Friday, January 14, 2011

The Law School Game: Repeat Players v. One Time Consumers

This article is entitled, Options for Student Borrowers: A Derivatives-Based Proposal to Protect Students and Control Debt-Fueled Inflation in the Higher Education Market.

The basic gist of this 72-page article is that the burden should be placed on those who benefit from the system. After all, student loan companies and law schools are in the position of the well-informed, repeat player. They make serious cash, in the current scheme. Therefore, the student should not bear the brunt of the risk – which is currently the case. Students simply do not understand the job market, whereas the schools know how to play the game. These “institutions of higher learning” can also fudge the numbers, thereby providing an overly-optimistic picture of the industry.

On page 49 of the PDF, i.e. page 115 of the journal, the authors write the following:

“Just as businesses can reap profits from useful yet abnormally dangerous activities, the higher education enterprise of law schools and student loan lenders invariably profit from successive batches of virgin law students. Law schools and lenders are the sophisticated, well-informed, repeat players in this market.” [Emphasis mine]

What’s that you say, lemming? How can I say that the law schools lie? Take a look at the following sources:

“Morse acknowledged that some law schools game the rankings, which take into account the percentage of graduates with jobs at graduation and those with jobs nine months after graduation.”

We can also look at 11th-ranked Duke Law’s “Bridge to Practice” program for unemployed JDs. Perhaps, we can look at the 48th-greatest American law school, SMU Dedman’s “Test Drive” program, whereby the school pays employers to place unemployed law grads in internships. If you prefer, we can look at 60th-most phenomenal law school in the land, Univer$iTTy of Miami Sewer of Law – and the fact that the commode will pay public interest employers to hire its students.

On page 3 of the electronic version of David Segal’s NYT piece, you can see that fourth tier trash can Thomas Jefferson School of Law admits that it includes those JDs who could not be contacted in its supposed 92% placement rate.

By the way, NALP lists an overall employment rate of 88.3% for the JD Class of 2009. In total, 44,000 graduates competed for a paltry 28,901 jobs requiring a law degree. Look at the numbers of JDs who went in solo practice, those who returned to their prior job, lawyers working as short-term research assistants, etc.

If you are a licensed attorney or JD working at Radio Shack, you are “employed” for the purposes of NALP, ABA, and US News. Because you went to law school so that you could make $7.65 an hour, right?!?!

But why would the law schools lie, you ask?! From Page 1 of Segal’s piece:

“If you’re a law school and you add 25 kids to your class, that’s a million dollars, and you don’t even have to hire another teacher,” says Allen Tanenbaum, a lawyer in Atlanta who led the American Bar Association’s commission on the impact of the economic crisis on the profession and legal needs. “That additional income goes straight to the bottom line.”

Are you still wondering why law schools would fudge the numbers?!

Furthermore, here is a listing of average student indebtedness for each law school’s graduating 2009 class, provided by US News & World Report. See where your school is listed. Also, make sure that prospective law students see this chart. This is, by far, the best ranking provided by US News, with regards to “legal education” in this country.

“The University of San Diego School of Law has continued its rise in the latest version of the US News Law School Rankings. In the 2011 version, USD Law has jumped from #61 to #56, and is now on the cusp of Tier 1 status.”

Who gives a damn, kid? If you want to stay in San Diego – and you don’t mind taking out more than $109,657 in additional, non-dischargeable student loans – then go ahead and sign on the dotted line. And make sure to refrain from wetting your pants, in case this toilet seeps into the “first tier.”

In the final analysis, it simply does not matter if your school is ranked 48th, 67th, 83rd or 112th. Schools play the ranking game, and then make a big deal when they from the third tier to being ranked 86th. The brutal reality of the situation is this: legal employers are not impressed with such a jump. And they sure as hell are not fooled by such “improvements.” Your law degree still says $yracu$e Univer$ity on it.

Remember, the administrators and “law professors” at these diploma mills get paid up front, in full. You, the student, are the one left with mountains of NON-DISCHARGEABLE debt to re-pay.

Schools lie, when it will benefit them. Keep that in mind when you are being bored to death in your Professional Responsibility course. Then again, the law school industry is run by hypocrites.


  1. The notion that Thomas Jefferson includes people who can't be found as employed is untrue. They count them neither as employed nor unemployed.

    It's like only counting 3 out of 4 exams in computing your final grade in a class. That fourth exam isn't counted as an A. Rather, it simply isn't counted at all.

  2. 'Beth Kransberger, associate dean of student affairs at Thomas Jefferson, stands by that figure, noting that it includes 25 percent of those graduates who could not be located, as well as anyone who went on to other graduate studies — all perfectly kosher under the guidelines.'

    Does this shithole include a disclaimer like this on its website?

  3. Dude, you shouldn't have gone to law school. You clearly lack the social skills for it.

    Move on with your life, or killself.

  4. ^He's getting the word out, child. You got something against that or something? Gawd, you're defending these practices? Get some integrity.

