Friday, September 9, 2011

How Many Doors Did Your JD Open?

For anyone who's bitter about high student loan debt and/or the dearth of (paying) legal jobs out there, check out this piece from Nando of Third Tier Reality, which sheds some unflattering light on the higher education scam.  It includes some sobering statistics regarding the glut of student loan debt in the U.S., the lack of available jobs that require advanced degrees, as well as the frighteningly inflated tuition prices some law schools are charging their "customers" these days.  

Also, if you feel like getting involved in protesting or sharing your views on the higher education scam, check out the upcoming protest scheduled to take place October 8th in San Diego, California. 


  1. Thanks for plugging that article. Also, we need to highlight this upcoming protest, on all of our blogs - as well as JDU.

    I talked to an east coast lawyer today, who came up with a GREAT idea: universities with ABA-accredited law schools should make undergrads take one law school course - with the forced curve, in effect. (Those not enrolled at such a school would be required to take such a class at another college or university.) The grade would be based entirely on a standard 3-4 hour law essay exam. A "law professor" would teach the course, under normal law school conditions.

    Those undergrads who have not taken such a course would not be eligible to even register for the LSAT. This would convince 75% of prospective law students that law school is a terrible idea. The class would be a "doctrinal course." Those who score a B+ or above would then have the option of receiving law school credit for that course.

    If the ABA gave one damn about law students - or the "profession" - it would adopt and STRICTLY enforce this measure.

  2. In addition, those who receive less than a grade of B+ would have the option of taking the course for credit/no credit. In other words, it would not count against their overall UGPA.

  3. That's a great idea Nando.

    I remember the shock of the vicious grade curve as a 1L.

    If I had known then that my hard work would only result in a marginal GPA, I would have not enrolled as a 1L.

  4. Thanks Nando:

    Some other advantages to the proposal.

    1) The LSAT does not give any idea what studying at law school is like. As a matter of fact they do not use case law on their reading comprehension exam.

    2) Medical schools already use this technique, only instead of one class, they require at least two years of required courses and weed people out through inorganic chemistry.

    3) If a student bombs this course they can still apply to law school and a law school will just see a pass/fail on their regular transcript which will tell them something, but will not destroy their chances unless they actually failed the course. On the other hand, if you have a student who may have gotten a lower gpa but they ace the class, then a lawschool can say, "this person has some aptitude for legal thinking".

    4. Anyone who wants to enroll in this screening class may, as long as they are a college/university student in good standing. If the sorting hat finds against them, its the cost of one class, as verses the expense of the first year.

    5. Law schools make money teaching this screening class. It will also allow them one other method for evaluating potential students.

  5. sorry organic chemistry!

  6. That is a great idea. But I'd put another condition on that requires the subject matter to include the dull topics that are actually the most useful. Meaning, no First Amendment Law or International Law (whatever that is).

    The course could be Civil Procedure (anyone who stays awake through ALL of subject matter jurisdiction gets at least a B), Secured Transactions (since most of America is going bankrupt), Family Law and Procedure, or Client Communications (and they'd have to solicit real people with real legal problems to play the potential clients, which means 97% single moms who haven't received the child support they're entitled to, and 3% abusive spouses/boyfriends who have been slapped with temporary restraining orders who would like you to get them out of a permanent injunction - oh, and 100% cannot afford to actually pay you). If anyone still wants to practice law after taking one of those courses, they deserve whatever debt they've got coming.

  7. I actually like that proposal a lot. There's nothing that's done in, say, Contracts I that can't be taught to juniors in college. Make prospective law students take a class like that and it would actually be a much better gauge of the law school experience.

    Better yet: have a combined BS/JD program where you can do 2.5 ears of undergrad and 2.5 years of law and get both in 5 years. Half of them would probably drop the JD after sampling the nearly-useless drudgery of Contracts, Property, Civ Pro, Evidence, etc.

  8. Here's the problem, you're looking for a solution in a system that cannot self correct.

    Colleges already have pre-law programs and degrees. Many universities are now shifting to a dual JD program so that you're "that much more marketable & skilled" so you can supplement your in "international law" focused JD with a polisci or international development degree. It's just a marketing ploy to justify the higher price.

    As long as they participate at all in the academy, it's still a bullshit way to funnel warm bodies through the sausage grinder to make money.

    I think the best way to correct is to move back to the apprenticeship model and away from caselaw and universities. Make the legal practice the way it was for the vast majority of its existence, working on shit cases as an underling for years until the old bastard croaks or you learn enough or get sick enough that you strike out on your own.

    If someone wants to actually practice law after being a paralegal for 2-3 or 3-5 years, which is the amount of time that everyone seems to want for experience to get hired for a first job, then god bless them. I sure as hell wouldn't have gone to law school if I had been a paralegal or clerk for a year.

    Unfortunately, most of the former paralegals at my school also turned out to be the worst "attorneys." As people they were the most bitter, indebted and overall wastes of air in the whole sad circle of Dante's inferno...but that's probably anecdotal.

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