Friday, June 29, 2012

Dear Rising 3L

[Name] School of Law
Office of the Dean

Dear Rising 3L,

I hope you are enjoying your summer.  All of us at the [Name] School of Law look forward to welcoming you back to campus in August; we have created many exciting new programs for you and your classmates.  This letter confirms a few details about your tuition for the coming year:

1.      We are pleased to announce that we are rolling back the rate of tuition increases.  Tuition for next year will increase only 4.99% over the current year’s tuition.  That is a significant decrease from rates in previous years.  We recognize that this is a challenging economy, and we want you and your classmates to succeed.  At the same time, as we explain below, some tuition increase is essential to preserve the quality of education that you want to receive.

2.      We regret to remind you that federal subsidization of Stafford loans ends on July 1.  If you relied upon these loans to fund your first two years of legal education, no interest accumulated on those loans while you were a student.  And here’s the good news:  That is still true!  You will pay absolutely no interest on your existing Stafford loans until six months after graduation.  That’s a value of over $3,000 to you.  Any Stafford loan that you take out to finance your third year will, unfortunately, accrue interest from the first day.  But you won’t pay any of that interest until you have graduated and are earning a salary; you can focus on experiencing the full educational richness of your third year.

3.      As you may have heard, applications to law schools fell again this year.  We know how much our school’s U.S. News rank matters to you, because the rank directly affects your prospects in the job market.  We have been working hard to maintain our admissions statistics—which translate directly into your valuable ranking.  One way to achieve our joint goal is to offer more scholarship money to incoming students with strong credentials.  We have been doing just that, increasing our scholarship aid as much as possible.  Your tuition dollars are essential in this effort.

As a result of these market forces, you may hear about incoming students who have lower LSAT scores or GPAs than you did—but who are receiving much larger scholarships.  We realize that you are subsidizing tuition for these students, and that may not seem fair to you.  But you are giving back to our school in two ways:  You are providing an opportunity for another student to pursue her dreams and you are helping maintain the rank of the school we all love.

This is just the type of honored role you will play as an alum; our alumni pride themselves on giving back to today’s law students.  You can be even more proud of your actions, because you are giving back even before graduation!  To recognize your extraordinary contributions, we want to put you in touch with the first-year student who is receiving a scholarship from your tuition.  [Scholarship Student Name] will let you know about how she enjoys law school, about the summer jobs she obtains because of your financial assistance, and about her aspirations for the future.  We know you will enjoy hearing about the progress of your scholarship student; it is heartwarming indeed to know that you are making a difference in the lives of others.

As always, we thank you for all you do to contribute to the [School Name] community.  We are a family at [School Name] and we treasure your membership.  See you in August!

                                                                          Dean [Name]
                                                                          [Name] School of Law

P.S.  If you would like to pre-pay your tuition, or even add a little extra, we've enclosed an envelope for your convenience.



  1. DJM finally baring her fangs. Love it.

  2. Cue hoard of commentators who think this letter is actually legit . . . .

  3. horde, not hoard

  4. Sally Struthers should do a commercial....for just $4,000 a month you can sponsor an eager lemming.

  5. Really fantastic. Like Swift before her, DJM did an excellent job staying so close to the reality, that I did not realize it was a satire until the end. What a sad state of affairs...thanks DJM!

  6. haha well done.

  7. You really had me going until the end. Nice work.

  8. It should also mention that 3L is likely jobless or facing the possibility of working for free at some sleazy insurance defense outfit.

  9. Beautiful! As I was reading I was thinking "I sure hope this is satire", but I wasn't sure. I can imagine some dean writing something like it.

  10. Comedy keeps us sane.

  11. This was excellent. I really thought it was real until the very end. Well played, DJM, well played.

  12. I wonder if these mother fuckers will refund tuition for Alums who already attended. In exchange, I will stop badmouthing my law school.

  13. LOL Im getting addicted to this blog. Hard to believe things are this FUBAR'd. But it's not just law--graduates in lots of fields are suffering the same fate. I've read about lawsuits from grads of culinary schools, who claim they got nothing of value for their (borrowed) 40-60K tuition, and are paid minimum wage or slightly higher to chop vegetables, cook on an assembly line, etc.

    Seriously, why would anyone go to culinary school? Do you really have to spend 40-60K to learn how to cook? Aren't there enough cookbooks, cooking websites, TV shows etc that you can learn to cook for free?

  14. I donated $0.08 to my TTT alma mater. The pigs cashed the money order - and gave me a thank you note. They have never sent me another solicitation.

  15. BamBam,

    It's an educational scam. Post WW2, people (read "baby boomers") have been conditioned to view higher education as an unconditional good. More is better. How do you break into a field? Education of course!

    Really, education has become a screening signal or an objective indicator making hiring easier and lazier. A good aspect of objective criteria based hiring is that it can reduce discrimination. A bad aspect of objective criteria based hiring is that it turns employment into an all pay auction. Everyone ponies up money to follow their dream, regardless of the dream's connection to reality.

    Education for education's sake is a good thing, but not at any price. Schools have forgotten this and are evil. They should be dismantled and the ivory tower profs enslaved so that they'll never offend again. Of course, that's just one man's opinion.

  16. I read that congress might actually end the 6 month grace period for Stafford loans. Any truth to that?

  17. You got me! All throught the letter I was trying to guess what law school this was! Loved it! Can't you just see some clueless, self-important dean writing such a letter?

