Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A lawyer's story

Alex, as I will call him, was a student I remembered.  One thing I'm particularly bad at is remembering students' names, but actually I'm not very good at remembering students at all.  There are so many of them, and we law faculty have so little idea of what ends up happening to almost all of them (That's not true in your case of course. Let the record reflect that you stay in touch with large numbers of your ex-students and keep close tabs on how their lives and careers are progressing, while I am a self-absorbed egomaniac projecting my inadequacies onto the many thoughtful, warm and caring law professors out there.)

But I remembered Alex.  He took three of my classes, and while he never talked much, he was the kind of student who, when he said something, let one know that he was getting what one was trying to get people to get, which is to say something that they couldn't get by just reading the material (you would be surprised, or maybe you wouldn't, by how many law school classes can go by without anyone on either side of the podium experiencing this sensation).

I even remember the paper he wrote in one class of about 50 students. It had stood out enough that after the grades were in I checked to see who had written it, because again it was the kind of thing one hopes for when setting a paper topic.  In class Alex didn't display the superficial shoot from the hip faux-brilliance of many a successful law student: he was deeper and more thoughtful than that.  Later, I was surprised to learn he was only 25 when he graduated; I would have guessed he was several years older, in the best sense of the word.

Over the years, he came to my office to talk three or four times.  It was always about something that had come up in class, that related in some unexpected and interesting way to the work he was doing.  The work he was doing was immigration law, which he cared about in a kind of focused way that stood in sharp contrast to the aimless drifting of so many "maybe I should just go to law school" types (I had very much been one of those myself, so I'm intimately familiar with the syndrome).  Colorado is a good place to do this kind of work, in the sense that it's home to many people, mostly of Mexican background, who are in various states of ambiguous residency from a legal point of view. Of course most of these people have no money, and so providing them with legal services is a challenge even in the best of times, which, given that Alex graduated from law school in 2009, in a country which finds the idea that poor people (or for that matter middle class people) should have access to legal representation too ridiculous to even bother debating, was not something that he ever came close to seeing.

In law school, Alex had done everything right. Besides getting good grades, he had taken all the right clinics, and done all the right summer internships (he won a fellowship from a national law firm to fund one of them) that someone who wanted to do what he wanted to do should have done.  He had, when he graduated, about as good a resume as it was possible for a graduate of our law school to have, for someone who wanted to do the work he came to law school to do.

It wasn't enough.  Alex wanted to do public interest law with an emphasis on immigration issues -- a job for which there is at this moment a crying need in the state of Colorado.  But there's no money for that kind of thing, so there are no jobs.  So he tried to make a go of setting up his own shop with a friend, another 2009 grad, doing a kind of hybrid of private immigration and criminal law that it's possible, at least in theory, to do in places along the Front Range that are less insulated from reality than beautiful Boulder.  He had only been at it for a few months when one fine spring morning we got an email from the dean's office, letting us know that Alex had died, a year and a day after his graduation from the law school. He was 26 years old.

I had a horrible feeling when I read that email.  For several weeks I couldn't find the courage to ask anyone in a position to know what had, as they say, "happened," but when I finally did I got the answer I knew I was going to get.

Suicide is rarely a simple thing.  The precise reasons why Alex killed himself will never be known -- I made a few inquiries, but I quickly became disgusted with the journalistic imperative to remind other people of their sorrows which is always part of getting to the bottom of this kind of story.  I never got anywhere close to there, but I did find out enough to learn it would be far too simple to say Alex killed himself because the dreams he had for his career didn't seem to be on the road to working out, and that he had spent four years of his time and talents, and a very large amount of money (we nearly doubled tuition between the time Alex applied for admission and when he graduated) in a fruitless pursuit of those dreams.  It seems to have been much more complicated than that. 

But I don't think we helped.  For mostly avoidable reasons, law school and the thought of everything after produces depression and something like despair in many of the people who undergo it, even in the best of times, which again obviously these are not.  I liked Alex a great deal, I thought well of him, and I even helped him learn a few things worth learning, but in the end I could do nothing for him -- or rather I took part in a process that, it seems, led him down a path that ended in a very dark place.

This blog -- this useless gesture which will change nothing, because nothing ever changes -- is among other things a payment for my indifference to many problems, and many people, I should have cared more about.


  1. Fine post. I dread what some of the John Galt/Tea Party types have to say. It reminded me of this story from a few years ago. I worked a few blocks away.


    1. This is not true i belive in education he killed him self for some other reason not because he couldnt find a job why didnt he go somewhere else and looked for a job if you really want something youll get it this is a stupid not real story......

  2. SAD story. If the loan debt was a factor, Alex and his partner could have styled themselves a "public interest law services" firm and according to the DOE Q&A (24), working for 10 years and doing the IBR would have resolved his loans. The law firm does not even have to be a formal 501c3 organization just "a public interest law service" which is sounds like. Yes, they would technically have to be a "non-profit" firm but that doesn't prohibit paying employees.
    Your column is fantastic in highlighting this issue.
    I shudder reading the comments from attorneys who do not know even the basics of IBR or PSLF yet opine on it. I've had a crash course in it so as to advise my son who will have a soul crushing $120K in debt when he graduates from law school.
    Keep up the good work.
    I'm posting anonymous just in case some of the denser commenters are hiring officials in federal agencies.

  3. That is a heartbreaking story, LawProf. Have you heard how his erstwhile law partner is doing?

  4. As a psychologist, my training tells me that the biggest risk factor for suicide is feeling hopeless. That is why I really worry about all of the grads now who are coming out with $200k in debt and very little prospects of employment - long term. I'd feel hopeless too.

  5. I am an avid reader of this blog. Campos has much to say that needs to be said. But I assume the good professor intends to go right on cashing his paycheck and serving as a member of the CU law faculty? Perhaps to expect a grander gesture is unrealistic (I have bills to pay, too) and even unfair. But seriously, Professor Campos: Having identified the problem so perceptively, do you intend to go on serving as one the highly-compensate beneficiaries of the "scam"?

  6. Thank you for sharing this. I have to wonder how often something similar happens with law grads unable to find decent work, but I guess there's no way to know. It's no secret that people kill themselves when they become convinced that there is no other acceptable option. Being reduced to peonage after three years of hard work that was supposed to lift you into the upper-middle class would certainly seem to be enough to make many people reconsider whether life is worth living. Very, very sad.

  7. Law can be stressful. In a previous job I would regularly come down to the lobby of the skyscraper in which our offices were situated to find colleagues in tears. Never mind the live-in-the-office lifestyle a lot of my colleagues were going through, and the merry-go-round of (fireable) office affairs that resulted from keeping young men and women in an office 14 hours a day. No, the real stress came from knowing that a minor or non-existant slip up could lose you your job because they could always replace you.

    Now I work in-house, I miss the variety that came with private practice, I miss the biling and the target-chasing. But I don't miss the stress.

  8. You miss the billing???? Wow....different strokes for different folks.

  9. How many of you reading this have lost inspiration in most everything following law school?

    How many of you saw the bright hope of possibility and opportunity slowly be chipped away after the first year realities kicked in?

    Did you feel compelled to keep going after your first year because the desire to finish and get any degree at the time would allow you at the very least achieve something in the academic sense? The prospect of quitting with only a bachelor's and/or master's degree and one year of law school debt seemed crazy, right?

    Then the market crashed. Then the realities of the internships, the fraud within the US News employment stats, the rank of your school, the unspoken hierarchical system, the "who you know philosophy" trumping "what you know." the fruitless variations of your resume that might "sell" you better, the first unemployment deferment for 6 months, then the next unemployment for the next 6 months, then the next deferment, the reality of the 3 year deferment window for each loan being used of, "what if the market crashes again if it ever recover", "how will one defer then?", more news reports on a double-dip recession, no jobs produced last month, only a few interviews out of thousands of applications and interviews for what has now been years on the calendar, unemployment projected to be above 8% until 2016, can you hold out that long?, will you make it?, a life wasted, decades of debt, sorrow mounts, anger builds.....

    This, my good friends, is what lurks in the background of your every thought. As you try to enjoy yourself through books, movies, music, etc, your mind...that logical, well-honed mind...anchors you to an alarming reality that rises to the surface in each and everything thing you do. As much as you try, there is no escape from this reality.

    As the outward hope and energy of an earlier time contracts inward, the uncertainty of implosion or explosion hangs in the balance.

    Critical mass awaits you at some point in these many months ahead. Don't suffer in silence. Let us see who you are.

  10. Another unreal story from MSNBC about someone who had a decent legal career and had to turn to strip dancing to pay her loans after she was laid off. And our elected leaders and education industry folks continue to ignore and deflect the issue.

    Another case for why bankruptcy protection or debt jubilee is appropriate but politically beyond our grasp


  11. anonymous @7:56 -

    That's a reasonable question, if posed in good faith. Could it be possible that Campos feels he would have more of an effect working to change things from the inside rather than from without.

