Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The AALS (Association of American Law Schools) publicizes a dubious claim that 3Ls contributed at least 81.8 million dollars worth of free legal services in 2017

On January 3, 2018, The Association of American Law Schools issued a press release crowing that 3L law students of the Class of 2017 provided 81.8 million dollars worth of pro bono legal services, or actually considerably more. 
"In November 2017, 94 law schools reported that 18,411 law students in the class of 2017 contributed more than 3.39 million hours in legal services as part of their legal education, an average of about 184 hours per student. Independent Sector, a nonprofit organization coalition, estimates the value of volunteer time to be $24.14 an hour. Using this number, the total value of the students' time. . . is estimated to be in excess of $81.8 million. . . Many schools indicated that some hours go uncounted or are difficult to track so actual contributions were probably higher. . . Law students contributed hours through a variety of efforts, including externships at legal aid and community organizations, law school clinics, and law student organization led projects . . . .Students received practical experience in law and communities received critical legal services."
AALS also posted a video of its Executive Director Judith Areen announcing this finding at the outfit's recent annual shindig in San Diego, to a round of spontaneous applause from the law profs in attendance. (Video at 11:10-12:16) Here, after all, was ego-bolstering evidence that law faculty are facilitators of tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars worth of "critical legal services." You know, as opposed to facilitators of a debt trap premised on scam, as many of their victims have cruelly asserted.  

The website published a story based on the AALS press release, as did the publication National Jurist, and both stories were arguably even more laudatory than the original press release. AALS then tweeted a link to the story. This tweet got a retweet from Barry Currier, ABA Managing Director of Accreditation & Legal Education. (above) I may be oversensitive here, but isn't it slightly disconcerting when a chief regulator retweets self-congratulatory public relations from a trade and lobbying group representing the very institutions that he is supposed to be policing? 

Due respect (or disrespect) to AALS and its flack-in-chief Judith Areen (who drew compensation of $518,859 for fiscal 2015, while refusing to pay her full-time law student intern a plug nickel), but I am dubious about her claim that 3L volunteer student labor equates to 81.8 million dollars worth of  legal services.

AALS's calculation is, as it notes, based on an estimate by Independent Sector ["IS"] that the value of an hour of nonspecialist volunteer time is $24.14 per hour. However, this estimate problematically derives from the average wage of non-management non-agricultural workers and is essentially propagandistic in nature.

IS is a nonprofit organization that exists to advocate for public policies on behalf of the charitable sector. IS acknowledges that the purpose of its estimate is to "show the immense value volunteers provide to an organization." Indeed, IS hopes that charitable organizations themselves "use the value of volunteer time for recognition events or communications to show the amount of community support an organization receives from its volunteers." 

What is more, IS acknowledges that the estimate generally cannot be used on financial statements.("The general rule to follow when determining if contributed services meet the [accounting] criteria for financial forms is to determine whether the organization would have purchased the services if they had not been donated.")  Thus, IS's $24.14/hr. estimate of the value of volunteer time is more suitable for self-congratulatory social media posts and tweets than for budgets and balance sheets. 

Is a law student intern or volunteer really contributing $24.14 per hour worth of labor? I mean, that sums to close to a $1,000 per week contribution for a full-time volunteer. Many public defenders do not earn $1,000 per week, despite being licensed to practice law, tasked with huge caseloads, and trained and experienced in trial and motion practice. So how is it possible that the work of a coffee-fetching or make-work-doing intern at that same public defender's office is valued more highly than the work of the public defender him or herself?

What is pro bono law student labor really worth to the lucky public interest organizations that receive this contribution? University of Georgia Law Professor Alex Scherr, a man with genuinely impressive credentials in experiential legal education,  did not mince words:
"You asked what the common consensus was among externship programs and field supervisors. I can't count the number of times I've heard externship supervisors say, "These students don't give me much. In fact, they are more trouble than they're worth if I'm thinking about it exclusively in terms of economic value. But I do it because I want to teach and I do it because I want to mentor."
(ABA Section on Legal Education, Public Hearing Re: Amendments to Standards, April 25, 2014, Transcript, p. 31)  
To pursue Scherr's logic, those 3.39 million donated law student hours do not represent an economic contribution to legal services organizations by law students. Rather, they represent a contribution by legal services organizations to the educational experience of law students-- a contribution that may even be deleterious to those organizations' core function of providing legal assistance to worthy individuals or causes.

I note that IS's $24.14/hr. estimate does not vary according to the educational achievements or specialized skill of the volunteer. Thus, by IS's measure, a law student doing volunteer work at a public interest law office is contributing no more to legal services than if the same work were to be done by a retiree, an undergraduate, or a high school student. Granted that 3.39 million hours is a lot, but theoretically you could get the same number of volunteer hours, and thus the same alleged 89.2 million dollar value, from the general population. Which means that law schools do not have to trap tens of thousands of kids per year in long-term debt slavery in order for legal aid organizations to receive the full benefits of volunteer labor.

Legal services organizations could also get an 89.2 million dollar boost if some vain member of the ultra-rich were persuaded to donate that amount in lieu of using the money to acquire naming rights to a law school. (Got that, Mr. Pritzker?) Something tells me that an 89.2 million cash donation would be considerably more welcome to legal services organizations and their clients than would 3.39 million hours of law student volunteer work. 

But let's say that all of the above is incorrect, and that law school student volunteers have made a massive, valuable, and irreplaceable contribution to legal services organizations. If so, then congratulations to law schools. However, if there is to be a calculation of the collateral economic benefits to society of law school attendance (e.g. those 3.39 million hours of uncompensated student labor on behalf of legal services) should there not be a counterbalancing calculation of the collateral costs to society of law school attendance?  

How much money is spent for health care, including mental health and substance abuse treatment, that is attributable, at least in in part, to the stress of staggering law school debt loads and stagnating opportunities in an oversatuturated profession? What is the loss to overall social stability when hundreds of thousands of law grads must tap their meager savings every month to cover near-extortionist interest rates on student loans rather than, say, using that money provide for their families, save for retirement, start businesses, or even make charitable donations to worthy legal services organization?