  18. Okeh, first suspected it was a flame job here: "Tuition for next year will increase only 4.99% over the current year’s tuition."

    And was pretty sure it was a flame job here: "We regret to remind you that federal subsidization of Stafford loans ends on July 1."

    And was certain it was a flame job here: "Your tuition dollars are essential in this effort."

    C'mon DJM, shoulda kept me in doubt a lil' longer! (Fun post, I mean to say)

  19. So funny.

    Here is a Tour De France Analogy:

    The students that subsidize the scholarship students are like the domestique team members that work hard in order to keep Lance Armstrong at the front of the pack.

    It's a team effort and all should be proud!

  20. Nothing can be done for the current 3L's but the current 0L's who have signed up to pay anywhere near full tuition at any non-HYS school need to get this message. Demand a massive tuition cut or threaten to walk. Don't be afraid to back that threat up. It's a buyer's market for law students.

  21. Except the dometiques, draw a salary.

    1. Also lance Anderson is the guy with the numbers. This is asking lance Anderson to support the domestiques.

  22. This is more honest than any dean would write.

    You should add an asterisk for hastings as their tuition is going up 15%

    Also, dean z would add ... We hope other schools didn't stress out our 1Ls too much by offering them more money. It causes them so much anxiety. I feel fortunate that your class didn't have to go through those competing negotiations!

  23. Also interest rates for graduate student loans are doubling to 6.8%

  24. "horde, not hoard"

    No, "hoard" is right. We keeps em packed in here likes the sardinies, ya know.

  25. Sure Lance gets all the glory, but the domestiques in law school are just as important, and do get paid in a sense. They get to call themselves lawyers someday, with all prestige and income earning
    potential appertaining thereunto forever and anon.

    Everyone knows that lawyers make lots of money. Everyone knows that.

    (Satire mode of course since it is the spirit of the post :)

  26. Is is TTTTTTTTTTTTTT stuff really that important? I think Harvard and the Legal Academy's Teachers College in Connecticut attract a lot of talented students because they have well respected names that go back a long time and have had a lot of past success not because the schools do anything necessarily better today. I also doubt that if everyone's favorite Tier 14 magazine all of the sudden decide to rate Harvard 50th it would change their image or make it that much easier to get into. With a few exceptions in the legal field, I think people are generally going to be more impressed with William and Mary and maybe even Case Western Reserve more than UCLA or Texas. I'm not to saying it doesn't have any influence, it just might be overrated in academia and by prospective students.

    A while back Campos said that if Stanford cut its tuition dramatically then other schools might have to follow its lead. I think any school with a respectable name could that have that influence. If Colorado or Ohio State have the ability and willingness to cut tuition to 13k or so, I think they would get a ton of applications nationwide with very very strong credentials especially since outside of Cravath style law firms most people are going to care about their specific candidate more than the school. (Also the schools that could do it this dramatically would all be public) Which would you pick: X State University for 60k or Harvard for 160k?

  27. 11:55: As a functional matter this is already the situation. If you have T-6 numbers you can certainly go to CU (or comparable schools) without paying tuition. Lower T-14 numbers will get you a very big discount at a minimum.

  28. Wow, this took a little while before I realized it must be satire.

    In other news, here is the email I wrote back to DePaul today when I received their email stating they are "reaching out today to ask you to make your gift by June 30 so that it can be counted toward 2012-2013 financial aid packages"

    Since they are pimping out their Law Review Editor in the email, I wrote an email back:

    Dear Martin,

    While I have deep appreciation for a number of my DePaul Law professors, I really have to say it is unnerving that DePaul is pimping out one of its few graduates - you - likely to get a “real” job in the class of 2012 to ask for money from alumni.

    Neither myself nor any DePaul Law grad I know is likely to ever give money to DePaul Law.

    Why? First, because most of us don’t make enough money to even pay our loans. Second, we’re bitter at the enormous cost and lack of acceptable outcome for probably 90% of us.

    I still have $160,000 in student loans, approximately $140,000 from my DePaul law education. The recent DePaul Law grad that I know who graduated around the top 5% of her class has only made $50,000 a year practicing law, despite enormous billable hours.

    If you consider doing any pro bono legal work, consider making an effort to get your fellow class of 2012 members a job. They need it.


    [Early 2000s Alum]

    For better or worse I really did send it - its not satire like OP

    Here is the original DePaul email I received:

    June 29, 2012

    Dear [Early 2000s Alum],

    There is still time for you to make a gift to the College of Law this fiscal year!

    As a recent graduate of DePaul University's College of Law I am proud of my degree. It’s crazy to think that my path would have been completely different had I not received a generous scholarship package from DePaul. Committed, compassionate alumni have invested in my education and my future success. It’s hard to find words to express my gratitude; however, I can pay forward the kindness of alumni like you by supporting current law students.

    I’m reaching out today to ask you to make your gift by June 30 so that it can be counted toward 2012-2013 financial aid packages. Your support will help ensure that incoming and returning students who need help can attend our college regardless of financial barriers. Please make your gift now.


    Martin Goodlett (LAW '12)

    P.S. Visit to make your gift now!

    If you have already made your gift, please disregard this message. And thank you, again, for your generosity!

    1 E. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60604 | P: (312) 362-8666 | F: (312) 362-5112 |

  29. 11:55-
    I agree that as a functional matter that is pretty much the situation. LawProf has done a terrific job of educating people in regard to the reality of the choice, but I think it is still probably counter intuitive. Everybody needs to put the question the way you did in order to induce the penetrating glimpse into the obvious that leads to good choices.

