Thursday, April 7, 2016

Does Seton Hall Law Prof. Michael Simkovic believe that scamblog literature is a cunning ruse by highly-paid lawyers to reduce competition and increase wages in their field?

If Seton Hall Law Professor Michael Simkovic’s purportedly objective research is to be believed, law school is a tremendous investment, with minimal downside risk. [1], [2] True, many journalists and critics are in the grip of a non-econometric-based delusion that enormous educational debts and horrendous ten-month-after-graduation job placement outcomes indicate some sort of problem. But do not be surprised, in the long-run, to find these same financially insecure recent law grads flinging gobs of excess cash off their spare luxury yachts.

According to Simkovic’s research, a JD degree holder's mean lifetime earning premium is approximately one million dollars, and his or her mean annual earning premium is $57,200. [3] Even at the bottom quartile of outcomes, the fourth-tier of law grads as it were, "the value of a law degree exceeds typical net-tuition costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars." [4] These premiums do not turn on whether or not the law degree holder practices law. [5]  Not only that, but the value of a JD degree is virtually recession-proof. [6] In light of Simkovic's findings, "versatile" seems too weak a descriptor for a Juris Doctor degree. A JD is positively magical.

So, you know, if someone ever gives you the choice between a couple of hundred thousand dollars in cash and non-tuition-discounted enrollment at a lower-tier law school, by all means choose the latter. The laughter and looks of disbelief that follow will actually be meant as expressions of admiration for your econometrically-informed wisdom. 

Now, it is a fact that Simkovic has a cushy gig as a lawprof at a non-elite law school, a position that can only be maintained by a constant infusion of students willing to borrow enormous sums of money to pursue a JD degree. It is also the case that Simkovic’s ongoing research has been funded via six-figure grants from two affluent law-school controlled nonprofit organizations-- the Access Group (a former student loan originator that has funded over $18 billion worth of educational loans, and that now funds research and symposia into, inter alia, the "value of legal education") and the Law School Admissions Council (which administers the LSAT, but also exists to "provide services" for the law school community, and which is the source of grants to organizations that tout law school to high school children as the best way to achieve idealistic goals, such as saving the dolphins).

However, Simkovic has contended that his findings are not influenced by his economic self-interest, and I accept that this is so– at least on a conscious level. But does Simkovic courteously extend to critics the same presumption of non-bias that he generously grants to himself? Well, no, he does not. In fact, Simkovic accuses scambloggers of having a devious economic motivation in warning young people about the risks of law school. In a footnote included in one of his law review articles, Simkovic states:
"The "scamblog" literature, in which ostensibly disgruntled lawyers. . . advise others not to follow in their career footsteps, may reflect efforts by the shrewdest and most highly paid skilled workers to reduce competition and increase wages in their own fields." [7]
Let’s think for a moment about this comment. Simkovic seems to be asserting that scamblog literature is some kind of ruse de guerre. We lawyers and law grads who have posted and commented at dissident blogs such as Inside the Law School Scam, Outside the Law School Scam, Third Tier Reality, and Law School Truth Center are so Machiavellian that we have merely created an elaborate pretense that the legal job market is swamped, that wages are stagnant, that our enormously expensive legal education was a bitter farce, and that our profession is frequently highly stressful and disillusioning. The warnings of the scambloggers, then, are a kind of reverse Potemkin Village, a shrewd attempt to persuade others not to horn in our million dollar JD bonanzas.

But would lawyers really devote many uncompensated hours to publicizing a nonexistent scam in order to "reduce competition and increase wages in [our] own field"? The problem with this novel conspiracy theory is that a kid's decision to attend law school, or even the decision of a whole bunch of kids to attend law school, will have only the most attenuated and indirect impact on the competition and wages of established lawyers. Certainly, any hypothetical several-years-down-the-road competition from prospective One-Ls is remote.

On the flip side, however, there are a group of people with an immediate and overwhelming vested interest in scam denial-- that is to say, in promoting law school enrollment and minimizing the risks. These people are called law professors, law deans, and law school administrators, including the million dollar scholar himself, Michael Simkovic. Their enormous salaries, light workloads, and perks galore all rest on the increasingly shaky platform of a kid's decision to go into debt to obtain a JD. 

Again, no accusations of deceit here, or even conscious bias. But bias created by self-interest can be unconscious, even automatic. In Mark Twain's folksy rendering, "You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I'll tell you what his 'pinions is." (For "'pinions," feel free to substitute: "econometrics"). That is why the few honorable critics from within the system get so much well-deserved attention and respect--they are making statements against their own interest, which the law has long recognized as particularly credible.

