This blog is about living the American Dream at the dawn of the new millennium! I am a nameless, mid-20s, bottom 150 Law School Graduate who finds himself marginally attached and awash in a sea of overeducated but underpaid, indentured peers who feel, and were, duped by the promise of a better life through debt and modern chemistry. Let's get to the point. The Law School Industrial Complex is a scam that has destroyed a generation out of greed. Vendettas were once legal and the pursuit of one was seen not only as moral, but necessary. This newly minted lawyer is going to continue the practice. DON'T GO TO LAW SCHOOL YOU MORONS! Ce qui suit est ce qui reste!

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Paper Chase Warned Us

Almost everyone who has gone to law school in the past few decades will inevitably come across, or have someone mention to them and ask more about it, some item of pop culture about law school/the legal profession.  In fact, many schools have saved Zero Lemmings the trouble and simply handed out copies of Scott Turow's One L with orientation (although a friend who went top tier and told me that she received a copy did so pre-Great Recession so who knows if they're still doing it...based on the amount they're overcharging the the idiots that keep enrolling I'll bet law schools are doing just fine).  As the unimaginative worm great intellectual that is the typical law student evolves from the raping of any future dreams  law school into  the unemployment line with a lifetime of debt solo practice, that list of culturally relevant media also evolves (for several reasons I may cover in a future post, My Cousin Vinny is the favorite amongst every practicing attorney I have met).

Now, I happened upon the 1970's movie The Paper Chase mostly because my parents, two successful baby boomer professionals who idolized higher ed and therefore made it mandatory for my siblings and I upon exiting the womb lest we be uninvited to any future holiday dinners, remembered it as being one of the hot movies when they were in graduate school.  In fact, I quite enjoyed The Paper Chase when I saw it for the first time after being accepted to a puppy mill littered with neglected corpses  my prestigious alma mater.  Unfortunately, I burned my dvd copy of the movie along with my "interview" tie in a trash can on the streets with a homeless Operation Iraqi Freedom Vet my fireplace to stay alive this past winter (as I realized that both items were of little use to me).

First years are hard years, much more than we know
But good friends to love us, we'll build every road
Stay open to all things: unknown and new
And one day we'll all say, "Hey look we've come through!"
"Hey look we've come through!"
And one day we'll all say, "Hey look we've come through!"
The first year...

Are you fucking kidding me?! They went all in on this shit & made a tv show of it?! FOR FOUR FUCKING SEASONS?! HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!!  

I don't even know where to start with this horseshit...Actually yes I do, is the asshole singing the ridiculous Paper Chase Series theme song the same one from the Rankin/Bass Hobbit movies?!

Hold on, I need to vomit into my own asshole so that I can feel something more enjoyable than this.

If this show had aired when I was going through the hell of law school, I would have driven to my local affiliate station and taken down their transmitters with an axe.  I've never seen it, but I can tell from the few clips on the net that it would either make me laugh uncontrollably from being so far off base or make me weep with regret.  Either way, I don't think that it'd be a good thing to do in the place where I'm stealing my WiFi (also where I spend most of my time as I am effectively homeless unlike some of the people in here who are literally homeless).  Also, Mr. Show did a much better attempt at showing the insanity of a law class:

However, I have seen the movie version so let's revisit that shall we?  The Paper Chase follows the trials and tribulations of a young, idealistic Midwesterner in his first year of Law School at the greatest place of learning ever known to man and the cosmos, Harvard Law School!!!  The viewer gets to follow young James Hart, hardy har har I get it Hart = Heart = Soul/Normal Person...right, as he faces the trials and tribulations of memorizing and being tested on huge amounts of useless, mind numbing case law in the most obtuse way so as to destroy common sense make him "think like a lawyer" (if Doctors learned this way, we'd all be dead).

Oh Shit! Looks at the balls on that one! He asserted himself like a...uh...oh like a lawyer! THIS MOVIE IS AWESOME JUST LIKE LAW SCHOOL!  In reality though, no law student on earth would ever do that, nor would any of the professors I've ever come across take an insult like that in stride.

In the movie, Hart interacts with 4 entities: his professor, his girlfriend, older law students, and his study group:

I guess calling someone a pimp was offensive back then. And yes, there were people in my class who would do things like make an outline that was longer than the actual book...they didn't do very well.

No...really. Watch the movie.  Hart does not say a single word to anyone who isn't affiliated with the law school (but for the hotel manager during exams when his friend Ford threatens to burn down the hotel and he then threatens to call the newspapers telling them that they're running a drug smuggling ring out of their room).  All of the law school people that Hart does interact with are depicted as either shallow stereotypes or meaningless throwaways.  Even Susan, who is supposed to be the emotional core of the film that draws Hart back into the world of the living, is pretty bitchy for most of it.  This lack of real world interaction is important in showing the lack of normalcy because "learning the law" consumes his every waking moment.  The possibility of any outside interaction is like someone in hell dreaming of heaven.

Guess what Zero Lemming?  That's what it'll probably be like for you too!!!  I was lucky that I happened to find and become friends with the few actual human beings in my school who found themselves similarly surrounded by nutjobs (they also passed the bar in terms of people whose friendship & company I would have sought out pre & post law school).  Not surprisingly, all of the people I became friends with were older than me and had lives/careers/families outside of law school that kept them grounded (and if it hadn't been for their friendship & support through the years I probably would have succumbed to my depression demons and killed myself as it may frequently cross your mind through school & its actually a part of the plot for one character in The Paper Chase).  Interestingly, I'm actually still close with my friends from law school whereas a lot of my classmates seem to have let their strategic alliances connections fall to the wayside upon graduation...hmmmmn that's odd...

As I see it, the failure of the movie is that everyone seems to miss the entire god damn point.  If Zero Lemmings watched the movie before Law School & understood its central message, then they would have said to themselves, "Fuck this, I'm going to learn how to do trim carpentry." 

The key scene, and where the title of the film comes from, takes place a little over halfway through the movie in a grocery store where Hart tries to explain his frustrations with Susan.  Hart blew her off to spend all weekend in his dorm, really living in a dorm?, and the library working on a "special" project for his Contracts professor (you'd be amazed at the number of kiss ass assignments that law students are willing to do for a prof's article in the hopes that it will somehow land them a job...didn't work for anyone I knew).

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a clip of the scene but here's a transcript:

Hart:  We could uh go to the Cape next weekend!
Susan: WE aren't going anywhere. Christ.
Hart:  I wish you wouldn't treat me like this I haven't had a decent meal in four days...I haven't had any sleep! Susan! Look he tested me, I failed. I worked so god damn hard on that paper...Well he may flunk me!
Susan: They finally gotcha didn't they Hart? They sucked all that Midwestern charm right out of you. Look, he's got you scared to death. Oh you're going to pass, because you're the kind the law school wants.  You'll get your little diploma, your piece of paper *reaches for toilet paper roll* That's no different than this *motions to toilet paper* and you can stick it in your silver box with all the other paper in your life! Your birth certificate, driver's license, marriage license, your stock certificates, and your will. Excuse me.
Hart:  You don't even care...
Susan:  I wish you would flunk there might be some hope for you.

Get it?  The Paper Chase?  Incidentally, Susan is chasing her own piece of paper in the movie...a finalized divorce from her husband who was a Harvard Law Student who subsequently cracked and lost his marbles.

