Posts Tagged ‘investment’

In the News: A New Unaccredited Law School Has Surge in Applications & Enrollment

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Strong start for UMass Law – The Boston Globe, July 6, 2010

Lower costs help to double size of first-year class

Yes, lower costs for an unaccredited law school lures unwitting 0Ls to mortgage their futures. Do they not know how slim the chances are for most lawyers who attend an accredited university to obtain jobs in this economy, let alone non-tier 1 law graduates from accredited law schools? The legal profession has become nothing more than a corporate veil.

NORTH DARTMOUTH — Applications and enrollment at the state’s first public law school have surged since the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth acquired the struggling Southern New England School of Law, an early sign that the controversial merger is off to an auspicious start. Sounds like a typical corporate merger and acquisition deal, you know business as usual. Let’s see when one company considers purchasing another it is likely for two reasons 1) company no. 2 is struggling and seeks to get rid of its product, in turn company no. 1 will probably get a tax write off and sell what assets it can to turn a profit OR 2) company no. 1 knows that somehow it can bilk what’s left of company no. 2 and put a spin on the merger to make it appear it’s a valuable asset again and secure new consumers to purchase its product with the prediction that in a few years it will return a profit. This is regardless of whether the product itself had any long-term value, which is why oft-times more money is spent in advertising and marketing (shiny admission brochures and course catalogs) than actually improving the product. This is also done regardless of whether a market is saturated. In general business, people throw ideas around, had it already been produced by another company it’s tossed out as “been there, done that.” Not with law schools.

Following years of pitched political battles to block its formation, the new University of Massachusetts School of Law received 462 applicants for this fall’s incoming class. That is more than twice the number who applied last year, when the school was a little-known private institution.  Even with staunch opposition, the failing law school was allowed to be recusitated though letting it die would’ve saved hundreds if not thousands of potential law students from a disheartening fate. One should wonder, is anyone listening, yes to the cash register.

The size of the first-year class is also doubling to 155. And students’ credentials, as measured by undergraduate grade point averages and LSAT scores, have risen, a feat for a school that has yet to be accredited by the American Bar Association, say university administrators. More than half of those accepted have decided to enroll. Should this statement be proven true, it either means the quality of higher education has reached a level of unimprovement or standards for admissions continued to be lowered. What is interesting is that many of the enrollees have competitive undergraduate records, yet CHOSE to attend an UNACCREDITED professional school. This makes no sense.

“Students are voting their confidence in the fact that we can probably get the accreditation,’’ Jean MacCormack, chancellor of UMass Dartmouth, who plans to seek the designation in 2012. Students are relying on their hopes that the school they attend will get accredited. They are taking a gamble where the stakes are highest on their future, not the schools. The law school will have recouped its investment via student loans, while law graduates (if they make it that far) will graduate with a substantial amount of debt, little job prospects and attendance to an unaccredited university on their resume. Someone push the ‘logic’ button please.

The new students are a nontraditional group, ranging from 21 to 59 years old. More than a fifth will pursue law degrees part time while continuing to work. Half are Massachusetts residents. Nearly a third are black, Latino, Asian, or Native American, the highest minority enrollment among Mass. law schools. The author attempts to make it appear that a third of incoming class is alot. It isn’t. Minorities have caught onto the game. Hopefully the spin on this article doesn’t attempt more students, especially minorities to take the bait to attend law school, especially this one! [see Law School Admissions Lag Among Minorities January 6, 2010 « Life’s Mockery]

And 39 percent will receive financial aid, including 25 students awarded a fellowship that covers half of the $23,565 tuition for committing to four years of practicing public service law upon graduation. 39% on student loans and only 25 OUT OF 462 students have a partial scholarship in which they have to work in a non-existent, low pay state/local level government job which won’t even cover their basic necessities after their initial deferment payment. Oh from an unaccredited law school, great investment right?

“The fellowship is a huge relief for someone in my position,’’ said Brandon Ferris, the 25-year-old victim-witness advocate. “As soon as this school became UMass, there was no question where I was going to go.’’ [emphasis mine] He’ll need a victim-witness advocate when he’s testifying about the student loan industry before Congress on Captiol Hill.

