Monday, February 6, 2012

Legal Ethics Forum on legal education's response to the economic realities facing the profession

Over the next three days 23 legal academics from 21 different law schools (including faculty from law schools in Australia, China, and India) will be participating in an on line exchange at the Legal Ethics Forum regarding legal education's response to the economic realities facing the profession.  Here's my contribution:

What if any ethical obligations do law faculty have, in our capacity as classroom teachers, to address the employment and debt crisis our graduates face?  In the past few months I’ve been approached by four students  attending the law school where I teach, each of whom wanted to discuss (in the context of an office meeting rather than a classroom discussion) whether or not they should remain in law school.   In addition I’ve gotten emails from several other students attending other law schools, asking the same question.

In each case I’ve tried to give my opinion candidly and straightforwardly, while taking into account their various individual circumstances, and especially the considerable limits of my knowledge in regard to both themselves and those circumstances.    That is all well and good, but what about students who are struggling with the same issue, yet aren’t assertive (or desperate) enough to broach the topic with a faculty member, even one who they have reason to believe will not judge them for having doubts about their current career path?

I struggled with this question at the beginning of this semester, when I began to teach the first-year required Property course.   Few moments in life tend to be as predictably dismal as the first day of the second semester of law school, at least for the vast majority of students who, for perhaps the first time in their lives, find themselves making mediocre or worse grades. 

The current crisis in the employment market for law graduates is naturally making the traditional angst and depression that marks this moment quite a bit worse.  This, to echo a metaphor employed by Jim Milles in one of his posts in this Symposium, is the several thousand-pound elephant in every law school classroom at the moment, whether the faculty member in that room chooses to acknowledge it or not.

On the first day of class, after an introductory lecture, I decided to gently prod that elephant in a rather oblique way, by making clear to the students that I understood many of them might have concerns about their futures, and in particular about the extent to which law school was still a choice that made sense for them.  I indicated I was always open to discussing such matters, in a confidential and non-judgmental manner, and that indeed a willingness to do so was part of the requirements of my job.

This, it seems to me, is something that we ought to be explicit about with our students.  Many of them understandably get the impression that expressing doubts about continuing their legal education is something that law schools, as self-interested institutions, discourage them from doing.  But the fact of the matter is that, given the economic realities of the broader situation, it’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that the first-year dropout rate ought to be much higher than it currently is.

A much bolder approach than the one I’ve taken would be to discuss your own law school’s actual placement statistics in the context of a regular class session.   Many law schools are still not providing their prospective and current students with anything close to transparent employment and salary data.  Even schools that do put something like useful data up on their web sites do not necessarily do so in a way that will encourage prospective and current students to interpret that data accurately.

For instance, I wonder if it would be appropriate for me (this is not a rhetorical device; I sincerely wonder about the answer to this question) to make clear to my first years, 50% of whom are in the bottom half of their class after one sixth of their law school grades have been registered, that a close look at the employment and salary statistics for my law school’s 2010 class reveals that 93 of 183 graduates had a full time long-term position requiring a law degree nine months after graduation, and that we had been able to identify only 36 of those graduates who had a salary of $56,000 or more.

Given that most members of the first year class at CU are going to spend around $100,000 in tuition before they graduate, in addition to perhaps half as much again in living expenses and other associated costs (absurdly, casebooks now cost law students several thousand dollars over the course of their law school careers), those should be daunting numbers for them to contemplate.  They become even more daunting when one considers that CU is ranked among the top quarter of ABA-accredited institutions.

What worries me is how little we, the faculty and the administration, seem to worry about what appears to be an increasingly extreme disjunction between the cost of legal education and its expected return for our graduates.  Given how little attention we have given this subject, relative to its importance -- at least in the context of formal institutional discussions -- this only emphasizes how pressing the question has become of the extent to which we are obligated to discuss these matters with our students.

I would like to suggest that it might make sense for all law faculty to spend at least part of one class period this semester discussing our own school’s employment and salary figures with our students, and especially with our first-year students, if we have any.  For many law teachers (although I imagine this doesn’t apply to any of the participants in this particular symposium, given its subject matter) this would require that they first familiarize themselves with those figures.   Even that, of course, would be an important step in the right direction.

54 comments:

  1. I appreciate your post. Since I've urged you before to post some discussions about how you handle some of these and other issues (without suggesting that you limit yourself to personal reflections), I think it's only just that I acknowledge this post with proper gratitude. I'm invited to participate in the same set of posts but am currently facing a pressing deadline; I'm hoping nevertheless to do so in the next week or so. I'm glad you took the opportunity to participate and to discuss some of your own in-class responses, and that you reposted it here.

