Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Wall Street Journal: Tuition debt never sleeps

John McGinnis, who teaches law at Northwestern, and Russell Mangas, a lawyer at Kirkland & Ellis, have published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, arguing that states should allow people to take the bar after majoring in law in college and then serving in one-year post-graduate apprenticeships.  Given that I made the same proposal last month I naturally agree with the gist of their argument.

There are a bunch of practical problems with this approach, including:

(a) State bars have little incentive to allow the even greater competition among providers of legal services which this kind of approach would produce.  This means such a reform would have to come from the legislature (which itself is going to have a lot of lawyers in it).

(b) Questions of inter-generational fairness.  Under this approach a new generation of aspiring attorneys will end up paying perhaps a quarter the average tuition that the previous generation did in order to become eligible to pass the bar. This means new lawyers will have much lower entry costs and therefore a significant competitive advantage over lawyers who graduated just a few years earlier.

(c) It will become even harder to make a living practicing law, although the cost of entry will be much lower. Since the market for lawyers is already so heavily saturated this tradeoff will be worth it for new lawyers, but again this raises issues of comparative fairness.

(d) Legal academia will fight against this tooth and nail, for obvious reasons.

(e) I'm skeptical of the authors' claim that this approach will lead to any significant decrease in the cost of legal services, given that the market is already saturated, and that not that long ago many people went to law school while paying little more than the opportunity cost of doing so (when I started teaching at CU in the early 1990s resident tuition was about $3000 per year, i.e., around $5000 per year in current dollars).

Still this sort of proposal is valuable both as a potential long-term model for radically restructuring legal education, and for the contribution it makes to the short-term goal of putting more pressure on law schools to stop behaving in the flagrantly irresponsible way they've behaved over the past generation.

Speaking of which, I had a 1L ask me for advice yesterday. He went to a prestigious private school and had a classically unmarketable humanities/social science major, while incurring $35K in educational debt. He's a K-JD kid in his early 20s who doesn't seem to have done anything except go to school. He wants to do public interest/government law (Update: In regard to how practical this desire might be see this comment. And this one.  And this one.) He has no interest at this point in working for a law firm. He got middling grades his first semester.  He's got no scholarship money or help from his family, so if he stays the course he's going to have around $200K in educational debt by the time he's done ($110K or so for tuition -- eight years ago he would have paid $33K total in tuition -- $40K for living expenses, the undergrad debt, plus accrued interest).  This debt will have an average interest rate of around 7.3% so he'll be looking at $15K a year in interest payments. CU's LRAP program is very small -- the current income from it will cover the debt payments of perhaps three people in this kid's eventual situation if he stays the course.  Interestingly he had never heard of IBR.

What am I, or any other member of the faculty, supposed to tell law students in these kinds of (extremely commonplace) circumstances when they ask us for guidance?  I would love to hear the opinions of other legal academics on this precise point (as well as those of other people of course).


235 comments:

  1. $15K a month in payments? Is that a typo? $200K at 7.3% repayable over 10 years is $2353 a month... (still a ton of money, of course).

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  2. My advice would depend partly on how much (if anything) he could recoup if he dropped out now. If it's too late to get much back, he might as well stay for the spring semester and then revisit the issue. At that time, he should drop out unless (1) he gets stellar grades for the spring semester, AND (2) he's changed his mind about working for a firm.

    (I'm not a professor, BTW.)

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  3. Sorry - my mistake - you said $15K a year in interest payments, which is about right @ ~$1200 a month in interest. Interest plus principal payments for this dude would be almost double (a bit over $28K for the year).

    Whatever else might be said, his kid's K-JD status is the best thing going for him -- he can cut his losses and still have years and years ahead of him.

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  4. I'd love to know what to tell them as well. I'm a very, very low-ranked faculty member (i.e., not tenure-track) at a lower-ranked school than Colorado and I interact with a lot of 3Ls who are just coming to realize they've been sold a bill of goods. Short of giving them a time machine i don't know that there's anything I can tell them.

    Even though the services I offer to students have a marketable value (I'm not just writing useless law review articles), it's become increasingly clear that all of us are parasites draining the resources of the up-and-coming generation.

    As a low-ranked faculty member, I don't make anything close to the insane professors' salaries I've seen reported here and elsewhere, so I'm sticking around for at least a few more years so that my youngest child can get free tuition and escape this vicious cycle. After that, though, I can't see spending my last 20 years or so of work living this kind of existence. I'm getting out.

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  5. Intergenerational fairness issues? Surely that's a huge part of why we're in this mess in the first place? The whole "I had it bad, so I'm going to make sure those coming after me have it bad too" attitude.

    To be blunt, that's a very "boomerish" concept. The younger generations of today - like me and those I know - would gladly do whatever it takes to make things better for those who come after us. I have no desire whatsoever to haze, punish, or make life harder than necessary for anyone younger than me. After all, I don't want to be in the position of the boomers right now, who are starting to realize that milking the younger generations is shortsighted and a recipe for anger.

    If I could make law school cheaper, shorter, and more relevant than the awful program I had to endure, I would gladly make those changes, even if it means that the next generation pays a tenth of what I had to pay for the same thing. But at least I won't be the target of resentment from those following me, who I ripped off in the name of making things fair for those who went before.

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  6. Here's what you tell him:

    1. He needs to understand that he was ripped off. He needs to understand this not because you want to hurt his feelings, but rather because HE NEEDS TO LOWER HIS EXPECTATIONS WHEN LOOKING FOR A JOB. He CAN NOT look for a job commensurate with his tuition, student loan bills, or the job placement statistics as such jobs do not exist. If he really wants to be a lawyer, he needs to look for a low paying or "work for free" type of job and do that for a few years.

    2. Dear Lord please EDUCATE YOURSELF ON IBR! What the hell? How does someone not know about this? I HOPE he wasn't ignorant enough to sign up for non-IBRable loans, as that would be a tragedy beyond words.

    3. Do an amateur and cursory inspection of this person for depression and/or other mental health issues. If you sense anything, inform him or her that law school is a mental illness factory (using the statistics cited) and that if he is not careful that could cause more harm to his life than all of the above. Even if he is still mentally healthy, perhaps mention something so that as his mental state deteriorates by 3L (3L is the peak of depression in law school, with a 40% depression rate) he is prepared to cope with it.

    In summary, this is a person who your institution has victimized and ripped off, and there's no perfect answer. But that's how I would respond.

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  7. One more thing, 4. BORROW AS MUCH AS HE CAN, AS ABSOLUTELY MUCH AS HE CAN and save the money for the famine that awaits him upon graduation. There is a huge difference between having $500 in the bank, and having $5,000 in the bank. Make sure he absolutely maxes out on his student loans.

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  8. Tell him to read your blog instead of his Civil Procedure treatise; or you could tell him to make fun of Dan Markel via anonymous comments.

    Both would be useful suggestions.

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  9. @ 7:40-I agree that we are way past "fairness." Who defines fairness? Fairness is the concept that law school administrators use to justify ever-increasing tuition hikes to cover the ever-increasing salaries of their assistants to their administrative assistants and their "law and...???" programs. "We have to pay our staff" they argue.

    I don't support this movement solely for the elusive definition of fairness. Rather, I just want to see much needed reforms that will help younger generations avoid what all too many are currently going through.

    But take heart...the most widely-distributed publication in the country is accepting the premise that the law school is unsustainable. That is progress.

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  10. Here are my thoughts, based on my experience both as a former underpaid and over-indebted public interest attorney (10 years), and as a current pre-law advisor at a large public university (8 years).

    1. Do what you can to minimize your debt. Do not take on more than you absolutely need, and after your first semester or year, work part-time in order to defray your living expenses.

    2. Work your butt off to secure public interest scholarships for your summer internships, or be prepared to work part-time to defray your costs while interning for free.

    3. Network network network with the public interest organizations/attorneys you hope to work with in the future. You must be proactive on this.

    4. Excel in law school, in every respect.

    5. Do a clinic in your third year to make yourself more marketable.

    6. Use IBR, CU's LRAP (if available) and stay in public interest long enough to be eligible for the loan forgiveness (after 10 years).

    If he is committed to public interest, and willing to work hard, he can do it. He will barely scrape by for 10 years post law school, but presumably he will also be finding meaning in what he does. It's a good trade-off, in my experience. He'll be ~35, debt-free, with 10 years of solid and meaningful legal experience behind him.

    If the copious hard work entailed in this plan is daunting to him, or if he finds his commitment to public interest does not outweigh his willingness to struggle financially for the 10 years following law school, then he should get the hell out now. Public interest law is hard and stressful. It requires hard work, a strong sense of purpose, and a willingness to forgo material rewards. If you don't have what it takes, it's a terrible career path.

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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  12. I should have phrased that as "if he finds his commitment to public interest is not matched by a willingness to struggle financially..."

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  13. It is sometimes shocking that supposedly "highly educated" Americans are so ignorant of the consequences student debt. I can understand why an 18 year old might not grasp the gravity of the situation. After all, they are not familiar with how money, savings and credit work. (This also reflects poorly on parents, peers, society, and K-12 institutions.)

    However, I recently talked to a 30 something, who has a Master's degree. She had the gall, or brazen ignorance, to utter: "Well, they can't garnish wages for unpaid student loans."

    When I responded that she needs to look up the facts, she foolishly went on: "I have looked it up. I know what I'm talking about."

    I then retorted, "Where did you look up that info - on the back of a Cracker Jack box?!?! You CLEARLY do not know what the hell you are talking about. Your SSI retirement checks can be garnished, if you still owe money on student loans.

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  14. "4. Excel in law school, in every respect."

    This is not a matter of mere will.

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  15. 8:02: This sounds like a reasonable plan given the student's goals and circumstances, except that it underestimates implicitly the difficulty of actually *getting* a public interest law job. If I were confident that there was a very good likelihood of the student being able to get such a job, my sense of the situation would be quite different.

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  16. "I would love to hear the opinions of other legal academics on this precise point (as well as those of other people of course)."

    As would I.

    Prof X and your sock puppets (own your words??), how do you advise such students? Do you suggest that they "study" more of your "philosophy" "scholarship"?

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  17. 7:46 = real advice.

    8:02 = something a law professor would say, i.e. statements made to give the student false hope until they're out of the school.

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  18. I've told a couple of people just entering law school that they should drop out if they're not in the top 50% of the class by the end of the second semester. I'm not a professor, but occasionally I have a relative or friend ask if I can speak with their child/friend about how to do well in law school.

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  19. Well, this isn't quite what to tell this guy, but maybe what to tell other "classically unmarketable humanities/social science majors." In the course of my career as a lawyer, I've come across all kinds of business people who earn nice livings doing things that college career service types, and high school guidance counselors, don't talk about and probably don't even know about- mostly related to sales of some kind. This isn't necessarily a task for law schools, or even colleges, but something has to be done to break the mentality of students who see their life options as med school, law school or wall street. There's plenty of other nice stuff to do, but our society's gotten so wrong-headed about telling people they have to achieve stuff in terms of schools, and honors, and licenses and professional tracks, etc.

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  20. This post reminds me of the threat that Ted Seto (notorious Loyola Law School shill who had the gall to proclaim that his disgusting school is a better choice than Vanderbilt) made to LawProf early in this blog's history:

    ===============

    Theodore Seto said...
    I hesitate to offer legal advice to a law professor, but here goes. You do realize, I hope, that if any student at your school sues your school, asserting as grounds the grounds you have asserted on this blog, he or she will be able to discover your name and compel you to testify on his or her behalf. Your tenure will not protect you from what is likely to happen next.

