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Author Topic: another article I found interesting-Law Grads Are Angry  (Read 2174 times)

smartandunique

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another article I found interesting-Law Grads Are Angry
« on: October 06, 2010, 11:18:45 AM »
They say that law schools and banks are running a scam. “Dishonest” law schools report misleading employment data, which lures prospective students into the profession like “hapless lemmings” to their death. The “greedy” banks happily give the students oppressive loans to pay for the exorbitant tuition fees. And then the students graduate to discover that the high-paying salaries and jobs are just not there.

“It’s really just a ponzi scheme,” Scott Bullock told the New Jersey Star-Ledger in August. “They’re just cranking kids out for $45,000 a year.”

Bullock was, until recently, one of a dozen or more law school scam bloggers. The 2005 graduate of Seton Hall University School of Law stopped his blog soon after the Star-Ledger story revealed his identity, but not before thousands of readers visited his site.

And his was not the most popular. Shilling Me Softly, a blog by Kimber Russell, a 2008 graduate from DePaul University College of Law, has attracted almost 30,000 visitors in just over three months. Third Tier Reality is the most visited site to date, with more than 100,000 visitors since it launched more than a year ago.

“There are elements of fraud and misrepresentation,” said Fernando Rodriguez, who authors the blog. “The cost is the biggest thing that upsets us. If tuition was more reasonable, it would not be such a scam.”

Rodriguez, who graduated from Drake University Law School in 2008, said his goal, and the goal of most scam bloggers, is to warn prospective students of the dangers of an overpriced legal education. He says it is one of the only things disgruntled recent graduates can do to fight the problem.

While some have referred to these critics as a “deeply unhappy” minority, William Henderson, a law professor at Indiana University Mauer School of Law, said the anger and frustration is real.

“The new math of legal education is grim reading for the large number of today’s law students and new lawyers earning less than they need to meet their loan payments,” Henderson wrote in a recent article. “Prospective law students need better information about the legal marketplace. Law school brochures are filled with glossy pictures of alumni at large law firms. Many law schools fail to provide the complete picture of what their graduates do and how much they earn.”

Last year two Vanderbilt law students started an effort — Law School Transparency — to collect more accurate employment data from law schools. The students, Patrick Lynch and Kyle McEntee, unveiled their plans to schools this summer. In August, another recent graduate, Zenovia Evans, waged a nearly month-long hunger strike to support their cause. While her strike was ridiculed even by some of the scam bloggers, her action shows just how deep the anger and frustration has grown. 

The jury is out on whether Law School Transparency’s efforts will succeed. But most agree that it has added to an overall conversation among professors and deans on the matter.

In August, Brian Tamanaha, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis wrote a wake-up call to his peers (read it on page 6).

“Law professors know there is a problem,” Tamanaha said. “We see students. We know about the heavy debt burdens. I am just the guy who wrote about this one afternoon to prompt some collective conversation.”

The conversation may be making some progress. The American Bar Association accreditation committee has announced that as part of an overall review of its standards, it will look closely at employment data.

But the scam bloggers say the ABA is unlikely to make substantial change.

“If they really feel the pressure they may institute some change,” Rodriguez said. “But I don’t think it would be long term. More of a band-aid approach to make it look like there is real change when there is not."


smartandunique

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Re: another article I found interesting-Law Grads Are Angry
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2010, 12:11:30 PM »
Do bloggers, like the one's in the article, get paid to blog?

bigs5068

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Re: another article I found interesting-Law Grads Are Angry
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2010, 02:27:16 PM »
I think sometimes. I agree with most almost everything that said. Law school is to overpriced and the employment statistics should be better reported. If they are not crying about how unfair it is, but simply saying something needs to change I am all for it. They are not saying we demand a job, but rather it is to much money and the ABA, U.S. News, our school mislead us with employment statistics. I think it is ridiculous that they can claim someone is employed if they have an unpaid internship after graduation. I don't understand how the ABA and LSAC have not required a salary report for each of these students. Also where each person is working I think if you are paying a Law School 40,000 a year they could compile a list. I know it take some work, but if your going to charge 40,000 you should do something.

jack24

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Re: another article I found interesting-Law Grads Are Angry
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2010, 03:32:05 PM »
I don't think anything will change the behavior of these schools other than a diminishing supply.  The problems in our economy are more and more out in the open, yet more students took the LSAT and Bar exams than ever before.  What incentive do schools have to reduce tuition amounts when they can't hardly beat these applicants off with a stick?

