Monday, November 26, 2012

A bit of evidence about the state of entry level large firm hiring

Caveat: This kind of post has very little relevance to people who attend or are thinking about attending the 80% to 85% of ABA law schools who don't ever send much more than 10% of their class to large firms, even in the best of times.  Legal academia as a whole pays far too much attention to large firm hiring statistics.

On the other hand, around 80% to 90% of law students are now spending sums of money to get law degrees that would make economic sense only if they were to get large firm jobs.  (Put the math in these two short paragraphs together and you have the law school mess in a nutshell).

Anyway, here are the outcomes of Fordham's OCI interview process for the last five years, not including 2012, for which statistics are not yet available (Fordham's OCI features large law firm employers almost exclusively):

Percentage of 2L full-time and 3L part-time students who accepted a job offer received via the OCI process:  (Keep in mind that students interview through OCI two years before graduating. So fall 2007 OCI was for the class of 2009, and so forth).

2007:  54%  (Class of 2009)

2008:  39%  (Class of 2010)

2009:  18%  (Class of 2011)

2010:  24%  (Class of 2012

2011:  27%  (Class of 2013)


Percentage of graduating class that got jobs with NLJ 250 firms:

2009:  29.4%

2010:  25%

2011:  19.5%

Percentage of class that reported getting jobs with firms of 100+ lawyers (a somewhat more inclusive category for big law than NLJ 250 firms):

2009:  Unknown

2010:  33%

2011:  25%

A couple of notes:  A whole lot of people in the class of 2009 got no-offered, which helps explain the big gap between the 2007 OCI results and the class of 2009 hiring numbers.  Going in the other direction, a non-trivial number of people in the class of 2011 -- about 7% of the class -- seem to have managed to scramble into a big law job despite striking out at OCI. So the astonishing collapse in OCI results between the classes of 2009 and 2011 is much more extreme than the end result for the two classes -- the class of 2009 did far worse in the hiring market than their OCI results suggested they would, while the class of 2011 did somewhat better.

The 2010 and 2011 OCI numbers suggest that somewhere around 30% to 35% of the Fordham classes of 2012 and 2013 will end up with market-paying jobs, although we need to be cautious about this for a couple of reasons.  First, this assumes that these classes will be as successful as the class of 2011 in scrambling for big law work post-OCI, while at the same time not getting no-offered in significant numbers (as the classes of 2009 and to a lesser extent 2010 were).  It also assumes that all or almost all jobs with firms of 100+ lawyers are market-paying.  As more firms adopt the Orrick model of hiring non-partner track entry-level staff attorneys at $60K per year this assumption will become increasingly inaccurate.

Of course Fordham is just one school, situated in a unique market (New York has a vastly disproportionate number of the big law jobs in the U.S.).  But these numbers do provide a glimpse, however partial, of what may be going on in big law hiring for the classes of 2012 and 2013, at the small minority of law schools where this is a significant question.

The document from which these numbers are drawn ends with the following observations:

One area [we] were unable to obtain data on is the effect of GPA on OCI outcomes. When asked if they could provide the number of students with below median GPAs who accepted Fall OCI offers, the CPC reported that they do not track such data. The widespread perception among students is that the process is largely grade driven. The CPC emphasized that this perception was incorrect, but was unable to release any data showing why that was so. The CPC went on to express how important it is for students, across all GPA ranges, to participate in their preference counseling programs.

As the numbers clearly show, while hiring has recovered since the Fall 2009 OCI season, it is still 50% below the pre-crash levels of 2007. When the Fall 2012 results are released next year, along with the post-graduation outcomes for the Class of 2012, it will become clearer whether the market is still recovering slowly, or if it has stabilized at something of a dismal new normal.


102 comments:

  1. FIRST FIRST, FIRST FIRST FIRST!!!!

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  2. This is pretty damning for Fordham. The same likely could be said for U.S.C., George Washington, Washington University, Tulane, and Emory: very good (but not great), expensive private schools in cities.

    The students attending these schools are not TTT mouthbreathing idiots. Most are ambitious and intelligent and could succeed doing challenging, complex work. They're all in the top 5 percent of competitive undergraduate programs. They all were in the top 10 percent of LSAT takers. These are people with the smarts, work ethic, and potential to be solid corporate managers or small businessmen.

    Instead, they'll end up b-list lawyers working harder for less money than their non-lawschool counterparts.

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  3. could this be the first confirmed case of law school downsizing?

    http://www.boston.com/news/education/2012/11/25/law-school-cutting-jobs-preparing-for-changes/QlBibvMJqGla0P9FAuSEPI/story.html

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    1. Like Campos' dream-deflating quote. Kids, you might as well say your career ambition is to be an NBA power forward.

      Priceless. Melt, special snowflakes, melt.

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    2. The knee-slapper in all this -- the following quote from the Dean of the U VT Law School:

      ***"[Law firms will} be looking to meet their clients’ demands that they reduce costs by having a growing number of tasks handled by people who may have less than three years of traditional legal training, but who are specialists in fields ranging from environmental to sports law, Mihaly said. ***

      That damn myth of "sports law" -- it just won't die!!!

