Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My son the lawyer

There's an old Jewish joke (it appears in Portnoy's Complaint)  about a woman running down a Florida beach and shouting "Help, my son the doctor is drowning!"  This joke wouldn't work at all if the son were an accountant or a businessman, let alone a policeman or a plumber. It would work -- although given the ubiquity of lawyer jokes in a somewhat ironic way -- if the son were a lawyer.  (Note how a businessman who flourishes in his trade is invariably described as "a successful businessman" while by contrast nobody ever refers to "a successful doctor", and only rarely to "successful" lawyers. That's because a doctor, unlike a businessman, is considered a social success simply by being a doctor).

While there's no question that in America today more social prestige attaches to doctors than to lawyers, doctors and lawyers are the two most commonly cited professions when people speak in an offhand way about social mobility in general, and more specifically about the relationship between educational opportunity and the American dream, so-called (if you type "a doctor or" into Google, the first auto-fill will be "a lawyer.")

There's a good deal of cultural cachet attached to the social identity of the lawyer, or more pompously "the attorney at law," which helps explains an internet thread like this one.  Executive summary: philosophy major with 3.8 GPA and bad LSAT score wants to know if he should go to Michigan State Law School ($36K annual tuition) if he wants to be a Chicago lawyer, or go to a currently lower-rated local law school (John Marshall, $40K) instead, given that in either case he can graduate debt-free. It turns out he can graduate debt-free because "my family is incredibly eager to see their only child+only grandson become a hot-shot lawyer. They do not understand the state of the legal profession, and no matter what horror story I tell them about the legal profession, they simply do not care."

In other words, somebody with a 60th percentile LSAT score and no apparent reason to go to law school beyond the realization that an undergrad degree in philosophy isn't particularly sought after on the job market at the moment is asking whether he ought to in all likelihood light $150K of his family's money on fire. He is advised against this particular course of action, but he's clearly finding it difficult to take that advice:

The one notion that still throws me off is how accessible information is about the "law school scam", and how so many people still attend law school. It makes me think the scam blogs represent those that simply couldn't hack law school, or are socially inept and simply couldn't interview. This is not meant to offend anyone, I'm just trying to gain a better understanding of the information available.
 I don't blame this kid -- and he does come off as a woefully naive young person, i.e., under present circumstances an ideal law school applicant -- for being confused.   "Everybody" knows that lawyers make lots of money and have interesting, sexy, high-status jobs. That's why this kid's family will spend six figures to send him to law school, when they would almost certainly consider the idea of just giving him $150,000 as seed money for living life as an adult to be a completely irresponsible thing to do.  Which, again under the present circumstances, seems more than a little ironic.

91 comments:

  1. Two comments.

    1. The above is why law schools publish these fraudulent statistics. This student is not sure what to do. On the one hand, he has the media reports. On the other hand, he has pressure from his parents and the imaginary but possible hypothesis that those who feel "scammed" by law school were the exception. What to do? What do do? Then he sees that NYLS publishes a 99% employed with median private sector salary of $150,000. This pushes his throught process into the "go to law school" category.

    2. %170,000 from your parents can, in many ways, be much more harmful than $170,000 in government loans. With the latter, you f*ck over the taxpayers. With the former, you drain your parents of desperately needed retirement savings.

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  2. So there has been a lot of discussion here about confronting professors directly with the law school "scam." Well Professor Lawrence Lessig of Stanford law did a Q&A on Reddit yesterday which I noticed this morning. Most of the questions were from non-lawyers and it came across as a circle-jerk of how awesome he was for the work he did. I kicked myself for not seeing it when he posted but went ahead and asked him this question (which I accidentally deleted):

    "Would have loved to hear if you were doing anything (probably not) about the debt slavery you academics are profiting off of."

    This is his response:

    "alas, there are other forms of slavery (e.g., with people who don't make multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars) that are more in my focus."

    Yes, he actually said this. - the entire exchange here:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/md61v/i_am_law_professor_and_activist_lawrence_lessig/c308e4w

    I responded quickly because I wanted to make sure he read the full force of my response, so not my best and poorly edited but I gave him my best shot. Im still waiting for a response.

    If any of you want to give a big shot in legal academia a piece of your mind here is your shoot to do it publicly.

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  3. ...also, the law school I listed is of the same rank but different as is my graduation year (to hide my identity), but I used my actual firm.

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  4. The problem with Lessig is that most Stanford Law grads probably do make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

    But good response to him.

