Friday, September 30, 2011

Bad reasons for going to law school

For the 50,000 people taking the LSAT tomorrow, some inspiring words: 

There are a lot of bad reasons to go to law school.  Here are some of the most common.

(8)  Everybody in my family is a lawyer

Is everybody in your family also a workaholic with a drinking problem who hates their spouse and never sees their kids?  Seriously, as bad reasons go this is a relatively benign one (maybe somebody you know can actually help get you a job), but do you really want to have the same life as your whomever?   And law professors may not know very much about the actual practice of law, but I’ve been struck over the years by how few of them seem to have any interest in encouraging their children to become lawyers. 
(7)  I want to help poor people/save mountaintops from being blown up in West Virginia/stop human right violations in Africa/make a difference in this world.

Cynical law students tend to dismiss their classmates’ interest in doing anything but trying to make money by pointing out how these noble ideals soon crumble in the face of the realities of On Campus Interviewing.  But that’s the point: It turns out there’s very little money in law for doing anything other than representing the interests of the rich and powerful.  That doesn’t mean people who claimed to want to do something else were disingenuous:  more likely they were merely naïve.  If you want to go to law school to help poor people, please keep in mind that in America in 2011 nobody who matters gives a rat’s ass about the interests of poor people, so unless you’re independently wealthy or extremely lucky you will not be able to help poor people by going to law school.  

(6)  I want to be rich

Going to law school in order to become rich is a bad idea.  Very few lawyers end up making big money, even loosely defined.  If you’re very fortunate you’ll make just enough money to feel poor by comparison to the vastly wealthier people you’ll be dealing with regularly in your professional life.  Plus you’ll be making about $12 an hour.  Go be an I-banker if working insane hours in the pursuit of filthy lucre is your thing. Oh right -- it’s really hard to get a good I-banking gig. (Unlike becoming a partner at an AM100 firm – that’s a piece of cake these days).

(5)  Lawyers do all kinds of interesting work

I once saw a T-shirt emblazoned with the message, “Everything you’ve learned from TV is wrong.”  Words of wisdom Lloyd, words of wisdom.   Most legal work is boring and stressful.  Not surprisingly most lawyers are bored, stressed people.  (That is, the ones who actually have jobs. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.)

(4)  The previous paragraph is irrelevant to me, because I’m going to graduate in the top ten percent of my class at a T-14, work at a big firm for five years while living like a monk to pay off my debts, and then do what I really wanted to do all along

You get the hell out of here.

 (3)  My parents will be disappointed in me if I don’t do something respectable instead of pursue my dream of being a ____

Semi-employed permanent bankruptcy is in no way respectable, and there’s a very real risk that that’s where going to law school will leave you.   Your parents don’t understand this because their knowledge of what being a lawyer entails is based on TV (see (5), supra).  If you want to write the Great American Novel you’ll probably fail, but it won’t be the kind of failure that produces $200,000 in non-dischargeable debt while filling you with self-loathing.
(2)  What am I supposed to do with this useless undergraduate degree in English/PoliSci/Sociology/Assyrian Musicology?

It’s a fair question.  Here’s the best answer I’ve got: Don’t double down on useless degrees.  People who already have educational debt from undergrad and then pay $60K a year in tuition and living expenses to go to law school are like people in a terrible relationship who decide to have a baby because maybe the kid will bring them closer together.  

(1)  I don’t know what to do with my life

Have you ever said to yourself, “I don’t know what to do with my life – so I’m going to spend three years of it going deeply and irreversibly into debt, in a quite possibly futile attempt to enter a profession that I have no actual desire to join?”  I bet you haven’t, because who would ever say something that idiotic? Every year, however, thousands of people are perfectly capable of doing something that idiotic.  If they weren’t, half the law schools in the country would be out of business tomorrow.


  1. Hey! That's my schtick, and I want it back!

  2. This post and the post about the people who should go to law school should be required reading prior to taking the LSAT.

    I would volunteer on test days to hand it out, like those people from save the children that stop me on the street all the time.

  3. "If you want to write the Great American Novel you’ll probably fail, but it won’t be the kind of failure that produces $200,000 in non-dischargeable debt while filling you with self-loathing."

    Actually I think a novel which did do that would be worth reading.

    "Lawyers do all kinds of interesting work

    Actually, I find my work in IP very interesting, but it generally consists of much the same thing, and a lot of travel. I don't think I am a typical case though.

    "Everybody in my family is a lawyer"

    Actually, so long as they are in the right kind of situation where they can help you out, this is one of the better reasons to study law. It removes the biggest problem with studying to enter the legal profession: failure.

    "The previous paragraph is irrelevant to me, because I’m going to graduate in the top ten percent of my class at a T-14, work at a big firm for five years while living like a monk to pay off my debts, and then do what I really wanted to do all along"

    Like Jarvis Cocker said in the excellent 90's tune "Common People": everybody hates a tourist.

    This kind of people annoy the hell out of me - say they actually do acheive what they set out to acheive - getting into a T14, finishing in the top half, getting into Biglaw, not crapping out before the debt is repayed(which is the equivalent of winning a four-horse accumulator) what have they really acheive but put themselves in massive debt, paid it off, and then quit?

    "People who already have educational debt from undergrad and then pay $60K a year in tuition and living expenses to go to law school are like people in a terrible relationship who decide to have a baby because maybe the kid will bring them closer together."

    Or people who do an LLM because they haven't been able to get a legal job.

  4. Perfect. Hopefully some kid reads this post and escapes the gaping maw of the legal profession (and its accompanying debt) losing only their LSAT fee.

  5. Kids, listen to this man! He speaks the truth!

    Like FOARP, I'm one of the fortunate few lawyers who (most days) enjoy what they do and get paid well to do it. And even so, I fully endorse everything LawProf has written here.

  6. The only people who go to law school should be those who really want to go to law school and have put time into researching what the experience can do for them. I went knowing I did not want to practice long term. But I did talk to a number of people about schools and what they had to offer.

  7. I've been practicing for 20 years, and I agree with all of these comments except that the work IS interesting. The problem is that there is TOO MUCH competition to get enough work to make a decent living. But, it IS interesting work.

  8. Oh yeah? Well, it'll be different for me because I'm ME and I'm SPECIAL. Me and all the other special people in my 1L class are going to be top 10% and on law review.

    The deluded attitude above explains why your advice, accurate as it is, will be ignored by the very people who should follow it.

    Enjoyed the reference to The Shining. Perhaps, if you don't mind my saying so, law schools should be corrected.

