Friday, April 23, 2010

QA with Esq. Never

Let's go into the weekend with the QA I promised you a while ago. These questions appear in no particular order. I've tried to limit my answers to keep this post to a reasonable length.

How old are you, E.N.?

I am in my late 20's.

What led you start this website?

I sort of touched on this in my first post, but I had some thoughts I wanted to share both about law school and trying to find a non-legal job. I initially thought the main point of the blog would be to chronicle my quest for a job, but given that a lot of my time was spent sending resumes off into oblivion, I focused a bit more on other subject matter. As I became more frustrated with how useless my degree truly appeared to be and learned that many, many other people were in the same or a worse boat, the blog took on more of a "scam busting" flavor.

How did those job fairs work out?

I actually only went to one of the three for which I signed up. I ditched the first two because the paltry number of companies present didn't seem to make it worth the trip. The one I did attend was actually quite good. I plan to blog about it in the future. I did get a few leads, but so far, nothing has worked out. It did help that this particular fair was aimed at a specific industry.

Why won't you reveal where you went to law school? What are you afraid of?

My job search is difficult enough without possibly exposing myself and having an angry law school, alumni, etc. doing everything they can to further frustrate it.

That said, even if I wasn't concerned about my anonymity, I'm not sure I'd really like to get into a fight with my particular school. I've said before that I don't think it's as sleazy as say Seton Hall or NYLS. It is, of course, overpriced and generally a useless institution, but it isn't the worst of the worst.

This really isn't about Esq. Never vs. Law School X. It's about an entire industry that engages in deceptive marketing, exploits the cheap credit that flows from the student lending system, and doesn't really care that its "customers" end up indebted and unemployable.

Why are comments now censored (they used to display immediately)?

At one point I didn't monitor comments. I wanted to allow everyone to voice their opinions even if was the typical "You're a whiner" and "You should have done more research" canards.

Sadly, one person wanted to post identifying information about me and ruined it for everyone. That said, I do not censor comments. They are only on a delay. I recognize this may discourage discussion, but for the time being, it is necessary.

Aside from attempts to "expose" me, I have rejected comments that are entirely off topic, spam, or duplicate posts. If you search through my comments, you will find critical remarks about my opinions and even a decent amount of name calling aimed towards me.

Why are you so hesitant to weigh in on politics?

Personally, I see it as irrelevant. Most people who go to law school have developed some sort of political viewpoint, and by siding with or against certain politicians, I believe I would unnecessarily anger other people who do not agree with me.

I do not see the problems with higher education (and law school specifically) as part of a systemic problem with America. I see it as a bad "product" that deserves to be criticized. Just like there are websites dedicated to exposing "get rich quick" schemes and other ripoffs, I believe this blog serves the same function for the law school industry.

The recession aside, I think life would have been just fine for me had I not made such a bad decision in attending law school. I believe the problems with law school can be solved through realistic changes to how legal education is provided that do not require ushering in the workers' revolution.

That said, I do think there are governmental issues that relate to the problems with law school. Chiefly, I believe the culprit is the limitless supply of student loans. To remedy the situation, I advocate two policy positions. One "left-winged": Allow student loans to be discharged in bankruptcy; one "right-winged": End the federal student loan program at least for graduate, professional schools.

These measure would cause the COA to plummet, force many TTT's out of market, and probably require the restructuring of the entire legal education system around a more practical model. The only expensive, theoretical institutions that would survive would be the ones that could truly guarantee jobs to their graduates that would allow them to service their debts.

What will happen to Esq. Never when you get a job?

Good question. For the time being, that isn't much of a concern.

Feel free to continue e-mailing me questions, and I will continue this series when I get enough to warrant an additional post.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Scam Within a Scam...Within a Scam?

If you've ever read Shakespeare's famous play, A Midsummer Night's Dream, you probably know that it is famous (in part) because it features a play within a play. I'm knowledgeable enough about literature to know that fact. I, however, am not quite sophisticated enough to realize why it is particularly noteworthy.

Nevertheless, while I may be ignorant when it comes to the intricacies of the Bard's greatest works, over the past several months I've become quite adept at recognizing the shady tactics of our friends in the law school and higher education industrial complex.

First, there was Solo Practice University. For hundreds of dollars they promised to give solo practitioners (even those right out of law school) the tools they need to succeed. Of course, those tools consisted almost exclusively of a bunch of (non-state specific) videos for practicing different areas of the law. Like a set of videos for "Do-It-Yourself Surgery", such an approach to learning the law was a bit perfunctory, and the results were more likely than not destined to be rather messy.

Then our friends at Law Crossings started spamming the job boards, claiming they could help graduates find their first attorney positions regardless of whether the applicant's GPA was 2.0 or 4.0.

I watched a story on 60 Minutes the other night where a couple of psudeo-doctors convinced patients with a certain terminal ailment to pony up some big bucks in exchange for a nonexistent cure. You know what? I'll bet those "doctors" would be thoroughly disgusted by Law Crossings.

