August 27, 2009

"It was almost written in stone that you’ll end up in a law firm, almost like a birthright."

"It" — law school — "was thought to be this green pasture of stability, a more comfortable life."

Thanks, New York Times. Thanks for depressing every law student in America. Fall semester is about to begin, and I wasn't going to talk about this major drag of an article, but it's charting as #1 on the NYT's most-emailed list.

Now, the sheer depressingness of the thing isn't what's annoying me most. It's that it relies absurdly heavily on quotes from one Derek Fanciullo, who "lost his job as a television reporter two years ago" and borrowed $210,000 to go to NYU School of Law. Why Fanciullo is the big source, you tell me. He was a reporter, and the article was — duh — written by a reporter. Maybe reporters believe reporters, but it looks kind of lazy to me. What is life like for a law student looking for work? Let's report the quotes of a reporter who went to law school.

Getting a job in a law firm was a sure thing? A birthright? Law was a green pasture of stability, a comfortable life? Of course, things have changed:
This fall, law students are competing for half as many openings at big firms as they were last year in what is shaping up to be the most wrenching job search season in over 50 years.
That's harsh. Terrible. It needs to be said. But let's not pretend that it was ever right to waltz into law school thinking if I pay up what they're asking, I get a lock on a great-paying job. Fanciullo is building his complaint on a shaky foundation.
With the cost of law school skyrocketing over the years, the implicit arrangement between students and the most expensive and prestigious schools has only strengthened: the student takes on hefty debt to pay tuition, and the school issues the golden ticket to a job at a high-paying firm — if that’s what the student wants.
See? The reporter is endorsing Fanciullo's fantasy that the student, by paying big tuition, got a deal, an "implicit arrangement." You mean a contract? This notion seems to implicitly cite this recently reported case, where a graduate sues her school because she didn't get a job.

The NYT article also quotes a Penn law student, Julia Figurelli saying: "Had I seen where the market was going, I would’ve gone to a lower-ranked but less expensive public school." Well, there's a ray of light for students at some schools, including mine (the University of Wisconsin). Here's a ranking of law schools according to value. Wisconsin with a #20 value ranking and a #35 U.S. News ranking is apparently one of the best choices. Georgia, Alabama, George Mason, and Iowa also look very good, along with plenty of others. State schools are especially good choices if you want to remain in that state — where, if it's Wisconsin, you will not have to take the bar exam...

... unless...

109 comments:

Smilin' Jack said...

Thanks for depressing every law student in America.

And me too. In fact, I can't find the words to express how sad the plight of wannabe lawyers makes me. I think I'll just go to my room and cry.

Widmerpool said...

This won't help, Derek.

http://www.facebook.com/people/Derek-Fanciullo/1654140356

traditionalguy said...

The ranking of Georgia State (in Atlanta) higher than UGA (in Athens) does not surprise me. The fact is that only the top 5% in a class have any reason to predict a quick job at a law firm that Levys Taxes in their billings because of connections to Money and Political Power. All the rest have to show an employer some reason to pick them, and of course come in at a time the Firm is hiring. Until the DC crowd decides to release the economy back to work again by Bank credit available again, then no business will be transacted that isnot directed thru political pork fantasy projects, and we will all remain surplus.

tim maguire said...

Law school admissions materials reinforce the notion that there is a direct correletion. They'll have all sorts of facts and figures at the ready to show how much you can expect to make upon graduation. Implicit? Absolutely. Contract? Pretty close.

Jack, it may please you to know that very few lawyers make the kind of money most people think most lawyers make. But law school admissions departments will never tell people that.

Prism Trading School said...

hey if you want to piss away $200k for a lld be my guest. just don't bitch and moan when there are two many lawyers for the number of jobs. supply and demand..remember?

Widmerpool said...

Ann,

I graduated from a highly regarded law school in the early 80's (before the first burst of law firm expansions in the Reagan/Drexel Burnham/LBO/Predator's Ball era). Expectations (and salaries) were a bit lower for all concerned. Even at the top-flight school I attended, the big money job at the highly-regarded firm (if that was your aim, of course) was by no means a certainty. And things got progressively tougher as you went down the reputation scale at the various law schools.

