Quote of the day--yes, and stop your bitching edition

>> Monday, March 26, 2012

It is also difficult for the court to conceive that somehow lost on these plaintiffs is the fact that a goodly number of law school graduates toil (perhaps part-time) in drudgery or have less than hugely successful careers.
-Justice Melvin L. Schweitzer, quoted by Martha Neil,
"Judge Nixes $225M Suit By College Grads Claiming They Were Misled By NY Law School Job Stats,
ABA Journal, March 21st, 2012

Exactly. I don't know if you've heard about all the unemployed recent law grads who are out there trying to sue their alma maters for misrepresentation because, they say, the law schools exaggerated postgraduate employment prospects and now these folks are all in debt (not dischargeable in bankruptcy, by the by) and can't find the lucrative law jobs they're all supposedly entitled to in a jobs market in which, it turns out in reality, big law firms are firing staff and (by-the-way non-lucrative) public sector jobs are mostly frozen. Anyway, so yeah, all these disgruntled law grads are suing and bless Justice Schweitzer for throwing one of these whiny lawsuits out on its ass.

Don't completely mistake me: a lot of the law schools do not have clean hands in this. What's been happening of late is that there are a whole bunch of non-traditional, privately-owned, for-profit law schools opening up. They have no commonwealth responsibility like the state schools and they have no traditional sense of public obligation like the historic private schools (e.g. Harvard, Duke); for most of these for-profits, the basic interest is jamming in as many applicants as have cash (usually borrowed) to pay. A traditional law school might arbitrarily cut off its applications out of a sense that there are too many graduates entering the market, or might make it clear that they are giving applicants a legal education to do whatever they want with (if anything), emphatically not a guarantee of any particular kind of employment (though they'll certainly help with that). Hell, a lot of traditional law schools will make it clear up front and early that they aren't even teaching you how to be a lawyer at all, they're going to teach you "how to think like a lawyer", whatever that really means.

But if the for-profit and lower-tier law schools are basically running a scam, that doesn't mean they owe damages to these recent law graduates who were all-too-eager to buy their lottery tickets when they thought there really was a jackpot to be claimed. I cannot conceive of going to law school, any kind of law school, and thinking I'm entitled to anything other than the education and piece of sheepskin I'm paying for. I know, easy for me to say: I have a legal job already and got into the trade before the market was so saturated with all these grads--so what? I have one of those non-lucrative public sector jobs, I'm happy the state hasn't laid me off though I may grumble about how damn long it's been since I saw a raise. If I hadn't been hired back when I passed the Bar, I would have hung out a shingle or done something else.

Which is something else, by the way, that makes me irritable about the arrogance and self-entitlement of these whining post-grads: out of all the professional and postgraduate degrees out there, the law degree is one that leaves you singularly self-sufficient. That is, it's half the ticket into (for better or worse) a restricted and regulated trade, the other half of the ticket being the Bar license, and once you have both pieces, there's nothing in the state you're living in that can keep you from going down to the courthouse to sign up to be on the conflicts/court-appointed list; from taking out a small business loan to pay for a sign and a secretary until the retainers start coming in; from just sitting on the courthouse steps in your best suit waiting for someone to walk up to you and say, "Hey, you a lawyer? I need someone t' handle a speedin' ticket for me." It may not be easy, it may not be lucrative, it may not be what you thought you wanted to do when you signed up for really the world's oldest profession (if you put any stock in the Bible's account of things and believe the snake in the Garden Of Eden was Satan, we note that it's universally accepted The Devil is a lawyer and was hard at work soliciting clients from the first minute Eve strayed beneath his perch; more scientific thinkers may ponder on how primitive and egalitarian Stone Age hunts must have been before Mokh and Ugh stumbled upon the mutton-for-nothing angle of holding spear-makers accountable for products liability when a poorly-whittled haft snapped off in a sabre-toothed tiger giving Grubbl-One-Arm-Half-Leg né Grubbl-Slayer-Of-Terrible-Beasts his new title). But it's, as that lamp used to say on The Flintstones, a living.

Dear whining recent law grads: you're supposedly smarter than the average bear, supposedly worldlier and cleverer; you had to go to college and pass a test to go to law school, then you had to pass another test to show you belonged in the profession. You're credentialed. Surely you're smart enough, then, to know the universe doesn't owe you your first choice in professions, and it's possible you read one of those many cases while you were a student or during your Bar Review course in which the major holding was "life sucks and then you die" even if it wasn't quite so bluntly worded. Get over yourselves. Maybe you were cheated by an unscrupulous law school--fine, if I had my way, they most likely never would have accepted you as a student in the first place, as there's too many of us and possibly your alma mater had a conflict-of-interest and shouldn't have been accredited to begin with. There you go. But you now have a piece of paper that says you've studied law, and if you can't find a job that takes note of that... well, it's a shit economy, you've got me there. Maybe you ought to have factored that into your long-term planning when you were filling out the paperwork.

We don't always get what we want. (But somebody told me, if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.)


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