Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cultural lag and personal responsibility

Somebody -- I think it may have been the most overrated philosopher of all time, J.S. Mill -- said that truth goes through three stages.  First it's mocked as absurd. Then it's declared to be against religion. Finally, it's said to be what everyone has believed all along.

I think we're getting to stage three in regard to the proposition that law school has turned out to be somewhere between a very risky proposition and a flat-out ripoff for the vast majority of people who are attending today and who have graduated in recent years.

This statement, which as little as three years ago would have been treated as either "crazy" or at the least a gross exaggeration by almost everybody in legal academia, is rapidly heading toward the status of conventional wisdom.  One sign of this is that a National Jurist poll of the most influential people in legal academia, which was conducted by surveying a group made up in large part of law school deans, has selected Brian Tamanaha as #1 on this list, with Bill Henderson as the first runner-up, should Brian for any reason not be able to fulfill his duties at some point during his reign.  (Modesty forbids me from pointing out that I won Mr. Congeniality).

Think about that: law school deans -- probably the single most status-quo regarding group within legal academia -- selected somebody who wrote a book arguing that the current model of legal education in America simply doesn't work any more, and is in need of radical reform, as the most influential person in the business.

In other words, the conventional wisdom about law school, both within higher education and in the culture at large, has been changing with lightening speed.  This is important to remember when people start reflexively victim-blaming recent grads and even current law students for not being more reasonably prudent rational maximizers of their own utility when they signed up for this thing of ours.

Consider, for example, the class that will be graduating this spring.  The class of 2013 applied to law school in the fall of 2009, which means that it is mostly made up of people who got serious about going to law school no later than 2008 or so, if not much earlier (it takes most people awhile to study for the LSAT, pull together letters of recommendation, etc.).

Think about what information was available to prospective law students five years ago about immediate outcomes for law graduates, let alone the long term career trajectories of aspiring lawyers.  Compared to today, there were almost no warnings about the fact that, because of the rising cost of law degrees and long-term trends in the market for attorneys, the net present value of a legal education had been declining for at least two decades, and was likely to continue to do so. Bill Henderson made his very first public observations about the bimodal salary distribution around this time. (This Tamanaha post at Balkinization, which is barely two and a half years old, indicates implicitly how little these trends had been recognized outside the still very underground world of scamblogging).

All of which is to say the extent to which responsibility for acting on what has suddenly become the "obvious" truth that law school is a high risk enterprise can be imputed to law graduates and even current law students is very limited.  Indeed the cultural lag time involved pushes me, at least, toward the conclusion that only people who enrolled in law school this year can be reasonably held responsible for having some realistic sense of what they are getting themselves into.


138 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. You'll eat those words someday when you need to hire an expert witness for the moral philosophy dispute you are litigating, and then you see the other side has Leiter lined up and you have NO ONE, because there is only one man with this level of expertise!
      Just kidding, there are probably a couple thousand of these goofs clogging American law faculties, pretending like they are qualified to instruct students in legal practice and play acting at being public intellectuals.

      Delete
    2. Lois, the credited response is first. Please see that your future posts conform to the ITLSS unofficial posting rules.

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  2. Yet public funding has become more generous. Law schools have used the crisis and the hatred of banks to shore up the walls of the academic fortress.

    IBR and PAYE must end or be radically reformed. As they currently exist, they serve only to loot the public, imprison students, and enrich administrators.

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    1. It drives me crazy when people claim IBR hurts the taxpayers. It doesn't. This isn't really money, particularly not the interest. Our national debt is not ever going to be repaid, so why does it matter if we just add a few more zeros?

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    2. IBR does hurt taxpayers. It increases the price of tuition, and shifts the ultimate burden onto them. If you only pay 10 percent of your AGI for 20 years, there is an EXCELLENT likelihood that taxpayers get stuck with the bill, even if there is no interest charged at all.

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    3. @8:50 a.m.:

      So nobody at law schools will get upset if they aren't really paid, if the debts students are presently incurring aren't really money?

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    4. @10:06, you didn't understand, so I'll explain again. The taxpayers aren't burdened with the cost of law school. They'll never pay of the remainder. No one will ever play off the remainder. It's pretend money and pretend numbers. It doesn't mean anything.

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    5. "So nobody at law schools will get upset if they aren't really paid"

      Pay them back in plastic Obama commemorative coins - "Just Like Those Used To Pay Off The National Debt!"(tm).

      God, this country really has become a sewer of sh*t.

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    6. ^ Thank boomers for that.

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  3. There is some truth to the claim that law school has been a risky proposition, particularly at lower-ranked schools, for a long time. But there are two key differences between now and 20 years or so ago. First, the penalties for incurring a JD were not so onerous in terms of cost and the debilitating consequences of nondischargeable unmanageable debt. Second, the non-law job market was not so unforgiving, i.e. a JD was not necessarily a scarlet letter barring entry into other fields.

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  4. I am one of those students who applied in 2009. There were numerous anonymous blogs, but nothing warning students in the NY Times or other major news source that I could find like there is today. Every practicing attorney I talked to said it was a good idea. And every school was listing 95% employment and high salaries. I guess I made my decision based on looking at data from the school's and advice from actual attorneys. Should have listened to the anonymous bloggers.

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    1. Yes, you should have.

      One of the benefits of anonymous speech is that it permits a rawer disclosure of reality without the need to front a facade of, "I'm a success story, I hear others are having a tough time..."

      The scam bloggers really made this happen.

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    2. When I applied in 2008 the overwhelming consensus was that law school was a good deal. The only dissenters were disaffected folks on JDU who seemed to be mostly graduates of NYC area TTTs like Seton Hall and Hofstra. I never visited the scamblogs.

