Friday, September 19, 2014

ABA periodical touts JD-Advantage careers, such as "time traveling sleuth" and "music aficionado turned entrepreneur."

As dupednontraditional noted in his last post ("JD-Disadvantage, Part V"), commenters on a recent thread at JD Underground found numerous examples of help wanted ads announcing that, sorry, JDs will not be considered. And check out some of those positions—litgation coordinator, banking compliance specialist, immigration specialist, litigation paralegal, and "Justice Advocate" for a nonprofit. Stuff that a JD might be good at, where his or her brutally expensive professional studies might come in handy from time-to-time. But, such is the reputation of our professional education and degree, that the employer nonetheless specifies no JD applicants. That's not JD Disadvantage, that's JD Disqualification.

Well, at least the ABA periodical "Student Lawyer" has acted responsibly and warned its young readership of this disturbing phenomenon. After all, the purpose of this publication is to "provide[ ] guidance on educational, career, and related issues for ABA Law Student Division members and other subscribers."

No, just kidding. Rather, the cover story of the most recent edition of Student Lawyer assures readers that the range of nonlaw careers where a JD can utilize his or her legal education is "vast." The article, by GM Filisko, is entitled "Finding Your Non Law Niche," and opens with some priceless hype about "the good news." [1]
"Sometimes, you just know. And for some in law school, what you know is that practicing law through a typical legal employer would never make your heart sing. At the same time, you know the value of a legal education, which is why you chose law school in the first place.  The good news is that if you’re looking for a career that takes advantage of your legal education but doesn’t pigeonhole you into the legal field, the range of career choices is vast—and there are probably options you haven’t even considered yet. Here, four law school-educated professionals talk about their nonlegal careers and offer advice for students in search of their own niche."
As promised, the article then briefly profiles four law school educated professionals who are enjoying nonlaw careers. The four JD–Advantage niche careers are: "deal maker," "PR pro," "time traveling sleuth," and "music aficionado turned entrepreneur." (You see, nonlaw opportunities are not only vast, they are also cool!  Wouldn’t you rather be a time traveling sleuth than some boring old banking compliance specialist?)

The "time traveling sleuth," which is actually the author’s cutesy term for private investigator, states that "being a lawyer lets me rise to the top of my profession." But the sleuth is short on specifics, other than that he has benefited by knowing the law. So perhaps further evidence is needed before concluding that spending $200,000 in law school tuition and expenses is the best way to prosper as a gumshoe.

The "music aficionado turned entrepreneur"—one Marc Luber—wanted to work in the music industry. He therefore went to law school because he knew that the music industry deals with contracts and in law school you learn about contract law. Luber did do “music-related licensing” after graduation, but he abandoned that to found a website called "JD Careers Out There."  

Luber explains that the JD Advantage magic exists, but you may have to wait a while for it to show up—like 10 years after graduating. "I think it’s pretty common for most people who end up using their degree for something other than law to feel they’ve benefited as a result of having that degree. . . They often don’t feel that way for the first 10 years after graduating, but I think they do start to feel that way."

The "deal maker"—a commercial real estate management executive—explains that he found law school valuable because "When you’re going through transactional classes in law school, it’s a great thing to really bang into your head early on that maybe what you need to do is an analysis of what each side wants so there’s a way to make a deal." I am still puzzling over that comment. I mean, do really you need three years of law school head-banging to learn that deals are often preceded by this thing called "negotiation" where you may have to think about the other party’s objectives?

The PR pro is the only one of the four to be genuinely JD-Advantaged—but his job is law firm marketing, indeed a niche, and not likely to be available to recent grads. 

You know, these days the mismatch of lawyers to law jobs and the disruptive effects of technological change on the profession are occasionally acknowledged by ABA muckety-mucks and even law school deans. But I have never heard any of them acknowledge the existence of the toxic law degree issue. 

