Monday, June 18, 2012

Man paid $867,000 to run fourth-tier law school says law school is a good investment

Not An Onion Story:

But others view [Brian Tamanaha's Failing Law Schools] as just the latest overly dire prediction about the fate of law graduates and misplaced finger-pointing over tuition costs.

"Most people in the profession were already concerned about what it costs to get a law degree," said John O'Brien, dean of the New England School of Law and chairman of the ABA's Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. "Nobody feels good that tuitions have gone up. But the claim that a law degree is a bad investment doesn't hold water."

O'Brien currently heads the ABA's Council of the Section of Legal Education, whose regulatory mission is to decide whether it's a good idea for John O'Brien to get paid nearly $800,000 per year  $867,000 per year to run a law school with these outcomes for its graduates.  (Just found the 2011 IRS Form 990 for NESL. I apologize to Dean O'Brien for seriously understating what he earned last year for his charitable endeavors).

82 comments:

  1. First on NESL bashing post.

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  2. O'Brien's chairmanship also makes the Council's decision to ignore the Standard 509 subcommittee's recommendation to include school-specific salary data a lot more understandable, too.

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  3. "Nobody feels good that tuitions have gone up."

    I guess that must just be because when you're getting paid $800,000 a year, you feel pretty good all the time. It's hard to tell really.

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  4. If dean O'Brien truly feels a law degree is a good investment, I'm sure he wouldn't mind being held accountable for the dismal employment numbers his school is producing, right?

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  5. http://thirdtierreality.blogspot.com/2010/10/noxious-fourth-tier-waste-product-new.html

    Back on October 6, 2010, I profiled this fourth tier trash pit on my blog. Back in 2008, O'Brien "only" made $614,982 in TOTAL COMPENSATION as dean of this turd.

    http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2009/042/152/2009-042152671-05fb134a-9.pdf

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  6. One of the real villains in this saga is the ABA. Not only has it turned a blind eye to carnage, it has made things worse by continuing to accredit new law schools. That the ABA would choose a brazen liar from a fourth tier dump to head its legal education section in the middle of this crisis is astonishing.

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  7. This guy is just objectively a terrible human being.

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  8. You know your law school is a bad investment when you advertise on the exterior of the T.

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  9. What the fuck?!?!?!?!

    867K? 867k?, fucking really?

    The whole educational industry is a scam. Did anyone see New England's numbers? The success of their graduates is inversely proportional to the success of the New England Patriots.

    A few questions:

    1) How did this happen?
    2) Who allowed it to happen? This cannot be the work of the ABA acting by itself.
    3) How do we stop it?

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  10. "Law students are already limited to $138,000 in federal loans, including undergraduate loans, and reducing that limit would likely push more borrowers to higher-interest private loans, he said. Additionally, reducing access to federal student loans could prevent law schools from admitting lower-income students. "We could inadvertently make things worse," Hartle said."

    This is one of the problems with the media articles on the scam. They do not go out and quote someone to rebut this obvious misstatement and the authors are too concerned with the appearance of objectivity to cut it from the article. Law students can borrow unlimited GradPlus loans which are federally backed and also IBR eligible. Rebutting false statements from a lobbying group does not mean abandoning objectivity.

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  11. I am wondering why with all the law school law suits, has no one thought of going to the root of the problem--the ABA, take it to federal court/doj and get an injunction on accreditation....

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  12. How does the $867k compare with other law schools in the Boston area with objectively higher reputations, more students and better employment outcomes. Also I though I saw an even higher number for his total compensation package (pension contribs, other allowances, etc.)

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  13. I know it doesn't apply to everyone, but I'm at a TTT and got hired by a local firm for the summer (1L summer), so it isn't all bad out there.

    I am hoping that next summer I get a paid gig, but just to get hired at all is way better than you guys make it sound. In fact, I know several other of my classmates that also got hired at various places and who expect to go back for pay next summer if they work hard and do well.

    I figure if people can buy their mcmansions for hundreds of thousands of dollars and pay them off, then why shouldn't I be able to pay my loan payment on what will be much less, especially since I've already provedn I can get hired by BigLaw? My $100,000 is like nothing compared to what people go out and spend on cars and boats and homes.

