Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

Tears for Tiers

with 20 comments

Total Black: $3,163.08
Total Red: $270,855.95

Having a job that does not require weekend hours leaves me with much more free time than I’ve had in years.  That free time has freed me to read a few of the other blogs out there that chronicle the current state of the legal profession.  A few have included this blog on their blogroll.  Aside: I never instituted a blogroll.  I noted back in Fiftieth Post that I wasn’t much of a blog-reader.  Tides are turning a bit. 

I must note at the outset that I do not understand the source of this explosion of bickering and bile among blogging law school graduates.  I say “graduates” intentionally in case a few are not yet licensed lawyers.  I question whether prior economic downturns triggered such vitriol.  Were bankers as bitter about business school in 1939?  Did an onslaught of letters to the engineering journal editor surface after the 1970s Oil Crisis (and resulting recession), decrying their tactics of luring prospective engineering graduates?  What about doctors?  Have they had a “worst period” in history and did residents reach back to budding medical students to issue dire warnings?  Because the number of blogs that have mushroomed, stretching their electronic arms to barricade the law school doors, seems a bit unprecedented.  Yes, I use that word intentionally.

The essential amino acids in this legal double-helix include the U.S. News & World Report’s annual law school rankings, the Great Recession, and a healthy stew of unemployed and laid-off lawyers.  Resistance to law school ranking, and U.S. News’s tiered system in particular, has percolated for some time.  Professor David C. Yamada of Suffolk University Law School penned a law review article back in 1997 titled “Same Old, Same Old: Law School Rankings and the Affirmation of Hierarchy.”  On page 260 of volume 31 of the Suffolk University Law Review, Yamada cautioned that

It is tempting to dismiss the various law school rankings in their entirety by claiming that such inherently subjective evaluations are little more than beauty contests. This, however, would be a mistake. Qualitative differences between schools do exist, and to some extent, the reputational data and comparative statistics used in some of these rankings can help to identify a school’s strengths and weaknesses.  The rankings also serve as a reality check on a school’s self-image.  For example, a school that thinks of itself as a “national law school” may need to revisit that belief if it consistently ranks low in the surveys of practitioners and academicians that are factored into the U.S. News rankings. . . .  Nevertheless, I bristle at the way in which law school rankings convey an artificial sense of precision, much as I have problems with class rankings for students. They attempt to transform that which is inherently subjective into something that appears to be objective and quasi-scientific. In doing so, they encourage us to think simplistically about our institutions of higher learning.  The very practice of ranking schools reinforces the notion of an educational caste system.

So, if criticism of law school rankings has been around for some time now, why is it only recently that this deluge of disgust for law school has erupted?  A perfect storm of sorts?  The bloggers seem to have as their goal the elimination of a number of law schools and the gutting of probably two full tiers of law schools.  In a comment to his post The Law School Gamble — Playing With Loaded Dice, Nando, from Third Tier Reality, wrote of the purpose of his blogging:

Job prospects are pretty dismal.  If you look at my blogroll, you will see people who excelled at TTTTs and got nothing but a lousy degree.  You will also see some who went to T14 schools, worked in Biglaw, and are now working doc review.  Look at the comments also.  You will see people who worked their asses off, and were left holding large, non-dischargeable debt – with little chance of paying it back.  The law schools put out fabricated statistics – with the intent of attracting more applicants and students.  What would you call that?  Integrity?! . . . .  We are simply trying to warn prospective law students not to make this poor decision.  The reality of the situation is this: if you are not seriously connected or independently wealthy, then law school is indeed a serious gamble.  The house wins, as the law schools get paid up front – with federal tax dollars, no less.

For those unfamiliar with the blogging jargon of this field, TTT refers to “third tier toilet” but encompasses both third and fourth tiers—the “left-overs” after the top 100 are ranked by U.S. News & World Report.  Another blogger, Frank the Underemployed Professional, of Fuster Clucked, claims in a recent post that only 53% of lawyers are employed.  Clearly people are upset.  Understandably so.  But why go the way of raging against the law school machine?  Even a First-Tier graduate, Knut, entered the fray with his blog, First Tier Toilet, aligning himself in solidarity with his Third Tier colleagues in calling for their demise.

