Friday, November 8, 2013

inGenius Prep continued: David Mainiero (finally) responds

From: David Mainiero <d******>
Date: Thu, Nov 7, 2013 at 3:19 PM
Subject: Your October 10th Post about inGenius Prep

To Whom It May Concern:

I have submitted the following as a series of comments on your October 10th blog post about inGenius Prep and me. I would appreciate if you ensured that it was posted.

I am very upset about what you have said, insinuated, and encouraged others to believe about inGenius and about me personally. It is very irresponsible blogging on your part, and it is unequivocally false

inGenius is not a scam. If you wanted to express your opinion that the price quoted to you was out of whack, I would have no problem with your post (except the fact that you conveniently omitted how you asked for the "soup to nuts" package and said "money would not be a problem"). I know you fashion yourselves as legal experts, and you probably do know a little bit about the law. Nevertheless, I can assure you that your comments are defamatory. In saying this, I don't mean to threaten you, or speak negatively about you or your blog (which, executed more responsibly, I believe would be a great source of information on an important topic). I do ask, however, that you take down this post immediately and issue some kind of retraction statement. It is extremely detrimental to me personally and to the company and is not based in any semblance of truth.

If you would like to post again about how you think that people should not use admissions counseling services, and use inGenius as an example, that would be more appropriate (although I would vehemently disagree with you).

You should consider the impact of the lies you have spread about me on my life and my livelihood. You should consider that you are not the master of the Internet, who can cursorily read a couple of blogs/articles and ascertain the truth. You should consider how you would feel if someone made such unfounded allegations on you, and how you would feel if you had no opportunity to get them recanted, or at least have the truth juxtaposed with that article.

Please read the post I have pasted below (pending approval) in your comment sections. If you have
the decency to speak with me about this over the phone, I would be amenable to doing so.


David Mainiero

Above is the email I received a month after I first wrote about David Mainiero's inGenius prep company.  His comments (which I'll get to soon) were posted as he requested.

First of all, if this blog - if any writer on this blog - ever posts something actually libelous, it will be removed.  Just send us an email explaining why, give us the accurate information, and the material will be corrected, published, and we'll apologize.  This offer is always open.


This blog will not cease to expose dubious, fraudulent, or criminal behavior directly or indirectly associated with the legal education system.  This blog will not stop calling things as we see them, highlighting those whose activities - while legal - are dishonest, unethical, or just downright shady or scammy.

So David, the ball is now firmly in your court.  Since you want to play jailhouse 2L lawyer with your thinly-veiled threats, your mild insults, your misplaced 1%er sense of superiority that oozes from your entire email, go for it.

Please explain, in detail, what was false.  You're crying "libel".  The burden is on you to prove it.  You want us to give you a Sharpie and let you redact an article on this site?  I'll gladly hand it to you, but you've got to tell me where I'm wrong.

In your email, and in your comments to my post, you don't actually state anything to counter any of my assertions.  You merely claim that it's all false, lies, and not based on any semblance of the truth, but you offer no proof whatsoever.  Merely saying that I'm lying isn't good enough, because I'm not - I'm calling out admissions consultants for what they are; companies that offer commonly-available advice and proofreading services for extremely high fees, and which base the "value" of their services solely on the prestige of the universities their employees attended (or in your case, still attend), implying that they have some kind of insider connection to improve the clients' chances of success.  But more than that, I'm drawing those conclusions from the information I have on hand - from your company's site, from wider research, from news sources etc.  I'm not sitting here writing fiction, which is what you're implying.

Here's the only admissions consulting advice that is honest:

1.  If you're smart enough to get into Harvard or another top school, you're smart enough to proofread your own application, and you're smart enough to find the "insider" information yourself by simply buying one of the countless $20 "how to get into top law schools" guidebooks freely available at Amazon.

2.  If you're not smart enough to get into Harvard or another top school, you should not attend law school.

End of story.  Anything above and beyond that, especially for hourly rates of $150 or packages costing thousands of dollars (or, in the case of your quote to "Peter", $3,749!), is - in our opinion - a scam.  And that word doesn't imply illegality.  The definition of scam is: "A dishonest way to make money by deceiving people."

