Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Case of Scam, starring co-interim law dean Michael Scharf and a cast of international law gurus.

(Case Western Reserve University School of Law co-interim dean Michael Scharf smiles broadly as he contemplates his next lemming buffet). 

Michael Scharf recently became co-interim Dean of Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, following the resignation of that outspoken law school shill and, uh, notorious ladies’ man Lawrence "Train Wreck" Mitchell. Scharf is a creditable scholar and practitioner of international law. According to his CV, Scharf worked for the State Department for five years as an attorney-advisor, and he cofounded an NGO that provides pro bono legal advice to states and international institutions on such weighty matters as peace negotiations, constitution drafting, human rights, self-determination, and war crimes prosecutions.

But watch Scharf’s performance in the remarkable seven and a half minute long recruitment video linked below. In the video, Scharf and several faculty colleagues try to persuade an intended audience of prospective law students that a Case Western Reserve JD is the key to the jet-setting job of their dreams. Without being overly harsh, I would say that Scharf looks like an overfed wolf in a burgundy dress shirt, with a huge self-satisfied toothy smile that only he believes is ingratiating, trying to sell straw homes to piglets. And the other faculty come across as similarly sleazy despite their credentials and soft voices. It is another example of how legal academia turns decent people into predators.


A.  Selected quotes from the video by Case Western Reserve law faculty advising that Case is the place to embark on a career in international law.

Scharf: "We hope you will come to Case, so we can help you launch your career in international law."

Prof. Jessie Hill: "This year, a national survey of law professors ranked Case Western’s international law program as one of the top in the country. Our program attracts students from around the world to study here and they graduate with international law jobs across the globe."

Scharf: "Case’s international law program has a four million dollar endowment... with this money we provide students summer, semester-long, and post-grad internships grants to help them break into a job in international law."

Prof. Juscelino Colares: "I teach international trade and other courses in international business and regulatory matters. I was born in Brazil, but I’ve studied and practiced law in Brazil, France, and the United States, and am living proof that a career in international law can be both professionally gainful and academically exciting."

Prof. Cassandra Robertson: "I teach and write about international law in US courts. Case Western is on the cutting edge of this very fast growing area of practice.”

Prof. Timothy Webster: "With exchange programs at six of the most prominent Chinese law schools, Case Western is a leader in preparing students to do legal work in this fast-growing area of international law."

B. Case law student on video: "I came to Case because I heard if you want to work abroad Case will make it happen." 

Case Western Reserve Univ. School of Law apparently does obtain lots of foreign externships and internships for its students, as well as study abroad opportunities. On its website, Case boasts that "In the past 5 years, 155 Case law students interned at 98 placements in 37 countries. Our exchange partnerships expand each year. We now have agreements with 25 top foreign law schools." On the video, one hears enthusiastic and attractive law students, as well as Case faculty, gushing about the following internship placements and other programs abroad: 

United Nations criminal tribunal for Rwanda. (2 mentions)
International Bar Association in London.
Charles Taylor war crimes trial, the Hague.
law firm in Shanghai, China.
International Trade Center, Geneva, Switzerland.
Summer program in the Netherlands.
Exchange program with six leading Chinese law schools.
Cambodian genocide tribunal.

The only minor problem is this: How many of those internships lead to actual international law careers?

C. Case’s actual record.

As noted, Professor Hill stated that Case law students graduate with jobs across the globe.  Now that may be literally true in that the category of "jobs across the globe" includes short-term law school-funded scutwork in Cleveland. 

However, if Prof. Hill is understood to mean jobs abroad, the numbers are shockingly low, especially in light of Case's hype. Of the 232 members of the graduating class of 2013, 7 got jobs abroad. Of the 172 members of the graduating class of 2012, 3 got jobs abroad. Of the 201 member graduating class of 2011, 6 got jobs abroad. For the class of  2013, the majority of grads who obtained employment remained in Ohio. DC was a very distant second place, with 13 grads getting jobs there. The school’s overall nine-month-out bar-required full-time nonsolo employment figure is 58%, slightly above the national average. However, Law School Transparency estimates the non-discounted debt load for a graduating Case JD at $266,125.

