Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Indiana Tech Law School, my favorite moribund – no, dead on arrival – law school, recently announced a $25,000 gift from a local law firm to endow a scholarship for the student who finishes the 2L year ranked first in the class.  I’ll put aside for now the issue of whether this school will have any rising 3Ls to take advantage of this scholarship in 2015, because this scholarship brings up a rather more pressing problem.  Jobs.

The firm donating the $25,000 to ITLS is Shambaugh, Kast, Beck and Williams, LLP, a local outfit in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Looking at its website, SKBW seems fairly typical of a mid-sized law firm; about twelve lawyers (so perhaps on the smaller side of midlaw), regional market, the usual local litigation and transactional practices etc.  This is probably a good target firm for successful grads of respectable law schools.  The firm might hire one associate per year depending on its needs, but most cities have a few firms like this.  And students at Indiana Tech Law School may well be rubbing their hands with glee: “Look, this firm is backing our school, so there will be jobs for us after all.”

But let’s take a look at the composition of the attorneys in the firm to examine why this firm will never, ever hire from ITLS.  It’s all about connections.

Let’s start with the obvious – family connections.  It’s commonly accepted that one of the only ways a graduate of a lower-ranked law school can get a foot in the door of a law firm is to have a family member who is high up in the firm’s management.  Looking at SKBW’s current lineup of lawyers, there’s one Steve Williams, a name partner.  Importantly, his last name is shared by two of the more junior lawyers (I’m assuming they are his sons), Benjamin and Nathan Williams.  While I’m not going to speculate about their abilities as lawyers, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that the fact that their father is a name partner at the firm had something to do with why they were hired.  A quarter of the entire firm is essentially a family business, and it's also not unreasonable to assume that should any children of any of the other lawyers at SKBW be looking for legal employment, SKBW will be very receptive to hiring them.

And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It’s just how the game is played.  Father develops a strong legal practice, wants to pass that on to his kids.  Nothing wrong with that.  Nepotism isn’t always bad.  If I built up a business or a strong client base, I too would want to be able to pass that on to my children.  What’s bad is that law school applicants often don’t see that this is how the game is played.  They think that if they do well in law school, if they graduate near the top of the class, then they’ll shine in the hiring process because of their superior performance.  After all, doesn’t the firm want the best lawyer for the job?  Er, no.  The firm wants the new lawyer who has family connections, regardless of ability.

Looking again at the composition of SKBW, we also see that the overwhelming majority of the lawyers there attended Indiana University for law school.  This is another type of connection – education.  At the midlaw firm I once worked at, many of the lawyers attended the same niche college for undergrad.  Applicants who graduated from that same college were a step ahead in the hiring process.  Alumni connections can be very strong.

Nobody at SKBW attended Indiana Tech Law School, and this illustrates why attending ITLS is an extremely risky proposition: there is no existing alumni network to rely upon, anywhere.  There are no grads from ITLS working as lawyers, managing law firms, or in any other positions to help ITLS students get their foot in the door.  How on earth are they going to get their resumes in front of the people who matter at law firms, corporate legal offices, or government departments?  Those kinds of alumni networks take decades to build.

How should this influence law school applicants?  Well, if you’re applying for entry later in 2014, take a look at your background.  Got any lawyers – any powerful lawyers – in the family tree?  If so, great – you probably already know that you have a job lined up for you when you graduate.  If not, take a look at where you’re thinking of attending law school.  Are you planning on attending a school out of state, then moving back once you graduate?  If so, your chances of finding a job are greatly diminished because you won’t have the local connections that might get your foot in the door.

Take a look at some small and medium-sized law firms in your own region.  The connections will look remarkably similar - family, education, or connections which aren't immediately apparent (e.g. relative is a major client of the firm).  You need far more than the magic top 10% grades to get a job.

Don’t think for one second that law school is a level playing field where everyone starts at the same point.  Not even close.  It’s stacked.  If you don’t have connections going into law school, you’re already well behind and you’ll most likely never catch up.  Your performance in law school will never outweigh connections.  The kid who graduates in the bottom 10% of the class will be hired through preexisting connections long before your “top 10% and law review” resume gets crumpled up by the hiring partner.

