Thursday, March 31, 2011

April Fool! A Tom Cooley Fool....

I totally almost fell for this comment on my last post!  Nice try!  Right?  Wait, is this a joke?

Anonymous said...
I have been reading this blog for quite sometime, and frankly, I think it is full of lies. Here is my story:
I scored low on the LSAT(142,) and only had a 2.4 from the University of Kansas. Cooley was the only school to accept me, and thus offered me a spot in their AAMPLE program. If I pass, I am admitted into their school!! Although the AAMPLE program is costly, I believe it is well worth it. Cooley sees through the numbers, and realizes that the LSAT is racially biased. They know that LSAT and GPA are in no way good predictors of law school success.

I have learned a lot about Cooley through their website, which is the only source of information one should use when choosing a law school due to the fact that the law school knows itself better then anyone else.

If Cooley is so horrible, why would the ABA accredit them? Furthermore, if it is so bad, why are they ranked 2nd in another objective but more obscure set of rankings?

My goal is to be a lawyer, and Cooley will give me the skills I need to be successful. At the end of the day, law school is law school, and a degree is a degree. No one cares where you went. As long as you pass the bar, you will be in demand. This blog is full of lies. I am going to be a lawyer; naisayers be damned! Cooley has a superb reputation in the state of Michigan, and once I graduate, it should be quite easy to find a job

MARCH 31, 2011 5:44 PM

Also, in the event this nut is real--she could stand to benefit from accurate statistics.  Senator Boxer has caught a whiff of the shit that the law schools put out as their statistics.  She is upset.  If you give a shit about the future lemmings of our industry, send her an email or give her a call and let her know that we're behind her in her efforts to make ABA president Zack require that law schools provide accurate post-graduate employment and starting salary statistics.

Her recent comment takes the cake!

Anonymous said...
I am the one responsible for the post that this jerk used as "April Fools." It is 100 percent true. I am going to Cooley, and I will be successful. Cooley is the largest law school in the country for a reason! Because it is one of the best.

The LSAT is a racially biased test, and just because someone struggled in undergrad does not mean they will struggle in law school. Law school is much different than undergrad, and many legal minded people have a lot of trouble with the variety of subjects taught in undergrad(myself included).

You guys are jealous of me, because I have the drive, and talent to be accepted to one of the best law schools in the US. I wrote a really great personal statement, which obviously showed them the potential I have for the legal field. Cooley grads hire Cooley grads, and since it is the largest school in the country, there are thousands of big firm partners around the country and the world from Cooley.

APRIL 1, 2011 2:57 PM

You've got me in stitches!  Good joke!  Hope you all had a happy April Fool's Day!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Things Suck in Iowa Too--Nando Could Have Told You So.

There is one thing I hate to hear when I tell non-lawyers how much the legal industry sucks in New York Shitty.... "Why don't you move to the midwest or some other state where there are fewer lawyers?"

Never mind the bar and admissions.  Usually, where there are less lawyers, there are less jobs for lawyers.  There are likely less jobs for everyone because there's less people.

What about Iowa?  Nando from Third TTTTier Toilet Drake (or is it fourth?  or is it second with the bullshit that the USNWR is pulling?) can give us all an earful on the state of the legal market in Iowa.  I also ran into an article about the horrid state of the job market in Iowa.  Thought it was worth mentioning here.

It starts off with an awesome quote:
The sad thing about lawyers is not that so many of them are stupid, but that so many of them are intelligent. The craft is a great devourer of good men; it sucks in and wastes almost as many as the monastic life consumed in the Middle Ages. -- H.L. Mencken (1880-1956).

A few weeks ago, I was representing a friend in a crazy civil case (she lent some money to another friend that didn't return it).  We were waiting for opposing counsel to come and she asked me how she looked.  I said, she's 40ish and has grey hair.  So, my friend proceeded to examine all of the lawyers who came in with grey hair.  After we finally located opposing counsel, my friend said, "Angel, you need to stop being a lawyer. All of the lawyers, men and women, look like death walking and I'm afraid for your future.  Please promise me you'll teach or something. ANYTHING, just get out of this profession."

