Monday, May 28, 2012

The law school reform movement: Accomplishments and goals

First, many thanks to DJM for guest blogging here last week.  She brings a fresh perspective to many of the topics on which this blog has focused, and raises others relevant to the crisis of the American law school.  (She will, I hope, continue to contribute posts from time to time).  That crisis has many facets, and naturally there will be disagreements within the reform movement about what aspects of it ought to be given how much attention. 

Such disagreements can be constructive, but it’s important not to allow them to obscure the basic divide in legal academia in particular and the legal profession in general: between those who understand that there really is a crisis, and an establishment culture that still remains in various degrees of denial about this crisis (although there are signs that the overall level of denial is declining rapidly; see below). 
The law school reform movement includes law students, recent graduates, veteran lawyers, legal academics, journalists, politicians, and not least the scam bloggers who started sounding the alarm on these issues before anyone else.  It features people from a wide range of political, economic and social backgrounds, who have been brought together by their shared belief that the system of legal education in this country is broken, and that this breakdown has dire consequences for the legal profession.

In that spirit, I think it’s useful to take stock of what the reform movement has accomplished so far, and to suggest some immediate goals it might pursue.  To date, the movement’s biggest accomplishments have been: 

(1)    Successfully pressuring law schools to make available employment and salary numbers for recent grads which are much more detailed than what was out there even a year ago at this time; and

(2)    Employing this data to get legal academia to at least begin to acknowledge that, given these numbers, it’s possible our methods have become unsound.

For example just eighteen months ago, Law School Transparency’s initial request for something better than the highly misleading employment and salary information being published by the vast majority of law schools produced an amazingly uniform response, in the form of pure stonewalling.  Yet little more than a year later LST managed to get no less than 40 law schools to disclose their individual NALP reports, while the ABA’s Section of Legal Education suddenly started publishing something of a treasure trove of data.  (It’s amazing what a couple of polite but firm letters from a U.S. senator can do).

While more remains to be done, it’s now far easier for Judge Schweitzer’s “sophisticated consumers” of information about legal education (to the extent they actually exist, which is a separate and deeply problematic issue) to recognize that the number of law schools worth attending at the advertised tuition price is very small indeed.  The disclosure of this information is in turn lending support to those within legal academia who are arguing that legal education in American is based on an economic model that no longer works for most law graduates.

The law school reform movement has made it much more difficult to ignore that the net present value of most of the law degrees being acquired in America today is negative, and in many cases dramatically so.   In other words, the national media, prospective law students, prominent politicians, and even some law professors are coming to recognize that law school costs far too much and – or rather because -- there are far too many lawyers competing for far too few jobs.  Again, this represents a significant advance in public discourse.

The first and most important step in any reform movement is the act of bringing itself into being: that is, of transforming what before could be characterized as isolated complaints from easily dismissed malcontents  into a coherent set of critiques put forward by what are now the recognized opponents of a newly  contestable status quo.  The law school reform movement has achieved this.  What goals should it focus on in the short term?  Some suggestions:

*Keep up the pressure on law schools to divulge information, and expose schools that continue to mislead prospective students.  The recent incident in which Rutgers-Camden tried to lure GMAT takers with some good old-fashioned phony employment and salary stats indicates both how far the reform movement has come – the school was roundly mocked and excoriated in many venues prospective law students might encounter – and how far it has to go.  Much progress has been made on this front, but if Rutgers-Camden’s behavior is any indication much remains to be done, until legal academic administrators who are tempted to cite “average” salary figures based on outcomes for five per cent of a graduating class do so with the full knowledge they are likely to be the subject of muck raking news stories, formal bar complaints, and possible legal action.

*Continue to get the word out to prospective law students that, for most of them, attending law school would end up being something between a bad and a catastrophic mistake.  That total applicants have declined by nearly a quarter in the last two years, despite a terrible job environment for recent college graduates, is a sign that the law school reform movement has had real success on this front.  That large numbers of people remain eager to spend large amounts of taxpayer dollars to attend schools with truly wretched employment  and salary statistics is a sign that more work remains to be done (although it’s also a sign of the practical limits of transparency).