  1. This must explain why the real GDP of the legal services industry declined 2.58% between 1997 and 2016. The real GDP of the legal services industry declined in 2005, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, and grew a measly 0.19% in 2016. 3Ls are contributing nearly 100 million dollars in free legal services. But the pesky Bureau of Economic Analysis is not adding all that work to the output of the legal services industry.

  2. Unfortunately, this is the only canard the law school Cartel has left to draw fresh blood into the system, and they are trying to monetize it for legitimacy.

    It's fantastic that those with the skills do pro bono do it when they can. Having students learn while doing is also perhaps a win-win for the student and the recipient of the legal aid. People donating their time in the service of others is a worthy pursuit.

    The reality is as dybbuk said - the Cartel is milking this all they can, with dubious accounting and over-inflated interpretation of results, to make people feel good while being scammed. It takes time and investment to make a public defender, for example, not a magical waiving of a wand over a student's head. The law school claims demean and delegitimize the true contributions of actual lawyers who make these pro bono sacrifices, in the name of saying John and Suzy Q's contributions are equal (no offense to the students).

    How many millions of dollars of pro bono work do lawprofs and scamdeans contribute in the aggregate, by this same accounting standard...?

  3. Of course it's nonsense-everything used by the cartel to support the Scam is nonsense.
    But like so much good chicanery, it has an element of truth. No, not the actual value of the services; as pointed out above, it's hard to assess any genuine value to services provided by people(the law students) who have no idea what they're doing.
    Instead, the hours...yes, that could be accurate. Two examples:
    First, I participated(for credit) in a clinic at my law school. I had no idea about the law, or how to deal with clients, or anything. So I'd spend hours with a client, and their family, and their friends, wasting hours speaking with collateral folks to get a good "social history" of the defendant(of a drug case, usually) impressed the hell out of my prof. For most of my cases-and I had very few because of the time spent-I would devote probably 10-15x the hours needed. So by the end of my year long clinic, I had a truly impressive number of hours invested. Results? Well...let's give me an E for effort.
    Second: I fly home, and wander over to the baggage area. This was during the height of the initial hysteria related to Trump's ban on certain persons from entering the US(which I believe is still pending somewhere in some US court, but I digress). Anyway, things are pretty quiet at the baggage carousels, with just me and a few other passengers milling around-except for the 15-20 "volunteer law students" per their hand-lettered signs. These signs offered "free" legal advice(I think there was a single licensed attorney "supervising" these students) to anyone affected by the proposed Trump ban. So multiply the number of students by the number of hours...and then multiply by zero, as that was how many "clients" they had during the 30 minutes I had to wait for my luggage. It's worth noting that this airport has very few international flights; most are for vacationers to Mexico, and none are from the countries listed in the proposed ban. So multply the number of students by the hours the baggage area was "staffed" and you get some impressive, if totally fake, numbers of legal "services" provided.
    Of course, the AALS isn't multiplying by zero, so yeah, it's pretty easy to reach the inflated number of hours claimed. The fact that the services are pretty much worthless...well, there's no way the AALS will agree with that. Why start telling the truth at this late date?

    1. This is exactly it. To say that students have put a lot of effort into things, tried to help people, made a contribution and all that is great. You could say the same thing about Habitat for Humanity, or Teach for America, or whatever.

      But for the Cartel to call this $82 million of "legal services," however, and consequently trumpet a sea change in the value of legal education is misrepresentation. It is dishonest both to what the students receive (who now feel like super-duper-lawyerz!!!!) and to those who received said services, who may or may have not had the ball significantly advanced in their individual cases.

      A more realistic, honest appraisal would be welcome (and no doubt it would show a degree of positive impact), but I'm not holding my breath as regards the Cartel. $82 million it is...!!!!

  4. To future law school applicants.

    One other thing that people won't tell you is the mental/physical aspect law school takes upon you. To quote our great Vice President Mike Pence, "I wouldn't wish law school upon a dog I didn't like."

    I am a recovering alcoholic. I have high blood pressure because of this. I have to take Melatonin everyday to sleep. I can not sleep without Melatonin.

    I used to be able to dunk a basketball. I threw out my back playing basketball just a few months ago. I can't even jump anymore because I'm scared what might happen.

    Reading nonsense law books 6-8 hours a day for 3 years isn't healthy for you. The entire legal culture is based on alcohol. This is not healthy. Half the class will be taking various substances to compete against each other in a forced curve. When you really sit back and see the entire thing for what it is, you realize what a farce it really is.

    After failing out of law school, getting readmitted, and passed the bar on the first time, I decided the legal profession was a complete waste of my time and am now doing computer programming in a coding boot camp. To future law students, I hope you realize most lawyers aren't happy.

    To future law school applicants. Be warned. This isn't fake news. I've lived it. Good luck and have fun in law school next year.

  5. Hmmm, it seems like AALS has an accounting problem with billable hours inflation...not unlike some law firms...!

  6. This whole thing is a con. Back when I went to law school, third year law students were paid to work for law firms, government agencies, the prosecutor's office, the Public Defender's Office, and so on. I secured a paying clerkship at the Attorney General's Office, for example, and I was not at the top of my class or Law Review or well connected. I was just a typical student at a good but not great law school. So now that people have figured out that you don't have to pay eager young lemmings foolish enough to attend law school, they work for free, and professors are pretending that is a good thing.

  7. Friction was already developing when I clerked between people like me, who were paid to work for the Attorney General's Office, and students who were gullible enough to work for free. They envied me for getting paid, and I thought they were idiots for working (full time during the summer) for free. I almost never worked for free, even as a college student or as a law student. When someone asks a student to work for free, the student should ask that person if he or she would be willing to come to their home and do the dishes, clean out the cat box, mow the lawn, got to the grocery store, etc. . .for free. If you're not willing to work for me "for free" why would I be willing to work unpaid for you? These law students "interning" to "get their foot in the door" would literally be better off working for minimum wage at McDonalds. I know some of these students. The ones who are told put in six months at the Public Defender's Office unpaid and we will hire you at the end. . .usually aren't hired at the end of their "internship". Why should they be hired, they can easily con another unemployed gullible "lawyer" to put in six months (or more) with the exact same promise of future employment, that never happens.

