Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Life is a carnival


Savor the comedy stylings of Don LeDuc, Dean and President of the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law:
The President of Cooley Law School believes the state has reached a "tipping point" where the number of older attorneys leaving practice will exceed the number of law students entering the market.

Don LeDuc said he believes the state will be in "deficit mode" where there are more jobs than lawyers for about 20 years.

"There's such talk about too many lawyers and no jobs," LeDuc said. "In two or three years, we will be producing fewer new admissions to membership than the numbers leaving membership in the same year."

Cooley Law School graduated 996 lawyers in 2011 and 918 in 2010, according to James Robb, associate dean for development and alumni relations at Cooley.

LeDuc points to a demographics report put out by the State Bar of Michigan that found 53.4 percent of the active members of the state bar were born before 1961. The survey also found that 11.1 percent (or about 3,716 lawyers) of the active bar members were born before 1944.

Citing data from the State Bar, LeDuc contends that 55.6 percent of the active Michigan bar members were 50 years or older in 2010 and 29.6 percent were 60 and older.

On average, the state will need 992 lawyers each year in the next decade to replace these older lawyers, LeDuc contends. With a shortage of lawyers, LeDuc fears the people hurt the most will be the ones relying on court-appointed attorneys. LeDuc said with a shortage, there would be fewer going after the court-appointed cases.

Actual Bureau of Labor Statistics projections for 2008-2018:

The Michigan economy is projected to produce an average of 470 new jobs for lawyers per year over the course of the decade. As of 2008 Michigan's five law schools were producing 2,016 graduates per year.  This projected ratio of 4.29 grads for every anticipated job was the second-worst ratio of any state, behind Massachusetts.

BTW thanks to Cooley this ratio has gotten worse, as Michigan’s five law schools graduated 2,073 J.D. holders in 2011 per ABA data.  How many of these people got full-time long-term legal jobs (excluding people listing themselves as solo practitioners) in the state of Michigan? This number can be estimated from the new ABA employment data, if we assume that the percentage of graduates from each school employed in Michigan who got full-time long-term legal jobs was similar to the overall percentage of each school’s graduates who got such jobs. The answer is approximately 376: 45 from Detroit-Mercy, 60 from Michigan State, 45 from Michigan, 142 from Cooley and 84 from Wayne State. (Overall, 868 of these 2,073 graduates, or 41.2%, got full-time long-term legal jobs per the ABA stats. This percentage falls to 34.3% if you exclude the University of Michigan data).

Now LeDuc -- who got paid $523,000 by Cooley in 2009 per IRS Form 990 – is basically just a carnival barker with a law degree, but his style of argumentation is all too typical of the things that pass for knowledge in much of both legal academia and the legal profession.  (I recently heard a high-ranking member of the Colorado legal establishment make a similarly absurd argument about a looming lawyer shortage brought on by imminent boomer retirements).
 
LeDuc, like so many other people in this thing of ours, is an unabashed grifter, making up on the fly whatever argument he thinks might work on his target audience, while ignoring evidence, logic, and any constraints that might be generated by a sense of honor or the ability to feel shame.

Still, this is not so different from legal “reasoning” 101 as practiced in so many classrooms and courtrooms: Come up with some halfway plausible-sounding theory, tart it up with a few carefully selected statistics to give it a patina of faux empiricism, present it all with an air of great confidence and an implicit or explicit demand to respect your authority, and keep cashing those checks.  (Cooley’s total revenues in 2009: $117,577,686. $108,957,933 of this came from tuition and fees, which represented nearly a $13,000,000 [!] increase in tuition revenue from 2008. The 28% drop in enrollment last year must be hitting them where it hurts).

Really, the difference between LeDuc’s transparently self-serving bullshit (this kind of thing doesn’t even rise to the relative respectability of a lie, which at least requires the speaker to care about whether what he’s saying is true or not) and many an appellate opinion is that he doesn’t have the ability to tack “IT IS SO ORDERED” on the end of it. And how many law school classes, which so often take the form of the professor engaging in Pretend Judging, or worse yet, Pretend Policy Analysis, feature the same willingness to just make it up as one goes along, as the little man behind the curtain frantically pulls on the rhetorical levers that operate the Wizard of Law? 

In all these cases, the cognitive style is the same: the complete disregard for, or even interest in, real data or method or theory; the need to constantly pretend that one knows what one is talking about; the assumption, so deeply embedded as to be unconscious, that all arguments are nothing more than rhetorical tools; the contempt, in short, for anything resembling intellectual integrity, in even the loosest sense of the phrase.

What a world, what a world.

150 comments:

  1. I wish you had a site meter so we could get a sense of how many people visit hee each day.

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  2. people like leduc always end up in jail or disgraced eventually. he's exactly the type of delusional megalomaniac who picks up high-class call girls (if there are any in michigan) and does other nefarious things with his ill-gotten gains. patience... i hope he rots.

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  3. Out of curiosity, how successful are solo practices? Does anybody have any data on that?

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  4. "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics"

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  5. The premise of your argument is that everyone who goes to school in Michigan wants to practice in Michigan. There is no basis for this premise. Further, by far most of the students at Cooley come to Cooley from out of state and look to leave when they graduate. This is also true of UM and Michigan State. This is backed up by less than a 1,000 people passing the bar in Michigan each year.

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  6. http://www.esquire.com/features/young-people-in-the-recession-0412

    Old farts are not retiring from most industries anytime soon. I know PLENTY of pigs who are 70 years old and still receiving a paycheck, for little work. The fact is these morons have raked it in, but have small savings due to their spendthrift habits.

    Also, remember when "law professors" and deans were stating that the legal job market WOULD recover by 2012? For $ome rea$on, they did not provide specifics as to why they believed this to be the case. Subsequently, this BS prognostication did not come to fruition.

    In the end, these bastards are nothing more than highly-educated hustlers and carnival barkers. Look past their academic "credentials" and it is easy to see their real purpose, i.e. to bankrupt entire generations of younger people for their personal gain.

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  7. Law Prof, you are sooo getting sued. How dare you question the second best law school in the multi-verse?

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  8. 5:26: The majority of Cooley grads who got jobs of any kind (not just lawyer jobs) got jobs in Michigan. That's true for all these schools except for U of M. Going to any law school in Michigan other than U of M with the aim of getting a job as a lawyer somewhere else is a terrible idea. Of course going to Cooley is a terrible idea period.

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  9. Damn. Which appellate judge peed in your cheerios this morning?

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  10. 5:26 writes, "The premise of your argument is that everyone who goes to school in Michigan wants to practice in Michigan... ...by far most of the students at Cooley come to Cooley from out of state and look to leave when they graduate."

    I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and believe that you believe what you wrote. However, the ABA numbers do not back up your assertion. They show where employed Cooley grads are employed. It's about 85% in MI.

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  11. No one with an ounce of self-respect or decency would even consider taking the job that LeDuc has, let alone pocketing half-a-mill per year for it. Of course he's a shameless con artist. That's the type of person the job of TTT dean attracts.

