Wednesday, February 26, 2014

JDs... All the way to Tacoma! New Law School Alert!

Back in 1999, legal education departed Tacoma, Washington, and it hasn't been back since:
That left a big gap in the academic offerings in the South Sound. Aspiring attorneys now have to travel — or move — to Seattle or Portland for a law degree; nothing else is available between the two cities.
Good gravy, you were trying to run a city of 200k with no law school for a 50-mile radius?!?  Anarchy!  Ridiculousness!  Absurdity!  Flunderbung!  Move an hour away for law school!?  What the fuck were they thinking?!

Thankfully, the Washington state senate knows a problem when it sees one:
As part of the Senate budget, they’re including $400,000 to help jump-start donations to a [Univ. of Washington-Tacoma] program.
A new law school isn’t just something that would be nice for the South Sound. It’s badly needed. Competition for entry into the UW’s law school is fierce, and annual tuition at SU costs $11,500 more than at UW for in-state students. 
The legal profession — like many others — is starting to feel the effects of the baby boomer retirement wave. About 25 percent of the state’s practicing attorneys say they plan to retire within the next few years, according to a Washington State Bar Association survey, and almost 75 percent of the bar’s membership is at least 50 years old.
THINK OF THE CHILDREN AND GET THAT TOWN SOME LAWYERS.  My God, at this rate, if they don't produce a boatload more, they're going to run out of lawyers in 30 years!

Personally, I love the idea of throwing seed money in to lure donations.  Just like a bartender who throws a $5 into the jar to encourage others.  Because, traditionally, where a government wastes money, it is usually followed swiftly by a rash of right-thinking people who want to follow suit and fund completely ridiculous and unnecessary ventures that assist absolutely no one except the people who can claim a salary from the enterprise.

And besides, with the two Rutgers schools becoming one, we really need to add another public law school in America to keep the balance.  It was already bad enough that a state of 7 million tried to survive on just one public law school.  If I didn't like their idea of opening a new branch so much, I would accuse them of intentional dereliction of duty for going this long without finding a way to get more young lawyers to be lemmings in Washington instead of California, Michigan, or Florida.

Go Mariners.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Brooklyn Liquidates $36M in Real Estate

Running out of money?  Ha!

Brooklyn just got almost 40M:
Jared Kushner’s Kushner Companies has inked a deal to buy a multi-family portfolio in Brooklyn Heights from the Brooklyn Law School for $36.5 million... 
The asking price for the properties was $41.15 million.... 
“Today, Brooklyn Law School executed a contract and accepted a deposit for the sale of six of our smaller properties,” Nick Allard, dean of the law school, told TRD via email. “The Board of Trustees authorized the sale because with a smaller student body we need fewer apartments to meet the housing needs of our students.”
That's over 750 lemmings at full freight.

The BLS machine ain't goin' anywhere.  It's going to wait out this temporary assault on reason with a pile o' cash and get right back to spitting out lemmings when everyone realizes that this temporary internet hysteria was just a multi-year aberration.

Scam on.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Al-Jazeera Covering "Scam"; Still on Bandwagon?

From Al-Jazeera America:
Remember the good ol’ days when the grueling work of law school paid off with a prestigious, high-paying career? Soaring tuition, poor job prospects, and dwindling salaries are changing that perception. Enrollment is at a historic low, casting the future of the legal profession into uncertainty.
For those keeping score at home, reputable traditional domestic media outlets barely give any space to the so-called "scam," while media outlets from the middle east (sound effect: frighteningly dissonant chord) are giving space to muckruckers like Paul Campos.

Who are with, eh?

At least the article gives appropriate deference to twitter, with views from law students extolling the virtues of Law.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

American Dream Available Here

Occasionally, law administrators consult with me about ways to juice up the lemming harvest.  Normally, I charge 750/hr for my expertise, although I give a discount if the law school can pinpoint a student whose tuition money is being used to pay me.  In any event, this one's a freebie.

Two words:  undocumented immigrants.

Law schools have evolved nicely in the field of taking lawyers from overseas and selling them on LLMs that are so versatile you can use them on interstellar dust clouds.