Which brings me to my second point: networking.  The charlatans who inhabit the average law school career services office love to tell students to network.  Network, network, network - how I wish I could get paid a law school administrator salary for spending a couple of hours a week telling kids that they need to network.  That’s how jobs are found.  In a sense, they’re absolutely correct – jobs are found through networking.  But it’s more complicated than that.  Jobs are found through networks that already exist prior to attending law school.  Family networks, like having parents or aunts and uncles employed by a law firm.  Having a family member who is a major client of a law firm.  Attending the same undergrad as the lawyers in the firm.  Those are the kinds of connections that matter, not the feeble connections made by awkwardly sipping a glass of wine while talking to a senile old judge with a pee stain on his trousers at a law school event, and not the connections made by setting up “informational interviews” (a/k/a "begging for a job") with lawyers who really don't want to talk to you.

You should know, going into law school, what your connections look like.  If you’ve got them, by all means attend law school (abiding by the usual rules – don’t pay full price ever, don’t attend lower-tier law schools, never attend an unaccredited law school etc.)  But if you’re applying to law school now and you can’t think of the connections that will get you your first job, then think long and hard about whether you should attend at all.  Because even if you’re in the top 10%, you don’t stand a chance against the dumbest student at the school who happens to have connections.  You’ve lost the game before the dice have even been rolled.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

David Mainiero: Moving On Up

You may remember that we discussed the scamming ways of Harvard 2L David Mainiero last October. Mr. Mainiero has now taken his show to Above the Law, where he is on ATL's team of "expert contributors". I expected better of you, Above the Law.

Friday, April 25, 2014

More news on student loan forgiveness, courtesy of the WSJ

The New America report has been making waves, as news outlets such as Wall Street Journal report on the issue and expand on it.  Note that the WSJ article is behind a pay wall.

I missed something in my original post of the New America report that WSJ has picked up: that enrollment in income based repayment programs have grown by about 40 percent in the past six months.  According to the U.S. Education Department, via the WSJ, there are "at least 1.3 million Americans owing around $72 billion."

The WSJ also reports that the fastest growing program is "Pay As You Earn" (PAYE).  If you have trouble keeping the different student forgiveness programs straight, PAYE has you pay 10% of your "discretionary income" (which the WSJ defines as "annual income above 150% of the poverty line") in monthly installments until you have the debt forgiven.  "Public interest" jobs get your loans forgiven after making ten years of payments, while private-sector jobs take twenty years of payments.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Florida Coastal kicked out Dean candidate who voiced concern about lowered admissions standards and bar passage rates

You can't make this up.  There were six 0D's (prospective Deans) at the Florida Coastal $chool of Law.

The on-campus process involved dinner with the President of the school, and then a meeting with the staff and faculty during a series of small groups sessions the following day. Each candidate was to give a presentation on the candidate’s vision for the school to the full faculty at lunch the day of the interview.


The disturbing part of the report involves a candidate who raised concerns about the school’s declining student credentials and bar pass rates. That candidate was asked to leave in the middle of the lunch presentation. The candidate resisted, but was told that security would be called to remove the candidate from campus. This all happened in the view of about 40 faculty and staff present at this presentation, which was being recorded so others who were teaching class could see it later.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

News Roundup: Law schools going online to pursue new profiteering opportunities

Why a legal education is worth it
Money Quote: “Law schools are criticized for teaching too much theory and not enough practice, for being too expensive, for churning out too many graduates into an already-saturated legal market.”

Hamline offers online law school, for nonlawyers
Money Quote: “You hear all the time the market for lawyers is shrinking,” said James Coben, a Hamline law professor who’s directing the new master’s program. But there’s a growing recognition, he said, that many people need more than a passing knowledge of the law to do their jobs well.”

William Mitchell Law School Offers Hybrid JD Program
Money Quote: “According to the school’s website, annual tuition for the hybrid program will be approximately $27,000, which is comparable to the law school’s part-time tuition. Typical full-time tuition runs about $38,000.”

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Former LawProf at Charlotte SOL Speaks Out

It's getting ugly, folks.

There are plenty of examples of disingenuous, tone-deaf ScamDeans and LawProfs out there. Scamblogs have highlighted them for some time now, and the examples keep rolling in. As the law school brand continues to crumble, more and more members of the establishment are increasingly concerned about their standing and their futures. Outside of a handful of outspoken LawProfs who actively advocate for students and for change within the law school cartel, it would be easy to assume that most LawProfs just simply Don't Care and are too busy cashing their paychecks while the majority of their students are consigned to the Doc Review gulag. Students who are bearing a mountain of non-dischargeable debt levels heretofore unseen, even when adjusting for inflation.

