Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Am I Outside of the Scam . . . or Part of it?

As opposed to many of the other posts here, this is a more personal one, sort of like the one Adam B just posted, but not as useful.  Keep in mind that I am in no way trying to brag about my situation or put anyone down, I am merely trying to establish a context from which I can muse about something that I have wondered about for a little while.

Most of you should be familiar with the law school scholarship game.  Professor Brian Tamanaha refers to it as a "reverse Robin Hood" scheme.

The short version is this:

"Better" credentialed law students at many law schools are given varying discounts which are borne by "lower" credentialed law students.  Credentials are measured by one's LSAT and UGPA.  People with better credentials tend to come from wealthier backgrounds.  People with lower credentials tend to come from less-wealthy backgrounds.  Combining the LSAT and UGPA correlates to better rank relative to people with lower LSAT/UGPA stats.  Better class rank correlates to better job prospects after graduation.  Thus, law students from less-wealthy backgrounds subsidize those who come from more-wealthy backgrounds and who will have better job prospects after graduation, because "scholarships" are used by law schools to buy those with better credentials than the median.

At my law school I am a "better" credentialed law student relative to my peers, and come from a family who was able to help pay for some of my college expenses and who is able to completely cover my living expenses while in law school.  Several lower-ranked law schools offered me full rides with stipulations, and naive me made a decision which in hindsight may end up working brilliantly, but more on that later.  I wasn't aware until several months into law school that the GPA requirement for my scholarship meant that I would need to be in the top 1/3 of the class, something that I easily accomplished, but some of my classmates didn't.

With top grades at my school I got onto the law review, and also will be externing for a federal judge in the Fall and Spring of next year.  With the help of my parents, and a combination of my lower-credentialed peers and bad federal policy, I will graduate next May with zero total education debt after 7 years of higher education. 

I have become very critical of the current model of legal education.  However, it might end up paying off for me, thus my internal conflict: am I truly Outside of the Scam?

Through my own efforts I have secured multiple internships/externships at county prosecutors' offices, and I cannot deny it: I am hooked.  I love it.  Splitting the day between court and office keeps things fresh, as well as the trials, the hearings, the arguments, the appearances, some legal research and writing, and the negotiating (on the other hand, doing it from a solo defense perspective terrifies me and I have great respect for those like Adam B who represent their clients well in such a stressful situation).  Despite my law schools low prestige compared to other law schools in the region, government hiring at the county level is more about who you know and what relevant experience you have rather than where your law school rests on the USN rank.

As the office that I currently intern for hires mostly their student practitioner interns, I am much more optimistic about getting a county prosecutor job soon after passing the bar next summer, in the next two weeks I should know more about my chances next year.  With starting pay in the region to be in the range of $45,000 to $55,000 a year, with zero debt, and a love of the job (interning with a student law license has made me realize this beyond a reasonable doubt), I feel like I am in a great place, though I know that getting that first job will take some luck that is outside my control.

If I get  my dream job, I wonder, however, how I will feel about it considering the circumstances that made it possible.   A good chunk of my classmates are going to be unemployed at the legendary 9 month mark.  Another chunk will be working part time or in jobs that slightly favor a JD or do not require a JD at all.  The "fortunate" ones will have gotten work with a variety of small firms and government agencies.  Most will be carrying a debt which requires $1800 a month in student loan payments or more on a standard ten year plan.

I like most of my classmates.  And I feel that by playing the law school game I may be part of the scam.  If I get my dream job, which pays a decent amount in relation to the zero debt I am incurring, I believe I could be considered to be sort of equivalent to those in faculty and administration who benefit on the misery of law students in the current situation facing legal education.

I feel some guilt, I can't lie.  I feel like a survivor before the escape boats are even launched. I feel like I've used a tainted system for my own benefit.  I feel that my job and situation are ill-gotten.

This is a post I've kind of wanted to make for a while.  Let me know if you think if I am Part of the Scam or not.  Perhaps there are others who came out of law school with a favorable financial situation thanks to the reverse Robin Hood scholarship system and came into careers that you love, and feel similarly to me.

Thanks for listening.

