Thursday, January 7, 2010

Admissions Video Propoganda (Richmond Law)

Update: If you look at the comments section, you'll see there are a number of Richmond graduates who have weighed in. Whether all of these comments are the genuine opinions of Richmond alumni is questionable. Nevertheless, I remain incredulous that I just so happened to pick on the one TTT that's playing an honest game. In fact, after re-watching the video I'm pretty sure I'm not.

If there are honestly some happy Richmond grads, fair enough. I'm sure Brooklyn, Seton Hall, and Loyola (LA) also have their defenders. The fact of the matter is that the implication that the school's proximity to national firms and large corporations will lead to solid employment opportunities (except for the top of the class) is misleading. Emphasizing the city life (particularly of a dump like Richmond), the on campus activities, and the scholarship credentials of the professors are absolutely irrelevant.

Every school claims to have "practical training". Everyone touts how wonderful their career service office is, yet outside of the elite schools, I've never heard a kind word about a CSO. (In fact, the only reason why the CSO's at the elite schools were effective is because they could just hand their student job opportunities. Now that the economy is in the tank, even their scams have been uncovered.) Studying abroad in law school is simply absurd.

All of these "soft factors" seem to be present at every other school, yet they haven't kept non-Richmond students out of the doc review or PI salt mines or the unemployment line. Trust the comments if you'd like, but don't say you weren't warned.

Okay, class, today we're going to begin our lesson with a video. To get the most out of this post, turn off the lights, turn up the sound, and click play on the above Youtube video. When you're done, please continue reading the next paragraph.

If you watched the clip, you know that it's an admissions video for the University of Richmond School of Law. Now, I don't know anything about UR Law. I'm not picking on them because I think it's a particularly fraudulent school - honestly, I haven't heard much about it good or bad. It's probably not the Seton Hall of the South, but let's face it, I think it's fair to be skeptical of a school that's ranked #77 according to US News and makes some pretty bold assertions in its promotional videos.

I actually just typed in "law school" in the Youtube search engine to see if A Law School Carol is among the first results - fortunately it is on the first page, which means some 0L's looking for information about law school will stumble upon it. Unfortunately, for UR Law, their video also popped up, and I decided to take a look.

It has been a while since I've viewed an admissions video. Now, however, instead of viewing it through the lens of an eager 0L looking towards a new career, I'm looking at it through the eyes of a man who has been shot out of the back of the law school garbage chute.

The law school apologists rebuke us for not doing more research before we enrolled in law school. I'm not exactly sure where an 0L is supposed to get a realistic view of the post-law school employment outlook- aside from these blogs, which the law school defenders do so loathe - but it definitely isn't found in these marketing materials.

Let's take a look at what this lower ranked, tier 2 school promises by analyzing the above video clip.

Part 1: The University of Richmond Experience

In the first minute of the video, a number of different UR personalities appear on screen promising an environment that is supportive, welcoming, and with unparalleled scholarship. Now, there's nothing wrong per se with making these assertions, but it's amazing how the much law schools try to emphasize factors like these in their promotional materials.

It's very nice that professors and staff are supportive of the students - though I'd wait to see it to believe it - but things like this really have little impact on the primary purpose of a professional school: getting a job. Nobody is going to hire you because your professor patted you on your head or even published some esoteric article in the New Mexico Journal of Environmental Law and Spelunking.

Part 2: Career Options

This is where the video starts to become absurd if not downright offensive. After an unnecessary video montage, a narrator begins to talk about how Forbes magazine has ranked Virginia as the number one state for business - whatever that means. (I'm a little skeptical of "official" magazine ratings these days.)

First of all, it's Virginia not Richmond that has received Forbes' accolades, and I'm pretty sure a lot of that business success is due to the high tech rich area of NORTHERN Virginia (i.e. an area not exactly next door to Richmond). Second of all, why does this even matter? This is a law school, not a business school.