Seriously. What type of scum bag is willing to further rip off somebody who already is unemployable and under a mountain of debt? They'd honestly be less repugnant characters if they just took your money in exchange for a swift kick to the groin.

So now comes the latest in a long line of swindles. But this swindle actually has multiple layers. (Hence it being a "Scam within a Scam".)

I recently received an urgent piece of mail from some company called ECMC. Prior to reading this piece of mail, I had no idea who ECMC was. In fact, I'm still not 100% sure who they are except that the company guarantees federal loans. Apparently, however, this company was in possession of personal data related to me. It also seems that their crack security team allowed said personal data to be compromised.

Great. So let me get this straight. My law school and Sallie Mae conned me into going into massive debt for a worthless degree. Then for some reason they handed over my personal information to some other student lending company of some sort without telling me about it - though I'm sure it was buried in one of the 39 letters with 8-inch font they send me every week. Now, thanks to their bungling, another con artist has absconded with my sensitive, personal information.

It doesn't end there, though. Even though they insist that no "savings, checking, or credit card account numbers" were compromised (uh, what about SS numbers?) - which there's really no reason they should have in the first place - they're offering 12 free months of credit monitoring through another company.

Now call me cynical, but I can't help it at this point. If important data truly wasn't compromised, is this really necessary? If I sign up for this, how come I anticipate seeing myself being automatically re-enrolled at $59.99 a month once the free trial is over? Sorry, I don't have a lot of faith in a company that uses some doofus playing the guitar in a pirate-themed restaurant to advertise for its product. (Maybe that guy should go to law school - then he'd really have something to sing about!)

So in addition to all my other woes, I have to choose between trusting that recently released inmate #68934 isn't selling my personal data over the internet to some guy in Nigeria or risk spending eight hours on the phone in 12 months trying cancel my brand new credit alert contract.

Is paying that Law Crossings guy to kick me in the groin an option?

All the world's a stage filled with potential law students,
And all the men and women merely a source of revenue;
They have their savings and the ability to sign promissory notes,
And one man in his time can be conned many times,
His indebtedness being seven ages.

-As The Law School Industry Likes It

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Responsible 0L

I don't know much about relationships, and I'm not going to pretend that I do. Maybe what I do know is based upon watching too many sitcoms when I was younger. Nevertheless, it seems that one problem that frequently arises is a situation where a person enters a relationship that most of his (or more likely, her) friends believe will end in disaster. The person, however, is so enamored with the new boyfriend that she is unwilling to listen to her friends' warnings and ends up distraught and emotionally scarred.

Maybe this scenario is just the byproduct of the crummy (and seriously wussy) TV shows I watched as a teenager. Nevertheless, I think it's a good analogy for the relationship between anti-law school advocates and the hordes of 0L's that have been seduced by the law school marketing machines.

Like a good looking "prince charming", the law school deans whisper sweet nothings about their great educational programs and the abundant career options that await the starry eyed 0L's in three years. This seduction even continues once the students are enrolled in law school.

During my 1L year, I remember professors telling us about what awaits us when we become associates in large firms - as if landing such positions was a given. One legal writing professor even urged us to be kind to our secretaries because they hold more power than they're given credit. Who would have thought that the reason they "hold more power than I do" is because they're actually gainfully employed, and I'd be lucky to get a sales position at Radio Shack?

Like the friends of an enamored teenage girl, however, the scam-bloggers can't get through to these infatuated pre-laws. "It's not true!", the 0L's cry. "They wouldn't lie to us!", they protest. No, it's us - the "losers" - who are the enemy and just out to sully the good names of these fine institutions of academic excellence because we couldn't hack it.

Sadly, when their three years are up, they finally are able to recognize the truth - once it's too late. Just like the girl who spurned her friends' counsel and has learned that "prince charming" has been dating three other girls and is indifferent to her feelings, the new law school graduates are cast out from their delusions only to realize they've been conned by some of the most duplicitous characters in higher education.

I mention all of us this to help explain why it's so refreshing to speak with 0L's who are actually willing to seriously consider the problems associated with attending law school.

Recently, an 0L sent me an e-mail asking me my opinion on whether attending LS this coming year is a good idea or not. With his permission, I have published his inquiry and my response. In order to protect his identity, I have omitted certain identifying information:

Esq, Never,

I have been accepted to [a good tier 1, but not T-14, law school] with a scholarship. It will essentially cost 65k (that includes living expenses). My Stafford loans will cover it all, so no grad plus. I have about 40k in savings as well. [A number of my relatives] all work in large firms and said they would help me out. Do you think it would be a mistake to go? Law school has always been my dream but with the market the way it is right now I don’t know if 65k in debt would be too much. Any advice would be appreciated.

