Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Law school politics and the English language

One thing that has displeased a number of my colleagues throughout the legal academy is what they consider the excessively shrill tone of some of my posts, which have lacked that delicacy and circumspection that marks a well-bred gentleman's discourse, whenever he engages in the unpleasant task of suggesting that all might not be for the best in this the best of all possible worlds.  Another thing that has annoyed them is that everything I'm saying is either old hat and already perfectly well understood, or obviously false. The former category includes assertions regarding the rampant dishonesty of placement statistics, the disastrous job market for graduates, the skyrocketing cost of legal education, and the enormous debt load for our students those costs engender, as well as the apparently unsustainable nature of the current business model under which many schools are operating.


Now my sense is that until about 15 minutes ago the number of law professors who were talking about these issues in any sort of serious and sustained way could be counted on the fingers of one hand (Bill Henderson and Brian Tamanaha certainly were, while people like Douglas Berman and Gerald Magliocca have been engaged with the issue as well). Still, I certainly never intended to give the impression that I was the first person in the legal academy to raise these issues. (Indeed, as I've noted a couple of times, until about 18 months ago I was embarrassingly clueless about many of the most basic economic facts regarding law school budgets, student debt loads, and the employment situation for recent graduates, even at my own school).

Still the world-weary "there's nothing new here" response from some precincts of legal academia reminds me how J.S. Mill says somewhere that every successful idea elicits three reactions from the purveyors of the conventional wisdom: First, it is so clearly wrong that there's no point in refuting it. Then it's declared to be against religion. Finally, it is obviously true, banal, not worth repeating, and in fact everyone has been saying much the same thing for many years now (In the postmodern academy this entire process can sometimes take place in a matter of weeks).

In a crisis of the magnitude to which legal academia is suddenly awakening (one which, of course, law school graduates have been keenly aware of for years now, including well before the present recession, as many of the comments on this blog attest) there is a place for dispensing with intellectual circumlocution, and simply saying things in a straightforward fashion, even though toes will be stepped on and egos will be bruised.  This blog could have said things like:

A careful analysis of the pragmatic value and intellectual cogency of much contemporary legal scholarship suggests that the institutional investments made for the sake of its production may not be fully warranted, given the problematic relationship between the cost and benefits of academic work produced under the circumstances in which the offerings found in the standard publication venues for that scholarship are generated, as well as the arguably suboptimal selection process that governs the editorial decisions which determine the ultimate content of those venues.
This sentence -- which is admittedly a parody, but not a very gross one -- can be reduced to six words: "Most law review articles are worthless."  The former sentence has the virtue of making readers sleepy before they get too insulted, which explains why you're likely to find something like it, or very much like it, in the typical critique of the contemporary law school.

Anyway, I noticed that this morning's post elicited a dust-up in the comments regarding the vitriol unleashed by one poster in particular against law school faculty and administrators.  I was asked (by a law professor from the sound of it) to moderate the comments so as to not expose readers to that kind of thing. I've decided for the time being not to do so, because I think it's important for those of us who enjoy the various privileges of this very pleasant world in which we live to have at least a little exposure to some of the sensations of helpless rage and genuine despair that many of our students and former students must endure every day.   In recent days, I've gotten emails from law students, recent graduates, practicing lawyers, and former lawyers, from all around the country, and all I can say is that I find it difficult to believe the person who asked me to censor the unruly commentator has even begun to understand what the young people who trusted their futures to us are dealing with.

Law in general and law school in particular is already too full of fake politeness, fear-induced groveling, craven appeasement of dubious authority figures, unappetizing obsessions with hierarchical status, and other forms of soul-crushing inauthenticity.  Like minor aristocrats surrounded by court flatterers, we've lost sight of the deep anger -- and is it not a just anger? -- hidden behind the faces of those who, for the moment, feel they must still curry our favor.

The title of this post is an allusion to Orwell, and I'll end with a quote from his great essay on Charles Dickens:

The one thing that everyone who has read A Tale of Two Cities remembers is the Reign of Terror. The whole book is dominated by the guillotine — tumbrils thundering to and fro, bloody knives, heads bouncing into the basket, and sinister old women knitting as they watch. Actually these scenes only occupy a few chapters, but they are written with terrible intensity, and the rest of the book is rather slow going. But A Tale of Two Cities is not a companion volume to The Scarlet Pimpernel. Dickens sees clearly enough that the French Revolution was bound to happen and that many of the people who were executed deserved what they got. If, he says, you behave as the French aristocracy had behaved, vengeance will follow. He repeats this over and over again. We are constantly being reminded that while ‘my lord’ is lolling in bed, with four liveried footmen serving his chocolate and the peasants starving outside, somewhere in the forest a tree is growing which will presently be sawn into planks for the platform of the guillotine, etc., etc., etc. The inevitability of the Terror, given its causes, is insisted upon in the clearest terms:
It was too much the way... to talk of this terrible Revolution as if it were the only harvest ever known under the skies that had not been sown — as if nothing had ever been done, or omitted to be done, that had led to it — as if observers of the wretched millions in France, and of the misused and perverted resources that should have made them prosperous, had not seen it inevitably coming, years before, and had not in plain terms recorded what they saw.
And again:
All the devouring and insatiate monsters imagined since imagination could record itself, are fused in the one realization, Guillotine. And yet there is not in France, with its rich variety of soil and climate, a blade, a leaf, a root, a spring, a peppercorn, which will grow to maturity under conditions more certain than those that have produced this horror. Crush humanity out of shape once more, under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms.
In other words, the French aristocracy had dug their own graves.

80 comments:

  1. Fabulous. Keep up the good work.

    See this: http://writing-program.uchicago.edu/toys/randomsentence/write-sentence.htm

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  2. Yes, well said Law Prof.

    Profs have used their tenure and status to abuse, belittle, mock, and terrorize students inside and outside of the classroom. They get their assess kissed by students on the regular. They need to get outside of the palace walls and see what their students really think. They might not like it, but the need to hear it.

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  3. "Law in general and law school in particular is already too full of fake politeness, fear-induced groveling, craven appeasement of dubious authority figures, unappetizing obsessions with hierarchical status, and other forms of soul-crushing inauthenticity."

    Oh man, this is the truth. There is so much ass-kissing that goes on, it's nauseating.

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  4. Well said all around. These posts are gold and they demonstrate not just your abilities as a legal academic, but your insights gained as a student of the human experience.

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  5. There is so much ass-kissing that goes on, it's nauseating.

    -----------

    Exactly. I'm the commenter who they wanted to ban in the other thread, and you should see the way I talked to my professors. I sucked up to them with a big smile and bright eyed just like everyone other student. Not because I respected them, or thought highly of them (to be honest, I did respect them at first but eventually I saw them for what they were), rather because of their position. In my eyes, they had the power to f my life over. Little did I know, at the time, that they had already done that the day I enrolled at that tier 2 school.

