Monday, September 16, 2019

The Zen of Scam: Suffolk Law Prof. Shailini George promotes mindfulness training as a "core concept in the legal curriculum."

Suffolk University School of Law students have a lot to worry about. The non-discounted interest-accruing cost of attendance at this school is $264,394, or about $30,000 above the median. However, Suffolk Law's placement result for its most recent crop of grads was in the bottom quintile of law schools in the country, with a mere 52.9% obtaining a non-solo full-time law job within nine months of graduation. A few years ago, the University offered a buy-out to all law school faculty (whether with or without tenure), an apparently unprecedented cost-cutting move by a law school, and an extremely public indication that the University is less than vigorous in its commitment to the law school’s future.

Thankfully, Suffolk law professor Shailini George has scholarly balm with which to soothe the troubled law student soul, in the healing guise of a 30-page law review article which promotes the teaching of "mindfulness” in law school classrooms. See George, Shailini, The Cure for the Distracted Mind: Why Law Schools Should Teach Mindfulness53 Duquesne L. Rev. 215 (2015) (hereafter: "Cure"). 

Prof. George opens her article with a fictional vignette about "Ian the Intern" who is stressed out because he does not have job, has no way of paying his law school student debts, and the supervisor of his internship thinks he is a clueless nitwit.
“Ian the intern is working on answers to interrogatories. The supervising attorney asked him to get these done as soon as possible. This particular attorney makes him nervous, in fact, Ian gets a stomachache whenever the attorney comes into his cubicle. The attorney has never been happy with anything Ian has done. Ian is not sure if what the attorney wants him to say is accurate and he does not know what to do. No law school class prepared him for this! Ian spins the answer around and around, when ding!: he receives a text message from his roommate reminding him to upload his resume to the law school career center for an upcoming interview. He logs in and sees two rejection letters from the last interviews. His heart sinks. How will he repay his loans without a high paying job? Then he notices an email from the attorney, subject: “are you done yet????” and the stomachache is back. He knows his supervisor won’t be happy.”
          Cure at 216.

According to Professor George, law schools have the means to rescue Ian the Intern from his terrible predicament. By allowing Ian to turn in his JD in exchange for a tuition refund?  Well, no. What Ian's law school can offer him is training in "mindfulness." See Cure at 216 ("If Ian had learned mindfulness techniques allowing him to focus, concentrate, and deal with this stress and anxiety, he may have avoided this scenario. . . . By making mindfulness training a core concept in the law school curriculum, law schools will enable and empower their students to better handle the pressures of working in a distracted society where complex situations are the norm").

Prof. George's law review article does not really describe what mindfulness meditation training involves-- something about breathing properly, and learning, through interludes of quiet contemplation, to be emotionally present in the here-and-now. But the article is emphatic about its enormous benefits-- indeed most of the article is devoted to describing these benefits, and how they have been recognized by this-and-that study and by this-and-that organization. 

Here are only some of the benefits she mentions: lower anxiety, reduced depression, reduced anger, reduced fatigue, improved attention skills, empathy, creativity, equanimity, self-compassion, a deeper understanding of oneself, others, and of the nature of reality, development of emotional intelligence competencies, ability to stay connected to one’s sense of humor and one's deepest ethical and professional ideals, and "spiritual enlightenment or just lightening up." So even if trapped in the typically toxic environment of a law office, Ian and his lowly fellows can journey at will to an inner Shangi-La.
The article even asserts that mindfulness meditation can even improve your favorite basketball team’s zone defense."The Chicago Bulls and L.A. Lakers basketball teams use mindfulness to improve focus and work on the team aspect of the game." Cure at 237-238. (n. I do not follow professional basketball closely, but haven't the Bulls and Lakers performed miserably the last few seasons?)

Though but a humble law intern, and not a Chicago Bull, mindfulness proves to be a slam dunk success for fictional Ian the legal intern, to whom George returns at the end of her article.  
Ian takes a deep breath after the supervising attorney leaves his office before he begins to work on the answers to interrogatories. He notes the time and contemplates what he was asked to do. As he breathes, he reminds himself that this attorney can be brusque but that this attitude is not directed at Ian. Ian must only do what he was asked to the best of his ability. He begins reviewing the file in order to draft the answers. He hears his phone: ding! But he does not take it out of his desk or look at it. He knows it can wait the half an hour it will take him to work on this discovery. Ian is not sure what the attorney wants him to say is accurate, so he does his best to work with what the client said and what he knows the attorney wants. In half an hour, the attorney calls to ask if the answer is done, and Ian is happy to respond that it is. While he knows the attorney may not be completely pleased with the answer, Ian is satisfied that he did the best he could. He hands the work off to the attorney, and checks his phone. Time to work on his resume before anyone asks for him! Ian is thankful that he learned to focus his attention in a law school class that prepared him for such situations. 
Cure at 244. 
 George promotes the benefits of mindfulness so enthusiastically that she reminds me of a cult member or even a faith healer. See e.g. Cure at 230 ("Mindfulness training may benefit people suffering from a variety of ailments, including chronic pain, fibromyalgia, cancer, heart disease, anxiety, binge eating disorder, psoriasis, borderline personality disorder, major depressive disorder, and stress.") 

Troublingly, and unlike what I hope she is teaching her legal writing students, George does not hint at the existence of skeptics, even for the purpose of countering their arguments. The skeptics are out there, however, and not only among disappointed Bulls fans. See Farias, M., & Wikholm, C. (2016). Has the science of mindfulness lost its mind?, BJPsych Bulletin, 40(6), 329 ("Academic articles describe weak results as ‘encouraging’ and ‘exciting’. . .The replacement of orange-robed gurus by white-collared academics who speak of the benefits of ‘being in the present moment’ is a powerful social phenomenon, which is probably rooted in our culture's desire for quick fixes and its attraction to spiritual ideas divested of supernatural elements.") 

