Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Third Depression

I'm not sure how many of your caught this fascinating article by Paul Krugman about the third depression, in light of the G20 meetings of this past weekend.  It's not looking good, he says, and I would have to agree.
We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense.
There's good reason for that.  The leadership of the world has become overly concerned with inflation when the true fear should be deflation.  Every time the Federal Reserve meets to set the interest rates, I pray that they will increase interest, which will cause more people to save.  Instead, they are slashing it to record lows.
In 2008 and 2009, it seemed as if we might have learned from history. Unlike their predecessors, who raised interest rates in the face of financial crisis, the current leaders of the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank slashed rates and moved to support credit markets. Unlike governments of the past, which tried to balance budgets in the face of a plunging economy, today’s governments allowed deficits to rise. And better policies helped the world avoid complete collapse: the recession brought on by the financial crisis arguably ended last summer. 
Once again, I call on King Clinton to save us from the our deficit.  Why do we learn about history only to shun its lessons when we need them?
Why the wrong turn in policy? The hard-liners often invoke the troubles facing Greece and other nations around the edges of Europe to justify their actions. And it’s true that bond investors have turned on governments with intractable deficits. But there is no evidence that short-run fiscal austerity in the face of a depressed economy reassures investors. On the contrary: Greece has agreed to harsh austerity, only to find its risk spreads growing ever wider; Ireland has imposed savage cuts in public spending, only to be treated by the markets as a worse risk than Spain, which has been far more reluctant to take the hard-liners’ medicine.
In short, yesterday's dip in the stock market--to below 10,000--will not likely be the last.  Nor will it be the lowest dip before this recession/depression is over.  And what does that mean to you?
And who will pay the price for this triumph of orthodoxy? The answer is, tens of millions of unemployed workers, many of whom will go jobless for years, and some of whom will never work again.
And this is true of everyone, not just lawyers.  So, put on your thinking cap and come up with a long term plan.  It seems that we will all be needing one.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Leaving the Country Is Not a Desperate Act

I wanted to thank Angry Future Expat for playing Ann Landers to a BIDER reader (we'll call this person B.R.) who needed some advice on their loans and job prospects overseas. I sent the reader a response of my own in a private email, but I thought Angry Future Expat would have a better answer (he did) in response to the worst case scenario for not paying off private loans. I recommend stopping by and reading B.R.'s letter and AFEP's response.

AFEP is absolutely correct in that leaving the country is not a desperate act, but a smart one and, as AFEP said, " a profound and powerful act of civil disobedience". It is more than okay to feel angry about your current situation whether you are an unemployed recent graduate, a person laid off after years of loyalty and hard work to your former employer, someone drowning in student loan debt because you thought an education would open doors to something better than a minimum wage job, or the millions of people who are currently unemployed or losing business because of a man-made disaster like the Gulf Oil Spill. You have every right to not follow the status quo, say enough is enough, and just leave the abuse that our current system has inflicted upon you.

If B.R. decides to stay, at least understand and accept that your situation will likely not improve within the next decade. It is not due to any fault of your own, but because we are only at the beginning of a very long great depression and no one in the upper echelons of power cares about you or me to change the system that made them incredibly wealthy. Holding out hope for non-existent jobs or any loan forgiveness or economic assistance from corporatist-runned higher education system and government would be foolish. By reading our blogs and writing to me and AFEP that you aren't going to sit by another year unemployed after working your butt off for your BA and JD, you are doing something courageous. Something that most people in your situation havn't even considered. You are taking charge of your life and taking it wherever in the world you can find a livable wage, a lower cost of living, possibly a national health care system, and an escape from your own self-destruction forced upon you by people and corporations that could give a damn what happens to your life as long as your continue to benefit its coffers.

I came across a magnificent and profound piece of writing by blogger Arthur Silber. His post, appropriately titled "Memo to the Victims: You Yourselves Will Pay for the Crimes of the Ruling Class", mainly addresses the Gulf Coast oil spill victims, but I think it applies to every single one of us. Especially for the scambloggers who have been met with some derision and scorn. As long as the ridicule and criticism comes from the powers that be and their apologists who make their six or seven-figure salary off the backs of millions of unsuspecting young people, we're doing something right. I've quoted much of Silber's post below, but I recommend reading the entire thing and forwarding it to anyone you know who has been affected by the Gulf oil spill, which is pretty much all of us. Ask yourself if this is the way you want to live and if not what are you going to do about it to break the goddamned rules, as Silber says. Only your life and happiness are at stake.

As more and more people are now acknowledging -- and I think they are entirely correct and, if anything, still underestimating what will be the ultimate costs of this calamity -- the damage caused by the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico will most likely be felt for several decades at least. The economic costs forbid accurate projection at this point; that might not be an altogether regrettable result, for a fuller version of the truth might well be so horrifying that it would induce paralysis of both thought and action. The human costs -- the livelihoods destroyed, the families subjected to unendurable stress and most probably similarly destroyed in very large numbers, the hopes and dreams put on indefinite hold, only to be surrendered in their totality in time -- prohibit contemplation.

One aspect of the profoundly evil system that has been destroying us for over a hundred years -- and make no mistake, it is deeply evil in design, intent and effect, if by evil we designate those actions which destroy the very possibility of thriving life -- is especially awful. The authoritarian-corporatist-militarist system victimizes untold millions of individual human beings, as well as many other forms of life as we see again today, both here and abroad. That would be a momentous evil in itself, but this particular evil is unsatisfied with only this first form of destruction.

Thus, the victims are targeted a second time, and they are forced to become collaborators in their own destruction. It is crucial to understand that these two forms of destruction are not separate manifestations of separate evils. They are the consequences of the same evil, and the two forms of lingering torture and death (psychologically at a minimum, and frequently existentially as well) are part of one overall design. I've discussed certain cultural-psychological manifestations of this dynamic in a number of essays. For an introduction to this analytic approach, I would recommend one article in particular: "Let the Victims Speak." As I stated at the outset of that essay, the nature and operation of this dynamic are very complex; it took me a few decades to appreciate its character. If the subject interests you, I therefore suggest a reading of the earlier article in its entirety.
You may be grievously harmed and even permanently damaged by the actions of those who hold unanswerable power -- but you may only speak about this evil and its effects within the very narrow limits set by those who would destroy you. If you are killed, the identical prohibitions apply to those who still manage to survive and who would protest the unforgivable crime committed against you. In this manner, the complacency and comfort of those who possess immense power and wealth are underwritten by the silence forced upon their victims. The victims may speak and even protest, but only within severely circumscribed limits, and only so long as their rulers are not made to feel too uncomfortable, or too guilty. Anything which approaches too close to the truth is strictly forbidden.

This is the system of government carefully erected and fortified in the United States over the last century. In the last several decades, it has been made impregnable and unassailable. If you tell the full truth or even approach it, you are consigned to the void beyond the most distant borders of permissible debate.

I consider this only a start at the task of understanding this pattern and its operations; time and health permitting, I will address these complicated matters in more detail in the future. But I now want you to consider another aspect of this collaboration in their own destruction forced upon the victims.