    Now, if he does believe that - which he may not - it may or may not be self-delusion or simple rationalization. Only he can really know that.


  12. 7:10,

    First, it is unfortunate that you chose to take a truly tragic story and immediately try to politicize it.
    Second, the "John Galt/Tea Party" types would be the first to condemn the massive influence of the Federal Government in the student loan scandal.

  13. @8:37 - ding ding ding. Sorry that the description struck a chord with you. And if you haven;t read this blog lately it has been infested lately with dreck trying to politicize everything. Calling out people who attempt to politicize the tragic is not the same as politicizing....just sayin'

  14. Campos, please keep up the good work. Your blog has the virtue of being both academic and human, grasping the realities of the world beyond before/during/after law school. The Brian Leiters of the world are threatened that someone on the inside has pulled away the curtain. I can almost envision a caricature of him tugging furiously on the curtain drawstrings as the proverbial sunlight shines through upon his "Morlock" existence.

  15. I feel for "Alex." I fear I may become him. In the middle of the night I go over how much of my life isn't mine, and how little freedom from debt each paycheck buys. It makes me feel cold inside. If my parents and siblings were not so close, and so loving, I wouldn't have any reason to continue this farce. I'd fall off the grid until I couldn't, and then fall in to the void.

  16. 7:56 = A law professor who has been repeatedly trying to marginalize and shut down this blog.

    His argument is tantamount to a company telling a whistleblower, "why did you work here if you think we're doing unethical things?"

    It's a revoltingly dishonest critique with hidden and sinister motive.

  17. 8:26, good news for the law professors who scammed her in law school is that, now they get to degrade her in person by waiving $5 bills at her as they demand that she "take dem off."

  18. If my parents and siblings were not so close, and so loving, I wouldn't have any reason to continue this farce.

    This is important. Emotional isolation leads one off the cliff.

  19. The thing that I hope most people realize is that this type of depression is not caused solely by financial worries. It is also the vicious attitudes of 95% of the people involved - even the TTT students with $200 grand in debt. I've been around long enough to see how we treat each other along every rung of the ladder and it is pretty ugly and disgusting. Its this strange subculture where school rank and firm rank are something to hold over the heads of others - where these things matter more than somebody's comportment or knowledge or personality or even looks. A trade where associates being treated like dogs and temp attys are treated even worse are the norm. Nobody gives a fuck about anyone else until it gets to an armageddon point and even then its behind anonymous postings on a blog.

    Sadly, from experience, I am sure most of these people who are so vulnerable and in debt today would sit happily in their own shit if the roles were reversed and take full advantage of the vulnerable.

    Treat each other better, stop giving respect to people who have all the power and treat others poorly (start making life difficult and uncomfortable for those people instead) and maybe things will change.

    I am now going to go sing kumbaya in a circle of one....

  20. To 8:50:
    7:56 here. No, I'm not a law professor. And, in fact, I have recommended this blog to a number of my friends who are law professors.
    Your whistle-blower analogy poses a question about the past. Why *did* you work here? My question is about the future: Does Campos intend to continue to collect a pay check funded by the victims of what he himself has termed a scam? As he has noted, legal academic salaries have increased dramatically in recent years (not as dramatically as tuition, but...)
    Terming my questions "revoltingly dishonest" is, of course, no response at all. You'll note I also acknowledged that Campos, like most of us, needs to earn a living. Maybe that is a sufficient answer. But I think the question is worth posing (again): This blog performs an important service. Is that enough?

  21. As a refugee from academia, I do often wonder how faculty can live with themselves--especially the faculty who express revulsion toward the extractions the system makes while offering nothing in return.

    I imagine "Alex" felt less "hopeless" than just used up and wasted.

  22. Hang in there, 8:48. We want you to be here to witness the moment when the bubble collapses.

  23. It's revoltingly dishonest, 7:56, because you are lying when you claim to support this blog. If you supported it, you would not be pushing for the person who wrote it to lose his job. This is exactly what Brian Leiter tried to do and it is how criminal conspirators normally respond when one of their own tries to blow the scam.

    Your true and sinister intentions are to find some way to shut this blog down, because you don't want people talking about how law school is a scam. You don't want people talking about how students lives are destroyed by the law school scam. You don't want people talking about how students killed themselves over the grief of being victimized by an institution they trusted. You want LawProf and this blog to go away.

    That is your goal and you're on here every day trying to contrive ways to distract the discussion onto that goal.

  24. To 8:50 again (7:56 here again): Unfortunately, I think few law professors read this blog now that the initial furor has abated. No doubt some who were already troubled by the issues raised here continue to check in. But my sense is that most of the tenured overclass views this as beneath their notice. Which surely is part of the problem. IMO, reform isn't going to come from within the academy. And the ABA is essentially powerless to change its loose accreditation standards (per its antitrust agreement with DOJ).

  25. He certainly looks like a morlock.

  26. 9:18 (7:56 again): I have practiced law for about 20 years. I was a law professor for ~ 2 years, but quit very recently, largely because of the issues Campos raises here. My practice experience gives me the option of paying my mortgage a different way -- an option that I acknowledge (for the third time) Campos may not possess.
    No, you have no way of verifying any of the claims above. No skin off my nose if you don't. But I assure you, I am no enemy of this blog.

  27. @7:56 a.m.:

    I worked in the aviation field before going to law school (and God willing, shall again very soon). The received wisdom of decades of fatal accidents was that there is almost never just one mistake that leads to a plane falling out of the sky, but an entire chain of mistakes producing an unrecoverable emergency. To me, the same wisdom applies to the present situation for law graduates now.

    Employment reporting has probably always hidden a lot of people working in non-legal jobs, or jobs with low salaries because they were part-time baristas with a "solo practice," et cetera. Law schools have always been almost worthless in teaching their graduates how to function in a legal marketplace of any kind, and have always poorly served the bottom 90% of the class with their career development offices. Tuition has outpaced inflation for almost every other service or good in the broader economy. The U.S. Government has lent to students without regard to whether their schools have helped put them in a position to repay their debts, and would rather just absorb the loss through IBR than dictate terms to schools. Add in the legal market's worst recession in living memory, and suddenly it's an unrecoverable emergency for today's law graduates. At most, law professors can affect one or two of these categories of problems.

    Something else we do in aviation that's appropriate to mention here: FAA and NTSB offer anonymity and amnesty to those who report non-fatal errors, in the hopes that such reports will highlight trouble in the system and permit procedural or mechanical correction before that trouble becomes a fatal error. If FAA and NTSB waited for entirely blameless parties to bring up system issues, the skies would be far less safe than they currently are.

  28. @9:23: Fair points and well put. But do they mean Campos can go on collecting a 6-figure salary for life (he's tenured, after all) because he started this blog? I'm not suggesting he should be penalized; but as an ethical matter, should he stay on the gravy train?

  29. @8:37

    I think you totally misapprehend the nature of Galtian/Teatard opposition to government involvement in student loans. They would prefer that a) private industry be the only student lender, and b) the federal government play no role in regulating that lending. I doubt very much that the Galtian/Teatard vision of the ideal student loan market would be an improvement over what we currently have.

  30. Squid Vicious....no they would blame the victime for taking out these loans and not favor the things that gave some hope to the hopeless....and call IBR an entitlement program. Capiche?

  31. This made me cry... I know some students
    who graduated on 19th December 2008 (Miserable winter's storm)& the Spring of

    May he rest in Peace...

  32. @9:29

    I fail to see how the protest resignation of ethical, concerned law professors will improve the current legal education system. Unless a significant majority of law professors engage in some sort of coordinated protest resignation, we'd end up with a system in which the few people within the system shining a light on its abuses are now outside the system. What does that achieve?

    Of course, if Prof. Campos and his fellow protestors (assuming there are any), are not actively addressing these issues from within the system and merely blogging about them, then perhaps the calls for "ethical resignations" are appropriate. As a mere reader of the blog, it's hard to make that call. Given the Professor's outspokenness, however, I'm inclined to believe that he is engaging in action as well as rhetoric.

  33. as an ethical matter, should he stay on the gravy train?

    IMO, this blog does more good (has more influence) being written by a current law professor than it would if written by a former law professor. So I think he should stay on the "gravy train."

  34. @9:29 a.m.:

    In what other career field would one expect a whistle-blower to quit, simply because he identifies problems endemic to the industry?

    Does it seem right to you that a voice for reform should be compelled by ethics to resign, only to be replaced by someone else who will be far less concerned about these problems until tenure is made?

  35. I think the first thing that has to happen is a radical change in American legal education. This will probably be some form of contraction (lopping off a few tiers of law schools) or changing the cost and time commitment of legal education.

