Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Guest Post from a Recent Graduate

To the class of 2011:

It was not so long ago that you and I were among the over 40,000 graduates of the class of 2011.  In fact it has been about 9 months and I, like most of you, recently received an email from my CSO office asking me to complete the post graduate employment survey.  I remembered back to a presentation my CSO director gave first year stating our school's median graduate salary was $63,000 and that we boasted an impressive 86% rate of employment upon graduation.  During the presentation, I noticed a footnote on the bottom of the Power Point stating the stats were based on a 35% response rate.  I raised my hands, pointed it out, was brushed off and the footnote was removed from the document in the Symplicity library.

This was my first indication something was wrong.  Soon, I discovered blogs like this one and began to spread the word to other law students and 0L's.  As I read this blog and others, I learned that the rosy picture law schools paint about employment is affected by the low response rate to the graduate employment surveys and the fact that the "winners" of the law school game are more likely to report their salaries. (according to Law School Transparency, my schools response rate looks to be under 20% last year)  Also, since there are few winners, CSO may contact them more aggressively then the grads tending bar and serving lattes.

What if we all, bad, worse and ugly, reported our employment situation in detail to our CSO offices?

If you are a graduate of 2011 or know one, please ask them to complete the survey below and email it to their career services offices IMMEDIATELY!

Are you employed
How many hours per week?
How much money do you bring home in a month?
What are your monthly student loan payments?
What payment plan are you on? (standard, extended, graduated, IBR)
Are your loans in deferment, forbearance or default?  (If yes Which)
Is your job temporary or permanent? (If temporary when will it end)
Does your job provide health insurance?
Does your job require a J.D?
What do you actually do for work?  (i.e. Skadden litigator or sandwich artist)

Best of luck to you all, I know as you do that it's rough out there.


I'd like to run my own little tally of where May 2011 grads are today.  Drop a note as to what you are doing currently in the comments section.  Other scambloggers are doing the same, maybe we can come up with our own sample survey results.  Make sure to answer the above questions and post anonymously!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

LegalMatch: Grease Trap for Solos

I received a great tip on a scam that all solos should be aware of--LegalMatch.  Apparently, according to my tipster, he was contacted by Merrill with an offer of client referrals about 2 years ago.  Now, all attorneys know that you're not supposed to pay a referral fee--but lawyers do.  Generally it's a percentage of what you earn after you receive it, or the referral agency collects the money from the client and takes their cut off the top before they pay you.   So, when he was contacted by LegalMatch because they had a need for real estate attorneys in New York.  He was sent the following email:

Your inquiry was sent over to me for reply. You expressed some interest in our attorney-client matching organization. In order for us to consider any attorney in any given area, we must first have a sufficient number of clients for them to serve in their area. This is done by first getting the answers to the following:
So if you would please answer the following I can determine whether such factors exist and move forward with you from there.
1) What are the main areas of law you handle? (list in order of preference);
2) What states are you licensed to practice in?
3) Do you limit the counties that you take clients from? (If so list counties);
4) Do you practice full or part time?
5) Are you solo or partnered firm?
Sounds harmless, right?  After sending in his answers, he was then set up with a test.  Yes, they sent him a test.  The email was as follows:
I spoke with Director ___________ and he has not as yet decided to select any attorney out of the several he has interviewed over the past few weeks for the New York Area. And so he authorized me to give you access to our Real Estate Litigation clients to determine whether it will be worthwhile to schedule you to for a teleconference with him. I've included New Jersey as well. 
Would you please evaluate at least twenty (20) of the these clients. This will be done by way of having you log on to an Evaluation account. You would have to speak with the Director to determine whether he could present you for more practice areas.
The evaluation account is where you review cases that we have in your area. Our model is to limit the number of attorneys in each area so we do not overwhelm clients with too many choices and can ensure the success of those attorneys who are selected by our Attorney Review Committee to represent those clients. In order to review our current clients please follow the instructions infra: 
Please go to and on the right hand side, below the Supreme Court pillars, click on "Member Attorney Log In" then type in lower case one word "___________" for user name and password "clients" 
Get your pen and paper and write 3 columns: Yes, No and ? 
Once you log in you well see client cases on the left side. Click on Family Law and this shall give a listing of all cases we have in your region. Next: then click on the first case at the top of the list. This shall open up the description of the case. from there evaluate the case and answer the question "would I be inclined or disinclined to engage this case?" If yes, place a mark in the Yes column, if not inclined, place a mark in the No column. Once you complete review click Next at the upper center then review the next nineteen (19) cases while keeping track of how many you would be inclined versus disinclined to engage.
This will determine whether it would be worth while for me to schedule a teleconference with my Director. 
NOTE: Some clients may make the mistake of entering their contact info into the body of the facts. They are expecting a LegalMatch lawyer, so please do not call them if you see such. 
Thank you.
So, he proceeded to evaluate the cases, which took lots of time.   After doing that he was told that he was under consideration for becoming part of LegalMatch, but he needed to go through a selection process and be considered by their selection committee.  He started to get really excited.  Hell, he'd gladly fork over a third for all of the guaranteed business.  He was even directed to a website that showed how much traffic LegalMatch gets verses other referral services.