It does not take a time traveling sleuth to realize that the scam has pivoted to target young persons of average to below-average intelligence and sophistication, which is arguably more morally repugnant than scamming the comparatively bright and resourceful, who at least have a greater ability to bounce back. Thus, the need to continually alert the public to pro-law school propaganda and to patiently explain that no, a law degree will probably not yield an exciting niche career as a time-traveling, music-loving, unicorn-riding entrepreneur, no matter how many decades elapse after graduation day.

-----------------------------------
note:

[1]  A synopsis of the article is available here. 

http://www.americanbar.org/publications/student_lawyer/2014-15/september/finding_your_nonlegal_niche.html        

The full article was available online a couple of days ago, but no longer. I assume you can obtain the article by becoming a print subscriber for $25, but I do not recommend it.


39 comments:

  1. I like the articles that take down myths of jd. My 20 year old self fell for many of those, hopefully this blog help those behind to reliaze that JD is well marketed PR stunt

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  2. I have not and will not read the ABA article. Any such discussion of "alternate jobs." "JD advantage jobs," etc. is just crap because the law degree is useless without actual practical experience as an attorney. The reason there are so many postings with "No JDs" is because people are well aware that the hyper-theoretical nature of a legal education does not translate into any of the skills required for most jobs.

    I am amazed, though, at the percentage of law students now attending law school who have no desire to practicing law but some how decided that getting a law degree will help them "follow their dream." I would guestimate that percentage at around 20 to 25%. What the vast majority of those students are doing is simply wasting time and acquiring debt.

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    1. Exactly. The "conventional wisdom" that a JD would be a good graduate degree for the business arena doesn't sound crazy on its face - one would think contracts, business associations, employment law, tax, etc. etc. etc. would be good things to learn about. Some people, thinking they are playing "hardball", sometimes make disasterous business decisions and make things worse, so understanding of "how the law works" ought to be good, rite?

      That was before all the data came back from the labor market in easily-obtainable form. Now, people are crazy to listen to the law school shills.

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    2. A JD/MBA program at a top school might make sense, but you could probably do just as well with the MBA alone. Save yourself a couple of years of tuition and lost income.

      Delete
  3. "the scam has pivoted"

    That's exactly right, and the further downmarket the profiteers are forced to go, the more proud we can be of opposing their devious tactics and dishonest arguments. We're standing up for vulnerable young people who don't know enough to defend themselves.

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  4. Law school teaches substantive law, but so much of it is irrelevant in the real world. What employer cares that you know the history of commerce clause or some tort case from 100 years ago?

    There needs to be a distinction between JD advantage jobs that a lawyer with years of experience and useful, marketable knowledge and skills can get, and a JD advantage job that a new grad can get. I suspect the latter are more fiction than fact, and are mostly available to non-trad students with an established work history before law school.

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    1. Yes. Funny, the Law School Cartel blurs that distinction between old, experienced grads and new grads very seamlessly, almost as if the difference was unimportant, while simultaneously hiding behind their various ivory towers.

      There are lies, damn lies, and Law Schools.

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    2. "There needs to be a distinction between JD advantage jobs that a lawyer with years of experience and useful, marketable knowledge and skills can get, and a JD advantage job that a new grad can get. I suspect the latter are more fiction than fact, and are mostly available to non-trad students with an established work history before law school."

      Amen to this. For a K-JDer who can't find a real legal job (and there are thousands of them produced every year) a JD degree (particularly from a non-elite school) is at best useless, and in many cases, a real liability in terms of finding a job. The idea that some flunky from NYLS is going to waltz into a compliance job at Morgan-Stanley when he doesn't get an offer from Davis Polk is absurd. You'll be working a cash register at Target. Or playing X-Box in your parent's basement.

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    3. Coming directly out of law school, a law degree is useless to you unless you plan to fuck a fertile octogenarian.

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    4. Exactly right. Law schools carefully hide the fact that if you don't first get a *real* JD job, then you'll never have a shot at any of the fantabulous JD-advantage jobs that they're dangling before your eyes.

      It's like saying to an out-of-shape guy with poor hearing and a beer gut, who wants to become a Marine, "Go for it! After all, there are lots of flabby guys with poor hearing who can't climb a flight of stairs without gasping for air in the Marines!" The key missing piece is that those flabby guys are all in their 50s and weren't like that when they *joined* the Marines.