But consider recent developments in California.  Here is an article about an undocumented immigrant in California who has recently gained the privilege to practice law and fill the desperately-under-served legal community in California.
“We’re all in search of the American dream, of making that American dream a reality, and all of you are going to do it,” said Sergio Covarrubias Garcia... 
On Feb. 1, thanks to a ruling of the California Supreme Court, Garcia was sworn in as a lawyer, the first undocumented immigrant allowed to practice law in California... 
The state court’s decision opens the door to other undocumented immigrants to become lawyers. “Perhaps some of you want to go to law school. And now I am happy and I am proud to tell you that door is wide open for you,” said Garcia, as students in the audience cheered.
Welcome, friends!  Or, shall I say, [upside down exclamation point]bienvenidos, amigos!

Meanwhile, elsewhere in California, minorities are finding racial problems at UCLA.
Legal training is, for some, one of the best pathways to financial success in a capitalist society.  For African Americans, legal training means much more, since it is so directly linked to our ability to fight for fundamental rights.
Indeed.  Obviously, there's a need for a greater proportion of minorities in America's law schools.  Lord knows white people just won't stop being special snowflakes, so if we really want to ratchet up minority presence in our law schools, it might be high time to look to other places to supplement the domestic pool of minorities.

The solution to these problems is simple.  Now that citizenship is not really necessary to practice law here, we need to open up the gates for everyone across the world.  There are all sorts of wonderful foreign peoples that our law schools can saddle with law degrees.  Just bring 'em in by the plane-load and say they're "undocumented" and have been there for twenty years!  Law schools, to date, have been not nearly aggressive enough in tapping this potential market.

"Why, that fine group of fifty 23-year old Botswanans living in my boathouse?  Oh, they're all cousins and their grandmother brought them over when she came to work as a housekeeper for the previous property owners and the paperwork was lost in a terrible fire.  And yes, they ALL want to go to law school."

The possibilities here are only limited by the finite bounds of Earth and the imagination of law school administrators.  And by assisting everyone with a college degree to gain an America-style legal education, law school administrators would be bolstering their claim of literally helping to bring justice to every corner of the world.  Just like Superman.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Faster, Pussycat, Kill Kill This Stupid Bill

H.R. 3892 is an arsenic-laced diarrhea bomb waiting to explode in the mouth's of America's fiscally-solvent precious babies.  Don't let this disaster happen, God:

Look at this nonsense!
Section 523(a) of title 11 of the United States Code is amended--
            (1) by striking paragraph (8)
No, you fools!  That's...that's...bankruptcy!
Any delinquent nontax debt owed by an individual to the
Department of Education under a program administered by the Secretary
of Education under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20
U.S.C. 1070 et seq.) shall not be subject to collection under this
section through garnishment of disposable pay of the individual...
How do you make orange juice without squeezing?!
No evidence of an individual's default on the repayment of a loan
made, insured, or guaranteed under title IV of the Higher Education Act
of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1070 et seq.) may be admitted into evidence in a
Federal or State proceeding involving the individual's professional or
vocational license.
Make it stop!  Please, dear God, make it stop!  You want to licensed debtors to work?!

There's other horribles, too, like... (hide the children!) a 6-year statute of limitations and a prohibition against colleges withholding transcripts.

Let me give you a list of why these are bad ideas.

1.  I know people who bought all sorts of frivolous things with their student loan money.  Like this one dude bought a TV!  A WHOLE TV!  And this other dude went on some "study abroad" trip to Spain.  And this other dude used his student loans to make car payments.  When I went to school, I had a bicycle, and it worked swell.

2.  Student loan debt is NOT SECURED.  That means that unlike your house or car, there's nothing that the creditor can take when the deadbeat can't pay back the full amount plus interest.  That means it should be treated differently.  You can't give back an education.  You can't unlearn the skills you learned.  Your mind is forever enriched.

3.  Student loan debtors had a long reputation of going to school and then BOOM filing for a discharge the second after graduation prior to the debts becoming nondischargable.  Now that tuition has gone way up, there's no doubt student loans would basically turn into gifts where students just wipe out $200k with a gleeful snap of a very greedy finger.  I know this is a true and accurate fact because I'm saying it.

4.  When I was repaying my loans, I ate ramen every night, lived in a broom closet at a YMCA, and didn't spend a dime on luxuries like pants, electric bills, or contraceptives.  You're paying your loans back, fuckwad.