However, at the same time we believe that there are those LawProfs who actually do care, but are afraid to speak out due to the very same social and economic pressures that keep many scambloggers anonymous. Case in point: one recent correspondent, a LawProf (!), gave us the inside scoop of one of our favorite targets, the Infilaw Consortium of Schools - specifically Charlotte School of Law:


"It is appalling that CSL's enrollment has soared to at least 1,140 full-time students, despite the school's sub-par bar pass rate and poor law-degree-required placement rate. The tuition is over $42k per year, despite CSL's abysmal reputation and horrid outcomes. Many CSL faculty fear a Florida Coastal type purge of even supposedly tenured professors when the enrollment bubble bursts, as surely it must.

CSL has also had tremendous problems with its dean, president, and numerous associate- and assistant-dean positions. Aborted dean searches, failure to abide by ABA standards of faculty governance, failure to encourage or even tolerate scholarly productivity by professors...the list goes on and on.

[...] I taught full-time at CSL for a few years, and I deeply regret it."


Appalling? Sub-par? Poor placement? Deep regret? From someone else other than a Campos or Tamanaha? This is a sea-change, folks. Long have the scamblogs been accused of not knowing anything, being blind to the so-called truth, and being meanie party-poopers. One would think with all the "million dollar law degrees" out there, and the likes of Professor Illig gracing their students with their presence, there could be no possible discord whatsoever. But here it is.


"The problems...began with the mid-academic-year removal of founding dean Eugene Clark and his replacement with InfiLaw insider and never-publishing Law Librarian Dennis Stone...all without any faculty involvement or faculty governance vote whatsoever.

Then the InflLaw people aborted the so-called dean search when their boy Dennis Stone failed to make the first cut. It became clear that they would make him permanent dean as long as he was among the several candidates approved by the dean search committee, and when he didn't make that cut, they scrapped the whole process. For a long time he stayed on as a permanent "interim" dean and then became "President" when InfiLaw insider Denise Spriggs became the nominal dean.

The enormous expansion of Charlotte School of Law enrollment was presented to the faculty a few years ago as a done deal, with no opportunity for faculty governance. No dissent was tolerated. This has only worsened since my departure, with the school becoming one of the very largest at a time when almost all other law schools are accepting smaller classes and trying to hold the line on standards."


What? All is not spectacular student outcomes and champagne dinners at CSL? Say it ain't so. The websites and glossy brochures all seem so...positive.


"There are numerous other issues. Among them:

People being hired as assistant dean who never would qualify even for an entry level faculty position at any decent law school.

Active discouragement of scholarly research and publication by the faculty, to the extent that at least 7 of the most productive and scholarly professors have left, including for other new schools like Elon.

Forcing the faculty to approve the hiring of an unqualified InfiLaw insider as a professor.

Forcing the Promotion and Tenure Committee to approve tenure for a former dean who has never published a single word during her entire career.

Concealing bait-and-switch tactics involving "scholarships" contingent on maintaining a GPA that the law school's mandatory grading policies make very difficult to achieve.

Claiming, in numerous public places, to be "Student Centered" while aggressively pursuing ever-higher enrollments of poorly qualified applicants, knowing that many will not graduate, or will not pass the bar, or will never find work as a lawyer.

Among the most respected, well-qualified, and actively publishing professors who have fled Charlotte School of Law during just the past few years are Eugene Clark, James Bolin, John Kunich, David Levine, Katharine Van Tassel, David Batty, and others. The entire IT Department and most of the Law Library have left as well."


Wait, who are the scambloggers, again?  I thought they were all lazy, entitled, disaffected graduates who allegedly couldn't hack it in the "real world."  Apparently, some new Law Professors are joining the ranks in calling out the scam that law school has become - at least at some institutions. 

In any event, it appears some Boomer Equity Shareholders aren't getting their guaranteed profits over there at Sterling Partners, so the thumbscrews have been tightened. Coffee is for closers, you know. Time to get more lemmings into seats! Damn the LSAT scores, full speed ahead! Don't these stupid kids know that now is a great time to be going to law school? What the hell is wrong with them!!!?!?!?!?!?!111eleven111!!

I can't say that the scamblog community is exactly shedding a tear for Infilaw, or for several so-called "non-profit" law schools around the country for that matter. Neither are we wringing our hands for those who continue to perpetrate the scam on the next set of 0Ls in the pipe line, so they can enjoy six-figure salaries, sabbaticals, tenure, and freedom of "research" among other pursuits.