    1. To be honest, I did work for free using my state's program where I handle my own case load in my final semester of law school.

      It was pretty funny in retrospect. I was representing clients in court without a bar license and PAYING to do it. When my fellow classmates at random bars asked me why I did it, I simply responded, "I don't want to get lectured to by another con artist law professor again."

      They simply laughed.

  8. If you don't value yourself enough to get paid, how can anyone else value you enough to pay you?

    Charity and volunteer work is good when it's done by those who are already secure and do it purely to have something to do. Not for someone trying to get a job and who has to pay bills and doesn't have a passive income stream. And especially not those that not only do not have a passive income stream, but also are heavily in debt and with no income stream or opportunity for one.

    1. I'm as sceptical of markets as they come, but in this instance I think the market has valued these hours correctly.

  9. Only $24.14 per hour? Why, that's less than half of what U Mass Dartmouth has claimed for its own students' work:

  10. In the final analysis, nothing in this world will ever be worth anything more or anything less than what someone will willingly give for it. Since no one gave anything for these services any estimation of their worth is meaningless.

  11. Working for free does not get your foot in the door. With a schock law degree, you should expect unemployment and underemployment in your prime working years.

    This pro bono stuff is a smokescreen for there not being enough work for even half of law school grads.

    Get that? Is does not matter what you take in law school if there is no demand for the services you learn to perform in law school.

    You are taking a vow of lifetime underemployment and unemployment even with that top law degree. That is because once you are 50, no one wants to hire you. Before then, it is very hard for most lawyers to stay gainfully employed in a full-time permanent job.

    You are an idiot if you take the path to law school. It is going to be a lifetime struggle to work. Maybe it starts later for some, but welcome to the world of extreme lawyer oversupply. You will have the privilege of being treated worse than an illegal alien who is hired, because no one needs the services of about 60% of law graduates. The ones who do get jobs are mostly felled by the totally unstable nature of lawyer jobs.

    So look at the smoke screen of all these valuable hours. Ignore the reality of a mostly worthless law degree when you look at the full length that your career needs to be.

  12. With the current market, there is no demand for non-elite law degrees. And it only gets worse with every class graduated from a law school.

    Say 175 graduates receive their JDs from any given TTT in a single year. Whenever I see that figure, say from LST, I immediately think to myself that the local area doesn't have 175 new well-paying attorney jobs for them - let alone say half that number.

    And that is just for one school.

    "With a schock law degree, you should expect unemployment and underemployment in your prime working years."

    .. Which is exactly what happened to me at 28.

    And I didn't just have a law degree. I did a dual JD/MBA but it didn't matter. Non-elite degrees are worthless. That also goes for undergrad where my business / CS combo meant nothing.

    After 20+ years, for all I know the only people from my law school class who are still in law are the ones listed in the "class notes" section of the school newsletter.

    More than half, I'm fairly sure, are no longer practicing law. Some never did - they never even got their foot in the door. And about 15% of those class notes people are what I'd consider "good" jobs.

  13. ... This leads me to a few final points that should not be underestimated:

    1) The people that I know who have and had good jobs starting out were from money and severely connected from influential families. All 3 that I can think of moved up the ladder in law despite the ongoing lawyer glut.

    Remember, all 3 graduated the same as me from my very non-elite school. None of them were on Law Review, etc.

    I and many others had far better grades than they did. I know all of this for a fact.

    These people were gainfully employed from the very start and it only got better for them as time went on.

    2) People don't really understand what law is at large firms.

    Most of these places are simply the extension of what I said above: For the wealthy.

    They are revolving doors between the legal / business, industry worlds inhabited by the wealthy and their offspring. They are political lobbying firms, etc. in many cases where the lawyers have family ties to the business and political worlds, etc. They service wealthy clients.

    Many of these "successful" lawyers that people see and love to talk about come from money and law is essentially a "side biz" for them, not their main source of wealth. In short, law is (and this has been mentioned here before and rightly so) an "aristocracy profession". Always has been. Always will be.

    Which is why someone trying to come from a "schlock" school really doesn't understand the legal world and is essentially digging their own grave - and paying, at current prices, $250-300,000 while doing it.

    Completely irrational and stupid.

    But the upper-classes, as per my example, never lose. They gladly feed on the gullible because they see it as their chosen role. Look at any given law school Dean, for example, and see where they come from in terms of the class hierarchy.

    3) From a lower-tier school, you can be unemployed - without protection - in a micro-second. The only other people I know who are doing "okay" - not great but "okay" were able to crack into some level of gov't job - and stay there.

    But they're just low-level schlubs hanging on for Dear Life and doing Grunt Work paper-pushing. Sure, there's a pension at the end of it but after "X" years, they aren't making enough to save up for any grand retirement and will die broke just like 99% of all Americans.

    In short, law is a class game and always will be. 3 people (the elites from my school with shit grades and barely working brains) made out while a few are hanging on for Dear Life in gov't jobs. The rest never made it or were / are grist for the mill and will die in debt as will those in the gov't jobs - the only difference being the gov't schlubs will enjoy a small bone in the form of a pension - assuming that doesn't get the "Detroit" bankruptcy treatment at some point.. Remember: The Elites control the rigged game and can do what they want at any time.

    In closing: And oh yes.. OP is entirely right about aging out. Time in law is against you from the second you graduate. Like every other profession, it's "up or out" only more drastic in law because of the severe oversupply.

    1. I agree with what you wrote and I've written similar things often in the past.

      However, I must point out one thing, why is the fact that the upper class invests in and takes care of their children above strangers such a bad thing? How is that somehow a moral issue?

      It is the lower classes that are at fault precisely for refusing to guide and invest in and care for their children. The lower classes attack their children relentlessly and order them to succeed "on merits", touting that very schlock on "work your way up" "pay your dues" "hard work leads to success, failures are just lazy losers". It is obvious that you have to invest and nurture your children, and that nobody in this world is going to help out a stranger at their own expense. Why should they? Why would they? It makes no sense.