Do not discount what all of us are saying.  You might think that we’re just a few embittered grads and attorneys, but I should remind you that most of those who struggle are not likely to go public about it.  I remember how long it took for my (mostly) unemployed/underemployed friends to open up and talk about what’s going on.  It starts slowly as a “Jesus, Mike, you too?” And before you know it you discover that almost all of your (academically gifted) friends have not found employment. . . .

Things are tough in the top schools, but finding a job from a lower-ranked school is a Sisyphean task. . . .  The recent grads are out there with us but are shoved under the rug lest they be insulted and degraded by insidious education industry propagandists, well-meaning Boomers, and true believer 0Ls. . . .

The schools have pocketed their $150,000 and now disclaim all responsibility. “Don’t you know that you are not entitled to a job?” How do those who make the money off these students live with themselves?  How can they justify the costs and the deception? It is fortunate for them that we have no national student’s movement like those that exist and thrive in most developed countries, because if we did we would surely resist this nonsense with everything we have.  The administrators and faculty are parasites who feed on the American Dream. The pessimists and realists will not apply to law school. It is those who believe in the possibility of academic achievement and career advancement who attend, as well as those who believe that they can make a difference for society.  The students, are discarded and forgotten after a few years (many never make a living practicing law), while the industry maintains a happy face for the public.  Paying $150,000 to NOT earn a decent job in your field is imbecilic. Publishing laughable employment numbers and NOT having the bar, the government, or the media insist on transparency is unacceptable.  Attending a “third tier toilet” after learning and believing what the “scambloggers” are saying is folly.  Sheer folly.

We must hold these institutions accountable.  I stand in complete solidarity with those who were deceived by these schools and bilked out of a good deal of money.

No, it would not harm our country if all these schools were shut down tomorrow. “Let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

Pretty bombastic.  And a bit distasteful.  All respect due Knut, of course.  I echo his frustrations.  I just find it somewhat unsettling when someone coming from privilege rails against those who are not. Graduation from Yale Law School, even if ranked last in your class, is still graduation from Yale and not from Widener Law School, for example.  So if I heard a Harvard grad advocating for the shut down of Howard, for example, it unnerves me.  Howard too is, after all, also ranked on the third tier.  And Knut did say “all these schools.”  He should know that absolutes are almost never appropriate.

The beef of the bloggers appears to be, in a nutshell, that graduation from law school doesn’t lead to employment and that law schools promised—either implicitly or explicitly—that it would.  Another blogger, Angel, in a post Law School: Don’t Do It to her blog But I Did Everything Right! made that argument herself.

So, I was stupid and uninformed and I went to law school.   But thank God, I wasn’t the only idiot to make that mistake.  Some people think that God gives us all a mission in life.  I definitely have one.  I have a duty to tell all naive students not to go to Law School.

Let me break it down for you.  People think Lawyers make money.  People hate lawyers, they respect Lawyers.  Whatever your feelings may be.. whether you think they are intellectuals, bloodsuckers, scam artists, ambulance chasers, or crooks…. you probably assume they make money.  WRONG!  My school, let’s call it, Princeton School of Law, promised that the average salary of a lawyer graduating from law school was $70K.  That sounded like a lot of money to me at the time.  I thought I could count on earning at least $70K.  That’s not what happened.   What happens is that a shitload of people earn $40 or $50K, a few people earn (at the time I graduated), $125K and this somehow averages to $70K.  This was before “The Crash.”  So things have only gotten worse.  Ha.  Lawyers graduating in May 2009 would be dancing for joy if they found a job earning $50K.

I don’t understand the uproar though.  I suppose there are many—and I guess the bloggers are proof—who did opt for law school out of a desire to make money.  And if you’re one of those, then you may very well feel duped.  Even though I attended a third tier law school, and worked as a summer associate and then later as an associate at two large New York law firms, I can say that I did not seek out law school as a means to a financial end.  That’s obvious by looking at total red and total black above.  Those numbers should be inverted; law school and employment in BigLaw sent my numbers in the opposite direction.  I ended up at large law firms because the law school machinery took over and sent me off in that direction.  I learned that BigLaw equals success and the necessary stamp of approval on one’s resume.  Prior to my second year of law school I couldn’t have named any law firm.  Now I can probably rattle off a list of about sixty.

What’s my point?  I don’t believe that law school is truly the beef of these bloggers.  If jobs were abundant and they all were employed, they wouldn’t be blogging about the alleged misreporting of law schools on their ranking stats.  Instead it’s the combination of the economic downturn, the prior, steady elevation of BigLaw associate salaries, a classist tier system, and many unemployed or laid-off lawyers that has now led to this employment conundrum and the targeting of law schools, including those that are vulnerable like many on the third and fourth tiers.

