Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Charleston and Florida Coastal fail DOE's standards for "gainful employment"

[NOTE: Thanks to a poster for pointing out that I had written Charlotte instead of Charleston. I have edited this posting accordingly. Apologies for the error. ——OG]

The US Department of Education has identified more than 800 programs that fail its "gainful employment" rule by having a typical graduate's annual loan payment exceed 30% of discretionary income or 12% of total earnings:

http://www.chronicle.com/article/Here-Are-the-Programs-That/238851

Unsurprisingly, the usual suspects are various associate's degrees or "certificates" in fields to do with make-up, hairdressing, drawing, photography, and the performing arts. But the list also includes two professional degrees: the JD programs at the Charleston School of Law and the Florida Coastal School of Law ("Horrida Coastal").

Charleston has been in dire financial straits; its very survival is in doubt. Horrida Coastal, like the recently disgraced Charlotte School of Law ("Harlotte"), is owned by the notorious InfiLaw company, which also operates the equally dreadful Arizona Summit Law School ("Arizona Scum Pit").

Failure to meet the threshold for "gainful employment" can result in loss of eligibility for federally guaranteed student loans. That would sound the knell for institutions that depend on such funds—especially profit-seeking academies, such as Charleston and Horrida Coastal, most of whose students could not come up with many tens of thousands of dollars per year without a little help from Uncle Sugar. Already Harlotte has been kicked off the student-loan gravy train, for reasons that go well beyond a comparison of debt and earnings. Horrida Coastal may be the next to get the boot.

That would leave InfiLaw with only one scam school, Arizona Scum Pit. With the dubious distinction of being one of only five out of 200+ schools (excluding the ones in Puerto Rico) to post LSAT scores worse than those of the other InfiLaw toilets, Arizona Scum Pit may not lag far behind. See these data on Arizona Scum Pit from Law School Transparency (LST):

https://www.lstreports.com/schools/arizonasummit/jobs/

A quarter of the class of 2015 was "Non-Employed"—not working in any capacity—ten months after graduation. Almost a third of the graduates reporting employment were in "Business & Industry", which could mean anything from CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation (not bloody likely) to stock clerk at a grocery store. Arizona Scum Pit reports no data on salaries, but LST estimates that someone relying wholly on loans will owe a cool quarter of a million dollars at the time when payments begin. Almost a third of the class pays full price, and the great majority get small discounts at best.

If Arizona Scum Pit isn't already out of compliance with the standard for "gainful employment", it must be close to the line. Even typical debt of only $80k upon graduation would require a typical gross income of $58k—quite a lot for a toilet school with many unemployed graduates—in order to stay within the limit of 12% of total earnings.

InfiLaw, it would seem, derived its name from the Latin infimum, meaning 'the lowest'. Now it's sharing the ignominious company of fly-by-night beauty schools. With one school already ineligible for student loans, another threatened with ineligibility, and the third hanging by a thread, InfiLaw may soon be gone. Good fucking riddance.

45 comments:

  1. Free market could fix this issue fast if doe let it.

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    1. I suppose that at least part of the problem is that shifting things back to the free market would mean a lot fewer jobs at DOE.

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  2. Who would have thought that the actions of three such foul trash pits could lead to such a beautiful development? Hell, a beauty school degree is more prestigious than a law degree from CharloTTTTe Sewer of Law, Arizona $ummiTTTT, or Florida Coa$TTTTal SOL.