He then had no less than 5 conference calls with a Director as part of the selection process.  Each time, he was told that the pool was slimming down and he was still in the running.  Several of these calls took longer than a half hour and he was salivating at the mouth for this unique opportunity.

FINALLY, he heard from the Director with the good news.  He was being made an offer.  He was selected as THE CANDIDATE for their opening in Real Estate Litigation in New York.  He thought it was the answer to his dreams.... after all, getting clients in the door is the number one challenge in running a solo practice.  Well, first you have to know what you're doing.  But it is the second hardest thing.  Then he received the following email to confirm his offer:

Candidate Membership Application—Confirmation Email

Membership Applicant Name:      ________________, Esq.
Area(s) of Practice/Client Type:   Real Estate
Geographical/Client Region: State of New York. The attorney, shall have access to all Real Estate client matters coming to LegalMatch only from within the specified client allocation areas, and seek to engage those who he deems appropriate for Practice’s goals and objectives. 
Membership Term  and  Fee:     Three (3) year Membership for $73,795 per year, only if  The Committee selects attorney.

Upon Committee Approval Fee Shall Be Paid As Follows: If attorney is selected by LegalMatch’s Attorney Review Committee, membership shall be extended and $6149 shall be paid followed by membership orientation, creation of home page and the scheduling of attorney to commence review of client matters and sending responses thereto, followed by thirty-five (35) subsequent installments of $6149.

§1 Reply to this email by typing in §2 infra: “I confirm the details infra/above” in the body of your e-mail reply.  Once I receive your reply, we will overnight to you your Applicant Packet which includes a sample profile, Attorney Membership Agreement, and other helpful membership tools for you.  By confirming this email you agree to have the $500 Application Fee charged via the billing method you provided and move forward in the application process.  If you are not approved for Membership, your $500 Application Fee will be refunded in its entirety.  I understand that an Attorney Membership Agreement will be forthcoming for my review and that this understanding of parameters above does not constitute a formal offer of membership with LegalMatch.  LegalMatch reserves the right to accept, or reject, my application based on their strict eligibility requirements.
Wow and wow.  Here's the real kicker:  they don't guarantee you any business at all!  He nearly vomited in his mouth (I'm using artistic license of course) and never wanted to hear from them again.  To pay that amount of money up front is insanity!

To add insult to injury, he got an email this week with the subject line "Attorney Needed":

I am assisting a group of potential clients that have completed an intake and are ready to retain an attorney. I realize your time is limited. Are you available this week for a 10-15 minute conference call?
Please advise.
Yep, LegalMatch again.

Don't waste your time with their nonsense.  If you have $75K to hand over to this grease trap  then you probably don't need the business.  

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