*Work toward getting the federal government to reverse the extraordinarily reckless decision to allow law students to borrow the full attendance cost of whatever price any law school chooses to charge for the privilege of attending it, with no questions asked of either the students or the schools.  Just how this policy ought to be changed is of course controversial, but what isn’t controversial is that the present state of affairs is completely indefensible, and could hardly be changed for the worse.  No reform is more important than this: stop forcing taxpayers to fully subsidize the self-destructive behavior of law students, which in turn is enabled by the shamelessly self-interested behavior of law schools.  In this context, making the links between the law school crisis and the larger crisis in higher education explicit is crucial.

*Push schools to cut both tuition and enrollments.   If you’re a member of a law school faculty and aren’t advocating, at a minimum, hiring freezes and tuition cuts at your school, why not?  The medium-term goal of the law school reform movement should be to cut both enrollments and tuition by (at least) half, and moving toward that goal will require constant pressure from inside legal academia, as well as from outside it.

As for longer-term goals, that’s a subject for another post.


  1. Welcome back, Professor Campos.

  2. the first and most important move in fixing this scam is to cap the availability of student loan money. if a student could only take out, say, 60,000 dollars in federally-guaranteed loans, guess how expensive law school would be the very next day?

    but, and i'm just spitballing here, what if this did happen and lower tier law schools decided to adopt a "wal-mart" approach to legal ed? by that i mean, charge very little tuition, enroll 3 or 400 pct more students (basically making themselves open-enrollment), hiring minimal faculty, and teaching 300 person lectures that amount to glorified bar review courses for three years? they could still be profitable, probably, and they would flood the market with jds. is there a way to be sure that that doesn't happen, given the fact that the aba is absolutely toothless?

  3. "*Push schools to cut both tuition and enrollments. If you’re a member of a law school faculty and aren’t advocating, at a minimum, hiring freezes and tuition cuts at your school, why not? The medium-term goal of the law school reform movement should be to cut both enrollments and tuition by (at least) half, and moving toward that goal will require constant pressure from inside legal academia, as well as from outside it."

    These needs to be the next argument advanced.

    We already know that the current law school structure was set up to favor the law school professor at every turn, so any critique of the current system is likely to be met with resistance by those same professors, as they stand the most to lose.

    At the same time, law professors as a group are pretty similar, most share the same political sentiments, etc.

    Tuition reduction is a direct and effective argument that cannot be logically refuted without some serious hypocrisy on their part.

    For example: High tuition means that hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans have to be repaid. This money, and the massive interest, goes to lenders (the evil 1%).

    Secondly, these large debt balances mean that the graduating lawyers cannot help the beloved "most vulnerable" and "most marginalized" of society, that law professors CLAIM to care about.

    In that light, it becomes pretty clear that the law professors aren't on the side of the angels anymore. I mean, after all, really, you can't be bothered to teach two or three classes each semester so that the graduates can afford to take the lower paying public interest jobs that the professors themselves urge them to take?

    Is that the price of justice for the oppressed? Is that price too high if the professors have to do more work?

    Transparency should be the steady drumbeat in the background, and we shouldn't give up on that.....but the price of tuition is where you have a chance of changing some minds in the faculty lounge.

    I'll stop before I bring up the idea of professors of integrity forgoing a raise in order to slow the out-of-control tuition increases, lest I have a laughing fit.

  4. I think the movement should push towards closing many of these shitheap law schools down. Who cares about less enrollment at each school, let the good schools have full enrollment and close the doors of the crappy schools. We all know which schools those are. Better to have Hastings at 100% enrollment and McGeorge defunct than to have Hastings at 70% and McGeorge at 30% enrollment.

  5. Absurd Hastings trolling.

  6. Did I say Hastings? I meant Harvard:).

  7. "if a student could only take out, say, 60,000 dollars in federally-guaranteed loans, guess how expensive law school would be the very next day?"

    Option 2 is to restore full dischargability. Give the debtor a good-faith nuclear option like they have in every other consumer context. It's an essential control on consumer credit that Congress basically threw away.