*Sidenote, if I had the chance to hate fuck the living shit out of a professor's daughter as revenge for having to sit through the class date a professor's daughter, I wouldn't be anywhere near conflicted about it as Hart makes out to be in the film (he also has a quasi-homosexual idolization of his Ktracts professor that you sometimes get with the more rodent like law students that Susan comments on at one point in the film).  Throughout the movie, Susan tries to shatter some of Hart's misconceptions about the law and the experience of law school (as she should know having had a husband who went through it and whose father is the embodiment of the institution).  Having also gone through law school, I can say with confidence that from all of my moments on this Earth, the ones that mattered the most did not come with a piece of paper.

As the main character Hart finally realizes at the end.  If you get an acceptance letter from any postgrad/law school you should follow Hart's example:


Saturday, May 22, 2010


"You have undertaken to cheat me. I won't sue you, for the law is too slow. I'll ruin you." ~ Cornelius Vanderbilt, aka The Commodore

Why yes, plucky blog follower, it has been a bit since Part 1 of the Robber Barons.  The cause for the delay you wonder?  Well I am now in place number 4 in a little over a year since graduating in search of work, and when I say place I mean city/state & not as in I went from NYC to Jersey either...more like one side of the country to another, I was preoccupied with other things (like finding a place to park my car overnight for free where I can sleep in it on the down low).  In addition I had to let the duct tape set and heal over my injured hands & wounds so as I could actually type without considerable pain (driving under above mentioned conditions also makes for great fun!). *Coincidentally, my situation is relatively fantastic compared to many of my friends, people I've met, the horror stories, and the lives of some of my former clients who I was honored to help when I had the opportunity, see below.


*Above is basically what I did last Thursday for several hours to no effect.

But I onto Robber Barons Part 2!!!

"Our aim is not to do away with corporations; on the contrary, these big aggregations are an inevitable development of modern industrialism, and the effort to destroy them would be futile unless accomplished in ways that would work the utmost mischief to the entire body politic. We can do nothing of good in the way of regulating and supervising these corporations until we fix clearly in our minds that we are not attacking the corporations, but endeavoring to do away with any evil in them. We are not hostile to them; we are merely determined that they shall be so handled as to subserve the public good. We draw the line against misconduct, not against wealth." ~ Teddy Roosevelt

There's a beautiful island off of the coast of Georgia named Jekyll Island that is symbolic of the era that spawned it.  In fact, it's so beautiful it has been used as a location for several movies (Glory & Legend of Bagger Vance to name a couple).  But it's also an island that has a fascinating and pertinent history to discuss regarding Robber Barons (also considering the modern era).  *Also, before continuing, I need to point out that this place and some of the events I will describe have been a source for conspiracy theories.  Normally, I wouldn't have to mention this in my typical essays but, as I am posting this on the internet, I'm required to point out that those conspiracy theories are fucking insane and I give them no weight whatsoever.  Otherwise, historical fact and relevance may be unfairly prejudiced by loons, nuts and the kind of people who first flocked to the internet as a vehicle for dissemination of ideas. Or just useless shills...*See MSU pro-lawschool bloggers.

One of the many things that Wikipedia, don't use this as a primary source kids, leaves out about Jekyll Island, also something I doubt that you learned about the island if you even knew it existed, is the following... At the height of Jekyll's popularity and prominence, the era is poetically known as the Gilded Age after the Mark Twain story, when the island's hotels & villas were fully occupied/a couple hundred members on it, one fifth of the world's wealth was there.  Let me repeat that because it's important.

A few hundred people controlled 20 Percent of all the wealth in the world...

The "members" and residents included captains of industry I mean white collar criminals Robber Barons like Vanderbilt and J.P. Morgan (as well as other usual suspects).  They'd often park their ridiculous yachts and steamers off of the coast (Look for pictures, these guys got into a pissing contest over who was the bigger pimp via their boats).  It may also be fun for some of you indoctrinated sheeple educated readers to read over Veblen's theory, taken from his book Theory of the Leisure Class which you can skip reading as he couldn't write for shit, on Conspicuous Consumption.  Veblen's theory eventually became the genesis for a whole branch of sociological theory, unfortunately popular amongst Marxists, but he created during the Gilded Age after seeing the excesses of the era.*See below for modern interpretation.

*Incidentally, Louis Vuitton, the man, was a notorious anti-Semite, meaning he hates the Jew, so I always find it ironic when wealthy Jewish girls/law students & lawyers/celebrities are seen idolizing those stupid bags per Veblen's theory.  Then again, Hugo Boss designed the SS and other Nazi uniforms and he's still pretty popular. For a fun and more in depth look at the bullshit and business surrounding such luxury items see Dana Thomas' Deluxe.

Now there are a number of different explanations for why such accumulation of wealth was even possible and each wing of the political spectrum certainly has their own take.  Total fucking morons some would say that it's because those few hundred had earned it by working hard and being ingenious providing valuable products and services to a desirous market...and that I make this point out of sheer jealousy.  Consider this, if making a giant fucking fortune from what could charitably be called "underhanded methods" at best that much money is due solely to personal attributes rather than numerous, unpredictable factors why aren't the richest people in the world economists who should be more adept than your average bear in such matters?  Much like how we expect lawyers to know the law & practice the law. *See fundamental attribution error, a couple other important cognitive biases, and logical fallacies.

My view is that it's largely the result of arbitrary compensation structures, by that I mean a decision making paradigm/reward system based on culture & politics, rather than say the actual difficulty of the work involved or the value to the society.  The seminal behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner raised a shitstorm several decades ago when he published a hypothetical treatise on what he believed a more sensible economic system would look like in a logical society.  Also let's be clear---I'm not a communist, although some of those former communist countries seem to be doing pretty well.  I'm a true free market capitalist who believes in competition...although the world's wealthiest always seem to label themselves as such when it's really not the case in history or practice of their fortunes.*See basically every corporation's history going back to East India Trading).

"Awww," says Audrey, "Such a whiny bitch! Only a sore loser would question our economy!"

So what's the problem with that kind of wealth, which is really just one of many different types of power, attributed in a few people...isn't it the natural consequence of our glorious economy?  Whenever I turn on the mainstream teevee god, it tells me that it's the outcome of the greatest system from the greatest country ever, fucking ever.  Well this guy writing for the Wall Street Journal's Blog isn't so sure and isn't the first to mention it.

*BTW, when the movie version of this musical was released President Nixon used his influence to have this removed from the film for being a slight against conservative ideology.  True story, Nixon thought this borderline propaganda musical wasn't patriotic enough...Although, in fairness 1776 is filled with historical inaccuracies and mischaracterizations of people and views...but it may very well be true that "Most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of being rich than face the reality of being poor."

Edward Wolff, who is at NYU--home of one of my other favoritest smart people ever William Easterly, talks about the issue in this interview from 2003 pre-Great Recession.

Here's another article from 2006 talking about the "Wealth Gap" which has only gotten worse post-Great Recession.

As I've mentioned before, study after study shows that such a gap is a notorious predictor of instability within a society.  Back during the Gilded Age, it was far more common for the average person or what some would call the type of people who consider/went to law school in the present day "unfortunates" to end up like this rather than a Robber Baron no matter how smart or how hard they worked or how much opportunity existed in the market:

But really, why would someone with that kind of job complain?  Isn't that the kind of life every parent hopes for their child?

The interesting thing is that the kind of life depicted above has largely been eradicated in our country when it was once the norm (*See every 2nd or 3rd world country that makes your shit from every store you shop at...yeah even Apple you Hipster Fucks).  It just doesn't exist here in the U.S. of Assholes anymore because we're morally just (well kinda does but in isolated places).

