Monday, December 26, 2011

Law Schools could face a wave of lawsuits in 2012

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and Happy Kwanzaa!

It has been a while since I updated, but I have some time off and I have been busy with my job, my investment club and my cooking club. At a recent holiday party with my investment club, I met Linda who told me that she has heard a lot of bad news about the legal profession lately. She is an MBA  who works in high tech public relations and meets many attorneys who have switched careers or wound up temporarily unemployed. Most who can't find jobs end up leaving the law once they find a decent paying plum job in corporate America. I told her that many lawyers are unemployed and she sarcastically told me that they should sue their alma maters.

Ironically when I came home that night, I was browsing through the online news. I came across this witty and insightful article in the Sacramento Bee, Law Schools could face a wave of class action lawsuits in 2012

You should read the article yourself to get an insiders view of what many legal professionals feel will be a very painful 2012 for many law school deans and administrators. Some are even calling 2012, " The year of law school litigation."  All of the bogus employment statistics and job placement information that many schools publish are very questionable, and the awareness has now reached the masses. Legal professionals who read these blogs are no longer the only ones taking note of the fraudulent practices happening in many o these law schools. Many law firms and even some public policy advocates anticipate multiple class action lawsuits throughout 2012.

I still have hope that I can find some part time job in the legal profession on the side. I am kind of sad because I really enjoy learning about the law and I would have loved to find a job with my education and experience. However, the cliche is true: once you leave the legal field it is EXTREMELY hard to go back.

On a lighter note, my investment club has recently brought in some personal finance speakers to help us figure out ways to eliminate student debt. I have found some useful new tips that I will post in the near future.

In the meantime, enjoy your holiday weekend and have a happy new year! I think the worst of the recession is over, and 2012 should be a much better year for us than 2011. I hope all of you who are unemployed and underemployed find good jobs and work towards a great 2012! It should be a great year for all of us..except maybe the deans of the law schools.  :)


- The Poor Paralegal

15 comments:

  1. I read that article as well. It seemed to me like a pathetic attempt to use fear tactics in order to drum up business for these lawyers.

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  2. ^Unemployment in the legal field is real issue 11:31.

    I have worked as a paralegal for nearly 13 years (pretty much I have worked in law since I graduated college). Anytime I have someone e-mail me on my LinkedIn account for advice, I tell them straight out to rethink taking a student loan to pursue being a paralegal.

    There is no doubt that attorneys have the biggest burdeon over paralegals. Average law school tuition is near $100K (despite school ranking). However due to the glut of law grads, recent JD's are quickly replacing people like me who are experienced non-attorneys. Although I sympathize with many of these newly minted attorneys who need to pay off that loan, it does put me in the position struggling to find work. I have been recently had my full time job reduced to part-time/per diem position. It certainly worries me when I see ads now encouraging JD's to appy for legal assistant positions.

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  3. Continued...

    As far as 11:31's remarks are concerned, most law students apply and attend schools based on the stats school's provide regarding post-grad opportunities. Law School is not like under-grad liberal arts college where the school does not make any claims regarding employment. However all law schools (T1-T4) all provide stats, and many of these schools out right lie about the percentage of the graduating class securing jobs as **attorneys** (not paralegals or legal secretary, but actual attorney positions).

    Personally, law grads should also sock it to the ABA when they file an action. The ABA has destroyed this profession in accrediting any school with running water, a fax, and a modem.

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  4. I posted at 11:31. Let me be more clear so there is no confusion:

    1. Yes, unemployment is a problem in this industry.

    2. Yes, most law schools have lied about the real numbers and/or hidden them.

    Other problems:

    3. Student loans are predatory. As we all know, there is no way to discharge them or move on...especially if one has found out that they cannot find a job after law school. Fed loans are as bad as private, don't be fooled.


    4. The law firm (in the article from the Bee) appears to be searching for clients. When you read between the lines, it is easy to see that they are sending law schools a message: pay us to represent you or else pay a lot more. A mere simple observation.

    5. Even if employment was high and the law schools NEVER lied about employment stats and the economy was humming along and everyone who graduated from law school had a job, there would still be big problems in higher ed, as well as law school: again, the loans. They are predatory, non-dischargeable, no truth in lending requirements, capitalization issues, inability to refinance, etc...The crappy economy has only exposed something that has existed for a very long time.

    6. In conclusion, it is not just unemployment, but a host of other issues as well. Transparency is a start, and it is necessary but it is not the end-all be-all.