    Yeah, I might have to wear the same few suits for a year or so and get a cheaper car than I want, but you have to seize the positive and work hard and get your name and face out there. The legal community is a family, and word travels fast. I've seen this in action already.

    I hope you guys can get some confidence and get back out there. If I can land a biglaw job, even though its just for the summer, I know you can land at least something in midlaw even if you're not in a big metro area.

    Keep your heads up! We're all JDs (well, I will be!!!)

    That is something to be PROUD of.

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  14. I found the Chairman of the board of trustees explanation for the astonishing pay 7 months ago (before they put it up again!!) on LinkedIn - wow

    Martin Foster • As chair of the New England Law | Boston Board of Trustees, I recognize that law students invest precious resources – both time and money – in their legal education. The leadership and boards overseeing those institutions have a responsibility to make sure those resources are used well.

    Yes, we know Dean O’Brien’s compensation is a lot of money. But the Board believes that his continued leadership is a critical part of what makes New England Law | Boston an outstanding place to earn a law degree.

    Law school deans who are capable of transforming an institution are extremely rare. Our Board has not a shred of doubt that Dean O’Brien is the catalyst, that once-in-a lifetime “game-changer” who makes our program exponentially better than anyone else could make it. He is not only a committed Dean and the single biggest advocate for New England Law, he functions as the organization’s CEO and has taken on national leadership roles in legal education designed to strengthen the field overall. To compare his compensation after 23 years as dean and legal education leader to the compensation of deans with little or no experience or track record is misguided.

    A special trustee committee that I appointed to determine Dean O’Brien’s compensation did an exhaustive study and issued a report concluding that our dean was special, a recognized educational and civic leader. It noted among other things:

    1. The elevated prestige of the law school, including the school’s special relationship with numerous members of the United States Supreme Court;
    2. The school’s consistent and extraordinary progress, affirmed year-in and year-out by our students’ success on the bar exam;
    3. Our financial stability despite high levels of competition and challenging economic times;
    4. The dean’s nomination and election by his peers to serve as Chair of the ABA Section on Legal Education, the highest position attainable in legal education.

    From there we worked with two independent compensation experts who helped us arrive at numbers that were appropriate to his role and the fact that Dean O’Brien is regularly the subject of recruiting efforts by other law schools. (Worth noting: the “loan forgiveness” amount reported in this discussion is incorrect; that can only be earned over a 10-year period.)

    I hope my perspective is helpful.

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  15. The ABA will be joined at the last minute, IMO.

    At first I thought the lawyers filing these suits overlooked the ABA. Now, I think it is evil genius. Again, IMO, they are waiting/hoping that the law schools try to pin everything on the ABA (a habit of defendants-always blame the party not present) then at the last minute, you bring in the "blamed" party.

    This is a standard litigation tactic. I have used it before. The "blamed" party's defenses will not stand up because those doing the blaming...in this case the schools (see Cooley suit) will have already blown holes through them in anticipation of their use. Then the ABA will turn on the schools. All Plaintiff's counsel has to do is write down the COAs, defenses, tactics, etc. There is nothing a litigator like more than seeing two parties, on the same side of the "v" go after one another.

    Daddy like.

    Also, 10:40, the "root" of the problem is not the ABA. While they are the main part, many more entities (schools, government, loan system, professors, admins) are to blame.

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  16. Since when is a "standard litigation tactic" equivalent with "evil genius?"

    I'm a genius! Why, you ask? Because I put one foot in front of the other in order to get from one place to another by my own power. Yes, it's a standard perambulation tactic, but still--genius!

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  17. 10:21, that's for sure. And notice they're now calling themselves "New England Law." Consider when a law school changes it's name in the interests of "rebranding" yet another red flag...

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  18. "The claim that a law degree is a bad investment doesn't hold water."
    - John O'Brien

    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
    - Upton Sinclair

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  19. I think 10:59 is a troll. The giveaway is twofold reference to pay in the future. She is working for free.

