Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Spineless, Gutless ABA


This organization is the epitome of spinelessness. According to its website, the ABA has 400,000 members, a large annual budget and about 1,000 employees. Yes, it is comprised of four hundred thousand lawyers. Yet, this “professional organization” is afraid to go to court!

http://www.abanet.org/abanet/media/release/news_release.cfm?releaseid=739

We see the ABA blame US News & World Report and its grad school rankings for the high rate of law school tuition. That's right, debt-soaked law grads. According to the ABA, your large debt load is due to the actions of USN&WR!! How convenient – blame this mess on a magazine. The 400,000 member strong association that is charged with accrediting law schools is – by its own unsupported assertion - not to blame. A magazine has caused the high rate of tuition. (Apparently, the GAO agrees with the ABA’s version of events/fairy tale.)


Now, we see that the current president of this association is on the attack:


According to Lamm, there are not too many law schools in the United States. (Will she also inform us that obesity is not a problem in this country?) She jumps on Mark Greenbaum for his piece in the Los Angeles Times, entitled “No More Room at the Bench,” but she then acknowledges that there are 200 ABA-accredited law schools, in her letter. Good thing she at least did that – since the ABA’s website confirms this reality.

Lamm then goes on to state that the ABA cannot stop accrediting more law schools, because of the consent decree between the ABA and the DOJ. The ABA is concerned with a potential antitrust suit. Evidently, the ADA and the AMA have figured out something that the ABA has not – these organizations have been able to "get away with" keeping the number of schools low and the number of seats down for decades.

But the ABA – with an immense annual budget and an army of lawyers at its disposal – DOES NOT have the balls to go to court and make the case that, as a professional association, it has a duty to its members (and to the public) to protect their interests and investment! That it has a duty and obligation to make sure that its practitioners are skilled and competent, upon graduation. That it has the moral and professional responsibility to ensure that its students will be practitioners – if they so desire. That it is charged with ensuring that its members will be able to practice their trade. As such, the ABA has the duty and right to reasonably limit the number of schools, so that there is not a plethora of unemployed lawyers and JDs working as taxi drivers.

Also, relying on the consent decree is a specious argument. You see, this agreement expired – by its own terms – on June 25, 2006. The two parties have voluntarily agreed to abide by the terms, even after the agreement expired. Plus, the reason the DOJ even filed suit against the ABA, is because the ABA was requiring schools to pay their law professors a certain salary. Maybe you should research this info, Carolyn.


As you can see, the ABA is a paper tiger. It can talk about “Defending Liberty, Pursuing Justice” all it wants. It can require that its member schools teach courses on Professional Responsibility and Ethics. It can hold forums and panel discussions on “innovations in the law.” It can even tout its large membership to the outside world. But when push comes to shove, this industry association WILL fold.

It seeks to cast blame, for its problems, on others weaker than itself, i.e. magazine features. (As an aside, if the ABA is so concerned with the omnipotent USN&WR, couldn’t the ABA simply refuse to participate in the annual law school rankings, put out by the magazine? The ADA refuses to allow this magazine to rate/rank its 58 member schools. Let me guess, Carolyn: the magazine is forcing you to allow them to rank law schools. Is that it?)

The legal industry could not possibly be in shambles due to anything the ABA has done – or failed to do. The over-saturation of the U.S. legal market couldn’t have anything to with ABA “Ethics” Opinion 08-451, could it? Or by the fact that the ABA had approved too many law schools. Or that ABA-accredited law schools continue to pump out around 45K JDs every year, when there are, in fact, nowhere near this amount of available openings for attorney positions.

In the last analysis, the ABA is pathetic. These physiological marvels are somehow able to move around and “Defend Liberty” without a backbone!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

On the Bowl: Toledo College of Law



Tuition and Fees: for in-state students, the cost for the 2009-2010 academic year, is $19,137.40. For non-residents, these figures amount to $29,553.40.

http://law.utoledo.edu/admissions/tuition.htm

Placement Statistics:

http://law.utoledo.edu/students/career/stats.htm

See the pretty pie chart and colorful map of the United States? Good, then you are on the right page. Look at the links on the bottom of the page. The first and third links listed under Salary Information are useless. The first link shows you firms, businesses and government agencies that have hired Toledo JDs. The third link just takes you to info provided by NALP – which relies on schools’ self-reported information. (Kind of like taking a criminal’s word that his dealer buddy is a great guy, and using that as a solid character reference.)

