Friday, July 13, 2012

How soon is now?

NALP has released salary data for the class of 2011.  Some highlights:

*The reporting rate overall is 41.9% (18,630 salaries out of 44,495 graduates).  This represents a decline of 21% in the salary reporting rate since 2007.

*High salaries are reported, low ones are not.  93% of salaries for people working for firms of more than 500 attorneys are reported, compared to 40% of salaries for people working for firms of two to ten lawyers.  This is a product of at least two factors: people making high salaries are far more likely to report them, and people working for big firms have salaries that are a matter of public record, and can per NALP guidelines be reported by law schools even if graduates don't report them.

*The median reported salary of $60,000 declined 20.5% in real dollars between the classes of 2009 and 2011.

*Graduates working as secretaries for law firms -- a job that in regard to educational credentials usually requires no more than a high school diploma -- reported a higher median salary than graduates working as attorneys for small law firms.  (The former category includes only 97 graduates and 38 reported salaries but still).

*In 2007, the average reported starting salary was equivalent to 86% of the average graduate's law school debt load.  In 2011 the average reported starting salary was 57% of the average graduate's debt load.

*It's important to keep in mind that salaries were not reported for three out of every five graduates. Approximately 9,500 out of 44,495 graduates had reported salaries of $60,000 or more (the exact number is not known because it's not clear how many graduates had a salary of exactly $60,000).  The true median starting salary for the class of 2011 was probably around $45,000, which is 42.8% of the average law school debt load of $105,028. Note that the latter figure does not include other educational debt.  Financial planners consider anything above a one to one ratio between total educational debt and starting salary inadvisable.

Meanwhile, a couple of notes from the world of law school recruiting:

*The University of Alabama is sending out emails this week, offering a $20 iTunes gift card to recipients who apply for admission to next month's entering class (1L orientation at Alabama starts a month from today). Alabama is the 29th-ranked law school in the country, and also features much lower than average tuition  -- $18K in state and $30K out of state.

* The dean of a top 20 law school (not the admissions dean, but the dean dean) has been calling admitted students this week, in order to personally beg encourage them to enroll.  As part of this outreach effort prospective students with undergraduate GPAs well below 3.0 are being offered nearly full tuition scholarships.




198 comments:

  1. first if it matters

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  2. If anyone reads this don't become indebted like I did.

    I’m 28, defaulted on loans, and make lest that 30K after taxes working at a job that probably doesn’t lead anywhere. The work is mind numbing and a monkey could do it but that’s that nature of work I guess, and that’s why they pay you… Higher edu isn’t the answer if you come from modest means. Look elsewhere for ways that lead to the ability to make a living. And if you’re looking for intellectual stimulation, higher edu isn’t the answer there either. College is nothing but following rules, turning in papers on time, and tell profs what they want to hear… and working on projects that interest them.

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  3. Pre-law prof at large undergrad univ. I had under 50 people take the June LSAT, down from an average of 175-225 for the last 10 years. For the first time since LSAC has given us data, it looks like we will have under 100 people from our school applying to law school in the fall, down from close to 300 every other year.

    The apocalypse is now.

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  4. If only I had waited a year to go to law school, I might have saved so much.

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  5. 6:18- threaten to drop out if they dont give you moar $$. If its not an empty threat they'll listen.

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  6. Graduates working as secretaries for law firms -- a job that in regard to educational credentials usually requires no more than a high school diploma

    Is that really true (about requiring no more than high school)? In my city, you won't even be considered for a legal-secretary position if you don't have a bachelor's degree.

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  7. That last bit - the top-20 dean calling applicants - is jaw-dropping. Maybe the big shake-up is finally upon us.

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  8. The disparity between firm sizes for salary reporting probably reflects the tendency of recently organized small firms to pay attorneys on an "eat-what-you-kill" basis. If you're a new attorney taking appointed criminal defense or child custody work, you wouldn't know what your salary would be. (You probably also wouldn't feel like guessing for the benefit of your alma mater, either.)

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  9. This post prompted me to look at my law school's employment and tuition data.

    Between 2001 and 2011, average starting salary at my school increased by about 21% in real dollars. Adjusted for inflation, though, average starting salary actually DECLINED by about 7%.

    In real dollars, tuition increased by 133%. Adjusted for inflation, this is an increase of about 86%.

    Most law schools seem to be exhibiting similar patterns. No wonder nobody wants to apply to law school anymore.

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  10. Th son and the heir of a shyness that is criminally vulgarJuly 13, 2012 at 6:45 AM

    See I've already waited too long

    And all my hope is gone

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  11. Maybe this a time we will look back on as when we are shown what happens when a scam is unveiled, and the market can really work as it is supposed to.

    I am currently reading The Philosophy of Economics, an anthology, from my undergrad days and hope it will further help me enlighten myself to the economic forces at play and, more importantly, how I might try to improve them for our profession...or at the very least, for myself and my own future children.

    For historical purposes, I also wish to note that the public - and practitioners and their families - are learning that these terrible numbers were true for many or most of those outside Top 20 etc in the years BEFORE the great recession.

    ChicagoDePaul

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  12. I would expect a marked uptick in lobbying by universities (both non-profit and for profit) as a result of this downturn. You can hear the siren's song now: "But congressperson, with fewer students we need loan money now more than ever to do all that good that we do. Pretty please? Oh, and here's a bag full of money with a giant dollar sign printed on the outside. Good luck in the November elections!"

    Anyone have information on lobbying efforts by higher education on hand? Maybe LST has done some sort of analysis to see which of our fearless leaders in Washington is being bought and sold like so much cattle by the "higher education" crowd (I'm assuming - perhaps erroneously - that it's slightly less than every one of them)?

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  13. 6:29: I've looked at the market for legal secretaries in the Denver area, and it's rare for anything more than a high school diploma to be required, although sometimes an associate's degree is listed as a plus. Unfortunately for current law graduates, what these jobs almost always require is at least three years of relevant experience. (Also nobody wants to hire a JD to be a legal secretary).

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  14. We should know in a few weeks just how bad it is when incoming class sizes are released. As a practical matter, I wonder what happens if only 75 1L’s show up at a law school that traditionally enrolls 300 1L’s?

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  15. Can someome explain why a school would offer someone a full scholarship to come? Is it some bait and switch where if you're not in the top 10% your $$$ is yanked?

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  16. Bama's been doing that for at least 5 years.

    You used the wrong denominator. You used all graduates from ABA-approved schools, rather than all graduates from ABA-approved schools who reported to NALP.

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  17. 7:00 AM: The "scholarships" I referenced were 90% off sticker so the school is getting something (the marginal cost to the school of another enrollee is close to zero). In addition, schools often find themselves in a position at the end of a cycle where just a couple of admits make the difference between holding and losing a point on their median LSAT score. In those circumstances a full tuition scholarship, even without any stips, is something they'll gladly offer to splitters who can ensure they hold a median.

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  18. @7:00: Scholarships are used by law school admissions offices as recruiting tools. Every school has different renewal criteria. The law school where I work used to offer enormous scholarships (full tuition plus living stipends) that carried renewal standards that typically required people to be in the top 10% of the class. We've relaxed those standards a bit in recent years (and reduced the value of the scholarships accordingly).

    Some schools offer scholarships with "good standing renewal" and some schools still have the high value scholarships with very high renewal standards, and some schools are in between.

    What I'm hearing is that many schools, early on in the application cycle, made big scholarship offers to their applicants. Now those applicants are getting in off of the wait-lists at higher-ranked schools, so they're leaving their scholarships at the lower-ranked schools behind. Those lower-ranked schools are "recycling" these scholarship offers to new applicants or people on their wait-lists. It is possible that at some of these schools, there were admits in March/April who received no scholarships (because at the time the schools had extended as many offers as they could) and paid seat deposits, and now there are less qualified applicants receiving admission AND scholarship offers, because why would the admissions office go back and give a scholarship to someone who's already paid a seat deposit? (Not saying I agree with this thinking...just trying to explain the thinking.)

    As Prof. Campos has pointed out in past entries, scholarships are essentially discounts off of sticker price for students with high LSAT scores. These scholarships are subsidized by the students with low LSAT scores. For the most part, the low LSAT students don't do as well in law school, either, so they end up saddled with debilitating debt and struggling to pass the bar exam and get a job. It is a perverse system.

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  19. Which top 20 school was it? Does anyone know? Maybe GWU...since they're used to having huge 1L classes and would feel the biggest revenue pinch if their class was significantly smaller. This wouldn't surprise me considering how much negative attention they've gotten this past year...I can't imagine Vanderbilt/USC/UCLA/Texas being desperate enough to do that.

    I'd guess WUSTL too..except they're not Top 20 anymore hahahaha

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  20. I am glad that NALP caught the downward trajectory of starting salaries, but would rather they not publish their survey at all, rather than one massively skewed towards comparatively successful outcomes.

    If I thought that the median newly minted JD was landing a law job at $60K, I would not necessarily discourage kids from enrolling. So I am worried that kids might come across this survey and think: a 60K job in an interesting profession is worth three years of additional "education" and massive debt.

    dybbuk

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  21. There is just no point in publishing any information about salaries. Most law school graduates don't report them and most of the ones that do exaggerate out of embarrasment. The only credible way to report salaries is if like 95% of graduates report theirs, and they are verified independently.

    As 6:40 and LawProf have pointed out, many law school graduates don't even have salaries. They either get paid hourly on various short-term gigs, or are in very tenuous solo practices or "eat what you kill" arrangements.

