Sunday, August 9, 2015

Law firm hires exclusively from toilet schools


I have said before that only a dozen or so law schools in the whole US deserve consideration by those who are not independently wealthy (http://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.ca/2014/12/guest-post-by-old-guy-which-law-schools.html). I have warned that a degree from a bottom-end law school will effectively exclude its bearer from a decent career in law.

Well, I am wrong. At least one law firm not only hires but even prefers graduates of toilet schools—to the point of refusing to consider their counterparts from Harvard and Yale:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adam-leitman-bailey/why-we-do-not-hire-law-sc_1_b_7789022.html

Adam Leitman Bailey proclaims, urbi et orbi, that his small New York law firm specializing in real estate will not hire "from the Ivy League [s]chools". (Apparently he uses the term "Ivy League" loosely.) Instead, it recruits "from the top of the classes of the second, third or fourth tier [sic] law schools". These worthies work half time during the semester (those coming from, say, Thomas Jefferson face a rather long commute) or full time during the summer. After graduation, some of them may return to full-time jobs, eventually even partnerships.

An exciting development! At least one employer covets the top-performing students at every Cooley from Maine to California. First "JD advantage", now "toilet advantage"!

Mr. Bailey "admire[s] the top ranking [sic] law schools". So why won't he hire their graduates? "First, the top students from these law schools have no interest in applying for a job at our firm." Ay, there's the rub. Do I taste the characteristic flavor of sour grapes?

Second, from the premise that "many of these law schools either fail to rank their students or do not even grade them at all", Mr. Bailey concludes that "[t]heir students typically have no incentive to get the best grades in their classes" or "to squeeze as much learning as possible out of the law school [sic] experience". It is true that some of the good (NB: not "the best") law schools, including my own, adopt that policy. But so do some toilets. And it does not follow that the students have no incentive to get high grades or to learn as much as they can. Nor does a high class rank from a Cooley, which may well use multiple-choice exams, attest to great learning.

Third, according to Mr. Bailey, "the statistics show that almost every large law firm offers all of the summer associates full time [sic] jobs. In order for the top law firms to attract the brightest students they must also show that in past years all of the candidates received job offers." Sorry, Rip Van Winkle, but none of that is true in 2015. Even at élite academies, many bright students struggle to find work anywhere. They would not idly reject an offer from a top firm just because it had declined to hire a few people back. And white-shoe law firms in recent years have rejected many a summer associate. Some have postponed their entire cohort, deferred or rescinded offers, and even reduced or eliminated their summer-associate program. Of course, former summer associates are also free to decline a job offer in order to work for Mr. Bailey's firm. So Mr. Bailey's argument does not support his refusal to consider students from the good law schools.

Fourth, those students focus their academic attentions on "political theory and international law and classes on capital punishment", whereas Mr. Bailey's firm needs "trial practice, corporations, tax, civil procedure and any real estate and litigation course offered". Really? Civil procedure is part of the curriculum everywhere. And most of the students at the good schools do take some of those other courses. Besides, the presence of a course on the transcript does not prove significant knowledge of the subject, nor does the absence of a course prove ignorance.

And do students at the toilet schools really opt for the meat and potatoes of Mr. Bailey's practice? Unconvinced, I had a look at Indiana Tech's offerings (http://law.indianatech.edu/academics/curriculum/courses/). Real estate is limited to the single course Landlord Tenant Law. Taxation is represented by a single course, Federal Income Tax EPT, that pertains to the taxation of individuals only. On the other hand, Indiana Tech's students enjoy a sprawling smorgasbord of fluffy offerings, including Sports Law, Sexuality and the Law Seminar, numerous courses ostensibly pertaining to global leadership, and, most ridiculously (Dougie Fresh's fingerprints are all over this), Hip Hop and the American Constitution. Indiana Tech also requires six semesters of Foundations of Legal Analysis, at least the last four semesters of which are bar review. Similar candy-ass offerings typify toilets other than Fort Wayne's pride and joy.