When a single human being has that much influence over others, whether it be economic, spiritual, political, etc., tyranny and oppression is the inevitable result (Hey Plato! Fuck your Philosopher King!).  Well how come it stopped when everyone just let it happen?  As Frederick Douglass, one of my many heroes, once noted:

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what a people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

The era of our modern lives the Robber Barons and the Gilded Age, gilded for those who had the wealth, led to the era of Liberal evil Progressive Reform and commie villains Labor Unions who used every ounce of their being to do just what Douglass described in regards to slavery.  The Gilded Age was not just the era of ridiculous riches but also the era of the internet & blogs as mainstream press are fucking useless Muckraking journalists who exposed the ills and abuses of corporations, hedge funds, & brokers trusts, monopolies, and industries.  It wasn't just about accumulation of wealth but the quality of life and the iPad is bullshit product that was put out during this time (*See other industrializing nations' quality control problems like China with Lead Toys).  

The reformers eventually got a class traitor champion who used the power of his office to start a positive change that would lead to even greater reforms (as Teddy's predecessor Taft actually "busted" far more trusts and monopolies during his administration than Teddy ever did).  When he was serving in the Rough Riders in Cuba during the Spanish American War, he opened a can of rotten meat from a US company that had been dyed with food colors to look edible.  This experience, amongst many other internal epiphanies, led Teddy to say "Alright, enough is enough. Time for some common fucking decency."

You there! The overpaid asshole in the bowler hat & monocle! I'm going to beat the fuck out of you for the good of the country!

Well, given the current situation...I'm sure that any day now our current President will follow Teddy's lead in one of the many areas ripe for such a champion.  I'm sure that he'll prove that his campaign--full of energy, promise, hope & vigor---wasn't just a bunch of bullshit. I'm sure any day now he'll take a real stand...on all.  He's probably just waiting for the right opportunity...

Nope. I'm just trying to row the boat motherfucker.

It's not like there's a huge fucking environmental disaster, like say an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, that someone like Teddy would be all over every day of his term...*Dirty trade secret, I may actually get a legal job because of that makes me feel dirty on the soul but who fucking cares money pays! Robber Baron-dom here I come!

P.S. Any pro-Obama or anti-Obama comment or email I get will likely be deleted. I'm not making or inviting political debate I merely used him as a rhetorical prop.

TILL NEXT TIME, Hot like Mexico! Don't call my name, don't call my name! AAAAANNND...

Monday, May 17, 2010

ROBBER BARONS!!! Past is Prologue, Part 1

"Law? Who cares about law! Hain't I got the power?" ~ Cornelius Vanderbilt, actual quote from the 3rd richest person to ever live (proportionately)

I was going to post this sooner but I was in a slight accident & injured several parts of my body (including both hands).  As I do not have insurance, I had to take care of it like Bruce Willis in Die Hard with some alcohol, duct tape and American grit (jk lol I'm actually Québécois).  Unfortunately, it is harder to type with injured hands despite what this lengthy prelude would suggest. (*see below for what led up to the injuries)

There's a scene in Michael Crichton's book Timeline, which was left out of the abysmal film adaptation, where some of the grad students have dinner with some American friends who are "stock traders."  For those of you who haven't read the book, the grad students in the book are idiots who decided to pursue advanced degrees in the humanities doing research an a medieval town in rural France and end up there via time travel.  The traders come across as fraternity douche bags, but that's neither here nor there.  One character calls the traders "temporal provincials--people who were ignorant of the past, and proud of it...convinced that the present was the only time that mattered, and that anything that had occurred earlier could be safely ignored."

In a drawn out way, much like myself, the character makes a note that knowledge of history can be extremely useful.  He says "These stockbrokers owed the very notion of a market economy to the Middle Ages. And if they didn't know that, then they didn't know the basic facts of who they were. Why they did what they did. Where they had come from."

Which brings me to...

ROBBER BARONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

God damn, it's good to be richer than fucking anyone ever!

Originally, Robber Barons, or the original Raubritter, were asshole nobles in the middle ages that fucked with people by overcharging them for crossing a river.  In America, it became popularized by Midwestern farmers in the late 1800's referring to similar assholes who overcharged the farmers to transport crops on the railroads. (*See below, for some some modern ones)

Believe the anti-China stories the American press puts out all you want but if the Gulf spill happened in China, these guys would have been put to death by now (go look up what the Chinese Govt does to officials who screw things up on such a massive level, start w/ milk tainting scandal).

Eventually, the American robber baron became an archetype or sign, or if you hate semiotics how about the more well known/half-ass version called a meme, for any industrialist/CEO/captain of industry who had the same social status long ago as say today's pedophiles do on Dateline's To Catch a Predator. (see below)

Well that and your noticeable lack of a suit and/or top hat.

This post actually comes out of something Mon. Angry Future Ex Pat wrote in one post,

"If you can think of a historical analogue to this state of affairs globally, I’d love to hear it – even the great depression really only lasted from 1929-1933, with a with a relapse from 1938 until WWII kicked into gear."

AFEP uses numbers, figures, and data in a lot of informative posts about how fucked the majority of Western Civilization is compared to me (obviously if I were better at math I wouldn't be here would I?).  Unfortunately, my brain usually shuts off after a certain amount of math or economics (which is also a problem for our larger society as a whole and how this shit keeps happening).  However, economies and epochs in history are not just numbers and figures but a set of social relations and rules that govern interactions on multiple level (economics is an excellent way to quantify such transactions over time).  And there are non-math magic things that I happen to be good at (oO grammar!).

So here's my working thesis:

"The current global economy/culture is actually the result of social regression.  Over the past several decades, we have seen a relapse in America to the time period of 1860-1900 (aka post Civil War & Pre-WWI specifically).  Our time bears more striking similarities to this period than any other time in history."

When making analogies or comparisons to the current state of the economy and world events, the media and everyone else seems to jump right to the Great Depression [as a historian friend lamented to me it's probably because 1) the media are ignorant jackasses 2) they have a lot more photographs and video of the Great Depression to do narration over 3) the collective conscious doesn't have a good sense of history].  I'm surprised no one has really written about this topic in more detail.  The Robber Baron/Industrial Age is usually one of those periods that gets lip service/a couple sentences in the general education classes that you college taught readers had in between your very important pre-law/business/polisci/communications--lol type classes.  They'll hit the big notes about expansion etc., but they skip a lot of the really good sociological details that make book learning fun.

For example, in the 1860s the Southern Literary Messenger wrote a few fantasy stories about what they predicted life would be like in the far off future of 2029.  One of these stories featured a female protagonist Miss Jane Delaware Peyton, oh look lots of names to signify that you're not a commoner...don't a lot of attorneys do that too? Oh right Duane...sigh, who travels from one side of the country to the other in 8 days on a train topping speeds of 60 miles an hour! Holy Shit that's fast!

Unfortunately, such high speed travel comes at a price.  Including the illness known as "Tourbilliere" which was caused by high speed travel over great distances.  With Tourbilliere, the travelers' perception accelerates but their memories lapse so, "the mind loses an idea almost as soon as it has been formed."  In order to cope, the passengers, especially the weak minded womenfolk, would disembark from their trains and sit quietly at a terminal until the symptoms went away (although many would say that women should always sit quietly).

