Saturday, March 30, 2013

Would you spend $100,000 to go to chess school?

Money Quote: "Law schools reported that 56.2 percent of the 46,364 graduates from the Class of 2012 were employed in long-term, full-time positions where passage of the bar exam was required, compared with 54.9 percent for the class of 2011 — a 1.3 percentage point increase."

Perhaps we scam bloggers should start thinking that the glass is half full!

New Book Questions Preferential Legal Treatment of Religious Liberty (Outcome Magazine from The University of Chicago News Office)

Brian Leitner's new book "Why Tolerate Religion?" is now out. Act now by following the above link and you can be the first to comment about Professor Leitner's new book in the open thread.

Money Quote: "Looking back, he says, he probably would have skipped law school. Our source went to law school in the first place because it was 'intellectually challenging,' he says. 'But the problem is just because something is intellectually challenging it doesn't mean you have to make a career [out of it],' our source told us. 'Chess is interesting, but does that mean you should pay $100,000 to go to chess school? Obviously there isn't a huge market for professional chess players ... It's an exaggeration, but I feel like the legal industry is just as bad as the professional chess industry.'

Another cautionary tale. One and done. You are damaged goods.

Wasting Away in Baristaville

Why a BA is Now a Ticket to a Job in a Coffee Shop by Megan McArdle (The Daily Beast)

Money Quote: "A growing number of students may be in a credentialling arms race to gain access to routine service jobs."

Money Quote: “The times of graduating from medical school and driving a Porsche are done,” said Dr. Dana Lowenthal, a first-year radiology resident and fourth-generation doctor. “It was never easy, but there was light at the end of the tunnel. This is new territory.”

So, if a BA gets you a job in a coffee shop, and MD radiology dream jobs are disappearing, what does a JD get you?

Study Find Class Affects Law School Experience by Aleksandra Gjorgievska (Yale Daily News)

Money Quote: "When Yale Law School sends out its coveted admission letters, the nation's top-ranked law school may not be guaranteeing an equal shot at success for all members of its future classes, a new report has found....Based on 243 student responses to the survey, the report highlights student concerns related to class differences -- such as access to informal networks that are only available to upper-class students -- and recommends strategies for addressing them."

So..."All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others"? At the end of the day the LSAT and GPA don't really matter? It comes down to class and networks?

The Case Against the Law Firm Billable Hour by Steven J. Harper (New York Times Op-Ed)

Money Quote: "The billable-hour system is the way most lawyers in big firms charge clients, but it serves no one. Well, almost no one. It brings most equity partners in those firms great wealth. Law firm leaders call it a leveraged pyramid. Most associates call it a living hell."

Steven J. Harper seems to be publishing articles everywhere in support of his new book The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in CrisisHas anybody read the book? Anything new in it?

Government Data Reveal Freestanding Private Law Schools Growing Reliance on GRAD Plus Loans by Matt Leichner (AmLaw Daily)

Money Quote: "Private law schools in general have rapidly absorbed new forms of federal lending, and they are a dominant player in the Grad PLUS Loan Program. Due to the heavy debts and poor employment outcomes that graduates of FSP law schools must contend with, it's likely that we'll be hearing more about them as they grapple with fewer resources. With the Higher Education Act up for renewal this year, hopefully we will also see more calls for ending the unlimited lending law schools thrive on."

I hereby call for ending the unlimited lending law schools thrive on. (Great article with lots of statistics to back up his arguments. Worth a read for those of you filling out applications to Cooley and New England School of Law.)

Alums' Bellwether Fraud Suit Against New York Law School Fails on Appeal by Karen Sloan (Connecticut Law Tribune)

Money Quote: "[The law school alumni attorney] Strauss expressed disappointment that his team was unable to accomplish its primary goal, which was to secure compensation for the New York Law School plaintiffs, but saw a silver lining: "Our secondary goal was to change the way law schools operate and increase transparency, and we've done that," he said. 

An update for those of you following the scamlaw litigation.

[Sorry for all the formatting issues. This is a learn as you go project. Blogger doesn't offer all the formatting options as Word.]

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Treasury of Idiotic Quotes by Law School Profs. and Deans, Vol. II (The Versatility Edition)

This is the second installment in my series entitled "Idiotic Quotes by Law Profs." Most of the quotes in the first installment reflected the declarants' idiotic belief that legal instruction is best provided by six-figure salaried scholars (and pseudo-scholars) who have limited background or interest in actual lawyering.
This set of idiotic quotes concerns the versatility of the JD degree, or simply the all-around wonderfulness of being a law student. Proponents of the view that a JD is versatile assert that nonlaw white collar employers are eager to offer employment to JDs in light of the super-cerebral skills that can only be had by attending law school. The truth is otherwise-- any mystique that a JD once held has been destroyed by the massive overproduction of lawyers. Now, in fact, a law degree carries toxic connotations. It is a degree that seems to convey the message: "I have no marketable skills, but I have elite expectations and an argumentative personality." 

The quotes below are clearly idiotic, and so are worthy of inclusion in this series. Yet, I do not really consider these quotes to be scamming, as I define it. Scamming means offering economic arguments about how a law degree is worth millions of dollars in future earnings or will become a rare and valuable asset as the boomers retire. Such scamming arguments may be highly enticing to those who do not realize that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the economy will create 218,800 job openings for lawyers, including growth and replacement needs, and including part-time jobs, during the decade of 2010-2020, in contrast to the 450,000 JDs that law schools are primed to confer during the same period.

I doubt that many kids spend three years and $100,000+ on law school in order to compete for a job in human resources or to find inner bliss. So why are these quotes relevant? Why do so many law deans and professors keep yapping about versatility or about the intellectual and personal fulfillment that can be found only in law school? I believe that it is about self-delusion. These academics believe fervently in the myth of versatility because it helps them avoid a painful truth and its moral implications-- namely, that most of their students, the kids who trusted them and made them rich, emerge from law school with brutally curtailed life options and prospects, rather than expanded ones.

Forgive the long-winded introduction. As usual, notes and links to sources appear at the bottom.