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  22. 7:00 here again. I'm not an attorney but what surprises me is the extent to which this is an open scam and there's been no regulatory pressure to do anything.

    All the explanations that were provide seem to make sense with regard to scholarships. I guess once you get down to July 13, you're probably not going to get any full paying customers, so 10% of tuition is better than nothing. I guess a good strategy for a decent student is to wait until now and look for a desperate school.

    On a side note: does anyone have any research with respect to which schools offer the most free money with respect to sticker price? It would suggest that the schools offering the most free money are on opposite sides of the spectrum: either in trouble and need students or have a big endowment.

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  23. @ 7:50 (and 7:00 i guess?)

    I'm not sure about the lower schools but I think NYU and WUSTL are both well known for giving out greater-than-normal scholarship amounts compared to their peers. Maybe even UVA?

    But I think that those 3 schools are examples of schools that have big endowments AND may need to work harder than normal to recruit students. I'd imagine a part of NYU's behavior can attributed to their inherent competition with Columbia over similarly qualified applicants. UVA probably needs to sweeten the deal to attract applicants to haul-ass out to Virginia over schools like Penn/Michigan. And WUSTL has a huge endowment..but they've been trying to play the rankings game.

    I think schools there are definitely schools that have both low endowments and have, or will have, trouble filling their classes..I think Fordham and GWU are good examples. Maybe even USC

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  24. "The dean of a top 20 law school (not the admissions dean, but the dean dean) has been calling admitted students this week, in order to personally beg encourage them to enroll. As part of this outreach effort prospective students with undergraduate GPAs well below 3.0 are being offered nearly full tuition scholarships."

    A bad salesman will automatically lower his price. Bad salesmen make me sick. - Sam Stone, Ruthless People

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  25. "what surprises me is the extent to which this is an open scam and there's been no regulatory pressure to do anything."

    Two forces are at work. (1) The section of the ABA that "regulates" law schools is controlled by the law schools themselves. (2) The public/legislators don't give a crap because they hate lawyers.

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  26. "they" = "the public"

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  27. Charlotte School of Law is offering an iPad or laptop in addition to a full scholarship to coax people. Obviously a totally different tier from Alabama, but I thought that was pretty interesting.

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  28. It is nice to see that applicants and college grads are starting to catch onto the law school cartel.

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  29. Can you really blame the dean for calling OLs? At least he's trying to keep his job. You all must admit that this strategy beats Leduc's(of reknown Cooeley fame) own strategy, of thinking he can beguile OLs into believing that in 5 years, a gigantic, never before heard of exodus of baby boomer retirees will create a massive job surplus (in Michigan anyway.)

    Personally, if I were a member of a board of directors of a law school, I would prefer the former's approach. And y'all didn't think we could go one day without having Cooley in the discussion, did ya?

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  30. Unrelated to this post, but I just want to thank you LP for talking me out of going to law school. I did a great deal of research from multiple sources but I think your blog was the most influential. You can chalk one up in the win column.
    In case anyone was wondering I had previously decided on Texas at half sticker.

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  31. Nando, if a law school closes this year, I'll send you and LawProf each a box of Omaha steaks in appreciation of your efforts.

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  32. Those last two points reminded me that the dean at Alabama personally called me to ask me to accept a scholarship, and I was class of '06, so I don't think that's anything new.

    P.S. I took that scholarship, which I of course lost after 1L, and went on, against my better judgment, to graduate. I made decent money doing doc review for 18 months but haven't done anything with my prestigious degree since July 2008 except accumulate interest on my loans. I haven't made more than $16k in any single year since, nor have I made a loan payment.

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  33. @8:03 - What's the basis for asserting that legislators hate lawyers? On the federal level, close to 50% of the legislators ARE lawyers. 38% in the House and 55% in the Senate. Many state legislatures are probably similar.

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  34. The post that comes immediately after 8:03 is an edit. I thought that was obvious.

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  35. I wonder how these last minute scholarship deals will affect future admissions now that everyone knows you can save a lot of money by sitting on your admissions offer until the last minute.

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  36. Ive been practicing for 9 years and when I go to court in downtown Chicago, I see few new graduates. When I go to the collar counties, I hardly see any new grads. Most attorneys are in their 40s 50s and 60s. Where are all the grads from the last 10 years? Where did they go? There have been 30,000 new lawyers in IL in the last 10 years yet there are so few lawyers in court? Are they all in the office? Do they not practi e law in the suburbia ? I tell you Im going to steal all the old timers work and keep it for myself.

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  37. So it looks like I attended law school in the "sweet spot" - the mid 2000s.

    A few years earlier and I might have had a job. A few years later and I would have had a 90% scholarship.

    Fuckers.

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    1. I hear ya, man. A few years later and we wouldn't have had private student loan debt either.

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  38. @9:11 May your suffering not go unavenged.

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  39. The data on salaries is crucial, and I really hope transparency on salaries will continue to improve, as that's the real information prospective law students need. I know I actually took a pay increase to move from a full-time, permanent job requiring bar passage to a (much more enjoyable) FT/P one that is JD preferred, but that would count as a step down under the current scorekeeping. (I suspect my result has something to do with the glut of attorneys putting tremendous downward pressure on salaries for lawyers.) Thank you, Professor, for all the great work you do in helping to get this crucial information out there.

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  40. The conclusion to all these admissions stories appears to be that, except for the highest ranked schools, no admissions office can be sure who will show up on day one of orientation. Even with enhanced offers, applicants can say “yes” to more than one school and string them along until it’s time to board the plane. Must be a scary time for admissions deans (and bursars). Generally, the first tuition payment is due a week to ten days before classes begin – just about when orientation starts. I bet when the shake-out is over, some entering classes will be much smaller than many schools now anticipate.

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  41. LawProf,

    What good does it do for a school to beg people to enroll and then give them full scholarships? The school won't make any money by doing this. If you have an entering class of 100 students that pay full tuition, an you enroll another 20 students having a full scholarship, the school is taking in revenue of 100 students, but must provide services for 120 students. It just doesn't add up to me. Granted law professors and administrators aren't smart enough to recognize that this is a problem, but I'm just curious.

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  42. LawProf already answered this question. See 7:21.

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  43. Schools have two (at times competing) objectives: maintain their ranking and maximize their cash flow. As LawProf explained, the incremental cost of luring a few additional very high LSAT applicants with full tuition scholarships promotes objective number one (maintain rank) while causing little harm to objective number two (maximize cash flow). Of course, this strategy, like all marketing, has its limits. In general, failing businesses (like many law schools, even if they don’t yet know it) can only hold on for so long. Eventually, the promotional costs (free or steeply discounted tuition) exceed the benefit of keeping the doors open. It’s like the economists’ joke about the hat salesman who loses a dollar on every hat he sells, but makes it up on volume.

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  44. It’s like the economists’ joke about the hat salesman who loses a dollar on every hat he sells, but makes it up on volume.

    It also reminds me of the Church of Scientology -- treat celebrities (Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Isaac Hayes, etc.) like royalty so that you can use them to make the institution more attractive to the pigeons.

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  45. i'm UG at a top 25 law school (LP can see the IP address for proof, since i'm posting from there). i've been watching my school's enrollment numbers for law school. class of 2013 represents 34 percent, give or take, of total enrollment. class of 2014 represents 30 percent of total enrollment and has about 18 percent fewer people actually enrolled. it may be more because i don't know how many people, if any, transferred into class of 2013. that's a big drop. i wonder how far class of 2015 will drop the total...

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  46. I mean, I'm UG at a college with a top 25 law school, in case that was unclear.

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  47. "P.S. I took that scholarship, which I of course lost after 1L, and went on, against my better judgment, to graduate. I made decent money doing doc review for 18 months but haven't done anything with my prestigious degree since July 2008 except accumulate interest on my loans. I haven't made more than $16k in any single year since, nor have I made a loan payment."

    16k is not decent money. In fact, that is shitty even for a doc reviewer. Sorry dude.

    I made 29k in the first six months of this year and was unemployed for about two months.

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  48. 11:10 here. I am working doc review out of DC.

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  49. Miranda:

    I hope you write more coherently for your undergraduate classes. What you wrote is pretty confused. Do you mean that 34 percent of rising 3L (class of 2013) students at your university’s law school are graduates of its undergraduate college? And the same for the other classes you mention? That fact that this percentage seems to be declining does not necessarily mean total enrollment at the law school is affected – one way or the other. Actually, it seems very unusual (unlikely?) for a law school to admit one-third of its students from one undergraduate institution, especially its own college.

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  50. 11:10--I took him to mean he made decent money for 18 months, but hasnt made more than 16K/year since then.

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  51. 11:10 / 11:14 ("16k is not decent money. ... even for a doc reviewer")

    I think possibly you misunderstood the previous poster, who wrote that s/he had not made more than 16K in any year since leaving doc review for whatever it is s/he is doing now.

    The comment about "decent money" was in the 18 months when s/he was actually using the JD doing doc review.

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  52. 11:27, ya Knitpiqueur Grammarian Patrol Arteest:

    I didn't have any trouble understanding Miranda's post. Yes, it was written in rushed fashion. So? Sheesh.

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  53. Here, folks, apply to be a law professor:

    http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2012/07/hiring-committees-2012-2013.html

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  54. Fiddling while Rome burns ...

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  55. 12:16; Great, many thanks.

