Monday, January 10, 2011

Great Start to 2011!

I'm coming into this a bit late in the game, but I am overwhelmed by the response I have received to the recent NYT article which included a link to Rose Colored Glasses. I think the article explores many important points. If there is a weakness, it is that the author should have mentioned more of the scamblogs such as "But I Did Everything Right!", Jobless Juris Doctor, and numerous others that I link to in my blog roll.

The fact that this movement is finally getting real, mainstream publicity makes me very happy. I have been accused by some of whining and looking for pity, or feeling entitled, but the fact is that if all this blog is is a chance for me to rant about how miserable I am in law school and the legal field, and for like minded people to respond in kind, it hasn't done anyone much good. The real point is to reach people who are CONSIDERING applying to or enrolling in law school and make sure that they really know what they are getting in to. I honestly don't think it is my job to be “fair and balanced” because frankly, the 0Ls get enough law school cheerleading in the echo chambers that are admissions boards. It is my goal to make sure that the pitfalls get any attention at all. The other side is well-covered and well-funded. It wouldn't be productive for me to pay token lip service to a bunch of pro-law arguments that I do not espouse.

While no one is entitled to a job, no less a six figure job, one thing that we are ALL entitled to is transparency when we are making a huge financial investment, and I would hope that even the law school apologists could agree on that. The more transparency the better, and the fact that the NYT article was the most emailed article yesterday can only be a step in the right direction.

29 comments:

  1. This is a problem that only appears to be getting worse. What is most troubling is what this may mean for the economy at large. It is quite a shame to be in such a whole at such a young age. My blog addresses this topic frequently and also addresses the New York Times article (including a fictional parable at the beginning that I created) which I think puts the discussion in focus. Great job on your blog and for being included in the NY Times article.

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  2. Great to have so many joining the movement. Looks like others are willing to join forces. Let's tackle the higher education industry.

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  3. Rose, I was pleasantly surprised that the Times chose to cite your blog. Now, you must stay in the fight!

    I am glad that you have had a great start to the new year. Don't forget that a (TTT) law journal will soon publish a piece on the scam-blogs.

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  4. Thanks Nando! I was shocked. My guess is that they included it just so they would have one from a current student to add to the mix. And yes, the increase in traffic has definitely been motivating.

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  5. As a result of the "scam bloggers'" incessant whining, I would urge law schools to simply not post ANY employment data whatsoever. It is not their job to collect such data in the first place and nothing requires it. I agree that if schools do publish data, then it should be accurate, but in the future, I think the schools should stop publishing it altogether. That would end the whining.

    Bottom line: A law school's business is education - not data reporting. Leave employment reporting data to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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  6. @2:18

    Oh my God! That's like saying:

    "You don't know what's inside the Pickle Barrel, until you get the lid off it!"

    You want to apply the Pickel Barrel analogy to a 6 figure investment, while the student stares at the sealed Pickle Barrel for three years, after which he or she opens it and most likely finds their ultimalte DOOM inside!

    And then to suggest that the buck be passed on to the Labor Statistics Bureau is really cunning, though a bit sleazy.

    And of course: You blame the victims and call them "Whiners"

    In the absence of Bankruptcy Human Rights Protections, your argument has no merit all,and is really a cruel one, and a twisted view of Life.

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  7. I was going to try to respond but but only a troll could honestly suggest that a school should not be obligated to present employment prospects to a person who is about to drop $150K for a degree there. And if you are not a troll and actually think that you are beyond my ability to reason with.

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  8. The problem is endemic to all of academia and almost all graduate schools, not just law school. I'm not sure if it makes things better or worse.

    But seriously, if you are going to post data to recruit students, the data ought to be non-fraudulent.

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  9. Paralegal schools are just as bad...they promise that you'll be making a great salary and the student loan will be no problem. You graduate and then all you get is $20-$25K per year, which will keep you in student loan debt for 15 years. I realize now that the recruiter's job is to sell a space in the school and no matter how low your salary is, you are a success story because you are working.

    Naturally I feel scammed... I was making more than $25k in a non-legal job before I got laid off and went to paralegal school. I could make $25K without the paralegal training, and I wouldnt have a student loan now.

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  10. This was E-maled to me...Interesting..