      I considered myself an extremely well-informed applicant for even spending time on TLS or JDU. Most of the people in my state school poli sci program didn't even know what those forums were. Of course if you assume a rational actor then you can come up with all sorts of justifications.

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    3. exactly, all true. I feel soooo stupid for investing the blogs more, but I didn't know back then. Also for those who didn't read blogs already they were just foreign. I don't think I read any blogs till law school. Again I think we all were under the impression that the schools weren't lying to us or trying to mislead us. I assumed any down side was only for TTT, which I assumed with no info was just a bad bet cause they were unranked by the U$ New$. But, Nando is a hero, whose day is rapidly coming. Congrats to the scambloggers keep up the good work.

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    4. I also applied in '09. Everything available was saying 90+% employment. The blogs that were out there were ignored or discredited by the mainstream. I first found Nando's page during my 2L year and it was like having the wool lifted off my eyes, and I distinctly remember that his counter was at around 100k pageviews. Now it's at 600k, which tells me there's been a TON of saturation with this stuff over the last two years.

      Now everyone wants to claim everyone knew it was a scam all along. BS. The lawyers I knew went to TTT schools and had decent livings. How was I supposed to discover that it's actually 40% who go to law school and get a remunerative return?!

      I've read in the opinions that law applicants should be doing due diligence prior to applying. What do you call talking with attorneys and reviewing all available literature? I don't know what else I could have done besides some super-technical straw polling that no 23 year old has the resources to do.

      The schools KNEW that 95% of their graduates were not employed and they KNEW that listing a 100k+ median salary for all graduates was patently dishonest. I'm sorry, anyone who believes otherwise has a severe hindsight bias and/or the inability to understand 2007 marketing materials for what they were. Every single thing the TTTs sent me was designed to get me to fork over 35k/year on a sucker's bet. Every single thing.

      If that's not fraud, we need to change the fraud law.

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    5. our day will come. I remember sitting with my roommate studying for the LSAT in 2008 looking over US NEWS rankings checking the employed scores on it, going to different schools websites. That's how I decided to go to the school I did, I think that's how 80% of people did at the time. We didn't think the schools were trying to mislead us, but they were and they are.

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    6. Oh well, I guess you all really are victims.

      Feel better now?

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    7. Oh well, you've repeated pretty much every single one of your usual, tired arguments.

      Feel better now? Got your fix? All set to go back to your comment-less blog?

      Delete
  5. Two questions:

    1. Is the "scam" mostly attributable to progressively greater student lending over 3 or so decades with no market controls (risk)or any thought of adverse selection on the part of the lenders?

    2. Was the popularization/widespread dissemination of a "new perception" of LS as a scam made possible only. or at least mainly by blogging?

    In the 1990's the internet was crude and there really was no blogging, and I never heard of a scamblog until 2009.


    Well, a 3rd and not very nice question too:

    3. Over the last 3 decades? How many law schools can be said to have opened or had their genesis solely due to student lending?

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    1. "How many law schools can be said to have opened or had their genesis solely due to student lending?"

      If it weren't for federally guaranteed student loans, 85% of *all* law schools would close tomorrow.

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  6. Hard to generalize isn't it? For example, going to any school outside the top 100 has always been a bad idea. I agree more information is available now with regard to the schools within the top 100.

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  7. ^^^^ Sorry, I meant 2 or so decades not three. From 1990 to present day.

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  8. Step 3 of this process seems dangerous to me. The law school status quo apologists act like the current drop in applications is a sign that the law school market is efficient.

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    Replies
    1. And that LST or scamblogs or disaffected students talking to people IRL had nothing to do with it- people are just making different choices in a vacuum.

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    2. Hard to tell re: scamblogs but remember a guy like Campos is doing a lot more than just this blog (TV interviews, articles in various publications) that reach a much wider audience than the blogs do.

      I agree LST and IRL convos have an effect.

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    3. Meh, when you're already claiming that a law degree is a versatile degree for professional advancement and that the practice of law is spiritually and financially rewarding, what's a pseudo-academic white lie about efficient markets?

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  9. A modest proposal. An anonymous survey to law faculty asking the question: "All other things equal, if a close friend or family member were considering attending the law school at which you teach next year at full price, would you advise him/her against it?"

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    1. You're assuming many of these faculty know the score re: employment outcomes. LP has posted numerous times that many profs are out of touch so yeah they probably would recommend it.

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    2. I actually started asking this very precise question to my law school faculty colleagues two years ago. None could say "yes," but each then put his or her head back deep in the sand and hoped the issue would magically disappear. Of course, it has not. Those faculty members still have no idea what to do, because all rational potential solutions to the problem (solutions in which the math actually adds up) would put their salaries at risk.

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  10. Didn't the also-overrated Schopenhauer say that?

    And is this "overrated philosopher" talk a ruse to rile the Thug? I'm sure he has an opinion (Derrida, maybe?)

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  11. Don't the children of faculty and administrators go tuition free? Isn't that one of the perks they get?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, but it's not a "perk." It's part of their compensation package.

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    2. Perqs are part of the compensation package.

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  12. This varies a lot from school to school. It's much more common at private law schools than public ones, where kids of faculty often get little or nothing in the way of tuition breaks.

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    Replies
    1. Cooley pays for the college tuition of its professors' children anywhere - not just at Cooley itself.

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  13. David Segal's major article in the New York Times warning about law schools came out in January 2011.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/business/09law.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    This should have been a big warning sign for the Fall 2011 cohort if they were paying attention.

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    Replies
    1. true dat. but the key phrase is cultural lag. not instant recognition.

