Friday, April 30, 2010

It's Giveaway Time!

What do GE, Trader Joe's and MTV have in common? They are wildly successful large companies that that started during hard economic times. Hardknocks and I have been adamant in telling our readers that this is the time to start a business, preferably doing something that you love. I, for one, am practicing shitlaw again. You can knock it, but the facts are that I enjoy the hustle, the client contact, the responsibility and the challenge. I'm just not making any money, which is a minor detail for now. But maybe, with time, my business will grow.

But you don't have to wait! We are offering 100 free 4x6" glossy, full-color, 2-sided advertising postcards. You must be 18 or older and live in the United States. You come up with the design and the message and send it out to potential customers and watch your business grow exponentially. is sponsoring this giveaway and we thank them. I wish they would give me some free post cards... (hint! hint!)

In order to win, please tell me what type of business your started during the recession and what do you love about your new business. Post a comment and make sure to become a follower and/or leave your email address so that I can contact you. You can also email me if you'd like to remain anonymous. However, I will be posting your answer if you win.

I will check back on this post for the winner on May 6, 2010 at 6:00 p.m. I can't wait to see what my readers are doing!

I hope you choose a better design than this one.... They look cheesy as hell.

Attend Drexel Law for Free

Ten law school lemmings in the top 5 percent of their 1L class can transfer to TTTT school Drexel Law totally free for their second and third years. Right, like anyone in the top 5 percent of their 1L class would want to transfer to Drexel rather than to a tier 1 or even tier 2 institution. The guy in the video sounds more like a used car salesman than the assistant vice president of advancement at a law school. Drexel isn't even worth attending for free because you'll still be wasting your time when you could make more dropping out after your first year at a TTTT and getting a job that pays more than document review or shitlaw, the only two jobs you'll get (if you're lucky) after graduating from Drexel Law.

Read more about Drexel and their stats at Nando's place, Third Tier Reality.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

HuffPo Comments on Law Degree More Interesting Than the Article

Hattip to Exposing the Law School Scam and Homeless Lawyer Posting From Library for posting a link to a Huffington Post article, Is The Foolproof Law Degree Becoming an Endangered Species?. I'll post the article in its entirety since it is fairly brief:

What if law school is no longer as lucrative as it used to be? And what if procuring funding to obtain a juris doctorate is akin to taking out a subprime loan?

Law firms are cutting salaries and hiring fewer graduates, reports Ameet Sachdev in the Chicago Tribune, which means that a law degree may not be a foolproof way to get a high-paying job after graduation. In addition, ongoing tuition hikes on already-overpriced law school degrees make the prospect of unemployment (and loan repayment) after graduation even more dire. Sachdev writes:

With large numbers of unemployed or underemployed lawyers who borrowed heavily to pay for their educations, legal educators face growing skepticism about the value of a law degree.

Law schools are seeing more applicants than ever before, which only exacerbates the situation. Northwestern Law, for example, only sent 55.9 percent of its graduating class to the largest firms in 2009. As its dean David Van Zandt tells Sachdev, "big law firms will never go back to hiring graduates in droves."

What do you think? If you have gone to/are in law school, what has your experience been?

I recommend that all of our readers comment on the post if you have a HuffPo account, and even recommend to the other commenters to visit the law school scam blogs or create one of their own. Here are some of the comments that I'm totally copying from Exposing the Law School Scam, but you can go to HuffPo to read more. The comments are great and I wish more of these people would create blogs of their own to spread the word. We're the only ones causing the media to start asking questions about the value of a law degree.

colariz 51 minutes ago

Racist Harvard Law Student Needs a History Lesson (Updated)

Those of you who read Above the Law or other law school scam sites have probably read about the Harvard Law School 3L who made this racist and sexist statement in an email that went viral:
I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent. I could also obviously be convinced that by controlling for the right variables, we would see that they are, in fact, as intelligent as white people under the same circumstances. The fact is, some things are genetic. African Americans tend to have darker skin. Irish people are more likely to have red hair. (Now on to the more controversial:) Women tend to perform less well in math due at least in part to prenatal levels of testosterone, which also account for variations in mathematics performance within genders. This suggests to me that some part of intelligence is genetic, just like identical twins raised apart tend to have very similar IQs and just like I think my babies will be geniuses and beautiful individuals whether I raise them or give them to an orphanage in Nigeria. I don’t think it is that controversial of an opinion to say I think it is at least possible that African Americans are less intelligent on a genetic level, and I didn’t mean to shy away from that opinion at dinner.
I've read comments on other sites from people who are rightfully outraged and offended by this email. Let's not kid ourselves, whoever this person is got into Harvard for a reason and would fit right in Biglaw or another white-shoe firm. I've come across a fair amount of arrogant and tactless bigots and chauvinists in the law, so despite how it disgusts me to read these comments, I can't say I'm terribly surprised. The world of Mad Men still exists to a lesser extent only because people like the Harvard 3L face certain repercussions for being blunt about their real feelings about minorities and (other) women. She'll still have a much better chance of getting a six-figure job most of us so don't think this email going viral will in any way ruin her life in the privileged, upper class, and extremely narrow-minded world that ensured her a spot at Harvard. I'm fairly certain her admittance into Harvard had very little to do with her intelligence or world view.

Speaking of racism and sexism, I think it is important to remember those who have proven people like the Harvard 3L wrong time and again throughout history rather than focus on one ignorant Ivy League law student. One of those people is Dorothy Height who died last week at the age of 98. She was the president of the National Council of Negro Women for 41 years and fought against what she had called the "triple bind of racism, sexism and poverty" her entire life:

Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, told The Times in an interview, "Dorothy understood from the beginning the importance of both the civil rights movement and the women's rights movement and how they're intertwined. She's always tried to keep people together and united."