Relevance? Anyone heard of jet lag?  The mysterious condition that so many commonly experience & every ass clown seems to have a pseudo-scientific solution for?  It's petty but fun.  The more you learn about life, expectations, world views and beliefs of people in this time period the more you look around today's world and

For example, it's clear that everywhere you turn the "numbers" show the breadth and scope of how bad things are for the average plebe but especially recent grads.

Here's a fun chart on the Wall Street Journal's website giving month to month year to year of the unemployment since 1948.  The best part of this chart is how rosy a picture it paints, comparitively, as they don't go into detail about the numerous errors made in data collection that may be clouding the real trends (i.e., underemployment/nonparticipants/etc.)

By the way, things are going to get worse before they get better for the younglings in the coming years...GOOD LUCK CLASS OF 2010!!!! (*See below)

But this chart is far more entertaining and pertinent to my thesis - this chart shows the wage gap between say you're average worker compared to the CEO of some of the most awesome corporations today

Guess where you have to go back to find this kind of disparity in distribution?

In the 1890's, the average college educated unskilled or semiskilled worker would earn about $1.50 a day for a 10 hour workday (whereas a postgrad "skilled" one would earn about twice that).  Compare this to Andrew Carnegie who made $40 million dollars in the year 1900.

Other fun tidbits, the term unemployment literally comes from the late 1800's.  It was also common for workers to be out of a job at least 3 or 4 months a year even when the economy was "booming" according to the precursors to bullshit the GDP.

Hopefully this will arouse your interest for more details in Part 2 of the series....

So, stay tuned for Part 2!!! And until next time John D. Rockefeller says, "I would rather earn 1% off a 100 people's efforts than 100% of my own efforts."

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fight Club!

"If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don't you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can't think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all that claim it? Do you read everything you're supposed to read? Do you think every thing you're supposed to think? Buy what you're told to want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you're alive. If you don't claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned." ~ Tyler Durden

*Sidenote, If she thinks she got fucked hard in grade school, she is missing out! Go to an Any-Tier Toilet Law School for a real hardcore, ass pounding, curled in a fetal position in the corner shaking, bleeding like a BP offshore oil platform from every hole kind of fuck. You know the kind of brutal, exploitative rape fucking that would disgust Andrea Dworkin to the point of starting a picket line, but I digress.

Now that I got that much obscenity out of my system, let's continue.  When I first started this blog, I knew that bringing up Fight Club was inevitable.  In fact, the parallels are so blatant and obvious I'm surprised someone else hasn't already referenced it (maybe they did and I just missed it).  The other troubling aspect is that it seems to raise more questions than answers (oO you're deep!).  It's really just rambling peppered with Fight Club references, quotations and imagery. *Apologies to Angry Future Expat, the post I promised is on its way but I'd already finished this one.

Of course, the novel and movie version of Fight Club came out over a decade ago, but I think it speaks to the situation of the Indentured Mind Servants "Millenials," or whatever you want to call us, far more than it did to readers back then (I'm pretty sure a lot of people reading this would gladly welcome the kind of mid-1990s job market that led to the "rampant materialistic consumerism," like fulfilling basic needs, that Tyler Durden rails against in a heartbeat).

The tale of the Edward Norton/Jack/Narrator is easily related to by many who write or read these last outlets of factual truth blogs (hopefully without the insomnia driven psychotic split from reality).  Jack felt stuck, lost, disconnected, as if his life had no meaning, blah blah blah.  Jack became desperate for a higher purpose/meaning/calling with his life. It has a lot to do with identity issues (see here).

The vast majority who go into higher ed, whether its law school or something else, find themselves in Jack's place at the beginning of the story (hopefully without the insomnia caused psychotic split from reality).  Like Jack, you're in a bit of an existential crisis and you decide to attend graduate school, instead of a fight club, in the hopes that it leads to a "better" life.

As powerfully put by Tyler Durden in Fight Club:

Or for a music video interpretation see below...

(Also check out this month's May "Women" issue of Esquire with Christina Hendricks the reincarnated Greek goddess of cleavage to see what I mean (save the money though and just read it at a newstand).  Turn to page 92 where it has the profile and quote from twelve women who are 27 years old.  All of them have positive, witty, or upbeat takes on their life except for one---- Carissa Fox/Law Student: "I always had this dream of being an overhyped starlet. That I'm not is rather disheartening."  She's also the one whose facial expression is the most insincere).

*btw, this message is also unifying & supposedly liberating, in some ways. As these blogs point out there's a sense of community from so many of us being equally screwed.

The question that I keep coming back to is whether we brought this current predicament onto ourselves? 

Here is something to consider:

We're an unprecedentedly narcissistic generation, here is two other psychologists take on it using data  (There's also seems to be a collective occurrence of "relative deprivation" going on right now, but I'm dumbing everything down because this is the internet , I didn't come here to do journal quality work; facts don't really seem to matter to most of the Lemming/Apologist trolls out there);

But just because we're more self-obsessed than previous generations doesn't really let the Profiteers out there get off the hook.

The other question I have is what now?

We've now got an entire lost generation bunch of people who went down the higher ed path and came out of the other side with the same existential dilemma (or even worse problems than before).  All of these people who lost years of their lives, huge sums of money in order to get a degree only to end up right back where they started or even further back on the board game of life.

Esquire ran a piece by one of the hipster gods, Chuck Klosterman, on the likelihood of "revolution" in America a couple years ago because of political developments.  I don't know whether this Great Recession/Education Crash will actually lead to a "revolution" or "rebellion," but there's a lot of literature that shows it's a pretty good indicator for an unstable society.  Speaking of an education bubble, how'd that shit get started?

We'll never get any studies that can positively identify the cause/causes of why more people took the LSAT last fall than ever before (I don't remember the exact figure but it was sickening).  However, based on my powerful intuition, I would bet a couple of bucks that the cultural myth I'm talking about here played some part in it.

Fight Club: "If you don't know what you want," the doorman said, "you end up with a lot you don't."

We're told repeatedly and consistently that if we're unhappy in our lives or want to improve, we should go to...


Higher education was supposed to be the magic key that let us escape the "daily grind" where we found ourselves so dissatisfied (although to properly frame the argument being made by some, "No it gave you the opportunity to make something of yourself/pull  yourself up by your bootstraps" *see fundamental attribution error).  I have yet to see anyone post or comment on one of these blogs who said something like the following:

"I'm going to/went to law school to learn about the law out of intellectual curiosity as part of my larger existential search for truth and meaning via learning. In no way did the money I spent or the money I would eventually earn enter into my decision making process."

Instead it goes something like this...

Back during the bar review days, I was in a cafe/coffee shop/modern day office space for 6 to 7 hours a day and so I got to know the staff fairly well (most of whom, at first, suspected that I was some kind of homeless loon based on my appearance and the odd shaped blue books I had with me at all times).  But one of the wokers recognized the tell tale books, the color is a hint to legally educated readers, as any Zero Lemming/Moron/No-Real-Life would, and asked me about Law School.

As the discussion progressed, I came to find out that the Zero Lemming, hereafter Pat...girl or boy who knows It's Pat!, was indeed considering law school.  Although I hadn't started this blog yet, I started to have a substantive discussion with Pat going over the reality of the process and the prospects once Pat had graduated.  As I went on, Pat's facial expression transformed to a small child first learning Santa Claus didn't exist. (roll tape)

0L:  "I want to go top tier!"
Me:  "What's your GPA/LSAT?"