Law school applicants are highly educated adults who are free to gather whatever information they want from current students and employers.  The true problem in law schools just might be a plague of overconfidence.   Assume a law school publishes flawed information like "88% employment at graduation" when the real statistic is "50% employed at legal jobs at graduation, 25% employed at decent paying jobs, and 13% working for $10/hr."
Most applicants to law schools would still assume that they will be in that top half (or top quarter, or whatever).   Students either believe they will be an exceptional student, an exceptional job-hunter, or have some other exceptional characteristic that will appeal to employers. 

I believe undergraduate institutions should do more to educate all the lost seniors about career paths that may be more appealing than law.  The statement "you could always go to law school" should never be uttered.  It should be replaced with "you should go to law school if ________."

In all honesty, I'm happy I came to law school even though it was not as good of a financial choice as I thought it would be.   I dread going to classes and I have almost no interest in most subjects.  But I found that I love criminal and financial law.   I've found a niche that makes me happy, and that's worth a lot.   That being said, there's a good chance that I would have made more money in my old career.

I just hope prospective students know that they will likely make less money than they assumed, and their class rank will almost certainly be lower than they expect.  (Of course there are many exceptions, but they are exceptions)



bigs5068

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Re: another article I found interesting-Law Grads Are Angry
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2010, 08:22:40 PM »
Yea I think you are right most students go in overconfident. They might realize well 50% of the graduates might not end up with jobs, but that won't happen to me I am special. Most students at my school anyways all thought they would be in the top 10% across the board. I honestly just wanted to pass first year, because I was so scared of all the false attrition rumors that are out there. I also think your right that the statement you should always go to law school should never be uttered. Spending 100,000 and 3 years of your life to get something that may or may not work out should not be your backup plan. You are again right that students know the risks inherent when they go to school and if they don't well they are college educated individuals and you should know. I think what happens is they know the risks think they won't be in the bottom 50% of the class or without a job, but when the confidence in themselves turns out to be false they blame their school and take no accountability for themselves. That results in all of those B.S. blogs out there.

observationalist

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Re: another article I found interesting-Law Grads Are Angry
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2010, 04:39:06 PM »
Thanks for posting the article.  I haven't been on here for awhile (is the search feature still busted?) but I saw this on the front page and wanted to recommend people check out the known salary charts we put up on the website last month (here http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/clearinghouse/ )

If you look at a few schools you'll see that there is enormous variety in the number of graduates that are represented in a school's published salary information.  Look at a few of the charts and then check out the websites of the same schools to see how they portray the same information.  Many schools fail to report enough salaries to even permit an educated guess as to what the median salaries might be for a class, and yet the medians and the percent employed in the private sector are typically the only statistics advertised by admissions officers.  We think the charts highlight some of the major problems with the current reporting standards.

One big problem they don't address is what type of jobs people are obtaining.  Within the private sector, no distinction is made between associates, contract attorneys, paralegals, or secretaries.  I think very few law school applicants realize that a school's private sector percentage might actually include non-attorneys, even the people who have done their homework.  Even when you factor in optimism bias, the reporting rates are extremely low for a lot of schools.  One thing we hope the ABA 509 subcommittee will consider is setting forth some minimum reporting requirement before a school can advertise a median salary.  If a school is only collecting salary information on 16% of the class, it seems odd that they can hide that fact while still advertising a median salary of six figures.

We'll be providing some updates soon with our next steps, but anyways I'm glad someone found that article.  An interesting op-ed that followed the original article in the Star-Ledger (http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2010/08/irate_law_school_grads_say_the.html), written by the Dean of Rutgers-Newark, sheds some light on the hurdles we have ahead of us: http://blog.nj.com/njv_guest_blog/2010/08/the_real_value_of_a_legal_educ.html .  If you look at our Data Clearinghouse, you'll notice that Rutgers-Newark collects starting salaries for fewer than half the graduating class.

Looking forward to seeing some more discussion on this. -obs
Vanderbilt University Law School Class of '10

nealric

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Re: another article I found interesting-Law Grads Are Angry
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2010, 05:04:24 PM »
Quote
Thanks for posting the article.  I haven't been on here for awhile (is the search feature still busted?) but I saw this on the front page and wanted to recommend people check out the known salary charts we put up on the website last month (here http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/clearinghouse/ )

If you look at a few schools you'll see that there is enormous variety in the number of graduates that are represented in a school's published salary information.  Look at a few of the charts and then check out the websites of the same schools to see how they portray the same information.  Many schools fail to report enough salaries to even permit an educated guess as to what the median salaries might be for a class, and yet the medians and the percent employed in the private sector are typically the only statistics advertised by admissions officers.  We think the charts highlight some of the major problems with the current reporting standards.

