Monday, June 3, 2013

Con Law - a second opinion

With all deference to Adam B yesterday, I'd like to offer my own opinion about Con Law. Here goes...

Six stars. Seriously. Five stars really doesn’t do this book justice. This book delivers a hard punch squarely to the face where others have just raised their fists or voices. And it’s time the gloves came off because for the past few years law schools just haven’t got the message.

The book is split into two sections, the first of which trashes law schools and exposes them for the scams that they are (and they are scams!) This first section contains nothing particularly new but does a fine job of rehashing and explaining the tricks of the trade for newbies in great detail. Nobody should be oblivious to the sales techniques and scams that law schools play anymore but repeating the information is no bad thing and the book does a reasonable job of collating all of this information into one place, from admissions tricks to rankings tricks to the charlatans who are involved in the admissions process to the charlatans who grace the classrooms of law schools. For readers of this blog it's not headline news but it's a good and detailed overview.


The value of the book lies in its second section which trashes the legal profession. You spend three years in law school but you spend thirty years in a career. And for all the books written about law school (10% of your legal life) there are very few that shed much light on the other 90% of your legal life which is your “career”.  Nobody has really taken down the legal profession in quite a splendid manner before. Without throwing the baby out with the bathwater (because there are some nice law jobs out there for the 1% of grads who are lucky), the second half of the book explains in great detail the truly awful existence of modern lawyers - the types of “opportunities”, the depressing realities, the fact that there are few places in the entire legal profession that offer anything worthwhile from a career standpoint. The profession is a dirty, filthy, foul mess, and this book does a fine job of exposing the disgusting, shameful, embarrassing, unfulfilling and vile lives that most lawyers ultimately live.

It’s not a blanket “law is bad!” book. The book is smart enough to acknowledge that we do need some lawyers, that there are some good opportunities to be had, and it lays out exactly how to get those opportunities and when to quit when those opportunities are taken off the table. But not in a way that encourages unsuitable applicants to attend law school. It does not say that you can make your dreams come true. It does not say that if you work hard enough you’ll succeed, because you won’t. It tells you how miserable your life will be as a low end lawyer with huge debt and it tells you that unless you're literally one of the 1% you will be destined for the legal trash heap. It’s a disturbing read for those who are used to the Disney outlook on life where success lies within everyone’s grasp if only they dream big enough and wish upon a star. If you don’t come away from this book feeling dirty and discouraged then you’re either someone who has been admitted to Harvard Law or you’re an idiot.

The highlight of the book for me was the descriptions of the types of clients you’ll end up working with. It made my skin crawl because it’s true. Once you get through law school you have a whole career to look forward to (if you’re lucky) representing some of the most distasteful people and corporations you can imagine in some of the most distasteful and disgusting matters. By attending law school you’re paying a huge sum for the opportunity to represent people who repulse you, who disgust you, and who you literally hate, and your job is now to help them do things that make you sick. No other law books to my knowledge have ever gone into so much detail about how entirely revolting being a lawyer is. There are no celebrity clients, no rich clients, no clients who are happy paying bills, no honest clients, no clients who won’t stab you in the back given half the chance, no interesting legal problems to be solved. The book exposes law for what it is – a profession that claims it is prestigious but in reality rubs shoulders with the most mundane and nastiest parts of human existence and society.

This book is a huge milestone in breaking the law school scam although it's by no means the silver bullet - we need many more silver bullets and people willing to pull the trigger (Campos was a great example, but we need all those anonymous commenters who have clout but who are unwilling to step out of the shadows). It does it without pulling punches but also without jumping the shark and claiming that every single law school is a scam. And it does it without vengeance and without malice, and in plain language that regular readers can understand and digest. It’s not a treatise on the matter nor a hardcore piece of investigative journalism. It’s a book that should make you think and should make you second guess your decision to go to law school. It's thought provoking rather than something that will be quoted but we need more things that provoke thoughts and less crap that people dismiss as academic nonsense. And it recognizes that the scam doesn’t begin and end with law school and that the profession as a whole is just as culpable.  Just a clear, experienced, first-hand view of the ins and outs of law school today, the legal profession today, and how to succeed if you decide to pursue law as a career – although success is highly unlikely!

I can’t wait until Brian Leiter reads this!

(Note that this is my own opinion and not the opinion of this site or other authors on this site. I am not endorsing this book on behalf of the blog, just on behalf of me.)

Update - I hope I did not step on Adam's toes by writing this. We remain a united blog against law school and our internal differences of opinion and different approaches are not a sign that we are not all working towards the same goal.

59 comments:

  1. In case there is confusion about the lukewarm tone in part of my review, I liked the book and recommend it. The authors do not seem to mind that I avoided straight cheerleading.

    They do want us to post reviews on Amazon. I will include part of the positive sections since the Amazon reviews will probably be more widely read by nonscambloggers.

