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Scamblogs Get Some Mainstream Media Attention

It’s been ten days since I last logged on to “the internet.” Ten days since I picked up a newspaper or let the dancing visions on MSNBC poison my mind. Ten days since I’ve tapped into the 140-character pulse of the world.

While I’ve had my head in the sand, it appears that the mainstream media is once again trying to get a handle on what’s happening in the legal profession. Sunday’s report in the Newark Star-Ledger isn’t breaking news to regular Above the Law readers, but it is an indication that media attention on how law schools conduct their business is intensifying, if ever so slightly:

As they enter the worst job market in decades, many young would-be lawyers are turning on their alma maters, blaming their quandary on high tuitions, lax accreditation standards and misleading job placement figures. Unless students graduate from schools like Harvard or Yale, they “might as well be busing tables,” Bullock said.

The quote is from Scott Bullock, the just-outed writer previously known as “Law is 4 Losers,” of Big Debt Small Law (currently down, as noted earlier).

It turns out that Bullock went to Seton Hall Law School. Now that mainstream media outlets are asking questions, Seton Hall felt obliged to respond…

Now that Bullock has outed himself, we get to know where he went to school. And since we know where he went to school, the Newark Star-Ledger was able to ask some questions of Seton Hall Law administrators:

School administrators, who admit to keeping tabs on these so-called “scam blogs,” which now number in the dozens, bristle at the charge that they run diploma mills. Not every graduate can land a six-figure job at a big-name law firm — especially during the current downturn — but many still find fulfilling careers in and out of the legal field, said Claudette St. Romain, an associate dean at Seton Hall, one of three law schools in New Jersey.

“For a person with passion, a certain talent and a certain outlook, it’s a great education,” St. Romain said, noting that Gov. Chris Christie and several state senators are among the school’s alumni. “But it’s not for everybody — don’t get me wrong.”

Gosh, an admission from a law school that law school is not for everybody? How refreshing. Too bad Seton Hall is still trying to obscure that obvious fact from incoming students. The WSJ Law Blog reports:

But on its website, the school currently reports an employment rate of 94 percent for the 2009 class, though it doesn’t break that down into full-time, part-time or temporary work. The school also claims a starting salary of $145,000 in private practice, though it does not specify how many grads reported salaries in this area.

Would it be that hard for the people at Seton Hall to update their website to provide a more accurate picture of what, precisely, you can expect to get with a Seton Hall law degree?

It may not be hard, but there is no immediate need for Seton Hall to report anything differently. That’s in part because the Newark paper gladly participates in the grand circle-jerk which helps law schools maintain their inflated statistics. Seton Hall claims that it complies with NALP guidelines in reporting employment statistics. NALP tells us that law schools wouldn’t comply with more rigorous reporting standards. And the ABA is still thinking about it:

One of the models [the ABA] plans to explore is a proposal by Kyle McEntee, a third-year student at Vanderbilt University, who suggests schools might get more candid information from graduates if they asked about employers and salaries separately. While Polden said he agrees with the aim of this proposal, he wonders if it may be too complicated.

Meanwhile, there are undoubtedly a number of prospective law students who read the report in Sunday’s paper. They looked at the numbers and the stories and thought to themselves “Well, that won’t happen to me.”

Hey, if you’re not going to actually learn anything from the internet or the newspapers, you might as well not read anything at all.

Irate law school grads say they were misled about job prospects [Newark Star-Ledger]
‘A Big Ponzi Scheme’: More on the Ire Directed Toward Law Schools [WSJ Law Blog]

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