Saturday, July 31, 2010

An Annual Ritual: Minnesota Lawyer Interviews Unemployed TTT Grads Before the Bar Exam

Earlier this year, I wrote several posts based on the 2009 Minnesota Lawyer interview with Minnesota TTT grads who were planning to take the bar exam.

This is what I had to say about the 2009 interview in April of this year:
None of the graduates in the video seemed to have a job lined up at the time of the bar exam. I hope the guy who failed the bar exam twice passed the third time around if only to save himself from wasting more money on test prep courses. But Ms. Guertin from William Mitchell School of Law nails it when she says at 1:02 that passing the bar exam doesn't necessarily mean you're guaranteed a job.

The bar exam will not guarantee anyone a job right now. The only thing that will be easier is finding doc review work and you can make more money than a law graduate who isn't admitted to the bar. That's it. I hear and read about law school graduates who think passing the bar is the golden key to a great legal job. It isn't. Wiser graduates like Mike at Barely Legal (btw, he started blogging again last month after a long hiatus. Welcome back!) decided to save his money and not take the exam.

People will have different opinions on this but I think the bar exam in this economy is a waste of money and time, especially for third tier graduates who never had a chance at finding a good job in a recession. If you end up finding a great law firm job, let them pay for the exam instead. Don't take out another loan from Sallie Mae or Access Group to take the exam. If you fail, consider it a blessing or buy used Barbri books off of Craigslist if you decide to take it again. You have to ask yourself whether more torture and money down the drain is worth it if you're in a state that has a high unemployment rate and little opportunity to find a good paying legal job. I'm curious to know if any of the graduates in the video found jobs after passing the bar.

What I said in April about last year's bar exam takers remains true today for this year's bar exam takers. Here are some important additional thoughts and statistics provided by Scammed Hard who first reported on the 2010 Minnesota Lawyer's "special report" covering the Minnesota bar exam:
Given that the four law schools in this small market spew out 1,000 new grads every year, things must be especially tough for TTT grads trying to find work. Despite its relatively small population, Minnesota boasts the 12th highest lawyer per capita ratio in the Union, with 11.2 lawyers for every 10,000 people. When even your local T-25, the University of Minnesota, graduates more than half of its Class of 2010 without jobs, one can only imagine how much more awful thing must be down in the TTTs, or especially at the local TTTT, Hambone University School of Law.

How long are these people going to allow themselves to be scammed? After suffering through three years and tens of thousands of dollars' worth of hell, just to end up unemployed, it must feel great to be plunking down for bar review and the exam without having the slightest idea about where you will eventually find work. These folks from the lower tiers are, sadly, especially likely to never find work as lawyers. Nando has already given us a trio of excellent exposés about the dismal employment prospects offered by these law school puppy mills. I must grudgingly admire the irrational optimism that these grads display in continuing on the road toward lawyerdom, but as a scamblogger, I know what awaits them. We've had a smattering of commenters from these schools show up on the scamblogs in the past few months, and none of them paints a rosy picture of their class' employment. In fact, they all agree that most of their former classmates are unemployed, indebted, and desperate. Yet the charlatans and book-cookers who run these institutions are still busy tallying the seat deposits and packing the next 1L class in time for the fall semester.
Yes, how long will thousands of students in over-saturated legal markets allow themselves to be scammed out of thousands of dollars for nothing more than the illusion of prestige of having a JD and passing the bar exam? And why aren't mainstream legal news publications like the Minnesota Lawyer asking serious questions about the employment rates of these recent graduates instead of vapid questions like what they had for breakfast or what time they went to bed the night before? What?!? The real question everyone is dying to know is, have you found a job yet? And, how much money in student loans did you borrow on top of the $150k you borrowed for three years of law school to take the BARBRI course?!? If Minnesota Lawyer actually did their job, maybe more 0Ls and law students would think twice before plopping down another $5,000 for no good reason whatsoever. Or they would start asking their law schools questions as to why three years and $150k still isn't enough to prepare students for the bar exam.

Pro Bono Opportunity

One of my favorite blogs, Corrente, is looking for pro bono legal counsel on commercial law. Usually I wouldn't promote working for free, but Corrente does a great service by promoting universal health care and political party reform. At the end of the day, doing pro bono work for a good cause is still better than participating in free slave labor for a shitlaw firm that doesn't care if you drop dead on the way to court because they don't give their employees a decent salary and health benefits. Soooo...if you have some free time on your hands or are looking for pro bono work for some silly ABA requirement, contact Lambert at lambert_strether.corrente(at)yahoo(dot)com and tell him that Hardknocks at BIDER sent you.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Contest Winners, the College Scam, and BIDER Art Contest

Angel and I held two giveaways that ended today. Here are the lucky winners!

The winner of the Pear Tree Greetings giveaway is Joanna:
Joanna said...

I love the Scallops - Violet Mommy Cards, especially with the tear-off appointment card at the bottom. It's perfect for scheduling play dates and outings!

Congratulations and enjoy your beautiful new personalized cards!

The winner of the No Sucker Left Behind book giveaway is debbie for sharing her college nightmare with us:
debbie said...

I was doing a special associates degree on working with special needs children. (I was teaching school, while working at a special needs school), then planning on getting my teaching degree. I had gotten done with the third semester, with one to go, when the school called me to tell me they were cancelling the program. Since, I had one semester left, they told me I could still be in the program. But, they changed the classes to night classes, off campus, and in another town. I said forget it.

I have heard a lot of crazy stories about schools pulling stunts and scams on their students, but moving the campus to another town takes the cake. I'm sorry you could not finish your associates degree.

Speaking of the college scam, there is a new book that all of you should check out. "Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money And Failing Our Kids - And What We Can Do About It" by Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus argues that the huge amount of debt students today take out to attend college is a waste of money:
Spending as much as $250,000 on a bachelors degree from world-renowned U.S. universities such as Harvard University and Yale is a waste of money, a new book asserts.

"Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money And Failing Our Kids - And What We Can Do About It," urges parents and students to consider colleges that spend on teaching instead of sports and which encourage faculty to interact with students instead of doing research, taking sabbaticals and sitting on campus committees.

"Undergraduates are being neglected," author Andrew Hacker, who co-wrote the book with Claudia Dreifus, told Reuters in an interview.

"Higher education has become the preserve of professors ... (who) really have lost contact with the main purpose of higher education, which is the education of students."

Hacker and Dreifus are critical of many U.S. universities, noting the cost of a 4-year degree has doubled in real dollars compared to a generation ago. But education, they say, has not become twice as good as many colleges lost their focus.

Many Ivy League professors don't teach undergraduates at all and at many colleges teaching is largely farmed out to low-cost adjunct teachers, Hacker said.

What they have to say about higher education should be nothing new to BIDER readers, but at least this book is spreading the truth about the corporate higher education industrial complex to a wider audience of parents and students before they get swindled. I've contacted the publisher and hopefully Angel and I will be able to host a book review and giveaway of this book in the near future.

And remember to enter our art contest. I'm still accepting entries, so please get them in before August 2nd! If you would like to enter but need an extension to submit your entry, let me know, and we can work something out.

