Friday, January 31, 2014

Making the Scam Personal

Outside the Law School Scam has many readers, many devoted readers, and we’re very grateful for the rapidly-increasing page views and the fact that this site is making waves.  But I suspect that many readers, although understanding the message that a JD is a bad decision, have still applied to law school and will soon be figuring out which school to attend this coming fall.  There’s still a massive disconnect between understanding that the legal profession is a miserable place to spend a career, and the belief that those generalities only apply to everyone else.  The very fact that law schools will still be able to fill their seats this year, despite a large portion of those incoming students having read this site and the other such blogs, is proof enough.

And I suspect that the reason for the disconnect is because we’re trying to convince you that you’re average, and nobody likes to hear that.  Most of you are – you’ll end up in the middle of your law school class – yet you believe that you’re better than average, or lucky, or harder-working.  You see that the general outcome for JD grads still allows for the slight possibility of your own personal success, and you’re willing to take that chance.

How to convince you otherwise?  That’s the problem.  We’re trying to tell you that your future will be worse than you expect it to be, but we don’t have a crystal ball that can predict your own personal outcome with much certainty.  On average, we can fairly accurately predict that your chances of actually getting a job practicing law are similar to a coin toss landing on heads rather than tails.  One in two.  And we can fairly accurately predict that the average legal career, even if lucky enough to find a paying law job, will be far shorter than expected, far lower paid, and far more stressful and unpleasant.  But those generalities are often useless because they lack a quantifiable, individual aspect.  Something to personally tie you to the scam.

So let’s look at something that should highlight the unfairness of law school before you even set foot in the door.  Something that will give you a quantifiable, predictable, accurate and extremely personal measure of whether you should attend or not.  Let’s look at how much you’re paying for law school.  Or to be more precise, how much you’re paying relative to the other students at your school.

This post began with a comment I read here on this site a few days ago:

Parents paying full tuition for their kids will realize that they are subsidizing other students who get the discounts. They will be angry.

Of course, we’re talking about the reverse Robin Hood effect, neatly summarized by Professor Tamahana here.  In essence, those who are most unlikely to succeed are paying full price, while those who are most likely to succeed are having their costs subsidized by the future failures.  The future poor are paying for the future rich.

And you know which group you’re in before you even set foot in law school.  You know exactly where you stand.  It’s simple: if you’re paying full price for law school, the school wants your tuition money to pay for scholarships for the brighter students.  That’s personal.  The school is using you.  Yes, you, not some general large group of students you can dissociate yourself from somehow.  The school is targeting you.

And indirectly, the school is telling you more than how it merely wants you for your money.  It’s telling you that it doesn’t think you’ll be successful.  It’s telling you that it would prefer to pander to some smart kid who will go off into biglaw or politics and who will look back on his or her days at the school fondly when writing big donation checks in a decade.  You?  You’ll be too busy paying off your loans and complaining about life as a struggling solo practitioner to even consider giving a dime to your alma mater.

Consider the unfairness of this, all you applicants who don’t receive any scholarship money.  If you’re not getting a discount, the school is using you.  The other students are using you.  Everyone is using you.  You're the fat, rich, older guy at the party who ends up realizing - too late - that you're there only to pick up the bar tab, not because anyone thinks you're cool or interesting.  You're a dollar sign.  You’re essentially paying far more for your degree than it’s actually worth, just so someone else can pay far less for their degree.  And if that’s not bad enough, the students who receive the scholarships are more likely to succeed in law school than those who don’t: ignore the claims that law school grades are random, because they kinda aren’t.  The smart kids tend to do well in law school, just like they did in college, and the dummies tend to do less well, although they are more than capable of bringing large sums of tuition dollars to the law school.

And you know which group you fall into before you even set foot in law school.  You know before 1L begins whether you’re in the “winners” or “losers” category; this isn't some vague generalization from which you can escape.  If you’re receiving a sizeable scholarship, you’re a winner.  Your degree will cost less.  And if you’re not receiving a scholarship, you’re a loser.  Your degree will cost more.  It’s that simple.  Just some basic math, something that you can apply to your own personal situation as soon as those offers of admission start rolling in.

If you do not receive a scholarship, don’t go to that law school.  End of story.  There’s no vague predictions there, no exceptions to the general rule, no opportunities to work hard and show everyone what you’re made of.  The school has told you, in your admissions letter, whether it is going to treat you like a winner or a dupe.  Without a scholarship, you’re just a cash donkey bringing in baskets of student loan money that the school is essentially giving to students far smarter than you.  Do you see how insulting that is?  How unfair?  Do you want to be treated like an ATM that the school is dipping into, drawing out your student loan dollars which you’ll have to repay, and turning around and giving it to someone else?  Someone who is far more likely than you to end up with a well-paid job at the end of the three years?

So if you’re still struggling with that internal dialog, “I know that the average outcomes are poor, but a lot can happen in three years and I’m a really hard worker and far more than my undergraduate GPA and LSAT and I believe in myself,” then start to look at the math behind what you’re paying for law school.  Because the very fact that you didn’t get an offer of a scholarship means the school is specifically, personally treating you badly from the very start.  It wants your money, not you.  The school doesn't believe in you.

Don’t let that happen.  Don’t get ripped off.  If your school is asking you to pay full price, you should be angry that they’re using you, not grateful for the opportunity.  How much more personal could it get?

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 atcharlescooperauthor@gmail.com.

180 comments:

  1. Excellent post!

    The lack of a scholarship is a good early warning sign that YOU ARE BEING SCAMMED.

    I too can't understand the idiots who flock towards law schools each year knowing that it's a trap. They think they are special and they all find out too late that they are not. Early warning signs like this are vital in dissuading these idiots from attending law school.

    If every law school was forced to give all students scholarships they would collapse. The whole 'having the idiots pay for the educations of the smart' is such a destructive and shitty way to run things.

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  2. Bottom line: never pay full price for law school. End of story.

    But never think that a scholarship to somewhere like Indiana Tech is a sweet deal either. Some schools rob you no matter how much you pay to attend.

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  3. Special snowflakes, take heed.

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  4. Kinda wrong premise about being average.

    The way law school grades are structured themselves immediately rigs the system against 95% plus of people. An "A" in college means you have mastered the material. And the percentage of the class that may receive an "A" is not limited.

    An "A" in law school means you have mastered the material and written a better exam than most, and presented the analysis in a better way, etc. Supposedly. But that's not really the case. The grading curve is structured so that 'X" percentage of the class receive "A's", "X" receive "B's", "X" receive "C's" and so on. And that curve is arbitrarily set by the faculty and staff to produce a predictable, desired outcome.

    You could have a class full of Einstein's and you would still see "A's", "B's", and "C's" because of the forced curve.

    Average isn't the problem.

    The problem is the system itself of forced curves. Law schools themselves are graded on a "curve", if you will, by that insufferable rag "US News", reverse Robin Hood-ing, a declining economy, twice as many graduates as there are job openings. All of that combined with the high student loan debt which all but wipes out the already limited value of the degree combined with severe and ridiculous amounts of nepotism and cronyism.

    Beyond even that, the longitudinal prospects are crap. When you have HYS grads out of work, average isn't the problem. The problems run deep and are structural problems with the system itself.

    Everyone is playing musical chairs on the Titanic and looking for a higher berth.

    The main problem isn't being average, IMO. It's severe oversupply. If I had to rank any of the above, I'd put that at #1, followed at #2 by the debt.

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    1. Excellent OP, and 4:56 AM makes a great point as well. The term "average" is slippery and gets bandied about without being clearly defined, by ScamDeans, LawProfs, trolls, Legal "publications" and Scamblogs alike.

      It's not so much about being "average" (as in average intelligence), but average, statistically. Law Schools will parse grades down to the twelfth significant digit, if they have to, in order to stratify the class by rank. It's so baked-in and predestined that it becomes nonsensical after a while. If ten people earn an "A", but the curve only allows for three, then there will be three.

      Because short-term money. And because its a better long-term investment to give Charles Everson Winchester III a scholarship now, due to the Winchesters being donors for years to come. Let the unconnected people pay full freight, but be sure to advertise certain "success stories" in the glossy brochures becuase that is good press.

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    2. You describe it better than I did. Yes, forced averageness is exactly the problem. Like you say, a class full of Einsteins would still generally get grades on the curve, mostly average, with a few As and a few Cs thrown in.

      That said, there is room for the brightest to shine and get an A or two. The averageness I was referring to is the idea that everyone thinks they'll beat the curve and get those As, when in reality most will not. And it's that special snoweflakism that traps people in law school. If we can stop snowflakes entering law school by showing them they are merely average beforehand (e.g. by the fact they are paying sticker price for law school), maybe a few snowflakes will melt before they fork over their 1L tuition.

      The whole application season for law school is so smooth. It's like those curvy lines leading into slaughterhouses, designed to keep animals calm until it's too late to turn back. The best way to avoid the end result? Don't get in that line with the other animals.

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    3. 4:56 AM again.

      Look at it this way. From my ls class, 2 of the most successful people were not on law review, did not have the grades, etc. by far. It's been about 20 years and both have spent a substantial period of that time in Biglaw.

      No periods of unemployment. No periods of underemployment.

      What you have are 2 people who had Godfathers and serious connections. They were, and still are, taken care of and protected.

      So, along with my previous post, the playing field of law school is highly uneven. That's a huge misconception of Lemmings. And there is no way to get connections / backing of that sort. You either have it. Or you do not. You are in the circle or you are not. It's that simple.

      Looking back and analyzing what happened, in poker terms:

      The connected folks had 2 ways to win: (grades / connections) and *no way to lose.*

      The rest of us (Lemmings) had only 1 way to win (grades) and a 95% chance, therefore, of losing.

      In essence, a lot of bright lights were dimmed (Thank you, forced curve...) while these 2 connected folks, with inferior grades to go along with their inferior intelligence, IMO, had no chance or way of losing and won the Game.

      In essence, these connected folks Reverse Robin Hood'ed everyone else. This is a second and, IMO, far more prevalent and dangerous, nearly hidden as well, form from those with top grades, which will be less than 5-10%, getting all the scholarships and Law Review, etc.

      That's the scam of law school and practice of law, in terms of who gets and stays hired, in a nutshell.

      I wholeheartedly agree with the premise of the blog entry that Lemmings should be aware that they will not likely beat the above odds because the Game is rigged to force the above types of outcomes. And the odds are hugely against them. Not just a little, a lot.

      At this point, gambling with a 95% chance of losing and spending upwards of $125k in non-dischargeable student loan debt is insanity-squared.

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    4. 4:56 am has got it exactly right:

      "The problem is the system itself of forced curves. .... twice as many graduates as there are job openings. All of that combined with the high student loan debt which all but wipes out the already limited value of the degree combined with severe and ridiculous amounts of nepotism and cronyism.

      Beyond even that, the longitudinal prospects are crap. When you have HYS grads out of work, average isn't the problem. The problems run deep and are structural problems with the system itself.

      Everyone is playing musical chairs on the Titanic and looking for a higher berth."

      I wish there was a way an airplane could sky-write this entire message, and have it float over every law school.

      Delete
    5. Imagining The Open ToadFebruary 4, 2014 at 11:17 PM

      "And the percentage of the class [in undergrad] that may receive an "A" is not limited."

      Guessing you were not a chemical engineering UG. In my school, not more than 15% could receive an A in any engineering class I took, and not more than 20% in any other area of discipline, excepting only my "required liberal arts electives" which seemed to permit an inordinate portion of the class to get an A.

      This BS in ChE is (or at least was, then) 138 semester hours. Only 12 of those were used for the liberal arts electives. The other 126 were subject to the curve mentioned above.

      (Don't take the comment above as arguing with any of your other points, or your main point, because I'm not. It's just to point out that depending on UG discipline, the LS curving system may not have seemed dissimilar to what we'd always been used to.)

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  5. I think OP missed a small point that is even more insulting.

    URMs get schollies for the same stats as you if not worse. Finding that out my 2l year was a slap on the face. Although I don't have a grudge against urms bc they get screwed in legal market, law is still a white mans gigs. Rich white and connected.

