Saturday, August 7, 2021

Law today: unmanageable debt, low to zero income

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal reveals (surprise!) that a legal career ain't what it used to be. Many graduates leave with a mountain of debt overtowering a paltry or non-existent income.

Data from the Department of Education show that "[o]nly a dozen of the nation’s law schools leave students earning annual salaries two years after graduation that exceed their debts". Indeed, "the value of a law degree from nonelite schools has diminished. Salaries haven’t kept pace with inflation over the past 20 years. Meanwhile, tuitions have soared. A three-year juris doctor program, including living expenses, now can cost more than $250,000 at private law schools." The median salary has been stagnant over the past decade, while debt has continued to rise from an already obscene level.

The article focuses on the law school at the University of Miami, which, among the so-called top 100 law schools on the bogus "ranking" published by You Ass News, has the greatest gap between median debt at graduation and median salary two years later. Here is a sample of typical lemming-like foolishness inspired by delusions of prestige:

Laura Cordell, a 2019 graduate, said she chose Miami for the prestige, particularly within Florida. “You go to any courthouse in Miami and the judge went to UM, the judge is a teacher at UM, there’s some sort of connection to UM,” she said.

“When I was looking for law schools, I wasn’t looking at price as much as what would be good for my career,” said Ms. Cordell, 30 years old, who said she turned down another school that offered her a large scholarship. “I didn’t have an understanding of the gravity of the amount I was borrowing.”

Ms. Cordell owes $334,000 in federal loans for her time at Miami. She now makes an $80,000 base salary, with a bonus of about $12,000, working at a firm that specializes in insurance. Because her debt load is so high, she said, she can’t afford more than the minimum payment on an income-driven plan, which sets her monthly payments according to her income.

Now, let's get one thing straight, Ms Cordell: the U of Miami is in no way prestigious. Maybe the local bench features lots of graduates of your humdrum toilet school, but that doesn't mean that going there "would be good for [your] career". Those judges graduated long before you did, many of them at a time when the law-school scam hadn't fully bloomed into the monstrosity of today. You also wrongly attribute their apparent success to the law school that they attended. More likely, they succeeded despite going to a no-name law school, not because of it.

And anyone who admits "I wasn't looking at price" is not, in Old Guy's book, cut out to be a lawyer. Certainly she shouldn't have been allowed to contract a third of a million dollars in student loans underwritten by the federal government. Sorry to be frank, but failure to look at a price tag of that size manifests a shameful lack of intelligence, prudence, or both.

Dylan Boigris is similarly delusional:

“I had no work experience, life experience, anything like that before I signed on to this quarter-million-dollar loan,” said Dylan Boigris, a 2016 Miami Law graduate, who began his career making about $45,000 as a public defender. “I thought I would come out making much more than I did.”


Mr. Boigris, the 2016 Miami graduate, said he didn’t receive counseling about what borrowing roughly $240,000 would mean for his financial future. He now owes nearly $300,000, including interest and undergraduate debt.

“You tell them, ‘I need assistance,’ and they’re like, ‘OK, here’s a loan,’ ” said Mr. Boigris, who is 30. “It was just an endless supply of money.”

In February, he was surprised to learn that he and his fiancée couldn’t get approved to borrow as much as they wanted to buy a home. Though Mr. Boigris was making $120,000 after moving to the private sector, the lender told him his debt load was too high.

Yes, believe it or not, the borrowed funds were not Monopoly money: they do have to be paid back when the law-school game is over, and you can't buy a house on the same state-guaranteed never-never. But another graduate of toilet Miami has a different plan: stick the public with the cost of her folly:

Before Maria Rodriguez started at Miami in 2016, she and her mother visited the law school to discuss their concerns about affordability. The student had immigrated from Colombia as a child and grew up in a low-income family. She needed to buy books totaling about $1,000, she said, but her student loan money wasn’t yet available.

A school official told her there were no need-based scholarships available for her, and suggested she consider getting a credit card to buy the books, recalled Ms. Rodriguez, now 27.

Ms. Rodriguez said she didn’t blame the school for the timing of when loans were processed. She ultimately found a bookstore that gave her the books up front after she promised to make good when her loans came through.

She had a great educational experience at Miami, she said, though she now owes $300,000 in loans for her law and bachelor’s degrees. She works as a public defender, is enrolled in an income-based repayment plan, and expects to have her loans wiped away through a federal public-service loan-forgiveness program after paying for a decade.

Her "great educational experience" didn't teach her such frivolous lessons as responsibility for her personal finances or discretion when borrowing a third of a million. Mommy apparently dragged her to the campus "to discuss their concerns about affordability", yet those concerns weren't significant enough to keep her from taking an on assload of debt for her "great" overpriced toilet school.

Zigan Danklou, a Togolese immigrant who apparently graduated at age 35, went to the dean with a couple of dozen classmates "during his final year to voice financial concerns. The students hadn’t gotten their loan money as soon as they expected and were struggling, he said." They didn't voice concerns about the amount that they were bothering (just funny money to them, bien sûr); they only complained about the delay in getting borrowed dollars into their hot little hands. The dean served them pizza and a line about the bright future that allegedly lay ahead. What happened?

Even with a partial scholarship, Mr. Danklou borrowed $138,000. He struggled to find a permanent job after graduating.

After a brief stint working for the federal government, he has begun working as a solo practitioner in Jacksonville. He currently has zero income but hopes to make money from cases taken on a contingency basis. His student-loan balance, with interest, has risen to $155,000.

I don't feel so sanguine about Mr Danklou's prospects of making money on a contingency basis. Leaving aside the important issue of his competence as a lawyer, I wonder who would take a lucrative case on contingency to a nobody who can't make a penny "as a solo practitioner". Unfortunately for him, he—like Old Guy—was too old to find work in the legal "profession", a veritable warren of age-based discrimination.

Scam-professor Anthony Alfieri of the U of Miami states, correctly, that "[l]aw schools encourage a kind of magical thinking in order to keep the lights on" and a "kind of cruel optimism"—Old Guy would say delusion—about the prospects of six-figure salaries. But while the high debts are a certainty, the six-figure salaries are a will-o'-the-wisp. Consequently, only 15% of recent graduates of his toilet school had begun to repay their loans within two years of graduation. Although that figure is "the lowest rate among law schools at elite private research universities" (pardon Old Guy while he barfs over the "elite" bit), most other law schools differ only in degree. There are only fourteen law schools where most graduates repay any principal within two years of graduation.