  9. Please elaborate more on this:

    "The previous paragraph is irrelevant to me, because I’m going to graduate in the top ten percent of my class at a T-14, work at a big firm for five years while living like a monk to pay off my debts, and then do what I really wanted to do all along"

    What if this is true, except I'd like to stay at the firm far and beyond the five years necessary to pay my debt?

  10. This should be posted on the door of every pre-law adviser in the country. I may go to class next week wearing it as a sandwich board.

  11. "Don’t double down on useless degrees."

    AMEN, shout it from the mountaintops! We need to have a conversation in this country about the true worth of most college degrees. STEM degrees aside, everything else is pretty much bunk these days and is not going to get you a good job in America in 2011. It's time to stop the wishful thinking that education is always worth it.

  12. "Don’t double down on useless degrees."

    AMEN, shout it from the mountaintops! We need to have a conversation in this country about the true worth of most college degrees. STEM degrees aside, everything else is pretty much bunk these days and is not going to get you a good job in America in 2011. It's time to stop the wishful thinking that education is always worth it.

  13. I think I'd modify the 'don't go to law school to go into public interest work' claim. Certainly law school is not a good idea if you just 'want to make a difference'. But I'd say just as with commercial work - if you do your homework, know where you want to land, know what the path looks like (including the likelihood of getting a public interest job after law school - including you'd best be doing clinics and externships while in law school, to get to know people and know the work), know what the work is like and have a reason to think you'll like it/be good at it, know what your school's loan forgiveness program looks like, etc., etc., it can be a perfectly good reason to go do law school. It's just imperative (as with any reason for going to law school) that you know what you're getting into (to the best of your ability) and make a reasoned decision based on the facts.

  14. @6:43 If you want to stay, and you have the chance to stay, stay. This blog, as are others, is pretty self-selecting. The people tend to be down on every single aspect of law. But I know many lawyers in firms who enjoy what they do. To each his own, I guess.

  15. @6:43: First, five years isn't really enough time to pay off your debt, even with a big law salary. I was putting in $1500 a month, and I think that set me on a 15 year plan.

    On to the question of what if you actually want to keep on at that job... That's not really your choice. With no attrition, law firm partners would outnumber associates 3:1. With attrition, the numbers are flipped, with associates outnumbering partners 3:1. (Varies by firm, of course, that's just a rough estimate.)

    To get that lopsided of numbers, the attrition rate has to be nearly 90%. Some people leave by choice, but a whole lot are strongly encouraged to make a close inspection of the sidewalk.

  16. Did he say what his debt was? Not everyone borrows the maximum amount.

  17. What if this is true, except I'd like to stay at the firm far and beyond the five years necessary to pay my debt?

    Ask yourself:

    1. What are the odds that I can get a law-firm job with a 6-figure salary? (Unless you go to HYS, those odds are not great, and they get much worse only a little farther down in the rankings.)

    2. What are that odds that, if I succeed in getting such a job, I will be able to keep that job? (Even in a good economy, the majority of law-firm associates wash out or burn out within 5-10 years.)

    Even if you ballpark 1 and 2 at 50%, the chance of accomplishing both (which is what you're talking about) would only be 25%.

  18. I love the analogy you made in reason number 2. Sadly, I know of people who doubled down on useless (including law) degrees and had babies in the hopes of saving their marriage.

    Most of the reasons also apply to graduate school in just about everything besides the STEM subjects. Students think that they will become more employable than they are with their B.A.s in English or Philosophy or whatever. Or they think they're going to become professors because it's a respectable profession with good hours and lots of interesting work and that they'll help to raise the next generation of educators and researchers. What they don't realize is that much of the work is tedious, and that you spend lots of time in long, drawn-out meetings that focus on minutiae. Plus, your worth in academia is measured largely in how much grant money you bring to your institution.

    Worst of all are the ones who go to graduate school because they don't know what else to do, or they want to delay their job hunt for a few more years.

    Of course, I don't feel anger at the students who make those poor choices: Most don't know any better, or are simply in denial. I reserve my contempt for all of those pre-law and graduate school advisors who lie to those students about their prospects.

  19. @Lemuel

    Thanks for the feedback--my numbers are in the range for HYS, and Columbia at the very least.

    You are of course right about the attrition and risk of losing my job, but isn't the field of high-paying jobs (consulting, I-Banking) competitive everywhere? I know that in both the aforementioned fields, it's up or out much more frequently than at law firms.

    For example, at banks, you start as an analyst, up-or-out to associate, up-pr-out to VP, up-or-out to MD...and so many more chances to fail. At law firms there's only one level up right?

    I do hope to one day make partner, but if this is not possible, what do you know about in-house gigs? Private practice?

    @7:09: I don't expect to borrow anything (my parents have signaled a willingness to be generous, but of course I would consider myself in debt to THEM instead).

  20. @7:09: Did the person in the hypothetical situation say what his actual debt was? Well, given that the whole idea was to talk in generalities, and not what decision one specific persons should make, no, he didn't give an exact figure.

    But, the average indebtedness is $100,000, far below the max. If the only reason you're pursuing Big Law is to pay off your debts, you're probably on the high end. (No one takes a pup mill job to pay off their $10k loan.)

    Paying down $100k of debt in 5 years is tough, even with a Big Law salary. 10 years is a more realistic time frame, but "I'll just plug away at this job for 10 years" sounds a lot more miserable than 5. Not to mention the chance that you'll be given the boot before then.

  21. 7:17: If your family is rich and you get into a top five law school you're already a member of the American elite, so you don't have much to worry about, since the system is designed for the maximum benefit of people such as yourself. If things don't work out in law you can just take a mulligan.

  22. 7:17 = Tom or Daisy Buchanan

  23. Not necessarily, Tom Buchanan was a super wealthy member of the old aristocracy. You don't have to be at that level to help your kid go to law school. Upper middle class, yes. Super wealthy aristocrat, no.

  24. @LawProf

    Well, my family isn't exactly rich. They saved up for many years with the intention of helping me graduate without debt. If I were actually rich I would pursue my true passion of traveling around the world and eating exotic things and not worrying about money, or at least become a "writer" somewhere.


    There are many other good reasons to want to go into BigLaw--tangible things like nicer paydays and intangible things like nice perks and being able to work with smart people on important things. It's something I can see myself doing for the rest of my life. My only worry seems to be that it's not really up to me. Hence my question about plan B--in house or private practice or joining a boutique firm.

    Anyway, in the end, this blog is a very useful tool. I'd say that 95% of people who want to go into law school want BigLaw, but only 10% or so get it. There should be far fewer people going to law school, but the world will never stop needing lawyers.

  25. In Big Law you aren't working with "smart people on important things."

    First, you'll realize that while your coworkers possess a certain type of intelligence that works for law, they're generally unimpressive melvins. The really impressive intellects tend to flock towards math and physics.