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  6. Thank you Mr. Campos for bringing much needed support to the reform movement. Unlike most, you can actually say you are defending liberty and pursuing justice without being completely full of shit.

    Please keep posting

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  7. Only thing is now we have to do something. Post are only so good for so long.

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  8. Apologize for this being off-topic but I've just gone through the past few posts and saw more than a few comments about Military OCS being a good option for unemployed grads or dropouts. People thinking about doing this should be aware that it is very competetive and also takes about 8 months.

    Think about this, Army recruiting for enlisted individuals has already satisfied its needs up through Q2 for 2012. Please believe that if they don't need enlisted recruits, they definitely don't need officer recruits, and this is coming from the Army which recruits much, much more than any other branch. Also, there is a quota of only 25% of officers being straight from OCS; other 75% either come from military academies or are people who enlist and then apply to be officers.

    Bottom line, if you're seriously looking at the military as an option, you'll probably have to go enlisted. Also, I believe it might be difficult to be accepted if your loans exceed $150K.

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  9. "People thinking about doing this should be aware that it is very competetive "

    Are you serious? Joining the army is now competitive?! Talk about a recession.

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  10. Nobody's ushering law professors towards the guillotine here. If we're here posting, it means that we fall into one of two categories:

    (a) Law professors interested in the freak show;
    (b) Powerless nobodies who can do nothing but complain and hope that powerful somebodies will eventually do something.

    Law professors, I'm sorry that Campos refers to your life's work as a "scam," and that somebody mired in debt without any prospects of escaping it referred to you as "vermin." When all that harsh language becomes too much for you to bear, I suggest you contact one of your former unemployed students to carry your burdens as someone guaranteed to make $100,000+ in a nominally legal job. In the interest of equity, we underemployed alumni are ready to walk that mile in your $700 Ferrogamos.

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  11. I'm the one who suggested you moderate.

    I'm not a law prof (more on that in a moment). I suggested it because the other thread was getting pretty venomous. In fact, someone called law profs vermin, repeatedly, culminating with "you're such vermin, completely shameless vermin." I applaud what you are trying to do with this blog, but your strawman argument that such comments are merely heated and unpolished -- as if that somehow renders them more authentic or worthy, and non-threatening -- is glib and childish, frankly. As someone else noted, the commenter simply crossed the line. Vermin are things we exterminate.

    I'm a practicing litigator, not a prof. Folks may have speculated I was a prof b/c I called you by your first name. I honestly didn't even think about that. While I reject the characterization that lawprofs are vermin, I also don't worship them (and didn't in law school either). If you'd been my professor, I would have called you Prof. Campos in law school and would still now. But if we met on the street today, we'd introduce ourselves by our first names and move on with our lives.

    I went to a T14 and have been in Big Law a few years (it's not amazing, but not forever), so I guess the vermin guy would say I have nothing to complain about. I sympathize with him and people in his position. I just think they've picked the wrong scapegoat, and they risk alienating natural allies (both lawprofs and lawyers, though mainly the former).

    Moreover, to say lawprofs put you where you are today is simplistic at best. Look, this is not going to sound satisfying, but try to take a longer view. Use your time early in your career to get the best experience and develop the best relationships you can now and build a practice specialty you can capitalize on in the future. Best of luck.

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  12. One more thing -- your debt -- focus on the monthly payments, not the total amt. I still have six figures of it too (started out with a ton) and as I said, I am not in Biglaw forever. Good luck.

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  13. Thanks Paul. This blog is pure gold.

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  14. "The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off".

    It's like ripping a band-aid off an infested scar...bloody, puss-filled, and painful, but fresh air is needed. As a recent graduate, I thank you for this.

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  15. @8:32 p.m.:

    You won the lottery. You are the person to whom these law schools will point and say, "Look. Clearly it worked for him (or her)." Every law school produces at least a few of them every year.

    As for the rest of us, taking a longer view gives us nothing. The debt remains constant, as does the fact that none of us will ever make the sort of money you're making, i.e., an amount that would make our debt tolerable in the context of a typical middle-class lifestyle. If nobody hires us out of the gate, our chances of being hired dwindle with every passing month. Many of us are at the point of having to begin as sole practitioners with few or no mentors, no resources and no client base aside from court appointments - something for which law school has left us almost completely unprepared.

    Obviously, we'll do whatever it takes to live, but we're not counting on our "natural allies." As far as I can tell, it's been recent graduates and current students who've done most of the work in getting the Standard 509 Subcommittee to consider its requirements for law schools' reporting of employment outcomes. Throughout, our natural allies have been almost entirely silent. If it weren't so much fun to mock us for our failures or watch us lambaste somebody who tells us that it's actually better than we think, I doubt our natural allies would give it a second's thought.

    We're f__ked and it won't soon change, if ever. IBR will have to be enough for us. But we can prevent a new generation of students from entering the shell game as unaware as we were. Part of that entails calling out law schools and their leadership for the ways in which they have failed us, the most significant being the way that their employment statistics have masked underemployment and unemployment for years. If that alienates you, then I'm sorry, but it's not like you were doing all that much for people like us before.

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  16. A little off topic, but one thing that is so frustrating is that people assume if you rage against the law school machine or higher ed cartel you are a bitter unemployed loser. Law professors commenting on thier blogs seem to constantly make that assumption. I know for a fact that multiple scambloggers have jobs, pay their loans on time, and love practicing law. If you are a professor and think students should view you as an ally, maybe you should ask them their situation before judging them. Just a thought.

    In my opinion, this is one reason why the scam as gone on unchecked as long as it has. So many lawyers and professors are too busy being judgmental type A pricks to communicate truth and do things not in their pecuniary interest.

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  17. I'm an HYS grad 4-6 years out of law school. I was fortunate to attend a law school that opens a wealth of doors and to graduate in a great economy. I really enjoyed law school: I found most of my professors to be strong lecturers, I liked the balance between classroom-based work and practical/clinical education, and I was lucky to get to split my summers between big firm and public interest work.

    Post-law school, for me, the system has functioned as advertised: I enjoyed wonderful federal clerkships, did a couple of years of BigLaw to pay off my debts, and then moved towards the issue-based public interest work I'd always wanted to do. The icing on the cake is that my public interest work is appellate-focused and draws heavily on five or six courses I took in law school. My job causes me to recall my time spent in law school fondly. I remember the excitement I felt the first time I grappled with these constitutional law issues theoretically as a student, and I feel even more passionately about them now that I get to engage with them in practice.