None of this is news; we at Outside the Law School Scam have been reporting it for more than eight years, and many noble anti-scam activists were doing so before us. Though we be the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, we insist:

1. You should not go to law school unless you can pay in cash and do not need income.

2. The government should greatly restrict, or even abolish, federally guaranteed student loans.


  1. Last week, Dick Durban (D) and John Cornyn (R) submitted the "FRESH START through Bankruptcy Act of 2021" to the Senate. It would make student loans that are over 10 years old eligible for discharge in bankruptcy proceedings. It would also provide the power to claw back money from schools where too many of the graduates file bankruptcy. This would be the first countermeasure against scam schools in the age of the GradPLUS scam.

    For God, Country, and your Fellow Citizens, please contact your Senators, and tell them to support the FRESH START Act.

    1. Thanks for the information. That bill may offer some promise, but, as you suggest, it doesn't go far enough. Better still would be to cut back funding at the source. Clawing it back doesn't work unless the institution is still extant and solvent. And opening up loans for discharge after ten years might just encourage the law-school scam, not to mention those irresponsible lemmings who go into law school without intending to repay their debts.

    2. The con artist/scum will have a Bankruptcy on their record for 10 years, and forced to drive buy here/pay here cars from CarMax, the scam schools will be driven to insolvency, and may even feel compelled to lower tuition if they're going to be on the hook for failed loans. It won't be as effective as cutting off the GradPLUS loans, but it's a start.

    3. lol as an aside: For well-qualified buyers carmax is more like certified preowned than those shady used car lots: 30k-ish miles, 3-ish years old, and rates in the 2s and 3s. They actually sell off most of their subprime stuff (which isn't that much relative to the overall portfolio) and pay other banks to take on the risk, with the inhouse financing reserved for better loans kinda like how manufacturer financing is for new cars.

      That's the opposite of buy-here-pay here which makes loans so awful that they cannot be sold, so the dealer just keeps the note, charges obscene interest, and repossesses so aggressively that they often put remote killswitches and GPS trackers on the cars before they leave the lot. CarMax is nothing like that.

      Anyhoo, I digress. Whatever you think about it policy-wise, the fact is lenders are realizing people don't "really" have to pay these loans back cuz of IBR. Cars lend mostly on FICO, and mortgage underwriting is mostly based on what fannie/freddie say which now explicitly allows qualifying based on an IBR payment, even if it doesn't even cover the interest. Some lenders still don't "get it" when they see a $300/mo payment on a $300k debt, but with a little shopping you quickly find one that understands and if your FICO and DTIs are otherwise good the rate will be as low as anyone. Being on IBR certainly never hurt me in getting houses or cars or anything else. Maybe not good from a public policy/moral hazard perspective, but these balances are increasingly becoming legal fictions and other creditors are beginning to realize that they're leaving money on the table if they continue to insist on pretending that these are real debts that have to be paid in full.

      Bankruptcy's not as good of course but as others have said, there are limits on repeat filing and knowing someone doesn't owe the discharged debts anymore also goes a long way with new creditors. It's true it stays on your credit report for ten years, but the damage it actually does isn't nearly that long.

    4. There have been House bills in the past similar to this:

      None of it seems to get very far though.

  2. 8:55, you have an exaggerated idea of the consequences of bankruptcy. I worked at a car dealership and saw many "BK"'s as they were called approved for loans to buy new cars. In a way, someone who has recently filed but has a steady income is a good risk. They can't file again until they after their loan is paid off. You can get a FHA mortgage three years after foreclosure and conventional after five years.

  3. Got to give credit to WSJ, as its the only national publication which has highlighted the law school scam on a regular basis.
    But what's the proper response to the article? There really isn't one, since this scenario-alleged adults taking on hundreds of thousands in debt without thinking about it at all-has repeated itself again and again. Here's an article from NYT about Valpo from five years ago-just change the names of the school and the students and it's the same article.
    Here's the reality: higher ed-and especially law schoo- has become a huckster's dream, with gullible marks believing everything-and that means everything: prestige! respect! high salary while saving the world! etc etc.

    It's impossible to have sympathy for anybody but the taxpayers who will be left holding the bag of bad debt.

    1. And of course those marks expect that not the slightest ability is required for admission to law school, not even basic reading and writing skills. And they're right: toilet law schools, and even "prestigious" law schools, routinely admit people who obviously will never be adequate lawyers. Then the public gets saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in bad debt so that Ninny McLemming can fart around for three years at some toilet law school and fatten the profe$$ors and admini$trators.

    2. One day during seventh grade my English teacher said we would spend that day's class learning possessives, that they weren't at all complicated and that if we listened we would have them mastered for life. She was right, although this was back when they still had ability tracking and we were in the top tier.

      It therefore continues to amaze me how many law school graduates are apostrophe-challenged.

    3. And the apostrophe is just a rudimentary detail. Much more than knowing how to use the apostrophe is required for good writing. Yet few lawyers, and not even many judges, can compose a respectable page of text.

  4. Lots and lots of students will keep going to law school. We live in a country where literally just about 100 percent of high school grads are strongly encouraged to go to college. Many of these dim bulbs then spend 4 years in a drunken stupor, partying, having sex, cheering on their college football team, pledging fraternities and sororities, and so on. Then they graduate, and end up working a dead-end job, manning a cash register, pouring coffee and so on, and have to move back in with their parents. . .BUT WAIT. . .if they go to Law School they can defer all those pesky student loans for another 3 year, and party on, getting out of their old bedroom at back into a nice apartment, and party on for three more years! Yes, 1L is tough, but that's only 7-8 months, the second year of law school isn't challenging, and the third year should not even exist. Who cares about the student debt, they're not planning on repaying that anyway, so what difference does it make?

    1. Piss-poor standards and free money make for a potent brew.

    2. And then there is this:

    3. Well according to a little online research, only about 15% of first year college students live on campus. That's a pretty good proxy for traditional age and circumstances, because the traditional-age/background people who go off and get apartments usually don't do so until sophomore or junior year.

      That leaves about 85% of freshmen who are in one way or another deviating from the "traditional" college experience e.g. by living with parents, returning to school after a stint in the real world, and/or working/raising kids while trying to juggle school too.

      The "normal" drnuken party culture is, in reality, not very normal anymore. And if anything, that makes the scam worse. The people getting fleeced are people who already live in poverty, already have kids, get suckered by for-profit diploma mills, whatever.

      If only they were just exploiting mostly these upper middleclass adult-children. No, the scam hurts far more people far more vulnerable than the fratboy picture we tend to envision.

    4. One has to be careful about discussing "college students," as the numbers often include community college students, many of whom are part-time and/or non-trads and attend schools with no campus housing. A couple years back the manufactured crisis of the hour was that women outnumbered men in colleges by a huge number. Fact was, most of the gap was comprised of non-trad students at community colleges. Among students in their teens and early twenties at four year schools who were financially dependent on their parents the numbers were equal.