UPDATE: In case I wasn't clear, as judging by the comments, I DON'T have the job lined up yet, but am well-positioned to get it.  My point still stands though: if I succeed I will have done so on the backs of my debt-laden peers who will have far worse job prospects than I, thus making me feel complicit in the law school scam.


  1. Congratulations. You are one of the lucky ones. You are not part of the scam. Without a doubt, there are success stories for law school graduates - only that these success stories are the exception to the rule and do not apply to the overwhelming majority. THAT is where the "scam" aspect comes into play. My guess is that your law school will put your picture on its promotional materials once you graduate and land that job so your individual success can be used to lure in more naive students in the belief that they will obtain similar success. That is just not the case. From my TTT, only about 10% of my class can say they had anything approaching success 10 years post-graduation, and the majority of those individuals were practicing in the patent area. Notice that I did not say they were necessarily happy; just successful by most definition, e.g., made partner at large firm and making $200,000+ per year.

  2. Once you start practicing, you'll realize that even the winners lose.

    But at least you aren't carrying a boatload of debt.

  3. I am happy for you -- the world needs some number of high-quality lawyers and it sounds like you are perfect for the job.

    However, I would predict that you are still going to be a victim of the scam to some degree. Law schools are massively over-producing lawyers. So much variable-quality competition means lower salaries, less prestige for the profession, less trust in lawyers, etc. It may mean less job security and fewer raises over time, because your future employers can easily replace you with desperate, indebted, 22-year-olds.

    I hope you enjoy your career and make the best of it. You will probably be OK, even if you miss out on some things. But even the top people lose out when educational scammers run amok.

    1. Keep your head and remember the law school scam will follow you to the ends of the earth because it has so overproduced lawyers that your professional credentials and skills are devalued each year.

      Even if the law schools stopped graduating kids today, there are still far too many lawyers out there. Your employers very well know that fact and treat you accordingly. Jobs today are a very rough and uncertain ride.

      And be honest, you went to law school in large part for the money part of it. No, not to be rich, not to be wealthy, not to retire at 40.... but to have a middle-class job. You probably need a paycheck. If you wanted to minister to the poor without regard to personal compensation, you were probably aware of the priesthood/ministry. Why didn't you join the clergy?

      Keep law in perspective, and try not to fall in love too much with any particular practice area, and never let yourself fall out of love with something else.

      Law practice can be kind of like adopting that cute stray kitten... that you take home and learn actually has a fatally defective heart, worms, and rickets. You give her your whole heart, but her's won't last.

      Is there something else you'd rather do? Explore that now. Don't let that part of you die.

      I'm sad to say you may likely have been scammed.

  4. You are part of the scam but your gains aren't ill gotten. Don't feel too bad though.

    You do have a teeny tiny role the law school scam by being part of the student loan redistribution scheme and by propping up your toilet's numbers. But, as many others have said, everyone signing up for law school nowadays has at least some inkling of an idea that there is a law school scam. Students are informed, if only minimally, so this isn't as bad a scam as it could be. The schools aren't as forthcoming as they should be by any means, but still word on the street is out.

    Therefore your gains are not ill gotten. You benefited from a crazy scheme. The people setting up the scheme should feel the guilt. Take your benefits with clear conscience and don't feel guilty!

    1. Huh?

      So everyone who lucks out in law school or does well and gets a job is part of the scam?

      Don't be retarded.

      This whole movement has a really fucking nasty habit of resenting any success whatsoever, and it drives some fucking good allies away because they don't want to be attacked.

      Get over yourself. Antiro is not part of the scam.

      Professors and law school administrators are the scam, along with Sallie Cunt Mae and Access Group or ACS or whoever the fuck is raping me on my private loans right now.

  5. No. The deans pulling in 200k from student loans are the scammers.

  6. 1. I don't think you are part of the scam. If you "win" you are going to make 45K a year. That is not a princely sum for so much education - you are basically making what a teacher makes. The fact that you love it is just icing on the cake - but I can't see where law school has financially benefited you in any way.