The pattern is the same: the victims are forced to participate in their own destruction. If you participate in our authoritarian-corporatist-militarist system in any significant way, there is no way of escaping this dilemma. I repeat the point for emphasis: this is the way the system was designed. The events of the last decade in particular and the events of today -- the acceptance of torture as a "normal" method of state- and warcraft, endless criminal wars of aggression, genocide, the funneling of vast amounts of wealth from defenseless "ordinary" citizens to the already engorged ruling class, the destruction of the Gulf and a huge additional number of lives -- are not aberrations, the result of the system having gone awry. This is what the system is designed to do. Most people recoil from evil of this magnitude; they refuse to identify and accept the system for what it is. They still seek to "reform" or "save" it. In other words: they themselves seek rationalizations and justification for their continuing collaboration. The ruling class is many things: avaricious, consumed by lust for power and control, heedless and uncaring of the immense destruction they cause, provided the destruction never touches their lives. But the ruling class is emphatically not stupid. To state what would be painfully obvious, if only so many people were not so wedded to denial: they constitute the ruling class, and you do not. And they counted on your reluctance or outright refusal to identify their evil. They knew they could depend on your continued collaboration in your own drawn-out torture and death.

I'm forced to admit that, if one were to consider this system from the perspective of its greatest beneficiaries, it is a goddamned beautiful thing. It is elegant. The government takes gobs of money from taxpayers, it shovels huge amounts of that money to already enormously powerful companies, those companies then provide services essential to the government's unending campaigns of widespread destruction and death -- and in the necessary course of providing those services, the companies themselves commit numerous "egregious" and "willful" violations of health and safety requirements (all documented by Turse), and the companies thus inflict enormous suffering on some of the same taxpayers.

Then, in a display of our rulers' magnificently bountiful kindness and thoughtfulness, some of those injuries -- just some of them, for how can many of the victims ever be made close to whole again in any meaningful way? -- will be compensated, using a small portion of the huge wealth made possible by the taxpayers in the first instance.

As I say: elegant.

And this is merely one example, if an especially heinous one, from one industry. How many times in how many industries is this identical pattern repeated every single bloody and blood-filled day? Countless times, in countless industries.

This is what the system is designed to do. It does it with astonishing efficiency. Short of civil disobedience on a huge, unrelenting scale, that is, short of widespread, unceasing non-cooperation, the system will continue for the foreseeable future, probably in roughly its current form for the rest of your life. There is no sign that non-cooperation on the required scale will occur or is even being contemplated, except by a few outliers like me. And, possibly, like a few of you.

So what are you going to do? Scream at the injustice? Yell about the monstrous evil being committed every hour of every day? Write another blog post? I do not exempt myself from the all-encompassing irony which now consumes us, amidst the rising torrent of blood.

But: Withdraw your support, if you choose to. Disobey. Break the goddamned rules. Do not cooperate. If a sufficient number of people chose that course, change might begin.

Consider it. I suppose not all that much is at stake -- only your soul, and your happiness.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Loan Company Worse Than Sallie Mae

Unless you have good health insurance, a huge life insurance policy, and live like Bubble Boy, do not allow your parents to co-sign your NJ Class loans because they will be left with your debt if you meet an untimely death. This is what happened to a New Jersey couple after losing their only child in a tragic car accident.
Grande graduated in 2007, briefly took jobs coaching baseball at Southern Regional and substituting as a teacher for special needs students, and then moved to Florida for an internship at a brokerage, paying off some of his college debt as he went along.

Two weeks before he was scheduled to take his Series 7 exam to become a stockbroker, he hit the back of a truck.

His parents said police haven't figured out what happened that night; they said toxicology reports came back negative. But they were left to pick up the pieces. Among them: What to do about the thousands of dollars in college loans that their son now can't repay.
Their son owed more than $81,000 in student loans from NJ Class, the state's college loan program. Like the snakes that they are, NJ Class sent the devastated parents a notice less than a year after their sons death stating, "We sympathize with you, but you co-signed for it. Our bondholders want their money." Even the devils at Sallie Mae waived Grande's federal loan debt after being sent a copy of his death certificate. But the monthly $685 bill from the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority kept coming.
"Although we are sympathetic to the difficult circumstances involved, under the terms of the bond indentures that finance the NJ Class loan program, HESAA is not permitted to forgive student loans as a result of the death of a borrower since the repayment of the NJ Class loans financed through the bond issues is how the debt service on these bonds is paid," said AnnMarie Bouse, a spokeswoman for the authority.
Yes, student loans will haunt many of you for your entire life and your loved ones after you die. If you don't want to take this huge burden with you to your grave and risk passing this financial nightmare to your parents or spouse, do not take out these huge loans to get a worthless degree. I don't care what the mainstream media, Yahoo HotJobs, President Obama, or anyone else tells you about higher education. Nothing is worth gambling your life and family on a degree that doesn't guarantee a job and a wage big enough to pay off loans, some of which aren't even dischargeable in death.

Over the weekend in France, young people protested against raising the retirement age. Why can't young people in the U.S. get as angry about their generation owing hundreds of thousands in student debt or these state college loan programs making parents of deceased borrowers pay off these loans or not honoring contract promises to students? Have we become so demoralized, apathetic, and complacent that we can't demand more protection from the corporations who run our country and even our higher education system? When will more Americans say enough is enough?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Another Toilet to Add to Nando's Collection: Phoenix School of Law

Another month, another ABA accreditation. Let's face it: law school no longer has any value now that anyone with the money to invest in a building and a law library to entice a few hundred lemmings from the local for-profit school can call itself ABA accredited. The Phoenix School of Law was just accredited on June 11th:
The Phoenix School of Law has announced today that it has received full accreditation from the American Bar Association (ABA). The Law School, which received ABA provisional accreditation in June 2007, is only the fourth for-profit law school in the country to be granted full accreditation and in the shortest time frame possible – less than six years.

The press release goes on to name the other two accredited toilet schools that Phoenix School of Law will join in Arizona:

There are only three fully accredited law schools in Arizona: Phoenix School of Law, the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona. PSL is Arizona’s only stand-alone law school – not affiliated with a university.

How did PSL become accredited? One reason, according to PSL propaganda, is the school has the highest Bar Exam passage rates in Arizona. I checked online and apparently PSL's bar passage rate for first timers is 83.3%.

The Phoenix School of Law demonstrated high benchmarks to win the approval of the ABA’s Accreditation Council, including achieving the highest Bar Exam passage rates in the State for February’s exam; a career placement rate of 97% within nine months of graduation; and receiving the Law School Admissions Council’s “2010 Diversity Matters Award” for its efforts to attract students from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in the legal profession.

However, in this Phoenix School of Law Official ABA Data document (PDF File), the numbers are even more far-fetched. The document states that 96.88% of Phoenix graduates pass the bar on the first try and that 88.2% find employment after 9 months -- 60% with law firms!

How much does this newly accredited law school cost?