Therefore, perhaps Simkovic's footnote should read instead:
"The law school promotional literature, in which ostensibly neutral law professors advise others to enroll in law school, may reflect efforts by the shrewdest and most highly paid academics to keep their gravy train rolling."
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notes:

[1] See Simkovic, Michael and McIntyre, Frank, The Economic Value of a Law Degree (April 13, 2013). HLS Program on the Legal Profession Research Paper No. 2013-6. Available at SSRN:

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2250585
(last revised November 26, 2014), p. 16-17

Please note: The ssrn web address above is to a non-final version of Simkovic & McIntryre’s paper, as are my citations to this article, unless otherwise noted. The final version of The Economic Value of a Law Degree was published in the Journal of Legal Studies, and is not available online unless you are willing to shell out $14 at the JSTOR site. See Michael Simkovic & Frank McIntyre, The Economic Value of a Law Degree, 43 J. Legal Stud. 249 (2014). However, Simkovic describes the revisions that appear in the final version in this blog post at TaxProf blog:

"Simkovic & McIntyre: The Economic Value of a Law Degree: $1 Million" (November 1, 2014)

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/11/simkovic-mcintyre.html

[2] See TaxProf Blog, "McIntyre & Simkovic: Lifetime Value of Law Degree Drops Only $30k For Those Who Graduate Into a Poor Economy" (March 10, 2015) (quoting Simkovic's description of the "key takeaways" of his new research paper "Timing Law School"):
"The best time to go to law school is the earliest point possible after which you make the decision that you’d eventually like to go. By waiting, you’re spending more of your limited working life working for lower wages, and you aren’t changing your chances of graduating into a more favorable economy."
[3] See Simkovic & McIntyre, The Economic Value of a Law Degree (April 13, 2013), p. 41 ("Rounding to the nearest $10,000, we find that the mean value of a law degree is $990,000. . . These figures are in present value as of the start of law school, and are pre-tax and pre-tuition. In other words, these figures reflect the maximum that a combination of the government and the student should be willing to pay in direct costs, such as tuition, for a law degree").

See also TaxProf Blog, "Simkovic & McIntyre: The Economic Value of a Law Degree: $1 Million" (November 1, 2014) (quoting Simkovic describing final revisions to his paper): ("These changes increase the annual earnings premium a little bit. It's about $57,000 per year on average, now, as opposed to around $53,000 before.")

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/11/simkovic-mcintyre.html

[4]  See Simkovic & McIntyre, The Economic Value of a Law Degree (April 13, 2013), p. 41 ("These results suggest that even at the 25th percentile, the value of a law degree exceeds typical net-tuition costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars").

[5] See Simkovic & McIntyre, The Economic Value of a Law Degree (April 13, 2013), p. 8 ("The economic value of a law degree turns not on whether law graduates practice law, but rather on how much more readily they find work with the law degree than they would have without, and how much more they earn with the law degree than they would have without").

[6] See TaxProf Blog, "McIntyre & Simkovic: Lifetime Value of Law Degree Drops Only $30k For Those Who Graduate Into a Poor Economy" (March 10, 2015) (quoting Simkovic's description of the "key takeaways" of his new research paper entitled "Timing Law School"): ("The luck of timing (graduating into a good or bad economy) matters for the first few years, but in the long run, doesn’t make much of a difference").

[7] Michael Simkovic, Risk-Based Student Loans, 70 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 527, 602 n.186 (2013). Available here:
http://scholarlycommons.law.wlu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4313&context=wlulr

67 comments:

  1. Perhaps, when Michael Simkovic takes the tinfoil off his head, he can pack it in his ass. After all, that's what $eTTon Haul's grads can do with their law degrees.

    For $ome rea$on, he "forgot" to mention how well-paid the underworked "law professors" are, in his paper. He also conveniently failed to note that his salary is dependent on enrolling as many lemmings as possible, and that he has a vested interest in keeping the gravy train rolling along.

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    1. I used to wonder where they got a ridiculous name like "Seton Hall." I recently concluded that it's simply an illiterate misspelling of "Satan (at) Hell."

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    2. Ever since I found it, I've been rereading that blog BIG DEBT, SMALL LAW as preserved through the Internet Wayback Machine. L4L never tired of pointing out how Cozen O'Connor, THE MASSIVE LAW FIRM DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE LAW SCHOOL, didn't even participated in the school's OCI. And IMHO, L4L was right to mention that so frequently.

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    3. "Hall" imparts an upper-crusty mystique to any two-bit hackademic institution. Rather than adopting the vulgar name Indiana Tech, Fort Wayne's finest law skule should have styled itself Dougie Fresh Hall.

      Harvard's dormitories, like those of Cambridge, are called houses. One of them would have been named after a certain president named Hoar, but the university decided against erecting a Hoar House on campus.

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    4. Would a whore house be a more reputable or less reputable institution than a law school?

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  2. Oh no! Simkovic has caught on. I'll surely be exposed as the $1100/hour NYC Biglaw partner who secretly scamblogs on the side.
    Yes, it's all part of an elaborate "counterscam." My real goal is to keep all those Toileteers from snapping up all my Biglaw business.


    At some point I have to wonder whether Simkovic actually believes the nonsense he spews. I mean, most people couldn't bring themselves to write such errant nonsense without laughing themselves to death. Is it possible that the nest of pubic hair on his scalp has worked its way into his brain and is interfering with his neural connections?

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    1. It is a well-known FACT that my J.D. confers innumerable advantages upon my business. FACT: I would not be able to construct a stone wall without knowing the Erie Doctrine. FACT: It is impossible to pour concrete without knowing the latest about the intersectionality between Bulgarian critical transgender theory and Jewish standards of masculinity. FACT: You must read and critique at least 10 Scalia dissents before you could hope to install a backsplash.

