Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Special Snowflake Syndrome and the spirit of capitalism

Among other things,the site Top Law Schools offers a fascinating glimpse into the psychology of prospective law students, aka 0Ls.  A common affliction among 0Ls is what the more perceptive law students and recent graduates who post on the site refer to as "special snowflake syndrome."  The classic symptoms of SSS tend to be exhibited by 0Ls who ask for advice regarding questions such as this, which is literally the first post I read on the site this morning:

So I've been accepted to Hofstra law as well as California Western. California Western is going to give me a 45,000 scholarship for the three years that I attend. I have two questions:

1st- Would I be better off moving from California to New York to attend Hofstra (tier 2 school) or stay in California to attend Cal Western ( tier 4 school). Basically is it a smart idea to move for a tier 2 school.

2nd- If I do attend Hofstra can I ever make my way back to California. I hear that where ever you go to laws school most people usually stay in the area because of the networking and job prospects are usually better. I'm just wondering if I stay and work a couple of years and gain some experience in New York will I be able to use that to gain a job in California.
Veteran TLS commenters will be sure to inform this misguided soul that attending Hofstra at sticker or Cal Western with a $15K per year "scholarship" (really a cross-subsidized tuition discount) is a horrible idea under almost any possible circumstance.  The original poster may well then resist this advice, by making some combination of the following claims:

(1) I plan to work exceptionally hard in law school and finish in the top 10% of my class.

(2) After killing it in my first year I will transfer to a much better school.

(3)  I have met several very successful lawyers who graduated from Hofstra/Cal Western.

(4)  If I'm only making $50K a year as a lawyer after I graduate I can go into this government debt forgiveness program that I've heard about, and after all $50K is just a starting salary.

(5)  There are a bunch of special circumstances about me that make my situation different from those of most people who have my entrance stats.

In other words, statistical extrapolation doesn't really apply in my case, because I'm not a statistic.

It's very tempting to interpret this sort of response moralistically as a sign of a flawed personal character, or to pathologize it as a symptom of a psychological deficit (in fact the latter is what the phrase Special Snowflake Syndrome does), or to simply treat it as evidence of stupidity.  But such responses gloss over the extent to which the sheer ubiquity of SSS indicates that it is really a product of deep structural factors more than of individual moral weaknesses or cognitive deficits.

In fact, Special Snowflake Syndrome could be re-characterized as "Thinking Like a Properly Socialized American" (or at least a properly socialized American from those social classes that produce the vast majority of law students).

Consider three central features of SSS: optimism bias, confirmation bias, and causal bias.

Optimism bias:  Americans in general, and middle and upper middle class Americans in particular, are socialized to be optimistic, in the sense that they are encouraged to believe that the chances of a good outcome for them personally are higher than average, and, even more powerfully, that the chances of a bad outcome for them are lower than average.  Of course this is a nonsensical belief from a statistical standpoint, but perhaps the most important element of SSS is that Americans are also socialized not to believe in the predictive value of statistics as applied to themselves as individuals.  (This belief, by the way, turns out to be perfectly compatible with a strong belief in the predictive value of statistics as applied to others.)

Confirmation bias:  People have a strong cognitive bias toward paying attention  to information they find pleasing, while ignoring data they find disturbing.  This again is a manifestation of how difficult it is for us to genuinely embrace statistical modes of reasoning, at least in regard to ourselves, and subjects we care deeply about.  Anecdotes that confirm our biases are interpreted as presumptively meaningful; carefully controlled studies challenging those biases are flawed, cherry-picked, and examples of how you can make statistics say anything.

Causal bias:  One reason people hate statistical reasoning is that such reasoning requires embracing the large role that random factors play in outcomes.  Our minds hate randomness, because randomness is something we can't control.  Here's an example, provided by the statisticians Howard Wainer and Harris Zwerling, and referenced in Daniel Kahneman's excellent book, Thinking, Fast and Slow: A study of the incidence of kidney cancer in the 3,141 counties in the USA reveals a striking pattern. The counties in which the incidence is lowest are mostly rural, sparsely populated, and located in traditionally Republican states in the South, the Midwest, and the West.  What explains this pattern?

It's easy enough to come up with all sorts of plausible-sounding theories for why this might be the case (lower pollution levels, healthier food, higher activity levels, etc.)  Well it turns out that the counties which have the highest incidence of kidney cancer are . . . mostly rural, sparsely populated, and located in traditionally Republican states in the South, Midwest, and West.  Again it's easy to come up with theories as to why; rural poverty, no access to good health care, high-fat diets, higher tobacco use, etc.

Now obviously these various theories completely contradict each other, and the real explanation is a statistical artifact:  counties with low populations are as a consequence of their low populations much more likely to produce statistically outlying results.  In other words, the correlations observed have no causal significance at all.  But we resist this explanation.  We like causal reasoning, because causal reasoning produces a sense of control ("don't live in a polluted area; don't eat high-fat food"), while embracing randomness leads to the opposite sensation ("don't be unlucky enough to contract kidney cancer.").

Special Snowflake Syndrome is just an extension of these strongly socialized cognitive biases.  Blaming people for failing to take "personal responsibility" for their "bad choices" is akin to blaming them for being members of this culture. All of which is to say that a structural problem requires a structural response, rather than exhorting individuals to become different people.

125 comments:

  1. It's kind of like law schools are selling crack or heroin.

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  2. Dude, you guys, this is seriously the best blog on the internet. LawProf just continues to bring the heat with another perfect blend of snark + infallible reasoning + genuine concern for young people.

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  3. I agree with 10:14. The lack of bullshit makes this blog a breath of fresh air.

    Lawprof, when other law profs give you the stinkeye in the faculty lounge, please rest assured that you are morally superior to them. I'm sure that superman gets the stinkeye in the supervillain lounge.

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  4. Why must taxpayers subsidize law schools?

    Is there a good reason -- or any logical reason that will pass a laugh test -- for why America should print more debt so that little Janey can go to law school at Cooley?

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  5. In fairness, it should be noted that all of the responses to the naive 0L told her that attending Hofstra or Cal Western would be a huge mistake. Maybe the word is getting out.

