Debts

Marco Rubio

Man, I need to write a book. At this point, it could be about anything. Law. Debt. Raising a baby who can take a punch. It doesn’t matter. I’ve known for some time that selling a book is the only way I’m ever going to pay off my massive law school debts.

What I didn’t know was that becoming a best seller was the only idea our nation’s political leaders have for paying off their own law school debts. Seriously, you’d think my book idea was a fanciful plan that is the cause of terrible financial planning. And it is. But I’ve written before about how our president, Barack Obama, didn’t pay off his law school debts and until he published a best-seller. It’s not exactly a sound financial plan, even though it does work out in some cases.

But this “just write a book” approach to law school debt knows no party lines. Today I found out that Republican Senator (and likely presidential candidate unless Republicans figure out that “Cubans from Miami” are not the same as “Mexicans living in Colorado”) Marco Rubio took the same path to paying off his law school debts.

So, I don’t know, maybe I shouldn’t feel bad about still having this much debt, and instead get busy writing, “How to Write a Successful Blog When Your Readers Kind of Hate You.” Because apparently, that’s how a leader approaches the vexing problem of educational debt….

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* Mirror, mirror, on the wall, which is the fairest firm of them all? According to the 2012 Acritas Brand Index survey, the current leader of the Global 100 is the most powerful Biglaw brand for the fifth year in a row. [American Lawyer]

* But that might not last for long, considering the dilemma Baker & McKenzie is facing when it comes to joining the Shanghai Bar Association in China. The firm is one of the first to indicate that it’ll take the plunge. [Wall Street Journal]

* Thanks to the Second Circuit, Rajat Gupta will be a free man on bail pending the appeal of his insider trading conviction. We wonder what Benula Bensam would have to say about this new twist. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Jason Smiekel, the lawyer who pleaded guilty in a murder-for-hire plot involving a former client, was sentenced to eight and a half years in federal prison. The things men will do for HHHBs. [Chicago Tribune]

* Student loan payments: coming to a paycheck deduction near you! Congress is considering an overhaul of the country’s student debt collection practices, and Rep. Tom Petri has some interesting ideas. [Bloomberg]

* The Cleveland-Marshall College of Law is the latest school to hop aboard the solo practice incubator train, but graduates will have to rent their office space from the school. Nice. /sarcasm [National Law Journal]

* “We didn’t file this complaint lightly.” Sorry, Judge Norman, but as it turns out, you can’t just sentence a teenager to attend church for 10 years as a condition of parole without pissing off the ACLU. [Tulsa World]

* When your alterations cost more than your wedding gown, it’s pretty much a given that you’ll have some problems — ones worth suing over, if you’re a true bridezilla (like moi). [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

Apparently, Chuck Klosterman believes law deans without checking to see what they’re hiding.

Man, the New York Times is just full of people defending law schools these days. First we had Lawrence Mitchell, Dean of Case Western Law School, write an op-ed about why he is “proud” to be a law dean. I’m not sure if he’s proud to have written an op-ed that has been savaged by everybody, but there you go.

This weekend, the Times ran an Ethicist column by noted pop culturalist Chuck Klosterman about the “morality” of law schools enrolling students at hefty tuition prices when they know the job market is very challenging.

Klosterman defended law schools, though it’s not clear that he intended to. In fact, it’s not clear that Klosterman knows just how “unethical” law schools have become.

But hey, you don’t actually have to understand the challenges of legal employment to defend law school in the New York Times these days….

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* Allowing abortions only in cases where the life of the mother is at stake doesn’t actually protect the life of the mother. [Slate]

* Chief Justice Roberts decided that living in a glass house shouldn’t prevent him from throwing a few stones. [Atlantic]

* It’s that time of year when we start seeing lists of things to buy for the lawyers in your life. [Constitutional Daily]

* You realize that people aren’t actually going to pay these loans back, you know. [Economix / New York Times]

* Wow, there was a whole day in New York City where nobody got shot, stabbed, or raped. [Reuters]

* While you contemplate living in a dangerous city, check out this list of most dangerous campuses. [Business Insider]

* Hopefully you guys have noticed Above the Law in the News category on the ABA Blawg 100, but don’t forget to look at all the different sections and vote for your favorite sites. [ABA Journal]

Ed. note: Gradenfreude is a new series chronicling a recent law school graduate’s life after attending an unranked school. Feel free to email the author at TristanTaylorThomas@gmail.com, and he’ll respond ASAP. After all, it’s not like he has anything better to do.

When President Obama was debating Mitt Romney, he patted himself on the back because of the strides he took to give young people the chance to get an education by making student loans available.  I guess making loans available is all that really matters, because after all, who cares about having the loans paid off? That’s the one thing that he didn’t mention: once you accept the loans, you’ll be bent over a barrel for the rest of your life — unless, of course, you’re able to become a Senator and then write a couple of best-selling books.

I think that most students realize they’ll spend the vast majority of their lives paying off the loans they took out to further their educational pursuits.  What many may not realize is just how ridiculous the government is when it comes to getting their money back.  Their tactics and terms fall just short of being classified as Mafia-like. On the bright side, if there is one, at least no one’s broken my legs yet.