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    3. And how exactly does one become a specialist in sports law without even completing law school? Does the Indiana Institute of Technology offer an associate's degree in sports law?

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  4. If I recall correctly many more were deferred in '09 than no offered so that would explain some of the discrepancy between OCI numbers and employed at graduation numbers.

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  5. If GPA doesn't play a role, what does? Connections? Which gets back to if you don't have the connections to get the job before you go to law school you shouldn't be going.

    What do you guys think about starting a White House petition to force the government to force law schools to provide real hard and transparent employment data to incoming students as a precondition of student loans?

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    1. Connections to a point but also interviewing skills and the interviewer liking you (this is partly random), expressing an interest in a practice area which the firm is looking to grow (partly random as well).

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    2. So brains and hard work only takes you so far? In the end law school is a crap shoot?

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    3. In the end, life is a crap shoot.

      The solution is to stop over-matriculation in law school.

      Lawyering stopped resembling the practice of medicine or dentistry a long time ago.

      The legal profession now resembles the acting profession. Work is restricted by a guild. There are limitless lemmings who dream of entering the profession and there are relatively few barriers to new entry-level entrants. About 500 people make serious money in the profession and live glamorous lifestyles. Another 5,000 per year can earn a living in the profession. And about 50,000 per year enter poverty trying to make it in what they view as a prestigious and glamorous profession.

      I have no problem with dreamers and strivers, who do it on their own dime. I have a real objection to the government backing this crazy structure with taxpayer money, ensuring that law schools get paid in full, and up front, regardless of the consequence to the student and the taxpayer.

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    4. Of course GPA matters at Fordham. Firms have grade cutoffs specific to each school. For Fordham Career Services to not admit the importance of grades is simply a lie.

      If they are not tracking the GPA data for hiring, they are not only liars, they are grossly incompetent. Schools must provide the GPA range of firms so that people know which firms to bid wisely on.

      Fordham probably doesn't want to admit the role of GPA because more people would drop out as soon as they realize their GPAs are below hiring cutoffs.

      Not impressed at all with the role of Fordhams career counselors in advising and assisting their students.

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    5. Also, some people with lower gPAs might succeed outside of OCI if they have work experience. IP work seems to appreciate experience and undergrad credentials. Not sure about any other areas.

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    6. As for brains and hard work only taking you so far: see the mandatory curve. From TLS I can tell you that all 0Ls and many 1Ls before exams, honestly believe they will do well if they just work hard enough. They also are used to being one of the smartest kids in the class, so they don't understand that everyone else is as smart or smarter than they are.

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    7. GPA does matter, but I can tell you that it isn't that important. My GPA is among the top few in the class, yet I got no interviews. (Age-based discrimination appears to be the reason.) Meanwhile, people down in the bottom half of the class got not only interviews but offers.

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    8. So that shows that a high GPA won't save you if other factors are against you. Sorry about the discrimination, but I have no doubt it exists.

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    9. I honestly doubt that many below median people from Fordham are getting biglaw offers. Maybe if they have work experience. Not even connections can save you if you are well below median.

      Watch to see if those kids get permanent offers.

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    10. "My GPA is among the top few in the class, yet I got no interviews. (Age-based discrimination appears to be the reason.) "


      Curious. How old are you, and how do interview screeners know? (e.g., date of UG completion?)

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    11. I (9:30) am not at Fordham; I'm at a much more highly regarded law school.

      Professors and lawyers alike have told me not to waste more time applying to law firms, as my age inexorably damns me.

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    12. It would have been nice if they had told you that when you applied.

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    13. I'm in my early forties, and, yes, they know it from the dates on the undergraduate transcript that they almost invariably demand. (My résumé conceals my age as well as possible, which means that it reads awkwardly.)

      The one firm that didn't ask for my undergraduate transcript called me for an initial interview. I knew that something was wrong. Sure enough, it turned out that they hadn't been aware of my age. When discussion of my professional experience indicated that I had been working for a long time, one could almost hear the penny drop. One of the interviewers interrupted to ask "Wait a minute: how long has it been since you finished university?" They gasped in unison at my answer.

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    14. The dean of the law school also told me recently that it is "not surprising" that age-based discrimination is keeping me from finding work. He expressed confidence that I'll eventually find "something". I hope that by "something" he meant relevant paying work that will make use of my legal studies.

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    15. Reading your two posts together, I'd say skip the OCI stress; OCI biglaw is production line stuff and only perfectly square widgets for perfectly square holes are allowed. (I.e., anything requiring thought or consideration is a nogo).

      What did you do in your prior professional life? I'm sure you've thought of this, but can you start targeting mids that work for/with that industry and sell the life experience in your cover letters? (Of course, geographical restrictions may be an issue.)

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    16. Thanks for the suggestion. Indeed, I've quite given up on law firms; as you said, only certain types of people are wanted, and ability is a secondary consideration.

      I had tried dumbing my résumé down, but to no avail.

