Posts Tagged ‘unemployed’

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

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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.

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

“American law schools in crisis” Title of a Recent News Article

Yes, the mainstream media continues to take the baton in this law school-scam-busting relay. Likely the primary reason for these news outlets to focus on law schools because graduate level students take more debt than undergraduates (usually) and the student loan bubble has been stewing in a pot of Congress’ let’s turn away and not deal with it kitchen until it’s too late.  I laughed when I saw the first paragraph thinking “we told you so.” It’s like applying pharmacy ointment on a 4th degree burn. The article was written by a former dean at the University of Baltimore School of Law. Interesting, maybe he’s trying to mitigate potential lawsuits against him, other deans and law schools, though I found another article about this guy planning to resign months ago because he disagreed with how the LAW SCHOOL WAS SPENDING MONEY (Closius resigns as UB Law dean, Maryland Daily Record, 07/2011).

Anyway, here’s an excerpt of “American Law Schools in Crisis”:

The Golden Age of American legal education is dead.

Every law dean knows it, but only some of them will feel it. Elite schools (the top 25 in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings) and the 43 non-elite state “flagship” law schools are almost immune to market pressures. Those at risk will come from the other 132 law schools — the ones that produce the majority of law graduates…

Jobs and tuition, then, become an issue of quality admits. The fall 2010 entering class actually increased to a new high of 49,700, even as the job market was falling. Schools must now choose between admitting smaller entering classes (and sacrificing revenue) or dealing with a decline in the quality of their students — or both.

You hear that 0L? Stop the delusion, the madness, and unfortunately for people of color who thought going to law school was the one lift they needed for upward mobility it has not been this way for 20 years. I suggest engineering, chemistry/scientist. I would say medical doctor but that industry is corrupt in and of itself. For those of you who attended law school and continued to do so after seeing these blogs, the only thing I can suggest is despite the “competition” naturally inherit in American adulthood, do something for your fellow man/woman. Warn them about the perils of attending law school. The full article can be found at the Baltimore Sun website here: American law schools in crisis 06/04/2012

Attorneys and Law Students Commit Suicide All Over the World

These are stories of law students and attorneys whose delusion with practicing law, obtaining a job and being able to provide for basic needs such as food is compromised, or dealt with depression and saw no other way out but suicide. From North Africa to India to to Europe Michigan, USA. This post does not endorse suicide but to provide a glimpse into other side of the legal industry and a warning to 0Ls who are convinced it will not be them. Statistics have shown that attorneys are two to six times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.  The rhetoric is fading and reality is settling in and most people are unable to deal with their false-fed dreams….

Here’s a sampling of lawyer/law student suicides from around the world. These are just the ones who made the news (protest, prestigious law firm, or top school involved).

Autopsy and 911 call reveal Fargo lawyer shot himself at I-29 rest stop (02/10/2012) HILLSBORO, N.D. – An autopsy has confirmed that Fargo attorney Steven M. Light, whose body was found Wednesday evening inside a rest stop near Hillsboro, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Traill County Sheriff’s Department said.

 “But with that, there’s so much stress and so much pressure, and that can eat you alive and make you depressed,” Richie said.

Law Students Commit Suicide (02/07/2012) Rohtak (Haryana), Feb 7 (PTI) A law student allegedly committed suicide by jumping before a moving train here, police said.Babli (22), who was pursuing LLB from Maharshi Dayanand University, ended her life by jumping before Delhi-Jind Passenger train yesterday, they said.
The reason behind the girl taking the extreme step is yet to be ascertained, police said.

Moroccan law graduate who set himself on fire dies  (01/24/2012)  A 27-year-old Moroccan who set himself on fire to protest his unemployment died from his burns Tuesday in a Casablanca hospital, his wife said.

Abdelwahab Zaydoun was part of a group of unemployed graduates who occupied an Education Ministry building inRabat, the Moroccan capital, to protest their unemployment and threatened to set themselves fire when police didn’t let supporters deliver them food.

