Student Loans

A prominent Canadian magazine, Maclean’s, ranks our Canadian law schools every year. Here are the categories it uses:

1. Trees per campus acre (15%)
2. Square footage of the law library (30%)
3. Number of left-handed professors (20%)
4. Proximity to Toronto (40%)
5. Supreme Court of Canada clerkships (2%)

Some call Maclean’s methodology suspect. But my law school, Queen’s, ranks third in the country, so who am I to argue? It’s not my fault Queen’s has a huge law library on a leafy campus just up the highway from Toronto in a region with the highest concentration of left-handed people in the country. We didn’t do so well on SCC clerks, but I am told that Queen’s is working diligently to improve in that area.

Anyway, Maclean’s says these are the top 5 law schools in Canada:

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When it comes to paying for law school, most of us fill out paperwork to secure shiny loans that haunt us for years to come. But there are a few students who think outside the box. Law school tuition Kickstarter campaigns crop up from time to time. There was also a website set up to sell future income streams in exchange for debt payments. Generally, these efforts to outsource student debt are the work of narcissists unwilling to take personal responsibility and pay for their life decisions.

And then we see something like this:

God asked me to go to Law School for the good of the Kingdom of God. Help me raise $28,500 by 5/1/15!

Well, that’s a horse of another color! It’s not that you want a law degree without having to suffer the consequences of your actions, it’s that God wants it. Nothing reflects the model of Jesus Christ more than getting what you want without suffering at all.

Let’s check out this plea for a free law school education — complete with its own movie trailer!

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Senators Marco Rubio and Mark Warner introduced a bipartisan student loan bill yesterday aimed at reducing default rates. The bill, called the “Dynamic Student Loan Repayment Act,” would limit all student loan repayment to 10% of discretionary income.

The plan is terrible for the poorest students. Currently, the federal income-based repayment program, called Pay as You Earn or PAYE, also requires 10% of discretionary income, but it calculates “discretionary” at 150% of the poverty line. The Rubio/Warner plan kicks in at $10,000… which is a lot less than 150% of the poverty line.

Also under PAYE, if you have more than $57,500 of debt after 20 years of repayment, PAYE forgives your loan. Under Dynamic Repayment, that goal post is moved to 30 years out. I guess the upside is that under Dynamic Repayment, there’s a better chance that you’ll die still owing money.

Again, if you are poor, this new plan isn’t great. But since when do Republicans or even Democrats care about the truly poor?

Continue reading on Above the Law Redline…


The old ball and chain, dischargeable in bankruptcy only in the most limited of cases. Go ahead, try and prove you’ve got a ‘substantial hardship’ preventing you from paying. We dare you.

* Now that a federal judge has classified California’s death penalty as unconstitutional, it’s only a matter of time before the issue reaches the Supreme Court. We have a feeling the justices will likely roll their eyes. [National Law Journal]

* Word on the street is that Bingham McCutchen has got the urge to merge, and has apparently spoken to a handful of potential partners over the course of the past three months. We’ll have more on these developments later. [Reuters]

* As it turns out, it was neither Wachtell Lipton nor Jenner & Block that managed to snag the coveted GM litigation oversight job. Nice work, Quinn Emanuel — you’re considered a “well-respected outside law firm.” [WSJ Law Blog]

* Congrats, Flori-duh, you did something right. A state court judge has ruled that Florida’s ban on gay marriage violated the U.S. Constitution in the latest post-Windsor victory for equality. Yay! [Bloomberg]

* Thanks to their hundreds of thousands of dollars in law school debt, many graduates are considering declaring bankruptcy. Too bad most won’t be able to get their loans discharged. [Connecticut Law Tribune]

J.D. = Just Debt

* Per the latest Gallup study, Republican approval of SCOTUS is up, while Democratic approval is down. Gee, considering how the biggest cases of OT 2013 went down, no one should be terribly surprised by this news. [New York Times]

* Will our leader make the grade? Law profs wrote a strongly worded letter to President Obama, asking that he not include a religious exemption in his executive order prohibiting anti-gay bias in federal contractor hiring. [National Law Journal]

* Hey guys, there’s a new report out that contains some pretty shocking information about the realities of life after law school. Seriously, who knew that would-be lawyers were poor? Oh wait, we did. [CNN Money]

* Washington & Lee recently surrendered its Confederate flags to appease its black student population. Here’s an interview with Brandon Hicks, the law student behind the historic movement. [Huffington Post]

