Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Smokescreen

Anders Walker, an Associate Dean at the Saint Louis University School of Law, has posted a scathing--and somewhat personal--indictment of Brian Tamanaha's book, Failing Law Schools.  Tamanaha has already responded to the personal element of Walker's attack, and Walker has fired back.  (Hat tip to TaxProf on all three posts)

Here, I want to focus on a different element of Walker's posts: The way he uses scholarship as a smokescreen to avoid talking directly about the problem of law school tuition.  During the course of his attack, Walker admits that Tamanaha "makes a convincing case that legal education is 'failing society.'"  He also agrees that "few can deny that US News has distorted incentives, that tuition has grown too fast, and that the ABA has inhibited market innovation."  Walker even concedes that Tamanaha's "data" on the relationship between tuition and faculty salaries "is hard to refute." And he acknowledges that "faculty salaries constitute the primary expense at law schools, and a direct obstacle to lowering tuition."

Huh? If Walker agrees with all of that, what's his beef with Tamanaha?  He, like many of the professors who share the online name "anon," wants to deflect discussion of the financial disaster besieging our graduates; instead, Walker wants a referendum on scholarship and interdisciplinary courses. True, one of Tamanaha's suggested reforms is that law schools might opt to differentiate, with some focusing on teaching rather than scholarship. But even that proposal rests on institutional choice and market forces, not on tyranny.  And Tamanaha makes many other proposals that would also address the financial crisis law schools have perpetuated among their graduates--and are now starting to confront themselves.

Tamanaha's book is about that crisis, and about the need for legal academics to take responsibility for their actions.  We have been raising tuition far, far faster than the rate of inflation--faster even than tuition in most other parts of higher education.  Doing that, especially after the job market tanked for lawyers, has put tens of thousands of new lawyers--our former students and new professional colleagues--in a debt crater they are unlikely ever to escape.

It is now four years since the economic collapse of 2008.  Every year since then, law schools have said that the job outlook would brighten--and it has gotten worse.  Every year, fewer students have gotten jobs, the jobs have gotten more contingent, and the salaries have fallen.  The median reported salary among 2011 law graduates was lower than the median reported salary for 2006 law graduates:  $60,000 in 2011 compared to $62,000 in 2006.  And that's before accounting for inflation:  A salary of $62,000 in 2006 is equivalent to one of $69,178 in 2011.  With just $60,000 on their pay stubs, today's graduates are far behind those of 2006--if they found jobs or reported their salaries at all.

Every year, in the face of these depressing numbers, we have continued to raise tuition.

At Saint Louis, where Dean Walker teaches, 83.5% of the school's 2011 graduates borrowed to finance their law school education.  The average amount borrowed was $120,000.  With accrued interest, that average debt (for law school alone) was $131,000 on graduation day.  Using a standard, ten-year repayment plan, those graduates will pay more than $1,500 per month.  That's more than $18,000 per year--most of it after taxes.  Where are graduates working in firms of 2-10 lawyers, public defender offices, and other government offices going to get that kind of money?  Not to mention the 6.98% of the class that was still unemployed and seeking work nine months after graduation--three months after their loan repayments started?

St. Louis's statistics aren't unusual; they're better than some and worse than others.  The financial morass for recent law school graduates spreads far and deep.

This has nothing to do with scholarship; that's a smokescreen to avoid inconvenient truths about tuition, jobs, and debt.  We don't need to save legal history or rescue legal scholarship.  I learned from great legal scholars in the 1970s, and my school offered several legal history electives, all at a fraction of today's tuition costs.  I'm confident we can cut tuition while preserving plenty of scholarship and interdisciplinary courses; surely we're as talented, frugal, and hard working as professors of earlier generations.  We can also have long, interesting discussions with practitioners about the relative proportions of doctrinal, interdisciplinary, and practice-oriented courses we should offer students.

But first we have to confront the economic crisis saddling our graduates:  Ignoring that crisis has been irresponsible.  We have already graduated years of students with too much debt and too few job prospects.  Save our students first; then we can worry about legal history.



105 comments:

  1. Does Walker blog from 1994?

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  2. Oh, and they actually post as "Anon." I've actually used the name "Anonymous" over there, and I do not agree with anything this/these Anon(s) have to say.

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  3. Good point, 7:48--I've fixed that. I do wish tenured professors (some of them must have tenure) would be willing to stand publicly behind their words.

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  4. Not too long ago I had a discussion with a former adjunct professor at my 4th Tier California law school from which I graduated in 2009. Between now and 2009 I went through the standard metamorphosis from starry-eyed law grad to stark debt realist.

    The Professor, while talking about one of the school's new programs for graduates (in which I happen to be a participant), mentioned in passing that the school now, as always, has and will continue to be operated for the benefit of the students.

    In my mind when he said that I knew that the school was being operated for the benefit of the tenured law faculty. How else do you explain the rampant tuition increases in the face of the bleak job prospects? I wish I had had the courage to openly challenge him on that point but I was too timid. The professor is a nice person, but genuinely clueless as to the reality of what is going on.

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  5. They would stand publicly behind their words if any of them actually believed what they're saying.

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  6. "They're not showing up in the unemployment data."

    Is it possible that a law professor could be so ignorant as to believe that statement they just made is true?

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  7. Possible but not likely. He does this frequently, interchanging the terms "law grad" and "lawyer" depending on the data he's citing to, without any acknowledgment of the fact that half of all law grads don't become attorneys. This is repeatedly pointed out to him, but he just disappears and shows up on another thread the next day spouting the same crap.

    It's frustrating because while Taxprof is excellent at monitoring and posting stories about the law school scam, he doesn't actively argue the topic (not yet, anyway). And Anon's drivel is the kind of bullshit that naive 0Ls happily buy in to.

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  8. what does brian's book have that we dont already know from reading this blog?

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  9. Lots more information about schools Proposals for reform.