5.  In many places, they don't even HAVE bankruptcy, and they do just fine.

6.  What ever happened to PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY?  If you can't pay back the debt, don't go to the school!  Do some research and figure out exactly what you'll be making in due time and the feasibility of paying back the debt you took out.  It is IMMORAL to forgive debt.





Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What Being a Lawyer Means

From the Huff Post, Professor Edgar Cahn (name not ironic!) the U. of DC law school has a thought-provoking essay:
"Why become a lawyer"? As the recent decline in law school enrollment numbers suggest, this question has been unsatisfactorily answered for the last few years.
But, it is the wrong question. The question all future law students should ask is: "What does being a lawyer mean?"
[A]s you consider the question of what does being a lawyer mean, ask yourself whether the law school you choose will provide that meaning.
Cahn lists five subquestions, which focus on the essential issues of philosophical justice, teaching competence, responding to systemic injustice, law school systemic injustice, the legal system's creation of systemic injustice.  As I learned on Sesame Street, one of those things just ain't like the others!  (And is therefore worthless).

In any event, I'd like to add my humble response to What Being a Lawyer Means, in a long and ridiculous run-on sentence inspired solely by the ridiculousness of the scambloggers:
Every Monday I wake up thoroughly defeated and my mood gets marginally better as each second of the dreary week sluggishly ticks by towards the subsequent weekend until I hit the apex of hopeful relief around Friday at 3 p.m., excepting (there's always an exception, eh, 1Ls?) when I have some big project or I'm way behind on my billable share, which is fairly often, as working as a lawyer, particularly with stressed-out partners who pray that they will land a judgeship before they die of a heart attack, is like an imperceptibly slow game of drunken musical chairs where everyone is already sitting and tells you to pull up a chair, because I have miles and miles to go before retirement and it's become plain that the field is slowly shrinking; and the clients, of which the hate of the few outweighs the love of the many (or vice versa?), have the pleasantries and evils of the full population, save the desire for nonsensical spending; and the judges and juries and fickle businessmen and loopy individuals who can take hours to weeks to months to years of work on some Big Case and abort it with the hasty, non-contemplated snap of a finger, meaning that what control over the situation appears is ultimately as fleeting and illusory as that of a lowly personal assistant, and that on calm Sunday afternoons I scroll through the classified ads in the vain hopes of finding some other career that will accept my liberal artist's analytic mind and my Juris Doctorate (c), but I am drunk and passed out before succumbing to complete the Home Depot application and then dream of burning law books and liberating myself from the rusty shackles of Sallie Mae, cruel dominatrix, until I awake to repeat the process anew:  that roller-coaster of excitement is why law is a meaningful career that kicks major ass.  NOW ONLY 180K AT EXCELLENT PUBLIC SCHOOLS!  SIGN UP TODAY!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

National Study Proves Value and Versatility of Law Degree

From the ABA Journal:
Twenty-four percent of the surveyed lawyers were not practicing law in 2012, compared to about 9 percent who weren’t practicing law in 2003, according to preliminary survey findings. The results are from the After the JD study, which tracked a national sample of lawyers who passed the bar in 2000 with surveys in three waves—in 2003, 2007 and 2012....Among graduates of the top 10 law schools, only 16.8 percent were working in large firms of more than 250 lawyers in 2012, compared to 55.3 percent in 2003 and 28.7 percent in 2007.
Well, that proves versatility, don't it?  The further you get from law school, the more doors open up on the outside.  People leave BIgLaw as voluntary opportunities open and outside forces can't but help to poach young lawyers to come work as general counsel or non-profit directors.

But wait, there's more!
[A]mong graduates of Tier 3 schools...those with the highest grade point averages had median pay that was $121,500 more than those with the lowest grades.
For those of you who are deficient in math, that means that graduates with high GPAs from very fine law schools are making at least $200k (obviously, even the lowest ranking law graduates can make a measly $80k).

And with such exorbitant salaries, they've had no trouble paying off debt.
The median remaining educational debt for the survey respondents in 2012 was $50,000... Nearly 48 percent had no debt remaining in 2012.
No one's ever accused the scambloggers of financial expertise, but c'mon!  These numbers they throw around - $200k, $300k, etc. - are just irresponsibly high.  And 30 year repayment?  In the immortal words of Clay Davis, sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeit.  Half of these motherfuckers paid down their whole debt in a meager 13 years and these are the whiny lazy bums of Gen X.  The remainder have a median $50k left, which gets paid off easily.

