Saturday, March 13, 2010

Get Ready to Wipe: The National Jurist


I am taking a brief reprieve from my series of features on Chicago-area toilets of law. This is due to the actions of the editor-in-chief of the rag known as National Jurist. I was going to reserve judgment until after the March issue came out. However, three recent developments have made this entry necessary.

Jack Crittenden thinks law students should NOT seek to make a positive return on their “investment.” (Yes, shame on these people for wanting to eat and pay bills - as well as for seeking to avoid living in their sister’s basement for the next 30 years.)

For too long, many of the students who entered law school were seeking the high paying salaries that law schools were too happy to advertise. It was a rush to greed. And many of these wealth-seekers were sorely disappointed when they failed to land the $160,000 job.

Most never even had a chance, as only 20 percent of all graduates were landing jobs with salaries greater than $100,000. But, to be fair, some even failed to land the $40,000 job and now have $100,000 in debt breathing down their necks.

But the larger point is that law schools became filled with too many students who were more focused on a good return on their investment. We now have several blogs feeding this disenchantment. But buyer’s remorse does not get us very far.

Actually, some of us are simply trying to get the truth out to potential victims/law students. I will pay off my student loans. I merely want to help others avoid my fate. Would you prefer if I gave false info to young people and told them what a great investment law school is? Oh wait – that’s what YOUR magazine does!

In terms of faculty-student ratios, there are twice as many law professors per student today as there were 30 years ago, the National Jurist says.

The study by the National Jurist says the higher staffing levels at 195 ABA-accredited institutions account for 48 percent of tuition increases during the period studied, from 1998 to 2008. Average tuition during that time is up 74 percent at private schools and 102 percent at public institutions, the study says.

So, is this your way of pushing blame onto the US News & World Report annual law school rankings? That is such an original idea, Jack. So, what percentage of tuition increases is due to the following factors: (a) non-dischargeable, federally-backed student loans; (b) false and misleading employment and starting salary figures put out by the law schools; (c) lack of ANY oversight with regards to schools’ self-reported numbers; (d) aggressive advertising by the law school industry, in publications such as yours; (e) desperation caused by a low-wage, service-based economy; and (f) unmitigated greed on the part of the law schools and the ABA?

And, now to the straw that broke the camel’s back:


Thomas M. Cooley Law School officials announced the renaming of the former Oldsmobile Park, located a half-mile away from the school, this week.

Under the agreement, the law school will pay $1.485 million over 11 years, the length of the team’s lease with the City of Lansing, Mich., the Associate Press reports. The team and city will split the revenues.

“We are thrilled to make this long-term investment that will benefit, not only our students and employees, but the entire community and region for years to come,” said Dean Don LeDuc said.

I understand that you are not the one who decided to piss away $1.485 million of tuition money – and federal taxpayer funds – on naming rights to a damn minor league baseball stadium. But your magazine did report on this story – and did so with its trademark uncritical eye. It couldn’t be that adverti$ing dollar$ got in the way of National Jurist’s hard-hitting investigative, reporting, right?!

You, Jack Crittenden, chide law students – many of whom are from humble backgrounds – for seeking to make a positive return on their investment. But yet, you and your publication turn a blind eye to the industry’s greed. Apparently, it is okay for “law professors” to work 6 hour weeks and make $180K per year. You have no problem with a fourth tier piece of excrement misallocating federal funds, so it can purchase naming rights to a baseball park. But, when it comes to law students, you want them to just sit back and relax, while they are being financially ruined. That is reprehensible!

Now, go off and sell some more advertising space to third and fourth tier – as well as various unaccredited - commodes, such as University of St. Thomas, Capital University, and Chapman University. I’ll be here to “highlight” these fine commodes of law.

24 comments:

  1. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1497044

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  2. ^Yes, good academic paper. I think Nando has referred to this before, on this blog.

    If you research Cirttenden, it appears that the man never practiced law. But yet he promotes the idea of law school as a wise investment to young people. He then reprimands us for seeking a good return on our investment. So, which is it, Mr. Editor? Should we go to LS because it is a good investment in our future? Or should we simply go to law school so we caan enjoy the academic experience?

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  3. Anyone notice the failure of logic?

    1. "many of these wealth-seekers were sorely disappointed when they failed to land the $160,000 job."

