Indeed, given that cost explosion, it would seem more obvious than ever that people who aren't going to spend most or all of their professional careers as lawyers generally shouldn't go to law school. This raises the difficult issue of what the lost generation -- the people who have graduated from law school over the past three years -- ought to do now. The available data, poor as it is, suggests that more than half of this cohort doesn't currently have real legal jobs (permanent full-time employment requiring a law degree). Here's an email I received a couple of days ago from a graduate of a second-tier law school, who finished in the top third of his class:
As a recent law graduate, I have to ask as food for thought - is there anything we can do to mitigate this situation of massive debt with little work opportunity? Is there any sort of damage control that we can do? I know this is a big question, but every time I try to refine it down it starts to get too personal to me. But I need some sort of idea of what I can do right now to try to improve things - join the military? Pursue a graduate degree in my original field (engineering)? Throw myself in front of a car? I know a fair amount of my class are still completely unemployed and as the November deadline for the beginning of loan repayments approaches I'm starting to feel the need to make any sort of money now. And, I feel like the most recent classes (2010 and 2011) are facing some unprecedented issues - instead of not making as much money as we were promised we're completely frozen out of the legal industry altogether - it really might be a lost cause for a lot of us even if we did well in law school - so.... are there any ideas as to what comes next?
P.S. I really do understand that this is a big and vague question - if you want any more information from me I'm happy to give it - I just did not want to bog down a stranger with my personal problems. But at the same time I know that half my class, the half that doesn't have jobs, are all trying to figure out what we can do to salvage our lives.
P.P.S. I had one more question I had wanted to ask - what are your thoughts on LLMs? I know several of my classmates who didn't find jobs ended up enrolling in those programs to put off doing nothing/postpone when debt is due, but I don't know whether or not it's just throwing more good money away with bad (since I would have to take loans for it as well). Some lawyers have told me that only tax LLMs are useful, meanwhile this site http://www.llm-guide.com/
Well? Keep in mind that in terms of a combination of law school attended and class rank this person is better off than at least three quarters of the national graduating class of 2011. Forward-looking reform efforts are crucial, but what about the perhaps 75,000 law school graduates (with an average law school debt of around $100K) from just the last three years who are in something very much like this person's position? Are we -- here I am mainly addressing my fellow law school faculty and administrators -- just supposed to forget about them now, and wish them better luck next time? And what is their next time supposed to be?
Don't get an LLM. I have one (from a top school) and it's completely useless. Just another $50k in debt.ReplyDelete
Engineer with a law degree? Well, assuming this person doesn't mind moving long distance, he should try to get work in patenting.ReplyDelete
To take the USPTO exam you don't need anything but a science/engineering degree, and you can teach yourself based on past exams or mail-order courses. Although it's better - but not essential - if you've worked in patenting in some capacity before.
Assuming that the person concerned is a US citizen, with having passed the USPTO exam they can work anywhere in the world. I know several Chinese firms, for example, that were (at least a few years ago) simply hiring any US patent agent/attorney they could get their hands on, payment for patent agents was in the area of 105,000 USD a year, and for patent attorneys somewhat higher - all this in a place where the cost of living was roughly 1/10th of what it is in the US.
It may be that the recession has changed all this, but my experiences both in China and in Japan were otherwise.
Don't do any LLM without having some kind of interest in the subject. If you really feel there's something out there which you are interested in studying, consider studying in another country to broaden your horizons. For employment purposes, the best use of an LLM is to disguise a year's unemployment, and that's not a very good use.
FOARP: Thanks for the feedback on the USPTO exam and the overseas opportunities it might create. This correspondent had tried to get a job as a patent lawyer here in the US. Here's part of another email:ReplyDelete
"Basically our school had told us that last years class found employment shortly after the bar exam - but I'm starting to wonder how honest that statement was. I wanted to do patent law, but in my three years I only saw a single patent firm hiring through our school - I applied but didn't get it - so my work experience is working for a sole practitioner and interning with a federal judge for a year (my 1L year there were extremely few legal jobs - the majority of students were research assistants to professors.)"
I'm in private practice and about 15 years away from law school. I wish I had some good suggestions for people in the awful position of your correspondent. I'll just offer a few thoughts, for whatever they're worth.ReplyDelete
If you still want to practice law some day, then I'd say it's important to do something law-related between now and then, if you possibly can. Anything that can be spun as "law-related" would be better than a non-law job, because getting out of law before you have any real legal experience would make it nearly impossible to find work practicing law when the market recovers (if it ever recovers that much). There are so many new grads coming out every year that employers have little incentive to consider someone who graduated a couple of years ago but has had no relevant experience since then. (You should also get barred somewhere while law school is still fresh in your mind.)