Fall 10 - Spring 11 academic year, the ESTIMATED COA for Financial Aid purposes ONLY is as follows:

Full Time (13-16 credit hours each semester) Fall and Spring total

  • Tuition: $34,396
  • General Fee: $1,570
  • SBA Dues: $70
  • Books: $2,184
  • Room and Board: $12,316
  • Transportation: $4,116
  • Personal/Misc: $7,664
  • TOTAL: $62,316

Part Time (7-12 credit hours each semester) Fall and Spring total

  • Tuition: $27,516
  • General Fee: $1,570
  • SBA Dues: $70
  • Books: $1,300
  • Room and Board: $12,316
  • Transportation: $4,116
  • Personal/Misc: $7,664
  • TOTAL: $54,552

Anyone gullible enough to believe the official ABA data will also believe that attending Phoenix is worth spending a grand total of $186,948. Luckily, if you are reading this and other scam bloggers on a regular basis, you are smart enough to realize that the ABA data and The Phoenix School of Law statistics are make-believe and that taking out $190,000 in student loans to attend ANY law school right now is absolute self-destruction. Putting an ABA accreditation on a toilet is like putting lipstick on a pig -- it's still a pig --and Phoenix is still a toilet.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Canary in the Legal Coal Mine: T14 Temp Jobs in India

Slave work in Mumbai: Cotton gin worker or Michigan Law graduate in the depths of an Indian doc review basement?

Can't say I'm surprised! I've been telling BIDER readers for months to consider non-legal employment outside of the U.S. if they want any chance of finding a full-time job with health care and to be free of student loan debt. Looks like the T14 schools are jumping on the same idea with a different twist. While I've promoted fleeing the country as a new adventure that could lead to happiness outside of the legal field, law schools are trying to sell the idea of document review in India as a great international opportunity to their students! I don't think this is the type of work aspiring international lawyers were thinking of when they decided to attend Michigan Law School. You can't make this stuff up. Above the Law has the story:

Michigan Law Schoolthe 9th best law school in America — is now posting job opportunities from India.

Has it really gotten bad enough that graduates from a top law school should consider international LPO opportunities? Yes, yes it has…

The job is for Pangea3, one of the largest legal outsourcing companies on the market. Look at how they try to spin the “opportunity” for a bunch of Michigan students:

Role: Legal Research – Associate.
Designation: Associate.
Department: Litigation.
Reports to: Sr. Manager – Litigation.

Job Description: Pangea3 is looking for a recent law school graduate who’s looking for an alternative to the law firm route. The position will offer a U.S. attorney the opportunity to gain a global perspective on the legal services industry by joining a cutting-edge, dynamic, and fast-growing industry in an exciting, rapidly changing part of the world…

The Associate will be based in our state-of-the- art, ISO-certified facility in Mumbai, India. Candidate Profile: Recent Law graduates; Remuneration: Compensation includes competitive benefits and bonus.

There it is, folks. A Top 10 school shilling for a legal sweatshop in India. Maybe T14 grads will become the 21st century version of slave masters of the outsourced legal sweatshops. If this isn't the canary in the coal mine for OL lemmings, I don't know what else will convince them that law school is a bad investment.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Another unpaid legal internship in NYC

Come one, come all. You DO NOT want to pass up on the chance to work at an unpaid internship that could possibly lead to paid full time work for the right candidates.

LEGAL INTERNS NEEDED (Financial District)

Date: 2010-06-23, 4:44PM EDT
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]

Successful Manhattan Boutique Law Firm practicing in Criminal Defense and Immigration Litigation seeks several Legal Interns to assist its Attorneys and Administrative Staff. Although this is an Unpaid Internship for training purposes only, it can definitely lead to paid full time employment very quickly for the right candidates.
  • This is a part-time job.
  • This is an internship job

Here at BIDER, we teach our readers that if a law firm is unwilling to pay their interns, it is very likely that they are too cheap or do not have the money to take on a full-time associate. The reader who sent me this ad wisely remarked that if the firm has the money to pay people "very quickly" after starting this unpaid internship, and they've got the pick of thousands of lawyers with a ton of experience and hundreds more unemployed law students, why don't they just HIRE someone?! In this economy, it is not difficult to pick a good candidate when even document review requires 1-3 years of experience. These firms are clearly taking advantage of the imploding legal market and have no intention of paying anyone a decent full time salary anytime soon. Have fun working for free in Manhattan after investing $150k and three years for a JD!

CoverGirl Smoky Eye Look and $20 Walmart GC Giveaway! (CLOSED)

UPDATE: Congratulations to MissJD2! Your gift card is on its way!

This review and giveaway opportunity was especially fun for me. I was due for a new look and pick-me-up when I received CoverGirl Smoky Eye Look kits in the mail thanks to MyBlogSpark and CoverGirl. I’ve always been a fan of CoverGirl because it is a well known brand that is affordable and high quality. You might have seen an advertisement online, on the television, or in a magazine for their new Smoky Eye Look kits featuring the lovely Drew Barrymore.

There are 3 Smoky Eye Look kits – Natural Look, Bold Look and Glam Look. Three different looks for any time of the day or night! Each kit contains SmokyShadowBlast, Exact Liquid Line, and LashBlast Mascara. Celebrity CoverGirl Makeup Master Molly Stern will show you how to create the perfect Smoky Eye with simple instructions anyone can follow. I’m not a makeup expert, but I found the instructions very easy and was successful in creating my own CoverGirl smoky eye look! I was happy to try all three and I think they go great with any skin color. My favorite is the Natural Look kit because I always like a soft look that can be worn day or night and in any setting without looking over the top. But I would definitely wear the Bold Look or Glam Look for a night on the town or to a party when I want a sultrier look.

Find out LOTS more, watch videos, hear what others have to say and share your Smoky Eye Look at and at

$20 Walmart Gift Card Giveaway! BIDER readers have the chance to try these SmokyEye kits with a $20 gift card to Walmart! Get an entry by visiting and commenting with which Smoky Eye Look kit is your favorite or which kit you’d like to try. Get an extra entry if you follow our blog. Once you’ve subscribed, or if you do already, leave a separate comment saying you have or do subscribe.That’s it!

The giveaway ends July 4, 2010 at midnight EST. I will randomly choose a winner and they will be notified by email so be sure to leave a valid email address!

And a big thank you to MyBlogSpark for sending me three smoky eye kits to review, a makeup artist director's chair, makeup bag, and the $20 Walmart gift card to giveaway!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Albie from Housewives of New Jersey Flunks Out of Fordham (or is it Seton Hall)!

He should consider himself lucky and continue with his plans of opening a striptease car wash.

Big Law Associates Deferred, but Getting Air Time.

Worth listening to.  

Compare and contrast that with this article, entitled "Law Firms Express ‘Growing Enthusiasm’ for Contract Lawyers."  In this article, it states:

This year, 10 percent of the firms plan to cut associates, 38 percent plan to reduce or discontinue hiring first-year associates, and 54 percent plan to shrink their summer programs.
At the same time, law firms are instead expressing a “growing enthusiasm” for a staffing alternative—contract lawyers, according to an Altman Weil press release. Last year, 39 percent of the law firms used contract lawyers. This year, 53 percent will or might do so, while 52 percent expect that contract lawyers will become a permanent part of their staffing plans.
Yes.  The connection is clear as June 21st is long.  Law Firms are capsizing and/or imploding.  The lawyers of today will be contract attorneys, working for 70 hours a week and no benefits.  I laugh when I hear young lemmings talk about the economy improving and how jobs will be available once that happens. It won't happen.  Law firms are on a permanent trek to finding a cheaper way to provide legal services and contract attorneys are the glaringly obvious solution.  And the contract attorneys of yesteryear, TTT and TT graduates, will be pushed out in favor of T14 contract attorneys.  If anyone from the ABA is reading this blog, I implore you to do something about this.  Our industry is sinking fast.  Does someone in the basement of BigLaw need to go postal on a firm to get the ABA to stop accrediting law schools?   They should be taking accreditation away from TTT sewer schools.  With every unemployed graduate put out in the market, the value of our work decreases to pennies on the dollar.  The ABA has the power to stop this madness.  UGH. I can't handle this type of news anymore.

