Posts Tagged ‘law school’

Law Review Roundup

Although the law school blogs have put forth great effort in warning the general public, mainstream news media outlets have begun to address the issue. For those who shrieked that scam bloggers were emotional, dramatic and weren’t basing their information on facts, we have over time, demonstrated the latter to be false. Of course one would be emotional when statististcs demonstrate that one was duped in a fraudulent scheme of the higher education industrial complex while the student loan business has produced generations of indentured servants reduced to menial labor and the contempt of the public who already have a disdain for lawyers. 

The following is a short list of primarily ACADEMIC refereed law journal articles addressing the law school scam, student loans and law school, law school scam blogs and the call for reform of the law school for-profit industry. This was not just a temporal problem nor the call for reform a fad by disgruntled attorneys/recent law graduates. This demonstrates a fundamental need for a paradigm shift in the way law schools fraudulently represent job statistics, benefits of attending and not attending law schools, and the basic requirement to address the next round of defaults: student loans. 

The reality is that the legal industry has greatly declined due to mass production business model characterized by LPOs and increased usage of temporary attorneys. 

Anyway, here is the list of law review articles:

Redeeming a Lost Generation: ‘The Year of Law School Litigation’ and the Future of the Law School Transparency Movement 88 Indiana Law Journal 773 (2013). http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2134009

You’re Doing It Wrong: How the Anti-Law School Scam Blogging Movement Can Shape the Legal Profession, Lucille A. Jewel. 12.1 Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology 239 (2013).
http://mjlst.umn.edu/prod/groups/ahc/@pub/@ahc/@mjlst/documents/asset/ahc_asset_366141.pdf

What Ails the Law Schools, Paul Horowitz, 111 Michigan Law Review 955 (2013)
http://www.michiganlawreview.org/assets/pdfs/111/6/Horwitz.pdf

Perspectives on Legal Education Reform: The Crisis in Legal Education: Dabbling in Disaster Planning, K.P. McEntee, et al. 46 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 225 (2012).
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2188668

Options for Student Loan Borrowers: A Derivatives-Based Proposal to Protect Students and Control Debt Fueled Inflation in the Higher Education Market, Michael C. Macchiarola; Arun Abraham. 20 Cornell Journal of Law & Public Policy 67 (2010).
http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/research/JLPP/upload/CJP102-Macchiarola-Abraham-2.pdf

The National Law Journal, “Consensus Emerging that Law School Model Is ‘Is Not Sustainable’ ” (2010)

Quicklist PART II: Law School is a Bad Investment News Articles

Quicklist PART II: Law School is a Bad Investment News Articles
Too Many Law Schools and Law School: A Poor Investment:
2013 Mainstream News Articles List

These news articles are provided for quick reference as similar issues have been addressed in depth in prior posts:

07/24/2013: Tampa Bay Times, Blumner: Laying down the law school, Robyn E. Blumner
http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/laying-down-the-law-school/2132968

07/22/2013:
Bloomberg News, When Law School is No Longer a Safe Bet
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-22/when-law-is-no-longer-a-safe-bet.html

07/19/2013:
The Nashville Ledger, The Case of the Shrinking Law Schools:
Enrollment slides as sotential students argue costs v. benefits
Friday, Vol. 37, No. 29
Jeannie Naujeck
http://www.nashvilleledger.com/editorial/ArticleEmail.aspx?id=67645

04/25/2013: Foreign Policy, Should You Go to Law School?
The good, the bad, and the ugly about getting a J.D., Rosa Brooks
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/04/25/should_you_go_to_law_school

04/05/2013:  The Huffington Post, If Law School Affordability Doesn’t Improve, Enrollment Will Continue To Decline: Analysis,Tyler Kingkade
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/05/law-school-affordability-enrollment_n_3023091.html

03/21/2013: CNBC, Courtroom Drama: Too Many Lawyers, Too Few Jobs, Mark Koba
http://www.cnbc.com/id/100569350

03/14/2013
Washington Monthly, Why Law School Doesn’t Work Anymore, Daniel Luzer
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2013_03/why_law_school_doesnt_work_any043593.php

Bloomberg’s News Article, Death of the Legal Industry and its Obituary

Law school No Longer a Safe Safe Bet
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-22/when-law-is-no-longer-a-safe-bet.html
Bloomberg News

