Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The new gilded age

I have a piece in Salon, arguing that a Denver federal judge has pushed the government’s willingness to stretch the definition of who qualifies as a genuine “volunteer” under the FLSA beyond the legal breaking point.

The general purpose of the FLSA is to prohibit employers from not paying employees, and to enforce minimum wage standards (there are different wage standards for hourly and professional workers but you still have to pay people if they’re working for you).

The two exceptions to this principle are “internships” and “volunteering.” (The latter exception doesn’t apply to for-profit enterprises). In theory internships are supposed to be limited to educational training that doesn’t displace paid workers. This rule can be and is regularly abused, but the most flagrant abuse of the statute is now taking place in the public sector, through the semantic torture of the noun and verb “volunteer.”
Here’s the relevant definition in the Code of Federal Regulations:
§ 553.101 “Volunteer” defined.
(a) An individual who performs hours of service for a public agency for civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons, without promise, expectation or receipt of compensation for services rendered, is considered to be a volunteer during such hours. Individuals performing hours of service for such a public agency will be considered volunteers for the time so spent and not subject to sections 6, 7, and 11 of the FLSA when such hours of service are performed in accord with sections 3(e)(4) (A) and (B) of the FLSA and the guidelines in this subpart.
(b) Congress did not intend to discourage or impede volunteer activities undertaken for civic, charitable, or humanitarian purposes, but expressed its wish to prevent any manipulation or abuse of minimum wage or overtime requirements through coercion or undue pressure upon individuals to “volunteer” their services.
(c) Individuals shall be considered volunteers only where their services are offered freely and without pressure or coercion, direct or implied, from an employer.
(d) An individual shall not be considered a volunteer if the individual is otherwise employed by the same public agency to perform the same type of services as those for which the individual proposes to volunteer.
Conducting a hiring process that is precisely identical in every detail for two positions that involve doing precisely the same job for the same time period under the same terms of employment, except you pay one of your hires as a GS-11 or GS-12 and pay the other nothing, appears to me to empty the concept of “volunteer” of all meaning.

On a more general level, what's happening in the legal employment market is that it's becoming the norm for a graduate to spend a year or two after graduation working for either literally nothing, or to something close to the economic equivalent, while trying to get his or her "foot in the door" of a real legal job.  So what we're producing is something that's coming to more and more resemble the old apprenticeship system of lawyer training, but with a $200,000+ license fee tacked on. 

Naturally this is making it increasingly implausible for people who don't come from serious money to actually become real lawyers.  In the new gilded age, that might even be the whole point.


  1. Frankly, the apprenticeship model is a better model, except for all of its warts.

    The upside of the apprenticeship model:
    1. Ensures that those who ultimately enter the profession understand what it means to practice law;
    2. Is way cheaper;
    3. Limits the number of entrants to market demand;
    4. Ensures that those who teach the profession (the journeymen) are those who actually know the profession;
    5. Conveys practical trade-related skills to apprentices;
    6. Makes the training of new entrants to the profession productive (i.e., someone actually gets legal services from the trainee solicitor/resident).

    The downside of the apprentice model:
    1. Reinforces the guild and the old boys club;
    2. Restraint on new entrants, and no one likes to be told no;
    3. Discrimination within the profession may be reinforced consciously or unconsciously.

  2. There is a war being waged on young people, and the perpetrators lie on both sides of the political divide. (Martinez is an Obama appointee.) I suspect there will be a terrible price to pay for their callous indifference to the plight of well-meaning, hard-working young Americans saddled with toxic six-figure debt and meager opportunities.

    1. Huey, your choice of words here is spot-on.

      Scam-deniers like to insinuate that student loan debtors are getting what they deserve because they made a selfish, greedy gamble that's not paying off.

      In truth, 95% of these debtors are well-meaning individuals who were trying to do the socially responsible thing and educate themselves to become contributing members of society.

      "Go to college" was the narrative repeated by their elders, and the bait-and-switch of toxic debt is the deepest cut of all.

    2. Agreed. I'm sure that Judge Martinez means well; he's trying to give a down-on-his luck law grad some practical training. But Campos hit the mark here. Pretty soon this will be institutionalized.

      Worse, it will be trumpeted as a success by the scammers. Assume that some unemployed Denver law grad goes to work for Judge Martinez. Anyone care to guess how his TTT will report his employment status?

      There's not a school in the country that wouldn't count him as both a "federal law clerk" and "full time, long term" for reporting purposes.

      And what of the intern's debt? Is it part of the pay as you earn program, being forgiven by taxpayers over the 20 year period? If so, then there certainly is a cost to this unpaid "volunteer's" training.

    3. An important point here is that market forces can be distorted by government action, but only to a point, and not in the way that U Chicago law and econ nuts suggest.

      There will always be a demand for some lawyers. High ability thinkers and highly skilled advocates are employable. What we'll see is an ever more expensive attempt to differentiate. Law school will be the minimum requirement to enter the field, but you won't even get a job defending traffic tickets unless you have a federal clerkship/internship or a law firm apprenticeship providing you with 2 years of practical training.

      Law prof points this out here: rather than being the enabler of the people to crack into the profession, it morphs into an expensive but necessary first barrier. Only after you shell out 200k can you enter the apprenticeship game.

      We are there (or close to there) now. Why should law schools continue? What utility do they serve? And if they are necessary to teach critical thought, what does it say about our system of undergraduate education?

    4. On the subject of "why should law schools continue:" don't we already have a "backlog" of several years' worth of lawyers out there in the filed, unemployed or working at Starbucks?

      Isn't this just like excess inventory, whether in housing or manufactured goods?

      I don't think that law school education goes stale just because of a few years as a barista. And "thinking like a lawyer," well, that NEVER grows old.

    5. Should be "field," not "filed." Sorry.

  3. All of this ends when the scam ends. And the scam ends when the money stops. We must stop IBR and the new "Pay as You Earn" program -- the 10 percent 20 year indenture to the scam.

    There are far too many lawyers who qualify for food stamps. Schools should not be enabled.

    1. Agreed.

      I think that going off on too many tangents (gender issues, interning issues, etc.) simply divides the movement and distracts attention from what should be the main focus - compelling the schools to publish accurate placement information or compiling it independently ourselves.

      With *accurate* information, the market will make adjustments (it already is).

      The $200k intern won't be a problem when just 10,000 people are applying to law school - because it has been broadly published that 33% of existing JDs have quit the profession out of financial necessity (to pick a reasonable number out of the air).

      I think the continued compilation and broader publication of data should be the first and foremost priority of the scamblogging movement.

      It will have the greatest rewards, fastest.

    2. What is the point of ending IBR? How is that going to change the decision-making process of 0Ls or the behavior of law schools?

      Please don't make my eyes bleed with an overreliance on "incentives" or "rational actors."

    3. Well, BoredJD, if Uncle Sam ceases being the 100 percent lender for all law schools, law schools will have to stop increasing their tuition.

      Also, if uncle sam stops lending (or caps lending like before), law students cannot attend unless they are rich or unless they can get a loan from a private lender. What private lender would give money to a law student at a TTT today? QED.

    4. I am very aware that private lenders actually use underwriting criteria before approving or denying such loans. Private Loans for Law Schools are only being approved when a cosigner has High Income and Strong Credit. If the borrower can't pay the loan, the cosigner may pay it on behalf of the borrower to stop the default. If it officially defaults, collectors go for the cosigners.

    5. "What is the point of ending IBR?"

      To stop the law schools from fleecing it in order to continue their tuition hikes of 2 or 3 times the rate of inflation while perhaps as many as 1 in 3 JDs don't work in the law due to economic circumstances.

      Ending the IBR (in real-world practice surely bought by law professor/administrator political contributions) will make life harder on current JDs - but it will *end* this ruinous system of mindless subsidy-driven tuition inflation that in the end benefits *no one* but the brokering political class and the gaming parasites who hire them (the law schools).

    6. Anon 7:21 writes that all of this ends when the scam ends. Then, s/he goes on to say that the scam ends when IBR ends. That doesn't quite connect all the dots.

      I agree with Anon 8:17 who says, in effect, the scam ends when the insane, taxpayer-guaranteed, "free-money," student-loans-to-anyone end.

      No actual lender will loan money to people who have almost no chance of repaying the loan. Only something like a government (that takes money from taxpayers at gunpoint) can make such "loans" in this manner.

      Ultimately, this is merely a redistribution of wealth from the taxpayers to the bankers yet again. (Does anyone remember the bank bail outs after the housing crash?)

      It's amazing how this keeps happening and the dull masses never seem to catch on...

    7. IBR has nothing to do with ending the scam. It won't change student behavior, since students don't know about it. If they do know about it, they don't think they'll ever need it (special snowflake syndrome). Law schools don't give a shit whether there are loan repayment programs, since they get paid up front.

    8. "It's amazing how this keeps happening and the dull masses never seem to catch on..."

      1) Because there is a (dying) residual belief that American Government operates in the interest of the People...rather than Itself and

      2)...because there is a (dying) MSM shamelessly dedicated to its decades long endeavor of promoting point #1.

      In the long march of human history (and in most nations even today) the thought that the "Government" is somehow distinct from "Self-serving Political, Economic, and Military Elite" would be laughable.

