VIEWS: 2,335 PAGES: 34 CATEGORY: Other POSTED ON: 8/17/2010
2010 entries from the late, sorely missed "Big Debt, Small Law" blog. BDSL was unceremoniously removed by its author August 15, 2010 in conjunction with publication of a Star-Ledger (NJ) article about him. Read and heed, lemmings.
2010 entries from the late, sorely missed "Big Debt, Small Law" blog. BDSL was unceremoniously removed by its author August 15, 2010 in conjunction with publication of a Star-Ledger (NJ) article about him. Read and heed, lemmings.
Big Debt, Small Law Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 1:13:15 PM Indian Outsourcing- A One Way Street Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 1:13:10 PM | lawis4losers This interesting article from The Economist details how the Indian bar has closed ranks and refused to allow foreign lawyers to practice in their country. Period. http://www.economist.com/node/16693882 It must be nice to have a professional guild that fervently protects its member’s interests, livelihoods, and future. US lawyers really need to start thinking about forming a professional association that lobbies hard for their occupation. L4L Comments (0) NY Times: Sobering Article on Legal Outsourcing Wednesday, August 04, 2010, 3:59:21 PM | lawis4losers For those who think the legal market is merely in a “recession,” we at Big Debt present the following article from today’s NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/05/business/global/05legal.html?_r=3&pagewanted=all No funny photo atop this post, no commentary, no laughs. Just a sad, sobering look at a once-great country being sucked forever down the toilet. L4L Comments (26) JD v. GED: The “Joke Degree” vs. the “Good Enuff” Diploma! Wednesday, July 14, 2010, 11:20:28 PM | lawis4losers You’ve really gotta love the craigslist ad posted here: http://cnj.craigslist.org/lgl/1842214993.html This law firm is advertising a position for a data-entry monkey to load/scan documents into Concordance (a doc review software platform) that the temp attorneys (aka doc reviewers/”coders”) will later review for litigation & e-discovery. What’s especially hilarious is that the posted job doesn’t even require a college degree (much less a JD), yet pays the same hourly rate that LICENSED ATTORNEYS commonly receive to actually perform a substantive review of this corporate, make- work garbage. Furthermore, the ad alludes to a RAISE in salary after a small trial period. Imagine a document review attorney ever getting a raise mid-project! The only “raise” a doc review JD ever gets is when they lift their right arm to ask permission to use the restroom! For the lawschool defenders, a question: Show me the ship’s captain who receives the same rate as the steerage coal stokers. Show me the MD who receives the same pay as the bedpan dumper. Show me the auto mechanic who makes the same salary as the gas pump jockey. Show me the executive chef who makes the same sheckle as the dishwasher. Think I’m kidding? Read this ad: http://newjersey.craigslist.org/lgl/1797573583.html Yes, you nitpicking pricks, the JD position above pays a WHOPPING $4 an hour more than the data-entry job. Now go ahead and subtract student loans, bar dues, CLE fees, madatory pro-bono assignments (compulsory for all NJ attorneys), and 7 years of lost earnings while you were being “educated” from the equation. Enough said. Only in law kids, only in law. L4L Comments (44) Lambs to the “Seton Hall Slaughter” Sunday, June 27, 2010, 8:08:34 PM | lawis4losers We’ve never turned any of our many comments here at Big Debt into a full-fledged blog post, but this morning we received a response that really warrants a proper rebuttal. Someone calling themselves “Seton Hall 2013” left the following comment in response to our “Seton Hall’s Seeds” post: As a proud member of the incoming 1L class at SHU Law, let me state that I heartily disagree with your post. I do not doubt the experiences you and other alumni have had finding positions after graduation. But, I do believe you are unfairly blaming the institution for something that is ultimately the responsibility of the student. May I ask if you went to SHU Law straight from undergrad? If the answer is “yes”, then you and others who have followed this path may have expected the paternalistic coddling that is given at undergraduate level. As someone who attended to grad school first, I have no illusions about the responsibilities and obligations of the school to me (after undergrad you are on your own). SHU is what you make it. Theodore Roosevelt said “do what you can, with what you have, where you are”, whether SHU can “place” me anywhere is not a concern, because I am responsible for finding gainful employment. The schools’ main function is to educate me, as a former home-schooled student I also realize that my education is in my hands and I must do whatever I have to to understand the material. It’s a misconception that law is a saturated field, this is true only in certain fields and markets. It is the students’ responsibility to choose their field carefully, and watch for trends in law where their skills will be in-demand. SHU Law is expensive and must improve its affordability. As for internship opportunities, Big Law has to be willing to be open to schools outside of the T-14. It’s not the fault of SHU that snobbery is rife in law, it is up to alumni (like you) to improve the status and influence of the school, so that its’ students are sought after. I believe this was the point of the forget me not analogy. Bear in mind that the Seton Hall 2013 thread at Top Law Schools has resulted in all anti-SH posters being banned, and the SH 2013 facebook page was quickly made private after several alums showed up and started posing the cold, hard truth about this toilet. (Gotta give a shout to Shilling me Softly for likewise addressing the pipedreams of the SH-bound fools). For starters (as we’ve amply noted countless times before), Cozen O’Connor is a huge 500+ lawyer firm located directly across the street from Seton Hall Law. The firm does not participate in Seton Hall’s On-Campus Interview program, or even bother sending a secretary across the street for resume collection. This more than anything speaks volumes about how poor Seton Hall’s reputation is among large law firms. How do you expect to land in NYC biglaw when even Newark-based firms won’t interview Seton Hall students? The dean of Seton Hall cares so little about his student’s employment outcomes that he’s now spending most of his time trying to revive the moribund Pirates basketball program. For Hobbs to devote anything less than 100% of his attention to the law school in this gruesome bear market is beyond unconscionable. He’s paid a deep 6-figure salary that is financed directly by the money that Seton Hall Law students are borrowing and will likely spend a lifetime trying to pay back. To top it off, he publishes (or allows to be published) blatant, bald-faced lies about salary and employment outcomes. And why, pray tell, is this kid a “proud” incoming 1 L? Since when is getting into Seton Hall something to be proud of? Their admission standards are essentially nonexistent. Seventy-one law schools are ranked higher, and little more than some drool on the LSAT and a scribble on the ole’ loan paperwork will earn one a seat at the ‘Hall. “Beggars can’t be choosers,” as the old saw goes, and with their lousy ranking and location in post-apocalyptic Newark, NJ, the ‘Hall is none too selective. For the record, I did not go to Seton Hall directly from undergrad. I worked as a NJ Real Estate Broker and bartender/sous chef at a restaurant prior to enrolling at Seton Hall Law. I’ve done every goddamned shit-job there is out there, from cleaning grease traps/hoods to roofing and construction. My family is not rich and I financed 100% of my tuition via loans. When I attended Seton Hall, tuition was 24 K a year, and now less than a decade later that figure has nearly doubled to 43 K a year. Worst of all is that Seton Hall (and law school in general) doesn’t teach you any marketable skills that are in demand. Instead, you waste 3 years learning ancient, irrelevant dogma like the Rule against Perpetuities and nonsense like UCC-2-207 and other esoteric, pointless drivel. Most of the professors have never practiced a day in their lives, and instead waste what little time they do actually “work” championing moonbat, left-wing crusades like closing down Gitmo. The job market is so bad that only 60 of 100 people begging to work for FREE at the NJ AG’s office were actually offered the position: http://blogs.findlaw.com/strategist/2009/12/will-litigate-for-food-nj-ag-takes-on-attorney-volunteers.html How are you going to pay back your loans on a salary of zero (0) dollars? And with kids from the Top 14 getting no-offered left and right, how do you expect to compete in this marketplace with a laughingstock, also-ran dump like Seton Hall on your resume? It’s not a “misconception” that law is a saturated field, pal. It’s a fact. Just wait until you get dinged at OCI and start sending bale upon bale of resumes to every craigslist, lawjobs, and other job-board posting and hearing nothing in return but dead silence. Wait until you show up in Career Services and the lady buries her head in her hands and tells you to “volunteer and network.” Here’s another excellent article on a current 3 L at Seton Hall who bought into the “health law” lie peddled by the Valvoline Dean: http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202429987288 A choice excpert: But a big question mark hovers above the class of 2009. Many, like Agarwal, have accepted positions at firms that have delayed associate start dates for six months or even a year. Others accepted offers only to have them rescinded. But many more third-year students, especially at non-elite schools, are uncertain about where they’ll go. Moreover, they fear that those with more experience may snag the scant few jobs that are available now and the other slots that will open up once the economy brightens. “Everything kind of sucks,” said William Leef, a third-year student at Seton Hall University School of Law. Leef worked in the Hackensack, N.J., office of an 80-attorney law firm after his first year of law school. He went back to the firm after his second year and had anticipated a full-time job following graduation. The firm notified him in December that he would not get an offer. He already has accepted that he likely won’t get a job until after he takes the bar exam this summer, and he’s wary about the competition he’ll face from licensed attorneys who already have experience as associates but have been laid off. Leef said that the best argument he could make to a potential employer for hiring a recent graduate rather than an associate with experience is that those fresh from law school have a clean slate. “I guess you could say that they can mold you into their style of work,” he said. Leef had envisioned working in a health care practice at a private law firm, which was what prompted him to attend Seton Hall, which has a strong health law program, he said. But now? “I’m looking for anything and everything,” he said. Although experienced associates have the upper hand from the perspective of graduating students, those who are already in the trenches have their own share of anxiety. Love the line about looking for “anything and everything.” With a Seton Hall JD, that might include roofing, washing dishes, or returning cans and bottles for the deposit money. How “strong” is that health law program looking now, bucko? This kid’s life is essentially already over. At best he’ll get a 30 K a year gig at some traffic-ticket boiler room or end up in the Barasso doc review gulag for $25 an hour and no benefits. But at least Hobbs is hard at work on the Pirates b’ball program, so maybe this kid has a future washing towels and cleaning the Gatorade buckets. Seriously though, one would think that stories like this would at least compel one to question attending a very poor law school in this moribund economy. I myself did the Honors Internship Program at the Essex County Counsel my 2nd year of Seton Hall. Despite pumping all these contacts both during school and after graduation, not a single one was able to help me find a position. My father has worked in the NJ Insurance industry for 40+ years and he likewise beat the bushes trying to find me a shitlaw entry-level gig, which likewise was all for naught. After months of scrounging temporary document review projects, I was FINALLY able to land a personal-injury job for a whopping 45 K a year. My experience was typical. Within months, at an informal Hoboken happy hour, a bunch of my former classmates all met up and expressed deep, chagrined regret at the mistake of attending Seton Hall. Everyone was either on temporary doc review or working boiler-room “firms” for