50% or more of the class mortgaged their lives for useless degrees to make it all possible. After all, we're not a trade school!

      Delete
  10. Anon: " If your good friend from 3L lands a job with a decent sized firm, are you telling me that friendship will not help you get a job with that firm when you graduate? Hard for me to believe."

    Do you really not realize that junior associates don't make or even influence hiring decisions?

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    Replies
    1. In smaller law firms, like this 40 man law firm, the partners and the associates were pretty much all regular guys and socialized together, played ball together, went out to eat together. You really think that the partners will ignore what associates have to say about who might be a good prospect? The partners at these firms are not much older than the associates anyway, for the most part.

      Delete
  11. Imagining The Open ToadMay 1, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    Charles, I agree with your main points (connections matter - family, undergrad, LS, etc.). But I want to pick a nit on:

    "....Steve Williams, a name partner... name is shared by two of the more junior lawyers (I’m assuming they are his sons), Benjamin and Nathan Williams. .... the fact that their father is a name partner at the firm had something to do with why they were hired."

    I stumbled on the way you go from assuming they are related based on having a common last name, to stating "the fact that" that they are related.

    That said, do I think they're probably related? Yeah, my guess would be yes. Especially if you note the elder's profile says he's made his home in the Roanoke area for a long time and the younger of the two associates says he grew up in Roanoke. And coupled with the fact that Benjamin and Nathan both share the same unusual double middle initial, "S.J.".

    I think this mainly bothers me from the standpoint that it gives naysayers an easy way to ignore your main points and pick nits. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nit acknowledged.

      I did omit the evidence that the parties are related, including the pieces you highlight and others such as the elder being on the board of trustees at the university where both youngers went to undergrad, in the interests of readability. But you're correct. Footnotes next time.

      Delete
    2. Double middle initial in Fort Wayne? And they don't write their names all in lower case?

      Delete
    3. andre douglas pond scummingMay 1, 2014 at 4:03 PM

      2:00 PM, Bite Your Tongue! No! Non-non-non!

      Surely you should be aware that ONLY someone as elevated as an Associate Dean And Professor Of Law may aspire to such false modesties.

      Delete
    4. Oh, yes, indeed, 3:03. I must have been listening to too much hip-hop.

      Delete
  12. I added a brief comment above, but now I'd like to expand a bit. I'm 40 and been practicing law for a decade at small firms in the suburbs. Based on what I've seen, I've reached the following conclusions regarding the practice and how to get a job.

    First, when a big law firm hires you, they DO NOT CARE what you know or how good you are. They are paying you for (i) where your degree is from, (ii) if you've had a Federal clerkship and/or (iii) if you were on the law review. Nothing else is important.

    The reason for this is so as to impress clients. Notice how legal publications always publish who the new first year associates at big law are? Big law firms want to maintain an image of excellence, so they are seeking out certain key words on the resumes of applicants--which they are sure to highlight next to the new associate's name on fliers and publications. Sadly only 10% of all law school graduates have these buzz words.

    Thus, as a result, there is NO SUCH THING as a "connection" getting you a job at big law, unless of course your daddy is governor of a state. If your qualifications do not match what the clients want to see, you're not getting a job no matter who you know (note: if you're the son of the governor, clients don't care how stupid you are). At best, a well meaning connection may get you an unpaid job in the big law file room, just so that you can put something on your resume other than "waiter."

    Also, preserve your dignity and don't even attempt to network! NOBODY at networking events wants to hear you beg for a job. Only highly accomplished and/or powerful people can actually do something for you, but such highly accomplished people only want to associate with other highly accomplished people. They don't even want to look at a failed law school graduate. If you don't believe me, consider the way senior partners talk to and look down on associates (most of whom will eventually fail, since they typically only last 3-5 years at big law).

    The ONLY place where I can see a connection helping you is in a mid-sized suburban insurance mill (these are stand alone firms of 5-40 lawyers that do either medical malpractice, insurance defense, auto, toxic tort and/or workers compensation), but these jobs pay only $45K to $50K starting (and you're unlikely to ever make over $80K).

    The reason connections work in these firms is because their associate pool is there just to push paper. These firms essentially hide associates in the basements and just hire them so as to charge $150 per hour of billable work, rather than the $60 per hour a paralegal would charge. There is no need to impress the client, since the client is for all intents and purposes an insurance company, which is just looking for low-cost legal work to manage their throw-away/ambulance chaser cases (their real and complex cases are sent to big law).

