Unethical Website of the Month: Third Tier Reality

Mr. Furious, of the Mystery Men

Third Tier Reality is one of many blogs recently founded by disappointed law graduates who somehow labored under the misconception that a law school degree guaranteed that they would get 6 figure offers from big law firms and then live the life of Denny Crane until they could retire to a Caribbean island at the age of 55. A depressing number of these deluded souls managed to get themselves in hock up to their eyeballs, and when the recession hit and law firms cut back, felt first, like fools, second, angry and desperate, and third, that it was everyone else’s fault. Thus was born the “law school scam” conspiracy theory. Third Tier Reality, like the others of its breed, maintains that law schools intentionally misled scores of trusting students to pay their obscenely high tuitions,  knowing that they were pumping out more lawyers than the legal market would bear.

To the extent that the site tries to educate would-be law students that there is no guaranteed gravy-train at the end of three years of law school, the website is, at worst, harmless. “My goal is to inform potential law school students and applicants of the ugly realities of attending law school,” he writes. His message: Do not seek a law degree unless…

“(1) YOU GET INTO A TOP 8 LAW SCHOOL; (2) YOU GET A FULL-TUITION SCHOLARSHIP TO ATTEND; (3) YOU HAVE EMPLOYMENT AS AN ATTORNEY SECURED THROUGH A RELATIVE OR CLOSE FRIEND; OR (4) YOU ARE FULLY AWARE BEFOREHAND THAT YOUR HUGE INVESTMENT IN TIME, ENERGY, AND MONEY DOES NOT, IN ANY WAY, GUARANTEE A JOB AS AN ATTORNEY OR IN THE LEGAL INDUSTRY.”

That’s all good advice, though it presumes that more people get law degrees under the delusion alluded to in (4) than I believe is true. Nobody ever told me that a law degree guaranteed a high-paying job as an attorney, and if we understood that decades ago when law was booming, I don’t see where the confusion set in. I worked in the administration of Georgetown Law Center, and that school never made such a representation. In addition, Third Tier Reality goes further, as its brethren blogs do, to insist that a law degree from less than a “First Tier” school is actually an impediment in the job market. I hate to kick this particular hornets nest again, but this is a self-serving rationalization for failure.

A good law school education improves your writing, speaking, analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as giving you a versatile knowledge base that is useful in not just many other fields, but every other field.  “Third tier” law schools are certainly capable of providing this; it doesn’t have to be a “top 8” school. (If you want a scam, try the law school rating system. As with colleges, there just is not that big a difference between the top ten and the top 50.) If you go to law school and can’t get a legal job or a professional job in another field where a knowledge of law or the skills or a lawyer are useful (which is to say, most of them), then the problem isn’t the law school, or the “scam” or that a legal degree isn’t respected by employers.

It’s you.

It literally drives “Nando,” the author of this website, and his fellow Toys-R-Us clerk/law grads crazy when I say this, which I have said before. On “Nando’s” site, I am accorded full villain status for the post I wrote last October, chiding an Occupy demonstrator for hanging out in the park with a sad, hand-lettered complaining that his law degree didn’t get him the job he thought it guaranteed. Maybe that was Nando. You see, we don’t need conspiracy theories or the sudden, mythical unpopularity of law degrees in the workplace or even the recession to explain why he can’t find a job. All we need is his website.

Nando, you see, is angry. Not Paul Krugman angry, or even Lewis Black angry. We’re talking full-bore, deranged postal worker, Mr. Furious angry. (I wonder…nah. Can’t be.) Here’s a typical passage, and far from the most agitated:

“Conclusion: Steven Davidoff is merely another academic hustler, trying to keep the wool over the applicants’ eyes. Davidoff seeks to use his background from the London Business School as solidify his excrementitious argument. He employs double-speak and false dilemmas to make his “case” that law school graduates are better off than their counterparts in veterinary school. NOTHING could be further from the truth….Veterinary schools do the humane thing and limit the number of seats to match the future need of animal doctors AT THE APPLICATION STAGE. In stark contrast, law school pigs accept and graduate FAR TOO MANY students – meaning that they unnecessarily strap down legions of their graduates with tons of non-dischargeable debt. (Of course, the cockroaches cynically assert that they are opening the doors of the “profession” to historically under-represented groups.)… U.S. “law professors” often attempt to justify the exaggerated costs of “legal education” by claiming that grads can practice law for 40 years. However, they fail to point out that, every year, ABA-accredited law schools produce TENS OF THOUSANDS of grads who never practice law. The dogs also conveniently “forget” to mention that tons of lawyers are out of the “profession” within 5-10 years.”