gutter wages and massive stress. The student loans are simply backbreaking. You seem to think that the JDUnderground and 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. Enjoy yourselves, and we’ll see you in 3 years on JDUnderground wondering how it all went wrong. Comments (153) The “Valvoline Dean” Scatters Seton Hall’s Seeds Tuesday, June 22, 2010, 7:49:27 PM | lawis4losers We’d really begun to worry here at Big Debt after seeing the Gulf oil disaster unfold across our TV screens. Not so much for the oil-splattered waterfowl and grease-caked turtles, but more for the health of one Patrick E. Hobbs, the infamous “Valvoline Dean” of Seton Hall Law. Our assumption was that the “Deepwater” blowout excuse was but a mere cover story, concocted to cover up a possible attack on Hobbs by sharks while on one of his many Stafford-subsidized Florida vacation junkets. Surely he (and he alone) had to be the source for a slick that enormous. His very saliva is; after all, where the WD-40 folks found their top- secret recipe. This guy could lubricate a squeaky door hinge just by breathing on it. For those new to Big Debt, an explanation: Hobbs was long ago nicknamed the “Valvoline Dean’ by none other than yours truly. Of course, all law school deans are shysters and born liars (see Rothenberg, Karen), but Hobbs has elevated pseudo-sincere “slicksterism” to a form of high art, an oleaginous tour de force of toilet law puffery. His persona is a cross between a used-car salesman and a Tammany Hall politician, with a touch of creepy Catholic-priest piety thrown in for good measure. We’d been rifling thru the mail here at Big Debt awaiting our weekly deck of food stamps when a bizarre, maraca-like sound was heard rattling from the sheaves of junk mail. Lo and behold, the old Valvoline Dean was alive and- we take it-quite well. Inside we found a letter that really bears transcribing in full: Dear Almuni, The value of a Seton Hall Law degree continues to grow as a result of the success and support of alumni like you. Our current first year class includes students from 32 states and 155 colleges and universities, making this the largest and most diverse class yet. This trend continues with our current applicant pool, which recently topped 4,000, a record for us. We have regional roots, but we have clearly gained national prominence. Among our many achievements, the Law School has recently: ● Launched an Online Graduate Degree Certificate Program in Health and Hospital Law; ●Convened an esteemed panel of community leaders, lawyers, and stakeholders to discuss the state of autism services in urban school districts, ● Hosted the 11th Annual Representation in Mediation Competition, sponsored by the ABA Section on Dispute Resolution, ● Distinguished itself in recent Mock Trial competitions. In both the 2010 and 2009 National Trial Competition, (NTC), three Seton Hall students advanced to the semi-finals, and one Seton Hall Law student was awarded the Best Oral Advocate Award. Through the generous support of alumni and friends, we have also raised $23.8 million of our $25 million campaign goal with 12 months still to go. None of this would be possible without your strong support. Along with helping Seton Hall Law to gain national distinction, annual giving to the Fund for Seton Hall Law helps to sustain vitally important programming such as: alumni networking events, student scholarships, clinical education serving the most needy members of our community, student organizations, public lectures and so much more. As a seed can only grow through careful and thoughtful attention, gifts of all sizes are essential for nurturing Seton Hall’s ongoing development. A gift to the Fund for Seton Hall Law is especially important in part because it sends the message that you value your legal education. Through your giving, you share with others that you are proud to be part of the Seton Hall Law community. I trust that the seeds we have included with this letter will remind you of the strong roots you help set by supporting the Fund for Seton Hall Law. Please consider making a gift today. I cannot thank you enough for being part of Seton Hall Law through your continued support. Sincerely, Patrick Hobbs, aka the “Valvoline Dean” Talk about light, sweet crude! This saccharine, slightly oleaginous beg-a-thon letter is like a sack of Jolly Ranchers dipped in maple syrup and then rolled in Crisco. Funniest of all was the starter pack of Forget-me-Not flower seeds included in the envelope (and reproduced above for your viewing pleasure). What, pray tell, was this man thinking? Seton Hall grads need nourishing seeds like turnips, maize, and other pantry staples to plant in their “kitchen gardens” to supplement their meager food stamp allowance, not a bouquet of fucking purple flowers. This “gift” is akin to plating daisy fields in Ethiopia. It perfectly illustrates how hopelessly out of touch the law school cartel is with the hard facts on the ground. I doubt even Kim-Jung il would pull a stunt like this on the brainwashed gaggle of serfs he calls a “country,” lest he risk a coup. Funniest of all is the dreck about “a seed only growing through careful nurturing and attention.” Here’s a newsflash: Schools like Seton Hall are noxious, loathsome weeds that can sprout from a sidewalk crack, pothole, or roadside ditch. All they need to “grow” is an empty building, some dusty books for the “library,” and a few lazy, obnoxious louts called “professors’ and poof!: the ABA instantly accredits and the Stafford bucks start rolling in. One only need to “just add suckers,” to paraphrase the old Chia-Pet ads. (As an aside, one wonders how much of that $23.8 million actually came from Seton Hall Law alums, since most live well south of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Wonder if any of that cash came from bare-knuckle shakedowns like Chris Christie’s infamous Bristol Myers deferred prosecution agreement, which even the Wall St. Journal found morally repulsive. ) Sadly, this bumper crop of law schools reaps a bitter harvest of shame. Today’s NY Times featured a story here about a gutter Texas law school that is actually paying private firms up to $3500 a summer just to give their loser students “internships.” Perhaps the time has come to question why Ma & Pa Taxpayer are being asked to subsidize worthless disciplines like law that are saturated to the point that schools are literally bribing private employers to provide makework. Imagine an auto body class that smashed cars on purpose, or a fireman-training academy that engaged in arson. It would, of course, be absurd. Perhaps even criminal. Yet the ABA and the soulless, money-grubbing shysters who operate these diploma mills see no problem with this type of behavior, just so long as they’re the ones profiting from it. Seton Hall’s placement, as we’ve amply noted here at Big Debt, is almost comically poor. Only 2.5% of their grads made it to the Vault 100 back in the heady boom-days of 2006: http://lawfirmaddict.blogspot.com/2006/09/vault-100-placement.html That number is no doubt significantly lower in the current economy, likely well south of 1%. We love pointing out as often as possible that Cozen O’Connor, a 500+ biglaw shop located directly across the street from Seton Hall Law, does not participate in OCI at the school or even bother sending a secretary across the street to collect resumes. This speaks volumes about Seton Hall’s utterly abysmal reputation among large law firms (who are, of course, the only employers paying wages sufficient to service a Seton Hall debt load). Would you attend a culinary school if a 5-star gourmet restaurant across the street didn’t so much as interview a single chef who’d graduated from said school? Not even for a dishwasher position (which is the equivalent of a staff attorney gulag-gig in law)? We didn’t think so. I’d be willing to wager that a culinary school with such an embarrassing dilemma on their hands would soon find themselves out of business. Even funnier: what if said cooking school couldn’t even place grads at the E Coli Café or the Botulism Bistro? You know, those eateries akin to the “greasy spoon” shitlaw firms that chase ambulances and push landlord- tenant sewage thru the municipal-court cesspools? Such is clearly the situation at Seton Hall, where even McDonald’s level-NJ firms are shunning newbie grads for older suckers with a few years of gutter cut n’ paste ”practice experience” under their belts. Yet in spite of all this, prospective law students couple extreme arrogance with ostrich-like denial. Some fool on Top Law Schools was actually delusional enough to say “Maybe lots of Seton Hall grads have quit Cozen because the firm isn’t that great.” Suuure they did, pal. And lots of former McDonald’s fry cooks quit their head chef jobs at the Waldorf and returned to man the grease pits for the sheer love of fries. A ‘Hall grad quitting Cozen would be like Derek Jeter forgoing the Yankees to play for the Camden Riversharks! It just ain’t happenin.’ You can’t totally blame these kids for their rose-colored naivety, however. Apparently, times are so good at Seton Hall Law that the Valvoline Dean has time to multitask. The human oilcan is now not only presiding over a train wreck of a law school, but has simultaneously taken on the “revival’ of the Pirates moribund, also-ran basketball program. Talk about falling upwards! Seriously, with the current legal market the worst since the 1930s, don’t the hapless suckers at SH Law at least deserve a dean whose full attention is focused on wooing employers and at least trying to find his students legal jobs? Lest we forget, these kids are paying 43 K a year tuition to attend this toilet. How in good conscience can this clown devote less than 100% of his attention to the painful disaster of waning legal employment? Instead of ninnying about a near-defunct undergrad b’ball program, how about walking across the stret to Cozen and seeing if anyone (even the janitor) could possibly spare 10 minutes to peruse some Seton Hall resumes? Oh wait- maybe the ‘Hall kids can volunteer at the NJ AG’s office like the saps in this article. I’ve heard they’ve lately taken to wearing T-shirts that say “Ooops, where’s my salary?” on dress-down Fridays. Betcha they all count as “employed” for US News purposes too. Really though, can you blame Hobbs for wanting some time away from the depressing, downright pathetic situation unfolding at the law school? Leaving the court of law for the basketball court must be a welcome breath of fresh air, since at least the NBA is still paying crackerjack wages to top prospects. Perhaps it’s even therapeutic, like Patrick Swayze’s doctor delivering a few babies to wash the stench of death off his hands. Uplifting, if you will. Today’s lawland reminds us of those grim 1930s Dust Bowl photographs from our high-school history books. Remember those poor overall-clad Okies, brandishing corncobs gnawed clean by locusts and barefoot children waddling in filth? Old, decrepit jalopies making their way West to the “promise land?” Those tarpaper shacks would today be a “step-up” for most loser insurance defense and doc review attorneys. Deduct loans from salary and most of these folks are worth literally less than nothing. Under our current laws, these hapless suckers have literally educated themselves into bankruptcy. No discharge for you! A J.D. “credential” grows more worthless by the day as Biglaw continues to hemorrhage work and shitlaw tests new floors for entry-level pay. We leave you, as we so often do, with a song. As Woody Guthrie so famously sang in The Ballad of Pretty Boy Floyd: As through this life you ramble, You’ll meet lots of funny men. Some who rob you with a six-gun, And some with a fountain pen. L4L Comments (37) Law Practice Undergoing “Evolution,” Says Shill Wednesday, March 31, 2010, 11:15:04 AM | lawis4losers We found this recent article from the ABA Journal rather amusing. Ari Kaplan, a transparent shill paid by notorious doc review gulag operators DiscoverReady, has conducted a “study” of the changing legal industry. For those who haven’t had the pleasure, DiscoverReady is a notorious e-discovery sweatshop with offices in NYC. As the ABA article states, corporate clients are no longer paying little “Baxter Davenport the III” from Harvard to scan bales of Broker-Dealer Sub-Agreements at 160 K a year. No indeed. The Fortune 500 crew have awoken to the fact that 90% of what law firms do is time-wasting, pedantic drivel, like using tweezers to build a sandcastle. The Wall St “boyz” wised up and realized that legions of unemployed also-rans with JD’s from gutters like Seton Hall, Brooklyn Law, St Johns et al could churn this pointless makework for 1/10 the rate of a 1st year associate. All that was needed was a ruthless “straw boss” to oversee these losers and keep their eyes glued to those screens 12 hours