    August 15, 2011 11:49 AM

    http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2011/08/other-barriers-to-communication.html?showComment=1313434175398#c2439432918294337989

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  21. 8:02 here. I'm not a law professor, and it's not false hope. I have both personal and professional experience with the reality of making an underpaid public interest career work while managing outsized debt. It's hard, it destroyed my credit for a while when I defaulted (yup!), but hard work, financial management skills (gained a little late, and through hard experience) and postponing other life goals, like buying a house and having kids, all did the trick. I have seen many other colleagues in public interest law, and now former students, succeed in the same way. I've also seen former students quit law school in or after their first year, because they realized it was the wrong path. That's a hard path too.

    The only "false hope" offered or implied in all of these discussion is that there is some easier path in life than hard decisions and hard work. For the overwhelming majority of us (dare I say, the 99%?), that's never been the case and it never will be.

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  22. After having observed and worked in this business for nearly 20 years and knowing what happened to many of my classmates, I know that the short and long term job prospects have now only gone from terrible to even worse. The US does not need any more lawyers, none, zero. It already has way too many, and many signs indicate it will need ever fewer of those it already has in coming years even if the economy improves (technological advances, outsourcing, legal services companies, electronic discovery, etc.). Therefore, the odds are stacked way against the 1L student who asked advice.

    Even if he gets a first job eventually, it won't be secure, and there will always be someone else trying to take it from him...yes, even the relatively low paying government and public service jobs. Most law jobs feature extremely high attrition. Why would anyone even consider incurring 200K in student debt for such long term job prospects even if he does get a first job? The advice I give is simple...cut your losses, quit, and go study something that provides skills that might actually be needed, e.g. nursing, medical technology of several forms, perhaps teaching English in a foreign country, perhaps business, perhaps computer skills of some form. Under no circumstances should anyone consider assuming 200K in debt (that effectively precludes other options) to study some discipline for which we absolutely know in no uncertain terms and by many corroborating statistics that there is absolutely no, none, zilch, zero need.

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  23. "It's hard, it destroyed my credit for a while when I defaulted (yup!),"

    See, advice on these two issues would have been helpful. All I'm saying that your advice was Pollyanna-ish.

    If I'm about to head into a minefield, I really don't need someone to tell me that if I walk carefully, stay optimistic and move steadily then I can get to the other side.

    I need someone to tell me where the mines are.

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  24. Well, for what it is worth, which may be nothing, because I kind of lucked in to my job, I recommend staying the course. I graduated in 2009 with $120,000 public loan debt, $35,000 private loan debt, and about $7,000 in credit card debt. I lucked in to a government attorney (paralegal when I first got it) position that paid (continues to pay essentially) 42k a year. I graduated with an economics degree undergrad and had no idea what I was doing or going to do (personal responsiblity - blah blah blah). The job with its current salary allows me to pay the $250/month payment for IBR (incredible, I know. Thank the spaghetti monster for this program, without it, I would need to pay $1700/month to get the public loans done in 10 years), about $300/month combined for the two seperate groups of private loans I have, and, my spouse and I are $1200 away from finally having the credit card debt extinguished. I should mention that my wife works for public schools making about 38k/year. I relied on her and the Bar loan (yes, I am an idiot, but would have been "up a creek" without it) during the period between graduation and when I got the job that November. To conclude the thought in the parenthesis above, yes, I am totally counting on the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness program to have the largest chunk of my debt forgiven after 10 years. As is my wife (about 100k in debt after her Masters; luckily her family could help out with the private loans she got).

    All of this is to say, I conclude go for it, only because I had no earthly idea what job I could get with my undergrad. Law, at the time, was the easiest way to narrow my options and not be subjected to the "real world". I went to a T50 public. Graduated in the top 1/2 of my class. With the salaries mentioned above, my wife and I live a modest, yet mostly comfortable life. We are definitely living paycheck to paycheck, and many times are pretty much out of money the last week between pay periods.

    If there is just as much of a chance you could luck in to a 42k/year position without the degree, then I guess my analysis would change. I still get the feeling it is easier with a law degree, and with such low IBR payments, it should be worth it (this statement has a lot of moral quandries wrapped up in it, but I decline to elaborate). If you don't luck in to one with the degree, that sucks. But between deferrals and IBR, I still can't come to the conclusion it's better not to go. This could be because I have absolutely no business sense.

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  25. "I've told a couple of people just entering law school that they should drop out if they're not in the top 50% of the class by the end of the second semester."

    Top half is too low, unless they're attending a top-10 school. At the vast majority of schools, I'd say there's no point in continuing unless you're in the top 10% after 1L grades.

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  26. I was in a very similar situation to your kid. I attended a school very similarly ranked to CU. I was K-JD with a social science major from your elite public alma mater. I too wanted to practice public interest law, and lastly, I too had mediocre 1L grades (top 20% first semester, top 50% second, top 35% 1L overall).

    Here's what he needs to do.

    1. Get involved in the public interest student groups on campus. I am talking about the NLG, the legal aid volunteer groups, anything. Get leadership positions.

    2. Get top-end internships at respected public interest / government organizations. Between the two summer jobs, and any possible externships, develop a consistent theme or specialization. I do not mean work at the same office, or even in different offices doing the same work (e.g., two different public defender offices). But work at offices who specialize in different but mutually-reinforcing areas of public interest law. Do well in these internships -- make good references.

    3. Pull grades up second year. If he really is passionate about being a lawyer, certain subjects should have a natural appeal -- much more so than the 1L coursework. This will help your kid raise his class rank. Of course, taking "bullshit" courses that do not have a (strong) curve is also helpful, but he needs to keep in mind that employers who see his transcript do not be happy seeing entirely nonsense courses and independent study for grades, etc.

    4. Go to public interest job fairs. PI/PS day in SF, Equal Justice Works in DC, etc. Lobby deans office to help fund these trips.

    5. A note on "networking." I think it is generally bullshit for the reasons noted in a recent blog post here. But I think for "cause" lawyering there is an exception. Aspiring cause lawyers, unlike biglaw gunnarz, have a qualitatively different raison d'etre. This makes "networking" happen more spontaneously by coalescing around over a subject of genuine mutual passion and interest. This is also, per my pet theory, why public interest lawyers seem immune to the astoundingly high levels of depression among legal professoinals

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  27. @8:02

    You should also tell the student that the pedagogical deck is stacked against him and the odds are he will not "excel in law school" if he has not done so already (whatever "excel" means in a curve-based, competitive, one-exam-only environment). Further, even though he may know the material sufficiently well to make a fine public-interest lawyer, whether he knows the material is irrelevant---what's his class rank? That is the only question that matters.

    Additionally, what does "network, network, network" mean? Cold call the public defender's office? Show up in the lobby of the Southern Poverty Law Center? Telephone the Sierra Club?

    I frequently hear this term, but I don't know what it means for a young law student. I know what it means for me, an old lawyer who spent 25 years embedding herself in the legal and social fabric of my community. But, what does it mean for a young law student? Without specific instructions on how to do it, and I do mean specific, it is a meaningless term that acts as vehicle to shift the blame on the victim. I'm not trying to be disagreeable with you 8:02, but I just think its cruel to use that meaningless term with a desperate, young law student. At least thats my opinion.

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  28. 8:28 here. I should also mention I don't find the work especially enjoyable. Many people think that's why they call it "work", and I guess I pretty much agree. This could be because of familial mindset (lower middle-class). But, again, because of my lack of any kind of business sense or mentors who proved you could be happy with your profession if you chose wisely, I didn't see many options upon concluding undergrad.

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  29. 8:23 - Fair enough. As a prelaw advisor, I do try to point out the mines, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate that so many people are now questioning the received wisdom that law school is a ticket to riches (or even middle class comfort). Makes my job a lot easier when I'm not the only one cautioning prospective applicants. My advice to a prospective applicant would look different from that above, which is directed toward someone who already took the plunge.

    But I think we in the profession also do a disservice when we just respond to aspiring lawyers with a glib "don't do it!" There's much more to the conversation (and the calculus) than that.

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  30. @8:36 -- When did you graduate law school?

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  31. 8:02 again.
    @tdennis - I think @omen does a great job of laying out what networking might look like for a new attorney. Excellent suggestions, all.

    As for grades, public interest employers, by and large, do not care about rank and rarely ask for your grades. They do care that you can do the work, as evidenced by writing samples and recommendations (both formal references and the informal, hey buddy-who-runs-the-criminal-defense-clinic, what do you think of this kid?). So the grading curve thing is a red herring in this context, in my experience.

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  32. Let me help:

    If this guy/gal is in decent shape, proceed as follows:

    First, drop out of LS immediately. Then do this (in the order prescribed):

    1) Take the cop test for every major metropolitan city except Detroit, and lucrative suburb. Focus on NYPD, LAPD, CPD, and places like Nassau, Suffolk, and Orange County. If this kid is lucky, he can get something for the Port Authority (you can make well over 230k doing that, and 100k is guaranteed).

    2) Do 1 for firefighting.

    3) Try to get into trucking.

    4) Try to get into the Boston labor unions, (definitely not as good as 1 and 2) and/or the NY unions if they can lead to a license in your respective trade.


    If the kid is not in good shape, or 1-4 do not work out, do the following:

    6) Try to become a bus driver in NYC or a similarly situated city.

    7) Try to get into the NYC public school system as a janitor.

    8) Try to get a delivery job for UPS or Federal Express.

    9) Try to get a job for a utility company in a major city doing anything you can.

    10) Get a job as a waiter or work at McDonalds, Wal-Mart, etc.


    The first two options are not just better than law, but will also lead to a fantastic life. The remaining options are better than law at this point (particularly with debt). Is it what the kid hoped for? Probably not. Is it going to be better than what his/her life will be like as an attorney from a non HYS school with debt? Almost definitely. The same goes for the remaining options. (In fact, there are plenty of multi-millionaires doing 3-4. Are there many of them? No. But most lawyers do not work in Big Law or public interest either).

    Also, if the kid knows of other jobs that the politicians protect for election purposes, he/she can pursue those as well. That is the key now if you are not born with money: getting a job that the politicians protect, and the public supports.

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  33. Leave law school.....seriously.

    What is interesting about the K-JD/MBA/MA/PhD phenomenon is that it seems to have manifested itself in the 1960s in part as a response to the Vietnam era draft and the desire of many low number draft holders to find a way to secure deferrals (most graduate schools ended in 1969) and it even led to the K-BA-MA-JD-public service for a while. Students used to spend a few years getting experience in their chosen field before going to graduate school. It may be that some of the inflation of US college costs date to the college as a refuge from the draft - but that it was used was notorious, examples of people who clearly went to graduate school to avoid the draft including Dick "I had other priorities" Cheney.

    In any event the best advise to this kid is quit law school. At the moment humanities/social science (i.e., "pre-law") students are a glut on the market (it would be a little different if he was an engineer or scientist) and frankly his employment prospects sound too poor to justify the debt he is taking on. Moreover, with the tiny real life experience he has secured, the choice to be a lawyer was just a bad idea.

    And that is my biggest objection to the straight through K-JD status that has become increasingly the norm in US law schools and all graduate schools .

