Open Letter to Interim Dean Brown

George Brown

George D. Brown
Interim Dean
Boston College Law School
885 Centre Street
Newton Centre, MA 02459

Dear Dean Brown,

I hope this letter finds you well. I want to start by thanking you for serving as the interim Dean. I know that it is always difficult to step into a situation at the last minute, but we are all thankful for your leadership.

Unfortunately, the occasion for me writing to you is not a happy one. As a 3L, my peers and I find ourselves in the midst of one of the worst job markets in the history of our profession. A few of us have been able to find employment, but the overwhelming majority of us are desperately looking, and unable to find anything. We are discouraged, scared, and in many cases, feeling rather hopeless about our chances of ever getting to practice law.

To compound our difficulties, many of us are in an enormous amount of debt from our legal studies. Soon after our graduation, we will be asked to make very large monthly payments towards this debt, regardless of whether we’ve been able to find employment or not. It is a debt which, despite being the size of a mortgage, gives us no tangible asset which we could try to sell or turn in to the bank. We are not even able to seek the protection of bankruptcy from this debt.

I write to you from a more desperate place than most: my wife is pregnant with our first child. She is due in April. With fatherhood impending, I go to bed every night terrified of the thought of trying to provide for my child AND paying off my J.D, and resentful at the thought that I was convinced to go to law school by empty promises of a fulfilling and remunerative career. And although my situation puts the enormity of the problem into sharp focus, there are a lot of us facing similar financial disasters. In all of this, we have had very little help from career services, who all seem to be as confounded as we are by this job market. Kate Devlin Joyce has been an amazing and helpful ally; everyone else in that office has shrugged their shoulders at us and asked if we have tried using Linkedin.

I’d like to propose a solution to this problem: I am willing to leave law school, without a degree, at the end of this semester. In return, I would like a full refund of the tuition I’ve paid over the last two and a half years.

This will benefit both of us: on the one hand, I will be free to return to the teaching career I left to come here. I’ll be able to provide for my family without the crushing weight of my law school loans. On the other hand, this will help BC Law go up in the rankings, since you will not have to report my unemployment at graduation to US News. This will present no loss to me, only gain: in today’s job market, a J.D. seems to be more of a liability than an asset. I will explain the gap in my resume by simply saying that I attended law school, but was unable to finish for financial reasons. In the short run, refunding my tuition might present a financial challenge to the law school, but in the long run, better US News rankings will help you far more than having yet another disgruntled and unemployed alumnus.

I would love to discuss this proposal with you further. I would also love to hear any other thoughts or solutions you may have. Thanks very much for your time, and I look forward to speaking with you.

Best regards,

[Name redacted]
Class of 2011

The views expressed above are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of Eagleionline or any of its members.

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233 Responses to “Open Letter to Interim Dean Brown”

  1. I was on probation my first year of law school, and only graduated with a 2.6 GPA from a #36 law school.

    I made $60k my first year at a boutique litigation firm…. then $85k at the next bigger firm (only 1.3 years later)…. then $105 only 1.5 years later…. now $150k.

    Point being, people need to stop scrambling for non-existant “Big Law” jobs, and take any legal jobs that come their way.

    You may get a horrible job to start, but you will eventually work your way up to something better, if you try hard enough. Most non-big-Law firms don’t emphasize class rankings – it’s more about your ability to sell/ market yourself.

    I found my way into two in-house jobs, but only through huge networking and extreme persistence.

    • I too went to a third tier school. Graduated at 50%, and 3 years later, I’m racking in over $180k. Sure, I work hard at my job, and it took more than a few resumes and phone calls over 3 months to get it. But I never gave up!

      The story above is bogus…but what the heck, this is the Internet and people can say whatever they please.

  2. File suit against the school and the ABA. Identify the allocation of law seats for each school vs the number awarded (in respects to supply and demand.)

    Reference the bankruptcy of Sallie Mae and the number of loans as ‘Uncollectable’ and the DOJ case no# DJ 169-73-0 identifying the process that the US Attorney General and DoE now have within their presence that resolves the issues for admissions into law school.

    Use your law education and training and connect the DOTS !!!

  3. Help and advice for so many forfeited and dazed persons excellentstuff, Thanks a lot for sharing.

  4. Exactly why I chose to take my skills and point them to forensics. A lot of attys can’t afford to pay back their loans and aren’t abl to attract high quality cases and turn desparate for any accident involving the tiniest amount of potential litigation.

    There is a niche or two still able to be mined. Information systems and class action litigation is massive. Be wary of the banking industry and their downfall and the protective rights of consumers. All still healthy grounds for making a few dollars while making your name known.

