Sociology in America has a long and distinguished tradition of studying individuals and groups who are in some way socially marginal. A close look at the margin, besides being interesting in its own right, has a way of casting new light on the center -- on the socially respected and respectable. This is certainly true in our own little corner of the world. A informal sociological field study that anyone can undertake is to spend a few minutes a day reading a genuinely respectable legal blog -- for instance Volokh or Prawfsblawg -- and then to devote the same amount of time to perusing JD Underground or Shit Law Jobs.
For example, reading this post and thread and then this one allows one to immerse oneself into two worlds that in an economic sense are closely related, but which in another are separated by the sociological equivalent of inter-galactic distances, all without leaving the comfort of one's academic office or parents' basement, as the case may be. Or you could compare this one and this one.
(The spectrum between between the hyper-respectable and the aggressively marginal is filled by sites such as Above the Law, which keeps one foot in the world of big law firm bonus gossip and the like, while also publishing plenty of broadsides that wouldn't be out of place on the scam blogs, and Top Law Schools, which publishes unedited law school PR, but also tolerates surprising amounts of straightforward criticisms of law school propaganda in its forums).
In all seriousness, few things would do legal academia more good than an imperial edict requiring every law professor in the country to spend 15 minutes of his or her precious time every day reading JD Underground. I'm genuinely fascinating by the question of what effect this would have on peoples' behavior. Would it be possible for a faculty that was forced to perform this particular exercise to just go on doing the same things they're doing now, in the same way, in their classrooms, and in faculty meetings, and on their word processors?
Speaking of sociology, one of the things that most strongly distinguishes the respectable from the marginal is language, and in particular the social etiquette surrounding its use. It's no coincidence that, while legal academic blogs tend to feature an exaggeratedly polite tone and very strong informal norms against using "crude" language and the like, the scam blogs go radically in the other direction, reveling in the obscene and scatalogical.
When I started this blog, I chose its title precisely for the purpose of signaling that, to the extent such a thing would be possible given the author's position, this was not going to be a respectable enterprise. (The success of this gesture was made immediately evident by the fact that an especially pompous law professor went so far as to declare himself "disgusted" that a fellow legal academic would refer to the contemporary American law school as a "scam.")
Of course this creates all sorts of real contradictions and tensions -- how can I write the things I write given the job I get paid to do etc. etc? -- but those tensions and contradictions are unavoidable consequences of being a participant-observer in regard to the economic and ideological crisis that is overtaking American law schools. The margin isn't a comfortable location, but it's a very interesting one.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
On the margin
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Just one more thought on yesterday's topic: Go to: http://dirwww.colorado.edu/news/r/a4165190c4cebd71123091b992ae0fcb.htmlReplyDelete
Wherein, the CU media relations department explained that in 2003 the ABA found CU Law School out of compliance with accreditation standards. The law school's proposal to build a new law school adequately addressed the ABA's deficiencies findings.
The post goes on to say that "Students will be the largest contributors, paying $26.9 million of the total building costs through a law school tuition differential of $1,000 a year, which began in 1999, and a $400 a year assessment of all 29,000 CU-Boulder students."
LP: Did you think the old building was inadequate? How would you characterize the new building? Spot on? Overkill? In any way still inadequate?
I love you, LawProf!ReplyDelete
The norms extend well beyond refraining from the occasional (or incessant) f-bomb. As has been repeatedly noted by commenters here, the norms on "respectable" blogs also prevent cogent, substantive criticism -- even when couched in polite language.ReplyDelete
I'd be willing to guess that a poorly written, disorganized and obscenity-filled post would NOT be deleted as long as it was supportive of the establishment. For all the talk about the value of critical discourse in law schools, the professoriate is extremely touchy.
For example, there's a relatively well-known professor at my school who teaches Animal Rights. He claims that he likes real debate and controversy. He intentionally says incendiary things because he claims to like getting people riled up and debating. But when someone actually attempts to offer a meaningful argument that disagrees with his veeeeery-far-left views, he gets angry and exasperated. My only A+'s in law school came from the early realization that this guy, much like many of my professors, was a hypersensitive prima donna, and it was my job to kiss his ass relentlessly. I'm not proud of it, but it worked.
9:02: Answered in the thread following the relevant post.ReplyDelete
When covering a filthy, morally-bankrupt industry, one is not required to mention it in glowing or professional terms. I have simply provided a visual rhetorical device to them term "third tier toilet."ReplyDelete
One thing I think you should commend yourself for, and ask others to do - is to blog about your area of interest.
Whatever your area of interest as a professor, you're not a real scholar on that topic unless you blog about it and debate the issue with commenters and other bloggers.
Throughout this blog, yours and our understanding of the problem has grown immensely to the point where I would say you are a foremost expert on the *real* issues of legal education.
It's not just this topic though. Volokh does it with first amendment law, Leiter does it with philosophy (although he needs to open comments more so that it's conversation), and yes even prawfsblawg does it on a random potpourri of topics (although I think prawfsblawg posts are often lazily writen, see e.g. Markel's linking to a youtube of an SNL sketch and calling that a post).
Any professor out there who lists an interest on their bio and does not blog about it should be considered second tier.
I very respectfully and very seriously love the shit out of this blog.ReplyDelete
Amazing post, thank you for everything Prof Campos.ReplyDelete
Would that such an imperial edict could be accomplished. I credit Elie at Above the Law for opening my eyes and steering me toward the scam blogs. Until this blog started, I didn't think anyone attached to a law school was paying any attention.ReplyDelete
Also, the academic prissiness about foul language only underscores to me professors' complete separation from the world of practice. I remember as a brand new lawyer receiving my first phone call from opposing counsel which began "What the fuck do you think you're doing?" The level of discourse hasn't improved much since, and ignoring or getting offended at people who use curse words hasn't really been an option.
Sad but true (although I wish lawyers behaved more professionally).
Another big disconnect b/w legal academia and real world law is that legal academics like to give super-long answers - treatises really - to questions where as in the real world your clients expect a twitter version (that is also a complete and correct answer).