While I am in favor of anything that helps law students, quick fix or not, perhaps law school professors would do better to stick to providing instruction in legal practice, which is what they are being overpaid to do. I mean, interested law school students could pick up mindfulness techniques from a local yoga teacher or spiritual healer. Or perhaps mindfulness training could be offered by the University's counseling center, as opposed to making it a "core concept in the law school curriculum." Cure, at 216.

There is nothing wrong with adopting a mental habit or routine of concentrating on the present moment and to avoid dwelling on the traumas of the past or what the future may hold. This is a good goal, a good lesson. But what if the enlightened pedagogues who offer this wisdom are the very persons responsible for traumatizing you by scamming you into massive debt and wasting three years of your time? What if they have destroyed your future and enriched themselves by doing so? Even if their advice is anodyne, it is still tainted with odious hypocrisy and chutzpah.  
Moreover, there are limits to the benefits of mindfulness, limits imposed by objective reality. Even in Prof. George's second fictional vignette, Ian the Intern does not have a job, just good breathing techniques, improved time-management skills, and a better attitude. Maybe mindfulness is a stress-reliever for some, but it will not make a law grad's educational debt disappear or feed and house his or her family, nor will it provide fulfillment within a very difficult profession, which is undergoing structural change that is curtailing opportunities at every level, but especially the entry level. 

57 comments:

  1. So a little more about mindfulness. It's not just breathing and such, but it's this attempt to live in the present moment. Close your eyes and try to think about NOTHING other than what you can perceive at that EXACT moment, whether that be your breath or the noise of the traffic outside or whatever.

    Mindfulness is just meditation rebranded to avoid religious connotations. And it's really not a relaxation technique at all. In fact, it's actually quite difficult to silence one's own mind. Try it. It's really hard not thinking about the past or the future but only what you can perceive in that..exact..second. Noticing a lot of stuff you usually ignore and ignoring all the thoughts you usually notice. Quite a difficult exercise, most people can't avoid flitting thoughts for more than a few seconds at a time until they get good at it.

    I think this idea comes from animals. Your dog is overjoyed to see you even though you've only been gone five minutes because your dog does not have episodic memory. That's why they're less prone to stress: The past is forgotten as soon as it is in the past and the future is not even a concept that such an animal understands. The stress-management implications for humans here are obvious.

    But now for the law schools. The irony of an institution like that embracing mindfulness so fully is rooted in what mindfulness REALLY is. It's basically a way of ceasing to care, about anything, past or future, for just a little while. Big debt? Stop caring! No job? Stop caring!

    Whatever value it might be for a mental health professional to recommend techniques where you suspend your constant thoughts about the past and future for a little while, it seems pernicious for schools that are the source of these problems to advise the same. That said, it's probably true. The only thing that you can say about those crushing student loans that might actually help is to remind kids that it's just a number in a computer database somewhere. A debt that cannot be repaid will not be repaid, it's as simple as that. You can call it default and DOE will garnish X% of wages, or you can call it IBR and voluntarily pay a similar percentage of your wages. You may not ever be able to buy a house or whatever, but at least they can't throw you in jail. And as with many millennials both in and outside of law, there's simply not the same shame in living with parents when so many of your peers are in the same boat. So you accept your lot in life and try to find whatever happiness you can. You can't control what's happened to you, but you can control how you feel about it. You decide whether to think of yourself as a loser, or to simply live in the moment and let all emotional baggage fall away. That's pretty much the essence of mindfulness.

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    1. Or you finish high school, live at home, work at Costco and invest aggressively in a mutual fund. If you are really ambitious, maybe community college part time to become a manager.

      Let’s run the numbers again.

      You graduate law school with a total of 200k in educational debt (undergrad included). This is a super feat given today’s prices. You have no savings, etc. You get biglaw in NYC or LA.

      Your salary with bonus at 190k is 17.5k a month. The tax man takes half. You are down to 8.75k a month. Rent is 3.5k. You now have 5.25k a month. You need to dump 3.5k a month into student loans to be done with the loans. You now have 1.75k a fucking month rofl... To live in LA, San Fran or NYC. Let’s keep going. You pack lunch and never eat out (good luck with biglaw hours). Let’s say 100 bucks a week for food. We are at 1.35k a month now. You don’t have a car, but let’s say you need another 200 dollars a month in transportation expenses. You now have 1.1k a month. Bare bones entertainment and miscellaneous expenses a month, ie 500 bucks (nothing for a big city). You are left with 850 dollars a month... You spent your 20s to go into massive debt and to now work 80 hours week. You get 9k a year for that. Congratulations!

      So at 25 you save 9k. Let’s say you save an additional 7.5k the next year, 15k the year after that, 22.5k after that, and 30k at year 5. (I basically assume you somehow continue living like a miser and pocket the entirety of your lockstep).

      You are now burned out. At 30k you saved around 120k. I’ll be generous and assume you invested it. In five years you made another 25 percent. You have maximum 150k.

      Folks, if you your parents aren’t rich, this is best case scenario. You have 150k at 30.

      Now let’s do Cosco at 15 dollars an hour, living at home. You make 2400 dollars a month. You pay minimal taxes effectively because you are poor. After taxes, minimum, you have 2.1k a month. You don’t pay rent. You pay for 200 dolllars a month for food. You have a beater car that costs you 150 a month (including gas). We are now at 1.75k a month. You spend 350 dollars a month on entertainment and miscellaneous expenses. You have 1.4k a month now.

      That’s 16.8k a year for the guy at Cosco at 18. I am assuming the same kind of miserly disciple as for the biglaw guy, except the biglaw guy has no choice if he or she wants debt. Unlike the biglaw guy, I will not assume the best outcomes for the Cosco guy. I will assume that he remains at 15 dollars an hour forever.