I have been in and out of big time law firms since then (am presently in a highly-regarded one). One thing I've noticed over the years is that the range of schools that these firms draw associates from has expanded significantly (as one would have predicted) over the years as firms have gotten bigger and bigger. After all, Harvard, Stanford, et all are still the same size, more or less, as 30 years ago. Unfortunately, this has lead students at those schools (and their placement offices) to imagine that this is a permanent state of affairs. Those of us with longer memories know otherwise. We're now in the contraction phase, I think, and some schools just aren't worth the dough, to be honest. For what it's worth, I have the same thoughts about college for my kids.

Synova said...

An expectation of entitlement just *might* impact employment prospects, you think?

I was starting college in the early-mid 80's and everything was still all... "you can't get a job."

It didn't matter what I expressed an interest in, someone would explain that I wouldn't be able to get a job.

It was a lie. I knew it was a lie. So they knew someone with a degree in architecture who couldn't find a job. That didn't mean that no-one was finding work as an architect. But it was depressing and discouraging to hear.

Young people, especially, don't have a lot of experience to counter those sorts of gloom-and-doom messages.

Balfegor said...

Thanks for depressing every law student in America. Fall semester is about to begin, and I wasn't going to talk about this major drag of an article, but it's charting as #1 on the NYT's most-emailed list.

I wonder if that's because lawyers are passing it around grimly and fearing for their jobs, or the laity are passing it around for a bit of schadenfreude in these dark times.

Big Mike said...

I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV (though after serving on several juries I think I'd have chewed up and spat out most of the real lawyers I've seen in action).

What I've read suggests that young associates do scut work (e.g., reading through truckloads of documents for sixty hours a week in hopes of finding the smoking gun buried in some sentence in some long-forgotten memo that will allow your client to win) for many years, with no guarantee of making junior partner, much less senior partner.

Even on a "death march" project my software developers don't work as hard and they at least are doing something creative.

Greg Hlatky said...

The only thing that could make me happier than an article like this is one on how hard it is for newly minted, highly indebted MBA's to land a position.

Dusty Fog said...

That will be the problem with Obamacare.

There will be a lot fewer ambulances to chase.

Dusty Fog said...

And if you catch one the government will own it.

And they pay for shit.

David said...

Just one more sign that the gravy train has gone off the tracks. But it's gotten back on track before and probably will again. It's going to take quite a bit longer this time though.

In the meantime the more resourceful of the new but unemployed law grads will find offbeat ways to get ahead, while the rest will wallow in resentment and regret and agitate for relief from their indebtedness.

BJM said...

Derek's not the brightest bulb in the chandelier is he?

He's out of work and borrows $210,000 on hearsay?

"It was thought to be this green pasture of stability, a more comfortable life,” said Mr. Fanciullo, who had heard that 90 percent of N.Y.U. law graduates land jobs at firms, and counted on that to repay his loans. “It was almost written in stone that you’ll end up in a law firm, almost like a birthright." [my bolding]

One begins to understand why journalism didn't work out for him either.

Cabbage said...

The frustrating thing for this unemployed recent law grad is the blinders many of my professors wore when looking at their own profession. Quite a few of them (and I do not direct this at Prof. Althouse, who I do not know) would be up in arms if another industry acted like this towards its consumers. They're really good at pretending like the horrific inefficiencies (3rd year, wtf is the point?) and outlandish tuition (compare tuition rates to inflation over the last 50 years) are in no way their fault.

As for my debt, JD, and no job? Well, I made my bed and I'll lie in it. I'd just like a little more honesty from the academy.

Dusty Fog said...

Pardner you are looking for honesty from lawyers?

What are you a moron.

Dusty Fog said...

Watching your law professor is where you learn to lie and cheat and steal.

Did you pay attention in class?

No wonder you can not get a job.

Dusty Fog said...

There are many profession which are much more honorable and do not require so much tuition.

Grave robber and truck stop whore spring to mind.

Shanna said...

"It was thought to be this green pasture of stability, a more comfortable life,” said Mr. Fanciullo, who had heard that 90 percent of N.Y.U. law graduates land jobs at firms, and counted on that to repay his loans. “It was almost written in stone that you’ll end up in a law firm, almost like a birthright." [my bolding]

One begins to understand why journalism didn't work out for him either.


I know, whenever I read something like that I still see notes from my high school english teacher regarding the usage of “passive voice”. Gah!

traditionalguy said...