Inflated Billing Practices, Part II

To pick up where RAB left off on March 27, 2013, I myself am looking forward to the demise of the hourly billing model.  Because, to be frank, it’s a scam - and people have known it for years.

I used to work as an engineer, and I tend to compare what I do now as an attorney in a “JD-Advantage” (I still can’t type that without chuckling grimly) position to what I did prior.  As an engineer, I had to charge my time to various contract jobs that went through the factory, just as attorneys in private practice bill their clientele for individual cases.

My beef with the hourly billing model is that it is hardly an exact science to begin with, and is fraught with potential for abuse (“shocker!”).  I review attorney bills all the time, and laugh at what is charged to me for essentially “churning the file” in many, many cases.  Even when dealing with people who do try to bill accurately and ethically, one runs into what I call the “Airplane” dilemma.

The dilemma is as follows: I’m on an airplane for (client/contract X) business travel, and I have three hours to kill.  I am billing (client/contract X) for my travel time and expenses.  Fair enough.  Now, I can kick back and do nothing, or I can work on another (client/contract Y) file for those three hours.

If I work on another file, the engineer in me says “I’m not creating time ex nihilo here; there are only three hours at play.  If I work on “Y” on the plane, then I am not simultaneously going to bill “X” for those same three hours.  I’m not two people doing two jobs at once – that’s why they are called “man-hours.”  Frankly, it’s also ethical to not charge “X” more than my travel expenses while I am doing actual file-work for “Y” on the plane.”

If I work on another file, the lawyer in me says “Woo-hoo!  Double time!  I’m traveling for X for three hours!  Charge ‘em!  I’m working on Y’s file!  Charge ‘em!”

The difference here is that as an engineer I was salaried, while as a lawyer, it’s eat what you kill.  If both “X” and “Y” were going through the same factory and I worked on both projects in an engineering capacity, it was considered a courtesy to split my time appropriately between projects.  Both projects benefitted from my presence (i.e. troubleshooting), “X” and “Y” both had product roll off the line at the end of the day, and I get paid either way.  It would be unfair for me to tag “X” with all my hours and not tag “Y” for any, as that would be a free ride for Y.  It would be equally unfair to charge “X” and “Y” the exact same time apiece, because I am splitting my time between both jobs, not working both jobs simultaneously.  Both “X” and “Y” had given “retainers” to the factory, and I needed to charge those retainers appropriately.

I remember trying to explain this to law professors (in an ethics class, no less), law students, and practitioners alike.  They all looked at me with furrowed brows and said “you bill X and Y for the same time” as if I was a dolt and there was no dilemma at all.

It was then that I realized the scammy nature of law practice and billing.  I viewed the world in terms of “man-hours”, but lawyers viewed the world in terms of “billables.”  The fact that a human being cannot be two places at once, nor actually work on two jobs simultaneously, leads to situations where one person can charge more than 24 “hours” a day.  And the increase from the ABA recommended 1,300 billable hours a year in the 1950s to 2,200+ billable "hours" a year, todayAnd this does not take into account actively “churning the file”, as shown in the case of DLA Piper.

I remember meeting a 25-year-old attorney at a interviewing function back when I was in law school.  She was nice, intelligent, and freely admitted that “look, I’m brand new, and I don’t know what I’m doing.”  I appreciated her candor.  But I also knew she was earning $160k back in the hey-day of legal practice and that, in principle, was ridiculous.  But it was a “big name” firm, so whatevs.  Boomer partners gotta get that PPP.

Again, no offense to her.  But $160k at 25, in 2003?  I knew of engineering managers with 20-30 years experience that didn’t earn that.  The simple fact that the billable model was unsustainable and is now crashing is a long overdue correction, not unlike all the other bubbles that our economy is apparently predicated upon.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Breaking News: New York Judges Are Still Corrupt

Today, the Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York, decided not to consider an appeal to the First Department’s affirmation of the New York Law School lawsuit.  You may remember presiding Judge Schweitzer for saying that the nine class action plaintiffs were “sophisticated consumers” and that no reasonable consumer, let alone a sophisticated consumer, would believe the garbage employment statistics published by NYLS.  Like many of the decisions that have dismissed the scam-suits, his opinion was filled with inaccurate information and bad math.  His logic was not better.  Basically, he stated that an egregious lie is more protected under the law than a subtle trick.  In other words, the idea that NYLS was a respectable law school that actually produced practicing lawyers was so absurd that no one could believe it, especially a sophisticated consumer. 

So you want to be a K-JD? Not so fast

I'm a K-JD, unfortunately.  I knew that most people wait a year or two before enrolling in law school after they graduate college.  I reasoned that because I wanted to be a lawyer (or so I thought), it would be better to get through law school faster so I could start my legal career.  I scored at about the 80th percentile at 160 after studying moderately over a few months (which I thought at the time was a good score, and I eventually get a full-ride at a school with a median of 150).

In a thread I recently read at Top-Law-Schools, a TLS regular told someone who had scored a 157 and was asking for law school advice that their LSAT number is more important to law schools than someone's college GPA.  Because of that, the TLS regular reasoned, the original poster (OP) should spend at least four to six months of hard studying in order to see what he or she could acheive before attending law school.

A K-JD is, by definition, someone who was in school from kindergarten through college, and begins attending law school the Fall semester after they graduate.  Unless the K-JD is someone who graduates a semester early and spends the off-semester prepping for the LSAT, they do not have the clear schedule needed to adequately prepare for the LSAT.  Adequate, in this use, would mean putting forth the same effort into mastering the LSAT that the person put getting their undergraduate degree.

The LSAT, as many of us know, is a very learnable test.  In my case, the very first practice test I took I scored a 150, and after a few months of moderate study I was getting high 150's and low 160's, ending with 160.  Some people's first practice test is much lower, and some people score much higher. 

Because the LSAT is so important to law school admissions; where you get in, how much money you are offered and at what schools, which will have profound effects for the rest of someone's life, it is a wonder why there are so many K-JD's.  Using my situation as an example, if I had spent a year after college working full-time and studying 30 hours a week on the LSAT, I probably could have scored high enough to get accepted to at least some of the lower T14's (the area where I had the most trouble were the logic games, which are some of the most learnable sections), and significant money offers from Tier 1's.