Contrary to the scamblog tropes, I'm seeing a group of people who made bank.  It's in the numbers, and these numbers will totally and unwaveringly apply to today's students, particularly given that the economy is improving and a wave of boomers is about to leave openings for every girl and boy who pushes through to bar membership.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Farmer John, Esq., to Reap Harvest of New North Star Scholarship

As we all know, it's an indisputable fact that rural America is desperate for the type of lawyer and law firm saturation found in more metropolitan areas.  It's also an indisputable fact that when there's a crisis in legal education, America's law schools are bound to swoop in and save the day.

Introducing William Mitchell's North Star Scholarship:
The new North Star Scholarship will provide $10,000 a year to students who enroll in the law school's new part-time hybrid program, which allows students to earn their J.D.s through a combination of week-long, on-campus trainings and online coursework—with much of the doctrinal studies being completed using web-based learning tools.
As the article notes, only 2% of the nation's law practices are in rural areas.  Yet, "[a]ttorneys are critical to the fabric of life in rural America."  How is our fabric to survive with no threads?  GIVE THAT SMALL TOWN SOME THREADS, YO.

Assuming a part-time program takes four (4) years, that's a $40,000 bargain.  And since you can work at the same time, you won't be incurring any living expenses debt!  My goodness, you'll be going to an ABA-accredited law school for only, like, $70k, which is easy to pay back with the salary you'll be garnering in such lawyer-starved areas.

If stupid law students can't figure out where the money is, we'll just have to give it to them until they can understand.  And if rural America isn't going to lawyer itself properly, we're going to incentivize them until they justice themselves properly.  The market will work, if we just force it to.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Lawyer Riches Express with Stops in Nashville and Pittsburgh

As this article documents, larger firms in Nashville, Tennessee have cranked up hiring lately.  Double-digit increases in hiring at multiple large firms, and while there's no discussion of any layoffs, stealth or otherwise, it's hard to imagine that that sort of thing is occurring, either.

What's changed?  Well, the economy has gotten better.  And clients are also embracing new payment models:
Instead of waiting to discover the bill after a transaction or issue is resolved, with alternative arrangements in place, clients and lawyers establish costs in the early phases of a project 
While it allows firms to control how much profit is made on a particular case or deal, it also can mean not getting paid for some work if the cost estimates end up being inaccurate, said Waller Chairman John Tishler. He estimates that 20 percent of Waller’s payments are based on alternative fee models, compared with about 1 percent in 2007.
And there's also opportunities exploding for lawyers who want a more flexible work schedule:
[Contract attorney company Counsel of Call], created in 2000, has quadrupled its revenues since 2009 as firms increasingly outsource due diligence and e-discovery services to Counsel on Call, and it has grown to more than 1,000 lawyers in seven markets, up from 600 in 2009.
WHOA!  four-hundred brand new jobs!  Holy fajitas, what the fuck are you kids bitching about?  That's a growth area if I've ever seen one.  We truly are seeing the dawn of a law school renaissance.

No wonder they had the foresight to open a new law school in the volunteer state!

But meanwhile, law schools have to continue their course of dumping cash from helicopters onto ignorant unenlightened folk who would rather use the bills as toilet paper.  From Pittsburgh:
The [new] three-year scholarships [at the University of Pittsburgh] range from $10,000 a year to full tuition — currently $29,660 for Pennsylvania residents and $36,864 for out-of-state students — for top students who apply by Feb. 15.
UNDER TWO WEEKS LEFT.  ACHTUNG!  This deal will not get any sweeter until it actually does.  Get. off. your. ass. now!  Pronto!  Andele andele!  Even those of you who don't want to be lawyers can profit from a law degree at these prices.

And it's not like the other top-notch school in Pittsburgh is overrun with applications:
Duquesne's law school reduced and capped its class size and began increasing scholarship aid about three years ago to maintain standards, said law school Dean Ken Gormley. He said about 70 percent of Duquesne law students receive scholarships. Those who do get three-year commitments.
That other 30 percent is truly the salt of the Earth.  Bless you, you noblest soldiers.  Bless you.  Folks, now is the time to catch this wave.  With the legal market exploding, it's never been a better time to get a law degree and find yourself at the pinnacle of the New Normal.