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  10. I'm sorry, but, while I applaud and support your efforts, at the end of the day the reality with everything in our country is that it's everyman for himself and I've got mine and if you try to get yours I'm going to do everything I can to stand in the way and stop you.

    I hate to give in to cynicism, but what's the point? This distorted, disgusting system called 'legal education' will continued unabated as long as people are too stupid to see that lining up and spending their future earnings amounts to a financial death sentence.

    Nothing will change. The faculty members don't care, the students don't care and the administration sure as hell doesn't care. The only thing that matters is that this potemkin village continues and that the faculty members and administrators continue to feed at the trough of the endless stream of tax-payer backed student loans.

    This country is now a place where, if you're not born into privilege, you're pretty much fucked. There is no longer any way to climb the social and economic ladder through hard work and intelligence. The routes to those goals are now nothing but a means to line the pockets of these venal hyenas in the education complex and the banks who are slowly but surely bleeding the current generation dry.

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    1. Wow, great post. You sure tell it as it is.

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    2. Why do you want to advocate that people give up? Already applications are dropping, schools are scrambling to get students to attend.
      We've just started . This is the time for renewed effort, not time to give up.

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  11. Just because he does not address the issue you are addressing does not mean that Prof. Walker intends to put up a smokescreen. I got the impression that he is seriously worried about Tamanaha's idea of creating formal tiers of schools-- low brow "shop class" law schools and high brow intellectually-oriented (not precise, I know) law schools, while perhaps insinuating his own school, Wash. U, into the latter category.

    There's also BT's criticism of the trend of law professor with PhD.s while praising the young profs at SLU, most of whom are JD/PhDs.

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  12. ^Give me a break! None of this matters. It's nothing but a lot of mental masturbation. There is no reason for a school like SLU to exist. It serves no one but the faculty and administration who are making out like bandits on tax-payer backed student loans.

    Does anyone really believe that this guy Anders Walker can do anything in the real world that has any value adding element? The guy was nothing but a professional student his whole life who has now become a professional windbag. It's all bullshit.

    There is no reason for all of these schools to exist. At most, we need the private schools in the top 10 and one state school in each state to deal with the real demand in the legal profession.

    This endless back and forth and debating about what methodological tool will solve the problem is nothing but endless omphaloskepsis.

    The effor of these ridiculous "academics" arguing over how law school pedagogy should be changed is nothing but one big circle jerk.

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  13. Only 10 private law schools and one in each state. How is that less pointless as a strategy than arguing about pedagogy? That is never going to happen. So that argument does not matter either.

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  14. Glad I graduated 12 years ago. The current crop...oh well life sux.

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  15. "Anders Walker, an Associate Dean at the Saint Louis University School of Law, has posted a scathing--and somewhat personal--indictment of Brian Tamanaha's book"


    Responding for the moment only to the characterization as a "scathing indictment of the book"....

    While Walker's "how convenient" comment was I think off base (no indication in BT's book that he splits school types to benefit his own position), the rest of what Walker wrote isn't bad. He seems for the most part to agree with BT's findings in the book. And the "soon they'll be lunching" didn't seem to be more than part self-directed sarcasm (to go along with the earlier "Oh Shit" comment)>

    His (Walker's) recipe for change is, of course, pretty milquetoast weak.

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  16. 8:42: The book has a price tag. $15.21 at Amazon.

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    1. I recall that all profits from this book are going to charity. Just in case you didn't know that.

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    2. The author's perhaps, but Amazon's too?

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  17. "He, like many of the professors who share the online name "anon," " [at TaxProf blog]


    Actually the head jerkwad over there always comments with "Anon" (capital "A"). And s/he always posts the same talking points over and over.

    DJM gave him/her what fer, in a couple of replies, including but not limited to gently pointing out how childish s/he seemed in some regards.

    I have some questions about this "Anon"'s oft-repeated claims, though.


    1. S/he always claims that because law school loan defaults are lower than regular/average college defaults, then this must be proof that law grads are doing fine financially.
    - I found (and downloaded) the loan default info online pretty easily, but it's default info for ALL SCHOOLS. Like thousands and thousands of schools (over 5500). Does anyone know if it is possible to get loan default info by type of degree? I’ve dug around a fair bit, but can't seem to find it.
    - The reason I want the above (parsed by degree type), is to show that Anon should not be comparing LS defaults with the average of all defaults. Included in the average are defaults from an amazing number of “colleges” with names like Thelma Louise's Tanning And Nailology Skool. To my way of thinking, the only degree programs one should compare with LS default rates are those of (e.g.) other professionals such as pharmacy and optometry and the like. That is, people who do a 4 year UG followed by a professional degree that permits them to go straight to work (and unlike MD's who usually do years of residency - not sure if that's relevant).

    2. S/he always claims BLS data show lawyers at less than 2% unemployment and salaries $50K average greater than non-lawyers. Does anyone understand why the BLS data is so very different from NALP data? Even adding in all the “non-law” jobs, NALP and BLS are too far apart to be a rounding error. (In case anyone wonders, I think NALP data is right and BLS wrong, but don’t know why.)

    Thanks any with insights.

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  18. The faculty at St. Louis Law is throwing a truly disgraceful hissy fit over the potential loss of their precious summer stipends and over the fact that a (gasp!) practitioner with (double gasp!) Tamahana-inspired ideas is now the interim dean.

    I hope the interim dean doesn't try to reconcile with the "anons," or Anders Walker, or Marcia McCormick, or fret if they threaten to take their enormous talents elsewhere. The first order of business: reduce tuition. The second: a professional education that trains students to practice law in a few practice areas of their choice. In third place comes faculty scholarship, but what should be encouraged and supported is scholarship that actually provides guidance to the profession, not stuff that is more suited to a department of philosophy. In last and least place: tending to the wounded egos of the faculty.

    dybbuk

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  19. One little point - when I was in law school and graduating $60k was (not adjusting for inflation) the market rate for a T14 graduate according to the Career Services people. Current earnings have regressed 20 years - has tuition?