One big problem they don't address is what type of jobs people are obtaining.  Within the private sector, no distinction is made between associates, contract attorneys, paralegals, or secretaries.  I think very few law school applicants realize that a school's private sector percentage might actually include non-attorneys, even the people who have done their homework.  Even when you factor in optimism bias, the reporting rates are extremely low for a lot of schools.  One thing we hope the ABA 509 subcommittee will consider is setting forth some minimum reporting requirement before a school can advertise a median salary.  If a school is only collecting salary information on 16% of the class, it seems odd that they can hide that fact while still advertising a median salary of six figures.

We'll be providing some updates soon with our next steps, but anyways I'm glad someone found that article.  An interesting op-ed that followed the original article in the Star-Ledger (http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2010/08/irate_law_school_grads_say_the.html), written by the Dean of Rutgers-Newark, sheds some light on the hurdles we have ahead of us: http://blog.nj.com/njv_guest_blog/2010/08/the_real_value_of_a_legal_educ.html .  If you look at our Data Clearinghouse, you'll notice that Rutgers-Newark collects starting salaries for fewer than half the graduating class.

Looking forward to seeing some more discussion on this. -obs

Suggestion: What about doing LSN type reporting where alums can report their salaries and employment types to YOU? I don't think you are ever going to get thorough data from the schools themselves. You might get some BS from self reporting, but I can't imagine the data would be worse that what prospective students have now.
Georgetown Law Graduate

Chief justice Earl Warren wasn't a stripper!
Now who's being naive?

bigs5068

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Re: another article I found interesting-Law Grads Are Angry
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2010, 10:31:53 PM »
That is an awesome website and an awesome idea by Nearlic. My schools numbers can be seen on there and you can see how manipulated it is. Sure the median salary is 80,000. However, 70% of the student body who is EMPLOYED did not report any salary information. So the top 30% of the class is probably making 80,000, but the bottom 70% nobody knows. I imagine it is not anywhere near 80,000. Even a very reputable school like Boston University has a median salary of 160,000 dollars, but nearly 40% of the class is not reported. So from tier 4 to tier 1 they are just ignoring half the class and that is ludicrous.

On top of that if I remember my 7th grade math properly you would be much more interested in the mean opposed to the median salary. Correct me if I am wrong, but MEDIAN would be like this if 7 salaries were reported as 25,000, 30,000, 35,000, 90,000, 100,000, 100,000 150,000, . The median salary would be 90,000. while the mean would be around 60,000. Reporting a median makes a school look a lot better if they can say 90,000 instead of averaging in people with very low salaries.

Again I enjoy my school and up to this point everything is working out for me personally, but I think it is only fair to portray more accurate information than the schools do.

observationalist

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Re: another article I found interesting-Law Grads Are Angry
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2010, 10:13:14 AM »
Thanks for the suggestions. Nealric, we've discussed opening up a self-reporting method but ultimately decided that it was better to get the data already being collected by the schools, and use public participation as a way of auditing the information schools submit.  Accuracy and truthful reporting would be extremely difficult to verify, and at least when it comes from the schools there's an aspect of accountability in how they report.  We also think schools would find it hypocritical if an organization that aims for honest reporting is willing to accept information from unverified sources.  It also duplicates the work schools already do in the way of data collection; of the nine components in the LST standard, career services offices already collect 7 of them for each graduate in answering the NALP/USNews surveys.  One of the other two components, journal membership, is typically already available publicly; we're just asking the schools to match that up with job outcomes.

That said, many graduates have written to LST to reveal information about the job they had after graduation, the school they attended, and how they think the school listed them.  Not surprisingly, the people who choose to contact us are upset about how their employment outcome was portrayed.  We can probably verify a number of those data points for use in cooperating with the schools, particularly those who don't currently see a problem with the reporting standard.  It might therefore be really helpful to solicit more information from recent graduates, though I doubt we would ever be able to pull up more than anecodtal reports.  Even a few of those, however, could be potentially damaging to a law school's reputation if they were verified.
Vanderbilt University Law School Class of '10

bigs5068

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Re: another article I found interesting-Law Grads Are Angry
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2010, 12:13:51 PM »

That said, many graduates have written to LST to reveal information about the job they had after graduation, the school they attended, and how they think the school listed them.  Not surprisingly, the people who choose to contact us are upset about how their employment outcome was portrayed. 

How did the schools misreport the student's information? I am very skeptical of how any school reports their student's salaries since they are far from impartial reporters. I think your website is great by the way. I love to see some type of effort to verify the numbers that U.S. News, the ABA, and the schools pump out.