Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Solo Path (Update)

Some of our readers may have noticed the absence of myself and Dybbuk (albeit for very different reasons).  Until our most prolific author returns, I am trying to find the time during the evenings to start posting regularly again.  I do not promise quality writing, but hopefully you find my plight entertaining.

The amount of time that I work leaves me with little free time for writing full-length posts about carefully considered topics.  I just finished the first year of taxes where I actually made enough money to pay $4k to the state and feds.  The amount of time and energy devoted to basic survival is another aspect of the law school scam—the marginally employed recent graduates have the least amount of time and resources to fight the law school propaganda machine because they must expend all energy to tread water.

I am a good example of this bind.  I enjoy the 35% of my 60-70 hour weeks that I spend on actual lawyering, but the rest is hard as hell.  “The rest” is the stuff that I have to do before I get to the lawyering.  Most of it involves promoting myself, performing well, and getting more clients.  Yet, I started taking cases as a solo practitioner not for the purpose of running a makeshift practice from a bedroom for years and years and not for the purpose of constantly commuting 3 hours a day between six courthouses and/or chasing down clients for money.  Instead, I took solo cases to gain a high degree of specific short-term experience for possible jobs.  (Note to others: starting a solo practice is not a good way to get short-term experience).

I barely make enough money to survive.  The city and surrounding localities have no jobs despite my increasingly competitive experience in criminal law.  The days get long.  Increasingly, I get angry with my idiot clients.  Most of my idiot clients have more money than me—another layer of fun irony—yet they try to screw me at every turn.  One day, a client tries to plead poverty for the third time.  Another day, the same client's mother tries to steal from me.  All normal. 

It is hard to remember sometimes how I got here.  Recently, I reminisced with another lawyer about how each of us started to get interested in the law.  We both agreed that starting from the third grade, every teacher, principle, parent, and relative told us about how we needed to go to college.  For the older generation, college made a sincere difference in earning potential, and the debt was nothing, so they all believed that the college trick would work again for our generation.  Since neither my friend nor I were science people, the only “profession” was the law.  While the influence of TV and film might have played some role in our imagination of law practice, our teachers, parents, friends, and family always seemed to believe that the law was both a powerful profession and an interesting career full of moral conundrums and logical puzzles.  Pfff.  They also drilled into us that only smart people could end up getting admitted to law school.  PFFF!  

Currently, I net as much money as I previously did working as a temporary secretary.  But I enjoy my work, and I supposedly can climb…perhaps slowly…perhaps slower than the rate of inflation.  I am aware that I may never get a job as a public defender not just because of the statistical improbability but because I now have too much particularized experience.  Maybe someday I can work as a senior trial attorney and get my debt forgiven as a backup plan in case IBR vanishes.  Statistically, based on current data, I could interview for 30 years for an entry-level PD job and still never get hired.  And by the time I am 35, I am too old to start at most jobs.  No one will hire a 35-year-old when they can hire a 25-year-old (and lay him off by 35 to hire another 25-year-old).

The greatest irony of my plight: I am a better lawyer than many of the boomer criminal lawyers with jobs and/or with the cushy gravy-train of butt-loads of assigned cases.  In our city, the boomers control the assigned counsel panels.  They can deny anyone access to the panels for any reason.  Even if they accept you onto the panel, the boomer judges still can avoid assigning you cases.  Instead, they assign cases to their buddies who provide campaign contributions.  If you are not a baby boomer with six-figures of government money flowing your way, which you can cling onto until your last breath, you have few choices besides street hustling for clients (my specialty: I wear sandwich-boards advertising legal service with a happy ending).

Even though I enjoy the actual lawyering part of my solo practice, the tight money motivates me to continue to apply to jobs.  Obviously, I rarely receive any acknowledgement that I have completed the 50 pages of application materials required for most government jobs, which can take hours.  Sometimes, I do an interview with out of touch boomers who think that they are interviewing new lawyers in the 1980s.  The interviewers usually are smug and condescending.  And many positions are filled before the show-interviews ever start.  

How do I know?  I have won a felony trial where the client was facing 15-life as a persistent felony offender and I have successful terminated 2 B felonies, 1 C felony, and I currently am representing a client with an A-2 felony.  Yet, when I check some of the websites after an interview cycle, I see many new hires with no experience but with names that match some of the senior staff.

Recently, one of the boomer interviewers (boomerviewers?) asked me why I didn't do assigned counsel work.  I just stared at him as if he had just returned from outer space after 20 years.  I reminded him that his generation of cronies had blocked new lawyers from joining the panels (well, it was an interview, so I said it nicely).  Only boomers get to keep representing indigent defendants on the taxpayer’s dollars -- the rest of us must force people to pay us on the private market!

