Friday, October 30, 2009

Low Wages For All



This article was brought to my attention by Lawyers Against the Law School Scam - http://lawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2009/10/mainstream-media-is-starting-to.html

Such uplifting news. Of course, the news media is always slow to react to such things. This has been the case for years. The Democrats and Republicans (really two prongs of a corporate machine) have sold the average working person down the river for the last 30-40 years. I know quite a few people with Master's degrees and law degrees who are unemployed. I was at my friend's house on Wednesday night, and the guy is pretty much done with medical school; he is now doing his rotations and then he will go back in May for graduation. He will start making about $49,000 a year as a podiatrist. This friend EXCELLED in med school - from the moment he started. As a result, he had his choice of rotations and residencies. Look where that got him!

I know, being a foot doctor is probably not the best decision in the world. But the malpractice insurance is relatively low, you can work in an office and have a regular schedule, you are not on call, and there are only about 300 slots a year in the U.S. In sum, this allows a doctor to have a normal family and personal life. Few med schools offer the program, and they do what they can to ensure that they do not collectively produce more podiatrists than there are available positions. If you go to med school to be one, you will ALMOST CERTAINLY have a paying job as a podiatrist. (This is not the same as law school, because the schools see it as their main priority to keep the cash cow going; this is why they produce 45,000 law grads every year when there are already too many JDs floating around.) This friend has over $220,000 in student debt, BTW.

We are in the early stages of a third world country - declining pay, longer hours, less career opportunities for the most educated part of the populace, less chances for advancement, no secure jobs, etc. I keep telling people who are interested in law school (or even MBA or a Master's of engineering): "Go on the cheap; know exactly what you want from the program/degree; realistically look at the job market for those in your field; and realize that you may earn the degree (and spend the time, money and energy on this pursuit) and end up EXACTLY WHERE YOU ARE NOW!!"

For instance, I work with a policy analyst (from another firm) who is dead set on going to law school for a J.D. and Master of Public Policy. The schools she is looking at are not cheap, and she does not want to go to the state school. She is 36 years old, and she is pretty bright. I have told her that she needs to go cheap, and preferably get a full-tuition scholarship. When I told her that she might get the J.D./M.P.P. and end up as a policy analyst working for the same industry making the same amount she is now, she got upset. She has her heart set on this endeavor. I also have a friend who is currently teaching English in Korea. He wants to go to law school in New York City. I have referred him to my blog list and provided other helpful info.

In the final analysis, we simply cannot compete with countries/corporations that pay their employees a crap wage, have deplorable working conditions, and have little to no environmental or human rights provisions/schemes to comply with. "Education is the key" has been our national mantra for the last few decades or so. But the reality is that higher education is simply a business. The professors and university administrators are there to keep up the faith of their customers/students.

Monday, October 26, 2009

More Tripe from Drake 1L – Kid Still Elated Over Honor Code Lecture


Exhibit A

“During the seminar we got to hear from a great panel with Dean Vestal, Dean Lovell, Professor McCord and 2 students who are the Student Honor Board Members representing the 2L and 3L classes. Having students present gave us a student's prospective that I thought was very helpful.”

Two questions come to mind: first, what was so great about a panel composed of three overpaid law professors and 2 student honor board members? Second, what the hell is a student’s “prospective”? If you want a third tier law grad’s perspective, then check out my blog and look at the sites on my blog list.

“The Honor Code is very important. It holds professional students at the law school to a higher standard. It is helpful to know that all students will be held to a high ethical standard and that if students should make bad choices, there are consequences.”

Yes, the sacred honor code. Isn’t it sick and deplorable that LAW STUDENTS ARE HELD TO A HIGHER ETHICAL STANDARD than the thieving industry, the bar associations, the courts, the schools (which rely on misleading, incomplete salary and employment statistics to lure in unsuspecting victims), the professors (who perpetuate the lie further and make six-figure annual salaries in the process), and the larger universities (which view their law schools primarily as cash cows)?!??