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  5. Pwned

    [–]JollyCoppersOnParade 1 point 1 hour ago

    That was perfectly expressed and completely predictable. You really think you're the cat's meow, don't you? Why don't you do this professor, take care of your "industry", you know, the people you directly profit from. Oh wait, you're too busy saving the world, right? What an awesome guy!


    (e.g., with people who don't make multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars)

    Are you seriously this misinformed? Perhaps at Stanford but are you aware of the employment rate at most schools? Are you aware that most law students end up with 6 figures of debt and very little in job prospects? Are you aware that almost every school lies about their employment statistics? That the ABA covers this up?

    And even if they "make multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars" (they don't) why should you profit off of it? Law school does not prepare its students for being a working a lawyer and it barely prepares them to pass the bar (have you ever heard of BarBri, professor? Why do you think it exists?) Law schools only serves as a place for clueless academics to pontificate and add very little value to the world. So please let me know why you should be profiting off the backs of poor students who aren't even prepared properly?

    Are you aware of the difference in tuition from 30 years ago? Have you never asked yourself why? No, of course not...you're too busy saving the world. Why would one ask such impertinent questions? And how much debt did you leave law school with, professor?

    Oh thats right, you're saving the world. Well I hope you're enjoying your happy little life in your ivory tower while the generations below you suffer from the action and inaction of people like you. I hope you're really proud that you directly profit from it.

    And now you can excuse this rant from what you most definitely will characterize as a "a bitter unemployed attorney." FYI - NYU class of 2008, Skadden 3rd year. I can afford this transfer of wealth from me to you, most of my friends cannot.

    Sleep well, professor.

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  6. My comment:

    Professor Lessig,

    They say to clean your own house before preaching to others. What are your thoughts on the "law school scam?" In case readers do not know, the law school scam referes to the practice by non-elite law schools (roughly the lower 180 of the nation's 200 law schools) whereby they intentionally lie about their ability to place students, to lure naive college graduates into borrowing federal student loan money to attend.

    We're talking huge dollars here. Ever year law schools get billions of bad loans, funded by the taxpayers (if the government didn't make and guaranty these loans, no bank would because these loans won't be paid back.)

    The students attend because the schools post a "99% employed with a median salary of $160,000 if you go into the private sector and $60,000 if you go into government law" statistic. However, this statistic is a blatant lie. It's based on a sample of 20% of graduates - 20% who do not represent the entire population. What happens to the others? Part-time work, Starbucks barista and so on. Then when the law schools get sued (three law schools - Cooley, New York Law School and Thomas Jefferson School of law have been sued) they state that they are immunized from allegations of fraud, because they report the statistics in the way that the ABA allows. The ABA is an agency made up of people like Lessig.

    I know what you're thinking now - If most law school grads work at low paying non-legal jobs, then what happens to their $170,000 in law school student loans? JOKES ON YOU TAXPAYERS BECAUSE UNDER OBAMA'S "INCOME BASED REPAYMENT" PROGRAM THEY DON'T HAVE TO PAY A DIME UNTIL THEY GET A HIGH PAYING JOB, I.E. NEVER! I HAVE OVER $200,000 IN STUDENT LOANS AND I HAVE NOT PAID A PENNY. EVERY YEAR I FILL OUT A FORM STATING THAT I MAKE $15,000 AND THE GOVERNMENT PICKS UP THE TAB FOR MY WORTHLESS DEGREE.

    In summary, every year law schools fraudulently steal billions of dollars in taxpayers money and ruin kids lives by doing so. Why do law schools graduate 50,000 students each year when there are only 10,000 to 20,000 new legal jobs per year? MONEY, GREED, CORRUPTION, OPPORTUNISM, ALL THE THINGS THE HYPOCRITE LESSIG CRITICIZES.

    Lessig, fix your own house first before preaching to others. You are a member of one of the most despicable and theiving enterprises in existence.

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  7. Ugh, I hate to be the one who says this because it's totally justified how hot these commenters are about this issue.

    But if you're interacting directly with someone and actually intend to change their mind, remember that it's much easier to write off someone as a crank if they make sweeping denunciations with inflammatory rhetoric. Lessig probably won't respond, or if he does it'll be as glib as his prior response, and the peanut gallery will judge the rant as coming from a crazy person.

    Better off to be more dispassionate, even on the Internet. Though I would desperately love to see Lessig get bogged down in fighting this out, it might be really important for making people aware of how problematic the current higher-ed model is.

    Good luck and godspeed.