These boomers still seem to think of law as a profession akin to medicine.  They do not see it as common street hustling, which is current reality.  They do not seem to understand that medical schools only admit limited numbers of candidates, and then they train them in paid residency programs for many years.  They do not seem to understand that law schools pump out as many idiots as possible every year, dump a substantial portion of them onto food stamps and Medicaid, and say "see ya!"  One boomer interviewer asked me if it was ethical for me to represent felony clients because I went solo out of law school two years ago -- for which I snapped back, "Only when I win."  I also wanted to snap back, "When was the last time you lifted a finger to train a young lawyer or to help anyone except yourself."

I receive a lot of preachy advice both online and in my personal life.  Move!  Settle!  Do something else!  I guess I could try to cast an even wider net when applying for shitty jobs.  I could try to get into a prosecutors’ or public defenders’ office in Bumblefuck Nowhere for $30k/year and poverty-style living.  After 10 years of that, I may have debt forgiveness and enough experience to return to a city location where my husband and I don't have to worry about people assaulting us in the street, throwing bottles out of cars at us, or just generally yelling "faggot" if we happen to walk down the sidewalk even with our three-year-old nephew next to us.  (If these things can happen on Long Island, I don't want to think about the pitchforked mobs in Bumblefuck Nowhere.)  Or I can take the civil service exam and make up a lie for what I've been doing for the last five years.  If I am lucky, I could be a file clerk.


  1. I am shocked at the idea that a court would allow lawyers to run a panel as a monopoly; however, there is a flip side to that coin. Given the number of lawyers out there putting everyone on the list (which is the right thing to do) would amount to everyone getting very little work. A friend of mine who is a probate judge tells me he is getting requests for assignments from lawyers who will have to drive 150 miles round trip to his court. They get paid $35 per hour for any work not in a courtroom and for some unknown reason they get paid only for their time driving to court, not for driving home. So figure getting paid $17.50 - not enough to cover your gas - for three hours' driving. That is how saturated the market is hereabouts and that is what happens when everyone gets on the panel. I agree with you that panels should be open but I'm not sure how much of a solution it would be to your problem.

    1. "I am shocked at the idea that a court would allow lawyers to run a panel as a monopoly..."

      Why? Did you really think that courts and judges are that honest?

    2. 5:42 here. No, not in the least. It's the fact that they are honest enough to openly admit it that shocks me.

    3. 5:42 here again. My math was wrong. You'd get $26.25 for your three hour round trip. That's $8.75 an hour, just a shade over minimum wage in this state. Makes you want to hang up a shingle, doesn't it?

    4. I think your math's still off? For a 3 hour drive, split into 2 separate 1.5 hour parts, and given the "drive to" part is covered by the $35/hr formula but the "drive home" part is not, you'd get 52.50 for the drive up. If you map that onto the entire 3 hour drive, you get 17.50 per hour for driving.

      But like they say, lawyers don't do math, so I could be wrong.

  2. A cultural problem we have, in general, is that we think we know everything about everybody even though we really don't. Boomers are a big example of this. My office is full of ex-private practice Boomer attorneys who don't understand why kids just don't get a job these days, or why they are still paying their loans after five years. They will just opine about this to the open air, as if the question was novel, and as if anybody else in the office cares what their opinion is.

    When I take the bait and show them actual data; actual current tuition prices and interest rates for law school student loans, LST, NY Times articles, etc. etc. etc., their eyes widen significantly. They just didn't know, but they were happy to sit in judgment over all those "stupid people," while being ignorant themselves. And controling the assigned counsel board cartel for their cronies in the interim, as AdamB stated.

    That old native-american proverb about "never criticize a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins" makes more and more sense to me every day. I generally try to keep my mouth shut because of it. But I'm a "slacker" Gen-Xer, you see, and don't know anything.

    1. Imagining The Open ToadApril 11, 2014 at 8:01 AM

      You mention that when you show these older ex-private practice office mates the real data, that their eyes widen in surprise.

      But what I wonder is, 'does it stick'? I've done this before - got out hard data and showed it to some older guys, surprising the heck out of them by how bad things really are vs. what they remember of the good ol' days.

      But then next week, these guys had reverted to their former way of thinking. It was almost as if the conversation never happened.

      From my old school days and a couple of classes in psychology, I think this was referred to as an inability to internalize data that contradicts an established "schema" or some such.

    2. Imagining The Open ToadApril 11, 2014 at 8:03 AM

      P.S. Do you mind saying generally what type of work you do / office you are referring to? (Obv, ok if not). Apologize also if this is old ground but I am kind of sporadic in my visits here and may have missed it.