    I will add that, as I've written elsewhere, I also raise these issues on the first days of my Legal Profession class and follow up on them later. My feedback from students has been positive, largely, as far as I can tell, because they appreciate knowing that their professors are aware of these issues and willing to talk about them with students. Professors who don't raise these issues in some way at some point sacrifice an opportunity not only to help their students become better informed about the issues facing them, but to fulfill their own professional duties and to build a degree of trust with students that can have many pedagogical and other benefits.

    I will also note, in all fairness and because some of those responses are quite interesting, that my students, and others I have heard about, have a variety of responses to these issues, some of them consistent with what one reads in the comments here and some quite different, focusing as much on personal agency as on the responsibilities of legal educators or structural issues. I make no judgment on those responses here, except to say that at least some students feel strongly that both 1) the law schools themselves have things to answer for and 2) the students themselves have made willing and knowing choices that they also have to answer for, and 3) that they seem able to hold both thoughts in their heads without doing injustice to either or having their very heads explode. My students seem entirely able to think about issues of personal agency without ignoring larger questions of institutional responsibility or structural problems. If they can, professors should be able to do so too.

    --Paul Horwitz

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  2. @Paul Horwitz/5:09 a.m.:

    What are these "willing and knowing choices" that apparently work to minimize law schools' responsibility in this?

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  3. Let's look at the AB Model Rules of Professional Conduct and ask ... are law school,s and their faculty violating any?

    Can a law student be regarded as a client of the law school - or the professors, deans etc. If so, well we have Rule 1.8

    Rule 1.8 Conflict Of Interest: Current Clients: Specific Rules
    (a) A lawyer shall not enter into a business transaction with a client or knowingly acquire an ownership, possessory, security or other pecuniary interest adverse to a client unless:

    (1) the transaction and terms on which the lawyer acquires the interest are fair and reasonable to the client and are fully disclosed and transmitted in writing in a manner that can be reasonably understood by the client;

    (2) the client is advised in writing of the desirability of seeking and is given a reasonable opportunity to seek the advice of independent legal counsel on the transaction; and

    (3) the client gives informed consent, in a writing signed by the client, to the essential terms of the transaction and the lawyer's role in the transaction, including whether the lawyer is representing the client in the transaction.

    Counselor
    Rule 2.1 Advisor
    In representing a client, a lawyer shall exercise independent professional judgment and render candid advice. In rendering advice, a lawyer may refer not only to law but to other considerations such as moral, economic, social and political factors, that may be relevant to the client's situation.

    Oh but you say that the law student is not a client then we have good old Rule 4.1

    Transactions With Persons Other Than Clients
    Rule 4.1 Truthfulness In Statements To Others
    In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly:

    (a) make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person; or

    (b) fail to disclose a material fact to a third person when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by a client, unless disclosure is prohibited by Rule 1.6.

    And then we have the catchall

    Maintaining The Integrity Of The Profession
    Rule 8.4 Misconduct
    It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

    (a) violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;

    (c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;


    It seems to be reasonable to suggest that even in the generalities of the ABA model rules, there are provisions that numerous law schools are violating in presenting their employment numbers and un failing to tell 1Ls and 0ls what they need to know

    MacK

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  4. Professor Horowitz:

    Excuse the touch of sarcasm, but again and again I am struck by how little law professors know about the practice of law or the legal ethics rules. I am sure you wee amused by you little jest:

    "to say that at least some students feel strongly that both 1) the law schools themselves have things to answer for and 2) the students themselves have made willing and knowing choices that they also have to answer for, and 3) that they seem able to hold both thoughts in their heads without doing injustice to either or having their very heads explode"

    But consider this - what would happen if you went before the bar on a violation of Rule 1.8(a)(1)-(3) and tried the same argument - i.e., but it is my clients fault, he/she knew that I had a conflict - or he she knew that I had failed to disclose something material?

    How about we look at this in the context of SEC Rule 10-b-5? Agai, how would you fare if you tried to argue that it is the investing publics' own fault because they should have known I was running a Ponzi scheme - hell my name is Madoff...

    Do I need to tell you that you would be - to use a technical legal expression you may not have heard - "toast" - disbarred, lodging at Club Fed...

    So here is the big question - why are you special - why do you get to use an excuse that would not be available to any investor, any mortgage broker, and any lawyer? Seriously?