Happy Tuesday. Disses Unemployed JDs

I noticed some traffic coming from this website, and we have a less than sympathetic reader:
Nonetheless, I wasn’t quite aware of how bad things were “out there” until I happened upon a bunch of blogs written by out-of-work JD’s who are facing a mountain of debt, zero job prospects, and no way out except for leaving the country for good.  Here’s but a small sampling: Exposing the Law School Scam, But I Did Everything Right, Jobless Juris Doctor, Children of Debt, and others.  Granted, many of these blogs and their commentators have the whiny tone of those who feel entitled to something more, something better, than they got as the economy cratered.  Maybe some of them were bamboozled by the legal-industrial complex, and deserve everything they get.  I find it somewhat difficult to summon up a lot of outrage and sympathy on behalf of these unemployed lawyers, given that I’m still carrying six-figure debt from my stint at law school.
I wonder why he doesn't feel outraged when he's a victim as well.  Sounds like someone's politics are getting ahead of his financial status.  My brother suffers from this as well.  When you speak to him about the plight of the poor in this country, he sounds like a millionaire, but he is no where near a millionaire.  You have to reach a certain tax bracket before saying things like "they deserve everything they get."

He continues with the following:
The unemployed JD’s (and others who have made poor choices and taken on massive education debt on the promise that education leads to higher incomes) would love to strategically default on their debt.  Actually, they’d love to default, period, on their debt and start over.  Unfortunately for them, that is not possible.  Student loans, you see, are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.  The only option for someone unemployed, but carrying massive educational debt, is to flee the United States. 
Ironic, isn't it?  We're the ones that made poor choices, but he has more debt than I do. I don't have that much debt because I went to law school on scholarships, but I still resent every penny that I pay and because of when I graduated, the interest is usurious.  Does that mean that I made a poor decision, or I graduated at the wrong time?

But I do agree with his general point, which is:
I believe conservatives (and by extension Republicans) should take the position that what is needed is not moralizing to debtors (no matter how stupid their individual decisions may have been), but restoring the bankruptcy code to its original intent: providing a fresh start for individuals and companies. 
He seems to admire our zeal though:
The passion amongst this generation about the education bubble is intense, judging by the blogs and comments of the unemployed JD’s (and these are supposedly among the more successful of the Millenials, given that they finished college, studied enough to get into law school, then graduated with law degrees).

We are passionate about the education bubble. Instead of dogging us, you should join us.  No need for criticism.  But I'm not upset. Every article posted that features our blog, will spread the word that an education should be affordable or at least somewhat reflect your actual income when you graduate.  Oh yah, you deserve your debt as well, TheSophist.  But I hope you will be able to discharge it one day, if that serves you well.  Thanks for the publicity.  

Monday, June 21, 2010

Call Her Now, Bears!

Kate McCann has left a new comment on your post "Frontline Exposes For-Profit College Scam":


If any readers of this blog attended a for-profit college in the Chicago area and our willing to be quoted in a newspaper article, please give me a call. I have plenty of interviews with CEOS of these schools, but no actual students.

Kate McCann
Education Reporter
The SouthtownStar
P:(708) 633-5960
F:(708) 633-5999 

Even the Europeans Think Our Education System is on the Brink of Disaster!


I was perusing the BBC and saw this article.  It doesn't discuss law school but does a good job of identifying the huge surge in university attendance while presenting the staggering cost.  I think it would have been better if it then touched on the need for advanced degrees, adding yet another staggering cost in the baseline expenditure for a (maybe) useful degree. The best part about this is that it is international in scope and will reach a much larger European audience, where university education is much more subsidized!

It is just shocking.  I have never commented here but follow all the law school scamblogs almost religiously.  I have good grades and am prepping for the LSAT now.  I haven't made a decision but if I score below 175, I won't go.  It means that my chance at getting in a top 5 is a stretch and precludes me from any opportunity at getting any subsidy.

Thank you for your work, I hope to contribute more in the future.  Just today I was talking to a customer in the bar I work at who was waiting to hear back from the UVA waitlist for the law program.  I told him all about scambloggers and wrote the names on a card for him to look up.  He had not a thought in his head that the schools might be misrepresenting the figures.  I told him everything I could and told him to seriously research the job prospects and to contact UVA and ask them to break down all of the statistics for him.  He thanked me and gave me a huge tip (which was nice), plus he was super cute...ha!

Anyways, check out the article and keep fighting the good fight!


I did check out the article and it seems the Europeans are onto the education scam. It is ridiculous that we send our kids to school for $200K, and even more so when the kids go on borrowed money.  Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I have always loved the BBC as a source for news.  They aren't owned by Turner.  I hate Turner.  That's another story for another day though.  Thanks again.  Also, I second your idea about 175 or bust.  Sounds like a plan.  Good luck!

The Ceiling is Dropping: Deferred BigLaw Associates Offered Discovery Positions!?

What ever happened to those hundreds, perhaps thousands, of deferred associates from 2009?  Are they all gainfully employed at this point?  Does anyone care?  Well, we should.  The final outcome for the industry's best and brightest is a good measure of the health of the legal industry as a whole.  McDermott Will & Emery  "extended offers to 54 members of the class; of those, 37 first years started last fall; 17 were deferred or seconded to clients; and 3 offers were rescinded."  But those 3 weren't rescinded altogether. Instead, they were offered positions as discovery attorneys (or permanent contract attorneys) at a rate of $77,500 plus bonuses and benefits.  Yes, I realize that this is a sweet deal for most of our readers.  But, this is not what these elite associates signed up. I can only guess, but I'm assuming that these associates were T14 and law review, moot court, etc.  There is no hope for partnership in this new fangled position as a "discovery" attorney.  Also, since they will only be dealing with discovery, there is little chance that they will gain enough experience in any field of substantive law to become an associate at another firm.  And partnership, forget it!  It's not option.

To be fair, McDermott Will has been perfectly open that it has two classes of associates. In 2007 it created a staff attorney track, according to The Recorder:
The idea is that the new hires--the firm is looking into starting with a pilot group of 15--will be lawyers 'with good pedigrees' who have practiced for a few years but don't want to deal with big-firm hours, said McDermott Will partner Robert Mallory said. Instead, they'll put in more like 30 to 40 hours and be paid something like 25 percent less, though an exact pay range hasn't been decided.
At that time, Mallory explained that economics was behind the decision: "In a market where high compensation for lateral partners, lateral associates, and associates [is] creating pressures, we're trying to bring the best-quality service at the lowest price to our clients."
Okay, so let's recap.  These non-partnership positions have been available to many lawyers in the past--not only at McDermott.  But these were positions that were easily attainable by T50 graduates.  Now that associates at BigLaw are being put on non-partnership tracks, you don't need a T50 for a non-partnership track attorney.  You can get a Stanford, Yale, Georgetown graduate to do the very same thing--forcing scores of T50 into the market with TT and TTT and TTTT schools.  So, you can see the impact of this type of move now?   The market for everyday normal attorneys is being inundated by the scores of graduates coming in from the bottom (40K+ annually) and then from the T14 at the top.  So, you should care about the deferred associates from the class of 2009, chances are you'll be seeing them in jobs that you could have gotten in 2008, before the meltdown.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Attention All Michigan Higher Education Student Loan Authority (MHELSA) Borrowers!