  5. Did you notice they cited TTR in footnote 260?

  6. "Dude, you shouldn't have gone to law school. You clearly lack the social skills for it.
    Move on with your life, or killself. "

    January 14, 2011 3:01 PM :

    Dude, what social skills, exactly, are prerequisite to attending law school?


  7. Why does this site attract shills? Makes you wonder how many of these shit stains are on some law school's payroll.

  8. I was the one who posted the first comment. The about Thomas Jefferson not averaging in the people they couldn't find.

    I am not a shill and I am not a law student. I was a law student at a top 20 school and I dropped out after the first year.

    I just think it's up to us to try to report the facts as accurately as possible. Otherwise we're just as bad (and untrustworthy) as the law schools.

  9. January 14, 2011 5:38 PM

    5:38, I am not sure anyone thinks you are a shill. Rather, I, at least, find your point in the first post above a very valid one.

    The "shill" comment was I think directed elsewhere.

  10. Drake is a good school. In the 1950s, a student at Drake went on to win the Miss Universe pageant.


  11. I posted a few months ago about meeting a young enterprising man who passed on college and now runs a bed bug detection and treatment company. Yesterday, I ran into this young man again at the car wash and we talked. He told me that his parents had emailed him the NY Times article about law school being a losing game. He commented about how his parents wanted him to be an accountant or lawyer. Now his parents realize this kid did the right thing by not going into debt and making paltry wages as a lawyer. The kid told me he now has 2 fulltime employees working for him. He was sporting a tan as he had just come back from vacation in Hawaii. At the rate this kids is going, he will be a millionaire very soon. Compare that to a kid coming out of law school with $200K debt and no legal job. Law school a losing game? Absolutely! I suspect many kids will continue to enroll thinking they will be the exception to the rule. I suspect 95% of 1Ls are starting to realize that they were not exceptional. Yet instead of minimizing their losses, they will continue with Spring semester hoping to turn things around. Memo to 1Ls, a stellar 2nd semester is only impressive if it followed a fantastic 1st semester. The best advice is to drop out if you are not at least in the top 10% after your 1L first semester grades. Remember, the student loans are non-dischargeable. Somehow I suspect kids don't know the meaning of the word non-dischargeable. Student loans, like trust fund taxes, are non-dischargeable, meaning you will never get rid of them until you pay them. Only repayment and death excuses these loans.

  12. @ 1/14/2011 11:31PM,

    "I suspect 95% of 1Ls are starting to realize that they were not exceptional. Yet instead of minimizing their losses, they will continue with Spring semester hoping to turn things around."

    Most grades come out after second semester 1L begins, which means students have already paid and possibly missed the deadline for a full or partial tuition refund....or so I've heard. I'm not a law student (In 2005, I read somewhere attorneys have the highest average IQ and I did not let my ego tell me that I was special or smart enough to compete. I didn't even know about the exorbitant tuition, gamed statistics, etc...)

  13. To the first commenter,

    “Our annual employment statistics are compiled in accordance with the National Association for Law Placement's Employment Report and Salary Survey. Salary information is only provided below where at least five salaries were reported.

    Class of 2009

    The Class of 2009 statistics are based on information obtained on 86% of all TJSL graduates from December 2008, May 2009 and August 2009.”

    The commode then lists an employment rate of 84.7%, for this graduating class. This is significantly less than the figure reported to David Segal. For $ome rea$on, the school told the NYT that the employment rate was 92 percent. Perhaps, the school was talking about the Class of 2010 - although nine months have not passed since graduation. Furthermore, Beth Kransberger, associate dean at TJSL, noted that the figure “includes 25 percent of those graduates who could not be located.” But on the school’s online chart of employment stats, the sewage pit claims info was obtained on 86% of recent grads. Could this be more creative accounting?!

    The school then lists that 58.1% of its grads were in law firm practice - with an unimpressive starting Average Salary of $62,443. This is especially the case, when you consider that the average student indebtedness - for TJSL Class of 2009 grads who incurred law school debt - was $131,800. Then again, “only” 95% of the class took on such non-dischargeable debt for law school, right?!

    Here is what came up when I entered my figures, which are nowhere near as bad as those listed above for TTTThoma$ Jeffer$on:

    "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."

    Does anyone still think attending this fourth tier pile of excrement is worth the “investment”? In fact, I would not attend this dung heap if I received a full scholarship and a weekly rendezvous with Salma Hayek.

    @ 3:01 pm,

    You exhibit great people skills yourself, right?!?! At least, I can back up my argument with the facts - and cold, hard analysis. Perhaps, the next time your law school spoon feeds you “info,” you should ask them for some actual, solid facts.

  14. You complain day after day about the law school scam. Surely it's at least partially your fault for not researching the truth properly. I don't care how they fudge their statistics, surely with the legions of unemployed lawyers out there you should have known what should happen.

    So what, people selling products always try to make their products look more desirable than they are. That's what advertising does. So big deal, they massage the data a little. When you see a car insurance company ad, do you assume "oh they must be telling the truth, they would never try to deceive me!"