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  12. i personally know more older attorneys in privtae practice found dead in their office than actually retire.

    not many attorneys in privtae practice actually retire. I have known attorneys in their 70 and 80 billing more than jr partners.

    but most older attorneys i know in private pracrtice just take on a reduced role. spend more time with clients and flirting with the secretaries and stuff and bill a lot less. And once you get to that point, its semi retirement anyway but it gives you something to do.

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  13. You should clarify that the Bureau of Labor Statistic that you quote is not "new jobs" but "job openings" which includes jobs available because of retirement.

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  14. Lawprof:

    Is there any reason for Cooley law school to exist? Does it serve any function other than to transfer wealth from the poor and gullible to a handful of grifters (financed entirely by Uncle Sucker, of course)?

    Better question; shouldn't the government stop loaning money to the folks duped into going there? Private lenders wouldn't touch loan applications for Cooley attendance with 10 foot poles; why is the USG willing to finance such a terrible bet?

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  15. Even if this were true, it doesn't help.

    If 10,000 baby boomer lawyers retired tomorrow, it would only help if employers decided they wanted young lawyers to replace experienced ones. Even then, it would only help the classes of 2012 and 2013. If you graduated before that, you're out of luck.

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  16. From "Don LeDuc, Dean and President of the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law: ... ...[who] points to a demographics report [and so] contends that 55.6 percent of the active Michigan bar members were 50 years or older..."

    ...as support for his assertion in forecasting an upcoming scarcity of lawyers in MI.

    LawProf - something else to point out here is that old lawyers are loathe to give up their active status (the President's and First Lady's ILL Bar inactive status notwithstanding).

    Maybe it's a generational thing. Any of my younger lawyer friends (younger being ~15 or less years practice) who become not-active as lawyers do tend to go inactive to avoid CLE requirements and dues (and in a couple cases, outright surrender). But the geezers stay active despite the CLE requirements, even when they haven't practiced in a decade.

    Anecdotally (yeah-yeah, pile on) it seems the same with doctors. I know several youngish docs (50's) who have become businessmen and let their state license go inactive, whereas older docs (70's, 80's) who have been retired for years keep paying to keep the license active.

    Might be interesting to see if this pattern also varies from state-to-state with lawyers. I don't have time for a full survey, but I did just Google MI bar requirements specifically and lookee see what we find:

    YOU GET LITTLE BENEFIT from going inactive in the MI Bar. You still have to pay your bar dues (although you do get a whoppin' $7.50 to $97.50 per year discount (depends on number of years of practice) for going inactive). And MI Bar does not require CLEs even for active members, so inactivity does not benefit you there.

    So I'd say overall the Good Dean Don LeDuc's premise, based on ages of "active" MI Bar members, really falls into the category of:

    - Price?

    - Tea?

    - China?

    http://www.michbar.org/generalinfo/duesFAQ.cfm

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  17. "Is there any reason for Cooley law school to exist?"

    No.

    "shouldn't the government stop loaning money to the folks duped into going there?"

    Yes.

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  18. @ I_have_a_name

    ABA is as follows for class of 2011:

    Cooley 583 employed

    281 employed in Michigan

    That is around 48%, not 85%

    Like I said majority of Cooley grads employed take jobs outside Michigan. HTH

    I don't care if people bash Schools like Cooley, but lets at least keeps facts accurate.

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  19. How someone like Dean LeDuc can look at himself in the mirror every morning is a mystery to me. Do you think he realizes how utterly unethical his behaviour is and just doesn't give a damn, or does the man simply have an extraordinarily well developed ability to rationalize it all away in order to maintain a positive self image (and justify to himself his ridiculously high salary). In either case, an utterly loathesome human being any way you look at it.

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  20. This same argument is being made lots of places. My own experience with it comes from the library science world. A few years ago these arguments were plentiful- "So many boomer librarians will be retiring! There will be so many jobs!" Nowadays this argument doesn't get made as MUCH, though it is still happening and plenty of people within the profession still believe it. But it is now evident in the library world that boomers are, in fact, not retiring. Their nails are dug in to their desks and they cannot be pried away. There are no jobs.

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  21. Do you think he realizes how utterly unethical his behaviour is and just doesn't give a damn, or does the man simply have an extraordinarily well developed ability to rationalize it all away in order to maintain a positive self image (and justify to himself his ridiculously high salary).

    My guess is that it's probably the first. Five hundred grand is a powerful motivator. But I wouldn't rule out your second option, i.e., that he's a psychopath.

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  22. 6:26, thanks for replying. I see now my mistake is in using only the numbers from the listed state's employment, which by its nature only includes the 3 largest states (MI at 281, IL at 32, NY at 25).

    However, note that I also now think your numbers don't work either, because the data isn't parsed in a way we can use. On the one hand, we have 583 employed one way or another, which we can reasonably parse into law jobs or not law jobs (Starbucks or whatever).

    But the state listing data is not parsed by type of employment (even on the full spreadsheet). So the number employed in MI as lawyers could actually even be lower than your 48% number.

    So I formally withdraw my criticism of your original post, because I'm now skeptical of making a reasonable guess based on data in the ABA report.

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  23. Old people aren't retirning for a very simple reason: they can't.

    Take my father, for example: He worked in IT from the 1970's for a slew of companies, but never long enough to collect a sufficient pension from any of them. In each company his department would either be outsourced to an external supplier (meaning that he lost the pension from his ex-employer even if the department didn't actually physically go anywhere and he continued doing the same job) or he go laid-off in re-organisations. Whatever pension money he managed to collect would not be enough to see my parents through retirement.

    Luckily my three siblings and I managed to come up with an arrangement whereby my parents would be able to retire comfortably. If my parents had had fewer children, or none, or if we hadn't had the means to help them out, my father would still be working. It wouldn't have been his fault, nor would he had wanted to do so, he was just a victim of corporate restructuring throughout his career, as well as bad luck in investments which looked like safe bets when he made them.

    Most of the late-60's and 70-year-olds you see working at the moment are the same. It's not that they want to keep working, its just that because of bad investments or simply bad luck, they don't have the money to retire. Even with their age and seniority, they still have the advantage of experience and usually already being in-place, so there's no way a fresh grad can compete with them.

    Believe me when I say that I sympathise with younger people who have colleagues who really should be enjoying retirement. It's just that it's not worth blaming them for that situation, instead the balme lies with who/whatever caused them to have insufficient funds to retire on.

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  24. @Shark Sandwich - Correct. Even if people do retire, it may well be that their positions will simply be closed and the work either shared out amongst remaining workers, off-shored, or otherwise made up for through automation or re-organisation. The default setting in at least a few businesses is "OK, how can we make-do with one fewer worker" not "Let's hire someone new".

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  25. Be careful Cooley may sue you for defamation using lawyers that went to your alma mater because they cannot find Cooley grads capable of doing so.

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  26. law prof wrote:
    "LeDuc, like so many other people in this thing of ours...."

    la cosa nostra? fuhgettaboutit! these guys are connected like the old time mobsters can only dream about.

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  27. FOARP: I think we can safely say that people working in academia, whether law professors, librarians, etc, CAN safely retire. Retirement options at universities are some of the best out there. And these people have been making extremely high salaries for years. They can afford to retire. I understand that people in other sectors of the economy can't. But higher education? Come on.