Listen, kid: you can blow your nose with the school’s precious honor code. (In two and a half years, you can do the same with your third tier law degree.) That is what it is good for. It is there to give you the idea – the false impression - that law is an honorable, ethical profession.

I guess you did make a poor choice in deciding to attend a third tier law school. And you WILL pay the consequences, i.e. large student loan payments, landing a low-paying job after school, and - very likely - the inability to find work as an actual attorney. If you go solo, you may pay dearly if a client files a formal complaint alleging incompetence with the State Bar. You will pay – NOT the ABA-approved school that trained you and let you loose on the unsuspecting public.

Drake 1L Adam Kaduce concludes with: “It was a great seminar to continue to remind students of the high standard that we as law students and soon to be lawyers are held to.”

Yes, the “profession” of law is so ethical that the ABA allows U.S. law firms to offshore American legal work to foreign lawyers AND non-lawyers. See ABA “Ethics” Opinion 08-451. The ABA is fully aware that there is a gross oversupply of lawyers in the U.S. market, yet they continue to allow more law schools to be built. The bar associations and law schools KNOW that there are nowhere near enough lawyer jobs to satisfy 45,000 fresh JDs every year.

The law schools continue to perpetuate the lie that “A law degree will open up many doors to you, in industries other than law. One can do anything with a law degree.” The harsh reality is that a law degree will limit your job prospects, as non-law employers will wonder why someone is willing to pass up a large salary in the legal field to work for them.

The law schools are aware that recent graduates will be competing directly with lawyers who have 10-20 years experience for low-paying jobs!! Do you really think you have a shot at a Public Defender position, when there are hundreds of experienced, competent private defense lawyers who are willing to take this job, which likely pays $44,000?!?! JAG positions are EXTREMELY competitive right now. Hell, the ABA and the schools KNOW these things, but they would rather keep the façade up. They DO NOT CARE that you – the student – will end up in significant student loan debt with little chance of paying it back. Remember, you are nothing to them.

Exhibit B


“Tonight a bunch of 1L's went the a Des Moines Buccaneers games. The "Bucs" are Des Moines's Hockey team. I am convinced there is nothing like a hockey game in Des Moines. The chill of the ice rink with the passion of the fans, there's simply nothing like it!!! Taking in a Bucs game is a great way to start a weekend or enjoy a weeknight. You never know what you'll see. We were busy as we watched the game applying our knowledge of criminal law and torts as the players smashed into each other. We had a great time as the Bucs rallied late in the third period. The Bucs lost but we had a great time cheering them on!!!”

Exhibit C


Wow! This is sad beyond measure. I wonder how long it will take this guy to realize that law is not great profession he thinks it is. Actually, I rest my case - it's a lost cause. Many 1Ls do not find this out, until it is too late.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Update on My Visit to the Law School Fair

I was only able to hand out a few leaflets before someone from the school told me that I cannot distribute pamphlets at a university function. I gave my folder over to this person, and told him that I would head inside. I picked up my folder afterward.

I talked to reps/salespeople from the following schools: Albany, Cardozo, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexico, Pace, Roger Williams, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Touro, UCLA, Utah, and Whittier. I also picked up materials from Columbia, Pitt, and Villanova. I did not drop by the Drake table, but I noticed that the salesperson was someone I had never seen before.

As you can see, I intentionally dropped by some of the worst toilet law schools. And, of course, their salespeople were the most aggressive. These schools touted their location, clinical programs, internships, externships, alleged history, and other “accomplishments.” The saleswoman from Albany told me that “Albany is the only private law school in upstate New York.” (Wow - you got me. I wish I had gone there instead.)

The sales lady from Cardozo informed me that “The Innocence Project was started at Cardozo, not that school in Chicago.” The recent grad from Whittier was very excited, as he told us how strong the criminal defense program is at Whittier and how much he loves working for his criminal defense firm. He is still waiting on the California Bar results.

