Student Debts

We are going through a revolution in law with a time bomb on our admissions books. Thirty years ago if you were looking to get on the escalator to upward mobility, you went to business or law school. Today, the law school escalator is broken.

William D. Henderson, a professor of law at Indiana University (Maurer), commenting on the rigor mortis that’s quickly spreading now that everyone’s fantasies of fame and fortune in the once storied legal profession have died.

(Enough doom and gloom. What are law schools planning to do about it?)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Quote of the Day: The Law School Dream Is Dead”

My friends, today we have reached a singular height of self-serving hypocrisy. We’ve got a law professor out with the helpful suggestion that the way to deal with the vast oversupply of law school graduates who don’t have jobs is for law firms to collusively decide to pay the people they do hire less money.

According to this professor, law firms will magically hire more people if they just didn’t have to pay as much as $160,000 for new associates. Of course, the argument completely ignores the fact that Biglaw firms could find associates on the street willing to work for nine bucks an hour and a Metro card if they really wanted more people. It overlooks the reality that firms are more interested in hiring as many people as they need, not enough people to make sure law schools are happy. But what does this guy care? He’s a law professor, and as long as he’s shifting the blame away from law schools to somebody else, it’s a deflection mechanism worth putting on the internet.

So yeah, let’s all take a look at the latest bit of horrible logic coming from somebody who is happily profiteering off of the oversupply of young attorneys but is eager to blame somebody else for the crisis that pays his salary. It’ll be good fun…

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* The revised transcript from the day Justice Thomas spoke during oral arguments has arrived, and it seems his record for not having asked a single question from the bench is still intact. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* The Seventh Circuit ruled on Indiana’s social media ban for sex offenders, and the internet’s filth will be pleased to know they can tweet about underage girls to their heart’s content. [National Law Journal]

* Propaganda from the dean of a state law school: lawyers from private schools are forcing taxpayers to bear the brunt of their higher debt loads with higher fees associated with their services. [Spokesman-Review]

* Rhode Island is now the only state in New England where same-sex couples can’t get married, but that may change as soon as the state Senate gets its act together, sooo… we may be waiting a while. [New York Times]

* It’ll be hard to document every suit filed against Lance Armstrong, but this one was amusing. Now people want their money back after buying his autobiography because they say it’s a work of fiction. [Bloomberg]


Having a bad day in Biglaw?

Did you love Legos as a child? Well, who didn’t? They’re colorful and creativity-triggering. Having your child play with Legos is probably better than handing him an iPad equipped with Angry Birds (although I’ve witnessed firsthand the power of Angry Birds to mollify a misbehaving child, so I don’t judge).

But did you ever think, regarding Legos, that you could turn it into a living? And not just a living, but a successful career as an artist?

Today in career alternatives, we meet a lawyer turned Lego lover. His sculptures have appeared in museums and galleries around the country….

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One of these days, there is going to be an awesome story of a recent law graduate attempting some kind of complicated heist, reminiscent of The Town, in order to pay off his crushing graduate school debts.

This is not that story. This is a story of an allegedly crazy man, wearing a 3D mascot hat, who allegedly tried to steal $500 with a Star Wars blaster.

But the dude went to law school, and so we get to talk about it….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Graduate Allegedly Robs Bank Because Of His Student Debt (And Because He Might Be Cray-Cray)”

The horrors of student loans are much discussed here at Above the Law, if only because law school tuition is so damn high, and housing expenses are so damn costly, that financing a legal education usually requires taking out about six figures of non-dischargeable debt. That’s quite a heavy load to carry. If only there were some way to pay the bills without going to the poorhouse in the process.

Apparently there’s a new way to deal with the rising costs associated with higher education in this country, and you don’t even have to lose your dignity to participate. You see, Seeking Arrangement, the leading “sugar dating” website, recently released statistics showing that more and more college co-eds are turning to “sugar daddy” and “sugar mama” arrangements to pay for their school-related expenses.

And hey, if all the college kids are doing it, why can’t law students fall in line with the latest trend?

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It’s completely natural for adults to reach a breaking point. Sometimes, enough is enough. This is true for almost all aspects of adult life that people wish could be changed, including those dealing with addiction, infidelity, and, of course, the headaches that accompany being employed. When and where this point is crossed obviously depends on the individual, but many times, it’ll result in breaking away from what became comfortable and a willingness to do anything for a change.

I personally experienced this myself just before Christmas — that’s when I quit my awful retail job….

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‘Please sir, some more gruel experience.’

Anyone who’s been following the implosion of the law school bubble is well aware of the fact that many recent graduates have been left floundering when it comes to employment prospects. And given the vast media coverage of the legal academy’s existential crisis, everyone and their mother knows that entry-level law jobs are few and far between. People are hungry for experience, but they’ve quickly come to the conclusion that it’s a real seller’s market out there. In today’s economy, it’s kill, be killed, or work in retail with a law degree (a fate which, for some, may be worse than even death).

As expected, some employers have chosen to take advantage of this situation. Take, for example, the “excellent position” we covered last summer, after a number of tipsters emailed us to express their outrage. The job was touted as providing “valuable experience,” and even though it had a sad little yearly salary of $10,000, some 32 people applied.

In the wonderful world of legal one-uppance, it was only a matter of time before someone came up with an even more audacious employment scheme. Would you be willing to pay someone for legal experience? Because that’s what this Connecticut law firm expects you to do.

Leave it to a lawyer to come up with a way to turn this dearth of job opportunities into a revenue stream….

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In Professor Paul Campos’s new book, Don’t Go To Law School (Unless) (affiliate link) — a book I’d recommend to anyone thinking seriously about law school — he shares an email from an individual who, after much research and thought, decides to enroll in law school. The email sheds some light on why people continue to sign up for law school despite all the warnings (from folks like Professor Campos, my colleague Elie Mystal, and many others). The law student writes:

[Prospective law students] think: debt doesn’t matter. There is no penalty for defaulting on the debt, except the relinquishment of the privileges of an advanced financial life. . . Students evaluating the horrible deal in question believe they have no access anyway to those privileges (e.g. a retirement account, a home purchase, a start-up business). For the student in question, all law school has to do is provide some potential benefit, and it becomes a rational choice.

After acknowledging that “[t]here’s a lot of force in this line of argument,” Professor Campos tries to refute it, basically arguing that many who go to law school based on such reasoning are “making a difficult situation worse.” But maybe the argument is not so easily refuted.

After all, what else are you going to do with yourself? Before you criticize law schools and those who matriculate at them, please familiarize yourself with the grim economic realities of twenty-first century America….

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It’s a little bit early for tuition hike season, but in a few weeks, we’ll start getting stories about law schools raising tuition on students just because they can. We say it every year, and we’ll say it again this year, but it appears that law school tuition is one of the only things that is recession-proof.

Law salaries remain flat. Law applications are even down, but that doesn’t necessarily mean tuition will follow. Here’s how committed law schools are to raising tuition: they’ll raise tuition and then give high-achieving students scholarships to offset the increase. It’s as if low-achieving law students are subsidizing tuition for high-achieving law students at schools across the country.

Law schools are willing to do whatever it takes to keep making the tuition number go up. At Miami, they raised tuition and then (after we asked about it) gave 2Ls a “waiver” from the hike.

It goes up at Duke. Last year, tuition went up at Duke Law School by 4 percent. Why? Why was the money needed during a time of extreme challenge in the legal job market? Who knows? It’s not like Duke is required to explain itself to students.

But this year, some Duke Law students are trying to make the administration understand that the “standard” tuition hike doesn’t make any sense for the students at the school….

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