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  28. Who said anything about academia? The complaints here are about oldsters in practice.

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  29. @6:31

    What it going on in the library science world? I thought that a lot of them were able to find jobs working in DC and other places for the government.

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  30. @6:26 and I_have_a_name: I can't say as I much care which Target store Cooley grads end up working in but I suggest you look over the placement data posted on Law School Transparency which confirm what those of us who have been in the profession a long time always believed -- when it comes to job placemant almost all law schools outside the T14 serve very local and regional markets. This is true not only for state schools like Law Prof's (3/4 of placements in Colorado) or DJM's (2/3 in Ohio) but also for most private schools -- e.g. GW (60% DC and VA), American (2/3 in DC, VA and MD), Villanova (2/3 PA and NJ), Baylor (almost 90% TX), BU (2/3 MA and NY), Lewis & Clark (70% OR and WA) etc. This is an important factor for prospective students to consider when choosing a school and one I don't think is stressed enough here. Because where you go to school will, in most cases, determine where you have a reasonable prospect of finding a job (if you have job prospects at all).

    RPL

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  31. I used to work alongside a 74-year-old. This guy would sleep for about half the work-day, drool on the paperwork, forget very simple stuff, fuck stuff up and then try top blame it on younger colleagues (often successfully), and generally make life hell for the rest of us. The only reason he was kept on was the management needed his signature due to a set of hard-to-get qualifications he had gained some decades before-hand, and they knew he wasn't going anywhere - they had a lock on him until he died. Basically his young subordinates did all the work, and all he had to do was sign - although he would often manage to mess even this up.

    There's a good reason why most people retire in their 60's.

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  32. "I used to work alongside a 74-year-old. This guy would sleep for about half the work-day, drool on the paperwork, forget very simple stuff, fuck stuff up and then try top blame it on younger colleagues (often successfully), and generally make life hell for the rest of us."

    Yup. My experience as well.

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  33. That so many attorney's are continuing to practice into their 70s actually illustrates another reason not to go to law school, especially a school like Cooley - law is a job/business that it is very hard for many lawyers to retire from. There are a number of reasons for this, some are:

    1. Lawyers are generally responsible for their own pension arrangements,

    2. It is extremely hard as a partner in a small or medium sized firm to make any pension savings because income is very volatile - cash surpluses need to be saved so you have enough money in hand to run the practice for say 6 months to a year - and by the way, secretaries, associates, rent, insurance, electricity - everyone else gets paid before you do.

    3. If you have a big draw you tend to keep it in easy access accounts because chances are the next year will be a bust - so you usually want to have at least a year worth of living expenses saved - remembering that most small/medium firm partners are technically self employed and are not entitled to unemployment benefits.

    4. You also need to keep a lot of cash in hand because of taxes - which are inevitably hard to quantify.

    5. And then there is runoff insurance - which means that a small firm usually has to maintain its indemnity policy or pay a lump sum to cover for 3-6 years liability even after you stop working (where insurance is mandatory) - unless you sell the practice successfully.

    So basically a lot of lawyers in their 60s-70s cannot retire - because they would be pretty broke - social security might not be enough to cover some of the closedown costs.

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  34. To place 1000s of bright, young adults in a position where their educational debt will keep them from having normal lives is tantamount to a human rights violation.

    As a unemployed law school grad with 6-figure debt who bought this kind of bullshit and enrolled, I say, "shame on you, sir. You have no honor."

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  35. The notion that somebody would go to any law school in the state of Michigan other than UM in order to get a job somewhere outside the immediate region is pretty wacky.

    As RPL says to the extent a law degree from a regional school has any value in the legal marketplace these days it has that value in the area where there are a significant number of alums from that school (network!).

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  36. Agree 100% with the comments re: older practitioners not retiring. Where does LeDuc get the idea that there will be this big wave of retirees??? Is this based on any actual evidence??

    Most older practitinoers won't be retiring because, as others have noted, most can't afford to. Retirement is fun if you have tons of money to spend traveling, dining out, etc. Otherwise, not so much. Many baby boomers have little or no retirement savings, and many of those who do don't have enough to fund a secure retirement (esp. when you consider rising medical costs and the fact that Medicare in its current form is unsustainable).

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  37. @7.19 - Thing was, the guy had apparently still been pretty compos mentis up to a few years before I started work at that firm. It's just by the time I was there senility had already set in. I had worked at a hospital before and knew that actually that kind of crabiness and dishonesty was mainly just a function of advanced old-age and the guy might have been alright back in the day. Given his qualifications he must have actually been very sharp.

    As it was, he would come into the office with his flies unzipped, or his underwear showing from the top of his trousers, and would sleep so soundly at his desk that I often wondered if he had had a heart-attack. We were all always afraid to wake him up for fear that he might actually have died on the job, or by waking him up suddenly we might hasten his end.

    This is not to say I haven't had some better experiences. In one job I had around the start of the last decade I worked alongside a WWII veteran. Guy was still sharp, and a good man to talk to into the bargain. It's just that no-one should have to be at work at that age.

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  38. Lawprof: Today is a day I feel like giving up. I just had a discussion with people who think law school at sticker is worth it. Can't convince them otherwise because they feel they have no options.

    Cooley is a battle I don't even know how to begin to fight.

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  39. not your battle, 7:41. you gave them the information, there's really nothing else to do at this point.

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  40. Lawprof,

    I've often wondered if after a few drinks and off record, LeDuc would concede that this is all bullshit and a scam.

    Have you spoken with faculty at other law schools (faculty other than DJM, Henderson, etc.) who privately concede that the wheels are falling off? Or are they oblivious to the whole thing? As impractical and naive as many faculty members are, they are still very intelligent people. Do any candidly concede in private what they never would in public -- that law school is a big scam that hurts the majority of students.

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  41. @7:41 I trust you tried to direct them to this blog.

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  42. @7:41 - Look, if these people are looking to take a three-year holiday, just tell them to go teach English in Taiwan or something (I did it for a year and it was awesome, I also learned Chinese whilst I was there which eventual led me, after various trials and tribulations, to my present job working in-house in IP at an MNC). There's always another option, and the law schools aren't going anywhere - well, not most of them, anyway.

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  43. By the way this meme -- "the baby boomers will soon be retiring and that will create a shortage of [doctors/lawyers/nurses/teachers/police officers/insert profession of choice] and therefore there great opportunities for graduates in the field" -- is a very common one among empire building academics who want to expand their medical/law/nursing/teacher training/criminal justice/whatever programs. As one of my mentors used to say of shoddy legal arguments -- It sounds good if you say it fast.

    RPL

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  44. Now that we’re nearing the end of the 2012 admissions cycle, can LawProf provide any information about the experience/results at CU – number of applicants, change in acceptance percentage, size of waitlist, change (if any) in median LSAT/GPA scores? I assume this data will be public soon enough. There is much loose talk about this year being different from previous cycles. Any early read on the actual experience at CU?

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  45. Second to last paragraph pretty much sums up the law as an "intellectual" pursuit.