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  5. LP,

    I don't buy the fact that students cannot find out what the REAL deal is WRT the employment picture in the legal field. They could talk to attorneys they know. They could do their own independent research, rather than buying what the law schools say in their fancy brochures. They could read books (both fiction & non fiction) about the legal field. I did all the above, and it helped me to avoid doing law school.

    A particularly good source is Law School Confidential, written by Robert H. Miller, who graduated U of Penn Law in 2000 or so. His book is a 'how-to' manual for law school. From application to graduation and everything in between, Miller lays it all out for the 0L.

    He does more than that though. He has other law students act as 'mentors' in the book. These are his contemporaries from Penn and other, top law schools. In the beginning of the book, they introduce themselves, give their bios, etc. That alone is worth the price of the book!

    There's one mentor I remember well: Bess Franzosa. She was former journalist who attended law school to become a prosecutor. Rather than being a bystander and reporting on heinous crimes, she wanted to DO something about them-a laudable motivation. Having said that, she couldn't become a prosecutor in the end. Why? Because of her law school loans, payment of which was $1,100 a month. That's bigger than my mortgage, for cryin' out loud! She ended up doing labor & employment law. When asked if she'd do law school again, she said absolutely not!

    When looking at all the mentors' backgrounds, two things became readily apparent: 1) they'd all attended T-25 schools; and 2) all had been on law review, or at least journal, at their schools. IOW, even when the book came out (keep in mind that this was during what would now be considered GOOD times for the legal business), one had to be a top student at a top school in order to have any prayer of getting a job.

    I also talked to my business law professor, himself a former attorney. Though he was still licensed and doing wills and stuff for friends, he'd all but left the legal business. I asked him about making it as an attorney. He said that, in NJ, that 3,000 new attorneys took their oath every few months; that's 6,000 new attorneys a year in NJ alone!

    In any case, if one did his research and kept his emotions out of it (IOW didn't think they'd be living LA Law or Ally McBeal in real life), it was possible to discern that law school has been a dicey, expensive gamble for a long time now. Those are my thoughts...

    MarkyMark

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  6. @11:31-Thank you for the clarification, and I concur with all of your points.

    In hindsight, your comment regarding the law firm seeking clients to sue their Alma Mata’s brings to light another problem with this field: the need for civil lit law firms to have to constantly drum up business, no matter what. The US has become so litigious that it is nearly impossible for new starter companies to establish themselves with high insurance rates, contracts, and federal and state regulations. No wonder this nation is at a standstill with job growth and new opportunities.

    @Marky Mark:

    Agreed that new students should not take what schools dish out as gospel. However, that still does not exempt law schools (or any school for that matter) to outright lie about its stats to students.

    It is also difficult for new students to determine what field offers stability when the Department of Labor continues to lie about its stats as well. One can look no further than the Paralegal field as an example of this. To date, the DoL continues to claim that the Paralegal field is still growing. Take it from me: IT IS NOT! I know many of my co-workers who were downsized along with me in 2008, either just found new jobs after two long years in looking and taking considerable pay cuts. And if you think attorneys and firms are utilizing paralegals, think again. Paralegals are getting thrown right under the bus by firms. Of course this still does not stop many community colleges, as well as some top tier college continuing ed programs in continuing to use DoL stats that the Paralegal field is still solid.

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  7. LP,

    Yeah, I've taken all gov't stats with a grain of salt for a long time now. Even with stats in general, they should be taken with a grain of salt. Long ago, I had a class in statistics, and the one truism I remember is that there are any number of ways to gather and interpret data. Oh, and here's a quote from Disraeli: "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics"...

    MarkyMark

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  8. I'm looking for a lawyer, but I haven't found one so far despite the fact that I've asked in every source that I've found.
    To summarize:
    I've was assaulted in the hospital seven years ago. I was told that I could not seek redress because of the FDA preemption.
    I returned to work to great discrimination. I was subsequently fired for "disability", though I was doing a great job. Again, I sought legal redress and have not been able to find help. Because of the firing, I lost my pension, though the health insurance company "awarded" me a disability benefit - which is nothing but an unpayable debt against my pension.
    Since I was fired "disability", I was told to seek help from the VR and SBA. I worked, unpaid, for them for over two years. I was then told that they would not help "whatsoever" because I didn't have enough income to qualify.
    I've gone to every government agency (including Protection and Advocacy, the governor's office, my representatives, etc.) to find help and I've found that I'm ineligible for SSD (which I don't want anyway), Victim's Assistance, unemployment, heat assistance, food assistance, housing assistance, scholarships, etc.
    I've tried to find help for legal and/or financial advice and I haven't found a single person who is willing to find out about disability law.
    I'm tired, about to lose my home, and hungry.
    If you can tell me where to find help - not for the government, not for the doctors, not for the insurance companies, not for Wall Street - I'm seeking help for ME.
    Thank you.

