Still, to read the comments section for this USA Today article, a scamblogger could be excused for feeling that the message was falling on deaf ears. This article managed to garner more than 600 comments in 20 hours, so there is certainly no lack of interest in the topic. Still, the vast majority of commenters offer some vitriolic variation on a common theme: Boo hoo, serves you right, lawyer scum!
A lot of people are hurting in this recession. Undoubtedly, there are comments from people who have been laid off, furloughed, or are perpetually underemployed. Many are probably grappling with higher education debt while working a low-paying job that doesn’t utilize their degree. It all sounds a lot like the plight of the average law graduate, except that many of these folks hopefully aren’t suffering under $100,000 in debt and the J.D. stain on their resume that law grads are. I’d be inclined to say that “we’re all in this together.”
Sadly, a perusal of the pages and pages of comments on this article reveals otherwise. The newspaper can tell readers all about how law programs amount to three years’ worth of glittery highway robbery that leave their graduates unemployable, but it matters not to many. They’re still lawyers, and therefore evil, malformed human sludge. They all wanted to go to law school so that they could get $160k starting salaries, live the “models and bottles” lifestyle, and wake up every morning putting their foot on the neck of the little guy, grinning all the while. That sure sounds like me, and all the other law students I know! These commenters must be right…to a man, we all deserve the misery, crushing debt, and perpetual unemployment. It is our lot in life.
Let’s look at some of the most highly-rated comments, as recommended by other readers:
Mark Doiron (6 friends, send message) wrote: 1d 3h ago
Not enough jobs for lawyers? I have a difficult time finding any bit of sympathy for them. Try a career that actually produces something that benefits society--engineering, teaching, etc. --mark d.
drgary (101 friends, send message) wrote: 1d 1h ago
Lawyers do not produce anything!! They merely usurp from the nations gross domestic production!!!
The attorneys not only have destroyed the fabric of US society.....................they have increased the cost of doing business in the US............which has caused the US to no longer be competitve in world markets as it relates to the production of goods and services!!!
bruceton (0 friends, send message) wrote: 1d 3h ago
Wow, these kids simply have not been paying attention. Colleges are there to take your money. There is no promise of a job, no refunds, sorry. As I have said in the past, it's a perfect scam. Ok, maybe scam is not the right word, I suppose you do learn something...like not to believe anything anyone tells you!
lunchtimereader (0 friends, send message) wrote: 23h 12m ago
So they feel entitled to a guaranteed high paying job once they graduate?
Nothing is guaranteed in life no matter what u study in college. That's just the way it is. Everyone rolls the dice when u major in something, and graduate from that program.
Of course the school will fluff up your ego when u to sign up for law school. They will paint u a pretty picture of BMWs, nice homes, wealth, influence, etc, etc. Do u expect them to tell u u will be working at McDonald's after u graduate? Of course not.
These kids need to come down from the clouds and live with us mortals. Everybody is hurting and struggling to provide for their families. It's a day to day struggle. Are law graduates exempt from this? They must have thought so.
Welcome to our world.
I did chuckle at this one:
Try2KeepUpWithMe (0 friends, send message) wrote: 23h 39m ago
They wanted to be scammers. Instead, they were scammed themselves.
It is a little disappointing to see so much kneejerk hate for lawyers, as well as so many ignorant comments that show a total misunderstanding of the plight facing so many graduates today. Many bloggers have reflected on the "blame the victim" response that law school administrators, the ABA, and many laypeople give when scammed law grads try to speak up. Some will tell them that it's their fault for not doing enough due diligence, despite the fact that the statistics and data relied on by prospective students in making their decision are widely agreed to be misrepresentations at best, and old fashioned fraud at worst. Others will use the old "lawyers produce nothing, they should have become engineers or factory workers," line. This is particularly rich, as there is no viable fallback in a "productive industry" for young people. Where are the millions of good jobs producing a real product that grads can take? Where is the supposed job security that my young friends with engineering degrees ought to have, when they are laid off every 12-18 months and have to scramble to find some contract position? All that this country has left is a service economy, and even that is being eroded in favor of cheap, offshore labor. These Horatio Alger, "pull yourself up" responses represent a fundamental inability to stick one's graying head outside of their middle-management office and observe the economic carnage all around.