Prosecutor commits suicide during traffic stop (11/11/2011): Christine Trevino, 51, of Escondido committed suicide at 6:36 p.m. outside a shopping center at Vista Way and Jefferson Street, north of state Route 78. Police had been looking for her to conduct a welfare check, said Lt. Leonard Mata in a news release.

Escondido police had received information earlier in the day that Trevino had threatened to kill herself, got into her car and drove away from her home. Using unmarked cars, police tracked her cell phone and located her in Carlsbad, where they requested assistance from the Carlsbad Police Department.

Council lawyer who hanged himself ‘wrote suicide letter to controversial boss Andrea Hill’ (08/31/2011)

Student’s Death Likely a Suicide (04/29/2010) CHAPEL HILL — A student found dead in an Odum Village apartment on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus Wednesday was a third-year law student who appeared to have killed himself, law school dean Jack Boger said Thursday.

Pune Law Student Commits Suicide (01/26/2010)PUNE/AHMEDNAGAR: A second-year student of DES Law College in Pune allegedly committed suicide by jumping into a well at Umbare Khandba village near Rahuri in Ahmednagar district, about 150 km from Pune, on Monday.

Suicide Victim a Baker & Hostetler Partner (01/22/2010) Police have determined that the death of John Mason Mings earlier this week on a beach in Galveston, Texas, was an apparent suicide. Mings was 45.

Body of Missing University of Michigan Law Student Found (12/03/2009) A University of Michigan Law School student reported missing last month hanged himself, Washtenaw County sheriff’s deputies said.

She was a mother of three and top lawyer who jumped off a bridge into the Thames. What does her death tell us about Britain today? (08/01/2009)

What do you do when your child is asking for you, while your boss is insisting that you get yourself into the next meeting, all the time desperately trying not to show one iota of the stress you are under beneath that polished veneer of professionalism.

It is an impossible situation. Why do it? For power and prestige? For inner fulfillment? Clearly, the latter was insufficient to prevent this lovely young woman cracking under the strain of it all and seeking her own final solution

Mark Levy–Laid off Lawyer Commits Suicide (04/30/2009). Mark Levy, a Washington DC lawyer, shot himself in the head in his office one day after being laid off from his law firm Kilpatrick Stockton.

 …David Baum, the law school’s assistant dean and senior manager of student affairs, said in a statement posted on Above the Law that the school had been aware of McGinnis’ challenges and adjusted his academic load.

Too Many Lawyers Not Enough Jobs: New York Edition

The statistics cannot be ignored, slow economy, too many lawyers not enough jobs = Do Not Attend law school. We warned you and now more than ever main stream media is catching up. Because it’s so obvious and so overwhelming. Where before, say five or more years ago, one had an excuse, no knowledge of deceptive statistics, false encouragement of upward mobility, the higher education will make your life better. The Wall Street Journal is telling you there aren’t enough jobs for attorneys and they’re just referring to the NEWLY minted law graduates; not those who have been laid off or otherwise terminated, from the high ranking partnerships to the staff attorney who find that there is no resources awaiting them in the legal industry.So add that to the 9,000 new law school graduates in New York alone. Here you go:

New York Times Report Show Lawyer Surplus Law Jobs Shortage, Lawcrossing Finds 29,000 Attorney Jobs

Pasadena, CA — (SBWIRE) — 06/29/2011
The New York Times is reporting that the tough job market for new lawyers is partly a result of a lawyer glut in the law jobs market.

The article is based on data gathered and analyzed by Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. (EMSI), a consulting firm specializing in economic analysis and employment data. The figures gathered by EMSI in fact show that the law schools are graduating more JDs than the economy can absorb for the next few years.

EMSI has taken as its baseline the number of people passing the bar in every state and DC in 2009. The numbers were then put up against the number of estimated job openings for lawyers in those states for the period 2010-15. In every state except Wisconsin and Nebraska, plus DC, there was a lawyer surplus.

