A week and a half ago, we ran a story about a student who was soliciting donations so she could go to UNC Law School without incurring student debt.
She dreamed a dream, but the tigers come at night. The would-be law student, Sarah Allen, was ripped apart in the press, and now wants no part of the law. The ABA Journal reports:
Allen’s video explaining her pursuit of a debt-free life—and a debt-free legal education—is no longer on the Upromise site. Her blog, Going to Law School Debt Free, is no longer live. “I’ve just shut everything down,” Allen tells the ABA Journal.
Allen withdrew from the contest on Monday because stories about her quest drew mean-spirited comments on several blogs. “When I read certain things, it was just so much hate, and coming from nowhere,” she says. “It stunned me.”
In an email to Above the Law, Allen went even further about her reasons for withdrawing her requests for tuition donations…
It wasn’t just the press coverage that made Allen reconsider her decision to ask for donations. Anonymous blog comments also played a role. Here’s what she emailed to ATL:
Since the story was first published in the Raleigh News and Observer, a wave of extremely unkind and at times quite vulgar criticism has appeared online – some of which has been by attorneys and current law students (the most vulgar and completely inappropriate has been by law students on JD Underground at http://qfora.com/jdu/thread.php?threadId=10622). Both articles completely under-emphasized my intentions to start a debt-free scholarship fund and made me out to be a beggar – which I am not.
“Vulgar criticism”? Yeah, I think I know what that means. The ABA Journal puts it this way:
At JD Underground, a few commenters went so far as to criticize Allen’s appearance and made snarky comments about other, illegal ways to raise money.
If you think it’s insulting when anonymous commenters suggest that you take up prostitution, imagine how you’ll feel when you realize how much time lawyers spend “servicing” clients.
But give Allen credit. Lots of would-be law students see the writing on the wall but bull ahead anyway. Allen used her brief glimpse at the secret lives of lawyers as a teachable moment:
The media attention has been eye-opening, however, it has also made me realize how lucky I am to have already have job that I love and that affords me a good quality of life. For now I am better off enjoying my life and pursuing things that will bring further joy to my life and that of others. I have since returned the 3 donations that I received, deleted my blog and Facebook sites, abandoned any plans to attend law school at any time in the near future, and withdrawn my entry from the Upromise contest…
One could argue that she should have “abandoned any plans to attend law school” the moment she was unwilling to debt finance the high cost of legal education. But, I suppose “lawyers are meanies” will do in a pinch.
I don’t feel bad for Allen because she got roughed up a bit in the comments (I am beyond dead inside when it comes to commenters). I feel bad for Allen because the only reason she was in this situation is because of the enormous cost of legal education.
One shouldn’t have to raise over $100K in order to afford tuition, room, board, and living expenses for three years at a public law school. Allen didn’t even want to work in one of the few Biglaw jobs that still exist. The fact that she had to raise six figures or risk six figures worth of debt to help German immigrants is kind of ridiculous.
That’s the real problem here. Let’s keep our eyes on the ball.