Monday, November 17, 2014

Memo to Law School Deans - This Beast is of Your Own Making, so Stop Trying to Pawn it Off

UPDATE:  Oops, looks like a lot of this has been covered recently by AdamB.  My 2 cents follows. 

 
"Less Able."
 
With these words, internecine warfare has begun within the Law School Cartel.
 
Not only have there been declining LSAT test-takers and declining application counts for years now, but there have also been declining bar passage rates.  Somebody is to blame for this radical turn of events.  But who?
 
Why, its the stupid NCBE and their stupid "bar exam" of course!  What else could possibly explain the poor performance of students and this strange turn of events?  Stupid test writers, I'll bet they are not even tenured Law Professors!
 
The NCBE, not one to take this lying down, fires back:


 
Dybbuk catalogued the latest decline in median LSAT scores and GPA stats for incoming classes, and the results have been discouraging.  As described, Law Schools have clearly been choosing their preferred method for dealing with declining applications:
 
Strategy Two: Lower admissions standards, with not-so-long-term disastrous implications for the school’s reputation, the profession itself, and for the poorly qualified matriculants,  aka lemmings of average and below average intelligence, who are less likely than brainier members of their cohort to bounce back after taking the plunge.    
 
It would appear that the NCBE is on target with their critique.
 
But wait!  Dean Allard rides to the rescue, to chasten and rebuke.  It is not the students, who have been insulted, it's the test (that has been around for decades) this is the problem!  There has been "no transparency."  There is no evidence the students are "less able" (just, the, um, scores themselves, but who cares), just mere assertion!  Getting a JD is "hard work" and requires "intelligence."
 
The coup-de-grace, per Allard?
 
It is strange that after completing, at great expense, such intense studies, the first thing law graduates must do is pay a lot of money, once again, to prepare for a test that will enable them to practice law.  This defies common sense.
 
Why, yes it does, yes it does.  Welcome the to the scamblog camp, Dean Allard.
 
Friends, "open enrollment" is starting to have its effect, and the Law Schools are scrambling for cover.  It would be entertaining to feast upon all this discord (and I do admit to grabbing some popcorn laced with a heavy dose of schadenfreude), but the real tragedy here lies with recent students and graduates who are getting scammed.  While the various camps within the Cartel blame each other, disclaim contributory negligence, and lob their wordy hand-grenades, real people with real debt are the casualties.  No one within the Cartel seems to actually care about their federal student loan conduits, and they are more interested in passing the hot potato to someone else rather than rendering sober judgment unto themselves.
 
0ls, non-trads, these are the kind of people trying to entice you into Law School.  See how they act.  See how they dodge and weave.  Run for the hills, now, before the entire structure collapses and you get caught up in the collateral damage.

80 comments:

  1. What is the racial breakdown of graduates who failed versus graduates who passed?

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    1. That would be misleading, which is what scammers like Allard are counting on. To be meaningful, you'd have to control for other factors like LSAT scores.

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  2. Before you know it, law school admi$$ion$ committees will simply ask "Do you have at least an Associate's degree and no violent felonies on your record? Okay, you're in. Congratulations."

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    1. LOL. "If you have a job, you can get a law degree!"

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    2. At 7:30, that would discriminate against those who got laid off. Or compound the effects of existing employment discrimination. As we all know, the prestigious JD degree is a way for victims to vault above all sorts of discrimination and quickly find high-paying professional jobs, ideally fighting discrimination themselves.

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  3. Next year will be very interesting. My understanding is that there wasn't that much of a dropoff in LSAT scores for this class. However, this doesn't really consider the impact of being able to take the test multiple times, better LSAT preparation (Test is learnable), and the "median vs. mean" and the possible increase of low LSAT/high GPAs.

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  4. Imagining The Open ToadNovember 17, 2014 at 8:17 AM

    Dear OTLSS Team, here's worth a post I think:

    https://www.law.ufl.edu/news/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Summer2014BarExaminationResults.pdf
    (FCSL pass rate comes in 10th of 11 in the race)


    Also see woulda-coulda-but-ejected-in-mid-presentation Dean Frakt's comments at TFL:

    http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2014/11/dont-say-i-didnt-warn-you-florida-coastal.html

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    1. First Link - Schools with a sub 80% pass rate....on the freaking MPRE??