-A Responsible 0L

Dear Responsible 0L,

My advice about whether one should attend LS is almost universally "no".

Because I recognize that such a direct response is unhelpful, let me pose some questions to help you think through your decision.

1) Is the 65k you plan on borrowing truly going to cover ALL expenses from the day you enroll until the day you graduate - including summers?

Remember, all sorts of attendant and unanticipated costs arise during law school. You still need to pay for insurance (including health), car repairs/maintenance, and transportation costs (just to name a few). You should not anticipate making any money over the summers when calculating the COA. Sure if you do get a big firm SA, you'll be able to cover many expenses, but many students work unpaid over the summers - even from good schools.

If your firm doesn't pay for it, you'll need to pay for bar prep, and you'll also need to take into account living expenses during that time period. If you can't find a job well after you take the bar (like me), you'll also have to have cash reserves. Do you honestly think you'll still have $40k in savings when law school is over?

2) How much help will your contacts actually be?

If you're banking on their connections, you'd better know exactly how much assistance they can provide up front. Are they partners? Are they involved in hiring decisions? Sit down with them and tell them that you're taking the risk of going to law school, and you need to know if they can get you into their firms if you're in a bind (e.g. wipe out at OCI). Can they just hand you a job? Will you need to have a certain class rank in order for them to get you in? Get as much concrete information as possible.

3) What do you mean when you say law school is your dream?

Does it mean that you dream about making six figures and working in a skyscraper? If so, recognize that only a sliver of students attain this goal - and many who do eventually "make it" find such positions stressful. There are other paths to becoming a well-to-do professional.

Do you dream of being a Jack McCoy-esque advocate in the courtroom? If so, realize that most lawyers don't spend that much time in full blown trials. Big city DA positions are also pretty competitive and don't pay that well. Also, much of what you'll do for a number of years will be fairly routine hearings and the like.

If you think that LS is going to be interesting, know that most of it deals with reading cases, pulling out rulings and then applying those rules to fact patterns usually involving subcontractors, landowners, and negligent workers. If you enjoyed the political/theoretical aspects of law in undergrad (e.g. critical legal theories, law and economics, constitutional philosophy), know that this will have little to do with your 1L courses and will usually only be covered by electives such as "Jurisprudence".

If you truly will only have $65k in debt and you'll be able to either use your school's rep (and a high class rank) or your family connections to land a good, firm job, then it could be worth it. Just realize that many attorneys are unhappy, and transitioning out of the law can be difficult later on.

Based upon your e-mail address, it seems like you have a good job. If you're bored at work, I'd look to try to find a new position or maybe enroll in a program (preferably part time) that will enhance your business or technology credentials.

Remember, being bored and unfulfilled at work is something you can change. Being in heavy debt and unemployable (as is my position) is a hole that is very hard to climb out of. I have received letters from distraught readers with T-14 degrees who are in the same position.

Also, right now even people at the best schools aren't guaranteed good jobs at graduation. The economy could be better in three years, but it's also possible that the legal market has been changed forever and that the economy could double dip into another recession. Don't attend if you're banking on a better economy.

If you do go, don't be too proud to throw in the towel. If your class rank is low and your contacts aren't working out after the first year (or even first semester), get out and try to get back into the business world.


I would urge other prospective law students to also spend time seriously considering all the potential consequences of (and alternatives to) going to law school.

The letter writer informed me that he is taking the time to consider the questions I posed in my response.

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It's that time of year again. I'm not referring to the filing deadline for federal taxes. After all, given the employment status of many of this blog's readers, I assume income taxes aren't exactly a pressing issue for most of us. (I guess, it'll be up to others to provide the revenue to fund the federal student loan program that helps prop the higher education cartel.)

While April 15 is usually associated with taxes, this year it's also the date US News and World Report released the 2011 Graduate School Rankings on its website.

Like with most other facets of the graduate school swindle, an established institution will profit from this nation's obsession with higher education while the customers will end up both poorer and not particularly better informed.

To be sure, the rankings will get a significant amount of attention. All of the academics will provide the obligatory condemnation of the rankings as an imprecise tool of measuring the quality of their programs. The schools that get particularly shafted will object even more vociferously while doing their best to spin their decline in the rankings to students - both current and prospective. The schools that are promoted will wear their elevated status as a badge of honor (only to condemn the very same rankings the following year should their fortunes change).

Of course, the law school rankings (and higher education rankings in general) are garbage. The methodology is too subjective. The weights given to certain variables are questionable, and most of the self reported data are likely distortions if not outright lies.

This is to say nothing of the meaninglessness of the actual ranks themselves. What benefit does a student at the 53rd best law school enjoy that a student at the 75th best law school does not?

Sure, there are some general categories. The so-called T-14, the Top 25, etc., but even these general categories cease to be particularly important once you go down the food chain.