      Right now I'm just hoping to find a job in the government, or else a good clerkship (I already work at a court).

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    17. I don't understand the age discrim.

      You have already demonstrated that you can hold down a job; that makes you a much better risk than a K-JDer.

      You may only stay a few years, but so what? They only want associates to stay a few years.

      Since Biglaw pays on a set scale, the firms do not have to pay more for you (negating the argument that the older worker will demand more money).

      In a litigation practice, your age instantly gives you more credibility with a judge or arbitrator than a twentysomething.

      And you bring some maturity and perspective.

      I would think all that would be valued.

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    18. Indeed, one would expect age to be a plus rather than a minus.

      The explanations that I hear consistently include the word malleable. Older people—and "older" starts around 30—are considered not to be wet clay. It is also assumed that we don't have the energy to work ungodly hours—although in my case I've managed to excel in law school while also working at several jobs, editing the law review, serving a judge, and doing all kinds of other things, whereas few of the presumptively energetic young people even keep up with their studies. And reportedly many people would feel ill at ease supervising a significantly older associate.

      Also, age tends to imply a non-élite background. The sons and daughters of Croesus don't go to law school at middle age.

      As someone said above, the big law firms want perfectly square pegs for perfectly square holes.

      It's nothing new. Earlier this year someone put up an article on the subject of his efforts to fight age discrimination in the legal profession since the 1980s (http://www.agediscriminationatuconnlawschool.com/).

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    19. Maybe it's because old guy is extremely annoying. If he's even half as annoying in interviews as he is on here it's no wonder no one will hire him.

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    20. "Old guy" doesn't even get interviews. Whether I'm annoying or not, no law firm ever finds out, because they all reject me out of hand.

      And it's not just my experience: other older students have faced the same problem.

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    21. Some of the age issue for people who go to law school late is a function of how they look and present themselves. If you are male and bald and middle aged looking, it is going to be harder than if you are physically fit and handsome.

      The job market is so competitive right now, even for federal clerks, that it may be that being cum laude from Harvard, law review from Columbia or having a great record from Yale does not assure anyone a job.

      I think someone who is visibly and obviously older will have a harder time as a first year lawyer in finding jobs than the average young person.

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    22. Law firms don't want or need someone who doesn't fit into the mold. You will look strange if you are the old guy at the meeting but you are the junior associate in charge of getting the copies made and the Fed Ex's out on time.

      No younger attorney wants to have to supervise a person who is old enough to be their Mom (or Dad.) It just doesn't fit with the norm. They don't want to make you stay all night to do shit work and it looks odd to the client as well.

      Here is the thing: law firms have tons of smart hardworking people. The partners know how to do all the work themselves. They don't actually need to break out of the norm of hiring outside some compelling reason.

      Maybe if you were the Editor of the Harvard Law Review or clerked for a COA judge you might have a chance. Simply being smart and having good grads doesn't distinguish you enough from all the other grads out there.

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    23. should be good "grades"

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    24. I agree with the last post. You are dealing with an acute supply demand imbalance. You should have known that going to law school is a very risky proposition. If you have a factor that will have a very negative effect on your chances of success, like graduating from law school after age 40, you were never realistic about your opportunities in the legal profession. Yes, the beauty queen from a low ranked law school will do better than the middle aged honors graduate of U Va Law School.

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    25. Just to say it differently, if you had picked a career where the supply and demand was more balanced, there would not have been this big issue finding work. People do not care if a doctor, nurse, dentist, medical technician, optomestrist is 30, 40 or 72 for that matter, as long as that person can do the job they are supposed to be doing. It is the supply demand balance that so skews the legal profession. It gets worse with age. You have managers in their 30s, and they do not want to supervise people who are 10 or more years older than them. Some managers may be nice, decent and treat everyone with dignity and respect. Others just the opposite. The older lawyers they supervise will come flying out the door. You are lucky if you can find the former. In a profession with an acute supply demand balance you have a big risk of finding the latter.

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    26. I think you are making a mistake having your resume read awkwardly to mask your age. You cannot mask your age, so you may as well highlight your prior work experience and use it to your advantage. If you have any experience that is relevant to an area of law practice, say banking, you may want to use that as an entree to a specific practice area, and start networking in that practice area. This may lead to jobs. Truthfully, age is just one of many factors, and it is a very tough job market, so good luck.

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    27. My appearance (which I don't care to discuss here) can hardly be relevant when, as I have said, I do not get so much as an interview: no one ever finds out how I look.

      The acute supply–demand imbalance doesn't explain what is going on. Change a few words in one of the comments above, and you have a justification of race-based or gender-based discrimination: "You have managers who are white/male, and they do not want to supervise people who are Black/female. You should have known that going to law school is a very risky proposition" for someone of your type. More fool you for thinking that there might be a place for your kind. And indeed such comments were uttered matter-of-factly within living memory, and sometimes still are today.

      What all of this means is that the door was always closed to me: I couldn't afford law school when I was young, and now not even walking on water would get me into the legal profession.

