“Big Debt Small Law” has been found

An industry, not a profession.  That’s our motto here at Big Debt, Small Law. What legal practice has been morphing into for the past 20 years certainly bears little resemblance to the halcyon “profession of ideals” that Webster, Lincoln, and Darrow once practiced. Rather, it’s degenerated into a money-grubbing, paper-churning farce, where the “winners” walk away with millions and the “losers” are packed elbow-to-elbow in sunless boiler rooms and forced to work sweatshop hours for slave wages, under conditions that often shock the conscience. We here feel that sunlight is the best disinfectant, and aim to shine our spotlight on the festering petri-dish that this former profession has lately become.

One of the earliest and still one of the great law school scam blogs, BDSM hilariously exposed the greed of the law school cartel, exploitative law firms, and everyone else taking advantage of naive law school graduates desperate for work. At the time, there was a great resistance from trolls and headstong 0Ls thinking they are special.

You seem to think that the….scamblogger crowd all wanted to end up unemployed and miserable. You’re absolutely certain that for “you,” the law school experience will be radically different. Every single one of you are going to make the top 1%. Every man jack is going to “network” and volunteer and immerse themselves in law like a chrysalis inside a cocoon, emerging in 3 years as beautiful, Biglaw-bound butterflies.

As we scambloggers well know, the reality is that you’ll be flailing around like moths stuck on flypaper. There’s no getting away from Aunt Sallie Mae and the Access Group goons. Eventually, you’ll tire of the struggle and simply whither away and die. So go ahead and make your Facebook page private and ban everyone negative from Top Law Schools. Sign those loan papers and add a few more zeroes to Pat Hobbs’s already bloated bank account. Piss away hundreds of dollars more on casebooks, hornbooks, study aids, exam-taking seminars, flashcards, flow-charts, and whatever other garbage the law school cartel so shamelessly peddles. Sink hour upon hour into memorizing Rule against Perpetuities puzzles until your eyes weep blood. Fork over 4 K more to the BarBri shakedown artists and waste ¾ of a summer cramming the useless drivel and minutiae of bar’zam law into your head.

Yes kids, do all of the above so you can end up unemployed or at best earn far south of what a garbageman, bricklayer, or janitor brings home for twice the hours and stress.

BDSM called out the ABA’s ignorance and denial.

Where were you [the ABA] when law school tuition rose at 3 times the rate of inflation? How do you justify forcing American lawyers to pay bar dues, CLE fees, take the MPRE, report  trust account information, submit to invasive background checks and so on yet allow (and encourage) huge Biglaw firms to reap massive profits by using offshore “lawyers” who have had to endure none of these onerous prerequisites? How do you endorse (and in fact, require!) an education model that renders recent graduates experts on the common law of 16th century England but wholly unprepared to litigate a client’s simple fender bender case here in good old 2009? It is nothing short of pedagogic malpractice, and given the soaring cost of tuition it is simply unconscionable. In the eyes of many lawyers, you have lost all creditability and clearly sold the working-class attorney down the river to further enrich your elitist brethren at large firms and your Ivy-league, ivory tower law professors.

Young lawyers are paying a dear price for the disaster that you’ve sown. Like the Joads in The Grapes of Wrath, many young barristers lead an impoverished, transient life, flocking from one document review project to the next while hoping to stay a paycheck ahead of the loan sharks at Sallie Mae. Some try to cut their teeth in the gutter of insurance defense “practice,” cutting and pasting reams of boilerplate dreck for less money than a day laborer on a landscape crew. The temp agency pimps and their masters in Biglaw routinely lie about pay and hours, treat their fellow attorneys like expendable pieces of garbage, and routinely engage in behavior that violates not only your Rules of Professional Responsibility but also our basic human dignity. You remain deathly silent at the widespread “chill and bill” tactics of Biglaw and the outsourcing of independent legal judgment to unlicensed third world slumdogs, yet are quick to string up some starving solo attorney who dare sends a paralegal to cover a routine court appearance in a trip n’ slip case.

Oh right, you’re going to start a solo practice after graduation? BDSM has been there and lived to tell the horrors. .

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.”

Now even the graduates of top law schools are feeling the pain. But BDSM gives them a glimpse of their future.

Pass the Kleenex, U Penn! Cry us a river, Columbia! Though we take no delight in crass schadenfreude , it is worth pointing out that those outside the Top 14 schools have been experiencing the “downturn” in legal hiring since about 1985. I found this quote from a current NYU 2-L quite telling:

You almost bank on the big firms hiring you because they’re really the only ones who can help you pay your debt,” he said, his mind already skipping forward to a situation he didn’t choose to articulate. “Quite frankly it would be an absolute disaster. I don’t know what I’d do.”

Since you’re obviously at a loss for words, allow us here at Big Debt to flesh-out your future: Welcome to reality, comrade. You’re barreling head-on into the Stalag 17 of temporary doc review hell! Welcome to $28 an hour straight time, along with cockroach infested basements and retina-burning hours of staring mindlessly into a computer screen. Did I mention the complete lack of health insurance? The lying, pimp-daddy temp agencies who skim 20% of your paycheck each week, cut rates and overtime mid-project, and do everything short of fellatio to keep the sociopathic, money-grubbing Biglaw partners happy at all costs?