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  34. @8:44

    What do you think about him going to the UC Department of Education and getting certified for teaching?

    Tricia Dennis

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  35. @8:02 & 8:21

    What you fail to realize is that while those public interest jobs were available when you graduated over 10 years ago, things have changed significantly. Due to the cutting of state and federal budgets, many public interest institutions are in hiring freezes and getting by on free labor. They simply are not hiring.

    I am a recent graduate who went to law school hoping for a career in public interest law and willing to sacrifice on a low salary for the rest of my life to make it happen. (Doing meaningful work was more important to me than a decent salary.) I kept my student loan debt down by working years before going to law school so that I could accomplish my dream. I knew the going would be hard, so I kept expenses down so that I could afford to live on $20,000 a year the rest of my life doing the public interest work I love.

    I thought living on $20,000 a year w/ student loan debt to pay off was living frugally, but the problem is there is no public interest jobs that pay even $20,000 a year. It's been two years since I graduated and I have yet to find any public interest job that pays at all. Many jobs want you to work 60-80 a week for free and the unpaid internship period often lasts for years. To date, I have worked a year and a half for free in public interest law. I haven't received a dime in paid legal work to date. While I was prepared to sacrifice, I wasn't prepared not to make any income at all. (Last time I checked, my rent isn't free, my law school tuition and the ensuing student loan payments, food, gas, and car insurance is not free.)

    I continually check for a paid public interest positions, but I find about 80% of any positions advertised are unpaid and there is fierce competition for the remaining 20%. Just recently, the local district attorney's office advertised an DA attorney position - over 500 applicants applied for the one position.

    I know it's tempting for you to tell the youngsters to simply follow your path because it worked for you, but make sure you tailor your advice to the circumstances today. Today, any recent grads who want to work in public interest law better be prepared to work for free for many years AFTER graduation before they are even considered for public interest positions. And even then, they will have about as much chance at getting a public interest position as they will have winning the lottery.

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  36. I skimmed these comments so I may have missed it, but this 1L knows that getting a public interest job is extremely unlikely when you consider the competition among so many others fighting for the same job, right?

    Also, if he does not get the public interest job, I guess there is IBR for the fed loans. I have never liked IBR for various reasons. I cannot decide which is worse, watching the debt grow on a person's credit (goodbye home or car loan), the tax bill at the end, or the fact that the government can change the terms at anytime.

    This kid needs to drop out and think of another career. I don't care if he lands the "coveted" biglaw 160K lottery-but-you-are-still-miserable job.

    Run First Year, Run

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  37. -- @8:39

    I graduated 2011. I had to bust my ass to find a real job, which happened right around bar results. But I was getting interviews places at a far better rate than many of my unemployed peers, because of doing the things I've outlined.

    It's not ideal, but if you want to do a certain legal career and you are passionate about it, and you realize you are smart enough so that with minimal training you will do as good or better at it as many lawyers, quitting just seems unsavory. This, I think, applies overwhelmingly to gov't / public interest, or other "cause" lawyering, than to biglaw undifferenciated careerism.

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  38. And why, again, can law schools charge what they charge so this guy (and others in this comment thread) can live a life of poverty to do "god's work?"

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  39. Just want to echo what's been said about networking- its only marginally useful for brand new grads, and is basically worthless as a strategy. Successful networking is based on some sort of mutual benefit, e.g., the trusts and estates lawyer and the financial advisor who refer clients back and forth to each other. Brand new grads have nothing to offer. Hi, let's get together for some coffee so I can tell you how badly I need a job doesn't cut it.

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  40. Does anyone but me believe it ludicrous that the tragedy of the student LawProf blogged about could be averted if the ABA would be a true trade organization (as a judge-friend of mine claims it is) and engineer the closing of all but about 50 law schools? Such a simple solution, and yet so unattainable.

    Tricia Dennis

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  41. @9:18

    You explained the problem so much better than I.

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  42. The "tragedy" is also the cost not just the ability to limit the practice that would help protect YOUR job.

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  43. @9:20
    Tricia, you are absolutely correct. The numbers clearly indicate that no more than 50 law schools are needed. No more than 50 law schools have been needed for a great many years. The solution is indeed very clear and simple.

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  44. "Tricia, you are absolutely correct. The numbers clearly indicate that no more than 50 law schools are needed. No more than 50 law schools have been needed for a great many years. The solution is indeed very clear and simple."

    http://www.top-law-schools.com/rankings.html

    Whew!

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  45. The number of law schools is a result of unlimited seemingly-free money from the federal government. The answer isn't rent-seeking, cartelization, and more laws, it's eliminating the source of the problem - unlimited seemingly-free loans.

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  46. So a cartel subsidized by the federal government so that law schools can still charge unconcsionable tuition and leave new lawyers in debt for life....thats the clear and simple solution. Ahhh lawyers, gotta love 'em.

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  47. There's another problem with this -- and in general, with well-intentioned law students -- that I don't think has been mentioned: the assumption that they will enjoy working for a public interest organization.

    I also fancied myself interested in working in "public interest." I think we need to talk more about what that means, separate from the obvious fact that even without loans, you'd be hard-pressed in most jobs to pay the rent on a shared, crappy apartment.

    Since graduating from HYS a few years back -- BigLaw offers were not hard to come by, and many friends went to work in the public interest (typically without or with less debt -- even a generous loan repayment program will not allow you to save money and start life) -- I discovered a few things.

    First, it's something of a cult. You need to prove you're one of them. Working at a firm first is often considered a negative, and personal contacts and demonstrated affinity are crucial, not unlike working in some sections of the Bush-era DOJ, with the only difference being demonstration of liberal as opposed to conservative piety. Even if you can meet this requirement, do you want to be surrounded by these people -- and, moreover, does your student want to commit himself, in advance, to a best-case scenario where he must do so for 10 years?

    Second, depending on the type of work (and of course the individual) involved, people who work at these organizations can burn out quickly. I think the environments tend to be collegial, but there is a lot of work, you and your colleagues generally do not stay late to do it, and it is often depressing, with the odds stacked against you and your clients. Of course, some love it, and some love being the scrappy underdog. But, again, how does he know ex ante he will be among those who love love love it and thus can commit himself to ten years of it? Even an internship at the very organization he wants to work for is not great exposure to what it is to live this life for years. So, not only are public interest jobs hard to get and not only do they essentially require independent wealth or spousal support, but they are not quite what they seem work-wise.

    In short, whatever its societal merits -- and I think they are numerous and great! -- I think we should not romanticize the *practice* of public interest law as a long-term career. But surveys show public interest lawyers love their jobs! -- I know. But there is obviously a selection effect at work there; those who don't love it, leave (for better paying jobs). The difference with your student is, if public interest work is the linchpin of his loan-repayment strategy, he won't be able to leave.

    Just does not sound like a viable strategy to me for several reasons.

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  48. "First, it's something of a cult. You need to prove you're one of them."

    Truer words have never been spoken. Close-minded drones, the lot of them. If you can stomach personal hypocrisy, go for it.

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  49. 8:02 here again (or should I just change my moniker to public interest pollyanna?). Yes, the economy sucks right now, and yes, public interest jobs are very hard to come by. Absolutely agreed. But I don't agree that they were somehow plentiful at some earlier point in time. Absolutely false. Look, my second job out of law school was as an AmeriCorps attorney -- a one year gig playing $16,000. Why did I take that? Because there were no other jobs. Shiny degree from prestigious law school + 2 years of experience at nationally known public interest organization was worth squat 15 years ago, when I tried to relocate. The last time the legal job market was as bad as it is now was in the early 90s -- that's also the last time the law schools peaked in terms of law grads, and that the legal profession was undergoing "unprecedented" contraction and change. And when I graduated from law school. (Also, the problem of boomers holding on to their public interest jobs with white knuckled grips while us slightly younger folk were hoping they'd leave? Yup, that's been going on for at least 15 years too. Will they never retire?? At least there is a greater number of senior attorneys who themselves struggled with debt -- there is no kind of insufferable as that evinced by a public interest attorney who left law school with no debt, arguing about the trade-off between pay raises and layoffs.) It's not like things were easy then either. So while I don't for a second doubt that things are as tough as they've ever been now, and I really don't envy new attorneys out on the job market, it's simply ludicrous to think that it's ever been easy to secure a public interest job.

    As for networking, I think it's really important to understand that the overwhelming majority of lawyers like to think of themselves as connected. What do they get out of an informational interview? The charge of thinking that some fresh law grad thinks they have something to teach them. The charge of being able to say, "I can't help you right now, but you should talk to my friend at XYZ -- tell him I sent you." It sounds silly, but the truth is, lawyers are remarkably susceptible to such superficial ego-boosting. Take advantage of it. No, don't frame it as, I want to talk to you about a job. Frame it as, I want to learn more about what you do, how you got into it, and get advice from you as to how I can break in. Flatter flatter flatter. It works. Lawyers are that easy.

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  50. Which 50 will it be? How many public law schools does Colorado have?

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  51. PublicInterstPollyanna here.
    I agree 100% with everything 9:42 wrote. There are bright points and exceptions, but by large, s/he is dead on.

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  52. The ABA cannot close law schools! Why do people keep saying they can?LawProf, can the ABA close law schools?

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  53. Sometimes "public interest" means parasite on the economy, which is a hard spot to be in right now.

    At other times you're just some tool for a rich billionaire (Soros, Koch brothers, whatever) in their role as poser rule of the world.

    What specific public interest work does this person want to do?

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  54. I would advise the 1/2L to walk away, and keep walking. He should walk until he is lost in the depths of the Rocky Mountain National Park--more completely and totally lost than he is currently in the law school near it. Then, sit. Sit. Sit. Sit. Wait for the vision of how although years of chasing a dream brought you to this point, many more years of virtue lie ahead if he can take the first step of making an honest choice. When the vision finally comes, he will return to his tribe (let's call it a law school section) and take the name willnotbescammed.

    Ok, more than a little ridiculous, border-lining crass, but the sentiment remains. I stared down the same question as this student, and made the decision to walk away. It is a terrifying prospect, as it is more than simply changing a career path but a redefinition of self. I can't say that I have come away with any clear understanding of who this self is, but I am certain that this was I process I had to go through. As I went through my first semester, it became evident that this self-evaluation was bound to happen at some point: whether during finals, winter break, 2L summer, OCI's, 5 years into a career, whenever I chose to be honest. I would advise this student that the doubts are real, and he can either choose to grapple with them now, or push off the inevitable.

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  55. @10:01 I did not say the ABA should close law schools. I said that the ABA should engineer the closing of law schools by using their regulatory/accreditation power. For instance, if a law school has a particular percentage of its students on IBR, it should loose accretation; if the school's tuition structure is not rationally based (and yes, I know I will get some howls from some of you about price fixing) it should loose accreditation. These are off the top of my head, and many of you will have a much better notion of standards than I. The point is, if the ABA wanted to engineer the closing of law schools, they could.

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  56. "Engineer" as in "conspire"?

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  57. The ABA is completely run by the very law schools that need to be closed. You should look at the names on the various leadership committees. Many of the folks are deans and professors from true TTTs

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  58. I think a good model for legal education going forward might be public accounting. In order to take the Uniform CPA Exam, one needs 150 semester hours of postsecondary education, a degree (does not need to be in accounting, but it helps), and at least 30 semester hours of coursework in accounting. Most undergraduate accounting programs usually require at least a semester internship at an accounting firm or in a corporate accounting environment, and many students do more than one semester, or a summer and either a fall or spring semester.

