Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tamanaha's Book: Whistleblowing on the Law School Industrial Complex

Professor Tamanaha of Washington University Law School is calling out his comrades in a book entitled "Failing Law Schools."  I just ordered my copy, and I urge all of you to do the same (if you can afford it).  The fallout from this could be huge for Professor Tamanaha and I want righteousness to win out over evil.  Who knows whether he'll be employed or employable after squealing on the Law School Industrial Complex.  He's doing what I never had the guts to do, be frank and put his name on it.
As you know, many of the scam bloggers remain anonymous for fear of being black balled in the community.  That's a real fear.  Fairly recently, an outed scamblogger asked that I take down a post on him because the post ranked high on Google and potential clients were holding it against him.  I feel horribly about it.
Back to Tamanaha... He's been a supporter of the scam blogger movement and I commend him on stating the obvious, no matter how much it hurts:  law schools are pumping out more graduates than the economy needs AND tuition (the very tuition which compensates Professor Tamanaha) is too high and has increased at rate higher than inflation.
Those of you that followed my post on Jack Marshall's blog entitled "Ethics Alarms" shook your heads at his denseness relating to the alleged versatility of the law degree.  Meanwhile, Tamanaha's ground breaking book hits the stores and the issue of overrated and overpriced juris doctorates has been addressed by many esteemed newspapers such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington  Times--and many, many more.  And just this week, the ABA releases statistics that hit you in the gut like the runaway train from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter--only 55% of law graduates have full-time employment.  Please note, that does not speak to the quality of employment, benefits and/or lack thereof and how much of those 55% are employed by their law schools until the 1st day of the 10th month, for the sake of statistics.  In short, if you don't realize by now that law school is as much a gamble as black jack at the Borgata, you must be nuts.  Please don't go.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The American Dream is Dead.

But you know that.  Here's a nice little segment worth listening too while you're at work.  It's nice to know that we're not alone.  We are standing hand in hand with many Americans living the American Nightmare.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rip this guy a new one!

An anonymous comment pointed me to a post on another blog entitled "Young, Gullible, Lazy, Unimaginative and Unbelievable: I Wonder Why This Lawyer Has Trouble Finding A Job?"  This post is actually calling bullshit on the 99% sign that I posted yesterday (see below).  The author goes as far as to say:
A law degree is the most versatile and useful degree there is. It is just as useful for getting management jobs in business and politics as it is in law. It is considered a credential for consulting, negotiation, public speaking, and lobbying. I once was hired to run a health care organization that required a medical degree: they couldn’t find a doctor they liked, so the Chairman of the Board said, “Eh, a law degree’s just as good,” and hired me. No prospects? None? What’s wrong with this guy?

Look. I'm as unsympathetic as the next when it comes to people relying on social welfare rather than attempting to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.  I come from a family of immigrants and ALL of my cousins and siblings have managed to go on to the American dream (house, job, kids). I'm actually the most educated of all of them and the poorest.  But the legal profession is something altogether different.  Young lawyers are deserving of sympathy.  After all, they weren't lawyers when they decided to go to law school.  The Legal Industrial Complex actively defrauds our nation's young into spending over $100K for an education that will be worthless, a dead weight, an impediment to our happiness.  That is not a result of our youngs' laziness or stupidity.  It's a crime.  It's a fucking cartel that should be taken down with RICO laws.

And these aren't just any kids that are being bamboozled--its our nation's brightest.  I thought of my readers when I read this line from Zone One by Colson Whitehead.
He'd never had trouble with the American checklist, having successfully executed all the hurdles of his life's stages from preschool to junior high to college, with unwavering competence and nary a wobble into exceptionality or failure.  He possessed a strange facility for the mandatory.
Of course, the book goes on to discuss a zombie apocalypse, but the same line applies to all of those that go to law school.  They aren't losers and should have gotten somewhere accomplishing all the necessary tasks required to succeed in life.  It wasn't that hard, am I right?  But then, law school comes in and weighs them down, sinking them into utter poverty.  We're definitely part of the 99%.

 Please post a comment on HIS blog, not mine, so he knows that the scenario discussed in this sign is common place--and nothing to scoff at.

Family Matters: Guest Post by Esq. Never

My post law school life has posed many challenges and humiliations. I essentially have to finance a small mortgage worth of student loans while also paying for rent. After living on my own for several years, I had to spend three years living with my parents. I lost out on three to four years worth of income and work experience. I, of course, had a miserable time finding a serious, professional job after school. While things were difficult for me for a long period, I always had a lot of flexibility to deal with my challenges.