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    1. I did not sense lukewarm. I sensed someone who had read a book and then thought about it and then written about it. What more could people ask for? A blowie? To me it was clear you were recommending the book and I bought a copy because it was recommended. Anyone who has ever read a proper book review before will know that a book review is supposed to pick out the good and the bad and challenge the authors, not just say "luv it!"

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    2. To Adam, first, thank you. I not only do not mind the avoidance of "straight cheerleading," the very fact that this is a genuine discussion adds weight to its ultimate importance. No work is perfect, and ours would not be the first to benefit from peer review. (One might say, of course, that this should have happened prior to publication, and I can respond only that distractions and limited hours in the day, ah, limited those options.) I will try to respond to the various points. Again, thank you.

      And to Adjunct, a hearty mahalo as well. I especially liked and think worth commenting on:

      "[a]nd it does it without vengeance and without malice, and in plain language that regular readers can understand and digest."

      This is exactly right. In any group, the echo chamber effect is noticeable, but only to those outside the chamber. This doesn't make the music inside wrong, but it does make it disconcerting. Thus, to the extent that we can be accused of soft-pedaling or recycling this argument or that, the broader intent is to connect with the reader, who likely knows none of what is discussed here, and bring them to that understanding.

      Again, thank you,

      Thane.

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  2. From the description in this review, I'd have to assume that the book's authors never practiced law. This review says how the book describes the practice as stinky, smelly, no good clients, all scum and crooks and losers. That's just a bunch of bull. Some clients are that way, but it's very few. In family law, you might tend to see more, and of course, in criminal law, too. But to make the whole practice of law sound so vile is baloney.

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    1. When I started in my small firm out of law school, the only clients I could get (with no experience) were the bottom of the barrel. No, to be more accurate I had to move the barrel and scrape up the crap that had dripped out onto the ground beneath the bottom. This is not unusual. One doesn't walk into a book of good business without wading through the sewer to get the experience for many years. Plus the book is clearly describing what average and below average law students end up doing with their lives, not what happens to the few success stories. We know what happens to the success stories. The problem is that people keep on going to law school because they don't know what happens to the failures.

      If the book helps to stop people going to law school, then good. Because blogs like this, while having an effect, aren't exactly ramming a cork in the asshole of law school to stop it diarrhea-ing graduates all over the marketplace. Especially with comments like yours that make practicing law sound idyllic!

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    2. The authors practiced law, and they discuss their mostly negative experiences.

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    3. Regarding the 5:57 reply, I would certainly hope a person's having to start at the bottom once becoming a freshly-minted attorney is not indicative of the next 40 years of their career. If the book describes it this way, it is wrong.

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    4. I think the book says basically that most people quit before they ever get to that 40th year where the money is flowing freely from clients who are also now good friends.

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    5. "In family law, you might tend to see more [scummy clients], and of course, in criminal law, too."

      And what, pray tell, do you think most solo/small-firm practitioners end up doing? Family and Criminal Law by necessity. These are staples. The economy probably helps these areas in that more marriages break-up and more people may commit crimes in economically challenging times. And these cases are always shitty and almost by definition, the clients sure as hell don't have the money to pay you. And it's doubtful you move up in this arena... and when you get tarred with this brush, you don't move out of this area. Pushing PI cases on thin facts is similar.

      Most private lawyers aren't litigating State Border disputes in the US Supreme Court or the latest incarnation of Brown v. Board. Even in good times. Once shit law, the majority of people I know stay that way.

      Who started the the idea that years of "paying your dues" by toiling away on shit-law cases for years means that good, paying clients will eventually come your way? 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 = doesn't equal 4, and 40 x 0 = 0. Yeah, looking backwards, that APPARENTLY happened for some current 40-year practioner. But this appareance is more likely attributable to the fact the lawyer was meeting business people in his OUTSIDE life and managed to be present when a paying client some needed help and decided it would be a nice gesture to use this friend. Twenty years ago lawyers were $10 a dozen. That's less today.

      The work came from the person's connections, not the fact they might handled a number of toilet cases. That will probably work against you. (Some of the scumbags may even damage your marketability by falsly complaining about you).

      You certainly start at the bottom in solo/ small-firm law. But gathering a lot of time bottoming sure don't mean you're earning credit to top.

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    6. "The work came from the person's connections..."

      So, then, you know what to do.

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    7. To JeffM:

      Family, criminal, and bankruptcy are what solos are going to be focusing on after their job applications to Cravath, the Justice Dept, and Save the Whales fail to result in offers. People get forced into becoming jack-of-all-trades ghetto law practitioners,like my brother's friend. His clientele is scum with family problems, failing businesses, or problems with police. Even his coworker former partners are no upstanding citizens - one's habitual bar fights got him "disbarred" from the legal profession as well as his usual watering holes.