Pat told me. Not bad but not great considering the "applicant market" and Pat's resume.

Me: "Have you gotten a considerable or full scholarship to any of the schools you've applied to thus far?"
0L: "No."
Me: "Do you have any debt from undergrad?"
0L: "Well I have around $80,000, but I went Ivy League!"

Oh for fuck's sake...

I asked Pat what type of loans, the interest rate and how it was going for Pat to pay off the current loans.  Pat said it wasn't easy but that didn't matter because after law school it would change.

Me: "Well what appeals to you about law school and what do you want to do after?"
0L: "I want to work on policy issues like (insert any big political topic, I'll leave out what the 0L told me because it's so ludicrous)!"

I then asked Pat if he/she had ever tried working somewhere, listing several local & national NGOs to try, that specialized in the policy issues Pat was interested in.  Nope.  Pat told me that all of the job positions like the ones I mentioned required a master's degree or law degree or doctorate (see what happens when there's an oversupply?).  

At a certain point, I realized that I was kicking a puppy who didn't understand why.  So, I tried to end on a high note and come up with some funny anecdotes about my experience & some survival tips.  I wished Pat the best and told him/her that maybe it would be different for him/her (but really, YOU ARE NOT SPECIAL).  I gave Pat the address for sites like Third Tier Reality & BIDER  & all the ones on the left, encouraging Pat to do some more research before eating a bullet going to school.

Then, I asked Pat if he/she knew what fundamental attribution error was and Pat told me "No, what's that?" (giving me a pretty good indicator of what Pat's chances for "success" would likely be).  I said I had to go back to studying and Pat sighed and admitted:

0L: "Thanks for the info and all but I just don't want to work here for the rest of my life..."

This is Jack/My horrified expression at what Pat just said.

Fight Club: "Maybe self-improvement isn't the answer...Maybe self-destruction is the answer." 

So where the hell did this "education" myth come from and why did we believe it?

Fight Club: "My father never went to college so it was really important I go to college. After college, I called him long distance and said, now what? My dad didn't know, so he 
said get a job. When I got a job and turned twenty-five, long distance, I said, now what? My dad didn't know, so he said, get married. I'm a thirty year-old boy."

I've said before that my generation, and I'm generally speaking of anyone under 40, finds itself in a world created by the Baby Boomers (Although, Post-WWII French philosophers made the same observation: we all begin life in media res of a world not of our own making).  In Fight Club, the reasons given are consumerism, absent father figures, feminism, and pretty much civilization itself.

When the Baby Boomers were coming of age, they found themselves with the "1950's Leave It to Beaver" world and many stifled under it (although to defend "the Greatest Generation," I think they may have fucking earned it after surviving the great depression and defeating the Nazis and Japanese Empires).  The difference between US and the spoiled, ungrateful, narcissistic Baby Boomers forerunners is they actively changed the world around them.  Many sociologists pinpoint the catalyst as a counterculture which criticized/destroyed/condemned the proffered societal model (*See dirty hippies--a watered down, mainstream version of Beat philosophy & values, which was really just an American modernization/reinterpretation of European Romantics). 

Just as we, the Craplennial Generation, have movies like Fight Club expressing the zeitgeist, I fucking hate that overused phrase but it's apropos, they had movies like The Graduate or Rebel Without a Cause that encapsulated their sense of ennui/listlessness/blah blah blah. *Sidenote, I exclude the Civil Rights, Women's Rights, and a lot of other ethnic/cultural/lifestyle equality movements from this discussion although that's the first thing a Baby Boomer will always jump to in defense of their generation...well that or 'Nam.  Speaking of which, a big Fuck you to the Baby Boomers who went through the experience of that war then decided to double down in the Middle East with the lives of my generation & friends based on a lie to quote Patton Oswalt).

The key difference is that
The Baby Boomers weren't charged an arm and a leg and a firstborn child nearly as much money and go into financial ruin huge amounts of debt to get their "education"(whereas many of us only have that option).  They actually got to live out their lives the way they wanted.  Starting out with a small amount of debt, which I guess at this point would be under 50K, or even no debt is a gigantic advantage.  Taking a job for 30K-40K in today's world without any debt is doable, but if you've got 100K or more you're going to be struggling to pay off just the interest or make payments for 20 years or more.  At least with a mortgage we got some physical object, but to have a shackle on your mind?  That's some far out shit (*See Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron).

We're Marley & Marley! oOOOoooOOOO!

Every Baby Boomer I've talked with about this subject has a religious zeal for "education" that's highly subjective and hard to exactly pin down value-wise.  There's a numerical designation sure, but with Baby Boomers it goes far beyond the $$$ in many instances.  Also, almost every Baby Boomer I've talked to seems incredulous about my criticism and or questioning of the value of higher ed in today's world.  Something gets lost in the generational translation.  The Baby Boomers also grew up in a vastly different time/global marketplace & their lessons and advice are largely irrelevant (I can just hear some Baby Boomers saying, "It worked for me! You just didn't work hard enough, have enough talent, blah blah blah."  *See fundamental attribution error before you make an ass of yourself by expressing your thoughts).

Want some ridiculously overpriced soap? How bout an education?

Our generation was pushed towards higher education by a lot of different vectors/strategies/lies and we're paying the true cost right now.  Higher Ed was also encouraged with huge stigmas about the kind of people the Baby Boomers considered "losers."  You know, the ones who didn't drink the Kool Aid don't have a shiny degree but maybe have a vocational job or something (unless of course they end up filthy fucking rich at which point their lack of higher ed becomes a bragging point, see Branson, Gates, etc.).

Education is still the Baby Boomers Robitussin solution for solving a problem, in fact Obama did it the other day and then pretty much gave a platitude in response to this (otherwise how could universities like Kaplan, DeVry, Phoenix, and others rake in so much money selling the myth?).  Chris Rock's joke about Robitussin is that it's ridiculous to use as a cure all for the maladies he lists, whereas we don't see Higher Education equally ridiculous.  Formalized, institutional education may be bullshit critical/important for many reasons...but life experience, working, and learning OUTSIDE of the classroom is what really counts just as important.  Apparently, many "experts" agree!

If I heard the following from Zero Lemmings I'd be far less critical:

"I'm going to/went to law school to learn about the law out of intellectual curiosity/the experience itself as part of my larger existential search for truth and meaning via learning."

BUT I DON'T HEAR ANYONE TELL ME THAT.  A very small minority of people go to college for that kind of reason, everyone else goes to get more money, or a "career," etc.

At this point, Anyone considering higher ed, whether it be law school, doctoral programs, what have you, needs a mental/perceptual chemical burn before proceeding...

The cruel, absurdst irony of it all is that after grabbing onto the "magical key" for all it's worth and more than we could afford, we ended up even more stuck than before.  So I ask again, What Now?

Can you blame people for dreaming?  No.  Can you blame people for hoping for a better life?  Absolutely not, I encourage it.  Can you question the strategy/plan/illusions that a person has when making those decisions so as to prevent them from making mistakes they will pay for, probably, for the rest of their lives when an alternative route could have brought them just as much happiness, freedom and meaning?  Isn't it immoral not to?