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    2. "This should have been a big warning sign for the Fall 2011 cohort if they were paying attention."

      As NYT readers are no doubt unaware, not every American subscribes to the NYT.

      In fact, well over 99% of them *don't*.

      For information to be widely known, it must first be widely disseminated.

      NYT is a *start* - but it is only a start.

      Google helps - but it can only return what exists - and voices in isolation (even at the "mighty" Times) tend to be deprecated - even if heard.

      It takes years and years of determined *pounding* to slay the monstrous myths that obscenely rich (and breathtakingly corrupt) law schools have cultivated.

      Delete
  14. Actually, the warning call came in late 2007, you know - back when times were "good".

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119040786780835602-search.html

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    1. I'm going to go ahead an make a wild guess that most prospective law students did not have WSJ subscription back in 2007, so that article probably didn't warn too many students until it was accessible without a subscription

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    2. Additionally, the deans were selling the idea of law being in a temporary contraction and law school being a good bet to wait out the recession. They knew both of these propositions were false, but did it anyway.

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  15. You hit the nail on the head LawProf. I am a 3L at a T50 and I went to the 1Ls at my school and told them to drop out while they were "ahead" if their grades were not extremely good. All the 1Ls I talked to said they read your blog and above the law and would likely drop out if that was the case. They were a lot more knowledgeable of the scam then I was First semester of 1L year and seemed to look at law school as the gamble for which it was. I don't think I started to see the horror till Second semester when Profs held a career thing for my section and the best advice they had was to call home and ask our parents friends for jobs and internships. It certainly wasn't till mid 2L year that I realized I was completely screwed, but by that time it was too late to get out. Going down with the ship now.

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    1. "All the 1Ls I talked to said they read your blog and above the law and would likely drop out if that was the case."

      This is interesting, I wonder if we'll seee a large increase in the drop rate going forward?

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    2. I think we will. I also have a friend at a t20 who called me and told me that if he didn't get top 10% he planned on dropping out. He told me that all the 1Ls he was friends with were aware of the scam and discussions of dropping out were rampant. This was unheard of when I was a 1L, no one thought of dropping out unless they straight failed a class. Of course people say this, but I would not be surprised if a lot of 1Ls finish first year see there grades and drop out.

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    3. Could always just wait and see how OCI plays out regarding # of interviews.

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    4. well at most schools everyone knows that if there not in the top 10% there is no point in OCI

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    5. OP specifically references T50...

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    6. There's no reason to wait out OCI. You can have many interviews, a good number of callbacks, and still get no offers. By that point, you're in the middle of 2L fall, and you've paid for 1.5 years of law school (probably no refund for the first semester of 2L by October). So do you quit halfway through or continue? It's psychologically easier for people to quit earlier.

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    7. specific references to tier helps to give context to the environment at different ranges of schools.

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    8. They say they would drop out if they don't get into the top 10% or whatever, but you know most of them don't mean it. That they would enrol in a crummy school despite knowing even a little about the scam suggests they have Special Snowflake Syndrome.

      So when push comes to shove they'll be telling themselves "sure I'm getting average grades in a crummy law school, but I'm special, I can make this work".

      Delete
  16. I started in Fall 2011, having never read David Segal's NYT articles, or a scamblog, or how bad the job market was for lawyers.

    I knew that the economy was hurting and that lawyers were hurt bad, but I read general BLS stats and didn't ask hard questions to the TTTT that offered me a full ride. The best was when they wouldn't say how many scholarships they gave out when that very information was on LSAC!

    I think a lot of people who started this school year, at least in my TTTT, do not know how bad things are. Perhaps I am not talking to the right people, but one guy I talked to had never heard of the bimodal salary distribution.

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    1. I think what you said just shows how students still largely take schools at their word. I mean till law school I never had a bad opinion of profs and administrators. I guess I for some reason linked law schools and colleges with high school teachers and administrators. BOY WAS THAT STUPID. But I think that really is part of it, Americans love teachers and look at them as people who work hard for our kids for very little pay. Law schools and law profs get some of that goodwill from teachers, and thus when a 0L interacts with the school he is thinking these people have his best interest at heart like many teachers do.

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    2. You never heard the expression "Those that can, do. Those that can't, teach."?

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    3. "But I think that really is part of it, Americans love teachers and look at them as people who work hard for our kids for very little pay."

      Another bullsh*t myth created and cultivated by *another* rich and powerful institution (the teachers union) to make itself *more* rich and powerful.

      (Think about teachers' "pay per hour worked" and their taxpayer guaranteed defined benefit pensions after 20 or 25 years...)

      Golly, isn't any lie face-raped into us by our sh*tbag legacy media, *true*?

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    4. @10:53-

      You don't think teachers work hard? They're always working late into the evening and over the weekend, grading student work, creating lesson plans, coaching sports teams, talking with parents, etc.

      It's much more than just 7:30-2:30 when the kids are in school.

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    5. Your point is irregardless. My point is that teachers have significant goodwill, and this goodwill is also transmitted to profs probably becuase both professions involve teaching younger people at some level. Maybe you think teachers are also part of the scam, I don't, but you can clearly and should divide a high school teacher and prof. At the very least almost every law profs pulls over 150K with benefits for teaching maybe 2 classes a year. This is just unheard of for a high school teachers.

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    6. Summers off...winter break...

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    7. "It's much more than just 7:30-2:30 when the kids are in school."

      *Bullsh*t*.

      Take a look at the actual union contracts - they aren't drafted for kicks.

      Teachers are required to work *many* fewer annual hours than almost any private sector worker - for the same (or often better) pay.

