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Public servitude

By Owen Paine on Wednesday March 19, 2008 10:29 PM

Maybe Harvard Law is feeling a little chastened by the disgrace of their prize alum, Eliot Spitzer. Or perhaps the bottom is starting to drop out of the lawyer biz, the way it did out of the doctor biz a few years ago. Not a minute too soon, if so. At any rate, the Johns have a new marketing strategy:
Harvard Law, Hoping Students Will Consider Public Service, Offers Tuition Break

Concerned by the low numbers of law students choosing careers in public service, Harvard Law School plans to waive tuition for third-year students who pledge to spend five years working either for nonprofit organizations or the government.

The program, to be announced Tuesday, would save students more than $40,000 in tuition...

For years, prosecutors, public defenders and lawyers in traditionally low-paying areas of the law have argued that financial pressures were pushing graduates toward corporate law and away from the kind of careers that they would pursue in the absence of tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.

“The debt loads that people are coming out of law schools with are now in six figures,” said Joshua Marquis, the... vice president of the National District Attorneys Association. “When the debt load is that great, I have had a lot of applicants who’ve said, ‘I’d like to take the job, but I really can’t afford it.’ ”

Perhaps worse, Mr. Marquis said, some indebted young lawyers who choose to try to survive on a low salary as a junior prosecutor may decide to leave to earn more just as they gain enough experience to handle more important cases.

So let me get this straight -- Harvard is going to pay its bright young sparks to spend five years putting yet more people in jail. This in a country whose incarceration rates currently lead the world, if I recall correctly.

I wonder -- is it possible that this is just some high-minded muffled pretext for a Filene's Basement discount price on a Harvard Law education? Has this priceless sheepskin started to lose its luster?

O how I hope so. Here's my advice to all you young people out there: avoid the Harvard anointment as you would avoid buying a house, and for the same reason -- the bubble may just have burst. You don't want to end up with negative equity, and the sliding price says Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!

And whatever you do, stay out of "public service". You don't need the public, and man, they don't need you.

Comments (6)


notice how well written this post is for a change
not my usual brambled figure gorged leadificationizationing

its because
i didn't write it

be from our fearless editor
father 'perry white'
'don't call me chief '
smifffff ???


i've always figured out public sector under paid its sabre toothed professions

seriously folks

i want top preditors working for uncle sam's cull pack
not moth holed goo goo bumpkins


"Public Service" would also, presumably, include the Judge Advocate General Corps of the various Armed Forces...y'know, where all the decent military lawyers with any conscience have been resigning in droves...

Yep, let's pack those Harvard boys off to Gitmo...maybe they can even do summer internships there before graduation.

I work in the public sector (librarian). I've thought about law school off and on through the years, though with the way things are going in the economy, I realize my primary objective is just to service my current debt obligations as quickly as possible and otherwise start hoarding 1) food 2) guns and ammo 3) gold.
And learning how to grow a garden.
I'm thankful I can walk to work, too.

I read somewhere yesterday that the currency exchange in the Amsterdam (Netherlands) airport didn't want to accept US dollars anymore in trade for Euros, they're afraid of loosing too much money too quickly by doing so.

Gerry Spence wrote the book (literally) on the whole Law school racket in WITH JUSTICE FOR NONE, and it's a recurring theme in most of his books, never far from the surface.


"perhaps the bottom is starting to drop out of the lawyer biz, the way it did out of the doctor biz a few years ago"

what did i miss
according to one of my most favorite gad-nerd

dean "ginger" baker

at least until yesterday
our medical docs
wwre making scads more per duty diem
then their equally meritorious
euro counterparts

i guess even adjusting
for recent euro /dollar gyrationing
this must still be so

so far as i know
the the down sizing of the merit class pay packet
the whole out sourced over seas-ed
amer-hu-cap hiccup story
has a few zillion chapters
yet to be written
or at least published

but i'm on board
at least in spirit
for the regatta trip
to the bottom

" hey doc doldrum
what's with the long face ...
not getting enough
diet and exercise "


It's my impression -- maybe I'm wrong -- that docs are not doing nearly so well as they were before Hillary, Part Un -- back in the early 90s.

We might feel tempted to thank her for this, except that the beneficiaries were insurance companies, surely a group even more despicable than doctors.

The result has been that doctoring, like computer programming and running a newsstand, has increasingly become a game for people from the Subcontinent.

Bat Delacourte:

Here's the BLS page on the job outlook and wages for physicians. It looks skewed to me. The plum positions, honoria and other perqs get snapped up by celebrity docs and accomplished self-marketers. The rest, especially in rural areas and inner cities, put in hours that are poorly compensated relative to the stress. The good docs get shoved into the margins.

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