Law students file scathing lawsuit against their alma maters

  • #1
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Is this really what higher education in our system has become? The students probably won't win, but at least they are increasingly raising awareness and do have a point:

http://news.yahoo.com/graduates-accuse-law-schools-scamming-students-021529890.html [Broken]

"The two class-action suits were filed by graduates of New York Law School in lower Manhattan and Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan, amid growing scrutiny over whether law schools across the country are deliberately concealing the truth about their graduates' employment and salary in order to enroll more students despite their dismal job prospects.
Among the tactics allegedly employed by the schools were misclassifying graduates with temporary or part-time jobs as "fully" employed, omitting information about graduates who didn't respond to employment surveys, and creating post-graduate job programs to hire their own graduates.
"The law school industry today is much like a game of three-card monte, with law schools flipping over ace after ace, while a phalanx of non-suspecting players wager mostly borrowed money based on asymmetrical information on a game few of them can win," according to the New York lawsuit."
 
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  • #2
SixNein
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Is this really what higher education in our system has become? The students probably won't win, but at least they are increasingly raising awareness and do have a point:

http://news.yahoo.com/graduates-accuse-law-schools-scamming-students-021529890.html [Broken]
I wonder if one could not say the same about stem.
 
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  • #3
Evo
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Evo child decided to leave her decision to go to law school based on what the reality was.

Is Law School a Losing Game?

IF there is ever a class in how to remain calm while trapped beneath $250,000 in loans, Michael Wallerstein ought to teach it.

Here he is, sitting one afternoon at a restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, a tall, sandy-haired, 27-year-old radiating a kind of surfer-dude serenity. His secret, if that’s the right word, is to pretty much ignore all the calls and letters that he receives every day from the dozen or so creditors now hounding him for cash.

“And I don’t open the e-mail alerts with my credit score,” he adds. “I can’t look at my credit score any more.”

Mr. Wallerstein, who can’t afford to pay down interest and thus watches the outstanding loan balance grow, is in roughly the same financial hell as people who bought more home than they could afford during the real estate boom. But creditors can’t foreclose on him because he didn’t spend the money on a house.

He spent it on a law degree. And from every angle, this now looks like a catastrophic investment.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/business/09law.html?pagewanted=all
 
  • #4
Moonbear
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I heard discussions about that a few months ago, or maybe my boyfriend (a lawyer) told me about it. I know I've discussed it with him. In part, he agreed that they are pretty misleading about what they tell students to recruit them. On the other hand, some of the onus is on the students too to research their career prospects. You might use student success stories to choose WHICH school you attend, but the decision to attend school for any particular profession is made by the student. And, whatever the job market is when you're applying never guarantees the same job market when you graduate, or that you'll stand out sufficiently from all of the other applicants to be the one to get the top jobs.

In these cases, they're faulting the schools for hiring their own graduates? Employment is employment. If they wanted details of WHERE graduates were working, or the salaries they were earning, they should have asked for them.
 
  • #5
Evo
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I heard discussions about that a few months ago, or maybe my boyfriend (a lawyer) told me about it. I know I've discussed it with him. In part, he agreed that they are pretty misleading about what they tell students to recruit them. On the other hand, some of the onus is on the students too to research their career prospects. You might use student success stories to choose WHICH school you attend, but the decision to attend school for any particular profession is made by the student. And, whatever the job market is when you're applying never guarantees the same job market when you graduate, or that you'll stand out sufficiently from all of the other applicants to be the one to get the top jobs.

In these cases, they're faulting the schools for hiring their own graduates? Employment is employment. If they wanted details of WHERE graduates were working, or the salaries they were earning, they should have asked for them.
Exactly, do your homework. You want to go to law school yet you can't spend a couple of days finding out what is realistic, or projections not printed in a recruting pamphlet? That goes for any field.
 
  • #6
SixNein
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Exactly, do your homework. You want to go to law school yet you can't spend a couple of days finding out what is realistic, or projections not printed in a recruting pamphlet? That goes for any field.
Do you think the STEM push is over-blown?

How many of each does the nation need?

I hear people say we need more mathematicians and engineers all the time. I have yet to see someone present an argument on why we need more mathematicians and what type of mathematicians do they think are needed.
 
  • #7
Moonbear
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Do you think the STEM push is over-blown?

How many of each does the nation need?

I hear people say we need more mathematicians and engineers all the time. I have yet to see someone present an argument on why we need more mathematicians and what type of mathematicians do they think are needed.
Right now? It entirely depends on your field of specialization. The problem is that if you find a field that has a shortage of people entering it, so is highly employable now, in 4 or 5 years time, everyone else who read the same news is then flooding the market, still leaving a lot unemployable when they graduate.