The salesman from Roger Williams was very likable. He even told me - with a straight face - “Our students have not felt the effects of the economy as much as other schools, because we have such a strong connection with the public sector. We are also the only law school in Rhode Island.” These are selling points?!?! The sales associate at Pace gave me the virtues of the location, i.e. “We are 30 minutes from Manhattan. In fact, several rail lines go directly from White Plains to New York. Several Pace students live in the boroughs.”

The ONLY straight-shooter of the entire bunch was the student rep manning the table for UCLA. When I asked him about response rates, he said “I was told that it is 99%. When I first heard that, I said ‘That can’t be right.’” When I asked about median salaries, he replied, “The salary info is probably skewed upward because those with high incomes almost always report back to the school.” (This is the same Top 15 school where a relative of mine just graduated from in May. The guy still does not have a job lined up.)

I had at least 3 salespeople tell me that no one else asked about response rates to graduate surveys. There were also lots of lemmings in attendance, which was to be expected.

I asked the salesladies at the University of Utah about response rates. They said “100 percent.” When I asked how that is possible, the younger woman said, “Because I’ll hunt them down. I was a lawyer, so I know how to track people down.” Yeah, that was real convincing. I then asked, “Which organization or firm audits your employment or salary figures?” They looked at me and said, “We audit our own statistics.” I did this in front of about ten other students who were checking out the school’s materials.

With regard to prospective law students, several told me that “Law school is a recent idea for me. That’s why I’m here today, to learn more.” It was also funny how fast the law school salespeople jumped on these students. Actually, it was disgusting. “These kids don’t know what to with their lives at this point in their college career?!? Let jump on them and lure them in with our glossy brochures, DVDs, slick sales techniques, and false and misleading employment statistics and salary figures. They don’t know any better, anyway.”

The highlights of the fair - well, the saleswomen from St. John’s and Kansas were pretty hot. Also, the woman from Seton Hall asked me right up front, “Have you heard of Seton Hall?” And I quipped, “Yeah, I’ve heard of Dean Hobbs and Scott Bullock.” But like a true professional, she went on with her sales pitch, without flinching or skipping a beat (and without reporting me to the front desk). I also enjoyed seeing the responses from some of the sales reps when I asked about audits, self-reporting, response rates, how the average salary is determined, how the median differs from the average, etc. In particular, the salesladies at Indiana and New Mexico need to work on their sales techniques. Professionals should not lose their cool that easily over a simple question.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Attending an Upcoming Law School Fair



This afternoon, I was on the campus of my undergrad school. I was returning some library books, but the school is on semester break this week. As I was leaving, I came across a large banner notifying the unsuspecting world of an upcoming event of epic proportions - a law school fair. Oh joy! Well, I stood there in the plaza for a moment. As my knuckles turned white, I decided, at that instant, to crash this party. I will be at the Union Ballroom at the University of Utah on October 20th.


First, I will casually go from table to table and ask the admissions officers to show me how they came up with their employment and starting salary figures. I will ask them in front of interested students. I am sure this will upset the school representatives. But then again aren’t lawyers trained to use critical thinking and not simply take people or organizations at their word? I will also ask for a breakdown of employment, i.e. “Who is working tables, tending bar, teaching high school, or selling insurance nine months after graduation?” I will also ask for their response rate to the surveys, and what percentage of their graduates are working as paid attorneys. I will arm myself with bar passage rates from as many of the schools as I can.

Then, I will take this opportunity to distribute leaflets to pre-law students. I will also include links to websites such as JDU, Unemployed Lawyer, Skadden Farts, and several others. I will also have handouts showing the true state of the lawyer market. I will also provide news articles on the sad, shrinking legal market. Those interested in law need to be made aware of the fact that law school is a pitfall for most. It is truly an expensive proposition and a bad bet.