    2. Why don't they just ban scholarships? This would be an easy way to reduce tuition. Law school is way too expensive, but it shouldn't be free. If schollies were banned, schools wouldn't play this game of buying the better students. Since no one could play the game, the schools would all benefit.

  7. Excellent post. Here's why. The fact that you, as one of the minority who succeed, have come here and supported the cause is awesome. We need more of you - successes who realize that the reality for many others is a disaster.

    People find it all too easy to dismiss us as losers or whiners, and they can point to our "failure" as proof. But when successful law students join us and say, "Yes, it's true - there is a scam", then people start to listen more. They can't dismiss Antiro as a loser with a selfish agenda.

    I don't see any law student as being part of the scam. You could, with an unlucky bad grade or two, easily have been telling the same old story as everyone else here. Calling you part of the scam is like calling a survivor of a war a coward because he lucked out and came back in one piece, or blaming a survivor of the Titanic for there not being enough life rafts.

    If only we could draw in more success stories to add power to our collective voice.

  8. If lawprofs like Campos and Tamanaha can support the scamblogs while profiting from the system, you certainly have a place here. Even if my solo practice goes well in the coming years, it will not lessen my resolve for telling the truth to prospective students. I think that we can survive the law school game or excel at it without being "sellouts." Also, it gives credibility to the movement when it is truly about the irrationality and unfairness of the current system and not just about bitching about one's own circumstances.

  9. Don't feel bad at all. Most of my class of 2010 grads from a tier 2 law school in the South have made out ok. I just started in the wrong place. You may enjoy practicing law with a low debt load. Don't feel bad about your success, but as the others above have written bear witness that despite your success the greedy bastard's law schools are nothing but a guaranteed debt load and no job for most of us.

    Law school is a big scam. I hope the dwindling applicants trend will continue. Those profs are overpaid for screwing with young kids with the BS that is a law class. Anybody ever benefited from the Socratic method. I would love to see them have to take salary cuts or get laid off. Let them do a hide the ball with a client or managing partner.

    And for student loan reform I gave up hope when I saw how much uncle sam is making off of us. They can brag about no increase in taxes when its their voters kids paying for lower taxes. I just want a lower interest rate so I can make a dent.

    This blog is like therapy for me. I tell family and friends that I am not alone. Maybe one day we can band together and march on D.C. and make a lot of noise.

  10. Guys or gals like you are part of the scam because, many times (if not most of the times), you will pretend like you did all on your own with no assistance. Moreover, and again may times, people like you will get additional help from your parents (or otherwise) that will enable you to live well beyond your means as a lawyer, even if you get big law, but especially in the case of a county job, ie prosecutor.

    The above effect pushes more people into the scam because, and this is a partial effect of the American culture, people think they will live like you by becoming a lawyer, which they wont even if they get a job as a lawyer. It is utterly un-American for you to say a person with money has money because of neptotism, family help, etc. If you do so, you are a whiner and a loser. This accentuated because most people in your position refuse to admit they are where they are because of help.

    In fact, your situation is not totally egregious because at least you achieved something on your own. I know someone from LS who performed in a mediocre fashion, this person makes what you make, but this person's old man paid cash for a house, wedding, benz, and all education. Naturally, this person is quick to judge others that are struggling (he/she claims its all merit). I should also mention he/she got hired because of his/her old man.

    I remember telling my family I did not want to go to LS because it did not seem like a good idea in light of some things which seemed suspicious to me, but scenarios like those outlined above operated as pressure to go. Needless to say, and even though my lawyer income is considerably higher than the person I described above, I am not living well and sooner or later as the market gets flooded, I will be out on my ass looking for a job.

    1. Oh my god, stop resenting any kind of success! You sound like my fucking mother!

      He was smart. He got a scholarship. He networked and found a job. Good for him. He got lucky, and he put in the effort.

      I'm getting a little tired of people here who see success as a crime, or who see it as unfair. That sums up this movement really well, in fact - people who see success as unfair (and who also therefore see failure as unfair). Sorry. Antiro worked his ass off and did well, and he's happy. Good for him. I'm sorry law school didn't work out for you, but it's not his fault!

