Saturday, December 3, 2011

November 2011

Legal hiring grew by 100 jobs in November. Sure, the industry lost 3,100 jobs year over year, but look at the bright side: Without the burst of hiring, it would have lost 3,200 jobs. Get your seat deposit in! Woot!

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t17.htm

Not seasonally adjustedNovember20101,116,400
September20111,108,800
October20111,113,700
November20111,114,500-1,900
Seasonally adjustedNovember20101,116,100
September20111,112,500
October20111,112,900
November20111,113,000-3,100
Change from October 11-November 11100

Sunday, November 27, 2011

OcTTTober 2011

Cripe! How hard is it to write a lousy blog post every so often, especially when it's mostly reformatted data?

Followers of the legal "profession" will be delighted to learn that hiring grew in October, as hundreds of newly-barred TLS posters launched their career in sports and entertainment law. The ABA plans to commemorate this recession turning point by accrediting another two dozen law schools.

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t17.htm

Not seasonally adjustedOctober20101,116,300
August20111,118,200
September20111,109,100
October20111,113,800-2,500
Seasonally adjustedOctober20101,115,900
August20111,113,700
September20111,112,500
October20111,112,900-3,000
Change from September 11-October 11400

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Be on Tee Vee

From a JDU post:


Volunteer needed for CBS Evening News segment

I'm working with a producer at the CBS Evening News to put together a segment on the employment and debt crisis among recent law school grads. We need someone who:

  1. Is a recent law school grad
  2. Has a large amount of law school debt (at least six figures)
  3. Is either unemployed or seriously underemployed
  4. Is struggling economically as a result
  5. Is articulate, and comfortable with the idea of being on camera

Ideally, this person will have gone to law school for reasons that would resonate sympathetically with a general audience, i.e., not because he or she was confident a law degree was going to make them rich. Also, this person should have relied on misleading employment statistics when deciding to go to law school and to incur large amounts of debt in order to do so. Having a family (spouse, and or child/children) is also a plus. It would be helpful if the person was either fairly close to the New York City area, or in the Denver metro area.

If you would like to participate, please email me ASAP at paul.campos@colorado.edu. Thanks in advance.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

SepTTTember

The legal industry lost about 0.3% year over year. This compares mostly unfavorably with other "professional and business services," particularly since it's the only one that shed jobs in September. Anecdotally, I hear that the number of jobs in Space Law remained unchanged.

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t17.htm

Not seasonally adjustedSeptember20101,112,700
July20111,125,000
August20111,118,300
September20111,109,500(3,200)
Seasonally adjustedSeptember20101,115,700
July20111,113,800
August20111,113,500
September20111,112,200(3,500)
Change from August 11-September 11(1,300)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

RenTTTals

I don't normally focus on debt, other than I'm averse to it. Paid cash for my last couple of cars (late model pre-owned, tyvm) and my apartment. I do have a HELOC, at a quarter-point below Prime, that I use as a rainy day fund; I'm gradually paying off a storm a couple years back.

Many other bloggers have written knowledgeably and articulately about student loan debt, particularly law school debt. Sometimes apocalyptically. Sometimes bemoaning their own lot. Sometimes cursing the ABA and law schools. I didn't think I had anything to add, so I've stayed clear of it.

I recently saw this cheery article on real estate rentals. For the TL;DR folks, the author believes the real estate market is going to be in the crapper for 20 years, based on demographics, and that the likely solution will be rehabbing property to be rented. Admittedly, not much new insight, but here's the part that makes the student debt issue hit home.

"The group that's 25 to 29 ... they're deciding not to buy, or they're not as ready to buy or are less able to buy than previous cohorts were in that age group," she said.

The 30-34 age group is the most worrisome to her because those in this group are prime homebuying age -- and are the most likely to be underwater, Russell said. From 2004-10 the homeownership rate of householders in this group fell more than any other -- and it's still falling. In the second quarter, it slipped below 50 percent for only the second time since the (federal) data series began in the early 1990s, Russell said.

The big bogeyman for both of these prime homebuying groups, she said, is student debt.

"About 35 percent of people under 35 have student debt -- that's huge," she said. "I think the average debt load is about $23,000 among debtors. If you have student loans and a car loan, it's going to be hard to take on mortgage debt.

"And it's a number that's going up," she said. "You'd think there would be a turnaround" with people unable to afford to go to school in this economy.

"But people seem so frantic to get a college degree that it hasn't turned around yet," she said.

Rather than think about the people I know who are underwater, it's easier to enumerate the people who aren't underwater. The lucky souls who aren't are still stuck with their homes because there are either no qualified buyers or a surfeit of adjacent homes for sale. Sometimes, both. I know people ranging from roughly 30 to 82 who wish they could sell, but can't. In my own vicinity, the NYC metropolitan area, I believe foreigners will eventually take up the slack. Unfortunately, this won't do much for people in Indiana.

Hindsight is a beautiful thing; however, I don't think that when the gummint began handing out education loans like candy, that it also understood Johnny won't be able to buy Darla's starter home, and Darla in turn won't be able to able to buy Grandma's house to raise her growing family. As of September 2011, it's looking like a lost couple of decades for every age group.

Friday, September 2, 2011

August 2011 legal employmenTTT

Having published this table, there isn't much else that needs to be said. There is no growth in the U.S. legal industry. If anything, I'd guess that even if headcount remains static, the payroll is shrinking as associates are replaced with staff attorneys and temps. From the Wall Street Journal:
Meanwhile, unemployed lawyers now find themselves in the country's most cutthroat race for a job, with less than one opening for every 100 working attorneys.
The only good news of late is that the message is sinking in and law school applications are down considerably.

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t17.htm

Not seasonally adjustedAugust20101,117,800
June20111,121,600
July20111,124,700
August20111,118,700900
Seasonally adjustedAugust20101,113,800
June20111,109,700
July20111,113,800
August20111,113,900100
Change from July 11-August 11100

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cooley heading for #1!!!!!!

Hearts throughout this great nation were set aflutter today by the news that Thomas M. Cooley Law School received ABA approval to open a new campus in the Tampa Bay area. While some had questioned whether the satellite campus could surmount the ABA's rigorous, grueling accreditation protocols, happily it did, and will begin offering evening classes to its well-qualified student body May 2012.

Presently home to just one law school, Stetson, the booming area legal market has been clamoring for more graduates. Until now, the deficit had been partly satisfied by importing Cooley graduates from the school's home base in Michigan, often by G5. Indeed Cooley, whose motto is "The spirit of the law is in the human heart (Lex Corde)," would be doing a public disservice had it not reached out.

Those who follow law school rankings have been astonished by Cooley's unbroken rise in Judging the Law Schools, the industry bible. By most criteria, Cooley is the #1 school in the country. In overall rank, until now it has come in #2, a hair behind a well-known Massachusetts institution. Eschewing meaningless statistics, which many law schools intentionally misreport, anyway, the Cooley rankings focus on items intrinsic to the law school experience, such as Part Time Faculty and Library Total Square Footage. With its new facilities and additional faculty, Cooley is destined for #1.

http://www.cooley.edu/newsevents/2011/080811_cooley_opens_tampa_campus.html

August 8, 2011

Thomas M. Cooley Law School to Open New Campus in Tampa Bay

The Thomas M. Cooley Law School announced today that the American Bar Association's (ABA) Council on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar accepted the recommendation of the Accreditation Committee to acquiesce in the Thomas M. Cooley Law School’s application to open a Tampa Bay-area campus in Riverview, Florida. The Tampa Bay campus has also been approved by the Higher Learning Commission and the Florida Department of Education, Commission for Independent Education.

The Tampa Bay campus will begin offering evening classes in May 2012, followed by morning classes in September 2012, and afternoon classes in January 2013. The implementation will follow the same pattern as at the School's other campuses, rolling out the standard curriculum over a three-year period. All Cooley students will be eligible to attend classes at the Tampa Bay campus.

Tampa Bay comprises a little over 4,000,000 residents, but is home to only one law school. Florida represents Cooley's largest alumni location outside Michigan, and Florida provides about 6% of our applicants and 5% of our incoming students each year. The School also has an active externship program in the state.

In addition to its large alumni base of 886 graduates throughout Florida, Cooley has had a growing presence in the Tampa Bay area through its Service to Soldiers: Legal Assistance Referral Program, which recently expanded to Florida in January. The ABA's Military Pro Bono Project and the Hillsborough County Bar Association joined together with Cooley to offer a complimentary training program aimed at preparing local attorneys to represent members of the military in legal issues ranging from child custody concerns to housing rental disputes.

Cooley, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) Michigan educational corporation, has acquired a 130,000 square-foot facility in Riverview, comparable in size to its current campus in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Renovations and staffing details are expected to be finalized in the coming weeks. The facility will accommodate the approximately 700 students who are expected to attend.

Professor Jeffrey L. Martlew, a former Michigan circuit court judge, has been designated as the Associate Dean for the Tampa Bay campus. Associate Dean Martlew explained that the new campus in Tampa Bay will cater to an underserved sector of law students, particularly part-time students and minority populations, but will provide Cooley’s full-time program as well.

Cooley Law School is the largest law school in the nation. Founded in 1972, the private, non-profit law school operates J.D. programs across Michigan in Lansing, Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor. Today, Cooley Law School has more than 15,000 graduates across the nation and worldwide and also offers joint degree and master of laws programs. Cooley offers enrollment three times a year; in January, May and September. Additional information about Cooley can be found at cooley.edu.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The legal "profession," now with 0.36 percent more presTTTige!

I'm still around, though not as active as I'd like to be. In a related matter, so is the legal "profession." BLS released statistics yesterday showing a gain of 4,000 legal jobs in the month of July. There was a year-over-year gain of 3,400 legal jobs (in the U.S.).

In and of itself, this isn't a bad showing compared to other industries. The problem is, what happened to the roughly 50,000 people who graduated from ABA and CBA schools in the interim? Did they merely replace lawyers who upped and died? Are they all clerking for the 2nd, 9th, and D.C. Circuits? Getting LLMs in Space Law? Rooting for Scott Bullock's permaban from TLS (more on that in another post one day)?

Seriously, I've previously asked where are all the lemmings going? There is no room for them in the "profession." With a net gain of essentially zero jobs, the only way in is if someone else leaves and is replaced. Realistically, what you're going to see is both graduates of non-elite schools fighting over scraps and a compensation race-to-the-bottom. You can't network your way into jobs that don't exist, and can't hang out a shingle to serve an unmet need that doesn't exist.

I've said it before, 0Ls and 1Ls: Get out now. Pride is good, but the legal "profession" is fucked and you will be, too.


http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t17.htm

Not seasonally adjusted July 2010 1,123,700
May 2011 1,109,500
June 2011 1,121,800
July 2011 1,124,900 1,200
Seasonally adjusted July 2010 1,111,200
May 2011 1,113,500
June 2011 1,110,600
July 2011 1,114,600 3,400
Change from June 11-July 11 4,000

Monday, July 11, 2011

Couple of anecdotes

I was going to post these links separately, but read the articles' comments and figured they tied together.

First, imagine a world where prestige (note spelling) counted for little and Podunk schools no one ever heard of had among the highest pass rates on licensing exams. That would be the accounting profession (note lack of quote marks).