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  8. btw. ABA accredited law schools graduate about 45k and there are about 25k new jobs available each year. But yeah, fuck that douchebag nobody is changing his mind, let that old fuck have it, you know he will read even if he does not respond.

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  9. Tiercelet,
    Those are your idiotic and wrong opinions, which are completely out of tune with American culture. Feel free to write your own comment, in your style. But in America we speak boldly.

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  10. "btw. ABA accredited law schools graduate about 45k and there are about 25k new jobs available each year."

    No it's over 50,000 and 10,000 *real* new jobs per year is probably high, at least in this economy.

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  11. http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/md61v/i_am_law_professor_and_activist_lawrence_lessig/c309sm5

    ReplyDelete
  12. Something else to note about Lessig:

    Look at how many posts he has on this website....must be nice to be able to have a job where you can post at all hours of the day, including work hours....goes to show how much professors DON'T work.

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  13. Lawprof:

    I agree that this potential applicant is naive and deluded, and that his/her employment prospects after graduating from a low ranked law school will be dim.

    But what else is there for him/her to do? The large catch-alls where kids like this used to find meaningful employment and a path to the middle class (e.g. factories if this is a guy, clerical work if it is a lady) are over. There are no prospects there now.

    Is this kid just supposed to sit there, accept that he/she will never be in the middle class, and plow ahead with demeaning, low end clown collar work?

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  14. 10:24,

    He can get an entry level job making $10/hour. He can become a paralegal to see if he even likes the law. He can enter one of hundreds of other graduate programs. That's what. If schools would publish honest career placement numbers, he could have the information he needs to make the right choice.

    There are thousands of other choices.

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  15. @ 10:24:

    Really?!?!?!?

    No....he could start a business, pursue a dream, who knows. After all, what is the point of taking on the debt by going to law school when there are largely no prospects either. Oh wait, I forgot, his family is FOOTING the bill. So...I guess he will only waste his time.


    The money could be used to start a business, or buy a business....again, the possibilities are endless. The notion of going to law school because of "what else is there for him/her to do" is a recipe for failure. Why? Nobody should go to law school unless they want to be a lawyer. In order to know this, a person should shadow a lawyer for six months before even applying to law school.

    I think many people go to college and graduate school because they fall into the trap of not knowing what to do. They are also indoctrinated into believing that college and grad school is the (only) answer. If a person opens their eyes, they will realize that there are opportunities, you just have to think outside the box. They are there....I think.

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  16. Additionally...you don't need business school to start a business. The best way to learn about business is to fricking start one. Be a little reckless, take a risk, if you fail, unlike fucking student loans, you can file BK and start over.

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  17. I think Tiercelet has a good point about tone. I'm as angry as anyone, but this blog has become a source of vital news and discussion on the state of legal education and the professional generally. For it to continue that way and not morph into another Autoadmit, we need to engaged in some thoughtful self-censorship. It's easy to write us off as the unemployable few rather then the un-and-underemployed many if we sound as though we aren't educated and professional.

    On the Lessing note, the man has seemingly done a great deal for others. While I wish he'd turn his attention to the problem of the profession for which he is paid to prepare students, I think I would be more constructive to engage him than attack him.

    Prof. Lessing, I personally did not go to law school to get rich. I wanted to serve the public and to ensure an upper-middle class lifestyle. I was prepared to exchange three more years of education, massive opportunity costs, and a great deal of mental labor for economic security. I chose a law school based on the costs of attendance weighed against its rank and job numbers. My school did not claim 99% employment but many others have. This encourages consumers, relying on fraudulent data, to flood the market with new attorneys, driving down living standards for those that are employed and causing deep emotional scarring as those of us who are not employed. We blame ourselves and suffer under the weight of a debt-load that we were led to believe would be manageable given the employment data we were presented. Tens of thousands of young attorneys, members of your profession, are suffering largely in silence while our national guild appears to do nothing while empowering law schools to continue to take advantage of us as consumers and undermine us as workers. As a man who has long fought for human dignity, I implore you to take a hard look at the state of legal education and the employment problems that plague young attorneys. Thank you for your time and any assistance that you can provide us.

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  18. 10:36

    What in the name of God does "start a business" mean? "Starting a business" is a meaningless phrase that serves as a placeholder unless you're specifying exactly what the business does. The kid has a degree in philosophy; is he going to start a philosophizing business?

    10:29: None of that is a way to live in the middle class, and paralegal positions are going to be subject to offshoring pressure in the very near future.