D.  Conclusion.

An internship overseas is a heady experience, I am sure, but also one likely to add to those collossal debt loads and exceedingly unlikely to lead to a paying job abroad or a real career in international law, no matter how persuasively self-interested professors yap about "this fast-growing field." Indeed, given the numbers above, a more realistic way to break into international law might be to borrow $266,125 and bet it all on a 20-1 shot. If you win, become a big-money political donor, and then apply for an ambassadorship

Yet Scharf, with that wolfish smile of his, informs us that "nearly half of our students picked Case because of their interest in international law" and advises that Case is where students should come to launch their careers in international law. What we have here is a Case of scam. 


  1. First! (Throwback Tuesday?)

  2. Excellent post. These scammers love to drone on about the amazing internship opportunites they have in "international law", but when push comes to shove, there are just that - internships.

    JMLS had similar-sounding preftiege-dripping items in their ads as well: U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of the VPOTUS, the New South Wales Disability Discrimination Center in Australia, the Independent Commission for Human Rights in Palestine, and "Law Firms" in China, Taiwan, and Europe.


  3. As bad as placing 2 or 3 percent of the class internationally is for a school that is tops in international law, it is significantly more than I thought. I was thinking the number would zero.

  4. That is a remarkably pure, undiluted example of scamming. Ironically, I notice they don't feature any black or Hispanic kids among the winners of the career lottery.

  5. “International Law” is a hook that law schools use to lure in suckers who had a great time touring Europe after graduating from college. To the extent that it exists at all, “International Law” is reserved for a handful of people who graduate from elite schools. A 55K insurance defense gig in Toledo (Ohio, not Spain) would be an outstanding result for a Case Western grad.

  6. A classic scam. International Law is like a trail of candy for dummies, leading then into a forest of debt. This clown surely knows this yet still peddles this line of BS.

  7. While Case Western is obviously scamming hard on the international law careers, their student quality isn't that bad. They admit lemmings that are obviously naive, but also somewhat intelligent and motivated. Just imagine how bad it is for the students who depend on Whittier and Golden Gate to get them started in international law.

  8. Half the students at Case are planning on international careers, where the placement stats are horrendously bad. So that could mean that the other half of the student body is actually placing pretty well in Cleveland careers. As with many law schools, if Case just shrank itself by 50%--again!!--it wouldn't be a bad place to go.

  9. If you have ambitions to be a lawprof, go ahead and learn something from Michael Scharf. To wit, a good beard can hide multiple chins. This could prove helpful to established professors as well, especially Brian Leiter.

    1. JFC, what do you want, eggs in your beer?August 26, 2014 at 7:44 PM

      LoL, you think Aduren capable of growing facial hair?

  10. Another excellent post, Dybbuk. It's great to have you back. Isn't it funny how practicing lawyers can see so quickly through the nonsense of the law school scam?

    1. @9:47am. Actually, we didn't see through it quick enough. If we had seen through it quick enough, none of us would have gone to law school. Of course, $250,000 of non-dischargeable debt and a non-legal job earning $17,000 a year usually sobers people up pretty quick and helps them see a lot of things.


    2. JFC, what do you want, eggs in your beer?August 26, 2014 at 7:47 PM

      By definition, 11:28 AM, you were not a practicing lawyer (the condition precedent set by 9:47 AM) at the time you should have been seeing through the law school scam.

      So don't blame yersef (if in case you do) nor listen to those who will blame students for going to LS, even the entering class of 2014.

      People who would blame youngsters for believing what their parents, teachers, counselors, and (yes) the scamdeans and scamprofs tell them are just skunks (along with the skunkdeans and skunkprofs).

    3. Actually, if you see through the scam before deciding to attend law school, then you have what it takes to be a good lawyer. But since you see through the scam, you'll never become a practicing lawyer.

