Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Time for action

How can law students and graduates take action?  LawProf and I have this working idea:  As a first step, we suggest that students form official organizations at their law schools with the mission of "promoting financial responsibility in legal education."  Law schools aren't acting responsibly: Their mad tuition races are harming students, graduates, and the legal profession itself.  Someone has got to be the grown-up here, and maybe students can do the job.

We need a catchy but respectable name for these organizations; maybe the commenters can brainstorm one.  For now, let's just call the groups "Professionals for Financial Responsibility."  You may still be students, but you're also professionals; that's what we tell you on the first day of law school.  These  groups would form at individual law schools, then unite in a national association.

What would these organizations do?  Under the general banner of promoting financial responsibility in legal education, they could do the following and more:
  • Request more detailed information from their own schools about debt load, job prospects, and post-JD salaries.  If requests like this come from official student organizations devoted to financial responsibility, it will be awkward for schools to deny these requests.  We're not suggesting that schools will immediately release more information, but it's difficult to take a stand against "financial responsibility." That's even more difficult when a group has posters and other public displays in the building (more on that below).
  • Collect relevant information directly from students and alumni. As some commenters have suggested, a student organization probably could collect information about loan balances from other students.
  • Promote awareness among faculty about the mismatch between the cost of legal education and its pay-off.  There may already be a sympathetic faculty member or two lurking at each school.  And many schools will undertake strategic planning or other introspection in response to this year's declining class sizes.  It would be great to have a student group devoted specifically to the issues of cost as those discussions proceed.
  • Network with alumni and bar associations about how to increase financial responsibility in legal education.  At least some alumni, as you can tell from this blog, are sympathetic on these issues.  Many of them have their own law school debts; most would prefer schools to graduate fewer lawyers.  Alumni and bar associations do have some leverage with law schools--student advocacy could help focus that leverage on the issues of financial responsibility. 
  • Advocate to the ABA, Department of Education, state supreme courts, and other relevant groups for actions that will curb the ability of law schools to raise tuition in such an unrestrained manner.  Many proposals for reform have already emerged on this blog and in other venues.  A national league of student organizations--with the backing of some alumni, faculty, and other supporters--could give greater voice to those proposals. LST has managed to gain an important voice in these discussions; the new law student organizations could add another voice.
  • Educate potential students about the financial challenges of law school.  Many universities have initiatives devoted to "financial wellness" among their undergraduates.  I've even heard of schools that ask law students to mentor undergrads, advising them on how to live on a budget, avoid credit card debt, etc.  Ironically, these initiatives don't focus on the financial risks of higher education itself.  These law school organizations could perform that role, linking with pre-law advisors on campus and at other feeder colleges.  (You can also see in the comments the interest of some pre-law advisors in the issues we discuss here.)
  • Push for small, but significant, steps like the creation of debt calculators on the school's website and the disclosure of still more employment information.  E.g., what exactly are those JD preferred jobs?  As the legal market continues to shift each year, we will need ever greater transparency.
  • Provide support for students who are confronting their own mounting debt and job-hunting challenges.  Talking about law schools' tuition hunger is a double-edged sword:  It's necessary to advance change, but can also depress students.  These groups could help assuage some of that anxiety.  Misery prefers relief, but sometimes company helps.
  • Protect student/graduate interests in the national debate on the debt issue.  If Congress revokes IBR, someone needs to advocate for the graduates who have started down that path--as well as for the students lured to law school by deans' promises of the IBR golden path.
We think these groups could advocate in a responsible, effective way--without endangering students' job prospects or standing within the law school.  How can prospective employers fault students for urging financial responsibility? That seems pretty lawyer-like, business-savvy, and mature.  With the right organizational name, this could even look good on a resume:  "Vice President, Professionals for Financial Responsibility."

Why, finally, a student organization?  Gaining formal status as an organization gives student groups significant rights on many campuses:  meeting space, bulletin boards, campus funding (ah, those student activity fees), tables at orientation and admitted student open-houses (wouldn't you like to explain debt and job prospects to those admitted students?), and the ability to seek information in-house.  Alumni could certainly participate in these organizations, and would be invited to do so, but student status gives the groups a special position.

Someone has got to stand up for financial responsibility in legal education.  The schools, ABA, and government aren't doing it; students might have the right voice here.  Please make suggestions and criticisms in the comments to refine this idea--we'd like to help create a real vehicle for interested students and alumni to work on these issues.


  1. Call it "Eyes Wide Open"

  2. How retarded are you two?

    Do you really expect students to risk pissing off their professors and/or coming off to hiring partners as agitators on campus by taking the initiative to make this insanely naive move???

  3. It's the shame factor and reluctance to talk about money with others that prevents organization.

  4. Why would law professors be pissed off at a group promoting financial responsibility?

  5. This makes no sense at all. Here's why:

    The kind of student that would join this kind of group would be the kind of student that has the least likely prospects for employment, paying back debts, etc. This usually means they're not the "winners" in the school. (As in, while the bottom 30% of CLS--those without SAs or other options--might be interested in joining, the top 70% will not). A student organization composed primarily of "losers" will not have a good reputation, and people won't be lining up to join.