    And didn't you have 3 years in law school to figure this out? All these third-tier students around you. And you had so little idea of how you were being deceived, that is was only after you graduated that you realized that having mediocre grades at Drake Law School might not get you anywhere? Bullsh*t!!

  15. 8:52 why are you interested in defending this "product" the law schools are selling? Have your federally subsidized cost of attendance loans not ended yet? You are in for a rude awakening once graduation rolls around.

  16. It is sickening that law schools teach courses in "professional responsibility," and that bar associations offer CLE seminars on "ethics." I recall one instance where the PR “professor” became indignant when a student said he would bill for 5 hours of legitimate work done on an airplane, while flying out to see another client. She became passionate, angry, hostile and relentless. Her eyes lit up and she was simply unyielding on this “principle.” (I suppose she didn’t understand that one would simply spread out those 5 hours of work, on the timesheet.)

    The schools and "professors" also offer classes in consumer protection. Apparently, consumer protections only apply to other industries, not the "higher education" racket. Yes, that makes $en$e now, doesn’t it?!

    By the way, when I applied to law school, I informed my wife, friends and family that I would only go to if I received a full-tuition scholarship. Third Tier Drake actually initiated contact with me. I received a fee waiver. I then received a full scholarship from the commode. At the time, the school published a 97% placement rate. (I also knew that law schools do not contact employers, on behalf of students, i.e. that we need to find work.) I discussed my plans with several attorneys that I knew. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of talking to older attorneys. They told me that going to law school was the best decision they ever made. Based on these factors, I made a logical inference that going to school would not cost me much, and that I could at least use my law degree to find decent, non-legal employment.

    “So what, people selling products always try to make their products look more desirable than they are. That's what advertising does. So big deal, they massage the data a little. When you see a car insurance company ad, do you assume "oh they must be telling the truth, they would never try to deceive me!"

    Get some integrity, and grow a brain stem. You are comparing an industry that is well-known to employ underhanded sales tactics to august “institutions of higher learning” that receive BILLIONS in federally-backed student loans every year. Do you think that these distinct industries are comparable?!?! The fact that is the schools have a moral responsibility to provide ACCURATE info. They are not entitled to furnish false and misleading figures. If they do so, then they can expect to be called out. Do you understand that?!?!

    By the way, even sleazy stockbrokers and investment advisors are supposed to follow industry guidelines, SEC rules and criminal and civil laws. Why do you think Bernard Madoff is rotting in prison, apologist?!?!

    Lastly, here is a quote from Richard Matasar, dean of New York Law School:

    "We should be ashamed of ourselves. We own our students' outcomes. We took them. “We took their money. We live on their money to pay to come to San Diego. And if they don't have a good outcome in life, we're exploiting them. It's our responsibility to own the outcomes of our institutions. If they're not doing well ... it's gotta be fixed. Or we should shut the damn place down. And that's a moral responsibility that we bear in the academy. It's a leadership responsibility that each of us has.”

  17. The research on this site? top notch

    The writing style and tone? Strong yet brutal

    Watching Nando beat the shills down? Priceless.

  18. Anon 8:52 again. Decided to delete my comment? Why, because you couldn't answer me?



    Time Visitor Session
    Jan 15 2011 12:13pm 2 actions 7s
    Jan 15 2011 11:44am 2 actions 6s
    Jan 15 2011 10:38am 19 actions 48m 25s
    Jan 15 2011 10:02am 2 actions 37s
    Jan 15 2011 9:35am 2 actions 5s
    Jan 15 2011 8:44am 5 actions 18m 24s
    Jan 10 2011 7:48am 1 action 1m
    Jan 9 2011 7:07pm 1 action 1m

    @ 8:52 and 11:02,

    Hello, cockroach. How are you doing today?

    Listen, bitch. I never saw your other comment. The fact is that I did not delete any of your posts. It is not my fault that your earlier “brilliant” message was removed. Take that up with Blogger.

    By the way, you are not entitled to post comments on someone else’s forum. You are aware of that, correct?!?! In fact, I provide a lot more leeway on my site, than many of the other scam-bloggers. In many of those forums, the blog author must approve your message before it will be published. This might have something to do with the fact that their blogs also receive idiotic, completely baseless comments - from shills/morons such as you.

    I prefer to leave pathetic, ignorant, asinine comments from law school industry apologists on this board. It is so much fun beating your “arguments” into the ground. Plus, it shows people the trash we are up against.

    Now, if you want to engage in an honest and serious debate on the state of the legal industry, then contact Kimber at “Shilling Me Softly.” Ask her if you can be a guest on an upcoming Down By Law pod cast. She is a very fair woman; her balls are much bigger than yours, by the way. Hopefully, you will not be intimidated by that, pussy.

    Lastly, why would I delete your comments, when I have cut up your specious arguments, with surgical precision?!?! Take some Paxil - but DO NOT use in combination with your MAOIs. It is beyond strange that you are so hurt by your comment not being published. Anyway, go after Blogger for negligent infliction of emotional distress, sissy.

    Again, I did not delete your comment. All I did was hand your sorry ass to you in a paper sack. Do you want to come back for more? If so, then I will be more than happy to bitch-slap you some more.

