Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Popular Misconception



“How come virtually every lawyer I know appears to be making at the least a decent living? I also know many who are self-employed and year after year knock it out of the ball park.”

I saw this comment to one of my prior posts, but it’s taken me a while to get around to writing about it.  The author of the comment is somewhat puzzled at the difference between the message we’re sending (law school does not often lead to success) and his own personal observations (virtually all of the lawyers he sees are all successful.)  And the logic, or lack thereof, shown is exactly the reason why schools like Indiana Tech continue to attract students.

So let’s put this myth to bed once and for all.  (Although it seems to be a myth that’s like a three year old kid on Christmas Eve – you put it to bed but an hour later it’s creeping down the stairs, so you put it to bed again but then another hour later it’s back on the sofa between you and the wife, then again you put it to bed and at three in the morning, just when you thought it was finally resting, it’s at the foot of your bed asking you whether it’s time to go to law school yet.)
 
The reason the commenter is observing “virtually every lawyer” he knows “making at least a decent living” is because he’s looking only at successful lawyers.  He’s ignoring the huge numbers of unemployed lawyers, lawyers too poor to advertise, part-time lawyers, underemployed lawyers, JD grads who left the profession, and the countless law grads who never even became lawyers in the first place.  He’s observing a select subset of all lawyers rather than observing all law graduates.
 
All successful lawyers are law graduates.

I am a law graduate.

Therefore, I will become a successful lawyer.


If you are reading those three statements and thinking, “Yes, that makes sense,” then you’re about to unwittingly make the biggest mistake of your life.

I’m no logician, but when looking at a statement such as “all successful lawyers are law graduates,” the only valid conclusion one can draw about law graduates becoming successful lawyers is that some law grads become successful lawyers.  Here at Outside the Law School Scam, we’re of the general opinion that the “some” is actually “few”, a conclusion we’ve drawn from many years of experience.  And anyone considering law school should be not just looking at successful lawyers, but at all JD grads, to gauge what their own career prospects might be.

So where do all the unsuccessful law grads go?

Let me give you an excerpt from Con Law which might shed more light on this matter:


The most important, untapped source of information are the numerous law graduates who fail to obtain any legal job, or who choose to leave the profession altogether. (The former is, of course, a prime driver of the latter.) It is these “ex-”attorneys you should seek out; many currently-practicing attorneys have little insight into what happens when law school goes wrong. . . . Attorneys with good jobs these days are not average; they are those who have either lucked out in graduating before the crash and escaped downsizing, or they’re the tiny minority of top-performing students from a top-ranked law school—or their uncle is a name partner. Either way, they’re hardly going to give you the real scoop.
. . .
The most valuable information about the profession is obtained from those who have left the profession, or who are on the verge of leaving, or who never managed even to get a foot on the lowest rung of ladder to be able to then leave. Whether they might have done better under different circumstances or not, the job market fell out from under them. If you really want to know the downsides to going to law school, now—or a career in law, now—ask those who went, recently, but who aren’t there anymore. Figure out why.



Observing a select subset of law graduates (and lawyers are a select subset) leads to some odd results.  Clearly, it allows otherwise-intelligent people to make the kind of statement I quoted at the start of this post.  Similarly, “Lawyer Satisfaction Surveys” are by definition generally only surveying lawyers, who are happy enough with their career choice to remain practicing law, and those surveys don’t reflect the massive dissatisfaction from the countless lawyers who left the profession in disgust, who were forced out by underemployment, or who never got a foot in the door in the first place.  Likewise, career statistics collected by law schools generally reflect only those recent grads who are proud and successful enough to report their data to the law schools, and don’t reflect the high numbers of unemployed, low-paid, or underemployed grads who prefer to keep their “failure” a secret (although their lack of success is in no way their own fault and they have nothing to be ashamed of.  In fact, I would argue that they have a duty to expose their lack of success to make sure that others don’t fall into the same trap, but that’s another post.)

So be careful with observations about lawyers, and be careful about what conclusions you draw from those observations, because you may fall into the trap of ignoring the huge numbers of law grads who don’t even show up on the radar because they were discarded by the profession or who prefer to remain hidden.  And don’t forget that there’s a good chance that you’ll end up in that same group of discarded or hidden grads.

I’ve drawn a little Venn diagram to help you figure this out.  In the universe of JD grads, there are two subsets, lawyers and non-lawyers.  And in the subset of lawyers, there’s a sub-subset of successful lawyers.  Law schools want you to see only that red-shaded sub-subset and come to the conclusion that you’ll automatically be in that group - Indiana Tech Law School and your buddies sitting on the back row of the classroom, yes, I'm looking at you.  The universe of possible outcomes from a JD that you should be looking at lies in the red, blue and green areas of the diagram combined, because only that represents all the possible outcomes from your investment in law school.  If you're doing your pre-law research and not speaking to non-lawyers in addition to practicing lawyers, or if you're only speaking to successful lawyers, you need to rethink your process.



Charles Cooper is the author, along with Thane Messinger, of “Con Law: Avoiding...or Beating...the Scam of the Century (The Real Student's Guide to Law School and the Legal Profession)”, in addition to being the moderator at Nontradlaw.net and the author of “Later in Life Lawyers”.  He can be contacted at charlescooperauthor@gmail.com.

121 comments:

  1. Plus you cannot talk to the ones who have left the profession by committing suicide.
    http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/20/opinion/krill-lawyers-suicide/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hopefully, those sad stories speak for themselves. And the piece you link to is worthy of its own post on this site. The facts in there are stunning and help drive home what a miserable profession many law grads find themselves stuck in.

      Delete
    2. We also have to remember that many of those were what we would consider the successful lawyers in the Venn diagram, if we define success as making enough money to support oneself and to justify going to law school.

      Delete
  2. When I was a kid - I was visiting an uncle in Ireland, who was a sufficiently successful lawyer as to own a few racehorses (and his wife also was a rider and later trainer.) One day we were driving through Kildare and he stopped at a large house, driving around the back into the stable-yard. It turned out to be a race-horse trainer and occasional breeder he acted for.

    The place was pretty dilapidated - there were a few old cars, one at least with the bumper tied on, rust-holes in everything - except for a gold Mercedes SEL, which a stable lad was busy polishing. He and my uncle conferred for a while, and then we continued out journey.

    My uncle asked what I thought of the place, noting "poor guy, he's been having a hard time in business." I noted the state of repair, but then asked about the expensive, if a few years old, Mercedes.

    "oh that," said my uncle "that's his 'going to the races car' - he has to look successful or no one will hire him."

    Many lawyers are like that trainer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Law school and most solo practices: a bright, shinning facade.