    Thorexec

  5. surprise surprise, the out-of-touch entitlement attitude is alive and well at BC!

  6. Look at the non-profit sector. You will not make much money but there are a lot of people in desperate need and there are many federal and state programs that can help pay student loans in return for such work.

  7. seriously wtf. I feel for you man about your situation but there are no guarantees on employment after ANY degree. it is up to you to do the networking and stop waiting for your precious school to present you with your golden opportunity. Instead of wanking about wanting a refund, why dont you approach one of you professors, explain the situation and ask if you can do pro bono work in exchange for less class work?? GET REAL WORLD EXPERIENCE.

    • i fully agree. i have little doubt in mind that these whiners are typically the ones who are lazy, complacent, and fully expectant of something to magically fall into their laps.

    • wow. You are a real dumbass for the kind of advice you offered. Honestly, I actually think you don’t feel for him. I mean, what can I expect….you’re a dumbass.

  8. mike = clearly not a law student.

  9. This totally sucks but i can see where mike is coming from. I know a number of MBA soon-to-be-grads in the same spot. They have all had to make drastic changes in their life to find employment – moving across country, working as part time really cheap consultants, etc. It’s going to take some serious sacrifice – which really sucks. I am not sure if it is fair to the school though to ask to not pay anything for the 2 years of education? I think that is like buying a meal and half way through eating it decide you wanted to go to a different restaurant and not want to pay anything… just sayin.

  10. That’s harsh, especially with the kid coming. Lower your job standards, possibly move to a metropolitan area, and you’ll figure it out.

    Why is this BC’s fault, though? In the 2006-2008 timeframe it was already clear the economy was going to crash, and for far, far longer than that, America has had more lawyers than it needs. It sounds like you listened to the recruiters instead of doing your own research. Or maybe you did it for love and interest in the law? But again, that’s not BC’s problem.

    • As a defense to the writer, and I think his proposal was not assigning fault, so I think you mis-characterize that, as someone who is graduating with this writer (and who fortunately does have a job post-graduation), I can safely say no one going to law school at the time we did had any idea the legal market would crash like it did. It was unprecedented even in prior recessions. In fact, the economy itself did not really begin to tank until September 2008, the month we started law school. And that was due in large part to the subprime mortgage crisis, which isn’t something easily predictable by someone looking to attend law school or even probably career services at the law school.

      No one is to blame here, it is just the reality of the situation. What this writer did was offer a proposal, that while was clearly not going to be seriously considered, drew attention to the plight of law students entering a depressed market after dishing out $120K – $170K.

      Please stop characterizing his letter as blaming the school. It does not.

      • I guess since it wasn’t very funny, I took it too seriously, or something. I just don’t see the point of asking for a refund, even as a joke. BC held up its end of the deal. Why even suggest that they give him his law school education for free? (Un-generous thought: maybe he’s having a hard time finding a job because he doesn’t communicate clearly in writing.)

        There was no way to know the exact timing of the crash, but it was clear by 2006/2007 that the economy was in a bubble, with a pretty cursory examination of home prices rising 40% per year (or whatever unsustainable rate they might have hit wherever he was–I’m in California). Further digging would have turned up a site like http://patrick.net with news stories about mortgage fraud and subprime-crippled securities.

        And, as I said, America has had far too many lawyers for well over a decade. It sucks if he bought in to someone’s cheerleading, but it happens to all of us sometimes.

      • BS, he IS assigning fault: “With fatherhood impending, I go to bed every night terrified of the thought of trying to provide for my child AND paying off my J.D, and resentful at the thought that I was convinced to go to law school by empty promises of a fulfilling and remunerative career.”

        And he still wants the benefits of a law education for FREE!
        “I will explain the gap in my resume by simply saying that I attended law school, but was unable to finish for financial reasons.”

        That’s no joke!

  11. Chris,

    You are assuming anyone going to law school could look at an otherwise series of unrelated events that would lead to a decline in the demand for lawyers in the country – when in the past, that industry has weathered recessions without much difficulty. I think you’re being entirely unfair. I can assure you that almost no law student graduating in May would have predicted this. Even with a plethora of research. Obviously there is zero guarantee, even in a good year that one will get the job they want, or a job at all.

    But this kid is not alone, and that isn’t the point. I’d say nearly half of my law school companions graduating this year are still looking for a job. Are you arguing they are all incapable of finding one, lacking creativity or expecting too much? Keeping in mind that BC Law is a top 30 law school and when it comes to historical job placement, probably ranks higher than that. That means there are over a hundred law schools ranked even lower than BC. Even if one could predict a downturn in the economy that would, in turn, lead to a significant reduction in legal jobs, it is reasonable to assume that one could attend a top 26 law school and still have a good shot at finding a job.