There is a brief article in Going Concern about Austin Community College. This school, which has no ABA analogue, punches above its weight on the CPA exam. The comments describe accounting as a vocation and the exam something that can be passed simply by studying hard enough. Once you pass, no one cares where you went to school. Sounds something like law -- and there were several comments comparing them -- except everyone cares where you went to law school. Very deeply.

That brings me to my next article. Wall Street Journal, which is further ahead of the curve in legal matters than any other widely-read publication, just wrote about schools' belated effort to revamp their programs to make them more relevant. Project management, problem solving, negotiation skills, etc. are "in." The Socratic method is "out." But, as I've repeatedly written, Yale or fail. That's the difference between Austin Community College and Chapman. At the end of the day, each will probably prepare you to pass an exam, except one will launch you into your career and the other will launch you into doc review, if you're lucky. It doesn't matter whether the Socratic method, space law, and international law are "in" or "out." Only where you went to school.

The Journal hits the nail squarely on the head.
But many remain skeptical that new approaches to education will have a meaningful impact on the ability of lawyers to land jobs. "It could enhance the reputation of the law school...as places that will produce new lawyers who have practical skills," says Timothy Lloyd, a partner at Hogan Lovells and chair of its recruiting committee. "As to the particular student when I'm interviewing them? It doesn't make much of a difference."

Other recruiters say schools that have overhauled programs need to do a better job of promoting the changes to employers in order to see an impact. Until then, law school prestige will remain a big factor, says Bruce MacEwen, a law firm consultant and blogger who tracks the legal industry.

"Firms are very obsessed with prestige," he says. "That's just a fact of life."
The Journal neglected to mention the surfeit of experienced lawyers available for a pittance. You're not only not getting into BigLaw, but also not going to impress anyone in shitlaw with your clinic experience. Unless, of course, you're willing to work for free.

Not sure what accounting's future holds, but as for law, the irony is clear: The more prestige obsessed firms become, the less prestigious the profession becomes.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The votes are in

I put a survey up two weeks ago after reading Knut's post on First Tier Toilet! lamenting going to law school as the "stupidest thing I have ever done." Frankly, I didn't get enough responses to be statistically valid, but I'll note that five out of six TPLP readers agree.

All I can personally say is that I graduated going on two decades ago, from a school that had a decent regional reputation, and am still mad. The feeling subsided maybe five years out as I moved on with my life, but returned with a vengeance in recent years and grates on me every day. I hope every reader for whom law school didn't work out is eventually able to leave it behind with no ill effect.

To the four people who voted "No," what is worse than law school? Going on the sex offender list? The PhD in Korean pottery? Guessing wildly wrong on the world ending last month?

Also, there are no doubt people for whom law school was a roaring success, but they're too busy #Winning to be reading this blog.

Monday, June 27, 2011

10 gallons of lawyers in a 5-gallon haTTT

This is from the Economic Modeling Specialists Inc.. I know I'm preaching to the choir, but would be remiss if I didn't post it.

The short story is that a firm calculated the number of bar exam passers versus the estimated number of annual lawyer job openings. New York produces about 7,700 lawyers more per year than the state needs. Nationwide, the total is over 27,000, which includes non-ABA schools. To this, New Jersey and Massachusetts add the unhappy combination of low compensation and high COL.

The stats are actually wrong because Wisconsin doesn't require bar passage if you graduate from a Wisconsin school, and you can waive into DC. Nebraska is hopelessly insular, and in any event I sincerely doubt there's a lawyer shortage there.

So, lemmings, head for Brooklyn Law, Chapman, and Rutgers now! And, ABA, keep up the good work!

2010-15 Est. Annual Openings 2009 Bar Exam Passers 2009 Completers (IPEDS) Surplus/
Shortage
Median Wages
New York 2,100 9,787 4,771 7,687 $56.57
California 3,307 6,258 5,042 2,951 $50.61
New Jersey 844 3,037 787 2,193 $43.84
Illinois 1,394 3,073 2,166 1,679 $51.54
Massachusetts 715 2,165 2,520 1,450 $43.89
Pennsylvania 869 1,943 1,697 1,074 $46.05
Texas 2,155 3,052 2,402 897 $41.55
Florida 2,027 2,782 2,781 755 $36.39
Maryland 560 1,277 548 717 $41.46
Missouri 362 943 908 581 $39.96
Connecticut 316 880 510 564 $43.69
North Carolina 503 1,032 279 529 $37.79
Minnesota 378 888 948 510 $43.69
Ohio 686 1,194 1,513 508 $34.69
Georgia 779 1,217 894 438 $46.11
Colorado 547 967 509 420 $40.83
Virginia 956 1,375 1,435 419 $49.34
Louisiana 357 731 810 374 $33.35
Tennessee 389 735 446 346 $37.34
Washington 619 935 678 316 $37.37
Oregon 291 594 519 303 $34.51
Indiana 339 602 825 263 $32.48
South Carolina 262 506 410 244 $33.03
Kentucky 261 478 389 217 $34.39
Nevada 219 392 143 173 $40.32
Arizona 440 607 378 167 $37.51
New Mexico 134 298 114 164 $29.78
Michigan 862 1,024 1,993 162 $35.22
Kansas 190 351 296 161 $31.16
Alabama 295 455 406 160 $37.98
Iowa 155 290 556 135 $32.16
Rhode Island 102 209 184 107 $39.65
Hawaii 76 179 88 103 $33.70
Mississippi 173 268 335 95 $28.86
Utah 308 401 283 93 $37.04
W. Virginia 100 191 152 91 $32.51
Montana 81 163 83 82 $24.96
Maine 75 153 91 78 $29.70
Arkansas 152 227 243 75 $30.83
Wyoming 40 113 80 73 $29.86
New Hampshire 92 154 146 62 $30.84
Oklahoma 326 387 489 61 $29.56
South Dakota 38 83 73 45 $29.19
North Dakota 33 63 80 30 $28.78
Idaho 128 157 97 29 $30.77
Alaska 41 66 0 25 $37.80
Delaware 116 141 235 25 $60.67
Vermont 51 55 191 4 $30.48
Nebraska 112 109 279 -3 $32.47
Wisconsin 262 248 691 -14 $36.43
D.C. 618 273 2,109 -345 $70.96
Nation 26,239 53,508 44,159 27,269 $44.22

Friday, June 24, 2011

Still here

Have had overwhelming work and personal obligations of late. Matter of fact, I'm typing this from work. 9:09 p.m. Friday evening. Life is good.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wall Street Journal article on lawyer TTTemp jobs

The WSJ just did an article on the rise of Contract/Temp attorneys (I initially put attorney in quotes and then removed them). It's behind a paywall but accessible if you come in through Google News. Interestingly, the WSJ put contract in quotes. Whatever.

There's nothing new here to anyone who reads scamblogs, particularly Tom the Temp. In fact, the WSJ was itself probably the first mainstream publication to call attention to the scam, with its landmark Hard Case: Job Market Wanes for U.S. Lawyers in September 2007. That article immortalized Scott Bullock of Big Debt, Small Law and should have been sufficient to knock sense into anyone considering law school. Should have been.

The piece features a 37-year-old American U grad and describes his life as a coder. Dickensian working conditions, $50K annual compensation, lengthy unemployment, and assignments that end abruptly. The WSJ quotes NALP in saying that 10% of private practice jobs graduates accepted last year were temporary. Paul Campos, who I commented on here, would beg to differ on the 10%. Further, he notes that NALP itself collects data on but does not publish distinctions between permanent and temporary work.

The change to temporary attorneys is driven by cost-conscious clients of marquee law firms who probably resented paying for green associates in the first place. The Journal is a bit behind the times in not mentioning offshoring, onshoring to U.S. backwaters, or technology that will dispense with law grads altogether, but on the whole it's a respectable effort that accurately portrays a segment of the presTTTigious legal "profession" circa 2011.

Speaking of Bullock, I'm about 99% certain that he is the poster areyouinsane in the TLS thread http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=157855 no doubt inspired by the WSJ article. Writing style and anecdotes are identical; not many people begin their sentences with "You see,". He's apparently moving to Turkey. Naturally, the TLS rocket scientists suspect he's a flame, even as they content themselves in the knowledge that this temporary attorney nastiness only happens to "other" people.

Monday, June 13, 2011

La Verne denied. Shirley inconsolable

Hat tip to Nando of Third Tier Reality for the news that the ABA denied this toilet's full accreditation and withdrew provisional accreditation. J-Dog of Restoring Dignity to the Law has also written about the school several times.

My understanding is this used to be a serviceable CBA-approved school that sought ABA approval and the massive tuition that comes with it.

http://law.laverne.edu/press-releases/aba-denies-la-verne-law-application-for-full-approval

Media Advisory

Jun 13, 2011
Contact:
Deniene Husted
deniene_husted@andrewwilkinllc.com
(714) 423-9753

ABA Denies La Verne Law Application for Full Approval

Law school remains committed to ensuring the best opportunities for its students.

ONTARIO, Calif., June 13, 2011 – The American Bar Association has denied the University of La Verne College of Law’s application for full approval and withdrawn its provisional status, officials announced on Monday.

The announcement came shortly after law school officials received the news in a telephone call from the ABA. While detailed findings are not yet available, the ABA Council’s overall opinion was that the law school’s first-time bar pass rate, which jumped from 34 percent in 2009 to 53 percent in 2010, had not sufficiently improved.

“We are deeply disappointed, but not defeated,” said La Verne Law Dean Allen Easley. “Once we receive the council’s formal announcement, we will review the findings and take action accordingly. It remains our ultimate mission to provide the very best law school education and experience possible to our students.”

Law school officials plan this week to seek an expedited timeline to regain provisional approval from the ABA, and will proceed immediately with the steps necessary to gain California Bar approval.

La Verne Law was the only ABA-approved law school (provisional or otherwise) in inland Southern California, having received provisional approval from the association in February, 2006. The law school remains accredited through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges under the University of La Verne.

“The University will continue in its commitment to achieve ABA approval for the College of Law,” said University of La Verne President Steve Morgan, who retires this month. “It is our belief that our region needs an ABA-accredited school to best serve the long-term needs of the Inland Valley region. It is our desire that the University of La Verne College of Law will be that school. Our resolve is as strong as ever and we will focus on the ABA concerns and move forward with our quest. President-Select Devorah Lieberman shares that commitment and I know she will carry forth these efforts with the same level of passion and determination.”

Lieberman, who assumes the leadership role of the University of La Verne on July 1, shared Morgan’s resolve.

“The College of Law’s mandate to provide our students with the highest quality legal education aligned with the mission of the University of La Verne is laudable, and we will continue in that pursuit,” Lieberman said. “I look forward to maintaining our strong commitment to these goals and helping to design strategic initiatives that result in full American Bar Association approval.”

The ABA announcement comes at a time when the region remains significantly underrepresented by legal professionals compared to neighboring metropolitan areas. Currently, inland Southern California’s attorney-to-resident ratio is one for every 840 people, compared to Los Angeles County at one to every 217; Orange County at one to every 223; and San Diego County at one to every 232. San Bernardino and Riverside county courts continue to report a severe shortage of judicial officers to serve the region’s growing population.