      Delete
    2. Magicians use the same techniques of creating an illusion which does not really exist. Pulling a rabbit out of a hat or driving a new Mercedes perceived to be owned is a portrayed image...the hat has a false bottom and the above Mercedes is leased, borrowed or has a salvage title.

      Delete
    3. Agreed on this point. When I was a solo and earning nothing (because there were no clients, not because I was a useless attorney), I was bleeding money. The only solution was to stop being a solo, because that's all I had control over. I could throw money at advertising, client development, fancy web sites, attending conferences and CLEs, wining and dining potential clients, making myself look as successful as I possibly could, but it really didn't take long for me to realize that I was throwing good money after bad.

      Delete
  3. From your lips to Lemming's ears, Charles.

    Good article on survivorship bias:

    http://youarenotsosmart.com/2013/05/23/survivorship-bias/

    Successful practitioners are the bombers who made it back, while being riddled with holes and flak damage. They studied those to death, rather than asking "These planes are the planes that made it! What about the ones that didn't make it? Those are the ones we need to study so as to determine optimum armor placement, such that more bombers make it back."

    But that would be logical. Law Schools aren't keen on logic, where students are concerned.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the law school lemmings are even less sophisticated than this. It's more a case of 'I'm moving to England because I've seen all the Downton Abbey episodes and want to live that lifestyle.'

      Delete
    2. I love the phrase, "the bombers who made it back." That would have been a far better title for this post.

      Delete
  4. Excellent article.

    Also, I've seen the problem that many, many people (including some older lawyers) look at the hundreds of solo practitioners, micro/small law practices and automatically conclude that they're turning a profit and are thus viable businesses. Yeah, they understand it's not going to make the Fortune 500 and that the lawyer isn't going to live like Downton Abbey, but hey, who else is?

    "See, she's got her own practice... she's making it. Come on, she' s doing better than that flunkey managing the greasy spoon down the road. Gotta be. She's a professional... and obviously making some money because she's got an office."

    The simple fact a person with the 'lawyer' credential hangs a shingle, opens an office and gets a $500 fee doesn't mean that it's a viable business. Same with an artist.

    The problem is multiplied by the fact that the solo/small lawyer desparately and understandably needs to project an air of success (and has pride, too) and thus musn't be candid about finances to outsiders. And no person in the community can examine earnings statements or tax returns. The image persists.

    Prospective law students need to pick their town and interview at least 10 solos/microfirms that started in the past 5 years AND made it past 3 years. And get the fullest possible financial picture they can. There are at least 50 people I know in this boat that would give you an earful that would will make this Blog's posts seem like naive pro-law-school shillery.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hopefully, the typical lemming brain can understand the Venn diagram. It is simple, but then again you are seeing people inspired by the fictional Elle Woods.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tried to dumb it down as best I could, but it's hard to compete with Elle Woods - as Law School Lemmings is highlighting each and every day with those moronic tweets from people who seem legitimately inspired by that movie.

      Delete
  6. "All successful lawyers are law graduates. I am a law graduate. Therefore, I will become a successful lawyer."

    The logic is plainly wrong; it exemplifies the error known as affirming the consequent. When I taught courses on the LSAT, I drummed this mistake out of my students from the very first day.

    "I’m no logician, but when looking at a statement such as “all successful lawyers are law graduates,” the only valid conclusion one can draw about law graduates becoming successful lawyers is that some law grads become successful lawyers." Technically, you cannot even conclude that: it's possible that no law graduates are successful lawyers (in which case "all successful lawyers" is the empty set). To draw your conclusion, you need to know that there is at least one successful lawyer. (Which happens to be the case, but you need it as a premise.)

    And of course "virtually every lawyer I know appears to be making at the least a decent living" involves an unrepresentative sample. Illustration: "Virtually everyone I know opposes the proposal to taxes on the rich; therefore, public opinion is probably against that proposal"—and it turns out that virtually everyone I know is rich.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. that's right, I think you law-types do call it that (affirming the consequent).

      Logicians/Computer Scientists/Math geeks have a different word for it though: existential generalization. Same thing though (I think).

      existential generalization because you're making a general statement about ALL x's just based off of observing one single x.
      (∃x)(p) →(∀x)(p)

      Delete
    2. Oh, most law types don't even know why it's wrong; still less do they have a name for it.

      Delete
    3. It is necessary to be a law school graduate in order to be a successful lawyer.
      However being a law school graduate is not sufficient to being a successful lawyer.

      Delete
    4. Ok, but you get the general point that nobody should be looking at the red circle on the diagram and thinking that it's the only place they need to perform their research.

      Delete
    5. Sorry, word missing above: "…the proposal to raise taxes on the rich". When I taught courses on the LSAT, I illustrated the problem of an unrepresentative sample by pointing out that a survey on raising taxes could not be expected to reflect public opinion if it were conducted at a yacht club.

      Delete
  7. I think this question is pretty easy to answer in less than five sentences. Those individuals asking are observing the lawyers that are actually working as lawyers. Given that there are so many who are not (45% of all new graduates, according to NALP) I simply clarify that in order to have a true accounting, it is necessary to interview the lawyers working in retail or as office assistants to have a truer picture. Of course, they are harder to find, although because I happen to know so many individuals who fall into that category, I always offer any asker if they would like to contact some of my fellow graduates to get a truer picture of life after law school. My fellow graduates are always happy to comply.

    On an unrelated note, I hope we see more work from dbyyuk soon. I am sorry he has been temporarily diverted but hope he won't let such a temporary diversion stop him from his important work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Get in touch with me if you want to speak with someone who did everything right in law school but still cannot get work, or even a fucking interview, in the legal "profession". I'm scrambling to find one of those jobs in retail or in an office, so far without success.

      Delete
    2. But there's this lawyer on TV who has his own plane....

      Delete
    3. It's like me asking astronauts what it's like to be an astronaut, but not asking the hundreds of thousands of failed astronauts what it's like to be the guy who teaches math in high school.

      Missing dybbuk too...

      Delete
    4. My 5th grade teacher hated me.

      She always used to tell me, "Well, little Timmy, the sky's the limit".

      This was after she asked what I wanted to be when I grew up and I'd expressed my desire to become an astronaut....

      Delete
  8. The quoted survivor bias article is great-- read this in particular:

    "Simply put, survivorship bias is your tendency to focus on survivors instead of whatever you would call a non-survivor depending on the situation. Sometimes that means you tend to focus on the living instead of the dead, or on winners instead of losers, or on successes instead of failures. ... It is easy to do. After any process that leaves behind survivors, the non-survivors are often destroyed or muted or removed from your view. If failures becomes invisible, then naturally you will pay more attention to successes. Not only do you fail to recognize that what is missing might have held important information, you fail to recognize that there is missing information at all."