      It is the duty of parents to guide and set up their children. Instead of attacking the elite classes for performing this duty, they should be praised and lauded.

      The only real issue with the elite classes is when they pretend they do not do this, and encourage the lower classes to attack their children. But the lower classes, I think, desire to behave that way, and the upper classes are only pacifying them by agreeing with them. I do not believe the upper classes actually believe that nonsense, because my exposure to the upper classes has shown they do in fact believe in that personal investment and the family structure.

      It is my belief the second the lower classes truly love their children, most of the corruption and misery the academics and oligarchs and bankers engage in will end overnight. Parents would not stand for it, and without slaves to throw into the meat grinder, there is no real wealth in this world for the lazy to enjoy.

    2. From the elite law schools, people get jobs initially even if they are not "from money." The problem is that they do not keep these jobs.

      The real money in my law school class never went to the big firms or went for a very short time. They had family businesses or went into government or the nonprofit sector.

      The big problem with the elite law schools is that the jobs they place lawyers in are not permanent. Clerkships last a year or two, and the law firms are generally "up or out."

      The up or out system also applies to partners, so making partner is not enough. One needs to stay a partner, a much harder thing.

      The long and short of it is that fewer and fewer graduates have full-time, permanent jobs in law the farther out of law school one goes because they lose jobs and cannot get new jobs, or at least full-time, permanent jobs. So you have a big contingent of unemployed and underemployed highly credentialed lawyers over the age of 50 who are desperately and unsuccessfully seeking full-time, permanent lawyer work.

    3. These older elite lawyers cannot find other lines of BA-required work either. There is an experience bias, so an age 50 plus Princeton graduate with honors cannot find a job in the corporate side of a bank or a responsible job in any other sector after big law and big in house if they need to move to a new employer. The only thing they have experience in is law and law does not need as many lawyers as there are looking for work. There are large numbers of age 50+ lawyers applying futiley to job after job and not getting any interviews. Maybe a 50 plus Harvard or Chicago Law grad with big law and big in house experience who needed to move could get interviewed by a big insurance company such as Prudential Financial for a paralegal job. That is it though. That person often cannot touch a six figure job, even in cities where the average city government employee earns about $100,000 in cash pay, because there are too many lawyers.

      The ABA can celebrate affordable legal services. However, this is at the expense of basic employment protections for lawyers, including stable work, enough work to work full-time, health benefits on the job and retirement benefits on the job. That is what law has come to now that lawyers are a dime a dozen, and their numbers continue to explode.

  14. All of the health professions and most government jobs are better bets than law for the reasons you state- they are not grossly oversupplied with licensed degree holders and they are typically not up or out, at least in the extreme sense that law is.

    The ABA has killed the profession by failing to take action on the lawyer oversupply.

    The ABA needs to start worrying about wages, hours and working conditions of lawyers and to act more like a labor union protecting its members. It is a scandal that they do not give a damn about the median law school graduate and that the ABA does nothing to take care of its own.

    1. This is anecdotal but reflective of the medical profession in general. At the hospital I work, we are short several primary care physicians. The hospital just cannot recruit. APNs and PAs pick up the slack. They finally filled one of the hospitalist openings. They had trouble filling that job even though the job pays nearly $300k and only required the standard 7 on 7 off schedule. Several surgeons are older and close to retirement and the hospital is trying to recruit younger surgeons. But the hospital is competing with other hospitals for these senior surgery residents. There is a shortage of physicians because there are a limited number of slots in residency programs every year. The programs are federally funded. Congress would have to increase funding to increase the number of slots. Only a limited number of med school graduates can go through residency, so US med schools keep the number of graduates below the number of residency slots. The Caribbean med schools churn out a lot of graduates, that puts the total number of med school grads above the number of available residency slots. But the residency programs prefer US grads over the Caribbean grads.

  15. In the last 12 months in Connecticut five attorneys, one with thirty-five years of practice, the rest forty or more, have been arrested for stealing, in three cases, hundreds of thousands and, in two cases, millions. I know one of them, and another by (good) reputation. These guys weren't drinking or gambling or doing drugs, they just wanted the money. One was buying boats, among other big ticket items.

    This is what it is coming to. Absent winning the lottery or hitting it big on some NASDAQ stock there's no way they could rationally think they wouldn't get caught. So obviously they were not thinking rationally.

    Lemmings beware. If these guys who got their start when there were forty fewer law schools and you could actually make money have come to this do you really think you're going to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that they never found?

    You know who the smartest of them is? The one who's been cooling his heals in the county lock-up since last September, racking up time already served. There are better places to be than county in the system but there are also many that are a lot worse.

    1. 3 Hots and a Cot. But does he have a cellmate? ;p)

      Btw, here's the link to one of those cases, anyway:

      70. Not retired. Started in law obviously years ago.

      One more comment: Of course certain Elite grads get thrown out of work as they age. BUT - not the scions of the Elite.

      Remember the movie "They Live!" When it comes time to chop, who do you think will get the Ax? The unconnected guy with the Elite degree or Daddy's connected, rich kid?

      Who owns / runs these firms, after all?

      I remember seeing a post years ago, somewhere, where the poster said that a lot of summer positions, at least half, are "reversed" for the children of the Elite. Somebody in HR fucked up and blurted the truth to them in an off-handed moment.

      So, no nepotism. Elite Kid of A goes to Friend B's firm. Elite B goes to Friend C's firm, etc.

      And it's the same when it comes to promotion time. If someone has to go, it'll be the unconnected kid, still with the Elite law degree but without the backing of family money and connections. Because.. somebody has to lose.

      The caste System perpetuates itself.

      The 3 people from my TTT who are in law and doing very well to this day were "elites" although they didn't attend an elite school by any means, didn't have the grades, etc.

      They were Somebody's that Somebody Sent.

      They will be able to work in law as long as they wish and will never be out of work.

      In other words, the non-Elite people are gambling in law for life. They need to work. They NEED jobs. Elite kids with family money and connections do not.