Many law students, including K-JD's, use the transfer game to make up for underperforming on the LSAT.  This isn't as good as performing up to their LSAT potential the first time around: they will miss out on scholarship money, law review, moot court, developing peer and professorial relationships, and be in a weaker situation for OCI.

My misinformed self figured a 160 was "good enough."  After all, lawyers make good money, and even if you are not making six figures, many mid-to-high five-figures legal jobs were there.  Law schools outside the level of Harvard still will adequately prepare you for the practice of law, and because all law schools teach the same things, a retake isn't necessary.

Talking to non-scholarship receiving 1L's last year made it clear to me that the LSAT itself was not very important to many of them.  I wonder what the LSAT talks are like at schools with higher medians.  Are the people attending schools with medians of 160+, many of which have employment statistics that are similar or worse than mine, scoring at the top of their potential? 

Us scambloggers are often stereotyped as trying to steer everyone away from law school.  I'm not sure that that is true.  I think we support and even encourage people who adequately inform and prepare themselves for law school to apply.

K-JD's, by-and-large do not adequately inform and prepare themselves for law school.  If they would, they would spend more time researching law schools and fully devoting themselves to getting a good score on the LSAT, and that simply is not possible unless someone graduates early.  This group is the youngest and least-informed of all who apply and attend law schools, and their indifference to the LSAT and ability to borrow enormous amounts of federal student loans makes them attractive targets for law schools who feed on marginal candidates.

As others have noted, outreach and activism for K-JD's group can be achieved at colleges through pre-law classes and clubs. Think about using your status as an alumni to help a few people make sure they prepare and inform themselves about law school.

Seething Hall Mall Skooll (with McLaren F1 debt!)‏

Last night, at Prince's Hall, Mr Whistler made his first public appearance as a lecturer on art, and spoke for more than an hour with really marvellous eloquence on the absolute uselessness of all lectures of the kind. —Wilde

[Robin Williams voice:] Gooooooooood mooooooooorning, ScamDeans! Riiiiiiiiise n' shine!

Luckily, I personally never spent any time in Seething hall. I wonder what would have happened, though, had I fallen for what poker players call the "Seething Hall Sucker Play" (i.e., trying to go to law school there). When I was considering going to law school, someone else who was also applying told me that "The Hall" offered him some 30 g's of scholarship money. To my surprise, that did not even cover all of tuition; there was another $6,000 due. He had to beg a special committee to get that extra 6 g's, and word on the street is that they put all the scholarship students in the same section to ensure most would lose their hats by the next year, since scholarships are on condition one finishes close enough to the top of the class. It puzzled me that even getting 30k off the sticker still left 6k a year to pay, which sounds very low—Walmart nay, dollar store low—now with tuition inflation and the other six-figure numbers we see here lately. But think carefully before you judge 6k a year as penny-ante: at three years of it, with interest, you have 20k or so, a substantial debt by itself, to all but the Rich Uncle Pennybags one-percenters. By comparison, 20k would be enough to start a well-funded at-home business, or even a seeder fund for a larger business. Even a paltry 20k of debt is a lot of dough to bake on an uncertain outcome. Luckily, I refused to think that a job at the end of law skooll was guaranteed, as I did not fully trust the "job placement number tango" that they advertised (99% of Seething Hall stupents become millionaires within 9 months of graduation!). 
I wonder what could possibly be wrong with Seething Hall? On that note, let's take a quick break. We need to raise money to pay for this blog, so let me give a "shout out" to our new sponsor:
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

NYT: Inflated billing practices?

A hot article at the New York Times right now discusses a lawsuit brought against the law firm DLA Piper for over billing. Discovery by the client unearthed a number of emails where associates joked and reveled about churning and over billing the file. There are almost 500 comments at this point where lawyers and clients are weighing in on the practice. This really bad PR is a further nail in the coffin of Big Law and its system of training young lawyers at the expense of clients for the profit of partners.

Anyone like to comment here on how this will effect law schools as clients begin to revolt or about billing practices in general?

Leiter's Phone Hacked! Photos Found!

Somebody hacked Brian Leiter's phone and forwarded me some pictures that were found. Below is one of the less "explicit".  Looks like our favorite plump professor has got him some sweet gangsta-style chest ink.  Could that be his professor gang name that he's rocking?  Check out what he seems to have emailed his professor buddies, all of whom I'm sure are green with envy.  Or from nausea.

(Professor Piety thought it was awesome, and promised to send a pic of hers back.  Which is, incidentally, on her back.  A tramp stamp.  I'll see if I can find that one for you all.)

More photos next week.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Opposition's First Epistle: Be Nice to Taxpayers

Generic Law Scam Victims
1000 Unemployment Lane
Loserville, USA (probably California)

Greetings Lesser Beings:

We here at the Law School Truth Center understand your plight, much in the same way that mortgage predators understand their customers' plights.  Got to have a blueprint to rob a joint.  You are victims.  We know.  We exploited the crap out of you.

Yet your exploitation does not justify lashing out against the fine taxpayers of this country.  We speak of Freddy the Fireman, Carrie the Carpenter (hey, no gender stereotypes here), Denny the Dentist, and Guillermo the Gardner (hey, stereotypes exist for a reason).  These hard-working individuals slave tirelessly and dutifully pay exorbitant tax rates to Uncle Sam.  Our entire economy runs on their sweat and their sacrifices and their ability to gain credit card approval.

Application Stagnation: Skimming off the top of the 0L pool

Usually underdog/protest/scam blogs have bad news to report, as that is (regretfully) the nature of our situation. After all, if things were good, there would be no need to write about them very much, and little impetus to read of them either. The sorrow caused by the ScamDeans and the Professors like Prof. Tammy Piety/Privity/Charity—whatever the Sillygoose's name is—normally provides enough material (i.e. injustice) for us to address and leaves little time for other things. Sometimes, however, good news happens. 