    MacK

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  5. "What worries me is how little we, the faculty and the administration, seem to worry about what appears to be an increasingly extreme disjunction between the cost of legal education and its expected return for our graduates."

    Hell, the fact that these panels typically focus on whether the law schools are in crisis - as opposed to focusing on the students - further shows that the schools do not give a damn about the students and recent grads.

    By the way, I know one administrator at Third Tier Drake who talked students with low GPAs into staying enrolled in law school. One classmate was hovering slightly below a 2.0 GPA, even after his third semester. He had no shot in hell of practicing law, and last I heard he failed the Missouri Bar Exam. He mentioned to me that he talked to an administrator, about how he wanted to cut his losses. The admin then went into used car salesman mode, and told him that a law degree is "versatile." Furthermore, he told him "You don't want to be a quitter."

    Lastly, it should be noted that this man incurred about $125K in student debt, for his law degree. Does anyone here find this conduct deplorable? How can such an "educator" claim to be ethical?!?! He is still with Third Tier Drake.

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  6. MacK -- have you brought the complaint? If not, why not?

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  7. It's wonderful to hear that part of a course on Property is devoted to other things. Maybe they should have a 1L course called "The Economics of Law School" Or an LLM program in "The Law of The Law School Scam"

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  8. NYC,

    It is germane to property law insofar as once you sign on line, you are sallie mae's property. Maybe chattel? It's been a long time since 1L.

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  9. Over the weekend, I had lunch with an '09 law grad who owes about $250K in student loans. After doing extensive research, he has decided to follow the "indefinite debtor" approach by filing successive Chapter 13 bankruptcies, 5 years at a time. He hopes to keep Sallie Mae at bay while proposing minimal monthly payments towards his student loans. This person is already resigned to the fact that he won't be able to get credit again and will need to seek court approval for every financial decision he makes (i.e., buying a car, house, a new computer on credit, etc.). He has also given up on getting married since his girlfriend of 5 years dumped him after witnessing him flounder in professional and economic mediocrity. Who says love doesn't cost a thing?

    I started thinking about the concept of debtor's prison. Although this young man won't be trapped by four physical walls, he has decided to shackle himself for the rest of his life to the bankruptcy system, all for the sake of avoiding the pernicious student loan collectors. I don't understand how kids can continue the law school path knowing that there are tens of thousands of recent grads that are in a similar financial dire straits.

    A.E.S.

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  10. If you think engineering is the easy answer:

    http://www.salon.com/2012/02/06/obamas_high_tech_labor_lies/

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  11. I'll add one last comment before bowing out. Alas, both commenters above who asked me direct questions thoroughly misread what I said, which was explicitly descriptive, not normative. I said nothing about minimizing the responsibility of law schools or professors; nor did I argue in favor of any defense by law professors, let alone for special treatment. (I will note further that, although both of the second commenter's questions are thus quite irrelevant, outside of the securities fraud case, in which plaintiffs can rely on fraud-on-the-market doctine, reliance issues do arise in consumer fraud class actions and can reduce the likelihood of class certification. So his legal point, aside from being irrelevant to what I wrote, is also quite incomplete, although not wrong within a narrow scope.)

    What I did say, and that quite clearly, was that: 1) some of my students, when we discuss these issues, raise of their own accord questions of personal agency for their life-choices; 2) none of them thereby purport to excuse or defend other actors, including law schools and law professors; and 3) I make no personal judgment here as to whether they are right or wrong and in what measure. There is a corolloary principle, perhaps not stated in what I said: I am genuinely interested in what law students have to say.

    Since I think my comment was quite clear, I can hardly apologize for being misread. Since I think that all of us, most certainly including law professors, ought to really listen to law students and others and solicit their full views without being afraid of where it will lead, and should treat them as ends in themselves instead of as prospective allies or adversaries in some grand contest, I can hardly apologize either for reporting that some of my students said interesting things along these lines, and thinking that they can be worth listening to and discussing, whether one agrees with them or not.

    -- PH

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  12. PH, thank you for your objective reporting. It was very fair and balanced just like Fox news.

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  13. PH:

    Unfortunately you are still missing the point. The Bar Rules, the SEC rules and other impose a strict liability standard for disclosures. (Sorry, simpleton practitioner, what would I know after 20+ years.) Under those strict disclosure standards (and there are numerous others) you cannot defend yourself on the other person "coulda, shoulda known" and their head should "explode" defence (which I must admit is novel and imaginative, never saw that one before, and I have seen some "doozies.")