      Government "from the people, for the people" is an amazingly rare exception - and it has been lost in the US now as well.

      But it is hard to shake the memory of better times and 8th grade civics class.

      Plus, to acknowledge the loss of "American Exceptionalism" - in its truest sense - would be to demand a response from a currently mis-educated (thanks, tax farming teacher unions), narcotized (thanks degenerating MSM), and temporarily bought-off citizenry (thanks dying reserve currency status).

      It is going to take awhile before anyone can forge Minute Men (and Women!) out of a nation of couch-dwelling, porn-surfing, Government check cashing products of the Modern (Transient) Welfare State.

      Namely, it will take the checks stopping...because China and Saudi have pulled the plug on us.

    9. Bored JD, although I think what you say has been true up to this point in regard to the attitudes of both 0Ls and law schools to IBR, this may be changing. Recently both professors and schools have started pushing IBR hard as a key reason why law school is "still a good investment." I've noticed that on sites like TLS this seems to be having some effect among some 0Ls.

    10. "IBR has nothing to do with ending the scam. It won't change student behavior, since students don't know about it."

      Then why are schools pitching it to incoming students?

      It seems to me there are more Special Snowflakes in the professoriat ("Who Me, Accountable?") then in the current, at-long-long-last accurately informed applicant pool.

    11. 11:03/Lawprof: We've seen little evidence that pitching IBR is actually going to be effective in encouraging more applicants. In fact it might prove a net negative marketing tactic for the law schools, as prospective students want to be told they'll all be rich and successful at the end of three years, not that they will need a government repayment program because they will be considered in a financial hardship.

      If the law schools want to hoist their own petard by believing IBR will save them, I say let them.

    12. BoredJD,

      "not that they will need a government repayment program"

      Properly understood, the schools are pitching them a free *insurance policy*.

      The contemporary pitch is thus:

      1) Everybody knows lawyers make bank - after all look at our shiny statistics (and pay no attention to that man behind the blog!)

      2) Oh, you have some doubts...well, that only goes to show how *thoughtful* you are (my pretty...). Perhaps things have been a touch difficult since the horrid crash of 2008 and one could hardly think We of the Law would emerge utterly unscathed...but things will of course cycle back to normalcy by the time *you* graduate.

      THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO BUY! (er, we mean apply...).

      3) Oh, my. You read the NYT and have seen *those* journal articles...well, *industrious* you are (my dear). That will serve you well in our law school - and in *any* career you undertake...

      ...And the JD is highly valued in almost *any* profession - WE TEACH YOU HOW TO THINK! - and who, inside or outside the law, could fail to value *that*?

      4) Er, you would like the names of the law firms - and especially the non-legal firms - that recruited and hired here last year?

      Does it have to be *last* year? I seem to have misplaced that report...but I do have names from 1967...and my step-brother's cousin's sister-in-law got a job in Senator Brown's office (sotto voce: I think).

      5) Hmmmm...still on the fence? Look, beyatch, even if everything goes sideways and I'm full of sh*t, the f*cking taxpayer proles are the ones on the hook for the vast bulk of your "education" - Here, take this brochure about STDs...I mean IBR...

      6) Tax liability on forgiven debt? - ah, sh*t...look, you have a high LSAT and we fell a couple slots in the rankings last year...

      ...Go to the alley behind the law school foundation ("non-profit" of course), ask for "Fast Larry Sager", and he'll give you this *envelope* see...

    13. @ 7:42am -- It's not just information asymmetry, it's irrational decision-making on top of that. Even if people find out that $160K is obtainable by only 25% of the class (or 5% at a TTT)--instead of 50% like the previous "medians" claimed--they're still going to believe that they will be the one that gets it. They're going to think that understanding the law and hard work will be enough to succeed, because that worked in undergrad. That's why what Law School Transparency is doing--while laudable and commendable--is only half the battle. People next have to realize how messy the whole law exam administration/grading process is, and how that interacts with the curve, etc., and that you can't just get whatever grade you desire with hard work and understanding.

    14. Excellent post JCougar. I think that many 0Ls are so focused on just doing their best to get into schools that they aren't looking at jobs.

    15. IBR was intended as a last resort, not as a first one. Congress should be furious that law schools are publicly pushing it.

    16. that's not what obama said in his acceptance speech for the democratic nomination this year. He said IBR was great because it allowed people who wanted to help others by taking a low paying job (like a small town doctor or public defender) with a way to go to law school and pay off their loans.

  4. The boomer generation is eating its children. How will we pay for your Social Security, Medicare, wars, and roads when we can't earn a salary?

    1. What can't continue, won't

      What can't go on, stops.

      The only thing standing between America and its pending financial collapse is the tattered reserve currency status of the US dollar.

      When the annual $1 trillion difference between tax revenues (not too far from a practical ceiling despite "millionaires behind every hedge" mythmaking...) and government spending (to blatantly buy off social peace in an era of self-evident economic decline) can no longer be sustained - because commodity producers and product manufacturers will no longer ship us goods in exchange for our toilet paper currency, the dollar will die and the whole obvious house of cards will collapse.

      Every single year, the government is only capable of generating 60 cents on each dollar that it spends - the rest is borrowed from savers from around the world under the ultimately deluded notion that the dollar is a "safe haven".

      Why? "Because it has been."

      Excellent, ignorant reasoning that - utterly divorced from the underlying economic changes that have occurred worldwide over the last 10, 20, and 40 years.

      This is Weimar America, folks - where we are (temporarily) papering over our real decline with pretend "money" (in reality, debt).


      Reminds me of the movie "They Live":
      "I've got one that can see..."

    3. No, the ABA is eating our children, as are the President, U.S. Department of Education and members of Congress that allow this law school loan scam to continue and keep the ABA in the drivers seat here.

      It is a small group of people running the show here, and they are running hundreds of thousands of young and not so young lawyers lives into the group.

      You need to take your complaint to your U.S. Senator and Congressman. They need to change the laws on law school loans and oust the ABA from the accreditation of law schools. Accreditation and regulation of class size needs to be handled by an impartial U.S. government controlled body that does this full time and has as its most critical mandate the matching of supply and demand in the legal profession when accrediting law schools and setting class sizes.

  5. Let's be clear. The Boomer generation - the draft dodging, me-first, I got mine generation - destroyed this profession and piloted the ABA into the reef. If I hear one more over-50 lawyer bitching about "young lawyers today", I could end up punching the demographically advantaged loser in the face. Half of these people wouldn't have been admitted into their alma matters after 1990.

    1. Yes. They were born from 1946 to 1964, during America's post-war ascendance to global economic powerhouse. They entered the legal labor force approximately 25 years later, from 1971 to 1989, during the zenith of America's economic might.

      Since then, they have not focused on "growth" in any meaningful sense. They've instead tried to capture wealth and rent seek. I want mine.

      They want to continue to get theirs in 2012 America, and we're tapped out. We also have to deal with worldwide competition in the labor market, which did not exist from 1946 to the early 1980s. The party is over for America, and the spoiled brat baby boom generation needs to wake up to it.

    2. One of the problems with Boomers is that they're convinced that the world is cyclical and will wind up being better than it was for them. My old man insists that there is untold millions in cash waiting on the sidelines for more favorable business conditions and the American economy will skyrocket like it's 1999.

      I get the feeling he's not the only one ignoring the evidence.

    3. Very well ranted!

    4. I was born in 1962 and graduated from law school in 1987. I don't consider myself a boomer. My parents are boomers. The legal profession sucked in 1987; the law schools lied about employment statistics even then. Why does everyone throw me across the boomer line??????

  6. One of my favorite parts of the scam is the duplicitous use of the word "service."

    Volunteering as a companion to Alzheimer's patients, or serving as a rape crisis counselor, or even taking certain pro bono cases, is a public service.

    Working a judge or working as a law school dean making six figures is not a "public service." Taking a prestigious job with cutthroat competition is not a "public service."

    By the same token, taking an post-graduate work-for-free position is not an "internship" or "volunteer" public service. The regulations are written to allow genuine volunteer work and genuine internships. They are not supposed to allow people to displace paid positions to "get your foot in the door."

    This is not hard, nor is it merely semantics. The willingness of Boomer shysters to redefine some of our most basic labor terms is a sign that they are in no moral position to lead or reform.

  7. OT, But Extremely Important:

    Tomorrow and December 25 are the most important days in the anti-scam calendar.

    Tomorrow, you get to talk with cousin Missy who is unhappy working retail following her cum laude education in anthropology from Oberlin, and thinks she has a good chance of a partial scholarship to Fordham Law.

    And to Uncle John, whose next door neighbor Tony is bored with his "dead end" work as an entry level programmer and is thinking about going to night school at John Marshall so that he can switch into patent law, where Loop firms pay $170,000 plus bonus to start.

    The scam works because it relies on false information and backward looking expectations projected into the future. Share a critical (and not hyperbolic) counterpoint to the scam to these people, and encourage them to do their homework before leaping to law school.

    1. "Tomorrow and December 25 are the most important days in the anti-scam calendar."

      Brilliant insight.

