Monday, October 8, 2018

The Truth Rears Its Ugly Head, Again

 
Um, guys...these tuition, student and employment statistics don't measure up, at all...
 
 
 
Thanks to commentators on this blog, an interesting study concerning changes to the Legal Academy has been brought to our attention.  Per the Faculty Lounge:
 
From 2010-11 through 2016-17, the number of unique applicants to accredited law schools fell 36%...[t]he conventional metrics by which most admissions decisions are made – [LSAT and GPA] – declined even more, as more highly credentialed applicants disproportionately stayed away...
 
But the effects on the academy have been profound, and far more widespread than many realize.  By 2016-17, the average accredited American law school had an entering class that was nearly one-third smaller and had a median LSAT score seven percentiles lower than in 2010-11.  And while Base Tuition (a school’s published “sticker price”) had risen 15% on average over that period, the average tuition discount per student had doubled, causing the average net tuition paid per student to fall over 6% in constant dollars. 
 
The authors of this study blame contraction in the legal job market due to the Great Recession as the cause for Law School Cartel woes.  While that is no doubt true and a highly-pronounced effect in and of itself, the history of commentary on this and other blogs would demonstrate that the situation was unraveling for decades.  Not unlike the housing market marching along, getting progressively riskier, operating on less and less reliable information, until the bottom abruptly dropped out.  The rise of the internet and greater transparency also certainly got the word out, a word that had only been whispered in select circles heretofore and only mentioned in occasional press publications.  While the academy derision of scamblogs was certainly high at first, it has certainly quieted down as the evidence continues to mount.  It sucks when the truth comes out, I guess.
Of particular note is a subset of (imperfectly formatted - Ed.) published figures, where law schools are subdivided into three broad “reputation” categories:
 
Metric
Reputation Group
2010-11
2016-17
Change
Base Tuition**
Stronger
49,225
56,595
+15%
Middle
41,400
45,492
+10%
Weaker
35,580
39,817
+12%
Avg. Net Tuition**
Stronger
39,787
37,772
-5%
Middle
34,252
28,914
-16%
Weaker
30,974
29,231
-6%
Avg. Discount**
Stronger
9,438
18,823
+99%
Middle
7,148
16,577
+132%
Weaker
4,606
10,585
+130%
Tuition Revenue (millions)**
Stronger
1,349
(2011)
1,129
-16% = -$  5.9 million annually/school
Middle
970
(2011)
554
-43% = -$11.6 million annually/school
Weaker
958
(2011)
507
-47% = -$12.2 million annually/school
** 2018 Dollars
 
More below the fold -
 


Wow, that is indeed quite an impact.  During this challenging time, tuition managed to go up some 10%, yet the average net tuition and average discount numbers leads to some surprising losses on a per-school basis.  What this goes to show is that no one knows how to accurately price tuition at all – instead of throwing a dart and charging insane prices, only to steeply discount them later, why not just offer a lower, competitive price overall, and let quality and exclusivity do your work for you…?  As it stands you are either overcharging and taking advantage of students during fat years, or overpaying to draw in high quality students in order to make your numbers look better in lean years.  It’s not unlike the seemingly random and bizarre price-fixing of medical services and the bargaining of insurance companies – two people can pay vastly different amounts for the same service, and the determinative factors are one’s own social/economic status and their access to high-quality plans.  Not surprisingly, a select few are very pleased with their outcomes, while many, many others want to storm the Bastille for being locked into significant debt with few prospects, because the game was over before it even began.  So it goes.
To put it another way:
On its face, this seems quite odd:  Typically a product widely believed to be of inferior quality commands an inferior price relative to available substitutes.  We believe this anomaly is explained by what we call the Limited Options Effect:  That is, the weakest students who are admitted to the Reputationally weakest law schools have few options from which to choose. The Reputationally weaker law schools willing to admit them decline to negotiate tuition discounts with weaker students in essence because they don’t have to—these students have no or very limited alternatives if they wish to go to law school.  In addition, this result may reflect a different weighting of the risks and potential rewards of being a weaker student at a weaker law school among the socioeconomically disadvantaged applicants who are disproportionately represented in this cohort as compared with applicants with broader options.  As a result, some of these law schools can concede, on average, less in tuition than law schools that are better regarded and in that sense more in demand.
I guess it all depends on whether law schools (and their parent universities, perhaps) view students as cattle or not, but that is a discussion for another time.   The take-away message:
First, the strongest schools reputationally chose to preserve entering-class Profile at the expense of Size…
Second, many law schools sacrificed literally millions of dollars in tuition revenue per year to keep their Profiles up…
Third, while Base Tuition typically increased 10%-15% in constant dollars over the course of the six-year period we studied, average Net Tuition per student actually decreased…[as] a result, the range of prices students paid for a legal education increased significantly over that time…
Fourth and finally, both Tuition Revenue and Profile decreased at many law schools during the Comparison Period, in some cases substantially.  As a result, many law schools are welcoming the least-credentialed and least-academically-prepared classes they have ever encountered…
So, in other words, it is not a stretch to say that the impact of actual information, both before and after the Great Recession, had a non-trivial effect on the earnings of the Law School Cartel.  This is something the press and the scambloggers can be proud of.  Further, many schools were clearly looking to plug holes in their declining revenue while offering pipedream aspirations, which is why the scamblogs refer to it as…well, a scam.  This was not about liberty and justice, it was indeed actually about asses in seats after all, and this study only confirms what the scamblogs have said for years and years.  Everyone felt the pinch, from the T13 to the law schools down below, but none so far as the “Middle” band of law schools who jockeyed for 53rd or 71st place in the rankings, while the “Weaker” schools said “hey, whatevs, let the other schools fight and we’ll pick up the leavings.”  To the detriment of the “average” law student and to the profession, overall.
Friends, don’t go to law school just because you “love the law” or otherwise feel you have to – clearly, people will fight over you, as dollars talk and LSAT and GPA walks.  Take a gap year, do some honest reflection, maybe avoid an oversaturated market all together.  These economic effects are not going away anytime soon, and the Cartel has clearly felt the impact of the truth being made manifest, regardless of the derision the scamblogs have suffered over the years for daring to proclaim that the system is…y’know, broken.  Time is on your side, don’t make a rash decision.  And don’t be the student an unaccredited school accepted because “hey, where was candidate X going to go to law school, anyway?  Harvard?  Haha, gimme a break.  Now, charge ‘em!”  You’re doing them a much larger favor then they are doing for you, so be choosey and don’t give in to pride.
Your future depends on it.