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  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  21. @7:57

    A senior diplomat I knew as a teenager, for various reasons, had to deal with a selection of "blood-stained tyrants" - when I (much younger) objected to this activity (I used the term "shaking the blood-stained tyrants paw"), his explanation was that when lives were at stake he'd shake anyone's hand and if one was fastidious hand washing afterwards was always an option.

    In any event, one of the things he mentioned was how the most awful people, when you knew the facts, were in person often charming and avuncular, and think they are actually good. I am not saying that your professor is a truly awful person, but that he would be pleasant while fleecing you .... Most con men I have me are also pleasant company, but check for you wallet afterwards

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  22. Schools like St Louis are not going to be put out of business any time soon. In the name of equal opportunity, they will be around forever. They will be pumping out grads only a small percentage of whom will be able to work as lawyers and charging hundreds of thousands in tuition. After all, that provides equal opportunity for everyone who wants to be a lawyer, and the legal profession should be open to everyone. Cost does not matter. Equal opportunity is paramount, and we have it now.

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  23. Hey Paul, this was an(other) unnecessary post.

    Tam can defend himself, and did. If you want to jump in, why not just do it over there where the actual argument was going on?

    How about you start preparing for classes?

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  24. He may be doing that. This was a DJM post.

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  25. @3:34 a.m.:

    I'd love to hear how a Real Law Professor prepares for fall classes, especially the 1L series.

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  26. all that nonsense about scholarship is just more rationalization from those who benefit from the law school scam.

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  27. "Not to mention the 6.98% of the class that was still unemployed and seeking work nine months after graduation--three months after their loan repayments started?"

    That figure seems awfully low.

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  28. DJM - You wrote: Not to mention the 6.98% of the class that was still unemployed and seeking work nine months after graduation--"

    Only 6.98% unemployment? Are you saying STU grads have a 93.02% employment rate??

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  29. That's the school's self-reported number (to which DJM links).

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  30. The actual unemployment rate (meaning complete unemployment, so somebody working ten hours a week at Starbucks isn't included) for the class was 13.6%. DJM is bending over backwards to be more than fair, and not counting the 18 people in the class who rather mysteriously ended up being listed as unemployed not seeking.

    I guess they went to law school for sheer edification.

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  31. Exactly right LP. The pedagogical discussions are cute and in some ways even important, but the crisis is financial. Bankruptcy discharge for student loan debt and the accompanying withdrawal of federally guaranteed loans from the vast majority of the market will do the trick. Until that happens all discussions of reforming "legal education" is pointless.

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  32. Last night an individual from the scamblog movement went crazy on the blog: http://gotolawschool.blogspot.com

    Although there is no proof, the "writing style" resembled a certain "painter". In fact, the fiasco went over a multitude of hours, ending at around 5:00 AM.

    Such outrages do nothing to help this movement. Such outrages only prove that the title of the post, "social midgets" is apt.

    Think before you act.

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  33. I guess they went to law school for sheer edification.

    Maybe they're some of those independently wealthy trust-fund babies I keep hearing about.

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  34. I Went To Law School To Get My Mrs.JD DegreeAugust 22, 2012 at 7:49 AM

    "I guess they went to law school for sheer edification."

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  35. Don't provide ad revenues to 7:00 a.m.'s websiteAugust 22, 2012 at 7:56 AM

    7:00 "Last night an individual from the scamblog movement went crazy on the blog: http://goto....."(yada yada)

    My guess is that 7:00 commenter is Mr. Infinity incognito, hoping to drive traffic to its (ad-bearing) blogsite.

    Since you've all seen JDP meltdown here, why bother going to see the meltdown there, increasing Mr. Infinity's ad revenue?

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  36. Great column DJM, except you left out one other inconvenient truth, the most inconvenient truth of all: roughly half of US law schools have no economic reason to exist in the first place and therefore should close immediately, notwithstanding any efforts they may make to differentiate themselves.

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  37. Anders Walker has a fairly impressive set of publications and degrees to his credit. He may even be a good and productive scholar of legal history (I have no idea). But here's the thing: He clerked on a federal district court for one year and spent a couple of summers as an intern--that is the sum total of his "legal experience." Taking his class might be a worthwhile experience for aspiring attorneys (I had a great legal history class in law school that actually helped me to a deeper understanding of why some legal institutions exist in their present forms). We could even assume for the sake of argument that someone like Walker belongs on a law school faculty, rather than, say, in the history department teaching a class cross-listed with the law school's offerings. But it seems abundantly clear that a school training folks who seek to be licensed by the state to practice as attorneys should not be populated substantially (much less primarily) by "interdisciplinary scholars" who don't know anything about the actual practice of the profession. Would we let medical historians handle 80+% of the training of physicians? If I know the history of plumbing, can I train someone as a plumber?

    All of this is painfully obvious to anyone not in the legal academy. Yet law professors keep acting as if the idea of actual lawyers teaching law is somehow radical. They seem so out of touch that it's almost shocking, even after I've read it so many times.

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  38. Isn't the more fundamental question beyond cost that there simply aren't enough legal jobs out there?

    You could reduce costs, including professor salaries, but at the end of the day it's a waste of resources to train people for jobs that aren't there.

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  39. Why is St. Louis SOL always on this and other scamblogs? It's almost tied with Cooley in that regard.

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  40. Tamanaha is a master of the red herring. Rather than focus on the crime of fraud, he tries to excuse the law school scam by adding other topics to the discussion and thus confusing the issue.

    On the topic of numbers, he himself often presents distorted numbers under the guise of criticizing law schools. I recall him once showing graphs purporting to claim a 75% good job employment rate for all law grads, which he described as troublesomely low. The problem is that the real rate is no where near 75% and he was presenting distorted numbers. He always does that, and his numbers always "coincidentally" make law school seem like a better deal than it really is.

    His whole strategy seems to be to act as some sort of benedict arnold - pretending to criticize law school when in reality - the substance of his message makes law school seem much more sympathetic than it is.