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  6. I started law school over a decade ago. I had pretty bad grades and a not great lsat. I did really well in law school though, and I have been regarded as a excellent attorney by my peers (but I don't think I am anything special). In fact, I got much better grades in law school than I did in undergrad. I attribute this to two reasons: 1. I was very interested in the material, and 2. Blind grading (did you ever notice the pretty girls and kiss-asses got good grades in undergrad?). I didn't go to a highly ranked law school and I find in the practice of law that those who did go to highly regarded law schools are very poor litigators. I interned with the local Public Defenders Office and started practicing with them the day after I was sworn in. That was my experience but that was a decade ago, and things have changed drastically.

    Law school tuitions have skyrocketed since then. It wasn't all that great of a deal when I went, but now it is pure insanity. Since big law has collapsed and government hiring freezes are the norm, Harvard/Stanford/Yale grads are the only people being considered for public interest jobs. You have to well connected or extremely attractive to get jobs that used to be considered bottom of the barrel. Is this fair?...no. Is it reality?...yes.

    But calling people "losers" is the wrong approach because it will inspire a young person to say "I'll show those naysayers, I'll go to law school and prove them all wrong". A better approach is to say getting a law degree is the same as getting a degree in typewriter repair...its a dead profession.

    Most of my friends dropped out of college and make more money than me. If you are considering law school because you want rise out of the lower economic class, please do not. Get some bullshit job at Verizon or Budget Rent-a-Car, and enjoy your twenties (get drunk, get laid, go on road trips). Please do not chase some mythical idea of prestige that ended in the 20th century.

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    1. I meant "losers" in its more impersonal meaning - someone who has literally lost a game, not lost at life. In the math of admissions, some people win, some lost.

      In fact, one if the main problems with law school in general is that it takes people who should succeed elsewhere and it turns them into failures.

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    2. but that guy is right. we should listen to him-- a snowflake could indeed have interpreted it the way he said. They typewriter, or the buggy whip example is apt.

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    3. "In fact, one if the main problems with law school in general is that it takes people who should succeed elsewhere and it turns them into failures."

      Excellent quote.

      Financial failure because of a student loan trap of course, but being an overall "failure" can be relative, of course.

      Tony Robbins would probably be made fun of by the audience of this blog, but Robbins talks about the five or so life areas that people can improve on such as: Financial, Relationships, Physical, etc.

      So even if law school destroys your financial life, and leverages you up for decades, there are other areas of a life that are mutually exclusive.

      For instance, one can be a fat slob and a successful lawyer and be rich.

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    4. "Pretty girls and kiss-asses"

      You just can't seem to get rid of the sexism, can you? I guess it's easier than admitting a pretty girl is smarter than you are.

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    5. I made the supposed "sexist" comment. Please read: http://healthland.time.com/2013/12/10/teachers-give-better-grades-to-more-attractive-students-study/

      Personally I think both sexes suffer from these biases. Also, I have had many women colleagues, supervisors, and classmates that are/were superior to me intellectually and professionally. But that does not change the point I was making: blind grading is a potential mechanism for eliminating nepotism, cronyism, age/gender/racial/ethnic bias in exam grading. If I offended you, I apologize.

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    6. Your comment refers to pretty GIRLS. That's where the sexism (not "supposed" sexism) lies. Both in the term "girls" and the focus on one gender. If the law reform movement hopes to gain support from people other than disaffected and unattractive men it needs to clean up its language. Lots of would-be supporters are put off by this kind of thing, and it's highly common on this blog and others, including Inside the Law School Scam itself.

      A better phrasing would be to apologize for the comment, not for offending 6:50. Example: "I apologize for phrasing my point in a sexist manner."

      And obviously I don't dispute the empirical claim that attractive people receive certain benefits, nor your core point about blind grading.

      Delete
  7. "You are tearing me apart, Law Scam!" -Tommy Wiseau

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  8. I always got As in the criminal classes. I got a C in torts, civil pro, and corporations, although I liked torts and learned a lot in corporations. I never fully understood why I would get an A in one class a B in other and C in another as I used similar strategies for all exams.

    I think part of my problem was I did not study with significant detail prior exams of the professor until 2L. I guess that mistake was enough to doom me on the artificial curve -- even though I normally got all of the answers "right" on the exams.

    AdamB on a phone.

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    1. There is no way that grading 100+ subjective-type exams can be done equitably. On a different day or with a different professor, the same exam may garner an A- or B+ instead of a B (and the student have a shot at mid-level law job instead on consigned to unemployment). I did well in torts and not as well in criminal law. I wanted to see why I did well on one exam and not the other. My torts exam was unmarked (except for a few lines here and there underlining unimportant words) and on my criminal exam, the only mark was that the professor had circled the word "intent."

      Now, though, with grade inflation, 90% of the students can be in the top half of the class.

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  9. I know several top undergrads who went to top law schools and got top10% ranks, then did biglaw an did well. Some became partners then had their practice groups lopped off or were otherwise let go during the past five years. Others went in house from biglaw and excelled, but then when management changed they were let go. Almost all if these severing events were described to the remaining folks as "left to pursue other opportunities" but they were in actuality forced departures that had nothing to do with poor performance. They got severance but at the cost of keeping their mouths shut. Many were over 40 and part if their hush money was tied to waiving any age discrimation claims, but the reality is that some were replaced with less able younger cheaper lawyers recruited from the oversupply of the past decade.

    Almost none of these severed careers has been salvaged. Most have been (and many remain) unemployed for a long time (well past the severance period), and when reemployed they have lesser and less satisfying jobs that pay much less and are quite tenuous.

    Theirs are the postgrad stories no one is telling.

    But for the grace of God, mine would be theirs. After a long time looking, I amazingly found a better job than the one I had lost due to management changing.

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    1. Thank you. For any reader considering law school, there is no payoff at the end for the overwhelming majority. The emperor has no clothes. Law is really not a profession anymore. There is no job security in law anymore. None.

      I spent many years in biglaw, and thankfully now I am doing OK outside of biglaw. I write about the fate of the 10-15% who ever made it to biglaw and about the 10-15% of those 10-15% who survive 5 years or more in biglaw. These are the supposed winners in this game. I have seen multiple, many, scores of partners get pushed out through no fault of their own (a case settles, a client gets acquired, a rainmaker departs for a bigger paycheck at another firm, internal rivalries within a firm make once relatively powerful groups less powerful, firms merge and create conflicts with clients, etc.). I know many who were once partners who are now unemployed. I know many who were once partners who have had to take much lower paying jobs to remain employed. The majority of people that I know have had periods of unemployment or severe underemployment over the last 20 years.

      As to the inhouse, corporate counsel lawyers, their jobs are also unstable. Very few have stayed in one place for a decade. Every time there is a merger, an acquisition, a new general counsel or a new management team, many, most or all inhouse lawyers get pushed out and replaced.

      There is absolutely no stability in law for the overwhelming majority of lawyers.

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    2. Yes. Yes. Yes. This says it all.

      College classes should all have to rise and repeat together this post (9:10 am) first thing before class, each and every morning of the school year. Just like grade school kids used to recite the pledge.

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  10. While I agree that not having a scholarship is a bad sign, no one should assume that because they have a scholarship, they are going to knock it out of the park when it comes to grades. And make no mistake, the importance of first year grades cannot be overstated. Your entire 1L year - all the classes, reading, outlining, memorizing, studying etc ... come down to a handful of 3 hour exams. It’s very hard to predict with any accuracy how well you will do relative to the other people taking that exam. Law school is a race between you and your classmates in which you all come into the contest with similar qualifying times. Are you really willing to bet a life time’s worth of debt that you will run faster than 9 out of every 10 people standing at the starting line when the gun goes off?

    My first year grades (at a Tier 2 school) placed me in the top third of my class. Better than most, but not nearly good enough to land an OCI job after 2L. In the end, I relied upon family connections to land my first job. And I graduated in 1993, when the job market (while hardly robust) was better than today and the stakes were much lower due to manageable tuition costs.

    The game is rigged. Don’t play.

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    1. Amen. The game is rigged. Law school is truely a rigged game from start to finish. I confess to feeling a sting when I read the original post above.

      I entered law school (Chicago Toilet) in '05 with very little in the way of scholarships and had no idea I was being played for a sucker. I didn't even know until the end of 2L that the school had about 10-15 people who paid nothing at all, and many other students were on partial rides. What a fool I was. I had this antiquated notion that I was doing a business transaction, and that the $30K/year tuition was going to set me up financially for life.

      This post should be a Distant Early Warning to anyone planning on entering school in the fall.

      LEMMINGS, even if you have a full scholarship, your future success in law is largely going to be based on how well you do on a series of three hour exams this fall. There is a tremendous amount of randomness that goes into grading, and do you really want to see your ambitions tossed to the side of the road by some overpaid lazy law profe$$or who spends, maybe, 3 minutes grading your essays?

      I don't know. I get very sad sometimes when I see the stupidity and ignorance displayed on Lawschoollemmings. How can anyone with a brain ignore the scam anymore? I would love to hear from some lemmings, but I suspect a lot of them ignore this website.

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    2. Absolutely, and I'm glad you pointed this out as many will assume that because no scholarship is a sign of bad things to come, a scholarship is a stamp of impending success. As 4:56 above posted, even with a scholarship the odds of success are slim.

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  11. Excellent post.

    I sort of hit on the same issue in July of last year, except from the perspective of a student with a substantial scholarship. http://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2013/07/am-i-outside-of-scam-or-part-of-it.html

    I have one thing to add to the post, however. At colleges, they build discounts into the tuition system. At my small, private, liberal arts college I graduated from, almost everyone was on a scholarship. It was more of a psychological thing than anything, and allowed the school to claim higher "prestige," because people used to associated cost with "prestige" (rather than employment outcomes or quality of education).

    I think law schools, or at least some of them, are starting to do this in the face of declining applicants. My school has done this: students that would never have gotten accepted just 2 or 3 years ago are getting discounts that are about 25% of tuition.

    The match can work out that more people paying a little less is better than having a lot of people pay full freight. Plus, when a bunch of the scholarships are taken away the next year, the school gets even more $$$, and due to the sunk cost fallacy most people who shouldn't have even gone in the first place won't drop out.

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  12. Even beyond the issue of being "average," more problems lurk post-graduation. For example, I graduated first in my law school class and graduated with no debt. For me, it was a very fun and interesting three year period. All was good up to that point. But what happens next (law practice), well, I wouldn't wish that on anyone. In fact, I only know a few people who actually enjoy practicing law. It takes a special personality type, for sure.

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    1. Special personality type?

      Try sociopath, or in BigLaw serial killer 'manque'.

      The practice of law is essentially a zero sum game - for every winner, there has to at least one loser. And in a BigLaw environment, the more ruthless and vicious you are as an associate, the better your chances (which are still very slim).

      See John Jay Osborne's The Associates' for a description of life in BigLaw - which was written in the 1980s!! Things have not changed for the better since then.



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  13. Hey guys, I got it on pretty good authority they're starting to fire non-tenured and non-tenure track professors at Seattle University Lol School. They dropped about 100 points in the US News and Rankings and they've also lost about 100 students to transfer/dropping out.

    Things are not looking so hot.

    I'd suggest hitting up the 2L class if you can. Just sayin...

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    1. Great News!! Not that untenured faculty are getting canned, but that fewer students are getting scammed. Really, about 80% of their students will get nothing for their three years of tuition and effort.

      As far as getting canned, I wish they started with the tenured professors first. Those are the ones who've ruined the whole thing for everyone else.

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    2. For Albany Law School it's official:

      http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2014/01/financial-exigency-at-albany-law-school.html

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    3. Overeating is fun for a while, but obesity and heart disease kill, as schools now seem to be finding out.

      Shoulda gone on a diet back in the mid 2000s when the scam was first brought to mainstream attention...

      Little sympathy from me.

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    4. Bring.it.on.
      I'd love to see those over privileged useless parasites try to get a real job, with bosses, performance appraisals and deadlines.

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    5. Imagining The Open ToadFebruary 4, 2014 at 11:26 PM

      "... Seattle University Lol School"

      I know it's late, and maybe I'm just tired, but I don't think I even knew there WAS a "Seattle University Law School"...