    3. As to the former, it doesn't stick that well; agreed. People generally have made up their minds and actual evidence does little to move them, especially if it conflicts with a deeply-held belief. Part of the general human condition, I guess.

      As for the latter, insurance adjuster. "JD-Advantage" FTW, baby! el-oh-el.

    4. "When I take the bait and show them actual data; actual current tuition prices and interest rates for law school student loans, LST, NY Times articles, etc. etc. etc., their eyes widen significantly. They just didn't know, but they were happy to sit in judgment over all those "stupid people," while being ignorant themselves. And controling the assigned counsel board cartel for their cronies in the interim, as AdamB stated."

      There was a researcher who looked at mens' attitude towards sexual discrimination in the workplace; he/she found that the biggest change was when their daughters entered the workforce and were discriminated against. Before then, they probably didn't see it.

    5. Imagining The Open ToadApril 11, 2014 at 8:32 AM

      Thanks for response. LOL indeed on "JD-A" type jobs. I posted (6:42) regarding TFL (but forgot to use my usual handle). Anyway, another thread over there is on the supposed "increase" in percent FTLT jobs for 2013 grads (which is actually less than half a percent once you trim out the (increased) school-funded jobs and solos).

      One prof who's bounced her way up through an amazing array of true JD-A jobs (IMO, jobs gotten based on connections+merit or connections alone, but unlikely to be merit alone - congressional staffer, e.g.) commented that she "just can't understand" why people are sarcastic about the JD-A category since she's had a string of them and look where she ended up.

      But hey - for some unsolicited and potentially unwanted advice, take a serious look at State Farm if you are anywhere near any of their regional office plexes. Not for adjuster, but for underwriter or claims rep. I have an old "frenemy" who works for them as an underwriter (or worked for them - haven't crossed paths in a couple years) and she said they hire degreed people only, but don't care what the degree is, and she claimed to be making over $70K after becoming experienced there.... I would guess other major players (Chubb, Allstate, and the like) may have similar models.


    6. Part of it, too, is one of the absolute truths of the universe: You will not get very far by expecting other people to care about your problems. They got theirs.

    7. A month ago I told a Judge who came out of biglaw how real estate lawyers in our state are offering discount felony defense services leaving even veteran defense lawyers scrambling for business. (The situation has been mentioned in our state's one "legal" newspaper.) I told her how people who never did divorce work are now doing it, crowding out the market while the Chief Justice of our Supreme Court has publicly spoken of the efforts the clerks have been ordered to make to life as easy as possible for pro se divorce litigants to make life easier for the courts. This Judge looked shocked, and she is in the damned courthouse every day. No doubt she, too, had forgotten about it by the next day.

  3. Folks really ought to get over to TFL and see the sights. Steve Freedman (asst admin dean at Kansas) is running a multi-part series, with parts 1, 2 published so far.

    Here's Part 1 and its title/sub:

    #1 - Intro - Enroll Today!

    Why 2017-2018 Will Be a Fantastic Time to Graduate from Law School

    1. Some excellent comments under it, and under Part #2.

      He has closed comments on his 2nd post which in turn caused Prof. Campos to write this:

    2. Sorry -- but what's "TFL"?

    3. The faculty lounge. A breeding ground of brilliant academic thought for the 21st century.

    4. Hmmmm....I've got to say, LSTC, that I never know if you're being serious or not.

  4. Have you thought about doing some favors for these judges? Maybe you can't afford to invest in making campaign contributions, but could you volunteer on a judge's campaign and earn some brownie points that way?

    1. And anything worthwhile will still go to the campaign contributors, family and friends.

    2. If he does some work for the judge's campaign, maybe he could become one of his friends. Not saying its easy, just saying its possible. Getting involved in politics, not necessarily as a candidate but as an active supporter of candidates, can be a great way to make connections. Politics affects everyone, so there is usually quite a cross-section of people involved with the campaigns, and it costs nothing other than time (not trivial, I realize) to volunteer.

    3. 6:46, I was involved in politics for many, many years and I am here to tell you that the only way you will ever get anything out of a politician is by forking over the green stuff.

  5. Imagining The Open ToadApril 11, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    AdamB - just... ouch. Speechless. Don't know what to say. But thanks for taking the time and effort to share this info.

  6. Consider this whopper published today by Mr. Brian Leiter of the Uber-prefstigious U Chi LS:

    "One surmises that at least part of what is happening is that (1) students waivering about going to law school are realizing that they don't have other tangible professional plans...".


    Looks as though Leiter deserves a good spanking from Bryan Garner.

    I can almost forgive self-interested hacks that shill for the law-school-industrial-complex. But when it comes to poor mercy.

    1. I don't want to give He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named a page click (so I won't go check it myself), but may one surmise that you are serious that the Great-And-All-Powerful-He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named actually confused "waivering" with "wavering"?