A commenter on earlier posts mentioned the military as a good option. I don't have any firsthand knowledge of that. But I can say that I and my colleagues view military experience as a plus on someone's resume. It therefore strikes me as a good place to wait out the slump.
As for getting an LLM, I have to agree that an LLM in tax is the only type of LLM that I've ever known to be viewed as helpful to one's job prospects. But the viability of that option depends on (1) whether you want to practice tax law when you're done, and (2) whether you think the market will have improved enough in two years that you'll be able to find work practicing law, such that the additional expense will be worth it. I'm personally not very optimistic as to (2).
Of course, you have to survive, and you may have no option but to forget the legal field altogether and just take whatever job you can find. If you have to do that but can get into some kind of law-related job within, say, 6 months, then you still will have a storyline that is "salable" to a legal interviewer down the road.
It seems like a lot of the "opportunities" suggested to the lost generation have one thing in common: completely abandoning your entire life.ReplyDelete
Move to Little Bumbleton, South Dakota. Move to China! Enlist in the Army!
It seems that law grads with substantial debt and no legal job have only two option: join the military or leave the country.ReplyDelete
This comment kind of falls between today's and yesterday's topics. Law school doesn't prepare you for another career, but law practice might. After 20 years in, I know many people who have voluntarily left law practice. Some people made enough money practicing that they were able to start some other kind of business completely unrelated to law (antiques dealer, farmer, restaurant owner) and gradually phase themselves out of the law field. Others were able to enter another career based on the contacts and perhaps the skills learned through practicing. I've known people who are now executive directors of non-profits, especially issue-advocacy nonprofits, like ACLU affiliates.ReplyDelete
My point here is that none of them would have been able to get these second-career jobs right out of school armed only with a law degree. Even so, a number encountered disbelief or skepticism when they explained they would rather be in career X instead of being a lawyer. Nonlawyers really don't get how awful practice can be. Also, none of them would have been able to move to a different career if their student loans weren't either paid off or on a manageable repayment schedule. So "just go do something else" isn't helpful advice for a recent graduate.
Unfortunately, I don't have advice that is much more helpful. I think Lemuel above is right -- try as hard as you can to get something you can spin as "law-related" and don't get an LLM solely as a way of deferring your loans.
@BL1Y - Well, since that's exactly what I did do, I can't hardly avoid saying that it's worth trying. the basic reason why such things can offer a potentially greater chance of success is exactly because so few people are willing to try them.ReplyDelete
For people considering the "leave the country" route, it's not as simple as just signing up and leaving.ReplyDelete
For instance, if you want to join the Foreign Service, the exam is only given 3 times a year, so you may have to wait up to 4 months just to take the exam. After the exam, the minimum wait time until your application is complete is 6 months. The maximum time is 2 years. So, once you've decided to go this route, you're looking at anywhere from 6 months to 28 months.
Basically, if you want to join the Foreign Service, you also need to find a second job.
I dropped out midway through 2L in 2010. I have a job at a software company now. I'm not that strong, but I can talk enough tech to be able to get a well paying job. Learn a programming language. Work on a website. Write an application. There are jobs for people with programming skills and technical knowledge.ReplyDelete
This person should really apply to be a Patent examiner. He or she could then move into private practice in a few years.ReplyDelete
I got an LLM that wasn't in tax and I got a job a month after graduation doing exactly what I wanted to do. I am positive the LLM set me apart from the legions of other interviewees. Further, every lawyer that knows me personally, when they find out I have an LLM, seems genuinely impressed. I think that cuts against the notion that lawyers only care about LLMs in tax. Now, are non-tax LLMs worth an extra 30k+ across the board? Probably not, but I wouldn't, as a rule, rejected non-tax LLMs.ReplyDelete
As long as all your loans are federal, get on IBR and don't stress a moment longer.ReplyDelete
An LLM in tax is worth absolutely nothing if you don't already have a job. At NYU there were two groups of Tax LLM students. Those who had jobs before starting and thus had jobs after finishing, and those who did not have jobs before starting and did not have them after finishing either.ReplyDelete
"As long as all your loans are federal, get on IBR and don't stress a moment longer."ReplyDelete
This is a good point. You won't be able to pay back what you have now, so what's the harm in adding to it? Let her ride!
