Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Graduation Scammin': South Dakota Edition

One of the best ideas law schools have concerning the "exit process" is to have a ceremony where the most prestigious people they can pull in tell the crowd of students and parents how awesome the law is and why their kids are destined for greatness. Think of it as a cherry on top of the sundae of deception and lies that have built legal education.

Usually, these speakers are so prestigious and self-absorbed, they have no idea what's going on in the real world. Such honest belief is essential in conning people. Get a dean up there and he might slip up and mention something unbecoming or snicker as he "pulls a Valvoline." But for the winners of the burning soapbox derby known as the legal profession, they can keep the story straight because they have blinded themselves from the reality of the peons.

And so here's South Dakota AG Marty Jackley (yes, that's a real name) at the U. of South Dakota's commencement:

Some of you are probably sitting here wondering, ‘Do I want to practice law?’ and in the next few months you’re going to have to make that decision.

Ah, yes, a voluntary choice! A decision like LeBron's or Wiggins! (naturally, I'm a UK fan)

I will tell you from experience – and you really have to experience it – the law is one of the most gratifying and satisfying things you will do,” he said.

One time, I had mind-blowing sex with a skilled lingerie model in a Parisian hotel with Birth of the Cool on the turntable. Later, when the Japanese servant girl was massaging my ripped shoulders as we all shared a chilled bottle of Ch√Ęteau Cheval Blanc and ate chocolates from Michel Chaudun, I looked up and said, "You know what?! Practicing law in America is much more gratifying and satisfying than this."

You will be amazed at how often you will depend upon each other. I look back on my class, and I would never have been partner in a law firm but for the clients my classmates sent me...

To translate this out of graduation-speak, a former federal district court clerk who was later appointed U.S. Attorney and won a statewide election for attorney general at age 40 says he never would have made partner at a firm in Rapid City, SD, without nepotism from the people who mostly had shittier jobs than him. Either he's lying or the median-level schmucks who look like barn animals have no prayer.

The practice of law is draining, and it takes a considerable amount of effort and time,” he said. “It’s not uncommon for lawyers to suffer from alcoholism, substance abuse, aggressive behavior, sometimes suicide. We have high divorce rates. But I would suggest to you, stay grounded, and keep things in perspective.

Ah, closing argument 101: mention the bad stuff 3/4 of the way through after no one is paying attention anymore. At least he offered them solutions, like "having a family" (hey, can't get divorced unless you marry the ho first!).

If you’re going to practice law, you’ll have tough days, tough problems. But if you keep the right attitude, you’ll be a successful lawyer.

Boom! The guarantee that's not really a guarantee at all. I LOVE those. Attitude is everything everything everything (except when it's not, which is 95% of the time).

South Dakota is clearly better off than a lot of places. A 152 LSAT gives you a fairly good chance of employment, and they've kept class sizes reasonably low to meet the low demand in state.

But the idea that in 2013, in this marketplace, that anyone will be a successful lawyer if they just keep the right attitude or make friends or that there's a serious level of choice involved with practicing law for most graduates is so utterly ridiculous that it only come from the lips of a silver-tongued dean or a clueless winner of a pie-eating contest.

South Dakota brought in its state's top lawyer and he delivered with a level of out-of-touch, meaningless graduation speech that surely smoothed over the unemployed's jaded edges and made everyone forget what a colossal mistake law school was until after the bar exam.

Way to go, South Dakota! You're far from a true-blue scammer, but at least you can do some of the basics right.

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