    Been getting tired of the current gig anyway.

    Time to de-stress a bit.

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  56. I'd like to see it emphasized for people who skip right over the column to look at the 25th, 50th and 75th percentiles for salary outcomes, but anybody who looks at this chart for more than a minute will see that there are maybe one or two categories for which 50% or more actually reported salary data.

    I don't know if anybody over NALP reads this blog, but in the spirit of what Campos and Rohde termed "appropriate paternalism," perhaps there should be a "reader's guide" to employment statistics attached to this chart. "Note that the mean is much higher than the median. What this means is that law is a field of a select few economic winners and many, many also-ran chumps. All things being equal, you are more likely to be in the latter category than the former."

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  58. Dear Future Students From Middle/Poor Class Families,

    Please listen to me because I am not here to hurt anyone. I am here to help you and tell the truth.

    Tonight, I am going to go to a friend’s house in the Northeast. My friend did not finish high school and he is an orphan. He had no family money or assistance of any kind. He dropped out of high school and obtained a GED at 20. He had a very difficult life, but he was very smart, ambitious and hard working.

    My friend worked at a low end job in a pool supply store until he turned 23, at which point he entered the plumber’s union.

    He is now 32. He owns a beautiful 500k house in the NE, he is married, he drives a 40k automobile, and makes 6 figures. I asked him why the statistics of unemployment and salaries for the trades appears low. He indicated the following: i) at least 25% of his competition has debilitating substance abuse problems, ii) 25% of his competition lacks motivation of any kind for a variety of reasons, iii) 50% of his competition is very hard working, but more than half of them have very serious cognitive issues.

    This means my friend competes with roughly only 25% of the people in his field, while receiving some form of political from outside factors. The least amount of “official” money he made one year was 65k. That same year he made another 12k in unemployment waiting around; which really amounts to a paid vacation because he knew it was temporary and he would be called again. I suspect (no proof) that he made considerable sums of money doing “off-the-books” side-work as well. In fact, I also suspect that the reason the official earnings for some of these folks is low is that a lot of their income is off the books.

    When you see the “stats” for his job, you do not see what I described above, and it appears that his field is not doing well. However, the reality is that most people I know from law school would have achieved extreme success had they taken this route. They blow out 75% of the competition in terms of brains and work ethic.

    There really are jobs for people with our raw ability. I know it’s not what we were brought up to do. I know these jobs are tough in the physical sense, and I know some of us have been brought up to look down upon these jobs. Yet, these jobs will provide a better life for people of our intelligence and work ethic if we start at the right age.

    Furthermore, it is true that getting a job at Cravath or a very high PI and/or Federal Government job is almost certainly better than what my friend has. However, that option is just not on the table for most people. It’s not going to happen for the overwhelming majority of us.

    And what is left?

    I promise you, I absolutely promise you that what is left is infinitely worse than what my friend has even though it is not physically strenuous.

    For most of us, our education makes us overqualified to do what he does. Even if we do manage to get into it, the competition will want to destroy us because we dared to do something they could not.

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  59. cont'd from 1:03,


    At the same time, the white collar world will not accept us because our degrees are not from the right places and/or our job can be done in India for a slave wage.

    I am in my early 30s, I have a STEM degree, I did very well in LS, but I will never have anything in my life. I wake up everyday knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am a failure and I will continue to be a failure. Pure and simple. But I am telling you that it did not have to be that way for me, and it does not have to be that way for you.

    Times have changed. I would trade my degrees to be able to have a job where I know things will get better, where I know I will not be replaced by a slave from the third world, and where I know that some political force would intervene on my behalf when things looked bleak. I would do this even if it meant working physically hard.

    There are worse things in life than working with your hands, and when I finally decide to blow my brains out to end my mental anguish, I will have been living proof of it.

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  60. What job is it that where you know things will get better and that you won't be replaced by a "slave from the third world"? The kind of job you are talking about can (are and will) be done by immigrants (documented and undocumented) from the third world.

    You are right, though. There are worse things in life than working with your hands.

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  61. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  62. 1:03 (and 1:03 continued): Thanks. Your Golden Plumber stories are more entertaining than your Golden Polezei rants.

    More seriously, what is your STEM UG in?

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  63. @1:17,

    The kind of job where the politicians tell the employers you can't fuck x% of the people doing it. That x% is higher or lower depending on what kind of job you are talking about, but it most certainly is not the kind of job that requires degrees.

    Its true that some third world people have immigrated here and do this work; however, a large portion of said work goes to people at a solid wage because of political intervention. You cannot do a Federal or State contracted job in most instances if you do not hire union employers; the same applies to some private sector sites.

    I'll take that over constantly thinking when I am going to man up and pop myself to end the hopelessness I feel inside.

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  64. @ 1:25,

    What is a Polezei?

    My STEM background involves computers, I will not get into it beyond that.

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  65. "My STEM background involves computers, I will not get into it beyond that."

    What are you worried about?

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  66. @1;33,

    I am just as screwed as everyone else, trust me. If it can be outsourced, it will be outsourced, and I cannot get a law job that pays more than a poverty wage on account of where I went to LS

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  67. No, I meant, why don't you want to describe your STEM background beyond that it involves computers?

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  68. Someone always brings up the fact that someone in a third world country working for a very low wage will take jobs away, but this is an exaggerated fear. In India the entire IT outsourcing and BPO (business process outsourcing) sectors employ only 3 million people. This covers the full gamut of people from those responding in call centers to IT consultants. So only a small fraction of white collar US jobs could have gone to India.

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  69. @1:37,

    A fair point, its CS.

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  71. Ii wonder if Vandy is the beggar. It is the intellectual spawning ground go LST.

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  73. Trapper John, MDJuly 13, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    An unemployed lawyer (or law student) with $250,000 in debt ranks higher in the dating pool than a blue collar worker with $900,000 in the bank and a $120,000 income.

    This concept is at least 200 years old. This is the reality, and social status can not be ignored when discussing the reasons behind the education bubble.

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  74. @2:21,

    Hiqh quality trolling my friend, top notch.

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  75. 2:21 said the exact same thing yesterday. It was just as boring then.

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  76. @2:21 P.M.

    "Hi, Frugal_and_Puzzled!"

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  77. 11:27- I think Miranda meant to say that the class of 2013 was 1/3 of the total enrollment for the law school (as in, totaling 1L 2L and 3L classes). Then the incoming class was smaller than 1/3, indicating that the school couldn't bring in enough people to get up to 1/3.

    example- school a enrolls 900 people, and 300 are in class of 2013. the next year, the school enrolls 860 people, and 260 are in the new class. 260/860 is about 30 pct.

    I think her point, and it's a good one, is that even a top 25 law school can't avoid year-on-year, statistically significant drops in enrollment.

    Granted, it wasn't very clear.

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  78. Geez to the Anonymous post, what a downer to read during my lunch break ("pop myself", really?) I completely agree with Studentdebtforlife except about the underemployed income. Unless you absolutely have no money and must use all your resources to pay bills/living expenses, you should pay down that debt, even if all you can only make the minimum payment. Given your comment on job insecurity, which is a reality for many fields these days, after getting a job that pays your bills, you need to focus on how you can become your own boss, and what skills you don't already have that you will need to learn in order to get a succesful business up and running.

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  79. 1:03 - What an interesting and intelligent post. Wish that it were printed in the WSJ's Notable and Quotable section or other such sections in papers of consequence. Enlarged even slightly it would be a wonderful op-ed for the NYT. William Ockham

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  80. @2:53,

    Dude, I blame no one but myself. If your parents aren't rich and/or
    you can't go to a place like Harvard, you don't go to school. You do exactly what you just said: you get the skills and the money to become your own boss. When you are part of a political minority that needs to.be destroyed to appease both the financial and politically protected classes, that isn't going to happen for you, pure and simple.

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  82. 2:49 - Thanks for your take on what poor Miranda was trying to say. I guess what you suggest makes sense, although if you're correct it means that at certain times she's talking about percentages and at others percentage "points," a BIG difference. Wherever Miranda goes to school, I hope she's not a math major.

    BTW, she said her school is Top 25. That probably means it's between 21-25; otherwise, why not say Top 20. That means its ND, W&L, Emory, or WUSL.

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  83. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  84. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  85. 3:16- 2:49 again. It wouldn't be that hard to figure out what school Miranda was talking about, would it? Is it possible to see enrollments for previous classes, other than whatever present class is listed online? I'm not going to mess around looking for that data. I think you're right, though, one of those 5, and all of them would be plausible to me.

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  86. Trapper John, MDJuly 13, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    The parable of the uneducated yet successful plumber will never work in any educated dating pool. He will have to marry a cashier girl or secretary. It doesn't matter if he's got $9 million dollars. He's still just a plumber. That is the way the class system works.

    A law student who is literally on fire is better off than a plumber who makes $450k and owns 7 houses. It makes not a whit of difference when there is no status.

    And yes, attractive women would RATHER date a broke, $250k in debt lawyer with a solo practice that generates $400 a month than a plumber who lives in a castle overlooking the ocean.

    This is why the education racket will not be dying from the demand side. Ever.

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  87. JDPainter seems to me to illustrate one of the most disquieting aspects of the law school scam, thought I doubt he'll see it this way.

    Young people who've been so completely marginalized are easy marks for right-wing demagogs.

