Paul L. Caron
Dean





Thursday, June 9, 2016

Law Grad Responds To Fundraising Appeals From 'Greedy' Law School: 'Go To Hell, You Parasite'

Minneapolis Star-Tribune op-ed:  Law School Fundraising: What Have You Ever Done For Me?, by Robert G. Larson III (J.D. 2010, William Mitchell (now Mitchell Hamline)):

To my greedy law school:

No. Stop asking. I’m not going to give you any money. Ever. So you can stop sending those fundraising letters every few months, begging for more of my hard-earned cash.

I’m not blaming you for the collapse of the legal job market. ...  I’m blaming you because you lied to us. You reported employment statistics — even back in 2007, when things were decidedly rosier — that led prospective students to believe that a huge portion of your graduates walked out of your hallowed halls and right into lucrative associate positions at fancy law firms. The reality, as we now know, is that you were counting everyone with any kind of job at all — from the guy working just a few hours per week at the 7-Eleven to the girl who took your perennial temporary position in the student affairs office — as employed, for the purposes of bragging about postgraduation employment. ...

I truly, deeply regret attending law school. Full of youthful optimism, I tried to better my life through education, and was slapped down hard. Despite assurances to the contrary, the things I learned haven’t helped me in the slightest. ...

Going to law school has irreparably damaged my career. It took years to slog through law school, wallow in unemployment, find an employer who would take a chance on a guy branded with those scarlet letters — J.D. — and finally make my way back into my undergraduate field. Years that I should have spent gathering expertise and accomplishments, contributing to a 401(k) and building my professional network.

But worst of all is the debt. We’re not talking the paltry $25,000 that the average undergrad is saddled with nowadays. We’re talking $100,000 or more — $170,000, in my case, despite a 50 percent scholarship that seemed generous at the time. That level of debt demands a monthly payment that’s twice what my mortgage is. That’s money that I could be using to provide for my retirement. For my kids’ college. For any of the myriad expenses that life throws at you. But instead, I’m shouldering the crushing weight of astronomical student debt, stuck in debt slavery, the penalty for thinking that maybe, just maybe, education was the ticket to an elite career.

It feels like a grave insult every time you request a donation. At every turn, you’ve done me a disservice. You’ve taken so much from me, and given precious little. My life is worse for having known you. I have paid and will continue to pay for that mistake. But you don’t care; you’re just a bloated glutton, constantly demanding more.

So, in light of that, I’m sure you’ll understand when I say, “Go to hell, you parasite.”

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/06/law-grad-to-his-greedy-law-school-go-to-hell-you-parasite.html

Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

"At first I thought UNE wrote this piece, but then I realized... the author of the piece at least had the courage to sign his real name."

- "Rob T"

No comment necessary, really.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jun 11, 2016 9:39:24 PM

I just realized something. The college I attended in the late 1960s, when tuition and the cost of living was low, is currently rolling in money donated my generation of graduates.

What's going to happen when the current generation of students nears retirement? They've paid far more for their college education and acquired large debts that may take twenty years or more to pay off. With but a few exceptions, the job market they're entering is dismal.

In about forty years or so when the university comes knocking for alumni donations will they be as generous? Somehow, I think not.

Universities, backed by foolish federal loans, have seriously oversold themselves. They may come to regret that.

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Jun 10, 2016 4:52:16 PM

When Law Prawfs and Deans respond to practitioner posts about the state of the legal profession and we tell them the FACTS as we know them, the resort to attacking us as WHINERS. Here is my solution: Bring your salaries and compensation down to the IRS median for a Solo Attorney which is fifty percent of the profession.

Posted by: Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King | Jun 10, 2016 1:15:21 PM

@ Anon,

I'm not bitter. I worked as an associate at an AMLAW50 job out of graduation. I've paid all of my 6 figure student debt, plus a few memorable vacations, plus a wedding, plus a child, plus a new condo in an up and coming part of town that has appreciated so quickly that when I sell it the rental equivalent will be zero. I haven't had any period of unemployment in the legal profession since graduating in 2009. I currently work at a small civil lit shop where I make more than the average engineer and have done an entire complex litigation trial myself and won a verdict that now exceeds a million bucks (did the entire appeal process too - affirmed). Everything has been roses for me, and like you, I would do it all again - easily.

I have not brought these facts up because they are completely irrelevant to this discussion. You want to talk about yourself, and that is it, it's very clear.