The biggest surplus was in New York. 9,787 people passed the bar in 2009 for an estimated 2,100 openings for the period 2010-15. Nationwide, there were only 26,239 job openings for lawyers, while 53,508 people passed the bar. California was in second page with almost 3,000 lawyers in surplus.

Even Nebraska and Wisconsin just have negligible surpluses of law jobs for lawyers. But even though attorney jobs for new lawyers are scare, they exist in most states. LawCrossing is a job aggregator site for all types of legal jobs. The site has been able to locate over 5,500 attorney jobs in New York alone. Nationwide it has located over 29,000 attorney jobs.

Don’t Go to Law School if You Want a Living Wage

All Rights Reserved

Should have been the title of the following news column, but I guess the current one will have to do:

  January 21, 2011:

Don’t go to law school if you want to make money | Susan Estrich | Columnists | Washington Examiner

At this point, it seems like bloggers, commenters and now even law professors who are exposing the game are becoming redundant. But with millions of futures at stake and an industry that has changed to the point of likely never reverting back to the traditional ways of living wage, true prestige and intellectual competition, we cannot say it enough. Do not go to law school:

In recent years, an increasing number of law students have not gotten jobs like those, because most large firms (who are the ones paying $160,000 to start) have cut back significantly on new hiring. The idea that you can just walk out of law school and into a six-figure job is, for many students at most schools, a painful fantasy.

There’s an enormous amount of Wall Street-style accounting that goes into the reports on employment that law schools submit to the increasingly powerful organizations that rank them. So when you look at the numbers, you might think that almost everyone who goes to a half-decent law school is finding a great job after graduation. Oh my does she dare suggests that big money and corporate finance is used to ‘enhance’ of law school statistics and ability to graduate top notch law students? Perish the thought [o.k. that was some real sarcasm]

My first job out of law school paid $13,909. Granted, it was a long time ago. But even then, it was substantially less than what my classmates were making in private practice and barely enough to cover my rent, food, gas and, of course, those student loans.

But so what? I didn’t go to law school to make money. If that were my goal, I would’ve gone to business school, got a job in investment banking and yearned for one of those eight-figure Goldman partnerships.

I went to law school because I believed in the power of law to change people’s lives for the better. And I have never been happier, professionally speaking, than when I was making almost no money but believed that what I was doing mattered.

If the primary reason you’re applying to law school is because you want one of those $160,000 jobs, don’t . Forget it. Like medicine, law used to be a sure-shot to making a very, very good income.

Not anymore. The students who apply to med school know that there is no pot of gold waiting.

There are many better and easier ways to make money. Kids go to medical school today because they want to be doctors, not because they want to be rich. The same rule should apply to law school.

Law school almost certainly is a losing game if what you care most about is money. In my book, that’s probably a good thing. I understand to mean that if one’s primary goal was to seek justice and help others, one is less likely to be corrupted in their judgment, political leaning and more dedicated as a zealous advocate. The question is for those people who thought like that, why should they not be able to do an excellent job in their field helping others WHILE earning a decent wage. It appears that she has assumed that the current economy is weeding out the shysters and get-rich scheme and big corporate lawyers. I would caution that if anything, desperation for money could just breed more of what she surmises the industry was getting rid of.

Many of my former students started out in those high-paying jobs and now feel trapped and frustrated. Many who didn’t have that option have, through necessity, found careers they enjoy much more.

At a certain point in life, the escalators just stop running. When they do, you have to fend for yourself — decide what you care about, what matters to you, what tradeoffs you are and are not willing to make. The problem is that many students weren’t debriefed about what those tradeoffs were and were given misrepresentations of what the payoff would likely be. I agree that you do have to “decide what you care about’ a decent living wage, quality of life, time for family to make new friends rank high. Going to law school greatly interferes with it though.

That’s what being an adult is about. There are no guarantees.

We all learn that sooner or later. And learning it in law school does not strike me as a losing game at all. Says the woman with a decent paying job. Just say ‘no.’