      And come armed with the URLs of the scamblogs, Law School Transparency, ABA placement statistics, relevant MSM articles, etc.

      Empirical data is the mortal enemy of the Empire of the Bullsh*t Anecdote ("You can use our JD *anywhere*!") that the schools have built.

      Without independent data to back up your assertions to Uncle Ben or Cousin Missy, you run the risk of being blown off as the "disgruntled exception" - another marginalized victim of the schools' mythmaking machinery.

  8. "I want mine."

    Don't worry, the Boomers are just about to get theirs.

    As Stalin once said, "How many divisions does the Pope have?" - in a few years it will become "How many divisions/secret police does AARP have?".

    In the end, any "politico-legal" system is simply a superficial patina of civilization painted upon the raw economic and sociological realities lying underneath.

    And just as the tattered dollar is doomed, so too is the system that currently empowers the non-working "senior vote" and the political class courtiers who cater to them (and themselves).

    Decades of law school fraud have converted JDs from administrators of the "System" into its revolutionaries.

    1. "Decades of law school fraud have converted JDs from administrators of the "System" into its revolutionaries." Man, I hope you're right! As a 3L, I am definitely one of those revolutionaries.

      I appreciate your comment, most of the comments on this article, and this website. As I still search fruitlessly for a job in the public sector (non-profit work), this blog and its commenters help me feel a little less alone in my cynicism/skepticism about law school and the legal job market.

  9. Whoah, lot's of ZeroHedge Dollar doomers on today.

    Enjoy the Turkey!

    1. "Dollar doomers"

      Fed balance sheet ("conjured high-power money") tripled over four years (QE1 to QE Infinity) while corresponding, underlying real-asset base has grown...perhaps 10%...

      Yeah, I can see how this is all going to end well.

      But, hey, at least 5000 law professors got to make over six figures for working 6 hours per week in the classroom...for 40 weeks.

      And isn't *that* what *really* matters?

  10. Happy anniversary to me!

    My one year anniversary without health insurance!

    And I have a JD!

    I also have a friend with a JD that has no health insurance, and she has over 20K in hospital bills by now.

    There are days when I am so very unhappy, and the Holidays are the worst time of the year to get through.

    1. It's not hard to run up $20k WITH health insurance these days.

    2. Hey, you could do her Chapter 7 pro bono, and your school can then count you as "employed." Instant solo!

  11. This thread is crazy. Most of us boomer lawyers are in the same boat as younger lawyers - unemployer and underemployed. We do not control the scam and are victims of the scam. A big percentage of our working lives was stolen by the scam. We have no employment options other than retail.

    1. Oh shut up. Your law degree cost you $30K. Shut the fuck up.

    2. If you really spent that much on your degree, you need to ask if you did the diligence before spending the money and three years of your life in law school. By the year 2000, the internet was widely available. A recession in 2001 affected legal jobs, and information was available on the internet. The people who went to law school before the oversupply became critical were the most scammed. There was a time when going to a good law school guaranteed you some type of decent work. There was also a time before the internet became available when information on law school placement was harder to find.

      What I am saying is that if you are a recent grad who was scammed, it's your own fault.

    3. 10:19:

      There was very, very little on the internet when I applied, and that was 2008. It paled in comparison to articles saying it was a great time to go to graduate school, and the objective reader would have said the balance was with the scammers.

      Want a sign? 2009 and 2010 were bumper crop years for law applications. That tells you the scam information was not sufficiently out there. Res ipsa.

    4. As with yesterday's "gender" post, let's not descend into power-sapping internecine combat over who is worse off.

      Let's focus on the real villains, those who have *profited* from the decades of the Scam.

      The Professoriat (look at the UT back-alley "forgivable loan" scandal for chrissakes) and the Law School administrative apparatus.

      They are the ones who have structured the con and cashed the checks.

      So - can't we all just get along?

      So we can crucify *those* bastards!

    5. The ABA bastards are still working. No one is telling the law schools to cut class sizes.

      In fact, my classmates are probably employable in some fashion, but not in large or mid-sized law firms. There are jobs in more suburban areas that may be open to older lawyers. If one is willing to commute several hours a day, or live in a different city from one's family, a good legal job may be available. Problem is that on the East coast they are not jobs that pay or even offer the opportunity to ever earn the $160,000 in a major city in a job reachable by public transportation that top law schools have led their grads to expect. These jobs come up very infrequently. They are filled by former BigLaw associates. They are JD preferred jobs in accounting firms or jobs in small operations in small cities that sometimes employ lawyers. If you cannot hold out for one of these jobs, and cannot get the scarce temp work for lawyers, your only option would be retail while you wait.

    6. Sorry, but I am someone who was born in year 1966 (the beginning of Gen X), but mostly identifies with Boomers, and is married to a Boomer. I have to honestly say that most Boomers could give a rat's *ss about anyone but themselves. They drive gas guzzling cars, don't have solar panels on their $750,000 homes, and could have done something about the situation in our country by now, had they wanted to. I am especially talking about the lawyers who make up almost all of Congress and pretty much every politician for the last 30 years.

      Boomer lawyers run almost every major social, educational, business and political organization in our country, and they are all failing. Boomers run the military and banking, both areas in which something needs to be done - today.

      The law school scam issue is just a microcosm of the greed and avarice that is displayed by Boomers all over the country. Boomer judges have all but thrown out rule of law, by not honorably ruling on the law school scam/fraud lawsuits, and no Boomer lawyers have brought suit and/or criminal charges against any of these judges. Just like no bankers have gone to jail or been prosecuted by any politician/lawyer of either political party.

      Boomers took a country that could have been the envy of the post-industrialized world and instead wasted the lead we had...

      So I understand that dislike of Boomers by everyone younger, and it has been an earned dislike.

    7. 10:55 In 2008, the BigLaw layoffs started in full force. Lehman crashed and burned. chronicled these awful events blow by blow.

      Anyone who did not get a job for the summer after their 2L year should have though twice about whether to continue in law school at a cost of $60,000 or more a year.

      If I had had to spend my 2L summer without a BigLaw job, or had not gotten a 3L offer after that summer, I probably would have dropped out of law school. I would have realized the job market was not what it was supposed to be and that I was on the wrong track - at least not one that was likely to work for me.

  12. I am on the side of the indebted, but there's a point where I have to ask why you and your friend don't move to a country with free or cheap health care and work under the table or over the internet.

    When you owe money on types of debt that barely exist in other countries - student loan and health care bills -- you might take that as a sign to flee.

    1. I'm sure your heart is in the right place, but your response is incredibly naive. The kinds of countries that have free health insurance still require paper for you to enter the hospital. If you're working there under the table, you're in no better position than you are now.

      It's also not wise to leave your family and support system in the US. Fleeing overseas is incredibly risky.

    2. Yes, that is most certainly a good idea.

      There are just a few problems.

      Most other countries have EXTREMELY restrictive immigration policies. The USA is the only major country that I know of with open borders. Well, maybe just the southern border. The northern border is sealed tight...

      What country wants to take economic refugees from the USA?

      Additionally, I would think you would need some amount of capital...

    3. Hmm, I wonder what these countries know that Americans don't?

      From what I've heard, Mexico's SOUTHERN border is sealed up like the DMZ in Korea. Nothing gets in.

      We want to forcecram as many Mexicans into America as possible; why can't we "import" THEIR immigration policy?

  13. This site keeps talking about how bad the LS scam is, and it is bad. However, whats the alternative? I told a professor that LS is a scam and that I wish I did something else with my life. He smiled malignantly and said "like what?" This blog needs to provide some suggestions on the alternatives. I know what they are, but does everyone else? Do the lemmings know that being a garbageman is better.than being a lawyer for 75% of the population?

    1. @9:46 a.m.:

      You'd feel most comfortable speaking to one of our other frequent posters. How do you feel about becoming a NYC police officer?

    2. This is an important point. LS is the lotto ticket for the recently graduated B.A.

      There are hundreds of thousands of recent BAs in America who are un/underemployed. Almost all want white collar jobs in offices that can provide a standard of living that they once knew. Almost all were raised in households that earned family income between $40,000 and $200,000.

      How do you convince these people that there are alternatives to "more schooling" when they've heard this message for 20 years.

    3. The recent BAs that I know found good jobs. These people did not go to Ivy League colleges. They are solid people with good records though. They had liberal arts or business degrees undergrad. The job search was not always quick but it always led to a job with a future and pay between $45,000 and $60,000 to start. Of course, these people live in large or secondary cities. The story may be different in a more rural area.

    4. @1026 - how many BAs do you know? 2?

      I can name three people off the top of my head who were magna cum laude or higher at name schools who haven't been able to sniff 45k. The BA market is glutted and most firms want experience before anything.

      More education is not the answer to our economic issues, and has not been for some time now.

    5. "He smiled malignantly"

      The professoriat really is filled with Dickensian villains, isn't it?

      Each semester, I show up...expecting to have Dr. Cashgrab or Professor Fauxstats.

      Or Deans Jarndyce and Jarndyce.

      re: Law School and Lack of Options for Undergrads:

      "Suffer any wrong that can be done you rather than come here!"

      Chancery, thy name is law school...