    So if your mommy knows a partner at an insurance mill, what does he care if he hires you? You're just another cog in the paper-pushing wheel who will never be presented to the clients. As my former boss once put it, "we pay crap wages, so we get crap associates." (YES, it isn't just big law where partners are abusive)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I agree with what you said about big law. One other area where connections help is non federal government jobs. I work a state government job and most of the people in my office had some connection when the were hired

      Delete
    2. Well, 11:17, the fact is that there is a correlation between high intelligence and getting admitted to higher-tier colleges, law schools, etc. Granted, not every T3 graduate pans out as a lawyer, just as not every all-state high school quarterback can hack it at the BCS level, but as Pete Rose once said, that's the way to bet.

      Delete
    3. There's a correlation between admission to prestigious law school's and Daddy's income.

      Delete
    4. Point was that connections are rare, and those who think they have them usually don't.

      Delete
  13. Thus, as a result, there is NO SUCH THING as a "connection" getting you a job at big law, unless of course your daddy is governor of a state. If your qualifications do not match what the clients want to see, you're not getting a job no matter who you know (note: if you're the son of the governor, clients don't care how stupid you are). At best, a well meaning connection may get you an unpaid job in the big law file room, just so that you can put something on your resume other than "waiter."

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Wrong. Completely wrong.

    And I can prove it although I won't post that here because doing so might out my school or myself.

    As far as the bio, lol! They simply omit anything about honors in the case of the connected kid not having any. It's assumed they did at many of these places because at many of the largest firms, all you see on an Associate's bio page is JD [name of school] and the same for undergrad.

    I know plenty of connected kids, without the grades, without law review, etc. who made it. The bio can easily be handled. And, in fact, those are the ones who are able to stick around in law long-term and are, in fact, showcased by their schools as Success Stories when the fact of the matter is they were handed everything in life on a silver platter.

    The earlier posts nailed it. Breeze through classes, barely study, show up for a token appearance at graduation. Get cushy first job which leads to better second job, etc. And at that point, whether they had the grades or smarts doesn't matter because law is so completely linear. The key experience of that choice first job, which they unfairly got over other competitors, is what allows them the right jumps throughout their career. And the protection of Godfathers and Godmothers.

    In sum, earlier posts: Dead on.
    You: In Outer Space. Wrong. Dead wrong.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Another thing. You're saying everyone else above is wrong. All their stories. Well, no.. According to you, they're wrong. No such thing as "connections".

      That just looks stupid. You're contradicting people's first-hand accounts based on your opinion.

      Like I said, wrong.

      Law is all about connections. The last sentences sum everything up quite well: Because even if you’re in the top 10%, you don’t stand a chance against the dumbest student at the school who happens to have connections. You’ve lost the game before the dice have even been rolled.

      As far as these kids and their bios, like I said, that first job is just a stepping stone. They're not planning on being there for life. Second, if Biglaw partners can't work around an Associate's otherwise inferior bio, one they want in to the firm, I find it amazing that they can scam clients for hundreds to millions of dollars in billing year after year. Yet, somehow, OH NOES! A bio! WE CAN'T HANDLE THAT!!

      Delete
    2. Imagining The Open ToadMay 1, 2014 at 9:07 PM

      7:09, I think you're responding to the wrong guy. Immediately above's post quoted a portion from another then refuted it.

      Delete
    3. Both comments were me. I added to my first one.

      Delete
    4. Imagining The Open ToadMay 2, 2014 at 8:41 AM

      Ah, thanks 4:58. I probably should have been able to figure that out.

      Delete
    5. The lack of academic accomplishment on a bio might be a problem, but it is by no means an insurmountable one. A scion of a partner might be accomplished in crew or lacrosse or some other sport that could pad out a biography. But even failing that, there are ways to make a connected person look meritorious.

      I must remind you that the connections that people are talking about here were not forged by a no-name third year law student begging for a job from a small law firm associate at a lame mixer. That is being called networking here.

      What are being called connections is the strong, long term relationships to people with money and clout. The first key word is long term, so the student will preferably know people before they ever send in an application to any undergraduate college. They have 7 years to get help padding their resume before becoming a first year biglaw associate. The second key word is clout, they will know people who can feed them prestigious sounding internships. Maybe not their parents mind you, but their parents' friends' might help in return for getting help for their own children.

      Seven summers of working for partners, judges, the office of the governor, in Washington, etc. will make anyone's bio shine, even if they were somewhat dim in law school and weren't part of the top 10% moot court law review crowd.

      Delete
  14. I think we're all missing the point that this is a 25k endowment, not a 25k per year scholarship. So the net result of this is at most a 3k a year 'scholarship', which will barely make a dent in the disastrous debt balance this poor victim law student will be carrying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. er read the comments dude this was pointed out in the second comment posted on the 30th but thanks for actually bothering to read the discussion before commenting!

      Delete
  15. Another interesting connection - Robert Wagner, an attorney at Shambaugh Kast, was a participant in the feasibility study that concluded Indiana Tech needed a law school. The firm's connections to this awful law school run deep.