69 comments:

  1. As I have said for years, the "Limited Options Effect" does indeed explain in part the insane Harvard-like fees charged by most über-toilets. Except by fraud, one would not be able to sell rhinestones for the price of diamonds, or jug wine for the price of Château d'Yquem, or polyester for the price of vicuña. So why does Cooley cost about as much as Yale? Because Yale doesn't admit just anyone who can pay. Those who go to Cooley cannot go to Yale; for them, it is either a Cooley or no law school at all. And they're too foolish, vain, or both to make the correct decision of avoiding law school. So Cooley has a monopoly in that market and charges sky-high fees.

    If its students had to come up with the money on their own, Cooley could not remain in business. It depends on federally guaranteed student loans made available to just about anyone whom Cooley decides to admit. Thus Cooley's buyers don't feel that they are spending their own money; they may even feel powerful and wealthy for being able to take out $200k or $300k in debt without collateral at age 22. They scarcely notice the price. And why should they? Haven't they been taught instant gratification? Why should they be financially responsible when credit cards have displaced cash and the government racks up tens of trillions of dollars' worth of debt?

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  2. It goes without saying that the ABA is complicit. The "limited options" mostly shouldn't exist.

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  3. I do this at my own peril, but while the above study is fascinating, I've got to disagree-at least in part-with OG. I fully agree that the Coolyites attending that dump and similar attend only because of the federally guaranteed loans, and these students can only be accurately described as "too foolish, vain, or both to make the correct decision of avoiding law school."
    That said, blaming the younger generation, and specifically singling out 22 year olds, is misplaced.
    I attended State U law school 30 years ago(it was very very cheap back in Ancient Times). My LS took great pride in announcing, our first day of class, that the average age of the 1Ls was 30yo. Keeping in mind that many were like me-22 yo-we had some relatively old folks in my class. Yet they still attended. And this apparently hasn't changed, as many of the really bad schools-the Infilaw group comes to mind-have been specifically marketed to "non-traditional" students such as this. And one of the articles on Charlotte highlighted several older-as in their 40s and 50s-students lamenting the anticipated demise of that money pit.
    So let's not blame this on 22 year olds; there are plenty of these non-trads who are old enough to know better but still attend and take on massive debt because they have always wanted to be a lawyer or some such nonsense.
    Millions of people, of all ages, still smoke even though everyone knows it will lead to an early death. Law school clearly has the same moth to the flame attraction for many. There's just no other way to explain the fact that as I write this, thousands-of all ages-are applying for admission to Cooley and its ilk.

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    1. True, it's not just 22-year-olds. I shouldn't have mentioned age. I did so not to blame young people—as you said, the Cooleys have a higher average age than most other law schools—but to point out the folly of extending hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of unsecured credit to a person who cannot have significant assets.

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  4. A large degree of the problem is what I like to call “The Paper Chase effect.” That is to say, the notion of “Going to Law School” is in and of itself some kind of a grand, prestigious achievement, and the unstated assumption is that you must be as "sharp as a tack" in order to have gotten in. The phrase “Going to Law School” is used over and over by scores of young people that I know, and by even more of their oh-so-proud parents. I could understand if this was just a shorthand phrase for a larger concept (i.e., I Want to Practice Law), but when I ask them WHY they want to go to law school, or ask them what they want to do with that degree (or even do with that experience) it becomes crystal clear that these people have not thought in the least beyond graduation day or even considered what they want to do in life.

    The phrase “Going to Law School” is very dangerous because it connotes so much to so many, but at the same time, when literally applied, is absolutely accurate. Almost anyone can “go to law school” and recent years have witnessed a growth of schools and a massive lowering of standards to assure that is true.

    In that sense, these people and their oh-so-proud parents are the law schools’ lawful prey.

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    1. Interesting observation. Of course, even many of the students in The Paper Chase were far from brilliant—and that was at Harvard.

      Perhaps some modicum of intelligence and education once characterized law students, but certainly in the past few decades plenty of people who were not as sharp as a tack have been admitted, and today they seem to be the majority. At some law skules, dumbbutts may make up the entire student body.

      Law school is not a tenth so stimulating and glamorous as one might expect from The Paper Chase. It's nothing but professional training—pretty goddamn lousy, too. Do not attend for the sake of law school itself unless you have money to burn and no better use for your time. Even then, take up bowling or crochet instead.

      That business of "thinking like a lawyer" is still more bullshit that has deceived the public. There is no such thing as "thinking like a lawyer"; there are only good thinking and bad thinking, and unfortunately there are lawyers in both camps.

      Delete
  5. I’ve read several of your posts. While I understand your position on these law schools, I chose to attend one of them. Admittedly, there are some aspects of law school that I do regret. However, I believe that I’m intelligent enough to pass the bar, and find a promising position. I continue to keep a positive outlook because negativity will not get me anywhere. As a 3l, what are some positives you’ve all found with being a lawyer? What are some encouraging words you’d provide to someone striving to be a corporate lawyer? I know the negatives and the difficulties as I’ve been in the field long enough.