  5. Those who take out outsize loans cause questions to be asked about their capabilities as a lawyer. Top level in-house jobs are very difficult to obtain. And those who are successful in-house really understand business and often know as much about the business as line executives. I manage a team of lawyers, including four lawyers out of law school. One of the brightest has $250,000 in debt, which covered not only law school but a semester in London to get that oh so special overseas experience. His biggest challenge is in understanding finance and the business. In-house counseling is fast paced, and requires an ability to get to the bottom line, something no law school education provides. The same kind of thinking which put this kid $250,000 in debt is what is holding him back at work. He has no sense of priority over money and investments, or the challenge in monetizing r and d developments. I went to the top of the corporation (Fortune 20) to get him a healthy raise. His response? "Thanks, but I am no better off because I am still on income based repayment even though you just delivered nearly double six figures in compensation to me." I am sanguine about this guy. Either he develops a sense of business or he will be a staff attorney for quite some time. And in lean times, staff attorneys in corporate America are laid off. It is up to him. I tell young people the way to keep a career is always to add value well in excess of your compensation, and to focus on it intensely. This is lost on the law school grads, who aspire to be legal scholars and primp with their credentials. The scam is deeper than it often appears.

    1. Huh? Why would you get a "healthy raise" for someone so clueless? And after several decades as an attorney I've met plenty of tools, but not a single actual practing attorney "who aspire(s) to be (a) legal scholar and primp with their credentials." And you double his six figure salary and he claims he's no better off(with or w/o income based repayment)?
      Not sure if you're trollin' or just practice law in some other country.

    2. The notion that a raise means you're "no better off" is ridiculous. Unless the increase to your student loan payment equals 100% of the raise (which it cannot because income based repayment plans are the lesser of your 10 year standard payment or 10-15% of your income) a raise always benefits you even if you don't care about paying down your debt eventually, which unless you're on PSLF you probably should care about.

      Saying otherwise is like saying a raise is of no benefit because it will increase your taxes. So what? Unless the marginal tax rate on that raise is 100%, which it never is, a raise similarly always benefits you.

      Coupled with your other critiques, it sounds to me like you simply have another instance of a common problem with lawyers: Part of the reason many people go to law school is because they are good with words and bad with numbers. That's a real problem in-house because those lawyers often have to learn to "speak finance." Everything revolves around balance sheets and audits and GAAP rules and accrual accounting and whatnot.

    3. Not trolling - Georgetown Law thirty years ago. Second in the class. Law Review editor. Zero debt - undergrad on a D1 athletic scholarship and law school with futures trading earnings. You may call me a troll but I am one of the few who found law to be rewarding, both financially and otherwise. Then again, I am not your typical guy - only about 10 people a year get the kind of athletic scholarship I received in my marginal Olympic sport and then not too many are lucky enough to prosper in the futures casino and then be lucky enough to get out with lots of cash intact. I don't think or write like a lawyer and this probably has been a blessing in the business world.

      You are quite right that the kid didn't deserve a raise. But the the then general counsel desperately wanted the program in which he came in on to succeed. I would have been foolish not to push for the kid - it is the way you get a reputation as a manager.

      I find it interesting that you call me a troll. I am quite happy with my career decisions and sense of money (although law is a poor investment). Millions socked away, no debt whatsover, large house paid for, Ivy League educations for my kids paid for, and so on. This has nothing to do with the law but from a sense of economics that calls for treating money very well. If I had to go into debt to go to law school (even in the 80's Georgetown was a trap school) I wouldn't have done it, and certainly I could have found something else to do. Food for thought, all from a low life troll (I am sure you are much better off than I am).

    4. Lots of inconsistencies. "[L]aw is a poor investment" (no disagreement there), but gambling on futures isn't (big disagreement there). Business acumen involves kissing the ass of general counsel and throwing a six-figure annual sum away on a hopeless dolt who is "[o]ne of the brightest". I shall make my own findings of fact.

    5. "Part of the reason many people go to law school is because they are good with words and bad with numbers." In my experience, most law students are bad with both.

    6. Well, I am deeply impressed that this multi-millionaire would take time from his busy schedule to post here. His "sense of money" and "sense of economics" are clearly in addition to the other five, although it is puzzling that such a genius would give an utterly undeserving employee a 100% raise, and then claim the employee didn't want it because of IBR...yep, that sounds like you've got a great handle on how things work financially.

    7. rogermortimer gave himself away by asking us to believe that in-house counsel at a Fortune 20 corporation hires newbies straight from law school.

      Anybody with even minimal knowledge of the legal profession knows that in-house hires almost always have a few years of Biglaw or Bigfed experience.

  6. I got my JD in 1995. The law-grad job scene was bad then, much worse now.

    1. Got mine in '85; it was the tail end of the Golden Age. We were summer associates who got hired and got on the magic carpet like our seniors who had gotten on ten years before. But the carpet crashed and burned in the banking collapse of 1989. Our golden, partnership-track future vanished as if had been a picture on a chalk board that was suddenly erased.

      In the early to mid 80's large firms often had 2 or 3 associates per partner. Partners could keep themselves and 2 or 3 others busy; it was just that easy to bring in work. Firms kept growing faster than the economy for about 15 years. And then it all suddenly stopped. Major firms in my state now all have capital and non-capital partners and many, many more partners than associates, some of the latter being permanent associates. They are all moving into cheaper space and many are taking work they'd have laughed at ten years ago.

      But at least we late boomers had an apparently secure future when we enrolled. Not sure how anyone can think they have a bright future now that would justify the debt. $150,000.00 or more? My total debt was less than 25% of my starting salary.

      And people told me law school was too risky back then! We didn't have you-ass news rankings then but you could tell which were the top 25 and I only applied to those.

    2. Non-equity partner should be recognized as the oxymoron that it is. A partner in any LLC or PLLC or whatever is someone with an ownership stake, period. They bear both profit and loss in proportion to that stake and they can't generally be "fired" unless that stake is bought back at fair value. That's what it means.

      I wonder if these so-called non-equity partners even get a contract, or if they're still just at-will employees whose "partnership" doesn't even pass the ha-ha test.

      In any case, I think we have to recongize that the objective isn't making partner anymore. It just isn't. The objective is to get the right big name big firm on your resume and then go in house or to the government, or maybe make partner at a much smaller "boutique" firm. But the days of going into biglaw expecting to make partner are long gone, as is the lifelong security even if you do make it!

    3. Yes, "non-equity partner" is an oxymoron. That said, even real partners of law firms these days are being fired, so one has to wonder what exactly their "ownership" means.