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    1. There is no way in hell you could ever compare a beauty school degree to a law degree. Even if you disagree (as do I) with the actions of Infilaw. I graduated from Florida Coastal, passed the bar the first time, work for a national law firm of 300+ attorneys, and make pretty good fucking money. I can't speak for the other two schools, but Florida Coastal has a great program, had great professors when I was there (2012), and was recognized and respected in the community. It's not, for the most part, the school's fault, but the decisions made by a for-profit entity pulling the strings of the individual schools. This has the unfortunate impact on the student's education and tarnishes the reputation of the school. And yes, the actions of a money hungry legal entity does have the side effect of devaluing the degree in the legal community. That being said, unless you have a legal education or submitted yourself to the rigors of a legal education, don't ever presume to think you have the right to weigh in on the value of a legal degree and compare it to a beauty school degree (something that really only requires 3 neurons to fire). Even at its worst, a Florida Coastal Law Degree exceeds by leaps and bounds the prestige of any beauty school. That being said, the real issue needs to be addressed at the DOE level. If the policies and procedures that are in place allows for entities like Infilaw to exploit federal student loans, then good for them, they are working the system. However immoral, people (including myself) think it is. The system has to change, but until then, if not Infilaw, then some other entity will continue to do the same. Infilaw is the cause, and Florida Coastal could flourish if it were to be purchased by a not-for-profit school and given the opportunity for a fresh start.

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  3. It shows Charleston Law not Charlotte Law. But this

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    1. Thank you for correcting me. I've edited the article accordingly.

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  4. Surely a lot more than just two law schools should be failing this "gainful employment" rule?

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  5. Atavist - I am sure you are correct, however these rules only apply to for-profit colleges. Since there are very few for-profit law schools, only a few made the list. Also, it looks like the post should read "Charleston" not "Charlotte" but this is good news as it means another law school is in trouble. I'd also be very skeptical of Arizona Summit's numbers. Wouldn't be surprised if they are either lying or a rounding error away from out of compliance.

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    1. Are you sure about the for-profit thing? Harvard is clearly listed as nonprofit.

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    2. Yes, it should have said "Charleston". I confused the two, probably because they share their first five letters. (The various schools called "Washington" also invite confusion: the University of Washington, Washington University in St. Louis, Washington & Lee, George Washington...) In addition, I must have expected Charlotte to appear on that list, since it recently lost its access to federally guaranteed student loans. All the same, I apologize for the error.

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    3. The rules don't apply only to for-profit colleges; they also extend to non-degree programs at non-profit institutions.

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    4. In practice there seems to be little difference between "for profit" and "non profit" law programs of course. The non profit ones may not have shareholders, but they do have stakeholders who benefit in a similar way.

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    5. Atavist is right. The "non-profit" institutions merely distribute their profits as outlandish salaries, cushy benefits, wasteful junkets, and so on, rather than retaining them or paying them to shareholders. The difference may matter to an accountant, but it is of no importance to a prospective law student.

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  6. Methinks that the folks at Harvard would argue that the meager incomes of the graduates of that one program are part of its cache. Can't make it in theater unless you starve for awhile while going to parties and acting "outrageous" and "artistic."

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    1. Perhaps so. But no starving-artist-in-a-garret cachet attaches to law schools.

      Of course, that doesn't mean that starving artists in garrets should be indulging their fantasies at public expense.

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  7. The ABA reports that the students of Harlotte are going to get their loans for the spring semester after all:

    http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/charlotte_school_of_law_students_reportedly_will_receive_loan_money_for_spr?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=navigation&utm_campaign=most_read

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    1. Probably unavoidable, given the timing. Easy to set up the DOE as the "bad guy" by pulling federal funding between Winter and Spring semesters.

      "Think of the children...!"...when really all Harlotte is really thinking about is their pocketbooks.

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  8. Does anybody here still read Steven Harper's Belly of the Beast? I knew Campos went insane over the election and abandoned the Law School Scam movement, but Harper has full-blown Trump Rabies.... it's all "Trump Alert! Fight Trump's Dangerous....., racist! racist! racist! and also the Russians,"

    Now he's starting some nerd-boy fantasy Rebel Alliance "resistance movement."

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    1. I read it only for the entertainment value. The Russian fixation is the crux of it. Thoughtful comment posters have pointed out that all the Russians are being accused of is letting the voting public see things the DNC and Clinton campaign wanted kept secret. And this wasn't national security secrets either, it was just truth that contradicted a carefully manufactured image.

      Now that he is being endorsed by Bill Moyers no one will take him seriously who does not already agree with him 100%.

      And may The Force be with you.

