Friday, July 20, 2012

They write letters

 Two recent letters  (The juxtaposition is meant to be suggestive rather than didactic):

Paul,

A few things about your blog:
  1. I'm a college junior who has always dreamed of practicing law. I think I would be good at it. My GPA is north of 3.9, and I have scored above 170 on the LSAT. I am willing to accept that law school is not a sensible investment, but you have to understand where this leaves me. I have spent my early life cultivating "lawyering skills," which aren't very marketable outside of law school. There are a lot of blogs like yours, and I think they have good intentions on the whole. Still, if you want to help high-achieving students like me to make wiser career decisions, you should give us other options. What are the sensible choices for people like me? There are many people like me.
  2. Do you consider the top 14 schools in the US to be in on the scam? I prowl a lot of forums where the consensus is that three groups of people should attend law school: 1) Those with connections, 2) those with generous scholarships, and 3) those who can enter the top 14 programs (from the USNews rankings).
Thank you very much.
Follow up questions and answers:



  • What sort of lawyering skills have you been cultivating?

    • I'm majoring in economics and English. When I was 18, I decided to head to a liberal arts school because I knew engineering majors generally earned lower GPA's that soured their admission chances. I chose Dickens over Newton. I knew I wanted to become a lawyer, so I planned out the steps to get into a great school and followed them (I think).


  • What other options besides law school have you considered?

  • I am my school's student representative to the university foundation board, and I serve as VP of the student investment club. I have thought about things like investment banking -- you get the idea.

    ***

    I came across your article about jobs in western Nebraska. I am actually a 2010 Nebraska Law Graduate who absolutely struggled to find work before starting my own successful business. After passing the bar I struggled to get a job for over a year because I really wanted to stay in Omaha. I had a couple of friends from my class suck it up and move out to western Nebraska. One originally from Lincoln moved out to Sidney. She was absolutely miserable and lasted about 7 months. Her biggest frustrations were not only being isolated but also hardly being able to make ends meet. She was even willing to pick up a second part time job for some extra cash but as there are no retail stores and a minimal number of other stores she couldn’t get anyone to hire her.

    Another friend was from Scottsbluff and ended up back there. She is now in Lincoln. As I was struggling with the notion of moving west myself, she offered to let me live with her for free because she was lonely and found it hard to find people to socialize with as a young professional. We came to the conclusion that she was happily employed and otherwise miserable out west, and I was happy socially in Omaha but miserable because I was unemployed.

    I on the other hand tried to stick it out in Omaha and find employment. Jobless for over a year I moved into the basement of a family friend. I worked a few jobs as a server to try and make ends meet. I got my first job at age 12 and have always held several jobs through high school and college, even serving through my first year of law school. However, after passing the bar it was absolutely degrading to be clearing people’s plates… To say I was depressed would be a complete understatement.

    Fast forward to October 2011 and I am babysitting for one of the girls I coached on a Friday night. (because when you don’t have a law job you take just about anything). She was showing me apparel and headbands she bought at a volleyball tournament and I get the idea that I should start selling the same stuff at local sports tournaments. So, out of a friend’s basement I start my own business. I couldn’t even be approved for a small business loan because I had so many law school loans and no job. Luckily my parents are absolutely amazing and gave me $2,000 to buy some inventory. (My dad makes about $35,000 a year so they don’t have a ton of extra money) I now spend every weekend working tournaments and camps across Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, and will hopefully keep expanding. My parents work almost every weekend now, as does my sister and several of my friends including law graduates looking for extra money. I expect to make at least $100,000 this year and see this business absolutely blowing up.

    It took me several months to get back on my feet. My credit card was up to $6,000. I paid that off in February along with one of my student loans. I was finally able to get my own place in May. Every month it pains me to pay off those student loans for a career I will never have, but I also feel blessed that I have enough money to pay more than the minimum after not even being able to pay my rent just a few months ago.

    The best thing that ever happened is giving up my dream to be an attorney. Selling headbands and t-shirts is much more profitable and fun than living in western Nebraska making $35,000 a year.


    110 comments:

    1. Sometimes you just need that spark of inspiration. Congrats to the grad who founded his/her own business!

      ReplyDelete
    2. "Congrats to the grad who founded his/her own business!"
      He/She didn't build that. Someone else made it happen.
      -B. Obama

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. He said his parents made the initial investment because he couldn't qualify for a bank loan. So, yeah, he needed help just like everyone else.

        Delete
    3. "He/She didn't build that. Someone else made it happen.
      -B. Obama"

      This is what passes for argument these days?

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    4. Rather surprised about the first letter.

      It's nice to have goals in life, but this guy sounds so focused he could look through a key hole with both eyes at the same time. He is sold on an image of high prestige lawyering that is not the case in the true profession.

      Maybe he would be happily miserable in six figure debt just so he can say he is an attorney, but in no way should the gov't loan program and our tax dollars continue to sponsor this tom-foolery.

      He should go into STEM. We need more Dickensian minds to learn about Newton.

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    5. 6:31:

      We have more students studying STEM than jobs now. Increasing the number of STEM students would do nothing more than, over the long run, decrease compensation for STEM grads.

