Sunday, June 03, 2007

Law School Fraud

With the proliferation of heavily indebted law graduates and the growth of horrible temporary attorney sweatshops continuing unabated, an interesting article has uncovered the massive statistical fraud that has going on within the ABA and amongst our nation's law schools. With such twisted statistics (which paint an unrealistically rosy picture of the legal market), is it any wonder why such large numbers of sheep continue to wander over to the slaughterhouse?

http://www.law.com/jsp/tal/PubArticleTAL.jsp?hubtype=Inside&id=1180688730005

"Unfortunately, some of the measures that some law schools have taken to improve their status seem like the equivalent of using a particularly dodgy tax shelter.

The law schools’ record on postgraduation employment is even less flattering. U.S. News asks law schools to report the percentage of each graduating class that is employed at graduation and at a later point (currently nine months after graduation). Since the mid-1990s, both statistics have steadily climbed for most schools in all four U.S. News tiers. Between 1997 and 2006, the employed-at-nine-months figures climbed from 83.9 percent to 91.5 percent. Unfortunately, during this same period the overall first-time bar passage rate declined from 83 percent to 78.6 percent, largely due to many states raising their passing score. Because results from a second bar exam would not be available nine months after graduation, the increased employment can only come from employment in jobs that do not require a law license.

Obviously, the numbers do not add up. University of Iowa sociologist Michael Sauder, who has interviewed more than 120 law professors and administrators for his rankings research, heard examples of alumni taxi drivers who are “employed” for the purposes of U.S. News rankings. We have collected many other examples. Such practices only serve to mislead students into purchasing an expensive legal education. In the process, legal education is losing its credibility."

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It's time for some honest disclosure:

Wow, wow and wow! There MIGHT actually be some changes coming soon! Tom the temp & myself have argued for years that a system to gather and audit actual salary data would be 1.) easy to implement and 2.) healthy for the profession.

A simple index card that could be filled out and completed with basic salary and employment info 12 months, 24 months, and 48 months after graduation would be a simple and easy way to compile spot-on accurate salary and employment info. Naturally, subhuman scum like the "Valvoline Dean," Pat Hobbs, and others of his ilk want no such part of any such survey. How fast would Seton Hall enrollment nose-dive if prospective students saw how utterly abysmal salary and employment truly is?

I would have the card ask these simple questions, and make non-compliance (or fraudulent compliance) with the survey a disciplinary offense with a hefty fine.

1.) Are you employed in the legal profession?

2.) If the answer to #1 is yes, are you a temporary or contract attorney?

3.) Do you practice full time (over 40 hrs week) or part time (under 40 hrs week).

4.) What is your title at your legal job?

5.) What is your current yearly salary?

6.) firm name, city/state, practice area (or non-legal job title), and debt load at graduation (that would go right under current yearly salary....)

This data could be published in an ABA book and then we'd have a solid, accurate idea of the real prospects for post-graduate employment. Random & independent audits would assure accuarcy and truth- you need to remember that sleazy rodents like the Valvoline Dean really, really enjoy their no-show "jobs" and huge salaries & perks, and will (and do) lie thru their teeth to keep them.
-- L4L

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

The 4 year degree requirement as well as the soaring tuition costs are just another barier to entry to keep the Law profession in the hands of the white elite.

These firms also benefit by receiving cheap, desperate labor.

Anonymous said...

Be wary of a firm called Fitzpatrick, Cella that Nickel and Dimed us.

We were shoved into a tiny room with no a/c. Air was stale and hot. We were watched constantly, and leaving the building was extremely difficult, if not impossible -- door to the firm was literally chained shut on the weekend, I kid you not. We were cheated out overtime, and the woman that ran the project tried to deny us our food and transportation, even though we were initially promised the stipend, and even though we were required to work past 10 pm.

Anonymous said...