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  6. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman... book of the year!

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  7. Great entry! Hell, I was expecting a Tyler Durden reference/quote towards the end.

    On a related note, shouldn't cognitive dissonance set in, once a student's choices for law school consist of Hof$tra or Cal We$TTTTern?!?! The student is presumably aware of the rankings, which reflect the particular commode's reputation. This clearly affects one's chances at finding legal employment.

    Also, if one is from a different region, it will be difficult to break into the legal community in a new town. Furthermore, if you went out of state - or region - to attend law school only to return home, you will find it difficult to crack that market. If you went to a pedestrian school, prepare to hang your own shingle or sell insurance policies. (Several lawyers and "law professors" have told me that grads from elite schools who look for work in other regions may face some tough questioning from recruiters and hiring managers. For instance, even a Berkeley grad testing the NYC or Boston markets may be viewed suspiciously.)

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  8. "The original poster will then most likely resist this advice, by making some combination of the following claims:"

    I looked back at the TLS thread, and the original poster has not even reposted or made any of these claims, so you suffering from stereotyping bias.

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  9. What a coincidence? I was at a barbecue in Long Island over the weekend and I met a guy in his late 50s who was talking to me about his son, a recent law grad from Hofstra. I will call his son "Owen Moore." Apparently Owen graduated with no legal job and has exhausted his forebearances and his dad is being harrassed by GG Services, acting as a collector for Sallie Mae. Owen's dad co-signed for $90K in loans. The dad is on disability and does not work. The dad is convinced that he can discharge his co-obligor liability in bankruptcy court. He also believes he is judgment proof. I just nodded although deep inside I knew the dad was wrong. I can't help but think about special snowflakes who will be committing financial parricide.

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  10. To the mental midget who posted at 10:53 am,

    Did Campos state that the original poster would resist the advice - and make a written response to the other TLS users? One *can* resist advice by merely ignoring the responses. Do...you...understand...that?!?!

    With your reading comprehension "skills," you could likely end up at California Western Sewer of Law.

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  11. If these are your two options (Hofstra and Cal Western), you will like your options upon graduation even less.

    You will not have a job, or at least one that pays more than the job you currently can get. You will, however, have a lot of debt.

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  12. "(Several lawyers and "law professors" have told me that grads from elite schools who look for work in other regions may face some tough questioning from recruiters and hiring managers. For instance, even a Berkeley grad testing the NYC or Boston markets may be viewed suspiciously.)"

    I've experienced this. It wasn't so much the questioning (I had ties to the market) but the fact that there were just fewer slots available for non-market candidates. When firms cut back hiring, they kept relationships with the top local schools. It didn't matter whether I was born and raised in the area.

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  13. This is a great testament to the effectiveness of the movement. Even on TLS, Hofstra and California Western are (rightly) getting destroyed.

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  14. I wonder what Tony Robbins would say in reply to today's Post by LawProf?

    He might say: "There are no losers. Only potential winners!"

    http://www.tonyrobbins.com/

    And as for the person that went to a barbecue on Long Island, here is a special song for you!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUzs5dlLrm0

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  15. Have you seen this other post and replies on TLS. http://top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=18548
    1."Not good. Hofstra is a bottom feeding school in the most competitive legal market in the world. You might as well go to Vegas and gamble the loan money. Retake or don't go. It's not even worth going with a full scholly unless you get a stipend that will cover all your expenses... Even then it would still be a waste of time and energy. Look at law school transparancy. Your chances of even becoming a lawyer and practicing law at Hofstra is very poor."
    2. "As an attorney practicing in the NY area that did not attend a "top" law school, I can tell you that Hofstra is possibly the longest running joke in the New York legal community. Its objectively better than Pace and Touro (also dog-shit law schools), yet somehow, Hofstra remains a better punch line than either of those other shit-piles. The students are sub-par. The attorneys that graduate are mediocre. The bar pass rate fluctuates between "average" and absolutely pitiful to the one of the worst in New York State (depending on the year in question). This is all before you even get to the guido jokes, which trust me, if you are attending Hofstra, those jokes will become a way of life for you..."
    3. "Hofstra Law will now be the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, or as I intend to call it, MAD LAW. Congratulations Hofstra. By renaming the LS after a person who did not even practice law and has made no significant contribution to the legal community you have once again remind us why no one takes your school seriously in or out of the NY area. Well done, as always. Touro may be a shit-pile, but at least it's namesake was a heavy-hitter in the legal community."
    4. "Im not from NY, but how fine of a reputation can a school actually have if only half their students end up with full time legal employment?"
    5. "The Hofstra non-LR people aren't making it to the interviews, their resumes are being thrown out before they get there."
    6. "JLR wrote:
    As a senior partner in a large firm, I can say that going to Hofstra will not get you in the door."

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  16. Tiny Changes Mean HUGE RESULTS!!!!!


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bH89Eka_MCM

    There is no Snowflake Syndrome.

    Postive thinking folks! Positive thinking!

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  17. HEY!

    I really resent anyone that puts down Touro Law School, which is more betterer than Hofstra.

    It really sticks in my craw!

    http://abovethelaw.com/2010/11/turns-out-touro-is-even-crappier-than-we-thought/

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  18. Now hofstra's dean Nora Demleitner is moving on to Washington and Lee. She leaves Hofstra in a shambles, including being sued for defrauding its students. I guess lying and fraud is the best way to move up in the law school world.

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  19. Rob, I have a name, in MadridMay 29, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    Blaming people for failing to take "personal responsibility" for their "bad choices" is akin to blaming them for being members of this culture

    THANK YOU, I hate when people moralise like that

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  20. Hofstra is the best Law School on the EARRF!

    A couple of kind of cheezy ambulance chaser law firms have dedication or donation plaques outside of a couple of the classrooms.

    My heart sank when I saw them a number of years ago.

    I heard, from a source, and a long, long time ago, that when Hofstra took dontation money from certain law firms, they kind of held their noses, but took the money anyway.

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  21. ^^^Spelling error. I meant dontation(sic) and not "donation" money.

    Different word. Different meaning.

