Well, this is pretty much my worst nightmare. Legal Profession Blog reports on the horrible story of Olufemi Nicol:
The Illinois Administrator has filed a complaint alleging that an attorney failed in bad faith to repay his student loans for a graduate business degree obtained after he graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 1994. From 2006-2006, the attorney held several positions in business including a stint as president of Gear 7 in Los Angeles. The complaint alleges that the attorney received over $78,000 in loans in 2006 and signed two promissory notes. He allegedly has not made any payments on either note.
Okay, phew. I never took out additional loans for further education while I still owed money on my J.D. And I restarted payments — minimum payments — after I got a new job outside of Biglaw. I’m golden. AVOIDING DEBTOR’S PRISON SECURE!
I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often. A student is demanding that his law school admit to scamming him out of money in open court.
And why? The student isn’t trying to recover tuition dollars directly from the school. Instead, the student is involved in the arduous process of trying to get his debts discharged through bankruptcy. As we’ve mentioned repeatedly, you can’t discharge student loans through the bankruptcy process absent a showing of undue hardship.
The student is named Kenneth Desormes. The school is Charlotte School of Law. And he wants Charlotte to admit what they did to him…
Back in April, we reported on an admirable organization called Law School Transparency. The goal of LST: “encouraging and facilitating the transparent flow of law school employment information.”
Given what’s typically at stake — three years of your life, and six figures of cash (or student loans) — the decision to attend law school is an important one. There’s a case to be made in favor of law school, and there’s a case to be made against it. (For the case against, see pretty much any post about law school by my colleague, Elie Mystal, or any of the bloggers on this blogroll.)
Regardless of the ultimate outcome, the decision should be made based on accurate and complete information. And that information should include data about employment outcomes for graduates of a given law school. If I get a J.D. from law school X, what kind of job can I expect to obtain?
This is where Law School Transparency (LST) comes in. What is LST doing to advance the ball in reporting employment data from law schools?
Over the past few days we’ve seen an outpouring of support for the proposition that people should go to law school. It’s clear that there are many students in law school or heading to law school who believe that they’ve made the right decision (and it is the right decision, for some people). Moreover, we’ve learned that a lot of people seem to think that ATL — or, more specifically, me — have some kind of vested interest in crushing dreams and making law students feel bad.
Duly noted. I probably should stick my vuvuzela up my butt and let you guys enjoy the excitement of starting out on a new career.
But as Gandalf once said: “I’m not trying to rob you, I’m trying to help you.”
The first time I looked at the grand total of what it would cost to get a law degree, I cried. And then I realized that this is what I want to do. I’ll have debt for the rest of my life, and that’s that.
– Allissa Klatt, an incoming law student at Drake University Law School in Des Moines, Iowa.
When it comes to law school, “Hope springs eternal.” According to a National Law Journal article entitled Hope Drives Rise in Law School Applications, for this year’s incoming class, law school applications increased by 7% and the number of applicants by 3% — despite tough times in the legal profession and the heavy educational debt that law school often entails. Some law schools saw their applicant pools grow by 30 percent or more. See, e.g., the University of Alabama (70 percent), the University of Maine (65 percent), Cornell (50 percent), and the University of Illinois (37 percent).
Regular readers of Above the Law are no doubt familiar with the argument against going to law school. It’s fairly straightforward: given the weak legal job market and the high cost of law school, which often requires students to take on six figures’ worth of debt, getting a J.D. degree is simply a bad investment.
The argument against law school is typically made in these pages by one of my colleagues, Elie Mystal. But not all of your ATL editors are so anti-law-school. Speaking for myself, I think the case against law school is often exaggerated.
Here are five arguments in defense of going to law school — or, at the very least, five arguments against an extreme anti-law-school stance….
It’s become clear that many college graduates make their decision to go to law school based on apathy, a critical misunderstanding of the legal market, and shocking hubris. As we’ve said many times, the decision to go to law school has become disassociated from the expected value of going to law school.
Prospective law students are flocking to law schools in droves. What’s going on at Duke Law School right now is just the latest evidence. Here’s part of a letter Duke Law sent out to people on its waitlist:
Since our tuition deposit deadline at the end of April, the class has been completely full. Although a few people have requested deferrals or otherwise changed their plans for the fall, we have not yet been able to make any additional offers of admission.
When the reigning champion of our douchiest law school competition is getting inundated with applications, you can see why law schools are quite comfortable charging more and more tuition…
Last week, we set up an open thread for people to discuss the next round of tuition hikes at their law schools. Sadly, it appears that many schools are indeed raising tuition despite the soft economy for legal jobs. Once again, the cost of legal education is proving to be recession proof.
But another, even more disturbing trend could be on the way. At a few schools, the new plan seems to be raise tuition on entering students by a higher percentage than the tuition on returning students. To keep the money rolling in, it looks like this next crop of 1Ls will be subsidizing their jobless, 3L brethren.
Usually when we talk about the crushing price of legal education, we focus on law school administrations who are raising tuition even as the legal economy continues to falter. Occasionally, we look at prospective law students themselves — a group of people who are evidently too addled to act with rational self-interest. Always, the American Bar Association’s utter failure to regulate law schools on behalf of aspiring lawyers looms as the 800-pound gorilla that keeps taking a dump in the middle of the room.
Rarely, if ever, does the media turn its gaze towards law professors and their culpability in the epic scam of taking money from kids who don’t know any better and will never be able to pay off their debts. Most law professors don’t set tuition rates. They don’t determine the scope of loan forgiveness programs. They don’t mislead the world via U.S. News in order to pad employment stats. Hell, most of them aren’t even directly engaged in recruiting the next class of minnows that will keep the scam alive. All they do is teach, research, and take as much money as the market will offer.
But Washington University law professor Brian Tamanaha thinks that his professorial colleagues need to step up to the plate and start taking some responsibility for what is happening to law students — especially law students at low-ranked law schools. He says that professors can no longer turn a blind eye to the sadness of their students….
What makes them come? NPR did a story on the difficult job market for recent college graduates. The article tells us about Hawaii college graduate Ryan Kam’s considered rationale for going to law school.
It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s downright pathetic…
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
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