I was unemployed for nearly a year and then sought refuge in contract attorney work.  Any port in a storm.  So I understand the anger and frustration of my fellow bloggers.  And I do not intend any disrespect.  We can disagree without being disagreeable.  But I’m also a product of a purported third tier school and I understand the anger and frustration aimed at law rankings, an entity that—I believe—is more responsible perpetrator in this fight.

What this economic disaster seems to be laying bare is the cracks in the system.  We may have too many law schools.  Perhaps too many lawyers.  But the fundamental assumption of the American Dream is that I can become anything I want if I only apply myself.  For some of us it may take longer or another form.  But if we start slashing the number of law schools we just end up reinforcing the hierarchy Professor Yamada warned against.  Reduction of law schools is not the answer.  It’s no panacea.  Nor is frightening prospective law schools about of the cost of law school and this being the “worst time in history to be graduating from law school,” according to post by Ashby Jones on the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog.  In 2010 nearly any graduate program is going to come with a hefty price tag.

There’s got to be another way forward.

20 Responses

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  1. May surprise you to learn that I went to a third tier school as well, and after two years of unemployment, I’d love to be able to get a document review position. I will default on my loans in about 13 days or something, with no possible employment in sight. Nothing. Not even non-legal. People are complaining because they don’t have the benefit of a few years of work experience, and they’re left with literally nothing at all to do to earn money.

    TTT

    July 20, 2010 at 01:11

  2. I think you’re right to the extent that the scambloggers are frustrated with the system as a whole, particularly the market and the hiring attitudes at law firms. However, I think they are somewhat justifiably angry with law schools on account of their practices, especially their allocation of resources towards students at the top of the class and what appears to be a tone deaf response to the plight of numerous graduates. There are some histrionics, certainly, but I think it’s accurate to say that schools take little to no interest in their graduates after the last check has been cashed, and that this is a bad thing for students and the profession in the long run.

    Bouard

    July 20, 2010 at 08:12

  3. and many of the scambloggers don’t have wealthy family to fund their vacation in the Virgin Islands.

    anon

    July 20, 2010 at 09:25

  4. @anon: Umm . . . yeah . . . you must be referring to some other law clerk down here. My mother has mortgaged her home via a line of credit to help build a bridge from laid-off associate to whatever comes next. We’re solid middle class, maybe a bit above-average since my father worked his entire life as a janitor and died prematurely from cancer caused by cigarette smoking, leaving my mother with a decent pension. No riches here. Luckily I’m not easily offended. Word to the wise as you make your way: probably best to verify whether your attempted jab is accurate lest you injure instead of insult.

    @TTT: I’m really sorry to hear about your circumstance. One focus of this blog was to chronicle my efforts—legal and non-legal. I feel your pain. You’re right that this rug has been pulled before people even got their second foot on it. The only thing that comes to mind is working non-legal for income and doing pro bono legal work to gain experience. Like I mentioned above: ANY port in a storm. And this one seems to be a category 5 for the legal profession. I doubt I could help, but if at all, let me know.

    @Bouard: I just don’t see the justification for anger at law schools. The first question is whether it’s accurate to “blame” law schools for not doing more to help graduates find jobs. I don’t remember my college caring a lick about what I did upon graduation. No career services department called me in for a meeting. I guess something existed if I needed to use it, but it wasn’t this top-down approach. It might be smart, frankly, to bring students in and force them to think about next steps and where income will come from, whether graduate school is a good idea for their industry, etc. So, what I’m saying is that I don’t know if law schools are any different. On-campus interviewing has become its own beast, fueled by large law firms. But not only. JAGs recruit via OCI as do other government agencies. Non-profits just don’t work that way. They tend to not even look at hiring until later in the spring semester. That’s not the career services department’s or law school’s fault. And many non-profits and other do-gooder agencies aren’t hiring now because donations and charitable giving are down, coupled with free labor from law firm cast-aways.

    I think it’s a larger concern than 1TT or 2TT or 3TT or 4TT. Law schools can’t create jobs. Yes, they can report accurate numbers. But if first tier schools like Harvard or Yale can “hire” people to work in their law library—or something else equally asinine—and thereby inflate their hiring numbers for law school ranking purposes, then you cannot expect any less of a third tier school. Goose and gander, right?

