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.