    6. These are good kids. Not special. They looked hard and found work after college. Some worked in not so good jobs before finding a good job. Some spent a year looking. If these kids were magna at Amherst or GW and are working retail a year after graduation, and they live in New York City or Boston, I can say other people are finding good jobs in this time.

    7. Some waited on tables while looking and others took months of unpaid internships while looking. It is hard to believe that a magna degree from a well known college plus a year of diligent looking produces retail for most people. It is true that the job market works unevenly, but I know several recent grads with good jobs and several college students with summer positions may lead to jobs after they graduate. This is the Northeast, near NY and Boston. I have no doubt that if you live in Orlando for example, you may need to work in a theme park, and it may be hard to get a business job.

    8. "hard to believe"

      Not so hard to believe - looking at the economy as a whole, the employed-to-population ratio for those 25-to-54 has fallen dramatically (Google it) - a fall that is basically without peer in recorded American economic history.

      (Such stats weren't yet collected during the Great Depression).

      So we are looking at a "working age" employment depression that is as bad as anything the nation has seen since the 30's.

      This is a criminally under-reported statistic.

      The decades long law school scam makes this all the more worse for JDs...there was already a huge reserve army of the marginally employed in law...unreported because of shame and few means of low cost communication (blogging software, circa 2007 on, ended that).

    9. "If these kids were magna at Amherst or GW and are working retail a year after graduation, and they live in New York City or Boston, I can say other people are finding good jobs in this time."

      That doesn't logically follow. It's likely (and true) that there simply aren't enough jobs to justify the production of BAs, JDs, MAs, etc.

    10. Here is my response to that question. You need to understand that your life will be immeasurably worse when you have 6 figures of debt to repay.

      You have to understand that the likelihood your life will be better after law school are very low. Going to law school because you don't have other options is simply digging yourself a bigger hole that you will never get out of.

    11. It takes a long time of looking to get a good job with a BA. It surely is possible though if one has a good record and is in an urban area with public transportation. The BAs I know have found work with a future. Some are still looking from the class of 2012. However, the 2011s I know and even one of the 2012s have found good work.

    12. I think the expectation here of BAs in how hard it is to find a job is different from the reality. It is very difficult for BAs to find a good job. They need to look high and low and make tons and tons of effort to find that good job.

      With law, no matter how much someone looks they may not find a good legal job. The oversupply of lawyers is just too acute.

      I think with BAs there are an almost unlimited number of employment options open to them.

      On the other hand lawyers are pretty much limited to law in their job searches. In this difficult job market it is much harder to transition from law to something else than to find a good BA job. It may be impossible to switch from law to a non-law job if you are not working or are waiting tables on in retail. For BAs it is possible to move from retail or waiting tables to an entry level job with some future, because there are more options open.

    13. 10:51 Just off the top of my head, 9 out of 11 recent grads and 5 of 7 grads I know in the classes of 2011 and 2012 have found jobs. One 2012 just completed a program abroad and will start to look. Another 2012 had a summer job related to her college major and is looking now. I think none of the friends of these people who graduated are working in retail or anything like that. Some of the job searches were excruciating. Some took 2 years to get specialty jobs in science. No one has failed in their search with just a BA. A law degree is a horse of a different color though - likely to land people unemployed and underemployed with the awful unemployment and underemployment we can thank the ABA for. After reading the article on TaxProfBlog on lawyer overproduction, I cannot understand why the ABA with its awful track record is left in charge, blithely ruining lives with debt and degrees that for most lawyers will lead to a life of failure.

    14. Most of these kids are upper middle class. They have successful parents. Almost none of the jobs were through connections though. I think the parent have taught their kids that success may entail banging your head against a wall and suffering in an interminable job search. It may involve months or even a couple of years of piling up rejections,

      Law is so much worse than having a BA. It is a different much higher level of probability of failure.

  14. Want to see how badly U.S. students are treated?

    This chart shows the tuition fees charged by European universities.

    It's a little old (2007), but I spotchecked a few of the rates, and they are still comparable (except the UK, which had a recent fee hike).

    You should consider emigrating if only to spare yourself the cost of educating your kids in the U.S. and to spare your adult children the agony of debt peonage.

    1. It would be useful if someone could compile, or link to, a chart showing the requirements for emigrating to various "good" countries.

      From what I understand, these places have actual immigration laws AND ENFORCE THEM, including limits on "work permits" and "student visas." This is if you're thinking of becoming a citizen or permanent resident, not just over-staying your visa.

      I'd love to hear stories from folks who successfully made this transition. I know anecdotally from friends who've tried, that some places have age restrictions [they don't want all the old US citizens fleeing to their country to sop up the free or low costs health care], income or asset restrictions ["we'll let you in if you deposit $250,000 or $500,000 in a financial institution in our country" -- we don't want to have to support you with our "social net"].

      Pipe dreams about how great it would be to flee the US and all its problems [and your own debt] are just that, until a few facts are discovered.

    2. They're not pipe dreams. I've done it.

      I live outside the U.S., having fled my credit card and educational debts. I am a legal resident of a low-cost country with a high quality of life.

      It takes work. It takes study (which your legal training should prepare you for). It takes paper -- oh, my it takes paper work. It takes fortitude, because there are always unforseen complications.

      But you can do it if you want to.

      Most Americans don't really want to.

      The real pipe dream is the thought that your career will miraculously turn around or that the BK laws will change and that you will somehow have that secure upper-middle class life you wanted.

      If you stay in the US, you are screwed for life, and, more importantly, you are offering up your children to this system.

      Get out.

  15. I would appreciate it if someone with more STEM knowledge than me can repost that link as a working link.

    Some readers will be shocked to see how out of step the US is with Europe when it comes to tuition fees.

    Americans are being rooked.

    1. Sure, but the "Everything's Better in Europe" line of reasoning ignores the higher taxpayer burden.

      Are Euro-profs really getting paid less (perhaps) or working more (probably not)?

      Any "solution" that simply shifts the cost of fraud to another innocent party (the taxpayer) isn't actually a solution.

      The solution is to stop the fraud.

      The Occupy Wall Street fix of "Where's Our Bailout" doesn't work when your reserve currency with its "exorbitant privilege" (of consequence-less money printing) is dying of end-stage cancer.

    2. Everything isn't better in Europe.

      Housing can be poor-quality and scarce in large cities, the absurd price of petrol raises the cost of everything, and the societies are stagnant with little social mobility.

      But you don't start out life in hock.

      Yes, taxes are high on paper, but if you are as smart as you say you are, you will figure out creative and legal ways to reduce them. The most popular Italian sport, after football, is playing hide and seek with the Agenzia delle Entrate. Do you really think French yuppies are handing over 70% of their income?

      But what is better in (most of) Europe is that education is seen as a public good to be provided by the state.

      University tuition in France is free. Tuition in Belgium is free. It's a grand a year in Portugal, two grand a year in the Netherlands, three grand in Switzerland.

      When most Europeans graduate with their law degree, they have little or no debt and are ready to start work. If a legal career fails to materialize, oh, well, it was a fun and cheap three years, and it's back to the family business, wiser but no poorer.

      The banias of the U.S. decided to use the tollboth of higher education as the means to trap people into the misery of compound interest. And the biggest shylock is the U.S. government.

      Europe is not perfect, but, when it comes to educating young adults, it's infinitely better than the U.S.

    3. Yes, and as an American-trained lawyer who holds a masters degree from the University of Cambridge, what I saw there was even more absurd: intelligent young adults reluctant to enter the real world, because it was so much easier to bounce from highly-subsidized degree to degree (many of which degrees were not employable) and laze away their twenties in academe. I would be outraged if my tax dollars as an American went to that sort of idiocy.

  16. Santa Honey,

    there's really one more thing that I need:

    The deed. To a platinum mine.

    So hurry down the chimbly tonight!

  17. I read this a while back:

    1. Interesting, the site also linked to PC's Salon post

  18. When I was a student and stressed and sick of the lazy prof bullshit, I once told a law professor, approximately 10 years ago, that I was the customer -- and that the customer was always right.

    I quickly regretted losing my temper and being a prick about it.

    Now, I think it was one of the greatest things I did during law school.

    1. But that's the problem for the student/customer...once they are initially rooked into attending law school, they become easy prey for the "Gambler's Fallacy" - throwing good money (Years 2 and 3 tuition money) after bad (Year 1 tuition).

      They learn...but they learn too late.

      "I am in blood / Stepp'd in so far, that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o'er."

      And without the realistic threat of actually walking away...the student/customer loses all leverage.

      But law school is a thorough skull-f*cking from the start...beginning with the very carefully constructed illusion that one is so very, very fortunate to be admitted against such odds, and one is so very, very special for having been.

      This is functionally the same thing that hookers say to johns or cons to marks.

      And pretty much for the same reason.

      *To get their money*.

      Newbies think they are "special snowflakes" for a *reason*...

    2. Right--the problem is that law students are customers who are a) being evaluated by the product they are purchasing and b) face giant switching costs.

  19. I'd like to bring this back to Campos's post. Frankly what the judge is doing is far better than what law schools do. The judge is offering an opportunity spend a year during which one will learn far more than one does in the second or third year of law school and which will do far more for one's employment prospects. Rather than charge $50,000 as a law school would, the judge offers this for free.

