Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Straight out of Scarsdale

A law professor forwarded me links to a couple of law school-produced podcasts/youtube videos flogging the "versatility" of what one of them actually refers to as the "magical" JD degree.

The first is from Cal Western --  a school whose 2011 graduates had average law school loan balances of around $175,000 when their first payments came due in November of that year, and whose employment statistics are morbidly fascinating in a car crash sort of way: 104 of 285 graduates purportedly got legal jobs, broadly defined, not counting solos, while 76 were either completely unemployed or simply untraceable.

I got about halfway through the 27 minutes of it, but that's more than enough.  Steve Smith, the dean of the school, talks at length about the purported versatility of law degrees, citing "being a CEO" or a "politician" as potential alternative non-legal careers (he discusses Barack Obama's career as an example of what you can do with a law degree other than practice law, in what appears to be a completely sincere and non-ironic way, although who can tell any more in this crazy mixed up pomo world of ours?).

The really disturbing part of the thing involves an African American professor, who talks about growing up in south central Los Angeles, and overcoming adversity to become a lawyer.  Although I have no basis for judging the sincerity of his particular mental state, one of the most deplorable things law schools are now doing as institutions is to cynically exploit the hopes and dreams of people from marginalized ethnic groups and modest socio-economic backgrounds. (In some cases ignorance rather than cynicism may be the formal cause of this exploitative behavior, and while this is the more charitable interpretation, we're reaching a point where ignorance is no longer distinguishable from the sort of willful blindness that is in some ways morally worse than conscious exploitation).

As difficult as law has become as a career path in general, it's even more difficult and potentially catastrophic for people who don't have the sorts of family financial backing, cultural capital, and social connections that are proving ever-more crucial to success in a particularly hierarchical and status-obsessed profession.  (It should be unnecessary to add that many of these vulnerable people are white.  Nevertheless, I believe we law school faculty and administrators from ethnic minority backgrounds have a special obligation to do what we can to make sure our institutions are not exploiting vulnerable members of our communities, given that "ensuring access to justice" is such a politically convenient translation of "getting people to take out loans they won't be able to pay back.").

The other paen to the versatility of law degrees is this short Youtube video from Chicago-Kent, featuring Dean Harold Krent, who was last glimpsed at ITLSS arguing that getting a law degree was a good entree into the worlds of journalism, counseling, and investing. (Key words and phrases in the video: "network," "sports agent," "help other people," "intellectual firepower.")  It's a semi-slick production -- although the sound quality of the dean's contribution is sketchy -- and it would be interesting to know if this kind of thing is worth the money the school is spending on it.

Something that would be even more interesting to know is the extent to which arguments that a JD is or at least was "versatile" have any basis in reality, since as even Smith acknowledges there's simply no longitudinal data on this  issue.  This of course doesn't stop either him or Krent from arguing that it is, which tells you all you need to know about the extent to which intellectual integrity plays a role in these particular corners of legal academia.

111 comments:

  1. The "magical" JD degree. It's like alchemy in reverse, capable of turning gold into dross.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wrong. The credited response is "First." Please conform future posts to this time-honored tradition.

      Delete
    2. Dear Law Student,

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      Delete
    3. The links look real but Its almost too absurd. An evidence professor leads a group of students on a Greek cruise? Explain that to me.

      Delete
    4. What spam from a professor about overseas education?

      Delete
  2. A law degree from Harvard, Yale and Stanford is "versatile."

    A law degree from Cal Western, Chicago Kent or Cooley...eh, not so much.

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    1. Thies: Law school debt 'unsustainable' over long term

      Today's law school students, on average, face a debt load of about $100,000 for legal education, the president of the Illinois State Bar Association said ... He said the nation "may have too many law schools." But he dismissed any notion that there are too many lawyers or law students, saying there's "a tremendous need" for legal services.

      http://www.news-gazette.com/news/education/2013-02-20/thies-law-school-debt-unsustainable-over-long-term.html

      Delete
    2. "He said the nation "may have too many law schools." But he dismissed any notion that there are too many lawyers or law students, saying there's "a tremendous need" for legal services."

      Say wha?

      Delete
  3. A law degree from Cal Western, Chicago Kent or Cooley...eh, not so much.

    With a paper clip, a gas stove fuel canister, and a Cooley JD, MacGuyver could distract Eastern European guards long enough to untie his captive female companion.

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    1. "Johnny, what can you make outta this magically versatile degree?!"

      http://www.moviewavs.com/php/sounds/?id=bst&media=MP3S&type=Movies&movie=Airplane&quote=ap13.txt&file=ap13.mp3

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  4. The purported “versatility of the law degree” is the most persistent and destructive myth of all surrounding law school. Law school qualifies (NOT “prepares”) students to work as lawyers, nothing else. Investment banks, corporations, accounting firms and the New York Yankees do not recruit at law schools – unless they are looking to hire lawyers, to work as lawyers. Scumbag law school recruiters have always touted other jobs in other fields where lawyers are occasionally found as a way of attracting the highest number of applicants/marks. The fact is there are relatively few opportunities for jobs as MLB GM, TV news reporter, sports agent, entertainment agent, politician, book editor, and professional novelist – to name some common “alternative careers” for JDs cited by these swindlers. And a law degree, while perhaps useful, is NOT a requirement. In fact, the JD is usually a scarlet letter for those applying for positions outside the law. Rather than credit the JD as an accomplishment signifying persistence and analytical/writing skills, hiring parties are much more likely to see it as evidence of a lack of focus or worse.