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  9. I don't mind that they have the right to sue their colleges. Maybe they have a point, but it's silly when there are so many who is in need of legal help and they refuse to do it.
    Can someone help me, please?

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  10. I'm not sure where you live, or where the incident at issue took place, but there are pro-bono law firms which do represent people with financial issues. Practically every major city has Legal Service/Legal Aid offices. You can either Google or check your White Pages for the nearest office.

    I have also seen people take an ad on Craig's List if there are need of an attorney (I'm not sure if this approuch works or not). If you decide to take that route, just make sure you check the local and state bar to ensure the attorney is duly licensed to represent you. 1-800-LAWYERS also a decent source to obtain names of attorneys and their area of expertise.

    I don’t know how many attorneys you have spoken to so far, but hopefully this provides a good starting point for you to obtain some legal consultation.

    Hope this helps. Good luck...

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  11. Again, I've done EVERYTHING that is available to me. I've gone from New York to California, local, statewide; non-profit, governmental; legal bars, and liquor bars; all over the internet from top to the bottom. All have harmed, not helped. As you can see there is no such thing as Pro Bono help for the "poor" people in my situation. I'm INELIGIBLE for SSD and I cannot afford my home to find out that once again. I don't need to sue per se as that has taken a negative connotation these days. But I definitely need to find someone who is enough educated (knows the disabled laws as it applies to someone who has been fired for disability) to help. And yesser, I've called all the legal "help" numbers as well. I need personal advice, not internet one-size-fits-all unaccountable links. Can YOU (as a real person-surely, you know one?) help ME (another real hapless person) to find someone who knows what is going on in this country?

    Disclaimer: This query does not apply world-wide, only the US.

    Thanks.

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  12. I'm not in the position to offer legal advice. I gave suggestions to you to help locate names of attorneys and law firms. All you need to do is Google and start calling attorneys to see if you can have a consultation. For example, I googled "Lawyer and Disability and New York" and I was provided with contact information for several law firms in the New York metro area.

    I will tell you from experience that if the law provides that you are unable to collect benefits (as in what state and federal laws provide), or the statute of limitations has expired, no attorney will accept your case. You may want to consider contacting a few of the attorneys you had already spoken to and ask them why they cannot represent you and if there is someone else they can refer you to.

    Not to sound bitchy, but no one is going to provide you with names, especially over the internet, due to privacy issues.

    Hope this helps...good luck.

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  13. Nope it still isn't helping and yes, it sounds EXTREMELY beaaachy, bigoted and wasteful of your energy, as I've wasted seven years to find a tiny crack in our system to save my life and our country, and you don't have a few seconds to look up the correct link for me? I also require a lawyer who will work with a white person, too.
    Sorry to ruin your day, but we are going through a systematic failure (I don't know what system will fail or how it'll hurt you, but it doesn't look good as they are all electronically connected now) - maybe it's time to think about something worthwhile? I'm telling you (and you're proving it by not exercising your civil rights) that our legal system is compromised. Can you tell me WHERE (law school, law agency, etc.) to find such an animal, if they actually exist in this country anymore?
    BTW, you're on the internet - we've given up our privacy, no matter what country you're typing from, a long time ago. Just because you can find a link for me, doesn't mean that I can find someone who remembers that we actually still have the Bill of Rights or even if the court will allow me to live after that expense, even if I'm allowed to find a mythical Pro Bono lawyer who hasn't been compromised, too.

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  14. Try being a career changing paralegal.. especially one coming from 15 years of retail.. I got my ABA approved Paralegal certificate in June of 2009.. still looking.. oh.. nearing the 100K mark in student loans... currently doing a grad degree in Accounting Forensics.. hoping to give myself some exclusivity by having forensic accounting under my belt.. cant get an accounting job either.. blah

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  15. Awesome review. I got to your blog from yahoo while i was looking for job search. I will turn over your site to other people and I am sure they will think the same about your article on this site.

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