Academia does sell the sizzle instead of the steak. But the value on an education is lifelong and is never a waste. The automatic high paid job for little work has always been a fantasy available only in Hollywood or from Daddy's company. I do feel sorry for every one that had no warning of the coming Crash and bought land and invested in companies and in their borrowed for educations that depended 100% upon future growth in the USA. They are in for a long hard winter of discontent. Someone alert Sarah Palin that she is looking smarter by the month.

MadisonMan said...

I think neither of the two students quoted in the article would be good lawyers. They're not in it for a good reason: they just want to get rich. Where is the passion for the law, or for helping right a wrong?

Dusty Fog said...

Oh cool. We have a thread jack and we are going to talk about science fiction.

save_the_rustbelt said...

There are too many lawyers, many of the bottom 80% are having trouble making a professional income, so we need to close a lot of law schools.

This will never happen of course.

AJ Lynch said...

Should colleges and universities be required to have each student sign a "truth in lending disclosure" agreement that basically says:

The student acknowledges there is no assurance nor guarantee of a job even after they pass all the BS [bullshit] non-core courses required to get a sheepskin?

wv = cology = what a college has to do after its grads can't find a job

Pogo said...

Wherein Derek Fanciullo, who "lost his job as a television reporter two years ago" and borrowed $210,000 to go to NYU School of Law, discovers the amazing truth that:

1. life is not fair.
2. most people lose when they gamble large sums of money.
3. greed is, by itself, insufficient to ensure wealth; or if wishes were horses....

Diamondhead said...

Madison man, maybe the best lawyers (at least in some areas of practice) are the ones who are passionate about making money? Derek just thought making a lot of money was his right by virtue of going to school for three years - and therefore doesn't sound smart enough to be a goodlawyer or savvy enough to make a lot of money.

traditionalguy said...

Dusty Fog...It sounds as if the only lawyers you have met were your ex-wife's. There are many good aspects to using the legal system that help many people find a measure of protection from arrogant bullies. Really, it's the truth.

John said...

"See? The reporter is endorsing Fanciullo's fantasy that the student, by paying big tuition, got a deal, an "implicit arrangement."

If the students at the top law schools like NYU are not paying for a gaurenteed good job, just what are they paying for? Why on earth would anyone go $200,000 in debt unless they had been assured that there was a good chance of landing a really high paying job.

And don't tell me for a moment that isn't exactly what these schools promise. All of them tote their emplyment percentages and average pay of graduates.

Sorry Ann, but your profession is increasingly becoming a big con. You should really consider going into a more reputable line of work. Same goes for Reynolds to, although you two at least work for a state school where the prices are not too outragous.

Bruce Hayden said...

The automatic high paid job for little work has always been a fantasy available only in Hollywood or from Daddy's company.

One thing to keep in mind is that the high paying jobs in law right out of law school invariably require a horrendous amount of work. Not only do you need to bill AND collect over 40 hours a week (which translates a lot of times into 60 or so hours of actual work), but then if you don't spend time prospecting for clients in your, almost nonexistent, free time, you will be booted out when it comes to partnership time. Many of the firms offering such high pay have very few partners in comparison to all those high paid associates - indicating that most of the associates are dumped before the time they could make partner.

And, even then, and even in the best of times, a distinct majority of law school grads don't get high paying jobs. There just aren't that many of them, compared to the number of new lawyers graduating from law school.

One thing that continues to amaze me is that companies are willing to pay for the junior associates hired in at those outrageous salaries. For example, $160k a year translates roughly into $80 an hour, multiplied by a fairly typical 3x results in a billing rate of roughly $240 an hour - for someone who last year was possibly working at McDonalds through law school. That is roughly $1,000 for four hours of work, and doesn't count the cost of the attorney work involved in overseeing his work (or the write downs due to his total naivete when it comes to the practice of law).

Dusty Fog said...

Thats a good one traditional guy. Hey did you see the new movie with the crawfish from outer space. It is really cool and as believable as what you just said.

Dusty Fog said...

You see every lawyer wants to grow up to be John Edwards.

wv:intabi when alphaLiberal has sex with his cat.

John said...

"Madison man, maybe the best lawyers (at least in some areas of practice) are the ones who are passionate about making money?"