Those two jdu links you posted are really the most extreme cases.... one of them is 0 for 16 in regular job interviews and 0 for 5 in clerkship interviews. Clearly there is something amiss with him unrelated to the legal job market. I mean, in any profession you can take the absolutely most unsuccessful people and use them to criticize the profession in the same fashion. It would probably be better to use as examples "normal" people who are struggling, which are not that hard to find among recent law grads.ReplyDelete
Not an "extreme" case. Most recent graduates are in similar dire straights, only difference is that OP is really up the river because he is older and doesn't have parents or family to fall back upon.ReplyDelete
Failure as the new normal...ReplyDelete
It's sad that we have to resort to such methods to figure out how graduates are doing, because law schools can't tell the truth in their job placement statistics.ReplyDelete
They have the data, they have the information, yet they hide it and present fiction in its place.
10:27: Isn't one of those guys basically at the tip-top of his class, though? Although he is, by his admission, at a crummy school, doesn't that actually reinforce the central point that at least some, perhaps a lot, that law schools are predatory? If the best of the best (at a TTT like Wherever-It-Is Law) is screwed, how screwed are the 20,000 or so students, representing an aggregate of perhaps two billion in debt, who fall "below" him?ReplyDelete
9:18: I don't get that attitude from professors. At best, with tactics like that all they do is get people to parrot their viewpoints--for the duration of their class and no longer. They do not actually convert anyone to their way of thinking or materially change anything.
I mean, the impulse to force people to behave according to what you desire and to profess to believe what you believe is certainly understandable--but when your power is so *clearly* bounded, shouldn't you instead opt for tactics of persuasion, including encouraging open and frank discussion?
People like that are doubly sad because they probably think they're fighting the good fight. And as someone who genuinely does embrace far-left positions on animal rights, it *really* bothers me, since petty people like that do nothing more than poison the well I drink from.
@9:50 -- that would mean there were no scholars before the Internet. You do not have to blog to be a first rate scholar.ReplyDelete
Although I read your blog regularly, I try not to post comments on it too often. That said, I feel compelled to make two observations.ReplyDelete
1) Calling oneself an occupant of or observer from the margins, or "not respectable," has a certain romantic ring to it, but it does not make one an occupant of the margins or a genuine rebel, any more than wearing a leather jacket makes Duncan Kennedy a member of the Hell's Angels. Whether your blog is popular or unpopular, polite or impolite, it surely belongs in the category of the "mainstream" or "respectable," albeit in a fairly standard and not unenjoyable bourgeois-bomb-thrower way. (Not that your advice to professors to inform themselves better about students facing job crises is problematic; it seems like perfectly sound advice to me.)
2) Since you began this blog, this is about the tenth time you've noted, in some way or other, the "tensions and contradictions" you mention here. The closest you came to actually discussing them came early in the blog. Since then, you generally wave away any such interest in actually examining these issues by describing them as "unavoidable consequences," saying they are of no moment because you're interested strictly in "structural problems," etc. Neither of those justifications are especially strong. (Indeed, the latter one seems especially odd, because you are more than happy to describe and condemn other people's actions to make your points about various "structural problems." Surely if anecdotes are good for the goose, they're good for the author.)
My point is not to ask you to flay yourself daily on the blog. That would be tedious and of diminishing value, and certainly much of your journalism here has been useful. At some point, however, an honest writer actually *writes* about those tensions and contradictions instead of indefinitely deferring that discussion.
Who is Paul Horwitz?ReplyDelete
To the Professor:ReplyDelete
If this were a perfect world, you'd quit your job and blog full time and join various protest movements. But it's not a perfect world. It's somewhat inconsistent that you blog about the law school scam and still get paid to teach law. I don't fault you for that. We're human and life is full of inconsistentcies. I think that's a perfectly legitimate answer.
But in my book, at least you've come out with the intellectual honesty to say law school is a scam, unlike practically all of your peers who don't think anything is wrong with saddling a 25 year old with 200K of debt and no job prospects. As they say, the first step in correcting a problem is acknowledging the problem.
9:02: "The law school's proposal to build a new law school adequately addressed the ABA's deficiencies findings."ReplyDelete
The ABA has "deficiency findings" over the quality of the building? I literally just laughed so hard that milk came out my nose.
Mikoyan: This is 10:27... He's an extreme case because 1) he was at the top of his class and 2) is 0 for 21 in interviews. This shows that his academic credentials are getting him many many interviews but he's not getting any job offers. This suggests there's something else going on... the percentage of interviews leading to offers is large enough that 0 for 21 is highly unlikely to be due to the job market, and much more likely due to what goes on at the interview.ReplyDelete
11:40 makes a good point. I'd say he only works as an instructive example if no one below him ( in the top range) got a job. Did others in his class, with lesser credentials, get a job? Did anyone with similar credentials get a job?ReplyDelete
Paul Horwitz? Why would a member of the Beastie Boys care about the law school scam?ReplyDelete
11:40 (10:27): That's a good point. Maybe he shows up pantsless.ReplyDelete
The Beastie Boys... How old are you??ReplyDelete
10:27 Sure, that or the fact that there are 150 applicants for every position. An 0-21 streak when your chances of success in any individual trial is 0.66% isn't even a one standard deviation event.ReplyDelete
You do understand that not everyone who puts in an application is selected for an interview, right?ReplyDelete
Once again, Horwitz' main concern is Campos rather than the law school scam. Fuck off Horwitz.ReplyDelete
10:27 You got me. Your implication probably stands though; there probably aren't a vast number of people applying to and receiving interviews, and this guy is probably just not getting jobs because he's socially unpleasant or a terrible interviewer.ReplyDelete
It probably has nothing to do with the fact that he's trying to swim up an impossibly steep stream with far more people desperate for these jobs than there are jobs.
Or, the opposite of that. Do you read this blog ever? Do you pay attention to data?