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    5. 10:36, methinks you've gotten the Marines confused with the Air Farce.

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  5. Again I am going to disagree. I have a business undergraduate. I learned alot about the world from that degree. I have a JD. I also learned alot about the world from that JD. I may not have known enough to actually start my own practice, but I had a broad understanding of the legal environment because of law school. Granted, I would not go to law school without the intention of being a lawyer, but knowing about contracts or at least how to find out about contracts sure can't hurt if you are a real estate developer. The more real life knowledge you have, the better.

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    1. Imagining The Open ToadSeptember 19, 2014 at 3:20 PM

      "knowing about contracts or at least how to find out about contracts sure can't hurt if you are a real estate developer"

      Ahem. "You wasted $150000 on an education you coulda got for a dollar fifty in late fees at the public library."
      - W. Hunting, ca. 1997 or anytime it's on replay on TBS.

      The point being, wasting 3 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars so you can "know about contracts" is fundamentally illogical thinking.

      In addition to the mentioned buck-fifty, you could spend about $300 on a really decent "contracts for real estate" class in a community college.

      And have a much higher probability of being taught by someone who's actually negotiated such contracts and seen the aftermath when they go south in unexpected ways.

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    2. "I also learned alot about the world from that JD."

      This is the kind of infuriating non-sequitur that I see all the time in comments on the ABA Journal website. Nobody is saying that law school doesn't teach you a lot about the world, or even that it doesn't teach you things that would be helpful in many types of work. The point is that (1) you could learn those things in numerous other, cheaper ways, and (2) regardless of how useful those things might be, EMPLOYERS DON'T CARE.

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    3. The debt is another issue. I agree its probably not worth it for the debt. But if you can manage to get a legal education, say part-time at night like I did, keep your day job, and pay reasonable tuition . . at a night school like Temple . . . . well its really not that bad of a deal.

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    4. Law school is akin to someone talking to you in riddles like in the movie Die Hard: With A Vengeance. That might be entertaining enough to sell tickets but it's not so appealing to employers in the real world. If it were, this site would not exist and we all would be enjoying the life that a law degree should provide, especially for its price.

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    5. Imagining The Open ToadSeptember 20, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      @3:29 - that I can agree with.

      I went full time but worked throughout, so I took a lot of the evening section classes so as to be able to be in the office as much as possible during normal work hours.

      There were a considerable number of older students in the evening section who did not intend to practice, but just wanted to go to law school for the love of learning, i.e. "feeding the elephant's child" as the saying goes. Many of them were state and federal government workers who were getting a certain amount of tuition reimbursement. For them also, I believe having advance degrees (of any sort) was somewhat of a checkbox for advancement.

      Folks like that who love to learn and for whom a relatively small cost is worth the learnings achieved? Sure, go to law school. Enjoy it.

      But if your goal in going to law school is to work as a lawyer, then spent a lot of time on LST and read Paul's book and don't fool yourself about going, "Unless".

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  6. There's a philosophical point I've been wondering about. Perhaps a law professor can help me, since I'm not asking for legal advice here.

    Is the job of law professor a JD-advantage job? It usually doesn't involve the practice of law, but is the JD still an advantage? If it is, could it be that the deans and professors are simply projecting their own experience on people who are vastly different from them?

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    1. Yes. A law professor of mine said in class that his job qualified as "JD advantage"

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    2. In view of the large numbers of law profe$$ors who have no legal training at all, those jobs may actually count as "JD disadvantage".

      Old Guy

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  7. Immediately out of law school, a law degree is only useful for either practicing law within a law firm environment or understanding the potential estate consequences if you fuck a fertile octogenarian.

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    1. Imagining The Open ToadSeptember 19, 2014 at 3:25 PM

      You seem to be repeating yourself. (But I blame it on slow moderation... not their fault, they've got other work to do...)

      :-)

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    2. " . . . or understanding the potential estate consequences if you fuck a fertile octogenarian."

      By far the best quote I've >>ever<< read. Sums up contemporary legal education in a nutshell.