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    6. I think that 15 years ago it was still at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. Then Seattle University bought the law school and moved it north to Seattle. I find their promotional materials to be particularly obnoxious. They never miss an opportunity to point out that you're not supposed to be doing it for the money. It's quite curious, though, that their tuition doesn't seem to be any lower than that of other third-tier private schools.

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    7. By the way Toad, I love your screen name. Have you ever heard of the movie "Deep Toad," starring Tony Robbins? Something to do with a cult that smokes psychedelic toads, I think. Then they all do the firewalk...

      Maybe we could write it up as a "Law and Philosophy" or "Drugs and the Constitution" article for, let's say, the Florida Law Review. Those poor kids will publish anything.

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  14. Outstanding post. The one thing that I would add is that many of the students that are paying higher tuition to fund the scholarships are minorities. I would call this racial exploitation. All these liberal democratic social-justice loving deans are exploiting racial minorities.

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    1. Don't you understand? That's the relentless Nietzschean morality of the new master race. You've got to have an iron will to survive in the "blame the victim" racket that law school has become.

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    2. Yes, but occasionally there's a racial minority professor who gets to profit from the scam. That makes it okay. Everything's very progressive these days.

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  15. does this advice apply to even the very top schools? Penn, Chicago, Columbia, etc.

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    1. I suspect it does, but at least at a T14 you are getting actual results for your money. UofC, for example, at least produces very respectable results for its graduates for the price tag. Many, many schools charge the same yet can't say that at all.

      Of course, price and overproduction consequences are starting to knock at the doors of the T14 as well, so nothing beats being a golden child, in that sense. You may not get to pick your life (i.e. daddy was an equity partner so now I have to be an attorney, too), but you will never be on food stamps and have creditors hunting you down to repo your 86 Cutlass Ciera, either.

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    3. (Prior comment removed and replaced here to correct spelling:)

      I'm going to say that the underlying exploitation of non-scholarship students for the benefit of scholarship students still holds true. Perhaps not the overall advice.

      For a top 5 school, I think that paying full fees might be ok - at least those schools offer real job opportunities. Think Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Chicago. But somewhere like Virginia or Georgetown where the employment stats are suspect and the schools are bizarrely over-ranked, forget it. No scholarship to GT means you're paying for some senator's kid to go to school for free.

      T14 is outdated. It's now T10 at best, and T5 to be on the safe side.

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    4. First tier: Harvard, Yale, maybe Stanford
      Second tier: five or six schools
      Third tier: about a dozen schools
      Fourth tier: all the rest

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    5. These tiers are immature musings of young people. They are a mirage because law is a tournament guild. The tiers make it look like law is a limited entry guild for those who attended the top tiers, but it is absolutely not.

      The tier of your law school becomes much less important as you age. Going to a top tier law school in no way means that you will be able to get or hold onto any type of full-time permanent job as a lawyer in your 50s or 60s. For those of us who graduated from those schools and observe the numbers first hand, the numbers are not good.

      All of the top law schools are great for getting a job when you are 28, but horrible for getting a job when you are 52.

      For Charles to tell people to go to a top law school when he really does not know the outcomes after age 50- is actually talking from the seat of his pants.

      A lot of regrets here. Law firms do not hire people in their 50s or 60s in associate positions and in fact allow a very limited number of lawyers to keep their jobs through their 50s or 60s. In house Is not much better, and government has few openings. Many lawyers from top tier schools have and will have no viable employment options at age 50 or later.

      If you got into a T5, you could have gotten into a U.S. allopathic medical school and been guaranteed a lifetime of work if you wanted it. In no way is that true for graduates of a T5 law school.

      CHARLES - STOP TELLING PEOPLE TO GO TO THE TOP 5 LAW SCHOOLS, A DECISION THAT THEY WILL DEEPLY REGRET WHEN THEY ARE UNEMPLOYED AND LATE MIDDLE AGED.

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    6. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. DO NOT GO TO ANY LAW SCHOOL. I know of many HYS unemployed in their 40s and 10-20 years out of law school. I just learned of another Stanford grad on the street 20 years out of law school. I often think I would have been better off as a nurse or teacher or pharmacist or allied medical care professional such as a respiratory therapist. There is some job security in those professions. Law is not a profession, and there is absolutely no job security. This dirty secret has been kept quiet by the law "profession," by law schools, and by the unfortunate castaways (out of embarrassment largely for the castaways).

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    7. Even with the "best" outcome from the "top" law schools, one is looking at a very limited shelf-life as a paid lawyer.... and this shelf-life grows shorter by the year.

      You're not getting involved in anything like a career. Employment in law is a very fleeting thing. You will be castoff. Even if you "make partner" somewhere. You'll wind up on the street and forced to live by your wits, whether you want it or not.

      The funny thing is, if you're an entrepreneur, gambler, and risk-taker who can live by your wits, you'd never, ever venture into the legal profession in the first place. Extreme innovation, risk-taking and outright gambling are outright anathema to 97% of the established attorneys out there today. This type of person would apply these skills and determine in a few minutes that the legal profession isn't the ticket.

      If you're gonna have to start your own business, you're gonna have to do it in something new. Pennoyer v. Neff and innovation are not bedfellows.

      For God's sake, please recognize that law school and an associateship (and the associateship only exists for the very lucky few) is but a temporary diversion from being on-the-street and forced to create your own business. Unfortunately, law school appeals strongly to the risk adverse who seek a template for a relatively stable career.

      You won't be getting what you need from law school.

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    8. Repeat after me:

      Only go if you won't owe

      And drop out after the first year if you aren't in the top third.

      If you are lucky enough to get in with a firm as an associate, you have about 5 years to transition to government or an inhouse position that is more stable. Your first job will not last and you need to plan to transition so that you have as much control as possible.

      Here's the "Don't" list for practicing law.

      1. Don't live in NY;
      2. Don't have more than 1 kid;
      3. Don't buy a house that is over two and a half times your annual salary;
      4. Don't get divorced;
      5. Don't get seriously ill;
      6. Don't marry anyone who will get seriously ill;
      7. Don't have parents who will need any kind of extended care;
      8. Don't have any costly emergencies;
      9. Don't have a dog or cat who doesn't prefer the cheaper, dry kibble.

      OK. Now go to a top law school.

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  16. Why isn't the DOJ or Congress investigating this? Federal loan funds are being used to fund the scam.

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    1. Obama's all in with the law school thugs. So is his attorney general.

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    2. Please, please read Michael Lind's essay, The Fantasy of a Vast Upper Middle Class:

      http://www.salon.com/2010/08/03/myth_upper_middle_class/.

      Excerpt:

      "For a generation, most Americans have been told by left, right and center that they would be failures if they ended their educations with high school, worked hard, saved cash for emergencies and bought modest homes they could afford. They have been told that to succeed in life they need to ape the lifestyles of the upper middle class that provides most of America’s politicians, pundits and scholars.

      The result has been an experiment in social engineering that has gone horribly wrong: the creation of a faux mass upper middle class. Millions of Americans who by objective standards belong to the working class or lower middle class have persuaded themselves that they are part of the professional-investor elite, because they have worthless degrees from diploma mills, negligible amounts invested in stocks, and suburban trophy houses they cannot afford. For the college graduates at Starbucks working to pay off student loans for degrees that they will never use, as for the millions of Americans who are now “underwater,” owing more on their mortgages than their houses are worth, the American dream has turned into a nightmare.

      But many have profited from the peddling of the dream of the mass upper middle class. The claim that everyone should go to college served the interests of the educational-industrial complex, from K-12 to the universities, that now serves as an important constituency of the Democratic Party. (Along with Wall Street investment banks, universities provided Barack Obama with his largest campaign donations.) "




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  17. I have mixed feelings about the Scholarship and Prizes issue. In grad school many of the scholarship recipients came from Third World countries and really needed a free ride to be able to attend... but when those same students found top tier investment banking jobs, I questioned whether the school should have sent them a tuition bill after-the-fact, given that the rest of us were stuck with student loans and less attractive jobs. In law school the Type A gold medalist types didn't pay a dime for tuition plus they all found high paying BigLaw summer jobs, but they genuinely earned it since they contributed more to the classroom and social environment than us middle of the packers. Maybe the distinction is between earn vs. deserve. Should the funding go to those who need it most, or those who worked the hardest?

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  18. Have you seen this one???? Next week the ABA is going to vote on whether or not to require 15 hours of skills. Look at the comments the scared deans and law profs have filed @ http://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/notice_and_comment.html. Read the one from the Yale profs first. It is really, really funny. 303(a)(3)

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    1. Hilarious. These law professors are scared shitless that they will have to teach skills classes. Maybe a little work will wake them up.

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    2. I love this. Feel the fear.

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    3. Thanks for the link. That was both hilarious and pathetic. The greed and ineptitude of law professors couldn't be illustrated any better than by the Sterling Professors at Yale Law School.

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    4. The grand, exalted, mighty, pompous, and--don't forget--distinguished professors at Yale claim that experiential learning and teaching legal skills would "impose additional costs."

      That's true only if those same professors don't have adequate practice experience. Otherwise, they could supervise the students just fine by working a few more hours every week. And teaching legal skills should be a breeze--for anyone who actually used their own legal skills in practice. Enough said.

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  19. Something else about the practice of law that many of these scam blogs don't touch on too much is the phenomenon of getting "aged out" of practice.

    In other words, if you're not partner or at a steady in-house or state/public sector job by the time you're 40, YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO GET A JOB PRACTICING LAW, even if you've worked as a lawyer.

    In my case, I've practiced law for the past 10 years at a mid-sized and boutique firm. I've managed to climb to a salary in the low 6 figures, but nobody is interested in me or my co-workers who are in the same boat. So when my current firm collapses (which happens all the time for small/mid sized firms), I'll be out of a job.

    This is very common, and many lawyers who have practiced for 10 years or so experience this. You really have a small window after graduation to secure a long-term future for yourself in the practice of law.

    BOTTOM LINE: 2-3 years experience at BigLaw or a Federal Clerkship is absolutely necessary. If that's not on your resume, good luck getting an in-house job anywhere, or getting hired to practice law after 40. If, like me and many others, you've practiced law at unremarkable places, NOBODY will want you.

    So unlike with doctors, the first 10 years of practice (where common sense dictates you build up experience) is IRRELEVANT. Employers want "buzz words" like federal (NOT state) clerkship, BigLaw, etc.

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    1. I have the federal clerkship but still can't get a fucking interview anywhere. At my age, a recent graduate might as well be dead.

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  20. At 10:18, the education lobby is firmly ensconced on Capitol Hill. Under the guide of non-profit public interest, the education industry has carved out a variety of lobbying loopholes directly for their benefit. For instance, only college and education lobbyists may accompany Members of Congress on lobbying trips and may sponsor travel trips for Members. Cite: http://www.cleanupwashington.org/lobbying/page.cfm?pageid=41

    The higher education lobby has been extremely successful getting special favors from Washington. An investigation into the diploma manufacturing industry would be akin to Congress or the DOJ really investigating Wall Street or gun manufacturers or the insurance industry. It's just not going to happen. There's too much money at stake.

    Fortunately, the Internet is providing 0Ls with a chance to digest unvarnished information and may prevent at least a thoughtful few from becoming student loan conduits.

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    1. And the general public still believes a law degree (and other higher education) is a ticket to wealth and power. Any attempt by Washington to reduce loans for law school (or other higher education) will be interpreted as a conspiracy by the elite to deny this guaranteed path to success to poor, minorities and other disenfranchised. The outcry would be huge.

      At the same time the idea that expansive loans is sponsoring massive inefficiency in the education section isn't widely believed ("Bennett Hypothesis"). Cut loans, and eventually colleges will be forced to cut costs and education will become more affordable. But many people apparently believe colleges only charge what they absolutely must, and there is no room to cut costs.

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    2. I think the Bennet Hypothesis is widely believed: most conservatives probably accept it to some degree, and while not as many liberals believe it, there are more that are probably accepting it. It's only going to be more widely accepted as the job prospects for college graduates and certain other professionals continues to decline as tuition rises.

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  21. There are numerous signs when you should "bail:"

    1. When you cannot get a full-tuition scholarship offer at *any* school in the United States.
    2. When you cannot get a substantial (>50%) scholarship offer at a school worth attending (top 50 or so).
    3. When your anticipated total debt at graduation will be higher than the salary at the local PD's office.
    4. When you finish your 1L semester without any As.
    5. When you finish your 1L year outside of the top 30%.
    6. When you whiff at OCI.