      "less able"

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    2. Imagining The Open ToadNovember 17, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      Hilarious, I didn't even pay attention to that second set of scores. Barry, FCSL, and Ave Maria all had at least 25% of their students fail the MPRE.

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    3. I don't know about FL, but in my jurisdiction you can't take the bar exam unless you first pass the MPRE; most here students take it the Feb. before they graduate. I know others allow you to take the MPRE after the bar exam.

      If FL follows the former approach, that means a sizeble chunk of students that graduate never even become eligible to take the bar exam.

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    4. Faaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwk. That means that the bar passage rate stats are even worse, and less trustworthy. And that's assuming that a bunch of the students who barely graduated didn't pass on the whole thing.

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  5. Will the bar examiners cave? Will they lower the standards for bar passage?

    What I'm seeing here is a game of chicken. If the bar examiners hold firm, the scam will come to an end sooner rather than later.

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    1. Don't be so sure. If the ABA doesn't enforce the accreditation standards, I think the scam rolls on - it's easier for the schools to blame students that fail the bar than it is those who pass the bar but can't find a job.

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    2. The examiners seem to have no vested interest in the scam and will likely hold firm. But what difference will it make? The ABA bar pass requirement is calculated on being below the *average* bar pass, so is very lenient. Even if some schools do fail, the ABA is likely to merely relax this requirement.

      Plus I seriously doubt if most lemmings seriously consider the bar pass figures when selecting a school.

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    3. Yes--most of us could, several years ago, see things getting to this point. We knew applications to law schools would continue to plummet-as more and more college graduates realized that law school is a really bad idea for most people--and that the bottom-feeding law schools would be desperate to keep the gravy train going as long as possible. It was entirely foreseeable that some such schools would move to essentially open admissions policies, and this would result in lower bar passage rates three years down the road. Of course all of that has come to pass.

      Now the issue is whether the bar examiners and state bars will make the standards even more lax or whether some of these JD printing factories will finally keel over.

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    4. "What I'm seeing here is a game of chicken. If the bar examiners hold firm, the scam will come to an end sooner rather than later."

      I'll bet on the bar examiners caving. There's got to be lots of pressure, both from the directly interested schools and investment firms, and from indirectly involved parties (e.g. the ABA would probably like the whole thing to fade away....).

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    5. "Don't be so sure. If the ABA doesn't enforce the accreditation standards, I think the scam rolls on - it's easier for the schools to blame students that fail the bar than it is those who pass the bar but can't find a job."

      It will be an interesting experiment, for those whose lives are not destroyed - do students see that more immediate outcome, and react more?

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    6. Take a law student in the top 50% of the nation's yearly graduates that passes the bar and gets a full time long term attorney job.

      He looks at his unemployed classmates and thinks "there but for the grace of God go I."

      He looks at his classmates that failed the bar and thinks "those idiots shouldn't have gone to law school."

      Bar exam passage is a function of intelligence and time investment that job searching isn't.The schools can say: it isn't our job to teach the bar exam. And there is some truth to that, as historically the average student was intelligent enough that it wasn't necessary.

      At the bottom, though, is the same old scam: the screwls happily accepting full freight paying gullible lemmings that have a snowball's chance in hell at a successful career as an attorney.I'm frankly surprised the scamsters haven't lobbied to make job statistics a percentage of bar passers instead of graduates. That would really help out the 5T garbage dumps that have 50% bar passage rates.

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    7. Imagining The Open ToadNovember 17, 2014 at 8:46 PM

      "He looks at his unemployed classmates and thinks "there but for the grace of God go I."

      No serious argument with the bulk of your comment, but do want to add my 2 cents regarding the above. There's a significant chance that the guy getting a good LTFT JDR job won't even know about most of his non-employed classmates' outcomes, relatively close friends excepted.

