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The angry rants first surfaced last summer on an anonymous New Jersey blog.

Law school is a “scam, ” the blogger wrote. Administrators are greedy “charlatans” who could not care less about education, and students are but “hapless lemmings” who have been tricked into paying a fortune to enter “America’s most overrated, miserable and saturated industry.”

Within months, the blog was drawing up to 5, 000 unique readers a day, many of whom praised the anonymous writer — known only as Law is 4 Losers — as a hero for exposing the lies they say they, too, were fed about secure jobs and generous incomes.

The blogger is a 2005 Seton Hall University School of Law graduate, whose outrage stems from graduating with more than $100, 000 of debt but meager job prospects, says he is merely tapping into a groundswell of resentment against the nation’s law schools.

As they enter the worst job market in decades, many young would-be lawyers are turning on their alma maters, blaming their quandary on high tuitions, lax accreditation standards and misleading job placement figures. Unless students graduate from schools like Harvard or Yale, they “might as well be busing tables, ” the blogger said.

"It's really just a big Ponzi scheme, ” the law graduate told The Star-Ledger. "They’re just cranking kids out for $45, 000 a year.”

School administrators, who admit to keeping tabs on these so-called “scam blogs, ” which now number in the dozens, bristle at the charge that they run diploma mills. Not every graduate can land a six-figure job at a big-name law firm — especially during the current downturn — but many still find fulfilling careers in and out of the legal field, said Claudette St. Romain, an associate dean at Seton Hall, one of three law schools in New Jersey.

“For a person with passion, a certain talent and a certain outlook, it’s a great education, ” St. Romain said, noting that Gov. Chris Christie and several state senators are among
the school’s alumni. “But it’s not for everybody — don’t get me wrong.”


What law school officials don’t deny is that these are challenging times for new graduates. Job openings are scarce. Firms are increasingly turning to outsourcing or contract work. And still, the number of law school enrollees has continued to climb as those unable to find work clamor for professional degrees.

The result: Unemployment among new law school grads nationwide has risen for two straight years, to a rate of 12 percent for the class of 2009, according to the National Association for Law Placement. Among the employed, one in four jobs were temporary, while one in 10 were part-time. One-fifth of those employed said they were searching for another job, twice as many as in the boom years a decade ago.

Recognizing the mounting crisis, the American Bar Association recently urged prospective students to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of a legal education. For a law degree to pay off, the association said in a memo, a grad should earn at least $65, 000 a year. Nearly half of employed 2008 grads had starting salaries below that amount.

“Law students ought to look at the numbers and envision how their future might be before going to law school, not after, ” said ABA president Carolyn Lamm.

But the critics ask: How can prospective students make informed decisions when they aren’t given enough information in the first place?

In the glossy Seton Hall brochures he perused before applying, the law graduate recalls reading about six-figure salaries and job placement rates of more than 90 percent. Nothing he read, he said, prepared him for the harsh reality after graduation, of having to take a low-level temp job at a large Newark firm and toiling in “sweatshop” conditions elbow-to-elbow with dozens of other grads.

A Seton Hall classmate tells a similar story, saying it was then that she realized she had “made a very bad mistake.” The two friends recently opened their own law firm but, while they have managed to drum up two dozen clients, they say they often worry about making enough to survive.

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