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    1. What, exactly, do you want? Some reassuring lies, apparently. You won't get them from me.

      "I believe"? Do you think that we care about your uninformed and unjustified belief that you can become a corporate lawyer notwithstanding your dreadful choice of law school and the state of the job market?

      Why exactly are you "striving to be a corporate lawyer"? Just for the perceived income?

      I can only suggest that you make damn sure of passing the bar and that you seek work far and wide. You can dismiss our work as "negativity", but we're telling you the truth.

      Delete
    2. While I wish you the best, as OG points out, the truth hurts. And the truth is it's very hard to get traction in this profession with a lower tier degree-hell, it's hard if you go to one of the proverbial "top tier" schools.
      Advice: get out now. Here are my anecdotes:
      1. After serving as a ADA for a bit, decided to go solo(this was a very, very bad idea). Put the usual "the extremely experienced Esquire now has his own practice" ad in the local legal rag and in both the state and local bar magazines/newsletters. It cost a ton of $$$, but I thought it was the thing to do.
      So how many clients did I get with these expensive ads? Not one, as far as I could tell-not a new client, not a referral, zip.
      But I did get a ton of responses-and a ton of unsolicited resumes-from attorneys looking for jobs. I was floored; daily I'd get resumes, some from new JDs, some from experienced JDs. This was the cold-call version of job hunting. All responding not to a "help wanted" ad but to my "office opening" ad.
      Anyway, my luck changed-a friend helped me get a job at a large government office. I eventually became a mid-level functionary, and was given the task of reviewing resumes for entry level positions when they became available. Again, a blizzard of resumes(via email, thankfully). Every time it was jolting, because our "entry level" jobs paid poorly but required five years experience as a lawyer. We got tons of apps(usually upwards of 100 and remember the 5 year requirement) per job, and many of them had years, if not decades, of experience-for the lowest level attorney position.
      So get out now; don't take the bar, and see if you can get your 3L tuition back. That sounds harsher than I intended, I guess, but for you to state you want to be a "corporate lawyer" well, what exactly does that mean to you? How do you expect to achieve that goal? How many grads from your LS obtained jobs as "corporate" lawyers the past several years? Go to TLS for warm fuzzies; this is not the place for that.

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    3. The “promising position” to which you refer is something that is wholly beyond your (or my or Old Guy’s) power to control. It is within the control of the Market and governed by the needs of others. For many years, the market has not needed the services of any more –read ANY MORE– lawyers, corporate or otherwise.

      The system on which this blog focuses is broken beyond repair because it is still force-feeding new lawyers into a marketplace that has been vomiting out the vast masses of those who have entered into it over the past decades.

      That’s why the commentary sounds negative to you. The schools keep churning out more and more lawyers, and there are fewer places for them. Saturation was reached long ago, and now it’s a question of a revolving door at any place that offers even a semblance of a job. Your intelligence, your sincerity, your diligence, your positive outlook are all noted and speak well of you, but they will not alter the law of supply and demand.

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    4. Did you spend last summer as a summer associate practicing corporate law? No? Then you won't get a job as a corporate lawyer.

      Do you have family connections at a corporate law firm? No? Then you won't get a job as a corporate lawyer.

      Do corporate law firms attend OCIs (On Campus Interviews) at your school? No? Then that shows what corporate law firms think of your school's graduates.

      You are probably looking at doing family law, criminal defense, or personal injury at around 40-50K per year. If you're lucky, maybe insurance defense making a bit more.

      My advice is to start pounding the pavement looking for clerkships in any of the areas mentioned above. Ask the attorneys if there is potential for a job as an associate upon bar passage. If they are wishy-washy, start looking for another clerkship immediately. If you find out you hate that area of law, start looking for another clerkship in another area of law immediately.

      Parlaying a clerkship into an associate offer is about your best bet. If nothing else you can make some connections and maybe somebody knows somebody. Don't stick with something you hate because it becomes more difficult to switch areas with every passing year. What you don't want to be is one of the hundreds of newly admitted attorneys blindly submitting resumes to every opening on the law bulletin/career services etc. sites. Low odds there.

      Good luck

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    5. Car crash law looks like it's got a hot future . . .

      Delete
    6. "As a 3l, what are some positives you’ve all found with being a lawyer?"

      The positives in a legal career are 100% dependent on your work situation, not just practice area but whom you're working with and the conditions of that work.

      Delete
    7. What does that mean that there are some aspects of law school that you regret? That you partially regret going because of these? But if you are so certain of success, why regret any aspect of law school? It is only a transitory passage.

      I don't think of 3L as being in the field. To my mind being a law student is one thing and a practicing lawyer something else entirely. If your familiarity with the field is derived from internships, then I would think you could better get the answers about your legal future from your contacts there.

      In my case, I went to law school and passed the bar. Yes I am licensed. But when someone refers to me as a lawyer, thankfully fewer now, since I haven't discussed my legal past with most of my current acquaintances. I immediately condition it as, I went to law school. If you have legal questions I can't help you. If you want to know about my law school experience, ask.

      My advice is to finish the program, you are in too deep to quit, but if you are doubtful about practicing after graduation, think long and hard before taking the bar exam. If you pass and are admitted, you will never get your name of their damnable publicly available rolls, either through retirement, refusal to pay the annual fee, disbarment or death. Mitt Romney - Harvard Law School didn't take a bar exam. Probably the smartest thing he ever did. He can and has proudly claimed, I graduated from law school but I'm not a lawyer.