The school apparently wants us to make the logical leap that if Virginia is doing well economically and Richmond is the capital of Virginia, ergo Richmond is thriving economically. If you don't want to argue with that iron clad logic, let's hear them out as to the rest of their justifications: The narrator claims that Richmond is home to a number of international and national law firms, large corporations, and various other potential employers.

Right, of course, to have any shot at these heralded law firms, a graduate from a 2TT like Richmond is probably going to need to be at least in the top 15%. What about everyone else? How about those great corporations? Sorry, having a law degree makes you either unqualified or overqualified for any of their employment opportunities as well.

Maybe the video should have mentioned if those mega-firms had any need for temporary document reviewers. It could have at least given us a tour of the local PI firms and debt collection agencies. I think that would be a lot more helpful in deciding if URichmond Law is the place to go.

Part 3: Richmond: Cultural Hub of the World?

So, of all the things one could think to talk about regarding law school, the third thing on their list is apparently to extol the thriving culture of the city of Richmond. Uh, we are talking about Richmond, Virginia, right?

I don't know what cultural attractions they're talking about. I'll take their word about the robust night life because from what I've seen, I don't think I would want to even be in Richmond after dark. I remember in college some friends were trying to find a hotel to spend the night in Richmond. They pulled into one motel parking lot to ask about spending the night and some guy came after them with a baseball bat! That must have been the welcoming committee.

I'll spare you the rest of my anti-Richmond anecdotes, but once again, what on earth does this have to do with law school? Even if Richmond is "the place to be", I don't see what it having some restaurants and shops has anything to do with securing employment after graduation (ignoring the obvious joke).

Part 4: It's Like Going to College Again

So, the fourth thing they can say about their school is that you can essentially relive your college experience with a close knit community and all of the amenities of the undergrad campus. Uh, you do know that you can join a gym, buy a museum pass, and find way to make new friends for a tad less than the price of mortgaging your entire future, right?

Part 5: It's Pretty Much Like Any Other Law School

Richmond has some court houses. The school or at least its satellite campus is near those courthouses. Right, so was my school and most other schools I visited. Not exactly impressive.

I also thought that the comment that U Richmond is the only law school in the city was pretty weak. Yeah, I'm sure that will give one a leg up over students from William and Mary, Washington and Lee, and UVA when it comes time for hiring. Funny how they emphasize being in VA when it suits them and specifically being in Richmond when that claim makes them look better.

Part 6: All Roads Lead to Document Review

The next section gives an overview of all the academic paths a student can take like picking up an additional degree (two worthless diplomas are better than one) or work for some institute for developing unmarketable skills.

I found the "Institute for Actual Innocence" to be a particularly funny title. As opposed to all those other defendants, their clients are actually innocent.

Judge: Do you have a plea?

Intern: Your honor, my client actually is innocent.

Judge: Well, why didn't you say so? Case dismissed.

Part 7: The Keys to Admission

There's some more malarkey about U Richmond having a collegial environment, but then we get a real treat, the Assistant Dean of Admissions tells us how to get into into this illustrious institution of higher learning.

She tells that she that she wants to admit applicants who bring something special to the table (something that distinguishes them). I was about to retort - like an LSAT score that won't further erode their US News ranking - but then she goes on to claim that it's not just about the numbers.

Here, however, is the best part of video with the best unintentional humor I've seen in a while. As soon as she finishes saying "'s what you have besides the numbers that excites us", the camera immediately shifts to a shot of a black woman. Hilarious. Translation: It's about the numbers unless you happen to be able to help us out with meeting our diversity quota.

Part 8: Unemployment Services

There's actually another unintentional admission in this segment. The narrator says that the school is there to help students from the first day until they are admitted to the bar. The next interviewee is the representative from career services. Translation: Once you're out the door, good luck actually finding a job.

There's some more junk about one on one career services counseling - I'll save my own experiences for a later post. They also carry on some more about the professors and clinics.