For several years now we have seen declining enrollments by 0L's. Law School Tuition Bubble has more graphs and numbers for your perusal, but the short answer is that the number of LSAT takers in the year 2013 have declined down to the number of takers in the year 2001. That is important, and unlike the Skool's contempt of criticism, it cannot be ignored. After twelve years, the legal education complex has now not got a single more LSAT taker. Stagnation, dude! It sux. This is bigger news than one might realize, because in the last twelve years nineteen (19) lovely new law schools have opened—but not a single additional applicant in the pool. It is not just applicants, but actual enrolled stupents (I mean, students) are also in decline, as reflected in the lower LSAT takers. After all, the fewer LSAT takers, the fewer 1L's. What strikes the observer as the most interesting two points to take from this is that:

Monday, March 25, 2013

Opportunity Costs: The Real Opportunity?

Following on from what I wrote a couple of days ago (the piece about measuring the financial value of the JD, and why it should be valued in such blunt terms), I wanted to take a look at the other side of the equation: opportunity costs.  We all know what these are; the cost of not taking an alternative (or giving up what you currently have).  For example, an opportunity cost of attending law school is the loss of whatever earnings you may have made in your second choice of career, including the three years of additional earning you missed out on because you attended law schools.

But this isn’t about economics.  It’s about how these opportunity costs figure into the decision to attend law school.  And rather than approach opportunity costs as an afterthought in the analysis, I’m going to suggest that they take center stage.

This is probably best explained by example.  Take me, for instance.  When I approached my decision to attend law school many years ago, I was all about the analysis.  I looked at facts, figures (sadly, most of which were provided by the law schools directly or indirectly, and which contained flaws and outright lies that were hidden from me, but that’s another story), I made spreadsheets, I calculated costs, benefits, likely chances of success, and I went to town.  And opportunity costs were in that analysis too.

But I still made a bad decision, and not only because law schools were feeding me horsemeat when I thought I was eating beef.  What I failed to do was place appropriate focus on my analysis.  In my analysis, law school was the option that was being evaluated.  It was all about law school.  Do I go or not?  It is worth it or not?  Will I enjoy it or not?  But it was all about law school – the JD was the star of the show.

In reality, my analysis should have been flipped on its head.  It should have been a decision about why I should reject the path that featured as the lowly “opportunity cost” in my analysis, rather than a decision about law school with opportunity costs as a small part of that whole.  Why should I turn my back on what I already have?

In other words, my analysis should have approached the decision not from a standpoint of “why should I attend law school?”, and not even from a standpoint of “why should I not attend law school?”, but instead from a standpoint of “why should I stop doing what I’m doing now, and what I’ve always thought I would be doing?”

To put this into context a little more, here’s what hurts about my decision to attend law school.  Sure, the student debt and the lies and the fraud and the general scam that is the legal profession and the legal education system, that all stings.  But that’s a skin-deep sting.  That stuff stings when I look at my bank account, when I look at my student loan bills each month, when I realize how much financial devastation that decision caused and will continue to cause.  The thought that there are admissions staff and wealthy professors still sitting in comfy little offices at my law school, peddling their lies, their defective product, their overpriced trash.  The thought that I spent years working as a lawyer and hating every single minute of it, that stings too, but again, only skin-deep.  All that wasted time and money. It’s there every morning when I wake up, I feel it throughout the day, and it’ll be there when I go to sleep at night.  For the past decade, and for the next.  Then when the financial hardships and memory of law school are a distant past, that skin-deep stinging will fade.

But what really hurts, what really will last forever, is the ache deep in my bones, far away from the direct effects of law school.  Forget the financial stinging, the wasted years, forget all of that.  It’s nothing compared to this crushing ache.  And this ache is caused not by money or lawyers or professors, not by regrets over time wasted in law school classrooms and late nights spent with client files.  The ache, the sickening, excruciating, but quiet ache underneath all of it, is caused by the realization that I gave up something I loved doing for law school.  I gave up a regular job in a field that had interested me since I was a child, nothing that would make me rich, but something that I was interested in, something that was moderately stable, just a regular, little old job; the kind of job that if you had asked me at age 10, 15, and even 20, I would have said would suit me just fine. Then law school came along, with its lies and “you can do better than that, you can be more than just that, you can be a better one of those with a JD”.

That’s what aches.  The fact that I gave up so quickly on something that I enjoyed, something that I was suited for, something that would have been just fine.  Not the fact that my first choice (JD) has caused a decade of depression, stress and financial ruin, but the fact that the thing I relegated to merely an “opportunity cost” is what I should have been doing with my life.  It’s an ache that I gave up what I had worked towards for the large part of my life until my last couple of years of college, until I started curiously clicking on law school websites and falling into the trap.

It’s the ache that is caused not by doing something wrong and screwing up, but by hurting someone who trusted you in the process.  The mistake can be fixed.  The betrayal can't.

The loss of the opportunity is what I will always regret, not the failure of the decision to attend law school.  Nothing will ever replace that.  I don’t regret setting foot in law school as much as regret handing in my two weeks’ notice to my boss before going to law school.  I regret giving up what I had more than I regret the utter waste of time and money that law school and a legal career has been.  What's worse is that I would have regretted turning my back on this even if I was currently a successful lawyer.

Could I go back to it?  Meh, too old, too in debt, not the person I used to be.  That door is closed.  Could I do other things?  Sure, and I’m working on that, but none will replace that bygone betrayal.

Don’t overlook what you’re treating as a mere opportunity cost.  Chances are, that’s the real opportunity.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Scalia criticizes modern law schools

“Scalia in NH: Modern law school ‘failed’ students,” as reported by Portsmouth Herald (via and New Hampshire Union Leader)

Yes, but Scalia’s thinking is that law schools are failing for different reasons than are probably on your mind right this second:

1.     It includes too many elective classes unrelated to law;

2.     Lack of a prescribed curriculum means that the classes aren’t rigorous and allow students to be lazy and avoid ‘‘the austere pleasures of doctrinal courses,’’

3.     Scalia also poked at law professors because they are ‘‘prominent not because of how they teach but how they publish’’ and the publishing often involves irrelevant legal scholarship.