      The probability of layoff/firing is non-existent, the benefits are significantly better (when not actually crooked - google "captive Wisconsin Teachers Insurance"), and their political mafia auctions off their millions-strong voting support bi-annually.

      Add in the taking of child hostages ("Give me my annual raise, or Junior's future gets it!") and you pretty much have a political kleptocracy.

      The selfless teacher myth is precisely that.

      Stop swallowing TV whole and start reading actual public union contracts and government budgets.

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    8. Many teachers are not unionized, moron.

      And if it's such a hot career with such generous compensation, why isn't your ass in that classroom in the Bronx, dealing with those easy to manage kids and teachers every day? (Answer - because it's a difficult career that is poorly compensated, but it's "cool" to say otherwise these days.)

      Jackass.

      Delete
  17. Yes, Stage 3 may be here and the participatory nature of the internet was key. (Orin Kerr posted at Volokh about the possibility that the mainstream view inside legal academia has accepted the critique.)

    And when someone from academia trots out the old school approach -- lots of happy talk and no statistics or data, as Dean Lawrence Mitchell twice did recently -- they get hammered immediately for their lack of factual support.

    As for when we were first hearing about the bubble bursting in more than the ordinary cyclical way, my earliest encounter was when I attended a Law & Society Association conference in May 2008 where Richard Sander (UCLA) presented a slide deck on "The End of the Lawyer Boom." By December of that year, even Prawfsblawg was running posts about whether there was a bubble starting to burst. I argued in the comments that the economics of 3rd and 4th tier schools weren't tenable but there was some pushback from academy types.

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  18. I entered law school in 2001. Even back then, there was anecdotal evidence about this "bimodial" salary distribution of law school graduates. EVERYONE knew that some members of our class would get jobs with $100K+ per year, while others would have to settle with $30K-$45K per year.

    What we were not told was that at least HALF of our class would not be able to get a job at all. For example, I have some fellow classmates who have never been able to get work practicing law (except for temp work). And, for the record, I did NOT go to a toilet school either.

    Also, it was very infuriating when I'd get those calls asking about what I was doing 3 months after graduation, 6 months after graduation, 9 months after graduation, etc....

    NONE of us believed that 76% of the class was working full time and making $100K. Yet, that is what the law school dean was telling us.

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    1. Same for me. Law school around 2000. Complaints from students about not finding work. The fact that OCI only found about 10% of students jobs. Lawyer dissatisfaction back then was very well known.

      The problem is that we were back then all special snowflakes who thought we could beat the curve. And that is the same problem today, and in 2004, and in 2007, and in 2009. The evidence is there. We just don't want to admit that we thought we were special snowflakes. It's embarrassing, and we want to deflect the truth onto something else. Instead of a message of "I was stupid", it's being turned into a message of "It's not my fault!"

      Law school is a rip off and should be exposed. But even if law school is shown to be a rip off, there are still countless students who will attend because they think they are special.

      The real message needs to be "You are not a special snowflake that will succeed!"

      That is the only message that will stop people making stupid decisions.

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    2. "Even back then, there was anecdotal evidence about this "bimodial" salary distribution"

      I call bullsh*t on this and the following comment (Hello...Leiter).

      The first *bi-modal* (not "bi-modial") chart from the NALP looks like it wasn't put out until 2006 (and I think *that* may have even been retroactively created sometime in 2008 or 2009).

      So I don't know how there could be "anecdotal" evidence of an empirically derived fact that wasn't demonstrated and disseminated until 6 or 8 years later.

      I think the precise timing of the NALP's bi-modal distribution of salaries is absolutely crucial - since it is the bedrock fact underlying the *real* (as opposed to school-perpetuated) realities underlying the legal market.

      I think it is the absolute *earliest* that anyone could claim applicants "should have known" what they were getting into (looking at you, Judiciary).

      But the NALP has almost always been morally compromised - almost as thoroughly as the schools.

      The NALP is a creature of the law firms (who want financially crippled galley slaves to silently man the oars) and the law schools (who want the galley slaves to apply in abundant numbers).

      It is a f*cking miracle the bi-modal distribution every got out of an ethical morass like the NALP.

      Look, the truth never managed to escape from a single one of the *schools* over *decades*...now did it?

      Delete
  19. DANGER! DANGER! LOGIC FAILURE ALERT! LOGIC FAILURE ALERT!

    See if you can spot the self-absorbed, congratuatory, and utterly baseless logical fault with this statement:

    "People are starting to see law school as a bad decision. Scambloggers wrote about this. Therefore, scambloggers are the reason people are starting to see law school as a bad decision."

    And if you don't see it, let me simplify it for you:

    "The sun rises each morning. My alarm rings at five a.m. Therefore my alarm wakes the sun up."

    Lest we all die in the perennial frenzy of scrambling for credit that plagues the scambloggers, do we really think that the scamblogs are the sole reason people are starting to think twice about law school? Or could people, in light of the recent economic collapse, simply be going back to basics and figuring out whether they can afford something before they buy it?

    Yes, we can take a little credit, but is Nando and his poo pictures really the main reason some students now don't apply to law school?

    And before we blow our load prematurely, how about we wait with the philosophical analysis of our "success" until the point at which law schools actually start to change?

    Because there's a difference between getting the message out and the message actually making a difference.

    While there are more applicants to law schools than there are seats, don't expect anything other than window dressing a la DJM.

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    1. "Yes, we can take a little credit, but is Nando and his poo pictures really the main reason some students now don't apply to law school?"

      Has anyone claimed he's the main reason, Mr. Straw Man?

      The scambloggers are *a* reason, for sure. They were essential to getting the Segal article published, and if you look at google search histories, the phrase "law school scam" was building steam long before this blog or the Segal article went public, and even before law schools started talking about application drops.