No. The ones who make the most money are the ones who are the sleeziest. If you want to get rich as a lawyer, you need to be a sleezy plaintiffs' attorney or some kind of crooked finance guy. The real lawyers who care about their craft do well, but don't get rich. That takes being a skeezball.

Dusty Fog said...

There is John Edwards again.

John said...

Bruce Hayden,

The entire big law firm busines model is a joke. Why hire some top heavy law firm with over paid associates and under permorming partners when I can hire in house counsel and get better service at half the price or better yet farm out the grunt work to India? The days of the big black shoe law firm and $250,000 starting salaries for dumb kids is coming to an end.

mccullough said...

John,

It's white shoe law firm.

AJ Lynch said...

Tradguy :

You are right. There is no bank money available. That has caused transaction volume to evaporate. So no one needs as many lawyers.

Dusty Fog:
You made a funny and true point. When the govt owns all the ambulances, legal fees and lawsuit awards will be way smaller.

AJ Lynch said...

I heard John Edwards only wears his white shoes at the girlfriend's house.

Dusty Fog said...

It does not matter what color the shoes are because you know that their hearts are black.

Greg Hlatky said...

It's white-shoe law firms and black-shoe navy.

L. E. Lee said...

Althouse wrote "State schools are especially good choices..."

Hey, thanks Ann for defending the public option!

John said...

Interesting that it is white shoe law firm, yet no one actaully wears white shoes. I knew it was white shoe, but when I typed it I thought "that can't be right". Apparently, yes it can.

Regardless, their days are coming to an end.

mccullough said...

White shoe refers to the shoes the old boys wore to the garden parties back in the days when garden parties were all the rage.

Dusty Fog said...

To be fair if you work in a law firm in Wisconsin it is a white shoe and white belt firm.

So it is easy to be confused.

wv: giessome....gimme some of your money I am your greedy lawyer.

Treacle said...

I didn't have one law professor who ever talked about the big paycheck. If they mentioned working at BigLaw, it was usually to note how soul-crushing and mind-numbing it could be. After all, they left these firms to make less money.

When I was in law school ('99 grad), I remember students who came out of school in the early 90's who remember one hell of a recession in the legal market. And then when the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, hordes of associates were laid off (whither Brobeck Phleger?). This unwritten birthright never existed anyway except in the head of this guy who was the subject of the article.

paul a'barge said...

The reporter apparently talked only to Italians?

L. E. Lee said...

Hey wait! I thought the public option was really a Trojan house that would drive out private entities?
But we have public schools, like where Ann teaches and draws her paycheck and we have private ones like where Ann went to law school. How can that be?

mccullough said...

L.E. Lee:

The private ones are also not-for-profit.

Pogo said...

How can that be?

Unlike medicine, education lacks a monopsony.

L. E. Lee said...

mccullough, I don't think that is universally the case. Also, explain why would it matter anyway whether they were for profit or non-profit?

Pogo wrote "Unlike medicine, education lacks a monopsony."

Well, I can't argue with that!

Diamondhead said...

"The ones who make the most money are the ones who are the sleeziest. If you want to get rich as a lawyer, you need to be a sleezy plaintiffs' attorney or some kind of crooked finance guy."

I didn't mean best for society...If I was the type who filed bogus claims, I'd want the sleaziest guy possible. I'd want John Edwards.

Pogo said...

"Well, I can't argue with that!"

No, in fact you cannot.

L. E. Lee said...

Pogo, just throwing out terms like "monopsony" is not a substitute for an argument. I realize it is a good way for you to not have to consider difficult alternative arguments against your comfortably held beliefs.

I will give you another chance. Why would a state option in relation to health insurance automatically be a monopsony while the same is not true with education, the post office and thousand of other areas?

AJ Lynch said...

LE Lee:

Comparing a public option to the post office and public schools is not a winning argument.

Ralph L said...

Without federal student loans and grants, how many private colleges would fold?

Pogo said...

Because fixed prices under monopsony control are always and everywhere a destructive force.

Suppose there existed a government program called Educare for young people from 18-25 years old, that demanded a tuition PLUS board rate of $11,200 annually (i.e. 70% of the going rate), and this covered ALL kids in that age range, and the schools were unable by law to charge any more than that rate. What do you think would happen?

Could Harvard survive that? Of course not. Private schools would shrink and then die.