      We need economic expansion through redistribution. Full stop. Everything else is just re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

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    6. I would like to see a survey comparing the employment rate of male law graduates with their penis length. Something tells me that your average unemployed male law grad suffers not because of law school, but because of an underlying lack of confidence caused by their physical ineptness.

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      Replies
      1. So law school grads are unemployed and drowning in 6-figure debt because they have small "members". Seriously, that's the best you've got- a penis joke?

        Delete
    7. 6:27- Check the full quote rather than Limbaugh version. "If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that." Actual quote by Pres. Obama.

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    8. 6:27 -- Complete misquote of the President's comments, taken out of context -- but a nice try.

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    9. investment banking

      "I do not think that means what you think it means."

      English majors not named Romney outside of the iveys don't get into major banks. Engineering majors Generally, if major banks (e.g., GS,MS,BOA,JPM) don’t recruit at your school, for your major, generally B.S. business (e.g.,finance), there is no way in.

      This guy is going to be offering toasters for opening a checking account. It’s an honest living, but “models and bottles” investment banking died in 2007. The club stopped admitting the hoi palloi.

      See: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-19/morgan-stanley-joins-citigroup-in-job-cut-push-amid-slump.html

      It's hard to find out that you're not going to be who you planned to be. Alcohol helps.

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    10. Replace "t-14" with HYS and he's probably less wrong.

      But I think with a 3.9+ and a 17(3)+, he should be good at H or S, in which case law school IS a good investment.

      As for the girl that starts a business--LP is being unfair and misleading (much like the law schools he criticizes). The rate of failure for those who start new businesses is probably far, far higher than those who go to T-14 law schools...this is like saying, "instead of going to law school, why don't you go win the lottery?"

      Nothing against the girl of course, good on her for her successes, but it's unimaginably unrealistic for you to suggest that all high-achieving would-be law grads just go "start a business". In most cases, those businesses flame out.

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    11. Engineering majors may get in as quants, but again only from top programs such as MIT.

      editing errors. sigh.

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    12. @ 6:41 AM

      What an absolutely asinine comment. I guess that's not surprising coming from an assclown.

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    13. 6:53: I don't see any suggestions from Lawprof in this post.

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    14. @ Terry Malloy,

      Don't talk about what you don't know...BBs recruit in many, many non-Ivies (USC, NYU, you name it). But I concede that this kid went to a "liberal arts college" and that probably won't be so good (unless he went to Yale).

      You sound like a bitter ex-Occupy protestor who joined the "movement" out of jealousy.

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    15. Terry, don't feed the troll.

      ReplyDelete
    16. Or someone in regulatory/compliance with seven years of experience in the big-boy NYC financial industry (non-retail). I may have even worked at an investment bank when it went down in flames.

      I admit, ivey was shorthand. The big banks go deeper into the rankings, but not much deeper.

      ReplyDelete
    17. Oh of course, a bureaucrat. Even worse than an Occupier.

      There are more in the world of financial services than just BB (which stands for bulge bracket, not "big banks"). boutique firms (Jeffries, Lazard, etc., which all pay market); hedge funds; P.E. shops...you get the idea.

      Saying "banks are dead" is just as retarded as saying "there is no more biglaw."

      There will always be both of those things. They may be in decline from the heyday in 2007, but they will always exist, and the best grads will always have a home there.

      ReplyDelete
    18. When did the "best and brightest" in this country become such big pussies?

      Consider this: if you aspire to be either a high prestige lawyer or an investment banker, your aspiration is still to be someone else's employee. Top college students need to start dreaming bigger or this country is totally screwed.

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    19. Hijacked already. Sigh.

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    20. Everyone arguing with the "You didn't build that" comment, pointing out that Obama said another thing at another point in the same speech clarifying what he meant (in which he DID make that comment, verbatim, but that doesn't mean it isn't being shown out of context, welcome to the whole Obama campaign strategy by the way), does not remove the fact that he did explicitly say "If you have a business, you didn't build that." Watch the damn speech and don't just repeat your sides talking points

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    21. Oh of course, a bureaucrat. Even worse than an Occupier.

      Well, my mom loves me.

      ReplyDelete
    22. 7:14- dude, it's a quote, not a talking point. As Reagan said, you can have your own opinions but not your own facts.

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    23. Hmm, I see that Trollapalooza '12 is well underway.

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    24. @ 7:40 A.M

      Jack Marshall has descended to new lows.

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    25. probably the best post ever on this blog. i for one gave myself a shot at living abroad the year before law school in an attempt to find something else to do with my life. it went horribly and in the end i had my parents screaming at me over the phone to come back because whenever we talked i was so upset. i'm now at a t6 with a free ride. i still don't know if it was the right decision. i am terribly depressed now. i was terribly depressed abroad too but i felt like i was learning and alive. and when i was living abroad i also had a good job and i didn't have the $100,000 in debt i will have even with a free ride at this T6. (PROTIP: INTEREST ACCRUES *DURING* LAW SCHOOL.) i think all things considered, i probably should have stayed abroad, told my parents to fuck off, and kept on living. on the other hand, when i moved to T6-town, i met the love of my life. but, i guess the point is, for the first letter-writer, it's at least worth trying SOMETHING, ANYTHING other than law school. this economy does not reward "safe" patterns of behavior. it rewards pluck, entrepreneurship, and thinking and doing outside the box.

