The penultimate NIED column. #24 will be my farewell column, and is yet to be written. While this post replicates some of the material linked to in the first paragraph, I felt that an update on the matter would be instructive in determining of how many legal educations "scams" at certain institutions continue to exist. My slight complaint about the version appearing on BLS Advocate is that they did not seem to get my point about the Claims Adjuster position posted on our school's job board...
On June 1, 2011, I posted a long “special comment” on so-called “scamblogs.” That may be found here http://flyinghouses.blogspot.com/2011/06/special-comment-scamblogs.html. As previously understood between me and the BLS Advocate staff, I will complete Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress with 24 articles. I felt that since I was nearing graduation, it was time to reconsider scamblogs, and see how the landscape has changed in the past two years.
First, we consider http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com, which has just said “goodbye” on February 27, 2013, after 500 posts. One statement bears excerpting:
19 months and 499 posts later, it turns out that the core message of this blog – that legal academia is operating on the basis of an unsustainable economic model, which requires most law students to borrow more money to get law degrees than it makes sense for them to borrow, given their career prospects, and that for many years law schools worked hard, wittingly or unwittingly, to hide this increasingly inconvenient truth from both themselves and their potential matriculants – has evolved from a horrible heresy to something close to conventional wisdom.
So the scamblogs have gone away because people got tired of repeating themselves over and over again, until people at the ABA decided that it was time to take their concerns seriously. I personally dislike this blog because he brags about getting 50,000 comments (I have about 100 comments and 30,000 page views, but I would like to think that I have written on a far more diverse range of topics). I also have little sympathy for law school professors that write about how they know they are “duping” their students—if you believe that strongly about it then get out (maybe it’s all he’s qualified to do, though).
Next up we have the always popular “ATL.” I will not say much about this website as I have written at length on it in my previous special comment linked to above, but I will just say that I was very distressed to see them report on the resignation of our Director of Career Services, with a “hot tip” from a BLS student who bemoaned the fact that a position of “Claims Adjuster” was listed on Symplicity. Note to self: Claims Adjuster is not a “legal job” but it’s at an insurance company and they always need lawyers so they wouldn’t be posting there if that wasn’t at least part of the concern. Plus those jobs pay pretty well, and the lead singer from the band Pissed Jeans is a Claims Adjuster for his day job so I think it would actually be kind of cool to do that.
I hate “ATL.” I have visited it less and less over the years. It loads slowly. It’s TMZ for nerdy lawyers and law students. They make all their money off advertising from various “legal companies” and then they don’t exactly bite that hand that feeds them, but might as well [tell everyone that if they score beneath 170 on the LSAT don’t go to law school]. I have very little respect for this website and hope that my blog will never fall prey to being such a sell-out.
Lawschoolfail.blogspot.com is our next stop on the tour, and this site at least opens up with a nice post (dated December 26, 2012) asking whether the scamblogs are wrong. Now this is an interesting question. The scamblogs may have been right, and they may actually have effected a grassroots-type of change in the legal profession, now that US News & World Report has changed the way they list employment figures for graduated law students. But do we really need scamblogs anymore?
The blogger makes an interesting point:
What is the point in not getting married or not trying in life because you did not get a job after law school? What is the point in feeling sorry for yourself over the internet year after year? There has to honestly come a time when you get off the internet and start striving again. I just can't get over the fact that law school has broken so many people. I can't come up with any other conclusion than these people were very weak individuals. Some seem to literally revel in their own self pity, wallowing in the perceived idea that they are pariahs. Many act as if they have given up on life, instead of trying to do something else, they just say "I can't do anything with my degree."
This is basically the point I wanted to make here. Law school is not for babies. If you’ve never had a job before starting law school, then you may not know what it is like to search for a job, and how demoralizing it can get. It’s probably going to suck. But things are different in 2013 than they were in 2012 or 2011 or 2010 or 2009 or even 2008. They still pretty much suck, but they are, ever-so-slowly (we are told to believe) getting better.
ThirdTierReality.blogspot.com is an especially vicious site with offensive imagery that seems to revel in parades after parades of horribles. In the past, this blog has taken pot shots at BLS and our President. Now, many of us may feel strongly about our President, but nobody really knows how much of a role she plays in our school. She is higher up than the Dean, no? She is the at the very top and has done her best to plug holes in the sinking ship that is a law school of our caliber in New York City in these economic times. As much as people might love to hate on her, the fact is many of us have not even spoken to her, and have no idea what she is doing behind the scenes. We will not pay any more attention to the woman behind the curtain.
Higher education may indeed be a scam, but it is a scam with which we must live. Persons concerned that they are not getting their money’s worth should avoid private education. (Though it is worth noting that many public institutions have rather inflated tuitions for law school—see University of Illinois at $38,250 a year (in-state); I base my statement on the cost of attending Northern Illinois University, however, which most people would consider reasonable at $19,811 a year (in-state).) Many people from my generation will find it necessary to obtain a higher degree because they have found out that liberal arts degrees are a a-dime-a-dozen and they are simply not competitive in the labor economy. I would not say “the hard is what makes it great,” but I would say “the hard is what makes you prepared to accept the terms of reality.” I’m not going to make $160,000 in my first year out of law school, and indeed may not even get a job paying $57,000. But I am not going to blog about how I wish I had known better. Law school has been a rigorous education and has opened up a few more job possibilities than were open to me with a B.A. I will continue to blog about literature, film, music, and interesting legal matters. I will never suggest that BLS “tricked” me into attending (though I may file a complaint against them in small claims court for $6,000), and whenever I give my “unauthorized tour” of the library to prospective students, I tell them that it is a very good school, and the tragedy is that because we are all so well-qualified, a fair number of us will just get left in the dust because there will always be employers that only care about class rank.
BLS has cut back the number of students per class, and ultimately this is the wisest resolution of the “hyper-saturation problem.” We may never be as good as NYU or Columbia, but my hope is that one day (hopefully soon) we will be recognized as a school on equal footing with Fordham. And I do not think that is an unrealistic hope.