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Free 24/7 RI DUI Consultation

RI Criminal Defense Attorney

RI Criminal Defense Attorney
Former RI State Prosecutor
Kevin O. Hagan RI DUI Attorney
105 Memorial Blvd. West
Newport, RI 02840
Office:
401-619-0477
Cell:
401-487-8691
Fax: 401-619-0459
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Newport District Court

Rhode Island DUI Lawyer

Former RI State Prosecutor

105 Memorial Blvd. West
Newport, RI 02840
Office:
401-619-0477
Cell:
401-487-8691
Fax: 401-619-0459
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Law Talk with Kevin Hagan

Tune in to "Law Talk" every Saturday at 9:30 am
on
WADK 1540 AM

Listener Feedback

"Kevin

I think I heard on AM radio this morning your conversation with a kid at law school named "CJ". If not, ignore the rest of this. If so, what follows is my rant on what is happening to these poor students who have just about no shot of having their expectations met and who, in my opinion, are being led down the garden path by law schools such as the one he attends.

Background: I was a really unserious college student. I wasn't going to enroll at all, and make my go of it with the fairly successful rock band in which I was the youngest member. My dad said fine. But let me advise you that if you flame out with the hair and the six string, don't be coming to me for dough. If you go now, however, I'll pay for it. So much for the guitar hero. I had great high school grades and SATs and got into an excellent liberal arts school. But because I didn't pay for it myself, I wasted a lot of the opportunity. I went to Johns Hopkins in Italy for a year and got the travel bug. So when I graduated, I bummed around the country doing odd jobs. When that got old, I decided to go to law school to save the planet from degradation, and worked as a surveyor's assistant until I saved up enough for a full year at Suffolk University Law. That way, if I didn't like it, or it didn't like me, I would be even on the deal. Ready? That was $2,500.

I took a tip from a guy a year ahead of me and never read a single case. I got the best hornbooks and devoured those. I finished 8th in a class of 325. This was 1977. Even then, there was little work in Boston because there were simply more law graduates than opportunities, and you were competing with Harvard, BC, etc. from a lower tier school. I took the NH bar because MA residents were then fleeing over the border to escape the Dukakis era "taxachusetts" and southern NH was at least growing a little. At the time, there were 900 lawyers in the whole state. Think about that for a second. Then, because a lot of other guys had the same idea, there were 150 takers for the 1977 bar exam. The local practicioners didn't want to see the competition swell like that, so they flunked 51% of the kids, in part by using two trick questions (if you care about it, reply and I'll tell you what they did. 35 years later I still remember it like it was yesterday; might be good advice for any kids listening to your show). I passed, but got an offer from a place where I clerked and ended up as a corporate real estate guy in Massachusetts.

I heard CJ say that the RI school had just expanded to 180 graduates per year, and even as a relatively naive second year, he knew that was flooding RI by itself. But supposedly the market was "saturated" in 1977, because Vermont and NH had just opened their own schools. Since then there are 4 more in CT, RI and MA. The population is flat in New England. The economy is stagnant. But universities can open a law school with little expense, pay local lawyers almost nothing to teach a course, and have it subsidize the rest of school. The two new ones in MA are barely above scam level. The people running these things know they are putting one over on the students. In NY, the graduates sued one school (I think NYU) for deceptive trade practices in stating the kids were getting jobs (they omitted that they were taxi drivers and waiters or insurance adjusters).

The thing that prompted me to write the note was CJ's lament about loans. I never give a dime to Suffolk because I thought the product was inferior and they were milking and admitting some pretty marginal people. Some of the professors in those days were actually buffoons (I understand they have improved). But that doesn't stop them from calling me incessantly looking for money. I asked one nice young lady how much she was borrowing to go there. She said $150k! I friend of mine with a divorce practice put an add in the Boston trade rag for a paralegal at $15 per hour. She got 500 (not a typo) resumes from attorneys! If you owe $150k and your job pays $40k if you are lucky, you are never getting out of the hole. CJ admitted, perhaps guilelessly in the Obama world, that he was looking for the taxpayers to forgive his loans.