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  41. Hey Anders Walker, if you want to explore legal history then go ahead. Write about it to your heart's desire. Talk about it. Make speeches on it. Go nuts.

    But don't fund the above by scamming poor kids with lies about how they will get good jobs if they pay you a fortune, of borrowed money.

    That is all.

    THAT IS FUCKING ALL.

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  42. It might not be a smokescreen, but more of an automated response to any criticism based on past experience. They've been having the scholarship vs. practical argument for decades now, through good economies and bad. It's obviously been a winning argument, since there are more "law and disciplines" and academic hiring has gotten more and more dismissive of actual legal practice experience to the point where they are even choosing Ph.d/JDs over the K-JD-COA clerk folks.

    But the hard truth is that if students really valued scholarship as much as these professors think (based on student evaluations, because we all know everyone filled those out with TLC and not in a mad rush to get out of class!) then we wouldn't be seeing such large drops in enrollment at a time when enrollment should be increasing or stable. That's because students really value the jobs. If the jobs aren't there, or the debt is too high it really doesn't matter what or how students are taught. They are not going to keep showing up.

    IMO, Tamahana's discussion of legal pedagogy and scholarship is from a hypothetical perspective of what a law school running on tuition of 10K/year with 3/4 or 1/2 of the current student body will have to look like. It's a relatively simple distinction all the HYS > federal clerkship > 2 years at V10 crowd still doesn't seem to get. He is not arguing that scholarship is inherently worthless- just that schools can no longer hope to behave like Harvard and still maintain Harvard levels of tuition/enrollment without Harvard job statistics. Something's gotta give.

    TLDR; the argument is about scholarship only to the extent that the focus on scholarship will have to change in order to accommodate lower enrollment and tuition of around 10-15K per year at most schools. If a faculty member could put forth a proposal to accomplish both I'd love to hear it.

    That the professor seems to think this is an attack by an "elite" WUSTL faculty member on his low-rent school SLU just shows he is not thinking about the students but about his own reputation first and foremost. From what I understand, WUSTL suffers from many of the same problems as SLU despite it's higher USNWR ranking. A lot of 200K grads with no or low-paying jobs.

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  43. Updated Walker's response to Tamahana's response:

    "Tamanaha has written an incendiary book that WILL be read by university presidents, trustees, and others eager to cut cost, strip faculty resources, and stick it to law professors. Even if Tamanaha doesn't want to lunch with these people, it doesn't matter. He will be the topic of conversation."

    These are his concerns...can you believe it? I'm startled, absolutely startled, that the Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development at Saint Louis University Law School does not continually cite student outcomes as the most important topic for conversation. Instead he seems to be more concerned that perhaps he will indeed have to mow his own lawn, wash his own car, go on only two vacations next summer, spend more than 30 hours at the school this week, only purchase less than 10k in books for the faculty that are considered personal favors for these geeks, buy only one suit this fall, pay for a glass instead of a bottle of wine in front of his private sector fellow professionals.

    People get older and try to mask what are indeed pre-teen selfish concerns for all-grown-up sophisticated philosophical arguments. Did you click on the link for his faculty page? It makes a middle class person reach for the TUMS.

    I agree with the commenter that pushes for cynicism. It is an animal world out there and our best hope is an animal like the interim dean sticks it to these faculty as Anders fears, most likely not out of true concern for student debt, but instead due to his hatred for snot-nosed brats like Anders Walker.

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  44. Law profs seem to have the idea that teaching law should mean one of two things: that law is to be taught as a humanity or as a way to inculcate clear thinking. If they're right (as they believe), then they can charge whatever they want and disregard the effect of their actions on their students. But they're wrong for any number of reasons.

    First, humanities could be taught to people, as it once was, through the instruction and study of important works of art and culture which, frankly, speak to more people and would be inestimably more valuable to leading a rich life than a reading of the law ever would. And you don't have to do three years post-grad to get the benefit.

    Second, while the three years of law might teach clear thinking (But does it really?), a modicum of Latin or rhetoric or math or formal logic will do it better and much, much faster. In other words, the idea that law school is the new college of humanities is ridiculous and could be entertained only by law profs who need to justify what they do. Just because the academy has let us down on humanities doesn't mean that law schools should be able to scam us by pretending to take it up. I can see why a law prof like that California dean that LP quoted awhile ago might make this case explicitly or otherwise, but the idea that some law prof can act as a stand-in for a true humanist is laughable.

    Third, law school is a trade school. Sorry, but it's true. Lawyers may not get their hands dirty (depending, perhaps on the area of practice), but it's a way of making a living. That doesn't mean there isn't some theory-- all trades have theory, and so some of it must be taught, but people go to law school to get jobs, and it shouldn't be any surprise that they're irritated if they can't get them. And law professors can't teach this.

    I agree that law school prepares no one for practice, but this will never be a serious problem until there are enough jobs. The real problems are ones that the schools cannot bring themselves to acknowledge. So, cut off the federal money and allow bankruptcy and the problem will cure itself. Remember Herbert Stein's law: "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop." It is government and its law school cat's paws that are just propping this dreadful stuff up.

    -- Porsenna

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  45. IMO, Tamahana's discussion of legal pedagogy and scholarship is from a hypothetical perspective of what a law school running on tuition of 10K/year with 3/4 or 1/2 of the current student body will have to look like. It's a relatively simple distinction all the HYS > federal clerkship > 2 years at V10 crowd still doesn't seem to get.

    Well put. Maybe the people you describe refuse to get it because they know they have nothing of value to offer in a two-tier law-school world.

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  46. We should worry about our legal future before we worry about our legal history.

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  47. Shouldn't legal history, and legal scholarship in general, be funded more like other fields - by grants from public and private institutions - rather than just by loan conduits (students)? If it has social value, won't there be funding? Would that be, to borrow Walker's phrase, "sticking it to law professors"?