      At 30 years old with a conservative ten percent yield fund, the Cosco guy will have 450k.

      ThIs what people don’t want to understand...

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    2. If you know of a conservative fund that yields 10% in 2019, please send particulars right away.

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    3. lol yeah. 10% is ridiculous, as is the notion that Cosco 18 yr old has any idea how to invest. He's also making some pretty big assumptions about the hourly rate, job stability, and number of hours.

      In reality, the kid at Cosco makes minimum wage or a hair more, and will work his way up to $15/hr after like 10 years.

      Even if he is making $15, he has to check the schedule each and every week, and sometimes each and every day, because he never knows when he is or is not working, or what shift. That's the manager's arbitrary decision. If business is slow, his manager sends him home early. If he calls out, he probably has little or no PTO so he doesn't get paid. And if he calls out one time too many he gets fired, or just "soft fired" where they cut his hours to near-nothing until he quits.

      In short, his income is sporadic and unpredictable, and he is utterly and totally fungible. Studies show that unskilled laborers make less over a lifetime not just because of their hourly rate, but also because they tend to experience periods of unemployment much more frequently. Also, after a lifetime of manual labor your back is shot and you're likely to end up out of the workforce and fighting for a pittance from SSDI by your early to mid 50s.

      I hate the law school scam as much as the next guy but let's be real here. If you actually have a job in law it may suck for all kinds of reasons, and if it isn't biglaw the money probably sucks too. But it's not as bad as a McJob.

      The better comparison is someone who finds a nice unionized and/or government gig like a cop or electrician.

      For untold centuries, most every professional or skilled trade was taught primarily via apprenticeship. In an apprenticeship, you get (at least minimally) paid instead of paying tuition. Plus, existing practitioners are not going to take on an apprentice unless there's more work to go around than they can handle, so a glut is almost guaranteed not to develop. And as has always been the case, experience trumps education.

      Purely viewed as job preparation, the apprenticeship model was and is superior to the academic one in pretty much every conceivable way. For developing critical thinking and that sort of thing, as opposed to preparation for a specific job, higher education has more potential value. But unfortunately, the providers of higher ed have set the price far in excess of the value of "learning how to think."

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    4. 6:15-you're spot on, almost. The whole post is a bad joke, as it ignores:
      1. Having to pay rent, even with numerous roommates, because for any one of a hundred reasons you can't "live at home"-for example, there's no home to live in.
      2. Your "beater" dies, and you've got next to zero savings between rent, utilities, etc etc. What do you do then?
      3. Or like so many of the working poor, healthcare costs come up unexpectedly, consuming whatever little savings you have between deductibles and co-pays.
      4. Or you lose your job because of an economic downturn, and since you've got no marketable skills, remain unemployed for a very very long time.
      5. Or you actually do this for 10 years, on your feet 8+ hours/day, stocking shelves etc etc. By 30 you've got the knees and back of a 60 year old. Pretty soon the body gives out, and that's that.
      So yeah, it's a great plan unless life interferes.
      Real world return on investments:
      https://www.creditdonkey.com/average-stock-market-return.html

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  2. I have read the postings on the Law School Reddit site. It is full of eager law students who have been brainwashed by their professors and peers to believe that 1) Law School Grades are Everything and 2) All law school grads immediately start earning 100-190K the day they graduate. If you try to point out to them that the reality of the job market for new law school grads is that you likely won't even be granted an interview at the Public Defender's Office, much less a job, you will be downvoted and literally cursed out by current law students. Even more disturbing, many older, educated pofessionals with good, well paying jobs are throwing it all away to get a J.D.

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  3. Law Professors and faculty tell so many lies. They assure their students, that's OK if you aren't in the top ten percent and if you don't make the Law Review, if you are in the top 33 percent and write for the Space Law Quarterly, that's pretty much the same thing. Factually, if a student graduates ranked in teh 68th percentile of their class, and writes for a non-Law Review journal literally no one, in all of life, will care at all about their grades or the journal they wrote for, other than the hapless mark, the gullible student.

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    1. Law school professors are liberals. Liberals use emotions to steal money from tax payers. That’s it. It’s that simple. They are modern day gangsters, thieves and con-men. Get rid of the federal guarantee and the gangsters die. That simple.

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    2. Law professors are over-paid, bourgeois liberals who have no capacity to understand hypocrisy and so can engage in it with impunity.

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    3. They can engage in it because of federally guaranteed student loans. The federally guaranteed loans exist because the government is large. The government is large because they exploit emotions: rhetoric of identity politics and class envy.

      You get rid of the government backed student loans, you get rid of the professors. People that don’t belong in law school will live more prosperous and free lives unencumbered by student loans. Lawyers will live better lives as competition reduces. The public will live better lives as the myriad of scams that are going on, which are staffed by desperate bastards in shitlaw that have no other option but to wreak havoc on the public with bullshit suits and the like in order to survive, vanish. The tax payer will live better without having to pay back loans so some useless son of a bitch can teach theoretical principles that have no value in real life.

      Only the law school professor will lose.

      But the law school professor won’t lose because it’s racist and classist if you don’t pay him or her whatever he wants from the public coffers for a service that has no values.

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  4. Life is too short, way too short, for all of this if you are not happy with law then get out and do something else. You will be so glad you did. It's a great big world out there. Or, keep finding reasons why not to leave the snake pit where only creepy crawling things are happy :)

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  5. I’ll give Prof. George credit for one thing - she paints a very accurate picture of a likely outcome for a Suffolk Law grad: A mountain of debt, no job prospects, and an unpaid internship where you get treated like dirt. And let me add a few more realistic unpleasantries that Ian can put out of his mind through the magic of mindfulness training: Ian gets dumped by his girlfriend, who doesn’t want to be tied down to a debt slave, unemployed loser. Ian moves back home with mom and dad. Ian fails the bar exam like nearly half his classmates.