It is sad, because being a lawyer can be interesting, challenging and rewarding. I helped build 50 Costcos and many factories and office buildings. I own some shopping centers. But I have to tell young kids it is not a good way to make money. It is almost as bad as making it in something like rock and roll. A few guys make it big. You are likely to end up playing at the Holiday Inn."

-Doug
Cape Cod
[My Reply]: "Hi Doug, this is great input. I agree with your assessment and fear the situation will only get far worse. Could I post your comment as a blog post on my website – kevinhaganlaw.com? Of course, I could redact your last name. Listen this Saturday, and I will talk about your email. Thanks!"
http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/27/the-lawyer-surplus-state-by-state/#postComment

Kevin

One of my favorite subjects, so I’m happy to have it posted, but I guess you should take out the last name since I was a bit harsh on a couple subjects. The link above from an article last year basically shows that there are TWICE as many new lawyers, nationally, as openings, and that the median pay is hardly scintillating for those that are working. RI and MA are in the upper echelon of overproduction of graduates, and the totally broke “blue model” big government, big spending states, despite giant lawyer-employer bureaucracies are leading the league (CA, NY, etc.). According to this, RI will have more than twice as many exam passers as opportunities, and MA will have only one opening for each three exam passers! Kids hoping for the best will borrow the price of a decent starter condo and get virtually nothing for it except an ability to understand crime novels and the news better than your average person. Granted, there has always been room in the profession for good people, but it seems like to me you can be really smart and dedicated, but have to win the lottery to get a chance.

I doubt I will hear your show this week, unless you stream it? I have an office in NYC, but try to spend at least 4 nights a week at the Cape, so I generally travel Thursday night and Monday a.m., after traffic. I couldn’t get away last week until Saturday a.m., so I happened by your signal while on I-195.

Since you seemed to take an interest, here was one of the trick questions from the ‘77 NH bar.

It is the biggest day in our young lives, so everyone is nervous. The smokers are smoking, the coffee drinkers are sipping, but they aren’t letting us into the auditorium where the test is being given; a high school gym. What gives? Seems that the custodial people didn’t get the memo on the huge number of takers, so they don’t have enough seats. Some people get a folding table and chair, some people get the age-old student chair with little attached writing wing, and some unlucky kids get an elementary school version of the latter. They are hunched over like Billy Madison! But there is no way to protest, the instructions are starting. They say this is the essay part. The multiple choice part is tomorrow. Give us a brief and practical answer. The shortest you can to get the job done. They mention in passing (not on the written intro): not only will you not get credit, you’ll get penalized for extraneous “maybe this, maybe that” blather.

Earlier in the summer, the bar review people said yes, federal income taxation is a possible question, and you can bring your IRS code with you (this was before the big Reagan reform in ’86, so the code was in two books, each the size of a Stieg Larson novel, but with tiny print). Not to worry, they said, that’s only to scare you. They haven’t had a tax question in 30 years. Ok! Open your books. First question is federal tax. Stomachs all turn over. The guys in the tiny chairs get even more tense. The question is a page and a half long. You’re a solo practitioner, and some guy comes to your office. He wants to know if he can deduct his mother-in-law, who lives a couple doors down, as a dependent on his federal return. The married guys freeze even more! The mother-in-law is on the same street! The poor bastard! They give his total living expenses. Her total living expenses. How much he gives her. How much she gets from Social Security, from her dead husband’s pension, how much her real estate taxes are, etc., etc., A big nonlinear mishmash of numbers and conversation that takes place in the guy’s office. To give the correct answer, you have to know what qualifies and doesn’t qualify as support, what does and doesn’t qualify as living expenses, and your client has to provide over 50% of her qualifying expenses. What a bummer! There are 10 questions this year, not 8 as usual, and all these calculations are going to take time! What if it is close? What if it is exactly 50%? The guys with the grade school chairs don’t even have space on their “desk” for an open tax code, the answer sheet, and the question book all at once. Books and paper are falling on the floor and the proctors are suspicious. Fear and loathing is in the air.

