Saturday, January 28, 2012

Good money after bad?

Updated below

How many people are in something like this situation right now?

I'm in my second semester second year and need advice on what to do. I've realized that by the time I graduate, I'll be in the hole close to 130K. I've really come to the conclusion that as a 25 year old, my life is going to be thoroughly fu@ked for at least a decade as I try to pay off the loans.

I'm from an Asian family and my parents want me to continue. But I've realized that whether I get the JD or not, I'll still be working in a non-legal low paying career. I'm most definitely not in the top 50%, haven't done any competitions or journals etc.

Should I drop? I would really appreciate any answers. I've been reading this blog for months and have begun to understand that non-law students and even many law students don't get the fact that getting a legal career is not easy.... Please advise as I can't seem to convince anyone else of the truth...
Of course it would be good to have many more details, and even better to actually know this person, before giving any definitive advice.  Still, some general observations:

(1) This person is not, on one important level, really yet an adult.  Adults don't decide to take on $130,000 in high-interest non-dischargeable debt because otherwise their parents will be disappointed if they drop out of school.  From the standpoint of both an appropriately paternalistic ethic, and minimally rational social policy considerations in general, it's reckless and absurd to allow non-adults to make decisions of this sort. Note that given his or her age this person appears to be yet another K-JD, whose life experience probably consists of going to school, and who has therefore never held a real job, supported him or herself, etc.

(2)  Law students who come to grips with the reality of their economic and social situation are, because of this realization, going to find it at least somewhat more difficult to improve on that situation as long as they stay in law school.  The possibility of success for someone about to enter the legal profession at this particular moment is probably heightened by a certain amount of basically delusional self-belief, or if you prefer, adaptive stupidity.

In other words, although it's not true that you're a special snowflake and that statistical generalities therefore don't apply to you, believing that you are is probably good for your potential legal career at the margin. This follows from the fact that a realistic assessment of the situation is likely to produce some combination of depression and despair, which tend not to be career-enhancing states.  It doesn't follow, of course, that on the whole delusional self-belief is preferable to a potentially despondent grounding in reality, since asserting that begs the question of whether it's better for someone like this commenter to stay in law school or drop out.

(3) An important practical question is whether this person has already paid for the second semester of his or her 2L year in a non-refundable fashion.  At my law school, for instance, the commenter would have until next week (two weeks after the start of classes) to get his or her tuition refunded.  By contrast, a particularly distasteful practice at some law schools is to make the deadline for refunding tuition earlier than the deadline for professors to turn in their grades for the previous semester. 

(4) Here again we see the insidious effects of the enormous disconnect that still exists between the general cultural assumptions regarding what it means to have a law degree, and the economic and social reality which people now getting law degrees actually inhabit.  What's even more insidious is the number of people who will be in something like the correspondent's mental state not two weeks into their second semester of their 2L years, but rather 18 months after they graduate from law school.

Update:   After reading the comments in this thread, as well as getting back channel feedback, I think Point (1) above is poorly phrased.  While it's true that the lack of life experience of K-JD students creates additional vulnerabilities for them in regard to the law school scam that ought to be taken into account, it's ultimately a mistake to put much weight on this factor in regard to the overall situation.  The problem, in other words, is still at the most fundamental level that people of any age and life experience are borrowing very large sums of money on the basis of deeply misleading information.  That's what makes the scam a scam, as opposed to a product of the desperate circumstances of college graduates with no good career prospects (although it's that too).  Doing this work, it's sometimes easy to forget how distorted the readily available information for 0Ls remains, despite the improvements that have taken place over the last year in particular.

An especially salient factor in this regard is, as a commenter in the thread notes, that it seems reasonable ex ante for 0Ls and their families to rely on the signaling they're getting from the fact that the federal government is willing to lend such large sums of money to people to go to law school, with no (up front) strings attached.

I was 22 when I started law school and I remember being stressed out at the amount of money I was borrowing. I had never borrowed anything in my life until that point. I remember thinking to myself that neither the government nor the school would allow me to borrow this much if they thought I could not pay it back. 
 This, I believe, is a particularly distorting aspect of the current structure of higher education in general, and legal education in particular.


  1. The problem here is that he's already sunk 2 years of tuition. Granted this person will likely not get a job in law, but I still wonder if the JD credential may be worth it in whatever other career they pursue.

    There are still a lot of ignorant folks out there who will be impressed by the "JD" and will view him with greater esteem then they would view your average BA employee.

    I don't know. I'm hugely anti-law school but I wonder if he should just (a) finish and get the credential, (b) absolutely max out on his federal loans with the purpose of saving money for the famine that awaits him upon graduation. He's going on IBR any way, i.e. the taxpayers are going to pick up the tab for his loans in 20 years, so in that case it's rational for him to add to those loans. I would write the financial aid office today and ask for a $10,000 increase this semester.

    I don't know, those are just my thoughts. Very shitty situation to be in though, and he would have been infinitely better off having never enrolled but that horse left the barn and all that.

  2. Another thing to consider is that the economy still hasn't rebounded, so perhaps if he waits another year he'll have a better chance of getting a job. Not a law job mind you, that's not going to happen barring a miracle, but rather some non-Starbucks job.

  3. If you're Asian and you're in law school, you've already failed your parents.

  4. You should invite this person to the Q&A section of the comments. Although it can be somewhat of a firing squad, overall, I think s/he will get some good advice.

    I'd like to know what alternative job options this kid has or whether his parents are going to help financially support him after law school. In other words, what back-up plan does he have besides a law degree?


  5. Here is another popular misconception about the law: many people assume that life will be peaches and cream when you obtain a "coveted" Biglaw position which pays $160K to start.

    20 years ago, the average law school debt load was about $30K. Biglaw started out at $80K. Your shelf life in Biglaw was about 6 years. Today, if you graduate, say from Fordham Law, your total undergrad and law school debt could exceed $200K. The average Biglaw shelf life is now 2-3 years. So, even if you do win the sweepstakes, you still lose. Why can't kids understand these simple concepts?

    I typically don't stereotype but I have seen a proliferation of Asian lawyers in New York. The increase of Asians admitted to the NY bar in recent years now rivals roach reproduction rates. I don't know what kind of law schools these folks attend but I have read their pleadings and briefs. 5th grade level writing seems to be the norm for Asian lawyers. They have cornered Asian shitlaw market but it is my understanding that disgruntled Asian clients will follow up with bar complaints. The kid who wrote to Prof. Campos would have been better off attending a law school in China and then come to the States for an LLM to sit for the CA or NY bar exam. I am sure had he done this, he would not have leveraged himself into astronomical debt.

    Let me respond directly to the Asian student. Unless you come from a wealthy family, it will take you longer than 10 years to repay your student loan debt. You will not win the Biglaw lottery. You will likely (if you are fortunate to secure employment with your lackluster credentials) work for another Asian solo or small firm which specializes in prosecuting bullshit asylum applications based on China's "one child policy." You will be derided by your clients, family and friends. And for your efforts, you will earn the princely sum of $30-40K per year. You could earn more working as a service advisor for a car dealership. Soldier on at your own peril.


  6. Don't be ridiculous. A 25 year old is an adult. It is time that people start taking some responsibility for themselves. Is the "I have Asian parents" defense going to be like the "twinkie" defense.

  7. With IBR, at this point, why not just finish? Then go back to school and get an engineering masters or something. With IBR, there's a point at which the loan amount doesn't matter any more, the payment will be the same if you have $130k or $1 million in loans. Having a JD in the back pocket at least lets you write wills and whatever crap work your family wants.

  8. 9:14: When did this *kid* decide to enroll in law school? When he or she was 22, at the latest. In this culture, a large percentage of 22-year-old people, especially those from the middle and upper classes, are adults in only a purely formal sense. That this is an undesirable state of affairs doesn't somehow make it not the case.

  9. Law Prof. Does that mean we don't hold them to an adult standard of care for crimes? 18 year olds are considered old enough to fight in Iraq, drink alcohol, and vote. They can't make decisions about law school? Of course I mean decisions based on nonfraudulent data.

  10. What is illustrative about this post – and the K-JD nature of the author is that illustrates one of the primary problem the legal profession has – that too many people are becoming lawyers for reasons other than being genuinely interested in the law, curious about cases and really engaged in what they do. As far as I can tell, the vast majority of kids are going to law school as a default option – having gone to college and studied one of the combination of Political Science (“it’s a science, who’d ‘a thunk”), English, History, History of Art, Psychology and/or sociology and maybe Economics – they came out at the other end and found that despite all the mularky about their course developing critical thinking skills – or analytical skills – and giving them an automatic entrée to the executive bathroom, they were really qualified for little more than when they went to college – and could become bank tellers, secretaries or shop assistants. Maybe they also come from bourgeois professional families who expect that their kids will join a “profession” other than the military – that their kid will have a job with a suit and tie and people who call him/her Mr. ___ or Ms. _____. Maybe they also went because they heard that lawyers make a lot of money and it seems like a nice living.