      My brother's buddy's clients don't even pay him. He takes their cases and then drops them as soon as payments stop - which is the majority of his clients. So much for fighting for justice. He's even thinking about suing his clients for nonpayment. Imagine, lawyers suing their own clients who come to them for help. Welcome to making ends meet in the legal profession circa 2013.

      Kids getting into law school need to realize their clients won't be amiable death row innocents, happy go lucky millionaires, or Humpback Whales on the cusp of getting human rights protections from the Supreme Court. Lawyer clients are people in real trouble, with sad stories, lives falling apart, and so much difficulty making payments you threaten them with repossession of their furniture.

      --Jim

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    8. Jeffie M, the 40 years of career after the first few years of $40K earnings tends to be $20K, then $10K, then breaking even, then losing money because the Internet is taking all of your clients. And then you quit and do something useful with your life.

      LOL at 40 year legal careers! Yeah right, Baby Boomer Jeff! Careers for everyone!

      (Jeff M, sponsored by the American Bar Association, US News, and Brian Leiter.)

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    9. You guys will just have to figure it out with hindsight. Go ahead. Take a job at Wal-Mart. 10 years from now, go back and see how your fellow classmates are doing. Some will be working at Wal-Mart with you. Others will be practicing crap-law. Still, others will be doing reasonably well in their small practices. Finally, some will be making a killing. This is called "reality."

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    10. That's a 1999 reply. Ten years from today you won't find any of your classmates making a killing. The age of killings in law has past. Whether that's good or bad, I can't say. That's not a game killer for law, however.

      Sadly, its the 'reasonably well' small, modest ethical practice is what's being killed off in this downturn... and it was caused by the excessive overproduction of lawyers by the law schools. This, in turn, allowed the BigLaw revolving door shennanigans and also led to tort reform. That is not a good thing. Hence the anger at law schools.

      Most people cannot carry on in shitlaw for 10 years because it doesn't generate enough money to keep the doors open. That's probably a good thing.

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    11. Well, maybe. Buggy whip manufacturers gave way to Ford, who gives way to [???] There is still demand for legal services, just a flooded market and a very fluid service delivery model. Stay flexible and make sure you are part of the new economy rather than desperately fighting to drag a few crumbs out of the old. This is a platitude, but if you want certainty & security you are living in the wrong decade.

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  3. So you liked it, Adjunct? I can't tell from the review.

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  4. This book may prove to be very important because it reaches the right people. In recent years, the scambloggers, David Segal (NYT), Paul Campos, Brian Tamanaha have done an effective job of getting the message about the scam out to current law students, recent law school graduates, legal professionals, and law school faculty. But the message has been slow to reach students. I ran Thane Messinger's name into google and came across web-sites I never read (I'm a practitioner), but which prospective students surely do. For example: http://lsatblog.blogspot.com/

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    1. By students, you mean undergrads right? Because that's who we need to be aiming our message at. Anyone in law school now is basically screwed and can't be helped. The same goes for recent grads. They are lost souls. We need to triage here. Yes it's important to worry about recent grads and jobs and debt, but unless we treat the people we can actually save - the undergrads - then we're wasting our time.

      How do you put out a raging fire? First, stop the flow of fuel. We can douse the flames of the law school train wreck all day long, but until we stop the gas pouring into the fire, we're fighting a losing battle.

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    2. Yes, by students, I am referring to undergraduates. An unfortunate sentiment frequently expressed -- often in frustration -- is that we should not have sympathy for law school graduates of year 201x because they "should have known" better than to apply. I don't think it is fair to assume that a prospective applicant should have known the truth about law school because the truth has mostly been rattling around in echo chambers that most applicants are unaware of. Some law school applicants -- presumably the more sophisticated ones -- have found the truth. We know that from the cratering application numbers. But most still do not. We know this because thousands of applicants choose to enroll in law schools nobody has any business enrolling in. If somebody can reach these poor souls, that's an improvement.

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  5. The problem with this book is the lack of promotion on a bigger scale. The mainstream media should interview the authors and point toward excerpts in the book. I hope this book, as well as others uncovering the realities of law school and the legal profession, become bestsellers...they certainly provide a realistic value when considering the outrageous cost of law school and subsequent grim employment prospects for at least half of graduating classes.

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    1. It's been out two days. And I doubt that the authors have the pull needed to get their asses on MSNBC or the Today Show or the Daily Show. Give it a chance. Word of mouth is a powerful medium, but a very slow one.

      Speaking of television, when can we return to our regular scheduled programming on this blog?

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    2. The problem with books is that the depictions often lack imagination, creativity, and visual energy/punch. Imagine if "Dark Knight" had captured Rachel Dawes pleading, "Bruce, I'd love to join you for dinner, but I went to law school and can't afford to go out to dinner..." You mean Gotham City Law School is charging you $240,000 for law school and you still decided to go?

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    3. Nice 8:06. We should start a "law school realism in the media" campaign.