    Second, imagine the kind of ambitious kid who starts this little club. He's gotta be pretty intelligent, pretty good at organizing, pretty outgoing (to recruit students), etc. This means he also has a better shot at legal employment (they look at grades, then they look at how you interview). Why the hell would this kind of kid risk his biglaw chances to start a club that will be an instant black mark on his resume? Firms don't want revolutionaries, they want hardworking kids who think inside the box and play by the rules.

    Of course, I'm only talking about the top schools here. At the bottom schools (by which I mean probably 80% of all law schools), everyone is a "loser". THOSE SCHOOLS SHOULD NOT CLOSED, NOT REFORMED. No amount of disclosure or flyers is going to create legal jobs for the law students outside the T6. They need to be told bluntly NOT TO GO. Little calculators will, I'm afraid, do very little to help transparency and make bad schools close.

    The only alternative would be to start clubs at HYS advocating the closure of lesser schools, but you can imagine how well that might go over on this increasingly leftist forum.

  6. Please STFU little Leiter.

    The sooner that accurate employment, salary and debt information is made available, the sooner lower-ranked law schools will begin closing.

    This site has increasingly targeted tax-payer funding of legal education as one of the prime motivators of the law school scam. Is that leftist?

  7. How am I being a little Leiter when I'm clearly in favor of most schools closing?

    The point I'm making is that no one will take the initiative to do this, besides the students who have literally nothing to lose. Does that seem like a club that would attract a lot of students?

    And what makes this site leftist is the stable of anti-capitalist, pro-redistribution types making the rounds here.

  8. "they want hardworking kids who think inside the box and play by the rules"

    I want to let the comments on the OP unfold, but I disagree with this statement--regardless of the OP's value. Conformity is what employers wanted 20 years ago, but not now. The new economy desperately needs lawyers who think outside the box, and employers get that. Law firms themselves are searching for new business models. If you can show an employer that you've thought creatively about a business/economic problem (which is what the law school scam boils down to), proposed some remedies, and taken leadership on the issue, I think you'll find a job. This isn't burning bras, flags, or draft cards--it's the type of issue that people in suits discuss in board rooms.

  9. 11:10:

    That's exactly something someone who's never worked at a firm would thing.

    Legal work remains the same: you bring clients in, you handle their business, you take them out periodically for a nice steak so they keep letting you handle their business.

    Firms want associates who know how this game is played (and this is the same game that will always be played). Sure they want creative thinking and initiative, but what they don't want is some kid who's "standing up for the little guy" or "making a stand for what's right and just".

    If you want to succeed in law school, you need to keep your head down, get great grades (at a T6), and interview well--this does not mean you tell the interviewer your burning passion for the proletariat revolution and how much you love Occupy Wall Street and how you think the student debt crisis is ruining your generation. It means you talk about your appreciation for food and wine and sports and you show them how you can connect with clients and sell legal hours. Top students still understand this truth, and top students will never get their hands dirty in these "clubs" regardless of how they feel about the law school scam personally.

    The intention of the OP is of course good, but it's just so shockingly naive to propose.

  10. The people saying that this organization wouldn't be a step in the right direction are morons. But they are right that it would be difficult to get going. However, they misdiagnose the problem. The people who would start this organization (people like me) already dropped out.

  11. 10:46: That's true. Leiter has made it clear that he doesn't want the status quo to change, meaning that he wants the law school scam to continue while he pretends it doesn't exist. Then again, you're in favor of schools outside the T6 closing. Doesn't Leiter work at a T6? It seems he'd be safe under that sort of plan.

    But I guess it doesn't really matter who you are. As to your points:

    1) As legal employers continue to offer fewer and fewer jobs even to those at T6 schools, more students might join this "little" group. Sure, the group might first be composed of the "losers" in the bottom 30%. But what will happen when 40% of the class are “losers,” or 50% are “losers”? Five years ago the top half of a class at a T20 could get big law, and starting or joining a group like this would have been career suicide. Now students from these schools readily talk about their schools being scams.

    2) There are plenty of ambitious, intelligent and talented students who simply aren't in the position to get biglaw jobs after 1L, especially at T6 schools where most of the class is ambitious, intelligent and talented but not everyone can get biglaw jobs. And even if this kid knowingly sacrifices his chances at biglaw in order to promote financial responsibility within law schools, is that really a reason to discard this entire idea? Biglaw offers a finite (and shrinking) number of jobs – another law student will get the biglaw job.

    3) Again, increasing transparency (“little calculators”) will be a key factor in getting lower ranked law schools to close sooner rather than later. Hindering groups like these (assuming they're otherwise feasible) would hinder this process. These groups could start at lower-ranked schools and then, a few years from now, when the biglaw firm model is almost nonexistent, find their way into T6 schools.

  12. 11:38:

    Good points, but I really think you're overthinking the extent people are willing to "sacrifice their chances at biglaw."

    As for biglaw numbers (I know I'll get crucified for this), but I don't see them shrinking anymore than last year. We'll probably be at this "new normal" for a while, and may even see higher numbers as the economy gets better.

    The basic point I was trying to make is that these clubs won't work at T6 schools because no one would be willing to start them and few would be willing to join, and at non-T6 schools, they won't work because they eventually have to reconcile with the fact that the goal of the club would be to get the school to close. It seems kind of useless to promote tearing down the entire structure from within, and if these are tuition paying students who want their law school to close...why haven't they dropped out?

