Bitter Judge Strikes Again

The following is a follow-up from “TexJudge,” the former Texas Court of Criminal Appeals judge who wrote the highly debated post, “Are Law Schools Screwing Students?”

I appreciate the comments from all those who responded to my recent article concerning law school tuition. My figures for 1977 lawyer salaries were based on starting pay and, if anything, I may have erred on the high side. I do recall that a large county in Texas at that time was paying first-year assistant DAs around $25K.

One reader does make a very good point that law school tuition inflation may be tied to ever-increasing amounts of federally provided student loans. This is a classic case of moral hazard: People will consume or use more of a product or service if someone else is paying the bill regardless of whether or not the service or product is good for the consumer or society in the short or long term. More loans for law students means more law students and more law schools. The recent takeover of student loans by the federal government (part of the health care bill) will likely make it worse both on the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Can the ABA prevent new law schools from opening? No, but it can certainly make the accreditation process more difficult.  Although it will never happen, the folks now in charge of student loans could decide we do not need, say, another 30,000 new lawyers every year and only authorize, say, 15,000 loans per year for law students. The same restrictions should be applied to undergraduate students who want to major in such “useful” pursuits as 14th century French poetry and womens’ studies—ones that are unlikely to lead to jobs that pay enough to enable repayment of the loans.

It should be noted that California has more lawyers than Japan and France combined.

By the way, I do consider myself to be a Bitter Judge. Why? For one thing, I am a judge in the South, which means there is no way I could ever be on the Supreme Court. In the last 90 years, only one judge from Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia combined (Justice Tom Clark, Texas, nominated by Lyndon Johnson over 40 years ago) has served on our nation’s highest court. Has the South been redlined? Show me the evidence that lawyers who grew up within 300 miles of New York City or went to Ivy League law schools are more qualified than those who are from Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami or Charlotte and attended excellent law schools like Texas or Duke. Yes, we like NASCAR and football and Law Firm 10, but we don’t put people into high office like Eliot Spitzer or allow unions to bankrupt our states like New York, New Jersey and California. Some of us may be rednecks, but we are not that dumb.

As a final point, BigLaw lawyers are no better in court than those who did not go to Ivy League schools or work in less-prestigious firms. If anything, juries are often turned off by BigLaw lawyers who may be technically brilliant and great at document review but lack the people skills needed to connect with the average juror.

Check out other Bitter Exclusives.

  • quado

    Bitter Judge…I dig it.  Good stuff sir, keep it up.

  • Bitter PA Atty

    Boo yah!  Bitter Judge nails it.

  • thenambypamby

    Big fan of bitter judge.

  • Craig

    Yea, really enjoyed this one.  I like the new slant that we don’t get that much of here at Bitter Lawyer.  Keep em coming.

  • Juris Depravis

    Good shit from Bitter Judge x2.  In honor of Spitzer, we can give these articles two BJ’s up.
    One point of contention: classes like women’s studies are great ways to bag chicks and easy A’s at the same time, so I would shed a small tear should programs such as this be cut in the future.  I mean, shouldn’t subsequent generations have the same chances to get blown via a blow-off class?

  • BL1Y

    Feminist Jurisprudence may have been the most useful class.  Really fine tuned my bullshit detector.

  • Big Jim

    Nice post!  Gotta love a bitter judge!!!!

  • unabashed yankee

    BJ seems all riled up still by the loss of the Civil War.  Your sided got schooled son.  Get over it.  Keep trying to use that 10th Amend to reverse history. 
    Blaming unions is too simplistic and leaves out the other half at the bargaining table. And I’ll take Spitzer over G.W. Bush any day.  any century.  Same goes for Vitter.  Sanford.  Cornyn.  Wallace.  Sessions.  Gohmert.  Joe Barton.  Paul.  Bull Connor.  Jindal.  Or any number of racist disasters.  Sad fact, your Honor:  the intellectual capital in this country is *not* evenly divided.  Sorry to be the one to tell you this.  But cannot imagine this is news to you.

  • Sienna

    Did you ever think that the reason most lawyers from the South are not on the Supreme Court is because they ALWAYS think they’re smarter than the people in the north.  Spitzer screwed a HO, and bankruptcy occurred because MOST Conservatives complain that the government is too involved in their business, but the minute bankruptcy occurs, everyone complains that the government should be making these firms pay back for their mistakes. Conservatives are always in everyone else’s business UNLESS it’s a business that makes YOU money. The minute you’re in trouble, you ask for the govt’s help. Who cares if Sptizer screwed a prostitute. Please. He’s not the first and he won’t be the last. Liberals cheat on their wives with females, and Conservatives always get caught tapping the bathroom floor. Please don’t be a hypocrite.

  • Chick Litigator

    Hey Sienna – when did we start talking about conservatives? I believe the discussion was about southerners. Not everyone who lives below the Mason-Dixon line is a conservative. For the record, I am a southerner and know plenty of born and bred liberal southerners. Just like I’m sure there are conservative northerners out there. But then again, what the fuck do I know? I’m just gun-totting, bible-thumping, capitalism-loving southern conservative who would own your ass any day in any courtroom.

    BTW, loved the article Judge. Keep it coming.

  • Sienna

    Chuck-You would never see me in court because I’m not a lawyer. Lawyers always think their shit doesn’t stink.

  • SouthernMan

    “we don’t put people into high office like Eliot Spitzer”
    Umm, what about David Vitter, Mark Sanford, John Edwards, and Bill Clinton?
    Don’t forget Bob Livingston (remember him?) and although he isn’t a southerner, the good people of Georgia elected Newt Gingrich.
    The South has no right to throw stones about politicians who can’t keep it in their pants.

  • Lainey

    Men never keep it in their pants. If I come back as a man, I’m going to walk around with my BIG friend hanging out at work, on the subway, etc.

  • Litigator

    It is actually even longer since a southerner was appointed to the Court than TexJudge writes. 
    Tom Clark was nominated by Harry Truman in 1949.  He retired in 1967, and his seat was taken by Thurgood Marshall.

  • Butch Roberts

    What about the nomination of Harriet Miers?  Never mind.

  • prog

    I think the solution is quite simple – allow students to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy.  Right now – lenders crank out the student loans because they know students will be unable to get out of the loans.  As such, lenders have no incentive to limit the amount of loans they give out or impose any sort of realistic approval process.  If you allowed students to discharge student loan debt, that would deter loan institutions from giving out the vast majority of loans.  This would in turn decrease the amount of people who can “afford” to go to law school.
    FYI – federal loans are capped at $18,000 a year – which is generally only about 40-50% what students usually take out to go to law school.  If that was my only law school debt I’d be dancing a jig right now.  The practical reality is that even if you eliminated federal loans – students would just take out the same amount of money from all private lenders.  The fundamental problem is that private lenders have ZERO incentive to limit the amount of loans they crank out.  As a result, law schools (and other educational institutions) can jack up the prices as high as they want because they know students will be borrowing the money anyways, not truly understanding the significance of the debt, and the schools can just BS them about how much money they will make and make it seem like they can pay it all off in a reasonable amount of time.

  • Vilna

    I am not interested in reading about a bitter judge and his own view of the legal world.  We are lawyers, and it is summer time.  Let’s just bring on the scantily clad bimbos please and we will take it from there.