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  6. LOL at mindfulness. My department periodically has these mindfulness workshops that I avoid like the plague. Not sure if it's a coincidence that the workshop coordinators are all female.

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  7. Nice to see Dybbuk back in the saddle again.

    I've been away for a couple of months. Sorry, things have been going badly for me, and I am no longer active in the noble anti-scam endeavor.

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  8. Yes, nice to see dybbuk writing again. Hope things start to get better for you Old Guy.

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  9. So in George's preferred scenario, the kid would still have crushing debts, no job and no prospects for getting one, no idea what he's doing, and an abusive supervisor who might be telling him to do something unethical. But hey, he wouldn't have an anxiety-induced stomachache, and that's what really matters here!

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    1. What really matters is that the federal government continues to supply guaranteed tax payer monies, without any restriction of any kind, to Professor George, and that the only barrier for practicing law is Professor George receiving said monies while employing 19th century theoretical garbage to train the next batch of victims entering the legal field.

      If you disagree with this, you are a racist and hate the poor.

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    2. Yes, that's all that scamsters like George can offer:

      * Psychobabble about "mindfulness"
      * Smiley-faced delusion à la Norman Vincent Peale (https://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2016/04/seton-hall-law-prof-paula-franzese.html)
      * Lessons teaching three chords on the ukulele (https://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2017/04/getting-plucked-duquesne-law-school.html)
      * Playing with Play-Doh and coloring books (https://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2016/11/university-of-michigan-law-turns-to.html)
      * "Trained therapy dogs" (https://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2013/04/california-western-school-of-law-is.html)
      * A "Treat Tree" with snacks just before Christmas, the snacks consisting of a half-eaten box of crackers (https://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2013/12/christmas.html)
      * Pins and an "Oath of Professionalism" (https://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2013/10/oathiness-of-professionalism-at-indiana.html)

      Meanwhile, the $cam$ter$ treat themselves to the following:

      * A resort in Boca Raton (https://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2015/07/seals-2015-law-professor-vacation.html)
      * Winter vacation for 2500 at a marina in San Diego, all in the name of "Access to Justice" (https://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2018/01/is-justice-more-accessible-when-2500.html)
      * A sojourn for 3000 in midtown Manhattan (https://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-association-of-american-law-schools.html)
      * Expensive package tours in Kenya and Palau (http://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2015/10/who-wants-to-be-lousy-fiction-writer.html)
      * "Civility training" in Tuscany (https://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2015/11/seattle-law-prof-paula-lustbader.html)

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    3. And how could I forget the luxurious scamfest in San Diego at which we scam-bloggers were likened to the Wicked Witch of the West?

      https://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2015/06/athornia-steele-nova-southeastern-law.html

      Delete
  10. Does anyone know what Fall 2019 enrollment looked like?

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  11. Another Vermont boondogle.

    https://vtdigger.org/2019/09/25/vermont-tech-to-shut-down-4-2-million-digester-for-lack-of-compost/

    I would make a joke, if it weren't so sad.

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  12. Factually, 24 months of studying nursing would get most people a good job with a good salary immediately, whereas 4 years of college, 3 years of law school, and a 2 day Bar Exam gets you the chance to hustle "Temporary Document Review Projects" that pay $20-$24 dollars per hour. I represent folks who make far better money, with guaranteed employment, after a couple years of trade school learning how to maintain and repair diesel engines. And yet, young law students fantasize that they will start at a big firm making six figures the day after they get their diplomas, when in fact 90 percent of the class will never even get an interview for a BigLaw job (95 percent at the bottom ranked schools).

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    1. I don't think it's necessarily that. It's more that the non-Big Law jobs are spun as garbage that nobody wants.

      But rational people look at city and county attorney positions, or mid-law, or federal government positions where everyone has a JD, and they they think it's a versatile degree in a good work environment (which is what the law schools tout). And even everywhere outside of this and a handful of other dead blogs, all you ever see is people bragging about how great they have it as an attorney. Sure most people aren't in Big Law, but most people at least claim to be making high five figure salaries several years in, with job security and good work life balance.

      Nobody admits to doc review. You would think doc review is an extreme minority of people, and at least that is easy to get, but nope, you have to hustle to get onto those short term projects (very short these days) because there are so many people that are desperate for that work and will bend over at the beck and call of the doc review agencies. And those other jobs I mentioned are extremely difficult to get.

      But seriously, go onto reddit and look at r/lawyers or r/lawfirm or r/lawschool, what do you see? They are also far more active than say r/lawschoolscam or r/docreview.

      Lawschoollemmings was good to show stuff off of twitter and other sources but that went defunct several years ago. TTR is gone, Big Debt Small Law, TomTheTemp, JDY, JDU, all the other scam blogs are pretty much gone. This is the last one and Old Guy said he is moving on too.

      The Law Schools won. Either it's just not that bad out there for the vast majority or otherwise people don't care. The students never really stopped coming either, and if there is a real scam it's been out in the open for too long for it to be a surprise today.

      It really isn't THAT bad for most. It's not like trades are immune to labor pressures either. I see pie in the sky claims on here about trades, or working retail and investing, and it's all nonsense. If trades were really that immune to economic forces, this country wouldn't be killing itself with opioids, and Trump likely wouldn't have been elected. There are major macroeconomic trends that are impacting everything. Law is only the worst because of the debt and additional schooling---if it was merely an undergraduate degree it would be along the lines of pretty much every other undergrad degree which is also very oversaturated but at least the debt load is lower and the graduates are younger, and not blocked off of other positions like with the scarlet letter JD.