    Publius

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  88. 3:55,

    You are such a ridiculous troll. What you are saying is utterly ludicrous. If you have money, you get women, pure and simple. The more money you have, the hotter they are too.

    A broke lawyer in America is as big a zero as anybody else that has no money.

    Go back to your cave troll.

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  89. Frugal_and_Puzzled,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsZPWsVNTqo

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  90. If the working and middle classes could ever be persuaded to stop voting against their financial self-interest, we might have health care for all, sensible regulation of the banking and finance sector, a tax code requiring the rich to pay their fair share, strong consumer protection laws (including laws protecting victims of the law school scam) and robust public investment in education, infrastructure, and R & D. These changes would pave the way for a much healthier economy which would provide greatly expanded opportunity to young people. But as long as the radical right continues to enchant large swaths of the electorate, there will be fewer and fewer decent jobs in this country, and the formerly proud American middle class will continue its tragic decline.

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  91. Yes, if only those pesky voters would just agree with you everything would be fine.

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  92. "What you are saying is utterly ludicrous. If you have money, you get women, pure and simple. "

    No, it's not that simple, son. Try going to a black tie fundraiser in a large city and telling people you're a $150k farmer or plumber. Yea, let me know how that works for you, son.

    Also, make 2 dating profiles. One that is a unemployed LAWYER. The other is a $150k PLUMBER. Let me know how that works for you, son.

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  93. Yeah, son, because, son, you can't expect to make an impression, son, on the ladies, son, if you've got money, son, but your job, son, lacks societal prestige, son.

    Oh, wait...this doesn't sound quite right, does it?

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  94. lawyer v. plumber: "women" aren't a monolithic group; it all depends on which women you're talking about (and how old they are).

    But I can think of a few college drop outs that are doing just fine: Bill Gates comes to mind.

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  95. 5:43:

    "But I can think of a few college drop outs that are doing just fine: Bill Gates comes to mind."

    What is your fucking point? He is one person. Why is his name ALWAYS brought up in discussions such as these? Please, you brought it up, answer the question.

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  96. 4:44 - "..a tax code requiring the rich to pay their fair share..." The top 20% of income earners last year paid 94% of the income taxes. This 20% includes all of the rich and most or all of the well off. And the 94% of taxes paid substancially exceeds their percent of the total national personal income. What is their fair share of the income taxes?

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  97. Those bullets are so sad I had to stop reading.

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  98. "What is a Polezei?"

    It's the Poleeece, in Germen.

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  99. 4:44, "a tax code requiring the rich to pay their fair share".

    Yeah, right, like YOU pay any federal income tax.

    What exactly is your idea of "fair share", when nearly half pay no fed IC tax, and the guys on the other end shoulder all the burden?

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  100. ^^^ Sorry, I see 7:04 already covered the point better than I did. Feel free to moderate my post.

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  101. Well, fuck, what a bunch of shit. If you want to talk in fair terms, how about looking at all tax paid as a share of personal annual income.

    You might applaud yourselves for paying a disproportionate share of "federal income tax", but despite your almost immeasurable tax burden (Should I be thanking you for doing me, personally, such a fucking favor? Is that the intimation here?) YOU still have enough money to pay your bills.

    If you really want to talk about who is shouldering the burden of the tax code, let's talk about the people who pay tax, including payroll, sales and federal income tax (all of which amounts to a much greater proportion of their income) and as a result can't pay their monthly bills.

    Somehow everyone's got to be hard today. Everyone's got to be the one suffering. Unless you've spent nights hungry because you've not got enough money to eat and meet your bills AND you pay tax, well, then fuck right off, and be quick about it.

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  102. the posts on this blog have devolved into fights amongst ourselves because everyone is frustrated that nothing is being done on the regulatory level to end the law school scam..like say cap grad plus loans and make them dischargeable in bankruptcy.

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  103. @7:46,

    Yes, poor Mitt Romney shoulders all the burden, while his secretary gets off paying so much less. Oh wait...

    P.S. I'm in the 33% marginal tax bracket. And you??

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  104. Just a thought...asking for loans to be dischargable in BR would sound a lot more reasonable if you added "after ten years" to the end of it.

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  105. Jack Marshall, ladies and gentlemen:

    http://ethicsalarms.com/2012/07/08/the-difference-between-unemployed-scientists-and-unemployed-lawyers/

    El. Oh. El.

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  106. 8:16 - "Unless you've spent nights hungry because you've not got enough money to eat..." I presume that arrow is meant for 7:04, that is, me. Candidly I have never gone to sleep hungry. And neither have you. For all the references to hunger in our pop dialogues, hunger does not exist in in 21st century America. The few actual hungry are dieters, lap band patients, young children of the deeply dysfunctional, those deranged by drugs and the insane. A brief experiment; walk through any Walmart for 20 minutes. The characteristic disorder of its customers is obesity, not malnutrition. We cannot simultaneously be having an epidemic of hunger and a diabetes epidemic. The homeless at the food kitchen at my next door church are, well, plump. They eat at a leisurely pace, and when the kitchen is closed, half of a dumpster is filled with uneaten food. We have a lot of issues in this country and clearly the economy is not working for a large number of our people. Let's deal with these real issues. But this is not the issue of this blog so I will speak of it no more.

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  107. Wow, 1:47 AM. You've obviously never been to the south? I live in a college town in the south, home to a Tier 1 public state flagship law school. The metropolitan area to our north is not a poor city by any stretch. In fact we have one of the fastest growing economies in the nation right now. A high school in that city had to open up a food pantry for its football team, because the players weren't able to get through practices because they were too hungry. The food pantry is stocked by the school's teachers and people from the community.

    You need to get out of your fucking bubble and experience life. There are plenty of people in this country who are hungry. I feel sorry for you. You suck.

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  108. Even for top schools and top grads the unemployment/ underemployment/ low compensation problem for lawyers is much worse than the statistics 9 months out of law school show. The big firm jobs last for the most part for a few years. There are limited numbers of high paying jobs for alums of those big firms to go to, and surely not enough $160,000+ permanent full time jobs by any stretch for the vast majority of lawyers who train in big firms. By the time you hit 30 years out of law school (age 56 or so) for the top 20 law schools, the salary statistics look downright catastrophic. The medians are going to be lower that those of the 9 month group from the same school. We really need those numbers collected and published. It is a mistake to go to CLS for example if you can have 20 years in a good job and after that you are relegated to temp work, solo practice or eat what you kill. The glamorous high paying jobs that are available to younger grads of those schools certainly disappear in pretty big numbers for the older grads because the $160,000 firms are age pyramids. This blog needs to publicize those numbers for experienced grads of top law schools. It is a very uncertain future for a large percentage of people who go to top law schools, even the top 6. HLS, NYU and CLS provide a poor living for a large percentage of older women and older minorities. The applicants to those top law schools need accurate career employment information, and not just for first jobs. A few people in my law school class went on to become medical doctors. Now, with the huge glut of lawyers, employment opportunities really poor in the profession and up or out policies creating a fairly large group of unemployed top law school grads, people who can go to the top law schools need to know what their chances are to make a good living. If you knew that going to Chicago Law would produce two thirds of the compensation of a public school teacher after working 50% more hours a year than the teacher once you hit age 45 or 50, and that your job would always be at risk as a lawyer, much more so than for a teacher, who has tenure, would you take your honors degree from Harvard or Amherst undergrad and go to Chicago Law, or would you do something else? Maybe you would become a dentist.

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  109. 6:32,
    Please see the UVA study. Thx.

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  110. Link to UVA study?

    Also, LP, I hope you have some thoughts on the recent release of June LSAT numbers. Good news/bad news, I think. 5.9% decline from last June is certainly better than levelling off and it should mean that October will be, at worse, equivalent to last October's 45k or so of takers. Bad news is the rate of decline has seemed to slow these last two administrations.

    Some big news like law schools closing their doors would help to keep the pressure on the schools and keep the law school problem in the public spotlight.

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  111. Given that many February takers apply the following cycle(though this is less true at the schools most in trouble), I think this might be relevant in interpreting the June results. Number of February + June takers by year:

    2012: 47375
    2011: 52448
    2010: 60702
    2009: 60687

    Things might be slowing down but this is still the right direction.

    - 11:21 am.

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  112. 10:23 I can see the alumni directory for my class for a top 6 law school. Very few of the women or minorities have a six figure job, excluding those who work for the government and might have a six figure job. My law school advertises a $160,000 starting salary but that salary is not the case for many of my ambitious still hard working classmates.

    Are there exceptions? Sure, just like Bill Gates did not finish college and is a billionaire. However, the problem of job insecurity looms very large - a big chunk of my contemporaries losing their BigLaw jobs and ending up in a much less lucrative area of the law. Who would go to a top 6 law school to be a real estate broker, a solo working from home or a counsel to firm you have never heard of in a second tier city after being an honors grad of the law school? Not that many people I think. The Biglaw perches are very insecure, even if one is a partner and even more so for everyone else. It is more common than not in the legal profession to be in game of musical chairs and to end up without a chair, even from a top 6 law school. If you do not believe me, get someone to give you access to the alumni directories. It may be great 20 years out, but job prospects go south each year after that.

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  113. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  114. 5:33 - What is the average weight of your football players? 1:47

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  115. That might be true but going 3 x ~200k gross (averaged) to 80k at a firm you never heard of (the shame!) in a "second tier" city is a nice result for the vast majority of the US population, even with a median debt load. I'm not sure the results you're looking for when double the national median wage is considered a bad result. Do people really go to top schools thinking they'll make partner? I'm at HYS and haven't heard the word uttered once. Most realize it is a long shot at best and things need to break right for it to happen.