    So why am I posting here? Because I love my field, enjoy legal academic writing, value opportunities to teach/mentor, and liked law school, I decided a couple of years ago that I would consider pursuing a legal academic career. There were two reasons that I wanted to become a legal academic: (1) to teach and mentor law students (my chief focus); and (2) to write doctrinal scholarship of some use to the bench and bar. Because I wanted to teach effectively students headed out into the "real world" of practice, I reasoned that I should try to practice for 5-8 years longer first, so that I could bring a strong practical grounding to my post in "the academy". With these aspirations, I trotted off to talk to mentors/advisers/possible academic fellowship employers.

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  18. (continued from above)

    I was horrified when I was immediately advised (by several T14 academics) to refrain from mentioning my interest in teaching while on the academic fellowship market - let alone AALS. I was consistently told that if I spoke enthusiastically about my commitment to teaching students, I would sound like less of a serious potential scholar. Next, I described my interest in formulating a doctrinal research agenda. My clerkships had given me a sense for what types of articles could be useful to law clerks/judges/appellate practitioners, and I thought that writing those doctrinal articles would be a good start to my academic career. I was promptly shot down again: I was advised to familiarize myself with the "law and" trend and to consider pursuing a Ph.D. in other fields in which I have little interest: political science, economics, philosophy, sociology. It was - and remains - unclear to me why I (an admitted attorney committed to a lifetime in my own field of law) need a Ph.D. in (say) political science in order either to write about *law* or to teach *law* students how to become practicing *lawyers*. At one point, I remarked in frustration to an adviser that I was committed to "law and law," full stop. Finally, I was told by more than one dozen academics that it would be foolhardy for me to practice for more than 4-6 years (including clerkship experience) before transitioning to academia. To practice for longer would establish that I was insufficiently committed to legal academia.

    For me, the thought of "teaching" law students - based on only ~ 2 years' clerkship experience + ~ 2-4 years beginning practice experience - was objectionable. How could I stand before a room full of 3Ls and insist I was competent to teach them fields that I had only peripherally or briefly experienced in practice, or via a clerkship case or two? When I expressed this to the academics advising me, they somewhat dismissively suggested that given my concerns, I would be better suited to clinical teaching (which they warned me was less prestigious and lucrative). Prestige and money be damned, I liked the merits of clinical teaching: the opportunity to work with indigent clients, focus on teaching students useful legal practice skills, and write doctrinally-focused articles that - if drawn from my experience as a practitioner - may stand a chance of being useful to the bar.

    For a while, then, I thought that clinical teaching was my goal. But I cannot in good conscience make my living from the tuition dollars of students, very few (if any) of whom will actually secure employment in the field to which I am introducing them. At the risk of sounding hopelessly youthful and exuberant, even several years after my law school graduation: as a clinical instructor, I would want to help introduce students to the joys, stresses, sadnesses, challenges, and rewards of fighting for clients and causes in which they believe. I'd want to show them the power that a law degree confers on them to help to change their clients' realities for the better - and to help them confront the frustration with which we public interest lawyers struggle when we are confronted with the many limitations on our power to help our clients. But if the students whom I'm teaching are to be shut out of the legal market altogether - and are financially wholly foreclosed from the increasingly tight public interest market - then it seems it would be a cruel farce for me to "introduce" them to a field in which most or all will never be able to participate. I choose to opt out of this farce, and I will settle instead for seeking out ways to teach/mentor law students who intern with my employer (where, per recent application numbers, students have a roughly 3.5% chance of obtaining an unpaid internship).

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  19. 8:32, So apparently you are earning a huge salary as a biglawyer and the only concern manifested in your life is that, eventually, you will have to leave biglaw. Of course, at that time you will exercise one of the biglaw "exit options" such as tier 2/3/4 professor, in house counsel, or some other decent job.
    Now that we understand your care free and idyllic position, I must say that you are a callous and unsympathetic asshole for preaching to people who are going to financial troubles that you could not imagine. How dare you judge and look down on people without walking a day in their shoes? You have no clue what it's like to live with this level of debt, this earning power and this future.
    I'm sorry if you are troubled that blogs like this risk foreclosing your exit option of law professor. But you would have to be verminous scum to even think of taking such a position in the first place.
    By the way, you have more to worry about than you may think. More than a few words said on an internet blog. I have spoken to numerous former biglawyers, and once out many of them are totally and completely screwed. They have to enter my world, what is pejoratively called "shitlaw" and "shitlaw" couldn't give a damn about your credentials. No no no. It's very much a "what have you done for me now" attitude here and it would eat your prissy and pathetic ass alive.

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  20. Law school was a wonderful experience. Bill Henderson is certainly in part to thank for that. I never experienced the sort of groveling and humiliation I have heard so much about. I am certainly a better person for all of it, and maybe that's because of the school I attended. Maurer was great.

    All that said, I would seriously consider trading my degree to get out from under the mountain of debt... and I was lucky enough to land a job! Thank you for maintaining this forum for discussion on an area that is definitely in need of some reform.

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  21. Here's an idea. Law professors like to compare their compensation to biglaw partners. I don't see the basis for this comparison. A better comparison would be to a government lawyer, because their positions are government-funded through student loans. In my opinion, they should be paid an average government lawyer salary of about G-13, or about $80,000 per year.

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  22. Great post 8:58.

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  23. 9:11, I think even that would be too much for some schools. In my opinion, if your school's average grad makes $40,000, then the average salary for the law professors should be $40,000 and the school's tuition should be $40,000 for all three years combined.

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  24. @ Morse Code for J: I agree. Awesome response.

    @ 8:32: Pretty venomous? Are you new?

    "Moreover, to say lawprofs put you where you are today is simplistic at best. Look, this is not going to sound satisfying, but try to take a longer view. Use your time early in your career to get the best experience and . . . blah, blah, blah."

    I don't have a career.

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  25. "I just think they've picked the wrong scapegoat, and they risk alienating natural allies (both lawprofs and lawyers, though mainly the former)."

    OMG how clueless can you be? How exactly have lawprofs been allies??? Dude, get your big fat overstuffed head out of the sand.

    I'm also in biglaw (miserably so, but know how lucky I am compared to others) but I knew the whole system was a scam from beginning to end, top to bottom, and anyone who says differently is seriously deluded. Law school tuition is reasonable? Law school teaches you how to practice law effectively? Law profs are concerned about the price of school for students? 3 years of mostly theory is necessary? And lets not get into the attitude of the faculty that Prof Campos commented so incisively on. Im lucky I have a job that pays well but Im still pissed that tuition was so unnecessarily high and that I have to feel lucky to be stuck in a miserable job just to pay off my loans.

    And just STFU and go sip your latte if 'vermin' makes your ears so red. Dope. Your contribution here is laughable for a ten year old, let alone an adult with a "professional" degree.