And that's what you're doing.  You're deceiving people.  You claim that you never would, that you'd never take someone's money without vetting their chances of success and giving them clear warnings (which you actually never did give to "Peter", if you'd care to re-read your response to him - I believe you urged him to get started and contact you "ASAP").

I beg to differ.

In order for an applicant, no matter how unsuitable, to transfer thousands of dollars to you, there is no vetting whatsoever.  Let me show you.

Pretend I'm "Paul".  Í have an LSAT of 160, a GPA of 3.2, and I've dreamed of going to Harvard Law.  I find your site.  Here's the front page:

Cool.  Front page, your Ivy League admissions experts will help me get accepted to my dream school.  Sounds nice.  First click is on the "Law School" button.  And here's what I see:

When am I applying?  Right now - it's November and I'm in a rush to get in the next class.  Click two - "Right Now".

Oh my, that's Prestigious with a capital P!  I'm bombarded with the crests of Yale, Harvard and Stanford!  Do I want to talk to an admissions expert?  No way.  I want to click on the "get started now" link.  And I do, so that's just three clicks so far.  You're making this too easy.  Harvard, here I come!  So far, nothing has warned me that I'm wasting my time or money.

Options, options, options.  All "great opportunities" according to the site, so what the hell.  Let's go for pre-law advising.  Click four.

More choices, none of them cheap, but hey, it's my education and my future.  I want the best.  I'm using my fifth click to choose the "Platinum Pre-Law Advising" option.  Still nothing telling me I'm not in with a snowball's chance in hell.

I'm getting sooooooo excited!!!!!!!!  The text says that this is "The best pre-law advising in the world.  Period."  What can go wrong?  It's been encouragement all the way so far.  I've got to buy this right now.  And that's my sixth click.

And there's the Visa logo and the payment form.  You've got my money.  Seven clicks (eight if I had to confirm a payment.)  $3,499.  Not a hint of "perhaps you shouldn't do this."

What am I missing?

And that's just one example, David.  That's what bothers me.  Your entire business is set up around fancy crests and prestige-by-association, because there's very little actual expertise behind the curtain.  Look at your JD Admissions Team - twelve out of the eighteen consultants, a full 66%, are merely JD students.  What is their expertise?  Having gone through the process just once?  Or are you banking on the fact that people will assume that because your consultants got into Ivy schools, that they mysteriously know some kind of hidden secret that can be shared for a mere few grand?  Is this anything more than you and your buddies setting up a little sideline business for beer money during college?

Like I said originally, it's students scamming students.  At the very least, that's a fair conclusion judging from how you're operating.  $3,499 per year, for what?  Remember that your site allows people to send you that money without you describing your services even once.  I got to the payment page and still have no idea whatsoever what I'm signing up for, what you can offer me, and how it will benefit me.  It's vagueness, wrapped in prestige, all for a very lofty sum of money.

Could "Paul" get his money back?  Here's your terms of service:

Section 2: Payment and Services

inGenius prep Payment Plan


The customer’s credit card on file will be charged automatically pursuant to the selected payment plan option.

If a customer fails to pay any amounts owed to inGenius prep in connection with a payment plan, inGenius prep reserves the right to pursue such unpaid amounts and that customer will remain liable to inGenius prep for all charges under this agreement and all the costs incurred to collect these charges, including, without limitation, collection agency fees, reasonable attorneys’ fees, and arbitration or court costs.

Section 3: Warranty, Refunds and Cancellation –


Customers desiring a refund should contact the inGenius prep Customer Service department at Customers will not be granted refunds solely because they are not accepted to a desired school or institution. Customers requesting a refund for services rendered by inGenius or its Consultants will only be granted a refund for the most recent billing cycle (i.e., a Customer requesting a refund after 25 hours of services will only be granted a refund for the last 5 hours of services). Refunds are subject to the approval of inGenius. The decision to grant a refund will be made following a thorough review of the Customer’s application materials, a discussion with every inGenius Consultant who worked with the Customer, and a discussion with the Customer. The decision to grant a refund will be made consistent with the good faith, fair dealing, and best judgment of inGenius prep.

Uh oh.  "Paul" may be out of luck, especially as these terms and conditions are tucked away, far down at the bottom of the page, under a tiny little link.