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    2. Seconded. It's like the liberal "Delusionals" (my version and response to the term "Deplorables") forget / conveniently ignore how Hillary pledged to attack Iran once she was elected. Since Iran is allied with Russia.. cue World War III, etc.

      They "forget" about the Chinese and Saudi's openly bragging about all the money they've contributed to her and her campaign, the Clinton Foundation - nothing more than a bribe / Pay-to-Play Machine, and the TPP which would further erode America's sovereignty and probably destroy what's left of the shell of the American middle class after NAFTA and GATT.

      Yup. If you are a patriot and value your country and culture over others, value Western civilization and it's progress, value freedom and self-determination and determine that some cultures and values, religious or otherwise, may indeed be superior to others that makes you a "racist" and a "xenophobe".

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    3. Campos has focused on Trump a lot lately, but he still posts about the scam from time to time. He has a recent piece up about how the Infilaw scammers sent a letter to his superiors talking about his alleged ethical breaches. You'd think those Infilaw bastards would have bigger things to worry about at this point.

      As far as Harper goes, let me first say that I am no Trump fan and have serious misgivings about his impending presidency. That said, Harper's anti-Trump rants are truly unhinged and the "Trump Resistance Plan" stuff strikes me as being borderline delusional.

      I know Harper has had some serious medical issues. If I were him, I would forget all about Trump and spend my time focusing on the people and things that bring me happiness.

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    4. @10:21AM. I read that post, and even in it Campos went mental... almost as if he views Infilaw as the new IG Farben of our new "fascist" government, in cahoots with Trump to reap profits, etc...

      Remember in the second debate when Hillary Rodham Kennedy - I mean Clinton - promised to send military advisors.. whoops, I mean Special Forces.... to Indochina? I mean Syria? Everyone just sort of forgot that.

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  9. A suggestion: "the JD programs at the Charleston School of Law [edit: add ("Charlatan") ] and the Florida Coastal School of Law ("Horrida Coastal")."

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    1. Brilliant. I wish that I had thought of it.

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  10. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingJanuary 13, 2017 at 5:48 PM

    Even if these folks manage to keep the Sterling Partners/Infilaw System of Charlotte, Arizona Summit and Florida Costal going, their graduates will be painted with a Scarlet Letter. When one drives a Mitsubishi or an Aveo, everybody knows a simple truth. You couldn't afford anything better. The students couldn't get into a better school because they lack academics.

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    1. Some of them may have gone to a Charlotte-style toilet for reasons that facially seem respectable: inability to leave the area, for example, or receipt of particularly attractive funding (such as a discount representing "more than full tuition", as the ABA puts it—in other words, a pay-off). Nowadays, however, such people are rare. Nobody forsakes Yale for Charlotte in order to stay near Andy Griffith, Aunt Bea, and Opie in North Caro-fucking-lina. If anyone did so, we'd never hear the end of it.

      Charlotte was enough of a scarlet letter before it lost access to student loans. Yet students are fighting for the opportunity to go on studying there, even after the toilet's reputation has fallen straight to hell.

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    2. "I know it's a crooked game, but it's the only game in town."

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  11. Just as big a scam is the Harvards and Columbias and NYUs claiming these high starting salaries when the jobs they are basing the salaries on are almost exclusively available to lawyers under the age of 35.

    For most women and minorities who graduate from those top law schools, they are going to make a lot less than that starting salary once they hit middle age- like half or a third of that amount. The big law stint barely pays off the cost of going to law school, if at all. After that, many former big law lawyers are at the wrong end of the bimodal salary distribution.

    The top law schools should suffer the same penalty if women or minorities who are middle aged or older who graduated from those schools a decade or more ago are able to earn only $55,000 a year at the median after paying the cost of health insurance once they hit middle age.

    If the problem is underemployment and/ or unemployment, the top schools and other law schools should be forced to reduce class sizes.

    A law school, even a top law school, that charges a quarter of a million dollars and leaves middle aged and older women and minorities stranded with worthless degrees, unable to earn enough to justify the cost and time of the law degree should not pass the gainful employment rule either.