    2. Dude or Dudette,

      I don't resent success. I have no SL debt because I too went through school with scholarships (full ride for LS) and had some family help. I also make considerably more than what the poster indicated as his future salary. However, I have no illusions about the fact that I will be on my ass at some point because the utter oversaturation of the market place makes long-term, stable employment close to impossible. I hope for the best, but hoping in this context is not rational, (when you flood the market, everyone is going to get fucked).

      Now, more importantly, as to my main point, people like the poster are usually part of the scam because they live a much better lifestlye because of family help, not because of their lawyer salary. The unsuspecting public attributes that lifestyle as being a result of being a lawyer, not receiving family help. Do you think the poster is going to live on the 45-50k salary he is receiving from the county prosecutor position? Or do you think mom and dad are going to put a down payment on the house, buy him a car, and help out with the bills? Even if the poster does not fall into that category, a very large portion of the "successful" people in LS fall into the archetype I described; and let's be clear, I am not talking about getting a LS job as being a result of family help, I am talking about supplementing your income with family help to appear successful.

      Do you think 45k is a good result for 7 plus years of education, especially in this market? Where I live, a plumbers helper makes more. Most regular folks are going to see how people like this wind up after LS and assume it has to do with the financial compensation provided as an attorney, yet you know damn well 45k is not going to cut the cheese in alot of places (but 45k with family help will).

  11. I think a great big group hug is in order by now.

  12. Nora Demleitner pulled the reverse Robin Hood on me and my classmates at Hofstra. How can she sleep at night?

  13. If you're ever in a hiring position, do NOT hire an ex-academic. That's my plan anyway, except for Campos and BT. Any other smarmy academics can go work at McDs for all I care. And if I ever see one on a doc review, watch out. Get ready to be knocked down to size.

  14. 11:21. You shouldn't have gone to Hofstra in the first place. It is a terrible law school. Read this http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=178765. And it dropped from 89th to 113th in US news this year.

  15. The thing is you still need to get a job when you graduate. You still need to be able to hold on to a job for a career - 35 years minimum for most people. It's freaking hard in the incredible oversupply of lawyers situation. Sort of like an invasion of ants, and most will get stepped on because there are too many.

    1. This is an important point. Even a person with family money and top-third grades from a mid T-1 school and internships with the ADA does not have a guaranteed career. Most ADAs do not last for ten years, let alone an entire career. And many people working for free for DAs offices, including those recent graduates working for free for 40 hours a week, do not end up with the jobs that they predicted. The lawyer glut has caused these jobs to be flooded with T14 applicants with way more experience than the average K-JDer male (which is such a large portion of DAs offices).

      I think Antiro will be fine, but I would warn anyone to not count their chickens these days unless you are at the top of HYS.

    2. This is a very important point, and something that I am painfully aware of, especially witnessing the march of solo and small firm criminal defense attorneys in court on a daily basis (no offense AdamB).

    3. No law school guarantees that you will not end up as a solo several years out. It is the incredible oversupply, you know.

    4. I know Harvard and Yale Law solos. Each lost their big law or mid law job. Not early in their careers, but in some cases not late in their careers either. If you want job security, don't become a lawyer.

  16. We are all sensitive people, with so much to give.

    I feel that big group hug coming on soon!

  17. Thoughtful post. Your modesty and honesty are refreshing.

    However, it somewhat reminds me of the person on the flight who mutters 'Thank God we didn't crash' some four minutes after takeoff.

    Enjoy your clerkship; it will fly by much, much too quickly. You'll be on the open job market in months. You're probably already exploring it.

    When you've entered the legal workforce, law school-like shennanigans begin anew. This time they play for keeps.

    If you go BigLaw, it's Yesterday Once More. They hire-on many more newbies than the number of longterm workers they could ever hope to use, and then let you fight it out among yourselves to see who will be The Survivor. It's kinda like the push to make Law Review. The firm may take 1 or 2 of you... but it's now far more likely won't take any. This has to do with their needs-- not your abilities. The business model is built on the revolving door and the firm's ability to portray their non-growth as your inability to cut the mustard. The literature is full of stories about this phenonemon...

