Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Harrison Barnes, John Cleese, and the Million-Dollar Dead Parrot

I was skeptical when I first perused Harrison Barnes’s article on lawcrossing.com: Twelve Sexy Things You Can Do With A Law Degree That (1) May Make You Famous And (2) Do Not Require Practicing Law,” which was illustrated by the colorful and informative chart republished above.  

But I have to admit that its author, Harrison Barnes, J.D., has attained a certain credibility by virtue of the impressive accomplishments listed in the bio he posted on the website of the legal recruitment firm he runs, BCG Attorney Search. Barnes has taught professional responsibility at soon-to-be-defunct Whittier Law School, and truly Whittier needed all the ethics it could get. Barnes has spoken at Tony Robbins motivational events, though hopefully not the one involving the recent ill-fated fire-walk. And Barnes’s remarkable articles have been utilized in classroom instruction by legal academia’s most fatuous self-promoting windbag, and therefore most influential person, Indiana Law Prof. William Henderson. 

True, you can’t please everybody, and Above the Law was notably unimpressed by what it characterized as Barnes’s self-destructive ranting, in particular Barnes’s recent gem in which he gave fair warning to naive young esquires that law firm recruiters tend to be attractive but “ditzy” husband-hunting gold-diggers. 

On his firm’s website, Barnes states that he “wants you to be everything that you are capable of being.” He states that he wants to “awaken[ ] the power that is within you so that the good and power inside of you can come out and make you everything you were meant to be.”  

In my case, Mr. Barnes has succeeded. He has taught me a little factoid that I am actually pleased to know-- that Monty Python’s John Cleese has a law degree. And this factoid has motivated and empowered me to be everything I am capable of being. You see, like John Cleese, I have a law degree. Therefore, like John Cleese, I can write a dead parrot sketch.   


Palin: Okay, guv’, it’s a fair cop, the parrot I sold you is stone dead. But have you considered all the sexy things you can do with a dead parrot? 

Cleese: I don’t bleeding want to have sex with a dead parrot, what do you take me for? 

Palin: I said sexy things, not sex. Look mate, when you have a dead parrot by your side, you can squawk goodbye to your humdrum vocation and prepare for a life of sexy renown. You can write a novel or a screenplay or become a tv star or a real estate developer, and wouldn’t that be something to crow about? You might even get elected President of the United States. What I am saying is that this parrot’s flying days may be over, but sky’s the limit for its owner’s career.  

Cleese:  You make a tempting argument, my man, but I think I have spotted a fallacy in your logic. You are inferring causation from the order of events. See, it is possible, dare I say probable, that the act of obtaining a dead parrot has nothing whatsoever to do with the dead parrot owner’s subsequent non-ornithological achievements. Also, you may cite the odd success story, but why do so many people online claim to rue the day they came into custody of a putrefying Psittaciform?  

Palin: Do you want to listen to a bunch of digital malcontents or to scholarship?  Have a look at this then, penned by the Sage of Seat-on-Toilet University himself, Professor Michael Sycophant [slaps impressive-looking scholarly article onto the counter] “The Million Dollar Dead Parrot” and this [slaps down another scholarly article] “When is the Best Time to Acquire a Dead Parrot? As Soon As You Can!”

Professor Sycophant proves conclusively that the overwhelming majority of dead parrot owners receive a massive lifetime earnings premium. You don't even have to practice bird. As soon as people find out that you went to the trouble of procuring one of these captivating carcasses, they just can’t do enough for you. Which is why dead parrot owners get to do so many very sexy things. 

Cleese: Who is this Professor Michael Sycophant?

Palin: Well, actually, he is a dead parrot salesman. Highly reputable though. 

Cleese: And his scholarship is funded by?

Palin: Umm, by a pair of well-funded nonprofit organizations formed and controlled by a consortium of dead parrot retailers, to advance their interests.  Highly reputable though.

Chapman: I am sorry, this pet store has gotten too silly.

Palin: Pet store? This isn’t a pet store. This is law school career services. 


  1. 13. Become a professional basketball player. (Harrison Barnes)

  2. Barnes' legal recruitment firm BCG Attorney Search told me they could not help me with any of the multiple job postings they had in my geographic area and practice area. I have two super elite degrees, law and undergraduate, years of big law experience and exactly the credentials the positions required, save that I am over age 50 and graduated from law school more than 20 years ago. Instead of just submitting the resumes of older lawyers, they turn older qualified candidates away completely. They send older candidates to their pay site, Law Crossing where the candidate can submit their resume directly for a fee. BCG is free.