      Instead of the stuff we see on Suits, we'd see some depressed, lily white, gaunt and sick associate cowering in his office and dealing with a giant pile of shitty work that makes him mind ache with how retarded it is. And instead of the Law and Order crap, we'd see a low paid DA dealing with case after case after case of petty crimes that nobody cares about.

      It's those glamorous media portrayals that are drawing in these suckers. It would not surprise me in the least if the ABA or Cooley or some other organization with money to burn was paying half the salaries of the writers on those shows, or funding pilots, or subsidizing advertising time.

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    4. Batman looks into the scummy Gotham City Law School and discovers its a front operation for the League of Shadows. Seeking to undermine Gotham's justice system and social foundations generally, the League has dedicated itself to pumping out wave after wave of hungry, indebted, desperate lawyers. Soon the lawyers turn on each other and the populace, creating chaos and suffering. Meanwhile the League of Shadows Tibetan headquarters is reaping the student loan payments, using them to buy shiny new armor suits, undertake a building program, and give their members summer research funding.

      --jim

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  6. I want to congratulate JeffM for being the rare exception. I have been practicing law for over 2 decades and the only happy lawyers I know are the ones that are retired, doing something other than practicing law or are on anti-depressant medication.

    When I first entered the profession in the late '80s, the clients were insufferable. In 2013, they are insufferable with a mean streak. Many clients feel entitled to discounted fees (you can thank the law schools for pumping out more grads than needed) as a result of the race to the bottom culture that plagues the legal profession. With the internet, clients have become more vicious. For example, lets talk about divorce cases. In 20 plus years of practice I have yet to meet a happy divorce client. Usually, the ex-wife feels that you didn't get her enough, and the ex-husband feels like you threw him under the bus. In divorce cases, there is only a lose-lose proposition. Clients have gotten smarter. For example, in some cases they will ask for a discount on the fee. If you don't give them one, they threaten to file a fee arbitration dispute and they KNOW this alone will drive up your malpractice premiums (I know JeffM, you don't need malpractice insurance because you prefer to go bareback in this STD infested field). Fuck this profession.

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    1. Oh, I never suggested the legal profession was a panacea of happiness. I'm just saying if your gripe is you can't make $100k+ doing it, this applies to some, but not all. There are a vast many earning more than that. The median is something like $112k. This means only half make less than that. But the review in the OP suggests the book is saying almost everyone is barely scraping $40k or so.

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    2. It's called the internet. Clients are looking up "things your lawyer won't tell you" or "how to get the most out of your lawyer" before they go into your office. Things like, "much of lawyers' work is actually done by paralegals" and "my fees are negotiable." No no no. You want the red M&Ms... they're much better, cheaper, faster.

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    3. Jeff, you really might want to revisit explanations of bimodal distributions in legal salaries.

      Or just read the fucking book before trying to discredit it.

      You seem to be practicing law in La La Land, where your secretary is smoking hot, your office has bookshelves lined with heavy books, and your clients come in all happy and leave happy after paying your bill plus a tip.

      Get real. You sound like one of the success stories in law, so stop pretending that your experience is average.

      Here's bimodal distributions in a nutshell: salaries are not distributed in a bell curve peaking around the average like you seem to think they are. There is a very high and sharp spike at the upper end (biglaw and other greedy fuckers) around the $250K to $1M mark, then nothing until you get to the depressing hump where most lawyers are, around $40K, maybe more in some cases, and lots less in others.

      I find your comments increasingly offensive, as you are sounding like a law school shill right now. You clearly do not understand the nature of the scam, so you're part of the problem when you make comments about how you've never met miserable clients and how everybody makes $100K.

      Or are you Brian Leiter in disguise? One of his sock puppets?

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    4. Those of us doing plaintiffs personal injury can make far more, and i usually like my clients.

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    5. Sorry if the median salary is $112k - regardless of whether there is a bimodal curve or not. Better bone up on statistics or calculus if you want to understand the difference between what "median" means and how it has nothing to do with "bimodal," "trimodal" or whatever.

      @10:32 Better be careful, there. You are going to be seen as a shill, and you be be seen as offensive. "Offensive." Ha! Are there really people who are seriously "offended." What puss-talk.

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    6. Oh the pleasures of plaintiff's personal injury! How could we all be so foolish to have missed such a great opportunity to live happy, fulfilling, productive lives by putting our headshots on billboards and having phone numbers like 1-800-WIN4YOU?

      No win, no fee is obviously where it's at. You're absolutely right. Clients who are almost universally trying to scam the system with their fake injuries and running up their medical costs and lying and ripping off insurance companies and businesses by using the legal system as a tool for extortion. (I have a strong dislike for insurance company defense, but I have just as big a problem with plaintiff's personal injury ambulance chasers, especially with their 33% rip off fees. They are worse that real estate agents for taking huge sums of money they didn't earn.)

      I guess there are some people who just like being lawyers for some reason. To me, dealing with that scam within a scam would have me stuffing a shotgun in my mouth within a year.