# #

About the University of La Verne College of Law

The University of La Verne College of Law serves a region of more than 3.8 million people in inland Southern California. It is part of the University of La Verne, which is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Established in 1970, La Verne Law has produced generations of law professionals educated on standards of ethics and service to the community. For more information, visit law.laverne.edu.

About the University of La Verne: The University of La Verne, a regionally accredited, non-profit institution, holds the distinction of being annually rated as One of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report and Forbes Magazine. U.S. News also recently named La Verne as one of the most popular Tier 1 universities in the nation, measured by percentage of accepted versus enrolled students. Further, In April 2011, La Verne ranked No. 1 among all national universities in achieving the highest actual versus predicted graduation rate (Postsecondary Education Opportunity).

# # #


A thing of beauty

http://subprimejd.blogspot.com/2011/06/message-to-those-who-read-these.html

Friday, June 10, 2011

Even Uncle Sam thinks the ABA sucks

I cribbed the following from TaxProf.

The ABA drew intense scrutiny on Thursday from a federal panel that reviews accrediting agencies. The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, which advises the U.S. education secretary on accreditation issues, used a meeting here to review the applications of 10 accrediting agencies to be recognized by the federal government. ...

Of the 10 agencies being reviewed on Wednesday and Thursday, all were recommended for continued recognition. ... But several members of the committee expressed reservations about approving that status for the ABA, which was found to be out of compliance with 17 regulations, including the need to consider student-loan default rates in assessing programs; to solicit and consider public comments; and to set a standard for job placement by its member institutions.

Arthur E. Keiser, chancellor of the Keiser Collegiate System, said that an accrediting agency would not accredit an institution with 17 outstanding issues. "There is a real concern that this agency doesn't get it," he said. Anne D. Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, was one of three committee members who opposed the motion to continue the bar association's recognition, saying that she had no confidence it would be in compliance within a year.

Representatives of the association assured the committee that the changes recommended by the department were already in the process of being carried out and would be completed in time.

The bar association also got a negative review from a group of legal faculty members, the Clinical Legal Education Association, which accused the ABA of considering changes in its standards that would "strip important protections of academic freedom and faculty-governance rights ... by eliminating tenure and security of position for deans and faculty members," according to written comments submitted by the faculty group.

Faculty members at 65 law schools as well as a half-dozen faculty associations have voiced opposition to the proposed changes, said Jennifer M. Roberts, an associate professor of law at American University and a board member of the legal-education association. ...

In the end, a majority on the federal advisory committee voted to continue the bar association's recognition, but expressed frustration that they could not take stronger actions or at least state their concerns with stronger language.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dear Bloggers, Blawgers, and Scambloggers

Within the last month, the authors of both The Jobless Juris Doctor and Shilling Me Softly ended their blogs. SMS removed the blog altogether; it no longer resolves. JJD deleted all but a farewell post.

Do me everyone a favor: If you put it out there, leave it out there. It costs you nothing while benefiting legions now and in the future. I was a long-time reader of the blogs mentioned and thought enough of them to have them in my blog roll. I also now have posts with broken links to those blogs' posts.

Scott Bullock set an unfortunate example with his untimely, unnecessary, dramatic demise of Big Debt, Small Law. If your blog is worth reading and has been around long enough, people have it cached somewhere. You'll never get rid of it. Meanwhile, you'll deny a dose of reality to newbies sorely in need of one.

Every time a blogger publicly calls it quits, the Valvoline Dean and his counterparts exchange metaphorical high fives. Unless you need to take your blog down for financial reasons — all babies must eat — leave it up and just walk away.

Monday, June 6, 2011

All those lemmings have to be going somewhere

BLS just released employment statistics. The legal services industry shrank by 2,700 jobs between May 2010 and 2011. Meanwhile, another 44,000 lemmings graduated.

AmLaw Daily speculates some will find jobs ... with onshoring firms. I'm posting about two recent NY Times articles one of these days, but the gist is that most openings require experience.

You 0Ls and 1Ls ought to cut your losses and bail. As for upperclassmen, you're going to have a latte competition. Enjoy IBR.

P.S.: The BLS has previously revised law employment downward after reviewing figures, and there's no guarantee May 2011 won't end up even worse than reported.

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.htm

Not seasonally adjusted May 2010 1,109,500
Mar 2011 1,108,000
Apr 2011 1,106,700
May 2011 1,106,600 -2,900
Seasonally adjusted May 2010 1,113,100
Mar 2011 1,112,100
Apr 2011 1,111,400
May 2011 1,110,400 -2,700
Change from: Apr 2011-May 2011 -1,000

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Be Handsome. Be Attractive II

Thanks, Anna Alaburda! All I did was stick a cropped law school photo on the blog and traffic went through the roof. Half the surfeit originates from a comment on ATL about her appearance and the balance from people Googling some variant of "Anna Alaburda pic." I'm resisting the urge to salt this post with salacious keywords so I can retire early ... my resolve is failing.

Let me be frank: I find Ms. Alaburda attractive. One of my first thoughts was back to Allison Cantor and how she effortlessly got biglaw while Alaburda is doing doc review. I conceived a hypothetical conversation between Alaburda and Cantor but decided that the contrasts in background, alma maters, and geography rendered the different outcomes inevitable despite the superficial personal similarities.

Basically, the premium for being attractive in sunny San Diego is either small or nil, and not enough to offset a degree from a toilet in a small market. I suspect the penalty for being unaTTTractive is high. The converse is likely true in the Nutmeg State.

Cantor obviously had a good rapport with a Day Pitney partner. I don't know how Alaburda comes across, but a partner in a mid-size firm is betting she will make a good plaintiff; i.e., someone who should have succeeded but for her school.

There's no such thing as bad publicity. Alaburda will do fine. If she wins, she'll do better than fine, and become a hero to toileteers, everywhere.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Yale or Fail II

A while back I told readers that they needed to go to an elite school. This point gets hammered in everywhere, every day.

Today's example is from the NY Times. Briefly, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is hiring lawyers with civil rights backgrounds instead of conservative lawyers with different experience. The paper made it a point to note the new hires come from better higher-ranked schools.
The documents showed that the Obama-era hires were more likely to have had experience in civil rights, and they graduated from more selective law schools, than those hired over the final six years of the Bush administration. ...

Moreover, the Obama-era hires graduated from law schools that had an average ranking of 28, according to U.S. News & World Report. The Bush group had a lower average ranking, 42.
Granted, a favorite Bush recruiting stop was Regent, but the Times is putting its imprimatur on the notion that graduates of #28 are notably better lawyers than graduates of #42.

This is the sort of argument I'd expect to read over at TLS. Essentially, the paper is saying that given two lawyers with the same background, the one from the higher-ranked school has more credibility. Note that civil rights lawyers hired by definition are experienced; their school should matter less as their career developed.

For my part, I'm surprised that the Justice Department goes slumming outside T14, let alone #28.

Do yourself a favor and don't go to law school at all. If you do go, make sure it's to an elite school. Again, no one gives a shit about moot court or the top-ranked inTTTernational law program. The main thing that counts is the USNWR rank. The other thing, if you have a specialty in mind, is to gain street cred by working in that specialty, even if you have to volunteer.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Thanks, Vets

Today is Memorial Day in the United States. I would be remiss if I didn't take time from my bitching to recognize those who made the supreme sacrifice, as well as those who have either served or are serving.

Dean PresTTTige?

I've climbed every mountain, swam every river, crossed every ocean, and reached the pinnacle of my career. Not only do I have an ABA law degree, but also a Costco membership. What challenge remains? I know, law school dean!

From http://www.businessbroker.net/business-for-sale/small-private-university-los-angeles-county-california/256471.aspx (click to embiggen)

University with multiple accreditation and licenses is seeking to merge or sell to a private owner. The University was established in 1999 primarily as a legal education school. The University offers a Juris Doctor degree in Law, Associate degrees in legal education, courses meeting requirements for the State of CA Certified Paralegal Accreditation and Immigration Legal Assistant Certificate. The University is not limited as to the type of curriculum developed. The current owner focused on Legal Education. The school's license does not restrict content. The University is also able to issue Visa's to International Students seeking to study at the school. The student body is diverse. School purchase includes asset sale of legal library, course curriculum and leasehold improvements. The course curriculum is custom developed by the current owner, a licensed attorney. This business has the ability to grow in multiple ways. The courses are not yet online, however most competitive schools offer courses online. There is an opportunity to develop online classes as well as develop additional courses. To continue to operate the law school, the new owner must hire an Administrator/Dean who holds a license by the California Bar Association or have this credential themselves.
For more information regarding this listing please contact us by completing the "Contact the Seller" form to the left. We look forward to hearing from you.
What an inspiration I would be to my disciples, strolling the rooms of my leased 2,500 ft² facility in my elegant attire, arriving in my leased Altima, and departing with my leased companion.

Ninety-five grand cash flow = models & bottles, and the sky is truly the limit! That reminds me: Space Law LLM.

Best thing is the hard lifting is already done; the school's extant and licensed. Get the dumbass seller to finance it and it will self-amortize.

Spend the morning on TLS with my sock puppets telling idiots how awesome the school is, work with my online learning subcontractor in the afternoon, and do random sobriety checks on my instructors in the evening. Throw in occasional $1K political contributions to keep the gravy train flowing and I can keep it going until I retire.

There's some pesky rules, but nothing a good lawyer can't handle. Here's my favorite:
Rule 4.107 Student complaints

The Committee does not intervene in disputes between a student and a law school. It retains complaints about a law school submitted by students and considers those complaints in assessing the law school’s compliance with these rules.

Rule 4.107 adopted effective January 1, 2009.

Enshrined in law above is the Prime Directive of schools everywhere: Faculty and administrators count. Students don't.

If any readers would like to lend me the down payment, I'll gladly repay you when the tuition checks start rolling in.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The shiTTT finally hits the fan

Anna AlaburdaThomas Jefferson School of Law, exemplar of fourth-tier shitholes, has been hit with a 50-million-dollar class action lawsuit by an alumna alleging intentional fraud. Reaction from the damned has been vindication over what most of them saw as inevitable.

Anna Alaburda, pictured, graduated with honors from TJ, owes $150K, and has never found full-time legal work. Her undergrad degree is from NYU.

She is suing on behalf of herself and other individuals who were students at TJSL. There are potentially more than 2,300 members in the Class.

The Complaint itself reads like a contemporary, well-researched, articulated, and documented scamblog post, replete with citations to unfavorable news coverage. Indeed, in some places it's a little too breezy. Some choice excerpts:
"For more than 15 years, TJSL has churned out law school graduates (my emphasis)"

"In order to attract students despite these dismal figures, TJSL has adopted a practice of misrepresenting its post-graduation employment statistics."

"At the end of the day, TJSL is more concerned with raking in millions of dollars in tuition and fees than educating and training its students."

"In order to attract larger numbers of prospective students, law schools nationwide have adopted the practice of inflating statistics and presenting misleading figures to U.S. News & World Report, as well as the American Bar Association ("ABA"). Students are unaware that these statistics are false and misleading, and they frequently rely on the false statistics in deciding which law school to attend."

"Law schools are also believed to be manipulating post-graduation employment statistics, as well as median salary information for their graduates."