  20. Ok, this is my last comment, and the last time I'll visit your pathetic, dishonest, blog. I just have this last thing to say:

    I am sure you are lying, and that you removed my comment.

  21. 1:35,

    Whoooo! Wow, you sure told him.

    Grow up. I heard about this site from an attorney I worked for. He warned me about going to law school. When I took the LSAT anyway, he sent me this link and to some of the other law blogs.

    While nando can be a little over the top sometimes, you can't say this blog is dishonest. Maybe you need to show this guy the number of law profs that've said positive things about the blog. In all honesty, nando can get away with occasionally knocking the crap out of somone because he is arguing off of facts and has solid arguments.

    Let's see. Nando backed up his side, answered your question, was quoted in the New York Times, was cited in a law review article, has had law profs side with him, etc. And you did what exactly? That's right. You acted like a kid. Well go ahead. Take your ball and go home.

    This blog will help someone else avoid law school.

  22. Indeed.

    It is the fact that the law school scamblogs deconstruct the mythology that underlies, for so many, the IDEA of going into law that some find it too hard to take, probably like our friend above. Anyone who pokes holes in the myth is detested because they are somehow offending what one has personally invested in the concept of going to law school, without the latter having given due regard to the ugly realities of this nastily overcrowded and overrated field.

    Entry into law as a field of endeavor is, nowadays, a lottery ticket. Nothing more.

  23. Did y'all see the Packers beat down the mighty Falcons o' da south? Son of mah bitch they played like shit. I had'sta eat another 8 piece bucket o' original chickens befo' I could get t' sleep las' night. I was so peeved, I couldn' even eat any o' The Colonel's chocolate cake. Tha's hows upsets I was.

    Ennyweh, bes ye gots enny posts on Kentucky law schools? I means to say has ya dun enny posts on 'em? If ya haven't what the sam hell ya waitin' fo'? It is mah sincere hope a post on dis page will raise da profile of these shitters.

    I's cants bes expected t' hire enny o' these kids to run my fryers if I's don' haves a reason to. Top third at Northern Kentucky don't mean shit.

    See, da employees can haves a good time at mah restaurants.

  24. I'm glad you delved further into the law review article. I think I couldn't stomach reading the realities especially since we live it every day.

  25. "The notion that Thomas Jefferson includes people who can't be found as employed is untrue. They count them neither as employed nor unemployed."

    I know the first commenter has already been beaten down, but this is categorically false. The ABA/AALS/USNWR regulations allow schools to count 1/4 of their unknown graduates as "employed" without any evidence that this is accurate. So if there are 100 non-responses, TJ - and every other law school - add 25 to the "employed" column and 25 to the "response" column.

    If you're going to argue this stuff, at least know what the hell you're talking about. With comments so dumb and blatantly false, why would Nando delete your posts?

  26. Think about it. The school told the Times their employment rate was 92%. And nando went to the school's web page. It showed 86% reponded to the survey and a placement rate of 84.7%. The associate dean at Thomas Jefferson is on record (Times) saying the 92% figure includes 25% of those that couldn't be reached and those that go on for another degree. The ABA allows schools to bump their employment % w/o affecting the avg. starting salary. Turns out this is too tempting for these shithouses.

  27. Just in case: if a post is too long it willnot get posted.

    Sometimes the poster just hits the post button and doesn't realize that. It has happened to me.

    And I love to hear stories about the Bedbug Co. guy, and totally agree with the poster of that story. Especially the part about dropping out if the first semester or year grades are not good.

    I realize that sort of advice sseems to go against the grain of what we have all been taught to believe about perseverence, not quitting etc, but in this case, the poster is absolutely right.

    Law school does not reward "hard work: for the majority.

    And the cost of hanging on tothe bitter end is devastating in terms of non dischargeable debt and all the destruction of a life that follows in its wake. And the lives of a spouse and others as co-signers maybe, or spirtually, as in seeing a family member or loved one or spouse suffer and die an internal death of the soul.

    But re: bedbugs Co's. The only thing aboutthat is, if I acutally see a truck with a sign on it saying it is a bedbug removal co, I think: "Oh No! There are bedbugs in the neighborhood!

    I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thng for business, but it sure makes me want to cross the street when I pass that house again.

  28. When it comes to law school, yes, if one is unconnected or lacks independent wealth, one must get the hell out if First Year grades aren't excellent. That is the thing to keep in mind for you kids who nevertheless insist on giving this sordid mess a go.

    If 1L grades are less than excellent, get the hell out. Law school is the only "education" where it is all over after the first year. It really is. That is part of the scam, and, it truly is a scam. The greedy pricks don't tell you that universal truth in any of the glossy brochures, I assure you. Pride and perseverance, ironically, will really screw you here if you are not vigilant.

    Those joining the family firm or from independent wealth, of course, this does not apply to you.

  29. @ 4:25

    I just watched the Jets game, and it kind of made me philosophical.

    The lessons that I was raised to learn from sports, especially team sports, are so different from what you have said.

