Ethics Hero: “Ludo,” Under-Employed Law Grad Blogger

True Grit - Reminds me of me

As Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) says of plucky Maddy Ross (Kim Darby) in the original, and best, film version of “True Grit,” Ludo “reminds me of me.”

Naturally, I admire him.

Ludo is, in his own words, ” a recent law school graduate and aspiring writer from Southern California. He is currently overeducated and underemployed, working two jobs and keeping sane only by writing down the stories of the crazy stuff happening to him.  He is currently working on his first book, a collection of stories from his days driving a taxi in Orange County….” He is beginning to get some publicity thanks to his blog, Law Grad Working Retail, which provides sometimes hilarious accounts of his current existence as an over-educated, presumed automatic admittee to America’s powerful and elite presumably thrust into life the way most of America lives it.

Do not lump Ludo with “Nando” and the other bitter, unemployed or under-employed recent law grads who have had their ire aroused by my observations about them on Ethics Alarms   (also here). He is doing exactly what he should be doing, using his unique talents to open up new opportunities while presenting himself to the world of law and elsewhere as a likely asset. As he writes in a recent post rebutting criticism of his blog… Continue reading

The Unprofessional Cause Of Unprofessional Lawyer Brian Zulberti

Brian ZYoung Brian Zulberti may be nice guy. He may even be a competent lawyer, though the chances of his being able to demonstrate that are diminishing daily. Nevertheless, his quixotic and misguided, and dare I say it, really stupid, quest to show that professionalism, judgment and character are not properly relevant to the practice of law is an exercise in hubris that must fail, deserves to fail, and of course, will fail, leaving him to pick up the pieces of fifteen minutes of media fame purchased at the price of a reputation. It looks like he’s having fun, and that’s something, I guess. Ten years from now, I doubt that he’ll think it was worth it.

Shortly after passing the Delaware Bar, Zulberti, a 2009 law school grad,  emailed the entire Bar membership asking for a job. In lieu of his résumé;  he attached a photo of himself in a Villanova Law muscle shirt that would be more at home on a dating site for the shallow. The web also contained his half-naked selfies, and various websites with varying motives picked up the story. Interviewed on YouTube, Zulberti proclaimed that being true to himself was more important to him than getting hired, and that he wasn’t about to change his Facebook privacy settings to portray himself as a traditional, dignified, applicant for legal work.

Let me pause here to say that in many ways I sympathize with Zulberti. Continue reading

Are Employers Ethically Obligated Not To Take Advantage of Women’s Negotiation Choices?


Yet another career for Shatner—coaching female job-seekers.

A recent study of 2500 job seekers indicated that men are far more likely to negotiate salary and benefits in job situations where it has no been stated that the salary is negotiable.

I am not surprised. Running non-profit organizations with limited resources, I always ended up with primarily female staffs because women would accept a lower offer than men with similar qualifications. This meant that the women got the jobs for salaries their male competition turned down. This, in turn, may have effected their salaries for a long time to come, in subsequent jobs. Is this bias?

Clearly not. The negotiations between an employer and potential employee are ethical and the conditions are known. A skilled negotiator (I am personally incompetent at negotiating my own fee; in ProEthics, my partner handles all of that) will get a better deal; a poor or reluctant negotiator will get terms more advantageous to the employer. It is not bias if the most aggressive and effective negotiators happen to be men.  Continue reading

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…


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. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Comment of the Day on ‘Young, Gullible, Lazy, Unimaginative and Unbelievable: I Wonder Why This Lawyer Has Trouble Finding A Job?'”

I couldn’t resist this one.

The thread on my post about an Occupy Wall Street protester who apparently was a law school grad and who held a hand-lettered sign blaming his failure to find work, not on the fact that he was standing around in a park holding a sign, but on his law school, has uncovered some unpleasant truths, such as…

  • Law schools are giving degrees to a lot of people who don’t know what to do with them
  • A lot of law school grads have not acquired some of the basic skills, like unbiased analysis, that their training was supposed to convey
  • A striking number of law school graduates identify with whiny unemployed 20-lear-olds holding signs
  • Too many people want to be lawyers for the money, rather than to serve a higher social function
  • Personal accountability is on the wane in America
  • People will believe the damnedest things if it will prevent them from accepting responsibility for their own plight, and
  • Confirmation bias is a frightening phenomenon.

Embodying many of these qualities was the recent post of someone with the apparently ethnic name of Iwantoremainanonymous-–Indian, perhaps?—who  had many observations typical of the thread that I unfortunately cannot permit to be posted, because he not only defied  the Ethics Alarms no anonymous comments rule, but, in his wealth of legal knowledge, disputes that I even have the right to make such rules.

Here is his jaw-dropping, incomplete Comment of the Day on “Comment of the Day on ‘Young, Gullible, Lazy, Unimaginative and Unbelievable: I Wonder Why This Lawyer Has Trouble Finding A Job?'”: Continue reading

Comment of the Day on “Young, Gullible, Lazy, Unimaginative and Unbelievable: I Wonder Why This Lawyer Has Trouble Finding A Job?”