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    2. That comment about pubic hair was mean but hilarious. Maybe Simkovic is a grafter in more senses than one.

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    3. I would think that, due to his absurd and destructive ideas, we should take whatever potshots we can at Simkovic's affected professorial dignity. On the other hand, he's actually a fairly good-looking guy. He's probably a pretty good speaker as well, which could explain why in print he tends to get intoxicated by his own rhetoric, to the near-total exclusion of decency and reality.

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    4. Handsome is as handsome does. By that standard, Simkovic is as ugly as sin.

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  3. "The "scamblog" literature, in which ostensibly disgruntled lawyers. . . advise others not to follow in their career footsteps, may reflect efforts by the shrewdest and most highly paid skilled workers to reduce competition and increase wages in their own fields."

    I have no idea how Simkovic developed this conspiracy theory which conflicts with the usual portrayal of scam bloggers as being unsuccessful lawyers who couldn't get work and live in their parents basements. I typically see the scam bloggers as a bunch of economically pressed attorneys, typically solos, who know that they will not be receiving a reprieve from the economic system in which they are currently entangled.

    On the 20 times a year or less, I write a comment on a scam blog, I'm either venting, or hoping that I help some anonymous libtard arts major, who is going to law school simply because they don't know what they want to do with their life. If I can help someone avoid the life error I made, that's a good thing.

    Objectively, however, I don't gain anything economically by posting here, and I doubt anyone else does.


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    1. It is indeed interesting how this works....first, the scambloggers were lazy, slacker, inept kids who didn't want to "work hard" and wanted jobs handed to them on a silver platter. Now, a scant few years later, the scambloggers are captains of their industry, shrewdly running a false-flag operation in order to rake in even more dollars and the expense of...lazy, slacker kids who don't want to work hard...?

      The whiplash is killing me. And, somehow, I still missed the gravy-train I am allegedly part of. You guys clue me in and stop freezing me out, OK?

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    2. Yeah, it's like the reversal that took place after the scamblog movement first started. At first the law schools were outraged that they were being accused of screwing their students. Then, as the lawsuits progressed, they pivoted. "Suckers! It's your fault you were stupid enough to believe us!"

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  4. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingApril 7, 2016 at 8:46 AM

    I have been posting for several years on these forums. I will admit that I want to "limit" my competition from the hoards and hoards of newbies being pumped out. As a 26 year Solo, I am exhausted running around chasing 3 bill retail thefts. I would like to earn what attorneys earned for the same work during the 80s and 90s....$1500. It's now a Walmart race to the bottom for any shred of work. Professor, go to any courthouse across the country---rural, urban and suburban and ask any Solo what fee she received from the client to appear in court. Shocking. Don't look to us Scam Bloggers, check for yourself.

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  5. I for one definitely don't want a wave of law school grads showing up to the factory where I work, driving down the high, high, $15/hr wage I earn. If it wasn't for my law degree, I'd probably be collecting aluminum cans for $3,000 a year! Thank Goodness I have that 30,000/yr earnings premium of a JD!

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  6. I work in a state government job and barring economic catastrophe, am protected by my 20 plus years of seniority. In any event, we haven’t hired any new attorneys in five years, so the volume of cannon fodder emitted by the law schools from year to year has no effect on me. That said, I suspect there are some solos (like the Captain) who have turned to the scam blogs after seeing what the super-saturation of legal field has done to their bottom line. So what? When the solo tells a potential lemming to avoid law school, the advice is based upon the fact on the ground, not some lie about a “million dollar law degree.”

    One other thing, I don’t know of any scam bloggers who say going to law school is automatically a bad idea. It depends on the circumstances. Hell, even Seton Hall can make sense assuming you have solid job connections and/or make law review - particularly if you don’t have to take on debt. Simkovic seems incapable of making such distinctions. For him, law school is always a good idea, whether you’re a Kennedy heading off the Harvard or a low aptitude trailer park kid who takes on six figures of debt to attend Cooley.

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    1. Agreed. Maybe Simkovic does take student loan debt into his analysis, but it appears to be debt not on the level of what is out there currently.

      He certainly comes across as someone who never had to deal with debt-for-decades himself, thus the seeming cavalier attitude toward it all. Life is different where the rubber meets the road.

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    2. I agree. By all means go if Daddy Warbucks or your trustee will write one check for tuition and another for your elegant penthouse overlooking the Hudson River. If you come from the trailer park, however, think twice about Harvard, and not at all about Cooley.


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  7. How can Simkovic sleep?

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    1. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingApril 7, 2016 at 4:57 PM

      He doesn't. That gives him time to come up with this drivel.

      Delete
  8. I've posted BLS numbers monthly for several years, during which total legal industry employment hasn't budged. I aimed this effort at snowflakes to show them the U.S. gov't corroborated the bitter loser scambloggers. Now, only the terminally credulous and Simkovic still think law school is a good idea.