    If you want to create a far better world for law school students, allow all law students to volunteer as a clerk in lieu of their third year of law school. The law students would save $50,000 in tuition and get a far better education, the judges get help they want and the law professors are freed up to do their vitally important research or do highly lucrative consulting--things they generously now give up to help students.

    1. Agree. The solution is to abolish law school or to make "reading for the bar" the way to practice once again.

      Pry the keys to the profession from the ivory tower and we'll have wealthier, happier, more knowledgeable lawyers, and fewer of them!

    2. "If you want to create a far better world for law school students, allow all law students to volunteer as a clerk in lieu of their third year of law school. The law students would save $50,000 in tuition and get a far better education, the judges get help they want and the law professors are freed up to do their vitally important research or do highly lucrative consulting--things they generously now give up to help students."

      I can agree with that.

  20. Replies
    1. Ooops. Last link bad. Go here.

    2. Actually, that NYT piece is a *spectacular* article (Catherine Rampell, I want to have your baby!).

      This is the first time I've seen the gross numbers (literally and figuratively) hit the mainstream press.

      1.4 million JD grads over 40 years (ABA stat).

      200k to 600k unaccounted for (ABA and BLS stats).

      Trust me, these sorts of numbers, in the New York Times, are going to make applicants (and their parents) sh*t their pants.

      This is like watching Eowyn finish off the Witch King in the Lord of the Rings:

      "No man can kill me. Die now."

      "I am no man..."

      (Note 1: Hopefully this helps, in a small way, to heal the gender rift needlessly created yesterday...)

      (Note 2: Dear law schools, when you can profitably be compared to the grasping, rasping personification of ultimate evil, you have probably lost the PR war).

      (Note 3: Note 2 suggests that the ABA will shortly trundle out Spokesbot Model X4GT and Professor Profiteer Pangloss to insist that "There are so *many* lucrative careers outside of the law for JDs!". Henceforth and forever after, this will be known as the "Out-law Excuse").

      (Note 4: The specific numbers cited in the NYT piece and Gans' article were first widely publicized in the various scamblogs.)

    3. I agree that this is great. Perfect for the Thanksgiving conversation as you can invoke the NYT, which still has some credibility.

      Well, Aunt Jane, before Julie goes to school, she may want to read the article from yesterday's NYT Economix blog.

      It notes that the legal market has become more crowded, with the ratio of the American population to American lawyers morphing to 252 to 1 in 2005 from 695 to 1 in 1951. The paper also estimated that, of the 1.4 million law graduates of the last 40 years, about 200,000 to 600,000 are not working as lawyers.

      That's consistent with my experiences, as there are so many recent grads with the law school overhang that scores have no employment at all. Julie might want to wait a few years to see how it shakes out.

    4. How can the range of unaccounted for lawyers be so huge? 200,000-600,000 is an unacceptable range when you are talking about a population of 1.4 million.

    5. "How can the range of unaccounted for lawyers be so huge?"

      Because the gatekeepers of the profession (the schools) have little interest in finding out the truth (they know they can't handle the truth...) once the tuition checks have cleared.

      Other than crookedly complying with USN&WR's ultra-short-term requirements (which, it must be said, replaced absolutely no requirements at all...) the schools have no incentive to follow up on outcomes.

      (The new ABA standards are just still very short term in outlook).

      So, the only other published source ostensibly surveying the whole profession is the sample driven Bureau of Labor.

      Marrying up two (or three) distinct data sources, with differing methodologies and definitions results in the tragically wide range.

      1) The ABA tells us there are ~1.5 million JD grads from the last 40 years


      2) and the ABA (polling state Bars) also tells us that only ~1.25 million JDs are currently licensed

      So, we know *at least* 250,000 JDs have gone *poof*.

      3) The BLS then tells us they think there are 728,000 JDs working as lawyers

      So the potential evaporation soars to ~750K (or half the friggin profession).

      Various authors then drill down into the varying survey methodologies and come up with the 200k to 600k range after making a number of best-guess adjustments.

      Pathetic, isn't it?

      But those with the resources to perform a true census (the ABA, the NALP, the schools) have little incentive to perform one (and the schools strongly suspect they have *adverse* incentives) - and those most desirous of any true census information (school applicants and recent graduates) have very few financial resources.

      So, this is how a profession becomes so economically deranged.

  21. Meow Meow asks: Did you ever see anyone holding a sign saying, "Will Work For Free"? How about "Will Work For Free For A Year"?

  22. ".........the law professors are freed up to do their vitally important research"

    Yeah, like research about space law, or sports law, or witchcraft and how it somehow relates to jurisprudence and law.

    As that easy government handout student loan money keeps flowing in, there is no telling what kind of "important" legal scholarship will come out of the woodwork next.

    As someone else said in so many words, the lifeblood of the scam is the student lending with all consumer bankruptcy rights removed.

    In America, there is no one time chance to start over thru bankruptcy.

    I will leave you with this quote from the sea of "legal scholarship" that has emerged from the sugar teat of student lending:

    "Louise and I decided to present the class on witchcraft at a faculty colloquium
    so that some of our more traditional colleagues could see the value of an
    interdisciplinary approach to legal problems or issues."

    And if you want to pursue more info. about witchcraft, go here:

    1. "witchcraft"

      Isn't that how the placement statistics used to get compiled?

      Or was that "wishcraft?

      Actually, I think it was wish-crap.

    2. Here is another Touro alumni.

      "My name is Matt Foley, I am a motivational speaker, and I live in a van down by the river."

  23. This "internship" scam used to be restricted to jobs in the arts - movies, fashion design. Too many applicants, not enough jobs, so the the applicants (contestants) vie in a tournament to see who can last the longest and work the hardest for no pay. Winners get entry-level paid work.

    Unfortunately there's now too many applicants and not enough jobs for all kinds of professional white-collar jobs. Law, architecture, business. Perhaps even engineering eventually the way things are headed. So the practice of these quasi-internships are spreading.

    If you read the conditions of what qualifies as a proper internship, it is quite narrowly defined. The interns should require near-constant supervision from paid employees and should not generate any profit for the company. If this definition were applied most "internships" in America would be shut down immediately.

  24. On Boomer lawyers I think you need to recognise that it depends on what age the Boomer is - the boomers were in essence born 1946-1964. That means that early Boomers entered the legal profession in about 1969-71 and did pretty well for the most part - hiring was not that bad, partnership tracks were 3-5 years, leverage in firms was low so promotions were fairly easy - and there were not that many law graduates for the size of the economy - that group of early Boomers are now 64-68 or so. Mid-boomers also had a somewhat better time, entering the profession mostly in the early 80s. Late Boomers though graduated in the late 80s to early 90s, just as the profession started to show slowing growth, hiring started to "tank," and the impact of the evil Hildebrandt on law firms became seriously apparent.

    Essentially the situation today is a culmination of issues that were already apparent by 1989-91 - it is a lot worse, but anyone paying attention could see the trends - and indeed the first serious discussions of the issue showed up in 1995 - as DJM demonstrated in her post "Crisis ahead."

    I graduated in 1992 and was offered no-pay internships, pretty prestigious ones, but no pay - so I could not take them. I knew many people who took Hill internships for little or no pay, or at think-tanks. A lot of them eventually did well, but they had the money to endure on nearly no money for a year or two. This was a significant issue in Washington DC even 20+ years ago - I remember the late Mary McGrory discussing it with me vis-à-vis the Washington Post and journalism in general, and her view that it was having a huge impact on the Hill - that so many staffers got to jobs via unpaid internships that the Hill was skewing towards securely well off kids for both parties (she mentioned the impact on their outlook and views that lifelong financial security tended to have.) I know some Republicans (who skew liberal) who also regard this as an issue (they are on the verge of being kicked out of the party though.)

    I think there is a tendency though to forget that the legal profession when it was populated by, and especially when its leadership consisted of, White Protestant Men, when in New York you had the Catholic firm (Coudert) and the Jewish firm (Strook) and Jews and Catholics knew where to apply, women with JDs were offered secretarial positions (O'Connor) and blacks need not bother was an awful place and tolerated outrageous things - like a head of the ABA ethics committee (Drinker) who though that a lawyer participating in a lynching was only ethically marginal or debatable. The scary aspect of the rise of internships is that we could end up back there.

    1. interesting post...

      I think already things are changing in regards both law and business degrees, such that if you "know someone" or are "related to someone", then you get hired and if you don't "know someone", then the schooling was a waste.

      The problem as others have posted, is that Boomers who still watch MSM instead of researching the internet, still believe that college is an automatic ticket to the upper middle class, whcih for most majors it is not. And trying to communicate with most Boomers is just a waste of time, because they are so frigging brain-washed.

    2. So what yer sayin, dear mackie, is that you're a late b[l]oomer so we shouldna go blamin you for boomerishness?

      Izzat about it?

    3. No - but yes, but no, but yessss....

      Demographically the US Census defines the baby book as running from 1946 to 1964 - so I was born at the tail end.

