Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Law School and Drugs: Everybody is Doing It

Esq. Never is back after the Christmas weekend. I hope everyone had a great time with their friends and families. Most of all, I hope that any 1L's who read this blog made the decision to cut their losses and drop out - it's the best Christmas present you can give yourself.

I would wish the law deans a merry Christmas, but everyday is Christmas for those guys. Besides, those grinches were probably too busy with their annual raids on Whoville to bother celebrating - and I can guarantee you their hearts didn't grow three sizes that day (their bank accounts, maybe).

An odd criticism this blog receives is that it's just a virtual plea for sympathy. For some reason some folks believe that I'm hosting a cyber pity party for my tale of woe and sorrow.

I recognize this may just be an extension of everyone's favorite aspersion: "You're a whiner". I also acknowledge that I've invested more time in criticizing law schools than I originally intended. The main focus of this blog is supposed to be exploring job opportunities in fields outside of law for those who hold a JD.

Nevertheless, most of my overt "moping" is usually intended to be (perhaps poorly executed) self deprecating humor. My condemnation of the law school industry is not intended to be an extension of my own dissatisfaction with my current station in life. Instead, the points I make are applicable to a broad group of law school graduates.

If I was a lone loser who erred in going to law school and everyone else was doing fine, very well. Given the attention this blog has received and the fact that this message has been repeated across the internet, I don't think that's the case.

Even if I was seeking sympathy, what good would it do? It won't erase the debt or reverse my experience of the last three years. At best, there's the remote possibility that somebody would take pity on me (or even be impressed enough with this blog) and offer me a job. Of course, because I wish to retain my anonymity, I probably wouldn't even accept such an offer.

Contrary to popular opinion, I concede I made a mistake. Like George Bush would likely contend, I feel I made a mistake with the best possible information I had at the time. (More on the availability of information in a later post.) Nevertheless, I agree I do need to take some responsibility for my bad decision.

This, however, is largely irrelevant to the despicable way in which the law school industry conducts itself. One's objection to the law school industry is not dependent on his sympathy for the plight of the various lemmings who were convinced to dance to it's pied piper tune.

If you think that charging obscene prices that force students to endure a lifetime of crippling debt in return for meager job opportunities and only the most minimal practical training is A-okay, that's your business (probably literally). I, however, believe that most reasonable people would recognize this to be an absurd and corrupt business practice.

One commenter once compared the relationship between the law schools and their victims to tobacco companies and smokers. Personally, I think a better analogy would be between drug pushers and drugs users - and not just because it makes the law schools look even more wicked.

You see, I have zero sympathy for people who use recreational narcotics. (Well, there goes half my audience.) It's stupid, it's disgusting, and it's illegal. Furthermore, there no lack of information telling you that that most of these drugs won't just lead to serious serious psychological and health problems, they can very easily kill you. Even if you can evade the Grim Reaper, you probably won't also avoid the slammer.

Everyone pretty much knows that drugs are dangerous and illegal. If somebody faces the consequences of his stupid behavior, I'm not going to be particularly moved. Sure, I believe in second chances, but for the most part, drug users brought their situations on themselves.

Despite my lack of sympathy for most druggies, I don't believe their foolish choices excuse the actions of their enablers, the drug dealers. The dealers are wretched criminals who profit off of human misery. They full well know the ill their "products" have wrought upon society. They, however, do not care - as long as their ill gotten profits continue to flow.

Personally, I think these pieces of human debris also get what they deserve. May they rot in jail for the rest of their miserable lives. (I wonder why I didn't get a call back for that public defender position?)

The same is true for law schools. The deans, et al. know perfectly well that their graduates end up heavily indebted, working document review jobs, etc. They simply don't care. They have no compunction about destroying the lives of others as long as they can profit.

It doesn't really matter how naive, arrogant, or stupid admitted students may be. Knowingly destroying somebody's life for one's own personal pecuniary gain is simply untenable.

As you can guess, I honestly believe that the law school deans and their confederates are simply bad people.

