Boston College Law 3L: I Want my Money Back

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on October 20, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Like many of his fellow grads around the country, the person at the center of this story will probably never get to be a greedy associate. Depending on your perspective, he may already fit the adjective, but associate? Not likely -- and that is just the problem. For one soon-to-be father and Boston College Law 3L, there is a solution to the problem of the terrible legal job market and the overwhelming likelihood of being saddled with a law school debt he can't pay: gimme my money back.

As picked up and reported on by Above the Law, one frustrated 3L has penned an open letter to the interim Dean of Boston College Law School, George D. Brown, politly requesting his money back. In the letter posted by EagleIOnline, in return, he says he will leave school without a degree. He claims this action will in turn benefit the law school by not (even minutely) lowering their employment stats to the detriment of their U.S. News Rankings. A quid pro quo if there ever was one.

Which leads us to one of the small problems with this intrepid student's argument. He can offer to relinquish the piece of paper that says J.D., but he can't put back what he learned. And obviously, from reading the letter, he learned something. It is clearly written, well thought out, well phrased and has a good (if ultimately futile) legal argument. As many older practitioners, who may recall when law was known as one of the "learned professions" might say, getting that J.D. is not just about the job, it's about the knowledge.

But that won't put baby food on the table, and this student knows it. He says he will return to the teaching profession from whence he was lured with promises of a "fulfilling and lucrative" career even in a flailing legal job market. However, perhaps our almost lawyer, if he wants to push his thought process to the farthest conclusions, would do better to sue the school under a claim of fraud (bad faith would be an issue) or breach of contract. It is a terrible stretch, but not a bridge too far like the one he is now heading down.

Don't think, current 3Ls, that the older and wiser among us don't empathize. As your work colleagues or profs who graduated in the class of '91 or '92 will tell you, there was a heck of a downturn in the legal profession then as well, and all the worse for being nearly unprecedented. Career Services didn't know what do to then either. And there was no LinkedIn. There were the want ads.

At least this one brave, if slightly off-base, 3L is getting the conversation about the cost of a legal education, the promises made by law schools, and their rankings, off the ground. We should all be grateful for that. And we thank him, and wish him and all the grads of the class of 2011 much, much luck.

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