Student Loans

Won’t be long before law schools are getting this guy to sell you legal education.

It really bothers me when law schools resort to “used car salesmen” tactics to try to induce law students to sign up for school. Say what you will about the value of legal education, but it’s not like buying a Sham-Wow. Students can’t be influenced by “special, limited time” offers when trying to decide if and where to invest three years of their time. If nothing else, you’re entering into the lottery to win a legal career, not an iPad Mini.

Law schools that try to exploit “impulse buy” reactions to fill their seats should be ashamed of themselves. They are taking advantage of kids — twenty-somethings who don’t have lawyers or accountants or appraisers representing their interests. Law schools are at a huge informational advantage concerning the true value of their services, value that they try to hide at every turn from independent third parties. Law students are trying to cobble together what they can based on word of mouth, Google, and some published rankings. Turning the screws on these prospective students with offers that “expire in 24 hours” is a good business strategy if you are trying to sell them a toaster, but it’s a disgraceful thing to do for a place that claims to be an “institution of higher learning.”

I can only hope that anybody who received this “hard-sell” email from this law school did the smart thing and just walked away…

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For all the criticism the government takes for poor money management, they really do know how to bring in the revenue. They may not intend to bring it in, but they bring it in.

For example, the U.S. government has investments poised to make 55 cents on the dollar. And these investments are also almost impossible not to collect.

And these investments are you. Or at least those of you with government loans from law school.

Steven Harper, author of The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in Crisis (affiliate link), reviews the problem — and the less than stellar proposed solutions coming from Congress and the White House…

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The vast majority of our readers are members of the legal profession in some way — and whether you’re a prospective law student, a current law student, a young associate, or a partner, chances are you’ve all had similar worries about the future and its many uncertainties. Will you be able to find a job? Will you be able to pay off your loans? Will you even enjoy being a lawyer? One thing, however, is for sure: you’d prefer that your children not suffer the same vocational fate as you.

But when it comes to the other members of society, well, they’d just love it if their sons or daughters were to become a lawyer (or marry one). Despite what we know to be true in most cases, it seems that the people who pick up their phones to respond to survey questions have been left in the dark when it comes to the current state of lawyers and their livelihoods.

Take a wild guess at who thinks this career path is still the road to riches….

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Now with the internet, you don’t even need to spring for a nice plate to panhandle.

In the before times, in the long, long ago, there was no internet. There was no Shark Tank. There were banks and capitalists. You had to go to them with your business ventures, beg them for start-up money, and that’s the way the world worked.

Now, anybody can beg anybody else for money. There’s no dignity anymore. There aren’t eight Jewish bankers who control everything. You don’t have to borrow money for your house from Mr. Potter. You don’t need to promise eternal salvation before passing the hat around. Now, any idiot with a dream and a keyboard can go on the internet and beg people for money.

Kickstarter is at least a place where ideas beg for money. A tipster sent us a link to “Upstart,” where individuals ask you to fund them in exchange for a percentage of their future earnings. So far, four people with J.D.s think they’re so special you should give them money so they can do what they want…

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Regular readers of this blog know that you cannot discharge student loan obligations through bankruptcy absent a showing of undue hardship. If you go broke borrowing money for expensive cars, houses, and monkeys/butlers, no problem, file for bankruptcy and start over. But if you go broke trying to better yourself through education, the government will make you beg and prove that you are sad and hopeless. Wonderful system we’ve got here.

We’ve also talked about how many people who might be eligible for undue hardship on their student debts don’t even try. The system is daunting and complicated, and I’ve argued that prostrating yourself in front of a bankruptcy court and letting them invade your life to the point of telling you how much you should be spending on your cell phone is not something that comes naturally to people with pride and dignity. This might be hard to understand for people who have never been in this situation, but I’d much rather be a “deadbeat” and have my wages garnished with the discretion on how I spend the rest than have some old judge tell me how much money I should be spending on breakfast.

When trying to get your debts discharged through bankruptcy, there seems to be no limit to what a judge can take into account to see if you are really desperate. But a recent Ninth Circuit opinion upholding a discharge by reversing the district court put one boundary on what a court can look at to determine if you’ve tried to pay your debts in “good faith.”