To hire those "who have competed for three years for the top grades and at the same time who have learned topics relevant to our real estate [sic—learn to use the hyphen, for Christ's sake] practice", Mr. Bailey pursues the top graduates of toilet schools. Even on his own terms, however, that approach does not work. Top graduates of toilets have not necessarily had to compete: someone in a class full of underperformers will get first place, and outranking those who could not get into a good law school does not attest to a competitive spirit. Nor have those graduates necessarily learned anything relevant to real-estate practice or, for that matter, to legal practice of whatsoever kind. The best shit, after all, is still shit.

Concluding what is obviously a faux-contrarian bid for publicity rather than an appraisal of law schools and their graduates, Mr. Bailey vaunts his firm's "ability to hire the best candidates based purely on merit, not aristocracy". He is right about the largely aristocratic character of the Harvards and the Yales—something that I, one of the relatively few non-aristocrats to graduate from one of those universities, can corroborate. But selecting "purely on merit", however defined, is inconsistent with blanket exclusions—particularly of those graduates whose law schools, despite their faults, at least manage to people their classes with top performers by the measures of GPA and LSAT score. In any event, I would not look for "the best candidates" by scouring the top ranks of Charleston, Appalachian, and Arizona Summit.

52 comments:

  1. Refreshing but it won't help 99.99999999%.

    In all honesty, once you come out of law school and have the non-pedigree, "wrong" name(s) - undergrad, law, etc. - on your resume, no family wealth or strong connections, you're marked, forever, as being in the underclass (99%) in law.

    You might do well enough to get by and make a living, but you won't make any real money and you won't be vacationing with the Whitney's in the Hamptons or whatever at the summer place, etc.

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    1. TTTToooro! The Whitneys are in residence at Saratoga in summer. Go up with your Toro lawn mower degree to muck the horse stalls.

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    2. What non-WASP lawyers do you think are socializing with upper crust folks like the Whitney family. To the wealthy, lawyers are mere tradesmen, like a plumber. Rich people have private bankers and they are waited on by old line partners at firms like Cravath. You are not in the mix with your Brooklyn degree in your mail drop or store front office in the ghetto!

      Your fate as a shitlawyer is sealed the day you start at a TTT or TTTT, not when you graduate from your toilet law school.

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  2. The problem is far more nuanced.

    Local law firms will hire from local law schools, even if they are toilet schools. For example, Long Island firms do hire from the Touro law school.

    The problem is (1) the caliber of job and/or (2) how long one can practice law before they "age out."

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    1. The other problem is that, although local firms (and other employers like DA's offices) hire from local toilets, that only covers a small percentage of the class. For example, I know a person who came out of Pace a few years back who got a job with the Westchester DA's Office. Thing is, she was in the top 10% of her class and on law review. People at or below median in the same class never had a shot at a legit legal job. And to me, that is the essence of the scam - for every two or three grads, only one legitimate legal job. That's the brutal arithmetic that you never hear the career services directors and toilet deans talk about. And really, what can they say?

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    2. Some toilets are so dreadful that years may pass without a single good outcome. Have a look at this list of distinguished alumni from the Web site of Appalachian Law School:

      Justin Marcum '11: 20th District Delegate, West Virginia House of Delegates; Mingo County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney
      Joey Mossor '11: Judge Advocate General Corps, United States Marine Corps
      Capt. Melvin “Artie” Vaughn '07: Area Defense Counsel, Judge Advocate General Corps, United States Air Force
      Vince Riggs '06: Fayette County Circuit Court Clerk in Lexington, Kentucky; manages over 130 deputy clerks
      Chris Fortier '06:recipient of the Virginia State Bar R. Edwin Burnette Jr. Young Lawyer of the Year Award for 2013; attorney advisor at the Social Security Administration
      Jarrod Crockett '06: District 91 Representative, Maine House of Representatives
      Dan Kostrub '05: partner, Steptoe & Johnson PLLC; focuses his practice in the areas of real estate and energy law
      Dave McFadyen ’05: District Court Judge in the 3B Judicial District of eastern North Carolina
      Matt England '05: Family Court Judge for the 14th Family Court Circuit serving Fayette County, West Virginia
      Gerald Arrington '04: Buchanan County, Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorney
      Capt. John K. Harris '03: active duty United States Army Reserve Officer; joined the military in 1997; has deployed to Iraq and served at various levels of command
      Suzanne Kerney-Quillen '03: Assistant United States Attorney, United States Department of Justice
      Daniel Boyd '02: Juvenile Court Judge in Hawkins County, Tennessee
      Marcus McClung '00: Scott County, Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorney

      Some military grunts, a couple of state politicians, and a few lawyers or small-time local judges are all that they can show for the past TWELVE graduating classes.