    As for the important matters, yes, you're working on them, but not really in a meaningful way. If you want to work on something important, pursue a career with a company that you think does important work. Don't try to be the guy that does the paper work the people doing important things don't want to deal with.

  26. @ 7:51:

    I'm a lawyer who's made it to upper middle class (very low six figure salary), which in this day and age makes me feel very lucky indeed.

    I could no more "help [my] kid go to law school" (read: pay $100K in tuition over three years) than I could buy or create a law school for them to attend. As Lawprof points out, a family that can pay law school tuition for a child isn't "upper middle class" - it's "rich." (Or, if you watch a lot of FOX News, it's "job creator.") So yeah, to the elite person who has money enough to go to a top five law school and the numbers to get in, do whatever you want - the system as we have it now will give you about 100 chances to try and fail at anything you like.

  27. @BL1Y

    I've spoken to a lot of lawyers and current law students and I feel like I possess the kind of intelligence that works for law...I guess that means I'm an unimpressive melvin? In any case there's no money in math or physics so that's not an option.

    As for the important matters...don't senior associates start managing some cases in some of the bigger firms? Where do you work? Is this not the case there?

    Again, my family is not rich by any means. My parents just scrimped and saved for a long time so I can graduate debt-free. Of course I will take it upon myself to help them out once I graduate and have a job.

  28. "The only people who go to law school should be those who really want to go to law school"

    N.O. If you ". . . really want to go to law school", then you really must be crazy, because law school is just like studying a really lame arts school subject except you have to pay much, much more for it. Yes, I really enjoyed some of the subjects I had to study, but in general I wasn't all that jazzed with it.

    The only people who should go to law school are those people who 1) have seen legal work up close, 2) still want to do it after that, and 3) know they have a better than 90% chance of getting a good enough job to make the debt worthwhile. If you don't have 1,2, and 3, then don't go.

    @6.43 -
    "What if this is true, except I'd like to stay at the firm far and beyond the five years necessary to pay my debt?"

    Like I said, getting into a top law school, doing well there, getting a Biglaw job, not burning out - these cannot, normally, be acheived without a lot of work. No news there, and I don't think anyone whose put the time in at a firm in private practice will say anything other than that they worked hard. However, unless you're well connected (the kind of connections that cannot normally be made at ordinary social/professional occasions) you're also going to need a big serving of luck. Essentially, what you're talking about is the equivalent of winning a four-horse accumulator, without even being given the right information on form before you have to place your bets.

    And believe me, when people say working at these firms can be tough, they mean it. Don't bullshit yourself that it can't all be that bad - that's exactly what I used to say to myself.

    The truth is that there are, in this world, top law firms at which the boss behaves like a total tyrant, hits workers, forces them to stand up whilst they are harangued and insulted in front of the whole office, where probationary periods are used as an excuse to hire and fire on a whim, or on pure grounds of personal dislike, with vitually no notice. The resulting law suits are all settled out of court, charges are dropped, and the whole thing just rattles along fine.

    Hence, when I see people talking about how the deans etc. of law schools are criminals who are going to get locked up, forgive me if I don't think it's going to happen.

  29. @8:07 Slow down there, did you just say that there is no money in math or physics? No wonder you are considering law school...

  30. @FOARP

    But this is exactly what I'm saying. You CANT expect to be making any kind of good money at a job that's not demanding. I-bankers and consultants work similar hours, and I-bankers only start making huge sums at the VERY top (MD's and on). I would be grinding out 80 hour workweeks either at JP Morgan (where promotion is even LESS of a given), McKinsey (where the pay isn't even good) or at a corporate firm (which is something I've always WANTED to do).

    I'm ok with the hard work, I'm ok with the pay. If I can and love putting in the hours, sure, I may not make partner, but would a 5-10 year stint at a big firm help me go in-house or into a boutique firm?

    The wisdom on this blog seems to be: if you go to a great law school you might get a biglaw gig, but after you inevitably burn out you go straight to the unemployment line...I'd like to hear more about this.

    So far the focus is on law school GRADS not getting jobs...what about life after BigLaw?

    Thanks for the feedback guys. I really do appreciate it.

  31. @8:15

    There is objectively no money in math or physics. I have friends excelling at CalTech making 50K working at JPL. I suppose higher salaries can be had in private aerospace firms or something like that, but (to me at least) math and physics in general is uninteresting.

  32. @8.15 - I graduated in Physics and Astrophysics, and can can secon what 8.07 says.

  33. ... my numbers are in the range for HYS, and Columbia at the very least.
    * * *
    I do hope to one day make partner, but if this is not possible, what do you know about in-house gigs? Private practice?

    If you can get into one of those schools, then the calculation is quite different, because you'll start with a big advantage. The question then becomes, What do I really want my professional life to be like?

    The little movies at Bitter Lawyer will give you an idea of what a bad BigLaw job is like. However, there are firms that pay close to BigLaw associate salaries but are much less toxic. (There aren't a lot of such firms, but they do exist.) You have to look carefully to find them, and be willing to look outside New York, DC, & Boston.

    As for exit options, before the recession, BigLaw associates with transactional experience and an elite law degree usually were pretty marketable for in-house positions. Since 2008, however, that hasn't been the case, and who knows how long it will be before things get back to "normal," if ever.

  34. My brother got a $100k job doing math before completing his master's.

    @8:18: What do you mean they're at CalTech making $50k? They're still currently students and making $50k? That would be an incredibly sweet deal. Lower management positions with NASA contractors pay in the $80-100k range.

    But, even if they're recent grads, $50k is more than what many lawyers make, and certainly far and above the level of "no money."

  35. Sorry--what I meant was he was hired as an intern summer after his junior year making 50K on a prorated basis, meaning that if he gets full time, he will make 50K.

    And again, our discussion is about a very narrow group of potential lawyers--who can get into and graduate from a top 5 law school with little debt. 100K isn't that much money and there's certainly very little room to go up. (Have you ever heard of a mathematician making over 500K?)

  36. "would a 5-10 year stint at a big firm help me go in-house or into a boutique firm?"

    Sure. I guess my problem is with intentionally working at Biglaw as a step towards taking a move which, for most entrants, is what they do after they get fired, not move out volutarily. My feeling is that with that intent you won't last five years - although I don't think you'd need five years to get the requisite experience. My guess is 2-3 years would be enough. Like BL1Y points out though, you'd need 10 at Biglaw salary to pay off the average debt.