I'd like to think that lawyers look old and used up, much like meth heads or prostitutes--not so much like monks.  But, you get the idea.  It's no wonder too. With the job stats that are out there... Back to the article:
...according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in all legal occupations from now to 2018 will be only 0.86 percent of all jobs nationwide, totaling less than 1.5 million. For lawyers the expected growth is only 12.9 percent, representing 240,000 new jobs. The largest growth area will be paralegals and legal assistants, at 28 percent. This estimate does not reflect the significant downturn in hiring over the recession of the last two years....
Yet law school tuition keeps climbing. According to the American Bar Association, average in-state public-school tuition and fees are increasing at 9 percent per year, resulting in a 2009 average of $16,836. Out-of-state tuition is growing at 7 percent to over $28,280. Average private-school tuition was $33,985, increasing at 6 percent per year.
That's inflation if I ever did hear it.  But a state like Iowa will surely weather the storm better than most, right?  With only 2 law schools, what do they have to fear?
UI, with a top-tier rating by U.S. News and World Report (26th), has been prominently mentioned as having significant tuition increases, implementing a 20 percent in-state increase and 13 percent out-of-state increase in 2009, double the norm. 
Wow.  That's some kind of an increase for a state university!  But, the Dean has an excuse for this:
Dean Carolyn Jones characterized the tuition increase as an "unusual situation" and necessary to "maintain our progress, reputation and the strength of our degrees." 
One would think the strength of your degrees would be maintained by NOT shackling the hands of your students so much so that they cannot find gainful employment in the state of Iowa.  Your graduates would probably love to work for pennies, but can't because of the monstrous student debts on their backs.  Have you ever heard of fathers that are obligated to pay so much child support that it's not worth it for them to work?  This is the same situation.  You should strengthen your degrees by dropping tuition drastically and going bare bones budget wise a la Chris Christie.  Trim, trim, trim.... I'm a little delirious right now, and this may not make sense to most people.  But a school is run like a small state, and the best way to run a small state is not off the backs of your "citizens" (i.e. graduates) but by cutting back on expenses.

Whatever.  I'm done with that.

Thought Nando would appreciate this this article mentions Drake as well.  But nothing we don't already know.  It's a bit cheaper than IU, but at the end of the day, graduates of either school are screwed:
Drake University law school graduates are carrying a median debt of $91,576; Iowa graduates $87,891, of government loans only. Even before the proposed tuition increases, Iowa graduates have more than $21,000 more in debt than the average student, not including undergraduate or private loans, or credit card debts. Including those amounts would result in real debt to our Iowa young people of $125,000 to $150,000, plus interest. A great devourer of good men and women, indeed.

For those of you who are in Iowa, how accurate is this chart?  Just wondering.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fleeing the Country: From the Horse's Mouth

Lots of people have sent me emails and posted about fleeing the country.  One of the main issues on BIDER readers' minds is whether Fannie Mae knocks on your door when your home is on foreign soil.  Well, I finally heard from someone who did it.  He moved to Canada and he (or she) isn't coming back and is damn proud of his/her decision.   It's nice to hear about it from someone who did it, successfully.  Here goes:

Saw your blog post about bailing on America and thought I would give you my $0.02 worth.

From where I sit, the best thing for any smart-minded American to do is to leave the country.  Let's see here, $14T national debt with a $1T+ annual budget deficit that is being added to said debt. In the face of all this, Mr Hope and Change continues to fight the dual losing wars in Vietraq and Vietstan and punts on first down on reversing the asinine Bush tax cuts for the rich. And we haven't even started talking about $40T in unfunded Medicare/Medicaid liabilities.

As a more practical matter, the improbability of upward economic mobility in the Land of Opportunity is well documented on your blog and elsewhere. By all accounts, nine-plus percent official unemployment is going to become the new normal for the foreseeable future.  The real figure, which includes the long-term unemployed who have given up looking for work and the involuntarily underemployed, has been estimated to be as high as 25 percent.  And here again, Mr Hope and Change has nothing to offer except extensions of the failed Bush policies.  We haven't even started talking about so-called health care reform that is nothing more than a massive giveaway to the same rapacious insurance companies that caused the problem in the first place.

As you've probably guessed, I moved to Canada and am starting on my fourth year here. And I love it here. I frequently go back to the States to visit, but I breathe a sigh of relief when I cross that border back into the Civilised World. For starters, universal health care through the provincial Medical Services Plan means no worries about finding that elusive "job with benefits." Up here, benefits doesn't mean health insurance, eight paid holidays and 10 days of paid vacation a year. Since all of those are guaranteed by law, even a job at Tim Hortons (coffee chain (in)famous for "Always Fresh" reheated frozen doughnuts and tepid, truck stop-grade coffee) is a job with benefits. Here, benefits means employer-paid extended health insurance that covers dentists, head shrinkers (i.e., marriage and family therapists, psychologists and the like - MSP covers psychiatric care in full, infra, if you're really nuts), massage practitioners, quackopractors, nastyropaths, "doctors" of traditional Chinese medicine and the like. This is on top of MSP that covers all medically necessary services in full with no deductibles, co-payments or any other out-of-pocket expenditures of any kind. And everybody gets MSP - from the senior partner at one of the Seven Sisters right down to the lowest, most strung-out street derelict.

