Sunday, January 22, 2012


I've posted very little, lately, but this article shook me out of my torpor. Surprisingly, it does not deal with law.

The article, How Much You Study In College Determines What You'll Get Paid For The Rest Of Your Life, cites a 2008 study alleging a strong correlation between studying time and future earnings. It ends with the advice, "It's proof that hard work, not IQ, is what really makes people successful." When you stop laughing, read on.

Speaking as someone who spent every spring break in the library, so as to knock off papers and free time for exams, I call BS. I also learned first-hand about group dynamics: In an eight-member group, three people will do all the work.

After graduating magna cum laude, including good grades in my major, business administration, I then scrambled for permanent, full-time work, finally finding some in July. Following a couple of shit jobs — if you ever work for a small company and see fifteen different initials in the files, it's a shit job — I departed for law school. My college GPA helped smooth the way. College so soured me on the payback for hard work that I didn't focus on my law school grades. Guess how that turned out?

Back in the mid-1990s, I briefly had a small web site for which I wrote an essay called Don't Work for Clowns. It's printed out somewhere and I'll post it when I find it. In the interim, here's some advice that is worth every penny you've paid for it.

  1. Don't work for clowns
  2. Work smart, not hard. Learned this from my high school gym teacher, who was otherwise an asshole, and, in retrospect, it's the best advice I've ever gotten. A memorable ad (WSJ?) expressed it more eloquently: "If you keep your nose to the grindstone, all you'll get is a flat nose"
  3. Who you know is more important than what you know. A corollary for you corporate types is that who you drink with, matters
  4. Network. This doesn't mean cold-calling alumni, though you can try that. It means getting involved and making contacts. In short, you should be constantly, unintentionally networking. It's essential to business and influence but doesn't come naturally to most people
  5. Have wealthy, well-connected parents. You don't? Me, neither. Sucks to be us
  6. Your reward for doing good work is more work
  7. Again, for you corporate types, I was once given the advice to be nice to everyone because you never know who your next boss will be. This came to pass one day, fortunately, with me becoming the boss

I'm writing this from work on a Sunday. FML.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Judge Cabranes tells schools to take their head out of their ass

Calling the presTTTigious law school cartel out has now evolved from scamblogging into a 2nd Circuit judge speaking at a legal educators convention.

There's an interesting National Law Journal article, one of several I've read, on the Association of American Law Schools annual meeting. The conference focused on the sorry state of legal education. Given that the participants were mostly the ones responsible for the sorry state of legal education, albeit with lots of help from Uncle Sugar, the hand-wringing was about as contrived as the grieving at a North Korean dictator's funeral. At the end of the day, they said much and will accomplish about as little as OWS.

Enter Judge Cabranes. Cabranes is the stuff of TLS wet dreams, though they'd probably ban his ass posthaste if he ever showed up there. The judge has three issues with legal education: Cost, student debt, and irrelevant scholarship by the faculty. His proposed solution involves a two-year curriculum of core courses — Space Law is OUT — followed by a third year either apprenticing with practicing attorneys or working, for compensation, in a school clinic. Schools would lose out on the third year of tuition. Sounds promising, but if it stood a snowball's chance in hell of being taken seriously, the judge would find a horse's head in his bed. I have my own thoughts on legal reform that differ markedly from the judge's; however, he has to deal with the schools' output on a daily basis and is in a better position to speak than I am.

The main import from all this isn't that legal education sucks or that people are philosophizing about solutions. Instead, it's the level at which the discussion is occurring. Not too long ago, someone making these comments would have had to post them anonymously and accept being scorned as a bitter loser who didn't network hard enough, and he or she would mostly be preaching to the choir. Now, the comments are coming from the top of the "profession" and being delivered straight to the academy.

C'mon, Congress, it's time for the hammer.

Friday, January 6, 2012

TTThat was the year TTThat was

Happy New Year, all!

The legal industry shed 2,700 jobs during 2011 and spread holiday cheer to about 1,800 people in December. Commenting on the statistics, ABA President and Chief Deck Chair Arranger, William Robinson, told debt-saddled lawyers and their legislators to, "Go f*ck yourself."

Not seasonally adjustedDecember20101,118,300
Seasonally adjustedDecember20101,113,700
Change from November 11-December 11-1,800