  13. And no--there will always be biglaw, because there will always be big corporations or very wealthy individuals that need complex legal done. So biglaw will never shrink to "non-existant". That is dreaming.

  14. 11:17: That's exactly something someone who worked at a law firm twenty years ago would say.

    If you really think that “legal work remains the same,” then you have no idea what you're talking about. Biglaw firms structured around the “wine and dine” model you reference are struggling to stay in business, if not being put out of business. The fact that big corporations will always exist does not mean that these big corporations will always, happily pay inefficient biglaw attorneys and firms hundreds of dollars an hour to do tasks that can increasingly be done in-house, or outsourced, for much less money. It's not dreaming, it's economic reality. DJM makes a good point there. Biglaw firms are struggling to find ways to stay relevant.

  15. 11:57--

    "Biglaw firms are struggling to find ways to stay relevant."

    "Biglaw firms structured around the “wine and dine” model you reference are struggling to stay in business, if not being put out of business."

    So...the V-10 firms didn't all post record PPPs this year, or did most of that profit come from computers?

    Biglaw WILL ALWAYS EXIST. But it's moot to talk about it because it was never a realistic option for those outside the top-top schools even when times were flush. Fact is, non T-6 students should've never banked on biglaw in the first place.

    But biglaw will always be a huge draw for T6 students, and therein lies the problem with these career suicide-pact clubs the OP talks about.

  16. BTW I'm a 5th year associate at a V10...and we do plenty of wining and dining. If anything, I think the quality of restaurants has actually gone up since my SA and first year.

    Oh and this year we had a class of 100 SAs in our New York office...plenty of weekly $65 lunches, 100% offer rate.

    Law school for the most part IS a bad idea for the vast majority of students, but don't make ridiculous sour-grapes schadenfreudeic (?) statements like "biglaw is struggling to stay relevant and will cease to exist soon."

  17. Oh and to answer to oncoming buzz of people ready to say "you're getting laid off soon, biglaw only lasts 3-5 years.":

    I've been getting at least 5 calls a week from headhunters for the last 2 years for in-house positions. Yes I would take a slight pay cut, but the hours are also slightly better. I don't plan to jump ship, but I know I can land safely if I wanted to.

  18. 11:46: Thanks, but how am I over-thinking the extent to which people are willing to sacrifice their chances at biglaw? My point is mainly that, if someone qualified for biglaw wants to sacrifice such a career in order to form this kind of group, they'll be able to do so and another law student/grad will get that biglaw job. More importantly, there will increasingly be ambitious, intelligent and talented law students/grads, even at T6 schools, that might form these groups while also having no shot at biglaw. And as T6 schools increasingly feel the heat of a shrinking legal industry, these groups will become more popular.

    Who cares if you get crucified for your beliefs, if you truly believe them. My problem is that many people view the current trend in biglaw as simply a product of the recession. They're not considering that the biglaw model is becoming increasingly irrelevant. It's old-fashioned, over-priced and inefficient. That goes to what DJM was saying.

    I think most people at non-T6 schools still want to be lawyers. Is that stupid of them? I don't know. But graduating from an ABA-accredited law school is really the only way to become a licensed attorney. And there's no better place to change things than from within. Dropping out of law school means losing one's ability to be part of this “profession” as well as losing one's voice in this “profession.”

  19. 5th Year Biglaw Associate,

    You need to jump now.

    One more year and people who read your resume will assume that you're jumping because you know you won't make partner.

    Two more years, and people will assume that you were passed over and told to leave.

    Three more years, and people will assume your firm passed you over but was kind enough to let you hang out for a while during your job search.

  20. Ok, so there is no bankruptcy, and no way out of the debt other than to pay it off or leave the country.

    All of my worldly assets, including my old truck with 130 thousand miles and a slipping transmission, if sold to a pawn broker, or at a tag sale, are worth about 3 or 4 thousand bucks if I am lucky.

    But if I paid around 40K per year towards my student loan over the next 10 years I will be able to pay off my student loan debt by the time I am close to age 60.

    The problem is that I have not grossed more than 35K per year in the last 10 years.

    Gotta be a way to solve this problem.

    I haven't had health insurance for the last 9 months, and getting that reinstated and paying for it surely has to take priority over my student loan debt payments.

    As a matter of fact, I know of another JD who has no health insurance and had to go to the hospital and is now over 5K in debt in medical bills.

  21. "You need to jump now.

    One more year and people who read your resume will assume that you're jumping because you know you won't make partner."

    Ahhh here we go.

    Actually, the more senior you are, the more in demand you are. In fact, if I get to partner review and DON'T make it, that's when I'm MOST valuable for companies seeking in-house counsel.

    At my firm, the rule of thumb is that those passed over for partner on review make GC in-house.

    If I jumped now, I might be deputy GC, or a GC at a smaller fund/company.

    If I wait one more year (partner review is at the 7th year), I have a better chance of making GC at a bigger fund/company, etc. etc. Please forgive if I don't take advice from random strangers on the internet. I know how to handle my own career.

  22. ^^^ Sigh. It all sounds so nice.

  23. "Actually, the more senior you are, the more in demand you are. In fact, if I get to partner review and DON'T make it, that's when I'm MOST valuable for companies seeking in-house counsel."