    Along those same lines, it might also make sense to restructure the bar exam. The Uniform CPA Exam is given at Prometric testing centers and does not need to be taken all at once. The ID requirements are pretty strict - exam takers are asked to show 2 forms of ID and are fingerprinted before and after each section of the exam. You can pretty much schedule to take the exam whenever you want, too - as long as there are seats available in that particular test center. The exam is given on a computer and includes both multiple choice and subjective-type questions, so both the MBE and state-specific exams could seemingly be easily adapted to such a platform.

    Competitive disadvantage to those who completed law school under the 4+3 model is definitely a problem when considering switching over to an undergraduate law degree system, but that disadvantage will only get worse the longer we wait to do it.

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  59. We can't even get people to agree that law school should be only two years. And that proposition should be a no-brainer.

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  60. Public interest lawyer here (sick day). A couple of points --

    Public direct service non-profits aren't hiring, they are laying off. (don't know enought about advocacy focused outfits to comment). We haven't hired for permanent positions at my organization for over two years. New hires have been Equal Justice Works of Skadden fellows - both highly competative.

    We just laid off managing attorneys and will be laying off staff attorneys and paralegals. in the next month. Who knows what the future will hold, but I expect we'll layoff more staff in 2013.

    Retired lawyers or older lawyers with well off partners tend to be our volunteer base. (Such as the volunteer that expects to be here while her husband completes a two year corp reassignment). It's actually not super easy to just walk into a public interest firm and volunteer. You have to volunteer enough hours to make it worth my time (and that cuts into time you get a paying job) and I have to have enough staff to supervise you. Brand new atty volunteers are actually competing with the other well established volunteer set ups - extenships, interships.

    Using a high volume of volunteers is actually labor intensive and so the cut off point for the number of volunteers that an agency might want actually exists. It is surprisingly low -there are some real constraints on actually using volunteers. Some as simple as actual physical space and computer access. Some are more complicated such as management guidelines on how to supervise staff.

    I understand that new grads are scrambling to do anythign to increase their employability. I wish it were true that volunteering at my organization was a foot in the door, but it isn't. We're being squeezed hard and our internal resources are limited. If you are really passionate about public interest work (and you are a 3L), then yes, try it. Just be warned that there have been 50 other people calling . . .

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  61. @Edgar, people who have already completed their legal education under the 4+3 model would be disadvantaged, but the adaptation of your "CPA" model would not necessarily mean the end of the 4+3 model.

    Just because a person can become a CPA after completing 150 semester-hours (essentially 4+1) doesn't mean (as I'm sure you know) that certain people won't choose to continue their education further - to the MBA or even PhD level.

    Any law school that could change their curriculum and method(s) of instruction to make a more advanced degree worthwhile could continue to exist under your model. The key would be the changes in curriculum, methods of instruction, and cost.

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  62. Would Kyle of LST be a "public interest" lawyer? I mean, he's a lawyer, he does work for a public interest agency (LST), he does legal work (lobbying and advocacy) . . .

    In other words, perhaps you can advise this person to see if they can start their own nonprofit agency?

    I know it's hard, but as Kyle showed it's doable.

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  63. The composition of the ABA is irrelevant to the question whether the ABA, however its committees are staffed, can close law schools ("engineer" their closing) to increase opportunities for and salaries of current lawyers and recent law grads.

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  64. LawProf (in re student advice):
    I have always just told the truth. My guess is that public interest work in Boulder is even more scare than it is in Tucson, but I tell them it is a long shot unless they have some kind of connection that will allow them to jump the queue. The economics are daunting even if one only wants to practice ordinary law in a firm big or small. As more and more small law work gets taken out by technology the number of young lawyers available increases. In short, it makes little sense to stay.

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  65. Law Prof:

    I got to question why are all of the "solutions" are conveniently Libertarian/NeoLiberal leaning arguments although these are the exact arguments that caused the problem in the first place.

    I have mentioned Naomi Klein's thesis about disaster capitalism before, and, separately, my view that the rules of ethics are designed to protect the elite in the legal industry rather than allow for entrepreneurs in the industry. Almost all the "reforms" suggested play out the same way: They conveniently help the established employers in the industry to the detriment of attorney-workers, and, often tot the detriment of clients (e.g., a year ago it was how nonlawyers should be allowed to provide services). Who is served by these changes?

    I think this article is a perfect example of what I mean by how all of this, the issues with student loans, the ethics rules, and, indeed, the elite "solutions" are about one thing: servicing the elites.

    How are clients helped by less qualified people?

    Now, let's be clear, I am not saying there are a lot of "great lawyers" in practice right now, but, lowering standards is certainly not going to increase them. So, I am left to ask, "Who does this serve?"

    Does it really get at the issue of the rising cost of education? Think about it this way- even if you cut out 2 years of law school, if the cost of education is increasing for all schools under the Neoliberal assault on education funding at a higher rater than inflation- the solution is chimera. One is still going t be increasingly saddled with an impossible amount of debt. In fact, it is even worse. You now have the "solution" and everyone thinking the problem is solved.

    Now, do I think reducing the length of law school may be a good thing? Yes. Do I think without systemic reform you are really promoting long term reform? No.

    Without additional systemic reform, this serves the purpose of cheaper labor for existing employers seeking to cut labor costs for profit. Labor so that they can get even more out of their PPP.

    I am mentioning this because it is really important to start to take into consideration the specific interests of each party who makes an argument, and why they are making that argument.

    Once again, by focusing on law school, and not education in general, I think you miss a vital point of what's happening. If one is paying 40k grand a year for undergrad, and now, in a 5 year program, they charge you 50k a year, you still end up with a huge amount of debt, and the employer ends up with an even faster turn around of fresh, cheap labor. So, more debt, and a glutted market place because people incorrectly assume that cutting years cuts costs. It may. It may not. It depends on the entire system being reformed.

    Indeed, countries like Germany already have such systems in place. The education for law school is shorter, BUT, the cost of obtaining that education is also cheaper and public driven rather than individual actor driven.

    There are no simple Neoliberal/Libertarian market based solutions to this problem becaue the whole approach is part of the problem.

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  66. "The composition of the ABA is irrelevant to the question whether the ABA, however its committees are staffed, can close law schools ("engineer" their closing) to increase opportunities for and salaries of current lawyers and recent law grads."

    OK, as long as you admit it's just mental masturbation that has no chance of happening, ever.

    What are your thoughts on fuzzy clouds?

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  67. I like fuzzy clouds very much. And I was not the one saying there should only be 50 law schools in the United States.

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  68. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DH70wYWsK0

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  69. Public Interest Pollyanna,

    You mention making $16,000 at your first public interest job. Don't you understand that many public interest wannabees today would be very happy with that - a salaried public interest position? Don't you realize how lucky you were?

    I am not trying to discredit the sacrifices you made to work in public interest. You certainly made them and the public was better for them, I am sure. I am merely trying to point out that your situation is indeed different from the situation today.

    To contrast, 10-15 years ago, law school tuition was less that half it was today. The result? Making $16,000 a year as you describe after paying perhaps $20,000 in law school tuition and costs = a sacrifice, but doable!

    Compare that with the situation today: taking on $90,000 of debt to attend law school (average debt load of a law grad is now around $84,000) and working for free because of the inability to get a a paying job in public interest = NOT doable.

    The second situation is not merely a sacrifice, like the situation you described. It's simply impossible for the average self-supporting individual because biology requires one to eat. I can eat on $16,000 a year, although it would be difficult to pay one's bills, no doubt. However, I can't eat on nothing and public interest wannabees need to be informed that this will be the reality for them.

    Perhaphs you don't understand as you haven't tried to get a job recently in the public interest field, but recent grads aren't complaining about a $16,000 a year salary like you had. (Hell, I would LOVE that because that would mean I was getting PAID for what I love to do.)

    Recent grads interning/volunteering (not working, because there are no PAID jobs in public interest!) are complaining about having to work for free for years, and having to pay back $100,000 in student loan debt to boot.

    That creates a situation that is unsustainable. Please get yourself a little better informed about the CURRENT job prospects in public interest law that your clients will face. It's cruel to do anything less.

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  70. Only a "Boomer" would think to post that. I still love clouds,even when they, like people, are not what they may present themselves to be.

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  71. @11:17am - PublicInterestPollyanna again. I was lucky to get that job then, too. When I was on the other end of the hiring table for those positions a couple of years later, we would receive hundreds of applications for those positions, in a region that, for a small city/rural area is relatively attractive, but not a large city by any stretch. Our organization offered those positions, despite the downsides of hiring somebody at a substandard wage, because outside that stream of federal money, we were experiencing cuts and laying off attorneys. I very definitely realize that people would be happy to get those jobs today. (Also, FWIW, I graduated w/ $70,000 combined law school and undergrad debt -- $20,000 would have been dreamy.)

    My point is simply that there is no golden age you can look back to when public interest jobs were plentiful and secure, or if there is one, it was well before the last 20 years. Public interest lawyers have been facing a very similar situation for two decades.

    Here's what's different: On the one hand, the current average debt has grown significantly faster than public interest salaries (which really haven't grown much at all). On the other hand, IBR and loan forgiveness is now available to everybody, regardless of law school now, whereas LRAPs were previously only truly available/meaningful at a handful of schools. Does #2 outweigh #1? I can't make that call for any individual applicant -- that's for him or her to decide. But it is not unreasonable, let alone impossible, to try to make a go of it in public interest, given federal IBR and loan forgiveness.

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  72. Wow, people are crazy.

    Kids, when I applied to law school and ruined my life, blogs like this did not exist. I abandoned a fine career to go to LS because of family pressure.

    I pay the price everyday when I wake up to go to work.

    READ the comments here for God’s sake!!!

    I know being a cop, fireman, janitor, etc. does not sound like a glamorous job, but read the comments made here. You are going to compete with rich kids TO WORK FOR FREE!! FREE!! YOU ARE EXPECTED TO WORK FOR FREE FOR YEARS BEFORE YOU GET A JOB THAT PAYS WHAT POLICE CADETS MAKE AFTER PAYING 250k FOR AN EDUCATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    For God’s sake, unless you are rich and/or got into Harvard, Yale, or Stanford gtfo out of this profession. Why can’t these kids understand that they are the sacrificial lambs of the upcoming generation? Society will revel in your failures and politicians will do nothing about it. Society has set a path for you, do it, and if you love the law so much, become rich so your kids can do it.

    You cannot compete with people that have the financial resources to work for free. This demonstrates what this profession is about.

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  73. "But it is not unreasonable, let alone impossible, to try to make a go of it in public interest, given federal IBR and loan forgiveness." - 11:47

    I would have to disagree. You are referring to the impact of debt on a low, public interest wage. You still haven't acknowledged how this plays out when an individual is expected to earn NO wages. Given that 80% of the public interest positions I see advertised are unpaid, this deserves serious consideration.

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  74. I am doing everything I can to become a NYC bus driver. I can't leave NYC for family reasons, biglaw is a foregone conclusion, small law pays $30,000-35,000 here, and unstable document review temp gigs pay $25 an hour for admitted lawyers with experience. I am more likely to catch sight of a multicolored unicorn walking out of a happy hour bar than I am to land a paying public interest gig. Most people working for public interest organizations around here are working for free. I am not rich, I cannot work for free. If I become a bus driver I will make $30 an hour with benefits and health insurance and can have my loans eventually forgiven. This is MUCH, MUCH better than anything law can offer.