    It is as practicing lawyers call it, a loser! It is a failing grade in compliance - it is frankly as an old professor of mine used to put it "piffle and nonsense"

    So again I present the basic question, what makes law school deans and law professors so special that they can try a defence that anywhere else would fail totally, and if recommended by their counsel would rightly get that counsel sued?

    No dodging - think of it as a socratic experiment - I want to know if you can answer - oh and "think like a lawyer"

    MacK

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  14. I cannot imagine during the course of such a discussion, that no student would talk about his or her own decision-making process and the choices he or she made, along with everything else. Why would anyone doubt that?

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  15. MacK-- have you filed a complaint? If not, why not?

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  16. 9:49 - Have you? If not, stop asking. Better still, why don't you enumerate the reasons you think that a complaint would be a invalid (and not just a waste of time.)

    Of course you may be a law professor - if so - how about you set forth a cogent defence here to the issue?

    Though not....FYVM

    MacK

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  17. Professor Horwitz,

    Have you attempted to have such a candid conversation with some of your former students? Maybe a few grads that are 5 or 6 years removed from law school. Possibly a few graduates of your former institution, the Southwestern School of Law, many of whom are undoubtedly working in the prestigious food service industry with a six figure anchor around their necks, a portion of which went to paying your salary? If you have, I wonder how those individuals felt about "personal agency for their life-choices." You see professor, when your thought process in making "life choices" is clouded by misleading/fraudulent information regarding the likely outcome of your potential investment, it is difficult to see how the responsibility should fall on the defrauded party.

    Your current students are still drinking the Koolaid, believing what your school is telling them about how they'll all end up employed as lawyers in a couple years http://www.law.ua.edu/career-services/prospective-students/. The truth is, a large number of your current students will not ever be able to work as lawyers. Do you think their points of view may change a bit when they realize they were scammed?

    Please enjoy the next law professor faculty junket you attend. When you are eating that cocktail weenie, keep in mind that part of some 22 year old kid's financial future was sacrificed for it.

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  18. For whatever it's worth, every conversation I had about what to expect after law school (and thus how to value my education) with my professors (several, with different profs) all were along the lines of Used Car Salesman Puffery. None of these people were able to discusses the facts as they are. The only conclusion I can draw is that they did so either because 1) they didn't know any better (which means they have not bothered to educate themselves on the matter), or 2) they were willfully avoiding it. Neither conclusion bodes well for their ethical and moral character.

    Need I mention the "recommendation" and "advice" of every one of these profs was along the lines of "well, you've come this far..."?

    So, congrats to Prof Campos for trying to do what he can to better the situation for his charges.

    And, I also have one quick point about the futility of a student in the bottom 10% of his class dropping out after the first semester of law school. If the dozen or so students that comprise the bottom rung all decide it's lost cause and bail, there will still be a dozen kids the comprise the bottom 10%. It will now just be the dozen or so kids that were previously up one rung on the ladder. Thus, there will always be a bottom 10% that must face the dire employment prospects and loan repayment issues. Don't blame the player, blame the game.

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  19. @ MacK-- I was not the one who raised the issue so strenuously and with such apparent conviction. I do not want to incite Steroid Boy, but his observations were more correct than people gave him credit for. Also, you demanded an answer from PH that, even if answered, would not help the situation one bit. The thing you were talking about, if successful, would make a difference. And yet...

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  20. Prof,
    What's up with this?

    BOULDER (AP) - University of Colorado regents want to know why the Boulder campus School of Law is running at a loss and being subsidized by other students.

    Last year, the law school spent $26 million, more than $1.5 million more than its revenue. Other colleges are also losing money, including the College of Music, which lost more than $4 million, and the College of Engineering, which lost more than $6 million.

    According to the Boulder Daily Camera, regents are singling out the law school because law students are facing higher tuition hikes and undergraduates are still helping pay for the Wolf Law Building, which opened in 2006.

    (Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  21. @9:48. The issue isn't the veracity of PH's reported discussion. It's his failure to acknowledge that the purported discussion took place on a ridiculously imbalanced playing field.

    In my practice, I often represent inmates on conditions of confinement cases against various corrections departments. The prison administrators and corrections officers label inmates "job security." There's a reason why keeping inmate bed space filled is a priority. It justifies ever-increasing corrections department budgets that are dependent upon legislative financing. With the advent of private prisons (CCA and Wackenhut) there are further incentives in keeping inmate bed space at max capacity--revenue growth is the name of the game. The prison industrial complex has become monetized--see any parallels?