Jordan Budd, the associate dean for academic affairs at UNH School of Law was happy to report that Scalia’s critique of law schools in general had no application to their school! They focus on “substantial practical experience” with courses focusing on basic law like Constitutional law! Boy, that sure would have been awkward if Scalia had been talking about them!

Apparently Scalia did not mention that whole "no jobs" thing that modern law students care about. Maybe if we added about 200,000 seats a year on the high court that would help out.

Want to Write?

The past month has shown that this project has legs.  And the past month has shown that there are quality writers out there to support this blog and keep it moving onto bigger and better things.

If you want to join us as a writer, send an email to outsidethelawschoolscam at gmail dot com.  If you can match the quality of what's been produced so far, and if you have something you'd like to say on a semi-regular basis (once a week or more), then you're welcome to add your voice to the conversation.  Anybody, from prospective applicants wading through piles of conflicting information, law students struggling or succeeding, law grads who are living the dream or living the nightmare, recovering JDs, law professors with a conscience (we're big on anonymity and we look after our own), to law school administrators who know where the bodies are buried.

The door is always open.  Contact us for details.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

(Social) Contracts 101

This comment was posted anonymously yesterday, and I felt it needed to be reposted on its own.  It sums things up nicely.  Thanks to whoever took the time to write it.  Everyone else - enjoy.

Yes, I have a sense of entitlement. You know why? Because from age 5 to age 18, every parent, teacher, and guidance counselor told me that if I worked hard and went to college and succeeded, there would be a place for me in the economy. I'm smart and have worked hard my entire life. Go to college, everyone said, and you'll make more than a living wage; you'll make enough to be a positive member of the community, etc. A great mind itself was the skill set.

From 18-22 I heard the same thing, that by getting a degree at my school, I would be a shoe-in to get a solid job in business, consulting, etc., and that even if I didn't, I could get a masters or go to law school and be incredibly marketable. I worked for a few years and went to a law school that promised 90+% employment at a median salary of $80k. I specifically asked about non-law opportunities, and I got a gushing career services person who told me the value of the degree to local employers in business, government, compliance, etc.

Now, people want you want to tell me I have a sense of entitlement to expect anything more than breaking even. Well, YES, I DO. Because I've heard 25 years of lies that constitute a form of social contract that no one actually wants to honor.

All I needed was the truth. In high school, in college, and before law school. But society - predominantly the boomer generation - chronically lied to me (and my whole generation) about the marketability of certain skills.

I would have been better off getting a community college degree in HVAC or auto mechanics or healthcare or plumbing or IT networking stuff. I'd be 10 years into a career of some kind and debt-free.

So yeah, I feel I'm entitled to a certain level based on the systematic representations of the society at large. It doesn't help that peers in undergrad with equal or lesser skillsets make 50-60k based on who mommy and daddy are or that peers in law school now make 80k because they interned with the right person and I networked with the wrong crowd.

AND FOR THAT MATTER, don't even get me started on the numerous entitlements and social contracts that Baby Boomers and the War Generation have demanded and/or benefited from. People in those generations are absolutely not in any place to whine about entitlements under implied social contracts.

So yeah, I feel entitled. I should feel entitled, as should anyone who invested in an education or training that pledged certain returns. At the very least, I should have the right to declare bankruptcy, but in a sane society there would be some sort of restitution or grant system to account for the massive deception at work in oversupplying a generation with massive amounts of training funded by nondischargable debt that the economy has no use for.

I'm not entitled to a full-time job because I graduated from a law school. But I am entitled to something for the fact that I've invested all of my adult life in personal betterment and spent considerable sums/opportunity costs, all of which seem induced at this point by fraud at a massive level.

A Treasury of Idiotic Quotes by Law Profs. about Legal Education, Vol. I.

This is the first installment in a series of posts listing idiotic quotes from law professors on the subject of legal education, selected from my ever-growing collection. To avoid the appearance of clutter, I will only publish ten idiotic quotes per post. I will publish a second installment very soon, and probably a few more thereafter. Notes and links to sources appear at the bottom.

 A few prefatory remarks: Note that I said "idiotic quotes," not "scamming quotes." Even if a few of these quotes are somewhat scamming in intent, they are too transparently stupid to actually persuade anybody to attend law school.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Will Yale Fail?

Correction: The Yale Ph.D. in Law program received roughly 85 applications (I corrected it).  At least my figure of 10,500 was close, a mere rounding error.  Actually, the error was caused by my failure to recheck what the number referred to.

Although the misstated figure was not central to the point of the post, I want to avoid muddying the waters with bad information or detracting from the credibility of our message—I apologize.  Thank you Orin Kerr of The Volokh Conspiracy (and another commenter who thought the number sounded wrong).

The Bizarre Religion of "Bootstraps" & "Pay Your Dues"‏

Singing rightful too-ra-laddie too-ra-lee
There is no one who can tell a lie like me
You can search until you tire, you won't find a bigger liar
I've been lying since the dawn of history —Irish Folk Song
One of the puzzling things about the Edumacation Scam-a-thon is how it exposes its defenders' little personalities quirks, as their belief system is challenged. The belief in loan+tuition+credential=magic job is sort of a religion. It is, for the moment, the established conventional-wisdom about careers and formal graduate education. Its high-priests are the boomers. It is a fact of human psychology that humans simply like to have some religion, even when they otherwise deny it. The second they abandon one religious belief, they turn to another. Even if they oppose a belief system, their opposition to it itself becomes their belief system, which they, like a true believer, take very seriously and in fact live by.