The issue presented in this blog is truly critical and must immediately be addressed by the law school community. Why does the ABA keep accrediting new law schools, allowing for increased tuition and the resultant life-altering debt burdens? Why are the schools allowed to perpetuate these myths about practicing law?

Only a select few lawyers make it to the top of this pyramid. The rest it seems are confined to near surfdom. Now we have to compete for our hardwon scraps with offshore outsourcing. What is the ABA doing to protect us?

The idea of an attorney as a well paying, prestiegous career is as outdated a notion as the socratic method.

Most law schools do nothing for you once you graduate, but they happily lure candidates in their early and mid-twenties into their schools with glossy brochures, phyrric scholarships and false, outmoded dreams. Then they harass them for 3 years and dump them out with $100k plus debt. Indeed students should know better than to do this to themselves, but they foolishly think they will be able to pay off this debt.

Law schools should be cutting back on the number of students admitted and the ABA should place a moratorium on the number of new law schools. It should then pledge to reduce the overall number of us ABA accredited schools by 15-20% over the next 10 years.

We are awash with lawyers, too many of us have been sold a dream that simply does not exist for us.
For the select few, there will always be work and opportunity.

Anonymous said...

You guys really need to stand up for yourselves. If not you, then who? The ABA, law schools, and the AMLaw 200 have no reason to change.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any info regarding a supposed scandal in which Cardozo career services people lied about post-graduate employment numbers?

I've heard this from some folks who claim that all the cardozo career services people were fired two or three years ago after some kind of incident.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't anyone doing anything about this? This isn't just a bunch of disgruntled graduates spewing this stuff. Professors and law school administrators are even admitting they are using dodgy statistical techniques.

Does anyone care? Hello?????

stateofbeasley said...

"Why isn't anyone doing anything about this?"

I tell every prospective law student I encounter the truth about the employment situation after graduation. I wish I could do something on a wider scale, or conduct a study to determine the real job prospects of people graduating from a particular school.

The non-legal community (the public at large) still perceives the legal profession as a fast road to wealth and job security for all lawyers, when this is clearly not true. This only serves to fill the enrollment lists of mediocre law schools around the country.

Anonymous said...

This is all so sad.

Marianna said...
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Anonymous said...
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barbsright said...

The reason people buy into education, including legal education, is because all the good paying blue and white collar jobs have moved overseas, or have being automated. The ABA allowing more law schools to open is just another symptom of the death of the American Dream. The ABAs' actions are very much like a a Big Box retailer opening new stores, and then declaring bankruptcy. I can personally remember just such a case a number of years ago.

Anonymous said...

I can speak to the incident at Cardozo as I was a student there at the time. Although the administration did its best to keep the scandal on the down-low, it turns out that the head of career counseling was supplying false information to, I believe, the ABA and/or U.S. News and World Report. The number of students employed after graduation, as well as their salaries, were falsified. Even today, I look at the career services website which states that the median salary for 2006 graduates is $105,000. I can tell you that I know far more Cardozo grads who are doing doc review or working for $50,000 than the school would like to admit. It's just a shame that Cardozo, and many other law schools like it, convinced us to open our wallets to them while they held up fraudulent employment statistics to us. Perhaps a course on Full Disclosure should be required --- for the Administration.

Anonymous said...

Where are the paddy wagons?

Anonymous said...

The White Man tricked me into signing up for law school. Now I am a slave for the doc review business and the oppressive temp agencies.

Anonymous said...

No one tricked you to do anything. You decided that you had what it took to be a lawyer. You think us foolish for us to believe that you'd be silly enough to choose a career 1)Based on unverified statistics of post-graduation earnings, 2)that you did not go to law school because you wanted to be a lawyer (a more central reason), or 3)that you are just a sheep who had their eyes closed going into and throughout law school. You are a smart person who finished both college and law school. You may even have passed the Bar.