    MidLaw is similar, and there is the added factor that they need to keep the laborers far away from the clientel, so they too depend on a revolving door policy. I've seen several midlaw firms where they didn't make true partners for well over a decade.

    You'll end up essentially self-employed in whatever line of law you go into. This is more readily apparent to the person who is forced into solo practice early on. But in the end, you're responsible for your own employment.

    The deal is ... law is about serving others' needs. It's almost entirely market driven, not 'you'-driven. Yeah, you can schmooze a family friend into drawing up a will, and you can weedle you're way into doing a bud's divorce, but you're not going to create new work. Unless you're a bad guy.

    You are but a very, very minor force in the market. Yes, you can certainly try to draw work and clients towards you. At the same time, there are market factors far beyond your control. More importantly, the vast overproduction of lawyers that has been ongoing for decades has now driven down wages to the point where solo/small firm practice is highly improbable from a financial standpoint, and has led to Big and MidLaw being revolving doors.

    No, you're not a purveyor of the law school scam. But welcome to the suck.

    1. That is the reason why someone like you with parents to pay the freight ought to give it a couple of years, and if it does not work out, go into another line of work that has a better supply demand imbalance. Even if it means more education - you can afford it. You don't have debt. The first sign of trouble - no summer job, losing a job, unemployment for any period over 3 months- just get out while you are young enough to get out in tact.

    2. If you can manage to get the degree with little or no debt its much easier to write it off as a youthful misadventure and move on with your life, if things don't work out. When it comes to the unhappiness of unsuccessful graduates the massive debt load is probably an equal or greater factor than the lack of jobs.

  18. Great post Antiro.

    There are three factors which will assist anyone in mitigating the affect of the law school scam. The first is other people's resources, including contributions by parents or spouses. If you start behind you stay behind and having the flexibility of little or no debt is invaluable.

    The second factor is good grades and rank. In my days at law school, there was a huge B/C+ (3.0/2.5) factor. Just a few points on a few exams would forever be an unremovable stain on your transcript and haunt your job search for years.

    The last factor which is by far the most important is sheer luck. You need luck more than any other factor for a successful career in law due to the fact that there are two graduates for every job. And no matter how successful you are in your career, you will still need luck because of the law school scam. You will feel this pressure all throughout your practice as an attorney. The next check is a relief for only a minute, because even when you have a job, there is uncertainty. You feel the pressure of a professional field with aging members and plentiful applicants who are desperate to service their debt any way possible and who will take any job.

    We all need this luck because the way the law school scam has permeated the profession. Even if you are successful in the moment, there is still fear. And because we live with this fear every day no one can really say that they are not impacted by the law school scam.

    Now, group hug.

  19. I want to expand on @4:44's discussion of Luck. You can have two identical law students, both top 10%, law review, the whole 9 yards. Both work for the same firm during their 2L year and both are offered FT associate positions upon graduation. Both take and pass the bar on the first try. Associate No. 1 works for Partner X whereas Associate No. 2 works for Partner Y. Partner Y is a complete jackass, control freak without an ounce of humanity in his body. Partner X is a hard ass, but fair and generally decent guy. Do you see where this story is going? Associate No. 1 becomes a partner and Associate No. 2 is shown the door after only two (2) years all because the partner he works for is a complete jerk. Associate No. 2 then finds himself doing document review in order to pay off his student loans since he can't find another associate position. Thus, luck is an important component. Big boobs and a nice butt go a long way too.

    1. In house is like that. You can get a manager that runs through 4 or 5 lawyers in a single job in the space of a couple of years and ruins the careers of the first 3. Why? Because they can. Because so many lemmings are waiting in line for this in house job and will risk bring slaughtered. And because the manager can get away with it by paying a small amount of severance. The by line is fit and comfort and people wanting to work with the lawyer, and in a hyper glutted profession there will be hordes of dead lawyer bodies littering the landscape. All worth it you know because that superman or woman needs his or her report to be that perfect fit.

  20. Antiro,

    I don't mean to scare you, but you will never know the result of your situation for years to come and you for sure won't know anything until after your graduate.