      That's one of the factors relied upon by the guys still shilling for "NOW IS A GREAT TIME to go to LS".

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    8. Even the people who are "winning the game" and getting WORK as LAWYERS are discovering that a 45,000 salary cannot service a $200,000 debt and pay for life at the same time.... even they are turning against the scam.

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    9. It's probably true that the bar examiners will cave. This is sad, because bar examiners standing firm would end the scam immediately.

      If they lower the bar passage rate to 60% (rather than about 75% as it is today for most states), I think you'd have a deterrence to apply to law schools. Even current students may decide to quit, rather than face a more difficult exam. As a result, quite a number of law schools would be forced to shut down.

      So, bar examiners could play a very important role in ending the scam. Hopefully they'll step-up, but we'll just have to wait and see what actually happens.

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    10. They could lower the bar passage rate well below 50%, it wouldn't make much difference. This may dissuade the smarter, wiser students. But these students have largely been dissuaded already. What is left is mostly special snowflake lemmings who assume they will always buck the odds and succeed at anything they try. They assume they will be one of the ones to pass the bar first time, no matter how low the overall passage rate.

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  6. Do the Deans and law schools play a role in this? Of course. But blaming only law schools, boomers and everyone else under the sun other than the student himself is ridiculous. In a world of comparative negligence, the student bares a significant portion of the blame for taking out lots of debt to obtain a degree which will prove to be close to worthless, on the economic front anyway. The internet has been around for general usage since 1990 or so . . google has been around for far longer than the current crop of law students have been attending law school. Isn't it prudent for anybody to research before they take on a lot of debt and a lot of time to pursue a degree? I think the Courts have rejected these class actions lawsuits . . not because they are attempting to protect the powers-to-be, but because in the end . . . they are of the feeling that there is plenty of info out there and that caveat emptor rules the day. In the end, that is how courts make decisions. What is reasonable under the circumstances, and an appellate court will never reverse if it believes the outcome a just result. What is happening now . . the brighter students are avoiding law school unless they get very top tier acceptances. The less bright law students are still going . . . but it is up to the government, or law schools to protect these people from themselves? That's not how the capitalistic system works for the most part.

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    1. As long as there are unlimited federal student loans distort the market, the capitalist system can't work.

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    2. The capitalistic system allows for regulation of all kinds of toxic products. Why not regulate toxic student debt?

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    3. Two problems with this:

      1) Schools have only been posting accurate employment data since 2011. Before that, students had no of knowing, other than word of mouth, the terrible employment numbers many T3/4 schools have.
      2) The "capitalistic system" would work, but that isn't what we have. What we have is the federal government lending limitless sums of money to individuals with no regard to risk, return on investment, or estimated ability to repay. No private lender in the free market would lend 200k to someone to attend Cooley or TJSL.

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    4. All right dude, help us make this blog a good place for students to do their research. Try posting some relevant facts sometime, and then interpret them honestly. That way the students who read this blog can actually avoid the comparative negligence that, in your fantasy world, makes them deserving of almost unlimited punishment.

      I suspect, though, that you'd prefer to see uninformed and unintelligent students continue to make disastrous career decisions, simply so that you can continue to enjoy the exquisite pleasure of blaming them.

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    5. "But blaming only law schools, boomers and everyone else under the sun other than the student himself is ridiculous. In a world of comparative negligence, the student bares a significant portion of the blame for taking out lots of debt to obtain a degree which will prove to be close to worthless, on the economic front anyway. The internet has been around for general usage since 1990 or so . ."

      By now, yes. Remember, it wasn't until a few years ago that schools stopped publishing fraudulent statistics.

      It wasn't until a few years ago that some law professors spoke out.

      It wasn't until a few years ago that social media helped grads without jobs connect with each other, and to inform prospective students.

      It wasn't until a few years ago that the mass media was willing to talk about this.

      And still, if you go into your local college's career center, I'll bet that you find brochures for law schools and 'counselors' who will happily guide students there.

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    6. "No private lender in the free market would lend 200k to someone to attend Cooley or TJSL."