    Then:

    "some even failed to land the $40,000 job and now have $100,000 in debt breathing down their necks."

    So the problem isn't student "greed" (although I fail to understand what's so terrible about wanting to make a big salary -- who DOESN'T?) when many (not "some") can't find a $40,000 job.

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  4. How dare you demand honest employment stats from the law school? Fact is you should be honored to have some guy who's never practiced law teach you the difference between a fee simple absolute and a fee simple determinable. And what did that cost you? $100,000 in student loans? $150,000? If you ask me, that's a bargain!

    Don't be greedy! Paychecks are overrated anyways. What's important is that you use your legal degrees to help the impoverished. What's that? You're impoverished too? Well, then that's even better. At least you can relate to your clients.

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  5. Imagine if medicine was like law. We wouldn't need a national health care plan because doctors would cost $10/hr.

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  6. All I can say is wow, in their own twisted way they are saying 1) law school is not a good investment and 2) expect to be unemployed and/or not work in the legal field. Blatant.

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  7. lol at schools which push "public service" and charge over 40k annually for tuition! L4L really nailed it in his article where he profiled law administrators crowing this garbage, while raking in close to a million dollars (some make several million) per year. But hey, it's like the old saying goes: "Do as I say, not as I do."

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  8. In his own strange way, I guess good ol' Jack is telling students not to attend law school. You really need to make north of 100k to pay back student loans, save for retirement and your children's education and live a solid middle class lifestyle in the meantime. Perhaps we should thank him for finally telling the truth in an albeit condescending, perverted way.

    Long story short from Jack, if you want to live a middle class lifestyle, don't go to law school.

    Thanks, Jack. At least we can agree on that!

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  9. Nobody here took a vow of poverty, when they decided to go to law school and become lawyers. Likewise, no one goes to business, medical or dental school so that they can have a lower-class lifestyle. These are pricey "investments," after all.

    I find it disgraceful that a publication DESIGNED to lure more students to law school, turns around and bemoans the plethora of law students who look at law school as a means to a better life. This magazine serves the industry. Look at the advertising from TTTTs, BARBRI, and others looking to peddle their commercial outlines, flash cards, and hornbooks.

    Jack, your magazine has contributed to the glut of attorneys and law students, in this country. Then, you attempt to wash your hands of the situation - by lecturing “selfish” law students. Well, Jack, where is your contempt for TTTs and TTTTs who charge $40K per year in tuition?!?

    These schools are diploma mills; they know that most of their students will struggle to pay their student loans. They are also aware that many of their grads will NEVER practice law. Yet, they "educate" them and dump them out on an already over-saturated market. Again, they are only out to make a buck. They DO NOT give a damn what happens to their graduates. They simply want more victims/students. They get paid up front in full - YOU, the student, are stuck with the bill for the next 30 years! What a great system, huh? Thanks for showing where you $tand on the issue, Jack.

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  10. Jack's article is almost as industry self-serving as this one:

    http://www.usnews.com/articles/education/best-law-schools/2009/04/22/why-law-school-is-for-everyone.html

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  11. As of today, they garnish her wages and take all of her income taxes. Allied Collection is telling her that she now owes with penalties and interest approximately $28,000. This is sounds quite unrealistic to me. How is she ever going to pay this type of loan off when her income is only $10.00 for a 40 hour work week and much less have enough monies left to live and pay her bills.

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  12. In all fairness you can't expect this Crittenden guy to bite the hand that feeds him. The law schools and study aid vendors purchase ad space and stories. He has a good set-up. There just is no way he is going to change his tune. His publication is aimed at getting more people to apply to law school. I only agree with you about this man going off on greedy students. He sold many on the idea in the first place. So, that is shameful.

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  13. Nando you belong on 60 minutes. My God this country has become a shithole. I am still grateful to you, JD Underdog and Jobless Juris Doctor for showing me the light. I have decided against law school and as disappointed as I am (it was expensive to prepare for the LSAT and apply to many schools), I feel like I've found another path. It's not going to be easy, but it will be better than the delusional state of law school students.

    By the way, during one interview with a law school, they actually told me "your plans may change, and of course, it's good to be aware of your options." I didn't get why someone would say that after I said "I want to practice law! I want to advocate for changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act!" I found out the guy who was interviewing me was a grad of the school and was definitely NOT practicing law.

