Students Pay So Professors Can Play

After I posted the article written by Professor Tamanaha yesterday, there was one portion of his article that stayed with me. The more I thought about it, my blood began to simmer until it reached a full boil. This post is not directed at him, but at the law school system. Tamanaha is emerging as the new law school conscience.

While reading the the cut backs he outlined that will be necessary to reduce the scam, it hit me just how high on the hog law professors are living off of debt burdened students:

This will be painful: smaller raises (perhaps even salary reductions), smaller administrations, smaller faculties, more teaching, less money for research, travel, and conferences.

Here’s the translation: Smaller raises or salary reductions (we might make $325,000 rather than $350,000) smaller administrations (we will have to book our own travel), smaller faculties (we will have to teach more than one course per semester) more teaching (more exams to grade) less money for research (for our articles that no one reads) travel (giving speeches on the article no one read in Hawaii in January) conferences (hooking up with that hot Con law prof from another TTT).

And this comment set me on fire: I too want to earn as much as I can, with lots of time for research, knowing that this is paid for by students.

Well, I too, would like more time for writing, but the difference is I don’t expect others to pay for it with a scam. Here’s the kicker: more people read my “vulgar” blog in a day then will ever read anything these overpaid pseudo intellectuals put out in their lives.

While I think it is wonderful that at least one professor knows that reforms are needed, he doesn’t seem to realize how wrong it is that for years they let students go into debt they can never repay so professors could travel to conferences and turn out law journals that no one except their mothers read, and even they probably don’t read more than the first page.

So in an effort to show you what happens after a law school has robbed a student of $120,000 + and their dream of becoming a practicing attorney, let me show you a day in the life of a Jobless JD. This is what happens after the scam money has been collected and the student leaves without a job in hand:

It starts about 2 AM for me, when I wake up with my heart pounding, wondering what I am going to do. What bill should I pay this month? Electric, gas, rent, all past due. I decide I will pay for gas and electric, go without food, because I still want to lose a few pounds and I have some rice and yogurt left that I can eat this week.

I get up and stare out the window and wonder for the ten millionth time what the hell I was thinking when I decided to go to law school. I play the would have / could have / should have game (If only I wouldn’t have gone to law school, I could have worked and I wouldn’t have debt, I should have thought this out) That usually gets me to 6 AM.

I shower and walk (subway is expensive) to a public library that has computers so I can blog. Mine blew up last year and I can’t afford a new one. Next I go to my $10 an hour part time job (all I’ve been able to get a year out of law school) and I try to be sunny and cheerful and pretend that I’m happy to be there so that I can hold on to it.

Then it’s back to the computer place (sometimes a friend lets me use his computer) and I look for jobs and send out resumes. I’ve redone my resume 10 times, some versions are more fictional than others, none get calls.

I do, however, get calls from my landlord and bill collectors, but never from friends. They have their own problems and they are sick of mine. I don’t blame them, and I’d rather not see them now. My non – lawyer friends look at me with a mixture of pity and disgust: How can you be so educated and not have work?

The shame usually comes in the early evening. I am embarrassed I wasn’t smart enough to see the scam before. I am ashamed that I didn’t finish any where near the top 10% in law school. I had been an A student my whole life; I always considered myself intelligent. Now I can only cringe when I think of my lack of intellectual ability and bad decision to fall for a scam.

So that’s it, I start the day in the early hours of the morning with fear and panic, and it ends with shame and embarrassment. In the darkest moments, my thoughts turn to suicide. If I die, I reason, there will be no more bill collectors, no more crushing debt, no more shame, no more failure.

It is in those dark moments that I remember that I have my readers, and I know I’m not alone and that occasionally, I make them laugh and they forget their troubles just for a second, and they know that they are not alone when I write for them, that others are hurting just like they are. So I brush the dark thoughts away, and I get up and do it all again.

So now maybe you professors can understand how pissed I am to have financed your pseudo intellectual legal journals, your exercises in mental masturbation that no one reads and no one takes pleasure in.

Here is a tribute to law professors everywhere from law graduates and students who paid for your cushy lives with our ruined lives:

Welcome To Document Review T-25!

Just saw this ad on NY Craigslist – they are only hiring attorneys from the top 25 schools or the top 10% from all other schools for a temp document review. Welcome to our TT and TTT world, T-25!

Junior attorneys (1-4 yrs out) needed for temporary document review project. NY-admitted; antitrust experience preferred but not required; due to overwhelming response, we can only review resumes from graduates of top-25 schools, or top 10% of class. Could develop into permanent/more substantive position(s) for excellent candidate(s).
•Compensation: $25-$40 DOE •This is a contract job.

Law Prof Admits Scam Exists

Brian Tamanaha posted on his blog yesterday about the law school scam and scam bloggers. He takes our side for the most part, if you can stomach his occasional condescending attitude. He had this to say about us:

It’s grim reading. The observations are raw, bitter, and filled with despair. It is easier to avert our eyes and carry on with our pursuits. But please, take a few moments and force yourself to look at Third Tier Reality, Esq. Never, Exposing the Law School Scam, Jobless Juris Doctor, Temporary Attorney: The Sweatshop Edition.

Force yourself to look. Yes, force your Ivy educated asses to look at our lowly blogs. Oops, Tamanaha went to Boston University, and that’s no Ivy. Had he graduated from law school in 2010 instead of 1983, he’d be unemployed too; instead he’s at his cushy professor’s job at Washington University and St Johns (a New York TTT) and writing lots of books paid for with the tuition of former students whose lives and dreams have been destroyed.