The daughter of a nurse and a building contractor, Height was born March 24, 1912, in Richmond, Va., and grew up in Rankin, Pa., where she earned top grades in school.

After graduating from high school at 16, she was accepted to Barnard College in New York but was told she had to delay her entrance a year because the school had met its annual quota of two African American students.

Instead she entered New York University, which had no such quota. In four years she earned bachelor's and master's degrees in social work.


Under her leadership, the National Council of Negro Women offered job training, set up a school breakfast program in Mississippi, registered voters and pushed to ensure that African Americans were included in the census. In the 1980s, Height also led African American Women for Reproductive Rights, an abortion rights group.
Height retired from the YWCA in 1977 but continued to lead the National Council of Negro Women for two more decades. The council celebrated Height's birthday every year with an "Uncommon Height" gala fundraiser.

On her 90th birthday in 2002, well-wishers such as Oprah Winfrey and boxing promoter Don King helped raise $5million, enough to pay off the mortgage on the organization's national headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.

In 2004, President Bush awarded Height the Congressional Gold Medal for her many decades of service. Inscribed on the medal is a classic Height quote: "We African American women seldom do just what we want to do, but always do what we have to do. I am grateful to have been in a time and place where I could be a part of what was needed."

: H/T to the Jobless Juris Doctor for the update. Gawker has exposed the Harvard 3L as Stephanie Grace. She graduated from Princeton in 2007 with a degree in Sociology, is on Harvard Law Review, and will clerk for Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, also known as the cow porn judge. More proof that idiots can get into Ivy League schools and have a successful legal career. Oh, what a world we live in.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Revenge of the (Alleged) Deadbeats"

A BIDER fan tipped me off to an article appearing in the New York Times about a former bloodsucker turned avenger. Mr. Katz, a former debt collector, saw the error in his ways when a creditor ruined his credit over a fraudulent bill. He sued and won.

Since then, he has spearheaded the movement cleverly called "Revenge of the (alleged) deadbeats" by opening a school in Tuscon where he lectures debtors on the fine points of fighting debt. I would take it too if it didn't cost money.

A primary focus of his education is how to capitalize on creditors' unscrupulous debt collection practices: such as cell phone harassment and water-boarding. The number of lawsuits is amazing considering how many of our fellow debtors lay down and play dead:

In fact, 8,287 federal lawsuits were filed citing violations of the act in 2009, a 60 percent rise over the previous year, according to WebRecon, a site that tracks collection-related litigation and the most litigious consumers and lawyers on behalf of debt collectors.On Wednesday, the Supreme Court made it even easier for consumers to use the courts to fight debt collectors, ruling that collectors cannot be shielded from suits by claiming they made a mistake in interpreting the law.

I am so happy that this movement is gaining speed. The fleecing of the middle, soon to be lower class, must stop. It is services such as Mr. Katz's that make Americans into educated DEBTORS and not just consumers.

A Minneapolis Attorney is conducting boot camps in conquering debt:

Peter Barry, a Minneapolis trial lawyer, is so bullish on the future of debt collection litigation that he holds several “boot camps” each year to share his secrets with other lawyers who want in on the action. If the debtor wins a court case under the act, the debt collector must pay the lawyer’s fees.
The next boot camp is being held in early May in San Francisco, at a cost of $2,495 a person for two and a half days of instruction.

Once again, if only I could afford it. I do think that giving Mr. Barry $2,495 is money well spent if you can avoid a lifetime of harassment and salvage your credit score. I would venture that I am not alone in my use of credit cards after law school to float myself until I started my clerkship in September. After all, when one graduates from law school he has arrived, has he not? We all know that THIS lawyer has not arrived (as in myself). As a consequence, I still have approximately $6000 in credit card debt that I have carried since I was 24.

Actually, I would like to share a sad--but true--story with you. When I was in college, I was a victim of the classic bait and switch. A tactic employed by colleges to draw students into enrolling, wherein a great financial package is available for freshman year and discontinued the year thereafter. I read about this in the book No Sucker Left Behind, which I am going to review and offer in a giveaway soon.

So, to pay for my college education I too engaged in unscrupulous practices. In addition to working 40 hours a week at 3 different jobs, I also wrote papers for people. I know it's wrong, but I was good at it and needed the money. So, my rate was $25/page and more in rush jobs.

I have been MIA lately because I have been working on litigation involving a partnership. I filed a motion and it was 45 pages long.
Now.... stay with me. I am charging a discounted rate of $60/hour because it's a friend and when you start out a practice you are eager for the money. For writing the motion, I charged the client $870.10. I was happy because that is more money than I have seen in a while. Then I realized that my college rate for the same "paper" would have been $1125. Why did I go to law school again? Oh yah, to earn $254.90 less than I did in the nineties. This goes under the category of "sad, but true."

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

More Rankings from the ABA. Who Cares?

A fan of our blog sent along an email they received from the New York Bar Association. This is what - we'll call our fan, Unemployed, Esq - had to say:
I don't even know why I opened the below email since I usually delete anything from the NY Bar but I accidentally clicked this and was like WTF?!?!? Why do I care about the US News and World Report ranking law firms at the local, state, and national level. SERIOUSLY? This is the biggest concern right now? Why does this matter when nobody can even get a job? I stopped reading it after the second paragraph but I just had to share.