The public law school, whose tuition is about 40 percent less than what private law schools charge, formally assumed its new identity July 1. The school was decades in the making. Attempts to create it repeatedly faltered amid challenges from private law schools that said the state had enough law schools, questioned its financial feasibility, and were threatened by the more affordable competition. Yet, no one listened. Although I’m confident these law schools opposed this one for monetary reasons, like wanting to hoard potential law students for their own profit, at least they were right in asserting that the state had too many law schools.

Its existence, though, has not appeared to affect UMass Law’s primary rivals, including Suffolk, New England, and Western New England law schools. Suffolk saw a 2.5 percent increase in its applications for next year, with first-year enrollment holding steady at 530 students. These sound like unprecedented enrollment numbers, how can this be allowed?

Twenty first-year students are already on campus, getting a jump on law school with a criminal justice course taught by law school dean Robert Ward. In nine weeks over the summer, they will cover a range of topics from Fourth Amendment searches and seizures, to conspiracy and inchoate crimes.

Three weeks ago, Ward said, he worried whether some of his students belonged in law school. But he said he has found that the students have fewer academic challenges and possess better writing and analytic skills than students in previous years’ classes.  [emphasis mine]This professor even admits that the school admitted students who should not be attending law schools, but “at least they’re better than the prior class.” That doesn’t mean much except that many students in that prior class shouldn’t have been admitted either. I wonder whether more professor will have the courage to form a committee to make recommendations on limiting law school enrollment and types of students enrolled. Probably not, that will interfere with their sabbaticals and pensions.

Other supporters have stepped up as well to help build the law school’s future, which MacCormack has vowed would not cost taxpayers a cent. Charles Hoff, a venture capitalist, former UMass trustee, and UMass Lowell graduate, has pledged $210,000 in scholarships for needy graduates of any UMass campus to attend the law school. Key words: venture capitalist, thus a money making venture, investors are banking on the false hopes of newly enrolled students.

The new students said having a state law school makes a legal education more accessible. With the lower tuition, and fellowships for public service and high LSAT scores, some students believe they will graduate with little to no debt. Look how subtle this line is. The author implies, that’s what they believe but is not reality. Even with partial fellowships for those whopping 25 enrollees, interest and fees will mount and continue to increase as the student loan industry tries to recoup money it will lose due to the new federal regulations concerning subsidized loans. Law graduates will likely rely on parents, credit cards, forebearances and deferments for survival. That’s why the author states “some students believe they will graduate with little or no debt.” Belief is not reality.

Is China America’s Mirror?: Newsweek: Smart, Young, and Broke: White-Collar Workers are China’s Newest Underclass

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Melinda Liu and Marjie Vlaskamp, p. 40, June 28 & July 5, 2010; online version: China’s New Underclass: White-Collar Workers – NewsweekAnd you thought it was bad here. Must we wonder why globalization may not be such a good idea? Because when a bunch of countries jump on a bandwagon, say the proliferation of higher education, there’s little to no room for recovery, and no I’m not referring to fleeing to another country, well not necessarily!

“Guo and an estimated million others like him represent and unprecedented and troublesome development in China: a fast-growing white-collar underclass. Since the ‘90s, Chinese universities have doubled their admissions, far outpacing the job market for college grads.” [emphasis mine] My word, does this sound familiar? I know these blogs are dedicated to the law school (graduate level) industry, but I am sure that American undergraduate universities have been doing the same thing. I’ve read commentators and some bloggers suggest leaving the U.S., should you be that desparate—choose wisely!

I wonder if the author’s been reading these blogs, then again just the sad, universal reality of university systems here and abroad:  This year China’s universities and tech institutes churned out roughly 6.3 million graduates.  Many grew up in impoverished rural towns and villages and attended second- or third-tier schools in provinces, trusting that studying hard would bring them better lives than their parents had.  Interesting, we see that the promise of upward mobility is not only promoted here as the American Dream, but in other countries for hope as well. I wonder how their medical and legal fields are doing?