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  9. "The "scamblog" literature, in which ostensibly disgruntled lawyers. . . advise others not to follow in their career footsteps, may reflect efforts by the shrewdest and most highly paid skilled workers to reduce competition and increase wages in their own fields." [7]"

    LOL. One of the key points to the market for new lawyers is how stratified the market is by the prestige of the law school you attended. (Considerably more so than medicine, for instance.)

    So bluntly, the job prospects of a HYS graduate are not affected in the slightest by whether Seton Hall graduates 1000 graduates or no graduates.

    The idea that the law school scam is invented by graduates of top tier schools, so they don't have to compete against graduates of Thomas Jefferson or Santa Clara is ludicrous - these graduates occupy completely different labor markets.

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    1. This is a good point. Thanks to movies and television, most kids grow up thinking that being a lawyer means either big law or trying homicide cases as an ADA in Manhattan. The fact is, the vast majority of law school graduates have zero chance of obtaining those jobs due to the law school they attended, the grades they got in law school, or some combination of the two. If the law school sorting machine places you at anything worse than law review at a second tier school, you’re probably going to find yourself on the outside looking in.

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    2. No they really don't. Sooner or later, most lawyers, absent government lawyers . .if they can stand a career of bureacuracy, end up as solos or in small firms . . . and those firms have graduates from the first tiers to the fourth tiers and worse.

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    3. I disagree with 2:07. Many lawyers from Harvard or Yale do end up as solos or in small firms, but that doesn't mean that they're in the same labor market as their so-called counterparts from Thomas Jefferson and Santa Clara. A decade from now, there will be many financially successful lawyers from Harvard's class of 2016 but hardly any from Thomas Jefferson's.

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    4. You don't need a super high iq to be a successful lawyer. My guess is the average iq of the average lawyer from the average law school is about 120. That's more than enough to be competent. Add personality and tenacity and you have a potentially very successful lawyer. Having an elite iq or education may open more doors but not likely to make a person a better lawyer.

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    5. Even if that is true, it is completely off the topic. As 9:26 said, the prestige of the law school matters more than any of that.

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    6. In response to 7:28, of course, there are a few “hustlers” from bottom feeder law schools who, because of personality, tenacity, self confidence etc ... go on to have very successful and lucrative legal careers even though they were never Davis Polk material. However, those types are very much the exception to the rule. The typical third tier graduate will be lucky to end up at an ID mill where the working conditions are poor, the hours are long, and pay is mediocre. Many won’t even get that. Also, the hustler type probably could have been successful in any number of careers that didn’t involve attending (and paying for) three years of law school (sales, bond trader, real estate etc ...).

      One final thing, I think you underestimate the importance of "open doors" for the vast majority of grads. The guy who starts out as a metropolitan ADA, a federal agency, or big law firm has a decent chance of making it as a lawyer (and yes, I know, there are no guarantees). However, the guy who spends the first two years out of law school hopping between unemployment, unpaid internships, and document review is probably screwed even if he had the potential to be a good lawyer.

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    7. Perhaps...I can't speak for graduating today. I only know as a former mid law practitoner, now a solo, having been a trial lawyer for the last 30 plus years, it never concerns me in the least where my opposition went to school. That is never a consideration in judging their competence. The most successful lawyers I know went to average law schools. Maybe though the elites never try cases..but where are they? They are not the state court judges, not necessarily the federal district judges either. They are not trying cases in front of juries best i can tell. I woould guses they are hiding out inhouse somewhere, but then they are not real lawyers, only bureaucrats.

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  10. Are you folks prepared for the bullshit this guy spews after the new job numbers come out (which should be within a month)?

    As we already know, this guy's M.O. is to cherrypick evidence in a quest to support arguments that are at best marginal. After all, the methodology for timeframe selection in the "Million Dollar" study would have been considered disingenuous if the paper had been aimed at economists rather than legal academics (who are famously bad at understanding numbers). In fact, economists (at least the ones worth a damn) would've stopped reading after discovering the significance of omitting the most recent, and most detailed, graduate employment data.

    Back to the point.

    Beware: the numbers may actually be respectable for Seton Hall. The reason is that last year FT/LT placements (excluding solos) were 204 (out of 266 entrants, eventually increasing to 285). However, The class entering 2012 was 196 matriculants. In other words, Seton Hall did the right thing at the time and decreased its class sizes. The result is that more C/O 2014 grads got law jobs than C/O 2015 grads who will pass the bar.

    Good for Seton Hall. Lowering class size is the right thing to do for schools that can't place graduates. I don't want this comment to sound like a criticism of the Law School. But that doesn't mean that this disingenuous "economist" won't try to claim these passable outcomes as an anecdote of graduate employment generally. Seton Hall is the exception; it's not the rule.

    What I mean to say is that within a month Simkovic will predictably be doing a myopically-timed victory dance. This will probably last until scambloggers remind him that well over 20% of graduates from the C/O 2015 will still be without a job to pay off the $100K in debt that they didn't need to take, working whatever job they could find to pay their cell phone bills.

    These inevitable defaulters can hardly be said to have a $1 million degree -- the homogeneous value that he claimed that any law degree is empirically worth. Be forewarned.