Here's the Esq. Never Rankings:

Probably Worth the Money: Harvard, Yale, Stanford

Possibly Worth the Money: The rest of the T-14

Don't Waste Your Money: Everybody Else

What's absurd, however, is that prospective law students will actually make their decisions on where to enroll based upon this nonsense. Some will forgo scholarships just so they can say they went to a ranked school (even if it may not be ranked next year). Some will latch onto a better ranked "national school" because the local school won't offer the same "bragging rights". Everyone will think/hope that their school will eventually climb in the rankings (and thus be a better investment) even though any such movement will do nothing for them.

Let's take a look at this year's rankings to further understand what a sham they are.

The full rankings are only available via a subscription, but you can find a copy of the tier one schools here and the tier two schools here.

Look how volatile the rankings are - particularly in the second tier. Just a couple years ago, Temple was pushing towards the top 50, now it's tied with Seton Freakin' Hall. Marquette wasn't even invited to the party this year as it fell into the third tier.

As for schools that saw significant gains, Pepperdine (while actually decently ranked last year) and Miami were pretty much towards the lower end of the 2nd tier when I was applying, and now they are knocking on the top 50's door.

If that doesn't seem that amazing, then let me pose this query: Whose souls did Hofstra and Chapman have to sell in order to make the top 100 this year?

Admittedly, the 1st tier is a little bit more stable, but let's take a look at the employment figures US News lists. We're really expected to believe that with one exception, no fewer than 70% of the class at all of the tier one schools were employed at graduation? Most even boast employment stats in the 80's and 90's.

The 9 month employment stats are even more absurd. All of the top 50 schools claim to effectively have full employment at 9 months out. Is this true? Not based upon the e-mails and comments I receive from first many first tier students.

The University of Utah even has the gall to claim absolute, full employment at 9 months out. Funny isn't this the same school that admitted it juiced the stats (err, made a mistake) just this year regarding its average starting salary? I assume this is another "mistake".

The second tier employment figures are equally unbelievable. All the second tier toilets claim to also have full employment at 9 months out. This includes the schools that could just have easily been classified as third tier schools.

What's more despicable is that US News and World Report allows about a dozen of these dumps to still be ranked in the second tier even if they are unwilling to provide their data for employment at graduation. Apparently, they can't handle the truth - Nevertheless, US News doesn't seem to let that affect their rankings too much.

This is not to say that the schools that do submit data are exactly trying to play an honest game. I guess omitting data is better than lying about it.

I'm pretty incredulous that 80% of graduates from Seton Hall and DePaul had jobs at graduation. Almost all of the other schools claim about 2/3rds of their students had jobs in hand before taking the bar. I'll personally EAT a copy US News' "Guide to the Best Grad Schools" if Chapman can prove that 90% of its students walked the stage at graduation employed as attorneys.

The one school that may have actually honestly reported this data is U Missouri, which reports only 1/2 of its students graduated with promises of employment. Its reward? Falling from 65 to 93 in the rankings. Honesty doesn't pay in the law school scam game. I'm sure they'll never make that mistake again.

Even if the data that is reported is technically true (a dubious assertion), the rankings and statistics are still garbage. Is a school that jumps (or drops) even more than 10 slots in a given year really that much better or worse than it used to be? There's nothing stopping a school from being much better ranked or even being knocked out of the top 100 in a few years based upon some quirks in the data reported or some unscientific rating of it's reputation.

Moreover, the employment data is a joke. For example, most schools in New Jersey can just throw their graduates into year long clerkships and claim they're employed at graduation even though this make work scheme will leave them destitute the year after. Employment at 9 months out is meaningless. It certainly doesn't mean almost all students are employed as attorneys within a year of graduation. It means that they have some job - any job. Working at Burger King, doing a temporary stint for the Census Bureau, or working at the local "gentleman's club" all count towards that figure.

What does it mean when a school is ranked in the 60's or 70's (or virtually anywhere else for that matter), claims that 70% are employed at graduation, and 95% at 9 months out? It means the school is a waste of money, is run by liars, and that you can always fall back on jobs you could get with or without a GED.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ask Esq. Never

I receive quite a bit of e-mail and comments seeking my opinions, thoughts, and (yikes!) even advice on certain matters. People are also occasionally interested in more information about this blog and the anti-law school backlash in general.

I think I do a pretty decent job replying to people when it comes to e-mail, but because I'm always careful to protect the privacy of anyone who contacts me, I never share their often interesting questions on the blog. As for the comments, I admittedly tend to do a poor job of responding to anything other than direct challenges to a position that I take.

Therefore, I would like to publish a "mailbag" post in the near future. I'm not sure how popular this will be, but I figure it's a good time to give this a try.

If you have something that you'd like me to address for the mailbag, please send me an e-mail at with "Mailbag" or "Ask Esq. Never" in the subject (or mention in the body of the e-mail that you'd like to have your question included in the blog post).

