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Updated: 2017-03-13T13:59:03.744-04:00


There are, in fact, a number of public law schools...


There are, in fact, a number of public law schools -- quite decent law schools -- that will cost you a little more than $10,000 per year or less. Even you pay full freight, the total cost of attending is $35,000 or so. That's not pennies, but it is affordable for a lot of families -- a lot of parents, even.

And there are companies that will pay for law school. Not a lot of them, and not at high-end, elite schools, and companies like everyone else are cost-conscious. But this is a benefit that has not disappeared entirely.

The one point where I disagree with some critics of current legal education is this: I think that for the right people, and for the right price, going to law school is still a great thing to do. It can be a great education, and being a lawyer (or some other kind of legal professional) can be a great career.


Mike: "Law students: Don't go to law sc...


Mike: "Law students: Don't go to law school unless you are really interested in law. "
" But don't go to law school because you can't think of anything better to do, or because it's a "safe" place to wait out a recession. The odds are that you'll graduate (if you graduate) without having figured out anything better to do, and other things being equal, you'll be a lawyer that I'd prefer not to hire."

This is excellent advice - law school is no longer a place to experiment or to shelter. It's too expensive, not even counting the lost years.

(out of order quote, since it doesn't fit in with the rest of the paragraph)

" Not necessarily law practice (though there's absolutely nothing wrong with law practice); there are still lots of great things that a law degree enables that don't involve law practice. "

The problem is that a JD costs $100K bare mininum, and probably $150K-250K. You can get a JD and get all sorts of jobs - not because of, but despite the JD. However you still have the debt, so you've paid for a house that you can't live in, so to speak.

I'd urge people to read the blog 'Inside the Law School Scam' about the idea of getting a JD to work as a non-lawyer.

" And above all: Avoid debt! Get your parents to pay your tuition bills. "

The reason that this Romneyesque advice raised a few hackles is because (a) almost no families have that sort of wealth and (b) it's still spending the money.

" Get your company (if you have one) to pay your tuition. "

Always nice, if you can get it. I wonder how many companies will pay for law school?

" Find scholarships and grants. "

Inside the Law School Scam has some information about how law schools sucker people with scholarships and grants.

"Paying off a six-figure debt will still take you well over 10 years, perhaps even 20 years, even if you score a $150k law firm job right out of school -- and keep it. "

As is well know, the overwhelming majority of people hired by elite law firms are quite deliberately fired in a few years. This suggests that even those getting such jobs will not be able to pay off those debts.

I fail to understand the hue and cry for diversity...


I fail to understand the hue and cry for diversity. A place is a place. It grows, it develops a character and -if lucky- survives and prospers. The quality and character of its people is reflective of the regional economic base and its history. There is no rational reason -other than sheer foolish political correctness... which, actually, is not rational- to suggest that a region needs to be diverse. Large portions of the world are not diverse at all. If the economy and opportunities available in a place create a need for in-migration then diversity occurs naturally. Pittsburgh was, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, when in-migration was tremendous due to industrial growth- an amazingly diverse place. However, net out-migration in the late 20th century shut the door to the modern diversity reflected in rapidly growing places of the time, such as Miami, Houston, Los Angeles and others. As Pittsburgh re-establishes its economy and begins to grow again, as it has in recent years, diversity will come naturally. To want it to come any other way is sheer foolishness.

Remember folks, non-profits have never been an iss...


Remember folks, non-profits have never been an issue Until the Democrats in PA have Spent this state and Cities into bankruptcy over the last 40 years. Driven out businesses, jobs and home owners from this town and the state. Taxes, welfare, food stamps, ad Unions have crippled this state. The non-profits are the only ones left and you screw with them too much and they to will leave. Just look at the steel mills, Westinghouse and other manufacturing in this and other liberal progressive socialist states...Hell the Pitts Post Gazette is DEAD and they don't know it.

What a great closing message. I wish you nothing b...


What a great closing message. I wish you nothing but the best & hope you'll follow up on putting Pittsblog into print! (It's 8 years of growth for you).

thank you! your insight will be missed.


thank you! your insight will be missed.

A wise message, well said. Which applies to both ...


A wise message, well said.

Which applies to both this post and to the last eight years.

Respectfully, V

Good luck and thanks.


Good luck and thanks.

See you in the funny papers! (or else in Madisoni...


See you in the funny papers! (or else in Madisonian)

Maybe someday folks will say: "turn left where Pittsblog used to be."

Eight years is a long time for anything, and an et...


Eight years is a long time for anything, and an eternity for a blog. Still, Pittsblog will be missed. In a world that too often contents itself with the low, mean, and vulgar, your blog stood out as an example of incisive thinking and wonderful writing. In a word, it was excellent.