Minorities Decrease Enrollment in Law Schools: They Figured Out the Game

In January Life’s Mockery posted: Law School Admissions Lag Among Minorities January 6, 2010 « Life’s Mockery .

All Rights Reserved

Though minorities increased obtaining a Bachelor’s degree and their LSATs score, decided to opt out of the law school, bury your financial future game. Well, it’s being reported again: 

Black Presence in Law Schools Dwindling
by Kenneth Mallory
We know how sincerely you’re concerned about minorities becoming a part of this noble profession. Or do you really see them as fresh hunting ground to lure them into the financial debt game via Sallie Mae; just like the mortgage industry did with home loans. How about improving the statistics of CURRENT unemployed minorities instead of trying to rope more into the dizzying maze of professional no-where-land.
“Miles to Go” finds that African-American representation in law is less than other professions, like teaching and medicine. Wow, this makes me feel better. Medicine is more lucrative, characterized by hard science and you practically help (well ideally) others improve their health. I’ve heard for years that education field need more teachers (primary), and even a call for reform regarding teachers’ salary.

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – A report by the American Bar Association has found that the proportion of minorities, including Blacks and Hispanics, enrolling in law schools has decreased in the past two years. One way to keep your risk of living in this country at a decent level.

”Minority representation among law students has dropped for the past two years, from 20.6 percent in 2001-2002 to 20.3 percent in 2003-2004,” said the findings in the third edition of “Miles to Go: Progress of Minorities in the Legal Profession,” published by the ABA’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Legal Profession.

In addition, the report contends minorities are less apt than Whites to head to private law firms after leaving law school, more likely to resign from firms after three years there and ”continue to be grossly underrepresented in top level jobs, such as law partner and corporate general counsel.” Interesting, but where are the statistics on unemployed minority attorneys, you know the majority?

The report’s author, New York Law School Professor Elizabeth Chambliss, deemed the finding of reduced enrollment ”extremely troubling,” and, in an interview, discussed the under-representation of minorities in the profession. Yes, you believe that the legal industry has not tapped into a potential lucrative resource that will increase your yearly salary and boost your probability of obtaining tenure. It’s not troubling for minorities who have figured out your game and know that they will be treated like second class citizens throughout law school and after with ‘professors’ having such racist proclamations as “You went to law school?” They’re saving themselves from additional psychological damage from overt racism that professors and others guise as a form of wit with such back handed compliments. Minorities aren’t stupid enough to believe you have a genuine ‘concern’ that they’re not attending law school

”The legal profession already is one of the least racially integrated professions in the United States when all four minority groups [African-American, Hispanic, Asian American, Native American] are aggregated,” she said. ”African-Americans, too, are represented at lower levels than in many comparable professions. In 2000, African-Americans made up only 3.9 percent of all lawyers, compared to 4.4 percent of physicians, 5.6 percent of college and university professors, 7.8 percent of computer scientists and 7.9 percent of accountants and auditors.”

Chambliss discussed the implications of such findings.

”The low level of Black representation in the profession may discourage promising Black students from considering law and limit Black lawyers’ chances to find mentors and role models within the law. And, to the extent that Black lawyers are more likely than others to be concerned with racial justice, discrimination, community development, and the like, the dearth of Black lawyers contributes to an already unequal access to lawyers in the United States.” Yes, discourage them, save them from a lifetime of Sallie Mae harassments, unemployment, the grits, the taunting, the presumptive “you’re here because of affirmative action.” How many decades have passed before you realized the false hope of upward mobility via law school. [See Life’s Mockery’s post for comments on legacy admissions, minorities, and chances for upward mobility: [University of Michigan Law Journal: Preserving a Racial Hierarchy: « Life’s Mockery]

The dean of admissions at a prominent area law school acknowledged a decline in the number of minorities enrolling in its program, while another said the number of Black applicants was declining. This is encouraging and tragic at the same time.