      And the list from two or three years ago was even worse. I demolished it at Inside the Law School Scam.

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    3. To be fair, the above jobs are rather impressive. I'd be happy to have one of them.

      Of course, my guess is that some of these people had a connection or two in order to get them.

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    4. One of those jobs is a military position with no legal connection at all. Apparently the person had it years before he attended his Appalachian toilet. There is no reason to think that the law degree helped in any way with getting that job.

      A few other positions on that list are elected offices. As for the others, yes, most likely connections played a big role.

      Just to come up with that short list, Appalachian had to go back four years. And then four years again. All but two of the people on that list got their degrees at a time when jobs were far more abundant, LSAT scores were far higher, and toilets didn't stink quite so badly. Yet Appalachian can find only 14 people worth mentioning (13 of them male) in its past FIFTEEN graduating classes. (I was wrong when I said twelve. Give Old Guy a break: he wears progressive lenses.)

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  3. The original, 1930 film "All Quiet on the Western Front" can be seen on Youtube. You don't have to watch the whole thing, just the mad back and forth assaults between the French and German trenches and the massive casualties. I'm guessing that that is about what this "small New York firm['s]" attrition rate looks like

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  4. A lot of firms and companies hire out of toilets for one very specific reason: they know despite offering shit pay and benefits, the experience obtained won't be enough to offset the toilet stain, and consequently, they get to obtain and retain competent and cheap labor.

    My friend's company had two entry level programs for specialized areas of the law. In both instances, the company had cheap labor in mind and they promised the kids experience in exchange for the reduced pay, benefits, etc . The head of one of the programs took the big law approach: he hired kids from the top school with middle of the road grades. In less than two years, the majority of the hired kids found other jobs with vastly better pay, benefits, etc.

    The head of the second program hired competent folks from toilets. In fact, if a cv was too good, even from a toilet, he would usually throw it away because he knew the marks would eventually be able to escape (mind you, these are specialized practice areas). Despite most of the toileteers receiving very good experience in a niche area of the law, most of them are still there, unable to lateral given the stains on their cvs.

    This guy's strategy will become more common place as time goes on.

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    1. The labor may be cheap, but how competent is it? I'd be careful about hiring from a toilet. Even Harvard and Yale are by no means hallmarks of quality.

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    2. Old Guy,

      Not all kids who go to second and third tier schools are idiots. There are people who are very good at what they do coming out of these places, but that doesn't matter. As the profession gets even more saturated, a second and third tier degree will be marks of death no matter what.

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    3. I have to second that, NOT all toilet graduates are idiots--provided you overlook the fact that they actually enrolled in the toilet.

      For example, a once common trend was for disgruntled PhDs to enroll in a local toilet once they realize they can't find work after a postdoc. They mistakenly presume that the PhD will help them lad a semi-lucrative job as a lawyer despite the crummy law school.

      These people didn't do well on the LSAT (for whatever reason), but it's hardly fair to call them stupid. Frankly, they're smarter than the insipid history major at Harvard who just so happens to luck out on the LSAT. Yet, law being what it is, you're presumed to be a mouth-breather if your LSAT is below a 160.

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    4. I admit that, 8:07. A few reasonably bright people come out of toilets. (And a lot of dumb-dumbs come out of the Yales.) As you said, however, a degree from a toilet school indelibly stains a résumé.

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    5. I don't quite agree that a toilet school degree "indelibly stains a resume." It's not like having a criminal conviction.

      Sure, it won't open doors, and law jobs may not look at you. However, if you get far away from the legal sector, it's effect is somewhat benign.

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    6. To Old Guy and Anon @ 11:46: Yes, a JD can stain your resume. It raises too many questions in the minds of potential employers. I work in a blue collar field, I got my job through a temp agency. I told them my law license was suspended for boozy impropriety. In the factory temp worker world, DUI 2nd's and public intox are common items on the ole' CV, so they could wrap their heads around it and now I earn actual paychecks!