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  12. Good news is that according to the latest LSAC stats, as of January 6, applicants are down 4.2% and applications are down 2.2% (and they still can't draw an effing graph). Even mid-tier schools will have to give whopping discounts to get asses in the seats. We're going to see some huge spring raiding parties.

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    1. Law school classes need to go down to 19,500 graduates a year to balance supply and demand for lawyers. It now at 33,000 a year or more and a 4.2% drop does not make much of a dent in the supply demand imbalance.

      You still have more than half a million more licensed lawyers than lawyer jobs, which is going to take the next 40 years to work off.

      The ABA has created a mess where going to any law school is like playing Russian roulette because there is such a big risk of not working or working intermittently or less than full time for licensed lawyers, based on the clear numbers of lawyers and jobs.

      The government needs to go 10, 20 and 30 years out of law school in its gainful employment statistics for law schools because of this uniquely horrible oversupply of licensed lawyers.

      It may be that law graduates need to drop to well below the 19,500 figure for the next many years to work off the existing licensed lawyer oversupply.

      You have to have longitudinal employment statistics for lawyers to make gainful employment anything other than a joke. With today's numbers about half of the two year lawyers who are gainfully employed will not be gainfully employed 25 years into their 40 year legal careers because there are too many lawyers and too few jobs for lawyers at that experience level.

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  13. So one day God picks up the phone and calls the newsroom at the New York Times. He gets a reporter on the line and tells him that He's had it with all the crap going on and has decided to end the world the next day at noon. The reporter asks whether the NYT can have an exclusive on the story but God says no, He's going to call three other papers, too. The next morning the four papers hit the news stands with the following headlines:

    USA Today: "WE'RE GONE!"

    WSJ: "WORLD ENDING AT NOON, MARKETS TO CLOSE EARLY"

    NYT: "WORLD ENDING AT NOON - News and Analysis Page D-6"

    Washington Post: "WORLD ENDING AT NOON - WOMEN AND MINORITIES TO BE DISPROPORTIONATELY IMPACTED:

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  14. Partners at law firms that pay anywhere near 80% of the starting salary for top law schools and who survive until retirement age are overwhelmingly white male. Few older women or minority lawyers survive at full time permanent in house jobs paying that much for a career until age 65. Unless a lawyer works in DC, few government lawyer jobs pay even 60% of the first year going rate.

    Try spending your 50s and 60s working as a temp or a solo or in a marginal law firm where your work is only as needed after going to a T6 law school with an undergrad degree from Harvard or Yale. Try spending extensive periods unemployed looking for work after age 50 with those degrees.

    The career choice of lawyer is a disaster long term for many who attended the best schools in the US. That is because even the top law schools fail the gainful employment rule 20 or 25 years out of law school.

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  15. The full-time permanent employment rates for graduates of the top 6 law school over the age of 50 are going to be poor because many of the women and minorities do not have such jobs.

    The median earnings rates for women and minority graduates of the T6 law schools over the age 50 are going to be 62% of the first year going rate at best. Many of these graduates will be solos, working for law firms that do not afford full-time employment when the lawyers want full-time employment, unemployed looking for work and a small number in temporary jobs (not document review, but temporary higher level lawyer work) that simply end and leave the lawyer frantically searching for work.

    It is clear from the people I know over the age of 50 that the women and minority graduates of the T6 law schools at the median are going to fail gainful employment or come very close to failing. The percentage of these lawyers who do not meet a gainful employment test is going to be 30% or 35% easily and maybe much more.

    There is a real employment crisis for experienced graduates of the top law schools in America. For many people, it comes too late to retrain for another career.

    It nothing to laugh about. Poor employment outcomes and poor incomes are what they are.

    If you are a white male over age 50 with double Harvard degrees and years of experience as a corporate lawyer in a V10 law firm, it will take you 2 1/2 years of unemployment to find a job without moving your family that pays at least the first year going rate after that V10 firm tells you to go. This is in a so called booming economy.

    The women and minorities over age 50 are much less likely to have that many years in a single V10 law firm. They will not even be competitive for that going rate job that the white male gets.