This link purports to show that Class of 2009 Toledo JDs, on average, who were hired as entry-level associates in Columbus firms, were making $81,250. Sure they did. And in the last 30 minutes, Christina Aguilera, Al Pacino, and Jennifer Lopez each called me and invited me to dinner and a Knicks game afterward.

This is simply one more example of a law school shading the facts to prospective students. The school lists the low, average, and high figures for those fortunate few of its last graduating class to land associate jobs - to give the impression to pre-law students that they have a good chance of making this type of money, upon graduation.

I would venture to say that those figures listed under Law Clerk Salary Figures: Northwest Ohio/Southeast Michigan are more reflective of the typical outcome for Toledo JDs. You can clearly see that the low for private sector clerks was a rate of $11 an hour. For public sector, the low was $10 an hour. So, how many of YOU went to law school so that you could make $10-$11 an hour, and take on massive student loan debt?!?! You can make more than that as an entry-level customer service representative working the phones!! And you don’t need to go $50K-$100K in the hole to do it.

Since we cannot get access to the employment rate - on the school’s website - we must go to another source:

http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/items/03130

We see that 83.0% of Toledo law grads were employed within nine months of graduation, in 2007!! We also see that as of 2008, the school reportedly has full-time enrollment of 342 students. It also had a healthy dose of part-time students, i.e. 152 students. That would mean that roughly 30.8 percent of students at Toledo’s were attending part-time, i.e. 152/494.

Well, at least this fine, upstanding, outstanding school's law library has its own blog:

What more do you need to confirm that this is a great school? Oh yeah, I almost forgot. This school is in the phenomenal third tier.

http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/rankings/page+6

Boo-yah!! How’s that for reality?!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

ABA Accreditation Fee List


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_law_schools_in_the_United_States#Proposed_Laws_Schools_In_The_United_States

This list shows the names and locations of eleven proposed law schools, in the United States. Because we need MORE law schools so badly, right?!?!

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/up_to_10_new_law_schools_planned_how_many_are_too_many/

This ABA Journal article, from 2008, notes that there were plans for up to ten new law schools to be built or opened. So, naturally, I wanted to see what the American Biglaw Association charges each potential, new law school. For that, we go to the ABA’s website (thanks to a reader for this link):

http://www.abanet.org/legaled/accreditation/sitevisit/fees.html

Look at the fee for an Application for Provisional Approval (each application): $26,000. If you are planning on opening a law school and seek a full-site evaluation, the ABA will be happy to relieve you of $12,000. Limited site evaluation? No problem! Just write out a check to the ABA in the amount of $6000.

What about schools that buy up existing, non-accredited law schools? Do they get a discount on full-site evaluation? I wouldn’t count on it.

Look at the amounts charged annually for fully-approved law schools. “Does your school have a full-time enrollment of less than 500 students? Give us $4,810.” “Is the diploma factory’s FTE more than 500 but less than 800 students? Write us a check for $6,190.” “Is the diploma mill’s FTE more than 800 students? That’ll be $8,110. Hand it over!”

If the average school’s full-time enrollment is in the middle range, the ABA would be raking in about $1,238,000 annually – just from those schools that are already fully-accredited.

Remember, the NALP noted that there were 43,587 JDs pumped out in 2008. For the same year, the ABA lists 43,588 new law graduates. Do we really need ten or eleven more law schools? Do the math.

The ABA continues to accredit or provisionally approve more law schools, because it can make some money off this scheme. And new law schools figure that they will break even by their third year of operation.

http://nashville.bizjournals.com/nashville/stories/2009/11/30/story2.html

Plus, this is a drop in the bucket for many law schools. Just look at the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in Memphis, TN. It exceeded its $12 million fundraising goal by $547,000 (thank you Angel, for your entry on this).