    Bring back dischargability and place the risk of loss on the school (i.e., your consumer lender goes chapter 7, you agree to indemnify the lender in exchange for getting a consumer base with guaranteed credit at favorable terms).

  8. To state it as politely as I can, the law schools are the worst offenders when it comes to milking the student loan sugar teat.

    An altogether different approach or remedy would be the restoration of consumer bankruptcy protections for student loans, both private and federal, based upon a ten or fifteen track record of income after graduation, and the realistic likelihood of the debt ever being paid off.

    Nor should the taxpayer be required to foot the bill. The University should have to eat it.

    That way, and in the bigger picture, higher ed will have some checks and balances in place.

    Government Involvement in higher ed seems to be inevitable, although it has led to all sorts of abuses, and two or more decades by now it has brought the abuses to the fore. (Such as ridiculously overpaid academics, outrageously high tuition, predatory loan servicers and collectors on the back end)

    Watch this Suze Orman clip from 2009. Nothing has really changed much since then as far as student loans go, and many among the current crop of un or underemployed law grads are in for a dismal decade of ballooning sl debt.

  9. Hey 9:26 AM

    I like the cut of your jib!

  10. I was on the front lines 15 years ago trying to save the dischargeability provision on student loans within the bankruptcy code. Sallie Mae and the banks own Congress. Any idea of reversing the technical amendments of 1998 and the private student loan non-dischargeability provisions that were added in 2005 is a crack pipe dream.

  11. 9:55 AM said:

    "Sallie Mae and the banks own Congress"

    Well, there has been over one million viewers of the Professor Campos Blog so far.

    What say ye all lawyers and Judges and Academics in the USA.

    Is that statement true? Does Sallie MAe own Congress.

    Does anyone have a problem with that statement?

  12. The private lending industry has been to a significant extent pushed out of higher ed, as private educational loans are no longer federally guaranteed. Reforming direct government lending will be tougher, but the notion that real change in this area isn't possible is clearly wrong.

  13. Real change in the area of student loans is the true link behind the higher ed scam, the law school scam, and the predatory practice of the lenders. Cut down the loan money and reform is forced. It will never happen because Sallie Mae, Congress, and the DOE are in a synergistic relationship where each benefits off the sweat, blood, and tears of the borrowers. The DOE and Congress were supposed to watch out for the young and poor, instead they joined the ranks of those making money off the young.

    I doubt that there will be real reform with student loans. These criminals know and see the crisis but like housing, they profit from it. The system will have to collapse in order for their to be change. Collapse it will. In the end, the "bubble" burst will impact individual borrowers. Despite some similarities, the bubble burst will not look like housing because degrees are so personal and cannot be sold. The economy will just continue to limp along because the main drivers (Gen X and Y) are in too much debt.

    Get used to an anemic economy. It is the new norm and it is here to stay.

  14. Most folks who enter Congress go in with a decent net worth but come out as millionaires with a pension and health insurance for life to boot. You really think members of Congress make bank on their paltry salaries? The banks have power. They got Congress to repeal Glass Steagall and Goldman Sachs is now the de facto cabal of government. Look at Jon Corzine or the engineers of the Farcebook IPO pump and dump. Do you think anyone will go to jail for that? This country makes nothing. The only source of revenue is to shift it from some poor schmoes' hands into the pockets of those that own Congress. The law school scam has existed for at least 30 years. Yes, that's right. Law school was a bad proposition even in the '80s, albeit cheaper in real dollars. The curriculum was still the same (e.g., the antiquated Socratic method was still used) and law professors did not teach practice ready tips. So what changed? We reached critical mass in that there are simply too many lawyers glutting the market. Look at your Yellow pages under lawyers. I challenge anyone to find a category that has more pages. Hell, in NYC lawyers outnumber mechanics, barbers and dentists combined. The system cannot sustain the scam anymore. 20-30 years ago, people could go to law school and never practice law but would move on to other fields and eventually pay off their loans or get them discharged in bankruptcy(pre-1998). Today, you can't escape the stigma of a JD if you are looking to go into another non-legal field and the loans are just staggering. This problem will persist for decades to come, as it did 30 years ago. However, blogs such as this one are getting the word out there. I actually spoke to someone who told me last year that she was going to law school in the Fall. It somewhat restored my hope in today's generation when she told me she decided against law school because it wasn't worth it.