Look past the occasional vulgarity and disgusting pictures. Don’t dismiss the posters as whiners. To a person they accept responsibility for their poor decisions. But they make a strong case that something is deeply wrong with law schools.

Look past the occasional vulgarity. I don’t know what the fuck he is talking about, I don’t whine, I tell it like it fucking is. Yes, something is deeply wrong with the law schools and the people that look the other way as the scam continues.

Their complaint is that non-elite law schools are selling a fraudulent bill of goods. Law schools advertise deceptively high rates of employment and misleading income figures. Many graduates can’t get jobs. Many graduates end up as temp attorneys working for $15 to $20 dollars an hour on two week gigs, with no benefits. The luckier graduates land jobs in government or small firms for maybe $45,000, with limited prospects for improvement. A handful of lottery winners score big firm jobs.

Yep, that’s basically our complaint.

And for the opportunity to enter a saturated legal market with long odds against them, the tens of thousands newly minted lawyers who graduate each year from non-elite schools will have paid around $150,000 in tuition and living expenses, and given up three years of income. Many leave law school with well over $100,000 in non-dischargeable debt, obligated to pay $1,000 a month for thirty years.

I hate to break it to you, but even students at “elite” schools can’t find jobs. Read here about a Harvard 3L who couldn’t find work. She’s not a scam blogger, but she really is whiny.

They know the score now. But they didn’t know it when they first applied to law school. They bought into the numbers provided by law schools.

Yes, we did buy into those numbers. How wrong of us to trust the information the schools gave us and not know that law schools scam people too. I expect that from used car salesmen and bankers; not from institutions of higher learning and law school deans.

He asks what the professors can do. Well, you can hit my donate button. Actually, Tamanaha is kind of hot, so he might be able to pay it off another way. He had less interesting ideas:

As a start, we can provide prospective students with straightforward information about the employment numbers of recent graduates. It is open knowledge that many law schools present employment information in a misleading fashion, or don’t disclose it at all. This lack of candor on the part of law schools is itself a telling indication that there is something problematic about the product we are selling to prospective students.

More crucially, law schools must shrink the number of graduates, and must hold the line on tuition increases. (The fact that many students get scholarships is no answer because it simply means that some students, those paying full fare—often the students with the worst prospects—are subsidizing others.)

Yes! Yes! Yes! He gets it! And then he reminds us he is still a law professor:

This will be painful: smaller raises (perhaps even salary reductions), smaller administrations, smaller faculties, more teaching, less money for research, travel, and conferences.

Aha! That’s what our tuition dollars paid for! Travel and conferences and research, oh my! He gets really honest here:

These comments are not meant to point fingers at others—I too want to earn as much as I can, with lots of time for research, knowing that this is paid for by students.

Students Pay To Work

Did you graduate in the past two years? Has your law school done anything to help you find a job? Probably not, but AM Law Daily reports that Duke Law School is making an effort, albeit pathetic, to help a few students find jobs:

Duke Law School is now offering stipends to some of its unemployed graduates, enabling them to work for a couple months and get some experience at no cost to employers.The “Bridge to Practice” program started in 2008 with nine graduates; last year it had 15. This year, Duke expects 30 graduates to participate.

And then there are those who try to profit even more from their recent graduates misery:

Washington University School of Law has started a summer program called “Associate in Training” for 1Ls and 2Ls who don’t have jobs. The six-week program “is loosely modeled on law firm summer associate ships, and includes attorney shadowing, networking, instruction on the business of law firms and other skills training.” The program isn’t free–it costs $8,520.

Hey, what’s another $8,520 when you’ve just flushed $120,000 down the law school toilet? Sallie will lend it to you, and she’ll even compound it for you in a couple years.

I see the solution to the debt and job market as being quite simple: If a student entered law school in part because they relied on the false employment statistics that the schools handed out to lure them in, then the schools need to refund the money if the students are not employed in the legal profession after a year of graduating.

In a perfect world, the law schools would behave responsibly and shut down for a few years, or simply put out accurate employment statistics. But if they want to lie to lure students in, then they need to refund the money. If you bought a car and the dealer promised you 30 mpg, and the car got 10, you’d get a refund and the dealer would do some time. Why should the law schools have a fraud exclusion?

If the law schools are not going to do the right thing and shut down and start refunding tuition, then at the very least they should not be permitted to profit by sinking students deeper into debt with a worthless $8,500 “associate training program.”

Attorney Sleeps With Client’s Wife

Good news! It’s OK to sleep with your client’s wife in Mississippi! The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that slipping your client’s wife the salami doesn’t establish a breach of fiduciary duty. The client was also the attorney’s “best friend.” Oh, yes, this attorney has that necessary snark factor I blogged about yesterday.

“I was surprised that an attorney can have sexual relations with a client’s spouse and that it’s not a breach of fiduciary duty,” said attorney Phillip Brookins of the Walker Group, who is representing the ex-client. I was surprised too, but under the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, you can even f*ck a client, as long as the relationship started before the matter did:

Model Rules of Professional Conduct Client-Lawyer Relationship
Rule 1.8 Conflict Of Interest: Current Clients: Specific Rules (j) A lawyer shall not have sexual relations with a client unless a consensual sexual relationship existed between them when the client-lawyer relationship commenced.

The rule is silent as to a client’s spouse, so I say they’re fair game. However, it wasn’t a total victory:

Although the supreme court decision (PDF) yesterday reversed a trial court’s denial of summary judgment to the defendants concerning the affair-related breach claim, the case is continuing to move forward concerning additional claims of alienation of affection and negligent infliction of emotional distress against the partner, who is a former president of Baker Donelson.

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