Posted by: JM | Jun 10, 2016 9:35:10 AM

At first I thought UNE wrote this piece, but then I realized two things:

1. First, the law school in question is in Minnesota.

2. Second, the author of the piece at least had the courage to sign his real name.

"There is a big difference between a whiner and a victim."

Amen to that, except there are far fewer true victims than there are whiners, as the comments to legal education-related posts on this blog prove daily.

Posted by: Rob T. | Jun 10, 2016 8:45:12 AM

@Mrs. Socrates,

Sticker cost of attendance at top law schools (and some not so top ones) is in the $85k to $90k per year range, with living expenses. That's $270k all-in before interest, since no grad school loans are subsidized anymore. The tuition portion of that $90k is $60k. Half scholarship only brings down that $90k/year cost to $60k/year, for a pre-interest, pre-bar expenses total of $180k.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jun 10, 2016 8:41:06 AM

Oh, I forgot:

"who don't even make the waitlist at UCLA ..."

I hope that's not aimed at me. I was actually admitted to multiple "T14" schools (with no scholarship money). Not being a total dumbass - unlike many - I figured that chasing prestige was not worth more than doubling my debt.

Posted by: Anon | Jun 10, 2016 7:13:16 AM

JM,

You're bitter; hope that's working out well for you. I am not.

Posted by: Anon | Jun 10, 2016 7:10:41 AM

Just to finish the point, here are the budgets for two hypothetical law schools:

Law School A:

Tuition: $40,000
Student Body: 300 per class/ 900 total
Scholarships: Everyone gets 50% off sticker
Donations: $200.00 (2016 constant dollars) annual donations from every alum for 50 years post graduation.
Total Annual Revenue: $21 million*

*300 alumni per year X 50 years X 200 = 3 million in gift funds + 18 million in tuition revenue.

School B:

Tuition: $40,000
Student Body: 300 per class/ 900 total
Scholarships: No one gets any scholarship money
Total Annual Revenue: $36 million

As we can see, people like me butter the law school bread, while people like anon (2nd gen x-er) threaten its existence. I think sub-elite law schools would be wise to stop receiving students who don't even make the waitlist at UCLA as if they are the Queen of Sheba.

Posted by: JM | Jun 10, 2016 6:34:33 AM

Anon,

You still totally miss the point. How much debt you incurred, which includes living expenses, is completely irrelevant to anything discussed here. And I have no clue why you brought up your undergrad debt. What is relevant is that you received a half scholarship at a "not inexpensive reasonably well-ranked non-ivy." So basically you have avoided the question of how much tuition did you pay. Presuming you went to a private school, you would have paid about $20k per year for a total of $60k in tuition. Now how much have you donated since graduating? Recall, I have sent my law school $110k. Are you anywhere close? I still bet you won't financially support your law school in you whole lifetime anywhere close to the degree that I have already, which is pretty hypocritical for a guy who is beating his chest about how much he appreciates the opportunity he received. Bottom line, I have done more.

Posted by: JM | Jun 10, 2016 3:49:56 AM

Why did he believe them? It takes two to make a swindle: the one who lies and the one who wants to believe.

Posted by: Grandma | Jun 9, 2016 7:56:58 PM

Bottom line,

(As the large decline in applications has shown), law schools are becoming more and more widely known as sewers of deceit when it comes to financial matters.

It is a very well earned reputation and sooner or later one of the lawsuits will stick and completely destroy one (or more) of the schools.

Then the real bloodletting will begin.

To me, the most interesting aspect is why some more creative causes of action haven't been invoked against these (at best) borderline fraudulent institutions - students are not the only ones whole have been financially betrayed for decades.

Federal and state governments (see taxpayers) have been fed false/misleading/incorrect information as well - and there are a raft of regulations about those sorts of things...

Posted by: cas127 | Jun 9, 2016 7:56:55 PM

On the positive side, perhaps attending law school trained this person to write a persuasive yet scathing argument.

Posted by: William J Thomas | Jun 9, 2016 6:51:11 PM

And, JM, perhaps next time read what is actually written rather than making up what you want to hear. I did not write that a legal education was "provided to me." I wrote that "becoming a lawyer provided me with opportunities I wouldn't have had otherwise."

Posted by: Anon | Jun 9, 2016 6:23:44 PM

$170,000 debt with a 50% scholarship? How's that even possible?

Posted by: Mrs. Socrates | Jun 9, 2016 6:20:59 PM

JM,

As usual: wrong.