Although the article seems to mourn associates and their high salaries which the author recognizes is only a small percentage of actual attorneys, it gives the reader a backlash if you are a law graduate. It references how white collar employees who demeaned or look down upon blue collar workers in the 1950s who chose to forego higher education. This portion is distasteful as many law graduates who graduated before the 2008 economic collapse but in the late 1990s or later had nothing to do with 1950s social stigma as they were not even born and just emphasizes what I pointed out in the last point that no one cares what happens to attorneys as society has nearly always relegated practitioners as underhanded, spoiled, backstabbers and overpaid. The author basically gives a “middle finger” to attorneys and reflects why there is lack of support of reform from the accrediting agencies to those on Capitol Hill. The article did however discussed the legal industry as dead (yet more confirmation from mainstream media) and even wrote its obituary. A portion of the news article is displayed below:
_______________________________________________________

When I was contemplating becoming an English major, lo these many years ago, one helpful counselor told me that despite the stereotypes, English majors had lots of job opportunities. Advertising, public relations, academia. “And there’s always law school!” she said chirpily.
I didn’t end up going to law school; instead, after graduating, I embarked on a peripatetic odyssey of jobs and graduate school that culminated in my becoming a journalist. But I can imagine an alternative universe in which I did go to law school. Law school has long been the backup plan for humanities majors who don’t quite dare to apply for food stamps.
That era appears to be ending. Noam Scheiber writes the obituary:
“‘Stable’ is not the way anyone would describe a legal career today. In the past decade, twelve major firms with more than 1,000 partners between them have collapsed entirely. The surviving lawyers live in fear of suffering a similar fate, driving them to ever-more humiliating lengths to edge out rivals for business. ‘They were cold-calling,’ says the lawyer whose firm once turned down no-name clients. And the competition isn’t just external. Partners routinely make pitches behind the backs of colleagues with ties to a client. They hoard work for themselves even when it requires the expertise of a fellow partner. They seize credit for business that younger colleagues bring in.
“And then there are the indignities inflicted on new lawyers, known as associates. The odds are increasingly long that a recent law-school grad will find a job. Five years ago, during a recession, American law schools produced 43,600 graduates and 75 percent had positions as lawyers within nine months. Last year, the numbers were 46,500 and 64 percent. In addition to the emotional toll unemployment exacts, it is often financially ruinous. The average law student graduates $100,000 in debt.
“Meanwhile, those lucky enough to have a job are constantly reminded of their expendability. ‘I knew people who had month-to-month leases who were making $200,000 a year,’ says an associate who joined a New York firm in 2010. They are barred from meetings and conference calls to hold down a client’s bill, even pulled off of cases entirely. They regularly face mass layoffs. Many of the tasks they performed until five or ten years ago—like reviewing hundreds of pages of documents—are outsourced to a reserve army of contract attorneys, who toil away at one-third the pay. ‘All these people kept on going into this empty office,’ recalls a former associate at a Washington firm. ‘No one introduced them. They were on the floor wearing business suits. … It was extremely creepy.’ Still, any associate tempted to resent these scabs should consider the following: Legal software is rapidly replacing them, too.”

Reminder to Law Graduates: Student Loans Are Not Dischargeable

Early last year I posted about recent law graduates who filed bankruptcy due to student loans: 
‘Breaking News (02/03/2012): Law grads go to Court for Bankruptcy Protection’
https://lifesmockery.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/breaking-news-02032012-law-grads-go-to-court-for-bankruptcy-protection/

This is to remind law graduates and those who plan to attend law school and estimate that if their law career doesn’t hold muster that they can seek relief from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. This is not the case, you do not have the protection of the law on your side, it is all for big business and corporate greed. As other bloggers continue to emphasize: student loans are non-dischargable debt.

The following TIME magazine article, also from last year explains the same: Why Can’t You Discharge Student Loans in Bankruptcy, TIME Magazine, February 09, 2012:
http://business.time.com/2012/02/09/why-cant-you-discharge-student-loans-in-bankruptcy/

Georgetown Law Graduate Discusses Law School: Is it Worth It?

Freedom from the Sunk Cost Fallacy: Say No to Law School
http://drewfrederick.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/freedom-from-the-sunk-cost-fallacy-say-no-to-law-school/
July 2013

During my fourth semester of law school, having already put in two years’ patent law work at a prestigious law firm, I realized that I didn’t want to be a lawyer.  All my friends told me to stick it out and finish the final year since I’d already invested two years of my life, and a lot of money, into law school.

Then I discovered the sunk cost fallacy: the mistake of incorporating past losses into current decisions.  For example, consider two men who have concert tickets to a favorite band playing at an outdoor venue; the first man received his free as a promotion while the second man paid $50.  On the evening of the concert, the weather is terrible and neither man wants to go.  The first man rationalizes that his ticket was free anyway, so doesn’t go, while the second forces himself to go, lest he lose $50.