      Culturally the baby boom is usually regarded as encompassing those who were in their teens and twenties in the 1960s. Leading edge boomers were born 1946-55, trailing edge 1956-64. Trailing edge boomers are therefore in their mid-40s to mid-50s, young enough to catch the impact of the leading edge, pre-pubescent or even infants during the summer of lurve.

      In the generational mix though it is probably better to look at the cultural influences on those born 1932-55. They were the generations that voted for the Proposition 13, for education cuts, etc. The so-called "greatest generation" were actually mostly born between 1918 and 1927, just in time to be 21 in 1939 and 18 in 1945 - it was their kids, mostly born between 1940 and 1955 in to a US of unprecedented financial security, or whose teenage years were spent under it, that formed the cultural baby boom and drove its economic impact.

      Anyway, you would not know enough about my background to know if I was in any way a cultural baby boomer - I was not for reasons I'm not going to get into.

  25. more good news:

  26. I can't imagine the toxicity of Judge Martinez' chambers when three clerks are working together and they all have the same exact expectations with respect to the quality of their work, but two are getting paid and have benefits while one is clerk is not paid at all for their services. Can the nonpaid clerk afford to go out to lunch, have drinks after work, do any of the socializing that people do when they first embark on their careers? If I were one of Judge Martinez' paid law clerks, I would feel absolutely horrible working with a nonpaid clerk.I would not know whether or not to invite the nonpaid clerk out as an invitation for after work drinks could be construed as emphasizing that I had a bit of disposable income while they do not.

    No, these nonpaid positions are and should be illegal under the FLSA. Judge Martinez just doesn't know it yet.

    As for the old boys' network, yes it's back. I just spoke with a good buddy of mine who is a partner at a firm of about 100+ lawyers. My company is a client of their firm and I was inquiring about the possibility of a summer clerking position for one of the law students I'm mentoring. He told me that his fir,like several other firms, have completely discontinued their summer clerkship program except on an ad hoc basis as a favor to a client. So it's now back to who you know.

    1. "I can't imagine the toxicity of Judge Martinez' chambers when three clerks are working together and they all have the same exact expectations with respect to the quality of their work, but two are getting paid and have benefits while one is clerk is not paid at all for their services. "

      When there are three workers side by side, and two are getting paid while one is free, it seems to me that there is considerable pressure to cut the pay of the two.

    2. There is no incentive to cut the salaries of the paid US District Court clerks because they are not working in an economy subject to market forces. The paid clerks are US government employees and will be paid according to a particular GS level.

      Now, you certainly are correct with respect to the nonpaid internships that law schools are busily trying to incorporate into their own curricula with the acceptance of willing law firms in an effort to have their graduates "practice ready" (and to cut their own cost for third year). If this cow/milk-for-free scenario becomes commonplace, then there will be little reason why law firms will pay for clerks, thereby further reducing income some students are receiving during their school years. Equally egregious are the "test drive our graduates for free" programs in which law schools pay their own unemployed graduates to work at a law firm. Both practices are against the letter and intent of the FSLA in that these practices will displace paid workers with free labor. Notwithstanding Judge Martinez' chambers, I believe that there are very few law firms that can tolerate the toxicity (and subsequent law suits) of having paid and nonpaid professional labor performing the exact same tasks and requiring the same supervision. Of course, law schools would stop this nonsense if "paid 2L summer clerkships" were a US News metric, as well it should be if we are forced to have US News rankings in any event.

      As an aside, there is no such thing as a "practice ready" law graduate, and certainly not one that is a product of US law schools.

    3. Good point about the budgeting, but:

      (a) That's short-term. If federal judges realize that they can work with half of the clerk payroll that they have now, how long will it be before they reallocate that money to more 'important' things, like remodeling their offices, or taking 'continuing education' in the Florida Keys in January?

      (b) If I were this judge and an SOB, I'd increase the internship program, having 3-4 interns. To become a paid clerk, you'd have to do a year as an unpaid intern. Note that with 3-4 interns, not all of them will get the paid job - this would incentivize them, so to speak. This would let me offload massive amounts of work, especially as the paid interns would be in their second year in my office, and so would be responsible for managing the first-year unpaid guys.

  27. Squonto was an Indian. And a very friendly American Indian.

    He taught the Americans how to plant corn which was called "maize" by Squanto and his friendly American Indians from the teepees etc. and blah blah.

    Today, we celebrate Squanto for doing the right thing and being friendly with the lost colony with something or other lost on a tree for meaning that was inscribed as "Coroatan"

    And we do subscribe, to a man, for an America that is willing to place people in debt for an entire adult lifetime with absolutely no consumer bankruptcy protections.

    In a sense it is like a very basic Magna Carta:

    "Magna Carta was the first document forced onto a King of England by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their privileges. It was preceded and directly influenced by the Charter of Liberties in 1100, in which King Henry I had specified particular areas wherein his powers would be limited.

    Despite its recognised importance, by the second half of the 19th century nearly all of its clauses had been repealed in their original form. Three clauses currently remain part of the law of England and Wales, however, and it is generally considered part of the uncodified constitution. Lord Denning described it as "the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot"

    1. The funny aspect of Magna Carta is that to a degree the feudal despots, i.e., the Barons, had forced it on the King in an effort to protected their despotic rights - it sort of backfired.

  28. What's up at Penn State?

    Sounds ominous.

    1. Dpn't they have a second campus or something?

    2. The Penn State problem is a problem that arises from internal Pennsylvania politics.

      Penn State wanted to absorb Dickinson and then got caught by the political impossibility of doing so.

      Ergo, two law schools.

  29. 4 all u effin whiners pickin on the boomahsNovember 21, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    I'm not a boomah but I only paid $30K for my LS education, and didn't borrow any of that, and I'm making ca. 300 large in a stable job.

    And I know plenty of boomer lawyers and younger-than-boomer lawyers alike who are struggling like crap to make ends meet.

    So go suck on that, all you young pricks who screed against boomers like they're somehow responsible for your personal failures.

    End Trans.

    1. There are few stable jobs in the legal profession. If you are in a big city, 300 would not be uncommon. See how long it lasts though. Everyone thinks they are a special snowflake. Some people are, but not as many as are in 300 jobs.

    2. Well, more accurately the guy's lying. $30K for law school *and* he's pulling down $300K? Those two numbers don't go together.

  30. Read Marc's paper, ya lemmings!

    Selected Quote: " Using this True Employment Percentage, I found that the ABA should have stopped accrediting law schools in the mid-1970's." (emphases added by current commenter)

  31. "So go suck on that"

    Just think how much income you lost on billables during the time it took you to write your self-applauding post...people really making 300 large usually focus on things like that...hmmm...

    1. Dude (or dud, if you prefer), I'm salaried. Figure that out.

    2. If you are salaried, you are even more at risk. The hallmark of the legal profession is that most salaried jobs do not last. They come to abrupt endings. There are lots of younguns coming out of tippy top law firms with clean tippy top school records. They look good, act good smell good. Much more so than some 45+ oldster. Good luck keeping your job with all of these 10 times more attractive young uns hovering around it. Is only a matter of time ......

  32. So glad I wrote about this idea, we are living in a new gilded age, months ago. Still, good to see the dissemination of truth.

  33. Terrific piece, LawProf. You've identified a real outrage and performed a public service by exposing Judge Martinez. Let's hope that the U.S. Labor Dept pays him a visit very soon. Unpaid internships and public sector "volunteer" jobs have got to go. It's time for the progressive community to shine a bright light on these exploitative practices and lobby the Obama administration (and certain members of Congress--Senator Elect Elizabeth Warren leaps instantly to mind) to make these abusive practices illegal.

  34. In all seriousness, there is much talk about leaving the US in order to escape student loan debt.

    Is that a topic worthy of an ILSS post?

    It is all so confusing. Some people swear that leaving is the only solution, and some advise against it.

    For example, one commenter above says it is risky and involves leaving one's support group and family.

    Other commenters on these blogs, in the past, have equated not leaving, to cowardice.

    And still others predict an economic collapse within the not too distant future that will take care of all of the woes of the student loan debtors more or less by default. (Maybe reason enough to leave the country for anyone, indebted or not)

    I wonder what things will be like in, say five years?

    2012 was to be the year of lawsuits against the law schools, and we all know how that has turned out.

    Where is all of this going?

    1. It's going no where but bitching on these message boards. Occupy Wall Street went home to their parents' basements. Foreclosures continue to crush families. Public school education continues to be dismantled. Walmart workers will show up on Black Friday. Elizabeth Warren will be outflanked and outvoted.

    2. Where do you think you might go? People just can't move to any country they feel like living in. There are employment problems all over the world, not just in the United States.

  35. One last remark:

    Last week, John Gambling was discussing this on his morning radio show:

    Like the reader that often mentions how much police or other civil servants make in salary, the amount that some public schoolteachers make is pretty impressive as well.

    And of course the school Superintendants make six figure incomes, such as the Syosset school super (Which Gambling highlighted)

    Something for a young person to think about when considering a career in law vs. other careers in civil service that require a lot less of an investment in time and money.

    1. Those high public sector state and local pensions are paid by the taxpayers. In the northeast retirees are selling their homes and moving so a warmer, cheaper state. The new owners of these houses are often in lower paid, highly unstable jobs and have to really scrape to make the monthly housing payment which includes the absurdly high tax bite. The continued payout of the high pensions is in serious doubt. The payout for future public sector retirees is even more doubt.