    The point about older more experienced lawyers needing a book of business is hogwash. I work in an area where few of the positions require portable business. The BCG placement policy is all about age.

    1. I'm not a bit surprised. The whole legal "profession" is lousy with age-based discrimination. This BCG outfit knows that its clients don't want anyone of your (or my) age and thus turns people like us away.

      Older lawyers, don't pay a recruiter a goddamn penny.

    2. Not quite so well-qualified, but in the same age group as 12:30, with the same exact experience with BCG; they couldn't get rid of me any more quickly.

    3. Maybe sweet young things coming out of toilet schools should give BCG a call.

    4. Yes. If you don't go to law school by the time you're 26, you're spoiled fruit when you graduate.

      Unless you have guaranteed employment (and not just credentials for Biglaw), DO. NOT. GO. TO. LAW. SCHOOL.

  3. Years ago I stumbled upon one of those many lists of the Umpteen Hundred Things That You Can Do With a Law Degree (almost all of which can also be done at least as easily without a law degree). One of them, listed in all seriousness, was royalty. You see, the count of this and the duchess of that have degrees in law; therefore, a person with a degree in law can join the ranks of royalty. If you prefer the formality of a syllogism, try this on for size:

    Major: Some young princesses have law degrees.
    Minor: Old Guy has a law degree.
    Conclusion: Old Guy can become a young princess.

    Much as I hate to pour cold water over anyone's fantasy of coronation, I do seem to recall from the law of succession to the throne that the admittedly lucrative and coveted career of royalty entails a requirement that is rather difficult to achieve after conception. That may perhaps help to explain the dearth of want ads from the royal houses of Denmark and Bhutan.

    Likewise, maybe here and there an astronaut or an actor or a musician has picked up a degree in law, or for that matter in underwater basketweaving, along the way. One can attribute the professional achievement to the magical degree. Or one can pull one's head out of one's ass.

    1. I think you mean Professor Corcos at LSU. She has a small section on her "what else can you do with a law degree" for law degree --> royal.

      Not that the "Royal" part is any more ludicrous than most of the other stuff she lists.


      I gots me my Herr Jooris Docktor Degree, can I has crown now?

    2. Yes, and thanks for finding it.

      I wonder whether those degrees were earned through actual coursework or just dispensed as entitlements like just about everything else that the nobility gets. English dolt and asshole Charles several years ago was raised to the rank of five-star general in each of the three branches of the British military, and of course Mummykins had no hand in that at all.

      As you said, that list is ludicrous. If anything, it offers an argument against studying law—by presenting a long list of people who left the profession, in some cases without becoming qualified as lawyers.

  4. Cribbing from the "Cheese Shop" sketch -

    Department of Education: Ah! We do have some federal loans for you after all, sir.

    Charlotte SOL: You do?! Excellent.

    DOE: It's a bit scammy, sir.

    Charlotte: Oh, I like it scammy.

    DOE: Well, as a matter of fact it's very scammy, sir.

    Charlotte: No matter. No matter. Hand over le prêts étudiants, s'il vous plaît.

    DOE: I think it's scammier than you would like it, sir.

    Charlotte: (smiling grimley) I don't care how f***ing scammy it is. Hand them over with all speed.

    DOE: Yes, sir. (bends below counter and reappears) Oh...

    Charlotte: What?

    DOE: The students are on to you, sir...

  5. Dept. of Education: Bring out yer dead!
    Scam blogs: Here's one.
    Charlotte: I'm not dead.
    Dept. of Ed.: What?
    Scam blogs: Nothing.
    Charlotte: I'm not dead!
    Dept. of Education: 'Ere, she says she's not dead.
    Scam blogs: Yes she is.
    Charlotte: I'm not.
    Dept. of Education: She isn't.
    Scam blogs: Well, she will be soon, she's very ill.
    Charlotte: I'm getting better.
    Scam bogs: No you're not, you'll be stone dead in a moment.
    Dept. of Ed.: Well, I can't take her like that. It's against regulations.


    1. Now all we need is a "Hitler Finds Out.." 'Downfall' parody clip. Hilarious!

  6. This is unintentionally a counter-argument to attending a 3rd-tier school. Only 8 of these people even have American JDs and of those, only one, Grisham, went to a clearly sub-elite school.