      I wouldn't be too sure of that. Securitization allows lenders to eliminate risk. If federal lending were restricted, private lenders would fill the gap and would lend just as recklessly. Private student debt is even more onerous than federal student, but lemmings wouldn't care and would still sign on the dotted line.

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    7. Securitization does NOT eliminate risk. It simply disguises risk and makes it easier to transfer risk to ignorant third parties. Eventually the third parties get tired of losing money and refuse to buy risky securities. Remember the "toxic assets" that the government had to buy because no one else wanted them?

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    8. Imagining The Open ToadNovember 17, 2014 at 8:17 PM

      "the student bares a significant portion of the blame"

      DAGNABBIT. I was hoping the quoted matter was going to end up more like "the student bares a significant portion of her skin...".

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    9. Imagining The Open ToadNovember 17, 2014 at 8:42 PM

      "Securitization allows lenders to eliminate risk."

      LoL. I realize Heineman and Savage proved you really CAN polish a turd, but still...

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    10. Grammar and spelling police are always appreciated. You youngins surze iz edukated.

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    11. We're not the grammar police; we're the frikkin' grammar CIA.

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    12. How come when I try to defraud anyone the government and law enforcement are on my ass instantly? I never get to blame the marks for being stupid.

      But when the bankers and the educators and the big corporate types want to fuck me over, it seems like it's a rape party and they're holding me down and bending me over for each other.

      It's such bullshit. It's not fair that I don't get guaranteed profit and a giant propaganda machine to use to influence people. If I advertised law services the way law schools did, I would be disciplined by the bar. If I refused to actually work on a client's case or use good law or follow court procedures but just got in there and babbled about the Rule of Perpetuities or some other nonsense I wouldn't be allowed to collect any money from a client.

      Where is my TARP? Where is my QE? Where is my DOE subsidized free profit line from student loans? This entire economy is rigged for all these people and I get nothing.

      I want to be rich too and have no risk but guaranteed success. What kind of stupid system is this? Do I have to be born into it or something? I don't get it. Why aren't we even allowed to mention how rigged the system is? I don't want to play this game, the computer keeps cheating.

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    13. Yes, you have to be born into it. For those of us who were not, it was all over before it began.

      Old Guy

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  7. Anonymous at 1:o2 pm said: "[the court] are of the feeling that there is plenty of info out there and that caveat emptor rules the day." So the courts decide the facts rather than the jury fact-finders? Good god.

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    1. I believe that the courts' finding was the OL's are 'sophisticated purchasers' (I don't recall the exact test), meaning that it was all their fault, no matter what fraud was perpetrated on them.

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    2. Imagining The Open ToadNovember 17, 2014 at 8:31 PM

      Barry - remember also d's post (link below) where millionaire, middle-aged businessmen are not sophisticated enough. Even better, the defendant in Marini was found to owe a fiduciary duty to the millionaire, middle-aged businessman despite his lawyer citing to the law school dismissals (where of course as we've learned, the schools owe zero duty to their students).

      http://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2014/10/a-tale-of-two-scams.html

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  8. Dammit! When will we have 2014 enrollment numbers?

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    1. For Brooklyn? Just throw out some ridiculous number of students, like 400 or 500, and that's likely to be their new enrollment.

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    2. (chuckle) Those counts and plummeting LSAT's will be fun to see.

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    3. I predict record numbers of minority students this year. Allard is doing them a huge favor by admitting them. Otherwise they'd end up at NYLS or Hofstra.

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    4. California bar passage numbers come out this week - let that tide you over, 4:12

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  9. "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
    --Gandhi

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    1. Gandhi, just another disgruntled law grad. He should've stopped complaining so much and gotten a real job. If that's the way the system is set up, you should just accept it and move on.

      Love, the anti-scamblogging crazies

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    2. In South Africa, I understand Gandhi was earning on the order of $125,000 per year, in the time frame of 1893-1914. Probably not too disgruntled.

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    3. When he wasn't busy shitting on the indigenous population, whom he regarded as his (and certainly the colonialists') racial inferiors. Gandhi is as much a scam as law skule.