What we're seeing here is yet another example of recalcitrant Boomers who had everything easy in life, who lived through an unnatural period of economic prosperity, plentiful jobs, and easy credit. In my parents' day, you could get a B.A. from any state college, throw a dart, and hit a decent paying job. The standard line of "I did it, it was easy, everything worked out for me, you youngsters are just lazy and afraid of hard work!" just rings hollow. The Boomers who haven't been laid off are quite simply out of touch with the modern higher education complex and hiring market. They won't even begin to question the folly of their worldview until they are truly old and decrepit and their Social Security benefits start to run dry.
But despite all of this negative feedback, at least some truthful comments are shining through:
samjung23 (10 friends, send message) wrote: 1d 7h ago
I did some research on this, thank god, before deciding to go to law school. Talk about being poor, or being poorer. I realized that practically most liberal arts university majors I knew went to law school, if their daddy couldn't get them a job, or if they played sports and had connections to good jobs. I said, if I couldn't get a job with my liberal arts degree, what's the point of paying a ton of money to law school and basically have the same terrible chances?
So yeah, I'm still screwed, but at least I'm not majorly in debt AND unemployed. I have an ok bit job right now, but I really am willing to get out of Michigan and at least get something that will pay a living wage. I'm even willing to leave the States. I don't think the people are intelligent enough to understand how an economy operates and help it recover. This country is in SERIOUS problems.
vandy grad (0 friends, send message) wrote: 10h 57m ago
I graduated 5 years ago from Vanderbilt law school with 160K in student loan debt. I applied to countless attorney and non-attorney jobs (secretary, retail, etc.) without so much as an interview. I was told that I was "underqualified" for attorney jobs because I didn't have 10+ years of experience and "overqualified" for non-attorney jobs because I had a law degree. It was immensly frustrating to have gone to law school for three years and incure this amount of debt to find out I was virtually unemployable.
I was 21 years old when I decided to attend law school and I fell for everyone of Vanderbilt's deceptive statements and statistics. 99% employment six months after graduation, we only accept 20% of all applicants so you are special, average starting salaries of $100K+, etc. I pay my student loan payment each month so I take responsibility for my poor decision; however, I don't think holding 21 year olds accountable for the decision to attend law school is the answer. The law school administrators and professors should be held accountable. After all, they are the ones lining their pockets by ripping off young twenty somethings as outlined above. The funny thing is they do this with our tax dollars (via federal student loans). There is absolutely no need for any more lawyers in the country. Half the schools could just disappear and no one but the law schools themselves would know or care. This is becoming an increasing problem here in America, the overeducated and underemployed!
barnzai (0 friends, send message) wrote: 1d 10h ago
If you're smart enough to graduate from law school, you're smart enough to realize you probably shouldn't have.
In the end, there is more value than not in having articles like this in the public sphere, despite the largely negative online feedback. The sense I get from most scambloggers is that no one is doing this to try and generate sympathy, as many of the commenters seem to think. Our collective sense of purpose is to dissuade as many prospective law students as possible from going to law school. With articles like these, hopefully some attentive young people will notice the uptick in news pieces about the horrible job market for law grads and reassess their course in life.
As for the folks who are themselves suffering, but are quick to lash out at young people who were taken for a ride and are now drowning in debt, I don’t know what to say. At a time when the nation at large is roiling with record unemployment, a horrible recession, and an entire generation of young people who are being shut out of the labor market and the associated lifestyle they were raised to aspire to, those who will plug their ears and scream petty insults at the "whiners" are particularly repulsive. So many millions of people have been taken for a ride in our glitzy modern economy, be they mortgage borrowers, small business owners, or young students who were hoping to improve their lives via education. All of these people were sold a fraudulent bill of goods and are now left holding the heavy, debt-laden bag. How bad do things have to get before some people care? Will we all eventually have to see our pensions and 401(k)s reduced to nothing, our home values plummet, our long-term underemployment stretch into perpetuity? At what point can we recognize the symptoms plaguing one group of people, like underwater student loan borrowers, as indicative of larger problems affecting the country as a whole?
My first reaction was to think back to a modification of a quote that our friend and former scamblogger Angry Future Expat posted in his farewell entry. I sort of hesitate to use it, because while the situation of millions of college and law grads who have been sold out and have no reasonable chance at getting a decent job and advancing in life is dire, we aren’t being rounded up and put into camps. Still, perhaps it is appropriate:
With apologies to Pastor Martin Niemöller:
THEY CAME FIRST for the Subprime Borrowers,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Subprime Borrower.
THEN THEY CAME for the unemployed,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t unemployed.
THEN THEY CAME for the failed small business owners,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a failed small business owner.
THEN THEY CAME for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.