A BIDER reader has sent me information about Michigan Higher Education Student Loan Authority (MHELSA) ending a borrower benefit program that guaranteed a 0% interest rate. Our source wrote a very detailed letter which explains how MHELSA dangled this carrot to entice students to take out these loans only to take away the offer, their excuse being that there isn't sufficient funding. Bullsh*t.

I've uploaded a copy of the letter our source received and the Q & A PDF from MHELSA's website. On page 2, under "Michigan Students First", it refers to the benefit program, i.e., the 0% interest incentive. Another lesson for those attending school in the fall that you cannot trust these lenders, even if they promise you a low interest rate in your contract.

Hi Hardknocks,

You know, you start to get the sense that someone flushed the toilet when they really shouldn't have. We're circling the drain.

I have attached a letter I received today from one of my lenders. Here are the basics:

One of my federal lenders in Michigan offered a borrower benefit program by which you could obtain a 0% interest rate if you made so many payments on time and signed up for direct withdrawal from your checking account. It was a reason why I decided to go with this particular lender. It was even recommended to me. At the time, in 2003, of course, these banks were doing everything they could to get student business, and for these guys, this was part of their pitch. And, to be sure, the prospect of 0% interest is a great pitch. But, today's letter says in part:

Originally, announced in 2002, this subsidy known as a 'borrower benefit' was achieved by meeting certain payment conditions. Under the program, MHESLA's ability to offer the borrower benefits was contingent upon sufficient funding. MHESLA obtains the funds to make or acquire student loans by borrowing money through bond issuances. The borrower benefits programs began at a time when it was less costly for MHESLA to borrow and excess interest earnings were available. Recently though, the severe and ongoing credit crisis has forced MHESLA to pay more in interest costs for its funds. Changes in federal laws, including the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, have also resulted in a decrease in MHESLA's available funding for borrower benefits programs.

Basically, they're exercising their opt-out on one of the carrots they dangled in front of us to get us to sign up with them. Now, I get the concept of opt-out provisions, but this smacks of over-reaching. It's absolutely infuriating that credit cards do this kind of shit. But, really, that's way more arms-length than student lending is. You can discharge credit card debt in bankruptcy, and so, there is some risk for the lender there. When you're bending over backwards to get students to sign up with you, though, these kinds of illusory promises (That's exactly what it is here.) are wholly abusive. There is absolutely no risk for the lender here. If you had to justify not being able to discharge student loans in bankruptcy, the lender, of course, would argue that almost any college or graduate student in need of a loan could not be offered one if it decisions were made on the basis of credit-worthiness. They're unsecured debt! That may or may not be true, of course, because the lenders would seem to be adequately protected by either the government guarantee or the inability to discharge the debt in bankruptcy. They don't really need both, though they want them; but I digress again.

Anyway, I completely disagree with the kind of practice used here. It's not appropriate for student loans. Not even close to appropriate. As far as I was concerned, this was a right I had under the agreement, and, if they want to end the program going forward, that's fine. But that should apply to new loans, and not to existing promises they've already made. How is the cost for funds to run the program my problem? Other than the abusive practices and contract language (which you know was going to be nearly uniform across the industry), why are their profits my concern? The fact is, if you wanted to go to law school, you most likely needed a loan. All the lenders used the same language, or close to it, and the only difference was in the "benefits" they offered and MARKETED to students so that they could get their dirty little hands on federal dollars. Now, it turns out the promises were illusory. The contract is changed, and what they once did discreetly, they're now doing openly: making profits off vulnerable students backs.

I'm either going to try to consolidate them and do Income Based Repayment and/or default on them, so, there's not much point. My objection has to do with the fact that as a student you never really deal with these people, and it's not an arms-length transaction by any stretch of the imagination, especially when you consider the percentage of students who have to take loans to attend law school. All you have, really, is your school's financial aid officers, their recommendations, and the material they produce that lists advantages of certain lenders and the disadvantages of others. If anyone claims that these law school administrators sat them down and set out - in specific detail - the benefits the borrowers can take advantage of against the things the lender was irrevocably promising to provide them, then they're lying. It is redeeming that MHESLA is not ending the program for those who made the requisite number of payments before they ended it, but they sure as shit got my business as a direct result of offering a program whereby the interest fell to 0% if you paid on-time for three years. That's a great incentive, and to rip it out from under us years after the loan was made is pretty under-handed.



Friday, June 18, 2010

Temporary Jobs, Document Review and a Decent Rate.

Any contract attorney will tell you about the glory days of yesteryear, when food was on the client, car service drove you home and rates were $45/hour plus time and half for OT.  After the crash, rates dropped into the teens, you could walk your butt home and OT was impossible to come by. In fact, your hours were capped at 40.  So, now rates are hovering between 25 and 32, with all sorts of caveats like "big firm experience" and experience in patent litigation.  Temp agencies, and Big Law through them, has their picks of the best, brightest and most experienced to conduct temporary document review projects at bargain basement prices.  It's obviously Big Law's way of getting the associates that used to work for them prior to being laid off, for less than $30/hour.  It's a great deal for the legal industry, and a shitty deal for the associates that are now doing mind numbing document review in the basements of large law firms in notoriously hazardous conditions, shoulder to shoulder with other contract attorneys who are likewise numb to the world.  But at least it doesn't require effort, which is freeing.
So, a BIDER tipster sent in this email, from a temp agency in New York that seemed promising based on the subject line: New Short Term Project - 35/hr.  So, at first, I'm thinking--what's the big deal?  That's actually an improvement over rates that I've seen, heard and read about. But then I continued to read on... and WHOA.  Mind you, this email was sent to contract attorneys in New York:

Let me know if you would be interested in this new project.   Please read below. 
Four attorneys needed for approximately two weeks to handle intake matters with the firm's clients. Hands on experience in family law, general litigation matters, immigration and criminal law needed.  Attorneys need to be members of the state bar association in good standing in either California, Florida, Ilinois or Washington.
Responsibilities include consulting with the clients on the phone (from one of the states above), generate a memo and perform initial file management and communication/coordination with the firms managing partners in the respective states.
Pay rate approximately $35 hrly. depending on experience.
Does this strike anyone else as slightly odd?  This sounds pretty substantive, as well as specific as hell as to what your qualifications need to be.  Bizarre to be asking a bunch of New York attorneys to be barred in random other states.  And what do you get if you're this rare needle in a haystack with the perfect combo of being barred in Illinois, living in New York, with experience in immigration and criminal law?  You get to be paid a mere $35/hour (or maybe less) to do real work, i.e. speaking to clients?!  Looks like a law firm should be hiring an associate, rather than hiring a temporary contract attorney.  But the free market dictates that contract attorneys are cheaper to hire, so why hire a permanent attorney?  Well, I have many friends that are contract attorneys and they are very professional, but there are plenty of walking disasters masquerading as contract attorneys out there.  I hope the living incarnation of PigPen from Snoopy comes walking into this firm, so they will rethink taking hiring contract attorneys over a permanent employee--from my fingertips to God's Ears.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bad Debt v. "Good" Debt?