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    7. Look, I am not saying that it is not really difficult right now starting out, BUT, if a lawyer knows the rules of evidence, knows how to try cases,is willing to try cases and is willing to take some risk, he can not be replaced by the Internet. I have been a solo for more than twenty years. I have never done criminal defense (although I started as a prosecutor from long ago), have never prepared a will, have never filed a divorce action. I limit myself to personal injury and insurance dispute coverage issues . . because in Florida, if I win, the insurance company pays my fees. And I try cases, lots of them over the years. Any competent attorney who does what I did in my town is for the most doing very, very well after some years of practice. Seven figures in a given year is not an impossibility IF you luck into a great personal injury case. I do find some clients unbearable, but most of my clients who pay me on a contingency fee are upright and honest and happy for what am doing for them. I don't know if its impossible to start a new business today. The non-stop advertising lawyers are getting LOTS of the cases these days. Unethical lawyers abound (and have an advantage as the Courts don't touch them). Uncivility abounds. Insurance defense doctors have no integrity. Dockets are crowded. Some judges simply inadequate. Lots of bad. But also lots of good, especially when you win a tough case on behalf of your client before a Jury.

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    8. Jeff M, I bet that the M does not stand for "Math Expert".

      What is the median of these numbers:

      1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 50, 1000, 1000, 1000, 1000, 1000, 1000, 1000, 1000, 1000

      50.

      But the median does not give you any idea that nearly half the numbers are extremely low, and that nearly half the numbers are extremely high, and that there's next to nothing in the middle.

      In fact, the median in this case (and in the case of the 100K lawyer salary) is a misleading statistic.

      Oh, wait! Law schools know that already! And I guess they fooled you!

      I believe I can now use the term PWNED in relation to Jeff M and his amazing math failure.

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    9. What a buffoon! You see the world through eyes of a noob. Do you think they pay scale is bimodal when you're 10-15 years out?

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    10. Jeff M:

      (1) The point is that VERY FEW PEOPLE GET TO HAVE EVEN A 10-15 YEAR CAREER! 99% of lawyers have quit by that point because the profession is such a scammy shithole of despair and human waste. Of course those who survive that long are all making good money. Duh. Only a retard would continue to lose money hand over fist for a decade and a half before deciding to quit. Anyone who makes it for a decade in law is one of the winners, and there are 100 bodies behind him of lawyers who fell by the wayside.

      (2) Creak creak creak creak creak creak creak creak creak. That's the sound of you backpedalling from your math mistake!

      (3) I forgive everything and will never mention this again because you actually used the word "buffoon", and I didn't think anybody used that word anymore. It made me laugh out loud and few things do that these days. Feel free to rebut (1) and (2); I won't continue to fight. You've earned the last word. :)

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    11. Not to worry. This is playful banter.

      99% can't last 10-15 years in the career, eh? 99?

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    12. Jeff-

      The BLS numbers are found by sampling EMPLOYED attorneys (it's the bureau of LABOR statistics, after all).

      That means it doesn't include equity partners (at all levels), solo practitioners, and unemployed attorneys. So that "median" is among the group of people drawing steady paychecks with no equity, i.e., large firm associates, in-house counsel, and government attorneys. If you look at the numbers, it's clear they're not sampling Joe Schmo Shitlawyers, either.

      Given that the completely ignore equity partners in small firms (which is, like, a majority of people 10+ years out), I don't think the numbers have much relevance in proving anything. Apparently, 30-35% of the country's lawyers are "solos" of some kind.

      Look at how many people they call "attorneys:" around 700k. There's like 1.5 million with JDs and at least 1.2 million with law licenses.

      Do the math.

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    13. True. It would be nice if the IRS would release statistics. They have all 1.2 million of them.

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  7. "The 40-year career lawyer." What a reference in time. Yeah, it's a nice concept and it would be great if it existed today. It doesn't. It can't. It's gone with the wind.

    "40 years in the wilderness".... let's see.

    The BigLaw or MidLaw firm gig that is believed to be standard fare for above-board, clean-cut, white graduates from nice, professional families, is a 3-4 year gig at best. That's assuming you get it. (We'll forget about the vast majority that don't because we focus on winners). You'll work there, get branded a lawyer, grow accustomed to the income, consider yourself ethical and somewhat above shitlaw shennanigans.... and then your job comes to a crashing end.

    No law firm grows sufficiently to take on all these recent entrants on anything near a permanent basis, and when the inevitable turnover comes, the firm spins the development in its favor, not yours. You're let go, likely for vague 'performance reasons.' Also, you don't 'generate clients' ... at age 29. You try, but it's tough severing corporate clients from firms when you're in your early 30s. Yeah, you got friends in business, but they're in their 30s, too. Just like you think it weird to hang out with 7th and 8th graders, most 50- and 60-somethings think its weird to hang out too much with you. They got friends their own age.