That’s not all. In addition to routinely referring to others, especially law deans and professors, as “cockroaches,” “pigs,” “dogs” and even more denigrating terms ( I, for example, am “a ball-less, spineless, brainless waste of sperm and egg. The man has no character and no integrity. He bills himself as a purported “ethics guru.” Always be leery of these types; by nature, they are mere charlatans who seek to avoid real work. However, this physically and ethically grotesque pig takes deceit and dishonesty to another level.”  So unfair. I have never billed myself as an “ethics guru”!), Nando decorates his site with graphic photographs of various forms of fecal matter, including a particularly nauseating shot of the aftermath of explosive diarrhea.

What is the likelihood that such a pathologically bitter, mean-spirited, hateful and uncivil individual will persuade an employer that he should be trusted to interact with clients or customers? I can assure you that a bar admissions committee reviewing Nando’s application for membership in any jurisdiction in the nation would take one spin through Third Tier Reality and plant a large, red REJECTED stamp on the cover page. This is the great irony of this website: while blaming law schools for the inability of some graduates to find the jobs they want, the writer makes it blindingly clear why he can’t find a legal job, and it has nothing to do with his diploma.

118 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, The Internet, U.S. Society, Unethical Websites, Workplace

118 responses to “Unethical Website of the Month: Third Tier Reality

  1. Haas

    Hello everyone,

    As a disclaimer, I am just a third year medical student and I am not looking to criticize anyone. In addition, I have the utmost admiration for your profession and share many of your struggles. Reading everyone’s–well articulated–arguments has left me with one lingering question: why isn’t there a cap on the number of degrees granted yearly by each law school?

    The number of medical students a school licenses is determined by some sort of governing body. I do not really know the specifics of the process, but would not implementing a similar system be beneficial–from academics to employment–to the law profession as a whole?

    My apologies if this has already been covered and I truly wish you all the best in your careers.

    • Barry

      Haas, there has been some antitrust issues with law schools, the ABA and the DoJ, but the current issue is whom the glut of new grads helps:

      1) Law schools and universities – law schools are cash cows (or have been, up to recently), and the customers are both clueless and government-subsidized.
      2) People on the boards of the above.
      3) Major financial institutions enjoying making loans which are government-backed and not dischargeable in bankrupcty. High returns, low risk.
      4) Partners at law firms (those of more than a few partners, not the very small ones). They hire lawyers, and love cheap labor.

  2. Stephen

    I graduated in the early 2000s from one of these so-called “Fourth Tier” law schools – Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. Fortunately, I never have had a difficult time obtaining employment in the legal field. My first job out of law school was working as a law clerk for a circuit judge in Montgomery, AL. Then, I landed a job very shortly thereafter as a deputy attorney general to the Alabama Secretary of State. After two years with the AL Sec of State, I wanted to do something else, by getting out and really practicing law. So, I put in my resume’ to Legal Services Alabama (it’s called Legal Aid Society in some states) and I was hired as their brand new domestic violence attorney for a six-county territory in south-central/southeast Alabama. I worked in this very rewarding capacity at LSA for nearly three years. In the summer of 2007, I just by chance, ended up leaving the active practice of law in order to work for my undergraduate alma mater, Troy University, as the university’s first-ever Planned Giving Director. I wouldn’t have gotten this job with Troy University without my law degree (or without having a CPA license) because the university wanted this person to have either a law degree or have the CPA designation. (Many, maybe most, Planned Giving Directors across the country have law degrees.) I was at Troy University for two years. In 2009, I was hired to another planned giving position with the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC is one of the premiere non-profit civil rights organizations in the country. I’ve now been at the SPLC for seven years. I keep my law license current and the SPLC pays for my CLEs and my annual law license dues.

    So, long story short, I’ve put together a professional resume’ that can rival many (probably most) graduates of any top tier law school. It comes down to who you know, how you apply yourself and being in the right place at the right time.

    I didn’t go to law school because I had visions of earning millions of dollars. I went to law school because I wanted a law degree and a law license. And, I knew that I would have an opportunity to earn a decent living and I am doing just that. I’m not from a family of lawyers. I’m the only member of my immediate family who is an attorney. I have one very distant cousin who is an attorney. Both of my parents are educators and I had a grandmother who was a teacher, as well. So, maybe I’m in a minority, but I’ve literally carved out my own path with the help of people who I’ve met along the way in various capacities. But, at the end of the day, I’ve gotten all of these jobs on my own merit and with my “Fourth Tier” law school diploma.

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