Scams

On any list of “scum of the Earth,” people who profiteer off of disaster victims have to make the list. Jesus, it’d be worth Hell existing just so there would be a place for people who take advantage of disasters to loot electronics or valuables (food, if you’re hungry and nobody is home, is fair game I guess). I think there are reasonable people on both sides of the New York City marathon debate, but the thought of any police not stopping a looter to deal with the marathon makes me think they should cancel this year’s event.

Of course, looters aren’t the only kinds of criminals trying to take advantage of the hurricane. The Department of Justice is warning people to be on the lookout for Sandy scams…

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After the feds took down Megaupload in January, the major change to many people’s lives is that it is now much harder to stream bootleg versions of the new season of Archer. What also happened is authorities took control of content hosted on the site and a lot of people who posted files there are worried getting busted as well.

Well, one man’s crisis is another man’s golden opportunity.

Keep reading to see how a new batch of criminals is trying to cash in on folks already worried about Megaupload-related copyright liability. It’s actually quite a clever plot…

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If you have watched political campaigns all of your life, or if you are just a student of modern political history, you’ll notice that the poor are rarely talked about on the campaign trail. We can talk about the rich (or at least our so-called envy of them), and the middle class is like the pretty girl in school who thinks she’s well-liked but really everybody just wants to screw. But you rarely hear candidates talk anymore about any kind of national commitment or shared responsibility to help the poor and destitute. (John Edwards tried for a minute, but… see screwing analogy above.)

Our politicians apparently concern themselves with helping only those people who have “worked hard” and “played by the rules.” We have Reagan to thank for that.

But what about the “undeserving” poor? What about the lazy, the shiftless, the ignorant masses yearning to just get by? Is it right that we consign them to backbreaking poverty simply because they don’t vote and they’re easy to pick on? I went to Catholic school just long enough to learn that we’re supposed to have compassion for all of God’s children, not just the people whom it’s easy to put into a campaign commercial.

I’m just talking, of course. Other than giving a dollar to the occasional panhandler, I’m unwilling to get any skin in the game to actually help the truly disadvantaged in this country. Why? Well, I don’t want to end up getting taken advantage of, like the woman who let homeless people stay in her house for Christmas and now can’t get them to leave….

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For sale. Contact me for details.

* What kind of a lawyer can’t spot a Nigerian scammer before being bilked out of millions? If you fell for that, please hit me up. I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. [Washington Post]

* Will Juliette Youngblood, the self-proclaimed “luckiest girl in the world,” still feel the same way if her claims against Irell & Manella and Morgan Chu are sent to binding arbitration? [Am Law Daily]

* The Game may face charges over an alleged tweet that prevented police from responding to five emergency calls in two hours. Only five? I guess that’s what happens when you’re straight outta Compton, where snitches get stitches. [CNN]

* With Senator Kevin de León hoping to regulate the use of fitted and flat hotel sheets, one thing’s for sure. California isn’t becoming a nanny state. It’s becoming a maid state. [Los Angeles Times]

* You know Chris Stewart has had one too many concussions when he’s still talking about finishing law school after his NFL career is over. [Wall Street Journal]

* I might be a bad little Jew for saying this, but matzoh isn’t worth $9.9B. It’s like eating cardboard. If you want special prison food, at least sue for something that tastes good. [New York Daily News]

After the 1L money runs out....

That’s the question essentially posed in a long and interesting New York Times article, Law Students Lose the Grant Game as Schools Win (which we previously mentioned on Saturday; yes, we do post on weekends). The piece is by David Segal, who also wrote a big and buzzy piece back in January, Is Law School a Losing Game?

Segal’s latest article is more interesting than the January one. His January piece, while well-crafted and solidly (if imperfectly) reported, covered ground that had already been covered by many other outlets. Readers of Above the Law, other legal industry publications, or the numerous “scamblogs” already knew that the value proposition of going to law school was very much open to question (to put it mildly).

This weekend’s piece focuses on a less familiar aspect of the law school process, namely, merit scholarships. You might think that these grants, which help law students pay for their education in an age of ever-growing debt loads and skyrocketing tuition, are undoubtedly a good thing.

Well, think again….

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By the middle of second semester of that first year, everyone saw the system for what it was. We were furious. We realized that statistically, because of the curve, there was no way for many of us to keep our scholarships. But at that point, you’re a year in. They’ve got you. You feel stuck.

Alexandra Leumer, a 2009 graduate of Golden Gate University School of Law, quoted in an interesting and provocative New York Times article suggesting that law school “merit scholarships” can be a bit of a scam unfair in the eyes of some recipients, due to the fact that so many students lose them after their 1L year by not achieving the required GPA.

(We’ll probably have more to say about this piece, entitled Law Students Lose the Grant Game as Schools Win, on Monday — but in the meantime, feel free to discuss it in the comments.)

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….

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