Of course, all of this has wrecked our economy, right? Wrong. Our unemployment rate is currently around 7.5%, a full two points lower than America's. Our resources sector is going great guns to produce enough fuel for the Hummers driven by American men with potency issues. Also, keep in mind that our rate is always 1.5% - 2% higher than America's because of how we calculate it.

There is also a lot of misinformation out there regarding the potential consequences of reneging on student loans and skipping the country. As student loan defaults are civil in nature, rather than criminal, it is absolutely not the case that a borrower will be arrested, imprisoned or extradited. Also, claims that "you'll never be able to return to America" are completely false. Any U.S. citizen has the absolute Constitutional right to freely enter and leave the country.  The U.S. Supreme Court has also ruled that the government has no power to involuntarily strip anyone's citizenship for any reason.  See Afroyim v. Rusk, 387 U.S. 253 (1967).

In fact, there is very little the government can do to collect defaulted student loans from a borrower who has left the country. Their usual tool - administrative wage garnishment, i.e., garnishment without due process of law - is not available.  Such an order would not be worth the paper it is printed on outside the U.S.  In order to collect, they would have to (1) sue in federal court, (2) take judgment against the borrower and (3) domesticate said judgment in the courts of whatever nation the borrower is living in.  The Department of Education's current policy is to not pursue litigation at all against borrowers living in foreign countries. I attach a copy of their litigation manual for your reference. Oh, and U.S. student loans are dischargeable in Canadian bankruptcy.

Bottom line - there are many, many people who, like me, feel they have done the right thing all of their lives.  We went to school, studied hard, started at the bottom and worked crap jobs for starvation wages.  We did this all in exchange for the promise of a better life down the road.  Those promises have turned out to be empty.  We now have nothing to show for it but massive amounts of debt with little to no hope of ever repaying.  We don't even have access to basic, affordable health care!  Since they haven't held up their end of the bargain, I don't see why I can't opt out of holding up mine.
Moving to Canada

He/she even included his/her email in case you have any questions.
Look... I know it's a hard choice.  You may feel conflicted about abandoning ship.  However, everyone in this country (except for Native Americans) have it in your DNA to immigrate to greener pastures.  You may think it's scary, but how did you great grandpa feel when he left Ireland during the Potato Famine?  Or your mom and dad when they fled Vietnam via boat?  What about your great great great, etc. Grandfather who fled England because of religious persecution?  They did it, why can't you?  There's nothing unpatriotic about making your situation better. You will always be an American.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

From the Bottom to the Top and Back to the Bottom Again.

The following is a comment that was left on a recent post and I thought it was worth re-publishing a tail for the the weary:
I was denied my law license in Illinois for 7 years because I was unable to pay even the minimum payment for my student loans. I eventually enlisted the help (because I certainly couldn't pay his fees) of a solo practitioner who suggested I consistently make a payment to the loan holders and keep a record of those payments. Every six months or so I kept petitioning the Illinois Character and Fitness Committee to reconsider my application. I sat - alone - before a literal tribunal of attorneys, all physically seated higher than the chair reserved for the applicant, and was insultingly told I would never receive my license unless I could get some "rich relative" to pay my loans. What rich relative? My parents' home is valued at less than 1/2 what my student loans have risen to be. After 7 years of rejection, 7 years of falling behind on the compound interest, of being hounded by a rotating rogue's gallery of debt collectors, of watching my law school classmates pass me by, gaining experience while I languished in a legal editorship, I finally broke through to some sypathetic someone on the committee and got my license. Now 11 years later, I've worked my way up through the associate ranks of a mid-sized Chicago firm. I had been groomed for the last year as the next potential partner. My boss was telling me for a year how wonderful my prospects looked and to expect an invitation to sign on as a partner come the December 2010 reviews. Long story short: the partnership was pulled out from under me at the last possible second, not for the quality of my work, not for my aptitude, but because my long-fought troubles with student loans had somehow rendered me "financially unfit" to handle the Firm's multi-million dollar lawsuits. In other words, if I couldn't handle my own money, why should they trust me with the Firm finances? (Somehow the 6 years of killing myself to prove that I was worthy enough to consider for partnership wasn't enough.) Just weeks before the partnership determination was to be made, I received the second of 2 garnishments on my wages for my defaulted student loans. The default came to the attention of the Firm ironically through the collection counsel that the Firm uses to collect fees from delinquent clients. So, even though I had spent years dutifully paying at least something on my student loans, my career, such as it is, was once again derailed by the student loan anvil that I will apparently drag around after me for the rest of my life. I, once again, have little hope for the future. I work in "limbo" at the moment, never sure whether I will be bounced out on my ass as one of the partnership candidates who just didn't pan out. My Firm has a small army of such underlings who are all routinely treated with disdain and shoveled shit cases/files to discourage their continuing at the Firm. I want to leave, but honestly probably won't be able to secure another job anywhere nearby that might pay me the meager salary that I already do collect. Stupidly, I went trolling sites online that compared the salaries of 1st year associates in the Chicagoland area. Six years into my job at this Firm, I still don't make the 1st year salaries of most of the top-rated, top tier firms. I just don't know what to do.
I am not sure what you're supposed to do at this point.  In my opinion, if what you've told me is true, you've proven yourself to be a competent attorney--you may even be excellent.  It's a great accomplishment to be offered partnership.  I can't believe the partners at your firm reneged.  It's a shame that they can't see past your financial woes.  I wonder... What if one of the partners lost everything in a divorce because he was irresponsible and married his money-grubbing secretary without a pre-nuptual agreement.  What if a lawyer had a garnishment for child support?  Babies happen, yes--but isn't a child out of wedlock the epitome of irresponsibility?  What if a lawyer were sued as a result of a simple car accident?  Where is the line?  
Apparently, it's with student loans.  
The divine irony is that young people sign their lives away at about the same time they max out their first Discovery Card.  But, unlike the credit card debt, they can't shake the student loans.  Think long and hard before you pull out student loans.  It's not something you worry about later.  It's the gift that keeps giving, much like herpes.  Just when you think the flare ups are done, it comes back at the most inopportune times.  
Wait!  I have an idea.  Do your parents have any organs they can donate?  Do you?  Apparently, parents of an indebted college grad offered up their organs on craigslist for $200,000.00  (Thanks Tipster!) That's a real parental contribution that FAFSA doesn't take into account.  I remember, when times were good, reading about Indian people that sold their organs to marry off their daughters. The concept was so alien to me.  Not anymore.  It's right up there with selling eggs to infertile rich people--or the use of your womb for 9 months.  In other words, if there is a market for organs--American's will reconsider the utility of that other kidney in the very near future.