Unfortunately, the author of BDSM has pulled the plug a few years ago and his work was solely missed. But his work lives on in the wayback machine. I believe it’s time for the next generation of law school lemmings to experience this blog which should be stapled to every LSAT application and again to anyone with a score below 170. Click below and get a box of kleenex – you’ll be in tears either laughing or crying.

https://web.archive.org/web/20100722043409/http://bigdebtsmalllaw.wordpress.com/

Bow Down to the US News and World Report Ranking Overlords

If there is one thing that everyone can agree about what sucks about the law school cartel, it is the US News and World Reports law school rankings. Law students hate them because their school’s rank determines whether decent (or any) firms will recruit there. Deans hate them because when his school’s rank increases, no one cares. But when the rank goes down, the dean gets his ass thrown out. Most state bar associations and the American Bullshit Association (ABA) in particular can’t stand the fact that a for-profit magazine that ranks everything from law firms to weight loss programs has more clout and influence over legal education than they ever will. Employers don’t really hate them but they need someone to blame when their new hires end up being useless. Similarly, law professors shouldn’t have a reason to hate them but they do anyway because they need someone to blame when their graduates end up unemployed, working for Wal-Mart or a fraudulent mill. 

The 2015 USNWR law school rankings have been released. And the outcome was as predictable as a North Korean election. The top 14 schools are unchanged with minor cosmetic alterations. As for the remainder of the schools that nobody cares about, while there were some notable adjustments, most remained in their place.

The usual suspects are overanalyzing the shit out of it. As expected, most of the butthurt criticism comes from the shit schools and the schools whose rankings have plunged down the sewer. They say the ranking calculation is flawed because of elitism, racism, wealthism or whateverism. Yeah, yeah. Cry me a fucking river. Bob Morse and his cronies have heard it all before. He cares about the critics’ whining as much as most law schools care about their graduates’ outcomes.

It’s a sick, culinary story. The law schools cook up poisoned employment figures. Then their deans and select faculty include a underprepared peer reputational survey of every law school – because I’m sure every dean and participating faculty member of every school knows the precise quality of instruction of their peers. Then they force feed this information to US News. And when Bob Morse digests this information and later vomits out the rankings, the law schools continue to kiss up to him while complaining about his breath.

Law schools waste a shitload of money trying to game the system – money that could be used to reduce tuition. They waste trees spamming law school porn to every professor’s mailbox bragging about how great their programs are in order to increase the peer assessment rating. And we all know that schools have no qualms about listing freelance DJs and crack dealer as a JD-advantage position. And in a last move of desperation, more and more law schools (including some top schools) are scheming to “hire” their own graduates in useless positions only to ensure that 90+% of their students are employed. I wonder how much money each school can save their already broke students if they stopped trying to “manage” their rank.

What the critics don’t understand is that no matter how loud they complain or how hard a law school tries to game the USNEWS, no school will rise from a Third Tier Trash the unranked to a Top 50. And no Top 50 will break into the T14 tower. You may have the occasional jump from a #90 to #80 or a heartwarming story about an unranked school breaking into the Top 100 but that’s about as superficial as it gets.

Why is that? Foremost, keep in mind that USNEWS can and will do whatever it wants to control the rankings in order to ensure that people will buy it. I wouldn’t be surprised if USNEWS does not accurately report the totals of the peer and practitioner reputational scores. And even if it did, they would adjust the methodology in the manner it sees fit in order to prevent Cooley from swimming in the same pool as Harvard. Also, has anyone ever wondered why USNEWS continues to solicit reputation scores from the professional community when there is only an average response of 15-20%?

You see, when it comes to academic rankings, everyone likes stability – as unfair as it sounds. It’s not like the NCAA, NFL or NBA where a new team gets to hold the championship trophy every year. Employers don’t want to waste their time trying to find out which school won the 170 LSAT game. Also, law students, lawyers, lawprofs and deans want bragging rights that will stay with them for the rest of their careers and their lives. And the only way to ensure that is if Yale stays #1, Harvard and Stanford fight over the #2 spot and the T14 keep out the second tier cattle out of the club. 

Speaking of YHS, it seems that no ranking that lists Harvard, Yale and Stanford in their top 10 will be taken seriously. All three are strong academic schools with many influential alumni. While Nebraska or whoever can have the top Space Law program, you’re not going to see Cooley or University of Phoenix Arizona Summit occupy the top spot in the Corporate Law Rankings.

Now if everyone hates the USNEWS rankings so much, why can’t anyone do something about it? The ABA, American Association of Law Schools (AALS) and the National Association of Law Placement (NALP) can collectively pimp-slap USNEWS and easily force Bob Morse to adjust the ranking methodology that will allow lemmings to make an informed decision. Of course, they will not do that because if the truth about law school outcomes were to come out, more people would choose to work as an insurance agent instead and thus further fuck up the revenue stream and influence of all three organizations. Can anyone say incestuous conflict of interest?