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  20. 11:07 is an asswipe. I think the same person as 10:59. If 10:59 thinks they had a good outcome thus far in the game, it nearly proves that law school will always have enough suckers to fill seats.

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  21. A law degree, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad investment.

    Buying things on credit that may or may not appreciate fast enough to repay that credit is what makes it a bad investment for many.

    Is it necessarily a bad investment for a poli-sci major to spend 3 years in law school? I'd say no, not always.

    Is it the "best" investment? Of course not. But just because an investment is not the best does not make it bad. Only worse than that which is better.

    People get hurt by over-borrowing. People get hurt buy paying much more for something than it turns out to be worth.

    People who do both are those that haunt these scamblogs.

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  22. 11:09: So NESL is now NEL? NESL is easier to mock.

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  23. LawProf, why do you hate The Market so much?

    Also, David Brooks would like to ask why you hate Our Wonderful Elites so much? O'Brien's income (as with the rest of the 1%) is the product of merit, merit, merit.

    Anyway, President Romney has an easy solution to fix all this; fire hundreds of thousands of middle class government employees and cut O'Brien's income taxes.

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  24. How much does Dean Minow get paid? I hope 10 times as much as this terrible person.

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  25. Prof. Campos, to me you are a hero like Spiderman. Guys like Ken Gormley and John O'Brien are comparable to Spidey villains such as the Vulture and the Chameleon.

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  26. We need more campos's in the world!

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  27. I guess Campos could be sort of like Spiderman if Spiderman

    1) got a cut of all of the money stolen from the citizens by the "villains"

    2) criticized the villains from within their hideouts, all the while protected from harm by some sort of "superhero tenure"

    3) had a cool suit with a mask

    But as it stands, I don't really see the similarities.

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  28. Rather than the Vulture or the Chameleon, what about the Lizard? Some of these law administrators and professors do actually think they are doing good, despite evidence to the contrary. Dr. Conners thinks he's helping mankind evolve into something better.

    For 12:17, Spidey does kind of get a cut from the villains. He photographs himself fighting the villains and then sells those pictures to the Daily Bugle. So, he does benefit from their villainy.

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  29. 12:06 - I don't get the references to Romney, et. al. They are not relevant. Besides, as posted here before, as hard as it is to stomach, the law school scam problem belongs to liberals and Democrats. Faculty lounges and 90 plus percent Democrats. The Department of Education which pumps out loans to 22 year olds is also dominated by the liberal chattering class. Perhaps if there were some intellectual balance at these schools over the years the scambolic nature of law school finances would not be nearly as bad as it is today. No, this is not so because conservatives are scions of moral virtue. But they generally dislike lousy business models. And when looking at value received, law school is a product of a very lousy business model.

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  30. LawProf, There's an article in the Wall Street Journal today entitled "Why Hire A Lawyer? Computers Are Cheaper." about predictive software that may well make document reviewers a thing of the past.

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  31. The WSJ also did a little video entitled "Your Next Lawyer May Be A Computer. He's the URL: http://online.wsj.com/video/your-next-lawyer-might-be-a-pc/87FCE296-E4DF-48B5-A878-0159F9495282.html?mod=WSJ_Article_Videocarousel_1

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  32. 12:28:

    The scam is only possible because of the right wingnut-lead destruction of the middle class, and specifically of the destruction of middle class job opportunities for labor market entrants. When factory jobs starting at $50,000/year +benefits were plentiful, there was no kindling for the scam to burn. Young people had an alternative.

    Aside from that, the faculty at the garbage schools are not very progressive. Sure, Harvard and Michigan and Columbia have progressive faculty and they haven't done much to stop the scam (and in some situations have facilitated it). But Cooley, Touro, NESL, etc. are filled with low-wattage, salesman-type conservative faculty.

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  33. If I had to compare law school professors and deans to Spidey villains, I would probably suggest this short list:

    1) Morbius (bloodsucking on the federal student loan teat).
    2) The Jackal aka Dr. Warren Miles (obsessed professor).
    3) Mysterio (likes to use smoke & mirrors trickery and hide the ball stunts to defeat his opponents).
    4) Jack O'Lantern (has no powers but pretends to matter in the continuum of Spidey villains).
    5) Vermin (for his hideous appearance).