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    1. Nah, Seton Hall did the wrong thing at the time by decreasing class size as it denied 60-odd applicants their million dollar windfalls!

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  11. I agree with you all that Prof. Simkovic needs to get out of his ivory tower once in a while and explore the actual conditions on the ground. Tell me NONE of his former students is un/underemployed and could not show him around the trenches a little bit?

    I'm sure the law school industry (and allies) are more than happy to fund Prof. Simkovic's work, as it creates a "scholarly" counterpoint to the rough-hewn scamblogs, especially when packaged by education industry lobbyists for the policymakers in Washington who are the ultimate determiners of Federal loan policy, i.e., whether the Loan Gravy Train continues.

    Knowing the purpose of these "scholarly" "economic" articles about "how valuable" the J.D. is, one of us ought to get the list of Seton Hall's recent graduates and poll them about their careers and earnings. Then write up our OWN scholarly article for policymakers; this would become the counterpoint to Prof. Simkovic's work, contrasting the real outcomes of the Professor's own law graduates to the rosy national outcomes he writes about.

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  12. All right, Dybbuk, the jig is up. Simkovic has exposed us. Let's admit that Outside the Law School Scam has never been anything but a cynical, self-serving plot to fatten our wallets by micro-sizing the legal profession and sidetracking brilliant and deserving would-be jurists otherwise bound for the likes of stately Seton Hall.

    To be sure, we have freely admitted that we hold jobs as lawyers. But we have never confessed our malicious purpose of keeping two graduates per year from getting a piece of our good thing. After all, we don't need our salaries, since we get vastly more income from the scam-blog scam.

    Go ahead and tell everyone about the sinful honoraria that you collect from the lecture circuit. I can't keep up with your jet-setting schedule, but I know all about the Tuscan retreat, the Kenyan safari (complete with swimming pool right in your hotel room), and the exclusive conference at the Waldorf-Astoria where you defamed long-suffering law professors as wicked witches.

    Meanwhile, I've been raking it in with my fraudulent book on the New York Times best-seller list. (Guy, Old. The Million-Dollar Scam-Blog: Bilking Brain-Dead 0Ls and the Public Coffers for Fun and Profit. South Orange, NJ: $eton Hall UP, 2016.) Why, I'm suffering writer's cramp from yet another batch of autographed copies. I've just sold the movie rights, and soon every shopping mall will feature a line of overpriced Old Guy athletic shoes.

    True, for years no employer would give me the time of day: age-based discrimination closed the door of the legal profession to me even though I finished at the top of the class of an élite law school. I've never stopped harping on that. But I've carefully concealed, for my own nefarious purposes, the fact that the Million-Dollar JD™ has nonetheless paved my path with bricks of gold.

    There. I feel much better after that cathartic mea culpa. You too should shrive your guilty soul. Perhaps the divine Simkovic, brimming over with the milk of lovingkindness, will put in a good word for us with Saint Peter.

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    1. Brilliant, hilarious comment.

      Now that the jig is up, I am worried that we scambloggers might be subject to class action lawsuits by aggrieved readers who were dissuaded by our unfair and misleading critique of law schools from attending a JD program and collecting their near-certain million dollar bonanzas.

      But I am confident that the plaintiffs in such lawsuits will be unable to demonstrate reasonable reliance. Who would rely on a bunch of self-interested and highly-paid scambloggers when a minimally diligent consumer of higher education would have sought out more accurate sources of information, such as industry-funded studies and promotional literature?

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    2. Truly hilarious comment! (And welcome back, Old Guy!)

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    3. And a brilliant response to a brilliant comment, dybbuk.

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  13. These people really need to spend time outside of the ivory tower.

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    1. Someone needs to do a study to figure out how much time people who teach law have actually practiced law.

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    2. Some of them do not hold the Million-Dollar Degree™ themselves. How they can possibly teach others remains a mystery to me. But who am I to criticize my betters? I'm too inept even to find my million-dollar pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

      Practicing law for more than two years will scupper one's chances of a regular job as a law professor.

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    3. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingApril 13, 2016 at 9:16 AM

      Old Guy, perhaps you have some sort of intellectual disability? You rode the short bus to grammar school? According to the April 10, 2016 income and salary edition of Parade Magazine, Attorney Brian D. Bixby, 63 of Boston earned $875K last year.

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  14. In the rush of traveling back to "the States" after my spring vacay to the Maldives, I completely missed that Old Guy and Dybbuk gave up the "jig."

    I am, in fact, a senior white-shoe BigLaw partner masquerading as a law school critic who masquerades on yet another blog as a parody of legal education apologists all to throw people off the scent. It's terribly complicated, but I get it, because I'm a superstar Harvard graduate.

    Despite the fact that I have a well-compensated lifestyle and bill two thousand plus each year - not to mention all the ass-kissing and mistress-schtupping - I just couldn't resist the opportunity to troll you all and ensure that you won't come anywhere near competing for jobs you have almost no chance at getting any time soon whether you go to law school or not.

    Hey, if I were a rational actor, think I would be doing this gig?

    (I want my cut.)