It doesn’t really matter. The USNEWS rankings is not only influencing whether students are going to law school. But as I have been advocating before, savvy lemmings are using it to negotiate tuition discounts from numerous schools and reconsidering schools that were once considered a safe bet. Soon enough, employers will see that more of the best and the brightest are going to schools other than the T14. If this continues for a few years and T14 schools start to see a decline in student quality and revenue, only then we will see the law school cartel do something.

The one good thing about the US News ranking this year is that some of the most expensive and deceptive trap schools had their rankings decrease or plummet. The schools that had their rankings increase are top state schools.

If there is one thing I would recommend to USNEWS is to stop treating its overall ranking as a solution for everyone. There should be a ranking specially designed for lemmings and one for employers. Lemmings care about tuition costs, debt levels and likelihood of getting a job that will help them pay off their near-nondischargeable student loans. Employers care about intelligence, diligence, respect for authority and people who think outside the box or whatever the B-school buzz word is. By having two separate rankings, it will help the lemmings make an informed decision about law school.

Another suggestion for reform is eliminating post graduate employment from the rankings. This will stop the incentive for submitting molested employment outcome information. Instead, post graduate numbers should be used for advisory purposes.

Finally, if Bob Morse decides to stay stubborn about this, he should look at an upcoming White House proposal.

Today, President Obama outlined an ambitious new agenda to combat rising college costs and make college affordable for American families. His plan will measure college performance through a new ratings system so students and families have the information to select schools that provide the best value. And after this ratings system is well established, Congress can tie federal student aid to college performance so that students maximize their federal aid at institutions providing the best value.

This ratings proposal sounds promising and I call on my fellow bloggers and reformists to somehow get involved in making this happen. A government sponsored ratings system with the above goals sounds more trustworthy than that of a for-profit magazine.

So until USNEWS reforms their rankings methodology, law schools will continue to kiss up to them at the expense of their students. But even under the current system, law schools will lose out in the future. Because of the constant gaming of the system, the rank should be useless to employers trying to hire the top draft picks and I hope that in the future top firms will publicly announce that they will not use the USNEWS rank in their hiring strategy. More students will use the rankings to get free rides to other schools because with all of the information out today, no one should be attending law school at full price.

Albany Law School – Who Weeps For the Faculty?

Things are getting shittier and shittier for Albany Law School. They are recovering from a lawsuit filed by disgruntled graduates. While ALS’s bullshit defense (blaming the economy, the ABA and their foolish students. Basically everyone but themselves) ultimately prevailed in court, the story that unfolded exposed this school for the diploma mill it is. Now that the lemmings are wising up about the law school scam, they are being more aggressive when it comes to obtaining tuition discounts or choosing to walk away from a lifetime of debt servitude.

President and Dean Penelope Andrews has announced that due to “voluntary” smaller enrollments and financial exigency, costs must be trimmed. This means taking the painful step of laying off tenured faculty who have served with distinction.

We shouldn’t feel too bad for the tenured law professors whose jobs will be cut. After all, they have elite degrees, have studied the law backwards and forwards, wrote very useful law review articles on everything from gay animal rights to open road narratives of traffic stops, and have kept in touch with the top graduates who have made it to elite law firms. They have also flown to conferences nationwide networking with other professors, lawyers and judges. They talk about the nuances of property law while drinking expensive wine at the most luxurious hotels all with our tuition money. So with these accomplishments and connections, tenured professors should have great exit options, right?

Apparently not. The butthurt lawprofs at Albany Law School recently formed a chapter of the AAUP who have the gall to claim that the school is not facing a financial exigency. Their TL;DR arguments are as follows:

  • ALS has consistently maintained a profit up to 2012. Note that 2013 is not shown yet.
  • Assuming ALS is operating at a loss, they have a substantial reserve account that can be used to offset the loss until the economy improves. lol
  • Assuming ALS is operating at a loss and the reserve account will not adequately cover the expenses in time, the school should first lay off staff, renegotiate contracts, and reduce the deans’ salaries administrative costs. 
  • Admit more students that are on the waiting list. Shoot, while we’re at it, admit more students altogether. You know, for “access to justice”, diversity and shit.

Now if Albany Law School has supposedly been operating at a profit until 2012, despite declining enrollment (and assuming more desperate tuition discounts), then why is Albany Law School’s administration calling for a financial exigency and faculty layoffs? Also, why is Standard and Poor’s downgrading Albany Law School’s credit rating? Does this mean someone committed Enron-level accounting fraud on the school’s IRS Form 990? If that’s so, then someone should make a phone call to the IRS’s tax-exempt division and request an audit. I hear that the tax exempt division has been taking lot of shit lately from Congress and the Tea Party and they could use some favorable publicity.

What about tapping the reserve account for a rainy day? Oh please, this is the perfect fucking storm. If the declining enrollment trend continues and costs remain the same or are modestly reduced, the reserve will only last for a few years at most. Fuck it – use the reserve account to give the dead wood a “take it or leave it and STFU” buyout package. Or use it to pay defense lawyers for the inevitable scorched earth frivolous lawsuit which will ultimately fail but will be a pain in the ass for all.