Just once, I wish a member of the establishment would be willing to seriously debate a member of the scamblog movement on these issues. Not simply throw up the same old points and ride away while their arguments are torn apart in the comments section. Members of this blog and others have even taken the fight to PrawfsBlawg and on every legal site and blog where professors and deans seek to rehash the same myths and propaganda. After all this time, they refuse to come onto the field, preferring instead to lob arrows from behind their ivory walls.ReplyDelete
10:27 - He is not an extreme example. I can give you many more, if you wish. That's precisely the point - regardless of how good one is, there aren't enough jobs to go around.ReplyDelete
If you would like some more examples, here are some recent grads whose situations I am personally acquainted with:
1) the individual who was on the national mock trial team, who was a great student - 1st job out of law school and after passing bar was at Home Depot. 2nd job was making $200 a month (not a typo) in a law office.
2) the young lady on Law Review who was in the top 10 percent - after graduation, got job offers of $10 an hour for paralegal positions. It took her 3 years and losing her home to finally find an attorney job that paid more than $10 an hour.
3) myself: on dean's list, honors scholar, on a national team, did an internship w/ a federal judge, and also did an unpaid internship w/ a public interest organization for almost a year, speak four languages, and have more than 10 years pre-law school work experience - currently making $13,000 a year in a non-legal position. Consider myself very lucky compared to most of the recent grads I know.
4) my friend who also speaks 3 to 4 languages - makes $500 a month (not a typo) working 80 work weeks at a firm.
5) In addition to above, I would say that about 30% of the recent grads with whom I maintain contact have been working for more than a year in unpaid internships. It is yet to be known whether they will ever obtain paying jobs for their efforts.
I realize that many of you are going to ask for more info. or try to find fault w/ the info. I provide. Go at it. The info. I provide isn't meant to be a scientific study. However, the sheer number of individuals who are experiencing the same thing that JDUnderground relates on his blog tells me that he is not an anomaly. My fellow recent grads and their situations are not anomalies. They are representative of the new normal: a normal where we are expected to repay the enormous amount of tuition we took out to become a lawyer on a salary that is next to nothing if not nothing at all.
I am not sure how all this huge debt will be paid off. But I do know this, if we continue to ignore the problem and justify our consciences by believing that such situations are mere anomalies, we have little chance of coming up with solutions to solve it.
Please post your email address. I would be interested in seeing your resume. If you are working 80 hours for $500 a week, I think my firm could do better than that. How does an extra $50/wk sound to you? Caveat: I will not pay relocation costs.
There is obviously a tremendous problem with recent, and not-so-recent, law graduates being able to get jobs that allow them to achieve a decent standard of living and pay back their loans. However, someone who actually manages to get 21 interviews and strikes out IS an anomoly - it's much more typical to send out hundreds of aps / resumes and not get any interviews at all.ReplyDelete
The question of the relative authenticity of different styles of rebellion is I suppose potentially interesting, but framing the matter in a binary fashion between "genuine" rebels and everybody else is a way of foreclosing any real analysis before it begins. Is Duncan Kennedy a rebel? In some important (non-sartorial) senses he certainly is. His ideas about law and legal education have been both influential and marginalized. It's inconceivable, for instance, that he could be dean of HLS or a federal judge.ReplyDelete
There is of course a potentially romanticized element to the spectrum running from critique to dissent to resistance, but there is also a romanticized quality to the other side of that slippery slope, that goes from legitimation to celebration to something like worship of the status quo.
In other words, it's never the wrong time for a little reflective self-criticism -- and that goes for everyone.
Fuck off Horwitz, you are a piece of shit. You are jealous of Campos and the admiration he has won from so many. You yourself have done nothing. You've tried to make your own name on the back of his work. Your own blog is completely ignored unless you are talking about Campos. Who the hell ever heard of Paul Horwitz until he became the guy who writes about Lawprof? Nobody. You are a pathetic nothing.ReplyDelete
That seems unnecessarily dickish.ReplyDelete
12:31 here. Thanks for the offer, but it would probably require my taking another bar exam. Not worth it to me to pay a couple of hundred or thousands of dollars to take a bar exam just to make near minimum wage. I can get the near minimum wage without paying the fees. I decided awhile back that I wouldn't pay another dime to work in this profession, since the only thing anyone in my position expects to get nowadays are vague offers of another $13,000 a year job, if we are to get paid for our work at all.
I got burned once into believing that if I gave up my salary for several years, paid $100,000 in legal tuition and worked hard for free at unpaid internships for a few years that I might have a shot at a decent living making more than minimum wage. I won't be burned again into spending more money in this field. I have no intention of ever working in the legal profession again.
Quite frankly, I think the only reason the profession exists is to see how much money it can get from individuals. And with regards to recent grads, it has been quite successful in doing that.
The implication of Horwitz's comment is that a knowledgeable insider (such as a law school professor) ought not to expose or write critically about the law school racket unless he also writes about his own internal "tensions and contradictions." Otherwise he's not an "honest writer," and presumably should just keep quiet, stop moaning, and leave the field to the likes of Horwitz. Which is bunk. As a reader who has been drawn into this blog, I find Lawprof's dissections of the scam and the scammers both compelling and valuable. I couldn't really care less about how internally conflicted he might be feeling, or any other aspect of his personal psychology.ReplyDelete
On the day when crime dons the apparel of innocence — through a curious transposition peculiar to our times — it is innocence that is called upon to justify itself.ReplyDelete
- The Rebel
After 12:31's parade of superhumans, I'm not sure whether I should feel better or worse.ReplyDelete
The case for feeling worse: taking those descriptions as true, if the field is in such a crisis that such people are basically unemployed, even an unlikely and miraculous recovery would still not benefit the middling homo sapiens graduates, like myself. Also, general appreciation that our society is wasting the talents, not to say lives, of clearly exceptional young men and women, which is bad.
The case for feeling better: schadenfreude.
Since it's pretty close, I think I'll go with what I have the most experience in, and feel worse.
