Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The True Cost Runs Deeper Than You Think

So far, much of law school debt is still viewed as monopoly money, to be IBR-ed or PAYE-ed as a "side concern". It seems that many Deans, professors, and members of the establishment (NALP, ABA) seem to endorse this view – that while it is indeed a burden, most law graduates are young, have a lifetime to pay it off, so where is the harm in the final analysis? Isn’t youth wasted on the young, so why not pay some soft-bankruptcy student loan debt while you’re at it?

I’m a 40-something Gen-Xer, and I made the mistake of going back to law school early in my oh-so-vaulted STEM career (which is overrated itself, another story). I graduated in 2005 and have worked in a "JD preferred" career since, and I’m one of the lucky ones – debt was bad but barely manageable, and my interest rates are low. I’m on the 25-year plan, yet still pay a lot every month relative to my salary. The worthwhile ROI vis-à-vis my law diploma and bar license has not been there, as is the case for many similarly situated.

A cost I did not count ten years ago, though, is looking at my daughter today, who came along herself a few years ago. Every month that I write student loan checks, that is substantive money that does not go to my daughter’s education. Or to her extra-curricular activities. Or to clothes, for that matter. 

There are things I will not be able to for her, due to my decision to believe the law school cartel and buy into the law school scam. Things every parent wants to do for their child. Things that are considered very "normal" or "simple", like "ballet lessons for tots" or small vacations, let alone larger concerns such as her own education. The saying "shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations" takes on a whole new meaning for me, for someone whose grandfather was a farmer and whose father was an engineer.  Paul Campos recently opined on this trend, saying that law school is just for rich kids, now.  Ah, how things come full circle.

Meanwhile, the Deans and other professors encourage students to take on even more and more debt and further perpetrate the scam. I’m reminded of Professor Henderson at University of Chicago a couple of years ago, who complained about "high taxes" while being a law professor, having a doctor wife, three kids in private school, and a house in Hyde Park. I see red sometimes thinking that pampered, silver-spooned whiners such as Henderson get to send his kids to Chicago Lab on the nickel of many, many students, K-JDs and non-trads alike, while complaining about his so-called problems. His wife told him to shut up and rightly so, as his own writings on the subject are curiously down (although many commented in the media at the time). At least Chicago seems to turn out good prospects for its students, but that is a rare thing in this legal market with high overproductions of JDs.

My own child will have fewer opportunities than Henderson’s, despite his "crushing" tax burden and other "difficulties." I find it hard to shed a tear for the likes of him, whose attitude seems to dominate the upper-eschelons at essentially all law schools. Pay no mind, however, as JDs are "versatile" and legal careers are "valuable," and $200k is a small price to pay for such advantages. ScamDeans and LawProfs have private school tuition and mortgages on very nice houses to pay, you know, so you JD applicants better be stepping up to the plate. They are our Promethian betters, and are deserving of their hard-earned accolades.

I attended a lower-ranked religiously-affiliated law school, and I have certainly learned one thing in my experience – "the sins of the fathers are visited upon the third and fourth generations", so far as legal education is concerned. This blithely glossed-over fact of creating economic harm down the line, while Deans and professors cash fat paychecks while writing articles to each other in the Law School echo chamber, needs to be heard much louder and clearer.  Clearly, the Deans and profs aren't worried, as they have apparently never had to face real or significant economic difficulty in their lives - otherwise, they would not be so cavalier in their assessment of the situation.

By their fruits ye shall know them.


  1. Very honest and very sobering.

    Taking on high amounts of student debt only makes sense if you can secure well-paying employment soon after graduation. Campos is right, "law school is now for the rich."

    1. The rich and stupid. Why would anyone want to be a lawyer?

      Those who are truly "rich" have no need of lawyers in the family. They can afford to pay someone else to do that for them.

    2. I have a friend who uses her law degree to manage her family money basically. All her siblings lost their inheritances. She has done well because she knows what questions to ask and isn't hustled by professionals including attorneys.

    3. "I have a friend who uses her law degree to manage her family money basically. All her siblings lost their inheritances. She has done well because she knows what questions to ask and isn't hustled by professionals including attorneys."

      And this can make sense (especially if another sibling gets a good MBA from a good school). At that point the business situation is spending 2-3 years and $100K or so to make sure that an inheritance of millions is preserved.