    My mistake. The freezeout that happens to thousands of Biglaw castoffs will never happen to you, Special Snowflake.

  24. 12:31:

    I take it you've never actually worked a day in biglaw and only ever read horror stories on JDUnderground or here.

    But firms (especially good ones) take care of its associates. And no, no firm thinks its sustainable to be throwing away associates and leaving them to languish once they're used up. Our firm tries to make sure all associates land on their feet (except for the ones that were so bad at their jobs they were actually "fired").

    If you choose to leave, are "counseled" out, or are passed over for partner, you don't suddenly go to the unemployment line. We have a 100% placement rate for 7th associates passed over for partner. One of my closest friends at the firm actually ended up GC-ing at a hedge fund making more than he would as a partner, go figure. Most of the time, however, you end up with a slight pay cut with better hours. I'm ok with that, I'm also ok with continuing on here for a (admittedly slim) shot at partner.

    You should really learn to think for yourself instead of parroting what you read on the internet.

  25. 12:04, 12:07, 12:09: Now it's the V-10 posting record profits. Six years ago it was the entire V-100 posting record profits. Rapid consolidation towards the top is a mark of a shrinking and consolidating “industry.” To suggest that biglaw was never a “realistic option” for those outside the T6 even when times were flush is moronic. To argue that “Biglaw WILL ALWAYS EXIST” and “will always be a huge draw for T6 students,” while less and less T6 students get biglaw jobs, is even more moronic.

    I never made the quoted statement that "biglaw is struggling to stay relevant and will cease to exist soon." Regardless, I understand your point. But you haven't given me a reason to believe otherwise. And the biglaw model continues to make itself more and more irrelevant. Do yourself a favor and get out of your firm and into one of those in-house positions. It won't be long before the big corporations entirely ditch the biglaw firms. More on this tomorrow. But I expect a decent response in these comments to assertions like “Biglaw WILL ALWAYS EXIST.”

  26. "You should really learn to think for yourself instead of parroting what you read on the internet."

    By "think[ing] for your self" you mean believing everything you say without question, rather than believing what is regularly reported about biglaw?"

  27. We get it, 12:36.

    You're so smart that impersonal structural changes in the macroeconomy will not harm you.

    You are so nimble that you will pirouette past all obstacles, even the self-protecting actions of elderly men far more powerful and wily than you.

    You are associated with institutions so impressed by your sparkling vampire-in-the-daylight awesomeness that you will always be taken care of.

    Your sheer desireability will also protect you from cancer, divorce and traffic accidents.

    You are 100% in control of your life and, even if that's temporarily thrown akimbo, your top-percentile abilities will always be recognized and rewarded.

    BTW, you might want to netflix The Magnificent Ambersons one weekend. Not that any part of the story could possibly apply to you.

  28. Who reads about Biglaw horror stories on JDU? Most posters on JDU aren't even employed as lawyers.

    You could read about Biglaw horror stories on a site like autoadmit. Or at least you could a few years ago, when there plenty of Biglaw jobs. Back then there was a philosopher who trolled that site. He used to used to search it for all kinds of disgusting, sexual and racist topics.

  29. DJM and LP,

    All this shit with Leiter aside, these are some good recommendations. Perfect? Probably not. But we can use this comment section to discuss improvements on your recommendations. As much as I'd love to entrust all of this to those like Leiter (and others) who have been talking about this issue for years (citation missing), it's time for more serious action. They can philosophize al they want. We can act.

    And Jack Marshall of is still a fraud-excusing joke. HTH Jackass. Awesome site, though, Jack Marshall.

  30. get some anonymous whistleblower ex-deans/deans and let them air out the dirty laundry on this blog or WSJ/NYT. (i think this may already be happening as LP/DJM are the faces of this blog but there is such a tremendous amount of useful info here that it is almost practically impossible for 2 ppl to handle this so smoothly)

  31. supply the information on this blog to the NYLS attorney and have him appeal the decision. then get the media involved

  32. do a documentary with Frontline on PBS

  33. do a live debate with Leiter on WSJ/NYT or their media peers. someone will record it and post it to youtube, and it will go viral.

  34. contact Harry Markopolos

  35. "do a live debate with Leiter on WSJ/NYT or their media peers. someone will record it and post it to youtube, and it will go viral."


    But would Leiter debate as the Leiter who has been talking about this issue for years (citation missing) or the Lieter who trolls this site more often than the "losers" he derides?

  36. Contact Michel Martin with NPR's "Tell Me More" and tell her that you are interested in discussing this issue on the show, with an adversary of her choice. Not joking, you might be surprised.

  37. speaking of NPR, i still remember this article:

    it was great comedic relief, and hopefully the public backlash has persuaded him away from LS.

  38. Here's the problem with your idea:

    If law students had any initiative, discipline, ability to organize, ability to expend effort . . . THEY WOULD HAVE JOBS.

    Thus none of those law students need to create your organization because they're fine financially.

    Those who DO need to create your organization are too lazy, stupid, disorganized and shiftless to create it.


  39. Paul & Debbie,

    Why don't you apply this advice to your own ranks before trying to push it off on the poor students who really might have something to lose by trying it?

    Is there a rule against tenured prof's getting together and promoting fiscal responsibility, etc.?