    But here's the thing you really need to keep in mind. Hard work is tough - you can't get something for nothing, right? But the job market is such that you might not have too much choice as to which firm you're working at. You might end up working for the kind of firm I described above. For five years. And remember, the firm I described above is a leader in its field - it would be hard to know how bad working there is without having done so first.

  37. 100K isn't that much money

    That's where you lost me.

    Pre-Crash (2007)Median Household Income: 31,111

  38. James Simons, PhD in math (Berkeley), is the 27th richest person in the US, with about $10.6 billion.

    Emanuel Derman, PhD theoretical physics (Columbia) is a partner at Prisma Capital Partners. I don't have the numbers, but he certainly makes more than $500k.

  39. @ 8:02, You are lucky, indeed. But just because you can't do it does not mean that other upper middle class people cannot, and have not. I have known people who did, and they were not from "East Egg" Long Island. My only point was that invoking Tom Buchanan was hyperbole. He stated that his parents have been preparing to help pay for his education for years.
    @ FOARP-- yes, anybody who wants to do what I don't want to do is crazy. Anybody who values something I don't value is crazy. I did want to go to law school for what I thought going to law school would do for me. It has worked out for me. It does not work out for everyone. But, again, my only point there was that people should actually want to do the things they set out to do that will be of enormous cost to them.

  40. @8.43 - I get what your saying. It's just that I don't believe than any academic course (which, people seem to forget, is a course where the students do all the work of learning) can be worth so much money. If it were about learning, you could teach yourself, or study in a country where tuition is cheaper.

  41. (2) What am I supposed to do with this useless undergraduate degree in English/PoliSci/Sociology/Assyrian Musicology?

    Well ... one of my relatives recently retired from his job as a rank-and-file NYC fireman. He's in his late forties, and by my rough calculations, his retirement package has a present value of about $3 million.

  42. Although this isn't a bad reason, it is something to consider: lawyers are miserable people. Practicing law has a way of taking smart and happy people and turning them into utterly depressed and spiteful people. This has happened to every lawyer I know (and I know quite a few). This is true even of the 'successful' ones.

  43. "his retirement package has a present value of about $3 million."

    Welcome to the issue that is destroying this country. People retiring 30-40 years before they will die, and expecting huge handouts handouts in every one of those years.

  44. "Although this isn't a bad reason, it is something to consider: lawyers are miserable people. Practicing law has a way of taking smart and happy people and turning them into utterly depressed and spiteful people. This has happened to every lawyer I know (and I know quite a few). This is true even of the 'successful' ones."

    Not true of the law professors I know.

  45. @9:20

    AGAIN--this is not different from ANY OTHER high paying job. Certainly all the I-Bankers I know are miserable and get 2 vacation days every 5 years.


    Yeah--but obviously these people aren't doing MATH--they're in finance, which is not the same thing. I was talking about there being no money in doing pure mathematics (like math teacher, mathematician, etc.) or physics (physicist, physics teacher, physics researcher etc.)


    Thanks very much for the feedback. I certainly have no intention of joining BigLaw only to leave. I want to stay there, make partner, and stay with one firm for my entire career. I brought up in-house of boutique firms because a lot of people here were saying how BigLaw associates are inevitably axed or burn out. I will work very hard to avoid these, but should they happen, I need a plan B, so thanks a lot for the advice.

    I'll be finished submitting the rest of my applications tomorrow night. Thanks to you guys, TLS, and other websites like this, I now have a much more grounded expectation in what I'm going to do after law's depressing...but I do feel a little better knowing the rest of the economy isn't doing so well either.

  46. @9.30 - A few more words of advice:

    1) No matter what job you're applying to, hit up some people who work/have worked there via Linkedin and get the lowdown. If it's terrible, some will inevitably bullshit you about how great it is there, but most will give you the straight goods. Don't accept a job with any firm where more than one person gives you an over-all bad report.

    2) When you speak to people in companies, ask yourself if you would like to spend 2-3 years living their lives (including whatever personality quirks they have). If the answer is no, don't do it.

    3) Remember, it doesn't really matter so much what the work you're doing is as who you're doing it with - good co-workers can make a bad job tolerable, bad co-workers can turn a great job into a nightmare.

    Having written this advice, I know that a lot of people will be in a situation where they have to take the job simply because they have no choice. Sorry, it's the best advice I can give.

  47. "AGAIN--this is not different from ANY OTHER high paying job."




    If Ibanking WAS A miserable job, then you wouldn't have everyone DREAMING oF being an Ibanker. YOU NEED to NOT make such OVERARCHINGLY ABSURD generalizations that HAve no BaSiS in REality.


  48. @9:50

    You're not making any sense. Lots of people dream about being lawyers too, and trust me, I know scores and scores of I-Bankers who are dying inside everyday but keep at their jobs for the sweet, sweet money.




  49. @9:30: My brother does pure mathematics, but you are correct that most people making bank with a math degree move in to other fields.

    But, when looking at the value of a degree, the ability to move in to another field should be considered.

    Compare the math route and the law route. 7 years out from undergrad, the math person has just finished his PhD. The law person is now a 4th year associate. Who do you think has the better prospect at being picked up be a hedge fund? (Keep in mind that in the US, there are 40,000+ JDs graduated every year, and only 1,200 math PhDs.)

  50. So these would be not bad and less common reasons to go to law school?

    8) Nobody in my family is a lawyer.

    7)Screw the poor and needy! I'm working for the Man!

    6)I want to have a mediocre salary.

    5) I don't mind doing mundane and stressful work.

    4) I'm going to law school just to graduate, pass the bar, work at a medium size firm, manage my debt, and live a simple life.

    3)My parents don't want me to be a lawyer but it's my dream to become one.

    2)I have a degree in physics so if this law thing won't work out, at least I'll have one useful degree.

    1)I know what I want to do with my life.

  51. @BL1Y

    You're absolutely right, but I have no talent or interest for mathematics or economics :(

    If only.

  52. Still on the math/science vs. law thing:

    If you're paying for a math or science PhD, you're an idiot. You should have a full tuition waiver, plus a stipend for teaching or research.

    So, at the 3 year mark, the law student now has $100,000 of debt, while the math student has probably broken even after paying living expenses, but might have up to $5k banked.

    At this point, if the law student lands a Big Law job, things turn sharply in his favor. Math guy is still pulling in pathetic student money, law guy now brings home $160,000 a year. By year 7, law guy is way ahead of math student money wise.

    ...That is if he makes it to year 7, 4th year associate level. Something like 1/3 to 1/2 of lawyers won't get that far, huge risk and huge exposure to a bad market. If a recession hits, math guy doesn't get kicked from his PhD program. PhDs aren't puppy mills, they expect you to graduate, and the people who leave do so because they were offered sweet jobs, not because they failed out.