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    7. Far from the legal sector, any JD stains a résumé.

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    8. @8:05 -- " ... any JD stains a résumé"

      Well, I'm about to find out if this is true. I plan to transition from lawyer to high school science teacher. Hopefully it will all work out.

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    9. I wish you the best. Maybe for that sort of job the JD won't spoil your chances. Maybe you can even get away with not mentioning it.

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    10. @Old Guy -- 6:13 here.

      Thank you! Impossible for me not to mention the JD. Been practicing way too long (I'm an "old guy" too). Then again, my high school principal had a JD, so I figure it's possible.

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  5. ^^^^ 9:04 speaks the truth that needs to be told. The entire legal system is a fucking scam run by rich, powerful people who will use you and abuse you. Fuck the ABA. Fuck everyone.

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  6. There's a key point that I forgot to mention: "our individualized revenue sharing [sic]system. All attorneys, no matter how many years out of law school, receive revenue based on a third of the hours they have billed and collected." In other words, it's an eat-what-you-kill shop, or something close to it.

    By the way, how "individualized" is a scheme that pays everyone on the same basis?

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  7. This off topic, but I just saw a group of nervous-looking young men wearing suits outside the local law school....it's OCI time! All I could think of was lambs being led to the abattoir....

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    1. It's like seeing all the prom couples in the nice restaurant in town, isn't it?

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  8. I, for one, sympathize with Mr. Bailey. Just as he declines to hire graduates of top law schools, I decline to date gorgeous women.

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    1. Just wait 'till you turn 40. There will be lots of single gals for you to choose from then.

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  9. Old Guy, as I recall, you often make it clear that you attended an “elite” law school and had a difficult finding a job. I attended an unranked school. I attended this particular law school simply because it was close to my home (I was a non-trad with a family and working spouse). Following law school, I clerked for a federal judge in the state where I attended law school. After my clerkship ended, I moved across the country (my spouse transferred). I had no difficulty finding a job. Many employers, both private and public, find top candidates from a variety of schools. You have always appeared, to me, to be a bit resentful because you took so long to land a job. Maybe the problem lies with you and not with any particular school.

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    1. Um yeah right.

      Because your single example of success negates the hundreds and thousands of examples of failure.

      Fuck off, turd.

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    2. The problem was fueled by Old Guy's inaccurate and random impression that the school he attended was an "elite" institution.

      Nevertheless, age discrimination is an acute problem for graduates of any institution, elite or not.

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    3. I believe Old Guy's complaints of age discrimination. But there's really no evidence that he attended an "elite" law school.

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    4. Yes, I attended an élite law school. I don't care whether you believe me or not.

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    5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  10. Your claim that many employers find top candidates is irrelevant: we're talking about top candidates who are not hired.

    Blame me if you wish. Deny age-based discrimination to your heart's content. The fact remains that I, despite a very compelling résumé, got only a handful of interviews and no job offers from more than 130 applications—while the rich dummies in the bottom half of the class got piles of interviews, and also offers, from white-shoe law firms. Deans, professors, judges (including some on the Supreme Court), lawyers, even classmates all told me that age-based discrimination was blocking my way. Other people here have reported similar experiences.

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    1. Out of curiosity, how old were you when you graduated?

      At the suburban, insurance defense mill I worked at upon graduating, there was a 53 year old associate that I trained. Me and one other guy were in our early 30s, and all the other junior associates were (way) below 30. This was back in 2006, when things were a bit better (thus, the 53 year old was hired).

      I absolutely believe the age discrimination problem. The law school may take you, but that doesn't mean you'll get a job afterwards. I would NEVER recommend law school to anyone over 30 (give or take)--unless they just want to do it for the hell of it.

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    2. Old Guy:

      It was *not* age discrimination alone. Those people you spoke with were all bullshitting you too because they have the belief in their own minds that meritocracy prevails in the legal field so when someone like you doesn't get hired (CogDis) they essentially default to an escape hatch of finding a non-controllable flaw in the candidate, in this case, supposedly, age.