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  22. "(Several lawyers and "law professors" have told me that grads from elite schools who look for work in other regions may face some tough questioning from recruiters and hiring managers. For instance, even a Berkeley grad testing the NYC or Boston markets may be viewed suspiciously.)"

    I had this problem even interviewing in my regional school's territory. I came from out-of-state to attend law school and ended up enjoying the city, people and affordable cost of living. Unfortunately, since my resume included my prior education, professional and even some legal experience in my home, and stereotypically more desirable state, interviewers did not believe that I actually had any intention of staying for the long term.

    Moved back home and am now suffering the plight of my regional degree.

    Just can't win.

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  23. 12:35 meh, every private law school outside of the top 30 (except Touro) is on the lawsuit list (either currently sued or on the list to be sued this month). That is 8 NY schools including Cardozo. Hard to draw too many conclusions from that.

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  24. What many "snowflakes" don't get is that there actually are special snowflakes, to whom the stats don't apply as rigorously: people with strong connections or other social capital. For ordinary people, the stats are even worse than they appear. (Or would appear if honestly presented.)

    [I was just chatting with a cousin of mine. Her grandfather was at the firm now known as Kirkland & Ellis for decades in the 20th century, and her father went to Williams/UVA and retired from his reputable, if regional, firm. Her daughter just graduated from a top 10 law school in the state where her dad practiced, where she edited the law review, and is starting at an AmLaw 15 firm -- she was a summer associate -- after the bar. Obviously, things can still go wrong for the daughter. But really, only an idiot would think himself a special snowflake when the odds are being beaten with people starting out with a lot of social capital are as steep as they are. Not to take anything away from the daughter's achievement, of course.]

    CC

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  25. Write a book. Give the proceeds to Law School Transparency.

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  26. "Would I be better off moving from California to New York to attend Hofstra (tier 2 school) or stay in California to attend Cal Western ( tier 4 school). Basically is it a smart idea to move for a tier 2 school."

    Stopped reading after this. what the fuck man? What the hell fuck?

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  27. Wait, are you sure whoever wrote you that isn't trolling you with absurd questions?

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  28. After reading some of the comments here I feel like I was not at a "law school scam blog," but rather at some literotica site...

    The way some of you verbally suck LawProf off I seriously think you might masterbate to his Colo. Law photo.

    Is LawProf going to accept his 2012 pay raise? Or did he already?

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  29. Notice that the Special Snowflake did not pick up that Hofstra's nominal second tier rating means nothing because it is in the New York City regional market where it is overshadowed by the local alpha law schools. The lesson is that The USN&WR system means diddly squat when your law school is bottom of the barrel when compared to competitors serving the same market.

    My best to Nora, I knew her at Bates College, and hopefully she's still the same person she was there, and not a gollum who has been transformed by "precious".

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  30. Someone should delete 2:04.

    You can say horrendously offensive things, but you still have to combine the comment with something of substance.

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  31. Causal bias would also explain someone who entered law school pre-recession and graduated post-recession, or got a job out of law school but lost it in the recession, yet filed a lawsuit against their law school.

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  32. http://abovethelaw.com/2011/12/landslide-choice-for-worst-law-school-in-new-york/#more-116602

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  33. Blaming society for your actions is the oldest excuse in the world. Society doesn't make you go to Hofstra, you decide to go to Hofstra. If a gang member on trial for murder used the excuse that the culture he grew up in was highly violent and caused him to kill his victim, he'd still get convicted.

    Yes, American society is very optimistic. So are many others. But you don't get a pass for going to a crappy law school because of it. There is abundant information out there nowadays concerning what you're getting into when going to Hofstra or anywhere else. I would say something about personal responsibility but the readership here seems to believe that doesn't exist.

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  34. 2:46:

    You keep posting the same crap over and over. You just use different words. Your writing style is easily recognizable.

    A few thoughts:

    There is abundant info nowadays but there was not even 1.5 years ago. How do you explain this fact to the souls caught up in the scam pre-2011? Blogs like these provide that information. People like you do society no good.

    Solutions are the key. The Scambloggers are moving in that direction. Join in and be of value of STFU.

    If you are going to criticize, why don't you reveal yourself? I will love to meet somebody like you face-to-face. If you believe you are right, why hide? You bring the personal attacks, I will use facts and logic. After all, the truth is on our side.

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  35. 2:46- there is only NOW "abundant," correct information regarding these law schools. and i would hesitate before calling it abundant, necessarily.

    law schools still actively engage in deception tactics meant to lure students and their valuable loan dollars. see rutgers camden. what don't you get about this? if this were products liability, these law schools would be open-and-shut materially misrepresenting their "product." you and judge sweitzer golf together?

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  36. 2:59, this is 2:46. I haven't posted comments in any scamblogs in at least a month. Surprise, surprise, there's more than one person who thinks this way.

    Maybe someone has resorted to personal attacks, but it ain't me.

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  37. 3:00, this post clearly pertains to people currently considering law school. You can argue that a few years ago, it was harder to for people to ferret out the truth. Nowadays, there's absolutely no excuse, as the "law school scam" is plastered over the internet like so much cheap porn.

    Yet still, tons of people are going to go to law school, including the TTTT ones and so on. And people like LawProf will continue to blame society 100% for causing them to do that.

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  38. To 2:04

    the verbal sucking you describe is a byproduct of the confirmatoon bias to readers of this site.

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  39. Again the overriding and overall problem for all of the above and maybe even the very premise of the scamblogs and this blog as well is the morally problematic problem of the nondischargeability of SL debt in Bankruptcy Court.

    A few older and intrepid Judges with perhaps a conscience could change all of that within a relatively short span of time.

    If the Judicial standard of what constitutes an extreme hardship were lessened, based upon what the older Judges of which I hypothetically speak now are familiar with based upon history and the last two decades or so of obvious wild west SL loan interest piled up by banking raptors that operate with impunity....

    they might try to change the standard of undue hardship so as to finally give the debtor some relief, and at the same times the law schools and,by extension, the rest of Higher Ed. a bit of contractual risk to think about.