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  75. "I am more likely to catch sight of a multicolored unicorn walking out of a happy hour bar than I am to land a paying public interest gig."

    lol. excellent.

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  76. 10:40- wow. How crazy is it that even VOLUNTEER work is super competitive, right now?

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  77. Dear Law Prof,
    I'm an academic at a tier II school, whose involvement in clinical education has made me a mentor to many students interested in public interest work.
    I have a few suggestions, most of which you probably already know.
    1. I would (and do) tell students that there is no shame in cutting their losses.
    2. I would give the student the information you have on job prospects. You have devoted several months of your life to publicizing how much of a gamble law school can be. I'm sure your student is now aware of the facts, at an early enough stage that he or she can get out if that seems the right thing to do.
    3. With respect to public interest and government, the general constriction in public employment applies to lawyer jobs. There are a lot fewer, and there are more applicants for each position. A number of places (in my area prosecutor's offices in particular), have taken to expecting at least some free internship service for potential applicants. They do this because they can, and because they have fewer attorneys to do the work that has come into their offices.
    4. Nonprofits took a huge hit in 2008. Given the rebound that has occurred for the top 1%, it is reasonable to assume that the public interest sector may have a small rebound, but there are and will continue to be many more candidates than positions.

    5. I would encourage the student, if he/she is thinking about continuing, to get into a clinic as soon as possible to decide whether he/she really wants to do government/public interest work. The student should also do it because prior work experience is often a very important credential for public jobs. Externing in a particular office can be a path for a job. It's absolutely no guarantee, but it does help.
    6. The presence or absence of these jobs differs from place to place. There's no single national market for public defenders or prosecutors. Where does he/she want to live? the more godforsaken a location he or she is willing to consider, the more likely there is to be a possible prosecutor's job.
    7. Hiring for these positions is often sporadic. That's one reason why networking is so important. It's also a cheap way of deciding whether a particular place might be right for you. If you conclude that the people you are speaking to are hypocritical blowhards and that their cause is a cult, you will know its not the place for you.
    7. Does the person really want to be a lawyer? As some of you have mentioned, government or public service may be accomplished by folks with MPP, MSW, or Education degrees, all of which are cheaper.

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  78. @11:54 AM. Possible temporary fixes: economic hardship forbearance/deferment, second (non-legal or non-public interest legal) jobs, marrying well. No, scratch that last one - just joking.

    A friend of mine as an AmeriCorps attorney couldn't make it on that $16,000, so she continued catering and waiting tables at night and on the weekends. Upside: she made more in her secondary job than in her primary one. Downside: on more than one occasion, she found herself serving opposing counsel or a judge. Ouch.

    I'll say it once more: I am not for a second suggesting that it's not a hard path. It is hard. Really hard. I am merely saying it's not impossible, if it's what the student really wants to do.

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  79. 12:01,

    It is, and people need to realize this BEFORE LS. Going to get an education outside the uber elite institutions is not a game that the lower classes should play anymore. We should be grateful that the sytem has jobs that pay bus drivers 30 bucks an hour, and do our best to do those jobs to build a better life for ourselves.

    We should not hinder ourselves in getting those jobs by acquiring credentials that inspire hate and envy by our less credentialed and qualified competition.

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  80. We are back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries when elites were hyperventilating about the law schools that were opening up to give immigrants a shot at being attorneys. The reasons are somewhat different, of course, but it's the same argument.

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  81. By the way, Public Interest Pollyanna,

    I am not advocating that people avoid public interest work. Quite the contrary. As someone who had a dream about working in public interest law, I am still passionate about serving others and contributing to the community.

    I just realize that there are different ways to do it and someone doesn't have to (nor should they) take out $100,000 of debt for law school tuition and work for free years after graduation to do it. Law schools have priced themselves out of range. The poor student who has dreams of public service in his/her eyes shouldn't pay the price.

    There are other ways to serve the public w/out incurring such enormous debt. Where I live, while there are no LEGAL PAID public interest positions, there are numerous positions for social workers and such positions frequently pay much more than anything any of my legal friends make. ($40-$50,000 a year is the going rate in my community for social work positions, there are much more social work positions available, and one doesn't have to pay $100,000 to get a degree in social work.)

    To the aspiring student who wishes to serve the public, he or she needs to be educated that other, much-cheaper options exist that will allow him or her to serve the public and make a difference without going into enormous debt to do so.

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  82. "Possible temporary fixes: economic hardship forbearance/deferment"

    Oh yes, because that does a loan balance-oh-so-good. Owing more in capitalized interest will surely lower my monthly payment, allow me to buy a home, AND increase my credit rating.

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  83. @12:32 PM - I couldn't agree more. I regularly raise the idea of policy or social work grad programs with my advisees, as well as just going out and getting an entry level position in any type of public interest organization, legal or not. My regular mantra is, "there's no rush -- law school will still be there if you decide it's what you want to do later in life." I think I wrote upstream a bit that the advice I give pre-law students is different from what I am suggesting offering here to somebody who has already taken the plunge.

    On a related note, I think someone upstream referenced an increase in the K-JD types. I'm happy to report that the opposite is true. Right now, roughly 2/3 of law school applicants have already graduated from college, and that percentage keeps going up. At my own institution, it's closer to 3/4. I discuss the advantages of "taking time off" with every single one of my in-school advisees, whether they want to hear it or not.
    - PI Pollyanna

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  84. @MC, it took me a few minutes to figure out, too.

    I think that K-JD is being used in the same sense as K-12 (Kindergarten through 12th grade), referring to students who've gone straight through school from kindergarten to their JD without taking a few years out to work.

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  85. "Oh yes, because that does a loan balance-oh-so-good. Owing more in capitalized interest will surely lower my monthly payment, allow me to buy a home, AND increase my credit rating."

    Right, because the better option is to default. You're a financial genius.

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  86. @12:19

    Again, you're focusing on minimizing the debt. When working for free, one isn't focusing on paying back debt - one is focusing on EATING. I can work for free all I want and get the greatest IBR loan repayment program, but that doesn't explain how I will EAT.

    As for working waiting tables, I recently did my third unpaid internship in public interest work. I could only do it 'part-time,' as I needed to get a paid job to ensure I could eat. (Repaying my loans was the least of my concerns.) However, part-time included all weekends, every holiday and ended up stretching to 40-60 hours a week. Not only that, I was viewed negatively in comparison to the other intern who could work full-time (60-80 hours a week) because she could get done projects that I couldn't do due to my time constraints and she could stay the entire day while I had to leave to go to my other job. I am not sure it ended up being a good idea because I was viewed negatively because I couldn't give a full-time commitment. I was seen as less committed simply because I had to get a paying job to put food on the table. Competition is fierce for public interest jobs right now and they don't want anyone who is half-committed.

    I ended my internship when I did a very valuable calculation. The interest on my student loans increased by $20,000 that year. The income from my paid job was $13,000 that year, as I couldn't afford to work for any more hours as all my remaining waking time was going into the unpaid internship. That meant, for working a gazillion hours a week, I LOST $7,000 a year.

    When a person has to PAY to work in public interest, it's not only not worth it anymore, it becomes exploitation.

    When an individual can still serve the public in social work type positions without taking on the enormous amount of debt law schools now require, it's time to ask ourselves if any public interest position is worth it.

    Go check out social work, people. You can get the same sense of self-satisfaction for about 1/10 the price.

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  87. There has been a move at some elite schools to construct classes with more people who have done other things before they came to law school. That is a good policy.

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  88. "Right, because the better option is to default. You're a financial genius."

    No, the better option is to run away from predatory student loans. If a person has to choose one of these programs (IBR, PSLF, Deferment or Forbearance) prior to borrowing because they know the area they are entering into is low paying or GASP...has no pay. It is a sign that the system is f..... and that they should run in the other direction and maybe find another "passion" because this one will lead to financial ruin. This is the sad state of the legal profession and why, as history has shown, only real rich people can help the poor, start revolutions, and/or care. The rest of us are just trying to survive.

    Deferment, Forbearance, IBR, PSLF, really? These are not solutions, genius.

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  89. "No, the better option is to run away from predatory student loans."

    Did you hear that kid? Build a time machine and run away from the student loans. Make sure you thank Warren 12:58 Buffett up there, the financial guru.

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  90. Do law school legal aid clinics train law students to help clients file for unemployment benefits, food stamps, subsidized housing, and other forms of public assistance?

    Because to the extent they do they may be giving law students the most practically valuable information they'll get in law school these days.

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  91. As a practicing attorney with over 20 years of experience, I have noticed a disturbing trend since the early 2000s. I know the law school curriculum hasn't changed much so it has to be the quality of the students that law schools admit. The lawyers that graduate today cannot follow simple orders, pay attention to detail or learn things quickly. They assume, perhaps due to their summa cum laude grade inflated degrees that they can do anything. I have fired more lawyers in the past 5 years than I did my combined first 16 years of practice.

    What students have to ask is what marketable skills are they learning? A worthless toilet law degree does not impress me. Membership in a middling secondary or tertiary journal will not excite me. I want a law school candidate to WOW me. I want him/her to say "I joined a clinic and got X,Y and Z results for my client." I don't give a rat's ass that you were the best oralist in some circle jerk moot court competition. I want to know that you will hit the ground running on your first day. I want to know that all the files I dump on your desk will be handled in a professional, competent and expeditious manner. I don't want to hear excuses, I want to SEE results. So next time you go on a interview, whether it be at a firm or public interest organization, spare the interviewer of some lame story about how you got the Al Capone Prize in Tax law for getting an A+++. I would be more impressed if you told me you defended your mother before the Tax Appeals Board and handed the government their asses.

    This rant is courtesy of having interviewed 6 attorneys today with unremarkable experience and who tried to impress me with their paper tiger credentials.

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  92. I know Professor Campos has a policy about avoiding harping on the same old point, but did someone read what 12:59 posted?

    I do not think people are getting the message. This guy/gal was busting his/her ass to serve the community. He/she sacrificed everything to do so, and yet, someone likely born into privilege will get the rewards because this poor guy/gal could not give that extra mile due to his/her, GASP, need to eat (while the priveleged person is probably living a decent life while doing this job to do extrapersonal financial resources).

    Folks,unless kids are rich or uber brilliant, kids need to stop going to college. Not just law school, but college period. (Except maybe community college for a 2 year stint). If people’s egos exceed the social and actual capital carried by the name on their birth certificate, we are going to be in a lot of trouble as a country.

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  93. 1:13, Thanks for the perspective. What area of law do you practice (if it's popular enough that you can say without outing yourself)?