  15. Seriously and I challenge any well meaning and hand wringing LS Academic and/or Judge or now successful lawyer with a conscience, (For which Tamanaha might be their poster child) and relatively comfortable life that does not want to make waves:

    Is there a yes or no answer:

    Do Sallie Mae and the banks, in a general sense, "Control" Congress?

    Perhaps through lobbying etc. and by extension, control the media coverage of any related SL Debt problems?

    Come on! You guys are the ones that tout your ideology every day with words like: "Honorable Judge" and "Esteemed" Profesor or semantics to that effect.

    Let's try another approach: Have any one of you ever had a notion of what an ideal society should be like?

    And does that notion apply to all fields of law and Justice in general?

    Or has the law now become deaf and dumb as well as blind to the inherent corollary problems related to SL Debt that seem to have invaded the very body of the law in the USA?

    OK OK: "Federally guaranteed" SL debt since, as LAW PROF indicates, it seems that the private lenders have had a bit of consideration to consider of late.

  16. Fuck blaming the banks, 1%, Sallie Mae, etc etc. Nobody doubts they are going to try to make a buck wherever they can regardless of the long-term health of this country.

    The #1 culprits here are the tenured faculty and deans of American law schools. Tuition and enrollment are directly in their hands. That they have refused to act to keep either in check means they have abdicated their roles as guardians of the profession. This is a pretty damning indictment of persons who claim membership in two professions (academia and law) that claim to hold themselves to a higher ethical standard than the rest of the population. Since the ABA Section on Legal Education is in their pocket, we have no barriers to entry into the legal market except for the state bar committees.

  17. 10:42:

    I don't even know what the fuck you are talking about. Your writing is as painful to read as it is pointless.

  18. bored 3L:

    The professors became corrupt because the force of greed was too great. The banks, professors, stubborn naive lemmings, and the government are ALL to blame.

    It all started with the easy student loan money.

  19. You want to know how to fight back against the banks? Stop using their products. Don't get credit cards and don't borrow money from them. I don't owe a dime to any bank or creditor. It is truly liberating to know you don't have to answer to monthly invoices that are displacing your income. Also, don't patronize globalist companies such as Apple. I have never owned an Apple product in my life. Apple is evil, just look at the logo. A bitten apple. What happened when Adam bit the apple? Humanity was cast out of God's graces. Go off the grid. Fuck the banks, fuck these globalist companies that are enslaving you with their products. These companies own the media. The media projects what they want you to think is success. Kids see shows like "Jersey Shore" and want to emulate those morons because they drive nice cars and are living it up. People want to be the next Kim Kardashian and not work for a living. Unplug yourself from the matrix that is sucking your soul.

  20. @bored 3L -- How much has Columbia increased in size over the past 10 years?

  21. I have an idea. Every time someone tries to pull a Rutgers-Camden why don't we author a bar complaint and have all the barred readers of ITLSS sign it? I think this could be very powerful.

  22. 11:15:

    I think that is a great idea. While we are at it, why don't we make all the trolls who give smart ass answers to the real problems facing the barred readers of ITLSS scam use their real names so that we can ridicule them.

  23. I was watching St. Elmo's Fire last night and I laughed when I heard one of the characters, Kirby who wants to be a lawyer. He says something towards the end of the move "you know there are as many kids in law school now as there are lawyers". This movie was made in 1985 and even then there was an issue with the number of law students.

  24. Law Prof said:

    "The private lending industry has been to a significant extent pushed out of higher ed, as private educational loans are no longer federally guaranteed. "

    Is this true? No.


  25. One way to guarantee nothing changes is to say that nothing will change and to do nothing.

    Fighting for reform takes time. If you think its going to happen over night, or if you think whining about past failures or if you think pointing out how dire the situation is a response, then you are a part of the problem. Not the solution.