    It is these people who, as lawyers, write things on this site like
    • “the sheer drudgery and asswork involved in being a lawyer”
    • “legal jobs in general are far more tedious than accounting or finance”
    • “law firm work is both stressful and boring at the same time. The tedium just sucks the life out of you”
    • “Most legal work is boring and stressful. Not surprisingly most lawyers are bored, stressed people”

    It is also people like this that are the biggest assholes to work with, either in your own firm or representing the other side. They never really decided to be lawyers – they never wanted it – they just defaulted into it. Now they find the law tedious and boring. It is this group I go out of my way to never hire and never work with. A surprising proportion of HYS grads fall into this category – they went to law school because they got the grades, they got the LSAT score, they go an offer from HYS … they look at the jobs they could get right now and listened to people saying “are you nuts, you’d turn down…” and they went to law school. Many become law professors because they would do anything to avoid practicing the profession that they think the should teach … living up to the cliché “those that can do, those that can’t…”


  11. The last 30 years of legal expansion – along with the Vietnam era and post Vienam swelling in college and graduate education (there was a big upward blip during Vietnam as people sought draft deferrals) has led to an ever growing number of unhappy lawyers – and “screamers.” It has also led to law school dean’s platitudes about a law degree being a great background for other professions (“uh Dean, if you think that you evidently never wanted to be a lawyer … yes, you are one of the pople I just described… you should only go to law school to be a lawyer.”)

    I enjoy the practice of law … I always have … I think it is the most fun you can have in a profession with your clothes on. I work in international technology law with like minded colleagues who collectively have built our own international firm. I make a pretty good income – mid six-figure. I graduated in 1992 – a lousy time – and had two big law offers evaporate when the offices were closed in 1993 when I finished an international clerkship – and I joined a tiny international firm with a managing partner who hated me (Harvard type) and was a primo asshole (whole departments in large firms have threatened “him or us” subsequently. I do a lot of IP and have a Physics/Chemistry/Math background. The first 5-10 years were tough, but what kept me going is that the work was fascinating … at least to me. I also find that Intellectual Property has happier lawyers because they made a conscious chose to move from science/engineering to law (except soft-IP which is full of English and Art History types trying to make themselves marketable.)
    At any event this is a long post – but my advice to this young JD student is first, are you genuinely interested, for yourself, in law, tough it out. If you are not, leave now.


  12. 9:29: Do you think it's desirable for the federal government to let 22-year-olds decide whether it's a good idea for them to incur $200,000 in non-dischargeable high-interest debt to go to law school? I assume you don't think this is a good idea if the decisions are being made on the basis of fraudulent data. But what about on the basis of good data? Is it enough for you that these people are technically adults?

  13. @9:01
    We don't need this racist screed on this site. Please direct your anger to the law school world.

  14. @9:48AM

    I am sorry if I came off as racist to you. I was only relaying my empirical observations (based on over 2 decades of experience in this field). I know a handful of Asian lawyers that are excellent attorneys so I was not implying that all Asian attorneys have 5th grade writing level. If you doubt my words, go on PACER and type "Chin" in the attorney field. Read some of the pleadings submitted by "Attorney Chin" and come back to refute my previous statement.

  15. "roach reproduction rates" -- absolutely vile stuff. Just awful.

    As for his age, not long ago on this site there was serious discussion about making 22 year olds within one year of becoming lawyers and having them reponsible for the lives of others. How will an undergraduate degree in law accelerate the maturation process? If 22 is too young to make the decision to go to law school, what happens in one year that would make the person ready to assume the responsibility of being a lawyer?

  16. A.E.S.

    It's very true. Im a 25 year old Korean who grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. There is a major obsession with the legal profession in the Korean community. It is an unhealthy education fetish.

    I knew a Korean girl who chose Harvard over Julliard (played the Rach 3 at the age of 14).
    After her undergrad, she went to Harvard Law. Graduated top of her class. What does she do now? Lives in London having set up a Botique Bakery. Absolutely nothing related to law, and she passed the ny bar on the first try. It's like Campos said in his article about class stratification, some students are able to go backpacking in Europe if "law school doesn't work out". But for others from less fortunate background, it can ruin them for decades.

    Another story is my piano teacher (also Korean) whose daughter was class valedictorian at USC in Los Angeles. She went to Boalt Law School, tried to go the public interest route to get her loans forgiven, ended up in Texas doing the death row circuit, hated it with a passion, and is now a fucking nurse in Los Angeles. Can you believe it?

  17. Not to quibble, but as a 25 year old second-year law student myself, he is likely not a K-JD. I took 2 years off between undergrad and law school. He may have taken a "victory lap" in college but most K-JD students my year were born in 1987 or 1988 and so are 23 or 24.

  18. 9:29 AM:

    You are comparing taking on loan debt to crimes and drinking. The comparison is way off. First of all, if we make the assumption that the data is good, does the person borrowing really understand exactly WHAT they are getting themselves into?

    I was 22 when I started law school and I remember being stressed out at the amount of money I was borrowing. I had never borrowed anything in my life until that point. I remember thinking to myself that neither the government nor the school would allow me to borrow this much if they thought I could not pay it back. Boy was I wrong...I was responsible with it, I worked during law school and I only borrowed money for tuition and books, but it still was a ton of money.

    Upon graduation I learned that the loans could not be refinanced and if I ever could not pay for whatever reason, they were non-dischargeable in BK. I learned these last two nuggets of information when I called the DOE. This information was not in my promisory note because truth in lending requirements are not included in this documentation.

    A K-JDer has little or no life experience and as such, probably has no idea what they are doing when it comes to debt financing. They may be "adults" in the literal sense (can tell right from wrong) but they do not have much real world sense (paying down debt). A K-JDer may know all about interest rates in the abstract assuming they went to decent schools (a huge assumption) but they have not experienced debt repayment in the real world. The education system DEPENDS on this ignorance in order to finance itself.

    So 9:29, the short answer: we hold them to an adult standard for crimes, drinking, etc... but when it comes to loan repayment, they should be a protected class if they have never borrowed money in their life.

    Caveat: I generalized about a 22 year old having no life experience. I know it is a generalization only and that exceptions do exist.

  19. Mack, Is your firm hiring and if so how do we apply? don't be greedy and share some of that huge salary and opportunity with new grads who need it.

  20. I agree completely with LawProf on the issue of the maturity of 22 year olds. Cognitively and experientially, most 22 year olds simply do not yet have the life experience and the ability to realistically assess risk to make a wise choice about potentially disastrous indebtedness.

  21. And they should not be one year away from being lawyers.

  22. The education system depends on the ignorance of the individual re debt financing in much the same way the military does as well. The military age is 18 because most of these kids don't know dick about fighting and dying. The military model: Get em in, get young. The uni model: get em in, get em young, take their money.

  23. I think the point LawProf was trying to make was that a person whom would continue on a ill-fated path on the basis of "not letting down my parents" is not making the kind detached rational decision indicative of "adulthood" regardless of actual physical age of that person. Now, a 25 year old is most certainly an "adult" by nearly any standard. But, the mountain in front of this young person, and many others in like situations, is nearly incomprehensible. When IBR is the only way forward, the entire analysis is skewed toward putting your back into it and just keep on digging. What else can you do? There is no viable way forward as the debt cannot be managed nor discharged.

    If a law degree is of little worth, what is the value of half a law degree?

    I would like to mention to the person we are discussing, thank you for sharing your present situation with us. Best of luck with everything.

  24. 1. How hard is it to punch the numbers into a mortgage calculator before enrolling?
    2. Why does no one bother to ask why a TTT is at the same price point as a T-14?

  25. Anonymous @ JANUARY 28, 2012 11:02 AM: It's not the physical act of punching in the numbers which is difficult. A 5 yr old can do so. The issue is the numbers one uses as the basis of the calculation.

  26. Whether or not a 22 year old counts as an adult or an almost-adult, there's really no reason to make his 130K in law school debt nondischargeable when gambling debts and credit card debts are dischargeable, and when wall street firms as well as everyone who bought real estate during the bubble are allowed to get bailed out or go into bankruptcy. If anything, the law school debt is more reasonable. So yes, he may have made a mistake and you can argue how responsible he is, but in every other corner of our society debt is considered forgiveable. This should be too, and I don't think you should be too hard on him.