They may be smart and energetic, but some are starting to ask if the promise of a better life was a lie. If you have to ask, then you likely know the answer.

They’re known as “ants,” for their willingness to work, their dirt-poor living conditions, and the seeming futility of their efforts.  “These ants have high ambitions but virtually no practical skills”…

The similarities between those Chinese graduates in the tech field and American law graduates is simply astonishing. It’s a potentially explosive situation. It sure is. Just imagine how many millions of unemployed, educated persons who were deluded will lose patience with the current trend. Someone commented before about potential riots and living near concentrated urban areas.

The discontent rising among the ants is even more worrying. Blue-collar wages have actually soared recently, while white-collar pay is shrinking. This resonates so deeply right now I’m confident we can superimpose attorney with computer programmer and change the geographic region and we will have a sufficient description of the American legal industry.

…the government admits that at least one in eight is permanently unemployed. And those who get jobs don’t always find work in their chosen fields. Ditto. College grads have far higher expectations than the migrant laborers who have fueled China’s growth for three decades.  “Ants are educated. They speak foreign languages. They’re Internet-savvy.  It’s that potential for trouble that has the government worried,” he says.  “If they aren’t satisfied with their living conditions and want to start a movement, like the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, it becomes a huge problem.”

This is an interesting take, the Chinese government is concerned about the educated persons becoming unruly. In a way it makes sense. People who lived in poverty most of their lives and chose not to attain higher education and debt are accustomed to a lower standard of living. Those who work hard, with aspirations of attaining a “better life” are crudely disappointed with the all-encompassing economic reality. Thus, the former, really did not have any thing to lose, while the latter has invested time, money, effort and sacrificed aspects of normal social living based on societal and other assurances that it will be compensated for upon completion. Very interesting. Though it’s not simply black and white, of course there will be poor people who are willing to cause harm and take what’s not theirs, but I think this article shed some light (at least for me) on how we compartmentalize (poor vs. middle class or wealthy, educated vs. uneducated, etc) but the variables may cross depending on the circumstances.

This guy gives some ideas on how an uprising would occur. Is it just me or do governments tend to look at suppressing uprisings, stemming tides of frustration but oft-times do not offer or work with those affected to create solutions to the circumstances that originated the frustrations?

The ants don’t seem to be organizing in any big way so far. But they clearly have the necessary technical skills and a sense of common backgrounds and objectives.  “it’s like I’ve joined an army,” says Wang Lei, a young University of Innder Mongolia graduate who has found steady work as a computer programmer after months o searching.  “For the rest of my life, I’ll meet former Tanjialing inhabitants and have strong ties with them because of our shared experience.” Comments like this make China’s leaders nervous, not least because the ant tribes are so fluid and difficult to monitor.  If they were somehow to make common cause with other restive rural-born Chinese, such as landless farmers or migrant workers, they’d be extremely hard to suppress.”

This wouldn’t happen in America, we’re too individualistic, judge people by their clothes and there’s too much racism and haves vs. have-nots. In China, although there are ethnic Chinese and others, they’re more homogenous than Americans. So, it’s not just bad here for educated folks, just look around you.

Law School Tuition: USA Today Article: Investing won’t get you to law school; saving will

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June 21, 2010 USA Today: Investing won’t get you to law school; saving will – USATODAY.com. The author providing the advice is very frank, even if you INVESTED the $2500, there’s no reasonable way that the return on the stock investment will cover the costs of attending law schools. A gamble won’t cover a different gamble! Here’s the piece:

Q: What can I invest in that will turn my $2,500 savings into enough to pay for law school? A: We are often told that the stock market can richly reward patient investors. And that is true. But what you’re asking goes beyond what can be reasonably expected. You mean that the average person starting law school cannot afford to pay for it by investing or saving whatever money they have? Doesn’t that just force them into Sallie Mae’s prickly embrace? Oh, they just can decide NOT to go as an option as well.