    These are bailpoints. There are more.

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    1. For the unsuspecting lemming, that is probably the most succinct, and worldly wise and functional set of rules I have ever come across on all the scamblogs.

      Maybe they can be called: Checkpoints on the road to financial disaster and en route to lifetime and toxic debt.

      However, some gifted people do pass thru all the hurdles or hoops, albeit a relative few.

      Of course, there is the other situation, as in the kid who has a guaranteed job in the family law firm, who does not have to worry about 1 to 6 above.

      At my law school graduation, quite a few people were greeted onstage by a relative who was a Judge or a local politician, or a partner in a firm, etc.

      I knew that because the name of the Judge or the local politician or partner etc was announced out loud.

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    2. I'm a big believer in these kinds of black lines. Otherwise, the law student second guesses his or her decision to quit, thinking that things can get better. The reality is that once you're out of the game, you're out of the game for good. Like the "Circle of Trust", except De Niro will never let you back in. No do-overs, no second chances. If you cross any of these lines (or those set out in Con Law), quit and don't look back.

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    3. 7. When you're past the age of 29.

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    4. Kind of like reaching your level of incompetence and knowing when to leave, and there is a difference between quitting and leaving.

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  22. There's been a few comments concerning grades being "random". I think this point needs to be elaborated on a bit.

    Its not that grades are "random" in the sense that the lawprof/TA is just throwing dice and just haphazardly assigning grades. Its random in that many times (assuming you studied hard and did your best to "master" the material and didn't just blow it off and took it "cold") you really do NOT have a sense as to how well/poorly you did until after you actually get the grades back. This is unlike exams in nearly any other field of study that I can think of.

    Now I'm sure the lawprof probably has some "objective" means of assigning grades. The problem is that oftentimes you don't know what it is that the lawprof had in mind as his "model" perfect exam. So its actually common for students to think they've aced a course only to get a B while thinking they did so-so but come out with an A.

    The other aspect that is "random" is that grading isn't really all that precise, like say the multiple choice exam. To explain what I mean, I would venture to guess that if we were to force the lawprof to re-grade the same set of exams over and over, while wiping his memory of the exams before each re-grade, it is VERY LIKELY that a while no D will flip to an A (and vice versa), a few As and Bs or Bs and Cs would likely be flip around.

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    1. "The other aspect that is "random" is that grading isn't really all that precise, like say the multiple choice exam. To explain what I mean, I would venture to guess that if we were to force the lawprof to re-grade the same set of exams over and over, while wiping his memory of the exams before each re-grade, it is VERY LIKELY that a while no D will flip to an A (and vice versa), a few As and Bs or Bs and Cs would likely be flip around."

      This. It's amazing how so much is wrapped up in and rests on something that is so arbitrary and subjective, just because you can distill it down into a single number.

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    2. Besides, what qualifies law profe$$ors to evaluate students? How many of them know a thing about designing exams? How many even bother to justify the grades that they assign?

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  23. OLs don't fully understand the harsh limitations that a legal education and career will inflict on one's life. Foremost is the law school you attend. There are immediate and permanent hierarchies within the profession and if you did not attend a T14, your fellow attorneys who did will cross the street to avoid you. Also and of equal importance will be your first year grades. In fact, really, your whole career will be determined by your first year grades and, to a lessor extent, your final grades and class ranking. Lastly, where you take the bar will really determine where you live. I've seen many students graduate without a job just take the bar where they went to school. This certainly makes some kind of sense as it's costly to move. But then forget trying to get a job anywhere else. Few other professions impose such geographic restrictions on you which so profoundly affect your life (and the life of your significant other). I cannot recall less helpful advice than Prof Sarah Sadler from Emory telling the members of the senior class that "[y]ou might have to move to Nebraska ". Aside from any other issue, at that point everyone had already signed up for a bar exam and if any graduate wanted to move to another state, it would probably take at least a year to get a law license. I understand that she wants newly graduated lawyers to keep an open mind, but it was obvious that she doesn't understand that practicing attorneys are not like law professors who can simply go to a different state and keep doing what they do.

    Also pay attention to what 12:19 PM wrote. If you lose your job in mid-career, which is more likely than not, it will be very difficult to reinvent yourself within the legal profession. I graduated from law school in the mid-80s and have witnessed the career explosion of several colleagues. It always happens when the kids are just starting college.

    It's a really hard profession that is nothing like what OLs imagine it to be.

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  24. Location, location, location. All you special lemming snowflakes need to understand just how critical the geographic location of your prospective law school is to your career. Here are some factors to watch out for:

    1. Carefully consider before you go to a law school in a city with a strong class-structure such as New Orleans, Boston, or Charleston. The same 25 families have been marrying each other in those places for 200 years and the law market is all about connections. Instead, look at law schools in or near cities such as Atlanta, Houston or Phoenix which have had a significant influx of people from other parts of the country. You will not stand out as much if you are not from there.

    2. Carefully consider before you go to a law school in a small town that is not within an hour's drive of a metropolis. Unless you are headed to Biglaw, the chances are that you will work for a small of mid-size law firm. These firms usually do not have such a structured associate program and will hire law clerks during the academic year. Those law clerks who do a good job may be invited to stay. If you do not have connections, you need to go to law school in the proximate area of a major legal market. Otherwise, the students who have the same or worse credentials as you will get associate positions simply by being available during the school year.

    3. Carefully consider before you go to the third or fourth ranked law school in a large city. You will have to graduate in the nose-bleed section of your class in order to even have a reasonable shot at a job.

    4. Carefully consider before you go to any place or state where you do not have connections and you cannot concoct a reason for being there that won't fail the laugh test. And, as far as law firms are concerned, getting a scholarship is not a good reason for being there as it is absolutely no indication that you have any affinity for the area or local culture. THINK CAREFULLY BEFORE YOU ACCEPT A SCHOLARSHIP AT A SCHOOL WHERE YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO CONNECTIONS. If you are from the Pacific Northwest, so what if there's a law school in Kentucky which will give you a 100% scholarship. You are unlikely to get a job in Kentucky and you have just made yourself professionally unattractive where you have roots and connections.

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    1. I'm 5:49. I just want to emphasize to OLs that where you go to law school will more than likely be the area of the country where you will seek employment. I know how OLs think. They think that they can go to William & Mary, then head to Omaha for an employment search. It really doesn't work this way and law practice has become much more regionalized and localized in the last ten years. Even as Biglaw is cutting staff and attorneys, Biglaw offices are expanding into regional centers of the country and yes, they will be looking for local lawyers. Law Schools will tell that their degrees are respected everywhere. Perhaps. But if you crap out at OCI (like 85% of the students), then you will more than likely be conducting your job search locally because that's where you can interview and the local firms will have some sort of record hiring from your school. Unless it's HYS, do not go to law school in a city where you don't plan to live or don't think you would be happy living in. If you don't have a job at the end of law school, the practically, you have one shot at a bar exam and you will probably not want to move. This consideration is all the more important because law schools are giving away the farm in terms of scholarships. Don't be tempted even by a full ride if you do not want to live and work in that part of the country.

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    2. 5;49, I mostly agree with you but I do think that the T14, Notre Dame and maybe a couple of others have a national appeal. Hint: While I despise the USNWR ratings take a look at the bar passage rates. They list the passage rate for the state in which the most graduates took the bar. If they list a bar passage rate for a state other than where the school is located that is a good sign.

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    3. 5:49 here, thanks 10:43 for your reply. I believe that "National Appeal" really only works in New York and DC. Take a Harvard Law graduate who is from the Northeast and a U of Florida graduate who is from Florida, both with the same class rank. Throw them both into the job market pool in Miami. The U of Florida graduate will be more attractive to more firms. The Harvard graduate may appeal to 5 to 10 of the largest firms, but the U of Florida graduate will be attractive throughout the entire depth of the job market. If the U of Florida graduate is fluent in Spanish and the Harvard graduate isn't, then the Harvard graduate can just forget about it. The list of where students take the bar is a bit deceptive. If the school has a national draw, and if the students can't find a job locally, then they will go home to take the bar. This in no way means that they have a job. In fact, I believe that they will be worse off as they will be competing with law grads who have stayed in the area. Also, there really is a rev/pres (reverse prestige) effect with the top 10 law schools. If these graduates are looking in secondary job markets, everyone believes it is because they failed to get a job in New York or DC. If a Harvard grad with no ties to Atlanta applies to law firms in Atlanta it has the same rev/pres effect that occurs when JDs apply for positions that only require a bachelor's degree. It engenders suspicion rather than a warm, professional embrace.

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    4. I always thought, and still think, trying to get a job from Stanford LS in NY is a no-no. Very few Stanford Law grads here.

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  25. I was an adjunct at a T5 law school. They gave me a mandatory grading curve for my students. Most people got B's. Was before the scam was well known though.

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  26. I knew perfectly well that paying full tuition was a sucker bet almost everywhere. I never would have made that mistake. Instead, I attended an élite law school where the bulk of my costs were living expenses.

    But even that was a colossal mistake, because it turns out that a student of my age (mid-forties) is iced out of the legal "profession". Great grades from a highly regarded law school will not avail against systemic and ubiquitous age-based discrimination.

    Younger people, don't suppose that high grades will save your ass either. As this article points out, you cannot expect ab initio to do well in law school. In addition, connections trump high grades almost every time. At my law school, piles of rich kids with mediocre or even downright poor marks (including one dim bulb that left in the middle of the school year for a couple of months of yachting) got jobs at prominent law firms while a few top students struggled to find work anywhere and some were left with no job at all.

    Anyone who doesn't come from big money should think twice about going to law school. The legal "profession" isn't far removed from a hereditary aristocracy.

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    1. Great comment all around, and let me thank you in particular for the warning about doing law school in your forties. That could have been me, and I still get tempted by the prospect of a full scholarship, or early admission to Chicago, or transferring to Harvard...

      I think the stern warnings and horror stories on this site are a great service. The general irreverence towards law professors and their pretensions also helps quite a bit. It clears the thoughts and levels the heads of people who could otherwise be lured into the bizarre sadomasochistic trap known as law school.

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    2. NEVER GO TO LAW SCHOOL IN YOUR 30s or 40s. They will tell you that your life experience is valued. This is a lie. You do not learn how to practice law in law school. Most of what you do as a young associate, you could do without a law degree. Law firms understand and realize that older people with other career or life experiences are less malleable and less willing to be abused. Therefore, they do not hire them. They only want to hire young, impressionable people who can be dumped into mindless or rote work, or who can be made to work ridiculous hours mainly just to inflate bills, who will not resist or have no other family commitments. Then, in short order, these young associates are dumped and replaced by a new crop of young associates.

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    3. 3:19, you must ignore the siren song of scholarships and Harvard and whatnot unless you are independently wealthy and want the degree only for its own sake. You could walk on water but still find no work.

      Just a couple of days ago a judge for whom I served as clerk advised me to avoid private practice altogether (he even said that it's fucking awful) and to seek work in the federal government. Indeed, I had decided some time ago to do just that. (Almost a year has gone by since I last applied for work at any law firm.) But there are few openings in the government, and they tend to require experience in the practice of law.

      10:12, you're right on all points. The law schools lie about the value of our experience in other domains. When I started asking people why I was not getting interviews, repeatedly the word malleable came up. The large law firms in particular are not looking for capable lawyers; they just want people who will do a few years of overpaid clerical work before getting the sack. Impressionable young people are deemed easier to subdue and control.

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  27. Sorry to disagree, but this post makes little sense, Charles. You seem to by trying to use the equivalent of class envy or class warfare, and I think it fails miserably at the main point you're trying to get across, which is that the odds are stacked against you, because that applies to the person on scholarship also, unless he's well-connected to begin with.

    The other commenters make a better argument than the OP. What difference does it make if someone else has a scholarship and you don't if the "schollie" hits the wall a few years down the line? Even if schollie graduates top of the class and gets into big law, odds are that he'll be dumped after 5 years. What else is he going to do the the other 35 years of his working life?