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    2. @11:21,

      I don’t know your politics, and irrespective of what they may be, read Andrew Yang’s new book. There is an entire section dedicated to the higher education scam and specifically the law school scam. He a calls out law school professors, indicating that they will continue to live a good life at the expense of students until the system holds them accountable.

      I bring up Yang because he makes one point expressly in the book: law school graduates and lawyers would rather front that things are going good than be considered chumps” that’s his word) by letting people know that they have been played by the system. This in turn prevents information from getting out into the marketplace to correct the huge supply and demand problem, and it also conceals the huge problem with the legal market, both in the short term and long term.

      Delete
    3. Yang's point as you describe it would be a classic illustration of the "sunk cost fallacy." We throw good money (and time) after bad all the time, simply because the alternative (admitting that our investment is lost and will never be recouped) is psychologically untenable.

      This is why people keep pumping money into multi-level marketing scams long after they've run out of family and friends to recruit, sending money to Nigerian email "princes" who will surely emerge and make good after just one more payment, and it's why they cannot simply admit that they wasted 200k and much of their 20s pursuing entry into a profession that is both glutted and becoming increasingly obsolete as a skillset.

      The other problem, though, is that even if you can admit that the JD was a total mistake, there's not a whole lot you can do with that realization unless you reach that epiphany during law school or very soon after graduating. Changing careers means prerequisites that you probably don't have, which means going back to undergrad with a bunch of 19 year olds. Humiliating at best, and potentially impossible if you have a family to support.

      So yeah, people have a hard time admitting to having made a mistake this epic. But even if they do, it's not like life will give you a mulligan.

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    4. Haven't read Yang's book but another factor is that no one in private practice is ever going to let it slip that they're not doing well. People still think lawyers are all rich so if you're not making money you must be a putz.

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    5. "I don’t know your politics, and irrespective of what they may be, read Andrew Yang’s new book. There is an entire section dedicated to the higher education scam and specifically the law school scam."

      Which book are you referring to?


      Delete
    6. To dilbert 4:55 However, a lot of people are doing the opposite of what you advise. On TV Show that I will leave unnamed, a contestant gave up a career as a teacher to go to a top 10 law school. Do you think this was a good idea?

      Delete
    7. It was almost certainly a very bad idea, 9:37, and very likely a calamitous one. Teaching jobs are hard to get these days. That person won't be able to go back into teaching now ("Why would a lawyer apply to our shitty elementary school rather than making the big bucks?") and probably also won't establish an enduring career in law. Instead of earning money, enjoying benefits, acquiring experience, and accumulating seniority for three or four years, that person will have little or no income, incur living expenses in costly Philadelphia or Ann Arbor ("top 10" does not mean Cambridge, New Haven, or the Upper West Side), probably pay through the nose for tuition and related expenses, probably end up saddled with non-dischargeable debt at high interest—all for a degree that may afford a nice decoration to hang on the wall (though some of them are butt-ugly) but most likely won't lead to a career that lasts more than a few years, if that.

      Let me put it bluntly: the JD is yesteryear's degree. You can't expect to build a remunerative career on it any more than you can expect to make money by manufacturing buggy whips. No degree is today's degree, except perhaps the MD. But the JD is a big mistake for those who were not born with a silver spoon—no, make that an entire service for sixteen, complete with soup ladle and fish slice—up their ass. Yes, a few of the tens of thousands a year who get a JD will stumble into a more or less viable career in law without wealth and parental connections. If you want to gamble $300k or $400k plus nearly usurious interest on joining their ranks, Old Guy cannot stop you. Just don't come crying to Old Guy, if he's still alive, when your sugar-plum dreams turn into nightmares of debt, despair, and desperation.

      And let me tell you another thing: a former teacher won't get anywhere in on-campus interviews. What the white-shoe law firms want is not someone who has devoted years to instructing children but some ass-eyed rich kid from the yacht club. The fact that Old Guy would take one dedicated teacher over a hundred ass-eyed rich kids from the yacht club matters not, because Old Guy himself is a washed-up, starving, useless, half-dead non-lawyer who has never been found anywhere near a white-shoe firm (nor a yacht club) and certainly isn't responsible for hiring recent graduates into those places.

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    8. To Old Guy 2:24 This person isn't that old but does have enough years of teaching experience to have proven the capability to perform in that profession. The only reason I can think of that someone would exchange a proven professional career that they can perform competently at, for law school and an unproven legal career, is ego alone. I am too good to be a mere teacher and world demands of me to become an attorney. I cannot think of any other reason.

      Delete
    9. @7:16,

      “The war on normal people.”

      Delete
    10. Old Guy: You have a point about the yacht club types. I think of biglaw lawyers like butlers: You aren't old-money rich yourself, but you are going to be in close proximity to such folk and thus must be a very trustworthy servant who will not embarrass them. As such, you must know the customs and rituals of the truly rich well enough to ape them effectively, and above all, you must be loyal.

      When you think about it, that's all the upper-middle class has ever really been: A caste that serves the people with real power. They're still wage slaves, but they're wage slaves who serve in close proximity to the truly rich, may handle matters of significant importance to them, and may even learn some potentially embarrassing secrets about them. So you have to pay them well enough that they will have too much to lose to ever turn against you. It's like being in ancient Rome's Praetorian Guard. From this perspective, your pay isn't even so much a matter of supply and demand as it is a matter of trust: You have to pay them enough that you can trust them, but not so much that they would become independently wealthy themselves. You need them to have too much to lose, but not so much that they could afford to lose a lot if they developed too much of a conscience.

      The leafy suburbs where parents who make like 200 or 300k are filled with such trustworthy servants, and their children are surely the best candidates to follow in their footsteps.

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  13. Sup Dyb!

    Here's an example of how...loose... certain academic standards are:

    "The Chicago Bulls and L.A. Lakers basketball teams use mindfulness to improve focus and work on the team aspect of the game." Cure at 237-238."