"This method has been described as a "bait and swtich [sic]" as to prospective law students."

"What should students expect in exchange for the hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt they incur in student loans in order to receive a diploma from TJSL? In 2007, TJSL's bar passage was 35.6 percent, among the lowest in the country; and the most recent figures reveal that TJSL's passage rate remains under 50 percent, well below the state average."

"TJSL's average student indebtedness in 2010-2011 was $137,352, which is among the highest in the nation...."

"On information and belief, TJSL provides false and inaccurate information directly to U.S. News & World Report with the understanding that the false and inaccurate information will be disseminated to the public."

"In other words, if graduates accept part time employment working as a waiter or a clerk at a convenience store, they are considered to be "employed nine months after graduation."
There are five counts.
  1. Violation of Business & Professions Code §17200 et seq. - Unfair Competition Law ("UCL") for unfair and fraudulent business practices
  2. Violation of Business & Professions Code §17500 et seq. - False Advertising Act
  3. Fraud - engag(ing) in a pattern and practice of knowingly and intentionally making numerous false representations of material fact, and material omissions, with the intent to deceive and/or induce reliance
  4. Violation of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act - misrepresentation of post-graduation employment rates
  5. Negligent misrepresentation - making material representations and omissions with no reasonable grounds for believing them to be true
I'm not familiar with California law. My layman's opinion is that unless they find something damning during discovery -- and they well might -- this suit isn't going anywhere. A school's usual defense is that it took tuition money in exchange for a legal education, which the plaintiff received; it made no guarantees; and, it's complying with ABA requirements. Further, much of the Complaint refers to US Snooze despite the school having no control over its editorial content.

One aspect of the Complaint I found fascinating is the reference to the faculty and staff being members of the California bar and implying they breached their ethical responsibilities. I think this would be a fertile second front to open up in California and other states: File ethics complaints against law school administrators.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Senator Boxer again goes after ABA

Press Release of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
For Immediate Release:

May 20, 2011
Contact: Washington D.C. Office (202) 224-3553

Boxer Continues to Urge American Bar Association to Improve Accuracy and Transparency of Data Reporting by Law Schools


Senator Recognizes Initial Steps by ABA, But Calls For Stronger Oversight of Reporting by Law Schools and Better Access to Information For Students

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today wrote a letter to the American Bar Association (ABA) acknowledging the group’s initial steps to address the accuracy and transparency of information for prospective law school students, but also urging the ABA to strengthen its oversight of admissions and post-graduation information reported by law schools and improve access to information for law students across the country.

Boxer’s letter follows an earlier letter on this subject, which was a response to recent news reports that have highlighted several law schools allegedly using misleading post-graduation employment and salary information to enhance a school’s position in the competitive and influential U.S. News and World Report annual rankings. Such inaccurate data can mislead prospective law students into believing they will easily be able to find work as an attorney and pay off their loans despite a sharp decline in full-time employment for law school graduates.

The full text of the Senator’s letter is below:

May 20, 2011
Stephen N. Zack
President
American Bar Association
321 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60654-7598

Dear Mr. Zack:

Thank you for your response to my letter regarding the transparency and accuracy of post-graduation employment and salary information reported by law schools.

I was encouraged to learn that in June the Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar will be considering recommendations on how the ABA can improve access to accurate and transparent information for prospective law school students. I view this as a positive step toward improved standards, but before completing its work on these important recommendations, I urge the Section to address some other important issues.

1. Independent Oversight

It is troubling that the recommendations do not address the need for independent oversight of the data law school deans submit to the ABA and publications like U.S. News and World Report. The Section’s recommendations would allow law schools to continue to submit unaudited data, despite the fact that a lack of oversight has been identified by many observers as a major problem.

The editor of U.S. News and World Report wrote a letter to all law school deans, noting a “crisis of confidence in the law school sector” and asked deans to be more vigilant in their data reporting. This letter and the recent news that a well-known law school admitted to knowingly reporting inaccurate data to the ABA for years indicates that independent oversight must surely be a part of any reform proposal.

2. Easy Access for Students to Information

The ABA should undertake efforts to ensure that students have easy access to post-graduation employment and salary information. Prospective students should not have to search far and wide for information so critical to determining their futures. To achieve this goal the ABA should make it standard practice for law schools to post links to this information on website homepages, and to include these documents in acceptance notices.

I would be remiss not to mention a very troubling New York Times article on law school merit scholarships. The article detailed the recent increase in the number of merit scholarships offered by law schools and demonstrated how scholarships are being used to convince students with high LSAT scores to attend lower-ranked law schools.

While the opportunity to earn a very expensive law degree at a fraction of the cost can be an attractive option for many students, the Times exposed a major problem with scholarship transparency. Many law schools not only fail to make it clear that prospective students must meet minimum GPA requirements, they also do not disclose how the law school’s grading curve can prohibit all students offered scholarships from maintaining the benefit every year.

It was reported that at one school, 57 percent of first-year students in one class year received a merit scholarship, but only one-third of the students in that entire class received a GPA high enough to maintain a scholarship. In the Times article, an ABA official admitted he was unaware of any problems with merit scholarships, and noted that the ABA does not ask schools to report how many students lose their scholarships each year and does not publish any information for prospective students on this subject.

I look forward to reviewing the results of the Section’s June meeting, as well as your response to the merit scholarship issue.

Sincerely,

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

JDU pwns ATL



JDU wags collaborated on a fanciful Craigslist shitlaw job listing that one of the regulars then posted in the Chicago market. It soon found its way to both shitlawjobs and ATL. Unfortunately, she pulled it shortly afterward.

The sad thing is that a truly wretched law job description received real responses and didn't seem contrived enough to arouse suspicion at ATL.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hoosier Daddy

This is my latest post based on an aged draft. My style is to collect a bunch of ideas at once, save them as drafts, and work on them as time permits. Amazingly, they can become obsolete in one week.

I was going to comment on TaxProf blog's May 10th law school status update. As if on cue, Indiana Tech announced plans May 16th to open the state's fifth law school.

Both Restoring Dignity to the Law and the Indianapolis Star have good articles on it so I needn't waste much breath. Let's just say that Indiana Tech is unabashedly poaching Cooley's market. Meanwhile, University of Indiana, currently ranked #23 by US Snooze, is having trouble placing its graduates.

If Indiana Tech were a public institution then I would have had put in an FOIA request or its state equivalent for the studies supporting this school. Apparently, the only thing it considered is whether there's a market for a law school, not its graduates. The title of this post is what alumni are going to hear from creditors.

Mooooooooooooooooooo


So, here's the roundup

Now accepting lemmings

Lincoln Memorial University (Knoxville, TN)
UC-Irvine (Irvine, CA)

Accepting lemmings 2011

Belmont University (Nashville, TN)

Accepting lemmings 2012

Concordia University (Boise, ID)
Louisiana College Judge Paul Pressler School of Law (Shreveport, LA)

Accepting lemmings 2013

Indiana TTTech, (Fort Wayne, IN)
University of North Texas (Dallas, TX)

Accepting lemmings 2017

SUNY-Binghamton (Binghamton, NY)

Bitch slapped by Maine Supreme Court

Husson University (Bangor, ME)

Shelved in display of decency atypical of legal education

University of Delaware (Newark, DE)
Wilkes University (Wilkes-Barre, PA)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

ABA outsourcing its annual meeting


America's phoniest "professional" organization is holding its 2011 annual meeting in Toronto. Canada. Thought you'd like to know that.

http://www2.americanbar.org/annual/pages/default.aspx

Monday, May 16, 2011

U R Screwed

Graduation time! The combination of stumbling across an article about Ave Maria's graduation and being in a pissy mood led to this post. Domino's Pizza School of Law is a Florida Tier 4 Catholic institution with a 150-median LSAT. But, doesn't everyone look excited to begin their new life? Click on the link for more pix.

http://www.news-press.com/article/20110515/NEWS0104/110515048/Ave-Maria-law-students-graduate

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Economist magazine agrees with me?

I see the Economist and I are on the same page. Granted I'm mosiach, Warren Buffet, and the Delphic Oracle combined, but it's gratifying to have my convicTTTions validated by such an august entity.
"Ultimately, lawyering is becoming more of a business than a profession."
Well, hit me with a 2x4. Ever wonder why my blog has Profession in quotation marks? Funny, this article is dated May 2011; it's about 30 years late.

There is nothing new, here, to anyone who follows the legal industry even casually. The main import is that it appeared in a widely-read and respected publication. The only reason I'm blogging about it is I started a draft a while ago and didn't want to let it languish. Which is a piss poor reason. Whatever.

The article leads off with Howrey LLP's dissolution. The firm's circling the drain led to much breathless (and witless) writing on ATL. The ultimate cause of death was partners defecting because profits weren't at their accustomed >$1MM/partner/yr. Pundits, including The Economist, can wax all they want on structural changes in the industry, but the firm was killed by old-fashioned greed and mismanagement, same as from time immemorial. Unlike a typical business failure, Howrey was never insolvent, and its investors (equity partners) landed on their feet elsewhere, each presumably with his or her book of business intact.

There's a much better article in the Washington Post that traces the firm's rise and fall. It also discusses structural changes, but the main one is the demise of the general partnership structure that bound partners to the firm and limited risk taking. Seems quaint, but around the time I was in school, associates who had been offered a partnership were advised to check the firm's financial condition, especially unfunded pension obligations. Also see Finley, Crumble.

I note Howrey set up "a back office in Pune, India, to provide low-cost legal research." Snort.

The interesting aspect of the Economist article is its predictions on what firms are likely to thrive in today's economy.
  • Elite New York-based firms such as Sullivan & Cromwell that restrict their locations to business centers
  • Smaller, highly-specialized firms such as Wachtell that can command a price premium, or, as one of our salesdroids used to call it, a "sustainable competitive advantage"
  • Certain global firms such as Baker & McKenzie that have a viable business model and management that can execute it (my emphasis)
TLS members should make it a point to work only for firms positioned as described above lest their careers be derailed, though BigGov is also acceptable.

My favorite part of the Economist article was the discussion on protectionism. Other countries severely or completely prohibit foreigners from practicing local law. Meanwhile, over at the ABA, they're not only exporting legal work as fast as they can — until it blows up in their faces — but also subjecting the locals to CLE, mandatory pro bono, bar dues, etc.

How I wish this were the real profession I thought I was entering.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Be handsome. Be attractive. And, don't be unaTTTractive

Hartford Business Journal, which normally doesn't attract much attention outside its locale, recently got plenty with an article about lawyer debt reaching an all-time high.
From 2001 to 2010, the average amount borrowed annually by law students for their three-year degrees increased 50 percent, according to the American Bar Association. This past academic year, law students borrowed an average of $68,827 for public educations and $106,249 for private educations.
That would be on top of any undergrad debt.
Law school debt increases the cost of legal services. As lawyers repay loans, firms must compensate to meet their loan and cost-of-living demands. Law school debt essentially means a lawyer must make $200,000 or more above what the holder of a bachelor’s degree will make over a lifetime, to have the investment break even.
Other than the numbers themselves, there is little new, here. The piece shills for T2 UConn as a cost-effective public law school whose in-state tuition is half the price of the private Connecticut schools. My guess is most of its students didn't cross-shop Yale. I'm also guessing that Connecticut taxpayers don't mind subsidizing a law school in the supersaturated New England market.