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  15. Commentary on the scam hits the Chronicle of Higher Ed.

    http://chronicle.com/article/Are-Financially-Desperate-Law/236041

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    1. Glad to see this. As has been said more than once on this blog alone, the scam hurts low-income, low-information and/or URM students the most.

      Thus, the tone-deaf, cynical proclamations of ScamDeans and LawProfs are made all the worse. They are hurting the very people they intend to help with their limo-libby talk-is-cheap platitudes while looking down their noses at the scambloggers who deign to proclaim reality.

      We all know where their bread is getting buttered, and it doesn't have to do with trite notions of "justice", leemee tell ya.

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  16. HLS graduate cum laude. Federal clerk in SDNY. Years at one V10 law firm in a transactional capacity. No other job.

    Cannot even get an interview - not even while working at the V!0 job. Applications are disappearing into cyberspace.

    If Harvard Law School and great and skills and experience as a transactional lawyer don't produce any interest from employers on the open market, the premise that there is a monetary premium even for a Harvard Law degree is questionable.

    Yes, the V10 law firm paid well, but if the future is unemployment or working in retail, the good pay will be eaten up by the bad years to come. The premium needs to be figured after the cost of law school. If it is very hard to work as a lawyer after a certain age, that needs to be figured in as well.

    The opportunity cost here was not going to med school, where I would have a good shot of working till retirement.

    If the premium here consists of a few years in big law or at big in house, after which I am unemployable for the rest of my career, is there really a premium for a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law with a prestige federal clerkship?

    There is a need to revisit the worth of even the top law degrees. It may just be that a Harvard degree is devalued by the sheer number of Harvard Law graduates, people whose careers cannot be justified by the demand for legal services.

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    1. Wow. I am very sorry to read this. But, it needs to be said, indeed, shouted from the roof tops. A HLS V10 can't get an interview.

      What makes you think YOU, with your BA in communication studies and your rank-unpublished-law degree, no job experience, no contacts, and $250,000 in debt can?

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    2. Nobody should go into Law thinking that they will be employable by somebody else. If you go into Law today, you have to assume you will be working for yourself and that means one of two things: Get the cheapest degree you can get or if you get an expensive degree, better hope your prospects for big law are good.

      Florida A&M law instate is only about 14K tuition. That is no more than many undergrad tuition rates and lower than many. That is doable if you want to get the degree to take the bar and get the license. Whether the license is worth it is a judgment call, but not everybody hates being a lawyer, especially those able to make a decent living working for themselves.

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    3. Working for yourself is more easily said than done. Even people with decades at the bar are struggling, to say nothing of recent graduates of Horrida A&M.

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    4. Working for yourself is insane if you are starting from scratch. If you find yourself unemployed after practicing law for a decade or so, you just simply need to accept that you will have to change careers.

      This is a must read for everyone:

      http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=261392

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    5. If you are seriously considering getting a cheap law degree and going solo as a career plan, you might as well skip law school and do whatever you can with a Bachelor's. The JD won't do you much good when you get disbarred for malpractice because you have no idea what you're doing.

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    6. The problem with going to a Florida A&M for free is the same as the problem with Harvard Law today, but magnified 1000 times. Even for free, a person is potentially facing a lifetime of inability to work continuously in a full-time permanent job as a lawyer. The oversupply of lawyers has killed the job market.

      Sure, you may be able to work sporadically or be a solo, but is Harvard or A&M really worth it if you are going to spend days or years on your sofa submitting internet job applications for no pay and not be able to find full-time permanent work as a lawyer, except sporadically throughout your working life. Even for free, these law schools are bad deals if you are going to spend a lot of time involuntarily out of work.

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    7. @4:50

      One, the hiring market at firms is horrible BECAUSE the legal services market in GENERAL is flooded. The firms are already eating up all the good cases and they're still starving for enough work. You're only kidding yourself if you think there's some great untapped and lucrative market in small-time legal work.

      And 14K annually for FAMU?!? What a fucking bargain. That's over 40K for...a piece of paper. 40K would buy you enough equipment to launch you into some specialist trades. And if a trade business goes south, you can pawn or auction off the equipment, thus regaining much of your startup capital. Ever take a look at the resale value of a law degree? Last time I looked, it was a big fat ZERO.

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  17. It would be useful to get posts about the displacement factor for doctors, so that people in a position to chose understand the risks of going into a profession like law vs medicine. In medicine, about 6% of MD grads of US schools don't match initially. Maybe half or two thirds of those match later on. Maybe the non-match rate is 2%to 3%at most for grads of U.S. MD schools.

    For DOs the match rate has been 100% because they have their own residencies plus the MD residencies, which is soon to change.

    At a Caribbean med school, the chances of matching are about 50%, something closer to the success rates of law schools.

    Once the doctor completes the residency, there are jobs waiting in many specialties. Look at the ads. There are ample jobs for internal medicine, the easiest to match to, in my geographic area, and they are not limited by experience level or specific types of experience, as most law jobs are. Medical jobs are not purple squirrel jobs like most experienced law jobs are.