  30. 11:55-
    I agree that as a functional matter that is pretty much the situation. LawProf has done a terrific job of educating people in regard to the reality of the choice, but I think it is still probably counter intuitive. Everybody needs to put the question the way you did in order to induce the penetrating glimpse into the obvious that leads to good choices.

  31. No joke, we received an email similar to this today asking 2Ls to donate to the school to maintain the quality of education. After I graduate, I think I'll tell the Alumni Committee that I've died so they'll leave me alone.

  32. Harvard for 160k.

  33. Sorry for the accidental double post. Somehow my iPad has trouble when I post using my blogger handle. In any event I want to point out that there are many schools in top 50% that provide an outstanding education. The problem is that there are not enough jobs that are accessible to the graduates. Once everybody understands the implications of the bimodal distribution that has been pointed out by LawProf a well qualified graduate of Ohio state, for example, will still have a tough time finding a job in Tucson because of the Bar exam and local favoritism and relationships. Looking at the problem with the perspective of 45 years in the business, I come to the conclusion that the job situation is not going to get better very quickly.

  34. Good job on the TdF references, fellas. The Tour starts this weekend, and I will immerse myself in the coverage as per usual. I'm really more of a Spring Classics kind of guy, but whatever. Cycling is the greatest thing I have ever known.

    The US Postal and Discovery Channel teammates of Mr. Armstrong who were hired to work in the Tour (and other events of importance) were well paid for their efforts. These men made a career out of riding in a support role. Thus, the comparison to the cannon-fodder law students towing full-freight misses the mark.

    A better analogy would be to those poor bastards unlucky enough to have their careers destroyed in the early 90's EPO years. The peloton moved at two speeds, those who doped and those who did not. E.g., The governing body charged with controlling and managing such issues was utterly asleep at the wheel (see Major League Baseball). Sound a bit like the ABA's conduct of late? In the current legal education model (and perhaps over the last decade) young men and woman are likewise destroyed through false promises, blatant lies, and non-dischargeable student loan debt. Some day we will look back upon these years and say, My God, how did we let that happen?

  35. This is an actual email from our Dean:

    To all Phoenix School of Law Students:

    We realize you are interested in the cost of tuition for the 2012-2013 academic year. Tuition will increase by 4.5%, which is the lowest tuition increase in the history of Phoenix School of Law.

    In determining the 2012-2013 tuition, we considered the competitive environment, the economic climate and our desire to provide the resources that lead to a high quality legal education.

    Starting next week, the new tuition and fee schedules will be reflected on your student ledger cards via the student portal.

    New tuition and fee schedules will also be available through both the Admissions ( and Financial Aid ( sections of the PSL web-site.


    Dean Mays and President Thompson

  36. So the beginning of the letter seemed very believable. We have also received a separate email about the end of the Stafford loan subsidy, so it certainly worked as DJM intended, since schools are sending those kinds of letters. They just do not spell out what they do with all that extra money, but given that their costs are the same as last year higher discounting and/or more profit are the answer.

  37. @1:15PM Crux of law:

    You might know about this book by Paul Kimmage already but:

    And I used to do amateur road racing when I was in my early 20's in NY's Central Park and Prospect Park and around the Northeast for a while.

    I was even in a race with a very young George Hincapie. he must have been about 16 years old then. I rode right behind him in a race in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and it was raining. I flatted and fixed the tire and joined the race one lap later and rode it out.

    I can;t remember if Hincapie won, but he probably did.

    There were several very impressive young riders at the time in the area.

    George Hincapie and his brother. Charles Issendorf who had legs like steel cables, and Matt Kushara who in my opinion was even more talented than any of them. i never knew what happened to Kushara.

  38. Ha!

    "In determining the 2012-2013 tuition, we considered the competitive environment, the economic climate and our desire to provide the resources that lead to a high quality legal education."

    Every so often I think that LawProf has said all that there is to be said about the nasty little charade of legal education, but then I see stuff like this and I realize that we're still nowhere near the bottom. We won't be there until it becomes clear to everyone who might be interested that something called "Phoenix School of Law" has no real-world reason to exist, other than to line the pockets of its professors and administrators.

  39. Woah, what's with all this random PSoL hating out of nowhere?

  40. Some familiar names: "The Phoenix School of Law (also referred to as PhoenixLaw) is a private, for-profit law school located in Phoenix, Arizona. Founded in 2005 and accredited by the American Bar Association in 2010,[2] PhoenixLaw is the only private law school in Arizona. The school is not affiliated with the similarly named University of Phoenix. Phoenix is part of the InfiLaw System of independent law schools, which includes Florida Coastal School of Law and Charlotte School of Law, owned by Sterling Partners.[3][4]"

    Private Equity?

  41. Sterling partners:

    We are a private equity firm with a distinct point of view on how to build great companies. We’ve been here since 1983 and have invested billions of dollars, but that’s not what really defines us. Our purpose is Inspired Growth, which describes not only what we do, but how we do it. It reflects an unrelenting commitment to people and partnerships, to ideas and ideals that drive success.

  42. 2:29 here...
    To answer 2:55, I mistakenly assumed it was a University of Phoenix venture. My mistake. But the sentiment still stands, like 100+ other law schools it has no real reason to exist other than to enrich a small group of admins and profs, and apparently also the investors and managers of Sterling Partners, who I'm sure are some very public service oriented people and in no way focused on getting the maximum return on their investment in a f***ing law school, of all things for an equity firm to be investing in.

