Friday, September 25, 2009

Drake Law Takes Credit for Its Graduates' High Bar Passage Rate

I am glad that the pass rate for Drake grads on the July 2009 Iowa Bar Exam was 96 percent. Seventy-seven Drake Law grads sat for the exam, which means that 74 of them passed.

What is more important, however, is how many of these "lawyers" have job offers as attorneys from Iowa law firms, government agencies, and private companies? How many are working in law-related fields? How many are working as bartenders? What percent are working as waitresses and bus boys? How many as customer service reps? How many in retail sales? What percent are unemployed?

I talked to my friend, who is now taking court-appointed work. I asked how many in her Barbri course had job offers, and she said that many did not have ANYTHING lined up. Passing the bar and being able to call yourself a lawyer might impress your associates and family. But wouldn’t it be nicer to have a paying job as an attorney?

To Drake Law School: congratulations on the hard work of your graduates paying off. Now get to work on producing legitimate employment and salary info, you vultures! (Of course, one has a better chance of having his cat make Belgian waffles and grab the morning paper than expecting the CDO to produce such an account.) At least have the decency to update or erase the outdated, fraudulent “99% employed within 9 months of graduation” figure posted on your website.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Drake Law Mock Interview

Here is a faculty profile from another sacred cow at Drake University Law School:

Why I Teach

"It is vitally important for the future of the legal profession and for the public that law students receive the best training. That does not mean learning a lot of rules. It means learning to listen to clients, to understand their hopes, their fears and their objectives, both spoken and unspoken. It means dealing forthrightly with difficult legal issues that clients may not even realize are there. It means not being satisfied with a superficial examination of an issue. In estate planning, it means that the client should feel good about the experience. The client should feel that his or her objectives have been accomplished in a cooperative effort with the lawyer.

Working with law students is a wonderful experience. When I see a student who has thought hard about an issue suddenly get an insight, or when all the thought comes together in an incisive question, it is as rewarding as anything in the law.”

Read: I teach so that I can avoid being a lawyer. I want to bask in the safety of academia where I can edit casebooks, write law review articles, and earn a large six-figure annual salary. I also have the luxury of attending Drake basketball games with my colleagues due to my light schedule. I would not be able to do so if I were a practitioner.

Please enjoy the following mock interview between me and Professor Begleiter - remember this is a "mock interview" between me and a pleasant, intelligent, thoughtful law professor:

TTR: Today’s guest on Third Tier Reality is Ellis and Nelle Levitt Distinguished Professor of Law at Drake University, Martin Begleiter. Welcome. How are you today, professor?

Professor: I am well. Don’t forget that I am also a member of the American Law Institute (ALI) and an advisor to both the ABA and the Restatement (Third) of Trusts.

TTR: How could I forget to mention those significant accomplishments? Well, professor, it must be nice to teach law school as opposed to actually practicing tax law.

Professor: Well, I thoroughly enjoy both, but I like being able to give something back by training the next generation of lawyers.

TTR: How can you say you enjoy both? You have been teaching at Drake Law for 32 years, correct?

Professor: That is right. I have taught here since 1977. But like every faculty member at Drake Law School, I have actually practiced law.

TTR: Why do you believe that a student asking an incisive question is “as rewarding as anything in the law”? This is not necessarily a great accomplishment, in and of itself. Junior high school kids ask piercing questions all the time. What makes it so special when a law student does so?

Professor: Yes, that does occur. However, those middle school kids are not asking deep, penetrating questions with regard to estate planning or the complexities of the U.S. Tax Code.

TTR: I don’t see why a normal, healthy twelve-year-old would ask such a question since these are not typical areas covered in middle school. Back to my previous question: What makes it so rewarding for you to hear a succinct question from a student taking Wills and Trusts?

Professor: It shows that my legal background and method of teaching have an impact on my students, who as you well know will be practicing law and making a difference in the lives of others. They will seek justice throughout their professional careers.

TTR: They will seek “justice” as transactional attorneys in estate planning? That is, of course, if they can find work as an attorney.

Professor: Sir, I will stop you there. Are you not aware of the fact that 97.4% of Drake Law graduates are employed within nine months of graduation?

TTR: Employed in what capacity? The law school relies on self-reporting data to reach this figure, correct? How many graduates, as a percentage, actually report their employment status to the school? Who audits the self-reporting employment and salary figures?

Professor: I don’t have time for these irritating questions, sir. Good day.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dental School v. Law School

Number of Schools: How many blogs started by unemployed, broke, angry dental practitioners do you run across? Look at the numbers – dental graduates each year are less than 5000. There are only 56 ADA-approved dental schools in the United States. And the number of schools and seats has actually declined from the mid-1980s!! In contrast, the 190+ ABA-approved law schools graduate in excess of 40,000 students each year.