    This cites to: Leonard Riskin, The Contemplative Lawyer: On the Potential Contributions of Mindfulness Meditation to Law Students, Lawyers, and Their Clients, 7 HARV. NEGOT. L. REV. 1, 24 (2002).

    It specifically cites to page 4, fn 9. If you actually follow this rabbit hole, the Riskin article cites to a bunch of books/articles by Phil Jackson written b/t 95 and 2000; he coached the Bulls 1989-1998 and the Lakers from 1999-2011, and was notorious for using zen/etc. philosophies in his coaching precisely b/c it's rare, although it doesn't help to coach MJ and Kobe in their primes.

    From the practices of one coach who's been retired (well, out of coaching) 8 years, George converts it to the present tense and applies it to 2 organizations as an active corporate philosophy to push it on current organizations like it's a trend even though this was known 2 decades ago.

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  14. The fact that this nonsensical article was published in a law review is solid evidence about what a joke legal "scholarship" is.
    And there's nothing wrong with the concept of mindfulness. What is wrong is when it's used as a narcotic to anesthetize poor duped law students. So here's a legal exercise: go through the article and substitute "let them eat cake" each time the duped are instructed to "practice mindfulness". The overall meaning of the article won't change at all.

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    1. Not for nothing do I call it scholarshit.

      Anything useful to bench or bar doesn't count as scholarly work for the purpose of getting tenure; only stinky scholarshit does. In hackademic circles, the word practice is always uttered with a sneer.

      Delete
  15. One of only 5% to get student loans forgiven:

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/meet-the-law-student-who-had-38000-in-student-debt-forgiven-and-hes-one-of-just-5-of-applicants-who-managed-it-2019-08-06?siteid=yhoof2&yptr=yahoo

    And he still owes a ton of money(Harvard undergrad/Northeastern law school).

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    1. The comments are interesting.

      I really don't understand how this dude with a stable job fails to pay off such a low amount of loans. Someone commented he makes $80k a year. That's well above the median household income. These people just don't want to pay their loans off.

      The scam isn't that people with $80k /yr jobs can't afford to survive. The scam is those jobs are hard to come by and keep. This guy is one of the winners and he just won again.

      Failing to pay off $38k in 10 years is absurd. Auto loans are more than that and certainly a mortgage is much larger than that.

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    2. Actually not paying back the 38k makes a lot of sense; he basically played the system, which beats actually paying the money back-and keep in mind this guy still owes 68K in private loans for his education. He's a perfect example of why it's a very bad idea to go into debt for law school, which according to this article is the prime source of his education debt. He's near 40, still has 68K in education debt, has multiple roommates, no family, etc etc. What a mess.

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    3. "Failing to pay off $38k in 10 years is absurd."

      No it isn't. 38k was how much he had forgiven, not the original principal balance which at his income level even his IBR payment was probably paying it down, especially considering the fact that his private loans wouldn't even be factored in to the calculation of the income based payment. And that 70k in private loans would have carried a higher interest rate and have no IBR or PSLF.

      You also have to keep in mind that fed loans in that circa 2006 era during which he was in LS had very low interest, like 3% or less. Why the heck would he pay off a loan with an interest rate that low, and that has the prospect of forgiveness? It would make perfect financial sense to prioritize the private loans and put the federal ones on IBR.

      In addition, his share of the rent was previously less than $400, and even now it's only $625.

      Sounds to me like the guy is being very frugal and making all the right moves. I suppose it is sad that the "right moves" leave you pushing 40 and living in some sort of multi-roommate frathouse type situation when "normal" people are married with kids and a mortgage by that age, but he does live in Boston where that sort of thing is much more normal.

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  16. Found this on LinkedIn. Holy balls law school is a con. An American law school has 400 students, a German one more than 5,000, but the American one has more professors.

    Law School is a Scam
    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/law-school-scam-steven-waechter

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    1. Thanks for that. You can bet too that the professors in Germany are paid considerably less, teach more courses, and excrete a damn sight less scholarshit than their Yankee counterparts.

      The author is right about "public investment" and "public funding": they're just calls for more money for the law-school scam. I actually do support public funding of universities—with corresponding public accountability, high standards, low costs. Rare, however, is the law-school scamster who wants to see that. The scamsters want just the opposite: no accountability, no standards, a publicly and privately funded cash cow.

      The scamsters chant the mantra that "law school is not a trade school". Bullshit: a trade school is exactly what it is. Any course of study dedicated to training people for a single job—be it welder or lawyer—is a trade school. The sneering tone with which scam-professors utter the word practice does not negate the essentially vocational nature of law school. From Cooley to Harvard, law schools are glorified vo-techs.

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    2. When I was in law school many years ago, the professors embraced, completely and uniformly, an unbridled contempt for the law students. It was if the instructor were giving a speech, occasionally punctuated by a question to a terrified student. Even after a full semester-or even a full academic year for courses like property-the instructor made a point of not knowing any of the students' names. This was true even in the small section writing classes. My instructor in that case refused, even in a class of 20 or so, to even admit he knew anyone's name, even after a full semester. It was clear that "teaching" law students was a terrible and extremely unpleasant burden, and the professor's time was much better spent writing and publishing swill like the above.
      The reality is that virtually all law professors don't want to teach; they want to publish dreck and draw their unearned salaries. They want to have little or no contact with the students whether in or out of class. I once made the mistake, after a poor mid-term grade, of visiting my civil pro teacher(all were required to have posted, if very brief, office hours-although those hours were almost never honored). He had made the mistake of being in his office; I knocked on the half-way open door, announced myself, and walked in. His initial look was deer-in-the-headlights; he was shocked-and more than a little frightened-that a student had shown up. He had no idea who I was, even after 2 months of class. After seeing I was more scared than he-and I was-he stopped making eye contact, and dismissed my question("the answer is self-evident" he said) immediately; I never got the chance to sit down. The interaction lasted maybe 30 seconds.
      All believe that they are making a huge sacrifice, and that they'd be Biglaw partners if not teaching, making millions for their pearls of wisdom.
      So to them, it's not trade school; it's an opportunity to pontificate before a captive audience and occasionally terrify and hopefully humiliate a hapless law student. The vast majority have never practiced law, or practiced very briefly, and could care less than nothing about the actual practice of law.
      So the scam has many parts, but all come back to the same thing. Law school, in reality, is vo-tech(just like medical, dental, etc etc) but the hackademics don't want to admit that. It's much easier to take $$$ from a dupe if you're claiming to be teaching him to "think like a lawyer' rather than actually preparing him to be employed after graduation.