The $200,000 number was pulled out of someone's ass; it omits both opportunity cost and the time value of money. It's possible to lose that much in salary alone during the three years of school. Speaking of salary,
“You end up being a little less selective,” said Jonathan Shapiro, partner at Middletown’s Shapiro Law Offices LLC and vice-chairman of the CBA Young Lawyers Section. “You end up going down a path that you might not have wanted to.”
Hellooooooooooo, shitlaw! Turns out Shapiro is a UConn grad who made biglaw and then landed on both feet at mommy and daddy's firm.

As the media is wont to do, it takes a solid story then throws a curveball by including an atypical subject who overshadows it. The NY Times did this with the groundbreaking Is Law School a Losing Game? by profiling a clueless Thomas Jefferson School of Law graduate. Here, HBJ featured a photogenic blonde UConn alumnus who got a job with Day Pitney the same way we all do, by inviting a partner to lunch. I was dumbfounded when I read this and I suspect that the article wouldn't have received much attention at all but for her.

One of Day Pitney's predecessors was Pitney Hardin, an NJ biglaw that might as well have been Cravath in being a reach for me. And, most other applicants.

Here's the takeaway. Want a soft-IP biglaw job? Just send an e-mail. Oh, and make sure you're attractive. And, very important, don't be unattractive. The clip below is tongue-in-cheek and set in a different context, but also 100% accurate.




Blogger had a system error and deleted my original post. J-Dog had left the comment below by then. I'm wondering what the scale is, myself. Also, you younger guys should invite Ms. Cantor to lunch.

The whole "invite a partner out to lunch" and get a job offer a week later cracked me up.

Maybe there's a scale based on how attractive you are, competence factors being equal, for what you have to buy a partner to get a job offer:

Attractive ur minority: soda
Attractive female: lunch
Attractive male: dinner
Average ur minority: pro sports tickets
Average female: round of golf, elite course
Average male: furniture
Ugly ur minority: high-class electronic gadgets
Ugly female: nice car (> Honda)
Ugly male: vacation home

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Off with his head!

'No, no!' said the Queen. 'Sentence first - verdict afterwards.'
The NY Times has just (I started this post a week ago and have been preoccupied) widely publicized how both the ABA and US Snooze are asleep at the switch. Again. Law Students Lose the Grant Game as Schools Win is just what the doctor ordered for the legal eduction carTTTel. The article managed to hit print the same weekend as two of the biggest stories of the era but the message will get out; it is was the second most-emailed business story on the Times's site.

The article features a victim of Golden Gate University, a toilet that rubs shoulders with unranked superluminaries such as Florida Coastal, Cooley, and Regent. Like other administrations that aspire to keep their jobs, it games its ranking by baiting well-qualified applicants with merit scholarships and then revoking them after 1L. The students themselves refer to it as "bait and switch."

There were few merit scholarships when I went to school. US Snooze changed everything.

Schools are ranked heavily on the LSAT scores and GPAs of their incoming students. The scholarships allow them to buy a better class and higher ranking. The gotcha is that the scholarships carry grade stipulations. The combination of a vicious grading curve and stacking the scholarship recipients in the same section ensures that many will lose them.

Basically, scholarship recipients compete against each other, though most don't realize that when they sign. Reminds me of the two hikers being chased by a bear. One pauses to take his boots off so he can run faster. The other yells, "Why are you stopping? You'll never outrun him!" The guy replies, "I don't have to outrun him, just you."

A side effect whose significance depends on your leanings is that money for need-based scholarships is diverted to merit scholarships.

Naturally, neither the ABA nor US Snooze track how many students retain their scholarships. Why should they? They're supreme beings; however, USNWR's Robert Morse's comments were so appalling that only Nando could do them justice.
Why is merit scholarship retention not part of the U.S. News data haul? “The main reason is that we haven’t thought about it,” said Robert Morse, who oversees the rankings. “It’s not a great answer, but it’s an honest answer.”

Then Mr. Morse thought about it.

“This isn’t meant to be sarcastic,” he said, “but these students are going to law school and they need to learn to read the fine print.”
Got that? They need to learn to read the fine print AFTER THEY'VE ALREADY SIGNED IT. The asshole is channeling Lewis Carroll.

Bob Morse also has investment advice: "Don't gamble. Buy some good stock. Hold it until it goes up and then sell it. If it doesn't go up, don't buy it!" Oh, that was Will Rogers. Never mind.

Restoring Dignity to the Law has pointed out there is no fine print to read at GGU. Naturally, the article has attracted plenty of attention elsewhere. Morse himself came down from the dark tower to issue exculpatory comments and point a finger at the schools.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Served

I actually spend time trying to devise cutesy titles for my posTTTs. It comes from a desire for something attention grabbing and years of submitting headlines to Fark, mostly unsuccessfully.

Headlines are an art. I know a former NY Daily News headline writer and they come to him naturally. His terse e-mail responses often require a second (or third) look lest they sail over my head.

Sometimes an article's headline is so good that it needs no embellishment; it's perfect as is. Paul Campos, a professor of law at the University of Colorado, handed me the title for this post. His article, Served How law schools completely misrepresent their job numbers, is one more nail in the law school carTTTel's coffin.

"Served," "owned," and "pwned" all mean the same thing to me: To be obliterated in a contest, usually publically. It's a succinct description of the fate awaiting lemmings heading off to law school. Campos probably used "served" because of its legal connotation. I prefer pwned, myself.

Follwing the incendiary subtitle, Campos trods familiar ground, noting that schools claim almost all their graduates get jobs as lawyers and that US Snooze has revised its employment rate calculations to make them "somewhat less inaccurate."

He hits his stride when he begins analyzing National Association for Law Placement (NALP) data. NALP reports that 63% of graduates of ABA schools have full-time legal positions within 9 months of graduating. Campos points out that NALP does not distinguish between permanent and temporary jobs. While the latter are typically low-status, low-paid clerical and document review, he also includes state trial-level clerkships as temporary positions.

Based on a T50 he analyzed, the true 9-month employment rate is 45%; lower-ranked schools fare worse.

In other news that will surprise only Ric Romero, he notes that employment figures are self-reported and that neither the schools nor NALP audit them. Unemployed and underemployed graduates tend not to report back to the school. Campos further "found several instances of people describing themselves as employed permanently or full-time, when in fact they had temporary or part-time jobs (I found no instances of inaccuracies running in the other direction)." Even T14s game their ranking by hiring alumni temporarily.

So, life after T50 is mostly for losers? What happens to the winners? They "often accept jobs that make them miserable, featuring insane hours and unfulfilling work, but which these graduates conclude they must take in order to pay their often astronomical educational debt."

Served. Indeed.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mail Bombing


An enterprising Carbozo 3L has started a mail bombing service, Resumé Launchpad, for law students. It's a glorified contact database that allows users to do targeted e-mailings to legal employers and customize the cover letter for each recipient. Having done mail merges since the DOS-era, I believe they require more expertise than many people either have or are willing to spend the time to develop. The product eliminates drudgework and fits a need.

Its Achilles heel will be the price. The site wants 25 cents per e-mail, an unsound business model, IMHO. For starters, it targets large law firms that are unobtainable. You can resumé bomb shitlaw but will run out of money before you can realize your dream to litigate bogbites. There are numerous other vendors that provide the same service, generally at a comparatively low flat cost per month.

The entrepreneur received a cold welcome on JDU. Some sample comments.
"Coming onto a message board filled with people who have been sending their CVs into the ether for months, some times years, on end and asking them to PAY for you to do it for them? That doesn't just take balls....that takes MEDICINE BALLS!"

"I like that the website features the largest firms in the country on the main page. Nice touch."

"While I applaud your initiative, resume bombing is simply not a productive strategy anymore."

"So, you're asking people to pay *you* their money for *you* to make the already deafening signal noise in legal recruitment even worse?"

"Die in a fire"

"The idea, in this economy, of sending resumes by email, unsolicited to law firms is beyond pathetic."
I don't think Resumé Launchpad is going to fly.

MandaTTTory Pro Bono

Shilling Me Softly has guest post by David Mandell today on mandatory pro bono, a subject near and dear to my heart. When I was a newly-admitted, frequently un- and under-employed member of the NJ bar (note, member of the bar, not practicing attorney), there was NOTHING more grating.

Imagine being a temporary file clerk and having to miss two days or more of work to defend a low-life with "big problems and empty pockets," in the words of the esteemed Scott Bullock. This isn't helping them fill out forms. Instead, it's full-blown representation from start to finish, with potentially multiple court appearances. These individuals can benefit from effective assistance of counsel, particularly in family law matters, but you personally get no resources or assistance, whatsoever. Need to get an interview translated from Spanish? Good luck. This is truly shitlaw on steroids.

I have little to add to Mandell's excellent post. He already noted the various exemptions under New Jersey law, but didn't explain how many lawyers they cover. This is a state with 566 municipalities in 21 counties. The vast majority have a municipal judge, prosecutor(s), and defender(s). These typically part-time positions go to lawyers from politically-connected firms like everything else in this venal state. Want to help your associates shirk pro bono? Get them an assignment somewhere.

I'm told that volunteering with a legal aid society can get you out of mandatory pro bono. This might be a good way to go if you want to help people with tenant issues and avoid the gamier cases you'd otherwise be assigned.

Pro tip: As NJ solos are painfully aware, the state Supreme Court enthusiastically enforces the bona fide office rule. If you don't have a bona fide office, you can't practice law and ... drum roll ... can't represent pro bono clients. Capiche? Doesn't hurt to ask to be excused, though note the tendency to "not receive" your request.

When I finally threw in the towel and formally retired from the practice of law (note: I never had a paying engagement for which a JD was required), it was to avoid mandatory pro bono. Pro bono is truly a feel-good measure for our pious judiciary and bar. It allows them to tell the public what swell folks they are, even as they kick their struggling brethren in the teeth.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Food stamps

There's a rumor on JDU that a T20, likely University of Minnesota, is counseling 3Ls on how to apply for food stamps. Yes, it's a rumor, but we're dealing with a "profession" that expects people to take on six-figure debt to work for minimum wage.

Tune in at 11:00

Pictured is Ric Romero a KABC-TV reporter and Fark cliché who "[r]eports the obvious, usually long after everyone else knows it's obvious." Ric made a name for himself reporting on the blogging phenomenon; his photo alone normally suffices as a response in a thread, though some will add "water is wet" to drive the point home.

Ric's protégé, Nikita Lalwani over at Yale Daily News, has a promising career ahead of her. She recently reported that law firms prefer to hire from elite law schools. Further, the law schools themselves draw from elite colleges; half the Yale class comes from either the Ivy League or Stanford and the balance comes from from selective schools like Wesleyan.
"The exclusivity of the legal profession is reinforced at top law firms, according to a study by Lauren Rivera ’00 published this year, an assistant professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Rivera interviewed roughly 40 professionals involved in law firm recruitment and hiring, and found that these people give particular preference to candidates from Harvard, Yale or Stanford law schools when reviewing job applications.