  27. How do employers react to somebody who went to law school for 2 years? Should schools also keep track of what happens to drop outs?

    I am a 3L and I have no clue how many of my classmates have quit, or what they went on to do.

  28. Incidentally, AES, if you make a comment like "The increase of Asians admitted to the NY bar in recent years now rivals roach reproduction rates" it is blatantly anti-Asian, just as if a non-lawyer said "The increase of lawyers admitted to the NY bar in recent years now rivals roach reproduction rates" there would be no doubt that the speaker was showing his disdain for lawyers.

  29. Can the politically correct folks please shut the hell f*ck up. Just pretend that he was talking about Arabs or whatever race the PC police have deemed it OK to attack and stereotype.

  30. Crux of Law,
    11:02 here. One knows what tuition is and knows what the interest rate is so one should have a pretty good idea of what the repayment amount will be.

  31. Nope, do not want to attack or stereotype any group. Just interested in a decent discussion about the current state of the legal profession. Racist statements have nothing to do with that.

  32. 11:23 It's not about political correctness, it's about whether or not he shows bias and therefore his comments should be ignored. Do you think it's a coincidence he made a comment like that and then said he thought it would have been best if the student had gone "back to China" for law school, as if all Asians are from China and also that it would be better off if he had left the country?

  33. at 11:15 AM:

    Adding to the first part of what you said:

    Four of my closest friends strategically defaulted on their mortgages. They woke up one day and decided they did not want to pay. These same people are adamant that people should pay back their student loans. Quite the double standard. Needless to say, this has had a negative impact on my friendship with them.

  34. "11:23 It's not about political correctness, it's about whether or not he shows bias and therefore his comments should be ignored."

    Make that decision for yourself and act on it, for yourself. I find his lack of political correctness to signal his honesty and integrity.

  35. 11:27:

    "I was 22 when I started law school and I remember being stressed out at the amount of money I was borrowing. I had never borrowed anything in my life until that point. I remember thinking to myself that neither the government nor the school would allow me to borrow this much if they thought I could not pay it back."

    That last sentence is crucial. People are brought up in this country to assume you can trust entities like the federal government and professionally accredited law schools not to behave in a completely irresponsible manner, by, for example, lending billions of dollars per year to law students who in fact have no realistic prospect of paying this money back.

  36. A big reason why you trust law schools is all the bullshit about ethics, character and fitness blah blah that is part of the law school admissions process.

    Who could imagine that people scrutinizing you so meticulously are themselves thieves?

  37. AES, your comments are scummy and racist. Roach reproduction rates? You disgust me.

    Also: the commenter said s/he was from an "Asian family." Odds are that s/he is Asian-American, born and/or raised in the U.S. His/her grammar and syntax were Standard English, so your racist drivel about ESL Asians was irrelevant, to boot.

    To the OP: I agree with everyone who has said that being an adult means taking responsibility for your life, financially and otherwise, without respect to your parents' wishes or perceptions of prestige. As I'm also from an Asian family, I'd note that it can be very difficult to satisfy their desires, even if one cares to (as I do not). The commenter who jokingly noted that going to law school is already failing Asian parents is at least half-right.

    First, my parents were tremendously disappointed that I didn't pursue medicine or a science PhD (I was an undergrad science major). I went to a school that was acceptable to them (HYS) - but the fact that I chose not to try for law review caused YEARS of handwringing that extended past my law school graduation. I graduated with honors, but not highest honors, which was the equivalent of ACADEMIC FAILURE. I "only" clerked for a very well-regarded district court after law school, which was the equivalent of PROFESSIONAL FAILURE. For my own reasons, I really wanted to do a Ninth Circuit clerkship, which I nabbed a couple of years later -- but now, the fact that I did not do well enough in law school to have a reasonable shot at a SCOTUS clerkship is the new equivalent of PROFESSIONAL FAILURE. And, compounding these many failures is the fact that I voluntarily left BigLaw for middle-income-paying government work after paying down my student loans, because I'm committed to a public service career, so now I am a FINANCIAL FAILURE, too.

    After years of fighting with my parents over their perception of my academic/professional decisions (and more or less ignoring everything they told me about what I should be doing), we've reached some manner of detente. I share this story only to say, if your parents are at all like mine, it will probably be very difficult to satisfy their perceptions of what constitutes success unless you plan to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. So stop trying, and make your own decision whether to stay or leave law school based on what's rationally right for you. Put differently, the next time you ask a question online, consider not even mentioning that you're from an Asian family - because it shouldn't play a role in what you decide about your academic future (if you let it, it can make you crazy, speaking from personal experience).

  38. A lot of these posts seem to take the tone of "I'm not racist but..."

  39. "So 9:29, the short answer: we hold them to an adult standard for crimes, drinking, etc... but when it comes to loan repayment, they should be a protected class if they have never borrowed money in their life." If a person can make a decision to go to war at 18, they surely can make a decision to go to law school at 22.

  40. Anonymous @ JANUARY 28, 2012 12:02 PM: You just nailed it. I never really thought about it in those terms until I read it in your words. In my own experience, I was blinded as I began my legal education. It did not occur to me that the folks whom were asking so much of my character would themselves be so lacking.

  41. Hi, this is the OP. I just wanted to thank everyone for offering VERY helpful suggestions. Now that I'm getting back on my feet mentally, I've realized that yea, it's my life and the decision is in my hands.

    I wish you all the best in the coming years.

    Just because those of us who grew up in a society where we're told to be educated non-stop from K-grad school, where we constantly read books and do as professors say because they're always "right," decided to do as society says and take out giant loans to finance what was supposed to be the path towards a "better" life, doesn't make us "immature."

    The fact is that I went in with the "good faith" (something I learned in Contracts) assumption that I wasn't going to be screwed this bad. I'm not the brightest person, but I work hard and adapt to situations. Should I have known better? Well, I'm realizing that I did the best with the information I had. And though many might disagree with my position that I should've known absolutely everything I was getting into, I'll just let them talk. When that person is hurting from a terrible situation, I'll be empathetic and not kick them while they're down.

    Best wishes to you all. You're all great people....cept the trolls.

  42. A person can get married and have kids at eighteen. This is a bigger decision whether or not to go to law school!

  43. No 12:18, nothing was said about war. Plus, they should not be making "a decision to go to war at 18" either. Just because the military age is 18 does not mean that those 18 year old kids know the real dangers. Do you remember yourself at that age?

    Ever wondered why the draft age is 18? Ever wonder why the military recruits in the poorer neighborhoods more aggressively than in the richer ones? These kids should be a protected class as well. Ever talked to someone who went into the military at the age of 18 and is now 25? The story is similar to the law student in Lawprof's article.

    A person who has no real life experience should not be making any decisions about something that could impact their life for 30 years (debt) or war (death). The system preys on the young, whether they are poor, naive, or both. It used to be that the military only did this, now most, if not all, schools do it as well.

    Democrats and Republicans do it alike as well. Open your eyes.

  44. 12:30:

    Again, ever met an 18 year old that did that? It is a hard life. I have known many. Unless they were born 70 years ago, these 18 year olds are not happy.

    We are talking about student loans. Lets try to stay on point.

  45. Law Prof. If you want to say that 18s can't sign up for the military, vote, drink, get married have a kid, etc., I will agree with you. If not, you have to be wrong. Plus 18s can take out loans for other things like college, cars, houses.

  46. 12;46:

    I am not Lawprof and I never said I was.

    "Plus 18s can take out loans for other things like college, cars, houses."

    Ok, agreed. The system wants them to take these loans out which is why it is allowed. More people = more profits. Plus, you can walk from these loans. BK protections apply, remember?

    Death from war is permanent in much the same way student loans are permanent because you cannot BK them.

  47. College: Same problem as law school but on a much lower dollar scale. Plus don't students under 21 have to have parent or guardian co-signers in some circumstances at least?

    Cars: Buying or leasing a car you can't afford might end up costing you a few thousand dollars and put a short-term dent in your credit.

    Houses: Have you tried to qualify for a mortgage lately? (The law school bubble has a lot in common with the housing bubble, with the key differences being that very few residential properties become literally worthless, and mortgage loans are dischargeable).

  48. You missed the biggest one, getting married.

  49. Probably not a problem for the virgin losers who post here.

  50. Kids are nondischargeable, too.

  51. Getting married at 18 is generally a terrible idea. If the government loaned you $200,000 to get married at 18 and have three kids in the next three years that would be a much worse idea.