      Old Guy

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    4. It cost him his life.

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  10. I wonder if there's a historical analogue for what has happened to the law profession? It's difficult to believe that less than 5 years ago, a lawyer was considered to be a saavy upper-class professional basically printing money, albeit at the expense of working ridiculous hours. A friend once told me many years back that she was dating a lawyer and I instantly kidded with her about being a gold-digger. Now someone can pass the bar and end up serving pizzas.

    The reason my thoughts pertain to this article is because I'm curious how this recent debate with low passage rates will play out. There's every reason to expect that these numbers will look the same or, more likely, even worse next year. Will the group that designs the exam cave to pressure and ease up a bit on the difficulty?

    If they do, and I have no idea as to the feasibility of this idea, it will just continue the race to the bottom for this profession as word will get around that the credential process has been dumbed down. It doesn't seem like it's possible to put in a floor when so many schools are acting independently of each other. All the actions they're taking (switching to open enrollment, massive tuition subsidization) are only compounding their future misery in order to extend the status quo a few more years.

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    1. I think you need to go back more than five years. Even when I went to law school, in the mid-90s, people told me that lawyers were a dime a dozen, and people from TTTs were having trouble finding jobs. (Of course, tuition was a lot lower then, even after you adjust for inflation, so wasting three years in law school wasn't a life-destroying choice.)

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    2. I heard those same things in 1974. Tuition was much cheaper then. $550 per semester at a public T 20 law school. You could make enough at a summer job to make a sizable dent in tuition expense.

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  11. Between the collapsing admission standards and the tendency of the few top students at low-ranked schools to transfer to other schools, we have an unprecedented situation. When the classes currently starting law school take the bar in a few years, we could literally see a situation at some schools in which virtually none of the graduates pass.

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  12. "I wonder if there's a historical analogue for what has happened to the law profession?"

    There's this:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/29/nyregion/promised-better-life-by-beauty-schools-graduates-have-little-training-and-lasting-debt.html?partner=socialflow&smid=tw-nytmetro&_r=1&

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    1. Based on what I have read, I think culinary schools would qualify also. The recent (in the last 10 years) slew of celebrity chefs probably made the job look more lucrative than it is for the vast majority of chefs. I've also read of lawsuits against these schools filed by graduates who paid 40-50K or so, and were unable to find any work except chopping vegetables, boiling potatoes, etc for minimum wage or a little more.

      One difference is that most of those schools are for-profit, while the vast majority of law schools are "non profit" (on paper--some "non profits" feature extravagant salaries and gold plated benefits for some employees, e.g. mid six figure salaries for TTTT deans). So different guidelines for student loans apply.

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    2. From the link posted by 5:59:

      “Schools are targeting low-income people and people of color for the sole purpose of drawing down large sums of federal aid dollars,” Mr. De Jesus said. The schools “have no intention of providing them with a quality education.”

      But unlike mortgages and credit card debt, federal student loans are difficult to relieve, and there is no statute of limitations on their collection.

      “It follows you for the rest of your life,” he said.

      The more things change, the more they stay the same it seems.

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    3. Imagining The Open ToadNovember 19, 2014 at 9:16 AM

      "I've also read of lawsuits against these schools filed by graduates who paid 40-50K or so, and were unable to find any work except chopping vegetables, boiling potatoes, etc for minimum wage or a little more."

      BamBam - agree on the culinary schools, especially the for-profits that lie as badly (baldly?) about outcomes as did any law school ever do.

      One of my relatives was talking about wanting to go to the "culinary institute of America" so for grins I looked it up, and found that you can get a bachelors in, uh, "cheffing", I guess, for just about $130K in tuition. Not sure what the COL add-on would be, but it's in NYC...

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    4. ITOT--Wow I didn't imagine tuition was that much. 130K to learn how to cook? WTF?? You can learn that for free by using the internet cooking web sites and checking out books from the local library.