Rankings: The dental schools ABSOLUTELY REFUSE to be ranked by USN&WR. This is an industry that cares about its practitioners and students!! This is the antithesis of law school administrators and ABA lackeys (who only care about Biglaw). For all practical purposes, it does not matter if you have your D.D.S. from Columbia University or Creighton whereas it does matter if you have your J.D. from these institutions. The ADA understands that the training is just as thorough and competent at any of its 56 member schools. (under Dental School Rankings)

The majority of law graduates come from non-T14 schools. Hence, their job prospects are limited from the moment they enter said law school – unless, of course they end up ranked #1 in their class. Then there are the non-ABA approved schools, whose graduates will be limited pretty much to PI or criminal defense work in California (if they can pass that state’s bar exam).

Job Security: When you, or one of your kids, have a tooth ache, you make sure to get into a dentist’s office for a checkup. If there is something that needs to be addressed, you then see the doctor again for follow-up treatment and services. Hell, many poor people will gladly pay out of pocket to make sure their teeth are treated. Most poor people cannot afford a competent attorney AND they don’t see this as a vital service.

You also have the option of representing yourself in legal matters. You can usually look up the statutes (and some case law) online, or you can do so at the local law school library. You DO NOT have the option (or the talent, skills, education, tools and competence necessary) to remove your own permanent retainer or perform a root canal on yourself, or on someone else.

In sum, the ADA cares about the investments of their students in their professional training. The first two years of school are classroom-based, whereas the last two years of the program are clinic-based. In contrast, the ABA does not give a damn about the over-saturation of the legal market. Law schools still rely on legal theorists to train future lawyers! The ABA does not require any clinical practice before a student graduates. But the ABA will be sure to make an example of you if you make a mishap as a poorly-trained solo practitioner.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Up the Creek if You Go to a TTT

I just got off the phone with a friend of mine who passed the Iowa Bar Exam. The only problem is that this person has no job offers. And then there are those pesky, little things known as student loans that we must eventually pay back. I have now been inspired to post this entry.

Professor James Adams of Drake University teaches Evidence at the law school. He has apparently taught there for 35 years. These are his words, from his faculty profile:

Up the Creek

"One afternoon while fly fishing for cutthroat trout in particularly difficult conditions in Wyoming, I thought of fly fishing as a microcosm of legal practice: both require problem solving within ethical and physical or legal limits. Fly fishermen study casting theory, insect population and locations, and feeding habits. The sport also requires observation, instruction, a lot of backyard practice, and consideration of environmental ethics. Although I had not read anything about how to deal with that day's fishing challenges, prior reading and simulations provided the analytical foundation for solving the problem and catching a 15-inch trout.

On a larger scale, law school provides a solid theoretical base and develops students' ethical awareness and analytical skills through reading, instruction, simulation and guided clinical legal practice. The practitioner then can effectively and ethically solve the frequent non-textbook situations that appear in a legal practice and other facets of life. Law is like fly fishing. You cast perfectly in the backyard, but each stream is different and each day on the stream is different."

Law is like fly fishing – wow, this is DEEP, penetrating advice. The only thing I like about this faculty profile is the title, Up the Creek. This is a perfect analogy on so many levels: First, so many law students end up a proverbial creek with massive student loan debt and no job prospects.

Secondly, this “Ellis and Nelle Levitt Distinguished Professor of Law” has helped reel in so many unsuspecting small fry and big fish from small ponds. I imagine he has done so in a "distinguished" manner. Actually, I have seen this man in action. He teaches Evidence and he apparently lives to instill the fear of God in his students. He actually seems to have contempt for his students - maybe it is because we were not smart enough to get into a T14 school. What is so noble about cutting down law students? I suppose the school feels that length of teaching indicates prominence.

Lastly, the law school industry thrives on the old bait and switch. The schools aggressively bill themselves as providing stellar legal educations which will in turn produce successful, financially secure lawyers who will be able to use their law degrees to help better society. They put out incomplete, distorted and false salary info and job statistics. They do so to lure in unsuspecting law students. Damn, James. I could not have said it better myself. Up the creek, indeed.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Drake Law is a Best Buy - According to National Jurist Magazine

News & Events
Drake University Law School Named A 'Best Value Law School' By National Jurist

Drake Law School was ranked sixth out of 13 private schools, which were among 52 public universities, in the "Best Bang! for your buck" story.

"It is rewarding to have this outside confirmation that we have achieved both excellence and good value," said Dean Allan Vestal.

I am glad you received this outside confirmation, Allan. Too bad this reads more like a paid advertisement.

For its 2009 best value ranking, The National Jurist identified 65 law schools that carry a relatively low price tag and "are able to prepare their students incredibly well for today's competitive job market."