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  48. DJM's posts are getting better and better every time. I think she's caring less and less about what her cockroach colleagues think of her and more and more about recovering some moral high ground.

    Bravo.

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  49. 11:22 hits on an important issue in the debate. The law professors want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to continue growing their salaries, benefits, and decrease teaching time while facing less control over what they write about and teach.

    The only system that allows them to maximize the above factors is one that is subsidized by students paying full-tuition with no say in the governance of the school. Having to submit proposals to grant boards on their ideas would lead to too much outside control over their work. Changing the law school model by decreasing tuition and enrollment (even if it means they could continue to write about whatever they want) would mean a decrease in salaries and benefits and an increase in teaching time.

    Emotionally, viscerally, a law professor may think they have "earned" this type of system because they have jumped through every possible hoop or could earn more in private practice. That's a sick, simplistic reason to continue to push the consequences of the system onto 23 year old kids. Fortunately, the market for law school enrollees doesn't seem to agree with them, at least it hasn't for the last two years.

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

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  51. Who is this Mr. Infinity moron?

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  52. @11:57

    You sound like one of the many baby boomers that had everything hande to them on a silver platter by the greatest generation.

    You grew up in a world where education was cheap and jobs were plentiful. That world doesn't exist anymore, and it never will again. Thanks to your generation. So you will never be able to understand the world we have grown up in. A world of laughable high education cost and very weak employment prospects.

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  53. He wants us to think he drives an "Infinity."

    Also, his writing is very poor. I very much hope he's not a lawyer, or even a law student. If he is, the situation is even worse than I thought.

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  54. Mr. Infinity,

    Present some evidence that the scambloggers are wrong--not the same stale ad hominem attacks that the scambloggers are lazy, entitled loers.

    Put up or shut up, you craven shill for the law school scam.

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  55. Please block Infinity and his spam.

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  56. Don't provide ad revenues to 7:00 a.m.'s websiteAugust 22, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    Dear Mr. Infinity at 7:00, 11:42, 11:50, 11:57 and again at 11:57.

    I'd say once is enough for any given comment.

    Why repeat yourself? Are you becoming senile?

    I read a number of your weblog posts from the Google cache, by the way, and it seems like you're repeating yourself ad nauseam on your own website, too. So maybe the condition is chronic with you.

    Have a nice day.

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  57. Don't provide ad revenues to 7:00 a.m.'s websiteAugust 22, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    " Mr. Infinity, ... ...shill for the law school scam."

    I think he's just shilling for his own website and thinks he's found some likely volunteers to come visit (and argue with) him, the better to provide advertising revenue...

    Just MHO, FWIW.

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  58. Don't provide ad revenues to 7:00 a.m.'s websiteAugust 22, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    "He wants us to think he drives an "Infinity." "

    Au contraire: To me "Infinity" means his drivel is never-ending.

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  59. I think most (if not all) of Mr. Infinity's cheerleading section on his blog are his own sockpuppets agreeing with him.

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  60. "Mr Infinity" is simply trying to incite people to go to his website and comment so that he can drive up readership and get more money for his ads. His tactics are rather unsubtle. Probably the same thing is happening on "Jack Marshall" website as well.

    Do NOT go to his website and do NOT comment on it. That is the approriate response. This is also the also time I will comment on it.

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  61. "also time"

    Wasn't that an episode of the original Star Trek?

    ReplyDelete
  62. @7:00AM

    I am JD Painterguy, and unlike Mr. Infinity, I am not always Anon.

    I did not comment on Mr. Infinity's blog last night, nor did I even visit the blog. So whatever you read was not mine.

    But let me tell you a little bit about myself:

    Whatever the writing style was that you thought resembled mine, I like to think that I can utilize several, as I try to mostly write creatively. If you think I am crazy it is probably because I am at my wits end with my ever growing SL debt. Or maybe it is because I part Hungarian. My Hungarian great grandmother came through Ellis Island pregnant with my grandmother.

    My name is John Koch and I am 47 years old and have lived almost all of my life on Long Island.

    I was on NPR radio not too long ago with Cryn Johannsen, and I have also been on the local Long Island news channel last winter talking about my SL debt.

    I went to Touro Law School when it was new and solidly in the 4th tier, and you have my word that I thought I was a special snowflake and that I worked hard at my studies, but still did very poorly there academically.

    Yes I did post my Touro Transcript and bad grades from well nigh 20 years ago for what they are worth, and so as to maybe help others struggling at the bottom of the class to see that they are not alone.

    My namesake is the late Surgeon and MD Dr. John Mountain who was an old family friend and who almost lost his license to practice medicine when, in 1964, he physically intervened and prevented an Orthopedist in a relatively unsophisticated (at the time) upstate NY Hospital from amputating both of my father's legs above the knees after he was crushed under a falling load of steel during a construction accident.

    I am not related to the Koch Brothers Industries, but I am related to the Skanska-Koch heavy construction people.

    My grandfather and great Grandfather erected all of the steel for the US Supreme Court Building in 1932, which was one of the reasons I wanted to try my had at law, as corny as that sounds.

    The family also erected the steel framework, during the Great Depression for the US Treasury Building (on the back of the 10 dollar bill) and The US Dept. of Commerce Building, and The Adams Wing of the Library of Congress, and on and on and on.

    Look for my relatives and my father who is waves his helmet here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCbu3CvD3h8



    What I am trying to say is that I have roots in the US, and if I feel that there is something wrong I should be able to speak my mind.

    In spite of what Mr. Infinity thinks or writes or says as anon.

    Which is not to say the Mr. Infinity cannot just be open and say who he is from now on.......





    ReplyDelete
  63. JD Painter,

    Just do yourself a favor and move abroad. Give up your US citizenship and give your loan providers "the bird."

    There is no sense living in misery like you do for any longer.

    Get a job at a beach bar, get a shitty little apartment, and enjoy life for a few years.

    There are more Caribbean islands than you can imagine, and every one is calling you to freedom.