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    26. 7:54 again. just to clarify, before i get shit on for being a spineless millenial or whatever, i didn't come back because my parents TOLD me to or THREATENED me or whatever. i don't do things for that reason. it was that my mother was telling me that my father wasn't eating because he was so worried about me, things like that. that kind of onslaught is impossible to resist for any responsible child. telling them to fuck off would have ripped apart our family. still, it might have been worth it.

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    27. I'm not understanding why you have 100k in debt from your "free ride" to law school. What am I missing?

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    28. spineless millenial

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    29. 25K/yr living expenses + bar loan + interest = 100k. Law school transparency gives total debt at sticker price for similarly situated law schools as 250-275K. Sad but true.

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    30. @8:10

      On the bright side, if you still have connections overseas and the law lottery doesn't work out, you've got a potential escape from your debt that many others lack.

      ReplyDelete
    31. "it was that my mother was telling me that my father wasn't eating because he was so worried about me, things like that. that kind of onslaught is impossible to resist for any responsible child. telling them to fuck off would have ripped apart our family."

      Look up the definition of manipulation. You've been played. In essence they were ordering you to come back and threatening you, just in a covert manner rather than an overt one.

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    32. it's a fine line. they probably would have gotten over it, as would i. the upshot is that i wouldn't have spoken to my parents for probably years if i had stayed. it wasn't an easy decision.

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    33. anyway, the point is that it seems like the only way to get ahead today is to make some sort of radical break with family and society, becoming some sort of howard roark-like figure, at the time in our history when communitiarian impulses are so badly needed. this is the triumph of the conservative project i guess. but, if you even remotely have an inkling that you might be able to pull this off, at least give it a shot before become a law-drone.

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    34. That blows about the debt, but I don't think I would be going around calling my education a "free ride" under those circumstances. I sympathize as I have been the target of much parental manipulation over the years, but on the other hand, my parents also told me "if you want to go to law school you're on your own," so I guess I can't really relate to taking on 100k in debt to do something I have no desire to do because my parents are laying a guilt trip on me. I think my response would be "I'll go as you insist if you pay for it," and barring that "oh well, I'm going to do what I want with my money, thanks."

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    35. they never pressured me to go to law school or take on the debt. law was my next best alternative. i actually worked in a firm for years before moving abroad and know the deal. they just pressured me to come back to the states.

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    36. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    37. i should add, "i actually worked in a firm for years before moving abroad AND LIKED IT"

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    38. I guess I just don't understand the mindset of someone abjectly hating everything about law school and still being willing to continue with it, at these levels of debt. I mean, I would have said that I "hated" law school, esp. first year, but I loved some aspects of my life then, including my work experiences and my journal experience. I hated being around all the law school tools and thought many of the classes were annoying and useless, but I enjoyed other classes and I was committed to practicing law. I guess I don't understand why someone would go to law school as a fallback or because they "can't think of anything else to do." That seems crazy to me. If you don't want to be a lawyer, don't go. If you think you want to be a lawyer but then you hate everything about the law once you start studying it, drop out. Come on!

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    39. "Watch the damn speech and don't just repeat your sides talking points."

      But if I were to watch the damn speech that would completely undercut your talking point about it, wouldn't it? The phrase "If you've got a business, you didn't build that." barely even makes grammatical sense on its own.

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    40. "If you think you want to be a lawyer but then you hate everything about the law once you start studying it, drop out." I know. this is exactly what I am wrestling with. I don't have everything about the law. I just hate everything about law school and the job market. I seriously just want a main street law firm where I make 40K a year dealing with clients. that's why i went to school. but that seems out of reach. so maybe when i get my next loan disbursement i will just skip out and head back abroad. anyway, no point in dwelling more on my story. the point is that everyone owes it to themselves to TRY SOMETHING ELSE before signing up for law school.

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    41. The phrase "If you've got a business, you didn't build that." barely even makes grammatical sense on its own.

      I'll agree with you on that one, even though in essence the President is 100% correct in that a person doesn't create anything entirely on their own, they rely on society for infrastructure and other things that are need to be worked on.

      I think what happened was that the President was thinking about what he was saying and thought that he said something more than what he did.

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    42. 8:56 - If you watch the whole speech, it is every bit as bad or worse for Obama than the single line, "if you've got a business, you didn't build that." It's the music, not just the words. "Some people think they're so smart...some people think they work so hard." Also, if "that" was referring to "roads and bridges" in the preceding sentence (rather than your "business"), he would have said "those," not "that." I know this quote is not the point of this thread, but what the President said was the most offensive thing I've heard him say since "bitter clingers," and the left's defense of what he said (the whole passage) is pathetic and just digs the hole deeper.

      Also, there are a lot of roads and bridges in Cuba, and not a heck of a lot of business. Why is that? The culture of entrepreneurship in America that the President is constantly attacking.

      Also, who built the bridges and roads? Oh yeah, the bare majority who pay income taxes...especially the small business people he's denigrating. Utterly unpresidential.

      BTW, I'm not any of the previous posters.

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    43. I've heard there isn't even a word in French for "entrepreneur."

