Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Everything Sunny All The Time Always

In my most recent post, I referenced an editorial from the National Jurist - and something from that editorial has really stuck in my craw, especially in light of their recent "everything sunny all the time always" article about how law students today enjoy a better standard of living than 10 years ago.

More specifically, the most recent editorial states:
It’s almost as if the big firms grew fat on the wild speculation and frenzy of the housing market and financial markets. And then when things came to a halt in 2008, the party was over for the big firms.  Sadly, many law students were hoping to cash in on that party, but arrived too late. That then led to a lot of negativity about law school over the past few years – especially from the so-called scam bloggers.
Initially, I agree with the perception that large law firms expanded along with the housing and financial bubbles - and then crashed in 2008 when the work went away.  However, the rest of the quote seems to adopt a tone that is particularly offensive in light of the seemingly constant pro-go-to-law school message that National Jurist appears to espouse.

More specifically, they attempt to imply that law students that graduated after 2008 were being motivated by greed ("were hoping to cash in") and that their inability to "cash in" is the cause of negativity.  In this regard, the article seems to shift "blame" for the law students not having jobs onto their own "greed". 

National Jurist - America is not North Korea where the past can be re-written in an Orwellian attempt to maintain that the "state is always right."  When did the National Jurist publish articles warning those considering going to law school of the approach of a bubble?  When did the National Jurist warn those graduating in 2008 that salary increases were not likely to continue?  Also, did you broadcast this message in about 2005 when those graduating in 2008 would have been able to consider it?  Even if you did, what was the percentage breakdown in articles that you published during that time frame that fell into the following camps: 1) pro-go-to-law school, "everything sunny all the time always", as opposed to 2) cautionary tale, law school might not be a good opportunity, think twice before attending?

My recollection is that the overwhelming majority (if not all) of the articles that you published, National Jurist, during the time frame of 2005-2006 were very much pro-law school.  I also recall that most other articles published by most other law-related media were also pro-go-to-law school during that time frame.  Considering that a prospective law student during that time frame would have faced a pretty unanimous blare of pro-go-to-law school propaganda, how do you arrive at the contention that those law students when to law school because of their "greed"?

National Jurist, you - and your relentless "everything sunny all the time always" message - are in part responsible for those graduating after 2008 not having jobs.  You were part of the unitary voice urging those who wanted a better future for themselves to go to law school.  You might respond that "no one could have predicted the economy", but then if that is so, the honorable thing to do is admit that you were wrong - that the "everything sunny all the time always" was based on your misunderstanding then and are no longer right.

It is absolutely NOT honorable to fail to mention your part in inducing law students to go to law school by consistently telling them what a great opportunity it is - and then attempt to characterize the law students as being motivated by "greed" and solely responsible for their bad employment outcome.  Let's see - your articles give advice to prospective law students to go to law school, they do so and then can't find a job and you want to portray them as greedy and responsible for their own misery?  Come on! You are effectively telling the law students "you were a sucker for believing what I was saying."  That's just not cool.

But you know what the worst part is, National Jurist?  YOU'RE STILL DOING IT!!  You are still encouraging people to go to law school by publishing misleading articles about law school outcomes.  I'll cite my previous post where I review you article entitled "Recent Law Grads Enjoy A Better Standard Of Living Than 10 Years Ago" and we determine that it is just NOT TRUE for the majority of law students.  You are also aware (as referenced here) that the 2010 data is considerably worse than the 2009 data - however you don't even mention it in the article!  Instead, you again attempt to put an "everything sunny all the time always" spin on the terrible information by entitling the article "The Good News About The Dismal Salary Report."

Frankly, National Jurist, how dare you.  How dare you consistently maintain your "everything sunny all the time always" message - and then when people follow it and can't get a job, attempt to distance yourself and place the blame on the law students by portraying them as "greedy" - and yet, incredibly, at the same time keep pumping out the "everything sunny all the time always" message.  The law students that graduated in 2008 were sold a bill of goods - and you did the selling (in part). 

Your disdain for the "scam-bloggers" also shows that either you 1) fail to appreciate the disconnect between your "everything sunny all the time always" message and the actual employment outcomes, or 2) are attempting to minimize or spread disdain for their voice.  In reality, the only reason that the "scam blogs" exist is that they provide a valuable counter-voice when (for many years) every other voice seemed to hegemonicallyesque way support a "everything sunny all the time always" message that has disastrous impacts for tens of thousands of law students every year - these are real people whose lives are being severely impacted.  That is, if traditional media - such as yourself National Jurist - presented a more balanced outlook with regard to going to law school, if you reported on the failures and problems as well as the triumphs, then there would be no need for the "scam blogs" and most likely they would not exist.  Why?  Because they would not have been sold a misleading bill of goods in the first place by you and others.  That is, with more balanced reporting about the cons of the law school decision there would likely not have been the current bubble of law students - or it would be less.  Further, even if there was some bubble, they would not be able to think that you were part of the "scam" because your message had been consistently balanced - if not somewhat skeptical.

Although their modalities may occasionally be immature or offensive, at root the "scam blogs" exist because you (and others) are not doing your job in providing a fair and accurate picture of the pros and cons of going to law school.  Further, you would ideally write with an eye to really communicating to undergrads (who may have rosy vision) that there are potential severe negative repercussions.  I urge you to do the right thing and 1) back away from the "everything sunny all the time always", pro-go-to-law school message and accord with your obligation to the public to provide a more balanced picture, and 2) take responsibility for your previously urging law students to go to law school and there being an undesirable employment outcome - it's OK to mention that you did not know what the economy would do, no one did - and develop a plan so that it is less likely to happen again, and 3) above all else, stop beating up on the poor, out-of-work-and-buried-in-debt kids that you helped create.  Stop portraying them as greedy.  Do the right thing.  Stop selling law school and save the lives of the people who would otherwise attend and be left with nothing by debt and a lingering resentment that they have been deceived.

Last Minute Addition - National Jurist - you may ask yourself "who should I model in this brave new world"?  In that regard, I would put forth this recent New York Times article on NY Law School.  Write articles like this and you need not be bothered by "scam blogs" - or your conscience.


  1. Nice call. However, citizens, the shills are always right - remember that. All praise be our economic overlords who can do no wrong, all blame be to the little people who are being taken for a ride in the first place.

  2. 10:42 - I really don't want to see the issue as polarized as that. Maybe more precisely, I don't necessarily want to include journalists in the category of "shills". (Don't get me wrong, there are certainly many "shills" currently working - in fact many Deans and law school recruiters seem to be operating more as "shills" than as responsible educators.)

    However, and maybe I am just dated here, but I like to think that one of the points of journalism is to present a counter voice to the establishment - to speak truth to power - to tell the whole world when the emperor has no clothes on, and to always aim for honesty and the truth.

    I salute the reporting in the NY Times that I cite above. It seems to be just what journalists SHOULD be doing. However, we have a failure to act responsibly on the part of many journalists and we have deception where educators are presenting themselves as responsible educators working in non-profit organizations with the best of intentions for their students - but then in many cases really seem to just be trying to drive enrollment, regardless of their professed beliefs and responsibilities ("shilling"). Law school to them has become just a business - and a highly profitable one - that is often used to sustain very high salaries.