    ReplyDelete
  64. My grandpappy would shoot at his relatives when they tried to steal his beer out of his barn. I assume that he was trying to hit them. I'm pretty sure that he died from lung cancer before he completely destroyed his liver.

    That wasn't the side of my family that produced neurosurgeons, pathologists and attorneys. That's the side of the family that produces teen pregnancies.

    ReplyDelete
  65. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Above the law is reporting that Brooklyn is about to win another dismissal of the fraud lawsuits brought against law schools.

    Again, the entire thrust of BLS's defense is that their numbers don't matter and shouldn't be believed based on other information and that it was the recession's fault blah blah blah.

    It's amazing to see the plaintiff's lawyer not able to draw one single analogy. All throughout our lives - from the Coffee Bean nutrition information I'm looking at now, to the GPA I am putting on my resume and on and on - we use numbers to communicate purported truths about the past, with the goal that they will help predict the future.

    All of these information disclosures are REGULATED AND YOU WOULD HAVE YOUR ASS TORN IF YOU DARED LIE. But for some reasons, law schools can completely lie when presenting data describing the empoyment outcomes of the PRIOR students.

    Brooklyn's lawyer keeps running his fat mouth about how the statistics were making predictions about the future BUT NO THEY FUCKING WERE NOT, NO STATISTIC DOES THAT. STATISTICS IS THE SCIENCE OF SUMMARIZING THE PAST SO THAT YOU CAN DRAW INFERENCES ABOUT THE FUTURE. BROOKLYN LIED ABOUT PAST RESULTS. THAT'S THE FUCKING POINT.

    Unfortunately the plaintiff's lawyer didn't seem to raise any of these points or analogies, and just took it like someone saving his best points for the appeal.

    ReplyDelete
  67. You are completely wrong about statistics as they were described in the BLS case. Please make an effort to not embarrass yourself further.

    ReplyDelete
  68. Skadden is doing what it can to represent its client. That is what lawyers do.

    ReplyDelete
  69. Enough of the windbaggery. All you blowhard ivy league professors can spout off about how the problem of lawyer overproduction will be solved if you just incorporate more clinics into the curriculum. The bottom line is there are too many law schools pumping out too many law graduates. Cost, while a significant factor, is SECONDARY! If law schools charged $5,000 in tuition, it would certainly be easier to walk away from the law, but it still would not solve the employment issue. The employment issue will only be solved when the supply of law grads is in proportion to demand and no stupid clinic in immigration or landlord-tenant is going to make one bit of difference. Keep deluding your self-centered selves you ivy- league pukes.

    ReplyDelete
  70. The authors of this blog have given themselves away too cheaply and for long enough IMHO.

    This comment you are reading now is at the end of comments for a post that will soon be forgotten, for such is the nature of blogging.

    I think the letter to the class of 2015, from a few posts ago, should run for a few months with no new posts, since the front page of a blog is the only one that really matters.

    In any event, a post with a basic position telling about here is the basic story and here is where it is all going will draw many thousands of comments over a 2 or three month time span, and all will wait with baited breath for a comment within the body of comments from lawprof or djm.

    As for other thoughts: It seems that Higher Ed and Prisons and healthcare and etc are all moving away from the free market, and that Big Gov't is always going to get more and more involved in this perfect storm of a semi private/semi-public US economy at the expense of the individual citizen.

    But maybe that is all meant to be since the USA is the only remaining superpower and with no moral opposition in the world such as the cold war etc. to prevent the boomers of the now USA from turning upon its own younger citizens as the enemy.

    Conservatives that denounce "Liberalism" but at the same time benefit from taxpayer revenues at the expense of the free market are not being honest and do not deserve votes.

    Liberals (such as the academics of higher ed) that are pretty much, in principle, against capitalism and the free market while at the same time earn almost criminal wealth in the form of salaries that they do not deserve and at the expense of the taxpayer, are equally disagreeable and loathsome in a basic human rights sense.

    Obviously the law school scam will continue for as long as legal academia can get away with it, which may be for many years to come.

    The best that the scambloggers can do is to warn.





    ReplyDelete
  71. I am amazed how these fraud lawsuits against these law schools are being dismissed with ease. Either the plaintiffs' attorneys have shit for brains or the the judiciary is in the pocket of the entire industry. Either way, this should tell you what a fucked up "profession" this is.

    ReplyDelete
  72. ^^^ Sorry, I meant that the Prison system is now also a bizarre, American, hybrid private/public pursuit, such as the Corrections Corporation of America.

    America incarcerates more people than any other country in the world.

    Be afraid, because debtors prison for student loan debtors is very likely.

    Something the law school professors will not talk about most likely as they recommend IBR etc.



    ReplyDelete
  73. 5:51, What's clear is there is an entirely different standard for fraud when selling a legal education, than there is when doing pretty much anything else. Try playing these numeric games in a securities context and Robins Kaplan would rape your ass in court. Any judge who tried to pull this "the stock crashed because of the recession, or you should have known from other information that the company was shit" nonsense would be bitch slapped hard on appeal and may lose their bench.

    I knew the standard for fraud varied by context, but clearly we now know that with regards to the sale of education - there is no such thing as fraud. It's purely an 1800s style caveat emptor regime.

    ReplyDelete
  74. "You are completely wrong about statistics as they were described in the BLS case. Please make an effort to not embarrass yourself further."

    Brooklyn claims a 90% rate employment rate. That's overstated by a factor of 2, maybe 3 depending on what one may reasonably call a job worth $200,000+ of tuition and three years of a life.

    ReplyDelete
  75. WHAT'S CRAZY ABOUT THESE FUCKING ASSHOLE JUDGES DISMISSING THE CASES IS THAT THEY ARE DOING SO ON A 12(B)(6) MOTION!!!! THEY'RE NOT EVEN FUCKING ALLOWING DISCOVERY SO THE PLAINTIFF'S LAWYERS CAN UNCOVER THE FRAUD!!!