Feel free to ask questions about this blog, law school, scam blogs in general, the "alternative" job search, or anything else you think is relevant. If you have a comment to which you'd like me to react, please feel free to share it as well. Also, feel free to ask multiple questions (to be answered separately).

Try to keep the question short enough for a blog posts (no more than a few sentences). Also, please don't ask questions that would take an entire blog post to explain.

Questions that are not serious, will not receive serious answers. If you do politely ask a critical question in good faith, I promise not to make fun of you.

I will not answer questions that would compromise my anonymity (e.g. where I live; where I went to school). In order to maintain the philosophical neutrality of this blog, I will also not share my politics or personal beliefs on serious subjects that are unrelated to law school. Obviously, I will not entertain questions or comments that are particularly offensive or obscene.

If I receive enough questions/comments in short order, I will respond with a blog post this week. If it takes longer to gather enough responses, I will wait until later in the month. If this feature proves to be particularly popular, I'll categorize the questions and break up the blogs posts accordingly. If this feature is a complete bust, I'll cry myself to sleep and just make up some fake questions...or I'll just forget about it and turn my attention to other posts.

If you do not note that you want to be included in the mailbag, I'll keep your e-mail in confidence. I'll print your first name only if it appears in the body of your e-mail. I will respect requests to remain anonymous.

Please do not post questions to the comments section. (I have disabled it for this post.)

Thank you, and I look forward to responding to the questions and comments that you send to (with "Mailbag" or "Ask Esq. Never" in the subject).

Friday, April 9, 2010

Prelaws Say the Darndest Things!

Remember the movie The Truman Show? I was personally a little disappointed when I watched it and learned that it had little to do with our 33rd President. Nevertheless, it did present a somewhat interesting concept - a guy lives in a manufactured world only to eventually discover everything he thinks he knows about the world is a farce.

Personally, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish I was on the set of the 'Esq. Never' Show. That way I'd eventually be able to open the door and exit to a world where I'm not both massively indebted and pretty much unemployable.

That's right. Ha ha, guys, okay, I fell for the joke...You had your fun...Can I get off the set now?

Of course, I know this isn't true. After all, if my life was a show, it would have been canceled long ago. Somehow I doubt that even the most voyeuristic audience would tune in to watch me type away at my computer, eat Chef Boyardee from the can, and sit in the corner of my room and cry.

Nevertheless, there is a place where you can go where everyone is so detached from reality that they all live in blissful ignorance about the environment around them. In fact, there are a number of these fantasy lands that exist around the web - perhaps you know them better as prelaw message boards.

Two of the most popular of such boards are Law School Discussion and the Top Law Schools Forums On the sets of the Prelaw Show you'll read fantastic statements that claim that some fourth tier dump is "highly respected" in a certain city or that finishing in the middle of the pack at a second tier school is going to guarantee you an $80k salary at a mid-sized firm.

But let's not just stick to generalizations. For your reading pleasure, I bring you the Top 10 Most Amazing Prelaw Quotes on the Internet...that I happened to stumble across during my five minutes of reading over these boards.

(For anyone who thinks that instead of making fun of these prelaws, I should be trying to help them, let me assure you I've already tried to weigh in. Nobody on these boards is willing to listen to reason. If you don't believe me, try it yourself and see just how receptive these folks are to your objections to law school.)

10. So I have to make a decision between the two. I haven't really heard much about either since they are both Tier 4 schools [Valparasio and Nova Southeastern], however, that doesn't mean anything to me. If you know anything about these two schools, please let me know it would be very helpful.

Because you're confused, let me inform you what "Tier 4" means. It means you're going to mortgage your future by handing over an obscene amount of money to some soulless dean in exchange for a piece of paper that couldn't be worth less if it was a page in a kids coloring book.

9. I am currently Waitlisted at Southwestern and I got accepted into TJSL. I am going to put down the deposit for TJSL but Southwestern is my dream.

Martin Luther King's dream was a united brotherhood of man. Your dream is being admitted to a law school that can't even crack the top 100 (which is pretty weak). Too bad once you graduate, you won't wake up from this nightmare.

8. Yea actually I am debating between widener and TJSL, and I am still waiting on southwestern. I happen to have some time to do a lot of researching of places, neighborhoods, apartments etc. so I would suggest you do that. maybe pick out 1 or two apartments you would like for both cities, I am sending in two seat deposits as well to buy myself more time...if you want any more info let me know

Instead of researching neighborhoods and apartments, perhaps you should take some time to research your future job prospects. I guess you can think about that when the law school apologists are denouncing you for not doing your research in three years.

Sending in two deposits is good idea. Choosing whether you want to destroy your life by going to a crappy law school or by going to a really crappy law school is a decision you don't want to rush.