  40. Surely forming student groups is like bolting the barn door after the horse has bolted? We need to stop students enrolling, because the damage is already done by the time they set foot in law school.

    My suggestion for advocacy? Think big. Think on the scale of a national pledge by all applicants not to apply in 2014 to highlight the issues and, more importantly, to force change that will reset the system for every student by 2015 - lower tuition, cash-strapped law schools closed for good, a relative shortage of grads that will help alleviate many employment problems, etc.

    In other words, aim high, and then you might just hit the target. Suggesting student groups as a good solution is aiming very low!

  41. DJM: "Conformity is what employers wanted 20 years ago, but not now. The new economy desperately needs lawyers who think outside the box, and employers get that. Law firms themselves are searching for new business models. If you can show an employer that you've thought creatively about a business/economic problem (which is what the law school scam boils down to), proposed some remedies, and taken leadership on the issue, I think you'll find a job."

    I think this is the same type of wishful thinking that has led law schools to talk about how versatile a JD is and how every company on earth wants to fill its ranks with lawyers. It's making a leap in logical from "wouldn't it be nice if" to "therefor it is the case."

    Have you talked to any law firm hiring managers who say this is what they're looking for in a junior associate? Maybe if the firm is looking for a lateral partner hire they're going to look at the ability to find innovative solutions, but the job of a junior associate is to just learn existing best practices.

    Do you really think that's the ticket to a job? When was the last time anyone got hired by a firm based on a leadership position in a student group (other than law review or moot court)?

  42. PC and DJM,

    Your error is that you think your followers are hard working and sincere folks who were ripped off. In fact, they're lazy shiftless and stupid bums who would have failed at whatever they tried. The only travesty is that these assholes were given a three year vacation on the taxpayer's dime.

    The kind of students who could lead and organize groups all have jobs, because that kind of person is employable. Your followers have nothing and are not capable of anything more than anonymous comments on a blog - because they're a bunch of fucking losers.

    Stop blaming law schools for something that is not their responsibility in any way. Blame these bums' genes, their parents or whatever caused them to be such pathetic shiftless sacks of shit.

  43. far the idea of student advocacy seems to be going over like a lead zeppelin, and the mean, nasty, rude ones are giving DJM No Quarter!

    Still though, the success stories around here warm the cockles o' me heart fer sure, and I'm glad some puffed up people are doing well in law and life even though I ain't.

  44. @5:34: I think the student group idea is just fine. I've (more than once) asked students to contact their administrations to ask that their NALP reports be released.

    My only problem was with DJM's assertion that doing this will totes get you a job.

  45. So many tough guys here on the internet! So many big, strong, successful badasses who refer to people less "successful" than they have been as "pathetic shiftless sacks of shit."
    5:32, may I shine your shoes for a nickel, perhaps a quarter, if the gentleman is feeling generous? I ask because I can see from your post that you are extremely SUCCESSFUL, WEALTHY, and POTENT, and this peasant is ever so desperate for a crust of bread, perhaps a McMuffin even, on this bleak morning. Such a shame to not have a man with your rhetorical skills on our side!

    A little harsh, but your statement is basically true. Thing is, 2/3's of law students fall into the failure bracket. If 2/3's of the students fail, 2/3's of the law schools should fail - that's only fair. Take away the government loans. Shut down the schools that deserve to be shut down. Its the fact that these loser law schools continue to be propped up by Federal money that enrages most of the loser law students who post here.

  47. Pushing for student groups will probably never work, as the target population, for the most part, does not want to formally acknowledge the problem. It would be too painful.

    Also, while Campos rails on and on about how much tuition has increased in real dollars from the time he obtained his JD, none of that matters to a current law student.

    The 2010 entry law student applied and paid for law school at the advertised price in 2010. While a 5% yearly increase, when looked at over 40 years, is nuts when compared to overall inflation, to the 2010 entry it sucks but is not that big of a deal in the scheme of things.

    I see it every day--if someone walked through the door paying $50,000, having their tuition rise to $52,500 does not seem like such a big deal.

    It is nice to have the big picture and to see things in a macro-economic way, but macro-economics are not going to spur current students into forming groups and railing against the system they feel so "lucky" to be able to take part in (yeah, the new students' faces light up when the dean calls them "Professionals" on that first day...crazy or not).

  48. Funny how these comments so often devolve into a debate with someone not here, who is on record as agreeing with Tamanaha:

  49. "A little harsh, but your statement is basically true. Thing is, 2/3's of law students fall into the failure bracket. If 2/3's of the students fail, 2/3's of the law schools should fail - that's only fair. "

    This is the problem. You're blaming law schools for the fact that YOU'RE a loser. Those 2/3 of law students who failed would have failed no matter what they tried - because they're losers. That's why they went to some shit TTT law school in the first place, because they had absolutely no other options in life.

    Stop pretending like you were "scammed." The only thing that "scammed" you was nature, for creating such a worthless pos.

  50. I appreciate the subtle trolling much more.

  51. I disagree that law school clubs devoted to financial responsibility are the way to go. The problems that such clubs would address don't have that many local wrinkles - basically, all law schools lie in the same way about job opportunities and the affordability of the debt structure that students are volunteering to take on. Thus, one set of advocates on a global level might be more effective than two hundred advocates for the same issue but disconnected from one another by virtue of geography.