At the George Washington University Law School, Robert Stanek, associate dean for admissions and financial aid, said enrollment declined at the highly competitive school, which, according to the ABA, received more than 11,000 applications in 2004.

”Two, three and four years ago, we admitted a certain number of minority candidates, and usually the numbers that enrolled constituted about a third of the class,” said Stanek. ”Last year, our same number of offers of admission resulted in a much lower percentage registered. We didn’t see an application decline. We saw a decline in the numbers accepting our offer of admission.”

Stanek said school officials are still trying to ”digest exactly what [has] happened,” and, subsequently, have not initiated any new recruitment efforts for minority students. Minorities became weary of seeing their parent, sibling or spouse attend law school, saddle with debt, with little to no job prospect in the legal industry and the social environment of racism that permeates most law firms. I hope that clarifies it for you. Simply put, one gets tired of running into a brick wall, all the while expected to keep a smile on their face though the soul silently protests.

But Reginald McGahee, dean of admissions at Howard University Law School, perhaps the premiere African-American law school in the country, said the number of applicants applying to Howard Law and many other higher education institutions across the country has declined, especially among Black males.
Though most HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) are supported by minority attendance and this is a little daunting; but at the same time understandable. Though the social and educational experience is likely different than at other law schools, many have learned that a long-term strategy regarding standard of living and career is more of a priority.

”There is a universal drop in African-American males that are applying to law schools, and more specifically, higher education in general. And we’re seeing that same decline,” he said.

Law officials discussed obstacles that might preclude Blacks from pursuing careers in law, such as a growing disinterest in the profession and the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test), which many feel is biased against Black law school applicants. Why must you assume that it is the LSAT that is discouraging minorities and not the legal industry itself, especially in light of a previous article stating that minorities actually have increased their LSAT scores over the past few years [Law School Admissions Lag Among Minorities January 6, 2010 « Life’s Mockery] it is this presumptive racism that Blacks don’t want to deal with.

Lawrence Baca, chair of the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, said law schools can increase the number of minorities by having Black law school graduates reach out to Black students. If any Blacks do, I hope it is to be honest and warn them of the true reality of the legal industry in the United States.

”Any law school that wants to increase minority participation, or, particularly, Black participation, is going to have to get out and do some outreach work,” Baca said. ”The first thing that I would do if I was a law school is I would find my graduates of color, whatever racial or ethnic group it is, and ask them for their assistance in helping me identify folks and convincing folks to apply.” Outreach to Blacks? Why would they lower themselves to interacting with Black people, oh but then again the legal industry is a business so to repeat in Black Like Me: “We’ll do business with you…” Please spare us the ‘real concern’ facade and I hope 0Ls don’t fall for the attorney encouraging them to attend law school. This false prestige is disgusting, that’s why so many attorneys are so phony in their interactions because they’re deluded and continue to try to convince themselves and others about the industry. So the legal industry suggests using minority lawyers as the agent by which to their bidding and lead unwitting 0L sheep through to law school slaughter.

Baca said he believed a major reason Black students are not considering careers in law is because they lack role models in the profession and do not hear about positive things lawyers have done with their careers.  [emphasis mine]. Exactly, which is why for the most part they should not go.

He also said lawyers have not been pictured in a positive light in the media, possibly deterring students from considering law careers.

”The legal trade for one reason or another has not had the best reputation in the press, and to the extent that it may be causing students to not apply to law school, the way to get past that is for our folks to go into the law schools and say, ‘I don’t care about what you wrote about in the paper. Here’s what I did last week with my career,”’ said Baca. Yes, honesty in what has happened to their legal career, that would be great, please note that it won’t get the result you want, but will simply deter more potential students (hopefully) from enrolling.

But a major concern voiced by many future Black lawyers, as well as those advocating increased diversity in the profession, is the hurdle the LSAT poses to Black students.