    2. 4:31 here. County's got open-floor dorms and some single cells. As I say, better than some places, worse than others. The real safeguard is his age. He too was 70 and still working when he "borrowed" a $300K escrow he was holding. He's approaching 74 and that's not the kind of prime chicken they're looking for on the inside. Another Connnecticut lawyer of that vintage didn't steal but was convicted of tax fraud totalling, over a decade, way over a million. At least he's in Club Fed. I know another guy who is working at 77 because he owes the IRS $500K+ with the interest meter running. He'll work 'til he drops and then they'll take his house and the decent-sized piece of land it's on. These guys give off an aura of success while living a lie.

  16. Doctors got lucky when Congress capped the number of residency slots in 1997. That cap has really slowed the production of doctors in the US.

    With lawyers, even graduating from an elite school and working in big law and big in house for several years does not assure a job in one's fifties or later. I know many lawyers over the age of 50 who have elite backgrounds in law and cannot find anything close to full-time permanent work. The lawyer oversupply has resulted in a job market where a substantial share of in house jobs are temporary and where a substantial share of the open permanent lawyer jobs in law firms and in house have experience limits or 10 years or less. So you have about 80% of the lawyers applying to a very small number of jobs because they fail the experience limits for most lawyer jobs. So my colleagues are doomed to not working on a full-time permanent basis. There are much too many of experienced lawyers with distinguished records looking for work for the number of open jobs, and even the temporary jobs are highly competitive and have rounds of interviews with many candidates, which is an elimination process.

    The American Bar Association has cut the legs off from under so many of its flock. It is horrible.

    That must be in stark contrast to medical doctors, where a doctor over the age of 50 can easily get full-time work, and it is going to be high paying work.

  17. This is the problem many of you keep thinking in terms of "BIG LAW". Most of us are not "Big law" lawyers, we are the lawyers who are handling the problems most people have these days in thousands of jurisdictions and courtrooms across the country... divorces, criminal, dui, personal injury, insurance disputes, contracts, real estate closings, etc. Most lawyers are not getting rich, but most lawyers I know, young and old, are at the least making a living. And most lawyers have their own businesses or work in small firms. Lets assume though that you are all right... that law is dead....and that only "suckers" are going into law these days. So what are the viable alternatives. If you are not Stem..your choices are very limited are they not? Administrative work? retail? (even that is dying), working for a that really any better the way there is no loyalty whatsoever anymore in the corporate world? At least as a lawyer with your own business, you have some control over your life. What kind of control do you have when you work for State Farm Insurance, and it decides to fire all long term employees (as State Farm did in our neck of the world a few years ago) and replace with young, brainwashed, new people? What most of you don't get is that the American Economy of old is over. Manufacturing is drying up. Government jobs are no longer there given limited resources. The service jobs always were low paying, and part time. So tell me what the typical non-stem graduate is supposed to do to have a chance at a middle or upper middle class life? I still say if you are intelligent and have a knack for it, you can make a wonderful career in the law. If you are average intelligence, then get an average working class job. Put up drywall. You may never go without work... but if you fund that type of work interesting... go for it.

    1. There is some truth in what you say, and I think that some of the posters and commenters go overboard in their criticism of the legal industry (I won’t call it a profession). I graduated from law school 25 years ago and ended up in a government attorney job that puts me in contact with the type of practicing attorneys you mentioned on a daily basis. I don’t think I would want to trade places with most of them, but yes, they are making a living and all in all, it probably beats working retail or draining oil pans at Jiffy Lube.

      However, you fail to address two big issues. First is the issue of debt. You ask, what should a non-stem grad do? Perhaps the better question is, what shouldn’t a non-stem grad do? I would tell him/her: DO NOT rack up $150-200 K in debt for a law degree from a middling school that almost certainly will not result in an job that allows you to service that type of debt. Permanent IBR is not a pathway to the middle class. Second is the issue of getting that first job. Like you said, there are plenty of lawyers out there making a living notwithstanding the fact that they never sat behind a desk at Davis Polk or Sullivan Cromwell. However, virtually all of them got legitimate legal jobs after graduating. That’s what put them on a path to where they are able to make a living as a lawyer, whether it be as a solo or working for a small firm. But what happens to the grad who is unable to land that first job? Because that happens to thousands of grads every year. Should they open up their own shop with no start-up funds and zero experience practicing law or running a business? Good luck with that.

      The bottom line is, there are too many grads chasing after too few jobs, and it’s been that way for a long time. As a result, attending law school is a risky proposition. The worse the school, the more the debt, the greater the risk. Even if they have gone overboard on occasion, the scam bloggers have performed a great service in making potential law school students aware of the risks.

  18. Oh yea... the MD/JD...... what is your point. Most of us are not medical doctors and most of us do not want to be medical doctors. Good for went to medical school and are getting those 300 K salaries. Far as I can tell, medical doctors are as unhappy as everybody else. One guy I know left his internal medicine practice he could no longer stand and now he works specializing in helping accident injuries. Other doctors I know try to charge huge amounts of money for minimal services... like the 36K bill I just got on a client who had two steroid injections for pain...18K each. I'll probably give him $750 per injection, which is the standard rate...but what compels a medical doctor to attempt to be such a whore?

    1. Hi troll. My point was pretty clear. The medical profession does not necessarily protect its members like a labor union. There is an artificial shortage of doctors because of the limited number of residency positions. Every school in the country is trying to cash in on the student loan gravy train. If there was no requirement to complete a residency to practice medicine, U.S. med schools would probably lower standards and oversaturate the market with grads like every other school. You don’t need to tell me that doctors are unethical. There are plenty of doctors that entered the profession for the money and don’t give a damn about patients. And there are plenty of Caribbean med schools run by doctors that don’t give a damn if their students match into residency. They just want the student loan cash.

      I don’t come on this board to brag. What do I have to brag about? I attended a toilet law school, borrowed $150k, graduated unemployed, and was rejected by big law, toilet law, government legal offices, prosecutor offices, and public defender offices. Most of my friends went into non-legal jobs. Some got MBAs and went into business. I went to med school. I post comments on the scam blogs in the hope that a prospective law student will read what I say and avoid law school.

    2. You were very lucky that your washout experience in law happened early in your working life when you were still young enough to complete the premed courses and get into medical school. You were also very fortunate that one or more medical schools were willing to accept you after the washout in law.