      Absolutely wonderful!

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    3. Most law students, however, would not be able to explain those consequences.

      Old Guy

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    4. To the Open Toad

      I'm @12:25. It was a technical problem at my end. The first post was through my iPad which froze, so I thought the post hadn't gone through. Then I posted via desktop.

      The moderators do a fantastic job. And so do you.

      Delete
    5. Imagining The Open ToadSeptember 20, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      3:06 - yeah, happens to me sometimes too. My android device used to double-post everything. It still doubles-up the message typed in any email (looks fine on my end but recipients get one message with duplicated text) ...haven't figured that one out yet.

      Thanks for the compliment, by the way.

      Delete
    6. "if you fuck a fertile octogenarian"

      You and your contemptuous, dehumanizing hypotheticals. You sound like a law professor to me. Please tell Brian that I'm impressed with his work.

      Delete
  8. Another JD advantage job: Doc review.
    ABA should mentioned the salary now in NYC. It was $30/h 6 months ago we are now at $25/h. Oh but wait, there s a bonus of $20 a day if you stick to the project.

    50-100 Admitted Attorneys Wanted for Doc Review starting Oct. 6 (Midtown)
    compensation: $25/hr plus completion bonus
    contract job

    We are staffing a large document review for our client, an international litigation firm, to start Oct. 6. Successful candidates will be admitted in good standing in any U.S. jurisdiction.

    The project will go 3 to 5 months. The rate is $25/hr. There will be a $2/hr completion bonus paid to all attorneys who work the entire duration of the project.

    See Craigslist jobs/NYC today if interested.
    For immediate consideration please send your most recent resume. Thanks! But no thanks!

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    1. An international litigation firm. Probably not what the lemmings had in mind when they dreamed of practicing international law. But it's as close as they will get.

      Delete
    2. For most of these type jobs, a more accurate description would be:

      -Location: An airless, windowless basement with no ventilation. The Doc Review head's brother is an Ivy League physicist and has been able to manipulate the basement into a time-field stasis so no labor laws apply in the doc review work area. In the winter, the heating unit has been connected to your mouse, so if you want warmth, you have to click for it. (Click, you doc review bitches, click, click, click!.) There are separate bathrooms provided solely for your use which we require you to clean as well, as our staff has refused to enter the any facilities used by a doc reviewer, Lastly, we instruct you to never maintain eye contact with a partner. Those spirit-cleansing rituals take away from a real lawyer's billable time.

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    3. lol at international doc review

      I'll bet the American U grads with their prestigious JD's have the inside track on that job...

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  9. The "JD Advantage" category shouldn't exist. Two categories would suffice:

    1. Bar passage required
    2. Everything else.

    Law school should be about training lawyers.

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  10. JDs are not accepted for secretary/paralegal jobs for a simple reason: Within a few years, a secretary/paralegal soon learns 95% of what is needed to practice law. But the secretary/paralegal can't leave the lawyer and compete with him because she doesn't have a law license. No lawyer is foolish enough to hire a non-family member new JD as a secretary/paralegal. In fact successful settlement mills in PI, bankruptcy, divorce and collections have a lawyer owner with an army of well trained secretary/paralegals.

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  11. I have some long standing, intelligent, college educated paralegals. They are good, bit I would never rely on them for legal research or to take deposit or to make arguments in court. They simply do not have enough of a legal background to do that stuff. Reading a number of cases in law school does help one think like a lawyer. Paralegals don't have that.

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    1. Ell - Oh - Ell.

      I wouldn't want them to take deposit either.

      Sure you're a lawyer.

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    2. The last time I had my paralegal take a deposit, my wife left me and I was stuck with a child support bill.

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  12. Auto correct...deposition for the brain dead.

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  13. Paralegals can't, by law, take depositions or appear in court. Paralegals at Biglaw firms do legal research all the time. You don't need to listen to law professors babble for three years to figure out how to do legal research.

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    1. This is especially true in DC in the firms that handle federal agency work. Usually the paralegals have a graduate degree and are called "area specialist" or something else that will command a higher billable rate.

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