    And, regarding the post that inspired this post, it seems like he's just speculating. For the parents who can afford to pay for their kids' tuition, they likely don't really care whether someone else is getting a scholarship. Assuming you're in a top 20 school, they just want to proudly brag to others that their son/daughter is attending a top law school and is on his/her way to becoming a high-powered attorney. They're more likely to be annoyed when they find out that their son/daughter didn't get one of those high-paying big law jobs in hand upon graduation, but that's likely because they themselves didn't go through law school and therefore believe like the rest of society that all lawyers (especially those from top schools) rake in the dough. But, if you get some kind of job that tangently justifies going to law school on their dime, they'll still brag to their friends about their son/daughter having a law degree. They probably won't be expressing anger to their friends about some other dumb kid who got a scholarship while their special snowflake didn't.

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  28. Folks, I believe there are two distinct items the scamblogs are hitting on: the first has been known for a while, and the second is just emerging, but both are relatively new. The first item is that if you lose in the law school game, you are not just worse off with the law degree than without it; rather, you are likely to be financially ruined for life. This point has been the case, I suspect, for about 10-15 years, and the scamblogs have always discussed this, although the legal profession has probably never been the picnic popular culture portrays it to have. The second point, and I think this is coming to the surface now, is that EVEN MOST OF THE WINNERS EVENTUALLY LOSE, relatively speaking.
    It was not the case 10-15 years ago that a person who got a Big law associate job or equivalent position would be in a worse position than someone with a GED and two years of community college working as a big city police officer or tradesmen. This is the case now.
    I make low six figures as a lawyer. I graduated LS in 2008. I have about 20k in savings and 20k in student loans. For a lawyer, I am in a pretty good position. I am worse off than most of my friends who are cops and tradesmen for the following reason: i) if trends continue, I will likely be replaced within the next decade by someone younger with a few hundred thousand dollars in non-dischargeable debt, whereas the tradesmen and cops will have jobs as long as they want them, ii) the cops and tradesmen I know make the same or more than I do without the fear of being fired, and most importantly iii) the cops and tradesmen will retire at 45 or 55 with pensions (sometimes six figure pensions) and healthcare for life.
    Here is the point the scamblogs will not make explicitly: someone with a 155 LSAT and a B+ college average can easily get one of those jobs. Whenever this point is raised, someone responds there are only so many of those kind of jobs to go around, and if everyone tried to get one of those jobs, most people applying would still be out of look. This response misses two fundamental points: A) as politically incorrect (a political anathema actually) as this may sound, getting one of those jobs is, as stated, for the above profile type is relatively easy. Someone posted the stats for the NYPD entry level class for 2011: the average age is 23 or 24, less than TEN PERCENT have military service, and LESS THAN HALF have a four year degree. Getting this job is based on i) an exam (I have looked at it) designed for people with high school level abilities (take a look at the sample test online if you do not believe me), ii) having a pristine background, and iii) basic physical ability. Most people going to LS or an equivalent professional path with a B average and above average standardized testing abilities ( at least half of entry law school matriculates) can get this done. B) Even if I am totally incorrect, pursuing these jobs will cost you at most a few test administration fees, and do not involve 3 years of opportunity cost and six figures of non-dischargeable debt.

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    1. It is not true that a person with a 155 and a B+ can easily get a job as a police officer. Those jobs are dispensed largely through connections, in particular a relative (especially a father) who is or was a police officer. In that respect, they are comparable to jobs in big law firms.

      If, like me, you don't come from a big city, you can forget about getting a job as a flatfoot with any big city's police force. Ditto if, like me, you are almost twice the average age of 23 or 24. Ditto if, like me, you would knock the stuffing out of that dipshit exam. (One candidate was turned down for doing too well on the exam, and the court upheld the rejection.) Ditto if you have a disAbility or other condition that would limit your ability to perform the required physical activity.

      You seem to assume that a four-year degree counts as a feather in an applicant's cap. It doesn't. Police departments don't particularly want people with four-year degrees. Similarly, a law degree is actually a blemish for almost any job other than that of lawyer.

      If you know of any urban police department that would seriously consider a guy in his mid-forties with three degrees (all with honors), by all means name it. My application will be in the mail the next day.

      Delete
    2. I'm sorry for your troubles dude, but I am giving advice to the 23 year old kid that is being conned into believing education is the key to success, and not to older people that have more limited options.

      Also, while I definitely agree with you that college education, and especially graduate level education is a liability when applying for these jobs, I disagree that nepotism is a huge factor for the big city police and fire departments (to be honest, it is more of a factor in the trades though). Most people in the big cities who have these jobs do not have a relationship to the respective department, familial or otherwise. It's based on a test, a background check, and a physical ( you have to be young enough obviously). Again, you are right that having an education is frowned down upon, but that is just an argument to get as little education as possible because in today's globalized economy, these are the best jobs.

      My friend from high school is 29 years old (he's a few years younger than me). He graduated with a bachelor's degree in the liberal arts and did not know what he wanted to do with his life, so he joined the force. He got promoted to sergeant. I asked him if he was happy with his job, and he said " not really, I made about 135 thousand last year, with over time, nothing crazy." He is retiring in 14 years with a pension equal to 75 percent his last 3 years salary on the job. Please tell me what legal or STEM job beats that.

      Those jobs are gettable if you are 23, have a clean criminal record, are not over qualified d by virtue of education, an ok personality, and above average intelligence (B average and 155 LSat will do in relation to the majority of the population).

      Lemmings beware.... DROP OUT.

      Delete
    3. I think NYPD is a better option than a T5 law school. I say that as part of a family of T5 grads that has learned the hard way that these degrees are proxies for unemployment for people in their 50s and 60s.

      I made $35,000 last year with my top law degree and spent over a year looking - looking very hard. I have "networked" with no success. All I have gotten is temp work, with long periods of unemployment and futile job seeking. Not a very good result for a T5 law degree.

      I had such a good college record and such high standardized test scores, including high STEM scores, I could have done anything with my life. The information gap is how I ended up like this, I am posting so no one else goes down the drain of a T5 law schools without understanding the risks -before they enroll.

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    4. You said "someone with a 155 LSAT and a B+ college average can easily get one of those jobs". I showed that that's not true. Many people have no chance of getting a job as an urban police officer: people past their twenties (why, what a coincidence! that's also true of law!), people with physical limitations, people who don't live in a big city (how the hell was I supposed to join the NYPD twenty-odd years ago while living in a tiny town nowhere near New York?), and many others. Nice work if you can get it—but, again, that's a big if.

      Delete
    5. 6:52, it's interesting that you weren't able to rely on connections despite having several relatives with law degrees from top schools.

      Like you, I was strong all around. I went into engineering but lost my job around age 30 and never could find work again in that field. People encouraged me to go into law on the grounds that I'd make an excellent lawyer. Well, excellent lawyer I may be, but that doesn't mean that I can find a fucking job.

      Delete
    6. @ 6:52 AM

      Given that you had the STEM scores, and the work ethic, this is a sad tale.

      You could've chosen pre-med, likely made it into a school, even DO, or chosen ophthalmology. But once you went law, it was too late to re-tool, especially if you take on loans.

      Law schools excel at dimming bright lights, which is all the majority do at this point in the scam.

      A true cautionary tale that I would wager the majority of Lemmings will not heed, much to their later dismay.

      Delete
    7. It turns out that my age is an absolute bar to becoming a porker in New York City. "Applicants must be at least 17 ½ years of age or less than 35 years of age on actual day of examination" (http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/careers/application_overview.shtml).

      Delete
    8. I (the guy who was stupid enough to go to law school in middle age) certainly had enough background in mathematics and the natural sciences to get into medical school. But I had so much debt from my undergraduate degree that further study was out of the question until I paid it off—at age 33. And medical school no longer looked realistic when I was in my forties. (Just to apply, I would have had to take a year or more of chemistry and biology and such, as my prior coursework was too dated to count.) Law school looked realistic, and was. The problem there was that getting work in law was not realistic.

      Delete
    9. Again dude, I'm sorry for your troubles at 45. I revise my original statement which stated that someone with at least a 3.3 and 155 LSAT can get one of those jobs as follows: someone who is the average age of law school matriculates (24) who has a B+ average and a 155 LSAT can get one of those jobs. The point of this blog is to steer young people into the right direction and the right direction is political protection. It isn't STEM because those jobs are being in sourced and outsourced. It isn't medicine because that's out of reach for even above average people and I believe the government is going to take doctors down substantially (pediatricians make the same or less than. Big city cops). It isn't law because law is just an ultimate cluster fuck.

      We have to give people the alternatives. Telling kids to not go to law school isn't enough. The reason applications haven't totally imploded is because law professors keep using their most nefarious argument: what else are you going to do. I'm giving your average applicant an answer to that question: big city municipal employment.

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    10. Connections don't help for older lawyers beyond age 50. Too many applicants with connections for each job. Money is the only think that talks - portable business, that is.

      The points made in this thread about too late when you have gone into law and taken on debt or are simply over age 40 are so right. You need to be aware before you enroll in any law school, especially in a top law school because you have so many other career options, of how hard it is too hold a full-time permanent job as a lawyer when you are older.

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    11. "Law schools excel at dimming bright lights..."

      How true. And that sickening, hypocritical process doesn't just fatten the wallets of the law professors. It also reinflates their egos. If they're the only ones who got lasting good results from going to law school, then they're as happy as clams.

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    12. I'm afraid that you'd have to constrain your statement even further: people with those grades and that LSAT score and that age AND US citizenship AND good able-bodied physical condition AND urban residence AND various other criteria are ELIGIBLE for those municipal jobs. I still need to see proof that

      Just now I checked the requirements of my own local police department. Although no formal age limit was mentioned (which is not to say that there is no informal age limit that would send my application straight to the wastebasket), there was a requirement of uncorrected visual acuity that I unfortunately do not satisfy. Never mind that I see just fine with my glasses; I'm simply not eligible. And I wouldn't have been eligible at 24 either.

      Those grotesquely overpaid jobs for pigs are highly coveted. What evidence is there to suggest that just any young person with at least mediocre grades and a mediocre LSAT score can get those jobs?

      My point is that big-city municipal employment may not be a realistic option for everyone. Offering alternatives is noble, but make sure that they're real alternatives.

      Still, you're absolutely right to say that "law is just an ultimate cluster fuck". Even if one has no other appealing options, law school is still a very bad idea. Slinging hash at some fast-food shithole makes more sense than going to law school.

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    13. The assumption that med school is not doable is sort of silly if you got into a T14 law school. I think US allopathic med school is realistic for anyone at a law school ranked 30 or higher, as long as they study hard for the MCAT.

      Of course, med school and even premed is expensive, but so is everything else. People work around the expense to become doctors.

      For someone at a law school ranked below 30, you probably will not be able to become a doctor but a dentist, pharmacist, nurse practitioner all come to mind as high paying relatively stable careers.

      Delete
    14. (Text cut off above: "I still need to see proof that people who satisfy all of the explicit and implicit criteria can necessarily get one of those jobs for the asking. It appears that large numbers of qualified people are turned away.")

      Delete
    15. When you are talking about law jobs that require more than 5 years of experience, everyone who is considered has worked in the legal profession and has some connections. This is not enough because there are many more applicants than jobs and every applicant has "connections".

      Just because you have met the person interviewing you before or even gone to lunch or drinks with them means nothing - most of the people they are interviewing are people they met in some professional context.

      There are many more super-qualified, highly credentialed lawyers seeking jobs than there are jobs for experienced lawyers. As a result, many former big law lawyers and Article III clerks are going to end up jobless - no matter how "connected" they are.

      The only thing that talks is a big book of portable business. End of story.

      Your "connections" aren't gone to get you that experienced job.