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    44. I attended law school at Nebraska the same time as your letter writer. Just wanted to chime in and say that our CSO was a total joke. It was (and probably still is) run by a woman who never practiced law a day in her life.

      I always thought that position should be held by some older person, in their late 50's or early 60's that has "juice." His/her job would be to do nothing but schmooze and leverage their network and social connections on behalf of students. Instead, Nebraska's CSO Director's only legal experience was as an clerk for state courts. Pray tell, how is a person who could never secure permanent, full time legal employment for herself going to help 135 others do so each year?????


      Congrats to my fellow Nebraska Law grad on her success. I am glad that she found a way to overcome law school. Best of luck in the future!

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    45. Law prof: what's your point, that there are other nations in the world that also have prosperous economies to one degree or another? No one disputes that. I'd say they are successful to the extent they share the positive aspects of our culture that the President is riding down in his speech.

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    46. No, 8:56, you just at like every other duche who just doesn't like this president for whatever reason - the simple fact is, if you've built yor own business, large or small, you did not do it ON YOUR OWN. You either got a loan, or saved money from either working for someone else who paid you, or had parents give you money or inherit it. That's not even to say you needed to purchase parts of your inventory, eg the thread to see t-shirts like LP's story, or whatever. SOMEONE ALONG THE WAY HELPED YOU. I can't stand this semantic bullshit just because the president said something - you can't fucking lawyer this one. Asshole.

      But to LP's point, again, I think these two stories are to illustrate the sad state of law school and who they produce - highly intelligent and/or hard working innovative people - that either shouldn't go to law school or can't get law jobs because there are twice as many law grads per year as jobs. It's just sad. And then, when you read te stories from the last few days, maddening.

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    47. the point is that small business owners should stop acting like a bunch of fucking big-dick demigods and acknowledge that their success is at least as much a product of societal conditions as much as sheer force of their wills. the worst bosses i've ever had BY FAR were small business owners because of this ridiculous entitled attitude they had when so much of their success was getting the right grant to be in the right place at the right time. instead of being all "I've got mine" they should advocate for policies that will help more people get where they are.

      i feel like i just hit a wasp nest with a stick but whatever, needs to be said.

      ReplyDelete
    48. "I have spent my early life cultivating "lawyering skills," which aren't very marketable outside of law school."

      And yet you're willing to spend three years of your life and maybe tens of thousands of dollars a year refining those skills that have no apparent value outside of law school?

      "There are a lot of blogs like yours, and I think they have good intentions on the whole. Still, if you want to help high-achieving students like me to make wiser career decisions, you should give us other options. What are the sensible choices for people like me? There are many people like me."

      Law school is still a sensible choice, given that a number of conditions exist together. You just have to realize that whatever you pay above your opportunity cost for three years accrues interest at 7.5% if you borrow from the federal government to finance your education, and that every law school beneath Harvard, Yale and Stanford has had problems placing at least 20% of its class since May of 2008. Learning something worthless outside of the context of legal work isn't the problem of the dispossessed minority-teetering-on-majority these last few years; it's learning something worthless outside of the context of legal work while owing an amount of money that makes sense only if you got legal work, and pretty damn good legal work at that.

      Think hard before agreeing to borrow to enrich somebody else with the promise that what they teach you will be worth it.

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    49. NOTICE: I'm neither trenchantly Republican or Democrat. So this is more of comment on the political theater that is our electoral process than anything else.

      Obama's preceding sentence referenced roads and bridges. So his following sentence could be - nay, should be - read as: "if you've got a business, you didn't build [those roads and bridges]."

      It was sloppy language, no doubt. But it has clearly been taken out of context by Fox News, Limbaugh, and the like. And even the small business man (Gilchrist?)who appeared in the Republican campaign ad that resulted from the speech as the archetypal small business owner agreed with the thrust of Obama's argument in an interview with Fox's Neil Cavuto yesterday. I was watching it live, and it was so funny seeing Neil try to contain his displeasure at what the guy was saying. Classic!

      But the Romney campaign must be thanking their lucky stars for Obama's gaffe because it gave them some talking points to get out in front of rather playing defense on the tax returns and Bain issues.

      Political theater at its finest!

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    50. Dear Americans,

      I hope you realise just how silly this debate over what exactly Obama meant when he said "you didn't build that" looks.

      Yours,

      The rest of the free world.

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    51. I hope the comments on this particular post are not an indication of an incoming asshat parade. Are all the reasonable, intelligent posters away on vacation today?

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    52. To 9:18 and those defending the President's speech. No man is an island. Infrastructure is really important for the economy. Two completely unobjectionable sentiments that everyone, down to the most radical libertarian, agrees with. Yet the President expresses those sentiments in the worst possible way, by attacking and putting down people who have been successful in building a business. Deeply unimpressive.

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    53. I have to agree with the second posted letter. I, too, struggled for so long to be an attorney - worked for internship after unpaid internship and then worked for $12,000 a year after being told I was priviledged to get a paying legal job - didn't matter the pay rate. (Personally, I think that is a fiction created by greedy law partners who want to keep salaries down.)

      It took a long time before I could accept that I wasn't going to be an attorney - a transition of about 9 months. I didn't want to give that up because who does after spending years of your life and $100K?