    I don’t disagree that asking for a refund is an unrealistic request. But as I said, I don’t think he was being entirely serious with it. He merely pointed out that a lot of law students are frantically doing whatever they can to find a job while the appearance each year is that the law school continues to take on 250+ more law students who are going to struggle just as much with each passing year without any change in the information they are giving to potential students about their career prospects. Maybe we’re the “lost year” but for the school to continue to pretend the legal industry is a fruitful one for employment is incredibly disgusting.

  12. I guess this is a better approach than faking your death.

  13. If you geaux to bed every night afraid of the Big Bad Wolf … You will dream of running from the wolf and wake up exhausted ….
    On the subject of debt … It cost $ 260 thousand dollars to raise a child from birth to 18. So the letter writer better stay in law school, work extra jobs, hustle and scrape and save and invest his money correctly. And not have anymore children he can not afford.

    • $260k to raise a kid to age 18? What a load of nonsense! I raised 10 kids to age 18, and strangely enough they were fed, clothed, sheltered and educated without me having to spend $2.6 million on them.

      How about we get back to a reality check sometime soon?

      • I’m sure there is some diminishing individual cost with raising multiple children together. That doesn’t necessarily negate that it might actually take $260K to raise one child to 18. I’d also imagine that is an average of what is actually spent, not what it takes to raise a child. I have no doubt you could with the bare necessities spend less than that and manage to get a child to 18 alive and healthy.

  14. What is really irritating as a BC Law student is to see people who come to law school who truly are paying their own way, who don’t rely on their parents for support and who are forced to borrow the full amount of tuition and living expenses to do so. And then realize after a while that there are a lot of students here, from privileged, wealthy backgrounds who just finished college and are getting a full/large partial scholarship from BC. For what reason? Who knows. I guess it is an early lesson that a lot about life is who you know and where you’re from and not about what you do. What I’ll take away from it is that BC Law can hold its breath before I give a dime to this school once I’m out of here.

  15. As a voice wholly unconnected to BC, I would like to congratualte the author. I graduated from a Midwestern law school in 2010, and was faced with a similar daunting scenario (as were most of my peers). For those making comments questioning the veracity of the authors assertion or where she is placing blame, I simply can’t understand why the backlash. We are a group of individuals who literally work 75-100 hours a week in libraries and study rooms reading the equivalent of complicated stereo instructions the entire time. We have sacrificed (most of us) uncountable hours during our undergraduate experiences to be the elite level students given the graduate opportunities that are deemed the “American Dream,” and spoonfed to us as the “correct path” from the moment our type-a personalities begin forming desires about the possibility of life advancement. All the while our childhood friends who take jobs as union bricklayers are buying homes, cars, vacations, and aptly providing for their families. How can you scold a young honest person for “wanting a free education” when the author is merely stating what the vast majority of grad school students think every day after the lightbulb of Salliemae reality is lit in the waning days and weeks of their educational careers.

    I loathe the uptight over complicated analysis of this letter. Students like this deserve to be praised. The author tried to commit herself to an endeavor, that has likley been lauded by her peers and family, at great personal financial sacrifice. Quite frankly, we as a society provide young persons with an absolutely incorrect idea of what kind of asset a law degree actually represents; a true asset represents value in and of itself. A legal education simply is not this kind of asset, regardless if it once was.

    I sincerely feel bad for those of you that can chide the author. I am a product of the exact same scenario, and so are thousands of others. We have an uphill climb to get out of debt which generally starts 4 years after our undergrad peers, lasts a decade, and hangs over us like a death fog making us lose hair, friends and sanity.

    If the author happens to read my post, please know that I think you merely iterated the thoughts of thousands of folks in your exact same situation. Congratualtions, your education has made you a true advocate of a noble position.

    • Since the letter’s author discussed his impending fatherhood, I’m pretty sure the correct gender here is male.

  16. The Dean should only consider the proposal if the student agrees to have no future access to his law school transcript. The student would otherwise enroll in another law school five years later to complete those last few credits.

    • I can promise you if he allowed that, that is a deal that would be grabbed up by more than one current law student.

      • I would take the deal, without any access to law school transcript, in a heartbeat.

        Sincerely,

        A student graduating in May 2011
        - top 75-100 law school
        - top 1/3 of my class

  17. I understand your grief, however this is a much broader issue. That has been created and which is sustained by the fact that Student Loans unlike other loans are essentially non-dischargeable debt. This is the real issue and to solve it you need to take on the Student Loan industry!