Your comments remind me of the following story:
Two men, from the safety of their own ship, observe another ship sinking, which results in ten passengers being thrown overboard. The first man leaves the safety of his own ship to jump into the water and save as many people as possible. Because of his sacrifices, five of the ten people are saved as the other five drown before he can reach him. The second man does nothing, but watches everything from the safety of his own ship.
When both men reach the shore, the second man then criticizes the rescue efforts of the first man to anyone who will listen, remarking that if he had done one thing or another, he could have saved all ten lives instead of five. He is hoping that by focusing on the rescue efforts of the first individual and what could have been done to improve the situation, it will deflect criticism of the fact that HE did nothing. But it doesn't. Everyone recognizes that the second man did nothing to help the situation because he was quite content with the status quo.
You can disagree w/ what Prof. Campos states in his blog or with some of his proposed solutions. You might even offer up some better solutions, if they exist. They are welcome. But regardless of what you say, it cannot deflect from the fact that Prof. Campos has stuck his neck out and had the courage to challenge the status quo, address the comfortable establishment, and point out something that so many seem content to ignore: that the current model is unsustainable and that such unsustainability is not only dangerous for recent grads, but for the entire profession overall.
And now my four questions for YOU, Mr. Horwitz:
1) Which man do you think YOU are in the story above?
2) What have you done or how have YOU contributed in helping your profession recognize some of the challenges it faces with the current legal educational structure?
3) What are some of the challenges the current legal educational structure poses to the future of the legal profession?
4) And the most important question to me: what can be done to change the current legal educational structure, so that it doesn't effectively preclude dedicated but not wealthy individuals from entering the legal profession?
If anyone else would like to chip in w/ answers, please feel free to do so!
sthu 12:56 and stop harassing away people who want to post here. i'm glad prof. horwitz commented although i wish he'd explain in more simple and concrete terms what he means. i find his criticism to be a bit vague.ReplyDelete
10:27/11:40 again... to 12:09 etc: if you have a 1/3 chance of succeeding in a given interview, the chance of 21 consecutive failures is (2/3)^21 or 0.02 percent (not 2 percent, so one in 5,000) If it's 1/4 it's (3/4)^2 or 0.2 percent or one in 500. If you ask what would the success rate have to be in order to have a 50/50 chance of failing at your first 21 interviews, it works out to 2.75 percent or about one in 36. I don't care how bad the job market is, they don't interview anywhere near 36 people per position.ReplyDelete
My guess would be a) he bombs interviews, or b) has turned down opportunities voluntarily.
In my experience, the only way a candidate goes 0-21 on interviews is he hasn't changed his diaper. I bet the interviews were really short too.ReplyDelete
I have read here some critical and snide references to Thomas Friedman of the NYT but this column ought to snap all of us to attention. Average is Over http://tinyurl.com/8a78hhh What he says there goes for lawyers as well and in my opinion is the root cause of the recession. The Fed said today that we will be in trouble for a few more years. That may be optimistic.ReplyDelete
@Law Office ComputingReplyDelete
An interesting excerpt from the second-to-top rated comment on Mr. Friedman's article:
Within a few months we've slipped from solidly middle class, with two good incomes for the adults and part-time income for the teenagers, to no wages at all. I lost my publishing job eight months ago to India; this week my husband just lost his job as a lawyer for the indigent (not because demand was down!). We have multiple degrees from excellent universities, including an Ivy, solid work histories of significant achievement, skills that have evolved with the times. And we still have all the financial obligations that come with that middle class life. None of that matters. We lost our jobs specifically because of all that, because we made decent salaries, and kicking us to the curb, along with the rest of our over-50 colleagues, helps the balance sheet.
Friedman's article makes no sense. On the one hand he praises the industriousness of Chinese factory workers who can be woken from sleep to snap-to-it and crank out iPhones with shiny new screens. On the other hand, he says US workers need more education to keep up? Really? Was it the Chinese workers' educations that made them such diligent, hard-working employees? I don't think so.ReplyDelete
Friedman is an idiot.
How are you interpreting anything that Friedman said as "praising the industriousness of Chinese factory workers"? The ONLY thing that Friedman actually said was, "What the iPad won’t do in an above average way a Chinese worker will. Consider this paragraph from Sunday’s terrific article in The Times by Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher about why Apple does so much of its manufacturing in China:". Everything else was a quote from that article.
Friedman quoting from an article and praising the reporting can hardly be read as an endorsement of the practices that are being reported on.
Hey Hey Paul Horowitz:ReplyDelete
-This whole thing isn't about Campos.- It's about people paying astronomical law school tuition, in the form of life-burdening, non-dischargeable student loan debt, in return for really terrible job "options."
What, specifically, are you doing to assist students at your school, and recent graduates, secure legal employment that pays an actual living wage? We really want to know! Please be specific!
Introducing the 50/50 proposition makes the calculations more likely to imply that he's some sort of social freak, when there is no reason to make it a coin flip. I think one standard deviation is a reasonable level of certainty. Re-run your numbers and you'll see that you will *definitely* get to a number of people that *are* getting interviewed for open positions.ReplyDelete
That said, I'm probably not going to convince you. Doesn't matter. I don't know this guy from Adam, but I do know plenty of people who have had dozens of interviews and come up on the short end of the stick. Then there are those who get two interviews and find themselves employed.
@2:52-- I think in a roundabout way, those are the questions Horwitz was asking of LawProf. The consensus on the blog,however, is that what LawProf does at Colorado is irrelevant. That he has started tis blog is enough.ReplyDelete
What the world needs now / is a new kind of tension / cause the old one just bores me to death.ReplyDelete
I don't know what the world may want / but some words of wisdom could comfort us / Think I'll leave that up to someone wiser.
Seems to fit Prof. Horwitz' posting, somehow.
It's not easy being a participant/observer and speaking out against the immorality and quasi-fraud that you see around you, the inherent unfairness.ReplyDelete
I've always said LawProf is moral, because what this tells me is that LawProf learned the "golden rule." Do unto others that which you would have done unto you.
LawProf worked hard for what he obtained, that doesn't mean that you check your concern for humanity at the door to the Ivory Tower. Only a self-centered immoral prick would do that.