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    8. There is no such thing as being "intelligent enough. . .to find a promising position." There are no jobs for most new lawyers, and for tens of thousands of older lawyers as well. No Jobs At All. Telling yourself that you're smart enough to find a job. . .look, if you were an absolute moron, in the nursing field, you could find a job tomorrow morning. If you were a really stupid pharmacist, you could get
      job with a signing bonus. But if you are Albert Einstein, graduating from a low ranked law school into a non-existent job market, you won't find a "promising position". Someone posted earlier on this site that unpaid work in law offices is hard to find. Think about that. The "job market" in law is so bad that people have to hustle for the privilege of working in law for free. For Free. Think about that. I don't mean to be negative, but I see unemployed and under-employed lawyers all the time, in the courthouses and jails where I practice my trade. They mumble nonsense about "part-time work for the Public Defender's Office" or "$22.50 an hour for a short-term document review project." Your best bet is to leave now and get yourself a real job. The economy is booming, there are literally more jobs than there are applicants in most fields. Forget about the law, those jobs went away 10-15 years ago, and they aren't coming back.

      Delete
    9. Pharmacist saturation is huge. Double school openings in last twenty years.

      Delete
  6. Middle Tennessee State University is going to absorb Valpo after all:

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/news/ct-ptb-vu-law-school-st-1011-story.html

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    Replies
    1. That represents shocking stupidity in a state with two public and three private law schools.

      Hint: Directional state universities shouldn't start or take over law schools. Akron and Northern Illinois will probably close a few years before MTSU, but none of them have a future or even a reason to exist.

      Delete
    2. Stupidity? Don't confuse unethical and stupid. If MTSU can get pinheads to borrow their lives away and give them the money they are scum, but very clever scum.

      Delete
  7. Was there ever any doubt? It's the ultimate academic vanity project-MTSU gets a "professional" school. Is it needed? Well...no. Will the students get jobs? Well...no. But MTSU has a law school now! And that gets added to the resume-er, curriculum vitae of the school's president as he now angles to move up the foodchain in academia.
    But my favorite quote:
    "“This proposal would create the only public, accredited law school in Middle Tennessee.” What about the underserved folks in east, west, south, and north Tennessee? They need law schools, too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Middle Tennessee State University is absorbing Valpo free of charge; indeed, Valparaiso University is reimbursing some of the costs of the transfer. But that doesn't mean that Valpo comes at no cost. Consider Valpo a white elephant.

      Delete
    2. Sorry, can't resist parking the old clunker here long enough to point out that the failing Southern New England School of Law did exacly the same thing -- gave itself away to a state school! And voila, the lawprofs became state employees and the school, now UMass School of Law, suddenly became viable again.

      Delete
    3. To that Ruster, add the key detail that the pensions are now safe. And add to your list UNH and Penn State. Cooley and Vermont LS remain in a holding pattern hoping to find a willing state landing field before they run out of fuel.

      Delete
    4. Oh yes, and I like your aviation analogy. Some of the profs were fully tenured back when SNESL "gave" itself to the state university system. Hugely soft landing for them from the uncertainty of SNESL which was en route to crashing and burning.
      Quite a few independent schools were able to pull off that trick. George Mason was formed out of a couple of failing independent schools too. Vermont was saved for the time being by the Feds, specifically USDA.

      Delete
    5. I saw some stats from UMass Law and they were closing in on NESL, Suffolk and Roger Williams. Given the tuition costs, that isn't surprising and in MA, veterans go to state schools absolutely free. So to the extent that a veteran would want to attend law school UMass Dartmouth would be a sensible choice. As long at the state funding spigot remains open there aren't any reasons why UMass Law couldn't jump above Suffolk in the rankings.

      How does Massachusetts Law School in Andover survive? Although I agree with some of their stated philosophy such as a virtual law library as reflecting reality for today's solos and emphasis on clinics and internships over useless electives for 3L.

      Delete
    6. I don't agree that U Mass Dartmouth is a sensible choice for someone who gets to attend without paying tuition. It is a dreadful über-toilet, deep in Tier 6:

      http://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2017/05/the-seven-tiers-of-law-schools.html

      "TIER 6: The survival of these into 2017 offers an argument against the existence of a just god. Anyone who enrolls at one of these should not be allowed to roam the streets unsupervised."

      Delete
    7. 11:38 here Ruster. Let's get 'em all singing!

      Comin' in on a wing and a prayer
      Comin' in on a wing and a prayer
      With our tenure long gone
      We can still carry on
      Comin' in on a wing and a prayer

      What a show! what a fight!
      Boys, we really got those lemmings to bite!

      How we sing as we limp through the air
      Look below, there's State U over there
      With pensions in a sieve
      There's just one hope to live
      Comin' in on a wing and a prayer

      What a show! what a fight!
      Boys, we really got those lemmings to bite!

      Comin' in on a wing and a prayer
      Comin' in on a wing and a prayer
      With our fac'lty on board
      And our trust in the Lord
      We're comin' in on a wing and a prayer

      Delete
    8. O.G., with regard to your 11:18 comment, some years ago some politician somewhere got himself in some hot water for using the analogy "When rape is inevitable you might as well lie back and enjoy it." I do not endorse that sentiment but I must concede that if you are choosing between the absolute dregs of New England law schools then, leaving aside the issue of your sanity, you at least would be better off with the taxpayers subsidizing your tuition directly rather than through covering your default on life-ruining debt.

      Delete
    9. Hi 11:38, That song may get us singing. But those profs are laughing, all the way to the bank!!

      Delete
    10. To Old Guy at 11:18. I am just saying that if former Franklin Pierce Law Center could go from the depths of its rankings to 85 USNWR now that it is affiliated with the University of New Hampshire, why couldn't SNESL at least eventually climb in the rankings as UMass Dartmouth Law School?

      Not that that does the current students much good.

      Delete

  8. Ok. If there is such a surplus of lawyers desperate for work, why hasn't mine returned my call from last week?

    Three weeks ago he promised me a revised draft of an agreement, last week I left him a voice mail to check on status, and I haven't heard anything since. This guy is not a partner at Skadden, just a regular (mid 30's) lawyer in a medium sized city.