Although many recruiters actually believed that graduates of non-elite law schools were more prepared for the practical aspects of being a lawyer, they still preferred to hire from super-elite schools because of the prestige associated with them."
So, 0Ls, what can we learn from Nikita? Simply, Yale or fail. Unless your goal is to work in shitlaw, you need to go to an elite school. What part of that do you not understand? Any employer worth working for cares deeply what school you attended. Your T50 law review or moot court is nice, and it's helpful that your school revamped its curriculum so you could hit the ground running, but you're still going to be an also-ran and always will be. Don't blame me; I don't make the rules. Decades after a Harvard graduates, his degree will impress people. Seton Hall, not so much.

The legal industry is comprised of prestige whores from top to bottom. That's how this blog got its name.

When you fork over $200K, you're buying a brand, not just an education. Everyone learns the same irrelevant law, generally from professors who are graduates of the same go-to schools.

Your first inkling something is amiss may come at OCI. You may also try looking on a firm's site for graduates, and find there is but one ... who graduated in 1977. You try to volunteer, but those organizations are selective, too. Like I said, I don't make the rules.

You don't want to work in biglaw, anyway? That's fine, but nowadays you're going to be rubbing shoulders with T14 grads all the way down to doc review. When push comes to shove, who do you think is going to get the job?

Don't take my word for it. Ask Nikita.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You will respect my authoriTTTah!

Pictured is Kenneth Nunn, a presTTTigious "Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Race Relations and the Law, Police Brutality, Race and the Criminal Process, and Law and Cultural Studies" professor at the University of Florida, whose faculty he joined in 1990. The former "Professor of the Year" has also taught unspecified courses at Makerere University Faculty of Law in Kampala, Uganda. I'm trying to leave race out of this, but the guy is a walking cliché. Keepin' it real.

Professor Nunn's greatest didactic accomplishment and legacy happened outside his own classroom, recently. It teaches us how the legal academy REALLY works.

From the Gainesville Sun:
The incident happened Dec. 10 when Nunn's class of about 100 students was scheduled to take an exam in the Holland Law Center.

Nunn mistakenly thought the class was assigned to three rooms, including a room where about six other students were taking a tax exam, according to the investigation. Nunn's students interrupted the other class until one of the tax students placed a trash can in front of the classroom with a sign that read "exam."

The tax student, who was not identified in the report, later told Nunn "it was atrocious how you handled that." The student told an investigator Nunn then got in his face and pushed him full force using both hands, before saying, "I'm a law professor and deserve respect." A witness confirmed Nunn pushed the student.
He received a one week suspension. With pay. Another blog noted that the March 7-13 suspension corresponded with Spring Break.

UF warned him that a second incident might result in his termination. Salma Hayek just warned me that she might come over unannounced and ... sorry, Nando.

To summarize, a faculty member with a chip on his shoulder committed criminal battery against a student, which was witnessed, and received a one-week paid vacation. To quote Robin Williams, the school effectively told him, "Stop! Or, I'll say, 'Stop!' again."

Let's read between the lines. University of Florida has a top-ranked tax program. There were six tax students taking an exam. I'm guessing the shovee was a nerdy, white LLM. I'll give the school the benefit of a doubt and trust that it would have handled the incident the same no matter what the student's and professor's races (or gender, religion, color, creed, origin, and sexual orientation) were.

Professor Nunn's lesson for us is that law schools look out for their own, never for the students.

Society's lesson, which has eluded Nunn, is that respect must be earned.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Convergence of Suck

Hat tip to The Jobless Juris Doctor for publicizing a New York Law School (no, not NYU) press release. Seems this venerable diploma mill has combined forces with Solo Practice University to give a handful of its unmarketable graduates Special High-Intensity Training.

NYLS is an overpriced cesspool currently ranked #135 by US Snooze. Its 25th percentile applicants have 151 LSATs. To its credit, one of my high school classmates is an alumnus, made big law, and is currently CEO at a mid-size company. My former employer had at least two NYLS graduates, one the top legal officer, albeit with a crappy title, the other an HR benefit manager. All graduated years ago.

The current crop hasn't fared as well. Hence, now that they've thrown $200K down the drain and wasted three years of their life, the school is giving 10 of them scholarships for on-line training at SPU and washing its hands of them.

There's nothing I can say about SPU that hasn't been better said by Scott Bullock. He refers to schools like SPU as "after-scammers." They prey on graduates of toilets like NYLS, figuring the students are gullible enough to bite twice. Bullock's piece is a classic.

http://www.prweb.com/releases/prweb2011/4/prweb8300506.htm

New York Law School is First to Launch Solo Practice University’s ® “Bridges” Online Education Program
“Building Bridges to Professional Independence” Will Help NYLS Students Prepare for Practice
New York, NY (Vocus/PRWEB) April 13, 2011

New York Law School (NYLS) announced today that it will provide scholarships to attend Solo Practice University (SPU) to 10 of its third-year students. SPU provides online classes, tools, and other services to help lawyers succeed in today’s marketplace. The scholarship winners will attend SPU while in law school. In addition, NYLS will work with SPU to make discounted access available to recent graduates and alumni.

“We are committed to helping our students and alumni become effective practitioners. SPU offers wonderful resources, especially for those who will open their own offices or join small firms,” said Richard A. Matasar, Dean and President of New York Law School. “We urge all of our students to take an active role in networking with practitioners and learning about aspects of law practice that aren’t always covered in traditional law school courses. This initiative will expand their opportunities to do just that.”

Susan Cartier Liebel, Founder and CEO of Solo Practice University, said, “I commend New York Law School for its innovative approach to legal education. There already are a number of NYLS alumni active at SPU. I know they will reach out to help the next generation of practitioners.”

Access to this pilot program will be available for free, beginning next fall, to 10 students who qualify by writing about their professional plans and goals and who agree to use SPU resources actively and participate in an evaluation survey at the end of the year. Internally, NYLS will also be offering a new course on starting and running a law firm, and some of the students who elect to take the course will be expected to participate in the online pilot program.

The SPU pilot program is among several new initiatives that will be announced by Dean Matasar at the concluding session of the Future Ed Conference on April 16, 2011. The conference is co-hosted by Harvard Law School and New York Law School and brings together educators, lawyers, clients, regulators, and legal entrepreneurs to design and test potential innovations in the law school curriculum, teaching methods, and the use of technology. See http://www.nyls.edu/futureed for more information.

About New York Law School
Founded in 1891, New York Law School is an independent law school located in lower Manhattan near the city’s centers of law, government, and finance. New York Law School’s renowned faculty of prolific scholars has built the School’s strength in such areas as constitutional law, civil and human rights, labor and employment law, media and information law, urban legal studies, international and comparative law, and a number of interdisciplinary fields. The School is noted for its nine academic centers: Center on Business Law & Policy, Center on Financial Services Law, Center for International Law, Center for New York City Law, Center for Professional Values and Practice, Center for Real Estate Studies, Diane Abbey Law Center for Children and Families, Institute for Information Law & Policy, and Justice Action Center. New York Law School has more than 13,000 graduates and enrolls some 1,500 students in its full- and part-time J.D. program and its four advanced degree programs in financial services law, real estate, tax, and mental disability law studies. http://www.nyls.edu

About Solo Practice University
Founded in 2009, Solo Practice University® is the #1 online educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students. Comprised of more than 560 online individual classes presented by more than 45 faculty, Solo Practice University ® provides access to expert advice, mentorship, tools, information, and the professional network lawyers need to succeed in the current marketplace. The essence of Solo Practice University ® is collaboration. Experienced lawyers from a variety of practice areas teach the nuts and bolts of actual practice. Business experts in law office management, client attraction and retention, technology, social media, billing, accounting, marketing, and more, serve as instructors and mentors to those opening their own practice. http://solopracticeuniversity.com
# # #

This is originally by Scott Bullock and is currently available at Down By Law. Bullock's work has disappeared into the ether at least once so I feel safer including it here.

From Wikipedia’s “Frauds” article:

Scammers recognize that the victim who has just been scammed is more likely to fall for scamming attempts than a random person. Often after a scam, the victim is contacted again by the scammer, representing himself as a law enforcement officer. The victim is informed that a group of criminals has been arrested and that they have recovered his money. To get the money back, the victim must pay a fee for processing or insurance purposes. Even after the victim has realized that he has been scammed, this follow up scam can be successful as the scammer represents himself as a totally different party yet knows details about the transactions. The realization that he has lost a large sum of money and the chance he might get it back often leads to the victim transferring even more money to the same scammer.

Brilliant, no? After all, each orchard of morons always has a few low-hanging fruit just ripe for the picking. The “perennial” suckers, if you will. As our former president George W. Bush so eloquently put it: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice- uh, well, uh, uh- it’s not nice to fool people again!”

Consider the typical, hapless TTT law school grad: First she invested 100 K in a worthless undergrad degree like English Lit or Poli-Sci, then compounded this initial mistake by piling on 120 K or more in non-dischargeable law school loans, bought hook, line and sinker the materially fraudulent salary stats of her law school, endured the BarBri blather-thons, walked the hot coal hazing ritual of the bar’zam, and now finds herself coping with $1500 a month loan payments and a total lack of job opportunities. It’s a familar disaster. Like the Mountain Climber game on The Price is Right, she yodeled her way up the debt mountain and has now fallen off the cliff. Yo-da-le-hee-hoo! Thanks for playing! Even document review, the perennial “parting gift” of the law school also-ran, has now been shipped off to India like those factory jobs of yore. As Springsteen sang in “My Hometown”:

They’re closing down the textile mill ‘cross the railroad track

Foreman says these jobs are going, boys

And they ain’t a comin back

That said, we recently learned here at Big Debt that a new genus of parasite has mutated within the infectious Petri-dish of the law. This nascent strain of law school “after-scammers” are breeding like salmonella in lukewarm mayonnaise.  Our friend & fellow blogger Tom the Temp dubs this new (and apparently, now viral) bug the “Solo Practice Cheerleader Crew” (see Tom’s thoughts on these pathogens here):

http://temporaryattorney.blogspot.com/2009/09/more-solo-cheerleader-shysters.html

The solo practice pipedream is nothing new to us here at Big Debt, having wreaked its way through our document review projects for the better part of this decade. All us old time coders remember the so-called “solos” on project who were “just having a slow month” and ended up in the doc review gulag “for a short while.” Curiously, those “slow months” stretched into years as these folks popped up again and again on projects like those old character actors from the 1940s gangster movies. Like bad pennies, they were always back in Biglaw’s pocket sooner rather than later. It wasn’t by choice, either.

 Armed with a flimsy stack of Vista-Print business cards and a “prestigious” midtown Manhattan mail-drop address, these usual suspects were always “open for business,” such as it were. You’d sometimes hear them on the phone in the vestibules, bickering over some rinky-dink traffic ticket or small-claims case. One particular guy nicknamed “ShitFingers” liked to operate his side practice via cellphone while dropping heat in the restroom stall, giving “toilet law” a literal dimension.  His clients must have thought one of those Civil War re-enactments was going on while he discussed the retainer.