      Anyone who might make partner at some white-shoe law firm should be able to do something more lucrative and less risky.

  7. from

    "Michael Simkovic, a professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, is criticizing the Wall Street Journal’s reporting at Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports.

    Simkovic said the Wall Street Journal failed to note that the federal government offered 0% interest forbearance on federal student loans in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, didn’t compare how law graduates’ loan repayments compared to other student loan borrowers, and didn’t compare law graduates’ earnings to those with only a bachelor’s degree in similar fields.

    Simkovic noted data from a third-wave survey taken in 2012 of lawyers who passed the bar in 2000, known as After the JD III. The survey found that graduates of law schools ranked below 100 typically had median salaries in the six figures within 12 year of graduation, Simkovic said."

    After the JD had less than half the class participating if this is recalled correctly. Income was not verified in After the JD, while the income data cited in the WSJ is taken directly off of borrowers' tax returns. In any event, the income is not sufficient at the median for most law schools for grads to repay the debt and there is no hard evidence that earnings of law grads will ever increase enough over their careers to repay their burgeoning debt with interest compounding each year at 7%.

    1. Scamkovic strikes again.

      * Forbearance of interest: It doesn't last forever, nor does it do anything about the principal.

      * Comparison to other borrowers: Pffffffft. Go ahead and make the comparison, mother-fucker. And then explain how you can possibly defend the law-school scam by comparison to other scam-programs.

      * Comparison of earnings to those holding only a bachelor's degree: Also compare the debt for the two groups.

      * Survey: Typical Scamkovic-style bait-and-switch. The people who were surveyed finished law school TWENTY-ONE FUCKING YEARS AGO. The intervening years have been much worse for new graduates, and Scamkovic knows it.

    2. Also, even if forbearance DID forgive principal, that is only cuz of COVID and has nothing to do with whether the school deserved the price IT charged and received.

      And comparison of other borrowers? Two wrongs don't make a right. That's like getting pulled over and thinking you can get out of the ticket because "everyone else was speeding too." So what if other degrees are also scams? Lots are. Doesn't make the JD any more or less worth it.

      I will give him one thing: Long-term outcomes merit further study. And a lot of people do seem to sorta somehow (eventually and after a long struggle) get to a point where they make a decent living, though often not from practicing.

    3. The model of borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars for law school (to say nothing of any prior schooling) depends on practicing as a lawyer—with the sort of income that is seldom available outside Big Law. Scamsters sing the praises of low-paying work such as hanging out a shingle in rural Nebraska (66 of the 93 counties of Nebraska have fewer than 10,000 people, and 12 have fewer than 1,000). Even if such work is available, however, it cannot justify student loans in the six figures.
      And that's a very big if.

      In reality, most of the few people who do get Big Law are out in a few years and never see comparable earnings again. So the insane levels of student loans don't make sense even for most of that small group.

    4. A good number of doctors stop treating patients after awhile, favoring "pure administrative" medical director roles or consulting gigs or what have you. Some write self-help books and use the MD credibility to get a publisher to pick it up. Or maybe they become talking heads like Sanjay Gupta. Or they push dietary supplements like Dr. Oz.

      Such doctors aren't technically practicing, but they're paid very well and the MD is absolutely required for their jobs. There is a similar thing that happens with JDs, and I do see a number of long-timers ending up in various C-suite roles, for example. So it's not categorically true that your JD is irrelevant if you aren't practicing. I for one cannot even imagine still schlepping to court, flying all over the place taking depos all the time after 40 years, or endlessly redlining documents back and forth to meet ruthless billable hour requirements after all that time.

      So while schools definitely overhype "JD advantage" jobs, in the sense that they are not really jobs you apply for on Indeed all that much, when you're looking 10 or 20 years out you cannot just assume the JD was a waste if they aren't still practicing. It's more nuanced than that.

      But yes, all of those trajectories, whether they involve practice or not, tend to go to people who at least started out in biglaw. Most people won't make partner and are in it for the "exit opportunities." So that very first job out of law school is so, so determinative of where you'll be 20 years later. Schools need to be upfront about this. The legal profession is really two professions: Biglaw (and the things that come after biglaw, ***IF*** you stay just long enough and don't get Lathamed before you have the sweet-spot amount of experience) and everything else.

      I bet that studying the long-term outcomes would, if anything, help demonstrate how severe that failure to get a job at 2L OCI is to lifetime prospects.

    5. While the analysis of the legal profession is no doubt accurate, these statements about physicians are just wrong:
      "A good number of doctors stop treating patients after awhile, favoring "pure administrative" medical director roles or consulting gigs or what have you. Some write self-help books and use the MD credibility to get a publisher to pick it up. Or maybe they become talking heads like Sanjay Gupta. Or they push dietary supplements like Dr. Oz."

      There are very few administrative or talking head or self-help jobs in the medical profession. Most MDs are in practice until they retire, for better or worse. It's a profession that is now most specialists; the family doctor, by and large, is becoming a thing of the past, and specialists need to do their procedures in order to get paid. And in terms of sheer numbers, there are very few of these non-patient centered jobs. They just don't exist.

    6. I will yell you one area many physicians gravitate to..the expert witness field. So long as they have no integrity and are willing to sell their souls to insurance companies, they can literally earn 7 figures annually.

    7. So, 2:09, are you saying that the experts who work for plaintiffs don't get paid? And how about all the experts who helped John Edwards get rich by saying that cerebral palsy can be caused by trauma in the birth canal? When all those verdicts caused the number of ceasarian sections to skyrocket the incidence of cerebral palsy remained exactly the same. How much integrity did those experts have?

    8. In our adversarial system, an expert witness is hired by one party. Certainly there are expert witnesses who testify truthfully and competently. But a party will want an expert witness that favors that party's position, not the truth. If the first expert consulted won't support the party's position, the party will simply look for another expert. Consequently, expert testimony is often biased—not necessarily because the experts themselves are incompetent or corrupt, but often because the judicial system itself encourages the selection of so-called experts who will give evidence in favor of the party that hired them.

      Much of the world uses what in English is unfairly called the inquisitorial system, in which the court takes an active part in collecting evidence. Typically the judge will select an expert from a list compiled by the court. Being independent of the parties, the court-appointed expert might reasonably be expected to give unbiased evidence. The inquisitorial system is not without its problems, but it does seem to overcome the difficulty of trying to determine the truth from two biased "expert" accounts.