The schools also don’t care that many of their graduates will never practice law, or be able to repay their student loans. Remember, the schools charge for their services up front. Just like hookers do. But, the schools won’t leave their customers quite as satisfied.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Reality of Student Debt


So you went to law school to “make something of yourself,” right? You wanted to make yourself more marketable and provide your family with some financial security. You bought into the national mantra that was beaten into your brain since you were a toddler, i.e. “Education is the key to your future.” Naturally, you worked hard and advanced in your studies.

Well, now that reality has set in, you can see that you have indeed made something of yourself; you have become a debt slave. Not by being irresponsible by racking up huge shopping bills and buying expensive cars, mind you. But by being na├»ve enough to believe the lies. According to the apologists, it is entirely your fault that you did everything you were asked to do, and now find yourself in the situation you are in. And now YOU are the one stuck with the bill. Not quite the rosy picture painted by our policymakers, “educators,” parents, friends, and grade school teachers, is it?

http://www.finaid.org/calculators/scripts/loanpayments.cgi

I went to this online Financial Aid loan repayment calculator. My total student loan debt is $73K and my income is about $38,000. As far as I can tell, I am doing better financially than many law graduates from “lower first tier” and second tier schools, many of whom took out massive amounts of student loans for the "privilege" of attending law school. And a lot of those JDs cannot even find work.

Here is what came up when I entered my figures:

Wow! You're borrowing a lot of money to pay for your college education. Maybe you should think about attending a less expensive college? A good rule of thumb is that your total education debt should be less than your expected starting salary. If you borrow more than twice your expected starting salary you will find it extremely difficult to repay the debt. Live like a student while you are in school so you don't have to live like a student after you graduate. [Emphasis mine]

When did the financial aid office at your college, or your law school, EVER tell you that your total education debt SHOULD BE LESS THAN your expected annual starting salary?! In fact, most law schools provide their students with information from private lenders.

These results assume that the student is paying the interest charges on any unsubsidized loans and is not capitalizing the interest while in school. If the student is capitalizing the interest, the cumulative payments and total interest charges will be higher than shown here.

And how many students are paying the interest on their unsubsidized loans, while they are in school?

Note: I received a full-tuition scholarship to attend law school. I know people who borrowed the entire amount, i.e. for living expenses and tuition. I personally know people who borrowed in excess of $120,000 just to get a law degree from Third Tier Drake. And many are unemployed, working part-time, taking court-appointed work, or looking solely at non-legal positions.

If I were to pay off my student loans over a thirty-year period, I will have ended up paying $149,212.72. This means, I would end up paying $76,212.72 in interest – an amount greater than the entire principle!! If I pay them off in 20 years, I will have paid $120,517.41. Which means interest payments will have totaled $47,517.41.

Also, in order to pay this off in 20 years, it is estimated that my yearly salary will need to be $60,259.20. If I want to pay them off AND experience “some financial difficulty”, I will need an annual salary of $40,172.80. Who needs to buy a house or get married, when you already have a small mortgage, right?

It is estimated that you will need an annual salary of at least $60,259.20 to be able to afford to repay this loan. This estimate assumes that 10% of your gross monthly income will be devoted to repaying your student loans. This corresponds to a debt-to-income ratio of 1.2. If you use 15% of your gross monthly income to repay the loan, you will need an annual salary of only $40,172.80, but you may experience some financial difficulty. This corresponds to a debt-to-income ratio of 1.8.

My situation is not terrible or beyond repair. I post my story so others can see that going to law school is a poor decision for the vast majority of students. Remember, I only took out $37K to attend law school. What about those poor souls who take out $100K or $140K to go to law school? Sweet dreams, lemmings. When you wake up from your "American Dream," reality will be staring you squarely in the face.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The National Jurist's Four Articles of Faith



http://www.nationaljurist.com/content/anyone-currently-looking-post-graduate-job

Here is something to look at from our friends at National Jurist. This is from the November 2009 edition. I simply MUST include the entire “article” here – I couldn’t make this stuff up. (My comments appear in non-italic font.)