But for the LawProfs like our correspondent who "got out" of a bad situation and are willing to tell the truth, we do salute you. There are those who do share some common-cause with the scamblogs, and we alike shake our heads at the burning of Rome. It's didn't have to be this way, but it came just the same.

To the vast majority of those considering law school: THIS is your law school administration. THIS is the environment you will be walking into. THESE are the people who will be "advising" you, taking your money and throwing your carcass out into the street, all in the name of "defending liberty," "pursuing justice," and saving the dolphins. That will be $200k, thanks. Best of luck at OCI. "Network."

Friends, run for your lives. NOW. Don't take OTLSS' word for it, take a concerned LawProf's. And if you meet one someday, after all the dust settles, thank them for their honesty.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Erwin Chemerinsky, the "constitutional scholar" who recently argued a First Amendment case before the Supreme Court -- well, he tried to turn a non-First Amendment matter into one without success -- has been give access to a prominently placed long column in the New York Times.  He is pleading, groveling, for your money.  Without any evidence whatsoever, he tries to counterattack many of the suggestions for reform, including Obama's suggestion of killing the third year of law school (which Chemerinsky thinks should be devoted to even more "interdisciplinary" classes).

UC Irvine's law school must be doing poorly indeed if he is resorting to this level of shilling.  Read all about it:

Update: Campos attacks this column on LGM.

Update 2:  During the short period of open comments after this op-ed, the majority of people left negative remarks, discussed the fake employment statistics that the authors cited without a source, and drew attention to the financially self-serving shilling of the authors (and significant others).  It is refreshing to see the tide continue to turn.  The more we make our voices heard, the lower those application numbers will drop.

Update 3: Fun day today!  Oregon Law Professor Robert Illig complains about the consipracy to use his raise for hiring recent graduates to game the USNWR rankings -- not because it is unethical but because it deprives him of money!

AND the good lawprof is reading and answering some comments here if you'd like to give him a piece of your mind...since he seems to have no clue:

Get Yer LLMs While They're Hot!

Believe it or not, I'm really not trying to pick on anybody in particular. But "I get mail," and when I do it's hard not to respond to it.

We've discussed the not-so-value of LLMs and LLM look-a-likes before. In theory, they could provide some additional training and insight into a heretofore-unexamined area of law. Practically, the marketplace does not respond favorably to those who incurred the expense of yet-another degree, unless the student had their success in-tow prior to enrollment. And, of course, these LLMs ain't free, you know.

However, this does not prevent the powers-that-be from trying to convince desperate, once-bitten, twice-shy law graduates from regressing back to lemming-dom and accepting the logical leap between "if you buy X from us, then you will receive Y from the universe at-large" mode of thinking, as seen below:

Sounds like prosperity theology to me, with a hunk of "Act Now! Supplies are going fast!" thrown in. Come, lay your additional sacrifice of time and treasure at this altar, which didn't work too well before, of course, but hey, who's keeping score anyway? Get prepared for "practice-ready", "advantaged", "marketability" with improved "earnings" and "promotions." There are eight, count 'em, eight different LLMs! It's a veritable Baskin-Robbins of legal-flavored goodness! Do them online, in the comfort and convenience of your own home! CBA members get 20% off, doncha know.  Heck, other loser law schools only offer three or four LLMs...we've got eight!  The most in Chicago!

Just be sure to thank JMLS with a sizable donation check when that Estate Planning LLM rockets you into the stratosphere of legal success. I suspect, though, that YMMV. I don't know of that many Boomers with "estates" that need serious planning in this economic environment, let alone Gen-Xers, but who cares!?! I don't run in the "right" circles, clearly. As the right circles tend to be the domain of the LawProf, maybe that explains the difference in perspective.

Friends, the facade is cracking. It just isn't about what people say it's about, and that is both frustrating and fear-inducing to the law schools. They have always been dependent on a fresh supply of students, but that low-hanging fruit has already been picked. The Truffula Trees have all been chopped down, to use a classic Dr. Seuss reference, and now the Once-lers are all scratching their heads wondering what to do next. Clearly, planting new trees was out of the question. Now, almost nobody wants a new Thneed, nor could they afford one at the asking price, or the "discounted" price. It's done.

Zerohedge says it best, as this has more to do than just with LLMs and Law School:

In this economic environment, it doesn't matter how smart, how educated or how experienced you are. If you are out of work, it can be extremely difficult to find a new job. Just consider the case of Abe Gorelick...