@EricEsq - I know people who went the USPTO route, the only problem is they had a hiring freeze last year. I don't know if it's still on, but it's not as easy as it used to be.ReplyDelete
I haven't seen the stats on this, but I'm going to guess most members of the Lost Generation don't have a science or engineering background, so USPTO won't be a realistic option for them.ReplyDelete
@BL1Y - True enough, one of the big problems with law school is that people think it's a good way of fixing a fairly useless (for employment purposes) undergraduate degree. If people could study law at undergraduate level, this would certainly disabuse them of this misimpression.ReplyDelete
I am going to graduate this year with combined debt of over 180000. It looks like I won't be able to secure any gainful employment. I am a foreign national and have an opportunity to return to my home country. How would this return effect me? Will I be able to visit without having legal troubles?ReplyDelete
Just try to survive...get a job at a non-profit (ANY non-profit - hell, create one yourself. Rescuing dogs, charities, whatever.) Then sign up for IBR and at the very least, after ten years and if you still haven't found a career in law, you can move on from the loans and be done with this hell. It may sound nuts but if you do a cost-benefit analysis you may actually make more money in the long run doing it this way then slaving away in private practice, making squat, to pay off onerous loans over 30 years.ReplyDelete
Also, if you really feel like you can't take it anymore, this is a good website:ReplyDelete
@9.04 - Well, that kinda depends on whether you're planning on paying back the money you borrowed after you split the country . . .ReplyDelete
Comments like @9:04 have confused me for some time.ReplyDelete
They're asking for advice, but fail to provide basic details necessary for answering the question. Are you moving back to Canada, or Cambodia?
That makes a huge difference in a creditor's ability to come after you.
Are people who have these sorts of incomplete advice requests just unaware of what the relevant facts are? Are they trolls? I just don't get it.
BL1Y: You think law school would have taught them the importance of providing such information (I kid I kid).ReplyDelete
Actually, that is something I'd expect a law school to teach someone. ...Just not on purpose.ReplyDelete
We've all had that exam where the professor didn't phrase the question clearly, or left out an important detail. Or maybe the student misreads the question, or doesn't realize that the point of the question was to see if you know that the unmentioned detail is important.
Either way, we've all dealt with the frustration of questions like that. A law student should know better.
I don't know the real employment statistics from my school but the majority of my friends who graduated with me are working in a legal assistant or paralegal capacity. They said their employers would eventually hire them as attorneys when things get better [whenever that is]. Although my friends know they'll likely not move up in the near future, it's all they can get right now. I wonder how many people ended up working as a paralegal during these times.ReplyDelete
Want to work in the public sector after graduation? Think again.ReplyDelete
According to The Economist:
Courts are in similar straits all over the country. A report by the American Bar Association found that in the last three years, most states have cut court funding by around 10-15%. In the past two years, 26 have stopped filling judicial vacancies, 34 have stopped replacing clerks, 31 have frozen or cut the salaries of judges or staff, 16 have furloughed clerical staff, and nine have furloughed judges. Courts in 14 states have reduced their opening hours, and are closed on some work days. Even the buildings are not immune; around the country 3,200 courthouses are “physically eroded” and “functionally deficient”, says the National Centre for State Courts.
The majority of my friends who graduated with me are working in a legal assistant or paralegal capacity, hoping to be hired as attorneys when [if] times get better. More sad part is that they have co-workers who graduated before them and are doing the same thingReplyDelete
9:04 here. BL1Y: The question is not whether the government can go after my foreign assets. I am wondering if I can be prosecuted criminally when I visit US if I just leave (default).ReplyDelete
Or in the alternative, if I do not default and opt to go into IBR. If I take up employment overseas, would I have to tell them my income (which would not exceed $500/month)? Or will my income be at 0 for purposes of IBR? Also, how would being a citizen of the US effect this scenario.
The other 9:04 says: Just try to survive...get a job at a non-profit (ANY non-profit - hell, create one yourself. Rescuing dogs, charities, whatever.)ReplyDelete
Honestly, I think most law students would be stoked to get a job at a non profit, instead of being asked to work for free. I don't think IBR applies to people who volunteer for a nonprofit, and man cannot live by saving doggies alone.
One other piece of advice for the engineer is that he can work for the USPTO. After a few years at the USPTO, he will be able to become a registered patent attorney by taking an exam that is only half the length of what others have to take. Also, working for the USPTO will provide enough money to make loan payments, since with a JD, he will probably start at GS9 level.ReplyDelete
Another big caveat about IP law is that the demand is highly skewed in favor of electic engineers and computer engineers. The demand for IP attorneys in these fields far exceeds the demand for IP attorneys in any other field. You can have a PhD in biology and a JD from a top school and still get shut out of the IP game because so many PhD biologists go to law school, especially with the drop off in NIH funding over the last decade.
Also, if the engineer has a degree in an odd category (industrial engineering, operational engineering, systems engineering, bio-engineering, chemical engineering, etc.) it can be hard to sell yourself to employers, because employers don't know what your engineering degree entails. Chemical engineers can't really do chemistry, and by law you can't patent thermodynamics or heat transfers, so you have to emphasize what skills you have that are relevant to patents.
@11:31: Yes, if you default on loans and flee the country, you will be prosecuted upon your return to the American Emirate and tossed into debtor's prison.ReplyDelete
At many schools (all the way down to schools ranked as high as USC), the employment situation for each graduating class from 2008 on is absolute bloodbath. Even a cursory attempt to track down graduates confirms this.ReplyDelete
Well over 50% of the people I know who graduated do not have jobs. These are people who graduated and passed the bar in 2008 or 2009.
