"I smell a rat"? "Beware Greeks bearing gifts"?
Nicole Black and Heather Morse, supposedly "two leading voices in the legal industry" (though I had never heard of them), did the law-school scam a service with their obviously staged but less obviously biased dialogue on the wisdom or otherwise of attending law school. They start with some reasons not to attend, and they cover them with reasonable accuracy, albeit with a heavy foot on the soft pedal.
Then they present "GOOD REASONS TO GO TO LAW SCHOOL":
For starters, it’s a great education that will provide foundational skills, such as analytical thinking and persuasion capabilities, that easily translate and provide value to many different career paths, both legal and nonlegal.
No, it isn't. People who don't have those skills probably won't acquire them in law school. And while a legal education may conceivably "provide value" for careers outside the practice of law, it will not open the door to those careers; it is likely to do just the opposite.
For those passionate about social justice, a law degree is a powerful tool. Now more than ever, we need good lawyers out there who can right wrongs, to cut through red tape, to make a difference for their clients. Whether in private practice or public service, being a lawyer is still a noble profession, and we will always need good advocates.
Note the typical equivocation on the word need, and even on the word we. Do "we need good lawyers"? Yes, if that phrase means 'Society will be better off with capable lawyers acting in the public interest'. No, if the phrase means 'Employers and clients demand additional lawyers and are prepared to pay them'.
However "passionate about social justice" you may be, O prospective law student, you must put bread on the table before you can right wrongs, cut through red tape, or make a difference for clients. Don't fall for the noble-sounding appeal to "social justice" or the quixotic starving-artist-in-a-garret fantasy that richly paid scamsters dangle before you: ask the crucial question, Can I make a living as a lawyer?
Access to justice is another important and somewhat related consideration that aligns with social justice. Legal services funding has been drastically cut in recent years, resulting in reduced access. Rural areas in the United States are particularly underserved and in need of dedicated lawyers who are focused on making a difference in the lives of those who need their assistance the most.
There is "reduced access" to the legal profession, too, because there is not enough "funding" for lawyers. Rural areas may be "particularly underserved and in need of dedicated lawyers", but they cannot pay for legal services. Don't believe the hype about allegedly abundant opportunities in Bumblefuck, Nebraska.
To me it comes down to the “why.” Keep asking yourself those why questions to find your motivation. I spoke to a friend recently who is considering going to law school as a second career (he’s in his early 40s). After a series of “why” questions, his motives for law school were sound, and he asked if he could call me once he began his application process.
Having gone to law school in my forties and faced exclusion despite top grades at a top law school and much else to recommend me, I'd love to hear this guy's "sound" motives for going to law school. He'll be in his mid-forties when he finishes, and he'll find that no employer wants to give him the time of day. Again, a good "motivation" doesn't count for much in the absence of opportunities. And there has been a glut of new lawyers for many years.
These two "leading voices" also offer some "FINAL ADVICE", most notably the following suggestions:
Take some time off to travel and explore the world and grow as a person.
That's charming advice for a trust-fund baby. How are ordinary stiffs like Old Guy supposed "to travel and explore the world"?
Intern in a law office to learn what it’s truly like to practice law in order to decide if it’s really what you want to do.
It's hard enough to get an unpaid position in a law office as a law student, never mind as a 0L. Of course, those with the money to travel the world at age 22 are likely to have connections who can arrange an "internship" in some high place.
And I doubt whether many so-called interns "learn what it's truly like to practice law". They stand a better chance of doing makework, or nothing at all, and seeing next to nothing of legal practice.
Consider night school or a lower-tier law school that offers scholarship options so that you can pay for law school as you go and avoid debt.
Stupid advice. It even contradicts the earlier observations about "graduating at the top of your class from a Tier 1 law school" and the trend of "only hiring from a select number of schools". La Toilette may offer a fat discount (incorrectly characterized as a "scholarship"), but it will also leave an indelible stain on your résumé. Take a hint: rich kids don't elect night school or La Toilette (usually the same thing, since the thirteen or fewer law schools that may be worth attending don't have night schools) in order to avoid student loans.
Ensure that you have a thorough understanding of the effects of the changing legal landscape and how they’re affecting the delivery of legal services. That way you can take steps to position yourself to take advantage of the changes once you graduate.
Hell, lawyers don't have a thorough understanding of that. How the fuck is a 0L to acquire one?
Find a great mentor.
For what? Deciding whether to go to law school? That calls for good advice, not mentorship. This suggestion seems to be for those who have already decided to attend law school.
Realize that the decision to attend law school is not a choice between right and wrong: It is a choice between right and right. How you make that decision is a defining moment. (See Defining Moments: When Managers Must Choose Between Right and Right, by Joseph L. Badaracco.)
I haven't read Badaracco's book and don't intend to: it sounds like mass-market managerial fluff. Perhaps by choosing "between right and right" he means making the most of whatever one decides to do. But a 0L reading the passage above is almost certain to conclude that the decision to attend law school can only be right. For most people considering law school, however, that decision would be wrong.
Should you decide that [sic] practice of law is not the right choice for you, keep in mind that the legal industry provides numerous career pathways, with or without a JD.
Again, this piece of "ADVICE" appears to be directed at people who have already started, or even completed, law school, and who presumably have had a taste of the practice of law. So what place does it have in an article about deciding whether to go to law school?
The legal industry does provide other pathways for people without a JD but not for people with one. Expect to be rejected out of hand if you, with a JD, apply for a job as a paralegal, a receptionist, or a police officer: you'll be viewed as a pointy-headed intellectual (even if you graduated from Cooley with a C average) and as a failed lawyer. And at least the latter part will be on the mark. Why else would you want another job after pursuing professional training as a lawyer? Well, maybe you have your reasons. But few people will believe you, and anyway you may not be able to afford to pursue another line of work—within or without the legal industry—if, like most graduates nowadays, you bear a six-figure burden of non-dischargeable student loans at a high rate of interest.
Perhaps half or more of those who go to law school never get to try the practice of law, because they failed out or otherwise quit, they graduated but did not pass the bar exams, or they could not find work as lawyers despite being admitted to the bar. Obviously the "practice of law [was] not the right choice" for these people, but they don't get the luxury of deciding to leave the profession.
Far from a baleful warning about the risks of law school, this article amounts to an advertisement (paid or unpaid?) for the law-school scam. Not only the Cooley crowd but also many with a shot at Harvard or Yale will fall for the crass "choice between right and right", especially since they're already inclined to go to law school. And "Find a great mentor" really invites the reader to go ahead and enroll. And of course the "lower-tier law school" is heavily promoted, since this puff piece is directed at people who won't get into one of the few decent schools (few who are admitted to Harvard, Penn, or Duke would seriously entertain Colorado, Brooklyn, or Appalachian).
The correct answer to the question "Should I go to law school?" starts with an N and ends very soon thereafter with an o. Well, there are exceptions: 1) consider Harvard or Yale; 2) consider Tiers 2 and 3 (by Old Guy's ranking) at a considerable discount; 3) do as you wish if you're rich, connected, or both. Note that none of the exceptions invokes "motives" or "social justice" or professions other than that of lawyer.