a day. So entered DiscoverReady! Countless horror stories about the Orwellian work environment and Big-Brotheresque tactics used by Discover Ready are available at Tom the Temp’s site. DiscoverReady harkens a sort of “reverse evolution”, where human beings are reduced to the status of the higher primates. Upon entering the work site, one’s cell phone must be surrendered and stowed in a cubby in the suite’s lobby. This is to prevent the doc coders from entertaining phone calls about better jobs, and keeping them in the dark about possible family emergencies that could cut into doc review time. The worksite is a series of fishtank-like glass enclosures, with strategically positioned “straw bosses” that can view everyone’s screens at all times. Of course, the Internet browsers are disabled anyway, so there’s little chance of anyone checking out Big Debt or other anti-establishment websites while on the clock. The saccharine, puff-piece article closes with a hilarious quote from Harvard prof David Wilkin, who “noted a study by the American Bar Foundation and NALP Foundation for Law Career Research and Education that reported more than 70 percent of lawyers were moderately or very satisfied with their career decision.” “Satisfaction is a blunt instrument,” Wilkins said, “but the portrait of widespread misery is wildly exaggerated.” We’ll let our readers be the judge of that. L4L Comments (28) NY Lawyers: Say “buh-bye” to 18-B work Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 12:46:09 AM | lawis4losers This article from today’s NY Post reveals that lowly court-appointed criminal defense work-long the province of struggling solos- is now going “up for bids” to legal-aid lowballers. This is certainly no surprise to us at Big Debt. Now that legions of deferred Biglaw children are lounging around Legal Aid and other “public interest” enclaves, there’s no economic reason to piss away $75 an hour ($60 for misdemeanors) of NYC tax dollars on some sorry solo schmuck with a broom-closet office on Gerard Avenue. Hell, these Ivy-bedecked Legal Aid kids are essentially “free” since Biglaw is giving many of them ½ salary stipends, so why not use ‘em? Who the hell cares if some CUNY grad’s lifelong dream of defending child rapists and bodega-bandits is dashed because a Biglaw shop didn’t need little “Baxter Davenport the Third’s” paper-churning billables for another year? We suppose it’s kind of like summer camp for this crew, trekking through the mud of the state-court sewers before donning their monogrammed neckties and spiffy SullCrom attaches down at Ulysses’s pub. Of course, the politically correct term for this is “funneling 18b work to institutional providers.” Let’s call it what it really is: another screw-job for the powerless, struggling schmucks who compose 98% of this abysmal “profession.” Don’t be fooled by the “outliers” in the article who make 6-digits a year off this court-appointed stuff. In true tabloid fashion, the NY Post has focused on a few shocking anomalies rather than the norm. Fact is, the 18-b crew are a “who you know, not what you know” club, and new members will likely be as disappointed as an ugly teenager waiting for the prom queen to call. Friends of this blog who’ve endured the onerous admission requirements report that they’re getting only a case or two a month at most, and some not even that. We find the entire situation hilarious, especially since the Solo Practice Cheerleader crew are always harping about what a great “experience-building opportunity” these court-appointed gigs are. Fact is, for most they do little than prolong the solo practice pipedream. Like Titanic victims who clung to bits of flotsam rather than simply drown outright, the court appointed gigs appear to offer hope, a way to keep one’s head above water for a while. Don’t be fooled. You need to be a full-time solo to join the program, and without supplemental income from Biglaw’s dwindling doc-review gulags you’re unlikely to survive very long. On the subject of doc review, we eagerly await the hordes of fomer 18B’ers swallowing their pride and taking to the SullCrom coding cellar. They’ll be waxing nostalgic about the crackheads and pimps after a few weeks in this eternal dungeon of hopelessness. Maybe they’ll at least convince a few starry-eyed coders to pack up the Vista-Print business cards and throw in the towel on the solo-practice pipedream. Coding ain’t much, but it is at least a paycheck. The gang over at Simple Justice are laboring under the delusion that the pathetic 100 K of “lobbying” bucks they’ve committed will actually influence the race to the bottom. He even calls it their “war chest!” It ain’t much of an arsenal, boys. You’re slinging bows and arrows in an age of hydrogen bombs. You’ll lose this battle, and lose it decisively. Hell, the general public already think $75 an hour is beyond outrageous, and have so little respect for your work that they spam craigslist looking for free representation! How many craigslisters troll for free plumbers, free auto mechanics, or free HVAC repairmen? All charge significantly more per hour than most solo-schmuck lawyers, yet the public doesn’t expect them to work for free, now do they? Nor do their trade associations sing the praises of giving away their services from every soapbox big enough to stand on. In conclusion, we at Big Debt propose the following changes to the obligatory Miranda warning: “You have the right to an attorney. Since the ABA has approved 200+ law schools, you’re probably an attorney yourself. If not, and if you so desire and cannot afford an attorney, we suggest you try craigslist. Many attorneys there will work for as little as $9 an hour. Surely you can afford that, can’t you? “ L4L Comments (34) Legal Secretaries Showing some Pride Thursday, March 18, 2010, 11:08:41 AM | lawis4losers By now most Big Debt readers have heard about the infamous $10 an hour associate attorney position recently advertised by this Chicago law firm. Fans of this blog and Tom the Temp are more than familiar with the recent plunge in NYC doc review rates. The “Swine Group” just staffed a 125+ lawyer gig in Midtown for $25 an hour flat, and a recent project for Bloomberg was paying admitted attorneys $19 per hour. That said, we found it amusing that a legal secretary posted this colorful rant on this morning’s central NJ craigslist. How correct she is that high school students (and, we should add, high school dropouts) routinely earn far more money than attorneys and their so-called “support staffs.” I wonder how this gal (or guy?) would feel if they’d invested 7 years and over $150,000 to compete with hundreds of recent grads for $10 an hour jobs, or worse yet work for FREE like the pathetic lemmings at the NJ Attorney General’s office? By the way, here’s the initial craigslist post that the secretary is complaining about: http://cnj.craigslist.org/lgl/1637814302.html Comments (11) Why Coffee Trashed Harry Friday, March 12, 2010, 1:42:25 AM | lawis4losers We diverge a bit from our usual fodder here at Big Debt this week, and instead give a quick shout to American hero Harry Markopolos, the dogged whistleblower who for over a decade struggled to bring Madoff’s billion-dollar Ponzi scheme to the SEC’s attention. Mr. Markopolos is not an attorney, and (not surprisingly) takes a view of the bar that could’ve come straight from the pages of Big Debt. Below are some choice snippets of an interview Mr. Markopolos gave the NY Times on March 1, 2010: Are you saying the S.E.C. under Schapiro is about to catch fraud on Wall Street? She has the wrong staff. They’re a bunch of idiots there. What do you mean? The five commissioners of the S.E.C. are securities lawyers. Securities lawyers never understand finance. They don’t have the math background. If you can’t do math and if you can’t take apart the investment products of the 21st century backward and forward and put them together in your sleep, you’ll never find the frauds on Wall Street. So why doesn’t the S.E.C. hire finance people? Why don’t they hire you? They’re overlawyered. They’re poisoned by lawyers. Light this man a cigar! Bravo to Harry for correctly pointing out the major problem with most attorneys: they simply aren’t very bright. Law, after all, is a degree of last resort: a dumping ground for obnoxious, insecure also-rans who lacked the creativity for art and the brainpower for higher mathematics and science. Long an academic “lifeboat” for drowning liberal-arts losers, it’s one today peppered with holes and sinking by the head. Harry’s spot-on about the bar’s total lack of math ability: most lawyers remove their underpants when required to count higher than twenty. Law was always a “short bus” industry, but now the Cooleys of the world are quickly reducing it to straitjacket status. Any mouth-breather can drool on the LSAT, sleep through 3 years of Socratic time-wasting bullshit, and scribble some passable gibberish on the ole’ barzam. It’s essentially a standardless “profession.” As the old saw goes, the MCAT determines if one goes to med school, while the LSAT merely determines where one goes to law school. Just being a lawyer has of late become a joke in itself, now that the “Top 14” are getting a Taste of the Toilet. With the above in mind, it was beyond arrogant for John Coffee, a Columbia Law securities “professor,” to condescendingly denigrate Mr. Markopolos’s qualifications to be the SEC’s next chairman in today’s Wall Street Journal: “He is what the commission needs only if the commission needs an emotionally unstable idiot savant,” said John Coffee, securities law professor at Columbia Law School. “You cannot be serious. He was right but that does not mean he will be right again.” We’re rendered speechless. For an arrogant, do-nothing slob law professor suckling the Stafford loan teat to criticize an independent, mathematical genius like Markopolos simply transcends hilarity. The bigger question is why anyone at the Wall Street Journal asked this blowhard’s opinion in the first place? What the hell has John Coffee ever done to earn a shred of respect, renown, or credibility? Making 200 K+ to bully a gaggle of second-year lemmings a few hours a week in some coma- inducing securities law class? Publishing obscure law review articles on Footnote 12 to Subchapter 9145(b)V19ii of the Omnibus Corporate Paper-Churning Act? You might as well ask Forrest Gump’s opinion on cold fusion as query an Ivy-league law professor about a topic that involves independent reasoning and complex mathematics (to say nothing of common sense). Imagine being a “fly on the wall” in Coffee’s securities law class when the Madoff scam went down. Poor Coffee, facing all those raised hands asking why this securities law ”genuis” missed the 900 lb gorilla in the room? Adding insult to injury, ole’ Harry was a mere “layperson.” Oh the horror! For those Columbia kids it must’ve been like finding out your woodshop teacher doesn’t know which end of the hammer to grab. If unraveling Madoff’s scheme was such a lark, why couldn’t John Coffee and his Columbia colleagues have figured it out years ago? After all, most law professors enjoy more leisure time than the Maytag repairman, and have a slave-labor pool of sycophant research chimps on call in the lab 24/7. Their Bluebooks are sticky as a teenager’s porn, and nothing would arouse these nerds like a delve into high-level securities paperwork. Coffee and this Ivy-league crew should’ve cracked the Madoff file long before Harry. Mr. Markolpolos’s expertise and eloquence speaks for itself. We at Big Debt won’t sit by idly while the pompous, overpaid assclowns of legal “academia” heckle this hero. It’s an envy endemic to law. Everyone knows the Biglaw partners seethe with jealousy at their hedge-fund clients, who earn more in an hour than most attorneys will in 4 lifetimes. Just look at jokes like “hourly billing,” whoring oneself out in 6-minute increments like a Tuesday-afternoon stripper giving a lap dance. Pathetic. And it’s no secret that Mr. Markopolos’s opinion of the bar is echoed by many Wall Street boyz who simply lack the balls to say so in public. Harry really touched a raw nerve by correctly pointing out that law is essentially a joke of an industry, the perennial laughingstock of the corporate world. Or, as Harry so succinctly put it, “a bunch of idiots.” L4L Comments (63) Good Times! Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 3:06:04 AM | lawis4losers Our pals at the National Jurist published a recent article entitled “The Good That Could Come from this Recession.” Editor-in- Chief Jack Crittenden ruefully notes that; for the past several years, “law schools became filled with many…….who were more focused on a good return on their investment.” How right you are, Jack! Just look at Karen Rothenberg (former UMD dean), who couldn’t scrape by on a mere $410,000 a year salary. Not even close! Ole’ Karen just had to squeeze another 350 K in phantom sabbatical cash from U of Maryland’s lush udders. Talk about “returns.” She was literally paid to do nothing! Compounding the hilarity is this letter penned in her defense by “Professor” Larry Gibson, who helpfully noted that he’d urged Dean Rothenberg to “use professional representation in any negotiations she had with the university.” Gee whiz, Larry, since when do “educators” need agents? I thought education (and legal education especially) was a calling, not a mere job? Did Socrates need a “Scott Boras” to force those ungrateful Sophists to pay up? We always understood that the man taught for free. How funny that the law school cartel scream pro bono’s praises until their larynxes bleed, but behave like A- Rod shaking down Steinbrenner when it comes to their own plush paydays. Oh for the love of pedagogy! While we’re rolling out sports analogies, let’s gallop westward to our favorite punchline: the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Lest we forget, Cooley received ABA accreditation for having more “O’s” in their name than any existing law school. Rich in vowels but poor in job placement, our pals at Cooley recently purchased the naming rights to a minor-league baseball stadium. We’ve been pondering for weeks just how this deal was hatched. Did a phantom spirit command Cooley’s dean, like the voices in Ray Kinsella’s cornfield?: “If you build it, they will come.” Rather than a Field of Dreams, Cooley’s “education” is more like a barren sandlot of nightmares. Perhaps future Cooley grads can launder uniforms and mop up tobacco expectorant down in the new dig’s dugouts? Hell, they’d count as “employed” for US News purposes, so why not? Once these kids “go the distance,” someone’s gonna have to “ease their pain.” Talk about swinging at nothing. This toilet temps you with a fat pitch, then rears back to throw a slider in the dirt. Did I mention the umps are bribed? It’s like a Black Sox version of baseball’s Special Olympics, featuring ”Shoeless Tom” Cooley! Between innings, you might catch a radio ad for the esteemed Touro Law Center, located just a stone’s throw from Biglaw’s swanky digs in the Big Apple. This toilet took to the airwaves to hawk its unemployable grads, buying 30 second spots on WCBS 880 in NYC. Talk about guerilla marketing! Why not go balls-deep and have some local graffiti artists “tag” area buildings with Touro’s logo? It might work. Just imagine: Da Crips, Da Bloods, and Da Touro! Maybe pipe the radio ad thru some phat bass tubes and cruise the ghetto looking for new recruits. Respeckt, motherfuckas! Given the above, it transcends hilarity to expect “ethics reform” (as called for in the National Jurist article) with pigs like the aforementioned running the show. It’s like putting a pedophile in charge of a preschool. These porcine, money-grubbing scoundrels have no interest in “improving” anything other than their obscenely fat paychecks. Make no mistake- these charlatans’ hypocrisy is nothing short of sociopathic. It takes a special breed of swindler to face an auditorium full of 300+ kids and know that 95% of them face nothing but misery, unemployment, and debt-induced poverty three years hence. To know that your paycheck is deducted from their future- that you’re selling a rusted pipedream at platinum prices- is beyond shameful. The acrid bitterness of recent grads (and their blogs) merely give “credit” where due, and with compound interest. I wish to God that every law school dean in America could spend a week amid the filth, soot and cockroaches of Paul Weiss’s NYC basement gulag, staring 14 hours a day into a burned-out tube monitor for $21 an hour (that’s what these scum pay admitted NY attorneys on their doc review gigs). Make the deans defecate in the festering, Porta-Potty sized Paul Weiss bathroom that us temps had to share with homeless street urchins under Rockefeller Center. Let them wallow in the mess they’ve made; reap the hopelessness, debt and suffering they’ve sown. The only real “reform” necessary is returning law to its rightful place as an undergraduate degree (or even an apprenticeship system). A simple and obvious policy follows, to wit: State bars should immediately eliminate graduation from an ABA law school as a licensing prerequisite. There’s absolutely no reason why America’s countless community colleges should be foreclosed from minting new lawyers. In an era of Google Books and Lexis-Nexis, the need for dust-choked law libraries has long passed. Imagine small classes taught by local in-the-trenches attorneys, people who have actually “practiced what they preach.” We’ll wager that many of these folks would teach a night or two a week for as little as $4000 a semester, and do a much better job than the tenured Ivy-League pricks who recycle the same irrelevant drivel year in and year out. Most importantly, these graduates could actually afford to “give something back” and perform meaningful pro-bono work while in school. Furthermore, they might actually be competent at it. Under our new law school model, kids would fill out HUD-1 forms, draft complaints, and maybe tag along in court or attend depositions with their professors. They’d get a real look at practice, taste the water instead of the mirage. Surely this would prove more useful than memorizing Rule Against Perpetuities puzzles and the other pseudo-intellectual drivel that passes for an ABA law school education. The savings in eliminating the bloated deans and adminstrator’s salaries is beyond colossal. Why should someone who doesn’t even teach earn 400 K+ a year? More hilarious is the metric by which success as a dean is defined: the “Holy Grail” of the US News rankings. Who, aside from naïve pre-law message board geeks, cares whether Seton Hall or Car’Bozo is ranked 79th or 56th or whatever? Both schools are perennial losers that charge Yankees field-box prices for bleacher seats at a little-league game. Cellar dwellers in the TTT League’s Eastern division, nothing more. Would a community-college law degree be any more embarrassing than one from these dumps and their ilk? We think not. (Our own Seton Hall degree went into the dumpster many moons ago. It now rots in a landfill like the rest of our once-ambitious dreams). After all, law was long ago stripped of even a vestige of “prestige.” Just watch a few hours of daytime TV and count the hoards of ambulance chasers groveling for your bullshit injury case. Sadly, the insurance lobby has tightened payouts on all but the “Humpty-Dumpty” type injuries, where one literally has to carry his own fractured skull into court in a shoebox to get 10 K out of Allstate (and that’s on a good day). You’re in “good hands” all right- until you file a claim. Then they whip out the iron fists. Our legal system is the laughingstock of the entire Western world, and rightly so. We lock up potheads and free pedophiles, churn 984,945 pages of paperwork for a trailer-park closing on a doublewide but miss Madoff’s billion-dollar heist, and so on. No wonder the general public, per Gallup’s poll, equates the “profession” with used-car salesman and ad execs on the honesty scale: http://www.gallup.com/poll/9823/public-rates-nursing-most-honest-ethical-profession.aspx The ABA has naturally abdicated any responsibility for the systemic, widespread disaster they’ve sown by accrediting the Touros, Cooleys, and Seton Halls of the world. Demand for new lawyers outside the few dwindling Biglaw slots is essentially zero, and now outsourced Indian boiler-rooms and websites like Legalzoom are stripping away the few scraps upon which most TTT grads once fed. If we’re going to allow anyone to become a lawyer, let’s at least make it affordable. Or, as we’ve previously argued, pass a Motor-Lawyer law akin to the Motor-Voter act, where one is admitted to the bar at the same time they receive their driver’s license. Just hurry while you’re inside the DMV, as a Touro grad might steal your hubcaps. L4L Comments (30) Shipping out ShitLaw Wednesday, March 03, 2010, 2:48:37 AM | lawis4losers It was only a matter of time. Yes, Big Debt fans, the inevitable outsourcing of ShitLaw is now underway. These recent comments from a NY no-fault attorney’s blog reveal that lowly insurance defense work- long the province of TTT grads- is now being churned in Bangalore instead of the Bowery. So long, ShitLaw, and bon voyage! Here’s a link to an Indian LPO (Legal Process Outsourcer) who boasts of handling no-fault insurance pleadings for several NYC firms (left side of page). As we’ve long predicted, it was only a matter of time before the insurance defense boiler-rooms sniffed the savings in shipping their legal effluent offshore. Like a welfare recipient buying “Coach” on Canal Street, the rinky-dink firms just couldn’t resist following their Biglaw brethren down outsourcing’s parade route. Monkey-see, monkey-do. Do you blame them? After all, if the AmLaw 250 crew trusts these Third World “lawyers” with billion-dollar M&A deals, patent litigation review and other high-ticket items (all with the ABA’s nascent blessing, of course), why wouldn’t Crash Jackson Esq. let them cut n’ paste bales of whiplash motions together for his $1200 fender-bender files? If anything, the insurance defense sweatshops were latecomers to outsourcing’s bandwagon. We speak from experience here, having launched our legal “career” from a $40 K a year downtown no-fault mill (no kids, that number’s not missing a digit) back in 2006. Sweet Jesus, the memories. King’s Civil Court, 141 Livingston Street, Brooklyn. The infamous 9th floor “no-fault” part. How fondly we recall the motions being wheeled into chambers via a rusted Pathmark shopping cart, its wheels buckling under the weight of so much legal toilet paper. John, the grouchy but loveable court clerk, had Stage IV throat cancer and would hack blood while rasping at us losers to “shut the Fuck up and listen for your case” during calendar call. He wasn’t kidding. John kept a .38 special, sans holster, tucked in the waistband of his trousers. Sometimes he’d hammer a stapler inside a steel wastebasket to get the attention of us barristers when the din of no-fault bickering crossed a certain decibel level. Hell, even a chainsaw operator would cringe at how loud that place could get. We still awake at night with ears ringing, recalling the nightmare of $347 neck-brace negotiations. Those old “dollar collars.” That said, John was one of the few good guys you’ll meet in the miserable sewer of ShitLaw practice. He realized full well what a pathetic waste of time the entire charade was, and how poorly paid we were paid to boot. Your humble narrator’s constant complaining once led him to announce: “if you monkeys ever form a union, you’ve found your shop steward.” They just don’t make ‘em like John anymore. Blue-collar Brooklyn all the way. A Mets fan. God bless the old bastard. Cancer long since carried him away to that big courtroom in the sky. For those unfamiliar with no-fault practice, a brief primer: It’s the legal equivalent of stamping license plates in a prison metalshop, only at lower wages and more authoritarian working conditions. In NY State, a driver’s own insurance company pays medical expenses and lost wages regardless of accident fault. This moronic idea, hatched by “policy” wonks in the NY legislature, naturally resulted in systemic and wholesale disaster. To wit: Mobsters get two junkyard cars, register & insure them, and then recruit homeless dudes and illegal immigrants to stage minor accidents. The police are summoned, an accident report prepared, and the scammers then begin “treating” at bogus outer- borough medical mills operated by the crime syndicate. The insurance carrier is then billed for the phony “treatments” plus a truckload of phantom medical supplies like canes, neck braces, massage units, and so on. NY even allows billing for quack “medicine” like aromatherapy, acupuncture and other witch-doctor nonsense. Like the Lilliputians in Gulliver’s Travels, these parasites teamed up to hamstring the insurance carriers. Remember kids: a cloud of mosquitoes tops a tiger’s death toll any day. The rules & caselaw all favor this infectious swamp of scammers, and billions have been stolen from NY drivers as a result of this ongoing heist. Shady collections law firms “buy” collections files from the clinics at 50 cents on the dollar, file Summary Judgment motions, and then just wait for the case to come up on calendar. For every victory, the medical mill gets an additional cash kickback. The byzantine rules and massive deluge of cases (150+ a day in Brooklyn alone) make it death by a thousand cuts for the carriers, who simply raise rates rather than pay a living wage for the cases to be properly litigated. That doesn’t stop the occasional IDH (Insurance Defense Hero) from slipping thru now and then. All veterans of ShitLaw know the type. These