Student Loans

It's time we all entertained my American Dream.

Businessmen never rob banks
you can sell s*** and get thanks
that’s what I learned from the Yanks
— The Engineer; Miss Saigon.

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, 80% of law students would make the same mistake twice. Sorry, that’s not fair: 80% of law students can’t admit to themselves that they made a mistake in the first place. Whatever, that’s probably not fair either. But a new report says that 80% of law students would attend law school again if they could start over. I’m just having a hard time dealing with what those numbers mean.

Because those numbers mean that running a law school is truly the best and easiest job in the world. If 80% of your customers would purchase your services again, and there’s seemingly a never-ending flow of potential law students eager to apply for your services, then you have nearly no incentive to improve what you are selling. You wonder why law schools can charge whatever they want despite the poor job market? It probably has something to do with 80% of law students feeling like they’d do it again….

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Dominique Strauss-Kahn

* Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer has a challenge for you: “I defy you to tell the difference between a naked prostitute and any other naked woman.” [Dealbreaker]

* It’s not often that Cravath partners leave for other firms, but it happens. Jeffrey Smith, former head of the environmental practice at Cravath, recently decamped for Crowell & Moring. [Am Law Daily]

* Former Bush Administration DOJ official John Elwood, now a partner at Vinson & Elkins, breaks down the Office of Legal Counsel’s recently issued opinion on recess appointments. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Blawging, Flawging & the Mathematical Theory of Information. Also: what do laser hair removal in D.C. and lemon law in Wisconsin have in common? [Associate's Mind]

* Are Americans finally waking up to the higher education bubble? [Instapundit]

Professor Ann Althouse: birthday girl.

* It appears that Joseph Rakofsky, whose handling of a criminal case drew critical comment, struggles on the civil side too. Justice Emily Goodman returned a proposed order of his with this notation: “Decline to sign. Papers are incomprehensible.” [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]

* If you’re a trusts and estates lawyer or a reader of fiction, consider checking out this well-reviewed new novel by Patrick James O’Connor, which takes the form of an extended last will and testament. [Amazon (affiliate link)]

* Happy Birthday, Professor Althouse! [Althouse]

Every so often, people ask us about the “value” of getting an LL.M. degree. Our answer has remained pretty consistent. Is it a tax LL.M. from Georgetown or NYU? No? Then save your money and buy something valuable like gold or drugs. See this graphic (click to enlarge):

Photo credit: some dude on TLS.

But still, people ask: “Is it worth it to get an LL.M. degree?” And obviously, there are a bunch of people who put down good money chasing an extra credential that has little to no impact on their job prospects.

Why? Well, the simplest answer is that LL.M.s are extremely valuable to law school budgets. LL.M.s are so lucrative for law schools that law school deans are willing to lie or become willfully ignorant as to the employment opportunities generated by an expensive post-law school degree.

The National Law Journal made that EXTREMELY OBVIOUS point yesterday (again)….

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* “It seems no one can use dirty words, except Steven Spielberg.” Well, sh*t, I’ll be damned. Is Elena Kagan going to be the voice of reason in the Supreme Court’s FCC profanity case? [Los Angeles Times]

* Ken Cuccinelli filed an emergency motion to get Virginia’s primary ballots printed. You can’t wait three days for Perry’s hearing? It’s on Friday the 13th. You know how that’s going to go. [Bloomberg]

* The Tenth Circuit upheld a ruling to block an Oklahoma law barring the consideration of Sharia law in court decisions. If this pisses you off, go and watch Homeland. You’ll feel better. [MSNBC]

* Dewey want to join the Magic Circle? Bloody hell, of course! Clifford Chance has snagged two mergers and acquisitions partners from Dewey & LeBoeuf. [DealBook / New York Times]

* What will an LL.M. get you in today’s job market? Not a whole lot. And if you’re counting that extra year of loan debt as something of value, then you’re just a masochist. [National Law Journal]

* Heather Peters, the former lawyer suing Honda in small claims court, may be SOL because of a SOL issue. Stay tuned for the results at her second hearing later this month. [Huffington Post]

William Robinson III (a.k.a. the guy who needs to explain how he afforded his Corvair in the first place).

So earlier this week, the president of the American Bar Association, William Robinson, gave a ridiculous interview to Thomson Reuters News & Insight. You might have heard about it.