    9. Granted old-guy, there is a problem with the system itself that encourages doctor and other expert shopping, but you are wrong, there are countless experts out there, in my experience insurance defense doctors, who are indeed corrupt and sometimes incompetent. Their game is to get hired by insurance companies, to charge big bucks and to give the insurance companies the testimony they want so they are rehired over and over. 99% of the time, the insurance defense experts are simply liars in my opinion. Where I practice, the insurance defense guys get only one chance to have a compulsory medical exam, so they know exactly who to go to for those exams. Not all doctors are corrupt of course, but if they are not, they do not end up in the insurance defense industry. The real problem with the practice of medicine of course is not the corrupt doctors, but the fact so much practice is non-evidence based. All of those back surgeries they do may in the long run do more harm then good, etc.

    10. Well in fairness, the rules do kinda deal with the hired gun expert problem within the adversarial process itself. Rule 26 requires all kinds of disclosures, including the fee being paid, so if you switch experts the other side is gonna know about it and use it to impeach, unless the person was just a non-testifying consulting expert in which case parties sometimes fight about whether that stuff is discoverable.

      My other critique when it comes to doctors as expert witnesses is something that bothers me about public perception of doctors in general: Their skillset is so rare and hard to acquire that we often give them more weight than we should when they talk about things they don't necessarily know. Even if they subsequently got into the expert witness game, I think we need to keep in mind that they are not walking talking lie detectors. On the contrary, their treatment-based training would tell them to always start with the assumption that their patient is telling the truth. They may well be able to shed that identity and tend to side with whomever hires them if they've made a career out of testifying, but ultimately the fundamental distinction between treatment and forensics is something that's lost on courts, the general public and sometimes even docs themselves.

      Indeed, there's this instinct to get an expert with the "highest" credentials possible. That's what we lawyers find most persuasive: Fanciest schools, most selective programs, etc. But when (for example) the issue is credibility, I have found that PhD psychologists are better at evaluating that than MDs, for the most part. No surprise really. Their training involved studying people, researching them, administering and interpreting evidence-based tests and whatnot, including tests designed to detect deception. That's why companies use industrial/organizational psychologists when designing their pre hire tests, for example.

      Docs, OTOH, come from a background of assuminng patient is telling the truth and treating the condition. And they learn to do that primarily in a residency (apprenticeship) setting. But because the PhD is seen as the "lesser" credential, people wanna see that MD.

      I think part of the reason MD experts who make a career of testifying tend to become such nonobjective hired guns is precisely that: They aren't really trained for what they're being asked to do. Not really. They can get good at testifying, sure. They are very smart after all. But what they went to school for was to treat, to provide direct care, not so much to evaluate things like who is to blame for stuff or who is telling the truth.

    11. The fundamental problem here is that law is no longer an honorable profession. We have allowed the legal system in our country to deteriorate to the point that it is mostly based on deceit. Reason, evidence, and for that matter, the truth have become irrelevant.

      One of my dumb-as-dirt colleagues in my psychiatry residency snagged a coveted forensic psychiatry fellowship in the same institution, I suspect because she was an attractive female, married to a pro football player. One of her first gigs was as an "expert" for a defendant in a capital trial. She testified UNDER OATH that she was certain the defendant was truthful with her when she assessed him because--get this: "Psychiatrists are trained to know when someone is telling the truth or not." Huh? I must have been asleep during THAT lecture! I almost fell out of my chair when that statement was reported on the evening news.

      But, there are rarely consequences for perjury like that, because, hell, 3/4 of the lawyers, and most "expert witnesses" and a fair number of material witnesses would be prosecuted and would overwhelm the criminal "justice" system!

      So, it is certainly not hard to accept that legal education, like the rest of the profession, is mostly a scam run by an elite cabal of shysters.

    12. I fully agree that law is no longer an honorable profession, or even a profession at all. I would purge two lawyers out of three. I am ashamed to associate myself with the legal "profession".

      Psychiatry, in my view, has other problems—not only the frank quackery and stupidity of people like that bimbo that you mentioned but also the unscientific nature of whatever it is that psychiatrists purport to do. Psychiatrists constantly utter solemn pronouncements about "chemical imbalances" even though not one of them has ever demonstrated a chemical imbalance in anyone, and the gullible public has swallowed the propaganda to the point of supposing that serotonin is to depression as insulin is to Type I diabetes. The so-called "disorders" postulated by psychiatrists change with the political winds and are defined without regard for objectivity ("Must exhibit at least five of the following eleven symptoms", the symptoms themselves all being subjective). Psychiatrists never address organic problems with the brain, such as traumatic injuries, neoplasms, infections; they deal only with "the mind", whatever that may be, and for some reason they're allowed to prescribe medication for it.

      So I'm not surprised that the bimbo and many others develop a godlike self-image of having special insight into the human mind, to the point of being able to ascertain whether a person is telling the truth.

    13. Like everything else in the world of law, the use of so-called experts has spun out of control; I've practiced so long that back in my PD days, we were denied our own experts because, well, the court found that in order to be an "expert" the person testifying had to be impartial. Can anyone imagine that happening now, with each expert clearly a hired gun ready and willing to support whatever your theory of the case may be?

      As OG notes, law is no longer an honorable profession, and as CC notes, the vast majority of experts are not honorable, either. In the words of a judge trying a medical malpractice case(ok, he was particularly exasperated and needed to vent, and I was next on his docket), they're all "whores chasing the fattest wallet."

    14. Right, OG, as to the chemical imbalance thing. What can be said, though, is that these meds affect this chemical and they seem to improve symptoms, so we can infer the existence of the imbalance from the fact that medication X has positive effects that exceed placebo in a statistically significant way.

      The other thing is public perception. That profession has been forced to push the chemical imbalance narrative because without it, people won't see the disorders as "real." We'd go back to the days of calling these things character defects, insurance not paying for help, and so forth.

      But the DSM is better understood as a language: A shorthand for certain sets of symptoms. It also gives people comfort to have a "diagnosis" even though there is no lab test to confirm it.

      The good psychiatrists I know readily own up to the fact that it's all more art than science, that "social determinants of health" such as poverty or homelessness are every bit as important to mental health as chemicals (which is why therapy and medication work better together than either do alone) and they certainly don't claim to be an oracle with a magical ability to tell truth from lies, even though ironically the system does seem to expect them to do just that. Consider competency to stand criminal trial. If you're incompetent and not restorable, you can literally get away with murder and it's a lot easier to prevail on incompetency (which means you can't be tried at all) than insanity (which goes to the jury). The incentive to malinger on something like competency is massive, and the psychiatrists are the only ones expected to be able to detect it even though in most other contexts we do regard credibility to be something for juries to determine.