    Makes one wonder what other bad, shady advice Robert Wagner is providing. Or at the very least, why.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As funny as this may seem, the elites in Ft Wayne wanted this lol skewl badly. Bloomington and Indy have IU campuses, and South Bend has Notre Dame. Yet here was FW all alone without its own law school. The good burgers said to themselves, "Why can't we have a law school. We'll be as good as those other places!"

      This school basically exists because of a Springfield v. Shelbyville rivalry.

      Delete
    2. He was also chairman of the board of trustees at Indiana Tech. I wonder how much business his firm received from Indiana Tech, specifically the development/construction/HR etc for the new law school? I bet the firm made out like bandits.

      Delete
    3. There's a comment below about people joking 'Good! More free interns!'.

      Having 100 students dumped (and I mean 'dumped') into the local young lawyer job market has got to be sweet. Many will be suckered into working for several months for free, to 'gain experience'.

      Delete
    4. Would you really want people of Indiana Tech calibre to work for you as lawyers, even unpaid? I certainly wouldn't.

      Delete
    5. I'm assuming low-level grunt work. Doc review, but without that oppressive $20-$30/hr cost.

      Delete
  16. O.K., folks, I am as loyal a scamblogger as anyone else but some of this is getting a bit too whiny for my taste. Life is about connections. Is that unfair? Maybe, but this is not an issue isolated to the legal profession. If a man owns a grocery store do we all resent him bringing his son into the business? If a sales rep who sells construction materials hires the college student daughter of a big contractor as a secretary for the summer to cover when his office staff are taking their vacations is that a bad thing? Granted, some uses of connections are more unfair than others. If your father carries a card in the electricians' union your chances of getting one are better than some schlep on the street. Passing out taxpayer funded jobs to friends and friends of friends is also bad, but that's how most of them get passed out.

    I graduated from a T20-25 in the mid eighties. Most of us got jobs without connections but there were those who had them, too. There were also children of biglaw partners in firms with anti-nepotism rules. I think the issue has become more pronounced in the present day because there are so many fewer jobs that the "connection" jobs really stand out. And while I can see how this would be particularly frustrating to non-trads, in all candor non-trad was not a particularly good idea thirty years ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are correct, and this is understandable. If you are an employer with an open job position, and you have hundreds of applicants, what are you going to do? Comb through every one of those applications and try to get to know each applicant thoroughly so that you can compare them all objectively to each other (still realizing you can never really know a stranger well until you spend 40+ hours a week with them in the office)? Or hire a friend or relative whom you know will do a competent job and will get along well with everyone? It's just human nature. We all want to help people that we know and like/love. There is this myth that our society is a meritocracy and that just working hard will guarantee success. It won't (although of course it is a pre requisite unless one is born on third base). Like so many social myths this ignores the reality of human nature.

      Again, the nepotism factor may or may not be a bad thing, depending on your point of view. It is, however, reality--and all prospective law students should understand this.

      Delete
    2. Exactly. The issue is that law schools play hide-the-ball (shocker!) and tell half-truths in order to get lemmings to sign up. If they were actually upfront about how it all works, then the market would correct and the scamblogs would probably dial down the message.

      As it stands, that sweet, sweet federal loan money is apparently impossible to resist, as historic brownstones and convention/junkets don't pay for themselves. Thus the scamblogs keep trying to warn the next class of marks about how it really is.

      Delete
    3. 4:34, I think you're missing the point. Life, as you correctly state, is all about connections. But many people apply to law school thinking that if they get good grades, they'll compete on a level playing field for jobs. And the myth of "get in the top 10% and on LR/MC and you'll have biglaw begging for your services" is still rampant.

      The point of the post was to explain that law school is not the great equalizer. It's not a chance to break through into the elite class through hard work. It's just an expensive way, for many students, to fall once again into another carefully-set trap.

      On another point, if you're basing your observations on the fact that you graduated in the 1980s, then I caution that your information about the problems with legal education today may well be grossly outdated. The struggles faced by law students today are vastly different from those of a generation ago. You say that many of you, thirty years ago, had no problem obtaining good jobs without connections. That's absolutely fine, but in no way relevant to the fact that jobs today are far fewer, law grads far more plentiful, and the costs of law school many times greater than back in your day. The odds of obtaining a good law job today are slender compared to the 1980s, and the risks of failing to find a good law job are far greater.

      Delete
    4. "O.K., folks, I am as loyal a scamblogger as anyone else but some of this is getting a bit too whiny for my taste. Life is about connections. Is that unfair? Maybe, but this is not an issue isolated to the legal profession. If a man owns a grocery store do we all resent him bringing his son into the business? If a sales rep who sells construction materials hires the college student daughter of a big contractor as a secretary for the summer to cover when his office staff are taking their vacations is that a bad thing? Granted, some uses of connections are more unfair than others. If your father carries a card in the electricians' union your chances of getting one are better than some schlep on the street. Passing out taxpayer funded jobs to friends and friends of friends is also bad, but that's how most of them get passed out."