    Donating to Law School Transparency is a better idea, and a PayPal button and link to their website here would do more for less time, money and effort. The law schools already know that it costs too much and returns too little, and it's not stopping them. If the supply side of the equation has no shame, then working the demand side's fear of being duped is the better move.

  52. Good Idea...why ISN'T there a LST Donation link on this site?

    Seems like something so obvious it should have been here many months ago.

  53. How about a PSA?

    "Friends don't let friends go to law school"

  54. @ 6:03 A.M.

    Contract terminal cancer, dickhead.

  55. I disagree with 3:43 as to the law students being failures. What they are "failing" at is not recognizing that many educational opportunities, including but also especially law school, are simply poor value propositions. And I mean really poor value propositions. They have been hampered by the far less than accurate data that the law schools and others put out, and they have, frankly, also been burdened with special little snowflake syndrome, a phenomena often enabled by boomer parents who don't have a clue about the realities of debt and the new and harsh economic structures in place. And finally, they are hampered by the American education system, which largely indoctrinates rather than educates, and which place an emphasis on regurgitating the "correct" information as opposed to making good, sound critical decisions. And that same education system indoctrinates very well on the evil isms - racism, sexism, capitalism, and so on, but does a very poor job of teaching economics and basis finance and accounting, which are topics indispensable to navigating adulthood but which are viewed as evil subjects in the academic echo chamber. Little wonder we have students who take out 180k in loans, living off the proceeds for three years and delaying adulthood, all in a market where 2/3 cannot obtain meaningful employment. Look, the Horatio Alger stories from boomers are meaningless (I personally have a good one) because the economic costs of law school and other schools are absolutely staggering as compared to the governing cost structure in my day. The institutions have raised tuition so far beyond inflation that is silly, and they have done so on a combination of huge government funding and economically guileless students. The only real way for students to fight back is to not to attend unless projected debt (not just borrowing) is 50 percent or less of a starting salary, and to vote with their feet and let the schools know they must radically change their cost structure. The schools are a poor value by any measure for most everyone.

  56. Long-time reader, first-time commenter. I'm a rising 2L. Top 5% at a un-ranked school. Surprisingly, though, comfortable job prospects (decent paying SA for 2013 already secured). Not that any of this really matters, just wanted to dispel the notion that only the bitter, low class-ranked, "can't-find-a-job"s would consider forming/joining such an organization.

    I'm huge on consumer advocacy in general, and as a law student in particular this idea resonates with me. I've been considering forming a student organization like this for quite some time. I decided to take the plunge after reading this post. I will use your recommendations and tweak them as I see fit... my only hope is that you two will keep posting more on this topic, at least as it relates to more concrete advice for students(i.e. progress/success stories at other schools who have implemented similar designs).

  57. I gotta agree with the critical comments. This is probably the most clueless post ever made on this blog. Law students already ensnared in the scam are the last persons who should be asked to lead a reform movement. They’re prisoners. The best counsel they can get is how to mitigate the likely dire consequences of their decision to attend law school. They should seriously consider dropping out if: (1) they attend a law school ranked anywhere lower than #50; (2) they did not receive stellar 1L grades; (3) they are paying sticker; (4) they are not prepared to scratch and claw for any kind of a legal career.

    With respect to the job market, all the “new economy/think outside the box” jargon is Tom Friedmanesque horseshit. Legal hirers are not looking for rabble rousers. They are looking for people who can get along with their co-workers and, most importantly, do the work.

    This post assumes that the law school cartel can be reformed. It can’t. It must be completely restructured from the bottom. This requires: (1) turning off the guaranteed fed loan spigots; (2) shutting down at least half of the existing law schools and barring any new schools from opening; (3) dispensing with the academic fiction that the law is “scholarship” rather than a trade.

    Eventually this will happen, but it almost certainly won’t be voluntary on the part of the law school cartel. No matter how many earnest and well-meaning student organizations form.

    In the meantime the best strategy for anti-scammers is what’s working already: to keep getting the word out to prospectives and the general public.

  58. There's some epic, grade A trolling going on here in this thread. Bravo.

    Put another way-- for you prospective law students-- read these trolling posts very, very carefully. They let you in on a little secret that's very prevalent in law school, which is ...

    ... law school is designed to cater to the top 30% of students, based on first year grades. If you don't make that cut (and 70% of you won't), the institution will write you off.

    The attitudes in the troll posts are probably shared by most, if not all, of the law school professors. Remember, they were all HYS or T14 law review.

    It's telling that most bitter posts aren't from the "sub-par" law students, but from the ones who were in law review and aren't getting the recognition and the jobs.

  59. I've only skimmed the comments, so forgive me if this is duplicative...

    Speaking as one who sits on the employer side of the desk, I agree with DJM that starting or joining an organization like the ones proposed here is not likely to hurt a student's chances of landing a law-firm job. If anything, it would be a plus, especially if the student could show that s/he played a significant role in accomplishing something meaningful.

    On the other hand, I agree with others that few students would be willing to form or join such groups, because they'd be worried about pissing off professors -- sources of references and grades.

    But, hell, it's still worth giving the idea some air.

  60. I don't see evidence that Leiter has been arguing for the status quo. He has been writing about these issues for some time now. Citation? Go to his blog. He's at the University of Chicago and was before at the University of Texas. I can promise you, neither of those schools, will to close barring some catastrophe that we cannot predict now. Why would it be terrible for him, his students, and the reputation of U of C, if some schools in lower tiers closed?