Thanks for sharing your outrage, Unemployed. I was about to write a rant for this but you pretty much said it all. The New York Bar Association clearly cares two shits about the thousands of laid off attorneys and unemployed law school graduates in their state. You said it, Unemployed. Who cares about rankings when we have an unemployment crisis to deal with?

Is this all the law school lemmings and the ABA really care about? Rankings at the local level?! Who needs that kind of information besides the law school lemmings who will brag about getting into the 2nd highest ranked law firm in Podunk? And what about pretending that they don't know why the law school rankings are flawed? As if the ABA and law schools are innocent of helping produce these rankings. This just looks like another opportunity for the ABA to work with USNWR and Best Lawyers to put out falsified information about employment statistics and earnings at law firms. The letter is posted below. Thoughts?

Office of the President

Dear Unemployed, Esq.:

I am writing to follow-up on an e-mail I sent you on February 17, 2010, to advise that the American Bar Association adopted a resolution sponsored by the New York State Bar Association directing the ABA to examine efforts to rank law firms and law schools. A number of people have said that they did not see the earlier e-mail so I am writing again. You can read the earlier e-mail by clicking on

The resolution requiring the ABA to study law firm rankings arose out of the efforts by US News and World Report working with Best Lawyers to publish for the first time a ranking of law firms at the local, state and national level. The ranking would be like the current ranking done by US News for law schools with law firms being ranked as one, two and three on down in each community.

It continues to come to my attention that many of the law schools are concerned that there is a significant random error in law school rankings based upon a flawed methodology. Our concern is that if the same problems of validity, reliability and volatility in ranking law schools occur in the ranking of law firms, the reputations of law firms will be damaged in their community if they are unfairly ranked in relationship to others with the danger of present and future clients being misled.

The proposed rankings by US News and Best are based in part upon information to be provided by law firms at the request of US News including client lists, how partner compensation is calculated, how fees are calculated, the size of matters handled and other otherwise confidential or proprietary information.

Law firms can decide whether to provide information for ranking. We continue to urge caution in deciding whether to do so. There is a choice to be made. Law firms may choose not to submit information and advise their clients and the public that they are not participating in any ranking program until the completion of the ABA study. It is anticipated that the ABA will speak out and provide guidance on this issue based upon the Resolution referred to at the outset of this letter. The New York State Bar Association shall continue to encourage the ABA to do so expeditiously so that lawyers throughout the country can be guided by its findings. We anticipate that we will be joined by other State Bar Associations in this effort.

I take this opportunity to thank past State Bar President, A. Vincent Buzard, and other members of our Association who took part in our efforts to bring this before the American Bar Association and who continue to work with the ABA on this important matter.

Best regards,

Michael E. Getnick
President, New York State Bar Association

Getnick Livingston Atkinson & Priore, LLP

Monday, April 26, 2010

T5 or Bust?

According to one of our readers who has worked as a lawyer for nearly 15 years, in the new jobless era, even being in the T14 means getting your resume thrown in the trash. The comment belonged in "comments that should have been posts" category so I'm posting it here for all to read.
I have been a lawyer for about 15 years. The landscape of this profession has changed enormously and there is no elastic effect from the current economic recession. When the economy recovers (5-7 years from now), most of the legal jobs that have been lost won't be coming back. I graduated from a T30 school and today I am a partner at a boutique firm. I can tell you that many firms will not be hiring entry level associates in these times. I receive dozens of resumes from T14 grads and they all wind up in the trash can. If you are applying to law school, DO NOT attend any school outside of T5. Attending a school ranked outside the T5 will be a terrible gamble of your life and future. If you are a college graduate reading this, I know you will be too arrogant to heed my warning and you believe you will be the lone exception to the doom that awaits you. A few years ago, I would feel sorry for you. With the proliferation of these lawscam blogs, you have been warned. I personally will not pity any buffoon that attends law school in the past 2 years or next decade.

Thank you for your honest and astute observations. The very few who benefit from the system will never admit that thousands have wasted their youth and what could have been their life savings on a useless degree. Some of us had to learn the hard way but at least we have the excuse of not being warned before the economy tanked. I also want to remind readers that plenty of my classmates who found biglaw jobs were laid off in less than a year and haven't been able to find any type of employment since and will probably never be able to reenter biglaw again. Job security no longer exists for our generation and there is no reason for companies to employ entry-level graduates who will expect a higher wage because of their useless degree when there is an endless line of new college graduates, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers waiting to be rehired at slave wages.

Another reader made this comment:

Heres some food for thought.

My roommate is a 1L at a tier 2, well respected local school in California. He is in the top 2% of his class. He did not get an interview for an unpaid internship with the local city attorney's office. He received a form letter rejection.

I am a militant scam blog follower and member of the movement, and even I was blown away by this. Please spread the word......
Thank you for your support and kind words. Unfortunately for your friend, he will likely remain unemployed until he finds an entry-level job unrelated to the law. I've mentioned this in a post several months ago, but a close friend of mine graduated from a T14 in the top 25% of his class, has several published law review articles, and has been unemployed for nearly a year. There is no room for Tier 2 graduates when there are top legal scholars from the best schools living on welfare.

Some People Still Don't Get It

Links that were sent to me over the weekend indicate that America's youth continue to hold out hope that the economy will recover by the time they graduate and that internships still lead to full-time jobs when spending $120k and three years in law school isn't good enough anymore. Does anyone take news like this seriously anymore or do they think they will beat the odds?

An example of this is William & Mary. The school saw an increase in applications across the board at all of their schools this year. Looks like we'll be getting more visitors and followers to our blog in the next few years if this is the forecast for what is happening at most schools. There is no way in hell the economy will improve in three years to give the millions of us out of work now and the thousands planning to graduate in the next three years a full-time job. Not gonna happen.