      And I have a damn sight more than good grades to offer. But law firms aren't interested.

      I agree with the person who said that it's a mistake to try to mask my age on my résumé. The latest version has all dates restored. I'll never apply to another law firm again in my life, so screw any attempts to appease the bigots there.

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    28. I'm not justifying what happens in law firms. I'm validating your experience of not getting interviews because of your age.

      I understand that it is discriminatory and unfair. I realize that the same discrimination has been applied to others in the past and continues to be so.

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    29. Law is the most age discriminatory profession there is. Law firms at least large ones, have large numbers of young people and few old ones. There is an age pyramid by design - it is intentional. An experienced lawyer without a large book of business is not welcome in most larger law firms. Law firms practice up or out which means that only a few older people survive in the law firm, and they are all or almost all partners. Partners are age 33 or older. If you are age 43 right out of law school, or are age 43 and have no book of business, the law firm probably will not welcome you.

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    30. If you try to claim age discrimination, they will find a huge number of young applicants that they rejected with records as good or even better than yours. Each sizeable law firm is getting 800 applications for entry level jobs, when they may have 8 entry level jobs open. In fact, you would be hard pressed to say prove this is based on age.

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    31. And that's precisely why the case-by-case approach to discrimination is ineffective. Very seldom will an employer (especially one with legal training) be stupid enough to put in writing a damning statement such as "We are rejecting you because you are" of this or that race, gender, age, religion, or national origin. One could file a hundred lawsuits, each alleging illegal discrimination by one employer; but the evidentiary burden would typically be insuperable, and the costs (not merely financial) of those actions would be prohibitive. Moreover, even an action that (mirabile dictu) succeeded wouldn't significantly address the systemic problem of discrimination.

      The rotten legal "profession" is not far removed from a hereditary aristocracy.

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    32. You missed the boat by not borrowing to attend when you were young. Maybe you were on Mars. Making excuses will only hurt your case.

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    33. Everybody thinks they are a special snowflake and 5 lawyers for each job and 25 lawyers for each 6 figure job does not apply to them.

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    34. Yes age discrimination occurs even in corporate law depts. Its easy to spot older applicants by looking at resumes with years of work experience. When you meet with the applicants you notice the visible signs of old age too. Its a reality that older lawyers and legal support staff are less likely to be hired based on being an older age. However, I've witnessed older candidates with good looks, connections, or great personalities overcoming an interview panels age as a factor consideration.

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    35. Older lawyers are much less likely than those under 45 to be employed at good outcome jobs no matter at what age they went to law school. Just another consequence of the imbalance the ABA and feds have created in the legal profession.

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    36. The suggestion that I could have borrowed for law school when I was young is simply wrong. I already had a lot of debt for my undergraduate degree; indeed, I came close to dropping out a couple of times because I couldn't come up with the money. Borrowing more for law school was impossible for me back then.

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  6. No, because a crap game usually doesn't go to $250K :(

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  7. In NYC, it has become a bad cliché to run into Fordham law grads who are dumbfounded as to why their "educated" decision to attend such a school hasn't paid off. In the past 6 months, I have met 3 recent Fordham grads. The first one, went back to IT consulting. The second one is volunteering at some community justice project and the third one is a trust fund baby who is taking time to "find himself." The first grad owes about $180K, the second owes $230K and the third one has no educational debt thanks to his trust fund. Sadly, the only one of the 3 that has a slim chance of having a legal career is the one who is traveling around Asia banging hookers on his grandparents' dime. The other 2 have had their "game over" moment already and must pay for the privilege of playing the law school game. Fordham used to be a decent law school for kids from blue collar backgrounds. That is no longer the case.

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    1. As Gilbert Gottfried said.... "no one says money can't buy happiness, but it can buy the best eastern European whores New York City has to offer."

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    2. I agree. The trust-fund baby needs it the least, and quite likely is the least suitable to be a lawyer, but easily stands the best chance of a legal career.

      Law in general is for the satin-breeched scions of the great and the good. I've come—too late, alas!—to realize that I never had a chance: I couldn't afford it in my twenties, and now I'm considered too old.

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    3. Yes, a friend I went to law school with spent a year before law school working in a brokerage house then two or three years doing security litigation, real estate and estate planning in a medium sized firm. Then she received her inheritance and retired. Her siblings all blew through their millions but she had the background to manage her money. So law school is a good investment if you are the client.

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    4. The democratization of the legal profession was a horrible failure. The LS model began as a method of controlling access, morphed into a model for expanding access to all, and then died when the faculty tried to monetize legal education without concern for the costs born by students.

      Law professors killed the golden goose in the name of inclusiveness, access, openness, and versatility. Instead, they got exclusiveness, indebtedness, limitation, and scorn.

      Prestige will remain and grow. Law grads with nice clothes and homes will be like music students -- a sign of a good family and wealth. But law degrees, like music degrees, will not generate wealth.

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    5. Suffolk is another prime example of this. It has equivalent debt, a much larger class size, and much worse job prospects. Yet Boomers who grew up in the area swear by it because they still remember the days when it was a cheap night school for working-class Boston area kids.