      LOL, if so. The Great Poet olbaP arudeN indeed.

    2. "Insolent prole! You shall pay for your impertinence!"

    3. Right. Leiter's at U Chicago, and so is Fabulous Fab, Fabrice Tourre = former trader for Goldman Sachs, prosecuted for flipping, in his words "toxic" mortgage backed securities to "widows and orphans at the airport," while shorting the same vehicle.

      So, what have we learned? U Chicago rewards frauds. It likes frauds. Higher education is a fraud. It should die, quickly.

    4. Leiter published a similar whopper within the last few months, and obviously doesn't realize it. A well-informed source tells me it's going to explode in Leiter's impeccably groomed face any day now.

  7. Inter-generational warfare. Consider how you vote. I say, cut all medicare and let nature take its course. Lawyers do not retire the way normal workers do. We need more lawyers retiring or dying, and fewer new graduates entering. Seriously, cut medicare!

  8. Well, just to add some thoughts here, if there's an excess in demand than supply then there would be an excess of number of graduates versus the available jobs related to the legal profession. Nevertheless, society will always need lawyers and of course new graduates.

    1. Supply and demand has got nothing to do with law schools using bogus job figures to lure people into taking on crippling debt.

  9. Adam, good to see you post an update. I see your posts on JDU every now and then and have been wondering how it's going.

    I understand a boomer who doesn't interview not understanding that the market is different from 1985. But an interviewer? Did they not notice the escalating credentials of the candidates? Did they not notice the large stack of applications with people 2 years out applying? Don't they put 2 and 2 together? Don't the private firms at least notice how it's harder to get business now than it was 20 years ago?

  10. Not clear when or where you went to law school or what you expected.

    When I went (a long time ago), most people at my law school got summer jobs after their 2L year and most got 3L jobs in the fall of third year. That was true of the class ahead of me and of my class. I would have dropped out if I had not gotten a summer job after 2L year, or if I had seen many of those ahead of me not getting jobs.

    What was less clear was what happened down the road. However, I did not know many or even any unemployed or underemployed lawyers back then. Not all lawyers I knew thrived, but no one I knew was unemployed.

    Sort of hard to understand why those who are going to end up as solos from the get go, would not realize this will be their fate when it is early enough to get out without massive financial damage.

    Of course, some lawyers with really good records get laid off or no offered and end up jobless, but that does not sound like your case.

    The expectations may not have been realistic for you from the outset, given what was happening at your law school and with you specifically. It is sort of hard to complain if you go to a low ranked or even middle-ranked law school and end up with a bad outcome. Even years ago when the profession was less crowded, there were relatively few people with good outcomes from the schools below the top.

    1. Look at the start of your second sentence: "When I went (a long time ago)..."


      Of course long ago everyone got jobs! That's the problem. People still think it's like that today.

      These days, tuition is five to ten times higher and THERE ARE NO JOBS.

      It's not about "expectations". Adam is a hardworking, competent, and experienced young lawyer and he's just scraping by. In the old days, he would walk into a prosecutor or public defender position, or his solo practice would give him a better income than a fucking secretary.


      Fucking boomers.

    2. The point is that I went to a T5 law school. My law school for the class of 2013 has NO LAWYERS IN SOLO PRACTICE, at least right out of law school, according to the ABA report I was looking at just this morning.

      The outcome you are having would be possible, but highly unusual, for a T5 grad even today. If you got laid off, or no offered after your 2L summer, you could do what you are doing, but you WILL GET HIRED BY A LAW FIRM with a year or two of experience in a practice area that mid-sized or large law firms work in. It may take you a year or 2 1/2 years - the legal job market is weak - but no one from T5 school will be forever a solo, even in this market. You need to tread water by getting experience in a practice area and looking, looking and looking.

      What I am saying is that while there are many people with excellent outcomes from non-T5 or T-10 schools, they are the exception and not the rule.

      It was the same for boomers and the same for the World War II generation of my parents. Going to any law school below Columbia or Chicago presented a big risk of a poor outcome.

      The job market for first years and for all lawyers is worse now than when I graduated because of the oversupply of lawyers graduated and being graduated by the law schools, for years and years. Columbia and Harvard have close to 10% of their 2013 classes unemployed, underemployed or in short-term jobs, counting law school funded jobs as short-term. I was just looking at these numbers in the 2013 ABA report this morning. In my mind, even they are scamming people - their classes are much too large. A $250,000 degree at these schools should virtually guarantee a full-time permanent, non-law school funded job as a lawyer or in a law-related job.