The William & Mary Law School saw a 26-percent increase in applications to the J.D. program, receiving nearly 6,300 applications for slightly more than 200 seats in the Class of 2013. The Law School joins the Office of Undergraduate Admissions as well as other graduate and professional programs at the College in reporting significant increases in applications for next year's incoming classes.

The School of Education is reporting an increase of more than 20 percent in graduate applications. Admissions officials in graduate programs in Arts & Sciences also report an increase of eight percent compared to last year. At William & Mary's Mason School of Business, applications to the MBA program are up 12 percent compared to the same time frame from last year.

"Whether its graduate and professional programs or undergraduate studies, we're delighted that so many people want to join us at William & Mary," said President Taylor Reveley.

This news from the graduate programs comes a few months after admissions officials reported that undergraduate applications topped 12,500, a record number for the fifth year in a row.

I don't know where William & Mary is ranked in USNWR and I really don't care. I think it's a T1 institution and it looks like a lovely place to spend a few years, but that's besides the point. All anyone needs to know for the next ten years is that any institution outside of the T14 probably isn't worth the gamble. When T14 graduates are graduating without any job offers, one can make an educated guess that the majority of graduates outside of the T14 will not get a good return on their three year investment, meaning they will not find a biglaw or government job to pay off their six figure debt. The only exception to this are students who have connections to get a job or rich parents paying their tuition.

Then I came across this story at WalletPop about a 36-year-old husband, father, and business graduate who left his lucrative and intellectually stimulating investment banking job to attend Cardozo Law in 2007. Now he is graduating with no job offer other than an internship which he thinks will lead to a fulfilling long-term career in the law. Good luck with that.
When I got a job at an investment bank right out business school, I was brought in to analyze the impact of Napster on the music industry," recalls the 36-year-old. "That was a fascinating topic. The discourse going around this -- how is culture made, disseminated and controlled -- fascinated me."

By 2007, he started at Benjamin N. Cardoza School of Law in Manhattan at a cost of $40,000 a year. While he remains as enamored of the field as before, finding a balance between being a fulltime student, a husband of eight years and a dad of now three kids has been tough. From morning until night, "it's always a balance act that I usually fail but I try to hold up my end as much as possible," he said.

It's become even harder since 2009. To the surprise of many, the legal profession has been hit hard by the economic meltdown. Law school graduates have had to scramble to find jobs. To improve his chances, Abramowitz, president of the Intellectual Property Society from 2008-09, held an internship last fall and is working in another this spring.

"A lot of firms are not hiring straight out of school," he explains. "[With internships] they want to build a certain amount of trust in you and they want you to be more familiar with their operations and systems so if they do take you on full time, you're ready to hit the ground running. And they don't have to extend time paying you and training you at the same time."

Set to graduate in June, Abramowitz remains optimistic that all his planning will provide a solid foundation for his family. "The goal is to build something for the long haul, for 30, 40, 50 years -- something that is fulfilling for me and something that is sustainable and supportive of my family," he said. "If one or two years or three years are a little rocky, OK. Hopefully you end on the plus side of the ledger."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Good Idea or Another Ploy to Get College Students to Attend a TTT?

I hadn't realized until recently that Massachusetts was home to so many non-accredited law schools. I blogged last month about the opening of The University of Massachusetts School of Law at Dartmouth. Now I've come across an article about a new program with the American College of History and Legal Studies and the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover:

So you're a community college student working full time and looking for a path to law school.

A college designed for you is close to opening, pending approval by Gov. John Lynch of a bill that cleared the House on Wednesday. The American College of History and Legal Studies would enroll students for their final two years of college and award bachelor's degrees in one field: history and legal studies. Classes would meet in Salem three nights a week, and the $10,000 tuition - modest for any baccalaureate institution - would be cut in half for students awarded a scholarship.

The college guarantees students with high grades admission to the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, and it allows high achievers to shave a year from their studies by combining their final year of college with their first year of law school. It wasn't a difficult arrangement to make. The dean of the independent law school, Lawrence Velvel, is the founder and dean of the new college.

Velvel began work on ACHLS after seeing bright students shut out of the legal profession because of a modest economic background or youthful inattention to their studies.

"A lot of people think that they cannot go to law school, that there is no way they will be admitted," Velvel said. "It gives a chance to people who otherwise academically wouldn't have the chance."

Actually sounds like a pretty good plan at first glance, doesn't it? Lower tuition rates and the ability to finish law school in two years instead of three. What the article doesn't mention is that the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover is a non-ABA accredited school. Essentially anyone can get into this school if they want to attend. Since it is non-accredited, LSAT is not required as part of the school's admissions criteria.

I'm not accusing Velvel of not having good intentions for this low cost college and I'm no fan of the LSAT, the ABA, or its accreditation standards. But I can't support the idea of anyone wasting money on a non-accredited law school when the legal industry is imploding and jobs continue to be outsourced. Despite that most academics were high achieving students who attended elite universities, for some reason they believe they are doing low achieving students a favor by allowing them to attend low ranked schools when perhaps they'd be better suited at learning a trade instead. Learning history is important, but most people aren't meant to get a JD or a Ph.D in history. High achievers from lower income families will get the financial aid and scholarships to attend state schools for around the same amount ACHLS charges for tuition. For those who did not excel in school, getting a certificate from a fourth tier school in a subject like history will not help them find a job in the real world.

