Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thoughts on the National Law Journal Article

As I briefly mentioned last night, the National Law Journal published a piece which prominently featured both this blog and the critically acclaimed A Law School Carol.

Overall, I am happy with how the story came out. Obviously, I would have loved for it to have been a call to arms to expose the deans and the law school cartel for the crooks and sham that they are, but this is an industry publication, and the author had to be even handed.

Karen Sloan, the author of the piece, spoke to me for about a half hour. She seemed sympathetic to the backlash against the law school industry, but reporters probably try to empathize with the person they're interviewing in order to encourage them to be more forthright during the discussion.

I'm pretty pleased with how Esq. Never was portrayed. I only received a few quotes in the story, but they came early on, and they pretty much got to the core of my objections to law school. It was also great to get some more exposure for "A Law School Carol". Whether you think it's lame, funny, or something in between, I think it's a concise warning about what a bad decision law school can be for many students.

I think the article really gave our side a good hearing. While Ms. Sloan was obliged to give the Deans and the ABA a chance to respond to our concerns, they mostly ended up coming off as buffoons who are detached from reality. In sharp contrast, she didn't just rely on the scam busting blogs (whatever you may think of us) to issue the dissenting opinion. She also turned to professors of law, who are actually taking up our cause and calling on the powers that be to be more responsible and honest in reporting employment and salary data.

While others may disagree, I think this was a good article that helped expose at least some of the problems with the law school cartel. Thank you, Ms. Sloan. Let's see more of this sort of reporting in the future.

While I'm pleased with the article, I'm not pleased with what some of the people in the article have to say.

Let's turn to the Cheers and Jeers:


William Henderson, Professor of Law, Indiana University Maurer School of Law – Bloomington

Prof. Henderson is a true hero, and if the law school industry ever decides to admit its deception, it will be in no small part due to his efforts. In this article, he pretty much tells it like it is: Law schools let everyone believe that they're on their way to great jobs with good salaries, but the reported median salaries are misleading.

In his own words: "We can no longer sweep bad information under the rug. We need to change the system."

Well said, sir.

Daniel Thies, Harvard Law School, 3L

Maybe it's the recession, but it looks like you don't have to be a TTT grad to recognize that the law schools are trying to pull a fast one with their criminal marketing techniques. I don't know what Thies' situation is - whether he's also looking at few employment opportunities, or if he's just someone who is able to recognize that while he may be among the fortunate elite, most people underneath him are getting hosed. If it's the former, be afraid prospective law school students; if it's the latter, maybe he can teach a thing or two to the law school apologists on JD Underground, etc.

Herwig Schlunk, Professor of Law, Van­der­bilt University Law School

Prof. Schlunk has authored a study that demonstrates that law school is a losing "investment". His statistical analysis takes into account both accounting costs and opportunity costs to determine that the total cost of attending law school is not justified by the expected earnings for a future graduate (regardless of the school he attends). Even more sobering, the numbers he used were based upon pre-recession data.

Sorry law school apologists, even if you think the anecdotal evidence weighing against attending law school is just the byproduct of whiners and losers, it looks like cold hard mathematics is also at odds with your sad assertions.


The American Bar Association

Why am I not surprised that our friends at the ABA help compose the villain wing of this article? If you thought that the testimony and statistical analysis of a couple of prominent law professors from tier 1 schools might encourage the ABA to take some responsibility for the malarkey being spewed forth by the law schools and NALP as reliable employment data, you'd be wrong.

No, you see this isn't the ABA's job. I guess when you're too busy accrediting every law school that somebody operates out of the back of his van, you don't have time to worry about the financial Armageddon that's awaiting the next pool of "lawyers". I guess helping ship the remaining document review jobs to Albania or advocating for every political, moon-bat crusade is more of your thing, right guys?

Let me get this straight, the ABA's flunkies in the individual state bars somehow can coerce us to give everything but a blood sample to take the state exams and want us to remember the exact addresses for the people by whom we got paid to shovel snow in 11th grade, but somehow they can't gather current employment data to report back to "central command"?

If that's truly too much work for our ABA friends, how about just requiring the schools they accredit to remit the raw data they collect back to them, so they can verify just how many students report information and to what degree the schools engage in any "artful" marketing practices. How about setting guidelines for the honest reporting of employment and salary data and forcing the deans to sign off that they adhered to these parameters under the penalty of perjury?

No, no, the honor system is just fine. I mean people never lie about data and financial figures when it's in their own self interest. Maybe when you boys are done defending various Jihadist terrorists, you can help Bernie Madoff and Michael Milken out. They could sure use your support.