    What happens in law school is and can be very different from what happens after you graduate - very different. Let me explain by using myself as an example. I was a straight A student in undergrad. Also worked before and while attending school so had numerous years of work experience in management and professional jobs. Had diplomas from both an American and European university. Fluent in 4 languages. Got a great scholarship in law school and maintained it the entire time. Parents picked up the remainder (I was blessed.) Only ended up taking out a loan for a small portion.

    Got an internship w/ a very prestigious, federal judge while in law school. Was an honors scholar, on the dean's list, president of a student org, won a special award and was a representative of my law school in a very competitive, national competition. Passed the bar on the first time. Interned at the PD's office for almost a year. And then...

    Couldn't find paid work in the state in which I was licensed. Moved back home w/ parents, where I wasn't licensed. Couldn't afford to take the bar in my current state. Found a temp job for $9 an hour working in a warehouse - was willing to take any job for an income. Applied to over 750 jobs - couldn't even get interviews for any of them. Got my first, permanent, non-legal job for $13,000 a year - grateful for it. Worked there until my whole division got laid off. Lived on unemployment - something I had NEVER done before - for four months. Found a job working for a lawyer part-time for $400 a month. Currently working for $14,000 a year in a non-legal job and grateful that I have paid employment at this point. Permanently left the legal field and will NEVER look back. It destroyed me. Asking myself every night - "what could I have done differently?"

    If there is anything I have learned from this, it is this: one moment you can be on top of the world. You can think you are something. And in an instant, that can all change. Tomorrow, you may be in the unemployment line, praying for your next dollar. You may CURRENTLY be outside the law school scam, Antiro. The emphasis is on 'currently.' Tomorrow you may be deeply involved in it. So, in five years from now, come back and post and let us know what you think then. Because things may be different by then. Or maybe not. You won't know until you get there.

    1. Anon, you sound like you have a very interesting and relevant story to tell. Perhaps you would like to have a guest post or two and share what you have gone through.

      I will keep what you have said in mind.

    2. Not taking the second bar if you had little debt and lived with your parents was not a good move. Doing all this stuff in law school is of limited help from a non top law school where you do not have a high class rank. You should have focused on connections to the foreign country where you went to school and knew the language to get work.

    3. @1:18am.

      7:32 here

      Sorry, but I wasn't about to invest any more money in the legal field, which is why I never considered taking another bar. Never again. I was seeing the results of all my investment and all my hard work and it was resulting in absolutely nothing. I felt I would have been a fool had I invested more money in what I was seeing as a losing scheme. The legal field will never get another dime from me. When it costs over $100,000 for someone to enter the legal field - something's wrong with that scenario. We are just starting to wake up and recognize that.

      As far as focusing on connections in the foreign country in which I lived (I actually lived in three), do you know how hard it is to be allowed to immigrate into most foreign countries? Think how hard it is to do so in the United States. It's similar to the other countries in which I lived. They don't want people coming over and taking their jobs just like we don't.

      That being said, I did some investigating into immigrating. One country I looked at required you to have a employer sponsor and $25,000 in the bank, something that I certainly didn't have. In short, unless you already have a job lined up for you or money in the bank and no need for a job, the immigration policies for most countries I looked at (where I had lived and then some) were very restrictive. And again, I graduated when the recession was at its full peak and applied to numerous overseas jobs.

      As far as having connections in the foreign country where I went to school (and interned), that was several years ago when I lived there.

      I have no problems with the choices I have made. I believe fully in them and they have been good ones. If you are looking for the one bad choice I made (the 'aha' moment) you probably aren't going to find it. I had bad luck and got hit hard by the economy, like so many others. That's the gist of my story. It can happen to anyone.

  21. 7:32, with all of your academic qualifications and also being bilingual, its just difficult for me to believe you are unemployable, even if you have to go outside the law to find a different job. If you can't find a job out there, how is it possible for anybody in any field to find a job? Why did you intern at the PA's office instead of a law firm? Why did you not end up clerking for the Federal Judge? Clerks usually end up moving into big law. Why could you not go back into the fields you worked in after college? You are describing a situation bordering on an economic depression. So perhaps your issues go beyond the law. Perhaps, for some reason, you just don't fit easily into organizations.