  53. @BL1Y

    All true, but you can't really compare the two. People who are interested in law school aren't likely to be interested in math/science.

    A better comparison would be between math/science Ph.D and Med School, which run on similar tracks.

    I have nothing but respect for scientists and mathematicians and I think they're criminally underpaid, but this is the world we live in, and this is part of the reason why few people go into it. As the law school scam becomes more exposed and people realize how few nice jobs there are, I hope that field will decline as well.

  54. 100% agree that interest makes a huge difference. Success is basically a combination of skill, interest, and luck. The role of skill is obvious, so is luck. Interest basically keeps you plugging away long enough to get lucky.

    What helps with math and science is that you've been studying it for 16 years by the time you get out of college. You have a really good idea what it's like. When you decide to go to law school, you've never studied law. So, it's really hard to gauge what your future interest will be.

    Plus, law doesn't have much of a skill filter. PhD programs are notoriously hard to get in to, especially if you get in with funding.

    If you're deciding what you want to do with your life, I'd say take a look at anything you have at least moderate skill in, B- or better, and then pick what you're most interested in. Real, true interest, not manufactured, backwards looking interest you use to justify your choice.

  55. BL1Y, have you ever thought about being a student counselor the way you spend a lot of time on this blog and try to lecture people?

  56. "sweet, sweet money.






    WRONG (associates make $35-$40/hour in light of the amount of work, which isn't sweet sweet money)










  57. Sure, but that argument can be applied to absolutely anything...

    People who want to be doctors have never studied doctoring before, people who want to study accounting in undergrad have never been accountants before, people who want to study economics have never been in banking before.

    At some point we have to jump into the water with both feet. I agree that in most cases, the law school pool is pretty deadly, but that doesn't mean no one, under any circumstances, should go to law school.

    Absolutely discourage anyone from going to any school lower than T14, but within the T14, it's a little more nuanced. These are people who have been successful in life and are usually appreciative of their own interests and talents...they might be spared this brush that going to law school is a cop out that leads to unemployment and/or depression.

  58. Re: the math thing, you have to understand that real math has nothing to do with math as it is used in business.

    Real math is about solving problems, objectively. For example, in pure math you prove Fermat's last theorem.

    Business math is about using numerical sleight of hand to advocate for a position. For example, in business math you contrive valuation models that get the client the liability they want.

    Night and day different worlds. Night and day.

  59. @10:41

    And how much per hour do you think I-Bankers make? Let's see. Average 100 hours a week, 60K starting plus 60K bonus in a good year. $24/hr.

    If you want any high paying you must put in the hours. I'm ok with that. What's your problem?

  60. "they might be spared this brush that going to law school is a cop out that leads to unemployment and/or depression."

    That's fair. Law school isn't a guaranteed bad choice. There is still a huge demand for lawyers (about 15,000 solid legal jobs open up each year) and it's not all bad.

  61. "60K starting plus 60K bonus in a good year. "

    I don't think Ibanker means what you think it means. That's a shit analyst, 10 years ago.

  62. One other thing you're missing about the law is that, unlike other professions, lawyers get paid to lie, commit fraud and other patently evil tasks. It's fine, because the other side is supposed to have someone doing the same thing, which balances it out, but it's still draining to have to do such things for a living.

    Doctors don't have to lie. Engineers don't have to lie. Accountants . . . well let's put them aside.

  63. @10:46

    I go to a school where a good 30% of kids go on to I-Banks. I can tell with absolute certainty that the industry standard for 1st year analysts is 60K plus 60L bonus in a good year. It goes up for a couple of years, then up or out to associate, then up or out to VP, the up or out to MD.

    MD's make a base of 600K plus about 500K in bonuses on average. The true multi-million dollar bonuses are EXCEEDINGLY rare.

  64. @10:47

    I relish the thought of defending corporations with any and all means.

    And I think you have a very twisted conception of lawyers. Yes...obviously ALL lawyers cheat and commit fraud on a regular bases on every case they ever work. Don't watch too much TV.

  65. "And I think you have a very twisted conception of lawyers. Yes...obviously ALL lawyers cheat and commit fraud on a regular bases on every case they ever work. Don't watch too much TV."

    Your job is to bring forward the facts and laws that help your client, and hide the ones that hurt your client. That's a textbook definition of fraud. You're not objective. You're not telling the truth re: facts. You're not telling the truth re: law. You are presenting a self interested and warped position, for money.

    In other words, you are paid to lie.

  66. Oh ok. Thanks for clearing that up. Yeah I have no problem with that.

  67. " I can tell with absolute certainty that the industry standard for 1st year analysts is 60K plus 60L bonus in a good year."

    That sucks. They were making that in 2001.

  68. lol.

    Yeah I guess it does. The MD salaries recently upped from 400K to 600K at JPM because they wanted to reduce is not well in the I-Banking world either. Damn it should've gone to Med School huh?

  69. ""his retirement package has a present value of about $3 million.""

    "Welcome to the issue that is destroying this country. People retiring 30-40 years before they will die, and expecting huge handouts handouts in every one of those years."

    This is so true. This country is so fucked. If you choose to educate yourself (this, as a country, is what we want) you are indebted for the rest of your life but if you join a blue collar govt workforce in certain big cities you can suckle on the govt teat for the rest of your life thanks to unions currying political favor (Im all about unions but the ones for public employees do not have enough countervailing forces).

    That is the true issue - entrenched interests matter far more than the general will and the Supreme Court protects this lack of balance. Its almost enough to make me move to Canada.

  70. This comment has been removed by the author.

  71. Law Prof--
    This sounds like the outline for the lecture I used to give to my first year law students back in the day when 1/3 of them flunked out at the end of the first year. I never liked the "look to your right, look to your left" arrogance of Professor Kingsfield and his many imitators. So I just told the truth as I saw it even in the '70s. I would always get dark looks from the class and some would come up after class and tell me in no uncertain terms how depressing my lecture was.

    Those were much simpler times. Law school cost 1/20 of what it does now and students might have a few thousand dollars in dischargable debt when they graduated. When young people come to me now I am pretty aggressive about the reasons not to do it (my parable about Jane in a much earlier post), but many of them do it anyway. The stories we hear here are heartbreaking and listening to them may get the attention of a few more prospective students but I believe the over-all number of applicants will be enough to fill a lot of law school first years classes, albeit with much lower numbers. So, I tend to disagree that full disclosure will so the job.
    Some more dramatic filtering mechanism is needed and I would hope that some of the people here would have ideas drawn from experience that are worth full discussion. I will start with a simple one: it used to be that you could go to law school on a 3/3 program which meant that you started while you were an undergraduate senior and got your undergraduate degree after completing the first year of law school. Tuition was low enough that you had a real option at the end of the 1st year since you had real value for the education whether you stayed in law school for not. I would propose to the ABA that such a system be re-authorized.