Off the top of my head I know where 5 people I graduated with work now. 1 works at a consulting firm (a job he took right out of school), 1 works at a smartphone app company, and 1 makes cookies.ReplyDelete
Only 2 of them are lawyers. 1 started in Big Law and was laid off, and now works at a small Midwest firm. The other is in JAG and plans to leave once his contract is up.
John Doe Attorney,ReplyDelete
Yeah, same story here. A lot of people in my class are doing the same thing. They are legal positions but not the one where you expect to land after 100k in debt.
John Doe Attorney and BL1Y, where do you guys work?ReplyDelete
@11.58 - My understanding is that the USPTO is currently in a hiring freeze, has been since April. I'm not going to complain too much because, frankly, the quality of OAs coming out of the USPTO went through the floor after they started their hiring splurge a few years ago, not that it was that high to start with.ReplyDelete
@12:17: I worked Big Law (AmLaw 200, $160k) for 14 months and was kicked to the curb. Been unemployed for nearly 2 years, getting by with unemployment benefits and occasional freelance writing work.ReplyDelete
BL1Y, two of my close friends from law school (BLS) also got the boot from big-law after about a year. One works compliance with me now, the other moved to Canada.ReplyDelete
Even the winners become losers in time. I'm half glad I started out a loser. No grace to fall from and all.
@BL1Y - I don't know if you'll find this comforting or not, but my brother-in-law, an accountant, just found work after 30 months of unemployment. He had been working for KMPG, now he's on less than half his previous salary at a small firm.ReplyDelete
To be frank, had I been him I would have given up at the two-year mark. My question is - at what point will you stop looking?
What really screws my situation up is that I had to move back in with my parents in Alabama, so now I live in a city with pretty much no legal market.ReplyDelete
I looked on the USA Jobs listings, and there was literally 1 legal job in this city. My school's Simplicity listings have nothing in the entire state. ABA Jobs Board has 0 jobs for Alabama (0 Mississippi, 0 Tennessee, 1 Georgia, 5 Florida). The state bar has 1 job listing for the entire state right now.
Add on to that the fact that most jobs ask for references. When I was working, I had just a patchwork of odd job assignments from a bunch of different partners, so I never worked with anyone long enough for them to even remember who I am now. In law school I was near the middle of the class and wasn't one of the public interest kids, so I didn't have any sort of relationship with a professor.
Few people will talk to you about a job if you don't currently live in the city, few will talk to you without strong references, and with 1 year of incredibly unspecialized and living in a town with few opportunities to start with, it's looking like a career in retail may be my only option.
Lots of lawyers and unlicensed JDs make it as petroleum landmen.ReplyDelete
FOARP: My unemployment benefits will run out at the end of this year, so that's when I'll be forced to throw in the towel.ReplyDelete
I'm applying to MFA programs now; I'll go if I can get full funding. No tuition, a $1k/mo stipend, free health insurance, and loan deferment isn't too bad. Job prospects won't be too great after, but a 3 year bandaid is a huge freaking bandaid.
The USPTO IS CURRENTLY HIRING in the following tech areas only:ReplyDelete
Aerospace Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Ceramic Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering, General Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Materials Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Mining Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, Metallurgy, Physics, Chemistry, Food Technology, Textile Technology, Computer Science and Pharmacology.
Salary is a minimum of a GS 9 level, which is about 60k to 80k range.
That's surprising BL1Y, listening to Professor Horwitz I would have assumed the Alabama legal market was booming.ReplyDelete
@BL1Y - My professional references are all basically friends of mine - sure, they really were in the positions I say they were, but there were always other people I could have picked but didn't because I didn't trust them. Same with my academic reference - a prof. who did teach me and did supervise my final year project, but who wasn't, strictly speaking, the official go-to guy for references, but who I always got on well with and still stay in touch with.ReplyDelete
Hell, I've even given references for some of my former superiors saying that I was a 'former colleague', which again is nothing but the truth.
Basically, if the job situation in Alabama is as you describe it, then you should probably go for a change in scene - but then this is my solution for everything and by no means is the solution suited to everyone.
People who matter:ReplyDelete
@BL1Y - Despite what I've said above about post-graduate degrees, that might not be such a bad way to go. A friend of mine is an artist who has used his MFA to do everything from teaching English at a California all-girls college to working as an art critic in Beijing. I can't say he's rich, but he does live well.ReplyDelete
I'm working the night shift at a shipping warehouse. Nobody there knows I'm a lawyer or else I wouldn't have been hired or I would've been released by now. It's been a temporary job for a long time. I've had interviews but no job offers yet, knocking on wood.