    And what of the skills you obtained in Big- or Midlaw? Well, you've been bottoming for some junior partners whose hold on their job and houses depends on keeping 'the help' far, far away from the clients. Enter the revolving door. Good partners who retain clients make it very clear to clients that they are the superstar who really do all the work despite all the substandard, incompetent bottom help they are saddled with. This gross excess of fresh bottoms every fall has allowed this cannon-fodder practice to flourish over the past 20 years.

    And so you're in 'solo practice' or you and some similarly situated colleagues (should you still have any friends) start a microfirm in your 30s. Now, the fun begins. Where does that replacement income come from? (If you didn't do the BigLaw of MidLaw stint, this is where you start).

    Now, your Big- or MidLaw experience will work against you. BigLaw and MidLaw essentially bottom select. NO, I'm not saying they recruit from the bottom of the class... rather they recruit people who have bottom outlooks; i.e., they want to be employees. In short, you wanted to work in retail, but if you're going to service, your now going to have to build your own department store.

    (Pay no attention to the market economy here and the fact there are eleven department stores in your town, three of which are circling the drain). You need to start a firm

    You've got that buddy with a startup. So you do some work for it, and slash your rate to save the friendship. Most businesses can't afford to pay you by the hour... even if you charge $40/hour... for anything resembling steady work. Those that can pay that rate (or even more) are using you to make a one-time problem go away. This is great, but it ain't steady.

    We've covered family law and criminal law: plenty of potential clients with problems... but all caused by the fact they're nearly penniless. Personal injury is cool and can be profitable, but most jurisdictions now have in place fairly effective tort reform measures which have taken a big bite out of that business. MedMal has all but vanished in some states.

    Try as you might, 40 years ain't gonna happen in this wilderness.

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    1. "you've been bottoming for some junior partners whose hold on their job and houses depends on keeping 'the help' far, far away from the clients"

      Quote of the day.

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  8. "Clients who are almost universally trying to scam the system with their fake injuries and running up their medical costs and lying and ripping off insurance companies and businesses by using the legal system as a tool for extortion. (I have a strong dislike for insurance company defense, but I have just as big a problem with plaintiff's personal injury ambulance chasers, especially with their 33% rip off fees. They are worse that real estate agents for taking huge sums of money they didn't earn.)"

    You sound like an insurance adjuster. There are places in the law for people like you. Its called Career Insurance Defense where all of the soulless go to practice. You can spend your life trying to deprive people of their rights and go home happy. You can assume that everybody is a fraud and not worry your little self about the fact the wage earner can no longer provide for his kids, because after all, our Nation has such a strong social safety net that the injured person will be well taken care of by society. pffffft.

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  9. ^^^^^ And you can laugh when you hire a medical prostitute who makes his living as a professional insurance defense witness, who skewers the plaintiff with the standard excuses these miscreants are known for:

    1) There is no injury.
    2) The injury is preexisting
    3) She would have needed the surgery anyway regardless of the accident.
    4) Its just the normal aging process
    5) Pain is subjective . . . .

    And then if you win the case, you and your adjuster client can go drinking together laughing about how you just totally screwed a young family and their kids.

    That to me is the worst thing about our Profession. There are not a small number of lawyers who are total narcissists, and have no concern for anybody or anything but themselves. They feel that the "zealous" representation requirement gives them free reign to manipulate, deceive and obstruct the truth so that they can continue feeding at the insurance trough.

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  10. Jeff, how long did it take you to get to where you are? I presume several years, maybe even a decade or two.

    I don't know why you and others like you are arguing with these people. The premise of this blog and others like it is to warn people about the realities of going to law school what happens after they graduate.

    Some of us don't want to be a solo practitioner because we don't have the business sense. I don't advise others to go solo anymore because some of them will just throw good money after bad. Some people are better off being employees for others.

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    1. I agree with all of that. I only disagreed with the characterization (per the OP as to what is supposed to be in the subject book) that the career, itself, is doomed to financial ruin fore almost everyone. This is simply not true.

      Is law school too expensive? Yes. Should you go when you can be a UPS drive making $50k plus benes and retirement? I wouldn't.

      I get all that. I really do. But, hey, if scambloggers demand honesty, they need to be honest, too. Don't sit and paint false pictures to discourage people. Give them the truth, and let them decide.

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    2. Not to jump in too quickly into shark-infested waters, but I'm not sure there'd be much disagreement on this point.

      My perspective is that the engines behind the Legal Education Industrial Complex have enormous momentum. I worked years ago with the author of Planet Law School, a jeremiad if ever there was one. That book nearly owned the prelaw-book market in the late 1990s. But we see now a near-universal acceptance of the "don't worry, be happy" message. (Clearly students do see the risks, but what I'm referring to relates to the value and values of law school and to the assumptions behind what "school" is all about) Telling someone that everything they think they know is true is in fact a terrible lie brings to mind scenes from The Matrix. It is not only disorienting for a prelaw student, it is terrifying and threatening to their sense of what is right (which is often confused with what should be right).