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  94. Currently unemployed document reviewer here. Why is law school such a breeding ground for what I call these "do-gooder" types? I had two girlfriends in LS and they were both of the public interest variety. Thankfully, I dumped their sorry A**es before law school ended. Joking aside, I left a good career as a scientist with graduate degrees in the sciences to go to law school. My goal, as you can probably guess, was to go into patent law, which I did for 2 years before I lost my associate position. I have since been unable to get back on my feet and I have been supporting myself for the past 6 years or so doing document review. When I graduated LS in the early 00's, tuition was 20K. Now, not even a decade later, tuition is 40K. There's no way I would have been able to afford LS at this point and truth be told, I suspect I would have decided against law school at these rates if I was thinking about doing it all over again. Back when I was in LS, the economy was booming. The law schools couldn't graduate enough patent attorneys to meet demand. Now, the IP profession has dried up. New court precedent has made acquiring patents more difficult, companies are investing less money in R&D and hordes of people attended law school with the intent of jumping on the IP bandwagon. Unless you have a Ph.D. in the sciences, you now face very long odds getting the patent associate position. Obviously, a lot depends on where you went to law school. For budding patent attorneys, I suggest rankings from t1-t25. For non-patent types, I think it is more like t1-t10 to have an actual shot at the proverbial brass ring. Unfortunately, I'm a TTT product so except for document review projects, I've pretty much washed out of the profession. Nevertheless, I still over nearly $125,000 in loans after paying these jerks for almost 10 years. It's too high a price to pay for such a gamble these days. Even if you land a good job, there is a good possibility that you won't be at the same firm in 2-5 years. I have found law to be the most arrogant, elitist and unstable of professions. I had more stability and respect as a laboratory technician in my earlier days. Hey, I even had health insurance back then. Anyone contemplating law school should do an Internet search for "document review" and read all the soul-sucking stories of everyday law students whose dreams have been dashed because they owe a tremendous amount of money, don't have enough money to open up their own law practice and have no other options because you are either overqualified for non-law jobs or underqualified for associate positions based on the fact you have no experience, or in my case - 6 years of document review experience. Find another career.

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  95. ^ And just so you know, both of my former "do-gooder" public interest girlfriends never obtained permanent jobs in public interest. In fact, both are out of the legal profession.

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  96. at 1:16:

    It is true. Sad but true. Unless a person is brilliant or from a rich family, college has almost become a rich-folks game. Ironic I suppose, where the actual result (government loans pushed college out of reach) is the opposite of the intended result (Johnson introducing government money for college to the masses so college could be accessible to all).

    I wish I had a time machine. I would go back and tell my 22 year old self (the one with no life experience, a K-JDer) that student loans lead to financial ruin, are predatory, and that the only outs the government offers on these debts are illusions designed to keep the current crappy system propped up.

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  97. @1:13
    There are a whole lot of people in the law business who share your ideas and attitudes. New graduates and relatively new graduates will have incurred huge student debts to be interviewed by and work with, excuse me "for," people sharing these ideas and attitudes. As I have said earlier, the attrition rate in a large percentage of law jobs is similar to that of a fast food restaurant.

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  98. 1:13, Is there a way you can list the top three things you want to see in a law graduate? Please don't list "won a huge appeals case" because that's not realistic, but other than that what are you looking for? Since we're anonymous please feel free to be honest i.e. it's OK if you don't like foreign accents or very unattractive folks.

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  99. "When I graduated LS in the early 00's, tuition was 20K. Now, not even a decade later, tuition is 40K."

    The million dollar question is, will tuition be $80,000 per year in 2020 or is the upcoming decade the law school scam's waterloo?

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  100. I did a clinical and got a client accused of CDV off without even facing a jury, and even though he didn't show up to the first court date.

    I guess it turns out I'm a fucking genius. I assure you, I had no idea.

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  101. 1:13PM here.

    There are over a million lawyers in this nation and growing (with the ABA approved schools defecating over 45,000 new grads each year on the profession). I am not concerned about "outing" myself.

    1:40PM

    Three top things I want to see in a law graduate:

    1) Prior work experience, if not in law, preferably in management.

    2) Someone who can take a file from scratch and navigate it to its destination without supervision.

    3) A workhorse. I want a candidate who will, when I say JUMP, not ask "why" but exclaim "HOW FUCKING HIGH!" I want someone who is motivated not by a paycheck but by pride in kicking the other side's ass.

    Accents (as long as I don't have to say "English! Do you speak it motherfucker?")or looks don't matter to me as my associates don't interact with my clients. The judges have seen all sorts of troglodytes before them so looks are not important.


    I work in a high volume area of law (think foreclosures/collections). This area of law doesn't require MENSA qualifications. Yet, I can't seem to find attorneys that can draft simple pleadings and know the rules. I am tired of associates coming to my office to ask inspid questions that they should already know. I spend a fortune to have a vast and comprehensive law library. You would think the associates would use this expensive resource before coming to my office to disturb me.

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  102. Thanks that's interesting. The problem is that I imagine you pay your associates about $40k per year, and so it'll be hard to get everything you ask for. Actually, due to oversupply of lawyers it may not be that hard at all.

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  103. Just curious, but what salary are you offering to this hypothetical recent super-star grad who somehow has both significant and relevant work experience (basically impossible for a recent law grad) and the ability to work more or less independently from their first day of employment (also basically impossible for a recent law school grad)?

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  104. " I am tired of associates coming to my office to ask inspid questions that they should already know."

    Can you please provide an example or two so I don't ask such questions?

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  105. "I want a candidate who will, when I say JUMP, not ask "why" but exclaim "HOW FUCKING HIGH!""

    But don't you value "critical thinking" in your employees? Law schools are really good at teaching you that, i.e. teaching you the ability to be hesitant and suspicious at every step. Because you know employers love that. That's why a JD is gold on your resume.

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  106. 1:13PM again.

    I don't discuss salary until I have made an offer. If salary is on the mind of the candidate, than you are of no use to me. Salary minded individuals remind me of mercenaries. Mercenaries have no allegiance or loyalty. Now why would I want someone with those traits work for me? I pay market rate for my area of law and not a cent more. If an associate can bill 2,000 hours, I will pay a bonus that exceeds Cravath's bonus for first years.

    2:01PM

    On Monday, I had an associate ask me "how do I serve this complaint?" Hello, there is a Court Rules book which has a section titled "SERVICE." Go look. I have had associates ask me: "Do I serve the rogs on the Court?" Only if you want the Court to answer with a hearing for sanctions.

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  107. 2:12:
    What state do you practice in?

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  108. Ok, you don't discuss salary with potential hires, but you're not hiring me. You can't comment anonymously on the starting salary you offer?

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  109. @2:12 -- How many hours of pro bono is mandatory in your jurisdiction?

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  110. Thanks for your posts 1:13/2:12 and be thankful that you have a lot more going on in your life than many law grads - as is obvious by some of the responses you got here.

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  111. Firms as a matter of course list their starting salaries. There should be nothing secret about that. What is the big deal?

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  112. Yes, 1:13 does seem to have a lot going on.

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  113. @ 1:13, paper tiger credentials, grades and awards, are how students distinguish themselves from other students. If you happen to value clinical experience gained during law school over other accomplishments, congratulations- if you get every other attorney in the country to see things your way, you'll be a trendsetter.

    I've noticed that the attorneys who complain the most about not being able to find good associates are the ones who have no reason to attract a good associate.

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  114. Wow, 1:13/2:12 -

    You sound marvellous to work for.

    Makes me realize how lucky I am to be working outside of the legal field. And the thing is, people reading this and applying for jobs w/ you actually think it is worth it to put up w/ that crap.

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  115. Where do you work 3:01? how is it?

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  116. @1:13, here are a few reasons you can't find good associates-

    1) you are obviously a bad teacher.

    2) you pay a salary so embarrassingly low you won't even utter it out loud.

    3) you have lost all sense of what you knew and did not know when you graduated from law school.

    4) that you maintain a vast and expensive law library suggests you are a luddite, tech-wise.

    5) you practice in a dead end area that is neither intellectually fulfilling, nor lucrative.

    6) you seem to disdain any prospect with a backbone, usually a trait found in good lawyers.

    7) As much as law schools, if not way more so, you are ruining the profession- unable or unwilling to train and pay the next generation of lawyers.

    Here's a thought- double the salary you offer, publish it, and hire the best-credentialed kid that comes by. Tell him that if he does a good job for seven years, you'll give him the practice, so long as he agrees to keep paying you a percentage over the years. I'll bet you live happily ever after.

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  117. @ 1:44. I think the operative question is not so much whether law school tuitions will be $80,000, but rather will salaries increase to justify such outrageous tuition imbalances. To some extent, I'm almost hoping for hyperinflation. I hope to pay off the remainder of my educational debt in a couple of months when hyperinflation hits and I'm (hopefully) getting paid $500 per hour as a lowly document reviewer. Yes, I said lowly. I've already done away with my pride. At this point, it's all about the money. In any event, the reality is wages always lag inflation so alas my wish is unlikely to play out. I'm sure there's a couple economic undergrads here on this board that could school me on this point.

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  118. 3:08, Meanwhile he has a successful practice and you don't. For that reason, he has more credibility than you and you should be listening to him rather than advising him on a topic that you have no experience in or practical knowledge of.

    Humility can be a good thing in the real world.

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  119. I am inclined to agree with 3:01. If I worked for a guy like 1:13 and I sensed that he wanted blinding allegiance and/or was just a BGD (Big Giant Douche), I would probably scream at the guy and it may or may not result in fisticuffs. Interestingly enough, when I have yelled at opposing counsel or a supervisor, more often than not THEY apologize. When you call out a bully, they usually back off. Being nice to others, even in a fucked up profession like this one, goes so much more further.

    I have always (ALWAYS) found that those lawyers who cannot find good lawyers, are the craziest and assholish of them all. This attitude also reflects on the people that work for these monsters.

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  120. I hate to tell you but @ 1:57 sounds like a prima dona jerk. I've met a lot of rockstar partners who think they're the shit only to get booted for lack of new clients. Yes sir, how high Sir? May I have another Sir? Thank you Sir! Doosh bigalo.

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  121. But he has a practice and creates jobs. Have you ever created a job? No. That's why I value him far more than I value you as a citizen and a human being.

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  122. Based on my experience, I've found that if you (as an associate) display any fear whatsoever, the partners will take full advantage and correspondingly treat you like shit. You must stand up for yourselves or they'll walk all over you. They're human being too - a**holes for sure, but ya gota stand up for your principles and not let them run roughshod and project all their stress onto underpaid you.

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  123. It seems inevitable that such a heavily over-saturated market will fail to punish the buyers in that market for behavior that would be considered intolerable if there were a better balance between supply and demand.

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  124. I have created jobs. I have other business ventures other than being a lowly document reviewer.

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  125. "I have created jobs. I have other business ventures other than being a lowly document reviewer."

    No, just because you own 10 shares of MSFT doesn't mean you created jobs at Microsoft.

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  126. 3:18:

    Really? So if a person creates jobs and has a practice but has low character or hurts others, you value them more as a citizen and human being than someone who does not? Sounds to me like you are well-suited for this profession of asswipes.

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  127. Yes, 3:21, absolutely because while you sit around claiming that you've never "hurt others" (which is completely subjective) it's an objective fact that you have never created a single job for anyone. He has.

    Objective criteria: 1 point for him. 0 for you.
    Subjective criteria: 1 or 0 points for each of you depending on who is deciding.

    Winner: Him

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  128. 1:13/2:12....lol....this guy is a troll. Everything he types is a cliche of the asshole trash-practice partner with zero self-reflection. And he just magically found his way here?

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  129. You obviously don't know what you're talking about. I have created job on a contract basis, but I guess that doesn't measure up against your wonderful ass.

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  130. LawProf -- What is gained by allowing anonymous posters to pretend to be law-firm partners and dispense bogus advice, while not allowing other anonymous posters to raise concerns about posts they consider to be bogus? As it is now, the playing field is tilted in favor of fakery.