Oh yeah if anyone is wondering where a few other attorneys are working, here's an interesting read for those who didn't catch this story. http://redtape.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/09/13/7730301-lawyer-turns-topless-dancer-to-pay-the-bills
Many of us are going to have to start businesses and hope they take off. The Internet lets you start businesses very cheaply and live anywhere. Being an entrepreneur is so different from the hierarchy worship beaten into us as Americans - please your parents, please your teachers, please your professors, please your boss, die - but it's the only way for people who will basically never find a job.ReplyDelete
FYI, the USPTO is currently hiring engineers. If you have a JD, you will start at the GS-9 level, so your pay range would be in the 60-80k range.ReplyDelete
@0 year lawyer here. I don't have any advice for the lost generation. For current (and future) law students, though: re-read BL1Y's comment at 12:48 and then read it again. He/she spent buckets of money going to school, went to an organization filled with overacheivers, and didn't effectively use the time to build relationships at either place. I understand this very well, having made the same kinds of mistakes. No knock on BL1Y is intended here.ReplyDelete
Don't make this mistake. Ask questions after class. Go to office hours. Get to know the profs. If you get a job, during or after school, build the relationships. You have no idea when or how the relationships you form now are going to be needed. Don't waste the opportunity.
3:01 was me. The number at the beginning is supposed to be "20."ReplyDelete
Simple solution, especially if you're single with no kids: Move to another continent.ReplyDelete
Neither Citibank, nor Sallie Mae, nor Uncle Sam is going to spend 100s of thousands of dollars to try to convince a Honduran judge to garnish your seashell-selling wages.
Remember, People: If you're going to be poor, then at least do it in style.
To the last commenter at 2:25 can you provide a link?ReplyDelete
This is the "engineer" - actually my degree is in physics but if I went back to grad school I would pursue a masters in electrical engineering. I'd been trying to apply to the USPTO for the past couple months but they hadn't been hiring - when I looked now it says they are only hiring through programs for veterans or displaced federal employees, which its been for at least a month. Am I missing something?
Thanks also for everyone who has commented for your potential solutions, I really do appreciate it. Part of the stress of graduating recently is that everyone we have to talk to also has no idea what to do.
One more potential question:ReplyDelete
I know a few people who have found volunteer positions for DA offices and public defenders - has anyone ever heard of volunteer work of any sort in patent law?
@3:01: There is definitely a lot more I could have done, but the system is also set up such that the people in charge pick the winners and losers in the networking game. Working harder doesn't necessarily help.ReplyDelete
At NYU, we had a student:faculty ratio of 10:1. Is every faculty member going to mentor 10 students? Probably not, which means the average student will have <1 decent relationship with a professor. Some, such as the law review kids, will likely have 3 or more strong faculty connections, making even less time available for everyone else.
At work, I underestimated the role of office politics, and the laziness/incompetence of our system. The partner who assigned projects also billed over 3000 hours a year. No way she had a clue who would be good to work on what project and with which partners. If you were one of the favorite associates, you were set; after that it was just a crapshoot.
Right BL1Y, it's no knock on you. Knowing what you know now, though, you'd probably play the game a little differently, no?ReplyDelete
Yeah, definitely would have picked a couple different classes. Though really, I only took 1 complete softball class. Many of the classes I took because I thought they'd help (employee benefits, business finance, law and econ, real estate deals, ADR, T&E) turned out to be total wastes, so who knows, maybe no choice of classes would have really been worthwhile.ReplyDelete
Biggest thing I probably could have done differently was to more aggressively carve out a niche for myself. Unfortunately, it's too late now.
BL1Y, that's a good point. Law students should ONLY be taking courses that will help their new solo practice. Divorce law, employment, estates & trusts, litigation 1/2/3 . . . small time stuff. Law schools, especially TTTs, should teach less high level finance and more "shitlaw" regardless of what their deluded students want.ReplyDelete
People who think helping other people with their legal problems is "shit" should avoid the legal profession. The issues you name are real, and of real significance to millions of people. People who think helping billionaires cheat the public (or each other) is some higher calling -- and then don't get to do it -- well, don't ask me for sympathy.ReplyDelete
I wasn't thinking of law school courses so much as networking. While maybe the average prof isn't going to fully mentor 10 students, surely he/she can know 20 well enough to write recommendations. The question a student faces is how to become one of them. LawProf?
That was not at all my point. If you're at a TTT, yes, you should be looking for into that.ReplyDelete
But, NYU class of 2008? That would have been a bonehead idea. I should have done more with project finance, private equity, and tax.
What young associates need to keep in mind is that you have to get a niche very quick, if no reason other than to help you if you get laid off. No jobs want 1-2 years of general experience, it's always specialized experience. And, even if in the wrong niche, specialized experience is certainly no worse than generalized.