    You are dealing with going to Harvard or Columbia Law and making $55,000 or $95,000 in s very high cost areas after working for 25 years as a lawyer in the private sector . This is for a geographic area where pharmacists from low ranked schools and similarly experienced public school teachers earn much more in much more stable jobs.

    The big question is why the employment statistics that law schools produce are not required to go much farther out than first year. There are 1.8 million law graduates of working age for 780,000 lawyer jobs in the U.S., and a disproportionately large portion of the 780,000 lawyer jobs, 23,000 to 26,000 are for first year lawyers.

    The big law firms employ few older women lawyers until retirement and almost no minorities.

    Before deciding on a career with your top notch undergraduate degree, you need to know the fact and figures about gainful employment for people who are similarly situated to you. They are not pretty for many older graduates of Harvard, Yale, Columbia and NYU Law.

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  16. "There is a real employment crisis for experienced graduates of the top law schools in America. For many people, it comes too late to retrain for another career."

    Why do you distinguish between graduates of the very top lawschool and all other lawyers? Few older lawyers have market appeal unless they have a book of business. Besides, by that age, either you have proven yourself to be a good competent lawyer or you haven't. If you are competent and good, you are either a partner in a larger firm or you have your own small to medium sized firm that you helped start. That's the thing about law... nobody wants to be exploited as an older lawyer.... that is why when in my late twenties I left my medium sized firm and struck out on my own. Many do the same, or strike out with other lawyers to start their own firms. How many "older" lawyers want to work for other lawyers who are going to tell them what to do? I don't think I could stomach it myself. Few could. If you can't make it in the law, you should know soon enough while still young and search out another career. In my case, I started out as an accountant. I knew I could never make it in that, what I considered, dreadful field... so I went to law school. Learned working for other lawyers and naturally progressed into working for myself. Maybe things are different now given the new market realities, but most fifty year olds grew up with the older realities.

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    1. If you are a lawyer in your mid-fities and suddenly find yourself to be unemployed, in most cases it would be insane to start your practice. This has nothing to do with being (or not being) a good lawyer but more with the business end of practice and the realities of the legal markets. I am a corpoarte attorney in a niche field and there is no way I could translate my corporate practice into a solo practice.If my job ended tomorrow, I would have to reinvent myself and try something totally different from practicing law.

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  17. Problem is that most people do not go into law wanting to run their own small business. If the reports on solo practices very small firms and their struggles are true, it is exceedingly hard to make a living that way.

    A lot of people go to law school wanting a job- a decently paying job with good working conditions. End of story.

    Most doctors today when faced with the choice are working for others and not running their own business.

    If one is a partner in a firm with a certain practice base, it may be relatively easy to get clients. In a small firm, it may be very hard to get clients. A general corporate lawyer may have an easier time getting clients than a lawyer trained in a narrower field.

    Today, there is such an oversaturation of the market for legal services, that it is unrealistic to think that most 50 year olds are going to be partners in law firms that produce enough income for the lawyer to earn even the median income for lawyers in this country. Only a small share of lawyers from even the top schools have moderately lucrative or better partnerships. The percentage has to be much smaller from lower ranked schools.

    So just saying that every lawyer should be a partner at age 50 with their own business is like Marie Antoinette saying let them eat cake. There are not nearly enough of those jobs to go around.

    That is where the problem lies.

    It is relatively easier for white males to get those partnerships and stay in those partnerships than for anyone else.

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    1. It wasn't Marie Antoinette who said that. The first time the quote was reproduced in writing she was nine years old, years before she set foot in France for the first time.

      My experience in semi-big law, medium law and solo practice was that anyone who can get and keep clients will get ahead. To the extent the system favors "white males" it is a function of society as a whole (e.g., I saw many women leave private practice for the mommy track, maybe some people who decide what lawyers to hire don't trust minority group lawyers as much) and nothing about which the profession can do anything. I have also seen women and minorities who excelled because they could deliver very good results for big clients.

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    2. Excelling is a horse of a different color from keeping your big law or mid law job until you want to retire. That is hard. Sure some women do that, but they are few and many fewer minorities do that. Once you are out, even double Harvard degrees, undergrad and law, are likely not to produce a good income.