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    5. This is the original guy @ 6:53. I don't think these two things (beauty school and culinary schools) apply because the never had the prestigious profession attached to them that law does. Or *did*. They're both scams though and I'm finding some of the numbers tossed around here to be amazing.

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    6. Haha does anyone tell them: just go and open your own restaurant! Hustle!

      The way they do to law grads? I don't understand how people are expected to, especially in law where you are competing directly AGAINST seasoned practitioners, to open a firm with no client base, no startup capital, significant debt and no experience.

      At least as a chef you don't have to actually compete and have an ethics board and judge breathing down your neck, but it's certainly not a good situation either.

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    7. "You can learn that for free by using the internet cooking web sites and checking out books from the local library."

      Hell, you can learn way more things than cooking for free (or nearly free). That's the essence of the education scam. You're not paying for knowledge and skills so much as you're paying for a "credential." This is especially true with online courses of study. Talk about an unnecessary middleman...

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    8. Indeed. I could have taught myself law. I learned more on my own during law school than I learned from any course.

      Old Guy

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  13. "Now someone can pass the bar and end up serving pizzas."

    From what people have said on various blogs, it's been that way for quite some time. The late 90's boom obscured that. I've seen charts showing the legal economy vs. the overall US economy, and the legal economy was clearly dropping behind after the early 90's recession.
    The thing is that the law schools lied through their teeth, counting everybody flipping burgers as employed for their employment rates, and only the better half (or less of jobs) for salary figures. Of course when you do this, you look pretty good.

    Meanwhile, every useless 'career counselor' at every 'career center' in every f-ing college in the US was showing off the shiny brochures from law schools, and urging people without jobs at graduation to apply.

    The grads, of course, had little idea that it wasn't just their fault for failing. They couldn't connect with each other, and they couldn't connect with the seniors in college.

    It really wasn't until blogs and social media became widespread that the truth became known.

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    1. Another factor that obstructed the reality of what law school graduates were doing was that graduates from a semi-decent law school could actually get a job doing legal work (albeit contract work), thus only the tier III & IV graduates were flipping burgers.

      And, of course, tier III and IV graduates were just dismissed as having had gone to a crappy law school, so of course they'd be flipping burgers. Thus, law was regarded as a secure profession, so long as you went to a decent school.

      Today, we have tier I graduates flipping burgers, and Harvard graduates doing contract work. THIS is why it's getting attention, and people are starting to care.

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    2. I could always see that going to a Cooley at Harvard's price was worse than foolish. What I could not see was that going to law school anywhere would be foolish for a person of my age (around 40 when I started law school). Not even excelling at a top-ranked law school was good enough to get me a job (other than a federal clerkship). Even interviews were rare.

      Old Guy

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    3. Old Guy, how top was your school? Top 5? Top 10? Top 25? Top 50? Top 100?

      Lower than 100 obviously woudn't be top.

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    4. He's also described it as an elite school. He obviously knows what that means in common parlance (top 20, if not T14).

      However, he's also often sarcastic about the common tiering labels, so my actual guess is at least T14 and possibly he would not use the "elite" label outside the T10.

      Just guessing, though.

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    5. I don't wish to identify the school, as that would also identify me. Suffice it to say that I don't characterize it as a top-ranked (or élite) school lightly. My attitude towards the usual tiering labels should indeed give you an idea of what I mean.

      Old Guy

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  14. Let me ask a question here. This is not through ignorance because I am fascinated with what is happening to the country, and read up on all of the various scams regularly, from Wall Street and the Banks to the higher-ed scam, to the health care racket (talk about scammers) to the Law-school scam (being a successful solo myself getting ready to retire from this racket). The question is just how decimating these student loans truly are? Most of these grad school loans are Federal and thus come under IBR right? I am sure its not fun having a few hundred thousand in debt, but if you are only paying back a limited amount anyway, maybe zero if you are earning close to poverty wages, with the rest to be discharged ten or twenty years in the future (the tax issues is another matter) . . . is it really all that depressing? Seems to me if you are earning a paycheck, you simply set aside ten percent of your income to pay back your loan on a monthly bases . . . same as your health care premiums (my health care premium for a family of four is $1500 per month . . . and I get NOTHING for it given our large deductible). That student loan is simply one more expense like a car payment, or insurance or rent or a mortgage. Does anybody want an added payment? Of course not. But if your income is small, your payment is small. So what am I missing?