*Sidenote, like Freud & Marx before him, Tyler Durden's cultural observations may have been spot on but, also like Freud & Marx, his conclusions/solutions and the philosophy underlying them is so blatantly ludicrous as to be self defeating to any "educated" reader (i.e., someone who has more than an elementary education should have known better).  The scariest after-effect of movie version only since no one has read the book besides ironically self-aware hipsters  Fight Club is the copycat behavior from people who clearly missed the point of the story.  Anyone who wants to emulate Tyler Durden is trying to be a sociopath, you might as well aspire to be Jack the Ripper. You can effect change without the violent, destructive, anarchistic revolution he proposes (see Gandhi, Walesa, MLK, Steinham, etc., etc.).

Till next time, let's hold hands and watch the inevitable collapse readjustment!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Law School Apology FAIL & Double Dog Dare

"We need to be bold and adventurous in our thinking in order to survive." — Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, aka Wild Bill, in Adler v. Board of Education of City of New York, 342 U.S. 511 (1952).

This post was originally going to be a kind of "Apology for Law Schools" (I use apology in the classic Greek sense meaning a defense, shout out to PoliSci majors --- Remember when you had to read The Apology by Plato for the first time and asked "Why is he sorry?"...sigh).

I asked myself, "Can I actually provide a positive, uplifting argument about the nature of legal education and the practice of law?"  I immediately realized that was far too ambitious and limited myself to:

"Make an argument defending the Law School Educational Complex as it currently exists and the benefits that one receives by undertaking a law school education."

I excluded the financial/career payoff that one was supposed to get by going to law school, because then it'd be too easy (*see below).

My partners for truth fellow scambloggers, see left, are far better at that than I (so I might as well stick to what I can do or at least try to do).  I was instead going to try to craft an argument about the intrinsic value of the process.  Form follows function and so it should have been easy to determine the "function" of law schools by looking at their form/structure/process.  From that starting point, I could then provide a defense of the function & outcomes for the participants.

Over the better part of the week, I proceeded to use all of my "intelligence," "education" and "creativity" towards crafting such an argument (*see below for picture of attempt).

But I literally couldn't do it.  This horrified me, as it should horrify everyone reading this (I mean, really, I can make arguments defending people accused of incest, murder and/or pedophilia but not the LSEC?).

Thus I concluded:

The Law School Educational Complex is irredeemable and cannot be defended in its current manifestation.

(*Pictured above: one of the many instruments law schools rely on to determine success.)

Also, the administrators and professors, even those with the best of intentions, are complicit in an abominable system that has terrible consequences for participants.  At best, defending Law School is to recount the Biblical story of Job and say, "Well at least God rewarded him in the end with a new family and fortune."  To wit, I would direct reader's attention to Archibald MacLeish's J.B. which goes into more philosophical detail about the emotional truth of Job's plight compared to "the Good Book" (*Sidenote, MacLeish also thought that "The business of the law is to make sense of the confusion of what we call human life - to reduce it to order but at the same time to give it possibility, scope, even dignity" Guess what? Not really the way it's going).  

I should probably clarify a couple of things.  Namely, what I hope to achieve through this blog.  While I can't speak for my people law school beneficiaries want dead fellow scambloggers, I doubt that they would genuinely disagree with me (I say this based on what I garner from discussions with them & if they really do disagree with me then I have no doubt that they'll let me know).

Also, it's interesting to see this "Law School" story is starting to gain more and more press in mainstream avenues.  I only pray that it's in time to save, at least, some poor unfortunate souls before they get their acceptance letters and decide to go through with it.  For my take on the story click here (Incidentally, the story that Yahoo linked to is the same Wall Street Journal piece that my fellow scambloggers inspired have already covered so check out their blogs for their take on it).

I have the following goals with this blog:

Goal #1 --- To say that law schools are full of shit.  Meaning that I am calling out the outrageous misconduct on the part of all, but especially "lower ranked," law schools who charge students ridiculous/exorbitant fees for what they pass off as a "legal education."  One of the primary weapons justifications that law schools use for "buying in" is the outright lies misleading statistics about employment prospects post-graduation (so as to make it seem as if $100,000+ of non-dischargeable debt seems recoverable when it's probably not).  Also, it should be noted I didn't even really care  look at or consider the "post-graduation employment stats" in my decision to law school (so that's why I don't really get into it that much on this blog).  I take more issue with the cultural myths, half-truths, and generalizations that are made about "What the law is? What the law should be? How do we search for the answers to those questions?"  As of now Law School posits itself to the outside world as being somewhere between Plato's Academy and the Hospital Surgery Suite.  They say "We teach you theory AND practice!" when they don't even really teach you either (Incidentally, the classes I did the best in at law school were the ones where I literally did not read anything from the overpriced crap casebook. That shouldn't be possible in an "educational" environment).

As I progressed through law school then bar review then into the real world, it became clearer and clearer to me that the preceding step had nothing to do with the next (unlike almost every other human endeavor/training I can think of or have experience in).  Law school education isn't even really education intellectually rigorous.  It's a parroting game that I must admit I struggled to play because it rewards negative, close minded and unoriginal thought processes (Although I came to learn that some of my classmates were cheaters very good at it compared to me.  In fact, I may even cover this in a later post & tell Zero Lemmings how to cheat too!  hints for success).  As there are many types of intelligence, I am not making a value judgment about the kind of thinking law school encourages (because there are instances where the above described thinking is a good thing).  Rather I want to show why it's a major fucking problem make any Zero Lemmings out there aware of what to expect.

Goal #2 --- To provide 0L's, Zero Lemmings, with the kind of information that law schools would never give them.  As I have very little illusions about (1) above, I want, at the very least, to empower people considering law school with the kind of insider knowledge that is closely guarded by those in the profession.  This insider knowledge can be divided into three main areas: 

a) the nature of the legal education itself (meaning that it's 3 years of bullshit & a lot of other little changes you'll notice like not being able to read anything anymore without highlighters and pencils, really you should see some of my Maxim mags)
b) the nature of the legal profession (largely a soul crushing endeavor even for those "at the top/biglaw" who find themselves burned out/miserable relatively quickly)
c) qualitative & quantitative reportage of the real job market for aforementioned, soul crushing jobs by those who are already in the trenches (the position that many of you will find yourself in should you decide to commit seppuku go to law school).

No one who benefits from the current paradigm wants to have a genuine discussion about these problems, because they know that it would cause many people to skip going to law school (as there are a large number who make the decision out of naive ignorance).  This, in turn, would cut into the profit margins and salaries (I'm looking at you overpaid deans).  It is frustrating to many because these problems are man made and there are solutions for them (many of them relatively easy).  Which leads me to goal (3).

Goal #3 --- To advocate for legal education and professional reform.  "Oh, Bullshit!," I can hear some of you say, "A blog on the "internets" is going to push for reform?"  Well, assclown, my response would be that the internet serves the same purpose as pamphlets, and other forms of printed media, did in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Also, it's too late for me save yourselves! there's nothing inherently original about what I am saying.  It's just that I am doing it in my voice and from my unique perspective  (This same push for reform has been made by countless others for decades to no avail).  It'd be easier to just say, "Fuck it, why waste my time?"

Unfortunately, for me, I genuinely do care because I have a vision of what legal education, the legal profession and lawyers should ultimately be in relation to the society that they are supposed to serve.  To quote John Adams in a letter to his beloved Abigail,

"I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. - Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph [sic] in that Days Transaction, even altho [sic] We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not."

(In musical form, see below)


However, I'm not stupid enough to miss, at least some of, the logical flaws in my above conclusion about Law Schools.  If I am wrong about my opinion/conclusion/knowledge of the legal education system then, obviously, my 3 above stated goals are invalid.