There is, however, a choice quote that I find amusing:

One student claims that you'll learn what you're going to be doing after graduation while still in school. Really? They have course work on document review, collecting unemployment, and working at the local mall? Maybe they're right, they do offer practical experience.

Part 9: Goof-Off Abroad

Do I really need to say anything? How on earth does studying abroad assist you in gleaning legal skills. Everybody knows this is this just an expensive vacation designed to boost a sagging GPA. "Ordinarily, we wouldn't hire somebody with you class rank, but wait, what's this, you studied abroad in Guatemala this summer? Welcome aboard!"

Part 10: Conclusion: Come to Richmond Law; We're Not Like the Others

One professor claims that Richmond is dedicated to providing practical experience to students, but she really only mentions court room experience. My school's idea of practical experience was essentially to throw us all into a bunch of trial practice classes. Of course, most attorneys don't actually spend a lot of time conducting full blown trials, so this experience isn't really all that practical.

There's also a federal judge who claims that every student who has worked for him has performed at the A+ level. Of course, that's probably because, as a federal judge, he literally only works with A+ students. Tough luck for everyone else.

Finally, the assistant dean of admissions claims the Richmond law school experience is all about outcomes and they want to help their students get whatever results they want. Well, what I think most of their graduates want (or will eventually want) is not be saddled with six figures worth of debt and to have some viable employment prospects. Sadly, unless Richmond tells them to find something else to pursue, I don't think their graduates' wishes will come true.

Now, I've given Richmond Law a hard time in this post. I think if you produce indefensible marketing materials which will persuade students to hand over their futures in return for a meaningless degree (regardless of whether they "should have done more research"), you deserve such ridicule.

Nonetheless, Richmond is hardly alone in producing such nonsense. I'm sure even the bottom of the barrel TTTT's have similar videos promising their applicants the moon. Of course, at the end of the day, when the debt has piled up and the young maiden of law school admissions, whispering sweet nothings into your ears has morphed into the shriveled hag of law school graduation, yelling obscenities at you as she pushes you out the door, the results will be the same across the board: The law school administrators will shrug and say you should have done more research beforehand as they hand you a quarter and tell you to call somebody who cares.

University of Richmond Law STUDENTS (past or present), have I been unfair to your school? Is the city of Richmond some sort of legal Xanadu that we should all pile into the car and head to a la the Joad family in the Grapes of Wrath? Is Richmond really one of the few schools that actually provides you with practical training that is truly marketable at graduation? Or, as I suspect, is it just another TTT ripoff factory? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.


  1. Esq. Never, you covered a lot of ground in this epic post. First off, you are correct in stating that the PRIMARY purpose of attending a professional school is to get a job. Bottom line. No sane person goes to law school for the intellectual pursuit. Industry apologists pretend otherwise.

    In my senior year of college, I took an "advanced" political science course. That class maybe had 15 students, and about 6 of them were going to law school by August 2006. Several others (mostly juniors) were applying and registering for the LSAT.

    One nemesis got into U. of Richmond's law school. (I enjoyed our give-and-take in class.) He took the October 2005 LSAT and scored a 150. He then took it again in Spring, and got a 156. He was proud to be going to this school. One classmate got into Gonzaga. We were all pretty proud of our "accomplishment" at the time.

    I wonder how those guys are faring now. And how proud they are today. Because, I don't think schools like Richmond, Gonzaga or Seton Hall are really any better than Drake (this probably sounds funny coming from me). And most of their grads are struggling just as much as those from Drake.

    Thanks for this entry, and for keeping up the fight, EN!

  2. Drake, hell. I went to W&L (The "Only Law School in Lexington, Virginia" btw. Lulz.) I will say this - Richmond reminds me of Buffalo without the blizzards - a depressing, industrial town with pretensions of something bigger.

    Maybe in another 40-50 years, the DC suburbs will stretch down south enough to make Richmond the next "link" in the megalopolis that currently extends from New Hampshire to NoVA down the I-95 corridor. But for now it's a mid-sized city of middling relevance, whose greatest claim to fame is having been the capital of the CSA.