Attending a third-tier ABA accredited law school is bad enough but if your grades and LSAT scores are so low that you have to attend a non-accredited school, it's probably best for you to abandon the idea of becoming a lawyer. The best place to educate yourself and learn about history and the law is the library. You have thousands of books at your disposal for free. You'll learn more in a year reading a book a week at your local library than a year in any law school classroom. Don't waste even $10,000 towards a degree that won't help you find a job. All I can say to anyone about to attend a non-accredited law school is to run the other way while you still can.

UPDATE: I was curious as to how much Velvel makes for running an unaccredited law school. According to a Boston Business Journal article from 2006, Velvel made $268,985. Nice work if you can get it.

Hotman Paris, Esq. is Honest

about gaming a corrupt legal system in Indonesia. I don't know whether I should be disgusted or just shrug my shoulders. It's not like any of this is surprising or doesn't happen here. At least Hotman Paris Hutapea is openly corrupt, doesn't act like being a lawyer means having to have any ethics, and doesn't hide his wealth and pretend he's a good person and philanthropist like most of the law partners and national politicians pretend to be in this country. And he provides regular gossip fodder to the Indonesians. He's giving back by keeping the masses entertained as Indonesia's Paris Hilton and Kwame Kilpatrick rolled into one.

The New York Times did a profile on Hotman today. Did he change his name to Hotman Paris after becoming a lawyer or was he born to be as slimy as his name sounds?

He is a regular on television gossip shows that link him to one starlet or another. Colleagues may prudently choose to drive conservative cars, to court at least. But Mr. Hutapea hops into his new red Ferrari California — the first one sold in Indonesia, for $630,000 — and parks it right in front of court buildings. To his critics, the car and its owner are a prime symbol of the cancer infecting the legal system; to Mr. Hutapea, the Ferrari amounts to an honest acknowledgment of the system’s imperfections.

“If I say I’m a clean lawyer, I’ll be a hypocrite, that’s all I can say,” he said. “And if other lawyers say they are clean, they will go to jail, they’ll go to hell.”

Not surprisingly, some rival lawyers and watchdog groups have pointed fingers at Mr. Hutapea as the Indonesian government has stepped up efforts to clean up the legal system and rid it of the so-called judicial mafia. In a byzantine world populated by corrupt officials and middlemen, money is often funneled to prosecutors and judges to reduce a charge or tip a verdict.

Asked whether he had ever given money to prosecutors or judges, Mr. Hutapea answered: “I cannot comment on that. I don’t want to comment on that because all I’m saying is that there is no lawyer on earth who is clean. That’s all I can say. I think you know how to make a conclusion from that.”

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Friday, April 23, 2010

What Would You Do to Avoid Paying Your Debt?

We've all heard the stories.  Debt collectors can be brutal when trying to get you to pay on outstanding debts.  I've heard of debt collectors (specifically Sallie Mae) sending as many as 17 letters a day asking you to pay on your past due student loans.  I've heard of senior citizens being told that they will be hauled off to jail if they don't pay on credit card debt. Of course, I wrote about Michelle Bisutti who found her loans compounding with every payment she couldn't make.  The debt collectors call you daily
--multiple times a day--they call your parents, your employers and even your neighbors in pursuit of  payment on debt. What can you do to get away from the debt collectors?

Well, an English man had the ingenious idea of becoming a female to avoid his debt.

One was the case of man from the West Midlands area who decided to have a sex change in a bid to dodge debt collectors.
The man is believed to have gone through with the operation, but is now thought to be in the process of sorting out his debts and paying off his creditors.
He is thought to have built up the massive debt – around £50,000 – after falling behind on his mortgage payments and credit card bills after losing his job.
I have no idea why this would do the trick. It's my understanding that one must change his birth certificate to reflect the new genitalia and change his name--but in this country, the social security number haunts you.  Maybe that isn't the case in England.  Lucky bastard.  He definitely gets points for creativity. I hope he doesn't miss his penis too much.

At this point, I almost wish they would bring back the debtor's prisons.  Wouldn't it be nice if you spent a year behind bars and came out free and clear?  Just an idea.  

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Do Women JDs Receive Equal Compensation?

I ran into this article about women's salaries, JDs v. MBAs--who has a better chance of earning the same salary as their male counterparts?   According to the article, it's female JDs.  Well, with those of us that are blessed enough to land a Big Law job, I'm sure that is true.  There's no justification for paying a first year female differently than a male.

Also, women holding professional degrees (J.D.s, M.B.A.s and M.D.s) fare even worse -- over the course of their careers, they will earn $2 million less than the men in their graduating class, says Lang. "How's that for a graduation gift?"

But what about shit law?

When I was a shit law associate, I was painfully aware that the men in my office were making more than I was.  There was a guy named Ken who was married and roughly my equal as an associate.  BUT, I was more experienced than he was and I was often helping him with his cases.  He graduated a year after me, but was a bit older because he was a non-traditional law student.  He carried a lesser caseload. I was definitely the workhorse at the firm.  He was married, but his wife earned tons more money than he did.  After a couple of years, I found out that he was making $75K when I was making $60K.  I also found out that his bonus was larger than mine was.   In fact, I received less of a bonus than all of the associates.  But when I received that disgraceful bonus, and subsequently found another job, my boss almost cried.  For the next 4 years, he would call me up from time to time and ask me if I'd like to come back.  I wanted to ask him why he didn't pay me fairly.