You are responsible for your choices. If you did not have a 4.0 undergrad, you knew no decent WASP law firm was going to hire you, and in doc review we make more than comparable minority professionals. I'd rather "be stuck" doing doc review at $150k per year than having a pathetic 9-5 legal job paying $50,000 where I barely scraped by, financially.

Anonymous said...

Sweetie,

Document Review doesn't pay $150,000. Stop passing around that law school career center myth.

Do the math:

$30-35 an hour x's 2,000 hours a year ='s $70,000 a year with no benefits, at most.

Sure you could make $150,000, but you would have to work crazy overtime which would be like working two full time jobs.

Anyone can work two full time jobs, you don't need an overpriced law degree to do that.

Law schools twist statistics to make two full time jobs seem like a regular full time job.

Anonymous said...

Sweetie,

Document Review doesn't pay $150,000. Stop passing around that law school career center myth.

Do the math:

$30-35 an hour x's 2,000 hours a year ='s $70,000 a year with no benefits, at most.

Sure you could make $150,000, but you would have to work crazy overtime which would be like working two full time jobs.

Anyone can work two full time jobs, you don't need an overpriced law degree to do that.

Law schools twist statistics to make two full time jobs seem like a regular full time job.

Anonymous said...

A legal secretary could just as easily make $150,000 if he/she took a second job working the night time shift at another law firm.

I don't know too many legal secretaries that would do this, however. Many of them would probably be interested in having an actual life.

On the other hand, I know some attorneys that would be willing to do this. Loans, perhaps, not sure.

Anonymous said...

You all are missing the point. Attorneys are generally highly intelligent people. We shouldn't be sitting in front of a computer looking at documents all our lives like robots. There is shit going on in our world, a lot of bad shit, and our profession does nothing to remedy any of it. Who cares what you make by doing doc review. Our minds, along with the minds of brilliant associates and partners at big firms, are going for naught. Sure, we deserve some of the blame for our profession's shortcomings. I just wish I had pursued an education that would let me contribute to society AND collect $$$. The myth that law let's you do both is outdated. We were completely oversold the value of a legal education, and that has caused you and me tremendous problems.

Anonymous said...

Amen

Anonymous said...

"Tom the temp & myself"

lol - no wonder you are a temp

Anonymous said...

What does that mean?

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm the above guy who was interested in the Cardozo scandal. First of all, thanks for the confirmation. Second, I should explain that my interest is sparked because I am about to start my third year at Cardozo. It took a pretty long time, but the reality is sinking in that my job prospects are crummy. Sometimes I fantasize about suing the darn place, but I guess I'll wait to see what happens in the post-grad job market. Wish me luck.

Anonymous said...

hey,
this is the guy who was at Cardozo when the "scandal" broke (i am also the one who posted above). I am sorry to hear your career prospects aren't very bright, but welcome to the Cardozo Alumni Club. I have been out a couple years now and had a small firm job for about a year which paid 55k. now i'm doing doc review because i just want the money, and refuse to wait til i'm 35 til i make 6 figures. Cardozo career placement sucks if you're not top 10%. Honestly, I'm now looking at applying to business school or doing something completely unrelated to law because I feel like I've hit a glass ceiling. I've thought about suing the place too, believe me. I wish you luck in your 3rd year at law school, and if I could give you any advice, it would be try your hardest to find a medium to big-sized firm to get in with, in a field that you can tolerate. Working at a small firm for some asshole boss while taking home $700/week is a sure way to regret you were ever born.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but this is ridiculous. People have always had to work hard. Awww poor babies don't want to sit in front of a computer all night so they can make 150k a year, or almost 4 times the average income in the United States. I'm sorry but suck it up and deal with it, you got a degree, do the work, make the money! I could understand if you had to sit in front of documents all night for 60k a year, but document review projects pay you good money if you do the overtime and aren't afraid to do the work.

Anonymous said...

Dude, nobody is whining about having to work hard. You completely missed the point. The fact is if you have 7 years of higher education, and your choice is limited to either doing "substantive" work for 55k/year, or mindlessly staring at documents for 100k/year, something is seriously @#$% up.