    Medicine looks much better than law from the outside. Does not seem to have the huge number of firings as lawyers do, or a huge number of unemployed doctors who have completed residencies, or the huge dropout rate of experienced professionals due to lack of jobs, as law does. The easiest specialty, internal medicine, is a good opportunity to earn $180,000, or at least $150,000 for as long as the doctor is willing and able to work.

    In terms of opportunity costs of not going to med school, going to any law school is a net loss, not a premium.

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    1. There is no question that as a career option, medicine is a better choice than law in the vast majority of cases. However, as a practical matter, this is not a choice that presents itself very often. The overwhelming majority of grads who go to law school did not take the undergrad course load required by medical schools. On a more fundamental level, most law students lack the aptitude and discipline required to gain admittance to a US medical school (and I certainly count myself amongst this group). There is no such thing as a toilet US medical school. The Caribbean schools exist for the simple reason that so many pre-med grads can’t gain admittance to even the least selective medical school in the US. Contrast that with the disgraceful state of legal education, where the only real admittance requirement at dozens of ABA accredited schools is the ability to fill out a student loan application.

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    2. Law SHOULDN'T be an option for most people; it should require every bit as much aptitude and discipline as medicine. Unfortunately, that's not the case.

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    3. Law SHOULDN'T require every bit as much aptitude, because it DOESN'T require every bit as much aptitude. Law is not as complex.

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    4. It depends what you are doing, If you are representing large organizations with complex problems or litigation, law is not simple. You really think winning an important case in the United States Supreme Court or clerking in the SDNY is not complex? Or that the job of a district judge in federal court is not complex? If you are defending DUIs for small dollars and not doing any legal research in the process, law is not complex.

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  18. Most grads of the T8 law schools have the aptitude to get into a ranked US allopathic med school. Many chose law based on an information gap. The classes for med school can be taken after college.

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    1. Really? The most sophisticated students from the highest SES backgrounds were simply not aware that medicine was a better paying career? No. As 11:43 states above "...most law students lack the aptitude and discipline required to gain admittance to a US medical school..." Even at the T8, law school is a refuge for the liberal artist who is incapable of rigorous scientific study.

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    2. Many of us went to law school before the days of the internet. The data that would have been available would have been locatable on card catalogues that were searchable through the Dewey Decimal system. Any data would be sporadic and unreliable since it had to be responded to in person, by phone or by mail, and would have been old.

      Many people (myself included) went to Harvard, Yale, Princeton or Stanford as undergrads, were stronger in the math and science than the verbal and did not go to college in the information age. If you graduated from college before the year 2000, you were not part of the information age. If no one you knew well was a doctor, you were not that likely to become a doctor. These schools had acceptance rates to medical school well in the 90s percentiles - maybe as high as 97% for those finishing the pre-med program satisfactorily. Same thing with the post-bac programs. For those completing the program successfully, there was a very high med school acceptance rate.

      Today, with the internet, people can easily look at recent salary data and find information on employment prospects. Before the year 2000, it was much, much harder.

      First I heard that lawyers made less than doctors was after practicing several years. A colleague got a divorce and had to pay his wife half of the difference between his MD degree at a T45 med school and his law degree at a T4 law school. The payment was very large.

      Since most grads of top law schools got high paying jobs out of law school, the salary differences between doctors and lawyers were not that evident. It was not until people started losing big law jobs and finding few good jobs out there that the difference became so evident. Today these job losses occur much sooner and the landing is much harder, so the gap between law and medicine has only widened by huge margins.

      It is crazy to suggest that someone who went to a top undergrad school, like Harvard, Yale, Princeton or Stanford, took pre-med math and science classes there and did very well in the classes and on standardized tests does not have the smarts or discipline to be a doctor. Many could have and should have, but did not because there was a massive information gap in the pre-Internet age.

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    3. I used to believe that myself 12:48, but then what I discovered is that many physicians are not all that smart or disciplined. About 10% of them are worth their weight in gold . . . the rest . . . meh.

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    4. Agreed 12:25.

      It *is* crazy to "suggest that someone who went to a top undergrad school, like Harvard, Yale, Princeton or Stanford, took pre-med math and science classes there and did very well in the classes and on standardized tests does not have the smarts or discipline to be a doctor." That's why I never suggested that, or anything like it.

      Is the profile you describe typical of the median law student, even in the T14, or T8, or T3? No. The typical undergraduate major of the median law student--even at the top schools--is poly sci, history, or English (sans pre-med requirements). And I'm not talking about "someone who went to a top undergrad school...took pre-med math and science classes there and did very well in the classes and on standardized tests", I'm talking about law students in elite law schools. The elite schools draw from hundreds of institutions, not just the Ivy+ schools. Nowhere are law school classes chock full of would be doctors with 35 MCATs, and straight A's in pre-med classes. For the majority of elite law students, which is a group quite distinct from the all-star students you describe, medicine isn't a viable option. That's long been the case, at least as far back as the early 2000's.

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  19. As someone who doesn't work in law, never did and most likely never will, this doesn't really apply to me; law school graduates aren't my future competition. If anything, them getting the JD and putting those scarlet letters on their resumes actually HELPS me when competing for non-legal jobs, since non-legal employers really don't want to hire JDs.