Later, you’d go to wipe and find he’d captioned draft briefs on the Charmin and hidden a stapler under the toilet tank. I often wondered why he didn’t just tape his law degree up in there alongside the stall’s graffiti. No one would’ve cared. This was, of course, in the SullCrom basement, down amid the boxes. Those were the days, young grasshoppers.

As mentioned supra, these “solos” had little more to show for their 7 year education than those pathetic Vista-Print cards. They were curious spectacles in themselves, these cards, featuring the obligatory “Esq” after the last name, coupled with the redundant “Attorney & Counsellor at Law” directly beneath in bold font. Sometimes they’d even slug it “The Law Office of Mr. Loser Solo, Esq, Attorney & Counsellor at Law, JD, LLM” and other such nonsense, as if listing every permutation of their “title” would somehow confer respect.

It didn’t. When the bowel movement was over and the business cards put away, he went back to being Temp. Coder #670934, like Superman doffing his cape and becoming Clark Kent. On payday, he drew the same $21 an hour as the rest of the losers.

But again, we think there really was something to these business cards, something quite profound. A fire within, perhaps? Like the tiny American flag that John McCain & his cellmates stitched while inside the “Hanoi Hilton”, the cards represented pride and honor and-dare we write-loyalty to a system. A system that (like McCain & his cellmates) had ruthlessly screwed and exploited them, but a system for which they harbored latent pride nonetheless. We often wondered what pleasure was drawn from seeing one’s own name followed by “Esq.” as opposed to Temp. Coder #670934, or prison inmate, or midget porn director? Of what did these coders dream? Did they stare into the alkalide glow of the monitor and see not a Global Broker Dealer Sub-Agreement but instead  a plush corner office, complete with mahogany desk, silk drapes, and Cartier fountain pens? The law school sheepskins proudly framed on the walls? Were the images real and concrete, or lacy and vague at the edges like a sitcom’s dream sequence?

We’d rather not know. Here at Big Debt, we find these “solo law practice” pipedreams rather comical, and somewhat akin to delusions. To paraphrase Nietzsche, “if you stare too deeply into the monitor, the monitor will stare into you.” So it goes. As the SullCrom partner once told a peskily querying coder “We’re not paying you guys to think. Just click, and click fast. There’s too much fucking around down here.” Right after that, some old coder farted.

But we digress. Our first snowfall in NYC was just last week, yet shitlaw firms have been reporting severe, isolated blizzards since the 4th of July. This often culminates in the phenomenon known as a “white-out.” A white-out occurs when the quantity of incoming resumes exceeds the toner capacity of the fax machine.

Like hurricanes, scientists are studying the “life cycle” of the typical NYC whiteout. Its root causes, if you will. The “chain of events.” They tell us it all starts with a craigslist ad, calling for some no-fault/landlord tenant/personal injury/_________(insert shitlaw practice area here) associate, with 0-2 years experience. Usually the salary offered will be south of 40 K, but much “experience” is promised in lieu of monetary remuneration. Court appearances and depositions are often mentioned, as well as “motions.”

Upon pressing the “post” button and placing the ad online, the white-out phenomenon unfolds. Within seconds, the telltale ring of the fax machine sounds thru the office as the resumes start shooting in. Building slowly, like a dynamo whirring up to speed, the ring soon blares into a continuous, screeching din like a submarine’s “torpedo” alarms in those old WWII movies. Upwards of 75 resumes a minute have been reported, and often the hapless secretaries are dispatched to find milk crates, empty wastebaskets, and other vessels to absorb this incoming resume avalanche.

But there’s no taming this feral beast. As the toner bleeds dry, the print becomes fainter and fainter, until the boldfaced “Cardozo Sports Law Journal” and “Top 46%” boldfaced type dissolves from a scream to a faint whisper. By the ten-minute mark, the fax machine pages emerge blank and unblemished, the shitlaw credentials unprinted. The toner is empty. Yet onward the onslaught continues, page upon  empty page pouring into a vortex of abject nothingness. This heart of darkness is pure white.

(A nostalgic digression: Our old NYC personal injury firm was notoriously cheap, and bought those knockoff Canal Street toners that left your motions looking like a charcoal briquette had been rubbed across them. A judge once charitably compared them to cave paintings, and asked if I’d scrubbed a chimney with them).

But let’s get back on track: Below is the website link to the new “Solo Practice University”, complete with ringing customer endorsements:

http://solopracticeuniversity.com/

God, I haven’t laughed this hard since George Carlin kicked the bucket. Is Carlton Sheets this huckster’s uncle? Don’t laugh. I can easily see these solo-practice shysters taking to late night TV to hawk this useless drivel. You know, like those investment scam “informericals”…..

Imagine Susan Carter Liebel, CEO of Solo Practice University, reclined on a beachfront patio in Miami, the jade green waters over her shoulder and the shills facing west. Perhaps a dwarf or two, fanning her with palm fronds.  Everyone sports a tan. Sunshine, smiles & sunglasses abound:

SCL: “Tell us about your experience with Solo Practice University, Shill #1”

Shill: “Susan, I can’t thank you enough for these wonderful Solo Practice Univesity materials. Two years ago I was sweating in the Paul Weiss cockroach basement coding documents for $21 an hour. That’s right Susan, a LICENSED NY ATTORNEY making $21 an hour.

“Dear God, surely you jest, Mister Shill?”

“I wish I was kidding, Susan, I really do. Sadly, that’s the going rate for doc review in NYC.”

“But at some point, that changed, didn’t it? Tell our audience here what happened?”

“Well Susan, after getting home from Paul Weiss at 2 am with my eyes weeping blood, I switched on my 13 inch TV to watch Gilligan’s Island when I caught the end of your program here.”

“You mean “Solo Practice University”?

“Yes, and it was a moment that changed my life. Like a revelation, a God coming down to Moses, it all fit suddenly together.  Everything was made clear, the solutions to all my problems and the answer to all my prayers. The “Ten Commandments” of Solo Practice U” touched my soul!

“What happened next, pray tell, Mister Shill?”

“First, my neighbor started screaming about the extension cord I’d strung across the fire escape to steal his electricity, since mine had long since been cut off for non-payment. After he settled down, I had my roommate hold the rabbit ear antenna while I took down the toll-free number for Solo Practice University! After a few minutes I thought, “Gee whiz, why have I been reviewing those Global Bi-Lateral Broker-Dealer Sub Agreements for Paul Weiss at $21 an hour, when I can do it just as well myself for $950 an hour?

“And tell us, Mister Shill, how things have worked out since that call?”

“Susan, I’m just so happy I’m almost speechless. These tears are the tears of sheer ecstasy, by God. I swear I haven’t wept like this since chopping a bushel of onions at my old Gray’s Paypaya side job. Now, thanks to Solo Practice University, I have my own solo boutique doing Sarb-Ox compliance and multi-international securities work, and my biggest decision is choosing what color Ferrari I want next.  Me and the Goldman Sachs gang, who are now clients of mine, are partying balls out with Derek Jeter & some hookers in a couple hours. And Susan, you see this watch? See it? This watch cost more than a year’s tuition at Seton Hall. That’s who I am, and these loser coders I worked with are still nothing.” 

Cue the toll-free number. So it goes, beachcombers. You can almost smell the Coronas.

Note that none of the solo-practice cheerleaders actually practice law themselves, just as Carlton Sheets never sold real estate and Ron Popeil never ate a rotisserie chicken injected with chunks of raw garlic. Instead, they peddle the idea of solo practice as a kind of elixir, a “snake oil” or tonic if you will. Like the patent medicines of the 19th century, they’re palliative treatments for the JD pox, not cures. They make outrageous claims and far-out promises knowing full well they can’t deliver. And shit, why not? As we wrote in the intro, someone gullible enough to waste 100 K+  on a TTT law school surely won’t mind parting with another $595 to learn the “inside secrets” of Solo Practice U! The typical TTT grad blows more than that a semester on Rule Against Perpetuities study-aid puzzles and other accessories of the lawschool scam machine.

But the truth soon sets in. Like the Wizard of Oz, the curtain has long since been pulled back on the charade of solo shitlaw by consumer-friendly websites like Legalzoom. The public know full well what a worthless “product” most shitlawyers peddle, and the jig is now up. It sure don’t take 7 years of schoolin’ to cut n’ paste some janitor’s Last Will & Testament together or grovel before some lowlife traffic court judge for a point reduction. Anyone who can read can now pretty much solve their own legal problems by downloading a few boilerplate forms, doing some quick Googling, and pulling the old cut n’ paste. They surely couldn’t be any more incompetent than the typical recent law grad, unless of course their case involved a “fertile octagenarian” or other bar exam trivia. Opening a solo shitlaw office in 2010 is like opening a typewriter repair store in 1993- your product is already obsolete. And no, we don’t want to hear about your uncle/neighbor/dad’s college roommate who made millions in the 1980s on whiplash cases. That horse has long since limped off to the glue factory. Maybe Grandpa Kettle made a living shoeing horses, but that doesn’t mean my spiffy new blacksmith shop on the NJ Turnpike will become a going concern. Times have changed.

Funny too how the “solo university” hucksters have mimicked the TTT law school website template. It features all the lame, hackneyed buzzwords like “networking” and “professional connections,” the usual “success story” shills, and even a spiffy section of “faculty” bios (btw, the faculty member on the upper right corner looks of Solo U like he just swallowed a quart of bong water). Funniest of all is the “virtual law office” faculty chick- (she’s second from the right, bottom row). Does this virtual practice come with virtual clients and a virtual paycheck? To be fair, many lawyers do practice in a virtual way, but the problems is that these “lawyers” are located in Mumbai, Bangalore, and other Third World sweatshops and charge $25 a week to churn the same cut n’ paste shitpaper as Joe Schmoe Esq. down on Main Street USA. All with the American Biglaw Association (ABA’s) full blessing to boot. Let’s sing the “ABA Outsourcing Theme Song” to the old Gilligan’s Island tune:

 “No dues, no exams, no background checks, not a single CLE, like Robison Crusoe, it’s primitive as can be.”

And like Quinnipiac Law School (Susan C. Liebel’s former employer) you’ll be pleased to know that Solo Practice University’s entrance standards are “virtually” nonexistent! She has indeed learned well. Just fork over your credit card number and $595 later you’re on your way to Solo Practice nirvana. And away we go!

Doc review will look like a night on the town once you get a few “rubber check retainers” for some serial drunkard’s 4th DWI, or sit in some kerosene-reeking trailer park signing up an SSI disability scammer with bulging spinal discs, or chew No-Doz until 4 am filling out the 84,578 pages of HUD-1 dreck and title work toilet paper for some $300 fee residential real estate closing.

We found especially amusing the personal injury practice “negotiation” video, because we here at Big Debt are old veterans of the NYC plaintiff sewer. Save your $595, because Professor Law is 4 Losers can tell you everything you need to know about personal injury work in about 12 sentences:

First off, w/out a 7 figure ad budget you aren’t going to have any decent cases, so class is dismissed. Go have a beer. Second, if you do get a fender-bender whiplash case, the “negotiation’ with Allstate or State Farm will go something like this:

Shitlaw Solo: “Hi, I represent Mister Brokedick with a bulging lumbar disc and want to settle the case.”