      Does this mean that you should have ignored the scam and gone to law school anyway? NO. Part of the scam is getting lemmings to believe that if they'd make good lawyers, then law school will transform them into actual lawyers. In reality, law school is far more likely to transform them into underemployed law school graduates. The legal jobs just aren't there, particularly in international public law.

  11. From what I can read, the main problem with the Case international law specialty and internships is that there emphasis is not just on international law, but rather international public law for which there are fewer and fewer real jobs as the governments further cut back funding. Look. If a student really wants to have an international practice, the way to do it these days is to clerk for Big Law then get hired as an associate, then ask/beg to get a foreign placement in one of the firm's overseas offices. The other way is to be an associate for a respectable firm for a few years, then go inhouse with a multinational. Most multinationals (especially in the energy and banking sectors) will post attorneys in foreign offices for a couple of years.
    The further problem is that, lured by the romance of a foreign internship, these students are basically just farting around Beijing for a summer rather than making the necessary contacts in Cleveland or Cincinnati. Wherever they want to work, they can get there faster (and actually make money) through law firms with overseas offices.

    1. JFC, what do you want, eggs in your beer?August 26, 2014 at 7:51 PM

      "Most multinationals (especially in the energy and banking sectors) will post attorneys in foreign offices for a couple of years."

      10:32 nails this. If you really, really want to get international legal exposure and practice, go inhouse as a basic transactional person and get a 2-3 year secondment to the EAA or Asia (never known of a secondment to South America; very few to Australia, and very few to Eastern EU countries, but they do happen).

  12. The students featured in this video, as of now:
    2 real international law jobs, 1 state assistant AG, 1 county assistant prosecutor, 1 having nothing to do with law, and 1 perhaps JAG (name is quite common, so hard to tell). And of course, these were their top prospects.

  13. Here is the final paragraph of the four-paragraph long message that the President of Case Western Barbara Snyder sent to Case Western law students in March, when the law school Dean, Lawrence Mitchell, resigned in scandal. I think it is telling:

    "We recognize that this academic year has proved challenging, and appreciate your ability to continue to focus squarely on continuing your education. We have watched your achievements in external contests with admiration, and absolutely beamed at the eloquence and enthusiasm you demonstrated in the school’s new recruitment video and other admissions outreach. Thank you for all that you have done – and done so well – during this difficult time."


    OK. You would expect, under the circumstances, a message from the administration to the students that butters them up, praises them or encourages them to remain focused on their studies, and that carefully deploys the word "challenging." What is weird about the message is that Snyder uses the occasion to praise the students for the way they performed on the "new recruitment video" and "other admissions outreach."

    I read Snyder's inappropriate reference to the "new recruitment video" and "other admissions outreach" as a hint that the students are valued by their own school mainly for their role as cheap props or performers in an media effort to corral a new set of ambulatory bags of money, aka law students.

    1. Oh, I bet they "absolutely beamed", with visions of dollar signs.

      Any law "student" who reads that without understanding what is going on is too damn stupid for law school, and certainly too damn stupid to handle a quarter of a million dollars' worth of public funds.

      Old Guy

    2. JFC, what do you want, eggs in your beer?August 26, 2014 at 7:52 PM

      "when the law school Dean, Lawrence Mitchell, resigned in scamdal. I think it is telling"


    3. Certainly Mitchell has earned himself an honored place in the annals of scamdom. That man was born to scam, in every conceivable way.

  14. "Complainants allege that Case Western committed material misrepresentations in its video regarding international law starring Prof. Scharf. Notwithstanding any misrepresentations or their materiality, no reasonable person would believe a man wearing a burgundy dress shirt. Dismissal affirmed."

  15. How close are we to the Vince Offer school of law at this point? And why, for whatever reason(s) does this guy remind me of Billy Mays?

  16. With that godawful burgundy "dress" shirt, he looks like a real-estate agent.

    Keep in mind that one cannot just show up in another country and start a job; typically that requires citizenship or the right sort of visa, neither of which is easy to obtain. I'm willing to bet that most of the people from Case Western who get paying jobs in another country already had the right to work in that country (probably by accident of birth) when they enrolled at Case Western. Trust me: organizations in Vienna and Geneva and Tokyo aren't clamoring to sponsor some half-ass unilingual Yank for a visa.