No apparently what the world needs now is yet another law school in Indiana.ReplyDelete
The "feasibility report" makes for some scary reading.
2:52: Even giving him the benefit of the doubt and assuming he is one standard deviation unlucky, you get that they are interviewing at least 13 people for each position. Also keep in mind it's not like after 21 unsuccessful attempts he finally succeeded.. he's still going and likely will take many more interviews.ReplyDelete
By the way all I'm saying is that he's not a good example. Like 12:31 illustrated, there are plenty of much better examples out there.
I received a membership survey from the ABA in my inbox today. Here it is:ReplyDelete
The American Bar Association invites you to share your opinions by completing a very short, online survey to track our progress in several key areas.
Your participation is extremely important to us so we've kept the survey very short and it will take less than 5 minutes to complete. The deadline to participate is midnight Sunday, February 5. All responses are confidential and will be reported in aggregate.
To complete the survey, please click here.
Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts.
If you have any problems accessing the link, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org".
It's a 20 question survey, so it will take you less than 1 minute to fill in the "strongly disagree" bubble for all the questions. At the end of the survey I left the following comment:
Shut down third and fourth tier law schools ("TTToilets"). Their graduates have no hope of employment in an over saturated legal market. These TTToilets only exist to suck up federal student loans for administrators and tenured faculty.
Please go to http://maestro.abanet.org/trk/click?ref=zpqri74vj_3-2hk5aq7-0-14becx315903x112861& and tell the ABA it sucks!
When you interview for a position, its important to realize that it cannot be analogize to rolling the dice with a certain percentage of success on each roll.ReplyDelete
If the competition is very intense for positions, you could be a decent enough candidate but just not the top candidate and always losing out to the best candidate for dozens of positions.
For example, if say, each position interviews 20 candidates, it is INCORRECT to say each candidate has a 1/20 chance. The #1 candidate could be HYS, LR, etc while the #20 could be top 25% TTT, etc. And you could be that #20 candidate and in reality have much less than 1/20 chance for each and every position you interview for.
If he was in the top few percent of his class as he is saying, it's not unreasonable to assume he's at least in the middle of the pack for the typical position he applied to. I'm guessing his competition was more the normal law student rather than the HYS type based on the fact he was TTTT and was applying to a wide range of jobs.ReplyDelete
I agree that LawProf may not be “on the margin,” indeed, the title of his blog—and its impact—derive from his location as an insider. However, I do think he occupies an interestingly liminal and disruptive space “between the hyper-respectable and the aggressively marginal,” as he puts it.
LawProf has always acknowledged that by illuminating the raw deal of contemporary legal education he is biting the hand that feeds him, while making the more important point that he is—as are all of us in academia—also part of the hand. Increased personal reflection by LawProf on the paradox of his position doesn’t seem necessary, nor is the absence of such reflection somehow dishonest of him as a writer. (Aren’t the tensions and contradictions of his position obvious enough that we can be spared his own naval-gazing on such? Also, elsewhere you've criticized "how fond Campos is of making himself the hero of his own story," so why encourage it?)
I suspect many law professors would like to see him take the bait of personal reflection, though, whether to play “gotcha” in some way or to outsource our own examination of the contradictions and complicity inherent in being a law professor at this particular economic moment. It’s much easier to critique something LawProf says about his position, or how he says it, than to form one's own opinion of what’s structurally going on here.
I can't believe all these comments about whether or not JDUnderground is a good example of an unemployed law graduate. With countless other examples that demonstrate the point - that recent grads have little chance of getting paid employment in today's market - does it really matter if JD is the perfect representative of a recent grad or not?ReplyDelete
Often, the comments on this blog demonstrate the ability of those in the legal profession to go off on tangents. Please don't forget to look at the forest through all the trees, everyone. And whether JD has a 1/20 or a 1/100 chance of succeeding in an interview or whether he wore purple underwear to his last interview says little about the overall situation. Is it really worth taking up all this space on this blog?
@4:34 It's just another example of a phenomenon you see on the scamblogs, they pick the absolute worst-case scenario and present it as typical. You see the same phenomenon with employment statistics. They complain mightily about how the law school webpages post misleading data, and then turn around and interpret the data in the most negative way possible, assuming the worst possible outcome for the data that is missing. How is this any better?ReplyDelete
There is a real problem with the legal profession that needs to be addressed, but it has to be done in an objective fashion with accurate interpretations of what is going on. When 30-40 percent of people with law degrees don't end out becoming lawyers, and many of them are saddled with debt, then something has to be done about it. But scouring jdundeground looking for the biggest fuckup who's ever made it through law school and then using him as a typical example doesn't help the cases of the many who really did everything right and are hurting.
"Calling oneself an occupant of . . . the margins . . . has a certain romantic ring to it." - Paul HorwitzReplyDelete
Spoken like one who is truly out of touch with the real situation.
Mr. Horwitz, after graduating from law school and passing the bar, I work a near-minimum wage job that is not even legally related. I have tens of thousands of student loan debt that has to be paid off. I am not sure how I will ever pay it off on the salary that me and so many fellow grads make.
There is nothing remotely 'romantic' about our situation. Rather, it tends more to resemble hell. If you doubt anything I am saying, go try working at Wal-Mart or another low-paying job and try to make your house payment on such a salary. You may find several of the graduates from your law school working alongside you, except for them, it won't be a temporary experiment - it is their reality.
Trust me, Mr. Horwitz, romantic will be the last word you use to describe the situation. So out of touch.
Your point is well taken. I guess I know so many in similar circumstances as JD, that I really didn't consider what he had or hadn't done to influence his situation. (And I also didn't feel we were given enough info. to ascertain that.)
I guess seeing so many grads in similar situations to JD's has resulted in such situations becoming the norm for me. I don't even give it a second thought anymore. And given that the majority of recent grads I know are in his situation and run the gamut from being your regular law graduate to a superstar, I guess my mistake may be that I no longer look at what the individual is doing but rather see this as indicative of an overall trend.