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    1. Your point is taken, that some could argue that it's "not that bad."

      A couple of counter-points:

      (1) IBR does not cover private loans, so there are thousands of law grads for whom IBR isn't a whole lot of help in the final analysis. More recent grads, of course, do "benefit", although as you stated the tax bomb is a big question at this point.

      (2) IBR is a gamble - recently PSLF took some notable hits that put the screws on those who would use that program becuase of mounting debt forgiveness, so the thinking is that IBR can't be too far behind. Costs continue to mount, so IBR-adjusted payments are rising as well, albeit at a slower rate. Average wages continue to slide in the aggregate.

      (3) The general corruption you note above in other programs. Law Deans and LawPrafs get fat, taxpayers get taken for a ride. Maybe not immediately, but $1.2T in overall debt continues to mount.

      I think that's the general thinking. It doesn't seem bad now, but will IBR be around in its current form in 25 years? Seems like a gamble, one that Law Deans are all too happy to entice young people with.

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    2. I see no possibility ibr will end. The number of f faults would rise exponentially. If people can't pay they won't pay. The government would lose all of the repayments and millions will have their credit destroyed and will join the underground economy.

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    3. Well there is a psychological burden to debt as well.

      I paid my loans off and I felt much, much, much better to have gotten rid of them. I can't even put it in words. It was a lot of money to put towards something so useless, but I'm just glad it's over and done with.

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    4. If I'm not mistaken, the loans an also make it difficult to get credit in the future to pursue purchases like a house.

      Just to extrapolate a bit though -- it's not just the loans. I never went to LS but I know what it's like to fail to *enter* a profession that you've worked years studying for. It's very embarrassing to tell people for years that you're studying to be a(n) X and get out and be bussing tables. Compound that with years spent outside of the labor force ("opportunity cost") pursing the degree and you have a very toxic mixture, the scale of which is truly awesome to behold. The debt is just one component.

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    5. Well, and there are your friends, with their accounting and engineering degrees. Making 3, 4, maybe 5 times what you are earning, and they have benefits, and they have a career, that is, full-time, permanent employment, the prospect of advancement, perhaps from grunt to management, stock options, life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, paid vacation, paid personal days, and some sort of stock plan, oh, AND A PENSION (maybe after only 30 years and attaining some minimum age). And all with a 4 year degree. (I am 37 years in and have 5 more to go, and I have none of those things, but many of my friends do-and they envy me!)

      None of THOSE things depress me.

      Gotta go, there is an opening at the bridge...

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    6. I would be wary of pushing engineering, or computer programming, or accounting, as "sure things". Remember when law used to be regarded as a "sure thing"? Perhaps young people should be encouraged to regard the cost/benefits of education, regardless of field, extremely critically.

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    7. @ 10:37, yes, thank you! As a STEM grad whose career has gone up in flames from the recession, not everyone makes it in those field, even if they're probably the best. There are lawyers who make a ton of money too, but it doesn't mean they're the norm.

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    8. @ 8:03 poster here.

      I have 37 years of practice with a degree from a top 20 school. Just at the top 25% mark as far as class rank. In 1977 it took me 2 years+ to find a job, and then it was very small law.

      The engineering, computer programming and accounting fields, are not nearly as "snooty" as the law. A degree from the wrong school, not from the right town, family connections are thin… All hold you back to a significant degree. I actually had a district attorney look at my resume and say: "You are too 'bookish' to work here." (My grades were too good to get a job there.)

      Many law firms are family-based. Dad and his brother opened the firm, they have hired a couple of their kids who will succeed to the firm's files when the founders move on

      Any non-family attorneys hired will have a huge hurdle to overcome to become an equity partner. And if the firm allocates income based on a "who procured the work" and "who did the work" formula, then the family members will have a HUGE advantage as they will be the "who procured the work" ticket holders for all of the files they inherit. They have a one or more generation head start on you.