    But that is it isn't it? The whole system produces whimpering ass-kissing ninnies like you...passive-aggressive monomaniacs obsessed with hierarchy and status and who they can tell to just shut up and do my bidding to. In fact I bet that many of the people here upset (and rightly so) about their debt and lack of employment would happily be the ones on top sanctimoniously lecturing the desperate ones about decorum and whatnot. Switching positions would not change things one iota.

    And I think this is what Campos was getting at in his post as well as some of the commenters here. The system is sick and it creates sick people. I never ever bought into the sniveling one of the commenters here described in law school...I looked around and saw the childishness for what it was. My whole being, my value system, was not wrapped up in being an attorney or having that corner office or whatever. I actually remember two or three professors like Campos who called it like it was and like Campos are the only ones I left with any respect. because they saw wrong and spoke out.

    Now the rest of you ninnies who are getting shat on start doing something about it. Shedding some light on the situation in these posts is one thing but you are freaking lawyers. Start using your collective power. Start organizing , start acting. I mean they had riots in London over essentially nothing and your lives have been essentially ruined financially, from what Im reading, and you just sit there. Start making the lives of law school admins living hell, politicians, the ABA. You are freaking attorneys. Julian Assange was just some douche with some computer knowledge and a serious hate for corps and the good ol' USA. Your actual lives have been deeply effected. DO SOMETHING. Or did law school completely emasculate you all?

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  26. Prof. Campos:

    Thank you for this blog, and for teaching me the rule against perpetuities. But mostly for this blog!

    I like the comments about the AALS hiring farce. I'd appreciate some more attention to this charade. Maybe we can organize a counter-event to the October recruiting fair in DC?

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  27. Quick point - rather than put "moderation" (of the threat of deleting that which one does not agree with) in play, try requiring something aside from being able to post an anonymous comment first.

    Putting your name on the line ought to create ownership in what one writes.

    (And, yes, I am posting this anonymously. The irony.)

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  28. "I just think they've picked the wrong scapegoat, and they risk alienating natural allies (both lawprofs and lawyers, though mainly the former)."

    OMG how clueless can you be? How exactly have lawprofs been allies??? Dude, get your big fat overstuffed head out of the sand.

    I'm also in biglaw (miserably so, but know how lucky I am compared to others) but I knew the whole system was a scam from beginning to end, top to bottom, and anyone who says differently is seriously deluded. Law school tuition is reasonable? Law school teaches you how to practice law effectively? Law profs are concerned about the price of school for students? 3 years of mostly theory is necessary? And lets not get into the attitude of the faculty that Prof Campos commented so incisively on. Im lucky I have a job that pays well but Im still pissed that tuition was so unnecessarily high and that I have to feel lucky to be stuck in a miserable job just to pay off my loans.

    And just STFU and go sip your latte if 'vermin' makes your ears so red. Dope. Your contribution here is laughable for a ten year old, let alone an adult with a "professional" degree.

    But that is it isn't it? The whole system produces whimpering ass-kissing ninnies like you...passive-aggressive monomaniacs obsessed with hierarchy and status and who they can tell to just shut up and do my bidding to. In fact I bet that many of the people here upset (and rightly so) about their debt and lack of employment would happily be the ones on top sanctimoniously lecturing the desperate ones about decorum and whatnot. Switching positions would not change things one iota.

    And I think this is what Campos was getting at in his post as well as some of the commenters here. The system is sick and it creates sick people. I never ever bought into the sniveling one of the commenters here described in law school...I looked around and saw the childishness for what it was. My whole being, my value system, was not wrapped up in being an attorney or having that corner office or whatever. I actually remember two or three professors like Campos who called it like it was and like Campos are the only ones I left with any respect. because they saw wrong and spoke out.

    Now the rest of you ninnies who are getting shat on start doing something about it. Shedding some light on the situation in these posts is one thing but you are freaking lawyers. Start using your collective power. Start organizing , start acting. I mean they had riots in London over essentially nothing and your lives have been essentially ruined financially, from what Im reading, and you just sit there. Start making the lives of law school admins living hell, politicians, the ABA. You are freaking attorneys. Julian Assange was just some douche with some computer knowledge and a serious hate for corps and the good ol' USA. Your actual lives have been deeply effected. DO SOMETHING. Or did law school completely emasculate you all?

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  29. 8:32 here.

    I have little to say in reply to those who call people they disagree with assholes, vermin, loathsome, etc. I realize this type of thing is common in blogging. This is probably one reason I don't comment on, and rarely read, blogs.

    As for some disgruntled commentators' and scambloggers' decision to attack what I called your natural allies, I like what Orin Kerr said the other day (below). I don't know if you have considered the possibility that some of those "inside" the system or for whom the system has worked might share some of your criticisms. There aren't a million Camposes out there, but there is probably more lawprof support for change than you think. These people aren't that different from you (or me -- I'm less than 5 yrs out). If you let go of the ad hominems and the us v. them attitude, you might find yourself with some supporters in a position to help. In short, coups are easier than revolutions. And that is the last I will say on this.

    "More broadly, I think there’s less of a gap between the interests of the professors and the students than the blogs imagine. A lot of the professors share the same concerns that the students do. They want law school to be the best value, and to give the best education, and to train students to get the best careers. They’re frustrated by the status quo, and they want to they are open to new ways of doing business. Setting up a bogus faculty-vs-students narrative draws eyeballs to a blog. But it also alienates the group that is most able and willing to enact reforms that could actually improve things." --Kerr

    http://volokh.com/2011/08/22/a-few-thoughts-on-lawprof-and-law-school-scam-blogs/

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  30. @10:00 - blah blah blah. You're really on top of the crisis, focussed on just the right issue.

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  31. You know, 8:32, for someone who claims to be a biglaw lawyer with no aspirations to become a professor, you are awfully invested in making sure that professors are not criticized. Something smells funny.

    Tell us, why are you so invested in professors and making sure that, rather than criticize them, we ask in vain for their help? Why do you care what people say about professors?

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  32. Keep the ad hominems coming. Surely they will bring relief to un/underemployed grads.

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  33. No 8:32/10:00/10:41, You being able to get a job as a law professor after biglaw, that is what will help un/underemployed graduates. It's all about making sure that you have a nice cush exit option awaiting you.

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  34. Yea I know because no ad hominems will bring those jobs rolling in...

    Just ignore this troll.

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  35. To the HYS grad who got run out of the academic hiring process -- are we the same person? I didn't graduate from HYS so I guess not, but it sounds like otherwise we had the exact same experience with the law schools' ridiculous hiring practices. After having been taught by a bunch of law professors who had never practiced law I too thought that it would be a Good Thing to, uh, have been a lawyer before applying for a job to teach other people how to become lawyers. How wrong I was! Several years after my own AALS debacle I did adjunct for a while, and realized that although I *really* loved teaching, in no way would I have been able to deal with the faculty bullshit (that is, the coworkers) had I ever gotten a "real" academic job. Plus I would rather put a bullet through my own head than spend 30 years cranking out ridiculous "law and" papers that nobody would ever read, subsidized by the ruined lives of the majority of current and future law grads.