    The ball is in the court of the the Bankruptcy Judges really, and none of us.

    Because doesn't a so called political student loan "Human Capital" contract between the government backed private lender and the individual private citizen in reality amount to a contract that is illusory, in that there is no bargained for legal detriment on both sides of the exchange?

    There is no risk to the lender, with all the risk on the part of the borrower.

    If Paul, the borrower cannot pay, then Peter, the taxpayer, will pay.

    Whatever contractual arrangement that is, it is not what Roman/English and American Law Schools teach.

    But very well.

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  40. I blame you 3:04.

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  41. It's so frustrating to have to explain to someone applying (full sticker) to Hofstra why the two words "better off" are completely out of place in the context of such a discussion.

    I mean, if you're going to a toilet because you don't want to work at Walmart and you understand it's a three year vacation then that's one thing. But if you sincerely think you'll be "better off" for it then, well SMDH as they say.

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  42. Look, kids, if you go to law school go for pleasure. You're taking an irresponsible vacation funded by the taxpayers so just go all out. Lots of fucking. Lots of booze. You might as well.

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  43. If your choice is between Hofstra and not going to law school, don't go to law school.Hofstra has a terrible reputation with lawyers in New York.

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  44. 2:46: The whole point is that these people CAN'T make the optimal decision. They are not rational actors. They are cognitively impaired from making the rational decision.

    When confronted with this scenario, the prevailing mentality in this country until 2007 was quite simply, "fuck that guy. If he is too stupid to make rational decisions, let him get buried under the weight of his own poor choices." Then the bubble popped. And a whole load of people who never took out subprime mortgages, refinanced their houses to buy expensive consumer goods, or authorized bad home loans suffered. My father was laid off three times in four years because of a crappy economy. He's always lived within his means, never purchased anything gaudy or expensive with home equity. His home value took a bath and he will now probably lose money on his house. A guy who worked hard for many years and made what most people would consider good decisions.

    So my takeaway from all this is that we should exercise some healthy paternalism (oh gods no!) and not let people make bad financial decisions en masse, including taking out 150K to attend Hofstra and other TTTs. Not only is it bad for the individual, it's bad for the taxpayer and the reputation of our "noble" profession. The only people who seem to benefit are law school deans, tenured profs, and maybe lenders. I am not going to enter a profession just to watch it's standing fall among members of my generation because greedy profs can't keep their hands out of the cookie jar.

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  45. "Blaming society for your actions is the oldest excuse in the world. Society doesn't make you go to Hofstra, you decide to go to Hofstra."

    All we ask for is the same fraud and bankruptcy protections as every other consumer debtor.

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  46. Hofstra or Cal Western? Seems to me like a Magnum .44 is missing from the menu of choices. If these are your choices, at least with the Magnum, your demise is quick and painless.

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  47. There is also a bias against taking advice from someone who appears to be condescending to you. If a 0L goes onto TLS with a question and is mocked as a "special snowflake", they probably will disregard anything they hear from the person doing the mocking.

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  48. LOL! So Funny!

    This Post is turning out to be all about Hofstra!

    Do you know that the NY Jets used to practice at Hofstra, and I once saw Broadway Joe Namath number 12 at practice at the Hofstra Campus when I was a kid in the 1970's?

    That fact alone should exonerate Hofstra from any wrongding as an entity, including the law school.

    So lets all forget about good ol' Hofstra in the name of Broadway Joe, and:

    Go Jets!


    PS: To all the less sophisticated people in the rest of the USA: Long Island and New York is not all about Joey Buttafuco and Amy Fischer and playing stickball in the Bronx and the "Guidos" (an offensive term).

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  49. Look this "taking personal responsibility" POV has been said many many times. And while I don't disagree, it doesn't absolve the scammers to just cry "caveat emptor". Otherwise with this line of reasoning, we might as well get rid of all manner of torts because, you know, you could ultimately blame everything on the victims because they didn't do "enough" research even if the scammers committed outright fraud, deception and lying.

    Law school students should have some personal responsibility. But they should not have any MORE responsibility than any other consumer of goods and services.

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  50. Craig: 2:46 etc here. I'd actually be in favor of bankruptcy protection for certain student loans. What gets me about these blogs is this idea that no matter what, if you go to law school and end out indebted with limited job prospects, then it's not *at all* your fault. Society made you do it, you were scammed, blah blah blah. Maybe you can admit it is partially your fault for being overconfident??? No, it's all the fault of American society, it turned me into an overconfident person. That's what today's blog post is saying.

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  51. Great post by LawProf.

    SSS is precisely why transparency won't ultimately work that well. Sure a few will see the numbers and rationally decide law school is a losing bet. But SSS will still drive many to go to law school and borrow enormous sums to do so.

    This is why the key to solving the law school/higher ed scam is to reform student loans. I would not eliminate them completely as I want people without means to be able to go. But I would make them only 50% guaranteed and if a student defaults, the school is on the hook to pay back to the govt half of what is owed.

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  52. 4:30,
    Thank you. It bothers me too that people think they shouldn't even accept partial responsibility for their actions.

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  53. @4:30pm

    I agree that that SOME fault lies with the students just like I would agree that SOME fault LIES with the victims of Bernie Madoff who invested with him with returns too good to be true and just blindly trusted him.

    But the fault lies MOSTLY with the law school who made deceptive and false pitches to market and entice naive and unsophisticated consumers.

    Also this post doesn't really seem to exonerate students the way I read it. Rather it seems to at least partially blame them for "magical thinking" that will somehow be above average when it is statistically impossible for everyone with SSS to be "above average".

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  54. @4:39 Read the last paragraph. If that's not a way of saying "society made them do it" I don't know what is.

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  55. http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=185482

    Just read some of the comments by JLR. Pretty hilarious until you realize he is giving the go-ahead to attend a school from where he will probably never hire someone who isn't on law review.

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  56. @ 4:45pm

    We have law schools that have and still do (see Rutgers-Camden email solicitation) entice students to attend law school under misleading and false premises. We have a society which, even now, says go to college, go to grad school, it will pay off, especially by clueless boomers who don't know better. We also have a culture where everyone is made to believe to believe they are a "special snowflake".