      A lot of lawyers of your clearly very smart caliber do get lawyer jobs early on and then wash out when they are too old to go the medical school or otherwise change careers to any type of work that would warrant the time and expense of a law degree. That is a horrible scenario to find ones self in, with skills that do not match the marketplace at age 40, 50 or older. There is a lot of forced early and very early retirement from the legal profession, and it is a result of the terrible oversupply.

      You are so fortunate, because medicine for now is very safe relative to other lines of work.

  19. One other thing... very good trial lawyers are good regardless of the "class" they came from. The most successful attorney in my town...routinely gets seven figure verdicts for relatively routine cases...went to a Tier 5 Law School...... ability and competence trumps being born wealthy. A Connected dufas may get a job in Big Law, but he won't be getting any respect and likely will not be going anywhere either unless he can bring in lots of Daddy's business... but how many in Big Law really have that capability? I'm guessing Bill Gates kids could get a job with any big law firm...all they have to do is bring in Microsoft as a client. But only so many kids like that out there.

    So the bottom line.....Most lawyers are not geared to be or do not want to be doctors... so that comparison is totally irrelevant, and the US economy sucks and is getting worse, so absent viable alternatives, all of the don't go to Law School mumbo jumbo is meaningless... and as far as Student Loans... if you have nothing you have nothing to lose. If a person cannot pay back a Student Loan, they are not going to pay back the student loans. Huge defaults are coming in that business at any rate in the coming years. Many college graduates with large loans will never have the income to pay them back.

    1. This has to be among the Top 10 dumbest posts I've ever read.

      You are pointing to 1 guy - a clear outlier in the legal profession - and advocating law school which, today, carries a debt burden alone (excluding a required undergrad degree to get there) of $250,000 - 300,000.

      So a young 20-something person from the Proles, already burdened by possibly 100,000+ in loans from a useless, devalued college degree, should double-down and go for another non-elite (USELESS and UNWANTED in the Prestigious "legal profession") law degree?

      ... Because. They can beat the odds and become that Super Johnny Cochran Trial Lawyer and pull down 7-figure awards.

      How many people's futures should be sacrificed to prove your hypothesis, do you think? How many lawyers should be moonlighting as Uber / Lyft drivers while they wait for that Golden Ticket verdict to come in?

      And, where do these non-elite nobody shlubs get the money to bankroll themselves before that East India ship arrives? I haven't seen what you mention happen. Ever.

      40% of the class of Duke goes debt free. Why do you think that is?

      As far as being good, that Biglaw Elite can go to work in Daddy's established PI firm and, because of bankroll, can afford to wait years to settle those big verdict cases. In the meantime, Daddy's firm can hire the #1 from Big State Law School and use them to shuffle the shitpaper on those cases so they win.

      "Get gud" in law is always beaten by "come from money."

      Btw, those Alzheimer's cases on the Supreme Court, the above is their model. I highly doubt some senile 80-yr. old Star Chamber lawyer is writing those opinions. Why do you think they make such a big deal over their clerks and where they come from? The clerks do all the damned work... Obvious, so obvious. It's the Star Chamber repeating itself and protecting itself.

      You may not care about students not being able to pay back mid six-figures in loans, but the Real World sure does. Your debt/income / creditworthiness is always used in evaluating you from jobs to renting to whatever:

      It's amazing how people condemn gambling but turn around and embrace "higher education" - and that debt can never be bankruptcied away. Ever.

      I was 20+ years ahead of people like you 20 years ago and I'm 20 years ahead now.

      So, the logical thing would be to avoid college in the first place for most. Start and try different things and businesses and have people work for you as you build your own fortune and net worth which, btw, is not less than zero because you avoided the Elite's Higher Education Scam where they are feeding off you.

    2. """This has to be among the Top 10 dumbest posts I've ever read."""
      You just don't get it due to congenital myopic thinking disease. College is not a waste...nobody has to spend $100,000 on a wasted education, nor does anybody have to incur hundreds of thousands in debt to get a worthwhile law degree. For example, FSU Law tuition per year (instate) is barely more than 20K per year...right now that is a 60 K expenses are incurred regardless of whether a person goes to law school... and many college tuitions exceed this amount.

      But that is not why you are myopic. You are myopic because you see the world as working to live instead of living to work. You are incapable of seeing the benefits of a well rounded education. Most people smart enough to be competent lawyers are not going to be happy digging ditches for a living. And your mistake is believing that lawyers go into it for the prestige instead of seeking a fulfilling career. In fact, I don't know anybody who considers practicing law prestigious...but many of my contemporaries consider it rewarding, which is one of the reasons so many lawyers continue working long after it is necessary for them economically to do so.

      My point about the super trial lawyer was simply to point out the fallacy that going to a top school matters. In the everyday practice of law, it matters not a whit. It may matter to Big Law because yea..prestige is everything to those people, but most lawyers are not big law. They are small town working for a living in the routine practices I mentioned before.

      Are you the guy who thinks people should avoid college altogether? Well yea, that is great if you think being an auto repairman or dry wall installer is a fulfilling life. I'm sure that plumbers make good money...but speaking for myself, I don't want to make a living fixing clogged toilets, and I don't want my kids to do so either, which is why I put them through University.

      I have noticed in Social Media the difference between the college educated and the non-college educated many times, and generally I get the same impression... the non-college educated are big Trump supporters, big gun supporters, but they are unable to see the trees through the forest. They tend not to see issues critically or with knowledge... they just regurgitate what they see on Fox News. The lack of education in many of these people is self-evident. There is a reason Trump proclaimed he "loved" the uneducated.

      Now that's not to say all should go to college or if they do they should major in basket weaving. That is to say that those with an above average intelligence can benefit greatly from the way college expands the mind. Plenty of time to work in life. A few years at college is not going to damage anybody unless they learn nothing, grow not at all, and incur huge debts while doing so.

    3. "routinely gets seven figure verdicts for relatively routine cases" is exactly the type of nonsensical thievery which led so many to waste so much time/money on LS. Perhaps such cases exist in El Dorado, but the Spanish couldn't find it...because it doesn't exist. This guy is clearly the troll who haunted Third Tier Reality, quoting fictional characters as examples of success in the legal profession. Please, go back to watching reruns of Boston Legal in your parents' basement. That is all.