    What a joke. Best to you nando. You are doing public service. Thanks.

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  14. All of you internet whiners need to find something more productive to do with your time.

    Putting the word out to let prospective students know that it's not a good career path is one thing, but you've got to get over it dude.

    You made a mistake--now get up, dust yourself off, and try something else.

    You still have time to do something productive in your life, but this probably isn't it.

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  15. To the apologist above who posted at 7:48 pm:

    I will pay off my student loans - don't you worry about that. I own up to my mistake, even though the law school industry certainly played a part in that decision. If I can inform others, and prevent some from making the same poor decision, then I will do so.

    What's the matter with you, apologist? Why don't you don't like the free exchange of ideas? You get upset when someone dares to speak the truth about this corrupt, morally-bankrupt industry. But yet, when the industry blatantly lies about the state of the job market, you just turn the other cheek.

    YOU still have time to do something more useful than defending this gutter industry. It is not too late for you.

    To Hani, I am glad to be of assistance. I am glad that you are only out a few hundred dollars. You saved yourself three years of misery - and a lifetime of disappointment - and you avoided life-altering, crushing, non-dischargeable debt. Congratulations!

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  16. Read the quotes carefully from the article below:
    http://finance.yahoo.com/college-education/article/109081/in-hard-times-lured-into-trade-school-and-debt

    "They tell people, 'If you don't have a college degree, you won't be able to get a job,' " said Amanda Wallace, who worked in the financial aid and admissions offices at the Knoxville, Tenn., branch of ITT Technical Institute, a chain of schools that charge roughly $40,000 for two–year associate degrees in computers and electronics. "They tell them, 'You'll be making beaucoup dollars afterward, and you'll get all your financial aid covered.' "

    Ms. Wallace left her job at ITT in 2008 after five years because she was uncomfortable with what she considered deceptive recruiting, which she said masked the likelihood that graduates would earn too little to repay their loans.

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  17. I can tell you who some of these apologists are. They are freightened admission office pencil pushers. Guess what jerks. The writing is on the (bathroom) wall. You have cushy jobs making applicants feel like shit. The time might be up sooner or later, but you have to realize that this is the American way. Nando is doing damn good work exposing a scam.
    Taking thousands of dollars and deceiving applicants is wrong. Shame on the law school industry. Shame shame shame!

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  18. Wow. Nando, word is spreading like wildfire about this blog and others like it. Keep up the good work.
    - Victim #9275930

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  19. Nando,

    I assume you're an expert on the job "market" for people licensed to practice law in Iowa. I'm ashamed to say I'm a student at a questionable institution of legal learning in this cosmopolitan state, the UniversiTTTy of Iowa College of Law. I assume I'll be hopeless when I graduate, and probably homeless too if I don't move back in with my mother. (Note for those of you thinking your significant other will stick with you after they realize your legal career is a worthless sack of shit: fat chance.)

    Do you reccommend I stick it out so I can practice family law or some other such shit in this great state, or should I just drop out before my 3L year and try to make an honest living? I'm not sure what kind of footing I'm on vs. a Drake grad, but I'd imagine our predicaments are similar.

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  20. At 6:50, I am very glad that this movement is starting to pick up some steam. The corrupt business practices of the law school industry NEED to be exposed. And I will keep plugging away, regardless of the industry’s apologists and idiotic defenders.

    To 5:00, I don't know your particular circumstances. Are you an Iowa resident? How much debt do you have from law school, at this point? How much will you have in total student loans - if you continue and graduate?

    Here is what I do know about the Iowa market: the judiciary has suffered at lot of cutbacks in staff - at least three rounds in the last 2 years - and there are many furlough Fridays throughout the state. Obviously, many state agencies are not hiring - especially when it comes to recent JDs. It was already difficult for a recent JD to get into the local county attorneys’ offices or Public Defender posts, before the recession/economic depression.

    If you want to practice in Des Moines, you will probably be on equal ground with Drake grads who were in the top half of their class. Outside of the Des Moines area, you will be on (slightly) better footing than Drake students. I do not recommend family law/toiletlaw. It truly is an ugly aspect of this sick industry. The pay is not great. The stress can be overwhelming, as you generally see people at their worst. This is also the same, if you are thinking about defending juvenile offenders. The lawyers don’t get much respect, either. (You can count on assistant county attorneys (ACAs) and family court judges treating you – as a new lawyer – like a fool.)

