Wednesday, January 25, 2017

2,000,000 Page Views

Back around October 2014, this blog reached 1,000,000 page views.  Just a little over two years later, we have recently surpassed the 2,000,000 mark, and I thought a short review was in order.

First of all, it is gratifying to see that a sea-change finally took place within the movement.  The first two to three years of OTLSS was regularly peppered with mockery, derision, and disbelief concerning the idea that law school could even remotely be a "scam."  Deans, Prawfs, and some other vocal critics would regularly pontificate about how great a law degree was, how the employment data was "fine," how the debt was "managable," and how scambloggers were uncouth know-nothings who just didn't want to work very hard.

Turning to today, I don't see much of that anymore.  With Indiana Tech closing down and schools like Charlotte teetering on the brink, all of a sudden the scambloggers don't sound so misguided.  Law jobs keep not coming.  LSAT and Bar Passage rates continue to drop.  Hard-hitting articles in major news sources, naming law schools by name, are more and more prevalent.  Significant amounts of staff and faculty have been let go.  The ABA and DoE are being shamed into finally doing their actual jobs and following their own standards.  Student Loan default rates and employment statistics have been shown to be doctored.  The Cartel is on the defensive, instead of basking effortlessly in the unearned, unspoken and unquestioned presumption of quality and preftige.  OTLSS and many, many others deserve a pat on the back for not backing down and proclaiming the truth.

That said, there are still miles to go.  Many schools are engaging in whatever tactics they can to garner students, get bail-out funds by slapping names on buildings, firing employees, and anything else to keep the doors open.  Shockingly, there are a handful of schools who are still trying to get opened and accredited in the first instance, as if there was some strange economic sign that law schools were lucrative again and legal careers plentiful at this point outside of the T14 or so (if that).  Many still want to blame the bar exam or State-level Boards of Bar Examiners for failing statistics, not their own admission policies.  The Courts are still loathe to afford the same standards and findings for law students that they are willing to afford to other students who have been scammed by educational institutions.  Yet more and more students are pumped out into a market that cannot absorb them by half.  

As we go forward, patience is key.  People are paying attention and getting the message.  Applicants are down again this particular cycle, and the "new normal" appears to be settling in.  Just an in protracted civil litigation, sometimes the process has to take its own course for an extended period of time before the parties are willing to settle, or before the court finally issues a ruling.  Reality is slowly being accepted, and we can celebrate that fact regardless of what particular source or sources are driving it at any given time. 

Perhaps one day, going to law school will actually be a smart move again for a significant number of people.  Up to and until that time, friends, let's continue to stick to our guns and proudly proclaim our message - it matters to people, whether or not they realize it and whether or not we get a "thank you".  (Although, once in a while, it happens!)  Ultimately, this market correction is fundamentally no different than any other, and it is long overdue.  

19 comments:

  1. There are still miles to go.

    -Until law school enrollment hovers in the 20,000 range per class, there will be severe annual lawyer overproduction. We are at classes of 33,000 or more right now. There are only 780,000 jobs and most lawyers need to work 40 years to qualify for unreduced Social Security benefits.
    -There are over half a million more licensed lawyers than legal jobs in the US. A large number of those lawyers want full-time permanent jobs as lawyers, but cannot get them due to severe lawyer oversupply. Law school enrollment should be dropped drastically until that oversupply of lawyers is worked off.
    -We still have a severe problem of longitudinal oversupply of lawyers, with jobs disappearing as lawyers get more experienced. There needs to be accountability of law schools for placement rates many years out of law school. The way things work now, most of all 27 year olds from the top law schools have lucrative full-time permanent legal jobs, but relatively few 55 year olds or lawyers who are older than that have such jobs. There needs to be longitudinal accountability so that most people coming into the legal profession can spend a career as a full-time permanently employed lawyer. The current system of employing a large number of lawyers in entry level jobs and weeding out maybe 35% to 40% of those lawyers into unemployment and underemployment is hugely unfair and an economic loss to our country and the individuals involved.
    -There is still no gainful employment standard applied by DOE to all law schools. That standard needs to be strictly imposed to prevent huge lawyer oversupply and a waste of taxpayer funds going to law schools and their administrators, while leaving law graduates and taxpayers on the hook for large amounts of money that will never be repaid.
    -The federal government needs to limit the amount of law school loans because the current unlimited loans raise the price of education. The loans should be limited according to outcomes- long term outcomes. It is rare for someone to be able to borrow a quarter million dollars for law school and pay that back comfortably, leaving room for other expenditures and taking into account that salaries drop as lawyers age.
    -The top law schools should be required to post post-big law incomes for their graduates. These salaries can be very low, even from Harvard or Yale because of the severe lawyer oversupply. The top law schools are selling a bait and switch. Once those salaries are published, the age distribution of lawyers in big law is going to go way up, and the pyramidal age distribution in these firms should abate because law firms will start hiring older lawyers as associates. Publication of longitudinal employment outcomes by law school will go a long way to abate the longitudinal lawyer oversupply.