      One of the most freeing things was realizing I didn't have to be an attorney to be happy and that I would be much happier not being one. I no longer have to scrape in poverty and work every waking hour of my lief. I have found much more satisfying things in life and would have been much more unhappy had I think I stayed the legal course.

      Kudos to LawProf for publishing the letter. Thanks for letting others know that they don't have to stay in poverty to be happy - there are other courses in life that will allow them to be much happier. And for those that haven't yet started on the legal path - no, you don't have to spend that $100K to be happy either. There are much better bargains and happier career paths out there. Good luck!

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    54. Ok, you right wingers are allowed to scream about one out of context line from this Obama speech, but then you aren't allowed to scream every time a Dem ad quotes Romney's "I like to fire people" line out of context. Them's the rules.

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    55. To the first letter writer, whose "lawyering skills" apparently consist of a liberal arts BA and a high LSAT score: WTF are you thinking? You know law school is a bad investment, so don't go. Do something else. Go to grad school. Get a job. Go teach English abroad. Join Americorps. Do anything else. You're so far from being "locked in" to the law school path that it's almost funny. Telling everyone you're going to be a lawyer and taking the LSAT does not equate to "learning lawyering skills." You haven't learned ANY lawyering skills. Save yourself while there's still time.

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    56. Does the letter writer expect to make $100K in profit or $100K in revenue? It sounds like she means revenue which isn't very helpful to evaluating how successful her business has been.

      $25K per year for living expenses sounds like you're helping to dig your own grave.

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    57. I think all of us agree that successful businesses relied on roads, bridges, the internet, etc. So what is Obama's point? That successful people should have more and more of their money taken in taxes so we can fund more pointless/endless wars, more jails and prisons, more marijuana raids, more crony-capitalism "green energy" giveaways, and more taxpayer-guaranteed student loans?

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    58. "I seriously just want a main street law firm where I make 40K a year dealing with clients. that's why i went to school. but that seems out of reach. so maybe when i get my next loan disbursement i will just skip out and head back abroad."

      sounds like we're in a somewhat similar position.. except i opted out of teaching english abroad last minute and instead chose law school... a t2 state school that will leave me with probably 160k in debt.. just finished my first year and can't even find part-time work (though i'm working unpaid at a nonprofit firm, for the resume).. i am considering withdrawing from school after the loan is disbursed and just living off of that.. otherwise i'd have to move halfway across the country back to my parents' basement (something i did after college - and law school was supposed to be part of a greater plan to never allow that again)..
      i have 1k in the account.. the clock is ticking :/

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    59. 9:46,
      If that's your plan why not enroll in a community college that's cheaper and max out loans there or else sign up for a Univ of Phoenix online grad program that's cheaper?

      ReplyDelete
    60. Is it possible to keep on taking out loans for 10+ years by taking University of Phoenix degree programs?

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    61. Law Prof - "I've heard there isn't even a word in French for 'entrepreneur.'"

      This may blow people's minds but France is the one that came up with the word and the English language borrowed it.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entrepreneur

      "The term was originally a loanword from French and was first defined by the Irish-French economist Richard Cantillon. Entrepreneur in English is a term applied to a person who is willing to help launch a new venture or enterprise and accept full responsibility for the outcome. Jean-Baptiste Say, a French economist, is believed to have coined the word "entrepreneur" in the 19th century - he defined an entrepreneur as "one who undertakes an enterprise, especially a contractor, acting as intermediatory between capital and labour".

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    62. "There are a lot of blogs like yours, and I think they have good intentions on the whole. Still, if you want to help high-achieving students like me to make wiser career decisions, you should give us other options. What are the sensible choices for people like me? There are many people like me."

      I don't think it is this jobs blog to provide anyone with "other options." That is something that individuals need to come to terms with on their own. But if you, of your own volition, somehow concluded that at as a 20-something, your only professional option is a six-figure lottery ticket, then you probably haven't spent a lot of your own time thinking about those "other options." Granted some of those other options may not have the "lay prestige" of law school, but as far as I know you can't eat prestige at the end of the day...

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    63. I graduated in Dec. 2010 with good top 10% + law review credentials from a midwestern T2 (JD/MBA). I immediately got a sales job making cold calls and 24 months later ive changed jobs 3x with on target earnings this year of around 120k.

      It's been the best decision that I have ever made in my life, but Jesus was it hard to turn your back on that kind of investment. Had to be done though. There is no easy path.

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      Replies
      1. Sign me up! What do you do? How did you get the job? How did you minimize the j.d. stain on your resume?

        Delete
    64. * I guess its more like 19 months, but you get the idea.

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    65. 10:02, way to miss the joke there! Wow.

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    66. I don't think LW1 is looking for other options so much as he's looking for somebody to tell him that it's o.k., and that he's one of the handful of people for whom law is a good decision.

      Hopefully he looks down and sees the comments from the top six student.

      "I have spent my early life cultivating 'lawyering skills,' which aren't very marketable outside of law school."

      Well, here's some advice: You don't have any lawyering skills. If you did, you'd know what a bad idea law school is. The cruel joke is that law school gives you the lawyering skills to figure out how much law and law school suck. What you have is an above average transcript and a standard (I'm guessing it isn't too exceptional) undergraduate resume.