    If your expenses/debt will be much greater, I would suggest dropping out, cutting your losses, and going into something else. Maybe you have family or business connections that will allow you to return to your prior job/industry. Simply put, it is not too late to walk away. If your heart is not in this – and you will be acquiring more non-dischargeable debt - then the smart choice is to walk away.

    You are correct in your assessment about significant others leaving when the law thing doesn’t pan out. After law school, I lived in my sister-in-law’s basement for 7 months. And I had a job within 2 weeks of moving into her basement! (Had we not been married for four years, my wife probably would have left me – especially since she worked while I went to law school.)

    Good luck to you, and I hope you keep commenting on this blog and other forums. You will make the best choice for yourself, with the best information available. This is your future, your life, we are talking about! There is no sense in committing yourself to financial ruin. Remember, this is a mortgage – at a higher interest rate – that you and I and the legions of others CANNOT walk away from!

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  21. Thanks for the input and good luck to you, as you are clearly doing something useful with this blog. I only pray that someday fate will get even with the sick freaks who run the law school racket.

    Unfortunately, due to my complete lack of any other credentials and my inability to otherwise explain what I've been doing for the past two years, I'm leaning toward returning to finish law school. All my loans are federal and I pay in-state tuition. I actually want to be a lawyer. Because of my anger toward society (probably caused by my poor decision to attend law school), I have no qualms about "family" law. My grades are decent (but not top 5% so who cares). There is a small chance that I could find some marginal legal job in rural Iowa. If not, I'll find a job stocking shelves at Wal-Mart and make more than most of my fellow law grads.

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  22. For posterity I should add: I have nothing against my particular law school. They, by themselves, are not evil. It's the entire system. From Yale all the way down to Cooley, they're all perpetuating a system that feeds the rich few on the top and enslaves the rest of us. The more successful they are, the more numerous "the rest of us" become: there definitely are soon-to-be grads of T14 schools in the same kind of peril I find myself in. It could be worse. I could be in twice as much debt for an even more worthless UNDERGRAD degree.

    Economic distribution throughout the world tends to be like this. Shouldn't come as a surprise to me, but I guess I learned my lesson the hard way. If I ever have kids (of course I won't, I can't afford them and women know that) I won't let them go to college without an exact plan for making money.

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  23. Yes, that is CORRECT about your significant other, kids. He or she may not stick with you once they realize your "career" is crap. My husband and I are on the verge of divorce and have been so for a number of years now due to the fact the pipe dream didn't pay off for me. Think not twice but MANY TIMES before ruining your life in law school.

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  24. Law school is a bad investment, according to the law school industry. Look at the economic analysis put out by Professor Herwig Schlunk of Vanderbilt University Law School:

    http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/SSRN-id1497044.pdf

    Take a look at ABA “Ethics” Opinion 08-451. While you’re at it, take a look at the legal forms available to the general public.

    Check out this recent admission from the ABA:

    http://www.abanet.org/lsd/legaled/value.pdf

    Read this article from industry puppet National Jurist:

    http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/cypress/nationaljurist0210/#/6

    I honestly hope – for your sake – that this is a flame. If not, then you have several problems with your logic. For instance: (a) where did I say that EVERYONE who attends law school will end up in worse shape; (b) law is a very prestige-obsessed industry, i.e. where you go to school matters VERY much to potential employers; (c) most second and third-tier schools are over-priced diploma mills; (d) the legal market is shrinking – this is NOT due solely (or primarily) to the current state of the economy; (e) Lawyer salaries do not magically “double” after 10-20 years – you are aware that inflation will eat away at much of this “doubling,” are you not?; and (f) I do not live in NYC.

    If you honestly believe the crap you just spewed forth on this blog, you are a lost cause. I cannot talk you out of jumping off a cliff. Good luck in law school, lemming. Maybe law school will be able to at least help you develop some logic and reasoning. Right now, you have none. (Ask yourself if that is worth the $120K “investment.”)

    It is better that your dream/delusion is shattered now – rather than being stuck with a ton of non-dischargeable student debt and little to no chance of paying it off.

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