    What seems impossible now, may not seem so impossible 5 years or 10 years from now. But, that would require something alien to the American character- long term thinking.

    My problem with this post is that its all short termism. It will probably take a few years to achieve anything meaningful in terms of reform.

  26. Beyond the short termism here, let me point out another problem: Stop searching for easy villains. The problems we face are systemic. Its the banks. its the schools. Its everything working in conjunction. So, trying to search to find one culprit is counter productive. There are many because the system itself is the problem. Yes, regulatory capture is a real problem. Yes, Congress is a real problem. yes, we are a real problem. Because we are all part of the same system. The solutions will come from approach the issues systemically as well. This is why I always advocate here that's its not enough tofocus on student loans, but you must reduce cost so that education is not such a burden in the first place, you must change the incentive structures, etc. All of this must happen together.

  27. By the way, one of the reasons that private loans are probably increasing is that there are now caps on public loans, and as people hit that ceiling, they are borrowing more in private debt. The private debt collectors have every incentive to provide the loans because they aren't as risky due to lack of bankruptcy etc.

  28. 11:51: Private educational loans lost their government guarantees against default as of 2010. (This represented a genuine reform against a classic bit of crony capitalism). The data you cite are all older than that and therefore irrelevant to the current situation.

    Certainly any eligible law student would now be foolish to take out a private educational loan, given that such loans aren't eligible for IBR. And since anyone who isn't already in default on an educational loan is eligible for federal loans up to the full COA, it's safe to say the market for private law school loans is now negligible.

  29. @ 10:57AM

    Your conscience is nagging you isn't it?

    Calling everything pointless is what the guilty conscience does.

  30. Again I want to ask the over one million viewers of this blog:

    Do Sallie Mae and the so called "Banks" control Congress?

    If I had a nickel for every time I have read that sentiment in all sorts of places......

    But anyway, it is a simple yes or no question.

    Why can't anyone speak out and answer it?

    Where is the legal conscience and sense of ethics when it is needed most?

  31. 12:56:


    I did not call everything pointless, rather just the writers scribble. I also called it painful.

    I am still not sure how stating this gives me a guilty conscience. I was merely stating the obvious. I am as much a victim of the law school scam as anyone else claiming the same.

    Please lay off the drugs:).

  32. LawProf

    Show me data. Not your policy assumptions. They aren't the same thing, which continues to be one of my problems with your arguments in that you conflate data with assumption.

    Just so you know, here:

    "Private student lenders are stepping up their game to compete directly with government loans. For several years, private lenders offered mostly variable-rate loans that students used as gap funding to cover their needs above what they could get on government loans. Now private lenders are introducing loans fixed at nearly the same rates as some federal products, seeking to nab a bigger piece of the student loan market as outstanding debts balloon to more than $1 trillion."

    Precisely as I predicted they would some months ago on this site.

  33. I am not sure why you keep asking this question. You sound a little off. People are not answering it because your point has no purpose. What are you trying to prove?

  34. 1:07,
    Is your question in regard to the loan servicers? Clearly it's not applicable in regard to loan origination as that's handled by the govt.

  35. to underscore my point

    Any systemic policy changes that does not take into account private lenders will fail. They are a big part of the problem for most law school students.

    they offer worse terms (1) no IBR (2) No bankruptcy protection etc

    Yet they are consistently ignored here which means any systemic shifts will favor those private loans

    For example- caps on public loans will favor private loans as per the direct implications of the above article

  36. 1:08: Do you have any evidence that law students are still in the market for private educational loans to any significant degree? If so what is it? That's what we're talking about here -- educational loans which are purportedly disbursed to law students, but which are in large part transferred directly to law school operating budgets.

  37. Law Prof:

    So, rather than addressing the specific article that refutes your ASSUMPTION, you pretend it doesn't directly do so. You seek out a smoking gun that your assumptions are wrong without actually bothering to prove your assumptions are right.