Instead we have loans given out to kids who borrow not really knowing the risks, lent by banks knowing the US gummint will bail them out. As a result, private and public schools feel rich rich rich and they spend spend spend and the bill for school rises ever higher ....until the bubble bursts, as it is now doing.

AJ Lynch said...

Spending on education is increasing at a faster rate than the so-called health care spending crisis.

No worry though - Prez Obama and the Dems will fix that after they reform health care.

How will they do that? I assume once they have destoryed the economy and most industries, there will be no reason to go to college. And presto, the cost of college will drop like a rock!

AJ Lynch said...

I do not make this stuff up but I have stayed in a Holiday Inn once in a while.

L. E. Lee said...

Ralph L wrote
"Without federal student loans and grants, how many private colleges would fold?"

Well, how many state universities would also fold?
Obviously, we have made a nationwide decision to encourage more people to seek out higher education than would happen if we just had a private system that had no public money. Is that a bad thing?

BTW, we have also done the same with health care. Though, in a much less efficient way. Hence, the crisis.

Pogo said...

Or consider Postalcare, which sets the rate for a first class stamp at only $0.25, and the Post Office and FedEx and UPS are required by law to provide the service and only at that rate and no more. Further, boxes of a certain size, no matter what they weighed or contained, MUST be shipped for $10.

3 guesses as to the outcome, and the first two don't count.

Pogo said...

"Obviously, we have made a nationwide decision"

We did?

When was that?

Was that another 'national discussion' we had?

Or is that what liberals mean by "we voted to pass the laws and spend the money even though none of us actually read the bills the lobbyists wrote"?

L. E. Lee said...

Pogo wrote
"Because fixed prices under monopsony control are always and everywhere a destructive force."

Pogo nice (not really) straw man argument. You just jump to the conclusion that with a government option in health care it will be a monopsony. But that has not developed in other areas like education and the post office. Just saying that a government option will automatically be a monopsony and hence it will be a bad thing is an unserious argument.

I take it you don't really have an argument?

AJ Lynch said...

Pogo:

Come on be fair...

Nationwide decision means whoever was in the majority in Congress listened to a bunch of lobbyists and let the lobbyists write a bill.....

Which they then signed without reading.

L. E. Lee said...

Pogo wrote
"Or consider Postalcare, which sets the rate for a first class stamp at only $0.25, and the Post Office and FedEx and UPS are required by law to provide the service and only at that rate and no more."

Well, that has not happen has it? See Pogo your paranoia of the government does not compute with reality.

AJ Lynch said...

Lee:

How thickheaded are you?

The poor quality and lack of choices forces consumers and entrepreneurs to establish private education and private businesses like fedex and UPS.

I don't think the health care reform bill allows doctors to serve patients outside the National Health Commissioner's purview.

FYI -that is not a feature. It is a very serious bug.

Pogo said...

"You just jump to the conclusion that with a government option in health care it will be a monopsony"

Wrong.
The government currently has monopsony power exactly as I described for college and the mail, in Medicare.

I quote The National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare:
"Medicare's monopsony power has resulted in many providers and suppliers being dependent upon Medicare fee-for-service. As a result, some have questioned whether Medicare should implement aggressive purchasing strategies, either in terms of cost containment or selective contracting. If such tactics are implemented and they reduce the number of participants in the marketplace, competition may be undermined."

L. E. Lee said...

Pogo and Lynch,



Why do you hate democracy?



BTW, both Republican and Democrat lawmakers and presidents have been a part of this long time consensus concerning higher education. Heck, it was a Republican president that created land grant universities like the University of Wisconsin. His name was Abraham Lincoln.

Pogo said...

"I take it you don't really have an argument?"

I take it you don't or can't understand an argument.

L. E. Lee said...

AJ Lynch wrote
"The poor quality and lack of choices forces consumers and entrepreneurs to establish private education"

AJ, I don't think Ann will appreciate you describing her law school that way. Also, you are making the argument that competition between private entities with a public option does work. Good going!

Pogo said...

" both Republican and Democrat lawmakers and presidents have been a part of this long time consensus concerning higher education"

Stupidity is bipartisan?
Shocker, that.

Pogo said...