7. Earlier in my cycle (when I was still considering these three [DePaul/Loyola/Kent]) I began talking to people in the Chicago area about this. They all said the three have made good names for themselves in the Chicago area. Obviously it would be harder to obtain "big-law" jobs from these schools as opposed to Northwestern etc. But from what I understood, it is very possible to reach your goals (considering they are realistic) coming from any of them. I would encourage you to visit each school and decide which you fit best with.

Reach your goals? As long as they're realistic? Well, unless your goal is work in some of the finest document review sweat shops in Chicago, I'd stay away from these second tier diploma mills. Oh, and that's assuming the economy improves. If it doesn't, your goals better include relying on state assistance in order to survive.

6. You don't have to go to a school in the DC area to get a job in Washington; nor do you have to go to a T14 or T20. I've had friends who went to TTT-type schools who have scored DOJ and other nice attorney gigs in the federal government.

Unless your friends went to Regent Law during the Bush administration or have some incriminating photos of an attorney general, I'm pretty incredulous. If you go to a TTT because somebody claims he knows somebody who got a decent job in DC, I think you'll find that to be the case as well. Too bad if you wait until you graduate to come to this realization, that lesson is going to come at a high price.

5. The state of Ohio is boring and too far from a beach. Villanova is better than PSU in Philly. Philadelphia is a world class city and is an amazing place to live. Nova has a great rep in the city and grads do well in the Philly market. Which is a huge market. Go to nova u will like the mainline area and Philly is fun and a change of pace from Cali. It's a great catholic school with a beautiful campus.

Like, man, you totally need to go to law school near the beach, dude! Plus, the amount of fun you have in law school is totally going to determine your job prospects afterward!

Clearly sage advice.

4. Are you serious? I go to a tier 4 and know plenty of people doing well for themselves, someone even agreed to pay me pretty well this summer. I don't know if you are even in law school or not, but either way what you are saying is B.S. [In response to one compassionate soul telling the lemmings not to jump off the cliff.]

You got a summer job? Wow! Actually, that is kind of impressive. Nevertheless, those $10 you're making per hour aren't going to be much consolation when you can't find a job paying more than $40k as an attorney (if you're lucky).

You're right, though. Why wouldn't anyone pay sticker at a fourth tier school? I mean just because tier 1 students are struggling to find jobs doesn't mean that the lower half of law schools are going to be a risky investment.

Oh wait...this can't be a serious post. Thanks for checking in, Dean Matasar - you almost got me!

3. I just got accepted into Seton Hall but via the LEO summer program, does anyone have any information on this program, or attending this fall?

I think Nando has some advice. You couldn't even get into Seton Hall through the general admission process? Game over, man. Game over.

2. I'm officially a class of 2013 Brooklyn Law student!

I just got off the phone with Miss Cleo, and she predicts you're going to be considerably less excited in 2013.

1. I have a low LSAT Score (143) and I was admitted into the Summer Conditional (AAMPLE) Program through Florida Coastal. Can anyone give me their opinions on this program.

Res ipsa loquitur

Notice how nobody on these boards (not limited just to the above quotes) announces that they want to work in document review, or do cut and paste work for $40k for a personal injury firm, or end up in an entry level position unrelated to the law. Compare that to the number of graduates (even pre-recession) who ended up in such positions.

Oh, but it won't be you, my prelaw friend. No, your second tier diploma is special. There's something about your 45 percentile class rank at a TTT that sets you apart. Your lower ranked first tier has something magical about it just because it's placed in the top 50 even though it's surrounded by five similarly ranked schools in its region.

That's right. You're exceptional, and I'll look forward to reading your exceptional anti-law school blog in three years.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Swindled Abroad

A foolish friend of mine is finishing up his 1L year at a true TTT - that is, a school that is ranked below the Top 100 fold in US News and World Report. He refuses to listen to reason. He refuses to accept that I and many of his other friends that went to "better" schools are now struggling to find employment - any employment.

What is even more disconcerting is that if I can somehow get a job and place of my own by the time he graduates, he'll probably end up sleeping on my couch. He'll also likely eventually bludgeon me to death with a tire iron after weeks of coming home from his job as a bagger at the Piggly Wiggly only to hear me obnoxiously repeat "I told you so!"

Ah, but my friend's lack of discernment regarding the law school scam extends not only to his willingness to spend himself into the red for a TTT diploma. He has also recently decided that it would be wise to spend his summer abroad - paying tuition to his school for the most overpriced vacation available.

If you've ever wondered if the avarice of the law school deans knows any bounds, the very existence of these summer study abroad programs should answer that question with a resounding "No!".

In college, study abroad programs make some sense. Sure, they are often just another stop on the average liberal arts major's trip to academic perdition or a brief and frivolous diversion for those with more serious majors. In fact, I heard about one program available at a number of colleges called a "Semester at Sea", which per my understanding, essentially consists of earning academic credit while on a cruise ship. Your tax dollars at work.