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    1. We need better technocrats; we need a better technocracy?

      We just need MORTALITY in DC! (That's what you're arguing.)

      That will never happen. Never.

      But, if you advocate going to go further left with policy - aka more and better regulation - then advocate to go all the way to a (perfectly constitutional) price control from the federal government imposed directly on tuition. And require schools to have endowments to offer as collateral on the loans their students take.

      Then we could have a gray mash of safe spaces at a one-size-fits-all price and reduced taxpayer support.

      I don't want to go further left.

      I want the predatory, wholly dishonest, federal government to GTFO of a marketplace that is none of their business and does not belong to them.

      I think we need a truly free market wherein lenders really bear risk, schools really bear risk, and borrowers really bear risk.

      I know the left will object that saints from the ghetto with the mind of Einstein won't be able to afford education, but that's because they confuse education with credentialing.

      Those who worry that the poor and deserving will not be able to afford an education fail to observe that the opportunity to become educated is now abundant, mostly free and going rapidly in that direction.

      You know what improves access to education? It being free; offered by the talented and rightly motivated...like Sal Khan.

      Let the educational model die. Let's get a little justice, already. People should just get together and default.

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    2. We all know people with all sorts of credentials, but no real knowledge.

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  2. Keep up the good work, law schools are back on media offensive.

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  3. "We still have a severe problem of longitudinal oversupply of lawyers, with jobs disappearing as lawyers get more experienced."

    This is exactly correct. I have been a patent lawyer for 23 years. It used to be a decent profession. It is completely glutted now, and I know scores of colleagues who are not working in the field anymore after 20 or more years of experience. These are extremely intelligent people, with Ph.d. and M.D. and EE degrees.

    I called law school a scam in 1993 when I graduated. I was correct then, and I am so glad to see others realizing what a scam it has been for at least 30 years. This is not what I call a profession at all. It is more like a tournament. There is absolutely no job security as a lawyer, and the real unemployment rate for lawyers doesn't even resemble what the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports as 1.5% or 1.7% or something ludicrous like that. The real unemployment rate for lawyers is more like 51.5% or 61.5%. I see the truth by looking at what has happened to colleagues, and I have lived it for nearly 24 years. There is absolutely no security even as a partner in a big firm.

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  4. Get a load of this recording of a meeting that Charlotte's "assistant dean of student success" conducted a week before the bar exam in July 2015:

    http://wfae.org/post/law-school-official-bar-passage-would-have-been-20s-if-not-paying-students-not-take-exam

    Around 3:50, Ms. Success tells her "coaches" (people employed to drag Harlotte's dumb graduates through the bar exam by the scruff of the neck) that the toilet's percentage of students passing the bar exam on the first time, which was 42%, would have been down in the 20% range had the toilet not succeeded in getting 21 people to defer taking the exam (by paying out as much as $11,200 per student). (A year later, it did fall into the 20% range.)

    Did Charlotte, out of the goodness and kindness of its profit-seeking heart, pay $200k in bri—er, I mean stipends, solely for the benefit of the graduates? Or could Charlotte perhaps have been trying to prop up its own data by paying people not to take the exam? Well, at 29:50, she says "We have to cover our asses" and "We suck" because of "a shit pass rate" (36:00). And she mentions (30:50) that the new dean at Florida Coastal has threatened to fire everyone. She is afraid that she and her colleagues at Harlotte may also get the sack.

    Later in the recording, at 30:00, Ms. Success refers to InfiLaw CEO Rick Inatome as "fucking Rick". She expresses similarly unpleasant sentiments about the students, whom she regards as a bunch of goddamn lazy bums and liars.

    Thanks to a writer at Third Tier Reality for drawing this to my attention.

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    1. As they used to say in National Lampoon: "That's not funny, that's sick." But how in God's good name did that get taped at all and then leaked? Other than insider sabotage and abject stupidity I can't imagine.

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    2. An inexpensive digital recorder capable of recording far more than that will fit neatly in the pocket of a jacket.

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    3. Notice as well the almost macabre language of "assistant dean of student success". The only institutions that would establish a position with that title are those whose students do not succeed.

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  5. Please excuse me for being a little off-topic. But if the "scamblogger" movement has taught us anything, it is that the Internet is really the great equalizer. Two million hits is quite impressive. Inspired in part by the scambloggers, I ran a blog for a couple of years that exposed corruption in a local government that was not being reported by the local news outlets. It took time, but my blog became increasingly popular and therefore started getting really good positions on search engine results. Local reporters and news anchors started following me on Twitter, which I used to promote the blog. Eventually these crack journalists actually started looking for real stories to avoid being embarrassed by being "scooped" by a solo blogger with nothing but a computer and a little time on his hands. And, in the end, a corrupt little cabal of local politicians was run out of town on a rail.