      Type "What can I do with a liberal arts degree" into Google. Go from there.

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    67. Law Prof - what did you end up telling the first letter writer with the high GPA?

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    68. "I've heard there isn't even a word in French for 'entrepreneur.'"

      This quote is attributed to George Bush Jr. Perhaps someone from Yale and Harvard can explain how this idiot was awarded degrees from their schools. At least the Law School at the University of Texas told Georgie to pound sand when he applied to them after his Yalie
      days. At least someone cannot be bought. Yet.

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    69. Bush went to HBS, not HLS.

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    70. @7:54 Please use standard capitalization. It would make your comments a lot easier to read.

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    71. Little Georgie went to the Harvard Business School to get an MBA after the University of Texas Law School turned him down. Thought that was clear from my post.

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    72. 25K per year and mention of "T6" almost surely means NYU full-ride.

      NYU is expensive for COL but I still don't get how you racked up 100k debt even if you had 25k/year living expenses + bar costs. If you assume 10k for bar costs that gets you to about 100k with interest accruing. But that ignores 3 years of income opportunities.

      Did you make zero income during your two summers and/or during your three years?

      E.g.

      http://www.law.nyu.edu/publicinterestlawcenter/summerfunding/index.htm

      Worst case scenario, didn't you pull in an extra 11k during your summers?

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    73. For the first letter, if he really wants to go to law school, go to law school. I did. BUT DON'T GO TO T-14. (Sure, he can apply, and brag about getting in, and use it as leverage, whatever.) Instead, he should go to a T-25 for $0. He'll likely be ranked higher in his class (leading to better chances of a job), and he'll have minimal debt (leading him to be much more flexible in terms of jobs and locations and future careers). He's still young -- there are worse ways to spend 3 years than getting more education for free.

      His stats are similar to mine. I got into T-14 at full cost, and at 15-30 for between 50%-100% off tuition. I ended up taking an 85% off deal at a top 20. I graduated in the top 10% of the class and found a job (although I will freely admit that finding a job took a lot longer than expected and was difficult). My debt load was tiny compared to many of my friends and could be paid off within a year. And I love the law. For me, it was a good investment. But -- this is critically important -- it would NOT have been a good investment if I had gone to a T14 school at full price. Not in this economy.

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    74. Yes, was it 89k or 100k?! We are all sitting here wondering. Who gives a crap about the state of the legal profession?

      While I understand that any topic is up for debate on a comment board, 11:08, you really need to do something else with your time. Do it for yourself. And the rest of us. Maybe make a complaint to the NJ bar about Camden's shenanigans? Know this can come across as being an ass, but spending this much time trying to figure out whether the other person did or did not waste some 5-10% of his loans is not really worth the trouble. IMHO, well, maybe not all that humbly.

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    75. If you can't find a real job after law school, become an ethicist.

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    76. I understand the perspective of the first letter writer. How many lawyers started out with high school debate, then moved onto majoring in philosophy or poly sci, because that's how people who want to be lawyers prepared themselves for decades? The tragedy is that few high schoolers talk to a range of attorneys to get any idea of what practicing law is really about and the pyramidal structure of BigLaw and similar venues that eventually excludes all but a small fraction.

      While I'm happy the second writer seems to have found an economic niche that helps alleviate her crushing debt load, I find myself bemoaning the fact that she essentially makes and markets useless consumer trinket crap that society really doesn't need and is of little real value.

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    77. @ 11:50

      Would you prefer she hang out a shingle and provide service that society doesn't really need and is of little real value?

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    78. @Carolyn "He'll likely be ranked higher in his class"

      Is there any information on how true this actually is? In other words, if you get accepted at a T14 but go to a 25-50 school instead to save money, can you realistically expect to do substantially better at the 25-50 school? This would appear to be an important thing to know, since students at non-elite schools need to compensate with GPA for what their schools lack in brand power.

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    79. Law Prof:
      I am sorry for what all Coloradons must be feeling today.

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    80. 1. Letter 1 was written by an insecure prick. He may go on to a successful career at Biglaw, where he can overbill for litigation work, write memos to file, or modify the best arbitration clause that an International Mezzanine Financing has ever seen. He'll work until forced to retire at 65, and be confident that he earned a little more money than rivals at cross-town Biglaw because they do slightly better work and are slightly smarter. He'll have war stories of the time that he once caught misnumbering in the production at 11pm and had to spend the entire night to straighten it out. He never will be a good lawyer, and his children will be screwed up.

      2. Person No. 2 is ambitious and a go getter. He actually might be a good trial lawyer if he could break into law. Or he'll employ Person No. 1 as his lawyer if he stays in business.

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    81. i don't know if my experience is representative, 12:05, but here goes.

      at my t-25/30, i would say the top 2/3 of the class are all very, very sharp. they bring it every day, and it has been tough for me to climb to (near) the top of that pile. but the bottom 1/3 are not that impressive, really, and never worried me.

      i'm guessing (and this has been confirmed -- insofar as anecdotes are confirmation -- by two friends at different schools in the top 10) that there is no such "soft" bottom third at the top schools. so it makes the scramble that much harder. in both cases, you need pluck, luck, and brains. there are just fewer people to beat out at a lower ranked school, or at least fewer who pose a real challenge.

      it doesn't make top 25 schooling easy or a guarantee, not in the least. but going there for free may be a better deal all around, so i agree generally with 11:44 (disclosure- i go to a top 30 school for nearly free).