  52. Something else about student loans:

    Some of the solutions that our politicians put forth are traps as well. I think people who sign up for IBR are taking a huge risk with their financial well-being. The naive people who sign up for it are playing into the hands of the government, why:

    1. Do young people know the debt grows and grows when minimal interest payments are not being made (capitalization). This shows up on a person's credit. How will this person ever get a loan for anything else when a bank sees that nasty beast on a credit report?

    2. Do young people think about the fact that if they are not in PSLF, that they get a tax bill when the debt is forgiven?

    3. Do young people think about the fact that they have to file paperwork every year with their student loan company? A pain in the ass when some of us know how painfully incompetent they are as well as how IBR is usually not in the best interest of the student loan company because the borrower is paying less than they otherwise would.

    4. Do young people know that the IBR program terms can be changed anytime by the government? The government has a history of doing this...just ask those current graduate students who will no longer qualify for subsidized loans after 07/01/12. How about those student who took out federal loans prior to 10/98 only to find out that Clinton signed a bill amending the act to make BK protections retroactive on all federal loans.

    These are just a few of the problems with IBR. I would only go on that program if I was facing default.

    Also, do we know for sure that the subject of Lawprof's article only has federal loans? I don't recall reading that.

  53. @11:35AM

    You are disingenuous. He neither said "go back to China" nor implied that all Asians are Chinese.

    I have noticed that there are many Chinese and Korean attorneys who don't take the practice of law serious and only care about making money. It shows in their quality of work product, which from what I have seen, is generally subpar. And please spare me the PC crap. You would probably also criticize a comment about Jewish attorneys being shrewd and crafty.

  54. If a 22 year old isn't mature/experienced enough to take out a massive loan, what about his parents? In this person's case (and many others), they're strongly pushing him to go to law school despite not having a clue about the facts- does that mean that his middle-aged parents are not mature or experienced enough to take out loans? By that logic, no one should be allowed to take out a loan unless they're already rich.

  55. "You would probably also criticize a comment about Jewish attorneys being shrewd and crafty."

    For heavens' sakes, I would (I'm not 11:35). What is with the bigotry that is flourishing in these comments?

    Paul: I understand that you want to give people as free a rein as possible to express their frustration with law schools. But when you allow commenters to spout hateful anti-Semitic, racist, or sexist comments -- that have no particular nexus to the concept of a law school "scam," in any event -- it demeans your blog's arguments and diminishes your credibility.

  56. 5. Do young people realized that at some point in their IBR future, they may win the law school sweepstakes (miraculously) and get a kick ass paying job which in turn will probably put them on the hook for the unpaid nasty capitalized balance? What if they inherit money? Marry rich? Start a lucrative business? You don't think that the government will come to collect?

    I have asked these questions and nobody, not the DOE, my law school, nor my worthless student loan company can answer it.

  57. I am not Prof. Campos and I am not in his mind. I am sure he respects the 1st Amendment and the free exchange of ideas. That being said, I detest these PC police a-holes that feel that everything is "hate speech" or anti-semetic. If someone said I was shrewd and crafty, I would take that as being recognized as someone who is sharp, astute and has wit. This is a compliment. Once you juxtapose "Jewish" with these terms, you are labelled an anti-semite. These same people who feign a disgust over this are the ones that are the enemies of free speech. They are the ones that are truly disgusting.

  58. I am not an enemy of free speech. By all means, stand in the public square and proclaim that Jews are "shrewd" and "crafty." I do favor forums for civilized, non-hateful discussion. Paul is free to host, or not, such a forum at his preference - but if he puts up with hateful drivel such as yours, he will seriously diminish the credibility of his arguments.

    (By the way: I'm fairly sure that you'll get a much less negative reaction if you describe Jews as "sharp, astute, and witty." But you would still be inaccurate - neither Jews nor any other group should be described as some manner of monolith with specifically identifiable, universal traits. That's what's racist/prejudiced bullshit, whether the attributes in question are positive or negative.)

  59. (And, by the way, "free speech" does not mean that you get to spout racist bullshit without anyone else commenting on it. If you are such a champion of free speech, you should support others' right to criticize your racism.)

  60. 1:20,
    In regard to question #5 the answer is easy and obvious, of course the government will try to collect and why shouldn't they? If you have or later obtain the resources to pay your loans you should have to.

  61. Charles Pye:

    Your sentence:

    "they're strongly pushing him to go to law school despite not having a clue about the facts- does that mean that his middle-aged parents are not mature or experienced enough to take out loans? By that logic, no one should be allowed to take out a loan..."

    Well, your logic is flawed but yet illustrates the point. Along with an educational system that takes advantage of the young, poor, and naive, you have these same kids being told that they are special snowflakes, who in turn will beat the odds if they work hard enough by baby boomer parents who entered a world with bullshit degrees at a time when Americans saw unprecedented prosperity the world over. After all, WW II was won by the US and the rest of the world was largely a mess. Baby boomers had nothing to do BUT succeed. The world is much different now and has been since about 1990 when the gen Xers came of age. Yet, along with college, the government, law schools, the vast majority of my generation and the one after were told to get a degree. Did a baby boomer have to worry about outsourcing? Having a job with no benefits? A non-marketable degree? Nope. They could even avoid the draft by going to college under Johnson's Great Society programs where the student loans were 2%, dischargeable, with no deferment or capitalized interest but my generation is entitled, right?

    So...yes, if the parents cannot see this fact, then maybe they are not capable of taking out a loan. However, they are able to take out a loan, and at the very least (since they probably have bought a car or house at some point) they know the responsibility and how it feels to payback 100-200K on a monthly basis. An 18 year old and a 22 year old probably do not yet, they are allowed to take on insidious non-dischargeable debt with EVERYONE around them telling them it is a good idea.

    To the OP: I have parents just like yours and to the bigots: they are white.

  62. 1:32:

    Fine. Paying what I borrowed is one thing. Paying accrued capitalized interest that is two, three, or ten times what I borrowed above and beyond any interest rate seems a little fucked. On IBR, I bet it could be twenty times as much.

    I am sure you are smart enough to see where fairness ends and usury begins, right?

  63. I'm Jewish and a lot of Jewish lawyers are stuck up. I think it's because many of us are second or sometimes third generation attorneys and can find a job easily because of our family connections. Having an alumni relative donating generously also helps being accepted into a tier one law school despite having a decent undergrad gpa and average lsat score. Talk about white privilege. By the way, I know a lot of white attorneys whose work product is shoddy to say the least.

  64. The issue of what to censor is tricky. When AES wrote what he wrote we got a glimpse into a certain racialized perspective, i.e., one that treats bad lawyers who happen to be Asian as Asian bad lawyers, i.e., as a marked category (by contrast the bad white lawyers he encounters are from his perspective merely bad lawyers). And while I agree it's extremely distasteful to refer to members of an ethnic minority group as "multiplying like roaches" I decided not to delete his comment because it throws light on some of the ethnic tensions that are being exacerbated by the massive oversupply of lawyers, especially at the low-paying end of the profession.

    What about the long comment from the HYS grad describing what it was like for him/her to be the child of "Asian" parents? (BTW Asia is obviously a huge and extremely diverse place and I find it strange that people from Japanese and Chinese and Korean and Indian and Malaysian and many other backgrounds should somehow all be conceptualized as belonging to the "same" group). I thought that comment threw a certain amount of light on the kinds of expectations that might be present to a disproportionate among certain ethnic groups, although of course these sorts of generalizations are always dangerous, even or perhaps especially when made by members of the groups in question.

    The person making the comment about how a statement that "Jews are clever and crafty" might be misunderstood as anti-Semitic illustrates how ethnic stereotyping still isn't considered a problem by a lot of people in this culture. Deleting that comment does not eliminate that fact, it merely hides it. I prefer not to hide it. Now this principle has its limits: if people use ethnic slurs I'll delete their comments. But I don't like to delete comments, because having a relatively uncensored discussion space is valuable. People who are going to consider the arguments I myself make to be in some way discredited by the relative tolerance of my censorship policies are just looking for an excuse to dismiss those arguments on grounds other than the merits of the issue.

  65. 1:12: This is 11:35.. I did not get the exact words right but AES did suggest he go to China for law school, which would make sense for a Korean American or a Japanese American about as much as it would for you.

    Your other paragraph is a joke. "don't take the practice of law serious." I think most lawyers, Asian or otherwise, can speak basic English. Maybe you should take your grammer moar serious, then people might take your opinions moar serious too.