Therefore, I double dog dare, Oh snap! You got served!, anyone to give me an argument defending the current paradigm.

Seriously.  For the love of God, I am begging  would someone, anyone, make a general argument defending the legal education system as it currently exists in the United States of America? 

*To see what I, along with anyone who has a working mind, would NOT consider a sound defense of the LSEC, see my previous post about the US News propaganda piece named "More Than a Degree" & my opinion of it. (see below)

I'll be waiting! Till next time, it's "Not that I don't like you, I'm just at a party."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

US News Reports = Old Pedophile W/ Spare Time, Candy & Van

"Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper...Screw magazines too." - George Orwell...kinda

Let's get something out of the way first.  Namely, that I absolutely loathe this publication, US News and World Report, on a number of different levels (so take that bias into account while reading on). I mean hate it like Harvard Law School students hate black people (HLS 3L LOL that shit never gets old).  Like the Bible says, know your enemy.  So some contextual history may help illuminate how this rankings bullshit got so out of hand.  Incidentally, there was a recent story on the left-leaning Huffington Post about colleges starting to grow a spine about this kind of thing  but someone runs that same story every time US News puts out a rankings issue).

So you, hapless "education" consumer, probably never asked yourself why does US News go to all the trouble of helping little old me out by proving me with a Consumer Guide of sorts to higher education?  Every time a new issue comes out, which I always refused to purchase lest I support the enterprise, I often find myself lamenting "If only they could expand this service to include elementary schools! Then I could have really gotten a head start on the competition!!" (*see below for a more equitable way to decide school placement).

Well according to my research, the rankings issues really started to gain more attention, shocked expression, as a moneymaker (*Sidenote law schools won't really teach you how to really research because otherwise you can't get the privilege of paying WestLaw and Lexis even more money for "special classes and training sessions" to navigate their bullshit search engines).

I quote:

By 2001 USN&WR was looking for more ways to stay competitive in a media-drenched market. Increasing cable channels, web news outlets, and changing newspapers threatened the traditional delivery of hard news. The magazine ran more feature articles such as "The Adoption Maze," "Secrets of the Stutter," and "Alcohol and the Brain," in 2001. In addition to the change in focus, a new editor took the helm.

Don't worry US News, I think Time and Newsweek will be joining Martha the last Passenger Pigeon soon enough once the baby boomers finally get too old to read without using a Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass (Time's Person of the Year the other year was "YOU!" oh give me a fucking break and actually try would you Time).

To stay competitive, USN&WR relied heavily on its special publications, which annually ranked the nation's colleges, graduate schools, and hospitals, and placed less emphasis on its print edition and more investment in its web site. As part of this repositioning, the magazine again reduced its editorial staff in 2005, laying off nine employees, including its chief political correspondent, Roger Simon.
The rankings, however, while popular with the magazine's readers, encountered broad criticism.

Encountered broad criticism? No shit. Everyone loves lists & rankings (*see Germany circa 1930's). I mean who hasn't done some High Fidelity shit and made greatest songs and movies lists with friends?  The problem is that, like assholes, everyone has an opinion and they all stink.  Unfortunately, US News pretty much has market share over how to rank schools, especially grad school  despite the Tax Prof's best efforts using weird math number like shit.  It's a sick cycle where by encouraging more people to attend higher ed forces more to have to "research" their investment and thus buy US News copies so that somebody in an office somewhere makes money. You just happen to be the person getting screwed (*See Below for what US News would look like in human form, btw if this guy approached you like this in real'd know better, but when it shows up in a store as a "Special Issue" you're fine with it?)

If US News just did a ranking list, I guess I'd have less of a problem...but then they go and do shit like this to kill trees and justify the price of this stupid shit  provide readers with more qualitative data (as they halfheartedly admitted that job prospects for law grads are pretty much what the scambloggers and J.D.'s already out there know it).

This year, US News got someone to write a fluff piece entitled "The J.D. More than Just a Degree" by Andrew T. Hayashi....fuck here we go again...(*Sidenote, once again, I object to US News as an entity rather than the speaker who is clearly just another prop like the Fordham students were for the admissions video, this is essentially speech that's been adopted by US News).

"It's just a five-minute walk to the law school from Evans Hall, my on-campus home at the University University of California-Berkeley for two years. I came to law from economics, starting my '1L' (first) year just as I began writing my Ph.D. dissertation."

First, and yet again I don't want to get personal, but why the fuck are you living on campus while getting your Ph.D. AND J.D.?  Are you that much of an emotional cripple that the thought of living on your own in the world is too terrifying Is housing that tricky in Cali?  Also, why are you getting a Ph.D. AND a J.D.?  If the answer isn't "I'm curing cancer" or "building iron man armor and want to be able to defend myself from the countless civil suits that will follow," doubtful on either front, then you have no excuse to be getting both of those degrees in the pursuit of a regular 9 to 5 job.  Are we all going to have to stay in school till we're 30 or older to hope for a job where we can use our so-called "education"?

If your "residence" at Evans Hall has something to do with them providing you housing as part of a scholarship, Go fuck yourself.  I'm pretty sure it'd be tricky to smoke cigarettes, do drugs, and drink alcohol in large amounts, which almost every human being needs just to cope with going to law school, in a dorm room with campus security mucking about.  But I'm guessing you're probably the kind of person who doesn't do anything like that and/or fucking never rarely engages in what you spitefully refer to as "fluid exchange" with another person. But I digress.

"I liked that the law was interdisciplinary and that it would encourage me to think about research questions using a variety of methods and with a focus on public policy."

ANON! You came to law from an economics background and you have the audacity to say that law is "interdisciplinary?"  Really?  If it's so "interdisciplinary" and "expansive" in its approach and orientation, then why is it that everybody, in school and the real world, ends up hyper-specializing in one specific branch of law.  In fact, doesn't US News now make it a point to create mini-rankings based on bullshit like "Best Environmental Law' or "Best Oral Advocacy" schools?  But I got into the 3rd best Maritime Law Program in the country! STFU.

Every asshole  Zero Lemming I've ever talked to about law school lists "policy" as one of the thing that attracts them to the law.  What "policy" really means in this context is just "power and/or control over the lives of others" because I have personal demons that I'd rather not deal with right now.  Although I've met a few sincere people who go to law school with the genuine goal of helping make the world a better place, a la that commie social justice kind of shit, they are few and far between.  Usually the people that start out talking about going to law school and public policies are the last people you want making decisions affecting other people's lives.  Guess what?  The likelihood that you will ever get to effect public policy is about the same as the likelihood that you will be elected President of the United States (possible - yes, probable - no way in hell).

"I wanted to become a better and more persuasive communicator and a more adept advocate. I also figured that the return on the law degree, in terms of professional flexibility, was pretty good.

Most of my classmates at law school could barely string words together.  The few that did speak up usually looked like this guy:

Speaking well in public and being persuasive at the same time is pretty much a skill that you're either born with or not.  Sure, anyone can get better at speaking, but it's pretty impossible to teach from scratch (Brando was just Brando).  Also, the best speakers/oral communicators I know go into languages if they're socialists more scholarly or into sales somewhere (where they make mid to high six figures).  They certainly don't languish away for three years with the common law being their only companion in a system and culture that doesn't reward creativity, individuality or even human-like expression. 