    WHAT THE HELL FUCK!?!?!?!?!?!

    ReplyDelete
  76. What the plaintiffs' attorneys should do in these fraud lawsuits against the law schools is do a background check on the assigned judge. Did the judge receive an honorarium from the law school? Is he/she an adjunct at the school? Is the judge's spouse a faculty member? Board of trustees membership or affiliation? Was the dean of a particular law school a former partner, co-worker, subordinate of the judge in a prior job? If so, file a recusal motion. Put these black gowned clowns' feet under the fire and stop wasting your time by filing complaints saying" COUNT I: My Law School Ass Raped me with their Stats. I am actually surprised the law schools haven't defended by saying that cooking the numbers is an industry standard that has existed for decades (even back when I attended law school in the late '80s). Then again, the cases are getting dismissed so quickly that the law schools don't have to really defend their conduct.

    ReplyDelete
  77. "I am actually surprised the law schools haven't defended by saying that cooking the numbers is an industry standard "

    That is literally the exact argument Brooklyn raised, along with numerous other equally curious defenses.

    ReplyDelete
  78. Wouldn't it be nice, if in every Brooklyn Law torts class, they studied this case, "socratically?"

    ReplyDelete
  79. Bad lawyers make bad law.

    ReplyDelete
  80. I'm just trying to wrap my head around lawyers telling a judge that it's okay for law schools, who train lawyers in how to present facts to the courts, to set the example of creating facts out of thin air.

    ReplyDelete
  81. Have you ever seen the crap income statistics published by state bar associations? Economics of the profession? Also garbage.

    ReplyDelete
  82. Calling law a "profession"? Also garbage.

    ReplyDelete
  83. JP -

    Judges are for the most part very establishment figures (with the odd exception), even elected state judges and their decision making tends to reflect both establishment beliefs, interests and the broad preconceptions of society. In a difficult case the hardest part is breaking the judge's tendency to cleave to received wisdom. Law schools, the deans of those schools and law professors are also very much part of that establishment and, law professors, having considerable amounts of free time, spend a lot of that time interacting politically.

    At this point in time the broad view of the political/legal/judicial establishment is that the former law student suits are a bad thing and that they are frankly wrong and wrongheaded - that the students bringing them are a bunch of feckless whiners who did not look hard enough for a job, or did not want to work hard as lawyers, or who were slackers in college and law school. Moreover, if one or two of these cases were to be successful it would kick off an absolute conflagration, chaos - and who knows where that would end.

    However, when the received wisdom changes, it turns on the law schools, then judges will be easier to persuade. That received wisdom is changing fast and enough senior lawyers, law firm partners - even in BigLaw are beginning to express outrage - that the broad view may well flip, and flip quickly.

    ReplyDelete
  84. Thank-you for this post, DJM. As someone who is one of those graduates who has been financially destroyed simply because I wished to go to law school and practice public interest law and make a difference with lower income populations, I am one of those graduates to which you are referring. That's why I want to thank you wholeheartedly for caring about what happens to me and my colleagues. You and LawProf do not get nearly enough credit for the stance you have taken on this issue, so please know that your care and concern is appreciated, even by people you may never come into contact with.

    One correction: your post states the average salary of a law graduate for 2011 as being $60,000. That is not actually the average salary of a law graduate. It is the average salary of a law graduate practicing law, if I'm not mistaken. This distinction is important, especially when so few graduates actually end up practicing law. I, myself, would be thrilled with a $60,000 salary: Up until recently, I made $13,000 a year and I just lost my job. $60,000 would be the lottery for me. I would have been incredibly grateful. Please don't forget to focus on those of us who don't have jobs in the legal field and never will and who earn substantially less than the $60,000 a year being reported. There are a lot of us out there.

    THANK-YOU FOR ALL THAT YOU DO.

    ReplyDelete
  85. "I'm just trying to wrap my head around lawyers telling a judge that it's okay for law schools, who train lawyers in how to present facts to the courts, to set the example of creating facts out of thin air."

    That jury was unreasonable to rely on the testimony, evidence and arguments when - had they looked at other sources - they would have seen the reality of the situation.

    ReplyDelete
  86. I am glad that the judges are dismissing these frivolous cases. The law school is a scam? Oh please. If anything, it's about time that the judges come down on these frivolous claims hard.

    However, a majority of the scambloggers probably LIKE that the cases are getting thrown out.

    Say what?

    Yes, it gives them something more to whine about. If there was law school reform, these bloggers would have to find a new thing to whine about. Keeping the status quo is good for the ultra-whiny scambloggers.

    I mean, come on, think about it. If the law schools were punished hard and there was reform, what would Nando write about? What would he post pictures to? What would JD painter whine about (probably plenty still, actually).

    These kids don't know better though. Most never took the bar, and they are pretty much posting stuff right outta their butts. If you didn't take the bar you have no reason to complain about the profession. You are not in it. You have no business creating a scamblog telling people that it's a scam. I think some were too afraid they would fail the thing and they ran off, feeling so much anger at themselves for knowing they would not pass it, and projecting that anger onto the law schools. The real scam is the intelligence that they claim is buried deep in their brains.

    Come on, throw me a bone, at least try to think about it! I double dog dare you!

    Mr Infinity
    http://gotolawschool.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  87. I would also like to apologize to Campos and state that I did not double or triple post that comment (unless my computer messed up while reloading the page). I don't come here to sabotage your blog. On the contrary, I come here to start discourse, from the other side. I did, at one time, believe these scamblogs until I realized for myself that I was not being scammed by being a law student. Instead, I found, I was preparing myself for the future.

    Again, I think that someone else was copying and pasting my posts (the others had a return space in front of the typed text). I won't point fingers, but it was a sad attempt at sabotaging me.