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    3. You make very good points, but today's law students are also a deeply, deeply flawed group of people. They honestly think they will graduate from law school into a job working as a JAG Officer with the US Navy like Tome Cruise in that movie, or like the folks on the JAG TV show. . .they literally do not know that there are hundreds of applications for every one of those job slots (and there are quite few of those slots). Or they think that they will walk into a big prestigious law firm making a big salary like the actors on Suits, and when you painstakingly try to explain to them that 90 percent of the law students in their school will never even get an interview with Biglaw, let alone a job offer, they deny this reality. They literally refuse to understand what actually happens to the great majority of modern law school graduates, or they think they are "special" and won't be like all the rest. They literally do not know that, or understand why, temporary document review projects today pay half of what they did 15 years ago, adjusted for inflation. When I have tried to explain to law students that 7 years of education, followed by a two-day bar exam, is infinitely more likely to lead to part work for 20-24 dollars an hour on document review projects than strolling on the deck of an aircraft carrier in Navy Blues, or cocktails with the partners at a big law firm, they flatly refuse to believe me. And I have been successfully practicing law for decades, so what do I know?

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    4. I'll give you credit for trying. I gave up after trying to explain what the job market was like to one too many 0Ls and being told I was just "bitter" because they were special and different and were going to be in the 10% and get a Biglaw or ACLU or Greenpeace or whatever job. Now when anyone asks me if they should go to law school, I just nod and smile.

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    5. """You make very good points, but today's law students are also a deeply, deeply flawed group of people. They honestly think they will graduate from law school into a job working as a JAG Officer with the US Navy like Tome Cruise in that movie, or like the folks on the JAG TV show. """ I doubt this. People go to law school to be lawyers because they think it is a career they will enjoy and hopefully earn a living doing. I don't think it is any more than that. They are making a go of it. Whether they should is an individual decision.

      Delete
    6. They may want to be lawyers, but there's a definite disconnect when it comes to realizing how difficult it is to get a job. And the disconnect between jobs, debt, and which school you attend is almost counter-intuitive. It would make sense if you were to attend a law school with poor employment prospects, it would cost less and you'd have less debt, right?
      Well, that's wrong; here's the USNWR list of law schools and debt; they rank by % of grads with the debt listed.
      https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/grad-debt-rankings
      It's pretty clear-the worst schools(in terms of graduation job prospects) saddle their grads with the most debt.
      So when these prospective 0Ls spoke to me about attending(in fairness, it was usually their non-lawyer parents who made them ask me about this), I'd try to persuade them, and point them to information like the above, the 509s, this blog, etc. That led to way too many responses of "you're bitter" or "I'm special" etc etc from 0Ls ready to sign up at Cooley or TJ or the like. For example, when I asked how they'd afford to pay this debt, assuming they got a 60K/year job, the response was: I'll get one of those 160k/yr jobs. Or-even more astounding-"I don't care about debt; I want to save the whales/the immigrants/the poor/the poor immigrant baby whales. When I tried to explain debt servicing companies didn't care about your intentions, just about their money, I was met with blank stares or blind fury with insults up to an including "you nothing but a bitter person"(for encouraging people to check out the facts). But it was clear they had never bothered to look or do any research at all, and they weren't going to look on my advice. The overall view: don't confuse me with the facts. I'm special, I'm going to be a lawyer, I'm going to make bank AND change the world, so drop dead with you so-called "facts"-I'm so special, I'm going to make it. It really did seem as if they got most of their information from TV shows; where they'd fight for the poor wearing their $1500 suits and their $300 haircuts. So I gave up, and just nod and smile, since all people want is affirmation of their bad decisions, not actual advice.
      So as harsh as it may sound, 12:34p has it just about right.

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    7. —— It would make sense if you were to attend a law school with poor employment prospects, it would cost less and you'd have less debt, right?

      It might make sense if people could freely choose among the law schools. But they can't.

      A Cooleyite would happily take Harvard at much the same cost. But the Cooleyite can't get into Harvard. It's either Cooley or nothing, and of course Cooleyites tend to be too goddamn stupid to take the latter option. So Cooley gets away with charging more or less what Harvard charges.

      —— For example, when I asked how they'd afford to pay this debt, assuming they got a 60K/year job, the response was: I'll get one of those 160k/yr jobs.

      They'd be lucky to get a job paying $60k, or even any job in law, or for that matter any job at all. Hell, many of them cannot even pass the bar exams.

      —— Or-even more astounding-"I don't care about debt; I want to save the whales/the immigrants/the poor/the poor immigrant baby whales.

      Anyone who doesn't care about debt doesn't intend to repay it and shouldn't be allowed to borrow money.

      I also wonder how anyone can possibly be stupid enough to expect to be paid $160k per year to save poor immigrant baby whales.

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  17. And this is why the scam continues.

    The entire system insists education is good and law school is good.

    Rather than attacking the parents, teachers, politicians, bankers, media and even the law school admins themselves, people would rather attack young inexperienced people who can't see through the brainwashing that sophisticated adults can't see through or are doing themselves.