    In a time when disproportionately high tuition costs are used (to a significant degree) to pay inflated LS salaries, is it surprising that PH's claim of a meaningful discourse is viewed w/ a degree of skepticism. After all, he did not report that he begins this discussion by asking his students: How much of a salary cut should my colleagues and I take so that your LS tuition can come down in price? Establishing credibility often requires sacrifice.

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  22. 10:38 when you say "there will always be a bottom 10% that must face the dire employment prospects and loan repayment issues."

    It is fair to say that the bottom 10% of the legal profession are badly paid compared to many others - I (despite what some might describe as dubious skills) make somewhere in the upper end of earnings, but not what say an equity partner at Cadwalader makes (I think...)

    Nonetheless, what that bottom 10% makes is to some degree a function of supply, demand and competence. The legal profession by the way is one where competence may in many respect be a function of innate ability, but realistically it has more to do with training and experience - and the opportunity to secure both.

    When you have very lax admission standards for many law schools it pretty well guarantees that the bottom of the candidate pool will not be even marginally competent to practice law - they simply will not be up to a profession that, comments about "shitlaw" notwithstanding, requires a decent knowledge of how to competently draft a will, or a custody agreement, or a basic contract. Moreover, when there are too many law graduates, with law schools that give no practical training - populated by professors who incidentally are not qualified to give practical training (having pretty well zero practice experience) that also places a high premium on getting the necessary experience in your first law job - but opportunities to get that experience are thin when there are at least two candidates for every such first job (and by the way Biglaw trains for micro competence - skill in a very small area to justify sky-high associate rates. I benefitted from being in two high end international boutiques where I had to learn fast on the ground - since I did everything, contracts, complaints, answers, discovery (interrogatories, document requests, review, hot docs pulling), motions in limine, motions to dismiss, motions for SJ (1-4 substantive motions a week), legal opinions, chapters of books, studies for the UN, representing governments, Fortune 500 companies, intellectual property, international trade, antitrust, classes for various types, massive oil and gas deals, arbitrations, huge license agreements, corporate structures, etc. You learned a lot as you went - and I landed there because my 2 big law jobs evaporated with the offices and someone forgot to offer me my 3rd Biglaw job (off a 1st year summer), only found that out years-later ("partner - why didn't you accept?".)

    The problem is that when you have so much over-supply no young lawyer can get that start - and it was tough for me in 1992-3, but it is terrible now. The result is that the badly paid end of the profession is probably the lower 60% plus of current grads, maybe for 2008-14 the lower 90%

    I am not saying that all lawyers should be paid $160,000 - I am saying that $70-100,000 starting pay at the lower end in major metros strikes me as fair and law schools should align tuition accordingly - including the top tier. I am also saying that when there are so many unqualified kids going to law school there will be no possibility of their earning prospects reaching even those levels.

    If law schools (a) cut capacity and (b) cut tuition, the bottom 10% would be competent and would make a decent living.

    I won't even start to comment on the ethics of biglaw and its partners when looking for business or in how they treat their clients.

    MacK

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  23. Dear Lawprof, I am currently a first year at one of the law schools being sued. I am concerned how the lawsuits will affect my law school especially its financial stability. Should I transfer?

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  24. 11:14 - gotta go - just took a break to look at this blog. The main reason for not filing a bar complaint is pointlessness ... state bar would never consider hauling up a law school dean on ethics charges ... Indeed it is the very fact that people like Paul Horowitz think the whole issue comic that illustrates the problem ... the ethics issue is serious, the bar is not.

    Hence the question, why does Horowitz think he is special - because he is allowed to get away with it? Has he made some acid comments about Wall Street scofflaws lately - most law profs have - why are they different?

    MacK

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  25. @11:24 -- that would suggest there should be no discussion at all, the power differential being so great. You are probably right. But I doubt that many students would be fooled into a sense of security by the question you suggest. It is likely they would see it as a stunt, and see the prof as being like a character from an old movie, "the groovy, right on professor who knows how to talk to the young people."

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  26. Fuck off Horwitz, quit trying to ride Campos' coattails.

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  27. 11:53, not quite the spirit we want around here. This is the same issue of tone that was discussed early in this blog's life. We should be encouraging legal academics to hang around and listen. PH should be engaged with, not told to fuck off. If that's the tone legal academics see, they'll be far less likely to see the problems of the current system and can write us off as a bunch of anti-socials who don't have jobs because we can't interview.