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    1. Because there isn't enough legal education yet: "Silverstein has been instrumental in guiding the projected September 2013 launch of Yale Law School’s Ph.D. program, the country’s first doctoral program in law"

      From "Yale Law School Dean Gordon Silverstein to Discuss Law's Allure and Politics at Rutgers' Evangelides Lecture"

      http://news.rutgers.edu/medrel/media-advisories/2013/february-2013/yale-law-school-dean-20130220

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  5. I posted a description of these podcasts a few weeks ago in the comments section; I'm glad to see that Law Prof has picked them up and done a great write-up. Needless to say, the shameless boosterism demonstrated in the podcasts is both shameful and repugnant.

    In one of the more recent broadcasts the speakers were giving Helpful Pointers on Applying to Law School. When one of the speakers suggested, contrary to the Dean's suggestion, that it was probably too late to start studying for the February LSAT (so that you could apply to CWSL this year), the good Dean audibly shit a brick. Dean Smith, who has focused his prior scholarship on 'mental health law,' is apparently planning on single-handedly reversing decades of waning job and salary prospects for law grads by writing a treatise on 'The Economics of Law School.' Based on these podcasts I am expecting to see distortions of Cooleyesque proportions, with each paragraph concluding "Picture Yourself Here at Cal Western in Sunny San Diego, CA!!!"

    The smart thing for the Dean to do going forward would be to keep his head down and help the Replacement Dean figure out a way to cut tuition.

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  6. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/business/college-degree-required-by-increasing-number-of-companies.html?partner=yahoofinance

    What, no comment on this site about the fact that a BA = receptionist or mail room in Atlanta nowadays?

    Talking about the value of a JD makes no sense without considering the marginal value it provides over the rapidly depreciating BA.

    One of the fastest-growing regions of the country, and a BA = secretary or mail room. Probably pays less than sh!tl@w.

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    1. I'm not sure about that. I saw a mail room position recently that paid something like $25 or $28k a year w/ benefits.

      That would be a marked improvement over my current situation.

      Delete
    2. From the article... "Mr. Crider, the runner, was given additional work last month, helping with copying and billing claims. He said he was taking the opportunity to learn more about the legal industry, since he plans to apply to law school next year." This guy has a B.A. and works as a messenger for a law firm. Someone needs to explain to him that, just as his B.A. from Georgia State didn't automatically lead to a job commensurate with his education, a J.D. won't automatically lead to a job practicing law. Most likely, it will make him less marketable than he is today (since the law firm will likely consider him "overqualified" to continue on as a runner).

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    3. Not to mention, earning a B.A. probably won't enslave you to a six figure non-dischargable student loan debt for the rest of your working life (with a big ass tax bill at the end when the outstanding balance is "forgiven.")

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    4. Does anyone think this is sustainable long term? Huge numbers of people are going to college, not learning all that much and not getting jobs at the end which would justify 4 years and $50k+ in debt. Its not just the law school industry headed for some kind of crash, the whole college industry is too.

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  7. It's the lack of data to support the claim that will make this claim more prevalent in the future. All the other lies can easily be shot down with hard numbers. So the lying liars (law school deans) will increasingly be lying with this lie about the versatility.

    ReplyDelete
  8. American University Law sales pitch for something called an LLM in "Law and Government" which may actually be worth less then a JD from American.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIheHMZzCnc

    So Law Prof I think you need to revise all your previous posting on American University because the JD students aren't the most scammed people at the institution.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Another big message that the school has been pushing lately is that IBR is the magic-bullet solution to graduate student loan debt issues. I recall that one of the professors discussed that topic in the second half of the podcast. I actually thought that was probably one of the worst parts. Probably best that you skipped it.

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  10. My T6 law degree has proven not to be versatile.

    My practice area has very few opportunities for very many lawyers being pushed out of BigLaw. Most open jobs, whether in house or in law firms, are capped out at 8 years experience and will not even consider someone more experienced.

    I also cannot even get an in person interview for a non-legal job after months of trying in the area which I would be fully qualified to work. Problem is that experienced jobs that are hired from outside the organization want the same experience as the job they are filling. That means business experience in the same type of job, not legal experience.

    There is no exit from the glut of lawyers. Not enough jobs for experienced lawyers coming out of BigLaw in my practice area by a long shot. No ability to move to a more in demand practice area, as I am competing with the glut of first years. Business jobs do not want me because I do not have the business experience.

    There is no exit from long term unemployment with my T6 law degree. The problem is the glut of lawyers. The younger lawyers are pushing the older ones out of jobs in an up or out law firm system and an in house system that hires very limited numbers of lawyers and more limited numbers still of those with 8 or more years of experience.

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    1. In fact, it is not just me that is unemployed. Through Linked In it is apparent that other former BigLaw associates, partners and counsel are in the same boat, most with lesser academic records than myself. I recently found out that one major law firm in New York fired all of its associates in the practice area. There had been associates in that practice for years. I also recently met another person who was laid off after more than a decade in BigLaw in the practice area.

      The numbers of cut loose associates in my practice area is increasing each year.
      Even with the reduced BigLaw hiring that is going on right now, there is no exit to a job for a lot of people coming out of BigLaw. The BigLaw hiring and firing system through up or out is not sustainable because it results in widespread unemployment for lawyers put through this system.