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    6. I felt out of place at my Ivy League undergraduate institution, where all but a few of us came from big money. My law school is even more aristocratic.

      We have a dumb bunny who is going to skip the first third of the semester in order to sail a yacht across the ocean. This person was hired by one of the white-shoe law firms. Presumably they think that he'll bring in business, thanks to all those contacts at the yacht club. I really can't imagine why else they'd want him.

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    7. You eat what you kill.

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    8. @10:33 AM
      "she had the background to manage her money. So law school is a good investment if you are the client."

      or either use LegalZoom or hire someone

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  8. People who run crap games, and most other kinds of non-government-sponsored gambling, are more ethical than law school (or, for that matter, most academic) administrators.

    Said administrators are on about the same ethical level as student loan providers.

    Furthermore, the consequences of not paying your debts from crap games, or any other kind of gambling, aren't as dire as those of not paying your student loan provider. You can recover from broken knees, but you probably won't recover from a $250,000 debt at $15 an hour.

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    1. Not to mention I would rather owe money to a loan shark than the government.

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    2. So you are better off borrowing $250k and trying to make it last for three years in Vegas then going to law school?

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    3. Actually, wouldn't going to Las Vegas be a better bet for most law students? Betting your law school tuition on red or black at the roulette wheel will give you an almost 50-50 chance of doubling your money. And if you lost you wouldn't be worse off than an unemployed lawyer with heavy debt.

      --Porsenna

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    4. Vegas has better odds than law school. Also, if you crap out on your gambling loan, unless the loan holder is a gangster, the debt is dischargeable. Law debt, not so much.

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    5. Dona,

      I don't believe they aren't more or less ethical, perhaps more practical. They probably run a fair game in the interest of shearing the sheep many times vs. skinning them alive once. Its in their interest to have repeat customers.

      Law schools are so insulated from consequence that they run neither a fair game nor merely shear their sheep.

      Without consequences, nothing stops the schools from inflicting the worst possible harm on their customers.

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  9. I went to a local non-ABA school, whose graduates tend to stay local, also. My total tuition was probably around $70K. I am not employed, more by choice than anything else. Yes, I know I'm fortunate that family finances do not require me to work.

    A number of the top grads of my and recent years work for various local governments and courts, with an increasing number at the larger local firms. A number of others have joined spouses' or parents' firms, usually after having worked there a number of years before and during school. Many of the rest are doing the best they can.

    One friend was making around $40K (no benefits) and getting burned out very quickly. He got onto another job making about $55K with benefits. Salaried with no partnership route, but he's not complaining.

    Another friend is associate making about $60K for a solo who was pulling in about $125K, which is not bad in this area with an established life (house, etc). Once this friend was licensed and her fees raised, senior atty gave herself a $100K raise; my friend got $0. My friend cannot yet hang out a shingle--she does the bulk of the work but the senior atty has the connections and setup.

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    1. How nice that people can join spouses' or parents' firms. Too bad that I have no spouse nor yet any relative who is a lawyer.

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    2. well someone has to be the first in the family. Maybe you can get a practice set up for your children to take over. It would make a nice gift to them.

      and then people would hate your kids for having connections.

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    3. I don't have children and don't intend to have any. Bringing children into this fucked-up world would be unethical.

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    4. Do what I did. Adopt and spend every waking moment working on math problems with them.

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    5. Are you trying to say that adoptees are inherently math deficient?

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    6. No, I'm saying I'm making darn sure they don't end up in liberal arts/law school.

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    7. Oh, I'm strong in math. Although I don't have much occasion to use complex analysis or set theory these days, I can still calculate a logarithm in my head whenever I need to. I'll be happy to hear of any mathematically inclined careers that are realistically open to me at this stage.

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    8. Why not try to work for a life insurance company doing actuary work?

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    9. "Oh, I'm strong in math. "

      Math is something to be learned upon need then discarded when no longer needed, so as to save space for better every-day information.

      Delete
  10. Unemployed_NortheasternNovember 26, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    From what I understand, Northeastern Law has gone from 35-40 students out of a class of ~200 hitting Biglaw in the salad days before the recession to 4 students in the class of 2011. 95% drop in 5 or 6 years.

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    1. Or, to use the parlance of Rutgers-Camden, "many top students" from Northeastern obtain jobs with firms that pay starting salaries in excess of $130k.

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    2. Yes: the dean's daughter (hello, Vermont Law School) and three rich kids.

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  11. Hey!!!!!

    I just got a 40 dollar check in the mail for having served Jury Duty for a day.

    By God, I have financial reserves now!

    It has been a good year. I did my jury duty, and I voted.

    Go to @2:32 here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVyG9CxlWf8

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    1. I see you are finally putting your Touro degree to use.

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    2. Wonder if he told the other jurors that he's going to be a lawyer when he grows up?

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  12. Lawprof: Is this from LST? Link please, thanks.

