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Inbox - 7/30/14

July 30, 2014
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Letters to the Editor

To the editor:

I am still scratching my head about the June 18-July 1 cover story by Marilyn Odendahl, “Employability begins long before graduation day.” While I enjoyed the article and appreciated the information on the statistics of the four ABA-approved Indiana law schools and their student success rates in finding jobs requiring a J.D. and bar passage, I still wonder about the intention, or perhaps more accurately, the takeaway message, of the article. I think one message that could reasonably be taken from the article is that law school is still a pretty awful investment in 2014, particularly if one’s goal is to become a practicing lawyer. I don’t recall ever meeting a student in law school whose desire was to go to law school for any reason other than to be a practicing lawyer, either in an established firm (the majority of my classmates) or on their own (minority of classmates, for sure). I’m sure there probably were some with goals other than being lawyers, but they were few and far between.

With that in mind, Notre Dame, the law school in the article with the highest 2013 placement of graduates in positions requiring a J.D. and bar passage, has nearly 30 percent of its 2013 graduating class sitting without a job – at least without a job requiring a J.D. and bar passage. The situation is even worse for the other three schools. IU-Maurer, over the years reported in the article, 2011-2013, has approximately 40 percent of its students not placed as practicing lawyers. Only (about) 50 percent of IU-McKinney students are gainfully employed in jobs requiring a J.D. and bar passage. Only (about) 40 percent of Valparaiso students are similarly employed. I would also be interested in what the average starting salaries are of those who were successfully employed in positions as licensed attorneys versus those who took other non-license-required positions. The ABA probably has that data; I just haven’t looked it up.

What I have looked up is the tuition for 2014-15 at each of the four Indiana law schools in the article. Valparaiso will charge about $40,000, IU-McKinney about $45,000, IU-Maurer about $50,000, and Notre Dame about $50,000, give or take a few thousand in fees and not including living expenses, books, etc. Also, I only looked at out-of-state tuition for McKinney and Maurer for comparison to the two private schools. Spending $120,000 to $150,000 in just tuition over three years is a huge investment with no guarantee of becoming a gainfully employed attorney. I am hoping that the renewed focus of law schools on getting students actual practice experience while in law school will improve these employment statistics substantially.

Rich Mitchell, Ph.D., J.D.

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  1. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  2. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  3. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  4. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  5. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

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