    How many hundreds of thousands of JD-holding alumni are out there? And that's the best you can do?

    That's more of a reason to run away from law school than even think of buying in.

    1. If you want to "Become a Musician," you should study law in Italy. Everybody knows that. And if you want to become a fashion designer, you should study geology in Spain.

    2. Thanks for looking into that. According to Barnes's dumb article, one of those people "With a Law Degree" dropped out of law school (toilet Louisville), and another never attended law school at all but became qualified as a lawyer on the strength of administrative experience at a court (not possible in the US nowadays). Thus one of those people out of six got the "Sexy" position WITHOUT A LAW DEGREE.

      A better title: "12 Sexy Things that People Have Done after Showing Some Interest in Obtaining a Law Degree or Practicing Law or at Least Something More or Less Akin to the Law-School Scam".

    3. Not to mention many of Grisham's books seem to focus on people trying to figure out a way to leave the profession.

    4. Maybe Duquesne, with its rudimentary lessons on the ukulele, will become a pioneer in the field of "Law & Music":


      Now that Indiana Tech has left a void in the field of Law & Hip-Hop, Duquesne should seize the opportunity to turn out million-dollar JD-holding musicians by the boatload.

  7. The heading might as well say "12 Sexy Things You Can Do with a High-School Diploma", or "12 Sexy Things You Can Do with a Pulse".

  8. I didn't know that Paul Simon had dropped out of Brooklyn Law School. Smart move, even though back then attendance didn't cost as much as an aircraft carrier.

    Is it time again for one of Old Guy's musical parodies?

    Now, on account of all the crap I learned in law school,
    "Like a lawyer" I can't think at all.
    And though my lack of education hasn't helped me much,
    I can sing and write songs just like Paul.

    Brooklyn Law-aw-aw,
    Your students have brains like hamsters;
    You give us your two-faced scamsters.
    You make me think your JD is worth a million bucks.
    I scored one-forty-seven;
    They've offered me a scholarship.
    Garfunkel, don't take my Brooklyn Law away!

  9. Dybbuk, apologies for being off topic, but this is really quite bad. Transparency in LS jobs reporting takes 3 steps backwards.


  10. Another thing you can do with law degree: invent, manufacture, and sell an x-wing fighter. See Joseph Alfred v. Walt Disney and the linked in profile of Joseph Alfred (indicating the plaintiff graduated from new York law school in 2013)

  11. Today is jobs Friday. Legal sector shows a decrease of 4,300 jobs in the last year. There has been no real growth in legal sector employment for about 14 years, looking at the historical jobs reports of BLS. Only if you go back before then do you get growth.

    The ABA needs to take the lack of growth very seriously.

    You really cannot do that much with a law degree if you lose your job after age 40 and it is very hard even before that.

    Up or out, class year hiring, double the number of law grads as legal jobs, many more jobs for new grads than proportionately total legal jobs, so a huge number of people getting entry level legal jobs will not be able to continue those jobs for a career.

    I can tell you, unless you are happily placed in a company that will transfer you to a non legal job or are a born salesman/woman or entrepreneur or someone extraordinary, you are going to take a massive cut in pay transitioning to a non legal job after a few years in an actual legal job. They probably won't hire you at all after age 50 if your only experience is in law.

    There are extremely few jobs and hundreds of applicants to each legal job that will hire a person with 10 or more years of experience. Getting a 10+ year legal job is like getting into Yale Law School in difficulty unless you are under age 38 and coming directly out of a big law firm with enough time to look. A Harvard or Columbia Law degree will not help you at that point.

    The ABA is putting much too many people into this profession and is shirking the responsibility for looking at employment rates of experienced lawyers when there is a huge amount of statistical evidence that the job market for experienced lawyers is in dire shape.

    Talking about everything you can do with a law degree is nonsense. You can do all those non-legal jobs with a BA and no law degree. Problem is that most of them will not pay enough to warrant getting the law degree. Almost all these alternate jobs are so low paying compared to being a health professional or even a school teacher who has racked up a six figure salary after 15 years of teaching along with tenure that the opportunity cost of not having taken a different career path is huge. How secure is a job where you have to start a totally new career at middle age? This is alternate career path propaganda is nonsense for most lawyers, because they cannot accomplish a career change realistically or cost effectively. No one is waiting for lawyers to take over for workers who actually have years of experience in a line of work, and no one is hiring people with legal experience for entry level work in a different area. Wake up to the job market, please!