My best advice would be to get as much breadth of education as possible, and be flexible with your career options and have back-up plans. A lot of people are using a college education or grad school to avoid dealing with finding a job right now. I don't know if that's going to help them be more employable later, or just add to the growing numbers of unemployed college graduates with more debt. College is never a guarantee of employment, it just gives you more of a chance if you're a good student. The more breadth of education you have, the more chance you'll find some job to fit your skill set.

With law school, the type of law you practice also makes a huge difference not only in how many jobs are available, but whether you'll even earn enough to pay back loans. A lot of "do-gooders" will want to specialize in things like environmental law, or criminal law, but there's no money in that unless you happen to represent O.J. The best money is in the "sell your soul" fields, like corporate law.
 
  • #8
SixNein
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Right now? It entirely depends on your field of specialization. The problem is that if you find a field that has a shortage of people entering it, so is highly employable now, in 4 or 5 years time, everyone else who read the same news is then flooding the market, still leaving a lot unemployable when they graduate.

My best advice would be to get as much breadth of education as possible, and be flexible with your career options and have back-up plans. A lot of people are using a college education or grad school to avoid dealing with finding a job right now. I don't know if that's going to help them be more employable later, or just add to the growing numbers of unemployed college graduates with more debt. College is never a guarantee of employment, it just gives you more of a chance if you're a good student. The more breadth of education you have, the more chance you'll find some job to fit your skill set.

With law school, the type of law you practice also makes a huge difference not only in how many jobs are available, but whether you'll even earn enough to pay back loans. A lot of "do-gooders" will want to specialize in things like environmental law, or criminal law, but there's no money in that unless you happen to represent O.J. The best money is in the "sell your soul" fields, like corporate law.

I'm not one for conspiracy theories; however, some of these calls seem to be about increasing the labour supply so that people can be hired cheaper.
 
  • #9
FlexGunship
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Is this really what higher education in our system has become? The students probably won't win, but at least they are increasingly raising awareness and do have a point:

http://news.yahoo.com/graduates-accuse-law-schools-scamming-students-021529890.html [Broken]
Law school: "Well, congratulations on graduating from college! Here's your new law degree. What will you do with it first?"
Student: "Sue this stupid school for not preparing me for the real world."
Law school: "Wait..."
Student: "Oh yeah! Hey, awesome! Thanks!"
Law school: "Hah, sure... so you're not going to..."
Student: "Oh, heck yeah, I'm still suing you."
 
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  • #10
Vanadium 50
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Exactly, do your homework. You want to go to law school yet you can't spend a couple of days finding out what is realistic, or projections not printed in a recruting pamphlet? That goes for any field.
But is this realistic? We have physics PhDs who post messages saying "I don't want to work in computers, defense, oil or finance, and I have to live in Billings, Montana. This degree is useless!"
 
  • #11
FlexGunship
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But is this realistic? We have physics PhDs who post messages saying "I don't want to work in computers, defense, oil or finance, and I have to live in Billings, Montana. This degree is useless!"
Is that a measure of the "system" or of the people? If you don't have a plan, then you certainly can't complain when things don't go according to the plan.
 
  • #12
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But is this realistic? We have physics PhDs who post messages saying "I don't want to work in computers, defense, oil or finance, and I have to live in Billings, Montana. This degree is useless!"
It seems rather obvious to me that the majority of jobs (really for a lot of majors) would be in those fields.
 
  • #13
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In response to the lawsuit, I hope they do make some headway at the issue. I think the school should be punished for these misleading statistics.

Even if practically the students should have done more research, they don't have any legal obligation to, so I'm not sure that means anything in a courtroom.
 
  • #14
Evo
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But is this realistic? We have physics PhDs who post messages saying "I don't want to work in computers, defense, oil or finance, and I have to live in Billings, Montana. This degree is useless!"
That would be a personal issue, not a problem with the field or the school.
 
  • #15
BobG
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But is this realistic? We have physics PhDs who post messages saying "I don't want to work in computers, defense, oil or finance, and I have to live in Billings, Montana. This degree is useless!"
How realistic is it to allow a 17-year-old or 18-year-old to decide what they want to do for the rest of their life?

I'm amazed at how many people pick a career because it supposedly pays well, and then wish they'd never gone into that field by time they get their degree - before they've even had a job in their chosen profession. Actually, my dad spent nearly his entire adult life working as a chemical engineer and never enjoyed what he did (his attitude was that was why they called it work).

Given that, I guess lying about the job prospects and salary is even more egregious. Some of those guys might have been better off selling paintings in the park or starting a business cleaning up the mess left behind at crime scenes. At least they'd be doing something they actually enjoyed doing.

A lot of people get their priorities wrong. Spend your life doing something you actually enjoy and adjust your lifestyle accordingly.
 