  43. It seems like Armstrong has the best lawyer in the business.

    Magna Cum Laude Harvard law School. Damn! And what does Luskin cost?

    I hope Armstrong gets off though. What purpose does it serve to strip him of his titles now?

    Is that the way it goes in life? A scam or a deception enjoys 1, or 2 decades of life, and then is dealt with by the department of profit seeking moral sanitation after all of the scammers have safely made and tucked their money away?

  44. What do Lance Armstrong and Karl Rove (the legendary Conservative Architect) have in common?

    The same lawyer, Robert Luskin, who is a Democrat I think, and thick with Washington.

    Why would Robert Luskin take on Lance Armstrong's case? Is he just in it for the money?

  45. We have been actually told that the tuition raise last year was to improve profit of the firm that owns the school, now that they have gotten it through accreditation. Not sure if this was at one of the open house meetings with the Dean and President, or if it was in an email. If I can find it as an email I will post it.

  46. I wonder if Karl Rove and Hannity and Limbaugh and Mark levin and Ann Coulter and Newt like Robert Luskin's pierced ears?

    They should since Liberal Ruskin is strangely Karl Roves's lawyer.

  47. Of course we got a similar letter last year. It was the lowest increase then too (5% then v. 4.5% now.) Either way still higher than inflation, but could be worse, and be in double digits. Enjoy:

    To All PSL Students:

    Many of you have asked about tuition for the 2011-2012 academic year and we are now able to give you that information. Our tuition will increase by 5%, the lowest tuition increase in the history of Phoenix School of Law.

    This increase is at or below the level of tuition increases at our competitor schools. It is also below our prior year increases, and still will allow us to provide you with the high quality education you have come to expect.

    The updated tuition and fees will allow us to remain competitive within the legal marketplace. While keeping our fee increases to a minimum, we will move into our new building in the heart of downtown Phoenix, enhance our total scholarship funding, maintain a student-faculty ratio in compliance with the ABA standard, enhance our academic and bar pass support, invest further in career services, and expand opportunities for experiential learning via clinics and externships.

    Starting tomorrow, the new tuition and fee schedules will be reflected in your student ledger card on the student portal. New tuition and fee schedules will also be available through both the Admissions and Financial Aid sections of the PSL web-site.


    Dean Mays and President Thompson

  48. LawProf 12:08: I know what your saying, but if the tuition at a number of law schools set dramatically lower just by default I think it might attract candidates from all over the country to apply in the first place and make others notice.

    My larger point is that you might not need Stanford's weight to set the right trend.

    Law Office Computing 12:33 and 1:12: The issues of setting up a graduate in another locale level will be an extra hoop to jump through but I think a school with just a national name could in many circumstances overcome that. If OSU lowered its standard tuition dramatically I think it would have a big impact on at least the law schools in Ohio and probably the midwest. If CU (and maybe Denver) cut its tuition enough I think it would have the same impact on the schools in that general area too. On the whole I think reaction could be national.

    As for the legal economy I think the Harvard panel from February does the best job explaining what is going on. But my guess is that Campos is right and some schools like Thomas Jefferson will likely have to close if they cannot improve. A lot of schools are going to get smaller as well.

    This is law not astrobiomedicalphysical engineering. Even with the problems in ABA accreditation I find it hard to believe that any law school would seriously need to charge its students 30k in tuition let alone 50k.

  49. Happy 4th of July Weekend!

    For God's sake, sit down Professor Campos and professor Deborah!

    Will someone shut them up?


  50. I didn't necessarily hit it off with all of my fellow students, but I've always been extremely proud that my class consistently posts one of the lowest rates of alumni participation in the "annual fund."


  51. It's either Professor Paul and Professor Deborah or Professor Campos and Professor Merritt. But you don't get away with addressing the man respectfully with surname and the woman familiarly with first name.

  52. Oh No, 6:34!!!!

    Calm the fuck down and worry about important shit dumbass.

  53. @6:47

    You're the dumbass. It's "important shit" when you're a woman and your future job is on the line because a misogynist jackass like you happens to be conducting the OCI interview.

  54. 5:08:

    Imagine the backlash at CU or OSU from other students, parents, and legislators if law school tuition was significantly slashed while the tuition in other schools and departments continued to rise or was just held steady. The schools would have to enact across the board tuition cuts and there is no way any big state U can maintain its institutional bloat with that kind of drop in revenue. Only HYS and a few others have the money and institutional independence to unilaterally disarm on the law school tuition arms race.

  55. DJM,

    If you're still reading the comments, you might be interested to know that a little birdie has told me that at least two (and likely more) tenured profs at a certain midwest private have accepted a voluntary separation/retirement buyout option that was offered in light of a significant, unplanned reduction in the size of the 2012 incoming class.

  56. 7:33, fortunately, we have a long way to go before we would suffer any backlash from other schools or departments. OSU Law's tuition and fees for next year will be $27,886 for in-state students. If you're an Ohio resident seeking a BA, you'll pay just $10,036. If you'd like a PhD in any subject, and are an Ohio resident, we can set you up for just $12,404. And those rates apply only if you pay full freight: Our BA and PhD programs give their own scholarships--sometimes more generous than the ones at the law school.