    There seem to be a few separate strands of thought on this site and they all go under anonymous so they are hard to keep straight:

    1) Practice of law is terrible, ergo law school is a terrible idea.
    2) Practice of law only makes sense if you're making models and bottles salary and this can't be secured 5 years out so law school is a terrible idea.
    3) Law school doesn't make financial sense in the vast majority of cases because of the high costs and low opportunities available to most grads. I take this to be LP's view but I can't say for certain.

    The first two strike me as more than a little ridiculous. But it also waters down what I take to be the important message here. Even the students who want to be lawyers and who do most things right are having troubles.

    I'd like to see the data of lawyers five years out. I don't doubt that people are being pushed out of biglaw so if you're going to law school for law professor level salaries you're going in with the wrong idea. What I don't know is how badly those who want to stay in the profession are being systematically eliminated from entire workforce (i.e., small firms, nonprofits, in house, etc.) as they age.

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  116. ".... two thirds of the compensation of a public school teacher after working 50% more hours a year than the teacher once you hit age 45 or 50......"

    Yes, people would still opt for law school, b/c you would be just a teacher instead of a prestigious lawyer. Most people aspire status and professional prestige and a higher class lifestyle and peer group.

    That is why people go to law school, and will continue to do so for generations to come.

    You can't even give away cop or teacher jobs or $150k blue collar careers. No one wants 'em.

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  117. ^ Was for 11:48 am.

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  118. 11:21,
    Here you go: http://www.law.berkeley.edu/files/manuscandtablesMonahanandSwanson.pdf

    This is solely in response to the poster that said people from T-20 schools are having tons of problems 20 years out.

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  119. When I hear the law students on here talk about other professions and renumeration this is what comes to mind:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nl_Qyk9DSUw

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  120. 11:21 The UVa study seems to be done by people working for the law school. It only goes to 17 years out of law school, when the average person is probably 43. It was done in 2007 when the economy was booming and the legal profession was stronger. It is after 20 years from law school graduation that lawyers start to have trouble finding and keeping work in very high numbers. The survey does not say anything about whether a lawyer can work or earn a living in the second half of his or her career. The legal profession has also become significantly more crowded since 2007 - more surplus lawyers, and fewer jobs. The rate of job losses in the legal profession has vastly accelerated since then. In 2007, most large firm did not have lawyers leaving without other jobs. That is no longer the case and has not been the case for a few years now. The increase in the number of lawyers and decrease in the number of open jobs for them is a trend that has vastly accelerated since 2008. Lawyers who cannot work or are marginalized are important to evaluating the worth of a law degree. Information about the number of these lawyers is very important to a bright young person with many options who is deceding whether to enter the legal profession and particularly whether to attend a top 14 school. A degree from Harvard is not worth it if there is a good chance you cannot use that degree to earn a living, at least not as good a living as a public school teacher with your seniority, after age 50 or so.

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  121. 1:02,
    Actually I think the study was independently verified. DJM made a remark about that several weeks ago so the methodology is sound. So you're saying that all these people just up and lost their jobs in the three years after this study? Give me a break.

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  122. JD Painter just keeps devolving further and further into madness...

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  123. @102,

    "A degree from Harvard is not worth it if there is a good chance you cannot use that degree to earn a living, at least not as good a living as a public school teacher with your seniority, after age 50 or so."

    Even if 20 years is some magic cutoff, do you recognize how much money the average Harvard lawyer makes in the first 20 years of their career?

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  124. "You can't even give away cop or teacher jobs...No one wants them..." This is delusional. Firefighters openings get 300 to 400 applicants. The police aren't far behind. Teachers not so much but even there applicants will work at Starbucks for years before they get one. There mere making of this statement reveals the isolation of the educated upper middle class from working class America. William Ockham

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  125. "The mere making" not "There mere making". 3:04

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  126. 1:54 Even if the Harvard grad earns enough in the first 20 years to pay off his or her debt, if there is no job to follow, what type of life is that? How does this person support his or her family for the next 20 years? Who would go for the Harvard degree to face 20 years of underemployment. Honestly, the lowest ranked medical or dental school would be far preferable because this person would be able to be employed as long as he or she wanted. In fact a foreign medical school might rank higher than a top law school that offers miserable employment statistics for the second half of one's career.

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  127. 1:28 I think a lot of those people lost jobs in the Great Recession, and many did not find satisfactory new jobs. Try the class of 55 year olds at UVa, say class of 1980, and the classes 5 years before and after them and ask them how they are doing now. Ask how many are solos and what they are earning. Use the same criteria as for 9 months out. The results will not come up rosy. Then take out the white males, and the results will be awful.

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  128. When I hear the law students on here talk about other professions and renumeration this is what comes to mind:

    The word is remuneration, not "renumeration." I'm sure it was just an honest typo, but people saying "renumeration" is one of those things that bug the heck out of me.

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  129. You people are in denial as to what a law degree means. Go ahead and put your head in the sand or look at this through rose colored glasses. Job losses are not immediate when you hit your second 20 years, but they accelerate over time. It is startling to see someone who had a perfect career, no missteps, suddenly unemployed. I have seen this happen to my classmates at an accelerated rate. Each year it affects more and more people and fewer of my contemporaries are left.

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  130. 3:52- stop making the scam all about you. this blog is not out to fight the fight of someone who was gainfully employed at a jd-required job for twenty years and who now is not.

    i'm willing to bet a LOT of money the story you're telling is your own. you care way too much.

    focus on the issue at hand, folks. it's a scam. not enough jobs, and it costs too much.

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  131. 3:52 This is about all of my law school classmates. It is about looking at my contemporaries at top law schools. It is about looking at the alumni directories (I have access to three of them) and evaluating what people are doing. The alumni directories produce horrible results for many of my contemporaries. They don't lie. People who have good jobs are more likely to report them in the alumni directories.

    Do you have access to any of the T6 alumni directories? Look at them and you will see that a lot of people in the older classes are not in very good jobs or in jobs at all.

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  132. 3:52 = shitboomer logic.

    Loss of 20 year lucrative career is most important when our generation is taking on six figure debt to show up to "no work" or "don't bother applying if you don't have experience" signs.

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  133. Trapper John, MDJuly 14, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    "Even if the Harvard grad earns enough in the first 20 years to pay off his or her debt"

    This person can simply retire if he played his cards with even half his brain functioning. 20 years of multi-6 figure income means multi-million net worth. If he downsizes a bit, he can float for a decade or two, and in the meantime, he can find something else to do in life.

    This notion that an elite lawyer is fucked b/c he's laid off after 20 years is cochogk.

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  134. 3:52 But it is worse than you think. If you don't get a job in the first place and take on six figure debt, you are clearly in trouble. People now should be smart enough to understand the risk. For those who went before the statistics were known, they got the short end of the stick.

    I am alluding to those who won the lottery and got the jobs. For many people you are talking about a shorted career. That should be important to 0Ls evaluating whether to go to a T14 or someone who has always been a terrific student but is going to a lower ranked school. You are talking about a partial career for most people. If you are in the 55% that gets a full time permanent job after 9 months, but your career on average will take you 26 years, figure that in in paying off your debt. You probably will not be able to save for retirement or pay for your kids college. You need to factor in how long you can realistically expect to work and at what income in making the decision to pay $250,000 or even $100,000 to go to a T14.

    Say I have boomer logic, but everyone gets old or they die. Once you get old, if you are in the 55%, it becomes your problem if there are no jobs for your experience level and you have to go solo.

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  135. 4:22 Try to retire at age 52 after earning $180,000 for 26 years. Do you really think your $300,000 401k will support you for the next 30 years at $10,000 a year? Are you going to go on food stamps? How much do you think a family of 4 can save at that income level in a high cost area? What do you think it costs to live for the rest of your life, let alone raising your kids and sending them to college?

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  136. Anyone who can't retire after making an average of six figures for 25 years (in present day terms) is spending a shitload of money or a terrible investor.

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  137. When you are 20 or 25, you may think you know better. Believe me, the length of time you will be able to work is VERY IMPORTANT in evaluating your career.

    Just think outside the box. If you cannot get a law job, but a job at the local hosptial pays enough to buy that 3 family house on a federal program and rent out 2 of the units, maybe you should do that.

    Maybe that house with 2 rental units is the start of your building wealth that you can buy more of these houses with a few years down the road.

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  138. 4:51 or living in NY or LA.

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  139. Where anyone is in their careers twenty years after they graduate is not the fault/responsibility of any school. The school you go to does nothing but put you in a position to go forth. Some schools position you better than others. That works for a few years, but then other factors take over-- talent, individual decision-making, bad luck, good luck. It never occurred to me that going to a top law school would mean that I would be successful early and forever.

    Looking at a directory and pronouncing other people's jobs as bad and labeling them failures goes too far. You don't know how they feel about their situations, what tradeoffs they have made. Sure, a there are going to be lots of people in many walks of life who are disappointed in how things turned out for one reason or another. What people are talking about on this site is a little different because the costs of law school have gone up so much, compared to the people who are 20 or so years out. This is a different narrative and their 20 years out stories will reflect their particular circumstances.

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  140. 5:13:

    Living in Manhattan instead of Brooklyn--or whatever--is a choice of consumption. It's spending money.