    So with ALL THIS, how much blame does the individual have in this setup? They have SOME but not VERY MUCH IMHO.

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  57. I met this really great woman. I'm thinking about taking her to meet the family. Unfortunately, my father is still in prison for embezzling, my mother is still insane, and my cousin's still a prostitute... But anyway, my question is, do I tell her about my brother who wants to go to a TTT, or pretend I'm an only child?

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  58. Every single scam blog I've had the fun to read develops into the same "worship the blogger" and "anyone who comments with a different viewpoint should STFU and go away" paradise.

    So yes, when you commenters genuflect, textually applaud, praise, slobber, and then ejaculate all over your keyboards to tell LawProf how awesome he is it shows that you are beyond hope of every seeing the big picture and solving anything.

    It is comical how each scam blog following becomes as fanatical as the congregation of a church with a nutjob pastor...pitchforks in hand ready to attack anyone who doesn't buy the dogma. It is also comical how some of the wimps doing it make challenges like they want to physically meet these commenters with differing opinions to mete out some justice!

    I am so very, very disappointed that LawProf let things get this way. I expect no more from the other embittered scam bloggers, but I thought a tenured law professor would maintain a higher standard.

    Too bad.

    Now let me guess...at least one of you whiny nancy-boys wants to meet me with your pitchfork, right? Let me make it easy for you--no.

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  59. 5:08:

    Cool story bro!

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  60. 5:08:

    You sound like a member of the law school scam. You mock because you are scared. With Dewey filing BK, I think you law school asswipes are scared in your boots. In two years, after the bubble burst, we may point to Dewey's filing as the beginning of the end.

    4:30: For years I blamed myself (and only myself) re: my inability to seek meaningful employment. It was not until I found the Scambloggers that I found that I was 1) not alone and 2) there are more people like me than not.

    So fuck both of you.

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  61. "Every single scam blog ...develops into the same "worship the blogger" and "anyone who comments with a different viewpoint should STFU and go away" paradise."

    I've just recently (past couple weeks) come to this and have read through much or most of this year's posts with each their comments.

    I've noticed some of the hero worship aspects. Still, why not use descriptors like "obsequious" or "boot licking", which would seem to describe the objective display of the hero worship without resorting to injection of imagined sexual aspects?

    Anyway, you take the blog owner here to task for permitting the boot lickers to lick boots. My question is, what do you want him to do about them? Censor them? Admonish them ("Get thee behind me, Boot Lickers!")?

    ReplyDelete
  62. This was a really good comment thread.

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  63. @5:26, "You sound like a member of the law school scam. You mock because you are scared. With Dewey filing BK, I think you law school asswipes are scared in your boots."

    So, he writes something you disagree with, and you immediately assume he's "a member of" the scam, accuse him of such, then proceed as if your knee jerk reaction is correct.

    Do you realize you're pretty much making his points for him?

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  64. @5:37: So a person can comment and anyone who disagrees with said person is immediately making their points? Makes no sense.

    Here is a thought: Add something of value to the conversation or add nothing at all. What is the point of 5:08's post?

    ReplyDelete
  65. "Add something of value to the conversation or add nothing at all. "

    You're doing it again.

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  66. 4:25. If you had gone to Hofstra Law School you would understand. The place is terrible and the administration is totally clueless. Most of my friends are not getting jobs. Going here is a waste.

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  67. I tried in vain for 2 days to convince a recent college grad not to attend law school, but 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*

    ReplyDelete
  68. Anyone know any reason why I can't comment here any longer using my desktop but can using my iPhone and iPad on the same wifi connection? I've tried three different browsers and even tor proxy. Any ideas?

    /frustrated

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  69. I know so many lambs being lead to the slaughter. I tried to dissuade them, but there is no use. They see only what they want to see. They hear only what they want to hear.

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  70. Using Tor proxy utilizes a different IP..,so it can't be banned.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Law prof, if you really are banning IPs then you are truly a pathetic human being. If this is true just wait and see how what true troll can do. Answer the question. If you don't I'll assume it's true.

    ReplyDelete
  72. I'm not banning IPs. If I did, the first to go would be a certain "legal academic" who projects his rather unappetizing psycho-sexual frustrations onto these comment threads.

    If I get annoyed enough I may out him however.

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  73. All good then...I haven't agreed with you 100% of the time but I've always respected your POV. Banning IPs would have been a shock. And please do out this prof...We'll all enjoy the show. Http://i.imgur.com/VQbOe.gif

    ReplyDelete
  74. @5:16, I love that demotivator--I use it as my laptop skin. This one is also good for 0Ls you're hoping to educate: http://www.despair.com/ambition.html.

    ReplyDelete
  75. LP- I am personally offended by that troll's garbage and urge you to out him/her.

    ReplyDelete
  76. can someone give me the timestamp of the troll comments? if they were deleted can you please provide a summary? it's late and I don't feel like reading everything.

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  77. I just read all the comments. Did not see a single psycho-sexual, trolling (in other words interesting) comment.

    Either I have been meta-trolled (meaning you falsely said there was trolling in this thread, to get my interest, when there was none) or there was no trolling ITT.

    Thanks for nothing. Now I'm off to bed, and bored.

    ReplyDelete
  78. It's easy enough to come up with all sorts of plausible-sounding theories for why this might be the case (lower pollution levels, healthier food, higher activity levels, etc.) Well it turns out that the counties which have the highest incidence of kidney cancer are . . . mostly rural, sparsely populated, and located in traditionally Republican states in the South, Midwest, and West. Again it's easy to come up with theories as to why; rural poverty, no access to good health care, high-fat diets, higher tobacco use, etc.

    Now obviously these various theories completely contradict each other, and the real explanation is a statistical artifact: counties with low populations are as a consequence of their low populations much more likely to produce statistically outlying results. In other words, the correlations observed have no causal significance at all. But we resist this explanation. We like causal reasoning, because causal reasoning produces a sense of control ("don't live in a polluted area; don't eat high-fat food"), while embracing randomness leads to the opposite sensation ("don't be unlucky enough to contract kidney cancer.").