  66. @ 1:36:

    "After all, WW II was won by the US and the rest of the world was largely a mess. Baby boomers had nothing to do BUT succeed. The world is much different now and has been since about 1990 when the gen Xers came of age. Yet, along with college, the government, law schools, the vast majority of my generation and the one after were told to get a degree. Did a baby boomer have to worry about outsourcing? Having a job with no benefits? A non-marketable degree? Nope. They could even avoid the draft by going to college under Johnson's Great Society programs where the student loans were 2%, dischargeable, with no deferment or capitalized interest but my generation is entitled, right?"

    Brilliant summation.

    I get so effing frustrated at Boomers who don't get it. Boomers who do get it, such as LawProf, should be commended.

  67. Law Prof is too young to be a boomer.

  68. This non-adult is 25 and worried about what their parents might think? My last parent died when I was 26. Kid, your law school debt could easily outlive your parents, ever think of that?

  69. I’m still in undergrad so I maybe able to provide some on-the-ground insight. I can guarantee you that if I were to cherry pick the most insightful entries from blogs like this and give a presentation to the pre-law society, I would be viewed as a nutcase in dire need of some therapy. It has become an absolute taboo to face unpleasant facts for my generation.

    When I’ve spoken about these matters delicately to my fellow dreamers, they assure me that the unreasonable ones are those that go into law school thinking they’re going to be arguing in front of the Supreme Court. It’s institutionalized groupthink. You study for the LSAT, you hang out with a bunch of people that do, and you hear successful guest speakers who went to the same school that you’re thinking about. All the formalities and rituals serve to reassure the consensus, and a lot of people who should know better don’t. It’s like the Milgram experiment, where not only is the person in a position of authority encouraging your irrational action, but all your peers are as well.

    The idiots are the ones that go in thinking they are going to be working at The Hague, but hey, you’re willing to work hard and pay your dues. What could go wrong? It’s not that you think you’re a special snowflake. It’s that the guy next to you does, and that’s why he’ll fail and you’ll succeed.

  70. "I would be viewed as a nutcase in dire need of some therapy."

    That's why you need to point out the statistics proving that law school causes mental illness. Again,

    4% of 0Ls are depressed.
    40% of 3Ls are depressed.
    18% of law school graduates are depressed two years out.

    "Critical thinking" (i.e. seeing the negative and worst case scenario in everything) is often (but not always) simply another word for depression.

    This has to be a part of whatever presentation you make to inform students of what law school is like. It will both explain away any perceptions they have of you, and it will give them a foreshadowing of how law school will not only ruin them financially, but also take away their emotional well being and mental health, which could be more frightening than the financial harm.

  71. You know, there is nothing wrong with respecting your parents. The problem this writer has is that his parents probably don't understand the reality of the job market now. Maybe he should educate them and try to get them on his side before he just blows them off.

    I think he should drop out. I think he should get another job and give up on law.

  72. 4:05,

    The OP's situation is tragic because not only did law school harm him financially, and emotionally - but it also ruined his relationship with his parents.

    There's really nothing to say to him. He was victimized by some scumbag opportunistic law school deans and professors, who are sitting pretty on a huge salaries and cush jobs paid for by OP's pain which - as he correctly predicted - will last at least decades, and that's just the financial aspect. Who knows how long it will take to repair the damage to his family relationships.

    It is such a disgustingly evil, purely evil institution that creates concentrated harm that I couldn't do if I wanted to. I literally couldn't figure out a way to take some poor soul, ruin him financially, ruin his family relationships, and ruin his mental health all in one felt swoop. I might be able to do one fo those three, but to do all three takes something truly special.

  73. OP,

    That's one bit of advice I could give you - DO NOT let those scumbags ruin your relationship with your parents. Show them this website. Show them these comments, such as mine above. Your law school took so much from you already, but don't let them take your family.

    That's the most important bit of advice I could give you. I hope you read this.

  74. Seconding the comment of 1:20 re: IBR. You don't even have to become "rich" to be booted off IBR and liable for the whole accrued balance of your loan, with the interest. In fact, IBR has a requirement that one have a "partial financial hardship," which as far as I have been able to discern, means making under about 80k or so per year. So even those of you who are planning to "work for the government for 10 years and pay off my loans with IBR" are in for a rude awakening around year 5 or whenever you reach the GS-14 level (I reached it after year 3 with accelerated promotion). Voila, no more "partial financial hardship," and no loan discharge. It baffles me why more people aren't aware of this. And if you're going the low-paying job for 25 years route, well, that's even more risky. How can you guarantee you'll stay under the pay cap for 25 years, and moreover, why the heck would you want to try to do that?

  75. "IBR has a requirement that one have a "partial financial hardship," which as far as I have been able to discern, means making under about 80k or so per year."

    You don't know what you're talking about. You just spread negative information. Congratulations.

  76. Would it solve any problems if we had a policy that no law school loans will be granted until three years after you received your undergraduate degree? William Ockham

  77. You know what law school is? The antithesis of the phrase, "underpromise and overdeliver."

  78. 5:36: indeed; and why would anyone working for the GOVERNMENT be on the hook for 25 years?

    Public service loan forgiveness, shockingly, forgives loans for public service.

    4:13: well said.

  79. 1:26 wrote:
    "Well, your logic is flawed but yet illustrates the point. Along with an educational system that takes advantage of the young, poor, and naive, you have these same kids being told that they are special snowflakes, who in turn will beat the odds if they work hard enough by baby boomer parents who entered a world with bullshit degrees at a time when Americans saw unprecedented prosperity the world over. After all, WW II was won by the US and the rest of the world was largely a mess. Baby boomers had nothing to do BUT succeed. The world is much different now and has been since about 1990 when the gen Xers came of age."

    Although I think younger people on the internet do go a little too far in demonizing Baby Boomers, I basically agree with you. This person's parents were part of a generation where a college degree virtually guaranteed a decent job, and a JD put you squarely on the path to riches. They probably think it makes perfect sense to take out 6 figures of debt for a degree. So while it's easy to make fun of students for their inexperience and naivety, often they actually have a much better grasp of the situation their parents do. This post seemed to be going a little too far in making fun of this person for his inexperience.

    After all, there seems to be plenty of older students too, with 10+years of work experience and prior loans, who want to go back to school and enter law school.

  80. By your logic LawProf, nobody should be able to take out a large loan until they are at least 25. They also shouldn't be able to get an abortion, get married, have a child, enter the army, drink, buy a house, etc.

  81. 5:36 and Mikoyan, actually, I do know what I'm talking about, as I currently work for the government, and have attempted to go on IBR. Result: "you do not have the partial financial hardship necessary to qualify." And, I never said that government employees would be on the hook for 25 years, I was referring to the people who DON'T work for the government and are planning to do IBR for 25 years, run up their debt as some here have suggested, and "IBR will take care of it." If you have some contrary information though, I would definitely love to hear it. If I can by some secret method qualify for IBR, I sure would like to! I'm guessing you'll just spew more bile at me instead of saying anything helpful, though.

  82. @4:02

    I can’t imagine what would happen if I added any facts about depression and law school in a presentation to the pre-law club. I may as well put on a straight jacket and wet my pants, for all the credibility it would win me. There are simply too many successful adults that keep the system going. Our state’s former attorney general came from a TT and went back to it, so statistics based around 36% reporting rates are more or less endorsed by the state’s former top consumer advocate.

    There will always be enough naïve and trusting 21 and 22-year-olds that will buy into the employment data and sign on the dotted line. I know of nobody who is finding work related to their majors, or that even requires a bachelors for that matter.

    What should you do? Take a bunch of resume-killing jobs? Another unpaid internship that goes nowhere? Under these circumstances, law school looks like a reasonable decision. When somebody sees those employment statistics it seems like a pretty damn good one.

    When the recession ends and law schools continue to churn out debt and disappointment, I think there may be a chance for meaningful change. It’s probably going to take a lot of defaults and a lot of tax dollars going into IBR before anything happens. Nobody with any significant authority is willing to challenge the status quo, so it’s going to take systemic failure to finally spur reform. Only when the dusk starts to fall does the owl of Minerva spread its wings and fly.

  83. 5:36 and Mikoyan, actually, I do know what I'm talking about, as I currently work for the government, and have attempted to go on IBR. Result: "you do not have the partial financial hardship necessary to qualify."


    No. You don't know what the hell you're talking about.

    Give me two things:

    1. Your salary as reported in your 2011 tax returns.

    2. The balance and monthly scheduled payment on your federal (Stafford and GRAD Plus) federal loans.

    And I will explain to you why the former was too high to move the latter onto IBR. It's a very simple arithmetic formula.