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  34. O'Brien is a piece of fucking work. It takes a special person to make your run of the mill $400k salary TTT Dean look good.

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  35. It's not so much the right-wing nuts that destoyed the middle class jobs as it is labor unions that got compensation packages for themselves that was not sustainable in the long run. It's gotten to the point where even government unions (who face absolutely no competition) can't maintain their outrageous benefits, and the voters are starting to rebel against them.

    Trying to tie the law school scam with a lack of jobs (in the current market) doesn't make much sense. The law school scam has been in full effect for many decades.

    BTW, to be clear, I'm not the same poster as 12:28.

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  36. For Spidey villains, let's throw in the Kingpin. He might be more of a Daredevil nemisis, though.

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  37. 1:15PM, who would be the Kingpin? The highest paid law school dean?

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  38. Fair to make general comment about Catholics, based on Mr. O'Brien?

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  39. Also, Irish people.

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  40. Wasn't an O'Brien the Inner Party official in charge of torturing Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty Four?

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  41. O'Brien thinks it's pretty neat
    to gobble on the lending teat;
    to ride that gravy train on tracks
    laid across poor debtor's backs;
    to know that half the student body
    n'aer will buy a pissin' potty.

    Well clip, clip clip klop
    Klippity klop.

    Get off your high horse O'Brien
    and deal with all the plop!

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  42. Toileteer doggerel.

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  43. There was an article several years ago on Stephen Bainbridge's blog that reported Yale (or Harvard, I forget) offering a professor there over $600k salary. Of course, this is YHS, but still....

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  44. patronul plagiatorilor
    http://especialistasgoterastejadosmadrid.blogspot.com.es/

    incheem cu o fraza

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  45. Wow, tying the law school scam to "government unions," that's a new one. Did government unions kill Jesus, too? Don't mind answering, we all know that they did.

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  46. LawProf,

    The funny thing is the outlandishness of O'Brien quote actually hides what perhaps may be a more egregious statement from the top lobbyist for higher ed, writ large (quoting from National Law Journal):

    Although Tamanaha's concern over high law school costs is justified, his suggested reforms of the federal student loan system "is fairly simplistic and misses some key points," said Terry Hartle, senior vice president for the government and public affairs division of the American Council on Education.

    Law students are already limited to $138,000 in federal loans, including undergraduate loans, and reducing that limit would likely push more borrowers to higher-interest private loans, he said. Additionally, reducing access to federal student loans could prevent law schools from admitting lower-income students. "We could inadvertently make things worse," Hartle said.
    ____

    Wrong!, Mr. Hartle. To not acknowledge the unlimited availability of higher cost, unlimited financing in the form of Grad PLUS is either a) dishonest or b) "fairly simplistic and misses some key points."

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  47. Mr. hartle is an idiot if he thinks federal loans are limited. American couldn't charge $50,000 in tuition alone if they were.

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  48. I was just sent this from the latest Dear Prudence advice column in Slate. Note the highlighted text:

    Q. Unsolicited Advice: I'm a career server in a rather upscale, posh establishment. I've never had any qualms or shame in what I do for a living, as I feel I come by my income honestly, but it seems some of my patrons do, in a backhanded kind of way. I often get compliments on my level of service, which is all well and good, however it is often followed by "So what are your REAL plans?" or "Is this all you do?" I'm often taken aback by these statements. I went to college, graduated with huge student-loan debt and realized my chosen major wasn't a lucrative one in the real world. Doing what I do now, in the environment I'm in, I make on average around $50K a year, with full medical benefits, 401K options and paid vacation. For a single gal with no kids that's not too shabby. I've been able to pay off my student loans entirely, and though my job might be too "blue collar" for some, I find I'm always physically active, I'm never in rush-hour traffic, I don't take my work home with me, I get my errands done when no one is around, and if I suddenly want to take off in the middle of the week and go on a trip, I can. My job gives me the freedom to enjoy my hobbies , volunteer in the community, and even be the occasional "lady who lunches." I'm absolutely fine with what I do! My question is, though I understand it's a compliment for others to see me as skilled in my profession, when the 21 Questions of my life choices start flying, how do I politely and tactfully tell them to put a cork in it?