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  131. He obviously has so many clients that he spends all his time on this blog.

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  132. Me - I have an excuse - I'm a lowly unemployed document reviewer with $125,000 in non-dischargeable debt.

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  133. "You obviously don't know what you're talking about. I have created job on a contract basis, but I guess that doesn't measure up against your wonderful ass."

    Paying a guy to mow your lawn? What job could a doc reviewer create?

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  134. 3:21 here:

    Assumption: the mother of all fuckups. I love it when a person tries to teach a lesson but uses illogical fallacies. How do you know I have never created jobs? Do you know me? How can it be objective by you or anyone else if you don't know me?

    I have hired and created plenty of jobs in my life. My rule has been that no question is stupid, regardless of how many times it is asked. I would NEVER treat someone the way I hear employees treated by the commenter listed above. It does not work. The cliche that a teaspoon of honey attracts more ants is very true, especially in this profession. Management by sheer terror does nobody any good. This is why I hate most lawyers and law firms because this general attitude persists in the profession. It is not a matter of being a wimp but rather a matter of being human. So fuck you 3:24.

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  135. 3:27: It's not obvious to me that this guy is a troll. Maybe he is, but I'm going to err on the side of caution before deleting comments on the basis of the theory that no lawyer could be that big of a jerk in real life, so-called.

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  136. @3:06

    3:01 here. I work as a mediator and LOVE everyday of it. One of the best advantages is I don't have to put up w/ the likes of individuals such as 1:13/2:12 who have the mentality so popular in the legal field that you treat people like crap to get the best results.

    Most of my co-workers have a social worker background, making it real nice to work in an environment where everyone is supportive and cooperative. There's none of this attitude that I have to destroy you/outdo you/put you down in order to win. Imagine that, earning a living w/out having to tear people down to do it!

    And I get to help people, which is what I went to law school to do but didn't end up doing in the legal field.

    And I ended up using skills that I learned in law school and in the legal field. In mediation, I rely heavily on some of the same skills I used to use doing trials: good oratory, communication, strategy and people-reading skills, with a heavy dose of emotional intelligence.

    My only regret is learning that I could have had all this without having paid the hefty price for my law school education. There are so many careers out there helping people that don't require the high price tag of the law degree.

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  137. Mediator is one of the hardest jobs to find in all of the legal profession. There might be literally a few hundred successful mediators in the entire country. There's only one firm that I can think of - JAMS.

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  138. 3:37: You haven't looked hard enough or in the right place if you say that.

    Mediator here (3:36 again) and I got my first mediation job w/in 1 year of graduating w/ no prior experience. It was a hell of a lot easier to get a mediation job than a public interest law job (or any law job for that matter.) Be willing to go for the less prestigious jobs in mediation. Many local communities are increasing their mediator programs in an effort to reduce costs for courts.

    You are probably referring to the high end mediation jobs that are difficult to find. By being creative and looking in the less prestigious areas of mediation, there are plenty of fulfilling mediation jobs to be found. That's how I found mine.

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  139. "It's obvious to me that this "partner" and 3:33 are the same poster"

    As 3:33 (but not the partner), I can tell you that you have terrible ESP. You are also accusing this imagined person of doing exactly what you are trying to do.

    The bottom line is this. I come here to read interesting comments by other lawyers and law students willing to share their perspectives, knowledge and insights. I for one have absolutely no desire to listen to you antagonize and harass away every person who posts a story that you don't like.

    Look at the comment stream before and after the harassment started. Before it was good and after it devolved into utter nonsense.

    I again implore LawProf to delete any comment intended to harass other posters, call them fake or whatever, in the hopes that it will create a positive, collaborative and communicative culture in which good posters will feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and experiences.

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  140. 3:51, Can you please tell us more about how to find a mediator job? I really don't have a clue but it sounds like interesting work. If possible, can you also disclose the hours, compensation etc.? Thanks in advance.

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  141. @3:54

    Many communities have volunteer community mediator programs. I would check those out first. You may be surprised at what you might find and how prevalent mediation really is in your community. You may have to volunteer at first, but do what you can to get involved. My community had a community mediation program and they offered free mediator training for anyone who agreed to volunteer, which is how I got trained.

    As I stated earlier, communities are really pushing these programs in order to keep court costs down.

    As far as translating a volunteer position into a paid position, a background in social science/social work is a help. If you don't have one, develop it. Keep in mind that mediation is the intersection between law and social science and the invididual who can convince the person hiring that he or she has both skill sets has the advantage. A lot of the mediation positions are found w/in governmental organizations. For example, I work for the District Attorney's Office and Family Court as well. (I handled family disputes.)

    I will say, it is hard to get full-time work. Most positions have reduced hours. Most positions where I work start out at about $50,000 a year for a full-time position.

    Good luck w/ your job search. I will say you will find a very rewarding career.

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  142. 1:13PM here again.

    LawProf, it seems I have offended the sensibilities of some of your readers. Rest assured I am not a troll and I am very real. If you think I am a jerk or an ogre, you are entitled to your opinion. In my experience, it is unwise to befriend your employees. I am here to work, not to be your best friend or drinking buddy. I don't know what utopia you envision this profession to be but this isn't shangrala. You want a pleasant environment to work in? Become a yoga instructor, not a lawyer. As for what I pay my associates, I pay market or the going rate. LawProf. is correct. The over-saturation of lawyers has driven down salaries. Surprised? Economies of scale. Why should I pay more than my competitors? You don't see McDonald's starting their fry cooks @ $12/hr. when Burger King pays minimum wage. I would price myself out of the market if I overpaid my associates.

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  143. Well said 1:13. Thanks for your posts.

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  144. @4:15 - there is a huge difference between being a drinking buddy and an asshole. If you're real, I feel sorry for you. YOU are the reason you can't retain quality people. Who would want to work for you?

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  145. @4:15:

    "I am here to work, not to be your best friend or drinking buddy."

    - No one said you had to be someone's friend, buddy. But that doesn't mean you have to be an asshole.

    "You want a pleasant environment to work in? Become a yoga instructor, not a lawyer."

    - Wrong. There are many pleasant legal environments in which to work. I happen to work in one of them. Too bad that anyone stupid enough to apply to work w/ you might not be aware of that and waste their energies on an asshole.

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  146. "There are many pleasant legal environments in which to work. I happen to work in one of them."

    What environment is that? Legal academia? Mediation? I honestly have never seen a pleasant law environment.

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  147. @4:16 So, law schools can report that schools that hire their graduates pay "market rate"?

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  148. "firms that hire their graduates"

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  149. 1:13/2:12 --

    The reason you can't find good associates is self-evident. I fit most or all of your qualifications (have lots of good legal experience, about to start my third good post-law school job), and I would never work for you. Also, you do not appear to understand "economies of scale." You're either a successful troll or an unsuccessful boss.

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  150. 1:13, you wrote:

    "As for what I pay my associates, I pay market or the going rate. LawProf. is correct. The over-saturation of lawyers has driven down salaries. Surprised? Economies of scale. Why should I pay more than my competitors? You don't see McDonald's starting their fry cooks @ $12/hr. when Burger King pays minimum wage. I would price myself out of the market if I overpaid my associates."

    Yet your initial post complained about the inability to find good associates. So you can't really claim to have set the price properly, can you? You're not pricing yourself out of the market. You're underpricing yourself out of the market for good associates.

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  151. Bankruptcy AttorneyJanuary 18, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    I work in a similar field as the "collections partner." There are definitely those types of personalities that exist in our field and sadly, they can be very successful. They also have extremely high employee turnover.

    Back to the OP, it's a sad development to summarize a post about public interest law (which is about as "foreign" and ambiguous to me as international law BTW) by saying that the "lucky" ones get $16,000. I don't care if you get student loan forgiveness or not. Do you want to spend the PRIME/PEAK (25-35) of your life scraping by at $16k per year?

    We're good at trapping ourselves into a legal equivalent of Plato's cave. There are things to do outside of education. There are jobs outside of the legal field. I never realized how much I HATED school until I was out. As a K-JD boy myself, I wish I would have worked instead right out of high school. Or at least after college. Whatever.

    You don't realize how much self-pressure and self-misery we're capable of as human beings. My advice would be to try to get his tuition back for this semester and go out and see if he can find a job with a decent paycheck. He can always come back to the law. What's the rush? Hurry to incur additional student loan debt? By the way, I wouldn't tell anybody I was taking a semester off or leaving law school. Not friends. Not family. Not anyone. Do it for yourself. People will attempt to talk you out of doing what is ultimately what makes you happy. Go do something crazy and stupid while you still can and find a job with a real source of income.

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  152. "What environment is that? Legal academia? Mediation? I honestly have never seen a pleasant law environment."

    Mediation is one. I also happened to work shortly in the judiciary, which was pleasant as well. Public interest can also be pleasant, depending on the organization, although there can be a lot of work. Have not had the pleasure of working in legal academia, so I'll leave off giving my opinion on the pleasantness of that. And I have met more than a few private practitioners who don't have the assholish attitude of 1:13 and would have been very pleasant to work for, if I were inclined to that area of the law.

    And no, I am not some privileged person w/ a privileged background. Just someone who demands more from the workplace than 1:13's poor peons apparently do. No wonder he isn't satisfied w/ any of his recent hires. Would anyone of quality, talent, balls, class and self-esteem even consider working for a prick like that?

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  153. @4:36 - unfortunately I know a lot of former doc reviewers with 6 figure get and from TTT schools that have worked "for a prick like that." has nothing to do with "quality, talent, balls, class and self-esteem." Has more to do with desperation. This guy (if he's real) does it because he can get away with it. And even if he's just a troll we all know plenty of people like this exist in this industry of victims and victimizers.

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  154. *6 figure debt (damn auto correct)

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  155. How is offering you the choice of a job "victimizing" you?

    Please let us not abuse the language.

    If you don't want the job, then don't take it.

    If you can offer a better job, then do so and prevent him from getting any employees (and again you don't create jobs which is why he is a far more important and valuable citizen than are you).

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  156. I wouldn't accept the job....but other people are not in my position, desperate to pay off debt with very little in job prospects. Or have you not been following along? Thats how guys like this genius can behave as they see fit. Now please rethink your pious bullshit and try again. This is the real world Im talking about.

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  157. There are 160 comments in this thread, but not one from an admitted tenure-track law professor responding to the question the OP posed to legal academics in particular (a couple of non-tenure track faculty did respond, for which I'm grateful).

    Now this could be because tenure track law professors have "better things to do" than to read this blog. However, I've gotten a lot of indications, direct and indirect, very much to the contrary. That not one such person is willing to opine on this question, even while otherwise remaining anonymous, says . . . something.

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  158. Then create a better job so he doesn't get any employees? (Again, you don't create jobs. That's why he's more important than you. You need to understand your place in society.).

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  159. A higher place in society? You mean a parasite? One who lives off the fruits of someone else's desperate labor? I try and treat everyone around me, even my underlings, with respect and understanding. That alone places me three rungs above you and your collection agency hero.

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  160. A higher place in society because he's able to create a job, that you are unable to create.

    Again, you = one more person unemployed.

    I can't state it any more simply.

    But this entire conversation begs the question - how much of legal unemployment is because self-important graduates don't want to work for "assholes" when they can go on IBR and collect unemployment; and how much of it is due to an actual lack of jobs? Because if it's the former then it's not very sympathetic.