But, of course, the ideal rational decision should be the same.  In both cases, at the time of decision, the men simply possess tickets to a show.  Assuming their preferences are the same, it is irrelevant how they came by those tickets – therefore, neither should go.  The second man has been duped by the sunk cost fallacy, believing that the cost already sunk in his ticket is relevant to a later decision.  It isn’t.

In deciding whether to finish my final year of law school, the only relevant question was whether it was worth the additional year and expense to receive my law degree; it was irrelevant whether I’d already spent two days, two years, or two decades pursuing the degree.  I finally decided that it was, considering that a law degree can be used to open a wide variety of doors (not just doors to law firms), but if I’d been in the same position after only my first year, with another two more years to go, my decision would have been to walk – nay, run.

Now that graduate degrees are what undergraduate degrees were twenty years ago, Generation Y seems to feel professionally incomplete without a master’s degree, law degree, or MBA.  U.S. law schools are graduating more future lawyers than ever before, and it’s a booming business for University, Inc.  Unfortunately, job opportunities and income are simply not keeping pace with the supply of graduate degrees, and Millennials now complain of debt, particularly student debt, as their “biggest financial concern.”  So it’s worth asking the question: Is law school worth it?  Let’s look.

Tuition.  At Georgetown University Law Center, my alma mater, annual tuition for 2012-13 was $48,835.00.  Just tuition.  To give you an idea of how much that is, here is a picture of several stacks of $100 bills, totaling $40,000.  Stare at this picture for a moment.  Then repeat to yourself: All this money is NOT ENOUGH for a SINGLE SEMESTER of law school tuition.
Living expenses.  Depends on where you go to law school, of course, but D.C. is not a cheap place to live.  My poorest law school friends squeaked by on another $20,000 a year, but most people racked up $30,000+ a year in rent, utilities, insurance, transportation, books, fees, and entertainment.
Opportunity cost.  Few Americans have enough savings for six months’ worth of unemployment; can you imagine three years of unemployment?  Some students were lucky enough to get summer associate positions at law firms but they were few and far between.  Most students settled for a modestly paid or even unpaid summer internship.  To calculate opportunity cost, figure out how much you could have made in the same period and subtract what you actually did make.  For most law students, the opportunity cost is well over $30,000 a year.
Interest.  Money ain’t cheap.  Most students will pay interest on their entire law school debts for many years after graduation.
Let’s assume a net expense of $70,000 per year for three years, plus an annual opportunity cost of $30,000, and amortize that over ten years at 6% per year.  That comes to a monthly cost of $3,330, or about $40,000 per year – for the next ten years.  But remember: that $40K premium is paid with after-tax dollars.  (Yes, there is a student loan interest deduction, but it’s limited to $2500, a tiny fraction of the interest paid, and it doesn’t apply to single people whose adjusted gross income is over $75,000.)  At a 30% marginal tax rate, representing federal and state income taxes, this $40K premium actually represents $57,000 of one’s nominal income.

In other words, if you go to law school under the above assumptions, then you’ll be paying $57,000 a year for the next decade just to break even, so your new job as a lawyer better account for that.  But what happens if you discover you don’t like practicing law?  Or what if your law degree doesn’t add $57K to your salary?  The major D.C. law firms, for example, are starting new lawyers at between $100K and $140K, but these positions are highly competitive and a relatively small proportion of law school graduates, even from the highest ranked schools, can get these coveted positions.

According to Above the Law, the median starting salary for law firms in 2012 was just $85K, and for those not lucky enough to land a law firm job, the median starting salary was only $60K.  Then again, over 15% of 2011 graduates had a median starting salary of $0, since they couldn’t find a job at all.

So let’s say you give up your $50K/year job to go to law school and get an $85K/year law firm job.  Not only will your real income shrink by $22,000 a year ($57,000 in annual debt payments makes a big dent in your increased salary) but you’ll actually be working significantly longer hours just to make that higher salary.  That’s right.  To succeed in one of those high-paying law firms, expect to bill 45+ hours a week, which means actually being present for 60-70 hours a week to deal with meetings, non-billables, and other administrative and corporate bullshit.  Believe me, I’ve been there.  And, of course, you can’t leave – you’ve already incurred the law school debt and need the job to pay it off.

Conclusion?

Option A: Quit your job, go to law school, incur enormous amounts of debt, compete for the coveted law firm position that will pay you, after your student loan payments, less than you made before, where you will work 50% to 75% more hours, and that you cannot leave for ten or more years because of your law school debt.
Option B: Be happy with your current job and avoid law school like the plague.