  61. "neither of those schools will close, barring some catastrophe..."

  62. As an alumna who works with current students at (what used to be) a "Top 20" law school, my initial reaction to this was one of support, and my secondary reaction was one of serious doubt. The students I work with are enshrouded in a thick fog of denial and self-stereotyping, and this is likely the reason they matriculated in the first place. They are whole-heartedly dedicated to their vision of what their career should be, regardless of whether it is logical, probable, or even feasible to attain a particular outcome. That willful ignorance makes it possible for them to stay upbeat and "on track", and I think it may also hinder the formation of the group described in your post. I agree with some of the commenters that those students who are able to see through the fog are more likely to drop out, take a break, or engage in some other activity that deliberately removes them from the mainstream law school conveyor belt. Those individuals are not likely to feel a sense of camaraderie with ignorant students and faculty or with the administration of the school. (And the average student may not feel a bond with the naysayer whose views threaten the average student's dedication to the system.)

    I don't want to believe that the more recent crops of college students are calamitously blind to reality, but most prospective 0L's who have spoken with me about my school have discontinued the conversation when I asked them if they were aware of the school and industry-wide statistics. Later, I see these students at incoming 1L events and receive sheepish, embarrassed looks from them. Their decision to go to law school depends on their ability to avoid or ignore the truth, it seems.

    As other commenters on point have said, it is more likely that real change will have to come from outside the schools, and no amount of internal student inquiry and participation in the discussion will alter the realities outside the law school bubble. More information to students and more pressure on the administrations would be a positive development, our doubts notwithstanding...

  63. You know who else should form an organization? Those bums you see begging for change. I mean, they could be so much more effective if they organized!

    Oh right, if they had that kind of initiative they could easily get a job and stop begging.

    Same reasoning for the failed law school losers who read this blog, including that person from an "unranked" (LOLOLOL! how do you not get ranked?!) law school

  64. DJM, i like you. don't take this as me crapping all over your ideas for the sake of being a jerk.

    but this is just a god-awful proposal, and here's why. you're asking the group with the least amount of influence, bargaining power, knowledge, etc... to do the heavy lifting. you're asking the group who can least afford to take a risk to take a risk.

    typical "shitboomer" behavior to ask the next generation to do everything for itself and clean up all the messes when the previous generation had everything handed to it and made the messes in the first place.

  65. @ 7:58 A.M.

    Fall face first into a puddle of AIDS.

  66. I would suggest that since law school transparancy already exists, that the most logical step would be to encourage law students to act as their campus representatives.

  67. In fact, the formation of student groups like this post recommends would work to the advantage of the law school cartel. These groups would be easily co-opted and controlled by schol administrations, resulting in no actual progress being made, all the while giving schools a pretext for claiming they are responsive to the issues of high tuition costs and low job prospects. They might actually help perpetuate the scam, rather than reform it. No illegitimate syndicate will ever voluntarily reform itself.

  68. This comment has been removed by the author.

  69. 6:58 is correct. Kids, the economics of the law have produced a dog eat dog world, both among lawyers and law schools. The latter just want your money, and don't care about you or your future prospects if you don't end up in the top of the class.

    If you want to go to law school and be a lawyer, accept that this is going to be your future working environment and plan your life accordingly. Put another way, if you couldn't put up with the Alec Baldwin character in Glengarry glen ross as your supervising partner or attorney don't go to law school. If you could not put up with the stress you would face doing collections phone calls eight hours a day, you are in the wrong profession.

    and remember coffee is for closers.

  70. @ 3:43 A.M.,

    Hello douchebag. Once again, I am here to take your fake conservative ass to the cleaners.

    If its true that those kids are indeed lazy, lacking in discipline, disorganized, etc, then my tax dollars should not be funding the schools that permit them to enter a profession they are not suited to enter.

    An incredible minority cannot find legal employment, and an incredible minority, possibly a majority, cannot find any jobs that justify the investment of getting a law degree, and as a result, THE TAX PAYER IS LEFT HOLDING THE BAG.

    You can talk all the crap you want about how it’s the students fault to hide the ball asshole, but you know what’s happening here. The tax payer is being robbed so people associated with colleges and financial institutions can live well, while at the same time destroying a group of young people (irrespective of the personal characteristics of said young people).

    Although people, myself included, are afraid to speak out because sociopaths like you will try to destroy us for speaking the truth, eventually, the public is going to put two and two together.

    Liberals will see that this system negligibly benefits the lower classes (there are only so many kids that get the Hamilton scholarship at Columbia, and if they really do come from poor parents, they would have made it doing something else anyway). They will see this system as doing nothing more than providing an ego boost for the children of the rich, while transferring money from the tax payer to a group of rich financiers and members of the higher educational complex.

    Conservatives (real ones), once they really understand the loan structure, will not give two shits that the marks, i.e. the students, are deficient in any way. THEY WILL CARE THAT THEIR MONEY IS BEING ROBBED, ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.

    So keep singing that old song douche.