Abe Gorelick has decades of marketing experience, an extensive contact list, an Ivy League undergraduate degree, a master’s in business from the University of Chicago, ideas about how to reach consumers young and old, experience working with businesses from start-ups to huge financial firms and an upbeat, effervescent way about him. What he does not have — and has not had for the last year — is a full-time job.
Five years since the recession ended, it is a story still shared by millions. Mr. Gorelick, 57, lost his position at a large marketing firm last March. As he searched, taking on freelance and consulting work, his family’s finances slowly frayed. He is now working three jobs, driving a cab and picking up shifts at Lord & Taylor and Whole Foods.

So what does Abe need in order to find a decent job?

More education?
More experience?
No, what he needs is an economy that produces good jobs.


Clearly, people like Gorelick just need to "work harder" and "network." 

0Ls, non-trads, please: turn back before its too late. There are no easy solutions, but there are some easy answers: avoid law school.

Monday, April 14, 2014

News Roundup: Buffalo and UNC Having Issues

Buffalo Law School Offers Faculty Buyouts
Money Quote: “The school had 1,149 applicants this year, a 50 percent decline from the 2,304 applications it received in 2008—the most dramatic drop in the state during that period, according to the American Bar Association.”

'After the J.D.' Study Offers Weak Evidence of J.D.'s Value
Money Quote: “The not-so-good news is that as of 2012, only a minority of respondents were still in private practice, and roughly one in four had left the practice of law entirely (by contrast, most respondents were in private practice in 2003).”

UNC’s law school receives fewer applications
Money Quote: “Michael States, assistant dean for admissions of the UNC School of Law, said the decrease in exclusivity is mainly due to a declining number of applicants.”

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Solo Path (Update)

Some of our readers may have noticed the absence of myself and Dybbuk (albeit for very different reasons).  Until our most prolific author returns, I am trying to find the time during the evenings to start posting regularly again.  I do not promise quality writing, but hopefully you find my plight entertaining.

The amount of time that I work leaves me with little free time for writing full-length posts about carefully considered topics.  I just finished the first year of taxes where I actually made enough money to pay $4k to the state and feds.  The amount of time and energy devoted to basic survival is another aspect of the law school scam—the marginally employed recent graduates have the least amount of time and resources to fight the law school propaganda machine because they must expend all energy to tread water.

I am a good example of this bind.  I enjoy the 35% of my 60-70 hour weeks that I spend on actual lawyering, but the rest is hard as hell.  “The rest” is the stuff that I have to do before I get to the lawyering.  Most of it involves promoting myself, performing well, and getting more clients.  Yet, I started taking cases as a solo practitioner not for the purpose of running a makeshift practice from a bedroom for years and years and not for the purpose of constantly commuting 3 hours a day between six courthouses and/or chasing down clients for money.  Instead, I took solo cases to gain a high degree of specific short-term experience for possible jobs.  (Note to others: starting a solo practice is not a good way to get short-term experience).

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

News Roundup: Robot Lawyers, Merit Scholarships and Law School Rankings

Here come the robot lawyers
Money Quote: “But lots of legal work is already being computerized by some firms, including the drafting of simple contracts and the search for evidence in reams of documents.”

Comparing Law School Rankings? Read The Fine Print
Money Quote: “But the US News rankings don’t consider who employs the graduates, so long as they’re employed in a professional position. Some schools have been , and rising in the rankings.”

The Ethics Of Law School Merit Scholarships
Money Quote: “The upshot of all this is that, at most law schools, price discrimination results in poorer, less well-educated students “subsidizing” (paying higher tuition than) richer, better-educated students. “

Monday, April 7, 2014

A report from New America sheds light on graduate school debt

The drumbeat of criticism of the federal government's policy on the financing of college and graduate school education hit a new pitch with the release of the excellent report from New America.  New America identifies itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy institute, and is funded by grants from various organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. 

The conclusion that New America's makes is that the debt crisis in America's graduate education should be separated from problems stemming from America's undergraduate education, even though many media accounts seemingly equate them.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the report is the figures themselves.  When law schools report debt figures to US News and World Report, they report the total amount of debt that a student has accrued while in law school, sans interest.  However, the debt levels that New America reports on include the total debt that a graduate has at the point they completed their degree.  In other words, a law graduate's undergraduate debt, law school debt, and interest on the two would count.