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

    Over-under on the number of this blog's readers who undersood this? I'm guessing 10% got it, if that.

    To the other 90%, google the law of large numbers.

    ReplyDelete
  79. Summary as LP put it is, someone "who projects his rather unappetizing psycho-sexual frustrations".

    Kind of funny all the calls from the peanut gallery to "Out him! Out him! (Send us Barabbas!)"

    Especially the "I urge you to out him" calls... ...if everyone's posting anonymously, how much credence does the LP permit such urging?

    Anyway, IMHO (not that the sockies will like it), if one runs a blog permitting anonymous posters, it's actually more honorable to (e.g.) ban an IP address of an abuser than to permit that person to post anonymously, then "out" him.

    ReplyDelete
  80. Interestingly, there may be a good analogy between the above and the top/bottom of your average law school class.

    ReplyDelete
  81. Apologies - my post above at 8:20PM was directed to poster at 8:07 pm.

    ReplyDelete
  82. 8:20, Was the psycho-sexual thread deleted? What did it say?

    I mean, it would have to have been pretty messed up to be "psycho sexual" in this environment (the internets).

    I'm guess something involving DJM, a donkey and the harlem globe trotters?

    ReplyDelete
  83. @ 8:22, try 2:04, 5:08 pm. I think LP's characterization may have included a fair number of comments from other days/other posts in addition to these.

    ReplyDelete
  84. I think he's referring to 2:04 p.m. *shrugs*

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  85. @ 8:14's comment, "Over-under on the number of this blog's readers who undersood this? I'm guessing 10% got it, if that. "


    Oooohie, you're soooo smart.

    Can we all fondle your parietal lobes?

    ReplyDelete
  86. ewww sick were 2:04 and 5:08 just restored or is my scan-reading no good?

    ReplyDelete
  87. AtheistATLLawyerMay 29, 2012 at 8:51 PM

    Out the law school criminal professor.

    Out him so we can mock him.

    Out him so he can lose his cushy bullshit "job".

    Out him so that he can "find a job in the private sector".

    Out him so he can make 35k a year like the vast majority of his graduates.

    ReplyDelete
  88. 8:20,
    Yeah...there's a few people that comment here that are seriously unhinged.

    ReplyDelete
  89. calm the hell down; this stuff is tame by internet standards.

    ReplyDelete
  90. but it's pretty wild by law professor standards. it could be a career-killer. it should be. come on, LP. bring the house down... one self-satisfied buffoon at a time...

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  91. 8:56--

    You are correct, but this is serious stuff. The kind of comments that characterize the thread today detract from issues and make a mockery of the pain the scam has caused. All that does is make everybody here appear as idiots who cannot compose a proper sentence and have the vocabulary of a 4th grader.

    Old Lawyer

    ReplyDelete
  92. Just curious and two questions and some other stuff blah blah:

    1. Is there an exact time period or even a date that can be said to be the genesis or beginning of most of the problems associated with the "Law School Scam"? (such as the overproduction of JD's and the crushing debt)

    2. Can the Dewey bankruptcy somehow potentially affect future law school enrollment? Especially if, as someone commented, more large firms might be declaring bankruptcy as well?


    And as far as the culture sort of encouraging people to become lawyers, there are so many examples. For instance, Willie Nelson sang: "Moma's don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys. Let them be Doctors and Lawyers and such."

    And all the movies such as The Verdict, To Kill a Mockingbird, etc. etc.

    And of course, there has always been an unquestionable belief or sense of the rank order of things, with Lawyers somewhere near the top.

    Then there were the founding fathers (Such as Jefferson, Adams) many of whom were Deified and were also Lawyers.

    And Doctors and Lawyers and Indian Chiefs were naturally assumed to be good eggs.

    But now, thankfully sophisticated consumers are well aware of the Medical School, and Indian Chief School Scams.

    ReplyDelete
  93. Check this out if you doubt LP's point:


    Revisiting why incompetents think they’re awesome
    http://arstechnica.com/science/2012/05/revisiting-why-incompetents-think-theyre-awesome/

    ReplyDelete
  94. ******Check this out:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/mailform?id=16452423

    ReplyDelete
  95. This is 2:46, 4:30 again. A couple of points.

    1) I'm not the guy who commented at 5:08 or the other time making sexual comments, nor am I a law professor, or a "troll". There are probably several people who are annoyed at this blog, and it comes with the territory. And I actually wouldn't mind telling people my actual identity in normal situations, but given the level of anger here I don't want some nutcase calling me up or spamming my email etc.

    2) Being critical of the attitudes of the scamblogs does not mean I'm unsympathetic to the situation of new lawyers today. The job market is much tougher, and yes, society leads one to think going to law school is a better investment than it is. But this idea that you people are blameless victims of a "scam" because of some webpage buried somewhere is such bullock. Why don't you man (or woman) up and admit that you could have investigated the matter more fully in advance, and that you are at least *somewhat* to blame for your predicament.

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  96. 10:29:

    Again, many of us blamed ourselves for years until we saw that others had the same issues. This was stated earlier. Maybe you missed it.

    Why are you so critical of the scamblogs? What are you trying to prove and/or what are you trying to gain? You kinda seem like a trolling asshole who gets off on getting a reaction out of people for no reason other than your own amusement. Just what I see. So...nobody really takes you too seriously.

    Additionally, I know many people from 10-15 years ago who fell victim to the law school scam. Where were they supposed to look when researching the decision to go to law school? There was no information up until a few years ago that rang of any truth whatsoever. Even now, Deans and law schools are not coming clean with their NALP reports as well as the true state of their employment numbers.

    If you feel sympathetic towards the Scambloggers, quit being a creep and LISTEN to what is being said. The message being sent is on many websites, not just this one.

    I still blame myself for my stupid decision to go to law school while taking out these fucked up loans. The loans I signed for pre-1998 had BK protections, now they no longer do because of the retroactive nature of the legislation.

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  97. @4:30:

    Do you really not think the tens of thousands of scammed law graduates in the last two decades take personal responsibility first and foremost?