Although the government may allow for a deferment for economic hardship, if you have a full time job, it’s likely that you won’t meet the strict requirements to attain that deferment.  Because even when you work a job that only allows you to live in your parents’ basement, essentially as dependent upon them as you were in high school, the fine United States government still expects timely repayment.

That’s right: I currently make too much money to qualify for an economic hardship deferment, and I work for just over minimum wage.  Earning the least amount of money per hour that I ever have in my life, I am making too much money to earn the government’s pity….

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Back in April, we brought you a story about a family who had written to Dear Abby, an advice columnist, about their child’s law school loan debt. Apparently the mere thought of assisting their darling daughter with the repayment of her $100,000+ debt load was just too much to bear. The daughter had already ruined her own life, so why should they ruin theirs too? And yet, tens of thousands of students are still willing to look this student loan debt problem in the face and laugh.

Yes, in a time where the Executive Director of the National Association for Law Placement is forced to write entire columns about the fact that there is no conceivable way he could describe the current entry-level job market as “good,” others are still considering applying to law school.

For example, today we found out that the matriarch of another family sought wisdom from an advice columnist as to whether her husband should go to law school. How did she respond? Let’s just say Dear Prudence is a little more in tune with the realities of today’s legal job market than Dear Abby will ever be….

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I had the pleasure of being at Hofstra University last night to watch the presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. I wasn’t actually in the venue where the debate itself was held, but in overflow seating with a bunch of Hofstra people. I had been invited earlier in the day to participate in a student debt discussion at Hofstra Law, and they let me hang around for the rest of the day.

I already know who I’m going to vote for. Everybody I spoke to already knew who were they going to vote for. If there were people there who were still unsure about who they were going to vote for, I didn’t notice them, probably because “undecided” voters are too stupid to walk around campus and talk and not choke on their own saliva. In any event, it was fun to watch the debate with a diverse group; everybody hears what they want to hear. Republicans heard Romney’s five-point plan to fix the economy and piss off China. I heard this:

But I’d like to think everybody heard the same thing from both candidates when it comes to student loans: a load of bullcrap….

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Ed. note: Gradenfreude is a new series chronicling a recent law school graduate’s life after attending an unranked school. Feel free to email the author at TristanTaylorThomas@gmail.com, and he’ll respond ASAP. After all, it’s not like he has anything better to do.

Hello my loyal readers — oh, and you commenters, too. A lot has happened since we last met. I had a job interview last week. How did it go, you ask? The words embarrassing and atrocious come to mind. Think about getting mugged on the way to your car, getting a flat tire in the rain, and then having your credit card declined at McDonald’s. Yeah, that would have been a much better day than I had.

Looking back at the day as a whole, I really should have known that it was going to be a bad time. First, my power went out in the middle of the night, but luckily for me, I was so excited and nervous that I woke up every couple of hours and noticed early on that I needed to turn on my cell phone alarm to make sure that I woke up. But then, of course, I couldn’t go back to sleep because my anxiety level was at an all-time high.

While I lay in bed and waited for my alarm to go off, I practiced going over interview questions in my head. My alarm finally went off, and I felt like I did before most of my law school exams: “Oh sh*t, I am not nearly prepared for this. Why the hell did I do this again?”

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In the past few months, those involved in legal academia have been going back and forth over whether the cost of law school tuition is “too damn high.” Many would argue that it is, considering the fact that even during the height of the recession, some law schools instituted across the board tuition hikes. Even now, when repeated calls have been made for reduced class sizes, law school tuition continues to rise to make up for the lost revenue those additional students would have provided.

This problem, they say, needs to be remedied immediately — before the law school tuition bubble pops — so that we can avoid additional problems down the line. Because after all, as my colleague Elie Mystal noted in 2010, “Law school tuition might be recession proof, but student debt repayment is not.”

If we continue on this way, we may be looking at some pretty scary numbers in the future….

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Ed. note: Gradenfreude is a new series chronicling a recent law school graduate’s life after attending an unranked school. Feel free to email the author at TristanTaylorThomas@gmail.com, and he’ll respond ASAP. After all, it’s not like he has anything better to do.

Whoever said, “No news is good news,” obviously wasn’t dealing with trying to find a legal job in this economy. I really wish that there was anything remotely resembling news to report on my legal aspirations, but the only thing that I’ve accomplished is mastering drinking my worries away.

This experience has made me realize that when you’re constantly trying to get something that you really want, but not having success, it’s easy to begin to doubt yourself and your abilities. Then, as a result, it’s possible that you may lower your expectations because the fear of failure takes over. But what can be really interesting is how the little things in life can change your expectations.

I’ve always been a superstitious person, and along with that, I believe that the world often gives you signs. Okay, I bet you think that sounds dumb. Well, what makes it worse is that I take my signs from fortune cookies. Before going to law school, I got a fortune cookie that said, “You are about to begin a prosperous business venture.” CHA-CHING!!! What else could you possibly need to know before taking on colossal debt?

A fortune cookie would never steer me wrong, would it?

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