If, per chance, I am wrong, then perhaps this blog (and others) will encourage the law schools to take an introspective look at their conduct. Perhaps, they will voluntarily agree to cease printing their exaggerated employment figures. Maybe they will make law school more practical and truly train people to be attorneys. Perhaps they'll warn students about the limited career prospects for those who don't make the cut at OCI. Who knows? Maybe tap dancing pigs will perform at the the ABA's ceremony announcing the closure of all non tier 1 schools.

Of course, I doubt I'm wrong about the law schools' motivations. If that's the case, then I hope that I (in a small way) can help put pressure on the ABA to independently audit the law schools' bogus statistics. I hope this and similar blogs can encourage legislation to force law schools to adhere to the same standards for reporting statistics as financial firms are currently required. I want to provide further impetus for mainstream journalists to make it clear that law school is, at best, a very risk investment. If nothing else, I hope that any 0L who stumbles across this blog won't just think twice but three or four times before enrolling in law school.

Just as I'm perfectly happy to see drugs dealers exposed and hauled off to jail to pay for the destruction they've caused, I think it's equally appropriate to see the law school scam exposed - both to shame the industry and to warn the next batch of victims of the destruction that awaits them - regardless of how foolish the victims may be.

Oh, and no, I wouldn't mind a few law school deans being dragged off in shackles to Club Fed to face the same fates as Michael Milken, Bernie Madoff, and Ken Lay for their fraud and deception.


  1. Hi there--glad you're back.

    I didn't really catch the difference between the tobacco companies/smokers and the drug-dealers/users except for the fact that the "drugs" are illegal.

    Since charging what the market will bear for law school tuition (even if it is not worth it) is legal, isn't it still more like the tobacco companies even if we assume that the "smokers" in this case weren't as aware that what they were getting into was hazardous to their (financial) health?

    Anyway, if your blog (and the others out there) does make some prospective 1Ls think more thorougly about their decision and causes them to do some more in-depth research to verify the likely job scenario they'll face, then it is all worth it.

    However, don't forget that many people (myself included) will do that extra research and still decide to go. It really isn't a terrible decision for everyone, although I agree that at least a fair portion of the ~50,000 entering should probably choose another path (then if only there weren't 10 more people willing to take each of their places...).

    FWIW, Happy New Year,


  2. There isn't a corporation in the world that doesn't profit off of human misery. The only difference between a drug dealer and 99% of American office workers is that the drug dealer has the courage to look the people he is ruthlessly exploting in the eye and tell them thanks.

    Unless all of your clothes are made by English taliors and you drink fair trade coffee every morning, you're a myopic hypocrite of the highest order.

  3. You're right. Perhaps I should have said for this particular post, selling drugs is the better analogy. It's not so much because the law schools are more like drug dealers than tobacco company executives. Rather, it's because I don't have any sympathy for drug users, and I have some for smokers.

    My main point is that even if you think I'm a loser, whiner, etc., that doesn't absolve the law schools of their conduct.

    IMO, we are more like smokers. We made a dumb decision, but there were plenty of legitimate sources in society telling us that it's not such a bad move.

    In the opinion of many of the law school apologists, we're more like drugs users - entirely unsympathetic characters who should have known better.

    Regardless of your view, both tobacco company executives and drugs dealers are odious creatures, so it doesn't what analogy we use for the law school deans.

  4. 6:01 - Congratulations, you win "The Most Creative Esq. Never 'Dis' of the Year".

    Am I a whiner? Nope. How about a nerdy, loser who couldn't network his way out of a paper bag? Not according to this comment.

    No, I'm getting socked for NOT being a communist. Looks like the Northeastern Law staff is checking in once again...I kid, I kid.

    Don't worry comrade, maybe if I can't get a job soon, I'll join you in ushering in the Workers' Revolution!