On behalf of all your fans (and I'm sure they are legion), thanks for the time, love, and energy you put it into. And best of luck with all of your future endeavors.

Thanks Mike. We enjoy your blog. For us, the Steel...


Thanks Mike. We enjoy your blog.
For us, the Steelers are indeed Pittsburgh.

I was laughing along, then got fairly irate about ...


I was laughing along, then got fairly irate about the ending:

"'The remaining local population has its own mythology to explain the job-creating race's disappearance,' Decker said. 'Legend has it that they never died out, but rather entered a state of deep slumber from which they will one day awaken, bringing increased employment with them.

'And perhaps it's best to let the locals hold on to this belief,' Decker added. 'It's really the only thing they have left.'"

I'm OK with the part about the myth, because certainly there are some people clinging to that notion. But the attitude in the last line is actually part of the problem--going backward is not in fact the only hopeful scenario.

And obviously someone didn't get the memo on what has been happening in Pitt's Burg during the Great Recession.

Purely anecdotal, but I also feel that a lot of th...


Purely anecdotal, but I also feel that a lot of the older Pittsburgh natives I meet specifically on the Internet are relatively open-minded to change, which I would think supports Mitchn's "maybe".

As someone who grew up in Northeast Ohio, I recogn...


As someone who grew up in Northeast Ohio, I recognize many of the things you describe, Mike. Maybe it's the Internet or the rise of social networking, but I do think the insularity that's endemic to the region may be "thawing" some. As the Silent and boomer generations age and fade from the scene, younger generations seem more willing to embrace change and the new. I hope so. It's the only thing that will save the region from permanent decline.

P.S. You write a great blog, Mike. Keep up the excellent work.

Most people I know with urban gardens, and I don&#...


Most people I know with urban gardens, and I don't know many, use raised beds with soil they hauled in.

On JPotts's question (which relates to a diffe...


On JPotts's question (which relates to a different post):

It's difficult to get into details on a public blog. That statement that you've highlighted is based partly on the dozen years that I've been at Pitt and more recently on my wanderings around Oakland and the East End as I've helped get my law school's innovation program set up.

On potentially toxic soils: The Master Gardener...


On potentially toxic soils:

The Master Gardener to whom I am closest thinks that the more significant risk is lead, from paint and from automobile exhaust (for properties close to highways back when leaded gas was still used). But that was a quick-and-dirty answer, as it were. Both the Penn State Master Gardeners and Phipps have free telephone "hotlines" that you can call.

"Higher education is, all things considered, ...


"Higher education is, all things considered, on a slow but steady path to stability, although in general higher education here is a bit “old school,” if you will, in its thinking about what colleges and universities should be."

Interesting. What's an example of this, in your opinion?

I think it is great for people to grow their own f...


I think it is great for people to grow their own food, for many reasons. I lived my whole life on a farm and have a large organic garden. But I have some concerns about urban gardening that the master gardeners may be able to answer.

I am worried about all the contaminants in urban soil and the possibility that these contaminants be absorbed into the fruit and vegetables grown there. The most common would be the high lead concentrations due to centuries of old lead-based paint and lead used in gasoline. Other pollutants could be things like mercury, zinc, PCBs and more.

Has there ever been any testing of urban soils to see just what contaminates are in urban soils? Has anyone tested the foods grown in urban soils to see if any of them are absorbed and incorporated into the food chain?

Just something I always wondered.

Mike -- I arrived here from NJ in 1998. I locate...


Mike -- I arrived here from NJ in 1998. I located in Manchester neighborhood. Great architecture, access to town, etc... I found my immediate neighbors lovely. I would walk into town for work. On my way home kids would be playing in the street riding bikes, playing ball. When a child needed a hand with his bike chain, I would stop to help. Some adult would yell out of the house to stay away from the child. Keep you kind to yourself. I was a minority in the neighborhood. I worked to start a computer training class for the folks in the neighborhood. None wanted to be taught by whitey. There are a lot of tolerance issues in Pittsburgh. To be an electrician you need a license. To pass the license you need to answer all questions in writing in English. You have to read the warning in English. This in my opinion is part of the protective nature of Pittsburgh. Protect those that elect you. The prominent Republicans do not want change either. They like the Democratic machine have it just the way they want it. The region suffers from the worst of both. Fiscally liberal and socially conservative. The power structure controls the economy and likes to pit one against the other. Both the Trib and the Post are like the Hatfields and McCoys.

I am here to stay. I like the cost of living and try to influence when possible.

Pittsburgh's track record of keeping successfu...


Pittsburgh's track record of keeping successful startups from moving to other cities is not that great. As was mentioned, the transportation infrastructure here is years behind other cities. Even the much-maligned Cleveland has a light rail rapid transport system stretching to the airport []. Pittsburgh is still talking about having the same -- talking, but never getting around to actually doing.