    I suppose then my gripe with “scambloggers” as you’ve dubbed them is the oversimplification of the problem. And—dare I lean right instead of left—the need for law students to open their eyes. Maybe you can claim to have been “duped” into accepting a TTT offer but after a year has gone by, or even less, you’re aware of the hierarchy of the profession and everything comes with it. So pick yourself up by those bootstraps and do everything you can to make yourself the best lawyer you can be. Example: a guy I summered with went to Pace Law School. Ultimately he graduated as valedictorian but while in law school he interned for Sotomayor. That TTT alum has got a helluva rolodex now should he need it. And, last I checked, he’s damn near the only one left at the law firm from my summer associate class.

    Where’s the hunger? The drive? The dedication? Or even the creativity in trying to figure a way out? I was laid-off way before the law firms hit upon the idea of deferring people, whether permanently or not. I would have loved to have been given a $60K salary and worked for the Brooklyn DA’s office, for example, instead of a pink slip and a $30K severance. But I wasn’t that fortunate. Instead I worked for the DA’s office for free while I rode out that severance and my mother’s generosity. That dried up and so I studied for the PA bar exam. While awaiting the results, I finally inched my way into the contract attorney field and worked that for nearly a year, while selling art, taking drugs for money, and then ushering off-Broadway plays. If more leads panned out, I would’ve followed them. And now I’m clerking for a judge. But maybe it wouldn’t have gone this way. Maybe instead I wouldn’t have gotten temp work and instead had to move back to Scranton to live with my mother. And then? I would’ve had to find something paying—probably nights and weekends—while doing free legal work during the day. Like a 1L summer all over again.

    I’m veering too far afield into the bootstrap land. I don’t want to sound like a (gasp) Republican bemoaning crack ho’ lawyers. But I just don’t think this entire load should be laid at the law school door.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    July 20, 2010 at 11:05

  5. When the number of lawyers increase, the amount of dreck to makes a court appearance increases just to keep billables sufficent to make the attorney, staff salaries and firm overhead. Imagine a world where the dreck was never filed or quickly settled over drinks. BC (before Clooney) and all the T3-T4 mills it happened.

    set me up

    July 20, 2010 at 14:26

  6. Most of these self-labeled “scam bloggers” sound like a bunch of entitled whiners.

    It is true that the employment market is bad, but as you mentioned, nobody would be saying a thing if the economy was doing well and “they got theirs.”

    As an example, you should check and see when most of these blogs were started…usually it is no more than a few days from graduation! So they began to bitch because they didn’t have something WAITING FOR THEM.

    T

    T-Bag

    July 20, 2010 at 15:41

  7. I’m not arguing that schools need to find their graduates jobs. The gripe is that schools downplay the difficulties that face most of their graduates. I think that we should consider law schools apart from UG on account of the goals of professional school and the law in particular. I do think students need to open their eyes as well, and the scambloggers assist in that by giving their own accounts. Frankly, I think at the beggining of orientation, the law schools should bust out the bimodal salary chart and explain the game entirely. I think this would force people to think about what they’re signing up for and whether or not they should cut their losses. He’ll, I think we should get back to the days of cutting out the bottom third of each class after 1L. That’s a better solution to stocking administations and libraries with unemployable students.

    And don’t play the bootstrap card. If it wasn’t for your mother, you would’ve starved a long time ago, and you certainly wouldn’t have had the means to take the job you have now. Don’t be so quick to associate your own “success” with wanting or working harder than anyone else. I have a clerkship that I enjoy and hopefully will afford me greater opportunities in the future. However, just because I “got mine” doesn’t make those who didn’t wrong or lazy.

    Bouard

    July 20, 2010 at 16:54

  8. Isn’t there some reasonable expectation of a job after spending $150K? There was a time when my law school posted (in a fit of hyperbole, I imagine) on its website that students shouldn’t be so uptight – after all everyone gets a job. I’ve seen attorneys do all the ‘bootstrapping’ that you mention, and just not have enough money to get together to pay their usurious loans, much less eek out a living. If school were free, I could see no expectation of ROI, but at these prices?