Recently, on JD Underground, there was an attack of yet another "pull yourself up by your bookstraps, c'mon!" lecturer. In defense of a craigslist ad that paid $15 an hour for a licensed attorney position, the believer/lecturer finished off with a "you've got to pay your dues" line. That is his belief, his religion, when it comes to careers and jobs. Pay your dues, and then your dues pay you back. These kind of bootstraps-people appear, now that the scam has been exposed for several years, as religious fanatics, who cannot help themselves. They think their religion of bootstraps is not only true, but all of us must believe it and live by, as if it were a fundamental law of the universe. If our true believers went back to the 19th century, and saw in the factories eight-year-olds working 16 hour days without so much as a fire escape as a fringe benefit, they would say, "you've got to pay your dues, little Oliver! Sure, your health is permanently damaged due to mercury residue, but hey, life can be hard sometimes. Pull yourself up by your (size 3) bootstraps!" Life can be hard sometimes, son.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Breaking News: Another Law School Scam-suit Survives

UPDATE: Sorry everyone, I only had a pdf, but I have now found a link to the decision:

New York now stands alone as the only state to unanimously dismiss the law school scam-suits.

Today, Judge William H. Walls of United States District Court (New Jersey) denied the motion to dismiss by Widener University School of Law.  If you have never heard of it, Nando can give you the scoop over at Third Tier Reality.

The decision cites the New York rulings and shreds them.  He concurs with the reasoning of the California rulings, where some of the motions to dismiss have failed and the discovery process has started to reveal fraud far outside the scope of just the employment statistics game.

Perhaps the New York lawsuits were filed just a tad too early, before the New York Times and other major media outlets started reporting on elements of the scam and on the free fall of law school enrollment.

News Flash: Campos "Bearish" on Law School

“Make an informed decision when considering law school,” by Michael Morella (US News)

US News interviews Paul Campos who it describes as “surprisingly bearish” on law school. Campos warns “And at the vast majority of law schools right now for the vast majority of students, it doesn't make sense to spend that kind of money. That's a hard truth, but that's the way it is.” [Insert sound of OLs quickly flipping past Campos article to get to the law school rankings.]

Money Quote: Asked who should go to law school, Campos replied: “Somebody who should go to law school for sure? Let's say somebody who wants to be a district attorney and who has a 3.9 GPA and a 173 LSAT and gets a free ride to [the University of] Minnesota and whose mother is the DA in Rochester. That person? Great idea.

The Secret Protocols of Leiter‏

A student at Chi-Town stole this personally from the desk (i.e., e-mail inbox) of a distinguished Professor that you know all-too-well and emailed it to me. I thought it should be reproduced. Like the train wreck in that movie with Bruce Willis, I can't look away:

Stolen from the inbox of Prolosopher Leiter:
From: [sounds like Brit. Slang "Blighter", "A person who is regarded with contempt, irritation, or pity: 'you little blighter!'"]
To: Felicity Charity-Piety (
Subject: Four easy methods to deal with the "situation" :)
Date: March 20, 2013 08:43:02am CST

Hi Felly! B-Man here. Listen, I saw your earlier remarks about how a law professor is a more noble occupation than practicing corporate law, especially for companies that are involved in the financial or energy sectors of the economy—those are bad people who lack a sense of public service and academic freedom. I wholeheartedly agree and wish you would blog more regularly. I thought we could discuss our upcoming strategy to fight against the spoiled children, the "scambloggers". I know we are in bad shape, but it is impossible that we could be wrong because we do such valuable work. Sometimes people need to be helped to find the truth and not be manipulated by bloggers. Let's discuss ways we can do this:

The Financial Value of a Law Degree

DJM (of ITLSS fame) got in touch recently about a piece she had written, analyzing the financial value of a law degree.  It can be read - and should be read - here.

I've always been a little uncomfortable looking at education from a purely financial standpoint.  Yes, a degree costs money and will boost earnings (hopefully), but does education not have a value that cannot be quantified?  The incalculable cost of a broader understanding of the world, an interest in a subject, and becoming a better human being than before?

For an undergraduate degree, one that is reasonably priced at least, I still believe that it cannot be looked at solely by potential income against costs of attendance.  Higher education, to a point, is valuable beyond the figures.  I have my doubts about some high-cost liberal arts programs at fancy private schools, which are becoming nothing more than four year luxury vacations, but a good undergrad degree from a good state or private college is a worthwhile investment, assuming the debt can be kept under control.

I used to think this about a law degree too, before I went to law school.  Coming from a science background, I fell for the "math" (like that which DJM so expertly discredits in her post).  Way back when, I looked at the figures and worked some equations and formulas, made spreadsheets, and came to the conclusion that law school would be a good investment for me.  (Of course, I missed out on the bimodal distribution of salaries, the fact that the figures published by law schools were lies, etc.  All of that was long before the scam movement came into play, and before the economy collapsed.  Like many readers of this blog, I fell for the scam, not because I was blind, but because I was blindfolded.)

And as DJM shows, the financial value of a law degree is dubious at best.  We need strong analysis like that to counter the incessant drivel that glorifies the JD and keeps the kids flocking to LSAT testing centers and beyond.

But part of me, way back when, would have asked, "Well, DJM, surely you're not considering the intangible benefits of a law degree?  The knowledge?  The insight?  The prestige and career satisfaction?"  And there may be readers here who are still thinking that even though a law degree doesn't make sense from a financial perspective, that it makes sense when factoring in all those other intangibles.

Wrong.  For two reasons.

First, few people go to law school for any reason other than wanting a well paid job waiting at the end of the tunnel.  We know this, law schools know it too (why else would they thrust salary data down our throats every single day, something that few other degrees place so much emphasis on?)  So looking at the value of a law degree in any context other than financial makes no sense.  You're going to law school to get a good job, so that should be the primary - nay, the only - measurement that you base your decision on.  Can this law school get me a good job?  The answer is no, unless you're looking at one of a handful of top schools.

But second, I've come to understand that a law degree has none of the other intangible value that other degrees have.  A BS or BA, for example, has value in helping you develop as a thinker, gaining exposure to areas of important knowledge, learning where you belong in the world, expanding your horizons, growing as a person, etc.  The list goes on and on.  Someone who works hard in undergrad really does come out a better person than before, and that cannot be undervalued.  But with a law degree, there are no such benefits.  A JD is a series of timewasting courses, little content, outdated content, it narrows the mind, destroys broad critical thinking, and destroys creativity, all taught by a faculty that is disinterested, uneducated, and unqualified (in most cases, at least).  It makes you a less attractive potential employee than before, not more attractive.  It closes minds, and closes doors (and the one door it sometimes opens - practicing law - is one that few people never regret ever opening).