What about laying off administrative staff and untenured faculty? Yeah, that will solve everything. Lay off the janitor, the bookstore clerk and the adjunct legal writing professor. Chances are all three are receiving not much more than minimum wage so this won’t have much effect on the school’s bottom line. And who will replace them? Is the tort professor going to double as the handyman to minimize the chance of negligence lawsuits? Will the tax professor replace the school’s CPA?

What about admitting more lemmings with no tuition discounts? Lower admission standards in order to improve racial diversity. The law school needs to hear the unique views of 1.0 GPA students with criminal records and bi-polar disorders. Admit them now before the federal government cuts off the student loan gold rush! Dean Andrews has a problem with this and has announced that admissions standards will not be lowered. Now before the lawprofs start calling her racist and sexist, you may want to take a good look at her profile. Yeah, that tired-ass racism charge is starting to look stupid, isn’t it?  

As you can tell, I don’t give a fuck about the faculty hanging by a thread. Headhunters should be flooding their personal email accounts with multiple job offers. Otherwise, they haven’t worked hard and networked enough and deserve to have their ass thrown out into the street joining their graduates at the soup kitchen. Business prudence will always rule over academic freedom and if you don’t like it, find some benefactor who will pay your damn salary. I am wondering who were the colossal dumbasses that decided to turn this into a public laughingstock? They could have downsized quietly or accepted across the board salary cuts for everyone’s long term benefit. But no, the faculty have to whine and complain like entitled children. You idiots really look employable now, don’t you?

I hope that those who are twitting #albanylawschool will be watching the developments closely and demand full tuition scholarships before signing the line that is dotted. Otherwise, it is too risky to attend a school that may go belly up before they graduate. Don’t think for a second that Cornell, Columbia or NYU will accept you as transfer students out of pity should this happen.

Dear Law School Lemming

Dear Law School Lemming,

You’re probably here because I summoned you from the Twitterverse. Your Twitter posts are featured in the hilarious yet sad website Law School Lemmings. You should know that there are forums, listservs and group discussion boards – both public and private – that are making fun of your posts and calling you naive, arrogant and stupid.

I am a forgotten attorney. Forgotten by prestigious, $160,000 per year law firms because my average rank in law school (which 80% of law students receive) was not good enough for them. Forgotten by my alma mater because I will not become someone famous and later donate money in order to fund another Brian Leiter Professorial Chair of Useless Studies. Forgotten by my family because I will not be able to support them when they get older and will rely exclusively on Social Security and assisted housing. And forgotten by the dreamer in me who strived to be successful but will now have to “manage expectations” and stop acting “entitled”.

Your posts remind me of myself when I was young and idealistic. Twitter wasn’t around when I was your age so I was talking shit to my friends at the local bar or posted my dreams on MySpace (or was it Friendster? I don’t remember).

Whether you admit it or not, you’re going to law school because of the money you think lawyers make. But if you have a Twitter account, you must know how to use google. Use it to see just how bad most law school graduates have to struggle just to make their student loan payments – even if they have a job with a large law firm. Others are making at only $50,000 to $60,000 with most of their income going to their student loan payments for the rest of their young lives.

Some of you want to be like Elle Woods. REALLY? You’re modeling your life after a FICTIONAL CHARACTER? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Excuse me while I laugh until I throw up a kidney. But seriously, if you remember Legally Blonde, Elle went to Harvard Law School, had a 4.0 GPA and a 178 LSAT score. Do you have similar credentials? If you do, by all means, go with our blessings and have a Glitterific time. But if you’re going to base your future on what you see in movies, watch Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and see how Atticus Finch lives.

You claim you want to help people. To most of you, please shut the fuck up. Stop parroting what your pre-law counselor told you to write on your law school essay. We know you’re full of shit. Even if you want to help people or “pursue justice”, can’t you do it by being a nurse, social worker or a priest? What if I told you each of those professions I mentioned make almost as much as an attorney but without the stress and needless arrogant posturing?  

Oh that’s right – you know someone who’s a successful lawyer. She’s rolling in her Hermes purse and driving a Benz. She said that once you get your Just Dollaz degree, she will hook you up. Perhaps. But before you follow your friend’s example, you should look closely at her finances. Is she getting her money from another source? I can tell you that a lot of start up practitioners have side jobs to make ends meet. Others are living off spouses or parents. Also, do you think she is going to help you with your career? She is not going to spend her billable time training you and referring clients because it means less money for her car lease payments. If you graduate with no job and call your friend for a hookup, you can bet she will avoid you like a leper with Ebola.

Or you think you can “marry up” with your law degree and have your rich spouse pay your loans. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Good luck with that. Most of you have nothing to offer other than your high student loan debt. Most of the rich people I know can smell your toxic student loan cologne from a mile away. And God forbid if he were to abuse you physically and give you the spousal pimp slap – you can’t ditch him while he is paying your bills. And like your lawyer friend, they may have baggage as well.