    I think that what I did was take that competitive sports mentality or morality,(the pride and perseverence as you say) and applied it to Law School.

    My first semester grades were failing, but so were the grades of a lot of other students. My second semester grades were not much better. But so it was for a lot of others.

    And then in the 3rd semester I pulled it all up to a 1.9 I think. And by the end of the 4th semester I was finally off academic probation and "passing" with a total gpa of 2.0.

    All at a 4th tier school.

    The 4th semester, and then the 3rd year were much easier, because there were 3 or four elective courses that were ridiculously easy, with an easy B, B+, or an A.

    There I was all the while thinking I would be a quitter, reciting things like: "It aint over till it is over, or when the fat lady sings, or the miracle play that wins the ballgame. Or the 2 out bottom of the 9th home run.

    What I am saying is that this sort of thinking is ingrainded in American culture. And how naive and erroneous it is to apply it to law school.

    I don't know how to compare analogize the REAL TRUTH about Law school to to a football game, but I'll try. It is like saying that a team that is losing the game in the 3rd quarter is better off forfeiting the game, or simply not trying to score anymore because if they do so it will result in severe paycuts and penalties, and a loss of a career for the players on the losing team.

    But I always felt that no matter what, the degree was the degree, and that no one would ask where I went to school, and what my GPA was. A lawyer is a lawyer. I didn;t just make that up. It was told to me by many people.

    How wrong that was, and how misguided I was.

    And in conclusion, like you say, yes, it is a scam. The one word that we all come back to because it is the most descriptive of the whole mess. SCAM

    And of course I had no family firm or independent wealth. I really don;t want to sound like sour grapes when I say that, but if one does not have those connections, you will really be in serious financial and career trouble. And that is not bitterness speaking. That is reality and the truth.

  30. Nando:

    You write a great blog and I agree with its general message, but I'm curious about your personal career.

    Your write that you graduated Drake with a reasonable debt load, because of scholarships and frugality, and you currently have a full time non-legal job. So crushing debt won't stop you from starting a practice.

    Why don't you practice law on the side after you come home from your non-legal job? There are virtual offices for $50/month where you can meet clients and virtual answering services for $30/month. You'd make little money the first year, more the second year, and much more after that. In time your law practice would grow exponentially while your salaried non-legal job would stagnate. Even if you don't make $500k a year, your law practice would dwarf a $150k non-executive track middle manager corporate job.

    If you wrote a conventional legal blog with the same dedication that you write Third Tier Reality, by now you'd have picked up lots of clients from your blog. If you run my URL, you'll see I spend lots of time on your blog. This is because 1. I like it: you write well, and 2. I spend lots of time on the internet, and have lots of blogs up, while working on my own professional legal blog.

    This is not to take away from your message, law school is a bad investment for most. But you're stuck now and a guy as talented as you could do pretty well in this business.

  31. An interesting article linking the Tunisian riots to the situation of lack of educated jobs:

  32. "You'd make little money the first year, more the second year, and much more after that. In time your law practice would grow exponentially while your salaried non-legal job would stagnate. Even if you don't make $500k a year, your law practice would dwarf a $150k non-executive track middle manager corporate job."

    Though not beyond the realm of possibility, this scenario is pie-in-the-sky for most solo practitioners. There are simply too many lawyers competing over far too little *paid* legal work.

  33. "In time your law practice would grow exponentially while your salaried non-legal job would stagnate. Even if you don't make $500k a year, your law practice would dwarf a $150k non-executive track middle manager corporate job."

    In non-crack-induced language, please explain:

    1. Why will the non-law job "stagnate?"
    2. In a world where other law practices are struggling, why is Nando's going to "grow exponentially" to where it will "dwarf" a $150k job?

  34. 8:23PM seems to suffer from the same idealism of PI ambulance chasing attorneys who wait all their careers for that million dollar case that never comes through the door. In the meantime, they try to survive on $150 traffic cases and $500 divorces.

    The kids that apply to law school are similar to the blue collar folks that spend $100 on scratch off lottery tickets. They hear of a lottery winner (Biglaw job at $160K per year) and keep thinking about being the next winner. A few anecdotal success stories fuels the application rates and the financial ruin of an entire generation. This is very sad.

  35. as a 20 year practitioner, let me talk about you idiots who think income grows over time in practice. I was lucky to even survive the first couple of years solo(and yes I was trained my first couple of years out when firms actually hired associates before going solo) and my income probably peaked years ago. Simply put the number of lawyers being thrown into the market has made the competition grow and I get less cases so I make less unless I start wanting to have massive advertising. The referrals from past clients keep me open. Its not getting easier because I have more years in practice. The work is easier but you cant get work without clients.

    I am not going to bitch because I am still lucky enough to make a good living and am a big supporter of capitalism. However, I am not so ignorant to think this gravy train will last forever. Because I am unwilling to go on TV or buy huge phone book or other overpriced ads, my business has gone down because there are law firms that are all about marketing and dominating the competition then practicing law. These big firms typically do not serve their clients as well as the small firm or solo types who are experienced, but guess what, they get all the business. Good for them.