    Please don't be offended, I think the scamblogs are right on most counts, I'm just trying to inject a client's point of view.

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    Replies
    1. Very simple, lawyers like yours must juggle more files than they can handle because market-rate fees have been outstripped by overhead for decades, largely because of a constant turnover of new graduates who last a year or two undercutting the market. And the big firms are taking on scut work they'd have laughed at ten years ago. Used to be they'd tell First National Big Bank to give the credit card collections to a collections mill. Now they have to lose money on some files to get the big loan closings, the big litigation and the regulatory work. Your client is like Luke, Han, Chewy and Leia in the Death Star garbage compactor. The walls are closing in from both sides. But you don't want an inexperienced newbie and you can't afford biglaw.

      Delete
    2. Because many lawyers, yours probably among them, are shitty and rude. You should insist on proper service, which you are not getting. Consider taking your work elsewhere and lodging a complaint.

      You can get rudeness and incompetence at a firm of any size, for any hourly rate. It's a disgrace to the profession. And not the only one.

      Delete
    3. He's actually very affable and friendly, and has told me some things in our meetings that are absolute gold. I think it just comes down to me being a small fish, and he has to concentrate on bigger clients. He was late getting back to me once before and he said it was because he had two court cases that week.

      I mentioned in my voice mail that we might be getting close to the end of the hours that I paid him for, and offered to write another check. So I don't think money is the issue per se, it's just that he has to focus on bigger budget clients. It seems like the legal profession, probably out of necessity, is focussed on the needs of corporate clients and deep-pocketed litigants.

      The problem is not limited to the legal profession. It's hard to find a plumber to fix a pipe leak, but if you have a $30,000 bathroom remodelling project, they'll be right there. It's also been said of the health care profession that it is more focussed on sickness than on health. Likewise, it's hard to get a lawyer for a small project like drafting an agreement even though it could prevent much bigger problems in the future.

      I've said on this blog before that I think there actually is an unmet need for legal services -- and yes, for paying clients -- but some of those services might be more in the nature of drafting employment agreements, leases, premarital agreements, things that would prevent future problems. If these ideas could be promoted, perhaps the volume of work would make up for the smaller price tag per job.

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    4. Why should you be pushed around? It's the lawyer's responsibility to manage his practice. You should not put up with neglect on the grounds that you are not "big" enough. Stop making excuses for him and start demanding service.

      I see little evidence of an unmet demand for the sorts of drafting that you propose. I'm surprised that you report difficulty with finding a lawyer to draft a simple document. There's certainly no shortage of lawyers in my vicinity—a shortage of good lawyers, yes, but not a shortage of people licensed to practice law.

      Delete
    5. Maybe he lives in Nebraska, the land of unmet lawyer need. Wait, never mind, that was a scam dean's advice.
      And OG's right; there is no evidence-none-that there is some sort of unmet demand for drafting the proposed documents for the great unserviced mass of paying clients.
      Anecdotal evidence: during my short but very educating period of solo practice, I got to know several other solos. A much older lawyer had bought one of those townhouse/offices you see scattered around, and filled it with seven-that's right, 7!-solos. Each had his own little office, and they had a sign-in sheet for the one conference room; there was no receptionist, and nobody could afford a paralegal. Just seven desperate solos in one house, hoping their phone would ring or someone would stumble in. Trust me, if you needed any document drafted(not to say any of these solos had any experience doing so) and walked in with $50, you'd walk out with the document, less the $50(after a major wrestling match among the solos as to who would get the client).
      There is no unmet need for legal services. There are, however, many many people who want legal services but don't want to pay for them. Many stories to tell in that regard, but that's for another day.

      Delete
    6. "It's the lawyer's responsibility to manage his practice." -- Yes, of course you're right in principle, and there are certainly other lawyers I could talk to around here, but then I'd have to start over explaining my requirements, and based on experience (I may be even older than you!) I don't have a lot of confidence that I'd get better service from the next one.

      Maybe I should have asked for a clause in the retainer agreement stipulating delivery by a certain date and/or phone calls returned within a specific time frame. I feel like I need a lawyer to help me deal with my lawyer ... sigh ...

      But I would be curious to know how many in the scamblog community have actually had the experience of finding and retaining lawyers for their own legal matters, and how it went for them.

      As for unmet demand for drafting, maybe I should have said that such demand could be *created* by promoting it and educating the public. What if every employee had an employment agreement, every tenant had a custom lease, every couple had a prenup -- all done at reasonable prices? Would that not benefit everyone involved?

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    7. A lawyer is helping you to deal with your lawyer. You might speak with the relevant bar association.

      It's true that many people would benefit from getting legal advice before buying land or getting married. I've seen the problems many times: nobody spent $500 or $2000 on a lawyer at the outset, and now there's a lawsuit over millions. Unfortunately, many people just won't consult a lawyer to avoid trouble later.

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    8. I don't doubt that custom-drafted documents would be a boon to all, but as I noted above, the dirty little secret of small law is that nobody, but nobody, wants to pay a lawyer. And with companies like Legal Zoom offering serviceable documents for low prices, things aren't going to get better.
      Why do you think so many attorneys try to establish PI practices? It's not because of some inherent love of soft-tissue injuries. It's because PI is one of the few areas where, if handled properly, the lawyer gets paid without billing the client.
      And I'm at a loss as to why you'd let your attorney do what he's doing, affable fellow or not. There are plenty of qualified attorneys who can and will do the job...but the key to your problem is "retainer agreement." It appears you agreed to pay but didn't stipulate delivery. Maybe it's time to find another lawyer, this time with payment upon completion of requested legal work.

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    9. I affirm the comments of 12:06.

