Thursday, March 31, 2011

Newsflash - Senator Boxer calls out ABA

Press Release of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer

For Immediate Release:
March 31, 2011  
Washington D.C. Office (202) 224-3553

Boxer Calls on American Bar Association to Ensure Accurate and Transparent Data Reporting by Law Schools

Recent Reports Suggest Misleading Post-Graduation Employment and Salary Information Used to Skew Influential National Rankings of Law Schools

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today called on the American Bar Association (ABA) to improve its oversight of admissions and post-graduation information reported by law schools across the country.

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

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

March 31, 2011  

Stephen N. Zack
American Bar Association
740 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20005-1019

Dear Mr. Zack:  

As you know, recent news articles have raised concerns about the reporting of admissions and post-graduation information by the American Bar Association and law schools across the country. It is essential that students deciding if and where to attend law school have access to information that is accurate and transparent. The ABA, as the accrediting body charged with oversight of the nation’s law schools, must ensure standards and accountability.  

As the economy continues to recover from the recession, many new law school graduates are struggling to find jobs as attorneys. According to Northwestern University, at least 15,000 legal jobs with large firms have disappeared since 2008. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the number of people employed in legal services has decreased from a high of 1.2 million in 2007, to less than 1 million in 2009. Experts predict that fewer than 30,000 new attorney positions per year will be available to the more than 44,000 law school graduates entering the marketplace each year.  

This very serious problem takes on greater significance when viewed in the context of news articles highlighting law schools that allegedly falsify post-graduation and salary information in attempts to increase their position in the annual U.S. News and World Report rankings.  

Most students reasonably expect to obtain post-graduation employment that will allow them to pay off their student loan debts, and rely on this information - which may be false at worst and misleading at best - to inform their decision.  

As reported in the New York Times and other publications, the ABA allows law schools to report salary information of the highest earning graduates as if it were representative of the entire class. Also, when reporting critical post-graduation employment information, law schools are not distinguishing between graduates practicing law full-time from those working part-time or in non-legal fields.  

I understand that some ABA members have been pressing for reform, that the ABA has appointed committees to review ways to increase oversight and transparency, and that U.S. News and World Report has requested greater transparency from law school deans. These are good first steps, but more must be done to ensure potential students have a full understanding of the costs and benefits of a legal education. 

I am requesting that you provide me with a detailed summary of the ABA’s plans to implement reforms to its current procedures to ensure access to accurate and transparent information for prospective law school students.  

Thank you for your attention to this matter.  


Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

O noes!

Yale Law applications are down 16.5%. The decrease has administrators quaking in their boots. Just kidding.

While the decrease is real, and mirrors that of peer schools, no one is losing sleep. As far as I can tell, all ABA schools have more-than-ample applicants to fill their 1L class. Granted they'll have to dig deeper into the applicant pool to maintain class size, but in Yale's case that means replacing one 173/3.9 with another 173/3.9 who previously would have had to settle for Columbia.

Hell, even Touro, which is as presTTTigious as they come, had only a 38% acceptance rate in 2009 according to Law School Numbers. For comparison, Yale's rate was 7%. Put simply, Touro will shrug off an applicant drop like a spring rain, replacing one future justice with another future justice.

A misguided blogger suggested that 1Ls and 2Ls could harm schools by dropping out. En masse, sure, but that will never happen. These are lemmings we're talking about.

Meanwhile, over at Yale ...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Drama Queen

Good post today by ex-scamblogger Kimber Russell over at Shilling Me Softly. In response to an Ivy-educated nitwit who wants to leave a cushy, albeit unglamorous federal job to go to law school, she replies,
"I hate to say it, but in my opinion, the JD is on its way to becoming the drama major of graduate degrees. I began my college career as a theater major, and it was understood even by the thickest freshman that most of us would never be big stars and that we would have to supplement any income derived from acting by waiting tables or working at Starbucks. That's the future I predict for the JD."
Bingo. This is the best, most succinct prognosis I've seen.

In the ABA's fumbling haste to open the "profession" to anyone who can fog a mirror, it trashed it. I'd argue that a J.D. has even less value than a B.A. in Drama, to wit:
  • A J.D. requires seven years of schooling in most jurisdictions versus typically four for the B.A.
  • A J.D. automatically overqualifies you for many positions. Prospective employers expect you to leave as soon as something better comes along. Not so the B.A., which is synonymous with starving actors.
  • Law schools are cash cows. The worst are the standalone ones not affiliated with a university. How many standalone drama schools do you know of?
  • It's a lot harder to ship drama jobs off to Bollywood than legal jobs off to Mumbai
  • There's no Top Drama Schools forum.
  • Most law schools are accrediTTTed by the worst "professional" organization on the planet. Can't say that about drama schools.

Give the ABA a couple of years and it will achieve parity between a J.D. and a B.A. in Drama. Some day, little girls in Nebraska will dream of leaving their hometown to spend $500K attending Hofstra and then working in shitlaw in Queens. If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere ...