barristers make up for their abysmal salaries in bare-knuckle belligerence and “fighting the good fight.” Unlike the usual hung-over, half-asleep J.C. Penney clad schlubs of ShitLaw, the IDH struts into court like Clint Eastwood entering a saloon. For their 40 K a year they’d take a bullet for Geico or Allstate, and take it with pride. Every case is like “High Noon.” One almost expects an IDH to come flying into depositions wearing tights and a Superman cape. We’ve often thought of pitching this character as an action-hero cartoon. Just imagine: “Slower on the LSAT than a lobotomy victim, more powerless than a day-old fart, able to cut n’ paste huge motions with a single click- what’s that flying into court? It’s a BIRD-it’s a PLANE- no, it’s the INSURANCE DEFENDER !” Hell, we’d watch it. So would you. Today it’s not uncommon for no-fault associates (or what’s left of them) to earn as little as 25 K a year, with turnover measured in hours opposed to months. After just 6 weeks at my first no-fault gig, I’d already risen 7 seniority notches on the letterhead. But wait: this “firm” gets even funnier: Too stingy to buy motion-exhibit tabs, they’d instead have us cannibalize incoming papers for their office-supply content. “Just pry apart the Velotex binding and yank the fuckers out”, said the partner. He even had a custom-bent screwdriver designed just for that purpose. We associates swapped these exhibit tabs like inmates trade smokes. An “Exhibit A” and other high-alphabet letters were always in short supply, whereas a “Q” was common as cabbage. Whenever someone quit we’d quickly plunder his desk to “stock up” on these much-needed supplies. One nasty, rodent-like guy who’d lasted 10 months had a real motherlode: eight “A’s” and eleven “B’s” stashed in his drawer. Or should I say “under his drawer.” Well hidden-the prick. For what motion he was saving them I have no idea. We called him “the squirrel.” This dump also printed us our own cheesy business cards on that perforated cardstock you can buy at Staples. For laughs I’d bring the whole sheet into court and just rip them off as needed, like a dispenser. Once I gave this hot Wilson Elser chick a whole uncut page of them, but she never called me. Sadly, my once-rising star was an elevator to nowhere. Insurance defense work is so boilerplate and mindless that many firms “dump” experienced associates once a certain salary threshold is reached (roughly 60-65 K). Five year’s experience isn’t worth much more than five minutes, and it’s simply more cost effective to “keep the line moving” with freshly minted suckers from Car’Bozo, Brooklyn, NYLS and other gutter schools than pay experienced associates a living wage. Now that Bangalore & Co. are handling all the paper-churning, these insurance “firms” can simply troll craigslist for per-diem clowns to show up in court and bicker over the cases for as little as $25 a file. Like the Joads in The Grapes of Wrath, these migrant barristers wander the court system like fruit pickers. The work was beyond mindless. Like the A-Team, if you’ve seen one episode, you’ve seen ‘em all. The characters changed while the script stayed the same. Day after day, year after year, squads of TTT grads trekked off to court, got yelled at/berated by court personnel, and limped back to the office to cut n’ paste the next day’s sad mountain of paperwork together. “Lateral” options from this practice area included can & bottle scrounging, panhandling on the 7 train, or becoming assistant fry cook at Burger King. Note that the above is written in past tense, akin to a eulogy. Miserable yes, but these insurance-mill jobs (along with serfdom in Biglaw’s doc review gulags) were essentially the only option then available to scores of non-elite grads. Now it’s all over but the singing. With tuition at laughable NYC law schools now creeping toward 50 K a year, we sincerely wonder when the TTT’s Ponzi scheme will finally & fully collapse. How many student loans need go underwater before the suicidal insanity of this “education” sinks in? How many more schools will the ABA accredit, how many stadiums will bear Thomas Cooley’s name? How many more overpriced sabbaticals will Karen Rothenberg “not” take (oops, wrong post.) What’s left of NYC doc review (which is very, very little) now pays rates as low as $25 an hour, sans overtime. Just read Tom the Temp’s blog. And even these crap-jobs now demand 2+ years of electronic discovery experience. With many Top 14’ers getting gut-punched by Biglaw, the situation will grow exponentially worse from Fordham’s underbelly on down thru the lower intestines of Brooklyn, ‘Bozo, and NYLS. Look for a logjam of these grads to start piling up as outsourcing clogs the sewers they once travelled. Along these lines, we leave you with an old NJ joke (we’re Seton Hall grads, after all): “Trenton, flush your toilets- Philly needs the water.” Lawis4Losers aka L4L Comments (35) “Dean” Karen H. Rothenberg, Come on Down! Monday, February 22, 2010, 2:35:46 AM | lawis4losers Dean Karen Rothenberg, “come on down!” You’re the next contestant on this week’s exciting episode of Big Debt! Step right up to Contestant’s Row and compete for millions in Stafford loan loot, alumni shakedowns, and lush government subsidies. All yours for the taking Karen, here behind the big doors on The Price is Right! For those not in our studio audience, this bulletin: News broke over the weekend that former dean of laughable TTT toilet U. Maryland Law, Karen Rothenberg, received $350,000 in compensation for several sabbaticals she apparently never took. Like most pseudo-academic lowlifes who suckle at the Stafford Loan teat, Karen’s apparently corrupt as well as lazy. The incident reeks of backroom dealing and criminal shadiness, all par for the course in the cesspool of today’s education racket. Read about it here: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2010-02-20/news/bal-md.audit20feb20_1_audit-target-ex-dean-payments This booty was, of course, on top of her $371,000 a year “base” salary. Now we know where all those juicy tuition bucks (and alumni contributions) have been going. One hopes that all U Maryland alumni immediately destroy any future donation solicitations and never fork over another dime in light of this scandal. With scores of recent U of M grads unemployed or begging for Beltway area doc review drudgery at $19 an hour, I’ll bet Maryland’s taxpayers are thrilled that they’ve fattened this oinking pig’s already bulging pocketbook. Let’s also note the patent absurdity of a “sabbatical” for a mindless, cut n’ paste slop job field like law. According to the article, “sabbaticals are designed to give professors time away from teaching and administrative responsibilities to conduct research that will benefit the university and enhance their academic standing.“ Hilarious! Hell, the curriculum hasn’t changed since the horse-and-buggy days. Was she going to pay the U.K. a visit to brush up on the history of arson v. houseburning, or spend hours digging into the subtle nuances of International Shoe? We hear the Rule in Shelley’s Case is long overdue for a scholarly dust-off. If that was the idea, we hardly blame her for skipping out. Kids, remember: “by their deeds ye shall know them.” Law is such a boring, dreary, and utterly mind-numbing discipline that even so-called “scholars” avoid it like herpes given half a chance. Remember how “Rain Man” would mindlessly memorize telephone directories? He’s exactly the sort of fellow who’d excel at what passes for legal scholarship. It’s true that these folks need an “institution” to flourish, but it sure ain’t a law school. From what we’ve seen, legal research consists mostly of cutting and pasting long-winded passages of the dullest drivel on Earth (most of which wasn’t worth reading the first time) into progressively longer strings of painfully verbose excrement. It’s kind of a reverse alchemy, where one turns lead into shit. And “give them time away from administrative responsibilities?” What, pray tell, are these? Fabricating a bunch of self-serving lies to publish in the glossy admissions brochures? Tracking down the one student who scored a gig at Skadden while ignoring the shrieking breadlines full of also-rans? Generating bullshit temporary ”research” positions for recent grads so they count as employed for your pals at US News? Most laughable is the line about “enhancing academic standing.” C’mon now. Everyone knows that there’s the Top 14, and outside that a gaggle of pathetic diploma mills that jockey for #47 or #61 or whatever in US News each year. If these clowns had any pride in themselves, they’d simply cease participating in this farce much as the dental schools rightly did years ago. Or maybe pull a Thomas Cooley and invent their own rankings (sadly, Cooley showed their short- bus colors by not ranking themselves #1 in their own comical publication). Let’s be honest, folks: Sabbaticals were designed for disciplines which require intellectual innovation, independent thinking, and the discovery of cutting-edge information. Archeology, chemistry, medicine, botany- these are the areas that spring to mind. Areas rich with new scholarship and genuine academic discourse. Folks who love learning simply for learning’s sake, in other words. Law does not qualify. It never did. For most of American history it was simply a trade akin to blacksmithing, carpentry, and plumbing. Young barristers served an apprenticeship, learned the basics, and then commenced practice. Of course, where does that system leave Karen and her ilk in academia? Isn’t it far better to pretend law is some “majestic” intellectual cipher that one can only decode by investing 3 years and thousands of dollars in tuition, fees, study guides and so on? How did Lincoln, Darrow and Webster scrape by without paying the Karen Rothenbergs of the world $371,000 a year to give annual pep talks about “pro-bono” and “giving something back?” It’s a question that far too few ask. I hope that any potential law students reading this blog appreciate this rare “peek under the hood” at the engines of this so- called profession. Make no mistake: these people are scum. They are liars, cheats, and swindlers more viscerally corrupt and morally bankrupt than the boiler-room con-men who swindle old-timers out of their Social Security checks. At least those geezers have one foot in the grave already. The law school shysters prey on our youth, saddling them with non- dischargeable debt based on outright lies about salary, employment, and the practice of law itself. Every last God-damned one of them should be doing the perp-walk. At least Madoff’s “investors” didn’t have to spend time with the SOB. In law, you face your fleecers every day while enduring their pedantic ego-trips and phony concern for your future. The legal education con makes Bernie seem a mere piker. One hopes the Maryland legislature turns this episode into a “teachable moment.” Here’s Lesson #1: Strict administrator salary caps for any school which participates in the Stafford Loan program. Sabbatical scandal aside, it shocks the conscience that a law school dean is worth $371,000 a year while recent grads struggle for sporadic doc review gigs at $19 an hour and no health benefits. For what are these kids paying? Her “intellectal firepower?” A toddler pissing in his squirt gun boasts a better arsenal than most lawyers, including our vanuted Supreme Court. Law really is for losers. Remember, the “product” these schools produce is essentially worthless. Mark Greenbaum’s excellent LA Times op-ed (reprinted in full on this blog) notes that law schools produce exponentially more grads than the industry can absorb, and in areas like the Beltway this is doubly so. They could padlock this toilet along with American and George Washington and still the DC market would struggle to absorb just the Georgetown kids (many of whom labor in doc review despite their spiffy Top 14 status). Let’s hope Karen leaves The Price is Right studio with some lovely parting gifts, like a criminal indictment and long stretch in the slammer. This is your host Law is 4 Losers reminding you all to help control the legal population- have all deans spayed or neutered. So long everybody! UPDATE Tues. 2/23: A Google search reveals this hilarious discussion of the Dean on a sports blog: http://www.insidemdsports.com/forums/showthread.php?t=29373 Apparently, some students sent around a private email comparing a photo of a homely professor with a member of the band Run DMC. A stoool pigeon who’d hacked into someone else’s email tattled to the dean, and she called in all parties for a lecture on “ethics” and “racism,” etc. Here’s an excerpt from the thread: Yes, and it only came to light, and MattW had to have a meeting with Dean Rothenberg to have his “ethics” questioned because ”MattW” sent a private e-mail to the Editor-in-Chief of our Journal with