    That reminds me, I still need to apply for that "Civil War Re-enactor" gig. I hear it pays better than Doc Review.

  3. There are really only two groups that law schools fall into. You have Yale, Harvard, and Stanford. Then you have all the other schools.

  4. @Nando: "No sane person goes to law school for the intellectual pursuit."


    Few, perhaps, but again you fall into overstating/overspinning your negative view.

    Case in point: Me.

    I don't propose that anyone go into debt to get their JD in the current environment, but Nando, you contradict your own "criteria" for going to law school on your blog when you say things like you did here.


  5. Hey, Doug. Are you referring to my fourth prong, i.e. you are fully aware beforehand that your huge investment in time, energy, and money does not, in any way, guarantee a job as an attorney or in the legal industry?

    Because that exception is for idiots who realize that law school is a tremendous gamble (i.e. no scholarship, no connections, and did not get into a top school) and STILL decide to go. Some advice for you, kid: (a) learn how to read; (b) retain the things you read; and (c) take the time to comprehend the things you read.

    Doug, are you trying to drum up readership for your little blog? What's wrong - are you down to three readers now? People don't like or appreciate bullcrap, and that is ALL that is on your blog, i.e. law school lies. That is why so few view your site.

    No sane person goes to school for the academic pursuit. They go to get a job, i.e. to become marketable. Maybe some kid whose daddy pays for everything might go to law school, for the academic exercise. But then again, such a person probably has a nice job lined up after law school.

    How much does your law school pay you to be this dense, Doug? After spewing such asinine garbage all day long, do you kiss your wife with that mouth?!

  6. Quick Note: That black professor at :44 is wearing an Octopus Hermes tie. Those run for a $185.00. Now you know where your tuition is going.

  7. Excellent observation, anon 10:17. I wouldn't know a Hermes tie if it hit me in the ass. I have, and probably always will, shop at Target. But seriously, the asshole should donate that tie to a charitable cause or one of his unemployed graduates.

    Nando-LMAO! That must be what he's doing. Leave controversial comments so that you get readers. I did the same thing, but on lemming sites. And I wasn't a bitch either. I just posed the contrary idea. Doug likes to be a dick. Maybe his way will work?

  8. "The law school apologists rebuke us for not doing more research before we enrolled in law school."

    Part of the problem is that this law school scam evolved only in the past 5 or 10 years. Before then, law school was a lot cheaper and private student loans were dischargeable in bankruptcy.

    So that five years ago, if you talked to someone who went to law school in the 1990s, you would naturally get a much more positive picture.

    In hindsight, it is clear that things changed, but at the time, it was not as obvious.

  9. A dick, a lemming, a kid, an idiot, a liar...


    Anyway, Nando, 3 of your 4 prongs (I don't have connections or a job lined up).


  10. I do think it is hilarious that if anyone says anything except that differs from you then it is "spewing garbage" and "law school lies!"

    I love it!


  11. I'm not sure where the disagreement is.

    For the vast majority of applicants, going to a non-T-14 law school is a bad idea. Even a T-14 law school carries certain risks.

    There are a few exceptions to these principles and Doug apparently falls with an exception.

    The law school trap is a lot more obvious in 2009 and 2010 than it was in 2003 and 2004 when the current crop of law grads first started applying to law school. Since then, private law school loans have become non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. Moreover, law school tuition has been increasing dramatically the whole time.

    Does anyone disagree with these statements?

  12. After watching this video, I decided to check some numbers about the U of Richmond.

    The school graduates about 160 students a year. Rounding down, in the last 5 years it follows that this school has graduated between 700 and 750 students.