    And I agree with 5:27. The t6 grad evaluating the lives of alumni is a pretty cramped way of looking at things.

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  141. It all goes back to the supply demand imbalance in the legal profession. My doctors work full time well into their 70s if they want to. You likely cannot do that as a lawyer. My colleagues are solos or counsel to firms you have never heard of. Not by choice though. They earn very little and work very hard. They are honors grads of top schools - HYSC. The opportunities in the legal profession drop as time goes on for people. That is not a well known fact. It is not because of personal choice. It is because there are way too many lawyers and too few jobs. The lack of BigLaw jobs and any substitute that pays close to the $160,000 rate for experienced lawyers is very important in evaluating whether or not to go to law school and whether or not to stick with this if you are an unemployed lawyer just out of school trying to get a job.

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  142. Suze Orman's entire show tonight is about student loan debt and how she's now calling it "the most dangerous debt." She is one of the only leading national media voices talking about this issue with this kind of urgency.

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  143. And there are honors grads of top schools who have managed to capitalize on their school ties, or who have good luck, and have managed their careers well and who are at the top of the profession. There will be successes and failures in every profession.

    Doctors-- think of the sacrifices and preparation that people go through to become doctors. It is a singular profession and their outcomes are singular. A person can be sitting around until their junior or senior in college, take the LSAT, and go to law school, and get a degree in 3 years. Why on earth should their outcomes be compared to the outcomes of people who go through what they have to go through to be a doctor. My friends who are doctors, one a surgeon, began some form of preparation for medical school while they were in high school-- taking the right classes so that by the time they got to college they could be on track to take the classes they had to take. They took those classes, many that were basically "weed out" classes that were overly tough just to get rid of the faint of heart. Then you know the rest.

    I went to law school, but I don't think it makes sense to compare doctors and lawyers when we talk about who "deserves" to have a lucrative career for life.

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  144. If you are HYSCC, you would have had the grades to go to med school. Sure there is more preparation needed for med school, but 42% of applicants are accepted to allopathic (MD degree) med schools. Those who got into the top law schools, and also are good at science could have gone to med schools rated at least in the top half. People who went to a top rated college and then a top 6 law school likely had very strong records and killed themselves to get there, even in high school. The difference is until now, people were not making informed career choices because no data was out there on law school employment outcomes. Now thankfully we have a little something - 9 month employment outcomes.

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  145. 6:42 You need to understand the metric. Some of my contemporaries made it to the 40 under 40 list or the equivalent thereof years ago. Great jobs in their 30s. A lot of those people are totally gone from any sort of lucrative job 10 to 20 years later. Sure it is not everybody - there are still a good number but dwindling number of my contemporaries with good jobs at this point. Sure a very small minority of those people who are not working made big money and no longer have to work. However, there is a substantial contingent, and it may almost reach a majority of the class at some point that wants to work and is very much underemployed at a disadvantageous compensation level. The question is what percentage of the class ended up as involuntary solos or in a similar position. It is the point LawProf made in one post about entry level lawyers earning more than experienced lawyers according to one state bar survey.

    This is very important information for the future of the next generation. If I am correct, a lot fewer people should be going into law than we think based on the 9 month employment statistics.

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  146. I understand the metric perfectly. I also understand the thinking that leads people to believe that because they went to HYS, they should be at the top of the heap for their entire lives. That was, and is now, the wrong way to think about what going to law school means, even a top law school. I know many of my HYS classmates who felt that because they were at top schools, doors should remain opened to them forever no matter what choices they made, what their abilities as lawyers were, what bad luck they encountered. There are people who have been on top all their lives and think that should continue forever. There is no golden ticket to eternal success.

    Being a lawyer is hard work and it is a business. Most people will end up in solo or small firms which will require them to be in business and not have a "job" in the way you are writing about it--depending upon someone else to give them a paycheck. That would be easier, true. But the majority of lawyers will not have that. You are right: people need to know this.

    I agree completely that a lot fewer people should be going to law school. That is happening and will continue. Firms will go back to doing what they did before, hiring mostly from top schools. People who are not at top schools will no longer think they are going to get into those firms. In years past they knew they would not. The past decade created unrealistic expectations in that regard.

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  147. To the poster that is saying experienced lawyers from top schools are in bad situations - thanks for posting, I wasn't aware of that. How do you have access to multiple alumni listings?

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  148. My access is through college, law school and degrees. The point I am trying to hit home is that the high percentage of $160,000 from these top law schools is not representative of long term outcomes for lawyers 25 or 30 years out. The $160,000+ also is to a great degree in high cost areas where the cost of living, the need to work a million hours and the stress of doing it all and staying employed is high. You might have a better life with a less high powered career in a slightly lower cost area. It is hard to switch careers in middle or old age so be careful.

    I would not do this again if I could start all over for all of the above reasons.

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  149. I would do it in an instant.

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  150. 8:21 here-- Yours is a good perspective. Not everyone is suited to the kind of life that people have in firms. I have friends who found out early on they didn't want that kind of life and left, and I have friends who are partners and are satisfied with their lives, as much as people can be satisfied. But not everyone who goes the HYS route wants the high flying life. Other of my classmates took modest jobs from the outset and have made good lives for themselves. They had a plan and thought seriously about what they wanted in life. That works better than following some perceived notion of what one should because one went to a top school.
    As I said before, you are talking about people 20 years out, people who did not pay what folks are paying today for law school. The questions are different now.

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  151. Trapper John, MDJuly 14, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    "Anyone who can't retire after making an average of six figures for 25 years (in present day terms) is spending a shitload of money or a terrible investor."

    Exactly. And we're not talking some puny $125k 6-figures, but MULTI-6 figures. Millions and millions of income over those 20 years. If this guy is talking about people in their 50s. They sould be sitting on at least $500,000 of pure profit just from their real estate exposure! I think he's full of shit, frankly. People don't talk about these things to distant law school classmates, 20 years after the fact.

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  152. 9:45,
    Agreed, I think he / she is just someone that washed out and wants to feel better about themself.

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  153. It's not that simple to save.

    After student living, people want to spend. Men, in particular, need to spend to attract a mate. Many of these women are costly to maintain. Then you need to buy a home in a safe neighborhood and the right car for client meetings. Then suits. Then gadgets. Then the wife wants an expensive vacation, then an expensive ring, then an expensive wedding, and now we're into the costs of yuppie childrearing. And God help you if she files for divorce.

    It's quite easy to make six figures for a decade and have nothing to show for it.

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  154. At large law firms only on track associates get the going rate. After 7 years associates who do not make partner have their salaries frozen. Those not on partnership track are frozen earlier. What this means is that a large group of big firm lawyers never gets beyond $200,000. The numbers that make more today are pretty tiny and that is only while they are on partnership track. Many firms have short term counsel positions. In house for most people does not go much above $200,000. If you are talking about someone making in the multi six figures for years, that person has won the legal lottery - made partner or has a high level in house position. Very few people get there and most who get there for years are white male.

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  155. Saving isn't easy, even with a low six figures high income.

    I have had a low six figures income for the approx. 6 years since graduation. I started with $143,000 in student loan debt. To live close to my demanding job, I have a roommate in a so-so part of brooklyn, and pay $1000 in rent. I don't have cable, or go anywhere but to my family upstate on vacation. After paying $2100 per month to service the loans for the last five years, and putting 90% of year end bonuses to the loans, I have approximately $57,000 left in student loans. I have about $40,000 in my 401K, and $10,000 in short term savings for the inevitable rainy day. Net worth: -$7,000 dollars after five and a half years with low six figures salary.

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  156. "Anyone who can't retire after making an average of six figures for 25 years (in present day terms) is spending a shitload of money or a terrible investor."

    Most of the long-term hangers on at the big firms are not partners. They are non-partner lawyers who are 40-something or younger and are not making the mid six figures. They are off track and are very much in the low six figures, but they are still making a good living, and they know it. Problem is that cost of living is so high in big metropolitan areas, and there is little flexibility with life. You need to live within a reasonable commute to work in your high cost city. That is very expensive. Try $2200 a month minimum with heat and AC if you have a family and need a room other than the living room for your kids. You need to pay life insurance, home insurance and if you are out of NYC, for a car. Food is $1,000 a month in the NY metropolitan area for a family of 4. If you are putting $1,000 a month into your 401K, there is really not much left. If you can save $2,000 a month (including the 401K) or put that much towards your loans, you are doing about the best you can on this income level. The problem is that you are working day and night to support this lifestyle, with your job always at risk. You may save a few hundred thousand dollars after 20 years.

    Problem is that private college at sticker is $250,000 per child. If you want the highest ranked college your kid can get into, you pay sticker. For two kids, private college will deplete your savings, even at substantial discount.

    Even state schools for two kids will run you a couple of hundred thousand dollars after paying living expenses and tuition. It will be a big bite out of your savings.

    I am not saying you starve as a lawyer as long as you can work in a good job. I am saying that a job loss after 20 years for most lawyers is economically not a situation the lawyer can continue. The lawyer needs to get work.

    Most lawyers do not make that much. Sure the lawyers at the top NY firms who make partner do well. However, a partner in a large out of town firm is probably not going to make a huge amount in NY dollars. Remember, the experienced NYC school teacher is paid $108,000 in salary and the City spends that much on benefits for this teacher. You are in a high tax area with high housing costs.

    Whoever posted the above does not understand the economics of being a lawyer.