He should go overseas, and default. It's really his only option that makes any sense.ReplyDelete
OT -- Seton Hall U. offering 66% discount for "early applicants with strong academic credentials":ReplyDelete
Wow BL1Y you are clueless.ReplyDelete
I assume you worked in litigation. Please be aware that had you worked in transactional, you wouldn't even have started your biglaw gig. You would have gotten a delayed start, turned into a terminated offer. The fact that you were in litigation gave you a far better chance.
You can't "specialize" in law school. The department in which you work is a function of your 1L grades, which gets you your SA position, your performance as an SA, and the firm's needs. Taking a course in e.g. project finance has little effect on that process.
See your life now for an example of what happens when you don't take shitlaw courses in law school. Once the biglaw gig is over, and you need to practice shitlaw, you have to start completely from scratch. In biglaw you don't need to take a course in project finance because you will have been trained by an actual project finance lawyer. In shitlaw you have no one to train you, thus that course in divorce law helps.
Wow BL1Y you are clueless.ReplyDelete
1. I assume you worked in litigation. Please be aware that had you worked in transactional, you wouldn't even have started your biglaw gig. You would have gotten a delayed start, turned into a terminated offer. The fact that you were in litigation gave you a far better chance.
2. You can't "specialize" in law school. The department in which you work is a function of your 1L grades, which gets you your SA position, your performance as an SA, and the firm's needs. Taking a course in e.g. project finance has little effect on that process.
3. See your life now for an example of what happens when you don't take shitlaw courses in law school. Once the biglaw gig is over, and you need to practice shitlaw, you have to start completely from scratch. In biglaw you don't need to take a course in project finance because you will have been trained by an actual project finance lawyer. In shitlaw you have no one to train you, thus that course in divorce law helps.
(the above comment was posted earlier but deleted. If LawProf is moderating it that's fine just let me know so I don't post it again)ReplyDelete
5:01 - Meh, Im with you in spirit but a single course, or a series of them in a particular area, will not do much for you. Law school just doesn't prepare any of us at all (some clinics help but even thats arguable due to the short abrupt nature of most of them). Its better than absolutely nothing but if you really think a course in divorce law is helpful for practice I think you can achieve pretty close to the same effect by grabbing a syllabus and reading all the materials, etc.ReplyDelete
As a quasi-shit law attorney (consumer bankruptcy), I think it's funny that you're even debating what law school classes will help you in practice. The truth is they're probably about as useful as an undergraduate course was to your legal path. You need to learn by doing.ReplyDelete
For the majority of client-based legal services, the law is all about sales. I have seen countless associates come and go because they cannot relate to people. If people don't like you, they will not pay you. If you don't get paid, you don't last long in the legal field. Unfortunately, law schools generally do not teach likability, salesmanship, and business to law students. The smartest people at my office typically perform the worst when it comes to getting retainers, money, etc.
To the OP student: WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT BORROW ANOTHER CENT OF STUDENT LOAN MONEY. Stay away from the LLM, even tax.
"if you really think a course in divorce law is helpful for practice I think you can achieve pretty close to the same effect by grabbing a syllabus and reading all the materials, etc."ReplyDelete
What a sad but true statement. Your average law school course provides no more information than you would find in a very mediocre introductory summary of the topic, i.e. it provides nothing of value to a practicing attorney.
"I think it's funny that you're even debating what law school classes will help you in practice. The truth is they're probably about as useful as an undergraduate course was to your legal path. You need to learn by doing."ReplyDelete
Jesus even shitlaw classes like bankruptcy won't help you in shitlaw bankruptcy? We've officially established that a law school degree is not worth the paper it's printed on!
*Clarification* The "smartest people" in my above post should really be the "students from the best schools and highest GPAs," as I would consider social intelligence and the ability to extract money (goal-directed results) as major factors of being "smart."ReplyDelete
The question at 12:17 asked you where do you work. It didn't ask you where you worked or your life story after law school. Answering the question directly is something I'd expect law school or taking the bar exam would teach you...maybe just not on purpose.
It's really your job that trains you how to be a lawyer. Law school is more of an administrative stepping stone these days.ReplyDelete
stfu 5:58 this isn't a witness stand. I enjoyed hearing BL1Y share his experiences and his comments are helpful and/or entertaining more often than not. You, on the other hand can f off.ReplyDelete
I also think it's important for BL1Y and those in his position to tell their stories in full. BL1Y is a guy who supposedly did the "right" thing: score well on the LSAT, go to a T-whatever (NYU), land a biglaw job and be golden. There are a lot of people who would assume that even a biglaw spit-out would easily land a job elsewhere. Well, that's not how the carnival works, kids. Truth is, BL1Y might have been better off going to the University of Alabama and finishing near the top instead of going to NYU and finishing where he did. Outside of the anointed few who get chosen by the inner circle for the $160k lottery, this is all a game of networking, connections, and regionalism.ReplyDelete
A courtroom is, in theory, designed to tease out truth, and yet the entire legal education and employment structure is built on deceptions, lies, myths, and half-truths.