The court can’t look at your household and suggest that you pimp out your wife. So at least that’s something…

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* NY Attorney General investigating fast food restaurants for shorting their employees. This is a worthwhile cause, but what he should be looking into is who ate the bones? [CNN]

* Two schools, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and York College of Pennsylvania admit they gave false information to U.S. News resulting in better rankings. Those were their BETTER rankings? [TaxProf Blog]

* To keep “misleading statistics” in perspective, the Department of Education leveled one of its steepest fines on Yale for covering up multiple “forcible sex offenses” to keep its campus safety statistics down. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* A measure of resource governance finds the U.S. has the second best governance of its oil, gas and mining sectors. Give yourself a hand regulators. And we’re gunning for you Norway! [Breaking Energy]

* The Honorable Felicia Mennin does not grasp how time works. Thinks artist should have been more conscious of the public fear surrounding the Boston bombings… back in February. [New York Times]

* Congratulations readers for helping the profile of a White House petition to reform student loan policy. Here are a couple more if you feel like making more reforms to the process… or at least more suggestions for reforms that will sit on someone’s desk. [Whitehouse.gov and Whitehouse.gov]

* Is political intelligence practice too risky? Is political intelligence an oxymoron? An interview with Robert Walker of Wiley Rein LLP after the jump [Bloomberg Law]

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* A White House petition started by a young lawyer asking that at least student loan interest be tax deductible like interest on a mortgage to help out those folks like, frankly, most lawyers, who make too much money to deduct their student loans. [WhiteHouse.gov]

* Antoinette “Toni” Bush, partner-in-charge of Skadden’s communications group, is leaving the firm to become global head of government affairs for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Free tip: brush up on your hacking law. [Am Law Daily]

* The Department of Energy may adopt a new “commercial maturity test” to get rolling on the backlog of liquid natural gas export license requests. And that, of course, will spur the inevitable lawsuits. [Breaking Energy]

* Apparently, President Obama dreams of “going Bulworth and resents the “Harry Potter theory of the presidency,” that the President can wave a wand and make things happen. So he’s pro Pras, Maya, and ODB, and anti-Hagrid. Who’s anti-Hagrid??? [New York Times]

* Lois Lerner, the manager at the center of the IRS “scandal,” has backed out of delivering the keynote at the WNEU Law commencement. I’m pretty sure Staci would do a better job… of running the IRS. [Boston Herald]

* Overlawyered blasts the Daily Caller for trying to tie Lerner to Obama via her husband, Michael Miles of Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan because the large firm had some ties to Obama. Blerg. Meanwhile, this “partisan scandal” is turning out to be bipartisan entirely based on which IRS office the groups dealt with. [Overlawyered]

* Congratulations to this guy. Must have been a hell of a feast. [WDRB]

As many of you know, I went straight through from college to law school without taking any time off. And many of you know that I count this as one of my many mistakes. The people I know who took time off between college and law school came back to law school with an appreciation of school and a focus on what skills they needed to succeed in the real world.

People like me who went straight through tended to start out with a “College II” mentality, got book-raped first semester, and muddled through law school kind of wondering why everything was so boring. In my anecdotal experience, these people disproportionately ended up in Biglaw, because people who get on only one train tend to end up at the same destination.

Given that experience, I think this new pilot program from Harvard Law School could be a very good idea. Harvard Law will now admit Harvard undergraduates after their junior year of college, provided they agree to an automatic, two-year, post-graduation deferment. That’s two years after college where you can work, earn money, and experience the real world outside the ivory tower, all the while knowing that you have Harvard Law to fall back on.

At least, that’s the positive view of the program. Our tipsters point out the cynical side….

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‘Another tuition hike? Time for a new car!’

If liberals are to be true to our professed values, we must critically examine our own conduct, however painful and embarrassing it might be. We cannot speak truth to power yet not to ourselves. [P]rogressive law professors, I charge, have profited from a system of legal education with harmful consequences to individuals and society — while claiming (and believing) that they were fighting the system.

– Professor Brian Tamanaha of the Washington University of St. Louis School of Law, criticizing his colleagues for remaining silent while law school tuition has soared. His remarks can be found in a forthcoming essay that will be published in the Stanford Law & Policy Review.

New Rule: The next law school person who wants to bitch about the unfairness of the “employed nine months after graduation” metric must offer to make loan payments for all students who don’t have a job at nine months until they find one. If law schools are going to knock up their recent graduates they should at least have to throw in some child support.

Oh, wait, NO law school dean wants to actually be on the hook for student loans from when they come due six months after graduation until… whenever this unnamed point in the future comes when students can expect to have jobs. Given that, I don’t really want to hear about how your school is so freaking “unfairly” treated because CONSUMERS of legal education need to know if they will be employed within shouting distance of when they will start having to pay back their loans.

Fine, you want a compromise? It looks like we’re moving to ten months anyway…

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