Student Debt

A lovely editorial in the New York Post showed a total lack of understanding about the problems faced by lawyers and recent law grads. I want you guys to see it, because sometimes it’s easy for lawyers to forget just how much the outside world hates them.

And make no mistake, the outside world hates lawyers. But the New York Post is able to add an extra helping of disgust toward legal practitioners. The editorial mocks the idea of helping unemployed lawyers.

Maybe if more prospective law students knew how much everybody else dislikes them, there would actually be fewer unemployed lawyers walking around in need of help….

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It continues to baffle me how this president who was elected thanks to the overwhelming support of young people can’t see the crushing effect of student debt. I honestly think that President Obama has a blind spot on this issue because he was able to pay off his debts with a book deal. Not everybody gets a book deal.

Heck, in this economy, not everybody gets a job.

And if you don’t have a job, paying off your student loans is the last thing on your list. First comes shelter, then food, then dating, then internet (so you can look for jobs), then all the bills where they take something away from you if you don’t pay, then alcohol, and then you see if you have any money left over to pay your student loans.

I didn’t make that last paragraph up. That’s a pretty standard hierarchy of human needs.

For some reason, Obama doesn’t understand that. He seems to think that if you pester people more, they’ll pay off their loans. Thanks to this flawed logic, expect debt collection calls to be coming to a cell phone near you….

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Two petitions of possible interest showed up in our inbox today:

1. In favor of student loan forgiveness: This petition, reminiscent of Elie Mystal’s call for a student loan bailout, “strongly encourage[s] Congress and the President to support H. Res. 365, introduced by Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI), seeking student loan forgiveness as a means of economic stimulus.” (We mentioned H.R. 365 in Morning Docket.)

2. In favor of law school transparency: This petition, posted by Professor Paul Campos over at his formerly anonymous blog, calls for “the American Bar Association to require all schools it has accredited to release clear, accurate, and reasonably comprehensive information regarding graduate employment, by for example implementing the proposals outlined in Part III of the Law School Transparency Project’s white paper, A Way Forward: Transparency at U.S. Law Schools.”

We might have more to say about these petitions later. For now, we’ll just pass along the links (and you can argue the merits of these petitions in the comments).

Want a Real Economic Stimulus and Jobs Plan? Forgive Student Loan Debt! [SignOn.org]
Law School Petition [Inside the Law School Scam]

Earlier: Student Loan Bailout. Just Do It.
The Tenured Law Prof Turned ‘Scamblogger’ Reveals Himself

Martin Luther dropped out of law school and he did just fine for himself.

Not all of our coverage of law schools is depressing; we bring you happy stories as well. In recent weeks, we’ve written about one law school dean’s creative (and healthy) student outreach program, a law student demonstrating kindness to animals, and someone having fun — perhaps too much fun? — in the library.

Let’s continue the good cheer. Back in the spring, we wrote about a law student who was thinking of dropping out of school. He sought our advice — and, surprisingly enough, my colleague Elie Mystal advised this fellow to stay in school (even though Elie is generally not a fan of legal education).

Some commenters disagreed with Elie (shocker), and urged the kid to drop out. But now we bring you an update suggesting that perhaps Elie’s advice was sound….

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A bright, 23-year-old woman is thinking of going to law school. Should she do it?

Let’s learn about the particulars of her case….

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We write about depressing news for law students and law school graduates all too often these days, which is a very, very sad thing. We know that you don’t want to be reminded about the impending doom you may soon face. We really do wish that we had more positive news to report. But in this economy, it’s just not possible.

Gone are the days when earning a JD meant having automatic employment prospects. Gone are the days when having student loans wasn’t completely debilitating. These days, the JD has taken on a new meaning. It doesn’t just mean Juris Doctor anymore. These two are a little more fitting: Job Dilemma and Jumbo Dumbass.

The Connecticut Law Tribune has come out with an informative piece just in time for new 1Ls to realize that they may have embarked upon a six-figure mistake….

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We know how much our readers love rankings, so as we mentioned in Morning Docket, the National Jurist has released the fifth annual list of the 60 Best Value law schools in its preLaw magazine. As it stands, the list remains unranked, but the final grades for the honor roll are expected in October.

The Best Value ranking typically takes into account the following criteria: in-state tuition, average student debt, the percentage of graduates employed nine months after graduation, and bar passage rates.

But this year, the National Jurist made some adjustments to its rankings methodology to account for “fairness.” It now takes into account averages for bar passage rates and post-graduation employment over the past two years. And even if a law school didn’t meet one of these important standards, the school wasn’t automatically excluded from consideration. Everyone gets a trophy in this year’s Best Value rankings.

You may be surprised at some of the law schools that made this year’s Best Value honor roll. Check and see if your school made the list, after the jump….

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Are there people out there who don’t think we’re heading for a student loan default crisis? That’s a serious question. I’m wondering if there are actual professionals out there who think that student debts are a safe bet? If so, can those people be exiled to one of the PIGS countries where they can breed in their natural habitat?

Today we have more evidence that the student loan market is headed for disaster. We live in a world where the cost of education has become completely disassociated from the value that the education provides. The tuition is too damn high, and there aren’t enough high paying jobs available for all of the young people with enormous debt.

For many recent college graduates, default is inevitable. The numbers are starting to catch up with reality….

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The worst thing about being betrayed is the loss of innocence and optimism that forever changes the victim of the betrayal. The reality is so stark you can literally see it on people’s faces as they realize the extent to which an ally has turned on them. Robert the Bruce saw it on William Wallace’s face in Braveheart. My wife saw it on my face when Obama agreed to the debt ceiling deal. And you are going to see it on the faces of the young and educated when they realize that, once again, the president has sold them down the river for the cause of electoral expediency, even as Obama’s numbers drop so low that his heat can only be measured in Kelvin degrees.

In the total debt ceiling cave-in that will mark Barack Obama as the most successful Republican president since Ronald Reagan, there was one cut that really illustrates how little the president cares for his young, college-educated constituents. To save about $26.3 billion dollars, the debt ceiling deal eliminates the graduate student loan subsidy. That means that law students (and other grad students) will continue accruing interest on their non-dischargeable educational loans throughout their graduate studies.

I can see why they call education the “silver bullet,” because education certainly seems like a surefire way to kill one’s economic future….

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Yale Law School

Here at Above the Law, we’ve been discussing problems with the current law school model for quite some time now. My colleague Elie Mystal, for example, has railed against the high cost of law school, the crippling debt taken on by many law students, and the scarcity of jobs waiting for them on the other side.

By now we’re all aware of the problems. What about possible solutions?

In the wake of David Segal’s most recent New York Times exposé on law school shenanigans, the Times’s Room for Debate section solicited perspectives from a number of experts — including yours truly — on whether and how to reform legal education.

The responses are quite interesting. Let’s check them out, shall we?

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