Quicklist: Law School is a Bad Investment News Articles

Law School: A Poor Investment:
2013 Mainstream News Articles List

These news articles are provided for quick reference as some have already been addressed in depth in prior posts:

04/19/2013, Volume 23, Issue 15
Is a legal education worth its costs?
http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre2013041900&PHPSESSID=p8dg0htm1e5n9ljtk3qj6u4s81#.Ud13_v15mc

03/19/2013: U.S. News & World Reports, ‘Make an Informed Decision When Considering Law School –Law prof Paul Campos advises a critical look at job statistics before students pursue J.D. degrees.’ Michael Morella 
http://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/articles/2013/03/19/make-an-informed-decision-when-considering-law-school

TIME Magazine 03/11/2013: Just How Bad Off Are Law School Graduates?
http://ideas.time.com/2013/03/11/just-how-bad-off-are-law-school-graduates/

Huffington Post
Legal Education Crisis: Schools Need to Cut the Fluff http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-nuckols/legal-education-crisis-sc_b_2863170.html
Mark Nuckols 03/12/2013

Huffington Post
Why You Should Not Go to Law School
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tucker-max/law-school_b_2713943.html Tucker Max, 02/18/2013

02/15/2013: Hard lessons from record-low law school applications, Vera H-C Chan.
http://news.yahoo.com/hard-lessons-from-record-low-law-school-applications-200701891.html
02/10/2013:
One Law School Dean Tells Us The Real Reason No One Wants a JD Anymore
http://www.businessinsider.com/stephen-sheppard-paul-campos-brian-tamanaha-law-school-bubble-2013-2

01/30/2013: The New York Times, Law Schools’ Applications Fall as Costs Rise and Jobs Are Cut, Ethan Bronner. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/31/education/law-schools-applications-fall-as-costs-rise-and-jobs-are-cut.html

HBO: Underemployed Attorneys Get Taken Advantage Of

The other day I was perusing through the channels and stumbled upin a documentary on HBO about public defenders.

The film focused on attorneys from particular areas in the State of Georgia. Although the documentary followed them through trials; it also took aim at what working for state and local government does to them.

One female attorney said that she gets countless cases and low pay and that “you mean after all Ive done, after paying all my bills all I have is $20  (that’s right twenty dollars) left in my account?” 

“I have six figure student debt.”

“This is what you think of us?” She went on to discuss how a client was plotting her murder in the courtroom just in case the verdict isn’t what the defendant wants. Some other clients in jail warned her and a clip showed her crying and stating how she always visited the jail and was supportive of the defendant even if she wasn’t going to specifically discuss his case but he would call because no family or friends of his would see him.

She apparently cared about her job and work product while her employer saw her as a tool and cog in the hamster wheel with no pay.

The film goes on to a support group for public defenders. What disgusted me was a senior Public Defender tries to convince overworked, burnt out, under-paid over the head indebted aspiring attorneys to stick with it. He had the gall to try to compare what they do to the civil rights movement which he was clearly reaching because many of the attorneys were people of color.

It would have been more accurate to refer to the US Constitution. The civil rights was about human rights and discrimination based solely or primarily on skin color and ethnicity.

Towards the end they get treated to a special lunch in Washington, DC with Congressman Ray Lewis. 
Dear reader,  one now must ask him or herself whether the mental, physical and financial toll worth being an attorney, let alone an underpaid public defender while your future has been or will be cast on a wayward slope—accelerating downhill?

Do not go to law school. It simply is not worth it!

TIME Magazine Article: Just How Bad Off Are Law School Graduates?

I don’t think it is just the scam blogging I think the problem is so obvious that mainstream media has to address it:

TIME Magazine Article (03/11/2013): Just How Bad Off Are Law School Graduates?

The first thing I’ll note is that this piece focuses on recent graduates, when I say recent I refer to those who graduated in the past four years, primarily when the economic collapse occurred until now. This problem has been pervasive for decades and band-aiding it with non-profit centers while students have nearly mortgage-sized debt and no ability to pay or discharge the debt will not cure the law school malady. Here’s an excerpt:

And it gtimeets worse still. There are a surprising number of job postings for lawyers that offer no salary at all, including government law jobs. That raises the question — as one headline put it — “Would You Work as a Federal Prosecutor — For Free?

Being unemployed — or working at minimum wage — is rough in the best of circumstances. But it is especially crippling for students who get out of school with six-figure debts that are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. The average debt load for law school graduates is now over $100,000 — and at some schools, it tops $150,000.