    My point is with the increased competition and tuition increases in the past 15 years, you have to be a fool to attend any law school that is not T-14 unless you just want a law degree and are going to strike it out on your own and take all those risks and even then its a losing gamble even if I understand why you do it. My point is dont expect your income to grow with time. As much as I cannot wait to get out of this profession, what will bury me is that the phone simply will stop ringing like it did years ago and I will be forced to close despite being open almost 15 years as a solo and knowing how to run a business. ITs simply a numbers game that will be dominated by those who want to invest a ton in marketing. Lawyers are like Walmart now.

    Only when enough time passes where these law students see that it simply makes no sense to go and these schools cant fill up their spaces will things change. I dont blame the schools as to their prices or even employment statistics that no one really knows, but until the product is not being bought, things will not change. This blog helps get info out there.

    Ultimately its going to take a lot to get these 4th tier type schools to close as most who attend law school are just hoping they can make it big even if reality says otherwise because they are smart and know they wont be happy with the alternative of making 40k a year for life with a 1-2% raise. Nando are you honestly happy making your income knowing there is not likely much increase? I know scholarship made you go to law school, but you also went surely because you wanted the chance at more then what you make now right? There is too much information about successful people in this world even if it is rare that many simply dont want to give up a chance even if it is a fools move in todays world. Thus the crappiest law schools will get filled. I know I went to one of them.

    As much as I wish I could be 22 again, Ill take being 45 because if you are a smart 22 year old trying to figure out what to do in life and you cant build or fix things, your future is enought to make you want to kill yourself. Going to law school makes no sense now days. Its a different world.

  36. Nando:

    Maybe you could do well with your own practice. Yout talents are obvious and extraordinary.

    But selfishly speaking, I hope you continue doing what you are doing, at least until there is realand lasting change with respect to the issues covered in your blog.

    Human lives are at stake.

    And I want to say Thank You. If you haven't heard it enough: Thank You again. You are a true pioneer and very courageous, and an inspiration.

    Also. The Times Article was good, but things are far from over. At least that is my opinion.

  37. Nando and Others:

    I very much appreciate this Blog. The information you are providing is extremely needed.

    I have a PhD in Genetics and was interested in changing careers and becoming a patent attorney. I am from WI and just recently got into UWisc Law, but thanks to this and other blogs I am considering not attending. I have heard that there is still strong demand for intellectual property lawyers, but I don't know what to believe anymore. Any thoughts from anyone?

    Also, I know the ABA does not want to do anything about the massive oversupply of lawyers, probably because they are in bed with Biglaw and academia, but can't lawyers change the leadership of the ABA so that they start doing something? Is there such a thing as an ABA election? If so, maybe you, other bloggers, and attorneys can focus your energies to promote policy changes that will benefit the legal profession in the long-run.
    Also, why not sue your old school?



  38. My advice to 10:48 would be to try to insure that, if necessary, he will be able to hide the JD later on.

    Why? Because unlike any other degree I can think of, from Art History to Ecoomics, to the Sciences, only the JD packs a significant stand-alone down-side. It is a uniquely toxic degree outside the field of law.

    Ergo, if law does not pan out as a gig for the JD-holder, he must be prepared to hide the JD in order to survive in the non-legal world. Sad, but true. If one decides not to, or cannot, practice law, non-law employers will LOATHE the JD and be highly suspicious of why he is not practicing law. It's a twisted world we are now in, but supply and demand do some nutty stuff.

    Again, the JD is unique in its toxicity outside law, and that must be kept in mind. Be prepared to explain those three years if you must.

  39. My ex-wife's company once hired a JD for an administrative assistant position. The JD spent more time complaining about workplace conditions, alleging OSHA and Federal labor law violations, than actually doing work. The JD even tried to rally co-workers to start a union. Eventually the JD was fired and the company had to pay a portion of her unemployment benefits. Needless to say, that was the last JD hired at the company in a non-legal capacity. Use that FWIW.

  40. So True:

    That's why I wrote that bit about NOBODY WILL HIRE ME on my blog.

    I really went through a long and wacky odyssey trying to get a non-legal job with my JD.

    I finally left it off and got an insurance salesmans job.

    Later I confessed to the agency that I had a JD, and they looked at me like I was a martian that just dropped from the moon. or a man with two heads.

    It was really frigging wierd. After that, no one in the agency would speak to me.

    It was like they all were wondering: WTF is wrong with HIM?

    Torture. Torture.Really confusing and distressing.

    This message about the Toxicity of the JD for non-legal employment cannot be repeated enough. I tried over a period of years. Maybe 6 years after law school.

  41. @2:58, the same rings true for non-lawyer/legal professionals. When I was laid off in late 2008, I had tried in vain to find non-legal support work. It took me two years to find another paralegal position in which I had to take a 35% pay cut.

    Do I like what I do? Actually, yes. I took my profession (if that's what you call it) pretty seriously. I went to school which offered an ABA approved paralegal program and I continue to take CLE classes (I have membership through a local bar association). I also audit paralegal classes while I was job hunting.