"Pogo wrote
"Or consider Postalcare...
L. E. Lee said...
Well, that has not happen has it?
"

Good lord.
I proposed a program that works just like Medicare, as a thought experiment, and you say it hasn't happened yet.
Criminey.

L. E. Lee said...

With the introduction of the private option in health care, private insurers with have to compete and remain competitive as described and championed by Ann Althouse as "a ray of light" in her original post. Way to go Ann!

Balfegor said...

I think neither of the two students quoted in the article would be good lawyers. They're not in it for a good reason: they just want to get rich. Where is the passion for the law, or for helping right a wrong?

That's pretty normal for law students, particularly -- I think -- at the most elite law schools. Law school is sort of a safe default, if you're an unemployable scion of the upper middle classes and cannot do math and are therefore unsuited to banking or medicine. Or if you're too lazy for medical school, and too risk-averse for the kind of modern banking where you make gigantic bets with other peoples' money.

L. E. Lee said...

Pogo,
Your thought experiment was goofy.

Sorry about that.

AJ Lynch said...

Lee:

Read what I wrote again- I am referring to medical providers not insurance companies.

This health care reform will outlaw providing medical services outside of the Health Commissioner purview.

Ergo, they make the practice of medicine a govt job sooner or later. Like it is in England. NHS is largest employer in that country.

L. E. Lee said...

Pogo,

It explains a lot that you can dismiss the long time consensus to expand higher education so that we can remain competitive in the would economy with "stupidity is bipartisan." Almost hillbil.... Oh, forget it.

L. E. Lee said...

AJ Lynch wrote
"This health care reform will outlaw providing medical services outside of the Health Commissioner purview."

Is the "health Commissioner" the guy who will oversee the "Death Panels"? I am just trying to keep up with "Palin's World."

A.J., btw, do you not understand that the practice of medicine is already heavily regulated by the federal government?

L. E. Lee said...

Pogo, I guess you also hated the G.I. Bill?

AJ Lynch said...

Of course, he is in charge of the Death Panel officially called the Comparative Effectiveness Board in the Obamacare bill.

You have not read the bill yet, have you?

Roger J. said...

I am totally confused--happens often in my case--so many issues are being conflated I cant keep track of them. my thoughts:
law school and prospects of future employment: a student should understand exactly what his or her prospects are and do some sort of cost benefit analysis--if they fuck it up,to sad so bad

why any of this is related to health care and public options escapes me

AJ Lynch said...

His official title is "Health Choices Commissioner" and he will have your IRS tax info. The bill also requires the Social Security Administration gets access to your IRS data as well.

Hell, you will be required to give the Health Choices Commissioner your bank account info so he can make regular withdrawals from your bank account to help pay for the 45 Million allegedly uninsured.

And all of that is OK with a liberal like you correct?

wv = screqu if you can believe that

AJ Lynch said...

Rog:

I think it moved there when someone made the comment that college is overpriced [due to govt involvement] and that is what could happen to healthcare.

L. E. Lee said...

Roger J. wrote
"why any of this is related to health care and public options escapes me"

Because Ann Althouse supports the public option. Didn't you read her opening post?

Smilin' Jack said...

How can you callous monsters be squabbling over Obamacare yet again, when this thread is supposed to be dedicated to the heart-wringing tragedy of unemployable proto-lawyers? Have you no sense of decency?

Dusty Fog said...

Jack Off is right.

Lets get back to the important issue.

Lawyers suck.

traditionalguy said...

Dusty Fog...Think of lawyers like you think of a labor union. O K . now you really hate lawyers. But the need for lawyers arises only from humans who cannot remember their promises or never intended to keep them. Without abuse of others their would be no need for lawyers or Unions. And also the "Idea" of private property is only a creation of the laws and courts. Without that system you have no rights or property rights except those enforced by thugs and firepower. The "Drug Smugglers" who are simple import businessmen are forced to use thugs and firepower to run their business only because the Courts will not service them. Think that all thru and tell me again why lawyers who run the Courts of Justice are mere parasites hurting good people, whoever those good people might be.

Roger J. said...

lee--I guess I just dont get it--i thought the post was about poor lawyers who couldnt get a job--must have missed something--well you drive on, son--

Roger J. said...

AJ--yeah that is what happened. With respect to the basic post, lawyers? too many and hopefully market forces will make them seek honorable employment as say garbage men and women--garbage removal is much more a priority in society.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Balfegor said...