But let's take a break for a moment.  Is there anything above that's not true?  Because embarrassing as it is, it's all right there on your website!

As was most of what was posted in my first article.  Taken from your site, your email, news stories about you.  I'm not plucking this stuff out of my ass, David.  So go back to my original post, read it, and then write to me explaining exactly where the lies are, because I'm just not seeing them.  We provide analysis (aka "opinion") based on our research too, so be careful to distinguish between fair opinions and "lies" upon which those opinions are based.  An unfavorable opinion is not a lie simply because you don't like it.

And as I mentioned earlier, you've got to do better than essentially saying "I'm a Harvard student, I'm better than you, so do what I say."  Because that 1%er attitude doesn't work here.  It doesn't work when law professors complain that we're calling them out for having no legal experience, no teaching qualifications, and producing some truly disgraceful "scholarship".  It doesn't work when law deans complain that the awkward facts about unemployment, debt, and twisted statistical games make them look like con artists.  And it doesn't work when law school admissions consultants don't like being called out for what they are - companies taking advantage of those who are desperate to succeed at all costs because of this crazy prestige-driven scam our higher education system has become.

Admissions consultants - including your company - operate as follows: they sell hopes of getting into top schools, knowing full well that (1) many want to chase that impossible dream, (2) a fraction will succeed, and – most importantly - (3) those who succeed would succeed without the services purchased, and those who fail will fail despite the services purchased.

And it's the third step that makes it all rather nasty, because as I've shown above, you've set up a system that will take anybody's money with no questions asked.  Just like low-end law schools, offering JDs to anyone with a pulse and who can sign their name to a student loan promissory note.

You're welcome to comment here.  We don't censor comments, as you can see from your extensive comments on my earlier post.  If you want to have your say, you've got it.  But what you don't have is any right whatsoever to shut down unfavorable analysis of your business just because you don't like having a little fair criticism.

And I'm sorry that it's hurting your business, but I've weighed that against the disgusting, widespread hardship faced by tens of thousands of law school graduates each year, many of whom are taken advantage of by law schools (and third party service providers) who prey upon them, offer false prestige, hide facts, take money and offer little in return.  You losing beer money from your side business is nothing compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt that tens of thousands of law students undertake because some people see higher education as a way to make a profit.  Our job is to offer our take on issues relating to legal education, dig deeper than the thin layer of bullshit covering the surface, and provide our commentary and insight.  We're not industry "yes men", nor particularly vengeful.  We're just interested in stopping people making the same costly mistakes we did, and for every one of our voices urging caution, there's a thousand who are still screaming blindly that law school is a really great choice.

So please, comment away.  Email me.  Send me whatever information you have to show that I'm way off base.  I'll happily retract anything that isn't true if you can demonstrate that it isn't true, but you'll have to do better than just offering an alternative "opinion" on how you operate, the usefulness of admissions consultants, and the services you offer.  I've drawn some fair conclusions from my research, much of which is based upon information provided directly by you and your company, and at this point in time I stand behind them.  So no retraction, no removal of the post, and no apology.  You need to earn those.  And if you're a legit service providing demonstrated value, it should be easy.

I believe that only top law schools offer worthwhile access to legal careers, and if you can get people into Harvard who truly couldn't get in without your services, then good on you.  Sadly, I doubt seriously that you'd turn hopeless cases away, nor advise people to avoid lower-ranked law schools.  Care to elaborate?  Got any redacted emails giving this advice to your clients that you care to share with us all?  How do your consultants advise students who want to go to low-ranked schools?  Do you turn them away before they pay, or after?  And does anyone else have any dealings with inGenius that they'd like to share?  What advice did you receive?  Was it good, or merely proofreading services and fifth-hand info gleaned from the pages of "Law School Confidential"?

I'll retract one statement though.  I end the prior article with "He'll make a great lawyer."  Obviously, that was a lie.

(I've also made two other changes to the prior piece - first, I removed the word "scam" before "admissions consulting company" in the final sentence, and second, I removed the word "scammer" from the caption beneath your picture.  I think people can draw their own conclusions.)


  1. "If you're happy with your law school pipe dream, you'll get to keep your law school pipe dream. Period."

    1. If you refer to his business as "criminal" when it is not, that's per se libel. Not every worthless service offered in the marketplace is "criminal."