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    82. The fact that a person doesn't know what else to do doesn't mean that doing something potentially reckless and is difficult to recover from (due to huge loans, stigma of JD for non-legal work, etc) is a good idea. Therefore this whole question of "what else would I do?" is kind of silly.

      For a lot of people, doing pretty much ANYTHING ELSE, even working retail initially (and possibly even getting promoted and making manager) is better than going to a TTTT law school and getting paid no better but with a mortgage-sized student debt to boot.

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    83. @12:13 Yeah, those grapes really are sour. Good thing you didn't eat 'em.

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    84. thanks 12:10. Ugly, ugly day.

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    85. 12:16 You sound like a great human being.

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    86. 12:26- someone had a question, i tried my best to answer it given my experience. i was just being honest. i don't see what purpose sugarcoating serves on an anonymous forum.

      u mad? why? just because i posit a "soft third" in t30 law schools doesn't mean the people who make up that soft bottom third aren't smart. it means they aren't sharp in the way you have to be sharp to do well in law school. it's such a narrow skill set as to be essentially worthless. i did not intend to insult you or anybody else.

      12:16

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    87. BTW letter writer 2 reminds us of another reason why the "go to western Nebraska, young lawyer, and make your fortune" advice some law deans have been handing out is nonsense. There is very little chance of most recent law grads -- twenty something singles brought up in at least moderately affluent suburban and urban communities who have spent the last seven years in university towns -- and going to be accepted in or accepting of issolated rural communities. They will, like our letter writer's friends, be lonely, depressed and miserable, as well as poor.

      RPL

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    88. @12:16 Thanks for your response. I posted the original question.

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    89. @12:05: I wish I had hard data. I would give anything to have access to a couple of law school's internal databases and run the numbers myself.

      I spent some time browsing around Google and the closest, but not directly on point, study is a paper written several years ago that discusses LSAT performance vis-a-vis jobs -- see a summary at http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2005/08/practitioners_g.html.

      So most of my hunch is based on anecdotal evidence. At my school and at my friend's schools, as far as we were aware, the majority of full scholarship students also consistently graduated in the top 20% or so. And, at most schools, if you drop below the top 50% you lose the scholarship. I've only ever known 1 person that happened to -- and even that person turned it around, got straight A's their last year, graduated with honors, and got a state supreme court clerkship.

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    90. This was a CLE event I just attended. Half of it was dedicated to trying to get a job outside of law. It felt kind of weird paying for a CLE event for my "legal career" telling me the most effective ways to leave the profession. Hey I guess they get points for trying at least?

      http://www.minncle.org/webcasts/127291301resources/Networking_Success_webcast_0712.pdf

      And then there is the third CA city to file for bankruptcy - San Bernardino.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/19/san-bernardino-bankruptcy_n_1685144.html

      And to take the cake the UC/CSU system is looking at bankruptcy and one of the proposals they come up with is a 20% tuition increase surprisingly. Is it ironic if the universities file for bankruptcy but their students have non-dischargeable debt?

      http://www.mercurynews.com/education/ci_21095505/california-state-universitys-threatening-budget

      My advice for the student would be to take a guaranteed full scholarship to whatever school is in the most desirable location and have essentially a three year vacation. Don't worry about prestige of the school because those in the status quo will just find some new arbitrary way to pull the ladder up behind them even further in the future. Happy Friday everyone!

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    91. 12:16 - 12:26 Here. Mad? Ha! I’m 20 years out - long past the point where I had to worry about such nonsense as “the bottom 1/3.” Seriously- its law school, not the Hunger Games. For an attorney, being respected (and when possible liked) by colleagues, judges, opposing counsel etc... is more important than anything they teach at your top 30. Viewing everyone around you as competition won't gain you much respect. Finally, when you become an attorney, never use the word "posit."

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    92. @RPL, 12:40 I can second that. I started out in a rural northern CA prosecutor's office. On the one hand, the manager of the grocery store used to open up a checkout lane so I didn't "have to wait." His store security were regulars in the frequent petty theft cases. Everyone knows who you are and what your business is.

      On the other hand, there were vanishingly few single professionals. Plenty of young divorcess with two or three children and a deadbeat ex. Dates felt like job interviews. And the lack of education coupled with provincial myopia. It was considered a huge accomplishment when a high schooler decided to go to the JC in the next county. What happened in San Francisco, let alone Haiti or the Egypt/Tunisia/Syria situation of today, provoked little concern or interest. I lasted two and a half long, dreery years.

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    93. I’m 20 years out - long past the point where I had to worry about such nonsense as “the bottom 1/3.”

      And I'm a Court of Appeals judge.

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    94. @11:48 AM.

      Perhaps you should take your own advice? Seems wasteful of your time to tell me how to spend mine.

      I asked because I'm similarly situated to the t6 student but a couple years earlier in the process (rising 2L on full scholarship at t6). I want to know if there are expenses I am not considering. Though I admit that explaining myself IS a waste of my time.