      What do you think caused that?

      As for actual effects, multiple schools have decided to stall opening new law schools as a result of market uncertainties, and a lot of people have credited thinks like JDU and nando's blog as swaying them personally against enrollment.

      I don't know why we have so many around here who have to start civil war pissing matches amongst people who fundamentally agree all because your panties are in a tizzie about who gets "credit."

      Delete
    2. Wow. New law schools have stalled. Big deal. The link between that and scamblogging is a thread at best.

      And who gives a damn? Because we still have every single one of the original law schools pulling in a full class of paying students each year, so the scam is going strong. No schools are frightened, or feeling the heat. There is no "boom goes the dynamite" like that commenter from months ago would post each time there was a scrap of good news. Nothing has changed.

      So let's hold off on the stage 3 of the evolution of this idea for now. How about we work on stage 1 first?

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    3. "Nothing has changed."

      Many Deans of Admissions would care to disagree.

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    4. And which deans would those be? Any you know personally? Or is this just one more unsubstantiated rumor that is spread around in the comments section of this site?

      Name names, please. Articles? Quotes? Tweets?

      Anything?

      Delete
    5. Larry Mitchell, for one.

      Oh, you know what? Just piss off, Leiter.

      Delete
    6. Or Camille Andrews? This is the kind of desperate shit that happens when applications start to drop significantly.

      But I'm really sorry to set you off like that, Leiter. I can see you're having one of your days.

      Delete
    7. This Leiter is starting to come off like a certain other kook whose name must never be mentioned (rhymes with "Tainter")

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    8. And aren't they both poets?

      Delete
  20. Law school being a high risk enterprise is only 'obvious' on the scamblogs. It is hardly a truth that everyone knows.

    Citation? Er, the fact that law schools are still full of willing applicants!

    Lots of work left to do. I would say we are still at stage 1, and an early stage 1 at that.

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  21. "Compared to today, there were almost no warnings about the fact that, because of the rising cost of law degrees and long-term trends in the market for attorneys, the net present value of a legal education had been declining for at least two decades, and was likely to continue to do so"

    This fact is what makes the "caveat emptor" rationale underlying so many anti-plaintiff rulings in the "law-scam" cases absurd.

    The market cannot correct if accurate information is lacking - and accurate information was lacking because the schools actively concealed and misrepresented it...often after demanding (and receiving) full and complete disclosure of the *applicants'* financial status - in order to determine "financial aid" (in turn used by the law schools to practice more perfect price discrimination).

    If that doesn't sound a *lot* like a fiduciary relationship, then I suggest we chuck the whole concept - because the Courts will have drained it of meaning to such an extent that it will exist more as a trap than a protection.

    These are the facts that persuade me that if alumni-plaintiffs only persist (perhaps *older* alumni have even *stronger* cases - their causes of action tolled by the schools' multi-decade deceptions) then they will prevail.

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  22. Law school is a scam. I graduated in the top 5% of my class at a TT state university, did one year of law review, and the only legal job I was offered was for $40k for no benefits. The non-legal job offer I got was better, but I took the law job thinking with my credentials I could get to a better situation. Fast forward 1 year later. I can't even get interviews at a decent firm, let alone even an Assistant DA position. I graduated with 70k in loans. What a flipping waste as I was told if I excelled and did well I would get a pot of gold. Instead, I got a crock of shit.

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    Replies
    1. Boo hoo. Perhaps your attitude of entitlement and superiority is what people see?

      "even an Assistant DA position". Yeah, I'm sure they're real sorry they don't have to accommodate you slumming it in their office.

      Delete
    2. Why is it an "attitude of entitlement and superiority" (!) to think that if you work hard and graduate near the top of a decent state school, you should be able to get a job that makes the debt/sacrifice worthwhile?

      At every step of the process, there were and are boomer authority figures saying this like "if you work hard and make top 10%, you'll be able to get in with a nice job" and "even if you don't get that nice job, a year or two out you can lateral to an even nicer job!"

      Salaries of 60k+ were all but promised to us if we gave 3 years of our lives, worked hard, and ranked ahead of our peers.

      Now that the whole system has proven itself a lie, you want to tell us we have a "sense of entitlement and superiority" for thinking we should be able to get $60k job?! Up yours.

      I can't speak for 1037, but if it weren't for people blatantly lying to me, I'd have a management position making 35k+ with no debt right now. Instead, I have 80k in debt and can't even get an interview for those 35k management jobs because I'm now a lawyer who will leave the second someone offers me a non-existent legal job. And I was top 10%, journal, etc., at a T2.

      Fraud victims have a "sense of entitlement and superiority." Only in America.

      Delete
    3. Read the response properly, Craig. Maybe that's why *you* can't get a job - reading skills.

      He implied that an Assistant DA job was an inferior position, hence his sense of superiority.

      Delete
    4. Please STFU Jack Marshall. You act like applicants are actually getting interviews (where their whiny, entitled attitude is made apparent to employers) - not having their resumes immediately tossed into a trash bin because there are no jobs.

      Delete
    5. He didn't say it was an inferior position. In fact, I'm pretty sure "let alone" means the latter is a superior position.

      Delete
    6. Again Craig, misreading is your downfall.

      "I can't even get interviews at a decent firm, let alone ***even*** an Assistant DA position."

      See?

      Delete
  23. The problem is that law schools engage in puffery or, as it known in the real world, fraud. If they cared about students, the sales pitch would be:

    - Here are all of our employment outcomes.

    - As you can see, a few students get pretty good outcomes, about half make what they'd make had they not gone to law school, and then there are the poor bastards who comprise 35% of the class who are remarkably worse off than had they not gone.