    The student loan debts will be a lose/lose. Students who gave their lives as collateral will be ruined spiritually and economically. Everyone else will lose because taxpayers will eat the debt.

    All we'll have to show for all this is fancy empty law school buildings and (formerly) well-paid faculty and staff.

    Once we finally change the schools (if and when that happens), we really have no solutions for the broken lives left in its wake.

    I feel like a relief/support organization for people struggling personally and financially with post law school life would be a great thing. If nothing else to let people know there are others in the same boat and to help people avoid a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

  36. Can you people please stop letting the law professor distract the conversation? This is such a ridiculous rhetorical tactic.

    "Don't look at the kid who killed himself because of the law school scam. Rather, ask yourself if whistleblowers should lose their jobs."

    I guarantee you he is a law professor, administrator or someone otherwise interested in keeping the law school scam going, possibly you know who.

    Further, retaliation against a whistleblower is completely illegal and against the law for good reason, so his point has ZERO merit morally or legally.

  37. It's great to get a window into the depraved minds of people like 7:56/9:29.

    Imagine how badly his neural network must be askew when, in response to a whistleblower pointing out how kids die from the scam, his first reaction is to retaliate against the whistleblower by terminating his employment!

    I'm pretty sure he is a certain gentleman whose first name rhymes with tryin.

  38. He is not a classic whistleblower because he can;t lose his position and because he still directly and inarguably directly profits from the scam...that being said, this is not the thread to discuss it and enough already - some people believe he should quit while others think he can do more good from his position. We got it. Endlessly restating the same points does nothing but distract from the original post.

  39. And asking whether someone has an ethical obligation to disassociate from a fraud is "retaliation" how, exactly? I get the argument that Campos' resignation would do no good (which I think is likely true). But I don't get the claim that anyone who has posted today is calling for Campos to be fired. The question was whether he ought to be comfortable continuing to earn his living from a school that will graduate other "Alexes." So far most commenters think the service Campos is performing justify his position. I think that's reasonable, although I'm not sure I agree.
    (I'm Brian Leiter and I approved this message... JK.)

  40. No, he is a classic whistleblower. How many times does someone have to explain to you that it is ILLEGAL AND IMMORAL to terminate someone for whistleblowing? How does your perverted brain not understand that? How does your warped brain respond to a story about a student losing his life due to your scam, by responding that the person who wrote that story should lose his job?

  41. Brian Leiter, is that you?

  42. @9:46 a.m.:

    Retaliation is illegal, but it happens all the time. There's always some reason to pass over a whistle-blower for promotion, or transfer them to a less geographically desirable office, or comb through their emails and correspondence for anything that might be deemed unprofessional.

    Tenure is a stout fortress, and maybe Campos was never looking for more advancement within the system. But let's not doubt that he's marginalized himself in the Academy, and few law school program heads or administrators are going to go out of their way to help him in the future.

  43. By the way, congratulations, you achieved your goal of taking the discussion away from the kid who lost his life due to the law school scam, and moving it onto whether LawProf should lose his job because he whistleblew. You must be really proud of yourself that you prevented that poor dead kid from getting any sort of a memorial.

  44. ENOUGH ALREADY...god I hate law students/lawyers. How many times can you restate the same fucking point over and over again?

  45. @9:50: If you think I called for Campos' termination, then I don't think anything I write here is going to advance this discussion. I neither said, nor implied, any such thing.

  46. You hit on one of the most aggravating aspects of all this: that there are socially useful things lawyers (especially newer grads) could be doing that aren't being done because there's no funding for it. Think of all the people touched by the mortgage bubble fallout. Do you think those people could have used a little representation?

  47. "You hit on one of the most aggravating aspects of all this: that there are socially useful things lawyers (especially newer grads) could be doing that aren't being done because there's no funding for it. "

    No no no no. Stop right there. This is the entire flaw with law school and legal academics - they do not understand very basic supply and demand.

    There are lots of useful things that ALL professions could be doing if there was funding. Chefs could be cooking you personal healthier meals. Doctors could be giving you more health checkups and treatment. Dentists could be giving you more inspections and fillings. Mechanics could inspect your car more and fix it sooner. I could go on and on for pages. The reason these service providers don't do these very useful and helpful things is because the public decides how they want to spend their money, and they choose to spend it elsewhere.

    If your suggestion is that the government hand out money so that lawyers can provide their useful service, even though other service providers don't get such a benefit, then I can't even begin to tell you all the things that are wrong with that.

  48. Are we even reasonably sure why this young man killed himself? This seems to take enormous liberties with the life of a person we don't know. Even the person who writes about him probably did not know him well enough to know his real history.

  49. @10:29.

    Thanks for the obfuscation, Nick Nalyor.

    Link text

  50. @10:08 - I would argue that legal services, necessary to ensure our constitutional protections, should be made more available to all, even the poor, and should be placed in a special class. The same for health care.

  51. @7:56 and the entire comment trail thereafter:

    I am a law professor. I read this thread. I think about this question all the time. It is a perfectly valid question--and one that I think that every professor of conscience needs to ask him or herself.

    If all the people who believed that law school has scam-like qualities quit academia, law schools would be run by the Brian Leiters of the world. This is not a good outcome, and would be counterproductive.

    That balances with this: I do not know that I can take the psychic strain of taking money from students who can ill afford it. It is also also not clear to me that I can separate my own prerogatives from what is right for my students with the kind of clear thinking that is necessary, as my livelihood (and daily interactions with colleagues) are on the line.

    I believe (I am an optimist) that things will get better. But as a purely pragmatic matter, I am not sure I can take five or ten years of this. Five years times 90 students is a lot of psychic debt to incur.

  52. One of the most disappointing things about the scamblogs has been that some of them (not all) are focused so much on just scoring points against schools and professors, and aren't that concerned about producing tangible positive results.

    One area where this is particularly clear is when you see posts and comments anticipating large numbers of young lawyer suicides. It's as though they're almost hoping for the suicides because it will give them a great talking point and help them win the debate.

    What I'd like to see, from the scamblogs, Campos, and all the hang-wringing professors, is some real steps towards helping people out there who are struggling to get by. If all you can come up with "just teach the very best I can," then you're not trying very hard. Same goes for scambloggers who refuse to look beyond raising awareness. Someone who's drowning in debt, barely able to scrape by on menial unskilled jobs doesn't give a rat's ass who wins the debate.

  53. 10:40: FWIW I mostly agree with your take on this issue, although I'm not as confident that things will get significantly better, and I don't understand the last sentence of your third paragraph.

  54. BL1Y, you run a blog. Why don't you do the things you recommend? Hypocrite a-hole.

  55. BL1Y and all the other do-nothings;

    Nobody ever does anything except complain and wait for someone else to do something about it. Been going on for years and years. All pathetic. I'm going to be at the massive protest on Wall Street on Sept 17th...and I work at a Biglaw firm with A LOT to lose and still a shitload of law loans to repay. Im loud and obnoxious about all the problems discussed in these pages to the people that deserve it....what ARE YOU doing besides complaining? Even when they have nothing to lose and everything to gain they sit on the sidelines and do nothing....

  56. @BL1Y

    That was my point about the ease with which we take liberties with this young man's life... to claim to know exactly what was on his mind so that his tragic end can be appropriated for an argument. There are, without doubt, people who killed themselves because they are despondent over debt, the loss of loved ones, and a host of other precipitating events. There are usually a host of factors that come into play. Even the post itself disclaims knowledge of the reason for the suicide and said that the little information uncovered suggested things were more complicated than that. It was some of the comments that assumed the answer was clear.

  57. You sure that's wise 10:56? Don't risk your job.

  58. @10:59 - its because of people like you that nothing ever changes and people with any power in the law abuse the ones below them. So sick of your attitude...

  59. link to this protest?

  60. 10:59 again, I posted this earlier and it didn't show up. But the other tragedy of Alex's life is that what he wanted to do should be supported as the valuable work it is. Yes, the poor deserve legal services. The market alone should not determine people's rights and access to our legal system. This is a political question and, as someone said, voters so far have decided we can't afford it. I think that's wrong. But the other side has won that point, so far.

  61. "No no no no. Stop right there. This is the entire flaw with law school and legal academics - they do not understand very basic supply and demand."

    (Typical "free market" blather follows)

    "Socially useful"...do you know what that means? It means its utility can't be defined in terms of monetary profit and loss. Just like a whole host of services the government provides that enrich the lives of the citizenry.

    Your entire worldview has been warped by Wall Street thinking.

  62. 10:08: No, government not needed, there *is* funding from private equity and the like for good projects exactly like the ones you describe (save perhaps the chef meals). Immigration clinics or firms or whathaveyou, I'm guessing, could easily get PRIVATE funding from wealthy immigrants to America, i.e. George Soros or Arianna Huffington or whomever (I just named the two really really rich immigrants that popped into my head; read no politics into it). Public need not spend money.