    15. Thanks for having the honesty to admit that the propaganda of a "chemical imbalance" rests on a weak foundation. I don't quite buy the argument that the end justifies the means, however: it could be used, mutatis mutandis, to justify such quackery as chiropraxis ("we couldn't get money from insurers unless we hoodwinked the public with crap about 'subluxations'!") and the whole range of other fraud that is being passed off as medicine to pander to the prejudices of the ignorant and save insurance companies money ("we'll happily pay for prayers or a coffee enema rather than chemotherapy; just sign our handy little release").

      Some people may find solace in a "diagnosis", but there seems to be little else to gain from labeling a set of putative symptoms. There are also plenty of people who bristle at being labeled with a "disorder". I'd like to know which saintly people exist in the blessedly ordered state free of the various politically defined "disorders" of psychiatry. Do psychiatrists themselves belong to this immaculate élite? And what entitles anyone to attach the negative label "disorder" to someone else's mental state?

  8. Florida Coastal has been denied an injunction compelling the government to extend student loans once again to its band of toileteers:

    That would seem to be the end of the line for the InfiLaw chain of scam-schools.

  9. Maybe this was a sinecure too far.

  10. Oldy Guy - no inconsistencies. I was freaking 23 years old when I traded futures, and set a time line in which to quit. I did so at 25. I was poor from a single mother home and very distrustful of people in general, so taking risk to avoid debt seemed natural, if not a little crazy in retrospect. I had some aptitude for it - my twin brother was a fellow D1 scholarship athlete and is a world class investor and Phd economist - this skill didn't fall from a tree. As a former really competitive D1 scholarship athlete who needed to transition to a career (not so easy, as most of my top former competitors are coaches and teachers, something not for me), I could easily take this kind of risk. You are non-traditional, why are you questioning me for being the same? My story is non inconsistent in the least. I knew what I was doing when I did it, and indeed, if I did not get the right kind of law job, I was welcome back at my old company (which did move its headquarters to Dallas, however). I did find the attitude you reflect at law school, where with not much work I was at the top of the class and a Law Review editor, despite having a dirt poor background. The elites generally thought one way, processed matters by their own rules, and I did not understand them and generally found them rather narrow and protected. To me, work was just work whether in the law or not, and the vital thing was, and still is, to add value well in excess of your compensation, something lawyers are not generally not trained to do (they can bill hours, however). And while I think your own story makes a lot of sense to me, as I found myself a bit old at 25 to enter law school, if you had adopted my view of work - and had the same deep distrust of the system I did - I think things could have been much easier for you. I don't take offense at your criticism - my fellow law school classmates never understood me nor my financial bent or my non-legal bent - and I remain a bit shocked by my law school record to this day - and while I am grateful for the legal education, it hasn't defined me or my career. Indeed, recently I have been named a finance executive but the reason for the good JD advantage job has nothing to do with law school but rather with the fact that at a very young age I had a profit center job and learned the relationship between risk and return and a sense of business prioritization. When I went into senior management, I had a management assessment performed on me and one of the conclusions was that law school was a mediocre use of my skills, and after getting my ego out of the way, which was not so easy, in the end I could not agree more. I feel for your plight - there are different rules of the game that could have been played, although not easy to grasp after a three year opportunity cost and debt (hopefully not too big). And as far as the young kid with unrealistic salary issues, he is doing incredibly well at a competitor, making very good money, far more than I ever would have guessed, so indeed I am happy with the way he was trained (despite his issues and flaws). (I don't like his new employer's business model - a Fortune 100 company but with the oddest governance structure I have seen - a public company owned by a private entity, but I support his decisions).

    1. Please go under what rock you came from, you idiot troll.

      Seriously, this is incomprehensible nonsense.

  11. A note on the original article where that poor solo wants to do contingency work. I see a lot of that in my town: All the solos advertise for PI just in case the proverbial lotto ticket walks in the door, dreaming of that one big case that'll let them leave the law behind forever.

    But everyone knows that what they REALLY do is what REALLY walks in the door, i.e. family law and minor criminal defense. Collect a 2-3k retainer, bill it down, and withdraw when its exhausted and not replenished (which it won't be). And that's how they survive: 2-3 grand at a time, rinse and repeat, getting whatever cases they happen to be the first to pick up the phone on, that being the extent of most people's due diligence at the lower-middle class end of the socioeconomic ladder. Might get the occasional contingency case, but at best it's going to be something administrative like social security or workers comp. Maybe a dogbite here or there.

    Many start out thinking they're gonna do big PI. But they soon realize they won't get it, won't know what to do with it if they did, and don't have the cashflow to advance expenses even if they somehow did get both the case and the competence. So a little tab about PI that they'd love to talk to you about stays up on the website, which over time gets more and more dominated by information about any solos' usual bread and butter. Then, almost all of them apply for every government job that pops up every time it pops up, and promptly shutter their practice if and when they get it. Sometimes they might also find a more accessible niche, like getting in with the property managers to handle evictions. But real PI? Ain't happenin', but dare to dream.

    I always got a chuckle out of how people hire private practice criminal defense solos because they assume public defenders are the losers, when I know for a fact that the very lawyer they hired has applied to and been rejected from the public defender 5 or 6 times in as many years.

    1. It's easy to get cases on contingency. Loads and loads of people will hand their bullshit case over to a so-called lawyer who is prepared to handle it without charging fees along the way. But bullshit cases are bullshit cases, and they won't bring in money whether the lawyer puts in one hour or a thousand.

      So, yes, getting work on contingency isn't difficult, but making money on contingency is. A strong eight-figure claim is hardly likely to end up in the hands of a washed-up nobody who can't make a thin dime as a putative solo practitioner.

      Personal injury is not so much an area of legal practice as a financing scheme.

    2. I did acknowledge they might get the occasional dogbite or whatever. That's not what I or these solos dream of when they always put it up there on the website "just in case" though.

      They're dreaming of someone calling up who was rendered quadriplegic after getting rear-ended by a drunk driver who happens to have the highest policy limits money can buy.

    3. Yes. In this case, however, I am willing to bet that the purported interest in handling cases on contingency has little to do with sugar-plum visions of easy money and more to do with desperation. That so-called lawyer has utterly failed to thrive but won't admit it. "Contingency" is probably just his excuse for pretending for a while longer to be a lawyer.

    4. The other thing with contingency work is "free lawyer syndrome." Once you take on any non-commercial debt collection or non-PI file on contingency you will likely become the victim of FLS. A client who catches FLS will expect free service on every triviality of their life with any tenuous, tangential or theoretical connection to some legal issues. In fact, FLS cn also rear its terrible head anytime someone isn't paying the bill themself. A firm I worked at did "executive relocation" closings for a large insurance company, i.e. house closings for people selling or buying a house and receiving relocation costs from the employer. It was supposed to introduce the firm to high-level people at this company but it didn't really work to our advantage. I think they kept it because it had become a tar baby; they didn't want to tell general counsel they wanted to stop doing them because they were money losers. But in any event, on average about half of these people came to their closing with one or more unrealted legal questions to ask on the company's dime.