Except right in the first clause of the definition, it says a dependent has to reside in the same household. The wife’s mom, thankfully, at least lives in a different house. You don’t have to do any math, or make any judgment calls, you just write “no, putative dependent doesn’t reside with taxpayer as required by Section X”, and move on.

They did the same thing on an estate question, an “anti-lapse” statute, with all kinds of details on the heirs, the sums involved, the fight they were having about the will, blah, blah, who gets what, but the definitions didn’t apply and you could do the same thing. “Will not affected by statute due to x”, and move on. In one minute.

They put both these things in the morning 5 questions, leaving plenty of time to deal with the other three real questions, which were also diabolical, if you didn’t take the bait. I remember silently feeling sorry for guys at lunch saying “did you count x or y as qualifying support on the first question?” and knowing they were going down, or had at least put themselves in the hole. To try to deal with a problem that has only gotten exponentially worse, the local bar titans flunked 51%, and the historical pass rate was 90%, so there were probably a bunch of relatively innocent victims. The kids just couldn’t believe the examiners didn’t want you to expound on what you knew about the tax code or the estate statutes. Why else would they have put in all that data, and made the call so close?

Because, back in 1977, the handwriting was on the wall. The examiners knew it then, and were already looking to thin the herd. The architects of that wretched day are probably passed on by now, but I bet they would really be disappointed in the educational establishment that has profited on the trend shamelessly in the interim. The NH population in 1977 was maybe 900,000 with less than 900 lawyers. Now the population is 1.3 million, and there are 3,600 lawyers! The number of towns grew by zero percent, the population grew less than 50%, but the kids who bought law school diplomas increased by 400%. And many citizens of the state are still residing in the same trailer they had in 1977, with no more ability to pay legal fees now than they did then. This is not a good business model. But that is just my opinion.
"Kevin

While I wholeheartedly agree with this analysis and the dismal state of the national and local employment markets for attorneys, I do think there are some caveats that are addressed if you read the comments posted at the bottom of the NYT article. First, the statistics are either incorrect or skewed for states or DC where people waive in or take the bar just to have it. Many small jobs aren't reported, as most of these articles tend to focus on "big law" jobs and cannot track jobs that are barely posted, if at all. Most attorneys from my class certainly aren't making six figures, but I'd say many are happy with what they are doing (not necessarily making). Many people I went to law school with were so out of touch with reality they thought jobs would be handed to them upon graduation because everyone had told them their whole lives how smart and talented they are, they bought into the law school marketing machine, and they weren't willing to make shrewd decisions about practicing in areas where there is actually a need for their skills. Most of the top students wanted to go straight into the big, high-powered litigation jobs, which are what have been cut the most, instead of focusing on less popular areas such as family law, which seems to be booming, and bankruptcy. Further, there are plenty of public interest jobs out there that will get you complete loan forgiveness after 10 years (including jobs in government). I know the economy will improve, but I think part of the problem is the naiveté of law students in thinking that all they have to do is take 3 years of theoretical classes about the law and then be a desirable candidate for a job where you are evaluated by how much profit you can generate and not how well you can brief some obscure case. People should look at practicing law like any other business, and right now, going to law school is a terrible business and career decision. For those of us already in, good luck, it's going to be a long ride!

-Anonymous
Rhode Island
For the past 15 years, Attorney Kevin Hagan has been successfully defending clients in all types of criminal cases throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Attorney Hagan's extensive experience as a Newport County Prosecutor, Rhode Island Special Assistant Attorney General, and as a private criminal defense attorney have provided him with the skills necessary to successfully litigate criminal cases at the trial level.

If you have been charged with a Rhode Island DUI or DWI, Attorney Hagan will draw on his many years of Rhode Island criminal law experience to help counsel you through every stage of the Rhode Island criminal process and work tirelessly to try to achieve the best possible outcome for you.

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Kevin O. Hagan, Esq.

105 Memorial Blvd. W.

Newport, RI 02840

401-487-8691

kevin@kevinhaganlaw.com