    Bingo. This is even more critical since for years, the Law Schools only released the employment statistics of those students who SELF REPORTED their employment. This is the equivalent of the Allied Bombers who returned from their missions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They also mask those not employed in law by putting them into categories such as "business and industry". A typical reader will assume that that refers to executive vice-presidents, not to people pouring coffee at Starfuck's or gathering shopping carts at Wal-Fart.

      Delete
  9. How many JDs who are not working as lawyers advertise they have a law degree? How many unsuccessful attorneys admit they are not successful? I do not know the answers to these questions, but I can make generalize based on general human behavior. . . .Regardless, the term "successful" is not even easily quantifiable - a "good" attorney can provide a justification that he/she is successful even if he/she is broke.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I mentioned recently, I have stripped my law degree off my résumé. It's a big obstacle to finding work as a typist or a truck driver.

      Delete
    2. I would suggest anybody who would be satisfied with the job of typist or truck driver never should have gone to college anyway, let alone law school.

      Delete
    3. It's not a question of being satisfied with those jobs; it's a question of having to pay the bills somehow. If you had thought for a couple of seconds before writing those words, you might well have noticed that.

      Delete
    4. I typically do not ever advertise the fact I went to law school. As far as I'm concerned, it's more of a hindrance than a benefit - significantly so - and the dislike/distrust that people have for lawyers is just immense. Unless you're a successful lawyer, the JD is almost certainly going to be a problem at some point.

      Delete
  10. You may also wish to begin a discussion of the definition of "successful". You can make enough as a small town solo to pay for your house, send your kids to school, retire comfortably, and leave a little wealth to your descendants. But that is a forty year process and you have to show up and do the work. It's not easy, but it's not bad. If one has realistic expectations, the picture isn't as bleak as it's often portrayed. But it is true that the corner office, the club, and world travel are enjoyed by a very small percentage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. O if only I could make it as a small-town solo! Which small town has enough paying work available to sustain a new lawyer?

      Delete
    2. Sure, success is not measured solely in a corner office and a large income. I consider myself successful (well, kinda) on a fairly low salary in a fairly average city and I'm fairly happy right now, far more so than when I was a lawyer with the fancier lifestyle.

      The problem arises when the cost of an average law degree seems linked to the potential income of the most successful graduates. Right now, the only grads who can seriously consider paying off the cost of their JDs are those who end up in Biglaw. For everyone else, a full-price JD is a thirty-year financial problem, and there is no way someone earning a small-firm income can comfortably pay for a Biglaw-priced JD.

      If the JD was far cheaper (like it was before all these ridiculous and gratuitous price hikes, none of which are at all justifiable), then perhaps there would be more opportunities for success at the small firm level. But that also requires clients, a rapidly-dwindling resource.

      Whereas in the past, a forty-year career was possible, these days there's few forty-year careers in law, even for those who want to put in the work. At the small-firm and solo level, there's just not enough work to go around. What worked in 1970 and 1980 does not work today, yet law schools are still pretending that it does.

      Delete
  11. Law schools are entirely capable of discarding the adverse surveys, and of fabricating favourable ones. I don't trust the data that law schools put out. Hell, some of them have even falsified the LSAT scores of their incoming classes.

    ReplyDelete
  12. All the rock guitarists I've ever heard of are millionaires.

    Therefore, all rock guitarists are millionaires.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The red circle in the Venn diagram representing successful lawyers should be smaller.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ^ Ooooohh-wee! More sweet, sweet Paintroach booty scribblings! AWESOME!

      In all seriousness, the roach HAS been banned from this site. He keeps getting garbage like the above past the moderators somehow. PROTIP: if you don't let junk comments like the above in, it really won't MATTER if the roach was the one who posted them.

      Delete
  15. "How come virtually every lawyer I know appears to be making at the least a decent living? I also know many who are self-employed and year after year knock it out of the ball park.”

    I wonder whether this statement is actually uttered by someone who really KNOWS any lawyers personally. Versus simply knowing OF lawyers. Most non-lawyers merely know OF lawyers or know them by reputation, and these are almost by definition the ones who are notorious and have amassed possessions or money.

    Kind of like the fact I've never been overseas, never been to England and don't really know anyone who lives there or who's recently from there. But I know something about Prince William, Kate and the royal baby through the press.

    I and most lawyers know hundreds of actual lawyers, and I'd heartily recommend that any prospective law student go interview them. Really interview them and investigate. Especially the ones who are about 5-7 years out.

    Their advice about employment outcomes would be invaluable and glimpses into their lives would be an eye opener. The prospective law student would soon recognize that this Blog comes nowhere near to telling the full painful story of life beyond law school.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ...and if the prospective law students want to look far into their prospective future, I recommend that they go interview some of the scores of lawyers I know who are 15-25 years out.....they will find a whole bunch who were once relatively successful who aren't anymore, and most of the others who are still doing OK will tell them what a terrible struggle it has been.

      Delete
    2. I'm in my mid-forties, and I did not know a lawyer before I went to law school. I met one when I was around thirty, but I can't say that I know her.

      But most of the students at my law school, though roughly half my age, did know a lot of lawyers—typically because Mommy was a lawyer, and Daddy was a lawyer, and Grandpa was a lawyer, and of course most these people's colleagues were lawyers, and many of the people at the yacht club were lawyers as well. Like most other supposedly élite law schools, mine was overwhelmingly patrician.

      Even so, it is obviously unreasonable to extrapolate from the lawyers at Daddy's yacht club to the entire population of lawyers. The yacht club is very unlikely to count among its members a recent graduate from John Marshall "Law School" who is working half time dispensing coffee at Starfuck's.

      Delete
  16. People who fail do not seem to write memoirs . . . Readers would not pay $26.95 for a story of failure, even if you convinced them it had more useful tricks than a story of success. The entire notion of biography is grounded in the arbitrary ascription of a causal relation between specified traits and subsequent events. Now consider the cemetery. The graveyard of failed persons will be full of people who shared the following traits: courage, risk taking, optimism, etc. Just like the population of millionaires.

    Nassim Taleb, The Black Swan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Read Gladwell's book Outliers. Although it's a bit over the top in places, it does effectively give the lie to the Horatio Alger myth. Exceptionally successful people invariably started out with a special advantage that was critical to their success.

      Delete
    2. And in point of fact all of Horatio Alger's heroes got where they got by a chance incident in which they impressed a wealthy man who patronized them.

      Would Bill Gates have dropped out of Harvard if his father hadn't been a millionaire?