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  157. 6:47: I'm that poster. So here is a question. Why does the "economics of being a lawyer" that I don't understand include (a) having to pay for your childrens' education at all (b) having a wife who increases one's consumption (e.g., increased real estate costs) but contributes zero dollars to household income.

    You basically reframed the question into whether 25 years of six figures salary in NYC could support 4 people. I don't doubt that a six figures salary X 25 doesn't go as far when your only job is Manhattan (why not move to Houston?)--you can only commute so far--but let's not lose the ball here.

    The frustration on my end is that many of my peers struggle to find jobs at all and are happy with their 50k salaries--even when it means relocating to "second tier cities". We don't, and we can't, expect to have all the things our shitboomer parents had. We don't get to assume we can pay for our childrens' education or that we get to have a wife who has the luxury of staying home all her life without earning a cent. So to have some asshat drop in to complain about his six figure salary that he had for decades when our networth is in the minus seems like a more offensive error than failing to understand the intricacies of (apparently compelled) bigcity living and all that it entails.

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  158. First of the the 50K is a starting salary. It is not a mid-career salary. If it will go a 100k to 120k salary at midcareer in an area where you can actually live nicely on 100k, you are goldent. You have to be able to move though and want to move. If you can and want to move, it may be a wise move.

    Money goes alot farther in a small city than in a big one. The job in a small city may be a very good job.

    You need to consider that some states like Florida and California have great public college programs where your kids can stay in state and really get a great education for much less than in the Northeast.

    Some people cannot move or do not want to move for all sorts of reasons - aging parents that one does not want to leave, underwater homes that one cannot leave, a spouse's school or job, and once your kids are big enough, taking them out of a good school.

    The problem I am alluding to is top schools advertising $160,000 jobs that last for only a limited period of time with no place to go afterwards, working to the point you are ready to drop in that job with a high likelihood of losing it, and the fact that this money gives most people little financial security because they are tied to the absolutely highest cost areas. The end of the line is often job loss at a time when you have children and parents and really are cutting your ties to your family by moving to a different part of the country.

    I do not have personal experience with second tier cities, but they may be a better option than the largest metropolitan areas if you can do it.

    You can start there and hopefully be able to stay there with a good job if you like it.

    The other factor you allude to is a spouse's job. With a second professional salary, the family may be very well off. There is a trade off though of no one being home to raise the kids, having them grow up while you are work and the high cost of child care making it uneconomical for most people to work part time.

    Maybe you can live comfortably on that one salary in the second tier city, and maybe your spouse does not have to kill themselves working to make ends meet there. Smaller law firms do tend to pay six figures for partners, and the more business you have the more you earn.

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  159. I hate to break the news to everyone but I graduated from a very good state law school way back in 1987. In the past 25 years, I had two bad jobs. One to a bipolar sole practitioner who went through an associate every six months and one just a dead end mill where they dumped files on you until you broke. Total of both five years. After that I hung a shingle and only once cracked $45k a year. I lived at home with my parents for 15 years not because I wanted to but because I had to. This is the price for not doing well in math and pursuing liberal arts in college. Law school is the next logical step. Then you fall off the cliff. And no matter how much you warn the young people they don't listen. I have had a young man who I mentored and warned repeatedly not to go to law school go on to law school, then email me afterwards to say I was right and beg me to hire him at minimum wage. I told him I was barely making minimum wage! My only advise for any young person who made this mistake is to try to enlist. Not in JAG in a different military career slot. It's the only way I can see to get off the legal career track.

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  160. You don't enlist in JAG dipshit, it's a commission.

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    1. My point was don't think you can go into JAG. Even if you could, don't. Use the the military for a new career track. Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

      Delete
  161. That part about salaries being frozen below 200K is bullshit. With a few exceptions almost all Amlaw 100 firms advance you at market rate. There are a handful that condition advancement on making your hours although of course if you don't make your hours there's always a chance you'll be fired. Market rate for 4th years is 210K.

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  162. Base salaries are frozen once you are off track at any big firm. Bonuses that go to on track associates do not apply to you if you are off track or over 7 years out. Some people find out they are not on track as a mid level and the effect is that they do not advance to the next salary level.

    A few lucky people who do not make partner can typically stay at a more senior associate salary. Most people have to leave.

    If you think there are tons of people in your office sitting their with comfy $210,000 jobs, you have not been in BigLaw long enough to understand how it works.

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  163. One serious problem is that law school attracts risk averse people who want a job, or guarantee of jobs, for the rest of their lives. Law is a business. Someone has to go out and get it. The lament from posters is that of people who did not understand that when they went in. There should be greater emphasis on that in law schools, and some schools are beginning to incorporate the business aspect of law into their curricula. As and HYS grad said earlier, none of my classmates banked on being partners in law firms. Who in their right mind would? We knew that was a long shot. The thinking was to go in, get bills paid down, and then find something else to do.

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  164. ***"You need to consider that some states like Florida and California have great public college programs where your kids can stay in state and really get a great education for much less than in the Northeast. "***

    I hate to break it to you, Sherlock, [@ 8:30} but since Reagan took an axe to the California college system, and since the passage of Prop. 13 in the late '70s, the "public college program" in CA has been on a death spiral.

    The "top tier" schools [Berkeley & UCLA] are impossible to get into. Costs have risen astronomically at the universities, the "Cal State" segment of the universities, and the community colleges. Classes are so crowded and offered so irregularly that it's almost impossible to finish a degree in four years.

    Okay, not the same cost as going to Brown or Amherst, but formidable [and often impossible] for most families.

    Do some research beyond cheery article in Money magazine about "how to save money on your kids' education."

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  165. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  166. I was offline yesterday, so this comment goes back to the questions about the study of U VA grads. I think it is a well intentioned study, but there is a serious flaw that the authors do not address: They obtained responses from only 72.2% of the graduates they surveyed. For most social science research, that would count as a very high response rate. But when measuring career outcomes of law graduates, it almost certainly is biased in the ways that NALP salary figures are biased.

    In fact, the bias in this study has two components. First, the study relied upon addresses from the U VA alumni office. Graduates who are dissatisfied with their career outcomes, who have left law entirely, or who are doing something different than the usual U VA outcome are less likely to keep in touch with the alumni office. Unless the office continuously updates addresses from bar records, internet searches, or other sources, some of the 28% who didn't respond never even got the survey--and they are people who probably differ systematically from the people who stayed in touch with the alumni office.

    Second, the people who received the survey and threw it away probably differ systematically from the people who responded. Again, people who are dissatisfied with their careers, embarrassed with their current position, or plain unemployed are less likely to respond. That may have been inadvertently aggravated here by the fact that the initial survey letter included (1) a letter from the U VA law dean explaining the survey's importance, and (2) a U VA law refrigerator magnet. These are well-meaning devices to encourage response (standard for many survey designs), but in this context they were likely to encourage response from happy graduates doing things the law school would be proud of.

    Today, with the internet, there are better ways to gather information about grads. I hope to post more thoughts about that soon.

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  167. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  168. 10:17 It may be competitive in California, but at least those who can go into the system and are in the top 8 or 9 public universities have blue chip degrees. You cannot really say that of any public college in the Northeast. I know the City University in NYC has some great honors programs that you need to apply to in high school, but they take a few hundred kids a year. Outside of those, not clear that you can say the public colleges in the Northeast stand out the way the California schools do.

    Florida has Bright Futures scholarships for residents that help pay public and private tuition. Clearly the Florida schools are a good choice if you are from Florida and planning to stay there.

    There are other states with great state schools, namely Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas and Virginia. The farther you get from the Northeast, the less important going to a private out of state school gets, so maybe in Arizona or New Mexico, the the state school is as good a choice as a top private college in the Northeast, if you graduate with honors.

    These are considerations in deciding where you get the best deal for your expensive law degree. It does not help to spend years saving a few hundred thousand dollars, which is all most people can do with a BigLaw start, and then lose a big chunk of it to college.

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  169. Regarding the children in college problem: don't have kids. No one put a gun to your junk and told you that you had to start breeding. If you can't afford to give your children a better life than you had, why try? There are other biological impariatives that we supress for the sake of civilized living (e.g., constant sex, physical violence against rivals, not talking in movie theatres).

    Having children died when I foolishly went to law school for sticker. This is my lot.

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  170. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  171. I think the discussion of getting kicked out of big law after say 20 years is very interesting and not off topic for this site. It goes to the expected value of going to law school. That doesn't help recent graduates, but it does help 0Ls who may be reading this.

    For the HYS kid, my observation (which may not be surprising) is that 10 years out of HYS the vast majority of folks are no longer in big law. Probably most of those folks are earning less than big law would pay. Not many folks appear to be partners. Many of those may be non equity partners.

    What would it take to retire very comfortably at say 45 (after around 20 years in big law). I'm going to say around 3 mil, assuming a 1 mil house and 2 mil that you can use to draw down say inflation adjusted 100K per year. That isn't really enough to live high end in a big city and send say 2 or 3 kids to private schools (and in a big city, the public alternative may be rather unpalatable) and college.

    Anyway, the point is that it's basically impossible to reach that kind of savings goal in 20 years of big law, unless you were to become an equity partner. The numbers just don't work after big city taxes/reasonable living expenses. Actually, I've never seen big law lawyers voluntarily "retire" young.

    In the face of all that, the mythical fireman/cop who can retire after 20-25 years and get 100K+ per year for the rest of his life, sounds pretty good indeed. Your tax dollars hard at work.