Next, I will talk to students and see what they expect from law school. I will then explain to them the harsh reality of law school – how the sleepless nights, constant stress, debt load, and time constraints do not, in any way, guarantee one even a fair chance at a successful career. The market is oversaturated and has been for decades. The market will not magically improve after this “economic recession” passes.

I understand that many cannot be dissuaded at this point. Many of the attendees have already bought into the lie, i.e. “I will go to law school, study my ass off, learn to think like a lawyer, make law review, do moot court, rub shoulders with the real movers and shakers of the legal community, get a summer clerkship after first year, make lots of money, easily pay off my student loans, maybe clerk for the Circuit Court of Appeals before joining a big corporate firm, etc.” Many are past the point of no return – many will have already registered with LSAC, submitted their transcripts and letters of recommendation. But I must try something.

Direct action is needed. I figure this is at least worth a shot; who knows? – maybe the school paper will be there. The worst case scenario is that I am asked to leave the fair. I am not concerned with getting arrested or fired. I will make sure that I break no laws. The event is free and open to the public. And I simply want to ask some questions of law school officers and inform the students of the scam.


If I can get even one or two people to reconsider their decision, then the effort will have been worth it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Position: Desperate Lawyer Needed



This was brought to my attention by a JDU thread:

Here is the actual job posting from the Alabama State Bar:

Desperate Lawyer Needed
Associate Attorney to work hard for little pay in primitive conditions with no benefits.
Sense of humor required.
Email one page resume to christy@skinnerlegal.com
(Previous applicants need not reapply). B'ham (Homewood)
Civil Practice - no domestic, no criminal

Section: Position Available
Closes: 11/29/2009
Ad ID: 528
Yeah, I suppose a sense of humor is required if someone has spent 7+ years of their life on post-secondary education, accumulated immense student loan debt, passed the bar, and jumped through all the various hoops to be an attorney and then is expected to work hard for little pay and NO BENEFITS. In "primitive conditions," no less. I can see how a sense of humor would come in handy.


Isn’t this great? Now, aren’t you happy that you decided to go to law school and enter such a secure, financially-rewarding, yet mentally-stimulating “profession?” If you know anyone who is considering law school, please show them this link. If you know anyone at work or in your social group who says proudly, “My niece is getting ready to apply to law school,” PLEASE print off the job posting and leave it on their desk. I would suggest posting this on TLS, but the lemmings and trolls there are INTENT on going to law school, even in the face of reality.

This ad is important – it is posted in the Classifieds section of the state bar’s website. It indicates that even the state bar association is admitting, “The game is up, kids.” Obviously, the bar wants the ad revenue. But the fact that it is on their website is an obvious sign that the lawyer market is over-saturated.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Drake Law Prof Backs Consumer Financial Protection Act




It is nice to see that you got all dolled up for this photo, Cathy. With your six-figure salary and soft schedule, one wonders why don’t you do this more often. (After all we have been through together, I feel comfortable calling you Cathy. You remember when I came to your office to go over my first semester Contracts exam, and you icily said, “If you want, I can go to the Registrar and change your grade to an “F”?) Until now, I have chosen not to bring this up on my blog – I didn’t want to come across as spiteful.

From Cathy’s lips:

"This legislation will provide the government with consolidated and focused ability and willingness to protect consumers from dangerous financial products in the same way the government has always protected consumers from exploding toasters," Mansfield said.

Will such legislation address protecting consumers, i.e. students, from the DANGEROUS FINANCIAL PRODUCTS known as student loans and third tier legal education? If not, can the proposed legislation be amended to include such protections? After all, six-figure student loan debt with no job prospects is a much bigger problem than an exploding toaster. You can at least toss the appliance out or get a refund. If your house burns down because of a defective toaster, you file an insurance claim. In contrast, one cannot discharge student loans in bankruptcy.