      Delete
    3. Gladwell interviewed Gates for Outliers. Gates admitted to have grown up in very privileged circumstances. He also had unlimited access to computers through his expensive private school—an exceedingly rare opportunity in the late 1960s (he even admitted that only a few young people in the world back then had computers at their disposal).

      Delete
  17. And dont forget the fact that virtually all small practitioners lie when they tell you they are doing well.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I used to be really angry at the existing bar, "greedy boomer pig bastards," and the like; but now I'm seeing extreme financial hardship creeping up into the established law firms. Lawyers in their 60's, turning up in goodwill polyester and smelling lightly of cheap whiskey. Substance abuse-related ethics complaints are going up. Thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll go partially with JeffM on this one - no one ever "had it easy." Everybody who isn't independently wealthy has to work, even if they started with some advantages. There is no avoiding that aspect.

      That said, some lawyers who were born in a more advantageous time had an additional backstop, in that tuition was paid off relatively sooner, or loans took up less budget on a relative percentage basis, or there was somewhat less competition at the time, or some combination of factors. Note that that does not mean lawyers weren't hustiling - it just means there was the potential for more flexibilty, or at least time was on their side. I won't say it was universally true, but I would argue it was there for some.

      Things have been so bad for so long now, that the pain is creeping its way up the ladder and it is eating away at the "reserve fund", be it actual money, business contacts and goodwill, social capital, or whatever. What at first was dismissed as the ravings of Gen-X/Millinieal "shiftless, loser, entitled whiners" has shown, over time, that there was some truth to the complaints and warnings.

      IMO.

      Delete
    2. Those lawyers in their sixties had a housing market the likes of which Generation X will never see. They'll retire (right now if they wish) on inflated pensions that Generation X will have to pay—though Generation X will never draw those pensions. They paid twopence ha'penny in tuition. If they borrowed money for university, they paid less interest than they got on their goddamn checking accounts. They went into law school at a time when few people even attended university, and when even a high-school dropout could get a good job at a factory. They got the teaching positions with the inflated salaries. They got the jobs in government. They're still hoarding the jobs—either for themselves or for their Millennial children. They could never be arsed to save a plugged nickel. They ate our seed corn. And they have the unmitigated gall to call us shiftless losers and entitled whiners.

      Don't expect me to cry a river for the baby boomers. I hate their entire generation.

      Delete
    3. It's sad that mental illness caused irrational hatred of an entire generation.

      Delete
    4. "They'll retire (right now if they wish) on inflated pensions that Generation X will have to pay"

      Lawyers have pensions?

      That Gen-Xers will pay?

      Are you referring to SS or something else?

      Delete
    5. where I work (state govt) - we have five people between 65 and 72 who refuse to retire. Some of them collect pensions and continue to work on a contract. We all want them to go away and clear room for some new blood. Will probably have to wait until death.

      Delete
    6. Social-security schemes are only one example. But, yes, it's plain that the people of the Baby Boom and the Silent Generation who are drawing those pensions today are getting more than they deserve. And, yes, they're being paid from taxes that come out of our paychecks—when we have a paycheck, that is (I haven't had one for some time).

      Delete
    7. 8:00, solos and small firm lawyers fall into three groups:

      1. A very small number of people like me who were able to vest pensions through part-time government positions.

      2. People who have a spouse who has a pension.

      3. People who will work until they drop dead.

      Who are these people with pensions of whom you speak? You ain't gonna retire on social security alone.

      Delete
    8. Whoever is talking about Baby Boomers having inflated pensions should think twice.

      Public sector employees have real pensions. In fact in New York State, once a public employee starts work, he or she is guaranteed the same level of pensions for life as long as he or she works for the state or local government. The State can increase employee contributions, but the pension stays the same. Since NY State and municipal employees participate in Social Security (not all states or municipalities do), pensions for longer service public employees can exceed 100% of salary when added to Social Security.

      In fact the City of New York spends as much on benefits for their employees as it does on salaries and salaries are not low, even for New York. The total compensation, cash and non-cash, for an experienced public school janitor is almost 50% more than that for the average employed lawyer. The benefits are either tax free like health care for life or are tax deferred like pensions. The amendment of the NY State Constitution to allow future pension changes -for people already hired by the state -requires a popular vote and of course municipal unions are very powerful in negotiating these compensation packages

      Move to the private sector, and baby boomers are hurting. Most defined benefit pension plans are long frozen or terminated. Defined contribution plans such as 401(k) plans do not provide adequate retirement savings. Most private sector employees do not have enough savings or pension benefits to afford to retire.

      Social Security is another issue. While I have not seen the math, I think generations older than the baby boomers may have gotten out much more than they and their employers put in. Social Security is being cut back for the baby boomers. Then there is the growing welfare scam of Social Security disability.

      So except for public sector employees represented by powerful unions, you are dead wrong about baby boomers having good or even close to adequate pensions. Many private sector employees will retire close to the poverty line.

      Delete
    9. I've already said that I'm including social-security schemes under the heading of pensions. It is well known that the current beneficiaries are sucking the funds dry and that hardly anything will be left when I (mid-forties) become eligible to collect.

      Delete
    10. Yes, the older generations made out like bandits on Social Security in the US. But the baby boomers are also getting more than they put in. My generation, Generation X, will be the first to get fucked on Social Security.

      Delete
    11. I can't find the link (if it exists), but I remember a "60 minutes" episode back in the late 80's or so that had to do with Social Security.

      Long story short is that they interviewed a senior adult at the time who had been on SS for several years, and she was (understandably, at first) complaining about changes in benefits and what not. "I paid in my whole life," she kept saying.

      The interviewer then said something along the lines of "but, don't you realize that you have received everything back that you paid in, and more? That now, you've been making a profit for years?"

      She paused for a long time, and you could just see the relay switches in her head going click-click-click. She finally said "But I deserve it!"

      I don't begrudge anybody their social security. But to ignore the brokenness of the system is akin to ignoring and defending the law school scam. The math just doesn't work, and it's time for a reform.

      Delete
    12. Oh, sure, she "deserves" any arbitrarily high amount. She "deserves' to get more than she contributed.

      By implication, the people who will get less than they shall have paid in, so that she and others similarly placed can get more, also "deserve" their lot.

      Delete
    13. It just so juvenile to blame the "boomers". Heck, at least you all did not get drafted into world war 2, Korea or Vietnam. And you all grew up during the digital age . . which makes life in many respects much easier than it was before because there is so much knowledge out there . . . all you have to do is look.

      Delete
    14. 7:25 AM and 12:17 PM - people have forgotten that SS was not supposed to be an entitlement program. Under the current scheme (and until there are drastic changes in SS benefit payment amounts), very few of us would get less out than we paid in.