    It's true that the business school probably likes our tuition level: Their tuition was $26,055 for the year that just ended (update not yet available). And the medical school charges Ohio residents about $32,500 per year. But I don't think reducing our tuition would bother the medical school much.

    I personally like the $13,000 solution, and hope to post on that at some point. It would require a major contraction in the law school's budget (i.e., it's considerably lower than the average cost our students pay after scholarships), but isn't that what needs to happen at many schools ranked 15-100? It's certainly what our students, the state, and prospective clients need.

  57. 7:45, thanks for the info. I know of a T1 school with five open lines including an endowed chair. At the beginning of May, the school still planned an aggressive hiring agenda to fill all five of those positions next year. The school is now thinking of filling just two lines at the junior level (leaving the chair open for now). And, of course, it's still June. The summer of reckoning is far from over.

  58. 7:59:

    It's not other schools or departments that would resent a reduction in tuition, it's that all the other students (and their parents) would be demanding their proportionate reduction as well. Maybe it's different at tOSU, but at my big state U, there's no way that only law students could have their tuition significantly decreased while everyone else saw theirs continue to increase. No matter that law school tuition is triple that of undergrad tuition. And the outstate, small businessman legislators who have disproportionate influence on the funding process would go apoplectic over such a plan.

  59. 7:45 is probably referring to CreighTTTon.

  60. The crazy thing here is that, in reality, the cost of legal education should be no more than that of accountancy or any other professional, text-learned subject. Medicine, engineering, etc. require the provision of lab space and other infrastructure that are not required for legal education.

  61. Nice work, DJM.

  62. I get it by now, and so many posts have been made on different aspects of the "Law School Scam" and it is hard to keep track of and prioritize them all.

    Perhaps a list can be created, starting with the worst aspects of the scam or rather the problems that should be remedied first.

    For example:

    1. No controls in place for the overproduction of lawyers that the job market cannot absorb.

    2. Tuition is outrageously excessive.

    3. The Cross Subsidization of scholarship students is wrong etc.

    4. Too many law schools

    5. Problems with the Student Lending system (this is very general and can be broken down:

    and so forth.

    However, there has not been much discussion about any remedy for the students that have been harmed for life already with hopeless debt in the six figures other than some mumblings about IBR and I would hope this would be on the list too.

  63. Last night, at 8:14, I obviously meant "tier one" rather than T1. I try to keep up with the hip abbreviations but boomerism will out. I know nothing about hiring at Yale!

  64. Tier one encompasses a wide range of schools, very different from Yale.

  65. @9:22, thanks. I get confused on what T1 means. If T6 means the top six schools, and T14 means the top fourteen (or the fifteen who claim to be in the top fourteen), then I wanted to make sure my reference to "T1" was taken as "tier one" rather than the top 1 school.

  66. But on to the more important point raised by 4:35 a.m. You're absolutely right that the list should include a remedy for the students who have already been irreparably harmed. In fact, if the current admissions year turns out to be the turning point--with tuition declining after this point and some schools closing--then we still have in our buildings two classes of students who will suffer the very greatest financial harm of all.

    With rare exceptions, every class that graduates (from any school) has more debt than the one before it; the tuition rises have been inexorable. So if the discounts offered to the incoming class of 2015 take hold for the future, then the class of 2014 will be stuck with the high water mark of debt--followed closely by 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010.... I don't see any change in the job market for 2012, 2013, or 2014--I think they are getting the same job prospects at an even higher price than 2010 or 2011 paid. And I don't at all mean to ignore pre-2010 classes: They are also suffering, with the unmanageable debt varying by year and school market power.

    What should schools do? To be brutally honest, I'm not sure there's enough money there to remedy the harm. Congress could enact loan forgiveness or permit bankruptcy but, as others have said, the plight of law graduates is not an easy one to sell politically. I want to think about this some more, and you're right that others should be thinking too. Maybe there's a mechanism for doing this--short of getting Warren Buffett to jump in and clean up the mess.

  67. ***"short of getting Warren Buffett to jump in and clean up the mess."***

    Actually, I don't think think this suggestion is as far-fetched as you might imagine.

    The interest rates on student loans are phenomenally high, and the principal is compounding as unpaid interest is added. Why doesn't some Warren Buffett-like citizen [or a brigade of them] step up to the plate and
    offer students the option of "refinancing" their rotten loans, via paid work [in some "help the little guy" fields] compensated by a combination of a reasonable salary and loan "resetting."

    Buffett or some other angel could buy out individual borrowers' loans -- not to totally forgive them, but to get the sharks off the recent grad's back. Buffett could then work out a loan to the graduate at a much lower rate, and negotiate some sort of "don't go declaring bankruptcy on me" deal as protection.

    It seems to me that one essential element is to get the frigging loan shark banks, with their fees and interest, OUT of the student loan business.

    While this would take more capital than even Buffett has, perhaps such moves would inspire other folks who want to relieve [but not give amnesty to] well-intentioned people who got sucked into the Law School Scam.

    I'm sure there are other ideas out there, but perhaps this is a start.

  68. 10:22, I do think that's definitely a start--some of the best solutions to any problem come by following the trail of "what if X" where X itself is unlikely to happen but leads to thoughts about A, B, and C, which might be feasible.

    One part of this particular solution would be to allow non-lawyers to own shares in a legal practice. England and Australia now allow that, and I suspect other countries are moving in the same direction. But our ABA just flatly turned down the idea again. That was a move that helps large, established firms while hurting smaller practitioners and newcomers.