”One of the main barriers to increasing diversity among law students is law schools’ heavy reliance on the LSAT. African Americans and other minority groups score lower, on average, than Whites, on the LSAT, yet law schools’ reliance on this measure of aptitude has increased markedly over time,”

Chambliss said in a statement. ”One point differences on the LSAT can make the difference between admission and rejection by law schools, even though such differences are not statistically significant, and even though the LSAT does not predict success as a lawyer, however measured.”

Stanek agreed that the LSAT is quickly becoming the most important factor in law school admissions.

”Is it overriding all other factors? I don’t think so — yet,” he said. McGahee said some currently believe the LSAT is biased.

”The main thing that we have to realize [is] that there’s a lot of debate out there right now that there are some inherent biases that go along with the LSAT. Being at Howard, we’re more sensitive to that than some other institutions in the countries may be. But what we can’t get away from [is] that, right now, there is no other test to properly evaluate and predict whether a student will or won’t do well in law school,” he said.

McGahee said Black students should take time to ensure they are prepared for the LSAT. But according to Chambliss, law schools shouldn’t rely as much on the standardized test.

”Law schools concerned with increasing the diversity of their student bodies need to focus less on the LSAT and more on other measures of achievement, including undergraduate grades and work history,” she said.

Although the LSAT is important, I sincerely hope that the media and the legal industry stop characterizing it as some unbeknown reason why this is likely an issue for minorities. One is having access to prepatory materials, which I would say 6-10 years ago was more difficult than now. Information technology has decreased the barrier of access and some may not understand how important the LSAT is in paving the path to their legal career. It’s more of an issue of preparation and not lack of ability or intelligence.

But Kim Keenan, president of the National Bar Association, a group representing thousands of Black lawyers, discussed the possible ramifications the underrepresentation of African Americans in law will have for the Black community in the future.I agree and discussed this here [Law School Admissions Lag Among Minorities January 6, 2010 « Life’s Mockery]

”Ultimately, at some point, you will not be able to find lawyers of color,” said Keenan. I hope you do not think this is by happenstance.

The Fourth of July, Black Unemployment and Senator Barbara Lee

July 2, 2010                                               
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, released the following statement today after the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued the June jobs report showing that unemployment is down to 9.5 percent:
“Today’s unemployment number continues to show signs that the economy is improving, however, the pace of our nation’s economic recovery is further evidence that government action to stimulate the economy and create jobs must remain a top priority. “The unemployment rate for African Americans remains unacceptably high at 15.4 percent. Likewise, African American and Latino teens are unemployed at 46.4 and 35.7 percent respectively, compared to an overall teen unemployment rate of 29 percent. “These gross disparities continue to underscore the urgent need for Congress to enact measures targeting communities that have been disproportionately hit by the economic slowdown and lag behind in the recovery. [emphasis mine] No specific measures are mentioned in the statement so I have to wonder whether people have just run out of ideas. The more time passes, the problem worsens and hope dwindles which causes some hopes to dwindle. It’s a vicious cycle. I really do not like or intend to comment regarding politicians but I believe it’s our duty to discuss policies that have disparate impact on law abiding, tax-paying ‘minority’ Americans.
“Last night, the House of Representatives approved a supplemental appropriations request that included $1 billion for youth employment programs, which will create 350,000 jobs for young people ages 14 to 24. I urge the U.S. Senate to swiftly approve this measure when they return to Washington D.C. after July 4th holiday. “ [emphasis mine]
Earlier this year, the Congressional Black Caucus criticized the President for not taking enough measures for economic issues affecting the black community. However, the President doesn’t have total control of what’s happening in Congress and to a significant degree it’s Congress’ fault for not being able to reconcile certain differences while children are literally living on the street with parents and families continue to face foreclosures. I find it ironic that one party states that the unemployment measure was not passed because  it would add to the deficit. So does supporting big corporations, with exorbitant tax breaks and the TARP bill bailout, who are the major market participants laying off employees contributing to the increase unemployment, no one wants to discussed how much that added to the national deficit. It’s o.k. to help corporate America, just not American citizens.  Anyway, many believe the President does not address these issues that affects the broader American people and more specifically Black Americans, from the Halls of Congress, to the Black suburbanites, the criticism is voiced:  
June 25: 2010:  Black Congress, critical of Obama, to convene in D.C. to set black agenda : Indybay