To anyone currently looking for a post-graduate job:

Submitted by Editors on Mon, 11/30/2009 - 8:39am

I don’t need to tell you that the economy stinks right now. In fact, if you’re anything like me, you’ve already shot out of bed a few nights from a, “I live at home with my parents again because I’m unemployable,” dream. Fret not, fellow 3L. Below are my four tips for coping with the stress of being not-yet-employed.

First of all, there are many recent graduates who are still unemployed. It is not a dream, or a nightmare. It is reality for legions of JDs.

1. Relax.

I know it’s easier said than done, but you need to just chill out. Worrying will not get you a job. I have a feeling that when most of us are in our mid-forties, we’re all going to be wondering what our big rush to work was. Try to enjoy whatever time you have left as an adult who doesn’t have a full-time job.

Chill out and forget about your worries and impending student loan repayments, because three years of unemployment - or underemployment - wasn’t enough of a sacrifice. Should these people also travel to exotic locations (on credit, of course)? Also, when we are our in mid-40s, many of us will actually wonder, “What the hell was I thinking? I still have to pay another ten years before I pay off my student loans.”

2. Think of the alternatives.

Even if you are without job, have been deferred or have had an offer rescinded, at least you didn’t actually get fired. I’d rather know earlier than later that a company can’t afford to have me around. In my opinion, there’s no better place than school to be hiding out in during the recession. [Emphasis mine]

Great consolation! At least you can defer your student loan repayments, and watch helplessly as interest accrues and your loan amounts continue to grow. As far as “hiding out” goes, this comes across as something a 0L would say. Was this idea reinforced by your law school?! Also, wouldn't you rather know earlier than later that the U.S. lawyer market is over-saturated?

3. Work hard

Don’t let your job search get in the way of school. You’ve got one more semester to really make your grades shine or to enter that writing competition. Work your hardest, get great results and give employers another reason to hire you.

Yes, because legal employers really give a wet fart about writing competitions or whether a student gets a note published in the Albany Law Journal of Science and Technology, or in the renowned Loyola of Los Angeles Entertainment Law Review. Also, regarding your tips: relax or work hard – which is it, Jennifer? Plus, students' future in the law is mostly determined after first semester or first year grades.

http://www.albanylawjournal.org/

http://elr.lls.edu/

4. Have some faith.

Whenever I start flipping out about my future (which is often these days), my parents always remind me of the wonderful Max Ehrmann quote: “The universe is unfolding as it should.” If you are networking your tail off, applying for jobs, sending out resumes and interviewing to the best of your ability, but to no avail, then you have to believe that a better opportunity is around the corner. Accept this difficulty as an experience in itself, and be open to life’s surprises.

Please save this “advice” for the hopelessly lost. We are not talking about gospel – we are talking about people’s investments going down the toilet. Have some faith?! Yes, because having faith and sticking your head in the sand pays the bills!! Can I also eat three cheeseburgers a day - while not working out - and get six pack abs?!

By Jennifer Pohlman, third year student at the University of Nebraska College of Law and student editor for The National Jurist

Essentially, this article comes down to this - “If you are unemployed and looking for a legal job, follow the above-listed, four easy, do-it-yourself steps, and things WILL work out for you." Are you kidding me?!?! Are you trying to induce a stroke, heartburn, high blood pressure, or a brain aneurism among your readers?

In the final, brutal analysis, this article has proved what I have said before about National Jurist, i.e. it is faith-promoting material. Furthermore, this article looks like a cheery, optimistic address given by a high school valedictorian, NOT an article by an editor of a national publication that purports to cover the legal industry. This piece is also harmful, in that it seeks to instill false hope in many. Pre-law students may see the editorial, and think that law school is a great place to ride out a recession. The reality is that the legal market will be further over-saturated in 3-4 years than it is now. Plus, more legal jobs will be outsourced to foreign attorneys and non-attorneys. See ABA "Ethics" Opinion 08-451.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

University of Michigan Tuition History v. Median Household Income Tables



The issue before this Court is whether the increase in the University of Michigan’s law school tuition accurately reflects changes in the median household income.