      Leases and employment agreements are more or less formulaic. Some jurisdictions even prescribe forms for residential leases and leave little to the parties' discretion—precisely because many people need to rent housing and realistically are not going to seek legal advice on every lease. Even commercial leases of land are closely regulated in some jurisdictions. As for employment agreements, most of these follow a form. An employer might have a form drafted once and use it forever.

      Prenuptial agreements should be more common than they are. People don't want to contemplate the failure of their marriage even though they know damn well that roughly half of marriages end in divorce. "We're not like other people; we'll be together until death do us part." Famous last words.

      Had I acted for you, I would have proposed a date for review of the draft of your document and another date for delivery of the final version. Apparently you didn't ask for dates and your lawyer didn't provide them. That doesn't stop you now from insisting that that lawyer deliver the document quickly.

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    10. @ 5:02 -- Well, I'd like to find that office, I could pay each of those solos $50 and still be way ahead of the game compared to what I've paid my guy so far. No wrestling match needed.

      For that matter, why haven't all these allegedly desperate solos posted follow-ups in this thread with contact info and/or websites begging me to hire them for this document.

      I'm sorry, it's just frustrating reading this stuff as a client. I don't know the answer, maybe we need a client/lawyer association (like a parent/teacher association) to educate clients about the need to pay and lawyers about the need to return phone calls. Somehow there needs to be some leadership here.

      As for calling the bar association, that seems a bit extreme and I don't want to get in an adversarial situation w/my lawyer, he has provided some good value so far, I just want him to do this f#%@^$ document revision so I can move on with my plans.

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    11. Call the Bar association because he didn't immediately call you back? That's ridiculous. Lawyers do get busy you know...we handle lots of paperwork? There is little going on in a law practice that is an emergency and needs an immediate phone call returned. Nobody needs a parent/teacher association...if you are not happy with your lawyer...than find another one...but if you have a good relationship...give him a break ...

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    12. The client reported that the lawyer had not returned calls for weeks. I advised him on appropriate action. He didn't take my advice, so I suggested discussing his options with the bar association. Apparently he is not taking that advice either. I am not going to make further suggestions.

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    13. OG-he's either just trollin', as the concept of finding another lawyer(after all, there's such a shortage of licensed attorneys) or he's the Dream Client-who pays first, asks no questions, and expects to get the legal work done a week from next Sunday-maybe.

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    14. @2:07 -- I *am* a Dream Client, but it seems I'm being encouraged here to be less so-- be more demanding, withhold payment until the job is completed, etc. So I honestly don't know what it is you guys want.

      And yes, as I've said (did you read the thread, 2:07?) I know there are other local lawyers, but I've dealt with a number of them in the past and am not super optimistic that starting over with another one would give quicker/better results. I'll do that eventually if I have to.

      @OG -- Well of course I will keep trying to reach him and presumably will wrap this up sooner or later, my original point was that one would have expected faster responses given the alleged gross oversupply of lawyers that is constantly bandied about here. Even a search for "document drafting" on Craigslist yields only a small handful of offerings nationwide for this service (one of which has rather comical wording for such an ad: "it is best to hire an experienced attorney likewise to myself"). Most of the search results are actually job postings for document drafters/paralegals.

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    15. @ Mr. Client:

      I agree with your observation regarding difficulty finding a “reasonable value” and “competent lawyer re customized business or operating contracts.

      I speak only as a solo in San Francisco. Transactional law is becoming a lost skill. Also many lawyers are not proficient in matters of business,taxation, or finance.

      (Please note when I moved to SF I had several hundred thousand dollars saved up from stock market investments, giving me time and opportunity to start up my practice).

      I would hire lawyer who does transactions only. If your lawyer also handles lawsuits, this could be serious distraction and time suck.

      There are many older lawyers retiring. New generation of lawyers is depressed due to student loan burdens and will not be serious contenders.

      On my end I have to reject about 75% of inquiries for various reasons.

      I do not do volume work but focus on quality work, like a concierge for upper middle class, small or medium business.

      I also noticed many older lawyers are not tech savvy. Younger generation knows tech, but lack knowledge re substantive aspects and nuance of the law.

      That said, I will never let my two young children become lawyers. Many are douche bags with serious personality dysfunction.


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    16. I don't think anyone here "wants" anything; you're the one who returns, again and again, after getting good advice you refuse to take. And I did read the thread; you've got to be trolling as there's no other logical explanation for your behavior. You paid someone-in this case, a lawyer-to do some work for you, and he hasn't done it. You've contacted him repeatedly, and he won't return your calls-or do the work-but he has your money. Many suggestions are made and you reject them all, apparently because this lawyer is an "affable" fellow. If affability is your standard, why are you here complaining? If you really want the work done, why don't you contact the Bar and file a complaint? In any other setting-e.g. paying a home contractor to finish a basement and he does not work-you'd be calling either the local consumer protection agency or the cops. In your case, you just want to have the last word.
      And it's clear that you haven't bothered looking for lawyer. Just aboout every state/local bar has a referral list-instead you head to craigslist. Here's a hint: any internet board which has multiple "personals" sections is a bad place to find a lawyer.
      So give us the facts-where do you live? Exactly what type of document do you need prepared? And did you bother to contact the Bar to file a complaint or get a referral to a different lawyer?

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    17. Say, 3:23, do you really mean that the white-shoe law firms don't advertise on Craigslist? I should have considered that the first place to go for help with a multi-billion-dollar corporate acquisition.

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    18. Well, I did just get in touch w/ my lawyer and we set up a meeting for next week. And what was the other advice I refused to take again? Complaining to the Bar Assoc.? Even other posters here have said that is ridiculous in this situation.

      You guys are letting your vitriol towards LS scammers spill over in your attitude towards clients. This is not a formula for progress.