ShitLaw Primer: My Life and Your Experiences

Have you ever felt really alone?  I'm not talking about the loneliness you feel when you're in a room by yourself.  No, I'm talking about the loneliness you feel when no one understands how bad you have it at your job.  Part of why I endeavored--with Hardknocks--to publicize the law school scam, was to show people they are not alone in being unsatisfied with their lack of job prospects and the amount of money that they owe.  I'm trying to reach out to a different crowd now.  I'm reaching out to the shitlaw associates. You know who you are.

You graduated from law school during a recession, much like myself.  I graduated during the bubble burst.  But you managed to find a job.  It's a small firm. You won't be earning much money.  You're not going to have health care.  But your mother is beaming because you are going to be a real attorney.  You know the job isn't forever, but you're happy to have an opportunity to gain experience under the wing of a talented and experienced solo practitioner.  You are one of the lucky ones and you're not about to look a gift horse in the mouth.  

This is how I felt when I got my first job out of law school (post-clerkship).  I was earning $50K, which was not horrid at the time, but not terrific.  My boss hired me because we clicked and I was a good student from a good school and a "go-getter."  I am notorious for ignoring my initial gut feelings and trying to think with my head.  I had a bad feeling when my future boss said, "You must be in the office by 8:30 and you can leave the office at 7:30 p.m. and to go to court during the day, but not for lunch."  Hmmm. I thought.  That's weird. I thought I was a professional that was paid to accomplish tasks, not work by the hour.  But, I thought, this would be a nice place to work.  He said he would never ask me to work weekend, so long as I put in my 11 hours a day during the week.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

LIES! Watch Out, Kansas City! Bull Alert!

I saw this headline ("Study: Life After Law School Gets Tougher") and was happy--over the moon! As you know, more news coverage is good news. And then I read on and somehow this reporter skews the news into something positive. I took Journalism in college, and I could hear my professor saying: "Journalism 101: Who, What, When, Where, Why?" What's up with dropping your uneducated opinion into a news story, Steve Vockrodt???

So, although the title sounds accurate, the article says...

Here are a few survey findings that stick out from NALP’s report:
• Between 3,200 and 3,700 graduates in 2009 had their start dates at law firms deferred past Dec. 1. The usual start date is around September.
• About 25 percent of respondents said their jobs were temporary, although that figure includes judicial clerkships.
• Many of those who did find jobs weren’t happy with them — about 22 percent of 2009 graduates were looking for a different job, double what the figure was in 2000.
If those figures seem grim, there’s one that contradicts the perception of an entirely ugly job market. The overall employment rate for 2009 law school graduates was 88 percent, down just a bit from the recent high of nearly 92 percent in 2007.That’s not bad, but it’s clear that the dynamic of employment options has changed and may continue to change during the next couple of years.

“Members of this graduating class were more likely to be working part-time, working in a temporary job, working in a job that does not require a JD, working as a solo practitioner or working but still looking for another job than their peers who graduated in the classes before them,” says James Leipold, NALP’s executive director.

What's wrong with this picture, folks? Surely, you've read the scam blogs long enough to say, right??? I'll tell you what's wrong. 88 percent of law graduates are employed, OF THE PEOPLE THAT REPORTED.

Yep, the shame factor is not computed into the NALP survey and certainly not mentioned by this reporter. What's the shame factor? It's the same thing that keeps me from revealing my identity to the world, or any of us for this matter (except Nando and L4L). It's the same thing that keeps all of us from passing out pamphlets in front of our alma mater. It's the reason why you comment anonymously. So, if you adjust that 88% downward, for the number of graduates that are too ashamed to tell their law school that they are STILL unemployed--we're looking at something like 50%. If you adjust that figure, by taking out the 10% or so that are employed--in temporary document review--we're at 40%.

Hang in there, law school grads!

Suck it, Steve!

(written by Angel, posted by HardKnocks)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

BIDER Reader Moves to Canada!

I received some wonderful news from a long-time BIDER reader who took my suggestions to heart and was looking for an out from the law (and loans) in a foreign country. We exchanged emails for months, exploring options which included teaching in China. Little did I know that this BIDER reader is a U.S. and Canadian dual-citizen. I received an email soon after my post on the Globe and Mail's "Broken Europe" series that this BIDER reader is finally going to take advantage of his dual citizenship to move to Canada. Congratulations you lucky bastard!
Hi Hard Knocks:
Just a quick note. I have basically decided to abandon the China plan I once had. But, the reason I am likely going to do so is because - in reference to today's post on your site regarding Canada - I'm a U.S. and Canadian dual-citizen, as well as a graduate of a Canadian college, and it seems that in addition to a relatively humane health care system and much, much more responsible bank regulation, it still has a functioning economy. This, I did not know until recently, and I've decided that I am moving (likely on credit and couches) in about four weeks.
Canada's better in a lot of ways. I don't think that has always been true. But, at this point, I'm really very tired of the U.S. I was born here. I lived most of my life here. I've known for months that I was going to have to leave, but until the last few weeks, I didn't really want to. Obviously, I've got over that.

By the way, ever hear The Clash song, "I'm So Bored with the U.S.A."?
Good luck to this BIDER reader's job search in Canada. Be sure to update us on your new life there. I didn't think I needed to state the obvious, but for any BIDER readers out there who are unemployed dual U.S. and Canadian citizens, go to Canada. Their economy is doing much better than ours and you will have health care. It's a no-brainer. And don't forget your friend Hardknocks when you're watching the Titanic U.S. from your workplace or doctor's office in Canada.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Law Grads are Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Sometimes, we at BIDER become a little self-involved and forget about the victims of other graduate programs--or even college.  I received a message from a student loan victim (on my facebook, you should definitely add me) and I thought I would share it.  It's a long email, but much like a 5 car pileup on the highway, you can't help but look:

Today I am 46 years old. I was 22 when my father died suddenly in 1985. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I took out student loans to finish my BA at a college in Michigan. Let me preface this by saying I have never been in default and I have always believed in paying back what I borrowed.

Telling my story is important because many people do not understand how the student loan business has turned into a predatory lending industry that rivals Wall Street. There are no consumer protections, and no limits. I have come out of hiding in the hopes that people will read this and start to understand why we need help.

I was majoring in theater and wanted to teach, but I was advised by the college to get a "real career", so I took out more loans and added a BA in Psychology.They told me not to worry, I could pay these back. I worked three part time jobs, and moved off campus. In 1985, there was no" loan counseling", there were only appointments for loan signing.

When I took out student loans I was going through chemo for cervical cancer with no health insurance, my father's sudden death in 1985 and my family went though being very wealthy to losing everything and being left a half a million dollars in debt.Could I have switched schools? Quit school? I don't remember what I was feeling or if I read every detail of the loan; I think I was just trying to get through my grief and my chemo a minute at a time.

I went on to get my Masters in Counseling Psychology, which was paid for by my employer,Thank God. I found to my dismay, that I just couldn't make enough money on a salary of $25,000 as a counselor to make the loan payments and take care of everyday life. My cancer in 1986 left me thousands in debt. In 1991, ended up filing a chapter 13 for my medical bills. Subsequently, a woman at Wachovia Bank noted this, and accidentally put my loans in default instead of deferment.

My life became nightmare for the next seven years.This was before the regular use of computers. I was on the phone for hours on hold, but I couldn't get anyone to talk to me. Creditors treated me like a leper. I was actually told by a well meaning person that" Your loans have been bought and sold so many times, they are probably in a shoe box in someones closet."