My favorite part is: Prospective law students are already responding to the dismal job market. Applications to law school are expected to hit a 30-year low this year — down as much as 38% from 2010. Some law schools have responded by shrinking their class sizes, and there have been predictions that in the not-too-distant future some lower-ranked law schools might have to close entirely. (emphasis mine)

Keep it up!, with more  schools closings, more professors will lose their jobs or not make tenure and then the law school administrators and those who tortured us a purveyors of the industry in the name of intellectual pursuit will know how it feels on the other side. The message is beyond clear, it is translucent: Do not go to law school, it simply is not worth it (and stop being rude to those who did years ago, we were trying to make better lives for ourselves but apparently it was based on a lie).

Get the word out, don’t let your son, daughter, sister, brother become a victim of joblessness, insurmountable debt. Just tell them “say no” to law school–they’ll thank you in the long run.

Too Little Too Late: Four Ways to Fix Law Schools (U.S. News & World Reports)

It has been a long time since I posted here, primarily due to focusing on my survival in such a grave economy and Sallie Mae venomously nipping at my heels. Anyway, I came across this “article” Four Ways to Fix Law Schools (click link). I find this as too little too late. Sometimes it is better to let something that is on death bed to pass away peacefully. For decades proponents of the law school industry have known that they were creating a bubble that would burst. Those law schools already in existence continued to pump out exorbitant number of law graduates by either increasing class sizes or adding programs to its over-saturated law school population. The ABA who loves to perpetuate the fun continued to accredit law schools though statistically it was quite aware of the economic burden v. benefits were not adding up. The main excuse the ABA used was that it would violate antitrust laws should it limit the accreditation of any additional law schools. This is counterintuitive. Antitrust laws exist to keep a market competitive for available sources, it is not to create a general market with barely any regulation so in reality there is no competition because there aren’t many jobs to compete for. Increasing law school admissions does not expand the job market it only makes the legal industry worse.

The suggestions listed in the article are simply too little too late. Even where it states to train U.S. attorneys to work abroad, in previous posts I have discussed that Spain, England and some Asian countries have a surplus of attorneys, and most of them do not think highly of the U.S. It is unreasonable to think that other countries, some part of the European Union which has their own economic crises to deal with, will welcome an influx of American attorneys with open arms.

Though it is common sense that in any industry, the learner must have “hands-on” experience and some level of intellectual pursuit. Law schools churned out too many “what if” asking professionals instead of those who can actually practice law. Those who can likely went to law schools that catered to local hiring and thus do not fall within the IVY League core, in essence the former has little to no change of upward mobility in experience or expanding their practicing fields. This article also focuses on the ‘future’ and has no solution or even reference to recent law graduates or attorneys who were not trained under apprenticeships though required to CLEs.  Thousands upon thousands of American attorneys who have already been thrown to the wayside, yet we are to believe that all of a sudden a 3-point article offers best solutions for potential law graduates.. Should of any of the law schools and ABA would like to take this article seriously it would have to take an economic loss by choosing a moratorium on any further law schools to be accredited and recommended lower admissions until either the legal industry re-invents itself or the lawyer to job creation numbers reaches a reasonable number. Until then this is simply baiting those who are still in their desperate state of minds consider law school as a viable option for a career and those who have a financial stake in the business aspect of the law school industry. This is just more fluff to keep the facade that the legal industry can recover. Times change, both economically and practically and they appear to change for the worse. The recommendation stays the same, the nearly insurmountable debt and poor quality of life is not worth it. Do not go to law school.

Woa Tells Us How You Really Feel: Forbes-Why Attending Law School Is The Worst Career Decision You’ll Ever Make

Why Attending Law School Is The Worst Career Decision You’ll Ever Make; Forbes Magazine, 06/26/2012

Not my words, words of Forbes magazine contributor. Wow, the magazine that is all about investing, making money, describing the wealthiest people around the world telling you law school is a bad investment. May we say told you so? This is major. We already witnessed The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal joining in the protest of ‘say no to law school,’ but Forbes. I must say this is great!

The news for would-be attorneys keeps getting worse. According to analysis from the Wall Street Journal released yesterday, only 55% of class of 2011 law school grads were employed full-time as lawyers nine months after graduation. The other 45% may be unemployed, working at Starbucks or starting their own law school hate blogs. LOVE IT.

The message that law school is no longer a sure bet when it comes to employment security and financial prosperity finally seems to be sinking in for potential students. In the last two years, the number of law school applicants has dropped by almost a quarter and the number of LSAT tests administered by the Law School Admissions Council has declined by 16%. How long we’ve been writing about this? False assurance of upward mobility, excessive debt, financial indentured servant status…This is so redundant, yet so true

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