    Likewise, years ago the scambloggers started sounding the alarm about something that was not seeing the light of day in the "traditional" news sources. They persevered and, as interest grew, their visibility in cyberspace became more and more prominent. So now, any undergrad with half a brain who is thinking about going to law school will do a search on Google and see that a number of intelligent, well-spoken vigilantes, armed with reliable, verifiable data, are screaming to anyone who will listen that for most college graduates, going to law school is a really bad, potentially life-ruining idea. And, as you have pointed out yourself, even major news sources have taken notice. There's no way to prove it, but that trend may very well have been influenced by your movement, as journalists looking into these issues have most likely seen what you are publishing.

    So, the lessons that other activists can learn from the scambloggers are: 1. It takes perseverance and time. No one is going to set up a blog about something scandalous and get thousands and thousands of pageviews on day one. 2. The message has to be focused and consistent, and... 3. To have real staying-power, Internet-based watchdogs have to maintain their credibility by backing up their statements with facts and steering clear of hype and hysteria.

    Strong work, OTLSS bloggers. You are an inspiration to us all!

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  6. Congrats and great work! It’s truly amazing what the scam blog movement has accomplished.

    11:13 AM is exactly right about the law school scam going on for years. I went to law school after that commenter in the early 2000s. At that time every school claimed a 99% employment rate and six figure average starting salaries. There was no information out there to contradict the message from the law schools. At admitted student events, deans told us not to worry about taking on $150k+ in student loans, because everyone was getting a job making six figures, even students at the bottom of the class. Students that wanted to do public interest law asked how they would pay back their loans. The deans advised students to take high paying private practice jobs after graduation to pay back their loans, and then move onto public interest law a few years down the road. The deans bragged about all the employers that interviewed on campus. But in reality, everything the law schools published and the deans said was a complete fantasy.

    They knew it too. After that first round of OCI when myself and my classmates on law review failed to get a big law job, the message from career services was, “well most people don’t get jobs through OCI.” We were told to network and blast resumes. It wasn’t hard to figure out that the school was set up as a giant scam. The professors played hide the ball and used the Socratic method to confuse students. Classes were graded on a strict curve. These pedagogical methods were employed because the schools knew that legal employers were only interested in hiring a handful of students. The methods allowed the school to identify which students should be hired by legal employers. Scholarship students were put into the same classes in a practice known as section stacking. This allowed the school to eliminate scholarships and pad their bottom line when students failed to maintain a sufficient GPA – a task that was impossible to achieve.

    When I graduated, the legal market was supposedly booming. Law schools published the same fraudulent statistics. This was years before the economic collapse. But I was unemployed. I had been rejected for numerous DA, public defender, government, shit law, and judicial clerkship jobs. I applied everywhere and networked through any connection I had. I went to a job fair where law firms refused to take my resume. My friends took non legal jobs, went solo, and the lucky ones went into shit law making $30,000. The last time I spoke with the dean of career services, I accused them of lying about job outcomes. They told me law grads across the country were struggling. I just had to hang in there and send out those resumes. The following year, the school alumni magazine featured an article about all the grads successfully obtaining employment! They published the same fraudulent statistics that I had relied on several years earlier.

    Several people I know saved themselves by getting an MBA and working in business. A good friend became a police officer. He says the lawyers he talks to in court tell him he made the right decision. I turned my life around by going to medical school. I have law school classmates who still struggle with their debt over a decade later. One person struggles to afford basic necessities like gas. Another person I know was offered no jobs and opened a solo criminal defense practice. They work out of a dilapidated professional building and spend most of the day ranting on Facebook.

    Thanks to the scamblog movement, tens of thousands have been saved from wasting three years of their lives and $150k to obtain an intellectually bankrupt degree.

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    1. Only people with no network are advised to try networking.

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    2. When I graduated from a T4 law school in the mid-1970s, most people from my school easily obtained full-time permanent employment as lawyers. It would have been unusual for any classmate to be unemployed after graduation. No one asked for transcripts

      My law school class was small. You still needed to review documents on site in paper format and people rarely used computers. Memos were cut and paste. Legal work was there and as a junior and even middle aged lawyer, I could always work.

      Fast forward to 10 years ago, and the world has totally changed. Law schools had severely overproduced lawyers for more than 30 years by then, and the job market for my classmates tanked. The younger lawyers quite simply push out the older ones long before any normal person would want to retire.