    Yet another reason to avoid law school, as if there weren't enough.

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  46. Addendum to my comment at 7:57: any unusual transfer experience at CU, either high-ranking students opting for higher-ranking schools or, perhaps more interestingly, low-ranking students (recognizing the added burden their relatively poor performance will have on future job hunting) calling it quits? Of course, the latter, if significant, might lead to even greater in-transfers to maintain class size.

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  47. "It sounds good if you say it fast."

    Heh heh. Nice one.

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  48. @7:57-- That would be great to know, and easy for LP to find out. CU is a good school to look at because it's a middling school (in terms of rank and all that tier business).

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  49. I cannot believe the libel I am reading about Cooley. Of course you can attend this fine law school, and get a job outside Michigan. For example as the mayor of the Mobbed up Connecticut City known as Waterbury.

    Then you can get arrest for Child rape and ensure that you will have three hots and a cot well past the age most attorneys retire. Please meet this fine example of a Cooley graduate!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Giordano

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  50. In the words of LeDuc's role model:

    Ya got trouble,
    Right here in River city,
    With a capital "T"
    And that rhymes with "P"
    And that stands for Pool.
    We've surely got trouble!
    Right here in River City!
    Remember the Maine, Plymouth Rock and the Golden Rule!


    The man ought to be run out of town on a rail (figuratively speaking, of course).


    Read more: MUSIC MAN - YA GOT TROUBLE LYRICS http://www.metrolyrics.com/ya-got-trouble-lyrics-music-man.html#ixzz20KLARNnd
    Copied from MetroLyrics.com

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  51. Don DeLuc will be spending at least a couple weeks in Europe this summer. Maybe another international trip to add on. Hard to care too much about being a bullshitter when that bullshit gets you that kind of lifestyle. You think he mows his lawn(s)? You think he cleans his home(s)? I'm surrounded by kids whose parents are lawyers and some of them I'm sure will be working for many years to supplement their special children's lifestyles. Academics or not, people don't want to give up a nice lifestyle. No matter who it hurts.

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  52. *His name should be DeLuc anyway...it sounds cleaner.

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  53. @8:12 AM

    But did he hire Cooley grads to represent him?

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  54. A question that I have is that if Cooley won't hire Cooley grads to represent them in their lawsuits against blogers, exactly who is hiring them?

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  55. No, Andrew S. Bowman, Giordano's mouthpiece and trial attorney was a UCONN Law School graduate.

    Years ago Playboy magazine had an ongoing promotion "what kind of man reads Playboy?" Not of course including Dorthy Stratton's estranged, deranged hubby.

    I want to see the promotion "What Kind Of Man attends Cooley" with Phil G, being the main example. I bet I could decrease their enrollment by a third.

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  56. "So basically a lot of lawyers in their 60s-70s cannot retire - because they would be pretty broke - social security might not be enough to cover some of the closedown costs."

    MacK,do you actually have any data on this, or is this just another example of your infinite store of knowledge. Of course you don't. If you can't point to a study that asked lawyers in their 60s and 70s why they haven't retired, can you at least talk about lawyers in their 60s and 70s that you know and have talked to about their financial situations? Maybe there is a study that asked that question and got a statistically significant number of answers. Just let us know where it is so we can see for ourselves.

    Of course many people are delaying retirement after the market crash and the unprecedentedly slow recovery that is still dragging on. But that is not lawyer-specific.

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  57. In my mid-law firm, partners in their mid-to-late 60s typically switch to an of-counsel status. They either get a smaller office or just work from home, they no longer share in the profits, and they get paid only to the extent they bring in or do billable work. We also have one 70-ish guy who is still here because he's a workaholic (and he's still sharp as a tack), and one late 60-ish guy who I know has delayed retiring because of the market.

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  58. I can't speak for lawyers in their 70s, but my wife (60s) is still practicing after nearly 40 years. She loves it, especially the opportunity to mentor young associates.

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  59. Yes - my partners and I looked at this - and we do have to carry runoff insurance or buy a policy if we retire and don't sell the firm/practice to someone who will take it on. Since we do IP our policy is very expensive and we are admitted in a few places where the indemnity insurance is mandatory.

    Yes, I have sat with a number of lawyers and discussed it - and indeed I worry myself - as I usually say, I do not want to retire because doing nothing would drive me nuts, but I want to have the option when I am old and not up to the job. For me that option is uncertain for the reasons I stated. I do better than most small/medium practice lawyers and I have trouble. Even a few large firm partners have also told me that their business and career makes it difficult for them too.

    Putting any money into a pension plan is tricky because you never know how much case reserves you need to have. Indeed, when my father was on his death bed (literally) I was scraping to find the money to pay a nasty surprise tax bill - and as a result I now hold an even more cautious allowance in my tax account.

    For me the fact that I have worked in several countries has a second issue - I have limited benefits under social security - state-pensions because my contributions have been a few years here, a few years there in different countries - but that is a situation particular to international practitioners we sometimes talk about (that and multiple tax returns.)

    Anyway, yes - when you talk to lawyers in their 50s-60s the fact that they never managed to make much pension provision will come up. I knew one lawyer who was desperate to get 16 months in any Federal Job at 68-69 because that was what he needed to qualify for a pension - he had left just short 20 years earlier.

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  60. This does not dispute the point of my original post. It's interesting that you know these people, but the people who work in your firm are not "many lawyers"-- by definition they can't be.

    Many people, not just lawyers, could not get it to together, did not want to, were unlucky with timing and the market, and came (and will come) up short retirement time. This is not a unique feature of being a lawyer. I know people who have socked away stuff by living within (actually below) their means for the long haul, and have retired right on schedule at 65. I know lawyers (and non-lawyers) who will have to be dynamited out of their offices if they don't die first, and they could afford to retire.

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  61. I know a grad doing security at a Detroit casino. And, I know of one who is folding clothes over at the Abercrombie at Somerset. Hardly a desirable result.

    There are some old ass Cooley grads workin on the doc review circuit in Troy, Royal Oak, Detroit, and Ann Arbor. They aren't retiring, they are changing careers and thought law school was a good choice. They cant retire.

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  62. "The President of Cooley Law School believes the state has reached a "tipping point" where the number of older attorneys leaving practice will exceed the number of law students entering the market. "

    And he's willing to gamble taxpayer funds on that bet!

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  63. Detroit casino

    That's the most depressing two word combination I think I have ever seen.

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  64. Cooley has several casinos operating in such far flung exotic locales as Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, and now Tampa, Florida.

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  65. @7:35

    ***"We were all always afraid to wake him up for fear that he might actually have died on the job, or by waking him up suddenly we might hasten his end."***

    Given this guy's "competence," I'm surprised there wasn't a rotating list of underlings scheduled to give him a "surprise wake-up" in the hope that it WOULD hasten his end.

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  66. @9:42 - I do not understand your point.

    1. I gave as an example the lawyers in my firm. I also noted knowing many other lawyers outside my firm who have raised the same issue. Until recently most middle class people born in say the 40s-60s had employer provided pensions that are vested by now - most small/medium form lawyers are as I pointed out, self employed.