      I've pointed this out in several fora and the answer is always the same - as you mentioned, people always seem to waaaaay over-value the amount they have contributed and seem to think they're just "getting back" what they paid in. It's just what they "deserve" (except in fact, they'll let you know that they "deserve" even more).

      If you point out that this is not correct, that they are paying far less then they will get back out, and also point out that they are paying in about 1/3 of the person who hits the annual maximum (who by no means will get paid back out at a 3X rate), their answer is "By Golly! It's NOT FAIR that there should be an annual maximum. That guy should pay even more!".

      Oh, my people.

      Delete
    15. Few baby boomers are collecting Social Security yet. The baby boomers were born from 1946 to 1964. Full Social Security retirement age is 66, meaning the oldest baby boomers qualified in 2012 for the first time. The system may have been bled dry but it was by an earlier generation than baby boomers

      The legal profession was better many years ago when there was less lawyer oversupply. Not true for other workers like US factory workers or persons working in consolidating industries like banking.

      Delete
    16. Generation Xers actually could have made a lot of money in the housing market. In California, property prices have gone up by 50% in just a few years. Moreover, many boomers earned very little money and do not have the economic means to retire. Congress has declared mandatory retirement unlawful in most situations, whether you like it or not. Obviously people who have not had secure jobs for a while may just want to continue working rather than trying to live on a very limited income.

      What is really different today is the lack of value of a law degree - even a top law school law degree. Not a ticket to any type of job for many graduates of all ages - even if you went to Harvard, Yale, Columbia or Michigan Law School. It is a new world for those with law degrees, and not a very good world.

      Delete
    17. The baby boomers were not drafted during World War II (they weren't yet born) or the Korean War (they were still children).

      A lot of people fundamentally misunderstand how Social Security works: they think that their contributions go into a little account with their name on it and are simply paid back, with interest. The truth is that contributions taken out of a paycheck today go straight into the pockets of people who are currently collecting Social Security. The Silent Generation made out like fucking bandits. The Baby Boom, too, will suck up far more than it deserves. Generation X, only a third the size of the Baby Boom, lacks the political power to stem this monstrous rip-off.

      This particular member of Generation X has never owned a square barleycorn of land anywhere. My finances have been far too unstable to permit me to buy a house. Currently I'm employed, and apparently all but unemployable.

      A lot of baby boomers who lack the means to retire have only themselves to blame. Theirs has always been a profligate generation, spending everything that it ever had and then some. Have you seen the public debt lately?

      Delete
    18. (Error above: "employed" should be "unemployed".)

      Delete
    19. Here is a study by some people at the Urban Institute concluding everyone in it gets out more than they put into Social Security.

      http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/social-security-medicare-benefits-over-lifetime.pdf

      This study is flawed because it does not use reasonable actuarial assumptions. For one thing, the interest rate of 2% greatly skews the value of contributions downward. Most pension plans use 7% or thereabouts because that is what they earn historically over time. The mortality table used is not disclosed. Obviously assumptions about when people die need to be realistic.

      I think we need a much more accurate survey than this one - which is hogwash because of ridiculous actuarial assumptions. Every defined benefit plan in the world would be paying out much more than it takes in using a 2% interest rate.

      Delete
  19. Reading this blog, I suppose there is exaggeration at both ends of the spectrum. Things were never as good as the law schools would have prospective lawyers believe but certainly no where as bad as these scam blogs would have people believe. Considering the number of crimes in the country, the number of divorces, the number of people in need of estate planning, the number of complex matters that only a trained lawyer can handle, . . . and on and on and on, it is hard for me to believe a truly intelligent and motivated person with a law degree could not make a decent living somewhere as a lawyer. Maybe things will be tough in the beginning . . . but knowledge is power and the nice thing about being a lawyer and knowing how the system works is that you can use that system to your advantage.
    The only way you can rise from being a serf in our society is knowing how to play the system, and the best way to know how to play they system is with the knowledge that comes from understanding the legal system . . . because it is in the end that system that controls all. The knowledge and ability of how a person can assert their rights should not be discounted as much as it is on these blogs.

    Whether that education is worth $250,000,000 in debt is another issue, but conveniently many of the blog posters ignore various IBR type programs. How bad can the debt be if you can limit how much you have to pay back and then eventually it is written off? You going to worry about possible tax consequences in the future? There may be none or they can be dealt with in their own manner.

    So I see a lot of dishonesty here and if we are going to play these logic games . . . this is the way the scam blogs work: I never made it as a lawyer. . I know other lawyers who never made it . . . therefore very few lawyers make it and almost all of those that do are eventually unemployed in middle age. And how do we know this? Well . . . because Charles Cooper tells us so. Just write a book, spout off some statistics enough times and all of a sudden your anecdotal reality becomes everybody's reality.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What you are ignoring is that there are too many lawyers for the available work. When I graduated in 1985 the law schools were cranking out 35,000 new lawyers a year. Now it's like 44,000 but legal services as a percentage of the economy are declining. Think of it as a big game of musical chairs. Will some people win? Of course. But every time the music stops someone will lose because there are not enough chairs.

      It is guaranteed that half of law graduates will never make it as lawyers, so your saying just get out there and hustle and use IBR is a false premise. In any given area there will be only so many crimes and so many divorces so many people who need more than a simple will and so many complex situations. And there will be only so many divorces and criminal cases where the party involved can afford to hire a lawyer. I am helping out a guy from my fish & game club whose wife accused him of spousal rape to leverage a divorce. 20 year maximum sentence. He makes $42K so he can't get a public defender and the going rate is $20,000, all up front. Without me he'd be screwed and no lawyer would make a stinking dime. He represents the majority, and my friend who is a public defender says they have people who have been doing per diem work for them for a decade in the hopes of maybe getting a real job someday. In my state over half of of divorces now involve at least one self-represented party.

      Imagine a bridal boutique in a small city in a rural state. There are going to be only so many women in the area it serves who get married in any given year. Are you going to go out and encourage more people to get married? Appeal to the 1% of men who might want to dress up like a bride? You might persuade a few women to not wear their mother's dress or travel to a bigger city for better selection but in the end there is only so much business available. What happens when someone else opens another bridal shop in that city? That's where the legal profession is at, except that there are no schools for bridal boutique owners promising guaranteed success for a paltry investment of $150,000.

      Delete
    2. You're a Good Egg, Charlie Brown. One good and sensible Boomer among the slime. It's survivorship bias. Your analysis is dead-on. When the music stops, someone loses. And with the constant competition guild, there's a new game of Musical Chairs going all the time.

      Delete
    3. Nobody can promise success in any field. All a law school can realistically do is promise an opportunity to be a successful lawyer.. That is not a false promise. Of course many will fall by the wayside. That's life.