      The practice area very closely correlates with a number of business jobs. How come none of the laid off BigLaw lawyers were able to get these business jobs? If the law degree truly were versatile, all of us would have been hired already.

      Delete
    2. "it is apparent that other former BigLaw associates, partners and counsel are in the same boat, most with lesser academic records than myself. "


      Here's a thought - take your "greater academic record" and, with it, do yourself and all of your colleagues in the boat a big favor and drill a hole in the bottom.

      Delete
  11. As I listened to the students on that podcast going through their talking points, one word came to mind: sonderkommandos.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. The Germans regularly gassed the sonderkommando and replaced them with new generations of sonderkommando, on the theory that they knew too much and that that knowledge would be dangerous.

      1Ls fit the mold perfectly. You hardly ever see a 2L or 3L. They have the dangerous knowledge.

      Also worth noting. Do these students have a choice as to whether or not they participate in this stuff? I mean, they do, de jure. No one can be forced into this the way the sonderkommando were, for God's sake. But in another sense, do they really have a choice? If the dean asks you to do something, and if you want a job, aren't you being coerced, de facto? Obviously most deans have no ability to get anyone a job and likely wouldn't care to help a 1L even if they did, but 1Ls don't know that.

      Delete
  12. I expect to see law school ads trolling for potential marks--I mean students--on daytime TV soon.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fj23I8hgj28

    "Do you want to make more money?! Sure, we all do!"

    ReplyDelete
  13. One final thought before I hit the shower this morning:

    CWSL has a 13.3% "Unknown" score at Law School Transparency. Most schools score in the 0-1% range; even nearby Thomas Jefferson (serving south and south-east downtown San Diego; CWSL serves primarily north/northwest downtown San Diego) only posted an "Unknown" score of 3.8%.

    As far as I can tell, with its 13.3 score CWSL might be the most opaque law school in the United States. There is something rotten going on there, and it needs to change.

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    1. Cooley has an unknown score of 26.5%. They can't even find more than a quarter of their graduates nine months out.

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    2. I've wondered about figures like that. Since I trust the average law school as far as I can throw it (i.e., not at all), how can one know if the school cannot find 10 or 20% of their graduates, or if they simply choose not to report the more dismal information collected? What I mean to say is, can anyone tell with a reasonable degree of certainty if a law school is (1) actually looking for this information, (2) looking and finding such information, but then choosing to not report it accurately, or (3) making the figures from whole cloth?

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    3. I laugh about these "unknown" numbers. I have moved around to 6 different addresses across 3 states without notifying my alma mater law school and those fuckers track me down each time harassing me for donations. I paid close to $100K for law school. Why do those motherfuckers keep molesting me by blowing up my phone, email asking that I leave them my estate in my will. These law schools already have enough money to operate without charging tuition.

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    4. Awriiight, this part is a joke, right?February 20, 2013 at 7:00 PM

      "... email (me) asking that I leave them my estate in my will..."


      Joke?

      Delete
  14. This morning I explored the versatility of my law degree by clearing snow from the driveway. I tell ya buddy, I trained some serious "intellectual firepower" at a snow blower.

    Thank you, law school. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have a snow blower??

      Buckin' Foomer!

      ;-)

      Delete
  15. I want to be a musician. Someone told me that 80s musical sensation, Ruben Blades, used his Harvard LL.M. in International Law to propel him to the top of the musical charts. Is this what the law school administrators mean when they say a law degree is versatile? How about the fact Mr. Blades was a classically trained musician BEFORE he went to law school?

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    1. Mick Jagger went to the LSE. So, if you want to become a fabulously wealthy rock star, get an economics degree.

      Cindy Crawford has a degree in chemical engineering. Wanna be a supermodel, get an engineering degree.

      It's about as logical as the claim of a law degree being "versatile." If you wanted to be "something else," you'd study that in the first place.

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  16. In a way I sort of disagree with the statement that a law degree isn't versatile. On its face the law degree must be versatile and the the degree has been coming much more versatile since 2008 - I mean by all accounts people with law degrees are seeking out all sorts of non-lawyer career paths - standup comic for example, barista, shelf stacker - I mean it may not be what they had in mind when they enrolled - but they are alternate careers...

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  17. I am a recent law school grad and the first college graduate from my family. My family has no connections and had no money to help with my educational pursuits, but I had big dreams. So I bought into the scam hook, line and sinker. I wanted a better life for myself and my family. I wanted to take care of my grandmother.

    I've spent 2 years post-graduation working as a volunteer attorney and 2 years as a law clerk, all with the albatross of a $1000+ monthly student loan payment (thanks to private student loans). Now, in my mid-30s, I realize that I may not have the opportunity to own a home or raise children because I have to service my law school debt. Shame on me. Shame on law schools.

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    1. and what we all need to realize two things about your plight: 1) it is far from an unusual situation in which you find yourself. In fact, 1000/month is getting off light compared to some friends of mine; 2) your inability to accumulate wealth is symptomatic of an entire generation that will never "get ahead," which will cause a whole mess of problems. birth rates will be down. the children that are born will be born in the hole, so god help them if colleges (costing god knows what by then) get their claws on that generation and squeeze ever more debt out of them. your inability to purchase a home means the construction sector goes into torpor, homes sit vacant, property values stagnate, crime rises. should you get a steady job, you will not leave it when you reach retirement age, further hamstringing the generation subsequent to ours.

      all because the government insisted on accepting the conceit that education means upward mobility and gave unlimited dollars to colleges, with students as mere conduits. this is a criminal enterprise without a statute or crime on which to base punishment. this is awful. you deserve better, and so do all of us.