Back in October of 2011, I wrote a post in reaction to the sign reproduced left, held by an Occupy Wall Street protester who either was an unemployed law graduate or who plays one on TV.   Many are the ethical matters and controversies that have spilled on these pages since, and copious is the water that has flowed under the bridge, but because not very many people, comparatively speaking, read ethics websites in general and this one in particular, it took the better part of a year for that post to reach the laptop of  disgruntled law grad with access to a website for disgruntled law grads. Thus suddenly my name has been taken in vain in several fora where underemployed, student loan-burdened JDs hang out. Some, gratefully, have been kind enough to alert me with comments to Ethics Alarms, expressing their unhappiness with my insensitivity. This, the Comment of the Day, is such a post, by lawyer (presumably) Bobby Wilberger.

I must say at the outset that Bobby is lucky to have this posted, and I must say that because I don’t want another lawyer citing it as precedent. Bobby, who by definition if his post is to be taken seriously, had legal training, apparently didn’t absorb the part about following rules, being honest and truthful and reading documents relating to your work carefully. The posting requirements for Comments, clearly indicated at the top of this page, require a valid e-mail address. Bobby did not supply me with such an address, instead giving me a fake address with the clever suffix of “”.  This would pretty much ding Bobby if I were hiring, and is consistent with my over-all thesis that if you are an un- or underemployed law grad the first thing you need to do to get to the bottom of your problems is to look in the mirror.

I’ll have more to say after Bobby’s post. Here it is, the Comment of the Day, on Young, Gullible, Lazy, Unimaginative and Unbelievable: I Wonder Why This Lawyer Has Trouble Finding A Job?: Continue reading

Is It Fair For A Business To Discriminate Against the Homely?


Take your pick!

The EEOC is investigating a popular Boston area coffee shop chain, alleging that it discriminates in favor of attractive young waitresses to the detriment of older or more homely waitresses. The management of Marylou’s disputes the accusation, arguing that its hiring pool is disproportionately young and attractive.

I don’t want to get into the actual guilt or innocence here, but rather muse about the ethical issue. Should there be laws preventing employers from using attractiveness as a criteria in hiring, if it is relevant to the success of the business, or even if it is not? If a coffee shop owner’s patrons are overwhelmingly male, and the owner believes that having waitresses who look good in a starched uniform makes the customers happy and more likely to spend their money, why should the law prevent that? Is there anything really wrong with the conduct? Continue reading

Actor Ethics: Welcome to Colombia!

Yes, Sarah Bernhardt was probably unethical too. Actors!

I just blacklisted an actor, at least as far as my theater company is concerned, and I feel badly about it, because I don’t like banishing artists even when they deserve it. This individual did deserve it, however.

I held auditions a couple of months ago for a very difficult and complex production requiring special talents and a large cast. The turn-out was excellent, and the quality of talent was superb, with the actors obviously excited about the project. Since the script needs to be tailored to individual performers, the fear of an actor dropping out after being cast was especially strong (the maxim in the theater community is “cast early, cast often…”), so I took the unusual step of asking every auditioner who had a good chance of being cast to be honest about their commitment to the show. “If you want to be considered for this project,” I said, “I need to have your assurance that you are serious about it and will not tell me, after we have decided to cast you, that you have changed your mind. The show is like a big jigsaw puzzle, and casting you will affect whether we cast other actors, not just in your role but in roles that interact with yours. And I definitely do not want to cast someone who is going to turn around in a week or a month and say, ‘Sorry, I got a better offer.’ This is a commitment, and if we are committing to you, I need to know that you are committing to us.”

When the offers went out, a few actors nonetheless refused. One had just learned that she needed to seek more lucrative employment because her husband had been laid off; another had union problems. Over the next several months, there was another major loss, as an actress whom I had cast even before auditions—right before the delivery of her first child—told me that parenthood was more involving in reality than she had predicted when she committed to jumping into a major role so soon. I had thought this might happen, and, frankly, now felt that she was making the right decision.  I told her: “As a director, I was happy to let you be irresponsible for the benefit of my show, but as a parent, I’m glad your priorities are straight.”

The other day, however, one of the actors who had gladly accepted a role sent our producer a terse e-mail saying:

“Unfortunately, I can no longer do the show.  Thank you so much for all your help with everything; I’m very sorry for the inconvenience.” Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Case of the Fake But Accurate Social Security Card”

My ethics conundrum regarding the fake but accurate Social Security card solution—the Dan Rather approach, if you will— continued to garner a wide range of responses. Rick, as usual, has delivered one of the most thoughtful and provocative, and it is a worthy Comment of the Day.

Here is his comment on “Ethics Quiz: The Case of the Fake But Accurate Social Security Card”:

It strikes me that sometimes—not always, but sometimes—ethics is on a continuum. There’s the truly ethical, the not unethical, and the unethical, with many finer distinctions to be made.

I don’t running screaming into the night at the idea of faking a card, under the circumstances. Still, the truly ethical thing to do in this situation is to tell the prospective employer the truth. And the availability of all those other possible means of identification is indeed relevant. Provide one of the non-Social Security card alternatives and whatever other documentation is available. Importantly, if the employer, for whatever reason, is unwilling to accept this legally sufficient documentation, you don’t want to work for this person, no matter how much you need a job. Continue reading