  • #16
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I wonder if one could not say the same about stem.
At least with regards to anything related to biology or chemically related to biology, I'd have to say yes. I really have no friggin clue how the BLS expects good job growth with regards to bio-related careers, it is absolutely awful out there right now. Many positions offered for both biologists and chemists are nothing more than temp gigs these days that underpay or offer little or no benefits. Biotech is also notoriously unstable and has been getting torched for a while now. There's an insane amount of competition for the scrap of jobs left in biotech that do offer a livable wage with benefits. New grads hardly stand a chance against some of the pedigrees they're up against. The whole shortage of qualified individuals in stem--at least biologically related fields--is quite overblown. There's not a shortage of labor supply, there's a huge shortage of jobs. Sometimes I wonder what I'll do for the rest of my life. I don't think I'll ever own a house because I'll be constantly getting axed in biotech and will have to be able to freely move around every 5 years or so in order to find another job. I don't think I'll ever retire because I'll still be paying off student loans until I'm 40 or 50 due to chronic un/underemployment which eats up a large portion of potential 401k savings. I just started my PhD program in BME and I kind of regret it already because I know it will be insanely difficult for me when I get out. Maybe I'll just move to Cambodia and open up a bar...
 
  • #17
SixNein
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At least with regards to anything related to biology or chemically related to biology, I'd have to say yes. I really have no friggin clue how the BLS expects good job growth with regards to bio-related careers, it is absolutely awful out there right now. Many positions offered for both biologists and chemists are nothing more than temp gigs these days that underpay or offer little or no benefits. Biotech is also notoriously unstable and has been getting torched for a while now. There's an insane amount of competition for the scrap of jobs left in biotech that do offer a livable wage with benefits. New grads hardly stand a chance against some of the pedigrees they're up against. The whole shortage of qualified individuals in stem--at least biologically related fields--is quite overblown. There's not a shortage of labor supply, there's a huge shortage of jobs. Sometimes I wonder what I'll do for the rest of my life. I don't think I'll ever own a house because I'll be constantly getting axed in biotech and will have to be able to freely move around every 5 years or so in order to find another job. I don't think I'll ever retire because I'll still be paying off student loans until I'm 40 or 50 due to chronic un/underemployment which eats up a large portion of potential 401k savings. I just started my PhD program in BME and I kind of regret it already because I know it will be insanely difficult for me when I get out. Maybe I'll just move to Cambodia and open up a bar...
Don't feel bad. I'm a mathematics major, The difference between a mathematician and a pizza is a pizza can feed a family of four. lol

I am picking up a dual in computer science.
 
  • #18
turbo
Gold Member
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How realistic is it to allow a 17-year-old or 18-year-old to decide what they want to do for the rest of their life?

I'm amazed at how many people pick a career because it supposedly pays well, and then wish they'd never gone into that field by time they get their degree - before they've even had a job in their chosen profession. Actually, my dad spent nearly his entire adult life working as a chemical engineer and never enjoyed what he did (his attitude was that was why they called it work).
I hated the grind of Chem E in college and switched. The interesting part was that I actually enjoyed that work in the pulp and paper industry and got a lot of contracts as a consultant as a result. I had to turn down work and was busier than I really wanted because I kept thinking that work would slow down (it never did).
 
  • #19
DoggerDan
While I was working on my masters and interviewing for my second career, I grew increasingly aware of certain aspects of the system of higher education in the U.S. Probably elsewhere, too, but here's what I observed:

1. The more a degree is advertised in media, the less likely it's something employers really want, need, or are willing to pay extra.

2. Most science/technical degrees tend to limit your employment opportunities.

3. MBAs are good for opening up your job prospects, but only if you've got some serious experience to back it up.

4. Many HR departments are wary of hiring folks with "all the right credentials." They'd rather hire folks who work well with others, have proven track records, who can get the job done well while working within the constraints.
 
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  • #20
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I'm sure I speak for most people when I say that I sympathize with these lawyers. As for myself, I'm suing my school too. My degree is in Mathematics, but I never found work as a Mathematician. I was forced to work as a computer programmer my whole career even though programming was originally just a hobby for me.
 
  • #21
growing scrutiny over whether law schools across the country are deliberately concealing the truth about their graduates' employment and salary in order to enroll more students despite their dismal job prospects.
Among the tactics allegedly employed by the schools were misclassifying graduates with temporary or part-time jobs as "fully" employed, omitting information about graduates who didn't respond to employment surveys, and creating post-graduate job programs to hire their own graduates.
The school I was working at did this. Their accreditation was suspended while they were investigated and went through steps to clean up their mess. This came out in the media while many students were getting ready to start their first semester. Most didn't show and several that had already arrived turned around and went home. Enrollment suffered a lot after that even though they eventually got back their accreditation and a few years later the school didn't exist any more.
 

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