    2. Lawyers are in a different position because their income is very volatile as compared to someone who is employed by a large company which even in the 1970s-90s had a big impact on their ability to save for a pension.

    Yes, I know a lot of people who have made pension provision including self employed, but for lawyers it is much more difficult than it is for say doctors because the business is much more volatile - and it is not like other small business (except maybe construction.) I am probably in the "dynamite me from the office" category - but I would like to know that I could retire if I wanted to. But some weeks I feel like retiring tomorrow...

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  67. You made a blanket statement about lawyers and retirement, suggesting that "many" lawyers in the US want to retire, but cannot because they are too broke. My point is that this is too blanket a statement to accept without data. You responded with anecdotes about your firm and about lawyers who work in mid to small firms. The anecdotes alone cannot support the claim, that's all. There is no point in arguing further, really.

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  68. I enjoy practicing law more than any other job I've had, but I'd still rather be sitting at home with my feet up. (I'm a lazy SOB.) I'd retire tomorrow if I could persuade my wife to live in a trailer park.

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  69. Whats with the Sans-Serif font?

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  70. Don LeDuc is full of shit. I have been in the legal profession for almost 2 decades and I can tell you that older lawyers are NOT retiring at 65. Most will work until they die. The simple fact is most lawyers cannot afford to retire as their 401Ks and pension plans were nearly wiped out by the recession. I want to see LeDuc's proof of all these older attorneys riding into the sunset and leaving job vacancies. Also, didn't LeDuc say that a law degree pays dividends over a 40 year career. What if you are a non-trad who graduated from Cooley at the age of 35? That would mean you are working into your mid 70s. not retirement age. Again, he is getting half a mil to prop up a worthless product and keep the gravy train running at full speed. LeDuc realizes the day when the train will derail is coming. They just want to keep the operation running a few more years before they walk off.

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  71. "LeDuc realizes the day when the train will derail is coming."

    And right up until the day that happens, he'll be vociferously reassuring everyone that Cooley is a great school, that you should be proud to be associated with it, and that its armies continue their victorious penetration into enemy territory on all fronts.

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  72. ^^^ "And right up until the day that happens, he'll be vociferously reassuring everyone that Cooley is a great school" (Etc.)

    Reminiscent of Kevin Bacon's character in Animal House, "Remain calm. All is well! REMAIN CALM! ALL IS WELL!".

    Except unfortunately in the good Dean's case, there probably won't be a Mongol horde of stampeding students to trample him flush into the pavement...

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  73. I think there is a good chance Cooley's remote campuses start closing next year. At those campuses, starting this past year, they have asked their professors to teach more classes and cut down on the amount of classes they offer. This has meant less electives and less required courses. Some non-tenure professors have been shown the door. In the required courses, like torts, they have reduced the amount of times it is offered in a semester from two to one to deal with falling enrollment. At this point they can't really cut classes anymore to deal with falling enrollment since you have to have at least one of the core required classes each semester. This will continue to lower the faculty to student ratio which is not cost effective. There only real way from the to cut operating cost at this point would be to shut down remote campuses. Of course they could cut salaries of professors and deans, but I think we all know that is not going to happen.

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  74. I wonder if there will be a law school that gets rid of electives. There might be something to say for selling a degree from X law school if you know exactly what classes someone took and what type of training was received from that degree.

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  75. @7:21

    Anonymous @7:21 makes excellent points with broad application. As a former attorney practicing in small to medium firms, I have seen attorneys who literally could not afford to retire. I've heard them observe or lament that they would just have to keep working until they dropped, and the poster above shows the economics of why this is the case for so many of them.

    Now consider: these old attorneys went to law school when it was affordable-- when its cost bore some reasonable proportion to its benefits. These old attorneys didn't carry a home mortgage-worth of educational debt for the first half or two-thirds of their careers, and still they could not look forward to retirement. The point is this: many (perhaps most) law students should accept that, because of student debt, even if they manage to get a job, if it is in small or midlaw they will likely have even less chance of retirement than those lawyers of the past who could not afford to stop. And what is more, as they work, because of student debt, they won't live as well as the old timers even though they will have to work as long. Unless these young JDs are absolutely certain that they are willing to lawyer until death or age-related incompetence stops them, they should not start. And if they decide that this is an attractive way to spend their lives, they should understand that it will be a long haul with a moderate income at best.

    -- Porsenna

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  76. The article with Donald LeDuck also quoted some local attorneys who pretty much refuted the dean. Here's one such nugget:


    "Brendon Beer, a [local] attorney, said older attorneys tend to stick around.

    "Lawyers don't retire," Beer said... ..."I understand that law schools like Cooley want to create the image that there is job availability because their graduates are struggling to get jobs and law school graduates struggling to find employment is bad for business. However, I would not tell potential students that the aging legal population will translate into jobs. I have seen that theory proven false. When I started as a lawyer 10 years ago, after graduating from Cooley, I made the foolish assumption that these lawyers I saw in their fifties, sixties and seventies, would be retiring."

    "Ten years later, they are in their sixties, seventies and eighties, and I work with them every day."

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  77. @Porsenna - Since a graduate on the 25 year repayment plan will not finish repaying until they are in their early 50s, at what point are they supposed to start saving for retirement?

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  78. 10:36

    You want data - here it is:

    "But on average, Boomers have not yet accumulated large 401(k) balances. For workers in their 50s, median 401(k) assets, including IRAs, are around $60,000."

    I have seen this reported elsewhere but here is the first link I found:

    http://www.advisor.com/story/are-you-thinking-about-retiring-retirement

    Of course this is not lawyer specific but I would expect lawyers to be representative.

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  79. @FOARP

    They can't, can they?

    I'm so glad I got out of the business years ago. I began reading these blogs because I thought they dealt with the unpleasant truths of practice, only to find they deal with the much more unpleasant truths of law school and not getting into practice.

    The irony, from my perspective, is that student debt is forcing young JDs to fight to get and keep jobs of the sort I was glad to leave.

    -- Porsenna

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  80. I can't understand how it is possible that, among those attorneys who obtain employment (not retail) a significant percentage are unable to save for retirement.

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  81. @10:36

    May I suggest you perform a physiological absurdity on yourself. You tried to score a point - you were wrong as numerous posters here reflect exactly what I described. Your schtick was that I have not carried out a statistical survey of lawyers to find out how many are in the situation I described. Why the **** would I want to carry out a survey - you do it - prove me wrong - otherwise there is no point in talking. That a large number lawyers have severe financial difficulty in retiring is hardly a secret - and that in a large proportion of cases those still practicing in their late 60s and 70s are in this group is also an open secret in the profession - if you disagree you go do the survey - if you are unwilling to do so, well, try that physiological absurdity.

    You sound like a prof or dean trying to talk up the profession. Of course if you are a law school dean, be careful performing the survey, lawyers' opinions of deans are pretty low.

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  82. ^^^ "May I suggest you perform a physiological absurdity on yourself. "


    You wanna he should try an' lick his elbow?

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  83. 12:26 PM--its not hard for me to understand. MacK listed a number of factors affecting those who run their own practice.