    - Only come if you're sure you really want to work as a practicing lawyer and understand what that means. Some students may end up doing other things instead of, or after a few years of, practicing law. You should not count on your JD to assist you with a Plan B and the JD has been known to be a hindrance in obtaining non-lawyer employment.

    - If you still want to come, we'd be happy to have you and we have a swanky new library.

    This would be an honest disclaimer that few would object to. If you wanted to risk hanging yourself, the law school would still be willing to sell you the rope. This would be true caveat emptor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, honesty from law schools would be wonderful.

      But would that come with honesty from law applicants (like us, or like we were)?

      Here's an honest applicant:

      "I'm applying to your law school not because I have an interest in your international law program, or because I want to work to help battered donkeys, or because I love the law, but because I'm a greedy fuck who cares about earning the most money with the least effort. You see, that's why I chose law school. Becuase I saw that I could supposedly earn $100K+ for just three easy years of sitting in a classroom. And yes, I know that lawyers are miserable, that it's a hated profession, that many lawyers have warned me off, that I knew deep down that I would not enjoy working as a lawyer, but I chose to apply because I really want to grab at that high salary."

      Sound familiar? It should, because it's what was going through the mind of every person here when they applied to law school. They knew the risks deep down. They were greedy. They lost the bet.

      Are you surprised that law schools take advantage of our own greed?

      If you're demanding honesty from law schools, perhaps demand it from applicants too. There are far fewer duped law grads than you think.

      Delete
    2. 2:41, what a crock. Even if this Jack Marshall bullshit (that law grads just wanted to get rich, quick) were true, it doesn't change the fact that law schools lied through their teeth about the odds of winning in this "bet." That is illegal.

      But considering that law schools were marketing international law and space law and entertainment law to prospective applicants, and not saying things like "get rich with one of our degrees!" (at least until recently, when they started to get desperate) it's pretty clear that this argument is just something you repeat to make yourselves feel better ("who cares if we committed fraud, they were greedy and deserved it!").

      The bogus salary stats were there to make kids feel better about borrowing $150K for an opportunity to work in some nonexistent area of the law.

      Delete
    3. 2:41 - you are seriously stupid. That is the logic of 13 year-old rationalizing his sh*tty behavior.

      Delete
  24. I entered law school in the late 90s, TT state school. I had no delusions that a JD was a golden ticket because I could see that the employment/salary info was full of holes and weasel words. That said, most graduates I kept in touch with did OK. At the time, not getting a biglaw job was not a big deal, since tuition was so much lower (I graduated with about 28K in student loans) and if you couldn't get a biglaw job you had a good shot at getting hired as a public defender, prosecutor, or counsel for a non profit. (Of course those jobs are now very competetive.)

    It is too bad no one has a crystal ball, because getting a professional degree, and the credentials to practice, take several years. During that time, the economy and the market can change enough so that even a choice which made sense at the beginning becomes a bad choice when the process is finished. For example, medicine seems pretty safe now (in terms of your chances of getting a reasonable return on your investment), but one could go to med school, do the internship/residency, and by that time we might have a single payer system which would provide a much lower return.

    Its not just law either. Higher ed in general is a scam, esp. graduate/professional programs, with a few exceptions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm still pissed I caught onto the PhD scam, but fell for the law one.

      At least with the PhD, you can pursue an interest, have engaging discussions and not arrogant hide-the-ballism, and - usually - wind up with little debt due to TAing/stipends/fellowships.

      Plus, everyone understands why you're working at Applebees while writing your thesis/great american novel.

      Delete
  25. "the JD has been known to be a hindrance in obtaining non-lawyer employment."

    True. It closes more doors than it can possibly open.

    And people in the ivory tower will never understand that fact in a million years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. False - the JD creates far more opportunity than folks on this site will ever concede.

      Delete
    2. ^ False - I mean, feel free to back your statement up if you like, but I don't think anyone here is going to hold their breath.

      If you weren't a law professor, I might explain to you why those of us who actually work for a living believe a legal education to be essentially worthless. But you're safe in your ivory tower where such menial things don't matter.

      Delete
    3. @520:

      I just applied for - and got rejected without interview - a job I was perfectly qualified for in the industry I worked before law school.

      The JD is a massive hindrance for non-legal employment except in that microscopic sliver of jobs that really exist in the world where most of us live (like sports agent, Congressional aide, etc.).

      Delete
  26. "Finally, it's said to be what everyone has believed all along."

    One of the great things about the internet is that all the crap the so-called experts heaped on us and all the sh*t advice given by so-called pundits will live on forever. Its just too bad that our industry is so top heavy that nobody will call anyone out on their BS unless ite from behind a computer screen. But at least its something.

    ReplyDelete
  27. 10:53 AM -- You're clueless about what it takes to be an elementary or secondary school teacher. Remember the Newtown teachers who risk their lives, and lost their lives, shielding their students?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Okay, let's put this into perspective.

      There are thousands upon thousands of schools in America. Maybe 15-20 have had school-hours murder, like, ever, all-time.

      For 99.9% of teachers, it's a ho-hum job with drama like any other, although your drama involves dealing with finding future convicts the hard way instead of dealing with half-baked clients or angry customers.

      You do this 9 months a year with a generous winter break. Starting teachers where I'm from make 40k a year with no graduate degree required. After 3 years, you get tenure and you'll have job security as long as the school doesn't close. Somewhere between 55-62, you're eligible for full retirement with a decent pension.

      Yeah, it sucks some days. You might get capped out even with a master's degree. But it's a really sweet deal for the long-haulers AND you've got a union who always has your back. Plus, society views you as an underpaid civil servant.