    Despite that I found a job recently working in-house, I worry that if I will get laid off again. This recession, being downsized, and unemployed for two years psychologically affected me. Even though it's going well at the new job, I still read articles about the great number of legal staff who are terminated from firms (and I doubt that these jobs will be re-filled). I can't help but wonder if I made a mistake remaining in the legal field for so long (it’s been 12 years now). While I like what I do, I do worry that since I did not go on to law school, I wonder when my number will be up; will paralegals eventually be phased out due to the high number of attorneys who are unemployed?

  42. TMF - former paralegal with a JD here...I can tell you just from my experience that it's very hard to get a paralegal job with a JD. I went to a good school but don't want to practice law. I've tried to get a well paying paralegal job but I've heard many lawyers don't want a fellow JD working for them as a paralegel as they suspect we will try to "lawyer" the case (even though I have no idea, after attending law school, how to "lawyer" as I've never obtained the needed on the job training to learn to practice) or the old kiss of death - we're just there until we find that plum "lawyer" job. Not so for me. I don't think experienced paralegals like you face any competition from newly minted JDs with no experience. I have a few years paralegal experience and may eventually find the right position, unless I decide to do something completely different.

  43. "Needless to say, that was the last JD hired at the company in a non-legal capacity. Use that FWIW. "

    January 17, 2011 2:31 PM

    Tracking the goings-on at the ex's company on a regular basis, huh?

  44. College student pays a semester of college tuition in singles ... $14,000 of them:

    I wonder what a year's worth of a TTTT law school tuition would look like in singles. Imagine $40,000 one dollar bills.

    The administrators of these dumps don't care how they are paid. Whether its by big fat check or--like strippers--in wads of singles. As long as it's green. In many ways, the pigs are similar to strippers. They'll do anything for money, have low morals and will tell a customer anything they want to hear. However, the industry shills are much worse. Most strippers are uneducated and poor. Also, they at least provide their customers with a cheap thrill. Maybe, they milk a hundred bucks out of a poor schmuck. At least they don't waste three years of a young person's life only to saddle them with a lifetime of non-dischargeable debt.

    The chances of going to a strip club and actually leaving with a stripper are about the same as going to TTTT law school and walking away with a law job. Yet fools fall for both.

    Even if you do hit the jackpot, you may not be that lucky. With the stripper, you'll probably end up with crabs or hepatitis. With law school, you'll probably be overworked and underpaid at a PI mill or a public defenders office

  45. The to Ph.D. patent wannabe. Your degree in genetics is good (depending on the school), but the patent climate has changed for the worse. I still think a Ph.D. and a J.D. from UW should be good enough to land a decent job as long as you do well in law school. If you only had a M.S. or a B.S., I would not recommend law school - period - but particularly in the bio/chem sciences. The credential bar has been raised with all the doctoral students leaving academia for law school over the past 15 years. Neverthless, I know many individuals who have been laid off from patent law firms (big law and boutiques) that have not been able to find another job. They are now out of the field trying to do whatever they can to pay off their loans. I have two MS degrees in science and TTT law degree, but have been working as a contract attorney for 5 years after getting laid off from my patent law firm job. Bottom line is I can't get back on my feet after being out of the law firm loop for so long. You will likely make it at big law, but your career could very well be short-lived (as was mine), e.g., 2-4 years. Make sure you don't go out and buy a house and a new BMW on the assumption that the gravy train will keep rolling. There is very little job security in law, unlike the sciences - despite the low pay.

  46. I'm a television producer in Washington, DC looking for a law school grad who can't find a job in the law field and is swimming in school debt. Somone who might be willing to do a television interview. If you are in the DC, Maryland, Virginia area and are willing to talk with me, please shoot me a call or email (see my contact info below).
    Appreciate it!
    work: 202 895-5551

  47. "Appreciate it!
    work: 202 895-5551

    January 18, 2011 11:40 AM"

    Welcome to the law school scamblogosphere!

  48. To 1-16-11 @ 8:23 pm,

    I am not exceptional. I write this blog because legions of JDs are drowning in debt - with little to no chance of re-paying those loans. The fact is I “only” owe about $74K in combined student debt. Many are in worse financial shape.

    Furthermore, I live in an area that is over-saturated with lawyers. For instance, the local Yellow Pages contain 71 pages of attorney ads. This does not include the full-page ads on the front and back cover of the book. Here is a further breakdown:

    Attorneys - pp. 69-139 (plus full page ads on front and back cover)
    Auto dealers - pp. 147-153
    Auto repair – pp. 170-182
    Dentists – pp. 349-379
    Insurance – pp. 599-625
    Physicians – pp. 797-850
    Plumbing – pp. 863-900 (including 8 pages of coupons)
    Restaurants – pp. 946-974
    Veterinarians and hospitals – pp. 1167-1177

    Do you understand the situation better, now? Attorney ads far outnumber those listed for local restaurants!!