    2. 1. No.

      2. Where do you see anyone calling him criminal?

    3. As pointed out below, he might be in violation of copyright law.

    4. That magic JD certificate that makes everything happen the way you want can be a tempting fantasy. Even knowing what I know, I think every day about Harvard, Chicago, NYU, Virginia, Duke, Northwestern...

      Stop it!! Wake up!! It's a dream!!

    5. @8:27, I think OTLSS specifically states that the activity is not criminal, and that criminal activity is not required for something to be a scam. Just being a shady operator or running a system where you know you're making money dishonestly is easily enough for the label of scam to attach.

      And more than that, even if David is being totally honest, he is presenting his business in a scammish light by hiding the facts and focusing on getting the money as quickly as possible.

    6. Hiding the facts is not honest.

    7. The response to Maniero said, "This blog will not cease to expose dubious, fraudulent, or criminal behavior directly or indirectly associated with the legal education system." You may be right that the original post did not say that.

    8. You realize what "or" means, right?

  2. ...8...9...10. OTLSS wins by knockout.

    Some people just don't know when to shut up.

  3. Anyone inform Harvard, Stanford, and Yale yet that he is using their trademarks to advertise his business?

    1. HYS could be branching out into licensing as the scam gets shakier. Their trademarks will draw a lot more marks to Mainier's racket than the trademarks of Cooley and Indiana Tech, just like places like Notre Dame make a hell of a lot more on licensed apparel than Northern Illinois does.

    2. "HYS could be branching out into licensing as the scam gets shakier."

      Sure, but I suspect that they would want some money in return. I suspect that HYS' IP attorneys would be quite interested in a private company using their trademarks in a marketing solicitation.


      You can report unauthorized use here:

      And so I did.

      "Hi: Please keep this tip anonymous. There is a company run by a Harvard law student which is benefitting from the liberal use of Harvard trademarks. The company is inGenius Prep (, and the student is David Mainiero. Apologies for snitching, but I thought you should know."

      Same for Yale, which has its policies here:

      Same email sent to Denise Castellano, Manager, Trademark Licensing.

      I have not yet dug into the medical side of the company, nor the business side, but I expect it to be stuffed with unauthorized use of logos and trademarks too.

      Further emails will follow to those schools.

    4. Good work on those trademarks. Chatter is cheap, and it takes action to change anything.

      If I were an attorney, I'd offer you a job right now.

    5. The beauty of our system is that everyone gets a warning. Mainiero can remove those trademarks from his website with no further consequnces...other than a decrease in new customers, perhaps.

  4. Getting into Harvard, etc., has something to do with crafting an application, but 99% of it is decided well in advance of that, by genetics/IQ, undergrad GPA, etc.

    So, the expertise of the consultants is only potentially useful for the small fraction of people with all these advantages.

    Who among the consultants had a 160 LSAT score and a 2.5 GPA and no family connections and still got into Harvard or Stanford? If that person exists, he/she might have some good advice to offer most applicants. However, I doubt very much that this company has such a person on their staff.

    It's a bunch of high-achievers offering advice - for a fee - to lower achievers. I might as well ask Scarlett Johansen for beauty tips or advice on how to be an actress. Maybe I can pay her $3,000 to tell me her secrets, and she can guarantee me casting in the best movies with the most sought-after directors!

    Her tips might be slightly useful but the are not going to turn me into Scarlett Johansen nor make me a millionaire movie actress!! The kindest thing Scarlett Johansen could tell me would be to moisturize more, and look for a different line of work. That is exactly the kind of advice these "consultants" need to give people with low LSATs and GPAs.

    Even people with medium-high LSATs and GPAs are not going to make it in this current employment market, just like even very attractive women are highly unlikely to play in Scarlett Johansen's league.

    1. This wealth transfer is a sort of cousin of the cross-subsidized scholarship game.

  5. As someone recently posted on my latest entry:

    Tyson v. Johnson. The ref didn't even bother with a count.

  6. "You should consider the impact of the lies you have spread about me on my life and my livelihood."