      It's actually a really really good job. That's why high school faculties are usually made of people who have been there a long time or new replacements for the people who just retired.

      Delete
    2. Ask the substitute teachers w/ Master degrees for their perspective.

      Delete
    3. 11:28, again, not all teachers are unionized. Nor are all unionized teachers living the dream like you pretend they are. Do you also believe that all cops are earning $250K when they are 25 and retiring when they are 32?

      If it's such a great job with such a sweet lifestyle, go give it a shot.

      None of the teachers I know - and I used to be one, I married one, my in-laws are teachers, and I still hang around with many of my old teacher friends - they beg to differ from your dumb Fox News bullshit opinion of teachers.

      Delete
    4. 246:
      Well, as long as you affix a simple-minded reference to Fox News, your comment must be correct

      Delete
    5. @246:

      I'm not sure what crawled up your ass and died, but as a general rule, teaching is a stable, protected, middle-class position. It will not make you rich, but it should keep you from being poor, especially the underrated-by-the-youths pension. I'm not sure what Fox News (?) or cops making $250k have to do with it.

      I'm an unemployed attorney. I would gladly take a non-unionized job teaching high school for 40k/year. Please find a public school that would hire me, and I'll start tomorrow.

      I know lots of teachers as well. They seem to suffer from a self-pity complex and fail to see the advantages in the profession compared with 95+% of jobs. Most of them would not fare 1/2 as well on the open labor market.

      Delete
  28. 11:28 -- Ever meet teachers who spend the day acting as hygienists, confidantes, psychologists, nutritionists, counselors and other specialists for their students, in addition to teaching classes and trying to main decorum among students unaccustomed to rules and discipline at home? Or teachers who dig into their own pockets to feed their students or purchase school supplies not provided in the budget? And then have to put up with union bashers and other people who don't "get it."

    Maybe many teachers stay a long time because they entered the profession wanting to make a difference and still feel that way later in life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Teachers work hard for little to no money, Profs don't work hard largely for a whole lot of money. Teachers are not part of the problem, but continuing to allow profs and teachers to be equated is. I suspect that many Profs think they are in the same game as high school teachers, "we're all educators right?" The disconnect is public high school teachers want their students to do well for altruistic reasons. Profs want their students to do well, if they do at all, so their damn law school can move up in the rankings, so they don't get sued, or their school densest close cause people won't attend it.

      Delete
    2. I don't know why you took my comment as "union-bashing." I actually think teacher's unions are a good thing.

      Again, I don't know what crawled up your ass. I know there are teachers who sacrifice a lot for their students. I don't doubt that. My point was that from a raw salary/work perspective, teachers have a pretty good deal. Your comment actually reinforces that, as you're showing a pathological knee-jerk resistance to someone who says teaching is a decent profession. Apparently, unless I recognize them as impoverished nuns facing a hail of gunfire and insults from your ungrateful youth, I'm a "union-basher."

      I'm confused by that. It's a noble calling, and one that, given our current economy, is compensated very well. With a 4-year degree from a crap public school, you can immediately make above the national median and you have a more stable career than anyone in the private sector, including a good chance at a pension and real retirement.

      Everyone in my class who went into teaching is living a stable middle class lifestyle with the trimmings, including home ownership. I can't say that about any other cohort from my high school graduating class.

      Delete
    3. Lol! You have no idea what you're talking about. In many states, a masters degree is required to teach. And you're delusional if you think teachers start out above the national average salary. In region, they start you off around 35k. You top out at 50k max. No one does it for the salary.

      Delete
    4. I didn't say they did.

      35k is roughly the median/average income in most places, though it varies based on COL.

      I don't know where you're living, but the top/experienced teachers in my rural, low-COL area make over 70k. There is no master's degree required. And you should not ignore the pension, which is significant compensation that private-sector peers do not have.

      I did not say people do it for the salary. I don't know why you're reading that in. I said it's a good living, and it generally is.

      Delete
  29. It feels great to have helped so many avoid the law school trap. I remember when idiots and shills would tell me that the scamblogs were "pointless" and "ineffective."

    In the final analysis, a few committed people - with the facts solidly in their corner - beat the snot out of a well-heeled cartel. How often does that happen in this sick world?!

    Once a few tenured "law professors" came on board, and voiced their views about the scam, we made progress. When we started attracting the attention of mainstream, corporate press, we had turned the corner on these dogs. And then we kicked them square in the balls, until they came up to their throats. Now, you see the bitches writing weak-ass op-eds in major newspaper.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You definitely got em on the run now. Your website in particular Nando is well known throughout law schools and people certainty think twice before attending a school that is featured a long with a pile of shit or an exploding toilet.

      Delete
    2. "beat the snot out of a well-heeled cartel. How often does that happen in this sick world?!"

      To quote Han Solo:

      "Don't get cocky, Kid!"

      Keep kicking the schools while they are down - until they are dead.

      They would - and have - done the same to you.

      Delete
    3. "And then we kicked them square in the balls, until they came up to their throats."

      LOL.

      Delete
    4. Wow. Nando certainly thinks highly of himself, and has a rather inflated idea of how far this movement has come! How cute.

      Newsflash: snot beating levels are at 0.001% right now.

      How about you get back to playing at "punching pigs in their snouts and balls" like a good little boy, and leave the real discussion to Campos.

      http://www.jolesch.com/csEventPhotoBrowse.aspx?EventID=2133&Group=0&Cat=0&PartID=22

      Delete
  30. 77th!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too many pedestrian, unimaginative comments today. Yours really shines, by comparison. Thank you.

      Now go fly off to a planet that places a high value on mental retardation.

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Link goes to Brian Leiter's Law School Reports. You have been warned.