Since I know that I was valued, but not compensated thus, I imagined a million and one reasons why I was paid the least and worked the most.  The hierarchy in my office was as follows:  (1) married men, (2) single men, (3) married women and (4) me, a single woman.  Maybe the married men were paid more because they had to support a family, even though their wives worked.  And the married women did not work as hard as I did because they could always fall back on their husbands.  One of the married chicks, Belinda, would just say no to my boss when he asked her to work weekends or stay late.  "My husband is waiting for me," and she'd walk out of the office.  But I had no one to lean on (not even a boyfriend at the time), so I had no leverage.  There were a couple of times that my boss would push the envelope so much that I couldn't breathe, and I would have a break down and quit, saying that my father would support me and I don't have to deal with his bullshit.  But in the end, my boss probably knew that my blue collar father could not help me that much.

When I went to the next firm, it was the same dynamic.  Even the only female partner earned less than the male partners--although she was the most well known attorney at the firm.  She too was single.  And the firm had a rotating door for female associates.  They couldn't hold onto them for longer than a year.  I really think that the main partner, a man, was much harder on the women associates.

In the end, is it still a good old boy's club?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Great Advertising: A Supreme Court Case

UC Hastings School of Law is getting some "free" press from the Supreme Court, in a case where they are defending their anti-bias policy.  The Christian Legal Society is suing the law school for failing to recognize and fund their group, where they would not allow gays and lesbians membership in the Society.  Such a funny policy for the Christian Group to have considering the schools location in San Francisco, the homosexual mecca.  I can just imagine all of the bleeding heart liberal lemmings flocking to UC Hastings for their promotion of diversity.

All and all, it's a lame case. I can't tell if there is an actual gay or lesbian person that was denied entry into the group or if it clear that they wouldn't extend membership to the Gay Reasonable Person--should he exist.  And the analogies are atrocious:  "If Hastings is correct, a student who does not even believe in the Bible is entitled to demand to lead a Christian Bible study," the group's lawyer, Stanford law Professor Michael McConnell, told the justices in Washington. A campus NAACP chapter, he said, "would have to allow a racist skinhead to sit in on its planning meetings." I don't see the comparison.  Whereas being a racist skinhead and an active member of the NAACP are mutually exclusive--as in one cannot be both a skinhead and a believer in the mission of the NAACP--the same cannot be said of a gay person who identifies himself as Christian.  What does it really take to be a Christian?  A belief in Jesus, baptism?  Once you've overcome those hurdles, you are a Christian.  A think a more similar analogy would be one where a person who looks white, but identifies as black for whatever reason (either culturally, or based on a black grandparent or great grandparent) would be denied membership to NAACP.  I doubt that would happen. Would a transvestite be denied membership with NOW? No, s/he would be welcomed with open arms.

In short, this Christian Legal Society needs to focus on its bible studies and stop intruding in people's lives.  I bet they don't say anything to members who are promiscuous or use drugs.  Last I checked, "thou shall not commit adultery" and your body is a temple.

So, based on the ludicrous nature of the lawsuit--I can't help but think that this is some ploy to get press. In any event, fight the good fight UC Hastings!  The gay lemmings will respond with increased applications, and then you can raise tuition again.  And Christian Group, continue to pray... that you'll get a job when you graduate.

Has Anyone Ever Heard of Bowen Law School?

Or Duquesne University for that matter? These schools were ranked in the top 25 law school writing programs by U.S. News and World Report. Really, what is the point of a writing program ranking? We all know that rankings outside of the top 20 law schools are worthless. Creating another ranking is just throwing third tier schools a bone to use in their propaganda to fool more students into believing they attend a school worthy of taking out a $100k loan.

From Arkansas Business:

For the fourth time in six years, the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law was ranked in the top 25 law school writing programs by U.S. News and World Report.

Bowen's legal writing program was ranked No. 22 in this year's report, tied with the University of Michigan, Marquette University, and Duquesne University's writing programs.

In addition to Bowen's standing as one of the top legal writing programs in the country, the school's part-time law school program was ranked No. 38.

"These rankings reinforce our belief that UALR Bowen School students receive a first-rate legal education," said Dean John DiPippa. "We work day-in and day-out to share our values of professionalism, public service, and access to justice with students and the larger legal community."

So why did I hear through the grapevine that several graduates of one of the top ranked law school legal writing programs according USNWR were the worst writers in their office? Unless there is a correlation between where a law school is ranked in this survey and its hiring rate, this particular ranking is worthless to students. Most law schools only offer one or two required legal writing classes. Beyond that required class, it really depends on the individual student's writing ability. It doesn't matter if your school is ranked first or fiftieth in the writing program ranking. Seriously, USNWR needs to stop with this bullshit. A toilet is still a toilet no matter how fancy you try to make it out to be.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Big City Living Is Expensive

Over the weekend I left Podunk for the first time in nearly a year to visit a friend, a PhD student, in the big city. I've lived in big cities before, New York and DC to name a few, but it is always a shock to my wallet when I leave for a while and come back to discover that while prices in Podunk remain relatively cheap, prices in the big city continue to skyrocket. I did a double take when I walked by a gas station and saw that regular gas was $3.29. Want a nice dinner that isn't fast food? It'll cost you as much as I spend per week on groceries in Podunk. Organic over processed and canned food? Don't even think about it. And who has money to afford gym membership in the city when you can't even afford a place that isn't infested with cockroaches or pay for books and school supplies?

At the end of two days, I had spent over $50 in the blink of an eye just to have lunch and dinner with friends. And this was me penny pinching, choosing not to have any alcohol and once having to eat in the park rather than have a sit down meal in the restaurant where I'd be obliged to give the waiter a tip. I chose to spend around $15 for the entire weekend taking the bus and subway rather than spending $15 on one cab ride. Angel has already written about her experience taking the bus and riding her bicycle as her way of commuting into Manhattan.