A BIDER tipster sent me a funny story about debt.  The question addressed in this fluffy "news" article by Jeff Brown is "when is it okay to carry debt?"  It makes some good points:
Don't use an 18% credit card to fund a home addition that will take years to pay off. If you must borrow for that, take out a home-equity loan. The rate is likely to be half as much. Installment loans average about 8%, according to the BankingMyWay survey...

In a real emergency, you can justify almost anything. A legitimate emergency is a serious illness, or a car problem that will keep you from getting to work, a leaky roof that will ruin your home.
The need for a vacation is not an emergency. Basically, an emergency is something that will seriously undermine your life for years, not something that will put a little damper on your lifestyle.
Very good points, Jeff.  My parents raised me to think of credit card debt as evil.  Unfortunately, I didn't listen.  But my debt exists primarily because of my emergency situation, being laid off.  When you have to support yourself with credit card debt, is that a justifiable emergency?  But then Jeff totally loses me with this next line:
The best policy: borrow only for a home and an education, two purposes with benefits outweighing the costs. If necessary, borrow to get basic, essential transportation, not to get luxuries like leather seats and navigation systems. 
I bolded 'education' so you'd see that our message has not spread far enough.  There are so many contingencies that need to be mentioned before one makes a bold statement like 'borrow only for an education because the benefits outweigh the costs.'  It depends on where you go to school, how much of it is financed by your parents, whether you major in something worthwhile, etc., etc.  You cannot make an absolute statement about education being worth something.  Sometimes, it's utterly worthless.  Irresponsible journalism such as this fluff piece by Jeff Brown is responsible for many dumb 18 year olds  feeling safe about borrowing $25K to attend an expensive private school to major in Art History.  Where is the disconnect?  Sometimes, it is worth it not to get an education, so that working at the local Walgreens can sustain your lifestyle.  Sometimes that is the more intelligent choice.  When you have no debt, life is freeing.  You can work a job that actually sustains your lifestyle.
A home may be worthwhile, because you can live in and will always be able to live in it... and one day, you will own it free and clear.  But an education may make you overqualified and underpaid from the second you get your diploma.  It's almost as bad as the notoriously depreciating asset, the brand new car.

Try again, Jeff.  Most debt isn't "okay."  I wish I could get him to read our blog where thousands of educated people could tell him that he's wrong unless he qualifies his statement.  Oh yah, the federal deficit is wrong too.  I wish we could have crowned Clinton king.  Oh well...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Prof. Tamanaha and My Place in the Higher Education Scam Movement

Much has been said throughout the law blogosphere about Professor Brian Tamanaha's thoughts on the law school model and the "vulgar" law scam bloggers. I recommend taking the time to read all of the responses from Jobless Juris Doctor, Exposing the Law School Scam, Outside Lies Magic, and Shilling Me Softly under our blogroll. I especially recommend reading Jobless Juris Doctor's very powerful post, "Student's Pay So Professors Can Play", in response to Professor Tamanaha's admission that he is perfectly fine earning as much as he can with lots of time for research and conferences, even if those costs come from charging students with little job prospects hundreds of thousands of dollars. No mention of actual teaching said students, but never mind that. We all know a passion for teaching is not the main reason why law professors do what they do.

In doing so, Tamanaha recognizes himself and his colleagues on the side of the ruling class who have little to no concern about the masses that struggle to survive in order to make sure that they remain well fed. These accommodationists know they are part of an unjust system and, to his credit, Tamanaha is the first to acknowledge his role in it. The condescension dripping from his admission came at no surprise. This feeling is common for the elites when they are forced to admit that their riches come at the expense of destroying (or being part of a system that destroys) thousands of lives, both literally and figuratively.

Like the BP executives and their chairman who "wants his life back", they care enough about the "small people" to acknowledge that we exist, that they make lots and lots of money off of our existence, but that our lives aren't important enough for them to make any significant changes that could jeopardize putting even a dent into their wealth and fine living. Do I expect much to come from Tamanaha's admission? Not really. But it's a step in the right direction if we get more of the "serious people" talking about the problem, if only to give our blogs more traffic and make more people aware that we exist as a source of support and awareness for prospective law school students as well as unemployed graduates and attorneys.

This is why Angel and I continue BIDER. We aren't "vulgar" and we aren't "angry, unemployed graduates and bloggers trying to write their way out of debtor’s prison". Elie Mystal of all people should know this. He wrote a post in January admitting that he graduated from Harvard Law School with $150k in student debt:

I graduated law school in 2003, owing Harvard University just under $150,000. At the time, I had no idea what starting my professional career $150K in the hole would do to my life. I figured I’d work hard, make money, and pay my loans out of my general non-disposable income funds — kind of like my cable bill.

Seven years, two careers, numerous deferments and defaults, and one global economic meltdown later, I still owe a ton of money. Now, however, I pay it to various debt collection agencies and lawyers. When prospective landlords run a pro forma credit check on my application, they come back looking at me like I’ve been convicted of multiple war crimes. Every raise I’ll ever get will be eaten up by the collection agencies until sweet death allows me one everlasting and satisfying default. And, oh yeah, I don’t even want to practice law anymore — I quit my Biglaw job because, despite the debt, I really wanted to have a job that I enjoyed. So I essentially purchased a $150,000 disposable good. My time working in Biglaw was kind of like a very expensive vacation that I debt financed.

I mention all this because I am the cautionary tale prospective law students never want to think about. I mention all this because it is noble to crush false hope. I mention all this because there are way too many people poised to follow in my financially ruinous steps.

And isn't that what the scam bloggers have been doing all along for little or no compensation? Warning people each and everyday that law school and taking out $100K+ in student loans is a really bad idea, especially in a jobless era? So, it's only cool to leave the law profession entirely with $150k in debt if you attended a top law school. But if a similar fate befalls others, either willingly or unwillingly, we are angry bloggers trying to write our way out of debtor's prison? Sure, whatever.

Here is a little recap. Our regular readers know that I attended a T14 law school and Angel attended a top 30 law school. We have both interned or worked at NYC law firms. Angel was laid off from Biglaw. Maybe I wasn't smart enough to decide against law school, but I was smart enough to have most of my college education paid for with scholarships and financial aid. I owe less than $50k in private loans with low interest rates. I have been underemployed for most of 2009 and 2010 and have a non-law related, full-time job offer that starts in several months. Plenty of my friends and classmates from law school who graduated from both the bottom and top of their class are unemployed. In the end, it didn't matter that they went to Harvard undergrad or graduated magna cum laude from a prestigious T14, because they are still in the same horrible position as the rest of us. Go figure.

So sorry to disappoint the law school cartel and ATL who like to generalize all of the scam bloggers as bitter TTT losers, but a lot of us are quite accomplished, at least on paper. Which goes to show our readers that unemployment, underemployment, and life destroying debt can happen to anyone regardless of law school rank. Debt is debt regardless of who you are or where you went to school. It doesn't matter if you go to Harvard Law or Cooley Law, $150k in student debt will destroy your life unless you are one of the few graduates today who will go on to make Biglaw partner or become part of the law school scam. Don't want to hate your life at the expense of making a Biglaw salary? Then don't go to law school, even if it's a T14. You will never be able to pay off your debt otherwise.