Finally in 1995, after getting nowhere, I contacted the US Dept.of Education. I literally sent them a shoebox full of notes about my conversations and letters I wrote trying to ask for help. They eventually tracked them down and subtracted the penalties, but not the interest, so my $25,000 turned into $45,000.

I tried to make the payments on a counselor's salary, even on an income contingent plan or any plan I could find, but it was too much money on $28,500 per year. I made payments whenever I could afford to but they never seemed to count because they were never enough to cover even the interest. My payments were more than my rent! I have deferred and been in forbearance so many times it's not even funny.

I had to declare bankruptcy again in 2000 due to lack of finances and everyday living, and ongoing medical issues with my cancerous nodules on my thyroid which prevented me from working in for 7 months in 1999. Again, deferment, hardship forbearance, more compiling interest.

I wanted to go into the NHSC (National Health Service Corps) which is a program for health professional to go into public service into rural, urban, low income areas and prisons to work for a period of time in exchange for loan forgiveness. I had a license in Michigan, but they changed their policy and you had to already have your national independent license.

I couldn't afford to stop working to get my PhD, so after 10 years of getting nowhere and the threat of default, I went back to school at age 41 in 2004 and got my MSW so I could be in the NHSC. This was not something I wanted to do, but I wanted to get my loans repayment and I already had devoted my life to public service, it seemed the logical thing to do. Another Masters would increase my loans, but I could pay it back through this program.

During this time, I was able to buy a house on an FHA loan, but was one of the victims of the refinancing scams of 2006, and although my house went into foreclosure, I was fortunate enough to sell it in a short sale through Freddie Mac.

Right after graduation I was able to secure a job in Arizona for the NHSC. I had to go out there as they make it extremely complicated to get accepted, and Michigan virtually had none of these jobs with a high enough need number to guarantee loan repayment. I had to reconsolidate my loans were now 140,000.

The Globe and Mail Reports on "Broken Europe" and the Irish Exodus to Canada. What About "Broken" America?

funny pictures of cats with captions
Canada's Globe and Mail had an article last Friday about the Irish exodus to Canada as part of their series called "Broken Europe".

For biochemistry graduate Laura Cross, Tuesdays are special. She wakes early, wanders down to Arnotts department store on Henry Street, slips on her uniform and spends the day working in the underwear department.

One day a week fitting bras on plus-sized ladies is considered better-than-average work these days for an Irishwoman with an advanced degree and work experience; most of her fellow graduates can't even find that much.

The rest of the week, Ms. Cross, 23, waits for the dole cheque and reads up on the history and culture of British Columbia.

On Sept. 28, she will take the bus to the airport and fly to Vancouver, a work-study visa in hand and a number of job prospects in Canadian labs. Her boyfriend, a cabinetmaker who hasn't had work in two years, will join her in December.

Half a dozen of her friends and classmates are already there.

Sounds similar to the lives of most BIDER readers except better because she has a one day a week job and Ireland has a public health care system. I sympathize with Europeans who are experiencing high unemployment and no job prospects. But, being an American, I'm naturally most concerned with the plight of Americans including myself and my friends and family who are suffering because of the depression in the United States. The first thought that came into my head when I started reading this article was, how are thousands of Irish people able to go to Canada, yet, it is so difficult for Americans to live and work in Canada? I would like to know the number of Americans who have moved to Canada since the recession hit because if I could find a full time job in Canada or even temporary employment that would give me a work visa, I would accept without hesitation. Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City, Vancouver - I'd move to any one of those cities in a heartbeat. This article makes it seem like it's a piece of cake for anyone to abandon their home and move to Canada. I've been advocating leaving the country for months and even I know that it takes some time to work out the logistics, find a job abroad, and get a work visa.

On top of this, Ms. Cross is one of 2,500 young Irish people each year who are granted a work-travel visa; that number is capped but is "very heavily oversubscribed now," one official said. Before 2008, Irish visa applications fell below the quota.

A Canadian official said that the numbers for 2009 and the first half of 2010 are "much, much higher," though figures beyond 2008 are not yet available.

The new emigrants are either young and unemployed, like Ms. Cross, or they are older skilled workers with houses and established lives, who are abandoning it all in bankruptcy.

That describes electrician Gavin O'Brien, who left for Toronto this spring, abandoning his family house. In the peak of the boom, earning perhaps €150,000 a year in the overheated home-construction trade, he raised his mortgage payments to €3,000 a month in hopes of paying off the house within a few years: When the construction industry collapsed completely in 2008, the mortgage company refused to lower his payments. He offered to pay them €1,000 a month or to let them take the house, then got on a plane.

Canadians always laugh when I tell them that I need to find a Canadian man to marry so I can live in Canada. They often don't realize that I am dead serious. Five years ago when I was a naive college student who thought the world was my oyster, I would've told people that love conquers all. Now I tell people that Canadian citizenship conquers all. Ever since I was a little girl, I've been in love with Canada's natural beauty and multiculturalism. That they have national health care and is close to family and friends in the U.S. is are additional pluses. So, I'm not surprised that so many other people who are looking for better opportunities abroad are choosing to move to Canada.

I think Ms. Cross and any other young person who has the opportunity to immigrate to Canada is making the right decision to leave for greener pastures. Of course, her well-paid professors with secure jobs tried to dissuade her from leaving Ireland and to stay in school for as long as possible! That is probably the worst advice you can give to a young person. Take out more loans to stay in school and still end up unemployed and overqualified for the few entry-level jobs left out there. I really wish these professors would stop giving life advice as if they know anything about the job market outside of academia:

For young workers like Ms. Cross, the decision to migrate is less cataclysmic, but the choices are equally stark. "My professors were telling me that there was not going to be any work out there for a few years and we should just stay in school as long as we can," she said.

"But I decided to get out there and face the big bad world, and things are so bad that I just want to get up and get out, get away from all the difficulty. My sister's generation were probably the first one ever who could think of spending their whole life making a living in Ireland, but for the rest of us it's back to the old ways."

Have any of you considered finding work in Canada and what has been your experience thus far? I'm expecting that most of you will say it's nearly impossible to find a job in Canada right now. If any of you have found success in securing a visa to stay in Canada, please, do share.

Monday, July 26, 2010

BIDER Reader Needs Advice (and Well Wishes for the Bar Exam).

This is the type of BIDER fan that I don't know how to save.  The one that's already took the plunge.  Any words of wisdom for him/her would be appreciated.  I, frankly, don't know what to say. I've never deferred my loan payments, amazingly.  So, IBR is a foreign language to me:

Hello Angel,

My name is [BIDER READER], I'm a recent law school graduate from this year, and I am taking the bar exam in two states this week. I just discovered your blog a couple weeks ago and I would like to seek some advice from you. I'm sorry this email is long, but I would greatly appreciate if your read it and provide some advice.

I have been very nervous... about job prospects and my student loans when I get out of school. I graduated from a TTTT in the 60th percentile, with $120,000 in loans, and am currently trying to find a job in a very crowed legal market. I had some fears this past year that it would be difficult to find a job as a lawyer with those factors, and stumbling upon your website site pretty much confirmed that those fears were true.