I was looking through Angel's posts from last year since I did not have a chance to read every single one. I came across this post about Angel's friend who lived off of PB&J sandwiches for years while making $100k/year in order to pay off his student loans:

I have a good friend that buckled down from the time he graduated (2004) until last year, and paid off his private loans. He's not done yet, of course. But he is close to it. In order for him to do this, he was frugal. He rarely/if ever went out to eat. He brought a PB&J sandwich to work daily. He did not engage in frivolous spending. I think his social life was somewhat limited by how much he was willing to spend, which was nothing. He didn't have a girlfriend during this stressful time. I know he went on dates, but I'm sure he was somewhat constrained on what he could do with any girl. Having fun costs money, right? He lived in a studio apartment with hand-me-down furniture. Ran instead of joining a gym. He collected cans from co-workers to recycle for cash. Wait... the kicker. This was all while he was earning $100K. That's how you pay back your student loans, folks. I'm very proud of him. I'm not sure that many people could make the same sacrifices. Afterall, he basically handed one biweekly paycheck a month over to the Lender.

I had the chance to meet up with another friend during my visit who was smart enough to only attend college. Nonetheless, she still lives at home with her parents while she pays off her student loans and works as someone's assistant for a little more than minimum wage. And these are considered the lucky people in this recession who have a job. These stories should be a warning to all the law school lemmings and high school or college students (and their parents) who believe everyone with an elite degree or graduate school education lives in Soho and shops at Whole Foods. I went to top schools only with the belief that it was my ticket out of Podunk and now I'm back to where I started and have turned into the Coupon Queen to save money on groceries. I still feel fortunate that I still have a place in Podunk to return where the cost of living is cheap enough that I can still eat healthy and nutritious foods without breaking the bank.

When I see the constant criticism of the poor and obese in our society on television, it really makes me wonder whether any of these critics have experienced anything close to poverty or being an indentured student with six figure debt. I highly doubt it. I've never been obese but I have put on weight since being unemployed. I've forced myself to go jogging at least several times each week to maintain my weight and I receive enough financial support from my family that I can afford to buy fruits and vegetables or the occasional salmon or tuna. But I also find myself eating more microwave dinners and fast food while I'm out to avoid spending too much at a sit down restaurant.

Going back to the big city and not being a full-time student or having a job really made me think about these issues on my way back to Podunk. What it is like to be poor in the city for the unemployed graduate, or someone like Angel's friend making a good salary but trying to pay off his law school debt, or the single parent making minimum wage. How is it possible to maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle let alone think about superficial things like their physical attractiveness when they have bills to pay, kids to feed, or are dealing with depression and unemployment. Instead of criticism and finger pointing, maybe the people in power should try to help these people find good paying jobs to buy healthy food and give them affordable education and health care that would allow them to live happy, active lives.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Calling All California Law Students! An Opportunity to be Heard...

Hi Angel and Hardknocks,

I'm a freelance reporter writing an article about how the recession is affecting California law students and recent graduates.  I read your blog and I thought this might be something that you or your readers could speak to.

I'm trying to find Californian law students or grads willing to talk about how the poor economy is hurting their job search and especially how it's making it harder for them to manage student debt.  I know this is already a big problem for anyone who's been to law school, but I'd like to find out how much worse it's become in the past year since the slow-down.

Here are some of the questions I'm trying to answer: Are they seeing fewer job openings in California?  How did the recession affect where students look for jobs or what kind of job they look for? Is the economy convincing some grads to abandon attempts to get law jobs and look for new careers? How is debt limiting their career options?

I know that not all of these questions may apply to you, but I thought that you may know of some grads from California who would be interested in speaking out about this issue.   Please let me know if there are any good times when you'd be available to chat for a few minutes either today or next week; you can drop me a line here at Also, please feel free to pass on my contact info to anyone whom you think would be up to talking.

Mike Rosen

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tips on Being Overqualified

I just came across Ask a Manager and thought the blog was very helpful in answering some of the questions I had about references, cover letters, thank you letters after an interview, etc. One of her articles on what to do if you're overqualified was posted at USNWR back in 2008 but I think the tips she mentions are useful to anyone who hasn't read it yet.

So your job

is to reassure the hiring manager that none of these things are true, and in order to be convincing, you need to explain why. For instance:

  • "At this stage in my career, having a job I enjoy is more important to me than salary. I have no problem with earning less than I have in the past."
  • "I want to move into this field, and I know that I need to start at a lower level in order to do that."
  • "I'm deliberately looking for something with fewer responsibilities than I've had in the past so that I can spend more time with my family." (Or because you're going to school at night or have simply realized you prefer lower-pressure jobs.)
  • "I wouldn't take a job I'm not excited about, and I'm excited about this one because ______."

Ideally, the time to address all of this is in your cover letter. Otherwise, you may never get the chance to say it at all, because the manager may simply assume that you don't understand the nature of the position and screen you from the start. And once you get to the interview stage, be prepared to discuss it again, likely in more detail.

If you can successfully put these doubts to rest, many hiring managers will be thrilled to hire your overqualified self. After all, you're a bargain.

Of course, I'm pretty sure she's not addressing people who are overqualified in terms of having a JD or another graduate degree, but overqualified in that they have actual work experience. Maybe we should send Allison a few law related questions. She might have a few helpful tips for law grads looking for entry level careers in other fields.