Maybe the differences also stem from what one sees: if one sees a lot of unemployed graduates (as I do), then JDUnderground's tale is just one of many. And if one doesn't personally know a lot of unemployed grads in situations similar to JD's, then JD's situation may seem worthy of introspection, because it would seem unique or hard to believe. Given that 50% of all recent law graduates that I know are working in retail or low-paying, non-legal jobs, his situation did not strike me in the least as being indicative of a character flaw, because everyday I see people who HAVE done everything right, and they're still in the same situation as he is. So it seemed irrelevant to me what he was doing at those interviews because he would have ended up like most of my fellow grads anyway: in low-paying or no-paying jobs.
But I see your point. And it's a point that has been well-taken.
"@4:34 It's just another example of a phenomenon you see on the scamblogs, they pick the absolute worst-case scenario and present it as typical. You see the same phenomenon with employment statistics. They complain mightily about how the law school webpages post misleading data, and then turn around and interpret the data in the most negative way possible, assuming the worst possible outcome for the data that is missing. How is this any better?"
It's just another example of a phenomenon you see with the law schools, they pick the absolute best-case scenario and present it as typical. You see the same phenomenon with employment statistics. They boast mightily about future employment on their webpages and then turn around and interpret the data in the most positive way possible, assuming the best possible outcome for the data that is missing. How is this any better?
Dunno. You tell me?
4:44: at least one approach suggests caution that would lead to, at worst, regrets, when the other suggests recklessness that leads to, at worst, an early grave.*ReplyDelete
*Many states will bury a body if they have to. However, this should be taken metaphorically, as when one dies indigent, they may instead, according to the law of their jurisdiction, be cremated or, most hilariously, used to train doctors.
You keep throwing in these jabs at Leiter, even though he's been ignoring you for ages. He really got to you, huh? Let it go.ReplyDelete
I just ctrl-F'd leiter and his name is mentioned only once in the thread. Also, FYI, he predicted that lawprof's reprimand or termination would cause this blog to end by labor day 2011.ReplyDelete
Also, he has bitch tits.
And brown teeth.ReplyDelete
Not this thread, but he is mentioned in many others--often apropos of nothing.ReplyDelete
Open questions for you at 1:50 and 2:43. We'd love to hear your responses.
Reference to the pompous prof who said it was disgusting to call law school a "scam" was obviously a reference to Leiter's quote in the National Law Journal article. LawProf does this all the time. Clearly Leiter got to him. Let it go is good advice.ReplyDelete
I will throw in my two cents re: Horowitz's comment. It sounds like Horowitz is trying to score points against Lawprof by implying he's a hypocrite. As you can see from the responses you've received on this thread, most of us disagree. In fact, Lawprof is still in a delicate situation with his job. He has clearly implied that doing this blog is part of what he sees as the substantive work he does for his job. Most of us agree that him leaving his job or getting fired will not help the cause. If 1 or 100 law profs who care quit or are fired they can be easily replaced. If those same people stay and really try to change the situation they can help. Being a law prof isn't per se immoral and Lawprof has never implied that. 30 years ago, when tuition was a fraction of what it is now, going to law school might have made sense for a majority of people doing it.. and there were still profs at that time. In any case, years after his retirement, I'm sure Lawprof can feel more free to discuss in detail the situation he finds himself in. Lawprof has been voted as lawyer of the year on ATL.. Horowitz has produced some work on the changing nature of legal practice that seems completely unfounded and out of touch to this practioner.. not sure where he gets off making his comment.ReplyDelete
In defense of the guy who went 0 for 21, I've gone on more than one "interview" only to learn in the midst of it that the firm wasn't sure if they're going to hire anyone at all.ReplyDelete
And that's not the only way you can miss out. I had a great interview with a state agency. The interviewers put me through to the second round, but then the agency administrator decided not to hire any new grads. So that was that.
It's easy and common to assume the failure case is a weirdo. But the fact is there are a ton of incredibly qualified people out there chasing very marginal opportunities.
DZ: I had a similar experience at OCI. When I looked at the OCI results spreadsheet many months later I was amazed at the number of firms with zeroes, not only zero offers made but even zero callbacks given. Why make your attorneys waste a day interviewing 20 candidates if you know you're not even going to give a single callback? Students get a limited number of OCI interviews and they waste some of them on firms that aren't hiring.ReplyDelete
I don't like the cowardice of anonymous commenters attacking Professor Horwitz - who has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to listen to and discuss the law school scam - when neither of them has the backbone or courage to say anything to the thousands of law professors and academics who have zero sympathy for the law school scam and/or help propogate it.ReplyDelete
If there's one thing holding the law school scam movement back, it's that the members are such cowardly, weasily rodents. I guarantee that if you folks were outed, you would scatter as do cockroaches when someone turns on the light. People like you don't deserve NOT to be scammed.
Really Asshole? I disagree STRONGLY. I think that Horowitz, Markel, and Lieter have done NOTHING to help the matter while doing EVERYTHING to propagate the lies and falsehoods of this profession. Even today (see 1:50 and 2:43) there were questions in this thread proposed to Horowitz that he refused to answer after his ad hominem attack. Markel repeatedly deletes comments to his posts (under the auspice of trying to maintain civility) and Lieter, well don't even get me started on that spitfuck.
The bottom line: I don't think any of us would scatter if outed. There are many of us who are getting to the point where we have nothing to lose so it would not matter if we were outed. I think that the only reason why the vast majority of people have not outed themselves is because there is no real value in it as of right now. Mind you, I think that will change sooner rather than later.
Trust me, I have contacted my school numerous times on this matter and I know many others who have as well. They know who I am, for sure. I have told them to their face and shown them these blogs.
The only cowards I see are those academics who sit in their ivory towers and fail to acknowledge the truth that is staring them in the face.
DZ and bored3L,ReplyDelete
It's actually fairly common for employers to show up to OCI with no intention of hiring.
Perhaps they were looking to hire a certain superstar student and no one else (see The Firm).
Perhaps they were not impressed with the people they have interviewed with (that sometimes happens when you limit your selection to the top 10%).