  72. But wait, here's a rousing defense of law school:

    And here's a response:

  73. Oh Law Office Computing is back. So all the pearl clutching was just for show?

  74. @11:29 - Thanks for the links. Priceless.

  75. This comment has been removed by the author.

  76. @11:29: See Orin Kerr's response on the Prawfs Blawg piece. Having a good job != Being a good person.

  77. Look 11:41, as I have said I am old lawyer who learned many years ago that obscenity and civil discourse are not usually compatible, except in the Navy. One thing that law school should teach you is that language is a powerful tool for change. If that is "pearl clutching" so be it.

  78. BL1Y, I added a comment to prawfsblawg too.

  79. @Law Office Computing-- your case is hopeless. They equate obscenity with strong emotion. Cursing is a short hand for authenticity. Not cursing means you are fake.

  80. Must read, and very sad, link:

    Her numbers are also way low.

  81. I am with Law Office Computing on the importance of using respectful language (though I must say the term "pearl clutching" made me giggle once I figured out what it meant). It's not goody-goodiness or lack of passion or authenticity to avoid obscene language. It's an indication that you want to be taken seriously, and that you are opening the door to engage with others in a serious, productive way. And you can show a lot of passion and be very persuasive without using obscenities.

    Case in point: LawProf's post today. I think it's the best one yet! To the poster who said you might just go to an LSAT testing site and hand this out: Not a bad idea! I may do the same. Seriously.

  82. Law Oddice Computing - why don't you come and sit over here, grandpa?

  83. @2:45:

    Thanks for the link. Agreed, it's a must-read.

  84. @2:45

    Maybe should should've worked harder in her state school, studied for her LSAT like crazy and gotten a 180/4.0 and a full ride to Columbia.

    Oops, she's too dumb for that. So why do we care about her again?

  85. Law Prof,

    I support much of what you are doing in this blog--in fact told my niece who is considering law school to read it--, but your disdain for those who do public interest law (point #7 in your post) is quite troubling. I have accumulated significant debt that I will likely die before paying and after 15 years of representing welfare recipients and immigrant workers I make in the mid-70's. For the many posters here who are obsessed with ranking, I suspect I work in a top 5 legal services program. (FWIW, I am not a trust fund kid, I grew up in a housing project on welfare). Finding legal services job--especially good ones--is extremely difficult these days but for many of us the work is politically important and rewarding. The suggestion that we are all either naive or trust fund kids is very insulting,

  86. 4:57: I have enormous respect for people who do public interest law. My point is that going to law school today in order to do public interest law is a huge gamble -- really a much bigger gamble than going in order to get a job with a big firm. Law school costs vastly more than it did when you were a law student, public interest law pays as little as ever (or less), and there are even fewer jobs than there were when you were getting into the field.

  87. I have 30+ years in, and yes, everything he says is true, except that IF you are lucky - and I was - the work is interesting and intellectually challenging. OTOH,in adjusted dollars, I earn about the same as I did in 1979, and let me emphasize: the work is stressful!

  88. Back to the whole math/physics thing, I have to say that there is a glut of PhDs flooding the market and they have to find work somehow. Even if you have a doctorate from Cambridge or Columbia, there's no guarantee. I went to a high school in NYC where there were a lot of PhDs teaching 14-15 year olds and I always wondered why they, with such high educational pedigree, were there wasting time on kids. Btw, they were some of the worst teachers I ever had. Anyway, the point is that even with math/physics degrees you can still end up in the gutter if you choose to pursuit academia jobs and have a specialty in some inapplicable field. My calc teacher specialized in cryptology and another was trained in differential geometry, the same field that the guy who founded Renaissance studied at MIT. Guess what? They have pretty much left academia and have gone into the surprisingly lucrative field of math education. Same thing with chemistry and physics. There was a teacher who had a doctorate from Cambridge and another was a physicist who worked in quantitative finance and went back to it after he found the pay to be too low (like he can do better as an unemployed physicist). Don't put the STEM fields on the pedestal and think they are immune to unemployment as I've seen first-hand. When it comes to comparing lawyers to physicists working on wall street, think about this: Is there much of a difference between a lawyer who lies and physicist/mathematician destroying the economy with exotic derivatives and statistical arbitrage? Is it ethical to apply tools from statistical mechanics and stochastic calculus to wreck destruction on our economy? I have a degree in mathematics myself but I'll rather become an actuary or a business analyst but at least that only requires a BA.

  89. @3:10--Just got this joke--made me think of you:

    I took my dad to the mall the other day to buy some new shoes (he is 76).

    We decided to grab a bite at the food court.

    I noticed he was watching a teenager sitting next to him.

    The teenager had spiked hair in all different colors - green, red,
    orange, and blue.

    My dad kept staring at her.

    The teenager kept looking and would find my dad staring every time.

    When the teenager had had enough, she sarcastically asked:
    "What's the matter old man, never done anything wild in your life?"

    Knowing my Dad, I quickly swallowed my food so that I would not
    choke on his response; I knew he would have a good one!

    In classic style he responded without batting an eyelid .....

    "Got stoned once and had sex with a parrot. I was just wondering if
    you might be my kid."

  90. Why doesn't someone create a website like but exclusively for law school grads who are unemployed/underemployed? Let's see the real faces and facts. Tell us where you went to school, your class rank if applicable, how much debt you have, and how long you were employed/how long you've been looking/what you're currently earning at your crap job, etc. Presented like that the information would have a real impact and could catch on in the current climate.

  91. Why would that information be reliable?

  92. Maybe I've missed it, but is there some non-law career path where matriculating at a grad school offering an advanced degree in that line of work is a guarantee of employment in that line of work? By this logic it's irrational to go to film school unless you already know somehow that you're Sergei Eisenstein, or irrational to get a Ph.D. in philosophy because there's a very good chance that you might not get an academic job. There's no field that hands out jobs to everyone who wants one. Every educational investment is a risk.

  93. The bottom-line is that everyone must know people and network as never before to get jobs because, increasingly, the goal of merit-based recognition is lost in the United States. "Who you know" is almost completely trumping "what you know" in the current economic climate. Nepotism and favoritism are the new norm; fairness be damned.

  94. @8:53: Alongside nepotism is credentialism. Knowing things and being smart are irrelevant. What matters is having the right degree and years of experience, bright line items on your resume.