      There are certainly small engineering firms and accounting firms on the family founded law firm model, but (and I have not actually counted, so instead of stating a fact-not proven, I will ask a rhetorical question) consider, doesn't it seem like there are many more potential employers for engineers than law firms? Well, I do have personal knowledge of a local manufacturing company-global-which hires TONS of engineers. How many are actually practicing engineering, is only a small fraction of the total number of engineers hired. Many are sales folks, consultants to customers, etc. There are few such positions in the law which are only "related" to the law, like a sales person with a mechanical engineering degree selling mechanical equipment to customers. Customers buying million dollar machines expect some technical expertise in their sales reps. There are few comparable positions associated with the law. You are either practicing law, or you are a cabbie. I did not say that engineering or accounting were "sure things" and didn't mention computer programming (a field I intentionally left out knowing little of its market dynamics), but I stand by my intimation that engineering and accounting are a better bet than law.

      My three sons will not be lawyers. One is an MD, the second is a civil engineer, and the third is headed toward becoming a mechanical engineer.

      (part 2 to follow)

      Cincinnatus

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    9. Part 2

      xI would note in the spirit of the reply to my post, that I am assuming that the performance of the student in law, or engineering, or accounting is comparable. The latin phrase for this is "ceteris paribus," that is, "all other things being held equal."

      Obviously, a student whose law grades are much better than an engineering or accounting student, will have advantage. And, of course, I understand that folks who could do well at law school may have NO aptitude for math, engineering or accounting wise.

      I agree with 10:47 that an educational course should be carefully thought out. My parents, both very, very bright (I did not seem to get much of that) were raised out of very low end income, if not nearly poverty by education.

      Despite the road I have traveled, I have done better than my parents in some measures and not so well in others. I have no pension. Never will. At 62, retirement will be "thin." So, the major amount of my "savings" is my 1/4th share of what I inherited from my parents. They NEVER spent $1 from their savings. They should have but that time is gone.

      0L's need to see what I see.

      To 10:37: I am sorry to hear. Much of success seems to be time and location dependent. Born a petroleum engineer in the Dakotas 50 years ago, life is ugly. Born so, 20 years ago, you are probably ready to retire at 32.

      From an older guy, everyone seems to find their niche, at some point. Many of us just wish that that niche was closer to our expectations.

      I have enjoyed helping my clients, but the hours and frustration have been extraordinary. In 37 years of practice, 2 years looking for work, I have had about 28 weeks of vacation. Half of those at scout camp, which is fine. But, if you are or will be self-employed solo like me, a week's vacation costs your 10 billable hours times 5 = 50 x $225 = $11,250.00. (And you have not even set foot out of the door of your house!) Then, you are looking at transportation expense, food out, hotel rooms, activity fees, and so on. So, in a week you can spend another $5,000 to $10,000 depending on where you go. So, every working hour on your vacation could cost you $400, $500 or $600. That $8.00 cocktail you thought was expensive nat your local bar? You would need to down 62.5 of them PER HOUR to keep pace with the cost of your vacation. Well, you would be dead about 15 minutes in, or at least in a coma.

      Folks with a decent job with a decent employer have NONE of these issues.

      My 3 sons will not be lawyers. I told them so, and they are not, and no one could be more pleased than me. I will shut down my office and files for over 3,000 clients, and end the practice. And no one will be more pleased than me.

      I apologize for being so tedious, but 0L's need to know what it looks like 37 years in.

      Cincinnatus

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    10. I understand that there are many who "sought refuge" in a law degree not able or interested in the rigors of engineering, accounting, medicine, or even computer programming (which I understand is akin to lawyering document review.)

      If you have aptitude in any of those other fields, then go there, and NOT the law.

      Cincinnatus

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    11. Been there, done that. Laid off from one of those fields many years ago and could never get back in. Now I can't get into law either.

      I should stand on the corner with a cardboard sign: "Middle-aged federal clerk will work for food."

      Old Guy

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