@ 6:17, Never in history has law school prepared people to practice law.ReplyDelete
6:52: Very well put.ReplyDelete
So really everyone in law school is screwed?ReplyDelete
@11:30am You can work at a NON-PROFIT and be on IBR at the same time. I am on both right now and within the next 8 years, I will have over $200,000 forgiven. You only need to work for the non-profit for 10 years and, YES, you can simultaneously be on IBR, which will adjust the payment according to your non-profit salary. My payments are $300/month, and they would be over $1700 a month if I was not on IBR. The advantage of working for the non-profit is that your loans are forgiven after 10 YEARS rather than 25 YEARS, which would be the timeframe for being on IBR and working for a a FOR-PROFIT business. In addition, you are not taxed on the amount forgiven when you work for a NON-PROFIT.ReplyDelete
There are no cases on record of ANYONE being prosecuted criminally for re-entry into the US when they have defaulted on their loans.ReplyDelete
The ONLY country of note that has taken issue with delinquent student loan debtors is New Zealand.
By the way, if anyone reading this blog is on the verge of defaulting, PLEASE start a blog documenting every day of that venture.ReplyDelete
For the record, the people (including LawProf) who say that law school doesn't prepare you for any other career are simply wrong. There are lots of successful business people with law degrees who never practiced law but insist that law school was (a) very helpful; (b) better than getting an MBA; and (c) completely worth the time and money. This is not a defense of the current system -- law schools should prepare students to be lawyers, and they should not use the *possibility* of a law degree being useful for other things as a justification for ignoring the lack of demand for lawyers or for anything else. That said, many of the student comments in the last couple of posts are clearly from students who have not had sufficient experience in the business world, political world, etc., to see that law school education can help people in various ways other than by becoming a practicing lawyer.ReplyDelete
"There are lots of successful business people with law degrees who never practiced law but insist that law school was (a) very helpful; (b) better than getting an MBA; and (c) completely worth the time and money."ReplyDelete
Name 20 now (should be very easy if there are "lots") or you are a damned liar. Clock's ticking.
@5:01: I worked on the transaction/deals side, not litigation. Your specific practice area is typically decided by the firm, but in big law, you usually have the choice of litigation/corporate.ReplyDelete
I base this on, (1) my firm letting us choose, (2) every firm I interviewed with asking which side I'd prefer to work on, and (3) all of my classmates that I talked to having the same experience.
And, you can in fact get a bit of specialization in law school, though a lot depends on the school you go to. If you want a private equity or securities education at NYU, you're screwed. But, had I focused on international law or tax, two things NYU is known for, I could have left with a much more valuable education.
Taking the classes won't fully train you, but there's a huge difference between being given a project and saying "The 194-what act?" and "Oh, I understand the basic principles behind this."
@6:19 and @6:52: Yeah, using my amazing powers of interpreting language, I figured answering the question of where I worked with "nowhere" wouldn't have been particularly informative, so I went ahead and provided what I thought people might find to be relevant details, because, you know, it doesn't cost you anything to stop reading if you don't care.
BA in English secure!
6:52 - well before I knew anything about BL1Y's story, I was always struck at how (s?)he seemed to have plenty of time to post comments on most entries on most of the major law blogs. Given this person's constant online presence, I question how seriously they are trying to work their way out of unemployment. Assuming that BL1Y continues to put in full effort to look for a new job, I question whether there is something else in his/her background or employment history that has caused a 24+ month period of unemployment. To say that that is not standard for NYU graduates - even laid off from biglaw, even today - is a fair statement.ReplyDelete
8:55, You realize that it takes you as long to read BL1Y's posts as it does BL1Y to post them, right? I mean it's not like we edit these things. 80 WPM.ReplyDelete
I spend about as much time on law blogs as the average working lawyer.ReplyDelete
9:10 - BL1Y, not to put too fine a point on it, but the "average working lawyer," unlike you, does not need to devote time to finding a job. They can use that time to read law blogs, if they so choose.ReplyDelete
If I wanted to just take a McJob, I could probably find one within a week or two.ReplyDelete
But, so long as I still have some unemployment benefits coming in, I'm going to continue to pursue writing. I do look for jobs, but really, there's so little that it only takes about an hour or two a week.
Did it take you more than 20 seconds to type that BL1Y?ReplyDelete
@2.25 - FYI, AFAIK the USPTO is in a hiring freeze right now.ReplyDelete
There is no recourse for us. We can only hope to prevent other lives from being destroyed by law school.ReplyDelete
The law school industry has made it clear they are against any kind of reform, and actually are for less transparency (See ABA's recent change on reporting salaries).