    Boies Schiller: Work Hard--Very Hard--Then Count the Moolah
    Vivia Chen

    2010

    We're taking a break from our roster of megafirms to speak with Alan Vickery, hiring partner of Boies, Schiller & Flexner. As every law student knows, the firm was founded by litigation superstar and former Cravath partner David Boies and a handful of other lawyers in 1997. The urban--or suburban--legend is that the firm started in Boies's garage in Armonk, New York. Now at 240 lawyers with a thriving Manhattan office, the firm is a litigation dynamo that reported profits per partner of $2.88 million in 2009.


    The Boies legend must loom large at your firm. Is the place full of baby Boieses--sharp, iconoclastic law grads with a taste for gambling?
    What's typical is the diversity of personality and style at the firm. David has a broad scope of interests and abilities; he sends a strong signal that individualism is tolerated and encouraged. For instance, there's lots of support for our work on Prop 8 [where the firm is arguing against the ban on gay marriage in California], but there are also lots of Federalist Society members here. There's no sense of someone not fitting in because of their views. The idea of a stuffy lawyer is inconceivable here.

    I guess it's hard to be stuffy when Armonk is one of your major hubs. I'm curious: Do those bright young things actually want to work in Armonk?
    Armonk is a fabulous recruiting tool! Each year there are people who refuse to work in New York--people with families who want to be in the suburbs but want New York-type work.

    Who are your competitors in the hiring game?
    The usual suspects: Wachtell, Davis Polk, Cravath. And if they're looking for a [litigation] boutique, it'd be Susman Godfrey, Williams & Connolly, or Quinn Emanuel.


    Why should someone go to Boies Schiller instead of one of those competitors?
    People have more autonomy here. We give them discretion as to how they work and where they work from. They can call in from their weekend house, work from home, telecommute. At big firms, you have to be there and put in face time.

    End of (A) Continued..

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  11. Cont (B)..

    So how might law firms conduct hiring differently? Well, they might look to their finance and consulting brethren. Banks and consultancies have long relied on sophisticated interviewing techniques to choose their incoming crew. In the course of the hiring process, applicants can expect case studies, group clinics, mini-projects, short presentations and peer reviews. The obvious goal is to immerse applicants in a simulacrum of what their real work would be, while showcasing leadership skills, project management capabilities, ability to work within time constraints, and networking ability. In this more competitive hiring market, will law firms adopt similar measures — e.g., asking applicants to engage in group exercises or to review case studies? In the UK, intensified application procedures are already the norm. Magic Circle firms such as Linklaters and Allen & Overy require applicants to analyze a commercial case study as if advising a client, pick out the salient points, and present their conclusions to partners.



    Psychometric testing is another avenue for US law firms to consider. In the UK, Linklaters employs a critical reasoning test, typically consisting of 30 minutes for 30 or more questions that gauge verbal, numerical, diagrammatic or spatial reasoning. Psychometric testing is also used for personality assessment. Proponents trust that such evaluations inform how recruits will interact with each other and with existing teams, and give clues as to motivation levels, work style or ability to perform under stressful situations. UK law firms Dundas & Wilson, Dickinson Dees and Olswang are believers; all employ such testing and/or personality questionnaires. In the US, some law firms are already paying greater attention to candidates’ psychological attributes. California-based Orrick, for example, briefs its interviewers in behavioral interviewing techniques.



    It is clear that the recruiting climate of 2011 will be vastly different— and not solely due to a global financial crisis. Other factors are also at work: the growing influence of technology, the scope of legal outsourcing, evolving structures for law firm ownership, mergers, trends towards greater transparency, demographic shifts and rapidly-liberalizing legal markets (e.g., South Korea and India). Law firms that craft sophisticated, efficient and cost-effective methods for finding and developing talent —and the law grads who swiftly and unflinchingly adapt to a hiring landscape so very different from that which existed when they entered their professional programs — will have a competitive advantage.

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  12. "While no one is entitled to a job, no less a six figure job, one thing that we are ALL entitled to is transparency when we are making a huge financial investment."

    This is a near-perfect way of stating the point. With other investments, such as a home or a stock purchase, either the common law set up strong fraud protections (the former) or the federal government realized there needed to be broad protections a long time ago (the latter, back in the 1930s).

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  13. Can we start a class action law suit? I mean, the schools have clearly been engaged in fraudulent misrepresentation. But for their misrep, would the majority of us have gone to law school?