Without that system you have no rights or property rights except those enforced by thugs and firepower. The "Drug Smugglers" who are simple import businessmen are forced to use thugs and firepower to run their business only because the Courts will not service them. Think that all thru and tell me again why lawyers who run the Courts of Justice are mere parasites hurting good people, whoever those good people might be.

This is kind of an admission against interest for me here, but it's not necessarily the case that a legal system needs a huge corps of lawyers. Ours certainly does -- our legal and legislative traditions have combined to produce a system of byzantine complexity, extremely difficult for ordinary people to navigate. But a legal system doesn't have to be that way.

It's easy to speculate about other ways the system could be structured to reduce reliance on lawyers. For example, rather than relying on individual counsel for plaintiff (or prosecutor) and defendant to identify and present facts and come up with legal arguments, we could rely on magistrates with the power to drive fact investigation, making his own inquiries, taking his own testimony, and researching the law on his own. Obviously, there would be drawbacks to such a system, and some people would opt to get legal counsel anyhow, but counsel wouldn't be essential the way they effectively are today.

MadisonMan said...

Trooper, it's unfair to come in here, post something, and delete it.

You tease you.

Roger J. said...

mm:was that trooper that surfaced?
had to be something about journalists and lawyers

traditionalguy said...

Balfegor...You are speaking of the courts in France and in Egypt, as far as I have knowledge. Those systems have no Trial by Jury, and favoritism to the politically powerful and the state approved wealthy, who appoint Magistrates (and end the careers of Magistrates who act honestly) is expected. Do you hate lawyers enough to cut off your nose to spite your face? Think of the situation facing Marlin Brando in "On the Waterfront" when you think about putting your trust in Politically appointed Magistrates. Maybe the trial lawyers have become too skilled with Juries these days, but the 12 person jury argued to by a Lawyer ON YOUR SIDE is where Americans have traditionally placed their trust. For great fun watching a mid-western lawyer, try Jimmy Stewart's "Anatomy of a Murder."

traditionalguy said...

Before taking it in for the night, let me share with everyone the three ways that you know that the economy is really bad: (1) The Mafia is laying off Judges.(2) When you recieve an Insuficient Funds notice from the bank, you have to call and ask if they mean you or them. (3) Fortune 500 Executives are now playing in Minature Golf tournaments.

AJ Lynch said...

Troopers love lawyers then journalists. I think he has a thing for Connie Chung and Gloria Alred.

AJ Lynch said...

....and when white guys are working at the car wash.

AJ Lynch said...

....ans when law school grads are waiting tables.

AJ Lynch said...

.....when Trooper York has only three jobs.

AJ Lynch said...

.....when President Obama takes a vacation to pick up a week of Temp job money at Lawyers R Us.

AJ Lynch said...

.....when people won't buy a Powerball ticket until the jackpot is over $100 Million.

Balfegor said...

Do you hate lawyers enough to cut off your nose to spite your face?

It's an admission against interest for me, as I said, because I'm a lawyer myself.

You mention France and Egypt as examples of magistrate-driven proceedings. You could add Germany and Japan as well. And to be honest, I do not think the judiciary of Germany and Japan are markedly more corrupt than the judiciary in the United States. Other than Egypt, I would feel reasonably comfortable submitting to the jurisdiction of any of those courts. There are advantages and disadvantages to every system.

True, these particular foreign courts have traditionally had no jury system (although Japan is introducing juries or has just recently introduced juries) but other than jury nullification, I'm not sure that there's a particularly compelling reason to have juries in the first place.

NKVD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
garage mahal said...

Ours certainly does -- our legal and legislative traditions have combined to produce a system of byzantine complexity, extremely difficult for ordinary people to navigate. But a legal system doesn't have to be that way..

Then regular people could have access to the courts. Can't have that!

ironrailsironweights said...

There's a reason why huge numbers of people flock to law school even though the value of a law degree is sinking like a stone: because law school is easy. Think about it. No math, no science, no computers, not even any clear right/wrong answers (all essay-type tests). 95% of law students wouldn't last a semester in engineering school.