    What *may* have happened to "Alex" is that is what he really, truly *wanted* to do. But the way the legal education scam is set up now, instead he had to concentrate on bullshit motions in criminal county court with prosecutors and defense attorneys who could give two shits because they have already been browbeated by the legal system, just to pay his debts. He looked around and looked at all of the cycical, useless, terrible, lying colleagues, then looked at the situation as hopeless. Which is the tragedy beyond someone losing his life, because the situation is not hopeless. Even the memory of someone like this can drive those who feel the dispair to not give in, and see what truly can be accomplished. Fuck those who are sitting in admissions offices and tall buildings who are trying to prevent you from doing what you want to do.

  63. ""Socially useful"...do you know what that means? It means its utility can't be defined in terms of monetary profit and loss."

    Ohhhhh. How convenient that the thing you want to sell has value that can't be defined monetarily. And let me guess, the taxpayers should pay for you to provide this value. I see.

    Wow. Just wow.

  64. 10:40,
    How interesting it is that you see this problem from a perspective of how much "psychic" debt you can incur. I assure you, in order to ensure your "prerogatives" and cordial "daily interactions" with your colleagues, your students are incurring both real and psychic debt. It's not about you, dear.

  65. "Ohhhhh. How convenient that the thing you want to sell has value that can't be defined monetarily. And let me guess, the taxpayers should pay for you to provide this value. I see."

    I don't know if you've noticed, but there's a shitload of people out of work. If we can afford to bail out the banks and invest in Afghanistan's infrastructure, we can damn well afford to put our most educated citizens to work.

  66. No. We talked about this in another thread. The educated class is meek and pathetic and has zero lobbying ability to get government funded jobs.

    Obama is pushing a 450 billion plan to give manual laborers jobs that will cost the government about $250k each (see for the $250k number http://www.zerohedge.com/news/cost-obamas-stimulus-plan-312500-job-vote-created-or-saved-and-guess-who-paying-it )

    Lots of other groups rape the government with entitlements. But the educated class is too nerdy and pathetic to get anything of serious value out of the government.

  67. People probably won't admit to this, but retribution, or "scoring points" is the reason the already-scammed are involved in scamblogs. We can say it's about saving the next generation from our fate, but that's not it. It's about seeing the day when the law professors are finally made to suffer. Ideally by the loss off their jobs, but we'll settle for a loss of their status and prestige. Campos is helping to deliver that, which is why we love him.

  68. Some retribution. Reminds me of that South Park episode when Butters sprays the world with aerosol to drain the ozone layer. lol.

    There are people who matter, who can deliver real retribution and they get what they want. Manual labor types who will riot if they're not acquiesced get $250k from the government for a job, in a $450 billion package that Obama is pushing today. Wall street gets a trillion dollar bailout because if they didn't get it they would destroy the economy. Retirees get trillions per year because they and their lobby would destroy any politician who tried to take it away. That's called being someone who matters.

    Then you have the pathetic and meek 20 something educated crowd. They do not matter and their only protest is to kill themselves in depression.

    Sorry to say it but it's true.

  69. For the guy asking for a link to the sept 17th protest - just google september 17 wall street anonymous. Google is your friend.

  70. @11:26 - if you stopped couching your arguments with the politically loaded term, "entitlements", and just used "political power" or some other neutral term it would not fall on deaf ears while also being more intellectually honest.

  71. So calling an entitlement something other than what it is, for your (falsely) perceived rhetorical benefit is "intellectually honest." I don't think intellectual honesty means what you think it means.

    Call it political power or whatever you want, but the bottom line is 20 something educated types have none of it.

    Do you know what would get the student loan problem fixed in a few weeks? Mass and destructive riots by 20 somethings. That would be all over the news, it would horrify everybody and it would cause the government to do something the next day. Do you know why this will never happen? Because the 20 something educated crowd are a bunch of little bitches. You're the same nerds who got picked on in high school, the same meek kids in college who were studying hard, and now you're grown up version.

  72. I've read this blog with great interest, and I mostly agree with its purposes and precepts. Moreover, I don't doubt that career disappointment and debt could be contributing factors to a person's depression. However, I think it a bit much to lay even partial blame for a suicide at the feet of law professors. Combat is by any sane metric far more traumatic than anything law students or lawyers go through (even if the lawyer has an unfulfilling job), and a lot of veterans kill themselves. Is that the drill sergeant's fault? Many factors contribute to a person's decision to commit suicide, but we've always recognized that in the end only one person is genuinely responsible for that choice--the person who made it. Call me a cruel Ayn Rand desciple if you want, but if a person isn't responsible for their own self-inflicted death, what exactly is a person responsible for?

  73. No dum dum, I don;t think you know what entitlement means. The way you are using it pretty much describes the entire budget of the US. Defense spending? An entitlement to the defense industry. Infrastructure spending? An entitlement to labor and contractors. And on and on and on....what you are describing is govt spending. When you just describe it as some entitlement extracted from the govt you are missing the much larger picture and using a politically loaded term either ignorantly or rhetorically.

  74. The solution is to riot.

  75. @10:49/10:56: I've written quite a bit of bar prep material, and posted it online for free. Not exactly life altering, but it's probably helped a couple people (and is most likely to help someone who can't afford BarBri or other expensive courses). I'm working on more comprehensive bar review materials, but that's a long term project.

    I also spend a bit of time helping law-school-by-default types figure out what they're going to do with their lives. I'm a bit limited by the number of people who write in seeking advice, and my own ability to give it, but I do what I can on that front.

    So, that's what I'm doing besides complaining. And, I've just finished the first draft of a book (not law related, thank God), and now I'm shopping for an agent. When I'm further along in the process I'll be writing a bit about that, which will hopefully be useful to the many lawyers and law students out there who'd rather be writing or doing some other creative work instead.

    If you look at a blog like TTR, do you get any sense of what Nando is doing to make his own situation any better? Where are the scambloggers brainstorming and sharing advice about how to get themselves out of the mess?

  76. Did I list defense spending as an entitlement? No I listed these things:

    * $250k stimulus jobs that Obama is pushing right now in a $450 billion bill, that was pushed soon after "coincidentally" Hoffa gave a speech to union folks in which he essentially threatened violence. That's power.

    * trillions per year to nearly a hundred million people because they happened to reach age 65, at a per capita cost of $50k.

    * welfare to inner city families to keep them from rioting.

    * a trillion to wall street because they looked Paulson and Bush in the eye and threatened to devastate the economy.

    These are groups with POWER and they extract huge entitlements from the government in the form of direct handouts. 20 something educated types are a bunch of pathetic and meek nothings that the government is not afraid of as a voting block, as a rioting force or in any other way. That's why the entitlement given to some drunken union bum is $250,000 handout so he can "work" where as the entitlement given to you is a $200,000 nondischargeable loan that law schools con you out of by way of fraudulent statistics.

    Just telling it like it is. As a group 20 something educated types have zero power. You are the picked on nerds of the modern American society.

  77. Here's Hoffa's speech given a few days before Obama introduced this $450 billion $250k for each union job bill.


    Do you think the timing was a coincidence? No, he was telling tea party typs that if you stand in the way of this $450 billion handout we will fight. And it scared the shit out of the tea party who quickly dropped their aggressive style and pleaded for apologies.

  78. I totally agree with what your main point is but the way you're describing an "entitlement" would include defense spending....its simply how govt works.

  79. No it wouldn't. Entitlement does not mean government spending. It means government subsidies. Those are two entirely different things, you idiot.

  80. This is the Biglaw atty who will be attending the Sept 17 protest...and yes, sadly, 11:46 is right. The only answer is to riot. Need I list the ways you have been screwed? Ive been at this for awhile and at many different levels...the powers that be aren;t changing a goddamn thing. If you just sit on your asses crying about it and blogging your troubles away and do nothing then you deserve the fate handed to you.

  81. Actually, an entitlement is a benefit granted by the government which the government no longer has the ability to revoke or rescind.

  82. HAHAHAH - so subsidies aren't spending? Interesting. I learn something new every day. Already anticipating your next dopey argument/point.....3,2,1.....

  83. Yes, let's have a semantics debate. Just like pathetic nerds did in highschool as they hid from the real world.

  84. An entitlement can be revoked at any time by an act of congress.

  85. "This is the Biglaw atty who will be attending the Sept 17 protest...and yes, sadly, 11:46 is right. The only answer is to riot."

    But would you agree that someone whose temperament is to study in highschool, and study in college so they can get into graduate school, would you agree that such a person does not have the temperament to riot or to fight or to organize and lobby in any serious way?

  86. Actually, BL1Y, Obama was on the verge of not paying Social Security just a month ago, but this is in no way the first time you've said something completely wrong and idiotic on here.