    These large private companies are all moving the direction the article mentions into private student loans because they don't see a market? WHo is the market? The Easter Bunny? No. Students.

    Its time for you to provide evidence that the market will in fact deteriorate since the trend has been increasing and the companies engaged in those markets are now planning further increases.

    These companies do not strike me as stupid, and that's what they would have to be to buy your assumption. So no, I am not going to engage in a parsing of meaning here. You need to provide more than you have provided to back up your claims that we don't need to worry about the private market.

  38. Actually, just to get you to answer why your assumptions are right, here's a discussion here:

    "Private student loan volume is expected to return to the 25% annual growth rate unless there is another increase in federal loan limits or an expansion of the availability of federal student loans. For example, the proposal for expanding Perkins loan funding from $1 billion a year to $8.5 billion a year will cause a significant decline in private student loan volume. But so long as federal loan limits do not increase every year, private student loan volume will continue to grow at double-digit rates.

    If current trends continue, annual private education loan volume will surpass federal student loan volume by around 2030. Accordingly, it is important that students have tools they can use to compare different private student loans."

    Student loans for law school are NOT separate from this trend because the trend is based on caps on maximum amounts one can borrow.

  39. Do Sallie Mae and the "Banks" in general, control Congress?

    I did not make that statement, a prior poster did.

    But I have heard or read that sentiment over and over.

  40. Once More, and to any legal person in existence with a conscience, please have a look at this:

  41. 1:55: Again, you're linking to an article written prior to the 2010 reforms. No private lender is going to issue large uncollateralized loans to students with no assets. There's still some market for private undergraduate loans because such loans are co-signed by solvent parties with real assets (parents) and there are caps on how much federal money can be borrowed for undergraduate education. There are no caps on how much money law students can borrow, other than the COA for a particular school.

  42. The 2010 article stated a trend that it then said would continue into the future unless certain variables (caps) change.

    Article pertaining to law school loans as being no different than other loans on the issue I raised with you:

    Its being updated as of May 2011.

    I provided you an article also dated May 2012 that rebuts your claim.

    Your rebuttal continues to be YOUR ASSUMPTIONS.

    Each of the articles I list serves a different purpose. On shows trends. One shows specificity as to law school of that trend. One shows that that trend is intend continuing. T

    My providing you an article dated May 23, 2012 is rebuttal of you assumption.

    Here once again is Citi's web site that specifically provides for law school loans. Here's the terms

    "A minimum loan amount of $1,000 is required for each CitiAssist Loan.

    The cumulative amount you can borrow throughout your academic career is up to $180,000; this includes all other types of student loans.

    Your school will be asked to certify or verify the amount for which you are eligible so the final approved loan amount could be less than the amount that you requested."

    You continue to not prove your argument. I await your next restatement of your assumption without evidence, and that I am wrong because you keep trying to parse dates although each article provides evidence of a piece of the argument that I am making and does not to back up your argument whatsosever.

  43. LawProf

    The thing that swiftboating taught us about repeating a statement is that all one needs to do is to repeat it, and it will take on the air of "truthiness"

    Your repeating, despite the links, that the ARTICLES (not ARTICLE) are all prior to 2010 is that kind of 'truthiness"

    You ignore the articles that don't agree with your assumptions. You provide no evidence. You merely deny.

    I don't care what you think. I care what you can prove.

    Anyone here with any doubts about your bias can pretty much set those doubts aside.

  44. Shorter 3:09: I scoured the internet and couldn't come up with any evidence that law students are currently resorting to private loans to any degree, so I linked to a bunch of irrelevant articles.

  45. @LawProf/3:23 p.m.:

    If you look at Wells Fargo's page for graduate student loans, you will see that a graduate student may borrow up to "the cost of one's education" minus other student aid. Before Wells Fargo disburses the money, they will certify the amount by calling the school, which I imagine to mean verifying the COA that they provide to the Department of Education.

    However, if a law student is borrowing from the Department of Education, he can get $20,500 in subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans, and the remainder up to the cost of attendance with Graduate PLUS loans. The major difference is that the private student loan will almost certainly require a co-signer, whereas the Graduate PLUS loan does not.