    Middle managers often have cushy jobs they don't want to lose. Taking a risk (such as on an employee hire) can be disastrous. If you say "Sure, he only has a high school diploma, but was able to quote every major econ text verbatim" you're putting your ass on the line, taking a risk. If he doesn't work out, you're in trouble. If you say "he had an MA in econ, and 2 years at XYZ" you're safe, even if he had the interview skills of a wet noodle.

    Same goes for law. Are there people who'd be superb attorneys who are middling students at middling schools? No doubt there are. But, no one gets read the riot act for hiring an incompetent T14 grad.

    Boomers understood how credentialism worked, and that help fuel the fire. When they gave their kids advice on education and careers, they emphasized resume line items, not actual education. They'd tell their kids not to worry about learning things, just make sure the person in charge of hiring can check the right box when you interview.

  95. "MD's make a base of 600K plus about 500K in bonuses on average. The true multi-million dollar bonuses are EXCEEDINGLY rare."

    In what universe?? I've been a practicing MD for five years now and I barely break $200K working 70-80 (hard stressful) hours per week (in a high paying specialty to boot, my friends who went into primary care make about half of what I make). I also went deep (250K) into debt to get my degree. Mind you, I don't consider myself poor by any stretch and I'm grateful for what I do every day, but that is because it is inherently gratifying work, not because I'm rolling in dough.
    Don't believe me? Go for it! Go to med school!

  96. 8:52, its a matter of degree. The problem is that while "everybody knows" that film school is a long shot, "everybody knows" that law school is a sure thing. In reality, law school is a lot more like film school, but people don't know this. Hopefully blogs like this are helping to change that perception.

  97. @8:31

    MD - Managing Director.

    The guy at a bank/ hedge fund/ private equity firm that takes 60% of the bonus pool for his or her (mostly his) department.

    a.k.a. Baller.

    Clearly, you don't live in new york.

  98. sthu 9:10, you're talking to a doctor who is far more valuable than you will ever be.

  99. @9:10AM

    Quoth Homer Simpson: "D'Oh!"
    My bad! You are right, I don't live in N.Y. Thanks for enlightening me.

  100. I have not been following all of the discussion about this, so I apologize if my question is answered already somewhere else. I am confused about what exactly is the charge against the law professors? I understand that law schools have allegedly been reporting false numbers for graduates' employment and for incoming students' statistics. But doesn't the fault rest with those whose job it is to report those things? Are the critics thinking that every law professor should have been checking up on those people? And how would that happen? Would they all call all of the grads to see if they really are employed? I get the hostility towards the law schools in general, but I don't see what individual law professors should have been doing that they were not.

    Posted by: a different academy | Oct 1, 2011 1:53:46 PM

    A Different Academy,
    Law professors profit from the criminal fraud and help advance it. To give you a small example, the moderator of this blog deleted my posts asking the new professors to sign the law school transparency petition, and my posts articulating how publishing dishonest job placement statistics to divert federal money into their program is criminal fraud against (a) the student, (b) the taxpayer, (c) the other more deserving educational programs and (d) the nation's economy.
    The moderator of this blog, as I understand, is Mr. Merkel who is a law professor. A criminal law professor of all things.
    Let me ask you, is silencing those who merely speak of a crime and ask people to sign a petition against it a moral act, or a corrupt one? That's all you need to know about the zeitgeist of law school and of the law professor community.

    Posted by: anon | Oct 1, 2011 3:13:08 PM

  101. By the way BL1Y. You're pretty easy to out with a simple google search. Just an FYI in case you care, which I'm guessing you don't.

  102. People who matter:

    One such protest at a school would change the game forever.

  103. Fred: I think that pretty much whangs the nail on the crumpet. In education there's a dichotomy of "fun but impractical" and "not fun but gainful." Arts on one side, math, science, law, business, accounting, engineering, medicine, etc on the other, with this latter group falling into the narrative of "being a responsible adult" and "doing the right thing."

    Law schools have done a great job of hiding the risk, and even fed the narrative with all the talk of other things you can do with a law degree (well, not you, but someone else with totally different skills) and the idea that lawyers are inherently risk adverse (except for the huge number who love trial advocacy, or take cases on contingency).

  104. @12:55: I think you have to look at the fact that the Wall Street protests are mostly a joke and haven't accomplished anything before claiming that law students could replicate their success.

    NYU's grad students had a huge protest because the school refused to recognize their union. 76 people were arrested and eventually the protest dismantled without the school giving in to their demands.

    Now, what might be more effective is to hold some sort of even at a law school, a Law School Transparency Symposium or something. I don't know how much power professors have to organize events like this on their own, but student groups tend to have an easy enough time reserving space for their events. By doing it as an event in the school, inviting students and professors and whatnot, you get to essentially borrow the legitimacy and authority of the school to get your message out.

  105. They are in the news every day. When is the last time you saw the law school scam on ABC evening news? They may also be gaining momentum.

    P.s. your analysis of fun vs. Practical majors is laughably self centered. Realize your interests dont define the term fun.

  106. Way late but to the person at 10:07
    Wow you just described me so well it was eerie - but right now I am regretting law school quite hard.

  107. FYI, some student made a spreadsheet "proving" that law school is worth the money. So that you don't bother wasting time on it, his assumptions are:

    (a) That had you not gone to law school you would "only" make $60,000.

    (b) That with law school you will make $160,000, increasing at 3% per year forever.

  108. what if I am an independent accounting consultant who is working full time during full time law school and will graduate from a t25 law school with 25 k debt (estimated repayment 1.5 years)and my current job, which with JD I will be able to build upon and increase my consulting hourly rate? Is this a good idea?

  109. @9.14 - So long as you've done the sums, know exactly what you're going to do with it, and it all adds up even if things turn out worse than expected, then sure, why not? Could you please tell all the other law students to do the same kind of analysis?

  110. well according to my analysis if one does not work while in law school (with at least keeping that job after law school) and does not go to a relatively inexpensive law school with partial scholarship it is totally not worth it. But ABA prohibits employment of more than 20 hours while attending law school full time. Because they would like all law students to have slave mentality of being committed to law. But I keep my mouth shut and am almost halfway through so hopefully I will make it to the end.

  111. The ABA also prohibits missing too many classes and requires a rigorous writing project.

    What the ABA doesn't know won't hurt it.

  112. Yeah they do prohibit missing too many classes because if kids who did not attend a single class get the highest grades on the final by merely reading a study aid the nature of the scam and the worthlessness of law school and law professors will become just so much more obvious.

  113. It's also a requirement that's entirely consistent with a sincere belief that law school provides some important preparatory function.