    Templar

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  28. @11:42. Right, b/c that topic (LS salary cuts) is still an abstraction. I'd venture that despite a national climate in which either pay cuts, salary freezes, or loss of job is endemic they still believe that pay cuts will not touch them during their tenures. Consequently, without a realistic appreciation for the stakes involved, I agree that the discussion would come off as nothing more than emo-ish wanking. However, that’s going to change.

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  29. @11:35- If you're attending a law school being sued, then you are attending a bottom school. If it's your first year, and you have the grades to transfer, do so. If you cannot transfer, I highly highly recommended dropping out of school. Don't worry about what your family and friends say..it's just gonna be worse from them three years down the road when you can't find a job.

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  30. All this comes down to pride. We destroyed ourselves because of pride. Blue collar labor and blue collar jobs were not good enough for us, we wanted something more “prestigious,” and herein comes the pain. I was at a Superbowl party yesterday, and so many people ridiculed me. Comments were thrown around like, “Mr. Big Shot Lawyer, still living at home,” and “Mr. Big Shot Lawyer driving around in shitty car X.”

    I look at the comments section in this blog, and I see the soruce of the error, the source that is going to make the housing crisis look like Christmas morning at the Trump residence.

    There are millions and millions of kids in this country. Not all of them can be lawyers, engineers, doctors, etc. Someone has to tow the hard road, and sometimes that road is better than all the rest. The rich will never let their kids do blue collar work. They will stack the deck against everyone else in that regard, whether it be with unpaid internship positions that can be done only with parental hope (DOJ), or whether they use their connections outright. That has been the way of the world since the beginning. No amount of interference by the government can change that.

    But this is still America. There are still things you can do. One of these guys at the Superbowl party started in the local 1 NYC plumber’s union at 19. After 12 years, he got into the municipal plumber’s union. At 36, he now makes 150k+ a year with overtime, in addition to the rental properties he owns. I could give you 100 examples like this, and it is those examples that set this country apart, now and in the past.

    That is not the world kiddies. There is more to the world than being a white collar professional.

    None of this will matter though because the alternatives will be reduced to white collar work. The politicians will never tell the truth or act in a manner that they know is best for our country because they know people will not want to hear it, they know people will not vote for that. So we get the same crooks over and over.

    I have a technical degree, a law degree, and no debt because of schollies. I did very well in LS, but my life has been put back by at least and at best by 5 years because of this infernal JD. College is not for everybody. Law school is not for everybody. There are other options kids, and if you think those options are too low class for you, then you will suffer as I do (and likely much worse).

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  31. @MacK-- taking a break myself, now. Thanks for the answer. I do notice that you changed the target of a possible ethics complaint from law profs in general to law deans. I do not know Paul Horwitz, but I not think he is a dean, or at least nothing I have seen indicates that. I also doubt if he was responsible for gathering, analyzing,publishing and promoting the employment statistics of his school.

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  32. @2:26,

    I went to law school because I watched my blue-collar family (a printer, a heating duct installer, and several construction workers) be so unhappy, and had to listen to their regret about not going to school. I mean my aunt thought Afghanistan was in Africa, surely the intelligence and willingness to question that comes with an education is not worthwile.

    Blue collar is not for everyone, and to an extent neither is $$

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  33. 11:35 I would worry about the long term viability of any of the law schools being sued.If they win, no problem. If they lose, some of them will probably disappear. Regardless the reputations of all the sued law schools will go down in the US News rankings so you need to consider that too.

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  34. Not that people should not try, but it is not so easy to get into a union, especially not for racial minorities.

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  35. 2:37 here:

    that should read *is worthwhile*

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  36. 11:35,

    What has been the reaction of the students at your school to the lawsuits? The professors? Administration? I am curious to know the reaction from the inside.

    I would suggest that you transfer to a T1 or drop out. You only get one life. Don't gamble with it.

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  37. 2:33PM - clearly law school administrations, deans etc. have the hardest questions to answer. But it would be a mistake to let Paul Horowitz off answering the question - he does after all teach legal ethics. Hell he has even written papers about legal ethics and the downturn - none that I have seen (yes I read a few) addressed the practical ethical question - are law school administrations violating legal ethics when/if they fail to properly represent the employment prospects of their students? Is the issue compounded by the typical law school's financial aid office's role in brokering law student loans? Does a professor owe any duty to his/her students? Does a law school?

    Horowitz postures here as a bit of a legal gadfly, preening and flinging what he thinks are tough questions at Campos - but he does evade ever addressing the hard ones himself. Since he does read this blog - maybe he would address the issue... the tough one, not the anodyne discussions he has ventured to date.