Cathy continues:

"Regulation of financial products is now spread out over many federal agencies that don't have consumers as their primary concern," she added. "Having one agency focusing on the needs of financial consumers will lead to stronger consumer protection. I believe if any agency like this had existed during the past 10 years we could have avoided the subprime mortgage market driven economic meltdown of the last year."

Yeah, we all know how much concern law school profs, university administrators, admission officers, and student loan companies have for their consumers/victims. Law schools definitely have the interests of law students as their primary concern. Here’s some food for thought: If TTTs had not been allowed (by state agencies and the ABA) to put out false and misleading employment and starting salary info, we would not have such a gross oversupply of lawyers and JDs in the marketplace. These figures cause lemmings to apply to TTTs. These consumers end up with massive student loan debt loads, as a result of this fraud.

Since she loves consumers so much, ask Cathy if she will be happy to support legislation, or draft statutory language, whereby students can discharge their student loans in bankruptcy. Her email address is cathy.mansfield@drake.edu.

Cathy, if you truly want predatory lenders to provide better disclosure and to be held to tighter regulations, then you should also require the same of Sallie Mae and the law school industry.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Drake 1L Still Swooning After Ethics Lecture - Pathetic




Look at this blog for second – this poor student is ga-ga over a visit from an Iowa state Supreme Court “justice.” Get a hold of yourself, young man. And quit calling this guy “Justice” every time you mention his name. He is Mark Cady – he went to Drake (which means the school is tremendous, right?!?!) and later became a judge. He is just another cog in the machine – nothing more.

On a side note, does anyone else find it comical that a judge has the nerve to lecture debt-soaked law students on holding themselves to high ethical standards?

In an ideal world, here is how a legal ethics talk would have started out: “Yes, Drake is charging you $30,750 a year (tuition was NOWHERE near this level when I was a student here in 1978) and when you leave the school, many of you WILL NOT have jobs as attorneys, even in small law firms or government agencies. THE SCHOOL MISLED YOU with incomplete employment statistics. The school MADE LOTS OF MONEY off of these stats. The ABA is AWARE of this situation and allows the schools to engage in this fraud. Yet, it is YOU – the gullible student – who must hold yourself to a high ethical standard.”

Back to Adam’s blog:

“Justice Cady also spoke about how we are the future of the legal practice. That leaves us with a lot of power. We get to set the rules, we can hold the profession to a higher standard and fight for high ethical standards to remain a pinnacle of the profession. On the other hand, we will represent the profession, we will be the face of an industry that is not entirely lovable. We get to work to continue to evolve the profession from where it might have been, to where it can be. With great power comes great responsibility.”

Does anyone with even a passing knowledge of the industry actually believe any of this? “We get to set the rules? We [have] a lot of power?” WOW!! Some law students are pretty naïve, after all. Usually, the first week of law school is enough to disabuse one of these notions. The power resides with the money masters – the judges, bureaucrats and elected officials are merely the sock puppets of the wealthy industrialists.

“We will represent the profession”? Not unless you become a federal appeals court judge, a partner in a Biglaw firm, or a high-ranking politician. Not much chance of that happening with a Drake law degree - or a JD from most law schools, for that matter.

And my personal favorite: “We can fight for high ethical standards to remain a pinnacle of the profession.” The profession of prostitution maintains higher ethical standards than law does.

Yet more tripe:

“Drake Law School is in a very unique position because of our connection to Des Moines. Our alumni remain connected to the university and often come back to speak. It was an honor to have Justice Cady speak with us, and he left us with some great questions and philosophies for our future in the legal profession.”

Does having alumni speak to you help you find a legal job? Does it help one pay back his student loans? As far as stating that “It was an honor” to have a law industry defender speak to you, I want to puke. I cannot stomach this any longer.

Hopefully, this guy writes law essays better than the writing skills he exhibits on his blog. (I hope he smashes his final exams.) To top it all off, I’ll bet this young student is paying full sticker for the privilege of obtaining a prestigious law degree from Drake. With delusional optimism like this, you can count on more law schools being built.
 
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