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  36. The French example is an interesting one. I will simply note that in France, the "little people" get a hell of a lot more back for their taxes than in the U.S., which is run by a ruling class that has never had to be afraid of the peasants.

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  37. Amen Prof. Campos.

    Have you considered how the serfdom of Law School graduates will impact the economy?

    I am 100K in debt five years out of school. I will not buy a house. I will not have children. All my salary goes to feeding the beast.

    Supposedly, our economy is based on consumer spending. I am a consumer, and I have no income for anything above rice and rent.

    I fear, as I am not a unique case, that the financial reality of my caste is not widely known by financial forecasters. There may never be a "recovery."

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  38. The thing about the selection of tone as a strategy to move the debate is that we aren't going to all agree and people will continue to do what feels right to them. So in some sense this debate is pointless. The discussion is going to continue in both heated and dispassionate tones. And I think something good comes from each. And probably something bad too.

    I imagine that this blog, and maybe even these comments, are being read by people who haven't spent a lot of time reading the scamblogs and are seeing these kinds of reactions for the first time. I think that's good. Even if the reaction is to feel "alienated", I'd still say that's better than the state of obliviousness that preceded it.

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  39. This is a bit off topic, but I have a question that I'm sure somebody here could answer.

    I was fortunate to have gone to a moderately priced law school some years ago and my total debt load is not enough to qualify me for IBR. So, could somebody please explain to me how the program works?

    I understand that they calculate a payment for you based on your debt and income. This payment is subject to increase if your income increases. You pay it for 25 years and then the balance of your loans is forgiven. Am I right so far? Then I'd have two questions:

    1. How bad is the payment?
    2. In the typical case, does IBR apply to all/most of a persons debt? Or just a fraction?

    I ask these because it almost sounds like IBR is a more significant development than people are giving it credit for. If it calculates a reasonable payment and then dumps the excess onto the voters to pay for, it might actually be the start of a solution. Not that the voters deserve to be on the hook, but the government might be inclined to demand some sort of cost control eventually if they keep getting stuck with these huge debt remainders.

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  40. 4:11

    Making around 25k AGI.

    1. Payment is $10 a month on a 168K debt load.
    2. All consolidated federal loans

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  41. "You pay it for 25 years and then the balance of your loans is forgiven."

    Right, except that the amount forgiven is taxable income. This can be a lot of taxable if the required payment is so low that it doesn't even cover interest, and that unpaid interest gets rolled over into the balance each year. There was talk of legislation to change this, so that it wouldn't be taxable income upon discharge, but I don't know what became of that.

    "1. How bad is the payment? 2. In the typical case, does IBR apply to all/most of a persons debt? Or just a fraction?"

    The payment is very reasonable. However, the balance of the debt (which rapidly grows with interest if your required minimum payment is $0) shows up on your credit report, foreclosing any possibility of additional credit. Also, eventually the taxpayers are going to have to make up the cost of this very reasonable payment. IBR only applies to government loans (Stafford, GRAD PLUS) so any private loans or credit cards will not be eligible.

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  42. "Think about this, Army recruiting for enlisted individuals has already satisfied its needs up through Q2 for 2012. Please believe that if they don't need enlisted recruits, they definitely don't need officer recruits, and this is coming from the Army which recruits much, much more than any other branch. Also, there is a quota of only 25% of officers being straight from OCS; other 75% either come from military academies or are people who enlist and then apply to be officers.

    Bottom line, if you're seriously looking at the military as an option, you'll probably have to go enlisted. Also, I believe it might be difficult to be accepted if your loans exceed $150K."

    8/24 at 7:55 PM,

    Right now monthly selection rates for civilian applicants to Army OCS are running aroung 40-50%. This is down from the 90%+ selection rates we saw from 2003-2010, but it is still a pretty good bet. Civilian Army OCS applicants with a better than 3.0 GPA and a good level of physical fitness are in pretty good shape for selection. The overall selection rates can seem daunting to a JD, but people must realize that the cohort from which 40-50% are selected from includes many marginal candidates (on-line degrees, low GPAs, poor physical condition etc.) The Army runs monthly OCS boards for civilian applidcants and these have not stopped - people are getting selected every month.

    Even if one is not selected for active duty OCS, they will probably still be offered an opportunity to attend Army OCS to become an Army Reserve (USAR) officer. This can still be a good bet for an unemployed/underemployed JD graduate. USAR officers make pretty good pay, are eligible for high quality and very inexpensive family health coverage under TRICARE Reserve Select, and alo can work towards a pretty decent defined benefit pension that kicks in at age 60. I am an Army Reserve officer (non-JAG though I have a JD) and I will probably have a pension of $1750-$2000 a month (in 2011 dollars) when I reach age 60. When I hit 65, my wife and I will be eligible for TRICARE For Life and receive the same gold-plated health care/pharmacy benefits as an active duty retiree. There are other benefits. We live in DC and do almost all of our grocery shopping at the Commissary in Silver Spring, MD. We easily save $300-400 a month off our food bill compared to shopping in civilian supermarkets.

    For Reserve officers with JDs, the best benefits are the chance to "recareer" and gain experience in non legal fields as well as build a resume with demonstrated leadership/managerial experience. This can help immensely with non-legal job applications - especially in the Federal sector. Service as a USAR Military Police, Corps of Engineers or Transportation Corps Platoon Leader or Company XO is pretty good experience and the schools and skills that come with this training lend nicely to applications for many positions.

    Enlisting as an E-4 with a JD is a fools errand. As OCS seats get curtailed, the first cuts will be to enlisted, in-service seats - not civilian ones.

    I would go USAR officer before enlisting as an E-4.

    In closing, the OTS/OCS selection rates for the Air Force and Navy are daunting (single digits), but thay have been since 2000 before the economy tanked. The Army is still a fairly good bet.

    www.armyocs.com

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  43. Thanks for the info on IBR. It sounds like its an improvement, but obviously can't cure all of the problems related to having 150K in non-dischargable debt. I hadn't even thought about the credit report. 25 years of bad credit, the entire prime of your life.

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  44. @8:32 p.m./10 p.m.:

    "If you let go of the ad hominems and the us v. them attitude, you might find yourself with some supporters in a position to help. In short, coups are easier than revolutions. And that is the last I will say on this."

    Orin Kerr suggested something similar in comments here two days ago, and I asked him, "How does one 'begin engaging law professors on these issues so law professors become involved'?" He didn't answer, and no other law professors chimed in.