      Delete
    2. Leiter *is* a genital wart.

      Delete
    3. Hey 12:36...Let's keep this civil with the proper "tone" (per Bernie Burk).

      No need to insult genital warts.

      Delete
    4. Here here. Let's stop the demonization of genital warts in our culture.

      Delete
  32. Paul,

    The judges in the Cooley, BLS, NYLS and Albany LS cases disagree with you, and think any applicant - even before 2008 - could have easily done the necessary diligence to make an intelligent decision to enroll, that the risks were apparent.

    What do you think about this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Start here.

      http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2012/03/myth-of-sophisticated-law-student.html

      Delete
    2. Also consider the case against TJSL, where the case was allowed to proceed to discovery which has uncovered apparent immoral and potentially fraudulent practice. Also consider that several more cases are in the pipeline and the Cooley/BLS/NYLS/Albany LS suits may not be the final chapter in this.

      Delete
  33. On a related note, a peak Inside the MBA Scam:

    http://professional.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324296604578175764143141622.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsForth&mg=reno64-wsj

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "The dean [Mr. Moyer] says an M.B.A. degree remains a "terrific investment," though the returns might not be evident for "a year or two."

      Hmmm, where have we heard that line before?

      Delete
  34. I made the comment @ 10:09, which someone said was "bullshit." I wish to make clear that I am being sincere with what I say.

    TRUE, the data we have today did not exist back in 2001, but everyone (and their mother) knew that some graduates would make a lot of money, while other would make pennies. This was no secret!! It was well understood.

    What we did NOT expect was just how difficult getting any type of legal job (albeit going to traffic court) would be.

    The data and statistics the law school was telling us was a total scam. This became very clear a year after graduation when most of my law school friends were still without work.

    So, my bottom line, this crisis in the legal profession we have today did not come out of the blue. It existed 10 years ago, and there were hints that many of us overlooked (or that were covered-up by the law schools).

    Still, the employment crisis for lawyers has gotten much worse today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shhhhhhh!

      People here don't like to believe that there they took any risks whatsoever. It's not their fault, not even a teeny little bit.

      Delete
    2. I graduated in 2005. I went to law school believing that if I graduated at the bottom of the class I'd be forced to work for the federal government.

      I am living proof that law school applicants are not sophisticated consumers. I did no research whatsoever and assumed the conventional wisdom was correct.

      Delete
    3. As this comment thread demonstrates, many law professors don't want to face the reality of the situation they have found themselves in. So they completely make shit up ("People here don't like to believe that there they took any risks whatsoever") to help themselves feel better about being involved in this scheme.

      Delete
    4. Sorry, but @5:13, there is clearly something wrong with you. Anyone with half a brain would realize that a federal government job is a pretty decent gig. They don't hand those out to people at the bottom of the class. In 2005, you never saw a commercial for a sleazy ambulance chaser, or never saw a park bench ad or phone book ad? I simply can't believe that. If you had, you'd know that the bottom of the class ends up wearing cheap suits working for the men on those commercials.

      Delete
    5. 3:03 P.M.

      Nice straw man argument you have there.

      Delete
  35. "If it weren't for federally guaranteed student loans, 85% of *all* law schools would close tomorrow."

    So if everyone agrees that too many JD's are being produced for the legal market, and also for a non-legal job market that mostly doesn't want them (leaving many student borrowers ultimately unable to service their debts) isn't it logical to cut off the federally backed student loans by now?

    So as to let the market demand for lawyers readjust for the next 5 to 10 years?

    Or do the lower tier law schools have so much political power and influence that they can command the federal gov't to supply the loan funds regardless of the consequences.

    That can't be.




    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Look at the subprime mortgage crisis.

      Monied interests + "compassionate" politicians promising to "expand home ownership" led to the greatest recession since the Great Depression.

      Delete
    2. "So if everyone agrees that too many JD's are being produced for the legal market..."

      That is precisely the problem - not "everyone" is aware of/involved in this knife fight to the death.

      Yet.

      As in almost all cases of government payola corruption, the beneficiaries are few and highly focused (in this case the schools) and the victims are numerous and diffuse (in this case, the rap*d taxpayers).

      So the former can go a long, long time bleeding the latter.

      Especially if the government has a world reserve currency to even further obscure/offload the true costs of widespread government-sponsored ripoffs.

      For a long time the only people involved in the knife fight with the dens of institutionalized corruption known as "law" schools were their victimized "customers" (more accurately described as marks).

      And the schools had a lot more money, voice, and purchased "respectability" with which to defame those they had already defrauded - so blog-less "complainers" were marginalized.

      ...And then the internet started to smite some law school ass...it provided a forum for the inexpensive, wholesale distribution of *facts* - with which the "law" schools are unarmed.

      But we are really only at the beginning of that process.

      Things are going to get much, much worse for the schools.

      They have misled and financially exploited *generations* of their previously isolated alumni.

      But now the internet has provided a forum for the unification of those ripped-off alumni, who can *now* compare personal stories and accumulate empirical facts - separate from the polluted channels of law school PR.

      And the "law" schools are going to (finally) reap the whirlwind.

      Delete
    3. I agree, it's a systematic change in our technology that allowed this movement to flourish. I agree we are probably in the early stages. How schools like Cooley law can fill there classrooms now is beyond me.

      Delete
  36. Oh God! Some sick animal just left a huuuuuuuuuge "Seton Hall Law" sticking out of the office toilet! The janitor keeps flushing and flushing but it won't go down!

    ReplyDelete
  37. O'Brien is the Angelo Mozillo of the subprime JD business, minus the tan and gold.

    ReplyDelete
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