March 11, 2010:  Congressional Black Caucus: President Obama’s not listening – Lisa Lerer and Nia-Malika Henderson – POLITICO.com

I can understand the perceived divisiveness that speaking of Black and other minority issues can be. Especially when the broader American economy is suffering, which entails some White Americans who are impacted as well. However, just as Black and other minorities have been impacted the most, treating them with the a broader policy may actually cause them to slip through the cracks without providing a solution. Thus, when confronting a specific problem, it’s reasonable to work towards specific solutions though it will cause others who are not in the target group to feel comfortable with the notion.

As one woman states in July 2, 2010, 13A, USA Today’s paper:

…most years, I took great pleasure in reading the powerful Frederick Douglass speech, “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro.” [sic] Though delivered in 1852 during slavery the words have rich meaning for me, even today.

“What to the American slave, isyour 4th of July,” he thundered to a crowd in Rochester, NY. “I answer, a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celbration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity…yourshouts of liberty and equality a hollow mockery.” [emphasis mine]

The speech is a scathing indictment of U.S. hypocrisy.  If you called me on July 4, I would probably read you some of its rich and powerful passages. Our nation has come a long way since 1852, but for many African Americans, shouts of liberty are still hollow mockery. Unemployment is a scourge on all Americans, but the black unemployment rate, at 15.3% in May, is nearly twice the white rate. Every economic indicator–income, wealth, home ownership–screams inequality.”  ●●Julianne Malveaux

Harsh, yet truthful words for a harsh reality.

Have You Heard?: Feds Investigate For-Profit Universities Amidst Growing Default

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ahhh, it’s like music to our ears? On June 21, 2010 a U.S. Senate Committee announced a hearing entitled “Emerging Risk? An Overview of the Federal Investment in For-Profit Education”:  US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions: Newsroom – Press Releases

With the current economy and an increase of debt and student loan defaults, the federal government finally became satiated and wants answers. I really don’t understand how such a big portion of the U.S. economy both mortgages and student loans could remain unregulated for two decades and after the emerging economic collapse the question is asked “what happened?” o.k…let’s see if a little common sense will clarify: when you don’t supervise a sector and allow them to run amuck they will do anything they can, find any loophole, use any possible agent, step on the average American to get that almighty dollar. But as long as it APPEARED that the economy is ok and the private sector seemed to know what it was doing a blind eye was turned. Now, evidence of the economic consequence is so great, the country has to address it, though it appears it’s too late. Then again, it’s not like the exact same people have been in control or even members of Congress for the past two decades–wait the majority has. Yet, we have to give credit to the federal government for taking a major step to address these issues. Anyway… 

“More than two decades have passed since Congress last examined the for-profit education sector and in that time, we have seen an explosion in growth in for-profit colleges, and in the federal taxpayer dollars they receive,” said Harkin.  With students, families and taxpayers investing so heavily in for-profit institutions through large loan debt and billions of dollars in federal student aid, we must ensure that student are actually getting the knowledge and skills they need to pay off the debt. Congress has notice the massive debt that university students incur, without the ability find jobs in this horrible economy or actually demonstrate practical skills in the job market, thus making the university student “unmarketable” because as you know, you are considered as a commodity. You are a social security number, a statistic, owned by the private industry, that’s why your debt can be traded to whoever buys it and you have no say in the matter. 