    A: Given your description of your life, I think posh restaurants are about to be flooded with the résumés of recent law school graduates.

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  49. The Train conductor's Monologue (Part of the Law School Student Loan Suicide Fantasy Chronicles)

    "Lousy spoiled rotten kid!
    You splattered up me choo choo!

    I was goin' like a missle.
    Didn'tcha hear me whistle?

    Kids like you should be out
    Rockin' and Rollin'!

    So why's there someone out here now
    scrapin up yer colon?"

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  50. Can someone start a hall of fame for scammers?

    This guy has to be inducted next to anyone who draws a check from Cooley.

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  51. Here is more toilet doggerel:

    The Law School Student Loan Suicide Fantasy Chronicles.

    Introduction - The Pentagram:

    Five kids went to Law School
    in autumn's gothic season.
    Children bright, with much ambition
    without the money for tuition.
    All were dead within five years
    by suicide, so it appears.

    The darkest sin known to man
    is to take one's life
    with one's own hand.

    They all stepped off the bus at Tar-oh
    early on an August day...but
    like runaways in Hollywood
    they had to sell themselves to stay.

    In their case, it was kind of fun.
    They signed and X and with a HEX
    the deed was done!
    No need to worry 'bout tomorrow
    the student loans were there to borrow.

    But on that first and fateful day
    and ere they stepped inside,
    all were seen to shrink and pause.
    A dreadful cloud, both swift and wide,
    cast a shadow on thier way,
    and doubts upon their cause.

    "What evil place is this" they asked?
    "What witchcraft lurks inside?
    What force has guided nature's hand
    to cast this dreadful pall?"

    They looked around and whispered:

    "Woe betide us all!"

    To be continued.

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  52. Billy was the first to go.
    He blew his brains out with a shotgun.

    Next came Jennie who, for fun
    took a swan dive from a bridge
    in blinding snow
    and struck cold water far below.

    Celeste, the artsy craftsy one
    clever and footloose
    used her good hands to make a noose and,
    with a face both tight and grim
    her clumsy feet slipped
    from a limb.

    Then came little feety Petey
    and as you all will see
    he sliced his two arms viciously.
    Not a good boy,
    he was Bad!
    Some say angry, some say sad,
    and some say simply MAD!

    Mikey, the red caboose
    was always last and late.
    he made himself a royal pain.
    They had to scrape him from a train!

    It cost the taxpayers dearly for the delay
    and the Union Railroad pay
    (Which is Great!)

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  53. "[The] claim that a law degree is a bad investment doesn't hold water" - John O'Brien.

    "The private sector is doing fine" - President Obama.

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  54. 10:59/obvious troll - thanks for the laugh. I LOL'd.

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  55. @10:59 wrote:

    "Keep your heads up! We're all JDs (well, I will be!!!)

    That is something to be PROUD of."

    So young and tender. A babe in the woods.

    Anyway, this is the story of how the evil witch changed young and naive children into rats and spiders, which is the way I feel now.

    I feel like an indebted horror.

    Fortunately the witch, with a heart of stone met with a fitting end.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hcRkmZJ4Xc

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  56. 10:59 is a babe in the woods:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hcRkmZJ4Xc

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  57. Congratulations Dean John O'Brien, you're making about $18 large a week and are surely living the American Dream.

    Speaking of which (American Dream), I think Prof. Campos got his titles mixed up. For some reason he titled yesterday's blog "American Dream" but with Dean O'Brien's outstanding achievements highlighted today, I think today's post should have had that title.

    Anyways, congrats again to the good Dean O'Brien; I'm sure you work really, really hard for your pay, as do we all.

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  58. Fucking faggot asshole. Fuck you motherfucker.

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  59. This guy gets paid in a year like 4 times what a typical law school debtor owes. He probably thinks that law school tuition ain't a thang. He probably can't even see if from ontop of his large paycheck. If law school tuition cost 1/4 of what your average American made it would cost $12,000

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  60. Average American makes something like 33k. So more like 8k

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  61. ""[The] claim that a law degree is a bad investment doesn't hold water" - John O'Brien.