    I then went to the Martindale's web site, and using their "advanced" search feature I searched for graduates of the University of Richmond who have been admitted less than five years. The search returned 252 results. Not just in Richmond, but nationwide. For those who are a little shaky with the math, that would be 1/3 of those who graduated during the five-year period. (750 x 1/3 = 250)

    Now, not all employed lawyers are listed in Martindale's by any means. Omitted categories might include judicial clerks, those who go in-house, those who go into teaching, those who stay in school to go for an LL.M. and perhaps most significantly, those who work for very small firms. Moreover, some Richmond grads might not pass the bar on their first try and that may delay their eligibility for legal employment.

    As a sanity check, I tried to run a comparable search using the Westlaw's Lawyer Directory, but it is not set up to search nationwide by law school and years of practice. I did discover using their WLD-VA database that in the state of Virginia, a total of 1473 Richmond graduates with profiles. If the average law career is 40 years, and if 2/3 of Richmond grads stay in the state of Virginia, and if the school has been about the same size since 1970, there should have been 4000 results (40 years x 150 grads per year x 2/3 stay in state).

    The Westlaw data base is probably far from complete, but this back of the envelope calculus leaves 2500 grads unaccounted for.

    Now according to, U of R law school reports 94.6% of its grads employed at 9 months after graduation (

    Someone needs to demand that the school explain the discrepancy in these numbers.

  13. That's some good sleuthing (4:46), but I assume that 94.6% employment rate (if based on actual data) includes plenty of people pursuing non-legal jobs (including low level retail positions) and temporary work.

  14. Anonymous at 4:46 p.m.

    Great work. Could you do a comparable search for some other law schools? I think your findings would be more robust if we could compare these figures with that of schools in other tiers. You could try the other VA schools for starters.

  15. Thanks :)
    Yea, I know ties. I actually have to sell off about 2k worth of ties. Lost my job

  16. This T14 talk is so 1980s. Wake up.

  17. Esq. Never:

    Get a life dude - are you this negative in real life or just on your blog?

    I went to UR Law. I had a great experience, and I have a good job. My wife and kids and I liked Richmond a lot when I was in law school so we decided to stay here. I have lived in some of the most beautiful places in the world and pound for pound I really like Richmond - a lot of people don't know what a nice city it is. And there is an inordinant amount of legal industry here - every level of court except SCOTUS, which not very many cities can claim.

    Yes, Richmond has bad areas like every other big city. Yes, I have a lot of law school debt. Even though I have a good job I worry about keeping it in this economy just like everyone else, including UVA, W & M, W & L, and probably Harvard grads. Everyone is laying people off. There was no way for any of us to predict this economy when making the decision to go to law school, and those making the decision to go to law school now will be exitign law school when the economy has recovered. The economy is making every industry suck.

    I recommend UR Law, and I don't think you should disparage something about which you know nothing. That would seem to apply both to UR and to the City of Richmond. By the way, I would never have wasted my time even reading this blog or posting a comment except a friend of mine happen to come across your UR Law-related vitriol and linked me to it.

    Focus your obviously considerable spare time and energy on finding a permanent job, keep your chin up in this ecomony, and this too will pass.

  18. Dear Esq. Never, WOW. That was bitter. Especially coming from someone who admits he doesn't know anything about T.C. Williams. Maybe if you HAD gone to law school there, you wouldn't be working on doc review or at the local mall and collecting unemployment.

  19. Guess the UR admissions committee found the blog :)

    Seriously, if Richmond is truly a city untouched by the saturation and lack of legal opportunities other cities face, fair enough. I guess all of us should just take the VA bar and would be in great shape.

    Nonetheless, I think it is still important to emphasize to 0L's that location (and yes, Richmond is a dump), study abroad, and the mere presence of certain businesses/firms is largely irrelevant, and the heavy emphasis law schools place on these factors can mislead students.

    I have a hard time believing that a lower ranked 2nd tier school isn't churning out doc reviewers, low level PI attorneys, and non-attorneys by the truckload like everyone else - especially with a number of much better ranked schools nearby.

    In any event, every school has similar PR videos, and most similar situated graduates are not doing well (except from the most elite schools). Did I accidentally attack the one TTT that's telling the truth? Maybe. But I highly doubt it.