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    95. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxC9wgm27j0

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    96. I imagine that a lot of us recognize our younger selves in letterwriter #1 --possessors of straight As, rocking board scores, and a briefcase full of old essays and term papers with "Very Insightful and Well-Researched!" written across the top by the Professor. Surely, the system needs that kind of brainpower and intellectual self-discipline! Well, no it doesn't.

      Actually, it used to. Starting in the early '70s, the working class was progressively immiserated but, until pretty recently, if you got a fancy higher education, there was likely a white collar somewhere with your name on it. Thus, the "yuppie"--a media or marketing category I haven't heard in a while, now that so many professionals are indebted or desparate.

      There is really no answer to #1's plaintive request: "you should give us other options. What are the sensible choices for people like me? There are many people like me." Maybe: try to enjoy life, do not view your education as a credential, or your IQ as an entitlement, try to steer clear of scammers, and join others in trying to preserve public benefits-- you may need to partake.

      dybbuk

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    97. I want to meet the writer of Letter #2!

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    98. @ carolyn,

      from what i know as a 0L, state clerkships are essentially worthless. only federal clerkships are worth something.

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    99. They write opinions legitimizing the scam...what's your take, LawProf?

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    100. The tragedy is that few high schoolers talk to a range of attorneys to get any idea of what practicing law is really about and the pyramidal structure of BigLaw and similar venues that eventually excludes all but a small fraction.

      This is from a commenter above. It is probably the most important factor in deciding whether or not to attend law school. Even for the 55%, the jobs eventually disappear for most because of the pryamidal structure. There are some but that many decently paying jobs for experienced lawyers outside that structure. The chance of most people getting that type of job, even from a T6 or T14 law school is not great. You are buying a lottery ticket by attending the T14. If you lose the lottery, as most people do, you are unemployed or underemployed. The law schools do not tell you that.

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    101. @12:32, state supreme court clerkships -- particularly in some states -- are fine. State lower court clerkships are worthless.

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    102. The idea of moving to a small town to open your own practice is crazy. The only lawyers who really stand a chance are those who can practice law with a parent who has an existing practice.

      Someone who is interested in a small town practice shoul look at working in a district or county attorneys office. The pay is not as good as one gets in the big city, and certainly not enough to pay the student loan bills.

      However the practical experience on can get is excellent. A small town prosecutor will find himself doing felony trials, while his big city friends are dealing traffic tickets or sharpening pencils.

      As for a social life, there is none. But big law associates don't exactly have a social life, either.

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    103. Trapper John, MDJuly 23, 2012 at 5:03 AM

      An unemployed lawyer (or law student) with $250,000 in debt ranks higher in the dating pool than a souvenir stand 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.

      The parable of the uneducated yet successful souvenir stand worker 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 souvenir stand worker. That is the way the class system works.

      A law student who is literally on fire is better off than a souvenir stand worker 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 souvenir stand worker who lives in a castle overlooking the ocean.

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

      Try going to a black tie fundraiser in a large city and telling people you're a $150k farmer or souvenir stand worker. 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 souvenir stand worker. Let me know how that works for you, son.

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

      Most people aspire status and professional prestige and a higher class lifestyle and peer group.

      People opt for law school, b/c you would be just a teacher instead of a prestigious lawyer.

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

      I would like to know how law school changed your dating life, starting right from undergrad. How did people react when you dropped the "L" bomb on them? All those peons who started working for a measly $40k while you took LSATs. For the 5 years of law school, tons of vacation and partying, the year for the bar exam, and even that year of job hunting, you told every person you ever met that you're going to be a big shot lawyer. You got immediate respect. Deference. You were technically an unemployed loser, yet enjoying the benefits of being a successful surgeon or pro athlete. What did this do to your confidence level? Did your mouth just salivate just waiting for the woman to ask what you did for a living? L BOMB. It works best when you're out of context, and it catches her off guard like a left-hook. Like at a rave or NASCAR event.

      How did it feel to be in the pantheon of the upper crust elite? Do you still list "attorney" or "lawyer" in your online dating profile? Have you ever changed it to "plumber" and see the reactions?

      Even if you never work a day in your life as a lawyer, no one can ever take back the 5-7 years of more advantageous dating and sex that you leveraged from your mythical lawyer status!

      For the socially and IQ challenged that the scamblog movement attracts, this does not mean you had women lining up to service you because of the JD. It just means it prevented you from being passed over because of a low prestige career that is not up to her standards, like a debt-free $125k blue collar plumber or cop.

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    104. OUR GRADUATES ARE IN HIGH DEMAND. MORE
      THAN 95 PERCENT OF SANTA CLARA LAW GRADUATES ARE EMPLOYED WITHIN 9 MONTHS.

      https://www.scu.edu/admission/upload/lawviewbook.pdf

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    105. Please close your blog, don't you know our economy is fueled by student loans? We will have another 2008 crisis if this gets out. Sure, it will be another recession, but hopefully we will have recovered enough so we don't go into a depression. So please be quiet, let us sing and dance like the merry grasshopper for just a while longer.

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    106. she is unsure whether she will even pursue an academic career, given how exploitative and unfair higher education in America has become. laverne plumbing

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