    In The Godfather Part II Michael Corleone attends Hyman Roth's birthday celebration in Havana in 1958. While there he tells the assembled mobsters that on his way to the gathering he had witnessed a rebel killing himself and a Cuban army captain with a grenade he had hidden in his jacket. This, he said, had caused him to realize that the soldiers were being paid to fight and the rebels weren't, and that maybe the rebels could win.

    Here we have the same concept. The scammers are scamming to enrich themselves, the scambloggers aren't even selling advertising space on their blogs.

  7. " If you wanted to express your opinion that the price quoted to you was out of whack, I would have no problem with your post (except the fact that you conveniently omitted how you asked for the "soup to nuts" package and said "money would not be a problem")."

    What the fuck does this have to do with anything?

    If I go to the store, and I tell the checkout person that money is not an issue, and they quote me a 0.79 apple at $100.00, it's blatantly unethical behavior.

    So when Dave M. says that your amount of money is a relevant factor in the quoted price, isn't he admitting that he has a scammer's mindset?

    And by the way, "scam" and "scammer" are matters of opinion.

  8. That's a great response to David Mainiero. One thing is certain: he doesn't have a good attorney. Whether he can't afford one, or just doesn't want to part with his dishonest gains, I can't say.

    Notice that he copies Nietzsche's tactic of referring to remarks as "defamatory," when that doesn't matter in a genuine court case. What matters is whether remarks are both defamatory and untrue. So far, he's just using wannabe-attorney jargon. You've given him every opportunity to demonstrate that anything you wrote is untrue. And here he keeps us waiting for proof..

  9. Did David Maineiro ever explain if he legally changed his name from Manero? If so, did he disclose the reason why and to what extent was he involved in his father's questionable business dealings?

  10. Is inGenius Prep a scam?

    1. No, not in the Nigerian sense. If "scam" means outright fraud, then my opinion is that "inGenius" isn't a scam. I think it's overpriced and pretentious, and I have sound reasons for thinking it's ineffective. For many readers, that constitutes a scam.

      The bigger issue is that "inGenius" aids and abets the student debt scam. It recruits students with fantasies of attending Harvard, but most of the students end up at genuine scam institutions, some of whch are engaged in outright fraud. At these scam institutions, the students then acquire enormous debts which they have meager hopes of ever repaying on their own.

      In this context, Mainiero's excessive fees are handicapping those naive and ignorant students by draining their resources, resources which they're going to need to repay their gargantuan debts. Rather than kick new attorneys when they're down, which is quite common, Mainiero has taken the unique approach of kicking them before they're down.

      It's quite common for students or their parents to have enough money to pay fees in the range David charges. It's uncommon for students or their parents to pay three years of JD expenses without incurring any debt. For those who do incur significant debt, David has profited by doing them a grave disservice.

    2. But now the company offers "free services" by picking certain students who apply for this free trail. Super wired.

  11. I don't think that every admissions advisor is dishonest. David Mainiero, future JD, appears to be outstanding in that regard.

    Not every admissions advisor uses HYS trademarks in his or her advertising. David Mainiero does.

    Some admissions advisors have years or decades of experience working in admissions offices. David Mainiero doesn't.

    I've read and enjoyed posts and comments by some experienced admissions advisors, on their own sites and in various forums. Sometimes they know what they're doing. They can be somewhat expensive, and they're not going to advise you to stay away from the scam. But if you have a precise and cost-effective career objective, they can give you some assistance at the margins.

  12. It's so rare that you get to witness justice. While it may not be served fully with Mr. Mainiero, at least there is some going on here. Many thanks.

  13. Just to assist any visitors in understanding this post, here's why Mainiero's business is so insidious:

    He uses the HYS trademarks to get students excited about the admissions process. Anything can happen, right? So they purchase his inferior services for far more than he deserves to receive. That's bad enough, but when his students get into Cardozo, Pepperdine, American U, and so forth, they stay excited about the process. Then, too, they see their time and effort, and the money they've paid him, as sunk costs that have to be justified by accepting an admissions offer. So they sign the debt contracts, attend some inferior JD program, and graduate in three years with pathetic job prospects.

    Throughout this process, Mainiero's business generates excessive expectations and creates a strong bias in favor of attending a JD program, any JD program. That's where the worst harm occurs, not in his $3000 fee or whatever it is, but in the $200,000 debt he encourages you to accept without thinking.