    Young people "don't know what to do" because, outside of the professions, there's almost nothing for them to do. The right wing shipped our manufacturing jobs overseas, and a combination of unfair trade agreements and automation (driven by supply-side economic policies) has shipped many of our clerical jobs away. There's almost nothing out there; sure, philosopher will probably fail if he goes to a T2 law school, but he'll probably fail if he doesn't, too.

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  19. Right 10:36, I forgot that it was family and not federal student loan money paying for it. Then yes - you're right - that would be a really bad idea because for about that price he can open e.g. a subway shop, or partner up with some others and open a shop.

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  20. Can Tiercelet and the other person commenting on tone please provide quotes of statements where they disagreed with what was said, or the way it was said?

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  21. "10:29: None of that is a way to live in the middle class, and paralegal positions are going to be subject to offshoring pressure in the very near future."

    Right, but law school is the way to live in the middle class, because being unemployed and living at home where your parents scream at you about wasting their $170,000 of retirement nest-egg is so middle class.

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  22. Well let's all agree on one thing that is irrefutable - his parents should put the $150k into a trust or in the least into his bank account, and he should take out federal loans to fund law school.

    That way, if he doesn't have a job upon graduation he can go on IBR (which only looks at income, not net worth).

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  23. http://studentloansblog.nextstudent.com/2011/11/15/hedge-fund-investor-offers-student-loan-facts-and-advice-to-college-students/

    Interesting angle from the investors who trade student loan products.

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  24. I'd like to second the notion that "start a business" is not an alternative to get excited about. Most people have no idea how to do that and most people who try to do that fail. I think the question of realistic alternatives is an important one. I can't believe that white collar work isn't still plentiful. I see so much of it going on all around me. I just have no idea what any of it is.

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  25. "Law schools can be a sucker’s bet for investors in periods of high unemployment, in part because law schools outnumber other professional schools. Students who enroll in law schools to wait out economic soft patches create an excess supply of lawyers, many of whom are underemployed or unemployed after graduation and are more likely to default on their expensive student loans than graduates of other professional programs. According to the American Bar Association, law students borrow an average of $68,827 to attend public universities and $106,249 to attend private universities."

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  26. "Law schools can be a sucker’s bet . . ."

    Sigh. It's sad because it's true.

    But can we all agree that if you have $150,000, that you should still borrow to attend law school so you can game the IBR subsidy while keeping your cash? I just want to build concensus on one seemingly obvious strategy.

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  27. I don't see the big problem with this "naive" kid and his dilemma.

    His so-called "problem" is not the problem that everyone is in a rage about.

    1) He will not be taking on crushing debt to go to law school
    2) He AND his parents would not have him going in unaware of the state of the job market and the inaccurate employment numbers

    Here you have someone who can afford to go (I suppose), and his parents don't care about what he tells them about the employment situation.

    There is no fraud here...there is just a potentially poor choice by someone going in with their eyes wide-enough open.


    Avor

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  28. Avor - also why "transparency" will do very little in swaying a 22 year-old from this mess, even when his parents aren't paying for it. We need to focus on the $$$ and student loans.

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  29. I disagree. See 8:09AM. The mind takes in a lot of information when making a decision, and the fraudulent statistics published by law school is one very persuasive and often determinative bit of info. Had NYLS, for example, published their true job placement numbers the student's decision would be very different.

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  30. 1:12, have you written the ABA on the new Standard 510 regarding student loans? The deadline is Nov. 17. http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2011/11/abas-proposed-new-standard-for.html

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  31. @1:15...what does that have to do with what legal academics should concentrate on? Stay on topic.

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  32. Because 1:12 said his concern was student loans, and the ABA is accepting comments on revisions to Standard 510 - which deals with student loans. Nothing could be any more related to his comment.

    My question is, did he/you write the ABA - during a period when they are soliciting comment on the topic of student loans - to share his thoughts on student loans, or not?

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  33. @1:14 - the info is just a few google clicks away. Hasn't deterred all the people that it should, i.e. ANYONE who applies to law school outside of the top 5.

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  34. No it's not a couple of google clicks away. The critiques of law school can all be reduced to whining, because the critics don't have many hard numbers. Meanwhile, directly on NYLS's website are hard statistics that contradict the naysayers.

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  35. @1;19...which has nothing to do with criticism of what those in charge should be trying to reform. I see you troll these boars with that same dopey question. Why don't you just let people criticize?

    I also agree with OWS, are my criticisms of it not valid because I disagree with tactics? Because I don't write to my congressman.