    The big mills can simply blow a new lawyer’s ass out of the water, due to their massive advertising budgets. These large, established firms engage in constant, aggressive marketing. Their ads are on TV and radio, at all hours of the day. Practically speaking, what chance does a new solo attorney have against such odds?! Take into account that the recent lawyer typically is tied down with a ton of non-dischargeable loans.

    Additionally, the established firms are able to cherry-pick the best cases. The PI firms don’t want the difficult, time-consuming cases. They want the easy ones that will lead to quick settlement. Likewise, criminal defense lawyers don’t want to represent deadbeats and bums who have $12.74 to their name. In the final analysis, this is a business. If you don’t take in more than your expenditures, you will fold up shop.

    This also means that the recent lawyer is stuck with these complex, borderline cases. How many of these attorneys have the funds to take on these cases, i.e. front fees for expert witnesses; depositions; footwork/track down witnesses; research complex areas such as brain and spine injuries, limited liability, re-insurance, etc.?!

    At this point, I have determined that I do not need the added stress of late-night phone calls, 12-14 hour work days, constant emails, “professional standards,” CLE dues, overhead, legal minutiae, running down witnesses, pressing deadlines, etc. The way things stand, I can exercise, have sex, hang out with my wife and friends, travel whenever I want, go to movies, attend sporting events, and beat the living hell out of the law school cartel.

    Also, if the state bar association pigs were to see this blog, I highly doubt that I could even sit for the bar exam.

  49. I think a lot of unemployed/underemployed lawyers should contact local TV stations. Tell your stories! It's dramatic, they'd like to hear them.

    And about suing your schools for misrepresenting employment prospects?

    And what about voting to select better ABA leadership?

  50. nando 132

    Cant say I disagree with anything you just said. Many of us practitioners are slowly dying out due to lack of business and quite frankly from a quality of life standpoint, i wont miss it. All the crap you have to go through is ridiculous even after you get your license.

    You left off having your trust account audited by the State Bar and having some jerk who has never had a client tell me how to do better is insulting.

  51. 417

    society hates lawyers and people would want to hear all the stories of lawyers taking out loans and destroying themselves financially, but not because they would feel sorry for them.

    the average person if they saw these pity stories on tv would celebrate like an arab in downtown ny on 9/11

  52. @ 9:42: "Because I am unwilling to go on TV or buy huge phone book or other overpriced ads, my business has gone down because there are law firms that are all about marketing and dominating the competition then practicing law."

    If you don't advertise, of course you're not going to make money. How did you last this long? How did you even get the first clients in the door 20 years ago if you didn't advertise?

    I love marketing! I spend more time thinking about fonts, letterhead, search terms etc. than I do about the federal and state rules of civil procedure.

    I've been out 12 years and am not despondent like you. If you do a good job you do get a growing referal base, but you must always stay on top of marketing. Even biglaw firms market, though it is more subtle.

    I am a businessman; law just happens to be the thing that I sell.

    j-dog: I know lots of corporate employess who only make a little more than $100k a year. To be a real $1M year executive takes a top MBA school, a top consulting gig etc.

    On the other hand, for a lawyer each $1,000 a week equals $50k a year in income. If expenses are 50k, $5k a week is $200k a year. $5k a week is equal to 1 felony, 2 DUIs, a small divorce retainer, a portion of a miniscule PI case, etc.

  53. Glad to hear of your success.

    I think the key is, for those who can stomach it, insure the hell out of oneself and step out there and solo it. Nonethelsss, that has to be hard to do with a ton of school debt; that is, to buy/rent a brick and mortar shop, in a decently-trafficked area, staff it with secretary/receptionist, furnish it, get malpractice coverage, then, and only then, step out onto the street, having never been taught how to practice law, and start taking cases.

    I am impressed by those who can do that, I will freely admit. But probably not within the realm of possibility for most.

  54. I always say that the biggest beneficiaries of law schools are NEVER the law graduates, but the law firms and other employers of law graduates.

    Another beneficiary of law schools is the faculty and the administration running the law schools.

    In this capitalistic society, why would the law school industry in general make the law graduates the biggest beneficiaries, when the people running the law industry are law firms, employers of law graduates, and the faculty??

    As a corollary, college education in the US mainly benefits corporate America, who are the employers of college graduates. Education in America produces workers for corporate America, not citizens for the society.

  55. I generally agree with the overall message of this blog.


    I think the one thing you're forgetting is that you're looking at law within a vacuum. Does anyone really think that we're going in a direction where people will need LESS academic qualifications? This is a symptom a greater problem in the American economy, not some vast conspiracy.

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  57. NANDO, wasn't sure how to get this link to you (I'm new to Blogger) but have you heard about this guy's bar application getting denied because he had "too much law school debt"? Unbelievable. PS. Keep up the good work.

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  59. I went to a third tier ohio ls and was not top in my class. When I graduated I passed the bar and got a job as an attorney as a private firm within about 1 year. I went to a prestigious dc area hs and a competitive Ohio lib. Arts college. I do have hefty law debts but I'm a practicing attorney with a great mentor (president of firm) and earning decent pay.


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