Or you have no other alternatives with your life. Your communications degree from Toilet State University scored you a shit job waiting tables, pushing paper or driving to audition after audition and you feel stuck. You hate your greedy, egotistical boss who yells at you, shafts you come raise time and gives you shitty hours. This is not too dissimilar from the practice of law – especially if you work for a cheapskate solo practitioner who is dishonest with you and his clients. Talk to a few lawyers or try working for one and you’ll see what I mean. Unlike waiting tables, lawyers don’t get tips for getting a good outcome.

So Mr./Ms. Twitterthang, you think you’re the shit. We are not making fun of you – we are trying to warn you. But you’re going to ignore us. You’re “ambitious”, you’re special, you’re going to beat the odds because you have the right “attitude”. Fine, ignore us at your own risk – I don’t give a shit. I don’t have an axe to grind with you – only the fuckfaces who are charging enormous amounts of tuition in exchange for shitty job prospects. But know this – if you fuck up, you are on your own.

2014–Is Now the Best Time To Go To Law School?

As 2013 comes to a close, I am happy to note that it has been a productive year, both for me personally and for the anti-law school movement. Law school enrollment has dropped to an all time low. And as a consequence, most of the shittier schools have cut their hiring and have downsized dramatically. There is even talk about some unprofitable law schools possibly closing their doors for good in the next few years.

But the salesmen of the law school empire are going to the press telling everyone that now is the best time to go. Why? Because admission standards are down, enrollment (i.e. your competition) is down, tuition is decreasing, older attorneys are retiring, and the economy is improving.

So if enroll within the next 30 minutes, you will be accepted to several schools of your choice for the low price of $19,995 plus books and board. But there’s more! As a bonus, after three years, you have a good chance* of getting a cushy biglaw gig making $160,000 per year which will place you in the elite social circle while your unambitious co-workers are stuck working retail. But act now because this offer expires soon.

* DISCLAIMER: When we say good chance, what we really mean is that your chances of working at a reputable firm with a high salary will slightly increase over our traditional placement rates. We do not guarantee that you will get a biglaw job nor even guarantee that law school will result in a better quality of life. It is up to you to do you own damn research and you agree not to sue us if something goes wrong.

Dumbasses have a better chance of getting accepted to law school. It’s common news that most schools are planning to admit students who wouldn’t have been considered for admission a few years ago.

This is analogous to a former not-so-attractive love interest who rejected you in the past but is now crawling back to you after getting a ton of extra wrinkles and gaining 40 extra pounds in the wrong places. And everybody knows that he/she infected at least 70 former lovers and three-year-stands with two sexually transmitted diseases which require long term medical treatment (for our purposes, we’ll call these STDs Low Job Prospects and Nearly Nondischargeable Student Loan Debt). On top of that, he/she now has a reputation for being a golddigger, a slut/gigolo, and a compulsive liar.

So even if you are being stroked by several salesmen begging you to go to their school, keep in mind that their tuition discount offers may have a ton of conditions. And the discounts may be lost after the first year if you do not do better than your classmates who received the same discounts. Also, employers and recruiters know about the brain drain and they are more likely to look to hire an experienced grad as opposed to a dumber newbie. 

The Class of 2008 – 2013 have been ripped off. Even though you received “merit scholarship” offers from several schools, you are not someone special. You are not being recruited because you volunteered at legal aid during college or you were the student body 5th vice president of external social activities chair. They want your student loan money because if the school does not meet their revenue goals, eventually the faculty will have to take a pay cut and work longer hours. If that happens, the lawprofs will sue the school arguing that a pay cut is a backhanded method of chilling “academic freedom” (I personally think this is a move to get bigger severance pay if a law school’s closure is certain).

Five schools have already announced across the board tuition reductions. Over the next few years, we’ll see an increasing number of schools openly cutting tuition. So if you wait, then it is very likely that you will get a bigger tuition discount.

I kinda feel sorry for the people who paid full freight to shit-tier and some top-tier schools in the last five years. These people got ripped off because they overpaid for their education regardless of their post-graduate outcomes. In particular, those who are unemployed or working at a warehouse must be mad to the point of wanting to beat the living shit out of someone and I wouldn’t blame them. These lost souls would have a good case for suing their schools for a partial tuition reimbursement or reducing their debt load through bankruptcy.

Older attorneys will be forced out. I laugh whenever I hear about boomer-era attorneys threatening to retire in droves. I have seen older attorneys practice until their nineties in their wheelchairs. This is not a job that has a short shelf life. Also, some boomers have made some stupid life decisions which is forcing them to work longer even though they do not want to.

Whenever I hear about an older attorney “retiring”, in some, if not most cases, it is not voluntary. I automatically look at the state bar disciplinary reports to see if she got disbarred for a trust account violation. If this is the case, a number of their clients have been screwed by this prick and will be reluctant to hire another attorney or will not have the money to retain a new one. Also, she may have suffered a health condition which required her to reduce or shut down her practice. Rarely does an attorney leave at the top of her game.