    Writing a comment to the ABA is like farting in the wind. HAve you not paid attention to how it operates? Now kindly STFU.

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  36. I did a google search. Results two clicks away:

    https://www.google.com/search?aq=f&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=law+school+employment

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  37. I see a lot of results there that contradict each other.

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  38. "Writing a comment to the ABA is like farting in the wind."

    Right, but commenting anonymously is powerful.

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  39. Right, but I'm not advising one or the other genius.

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  40. "I see a lot of results there that contradict each other."

    Enough to see that there is a major problem. Welcome to the internet. Hell, welcome to scholarship.

    If you ignore all that than you will likely ignore published stats. But wharves, keep pretending you're accomplishing something.

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  41. "If you ignore all that than you will likely ignore published stats."

    That's not how the mind works. The world is filled with contradictory information and the mind works by assigning credibility to various bits of information and then making a decision. Published hard numerical statistics by the school whom you respect and trust enough to attend are very persuasive and will tilt decisions.

    If you don't think transparency matters, then why do you care so much about the topic? It doesn't matter, so stop posting your thoughts about it and move on to discussing something that does matter.

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  42. A major problem given the contradicting information is the reliance on the USNWR and schools' own publish employment data. We are supposed to be able to rely on those sources. While other sources may contradict them, the average consumer of education will rely on those two sources over most others given the prestige of the source and the expectation of good faith reporting. Until those numbers are more transparent and actually truthworthy, no amount of other information is going to affect the average 22-25 year old looking at law school.

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  43. OK. Lets concentrate on transparency that clueless college grads will rarely access when a simple google search will reveal all you need to know, instead of reforming the actual amount of $$$ that schools get through non-dischargeable loans. Hmmm....which part is more important? Are you swing that with the published true stats students STILL should be bilked for $30- $50 grand a pop per year?? What exactly are your priorities?

    If you are serious about going to law school and fail to research the topic then you will not be researching a school's published report. This whole exercise smacks of just continuing the game of monty.

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  44. And why are you wasting your time here anyway? Shouldn't you be posting all these comments with the ABA?

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  45. "This thing that I post about all day, obsessively, doesn't matter."

    "Don't you understand?! It doesn't matter. That's why it's all I think and post about."

    "I obsess on this topic to show you that it's an irrelevant thing that no one should pay attention too!"

    What an idiot.

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  46. Shit, I only posted 100 times today about how transparency doesn't matter. Do you think it's enough to get people to stop talking about transparency? Because it doesn't matter.
    Transparency. Transparency. Transparency.

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  47. hahahah...failure in basic logic. Wow, we get some major simpletons here.

    "Posting about tuition and non-dischargeable loans and that we should concentrate on that instead of transparency, for reasons listed."

    does not equate with:

    "Posting all day about transparency."

    You try really really hard to stifle criticism with asinine logic....and again, shouldn't you be over at the ABA posting comments?

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  48. @2:24 - you're the guy who didn't understand what compounded interest was aren't you?

    I'm starting to recognize your work. Crazy, shrill and illogical.

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  49. Another thread derailed by the "you don't know what compound interest is" loon.

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  50. Yea, its you. You ruin this comment board with your craziness. Next will be, Bro comments.

    Take meds. Get off the internet. Accept differing opinions. Understand basic logic. Get a job.

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  51. "A major problem given the contradicting information is the reliance on the USNWR and schools' own publish employment data. We are supposed to be able to rely on those sources."

    Exactly. Naive college graduates generally respect authority and well regarded institutions. The USN ranking is very persuasive, along with its 99% employment number. The school is also trustworthy, because if it wasn't trustworthy then the applicant wouldn't be surfing their website and considering an application. Add all the formality of the application process - the recommendations, the LSATs, the high tuition levels, the competition with other applicants and so on, and 0L can be justified in not knowing that they are dealing with a scam.

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  52. I'm starting to wonder if the crazy shrill guy is actually LawProf? He sits on this board all day making the same arguments again and again and again and flips out whenever there is any criticism in any way of transparency, etc.....and then LawProf links to his comment ignoring the fact that 80% of what he was screaming about was proven wrong.

    Yeah, I think my time here is done. I'll leave it to the shrill crazies. Good luck accomplishing nothing and stifling discourse.

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  53. "Yeah, I think my time here is done."

    Thank God. Maybe now others can have a conversation. And please don't come back with your Terry Malloy moniker either, you deranged loon.