Nevertheless, from a student's perspective, why not spend a semester in Europe, Asia, or Australia? As long as you can swing the travel and other attendant expenses, you're paying the same tuition dollars for an interesting experience.

Moreover, college is more than professional training - even if one takes a practical major - it is designed to help individuals mature both personally and intellectually. Okay, I honestly don't really fully buy that line given that the only thing many college parasites learn is how to use a fake I.D. Nevertheless, college does give young adults the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of some academic subjects, learn what it's like to (sort of) live on their own, and possibly gain a deeper appreciation for world around them.

Studying abroad in college does nothing to frustrate the stated purpose of undergraduate education while only putting students in slightly less advantageous financial positions. Studying abroad in law school, on the other hand, is nothing more than just another element of the overall scam.

Law school's ostensible purpose is to serve as a professional school to give budding attorneys the education and training necessary to enter the field of law. Now, we all know that's a load of nonsense, but that's the story they tell us.

If this is the case, what possible purpose does an extra semester of law school - spent abroad - serve? Having the opportunity to get inebriated in another country isn't exactly worth the price of admission.

I assume the reason why most law students bother taking on the debt for such a program is because they're afraid that they'll be left with a gap in their resumes over a summer when paid (and even voluntary) legal work is scarce. This is a bad idea. Working at the 7-11 will earn you a paycheck; studying abroad over the summer will cost you money and do nothing for your career prospects.

"International Law" is the pipe dream of far too many matriculating law students. Like "Entertainment Law" and "Sports Law", there is very little demand for such a specialization and far fewer opportunities for entry level attorneys to break into these fields - particularly from TTT law schools. While "International Law" remains popular among guileless law students, even many CSO's will admit that this is a difficult field to break into.

The small contingent that does end up practicing in this field consists almost exclusively of people who were bound for BigLaw anyway. Only a small percentage of law students practice at the big firms to begin with (or have the credentials to do so), and only a sliver of that group will end up practicing anything resembling international law.

Anyone who thinks that studying abroad will help one secure a full time position in this field is just fooling oneself. No employer in this competitive field is going to overlook a "B" transcript from a non-elite school simply because an applicant happened to spend a couple of months "studying" in some foreign city.

Moreover, whatever GPA boost a student can earn by studying abroad isn't going to be of much help. Employers are concerned about a student's performance in the first year core courses that are subject to the mandatory curve not some frivolous seminar held at the Timbuktu School of Law. That "A" in "International Peace and Conflict Legal Studies" isn't going to impress anyone.

The only beneficiaries of the law school study abroad programs are the brass at the law schools and the universities to which they're attached.

If you're that desperate to visit a foreign country, why not apply to teach English abroad and get paid? How about finding a job (even a low level one) in another nation - it can't be that much harder than finding one here with unemployment hovering around 10%. Or better yet, just take a vacation without paying the law school crooks thousands more to take their worthless courses.

In fact, just drop out of law school and spend the summer exploring the world. Even if you have to put it on your credit card, it'll be less expensive and more rewarding that two extra years of law school.

If you do plan on completing law school, I would advise you to spend as much time as possible in the U.S.A. After all, if you decide to leave the country in order to flee from your student loan creditors, there's probably no coming back.

Monday, April 5, 2010

NALP Recognizes the Scam...Sort Of

James Leipold, a representative from the NALP wing of the law school cartel considers this blog (and others) to be the equivalent of talk radio. At least that's the charge he lobs at us in the most recent edition of the National Jurist.

Is Esq. Never the Rush Limbaugh of the anti-law school movement? I guess it could be true - As long as you take into account that I don't have a multimillion dollar contract, my own Lear Jet, any interest in discussing politics (unrelated to law school), a large waistline, or you know, a radio show.

Given the context of his remarks, I think it's safe to say that Leipold isn't an enthusiastic "dittohead" trying to flatter the anti-law school community. Instead, the strong implication is that we're conspiracy minded hotheads looking for a scapegoat on which to pin our woes.

The National Jurist piece itself is authored by the magazine's own head honcho, Jack Crittenden. Crittenden, you may recall, authored an editorial in a previous edition of the National Jurist in which he implied that it was selfish for law students to go to school with the intention of actually having decently paying careers as, well, lawyers. Instead, we were informed that the recession had a silver lining because it forced us money grubbing J.D.'s to turn our attention to the "bountiful" supply of public interest jobs.

Now, to be fair to Crittenden, the current piece is much more even-handed than his last. He not only focuses on the law blogs (particularly Third Tier Reality and Esq. Never), but he also turns to critics of the law school "investment" from within the walls of legal academia - namely Prof. William Henderson of Indiana University and Prof. Herwig Schlunk of Vanderbilt University.

Of course, for every point he's willing to address from the anti-law school perspective, he finds some way to dismiss or undermine it with some apology for the cartel. Nevertheless, I guess you can't expect much more from a magazine that has about as much in the way of content as it has in the way of advertisements for studying law abroad in things like aborigine law in the Australian Outback.