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  161. Setting up a firm based on those principles and business model is not a tough thing. You just need zero scruples and a shark's mentality. You really think its tough to do?

    "Again, you = one more person unemployed."

    haha...because I look down on you and your moronic view of life I'm unemployed? So funny, as I sit here looking at the W2 I just received tonight in the mail from my white shoe firm.

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  162. The point was that you're not creating jobs, and thus in comparison to 3:13, you = create one more unemployed person.

    And if you work for a "white shoe firm" (LOL whatever I'll humor you) then that too is a firm that won't hire the employee who 1:13 will hire.

    So again. 1:13 = one person employed. You and your "firm" = one person unemployed.

    P.S. That must be a horribly run "white shoe firm" because you do nothing but post comments here.

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  163. Gotta love 5:03's money-loving (job creator who has money to give trumps all other values in society) mentality. I think that's why feudal society in the Middle Ages lasted for so long.

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  164. Yeah that was what feudalism was about. You're a genius of history.

    I wonder what 1:13 would do to an employee if he caught him bullshitting on this blog for hours on end. I guess he would fire him, and for that he is an "asshole."

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  165. "Gotta love 5:03's money-loving (job creator who has money to give trumps all other values in society) mentality."

    I didn't say he trumped all values. I said he trumps you.

    You do nothing. You create nothing. You collect entitlements - and then when someone does create a job - the job that pays for your unemployment check or whatever (oh right you work for a "white shoe" firm) you attack him for being an "asshole" on a blog in which you attack law schools for "scamming" you by promising you jobs that do not exist.

    On top of that, you prevent people from using this blog to communicate because as soon as someone posts something you don't like you attack and harass them until everyone leaves.

    Thank you for what you're. You're a great person. 1:13's an asshole but you're wonderful.

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  166. Colorado does not require mediators to be licensed or certified. However, non-profit volunteer mediation programs in Colorado, and, I think in most states, require a person to take a 40-hour training course costing from $900 to $1000. Unfortunately, mediation training has come to resemble law school in that more people are paying for training than there are paying jobs

    I'm the 2011-2012 Chair of the Dispute Resolution Section of the Colorado Bar Association. The Section members are almost to a person passionate about mediation and are working with the legislature and the courts to urge its acceptance and further its reach.

    So much remains to be done to make mediation a reasonable field to go into. Job opportunities need to be increased and the profile and the status of mediators raised.

    Anyone who would like to attend a CBA/DR Section monthly meeting on a visitor basis is welcome. Our next meeting will be on Friday, February 3rd, from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Colorado Bar Association at 1900 Grant Street, 9th Floor.

    We usually have a lot of committee reporting to get to, and we tend to talk in acronyms, so I can't promise it will be a scintillating hour and a half, but I promise to introduce you to people who know a great deal about mediation and alternative dispute resolution in Colorado. Just to be clear, this will probably not be a chance to connect with a job, just a way to learn more about an effective way to help clients solve problems. Lucia Lamprey

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  167. Ok I see, 5:21 is a child. Got it.

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  168. Law prof @ 4:58,

    Your post and the questions you raise are, as always, interesting but look at the comments you generate. Are you really shocked that people don't respond? Quite honestly I suspect you are appalled by some of the comments on this post, as well as many other posts.

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  169. Brian:

    Why don't you answer the question, big guy.

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  170. "I wonder what 1:13 would do to an employee if he caught him bullshitting on this blog for hours on end. I guess he would fire him, and for that he is an "asshole."

    - I'm not even remotely concerned w/ what 1:13 would do. I don't admire, respect, or wish to emulate him, simply because he provides jobs, like you do. I demand a little more from a human being besides the ability to provide jobs before I start questioning or even wondering how he would handle a certain situation.

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  171. Thanks for the post Lucia. The information on mediation is interesting. I didn't even know it was a career possibility.

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  172. 6:13 are you hiring anyone? I would like to work for you if you have any openings. I can send you a throw away email address so we can talk offline.

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  173. Yeah...Im hiring somebody to clean my house. You still interested 6:16?

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  174. oh.

    I would rather work as a lawyer for 1:13.

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  175. (note that if 1:13 had written about making law grad hires clean his house he would have been attacked as an "asshole")

    Oh the hypocricy of our entitled youth.

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  176. but 6:16..... but im a job creator and I'll pay you well cleaning my shit and treat you just as bad as 1:13. I promise.

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  177. What do you think he should do, Law Prof? He is at your school, and you know him and what your school has to offer better than folks who have never met this kid and aren't at Colorado. Or did he write to you from some other place?

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  178. How in the world can the the advice be anything other than run! Run for zee hills!

    ....unless you have a job you can give him yourself.

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  179. Many of the comments on this thread are very valuable and informative, especially for people who are considering going to or staying in law school with the goal of practicing in the public sector.

    I've never understood why people can't ignore the nonsense when reading the Internet. It's not as if it somehow magically contaminates the useful stuff.

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  180. Do people realize the difference between student loans (1) making college education more available to many people and (2) possibly making the rewards of a college education less available to many people through problems coming out of debt?

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  181. Wido - before I started reading the comments here I thought this was completely obvious. I don't get if its willful ignorance, political ideology or stubborness that keeps people from understanding something so simple. The fights here have been vicious over this. Its been eye opening.

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  182. Well, Law Prof, what do you think he should do? Is this someone at your school? If so, what you have to say would be far more valuable and more informed than people from the outside.

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  183. @ 7:09--If the answer is so obvious, why ask the question?

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  184. I didn't ask the question. And if you fail to get something so obvious, well, says a lot.

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  185. So, Law Prof doesn't get it?

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  186. I was talking about Wido's comment. You're lost.

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  187. I can't believe the jerk partner who thinks his shit don't stink because he's capable of hiring someone is still ranting away. GIve it up already. I have multiple online ventures. What is it that you don't get? Now buzz off and quit insulting people.

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  188. "Many of the comments on this thread are very valuable and informative, especially for people who are considering going to or staying in law school with the goal of practicing in the public sector.

    I've never understood why people can't ignore the nonsense when reading the Internet. It's not as if it somehow magically contaminates the useful stuff."

    ---------------------

    This is true, but the harassers are aware of this strategy and they try hard to antagonize and shut down conversation.

    The average person will not contribute to a site in which they are called fake, asshole, and so on. They'll leave. The only people who remain will be those with damaged minds who have made it their life's purpose to antagonize others on the internet.

    It's very easy to identify someone trying to harass and antagonize with insults, both explicit and backhanded. For example 6:32/7:13/7:24 is making an attempt to harass and upset you.

    What causes someone to be so emotionally and mentally damaged that their sole pleasure in life comes from attempting to emotionally upset others, anonymously? I don't know but they exist on your blog and there's nothing you can do about it.

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  189. By the way, I think such people are infinitely more evil than the people running the law school scam. The latter have a mere profit motive, the former have sadism for the sake of sadism as their motive. Pure, creepy and disturbing evil.

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  190. @ 7:09 You are right. I was thinking of the original question. My bad.

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  191. Prof. Campos, who are you or who am I to tell a law student or college grad what path to take? The data is out there. In today's economy, law school is a terrible proposition unless you come from a wealthy background or attend a top 10 school with a scholarship.

    When young people ask me whether or not to attend law school, I change the conversation. I could tell them don't go, but they will resent me for crushing an illusory dream and still attend just to prove people like me wrong. Hubris will be their downfall.

    I find it comical that people think they have the luxury of working for a "nice" boss. There are many unpleasant personalities in this profession. In fact I am convinced that the law attracts these types. The poster at 3:08PM seems to have a naive view on this noble profession.

    First, lawyers, especially partners are not there to teach you the law. They exist to make money. Time is money and spending time to teach something to an associate produces zero revenue. There are kids in NYC who are working for free. Law students and grads don't set the market rate for salaries. I take that back. The fact that there is an overwhelming deluge of lawyers out there actually has a race to the bottom effect on salaries. "NYC to 190K" died 5 years ago.

    The practice of law is not particularly an exercise in intellectual rigor. Take collections for example. This is a pro forma area of the law. You cut and past, burn and churn files. Law firms don't pay you to write scholarly treatises and submit them as briefs. You are paid to turn in a pleading in time, meaning you don't have the luxury of writing a Hemingway-esque masterpiece.

    I do agree with you that lawyers should have a backbone but when all that student loan debt is weighing you down and you graduate with no paying job, it is hard to erect that backbone.

    Congrats, Prof. Campos. This blog, in particular the comments section, provides somewhat of birdseye view of how truly miserable this profession can be.

    A.E.S.

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  192. Interesting and credible perspective AES. You may be right in that the best thing to do with a young person is to ignore their question and let them decide for themself.

    On modern graduates, it seems as if they feel entitled to a job earning $160,000 that requires four hours of work per day (the other four hours is spent surfing the net) and in which they perform high level and interesting work.

    Anything less is unacceptable.

    What's sad about 1:13 is that not a single commenter asked where his office is to send a resume

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  193. People asked what state he was in. He didn't respond. They asked how much he paid. He said he did not discuss that.

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  194. AES and 8:29:

    First, many people, even bright people, don't know about the law school scam. They have too much working against them...all their lives they were told to get a degree by family, friends, teachers, advisors, etc. The conversation is big among regular readers but not outsiders. Only within the last year or so has it crawled into the mainstream. Even then, it does no stand out.

    Whenever anyone asks me whether they should go to law school, I make sure that they want my honest opinion before I give it. In other words, no sugar-coated bullshit. I OWE it to at least tell them. The sad part is, none of it really gets through. They tune me out midway through. They are going no matter what. There is nothing I can say. Maybe it is my fault, dunno. So, I am not telling them what path to take but I am ADVISING them of what path to take, especially when asked. I would do it for my kid or a relative, why not someone who seeks me out? I would not want someone to go through what I did.

    8:29:

    I think you are very wrong about modern graduates. I have yet to meet one (although I am sure they exist) who feel entitled to a 160K job at 4 hours a day. Most of the young graduates I have met are willing to work for ANYTHING and are willing to work long hours.

    About the resume: Earlier in the day I asked 1:13 in what state he practiced. If it matched my state, I was going to send my resume. He never responded.

    Try not to generalize so much. Black and white thinking as well as generalizations are the tell-tale signs of a small mind.

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  195. 8:29,

    Not sure where you got the idea that anyone under 30 feels entitled to earning $160,00 a year for four hours of work per day. In fact, if you bothered to read any of the comments on this blog, you will have found that most young people are so dedicated to this profession that they are sacrificing years of their life working for free just to get a chance to work in it. And most would be very happy w/ $16,000 a year and aren't even thinking of $160K. If you haven't yet picked up on that fact, go back and reread the comments to this post.

    As for being sad about not a single commenter sending 1:13 (who was majorly pissed off because his associates dared to ask him a question they knew would take him 5 seconds to answer and would save his firm valuable time instead of the alternative of spending 40 times that amount of time to find the answer in a manual) resumes, I can only say that you have a drastically different set of values than I do.

    But I guess I shouldn't expect much from someone who, because he or she isn't a recent graduate, feels entitled to make judgements about ALL recent graduates.

    By the way, I am no young-un. Just someone in her 40s who thinks making grossly inaccurate generalities about an entire generation says more about the person making the statement than the generation commented upon.

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