Friday, April 4, 2014

No More Making Fun of International Space Law

So there I was, bored last Sunday morning, looking for something to write about.  I pulled up Google and tried the usual search terms.  A personal favorite of mine, "Indiana Tech Law School," turned up nothing again - they're keeping a rather low profile recently - so I turned my attention to space law, an oft-cited exciting new area of law that is exploding with opportunities for law grads.  Could space law be the new international law, the hot practice area of the 2000s which failed to materialize?

And I found not just space law, but international space law.

Yup, I stumbled upon the website for the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs, an organization that has pages devoted to international space law.  So no more teasing people who want to get into this hot area of practice.  It's legit.  International space law.  Who'd have thought it even possible?

And then there's organizations such as the International Institute of Space Law, which seems to be more concerned with padding the resumes of the space lawyers involved than with actually doing much space lawyering.

According to this article, space law is poised to become the savior of the entire legal profession:

America's struggling legal business, once a high-flying profession whose leaders could bill $1,000 per hour, may be turning the corner, thanks to developments both earthly and unearthly.
Reading on:

In addition, the industry is now preparing for the rise of increased demand for a new kind of legal service ... a demand that comes from outer space. 

Consider this: Commercial spaceflights may take off from the New Mexico desert next year with Virgin Galactic, and Planetary Resources is planning to mine near-Earth asteroids for minerals in less than 10 years. Which jurisdiction adjudicates a mishap in orbit? What if two satellites collide? Who pays the bill? And who exactly has an enforceable claim to minerals on an asteroid? Which parties bear responsibility if mining debris in orbit crashes into a satellite or falls to Earth and trashes a building or kills people?

The prospect of such disputes -- which are closer than many realize -- is fueling the creation of space law and programs that focus on space law.

Er, okay?  Then there's this article:

Ambulance chasing only gets you so far. Hitching a ride, metaphorically speaking, on rockets funded by private corporations seeking fortunes beyond Earth's atmosphere is where it's at for eager legal pioneers.

There are stellar opportunities for lawyers specializing in space exploration. Space law is quickly becoming an integral part of the evolving aerospace industry. These lawyers exist in a tightly knit industry that deals with all kinds of practical issues and some that seem cribbed from science fiction. Depending on whether the space lawyer is in private practice or academia, he or she could handle anything from liability laws pertaining to litigious space tourists to the legal framework surrounding human encounters with E.T.

...and so on and so forth.

So how can students get a foot in the door of this practice area?  Well, there's a handy little document published on the UNOOSA site which details the opportunities for education in this area of law.  They could study at places such as GWU, with its tuition of a mere $44,000.  Maybe that hotbed of advanced science and forward thinking, Mississippi, where the JD with a concentration in "Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law" (wow!) is a drop in the bucket at almost $21,000 per year.

Nebraska?  You can get a JSD in space law for a total tuition cost of $60,000.  And in Houston, the one semester program costs $17,000.  Houston, you have a problem!

So once you've spent your fifty or sixty grand (maybe twice that at some places when all is said and done) on your qualification in space law from a US university, five to ten times more expensive than comparable qualifications from overseas, let's take a look at some of the opportunities that await.

After much searching, just about the only thing about space law that I couldn't find were job openings for space lawyers.  Surely I must be mistaken?  Not trying hard enough perhaps?

Looking in Martindale for space lawyers, there are about 130 in the US.  The vast majority of these lawyers practiced space law in conjunction with many other areas of law - presumably ones that made money and allowed them the luxury of pretending to be space lawyers on the side.

"Wait," I hear the law schools cry.  "There's clearly a huge unmet need for space lawyers.  See how few of them there are?"

Don't fall into the trap.  There are only 130 space lawyers in the US because there's not enough work for more than 130 space lawyers.  I bet there's not enough work to support 13 full-time space lawyers, let alone 130, given the fact that most of them list many other practice areas in their bios.  (Note that there are many lawyers who work for space-related agencies and companies - NASA, Hughes, Intelsat, SpaceX, etc. - but they are not space lawyers; they are corporate lawyers, litigators, compliance attorneys, HR practitioners, the usual in-house types.  Working for a space-related company is not the same as being a space lawyer.)

To put this into perspective, other pie-in-the-sky vanity practice areas had the following hits in Martindale:

Entertainment - 7,464
Sports - 2,846
International - 16,952
Animal - 1,190
Restaurant - 405
Art - 325

And to put those figures into perspective, here's the Martindale numbers for some normal practice areas (all of which half of all law grads can't even get into):

Corporate - 106,972
Real estate - 113,733
Litigation - 243,788

For every space lawyer out there, there's an astronomical 1,000 real estate lawyers, and 2,000 litigators.  And 57 entertainment lawyers.