In addition, I am very burnt out from three years of law school, and BarBri this summer. I am dreading three days of examinations this week, not because I am unprepared, but because I am so mentally drained at this point. And I feel like it could all be for nothing even if I pass, judging from everything I've heard on the scamblogs. I had the vigor to practice law up until a few months ago, but now I am questioning whether I want to keep dealing with the seemingly never-ending tests, fees, and frustration that surrounds the law...if I can even find a job.

So, part of me just wants to say screw the law, and seek a non-legal job as soon as the bar exam is over. Unless I can parlay my J.D. into a good position, I'll likely be stuck making around $40,000 like I was before I went to law school. I'm wondering, do you know how bad income based repayment will be with my law school loans? I already realize that I'm gonna be living in my parent's basement for a long time, and won't be able to start a family for a long long time either. But one thing going through law school has taught me, is that money certainly isn't everything, and I'd rather do something I enjoy that be stressed out constantly a la law school.

I would appreciate any advice you could give me, being that it sounds like from your blogs you've been through some of the things I'm going through right now.

Yes, BIDER reader, I feel your pain. Maybe some of the readers can pipe up about IBR and how it works.  Hardknocks may have some insight.  I would suggest trying to find any job, legal or non, and let that dictate your future.  I am ten years out and making what I made as a judicial law clerk, or worse.  So, $40K doesn't sound like a bad salary to me.  Sorry you made this mistake, but you are far from alone.  

Any ideas for this young lawyer?

Oh yah, I'd like to pretend that the bar exam doesn't exist, but it does and many of our readers are taking it this week. I wish you luck and I hope you pass on the first try. At least you'll be satisfied in knowing that you're eligible to practice the law and you can go on with your life--whether that's being a lawyer or something else. GOOD LUCK. Let us know how you did!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Not the Most Sympathetic Character--But She Did Everything Right.

I'm not a huge fan of people in the educational industrial complex, but Demosthenes of America forwarded me this article that was right on point for BIDER readers and my general feeling regarding the big(ger) divide between rich and poor.  Not to mention the big nose dive that so many of us have taken since the recession--into the deep end of poverty.  Maria Ortiz, a bilingual Ph.D. who has never had to search for a job until January of 2009:

After working and teaching in California for 20 years, Ortiz was recruited in 2007 for a highly specialized job at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She left her stable situation to take a chance on a new program she believed in, but the program folded due to budget cuts less than two years later in January 2009, right in the middle of the recession.
Ortiz frantically applied for jobs for the next 18 months, running through all $15,000 of her savings, exhausting all 99 weeks of unemployment benefits and eventually having to draw from Social Security and accept financial aid from her local church congregation to help pay the rent. 
Only in times like these can you go from the person leaving cash in the alms dish at church to the person knocking on the Minister's door to ask for a handout.  It only took 18 months.  Now, she's needy and broke.

How many months are you away from seeking handouts?  I think, if I had 3 bad months, I would be screwed.  And that is downright likely to happen.  After all, many of my clients are financially strapped, unemployed, underemployed, etc.  That's the honest truth. I imagine that there are people who have nothing in the bank at all, that are 2 weeks away from being evicted or losing their car.  We are all closer to poverty than we'd like to believe.

When I saw a homeless person in the 80s, I would think "crazy."  When I saw a homeless person in the 90s, I would think "druggie."  Now, I'll think "PhD."

Ms. Ortiz reflects on her life by citing our favorite line here at BIDER:
"I cried the whole day on Monday," she told HuffPost. "It's painful. It's embarrassing. I worked so hard. I have all this experience and education. I was careful and prepared. I kept savings -- I did everything right. Why am I living on handouts? I always felt like there were needy people out there that needed the help more than I did, but now I am turning into one of those people. Look at this. This is how the middle class is evaporating."
The italics are mine of course.  That's right, Ms. Ortiz.  So did we.  We all know why she's not getting a job, by the way.  The Universities that should be knocking her door down, are hiring graduate students for pennies on the dollar, to teach the same classes Mr. Ortiz would like to teach.  She probably costs too much, or they think she'd expect to be paid much more than she's actually willing to accept.  At least the educational industrial complex is blind.  It screws us and screws its own.

Friday, July 23, 2010

In Pursuit of the Six Figure Salary

I am a child of immigrants, as were many of my friends.  We were middle class, in an affluent community.  My parents, along with most of my friends' parents, were immigrants and suffered and sacrificed to make sure that they bought homes in the right neighborhoods and sent their kids to college to pursue the American dream.  Our parents made sacrifices to provide us with the proper foundation to live a good life in this country.  They didn't think it would be nearly as hard for us.  After all, we were born here.  We were schooled here.  The world was our oyster.

When I was twelve, my girl friend and I were sitting around discussing our futures.  Yes, we were very serious children.  We both figured that we would be fine if we earned (with our husbands Prince Charming and James Bond) $100K+.  We thought we'd be comfortable.  We were smart and good in school, it should be attainable.  Hell, we ought to be able to earn $100K on our owns.

Well, I did earn $100K+ at some point.  And I'll tell you how I felt.  I didn't feel rich.  For the first time in my life, I felt comfortable.  I could save and I could spend. I always had money in the bank. I could buy every Gucci purse I desired, but I didn't need to.  I felt squarely middle class (remember that I live in New York City).

So, those days are over and I've plummeted to the lower five figures.  I am not sure yet, but I imagine I will earn $35K or $40K this year--if I'm lucky.  But I least I felt the luxury of the six figure salary at some point in my life.

On a weekly basis, I encounter at least 1 or 2 0Ls that I attempt to dissuade from attending law school.  I'm usually successful too.  How do I do it?  I focus on the bottom line: you will (most likely) not earn a $100K, or even close--when you graduate.  In fact, in all likelihood, you'll earn exactly what you earn now--or less.  I am very good with people and I'm very convincing. I tend to focus on this issue because I can see through all the bullshit about life long dreams of law school and the intellectual challenge and see that the 0L is simply not satisfied by the salaries offered to college graduates.  Most of these 0Ls have careers.  They are medical billers and park rangers and paralegals, and their salaries don't feel like enough.  I don't doubt that.  In their minds, they are intelligent people--why shouldn't they feel comfortable?  Why should they live paycheck to paycheck?  Law school is simply a way to boost your resume so that you earn more money, right? It's logical, right?

Well, BIDER readers know that a JD is the new BA.  Your salary won't jump up.  You may graduate from law school and land a job earning $40K, but you're $150K in debt and you're even worse off.  That's the cold, hard truth.

Salaries have been stagnant. We're earning what our parents earned 20 years ago, but life is infinitely more expensive.  There's no magic formula that will give you the lifestyle and salary that you (think you) deserve.  An education is certainly not the way to make large strides in your net worth.  It seems that there is no way to break the cycle of poverty (and trust me that you're poor if you're living from paycheck to paycheck)--outside of owning a company or inheriting wealth.  And our generation is not satisfied with being poor.  In a way, that's what caused the financial collapse of 2008.