    There is no coherent narrative of improvement for the law school model as we know it, although that won't stop some of us from hypothesizing when the subject comes up. For some reason, Volokh Conspiracy and Prawfsblawg's comments section turn very quickly to the rate of compensation for professors in the new world we envision, which I attribute to the number of law professors posting there and their concerns. As for the dispossessed law graduates, we don't really have any unified front on what form improvements would take, which makes sense - in large part, we aren't practicing law, and have no way of knowing what might have been more helpful to us if we did.

    Thus, I remind law professors at every opportunity that the ABA's Standard 509 Subcommittee is considering revisions to their employment reporting methodology for law schools, and that Law School Transparency (a Tennessee nonprofit founded by two recent Vanderbilt graduates) is arguing for something more complete than the Subcommittee's preliminary report would suggest. If future law students knew the odds against them (to become you, in effect), that a lot of what's wrong would change in response to that simple knowledge. Transparency in employment reporting is by far the least controversial reform being proposed for law schools, and nobody thinks that the present system is anything but misleading.

    Nonetheless, I don't expect to see Paul Caron, Orin Kerr or Ann Althouse making a blog entry supportive of Law School Transparency and its aims. I don't expect to see my Tier 2 alma mater's professors signing a letter to the dean like the one I've already sent, politely asking them to initiate compliance with the anonymous two-list job and salary reporting model even without ABA direction. It is the least thing they could do, and none of them seem willing to do it.

    This is why I don't believe much in law professors as allies, or speaking sweetly to them and the ABA. If a change comes, it won't be because they are moved by their recent graduates' plight. It'll be because a Senate subcommittee hearing on the topic or the publicity surrounding the NYLS/Cooley class actions embarrasses the ABA into doing as little of "the right thing" as they can get away with.

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  45. The day that professors get into a fight with their adminstrations and the ABA over the issue of student loan debt and the lack of jobs, then they can call themselves part of the solution.

    Until then they are part of the problem.

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  46. 8:32 and 10:00 wrote:

    "As for some disgruntled commentators' and scambloggers' decision to attack what I called your natural allies, I like what Orin Kerr said the other day (below). I don't know if you have considered the possibility that some of those "inside" the system or for whom the system has worked might share some of your criticisms."

    Professors are NOT natural allies of indebted and jobless students. It is in their interest to keep law schools as they are, because that's how they butter their bread. Based on their interests, they are actually the exact opposite - the natural enemies of such students. Sure, some have a conscience that they place above their pocketbook, but that is rare.

    You call yourself a litigator 8:32/10:00? That's how you would advise and represent your client? You would tell them to grovel for assistance from the exact party whose interests lie in screwing them over? Yeah that'll work.

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  47. I wonder if online law schools (Concord Law School is the only one I know of) could pose the kind of value-for-money competition that second-tier and lower first-tier schools need in order to bring their tuition into line with reality? The biggest problem facing the online-school model seems to be ABA accreditation. Concord doesn't have it, but (according to its website) a Concord JD is at least recognized by the CA bar examiners.

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  48. Exactly 6:47, if the ABA would step aside and allow the accreditation of more inexpensive law schools, the cost of a "TTT" degree would drop to match its value on the market. You could get a JD for $10,000 of tuition, studying at home.

    But the ABA apparently only wants to accredit very expensive TTTs.

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  49. Wouldn't one obvious improvement be to reduce law school from 3 years to 2 years? Is there any person who can argue with a straight face that the third year of law school is important to the academic or practical development of future attorneys? It's not a panacea but it would have a real impact on the financial cost of law school. The third year is the soft underbelly of the law school regime. It seems to me that if the large cohort of disgruntled law students and underemployed graduates united behind this easily stated and understood goal, they would put law school administrators and faculty in a corner defending the indefensible, while accomplishing an important public service in reducing the cost of legal education. The problem with the transparency fight is that it is easily co-opted by technical statistical arguments and it questions the integrity of many decent people by indiscriminately using the "scam" and "fraud" epithets. Yeah, it is a scam and and a fraud, but ground your arguments on facts and reason rather than emotion, and you might effect a real change.

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  50. 7:40, that's a solution that would reduce tuition, but it would effectively increase the number of law schools and law school graduates by 50%. So no, that won't cure the mismatch between the number of graduates pumped out by law schools and the number of legal jobs available on the market.

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  51. "Yeah, it is a scam and and a fraud, but ground your arguments on facts and reason rather than emotion, and you might effect a real change."

    That goes both ways. Professors and law school administrations don't need to get so emotional when asked to give up some money, and they don't need to get so emotional when someone rightfully and factually calls them vermin thieves.

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  52. Wouldn't one obvious improvement be to reduce law school from 3 years to 2 years?

    Yes.

    "Is there any person who can argue with a straight face that the third year of law school is important to the academic or practical development of future attorneys?"

    I've known litigators who could argue with a straight face that their mothers were virgins, but other than that, no.

    I went to a conference on law school reform last year, and in a room with more than 100 law professors from all sorts of schools there wasn't a single one who was willing to support the proposition that the third year of law school was worth its cost.

    "The problem with the transparency fight is that it is easily co-opted by technical statistical arguments and it questions the integrity of many decent people by indiscriminately using the 'scam' and 'fraud' epithets. Yeah, it is a scam and and a fraud, but ground your arguments on facts and reason rather than emotion, and you might effect a real change."

    "If the world were rational, nothing would ever happen." -- Dostoyevsky --

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  53. "Wouldn't one obvious improvement be to reduce law school from 3 years to 2 years? Is there any person who can argue with a straight face that the third year of law school is important to the academic or practical development of future attorneys? It's not a panacea but it would have a real impact on the financial cost of law school."

    Yes, 3d year is a waste and should be eliminated. People who want further schooling could use that time to get LLMs. Granted, getting rid of the 3d year won't help the oversupply problem, but those coming out will have a lot less debt to contend with.

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  54. I'm sorry, this whole "eliminate the third year of law school" solution causes me to have to ask - is the entire problem with legal academia due to the fact that lawyers can't do math?

    Eliminating the third year of law school will allow law schools to increase "production" by 50%. In terms of its effect on the supply and demand for lawyers, it would be like opening 100 more law schools! What is wrong with you people? If grads can't get jobs now, how will the situation be when you're pumping out 50% more grads into the market?

    Sure that solution would reduce tuition from $150,000 to $100,000, but do you think unemployed graduates are going to complain less because they only owe $135,000 instead of owing $200,000? (I added living expenses).

    Please, end this "end the third year of law school" idea right now. It has absolutely no merit whatsoever. It will actually make things much worse.

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  55. Continuing, some mathematically correct (i.e. stuff that will actually work) solutions include:

    1. Reduce enrollment (either by shutting down law schools or across the board cuts) until the supply of lawyers matches the demand for lawyers. Under this scenario, an unemployed lawyer would be an anomily.