    If Buffett (or smaller but equally smart and entrepreneurial business types) could say:
    "Look, I'll organize the business side of this law practice, figure out the market and the marketing, and all of that. You handle the legal work, I'll pay off your loan, and we'll work out a profit-sharing arrangement going forward," there might be a road out of this. There are some types of legal work that, if organized in a sufficiently business like way, can generate income and employment.

    N.B. to any OLs--that does NOT mean you should come to law school. I am NOT saying that there are plenty of jobs out there for people who look. I'm saying that there are dramatic changes we could make in the legal market that might help rescue people who are already drowning. It would be smarter for you to go swim in a different pond, at least until we get this one straightened out

  69. I read an article somewhere not too long ago written by a, guess who? A crusty old hippie Boomer----that suggested young people be drafted into the Freedom Corps because it will be good for the nation and instill a sense of something or other high mindedness in the draftee.

    I think, but I am not sure now that the author also said such service would give credit towards SL debt.

    But it all sounds a bit too controlling and the political labels and terminology elude me just now as I type this on the fly.

    I mean, suppose some kid feels like saying in response: "Thank you very much, but I do not want to be in the Freedom Corps"

    And why should they have to?

  70. Here is a product of some mental meanderings and off topic but perhaps something of which Buffet (before we all start calling him a champion of humanity) knows full well and has possibly profited from in his capacity as a leader in the auto insurance industry (GEICO)?

    1. It is known that bad credit is a factor in determining car insurance rates.

    2. Student loans will give you bad credit.

    3. SL debtors will have higher insurance premiums to pay and Buffet must know that and make a few extra bucks.

    I cannot prove any of this, but it is a hunch and I could be wrong.

    But still I wonder why I am paying so much damn money for car insurance when I have two clunkers and no collision coverage, my limits are a modest split 100/300 and no glass coverage.

    It might be due to my ruined credit score (below to mid 600's depending on bureau) as a result of my Sl debt.

  71. Part 1:

    "In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury."

    And here is an example of what a "list" of grievences looks like:

    let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

    He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

    He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

    He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

    He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

    He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

    He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

    He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

    He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

    He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

    He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

    He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

    He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:


  72. Part 2:

    For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

    For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

    For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

    For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

    For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

    For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

    For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

    For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

    For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

    He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

    He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

    He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

    He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

    He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

    Happy 4th of July!

  73. I would bet that a lot of US lawyers have not even read all of the US DOI.

    The Constitution is another matter altogether.

  74. 11:14:

    I think you were referring to this article:

    I lit him up and he actually responded kindly and took my suggestions to heart. This out-of-touch baby boomer BS needs to stop. I wonder when the Gen Xers and Yers will wake up?

  75. Lawprof and djm- how about a post detailing who should drop out and who should stay. People in law school are still resistant to dropping out.

  76. DJM-- should anyone "swim" in the "pond" at Moritz?

  77. 1:41 pm, I would not swim in any law school pond without an approved flotation device and a lifeguard. As the motel signs say, you swim at your own risk. But law schools should not act like motels, so I'm working on some calculations that I hope will reveal what constitutes a sufficient flotation device and lifeguard. Wish me luck as I tread where lawyers hate to go: into the murky waters of arithmetic.

  78. Flotation and lifeguards and coaches that in spite of Student loan enabling will say enough is enough and time to cut it off kid and don;t let you get you.

    Sorry for the adverts but:

  79. 1:41 here-- I take it the answer is no; students should not enroll in Moritz for the time being-- until it is determined what would be a "sufficient flotation device and lifeguard" for those entering the school. That important information is not now known. So, better to steer clear. Fair enough.

  80. Piranhas in the stream attack! (With the help of easy credit rip off student loans :)

    Ain't we lucky we got em'


  81. 1:41 and 3:35, my comment applies to all law schools including Moritz: students should be sure sufficient flotation devices and lifeguards are in place. At the HYS pools, that may almost always be true; at other swimsites, the safety will vary. But I hope to come up with a few metrics to guide those decisions. Darn this calculator--why are the buttons so small?

  82. Again, fair enough. I only thought to raise Moritz because it is the school you would know the best, and could be the most immediately helpful in speaking about. That strikes me as important because there are people right now deciding whether to apply to your school this year or the next year, and should not have to wait until you have done the metrics on all 200 law schools to make their decision. Do you know what I mean? They are not making a decision in the abstract, or about 199 other schools. It will be about a place of which you are a part. That you are not sure they should choose to come to Moritz at this point in history is important information in itself. You know far better than I, but from what you have written about the cost of attending your school, its quality, and the quality of your comments on this blog and apparent commitment to your students, I would say, as a general matter, Moritz probably a good bet for someone who really wants to go to law school. I'll go out on the limb.

    The general admonition that students should make sure that they are in a good position before they go to law school (I'm dropping the pool metaphor as it has become tiresome) goes without saying. I mean you don't have to study the situation to know that. That has always been true. What you propose to offer is something more specific-- actual information about individual schools, right? This cannot be done as one size fits all. My only point was why not start with something you know intimately, thinking you would know enough about the present state of your school to be able to say whether people should enroll there now or not. It strikes me as an urgent question. Again, I think you have answered it.