I ran into this passage about the book Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists (by Raghuram Rajan) which explains my point exactly:
In a new book he is working on, entitled “Fault Lines,” Rajan argues that the initial causes of the breakdown were stagnant wages and rising inequality. With the purchasing power of many middle-class households lagging behind the cost of living, there was an urgent demand for credit. The financial industry, with encouragement from the government, responded by supplying home-equity loans, subprime mortgages, and auto loans. (Notwithstanding the government’s involvement, this is ultimately a traditional Chicago argument: in response to changing economic circumstances, the free market provided financial products that people wanted.) The side effects of unrestrained credit growth turned out to be devastating-a possibility that most economists had failed to consider.
We have always been a nation of consumers.  Now we're a nation of consumers with no money.  We're fastly becoming a third world nation, where there are only rich and poor people.  What rich people don't realize is that you can't live like a king among paupers without worrying about the paupers killing you and kidnapping your children for ransom.  That will be fun.

Giveaway Time: No Sucker Left Behind

Do you know a high schooler who is applying to college?  Are you applying to college?  Do you hate your alma mater and you can't put your finger on why?  Well, you need to read this book.

Even though I went to college a hundred of years ago, No Sucker Left Behind: Avoiding the Great College Rip-Off was a real education. It was an education on how my beloved college ripped me off and continues to rip off students every year. Had I known about some of the scams that colleges engage in to rip college students off, I may have broadened the scope of this blog. I actually was so focused on the big Law School Scam, that I had not thought about colleges and their lies that much at all.  

After reading this book, I realized that I had witnessed several of the scams first hand.

1. Bait and Switch Scholarship: The first year that I attended FYU (Fuck You University), I was given a scholarship based on ... hell, I didn't know. I had good grades in high school, so I assumed it was based on merit.  I filled out a FAFSA, and I got a scholarship.  At the end of first year, I filled out another FAFSA. I had a 4.0 (all of college actually)--so I assumed I would get the same financial package, but the scholarship was gone--POOF.  It was gone. I asked about it and I was told that it just wasn't available to me anymore. Classic bait and switch.  Give the freshman a great financial aid packages and pull out the rug from under them and they are stuck.  What are they going to do, transfer?

2.  FYU had an average sports team.  One year, the school made it to finals or playoffs or whatever they are called, and the next year, tuition went up by 20%.  As it turns out, the reason why schools give a shit about their sports team is NOT school spirit.  Rather, it's the greatest marketing tool ever.  If the team is doing great, then you can justify a hike in tuition.  Oh yah, alumna love to donate money to their schools when the sports team is doing well.

3.  Did you ever wonder why vital classes were offered only once a year, and not in the summer?  Why can't organic chemistry be offered every semester when it's the prerequisite to so many majors?  It's not JUST because the professors are lazy shits.  It's also because, if you don't fix your schedule perfectly, you're forced to enroll for one additional semester. I was wondering why so many people graduate from college in 5 years, rather than 4.  That's why!

These are just three of the scams that I found out about by reading No Sucker Left Behind.  It was a really enlightening book.  It's a must read for high school seniors!

So, here's the contest:  Think about college long and hard and write a blurb, in the comments, about how your college scammed you.  Be creative.  Or, if you can't think of a scam that applies to you specifically, just write about a college scam that you have identified.  If you become a follower of this Blog, then I will give extra consideration to your story.  If you don't feel comfortable telling me about your scam in the comments, then please email me your story and I will post it without your name--if you're the winner.   If I select your scam, I will post it and send you the book.  No restrictions on the age or location of the winner.  Anyone can enter.  Oh yah, no need to name your college.  

I will select a winner on July 30, 2010.  Good luck!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Big Law Puts a Positive Spin on Paying Associates Less...

I love mainstream Big Law brown-nosing media manages to put a positive spin on paying associates less.  It's no surprise that the lock-step model is not longer working, especially with the downturn in the economy. The biggest problem with lock-step is the mandatory increase in salary every year.  So law firms are deflating salaries by making it "merit" based:
Olswang is the latest firm to change the way it treats associates, and to set out a more modern, merit-based career path for them. Under its new scheme, which will come into effect on 1 September, there are three levels for associates, and four bands within those levels. Progression to the next band or level will depend on performance and ability rather than the number of years served.
Don't get me wrong.  This definitely makes sense and it was dumb to give salary increases based on time to begin with.  But, I can see where this is going:
The reason for changing to this system was to make sure that we can provide a career path that suits all our associates. People develop at different rates and have different career goals. This way of doing things gives them the opportunities and support to get there. It’s all about flexibility, and giving lawyers a career path that they can understand, and which they feel they have some control over. 
I'm going to take, what some may view, a huge leap. I think that this type of system will keep women associates at "low" salaries.  Well, not all women, but women who want to slow down for limited amounts of time to have children. Well, the proof of my hypothesis will materialize in the next 10 years when women associates are not becoming partners.  We'll see.

I love this nonsensical bull-shit line:
The move towards a freer, more flexible and merit-based system is inevitable in law firms. The legal industry is slowly coming to understand this and in doing so will improve its chances of attracting and retaining the best talent. 
We all know that law firms have nothing to fear regarding attracting and maintaining the best talent out there.  There are no jobs and Big Law is still the most coveted type of legal job out there.  So, this is not about attracting talent.  It's about not paying the talents as much as yesteryear and getting the most out of the talent because nothing will be taken for granted.  You could be a fourth year associate with a first year associate salary, unless you but your hump and waste your twenties to get out of that level.

Like I said before, I'm not mad about this.  But the ceiling on what you can earn as a lawyer is dropping. It was bound to happen.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Never Too Old to Practice Law

When do lawyers typically retire?  BIDER readers know, the answer is never.  Now, this general premise will be made law because BigLaw Octogenarian Partners are fighting back.  Large law firms across the country have a policy of forced retirement to make way for new blood.  Until today, no one has challenged this policy.  But I guess even the old timers are starving for cash, so they're not taking it anymore:
When attorney Eugene D'Ablemont turned 70, the New York law firm where he had worked for four decades stripped him of his financial stake under a policy designed to encourage older partners to retire....
In January the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Kelley Drye & Warren on Mr. D'Ablemont's behalf, accusing the law firm of violating age-discrimination laws. Three years ago, the EEOC settled a similar suit against Sidley Austin, which agreed to pay $27.5 million to 32 ex-partners, many of whom the agency claims were demoted because of their age.
Because those cases ended in settlement, the issue of whether old rich partners are protected by age discrimination laws remains unresolved.

Even Indian Lawyers don't quit.

And are these geezers being selfish?  Actually, I had no idea how much their salaries decreased after forced retirement:
Mr. D'Ablemont currently practices at the firm as a "life partner," receiving a pension and an annual bonus that has ranged from $25,000 to $75,000. He says the bonus amounts to between one-seventh and 1/20 of what he estimates he would have earned if he were still an equity partner.
Boo hoo. I'm crying for your, grandpa.  But, I shouldn't be mean.   According to his estimates, he's out somewhere between $175K and $1.875 mill.  From my general knowledge, I know that PPP can be somewhere between $900K and $3 mill. But when I went on-line to verify, I found out that the information is hidden behind a password.  Feel free to access it and let me know if I'm wrong.  So, in light of what I believe to be true, old partners are being screwed out of lots of money.  So, to the extent that's true, I feel for him.