    Yeah, I'm pissed off at the fraudsters. You know who I'm even more pissed off at? Myself. Why? Because I scored a 169 on the LSAT, pulled a 3.7 in undergrad at a t-20 university, have prided myself on being a skeptic and a rationalist since age 19, and I FELL FOR IT. Hook, line, and sinker, I got bamboozled. I have peers, ranging from people with nothing but high school to sweet MBA banking gigs, all making 75k+ with the foundations for having houses, long-term roots, families, retirement, etc.

    There's nothing superior about any of them. They just chose a different path while I fell for the "law school" thing and now am back at square one. I wake up every morning and blame MYSELF for being so naive as to believe that there was a stable stock of middle-class jobs for good lawyers, and for extrapolating the salary/employment figures and assuming that if I finished with honors, I'd easily be making 75k+ a year, enough to reasonably be able to pay back my loans. Nope, not even in the same ballpark.

    Every morning, I blame myself for the fact that I signed the papers. If only I'd talked to more attorneys than I did. If only I'd researched the school more. If only I'd done some back-of-the-envelope calculations. By God, even back then, I could have hacked the scam and averted career stagnation. I could have not majored in liberal arts, too. I could have been an actuary or a database admin or an MD. But I let the con artists con me. And so now I'm stuck with a life of explaining to friends and family who think I did something "wrong" what exactly is going on while they tell me (1) how my law degree will surely land me a position somewhere because there's always room for sharp people; and (2) there's been too many lawyers since the 60s; and (3) I should look on career builder and indeed.com for jobs.

    Going to law school was probably the worst mistake I've ever made. It's my fault, first and foremost, for being a sucker and buying the magic elixir that heals everything and makes men who took philosophy classes rich rich rich. To think how stupid I must have been to be sure - so sure as to mortgage the next 30 years of my life - that law was a step-up from where I was at! It's embarrassing, but it's my horrible choice, and I live with it on a daily basis. It's my fault I'm applying to random crap on Craigslist instead of going to work in a more stable field. I mistakenly eschewed the STEM fields for the lib arts/law path as a way of least resistance. For my errors at age 20 and 23 I pay on a daily basis. I try to make the best of it accepting that this is the road I put myself on.

    But of course, all that is egocentric and dull. No one really cares. Worse, it's unproductive.

    What is productive is making sure the people who distorted my decision-making process aren't able to perpetuate their malicious acts year after year after year. While I take responsibility for being a dopey lemming, my decisions were influenced by a distorted marketplace, a distortion that is clearly garden-variety fraud. At the absolute least, it's unethical as heck.

    So much more can be accomplished by publicizing the misdeeds of the malefactors instead of merely hearing our stories of debt and coping. I'm not looking for a scapegoat for my problems; I'm looking to try and fix the whacked-out system that lead to my problems. Were I to join a lawsuit against my school, I wouldn't even want a full refund. Even though my law school degree is darned near worthless (if not having a negative value), I obviously got something out of the deal. That doesn't change the fact that I severely overpaid for it and encumbered my future. They got me.

    ReplyDelete
  98. Of course, generally, once a fraud is shown to exist, the plaintiff (or a defendant in a contract action) doesn't have to stand before the judge and accept personal responsibility for being an idiot and relying on the fraudster's representations. This is the kind of crap I refer to when I mean we student consumers want normal fraud protections. No one should expect any of us to admit personal responsibility where we were lied to by businesses using us as loan pawns. I wonder if you would tell other defrauded parties to "accept their role" in their own fortune, but I digress. I've voluntarily given you an explanation of my own acceptance because you apparently seem misguided about the mindset of most young law graduates. We're not just looking for anyone to blame (otherwise, I would blame my parents, siblings, friends, and former bosses); we're blaming the parties who deserve it.

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  99. 10:46:

    Well.fucking.said. Kudos. I feel the exact same way. My fucking law school should read some of these comments.

    ReplyDelete
  100. There are many liberal arts graduates with jobs. It depends on what schools they went to and how well they did. You can major in the humanities, but take courses that give you enough of a grounding in math to be of use to employers. It is not STEM or nothing.

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  101. Craig, your comments are exactly my feelings on the matter. Yeah, I was stupid enough to fall for the con.

    I think what is important at this point, as another poster put it a while back, is to take the Harvey Milk approach and be "out" about it.

    I had an uncomfortable conversation regarding student debt with family members at a picnic over memorial day. They were discussing a person about to attend a useless graduate school for 50K a year. I laid out my financial situation coldly, with specific numbers. There were many incredulous looks, and a confused look from the father of the person who was about to sign on the dotted line for 100K.

    It is time to come out. I made a bad decision, and I am (statistically, at least) a pretty smart guy. Time to warn the masses.

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  102. @10:46PM

    Well said. Thank you!

    But off topic, I had a thought: Are some law academics or even University Professors in general, under the age of 35 perhaps, still paying off their own student loan debts? LawProf might know the answer to that.

    If so, they would be earning income to a greater or leser extent from student lending which they would use to pay off their personal student loans, wouldn't they?

    Which would be a curious state of affairs.

    Or does the amount of student loan debt owed affect a University's decision when hiring faculty?

    And one more observation: Academics and faculty and even some University administrators enjoy a perk that allows them to send their children to school virtually for free. In that case, is the tuition cost for the child of an Academic cross subsidized by other students as is a law school scholarship?

    Just wondering.

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  103. "generally, once a fraud is shown to exist, the plaintiff (or a defendant in a contract action) doesn't have to stand before the judge and accept personal responsibility for being an idiot and relying on the fraudster's representations."
    -Actually, reasonable reliance upon the misrepresentation is a necessary element of a fraud claim. Not trying to defend the law schools (most of which should be shut down) - just pointing out a legal reality.

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  104. A few years ago, I met a very cute girl who was going to Hofstra law. She had worked at a medium-sized law firm before going to law school. She struck out at OCI and then went back to work at her medium-sized firm, making a decent salary.

    That's part of Hofstra's placement figures: A hot girl with connections.

    So I agree, it's not just that you are not a special snowflake. If you are not a cute girl; don't have any special connections; and don't come from a wealthy family, then you are an Anti-Special Snowflak, i.e. an "ASS."