      Delete
  29. 9:07 Continued:

    We are not communicating the alternatives everyone. We just keep telling people not to go to LS or we tell people to pursue careers that involve outsourcing and/or competition with third-world slaves, i.e. STEM. The answer for your average LS student is to try and get a big city muni job. (Do not retort by citing the number of these jobs, instead look at the profile of the people getting these jobs, and tell me honestly someone with a 3.3 GPA and a 155 LSTAT cannot get one of these jobs).
    Let’s do some math here : Person A graduates from a TOP TEN LS with NO DEBT. (Probably less than 1% of all LS graduates). Person B joins the NYPD at age 22, no 4 year college, no debt.
    Person A is 25 years old and is going to Big Law for 5 years. Assuming a standard lock step model, Person A will net about 550K in 5 years (after taxes). Afterwards, this person will likely be laid off and he/she will never make more than 100k in their life again.
    From ages 0-25, person A has earned no money. (Someone may try to say that this is an erroneous assumption, but remember, I am building this model for someone with NO STUDENT LOANS and A TOP TEN LAW DEGREE).
    From 25-30, person A will make 550k.
    Person B will make about 220k net (40 k average) for the first 5 years as a cop. So from ages 0-27, person B makes 220k.
    Afterwards, Person B will net between 65k and 80k a year (with overtime), again after taxes). So at 30 years old, Person B will have netted about 430k.
    Person B, from this point forward, will likely make more money, have more job security, and have an infinitely better retirement (six figure pension and health care for life at 45) than person A, again, since after Big Law, most associates never approach their big law salaries, and even if they make, say 100-120k, they are not pension eligible and will have no job security.

    So , a person with a GED and two years of community college will likely be better off than a TOP TEN law school graduate with no debt. (I have not even compared apples to apples, as a person with TOP TEN law school credentials will likely be able to join the upper echelon of management in a big city agency and make anywhere between 150-200k for as long as they want, on top of a pension and healthcare for life at the ripe old age of 45. Captains in the NYPD are, without exaggeration, usually multimillionaires by the age of 45).
    This last point is a brand new phenomenon.

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    Replies
    1. That's all based on a big if. It's easy to perform calculations; it's not so easy to make their assumptions come to pass.

      Delete
    2. No assumptions here. That analysis is pretty solid. Only 15 percent of graduates get big law or equivalent jobs and only 10 to 15 percent of those stick around for more than 5 years. Moreover, most of those people have serious debts unlike the example I provided. After 5 years in a major department, the salary is 90k with no overtime.

      I don't know what "if" means...

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    3. What you said about law graduates is correct. It's the job wiht the police force that is the big if. It's just not that easy to get one of those jobs.

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    4. @8:48,

      For a person1) 24 years or younger (vast majority of law school applicants), 2) a 155 LSAT and B+ average (at least half of law school graduates), 3) with no criminal record (again, vast majority of LS graduates), and 4) who is in om physical shape (probably a majority again) yes it is that easy.

      NYPD is one example. Average age of the class of 2012 was 24, less than 10 percent had military service and less than half had a four year degree. If you don't get overqualified, it's doable. Also, let's not forget the intangibles of actually doing something that helps society,. Also, this is just one example. There are other big city jobs: fireman, Sanitation, trades (nepotism plays a bigger role for the trades, but still doable) etc.

      Delete
    5. To conclude that it is doable, you have to look not only at those that got in but also at those that did not. How many applicants were turned down? How many of them had degrees?

      How was a hayseed like me supposed to get a municipal job in New York? Just applying would have meant two or more costly trips from a distant small town. And I would have stood out like a sore thumb. "Why is this guy from East Bumblefuck trying to get a job here?"

      Delete
    6. I know people that came from out of state to get these jobs and they got them. Forty percent have four year degrees and 60 percent do not. Again, I agree if you have the profile of an intellectual it will hurt you; that is why I am suggesting minimizing educational credentials.

      Also, there are big cities in the south and Midwest that pay very well to their municipal employees (look at how much cops make in Minneapolis). Also, there are other jobs other than police, ie fireman, sanitation, etc.

      If you have the balls to gamble 200k in student loans to get a JD, then a costly trip to a big city to get a lottery ticket job should be possible (use student loan money to do it, people use it on more stupid things,ie vacations).

      Also, this advice is more applicable to the younger generation than your generation. 20 years ago a big city cop wasn't going to be better off than most big law associates from top ten schools. This is a new thing, and given the catastrophic risks presented by liberal arts education, especially Law School, and the globalization pressures faced by the STEM field, these are the best jobs going forward. Young people are better suited trying to get one of these jobs first before pursuing other options, even if they fail in the process.

      Delete
    7. When I was young, I didn't have the wherewithal to go to law school (which is why I didn't do it until my forties) OR to travel idly to distant cities in the hope of getting a job as a police officer or a firefighter or whatever. To tell the truth, back then I didn't even know how much those people made, and I wouldn't even have thought of applying for those types of work in a distant city.

      I agree with you about the generational question. STEM (itself a new term, one that I first learned at Campos's Web site) seemed viable in my day. I went into STEM myself—only to be laid off about a dozen years ago and find myself unable to get back into that line of work. Today it's a dicey option, mainly because so much of the work is sent to India or elsewhere. But it seemed like a good choice when I was young.

      If I were young today, I'd probably take up a trade, pursue one of those municipal jobs that you describe, or become a nurse. Those are the best options that come to mind.

      And we're in violent agreement about the foolishness of going to law school today. It's a bad move for almost everyone.

      Delete
  30. The gravy train for pigs and firemen can't last forever either. See Stockton, California where these public servants were being paid $200k+ salaries and the city had to file for bankruptcy. For that matter, look at the state of California's struggle to pay pensions. This is a familiar story across the country where the usual response is to raise taxes, reduce services and do anything to increase revenue like allow gaming. The federal government is the best example, being almost $17 trillion in debt, by printing money for its reckless spending and funding bloated salaries and wasteful projects.

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    Replies
    1. This can and will go on forever. The big cities are immune to these problems. And assuming you are correct, if places like NYC, LA, and Boston have to default on debt obligations, everyone is going to be Fucked because that means the country is toast.

      I just don't want to see anymore hardworking and ambitious young people throw their lives away when opportunities like this are out there.

      Delete
    2. The 29-year old asshat should killself. Top 1% and not content.

      $135k off the backs of the public for doing little.

      This is the essence of modern society. The mediocre are rewarded handsomely. Within that group you will find the connected.

      Want a lot of money?

      Forget education.

      Just be born with looks and be a model. Contribute nothing because your "job" is sales. And make a lot of money.

      Be born relatively healthy and with strong connections and become a cop or fireman leeching off the public for 20 years. And make a lot of money.

      Become a lawyer from HYS, hit 40, become unemployable and open your own solo shop. Graduate at the top of your TTT, Same result.

      If doctors faced the same realities as lawyers and did not have 3rd party insurance covering their butts, they'd all killselves..

      They should say a prayer daily giving thanks that the ABA has protected their butts and continues to do so.

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    3. Circumstances of birth—parents' identities and money, place of residence (a big city confers immense advantages), health, appearance, generation—do indeed make all the difference. Some people are born a step from the finish line. The rest of us get fed the standard Horatio Alger tripe about advancing by dint of hard work.

      Delete
    4. Sorry, I meant "AMA"..

      Darn spellchecker!

      Delete
    5. Connections don't play a big role for big city cop, fireman and sanitation jobs. Most people are first generation on the job. It isn't fair to say that. For the trades, nepotism matters alot more, but it's still possible to get in without connections.

      Folks, the jobs are out there. We chose to be arrogant and ignorant assholes. I know in a few years some kid with 305k of non dischargeable debt is going to replace me at half my salary. I just want to make sure that the smart kids have a chance not to be in that situation. I want to see the smart kids retired at 45, collecting a 100k plus in retirement benefits from the assholes in the private sector who think they are better than everyone else (I put my younger self in that category). I don't want to see young, humble, smart, but ignorant kids get ruined for the benefit of some law school professor. There are options, if you are smart, you will take them.

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    6. Again, that option never was open to me.

      Years ago I applied to become an air-traffic controller. Of course I kicked ass on the test. But I was rejected anyway. They just don't want pointy-headed intellectuals for jobs such as those.

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    7. @5:50,

      I agree, that's why people should stop building the profile of an intellectual and start building the profile of the kind of person the politicians will protect.

      Delete
  31. The analysis at 6:07 pm that the top 10 law schools are lousy economic deals even for many or most of those who get Biglaw (or federal clerkships for that matter) is accurate.

    Before you go, even to Harvard or Yale, or heaven forbid, to lesser-ranked Chicago or Columbia, you need to understand that law is a profession of EXTREME AGE DISCRIMINATION. You have a high probability of not being able to earn a living with your top law degree when you are older, especially for women and minorities, but increasingly for white men as well. It is a structural problem of the legal profession - extreme up or out policies combined with extreme oversupply of lawyers and an age-pyramidal structure in most institutions (law firms and in house law departments, at least) with relatively few workers left as they hit their early 50s, and fewer for each year of age thereafter.

    Age discrimination in the legal profession is perfectly legal. In fact, this is not considered age discrimination at all by the agencies that enforce the equal employment laws.

    The fact that only 25% of the class from one of these top law schools can earn the salary (let alone the much higher total compensation, including benefits) of a public school teacher in their community with their years of work experience by the time they hit 52 or so, and that the percentage able to work falls after that, and that searching for full-time permanent work as a lawyer in one's 50s or 60s is an exercise in accumulating hundreds if not thousands of rejections is no matter to those who make or enforce laws preventing age discrimination.

    The fact is that a huge proportion of the older classes from the top 5 law schools in the United States are unsuccessful in finding full-time permanent work as lawyers that pays even the median total compensation earned by their public school teacher peers of their experience level in their communities.

    You cannot get a full-time, permanent job as a lawyer with your Harvard, Yale or Columbia Law degrees in your 50s or 60s without a large book of guaranteed business. Looking is a full-time exercise in futility. Young lawyers from these top law schools can and do get full-time permanent legal jobs, with few exceptions.

    The problem is that there is an up or out system that floods the market with lawyers who are in their 20s and 30s, and the job openings to absorb these lawyers, plus the older lawyers who lose jobs through normal market forces, do not exist.

    Whether you are doing poverty law, government law, public interest law or small law, or any other type of law, this flooding of the market year after year with very bright young lawyers, along with blatant "no hire" policies of law firms as to older lawyers without substantial portable business makes the top 5 law schools a losing game for many people.

    The good in house jobs are mostly fed directly from big law, so it is a double whammy to lose your post-big law job in your 50s or 60s. You are shut out in house and at most law firms. Because there is such an oversupply of lawyers knocking on their doors seeking jobs, law firms and in house law departments make a game of firing lawyers the way kids make a game of stepping on a colony of ants.

    Sure, there are a few big winners from these top 5 schools. But there are even more big losers - people who spend their 50s and 60s as temps and making very aggressive but futile attempts to get real full-time, permanent legal jobs.

    Going to Harvard, Yale or Columbia Law with your top credentials where you can do just about anything out of college is a big risk today. If you want to play it safe, and still earn a decent living during your whole life, especially when you are older, education or health care are simply better places to look than a top 5 law school.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 6:38 am's right on the money. Right on it.

      Delete
  32. An earlier reply said it best:

    You're not getting a career. Employment in law is fleeting. You will be castoff. Even if you "make partner" somewhere, you'll end up on the street and forced to live by your wits, like it or not.

    If you're an entrepreneur, gambler, and risk-taker who can live by your wits, however, you'd never, ever venture into law in the first place. Innovation, risk-taking and gambling are anathema to 97% of attorneys. An entrepreneurial person would apply his/her skills and determine in a few minutes that the legal profession just isn't the ticket.

    If you're gonna have to start your own business, you're gonna have to do it in something new. Please recognize that law school and an associateship is but a temporary diversion from being on-the-street and forced to create your own business.

    Unfortunately, law school appeals strongly to the risk adverse who seek a template for a relatively stable career.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Most lawyers who are unemployed in their 50s or 60s should have seen the writing on the wall and gone out on their own long ago when many if not most solos were able to make a decent living. What makes law a terrible profession is not the lack of security . . . that is everywhere, but the fact the "profession" is filled with garbage people . . narcissists, sociopaths at all levels. Everybody is looking out for themselves and the hell with decency, integrity, civility. That's simply the fact of the practice of law today. I saw what our profession was like when I started law school after several years working in the real world. By and large . . the students in law school were simply fooking ass*****s. Hypocrites, selfish, it was all about them even then. They are now the leaders of this god forsaken profession.

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    Replies
    1. I retch whenever I hear law students (even at my own prestigious law school) collectively characterized as brilliant. Not all that many are even intelligent. Most are ordinary at best.