      Delete
    4. This. No matter how you spin it, there are far more JDs than paying legal work. Any amount of "hustle" or "networking" by one attorney is just taking work that another attorney would have done.

      When there are 10 kids playing musical chairs but only 5 chairs, half of the kids lose no matter how hard they try.

      Delete
    5. So, at which LS do you teach, Teach?January 23, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      7:05 a.m. is very reminiscent of some comments by Lisa Lerman on PrawfsBlawg and on popular press articles.

      Very briefly: (1) all those little people with their little legal problems and needs also have very (VERY) little money (if any) to pay (as already suggested by 9:28 a.m., which came in while I was making this comment), and (2) to say that IBR ends up in debt "written off" is pretty misleading.

      Your hypothetical person with $250K in debt and paying the minimums under hardship will have amassed, what, about $400K total at the end of the IBR period? If so, that person will owe about $130K in income tax in the year the debt is "written off".

      So, speaking of "dishonesty here", is it dishonest to argue that IBR "limits how much you have to pay" and results in your debt being "written off", but then try to shrug off the tax owed by characterizing it as:

      - a "possible" consequence? (On what basis do you characterize it as "possible"? It is very real - it is the LAW, get it? And no changes on the horizon.); and

      - by arguing from whole cloth that the tax consequences "may be none" (what rational basis, this asertion?); and

      - by saying "or they [the tax consequences] can be dealt with in their own manner" (what "manner", exactly, do you advise here? The poor slob on IBR making $38K a year suddenly owes the IRS an additional $130K in taxes, and you advise him/her to "deal with it" in some nebulous "manner"? Well, cough up some examples please. Abscond to Siberia, possibly?)

      Delete
    6. Many scam bloggers made it as lawyers but they see their lifetime of work and investment constantly and continually being devalued through the senseless hyper production of more and more lawyers. It's not simply a case of being a tournament that only a few can win, but rather it's a case of having so many participants that the economic proposition of practicing for remuneration breaks down. You place 58 people into and on a small private passenger airplane and no one's going anywhere. The plane ain't getting off the ground. Even those with seats.

      The academy defends itself by saying that the skills are valuable and character enhancing. Well maybe. But they have charged for the training based on the enticement of employment. High paying employment.

      Law school has undermined the legal profession through irresponsible overproduction. It's time for it to take a break. For the next 15 years.

      Delete
    7. 7:05AM, the fact that there are twice as many law grads as there are law jobs isn't something we made up. Even law schools themselves are starting to show stats that demonstrate that there just aren't enough jobs to go around. Not even close. That's not our reality. That's everyone's reality. And if it makes you feel better to believe that you're some kind of exception, or that we're just wrong, then go ahead and hand that tuition money over to the law school of your choice. The best we can do is warn those smart enough to listen. But as law schools like Indiana Tech are demonstrating, there's still more than enough people out there who still struggle with basic math.

      Delete
    8. To add to the bridal boutique analogy, the boutique owner could start selling prom dresses or renting tuxedos. Lawyers don't have that option because ethical rules prohibit mixing other businesses with your law practice.

      Delete
    9. "Nobody can promise success in any field. All a law school can realistically do is promise an opportunity to be a successful lawyer.. That is not a false promise. Of course many will fall by the wayside. That's life."

      It is a false promise if the extent of the opportunity to be a successfully lawyer is grossly inflated and wildly misleading. That's FRAUD. In any other business, like say car sales, there's no way they would get away with all the misleading claims made about their product as is done by law schools.

      Delete
    10. But the Courts are right. In the digital information age, it is folly to think that most law school applicants are not fully aware of the abysmal state of the job market. If you are a law applicant and have not bothered to do research on the job situation . . you have primarily yourself to blame and do not deserve to be a lawyer anyway. Same with Car Sales . . with consumer reports online and all of the other information available . . you should know what you are buying and paying if you are at all intelligent and a rational consumer . . the kind of person presumably who goes to law school.

      Delete
    11. Relying on IBR in making a decision to go to law school is folly. You need to rent an apartment for which you need credit. You need credit to get an account with the electric or gas company and to get cable so you can have internet service. You even need credit to get a cell phone plan, forgetting about buying a home.

      What type of credit will you have if you have to rely on IBR. For 20 or 30 years your debt to income ratio will be much too high. You won't be able to get credit. Try living without credit.

      Delete
    12. Buying a car is not a super-risky proposition. Law school is. No comparison here.

      Delete
    13. I agree with 1:25 that people today who are going to law school without having done any research on their prospects of employment have primarily themselves to blame. I cannot shed crocodile tears for the many people complaining to have been hoodwinked by Touro or Nova Southeastern or New England | Boston (whatever that damned place with the vertical bar is called). Whatever half-truths or untruths these law skules may be disseminating, even looking at that dumb 0L Web site "Top Law Schools" (where, despite its "Top" pretensions, the discussion is generally along the lines of "Should I take Cooley over Indiana Tech?") would give one to know that the chances of getting a job that would cover both the rent and the payments on a degree from one of those toilets are frightfully low. Before signing up for six figures of non-dischargeable debt, they damn well should have done some research.

      I was well aware of all that. I fucked up too, but not in that dumb way: I fucked up by not knowing that the doors of the legal "profession" were closed to middle-aged students. Sometimes I lie awake at night wondering to what extent I am to blame for not finding that out sooner.

      Delete
  20. What is extremely disheartening though is the complete disconnect between the academy and the soon-to-be bar. The students who do well and find summer jobs receive the attention from the professors and the ones who are in the middle third and do not find summer employment, well, they probably shouldn't be in law school anyway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What about those of us who do well but still do not find summer employment?

      Delete
    2. Somehow it will be your fault. It will be said that "s/he doesn't interview well" or "s/he didn't take the right courses for their purported career path" or "s/he didn't go the right law school." It will never be said that the academy has admitted too many students for entirely selfish reasons and that only 25% of the law graduates will find jobs that exceed the monetary and opportunity cost of law school.


      If you do well at a TTT your career prospects are probably only marginally better than if you had done poorly.

      Delete
    3. Doesn't interview well? I've had only a handful of interviews.

      Didn't take the right courses? Well, I certainly wasn't screwing around with Neo-Rawlsian Theories of International Environmental Sports Law and shit like that.

      Didn't go to the right law school? Only in the sense that the right law school is no law school at all. I went to one of the highly regarded ones, not a TTT. And excelled, too.

      But, yes, of course it's my fault. I should have known better than to go to law school in the first place. People like me just are not wanted.

      Delete
  21. What the worst is the "I'm successful. I did X. Therefore, I'm successful because I did X, and the people who are unsuccessful did not do X, and if you do X you will become successful." That's how hucksters make millions.