    foleydog

    July 20, 2010 at 19:46

  9. @Bouard: I agree that law schools may downplay difficulties. But isn’t that a broader American problem. We’ll bend over backward to highlight the one example of success and turn a blind-eye to the ten failures off to the side. As for “bootstrapping,” I chided myself for sounding too bootstrappy, so your rebuke is unwarranted. I don’t deny my mother has helped, nor would I hide it. I’m proud of her and my family for doing it—unlike many “Americans” who would behave otherwise. I didn’t need my mother’s assistance from roughly October 2008 until January 2009 or so because I was riding out the severance package. I did need her help however nearly much of the way through 2009 because I was unemployed until August 2009. And even afterward because the temp job I got at the end of 2009 paid jack and capped our hours at 40 per week. But once my final contact attorney position came through in 2010 and working at the theatre, I coasted on my own. And her help was really for “big ticket” items like IRS debt, rent, or this transition. But I’m also not going to hoist all my successes on to her shoulders alone. My mother was a bridge between “laid-off land” and “doc review dungeon.” And, as noted, she also helped get me here. But in 2010 once momentum kicked in, I pretty much kept myself afloat. Isn’t that the point of help after all? To get someone to the point where they make it on their own again?

    To your last point about working harder—I’m not saying that everyone should work harder. I don’t know what everyone’s situation is. TTT mentioned above that she (assumed gender) has no options: no legal or even non-legal leads. Scolding her for not “working harder” at job-hunting will really backfire and work to demoralize her spirit instead. I know. I was there. Instead, however, my words were aimed at the princesses (and yeah . . . some princes) who act put-upon and victimized. I ran into a few colleagues after the layoffs who told me they were flying to Costa Rica and just chillin’ waiting for things to pick up. Almost two years on and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were bitching about no opportunities. I was hauling my broke ass back from the DA’s office while she was flying around the world. Fine. Just don’t bitch later. Not saying she did. But the point is that we can’t just sit back and wait for things to improve. Anyone remember Notes from the Breadline?

    @foleydog: I don’t think any amount of money would lead to an expectation of a job. That seems a flawed approach; what if I spent only $149K? No expectation? And if I spent $300K I should get a mega job? The problem is that the industry thinks it’s merit based. And it is. Somewhat. But 70% probably is hierarchical. If you don’t have either top grades or top tiers, then you are hustling. I had one, maybe both if you upgrade Howard, and was one of those attorneys doing everything and still not making ends meet. My federal loans are in deferment. I can’t afford another $500 payment a month on $90K in federal student loans; I’m already paying the $25K in private loans because they can’t really be deferred.

    But whether there’s an “expectation” of a job after spending all that money? Bouard argues that we must compare grad schools to grad schools and not to colleges (though my point was just that career counseling isn’t really something Americans do well—start to finish). Fine then. Have you seen MAs in Philosophy scrambling for a job? I have. I attended, in 2002, the American Philosophy Association’s annual convention. Not pretty to see recent grads scrambling for interviews. Imagine competing against all law students nationwide at one conference. And you had to get yourself there to get a job. Not a lot of open positions each year teaching Philosophy either. What about MSWs? Or MA/MS in Psychology? Do they too have an expectation of a job? Many have to continue on to a PhD before they can “expect” a job. Engineers are a bit more analogous perhaps, but only because we’re still somewhat more “trade” than “scholastic.” And we’re still stuck in limbo. Somehow the legal profession adopted this view—whence I’m uncertain—that jobs are a right not a privilege. As much as we want to put on airs, we’re still a trade profession. When I got admitted to the Southern District of New York in 2007 another admittee had become licensed because he apprenticed for five years. He never went to law school. And now we seem to be moving in a direction more akin to telemarketers and less entrepreneurs or scholars. Dial-a-lawyer will probably become more common than skilled legal “surgeons.”

    But one other aspect of this discussion that bugs me is that it is centered around corporate law. Not just BigLaw but MidLaw and SmallLaw too. None of the bloggers are bitching that they didn’t get that $40K DA job. No one’s complaining that she didn’t that $100K US DOJ job. No one’s claims to be upset about not getting into the ACLU. It’s about law firms, laid-off lawyers, and TTT law students’ inability to even have had the opportunity to get laid-off from them. Many DA’s offices around the country don’t care where your degree is from. Here at the court many of my co-clerks graduated from schools I’ve never heard of. And they’re quite smart, quite insightful, and very hard-working. I’m told as well that its only in the Eastern Corridor that any of this tier crap matters.

    Anyone else tired of the Tyranny of the Tier?