  87. I'm trying to understand what we are to take away from this post.

    (1) A hardworking, passionate public interest-oriented law student was unable to get a job in an underfunded field. (I sympathize, btw: I was on the (brutal) public interest immigration law rights job market in 2011, too, and did not secure a position in that field.) It is a fair point to call attention to the difficulties faced by public interest-oriented law students who managed to stay true to their passion whilst surrounded by students pursuing financial gain. This economy has been especially cruel to students/attorneys who have stood ready to make extreme financial sacrifices in order to fight for the rights of the underprivileged - and in many cases, haven't even been able to find a job that will pay them 30-50K a year to do so. To me, this is the only clear point of this post.

    (2) Prof. Campos seems to feel that law professors, himself included, should be more involved in the lives of their students. I'm very much on board with this idea, but I'm not clear how this story fits into that. It sounds like Campos engaged this student on the 3-4 occasions he came to office hours, and it also sounds like the student liked Campos' teaching enough to play repeat customer. It's thus not entirely clear to me what Campos feels he should have done differently - perhaps he should have sought out the student to let him know how high-quality a paper he had written? Tried to help him get a job? Corresponded with him after graduation despite no indication that the student had initiated (or desired) such contact? I don't understand exactly how Campos intends to fit the (laudable) theme that professors should mentor their students with this story.

    (3) The suicide seems to me to be an inflammatory red herring, given that the post itself concedes that the suicide was "much more complicated" than Alex's inability to find a post in immigration law. In fact, the post "vagues out" whether Alex's suicide had ANYTHING to do with his career difficulties to such an extent that I'm inclined to conclude the two things may have been unrelated. (The most Campos can say is, "I don't think we helped.") I don't understand what this is supposed to mean: "...or rather I took part in a process that, it seems, led him down a path that ended in a very dark place." The post does not make clear that law school was linked to the "very dark place" in which this attorney landed. The post seems to intend that we take a leap of faith to conclude that the stresses of unemployment and inability to (immediately) pursue his professional dream led him to commit suicide ... even as it explicitly states that Campos was unable to confirm that anything remotely like that narrative occurred.

  88. @12:05 - you seriously overestimate the bookishness of lawyers. And in any case, they deserve the fate they'll get if they fail to act.

  89. "Mass and destructive riots by 20 somethings"

    Or just a particularly powerful group catering to the student/recent graduate age group. You don't see the elderly rioting in the streets, yet social security is pretty well enshrined. However, we won’t ever see a large, influential group lobbying for the economic needs of 18-30 year old citizens for two reasons.

    First, the "activists" in our age group who should be out organizing other young people to fight for their own economic well-being are more concerned with bullshit social issues and advocating for the poor and unions or the downfall of capitalism. In other countries these student leaders come from the left, but the left here is still fighting the battles of the 1960s/1970s and tends to treat the support of young people as a given. Anyway, I’ve known some leftist organizers in the past and while they have great intensity for their chosen political positions, they are not the types of people who would be good leaders because they were rejected by their peers (which is why they spend 100% of their time talking and caring about politics).
    There is a smaller subset of 20-something activists on the right but in my experience they are just as fanatical and partisan. They are also the types of people to call their own peers "whiners," before they would lift a finger to help. They, like the leftist activists, are totally unconcerned with the welfare of the 18-30 crowd and the long-term economic viability of this country. They are utterly focused on fighting the right-wing Boomer generation's battles to roll back the left's victories in the 60s/70s.
    Neither persuasion of current youth “activist” is anyone I or my friends would want to listen to or follow. They are the people who elicit groans and snarky comments when they raise their hands in class to speak because their comments are inevitably some variation of “fuck corporations” or “free-market cures all ills.”

    Second, although our generation has often been called more moderate than the Boomers, in my experience the great mass of 20-somethings are not liberal, conservate, or moderate, they just don't give a shit. Either they have no interest in getting involved in the clusterfuck that is American politics, or they simply do not know enough about the issues or can’t seem to figure out how they could use politics to change the system.
    Most political battles in this country are fought to convince middle-class 40-60 year old suburbanites to vote D or R. The Democrats make no attempt to seriously address the issues facing the 18-30 crowd because they take our support for granted and the Republicans make no effort to change their party platform to attract us.

  90. If you want to see the power of the elderly, see Perry's apologetic behavior after he called social security a ponzi scheme.

  91. And elderly people vote, and young people do not. If young people became a reliable voting block, they would not have to riot any more than AARP folks have to riot to get what they want.

  92. Speaking of rioting, considering checking out Christopher Buckley's Boomsday; the younger generations trash golf courses in protest of social security debt.

  93. In the immortal words of Johnny Cash:
    "You can run on for a long time,
    Run on for a long time,
    You can run on for a long time,
    But sooner or later God'll cut you down.
    Sooner or later God will cut you down."
    Karma is nasty, and the perpetrators of the law school scam willl eventually reap what they sow when the bubble bursts and the mass defaults and law suits start coming. I just hope that it doesn't result in violence, but I fear someday that one of the people whose lives were ruined by law school will go that route instead of the route Alex took. Rest in peace, Alex.

  94. @ 10:56,

    Fucking amen. I too am loud and obnoxious. I TELL ANYONE WHO WILL LISTEN ABOUT THE SCAM. On my school of law's facebook page I CONSTANTLY POST ABOUT THE SCAM.

    (Needless to say the admini$tration quickly $ilences me. Can't have the class of 2014 too scared. They need their tuition checks).

  95. Why wait until Sept. 17? I say we riot right now!

  96. Resigning in protest is not the sort of thing that would help someone like Alex, I have to say. The reason someone like Alex winds up where he did is because the interests of schools, and, yes, faculty, do not line up with the interests of students.

    Tie the fates of faculty/students together, is my feeling. Give law/grad students more money & security, or professors less. Take capital from the law profession and give it to law schools. ensure that failure to get a $200k job out of law school doesn't ruin someone's life.

    Law school should not be an altar on which half of all students are sacrificed to firms, I guess is my feeling.

  97. When I was in my third year of law school, a class mate took his own life. When my wife was in her third years, a 2L took her own life.

    Whether it was the stress of law school for these two students, or issues with employment and debt repayment for "Alex" are irrelevant. The fact is these people are gone and we all wish we could have said or done something to prevent it. It is a very sad thing, and I will not join the chorus questioning Prof Campos on this point.

    My heartfelt condolences to the friends and family of "Alex."

  98. 1:33: I don't think anyone has questioned the sadness of Alex's death. This is, however, a blog dedicated to questioning the law school status quo, rather than a general autobiographical blog for Professor Campos. It's thus entirely reasonable to question what relevance, if any, Alex's death has to the blog's raison d'etre.

  99. How do you overcome this problem:

  100. @12:13:

    10:56 here....thats as good an analysis of our peers that I've read (and it applies my group, the 30s, as well).

  101. @ Law Office Computing: How indeed. The law-degree page is enough to make me sick. Does anyone have a brain over there?

  102. "I think you totally misapprehend the nature of Galtian/Teatard opposition to government involvement in student loans. They would prefer that a) private industry be the only student lender, and b) the federal government play no role in regulating that lending. I doubt very much that the Galtian/Teatard vision of the ideal student loan market would be an improvement over what we currently have."

    "a" at least is the current state of affairs for post-graduate training for the legal profession in the UK, where all other education is heavily subsidised.

    Why is this? This is because legal education is, rightly in my view, seen as purely vocational - essentially just glorified trade-school.

    Finally this year it's become obvious even to the banks that the lawyer-glut has gone too far (i.e., only 30-40% of those seeking to enter the legal profession succeeding), fees have gone too high (~10% increases y-o-y), and the recession isn't going anywhere. British banks have stopped offering loans to many law students because they're no longer likely to pay them back.

    Put simply, without government assistance, law students who do not have a reasonable chance of getting in to the profession would not be lent the money to study. Problem solved.

    There's no need to conflate a call for an end to government assistance that seems counter-productive, and the removal of checks and balances preventing exploitation.

  103. I wouldn't join those saying that "Alex'" suicide has nothing to do with the purpose of this blog. My second year of law school I felt extremely isolated (all my close friends had transferred to higher-tier schools.) One thing saved me from killing myself though, my dad had committed suicide while I was in college because he was unhappy about how his life turned out, and I remember how hard it was for my family. The general law school culture combined with the financial pressure of giant debt loads does in fact cause isolation etc. and as such I don't think the purpose of this blog and the professor's post are disconnected.

  104. This comment has been removed by the author.

  105. @3:23:

    I agree with you. Sadly, people have committed suicide in the face of dischargeable debt, so this shouldn't sound so much like a red herring as someone mentioned. Yes, there are personal factors in each case, but the tentacles of this run pretty deep, and at least from my own experience exacerbated just about every other problem.

    A psychologist @7:52 AM mentioned that "the biggest risk factor for suicide is feeling hopeless. That is why I really worry about all of the grads now who are coming out with $200k in debt and very little prospects of employment - long term. I'd feel hopeless too."