Allstate: “We have it marked no pay. We will force you to trial and make 12,459 motions a day to bury you in paperwork. If the client had chicken pox in 1st grade we will make discovery motions for the HIPPA authorization for that and also seek authorizations for every other sniffle, sneeze or fart this bastard has squeezed since 1965. If the facilities don’t provide them, we’ll just make the motion over and over and over again until you give up. We have a team of lawyers we pay $5 an hour just to do this from Touro Law School. We know damn well you’re a solo and can’t afford to pay the treating doctor 5 K to testify if it gets that far. And even if you do and you win the trial, it’s only a 25 K policy, so you’ll have made nothing after expenses. By the way, go fuck yourself mister attorney. I am a high-school dropout claims adjuster and make 65 K a year with health benefits and you are a scrounging solo ambulance chaser buried up to your ass in debt!”

Really kids, where are you going to get the $210 it costs to buy an index number, the $95 to buy an RJI (request for judicial intervention), the $500 in photocopying fees to get the medical reports,/MRI films/X-rays, the $200 for deposition fees/transcripts, the $45 for each motion and (if you go to trial) the $5,000 a Board Certified Orthopedist gets for a morning of testimony? Just a handful of fender-bender cases and you’re looking at thousands of dollars in “fronting” expenses just to churn the files. Remember, this is on top of your student loans.

Oh, you’ll have the client pay expenses upfront? Good luck. Most personal injury victims are clumsy, illterate basket cases that don’t have a pot to piss in, but what they lack in $$$ they make up for in street smarts. Ask them for money and they’ll be changing lawyers inside of 30 seconds, probably to a big mill that has the juice to get them a 1-800-Lawcash loan shark advance too.

Wake up. This is the real fucking world kids, not some Erin Brokovich fairy tale. We at Big Debt write of the world as it is, not as we wish it to be. We’re dead serious when we warn you away from the solo practice pipedream. Not only does solo practice shitlaw offer lower hourly wages than mowing lawns and less job satisfaction than stocking shelves at Wal-Mart, it also features another fun thing called the “order to show cause to withdraw.” In law, when clients don’t pay, judges don’t care. You need to formally get the court’s permission to part ways with the non-paying, bellicose, and obstinate scum that constitute the “clients” of most shitlaw offices In the words of one wag, “they have big problems and empty pockets.”

Solo practice university, as we here at Big Debt well know, is little more than a modern-day recycling of the old “snipe hunt” prank. These jokers send the newbies forth in search of non-existent “clients” and wax poetic on the notions of “justice” and “making a difference” while laughing hysterically behind the poor sucker’s backs. I’d bet a week’s worth of food stamps that half these “professors” of solo shitlaw U have an uncle who was claims manager of an insurance company or some other family connection that 99% of the incoming suckers could only dream of. It takes serious money to start a law practice, and don’t let the Solo U cheerleaders convince you otherwise. They’re just salesman out to score a quick buck. 

Take this under advisement: A law practice isn’t a shoeshine stand, crack deal, or hot dog cart. You’ve gotta pay bar dues, CLE fees, malpractice insurance, court filing fees, your own health insurance, and a host of other expenses too numerous to list. Student loans are beyond crushing. It’s very easy to get in over your head, and a couple bounced retainer checks will have Access Group’s goons “accessing” your bank account. Short of dropping off $150,000 of seed money on your doorstep, there’s nothing Solo Practice U can do to help you. As the old saw goes, “wish in one hand and shit in the other, and see which one fills up first.”

Like all good salesman, the solo practice cheerleader’s purpose is not to teach you the “practice of law” or “how to network” or any other Oprah-esque, self esteem junkie nonsense.  Our society’s nonstop doses of ”feel good” syrup and “you’re very special” candy canes have rotted our collective teeth out already.  Most people graduating from law school aren’t special, and aren’t going to amount to a pint of cold piss in this devilish farce of a “profession.” Forty years go, no accredited law school would’ve even accepted the majority of the mouth-breathers enrolled today, and rightly so. Fact is, the ”solo cheerleaders” only want to make a sale, and the #1 key to making a sale is overcoming objections.  Consider this snippet:

Solo U Website: “The common preconception among law students is that starting a solo practice is unwise, if not downright impossible. Conventional wisdom says you should work for someone else for a few years to learn the ropes.”

Law is 4 Losers Translation: The common perception is wrong. YOU can succeed where others failed. YOU can beat the odds, YOU can defy the convention wisdom, etc. All you need to do is fork over $595 and the secrets of Solo Practice U will have you minting so much money you’ll need a Brinks truck to escort it to the bank while you follow in your Bentley sniffing blow off the dashboard.

It’s no different than the law school scam itself. These hucksters are so slick it’s as though they were the Valvoline Dean’s own understudies. When kids (and their parents) object to paying a 2nd tier boiler room “school” like Seton Hall $44,000 a year in tuition, the old “Valvoline Dean” Pat Hobbs just grins and points to the “average starting salary” of $125,000 listed in the brochure and extends a shiny pen.

“Dear God”, say the kids, “that’s only the “starting salary!” “Just imagine how well I’ll do 5 years out!” Hobbs flashes his soulless, oil-can grin and in three years the kids aren’t lunching at Sardi’s but instead sucking glue off their food stamps. The snack bar’s been relocated to the shithouse.

Kids, the sad truth is that a JD/law license is nothing special. Any mouth-breathing moron can drool on the LSAT, get admitted to a TTT, sleep thru the so-called “classes,” take BarBri, and get admitted. If the standards for medicine were as low as for law, the typical US life expectancy would be about age 6.  Cutting my Inspector Gadget Fan Club membership off the back of the Coco-Puffs box was more of an accomplishment than passing the NY/NJ bars. You might as well frame your driver’s license as hang a J.D. on the wall. It’s as watered-down a credential as there is and getting exponentially worse by the day. You don’t make tomato soup by squirting ketchup into a swimming pool, but that’s about as weak as this “profession’s” flavor is today, thanks to our pals at the ABA (American Biglaw Association), who just accredited 4 new law schools on Dec 5.

For a real laugh to ring in the new year, feature this: Solo Practice U now offers gift certificates for that “special” loser in your life. I’m not making this up:

We’ve had many requests from non-lawyer spouses, parents, girlfriends and boyfriends and even lawyers themselves who have wanted the option to purchase the ‘gift of education’ for the lawyer or law student in their life. Now you can do so and just in time for the holidays or even a ‘passed the bar exam’ present or simply because you want to help someone kick start their career in solo practice.  They are good for any occasion and available year-round.

Wow. Talk about a lump of coal in the old Xmas stocking. Maybe a better gift would be a tighter-fitting garage door so the carbon monoxide doesn’t escape while your resident loser-lawyer does himself in. Hell, would you rather be dispatched with the quick choke of exhaust fumes or the slow strangulation of starting a shitlaw “practice” with Sallie Mae riding shotgun? And you really have to chuckle (or wretch) at the “requests from spouses, parents and girlfriends” pouring into good old Solo Practice U. Like Al-Anon families, these folks are collateral damage in the law school bloodbath. It’s hard for laypeople to comprehend just how utterly hopeless and abysmal this industry has lately become, especially with noxious drivel like Boston Legal flooding the airwaves 24-7. Let’s be perfectly clear: For most, a law degree confers nothing but a lifetime of non-dischargble debt, sporadic and miserable employment, stress, bitter disappointment, and wages well south (after loans are deducted) than that of a truck driver, garbage man, or bricklayer. These “loser” grads aren’t just statistics, lest we forget. They’re real people-our friends from law school, from projects, from practice.

 Here’s a fact: law school salary numbers aren’t exaggerated or puffed or coiffed or stretched. They’re outright lies. I’ve been in this game 5 years and can’t name a single attorney I know making more than 60 K. Not one. This is in NY City. Almost everyone I know is either unemployed or working in some doc review boiler room for embarrassingly low wages and no health insurance.  Most are already so jaded and ground-down by this perpetual misery that they just plain want out. Who can blame them? Only a true sociopath could take any satisfaction or pride from the mind-numbing boredom, vapid make-work, elitist pricks, gutter wages, crushing stress, and complete ethical cesspool that is the “practice of law” in our time. It’s nothing more than a giant Ponzi scheme with a tiny handful of “winners” and rapidly growing hordes of very pissed-off “losers.” 

Rather than piss $595 away on a worthless Solo U pipedream, I suggest that all shitlawyers send their families the link to our blog (as well as others in our blogroll at right).  Encourage them to read the many horror stories and shattered dreams posted in the comments section and elsewhere. You are not alone. Unlike Solo Practice U, we charge no tuition and make no false promises. We’ve rubbed the law school lamp too, and no genie was released. Our only goal here is to kick the oinking snouts of the law school pigs who grow forever fatter at the federally-backed tuition loan trough. These swine squeal and bleat about pro-bono work while collecting their six-digit paychecks and jacking up tuition at 5 times the rate of inflation like the hypocritical limousine liberals that they are. We here at Big Debt would like to wish all the absolute worst on them, their families, and their health for 2010. It’s past time these shysters reap some of the misery they’ve sown.

The only surefire cure for the “disease” of a J.D. is to run fast and far from this swirling sewer of an industry before you are sucked down the toilet with the other “solo” rabbit turds. If you’re on unemployment in NJ, you qualify for free tuition at any of the community college tech schools. Our advice here at Big Debt is to roll up your sleeves and load up your toolbox. Thanks to a generation of propogandist “college for everyone” drivel, there’s an acute shortage of HVAC repair techs, plumbers, electricians, and other skilled tradesman. Don’t believe us? Call a plumber and a lawyer and see who can get there first. By the way, ask the plumber if he’s willing to install your faucets “pro bono” because you have no money. After all, running water is surely as important as your legal problems (and plumbers are VERY expensive), so just tell him he should do it for free in the public interest. Try the same thing with your auto mechanic, roofer, HVAC guy, and electrician. You’ll quickly find that only the “law” is so fixated on the merits of giving expensive professional services away to deadbeats for free. Here at Big Debt we’ve long argued against any and all pro bono work. Why? Because by so doing, one reinforces in the public’s mind that the service provided is worthless. This is especially true when rendering an “intangible” product like law, one that looks to a layperson like nothing more than a stack of very boring paperwork. (Imagine that!)

In summation, starting a “solo practice” in 2010 is like selling saltwater on a lifeboat: people are already surrounded by an infinite quantity of this worthless and unpalatable resource.  Drinking that saline-soaked Kool Aid will kill you faster than thrist.  Just open up your hometown Yellow Pages and count the 500 or so pages of desperate solo shitlawyers begging for DWI, real estate, personal injury, and other “common folk” law. When you’ve finished that assignment, we recommend a “bonus tour” of craigslist’s  legal services section, where the truly desperate bottom feeders hang out. Like catfish, these barristers subsist on a steady diet of legal excrement, the carrion every other lawyer has already turned down. Some of these “craigslisters” will even shovel your snow or clean your gutters during your free 7-hour consultation. When you’ve completed this “lawyer-counting” assignment, ask yourselves how many lawyers you (and your family) have needed in your life and divide this by the number of lawyers you’ve counted in your area. Lawyers aren’t much for arithmetic, but this is what’s known as “doing the math.” And unlike Solo Practice U, these numbers don’t lie.