  114. To the original Sept 30, 6:43 a.m.: I think if you have the numbers to get into HYS, go for it. I don't know many of my H classmates that have regretted their law school experience (except for a certain editor of ATL, who shall remain nameless, and who is still making some easy money out of the brand recognition he gets). Law school is not a crappy option for everyone, just most people. If you can pull CCN and your parents are paying, I'm also inclined to say why not. I've been in the big law game for the better part of a decade now. It's not really fun work, but I can't say I regret my decision to go to law school. If you want to be very successful and don't think you're a great fit for I-banking or medicine, and you're not generally inclined in the math/science direction, you may have limited options, even if you are extremely bright. That said, you should know what you're getting into.

    You are asking questions and thinking quite a bit, which shows to me that you are not the type of person this blog is designed to dissuade. I do agree that law school is likely a horrible choice for anyone not in a top tier school, and maybe we could broaden it to top 14 in this economy (though a full ride from the school or parents could make a big difference).

    The comments here have been interesting. The question of what is a fun, easy job with no risk that pays reasonably well is something everyone asks themselves. If we knew the answer, maybe we'd all do it (myself included).

    BL1Y: Go out to China, man, and you will land something and likely be making 6 figures within a few years. Seems you've already given up. There are so many out there with worse prospects than you.


    There needs to be more revelations like this. The foundation is cracking like never before.

  116. Oh, it is cracking. Take a look at this article:

  117. From the WSJ article:

    "We spoke to Wendy Margolis, a spokeswoman for the Law School Admission Council. The recent LSAT data, she said, suggests that law school applications likely will continue to decline in the near term. “I think until good press gets out there about the job situation for lawyers, this decline will likely continue.” But she concurs with the view of some law school admissions officers that the caliber of applicants has changed. “People who aren’t as Gung-ho about law school are dropping out of the application pool,” she said. “They aren’t just doing it, because they can’t figure out what else to do.”

    Don't you just LOVE how they seemingly imply that the law students in the past didn't take law school seriously...and indirectly imply that the current economic fate of yesteryear's crop of law school grads is somehow tied to their lack of seriousness?

    Total BS. These schools certainly weren't bitching about the perceived weaknesses and lack of dedication of these former graduates while they took their tuition money.

    It seems to be lost on them that potential students are NOT gung-ho about what has become a well-established failure and poor investment.

  118. Perhaps I am in the rare minority, but I have NEVER met a law student who went to law school because they can't figure out what else to do.

  119. And they don't even consider the fact that the law schools might have a less selective pool of possible candidates because the "smart ones" never even considered law school a viable option with much of what is now known about the inflated employment numbers, etc.

  120. What I hate about these WSJ articles is that many people perceive this as FEWER people attending law school. The reality is that the SAME number of people are attending law school; all that this means is that LESS people are applying for the same 300-500 open seats each year. The only thing this means for law schools is that they get fewer people to rip off with their 50-100 dollar application fee, and that, of course, is a drop in the bucket.

    The real change will come when the default crisis rips this open in the coming months into the next year and beyond. The 3 year deferment window for federal loans will have been maxed out for many unemployed people who graduated in 2009. Once the student loan crisis cripples the industry, then you will see a dramatic decline in the tier 3 and tier 4 schools with some likely closing. That trend will then eat into the outermost tier 2 schools in the following year. The top 14 schools will likely remain unaffected but the growing taint on the profession and educational institutions will color even their reputations.

    Mark my words. This is exactly how this is going to play out.

  121. Five kids went to law school
    In Autumn's Gothic season.

    Children Bright
    with much ambition
    without the money for tuition.

    All were dead within five years.
    By suicide, so it appears.

    1. Billy was the first to go.
    He blew his brains out with a shotgun.

    2. Next came Jennie, who, for fun
    took a swan dive from a bridge
    in freezing snow
    and struck cold water far below.

    3. Celeste, the Artsy Craftsy one,
    clever and footloose,
    used her good hands to make a noose;
    and with a face both tight and grim
    her clumsy feet slipped from a limb.

    4. Next came feety Petey:
    and as you all will see;
    he sliced his two arms viciously!

    5. Mikey, the Red Caboose
    was such a silly goose!
    he made himself a royal pain!
    They had to scrape him from a train!

    Five kids went to Law School
    in Autumn's Gothic season
    Children bright, with much ambition
    without the money for tuition.

    All were dead within five years
    by suicide, so it appears.
    And for the selfsame reason
    Read on if you think I'm teasin'

    The darkest sin that's known to man
    is to take one's life....
    with one's own hand.

    JD Painter

    (This is just artistic expression. Just a poem that I wrote over a year ago)

  122. I am transitioning into an of counsel status after 29 years as a tax attorney.

    It's been a good run and I have a lot of respect for the areas in which I practice (estate planning, general tax law, business representation and probate), but I am glad I am at the tail end of it.

    I was forced to go to a state college because I didn't qualify for a student loan to go to one of the better colleges to which I had been admitted (thank you, God). Back then, a student had to demonstrate substantial economic hardship to get a student loan.

    My parents paid for most of my college education, but I also worked to supplement their load.

    I lived with my parents during law school, took a city bus to school (a state university) because I didn't own a car and worked my way through, so I graduated not owing a dime to anyone.

    I borrowed $12,000 (around $25,000 in today's dollars), because student loan availability had loosened up a good bit) and got my LLM in tax law from the University of Florida.

    If I had it to do all over again, I would probably take the same path (3 degrees in 3 different state universities).

    I easily paid off the debt that I incurred in connection with getting an LLM.

    I live in a college town and I chuckle at the college kids who drive substantially nicer vehicles than I do (by my own choice, not by necessity).

    I strongly suspect that a lot of students fund their rather enviable lifestyles with student loans.

    When I talk to associates, I learn metaphors like "a mortgage with no house" and other realities about the cost of law school and the availability of student loans.

    I still think that a person can make a fairly comfortable living practicing law, but little more for the vast majority of lawyers.

    I am also worried about the socialization of the practice of law by state Supreme Courts under the "access to justice" movement that they will thrust on the legal community.

    In other words, I expect state Supreme Courts to mandate that private sector lawyers (they will exempt themselves, law profs and government lawyers from compliance) devote a substantial amount of their practices to representing people who think that a lawyer should work for free to prosecute their landlord-tenant lawsuits and other non-personal injury civil litigation.

  123. Can you please write a post about Good Reasons For Going to Law School? There must be a case to be made, and it would be a lot more useful to hear your more complete thoughts on the matter.

  124. I would still like to know what to do with a PoliSci degree. Kind of kicking my self with how crappy the legal industry is and no other job interests. hopefully i'll get an apprenticeship soon and then go in to general contracting.

  125. Then, cells that destroy bacteria and cell debris wipe out the
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