Guess what, Allan? I now have a job that DOES NOT REQUIRE A LAW DEGREE! And I found this job with NO HELP from Career Development Office (even after the CDO told me that they would help me find a job in the region of the country I was looking at). What is one more broken promise?

The schools were then ranked with greatest weight to tuition followed by employment statistics.

The National Jurist is simply a trade association shill. I have stated this before on this blog. The magazine would promote the delicious taste of dog food, if the industry paid it enough to do so. That being said, let’s take a look at the list. Look at the criteria. For private schools, like Drake, the cost must be less than $30,000 per year. What a great deal, huh? Yes, paying $30,000 for a JD from a third or fourth tier law school is “a relatively low price tag.” If this is the case, then it is merely a symptom of over-priced American legal education.

The employment criteria are also bogus: they rely on self-reporting. There are no outside audits by an independent firm or agency. The law schools have a vested interest in reporting positive employment rates and salary info. The fact that the ABA does not move for independent audits of employment and salary info shows conclusively that the ABA does not give a damn about prospective law students. And this is especially the case for those who attend TTTs.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Classic – Man Puts His DePaul Law Degree Up For Sale on Ebay

I will let David Wold express his reasons for selling his law degree online:

Why am I selling this great item? Because it has been nothing but a curse and aggrevation in my life. Going to school for this degree has been a joke, and has only brought me stress and misery. This degree has been a great invitation to work at least 60 hours a week at a place where I don't want to be for people that I don't care about. It has helped me develop great relationships with bill collectors as I can't afford the cost this great privilege has afforded me.[emphasis mine].


Please note that I am in no way claiming that by purchasing this degree you will be given credit for having attended an accredited law school and completing its course of study nor will it give you the necessary credentials to take the bar exam. You will not be able to become a lawyer by purchasing this degree.

The law schools, if they had a conscience and ANY ethics, would state right upfront: “Please be aware that you may wind up with six figure student loan debt and no job offers. ____ Law School does not claim that your having attended an accredited law school and completing its course of study will give you the necessary credentials to pass the bar exam. If you do not graduate in the top ten percent of your law school class, you may not be able to become a lawyer despite your investment in time, energy and money. You may also find it very difficult to find employment in other sectors, as your degree may make you “overqualified” for many non-law positions.” I give David Wold credit for his brutal honesty.

Let’s take a look at this lower-second tier law school for a moment. Tuition at DePaul University’s law school is $37,525 per year!! This is not a joke. You read that figure right – more than $37K per year for a Juris Doctorate from this second tier law school. (It is ranked #87 by USN&WR with seven other schools.) Does anyone really think DePaul law graduates can compete for Biglaw jobs with their counterparts from the University of Chicago or Northwestern? Also, don’t forget that Chicago is an expensive city.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Drake Law as Great Return on Your Investment? - Sure It Is

Look at the info in the green box under Quality and Value

Academic Excellence — Professional Experience

A Drake Law School education provides high returns on your investment.

• Rated a top 10 private school “Best Buy for Your Money” by National Jurist magazine.
• Highly ranked programs in Intellectual Property Law, Advocacy, Clinical Training, and Legal Writing.
• More than 50 percent of students receive scholarships totaling more than $3.5 million.
• 91% of 2007 Drake first-time takers passed the Iowa Bar — Drake's pass rate is consistently above the national average.
• All students since 1993 have had the opportunity to meet a U.S. Supreme Court justice.
• Every student who wants to enroll in a live client clinic can do so.
• Drake faculty have practiced law.
• Student Bar Association named 2007 SBA of the Year.
• Award-winning law library and clinic facilities

Oh yeah, these things add up to one hell of a return on your investment. Tuition is now $30,750. I graduated in May – I work in a non-legal job making $37K a year. And I am actually doing better than many of those in my graduating class. MANY ARE STILL UNEMPLOYED! And this is not due solely to the terrible economy (Thanks, Wall Street criminals and designers of our debt-based economy), but is a symptom of a heavily-saturated market. Many are “overqualified” to work in non-law positions – I know, I had some employers tell me the same thing, i.e. “We are not sure if someone with your background will stick around here when something better comes along.” Many others simply refused to even contact me back, due to my "credentials."

Also, who cares about the SBA at any law school? Unless you were the SBA president at your school, do any employers care about your involvement in this organization?

Who cares if the bar passage rate for the Iowa Bar was 91% in 2007 if you can’t find a damn job in a law firm (any size), government, or in the private business sector upon graduation!!

Lastly, National Jurist magazine is simply a trade association shill – it would extol the virtues and dietary/nutritional benefits of fast food if the industry gave them enough money to do so.
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