My gf and I both look forward to reading this upco...


My gf and I both look forward to reading this upcoming series of articles that you describe above.

We've just spent the last week in Pittsburgh, evaluating whether or not we should move there from San Francisco.

I've been in SF for almost 20 years (and I'm originally from Chicago), and I'm in the mood for something different. She is originally from around NYC and lived in Boston for many years. We know what we want (and what we dont want) in the city we live in.

Anyways, as we wrote down all of our requirements, and looked for certain characteristics in cities that are a good fit for us, Pittsburgh floated to the top of the list.

We decided to do some further investigating; as an aside, your blog has been extremely helpful in helping us fall in love with Pittsburgh (so that is good, heheh).

Anyway, thanks for a great blog, and again, we're looking forward to reading some articles from the "imagined perspective of a newcomer".

I'm a resident of the East End who shops at Wh...


I'm a resident of the East End who shops at Whole Foods. Speaking only for myself, I find Florida* annoying, I generally like preserving historic things, and I have no intention of watching a play now that nobody can assign me to do so.

After a careful consideration of all the factors, I came to the conclusion that there has to be something less ugly to commemorate the steel industry. Maybe the slag underneath Sommerset?

*the guy or the state.

Regarding the LGBT community, I don't know eno...


Regarding the LGBT community, I don't know enough to know all the reasons for what I think has been a change in that community's place in Pittsburgh. When I wrote about infrastructures above, though, I wasn't thinking only or even primarily in terms of government resources. I doubt that public (government) resources in Pittsburgh have had much to do with the changing place of the LGBT community here. Not-for-profit infrastructural resources -- funded, I suspect (hope?) in part by Pittsburgh philanthropy -- have played bigger roles, from what I can tell. The Gay and Lesbian Community Center in Pittsburgh was founded in the mid-1980s(!). The community appeared to get a big boost with the founding of the Delta Foundation in the mid-1990s and the series of initiatives that Delta has supported, including Pittsburgh Pride.

@JRoth: I'm sorry, but your first comment is ...


@JRoth: I'm sorry, but your first comment is simply idiotic. When I see something this absolutely wrongheaded, it makes me question every word you've written, because it's clear that you're happy to polemicize using an example about which you have absolutely no grasp of what I actually wrote.Sorry. Couldn't resist.I can read the paper as well as the next person; it's clearly not true that 100% of the support for saving the arena comes from so-called "Floridians." Maybe 100% of the *activism* around the arena happens to be upper-class white people (this seems to be true of the public face of the movement, at least), but if the pages of the PG tell us anything (they don't always tell us much), they tell us that there is a great deal of broad-based Pittsburgh nostalgia for the arena. The nostalgia for the arena is not the basis for most of the public activism, but neither are the two things unrelated. I'll stay away from the "yinzer" term; I've gotten in trouble over that word before, and I've learned how misleading, anachronistic, and troublesome it is. "Steel" means different things to different Pittsburhers, whatever their demographic. The so-called "Floridians" who are anti-demolition activists (to be clear, I have little sympathy for Rich F.'s arguments, and I use the word "Floridian" only because the metaphor is bundled with your comment) have used arguments that the building is an icon of Pittsburgh's steel industry. Those arguments don't rely on the specific sense that the word "steel" stands for the communities that steel built up the Steel Valley and out in Beaver County and elsewhere, but the meanings aren't so quickly or neatly separated. The region can't have its futuristic steel cake and eat its nostalgic steel history.Rob Pfaffman has framed his crusade to save (part of) the arena specifically in terms of Pittsburgh's complex history: the injustices of urban renewal and the mis-guided nature of (some of) Pittsburgh's Renaissance efforts to grow out of its steel past, and the importance of remembering all of that. As I have read his papers and articles and presentations (yes, I have read them!), he appears to agree -- even urges -- that the history of the Hill District can't be treated independently of Pittsburgh's steel history. Both the black population that came to dominate the Hill during the early- and mid-20th century and the Eastern and Southern European populations that settled the Hill in the 19th century were drawn to and based largely in Pittsburgh's mines and mills. No one wants to save the arena because they savor memories of life in the mills, but the 20th century Hill District that was undone by the arena was part and parcel of Pittsburgh's modern industrial history, not independent of it. Pfaffman has been clear that his efforts are intended to a significant degree to recapture the virtuous part of that history. He quotes August Wilson: "One of [the Hill District's] greatest residents, playwright August Wilson, may point the way: 'My plays insist that we should not forget or toss away our history.' While he was referring to his roots in the community and the culture he knew, his words challenge us to ask questions about the many histories and memories that exist—some good, [...]