“While for-profit colleges have a responsibility to their shareholders, they also have a responsibility to provide educational value to their students, and an obligation to ensure that the federal dollars they receive are well spent, particularly now that Congress has made an historic investment in student aid.” Historic? This word should cause us all concern, this sounds like a venture that is unprecedented which will require a different type of solution. The past two decades the federal government increasingly spent taxpayer dollars on colleges and universities without seeing a return. Maybe now the federal government understands what the average law graduate deals with everyday of his/her life.  College students graduating to become working citizens and meaningful participants in the growth of the economy (no, buying branded lattes does not count). But, let’s face facts, the government is seeing a constant money loss and want their money back, which is its right, however my skepticism dictates that it hardly cares whether or not students received a valuable education, just that, because the latter is lacking so is the student loans’ repayment rate. 

Witnesses will include:
Panel I
Kathleen Tighe, Inspector General, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC
Panel II
Steven Eisman, Portfolio Manager, FrontPoint Financial Services Fund, LP, New York, NY
Yasmine Issa, former Sanford Brown Institute student, Yonkers, NY
Sharon Thomas Parrott, Senior Vice President, Government and Regulatory Affairs and Chief Compliance Officer, DeVry, Inc., Chicago, IL
Margaret Reiter, former Supervising Deputy Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General, California Department of Justice, San Francisco, CA
  
Notice that not one dean of student affairs, university president, graduate student, or parent with a PLUS loan aren’t participating in this hearing session. At least there is one undergraduate student, though she only has $20,000 of debt; compared to any graduate or professional school graduate we scoff at that, but suffering is suffering. Looking at numbers, filings and memoranda will not give the full picture of this epic problem. Sometimes putting the faces with the numbers, stories of devastated lives injects the creative adrenaline needed to garner a communicable solution.

In the first panel: Kathleen Tighe , Inspector General, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC, her testimony does not get too relevant until P. 12:   

“Considering the economic downturn over the last several years, combined with escalating student loan debts, a significant concern is the potential for increased loan defaults as we have seen the national cohort default rate increase recently.” I agree we all should be worried, but I wouldn’t characterize this particular concern as ‘potential’ I think it’s more accurate to say ‘inevitable.’ I had to find the definition of ‘cohort’ default rate which refers to borrowers entering into their repayment period. Those in deferment or forbearance mask what will be the default boom of student loans. 

Not addressed by this change were two issues noted in our earlier report. In that report, we identified that cohort default rates were not a true representation, as they were reduced by: (1) a statutory change to the HEA’s definition of default from 180 days of delinquency to 270 days of delinquency; this 90-day delay excludes a significant number of defaulters from the cohort default rate calculation; and (2) an increase in the use of deferments and forbearances. As well as providing an increased period of time for universities to seek more funding with a buffer period hiding the true default, thus making the institutions appear more qualified for additional federal funding, at least that’s my theory. 

 We found that deferments and forbearances had more than doubled in the period we examined.  Borrowers in deferment or forbearance do not make payments on their loans, so they are not counted as defaulters, but they continue to be counted with other students in the cohort, thus reducing the cohort rate. May she meant “reducing the ‘cohort default rate.”  I guess I did have the right line of thinking. 

 While we recognize that the Congress has provided additional repayment flexibilities, when borrowers reach the limits on deferments and begin repayment they may still lack the income and eventually default and are not accounted for in the cohort default rate. The rest of her testimony can be read here: [http://help.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Tighe.pdf

I wanted to highlight one of the other testifiers Yasmine Issa, as she starts you feel as if she took a portion of your life transcript:  

Thank you for inviting me to speak today. My name is Yasmine Issa. I thought that going to school to learn a marketable skill would allow me to provide for my family. Instead it has left me more than $20,000 in debt, and unable to be hired in the field I trained for. The resounding imagery of your life has now flashed before your eyes. As you can see, she assumed that what she learn was actually a marketable skill, and as with many lawyers and law graduates was left unemployed. Oh and multiply that $20,000 by 5 and you have the average student loan debt for law graduates. The rest of her story diverges as her training was not from a certified school while law schools have no problem with accredidation [http://help.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Issa.pdf]. I may have to do a Part II, but am unsure I can stomach it.

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