    ReplyDelete
  22. How low is it going to be? 35K.
    With that salary, you cannot fool too many people. You cannot even pay yr 100k LS debt.
    It is a blood bath.

    In-House Real Estate Attorney (Morris County)
    Busy New Jersey Real Estate Development and Management company has an immediate opening for a full-time in-house attorney.
    Craigslist. Jan 22,14
    Responsibilities will include the following:
    (1) Contract Drafting;
    (2) Real Estate Closings;
    (3) Drafting Letters of Intent;
    (4) Landlord-Tenant Litigation;
    (5) Tax Appeals;
    (6) Represent Company at Municipal Planning Board Meetings;
    (7) Assist with Development Application Process; and
    (8) Assist Outside Counsel

    Must be admitted to the NJ Bar. Applicants with 1-3 years experience is helpful, but not required. Company is willing to train an attorney that was recently admitted to the NJ Bar. The successful applicant will be hardworking and organized. Must have good writing skills. Salary is entry-level, $35,000/year with a performance bonus following completion of 90 days of service. Interested applicants should email their resume.

    • Location: Morris County
    • Compensation: $35,000/yr, w/ performance bonus following completion of 90 days
    post id: 4299581223

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A lawyer in Connecticut was even looking for someone who would pay him for the opportunity to work in his office.

      Delete
    2. Real estate is a useful area, and at least the person who gets that job gets to learn. There is surely the possibility of advancement in the legal profession once you learn. That being said, real estate law is oversaturated like every other legal specialty. It is not worth going to school for three years at great expense and difficulty to land in a profession where it is very hard to stay employed, let alone fully employed.

      Delete
    3. Try this:

      http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/lgl/4296138832.html

      LAW FIRM SEEKS MOTIVATED ATTORNEYS - MUST BE ADMITTED IN NY OR NJ (Midtown)

      450 Seventh Avenue

      Our firm is seeking motivated attorneys admitted to practice in New York. Experience representing clients in employment, matrimonial or FINRA arbitration is preferred, but not required. Preference will be given to attorneys also admitted in New Jersey.

      Our firm compensates our attorneys with an annual base salary ($20,800) and a percentage (20%) of the legal fees derived from the cases assigned to the attorneys. The bonus compensation is paid whenever earned. Bonus compensation can be paid daily. Our attorneys do not wait for a year-end bonus that is not correlated to performance.

      Attorneys are also compensated forty percent (40%) of the net legal fees for all cases they personally retain. There is no limit to the amount of compensation our attorneys earn each year.

      Interested attorneys should reply to this ad and attach a resume and cover letter.

      ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      In midtown. $20k.

      Models and Bottles, anyone?

      Delete
    4. Not a bad job. You get an office and some guaranteed income and the opportunity to benefit from bringing in your own clients . . actually starting your own practice. Bring in a Nice Personal Injury claim and you can be debt free in no time under this arrangement. I'm not saying that this is a great job with a base of only 20.1 K, but it does allow room for the potential of a big hit, to learn to practice law and to start your own practice.

      Delete
  23. Campos is quite the politician. He bites the hand that feeds him, and comes out of hiding when things seem to be trending his way.

    Always hedging his bets.

    I think Cooper is very similar.

    But I forgot. This blog edits out criticism.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Impressive. Literally every single sentence is false.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

      Delete
    3. I can guaranty that this blog does not edit out comments that are critical. Editing comments is a technique employed by many professor law blogs that have an interest in silencing their critics.

      Follow the money.

      Delete
    4. We do not edit commentary based on substance. I have edited garbage (generally, I kill anything that talks about Painter), but I welcome critical, thoughtful commentary. Orin Kerr, for example, has responded to posts with mostly constructive criticism and commentary. I wish we had *more* people like him, even though I and others disagree with him on multiple points.

      Delete
  24. That is "Status Monkey" I have already explained who the Status Monkey troll is on TTR,

    He has haunted the Debbie Schlussel blog for a long time and he is a lawyer.



    ReplyDelete
  25. I've really been enjoying the robust and vigorous discussion in this thread. As I post this, there are already 75 comments. That's just more evidence of the tremendous success and influence of this blog. If you consistently address a disgusting scandal that causes intractable poverty and misery for so many naïve young people, the public will listen and support you.

    Meanwhile, Professor Leiter's sycophantic sniveling over at Huffington Post earned a grand total of four comments.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Some of you will simply never get it. In the end . . the most successful lawyers were never really the best students from the best law schools, they are instead often the b or c grade students, but these guys have a presence that portrays sincerity and integrity. They will draw clients and jurors like bees to honey. A highly successful lawyer can as easily come out of a TTT as the top six law schools. The only difference is, that this lawyer does it without selling his soul to big law.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a steaming crock of shit-tastic shititude..

      Another "Hypothetical Person" argument from, likely, some idealistic Boomer or law prof posting anonymously.

      Salespeople who happen to be lawyers have a better chance than most. The hypothetical person described here matches a very, very, very small percentage of existing lawyers, law students, and potential law students.

      Sure. Take the risk of $125k of non-dischargeable debt to find out that you're not one of those who match and that running a solo shop takes big money and effort.

      Now that it's you, the disaster of law school is no longer hypothetical. It's real and tangible.

      It's all about the odds. The above as described is the equivalent long-shot of a homeless person hitting the lottery for $1 million a year for life. Don't bank on it.

      Delete
    2. Is it just me, or are the "you guys are wrong!" posts getting more absurd by the day on this site?

      Delete
    3. The only thing "absurd" are the inane pro-law posts concerning increasingly hypothetical people who get B's and C's in law skool and yet are able to magically strike out on their own and generate enough bidness to repay their horrendously huge student loans AND enjoy a middle-class lifestyle over the course of a prolonged career.

      That kind of Horatio Alger thinking is very popular in the minds of Lemmings, Law Professors, and Boomers.

      Delete
    4. "They will draw clients and jurors like bees to honey."

      Didn't you hear? Pesticides have killed most of the bees.

      Delete
    5. By your logic, we should all become Amway salesmen. When I talk to highly successful Amway distributors, they say the same fucking thing: The 99% of people doing Amway are lazy or lack that mystical "x" quality. The 1% have it. Thus, the 99% deserve their fate.

      Since there is less pain for failing in Amway, and a much higher upside (if you are the tipy top of the pyramid you make 7-8 figures for doing literally no work, in fact, that's there selling point: the top makes bank for no work).