      What I am saying is that if you are going to a law school below the T5, you need to keep your eyes and ears open from the outset. From the second you arrive at law school, it should be obvious that the outcomes are not good for many people, by just talking to law students in the classes above you. If the outcomes are poor for such a substantial number of people, don't continue throwing good money after bad. Drop out. Do not finish law school. But do not put your head in the sand, keep going to the bitter end and then complain about what was the likely outcome for a large portion of the class from the day you arrived at law school.

      I only went to law school because I got into a T5 that is still a T5 and has been a T5 since I went. I would have walked from law school without finishing if the employment outcomes for me and for just about everyone else in my school had not been positive.

      This is about being realistic. Boomers had to be realistic, as did my parents generation.

      Some - actually many - very good lawyers are out of work later in their careers- a different story from yours- and a major problem for even the Harvard and Columbia Law graduates. But going to a school where a substantial number of graduates end up with bad employment outcomes - that is and always was a foregone conclusion even before the ABA and law schools supplied employment data in the detail they supply it today. It was the same when I started law school.

      I think it is important to publish your story. I appreciate it greatly. But the moral is to understand that this is a likely result if you are not at a T5 law school. You may win the lottery from these schools, and start in a great job, but most people at these schools don't.

      You make your bed. You lie in it.

    3. Let me put it differently so you get it. If you had been a boomer and went to the same law school back then, you would have had the same lousy employment outcomes. Sure, a few people from your law school would have excelled, but most would have been stuck in solo hell.

      The only difference between you and the boomers may be unrealistic expectations. The lower tier law schools in each city and in fact everything below the T5 produced horrific employment outcomes when the boomers were in law school, and still produce those horrific outcomes.

      If you are looking at the people who rose above that, you are looking at the 10% of the class that beat the odds.

    4. "I would have dropped out if I had not gotten a summer job after 2L year, or if I had seen many of those ahead of me not getting jobs."

      Do you really think that you would have? Why? You would have invested two years in law school and you believe that you would not have gone for one more year just to get your degree? Even when, in your day, tuition was about 1/8th of what it is now, you still wouldn't have finished?

      I don't believe you. I believe that you are just simply being arrogant or naïve in your assumptions about what you would or would not have perceived 25, 30, 40 years ago.

    5. "The point is that I went to a T5 law school. My law school for the class of 2013 has NO LAWYERS IN SOLO PRACTICE, at least right out of law school, according to the ABA report I was looking at just this morning."

      Why is that any kind of point? Congrats for going to a T5 back in the day. It doesn't mean that you know what the situation is like today.

      Consider the following percentage of the 2013 class that are employed in school funded jobs (as a percentage of law school graduates in the 2013 class at that law school):

      1. George Washington (88)/603 14.6%
      2. Georgetown (73)/645 11.3%
      3. Virginia (58)/364 15.9%
      4. William & Mary (43)/217 19.8%
      5. NYU (42)/537 7.8%
      6. American (37)/507 7.3%
      7. UCLA (31)/332 9.3%
      8. Columbia (29)/437 6.6%
      9. Berkeley (25)/301 8.3%
      10. Illinois (20)/231 8.7%

      NYU is ranked No. 6
      Virginia is No. 8
      Berkeley is No. 9
      Georgetown is No. 13
      UCLA is No. 16

      I have no idea what these law schools could have their graduates do, but it is solely for the purpose of pumping up their employment stats.

    6. "The only difference between you and the boomers may be unrealistic expectations."

      No, that's not the difference. The differences are

      1) Tuition that is typically 3 to 5 times higher than it was in, say 1980, even after adjusting for inflation

      2) A hyper-saturated, as opposed to saturated, job market (Law schools have always produced more lawyers than needed)

      3) NON-DISCHARGEABLE DEBT that has destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives.

      And it is these 3 differences (especially No 3) that have turned law school from a possibly wasted 3 years into a life-destroying experience for hundreds of thousands of people.

    7. Please explain what you were thinking when you went through law school. What types of jobs was the class ahead of you at law school getting? Did you have a paid summer job after 2L year? What made you think law school was a good choice for you if the answers to these questions are negative?

      Did you notice how much you were borrowing to attend law school? Did you ever think about whether, when and how you would repay it? Did you calculate the monthly cost of repayment while you were piling on the debt, assuming you took on debt?

      The question is what you were thinking about in terms of debt and your likely job options before and during law school? Honestly, if you thought about big law, was that warranted based on what was going on with the class above you at your law school?

      As a baby boomer many years ago at a top school, fully paid for, low tuition, pretty full employment in good jobs for my law school, none of the pitfalls of law school were obvious to me, at least while attending law school. That is not to say it was a good decision attend - it wasn't for me.