    That's obviously perceptive, but the point I think is that for those who are already looking for a way forward in life, when you slam the door shut and hang $200K around their necks, they have no way to solve anything else, and not only does a career look pointless, but the persistence of other personal problems all of a sudden look permanent. And the thing is, they're really not wrong to think so, which means that those who are still with us, like you, are only restrained by the effects it would have on other people. But that gets far too close to a very dangerous line.

  106. So now anyone who lost a construction job when the housing bubble popped is a drunk cadging for 'entitlements'. Amazing what you can learn from hanging out with the nerdy types who went to law school, innit?

  107. Just when I thought some in legal academia were finally starting to recognize and appreciate the desperate and hopeless situation of their "customers," I made the mistake of reading the comment section of this blog.

    Anyone who labels Alex's story as a "red herring" has not experienced the recieving end of the law school scam. I am Alex. That is to say, my story largely mirrors that of Alex. I'm not going to go into details, but I will say that there are more hopeless, desperate -and yes, suicidal- indentured servants out there than you could possibly imagine.

    Thanks to Campos for his efforts and for this post in particular. Make no mistake, this is the human cost of the law school scam.

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

  109. As a new attorney who is still jobless, I'm facing some of those same issues Alex had. When I got into law school, I knew the job market was going to be tough. However, I didn't know it was going to be this tough. I'm working part time in a non-attorney position trying to keep my head above water.
    Of course, there were probably other things going against Alex besides the market but it's hard to ignore the economy played a part. I don't know many Alexes there are in this world but it seems to be one too many.

  110. @6:18 the one who survived:

    Oh, wow, you apparently assumed that "fucking" was the word people might find offensive. That says lots.

  111. Biglaw atty here going to the sept 17 protest - @6:18 please dig a hole, climb into it and die. Thanks.

  112. Maybe the reason that "the precise reasons why Alex killed himself will never be known" to Campos, is because he does not actually care about the reasons why. As someone who knew and loved "Alex," I find it shameful that Campos would exploit someone's suicide as a way to validate his point.

    I can't help but notice that Campos did not care about "Alex" enough to attend his memorial service, but now seems to care enough to presume that he knows the motivations behind his final act.

  113. 7:10: Given that you managed to misrepresent what I said in the original post in your second paragraph, even though you quoted my actual view in your first paragraph, and that you don't have the guts to sign your name, I'll assume you're a law professor.

  114. or a clever troll . . .

  115. There is some evidence suggesting that lawyers are more likely to commit suicide than people in other professions, and I seriously doubt high debt levels and few job options reduce that likelihood.

    "A major study conducted some 20 years ago by the National Institute for Safety and Health found that male lawyers between the ages of 20 and 64 are more than twice as likely to die from suicide than men of the same age in other occupations." http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/lawyer_personalities_may_contribute_to_increased_Suicide_risk/

  116. This post really riled up the law school establishment.

  117. @7:10:

    Let's get the easy part out of the way.

    How can you post such a comment considering the impossiblity that anyone reading this post: a) knows who "Alex" actually was; b) knew "Alex" casually; c) knew him well enough to know his deepest, darkest secrets that those closest to him did not and; d) know exactly why he took such a drastic, hopeless and final action.

    Maybe Campos did not attend his memorial service out of some feeling of guilt. How close does any law professor really come to his/her students? I would say 3-4 office hour visits would make "Alex" a bona fide acquaintance of Campos.

    As far as Alex's motivations, we all dishonor his memory by discounting the feeling of victimhood he must have felt as a result of the law school scam.

    How many suicides will it take? How many MSM articles about the bright, ambitious, public- oriented law school grad turned sugar baby/stripper/barista/bullshit law faculty research assistant do you have to read before legal academia opens its eyes?

    I think it's safe to assume, given the more realistic numbers coming in of late, that 90% of your grads can't service their debt and maintain a "middle class lifestyle," 50% of your grads can't find jobs as lawyers and almost all would have been better off not venturing into your halls in teh first place.

  118. The sad irony is that both the law school "winners" in biglaw and the "losers" both feel a similar degree (although a much different type) of misery.

  119. I think the majority of the anger over the law school scam comes from transparency and accountability. The schools represented 98% employment 9 months post-grad, but in reality the number was more like 58%. The schools represented starting salaries of $120k-$68k (private firm-public sector), but in reality the salaries were $60k-$38k.

    Is the misrepresentation of the above numbers not material to the transaction? Is the manipulation of those numbers not fraud? If actionable, are the victims out there not entitled to redress/compensation? Does cosumer protection not apply to higher education?

  120. This thread's comments remind me of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3njjD41f48

  121. How about this for a solution?


    The meek nerdy educated crowd teams up with black people to gain power over the brute manual labor / wall street (jocks) types.

  122. I think it's pretty exploitative and lousy to use some kid's suicide, a suicide which you acknowledge wasn't entirely caused by his unemployment (an unemployment which, in turn, wasn't so much caused by law school as by his choice to go into a tough field), as part of your law school-bash. As I see it, if you're so concerned about indebtedness and depression among law students, there are a couple things that you personally could do. (1) In Alex's case, you could have warned him that he was voluntarily opting into a high likelihood of unemployment and/or poverty. You could have suggested that he go to a big firm in Denver, where he could do some immigration work pro bono, saved up what he could of his $160K salaries, and then started this venture with a little more security. That's what I would do in this situation. I mean, me myself, my passion is screenwriting, but I've never thought for a moment of venturing out into the screenwriting market before I take the COA clerkship that I'll be offered in the next week, collecting my clerkship bonus, and working in Big Law for a decade. Screenwriting's just way too competitive a market to enter without some money in the bank, and so is the field you failed to caution Alex to not go into. (2) You teach at the #47 school in the country. Your employment stats are pretty poor; your school's own website says the median salary of a Colorado grad is $72,000 and that only 54% of grads get a job with a law firm, which I can't imagine is by choice. But if your school shrunk its class size by a third and got its median LSAT up from 163 to 166, your USNWR ranking would rise employers would see a Colorado degree as more meaningful and hire Colorado students at a greater rate, while applicants who were rejected would possibly move on and seek more economically pragmatic opportunities. 60 fewer students would be "scammed." Why don't you suggest this in some of the faculty meetings you attend, or pester your dean about it?

  123. 10:26,
    I think his whole point is that he could have and should have done more.

  124. Quoting 10:26,

    "You could have suggested that he go to a big firm in Denver, where he could do some immigration work pro bono, saved up what he could of his $160K salaries, and then started this venture with a little more security."

    Did you hear that LawProf? You should have just told him to go and get one of those $160k jobs.

    Spoken like an ignorant asshole law professor. Wow. Just wow.

  125. LawProf -

    This blog has value but some of the anonymous comments are hurtful, trolling, or could possibly be law professors in disguise.

    Why not remove the option to post anonymously? Why not make it so that only those with a Google account can post? Of course, this cannot eliminate the problem 100% but it will impose another roadblock for those who post comments that are hurtful, trolling, or otherwise not helpful to the discussion.

    As another option, you could self host your blog and implement a commenting system like Disqus or LiveFyre that integrates with Facebook and Twitter accounts, thereby also reducing the problem.

    I don't know what solution would work best for you but if you address this issue, I feel that the quality of comments will only increase.

    I am a law student and actually find some of the comments here to be useful. It would be nice to have some accountability for one's comments. People will be less vitriolic when they cannot hide behind anonymity.

  126. @ 10:26

    Good luck with the screenwriting - may want to try
    and avoid run-on sentences and add a few paragraph breaks when you break it big.

    I wouldn't hire you to wipe my ass after a comment like that.

  127. Remember where you asked a question a few days ago, LawProf?

    "To any law professor who happens to be reading this, let me pose a question: Have you done anything at all to signal to your school's administration, or even to your colleagues, that you find this situation unacceptable?"

    I guess the answer was, "No, unless showing up to try to paint those kids as racists counts."

  128. Screenwriters don't do paragraph breaks; there are breaks between what characters say. Of course I don't plan to have my characters talk in long condescending monologues like me.

    And yes, 11:19, if Alex had good grades and taken all the right clinics, he could have gotten a biglaw job. He also sounds like he'd be an excellent interviewer. I don't mean to suggest that any Colorado student can; indeed, the rest of my comment suggested the opposite. I just think that Alex could have.

  129. I support this blog. I think it takes real bravery for one of the professors to criticize the current system. Mr. Campos is talking about all the things that we have known were true for years, but no one was talking about it. It would have been easy to not say anything, so I applaud him.

    It is terrible that the ABA is so useless, legal education is nothing more the an expensive educational toll booth that does not do much to prepare someone to practice law. It is depressing. I was majorly depressed in law school. I just struggled to endure the three years of sheer boredom. I was lost and without a job at graduation.