    Unless there's soon to be a flood of law students whose parents would prefer to put their home at risk so their children can owe as little as 4.68% APR instead of 7.9% APR, and be ineligible for IBR or any of the other non-bankruptcy workarounds for federal student debt, your anonymous critic is full of shit.

  46. 5:32,
    On an unrelated note, your last paragraph has always made me wonder if changing the way federal loans are handled would make as much of a difference as so many people say. If federal loans are eliminated / capped or whatever, why wouldn't a private lender step in to fill the void and require the parents to sign as a guarantor? If parents still believe law school is the ticket to riches (little Johnny will be able to pay off these loans in no time) wouldn't they just sign using their house as collateral?

  47. As an alternative to allowing bankruptcy reform, is incarceration or rather debtor's prison in the offing for student loan debtors?

    I have heard that around 17 states now have what amounts to debtor's prison for the poor, and have been reading about how privately owned and run for profit prisons are being constructed all around the US.

    Is that the overall plan?

  48. Does anyone remember this story from last year when the Dept. of Education commissioned a SWAT team to break in and arrest a student loan debtor?

    Don't be fooled by the Dept. of Ed. PR statement. Trust me, this was a beta test of what is to come. You think you can just ignore your student loans or default on them? There has been more construction of prisons in this country in the last 5 years than there has been of hospitals in the last 40 years. This should tell all of you something.

  49. 6:47 you are out of your mind. If you don't pay your student loans, trust me, the govt is the most powerful debt collector in the world. Access to the federal new hire registry and tax intercepts in addition to the options available to traditional debt collection agencies. If you can pay your loans, trust me, they'll know. If you can't, why would they bother?

  50. @6:56PM

    I am not out of my mind. When this country was formed, debtors' prisons were outlawed. Yet, today it is common to see stories where people go to jail over debt. Of course, the media will say the debtor went to jail for contempt (i.e., failure to answer an information subpoena) but the reality is the creditors are counting on the courts to do their bidding and scare people into paying their debts. This is de-sensitizing program. I will bet you a $1 that you will start hearing about grads going to jail over student loans within a year.

  51. Welcome back, LawProf!

  52. 7:03

    I'll take your bet. One dollar IF someone goes to jail for student loan debt, I'm already 'hearing' about it.

  53. Get a jerb bums. You're pours.

  54. LawProf, sorry to get off topic, but just some food for thought:

    Re: Private Prisons in the US and how they are very profitable:

    The website for the CCA (Corrections Corporation Of America) is here, and they seem to have lots of job opportunities as well:

    Hell, the CCA even has its own flag!

    America is becoming a very frightening place to live.

    But if a Student Loan Debtor goes to jail so as to work off the debt in a corporate owned prison labor camp, and is beaten and abused and raped (which is a part of prison life as we all seem to joke and laugh about with glee in American popular culture), can Sallie Mae or the Dept. of Ed. continue to collect interest from the taxpayer?

    Deep thoughts.

  55. Daily reminder of a ridiculous double standard:

  56. lol the URL ends in SHTM, not the normal HTML.

    SHT indeed. SHT in deed.

  57. Why do we subsidize the law schools with taxpayer dollars?

    Also, query why there is so much reluctance to designate federal loan funds to certain educational programs. Why not prefer undegraduate education? Then prefer the health professions and STEM? Then perhaps specialty programs in the arts?

    Is there any good reason that MBAs and law students should receive limitless grad PLUS loans? It strikes me as frickin crazy.

    But deep analysis no longer exists in America. Rather, it is sold to the public as necessary so that poor, aspiring Atticus Finches can afford to reach their dream of serving the wrongly accused. Total bunk.

  58. If the choice were between no bankruptcy ever or going to prison over student loan debt, I would take the no bankruptcy option hands down.

    But maybe the legal system in the US has been rendered powerless, which goes back to my earlier question: Doesn't anyone that reads this blog care about what is going on?

    Doesn't anyone working in the field of bankruptcy law care about stories of doubled, or tripled student loan balances, with no moratorium on interest charges ever?