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  54. He should just take the $150,000 and buy himself a nice office, suit, and secretary. Then put up a sign, act smug and confident, and bam! instant lawyer! No law school required. As long as he looks the part, clients will just assume that he has some sort of law degree.

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  55. Why can't he and his family do what they want with their money?

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  56. They can, but they might regret it.

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  57. @whoever asked for quotes

    Keep in mind I'm on your side. I'm trying to have a tactical discussion, not be a concern troll.

    That was perfectly expressed and completely predictable. You really think you're the cat's meow, don't you? Why don't you do this professor, take care of your "industry", you know, the people you directly profit from. Oh wait, you're too busy saving the world, right? What an awesome guy!
    Okay, that's not only senselessly personal, it's also pretty toothless, because it sounds like the rants you get from some homeless people when you don't give them money. Better would be:

    "Please don't try to dismiss me with a glib response, Professor. I'm referring to the [number] of students at top-tier law schools who graduate with an average of [number] of debt and cannot repay it on the salary most lawyers -- not the fortunate few who win the major-firm lottery, but the vast majority of new lawyers -- will earn, even if they are lucky enough to be part of the [number] percent that actually get a job. [ANYTHING HARVARD- OR STANFORD-SPECIFIC WOULD BE REALLY GOOD HERE.] Unserviceable, undischargeable educational debt is a life-destroying thing. I would hope that you could show more awareness of this, since these debts are incurred to pay the salaries of law professors, even the crusading ones."


    Are you seriously this misinformed? Perhaps at Stanford but are you aware of the employment rate at most schools? Are you aware that most law students end up with 6 figures of debt and very little in job prospects? Are you aware that almost every school lies about their employment statistics? That the ABA covers this up?

    A bunch of rhetorical questions is less effective than a few well-chosen statistics. In print, to a non-sympathetic audience that *doesn't already have the answers to them*, they just seem like hectoring. Seriously cut this whole thing, you go way too long.

    And even if they "make multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars" (they don't) why should you profit off of it? Law school does not prepare its students for being a working a lawyer and it barely prepares them to pass the bar (have you ever heard of BarBri, professor? Why do you think it exists?) Law schools only serves as a place for clueless academics to pontificate and add very little value to the world. So please let me know why you should be profiting off the backs of poor students who aren't even prepared properly?

    You could make this point much more focused and worthwhile. I also think "Law schools [sic] only serves as a place for clueless academics to pontificate" is needlessly inflammatory in front of a non-sympathetic audience. And the guy has done some important work with Creative Commons and the like, he's less hot-air wankery than most law professors (which is not to say that his do-gooderism isn't supported by a system of extraction from hoodwinked twenty-somethings, just that there are better targets if you want to get personal).

    To be continued...

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  58. cont'd:

    Are you aware of the difference in tuition from 30 years ago? Have you never asked yourself why? No, of course not...you're too busy saving the world. Why would one ask such impertinent questions? And how much debt did you leave law school with, professor?
    Again this is hectoring, and not effective to people who don't have the facts. Maybe add a second paragraph to the earlier one above:
    "Law schools, like all higher education generally, have been engaged in a never-ending tuition hike spiral. Even state schools have [multiplier]ed in price. [Look up Lessig's Alma Mater -- it was Yale, in 1989. Know your audience.] When you graduated from Yale in '89, the previous three years cost you [amount]. Today that would cost [new amount]. That's an increase that's [multiplier] times the change in inflation over the period. [Trot out a handy example of state school price increase here, LawProf has quoted UMich, you might also use Berkeley or something.] How can anyone enter the profession and join you in doing right for the world if they are saddled with these kinds of debts?

    Oh thats right, you're saving the world. Well I hope you're enjoying your happy little life in your ivory tower while the generations below you suffer from the action and inaction of people like you. I hope you're really proud that you directly profit from it.

    You don't win many friends by making fun of someone's nominally-altrustic work. He absolutely does think what he's doing is right and is changing the world for the better, and a lot of the peanut gallery is going to agree with him. Saying this is just going to turn them off. Cut.

    And now you can excuse this rant from what you most definitely will characterize as a "a bitter unemployed attorney." FYI - NYU class of 2008, Skadden 3rd year. I can afford this transfer of wealth from me to you, most of my friends cannot.
    This is actually not bad. You can leave this part in. You could probably make it shorter though, something like "Unlike most of my peers, I'm no bitter unemployed attorney -- NYU '08, Skadden 3y. I can afford this transfer of weatlh from me to the system which supports you and your causes. Most of my friends [even from NYU? if so SAY SO] cannot."

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