    2. Reduce tuitions to match the earning power of graduates. Here you will still have as many graduates, but those from lower ranked schools will pay much lower tuition to match with their expected earning power. In this case, you wouldn't have TTT graduates complaining of $200,000 of debt because they would only have paid $10,000 of tuition for all three years.

    3. Eliminate federally guaranteed and federally provided student loans. This will force lenders to seriously assess the worth of a law degree before making the loan, thus causing some schools to have to either go out of business or reduce tuition.

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  56. @7:40 a.m.:

    "The problem with the transparency fight is that it is easily co-opted by technical statistical arguments and it questions the integrity of many decent people by indiscriminately using the "scam" and "fraud" epithets. Yeah, it is a scam and and a fraud, but ground your arguments on facts and reason rather than emotion, and you might effect a real change."

    As I see it, NALP and the schools already collect most of the information required for the transparency regime that I would like to see in place. The cost of collecting the rest would amount to the extra ink and extra piece of paper necessary for a slightly expanded questionnaire. Likewise, I don't believe that a different sort of spreadsheet for employment reporting will have a non-trivial cost.

    To convince law schools and the ABA that __ credits aren't necessary to graduate and 3L can just go away, you will have to fight against the fact that 3L represents a massive amount of money to these schools. Transparency is the path of least resistance, although it's not the same as saying that there will be little or none.

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  57. 4. (I don't like this solution) Would be to lower the bar passage rate until the supply of lawyers matches the demand. This is what many other countries do. In other countries, everyone and their uncle gets to study the law, but only 5-10% of bar takers are allowed to pass the bar and call themselves laywers. I don't like this idea for obvious reasons but it's another solution.

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  58. 8:10 here.

    Actually, to be technically correct, eliminating the third year would increase "capacity" by 50% but not necessarily "production." If there aren't enough additional 0Ls to fill that excess capacity, a number of interesting things could happen including the possibility that some law schools will have to go out of business. Regardless, it wouldn't help the job situation since the number of graduates would not decrease. It wouldn't help with the debt situation either because even 2 years would still be very expensive.

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  59. "Sure that solution would reduce tuition from $150,000 to $100,000, but do you think unemployed graduates are going to complain less because they only owe $135,000 instead of owing $200,000? (I added living expenses)."

    They may not complain less, but they'd still be $65k better off (and will have spent one less year out of the work force).

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  60. Voodoo,

    Don't they still do direct commissions into the army or did they get rid of that?

    Also, you forgot to mention MI which is probably one of the fields where it is easiest to transition into govt or contractor work. Once you get the TS you're gold.

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  61. On the IBR thing, can't you just file for bankruptcy 3 years after the debt is discharged? I know it's hard to get rid of tax debt but I think after a few years you can.

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  62. Do not moderate. Do not sugarcoat. Professors and Administrators need to hear the truth, in all of its hideous, venomous, cancerous beauty. They need to understand that the rage and the despair is real. Your comparisons to the French Revolution are apt, because only when the torches and pitchforks were at the door did the aristocracy scream (too late) "reform!" Profs and administrators need to have the blinders ripped - painful though it may be - from their eyes and stare at what they've created: an educated mass of people who are out of the money on the American dream, who consider suicide regularly, and feel like they have absolutely nothing left to lose. An angry young man or woman with nothing left to lose is far more dangerous than any gun or bomb.

    That, my friends, is a tinderbox, and trying to dismiss such talk as "Virgina Tech-y" simply brings the pitchforks that much closer.

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  63. "You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I'll tell you what his 'pinions is."
    -Mark Twain

    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"
    -Upton Sinclair

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  64. 8:57,

    The Army does not direct commission active duty officers outside of JAG, Chaplains and the Health Professions. The Army Reserve unfortunately had a direct commission program for basic branch (e.g. MP, Engineer, MI) officers but it appears the days of this program are numbered. IMHO, Good Riddance. Given the OPTEMPO over the past decade, USAR Engineer, MP and Transporation officers have deployed and faced the same dangers as their active duty peers. It is unconscionable that the USAR leadership would launch a program out of desperation that would produce officers to lead soldiers in combat with 22 weeks LESS practical training (BCT and OCS) than their Regular Army or USAR peers produced through OCS, ROTC and USMA. To those thinking of a USAR non JAG/Medical/Chaplain direct commission (if it is even still available to civilians), reevaluate your thinking!!! You owe yourself, and more importantly, the soldiers whose lives are placed in your hands, a willingness to get the best training available. This means no short cuts around BCT and OCS. Branch OBC/BOLC will not prepare you sufficiently for service as a platoon leader in a deployed environment.

    It is very hard to find an MI LT slot in the Army Reserve right now. There are slots here and there, but they are coveted (for many of the reasons you suggest). The USAR has thousands of LT and Captain vacancies, but very few open MI LT slots. They are coveted by ROTC grads going into the USAR.

    I hope this helps.

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  65. I'm a solo practitioner who graduated in the 80's with manageable debt and am fortunate enough to have a practice niche that allows me to make a good living. So, personally, I have no complaints along those lines [though I do agree with most of the critiques of law school, law school "scholarship", etc.].

    I did, however, spend several hours recently convincing [I hope] my nephew and his girlfriend, both recent college grads working in entry-level social service jobs, not to apply to law school with the help of some of LawProf's other writings and the scamblogs.

    As an undergrad sociology major, I wanted to point out the central fallacy of trying to organize an alliance between students and law professors. It is absolutely not in the interest of the professors to do so. As others have pointed out, the profs make the salaries and enjoy the benefits they do only because of the tuition paid by the students.

    Moreover, it is painfully obvious that the long-term solution to the problems oftoo-many new lawyers and the dubious value of actual law school teaching lies in some combination of eliminating excess capacity [i.e., closing law schools] and re-imagining legal education. Both of these solutions mean that there will be fewer, perhaps many fewer, law school professor jobs and, as the supply of professors relative to demand will increase, salaries will naturally go down [or, at least, not increase as much].

    Given this, why the hell is it in the interest of law school professors to ally themselves with students in this crusade? Not gonna happen.

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  66. The idea of eliminating the entire third year of law school makes sense when one views it as a lowered expense. Lessen the investment and the required salary to repay one's student loans also diminishes. I don't know how comfortable I am with where the line of thought necessarily goes - more attorneys doing work for less money all around. Cutting the pie into more pieces. I have seen some interesting arguments (the libertarian concepts, if you will) that suggest lowered regulation, or lowered barriers to enter into the market for providing legal service, creates a better value for the consumer. As the consumer is society itself, is that not a positive outcome worth pursuing?

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  67. I see agree with accrediting super cheap law schools, perhaps of the online variety, if your goal was to screw over law graduates with astronomical debts even more.