      I want to know why people with bad outcomes in terms of debt and/ or likely job placement are putting themselves through this law school fiasco without stopping themselves before they get under water in debt with no employment options to pay the debt off.

    8. 9:14 I would have dropped out after the first semester of 2L if I had not found a summer job (mine was in big law) during that first semester. Costs were much lower then. My parents paid, and paying medical school would not have been an issue. It was not that expensive back then.

      As someone from a T5 law school, I had the option for medical school. Most people in the T30 law schools may have an option for medical school.

      The point is to cut your losses. Why finish a degree that is not going to get you a decent job? Chuck it. Sure you have some debt after a year plus of law school, but it is better to cut your losses half way through.

      Work at retail and volunteer at a hospital, school or in a tech capacity somewhere if you can get it. Take a relevant class at a community college for peanuts. Earn some money in retail and look for a better job at the same time. Move in with your parents to save living expenses. Look for a career in a sector with more options - education, healthcare, tech.

      Yes, you have $75,000+ of debt from that one plus year of law school, but it is not as bad as going forward with a lost cause of a career.

      Honestly, I wish law school had not worked out for me. Turned out to be the wrong career for many reasons, but mostly because the experienced job market for lawyers and the job stability for lawyers are both awful today. You have to be the most likable person in your class to work long-term or you have to be a business producer to work long term as a lawyer today. Not good for most people and terrible for me.

      But I had 30+ good years in law, and have a job as a lawyer now.

      In healthcare or even education, I would have had more of the job stability I wish I had and would have been able to work until I wanted to retire - -something most lawyers today cannot do. I also would not have had a desk job - what I have been stuck in for many years.

      My job could end tomorrow, and I may have great difficulty getting another one. That is the nature of law today.

      You should have no qualms about chucking law school if you are not going to get a good job.

    9. "The outcome you are having would be possible, but highly unusual, for a T5 grad even today. If you got laid off, or no offered after your 2L summer, you could do what you are doing, but you WILL GET HIRED BY A LAW FIRM with a year or two of experience in a practice area that mid-sized or large law firms work in. It may take you a year or 2 1/2 years - the legal job market is weak - but no one from T5 school will be forever a solo, even in this market. You need to tread water by getting experience in a practice area and looking, looking and looking."


      This is flat-out wrong.

      Today, in 2014, if you start out small (solo) or doc review from NYU, you're no better off than a standard toileteer. The clock is ticking against you and especially after passing the one-year mark. Today, in 2014, your first job determines your second, etc. And everything is downward pressure, never up. There's a new crop from NYU to compete with after a year's time. The person left behind from the prior year has only the stigma of solo practice or, God Forbid, doc review. No firm wants any of that. Not one. Nor government, etc. Again, there's always a new crop. Once you are left behind at the races today, in 2014, the odds are 95-5 you'll ever catch up.

      So, that $250k paid to NYU wasn't worth more than a toileteer's degree. Today, in 2014, people from even the top schools, including NYU and Michigan, are being left behind. These people either stay solo or latch on to small firms where they toil in obscurity with their supposedly gold-plated degree. Or, they leave law. In any case, they are usually never heard from again. Think carefully on even top law schools unless you can go free and have solid connections.

    10. "Honestly, I wish law school had not worked out for me. Turned out to be the wrong career for many reasons, but mostly because the experienced job market for lawyers and the job stability for lawyers are both awful today."

      That's odd because the Dean of Yale Law Schools said there is a "drastic undersupply of lawyers":

      @ 1:30

    11. Almost no one from NYU went solo directly from law school in 2013. Cannot tell if anyone did document review, but the number has to be very small, if any.

      There were almost no solos from the T5 in 2013, according to the ABA, and it is unlikely that any new NYU Law graduate did doc review.

      Some people go solo with some experience - a little different. Some people also take high level doc review jobs at large firms at a high salary. Again different from what you are referring to.

      I think doc review or solo right out of NYU is rare. I also think NYU may have a contingent of wealthy women students who are never going to big law and some of whom may show up as law school funded or a like category. That 2% will skew the apparent "bad outcomes" up when they are not bad outcomes for the women involved.

    12. I watched the video, 6:08, and to be fair I think what the Dean was saying was that there are tons of people out there who cannot get justice because they cannot afford to hire a lawyer, and that if there was a way to pay lawyers to help everyone there would be a huge shortage of lawyers. I tend to agree with that.

  11. Law schools seem to massively harm the self-righteous types who love to attend, ironically. The social justice professors eat their own kids' futures.

    Only top schools might be worth it - even then only with a discount.

  12. Tuition is much higher than for boomers. Means you need to be much more careful before going. Also big law jobs are a high percentage of the high paying jobs and mostly last a few,years. After that the employment outcomes are uncertain.