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  13. My observation is that the hiring figures from Fordham look high for associate placements at large law firms in major and seconday cities. Not clear why they are high, and if these represent full-time permanent associate positions at law firms of the size listed, and where these positions are (NY or West Virginia).

    The other point, the commenter above about age discrimination - even with a great record from a great school, the first year employment outcome has a substantial chance of being bad. The laws of supply and demand dictate that outcome. Studying hard, having a good record at a good school, none of those factors guarantee anything other than expending a huge amount of money on law school. The chances are even with a great record, that the first year employment outcome will not be great.

    People need to go into law understandning that unemployment is the likely outcome, even for that top school grad with that top school record. For some it hits right away, while for others it does not hit until late in their careers.

    For people to express surprise at unemployment is plain stupid. You went into this with open eyes. You bought a place in a profession where most lawyers cannot get and do not have good outcome legal jobs. You should have expected unemployment and unemployment. If you did better, you beat the odds and won the lottery.

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    1. Fordham has high figures because they are placing in New York. If they were in any other city, it would be much worse.

      The unemployment message still has to get out. People still believe that if they work hard and are above-median at their school they will get a good job. They don't understand that hard work does not equal grades and that good grades do not equal jobs.

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  14. WE GET IT. LAW SCHOOL IS A SCAM. THERE ARE NO JOBS ETC. ETC.

    HOW IS COMPLAINING ABOUT IT GOING TO FIX ANYTHING?

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    Replies
    1. Getting the message out has changed the conversation about law school, which never would have happened voluntarily.

      I think we can give up on the schools self-policing.

      The only way this changes is through funding. I agree with 5:52 that something needs to be done. Lobbying a sympathetic government-funding-hating ear in Congress may be the way forward.

      Delete
    2. You forget that schools are still not honest with their data. The first step is to get transparency. We have just begun on that.
      The next step is loan reform, which seems to be part of a much bigger issue. There has to be some accountability for schools.

      Delete
  15. All we can do is warn people. The odds are even worse than law students think because there are so many experienced lawyers even from Harvard and Yale Law School and other top schools with lots of top firm experience that are ready willing and able to work for that first year salary at a sizeable law firm. I am sure they are in the pool of thousands of applicants that each law firm continously has. The backlog of unemployed experienced lawyers means that a law student with the same record has experience to compete with for the same job. It is not only other first years, but thousands of experienced highly credentialed lawyers.

    All we can hope is for the ABA to be replaced in the process of regulating law schools and a real regulator put in its place and that the regulator only allows taxpayer dollars to flow into legal education that will actually produce legal jobs and reasonable employment outcomes for law grads.

    This blog was an outlier when it started. Now it is the normal view of law school in the press. Now we have first year employment outcomes, to some degree, but not experienced ones.

    The more we talk about the problems, and they are big, big problems for the hundreds of thousands of lawyers stuck with an expensive law degrees and bad employment outcomes, the more likely we are to get real regulatory change.

    ReplyDelete
  16. The level of hysteria on this blog is ridiculous.

    "People need to go into law understandning that unemployment is the likely outcome, even for that top school grad with that top school record." Really? Do the facts even come close to supporting this statement?

    Look at the top hundred schools, how many of them have more than half their students unemployed? It's true many law grads are struggling, but let's not overstate the case. All the statistics show that most grads from top 100 schools are still ending up with the types of jobs they intended to get when they signed up for law school. The fact is most students are not like the posters (poseurs?) on this site. They are not looking for NLJ 250 jobs. If they get them great. If not, they're not crying themselves to sleep at night. Most just want a satisfying job that allows them to have a reasonable standard of living. The truth is most students from top 100 schools are getting that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is that "reasonable standard of living" possible on a modest salary when one has a monstrous debt?

      Delete
  17. 7:52 Not true that most top law grads have anything close to real employment because there a substantial likelihood of unemployment at some point in their career. I consider a Harvard grad who was counsel at a major law firm for years and has been struggling in a solo practice for the last 8 years as unemployed. Maybe that person has some income, but it is not good. Similarly, I consider a Yale grad who was partner or counsel at a top firm for years but is now struggling in an 8 lawyer firm as unemployed. Some of these firms actually put people on their websites to "look bigger than we really are." The problem is that there are too many grads who wind up stranded in their careers and it hits top schools as well as the fourth tier. It is not like pharmacy where it is possible to get a salaried six figure job. You can't get that in law. It is not hysteria. It is fact. As people go on in their careers, a higher and higher percentage fails to have good employment outcomes. You sound like a troll, and if you have not examined the actual 40 year employment outcomes from each law school, you do not know what you are talking about.

    ReplyDelete
  18. According to the BLS, among the 570,950 folks who are classified as attorneys, the average salary is $130,490. The median salary is $113,310. Using the median figure, about 285,000 people in the United States make at least $113,000 as attorneys. Care to defend your statement that unlike in pharmacy, "you can't get that in law?" http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes231011.htm

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Few of those are recent graduates. Most of them are people who got into law many years ago.