    The whole experience messed with my mind, and self-confidence. It is only now, after I have had some distance from the experience, that I can appreciate how messed up it was. I went to a top 15 school, for what it is worth. Neither law schools or the ABA are looking after the best interests of graduates. There are only two types of people in the current system, predators and prey.

  130. Ultimately we don't know what caused Alex to want to end his life. The only thing that we do know with a reasonable degree of certainty is that his situation post law school certainly couldn't have HELPED and POSSIBLY contributed to his state of mind. I know this because there are many Alexes who are very despondent about their situation even though they haven't gone as far as Alex did.

  131. @10.26 - That comment is garbage. I cannot think what could possibly be going through your mind to try and write something like that unless it is a parody of the the kind of faux self-help advice out-of-touch professors give to struggling graduates.

    Yeah, Alex's life would have been much better if he had been on $160,000 P/A. In other news, scientists discover that ducks communicate via quacking, the Pope is Catholic, and bears prefer where possible to excrete in woodland surroundings. Meantime, getting such a job is highly predicated on luck and opportunity even for the highly able - something that academia in general fails to realise, even though it is also the rule in academic life.

    Here's a breakdown of how four of people I knew through my legal studies, all talented, well-connected, and pleasant, got where they are now:

    1) A very attractive young lady who became friends with a (much older, richer, and married) senior player at a major firm, invites to dinner etc., and the next thing you know they have a spot open which only she could fill.

    2) A nice guy, smart, looked around for years, but then gave in and was hired to work at his father's firm.

    3) Decent guy, older than the rest, worked a government job somewhere out of the way for a few years and then got hired from there for his connections, something he had not foreseen when he started work for the government out of sheer desperation at not finding anything elsewhere.

    Note: all of these people are hard-working, dedicated, intelligent - but the main thing was they had good luck, either through birth or otherwise. I don't at all begrudge them their positions, but I would never say to anyone "just work hard and you can get where they are", because that would simply not be true.

    Now, here's some of the people who did not succeed in making a career requiring legal qualifications after graduation:

    4) A graduate of a top university, with masters, and with a retired father in a related industry.

    5) A similar graduate, with a father working at high-level for a prominent international IP organisation.

    6) A smart, multi-lingual girl who had previous experience of working in a legal environment.

    4)-6) were also pleasant and intelligent, they just never had the kind of luck 1)-3) did. When all's said and done, that's what it comes down to - I include myself in this, since one of the reasons I was hired for my current position in IP because I speak Chinese, a language I picked up long before I knew anything about IP.

  132. 1:02am: There are only two types of people in the current system, predators and prey.

    We talk an awful lot about law school "winners" and "losers" along an axis that only seems to care about USNWR rankings and how you did during OCI, but for my money, the only real "winners" in law school are those who are able to step out of 1:02's predator-prey dichotomy by intentionally going to a lower ranked school to scoop up a full or near-full ride.

  133. Why not remove the option to post anonymously? Why not make it so that only those with a Google account can post? Of course, this cannot eliminate the problem 100% but it will impose another roadblock for those who post comments that are hurtful, trolling, or otherwise not helpful to the discussion.

    FWIW, I think this would be a positive move.

  134. This is a tragic story no matter what the reasons for Alex's choice to end his life. It's such a personal choice, and often one that seems inexplicable to others, that to try to fully understand it may be impossible.

    But because this post puts it the context of a larger question of how things might change, let me offer another target, one that I don't think is highlighted as often as others: the U.S. News and World Report rankings. Law schools, applicants, and alumni have all become beholden to this one list, compiled by a single magazine with the primary goal of increasing its readership. And the factors the rankings take into account create incentives that arguably run in the opposite direction of the interests of many commenting here. They encourage schools to provide scholarships to students with high entering GPAs and LSAT scores, many of whom (not all, of course) then go on to well-paying law firm jobs. They encourage schools to spend money on facilities, libraries, and other expenditures. They encourage schools to expand faculties to maintain good faculty-student ratios. They encourage continued publicity of faculty members' scholarly efforts to boost reputation rankings.

    And any school that decides to thumb its nose at the rankings will be rewarded with an immediate drop in applications/enrollment and calls for the dean's head from current students and alumni donors.

  135. I'm fine with anonymous comments. If you remove the option to comment anonymously, fewer people will comment, and those that want to troll this site will still do so.

  136. 1:01: As you should know, being a law student, clinics are offered in the second or third-year. With very rare exceptions (usually for people who already work at large firms looking to switch firms), the only thing that matters for big firm hiring is 1L grades. It's quite probable that "Alex" didn't exceptionally well in the required 1L curriculum (as you would need exceptional grades to get a 160K job out of Colorado), but *gasp* believed that his desire to practice a certain kind of law would help him get better grades in 2L/3L classes on that specific practice area, and that this would lead to a promising career in that area of law. And it's possible Alex's overall good grades were attributable to his improved performance as a 2L/3L when he stopped taking those pointless 1L classes, not that the 2L/3L classes I took were much better in terms of teaching me the law.

    And as a law student, you would know that big firms care very little about clinics because the clients, matters, and work are completely different from what junior associates do. Maybe if Colorado offered "due diligence/doc review for giant corporations" clinic firms would be more likely to hire their graduates.

    And as a law student, you would know that big firm hiring is determined almost entirely by what rank of school you went to and what grades you got, and no matter how good an interviewer Alex was, someone outside the top 20% at a school ranked in the 40s, who came straight from undergrad is not getting a job paying 160K a year.

    And you would know all this because you are a law student and not an out-of-touch law professor or a paid shill for law school administrations.

  137. I think some law professor or dean has just read this article:


  138. @6.10AM - Symptoms, not the disease itself. The problem is that the people who make it possible for people to pay high fees to study law (i.e., the lenders) have no reason not to loan money, however high the fees, however worthless the qualification that eventually results from the education.

    Basically, remove government assistance to law school students, and the whole house of cards collapses - no more ever-increasing-fees, no more totally unjustifiable spending, no more students borrowing money without having a reasonable shot at getting the employment necessary to repay that money. This will happen because the lenders will then have to consider whether they will get their money back.

    Sure, rail at law schools and law professors all you like - most of the criticism that is directed at them is fair. But even if they all turned into Albert Schweizer tomorrow, the problem would still be there - the people lending the money that keeps the scam going have no interest in not doing so.

  139. I too struggled with thoughts of suicide relating to debt after I graduated. There is a feeling of hopelessness that permeates once you "did everything right" and managed to wind up with no job, no prospects and a debt load equivalent to a subprime mortgage (but no house and no way of discharging it).

    After my clerkship ended and nothing turned up, I actually sat on the couch for a good three months and literally did nothing but fantasize about ways my life could end (and applied to jobs online). Eventually, I realized that no amount of money would ever justify taking my own life. I have no co-signers on my debt. I have nothing to lose by "losing" in the law. I'm now doing doc review and comedy writing on the side and I'm moderately happy with it.

    Oh and I may have silently promised myself that I would only go out if I could take my law school with me. I'm also fueled by murderous rage, so I've got that going for me too!

  140. "Now, here's some of the people who did not succeed in making a career requiring legal qualifications after graduation:

    4) A graduate of a top university, with masters, and with a retired father in a related industry.

    5) A similar graduate, with a father working at high-level for a prominent international IP organisation.

    6) A smart, multi-lingual girl who had previous experience of working in a legal environment.

    4)-6) were also pleasant and intelligent, they just never had the kind of luck 1)-3) did."

    Did they do well in LAW SCHOOL? The school where they teach you law? I don't care about your subjective assessments of their intellect, their fathers, their undergraduate degrees, or their linguistic skills. We're talking about law jobs here.

    To 6:18, you're right; I was being careless. Clinics are besides the point. It is possible that Alex was outside the top fifth of the 47th best ranked 1L class in the country. Even though he subsequently got "good grades." If so, I think a couple things. Alex went to law school, it seems, to do immigration law, with his eyes open to the fact that it was a competitive field. No law school prints in its brochure, "hey, everyone can get an immigration law job!" So he wasn't scammed as far as immigration goes. As far as biglaw, it may or may not have been accessible to him, but that's on him for not making it into the top fifth of a very mediocre school. Does Colorado pretend that everyone there gets biglaw? No; its own employment stats, on its admissions page, say that only half the class gets a firm job and of that half, the average salary is just $100,000. So where's the scam there? I think tier 3s and tier 4s are in a pretty unconscionable racket, outside of, say, North Dakota, which works out fine for North Dakotans, but at a place like Colorado, there's a real fighting chance that you'll do well, a chance that one takes when one goes there.