      If there are really hordes of desperate solos out there, please link a website where I can find these people. I don't see how the bar referral lists are going to be any different from what I would find in the phone book. (And in case you've been living under a rock, Craigslist no longer has personals sections.)

      @ 9:27, that's good advice about getting a transactional lawyer rather than a litigator, but I think people like that mostly work in bigger cities. I can check around though.

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    19. Again, he needs to have the last word. It really doesn't get much more inane than checking craigslist for a lawyer, but when you've got time to troll over and over again, it's clear that you've got nothing but time. And since you know everything there is to know about legal services, why are you visiting here, again and again?

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  9. NESL grad here. I wonder if I were applying to law school nowadays, my experience might be different. My law school journey started I guess as a thought in college, but it really began in earnest after I got my first financial job after college graduation, the job which I hated. This was in the mid-80s.

    So I looked into, more difficult in the pre-internet days, of how to apply. I discovered, once you got the application packet, applying for and sitting for the LSAT was a relatively easy affair. So I began there.
    My score was a 35. Not great but enough for the lower tiers of the 175 law schools at that time. I have no idea how this translates to the new LSAT. From what I have researched, the old scored cannot be compared because the LSAT is always graded on a curve.

    I was applying in Boston where practically all law schools in Massachusetts and Eastern New England for that matter, were at that time and still basically are. My options were Suffolk, New England and a very very long shot, most likely unrealistic on, for Northeastern.

    My 35 was enough for Suffolk, a step higher than NESL, but below Northeastern, but I was concerned about my GPA (Management/Accounting) which was lackluster. The obvious choice for some would be to say to apply for all schools interested in. The problem for me was the the application process was for me, particularly onerous. You needed two managerial references if professionally employed, or two academic if a recent graduate.

    The professional references were impossible for me to get, but fortunately (or unfortunately) I was a recent enough graduate, I think 5 years was the criteria. So I got up the gumption to ask a couple of my professors from college, that I knew the best, got descent grades from but, I hadn’t seen in a couple of years, to provide references.

    They agreed but only want to provide form letters. The schools wanted letters, plus evaluations, questionairres, a bunch of paperwork. They didn’t want to fill out the other forms but I pressed and they both acquiesced.

    But, I couldn’t expect them to agree to this for a whole slew of schools, or even two. So I took the safe route and only applied to NESL. I really wanted Suffolk. But I think I even got into NESL by only a hair so maybe it was a fool’s errand from the get-go.

    But my limiting applications to one school came down to the recommendations.

    I rationalized it by thinking that NESL was around since 1907 and was ABA accredited.


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    1. "I rationalized it by thinking that NESL was around since 1907 and was ABA accredited."

      Some people said the same about Valpo (around 135 years). You would like to think history and accreditation would mean something in terms of quality and deep connections, but apparently it means absolutely nothing except in very limited cases (e.g. T14). So seems to be the lesson in the late 20th/early 21st century.

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    2. Your score of 35 on the old scale was not competitive for Northeastern. It was probably comparable to a score in the low 150s today. Since you think that you barely got into the New England School of Law, you can imagine that your chance of admission at Northeastern was not much better than your chance of drawing a full house at poker.

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    3. History alone doesn't mean much. If Princeton opened a law school next year, it would start in the top ten on the cretinous "ranking" put out by You Ass News. Valpo, however, is a moribund über-toilet despite having been operating since 1879.

      And ABA accreditation? The standards are so low that it may as well be distributed in boxes of Cracker Jack. I don't blame you for attaching significance to the imprimatur of the federal government's approved accreditor, but your trust was misplaced.

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    4. NESL again: Yes, I didn't really consider applying for Northeastern. My 35 was above the average for NESL which was 32 at that time so I figured that might offset the GPA. Still I wonder about the folks who apply for 10 or 15 law schools, who do they get to fill out all those recommendation forms.

      An aside about Northeastern. When I was a NESL student, I was curious about the other law schools and their libraries. So I went to Northeastern and explained that I was a NESL student and would like to visit their library. Now from what I understand per ABA rules, ABA accredited schools must allow licensed attorneys access to their libraries, this courtesy is not extended to law students. So when I approached the Northeastern gatekeeper, humble and supplicant, she graciously consented, on the condition that it was for this time only and as long as I did not do any damage within.

      Now that I am licensed attorney in fact, I guess I could theoretically visit the inner sanctum of Harvard Law School and set my gaze on whatever treasures and mysteries might be held by that august and ancient institution. But I no longer have any interest.

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    5. NESL again:

      As far as the accreditation and history, while I was assuaged that NESL was ABA accredited, it bothered me that it was not an AALS member. I think I was aware of this when I applied. NESL was finally granted AALS membership around 1998. After I was long gone.

      On the history, NESL has kind of a unusual, rocky, colorful and questionable history among law schools. It was established as Portia Law School in 1907, a law school exclusively for women, and it trained some successful female attorneys. In the Great Depression it became co-ed, and men quickly became the majority until recent years where it is more at parity. When Portia was established, there wasn't a requirement for a lawyer to possess a bachelor's degree, but at some point, the SJC of Massachusetts made this a requirement or an expectation. Portia was unaffiliated with an undergraduate degree granting institution, so in response to this new requirement an body known as Calvin Coolidge College was created. While attending this Coolidge College students would take a few extra courses as well as law courses and complete the BA and LLB degree in four years.

      In 1969 Portia Law School was granted ABA accreditation. One of the conditions was that the name would be changed and that Calvin Coolidge College would be history. Henceforward, students would have to get the BAs and BSs elsewhere.

      Now although NESL is a 4th tier law school, it has had strong historical ties to the Massachusetts Republican party, which was very much influential in 1907. These ties endured until recent times. As a result, the school has been visited at important events by Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Justices O'Connor, Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas. Probably also Alito and Roberts.

      Whether the current administration wants to or is able to continue this affiliation, I do not know.