    4. Yes, 7:12 PM.

      The writing style is familiar and I was thinking the same thing. This person also posts, or posted, on the Blunderground as well.

      Platitudes and affirmations about "you can have a career in law", etc. are meaningless and not borne out by empirical evidence.

      Let me make it quite clear - if I haven't already: There is NO REASON to attend anything less than a T10 today at sticker. Even going free is likely a loss because the law is based on prestige 100% so coming out with no debt - and no "prestige" - accomplishes little.

      You are a graduate of a No-Brand, No-Name TTT and subject to all that entails. Which means, people look at the name of the school before anything else. Having no debt? Nice. But you could've done that instead of 3 years in law school and been progressing and getting paid building experience in any number of other fields.

      In addition, you have consigned yourself to being "a lawyer" and have effectively shut yourself out of those other options.

      Going to law school today makes ZERO SENSE.

      Let me use Drake Univ., Nando's alma, as an example:

      Large Law Firm: 0
      Fed. Clerkshp: 0


      And you'll come out, at sticker, down $230,000 - not counting undergrad.

      Where's your future?

      Running the numbers:

      230,000 @ 6.8% over 30 years

      Would require: It is estimated that you will need an annual salary of at least $179,931.60 to be able to afford to repay this loan.

      So, why do people always talk about BIG LAW?

      Welp, if you have a working brain, it's simple: Everything is calibrated to it, including tuition.

      Problem is: You're not getting it from Drake, as per LST.

      Heck, even half of the T14 or better doesn't...

      So, what is the factual/economic justification for attending law school today - absent coming from a rich family and being highly connected? THERE ISN'T ONE.

      I guess our friend missed 4:31 PM's post where long-time attorneys were caught stealing.

      This isn't 1972, kids.. Tuition isn't going to be paid by working summers and the economy surely isn't expanding for law. See BLS stats on that. Law, as a viable career for the Masses went out the window 50 years ago. And that's the general public's mindset, still. That all lawyers are rich and anyone who isn't is a screwup because...

      It's useless bothering and I don't anymore. I'm glad Nando doesn't either. These kids are Dreamers and will go regardless of what anyone says, so let them.

    5. Final Word: How are you going to "beat" the Harvard, Yale, Duke Grad who summers at the local Country Club with Daddy, has his law school paid for, goes debt free, and only one phone call is needed to set him up in a good showcase job in law?

      How will you do that from, say, Drake?

      Answer: You WON'T.

      You'll be a broke Debt Serf for life eating whatever crumbs you can scrape up that fall from the table of the Elites.

    6. Easy to say for those who have never had success in law. Still waiting for the alternatives that lead to a much better life. You all still don't get it. The economy sucks and will only get worse. If you want to have any chance of making decent money without the risks of being screwed by your need your own business. You want to clean toilets for a living, your choice. And no, where you went to law school is meaningless most places. You suffer from prestigeitis. The only issue is can you practice law competently. Incur 200 k in debt? go to the local public law school...part time if you have to, maybe even at night.

    7. Empiracle evidence isn't there? Really..because you say so? Your posts really come down to you're right, I'm wrong, and because I don't agree with you I must be a troll. If you are incapable of seeing other points of view, unlikely you have the ability to think like a lawyer...which might explain a lot.

    8. It's either a troll or a law school scammer. We've all seen these arguments before. They only stepped back a bit after the NYT article, Campos, and when the scam was just too obvious after years of scam bloggers posting up the facts.

      Nando is gone, this is the last blog remaining, and people claim the economy is getting better. Actually the recession ended nearly 10 years ago, in that time it HAS been better---for everyone outside of law.

      This idea that you either go to law school or clean toilets for a living is ridiculous. It's the same shame game academics have been using for decades. It's also a false choice.

      There are so many industries out there. And frankly, being a janitor at a school with a pension and benefits is better than what most lawyers are going to wind up with, especially at 50+ (but really before that, considering the debt loads and underemployment they have to start).

      Only a law school scammer would pretend that medicine, accounting, compliance, HVAC, engineering, postal services, trade services, supply chains, management, office work, healthcare, etc. industries do not exist. Only a scammer would try to convince you that you have to go to law school, and these other fields either are not an option or require some mystical education and training that is out of reach, but not law which is available to anyone at the low price of $200k and 3 years of torture.

      Frankly I'm not even certain most people should be going to undergrad today. But at least undergrad is capped, and the interest rates are favorable. The average undergrad finishes with $35k of debt at 3.5% or under interest rates. Not a great way to start, but way better than the $200k at 7.5% rates the average law grad has, as well as being 3 years older.

    9. 6:51 Most lawyers do not work in small towns. Most are in urban areas. With 619,000 establishment lawyer jobs that actually pay something, and another 160,000 solo jobs that pay on average in the same range as a BA and over 1.3 million licensed lawyers, there is a massive supply demand imbalance. There are too many lawyers by a long shot chasing too little work.

      The supply demand imbalance and continued overproduction of lawyers means that the surplus of lawyers is increasing each year. The oversupply of lawyers drops lawyer incomes and results in increasingly poor working conditions, including very high levels of lawyer unemployment and underemployment, especially for anyone calling themselves a solo and thereby not counted among the unemployed.

      Everybody you know is making a living as a small town lawyer, but the numbers bear out that most licensed lawyers are not going to be able to work as solo practitioners because there are simply too many lawyers and too little work to go around.

      It is dire to be trained to work in area where one cannot find full-time permanent work. With over 1.5 million law graduates of working age and fewer than 800,000 lawyer jobs and a very, very expensive degree, there are better alternatives today than law for most people.