    (Look for capitalistnever.blogspot.com in 2010)

  5. mmmmm PAXIL :D :D :D

  6. If that's what allows you to avoid/ignore reality, good for you. I just hope you have a prescription for that, kid.

  7. I think a lot of the problems you're discussing here, distressing as they are, have an element of buyer-failing-to-beware...and p.s. this isn't exclusive to law. It happens in almost every career. I mean, my little sister spent two years and $40,000 - well,actually, it was my parents' money - getting a fashion retailing degree. Within six months' of graduating she decided that - wait for it - she hated working retail. Wouldn't that have been something a summer working at the Gap - or heck,a Christmas break? -have revealed?
    Most of us live with our significant others before we marry them, test drive cars before we buy them...but I know very few students of any kind who take a 'vocation vacation' or interview people in the career they're thinking of before they take the plunge and plop down their tuition.
    I didn't; I went to law school to avoid working as an accountant (my undergrad major, ugh) and in fact to avoid working for three more years. The reaction I get when I talk to students around the country suggests many of them had a similar motivation. So when I wound up with a summer gig that couldn't have been worse for me, whose fault was that? I think to a large extent it was MY fault.
    Here's an idea. Before you drop the median American family income on law school tuition for a year, why not take a chunk of names at random from the prior year's graduating class (or prior two years'), contact them, and see what they say about the value of the degree you're contemplating? Don't rely on your school to give you the names; they'll of course only give you cheerleaders, and you want an honest assessment.
    Keeping in mind that they'll be more honest by phone than email, in person than by phone, and over a beer than anywhere else ;), you'll find at least one or two people with whom you click. See what they say. And BTW, congratulations - you've found your first mentor.
    Anyway. It's an idea. There's no information that law school deans have that you can't find. It's your life. You owe it to yourself to live it with your eyes open.

  8. Kimm thanks for posting a thoughtful but critical comment.

    I actually plan to have an upcoming post about researching jobs options before enrolling in law school.

    Truthfully, though, I think I did a decent amount of research before enrolling (though clearly not enough). This did include talking to a number of attorneys.

    Also, once again, even if law school applicants are complete morons, it may make them less sympathetic, but it doesn't make the law deans, etc. saints.

    I still don't see the virtue in allowing the law schools to go unchallenged over clearly unrealistic statistics. Furthermore, if they aren't even equipping us with the basic skills necessary to make us attractive to the smaller firms the OCI washouts need to "resort" to, what on earth are they charging $100k +/- for?

  9. I sit here. I am obviously unemployed after passing the bar in November, and so I have had free time to stumble across blogs such as this.

    I really don't know if statistics would have told me anything or influenced my decision. People go into law school with the lottery mentality for one thing, and when I was starting to kick around the idea of going to law school, the economy was bad (this was 2005, and although I know people say that times were "good," I was already working in a job that had a good finger on the pulse of the job market and knew that things were sucking even then even though nobody really talked about it and only spoke of flipping your house to supplement your income of flipping burgers). However, I never assumed the economy would be like this.

    The ironic thing is that law school gave me the tools to figure out where I went wrong. I can sit here and pick it out, dollar per dollar, in ways that most people don't understand. I don't even know, at this point, how supposedly "good" decisions led to my unemployment.

    I got a job where I did a whole bunch of legal writing and I thought my skills would be a complete asset. After all, legal writing is the key to everything and winning for your clients. Well....it turns out that employers want writers from BETTER SCHOOLS. After all, if you're drafting a motion for summary judgment on your million dollar case, you don't want to hand it off to the guy who probably can't even cut and paste the correct section from Legalines to do the job. People from my school are supposed to be practicing ProDoc law and meeting three clients at the courthouse that day and examining them with hard-hitting questions like, "now, don't you bake cookies for little Johnny that have smilie faces on them before you hug him and send him off to school?" in the umpteenth child custody dispute case. The world at large doesn't know what to do with a 4th tier graduate with research and writing skills because its like having a talking ape. I mean, what do you do with someone who doesn't have the educational background to be able to demand and receive a job at any appellate court?


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