I could stay with my parents. If that option wasn't available, I probably could have couch surfed, or found a tiny apartment in a bad area and strung together enough low level jobs to make ends meet. I held back on most expenses while I was unemployed. I was able to take some low level temp jobs in my attempt to rebuild my resume until I could land something better.

None of this would be possible, however, if I had a family. Mom and dad wouldn't be so happy to host an entire other nuclear family under their roof. Staying in the apartments of friends would be out. I couldn't have taken a low income temp route to try to build up a marketable skill set. I would have had to probably juggled multiple low wage jobs in order to feed my family. I would almost certainly be legitimately poor - perhaps for a long period of time.

I don't want to belittle the suffering of single people who went to law school - after all I'm one of them. Law school sets everyone back in life - unless they can land a great job and go easy on the debt (a rare combination), but it's particularly a pernicious force when those with families come out ruined. Imagine somebody has a decent job going into law school, and three years later they're in six figures of debt and can't buy a job.

I remember there was one guy in law school who had a job before law school, but was looking for a better career. He said he needed to make about $80k after school because he had a family. I'm not sure if he meant, only $80k would make the decision to go to law school worth it when he had to support a family or if it meant he couldn't maintain a reasonable lifestyle for his family at less than $80k. In either case, I don't know what happened to him, but I doubt he found a job with a salary he wanted. He wasn't a law review member, so it's a wonder if he found any decent legal (or non legal) job. In fact, getting a salary in that range right out of law school is exceedingly rare. Usually, small to mid law starts anywhere from the $40k to mid $60k's with limited room for improvement. Some more insidious roles or non profit positions could pay even less. Big law folks do make six figure salaries, but (aside from doc review) there aren't too many jobs in the middle.

Even if you can land a job, it has to hurt to know that you've set your own family back financially. A $40 or $50k salary doesn't go too far for a family of four particularly if you live in an area with a high cost of living. Plus, when you add in the debt, that's another bite into the family budget.

To the extent that the law school scam artists seek to justify their misdeeds, they probably have single people in mind. "Sure those kids will suffer in their 20's. Instead of renting luxury apartments and buying brand new consumer electronics, they'll have to sacrafice a little bit to pay back their student loans until they make better salaries. Besides, they have the IBR, so they'll be able to get by even before they make decent wages."

While singles struggle plenty with employment and debt, it's a lot easier for them to muddle along with $30k salaries. The monthly loan payments could obviously go to better causes, but they won't starve because of them (at least under the IBR). Job hopping and relocating are more realistic for this cohort, so the chance of emerging from this debacle with mitigated damages is more likely.

The cold blooded law school deans, however, either don't think (or care) about the plight of those trying raise a family. If a law graduate who is a parent is locked out of a professional position because of the J.D. what is he or she to do? It's pretty hard to support a family working part time at Home Depot: Particularly since having a family usually requires a mortgage for a home, a larger grocery budget, and more insurance. Do the law schools care that someone like this will go from the ivory tower to the welfare lines with no chance of ever retiring his debt?

If you're single and you're stubborn about your desire to go to law school, you're only digging yourself into a massive hole. If, however, you have a family, just remember, you're not only gambling with your future, you're gambling with your family's as well.

Esq. Never is a former Scam Blogger, who now runs the blog Finding a Non-Legal Job, which provides law graduates and attorneys with advice about transitioning into non-legal fields.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

About Time!!

Long ago, I said that the only way to save the legal profession is to cut enrollment.   If all law schools cut their incoming classes to 200 students, these students (especially from the top 50) will be more valuable and subsequently, more recruitable and employable.  Today, I ran across an article that states that  few law schools that have come to this realization.  Bravo to Northwestern and Hastings!  I hope that many other law schools re-examine their overly inclusive enrollment and increase the value of their overpriced degrees.  Of course, no article is complete without a mention of Cooley--which is single handedly bringing down the legal market with its 3,700 students in Michigan AND in Florida.  Of course they aren't considering reducing the size because doing so might adversely affect minorities.  I believe "minorities" must be Cooley for "profits."  Look, I'm a minority and I am being dead serious when I say that minorities are not better off with a $100,000+ JD and no job.  If you think I'm wrong then, feel free to chime in.  By the way, nice stat in that article--this is the worst market for lawyers in 18 years.  That's pretty intense.

On a side note, I called a car service today that I used to use regularly when I was in big law.  I got a driver that remembered me and he asked why I don't call as often as I used to.  I said, "Dude, I'm broke."  He asked me if I'm still a lawyer, and I said yes--working for myself and it's been a rough ride. He said, "OH, but you are a lawyer--I'm sure you make lots of money."  I will officially close down this blog when it is common knowledge that lawyers are broke.

For now, it's Angel--over and out.

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