      Delete
  19. There are about a million and a quarter people licensed as attorneys in the U.S. for 285,000 jobs that pay well enough to even pay off the cost of going to law school. Some of those jobs are associate positions in large law firms that are closed to most grads of most law schools and are closed to most experienced lawyers. Taking out about 60,000 jobs for this, you have about 1.2 million lawyers for 225,000 paying legal jobs that pay the cost of your law degree. In large cities, the $113,000 salary is not so high - many public employees earn that much or very close to that much in cash compensation alone without having expensive graduate degrees. The supply demand ratio is law is terrible if you are a job seeker.
    The chances of finding a job that makes your law degree pay off financially are 1 in 5 or so.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This gives a breakdown of the number of lawyers in the U.S.
    http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/plp/pages/statistics.php#wlw

    In fact, the number of BigLaw associates is higher than 60,000 probably more than 80,000, so the 1 in 5 chance of a return on a law degree is probably accurate for those with law degrees today.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Restricting the definition of professional and financial success to whether you practice at a big firm is asinine. Just to give a few examples, federal judges, politicians, in-house counsel, partners and attorneys at small, thriving PI/labor/IP/immigration firms, etc., etc., etc. all do well financially and do not work at biglaw firms. The law professor who writes this blog does not work at a biglaw firm - but he sure makes a lot of money. Biglaw is a great plan A, but there are a lot of great plan B's out there.

    Is every attorney rich? Of course not. But the median salary for attorneys is higher than the median salary for most other occupations. And by the way, you have to borrow a lot of money for graduate degrees in those other programs too. MBA's aren't free.

    ReplyDelete
  22. 11:52 Take out BigLaw from the equation as older lawyers generally do not meet the qualifications for Biglaw and the median salary for lawyers likely drops to under six figures. There are relatively small numbers of other high paying jobs in the legal profession. There are very few law professors and very few in house counsel if you look at the Harvard numbers. Only a limited number of people become judges. Sure, some smaller firms are successful financially but most make modest amounts of money. Compare this to pharmacists, which have the same median salary as lawyers, but no up or out policies. Physician assistants probably come pretty close to lawyers once you take out BigLaw, and nurse practioners, which are not separately broken down by the Bureau of Labor Statistics also come close to the median for lawyers, with much better employment prospects. Doctors and dentists are much better off than lawyers.

    When you take into account that around half of all lawyers do not get jobs as lawyers, and more than half of the rest are unlikely to crack six figures after they hit age 40 or so (taking into account up or out policies), and most will not hit six figures before age 40 either, you have a very expensive, highly competitive degree with a very poor economic return for most people. Sure, a few lawyers hit it big or work until retirement. Most struggle either financially, to get clients or to work at all.

    ReplyDelete
  23. A few lawyers? How about 285,000 making $113,000 or more? How about 142,500 make $166,000 or more, which puts you in the top 10% of income nationally. That sounds like more than a few to me. From the figures you've cited, that's only about half who work in bigfirms.

    And why compare law salaries to pharmacy salaries? Are there that many people choosing between careers in pharmacy and law? Same with nursing and physician's assistants. My cousin is a PA and probably makes more money than me. I wouldn't want his job for five times his salary. Blood and guts and gooey stuff all over. Not to mention even worse hours than an attorney's.

    The point is that this blog is so negative almost to the point of parody. Posters here state that "you can't get [a pharmacist's] salary in law." That's just not true. Same as the statement that "unemployment is the likely outcome" for "that top school grad with that top school record". That's so far from the truth as to be laughable.

    Listen, I'm happy folks have brought transparency to the front. That's good for everyone. But enough with the outrageous and exagerated comments. Collectively, you are as overly pessimistic as law schools are overly rosy.

    ReplyDelete
  24. The outlook for lawyers is not so rosy income wise.

    Problem is that 113,000 of the 142,500 jobs paying over $166,000 are in BigLaw that has up or out policies. This leaves only about 30,000 jobs paying $166,000 or more for 1.1 million or so licensed lawyers not in Biglaw. Only about 170,000 of the jobs paying over $113,000 are available outside BigLaw.

    The high paying jobs in BigLaw are mostly temporary because few lawyers are allowed to spend their careers in BigLaw. Experienced lawyers cannot get these high paying jobs except in very small numbers.

    Not the case in the health care professions where mean salaries are available at every stage of the professional's career.

    ReplyDelete
  25. The point is that this blog is so negative almost to the point of parody. Posters here state that "you can't get [a pharmacist's] salary in law." That's just not true. Same as the statement that "unemployment is the likely outcome" for "that top school grad with that top school record". That's so far from the truth as to be laughable.

    With 1.1 million lawyers not eligibile for BigLaw seeking the 170,000 legal jobs that pay over $113,000, 930,000 lawyers cannot get legal jobs paying over $113,000- about the average salary of pharmacists. Many of those lawyers are from top schools. The truth is that most lawyers cannot get a pharmacist's average salary - 930,000 lawyers to be more specific.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The likely result for law grads is unemployment.