This is why Angel and I continue to blog and maintain a place for the unemployed to vent their frustrations. Get used to us because we are making a positive difference and we expect to blog for a very long time considering that the economy is not expected to get back on track until at least 2015. There will be thousands more joining us in the coming years. At least we know we're on the right side of the fight.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How Would I Raise My Children Differently?

As you all know, and the New York Times has insightfully covered, the Road to Adulthood has grown longer than we could have ever imagined. Unlike our parents, many of us have not bought a home by the time we are 22. We are not usually married by the time we are 24. We are not usually established finished with school until we are 25. We are not usually established in our careers until we are into our 30s. So, we remain in this suspended adolescent state well into our 30s. As you know, your parent's income is figured into your FAFSA form until you are 26 and Obama just passed the Health Care legislation allowing you to remain on your parents insurance until you're 26 as well. Our parents were the alleged selfish yuppies of the 80s, but it is our generation that lives for "me first" until we have time to have children:
National surveys reveal that an overwhelming majority of Americans, including younger adults, agree that between 20 and 22, people should be finished with school, working and living on their own. But in practice many people in their 20s and early 30s have not yet reached these traditional milestones.
This article seems to put the onus of this transformation into lifestyle choices, but I think it's much deeper than that. My mother, the uneducated super business woman, always told me to focus on my education and my career. I didn't even consider settling down until I was 25. Now, nearly 10 years later, I find that I'm unable to. I don't think I could pay for daycare if I had to, and I certainly can't afford to stay home with a child. Who would pay my student loans? My credit card bills?
I'm not mad at my mother for telling me to focus on my career... that was her generation's ideal: the career woman. Now, many of my friends are looked down upon by their mothers for trying to be stay-at-home mothers. The latchkey kids of the nineties and eighties didn't like our childhoods and do not want the same for our children. If I could do it again, I would focus on having a family because my ovaries do not--unlike my brain--function better as I get older.
In the late 1990s, however, parents’ spending patterns began to shift so that the flow of money was greatest when their children were either very young or in their mid-20s.”
More people in their 20s are also living with their parents. About one-fourth of 25-year-old white men lived at home in 2007 — before the latest recession — compared with one-fifth in 2000 and less than one-eighth in 1970.
Well, maybe some of those kids decided to invest in their education to their detriment causing them to move back in with their parents or need their parents assistance to float their lives while they attempt to obtain gainful employment. Just a thought.
It's funny, I used to look down on my peers that decided to stop with just a college education or *GASP* high school. Ironically, all of my seemingly uneducated peers are financially so much better off than I am. I wish that this article would draw more of a connection between the false dreams afforded by a higher education and the financial impact that has made on our "young" people.
More schooling has meant that children have to rely on financial support from their parents. Adults between 18 and 34 received an average of $38,000 in cash and two years’ worth of full-time labor from their parents, or about 10 percent of their income, according to the MacArthur network.
So, I think that we need to do things differently with our children, should they ever materialize. I am planning on focusing my children on skills that they can use to sustain themselves instead of the frivolous pursuits of a higher education. If my child is dead set on studying french or English lit, I will suggest that they do so part-time while working full time in a trade of some sort. As it stands, with the financial set backs of my career--and there have been many--I will not have enough cash to take care of myself, let alone a child who is 34. Oh yah, I will also tell him/her to have babies when they are young. Before 30 for sure. It's not easy to get onto a soccer field in a wheel chair.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Update From a BIDER Reader...

Success!  She will be one, that is, since she decided not to go to law school.  You may remember, our anonymous reader whose mother was dead set on her attending law school.  I advised her against it and even explored some options with her on gchat.  She sent me an update:


I hope you are doing well.  I am writing to update because I sent you a letter you posted on your blog.  I asked for advice for dealing with my immigrant mother who desperately wanted me to go to law school.  After taking the LSAT and researching schools, I found the scam blogs and decided against law school.  Instead, I found a new job and I will start in a couple of weeks.  My new employer offers a higher salary than my old job, better benefits and will fully fund my education if I decide to pursue a degree at night.  I have a couple of friends taking the law school plunge this fall, but I am glad I will not be joining them.  They will leave jobs in order to pursue JD's at second tier schools in the hopes their career paths will be much betterafter obtaining a JD.  I sincerely hope it works out for them, but knowing that they're taking out 60k+ in loans at least within the next few years, I am not envious of their position.

In my previous e-mail I mentioned my cousin who just graduated from a third tier school and how my mother was convinced she would have a great career after graduation. My cousin is now working at a small law firm and only gets paid when there are cases for her to work on.  She goes weeks with any paychecks and has to quickly learn how to drum up business to stay afloat.  After learning about this situation my mother has quieted down a bit about my decision to skip law school.

I want to give a thank you to the scam bloggers for getting the word there.  I'm sure that pursuing a J.D. is a great thing for people who end up having great luck, but as for me, I consider myself lucky to have a job with a decent salary, minimal debt and the prospect of a free graduate degree if I decide to pursue one in the future.

Best of luck to you,


Best of luck to you BIDER reader.  You, unlike me, certainly did do everything right and I'm sure you will shine in your industry and rise to the top.  Maybe you should take me out to dinner when you're in my area, since I sure as hell can't afford to treat you!!!

How Much Are They Paying You, Dawn Connor?

I can only hope that the for-profit scam artists and their friends on Capitol Hill are paying you, Dawn Connor, or at least forgiving some of your student loans for shilling on their behalf. Either you will make millions continuing to lobby on the behalf of for-profit colleges, or you will be back in Eau Claire neutering cats and dogs for the rest of your life -- if you're lucky.

This makes my blood boil, but this looks like the few options for-profit graduates have these days. Either become part of the industry that scammed you, or end up thousands in debt with no job prospects.

A few months ago, Dawn Connor was just another college student, attending night courses to become a veterinary technician and practicing her trade by spaying and neutering dogs and cats from a local shelter.

These days, the 33-year-old from Eau Claire, Wis., is shaking hands on Capitol Hill and speaking at news conferences in Las Vegas, the new public face of the satisfied for-profit college student.

Standing closely behind her is the Career College Association, a lobbying group for for-profit schools that provided the organizational muscle to launch the grassroots-sounding Students for Academic Choice at a time when for-profit colleges are under fire.

The Career College Association helped the students establish a website, draft bylaws and set up an online election that resulted in Connor being elected the group's president — all at a time when for-profit colleges are intensifying lobbying efforts against tougher federal regulations expected to be proposed in the coming days.
Who is Dawn Connor? The article lists her "credentials" which include enrolling in three different nonprofit colleges without earning a single degree. She is the face of the for-profit industry because, really, what else would she have done to pay off her student loan debt without her new job rubbing elbows with politicians to make more money for the for-profit thieves?

Connor was a collegiate drifter. She said she graduated early from high school and enrolled at three different nonprofit colleges, changing majors a few times without earning a degree.

Then she found the Eau Claire campus of for-profit Globe University, which offered a flexible schedule that allowed her to attend class at night while she worked full-time in a health care job.

It wasn't cheap. Tuition to complete a two-year associate's degree in veterinary technology at Globe runs $44,820, and lab fees and books are extra. Connor said it cost her less because she had transfer credits.