Peter

kathleen said...

at this point, i'm having difficulty thinking of any degree that is clearly worth the tuition required to get it. Tuition across the board is far too high now compared ot salaries that can reasonably be expected going forward. When I went to law school 15 years ago, it was a close call, and I graduated with a mere $40K in debt.

ironrailsironweights said...

at this point, i'm having difficulty thinking of any degree that is clearly worth the tuition required to get it

Petroleum engineering.
Chemical engineering.
Electrical engineering.

Peter

jaed said...

Law school is part of the American cursus honorum. All sorts of top jobs are easier to attain to with a law degree; it gives a sort of automatic pedigree, particularly from a well-known law school.

It's therefore not necessarily stupid to go to law school even when the job market for lawyers is tight, but it *is* stupid to go expecting that a $$$ biglaw job will just fall into your hand like a ripe peach upon graduation.

Bruce Hayden said...

There's a reason why huge numbers of people flock to law school even though the value of a law degree is sinking like a stone: because law school is easy. Think about it. No math, no science, no computers, not even any clear right/wrong answers (all essay-type tests). 95% of law students wouldn't last a semester in engineering school.

You are right that law school can be easy. But for most it is not, because it is so competitive. I pointed out in a previous thread that one of the things that distinguishes law school from other graduate schools is that most of the grading is on a curve. The reason for that is that class rank can be extremely important when it comes to employment. Those lawyers hired at $160k or so fresh out were either at the very top of their law school classes (upper 10% or so), or did decently at a tier 1 school.

When I started law school, they told us that many of us could expect the first Cs in our lives, and a lot of B's, for students who had mostly A's as undergraduates and high school.

So, if you want to just scrape by, you can probably do so. But getting a decent job after law school requires a lot of work. Or, at least the first year or two. I knew people who lived on 4 hours a sleep for their first year.

One thing that distinguishes law school from most other graduate schools is that you have to think. You can't just zone out when you are studying.

I hadn't realized that, until I talked to a sleep doctor with both an MD and a JD, who also was narcoleptic (and probably the reason that he specialized in sleep disorders). He had a far harder time in law school for just that reason - you had to think and analyze while you studied, and much of his med school education was instead rote memorization. Not so in law school.

Finally, as to engineering school. My experience is that while it can be a huge amount of work, much of the work is quite repetitive. Being able to do something isn't as important many times as being able to do it fast and accurately - developed through a lot of mindless repetition.

ironrailsironweights said...

Finally, as to engineering school. My experience is that while it can be a huge amount of work, much of the work is quite repetitive. Being able to do something isn't as important many times as being able to do it fast and accurately - developed through a lot of mindless repetition.

The main point with respect to engineering school is that very, very few people have the math skills necessary to pass, even people with high I.Q. scores. Almost anyone with an I.Q. of, say, 130 will be able to make it through law school if he or she works hard at it, however that is distinctly not true for engineering.

Peter

Balfegor said...

When I started law school, they told us that many of us could expect the first Cs in our lives, and a lot of B's, for students who had mostly A's as undergraduates and high school.

They told me the same thing, and I had to laugh. I was well acquainted with B's already. Not only was I not the valedictorian or whatever of my undergraduate class, I think I was like 13 out of 24 in my major (I think I may have been top 25% in my class as a whole, though).

My experience was probably not typical. I went to a Tier 1 law school -- probably on the strength of my atypically math/science-centric background and the fact that I had amassed almost enough credits to graduate college twice over -- and did decently well there, but I wouldn't put the intellectual effort required for law school anywhere near my undergraduate study (at an engineering school, majoring in math).

In law school, you could get a B easily without doing much work other than browsing through cases before class and reading those commercial outlines at the end of the semester. When I took Introduction to Mathematical Analysis at college, on the other hand, I got a B, and I actually had to work -- had to think hard to fit it all together and reason through the problem sets. And it wasn't just the courses for math majors. The core curriculum was that way too. Things have changed somewhat now, at my alma mater, as they've reworked the introductory curriculum, but when I went through, the introductory multivariable calculus course had to be curved, because the average score on the tests was something like 60%. Not because we were stupid, but because it was hard. Law can be challenging, but it's simply a different order of challenging from a subject with real rigour.

If you're shooting for the very top of your law school class, or an eventual supreme court clerkship or something -- or if you have a real love of legal research -- then I suppose yes, it can be a real challenge. That kind of competition always is hard. But it was a lot easier to coast in law school than it was in my undergraduate major.