      The employment figures of 1.5 million law graduates of working age and 1.25 million licensed lawyers for 571,000 jobs means that more than 900,000 law graduates are not working as lawyers. To suggest that most of these people quit or found other great jobs is not realistic. The unemployment rate for law grads is almost certainly higher than the employment rate.

      It is apparent from these numbers that many BigLaw associates will wind up unemployed. About 113,000 of the highest paid legal jobs are in BigLaw. Many of the 113,000 lawyers in BigLaw will be replaced by new grads over the next 7 or 8 years. That means lawyers who have BigLaw jobs when they are young are going to be fired in large numbers when they are older. No one is predicting that 80,000 legal jobs are opening just for the lawyers who will need to leave BigLaw over the next 7 or 8 years. The overall growth in legal jobs is projected to be about 10% over the next 10 years, less than the 80,000 coming out of BigLaw alone. The inevitable result of this process of mass firings by BigLaw has to be substantial unemployment at the very top levels of the legal profession. The availability of $160,000 plus jobs outside of BigLaw is not substantial, so people who do get legal jobs will mostly make less than first years at BigLaw.

      Delete
  26. I'm going to repeat my earlier point, because apparently you are not paying attention. The poster stated that "you can't get [a pharmacist's] salary in law". That's baloney. The poster also stated that "unemployment is the likely outcome" for "that top school grad with that top school record". That is also baloney.

    I also like how you count everyone with a JD as part of the attorney labor market, but only count practicing pharmacists in the pool of pharmacists. Try comparing apples to apples for once.

    And your emphasis on biglaw jobs is completely overblown. If you manage your debt smartly (scholarships, IBR, etc.), you don't need to work at biglaw to live a nice life. In fact, you don't even to practice law. I won't bore you with anecdote after anecdote of folks with JD's who moved into other fields (some of whom never even practiced law). But it really cuts against your credibility when you refuse to count FBI agents, non-legal business folks, politicians, entrepreneurs, etc., etc., etc. Talk to these folks and they will tell you that their JD helped them in their careers and their businesses.

    I'm not saying some people don't regret going to law school or that it doesn't work out for some folks. But to say that anyone who doesn't work in biglaw is a failure is a total joke. I know boatloads of people with JD's who enjoy their careers, make a decent living, and don't work in biglaw. And the statistics back that up - there are many, many succesful lawyers.

    No career is perfect and everyone loves to bitch about their jobs. But are you telling me that being a pharmacist is better than being an attorney?? Well then just get your PharmD and go down to the local CVS where you can spend 40 years pushing little pills into little bottles. I'll take law over that any day.

    ReplyDelete
  27. What the statistics on unemployment and underemployment in pharmacy is something unknown. It is getting harder to get jobs, but there is not evidence from what people say on the internet that pharmacy has the huge overpopulation relative to jobs.

    You don't need a JD to be an FBI agent or business person, or for the other jobs you list.

    The problem is that even the top law schools are selling a false product. Once you are trained to do something for several years, ie Biglaw if you came from a top school, you cannot move easily. Are you going to compete with recent college grads when you are 34 or older? You are going to have the same problem that the poster trying to get a legal job after age 40 from law school is having.

    The problem here is that the numbers do not work in favor of lawyers. Even for lawyers who love/like/do not mind the legal work, there are too few jobs by a long shot for much too many lawyers. The fact that the work may be interesting or passable in law does not help those who are on the outside and cannot get in.

    The top law schools are terrible scam advertising salaries of $160,000. Their experienced grads are unlikely to make that much, and the likelihood of not having that much income, or even close to that much income increases with each year from graduation.

    There is also a problem of too many solos. How many solos can the market support? It is limited and more and more are coming into practice each year, and they are not going to make a good living. The odds are against them because the supply side of legal services far exceeds the demand.

    ReplyDelete
  28. If you are among the 900,000 lawyers who are not in legal jobs, and you are looking for a job, you are either in the entry level job market or you have the experience employers are looking for. Unless you can buy a franchise or start a business, you need to get hired.

    The entry level job market is notoriously competitive. A failed law degree is going to hurt you. It will make it hard to get an entry level BA job.

    Even if you have spent several years working as a lawyer and are now looking from a solo practice, unemployment or even the short time frame BigLaw provides to exit, you will generally not have the experience employers require for non-legal jobs with a future. These jobs are highly competitive and in this weak job market, you have two strikes against you - the failed law degree and experience which is not a strong as others who actually worked in the type of non-legal job being filled. Believe me, I have tried to move to non-legal jobs where I had all the expertise and skills the employer is looking for, again and again. It does not work. They do not want lawyers. There are a million lawyers trying to make the same move today and it irritates the employer. If they want compliance or HR experience, you go to have it. Law experience rarely works.

    The only time it works is if you are in a law firm, working with them and they hire you. Then you may be able to move to a good non-legal job.

    Trying to move from a solo practice or unemployment from law to a competitive job is a losing battle, and you may even be in a losing battle if the two or three month window BigLaw gives you to exit is not long enough to find a job in your practice area.

    ReplyDelete
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