  83. Disclaimer: I didn't go to law school the day they taught bankruptcy. Having said that, I've been thinking how one can bankrupt student loans if one can prove extraordinary circumstances. Yes, I know that's generally thought of in disability terms. But, if one can show that law schools lured students to take on huge student loans through fraudulent hiring numbers, could a bankruptcy judge (wearing her equity hat), find that extraordinary circumstances exist justifying forgiveness of the loan? Just wondering. There has to be a reset button somewhere in all this mess.

  84. 4:58 pm, I'm thinking of a formula--or set of guidelines--that students could use for a range of schools. I'm not sure whether this will jell but, if it does, it will be in the next week or two. I know that lots of people are making decisions now.

    I don't mean to be coy about Moritz. I try to avoid making very specific declarations for or against Moritz because our situation is very similar to many other schools--there's no reason for Moritz to particularly benefit or lose because of my comments here.

    **BUT** any current or prospective student is very welcome to call or email me for my thoughts about Moritz. Email is quickest ( and I can set up a time to talk if that's preferable. I promise not to share your name or questions with anyone else at Moritz. In fact, I may well forget your name shortly after our conversation. That's not because I don't care--I do--but because it's hard to remember all the names of so many students and graduates. So confidentiality is guaranteed, and anonymity is likely. Best, djm

  85. 4:58 here--Oh, a week or two is great. I was thinking it might take much longer to assess the relative merits of the schools about which you write. But if you think you can do that in a couple of weeks, that is different. It will be timely, and very interesting to see what you come up with. If you can't say at this precise moment that people should come to Moritz, you will have an answer for them in a couple of weeks, which should be very helpful. Because if you are mentioning specific schools in your guidelines, you have to discuss your own. You can't make public pronouncements about other schools, but say if people want to find out about yours, they have to contact you personally. Maybe you have something altogether different in mind, guidelines that do not reference any particular schools. In any event, good luck. I look forward to seeing the end results.

  86. Here is one rule of thumb: if the LTS employment score of the school you plan to attend is less than 75 you should defer enrollment for a year. What think you DJM?

  87. So LTS becomes the new U.S. News and World Report.

  88. Why not? The methods they are using appear to be unbiased and not based upon a set of lies.

  89. Do the create the information themselves, or compile and analyze it from other sources?

  90. Compiled and analyzed from other sources. How/why would they create the information themselves?

    Read the website.

  91. In the meantime, some words to remember: if a second or third tier law school isn’t offering you a substantial tuition break, the school doesn’t think you’re a very competitive student. It doesn’t make sense to pay full price to enter a profession in crisis when the experts are telling you that your prospects are poor.

    Student Loan Program Pumps Legal Ed Bubble: For Now


  92. It should read "Student Loan Program Pumps ALL of Higher Ed Bubble: For Now"

  93. If LST relies primarily on NALP (with additional information from schools and US News), why not just pay attention to the NALP reports from the schools the applicant is interested in?

  94. Kyle from LST here. We're going to release a competitor to U.S. News this month, largely based on the employment score. Stay tuned.

  95. 10:37: Because until a few months ago you could count the number of schools that made their NALP data public on the fingers of one hand. Due in no small part to pressure from LST about a quarter of schools now make their NALP data public.

  96. @LST, that will be good. Well, now that they do it, for the schools that provide that information, prospective students could look at that, too.

  97. Had a rather long conversation today in which tales of woe were exchanged between a housing bubble victim and myself, a 6 figure Student loan debtor.

    Decades of trouble and these are just the times we live in.

  98. My law school still will not release their NALP report despite my repeated requests. At least LST releases information about my school that allows potential students to read between the lines and fill in some of the gaps that are so obviously missing.

  99. Where do they get Information about your school if not from the school and US News?

  100. LawProf-
    Thanks for the NALP info. I propose Rule of Thumb2: If the school you plan to attend does not release their NALP score defer enrollment for one year.

  101. 1:18: Again, go to LST and look at their sources.

  102. How did you create the clearinghouse?
    It varies by year. For the class of 2011, our clearinghouse relies on data published by the ABA and individual law schools. It is still a work in progress. For the class of 2010, our clearinghouse is the most comprehensive collection of employment data ever compiled and published on a school-by-school basis. To create it, we collected and reconciled data from four sources: the ABA, U.S. News, school websites, and school NALP reports.

    I thought there were problems with these sources individually. How does aggregating them make them okay?

  103. 1:56:

    It doesn't necessarily. What LST does is it takes those numbers and puts them into an easily digestible one-page form that anyone is able to understand. Additionally, it does what the law schools do not do:

    It pulls out and differentiates between jobs that are not full time, requiring a law degree, permanent, etc. Law schools do not do this.

    Additionally, not all those sources are problematic: NALP data is good and the ABA data is good. I read that only 41 of 197? ABA schools have released their NALP report. I wonder why? The schools are not supplying the NALP report because that information shows salaries without law school spin (means, median, averages).

    In my mind, this is a huge part of the problem. Many schools do not release their NALP report but they take data from them, spin it using the methods above, while leaving damning information out. This shows that the schools are attempting to make the data rosier than the data really is. Look at the schools that have released their NALP reports. The numbers are dismal. Go to LST and look at the schools that have not, their is a ton of data missing.

    Here are the simple pieces of information that potential law students need in order to make an informed choice. The law schools keep hiding this information:

    How many graduates of your school have full-time, long-term permanent jobs, requiring bar passage as a qualification for employment and in turn, how much are they making? Given the less-than-transparent data, LST is attempting to answer that question.