Here is the link to Historical Household Income Tables, as provided by the Census Bureau. This has been labeled Exhibit “A”:

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/h05.html

Here is a document showing law school tuition history at the University of Michigan. A PDF file is attached hereto as Exhibit “B”, and is incorporated herein by reference:

http://www.law.umich.edu/historyandtraditions/students/Documents/Law_School_Tuition_History.pdf

In 1980, the median household income was $17,170. In-state tuition at the University of Michigan was $2008. This amount would have represented about 11.7% of the median family's income.

By 1993-94, in-state tuition at said school was $12,476; the median household income in the U.S. for 1993 was listed as $31,241. Tuition at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor represented 39.9 percent of a median household income in 1993.

For the 2007-08 school year, in-state tuition at the same school was $38,069; the median household income, for the year 2007, was listed at $50,233. In-state tuition at this school would have devoured 75.8% of the median household's income in 2007.

As you can see from these documents, tuition at Michigan’s law school has spiraled out of control. The school is currently ranked 9th by the magnanimous US News & World Report.

http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/rankings

It is true that this is one of the most prestigious law schools in the United States. It is consistently ranked in the top 10 law schools by USN&WR. The school can afford to be very selective in its admissions process. However, it is an undeniable fact that in the span of roughly 27 years, law school tuition at this public university went from representing 11.7 percent of the median household income to consuming more than 75% of the median household income.

Thus, in-state tuition at the University of Michigan’s law school has increased nearly 6.5 times faster than the median U.S. household income. How in the hell can anyone support such a system?!? How can anyone argue that this is the “free market at work”? Especially, when the demand has been brought about largely by public financing, i.e. federally-backed student loans?!

Remember, we are talking about a public university. According to the ABA, the rate of tuition has gone up faster at private ABA-accredited law schools than it has at the public law schools.

For those of you who want to see a comparison using the rate of inflation, $2008 in 1980 would have equaled $4991.56 in 2007. This means that in-state tuition at Michigan Law is currently 7.62 times higher than it would be, had it grown at the rate of inflation, i.e. $38,069/$4991.56.

http://www.westegg.com/inflation/

Taking all of the above-listed factors into account, the Court of Common Sense finds the following: (1) a top-flight public law school has increased its tuition at a much higher rate than the increase in the median household income, in this country; (2) in-state tuition at this school has grown at a MUCH higher clip than the rate of inflation; (3) as a result, many of its students will graduate with more than $120,000 from three years at this public “institution of higher learning”; and (4) so long as the Department of Education continues to federally back loans from the student lending cartel, tuition will continue to increase at a wild rate.*

*This is not endemic to elite law schools. However, this is the only tuition history chart I could find from an ABA-accredited law school.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Western State Finally Gets Accredited – Yay!



preLaw magazine is proud to report, in its Winter 2010 edition, that Western State finally got accredited. We can all sleep sound at night, knowing that this TTTTTremendous institution has gained full ABA accreditation.

http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/cypress/prelaw_2010winter/index.php?startid=Cover1#/12

When the announcement finally came this past August that Western State University had received full ABA accreditation, it was cause for celebration and joy at the 43-year-old school in Fullerton, Calif.

And it ONLY took 43 years! What a miracle!

“Not only have we demonstrated our compliance with the high academic standards that have been set before us, but we also feel more confident than ever that our graduates will be well-prepared to serve the legal community with excellence and a deserving sense of pride,” [Dean William] Adams said.

Yes, people will now fall over themselves to hire Western State grads!

The school’s 6 top reasons to attend their toilet:

http://www.wsulaw.edu/about-us/6-top-reasons.aspx

Job “Resources”:

http://www.wsulaw.edu/career-development/job-resources.aspx

They list Simplicity, PsLawNet, and Equal Justice Works as resources. You are better off shelling out $0.75 to buy a local newspaper as a means of finding legal employment, than you are by relying on these “resources.” Look at the long list of links at the bottom of the page. It’s the old “fling enough feces against the wall, and something will stick” strategy.