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    3. Well, that's really the thing of it, isn't it? A lot of people, way too many in fact, go to law school with a credentialing mindset. "I went to school for six fifteen-week semesters so now someone has an obligation to give me a job for as long as I want it." If you want that kind of deal become a union public school teacher. Love it or hate it the private practice of law is a brutal meritocracy. If you don't bill the requisite hours you are toast. The only way to be certain that you will bill those hours is to bring in the work yourself. Want to depend on someone else to keep you busy? You're taking your chances. I saw a couple of "freeze outs" in my day, surplus partners who were not given enough work to make their hours and then given the old heave-ho. The folks bringing in the work weren't about to take pay cuts to be nice to those who were not.

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  18. I have worked in where there is a constant exodus of partners and of other lawyers. The law field is not stable for many people. Yes, lawyers move to become partners, but often those jobs do not work out. There lies another problem - completely unstable partnerships where your job is to bill over 2000 hours a year and to network the rest of your time so you can bring in business. If the business does not materialize, the job is gone. In house is not more secure.

    I don't believe the lawyers who are practicing out of their own homes, with no office to go to, are doing all that well. That is new trend, with more and more people leaving big law practicing without a real office.

    You cannot fit a huge number of lawyers into a relatively small number of good career jobs.
    That is why the gainful employment rule does not work out for many and even most older lawyers.

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  19. It's true that law school generally is a scam nowadays for almost everyone but the scions of the great and the good. Even most of the first-year associates at white-shoe law firms will be out on their asses in a few years, with few opportunities in law. As we discussed here a few years ago, even Harvard and Yale can be scams, particularly at full tuition.

    Still, there's a qualitative difference between Harvard and, say, the University of Colorado, never mind Charlotte. Harvard will very likely lead to a job that, even if it lasted only a few years (which is probable), could yield enough income to pay most or all of one's student loans. The U of Colorado would likely lead either to no job at all or to a job whose income couldn't cover the payments on student loans.

    And the point about age is also good. Do not start law school after your late twenties.

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  20. Getting a partnership is not enough. Today keeping that partnership is hard. Many lawyers lose partnerships today. What happens after that is a struggle. Some lawyers practice in areas where partnerships are very unstable with a relatively high job loss rate.

    So you can plan all you want but it does not mean that you will not need a job or to work for someone else.

    Killing yourself for a decent partnership and having it end early is another not uncommon that makes law school a scam and causes top law grads who spent years killing themselves working fail gainful employment.

    Bottom line is that the work in law today is very very hard to come by in the volume needed to support even the first year going rate.

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  21. So much for the restoration of those student loans at Harlotte:

    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/education/article127341129.html

    Reportedly Harlotte reneged on some commitments (quelle surprise!), so its students won't be getting any federal loans for this coming semester after all. The semester starts next week, yet the schedule of classes still hasn't been released.

    One of those commitments, it seems, required Harlotte to turn all instruction over to another law school—Florida Coastal—under a "teach-out" plan that would have allowed the existing students to finish their degrees. But Florida Coastal didn't want to take just anyone from Harlotte. And who could blame it?

    Harlotte students, I really don't know what to recommend. You can't have your loans discharged, but there is very little sense in borrowing tens of thousands of dollars in order to finish one more semester and get a degree from a law skule whose name typifies the word toilet. Transferring is unrealistic, particularly since the other law schools are already a week or two into the semester. It's also too late to arrange a semester at another law school or a study-abroad scheme—and even these would require payment of Charlotte's full fee. Your options are all lousy.

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  22. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-01-19/us-government-caught-massively-fabricating-student-loan-default-data

    You guys should cover this.

    IMHO, given that sovereign debt funded these loans, but loan repayments are not used to pay off sovereign debt, and this is all a Ponzi scheme about to blow...you are a financial moron if you do anything other than avoid repayment.

    Freshly printed money funded you loans, not tax dollars. It's all a scam and the govt was lying through its teeth to protect its crony clients.

    We literally owe them nothing.

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