    • If student loans were dischargeable, the private lenders who fund those loans would charge interest rates closer to what credit cards charged.

      You can’t have it both ways.

      • Dear Logic, most of my graduate plus loans have an 8.5% fixed interest rate, while the Bank of America credit card that I use has a 7.99% interest rate (and has had this same rate since I first got the card in 2001). I know you left this comment a few months ago, but I want you to know that some student loans already carry an interest rate that is higher than some credit cards. If you ask why I took out student loans rather than charge tuition to my card, the answers are obvious: federal student loan repayment options and protections + I could not well put $200k on my credit card.

  18. I never encountered a university’s Career Services dept that actually found anyone a job.

  19. I’ve been a lawyer for 20 years, and, while I hate the work, it’s provided a very good living for me.

    For new graduates saddled with huge student loans and unable to find employment – why don’t you leave the country and try to get work elsewhere? Living in Buenos Aires or Bangkok would pretty much confound your creditors, I reckon.

    Work in an industry where you can build up an equity stake and you’ll wind up miles ahead of your classmates who became lawyers, both financially and in quality of life.

  20. as a classmate of this “anonymous” letter writer, I stopped sympathesizing with him once I got to know a little more about him and how he behaved in a seminar class – sitting at the back of the classroom facebooking, gchatting, emailing. I am talking about seminar-type classes. FYI, we had a award-winning professor for that class.

    It isn’t that he would have found a job if he had stopped playing with his laptop in class or the job prospect would have gotten better if more people had paid attention in class. Yet, I believe that if you do not even bother to get your money worth of your education, asking for a refund of your tuition is a shameless act.

  21. No sympathy for someone that knocks up his wife when he’s still in fucking school/during the worst economic depression. Maybe he should have waited a year to blow his wad.

    • What good would waiting a year have done? I suppose he should never choose to have children because now he’s saddled with $150K or more in useless education debt?

      I think that one puts off having children with their spouses because they can’t afford to have children because they have bought into a broken system is precisely the point he was trying to make. The system is wrecking lives.

    • Oh, and alternatively, he wasn’t asking for your fucking sympathy.

      And please, take a history class. This is hardly the “worst economic depression.” I suppose if your great grandparents had taken your advice during the actual worst economic depression in the United States, we would not have had to deal with your ignorant rant.

  22. Has the writer of this letter considered learning a foreign language? I went to a tier 2 law school and some classmates of mine who speak and write fluent Chinese got very lucrative legal jobs. Even document review jobs pay more than 50 bucks per hour.

    It may be time to stop being monolingual.

  23. yeah, americans who are monolingual should go bilingual (at least).

  24. I’m a 30 year old MBA and I was actually thinking about going back to school for a JD and after reading this article, I don’t want to. Why would anyone want to put themselves $150-180K in debt with the chances of not getting it back? I understand risk, but this is an unreasonable risk to take at this point–has anyone watched the news? We are sinking back into a recession and the stocks are crashing around us…and our president doesn’t even know how to fix this mess.

    I’m staying away from a JD and I suggest everyone else do the same…it’s not worth it.

    • MBA, thank God you get it.

      If you have friends who don’t, have them check out http://www.avoidthelawschooltrap.com.

      By the way, I love the law and I don’t begrudge law schools which don’t exaggerate prospects for jobs.

      That’s not the point. The point is the market for legal services performed by lawyers is shrinking – it is shrinking even for lawyers who have been top law school graduates. Either the ABA needs to develop a viable PR campaign as to why lawyers are valuable, or everyone needs to face the fact of shrinking markets and adjust accordingly.

  25. I really love reading your comments guys.I learn a lot from you.

    Thank you so much

    Regard,

    Epoyjun

  26. Future BC Law Dean Reply Apr 16, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    I could see BC Law writing this letter in the future:

    Dear Class of 2011 Open Letter Writer:

    It has come to our attention that, despite the terrible econony in 2011, you went out there, struggled for a few years, and somehow managed to make a living as a lawyer. Now the unthinkable has happened – you just settle a PI claim against a huge corp. for $20,000,000.00, 40% of which is yours.

    Basically, you used the education that we provided to pay yourself $8 mill. To add insult to injury, we hear that you are considering early retirement.

    We did not sign up for this. If we had known that you would use our facilities, training, and good name to make yourself fabulously wealthy, we would have charged tuition of at least $100k a year.

    We’ll make you a deal – give us 10% of your contingency fee as a donation, and we’ll call it square.

    Yours truly, Future BC Law Dean