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    2. Can't you IBR that shit and let the taxpayers take it on the chin?

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    3. He said he has private student loans, which puts him at the mercy of his lenders.

      On a tangent, at what point would it be beneficial for someone in 7:38's position to just default?

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    4. You spent 4 years working for free?

      Delete
  18. http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20130215/PC16/130219478

    On February 15, 2013, the Post and Courier published a Diane Knich piece labeled “Charleston School of Law’s Minority Law Day inspires students to become lawyers.” Check out this opening:

    “Military Magnet Academy counselor Dennis Muhammad wants students to know that they can have a career in law if that’s something that interests them.

    Each year, the college access coordinator brings a group of students to Charleston School of Law’s Minority Law Day, hoping to get that message across to them. He’s certain the method is effective, because he was so inspired by the events that two years ago, he enrolled in law school. Muhammad, 42, works at the military school in North Charleston during the day and attends law school at night.

    Erica McDaniel, 29, who also is a second-year law student, said the event is for students 13 to 18 years old. Students who attend the daylong event will learn what it takes to prepare for and succeed in law school. They will participate in a mock trial, she said, “where they can practice their lawyering skills.” Space still is available for students, parents, and counselors who want to register, she said.

    The event is meant to encourage more blacks and other minorities to pursue careers in law, a field in which they are underrepresented. According to published reports, about 10 percent of U.S. lawyers are minorities, and only about 4 percent are black.

    Muhammad said that only 2 percent of lawyers in South Carolina are black. “We need more black lawyers so blacks and other minorities get justice,” he said.”

    This fourth tier trash can is not alone in marketing their (sanitized) product to consumers at early ages.

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    1. "According to published reports, about 10 percent of U.S. lawyers are minorities, and only about 4 percent are black."

      Hmmm, I wonder what percentage of law school graduates are minorities.

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    2. Racial discrimination in the legal profession against African Americans is a big part of the problem. But it is justified based on "reviews" in law firms and adjectives like "not a fit", others in the workplace not being "comfortable" with the person and people in the work place "not wanting to work with the person." These reviews hold up. The fired lawyer gets a small severance payment in exchange for a release and that it is. His or her career is generally down the drain.

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    3. When African Americans and other under-represented minorities are admitted to law schools with extraordinarily low GPA's and LSAT scores relative to their classmates, no one should be surprised when they underperform upon entering the work force. If admissions were truly color blind, a smaller number of minorities would become lawyers, but those who did would be more likely to be successful.

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    4. I am sorry, but some of the African Americans I know were very good lawyers and did not get to keep BigLaw partnerships. It had nothing to do with test scores or abilities. It had to do with the need to bring a lot of business into the firms in a short period they had to prove themselves as partners.

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  19. Perhaps, many "professors" and deans actually feel or believe that they are helping young people of impoverished to modest means, by ass-raping these students - at an average of $120K-$165K in additional, non-dischargeable debt.

    The end result is roughly the same, whether the perpetrators are well-meaning pinheads or academic sociopaths. Some law schools conduct mock trials at local elementary schools. What a prestigious "profession," huh?!?!

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    1. I never thought I'd say this but Nando you are being too soft on the pig fuck bastards. These Profs have no illusions that they are screwing people and playing on a combination of their hopes and desperation. Lawprof just posted the other day how Profs are given a questionnaire asking them to describe their efforts to defraud people.

      Delete
  20. "he discusses Barack Obama's career as an example of what you can do with a law degree other than practice law"

    Steps in getting a usable, "versatile" law degree.

    Step 1: Graduate From Harvard Law School.

    Step 2: See Step 1.

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    1. Step 2. Be brilliant enough to get on the Harvard Law Review.

      Step 3. Have an incredible gift in public speaking and relating to people.

      Delete
    2. Seriously, Barack Obama is an amazing man. If you are Barack Obama you will probably be ok in life.

      Also, Obama comes from a highly educated family.

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    3. Obama doesn't have or need the second half of step 3. He has step 4: charisma. That unquantifiable, unteachable, priceless je ne sais quoi that makes people want to be around you. That's not relating to people. That's magnetism and getting people to want to relate to you.

      People with charisma usually come up roses. And very few people have it (sorry snowflakes). And to be clear I'm not saying I have it at all.

      I've said it before. If you are going to be successful with a law degree, you'd have been successful without one. And the converse is also true.

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    4. It should also be noted that, at least at that time, there were three ways to get on the Harvard Law Review: 1. Grades. 2. Writing competition. 3. After 1. and 2. a committee selected some additional folks to make certain that the Law Review's membership was consistent with the University's goals for diversity. Not saying he's not a smart guy, just saying there are many roads to success. Or as Magic Johnson once put it: "If Larry Bird were Black he'd be just another player in the NBA."

      Delete
    5. 8:36 am:
      It was Isaiah Thomas who said that, and it was an objectively stupid thing to say, borne out of his humiliation at having been bested by Bird and the Celtics.
      No less stupid than you taking the time to insinuate that Obama got the Law Review gig because he's a black man, though. Not that the Law Review thing matters in any event, unless you think that was the crucial fact that got him past those noted bootstrapping, self-made men John McCain and Mitt Romney.