    1. " If you can't find a job out there, how is it possible for anybody in any field to find a job? "

      Roughly 40% of grads don't get lawyer jobs. Considering that the top schools probably fun 90-95%, that means that there are a number of mid-range schools with horrible statistics (the real ones).

      Shorter version: 'glut' has a real world meaning.

  22. @8:03.

    7:32 here. First, I'm not unemployable. I am currently employed and except until after law school, I had quite an illustrious work history. Until law school, I averaged several years at every job and have always been promoted fairly quickly. I am currently earning a salary. My problem doesn't seem to be I am unemployable. It seems to be that I can't earn enough.

    I'll answer a couple of your questions, but I'll be honest: I am turned off by your immediate assumption that I must have done something to cause this. Have you, uh, heard about something called the recession? Have you talked to your friends lately. My situation is far from rare. I have a current friend who is also a lawyer who graduated 5 years ago. She has been looking for full-time work for quite some time (right now, part-time was all she could get) and in her search for work, the last several offers for law clerk positions were for $10-$12 an hour and she lives in a state where the cost of living is VERY high. I happened to have graduated right in the middle of a recession when hiring was severely restricted and the 'recession' thing hit me full-force - maybe worse than most.

    Now to answer some of your questions: why I didn't clerk for the federal judge: the judge I interned for was very popular and had a program where he let lots of individuals intern for him. He had at least 9 interns in the summer. There was also no hiring going on. He had two career law clerks who had worked there for almost 20 years and they had no intention of leaving. It wasn't an employment opportunity. It was a chance to pad my resume.

    As for why I interned at the PD's office instead of a private law firm, I interned where they accepted me and where I wanted to go. I have never been the BigLaw type and never had an interest in being involved in that rat race. Never even considered it. I should also remind readers that I was trying to make it in a state in which I had never resided - I had no connections.

    As for why I didn't go back in the fields in which I worked before, I was actually offered a position in my previous field but at that time, I was still trying to make it in the legal field and didn't want to give up on that. I guess I didn't want to admit that law school had been in vain and taking a job that I had previously that didn't require a law degree seemed a little defeatist at that point. I wanted to keep trying in the law and I gave it a full-fledged effort before I left it. Going back to those careers would have left me feeling like I had regressed, wasted the last few years, and failed at the major goal I had in life. I wasn't ready to accept that at that point in life.

    Anyway, hope this satisfies your curiosity. As for how anyone will be able to find a job, I think location, luck, and financial circumstances play a big role. The last few years, I have had neither of the last two, and I should mention that I live in one of the worst economic environments in the country. I think all of that makes a big difference.

    1. One of the issues here is being older. If you are older than your early thirties when you graduate from law school, you may have more trouble finding a job. Maybe was not as hard many years ago, but is hard in a supersaturated profession.

      Have you looked into whether there is reciprocity today in the state where you live?

  23. @Antiro

    7:32 here. I have actually considered posting my story several times on this site. I am still mulling it over...

  24. @ 7:32,
    You should write up your story, the way I did a few weeks ago. Employment statistics pale in comparison to anecdotes. The more actual stories there are out there, the less Lemmings can rationalize away the differences between their circumstances and our stories.

  25. You have been fortunate. This is good for you. However, you are still a fetus in the womb. Some babies are born underweight and wind up getting drafted by the NFL. Then, there are all sorts of in-betweens. It's too early to tell how advantageous your position really is. No need to feel guilt.

  26. Um, how are you "clerking" for a federal judge next fall and spring? Unless you don't mean "clerking," you mean externing, which is completely, totally different.

    (To wit: My judge's chambers had externs from TTT schools. His clerks were from top 5 schools, mostly Stanford and Chicago.)

    1. You're right. Clerking and externing are very different. I corrected it to reflect that.

  27. About 7:32--

    A number of facts here point towards a "ranking" issue in finding good jobs. Hard hit economy? Tuition covered? Maybe a mid-Tier 1 institution, maybe Hastings or UC Davis, maybe Ohio State.

    There are reasons why some students incur debt to go to better institutions. Not without risk, though. You gotta pick a fight you can win.