I wanted to wait until I calmed down before I posted on it, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. So I broke into the Bronx Zoo this morning and stole some elephant tranquilizers. I’m going to shoot up and finish this post, now.
A year ago (almost to the day), we learned that Belmont University in Nashville was planning to start a new law school. At the time, I asked: “[H]ow colossally dumb are the people who sign up for a Belmont law degree next year?”
Well, there’s an article in the Tennessean today suggesting that the new dean of Belmont College of Law, Jeff Kinsler, is hoping his new students are so incapable of doing basic research than they’ll be easily distracted by anything that even smells of “math” or “statistics.”
And apparently his faith has been rewarded. With 1,200 inquiries from prospective students, it seems that Belmont is well on its way to handing out potentially useless degrees.
But what’s going on at Belmont is so ridiculous that it has even attracted the attention of the American Bar Association. You read that right. Even the ABA is saying “wait a minute” to students eager to sign up for whatever Belmont is offering….
An environment in which a person has run up $150,000 in student loans to pay for a law degree only to see jobs exported to India whose citizens are apparently very knowledgeable about the U.S. legal system.
Example: “The best job in the knowledge economy is plumbing because nobody with an advanced degree knows how to use Drano.”
Last month, we reported on the Best Value Law School Rankings produced by National Jurist. The initial list just mentioned the publication’s “honorees,” with a promise of numerical rankings later. That day has arrived, and the magazine is ready to tell us which is the very best value for law school in 2010.
Yesterday President Obama held a town hall meeting with those affected by the terrible economy. But the New York Times reports that the televised meeting “turned into a therapy session for disillusioned Obama supporters.”
A lawyer was among the disillusioned. Thanks to his question, Obama is now on notice that student debt is crushing the hope and change out of many people in this country. Here’s the Washington Post’s summary:
Then a 30-year-old law school graduate said he’s no longer able to make the interest payments on his educational loans, much less able to have a mortgage or a family. He said he had been inspired by Obama’s campaign. But now, “that inspiration is dying away,” he said. “I really want to know: Is the American dream dead?
If Bill Clinton had been asked that question, he would have said “I feel your pain,” molested the questioner, and said “I will not, let, student debt continue to bang you in the ass.”
So what did President Obama say to the debt-laden lawyer?
In a couple of years, we might look back on today as the first point where the giant, unsustainable bubble that is the student loan market began to burst. Check out this press release:
The Student Loan Corporation (NYSE:STU – News), a subsidiary of Citibank, N.A., and a leading originator and servicer of student loans, announced that The Student Loan Corporation (“SLC”) and Discover Financial Services (“Discover”) have entered into a definitive agreement for Discover to acquire SLC, and thereby become the owner of its private student loan business as well as $4 billon of its private student loans. Separately and immediately prior to the transaction, (i) SLM Corporation (“Sallie Mae”) will acquire from SLC $28 billion of securitized federal student loans and related assets and (ii) Citi will acquire from SLC certain federal and private student loans and other assets totaling $8.7 billion. Upon the closing of the transactions described above, shareholders of SLC will receive $30 per share.
So Citi is getting out of the student loan origination business (although they’ll still have some existing loans on their books). I guess they don’t want to be the Lehman Brothers of this failing market…
In July, we profiled the efforts of a group of Vanderbilt law students who are trying to bring more accuracy and transparency to the employment statistics provided by law schools. Their group, Law School Transparency, has requested all ABA-accredited schools to provide useful information to prospective law students — information that neither the ABA nor U.S. News currently collects.
Without the regulatory hammer of ABA (which the organization inexplicably refuses to wield), or the public shaming of U.S News (a for-profit magazine, not an industry watchdog), LST is up against some long odds. They’re trying their best, but their interim report indicates that thus far, 188 law schools have completely ignored their efforts to report simple facts on the employment prospects of law school graduates.
In fact, to this point no school (not even Vanderbilt Law) has agreed to provide the information LST is requesting. Poor Zenovia Evans would have starved to death by now.
But 11 schools did find the time to send out a courtesy letter citing the reasons these schools cooked up to justify keeping people in the dark about employment prospects for law school graduates…
I’ve written a lot about the horrible reality of the student loan industry. I’ve talked about how schools have no incentive to keep costs under control, how student debt is the next “credit bubble,” and how student loans cannot be discharged through bankruptcy (which is ridiculous).
We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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