Law school is the opposite of college.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Stop Dreaming: Law School will never be 'Practical'‏

The silliest belief involving "da scam" is to think that the schools will reform themselves. One of the most common refrains, especially from in-the-establishment soft-boiled "reformers", is to make law school more "practical", and teach you "how to practice". Practice, practice, practice, and jobs will magically appear! Even Professor Dumbledumb and the Scamdeans wouldn't object too much, as long as the "practice" part is only a small fraction of law school—which is the problem. From a comment on JD Underground, someone was trying to defend their law school, a highly-ranked school which is nonetheless scarcely known outside of the state and probably does not place any better than other schools:

Washington & Lee is actually one of the very few schools who take teaching practice seriously, and have done what so many on this board have advocated: replace third year with essentially a bunch of immersion experiences where you do quazi-real legal work, as opposed to attending lectures. It's clearly not perfect, and a far cry from a real two-year paid residency (minimum) that is needed, but given the constraints of the current system, it's something...

Alas, this "immersion" does nothing to help us! It is doomed like a prostitute in purgatory, for two biggies:

One, we don't really care about any particular school, but about all legal education. One school could improve its placement stats, but it doesn't help anyone else. W&L can teach Swahili Common Law if they wish to, and it wouldn't help or hurt anything because the problem is with the market's limited supply of legal jobs. That market cannot (and does not want to) place the nearly 45,000-strong army of new J.D.'s birthed every spring. So the objection that others have already stated, that any improvement in an individual school's career services, or pedagogy, would not increase the supply of jobs but only help one school's graduates at the expense of the other schools', defeats the point of W&L's newfound admiration of actual legal skills. It is like stealing from your neighbors during a famine and pretending that you have solved world hunger.

Two, what "they" have not bothered to say is that the effort to teach skills is doomed for another, darker reason: it would render the purpose of law school obsolete. The more practice-based skills a school teaches, the more people will question whether any law school is needed at all. After all, if you want to know skills, the only way (or, at the least, by far the most efficient way) is to do them, on the job.  But then, why pay tuition for on-the-job training? Why pay the Professor Dumbledumbs of academia $55,000 grand a year for the privilege of taking an "externship" in the third year of that? (When you are already 175k in the red). You may as well be one of those work-for-free-to-build-experience-while-mommy-pays-rent types, since even working for free is a better deal than paying $55 grand a year and working for free. This is why the schools only permit talk of outsourcing for the "third-year", leaving the first two years of love intact. W&L has inadvertently confessed that the third-year of law school isn't necessary, or they could not have afforded to forgo 1/3 of classes that a law graduate would have normally taken. The JDU poster didn't mention that. If it is so important to "think like a lawyer", but the third year can be spent on "immersion experiences", then surely we can learn to "think like a lawyer" in two years? And if "immersion experiences" are just as valuable, or even more valuable than lecture halls, why not drop the formal legal education entirely? Or send it back to undergrad, so we can get our L.L.B. in four years and stop this madness?

So there you have it: The more value we place on "immersion" (i.e., real-life work that actually is connected with what clients want), the less value we place on badly-run Socratic method-based lectures. But what will happen to the Professor Dumbledumbs and their precious never-read-except-by-the-editors-who-laugh-at-them journals?Oh no! The more law schools attempt to "modernize", the more they defeat their own purpose for existing. The way schools like W&L are going, turning the third year into a virtual apprenticeship, should make us question the point of any law school at all.

Preston Bell ( is the author of the (free) book-length satire/exposé, Smarter Than Socrates: The End of the Law School Era.


UPDATE:  I shoulda done a little more "research", as the shills/haters like to say!  Nando did a nice takedown of this awhile back, and wanted to bring this up as well.

My comments follow:

Well folks, now they are not even trying to cover over the motive behind producing unnecessary JD candidates.  Academia and Corporate Profiteering have merged:
In any tough market, consolidation takes place.  We’ve seen it in multiple industries, be it banking, defense contracting, or telecommunications, to name a scant few.  As the applicant pool of marks becomes harder and harder to mine, welcome to the rise of the “law school consortium.”
InfiLaw's mission is to "establish the benchmark of inclusive excellence in professional education for the 21st Century."   This mission is supported by three key pillars (1) centering on “serving the underserved,” (2) providing an education that is "student-outcome centered," and (3) graduating students who are "practice-ready."
All laudable goals in principle, but why now, all of a sudden?  The “underserved” meme has been beat to death already, but again, what “underserved” market are we talking about, and why do more URMs need to be bilked out of their future income potential?  There are already 200+ ABA approved law schools that have flung open their doors for decades – does this not provide adequate “access?”  How is adding yet more JDs, served or underserved, to the oversaturated legal market “student-outcome centered?”  And let’s be honest - nobody cared heretofore about “practice-ready” until the applicants wised up to the cost-benefit analysis and the law schools realized they had already picked all the low-hanging fruit.  Practice-ready does not magically create market demand in any event.
A brief glance at the Executive Team shows a variety of backgrounds: former CFOs, MBAs, VPs of HR, and high-level Marketers, to name a few.  Does this sound like a crowd interested in producing “legal scholarship,” defending “liberty,” or pursuing “ justice?” No way.  This is pump-and-dump to the max.
The entire management team is Six Sigma certified and committed to a culture grounded in personal humility and vulnerability-based trust.  The organization models itself upon principles set forth by leading experts on productivity, employee engagement, personal growth and development, and process excellence.

Blah blah blah TQM blah blah blah Six-Sigma blah blah blah Kanban blah blah blah Just-In-Time manufacturing.  Please.  Give us all a break.  Stop insulting our collective intelligence.  All the MBA-speak in the world does nothing to cover up the fact that this is about making money on the backs of marks.  Period.  On a personal note, having actually worked as an engineer had having actually used “six-sigma” methodologies and the like, it burns me to see these jackals spew this nonsense, as they clearly have NO IDEA what they are talking about in the first place.  But it “sounds good” and garners credibility, so whatevs.