We are a lost cause. No politician will touch us. The public will despise us because they despise lawyers. We can't start over in bankruptcy. Our lives are lost. We are walking dead.
But we can fight the system. And we can end the system. The greed of University administrators, law schools and professors will continue to increase the number of seats each fall. At the same time, as the truth about the law school scam emerges, the industry will have fewer and fewer customers. Eventually, the number of seats will exceed willing customers. At that point, the system collapses. We can hasten that day by continuing to talk people we know out of law school, much like you would advise them to avoid crack cocaine. We can push for more media attention. We have got to get the word out so that we can ACCELERATE THE DATE that the house of cards that is the law school industry collapses.
"We can only hope to prevent other lives from being destroyed by law school."ReplyDelete
This is the whole point of the scamblog movement. These schools are committing very willful and intentional fraud to divert money from deserving educational programs into the coffers of law schools. This is blatant, brazen criminal fraud that robs:
(a) The US government whose money will not be paid back due to the poor job prospects of law school graduates.
(b) The US economy which does not benefit from the very expensive subsidize training provided by the US government, because that money was spent learning useless bullshit.
(c) The students, whose lives are more or less ruined as a result of the scam.
This is criminal. Your Deans are among the most despicably evil people you will ever meet. They are soul-less, they are unpatriotic, they are greedy, they are putrid and wretched and have reached a level of amoral conscience that is barely human.
One day, the government is going to figure it out and you'll see indictments for this outrageous crime against the taxpayers and the economy. But until then all we have are the scamblogs.
"What should the lost generation do now?"ReplyDelete
Judging by the form of the last Lost Generation (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway etc.) moving to Paris and taking up an heavy drinking and decadent living might be a good bet. If you're lucky Woody Allen will eventually make a (ridiculously contrived) film about you.
However, mere unemployment and extreme debt isn't quite so rough as the Western Front.
On transparency, for those who rely on statistics in law school brochures to decide to go to a particular law school, what response rate from graduates reporting on their jobs and salaries would be enough to make a reliable decision?ReplyDelete
Fifty, sixty percent -- higher or lower?
What do you mean when you say you are reluctant to take a McJob?
Are you reluctant to take a shitlaw legal job while you hold out for biglaw?
At this point, learning shitlaw might be a good option for you. Some people can still make a lot of money.
"There are lots of successful business people with law degrees who never practiced law but insist that law school was (a) very helpful; (b) better than getting an MBA; and (c) completely worth the time and money."ReplyDelete
These people MIGHT exist but they are FAR OUTNUMBERED by the people who say their law degree was a complete waste of time and money and has actually HINDERED them getting a non-law job due to being "overqualified" or employers questioning their commitment to the non-law job.
You have to realize that while many people have non-legal jobs while they happen to hold a law degree, they did not get their position in any way due to their JD. There is a huge difference between a JD actually helping you obtain a non-legal job and getting a non-legal job while happening to hold a JD. Do not confuse the former with the latter!
"On transparency, for those who rely on statistics in law school brochures to decide to go to a particular law school, what response rate from graduates reporting on their jobs and salaries would be enough to make a reliable decision?ReplyDelete
Fifty, sixty percent -- higher or lower?"
You are completely missing the point about transparency. The schools publishing employment statistics are (and always have been) in the best position to know the employment statuses of their graduates. Schools have career services offices and alumni databases. Prospective students do not. Each law school chooses to publish these figures and does so to increase their attractiveness to students. (i.e. our students get employment once they graduate, US News rankings improve, etc)
If we agree that higher education is a commodity, then a school selling that commodity should be bound by consumer fraud and false advertising laws.
In the case of law schools, the defense to allegations of fraud (which TJSL has asserted for example) is that they are relying on the ABA guidelines and have fully complied with those guidelines. An implication of this defense is that the ABA, NOT the school, sets the rules.
In reality, the ABA subcommittee that considers what consumer information law schools should be required to report (i.e. the rulemakers) is comprised mostly of sitting law school deans and professors
Whether or not that alone amounts to a RICO offense is debatable. However, the ABAs refusal to answer Senator Grassly's request and recent refusal to publish more transparent consumer information really starts to look like obstruction of justice which RICO specifically prohibits.
I think what he meant by "McJob" is simply getting a job at McDonalds or some equivalent, not practicing "shitlaw".ReplyDelete
@10:16 p.m, you are missing the point of my question. Of course graduates don't have databases. Schools do, made up of information that graduates report. What I meant was, even if schools gathered this information and reported accurately, what would be the minimum level of reports that a prospective student would need to see in order to know they are getting enough info to tell them to go to a particular law school.? You can't make people return surveys. And you can't make people tell you how much money they make. A report rate of half the grads or 75%?ReplyDelete
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