    2. TITCR. Even if you do not want to the manual labor route because youve been brainwashed to think its i) not prestigious, ii) hard to get, iii) too risky, etc, there are white collar muni jobs, which although not as politically protected as their blue collar counterparts, are still a much better bet than most professional alternatives. If you become a teacher and fail, your life isnt ruined. You will also be protected to some extent if you fail and to a large extent if you get the job.

      To the poster above who thinks these jobs are going anywhere, think again. Look at Chicago: in the worst recession since the 30s, the teachers- the highest paid in America- went on strike to force the taxpayers, whoare getting hammered in the private sector, to pay them even more.

      This is the way to go. Its not about trying to do something big; its about taking advantage of stereotypes and mediocrity to get paid.

      Whats that? First in your family to become an Engineer or Scientist and your job got outsourced? Fuck you, thats capitalism. Whats that? First in your family to become a doctor and 100k salary isnt good enough (after O-care kicks in), in light of your 300k of student loans and 15 years of post secondary education? Fuck you, you greedy entitled punk. Whats that, first in your family to become a lawyer, but you cant find work anywhere? Fuck you, lawyers are evik and you shoukd suffer for trying.

      Whats that? You barely finished high school and joined the force or you binge drank your way through college and got a BA in basketweeving (with no honors of any kind, as that coukd fuck you too)? You are a hardworking American that needs to be protected from the travesties of the world. Everyone else who is getting kicked in the teeth owes you a living in your profession of choice. Vote the right way and get fucking paid.

      My advice: go medicore and muni or go broke.


    See the 0Ls still think that they can get biglaw or just go to a rural area and set up shop from a retiring person or get a non- legal job or get biglaw and then get an LRAP

    We still have a long way to go in convincing people not to go to law school. So many people think it is the path to a great and stable future.

    1. Is our children learning?

    2. Lol. That comment is a major part of that thread.

  37. AnonymousNovember 21, 2012 10:40 PM

    "Everything isn't better in Europe.

    Housing can be poor-quality and scarce in large cities, the absurd price of petrol raises the cost of everything, and the societies are stagnant with little social mobility."

    The last is incorrect, unless you're talking about the UK; the rest of Europe does better than the USA in terms of social mobility.

    1. More complicated again. Housing is expensive in Paris, Brussels and if you can get it Berlin, Zürich, Geneva. The price of fuel is less of an issue since relatively few people commute by car and European vehicles get much better mileage. On the other hand, trains are so expensive in London that employers actually lend their employees the money to buy their season tickets (the so called season ticket loan.)

      The big problem in Europe is that where economies are relatively dynamic the cost of living tends to be high and housing very hard to find. In a lot of European countries - say France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece - the recommendation or reference (the infamous recomandazione) is the key to whether you get hired or not. So when you look at a French leftwing student demo, the kids at the front, socialist party princes and princesses all ... the kids at the back - from the banlieu.

    2. Sure housing is high in major cities in Europe, but we have that exact same problem in our major cities: New York, Boston, D.C., San Francisco, etc. But if you're able to get a job in a mid-sized city like Bordeaux or Poitiers, your housing options will be affordable. The problem is getting a job in the first place.

    3. There have been localised housing shortages around France - current estimates are that 10 million French people are affected by a lack of appropriate housing and that problem is nationwide - 3 to 3.5 million have no or very bad accommodation. Housing cost as a function of income has been on steady upward trend for 30 years and the cost of housing is not problematic for even middle class people.

      While it is true that rents per m2 in major cities like Bordeaux, Lyons etc. are half those of Paris they are still very high in comparison to disposable incomes. The issue in France has reached the stage of being described as a national housing crisis.

  38. Sorry to interrupt the pity party, but this is very simple: If you don't want to work for free, don't take the job. Duh.

    1. The problem is that this means not working at all because there are few paying legal jobs and almost all of those require experience.

      So the choice is to either work for free to gain experience to hopefully get a paying legal job or abandon law.

  39. Did Hacker Group Anonymous Stop Karl Rove from Hijacking Election?

  40. Neologism for the "Pay as you Earn" law school funding scam: "Scam tithe" or "School tithe"

    "Scam Tithe" or "School Tithe" n. - The 10 percent of your income that you pay to Uncle Sam for a period of 20 years, and for which Uncle Sam expects you to say "Thank You" without regard for the market distortion caused by said sovereign that led to a rapid inflation in tuition prices and that placed education out of reach of all but the wealthiest absent the government-backed indenture.

    E.g., "In just two decades, I'll be done with my scam tithe. I wonder what law school will cost then."

  41. Don't forget the "Loan Forgiveness Tithe" that you will have to then pay after the two decades.

  42. In the final analysis, maybe a better frame of reference and attitude is all it takes, and maybe the assumption that says that 1 Trillion dollars of American Student Loan Debt is a big problem is not really a big deal at all?

    Maybe that sum is a retrievable and easily handled and dealt with sum and situation with the help of sound macroeconimic planning?

    So there is really nothing to worry about. right?

  43. ^^^ Awful spelling. But maybe I really am talking about "Microeconomic" since 1 trillion dollars is not all that much money in the whole scheme of things.

    So what is a six figure SL debt for an individual in the big picture? Not much and hardly anything to cry about?

  44. The cost of legal services is alread zero- it does not get lower if a family needs a lawyer. Pangea 3 does not need to go to India to hire low cost lawyers. They can hire lawyers for 2 cents a day from T14 schools, even with lots of experience because of the oversupply. The only restriction is whether this is legal, and in states where there is a professional exemption from the minimum wage my understanding is that 2 cents a day would be lawful pay for lawyers. In New York City, or working remotely from home, Pangea 3 could get a few hundred thousand lawyers to work for 2 cents a day to "get their foot in the door." That is the mess the ABA created. So lets keep them in charge of the accreditation process and not limit law school class sizes. This is equal opportunity to work for much less than minimum wage in the legal profession with a "prestigious degree" no matter what a person'ss sex, race, economic background or national origin.

  45. Please help…. we need to get more signatures on the White House Corruption Petition.

    We need NATIONAL exposure to the corruption in and about our system of justice !!

    Please register and sign the petition, and pass it along to your contacts !!


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  46. What this blog needs to do is to demand that a new government appointed agency be put in charge of setting the number of law schools and places, studying supply and demand in the legal profession and balancing the two. The mandate should be to not waste taxpayer funds on education that produces lawyers that society does not need and cannot use and are spending a lifetime drowning in educational debt they cannot repay. The mandate has to be to study the market for both experienced and first year lawyers and to require law schools to publish experienced data the way they publish 9 month data now in setting demand. The members of the legal profession have suffered extreme hardship because of the evil trickery of law schools flooding the market with new grads. It is time to close many law schools and to force T14s, even the mighty Columbia, NYU, as well as Fordham in NY for example, to vastly reduce the ranks of students they graduate each year, with similar reductions all over the United States. Right now, there are so many unemployed experienced grads, that the number of new grads should be in the 10,000 to 12,000 range nationally. This really involves taking the ABA out of the equation and doing so promptly. The ABA is an organization whose members have conflicted interests. Their legal education function is staffed with part time volunteers, who have no mandate in legal education other than not to consider demand for legal services or jobs but to accredit for accreditation's sake and never limit the number of law school places.

    Let's stop complaining and start working towards a concrete solution. The number of places in law schools needs to go down to less than 15,000 a year to work off the surplus of licensed lawyers over a period of the next 25 years.

    1. the answer is never more government. less government is better - get out of student loan business

  47. If every person in the world (about 7 billion people) paid 142 bucks each, they could pay off one trillion dollars of student loan debt.

    This is a really interesting video:

    Someone once told me that I am not looking at the forest, and that the scamblogs are just a very small part of a much, much bigger economic problem.

  48. If one person spent a million dollars a day, for the last 2012 years, a trillion dollars would not have been spent by now.

    The world has not had a trillionaire........yet.

  49. So for people who think that the word has gotten out, some posts from TLS from the past day:

    a. A kid who applied to Washington because he has always wanted to move to Seattle and this seems like a good reason. This is the best school he applied to.

    b. A kid who has always wanted to be a lawyer but has been accepted to a management training program at one of the best auto companies in the world. He doesn't know if he should take it or go to the T14 he was accepted to. He seems to assume that he will make more if he goes into biglaw.
    Part of his post:
    The pay starting out would be significantly less than Biglaw, but the quality of life is excellent and the potential for serious career upside exists, albeit with less predictability than perhaps lockstep Biglaw mobility.