      The whole point of the original post was that many people don't realize just how powerfully law is dominated by this. That the 'top 10%' (or 20%) is not due to performance, but connections.

      Really, re-read the post, with your reading comprehension turned 'on'.

      "I graduated from a T20-25 in the mid eighties."

      One of the major themes of the law school truth/scamblogging movement is that It's Not the Good Old Days.

      Delete
    5. As a graduate from the 1980's. a financially successful one at that, it should be known that this profession is filled with Narcissists and ethically dubious people. Even though I have done very well, I am not sure I would go into this profession again.

      Delete
    6. Everyone knows that the Mom-and-Pop grocery store is likely to go on to Baby. And while the hiring of a client's daughter as a secretary for the summer is ethically questionable, it is a relatively minor issue.

      In the legal "profession", however, people without don't lose out on the odd small-time temporary job; rather, they are iced out of the field altogether. And very few people who contemplate law school are aware of that. Certainly I did not know that excelling in law school would do me no good at all.

      Delete
    7. "And while the hiring of a client's daughter as a secretary for the summer is ethically questionable,"

      Grow the fuck up, already. Have you ever made a weekly payroll with your own money?

      Delete
    8. Yes, I have, as a matter of fact. And are you aware that the sales rep who hires a client's daughter in that way might be violating his own company's policies or those of the client's employer?

      Delete
    9. Leaving aside the fact that sales reps (as opposed to salesmen) and contractors are self-employed and can wipe their asses with any policies they choose, listen to yourself: "Oh my dear goodneth, thothe horrid people have violated thrict policeeth!"

      Welcome to the real world.

      Delete
    10. 4:34 here. Charles and Barry: Read my post again, especially where I wrote:

      "I think the issue has become more pronounced in the present day because there are so many fewer jobs that the "connection" jobs really stand out."

      I am fully aware of the differences between the 1980's and today. One difference is that we did not get all pissy about the people who got jobs through connections because there were jobs aplenty for those of us who had no connections. As merit hiring jobs declined the connection jobs stayed more constant which has, evidently, led to some serious bitterness.

      But as has been said by others here, the real problem is the law schools misrepresenting job prospects for the non-connected. That, however, is the fault of the law schools, not the people with connections. The latter have always been there and always will be, in any field of human endeavor. My point, therefore, was and remains that whining about how unfair it is that the rich kid got a job adds nothing to the discussion.

      Delete
    11. "I am fully aware of the differences between the 1980's and today. One difference is that we did not get all pissy about the people who got jobs through connections because there were jobs aplenty for those of us who had no connections. As merit hiring jobs declined the connection jobs stayed more constant which has, evidently, led to some serious bitterness."

      People aren't getting pissy; they're pointing out the problem.

      Delete
    12. Barry, if it were just about pointing out a problem words like "Daddy" and "Baby" would not be in play.

      Delete
    13. 8:23: Thank you for saying this...I have found this to be true from my standpoint as the client and I am grateful I did not go into law as I previously planned.

      Delete
  17. Remember the joke about Indiana Tech at the local bar association meeting? "More free interns!" hahaha

    Could that explain why Shambaugh didn't mind kicking in a little money for a scholarship to make the school look halfway legitimate?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And the other joke, "Indiana Tech Law School? There's a good half million in legal fees to be collected from that development."

      I'm sure Robert Wagner and SKambaugh Kast whatever whatever earned more than $25000 in legal fees. Probably ten times that. It was the least they could do, hand back ten percent as a little thank you for the free cash.

      Delete
    2. And probably more went to the Dean, and Trustees.

      Delete
    3. And collect a tax deduction for their "generosity".

      Delete
  18. The whine level of this post is pretty high. Connections matter. Wow. News flash. Have you looked at Anerican history lately? Ever hear of a president named John Quincy Adams, or FDR? Al Gore is the son of a senator. John McCain's wife is a billionaire.

    If the premise of this post is that going to a shitty law school will render any efforts to network meaningless, then I agree with it. But that detracts from the main lesson in life here: don't go to shitty law schools. In fact, don't do anything that looks shitty to other people. This is news?

    Networking has been very important in my career. I had no connections before law school. I had no job lined up when I graduated. Hell, for a few weeks, I was working an $8 an hour job while I shopped my resume around. It was rough going. When I finally landed my first job, I worked hard, was good at practicing law it turns out, and guess what else? I networked. That was the last time in my life I ever got a job the old fashioned way. If I want to make a change now, I don't go on the Internet to review job postings. I pick up the phone.

    ReplyDelete