  71. "As an alumna who works with current students at (what used to be) a "Top 20" law school"

    lol, just say Emory

  72. @6:45, be very careful ion how you proceed. Good paying 1L SA or no, you can be labeled a rabble rouse by the school and that can throw you off the good but very narrow and precarious track you are on. If you are winning at the game don't rock the boat until you have an offer after 2L SA. Is that chickenshit? yeah probably, but you should remember that there are 100 more like you and past success or no you are absolutely replaceable.

  73. @8:14, Huey Lewis is right on there. Any group event would likely devolve into the Don't go to the bar with your student loan lecture from an administration official and they could tout their promotion of financial responsibility.

    I hosted 3 forums about student loan debt 3L year as SBA President (in 2011). There was value in these events just running through a hypothetical debt load, explaining interest capitalization and how to avoid it etc.

  74. If I recall, there were recognized student organizations in law school and undergrad with only four or five members. As brainwashed, conformist, frightened, overworked, and freaked-out as law students are, there will be at least four or five students per law school who are interested in doing some campus activism on transparency and tuition control.

    Will students really be dissuaded by fear that some future potential employer will deem them to be rabble-rousers for being interested in things like tuition control and better placement stats? I doubt it--The student chapters of the National Lawyers Guild do okay, and their program is far more radical.


  75. "We need a catchy but respectable name"

    How about -

    Wiser Heads Initiative: Necessary Emergency Reform Soon!

    (This post in parody of 3:34 et seq. No animals, plants, boomers, millennials, glaciers or polar bears were harmed in the making of this post.)

  76. ^^^^ "3:34" s/b "3:43". I'm a bittle lit lysdexic.

  77. Top students will likely not do this because they don't want to be perceived as antagonistic to the administration. If anyone does it at all it will be upperclassmen near the bottom and that will hurt the group's credibility.

  78. "I don't see evidence that Leiter has been arguing for the status quo. He has been writing about these issues for some time now. Citation? Go to his blog."

    Holy shit you really are a sociopath.

  79. Excellent ideas, DJM.

    Thank-you to both you and LawProf for really pushing your ideas. You both have done a great job.


  80. I went to Leiter's blog, as the "anonymous" poster above suggested, to see what Leiter's been saying about this issue, and this is the first thing that I found:

  81. 12:31 Inhouse is a very high risk situation. The job security is nonexistent. Just because you had the comfort of Cravath for your first 8 years, does not mean that you will have a job later on or a job that you even like. Problem is that there are lots of Cravath and similar law firm alums on the job market and very few jobs. Yes Cravath will place you or wait until you get that first job. In house employers are not so charitable. If they do not like the way your hair looks today, it is out the door with maybe even not enough notice to clean out your office. You see, you are fungible because there are too many others like you and too few good legal jobs.

  82. 1:41 pm: It's obviously not the first thing you found. But prety much everyone in academia (including his colleagues) thinks Campos is a self-promoting clown, to the extent they've even heard of him. That's got nothing to do with the merits of Tamanaha's critique, which was linked above.

  83. If only we had many more such self-promoting clowns!

  84. So law school professors and administrators don't think much of Campos and wish he'd shut up. What a surprise. And who gives a rat's ass what those parasites think?

  85. I work for Bloggingheads ( Last year we asked Campos and Leiter to debate in our very widely viewed format. Campos agreed, Leiter refused.

  86. ^^^^^^ Come on, be fair to Buzz Leityear. He had commitments, previous engagements, if you will.

    He was scheduled to wash his hair, donchaknow.

  87. Is that right, 2:43 p.m.? What about Deborah Rhode at Stanford? Do you wonder why she chooses to sit on a platform with Campos rather than with, say, Brian Leiter?

    I have noticed that the scammers (Leiter, Horwitz, the crowd at "Prawfs") pay lip service to Tamahana and, sometimes, DJM. They want to create a schism between Campos and other critics they perceive as more moderate. They also, I believe, feel secure that Tamahana's book, powerful though it often is, will not reach a mass audience.

    It won't work. Leiter and Horwitz don't care about students or the legal profession-- witness their meager practice experience and their irrelevant and properly disregarded scholarship. They care about cashing in and they care about maintaining their utterly undeserved reputation as serious and honorable people.

    It is interesting that 2:43 p.m chooses to hurl the insult "self-promoting clown"- an utterly apt description of Brian Leiter's pissy-little prestige-obsessed self.


  88. 0Ls reading this comment section,

    The assclown above rambling on about unemployed attorneys being losers is simply wrong. The number of firm jobs is directly related to market demand for the services that the law firms offer. Law firm jobs do not appear or disappear based on the number of law students and graduates who deserve them (the so-called winners). Do keep in mind though that if you find yourself unemployed at graduation, people like Assclown will go out of their way to tell you that you're a loser. It's how they convince themselves that they "won" their position.

    Also keep in mind that Ascclown is likely a well known law professor. That's right, a law professor. And he isn't well known for his scholarship, which no one reads, but for his obsessive internet trolling. It's one of his "cyber hobbies."

  89. Love it, 4:12. Remember that the guy who turned down this debate is very likely the same guy who won't shut up about Campos being a hypocrite. We've all heard it a thousand times: Campos is a hypocrite because Campos believes that law school is a scam but continues to teach, but X is not a hypocrite for continuing to teach because X doesn't believe that law school is a scam.

    And yet X won't publicly defend his belief that law school is not a scam?

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