    What about those who have already paid $100,000 for their JDs? The cheap online law schools will churn out more students who have paid a fraction of what others have paid for the degree. Those who paid $100,000 have to charge more for their services than someone who pays 10,000. The graduates who paid more will get slaughtered in competition with those who can charge less. Let's face it, for most consumer legal services, the consumer will go with whoever charges the least amount.

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  68. This comparison is insane. I have no problem if you want to get worked up about bankers making millions, or law firm partners firing associates while taking home record profits, or multinational tax cheats. But law profs making 120 or 150K per year?

    You're simply crazy to compare salaries at that level to the thousands of households in the US making millions each year from labor exploitation, environmental devastation, and sweetheart deals. Find the CEOs or million-dollar men at these places:

    --payday loan companies
    --too big to fail banks
    --mortgage scams
    --toxic chemical plants
    --oil extractors with sweetheart gov't deals
    --outsourcers who pay slave wages abroad
    --cable companies who've captured the FCC
    --private prison companies
    --retailers busting unions and forcing overtime off the clock

    In case you haven't noticed, the US economy has lots of exploitation going on. Some people are making low six figures off it--others are raking in orders of magnitude more money, and buying off politicians to boot.

    Real law profs are taking on all these things...rather than complaining about how little law professors do. Please, get a sense of priorities. You obviously hate a lot of people you've gotten to know in the legal academy...but the parochialism of these rants is getting embarrassing.

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  69. Well I did say *minor* aristocrats.

    Also, as I suspect 2:59 knows full well, there are law faculties on which every tenure-track professor makes more than 150K, and some make more than double that.

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  70. @ David Frazer:

    First, I'm happy to hear that you're not a recent law graduate but that you're also not entirely blinded by arrogance or ignorance (or both) such that you don't know what's happening or prefer to turn a blind eye to it. I'm also happy you've convinced some potential law school applicants to take a different route.

    That's all fantastic to hear. Also, though, I just want to raise the possibility (in disagreement with you, I suppose) that one reason the law school professors - at least those who are enlightened - might want to make allies with those of us who have lost lots (it not everything) to law school debt, is that it avoids a greater collapse for them in the future. If I'm being cynical, yes, law professors coming to us and admitting that there is a problem, that they're largely responsible for it and that something needs to be done about it (and what can we do about it?) does sort of short-circuit the rage. But if that were to happen, even if it's so that they can avoid a complete meltdown, say, 5-7 years from now, who am I to complain? What's absolutely assured is that unless something changes and fairly quickly, they're going to find themselves right next to be in the bread line. At that point, yes, I will be one of those who has worked in some minor way very intentionally to drop whatever destruction I can encourage to be dropped on them, and I won't feel bad for it; but if they show up saying, "Let's fix this, and let's get it right", then saying no to it would just run the risk of delegitimizing the very legitimate complaints I (and many of those in my same position) have.

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  71. @8:59:

    Re: filing for bankruptcy after the debt is discharged - I don't know. Good point. I suppose it's possible to discharge a tax bill. That said, I'll be like between 50 and 60 or something, so still pretty much blows.

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  72. "This comparison is insane. I have no problem if you want to get worked up about bankers making millions, or law firm partners firing associates while taking home record profits, or multinational tax cheats. But law profs making 120 or 150K per year?"

    --------------------

    Absolutely not. Law firm partners work their asses off. They are destroyed by the stress of their jobs. They have real bosses and clients and demands and deadlines and pressure. Law professors with tenure no longer have any boss, and they live in an idyllic and cush bubble that doesn't exist anywhere else. Say what you want about law firm partners, but no one accuses them of scamming their customers. You think your law firm lied to you about something to trick you into hiring them? That's a very easy lawsuit in court.

    You're just looking for excuses to feel comfortable about your cush law professor salary. "Oh well I'm not a Rockefeller or, I'm not a trust fund baby who drives a Ferrari or, I'm not the Monopoly Guy . . ." Yes there are real and fictional people who are free loading more than tier 2/3/4 law professors, but that doesn't excuse anything.

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  73. 4:36: I don't subscribe to your distinction. I think that the only meaningful distinction is by whom the complainants feel cheated. Those posting on this blog feel that law school and law professors defrauded them, so their ire and rhetoric is directed against professors. I remember how the ex-BigLaw associates fired in 2009 sounded when (by 2010) the partners who fired them were taking home strong profits, giving out hours/merit bonuses to the remaining associates, and hiring new law students. Those associates felt betrayed/lied to/deceived/cheated by the law firm partners who had recruited them with promises of a certain lifestyle and income when they were in law school, then thrown them under the bus to save their own profit. Their rhetoric was no less seething than the rhetoric of the scambloggers and their sympathizers. And, having observed their tirades "from the outside," I honestly don't think they felt any less scammed than the scambloggers.

    This is not intended as either defense or indictment of either law firm partners and law professors. (I am neither: I am a government lawyer with a five-figure salary who is still within my first few years out of law school.) It is merely an observation that the newest and/or least credentialed lawyers in the legal profession will always be the most vulnerable; more senior lawyers (whether they are called "professors," "partners," or something else) will not consistently champion the interests of junior lawyers over their own; and those junior lawyers (whether always-unemployed, recently terminated, or even just employed and feeling exploited) will at times resort to the language of betrayal and trickery to describe their experiences. And there will be some degree of accuracy to those descriptions, though not (to my dispassionate/observer's eyes) 100% accuracy.

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  74. This is an incredibly impertinent question, but heregoes. I have come to believe that solid understanding of the law and the history of U.S. law is indispensable for deeply engaged citizenry in our late Republic here (e.g. it concerns all citizens directly that either a) the federal government has the power to mandate we buy health insurance, and has just done so or b) the federal government does not have that power). I would also consider the possibility of a legal career if I thought investment in law school was a sound one. I'm not sure there can be any doubt, after reading this blog however, that it is not. What, then, would those people who have obtained degrees in law suggest for ordinary, college-educated citizens who might in a better world be candidates for law school, as an alternative course to pursue a grounding in American law and the salient questions of its history for contemporary citizenship, given that pursuing law school for only that nonpecuniary reason is rather clearly the errand of a certified fool in the present environment?

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  75. Michael - you just gave another basic reason why law schools are such scams. It is more than just a scam revolving around money...it prevents people from practicing law. In what world is paying $35 thou a year for three years to get an education that barely equips you to practice law while keeping everyone else out a healthy situation for a society?

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  76. Michael -- If you're a reader, there are some excellent books on law and legal history aimed at the general reader. Lawrence Friedman's History of American Law is great (I read it when considering whether to go to law school). I've heard good things about Law 101.

    If "auditory" learning is more your style, try checking out adult education courses in your area. Law for the non-lawyer courses (under various names) are fairly common.

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  77. Also -- for understanding specific provisions of the Constitution, The Heritage Guide to the Constitution is unbeatable.

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  78. Thank you for the suggestions.

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