    5. Desperation yes, but with a different aim than "pretending to be a lawyer." I think most have long since learned to hate that. Like how a lotto ticket is the dream of escape, so to is that unicorn big case.

      The dream is to cash a settlement check so big that a third of it is well into the seven figures, and then immediately close up the practice and ride off into the sunset, never to practice again.

      I think I'd buy a yacht and try to get some kind of a charter type business going ferrying tourists in some tropical locale out to sea to go fishing or diving or to tour islands or just to party or whatever. Doesn't everyone have some kind of dream like that?

    6. I don't have a dream of that kind. I find it more helpful to live in the real world than to spend time fantasizing about getting something for nothing.

    7. As a recovered Desperate Solo(I was saved by a friend who got me a drone job with govt agency), FLS injects itself into every type of case. I was so desperate for business, any business, I wasted hour after hour talking to prospective clients...and it all came to nothing.
      Here's a sample, it's a PI case but...
      Got a call from a guy referred by an ex-coworker. He tells me wife has been in an auto accident, and she suffered some injuries-sprained shoulder, needed four stitches in chin, plus the usual aches and pains. Her car was totaled, and the cops say the other driver was 100% at fault...and under the influence as an added bonus. The at fault driver is insured by a national company.

      So yes, I was really interested. Then..the guy explains he doesn't want to hire me for his wife, he just wants me to tell him how to negotiate with the insurance company. He tells me directly he won't pay me anything for this advice/assistance, because, after all, he would be doing all the work.
      So, of course, I hung up immediately, right? I stayed on the phone with him for way too long, hoping to convince him to hire me...and no, he did not. In fact, he acted quite annoyed that I wouldn't help him negotiate(Eric told my that you'd help me!!!).

      And I wish this were my only "free lawyer" story but sadly it is not.

    8. Yeah, he's doing all of the work, yet he needs advice and also expects you to negotiate a settlement for nothing.

      Sometimes a person who gets a bit of free advice will refer paying clients, but I wouldn't bet on that, nor would I spend a lot of time in the hope of gaining business. More likely, anyone referred would just be eager for more free services.

      A lawyer can at least stand behind the need to check for conflicts: "I'm retained only on matter A. Please call my assistant if you would like to retain me on matter B."

      Closing on real estate is a commodity-type business: most clients are interested in nothing but price. Unfortunately, the same is true of wills. Many people hire one of the lawyers who will write a will and related documents for a flat fee of a few hundred dollars. The result is a 1½-page form filled out by a secretary and hastily signed before the lawyer. I consider that to be malpractice, but I also wonder about the sense of people who would leave their estate planning in the hands of some bottom-of-the-barrel pettifogger who obviously cannot put in the necessary time (even if the skill is present—usually it is not) for a few hundred dollars.

    9. The amazing thing, OG, was that there was not one iota of irony in his petulant reaction. He really expected free legal advice, per 10:10's entry, having embraced FLS completely. Actually not just legal advice, but advice on procedure and negotiation strategies in dealing with the insurance adjuster. This would have entailed hours of conversations, of course, but he didn't care since he wasn't willing to pay for any of it-because he had decided that such advice from me ought to be free.

      And there was the woman who called about her son's juvenile del case; the facts she gave me over the phone didn't make much sense, so I told her to collect all the paperwork, collect her son, and I'd meet with them at lunchtime at my office. She came in without any documentation regarding the alleged transgressions and without her son. I still explained the juv court process, and also told her that there had to be more documentation(actual notice, etc) and would recommend she go to the courthouse with her son to get copies of everything. She become irate, accused me of wasting her time, and stomped out. She worked in furniture sales; such was the respect she accorded legal advice.

      And FLS attached itself to many other types of cases in the DS world. There were numerous "potential" criminal clients who would suddenly qualify for the PD once I quoted a fee(but only after a meeting or two or three times to go over the case). That sort of thing happened to me more than once, in an effort to get some cash coming in the door.

      Yes, it well and truly sucked being a desperate solo.

    10. Many people just aren't willing to pay for legal services. The trick is to state at the outset that you are happy to offer a brief initial consultation of X duration (I suggest no more than half an hour) and that further services will be billed at your standard rate of $Y per hour. That gives you the excuse to cut the meeting short. People will happily waste your time if you let them, so don't.

      Or you can charge for the initial consultation at a heavily discounted rate, with payment in advance. For example, offer the first hour for $75. This approach screens out the people who just want free services, and it does bring in some money, albeit less than you would usually charge. Some people are happy to pay a modest flat fee for some brief advice. Charging for the initial consultation will drive many people away, but I consider that a good thing, not a bad one: most of them would only have wasted your time.

  12. @OG: Oh c'mon, you've really NEVER had a daydream about what you'd do if you didn't have to practice?

    @10:10: Yeah, lotsa lawyers are getting wise to Free Lawyer Syndrome. They're either very clear that they ONLY do one thing, like with the PI big boys with huge ad budgets, or they are using a lot of hybrid fee agreements which I tend to see at firms that do stuff like plaintiff-side employment law: They're charging hourlies or flat fees for consults and for stuff like EEOC mediations and not going contingent unless it really is going to federal court and they're comfortable with the risk and cashflow implications.

    Most people have a speech at the ready about how 100% contingency with 100% costs advanced only applies to a narrow subset of types of case, and that by no means is that how most legal matters are paid for.

    1. Rather than daydreaming about yachts, I spend time figuring out how to get out of law. I know what I'm going to do and how and when I'm going to achieve it. I routinely take steps in that direction. In fact, I could retire right now if I wanted to; I'm just preparing for something a bit grander (though nothing like owning a yacht).

    2. @OG 8:10 It kind of sounds like you are talking about investing in some way.

    3. It's not a dream of partying, it's a dream of running a business that makes money because the cost paid by passengers exceeds the cost of buying/leasing/maintaining the boat and paying the crew. Of course I'd want to learn to drive the thing and captain it myself, lol, but I wouldn't be one of the partyers.

      The dream is a dream about having the startup funding for a business venture, not ballin' on a yacht partying.

    4. @10:29 It seems a highly circuitous route to achieving the dream. Achieve academically through high school and university to be admitted to a high ranked law school. Then go through the expense, lost opportunity and degradation of law school, all for the objective of the slim possibility of hitting a multi-million dollar 'settlement'. Gotta stay away from those jury trials. Then retire from the law and start a charter boat business with new unknown risks, liabilities and headaches.