On another note, I am visiting my friend who is getting her PhD at a top tier school (and has admitted that she'll probably never find a job). Boy did she have plenty of sad stories to tell me. It amazes me how so many smart people remain clueless when it comes to applying to graduate school, taking on mounds of debt, and not realizing that there aren't any jobs to help them pay back that debt. It just shows you that anyone can be fooled and there will be millions more who will join us in the indentured educated class in the coming years.

One of her friends was laid off because her job is being outsourced. What's even sadder is that the company is now paying her to train people in Southeast Asia who will take over her job in a few months. Anyway, instead of learning her lesson she's planning to take out a huge ass loan to go to a third tier business school. Another story she told me was about a mutual acquaintance from college who is attending a tier 1 law school but can't find a job (not surprising). She goes to interview after interview and all of them tell her that as much as they like her, they aren't hiring many new graduates. My question is why then did they offer her an interview to get her hopes up when they knew that she never had a chance of getting the job? Wtf?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Running Around Like Chickens Without Heads: MU School of Law

Today is the big day.  U.S. News and World Report  released law school rankings for 2011.  My alma mater has slipped 5 spots since I've graduated.  At least I went to a T1 school (and according to me, that means #1 through #50)--but some schools have dropped quite a bit more.  Take University of Missouri University School of Law, for example.  Apparently, that school has slipped from 65 to 93.  Woah!!! That is quite a dive.  To me, it's still a second tier toilet, but it's a big deal to MU Law Students.  I'm just wondering why this happened:

According to the magazine's Web site, the law school ranking methodology is based on a weighted average of 12 factors in four categories: quality assessment, selectivity, placement success and faculty resources. After the factors are weighted, the top school is given a score of 100, after which the rest of the scores are calculated as a percentage of that. The rankings derive from the scores, but sometimes programs tie.

A program's reputation, which is based on expert surveys, accounts for 40 percent of the score. Although placement success is only 20 percent of the score, the refrain at the meeting was that it is a significant weakness for MU, and students worry the slide will continue.

I'm thinking that MU was actually honest about its employment stats.  USNWR states that only 50.7% of 2008 graduates were employed at graduation.  If that's not an honest number, I don't know what is.  I actually feel bad for calling it a toilet, because toilet schools lie and deceive students into attending law school.   If the rankings weren't based on self-reported employment statistics, all of the schools would have suffered similarly and MU would likely be at it's prized #65 spot.  But honesty is not rewarded.  USNWR is a joke.  They have analysts that look at law programs like a science to come up with these stats, but it's a failed experiment.  There's no constant and no quality control.

Don't worry, MU Grads.  All lawyers are suffering across the board equally.  Law firms that traditionally hire MU Grads will continue to do so, unless they don't plan on hiring at all--which is highly likely.  It's a state school and state schools are usually well-received by local employers.  So, maybe the chances of landing a job in Chicago are not as high--but at least you may be able to land a job in Columbia.

So, do not freak.  You're no more screwed than any other law school--whatever their ranking may be.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

U.S. News Reports REAL NEWS: Consider the Return on Your Investment, or Lack Thereof, when Considering Law School!

Nothing makes a Thursday seem sweeter than a story on the real prospects of law school grads.  I am hoping some of these research whiz kids run into this article when deciding whether to proceed with taking the LSAT.

Of course, it covers NOTHING that my readers didn't already know.  But here are some gems:

The American Bar Association reports that from 2007 to 2008, average tuition rose 6 percent at private law schools, to $34,298, and 9 percent at in-state public schools, to $16,836. Add in living expenses and pricey books, and at least 80 percent of students now rely on student loans to fund their law education.

It may seem out of touch for law schools to be raising prices in a lousy economy, but it's a reflection of supply and demand. Indeed, an increasing number of people appear willing to take on six-figure debt to get a law degree. In 2009, the number of people who took the Law School Admission Test hit a decade high, up 6.4 percent from the year before. "As long as people keep applying to law schools in record numbers, (a) there's no incentive at all for the universities to charge less for the law schools that are already established, and (b) there's every incentive for other universities to open new law schools," says Elie Mystal, editor of the popular legal blog Above the Law.

Tuition raises have become necessary at many universities, especially top ones competing for higher rankings, according to the Government Accountability Office. The heated competition induces schools to ramp up their programs by hiring better faculty, reducing class sizes, providing enhanced student services, and offering more practical coursework.

Many do not research the real economic costs and benefits of a law degree, says Prof. Herwig Schlunk of Vanderbilt University. "It's kind of blindly accepted that education in general, and legal education in particular, is always worth the money," says Schlunk. "[But] there's a lot of kids who do go to law school who really have no business, at least not as an investment matter, in going."

"In their mind's eye, [law students are] thinking of hitting the lottery and getting one of these $160,000-a-year jobs, and it is a fiction," ... "By and large, it's just like the lottery. You're spending a huge amount of money in the hopes of hitting the jackpot, and there's relatively small chances, and the chances have gotten a lot smaller."

Of course, Lamm the Liar makes an appearance with some bullshit that the deferred associates are getting hired, so the market is improving.  Whatever.  The article also goes into some rant about networking and focusing on the skills you had BEFORE law school when finding a job.  Which begs the question, why did you go to law school to focus on skills you had before law school?

The facts remain, and  there are too many attorneys and it's harder to be a big fish in the ocean than it is in a pond.  However, that colloquialism goes.  I still maintain that I'm lucky with far less than a hundred grand of debt.  The biggest problem with graduating today is the debt load which precludes you from taking whatever salary you'd like.  And ignoring your debt load can severely compromise your future--because you won't be able to buy a house or a car with shitty credit.  

But hats off to U.S. News for its attempt at journalism.  Great job!

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