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  172. DJM,
    Flaws in the survey aside, it paints a much different picture than old man who lost his/her job and trolls the comment boards.

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  173. ^edit old man/woman

    That's what I get for trying to be gender inclusive.

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  174. 10:05,
    Everyone is "on track" for partner whatever the fuck that means since no is going to be made partner. "Off track" means fired.
    The 210K is base and does not include bonuses which have been shit for the past few years anyways. The amount of complete bullshit that people say on this blog is unbelievable.

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  175. $210,000 is 5th year. Not that many associates make it beyond that level in this economy.

    Many firms will stop advancing people to next salary level, but give long-term associates a long time to find other work. So the associate stays and works but does not keep getting raised to the next class salary level each year. Anyone who thinks these raises are automatic and everyone gets sticker based on their class year and beyond 7 years associates are at the top salary rate is dreaming. In some firms counsel get less money than senior associates. Firms are under pressure to save money. Raises are anything but automatic in these firms.

    The point of long term outcomes - in my class at a very top law school (I do not want to identify it, but it is at the top part of the T14), less than 5% of women are at a firm of over 10 lawyers, and less than 2% are in house. The comparable figures for minorities are 0 and 0. You can call that bitterness of an old man who was fired (in fact I am working), but it is like saying the scambloggers who did not find legal jobs have something wrong with them. The numbers do not lie.

    When I went to alumni function at my former biglaw firm, people who had been highly paid experienced lawyers at the firm were in jobs at under 10 firms or solos. It is sort of shocking.

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  176. It's shocking because of the unrealistic expectations you brought to the table. No one can defend the low percentage of women partners in firms or black partners. There are more of both than their used to be. As for women, I have several classmates who left firms once they had kids.That was not the profession's fault. I am not criticizing the women, because I bailed in anticipation of that myself, leaving for less pressured job. A couple of those female classmates have returned to the work force now as lawyers at not for profits. And there are classmates who have their own small firms. They are not living hand to mouth. But anyone who is in business has to work hard to make it work. There are a good number of women partners in my class and a handful of black partners. DC is better on that score than NYC. I still do not get why anyone would think that the majority of his/her class would end up as partners in big law firms. This was HYS, and we did not think that way.

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  177. What is shocking is how little these people are likely to make. You do not expect that with a top law school degree you will not be able to make six figures. I really believe that is the case for most of the people I am talking about. I personally never thought about what I was going to do long-term, but it surely did not encompass working in the private sector for what is a very low salary in a very insecure job. I think that is the status of many of my female and minority classmates and surely of the highly credentialed colleagues I ran into at the alumni function. The real problem is that the top law schools give people an expectation that they can earn $160,000 a year. That expectation is not the reality for many experienced lawyers.

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  178. 12:53,
    No, 210K is 4th year.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_firm

    Also google any abovethelaw thread on law firm salaries.

    No one said anything about people beyond 7 years. After 7 years they toss you if they have not already done so.

    And no, the bullshit you are spreading is not in any way comparable to the issue the scamblogs are confronting.

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  179. @2:12-- I don't understand how going to a top law school will guarantee a certain level of income 20 years after someone has graduated. And your alumni functions and mine are different. The people who show up are not the ones in very low salary jobs, unless they are legal aid/public interest/government lawyer types who opted for that life right off the bat. It was not everyone's dream to be a partner in a big law firm.I know there are classmates who are struggling, but in every profession there are those who do better than others. Going to a top law school or "top" anything is not a ticket.

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  180. The issue consistently raised by the person in the comments section about long term outcomes does not compare to the issue tackled by the scambloggers. As the dating/mating troll notes, a person working in BL for a long time should have the good sense to save up some money.

    Having said that, said long term issue really does magnify the nature of the scam. When a unionized teacher/cop/plumber winds up making more money, under far less stressful conditions, than not just the losers of the LS game, but alot of the winners as well, LS should be avoided under all circumstances (unless your parents are rich and will subsidize a practice for you, or otherwise hook you up, and/or you are in a gambling mood and you are going to HYS ).

    We are in a global economy. Only those who pay the politicians and those who vote for them as certain key blocks in key areas (municipal blue collar folk and some teachers) will be spared from the slaughter.

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  181. Maybe the difference is that the salary goes up January 1 or later, so that if you are class of 2010, your salary is 160 for at least a year and a few months, then 170 for a year starting in 2012 and then 190 for a year starting in 2013. In 2014, you go up to 210 and you are starting your 5th year since there will be a new first year class before that salary goes up once again. When my firm sent out memos on this, they referred to "class of" so people were not confused.

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  182. There's nothing confusing about it. You get your raise in your 4th year.

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  183. JD Painterguy:

    "I think you need to stop taking comments as well, or at least stop taking comments for a little while at least so as to let your message, and DJM's message get out.

    "Too many cooks spoil the soup."

    Physician, heal thyself. I love this blog--except for your inane ramblings in the comments. I have quite a bit of sympathy for you as a human being, but wish you had money for actual therapy instead of having to resort to whatever therapeutic benefit you get from repeatedly trying to hijack attention to yourself on the comment threads.

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  184. @ 1:16:

    "The farther you get from the Northeast, the less important going to a private out of state school gets, so maybe in Arizona or New Mexico, the the state school is as good a choice as a top private college in the Northeast, if you graduate with honors."

    Um. . . don't know about Arizona, but that's absolutely not true about New Mexico.

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  185. What outcome in the law, with perhaps the exception of becoming a partner at a decent firm and/or becoming a high powered judge, is better than this:

    http://www.jdunderground.com/all/thread.php?threadId=30120

    Before someone asks how hard it is to become a captain, not nearly as hard as getting into a solid LS or having the creds for BL. Also the outcome is about the same for the regular beat cops.

    This is without the debt and with half the stress.

    This is why I say becoming a STEM professional in light of outsourcing, a lawyer in light of the oversaturation, or a doctor in light of OBAMACARE is suicide for the lower classes.

    Get rewarded for voting and being medicore, don't get punished for trying.

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  186. You will love this one:

    http://www.nypdrecruit.com/benefits-salary/overview

    Sure beats going to LS.

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  187. @ 6:32 "Even for top schools and top grads the unemployment/ underemployment/ low compensation problem for lawyers is much worse than the statistics 9 months out of law school show. The big firm jobs last for the most part for a few years. There are limited numbers of high paying jobs for alums of those big firms to go to, and surely not enough $160,000+ permanent full time jobs by any stretch for the vast majority of lawyers who train in big firms. By the time you hit 30 years out of law school (age 56 or so) for the top 20 law schools, the salary statistics look downright catastrophic. The medians are going to be lower that those of the 9 month group from the same school. We really need those numbers collected and published. It is a mistake to go to CLS for example if you can have 20 years in a good job and after that you are relegated to temp work, solo practice or eat what you kill. The glamorous high paying jobs that are available to younger grads of those schools certainly disappear in pretty big numbers for the older grads because the $160,000 firms are age pyramids. This blog needs to publicize those numbers for experienced grads of top law schools. It is a very uncertain future for a large percentage of people who go to top law schools, even the top 6...Now, with the huge glut of lawyers, employment opportunities really poor in the profession and up or out policies creating a fairly large group of unemployed top law school grads, people who can go to the top law schools need to know what their chances are to make a good living."

    YOU ARE SO RIGHT. I take credit for being one of the early posters on this blog to raise this issue several months ago. Sure, the winners of the biglaw lottery are in a better position and can at least hopefully pay off their student loans, but LAW IS NOT A STABLE BUSINESS, and NOBODY CAN BE SURE THAT THEY CAN MAKE A GOOD LIVING LONG TERM AS A LAWYER. Each law job is insecure, and it is getting worse. I know scores of once successful biglaw lawyers who are either unemployed entirely, have their own law firm out of their house, are alleged consultants, or are working in an eat what you kill firm where there isn't much killing. THE OVERSUPPLY OF LAWYERS IS EXTREME.

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  188. 8:32,

    Businessweek published a chart of MBA graduate pay after 20 years based on PayScale data so it's probably already possible to figure out the data you seek.

    You should offer some legal publications your suggestion.

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  189. leave it to a boomer to make the contemporary law school scam all about his/her generation.

    a boomer's ability to engineer self-involvement in any situation is truly astounding.

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  190. I read about half of these comments before I figured out that we're talking about BigLaw salaries, the bonuses being shit, the difficulty of putting money aside and, for some reason, "enlisting" in JAG.

    I have to think that all of those topics are completely irrelevant to the majority of law students at this point. Really? It's hard to SAVE money. Saving money to me is getting the wrong change at the grocery store.

    You're all very valuable human beings. Carry on.

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  191. 9:45 pm said, "P.S. I'm in the 33% marginal tax bracket. And you??"

    Doesn't matter what bracket I'm in. I mean, yes, a significant amount of my income is in the top bracket.

    But that doesn't matter really because I pay a bunch of AMT. PITA to have to run the taxes the "regular way", and have it say I overpaid according to that scheme, then have to run the AMT calc and have it say that I'm still $4k short...

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  192. There is no denying the fact that a pre GED test is absolutely necessary no matter how positive you are that you can do a great job in the actual examination. This can give you the peace of mind that you need in knowing that you prepared well for the exam. Other than this, taking a pre-test can help give you an idea on what are some of the questions to be covered in the test so you will know what topics to focus on.

    printable ged practice test free

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