    If it's a a good investment, why doesn't the good dean (or his institution) personally loan money to his students at lower interest rates than what the federal government can guarantee? Look, treasury rates are at like 2 and a half for 30-year. GradPlus loans (which his students need by the truck-full) are at 7.9%.

    If law is such a "good investment," there seems to be lender opportunity here. The dean could loan his coin out at 6% and he should have takers, right? He could limit it to 3rd-years to get a return on the notes earlier. If law is such a good investment, how are people passing up this sure-fire income stream? And unlike real estate debt from that nasty mortgage bubble, he could argue non-dischargability.

    It's a time-tested rule that the way to test someone pimping something as an investment opportunity is to see where they're putting their own money. Actions speak louder than words, that sort of thing. Hopefully some enterprising NESL student (wait, can they be enterprising?) will ask the dean for a loan because "you know I'm good for it, eh, O'B? You said it's a good investment, right?"

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  62. "So never be afraid, never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion; against injustice, lying and greed. If you, not just you in this room tonight, but in all the other thousands of rooms like this one today and tomorrow and next week will do this, not as a class or classes, but as individuals, men and women, you will change the earth.”

    --William Faulkner, to a class of graduating seniors at University High School, Mississippi.

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  63. Dear Woman Who Wrote To Dear Prudence,

    While you will sometimes hear a condescending remark, you will be fine as long as you keep your face and figure. Sooner or later, a man of means will decide to finance your life in exchange for your beauty and sex.

    A man in a service position has it 1,000% worse, since we are ultimately judged on earning capacity. We can be well-educated and have a well-rounded life, and it doesn't matter. We are judged on our jobs and our Benjamins.

    So quit your griping.

    Prudence

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  64. If it's a a good investment, why doesn't the good dean (or his institution) personally loan money to his students at lower interest rates than what the federal government can guarantee? Look, treasury rates are at like 2 and a half for 30-year. GradPlus loans (which his students need by the truck-full) are at 7.9%.

    =============================

    ^^^ = total pwnage of that fucking dick.

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  65. so true so true and the good Greek doesn't go north without a compass nor does he run for the coast every time the wind blows you know what I mean and it's up there with the rest of them! Don't give up big guy.

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  66. This whole thing is truly a sad commentary on how far small time Boston cronyism and political favoritism will go. the school constantly solicits money from alum yet it has no endowment like the heavy hitters in legal education. O'brien's outlandish pay package comes right off the backs of the students and loan scam. There used to be a guy called Judge Lawton who ran the place like it was part of the Boston political machine. NEL is similar to a plumbing trade school. Foster is clearly an enabler and attempting to defend the undefendable like any good appointed crony.

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  67. More Law School Dean antics come to light, this time from GW:

    http://abovethelaw.com/2012/06/law-school-cuts-stipend-on-own-employment-program-for-recent-grads-thinks-they-need-more-incentive-to-find-a-job/

    "The memo also lays bare that [GW Law Dean] Berman’s Pathways program is nothing more than a bald attempt to game the employment statistics in a way that makes it look good for U.S. News. Nothing more."

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  68. How is Germany managing to kick our @sses economically without expensive elite law schools? China's coming up fast too. Even Canada's economy is doing better than ours without the advantage of highly paid law school leadership.

    What are they doing wrong?

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  69. The program at New England was extremely depressing and contrived. I attended evening classes for a year, and luckily was able to get out, not having student loans (rich parents :( ). It's sad when during the classes, you have professors paid $130 K a year lying through their teeth that you are "the cream of the crop" and you will find a good enough job on the other side. I came in with good credentials and a fresh smile, from a good undergrad school looking to do something big...however despite the schools shitty career services, I was only able to get an unpaid volunteer position with the AG's office...AND I got there from my UNDERGRAD...being in law school at New England School of FLAW did nothing. Ask someone in L.A. what NESL is...they wouldn't know...what does that tell you? I don't even put the school on my resume.

    ReplyDelete
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