    Laid-off Lawyer

    July 20, 2010 at 20:30

  10. Your experiences are with biglaw. I took another route. Although I had offers from biglaw, I took a job with a government agency. I wanted the immediate satisfaction of handling my own cases. I am grateful that I am still employed. However, this was supposed to be one stop on the road to something else. Given the current job market, I do not see myself leaving. In addition, the atmosphere at my angency has become, to a certain extent, a reflection of big law. Managers recognize that the market is tough, and take full advantage. For example, recently an incredibly talented and experienced colleague voiced his interest regarding an internal position that he was more than qualified to fill. A manager came to him and said that in any other environment, he would be a top candidate. However, they feel that with the current market, they should explore other options, including attorneys with firm experience. For each opening at the agency, there are hundreds, and at some agencies, thousands, of applicants. There is, although illegal, now a certain expectation that the face time and long hours of biglaw are met at the agency. During the last two weeks I have put in at least 40-45 hours of my own time. There is a certain element of fear…make waves and management can make your life miserable. It is difficult. And yet, each day, on my way to my job, I repeat the mantra, “I am so grateful to be employed.” Have to pay off those student loans, you know!

    another side

    July 20, 2010 at 22:11

  11. Thanks for that comment. What you highlight is something I hoped others would point out, namely that large law firms aren’t the only option out there. But with plenty of large law firm associates now unleashed, they are, in fact, flooding other markets. The Brooklyn DA’s office didn’t really have a 2009 class because of all the droves of incoming free labor. That I find to be irresponsible.

    That’s another factor to add to the plethora of factors scambloggers are overlooking. Non-profits, NGOs, local and state governments—even the federal judiciary—all scrambled to get free labor. In this economy the scramble should been to get pay for that labor. Not pigs at a trough, gobbling up free slop.

    I think the industry may be imploding! Government acting like BigLaw with face time now? BigLaw should have collapsed under its own weight. Now instead, like a cancer, all those associates are permeating other practice areas and spreading BigLaw culture. Crazy. Just nuts.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    July 20, 2010 at 22:20

  12. This post was even more amusing than usual. You really do live in a world with little resemblance to the one inhabited by the rest of humankind. I’m trying to decide which comment was funnier:

    1. “If you don’t have either top grades or top tiers, then you are hustling. I had one, maybe both if you upgrade Howard.” Yes, Howard is top tier if you upgrade it the same way Emmanuel Lewis is tall if you put him on top of an elephant.

    2. “But in 2010 once momentum kicked in, I pretty much kept myself afloat.” I’m sure that’s exactly what your mother was thinking a few weeks ago as she dipped into her retirement fund to write you another check.

    With the obligatory jabs at LL out of the way, I will say that while I feel bad for anybody who is in debt and struggling to find employment, I don’t understand people who spend $150K on a TTT school. If you’re going to pay top-shelf money, you damn well better get a top-shelf name on your resume to show for it. If you’re going to have a mediocre-or-worse name on your resume, you can get that for a hell of a lot less than $150K at any number of state law schools. I don’t understand the decision to pay Porsche prices for a Chevette. If you’re going to spend enough to buy a Porsche, you should make sure you’re driving home in a Porsche. If you’re going to end up in a Chevette, you should only pay a Chevette price. You’ll likely have a lemon on your hands, but at least the purchase will not have crippled you financially and there’s always the small chance you’ll get lucky and it’ll run great and last for years.

    Blade

    July 21, 2010 at 00:36

  13. You don’t get to jab at something I acknowledged already. I acknowledged my mother’s assistance in 2010. My point was that I didn’t have to lean on her this year—like for food and other basic assistance—as I did in 2009.

    As for Howard, I’m not entering that discussion here. Suffice it to say, Howard will not be higher up on the ranking lists until U.S. News stops use classist factors like amount of donations, number of books in libraries, etc. If Howard upgraded it’s minimum GPA for entry it would probably end up eliminating many of the people it was set-up to help excel. We still have disparities in education in the United States after all, particularly when it comes to race. Yes, not all X are Y. I acknowledge that. But affirmative action was instituted for a reason: because of disparities in treatment, access, etc. The reality is, however, that Howard Law grads are in the same places as Harvard law grads: associates at law firms, judiciary, executive, and legislative branches, partners in BigLaw, etc. You can’t say that for many of it’s “colleagues” on Tier 3.