      Yes, age discrimination exists but it's more class/wealth discrimination that prevails, positively for those you mentioned and negatively, *along* with age discrimination, for you. Law is a field where employers are looking to ding candidate during the hiring process as easily as possible. Age discrimination just makes that "ding" easier and quicker for them.

      My point?

      IF you had come from a PPC background (wealthy, connected) even age, say 45 for example, would not have been a bar for you. I'm certain of that. Yes, as I said, age discrimination exists but it has really little to do with anything. It's just an excuse for the firms to ding a candidate quickly and easily and hire a PPC.

      There's only so much room at the table and the rich kids feel they're entitled over you. Just more proof that law is far from a meritocracy because they didn't take the better candidate (you) they took *who they wanted*.

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    3. 1:29 here. I was 44 when I finished law school and have never experienced the discrimination you claim to have experienced. While I acknowledge that it exists, good candidates, who interview well, can over come it.

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    4. @7:24 -- of course law is not a meritocracy. Only a tiny number of lawyers ever actually get to think.

      Sadly, the practice of law (generally speaking) consists of pushing-out paper for the purpose of billing the client, thus generating revenue. There is no concern for quality, so long as the product looks nice enough. It's all a revenue generating exercise--which uses admitted lawyers rather than high-school inters to do this mindless busywork, because you get to bill the client at a higher rate with the lawyers (thus, generating more money).

      Unless a young lawyer somehow manage to distinguish yourself (in most cases, this is preordained), the firm knows that you'll be out of there within 3-5 years. That's the way they keep expenses down, by replacing you with the younger, less-expensive paper-pusher freshly out of law school.

      Sure, it sounds cynical, but think about it! Isn't it true?

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    5. Again, my 130+ applications yielded only five or six interviews. During three of them, I was asked outright "How old are you?" or "What is your age?".

      During one of the others, the interviewer expressed visible shock when he realized that I had a great deal of professional experience. He interrupted me and stammered "Wait a minute—how long ago did you graduate from university?" He laughed at the answer.

      So it's all bullshit, is it? All in my head?

      A friend used to think the same thing. He called an acquaintance who was a manager at a big law firm. The manager was most eager to talk to me until my friend mentioned my age (early forties at the time). He said point blank that they would never hire me.

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    6. I don't know what PPC stands for, but it's quite true that those law firms wanted rich kids with connections at the yacht club.

      The only problem with what you're saying, 7:24, is that rich people don't go to law school at age 45.

      1:29, did you finish law school this year? last year? the year before that? I don't know how interviewing well could have helped when I got hardly any interviews.

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    7. The letters PPC show up on TTR every once in a while.

      PPC stands for Preferred, Protected, Connected.

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    8. Old Guy, I can't believe that you refused to stand up for yourself. Those three interviews were obvious tests, and you failed. And as you indicated, you didn't get many chances to begin with.

      Those interviewers asked an aspiring lawyer--from a Top 12 school--an illegal question. They wanted to see whether, and how well, you would remind them of your legal rights. That's an important skill for lawyers to have.

      Every time you post, we find more and better explanations of your deplorable employment situation.

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    9. 12:36 it is illegal yet they probably asked the question and could easily deny saying so if Old Guy brought a labor law suit against them. Lawyers are shitbags and/or sociopaths. Fuck all lawyers.

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    10. "Old Guy, I can't believe that you refused to stand up for yourself. Those three interviews were obvious tests, and you failed. And as you indicated, you didn't get many chances to begin with.

      Those interviewers asked an aspiring lawyer--from a Top 12 school--an illegal question. They wanted to see whether, and how well, you would remind them of your legal rights. That's an important skill for lawyers to have."

      What fantasy planet do you live on? Are you a law professor?

      If a risk-averse lawyer wants to test legal knowledge, he's not going to ask a newbie lawyer a patently illegal question. For one, when lawyers have such "tests," they usually like to ask similar questions to all candidates. All it would take is two applicants talking to each other and suddenly there's corroboration of potential discrimination. Moreover, there's thousands of ways to test this sort of thing without doing anything illegal.