I also do not see where Employment figures or Salary statistics are listed, on the school’s site. Maybe Western State JDs make so much money, that the school is embarrassed to list those amounts on their web page. (Yeah, and maybe Salma Hayek is waiting to seduce me in the back seat of my car, too.)

Tuition:

http://www.wsulaw.edu/admissions/tuition-and-financial-aid.aspx

$32,600 for the 2009-10 academic year! For the mathematically-impaired admissions committee members, $16,300 per academic semester * two semesters = $32,600. Not listed is the cost of living. For that useful information, we access another resource:

http://realestate.yahoo.com/California/Fullerton/neighborhoods

The area scores a 128 on the Cost of Living Index. That means that the area is roughly 28 percent more expensive than the national average. (Not all of us law grads are math deficient.)

The median household income is also listed at $58,769, which is about 16 percent higher than the U.S. median household income listed for 2007. To be fair, I do not know how often the Yahoo Real Estate page is updated. But this at least gives us a rough idea of the cost of living in Fullerton, or the surrounding area.

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/h05.html

It seems plausible that a student at the Western State College of Law could easily end up $150K in debt – just from law school. And for what?!? For weak-ass job prospects in the legendary, over-saturated California legal market? You might as well set fire to that $150,000. Congratulations on attaining full accreditation, WesTTTTTern STTTTTaTTTTTe!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Down the Drain: Drexel Law School


Costs:

Tuition for the 2009-2010 school year: $32,200 + $721 in fees – yeah, sign me up!


Ranking: Outside the “Top Four Tiers” of American Law School; a great investment, nonetheless, right?!?

Law schools in Pennsylvania with their respective USN&WR ranking in parentheses:

Penn State (65)
Pitt (71)
Duqesne (TTTT)
Penn (8)
Temple (65)
Villanova (61)
Drexel (TTTTT)
Widener (TTTT with campuses in Harrisburg, PA and Wilmington, DE)

http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/rankings/

With four schools already in the Philadelphia area, I guess the ABA had $olid rea$on$ for accrediting one more law school in that locale. After all, Philadelphia so badly needs another 150 or so JDs every year. And, of course, Drexel grads will have a shot at Biglaw – and other decent legal employment. The University of Pennsylvania has nothing on Drexel! Just ask the admissions officers/salesmen – they’ll confirm what I just said.

Don’t forget the plethora of law schools in surrounding states. Oh, the industry shills think that JDs from schools in Ohio, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut, West Virginia, New York, and New Jersey will be content to stay in their respective states, you say?

Here are the Admissions Criteria for entry into the Prestigious Earle Mack School of Law:

Candidates for admission are required to demonstrate excellence and leadership in their careers. They must have earned a baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited by one of the regional accrediting associations of the United States or, if foreign educated, a degree equivalent to a four year baccalaureate degree, have registered for Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS) and take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). The candidate’s undergraduate grade point average and LSAT scores will be strong factors in determining admission to the Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law. In addition, the Admissions Committee will consider a student’s extracurricular activities, work experience, and volunteer service. The Earle Mack School of Law seeks a diverse class of students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, from different parts of the country and world, and from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

Read: Candidates must have earned a Bachelor’s degree from an institution accredited – AT A MINIMUM - by the Cracker Jack Company; have undergone the rigorous process of registering with LSDAS; and received a score of 145 or higher on the LSAT. If said candidate’s UGPA is below a 3.0, other considerations will be taken into account, such as volunteer service to refugees in Africa, serving soup to homeless people, or prior work experience waiting tables or slinging lattes. We also love “diversity,” even at the expense of quality of legal education. We also instill the value of public service and pro bono work into our students’ heads, so that they will be content to earn $32K upon graduation.

The school’s motto seems to be “My Choice.” Well, if YOU have the choice between waiting tables with your undergraduate degree in Communication from Kaplan University, or “furthering your education” and attaining a law degree at Drexel, I hope you have the common sense to choose the former. You will probably end up waiting tables after graduating from Drexel, anyway. You may as well avoid an extra $130K in debt.

Don’t flush your future away on this “investment.” Wash your hands of this decision. Remember, the banks will still be profitable without you going six-figures in the hole.
 
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