    Also for recent graduates who have 150K+ in student loans those payments take a big bite out of a paycheck. Factor in that average salaries for those who find real legal jobs is more like 40-60K (as opposed to the mythical 160K figure) and most graduates have little opportunity for advancement, and it's not hard to see how many would have no money left after essential expenses are paid. Also smaller firms often do not have retirement plans, and/or do not pay routine expenses like bar dues, CLE's etc.

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  84. 10:36 here-- Sure, MacK-- you win, whatever you say.

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  85. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  86. 12:46,
    The people we're talking about (people in their 60's) don't have those kind of student loans.
    12:26

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  87. @12.56 - And even without them many cannot retire . . .

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  88. Mac K:

    If any of the country's you worked in are in the list at the link below, you can "totalize" your social security benefits when you receive them.

    First time commenter. Government lawyer, age 56, 540k in my government 401(k), graduated from law school (a TTT) in 86 with 28k in student loan debt. Started out making 18k a year. I make considerably more now, but it was a hard slog. I couldn't even begin to think of retirement.

    And I wouldn't even think about attending a law school if I was a current undergrad (unless it was a full ride to HYS).

    http://www.ssa.gov/international/agreements_overview.html

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  89. FOARP - That's what I'm not understanding.
    12:26

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  90. When I first started as an attorney 15 years ago, there was an older partner who was 86 years old. I got to know him very well and he was still sharp (although he would repeat the same jokes and stories over and over again). I asked him why he was still working and his response was: "And do what? Go fishing? Read books? I have fished on many lakes and read more books than many will in their lifetimes. I live to work, not work to live. I don't want to wind up eating cat food because I could not afford regular food." He died at the age of 94. He worked on the same day he passed away. In 15 years in this profession, come to think of it, I have only attended retirement parties for staff, not attorneys. I would like Mr. LeDuc to show me where these older lawyers are retiring in droves.

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  91. 12:56 PM--no most of them don't but there are exceptions. There was an article online about a lady in her 60s who just graduated from a TTT and is 100K+ in debt. There are a lot of "non traditional" law students, e.g. those who enter law school in their 30s and 40s and 50s. Many of them are no more financially literate than the 20 somethings and so graduate with big student loans. Even if they don't have student loans, they may have college age kids to provide for (or kids who have to move back in with them due to no job prospects) and/or elderly parents who need financial assistance.

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  92. @12:26 - Simples. The money that would have gone on loan repayment was spent on other things like houses and children. Retire plans may well have gone south with the economy or been changed by early unemployment like my father's was.

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  93. FOARP,
    I can accept that regarding retirement plans. I thought someone was making the statement to suggest that it was harder to retire as a lawyer as compared to other careers. If it's simply to point out that not many lawyers are retiring that makes sense. My parents are in a similar situation where savings were decimated.
    12:26

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  94. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  95. Kinda weird to track IP addy's of your visitors isn't it?

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  96. ^edit - I suppose I meant analyze, not track. I can see tracking to determine unique visitors to your site.

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  97. Side note:

    Faculty Lounge knuckle sandwhich, for your reading pleasure:

    http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2012/07/census-of-law-professor-twitter-users-beta-version.html?cid=6a00e54f871a9c88330176165b67f6970c#comment-6a00e54f871a9c88330176165b67f6970c

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  98. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  99. I Love my family and all of my friends, but this student loan debt insanity is not worth living life for and I don't know how many times I have said to myself that I would rather be dead.

    PLEASE go here and read: http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/

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  100. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  101. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  102. Oh what a good shill you are!

    But don't worry, I will probably live to see hypocrites like you go down too.


    Huh?

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  103. JD PainterGuy, aka studentdebtforlife, while I feel sorry for your student loan debt misery, I have to agree with other posters that you actually end up harming the cause with your strange comments. Please stop hijacking every single scam blog I read with all of your suicidal threats. If you're going to do it, just do it already. Otherwise, buck up and find a way to start paying your loans back like the rest of us. We have to face the truth about what happened to us and find a way to move on with our lives. That is why I read all the scam blog comments - to see if other people have successfully moved on to other professions/careers after having their lives destroyed financially and emotionally - not to read how you will never pay back your $300,000 debt and have no choice but to kill yourself. Sounds to me like you never planned on paying it back, anyway, so why are you going to kill yourself? It irritates me that you do not make any efforts to pay on your loans. I did what I had to these past 10 years to get out of student loan debt hell - why can't you?

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  104. What is incredible is the amount of misinformation about career prospects is being broadcast. I am a baby boomer who chose law school and deeply regret my choice. In my undergraduate school, many people chose law school and almost none chose dental school. Being a dentist today offers much better career prospects than being a lawyer. It is too bad, when people make choices they are stuck with their whole lives based on incorrect information. I partly fault the Obama administration for this travesty. The legal profession was not that overcrowded when I joined. What has happened to it since has made it very difficult for me and my contemporaries to earn a living. Out successors mostly made their career choices based on misinformation. If you are a graduate of HYP with honors, as I was and many of my college classmates were, you would not chose to go to law school, at least not with the numbers who made this choice, knowing the current legal employment statistics, which for my age group and HYP college grads are awful.

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  105. FOARP,

    Can you tell us more about how you got your job in Poland?

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  106. How is this the Obama administration's fault 2:18? (and for the record, I'm not a democrat or republican)

    Seems to me the legal profession was oversaturated when Bush was in office and that tuition was on the rise back then, too. The legal profession also took a nose dive after 9/11/2001 but nobody remembers that. Everyone acts like this all just happened in 2008. HA! The legal profession has been weak since 2001, 2002, 2003. It was only after the big law attorneys started losing their jobs and when the tier one students started graduating without jobs, people started caring. You can blame many things on the Obama administration, but this isn't one of them.

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  107. The legal profession was overcrowded in 2001, but has gotten immensely worse in the last few years to the point where there are many blogs written about unemployed law graduates. It has been time for several years to require complete disclosure of employment outcomes, going farther out than 9 months, to stop federal guarantees of upfront nondischargeable loans to all graduates who want the education and of producing more than twice as many law graduates are there are law jobs. During the Bush administration, the legal profession had not reached a crisis point in the public eye. Now it has and the White House needs to take immediate and decisive action to remedy the ills of the legal profession. Spitting out this many law grads into a profession that must have something like 70% unemployment or underemployment among it's grads, with the percentage increasing for each year from law school graduation, is a fraudulent enterprise.

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  108. What can the White House do about it?

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  109. If any kid decides to destroy his finances and reputation by enrolling in this malignant tumor on the legal profession, family and friends should immediately gather for an "intervention"--with a lot of straight-talk, expressions of anger and hurt, and declarations of "I love you, please stop!" They should tell the delusional and self-destructive kid: "Please don't Cooley yourself--consider, if you must, alcoholism or drug addiction as a lesser evil."

    dybbuk

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  110. The problem is, many times the family members need an intervention just as much as the kid.