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    6. Actually, you are correct about Isaiah.

      But in any event Mr. Obama could clear everything up by just releasing the records.

      I admitted I was wrong about Isaiah, I will admit I was wrong if the records are released and they also prove me wrong.

      Are you always so easily baited?

      Delete
  21. Barack Obama was also backed by Wall Street and the Health Insurance Industry. With connections like those, who needs a HLS law degree?

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    1. Why do you think they backed him? Without his pedigree would he have convinced the white wealthy people to back him? He proved himself as belonging on the basis of prestige. EIC of HLR is one of the top signaling devices in law.

      Delete
  22. LawProf,

    I used to naively believe that the legal educational establishment actually cared about access to justice and minority participation in the legal field until I read the recent postings on PrawfsBlawg by Rob Howse titled “The Brilliant Future of America’s Law Schools” and Part II of the same name.

    http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2013/02/the-brilliant-future-of-americas-law-schools.html

    http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2013/02/the-brilliant-future-of-americas-law-schools-ii-a-response-to-the-responses.html

    If the exorbitant rise in law school tuition was not enough to convince me that those in the legal education field could care less about access to our field by minorities, Mr. Howse’s posts ended up doing the job. In his posts, he excitedly remarks that legal educational institutions have a bright future because there still will be foreign students who will pay to attend American law schools and there is an undeveloped market for law classes for non-legal individuals. As a legal educator, Mr. Howse did not seem to express any concern about the impact that our institutions’ high tuition had on access to justice and a legal education or the effect massive debt had on enrollment of low-incomed populations and minorities. In fact, Mr. Howse did not express any concern at all for the students who pay his salary: the only concern he expressed was merely for the viability and success of the LAW SCHOOLS, with no concerns for the population they serve or the future of the legal profession.

    Reading his posts was eye-opening for me, especially as it came from a legal educational professional, who I am embarrassed to admit that I naively assumed would care about the future of the students he taught and the profession. At least he had the temerity to be honest and indicate what the legal educational establishment’s true and only concern was – there was none of this false garbage about increasing participation of low-incomed people in the legal field while raising tuition sky high to ensure they are kept out. No, he had the honesty to admit that it’s all about the dollars, baby.

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    1. "In his posts, he excitedly remarks that legal educational institutions have a bright future because there still will be foreign students who will pay to attend American law schools and there is an undeveloped market for law classes for non-legal individuals."

      That sounds like the Plan B tobacco company executives fell back on a decade or two ago. "So what if fewer individuals in American and the West are smokers. There's still potential untapped markets in Asia, Africa and the rest of the Third World."

      Delete
    2. Its a complete fantasy. Foreign students wouldn't have access to federal loans. When you're spending your own money you become far more discerning about what you spend. Those crappy lower ranked schools have completely priced themselves out of this market.

      They are too highly specialized. They have evolved to suck federal loan money out of special snowflake American students, and this is an evolutionary niche without much of a long term future.

      Delete
  23. Yup. Even if you land in biglaw, what I found interesting was that connections (i.e. relatives) to clients were valued much more than ability or skill because when you have roughly 50 first years who all have the same level of skill and potential (as shown by their law school performance and hiring by the firm), you immediately go to the folks who can get clients in the door (either through direct connections or through [ugh I hate to say this] breeding. You pick the prep school kid from Harvard or Columbia over the lower middle class Stanford or Chicago first year because that Harvard kid is more likely to have connections to business in the future. Is it a good idea? No, it's incredibly short sighted (biglaw by its nature is short sighted so it's no surprise).

    That said, the Stanford first year will be fine. She has the skills and abilities and grit to make it in the industry despite inevitably being chewed out by the biglaw machine.

    Outside of the tippy top of the entry level class from law schools, I don't believe they will be as fortunate. Instead, I see a lot of retail managers with law degrees from St. John's or Depaul who will never practice.

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    1. lol St. John's

      Delete
    2. Have you not figured out that law isn't about skill, but about getting clients to believe you have skill?

      The BigLaw people preferring the prep school kids from the right suburb isn't short-sighted, it's long-sighted. Why? Because that client in Big Rich Suburb would rather go with his frat brother's impotent and stupid son than some black kid who knows what he's doing. The black guy may NEVER have clients like that in his back pocket. The kid from the rich suburb therefore is a major plus to make partner and he's a presumed winner until proven otherwise.

      As long as business is run by wealthy 1%ers and clients are free to choose their servicers, the Pete Campbells of the world will ALWAYS have a leg up on the Don Drapers.

      Delete
    3. I am completely agreeing with you. Except I'm that (proverbial) Stanford grad without connections. Because I have the clerkships, big law experience, and top law school/good performance at top law school, I have been fortunate to land on my feet (happily) working for the federal government.

      That said, I don't believe my path is replicable for anyone outside of my set of circumstances.

      I say it's short-sighted because the kind of people getting chewed out of biglaw aren't disappearing. Because they've done well, they usually land on their feet, oftentimes in powerful in-house positions (like many of my girl friends from law school) or in the federal government at places like the SEC or DOJ.

      I've seen friends who are in house actively divert work from their old firms due to grudges. It happens. Not enough to change things (of course), but enough to note that the biglaw meat grinder has consequences to the business of law firms. Even if they don't feel them right away.