    But then.....don't hold your breath. He has been posturing on the margins of the issue for a while without addressing the obvious elephant in the room.

    MacK

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  38. Are you misspelling his name to be provocative?

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  39. If I were a dean at one of the sued law schools, I would be worried about my yield for next year and my US News rank.

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  40. @MacK -- I understand what you are saying, but having to answer tough questions is not the same thing as being the target of a state bar ethics complaint. That is a very specific thing. I entered the discussion because you made it sound so clear that law professors like PH could be charged with ethics violations depending upon the quality of the employment stats their schools published. If that is true, why not file a complaint? You gave one reason-- you do not think a state bar committee would bring the charge. You are most likely right. They would probably not do it unless the professor had been involved in gathering, analyzing, publishing, and promoting the stats.
    .
    The duties that law professors have to their students should definitely be discussed and sorted out.

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  41. 7:01 - Casting my mind back to a legal ethics seminar I had in 1991, one case discussed was the true story of a New York, White Shoe partner and associate. The partner did something that was a serious breach of legal ethics - and then the associate, who knew but did not participate and even objected, was leaned on by the partner and it would seem the firm to "keep schtum." When the bar found out, both were disbarred. Three years later the partner, based on representations from his buddies, various partners, law profs etc. was given back his law license and indeed joined as a partner a fairly respectable firm - the associate - not so lucky.

    The professor teaching this story was pretty sanctimonious - he saw nothing wrong in the partner getting back and the associate staying screwed - after all in his opinion the associate had a duty to report the partner, and his failure was a much greater sin than the partners. Hmmm - sounded to me then and still does like the clubby world of waspy white shoe law firm partners.

    Could PH be charged with some sort of ethics violation - well that depends on two things. First, as a practical matter, do you think that the bar is actually going to go after the law schools, whatever they did ("duck flying pigs"); second, assuming arguendo that the bar did choose to do something, does PH have enough knowledge of actual misrepresentation by the law school where he is a professor that he is obliged to make a report; third, what abut the rest of us? Do we have objective knowledge of false numbers being presented by specific law schools - and do we have an obligation? In that regard read:

    Rule 8.3 Reporting Professional Misconduct
    (a) A lawyer who knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the appropriate professional authority.

    MacK

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  42. Great Article about the Personality Development Courses. Please update more new its more useful to viewers.

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  43. The only way to help the students get a decent education from the public school system and not bankrupt the state any more is to eliminate the teachers union. End of story!

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  44. @ 4:56 AM

    Hell no. Public sector spending (excluding military and entitlement spending) have been rapidly declining as an overall portion of the overall economy. The problem is not too much public sector spending. If anything, there’s too little spending and more people are falling through the cracks.

    Teacher’s unions serve more than to allow our educators to make a decent living (which also makes them less prone to bribery – bribery of teachers is very common in countries where teachers are poorly paid and must supplement their wages by other means). They also protect teachers from capricious punishments by the administrators and bad parents. They’re far from perfect, but note that states with the poorest teachers are also the ones with the poorest student performance.

    The biggest problem in this country is that the rich have bribed and cheated to have lower effective tax rates than the middle class. The voodoo economics of Bush’s tax cuts are the biggest reason for the current federal deficit. With that flush of money, they’re squeezing the middle class and lower classes from public life – through their funding of crazy fringe organizations that just happen to advocate wealth = might = morality. And also happen to demonize and marginalize any group who stands against their wealth.

    The second biggest reason for the deficit is America fighting multiple wars in places that don’t threaten US. Yeah, Saddam was a tyrant – but what replaced him isn’t an improvement for the Iraqi people and actually pose a far greater threat to the US in terms of instabilitThe so called War on Terror should have been a police action – the British dealt with the IRA for decades without invading other countries, until a negotiated solution was possible. US has executed multiple wars that are disasterous and immoral – we’re paying for it in terms of deficits, the native population are paying in blood and devastation.

    If you actually paid attention to actual scholarship on the matter – corporations are not outsourcing due to labor expenses. The total labor costs are 10-15% of total costs. The decisions are driven by the desire to cheat taxes (by selling below cost to overseas subsidiaries and then retain the profits overseas, out of reach of the IRS), goose short term profitability, and escape regulations that protect health and safety of workers (FoxConn and every other OEM located in China, Thailand, etc).

    But you’re just a mindless teabagger mindlessly repeating talking points fed to you by billionaire plutocrats. So I just wasted 15 minutes trying to talk sense to a bag of bricks. Screw me.