You might think doc review pays decent money (which it does). So if you think document review is so great, how about you do it for 3 years and see where it takes your career.

And before you criticize others as you have, perhaps you should consider what it takes to scrape by in New York City on 55/k with rent, student loans and other necessities. Bottom line is you don't know what you're talking about, so it would probably be a good idea not to talk at all.

Anonymous said...

I don't? I'm a recent law grad with 200k debt and my options are the same as yours bud. I know what I'm talking about, not to mention I worked with JDs on doc reviews as a paralegal before I went to law school.

Anonymous said...

Doc review basically has to become your career. After you save up, start your own practice or business. About 10 years or so of serious savings and you can be rich from doc review, even with loans.

Anonymous said...

why on earth would you decide to go to law school if you actually worked on doc reviews BEFORE applying??? And perhaps your expectations are different from mine, but I didn't go to school for the past 20 years so I could review documents the rest of my life. If you think working on an hourly basis with no healthcare is a way to live, you should think about what other people with a law degree receive for their efforts. I imagine you never had high expectations for your career, otherwise you wouldn't tell me to "suck it up and deal with it." Not everyone sells themselves short as you have, my friend.

Anonymous said...

What are you talking about? What other great alternatives are you suggesting? Compared to the rest of the populations lawyers make a ton of money and in a few years can have enough saved up to get a business. I honestly don't understand what you are complaining about. Everyone who makes money basically has to work 24/7.

Law schools wouldn't be charging their exhorbitant rates if the loan companies were unwilling to pay them, because the loan companies believe the students will be able to pay off their loans and still live off their starting salary.

Anonymous said...

"If you think working on an hourly basis with no healthcare is a way to live, you should think about what other people with a law degree receive for their efforts."

The only people who get better than that are the ones who went to Ivy League law schools, and thats the top 10%, and many of them are legacies who have connections. Most people will never be in that category so there is no point worrying about it!

Anonymous said...

Loan companies don't care if you can't make payments. The federal government will just bail them out. Scam, scam, scam.

Anonymous said...

Look, it sucks, I agree. I'm just saying it could be alot worse for us. Imagine having all that loan money and a degree in classics or something fucked up like that.

Anonymous said...

First, I don't think doc review pays 100k. I saw 25-35 an hour in Ohio (where I am from) which is 50-70k. I know people who do doc work, and they are as unhappy as they come.

I know the employment stats are garbage from my school. 90 something percent of us are not making 85000 a year (a lot for the Midwest).

I finished in the middle of my class from a First tier school in the Midwest. Luckily, I planned my escape from the legal profession before my 3L year. Am I glad I went to law school? Sure. Would I do it again? Never.

The ABA and the law schools have done nothing to protect the profession. Law schools sucker students into taking on an enormous amount of debt so that they can have cushy six figure jobs, publish articles in law reviews, and only have to "teach" a couple of hours a week.

Anonymous said...

Doc review does pay around $100-150. The trick is to get experience and stay with one agency if possible. The agencies have higher paying reviews that they'll put you on if you've got experience. Also, if you've done a good job on the reviews, it's relly easy to find a job.

The problem is a high percentage of the temps have no work ethic and jump ship as soon as it gets difficult. The agency and the firms keep track of these people and don't give them any more jobs. If you here, "We don't have any projects starting right now," or "it's slow right now," the agency is probably lying. They're politely telling you that you're fired.


If you show up on time, do a resonable job, and don't quit when some little thing comes up (e.g., you have to work Saturday, one night you have to work late, they cut the hours so no overtime this week, etc.), you get better and higher paying assignments.

Personally, I love temping. I work 3-6 months a year then go live somewhere cheap (e.g., Thailand or South America). Whenever, I come back, I've got a job waiting for me. If I'd know about temping before, I never would have worked at a firm.

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