      "Obvious tests," for real? If they're interviewing a T14 for an entry-level position, they've already decided that person has the credentials to do the work. At that point, the interview is all about intangibles and "fit." Older people simply do not "fit" in a traditional associate position.

      In any event, if you "remind them of your legal rights," your odds of landing the position move from 1-2% to 0. By asking the question, the interviewer is already concerned the interviewee may be too young or too old. By protesting and saying the question is illegal, you get another strike for being difficult or evasive.

      The idea that lawyers would purposely break the law just to test applicants - even how applicants respond - is patently absurd. You write that "reminding them of your legal rights" is an "important skill for lawyers to have." I beg to differ. Real lawyering is about pragmatism beyond legality/illegality. From the applicant's point of view, raising the illegality not only risks the interview ending immediately, it's a confrontation without any teeth because no one in their right mind is going to sue a bunch of lawyers on a flimsy claim like age discrimination. Plus, raising the illegality telegraphs your opponent your claim so that they can develop a foolproof defense (the time to raise the illegality would be AFTER they have hired a much younger, less qualified candidate). Plus, from the firm's view, would you want to work with someone who can't deftly answer a question head-on?

      You're basically claiming that (a) the interviewer is taking a risky course for almost no benefit and that (b) the interviewee should take the riskiest possible course for almost no benefit.

      You should just apply Ockham's Razor. Interviewers ask the question because they want the answer and know they can get away with it. Illegality or no, not addressing and molding in one's favor (if necessary) will be a kiss of death.

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    11. Who says that I didn't assert my rights? I went after the bastards. Two of them were eager to settle.

      They were not testing my knowledge of my legal rights or my ability to assert them.

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    12. You settled with McDonald's and Burger King?

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  11. "Leave Law Behind." = excellent advice. If you're a decent human being, why would you want to join this miserable club?

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  12. One of the most successful lawyers I know went to an unranked (of course they were all unranked back then..but still a bottom barrel school), toilet school thirty years ago. Worked for a small sh*t law firm for a few years, went out on his own and became the consummate trial lawyer. . Regularly bags multi million dollar verdicts. Some people will rise to the top no matter where they went to school, but only doing it for themselves.

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    1. You'll always find a handful of really successful people that come out of toilet schools. I actually know of quite a few lawyers that did very well from places like Touro, New York Law School and even Cooley.

      These cases, however, are not typical, and I also think they're "older" people who graduated back during a time when there wasn't quite so big a glut of lawyers.

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  13. The sign of a great place to work is ALWAYS the fact that within the space of a few weeks (March 2014) they managed to populate their Glassdoor reviews with nothing but high praise from all kinds of employees.

    Yup, nothing scammy about that. Not a chance in hell that the boss mentioned in a meeting one day around March 2014 that he'd like (i.e. it was compulsory) everyone to log in to Glassdoor and post reviews to boost the profile of the firm.

    Shit firm. Shit lawyers from shit law schools. Shit work. Shit city. Shit life.

    Pretty much sums up both Adam's "firm" and modern American really.

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    1. So true. Law is a scumbag profession filled with fucked up people. It's a shit firm with probably huge labor turnover and run by psychopaths. You are 100% about modern American reality. You step in shit no matter where you go it seems. I want to leave.

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    2. @1:26 AM:

      Thank you. Especially the part about "sums up .... modern American reality."

      I've also come to realize this. Everything today is a scam coupled with shameless self-promotion. This is essentially putting a big Smiley Face on worker exploitation, turning it 180 degrees. That's modern America to a tee.

      All bullshit.

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    3. Scams abound everywhere. Just listen to the radio.

      We have investment scams. Buy gold. Buy silver. I've even heard buy rare seed commercials.

      Then you get every possible type of franchise advertising on the radio. I think this is the worst of all, because "unsophisticated" people give away their life savings for some dream they hear about on the radio.

      The medical profession is in on this too, with things like Lasik Vision Correction and Hair Transplants. I'd be very careful about using a doctor that advertises on the radio.

      And, of course, we have the leaders of the pack: lawyers. How many times have you heard an asbestos commercial on the radio? "If you've been exposed to asbestos, you are entitled to money." And the list goes on and on and on.

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