And even if an attorney retires, that does not mean that a her clients will be available to new lawyers. Most middle class people see a lawyer for high paying, serious issues once or maybe twice in their entire lives. And thanks to new technology, people will go elsewhere to meet their smaller legal needs.

The economy may be improving but it will not benefit YOU. The economy is or isn’t improving depending on who you listen to. But most agree that demand for legal services will decrease while being cautious about mentioning whether demand will increase.

There have been a number of “studies” and predictions that the legal job market will improve anywhere between 2016 and 2021. Most of these studies are done by law professors of low ranked or mid ranked schools with dismal to pathetic employment outcomes. And they also use wild, unpredictable assumptions about the decrease in law school enrollment and increase in legal employment demand. And that’s right – people working in low-end jobs, euphemistically known as JD Advantage jobs also count as employment. So most of these studies look less like fact-based research and more like a verbose sales pitch from a con artist authority figure designed to bring in the stupid and the irrationally idealistic.

Assuming that enrollment is down to the point where the number of graduates meet the number of entry level jobs, what about those who are underemployed or have been out in the cold for previous years? They too will re-enter the job market. So it will take several years after this so called “equilibrium” is reached before the employment problem is corrected.

So is now the best time to apply to law school? I say NO despite all the sales pitches. Wait and use that time to increase your GPA/LSAT score, gain work experience and figure out alternative ways to make money and “pursue justice”. Don’t worry – law schools won’t go anywhere anytime soon. In fact, they will be reducing tuition even further in the years to come.

For The First Year Law Students: Two Misleading Sales Pitches Designed To Convince You To Stay

Now that most of you 1Ls are finished with final exams, you will be spending the holidays waiting for your grades. If you do not make decent grades, you will contemplate whether you should continue or drop out.

Most of us will say that you should drop out unless you have independent means of securing a job after graduation. However, law school shills and some happy-happy optimist hucksters selling their “Buy my How-To-Succeed-In-The-Law” book, SEO marketing, coaching seminars or some other positivity/yoga/hypnotism bullshit will tell you two things to convince you to stay in law school:

If you’re willing to put in the effort and do whatever it takes, you will succeed no matter where you go to law school or what your grades are. This is true. However, this does not apply to all people, especially if your goal is to work for a decent firm. The person telling you this will tell you to do the following (without getting into any real specifics):

  • Networking
  • Participating in bar association functions
  • Developing a niche practice
  • Networking
  • Make calls to your family and friends
  • Share office space with other attorneys and get their overflow
  • Networking

Did I mention you have to network?

Now this is true. What they should also include with this advice is the following disclaimer like those found in all lawyer advertising materials:

Individual outcomes may vary. Prior success of others does not guarantee future success. Many factors will determine success, such as (but not limited to): personality, individual connections, prior work experience, wealth, economic conditions, technology and dumb fucking luck. Loss of investment should be considered. Results not typical.

To put it another way, instead of being a lawyer, let’s say you started a business selling widgets, insurance, food, cosmetics, whatever. You need clients and/or customers. If you meet with a consultant or read a business development book, you will be advised to do the following:

  • Network
  • Participate in trade functions
  • Develop a niche clientele
  • Network
  • Call your family and friends
  • Advertise
  • Network

Sounds familiar? Did I also mention networking?

So if the prestigious law firms use your resume as toilet paper, you have to be the entrepreneurial type to succeed outside of working for the government. Most of us are not that type. A lot of us wanted to work a 9-5 job or even a 60 hour/week job and let someone else worry about bringing in business. But don’t say that out loud – otherwise the uppities will call us lazy and entitled!

If your goal is to start your own firm at some point and you are willing to risk failure, then do the above and start NOW. But if your goal is to work for a firm with a high starting salary and gradually work your way up to partner, forget it – that career path is almost euthanized thanks to technology and greed. Now on to the next misleading sales pitch.

A law degree opens doors to careers that last a lifetime and after many years, most of our graduates are happy with their decision to attend our law school. The law school salesmen point to various cherry-picked statistics and alumni testimonials about how most lawyers eventually make $100,000+. They also point to the “After the JD” report which show that graduates several years into their careers are happy with their decision to attend law school.

A lot of things happen in “many years”. The past was different. These older practitioners did not graduate at a time there were two law school graduates for every job available. Also, back then, law schools cost less.

Also, other things happen in your life over decades that make you focus less on being angry. Later, hopefully, you meet a spouse, have kids, get a career in or out of law, etc. You may end up rich, poor, or somewhere in between. When you turn 40 or 50, three years of law school is a small blip in your life.

If I were to ask older practitioners whether I should go to (or continue going to) law school, I am almost certain that most would say no or give some wishy-washy platitude.

There you have it – two sales pitches that should be taken with extreme caution. If these are the best excuses they can give, you should seriously consider dropping out or negotiating a lower tuition before continuing.

Happy Holidays.

This Is Why Poor People’s Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense: The Forgotten Attorney Edition

I, like some of you, read this insightful post which tries to explain the mentality of poor people. If you haven’t read it, you should do so before continuing. I am also taking this blog in a different direction – see below.