Perhaps employers were lying about not hiring anyone to make the rejects feel better.
It is very common for law firms to interview OCI with no intention at all of hiring anyone. It is a part of the scam that the lawyering business is. The law firms themselves are saving face by acting interested rather than admit they have no work and no need for graduates.ReplyDelete
My Big Ten school gave football tickets to firms that interviewed. That's why many of them hired no one.ReplyDelete
Another reason, probably more common, is that the firm is interviewing at multiple schools. The firms that came to my school also interviewed at other regional, peer schools. So while a firm may not have hired from YOUR school, that doesn't mean they didn't hire.
Twenty class of 2012 LSAT 170's being interviewed by a class of 1985 LSAT 162. Ezzard CharlesReplyDelete
Excellent line 1:54.ReplyDelete
I'm happy to answer some of those questions, however imperfectly; I can't promise I'll stick around for all of the discussion, but they're perfectly reasonable questions. I doubt they'll be detailed enough to satisfy everyone, and indeed they may not be enough to satisfy me either. With apologies for the length, I'll put this over two comments.ReplyDelete
Yes, I do some things, both on my blog and at my own institution, to discuss with both students and the administration specific and structural problems with legal education. As I've written on my blog, it was the centerpiece this year of my Legal Profession class; upon experience with last year's class, it was clear to me that it's impossible to fairly ask students to think about questions of legal ethics which presuppose that they're going to be lawyers unless we address their own worries and sometimes despair about ever finding a job, and the effects that desperately needing for financial reasons to keep a job might have on the subsequent decisions they make. Moreover, for whatever reason, the class is called "Legal Profession," so I consider myself bound to discuss serious problems in the profession, as well as in legal education. For that matter, one of the readings I assigned was this very blog; whatever problems I may have with it, I'm still happy to let my students know it exists. I also have helped bring students' specific complaints and reform proposals to the administration and pledged to continue doing so long after the class has ended. Whether this is enough is another question entirely, but the response from my students has been fairly positive; as many commenters do here, they want at the very least to know that their professors are listening to them and actively bringing their concerns to the administration. I must add that many of my students have a somewhat different response to some of these issues than many of the commenters here, and that I've heard similar things from some other legal ethics professors who have made serious efforts to bring these issues into the classroom. I'm not making a judgment about that; just pointing out that a full discussion of these issues should give a full airing to the wide variety of responses students have to these issues.
2) Of course I do my best to help students with jobs, and that regardless of whether they're my best or worst students. Sometimes I've succeeded in doing so, sometimes I haven't, but they all know, because I tell all of them, that I'll do anything I can for them and just about anything they want me to do for them. I dare say this is more a personal response than a structural one, but I consider it my duty, and would regardless of the state of the economy.
This story dates back over a decade ago, but I knew of one woman who interned at a local state agency while in law school who got an interview with a large law firm. During the interview, the interviewer arrogantly admitted at the end of the interview that they had not been interested in her, but just wanted to get information about how said agency worked. She gave them a piece of her mind and then complained to the OCS at UCONN which then predictably did nothing.ReplyDelete
Let me add, for what it's worth, that I agree with Prof. Campos (and Z32, who put the point rather beautifully) that there is a danger in making a binary distinction between "real" rebels and everyone else, and that I'm no less deserving of self-reflection on this point than him; I thought there was some room for the pricking of self-dramatization in this post, because there is a difference--one that should be evident to all of you, if not all of us in the academy--between writing on the margins and being on the margins. (It's true that one risks losing certain kinds of opportunities by doing even that, but one can gain many others, as the Carter Professor of General Jurisprudence or a full professor at a state law school could tell us.) But none of us are immune to the risk of self-dramatization.ReplyDelete
And, in response to another comment, I'm not trying to get Campos to shut up, or to resign (a silly point when Paul Carrington made it, and a silly one now; but for the same reason, it makes it pretty for anyone to talk about risk, courage, sticking one's neck out, or anything of the sort), or to say he's a hypocrite (another utterly common human trait). Whatever else one can say about me, I do read this blog and engage with it, under my own name.
I just happen to think that some of these questions, questions that commenters here have argued many times are valid ones when addressed to others, are useful ones to discuss. Given what one knows or thinks about the state of legal education, how should one teach? How should one act? How should one engage with students and what should one do for them--besides blogging? What duties as a scholar does one have? If one comes from a background of relatively little practice, what should one do to bring skills training and practical knowledge into one's own classroom? If one's status as a tenured professor in this system creates tensions and contradictions, what's the best way to deal with or minimize them, other than a pat acknowledgment that they exist? (I will say in fairness that Prof. Campos delved a little more deeply into the latter question in his early posts; that effort seems to have disappeared since then.) I think those questions are valid regardless of whether and how many of the problems are also structural in nature; assuming that neither Prof. Campos nor I nor most law teachers are likely to resign in protest or out of shame, we still have duties to carry out, and it can be useful to discuss how best to respond to the legal economy, the legal profession, and legal education within that individual context.
The point of my inquiry is not that those questions will be embarrassing if Prof. Campos answers them, or that it might diminish some of the occasional hero-worship on the comments here; I don't care about that one way or the other, and I assume Prof. Campos doesn't either. It's that those are, in my view, valid and important questions, and that it would be useful to see *some* discussion of them. I don't think it should be the exclusive subject of this blog; as I have already said, at least some of Prof. Campos's journalism here is useful. But this blog is published almost every day, and like most blogs it tends to repeat itself at some point. I think there's room for some of this discussion without crowding the other material out, and, yes, at some point I think genuine scholarly self-reflection and candor, and a willingness to *fully* explore the issues raised on this blog, demand it.
I don't think the opinions of current students should be completely discounted or anything, but clearly their views are less informed than those of graduates. They are going to tend to be more positive, both because they don't actually know how bad the situation is and because they want to believe things will work out, somehow, for them.ReplyDelete
I recently read on the Taxprof blog about a survey of current law students, and the authors of the survey were touting the generally positive views most current studentst have of their own school. Large percentages reported that they liked their school, would attend their school again, were pleased with their legal education, etc. I think it would be a huge and obvious mistake to try to cite current student's positive attitudes as a defense against the "scam" charges.