      But, yes, there's a superabundance of narcissists and sociopaths, many of them born with a silver spoon up their ass.

      Delete
    2. That could be a manifestation of the fundamental sexism in legal academia. Male protagonists are always "brilliant," and female victims are always "beautiful."

      Delete
  34. You are dreaming if you think most people could have made a living as solo lawyers 20 years ago. Of my colleagues, maybe 1% were able to make it in a solo practice. Once it happens, even if you saw the handwriting on the wall a long time ago, your career is dead. The problem is that maybe 15% or 20% survive. Sort of like musical chairs and being left without a chair - no amount of seeing the handwriting on the wall changes the outcome of that game.

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  35. Well I made it and I've been out a little more than 20 years. Went to a TTT lawschool . . to a mid-law firm where I learned how to practice and then out on my own. It took some yellow page advertising to get PI clients and the tenacity necessary to actually try cases when necessary. But its not like I am some marketing genius or astute businessman. I just did what was necessary. Not saying it could be duplicated today . . but primarily because there is so much more competition and some huge lawyer advertising behemoths who scoop up most of the cases these days.

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  36. Before the big consolidation of mid law out of existence, and before the internet, which happened from about 2000 to 2005, there was not as much job hardship in the legal profession and what there was was not publicized. Older lawyers from top law schools had jobs for the most part before the consolidation.

    It is very hard to move out of law when you are over age 40 unless you already have a very good in house job in law and you are moving within that organization. That is very few people.

    Otherwise you are talking about quitting big law and going to work in a franchise for example to get years of experience you need to buy into the franchise. Even if you saved enough to buy the franchise, you also need to plan for several years with minimal work income. Most lawyers do not have that type of money.

    Going to work at a MacDonald's after several years at big law with a top law degree and the hope that you can eventually buy a franchise - well, good luck.

    You can go into investment banking if someone will hire you, go into politics, become a real estate broker or form your own executive compensation firm, but most people who have been lawyers after age 40 are going to have a very hard time starting a new business in a new line of work.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Charles,

    Did you see this?

    (NB: Duplicate posting to TTR.)

    Seattle University has an exciting, dynamic opportunity for a Chief Advancement Officer to join our community.

    The Chief Advancement Officer for the School of Law is responsible for the advancement, alumni and annual fund operations in the School of Law. This position reports to the Dean of the School of Law.

    Seattle University School of Law educates ethical lawyers who distinguish themselves through their outstanding professional skills and their dedication to the law in the service of justice. Faculty, students and staff form a vibrant, diverse, and collaborative community that promotes leadership for a just and humane world. The Law School's commitment to academic distinction is grounded in its Jesuit Catholic tradition, one that encourages open inquiry, thoughtful reflection and concern for personal growth. Innovation, creativity and technological sophistication characterize our rigorous educational program, which prepares lawyers for a wide range of successful and rewarding careers in law, business and public service.


    Essential Job Functions

    Develop solicitation strategies for individual, foundation and corporate prospects and implement cultivation activities/events for donor-specific programs and projects.

    Lead the School of Law's strategic planning efforts for advancement, alumni relations and annual fund operations.

    Coordinate and promote the active participation of the Dean in identification and solicitation of major gift donors for the advancement of the School. Coordinate the participation of the faculty, students, alumni and the local legal community in appropriate advancement gift solicitation activities.

    Lead the School of Law's participation in university development and fundraising efforts and campaign initiatives.

    Participate in University fundraising and prospect management meetings and events related to the School of Law.

    Supervise, manage and evaluate the Alumni Relations and Annual Fund team to coordinate cooperative programming and donor relations for the benefit of the School of Law.

    Manage the donor correspondence, acknowledgement and stewardship procedures for the School of Law. Collaborate with the university development office on procedures and policies for these activities.

    Manage the departmental operating budget, prioritizing and matching resource allocations with the fundraising efforts and activities for the School of Law.

    Collaboratively work with the faculty and School of Law departments to provide advancement-related programs and services to our students, alumni and the external legal community.

    Coordinate and position the participation of the Dean in these efforts to maximize the advancement of the reputation of the School of Law.

    Develop and implement innovative development and communication strategies which maximize the reputation of the School of Law in the legal community.





    Minimum Qualifications

    Bachelor's degree and a minimum of five (5) years of increasingly responsible positions in advancement, with significant experience and success in the solicitation of major gifts and major gift campaigns, preferably in a higher education environment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So they want someone who can beg fulltime for donations? This must be a fairly common job position for law school and other colleges. I get the impression that many law schools still receive a lot of donations, for whatever reason, so it actually makes economic sense to get a skilled salesperson who can devote all their time and energy to this.

      Delete
    2. Donors, take a hint: Any law skule with full-time employees devoted to hitting you up for donations isn't worthy of your money.

      This time last year, Vermont Law School started laying professors off—but it was still hiring for its seven-person Office of Institutional Advancement, which evidently is its money-whoring branch. The message could scarcely be clearer if the skule installed a giant neon sign reading "SCAM"—right across the street from the gas station that sells handmade maple-tapping buckets.

      Delete
    3. LOL

      That's a very "inciteful" comment, as they say at Indiana Tech.

      But why didn't they hire the professors to work in the advancement office? I thought law professors could do anything with their highly versatile degrees.

      Delete
    4. "But why didn't they hire the professors to work in the advancement office?"

      And how many law professors (or law graduates even) are excellent salespeople, which is what this job requires? Actually I don't see why this job even requires a bachelor's degree, but I suppose it might look bad if they just hired a high school graduate.

      Delete
  38. Great thread. Incredible thread.

    This blog is really bringing the truth out, even more than ITLSS did. The comments and archives here are so rich with human experience that the scamprofs' petulant demands for "Evidence?" ring as hollow and hypocritical as they truly are. The evidence is all around them, but it's found in especially rich abundance on this site.

    Times have changed since August 2011, when Campos started his blog out of sheer frustration with the scam. It's widely acknowledged now that the law school scam exists. More conventional media are now willing to get involved when the law schools mock their own students with outrageous lies. And anyone with a shred of humanity left is horrified at the plundering, looting, and financial desolation effected by the pathetic individuals who get recruited to front for the scam. They're generally ignorant, hypocritical, unaccomplished, and socially inept, and there's no reason ever to be afraid of what they say.

    ReplyDelete
  39. How do we save the profession so it can properly serve clients and the public at large? We know law school is a rigged system that is not serving most of the students.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Here's an idea: students should be matched up with particular professors whose salaries are being funded by their tuition. The professors can be told, these are the 6 or so lemmings whose tuition money is providing your salary. Then, every year after graduation, the professors should have to hear just how badly their funding sources (more accurate than "students") are doing. Granted, lots of professors probably wouldn't care, but it would at least be funny.

    ReplyDelete
  41. This comment will never get published because the last thing OLSS wants to hear is criticism.

    But to sum it all up: OLSS is all feel good and smarmy, and in the big picture, this blog is about as politically impotent as its namesake profiteer with a desultory conscience whenever it is convenient to him (Campos) and about as ineffective as these lyrics:

    "A rat done bit my sister Nell.
    (with Whitey on the moon)
    Her face and arms began to swell.
    (and Whitey's on the moon)
    I can't pay no doctor bill.
    (but Whitey's on the moon).................."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Herpa derpa derp.

      Delete
    2. "I am a just a law school shill
      (and Whitey's in the classroom)"

      Delete
    3. The idea is to inform people who are young enough to make decisions about their future about how law as a career is a good option only for a very small number of people. At my first job, very soon after we started work, a HYS grad in my class working next to me said "Too many people. Not enough work." That sums up law.

      Are law schools going to be forced to reduce enrollment? Maybe over the long term as fewer prospective students decide enroll.

      Are law firms going to start hiring associates over the age of 40? Maybe over the long term when the public finally realizes that employers are not creating opportunities for younger lawyers by bringing them into careers that are not sustainable.

      Is this blog going to save many people from poor choices and a bad life? Probably yes.

      Delete
    4. No, its not "impotent". I know plenty of kids who have decided not to go to law school exactly because of this blog and others like it, including my paralegal who got a 169 on her LSAT. Things are so bad in the law school recruiting business that a dean of a law school wanted to meet with her personally to persuade her to attend his school I told her I would represent her at the meeting to ensure she negotiated for a guaranteed three year scholarship. She decided not to meet with the Dean however. I asked her why and she started pointing out a number of blogs, most of which I have never reviewed who knew existed, scared her off. Apparently there is a heck of a lot going online that is keeping students away in droves. And it is understandable if things are as bad as the bloggers and commentators say.

      Delete
    5. "This comment will never get published..."

      You were wrong. Your comment got published. And you were not just incorrect, but maliciously and spitefully deceptive. So you lied. Why did you lie? Did you think that an obvious lie could help perpetuate the law school scam? Is it that important to you that thousands of law students graduate with worthless degrees, crushing debts, and no hope for careers in law?

      Delete
    6. Jesus, the dean was prepared to meet your paralegal individually to persuade her to attend that rotten law school. That just goes to show how desperate and money-grubbing these con artists are.

      I'm glad that she turned your kind offer down: even with a guarantee of zero tuition (a better term than "scholarship"), law school would have been a questionable undertaking.

      Delete
    7. You know, some of those law schools have 10 or 12 deans sitting around. I wouldn't be at all surprised if a law school paid some guy $400,000 a year just to convince the admitted students to sign on the dotted line.

      Delete
  42. You Ass News says that lawyers have the 51st best job in the US:

    http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/lawyer

    "The job market for lawyers has improved in recent years. Law firms remain the largest source of job opportunities, but many corporations are expanding their in-house legal departments, especially financial and insurance firms and health care providers The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth of 9.8 percent for the profession between 2012 and 2022, which is slightly lower than the average for all occupations. During that time period, an additional 74,800 jobs will need to be filled. This profession ranks No. 7 on our list of Social Services Jobs."

    They know damn well that the job market for lawyers has not improved and that 74,800 openings during that ten-year period (an average of 7500 per year) do not represent growth when the law schools are adding more than 20,000 people per year to an already overflowing pool of unemployed lawyers.

    ReplyDelete
  43. One more thing to add to the pile: For someone starting a solo practice, joining the local chamber of commerce would seem to be an important way to network. However, local chambers of commerce across the country have begun behaving like private businesses, charging as much as possible to their members. Some charge thousands for "enhanced memberships" of dubious value. Even an entry-level membership in a small town chamber of commerce will easily run you $500 per year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Every other person will be a lawyer. That is the problem. With such oversupply every possible source of business is choked with lawyers.

      Delete
  44. From the US Department of Labor Employment Statistics for Attorneys:

    2012 Median Pay $113,530 per year
    $54.58 per hour
    Entry-Level Education Doctoral or professional degree
    Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
    On-the-job Training None
    Number of Jobs, 2012 759,800
    Job Outlook, 2012-22 10% (As fast as average)
    Employment Change, 2012-22: 74,800

    The main figure OLs need to look at is the 74,800. That is, there are expected to be 74,800 new jobs in the next ten years. As many will tell you on this and other blogs, older lawyers aren't retiring.

    The next numbers that OLs need to be familiar with is the LSAC figures for first year enrolled students:


    ABA First-Year Enrollment from 2004-2012 (www.lsac.org, click on Resources)

    End-of-Application-Year 48,200 48,100 48,900 49,100 49,400 51,600 52,500 48,700 44,500 -
    % change from prior year -1.3% -0.2% 1.7% 0.3% 0.7% 4.5% 1.6% -7.2% -8.7% -

    That is, in 2012, there were 44,500 admitted first year students.

    So in 2022, there is projected to be 834,600 attorney jobs. If enrollment stays at 2012 levels, there will be 445,000 admitted students to ABA law schools (of course there are also a lot of non-ABA law schools admitting students as well). Do you think that in the next ten years, 50% of the practicing lawyers will retire to make room for these new lawyers?

    There are simply not enough jobs for law graduates.

    Also, what is very troubling is that in 2004, there were 100,600 candidates and 55,900 were admitted while 48,200 were enrolled. In 2012, there were 67,900 candidates and 50,600 were admitted while 44,500 were enrolled. Generally, now, if you can fog up a mirror, you can get into law school.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have read that the average LSAT score is falling, which confirms your point and demonstrates that the smart money is getting out.