    ReplyDelete
  105. So if you want to stop people from wanting to be lawyers and from going to law school, what do you suppose they do??? And don’t you think other avenues of employment are considered prior to and after law school??? Isn’t the overall problem high unemployment generally??? …especially for young people without much work experience?

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  106. @ 6:29:

    unemployed >>>>>>>>>>>>>> unemployed + 200K in non-dischargable debt and three years of lost earnings.

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  107. That’s three years of assumed earnings, I literally spent three years after undergrad job searching, working low working temp jobs for 3-6 month periods of time, and living very much pay check to pay check while at times couch surfing, borrowing (begging for)small sums of money from friends/family at times (things come up)- and hence ruining those relationships. Additionally my undergrad student loans continued to grow.

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  108. Why are we complaining when even an illegal immigrant can graduate Calidornia State college without any student loans and get full time job with the federal government immediatelky after?

    You lawyers without good jobs to pay YOUR loans must have something wrong with you! (Sarcasm alert...)

    From FOX News: Going to college seemed inconceivable when Adriana Sanchez, the 12-year-old daughter of farm workers, was brought from Mexico to Central California and the family overstayed their visas.

    Even though Sanchez excelled in high school, she was in the country illegally, lacked a Social Security number and work permit, and didn't qualify for financial aid. But she volunteered hundreds of hours and paid her way through college and graduate school with a dozen internships.

    Now 24, Sanchez graduated last week from California State University, Fresno with a master's degree in International Relations, a full-time job and no loans to repay. Using a gray area in federal law, she works as an independent contractor.
    **

    I'm so pissed I can't even be delighted at this oprobably nice girl's success....

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  109. Here is the Fox News URL for the story above: http://us.foxnews.mobi/quickPage.html?page=26028&external=1510900.proteus.fma

    ReplyDelete
  110. w/r/t earnings,

    You still earned enough to live hand to mouth, and didn't loan tens of thousands to pay for living expenses based on fanciful future earnings.

    When you're in a hole, stop digging.

    ReplyDelete
  111. My larger point was that unemployment and the lack of jobs generally is the main issue… More than that, jobs that are available rarely pay well… but I hear you about those massive student loan figures. In any event, luck plays too much of a role in determining people’s financial future.

    ReplyDelete
  112. Correction: Ms. Sanchez works for a non-profit, bot the federal government.

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  113. "There are many liberal arts graduates with jobs. It depends on what schools they went to and how well they did. You can major in the humanities, but take courses that give you enough of a grounding in math to be of use to employers. It is not STEM or nothing."

    Guess who scored a 780 on the GRE Math [at least I realized grad school was a scam], took six courses in applied math and statistics in undergrad, along with a summer course in computer programming and another course in physics? This guy.

    Guess who didn't care and viewed him as another liberal arts/humanities lightweight? This guy's potential employers.

    No one cares about actual ability; otherwise, I'd have a job and the sub-median Harvard grads who took Philosophy and X courses would be on the street. It's all about what the paper says you can do and where you got the paper from.

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  114. The thing is, Special Snowflake Syndrome behavior works once in a while, because of statistical flukes, extraordinary talent, dumb luck, or personal connections (or, most likely a combination of these).

    These successful "special" people are often very visible (due to their success). They are the sorts who lead motivational seminars or who are asked to speak at college graduations.

    The people who were not so lucky are more or less invisible.

    So, the leading sources of wisdom about how to live are those who really are special and/or lucky.

    These authorities include the law school profs -- folks who are smarter than average (but not nearly as smart as engineering PhDs, in general), but who, more importantly, are well-connected and/or lucky. These people can't fathom that their advice might not be good -- after all, they are successful, therefore they must have done something right, right?

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  115. LawProf: I spend time on TLS almost every day. I think generally people there get good advice. You forgot one aspect of SSS - the aggressive attack some special snowflakes make on people who try to advise people to attend a T14, retake, or not go. Many of the posters there who give good advice are called elitist people who are trying to limit the competition they will face. There are many special snowflakes who want to attack the people telling them they are making a poor choice.

    Recently I have seen more and more people advocating for IBR as a good solution. They argue that because they have no jobs now, they will be better of with a job, a huge amount of debt and a government repayment program that limits the amount they will have to pay. This is preferable to continuing to struggle in the jobs they have now, and if they end up in the same unemployed position, they will rely on IBR.

    A final point that bothers me - people on TLS who post their loan repayment schedule based on getting biglaw. These are 0Ls who have no grades, but are already planning how they will spend their biglaw salary. I don't see many posts about what they will do if they don't get biglaw, I think they are relying on IBR as well.

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  116. To follow up with the above - I see more and more people considering that IBR is the backstop they need to justify taking out figures of debt.

    I know IBR was designed to help people who are struggling, but now people are going to use it in an affirmative sense. It doesn't matter to them what law school costs or what debt they have because they feel they are protected from having to repay their loans. They see life with 20 years of non-dischargeable debt as a viable option.

    This seems like an opposite outcome of the intention of IBR.

    What do you think Lawprof and commetariat?

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  117. Such a good explanation of the biases that color how we look at problems that I had to go back to see if the author was not a lawyer. Lawyers are so biased to look at problems using rational choice theory that it is truly surprising to see one consider human factors such as cognitive biases to explain why seemingly irrational decisions, like going to an undistinguished law school expecting to graduate into a high paying law job, get made. It is nice to see a paragon of rational choice, complete information and simple mechanistic explanations of how the world turn to cognitive psychology to explain behavior in a more nuanced manner than is typically used to advance legal arguments.

    The author is correct, by continuing to fight the human condition by believing that problems can be fixed by getting complete information and foreseeing the where the profession is heading, we deny ourselves the insight and tools needed to really impact the problem.

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  118. I went the paralegal route and I make more money than some of my friends with law degrees. I have also never been out of work for more than 6 weeks. A lot of corporate paralegal gigs offer the same opportunities to draft documents, perform research and legal analysis. The only thing I can't do is give legal advice.

    ReplyDelete
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