  84. I can’t imagine what would happen if I added any facts about depression and law school in a presentation to the pre-law club. I may as well put on a straight jacket and wet my pants, for all the credibility it would win me.


    Honestly I can't follow that reasoning.

    Part of the reason this scam perpetuates is the victims like to pose. So rather than confronting your school with the anger, outrage and action that you are entitled to, you pretend like all is well so that people view you in a positive light (something they probably only do in your imagination).

    Who gives a shit what some thieving law school professor or administrator thinks? Before scamming you, did they sit around and worry about what you would think of them? Who cares that some deluded 0L will lose "esteem" for you if you tell them the truth? Focus on what they will think in two years if they *don't* listen to you, which will be "holy shit why didn't I listen to that wonderful person who tried to warn me?"

  85. What is a "partial financial hardship"?
    A partial financial hardship is when the 10-year standard monthly payment on what you owed when you first entered repayment is more than 15% of discretionary income. You must have a partial financial hardship to be eligible for IBR.

  86. One comment on 11:56: When I was a 0L and all full of my "future lawyer" status, I was at a party where I met this seemingly decent guy. I started talking to him to get to know him. Turned out he was an elementary school teacher, which I thought was odd for a man. When he found out what I was doing, he said something like, "oh no no, the field that's hiring right now is elementary and highschool education. I know so many out of work lawyers right now." I remember being slightly annoyed that some loser male elementary school teacher is so jealous of my future that he's trying to denigrate it. I assumed his friends all went to TTTs, and not the tier-2 law school I would be attending. I looked at him with a mix of pity and superiority.

    . . .

    . . .

    This was in 2005. It's funny, he was literally the only person to warn me as a 0L. Had he been independently joined by possibly one other person, I may have taken a more critical look at my decision.

  87. I think it is unfortunate that so many people are incapable of remembering what its like to see the world through 20 year old eyes. These young people are not homo-economicus, they couldn't be further from it. Comments like 11:13s and 12:19s are great illustrations.

    There is no better evidence of this than the size of each application class. Given the wealth of information now available, would any homo-economicus apply to law school in 2012? Would homo-economicus actually pay full price to attend any school outside of the top few? Absolutely not, the risk of being part of the substantial portion of unemployed graduates is too high to justify the cost.

    And yet thousands and thousands of people will apply and do just that. Most will do no research at all before making the decision. That's just the nature of the 0L, that's what we're actually dealing with. Ideas about reform or the desirability of the status quo need to accept the 0Ls for what they are, not what we'd like them to be.

  88. Because many do not know what else to do. They would rather take the chance, even with bad odds, giving themselves a shot at success. Why do people go to work in jobs that actually ruin their health? You could ask,"Why would they work there?" But they go when they might have other options in a different place.

  89. Here's a theory:

    We are entering a period in history in which there aren't enough "professional" type jobs for all of the kids who grow up expecting to have one. Some number of them are going to be squeezed out and will have no choice but to accept a job like working the floor at Target or making coffee at Starbucks. This will have to happen to a great number of college graduates, including a great number of law school graduates. They can wait and wait for a professional job to become available, but it just can't happen for all of them.

    The law students are particularly unfortunate, because they'll have to have such a job and carry so much debt to boot. And they are particularly unfortunate because, had they chosen a different major in college, they (being smart and capable) probably could have been one of the lucky ones to get a professional job. But nowadays every professional job requires some sort of specific education or training and law students won't qualify for anything other than the dwindling number of law jobs. Their only choice will be to take the job at Starbucks or go back to school. Its truly a miserable situation and I feel very bad for them.

    People keep asking "what is the alternative?" and its true, there are none. The alternative is to work at Starbucks, which seems unthinkable, but that's it.

  90. It's time to start seriously considering that this economy and government are no longer serving the citizenry in fundamental ways, and need to change radically. Personally, I'd rather see it all fall apart than see the things continue this way. The victimization of the unwise on an industrial scale to line the pockets of the wealthy and connected. I'm looking at you too, entire education-idustrial complex. Civil institutions should protect the unwise from poor life decisions. We used to have the religious institutions, community, and to a lesser extent schools. Now the first two are gone, and the third actively harms students.

    I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. Goddammit, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables, slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man; no purpose or place. We have no Great War, no Great Depression. Our Great War is a spiritual war. Our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised by television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars. But we won't; and we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.

    Except for the great depression part Tyler was right. We've got a new one of those now.

    The time is coming. This pot will boil over.

  91. I don't think that it is poorly reasoned to say that 22 year olds are not adults. I am only 27 and I cringe every day about my naivete for signing on Sallie Mae's dotted line.

    I distinctly remember being a senior and thinking to myself, "1) This is a State School, why would they lie? 2) Education = good and its better to do it now than when you have a family. 3) This is a no brainer, even if I do average I still double the salary that I would be making in a cubicle job as an Excel monkey."

  92. Terry Malloy, Please take your inane and poorly written attempts at drama to an OWS board, where you'll be equally derided because you're a terribly untalented writer. This is a law school scam board that focuses on a narrow issue. Thanks.

  93. "We are entering a period in history in which there aren't enough "professional" type jobs for all of the kids who grow up expecting to have one."

    . . . for all the kids who were told, by very detailed (but wrong) placement stats that they would get one in exchange for handing over $150,000 in student loan money.

    Fixed it for you.

  94. terry malloy = jdpainterguy?

  95. @ 8:50,

    I seem to have upset you enough to get your criticisms on multiple threads. As to not clutter the board, you can send any further comments directly to me. Here is my email address: at gmail dot com (it's real).

    Drop me a line. I'd love to send you my W-2. Or a picture of a kitten playing with a deer. What ever would make you my friend again.

    Terry Malloy

  96. For people who relied on statistics when choosing law schools, what attracted you to law schools before you saw the stats?

  97. On Fox11 Sunday Morning in Los Angeles, I just saw the following:

    They're talking about the poor economy and the lack of jobs. An unemployed machine repair / mechanic type of worker with a highschool education bemoans the fact that he spent all that time learning technical mechanical skills that the economy doesn't need. He has gone back to college to get his BS, with the "dream" of going to law school one day so that he can "pass legislation to fix these sorts of things."


  98. Re: IBR, again. Ok. You still have not explained how IBR will benefit MOST government attorneys. I grant that it benefits those who have astronomical levels of debt. However, I currently owe 140k in federal loans, I make 128k, and I do not qualify. (this is after 10 years of government service). I might qualify if I owed 200k, I suppose, but I think my level of debt is more representative of the typical level than 200k is. Just by fooling around plugging in numbers to the online calculator, I determined that someone with my level of debt would not qualify for IBR making above about 85k per year. I passed 85k about 5 years ago. So, if IBR had existed back then, I would have been kicked off at year 5 and liable for the entire amount, with capitalized interest. Maybe you can explain to me how this program solves the problem of debt for public service grads.

  99. "However, I currently owe 140k in federal loans, I make 128k, and I do not qualify."


  100. KML,

    $140,000 at 7% interest results in a monthly payment of about $1,600, or an annual payment of about $19,200 ($1,600 x 12).

    For that payment, the IBR salary cutoff is about $148,000 at the 15% rate, and $212,000 at the new 10% rate. Assuming the level of poverty wages is $20,000 (which is close enough), then

    $148,000 minus $20,000 = discretionary income = $128,000, and 15% of that is $19,200. In other words, you can't go on IBR unless your total annual federal loan payments are greater than 15% of your discretionary income.

    So if you couldn't qualify then either (a) your loans are not federal loans, but rather private loans (that don't qualify for IBR), or (b) you're paying a very very low interest rate, that pushes your monthly payment below $1,600.

  101. I have 140k in federal loans. 5.75 percent interest with the .25 deduction for electronic payments. Would you consider that "very low"? I also have 29k in private loans, which as you know are not factored into the IBR calculations. I mean, we could keep going around and around with you accusing me of making things up, but I'd rather just be able to go on IBR if I can. Yet, the Direct Loans site won't even give me that as an option - they say I can use Income Contingent repayment but no IBR option.

  102. KML,
    With only $111k in loans at a low 5.75%, and earning $128k per year, you won't qualify for IBR. I hope you'll be OK. If not,

  103. I agree, people assume that the bank wouldn't lend them the money if they didn't have a reasonable way to pay it back. The same way you can't get a credit card if you don't have a good credit history.
    People don't understand that student loan tuition is fundamentally different from other debt. The lenders can only gain by lending as much student loan money as possible. There is no way the lenders are going to lose.