  13. "Yale or fail."

  14. The point is that people ought to be able to notice the hyper-saturated legal job market while they are in law school. Even without placement statistics, you ought to be able to find out if those ahead of you in law school are getting jobs and what kind of jobs they are getting. You ought to act (i.e., drop out) on the basis of those observations and your chances of making the law degree work for you.

    Most of the schools listed a few comments above were very risky in the days of the boomers. If you are not going to a T5, you are taking a big risk going to law school. You were always taking a big risk at those schools, even in my parents' time. NYU, number 6, was not ever and still is not a safe bet if you want to be employed. Sure, many graduates are very successful, but many are also unemployed or underemployed.

    My parents paid for law school at a time when tuition was lower and money was not an issue for us. If you are paying your own way, the high cost should be a huge deterrent, especially for a law school not in the T5. The employment options are a bigger issue. If you have no employment options that make good use of your law degree after graduation or have to be a solo, you have made a mistake attending, even with a full scholarship. There is an opportunity cost in not doing something else with a higher chance of making a good living.

    It is silly to think that the placement numbers outside the T5 were that much better years ago. They weren't. Some schools have ballooned in class size (Columbia for example from 275 a class years ago to 460 per class a couple of years ago, accounting for their failure to place a large number of their graduates and declining admissions standards now.) There was no internet for people to complain to - that is another big difference.

    Honestly, the baby boomers in good legal jobs are the 10%- the few survivors. They are not the majority of baby boomer lawyers, but rather the few big winners. Hate them if you want. The truth is that anyone younger who is a lawyer should aspire to be as successful career-wise as the survivors you hate.

    1. I went to law school in the mid-80s at a (what was then) T30. Yes, it was different. You maintain that the placement numbers were not better years ago. Yes, they were. First of all, everyone I knew got a summer paid clerkship first and second summers. The word "intern" was never used to describe any legal work. Secondly, there were plenty of government jobs for law grads who failed to get a job with a firm. A government job was seen as a conciliation prize. Now, everyone wants a government job. Also, and actually more important, the mean age of practicing lawyers was much younger. Now, the profession is top heavy with too many overpaid partners.

    2. No one in my class at a T5 had a paid clerkship their first summer, at least no one I knew.

      Maybe at a law school rated 30 the job market was a little better in the 1980s than now.

      At the lower tier schools, there were surely very limited employment opportunities in my time. I never ran into grads of the lowest tier law schools in my area - ever. Some of the other schools - below 30 - placed many lawyers, but also did not place many lawyers. I don't know what the placement was back then for a school ranked at 30. For the class of 2013, it was about 50%. It is not clear that placement rate was 100% at that school in the mid-1980s.

      I think it is harder now, no question. But it was never easy from a school ranked below 30 or so.

    3. When did you graduate?

    4. Long time ago.

      Just to answer the comment above about law school funded jobs, in my law school class, with few women, there was a contingent of women, none right out of college, that were not going to go to big law. There were women who already lived in what would be today multimillion dollar residences, and women whose spouses had elite jobs. The were women in the real designer clothes (custom and not ready-made) and women and some men from wealthy family. There were just some women who did not want big law. Many of these would have been happy with a law school funded job, if there was one then. Money was not a consideration. They had kids or wanted kids. They wanted a job, but not so much of a job to go to a big law firm or any law firm for that matter. These people ended up at non-profits, in a family business or some not working at all from what I can tell.

      The point is for top schools in major cities, and it may be hard to believe this, there are people going for the law degree who never intend to go into private practice and do not need to or intend to live on what they make as a lawyer, if it is anything like the past. Yes, they have enough money to not have to borrow in a way that their debt is known by the law school in order to attend. You need to look at the numbers and realize there is a percentage in the poor employment statistics that does not reflect the failing of the law school, but rather the very different expectations of the rich from getting a prestigious law degree.

  15. There is a mistaken impression here that law was not a risky proposition in the past. That lawyers from lower and less than top-ranked schools all got jobs as lawyers and worked as long as they wanted, and that the current generation of lawyers and law students was the first to be scammed.

    This is mostly untrue. Graduates of low ranked law schools could never find work. Some worked a s paralegals and some not at all, even years ago. Large and mid-sized law firms employed mostly graduates of top schools, even years ago. A few graduates of less than top schools got good jobs in private practice and a few more in house. However, the low ranked schools supplied few of these graduates. They were the exception, not the rule. Graduates of middling law schools often could not find work, even years ago.

    This generation was not the first to be scammed by law schools. It was simply the first to be able to tell their story of scamming on the internet.

    1. There are two issues here: (1) the legal job market, and (2) the debt.

      The real scam occurred when tuition went through the roof and the average student now graduates law school with $150K in debt. In the past, if you couldn't get a legal job, there were still other options because you weren't in indentured servitude.