"I got all of the things that I hoped for from law school, and others that I didn't expect. After three years at Berkeley Law, I had a degree, a clearer writing style, greater confidence about public speaking, the ability to read more efficiently, a head full of concepts and facts about the law, honed analytical skills, and an appreciation for the variety of arguments that can be made in the areas where the law is still evolving."

Are you serious? Isn't that list of qualities, skills and abilities shit that you should have had from 4 years getting an economics degree?  More importantly, aren't those all things that you should have pretty much already have just by being alive?   

Also, the title of this piece of shit article is "More Than a Degree" and yet you've somehow managed to mention the value of the degree itself for the second time (the first time being your perceived "payback" on getting the degree, which is horseshit for most people in the current debt to slave job market).

You know what other people are doing with their "degrees" from even higher ranked schools? Trying to sell that shit for cash to salvage something out of the horrible mistake they found out law school and a legal career had to their humanity and happiness!  By the way, you really haven't wowed me with your ability to persuasively communicate (at least in written form, but then again he's probably writing for a hapless bunch of Zero Lemmings who don't know any better).

"And although the demands of law school made it a challenge to find time to work on my dissertation (a collection of essays on what might be called behavioral law and economics), the intellectual environment I found there provided a creative spark for my research that helped move it along. All of these were things that I had bargained for, things that any good law school should provide, and much of what made such a costly investment worthwhile. But I got more from law school than a degree and marketable skills."

Not to get personal, yet again, but where the hell did you find time to have a life?  You know the thing that makes it actually worthwhile to wake up in the morning.  Matter of fact, where did you have time to look for love, friendship, meaning or any of the other values that society has been teaching all of us to strive for since Sesame Street?  A "creative spark" for a Ph.D. dissertation from sitting through law classes?  I've got five bucks that says you couldn't fill up the required page length without throwing in a lot of bullshit and entire sections about "legal and policy recommendations" in the hopes that your dissertation committee didn't call shenanigans but were instead impressed by the gall of getting a Ph.D./J.D.  Jesus Tittyfucking Christ...I can't wait to find out what you else you got out of the J.D. degree...

"One of the most exciting things about UC–Berkeley, in particular, is the extensive engagement that students and faculty have with other world-class departments and scholars. Berkeley Law has 12 different interdisciplinary research centers, each providing a context for legal scholarship to be developed and used to inform contemporary policy debates."

Oh! You starfucking piece of shit.  Did you lift that right out of the school pamphlet or did they slip you something under the table?

"Programs at the law school's Center for Law, Business, and the Economy enabled me to engage with scholars doing cutting-edge research, talk with judges and practitioners about the practice of corporate and tax law, and develop relationships with professors, classmates, and graduate students with similar interests. This was not unique to my experience; the range of research centers reflects Berkeley Law's commitment to areas such as intellectual property, environmental law, and social justice."

Look at that kids! He just crossed the line from propaganda to outright lying.  It literally hurts me to read this.  Is this what's become of the place that was once the epicenter of counterculture, leftist revolution and fighting the system?  Now I see how Arnold Schwarzenegger got elected (Schwarzenegger shows up on spell check? Fuck me).  

Once again this kind of article has everything to do with Law Schools making themselves appeal to a greater number of people who have self-destructive tendencies varying reasons for wanting to go to Law school (just like the Fordham video).  It's all about getting more Zero Lemmings to sign on the dotted line and keep the scam going. NOT providing the reader with a realistic glimpse into law schools.   

Seriously though, how much did they pay you to write this?  Because if the price is right I'd totally switch sides and start pro-law blogging.  Or did you just write this in lieu of a professional development piece that contributes to the current literature?  Do you go to bars and use "I just had a piece published in US News and World Report"?

"Berkeley Law also provides extensive course offerings in a variety of fields, which is something that I was grateful for, especially as I began looking for a summer internship during my second year. I was able to take three tax classes before even beginning my internship and five tax classes before I graduated. Being able to take so many classes in a particular area allowed me to figure out what kind of law I wanted to practice and demonstrate my interest in the field to potential employers. It also helped ease the transition into practice."

Now you're not even trying, you shameless whore.  Just say you went to law school because you thought it'd lead to a job compared to where you were as an "economics" major.  That's how so many people get caught in this law school trap in the first place (I'm looking at you polisci majors).  Also, all of the options available at this marvelous, magical Berkeley and you consciously chose to take as many tax classes as possible?  What the hell is wrong with you?

"Lessons learned. In addition to providing these benefits, Berkeley Law surprised me. I had been unaware that law school is also vocational training for a profession and that this requires more than just the rehearsal of marketable skills and knowledge about the law. Lawyers have codes of professional conduct and duties that go well beyond the four corners of the job. I found this aspect both challenging and inspiring. I also developed a greater appreciation for the importance of process and procedure."

No asshole, no.  Law school is NOT vocational training for a profession (Santa Claus is a myth too kids, sorry).  If it was, then why are there bar exams and CLEs?  Just to double check? If that was true, why is it so important to get hired by a firm, big or small, where you really learn how to practice law?  Why does the NALP call us the "Lost Generation?"

Plumbing school is what I'd imagine provides vocational training for a profession.  A profession where there is actually a demand for jobs that actually pays money for people who don't mind working with their hands and being able to say they helped do something by the end of a day's work.

While we're on it, where the fuck is that code of professional conduct when it matters, like oh par example, publishing real stats about your school and not robbing your students blind with overinflated prices for a crappy product?  Where is your sense of duty knowing what this article might do to impressionable Zero Lemmings?  Do you even care?

"Lawyers complete forms, file motions and briefs, and draft contracts because that is the way that things get done. I learned that you can't be a good lawyer without mastering procedure. At Berkeley, I had excellent professors in professional responsibility, civil procedure, and tax law to help me learn these lessons."

I hate you US News.... I have to stop typing for a second just so I can put every fiber of my being towards hating you.......give me a moment......

If you even tried to practice the law based solely on what you learned in law school, you would commit malpractice in about 10 minutes (if for no other reason that you have no fucking idea very little idea how to procedurally do anything to a court's satisfaction from just law school classes).  You and I both know that the lack of real "vocational training" has been one of the longest running laments about law school for decades.  You didn't learn shit in your professional responsibility, civpro and tax law classesLiar, liar pants on fire.

"I am now a tax lawyer at a large New York firm, serving mainly corporate clients and financial institutions. I have exceptional colleagues, and the work is complex and fun. It requires analytic ability, creativity and judgment to operate in new and developing areas of the law, and the ability to efficiently manage process and procedure. Trying to excel in these areas while also living up to the expectations of being a legal professional is a challenge. But Berkeley Law prepared me well, and I have no regrets."

Touché monsieur!  I don't even have the fucking words to adequately dispel this level of bullshit.  On it's own? Congratulations you earned it. 

BUT this article slipped into the US News Rankings issue encourages the kind of magical thinking on the part of Zero Lemmings that created the current environment (especially when the preceding article warns that the story described in "More Than a Degree" won't likely be your experience and the pay off may not be certain).  It's the legal industry equivalent of saying that everyone who joins the National Guard will have a chance of winning the Medal of Honor (btw there hasn't been someone alive to receive that medal since Vietnam for good reason, if you want typical army service see here all of my military friends are pretty much broke, homeless and forgotten by their country when it matters struggling worse than me).  

Bravo sir!  You actually overwhelmed me with horseshit of a magnitude and scope that I wouldn't think possible in today's world.  I salute you!

Keep on truckin' till next time. *Gold star for California Law Grads who have any thoughts, post in comments or email me.