 InfiLaw is backed by Sterling Partners, a private equity firm with over 25 years of experience partnering with organizations in building market-leading enterprises.
If you needed any more evidence as to what this is really about, look no further.  Sterling Partners will expect a handsome ROI.  Coffee is for closers. 
Turning to the schools themselves, the members of the consortium are Charlotte SOL, Florida Costal SOL, and Phoenix SOL.  Thanks to tireless efforts by the fine folks at Law School Transparency (who are doing God’s work, I might add),  let’s take a look at the “student outcomes”:

Wow.  Blech.  $200k+ sticker-prices for stomach-churning outcomes.  If you need yet more information, I believe Nando has a thing or two to say about all these schools over at Third Tier Reality.
Prospective 0Ls, run away.  Please, I am begging you.  If you have the money and social connections, then by all means go to a T14 law school.  If not, there are many other things one can do with one’s life, be you fresh out of undergrad or an experienced non-traditional student.  These other vocations are not mere consolation prizes.  Find something else to do that will not leave you with a millstone of student debt around your neck and no appreciable opportunities. 
The people behind Infilaw, and their member schools, view you as an income stream – nothing more.  Listen to the commenters on this blog and many, many others – there is no profit motive here in trying to direct you away from the mistake of the worthless JD.  No one makes money trying to convince people NOT to do something or NOT to buy a product.
Higher education has morphed from a public good into a corporate-backed commodity.  As such, respond in kind and vote with your pocketbook.  Avoid this madness.

Wednesday Caption Competition #3

No, don't adjust your screen. That really is our Porky Philosopher's stomach. Is he pregnant?  Twins?  Or just spending too much time with that famous German export.  Nietzsche?  Nah, the other one.  Hamburgers.  Perhaps a sit up or two would be in order. His stomach is larger than his ego.
Or maybe he's just full of shit.
Bring your best insolence, impertinence, and juvenility.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

On the "good faith" of Tamara Piety and other law professors.

"The bottom line here is that law professors are easy targets because so much of what they do (even when they are doing it well) is fairly hidden from view and has no immediate market value; plus, they are relatively powerless to influence almost any part of the system which is currently the source of so much pain....I will never be able to convince anyone otherwise who is determined to see most professors as acting in bad faith that they are not, that they care deeply about teaching and their students. And I fail to see how law teaching is more morally compromising than a host of other jobs in the legal profession - doing mortgage foreclosures? Representing BP? But I do think that those professors who do believe they are scamming their students, that they have nothing of value to offer, that they are committing a fraud -- well perhaps they should quit."  
--Professor Tamara Piety, University of Tulsa Law School,  at Feb 25, 2013 12:28:47 AM, in comment thread on "The Costs of Legal Scholarship" at "PrawfsBlawg."
I have said some highly critical and sarcastic things about legal academics. But the one thing I have never doubted is that most law professors, particularly Tamara Piety, are convinced of their own rectitude. They are not acting in bad faith; on the contrary, as Piety states, she and most of her law professor colleagues "care deeply," and believe they provide valuable guidance to their students.

What I do not understand is why Prof. Piety thinks this belief is anything other than a very basic kind of self-serving delusion, held in common with any run-of-the-mill politician or public relations hack. As Noam Chomsky stated: "If there’s something you want to do, it’s really easy to convince yourself it’s right and just. You put away evidence that shows that’s not true. So it’s self-deception but it’s automatic, and it requires significant effort and energy to try to see yourself from a distance." Or in the harsher formulation of poet Wislawa Szymborska, "If snakes had hands/ They would claim their hands were clean."
Prof. Piety takes strange consolation in the possibility that she may be hurting fewer people through an academic life made possible by her students’ misplaced trust and astonishing debt loads than she would through a career of active lawyering. What if she stopped teaching law school and represented BP or a predatory mortgage lender? Wouldn’t that be worse? Tamara Piety's comment made me think of a robber, caught in the act, who says, "I fail to see how robbing is more morally compromising than a host of other crimes." But that is unfair because, unlike the robber, Tamara "cares deeply" and is not acting in bad faith.
I would argue that, even within the confines of Piety’s hypothetical, a practicing lawyer who is representing a (monstrous) client like BP is less morally compromised than most legal academics. Lawyering is about zealously, effectively, and ethically representing your clients within the rules. The BP lawyer is fulfilling his or her obligation to his or her client, as a professional should. And the BP lawyer will not go unanswered-- his or her arguments will be countered by opposing counsel and evaluated by a hopefully skeptical judiciary.
In contrast to the BP lawyer, what does a law professor like Tamara Piety provide to her clients, aka students, the kids who borrow an average of over $100,000 to attend law school, a chunk of which goes to scratch Tamara's itching palm? A few months worth of doctrine stretched to fill three long years? Some alleged educational experiences that have "no immediate market value"? The radiant glory of a diploma from a law school deemed by US News to be the 87th best? Entry into a hyper-glutted profession, that is glutted precisely because of the behavior of law schools in producing way more lawyers than there are lawyer jobs, year after year? Public dressings-down and ridicule, administered by Tamara's law professor colleagues, to graduates who have the "insolence" or "impertinence" to offer critical input?
To Tamara and other law professors I would say: For three years, your students did what you told them to do. They sat quietly in your classes and transcribed your words of wisdom, or they spoke when "called on" in class, like circus animals. And they paid you quite handsomely so that you could ponder and write in areas of your scholarly interest, a worklife of far greater autonomy, ease, and job security than they will likely ever experience. Now, it is your turn to listen to what your graduates have to say-- to the ever-diminishing proportion of your grads who have carved out a place in the law and to the rest for whom law school was a life-ruining wipeout. Listen respectfully to your former students and take their cares and concerns to heart, following the example of Paul Campos and a handful of others. And then even I will respect the value of your "good faith."