Let me explain. You’re probably hoping I’ll rattle off a few amazing stocks that will rocket in value to turn your $2,500 into law school money. The odds of picking a couple of stocks that will do that are tiny.

Let’s first consider how much money you’ll need. The median tuition for one year of law school in 2008 was $16,836, according to the American Bar Association. And tuition has been rising about 9% a year.

That means if you enrolled in 2010, the price of the first year of law school would likely be $20,003. And that’s just the first year three. Your total tab would be somewhere around $65,572.

So, you’re hoping to turn $2,500 into $65,572. Let’s assume you’d want to have this happen in two years. For this incredible increase in wealth to occur, you would need a stock that rises 2,522%, or 412% on average for two straight years.

The reality: Stocks, on average, return about 10% a year. And lately, stocks haven’t even been doing that. Stocks aren’t the only thing not returning an investment.

If there were any stocks that could generate the kind of return you are looking for, they would come with such gut-wrenching risk you could also completely decimate your original $2,500 investment in the process. Like attending law school in the first place.

Don’t just take my word for it. Parallel comment: just read the blogs.

Over the past two years, not a single stock in the Standard & Poor’s 1500 index, which includes stocks of all sizes, rose 2,500% or more, according to Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ. In fact, not a single stock rose more than 2,000%. Over the past ten years law school tuition rose, while law graduates unemployment increased, so the actual product decreased in intrinsic value though it is still being sold based on its tradition and prestige.

To be more precise, the best-performing stock rose less than 400% the past two years. So even if you picked the best stock in the S&P 1500 universe, not an easy feat, your $2,500 would have been worth $12,500, a far cry from what you need to pay for law school.   Parallel comment: Not all law schools are the same, should you even choose to attend the best, what you invest will still not get you to the goal of being employed and paying off those student loans.

What’s the moral of this story? Don’t look to the stock market to pay for your law school, especially when you’re starting with $2,500. You’ll need to invest, yes, but more important, you’ll need to save more, and consider grants, scholarships and other financial aid. [emphasis mine].People are willing to do any thing for a chance to attend law school, instead this financial advisor states that the only way the writer will be able to afford to attend law school is through financial aid=student loans=Sallie Mae; who is not as benevolent as she sounds.

Smart investing can accomplish great things, but what you’re looking for goes beyond what an investor could hope for in his or her wildest dreams. In other words, it’s neither wise to invest in a bad stock market or that other type of investment “law school.”

Third Recent News Article: Law graduates, economy and job market

This is related to the previous post on Life’s Mockery: Another News Article: “Law Degree Can’t Guarantee Law Firm Offer” . Just a couple of days ago Crain Business Journal posted:

Law grads’ job prospects ebb with economy – Crain’s Cleveland Business . “As 2010 law school graduates are framing their diplomas and are preparing to enter the working world, the profession is reporting that employment rates for the class of 2009 were the lowest in more than a decade.” The low employment rate didn’t happen over night, other factors contributed to the steady decline of the legal industry. Those in certain positions knew this but not only continued enrolling law students, but increased the number of law students matriculating at their institution. You knew, 0Ls likely didn’t but agents of the industry did.

“The employment rate last year was the lowest since 1996. In addition, the employment numbers include an increase in the number of graduates engaged in part-time and short-term work, as well as more grads taking jobs at the schools they had attended.” And you still are posting on various boards and blogs which law school you’re considering attending. A wise man or woman learn from the mistakes of others.

“Jennifer Blaga, director of career planning at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University, said the employment rate for her class of 201 students in 2009 was 84.8%, though she cautioned that not all students report whether they have found jobs.” I’ll repeat what I wrote in that other post: If I went around and asked 10 people I knew were employed and they all said yes I can easily offer that out of the people I surveyed, 100% were employed, which by no means reflect the actual legal industry and broader economy.”

“Ms. Blaga said Cleveland State law graduates are better off than some because they often are looking for jobs at smaller firms, many of which did not face the same challenges that large law firms have over the past three years, when new hires often were deferred for several months and attorneys were laid off.” Smaller firms which also start off at a lower salary for attorney positions not likely to increase earning potential nor maintain a decent standard of living.