Attending law school with the goal of obtaining any law job is risky, given the fact that half of all law grads end up as unemployed lawyers.  Trying to narrow that down and obtain a job in a particular area of law is even riskier, whether it's litigation or corporate work, or some finer subcategory thereof.  But spending $50K on a higher law degree to obtain a job in a practice area that even art and animal lawyers consider to be a niche?  An area of law that is 1,000 times less common than real estate law, and 2,000 times less common than litigation?  Insanity.  Utter insanity, especially when considering the out-of-this-world cost of a US degree in space law.

As an interesting footnote to all of this, on my travels I did find one attorney listed on Martindale whose practice is like a law applicant's dream career.  Richard F. Martz, Jr., of Niceville, FL, manages to practice not only space law, but international law, arts and cultural heritage law, entertainment and music law, and sports law.  Clearly, a very, very busy man, probably very rich too with all those music stars and Oscar winners in his lobby each morning.  I can imagine being his secretary:

"Sorry, Mr. Joel, Richard is busy this morning with Tiger Woods.  And this afternoon he's booked up with Kevin Spacey and LeBron James.  Tomorrow?  Let me see...he can fit you in between Tony Blair and Bill Clinton at nine thirty, or at four in the afternoon right before Neil Armstrong.  Does that work?"

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

An Extraordinary Opportunity

A recent ad aimed at law school grads.  I have no comments, other than the ad being fairly representative of the (un)professional, aggressive, cutthroat and sales-driven atmosphere awaiting most law grads who set up solo practices or work for small firms.  I've removed the name of the lawyer and his firm:

Have you ever wanted to work in a successful firm where you're an integral part of a team of winning trial lawyers? Do you love the prospect of being a hero every day by helping real people with real cases? Are you looking for a job where you can earn more by producing better results? If you answered yes to all three of these questions, this job may be for you. We're a boutique firm with a busy trial practice and rapidly growing demand at our [removed] offices. We are seeking a top quality law school graduate eligible to work as a traffic defense (speeding, DUI, etc.) litigation attorney starting immediately. The position is one of the most important in the office, involving daily and direct contact with our clients, making them feel confident in our ability to protect them, calming their fears, and showing them excellence in the courtroom.

A strong desire to excel is a requirement for this job. You must be prepared to work harder and smarter than your competition before, during, and after trial. By following our case management and trial litigation system, you will be a champion for your clients on a daily basis. You don't even need any experience, as we will train you. However, positive energy in everything you do *is a must*, and it's also important that you're comfortable writing and speaking for a public audience and in trial. If trying cases to win and standing up to bullies in court scares you, this isn't the right fit. You must also be an independent worker. The last thing I want to do is micromanage your day, so if you need to be told what to do all the time, we're not for you. If you're a person who starts your day with a smile and ends it with a bigger smile, definitely consider applying for this position.

Here's the deal. I do not hire "associates" because that term has become synonymous with indentured servitude. I do help young lawyers start their own firms, I provide them with an office in my building including parking, staff support, furniture and equipment, telephone, internet and a computer, personal one-on-one training, and marketing resources which bring in a steady stream of clients. If you earn my trust through quality representation of your own clients, you may be allowed to serve in an "of counsel" role for cases that my firm brings in while building your own business. I will take you to court and show you how to try cases and win. I will guide you through the process enough times for you to feel confident, perform skillfully, and win trials. 

As such, this is not a traditional "job", there is no paycheck other than what you earn, and there are no benefits. I will help you set up your trust and operating accounts, but you will need to start with the cash to kick off your own marketing campaign ($1,000 minimum) and a malpractice policy. This year I brought two "of counsel" attorneys into my building and helped them set up their own firms. They are now ready to graduate. Both are in or have just completed their first year of solo practice, and neither had much experience. Last month, both of them grossed over $15,000. After expenses, I would estimate that they are making at least $60,000 to $75,000 per year (they pay and can claim deductions for their home offices, mileage, etc). They are their own bosses and make their own hours. I provide mentoring.