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  14. Unknown Shill @ January 11, 2011 2:18 AM said:
    "A law school's business is education - not data reporting."

    What a stupid comment.

    The crux of the whole problem is that they don't even educate. They do not teach one how to practice law. Rather, law school is only an arbitrary stop-over on the way to the bar exam. It is an outmoded inefficiency which is simply a cash cow for undergrad programs of their associated universities, or, alternatively, their for-profit owners.

    Bottom Line: They don't "educate" anyone. You learn the law in a bar review course, then hope somehow, somewhere, you learn to practice. Law school does none of that for you.

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  15. @ Jan 11, 10:19pm: You are calling a true statement "stupid." Maybe you dislike the true statement? Or maybe you wish the truth were different? However, no comment is stupid which presents a truth.

    The bottom line is that a law school IS UNDER NO LEGAL DUTY, nor IS IT A SCHOOL'S CORE FUNCTION to gather employment reporting data for the legal sector. Should it be? Argue away.

    Btw, if you disagree with the legal education that you received, then go sell your local legislature on reform to stop requiring law school for bar licensing. I wish you the best.

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  16. Why did my last comment get deleted? Did it offer a dissenting view? Did it offer "the other side of the argument?" Censorship is no way to promote a message.

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  17. Thanks for this blog. You and the other scam-bloggers have really turned me away from going to law school as the answer to my quarter-life crisis. As a TFA dropout, I was looking for another way to help people and to redeem myself at the same time. I was getting hopeful that law school would be the solution. However, I realized that I was looking at law school the same way I looked at TFA: with RCG. Your blog and others have only affirmed this for me, and I am grateful for your illumination of the law school scam. Thank you. Keep up the good work and good luck with the rest of your third year. Ja na.

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  18. Cruggs, I don't know what happened but I do not delete comments unless they are spam and I have not deleted any comments from this thread. If you take a look at other comments you will see that I never delete comments with dissenting viewpoints - that is very important to me. In fact, I try to respond to them. Feel free to re-post your comment if you so desire.

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  19. I like your posts. Keep up the good work. I am an RN and I try to get the word out (by mouth) to others not to go the nursing route for similar reasons (that would be its own blog). I had considered changing careers to law and since the NY Times and a few blogs -- I have reconsidered. Stuck in my nursing gig for awhile.

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  20. 3-5 years of education should give you a job or at least a shot at one if you act like a normal person. If not something is very wrong. And of course the job market information must be correct.

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  21. rose, i cannot thank you and the other bloggers enough for writing about your experiences. i was extremely close to re-entering graduate school, AGAIN, at age 43 and pursuing a law degree at a top-tier school. and i'd be paying sticker price for said privilege. i was told that with my MA and PhD in art history i would add something like "texture" to the law school class. my PhD, though enjoyable, is pretty much useless; i had hoped by going to law school i could make the world a better place by writing a better employment contract for physicians. considering i would be 46 at the end of this process (and according to the nyx article way past my shelf life of usefulness), i'm thinking that debt would linger...and i'd have yet another useless graduate degree. you and the others have most definitely helped me realize i need to stop and think this through much more thoroughly before continuing down this path. i'd also like to add that the person who commented above me about the 3 to 5 year thing is completely incorrect--i know a remarkable number of "normal"-acting people (myself included) with 5, 10, and even 15 years of post-graduate study under their belts who are woefully un- or under-employed. if it only took a few years of education and being "normal" i'd imagine we'd all be in great shape.

    thank you!

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  22. "You can't argue that people should exercise personal responsibility and then not give them the information on which to base it."

    ~Professor John F. Banzhaf III of George Washington University Law School (from the documentary "Super Size Me")

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  23. Good work on the blog Rose. I stumbled across it via the NYTimes piece. Over here in England undergrad students are facing a new funding regime where their tuition fees will treble and accrue positive real interest rates (the loans had been pegged at inflation before). It looks to me that the situation in US law schools is a magnified version of what many young students in England will face in future. As some comment above, qualification inflation means that high-level degrees are no guarantee of a career, yet social pressures lead people towards a credentialist higher education where the good is the bit of paper you get at the end of the degree rather than any education itself. The trouble is, how can an education system become more rational without putting off talented people who would genuinely benefit from it? And to broaden the point, an emerging debate over here is that the younger generation is being sold out by a generation that benefited from growth, positive wealth effects of rising house prices and only the working class suffered as manufacturing jobs moved to low cost economies. Working class kids got themselves degrees, became middle class, and now economics is catching up as those professional jobs are move to rapidly developing countries. It's difficult to see any obvious answers beyond proposing that education shouldn't be regarded in narrow, utilitarian and vocational terms. Pushing the idea that studying is intellectually interesting but no guarantee of high earnings would limit the growth of an education system that exploits (many of) the very people it purports to help.