      Even if you are the hyper competitive type that believes the top should get everything and everyone else should get shit, such a person, I think would rather take the 1% chance of a success path that requires no higher ed, minimal capital investment and risk (with bankruptcy as an option) and has a 7-8 figure ending working 15 hours a week, rather than take a path that is 99% guaranteed to either totally ruin you or put you in the same place (or worse) as someone with a GED working for a municipality, with a 1% chance of making high 6 figures working 100 hours a week under extreme stress.

      Delete
    6. I read a few fair anti-Amway sites a while back. Your reference to Amway remind me of a similarity between Amway true believers and law school lemmings. Their constant use of the word "dream". Being successful in Amway was their "dream". People trying to dissuade suckers from Amway were "dream killers". And the law school lemmings go on and on about how law is their "dream career", and the "law school dream" and how law has been their "dream" for years.

      Personally I think anyone who believes in the idea of a dream job is asking to be taken advantage of. There's no such thing in the real world. Some jobs are better than others, but all are mostly hard work and tedium (well except maybe law school professors from what I've been reading here).

      Delete
    7. The posts about dreams, dream jobs, and Horatio Alger are all right on the money....

      Sorry. That's a really inappropriate expression to use when discussing legal practice these days. Shall I say, "These observations are right on the mark" ?!!

      Anyway, people's dreams are remarkably resistant to truth and reality... and that's probably a good thing in a young person. Garage bands, moving to LA to be in film, moving to the projects to help with voter registration. All things to do when you're young, optimistic and hopeful. A six-string don't cost 38,500.

      Law school's different. With law school we have an industry that recognizes the optimism and profits on it, and attaches to them for decades (i.e., creates great debt... no that's too mealy mouthed: It creates a shitload of debt). It says, "Give me your present (and more) and I'll give you a great future." Very pernicious.

      And Horatio Alger.... please. Read about him. Do some of the in-depth reading that law school will require you to do. Get the whole story for heaven's sake. He was an author who wrote 19th-century morality plays about young boys making good through chance connections with wealthy older gentlemen. The stories and phenomenon didn't happen to him. Keep reading, get the whole story.

      Channel your dreams and ambitions into something viable. And be sure to distinguish them from fantasies (e.g., I want to be a king) and utter fiction (e.g., Alger).

      Law school should be relegated to the fantasy pile.

      Delete
    8. @4:46 and 6:04,

      I agree. I'm just saying at this point LS doesn't make sense for practically anyone. If you have the mentality that everyone else, I.e. 99 percent, is a loser and deserves nothing, whereas you will be in the 1 percent and deserve everything, law is still a bad bet. The 1 percent guys/gals in the law don't live better than the 1 percent of Amway distributors. And you can bet your ass it's less risk to fail at Amway than in the law.

      I mean, from what I am seeing, let's say you "win" the LS game and get big law out the gates. In the long run, at least eighty percent of those people will be worse off than a big city cop or tradesmen. This is another critical difference in the legal market today: even the winners are going to lose (relatively speaking).

      Delete
  27. If you are one of those rare people with the ability to be a great salesperson, then why go to law school in the first place?

    But truth be told, most of the gullible suckers going to law school now are going because they don't want to have to sell stuff. They want security, not the insecurity that comes from having to rely on finding clients.

    Look at "law school lemmings". Law is their DREAM. It will be just like the movies or TV. Stimulating, rewarding and secure. And they will not be convinced otherwise.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Why? Because the contingency fee system can make you very rich.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So can selling Amway products; look at what double diamonds and/or double crown members make. And with Amway, bankruptcy is an option and when you make it to the top, you do not have to work anymore (I am serious).

      But like top contingency lawyers, 99 percent of Amway distributors are not going to be double diamonds. Unlike failed lawyers though, your life isn't ruined if you try at Amway and fail.

      Of course, I don't recommend Amway or Law School. I recommend municipal employment with retirement at 45.

      That's just me.

      Delete
    2. The rich plaintiff's attorneys are a rarity. For every one, there's 50 plaintiff's attorneys who aren't and never will be.

      Delete
    3. It's not simply that many plaintiffs' attorneys' "aren't rich."

      Hell; NO ONE's rich. We're long past thinking about "being rich."

      Most starting/younger plaintiffs' attorneys cannot make a living doing what they're doing. That is to say, they don't bring in more money than they spend on office rent, office expenses, case expenses (think experts), dues, CLE and insurance. I know 15-year lawyers that the past managed to get by.... but now, they're not getting by. That means they are not making a profit. Many manage to survive on their spouse's income and benefits. But you look at them and see they have their own practice.

      Sell Amway... they've at least got products people want. Including some good bathroom cleansers that you could put to good use sanitizing the toilet schools out there.

      Delete
  29. January 23, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    At 10:29 has it exactly right:

    "When there are 10 kids playing musical chairs but only 5 chairs, half of the kids lose no matter how hard they try."

    For those lemmings who cannot understand analogies, "When there are 10 law students but only 5 real positions for law school graduates, half of you are going to suffer crippling financial injuries no matter how hard you try."

    ReplyDelete
  30. The truth is that there are NO JOBS. Went to law school in 1978 and by the grace of God ended up as a fed with the Coast Guard. From the public sector side, we receive over 100 applicatons for every civilian attorney opening. On the military side, we received 180 applications for 5 openings. On Tuesday we are interviewing a Harvard student for an unpaid internship. They Navy only took 11 percent of the applicants for the JAG Corps. These are verifiable statistics. And if it's this bad on the public sector side, what is it like in the private sector. Stop telling people to work harder as if that will land you a job. There has to be a job for you to land!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also stop telling people to hang out a shingle. That's not realistic either.

      Delete
    2. If you don't bag a Dodo bird, it is your fault and you should have worked harder....

      Delete
    3. Several years ago - last I checked - the percentage for Navy Jag was a whopping 5%. It seems to have gone up since then, for whatever reasons, but as far as military and Jag, it's super-competitive, as you say. Chances are still highly remote.

      Your numbers re: military and civilian seem right on the money. Again, super-competitive.

      Thanks for posting the real truth.

      So many idiots tell people to apply for the military, apply to the Feds, apply State/Local/Muni, etc.

      Ummm...

      You know what?

      I did all that - like everyone else.

      There are only so many openings. And the public sector is suffering deep budget problems at all levels.

      Re: Hanging a shingle. Yep. Perhaps the most asinine advice.

      I know solos who make $30k per year, max. And no matter how much they try, that's all they can make. As people have said on other forums, when you have no middle class left to pay for legal services, then they go without. And you go without and maybe go broke.

      It's that bad right now, and I don't see an "Up" anywhere in sight in the near or long-term future.

      Delete
    4. Even if there were entry-level openings in military jobs, they would not be open to just any law student. Citizenship, disAbility, age, and other factors would keep many people out.

      I'm in despair. I can't think of anything else to try.

      Delete