    I've always wanted to be a lawyer, and finally have the opportunity to attend a dream school for nearly free. From those who are on the other side of choosing law school and also Biglaw, what would you advise? All comments welcome. Thanks in advance.

    c. A kid who has a good consulting job but doesn't like it and wants to give it up for law school. Lawprof posted in that thread. He likens the kid going to law school to the kid mailing himself a letter bomb.
    Kid wonders if it matters if he would only go if he got into Michigan, Virginia or Penn.

    d. A kid counsels a TLS poster not to listen to all the negative posts about law because all the people posting on TLS are just trying to limit the competition. (guess that kid hasn't even heard of lawprof, sorry lawprof; also there are many 3Ls and grads on TLS, that kid is just not paying attention.)
    This is in response to an African American working woman who has a low GPA in finance, she was asking if she should go to law school.

    e. A guy asks for what work in law has the least hours. Responses vary, but he gets some implied criticism for not wanting to gun for partner. LOL

    f. Lawprof posts a link to his salon article that is the sbuject of this piece. Some 0Ls flock to explain why working for this judge for free is not a bad gig.

    tl;dr: Clueless 0Ls remain clueless. Continue to ignore evidence of the risk of law school and find reasons to discount the advice they are given.

    1. I don't feel bad for post-2008 entrants. Too dumb for words. They will get flamed when they enter practice.

    2. The only way to get reform is for the government to stop funding law school.

      Information will not stop stupid decision making. If it would, there would be no heroin addiction in this country and no one would buy cigarettes. Is there really some asshole in this country who doesn't know heroin will ruin many lives and that cigarettes can cause cancer? No, of course not. But people make bad decisions notwithstanding the facts. The only thing the onlookers can do is to lobby the government to stop subsidizing this stupid behavior and raise the costs of doing so.

      So too with law school. Stop guaranteeing loans. And, if you do go and take out loans, make sure that they will not be discharged after 20 years or 25 years. My loans are dischargeable. So fuck you newbie!

    3. It does take a certain kind of stupid to read Paul Campos telling you that you might as well mail yourself a time bomb, and then respond asking if going to MVP would make it any different.

      I do feel sorry for some of these kids though. They are for the most part willing to work hard to get ahead. They are just so brainwashed by the past years of lies that they aren't able to grasp reality yet.

    4. Sorry it was mail yourself a letter bomb.

    5. I thought the same thing when I read it. It reminded me of Office Space. "But what if you were offered some kind of a stock option equity sharing program. Would that do anything for you?"

      A law professor tells him that the choice he's making is akin to suicide, and that there's a 95% chance that he'll be far worse off than he presently is, and that his reasons for considering law school do not even include wanting to practice law . . . and this clown asks a follow up.

      "Well, would your decision change if I went to MVP and saved a little money first?"

      Lambs to the law school slaughter. "Give me your bored, your entitled, your arrogant, your special snowflakes yearning to be exploited."

    6. The retard that Campos warned deserves what he gets. Here's his response:

      1) True, but honestly 50% seems like a very reasonable percentage to bet on. Most biz majors going in to recruiting have much worse odds than that when it came to getting consulting or banking gigs.

      2) I don't work at a typical consulting firm and the work we do typically does not encourage us to get MBAs; I believe maybe only one of our group's senior leadership actually has an MBA. The pay is not significantly different in this industry for Consultants who do have MBAs.

      3) Will it really take 5 years of Big Law to pay off 100K debt? I have some money saved up and can get some family assistance along with hopefully some smaller grants. If I'm in a situation where I actually have to incur 150-200K debt to go to law school, that will most likely be a dealbreaker.

      I think ultimately another factor that has to come into play is that my current job is not very prestigious (i.e. people have no idea what I do when I tell them) and has little variation in earning potential down the line. Although with in-house at the end of the day I will be making roughly the same, it is my understanding that you have the opportunity for much greater compensation if you can move into the legal department of larger corporations.

      There you go. This 22 year old's entry level, but very good, job isn't "prestigious" enough for him. Wow. Just wow.

      I hope this fool ends up living in a van down by the river.

    7. Here is some more. He wants to go to law school FOR THE MONEY WHEN HE ALREADY HAS A GOOD JOB THAT HE CAN MAKE $250,000 at max. He doesn't want to be a lawyer. He is honestly wanting to quit his job and go to law school so he can make more money.

      I just don't get it.

      5) I'm not planning on quitting and applying right away. I will definitely stay at my job for at least another year (if for nothing except to keep my signing bonus haha), and then see where I am again. However, I think financial motivation is central to so many decisions that you can't discount somebody's decision to become a lawyer simply because he doesn't care for the practice of law. TBH I am one of the unlucky few (or many?) who doesn't have any real direction in terms of what I want to do career-wise. I would love to play professional sports or become a famous writer, but I haven't got the talent for either. To that end, I think the best choice is to really chase the best compensation to lifestyle trade-off ratio.

    8. Then there is the TLS thread by the 1Ls who are motivating themselves and working 12 -14 hour days to study for exams because they don't want to be median. I really think they do not understand the harsh reality of the curve. But some of them may benefit from all this work, and as they are in school they might as well work hard, I guess.

      They have a slogan: Can't stop, won't stop and spent time deciding what to do on Thanksgiving. One kid wants to move home to study because his girlfriend is getting tired of being ignored. Another kid, his parents dropped off food from Thanksgiving so he could study all day. Someone else has done more than 100 practice short answer questions.

      It is like watching a slow motion train wreck. But I can't look away.

    9. More from the same guy who ignores law prof.

      His take away is:
      No, my mind is not made up. Not completely anyways. I want people to find a severe flaw in my reasoning so I don't end up making a mistake. However, if the flaw is "it's a 50/50 shot you'll do well or you'll end up with a manageable sized debt," then I'm not sure that is enough to dissuade me.

    10. He's precisely the right sort of person for law school. Allow me to recommend Cooley.

    11. I just want to know what company he works for, so I can avoid their advice.

      The guy's an idiot.

  50. Deer Jhhuuddge Mhurtteienetze:

    I whuuld lhiike thuu uppluhy four thuh puhsitushion uff frree whurrkur thuu be payed nuthung fhur thue 1 yeer four huu.

    Beecuse it is ghuuud to. Ahhnd when I am finishetd I whill haave uh braan upurashtion tuu mahke me uh schullor off thuh luh to be pruhstegus ahnd thank uh you in advance.


  51. Here is an interesting ad from the Long Island Craigslist. It seems like a placement agency for "paralegal" jobs. Said agency trying to place out of work, though experienced, lawyers in paralegal jobs?



    Date: 2012-11-24, 9:55AM EST
    Reply to this post[Errors when replying to ads?]


    We are a full service Paralegal Office with former attorneys having 40 plus years of experience. Our personnel have trial experience in both civil and criminal matters.
    They have specialized in Real Estate transactions and Litigation including Foreclosure Defense, Mortgage Modification work, Leases, Corporate law, Criminal law, Franchising, Commercial Transactions and Leasing, Buying and Selling of Business, Stockholder Agreements and LLC's, all phases of Matrimonial and Family Law, Wills, Estate and Trusts, Probate and Administration, Non for Profit Corporations and Collections.
    Our paralegals will work on a reasonable hourly, per diem or a flat rate basis.

    Contact: Bered Consulting Group LTD. at 516-458-9262

    1. Attys with 40 years of civil and criminal trial experience are offering to work as paras for a flat rate. Wow!

      Law students are too damn stupid to really appreciate what this means. Flat rate lawyering sucks. Flat rate paralegaling. This profession is dooooomed!

  52. ^^40 years means combined experience I suspect. In other words, it could be 10 lawyers with 4 years experience each. Or 4 lawyers with 10 each.

    No harm in that I guess. But yeah, Craigslist is very telling if one wants to look for legal services.

    The now seemingly defunct blog called: "Shit Law Jobs" used to find similar job postings and highlight them.

  53. If I had a nickel for every posting that I saw for a paralegal position that also said: "No JD's" or "JD's need not apply"

    I would be rich.

  54. I agree that this arrangement is probably illegal. An eligible applicant should file complaints with the appropriate authorities.

    Next thing we know, these "internships" will be sold to the highest bidder. That has already been happening in the legal so-called profession. "A week at leading international law firm Herbert Smith, sitting with an associate solicitor and taking part in 'real client work', was billed as 'arguably a great opportunity'. It sold for £1,150." ( At Oxford, students had to pay for a ticket to a lavish ball—"an exercise in self-righteous self-aggrandisement by a self proclaimed self-obsessed social elite"—in order to have the opportunity to bid on various internships in law, including one with a barrister; the director of this "charitable" event responded to criticism with a snooty "That's life" (

    And of course there's good old-timey nepotism. "HSBC does not have a structured work experience programme although, occasionally, arrangements are made for sons and daughters of HSBC executives, particularly if they work in the Legal or Compliance departments" (

  55. The judge's offer sounds like an LLM program that is actually useful, both in educating the individual and in helping him get a job, and is free. It is much, much better than all of the other non-tax LLM programs offered by law schools.

    I also think its ridiculous to attack the judge for not offering a salary since the salaries for clerks are de minimus anyway.

    1. Dude, think for a second before you type. When a student is enrolled in an LLM program, he or she can get loans for cost of living. When a graduate takes part in a free internship, he or she must starve and live on the street. Do you see the difference? Do I have to explain it more clearly for you?

    2. And as pointed out, the requirements for the paid positions are the same as for the 'educational opportunity'.


    $40,000 is not de minimus. De minimus would be the judge paying for lunch, parking, and mileage fees. There are a lot of families in the United States earning less then $40K a year.

    1. And the spelling is de minimis.

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