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  45. I hope Lawprof will follow up on the this story with some reaction to the pieces his fellow profs have posted over the last few days.

    I've read about a third of them so far and I have a mixed reaction. On the one hand, its tremendous progress that a forum like this even exists. Just a year ago, no law professors (other than maybe Tamanaha) were talking about this at all.

    On the other hand, it seems like the "skills" debate is being taken too seriously. I think this is an unfortunate distraction. Skills have never been the reason why graduates did or did not get jobs. Its a simple issue of supply and demand, and right now the supply is too high and the demand is too low. Skills training will do nothing to help. Neither will designing new and innovative courses on how to be the law practitioners of the future. The simple, unavoidable, and very uncomfortable fact is that the law school industry itself needs to shrink. Fewer students, fewer schools, fewer profs.

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  46. The suggestion of having different types of law schools for different purposes is intriguing. Applicants will decide going in whether the want a traditional program, or a more truncated, specialized program. It is not likely that HYS, Chicago and schools like that will change. There will be a market for those grads among firms, corporations, and consulting outfits. They would continue to garner clerkships and top government jobs the way they do now. Those alternatives would remain expensive.

    That would leave room for other schools to offer programs tailored to students who want more practical training, who could learn how to set up their own practices, or be if more immediate use to employers, private and public. The faculty would be geared toward teaching , and be comprised of "regular" faculty and a large number of lower cost practioner adjuncts. It could be a two year program.

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  47. The whole "You should have known I am a damn liar" defense is really a non starter. At some point, every fraudster tries to make this argument. It never works.

    In effect, the law schools are saying, "Our lies are so transparent and obvious that no reasonable person would believe them. Therefore, we do have the right to lie our damn fool heads off."

    The obvious problem with this argument is that (1) it is an admission that representations were made, and (2) those representations were false. In making these admissions, law schools have proved up 90% of a fraud case. The only other elements are justifiable reliance and damages.

    Damages are pretty clear: up to $200,000 in expenses and three years of lost wages. Add in exemplary damages, and the tab can get pretty high.

    As for justifiable reliance, the obvious question is why law schools would knowing make false representations if they did not intend for students to rely upon them.

    Quite frankly, any law professor who does not understand this has no business practicing law, let alone teaching other people to practice law.

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  48. Have a law student in your life? Do them a favor and tell them about JD Match. JD Match provides a free online service that uses a sophisticated matching algorithm to connect students with firms and firms with students. Send them this link today. http://bit.ly/wUiaXY and help that special law student get a leg up

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  49. The law schools should be sued. 200K in student loan bills, plus lost wages for three years, is a pretty heavy loss if you can't find a job immediately after graduation. I would go so far as to say, that about 50% of all law schools should be shut down, because there are too many of them. We do not need that many law schools or lawyers. Everybody wants a law degree these days, and this profession attracts people with a low self esteem, who want that J.D. behind their name, no matter what. With the rise of McLaw schools, everyone can get a McLaw degree now. Almost every pre-law student that I know is looking to prove something about him/herself, and many of the guys are entering this field so they can pick up women easier. And no, I am not trying to joke around here. I honestly believe it takes a lot of self-loathing and low self esteem to incur 200K in debt, with no guarantee of a job, simply because of a twisted desire to enhance one's image.

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  50. The law schools should be sued. 200K in student loan bills, plus lost wages for three years, is a pretty heavy loss if you can't find a job immediately after graduation. I would go so far as to say, that about 50% of all law schools should be shut down, because there are too many of them. We do not need that many law schools or lawyers. Everybody wants a law degree these days, and this profession attracts people with a low self esteem, who want that J.D. behind their name, no matter what. With the rise of McLaw schools, everyone can get a McLaw degree now. Almost every pre-law student that I know is looking to prove something about him/herself, and many of the guys are entering this field so they can pick up women easier. And no, I am not trying to joke around here. I honestly believe it takes a lot of self-loathing and low self esteem to incur 200K in debt, with no guarantee of a job, simply because of a twisted desire to enhance one's image.

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  51. Professor Horowitz, did your students really talk about "personal agency," or is that your gloss on what they said? Personal responsibility seems more likely what they meant rather than the philosophical concept of agency. And you contrast that with "institutional responsibility." Isn't the issue better framed as personal responsibility of all actors - students, professors, and administrators?

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  52. Every child should have the opportunity to receive a quality education.

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  53. Im good at math and have the ability to statistics related program. I also got admitted to a 3rd tier law school. Which would you choose to do? Which has better job outlook, as i enjoy both subjects?

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