Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Prepared to be Dazzled . . . or at least Razzled

From Wikipedia
I started to read "Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything."  I was intrigued to say the least.  I have always wanted to understand economics better, and have even attempted self study.  I feel like I am supposed to understand it with both a law and business degree.  But I really just don't.  So I thought, "Ooh, here's a book that is catchy, in a narrative, and maybe I'll pick up some economics . . . better yet, some Freakonomics . . ."

So I began to read.  I read a book in an artful way, like the way Mortimer Alder guides us in "How to Read a Book" (by the way, if you haven't read this book, you're fooling yourself if you think you know how to read a book, and if you think you know how to read a book, this book will in fact correct your deficiency in book reading . . .).  I start at the cover.  I read the inside flaps, I read the back, I read the table of contents, the reviews, the explanatory note, the preface, the disclaimers, the theses, etc.  I haven't even gotten to the first page of content but the expectation for Freakonomics is palpable!  The authors have already told the reader their credentials, their claims to fame, the artistic intelligence.  I turn, with excitement, to the introduction, titled, "The Hidden Side to Everything."

I began to absorb their narrative.  They begin to explain that crime dropped drastically in recent years, in large, dangerous cities.  They begin to unfold the story of mayors, police chiefs, councilmen, politicians, and other civic leaders that take the glory for keeping the streets clean and safe.  Then they uncloak the mystery of the real reason for the drop in crime . . .

Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the early 1970s.  1972 to be exact.  Twenty years before the massive drop in crime.  The two authors theorize that the freedom to abort an unborn baby brought a drastic drop in crime because these unborn babies in particular would grow up to become criminals.  Their mothers were
"poor, unmarried, and teenage."  Sounds to me like abortion solved a national crisis...

from Zazzle.com
Except for the fact that abortion may not have solved the crime problem.  Correlation does NOT imply causation.  Picture this: You're driving down a rural highway and you begin to see more telephone poles.  You begin to see more at increasing intervals.  Then you realize that you begin to see more cows.  And you begin to see more cows at increasing intervals.  Would it be wise to say, "The increase of cows is the cause of the increase in telephone poles"?  No, you would say, "That's probably a coincidence."

Can we know that the only women needing abortions in the 1970s were "poor, unmarried, [ ] teenage[rs]"? Of course not.  Can we know that the drastic reduction in 1990 crime rates was because criminals were not born? Of course not (for after all, many law abiding citizens were also not born).  My zeal to learn anything from Freakonomics has been quelled.  The authors are probably brilliant.  But to lead with a feigning right hook leaves me cold.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I Want the World on a String

Image from
The February 2011 issue of ABA Journal contains an Article titled, "Law School? Bag It, Bloggers Say." Recent law school graduates and current third year law students are 'scamblogging' their job frustrations . . . Or let me say it more accurately: their 'lack of job' frustrations.

This article includes several examples of outraged law graduates and current law students. Their outrage is geared and pointed at their law schools.  Their outrage is directed from the current job market.  Their outrage is outrageous.  Why you ask? I'm glad you did.

ABA Journal reports, "[O]ne Boston College Law School 3L recently wrote an open letter to the school's dean asking for a return of his tuition in exchange for a promise to drop out of school without obtaining his degree. 'With fatherhood impending, I go to bed every night terrified of the thought of trying to provide for my child and paying of my JD, and resentful at the thought that I was convinced to go to law school by empty promises of a fulfilling and remunerative career" (emphasis in the original)

Really?  What a ridiculous statement. In the law of contracts, even if you get a bum deal, with consideration, bargain, and a "meeting of the minds" you still get a contract.  So, if this 3L listened in Contracts, he'd know that he will be responsible for making the decision; for making the contract.  Also, does he think his three years of money was for paper?  That he has WASTED his money? He has after all gained three years of legal knowledge.  He, as Kingsfield said, has had his brain turned from mush and now thinks like a lawyer.

Image from
And what empty promises?  The promise was to receive a law degree from that school, which he will. No school ever promises that you'll change the world making $200,000 per year.  Do law schools really need a "These results not typical" disclaimer when promoting their alumni?  Also, assuming he'll pass the bar, he will be in a select profession.  One that is fulfilling and remunerative (unless you're pro-bono).

Mark Twain aptly said, "Don't go around saying the world owes you a living, The world owes you nothing. It was here first."  Really, if you're an attorney, you're never unemployed.  There is always a market for honest, compassionate attorneys that call their clients back and care about the person.  Make a reputation for yourself and the money will make itself.