    But seriously, I still do my part to warn potential law school victims whenever I get the chance.

    And now that I think about it... wouldn't it be hilarious if law school students started gunning for law professor jobs instead of Biglaw jobs? Imagine Simkovic et al trying to protect their own jobs from the gunners!

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  20. One of the reasons that medicine is not glutted is that Congress capped the number of residencies, which are funded mostly by Medicare, Medicaid and federal tax dollars, in 1997. The trajectory of degree holders vs jobs became radically different in medicine as opposed to law after that time since there was a limit on the number of medical residencies. Law schools meantime were able to graduate as many students as they could get their hands on. These enrollment trends resulted in an upward pressure on doctors' income and a sharp reduction in lawyers' income on the whole.

    For anyone graduating college before the year 2000, the different trajectories of law vs. medicine were not yet apparent.

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  21. This discussion of law versus medicine as career choices seems focused only on academic aptitude and earnings. I don't think anyone should attend law school, but I also don't think people should attend medical school just because they aced organic chemistry in undergrad. Medicine may provide high levels of compensation, but it's a difficult profession, requiring skills that have nothing to do with how smart you are. Can you handle seeing people who are in pain, or are dying? Can you stay calm in emergency situations, when lives may literally be on the line? Can you deal with really gross situations -- gruesome injuries, infections, bodily fluids, etc.? Can you show compassion even when chronically sleep-deprived? Medicine is a vastly better career choice than law, but for someone to choose that path simply because they did well in science classes and have a vague desire to "help people" is being almost as naive as most of the law school lemmings. Fortunately, most medical schools require applicants to have some substantial volunteer experience in a medical setting, to help weed out the people who just have no idea what the medical profession is all about.

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    1. I've been practicing law for almost 19 years. I hate to admit it, but lately my Registered Nurse wife has been making more money than me. She only has an associates degree. She makes more money than me usually these days and she actually has pretty good benefits. I have none.

      I'm lucky to get paid. Several times recently I haven't gotten paid or my salary check has been short. My boss is slowly trying to pay us back. We have four offices with four lawyers, one of which owns all the offices. He's supposed to pay us a percentage of the fees on cases we bring in to but that hasn't happened in over eight months. We all stick with it though because there aren't any jobs out there. We're only a couple of grand behind on salary payments. I think I'm owed $2,700 on my salary and several thousand on bonuses but I don't expect to ever get paid that. Odds are the business just goes under. Then we'll be out competing with new grads and everyone else looking for work.

      If my RN wife lost her job tomorrow morning she could probably have a new job by tomorrow afternoon. There are so many jobs in the medical field that are like that. Doctors make a lot more money than lawyers but there are all sorts of jobs in the medical field that pay about what lawyers make on average or more. Lawyers are just going to make less and less money because there are more and more of us every year competing for a finite amount of work.

      If I were king we'd close half the law schools and double the number of medical schools and send most people to medical school for free or at reduced rates if their grades and test scores are high enough. Half the new doctors in this country are foreigners, maybe more than half. That's certainly the way it is in my town. We need to create a glut in doctors. Maybe that would cause them to start reducing their prices. We're going to need more doctors and nurses and medical professionals of every stripe now that Baby Boomers are becoming senior citizens with greater medical needs.

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  22. "Can you handle seeing people who are in pain, or are dying?"

    Well, in law, you not only get to see and talk to these people, but you get to write briefs about them while reading a thousand pages of medical records about their medical condition.

    In one of my recent hearings, I spent quality time discussing a colostomy bag.

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  23. I think the lawyers trying discourage people from going to law school are more often the lawyers who are barely making it, which would be most lawyers these days it seems. Man, this is a tough way to make a living and it's only going to get worse. In my area the median income for lawyers has dropped to $54,000 a year. Hardly anyone is making over a hundred grand. Many can't keep the lights on in their offices.

    I work for a guy who has four offices and I don't know how much longer it will last. Often we're not getting paid. We lawyers are supposed to be getting bonuses for business we bring in but it's been over eight months since any of us have gotten those. I'm owed thousands in bonus checks and salary checks I haven't gotten. We're paying our own licensing fees now, paying out of our own pockets for continuing legal education, and often having to pay for office supplies out of our own pockets. The economy is in the toilet. It's especially bad in our area because we are so dependent on oil and gas revenues and prices have dropped through the floor. We do criminal defense and judges are no longer really making any inquiry as to whether people are indigent. The public defender is appointed in most every case.

    I have court two hours away in the morning. We'll barely make any money on that case when you consider all the travel time and fuel costs and wear and tear on the company vehicle, but we have to take whatever we can get. We keep lowering our prices, taking super low money down payment plans and collecting on a fraction of what we charge so often. Things were already bad before oil and gas prices tanked, and now I wonder if I'll get paid Friday. I wonder if I'll have a job next week. Will I be competing with the 36,000 new law grads and all the recent grads who haven't gotten jobs yet and the other experienced attorneys who have lost their jobs for one of those 19,000 law jobs that are supposed to open up in 2016? Not only would I discourage anyone from going to law school now I wish I had a time machine and could go back twenty something years and not go myself.

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