    10. Your posts are simply lazy...the evidence is available to all, if they bother to look. Check out the BLS stats, which show that 2x more JDs graduate, per year, than there are jobs requiring JDs(and since you're so into "empiracle" evidence, I'll let you compound that, year after year after year).
      More evidence: the average debt taken on by law students.
      More evidence: The ABA required "Employment Summary" for each school. A fellow poster has already supplied the stats for Drake-above-and they are pathetic.
      Your stock advice "go to local law public law school" is both lazy and inane. Some examples, cost of attendance in state from school website
      U of Baltimore: $51,034/annually
      Ohio State: $52,920/annually
      U of Colorado: $51,754/annually
      UC-Irvine: $44,000
      Again these are in-state and often only 9 month stats.

      You don't bother to offer anything but empty opinions b/c the facts don't support anything you declare. So please, back to the're missing the Boston Legal binge!

    11. Good catch 7:12! Team AAMPLE troll is back. The troll has a lot more ellipses.........and now has the anecdotal story of the Tier 5 law grad.............routinely collecting seven figure verdicts. But the AAMPLE troll never tells us..........what they do for a living.

    12. The US economy is actually in very good shape now, with stock and housing markets at or close to record highs and unemployment at record lows. The problem is that the legal profession generally is not sharing in these outsized gains. With the median income of the 619,000 establishment employed lawyers in the US being $118,000, you have only 320,000 of the more than 1.5 million lawyers of working age that we know earn more than $118,000. In big cities and their suburbs, public employees routinely earn as much or more in cash pay without even counting their pension or health benefits. That leaves a large number of law graduates with what are likely not very high incomes who are probably not economically comfortable, especially if they have high law school debt. Most lawyers are probably not sharing in the bounty of the economy today, while other workers clearly are doing well.

    13. 10:06-my guess is he found a copy of Strunk and White in his parents' basement during a commercial break. And there's a binge of The Practice this weekend!

  20. Many lawyers who went to law school before the scam and huge lawyer oversupply became known went to law school out of ignorance. Many were strong in science and math and thought law was a good profession, and were wrong. Many could have easily gone to medical school because they had all the right credentials and strong science skills. The successful trial lawyers you know are probably mostly white male. There is more opportunity now for younger generations, but older women and minorities have had a very hard time in law, and with a few exceptions- the 5% for older women and the .1% for older minorities-are nowhere to be seen in good legal jobs. They do not attract clients in the same way that while males do. It is easier for doctors because there is huge demand for their services. Not so for most lawyers. You are totally ignoring the immense oversupply of lawyers and law firms. Fact -there is not enough work to go around by a long shot. Fact- law firms are suffering from serious overcapacity. Another fact is that some practice areas become obsolete or drastically drop in demand, and it is very hard to change in the middle of the game. Maybe you are talking about solos who earn $50,000 a year who have "enough" work. In big expensive cities, you cannot pay the bills with that type of income by a long shot. The people I know who are older have had serious struggles, and many young people from elite backgrounds had serious struggles as well in trying to stay employed. Law is a very, very risky profession where if you do succeed you are walking a tightrope and can fall off at any second into a hellhole of unemployment and underemployment for life.

  21. Perchance you can discover a thing or two about yourself.

    Perchance you could gain and learn some brand new approaches to apologize too.

  22. There is not an understanding on this blog of the increasingly poor wages and working conditions of lawyers who do have jobs on account of the increasing lawyer oversupply. More and more lawyer jobs are becoming temp jobs without health insurance or retirement benefits. It is almost impossible to get hired as a small firm by any sizable business. The business is going to want to run the small firm lawyer through a temp agency at $40 or $50 an hour max, as opposed to the several hundred dollar an hour fees of legitimate law firms. There is huge downtime between jobs and pay for lawyers is dropping relative to other lines of work. It is only going to get worse because the ABA vigorously supports and defends the massive and increasing lawyer oversupply.

  23. All fake news aside, I worked at a few different public defender offices in a Mid-Western State and I think what one thing law school applicants often think is they are going to be future prosecutors or defense lawyers like those they see in “Law and Order”, “The Practice” or “The Wire.”
    What many law school applicants need to realize is that “Law and Order” is a television show. It is not reality. If you do an hour long opening for a DUI, the Misdemeanor/Circuit judge is going to hold you in contempt and ask you to stop talking.

    In real life, the overwhelming majority of clients will be guilty and the overwhelming majority of clients will be plead out. Facts are facts. If you drive drunk and are pulled over and blow a .15, it doesn’t matter if your lawyer is Johnnie Cochran. You will still be found guilty.
    I remember reading a great post on JD Underground on how the criminal justice system works.

    1. Reminds me of the movie The Big Chill when a character is asked why she gave uo her goal/dream/mission of being a PD for private practice and she says: "I didn't know they'd be so GUILTY."

  24. “I have been a PD for 20 years. I have done misdemeanor trials, felony trials, dependency work and juvenile. I am tired of doing trials. I believe that 90 to 95% of the trials end in conviction. It does not matter whether they say they are innocent or even if I believe them when they say they are innocent. IF the evidence points to conviction you can bet the jury (in an adult tria) or the judge (in a juvenile trial) will convict. I am so incredibly burnt out, but the idea of learning some other aspect of the law (bankruptcy, tort, whatever) sounds horrible. I am not one for research and writing so I would not want to do appellate law. I feel like the biggest mistake of my life was taking my savings and going to law school. My prior job was a medical records clerk in a hospital back east. I stupidly left to come to California to be a lawyer. I hatted law school, the students were the biggest group of assholes you would ever want to meet - people don't become assholes by going to law school, the law just attracts assholes - and lawyers are a bunch of jerks. The only thing worse than a PD is a cop or a DA. You may be offended by that, but DAs and police have a lot of power - and power corrupts. They have the attitude of "It's easy to convict a guilty man, but you really have to work at it to convict an innocent one." May you never be falsely accused of a crime because you are going to jail regardless of your innocence. And victims are so psychologically messed up by their experience that they don't realize the criminal does not even think twice about what they've done. The victim obsesses over what has happened to them, but to the criminal, it's like stepping on an ant - why would they even think about that experience again? They don't. It takes 4,000. to go to trial. The DAs waste taxpayer money like it's monopoly money. Taking someone to trial for stupid crap like stealing twinkies, or skipping school, or over a traffic ticket. The DAs have no sense of financial responsibility. If you are thinking of going to law school - go do something else.”

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