    Mr. Infinity (a.k.a. "the crusher")

    ReplyDelete
  88. Mr. Infinity,

    I am going to make a kind request: I understand that perhaps some of the scambloggers have not treated you well. One of the biggest negatives of the scambloggers is that they tend to rip apart anyone who may be of a different mind than them and as a result, they tend to make enemies. It is a fault of theirs I believe and it does not help their cause.

    Please, however, don't use their behavior to justify your own. This is not a laughing matter. $100,000 in debt is not funny and it's no longer about a kids being whiny. A lot of people have been hurt by this and they will not recover.

    I am not a kid (I was an older student when I went to law school) and I sure as hell am not whiny. I took the bar and passed on the first try, although I had to wait 2 years after law school to be able to come up with the income to be able to take it as on an income of $9.50 an hour stuffing bags in a warehouse, it tends to take awhile to be able to afford the fees and books to study. I shouldn't have wasted my time or money on the bar, as none of that mattered.

    I will never practice law, Mr. Infinity, and that is very painful to me. And I have an enormous amount of debt that will prevent me from doing almost anything in life. In addition, I just lost my very low-paying job (minimum wage) and have been unsuccessful in getting a new one despite sending out over 600 applications.

    I can't remember the last night I actually slept, my stomach is in knots, I am depressed but don't have any income to get treatment, and I cry almost continuously. I have no hope. Everything I had (especially my hope for the future) has been taken from me. It might seem that I must have done something horribly wrong to deserve all of this, but I had an excellent work record before law school, which included several positions overseas, I got excellent undergrad grades, excelled in law school, passed the bar, completed numerous internships, etc. Everything about me said I should have succeeded but I just can't compete in this market and it breaks my heart to know that not only will I not be able to fulfill my dream and goals that I worked towards for over a decade, I will be extremely lucky to get a retail job for minimum wage in this economy. That is all I look for anymore - that's what my possibilities have been reduced to. It's hard to believe that not too long ago, I had a future.

    I tell you all this because your mocking does not go on deaf ears. It is kicking a dog that is already down and will probably never get up. You might consider it mighty amusing to be trolling (I hope you got your satisfaction), but I want you to know that your words hurt.

    I did everything I could, but I still failed. And I will pay the price for that for the rest of my life. I hope the law schools enjoyed my tuition money, because I paid a high price for it.

    ReplyDelete
  89. ^^^ Mr. Infinity

    You ought to read this:

    http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2012/08/to-class-of-2015.html

    We all know your position, but it is hard to guage your situation since you do not reveal much about yourself.

    How much debt will you have?

    Are you getting scholarship money?

    What tier is the Law School you are attending?

    What is your class rank?

    So you have a job lined up for after you get out?

    Do you have friends or family connections that will help you find a job?

    Have you taken the Bar Exam yet? If so how many times?





    ReplyDelete
  90. @5:19AM


    I am sorry for you and also for myself and I believe I have much more debt than you and am also heading towards a frightening and old age and retirement with garnished Social Security checks due to Student Loan Debt.

    My suggestion is that you don't try to appease Mr. Infinity while throwing the scambloggers under the bus.

    ReplyDelete
  91. 5:38:

    @5:19 here. I am not throwing the scambloggers under the bus. They need to know that being pissed at anyone who disagrees with them alienates a lot of people.

    And I don't care about appeasing Mr. Infinity or anyone for that matter. Hell, I don't care about anything anymore. I'm in massive debt that I'll never get out of and the whole dream I worked towards for the last decade was just a scam and illusion. Wasted work. All that because I had the stupid notion that low-income people in our society should have someone to represent them and I wanted to be that someone. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    And I'll be called the schmuck for not giving my services away through pro bono work while the law schools will rank in all the glory with their lofty ideals of access to justice while jacking up tuition enormously.

    ReplyDelete
  92. 1. @5:53AM

    Look, if there was a way to "cut your losses and move on" such as bankruptcy protections for all student loans, do you think the scamblogs would have even come into existence?

    Or at the very least a way to settle SL debt so that the balance would never exceed 50% of the original amount borrowed?

    Something has got to give by now.

    2. And there is another commenter that sort of trivializes 1 Trillion dollars in SL debt by comparing it to mortgage debt that is 13X larger.

    That idea should be developed some more, since there are similarites between the two, but at the same time big differences in how the individual is impacted by SL debt as opposed to Mortgage debt.



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  93. There are some similarities in debtor behavior, but mortgage debt and student loan debt are apples and oranges.

    Mortgage debt has an underlying asset by definition, which is, in theory, vetted by the creditor to mitigate risk. Generally, you can default out of your mortgage debt contractually.

    Student Loan debt is unsecured (no underlying asset), and non-dischargable,and will follow you into the grave. No-one tests the risk to the creditor (apparently the taxpayer) prior to giving out SL Debt. SL debt is far more toxic. It's loan shark debt.

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  94. Terry Malloy is correct. Don't be fooled by the fact that the student loan debt number is lower than the mortgage debt number. The damage with student loans is much greater per capita, and the borrowers take the problems with them to the grave. The student loan debt problem means homes not built or purchased, marriages or relationships not entered into, cars not bought, children not had, and huge wastage of human capital. And this all happens to people who mostly have a lot of potential and skills - a true disaster in terms of productivity in our economy. The student loan debt problem is my problem too (notwithstanding my relative good fortune). Oh how I wish someone in the current administration would acknowledge the student loan program as currently constituted is doing more harm than good, and is merely acting as a redistribution of wealth mechanism to a favored group (academia).

    ReplyDelete
  95. This private student loan debt is booked as an asset on the banks' books. And why wouldn't it be as it is guaranteed by the taxpayer? The more they raise interest rates and the more penalties they add on the greater the assets, and the more they can be used as the basis for making additional loans in other sectors. The fact that the student loan borrowers are financially destroyed is of no concern to these banks.

    ReplyDelete
  96. Big thumbs up on the last three posts. Excellent observations all.

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  97. I like the Mr. Infinity schtick. Keep the posts and jokes coming.

    ReplyDelete
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