      Delete
  45. If you earned on average $113,000 as a self-employed lawyer in New York City with no benefits you are not retiring soon. A cop Is getting about $220,000 including benefits, but only $90,000 is salary and $20,000 is overtime.

    BLS would say the cop and the attorney are earning the same because they just look at cash compensation.

    Worse yet, BLS will annualize wages to determine average wages. It is not 100% clear what they do with attorneys, but this is in their explanation of how they arrive at wages for some occupations, without specifying what they do for attorneys. For other occupations, they use actual wages. So under the possible BLS methodology, two attorneys each unemployed for a half year count as a single high wage full-time job.

    That may explain why there are 1.25 million licensed attorneys but only 732,000 counted as working by the BLS. Underemployment does not factor into the BLS statistics. Every lawyer is treated as working full-time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Furthermore, the BLS's use of the terms employment and jobs doesn't correspond to the public's expectations. A job, to most people, involves regular work for wages or a salary. Self-employment does not constitute a "job".

      The projection of 74,800 "jobs" for lawyers is misleading, as it apparently includes self-employment.

      Delete
    2. Precisely. The distinction between being a licensed lawyer and employed as a lawyer is wholly lost on many (most) observers.
      Most everyone these days can get the license. Available work for license holders has no correlation to the number of license holders.

      Saying "I'm a lawyer" is a statement of a legal condition or status. It's not a statement that you have paying clients and it's certainly not a statement that you're employed by anyone.

      The only reform is for law schools to start closing.... And those at the top to start shrinking.

      Delete
  46. Just to compare apples to apples, since so many attorneys are self employed and the BLS is providing the attorney's self-employment income in its numbers, take out the cost of paying the employer portion of Social Security and Medicare if you are self-employed and the New York City unincorporated business taxes, and your $113,000 goes down to $100,000. Now take out about $30,000 for a decent family health insurance plan in New York, and your attorney is down to $70,000. Take out $10,000 for a miniscule pension contribution and another $5,000 for life insurance, disability insurance and savings to take into account that a self-employed person does not get unemployment insurance. You are down to $55,000 for your average self-employed attorney earning $113,000 in New York City. The cop got $110,000 in cash compensation, and an experienced teacher gets $108,000 before the retroactive raises that DiBlasio is about to award to public employees.

    If you are average and you are self-employed, like at least 200,000 working attorneys (and maybe many more if BLS is annualizing part-timers), you make $55,000 a year as an attorney.

    What a deal. Whiffs of a bad odor, doesn't it?

    And you thought you were going to make $160,000 before benefits.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And add in a highly (if not extremely) variable income, and for many, substantial expense in running a business.

      Delete
    2. And how much debt from the Police Academy is the cop paying off?

      Delete
    3. "You are down to $55,000 for your average self-employed attorney earning $113,000 in New York City. The cop got $110,000 in cash compensation, and an experienced teacher gets $108,000 before the retroactive raises that DiBlasio is about to award to public employees."

      People are finally beginning to get it. I feel like I am going to cry for joy. The next time some law professor tells a kid who can get admitted to a top 100 law school "what else are you going to do?" We can say we have some answers.

      Delete
  47. I wonder if many employers and human resource workers have come to regard law degrees (at least from non-elite schools) as something of a joke degree, akin to the apocryphal Degree in Underwater Basket-Weaving?

    People with non-elite law degrees would tend to be dismissed as gullible marks who spent three years either chasing a foolish dream or hiding from the real world. If that is the case then lemmings who believe that even if they can't find work as a lawyer, then at least they are improving their resume, are very much mistaken.

    ReplyDelete
  48. What law students and recent grads need is a sure-fire way to have the JD or law school expunged from their records. Wiped clean altogether.

    The degree means you're delusional, uncertain of your authentic goals, and living in the past.

    If you're presently in law school, drop out before Spring Break. Chose life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "The degree means you're delusional, uncertain of your authentic goals, and living in the past."

      That's very perceptive, and I might add that law graduates tend to be self-important as well. No doubt they're imitating their "professors" and thinking that others will be impressed.

      Delete
  49. Epic thread, guys. Just epic.

    Too bad the lawprofs couldn't join us for this one. I think their halfway-rationalized ideas just completely come apart when you mention cross-subsidization of wealthy students by minority students. Not to mention the intense shame and distress they feel at being outed as the greedy, entitled racial capitalists they really are.

    It's kind of like those fictional depictions of Superman encountering kryptonite, or vampires facing a silver cross. It just destroys them, so I understand why they couldn't handle this particular discussion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's almost as if, on some deep, sub-conscious level, they knew they were the oppressors, of students, minorities, the poor, etc., and that is why they railed so hard in their "scholarship" against other supposed oppression.

      Delete
    2. And most wealthy, pampered, entitled people are that way, not just law professors. They're trying to avenge the injustice of their own privilege, even while continuing to enjoy that privilege.

      Delete
  50. Superman is a super-hero. I wouldn't compare law professors to him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's been thoroughly documented that Brian Leiter is a superman. What are you, insolent?

      Delete
  51. We need another blog called Beyond the Law School Scam. This would show lemmings that the profession over the long term is a bad bad bet. And getting worse by the month.

    These rosy blogs make it sound like law school's a bitch, profs are asshats, and getting that first starter job is almost impossible. But, of course, students discount all this 'cause they're special.

    Ok. Ok, special snowflake. You'll win and beat the odds. You'll still be in a pile of shit ten years down the road.

    ReplyDelete
  52. http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/02/survival-strategies.html

    http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/02/syverud-.html ("there is no crisis")

    ReplyDelete
  53. Dean of Golden Gate law school:

    "Current students and recent graduates are exceptionally brave and optimistic. They are coming to law school because they really want a legal education. In the face of a difficult job market, a profession that is in a period of dramatic transformation, and even with the prospect of incurring significant debt, they want to study law, become lawyers, and have fulfilling careers. They are going against the grain, against the advice of commentators, some pre-law advisors, and probably friends and family."

    http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/02/van-cleave-.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This actually shows the law schools are seriously on the defensive. They can no longer get away with advertising law school as a rock-solid risk-free investment. They are instead appealing to the pride and vanity of foolish young people. They are saying "even we are admitting its a gamble, but a special brave snowflake like you can make it work".

      Delete
    2. I believe the term "brave" is grossly misused. "Brave" would be trekking to the North Pole properly attired. Attempting to to do it in a speedo would be something else.

      Delete
    3. Oh, yes, scam-dean, the "students" at your toilet of a law skule are a bunch of wise and noble souls, far above such base concerns as putting bread on the table. Unlike the money-grubbing generality, these exemplars of unfaltering courage are pursuing a Legal Education™ for its own sake. So steadfast and assured are they that they deftly take on a quarter of a million dollars in non-dischargeable debt at high interest for this sterling opportunity that "commentators, some pre-law advisors, and probably friends and family" foolishly disparage.

      Delete
    4. Kind of like those brave and optimistic souls who paid $600,000 for two-bedroom houses in 2006....Where are they now? Were they rewarded by the market for being brave and optimistic?

      Delete
    5. 9:10 -- You are aware that the North Pole is underwater? One cannot trek there.

      Delete
    6. Well I believe the North Pole is frozen over for all or a large part of the year, so you can walk there. Although with global warming who knows how long that will last.

      Delete
  54. "... they want to study law, become lawyers, and have fulfilling careers."

    Well folks, law school can certainly allow you to accomplish the 'study law' part, and can take you close to the 'become a lawyer' part. But it can do absolutely nothing about a 'fulfilling career' in law. Even in the good old days. Law schools merely provide a credential, not a career.

    In fact, the insane, year-after-year-after-year hyper overproduction of lawyers by law schools coupled with the proliferation of bottom-feeding law schools, has now guaranteed that the vast majority of today's practicing lawyers have anything but a fulfilling career and that a starting lawyer won't even get a career (forget the fulfilling part).

    Law schools are now in the same position as a promoter who sells 5,000 concert tickets for a 750-seat auditorium. NOBODY at the concert is going to be able to hear the music, let alone enjoy it.

    And spare us the excuse that the profession is in "a period of dramatic transformation." For the most part it's still some lawyers arguing before a court. The beleagured profession's simply doing the same thing any person does when he's been force-fed and bloated beyond belief: vomiting profusely in an attempt to lessen the contents of his swollen belly.

    So yes, today's law students are going against the grain, as are those who believe in a flat earth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Law schools are now in the same position as a promoter who sells 5,000 concert tickets for a 750-seat auditorium."

      Possibly the best description of the current law market yet.

      Delete
  55. We can blame the law schools and we can blame the ABA for doing such a pitiful job, but lets not forget to blame lawyers themselves. Lawyers don't HAVE to act like greedy, narcissists. A law firm doesn't have to have a policy of exploiting younger lawyers like so many firms do. There is no law requiring the absence of loyalty to the people who help make your practice a success . . from employers to employees and back again. As I see it, the problem is not just too many lawyers . . but too many lawyers who would stab their partners . . .associates in the back if it is good for their bottom lines. It is a profession that worships nothing but the almighty dollar. Is anybody really surprised given the types of people in this profession that it has become a garbage profession?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are entirely correct. Read Steven Harper's "The Lawyer Bubble." It is the complete abandonment of anything that resembles a profession in favor of a business model designed to create obscene profits for the tiny fraction of a percent at the top that has enabled the mess we have today. Law firms only generate such obscene profits for the few at the top by leverage. Leverage then requires churning and burning through people so that there is a perpetual relatively large class of relatively inexperienced underlings doing the grunt work and creating the profits for the few at the top.

      Even further, though, this is but a symptom of the sick, perverse, corrupt society we have at large. Our entire country and system is permeated by such greed and corruption. That produced the tech bubble, the housing bubble, the lawyer bubble, the higher education/student loan bubble in general. Our politicians are corrupted by the special interests so that no effective regulations are put in place to prevent these fiascos.

      The top players in the lawyering business are clearly to blame and corrupt. The lower players in the lawyering business understandably grab what loot they can while they can....to pay off obscene student debts and try to get a bit ahead....because almost all lawyering jobs are about as stable as quicksand.

      Delete
    2. You miss the point. Collegiality died when there was no longer enough work for everyone. Some will win and some will lose. The days when everybody got a prize belong to the past.

      Delete
    3. Unfortunately the profession seems to attract people who like to inflict harm on others.

      Delete
    4. @ 9:02 AM.

      Thanks for the HU on the book.

      I have a feeling that after your summary, I don't need to really read it because after your post - and my own experience - it would not tell me anything I didn't already know.

      Law isn't a profession anymore.

      I get so mad whenever I hear lawyers who have made it (so survivor bias in play there..) start spewing the 'noble profession' bullshit.

      At this point it's offensive, frankly.

      And they unwittingly are talking out their asses because take away their Gov't Cheese - most of these lawyers who remain moderately "successful" are on the Dole - and they'd change their tune.

      Yeah, at this point, it's like STFU.

      Delete
    5. Stop alibi-ing for the law schools.

      It's not that people suddenly went bad or became mean or that collegiality went out of fashion.

      The law schools produced so many lawyers that it created the hunger games. Even at big law firms, the associates must ensure their survival by decapitating or debilitating their classmate ( competitor).

      If you take a whole group of nice, upper middle class families, and put them into an auditorium that happens to catch on fire when there's only one narrow exit.... with a jammed door, all those lovely people will trample each other to death.

      The mess perpetuated by these institutions has ruined the profession and turned otherwise good people into back stabbers by necessity. Shame.

      A brave student would quit this afternoon

      Delete
    6. anonymous at 12:58

      The thing is - speaking as an older lawyer who made it (just, I hope), I think law should be a noble profession - I do honestly believe that. The problem is that it is not - because (and my younger self would be shocked at this statement) there is simply far too much competition and too many greedy people.

      Delete
    7. @6:48
      and the reason there is too much competition is of course simple...law schools pump out too many graduates because they make a profit on each one they pump out....and two major reasons there are too many greedy people is because i) many have to try to pay off their horrendous student debts and ii) many realize that the lawyering business is like the hunger games and you better get what you can get while you can still get it. What a disaster.

      Delete