this pictorial comparison for a cheap and juvenile laugh. No big deal. The sycophantic teaching assistant to the Journal sponsor who was on the journal (who was in your Class of ’05 and had been turned down for Editor-in-Chief because he was also somewhat psychotic) had, unbeknownst to everyone, been regularly hacking into the Editor-in-Chief’s e-mail and monitoring said e-mail. Said sycophantic teaching assistant runs to the Deans and the journal sponsor with the e-mail containing the pictorial comparison. Administration doesn’t say a word to sycophantic teaching assistant about the fact that he violated Maryland law by his electronic hacking, nor is he penalized in any way, but all hell breaks loose for MattW for having the audacity to send a private e-mail to another student that is considered to have racist undertones.” Too funny. As we’ve argued before on Big Debt, the fact that these deans get to sit in judgment of others is beyond laughable. They themselves are as corrupt as it gets, with their fake employment stats, bogus salary numbers, and (in Rothenberg’s case) unearned sabbitical cash funneled through a backroom deal. I hope the investigation comes down hard on this miserable, hypocritical, money-grubbing old hag. 371 K a year is an astronomical salary for a pointless, do-nothing cupcake job like running a toilet law school. The message board continues: Yes, my friends… this is Maryland Law. And they wonder why I pretty much laugh in their face when they call asking for money now. Good for you. I always tell my law school that I’d donate to Al Queda and the Man-Boy Love Association before I’d give them a cent. Time to padlock these toilet schools once and for all. There aren’t enough jobs for 1/10 the number of grads these diploma mills crank out. Shut ‘em down. Comments (35) A New Pimp on the Block Tuesday, February 16, 2010, 12:21:46 AM | lawis4losers We usually leave the bare-knuckle tactics of doc review sweatshops/projects to our friends over at Tom the Temp: http://temporaryattorney.blogspot.com That said, a new pimp on the doc review block just cried out for a quick Big Debt post. A craigslist ad posted moments ago heralded the imminent arrival of Intelligent Doc Review, Inc. on the NYC scene (By the way, aren’t “intelligent” and “document review” oxymoronic?) http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/lgl/1602388079.html Let’s take a look at IDR’s “intelligent” website: http://www.yourdocreview.com/central.html How swell that they offer “Full Service Doc Review at Midwest Prices.” Of course, the unfortunate attorneys who work for these pimps must pay NYC cost of living rates, which are slightly higher than, say, Muncie, Indiana. They of course accomplish this sleight-of-hand by deflating the hourly rate. Per the craigslist ad, they offer $27 an hour in NYC, which sadly isn’t even rock bottom for admitted lawyers on doc review anymore. An infamous agency called “The Dine Group” (nicknamed the “Swine Group” by none other than your humble narrator), just staffed a 125+ lawyer project in Midtown NYC at $25 flat. For a real laugh, click on the “IDR Local” tab of the website and read their condescending thoughts on legal staffing. We especially enjoyed the reference to “Friday morning bagel deliveries.” For those who haven’t done doc review, it was once common for the staff agency pimps to deliver some dog-treats to the kennel once a week as a token gesture of “kindness.” As the economy worsened, these treats became fewer and further between. Not that they were anything great to start with. Back in 2005, pizza was often the Friday snack, although the “toppings” were simply garlic powder and oregano. In your blogger’s opinion, one can’t really term these “toppings” since they’re available for free at the pizzeria. A proper topping is a meat or meat-by-product that is laid atop the cheese at extra cost before baking. As the economy worsened, pizzas soon gave way to bagels, a cheaper nuritional alternative. These were often stale and tasted as if they’d come from a “day-old” bread store or possibly a bakery’s dumpster. Pigeons and waterfowl even shunned them. One infamous agency featured “Cookie Wednesdays,” where a grease-soaked box of scorched, inedible hockey pucks dripping with trans-fats was the weekly reward. Sadder still was the glee with which the coders welcomed these pathetic treats. Also hilarious were the sacchrine smiles and phony sincerity with which the agencies delivered these “gifts.” They’d set down the cookies as if they’d just paid off your mortgage or something. On one large & infamous project in Newark, NJ, a squad of “pizza monitors” were soon drafted to maintain order when the pies arrived. It was born of necessity. Coders would literally hoard the slices, even packing the break-room freezer with leftovers like a squirrel putting up nuts for the winter. Many acted as if they hadn’t eaten all week, elbowing one another out of the way for a chance at the “bubble-crust” slice. It’s not surprising. Doc review attorneys (and those at small firms) are the new face of the working poor. Buried in debt and hawking a worthless, overpriced degree in a rapidly shrinking marketplace, many send their kids to bed hungry. Times will only get leaner as the ABA accredits scores of new diploma mills yearly and continues the wholesale outsourcing of legal work offshore. We especially liked the IDR line that “too many projects are being lost to overseas vendors because of unnecessary cost.” Of course, these “unnecessary costs” include paying licensed professionals a living wage, providing them with a health-care plan, a clean and safe work environment, etc. How about the partner’s “unnecessary costs?” Is any paper-pushing lawyer worth $900 an hour? Law firms have cash-a-plenty for art collections, A-class office space, courtside basketball tickets, limo rides, and so on. Yet the pack mules who do 90% of the work on these cases are treated like subhuman pieces of excrement. I’ve been accorded more basic courtesy and respect as a dishwasher, waiter, and landscape crew member than I ever was at any law firm. So here’s your “global economy,” kids. As many warned when NAFTA was gathering steam, “globalization” is nothing more than the systemic dragging of the American middle class down to Third-World poverty levels while a precious few (law firm partners, CEO’s) score utterly disgusting profits. Ross Perot called the loss of American jobs that “giant sucking sound,” and the big- eared bastard was right. At the rates IDR is offering, they may as well just send these jobs off to Mumbai and Bangalore and get it over with. Adjusted for cost of living, those serfs earn exponentially more than their American counterparts. Comments (26) Are law schools pulling a “Plato’s Cave?” Tuesday, February 02, 2010, 2:15:09 PM | lawis4losers Having majored in worthless undergrad disciplines like English Lit, Poli-Sci, Philosophy and other future Starbucks barista subjects, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave will no doubt ring familiar to many Big Debt readers. For those unfamiliar with the parable, a brief summary is presented below. From www.wisegeek.com: In the beginning of the Allegory of the Cave, Plato represents man’s condition as being “chained in a cave” with only a fire behind him. He perceives the world by watching the shadows on the wall. He sits in darkness with the false light of the fire and does not realize that this existence is wrong or lacking. It merely is his existence — he knows no other nor offers any complaint. Plato next imagines in the Allegory of the Cave what would occur if the chained man were suddenly released from his bondage and let out into the world. Plato describes how some people would immediately be frightened and want to return to the cave and the familiar dark existence. Others would look at the sun and finally see the world as it truly is. They would know their previous existence was farce, a shadow of truth, and they would come to understand that their lives had been one of deception. A few would embrace the sun, and the true life and have a far better understanding of “truth.” They would also want to return to the cave to free the others in bondage, and would be puzzled by people still in the cave who would not believe the now “enlightened” truth bearer. Many would refuse to acknowledge any truth beyond their current existence in the cave. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? In imitation of Plato’s prisoners, American teenagers are today gorged on a gluttonous buffet of just such “flickering shadows.” Like portly customers at a Bob’s Big Boy, one slathers on successive degrees like ranch dressing, a compulsory fattening-up for the inevitable student loan slaughter. Sadly, this education binge thickens Access Group’s girth while the bled-out victims reserve a spot in the austere future’s food-stamp lines. From kindergarten’s opening minutes forward, it’s beyond axiomatic that “college is a must” and “education is the answer.” One’s own VIP ticket, a backstage pass to a concert called success. Early indeed it begins. Before Junior is through soiling his diapers, he’s likely endured a flickering barrage of phonics-building DVDs, cognitive-theory coaches, and other fashionable accessories of the preschool-pimp parasites to whom his parents earnestly fell victim. It’s beyond endemic. For most Big Debt readers, the last stop on education’s railroad was the Juris Doctor station (which, of course, preceded the eventual train wreck). For others, the LLM (Lawschools Looting Money) credential proved too tempting a dessert, a snifter of port to soothe the post-JD bellyache. But unlike Pepto-Bismol, these “chasers” only exacerbate one’s heartburn, like a shot of Drano after a keg of Liquid Plummer. Talk about a hangover! You’ll awaken to an empty wallet and a bloody rectum if you head out on the LLM bender. But enough booze analogies. Let’s step off the ole’ club car and have a look around, shall we? “In the beginning,” as the Bible so states- or is it “back to the future?”…. The choreography of the typical TTT law school’s “admitted students day” is the law school circus tent’s first sideshow. Sweet Jesus, remember that? We at Big Debt headquarters sure do, just like it was yesterday. Nostalgia? We think not. As we know, the JD carnival’s opening act is invariably the “successful alumni” spiel. These masters of illusion make David Copperfield seem a mere piker. Like Plato’s parable, the lemmings march lock-step into an auditorium’s dimmed cave and intently watch these “shadows” grab the podium and commence their smoke n’ mirrors act. Without fail, these shadow grad shills are valedictorian and/or Top 1% types, the hand-picked winners of the TTT lottery. Maybe the ABA brochures should adopt a new sweepstakes-esque catchphrase, such as “all it takes is Access Group and a dream” or “hey, you never know?” Why not? As Big Debt readers know, one’s chances of success in today’s glutted legal industry is as likely as a winning Powerball ticket. But on with the show! The culinary warm-up to the “shadow grad” speech is invariably a sumptuous breakfast spread, complete with omelet station, crisp rashers of bacon, and Starbucks coffee served in monogrammed Law School mugs that one retains as a souvenir upon the festivity’s conclusion. The tuxedo-clad servers add an air of bourgeoisie elegance, a subtle prelude to the three-martini lunches and country club socials soon to come once that JD sheepskin is framed on the wall. As the bacon sizzles and the coffee flows, many gunners-to-be start comparing LSAT scores and boast of pre-law seminars and top-secret-study aids they’ve already committed to memory: Gunner #1: “So, I suppose you’ve read Palsgraf already, right? I found the holding an interesting take on the mores of early 20th Century post-Edwardian legal positivism myself, and can’t wait to discuss same in class.” Non-Gunner: “I dunno dude, all I’m ‘holdin’ is these porkroll egg n’ cheese sandwiches! By the way, check out this Lamborghini brochure I just picked up. Once I get my Jay-Dee I’m goin’ with a phat Countach! Rollin’ models and bottles, boss!” It’s obvious that even the busboy wants to punch both these obnoxious tools in the face. But before long, it’s off to the plush auditorium. The show’s already on the road! Without fail, some perky alumnette will first discuss her amazing experience at __________ Law School. The words “justice,” “pro- bono,” and “give something back” will occur as frequently as “motherfuckas” in a rap song. The shadow grad will then segue into a few “soft” negatives, like the time Professor X gave her an A- on a third-year Art Law exam. The spotlight will then pan to Professor X, seated stage left, who will blush and giggle dutifully on cue. Soon the bullshit begins proper. Often it’s a thrilling dissertation on some pro-bono matter where