      My dreams were a lot more grounded. It used to be to get a federal position. I guess they didn't want me for that so the dream became just a job where I didn't have to forfeit my vacation 'benefits' every year. That was asking too much also, so now the dream is just to get through the next few years for some sort of modest financial security in retirement and hopefully some semblance of my health still intact.

      If that interested in boats and small craft, wouldn't joining the Coast Guard be a good way to learn instead of going to law school?

    5. "If that interested in boats and small craft, wouldn't joining the Coast Guard be a good way to learn instead of going to law school?"

      Of course it would've, but it's not like this is some lifelong dream. In undergrad the dream was to be a lawyer. Not because I "like to argue" or any of that stupid stuff people say, but because I like to research and write and hate numbers and this seemed more responsible at least than trying to get a novel published or trying to become a humanities professor. Just a way to get paid to write, that's all I wanted.

      And law school seemed like a perfect fit when I was in it. I mean, all you do is dissect appellate decisions that turn on issues of "pure law." It felt intellectual and fun.

      The cost I hated of course, but I actually loved the substance of law school. And I probably would've loved practicing too in some fantasy world where you could get jobs that involved nothing but appellate work and motion practice. But of course there is no such setting for 99.9% of grads, so I hated it and found a different daydream.

    6. @5:03 I get it. I used to daydream about just about moving to another state. I'm out of daydreams.

      I liked studying law to a degree. It was a lot of work too. But the classroom part has made a negative mark on me. I'm not good at thinking on 'my feet'. I would rather spend hours alone with the books. There were at least three occasions where professors 'set me up' with unanswerable questions and they were out to get me. One time was in Criminal Law. The professor decided to drill me on the crime of rape, knowing full well that I might be uncomfortable talking publicly about a sex crime. I was set up. He forced me to answer whether the borderline hypothetical case presented consent or not, and I answered honestly that I thought there was consent. The MeToo crowd in the class, although it wasn't known as such at that time then savaged me. The professor in question is dead now. Died rather young.

    7. Thanks 5:48. FWIW, when I was in law school they had definitely gotten less "Socratic." Cold-calling pretty much only took place in 1L and even then, they would give you a list of randomly-selected names in advance of each class and only those names were eligible to get cold-called.

      Since you also know from the syllabus what cases were going to be discussed in each class, you had advance notice both of the prospect of being cold-called and of what you might get cold-called about. So you'd just read those cases more intensely if you knew you were "on the hot seat" so to speak.

      It's really low IMHO to give someone a hypo intentionally designed to solicit an un-PC response and then leave the student to fend for himself with angry classmates. I mean at the very least, prof should've admonished your classmates that regardless of their feelings, they could end up representing a defendant and so the argument for consent has to be made if the evidence potentially supports it. Sorry you had that experience as I definitely didn't see such mean-spiritedness from any of my profs!

    8. I'm of the view that those who can't stand the heat should get out of the kitchen. Most of us lawyers do regularly encounter unpleasant matters in the course of our work. And, yes, I've had to represent many people who have been involved in things that I consider contemptible—and I can do so without a quiver, because that is the job of a lawyer. If you want to be insulated from situations in the real world, find something else to do.

      I do agree, however, that professors should teach law students that law is not about private opinions. Even many lawyers appear not to know that law exists.

    9. @Old Guy 2:46 Now that 'us lawyers who regularly encounter' combined with a prior statement that you interview candidates, implies that you are handsomely employed now as an attorney, do you think it might be time to shut down this blog, since its primary purpose was to lament the poor legal employment prospects of Old Guy?

    10. Assumes facts not in evidence.

    11. FWIW, even if one eventually manages to be OK in law, it doesn't mean it's something they'd recommend to others. For one thing, it always gets worse. Even if things sucked royally when you graduated, they'll suck even worse for someone who graduates 10 years later. Tuition only goes in one direction (up) and demand falls or at best stays flat.

      Moreover, those who do manage to beat the odds are usually aware that they've beaten the odds. Whatever combination of luck or hard work or finding some niche they managed, they know that things could've gone south at so many points along the way, and often still could. Success in law is a fragile thing, easily lost even if it is achieved.

      So even if you made it, there are far better paths to the middle or upper middle class and those who managed to make it can feel the need to dissuade others all the more acutely: Even if you reach a goal, law is rarely the best path there.

  13. Free Lawyer Syndrome:
    A guy had a personal injury case with us. His current girlfriend (who nobody in the law firm had ever met or dealt with in relation to his case or anything) came storming in to reception one day, handing us a parking ticket that she was going to fight on 'human rights' grounds. The receptionist (foolishly to get rid of her) made an appointment for her to see one of our lawyers.
    The appointment was adjourned several times, and it fell to me (as a temporary lawyer) to see her on a particular day. As I read the charge, I realized it was being heard on that morning. She demanded I go to court and represent her, I asked if she would pay for our time, she said of course not, you are 'our' lawyers and you have to do it for nothing! So I simply sent her off to court to represent herself. People just wont pay for anything - this 'profession' is a joke.

    1. The receptionist should be told to say that no one in the office practices in that area, without describing the area as the representation of selfish idiots.

      Instead of asking whether she will pay you, just state that you don't believe that defending a ticket worth a few dozen dollars could possibly justify the cost of your legal services—and that you'll need to have the retainer fully paid in before you can act for her.

    2. The sadder thing 9:32, is that apparently your firm would have expected you to handle it it she had paid for the time. What would you have done if she did pay and then you lost and now the client has to pay both you and the ticket?

      Sometimes the best thing is to send them off to represent themselves whether they would've paid or not. Parking tickets aren't even moving violations, so it's a question of whether having a lawyer even adds any value.

      One time in undergrad I contested a parking ticket just to see what'd happen. The "hearing" was just in some guy's office in city hall; I think he was mostly a regular municipal employee but also functioned as a "hearing officer." I had no real defense and just basically pled poverty. The hearing officer was nice, said he had discretion and dismissed the ticket. Then after we went "off the record," he said "so few people bother to fight these no one really cares what I do" and then mentioned that they make him block the day for these hearings but no one shows up most of the time, so we just chatted about how my school was going and stuff for like 20 more minutes. Super nice guy, luck of the draw I guess.

      I don't think he'd have done that if I'd shown up with a lawyer who he would've known cost more than the ticket itself. Sometimes you really are better off representing yourself, if you can manage to just not be an ass. Or maybe you get lucky and the witness doesn't show or something.

  14. Cleveland State University's Cleveland-Marshall College of Law has been found to be out of compliance with an ABA accreditation standard focused on program resources.

    1. In other words, it is dangerously short of money.