Updated to correct numerous grammatical errors. Still not done yet.

There’s no way to structure this coherently. They are random observations that might help explain the mental processes. But often, I think that we look at the academic problems of the law school scam and have no idea of the why. We know the what and the how, and we can see systemic problems, but it’s rare to have an unemployed attorney with over $150,000 in almost nondischargeable student loan debt to actually explain it on their own behalf. So this is me doing that, sort of.

Rest is a luxury for those with real jobs. I get up at 6AM, check Craigslist, Symplicity or various job boards to check for any open attorney positions (I have multiple ding letters but I only go to one to two interviews per month which lead to nothing) then go to doc review hoping the case didn’t settle, then I buy lunch for an older attorney where I subtly beg him to send me his overflow work, then I go back to doc review, then I have half an hour to change and go to a bar association function or another networking event schmoozing with struggling also-rans like me. I get home from that at around 10 PM, then I have to moonlight as a bouncer or the night-shift stock clerk while spending my meager break time checking Craigslist again. I’m in bed by 3AM. This isn’t every day, I have two days off a week from each of my obligations. I use that time to check the job boards again and customize my resume and cover letter to make sure that I tweak my accomplishments for the mill or shitlaw firm I’m applying to. After that, I soothe Mr. Martini, stroke Mr. Jack Daniels, smell Mary Jane’s perfume while seeing Breaking Bad for an hour. I then spend time looking for free CLEs or read a practice book on a subject I am interested in. Those nights I’m in bed by midnight, but if I go to bed too early I won’t be able to stay up the other nights because I’ll fuck my sleep pattern up, and I drive an hour home from Job 2 so I can’t afford to be sleepy. I never take a day off from work because I am easily replaceable. It doesn’t leave you much room to think about what you are doing, only to attend to the next thing and the next. Planning isn’t in the mix.

When I got laid off the first time, I was living in my parents’ basement. I had a laptop and nothing else. I was on IBR. I ate whatever leftovers that were in the parents’ fridge. Had I had a job, I couldn’t have bought Chipotles anyway since my student loan payments would have increased. And I needed the job, I was fucking broke. I might not have had to pay rent while living at home, but I am intelligent enough to know that “gaining experience” and pro bono work was not going to decrease my student loan balance.

I know how to litigate. I had to do 40 hours of pro bono work per month at a small firm and several non-profits to graduate law school. Most law schools didn’t have that requirement. The courtroom can be intimidating. You have to have understand the court rules, know how to deal with opposing counsel, know the judge’s particular perversions, and you’ll have meet the court deadline no matter how tired you are or your case will be dismissed. These are huge new skills for a lot of people. That’s not great, but it’s true. And if you fuck it up, you could get fired or get a malpractice suit. We have learned not to try too hard to beg for an associate position at the firm you are coding for. It always makes you think about Biglaw and always makes you feel worse for having tried and failed yet again. Better not to try. It makes more sense to do doc review, contract work or the rare government non-legal job. Lofty, idealistic fantasies are a pleasure that we are allowed to have; why would we give that up? We have very few of them.

The closest document review facility to me is three hours since the temp firms decided to move to an area with lower cost of living. That’s a lot of money in gas. Lots of unemployed lawyers can’t afford that, and even if you live near one you probably don’t want to have multiple doc review jobs on your resume. We’re aware that we are not “getting real legal jobs” we’re “coding.” We want paychecks for much the same reasons that I imagine real lawyers do. Urge to pay the bills and all. Nobody likes doc review coders pretending to be attorneys, but they judge an entitlement attitude even harder.

Convenience food is just that. And we are not allowed many conveniences. Especially since BAPCPA passed, it’s hard to get student loans discharged or even have it negotiated down to a workable payment plan. But with a soul-crushingly large student loan balance, you spend a lot of time figuring out how to get a mortgage or car loan and getting deferrals to pay bills. Most banks now have a large-student-loan-no-mortgage policy. I wandered around 10 banks for five hours in the rain once with nearly ten thousand dollars on me and could not qualify for a mortgage even if my cousin were to co-sign the loan and offer his retirement portfolio as collateral.

Nobody gives enough thought to depression. You have to understand that we know that we will never have a steady career. We will never feel hopeful. We will never get a fucking chance at the $160,000 Biglaw salary. Ever. We know that the very act of being unemployed makes us more and more likely to be unemployable. It doesn’t give us much reason to improve ourselves if you think about it. We don’t apply for Biglaw or even Midlaw jobs because we know we don’t have the credentials to even be considered. I would make a super associate, but I’ve been turned down more than once because I “don’t fit the image of the firm,” which is a nice way of saying “gtfo, coder.” I am good enough to draft a motion, even while slaving away in the doc review basement, but my temp boss won’t recommend me for an associate or even a staff attorney position because I don’t “fit the corporate image.” I did not graduate in the top 10% of my class. I’m not a law review editor and have a spotty employment history consisting of law clerk, coffee server, appearance attorney, insurance sales, paralegal, and real estate agent. Prestige is a thing you get when you can afford it, and that’s how you get the job that you need in order to be prestigious. There isn’t much point trying.