      Perhaps I might limit this to a simple thought: students absolutely need to hear the truth and they do need to decide. But of greater practical concern is the process of helping students to understand just how deeply down the rabbit hole they need to go (*before* they go to law school), for their own long-term benefit.

      Thane.

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  11. I would imagine this is the same charles cooper who used to trash the scambloggers over on his nontradlaw blog. I note that the blog part of nontradlaw is now missing.

    Nontradlaw was and is a pro-law school site, and the discussion among the older lemmings there were among the things that got me headed down my ill-fated law school path. THe nontradlaw discussion board deleted most anti-law school posts.

    Funny that he would write this sort of a book, seeing as how nontradlaw was and is such a big law school shill site. Bandwagoning, I guess.

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    1. Did "KittyDoctor" tell you to go to law school? What a pathetic excuse for your plight! It's one thing to rely on law schools and their fake statistics. It's entirely another level of stupidity to rely on some anonymous advice on an internet discussion board from people you don't know. (Incidentally, it's funny how groups of people on the internet can sometimes live in an echo chamber and end up getting shit so badly wrong. Just like xoxohth.com. Just like, er, here? I hope not, but god knows how attitudes will change in five years.)

      What was your name over there? Let's see some of your past posts to see that massive fraud perpetrated against you by those anonymous nontrads. Or are you.......................KittyDoctor?

      Meeeeeeow!

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    2. Yes, this seems like the same Cooper douche who called out the scamblogs.

      The book might be good, but the guy seems like a whore.

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    3. Of course it is the same person. But we don't eat our own here. Anyone who wants to fight is welcome, *especially* those who are changing sides.

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    4. I cannot speak for Charles, but he does address this in the beginning of the book. His experiences changed his perspective.

      I first worked with him about eight years ago, on his book Later-in-Life Lawyers. He was good to work with, but we did discuss a number of issues, including the general "pro" side that I thought was a bit too credulous. Much of that was modified, but it wasn't until much later that he experienced his epiphany. (At the non-traditional law site, I was regularly chastised for my position on preparing for law school, which I have taken as part of the "If you do go, go right" approach. In the world of "don't worry, be happy, don't prepare, get drunk," this is of course not a welcome message.)

      Cooper recently finished the second edition of LILL, and in that added an essay on just these topics.

      Thane.

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  12. To the authors, I downloaded your book from Amazon and I am 62% through and read this:

    "In a sense, by coincidence the biglaw associate receives the training that was supposed to happen in law school— a training that is in practice (ha!) denied to nearly every other working-stiff lawyer. Put simply, by raw resources and terror, biglaw associates learn the law better than nearly all of their smaller-firm and even government lawyers, thus adding to the collective pull of these"

    I completely disagree. I worked, after a short prosecutor career, in a mid size law firm and was trying cases in Federal Court within six months. We did everything. Hard to believe that a "big law" lawyer received half the experience in his five years that I received in a much smaller firm in two years.

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    1. Are you an exception to the rule though? I doubt there are many clients these days who would trust their cases to a junior midlaw attorney after a few months and a short career as a prosecutor. I've done the midlaw thing (if midlaw is about 50 lawyers?), and there is not one single instance I can think of where anyone with less than senior associate level experience (5 years or more) ever tried anything beyond bullshit impossible-to-lose cases in state court, and even that was not trusted to the new lawyers for a couple of years at least.

      Not to bust on your experience, but if you were literally trying every single part of real cases in fed court at that point in your career, you were probably frighteningly close to malpractice on a regular basis. It's not rocket science, but neither is it something that you can first chair without supervision after such a short time. Unless by federal court you mean bankruptcy court.

      But your point is well taken. I would also be skeptical that biglaw training is all that. The biglaw lawyers I know are dummies with family connections or lots of luck.

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    2. You're right that a midlaw firm duplicates much of the structure of a biglaw firm, so our phrasing about "smaller firm" associates was not quite right. (What I had in mind by "smaller firm" was something along the lines of 2-3 lawyer firms, but that is not, upon reflection, how it reads.) Midlaw can fairly be batched with biglaw in terms of training. Also, I suspect that your training as a prosecutor likely compressed even more training in an even shorter time.

      The broader point, however, relates to both of the above: in a government position (now quite difficult to get) or in a mid/big-law position (always difficult and now extraordinarily difficult), the organization provides training that law school does not. What's worse, anyone not in this closed circle is left out almost entirely, for the worst of both worlds: they have few resources, including much lower income, and just about zero opportunity to match the training of their "real law" counterparts. They are thus not just left behind, but left behind without even a pair of practical shoes to begin the walk to a real law practice.

      I will take a look at this and see about revisions to make this more clear.

      Thane.