Robinson had the grace and the courage to tell law students it was their own fault for the rampant price gouging that happens as a result of the ABA’s ineffective oversight of law schools. It took real strength of character for Robinson to share this anecdote: “When I was going to law school . . . I sold my Corvair to make first-semester tuition and books for $330.” I mean, how many people in Robinson’s position would be so out of touch that they think prospective law students are driving automobiles that can cover a whole semester of tuition at an American law school!

That’s right, future 1Ls, don’t get too used to your Jaguar XKR. Don’t become too attached to your Lexus hybrid. You’ll need to sell your luxury automobile to pay for law school. D’uh!

Sorry, I’m still flabbergasted that the president of the American Bar Association openly admitted to being a complete joke.

When the story broke the other day, I had the good fortune of being in Washington, D.C., at the annual conference of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). The law school at the University of California – Irvine invited me to speak to law school professionals and deans about how law schools could better use (or avoid) social media.

And let me tell you, law school professionals — the people who have to deal with the perception of general ABA incompetence on a day-to-day basis — were not at all happy with William Robinson’s comments….

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As we mentioned today in Morning Docket, William Robinson, the newly appointed president of the American Bar Association, is taking a stand on the status quo of legal education in our country.

But instead of combating 2011′s annus horribilis for law schools by calling for reform, Robinson is defending the ABA’s role, stating that young lawyers “should have known what they were getting into.”

Isn’t it wonderful to know that the man in charge of the ABA is essentially playing the “blame the victim” card when it comes to debt-saddled and unemployed law school graduates?

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Puppy is sad because you think he has no soul.

* Rick Santorum and the Sweater Vests can join Rick Perry’s ballot access lawsuit in Virginia. It’s funny, because at this rate, Perry will have dropped out before the first hearing. [Washington Post]

* If you’re an unemployed law grad drowning in debt, you should’ve known that you’d be screwed. Warning! Danger, Will Robinson! Opinion does not compute! [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Scott Rothstein claims that his firm kept a condo across the street so that partners could bang hookers. If real firms were like this, there would be less partner defections. [Orlando Sentinel]

* One robo-signer to rule them all: David J. Stern, Florida’s dethroned foreclosure king, is being sued by his own company for fraudulent conduct. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. [Bloomberg]

* Do cute, little doggies have souls? Of course they do, but the law doesn’t really conform to animated children’s movies from the eighties. This lawsuit hopes to reveal the truth. [Gothamist]

[A] law school could literally burn a huge sum of money and, as long as the flames were meant to teach something to the students — the craziness of the U.S. News algorithm, perhaps? — the school would benefit in the rankings.

New York Times journalist David Segal, responding to a reader’s question in relation to his series of articles about the economics of law schools. Segal’s latest article, For Law Schools, a Price to Play the A.B.A.’s Way (our coverage here), concluded the series.

(Additional excerpts from Segal’s responses, after the jump.)

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We mentioned this in yesterday’s Morning Docket, but I think it deserves a full post. For a long time, I have been questioning the value proposition of going to law school. Finally, it seems that somebody who can operate a calculator has my back.

The National Law Journal reports that Jim Chen, Dean of the Louisville School of Law, has come up with an easy-to-apply salary figure to determine whether law school was a financially sound decision on a case-by-case basis.

If you want to go to law school and one day be able to own a home, Chen argues you need to have a salary that is three times your law school’s annual tuition. You need to earn six times your annual tuition if you want to be a truly financially sound home owner if you are carrying three years of law school debt with you.

I’d like for people who constantly defend the value of law school to start pointing out the high-salaried jobs that are needed to make law school worth it….

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The battle for greater law school transparency, for more accurate and complete information from law schools regarding the jobs obtained (or not obtained) by their graduates, has many fronts. Some advocates for transparency work through organizations, such as the Tennessee non-profit Law School Transparency. Some have turned to the political process, where the issue of transparency has attracted the attention of several United States senators. And some have looked to litigation, suing law schools for providing allegedly misleading data about post-graduate employment outcomes.

Here’s an interesting idea: what if law schools just started posting comprehensive, accurate employment data on their websites? On a voluntary basis — not compelled by politicians, lawsuits, or the American Bar Association (ABA)?

Wouldn’t that be great? And wouldn’t it be helpful to prospective law students trying to decide whether it’s worth investing three years of their lives, and a large amount of (often borrowed) money, to pursue a law degree at the school in question?

Take a look at what they’re now doing at the University of Chicago Law School. Could it perhaps serve as the model for law school reporting of employment data?

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