Crittendon does make an interesting and fair point that the number of law schools has hardly exploded over the past few decades. Nevertheless, given the changes that legal education has gone through (not everyone used to make it through to graduation) and the reduced demand for many traditional legal services, I'm not sure this proves anything. Furthermore, it does not necessarily follow that just because there were numerous law schools in the 80's there are not also too many law school today. (Certainly, the recent spat of new schools - particularly low ranked, for-profit schools - offer some reason for concern.)

Crittendon furthermore recognizes that the cost of attendance at most law schools has become absurdly high. Nevertheless, he hails the ABA for taking the problem seriously and trying to rectify the situation.

What is the ABA's bold plan to tackle the outrageous tuition charged by its schools? Is it to cap the cost of attendance? Lobby for an end to federal student loans for professional schools? Limit the compensation for faculty and administrators? Prevent universities from using law schools to subsidize their other operations?

No! Instead, they have included some milquetoast disclaimer in some guide to law school that nobody reads warning that salaries may be slightly lower than expected. That should take care of the problem.

Still, after cutting through the apologist spin for the industry found in this article, it does appear to admit (albeit through gritted teeth) that - going to law school is a bad investment, the law school marketing materials are replete with distortions, the COA is too high, and that, for the most part, the law schools/legal establishment don't really care.

One of the best examples of this are the aforementioned comments by the NALP's James Leipold.

From the article:

"It's so uninformed [criticism that 90% of students find full time jobs] that it's hard to get upset," said NALP's Leipold about the bloggers. "It's like talk radio."

Leipold points out that NALP collects a very large sampling of recent graduates - 93.1 percent reported their employment status for the class of 2008. Even if everyone who did not report - a statistically unlikely scenario - 84 percent of the class of 2008 still found employment.

Well, that's interesting. As the Wall Street Journal reported (as recently as 2007), schools were reporting salary data based upon only partially reported data:

Tulane University, for example, reports to U.S. News & World Report magazine, which publishes widely watched annual law-school rankings, that its law-school graduates entering the job market in 2005 had a median salary of $135,000. But that is based on a survey that only 24% of that year's graduates completed, and those who did so likely represent the cream of the class, a Tulane official concedes.


A glossy admissions brochure for Brooklyn Law School, considered second-tier, reports a median salary for recent graduates at law firms of well above $100,000. But that figure doesn't reflect all incomes of graduates at firms; fewer than half of graduates at firms responded to the survey, the school reported to U.S. News.

Furthermore, Mr. Leipold's colleague even admitted:

"We can't validate the figures; we have to rely on schools to report to us accurately," says Judy Collins, NALP's director of research.

Of course, the employment statistics are worthless regardless of whether they're based upon responses of 100% or 10% of graduating law students.

The definition of full time employment is pretty liberal. First of all, full time employment doesn't mean full time, legal employment. Everyone that can't find a job in the law but that lands positions elsewhere that don't require a law degree are still considered employed even if it's no thanks to their graduate education. This also includes taking positions in retail or at call centers.

Even the definition of "full time" is questionable. A large swath of graduating students only find employment in temporary document review, which may have full time hours, but only last for a few weeks to a few months at a time. Moreover, the law schools game the 9-month employment figures by offering "full time" but temporary stints for students who may be unemployed at 9-months out to work at the law schools. Even T-14 Georgetown stoops to this tactic.

There's more to be said about Leipold's dishonest assertion, but look at what even he admits in his next breath...

But Leipold does agree that some law schools can better [sic] with reporting salaries.

"The schools don't do a good job with real disclosure," he said. "There is no incentive for them. Some still report an average. There is 20 percent that earn at the top and then 80 percent earn far less than that. The average is not a useful number."

Well, that's pretty much the freakin' point, Leipold! What good does it do anyone if the law schools (allegedly) accurately collect the data if they then fraudulently report the data!?

The biggest complaint most of us have about the law school statistics is that they create the impression that while the the best students will be absolutely rolling in the dough, the average student will still earn a respectable salary in the law.

Instead of insulting us, perhaps you could help urge some reform in regard to these misleading figures. Of course, keeping the scam going is far more important to the NALP.

I've given Crittendon a hard time, so let's let him have the last word (from the National Jurist article). Remember, the guy who's conceding this relies on the law school cartel's glossy advertisements to pay for his supper. If he's willing to recognize this, maybe you pre-law's should take a second or third look before going to law school:

Starting salaries for entry-level attorneys used to fall into a single bell curve...Today there are two bells - one group that earns between $140,000 and $160,000 and one that earns between $35,000 and $60,000.

That results in a median of $72,000, which few law students earn.

The discrepancies between the two bells are significant, and have led many to point out that students who rely on a school's median or average, may be disappointed when they graduate and land a job far below that.
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