    2. The poster at 6:07 PM is correct in that this generation is not the first to be scammed by law schools. However, I am hoping that this generation will be the last. And with dropping enrollment, it may very well be.

    3. responding to 6:07

      1) there are many more lower ranked schools today than a couple of decades ago
      2) things may always have been bad for grads from the bottom, but they have certainly gotten worse

    4. This generation is the first generation to be burdened with the ball and chain of NON-DISCHARGEABLE debt.

      And it's NON-DISCHARGEABLE debt that has turned law school from a possibly wasted 3 years scam into a life-destroying scam from hundreds of thousands of people.

  16. Subject: Vermont Law


    Vermont Law is a different kind of law school, in a different kind of place. We are looking for technologists, socially conscious risk-takers, and environmentally minded entrepreneurs with big ideas. We are looking for creative, disruptive change agents who understand that making an impact on the world — in the private, public, or social sector — requires the tools of the -law to get things done. We are looking for pragmatic idealists and advocates who see a law degree as the start not only of a constructive career, but of a meaningful life.

    1. And then stay on campus to get an LLM in Buzzword Law.

    2. should have just left it alone after the first two lines.

  17. Subject: Valparaiso Law April E-Newsletter
    Dear ____,

    The academic year is winding down, and it’s been fun to see the current 1Ls come full-circle from slightly overwhelmed in fall, to confident students in the spring. Two weeks ago, 1Ls interested in being on Law Review submitted their case comments for judging, and they are now waiting to hear who will be members next year. This week, tryouts for our student advocacy groups (Trial Advocacy, Moot Court, and International Moot Court) are being held. Students are required to give oral arguments in front of current group members to test their advocacy skills. Being a member of either Law Review or an advocacy team gives students valuable writing and research experience, and they are a great asset to your legal resume.

    Keep in mind that the application deadline of June 1 is quickly approaching. I hope you’re in the process of applying, and if you have any questions or concerns, I’m more than happy to help. I can be reached at ... or (219)465-7821.


    Running & Fitness Club to Host 5K

    The Law School’s Running & Fitness Club is hosting the Ambulance Chase 5k Fun Run on April 12, beginning at the University’s Athletics and Recreation Center. In past years, the race has drawn about 75-100 runners, and even more are expected this year—students, alumni, local attorneys, as well as the general public participate. An ambulance will actually follow and “chase” the runners. All proceeds will go to the Crisis Center in Gary, Indiana.

    Law School Students, Staff, and Faculty Participate in Diversity Presentation

    On March 24, the Law School hosted Verna Myers, of Verna Myers Consulting Group, to speak to students, staff, and faculty about diversity and its effect on business relationships. Myers is a nationally recognized expert on diversity issues within law firms, and her presentation, What if I say the wrong thing? Becoming a Culturally Effective Professional, provided an interactive discussion about how diversity does not necessarily mean inclusion. “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance,” said Myers. More than 300 Law School students, staff, and faculty attended the event.


    Monsanto Lecture

    The annual Monsanto Lecture was held on April 10. Associate Dean Ellen Smith Pryor of the University of North Texas Dallas School of Law presented Teaching Torts in the 21st Century. The legal landscape in the early part of the 21st century reflects fundamental changes in tort lawyering, legal education, and the legal marketplace. Tort reform has drastically limited broad swaths of traditional plaintiff’s practice, while insurer-funded defense work has also changed dramatically... The Lecture addressed the ways in which the traditional first-year course or upper level tort-related courses can be modified in ways that take account of these changes. It also explored ways in which legal instruction will continue to evolve away from a focus on case law in order to enable students to develop the professional competencies called for in the current legal environment.

    Upcoming Events at Valparaiso Law

    April 7-10: Moot Court and International Moot Court tryouts
    April 9: National Lawyers Guild meeting
    April 10: Career Planning Center Atrium Day & Monsanto Lecture
    April 11: Military & Veterans Law Student Association Student Veterans Conference & Latino Law Student Association Fiesta del Sol
    April 14: Amnesty International Lecture
    April 17: Christian Legal Society Passover Dinner
    April 21-30: 1L Oral Arguments
    April 24: Law Review Banquet
    April 25: Environmental Law Society Arbor Day Tree Giveaway, Admitted Student Open House, & 3L Cane Walk
    April 29: Last day of classes
    May 1: Final examinations begin
    May 17: Champagne Reception for May graduates
    May 18: Graduation
    May 19: Summer classes begin
    June 25: Cambridge/London Study Abroad Program begins

  18. Monsanto funds a lecture at Valpo? No doubt on environmental law.