  104. So, if a person is interested in any of the 41 schools that release their NALP reports, that person can use the reports, along with US News and info provided by the ABA, to make an informed decision.

  105. tl;dr summary of our class of 2010 process: take data from all sources of employment data and fit them together as best as possible, then share with the missing pieces highlighted. The sources vary by school, but range from U.S. News, the ABA, the school, and the school's NALP Report. We ended up with 50 class of 2010 NALP reports (of 195).

    If a law school is fudging the underlying data, or if a graduate is reporting incorrectly and nobody catches it, we do not solve this problem. We chew on the data and spit it out. As highlighted by 2:22, this means we're giving users masticated food, whereas schools are often very good at turning McDonald's beef into Kobe.

    For 2011 the process is a little different. I don't anticipate we'll use U.S. News data at all because, finally, the ABA does a superior job. Instead we'll be reconciling data from the ABA, NALP reports, and school websites.

    When I say reconcile, I mean trying to figure out why things are different and then putting together a puzzle that's as close to reality as possible. Sometimes this benefits schools, sometimes it doesn't -- it all depends on what changed during the interim period between reporting deadlines. This year, the interim period was significantly shorter, though NALP processes the data to find inconsistencies so that schools can correct the mistakes (often typos). To date there is no way to fix these mistakes with the ABA data, so the NALP data will often trump the ABA data this year. One problem, however, is that this year's NALP report does not break down the employer types and job types by the time/term matrix. This means the ABA data will trump in more cases than it should. We'll deduce what we can, but this is a very unfortunate system and we (and NALP and the schools) are in the ABA's ear on this. Hopefully the process is hammered out for 2012, though I suspect it won't be until 2013. My hope is that, eventually, they just use the same survey. We should all be able to get along.

  106. One other thing in reply to "I thought there were problems with these sources individually. How does aggregating them make them okay?"

    The source problems are usually with respect to the way the source presents data (i.e. the information is misleading, incomplete, or false). If somebody understands what it says, and how to get at what it really means, they can better present it. This is what we do.

    I think by using the term "aggregate" you're confusing the issue -- this is why we use the term "reconcile." Here we just mean that we take it all in and, as I said in the last post, make a coherent picture that reflects reality.

    Schools are collecting no new data these days (other than whether the jobs are school funded) than they were a few years ago. Instead, the ABA is collecting more, schools are reporting more to more sources, and the attention is on how schools use data in a less than consumer-friendly fashion.

  107. LST is for convenience then. That is important. But a person looking at, say, six schools that all release NALP reports could do this themselves.

  108. 2:59:

    Hopefully. Hopefully sooner rather than later. Hopefully with NALP data from all the schools, and most importantly: NALP data that the schools have not been allowed to change and/or limit.

    Of course, solving transparency only solves a part of the problem....high debt, non-dischargeable predatory factors of said debt, special snowflakes, ck of jobs, etc.

  109. I don't think a person just looking at NALP reports could glean all the information that LST does. I think LST adds value to the process.

  110. I am sure they do. But I think it depends on who is looking at the material and what schools they are scoping. Between NALP, US News, the ABA material, and the investigations people should be doing on their own, that should be enough. It will be helpful to have a source for people who are not as diligent.

  111. Part of the problem is that people trust their advisors and family to help them. but those people are often woefully out of touch.

  112. Additionally:

    Part of the problem is that people trust their advisors including teachers, admins, and loan officers to help them. but those people often do not have their best interests in mind.

  113. DJM -

    I strongly disagree with the idea that non-lawyers should be allowed to invest in law firms. This situation has for example been effectively present in Ireland where in even large firms partnership shares have been transferred in estates leading to a situation where the largest law firms became closely held in 3-4 partners, many related to early families. It has not improved the market - the same big 4 divide up a lot of the top work - with one notoriously dealing with conflicts of interest by putting the solicitors effectively opposing each other on different floors.

    Looking at firms that recently collapsed it also strikes me that law firms are fundamentally a bad investment. Dewey for example effectively issued shares through a $125 million bond offering in 2010:

    Says one partner. "Essentially we think the current rates are the lowest we're going to see." The partner adds that bonds were investment grade, carried three- to 10-year terms, and, he adds with some pride, oversubscribed. "We suspect that other firms will pursue this route," he says.


    Law firm watchers across the U.S. are already weighing in on what the bond offering means for Dewey, and the early returns are unclear. At least one law firm managing partner outside of Dewey says it is a positive sign for the firm, according to Bloomberg. Morrison & Foerster chair Keith Wetmore told the news service that, "You need a pretty good balance sheet to interest institutional investors. Not every law firm is going to have that."

    Of course what the investors failed to recognise is that a law firm has very few capital assets - rather if too many partners walk, the house of cards comes falling down - and if investors seek even a small portion of firm profits the source of the profits has an easy way to keep them - walking. This is effectively what happened to Dewey - too much "profit" was been taken out of the firm by a combination of the lenders and the guaranteed salary deals to newly acquired partners, which meant that long standing profitable practice groups decided to decamp with their profits. (This has happened in other sectors - Cordiant for example.) The structure of the legal business makes private investment in anything other than "commodity" legal work hard, and even for that work the low capital requirements means that a competitor without shareholder/bondholders can undercut.

    The other problem with allowing "investors" in law forms it that it will exacerbate ethics trends that are already observable - the "do anything" culture along with the pressure to bill as investor targets are set for management bonuses. I think private investment would be a profoundly negative development - just as it has been with law schools.


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