      I know when I was there, one of my colleagues told me he was admitted to Suffolk, but chose NESL due to its GOP ties.

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    6. First time I've ever heard NESL has or ever had any special ties to the Republican Party. If that were true NESL grads would be all over the big corporate law firms, the Trump Admin., etc.
      NESL gets big-name speakers only because it pursues them vigorously and also throws a lot of money at them as part of their marketing strategy. Big names draw media, and everyone loves to hob-nob with them, and for awhile students think it's a first-class place when it really isn't.

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  10. I've posted on here before...I started out in a mid-sized firm mid 80s, learned litigation, after several years went to a smaller firm...solo now for decades. I've been fortunate...I practice in Florida so have received large fees for prevailing against insurance companies in contract disputes, and have had some very large fees in personal injury cases....but I'm older now and I am unwilling to spend the money to try to compete with the now large advertising firms who have hundreds of lawyers and spend millions per year flooding the media with ads. Which of course means it is much more competitive now than it used to be to get good cases. I would not start out again given the lay of the land in the present and I feel for those of you starting out and trying to make a go of it. The problem I see is nobody wants to pay a lawyer for their time. I have learned when people call up...even a moderate consultation fee, say $75.00 results in no consultation...which is fine with me...if those people won't pay to meet with a lawyer, they sure won't pay for funding a case. Most people want something for nothing...they want the lawyer to pay all the costs up front, they want the lawyer to spend his time. They are fine with the percentage contingency fee so long as they don't risk having to come out of pocket for their own cases. Insurance companies have become much more difficult to deal with precisely because the business model of the advertising firms is volume...get them in the door, settle cheap, get them out the door. So insurers will not pay the money they did years ago to settle..at least without litigation.....more work for less money even on the contingency cases. Its not all bad of course. I have had appeals where I have changed the law. Working on one right now...but even there, at least in Florida, appelleate courts often times simply PCA affirm....no written opinions. All that time and effort on an appeal and nothing to show for it. State Court judges are almost never prepared for hearings.. Write a Lengthy memorandum and nobody reads it. In Federal Court...they are better prepared but far more conservative and willing to summary out cases as compared to State Judges. The practice has gotten harder over the decades. We could all make livings in the past...and people could always fall back on family law and divorces I suppose though I never have. I'm kind of glad I am getting out of this game at this point. Oh yeah...too many lawyers are just aholes...scuze my rambling thoughts. Its late in the evening here.

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    1. Amen, brother. Here in Connecticut a few years back our Chief Justice (who came out of big law and is now going back, her place in history and obscene pension secured after ten years) ordered the creation of a quick, easy do-it-yourself divorce system and further simplifications are now in place. Divorce and real estate lawyers are cruising the criminal courts offering discount felony defense with no clue what they're doing. And yes, the T.V. lawyers rake in clueless clients and give their files away for quick cash. If he is on T.V. he must be good, even though the guy on T.V. only does sales pitches in the guise of free initial consults and your case will e handled by some fourth-tier schlep.

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  11. Worked as a solo for three years two decades ago; my experience can be summmed up in one sentence: everybody wanted to talk to me, but nobody-and I mean nobody-wanted to pay me.

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  12. Correct the headline, for heaven's sake. Remove the apostrophe from "it's." This is a good piece but you might as well have given it a headline reading "Here's an article by a semi-literate person."

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  13. Heh, oops. Corrected!

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  14. I guess Middle Tennessee won't be getting that law school after all:

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/news/ct-ptb-vu-law-denied-st-1016-story.html

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    1. YIKES! Someone is showing good sense-how did that happen?
      And Hell hath no fury like an ambitious academic scorned-McPhee's quotes are priceless.

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    2. Yep. They say "think of the children...!" when what they are actually saying is "think of our paychecks...!"

      What's sad here is that there are thousands of Valpo JDs over several decades (some of whom probably know what they are actually doing) who are getting tarred and feathered with the idiocy of their alma mater's complete and utter mishandling of the issue. But I guess its no different than Hamline, Whittier, or any other school that had to merge/close. Can't outrun basic facts, especially when you were skirting the rules to keep the lights on.

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    3. Oh, yes, think of the children. Über-toilet Valpo saw a third of its graduating class of 2016 unemployed ten months after graduation, and many others were in part-time or short-term jobs of various kinds. Tuition stands at $42k per year. Small wonder that Valpo can't even give itself away: far from being an asset, it is a liability—a white elephant, as I said above.

      Beware scamsters bearing gifts.

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    4. A sensible alternative might be a school such as Massachusetts Law School Andover. Tuition a mere $23,850 per year (website). Free of the archaic and onerous ABA requirements, its law library is in the cloud and it is able to focus more on practical training, although it sticks to the three year scheme. Immediate eligibility to take MA and CT bar exams plus potential future admission to about 23 additional jurisdictions.

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    5. Per its website, it is not accredited by the ABA, which will accredit anything(except this school, apparently).
      And the tuition doesn't address living expenses, obviously. There's absolutely nothing "sensible" about attending this school.

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  15. The scammers preyed heavily on intelligent children from middle and lower class backgrounds. They were able to do this because said groups did not have access to the actual facts, and the elite classes who knew better certainly were not going to tell them but were content to pressure and attack said children, whose parents did not know enough to step in and shut the elites up.

    That has changed. There's only so long you can take advantage of intelligent people until they catch on. And so the scam has taken aim at the less intelligent, under the banner of "diversity" which is just a codeword for "less intelligent" and in fact has absolutely nothing to do with race or gender. The more intelligent "diverse" candidates are still filling up the top law schools if they choose to go, but even there many are opting out.

    What's stunning is the complete dropout of the more intelligent grouping. Outside of the very top law schools, there is no trickle down on a gradient afterwards. It simply drops to completely unintelligent.

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