There's arguments for keeping the geezers flush with green.  Often times, they are the rainmakers in the firm and their name on the letterhead can generate business because of their long and prestigious careers. On the other hand, they are not as productive as the kids:
Kelley Drye denies that allegation, adding, among other things, that Mr. D'Ablemont's billable hours in the past five years were on average one-seventh to 1/10 of what he billed earlier in his career.
Well, it's hard to keep up with 50 years of technology. I still don't tweet or twit.  Whatever.

So, there are law firms that see the writing on the wall, and are amending their retirement policies, like  Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and K&L Gates.

Other law firms haven't, so upon reaching the mandatory retirement age, these lawyers are seeking jobs elsewhere.  They aren't taking going away.  That is apparent.

So, as always, I must address what impact this has on the legal industry and BIDER readers.  This is more evidence that the legal industry is not growing.  Visit any local courthouse and you'll see the lawyers coming in on walkers and canes... okay, I'm exaggerating.  But I really meant it when I said that I had a boss that worked until he died of a heart attack on a bus.  He had Alzheimer's and would ask me the same question 50 times in a day.  "Did you schedule that EBT in the XYZ matter?"  "Hey, Angel!  Did you schedule that EBT yet?" "Angel, I was just thinking. We need to schedule that EBT in XYZ."  Lawyers don't retire. They die.

So, where do you fit in?  I'm not sure, but I know that the legal industry can't absorb us all.

This isn't really about old lawyers, but it's funny as hell.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

1st Annual BIDER Art Contest - Submit Your Entries NOW!

image courtesy of Nando at Third Tier Reality

Looking for a creative outlet to express your anger at the ABA, the legal industry, or your First, Second, Third, or even Fourth Tier Toilet school? Here is the place! Angel and I are hosting our very first BIDER art contest. If this is successful, we'll make the contest a yearly event. Please spread the word to your friends and tell them to enter.

Submit your own work of art depicting your law school experience, law school, career services, doc review, shitlaw, paying off student loans, having to deal with your boss or law partner, being unemployed or anything else about the law that drives you insane. We're giving you free license to express yourself through practically any medium. Scan and send us a drawing, painting, photograph, or even video. We don't want to restrict anyone's artistry, but please refrain from icky pornographic images, mmkay?

The winner will receive two 10 oz. bags of ground coffee courtesy of New England Coffee. It's not a $100k grand prize to pay off your law school loans, but beggars can't be choosers. Lawyers and law students worldwide can enter, but only the winner with the most votes from the United States will be able to receive the coveted ground coffee prize.

Please submit your art to hardknockslaw(at)gmail(dot)com by August 2, 2010. You can enter as many times as you want. I will post all the submitted entries and readers will have a week to vote for their favorite. We will announce a winner by August 10, 2010. Good luck to everyone who enters and have fun!

Added Note: We will NEVER reveal your true identity unless you specifically tell us that you are okay with having your real name published.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Okay. I'm a Little Obsessed with Housewives of New Jersey.

So, I watched one of the more recent episodes of HWNJ and Albie is up to his tricks again.  As you know from my last entry on Albie Manzo, he flunked out of the part-time program at SeTTTTon Hall School of Law.  I thought that chapter was done in his life, and sure enough, it isn't.  I think his mom encouraged him to fight the fight and become a "successful attorney" to spite them.  So, what does Albie do?  He hires an attorney and consults about his rights.  Apparently, Albie was put on academic probation after first semester. He met with one of the Deans.  Albie told the Dean about his learning disability.  The Dean said that he thought SeTTTTon Hell could accommodate that type of thing.  I actually remember a few people in law school who had extra time on the exams because of learning disabilities.  So, not an unreasonable accommodation, I'm sure.  The Dean gave Albie a number and no one ever picked up the phone  at that number.  So, the rest is Reality TV history. He flunks out and I thought he would call it a day.
Turns out, Albie hired the attorney to fight SeTTTTon Hell with one goal in mind, a letter.  Apparently, and I didn't know this, if you flunk out of law school, you are prohibited from attending another law school for two years.  Like you'd want to, right?  Consider yourself lucky and move on.  But, Little Albie is different.  He wants a letter from Seton Hall, saying he's fit to go to another law school.  What?  I guess that's beyond anything in my reality.  He wants to go back?  Does this happen often?  And what makes him think another law school will be better?  Forget that. I just can't conceive of someone wanting to go back to law school when he flunked out.
I hope he finds what he's looking for.  His brother, Christopher, the kid who didn't go to college and is following in his father's footsteps at the Brownstone (a famous North Jersey wedding and banquet hall) will be far more wealthy than Albie, the lawyer, in the end. I'm willing to place a bet on it.

Why Your Career Services Sucks

bl1y explains why your career services office probably hasn't found you a job and never will, using the recent news of Emory Law School's career services' FAIL as an example:

Emory has seven people working as career services advisors, with one of them an assistant dean, and another a senior director. If we assume an average salary for the non-managers of $50,000, $65,000 for the senior director, and $80,000 for the assistant dean, we get a total of $395,000. There is also one administrative assistant, and let’s assume she works for $35,000, taking us up to $430,000, and I think I’m being pretty conservative here.

That’s just the salaries. You also have any sort of retirement plan the school has and health insurance. The office also takes up space and requires furniture, office equipment, software and office supplies (I bet they use a ton of paper; my own career services office sent me a 189 page book that was little more than a list of websites, which of course is least useful on paper, where I can’t just click on a link). And then there’s the added costs they bring to other departments, such as human resources, pay roll, IT, and maintenance.

The true cost for this 7 man operation is likely about one million dollars. Emory has about 700 students, so we’re talking roughly $1400 per student per year, or $4200 total per student. And what do they get for this fee? Advice such as “network” or “go on informational interviews.” It’s basically an admission that they can’t help you. The most they can do is suggest someone else who might be able to help you.


They’ll talk about how law degrees open all sorts of doors because they’ve heard a handful of anecdotal evidence. But, when they suggest working as a contracts specialist, do you think they’ve done the job before? Do you think they have any idea what the day to day work is like? Nope. All they can do is name the job title and assure you that someone with a JD has done it before.

I recently talked to my own career services office, and told them one of the things I was interested in is journalism, but it’s an extremely hard field to get in to if you don’t have prior journalism experience. She assured me I was qualified and there were lots of entry level positions in journalism. I guess she hasn’t heard that print media has taken a beating lately. Also, while there are entry level positions, they still require experience and a stack of clips (writing samples). Journalism majors get all this through summer internships and working on the school paper. A lawyer with an English degree could be qualified, but most places won’t look at you unless you have the specific credentials they’re looking for. And why should they? This is a buyer’s market? Why settle for something that’s not quite what you want when there are hundreds of highly qualified perfect matches?

Enough of that tangent though, my point is that the people working in career services know extremely little about the industries they’re placing people in and what it takes to get a job there. They don’t take your resume and peruse want ads looking for possible fits. They simply don’t know what a job search entails. They’ll tell you to network with alumni, but are extremely unhelpful at actually finding alumni for you to talk to.

Career services is just another example of your tuition dollars going to waste. The most career services do at the majority of law schools or graduate schools is to plan OCI or a similar form of job fair. One BIDER reader emailed me earlier in the year that her school's job fair was simply another publicity stunt to post on the school's website despite them knowing that most of the employers who came weren't interested in hiring entry-level candidates right out of school. A rough estimate of fewer than 10% of her class received any response from the employers who showed up at the career fair, and a lot of the responses came in the form of summer internship offers, not full-time job offers (the job fair was mainly for graduating students).

