A Boston College Law Student Requests a Refund From the Dean

As an open letter on Eagleionline.com:

Unfortunately, the occasion for me writing to you is not a happy one. As a 3L, my peers and I find ourselves in the midst of one of the worst job markets in the history of our profession. A few of us have been able to find employment, but the overwhelming majority of us are desperately looking, and unable to find anything. We are discouraged, scared, and in many cases, feeling rather hopeless about our chances of ever getting to practice law.

To compound our difficulties, many of us are in an enormous amount of debt from our legal studies. Soon after our graduation, we will be asked to make very large monthly payments towards this debt, regardless of whether we’ve been able to find employment or not. It is a debt which, despite being the size of a mortgage, gives us no tangible asset which we could try to sell or turn in to the bank. We are not even able to seek the protection of bankruptcy from this debt.

From Metafilter where my favorite response was this:

You’d think a third-year law student would be familiar with the phrase “caveat emptor”.


  1. I think the 3L had the “caveat emptor” thought covered when he mentioned that he and his peers have no tangible asset. The phrase doesn’t exactly cover renters or those on the receiving end of an educational loan.

    I wish that dumb adage would go away in the same way that I wish religious people would stop falsely believing that their moral values come from the bible. Does anyone believe “caveat emptor” anymore? Legally, and with reference to real estate and consumer products at least, it hasn’t held water for ages. Buyers have protections from things like shoddily built homes and products. In California, for instance, faults in home construction that become apparent in the first 10 years (usually) of homeownership are considered still the fault of the builder/contractor. You can also sue for damages caused by faults in anything from a cup of coffee to a private jet.

    “Caveat emptor,” ugh. Makes my skin crawl.

  2. JK…missing the entire point.
    Semantics. He chose to go to law school. He chose the school…they didn’t recruit him. They didn’t deny him his classes.
    Maybe the school should set the precedent, and we can have the post secondary school industry implode….hey, not a bad idea!

    1. It’s not missing the point that a JD isn’t a product, but a certification for employment eligibility. When universities tier their pricing according to the utility of their certifications, then, sure, this kid would be acting unreasonably.

      Am I missing something? Is this kid somehow being evil by making a point? Poor, poor university.

      1. When you buy something, you know the price and you decide to buy it.
        You can’t buy it, use it up…and then expect to get your money back.
        It’s not like they lied to him about what he was purchasing. He knew what he was buying. It’s not the schools’ responsibility that his “life priorities” or circumstances have changed.

        Let’s start nitpicking like that, shall we?
        Listen, I’m going on vacation for 2 weeks…I think I’ll deduct that from my rent because I won’t be there and my priority is to have extra money for my vacation. I wonder how far that will get me?

      2. But he did buy a product – the basic set of skills and knowledge to be a lawyer, and the degree that demonstrates completion of that coursework. While it’s not a tangible thing, it’s definitely something that has a value, and more importantly, in this case can’t be returned to balance the refund. The college used the money he’s paid and spent that on time and resources giving him those skills and knowledge. There’s no way they could recoup that.

        When you buy a college degree, you’re not buying a job or even any sort of guarantee. You’re buying the tools that make finding a job more or less feasible, but after that it’s all your responsibility.

        Also, we’re at the end of 2010. Is he only noticing now that the job market is kinda weak?

  3. I guess this guy’s never heard the expression “starving artist” either. If every out-of-work art school grad got a refund on his/her tuition the colleges would go broke.

    I have a friend with a Bachelor’s degree in Literature. That didn’t pan out and now he’s now in the insurance business, doing well for himself and his family. He’s not bitching, and neither should this guy.

  4. This is the problem with our country today–everybody wants it easy. He was probably thinking he’d be getting a big salary sitting in a big office and doing little work. With a JD, he has everything he needs to start his own business and a very lucritive one at that. He’s just being lazy.

    1. Which part of the “J.D.” makes him uniquely qualified to start a lucrative business? Is it the “juris” or the “doctor”?

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