  2. In the final analysis, the law school pigs do not give one damn about their students or recent grads. To them, those kids are a means to an end. If the swine need to financially ruin a generation of young people, in order to keep their upper middle class lifestyle, then they will gladly do so.

  3. Keep fighting the good fight on your personal front to make ends meet for your family. Your daughter will learn a lot from watching how you deal with your hurdles.

  4. What happened to the King's lawyers during the French revolution and following reign of terror?

  5. 'I Fully Expect to Die With This [Student] Debt'


    It is behind a pay wall, but it is very sobering.

  6. I can't believe that the 78 year old runner went viral on the internet and just signed a million dollar book deal with residuals and all tv and movie rights.

    And the NY Yankees are putting aside the Yankee and Red Sox 100 year old rivalry with a United we stand ribbon.

    And Charlie Rose did his baggy eyed duty early this morning to cover the story on the tele.

    Lance Armstrong would have rundid the race, but it seems that Lance is on the outs after a decade or more of being worshipped.

    And we don't even know who is responsible yet!

    But the Media is having a real round the clock party!

  7. ^^^ An opprobrious musical criticism expressing theme:


    With money being made all around of course.

    1. - And Paintroach standing on the sidelines, licking its mandibles eagerly and trying to think of some way to steal that money.

  8. "Every month that I write student loan checks, that is substantive money that does not go to my daughter’s education. Or to her extra-curricular activities. Or to clothes, for that matter."

    This is devastating.

    The powers that be need to realize that all these dollars paid out in tuition and interest repayments are dollars taken away from future generations. My fears are the same; my grand per month payments over 30 years are taking a grand per month out of my son's future, even well past the age he would want help with his own college, starting out in life, etc.

    I will be the first to admit that I should pay back what I owe. But I wanted to pay it back based on the money the law school promised I would be earning.

    How about the law schools pony up the difference in payments to cover the $60,000 in missing salary I have.

    1. Every month my wife and I write sizeable loan checks that we're not putting down towards a down payment on a home, our retirement funds, or our kids' education.

      We're making do, but we look around all the time at our neighbors, peers, and relatives and wonder "What are we doing wrong?"

      We've been doing this for 10 years, and have at least another 10 years to go.

  9. Mr. Infinity never comments on JD Junkyard. Which is very interesting.

    He has no friends there.

    Also, I just want to run the name of the southern guy from a 1st tier law school that lives in his parents basement as well.

    Was it Alabama?

    What was his name? Billy Y? or BILLY? Or something like that.

    It was BIL1Y or whatever that seemed to be obsessed with Kafka and the Roach story way back when.

    Anyway and to a candid world.

  10. LOL - you gonna start calling HIS boss now?

  11. Let me see if I understand this post correctly - you realize that you've been duped by the education system into paying for a law degree, yet you worry that you might not be able to afford to put your daughter through that same education system that left you worse off.

    Has it occurred to you that she might be better off not going to college? With the rapid advances in technology (for example, YouTube), college might become obsolete by the time she reaches 18, so you might be worring over nothing.

    And, BTW, no need to feel guilty about not being able to afford small vacations and ballet lessons. Those are luxuries, not necessities, and she's not going to miss those things.

    1. Specialized training will always cost money, particularly in fields requiring government licenses. And even if Duped's kids decide education is not for them, having a starter fund there so the kids can start a business or relocate for work opportunities is just as good of a 19th birthday present as getting a few semesters of college covered.

  12. "Specialized training will always cost money, particularly in fields requiring government licenses."

    Isn't the point of this blog to tell people that specialized training in general, and legal education in particular, is not worth the cost?

    Also, who's to say that setting aside money for your kids will be put to good use by them? They might blow it on a new car or a fancy vacation (under the pretext of looking for a job or finding themselves). Or, even if they use it as intended and start a business, odds are that a business operated by a 19-year-old will fail.

  13. If you have a STEM degree + Law you should be looking at patent law.

    1. True, and I did try that initially. Not a lot of takers. My low-tier LS and middling grades certainly didn't help my situation, but on top of it the guys I networked with all told me the field was glutted and even their experienced collegues were having trouble.

      It's good work if you can get it, as the saying goes.

  14. My biggest regret is attending law school. I started college late and law school even later. Now, as I approach my late-30s only a few years into my career, I am acutely aware that my 200k in law school debt will prevent me from having children. I can barely afford to service my debts and pay for myself.