    So there it is.

    1. Good response, even better correction.

      Just to chime in (not affiliated with any of the parties here), but removing the words "scam" and "scammer" was the correct move.

      There's a line of cases (under Illinois law, which most likely won't apply) which state that the words "scam" or "scammer" have a defined, understood meaning and therefore cannot be interpreted as a statement of opinion. (But conversely, for some reason, if you call someone in Illinois "incompetent," that's an opinion). Go figure.

    2. you say his services are inferior. inferior to what? what are you comparing his services to?

    3. 2:17:

      I'm 99.9% sure that line of case law can be easily distinguished from the present situation. In context (essential in defamation), scam - as used on this website - refers to obviously-legitimate businesses that do things that are ethically dubious. Law professors - people who draw salaries from public institutions - are "scammers" and that's clearly within the authors' free speech rights. This site has its own definition of "scam" and "scammer" that is clear to an average reader.

      (Although, frankly, I don't see the difference between Dave's business and a snake oil peddler in the 19th century. Illusion of benefits, that sort of thing. I would argue truth as a defense and have a blast in discovery).

    4. To 2:37:

      This is 1:56 answering your question. When I stated his services were inferior, I was comparing them to superior services, which do exist. I won't give you any names, but it's easy enough for you to find them. I just don't want to endorse any admission services, no matter how effective, on a site dedicated to skepticism and free inquiry about the economic worth of higher education.

  14. What I find interesting is David is well on his way to being a bully and he is still only a law student. That's what law school does to people. . takes decent, optimistic people and makes them into something they never were before . . . a***oles. I have been litigating forever, and one of the things that makes the incivility of law so pervasive and practice sometimes so unpleasant is that everybody is always trying to show everybody else and their clients just how tough they are. Thus the implicit innuendo from David that OTLSC and the author are facing possible litigation over the original post. But this is the thing that David needs to understand which he obviously doesn't yet get. Oftentimes the law doesn't matter. Oftentimes the facts don't matter. What does matter is perception, how a Jury sees the case. If David was dumb enough to follow through with his threat, a Jury would see him for what he was and would send him packing. I doubt a Harvard Law Student "scamming" other students would get much sympathy. And David would also be very unhappy with the discovery process and how his life has now become an open book. David Suck it up. People can comment on your business with impunity. There's not a thing you can do about it once people ignore your threats, as the author of the original post has done.

    1. Agreed. If you are ashamed of people knowing what you do, it's a sign that you shouldn't be doing it, not a sign that busybodies should stop looking at your affairs.

    2. Good point. I'm wondering where David picked up so many ineffective ways to try to intimidate his critics. Perhaps he has a newfound interest in Nietzsche.

    3. What's up with the repeated Nietzsche references? "You, Kant, always get what you want." -Hedwig Schmidt

  15. I just want to add that the posts this month have been great. The number of posts has been impressive and the content has been fascinating. You're on pace to record 22 or 23 posts this month, which is much better than October.

    Thank you for your efforts.

  16. I went to their website and had a look around. One thing I'm don't understand is why do they have so many current students as admissions advisers. Not just for law school admissions but med school admissions and business school admissions.

    Surely if someone is studying at such prestigious institutions as Harvard, Wharton, or Berkeley they would have more prestigious things to do with their time then read application materials from random people?
    The only explanation I can think of is that sometimes prestige fails. The names Harvard, Yale, and Stanford sometimes don't land you the clerkship that gets you the internship that converts into a job that promotes you to partner that makes you a millionaire. If prestige fails you at Yale Law School so hard that you have to participate in selling dodgy services to raise money, what hope does a schlub have at any other law or business school?

    1. No, they are selling prestige. Theirs. Big shot harvard law students. They must be good at what they do, right?

    2. Great point.

      Why are they souring their names by being associated with an obvious snake oil scheme?

  17. here is a link to photos of the house at the address listed on inGenius "snail mail" contact:

    Looks like Animal House. I always wanted Blutto to write my lawschool essay for me. Maybe they can give out "COLLEGE" sweatshirts as an incentive.

  18. They are also on double-secret probation.

  19. Admittedly off topic, but anyone read this little gem yet?

  20. Never trust Ingenius Prep, I was scammed by their services..