Anyone know where I can sign up for Cairo style protests?  We're long overdue.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Bottom Falls Out: Welcome to World of Robo Lawyer

Everyone knows that there is a hierarchy of legal jobs.  Big Law is at the top of the pyramid as the aspirational goal for many attorneys.  Mid-sized firms, public interest and government work is mixed in the middle.  Near the bottom is Shit Law Solo Work--which can be gratifying, but hardly pays the bills.   Somewhere below that is contract work--the last resort for many attorneys.  The gigs pay less than they used to, the work is mind numbing and repetitive, and the hours are horrendous... but it is the fall back when there is nothing else out there to do.  Like now, for example.  I actually worked on two contract gigs before becoming a Solo, and I swore I would rather be homeless than have another bout of the flu--brought on by the close, germy, dirty, tight and stuffy work environment.  I actually got the flu 3 times in a 4  month period: stomach, regular, regular.

Thousand of attorneys in New York Shitty live off of contract gigs, hoping to hide out until the economy improves.   Some have made careers of it.  Actually, to many, it seemed like the only healthy part of the legal industry--since Big Law was favoring contract attorneys over first year associates to do the grunt work of document review.  Then the ABA OK'd Indian Lawyers doing the same work for pennies on the dollar.  We thought that gutted the industry.  But now, contract work stands to be eliminated altogether with  the advent of a new discovery software that actually analyzes legal documents.  Yes, it thinks like a lawyer--batteries not included.  The article is short, so here it is:

When five television studios became entangled in a Justice Department antitrust lawsuit against CBS, the cost was immense. As part of the obscure task of “discovery” — providing documents relevant to a lawsuit — the studios examined six million documents at a cost of more than $2.2 million, much of it to pay for a platoon of lawyers and paralegals who worked for months at high hourly rates.
But that was in 1978. Now, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, “e-discovery” software can analyze documents in a fraction of the time for a fraction of the cost. In January, for example, Blackstone Discovery of Palo Alto, Calif., helped analyze 1.5 million documents for less than $100,000.
Some programs go beyond just finding documents with relevant terms at computer speeds. They can extract relevant concepts — like documents relevant to social protest in the Middle East — even in the absence of specific terms, and deduce patterns of behavior that would have eluded lawyers examining millions of documents.
“From a legal staffing viewpoint, it means that a lot of people who used to be allocated to conduct document review are no longer able to be billed out,” said Bill Herr, who as a lawyer at a major chemical company used to muster auditoriums of lawyers to read documents for weeks on end. “People get bored, people get headaches. Computers don’t.”
Yes, lawyers are the grocery store cashiers of the 00's, the bank tellers of the 90's and the factory workers of the 80's...  We're being replaced by computers.  Could this be the first white collar job to fall to new and innovative technology?  And we thought the service sector was safe.  Terminator is becoming more real to me every day.

Thanks for the tip, Reader!

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