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?
The school has filed two documents in response to Alaburda’s complaint. We’ve uploaded their demurrer and their motion to strike. They are not long; you should flip through them.
Thomas Jefferson makes a solid defense of itself. But in the process of trying to quash Alaburda’s lawsuit, the school offers some pretty damning admissions that seem to support Alaburda’s underlying moral, if not legal, point…
A reader noticed the job placement stats at UCLA Law, the #16 law school in the country, for the class of 2010.
The stats are frankly unbelievable. UCLA is claiming that 97.9% of its class of 2010 was employed within 9 months of graduation, at a median starting salary of $145K. Japanese officials were more straightforward about the Fukushima Daiichi disaster than UCLA is being with these bogus employment figures. But whatever, as I’ve said many times: we’ve gotten so used to educators misleading us that the concept of one of them telling truth seems like we’re asking too much.
At least UCLA added some fine print:
Note: Employment statistics include full-time and part-time jobs. Salary statistics are full-time only for those who reported salary information. Second jobs are not included in these statistics. This report represents NALP categories only.
Translation: If a graduate received money for giving a half-and-half at a truck stop up in Berkeley, that still counts! But the salary numbers only refer to our highest performing graduates. Also, why are you reading this tiny print? Look at the monkey. Look at the monkey. Yes, you’ll probably need a second job. What?
Obviously, this “disclaimer” is woefully ineffective, and a reader has even more reasons why….
Because explaining things to people isn’t always enough, God created infographics. Sure, “infographic” is a modern-sounding internet word, but the concept has been used since time immemorial. I’m sure the first cave drawing was done by a smart guy trying to explain the concept of hunting to a dumbass.
I’ve been trying to explain the pitfalls of going to law school for years, but will forevermore be thankful to Professors Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit for pointing me in the direction of this extremely helpful infographic. Basically, if you took everything I’ve ever written about law schools and distilled it into a picture, it wouldn’t be very long.
For the most part, I’ve just been happy that the lawsuit against Thomas Jefferson School of Law, over the school’s allegedly misleading employment statistics, exists. It’s not about winning or losing; it’s about raising awareness of the disingenuous way law schools go about filling up their classes.
Of course, anytime somebody says “it’s not about winning or losing,” you can best believe that person expects to lose. I’ve been operating under the assumption that Anna Alaburda, the woman suing TJSL, would get her butt kicked all over the courthouse.
But maybe I am wrong to give up hope for a victory so quickly. Karen Sloan of the National Law Journal has managed to find a couple of lawyers who believe law schools could be in big trouble…
Let’s say that instead of taking on hugedebts while I was in law school, I had taken up a wicked cocaine habit. Let’s say I had done loads and loads of blow from 2000 to 2007 and then went into a 12-step program. If I had been lucky enough to avoid an overdose or jail, you could argue that things would be better for me right now — even if I had a really serious cocaine problem where I spent my all my disposable income on the drug, and even if I put a good job and a good marriage straight up my nose. If I had been through all that and then wrote an essay about the highs and the lows of doing cocaine throughout my legal career, if I was telling kids that they could overcome a wicked cocaine habit even though the consequences were severe, if I was truthfully telling people that even though I’m trying to stay clean and sober now I’m not “ashamed” of my past life, I’d have nearly everybody in my corner.
Instead, I didn’t have a cocaine habit in law school and beyond. I defaulted on my student debts.
Really, the smart thing to do would have been to default on all my loans, then blame it on the cocaine that I was “powerless” to stop. But instead of playing the victim, I marshaled what autonomous power I had and chose not to pay back my loans in a timely manner. I decided to go down on my own terms, not the terms set out for me in a promissory note.
That seems to be what has really pissed everybody off…
On Thursday night, I tried to explain the ups and downs of living your life under constant threat from debt collectors. Based on the reaction to the post, I have to say that the reading comprehension of my post was poor, even by “internet commenter” standards. Even Megan McArdle in The Atlantic missed some of the key points in my post.
Mostly, I blame myself. When that many people gloss over things in your post, chances are you didn’t make things clear enough. So allow me to correct that problem now. This time, I’ll use capital letters and aggressive fonts to make sure we’re all on the same page: when it comes to negotiating down your educational debts for less than the principal, I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT FEDERAL LOANS. You should never, ever mess around with your federal debt because Uncle Sam ALWAYS GETS HIS MONEY.
Are we clear?
McArdle also claims that she doesn’t know anybody who successfully negotiated down their student debts with their lenders (missing again my point that my debts had already been sold to a collection agency). McArdle’s skepticism sounds to me like a person who goes to a car dealership, pays sticker price, and then wonders why everybody was high-fiving the dealer as she drives off the lot.
But these factual issues are not what interested me about McArdle’s post. What I found interesting was the subtle scorn she (and many commenters) had for those who do not pay back their debts. I should have included that scorn in my list of things that happen when you default on your loans…
Resorting to violence is part of human nature. We see it all the time, especially in children. When arguments fail, when hope wanes, the fists come out. Most people are willing to fight long before they are willing to admit that their entire worldview is wrong.
Institutions are no different; they will fight to preserve the way they’ve always done things before they will change, even if their old ways are ass-backwards and likely to lead to ruin.
This desire to fight instead of change is how I understand the Department of Education story that has been blowing up the internet today. Apparently the Department of Education — not the police or the military, but the DOE — got a warrant to send in a SWAT team after a person who was delinquent in paying back their student loans.
A SWAT team, guys — a freaking SWAT team, over some unpaid debts.
UPDATE: Please note the important updates and corrections to this story, after the jump.
Now I ask you, does that sound like the behavior of an institution that is confident about the state of the student loan economy, or does that sound like an organization trying to keep things together by using force and terror?
Okay, I’m using the term “lifts” very loosely. We all know that outsourcing is taking work that used to be done by very expensive associates based in America and giving to inexpensive workers based in India. The law firm saves money, the client saves money, and the only people who are harmed are recent graduates of U.S. law schools.
But could outsourcing companies be poised to give something back to American law school graduates? Outsourcing companies aren’t ever going to replace the many lost Biglaw jobs that are never coming back, but they could be giving rise to some new opportunities.
We mentioned this news last week, but judging from the slew of emails we’ve received about it, many of you want to discuss it at greater length. So let’s talk about it: the class action lawsuit recently filed against Thomas Jefferson School of Law by a 2008 honors graduate of TJSL, Anna Alaburda, alleging that the San Diego-based law school commits fraud, by using misleading post-graduation employment and salary data to attract new students.
The complaint in Alaburda v. TJSL contains counts for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and violations of various California statutes (including laws against unfair business practices and false advertising). Plaintiff Anna Alaburda claims that she racked up more than $150,000 in student loans and can’t find decent legal employment, even though she graduated with honors from TJSL, passed the California bar exam, and sent more than 150 résumés to law firms. She now does document review on a project-by-project basis.
Alaburda’s lawsuit seeks compensatory damages “believed to be in excess of $50,000,000,” punitive damages, and injunctive relief, to stop TJSL from continuing its allegedly unlawful conduct. Alaburda seeks to represent a class consisting of “[a]ll persons who attended TJSL within the statutory period” — a group estimated to contain more than 2,300 individuals.
Let’s take a closer look at this lawsuit — filed by partner Brian Procel of Miller Barondess LLP, a Boalt Hall grad and former Quinn Emanuel associate, incidentally — and consider its possible implications for legal education….
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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