To the nitwit who wrote into SMS, remember the story of the sparrow.
Once upon a time, there was a non-conforming sparrow who decided not to fly south for the winter. However, soon the weather turned so cold that he reluctantly started to fly south. In a short time ice began to form on his wings and he fell to earth in a barnyard. Almost frozen, a cow passed by and crapped on the little sparrow. The sparrow thought it was the end. But, the manure warmed him and defrosted his wings. Warm and happy, able to breathe, he started to sing. Just then, a large cat came by and hearing the chirping, investigated the sounds. The cat cleared away the manure, found the chirping bird and ate him. Morals to the Story
  1. Everyone who shits on you is not necessarily your enemy.
  2. Everyone who gets you out of the shit is not necessarily your friend.
  3. And, if you're warm and happy in a pile of shit, keep your mouth shut!!!

Monday, March 28, 2011


Entrepreneurs have unveiled a site, Shpoonkle, to mate brokeass clients with brokeass attorneys. Find a need and fill it.

Briefly, prospective clients pose their legal quandary and lawyers bid on resolving it. Bids can be hourly rate, contingency, flat fee, or pro bono. In short, a reverse-auction eBay for legal services, with both a Priceline name-your-price model and competition from Indian LPOs sure to follow. What could possibly go wrong?

There was an old motorcycle helmet ad that went, "If you have a $20 head, buy a $20 helmet." Thanks to Shpoonkle, should that $20 helmet fail you can go to court with (what's left of) your head held high to seek ju$tice against the manufacturer, all the while represented by the low bidder. Hell, even the People's Democratic Republic of New Jersey allows towns to go with the lowest responsible bidder. Seems you get what you pay for.

Soon-to-be-brokeass students are also welcome to register; Shpoonkle dont (sic) need no stinkin' resume. The ad below (click on it to enlarge) effectively tells you you're fucked, but it's undoubtedly a fake created by a bitter JDU loser. Feel free to ignore it. The site will aggressively defend you when the inevitable malpractice suit hits. I kill me.

Shpoonkle fits right in with a presTTTigious "profession" that daily plumbs new depths in compensation and dignity. Let me know when there are corresponding sites for doctors, dentists, auditors and other actual professions.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Unpaid jobs becoming the new normal

Employers now expect people to work for free, minimum wage laws be damned. Seems the number of people looking for work far exceeds demand and employers would rather take a chance with brokeass interns than pay a living wage. You can now go to school for seven years for the opportunity to work for nothing. Woot!

PresTTTigious shitlaw firms have jumped in feet first. In their case you may obtain the training and experience you should have gotten in school but didn't, avoid a résumé gap, and possibly get a reference. It's win-win, for the school and law firm, anyway.

The Labor Department is well aware of what is going on and auditing and fining companies. My prediction is that presTTTigious employers will begin CHARGING to work, probably by billing the hapless graduate for the trainer's time and also for overhead (desk, phone, office equipment, etc.). If you're lucky, a partner may even let you carry his presTTTigious briefcase for free when you accompany him to court.

P.S.: Legal "internships" on Craigslist are almost always illegal. Flag them as prohibited. Click on the following for samples.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sharp Dressed Man

They come running just as fast as they can, 'cause every firm's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man. This beauty's been making the rounds on JDU and Shit Law Jobs.

Lawyer (Philadlphia)

Date: 2011-03-22, 10:13AM EDT
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]


What is Great About you ?Are you a maverick ? I am looking for an attorney to help my law practice the following areas of Law:
Legal Malpractice,
Consumer Protection and
Real Estate Law.
Must be elegant and contribute to happiness. Must be a sharp dresser.
No casuals, please.

Location: Philadelphia
Compensation: $25,000 or more

Location: Philadlphia
This is a contract job.
Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
Please, no phone calls about this job!
Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

PostingID: 2279487075

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Born too late

Most of you know that TTT is an abbreviation of Third Tier Toilet. It used to connote a low-ranked institution but has become an all-purpose pejorative used either sarcastically or derisively or both.

The term comes from the moribund US News & World Report's system of ranking schools, particulary law schools, by splitting them into tiers and ranking only the top schools. USNWR's annual ratings issue is like catnip to the prestige-addled legal academy, immediately seized upon and parsed and agonized over. The influence a single, private company has over the ABA-accredited schools and their applicants is awe-inspiring; its headquarters might as well be at the summit of Mount Sinai.

Back in the good old days, prior to March 15, 2011, both USNWR and conventional wisdom spread the approximately 200 ABA schools evenly among four tiers. The top 100 schools comprising Tiers 1 and 2 were numerically ranked. The next groups were split into Tiers 3 and 4 and deemed worthy only of being listed alphabetically within their tier.

The ABA wastes much breath propounding what a noble, dignified, and progressive profession law is. The fact is that lax accreditation standards ensure there are many more graduates than legal jobs. The sole reason for Tier 3 and 4 schools to exist is to separate ignorant and greedy students from their money while providing comfortable livings to the faculty and administration. But, I digress.

Had I started this blog two weeks earlier its title wouldn't have been archaic. In one fell swoop, USNWR began ranking the top 75% schools numerically and reserved its undistinguished alphabetical listing for the absolute toilets that now make up the second tier. Bye bye, Third Tier. Overnight, prestttigious schools such as Wayne State became merely prestigious. Nando addressed the new rankings with his usual subtlety.

Eventually, which won't be long, the useful concept of the third tier will fade into obscurity. It was good while it lasted. Keep in mind that the numerical rankings are mostly meaningless and, except for elite schools, distinctions without a difference. Yale or fail.

Finally, my own alma mater has been in continual decline and is currently ranked #84. I was waiting for it to fall into the Third Tier but fate intervened.