Even so, she said the state-of-the-art surgical suites and small classes is worth the extra expense.

Connor seems to come off as the type of person who never should have went to college, would have been better off working for the last ten years instead of drifting from one crappy for-profit to the next, but continued to rack up student debt at any "college" that would take her in. She is the perfect example of why these nonprofit schools should be closed down and a warning to students like her. Do you want to be 33-years-old, still in school with no job skills, and owe thousands of dollars in student debt?

The article does not state how much student loan debt she owes. I wouldn't be surprised if she owes upwards of $100k after attending four different colleges before finding her calling as a for-profit shill for a so-called student organization that Lauren Asher of the Institute for College Access & Success calls "an industry-sponsored group".

Any last words, Ms. Connor?

Connor said lower tuition "would be great. In the real world, that would be great if we could lower the price for everything. But that's just not an option at this point in time. That's not the point we're trying to get to right now."
She is an idiot and a clueless hack, which makes her perfect for the for-profit industry in their propaganda. I suggest Connor to milk as much as possible from these thieves while she still can or convince her for-profit school to hire her as a spokesperson, because there is no way she will be able to survive in the "real world" as a 33-year-old with no work experience and a Global University associate's degree. Good luck paying off that $45,000 loan and whatever else you owe to those three other diploma mills.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Law School Propaganda Machine Speaks: Open Your Own Law Firm Right After Graduation!

In light of the many desperate and unemployed graduates, the Propaganda machine is promoting hope by insisting that lawyers can practice right out of law school. Yah, right. As all BIDER readers know, graduates know nothing of how to practice the law. If they endeavored to open their own firm, the firm would cease at the point where a client asked the new attorney to file an action for negligence or to submit an answer to a complaint. Countless court clerks would laugh in your face as you scramble and try to make deadlines with wholly insufficient paperwork and would guard the door to the file room with condescending comments like, "I didn't go to law school and I know how to practice law better than you do," or "how is it that you didn't know there are supposed to be one inch margins on this motion and it's supposed to be double spaced and no longer than 10 pages? Didn't you go to law school?" I didn't make these comments up. When I took my first job as an associate, I worked for a non-praciticing solo who hired associates to make ASSES of themselves trying to pursue client's legal rights. He gave no guidance whatsoever and and thousands of dollars were wasted on trial and error when we tried to submit pretty much anything with the clerks of court. I was told these very same lines, when I came down to the courthouse with legal paperwork I slaved over. It's brutal. I actually developed a phobia of law clerks, that haunts me until today. That's just one hurdle to practicing the law without any experience or guidance whatsoever.
Let's see what "advice" they give to new graduates (italics are mine):

  • For example, if you want to focus your firm around litigation, spend a few days at the local courthouse. Befriend the employees who work behind the counters along with other courthouse staff; they are usually glad to show a respectful young attorney how to properly fill out and file paperwork. In a few minutes they may show you more about how the court system works than you learned in your entire law school career. Not my experience at all. See above. High School and College educated clerks love to make lawyers feel like shit. It's the hi-light of their day. I would add to this bit of advice, and this made my practice easier as a woman, wear a short skirt and a low cut shirt when you go to the clerk's office. Make sure you wait in line until a male clerk is available. Flirt unabashedly so that he doesn't inspect your papers with a magnifying glass. Get your copy stamped and run.
  • If you would like to focus your new practice on transactional work, consider volunteering at a local bar association, which may train volunteer attorneys on certain matters in exchange for taking on a certain number of cases pro bono. Sure... I have yet to see this program. You will take pro bono cases that will engulf your life and you will not get paid for them. They won't be resolved for months, and maybe years. Be super sweet to your client, maybe they will refer their other brokester friends to you.
  • When speaking to opposing counsel, do not feel intimidated by the other lawyer's experience. If something feels out of place and the opposing counsel may be wrong, you must double check and say something. Be unfriendly to opposing counsel. That way, you can be short with conversations when you have no clue what you're talking about and that may give you time to run to the internet and see what you should say next. Don't cringe when they say, "Have you done this type of law before?" Whenever you think its appropriate, say that you're celebrating your thirtieth birthday that next court date, and would prefer a date later in the week.
  • Many established attorneys and larger firms routinely turn away clients that cannot afford their fees or matters that to them are small. You can call and befriend established practitioners and see if they can refer the smaller cases and potential clients that cannot afford their fees to you. As a new law firm, you will not have the overhead costs of larger firms and as a result can handle the matter for a smaller fee and still make a profit. See first bullet point. When you meet friendly lawyers from other firms that may or may not give you clients, call them and make a coffee date and dress the part. Flirt like crazy and give them a feeling that they will get some if they give you clients. Don't wear a wedding ring. You can go back to business as usual and mention your husband once they give you a client for which you have a signed retainer.
  • If you, as a newly minted law school graduate, have the right attitude, confidence and skills, and put in the amount of work necessary to succeed, you can achieve your goal of opening a law firm directly from law school. Bullshit.
So, that's my take on their advice. I will add to the above, that you had better get malpractice insurance because you're going to need it. Good luck!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bill Collector Threatens to Blow Up Man's House

Unbelievable. Calling everyday and making one's life a living hell is one thing, but threatening to kill someone and their family or damage their house definitely crosses the line. The man only owed $308.09 for a cell phone bill!! He had to move his entire family to another state because he feared the Verizon phone rep would actually harm his family.

A New Mexico couple has been living in fear ever since receiving a terrifying phone call.

"I'm going to blow your [expletive deleted] house up," said the caller.

The threatening call is allegedly from a debt collector calling about a $300 cell phone bill!

"It was scary, very scary," says Al Burrows.

Burrows and his wife Cheryl lived with their 8-year-old son in a beautiful apartment complex in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

"I found my dream spot," says Burrows, who admits he owed $308.09. "I intended to fully pay that bill," he says.

Burrows, who works as an airline reservations agent, says he had a lot of bills to pay that month so he contacted Verizon Wireless, and says they agreed to a payment plan. He thought the matter was settled.

"I thought I had 90 days to make this payment," he explains.

But two weeks later, Burrows says he received a call from a woman identifying herself as a Verizon representative.

"She said, 'I will harass your butt until this payment is paid today.' Of course I was all upset, I just yelled into phone, 'Who do you think you are? Don't you ever call my house again.' I hung up the phone," he says.

Later that day, when Burrows arrived at work, he checked his voicemail and heard the ominous message.

"I believed she was going to do something to hurt my family," he says.

Burrows worked the night shift, so he was worried about his wife and son being home alone. He says he looked around his house and even checked under his car for anything suspicious.

Burrows called Verizon, and he says he was shocked by their response.

Burrows tells INSIDE EDITION, "He said to me, 'You might as well tell me to turn on the TV, that aliens have landed if you expect me to believe a story like that.' "

But Burrows says he had the voicemail as proof.

He and his family found the incident so upsetting they moved over 500 miles away to Denver, Colorado. Attorney Jim Sherr is representing the family.

"Recording the conversation is evidence that you cannot dispute, it's there," says Sherr.

"This is the United States, we should feel safe and secure and not be threatened because of a little debt," Burrows says.

I can't wait to see what the debt collectors will do to the thousands of graduates who refuse or won't be able to pay their $200,000 student loan bill! This has got to stop.


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