I paid roughly half tuition at a not-inexpensive, reasonably well ranked non-Ivy. Between tuition, loans for living expenses, and undergrad debt (because mama and papa didn't pay for my undergrad, unlike so many of my law school classmates), I had about $100K in total educational debt, about $60,000 for law school. Between all that, I just paid off my final loan last year. So please don't lecture me about how much law school costs or about the burdens of law school debt. I'm well aware of them, and am still grateful for my legal education, and would do it again in a heartbeat. It is an investment that has paid off, financially and otherwise.

Posted by: Anon | Jun 9, 2016 6:20:12 PM

At Second Gen X-er,

What did you pay for tuition? I am guessing something nominal or nothing giving your reference to your underprivileged background and your characterization of this opportunity as having been "provided to you." When you pay full freight for a service, like a meal or a hotel room, you really don't feel like it has been provided to you.

Anyway, I paid about $110k in just tuition over my three years in the mid 2000's. I am guessing you have transferred nowhere close to the amount of money to your law school as I have to mine (net tuition + donations). Guessing you paid no tuition, and donate about $500 per year, you will have to donate for about another 200 years before you catch up to my contribution, and that doesn't even account for inflation. There is no difference to a school btw a dollar in tuition and a dollar in donations, you realize that right?

Posted by: JM | Jun 9, 2016 3:55:10 PM

Like the above poster, I am a Gen X-er. Unlike the above poster, I happily donate to my alma mater because becoming a lawyer provided me with opportunities I wouldn't have had otherwise (as a kid from a rather underprivileged background, I tend to feel happy for what I have and did not and do not feel entitled to anything, regardless of what anyone - law schools or otherwise, may have "promised.")

Posted by: Anon | Jun 9, 2016 2:14:41 PM

to Career Management:

I'd be inclined to agree with you if folks went in with full disclosure versus having been fraudulently induced. There is a big difference between a whiner and a victim. Let us not forget that schools, at best, obfuscated, and at worse, fraudulently misrepresented, employment figures for the recruitment and ranking purposes...

Posted by: Anon | Jun 9, 2016 9:57:34 AM

I paid off my law school loans, but it still was a mistake to enter this thankless, stressful "profession." It also was MY mistake. With that, there are worthwhile charities I give a few bucks to (Doctors Without Borders, an occasional WNYC pledge drive, and kids charities partnered up with some of my sports tickets packages) each year. That's my charitable giving... not a single penny left for a bunch of Ivy League educated rent-seekers who've dumbed down their admission standards to a de-facto open admissions level.

Posted by: Cent Rieker | Jun 9, 2016 8:29:30 AM

The author is correct to a point. A law school education is no longer a guaranteed path to a sustainable middle class lifestyle. However, it is a great opportunity to learn the nuts and bolts or our legal and political systems.. We have a wonderful Constitutional tradition. When one goes to Philadelphia and goes to the historic sites and museum, there is a great sense of pride because you are a part of that...you keep that going. The difficulty today is monetizing that for a sustainable career. As long as you understand that, law school is a great education. I have had a great career. Problem is that I have not been able to monetize that in a very successful manner.

Posted by: Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King | Jun 9, 2016 7:33:14 AM

"Career management":

Was his outcome the result of "his own failures" or fraud on the part of the school? He is alleging fraud.

Posted by: anon. 25 | Jun 9, 2016 7:03:52 AM

I will never donate to my law school in the future, no matter how much I have. They took more than enough in tuition. The large groups that currently make annual donations paid like $5k per year in tuition (today's dollars). Very few Gen X'ers will donate.

As an aside, my alma mater specifically asks one of my friends to recruit people to come to expensive awards dinners and generally be a representative for the school at the events. He does it purely because he likes to help, and is good at it because he is well-liked and widely known. Nevertheless, the schools makes him PAY FOR HIS PLATE, both for him and his wife, at these events, despite the fact that they run upwards of $100, and he works a public service job that pays about $50k. Nevermind that these dinners are primarily to present awards to faculty. It's beyond shameless.

Posted by: JM | Jun 9, 2016 6:32:53 AM

"Going to law school has irreparably damaged my career."

I think being the kind of person who publicly blames others for his own failures and allows himself to appear to be ungenerous (hint to the wise: these character traits are not a turn on to employers) might be the thing holding this guy back!

Posted by: Career management | Jun 9, 2016 5:54:35 AM

I think we've found Trump's campaign manager

Posted by: mike livingston | Jun 9, 2016 4:11:02 AM

(Applause).

Law schools are vile, and law professors are blackjack dealers in the law school casino.

Posted by: Jojo | Jun 9, 2016 3:42:49 AM