Mrs. Alumnette Esq. single- handedly rescued some innocent killer from “the chair,” rushing breathlessly into the execution chamber mere seconds before the voltage began flowing. Or perhaps an Erin Brokovich type-fable, where corporate greed’s poisoning of the water supply was exposed via passionate volleys of motion practice. Rarely are the 2:15 am Xmas eve re-reviews of “Global Bi-Lateral Broker- Dealer Sub Agreement Addendums” mentioned, nor the thrill of Excel spreadsheet billing codes discussed. Most conspicuously absent are the also-ran grads, who receive no invite to discuss their $17 an hour doc review gigs, insurance defense sweatshops, or Sallie Mae wage garnishments. No sir, kemo sabe. No gate crashers allowed at this party. Following the obligatory alumni spiels, the huckster dean will offer some closing remarks along the lines of “remember when you buy that first Ferrari to swing by old ______ Law School and drop off a donation check” and other pipedream-laced platitudes. Often he’ll toss in a few token warnings about “honor codes” and other ethics gibberish, along with what a privilege it’ll be to spend the next 3 years with a crew of fellow Type-A a-holes. Often the “sacrifice” of one’s law professors is noted, and how they’ve “forsaken millions in private practice to share their knowledge with you.” The lifetime tenure, 175 K salary, and five- hour, seven-month-a-year workweeks usually go unmentioned. Oh, how our memory fades. We’d almost forgotten the obligatory To Kill a Mockingbird speech, a reliable staple in the TTT dean’s dumpster of clichés. Our old buddy, Mr. Atticus Finch himself. A trusty multi-tasker, this fictional tale blends hope with guilt, a surefire “can’t-miss” combo. A top-notch salesmen like the Valvoline Dean can cue the Kleenex rations upon conclusion of this tear-jerking chestnut. His oleaginous delivery, neatly wrapped in Brown v. Board of Ed’s swaddling clothes, has yet to spare a dry eye in the lemming’s cave. You’ll sign the loan paperwork as proudly as the Declaration of Independence upon the finale of this slickster’s uber-smooth sales pitch. A fool and his money are soon parted, as the old saw goes. On the subject of cost, let’s further break down the tuition digits for a laughing-stock “school” like Seton Hall. You’re looking at $44,000 a year; $22,000 a semester. There are roughly 14 weeks in a semester with about 15 hours of class a week. Do the math. You’re paying roughly $104 an hour, or $1.73 a minute at sticker price. A long-distance call to your uncle in Madagascar is probably cheaper. And just what exactly are you paying for, pray tell? Take this limousine liberal assclown, “Professor” Mark Denbeuax of the Seton Hall Unemployment Center. He’s the sort of academic D-list “pinch hitter” the cable news blabbers recruit for filler material when the midgets from Little People, Big World or other celebrities cancel out just before airtime. Let’s hear Mark’s fascinating thoughts on Gitmo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqXacCsGtKM We won’t squander bandwidth responding to the absurd ramblings of this overpaid TTT dingleberry and that burly Rachel Maddow fellow (especially given reports that the recent Xmas Day airline bomber was reportedly networking in Yemen with released Gitmo detainees). Ah, Denbeuax. Must we suffer such fools gladly? Or, as the “Terrance Mann” character told Kevin Costner in the movie Field of Dreams while throwing him out of his apartment: “Oh my God! You’re from the Sixties, aren’t you? Out! Get out right now, there’s no place for you here in the future! Peace! Love ! Dope! Back to the Sixties with you! It transcends hilarity that a contracts “professor” from a TTT like Seton Hall has convinced himself that he’s an authority on Gitmo and international terrorism. Please Mark, for the sake of Western humanity stick to UCC-2-207 and quantum meruit and the other hackneyed chestnuts in your shopworn One-L repertoire. Your grasp of reality is so tenuous it makes the late Michael Jackson seem downright grounded by comparison. We at Big Debt do thank you for the laughs, though. Television hasn’t treated us to a spectacle this side-splitting since Barney Fife compared the Mayberry County Jail to Alcatraz on the old Andy Griffith Show. And gee-whiz, Mark, it sure must be nice to pull down a guaranteed six-digit salary and clock a grueling 8-hour work week, no? Wonder how many One-L classes got cancelled while you were down in Gitmo springing bloodthirsty Al-Qaeda warriors from lockdown? We’re sure you wrote those kids a personal check for the $104 per hour of class time that was cancelled, right? Wow. That’s too harsh, even for us here at Big Debt. Or is it? After all, professor, I doubt the children really missed much. As we witnessed in the YouTube clip, his plodding rhetorical charms reminds one of Corky the Retard delivering a book report on Where’s Waldo? As we know from detective shows like NYPD Blue, when the fuzz want to know a suspect’s reputation, they start by asking his neighbors. Let’s knock on Cozen O’Connors door, a huge 550+ attorney Biglaw slop-shop located directly across the street from Seton Hall’s battle-scarred Newark campus: http://www.cozen.com/careers_lawstudents.asp?d=1&m=2 Hilarious! Seton Hall is conspicuously absent from the OCI schedule despite being located directly across the street from the school! What does it tell you about Seton Hall’s reputation that a major international firm won’t spare ten minutes to send someone across the street to scrounge resumes, much less participate in OCI? Did you know that only 4 of Cozen’s 550 associates are Seton Hall grads, and the firm hasn’t hired anyone new from Seton Hall in nearly a decade? We’ll bet a fat deck of food stamps you didn’t. Seton Hall’s professors shouldn’t be hanging out at Gitmo and trolling the cable news rounds, they should be groveling on bended knee begging the partners at these firms to show up and hire some students (or at least interview them!) A dash of fellatio probably wouldn’t hurt. Here at Big Debt, we really have to laugh at the commentators who rant about recent graduate’s “sense of entitlement.” Imagine! Who do these ungrateful law students think they are, investing $132,000 raw tuition and three years study at some TTT and then expecting employment opportunities upon graduation? It apparently never occurs to the law schools that their overpriced, impractical, and all-around useless curriculum fails to impart any marketable skills which legal employers (or any employers, for that matter) are willing to pay for. As Warren Buffet once said, “when the tide goes out, you see who’s been swimming naked.” Here’s a newsflash, ABA: most law grads have been swimming sans trunks for over a decade. Only the poisonous tide of dead-end doc review kept the waters high enough to cover their pathetic, shivering nudity. Now these jobs have been sucked offshore like a riptide by the crumbling economy and the ABA’s sell-out outsourcing opinion. The newbies are exposed, streaking across the shoreline barenaked and penniless. There’s “nowhere to run to, JD’s, nowhere to hide.” Given the above, the real sense of entitlement comes not from recent grads, but the law schools themselves. Why do TTT punchlines like Seton Hall, Car-Bozo, or New York Law School feel entitled to charge the same tuition as Yale and Harvard? Why do law professors (who sorely lack the rigorous academic, peer-reviewed publication & research grounding) as profs in other fields feel entitled to guaranteed 6 figure tenured paychecks for recycling the same ancient 18th century cases year in and year out? Why do the ABA schools feel entitled to publish blatantly fraudulent salary and employment data and furnish said self- serving falsehoods to a national magazine for publication? Make no mistake- there’s no “free market” at work here. In fact, it’s the furthest thing from it. The law school cartel is directly subsidized by Ma & Pa Taxpayer via the colossally inept Stafford Loan program. As such, a law school’s sole purpose is the separation of young, futureless suckers from wheelbarrow loads of Uncle Sam’s student loan booty. Once cash-tapped, the kids are then dumped-bereft of practical skills, training, or a shred of marketable experience- into a declining job market glutted beyond all comprehension. These so-called “students” are really just irritating middlemen in the Ponzi scheme, needed only to sign the paperwork and keep the cash cow gushing milk. Outside of the top 5%, there’s little more the so-called “career centers” can do but wave the also-rans off to craigslist, or have them badger other loser alumni for volunteer cut n’ paste gigs in insurance defense or other moribund, minimum-wage practice areas. And enough already with the “bootstraps” compassionate-conservative shtick and the “positive thinking” pipedreamers. We especially enjoy the scolders who admonish us at Big Debt that there are no “free rides” in law. “Free rides?” Surely thou jest! There’s a fleet of pimped-out party buses stuffed with drunken professors and worthless, do- nothing administrators taking a veritable booze cruise on Uncle Sam’s Stafford-loan dime. It’s long past time we slash the tires and dump some sand in their gas tank. But how? A frequent criticism of Big Debt is that we propose no solutions. Here’s one for starters: There’s no reason whatsoever why America’s community colleges couldn’t staff a competent law program with experienced, local “in the trenches” practicing attorneys who’d each work a night or two a week for $2500 a semester. A bachelor’s degree need not be a prerequisite (in most of Europe law is an undergrad degree, and their approach to drug possession, non-violent crime, and other issues is clearly far superior to the “throw away the key” mandatory minimum model drafted by our mouth- breathing Juris Doctor-legislators.) Imagine the myriad benefits of this pedagogic model. The kids would learn local law and procedure, hear stories about the “real world” and business side of the law, and maybe even tag along and watch their professor try a case or take a deposition. Perhaps the programs could even serve as local Legal Aid societies, with students cutting their chops on real cases right away under well-seasoned, local supervision. Wouldn’t this make more sense than memorizing Rule Against Perpetuities puzzles and the other pointless, pseudo-intellectual drivel that passes for an ABA law school education? After all, apprenticeship is how Lincoln, Darrow and Webster all became barristers. How shameful is it that recent grads are experts on arson vs. houseburning and other Shakespearean-era trivia but unable to fill out a HUD-1 form, preliminary conference order, or even litigate a simple small claims case? If we operated medical schools in this way, we’d still treat staph infections with bloodletting and polio with mustard plasters. State bars should immediately implement this common-sense approach and permit non- ABA educated lawyers to practice in all 50 states. Let a real “free market” stripped of the ABA’s iron grip fill the so-called gaps. With their recent #08-451 outsourcing opinion, the ABA have disrobed themselves of even a fig leaf’s wisp of professional legitimacy. After all, the American Biglaw Association fully endorses the doctrine that outsourced 3rd world serfs are fully capable of practicing American law so long as it pads their already-repulsive profit margins. Given that, one must suppose that the ABA’s prescribed “education” standards no longer serve a purpose either. In this age of Google Books and Lexis-Nexis, it makes no sense to mandate dust-choked libraries stuffed with arcane treatises and expensive case reporters. The notion that more lawyers=lower prices is true (just check out craigslist), but sadly most of these solo newbies are worthless as laypeople when it comes to even “simple” cases. We recently witnessed a new “solo” grad make an absolute spectacle of herself during a routine DWI case, and the judge even warned her (while imposing sanctions) “not to come before this court again until you learn how to practice.” His anger was misplaced. The sanctions should be Fed-Exed right to her law school’s doorstep. The “on the job training” that new solos go thru comes, of course, at a client’s expense. But all is not lost. Should a walk-in require help with a Rule in Shelley’s Case issue or find Grandma is a “fertile octogenarian,” the recent grad will Bluebook things right into shape. Hell, what do you expect with a “leader” like ABA President Carolyn Lamm, who made a name for herself scoring beaucoup lobbyist cash on behalf of deplorable third-world regimes? Maybe this corporate whore even picked up pointers from her Uzbekistani human-rights abuser pals about how White & Case might maximize output from the serfs currently laboring in her own firm’s doc review gulags? Work will set you