Dean JoAnne Epps, Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law

Pay no attention to those bitter bloggers, cries Dean Epps. She claims it would be too difficult for an independent authority to track down the data about post law school employment. Like I said, I doubt this is true, but how about turning over the data you ALREADY HAVE, Dean? I think what she meant to say is that it would be difficult for law schools to explain the gross deception in which they've been engaging for decades (if not longer).

Dean Epps also throws out the canard that the recession is to blame for our lousy career prospects. I'm sorry, I guess your graduates who were toiling away in Philadelphia document review projects during the boom period were there because it was their dream all along. (Not to mention students from other schools in other cities doing the same thing.) I'm sure during the credit bubble, non-legal employers were just fighting with each to hire J.D.'s and never saw it as a mark of being "overqualified" or directionless.

Check out the (now defunct) State of Beasley blog for a honest appraisal of Philly's illustrious public law school. (Temple Law: The Charm of North Philadelphia with the Document Review Options of a NYC School - Enroll now and get a free bullet proof vest!)

Dean Emily Spieler, Northeastern University School of Law

Apparently Dean Spieler, the dean of a famously liberal law school, isn't a big fan of free speech when it adversely affects her institution.

To wit: "The Internet is an egalitarian and a flat form of communication," [Dean Spieler] said. "That has its values and its negatives. It concerns me because I think it gives a lot of voice to deeply unhappy people."

Oh, sorry, Dean are the ABA, NALP, and individual law school propaganda machines not enough for your arsenal of misinformation? How about we give you the whole internet, too?

Unfortunately, it doesn't concern the Dean that there are deeply unhappy people. After all, that would mean accepting some culpability for this mess.

Sorry, Dean, you have plenty of avenues to spread your claims about reasonable salaries and fulfilling work being available at the end of the law school rainbow, and I have my humble blog to let the world know that instead of the pot of gold you promise, there's just a metaphorical Nelson Munce with his trademark "HA HA" taunt waiting for us.

I'll tell you what, when the law schools start producing honest marketing materials, I'll close down this blog. Deal?

She also offers this howler: "Additionally, those sites tend to focus squarely on the availability of large law firm jobs and don't address the broad array of public interest and nonlegal jobs open to law school graduates, she said."

Oh, you mean like washing cars at the Soap and Suds or driving four hours a day to volunteer for the state AG? Actually, this entire site is dedicated to the "nonlegal jobs open to law school graduates". Sadly, Dean, aside from covering up that you actually went to law school, there aren't any nonlegal jobs (this side of wearing a paper hat at a drive thru window) for law school graduates. I think I'm too ill (from reading this tripe) to even address the nonsense about the "ease" of finding a public interest job.

So there you have it, folks, further proof of the (slightly edited adage): How do you know a law school dean (or ABA representative) is lying? His or her lips are moving.


  1. At the very least, law schools should be required to disclose the “research” behind their employment statistics. Do they send letters requesting employment information to everyone? Do they also provide follow-up phone calls to the entire class or just those they know are in the top ten-percent. If they are really hounding the students at the top of the class they are more likely to get their information. One of the easiest ways to skew the result is to take an inaccurate sample.

    I would certainly donate money every year to have a non-profit organization pick 5-10 schools and audit their statistics. If the ABA had any interest in its future or its younger members it would require agreement to the audit as part of the accreditation process. I understand that going through every school every year might be a bit expensive, but some regulation is clearly needed.

    Also, the Temple dean should note that just because we are bitter does not mean that our information is inaccurate. When a smoker with lung cancer tells you not to smoke, the advice is still good even if it comes from a hypocrite. I warn potential law students and tell my story not so I can go around being bitter, but in the hope that they escape my situation.

  2. Wow.. I love your smoking analogy. I warn people for the same reason. I have no hope for our industry because it has been flooded since 2000 and will be for the next several years at least. So, I think it's done for us. But I do fear for young people who are pulling out much more loans than I did who will have even less of a chance of paying it off. I got off easy... with 67K at this point in student loans... but I still find it hard to pay and I resent every penny I give back.

    Kudos to Esq. Never and thanks for the link to my NJ DOL story.

  3. I am heavily indebted to the education industrial complex. Thank you, law school!

  4. AWESOME, ESQ NEVER... Wall Street Journal... and then what?

  5. Instead of trying to audit employment data for accuracy/veracity, how about we ban law schools from providing any employment data to the media or prospective students? That way law schools will no longer have an incentive to game, massage, or fudge their numbers.


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