Carmichael is certainly not stupid:
"At 13, when most boys are fretting about the perils of girls and middle school, Post was attending Cal State Los Angeles, working on degrees in computer science and applied mathematics. At 18, Post was entering USC Gould School of Law. At 22, Post became a member of the State Bar of California."But what holds him back is a $2,756 monthly loan payment.
In Carmichael's words,
"It's like some sort of nightmare where someone gave me a bank mortgage but forgot to add the deed to the house," Post quipped.Indeed, Andrew, indeed.
Carmichael, who now works as a computer programmer, graduated in 2010 with no job prospects as an attorney. So, he did what every law school tells unemployed and unemployable graduates to do. He hung out his own shingle.
Things were not going well:
"I was never really impoverished," Post said, "just terribly inconvenienced by not being able to collect on a legal bill or a programming bill I'd sent out two months earlier. What little stable income I had wasn't enough to get by on. There were times when I had to decide on whether to buy enough gas to get back to court or buy lunch."
Post struggled to avoid feeling discouraged.
"The last time I went into court, I was wearing something that I got at Goodwill," Post said. "The two lawyers on the other side were each wearing suits worth more than my car."Post now makes between $80,000 and $96,000 as a programmer, so he is doing a lot better than most J.D.'s. The financial advisor told Post to build up an emergency fund, and throw extra money at his debt, while continuing to live at his parents' place for at least the next six years to pay off his debt in full. Luckily, Post is a child prodigy, so he will only be 30 when he is free of the shackles of debt slavery.
There are a couple of things that don't portend well for future law graduates stuck in Post's position. First, Post has the option of living with his parents and having them subsidize his basic living costs. What will happen to future generations of graduates whose parents are still living in a small apartment, still paying off their own debt? Second, Post has other marketable skills that enabled him to get a well-paying job. Most J.D.s are humanities graduates who go to law school after realizing that an undergraduate degree in Post-War Soviet Literature is not going to pay the bills. What will people without specific marketable skills who have such a huge debt load do when the only jobs available are at traffic firms paying $20,000 with no benefits?
All the while, professors are laughing all the way to the bank, producing increasingly useless "legal scholarship" and getting huge "research stipends" every summer so they can take lavish vacations disguised as research trips. ScamDeans are touting the latest way to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear: "practice ready curriculums".
A large problem arises because a great deal of the public still thinks that no matter what, lawyers can hang out a shingle and make a good living. I was talking to a friend this past weekend who said as much. When I responded that most self-employed lawyers are now trying to fight for bottom of the barrel clientele who will ultimately try not to pay you, he was genuinely surprised.
Many people assume that students go to law school because they solely make the decision to do so. We overlook the great many students pushed into law school by their families or spouses. It is easy to go to law school as a way to extend the inertia many people fall into while in college. When a person you trust tells you, "Go get a law degree. John's kid just graduated and now has a job in [eminent BigLaw firm]", it is easy to just go along with it.
I think that the scamblog movement is important, but we also need to educate the general public about what a cesspool the legal profession in general has been for a while. Until parents are disabused of the notion that Junior can major in anything as an undergrad because he can always buy a ticket to the upper class by going to law school, nothing will change. So the next time you hear someone bragging about their kid enrolling in law school, make a point to try and dispell the myth of the legal professions as golden ticket. It may make you unpopular with those who don't want to believe you. But, stopping even one person from ruining their life by going to law school is worth it.