free! Lord knows we’ve been there. Squeezing our shrinking doc-review nickels until the buffalo shits while Carolyn and her Biglaw buddies yuk it up at DuPont Circle brie parties sure ain’t much fun, is it? It’s sad that ATL’s brilliant, swashbuckling muckrakers even lowered themselves to bickering with this witless shell of a human being and her dwindling joke of an organization. Carolyn’s rhetorical skills are decidedly bush-league and painfully amateurish. This morally bankrupt Biglaw clown has clearly waded out far beyond her depth. Thin-skinned as a jellyfish and barbed with a topically toxic “defense,” our own Carolyn Lamm. She’s all bark and no bite. Pity her. Like most Biglaw partners and ABA stooges, this “Lamm” is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. We all know the type. She’s a coddled, insecure, money-grubbing sociopath with the morals of a cesspool rodent. Amid the blogosphere’s cyclone of talented writers, her company-gal rhetoric has imploded like a tarpaper shack. It’s a meltdown we at Big Debt find downright comical. Don’t take our word for it or think we’re exaggerating. Even the august editors at high-brow Harper’s magazine saw through her self-serving charade and had some VERY strong words (for a mainstream publication) regarding her bought-and-paid-for Biglaw clichés: http://www.harpers.org/archive/2009/11/hbc-90006147 This scoundrel couldn’t “lead” us here at Big Debt across the street. Her appointment as our industry’s de-facto face is nothing short of a professional embarrassment. As Groucho Marx once quipped: “I wouldn’t join any club that would have me as a member.” Truer words were never spoken with regard to the ABA. Naming her as your “president” tells us ordinary lawyers everything we needed to know about the ABA’s nefarious internal machinery (as if we didn’t already). But thanks all the same, ABA. I’ll still relish sending my annual donation envelope back empty so you get nicked for 44 cents meter-mail return postage, and encourage all Big Debt readers to do likewise. And if you want to grow your membership rolls, Carolyn, I suggest you solicit Aditya and Rajiv over in Bangalore, although it might take them a while to scrounge their annual dues on the 40-cent an day salary they’re paid to code Biglaw’s outsourced bales of billable, mind-numbing slop. But hey, they’re “lawyers” just like us ABA-school grads, right? Competing on a playing field this unlevel is akin to a baseball game where one side get 15 outs an inning and the other three. Like Gaylord Perry, the ABA has a crotch full of Vaseline and a wad of sandpaper up their sleeve. Their pitches are downright filthy, and the umpire has been bribed. Kids, seriously, if you are currently enrolled at Seton Hall, Brooklyn, ‘Bozo, NYLS or any other also-ran private school, take a good, hard look at first semester grades. Realize that you can bail out now and save yourself a lifetime of crushing, impoverished misery. You’re on board the Titanic and the iceberg has been hit, but lifeboats remain. Board them now. Don’t go down with the ship and hope you’ll find some flotsam or jetsam to grab hold of in the drying cesspool of the legal job market. There is no “market” to speak of, just hordes of heavily indebted losers cold-sending resumes into craigslist’s barren ghetto. Your leverage via a vis salary is pathetic, like trying to budge a boulder with a chopstick. Jobs paying south of 40 (and even 30) K a year are getting bombarded with hundreds of resumes in the infamous “white-out” phenomenon described in our Shingle Hanger post last month. Don’t buy into the “versatility” shtick either. A JD isn’t a Swiss Army knife or some all-purpose resume improvement tool. You’re an attorney, not MacGyver. In this painful economy, HR departments are looking for relevant, specialized work experience and cookie-cutter resumes, not castoff paper-churners who can “synthesize appellate caselaw,” whatever that means. You don’t use a hammer to drive a screw, and employers seldom hire a JD for anything but the practice of law (unless you count the JD burger flippers and busboys, LOL). We here are Big Debt have ventured out of the cave, seen the world as it is, and now make our rounds showing others the light. Most, like Plato’s prisoners, reject our view. They enjoy the cave’s warm comfort, its flickering shadows and familiar chains. Puppetry versus reality. As Einstein quipped: “The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over, and then expecting different results.” Today’s kids have- we posit- no excuse. They’ve heard the blogosphere’s bad news and thus proceed at their peril. Most make the law-school decision mindlessly as moths flying into a porchlight (and encountering a similar result). Yet onward the lemmings flutter, munching popcorn in Plato’s cave as the charade proceeds. At pre-law websites like Top Law Schools, the children find their prospects forever bullish, naïve as toddlers awaiting Santa’s chimney-slide. They’re in for an empty stocking and a face-full of soot. Better burn that lump of coal Santa leaves you for heat, since that’s the only “gift” you’re getting from today’s legal industry, kids. For God’s sake, things are so bad that hordes of recent grads are commuting 2 hours each way to work for free, right here in NJ: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121274655 Seven years of higher education to “compete” for a chance to work hard for nothing! The “volunteers of America,” as Jefferson Airplane sang. Stories like that rarely make the admissions brochures, eh? Thank your lucky stars for Big Debt. As the late Paul Harvey used to opine: “and now you know the rest of the story. Good day! The kids in Bristol, Are sharper than a pistol When they do the Bristol Stomp L4L Comments (44) LA Times says: No More Room on the Bench! Friday, January 08, 2010, 3:12:35 PM | lawis4losers Wow, wow, and just WOW! Perhaps the hardest-hitting mainstream Op-Ed yet on the dismal state of the legal “job market.” The writer sounds like a Big Debt fan! We argued in our inaugural post here at Big Debt about stripping the ABA of all accredation authority, and have noted their visceral systemic corruption and blatant conflicts-of-interest for years. From todays Los Angeles Times: The American Bar Assn. allows unneeded new law schools to open and refuses to regulate them. The government should consider taking steps to stop the flow of attorneys into a saturated marketplace. By Mark Greenbaum Remember the old joke about 20,000 lawyers at the bottom of the sea being “a good start”? Well, in an interesting twist, thousands of lawyers now find themselves drowning in the unemployment line as the legal sector is being badly saturated with attorneys. Part of the problem can be traced to the American Bar Assn., which continues to allow unneeded new schools to open and refuses to properly regulate the schools, many of which release numbers that paint an overly rosy picture of employment prospects for their recent graduates. There is a finite number of jobs for lawyers, and this continual flood of graduates only suppresses wages. Because the ABA has repeatedly signaled its unwillingness to adapt to this changing reality, the federal government should consider taking steps to stop the rapid flow of attorneys into a marketplace that cannot sustain them. From 2004 through 2008, the field grew less than 1% per year on average, going from 735,000 people making a living as attorneys to just 760,000, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics postulating that the field will grow at the same rate through 2016. Taking into account retirements, deaths and that the bureau’s data is pre-recession, the number of new positions is likely to be fewer than 30,000 per year. That is far fewer than what’s needed to accommodate the 45,000 juris doctors graduating from U.S. law schools each year. This jobs gap is even more problematic given the rising cost of tuition. In 2008, the median tuition at state schools for nonresidents was $26,000 a year, and $34,000 for private schools — and much higher in some states, such as California. Students racked up an average loan debt in 2007-08 of $59,000 for students from public law schools and $92,000 for those from private schools, according to the ABA, and a recent Law School Survey of Student Engagement found that nearly one-third of respondents said they would owe about $120,000. Such debt would be manageable if a world of lucrative jobs awaited the newly minted attorneys, but this is not the case. A recent working paper by Herwig Schlunk of Vanderbilt Law School contends that with the exception of some of those at the best schools, going for a law degree is a bad investment and that most students will be “unlikely ever to dig themselves out from” under their debt. This problem is exacerbated by the existing law school system. Despite the tough job market, new schools continue to sprout like weeds. Today there are 200 ABA-accredited law schools in the U.S., with more on the way, as many have been awarded provisional accreditation. In California alone, there are 21 law schools that are either accredited or provisionally accredited, including the new one at UC Irvine. The ABA cites antitrust concerns in refusing to block new schools, taking a weak approach to regulation. For example, in 2008 the ABA created an accreditation task force to study the need for changes, but saddled it with a narrow charter. In the end, it proposed only cosmetic changes and rejected out of hand the possibility of giving up control over accreditation, calling the idea not viable and “draconian.” The task force also raised the possibility that if the ABA gave up its accreditation authority, the Federalist Society, a conservative-leaning interest group, could take over that job. This is an intellectually dishonest red herring, likely injected to divert attention from the idea’s merits. The Federalist Society would have no reason to do this because the technical, expensive accrediting process does not gibe with its mission, nor would the Department of Education be likely to give it such authority. The ABA has also refused to create and oversee an independent method of reporting graduate data. Postgraduate employment information generally provides the most useful facts for prospective students to study in deciding whether to go to law school. In many cases, the data that schools now furnish are based on self-reported information, skewing the results because unemployed and low-paying grads are less likely to report back. Law schools do this because they want the rosiest picture possible for the influential rankings given by U.S. News & World Report. Despite its ample resources, the ABA has rebuffed calls to monitor the schools to get more accurate data, calling the existing framework an effective “honor system.” Based on what happened with the accreditation task force, the ABA is not likely to force change; it is too intertwined with the law schools. ABA groups — such as the task force, which was chaired by a former dean — are stacked with school officials who have no incentive to change the status quo. This is why the ABA should get out of the accreditation business completely. Unlike other professional fields such as medicine and public health, whose preeminent professional organizations do not have control over the accreditation of schools and programs, the ABA exercises unfettered power over the accreditation of law schools. The American Dental Assn., the nation’s leading dental group, offers a model for the ABA to follow. It accredits schools but assiduously guards the profession and has allowed respected dental schools such as the ones at Emory, Georgetown and Northwestern to close for economic reasons and to prevent market saturation. Such a move by the bar association would be unprecedented. Dental schools go even further to protect the profession’s integrity by collectively boycotting the U.S. News rankings. The U.S. Department of Education should strip the ABA of its accreditor status and give the authority to an organization that is free of conflicts of interest, such as the Assn. of American Law Schools or a new group. Although the AALS is made up of law schools, it is an independent, nonprofit, academic — not professional — group, which could be expected to maintain the viability and status of the profession, properly regulate law schools, curtail the opening of new programs and perhaps even shut down unneeded schools. The AALS has cast a very skeptical eye on for-profit schools, compared with the ABA’s weak hands-off accreditation policies. Although these would be unprecedented moves, they are necessary. The legal profession must be saved from itself. Link to original here: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-greenbaum8-2010jan08,0,4457698.story?track=rss Comments (20)
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