* “Fret for your latte, and fret for your lawsuit.” Tool hasn’t put out a new album in in almost a decade, and it’s all because of one pesky little lawsuit filed way back in 2007 that just won’t go away. [Rolling Stone]

* There’s a company with no revenue and no profit run out of Belize with a $6 billion market cap. And this lawyer might be the reason why. [Fortune]

* The discrimination claim brought by former professor Teresa Wagner against the University of Iowa College of Law must be retried. Congrats, Teresa! Celebrate with a round of shots. [Iowa Appeals]

* Chris Kluwe intends to sue the Minnesota Vikings. He has a good chance because the Vikings can’t beat anybody. [Sports Illustrated]

* Judge Judy is suing a lawyer over advertisements. [ABA Journal]

* A-Rod is being sued by his lawyer for $380,000 in unpaid bills. Life’s hard for multimillionaires when the income stream is temporarily suspended. [NY Daily News]

* Breaking up is hard to do. But it doesn’t have to be difficult to dissolve a law firm ethically if you follow this advice. Dewey know anyone who could have used this advice earlier? [Legal Talk Network]

* Indiana Tech law school is in desperation mode. Who would have seen this coming? [Third Tier Reality]

* The horrors of law school debt are becoming more obvious even to non-students. [Law School Lemmings]

* Jon Stewart chats with Dahlia Lithwick about the Supreme Court. Embed after the jump…. [The Daily Show]

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We give law schools a lot of flak for the way they take massive amounts of money and then have the gall to call us every week asking for donations. What did they do with the original $150K? I guess in my case it was “buy real estate.” But still.

So when I say there’s a law school out there nickel and diming its graduates, I’m not colloquially talking about $150K in tuition. No, I’m using “literally” entirely accurately. They are literally taking dimes and nickels off their alums….

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In the legal profession’s “new normal,” it’s not uncommon for recent law school graduates to have hundreds of thousands of dollars in educational debt, all for a piece of paper that grants them the right to try to become practicing attorneys. With the employment landscape being less than desirable, the high debt that comes with a law degree can seem all but insurmountable, and at times, completely soul-crushing. Living paycheck to paycheck to pay down loans with what little money you earn is unbearable, and doing normal adult things like getting married, buying a home, and having children are nigh impossible — the albatross of law school debt will always be hanging around your neck.

How can you possibly survive in this world with six figures of law school debt? Well, it helps if you’ve got a generous friend who’s willing to pay off your loans in full — under the cover of secrecy, of course.

With six figures of law school debt of my own, I can’t help but be incredibly envious…

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Ed. note: Above the Law will have a reduced publishing schedule on Friday, July 4, in observance of the day when Will Smith beat those aliens.

* Two state supreme courts rejected the bids of guns rights advocates to give felons the right to own guns. But if you outlaw guns, only outlaws… wait, that slogan doesn’t work here. [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* Hobby Lobby fallout. Religious groups are asking President Obama to accommodate their “sincerely held belief” that gay people don’t deserve jobs. [Talking Points Memo]

* On the other hand, Hobby Lobby opens the door to student loan forgiveness. [Tyler Coulson]

* People hated talking to Steve Jobs about their work. Was it because kids these days don’t understand the value of hard work? Or was it because computer geeks are notoriously introverted? [What About Paris?]

* Don’t discriminate against people getting divorces — they’ve got enough to worry about. [Adjunct Law Prof Blog]

* Some legal academics think bank executives should be paid in bonds. Here are some arguments against that. [Fortune]

Elie here. Everybody wants a deal. Everybody wants to “beat the market,” and the internet makes us think that we can. If a baby with an e-Trade app can make money, why can’t you? Buy low, sell high: I’m sure I read that on a bumper sticker somewhere, or maybe in the New Yorker.

Increasingly, the internet thinks it’s identified just the right undervalued asset to snap up at a discount: legal education. The decline in law school applications has been sharp and truly shocking to some. It doesn’t make sense that a law degree would suddenly be much less valuable now than it was 5 or 10 or 20 years ago. The value should rebound. The world still needs lawyers. And if you haven’t noticed, or just disregarded, long-term structural changes in the market for legal services, the fact that every law dean will tell you that the market rebound is right around the corner gives you more confidence in your logical assessment. It’s not like every law dean in the country would lie about the value of their product, right?

We can and will continue to debate the likely future value of a legal education. But can we dispense with the notion that purchasing full-price legal education right now involves “buying low”? You are not buying low, you are buying at historically unprecedented heights. Nobody would put “Buy high, hope to sell at fair market price in three years” on a bumper sticker.

And nobody should be putting that on the internet either….

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