  20. Esq. Never,

    I'm a UR Law graduate. Althouth I was
    accepted at three Tier 1 schools, I chose Richmond, in part, for the quality of life (small but active urban area, low cost of living, etc.). I was living and working in DC before law school and I wanted to continue to enjoy social and cultural offerings (and to cut down on living expenses) as a law student. My plan was to return to DC after graduating.

    However, after working as a summer associate at a firm in the DC area before my 3L year, I found that I hated the thought of leaving Richmond. I turned down that firm's offer -- a gut wrenching choice and one that I feared I would regret.

    I landed an associate position at a great firm in Richmond, however. I am doing exactly what I had planned to do in law school (litigating) and am well compensated, although my billable requirement is reasonable. I own a great historic house that I could never have afforded in DC and I have a five-minute commute to work. I enjoy living in a city where I regularly run into friends when I'm at court, out for dinner, buying groceries, etc.

    Richmond did provide me with practical training that was marketable at graduation. I was not at the top of my class (I was in the top third), nor was I on Law Review. Instead, I focused on the school's trial advocacy, negotiation, and other practical programs. Without a doubt, these experiences helped me to get the job I wanted.

    I grew up outside of NYC and have lived in come great places, including Boston (and, as mentioned, DC). No, the City of Richmond is hardly a "legal Xanadu." However, I've grown to love it enough to stay and start a family. And one of the primary reasons that I love it is that I have a stimulating and rewarding job that my experiences at Richmond Law helped me to land.

  21. I, too, went to UR and although I don't live there now, I am finishing a federal clerkship and hope to move back. It's not expensive and overcrowded like DC but offers a lot in quality of life, for many of the same reasons other posters mention above. Yes, UR is not as highly ranked as other Virginia law schools, mainly due to the very unique position Virginia finds itself in (with 3 old, top tier law schools). But as with many states that support multiple law schools, there is usually one that is known for graduates who wish to live and practice in that state -- in this case it's UR. Virginia, W&L, and W&M law grads can go anywhere and practice and most do. They know that going in. Me, I wanted to be a Virginia lawyer, and all things considered UR was the right choice.

    Believe me, I am as much against the marketing BS handed out by the ABA, NALP and the rest of their ilk as anyone and Lord knows there are too many law schools. I can say, however, that Richmond offered a great education and, of course, there's going to be some puffery in a law school admissions video. But the friends I made in law school are ones for a lifetime and the social and educational environment of UR and the city of Richmond is terrific.

  22. Somehow, I have a feeling that these comments are not truly representative of all UR grads.

  23. Esq. Never...

    I went to Richmond. I know all the people in that video.

    And I'll tell you one couldn't be more spot on

  24. Esq. Never,
    Just resurrecting this post from the dead. I'm a current UR student. I'm debating dropping off at the end of this semester (I have a 3.7, so it is not about bad grades) just that I think the legal profession is not for me.

    That being said, OCI is useless at UR. Most of the big firms will only interview the top 5% or 10%. But, there are excellent clinical opportunities to work while in school. I have done things that I would not have access to elsewhere. I considered transferring as I did well, but I've been placed at a clinic that I would not be able to have gotten elsewhere.

    One thing that I would watch out for with admissions to UR law is that admissions is notorious for telling you that you will receive extra scholarship money in the fall, only to then tell you, sorry it doesn't exist.

    Aside from the access to clinics, I am not at all impressed with the professors or quality of legal education.

    Finally, I've lived all over, and dirty Richmond is the place for me. I only wish that the law school had any of the city's bohemian charm. Insanely cheap rent and cost of living means that artists and musicians can do what they want and pay the bills with plenty of time to swim in the river. As such, Richmond really does have incredible indigenous culture. UR students are pretty much isolated from it however in a bubble of prepdom.

    Keep up the good work. It's been my personal mission to discourage anyone considering law school to think otherwise.


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