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  111. @2.24 - Basically I had some experience they needed (patent prosecution and searching from my work in China and Japan), languages that might be useful to them (Chinese) and was willing to learn, move and happy to be in a job that required long-distance travel at least once a month (although I'm not in MacK's league). I can't advise anyone to follow my path because I'll admit that I was exceedingly lucky that things turned out as they did and they could have been much worse. More to the point, I have no idea whether it's still possible to do the things I did, and living overseas is not for everyone or even for most people.

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  112. 2:16PM

    Much as I agree that JDPainter is often counter productive - please do not make suggestions that someone "just do it already." Law school debt has sowed fields of misery - including I have no doubt suicides as well as suicidal depression. Please don't encourage that sort of thinking in any way. As long as someone is talking about suicide they are hopefully not doing it, and that is the way things should stay.

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  113. I've seen Nelson Miller make this same argument. It's been a Cooley Kool-Aid Talking Point for quite some time now.

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  114. FOARP, did you find out about the job opening online?

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  115. Easy for the White House to require full disclosure of employment outcomes going far out of law school. Easy to put the schools on the hook for the debt if their grads do not find work. Surely possible to limit the number of people who can get loans to the number of available jobs. All of the above should take into account unemployment rates among those already in the profession. In short, the White House could propose a comprehensive program to address the oversupply of lawyers. The legal profession is probably quite unique in terms of high cost, the immense oversupply of lawyers and the lack of truthfulness of the law schools about outcomes. Almost 30% of the graduates of HYP apply to law school. How many would apply if they thought the likely result of being a lawyer was a poor employment outcome?

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  116. "Easy for the White House to require full disclosure of employment outcomes going far out of law school. Easy to put the schools on the hook for the debt if their grads do not find work."

    Easy how? The President just picks up his pen and makes some laws?

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  117. In the last couple of years, including 2012, the fed govt has offered buyouts to encourage senior SEC employees to retire.

    But why retire from a fed govt job as a senior SEC attorney? Of course, federal employee salaries are now frozen and BigLaw pays much better but the SEC is not on the GS scale: $175k base salary with ten paid holidays, 13 paid sick days, and 20 vacation days. The work is rarely boring and often fascinating with lots of independence. 40 hour work weeks are the norm with flexible scheduling that permits a four-day, ten hours a day work week. (Every weekend is a three day weekend! Although, truth be told, few staff attorneys work the 4x10 week.)

    Excellent med insurance, commuting costs are subsidized and it's ok to telework 1-3 days per week. $10k/yr of student loans are paid for by the feds (up to $60k max). The TSP match is 5% and the pension benefit is excellent but likely to be cut back.

    Bargaining unit employees (which include SEC staff attorneys) have excellent job security based on seniority. Even the 2008 economy didn't result in any SEC layoffs, we just stopped hiring. After Dodd-Frank passed we restarted hiring and replacing retirees. As you would expect in the current market, the competition for these openings is HYSTERICALLY COMPETITIVE.

    Many of my colleagues are eligible for retirement but most figure it's just too sweet a gig to surrender. And I have to agree with them.

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  118. @3.19 - Yes, I think it was on an automatic aggregator site like CareerJet.

    Some advice if you are thinking of looking for work overseas:

    1) The longer you spend overseas, the less likely it is that you will ever be able to find decent work back home - HR staff see former expats as a flight risk, experience gained overseas is almost never as highly valued as experience gained at home, living abroad marks you as unorthodox and possibly eccentric, time spent overseas is often used as a way of hiding a criminal sentence etc. etc. etc. The main exception to this is your fellow former expats.

    2) You may well have to take a job for which your main qualification is the fact that you can speak English, but there is no shame in doing so and then trying to parley that into something better.

    3) You absolutely must be prepared to throw yourself into living in the country you are going to - learn the language and all that - otherwise it won't work.

    4) This should go without saying, but do your due diligence on your employers and listen to what former employees say before going. Always book a return flight with a carrier which allows rescheduling of the return flight so if things don't work out, you can just fly back.

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  119. SEC sounds great. $175 is a good salary for DC. Seems like this profession is divided into haves, who got the jobs like the SEC job and were able to stay long-term, and not-haves who went to BigLaw or in house and had to retire long before retirement age.

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  120. JD Painter,

    Why not get paid in cash or go to another country and be a lawyer or anything else?

    Maybe loan bk will be here when you decide to come back

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  121. My brother worked for the SEC right out of a regional T2 law school in the 80's. Good grades but not law review or anything. He liked the work but left after a few years for a big money investment banking job. He's the first to admit that someone with similar qualifications today would have zero chance of landing that job. The opportunities just aren't there anymore unless you have outstanding credentials which, by defenition, the vast majority of law grads lack.

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  122. How much, if anything, is vets pref worth for SEC jobs? I know it's supposed to give you 5 points but law jobs don't use the same points system that other jobs do.

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  123. That stuff about the SEC isn't all true. They just posted a job at their GS-14 equivalent level in DC, and the TOP of that grade is 175k. You're not going to make that until you've got at least 10 years of practice, probably more, under your belt. But yeah, that is still a lot more than GS attorneys make (I should know, I'm one). I would say that's a "great salary" for all places, not just DC!

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  124. GS salaries are still pretty good for the benefits and quality of life you get.

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  125. I am a lawyer in my mid fifties, and MacK laid it out perfectly. I know a lot of lawyers in Small Law ( that's primarily what we have in Chattanooga) and I know no one in my generation that feels like he or she will be able to retire. Between paying for a private school education for our kids (which in some parts of the country, the lousy public schools makes this non-optional), feeding the "overhead monster, then paying college tuition for our kids, what little money we managed to put in 401k accounts nearly was wiped out in 2008. To the poster that just can't believe baby boom lawyers can't save for retirement, are you impaired in some way? Are you a law school professor? Do you live in a bubble? Take your blinders off; meet some real, practicing, non- Biglaw lawyers. You might be surprised at what you learn. At least you will no longer sound imbecilic.

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  126. "Seems to me the legal profession was oversaturated when Bush was in office and that tuition was on the rise back then, too. The legal profession also took a nose dive after 9/11/2001 but nobody remembers that. Everyone acts like this all just happened in 2008. HA! The legal profession has been weak since 2001, 2002, 2003."

    The legal profession has been oversaturated further back than that, albeit not on as broad of a scale as today. It goes back at least as far back as the recession of the early '90s, probably even longer. I would be surprised if the percentage of law grads getting real, full-time, permanent legal jobs has ever been any higher than 60-70% anytime in the last 20 years.

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  127. Much as I agree that JDPainter is often counter productive - please do not make suggestions that someone "just do it already."

    I completely understand why underemployed/unemployed law grads are suicidal, and I did not mean to be harsh, especially to someone as mentally fragile as JDPainter. It's just I have been reading these blogs for quite a while, and JDPainter has been threatening to kill himself for many, many years on any scam blog that pops up. I think it's his way of asking for help. I truly wish he would get the help he needs. However, dominating/hijacking the comment section of every scam blog with his threats of suicide does not add to or faciliate serious discussion.