Once the yearly dog and pony show ends, career services pats themselves on the back and most of us are on our own when it comes to the real job search. As bl1y points out, career services does very little in helping students truly network by acting as an intermediary between the student and working alumni, introducing students with its connections, etc. Finding a job in today's economy takes much more effort on the part of both the students and career services. Unfortunately, I don't think most career services are up to the challenge or even want to go the extra mile for their students.

Tell us your experience with career services in the comments section. If anyone from Emory or another law school has followup news on career services they'd like us to share in a future post, please email me or Angel, and we will post what you have to say.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Geography of a Recession

Doesn't the purple (10% or over unemployment) look like a disease consuming the entire nation? It's frightening to actually look at how much unemployment has grown across the country in the last two years.

In other news, I sprained my ankle while jogging. I don't know what I would've done if my injury had required surgery. Luckily it's not that serious. I went to the free clinic and the doctor said I should heal in a few weeks. That's what I get for trying to be physically active without any health insurance.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's Soooo Glamorous to be an Attorney.

Today, I had to file a complaint, file affidavits of service and buy a judge (pay for an RJI) so that I can have a motion heard.

I went to the basement of the courthouse and paid for my index number.  The clerk laughed at me because I forgot to write "Summons" on the Summons.  She made me write in by hand. My bad. I need a secretary.
I asked her if I could pay for an RJI (Request for Judicial Intervention) at this window.  She directed me to go to a room on the first floor.

I went to that room. I waited in line, behind a bunch of Chinese-Americans who were there to get their passports.  After 15 minutes, I realize that I could have gone around those people and I walk up to the window.  She takes a look and says, "you have to go to the room next door to have this RJI form approved before you pay for it."

I go to the room next door and I meet with the motions clerk.  He looks over my documents, makes me make a few changes by hand and tells me that I have to go back to the first room (no, the second room) to pay for it, then I need to bring back two copies of the motion and two copies of the RJI. If I don't bring back those documents, my motion won't be on the calendar.

I go and wait in line.  This time, it's a real line.  I am behind attorneys and clerks.  I get within eye shot of the window and I notice that I have to have copies of the RJI before I pay for it. Shit.  I step out of line and go to the copiers to make said copies.

They are 35 cents a copy.  I have nothing on me besides tens and fives.  Ugh.  There are two people standing at the copiers looking for change.  I leave this room and head down to the record room, where I know there are copiers.  I take the stairs because I've already spent too much time at the courthouse and I can't handle waiting for the elevators.

I slip into the record room. I see two copiers. I head towards them and see a sign that says they are not for public use.

I walk around the bend and I see 4 copiers for public use.  Once again 35 cents a copy, but these machines are equipped to take bills.  There's one catch: it only takes OLD five dollar bills.  What?

I open my wallet and take out my three five dollar bills and I notice that they are all NEW five dollar bills.  I note to myself that I haven't even had to think about this distinction, ever.

I run upstairs to the convenience store in the courthouse and buy gum. I don't eat gum, but I wanted to break my stinking five so I can make my copies... I need about 12 copies.  That's about $4.20.

I go back to the basement to make copies with my new one dollar bills. I stick my document on the glass and the stinking machine says it doesn't have paper to match my document.  No letter sized paper?  Really?

I open up all of the drawers and the machine only has letter sized paper. I start pressing buttons and finally, the little green light says that it will let me proceed.  I make two copies, and another two copies of another document. I bend over to look at them and they are facing the wrong direction and at about 25% of original size.  Shit.

So, I'm down about $1.40 and I have no copies.  I don't have enough to make the remainder of the copies either. I head back upstairs to buy more gum.

I come back downstairs and I finish making my Godforsaken copies.

I'm not done yet.

I head up to the cashier's office where I pay for the RJI and I pay for it--finally. I run over to the motion clerk's office and give him all of his documentation.  I've been in the courthouse about an hour longer than I had planned.

I step to the front of the courthouse and there is a torrential downpour.

What's glamorous about this job again?
This is real life. It's not LA Law and unless you're rolling in dough, this is the shit that you have to do to make it as a solo.  My friends tell me I should hire a law school graduate... hire being a loose term because it would be unpaid... to take care of this crap for me.  But my morals tell me that's wrong. I blog about the pains of being a new graduate and I would hate to "employ" someone that despised me for not paying them or not paying them adequately.  Could I?  Should I?

But that doesn't change the premise of this blog. There are plenty of attorneys at the courthouse tending to these matters on their own. It's not pretty. It's not glamorous and it's not aspirational. It's the shit in shit law.

Wall of Shame: Above the Law and David Lat

Above the Law brings on the dumb while leading the lambs to slaughter. Can't say I'm surprised.

Thank you to First Tier Toilet and Rose Colored Glasses for bringing our attention to a shameful post at Above The Law entitled “In Defense of Going to Law School” written by Yale Law grad and BigLaw lover David Lat. No, I will not link to the post. I didn’t bother visiting Above the Law to read the original post in its entirety because I’m already too disgusted by what is apparently going on over there. Here is what David Lat wrote according to Knut at First Tier Toilet.

David Lat makes the following five points for the defense of going to law school:
1) "If a law degree is like a Biglaw lottery ticket, remember: some people still win."
2) "There are many great career options in law outside of large law firms." He includes "midsize or small law firms, federal government (e.g., the DOJ Honors Program), state government, clerkships (federal and state), fellowships, non-profits / public interest, and in-house (yes, even for new graduates). And that’s without even touching upon the many career alternatives for attorneys — all the things you can do with a law degree that don’t involve practicing law" after looking at placement data from Cornell Law, of all places (a school whose graduates are hurting badly).
3) "What else are you going to do with yourself?"
4) "Not everyone graduates with debt (or with as much debt as some people think)."
5) You get to put “Esq.” after your name.

Knut has an excellent take down of Lat’s law school apologist piece, so go over to First Tier Reality to read all of it. I really have nothing more to add to Knut’s rebuttal. The only thing I disagree with is that Knut believes Lat and Crittendon at the National Jurist have good intentions. No. No, they do not. Crittendon is a shill whose legal rag depends on the sponsorship and advertising of disgraceful toilets such as Seton Hall and Cooley. David Lat lives in a privileged world built on superficial factors such as the knowing the who’s who in Biglaw, rankings, and being able to put “Esq.” next to his name. These guys are too ignorant and elitist to have any good intentions besides self-serving their huge egos.

Regular readers of this blog know that I am not a fan of Above the Law and rarely stop by the site unless another scam blog or BIDER reader alerts me to an interesting post. I have never been a fan of Above The Law because the site has always been nothing more than an elitist Biglaw gossip and rumor mill ready to humiliate the next law student or lawyer who sends a tactless email. Laughing at other people’s misfortunes has never really been my thing, even when my life seemed pretty good at a T14. Above the Law encompasses everything that I’ve ever disliked about law school and the legal profession. As Knut pointed out in his post and many times before, Above the Law is completely out of touch with the majority of law school graduates and lawyers. They have their heads too far deep into the insignificant daily dramas of Biglaw to care about anything else.