Current students are not yet in a position to judge these things and their opinions should be heavily discounted. All of us bitter grads were once happy and pleased with our educations. The bitterness doesn't set in until it becomes clear that your legal career is a failure, and you can't know this as a student or even a recent grad. It takes a year or two of failure before you start to realize that this may never happen for you, especially when you reach the point where your history of unemployment becomes a liability. Then your opinion about your law school and the value of your education change dramatically.
I should be clear in response to the last comment that I am not trying to overweight current students' responses, and my sample, like the one here, may not be representative. Moreover, students entering school in 06-08 may be differently situated than those entering post 08-09. Their responses were varied, interesting, and in some ways unexpected, that's all, and those who are interested in these issues ought to be aware of and think about it.ReplyDelete
Ezzard Charles: heh.ReplyDelete
Coder2000: don't forget about the real or perceived lack of freedom to speak on the part of law students in a classroom.
PH, if you are suggesting that Lawprof engage in a detailed analysis of the "tensions and contraditications" he refers to, knowing for sure, i.e., 100%, that no matter what he says about his institution or his relationship to it it won't impact his job situation because of his tenure, great. Maybe you understand the position of a law prof better than the rest of us non law profs. If this is not the case, and you just believe it would be good for Lawprof to discuss these regardless of the consequences, that would be a source of disagreement and one reason why people have taken offense at your comment, since it seems to be pushing Lawprof to take actions that he may have very good reasons not to take if he wants to remain a real agent for change "from within" the academy.ReplyDelete
For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure Paul Horwitz is arguing the former. Campos has tenure; his job is secure.
- A law professor (not Horwitz)
I admire you, Mr. Horwitz, for having the guts to come to this blog, explain your position and post under your name. I may disagree with your position regarding Campos dissecting the tensions he may be experiencing, but I respect you nevertheless for making it.ReplyDelete
As for the attitudes of students versus grads towards the whole economical situation, I think I would like to add to 7:00am's assessment: while still a student, I remember reading an editorial in my school's newspaper from a recent grad who complained bitterly about the situation. I was not too sympathetic, as I felt he placed too much blame on the school.
I still don't blame my school personally, but my sentiments about the overall situation have changed greatly. The difference? As a student I was living on student loans and my greatest worry was passing my Civ Pro exam. Because I didn't have to worry about the economical consequences of the crisis yet, I did not think too much about them - they had not yet become a part of my life, nor were they affecting my present or my future.
Now, as a graduate, the impact of the crisis is inescapable: I live it every day, whether it is every two weeks, when I see my $500 paycheck or every few days, when I get letters from bill collectors for my student loans and know that I have no chance of paying them.
It's present at my job, where the practicing attorneys are held in high esteem and I know that despite my hard work, I will never be one of them. It's present in the question "what happened?" when co-workers who know I passed the bar wonder why I am at a job making $1000 a month and I can't explain it to them.
It's present at my home, where I have to live with family because despite my age, I cannot be self-sustaining, although I am working a 60 hour work week and live very frugally. And it's everywhere in my thoughts: the disappointment at not reaching my career dreams, despite sacrificing everything to do so; the staying up late at night, wondering how I will ever be able to pay off my student debt, which I am on the hook for despite not getting anything useful from my degree (and by useful, I mean learning skills that result in my being paid more than minimum wage.)
No, I guess that's the difference: as a student, you don't yet feel the consequences. As a grad, you can't escape them. The dire financial straits we all find ourselves in affects every aspect of our lives. It doesn't disappear. In fact, it won't be until their first student loan payment is due and those students realize with horror that their $1000 a month salary (or no salary at all if they are working for free) will not allow them to pay back their loans or support themselves that the full impact of the situation will then become clear.
Mavlov said it best: one cannot concentrate on anything else until his or her basic needs have been met. While still in school, current students will have their basic needs met, due to living off student loans. Grads do not have this luxury. No suprise there that the attitudes of the two groups would be drastically different.
Well, PH, this is essentially a blog for graduates who feel they were ill-served by the legal profession. What current students feel is not as germane in this setting. I know many recent graduates who are doing well,and are satisfied with their choices, though no one's life is perfect. Their views are also not germane in this context. It is very hard for any special interest blog to avoid becoming a one-note affair. It is most interesting here when someone deviates from the theme, though that person usually gets swallowed up quickly, and the normal line continues.ReplyDelete
What you are asking of Law Prof would seem to be impossible,given the parameters set. I am surprised that there have not been more voices from Colorado in general.
I think all of the questions you raise @6:05 are excellent ones to be taken up among the larger community of tenure-track law profs. ("Given what one knows or thinks about the state of legal education, how should one teach? How should one act? How should one engage with students and what should one do for them--besides blogging? What duties as a scholar does one have? If one comes from a background of relatively little practice, what should one do to bring skills training and practical knowledge into one's own classroom? If one's status as a tenured professor in this system creates tensions and contradictions, what's the best way to deal with or minimize them, other than a pat acknowledgment that they exist?").
I would add "How can we help our students get jobs?" but otherwise it's a valid and provocative start. Such conversations are long overdue.
Merely, it needs to happen outside of Campos' blog, preferably outside of flash point referentiality to him altogether, and ideally outside the blogosphere in a forum that might really make a difference for students--say, at a mandatory faculty retreat for your institution, featuring some honest discussions with struggling alums. Or, even better, at a joint faculty/admin/career services retreat, where everyone can look the horse in the mouth together.
(Maybe that last one's naive. The more cynical side of me keeps whispering that meetings of this same composition are how schools get together to hose students and cook the books on stats.)ReplyDelete
Z32: Agree with all that, and especially this: "A mandatory faculty retreat for your institution, featuring some honest discussions with struggling alums."ReplyDelete
Preferably sans flash point referentiality.
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