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  128. TDennis,
    No I'm not a lawprof and I've lived quite happily on $50K per year. I'll concede the point regarding the 401(k) but that's something everyone is dealing with, not just lawyers. Also, most people don't pay for their kids to go to private school. You made a choice and that's fine but don't use that as the basis for your complaint that you can't retire.

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  129. 4:55pm is correct of course - the new hires don't arrive at the top of the SEC's grade 14 grid. But a typical new hire doesn't start at the bottom either. For one with 3-5 years of BigLaw securities experience, $135K is a good guess with a 6% increase after one year and then you start to climb up the grid. [Note that no one can climb at all while salaries are frozen.] Separately, experienced litigators hire in at grade 16 with a starting salary of roughly $180K.

    I should add that some attorneys are hired without experience at lower grades but there seems to be less of that going on now with so much experienced talent available.

    The real winners are the accountants who operate on the exact same pay scale as the attorneys but didn't have to spend three years and a ton of cash on a law degree! And the vast majority of SEC accountants aren't even CPAs or CFAs.

    Finally, for the curious, salaries of many fed employees (including the SEC) are public record and can be reviewed at this database:

    http://php.app.com/fed_employees11/search.php

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  130. SEC is another useless, spineless organization. Not one mofo has been arrested for any of the financial shit that went down in 05 thru 08. You might as well join the law school scammers.

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  131. The SEC only pursues civil actions as it has no criminal authority.

    But thanks very much for your thoughtful and revealing comment.

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  132. 6:36 I couldn't agree more. Just look at the SEC POS that married to Madoff's niece. Need I say more...

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  133. Yes, the SEC is useless because someone who used to work there married the niece of someone who went to jail. Perfect logic.

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  134. @5:42PM

    $50k would not cover our indemnity policy for even a year - and we have never had a claim.

    MacK

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  135. What's your point MacK? My salary factors in the overhead that my organization has to pay to keep me. Your indemnity policy comes out of your revenue, not your net.

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  136. foarp, thanks for the tip. I would definitely be interested in working in Europe.

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  137. "The time has come," the walrus said,
    "To talk of other things
    Of shoes and ships and sealing wax
    Of cabagges and kings
    And while the see is boiling hot
    And wheather pigs have wings
    Kaloo Kalay no work today
    We're cabbages and kings"

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  138. @5:24PM

    You have lived quite happily on $50k a year ... And if I had a $50k cumulative pension I'd live quite happily too - so how much do I need to be sure of $50k a year in pension? Say you are 50 and you have a life expectancy of 85

    Assume that you make contributions erratically like most lawyers

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  139. It's late, maybe I'm missing something but retirement is at 66...why are you mentioning 50 years old?

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  140. @5:24

    Your comment at 7:28 shows a certain failure to get the point. For a small law lawyer there is no organisation paying the indemnity policy, the rent, the overhead - you pay it first, then if there is anything left you get to pay yourself. Your fail to understand the basic distinction between being a self employed partner and an employee - your firm can bring in many times $50k and there still can be nothing left after all the bills are paid. What a small law lawyer pays on the indemnity comes effectively straight out of their own pocket - its money they cannot pay themselves.

    By the way one of the issues with so many solos setting up with no experience is that is forcing up the cost of professional indemnity policies.


    MacK

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  141. I get it, MacK. My point is that when people say lawyers in small firms make $50K that implies that figure is the bottom line profit amount before taxes. If the reality is that small firms are making $50K in revenue (you know, excluding expenses) then that's a different story.

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  142. @8.49 - Since the rule of thumb is that you should bill 3.5 times your salary to be worth your pay, I doubt there are that many people making 50K in revenue long-term.

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  143. @5:24 and 8:01

    You still don't get it - probably because you are working for someone who pays you a salary - a salary which inter alia you are paid before there is any profit - what a small firm lawyer's "draw" comes out of.

    The income of any partners in a small/medium (or even large) firm is volatile. So suppose to take you example that partner needs a minimum $50k per year to live on - that is to pay their mortgage, personal food, light, health insurance, school tuitions, law school loans and the firm takes $75k to run. In year 1 the partner makes $35k net - gets $15k behind (some sort of debt, say credit cards), in year 2 that partner makes $70k, gets $3k ahead after paying off debt with interest, in year 3 makes $125k ... the problem is that lawyer now needs to do two things - take $50 to live on, leave $50k in the practice as a reserve (to cover any downturn) and put $25k in an easy access savings account - because in year 3 lawyer added a secretary/assistant and renewed the lease on the office and leased a new car. Year 4 is a bust, one client is acquired by another company which already has counsel, another goes bust, and he/she took a case on contingency and 2 clients have big unpaid bills but look bankrupt - office makes a loss of $35k covered out of reserves, lawyer makes 0, uses up $28 in reserves, back in debt.... and then finds out that lawyer made too little provision for tax in year 3 - shit!

    And so it goes, the occasional "big year" covering subsequent small following years and paying some of last year's taxes out of the following year's income (if you are self-employed you need to set the tax money aside, but can be tough when tax is not due for 6+ months and you have a must pay bill right now.) For me, in private practice it took several big years in a row before I was able to have any pension savings and be comfortably and reliably "ahead" in my tax account - and I still worry about the money put into the pension fund - because I may need it, who knows.

    That is the reality for almost every private practitioner who gets past associate - no stable income, had to save any significant money. Of course law school deans are suggesting that kids with no experience and $100+ in debt can simply hang a shingle and experience that reality straight away. It is ludicrous. Anyone setting up in legal practice needs to have enough money to run that practice and live on for probably 2-3 years unless they have a good client or two already in hand - somehow I don't see a person who had to go into debt to go to law school being in that position on graduation.

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  144. my family has many small business owners, including my father. Mack is dead on. Income is volitile, expenses are constant. Without the financial discipline to put a large percentage of gross income away for tough times, a business won't survive long. Especially one with employees.

    It is hilarious to see a law school dean, with money coming every week staight from the federal loan teat, and golden parachutes, to advise youngsters to open a small business. Let them eat cake indeed.

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  145. 3:17.

    Thomas Kool-Aid School of Law. LOL. I like the nickname.

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  146. The small business discussion here should be mandatory reading for 0Ls who think they might open their own practice some day and get rich.

    My old man was in small business in a field where he had a virtual monopoly and constant business. He's done incredibly well, but the lack of stability was eye-opening and the fact that he was constantly having to personally guaranty his credit line even in good times was telling about the environment with bankers and recurring expenses.

    Small business is death by a thousand cuts where you are constantly relying on a new shipment of bandaids to show up and the postman and the bandage company are erratic.

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  147. If you try going in house you can be successful from a bottom law school. All that matters in house is your ability to fit in. The law school has little meaning.

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  148. FOARP:
    "Most of the late-60's and 70-year-olds you see working at the moment are the same. It's not that they want to keep working, its just that because of bad investments or simply bad luck, they don't have the money to retire. Even with their age and seniority, they still have the advantage of experience and usually already being in-place, so there's no way a fresh grad can compete with them."

    H*ll, how many people that old who are still working want to be? Even with decent jobs they'd rather be retired.

    You think that some 70-year old person wants to be getting up at 6 AM to put in a full day at some job?

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