Posting your job availability on Craigslist attracts scammers and exploiters. Nobody realizes that. I’ve spent a lot of hours telling people my salary requirements and that I don’t work on a commission only basis to discourage cheap, broke-ass no name solos. It doesn’t work, and it is fucking frustrating.

“PSLF loan forgiveness” only exists for T14 graduates. It’s great that there’s a public service loan forgiveness program at my school, but most law school graduates will never get a reputable and paying public interest job. We don’t belong there. There’s a Legal Aid Clinic in town? Great! But only temporary, unpaid positions are available. We’re not going. Besides, all they’ll tell you at the clinic is that the paid positions require substantial public service experience, which seriously? Might as well be a SCOTUS clerk for how accessible it is. IBR and PAYE sounds like “money you have to spend” to me, and they can’t actually help you anyway, especially with the fucking tax bill at the end.

I smoke, drink and do drugs from time to time. It’s expensive. It’s also the best option. You see, I am always, always exhausted, depressed and/or angry. They’re stimulants and mood enhancers. When I am too tired to review one more document, I can smoke and go for another hour or drink and temporarily forget the shitty life I live. When I am enraged and beaten down and incapable of accomplishing one more thing, I can drink, take a toke or a hit and I feel a little better, just for a minute. It is the only relaxation I am allowed. It is not a good decision, but it is the only one that I have access to. It is the only thing I have found that keeps me from collapsing or exploding.

I made a poor financial decision by going to law school. It doesn’t matter in the long term really. Even if I leave the law, I will never pay off my student loans AND live a decent lifestyle, so what does it matter if I pay the minimum amount possible on any my bills? It’s not like paying extra will result in improved circumstances; the thing holding me back isn’t that I’m on forbearance with Sallie Mae. It’s that now that I have proven that I am a forgotten attorney and that is all that I am or ever will be. It is not worth it to me to live a bleak life devoid of small pleasures so that one day I can make a single large purchase. I will never have large pleasures to hold on to. There’s a certain pull to live what bits of life you can while there’s money in your pocket, because no matter how responsible you are you will be broke in three days anyway. When you never have enough money it ceases to have meaning. I imagine having a lot of it is the same thing.

Forgotten attorneys with no secure job, no connections and no family support are doomed to live a life of poverty. Poverty is bleak and cuts off your long-term brain. It’s why you see lost attorneys wearing used, brand name suits and driving used high mileage luxury cars even when they cannot afford it. You grab a bit of prestige wherever you can to feel better about yourself. You have no idea how strong the pull to feel worthwhile is. It’s more basic than food. You pay (with money you don’t have) to go to these networking events to meet judges and rockstar attorneys who make you feel hopeful about your career for a few minutes that one time, and that’s all you get. You’re probably not going to have a meaningful professional relationship with them for anything long-term, but right this minute they can make you feel like you have a chance at getting a job. It does not matter what will happen in a month. Whatever happens in a month is probably going to be just about as indifferent as whatever happened today or last week. None of it matters. We stop making long-term plans and sending resumes because if we do we’ll just get our hearts broken. It’s best not to hope. You just take what you can get as you spot it.

I am not asking for sympathy. I am just trying to explain, on a human level, how it is that forgotten, disillusioned attorneys complain on message boards, start scamblogs, and basically give up on a lot of things. This is what we believe our lives will be like, and here are our defense mechanisms, and here is why we think differently. It’s certainly self-defeating, but it’s safer. That’s all. I hope it helps make sense of it.

A Thought – Obviously this is a parody of the original post and should be interpreted that way. Most law school graduates are intelligent (although this seems to be declining), come from good backgrounds (but not so much in the future), have a decent work ethic under the right conditions and have the fortitude to want to improve themselves. Some will succeed. But at some point, even highly motivated people will give up if the obstacles are just too great.

For those who try to tell unemployed law school graduates to hustle and make something of themselves, stop. Just stop. As I said previously somewhere, some people went to law school for the wrong reasons and should be allowed to resign from the bar in exchange for a full discharge of student loans. Once student loans become dischargeable in bankruptcy, the Feds will all of a sudden care about how law school graduates are doing financially and may even sue shit schools that lie about employment statistics. So help those who want to be helped.

The author has some very good points. I recommend reading this post and this one.

Starting today, I am turning this blog into a collection of stories of forgotten attorneys and will post less personally. For obvious reasons, I am more interested in publishing stories about people who did not win the law school game. But I am willing to publish a story with a happy ending provided that it helps readers – particularly 0Ls and 1Ls – make an informed decision about entering or continuing law school.

A detailed story would be preferred but please avoid identifying information. But I would appreciate it if you can identify your law school. Chances are, a lot of your classmates and alumni have gone through similar situations so naming your alma mater is not likely to identify you.

To get an idea as to what I am looking for, click here, here, here, and here. Email your story to me at attorney99134 (at) gma il (dot) com.