“While the 2009 NALP Employment Report and Salary Survey noted that an increasing number of law schools were boosting their employment figures by offering graduates positions at their alma maters, Ms. Blaga — herself a Cleveland-Marshall graduate, albeit in 1994 — said that is not the case at Cleveland State. In 2009, 1.2% of graduates had jobs in academia; 55.6% entered private practice, with slightly more than half of those graduates working in firms with two to 10 attorneys.” They’re on the defensive thanks to Nando at Third Tier Reality and see  Exposing The Law School Scam: A closer look at the employment stats for the 2009 law school class They know people are dissecting the statistics they proffer.

“At the 192 law schools that responded to the NALP survey, academic employment rose to 3.5% in 2009 from 2.3% in 2008. Talking about plumping a turkey so the masses can devour. These temporary, revolving positions helped law schools report exaggerated employment statistics for the new hapless crop to be harvested in next three years, but look:
“James Leipold, NALP’s executive director, said the academic hires were one piece of the “underlying weakness” the employment figures hid. More than 40% of the law schools reported that they provided jobs for graduates on campus and, including judicial clerkships, nearly 25% of all jobs for graduates were temporary.” Now that’s some honesty.

“Added Ms. Weinzierl: “Employers are realizing lawyers have a lot of skills others may not have. They’re more open to considering those who have a legal background.” You’re kidding me right? Please explain why most lawyers have noted that having a J.D. is a detriment to finding working outside the legal field and with professors and seasoned practicioners admitting that law graduates are entering the legal workforce with little to no practical skills, thus unprepared to meet the needs of firms and clients. Oh, do explain.

The U.S. Post Office is always hiring

Actually it’s not. During the past two years the Washington, D.C.; Virginia; Maryland areas postal services were affected by the recession. Local news stations touted the proposed shorter office hours as wells as reducing the number of days a postal worker delivers mail to 5 instead of 6 days. Wow, in my experience I have to wonder which is worse, waiting in a line at a bank for a teller to wait on you or waiting at the post office. I think it depends on the time of day and the teller, usually they’re both horrible. As of date, the U.S. postal service still delievers 6 days a week, but now they’re considering ‘reducing staff.’ Really? I guess having 2-3 tellers is too much especially when you service three suburban counties. So by now you have realized that the U.S. Postal Service isn’t hiring; but the U.S. Census is–allegedly.

I knew of an attorney who applied last year and was told that it was only the beginning of the application process. The Washington Post seems to promote being a census taker–at least it’s money. One cannot have an article about unemployed professionals without discussing the attorney who is looking for work:

The Washington Post Carol Morello, Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 8, 2010 [
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/07/AR2010030702886.html?hpid=topnews ]

“After just two years as an associate at a small firm in the District, Williams was laid off in November 2008. She assumed she would land another job within four months. When that didn’t happen, her brother mentioned seeing an ad that the Census Bureau was hiring.”

Wow, at least she was able to get some real legal experience–I’m assuming. And look at this article posted a few days ago, it’s as if attorney’s are the new gauge for unemployment rates among professionals!:

‘Those college degrees don’t seem to be worth very much now,’ Dayton Daily News, March 16, 2010, Carol Flowers [http://www.daytondailynews.com/opinion/those-college-degrees-dont-seem-to-be-worth-very-much-now-603118.html ]

“My son holds five associate degrees, a bachelor’s, a master’s and a law degree. He has passed the bar exam in three states and cannot get a nibble because he is in competition for jobs with unemployed lawyers who have 10 to 15 years of experience.” Ok, this mother has to be reading our blogs now, so maybe family members do understand, well I still think most don’t.  Maybe she was part of the PLUS loan programs and now her credit is being affected, who knows, but the college-law school promos are being exposed.

Now just imagine that you were an older attorney but in the same situation. Economists state this is a jobless economic recovery. What? So I am to conclude the only ones primarily benefitting from a financial upturn would be actual corporations.

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