    This has been going on for a quite a while. For example, read the testimonials here:

    And read this again:

    One last question and I won't comment on this post anymore:

    Does having the Correction Corporation of America in a stock portfolio seem at least a little bit problematic to anyone?

  59. I think a real eyeopener would be for all unemployed/underemployed lawyers to attend homecoming, alumni weekend, etc.

    If faculty were confronted with seas of victims, most would not know how to deal.

    Frankly, most faculty benefit from the loan scam and don't ask too many questions. In short, they're akin to the wives of mobsters rather than the mobsters themselves. Make it really uncomfortable for the faculty and see if they'll lie to your face.

  60. Here's an idea: instead of graduating college, or even high school, avoid the debt, and go work in one of those prisons. Six figures, benefits, healthcare, political protection, and retirement at the ripe old age of 45. Nah. Fuck that. That is certainly not prestigious enough...

  61. @8:03:

    As tense as my office may be at times, I rarely have feces thrown at me.

    For an interesting analysis of a corrections officer's lifestyle, see: Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing

  62. I hope LawProf and/or DJM will comment regarding today's WSJ opinion piece on deregulating law practice.

  63. @ terry malloy:

    I never said it was going to be easy, but 100-150k salary, full benefits, and retirment before 50 seems an infinitely better fate than even a sold outcome from LS: 150K in of non-dischargeable debt with a 55k a year job (in a profession that is sinking).

  64. @ . _ _ _ on MAY 28, 2012 5:32 PM:

    Total comment word count: 178.

    Gist: Last 7 words.

    Well done.

  65. Law Prof

    The shorter version of my statement is that you are someone with an agenda, this is your blog, and its not worth my time.

    The things I posted took each appears on the first page of Googling the subject.

    It underscores the point that you aren't an honest person, this is not an honest debate, and you are trying to push your audience towards certain solutions.

    The fact you have yet to discuss the Business Week article which destroys your argument says all that needs to be said.

  66. I am sure any comments about deregulating the legal practice will be glowing given the statements already made here.

    As I said, else where, how any one can type with a straight fact that the solution to an oversupply of lawyers is to deregulate the process of entering the market or how this will remotely help either lawyers or clients is beyond me. But it takes a special talent to manipulate debates towards certain solutions that just so happen to fight whats been happening throughout our society. Ironically, the same approach that leads to the very crisis that we have in the first place in the legal market- namely no one wanting to pay for it so consumer debt was chosen just like its been chosen in just about every other aspect of the American economy.

  67. The things that I mention about private loans are fairly easy to Google if any one cares to do it rather than listen to the good professor and his entourage.

    Of course, here's the kicker: the good professor and his entourage seem only interested in "solutions" that lead to the same mess we find in other sectors, they only seem to worry about law school issues rather than connecting the trends in law school to other parts of the educational market (its ironic then that he speaks above in a separate post of "special snow flake" since the entire site advocates that there is something special about law school loan debt versus other school debt, etc.).

    At the end of the day, neither the professor who is entourage have proven anything the way of solutions.

    They are just telling you the nature of the problem, and then hoping you miss that they are only offering solutions that aren't addressing the private sector element.

    The whole overreaction to the Business Week article that says exactly what I wrote here (dated again May 23, 2012) should be an eye opener to anyone who bothers to read the article rather than read the commentary about it.

  68. I tried in vain for 2 days to convince a recent college grad not to attend law school, despite all the data I showed her on sites like this and the NY times articles and the facebook page Don't Go to Law School, she is still going to a TTT...*sigh*

  69. I'm glad I went to law school. I had poor grades in undergrad (as I dislike school), standardized test scores in the top 10%, a BV rating after 3 years of practice, and now I review and summarize medical records all day. Perhaps if I drank more heavily my mind would feel more taxed or I'd be more challenged? However, I'm glad I missed those 3 years in the workforce for a chance to work harder, for significantly less, than my friends from undergrad in business.

  70. This has been going on for a quite a while. For example, read the testimonials here:

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