    What kind of sick, pathetic, failure of a society fails to guide its young and then attacks them for it? The social contract has always been the duty of the established generations to guide the newer ones, not exploit them mercilessly and then mock them.

    It's a wonder to me that young people don't just get fed up and fight their oppressors. God knows as I've gotten older I've gotten weaker and more tired. I can only imagine how much weaker and helpless the generations older than me are. To get trashed by these Boomer jerks is annoying. Especially while funding their health care and retirement.

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  18. 5:36-not sure which "failure of a society" nurtured you, but the good ole USA has a long history of bundling up its young and sending them off to war-unless you've got bone spurs, of course.
    And you seem to miss the entire point of the above posts: efforts were made to persuade these Special Snowflakes not to attend law school, and those efforts were met with a barrage of insults, as the snowflakes were sure that they were, indeed, special. At some point, when people make terrible decisions despite the efforts of others to persuade them not to, people are responsible for their own actions. You can cry "brainwashing" all you want, but it's clear that what's going on is a total failure to a. do any actual research when it comes to adult decisions(like taking on a couple of hundred thousand in debt) and b. some bizarre sense that they'll be the ones who succeed, despite 200K in debt and a JD from Cooley and a barrage of facts to the contrary.
    So blame the Boomers-or some other boogeyman-all you want. At some point, especially in the face of evidence which can be discovered with minimal effort, people are responsible for their own actions.
    And most of the scammers are now well past the Boomer generation; the Boomers have done their looting and have retired. But I guess it doesn't sound so great to try and pin the blame on "generation X parasites"....
    Law school, for just about everybody, is a bad idea. But when people like 12:34, speaking from experience, try to explain to 0Ls what it's really like and are roundly ignored, who's fault is that?

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    1. The oldest Boomers are in their early seventies. Many of them are still occupying jobs—and refusing to push off. The youngest boomers are in their late fifties and will still plague us for a long time.

      "Generation X parasites" is indeed a strange phrase, precisely because it is wrong. Generation X has been cheated and abused at almost every goddamn turn. We were the latchkey children whom Generation X (and for that matter the Silent Generation) didn't want, we came of age once the Boomers had ruined the economy after laying waste like a plague of locusts, we were stuck with extremely expensive tuition and lousy prospects for employment, and now we're sandwiched between two much larger generations that are greedy and self-absorbed. When the hell have we had the opportunity to be parasitic?

      The dolts who turn abusive when their plans to borrow a third of a million for a toilet-paper degree from Cooley get absolutely no sympathy from me. I can only say that they should not be allowed to borrow money for that purpose, because they obviously don't treat the debt as real. I'm also inclined to say that they should be slapped, but I'd better not.

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    2. While the Boomers deserve all the opprobrium possible, you've missed the torch being passed. The new dean of Cooley got his BA in 1994, making him a child of the 70s, well past boomer time. The dean of the esteemed Florida Coastal got her BFA-in acting, no less-in 1995-another child of the 70s. The torch of scamming is being passed to a new generation.

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    3. We have someone who works with us who is not a boomer. They are not a boomer because they were born BEFORE 1945. You can forget boomers retiring; people who are older than boomers haven't even retired yet.

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    4. Yes, but the "efforts" to persuade the "snowflakes" still mostly consists of stuff on internet message boards and blogs. Those are not more persuasive voices than the people they know IRL who raised them from a very young age to think that there's no such thing as too much education and that the only difference between success and failure is the amount of work you put in.

      And in any case, the schools very much do take advantage of people who don't truly understand what they're signing. Notice how student loans don't become "student loans" until it's time to pay them back? When you take them out, they are called "financial aid." lol.

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  19. "What kind of sick, pathetic, failure of a society fails to guide its young and then attacks them for it?"

    Do lawyers in other countries have the same problems that American lawyers do in the U.S.? In Europe? Japan? Latin America? In Australia?

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    1. From 2016, so may be out of date but here goes
      (Japan):https://www.wsj.com/articles/japanese-lawyers-problem-too-few-cases-1459671069
      Canada:
      https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/marketreport/outlook-occupation/15815/ON
      EU:
      https://www.nomikosodigos.info/en/articles/824-overpopulation-of-lawyers-in-greece
      UK: https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/warning-as-number-of-solicitors-tops-140000/5063349.article
      Australia: https://www.lawyersweekly.com.au/sme-law/22768-frustration-grows-over-unis-cashing-in-on-law-grad-oversupply

      Again, all may be out of date as they are a couple of years old, but the common themes seem to be technology affecting jobs and law schools cranking out too many graduates.

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    2. No idea about Japan or Latin America, but I think that most first-world common law countries have oversupply in the sense that there are more LLBs than there are jobs for practicing solicitors or barristers.

      However, law is an undergraduate major (LLB) rather than a doctorate, and getting a license requires a lengthy apprenticeship after you graduate. So if you're one of the people who can't get a job, you probably won't get the apprenticeship either and will thus be weeded out quite early. And since it was just your undergrad major, you have far less debt and are far less pigeonholed.

      In other words, there is an oversupply, but most people who can't find work in the law probably find it easier than US JDs to go do something else.

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    3. Thanks for the links above.

      In some countries, large numbers of students are weeded out. Most of those who start to study law in Germany, for instance, don't even get a degree, never mind a license to practice. Law is also a far more demanding course of study. You won't find any candy-ass courses on "Hip-Hop and the German Constitution" or "Counter-Narratives of the Open Road™" in any German law school.

      You're also right about apprenticeships. These are required in Canada, Mexico, and many other countries. The US is unusual, probably unique, in turning loose on the world scads of dolts with nothing but a degree from an über-toilet and a passing score on a couple of unchallenging multiple-choice tests. And charging them a few hundred thousand dollars for the privilege.

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