      Delete
    4. "That said, I don't believe my path is replicable for anyone outside of my set of circumstances."

      But that's the point - Stanford grads can land on their feet, even if their first job doesn't work out.

      It verges on criminal to suggest that a Cal Western grad can do the same, even assuming that they can land that first legal job.

      Delete
    5. 10:06,
      No no...talk to Old Guy, almost everyone from Biglaw winds up bitter and unemployed like him.

      Delete
    6. I think it gets harder and harder to land on one's feet the older one gets. Some of my HY colleagues lost jobs in their late 40s or 50s and did not recover.

      Also much depends on your practice area and if it is in demand. An employment lawyer today could probably lose several jobs and find a new one, even if quite old.

      Delete
  24. Not So Proud Kent AlumFebruary 20, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    I am pleased to see Dean Krent get another deserving citation at this site. The man is smug and oversaw a school that I found particularly scammy. At the time I applied, I believe Kent was advertising that it had the highest in-Chicago placement rate of the law schools, and of course there were the standard claims of 95% making 90k median or some such nonsense. They also were one of the frontrunners in the scholarship circus of giving people conditional funds, and I'm like 90% sure my year was section-stacked, because my 1L section had a TON of people who I now am pretty sure were on at least half scholarships.

    Every day at Kent was like another fiber of wool being lifted off your eyes. You soon realize the high-tech West Loop building isn't that high tech. Contrary to the Chicago-area prestige pushed in the brochure, you soon realize that the local bar seems to regard Loyola, Depaul, and U of I graduates better, and JMLS has almost as good of a reputation because local networking matters more. You soon learn that Kent was once run out of a hotel and was a piddling law school until relatively recently. You learn that the association with IIT is worthless, as IIT is in the middle of the ghetto. You learn that the tenured faculty resembles a stodgy, grumpy old folks home, and that maybe 30% of them have practiced law in your lifetime. You will learn that the CSO cares about two groups of people: the top 5% that it places in Chicago BigLaw and the IP people. If you're not an IP person or a 1L top 5%er, good luck. Oh, there were programs or internships that fit your interest area? Oh, well, sorry, we're too busy pushing OCI despite the fact that only 10 firms show up and we're pushing RESUME BOOKS to our recent alumni, because employers love to hire from a Sears Catalog. You'll learn that they have people teaching core classes who have never really practiced in that area while they have experts in things like social media law and international trade law. You'll learn that Chicago-Kent students have a bad reputation (I've heard hostile, insular, arrogant, etc.) compared to other local law dumps, and you'll find out why first-hand.

    The "versatility" thing really pisses me off. I know of one (1) person who got an entry-level gig at a really good non-BR job, and that's because it's basically what he did before law school. Everyone else is either in BR gigs or they took jobs that no one goes to law school for.

    For roughly 10% of the class, Kent was probably a good career move. Everyone else would have done better by going to/transferring to a better law school or avoiding the law school plague altogether. Kent is a trap school in that it advertises itself as the 3rd-best law school in Chicago and it attracts a disproportionate number of high LSAT/GPA people relative to its place in the law. So kids with 164 LSATs often wind up "stuck" with a Kent degree as they watch their equal-intellect peers from UIUC or Notre Dame take jobs.

    Kent is a giant bullshit factory. The difference between 0L presentation and 3L reality was a very cruel, time-consuming, and expensive life lesson. With where I finished, I should be in year two of making like 75k+. I made 20k last year. The only way my Kent degree is "versatile" is that it gives employers multiple reasons to say no.

    ReplyDelete
  25. What does Scarsdale have to do with this? I get the reference to Straight out of Compton.. but I'm not getting Scarsdale. I didn't watch the videos so maybe that explains my confusion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh is it because people from Scarsdale are supposed to be wealthy and connected?

      Delete
  26. I remember what it was like. Once. You guys all paint the picture that was me. I'm the guy who wasn't paying attention in contracts cause I was coding on my laptop. I'm the guy who didn't ace the exams (cause I was running a business out of my apartment). I got hooked to the juice. The mashups, hackathons, and round-robin coding sessions, that I'd be late to class. "I overslept". But I really hadn't. I was just... too proud to quit after knowing my life was meant for san jose, sunnyvale, cupertino. While my classmates talked about Firm X hiring 2L summers, I was goaded into coding for noname startups I never knew. Order of Coif dinners? Inns of Court. Never went. Wasn't allowed or inducted. Even when I got a job, I wanted to leave. Lived in fear of being moved to Track B, or C (7 year job search)... so I left. And you guys should know... it's way way better out here in the green pastures of tech startups. People talk about VCs, deals, getting past gates so we can raise second rounds. Versatile? If you can code me [Twitter] Storm bolts into a Hadoop and Lucine Cluster, we'll get your law school debts paid off real fast. (My Dean calls me up alot; I tell him I don't have time for lunch... I'm not in the Order of the Coif.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. Impressive. You managed to stuff an incredible amount of buzzwords and "bleeding edge" tech into your senseless post.

      I'm guessing you actually don't have much contact with VCs or startups in general...

      Delete
    2. cool story, tell us more

      Delete
    3. I see your point (sorta like my exam answers). Senseless. hmmm...