    Old Guy

  17. JFC, what do you want, eggs in your beer?August 26, 2014 at 7:30 PM

    "Of the 232 members of the graduating class of 2013, 7 got jobs abroad. "

    Hey man, that's like a whole THREE PERCENT. What do you want, eggs in your beer?

    I'd shell out 180K for a 3 percent chance at a career in international dolphin protectionismistic law.

    Sheesh, you peeps is just too lazy and choosy to take these here sugaplums that's hangin' right b4 ur eyes.

  18. JFC, what do you want, eggs in your beer?August 26, 2014 at 7:38 PM

    "Yet Scharf, with that wolfish smile of his, informs us that "nearly half of our students picked Case because of their interest in international law" and advises that Case is where students should come to launch their careers in international law. "

    Again, what do you want, eggs in your beer? If 3% of CWRUSOL students get FT gigs in international law, only 47% of their students will be severely disappointed to find themselves making panino at Panera Bread.

    Them's great odds for ANY one-in-a-million-snowflake to spend 250K+ on.

    Seriously, you guys area all just too choosy. You should be out helping that huge mass of unemployed, poverty-stricken Amurkins who desperately need legal help, and making big bank in the process. Stop being so lazy and go out and scratch out a living, helping the impoverished.

    Just last week, I helped get an old lady off her DUI and meth charges. I got TWO STICKS OF DOUBLEMINT GUM. Think about that for a minute... it'll come to you.. TWO sticks of DOUBLEmint is like equivalent to FOUR STICKS of gum.

    Do the math!

  19. Law student in video, speaking to mock tribunal: "Ruritania cannot hide behind the principal of male captus bene detentus to justify an unfair trial."

    Number of times that an Ohio reviewing court has cited the doctrine of "male captus bene detentus" in a published opinion: ZERO.

    Number of times that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (where Cleveland is situated) has cited the doctrine of "male captus bene detentus": ZERO

    1. JFC, what do you want, eggs in your beer?August 26, 2014 at 9:29 PM

      JFC, you just don't get it, do you?

      Why ELSE do you think they call it MOCK Court??


    2. Most law students call it moot court, and some call it "mute" court.

      JFC appears to be mocking the very profitable law school industry. This is morally depraved, and it's got to stop. Selling dubious credentials to misinformed buyers at terms that amount to enslavement is what made America great.

  20. Two hundred and sixty-six thousand and one hundred and twenty-five dollars! That's the debt from this law school? Plus, this law school is actually trying to sell international law as a viable career? And the federal government actually lends money for this shit...Unbelievable!

    1. Even the mafia couldn't dream up a scam like higher education, for the simple reason that it seems just.. so insane. Too crazy to even possibly work. Yet, here we are and the best part of the scam is that it's 100% legal and financed by the government.

  21. How did Scharf get so pleasantly plump? Probably from attending lots of law school conferences at luxury resorts. Once you're on the, uh, gravy train, it's almost impossible to get off.

  22. All right, my friends, here's a confession: About a year ago, I thought it would be cool to attend Case Western if I could get a full scholarship. They do mention full scholarships on their web site.

    This was before Mitchell went down, and his presence there had me dreaming dreams of corporate governance and securities litigation. I actually thought I was being realistic by focusing on practice areas that really exist while ignoring the obvious pipe dreams like constitutional law and international law.

    I realize now that it was a fantasy, something the brain produces when it has either inadequate evidence or a strongly desired outcome. If I can seriously entertain such a fantasy, just imagine what temptations must be faced by the masses of uninformed students. I really feel for those impressionable--and therefore highly vulnerable--young people. Some of them have already entered an intensely pleasurable and delusional state, which will almost certainly end in financial and emotional collapse. Please remember those poor souls when you ask yourself how you can make the world a better place. I'd venture to say that most of us know at least a few.