  104. "The same way you can't get a credit card if you don't have a good credit history."

    Link? They might give you a teaser ($500 limit) card if you have no credit history, but there's no way you're getting a card with bad credit history and low income.

  105. KML, while I don't know too much about you, I am personally troubled seeing that someone like you making $128K per year in a presumably safe government job is even considering IBR.

    While I don't mean to dictate you life, you should be able to pay off your loan within 3-4 years provided you live modestly.

    But as a previous commenter suggested, do not contemplate suicide. Looks like you have a lot going for you.

  106. Uh, where did I ever say I was contemplating suicide? Thanks for the "live modestly" advice, that wasn't condescending at all. I live and work in NYC, so that isn't really possible. Yes, I am trying to move to a cheaper area, not that that is any of your business. If you haven't heard, it's kind of hard to find other jobs right now. I could sit down and calculate how huge my monthly payments would be to pay off my (total) 170k in loans in "3-4" years but I think that would make me laugh too hard. Some people here have an "interesting" perspective on what living costs are. Anyway, I'm out.

  107. Really?

    You make like $7,000 per month - after all taxes - and your loan payment is about $1,600. You can't live on $5,400 per month?

    That's enough for a $2,000 per month apartment, $1,000 per month for food and going out, and you would still have $2,400 per month for your drug habit.

  108. Every day there's something hilarious on this site. That's why I read it.

  109. We have been down this road before, and when I suggested that living in NYC is not the thing to do for anyone who is not rich and wants to save money, I got jumped on. I do not know where this person lives, but 2000k for a decent apartment in a minimally decent place would be a very hard thing to do if she/he is in Manhattan.



  111. KML,

    I don't mean to be obnoxious. But IMO, anyone making over $100,000 in this economy, no matter where they live (or the size of their family) probably lives comfortably enough to pay off their loan in a reasonable time.

    KML, I also noticed that you have been making good money for a some years. You mentioned that you passed $85K a few years ago. What kind of lifestyle were you living then? Couldn't you have kept that lifestyle with your salary increase and use the extra money to pay down the loan faster?

    As I said in my previous post, I'm not trying to dictate your life. Given your situation, I have no problem with you paying as much (or as little) of your student loan as possible so long as you pay the cost in full. What I DO have a problem with is someone with your good fortune considering IBR and using "cost of living" as an excuse. Because IMO, cost of living can be gamed as easily as law school employment statistics.

    And why do I have a problem with this? Because when student loan reform is eventually on the legislative agenda, I do not want to see banks and other interested parties making the "moral hazard" argument. I do not want to see commercials on CNN showing that the 1% is asking for a student loan bailout.

    PS - "Anyway, I'm out." How convenient. Why do people say this?

  112. Good point 12:05 about the moral hazard argument, although banks are no longer involved in student loans as they come from the government now.

  113. Another troubling thing about KML is that he or she should be saving their money. I know that no one ever gets fired or laid off from a government job, but who knows how long this rule will exist? If Ron Paul wins KML will likely be out on the street, and believe me they ain't gettin' no $128k law job in this market.

  114. "I can’t imagine what would happen if I added any facts about depression and law school in a presentation to the pre-law club. I may as well put on a straight jacket and wet my pants, for all the credibility it would win me. There are simply too many successful adults that keep the system going."

    Here's an idea: Gather alumns from 2008 on. Put a panel together of those who know the reality of law school and life after law school. Powerpoint relevant stats. Find a venue. Figure out how to get the word out that your group will be giving a presentation on what it really means to go to law school. Hold your presentation. Hand out hard copies of the Powerpoint to those who attend so they have a take away. Collect email addresses from those attendees who are interested in receiving more information as it unfolds. Ask them if they will disseminate this information. The point: It's not just you. You're in a group of others who have graduated law school and passed the bar. You should have more authority then.

    Okay, trolls and the infinitely picky, start your engines.

  115. Jeez, people. I didn't come on here to have my finances dissected and my presumed "lifestyle" attacked. I merely wanted to support the person who pointed out earlier that IBR is not the glorious panacea for everyone that some here apparently believe it is. I never said that my situation was in any way comparable to someone with more debt and a lower salary. Obviously, I have not placed paying off my debt quickly above everything else in life - if I had, I would have taken a "big law" job coming out of school, when they were plentiful. I moved to NYC because it was my dream to live here, and now that I have done it, I have realized that living here is not sustainable for me, and I will be moving elsewhere. These are my personal life choices, and really, none of you know anything about me and should not be so angry at me. I never said that I don't intend to pay off the full balance of my loan - I have no other choice, as I do not qualify for IBR. It may take me a while, but I will pay it. And yeah, to the people who are screaming about 2000k/month apartments in NYC, those do exist, but they are some combination of 1. sh*tty; 2. multiple roommates; and 3. minimum 1 hour commute each way to my job. OF COURSE all of those are options, and I am simply choosing not to exercise them. PERSONAL CHOICE. Please calm down, people.

  116. Well, KML, since you're anonymous I wouldn't mind knowing where your $6,500 to $7,000 per month after-tax salary goes. Any way you can itemize your expenses?

  117. I don't have to justify myself to you, random internet stranger. This is not about me, and this whole discussion is derailing the issue. Forget I said anything.

  118. Leave KML alone. He made his point and it will derail the conversation.

  119. 12:34,

    I also think that is a good idea but the problem is that some time later, most 0Ls will meet a family friend or an acquaintance who is a lawyer. That lawyer will drive to the 0L's house in his (leased) BMW convertible and take him to his (virtual) office. There, the lawyer will tell the 0L that he is doing (just barely) well, is very busy (with "networking" and pro bono work) and is writing articles (for a publication no one reads).

    The 0L will most likely think, "Well, that could be me. And besides, my lawyer buddy will hook me up with a job after I graduate!"

    It's the CIIIIRCLE of life...

  120. Yes, all the lovely apartments in great locations, described by the people trying to rent them out. I have been down that road, too. The place with the stove in the living room. The livingroom with the picture windows that looks out over the dumpsters -- no natural light. But I guess she/he could find a solid studio for that amount.

  121. "I don't have to justify myself to you"

    Totally wasn't asking you to justify yourself. I was only curious as to how you spend your money.

  122. Let me make an educated guess as to how KML spends his or her $7,000 of after-tax income.

    $3,500 per month for a 1BR in an elevator building.
    $200 per month for transportation (subway, cabs).
    $300 per month for a few items of new clothing, purchased once a week.
    $1,000 per month for food and going out
    $1,500 per month for loans

    That gets us to $6,500 per month.

    The rest is pocket change.

    Am I close KML?

  123. "I remember thinking to myself that neither the government nor the school would allow me to borrow this much if they thought I could not pay it back."

    This is true for many things. I have many clients come into my office saying, "They would not have loaned me the money if they thought I could not repay it."

    Certainly, most people believe that rational lenders would not lend money without an expectation of being repaid.

    However, the widespread securitization of debt has turned this logic on its head. The person making the loan gets paid for the loans he makes and does not have to worry about default. The loans are either sold to or guaranteed by governmental agencies, or they are sliced and diced into securities, stamped with a AAA rating, and dumped on unsuspecting investors. This is our modern reality, and most adults, let alone 25 year olds, don't understand this.

  124. Yo, KML, you're right, I misunderstood what you said last night. "Low-paying job route" =/= government service.

    Yeah, if you're a sufficiently high GS, IBR isn't going to be available.

  125. Iit is hard for people who do not live in Manhattan to know how expensive it is. There was an article in the Times today heralding the arrival of 40k a year private school tuition after a few years of hovering around 38k. It is a place for the wealthy or people who are at the opposite end of the spectrum and are receiving help with some of their expenses.

  126. People who choose to live in Manhattan get what they deserve. You can be 15 minutes from mid-town near a train in queens for approx. 2K for a 1Br. You can be 15 minutes from downtown in brooklyn for approx. 2k for a 1BR. In both instances in decent neighborhoods near trains (e.g., Astoria, long island city, prospect heights/north slope/ carrol gardens).

    You can't live your sex in the city fantasy, but the NYC working class (including lawyers) live in the outer boroughs.

  127. 1:31 here--Don't cry for me Argentina...

  128. Living in Manhattan is like buying a yacht - a purely personal luxury purchase. William Ockham

  129. Yes, but it is like no other place in the country, maybe the world.

  130. Sex In The City - I caught a couple of episodes. Amazingly it's a wealth fantasy, not a sex fantasy. Ezzard Charles

  131. The horror that we've created. Decent people in honest conversations on how to write off the debts of professionals who make three to four times the median income. Is it any wonder that we have so little left for the poor and working classes. William Ockham

  132. Manhattan is like every other place of great wealth in the country, and the world. And after about a month its resplendent indifference becomes boring even to the wealthy. That's why they made the hamptons.