      Many lawyers in a peer group of workers with me, all of who logged substantial time in big law, lost their jobs and had extreme trouble finding other work. Some never went back to work as lawyers in full time or permanent positions or at all because they did not find work. This is a long term phenomenon related to up or out policies, class year hiring, no hiring of older lawyers without business in law firms and technology which has made it much easier to operate a business with minimal lawyer involvement.

      Count yourself lucky that the bottom fell out when you were young enough to go to medical school. My classmates and I were too old for that by the time we realized there was nothing even close to a full-time permanent legal job market for our services. At that point, our law degrees and even college degrees, many of which were from the top colleges in the United States with honors, also had no market value because we were trained as lawyers and the supply of lawyers vastly exceeds the demand for lawyers.

      One of the big problems is that the top law degrees lose all market value if you cannot get full-time permanent work as a lawyer after looking for two and a half years. That is the case with many people with top degrees. If your lawyer job does not last a lifetime, you are in the job market and are basically totally screwed due to a vast imbalance between supply and demand in the lawyer job market.

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    3. Today there is a big chance of losing your job even if you make partner in a big law firm. That happened to many of my colleagues who made partner over the years. Associates are prone to total job loss at a much higher rate.

      The question becomes whether people are satisfied with the work they can get after big law. The problem is that a lot of this work pays less than a unionized blue collar worker gets in the big city.

      Some of the job websites today indicate how many people have applied to a given job. If they get 28 applications after 2 days for a part time job, you know you are in trouble. That is the problem with law - too many unemployed and underemployed lawyers.

      Even a problem that there are much too many lawyers working in law firms compared to the available work. That is why there are continuing job losses of lawyers from law firms today.

      When you have top law schools relying on age pyramidal up or out law firms that are not growing and are hiring relatively lots of lawyers at the bottom, you have a continuing huge pool of highly credentialed lawyers losing their jobs each year going into the job market.

      There is a huge pool of highly credentialed 20 and 30 something lawyers from big law on the job market at all times. Good luck competing with that. You can't if you are 50 or older and have no portable business unless you are coming from a very high level government job.

      Many experienced lawyers are losing jobs due to the new normal economic forces in the legal profession. Only the youngest of these lawyers will be able to fully recover. Many older lawyers will lose the entire economic value of their law degrees and much of the value of a top college degree with a job loss after one's 30s.

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  7. Congrats! Also, it is fun beating the piss out of the law school pigs.

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  8. Some of the few surviving faculty members at Harlotte are running a food bank for the students:

    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article129152714.html

    I went to a food bank this week and got various miscellaneous items, most of them not very nutritious or very useful.

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    1. A pharmacist at Walgreens gave me a free flu shot after I told him that I was a solo attorney and gave him my "insurance card." Somehow, my crappy insurance didn't cover flu shots.... The pharmacist felt sorry for me....his cousin was a solo attorney too and couldn't find a job and was subsisting on small time criminal clients for a few dollars here and there...

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  9. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingJanuary 27, 2017 at 9:02 PM

    Like Kerry forgot Poland, you forgot the billboards across Chicago's Expressways..."Don't Pay That Ticket" $49.00 Traffic Ticket Defense. Makes law school worth it.

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  10. When my law school luck ran out in middle age, I tried applying for an MBA at a highly ranked school, which was only one of many highly ranked B-schools where I had been accepted in my 20s. No luck - they rejected me and clearly believed the problems I was having in law were related to me, and not the legal profession. I already had a law degree from that same university which I had gotten in my 20s, and the law school is much much harder to get into than the B-school. It would have taken one more year to get that MBA in my 20s.

    This was before the scam became public and after I had lost a big law job without enough notice to find another satisfactory job based on "up or out." The problem was that the law firm had a strict policy of not giving enough notice, with a mandatory arbitration policy that takes away so many legal rights that it assures that any associate who challenges them will lose.

    When these things are ultimately settled, usually with the associate getting two months of severance and signing a release, he or she is bound to confidentiality, assuring that the next 100 associates who are similarly deprived of their livelihoods through this same policy will not even know what happened to their predecessors. Pretty insidious when a law firm regularly puts lawyers out on the street in good times and bad, leaving them with no value in their law degrees.

    I had tried to find work in a job that paid at least the first year going rate for my law school and was commutable in a reasonable amount of time. Not enough time makes it very hard to find such a job. It is not that I could find no law job, but what I found involved an impossible commute with decent pay or a much lower rate of pay than I had been earning ever - less than the first year going rate - but a reasonable commute. I had looked for a long time without success and without a job at that point when I applied for the MBA.

    It goes to show you that you really forgo other opportunities by enrolling in law school, and you may never get them back. If you fall out of big law without a good job, you can easily be toast without even getting help from your alma mater.

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