Don't take my word for it - take a look at the numbers, which are listed in the table straight from the trust account ledgers. (see [removed]) These are gross numbers -- the percentage that we retain for rent, staff support, etc will go from 25% to 33% to 40% as your revenues grow to annualized levels of $100,000, $150,000, and $200,000. As you can see, my first In-house Attorney Of Counsel earned well over $150,000 in her first 12 months of practice, and is on track to bring in nearly a quarter of a million in 2014. My second attorney posted equally impressive numbers, but both of them have learned what they can and must now leave the nest to make room for the next generation of superstars. I have no doubt that they will soar on their own, and continue to enjoy the benefits of membership in my marketing firm, [removed]).

To apply: e-mail us. Make sure you spell and write English correctly (any other languages in which you may be fluent, especially Spanish, will make you a great teammate). The subject line must read "I'm your new lawyer...". In your e-mail, tell me why you're the best fit to join our team. Let your personality shine through in this. Also, be sure to send your resume as an attachment, as well as any other attachments, links to your websites, pictures or videos that you think would be helpful. Of course, we will check you out on the internet, so if what we find is pictures of you looking or acting inappropriate, don't bother answering. No phone calls, e-mails only. My name is [removed], and you can find out more about me at [removed]. If you call my firm about this opportunity and waste my receptionist's valuable time, your resume will go directly in the trash and you will make the list of lawyers who can't follow instructions.

You should apply immediately if interested. While we will wait as long as it takes to get the right person, we are ready to fill this opportunity today. E-mail me your resume today, and get started with your successful career as a winning trial lawyer.

Still want to be a lawyer?  Remember, you just paid $150,000 for an education which might - if you're lucky! - qualify you for purgatory a job like this.  Anyone who is thinking of enrolling in law school beginning this coming fall should pay very close attention.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Scamblogs Come Clean

Well, it looks like the scamblogs were wrong.
And it's high time we admit it, frankly. After years and years of railing against the "law school cartel," we need to own up to our decisions and our circumstances. We chose to go to law school. We chose to react to the marketplace as we found it. We chose to complain about circumstances in hindsight, rather than "doing the hard work of working hard." The charade must come to an end, and it has been a long time coming. Time to face the music.
As Brian Leiter notes:
"When a lot of effort and money is invested in an endeavour, but one doesn't get the exact results that one wants, it is natural to blame others - at least for awhile. The Professoriate tried multiple times to engage with the scamblogs forthrightly and honestly, as we have no desire to see a schism develop between graduates and practitioners, one the one hand, and the academic ranks on the other. What is most important is the free exchange of information so that both sides are changed for the better. However, our overtures were rejected.

While we empathize with the plights of some graduates, the scamblogs and other detractors continued to sidestep the basic fact that outcomes are actually quite good, if not ideal, for the majority of graduates. Perhaps some will have to engage in a little delayed gratification, but there are certainly worse fates when everyone makes over $150,000 coming out of law school. But when people have already decided the outcome before coming to the debate, or choose to be ungrateful for the opportunities they have been afforded, little can be accomplished, unfortunately."

Stephen Diamond concurred, stating:
"As applications and LSAT scores continue to rise in the aggregate, law schools are forced to be more and more selective when granting law degrees. While this sounds like an ideal result, one would rather not have to turn people away at the door as it smacks of elitism. At the same time, we counsel students to take a long, hard look at law as a career and a calling, as well as the employment statistics, as we do not want to see disappointed, disaffected law graduates coming out of our institutions. Granted, the outcomes are generally very positive for the majority, but producing too many lawyers who don't want to be lawyers after the fact helps no one and injures society in the long run. The Scamblogs continue to refuse to face facts and thereby dissuade students for the wrong reasons."

Peter Alexander added:
"One 'mistake' that law schools made was lowering tuition in order to make law school more accessible, and Deans and Professors in turn took modest pay cuts and tightened their belts for a time as a show of solidarity. We are acutely aware and concerned about how student loans can affect someone in the long term, although that is more of an theoretical concern given demand for lawyers in the marketplace. However, prior actions generated an unanticipated externality in that demand for law school actually went up, and now many schools are facing the daunting prospect of whether to expand their programs and facilities. It's difficult to be in the position of dissuading people from doing the very thing you endorse, as we want to 'protect' the legal profession, not from diversity as some charge, but from saturation."

Well, there you have it.  Demand for lawyers is up, salaries are high, student loans are low, and the Law Schools actively try to limit the rate of lawyer production. The problem isn't "everyone else", it's YOU.
In other news, Happy April Fool's Day, everyone!  We'll see you next time - same place, same channel.