      Here are some points: I've been where all of you have been. Law school and practice is based in large part on fear. I used to wake up every day gripped by fear for my job, career, massive debt, life path, etc. Though now debt free, the experience still haunts me. (I so relate to everyone's experience here, and wish I could hire you all.) "Versatility" is yours to define, create, and make. I was too proud, too ignorant, too everything to quit as a 1L. I found "versatility" in doing something else... took a while, but I said, I'm doing something I love. I'm the CEO (in a farm of cubes, cause when VC's give you money, they put you in a portfolio building with all the other startups they're funding). I've had to swallow alot of pride, ego, and eat craw -- i.e. accounting classes because bankers will ask you everything about money. Everything. Minutea. Got adult supervision. Found a mentor. Got a clue about life. I am now no longer constrained by "law" or "JD". As lawyers are often known for one landmark career-making case, "Watson vs Holmes", I'm now known for something in else (one device I coded). So... that's versatility. I had to find out the hard way. Real Hard. (on flip side, along the way, I hired a friend from another law school, taught him to code inner-outer-multiple joins in Oracle... and watched him flourish). It gave him a way out and it's made him "versatile". What's the point of this post -- just keep at it. It gets easier. You will prevail.

      Delete
  27. I also had the same question about what Straight Out of Scarsdale meant, other than it's a play on Straight Outta Compton, or maybe Straight Outta Lynwood.

    Maybe the law professor who forwarded the links to him is in that area?

    Someone should tell Prof. Bennett that South Central Los Angeles does not exist anymore. They officially changed the name to South Los Angeles. Just change the name, and people will forget all the negatives associated with the former name.

    ReplyDelete
  28. This crap about "hurting diversity" etc. drives me nuts. I guess this means that "people of all races have an equal chance to take on too much debt for a useless degree."

    From "With Profession Under Stress, Law Schools Cut Admissions ," Wall Street Journal, 6/11/12:

    Cooley Law School, the largest in the nation, with 3,700 students, which said it "isn't interested in reducing the size of its entering class on the basis of the perceived benefit to society ...because "Cooley's mission is inclusiveness."

    online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303444204577458411514818378.html

    ReplyDelete
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  30. If a law degree were oh so versatile this site as well as the others addressing the same would not exist!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Yeah, and they don't mention how geographically inflexible your law license is, especially during the first five to seven years when there is little if any reciprocity.

    ReplyDelete
  32. The versatility lie is possibly the most obnoxious, since it ought to be true, at least to a limited degree. The suggestion that a JD qualifies one as "president of the United States" is retarded, but you'd think it'd be worth something for quasi-legal work, from SSA claims rep to compliance officer to HR to social studies teacher.

    Since it ought to be true, it's easily believable. Unfortunately, the reality is completely different and representatives of law schools who use it as a way to sell JDs should be in a position to know better. Is it likely that they deploy a misrepresentation that sounds extremely good to prospective admittees by accident?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The problem is that teaching and HR are saturated. Teaching has few openings due to government cuts. HR lost jobs during the recession and has an ample pipeline of its own for each open job.

      As to compliance, there is a chance for some lawyers to get those jobs. One needs absolutely relevant legal experience. Even so, the employer may be able to find ample trained compliance people for each compliance opening. I had a compliance interview several years ago where they did not hire me but rather hired a paid of trained compliance people. Same problem sometimes of taking their own.

      The bottom line is that the economy has to expand bigtime before lawyers will be in demand for non-legal jobs at a new employer.

      That is not to say that lawyers do not move to non-legal jobs. They do, but only when they have jobs (such as employment lawyer) and move (into HR) in the same company.

      Delete
  33. If we really gave a damn about having minorities enter the law, the Federal Government and the law schools would give GRANTS to deserving candidates and not pile them up with debts under the guise of being inclusive.

    Alternatively we could do things such as giving promising minority students grants to take a decent LSAT prep course, so they don't go into that test disadvantaged as compared to kids whose parents had the money to write a check to say, Kaplin.

    Keeping lots of shitty law schools open so minorities with less then steller grades or LSAT scores can gain entry, is a horribly ineffective way to reach an important goal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or we could just stop relying on standardized testing so much.

      Seems the more reasonable course of action, since you're basically saying (plausibly!) that higher test scores can be pretty directly bought.

      Delete
  34. I didn't get a job until I took the JD off my resume

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OK but ... I'm curious about how people do that and explain what they did for 3 years.

      And doesn't such stuff eventually show up in background checks (so common now)?

      Delete
    2. Shawshank RedemptionFebruary 20, 2013 at 12:48 PM

      He said he spent time in the state penitentiary. It was more attractive to non-legal employers.

      Delete
    3. Another good strategy is drug problem -> off the grid -> found Jesus and making the best of 2nd chance in life. Employers love that stuff, especially evangelical Republican types.

      Delete
    4. This is 12:29pm, I worked part time throughout law school at the job I had before law school, so I had that on my resume

      Delete
    5. @Shawshank & 2:00PM - gold.

      Delete
  35. @12:44 above.

    I am not 12:29, but here is how I got around the JD issue: You need to reformat your resume. You have a gap of 3 years if you use a traditional, time-sequenced resume. In my case, I merely listed 'relevant education,' and since my JD was not relevant to the position, I of course did not include it.

    Under 'relevant education,' I included the undergraduate degree I earned, name of my undergraduate school, and location. Since that portion of my resume was not sequential, I did not include the date I received my diploma. However, in the professional history section of my resume, I made it sequential. In that section, I indicated that I attended school during the time I went to law school to explain the time gap.