  141. 5:59- It's a pathetic indictment of the system that a student who by all rights was a very bright person, pursued a position in a field that is robust in his local market (not something like "constitutional" or "international" law), cared enough to devote his three years of study to honing his skills in that field (instead of just taking Corporations and Fed Courts and all the other bullshit Socratic Method courses), and graduated from the top school in a large state could not find a decently paying job in his chosen field. And the simple fact is that there is nothing the current law school model could have done to prepare him for that because the current law school model is controlled by people who abhor private practice. They could not teach Alex the two things that are at the heart of private practice, a) how to do mundane legal work, b) how to get and keep clients. It is even sadder that students who probably didn't have any clue what they wanted to do with their law degree or said some ridiculous thing like "constitutional," "international," or "corporate" law graduated law school with good jobs because they did well on six exams their first year of law school. That is a system that fails students, taxpayers, and the country, and threatens the long-term health and reputation of the legal profession, which is what the ABA and the current legal elite should be concerned about instead of quick profits and US News rankings. But Alex didn't know this before he went to law school and probably couldn't have found out using any reasonable methods.

    Do I really need to rehash the arguments about why "they never promised him a great job!" is a tired argument?

    Alex would have been better off simply paying a well-regarded immigration firm in Colorado $25,000/year to work for them for three years. That way he could have gotten a sense of the market, the law as it is practiced, and the client base and maybe had a job waiting after graduation.

  142. No matter how much the word gets out, apparently, it's still not enough. I have to think that, or else I don't understand the comments that deride the professor for 'assuming' that the horrible job market, the massive debt, the hopelessness of not being able to succeed in his profession and the destruction of his dreams didn't contribute to Alex's death.

    For those that think the professor is presumptuous for suggesting that such factors contributed to his death, you must lead a comfortable, little life, safely insulated from the recession and failure. You obviously do not know what it's like to have invested 10 years of your life to a goal that you now find out you will never reach.

    You obviously don't know what it's like to have spent $150,000 to reach that goal, knowing now that you will never reach it. Note that that's not the costs of starting up your own business - it's the cost of starting up FIVE businesses - and failing, with nothing, not even experience to show for it.

    You obviously don't know what it's like to painstakingly learn and stay up night after night, learning how, under enormous pressure to read, write, think, and conduct trials like a lawyer, when all that ended up being a waste of time, because you can never be one. Remembering the times when you were tired, wanted to quit - to give in, and you didn't, but that you still ended up losing anyway.

    You must not know what it's like to have gone to great lengths to make something better of yourself ($150,000!) only to now realize that your day is comprised of "would you like to try that on in the dressing room?" You must not know what it's like to have a 22 year old manage you and look down on you - a 22 year old who never got an education - because she thinks you must be really stupid to have to work a $7.50 an hour retail job at your age.

    And dammit, you did everything - everything you could - on a national team, on the Dean's List, an Honor's Scholar, graduated cum laude, sacrificed every last penny ($150,000!), spent months, hours every day to study for the bar (You gave EVERYTHING to take that bar - it took you half a year to come up with the money!), you worked while studying - to avoid that Wall-Mart but it was all in vain, because you will be working there the rest of your life. And asking yourself every night, "Why did I do it?" And having society look down upon you: those in the legal profession because you couldn't get in, and those not in the profession because they think education is a waste of time (and they are right.)

    I envy those people who cannot see or even wonder whether those factors influenced Alex's life and death. I envy you, because you do not have to live with what so many of us have to face every day.

    I, too, like Alex wanted to work in public interest. And I too, like Alex, wasted my whole life trying to do so. And now, I have to look forward to Wall-Mart every day ("Would you like to try that on in the dressing room, ma'am?")and cater to my customers, most who didn't get an education but who are much better off economically than I am and will ever be. Customers who look down on me and think I'm stupid for not getting an education or think I'm stupid for getting one, or just plain think I'm stupid for working as a sales girl at Wall-Mart.

    In another life, I was something else. Every day, I try to remember what it was like when people actually asked my opinion - asked me to think. Now, they don't want me to think. My days are comprised of "would you like to try that on in a dressing room, Ma'am?" said with a phony smile while I cry on the inside at the lost opportunity.) And why all this? Because I got a legal education - the worst mistake of my life. And worst of all, knowing that my dream - to be a public interest attorney - the reason I did it all, sacrificed - is dead. Maybe it never existed.

  143. "Did they do well in LAW SCHOOL? "

    I wouldn't have even mentioned these people if they hadn't all done well.

  144. @9:27,

    Your story hurt me inside just reading it. It hurt me because I feel scammed and my situation is not nearly as bad as yours; but more importantly, it hurt me because the injustice of it is so profound. So fucking profound.

    You and I get capitalism. We have to apologize for wanting a better life. What’s that, you want to work as a lawyer at an institution helping people? You arrogant sob. What’s that you want to make money, money commensurate with 8 years of education and the time and cost associated with it? You greedy sob, and by the way, who told you anything is guaranteed. When they ask the question (“can we get away with it?”), as to us, no one is there to stop them.

    But the losers that dropped out of high school, and now work in unionized labor and goverment jobs, cop, firemen, court officers, they get socialism. They get socialism and they like it that everyone else is taking it in the ass. They like it, and they tell us things like “life’s not fair, suck it up.” (Check out the youtube officer, if it still exists, of the court officer saying: “those lawyers though they were too good for my job, bet they wish they could get it now, but they can’t”).

    Deep down inside they know why they chose their jobs: school was too boring and hard, too expensive, it didn’t offer and immediate satisfaction of desires, and so, they went elsewhere. Yet, society cannot tell them: “we can get it cheaper, so you are taking a pay cut, (or not getting a job, etc.)”, like they do us, “you are not getting a six figure pension that cripples the tax payer,” like they do us, “you can’t have job security that translates to incompetence,” like they do us. When they complain, society can’t tell them “if you don’t like it, do something else,” or “you should have known,” or “nothing is guaranteed,” and no one dares tell them “you could have had better grades, and that is why you are fucked.” No they are protected, and they laugh at you and me. They laugh at us, as they should because they are right. Life worked out for them, and it didn’t for us. They partied when they were young, we suffered. They got to satisfy their desires immediately, we had to postpone our desires, but they are still better off. They get bankruptcy and no debt, we get slavery. They get Obama and Hoffa, we get the guy or gal that posted the anonymous comment at 5:59. They get rewarded for mediocrity, we punished for trying to do something better. They get to say things like: “we risk our lives,” or “our work is dangerous/hard,” when, if you look at the stats, they live longer, have a less chance of dying early or getting sick than the rest of the population, and we get 80 hour work weeks with no bennies and shit pay if we are lucky.

    Yet, that guy who keeps posting here and calling lawyers pussies is right. Nothing is going to change because all of us are scared. We are scared of the guy or gal at 5:59 P.M.. We are scared that he or she will find the defect, i.e. lack of grades, lack of journal, lack of work experience, lack of a good school, etc., and that he or she will say “that’s why you shouldn’t have job.” We are scared because after we are made public, we will never be employed again and we will have those GED superstars that enjoyed their youth, that have their six figure jobs, security, and pensions kick us down even more by not even giving us an unbiased shot at their jobs AND who will tell us we were

  145. Law prof admits that the cause of "Alex"'s suicide has many factors but I can tell you that I could have been "Alex." I got good grades 1L year; I was in my school's immigration clinic; I interned at a local nonprofit and was a RA for the immigration law prof. And I couldn't get a job. I had to move in with my parents and did doc review for years. I eventually bought health insurance privately for the sole reason of getting some mental health help. For the first time in my life I realized I needed some counseling and medication otherwise I might have headed down the same road as Alex and did think about for a miserable summer. And just like Alex there are many reasons why I was in such despair however, the feeling of worthlessness combined with crushing debt didn't help the situation any and is probably what began the descent into such an unhappy place.

  146. 10:26 is right. I only wish I had thought to take a COA clerkship out of law school and save some of the $160k that all of those big firms were offering me...

    10:26, I hope you lose your job and everything that you have.

  147. 10:26,
    I never read the comments on blogs, or this awful blog where this prof does whatever it takes to be a hero without doing anything (including working harder at teaching). Anyway, hopefully you have enough self-awareness to know that the clerks you work with, as well as the judge you work for, and for that matter any good person you know, would find your post laughably self-promoting. Anyway if I'm your fellow clerk, please don't tell me you wrote that because we will not have a good working relationship. That said, I'm guessing you wouldn't notice since you seem so oblivious to sounding like a douche.

  148. No. I really don't care what anyone's positions are on the various issues and pseudo-issues raised by this blog. None of them matter. Using someone's suicide--a suicide you admit to knowing pretty much nothing about--to build interest in your position, to evoke an emotional response that advances your argument, to color yourself as a more caring and empathetic person, or to in any other way advance the essentially political and self-promotional purposes of this blog is callous, demented, and offensive. The hell with being a law professor, you should be ashamed of yourself as a human being.

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