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    3. You might also consider the fact that there are many biglaw partners who break off to start micro-firms and that they train their young attorneys quite well. I think it busts a hole in trying to stereotype on this topic, but it is what it is.

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    4. My mid-law firm was give or take, thirty five lawyers. We were known as a very aggressive maritime defense firm, and almost from day one we were handling entire cases. I was assigned to the senior, managing partner at the time of this case. He was my "direct" supervisor. He spent most of his time on his yacht, fishing and "rainmaking", but he was at my side the entire time I tried that case, which lasted two weeks, directly to a Federal Judge (without a jury). We won and the Court awarded our client over a million dollars (a lot of money back then) for this property damage claim on an oil rig. I had tried cases as a prosecutor, so I had a good feel in the courtroom (although the Federal Courtrooms are much grandeur and thus a little more intimidating).

      I was young and single at this firm, and really, can't say I did not enjoy my time there despite the hard work. And yes, I spent four years there, tried several cases, argued in Federal Appellate Court, even had my name listed as First Counsel in a Fed 2d. opinion. Looking back on it I was probably thrown to the wolves to sink or swim, as most litigators in the firm. But I and everybody else managed to get by. I eventually left because it was clear that sooner or later, the only guy who made the real money (real money being into seven figures) was the senior partner. And I did not want to work my tail off making somebody else rich. Eventually I landed solo and have done very well in the personal injury arena. I know some of you look at PI as sh*t law. From my perspective and philosophy, it is the best law to practice. You get to help people who truly need help and there are opportunities to make lots of money and lots of opportunity to try cases. In my mind, if you are not a trial lawyer, you are not a real lawyer. I have never bothered with family law, criminal defense, traffic tickets, etc., but yes, I learned how to practice law in that mid level firm.

      By the way, although I was accepted to a first tier law school, I went to a third tier evening law school (of course, back then, there were no US NEWS rankings, so I did not think in terms of tiers). Despite being a third tier school, it was a well respected regional school in the community and lots of Judges, politicians and big law people graduated from there at the time.

      I really did not understand what was going on in law school, until I participated in one of the legal clinics when things started to click. But it was at the firm I worked, where dealing with the Rules of Evidence, and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and Pretrial Orders, etc., that I started putting things together and things started making sense.

      When I left my firm, I also left the State I was practicing and headed to Florida, sat for the Florida Bar, studied just a few weeks on my own and passed with a high score. Actually working in the law, putting law school theory into practice, makes taking the bar a thousand times easier because you actually do think like a Lawyer and understand what the heck is going on. I see the Bar now as more of a psyche job than anything else. If you can't pass the bar the first or second time, you are doing something very wrong. And I have passed three of them.

      I would say one more thing about this solo practice stuff. Obviously, I am not a recent graduate and I am at the tail end of my career. But I still cannot believe it is impossible to make it on your own IF you take the time to learn how to practice AND you specialize in something that sets you apart in your community from other lawyers (in my case maritime expertise). You can learn to try cases by watching other top lawyers try cases, you can take plenty of practical seminars, join inns of court, network. Its doable. Not saying its easy, but doable. Of course, I suppose with several hundred thousands in loans hanging over a person's head and no practical experience, entering the law as a solo practitioner would be a very intimidating proposition.

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    5. "I suppose with several hundred thousands in loans hanging over a person's head and no practical experience, entering the law as a solo practitioner would be a very intimidating proposition."

      There's no suppose about it. Plus you forgot the key words - "NON-DISCHARGABLE".

      When you started, which sounds like it was 20+ years ago, the law market was not nearly as saturated as it is now, tuition was at most 50% (adjusted for inflation) of what is today, and student loans to the extent they existed were DISCHARGABLE.

      That is why law schools today are scams, while law schools 20+ years ago were not.

      The practice of law has never been easy, and there were no guarantees of success EVER, but 20+ years ago no one's life was wrecked by spending what turned out for some people to be 3 wasted years in law school.

      This is the point that you and JeffM both miss. There have always been law school graduates who do not have successful careers as lawyers, just as there are always some who do have successful careers (even a few of the most recent graduates will succeed), but in the past the percentage who succeeded was much higher than it has been in recent years, and no one's life was destroyed by crippling NON-DISCHARGABLE debt.

      To summarize:

      Law school today - life-destroying scam for well over half of its customers

      Law school 20+ years ago - a reasonable option that even if it did not work out did not wreck anyone's life.

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    6. Yes, you are right, there is a huge difference. My private law school tuition was so cheap back then when I started (1980) that I was able to pay tuition with pocket change from my day job. It is more than ten times as expensive today, and is smack in the middle of the Third Tier. I guess things change. And by the way, I was only an average student with average grades and still had no problems getting a job back then, first with the DA, and then with the private mid-sized firm. Yep, from what I have read, things are not the same.

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  13. 4:24PM - Nando?

    IIRC he used to trash you and you alone, not scambloggers!

    lol

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