    Good analogy re: Porsche and Chevrolet. I wasn’t addressing costs of law school but rather the accuracy of anger placed at the law school door for not getting grads jobs and for not explaining the joblessness of grads to incoming law students.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    July 21, 2010 at 05:58

  14. For the record, there has been tons of bitching re: government and small law jobs on the scamblogs. Most of them talk about the frustrations of landing ANY legal employment. I think you’re guilty of pigeonholing to the same extent they are. Between budget cuts and the hordes of deferred and laid off flooding the market, there is much more facing the market.

    You also misread my argument. I did not say we should compare law schools to grad school. I think law school is its own unique animal because of the role of lawyers in society and the obligations we have to the courts and the public. Yes, we are a service profession, but we are held to a higher level by virtue of our calling then others. Engineers and philosophers are not bound by professional rules mandating their honesty and candor.

    All I’m saying is that law schools should be required to adopt the same principles they teach and expect of attorneys.

    Bouard

    July 21, 2010 at 08:17

  15. I challenge anyone to come up with an industry, a salesperson, etc. that DOES NOT make their “product” sound rosy in order to sell it.

    Do people really expect the admissions folks at law schools (or any other school) to chase people out of the office saying it’s a bad investment?

    C’mon people…any transaction requires both sides to do their due diligence, and that CERTAINLY amounts to more than just reading the salespersons brochure about their own product!

    T

    T-Bag

    July 21, 2010 at 08:25

  16. T-Bag: you beat me to it. And all the better someone else is saying it.

    I agree that law schools might play a bit of a shell game with their graduates’ stats. That it’s not fair is a fair point. But on the flip side, no one in their right mind who atteds a 3TT or 4TT school, particularly one that’s not on the East Coast, can reasonably expect to get into Cravath or Shearman or Wachtell, for example. Sure, it can happen. But not that often and not so often that other law students can expect to repeat that path.

    So what then are they expecting? Law school is a contract after all. The offer is education not employment. You accept by enrolling. And it’s expensive. Whether it should be, and how much it should cost, is a separate argument. But if you agree to go to law school you agree to pay the tuition. There’s no offer and acceptance as to a job.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    July 21, 2010 at 09:36

  17. I call on everybody who reads this blog to donate one book to Howard’s law library so that the school can take its rightful place among the top 10, since that’s apparently what’s holding it back. If you attend Harvard/Yale/Stanford, you can provide twice the support by taking a book from one of those libraries and sending it to Howard, thus strengthening Howard while simultaneously weakening its “colleagues” at the top of the rankings. (If you attend those schools, kindly send your LSAT scores for Howard’s use, as well, along with the book. Actually, you can keep the book. Just send the LSAT score. Thanks in advance.)

    Blade

    July 21, 2010 at 09:50

  18. Don’t believe me? Click here to see the critera.

    Yes, the total amount of library resources is a negligible amount. But so too—unbelievably—is bar passage. Whether your law students become laywers counts only for 2% of the total ranking. Two percent! Whereas fifteen percent includes Expenditures Per Student, Student/Faculty Ratio, and Library Resources. 15% devoted solely to finances, what U.S. News innocuously dubs “Faculty Resources.”

    Buying books and other materials for libraries costs money. Paying top notch faculties costs money. Endowments cost money. Reducing the teacher-student ratio costs money: either reduced income with fewer students or increased costs with hiring more professors. With billions in reserves it no wonder Harvard and Yale fight for the top spot each year. But just look at the critera for ranking. It’s dripping with wealth-based analysis. Not exclusively. But significantly. And many minority groups have historically been on the “wrong” side of economic equations.

    Why we even care about these rankings? They’re utterly pointless. And that article I cited above from Yamada says they only started in the 1990s. Not like they’ve been around for many moons.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    July 21, 2010 at 10:07

  19. I’ve read the scam bloggs and I feel disheartened for these people. I understand why they would be pissed off spending circa $150k and upwards on an education that doesnt pay for itself.

    People believe that the law schools owe them some sort of duty of care akin to loco parentis, ie school/teacher/parent. I think the shock has come when they have realised that the reality.

    Dreamer

    July 22, 2010 at 05:48

  20. The funniest thing about all this: Third Tier Reality and First Tier Toilet both dropped me from their Blog Rolls. Really? I mean . . . really? Someone disagrees with an aspect of your approach so you boot ’em. So silly. So petty.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    July 27, 2010 at 21:49


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