    @ wealth fantasy


  133. the places on this map: white people's map of NYC are the most homogenous and boring parts of the world. Old money, new money, and clueless post education pre-suburb "young-adults" who's parents still pay their rent.

    Unless you need a molecular gastronomy cupcake served to you by an Oberlin grad with full sleeve tattoo of an ironic crying clown.

  134. I think the debate is driven by an ideological disagreement that wants to prevent a factual inquiry.

    The ideological argument is that consumers and markets are rational.

    Your article raises questions about whether this ideological perspective is factually correct?

    Although we disagree about public student loans, the one thing I will say is that even the government's assumption is that consumers and markets are rational, and, therefore, this justifies the student loans.

    There are people here who probably agree with you about public loans because they believe it distorts the perfect market that would magically address the issue of the educational crisis in the U.S.

    They are probably now feeling uncomfortable your suggestion that there's a factual problem with the ideological of rational consumers and markets.

  135. 4:12 comment about rational consumers and markets posted by Bruh Rabbit

  136. Opps, typos.

    " They are probably now feeling uncomfortable your suggestion that there's a factual problem with the ideological of rational consumers and markets."

    Should read:

    They are probably feeling uncomfortable with any implicit argument that there's a factual problem with the argument that consumers and markets are rational.

  137. I think at this point this thread cannot be hijacked. That said, my question is this: On one hand we have the discussion regarding when a student should stop throwing good money after bad, and should just cut her loses and get out of law school. On the other hand, what of those who have already graduated but haven't managed to tee off on this fabulous career they spend three years (or more) preparing themselves for? At what point does the graduate stop throwing good money after bad, cut her loses and just get out of the profession?

    Which brings up a second point, which necessarily influences the first, what can one do with a law degree aside from practice law? (I'll not include "teaching" law because, well, yeah.) If you can't do anything with half of a law degree, and thus people just keep on truck'n through, it's a bit like the problem a graduate faces: There isn't much else to do aside from staying here and breaking rocks.

  138. Although speaking of economics generally, the points should not be missed here as far as students as "rational" consumers, or their parents:–-part-i.html– part-ii.html– part-iii.html

  139. I think anyone talking students and then not worried about whether they are rational, is not being serious. The problem here that some of you are seeking cures for yourself after the fact when the discussion is about policy before the fact. If you have already graduated law school this discussion it too late for you. The only question is how to get you out of your debt not how to prevent you from having had the debt in the first place. I understood the article as being about whether we can expect some student to understand rationally what to do? Otherwise, the comments about 25 year old can think for themselves makes little sense.

  140. FYI talking about sex and the city = revealing that you're old. 1999 is two decades ago and no one graduating in the last few years has even heard of that show.

  141. Are you kidding. It's almost like Law and Order. I travel a lot. It's on somewhere almost everyday-- even overseas.

  142. NYC is a dirty overpriced toilet with a fat and ugly population. I prefer the oc.

  143. NYC--Greatest city in the world... Paris next, then Sydney.

  144. I haven't read the other comments yet, so I apologize if I'm repeating points made earlier.



    If someone came up to you and said, "hey here's a product that you absolutely don't need. It's worthless, and in fact having it will more likely hurt you than help you," you would certainly refuse to pay for it.

    But let's say you said, "okay I'll spend three years of my life and $90,000" as part of a payment plan to get this thing." And it wasn't until two years and 60k into the plan that you realized the product is useless. Would you continue? Would you drop another year of your fast-vanishing youth? Would you spend another 30k?

    Of course not.

    All those folks who respond with, "Yeah but dude you should finish at least then you have the degree and a chance of job" have NO idea how bad it really is out there.

    The fact of the matter is that having the degree means nothing. It feels nice, sure. It makes Mom and Dad proud, sure. But as a real-life practical matter, your third year of law school is useless. It teaches you nothing, and you gain a degree that in no way changes your employability.


    And look, I can commiserate on the social stigma of being a dropout: as I mentioned in a previous thread, I dropped out of Medical School after two years. The metric tons of bullshit you have to put up with when family labels you a "dropout" is real and it's not easy to put up with. But you soldier through and get on with life. For those who are willing to listen and are rational, you can even explain your choice and earn some grudging admiration from them. If you're really worried about how it'll play, discuss the issue, at length with your parents. Provide them the data to demonstrate how and why it makes sense to not pay for a useless third year of law school.

    If they're so hopelessly irrational (or perhaps just arational) that they refuse to hear and understand why dropping out is the only reasonable option, then you've just got to accept that their value structure is so out of line with your own that real communication on the matter is impossible.


  145. Move to North Dakota and drill for oil. This is what I would do if I did not have a legal job. And if this kid doesn't think he'll get one, that's what he should do. If he can stand up to his parents and make some money, they'll respect him far more than if he got a meaningless law degree and languished in debt.

  146. "Move to North Dakota and drill for oil."

    That's real helpful.

  147. "That's real helpful."

    Do you have a better idea? You can make a lot of money up there, much more than a lot of the "lucky" law grads that end up at crappy law firms.

  148. Anyone who says law school is easy is either lying or delusional, but JD Match can help alleviate some of the added stress involved with finding a place to employ that hard earned degree.

  149. This is from my law school (ranked between 60 and 60 on US news rankings) - a crappy place to be with professors (like most other law schools) having no clue on what real business needs today.

    I cannot believe that these people have NO shame... pay up now so that you don't have to pay for next 2 years....

    "From: " - School of Law - 2012 Student List"
    Subject: Kickoff of Third-Year Giving Program
    Date: Tue, January 31, 2012 2:47 pm


    On Wednesday, February 1st the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs will
    officially kickoff the Third-Year Giving Program. What is the Third-Year Giving
    Program you ask? It is an opportunity for students to leave their mark at Pitt Law
    before they graduate.

    We are asking all third-year students to consider making a pledge of $20.12 (a
    three-year pledge of $60.36) or more to a designation of their choose. Therefore,
    students have an opportunity to support their student organizations, Moot Court,
    LRAP, etc. after their days at XX Law are long gone. If you make a pledge to the
    Third-Year Giving Campaign, the Development and Alumni Office will not send you a
    pledge reminder until the spring of 2013! That's right, you don't have to make a
    payment until NEXT spring. It is not about the amount of money the Class of 2012
    raises, but the total number of students who participate. Please consider joining
    your fellow classmates and make your pledge TODAY!
    XX Law Class of 2012
    The Third-Year Giving Program
    The program will officially kickoff on Wednesday, February 1st - the 100 Days till
    Stop down to the Student Lounge and talk with one of your Third-Year Giving
    Committee members about why and how to make a pledge!
    The committee will have a table from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. on February 1st and 2nd in the
    Student Lounge
    Make your pledge ($20.12 during the next three years) to any Law School designation
    of your choice. Now is your time to make a difference.
    There are a few easy ways that you can make your pledge. First, visit our
    Third-Year Giving website for more information, to view a list of the committee
    members and to fill-out an online pledge form. Two, visit the second floor
    receptionist's desk to get a pledge card. Also at the receptionist's desk will be a
    "drop-off box".
    Feel free to drop-off your pledge card at any time.
    Three, ask a committee member - they will always carry extra pledge cards J! Or finally, call (XX) or email ( the Office of Development and Alumni
    Affairs and ask how you can get involved.

    *Incentives and Prizes for Third-Year Giving participants will be announced soon.
    Get excited and continue to check your email! Please add to your Junk Mail Filter's Approved Senders List.
    Instructions can be found here.

  150. The poster above is correct that most law students who are 22 or 23 years old, aren't quite adults yet, especially if they go to law school immediately following college, and have no real life work experience.

    However, consider that many law students are older than 25, even older than 30. I knew many who were in their 40s. I knew one man in law school in his 40s, with two young children. He was in the very bottom of his graduating class, but he remained in law school regardless, racking up enormous student loan debt, while his wife struggled to support the family for three years. He even failed out at one point and had to petition for readmission. Its very unlikely that he wound up with a decent job after graduation. Its hard to excuse that kind of short-sightedness and foolish squandering of money, when the adult in question is much older, not a 22 year old "kid" just out of college.

  151. @12:28

    "What is the Third-Year Giving Program you ask? It is an opportunity for students to leave their mark at PITT Law before they graduate."


    All that work to avoid so, yet you have failed at keeping the school name a secret...


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