    I can't help it if readers assume that by school I was referring to undergraduate and not law school. :)

    As for things showing up in background searches, provided they are done, it is not a crime to leave off irrelevant education, especially if you clearly indicate that you are only listing relevant education, as I did.

    ReplyDelete
  36. PS: I also included, in my educational section, "Degree and honors awarded," so it would be clear I actually graduated, while allowing me to tout my honors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mistake. Large employers will ask for all schools on an employment application. That is once you have the job. You cannot lie.

      Some of the large employers ask for all degrees in the application.

      You will be fired if they find out you lied, or maybe not get the job. Just refer to it somewhere in the resume where it is inconspicuous, like other activities and education at the end with your volunteer work or sports.

      Delete
    2. The other problem is that certain jobs, like paralegal, specifically say "no lawyers or no JD-holders".

      If you apply for said position clearly aware that being a lawyer disqualifies you, you can't just omit it as it would be a lie of omission.

      Delete
    3. Also, if you're one of the many with a huge amount of student debt, employers very often run credit checks, which I assume would unearth that.

      They're going to wonder about that ... especially if it was AFTER your undergrad study years.

      Just seems too easy for an employer to find out and as those above say, fire your for lying on your job application.

      Lots of companies don't just take your resume: you have to fill out and sign a formal application, and that is for the specific purpose of attesting that you are giving full information and you understand you're liable to get fired if that's not the case.

      Delete
  37. Does anyone remember that commenter who implored readers to protest at their law school? Well, if you check today's abovethelaw, someone apparently attempted such a protest (and got beat down by the police).

    ReplyDelete
  38. lsac numbers released today. applicant #s slowly improving from a low of being down 21% Y-O-Y:

    http://www.lsac.org/lsacresources/data/three-year-volume.asp

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you misinterpreted that data

      Delete
    2. no, that's right. a few weeks ago the # of applicants was down 22% from the same period last year. now it's down 19% from the same period last year, so a slight improvement in the past few weeks. still a huge drop regardless.

      Delete
    3. that's not necessarily a valid conclusion.

      Delete
  39. Heeeelp! Some sick animal just left a huuuuuge rotten "Seton Hall Law" sticking out of the office toilet! It smells like a dead animal! The janitor has renounced God as a result of this. Humanity can never be redeeme!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And it came out of a Cooley.

      Delete
  40. JD degree IS INDEED versatile!February 20, 2013 at 6:52 PM

    The JD degree is indeed an extremely versatile degree.

    You people who can't figure this out just haven't bothered to do some rudimentary research.

    With just a little searching on the internets, I managed (in literally just minutes) to come up with THOUSANDS of things to do with your JD degree.

    Here:
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Complete-Book-Origami-Step-/dp/0486258378/
    Origami: Step-by Step Instructions in Over 1000 Diagrams

    ReplyDelete
  41. I met a JD holder from DePaul today. Been a real estate broker for 25 years, showed us office space.

    Obviously you need a DePaul JD to show office space to lawyers, so.....

    *Not beating up on this man, just showing an example of someone who earned a DePaul law degree and a longitudinal result of having made a switch to another field.

    ReplyDelete
  42. @2:46 & 2:42

    1:35 pm here. I cannot reply to your comments and therefore have to reply down here. I really wish LawProf would fix that - it is annoying replying to comments at the bottom of the page when some people can reply to them directly. Either make it consistent that everyone can reply to comments above or everyone has to reply below. Not sure why some can reply to comments above and some, like me, have to respond all the way down here.

    My solution with regards to the JD gap that I describe above at 1:35pm is merely trying to make the best out of a bad situation. I did not say it works in every situation. I was referring to using it on resumes, which most jobs that I have applied to require in lieu of an application. Of course, on the rare occasion a company requires you to fill out its application, you MUST be honest and indicate ALL education if the application requires it. My solution is not for those situations. My solution is for situations when you can apply using a resume and can therefore choose to paint yourself in the most flattering light and can decide what 'relevant' info. you put on the resume. For these situations, it works well.

    As for jobs that say 'no laywers or JD holders,' I think it's pretty clear that if you are a JD holder or lawyer, you shouldn't be applying for those jobs. I have only come across a few of those and of course, I don't apply to those.

    My solution that I indicated above works for 95% of the time, when you can apply using a resume and you are not applying for a job that clearly does not want lawyers or JD holders. For those situations, it works pretty well. I was just recently hired.

    Think creatively and outside the box. It's the only hope most of us have in surviving the shitty situation that has been handed to us. Good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Note regarding above: this is merely to help you avoid having your resume chucked in the trash. Once you get into the interview, be prepared to answer questions honestly if the subject comes up. If you are subsequently asked why you did not put your legal education on your resume, you can honestly state that you were only putting down education that you felt was relevant to the position, although you can then perhaps add that you think the skills of x, y, and z that you learned in law school would help in the position in the following ways...

    But at least in the interview, you will be seeing them face to face and can portray things better in your favor. On the resume, you won't get that chance to explain.

    ReplyDelete
  44. I've been told that you can end up with a small fortune after law school.

    How? Start off with a big one.

    ReplyDelete
  45. '"Many people do wonderfully creative and interesting things with a law degree other than practice law, including being a journalist or being an investor or being a counselor." '

    http://www.chicagolawyermagazine.com//Articles/2011/08/01/transparency.aspx

    ReplyDelete

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