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  24. Hey, I just discovered your blog and the whole law school-scam-blog genre, but I am most gratified to have done so because I have been thinking about all this for years. I graduated from Pitt Law School in 1993, in the middle of a downturn in legal employment. I went to law school on the advice of one whose opinion I valued, who had assured me that a law degree would be valuable even if I didn't end up practicing law. I had aptitude, if you believe the LSAT; I scored a 46, which placed me in the 99.2 percentile. Well, I wound up hating the study of law. I also came to understand that the great economic rewards the public associates with the law usually don't happen, and when they do, it's only after grinding toil. Hmm...a career involving a punishing amount of work of the dullest sort...I definitely was not cut out for that! I didn't care for most of my fellow law students very much, either; they tended to be boring grinds or, more irritatingly, incipient Babbits. When I would express my dissatisfactions with the law as a field of study or a career, other students tended to get uncomfortable, as if I'd espoused some kooky idea unworthy of serious discussion. It was lonely, being an unenthusiastic pessimist in law school. My grades were above average, but not good enough to get me on law review. BigLaw wouldn't give me the time o' day. That was actually OK by me; hell, my lack of enthusiasm probably showed. Unfortunately, my efforts to get clerkships or shitlaw jobs came to nothing. I'm a government (county) lawyer today, but it would never have happened if not for my father's connections with certain county commissioners, which early on helped me to get a part-time public defender job so I could gain know-how and experience. Am I uncomfortably aware of how much I have benefitted from connections? You bet your ass. I truly believe that, without my father's political connections, I would have been completely fucked as far as working in the law goes. Oh, and of course, as a government lawyer, I've never made much money, and my job security depends on elections and other political developments, thus inducing stress I could do without. I just wanted to share my story, and thus add my voice to the rest of those exhorting young people to avoid the scam that is law school, the unfulfilling career that is the law, and the quagmire of debt through which so many young lawyers are toiling.

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  25. I just want to echo Stephan(9:24 am) and others whose comments made me think about another article I just read on-line in the Economist: "The disposable academic. Why doing a PhD is often a waste of time." (Dec. 16, 2010). Chins up!

    http://www.economist.com/node/17723223

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  26. I always say that the biggest beneficiaries of law schools are NEVER the law graduates, but the law firms and other employers of law graduates.

    Another beneficiary of law schools is the faculty and the administration running the law schools.

    In this capitalistic society, why would the law school industry in general make the law graduates the biggest beneficiaries, when the people running the law industry are law firms, employers of law graduates, and the faculty??

    As a corrollary, college education in the US mainly benefits corporate America, who are the employers of college graduates. Education in the US produces workers for corporate Americam not citizens for the society.

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  27. I'm far from jumping on this "anti" Law School bandwagon but I respect your assertion of transparency. I'm blessed to have landed a great job in a great market but some of my good friends were not as fortunate. Many say they didn't know it was THIS bad. I say BS because I knew. If I knew (and I'm not the most academically gifted person) then they could have found the info. We have to remember that the nature of what we do is manipulative. Its a control based business where manipulation of facts and flow of information is paramount. In no way am I advocating lying but the people that control this (ABA,LS Admissions, USNews) all have motives and droves of lawyers that have been playing this game since before we were born. The only way to fix this "problem" is by doing our research before jumping into the shark tank. And I don't mean just googling Law School scam. I'm talking about going to schools and talking to the middle percentile students. Talking to local small and middle firm lawyers. The work comes from us. Great blog.

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  28. Join the pro-democracy protesters in the Middle East. Go to Egypt and help the people build their democracy. Or go to Algeria and fight with them. Bahrain is another country that needs people like you, lawyers who still have some ideals.

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  29. Present day individuals are selective when deciding on metal glasses since they are one of the main equipment of males, females and kids.

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