Above the Law’s saving grace is Elie Mystal who continues to have his wages garnished to pay back the $150k he owes to Harvard Law. He occasionally reports on the law school scam and is the most sympathetic of the Above the Law writers to unemployed graduates and student loan victims.

I could care less with most of the gossip Above the Law publishes daily. I just think it’s a shame that one of the most widely read legal publications on the web is filled with so much immaturity, elitist (oftentimes racist) comments, and posts that aren’t based in reality for the majority of the legal profession or the world for that matter. It makes me very thankful that the scamblogging community exists as a much needed reality based legal community to counter all the lies and false hope out there being peddled by the mainstream legal media.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pear Tree Greetings Giveaway

Have you ever received a hand-written note from someone that you saved, because it meant so much to you? That you pull out every now and again, because it brings a smile to your face. Or, is there someone you feel that could really use a note from you right now? A friend that’s going through a rough time in a relationship, letting her know you’re there for her. Your mom, just an out of the blue card telling her how much she means to you. Your husband, thanking him for supporting you, loving you, and being the husband that he is. A blogger friend that you’ve maybe never met in person but just want to tell them how much their friendship means to you. There is a special power of a hand-written, personalized note card. Not only does it mean so much to the recipient, it’s an amazing feeling when you drop that card in the mail.

In honor of these special moments, Pear Tree Greetings is giving one of you a free set of personalized note cards (up to 16 cards) from their new collection.
Who is Pear Tree Greetings? Pear Tree Greetings is a fun, fresh and affordable personalized stationery company that offers Birth Announcements, Moving Announcements, Photo Cards,
Baby Shower Thank You Cards and more, all on 100 lb matte card stock and truly affordable prices!As an additional gift, throughout the month of July, enjoy Free Shipping at Pear Tree Greetings! Just spend $29 on your purchase of Birth Announcements, Moving Announcements, Photo Cards, Baby Shower Thank You Cards and more!

Use code PEARJUL10. Shop Pear Tree Greetings.


To win a free set of personalized note cards (up to 16 cards) from their new collection...

Mandatory Entry: Visit Pear Tree Greetings and comment here on a product that you really like.

Bonus Entries:
1) Follow BIDER and let me know in the comments (one entry)
2) Comment at my Greensations and Youthful Trends review about a product you'd like to try from the Greensations site (one entry)
3) Comment at my ThermaPak review about a product you'd like to try from the ThermaPak site (one entry).

Contest ends July 30, 2010 at 5pm EST.

Cool Down Your Laptop With ThermaPak!

I use my laptop more than any other electronic that I own (including cell phones). I'm always on my laptop working, writing, emailing, or blogging. I use my laptop whether I'm at home, in my backyard, at the airport, train station, or coffee shop. Most of you probably do the same. Naturally, when you don't have a desk available and your laptop becomes overheated, a burning laptop on your lap is not only hot and uncomfortable but it's bad for your computer.

The ThermaPak Heat Shift Pad provides an environmentally-friendly solution. The best part is that the heat shift pad doesn't require any power, refrigeration, or noise like most other laptop coolers. Because my old laptop battery only provides about an hour of usage, I really like that I can use the heat shift pad while conserving battery life when my laptop isn't plugged in.

The pad comes in 13, 15, and 17 inch rectangular sizes in black, pink, and silver for MacBooks. I received the 15 inch in pink which retails for $29.99 at I absolutely love the pink color. Besides being aesthetically pleasing, I was surprised at how lightweight the pad is (only 23 ounces), which is great for travelers because it is very portable.

Most importantly, the pad really works! Just place your laptop on top of the heat pad and that's it! The pad immediately begins to cool down your laptop. To be more scientific, the pad is filled with organic cooling crystals, also known as Phase Change Material (P.C.M). The crystals start out in a solid state. The heat given off by the laptop liquefies the crystals that absorb and dissipate the heat. This technology appeared to have cooled down my laptop by 8 to 10 degrees. The pad goes back to its original solid state when it cools down.

I was very happy with the overall design, flexibility, and effectiveness of the heat pad. I will use it from now on both at home and on the go. It's lightweight and compact enough to fit in most backpacks and laptop bags. Speaking of laptop bags, ThermaPak also sells HeatShift Laptop Bags that uses the same cooling system as its heat shift pad.

You can buy a ThermaPak at online and at retailers nationwide.

Also, if you want to trade in your tired, NOISY, and old laptop cooler for a ThermaPak, the company is offering an upgrade program where you can do just that! Visit ThermaPak's Competitive Upgrade Program page for more details!

Thank you to ThermaPak for sending me their awesome and very useful product to review.

Finally! A Money Back Guarantee, but Not for Law School

Lansing Community College is offering what we've all been asking for, a money-back guarantee--but on a 6 week program to become call-center specialists, pharmacy technicians, quality inspectors and computer machinists. The total cost of the program? $2,400. Still, I admire their intention to do right by students. You know that schools like SeTTTon Hall would never offer such a program, because they would never want to put their money where their stats are, in the TTTrash.

This article, which was forwarded to me by Tiger, offers other insight (i.e. the shit we've been harping on for the last 9 months) such as this:

The real question that families, institutions of higher learning, and lawmakers will need to confront soon is this: Have we as a society dramatically oversold the financial benefits of higher education? It's hard to argue that that's not the case. Back in February, it was reported that the $800,000 increase in lifetime earnings that The College Board and other institutions claimed was associated with a bachelor's degree had been quietly reduced to just $450,000 based on further research. Yeah, sorry about that -- and don't even think about asking for a refund.

Meanwhile, student debt loads are exploding upward along with default rates and, as I reported Thursday on DailyFinance, during the first four months of 2009, fewer than half of college graduates under 25 were working at jobs that required a degree -- and that doesn't include the huge percentage of students who drop out. Marty Nemko of US News & World Report has noted that "among college freshmen who graduated in the bottom 40 percent of their high school class, 76 of 100 won't earn a diploma, even if given 8 1/2 years."
And this is without even mentioning graduate school. Today, I was passing a girl and her friend on the street and I heard her say, "Law School." I did a 180 and chased her down. I spent about 40 minutes telling her not to go. She was shocked to hear that lawyers weren't earning what she is making now. Spread the news far and wide. If college didn't set you up financially, the way you think it should have, then MORE school (or a glorified extended college education offered by Law School) will definitely take you from zero equity, to negative equity. You will be worse off if you just "try it" so that you can say you're a lawyer at the end of the day. It's not glamorous. It doesn't pay well. And it will leave you up to your neck in late payment notices.

It's simple math, kids! Zero is better than -$120K. Or, if you took out loans for college, -$50K is better than -$170K. Especially if the chances of making more than $40K/year are slim to nil.

So, back to this money back thing. I think it's a great idea for this sort of program, but I really won't be happy until Law School close due to lowered enrollment. That will make me happy. They will never offer these programs because there is no way to predict or help your alumnae find jobs where there are none.

So, I'll just hit the streets and continue to spread the news until my dream becomes reality. Oh yah, and I love this line from the article, which epitomizes the scam we've all bought into:

Can you think of any other product that is marketed as an investment for which people will shell out six figures with no guarantee of anything -- and absolutely no recourse if the product (education) does produce the intended result (a well-paying job)?
Nope. I can't.

See full article from DailyFinance:

(written by Angel, posted by HardKnocks)

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