Saturday, January 7, 2012

J.D. not preferred

An anonymous commenter who is apparently a law professor currently attending the annual AALS conference notes that, in sharp contrast to last year's proceedings, this year's events have been marked by considerable discussion of the employment and debt crisis facing law school graduates, and even some acknowledgement of the extent to which law schools are no longer operating on the basis of a sustainable business model.

This is of course very encouraging, and especially good to hear given some of the quotes coming out of the conference from various long-time celebrants of the status quo. Consider the wit and wisdom of former Georgetown dean and AALS president Judith Areen:

Most strikingly, some law professors, administrators and lawyers took a position more frequently put forward by faculty in the liberal arts: that even if students with law degrees do not practice law (and an increasing number of students are indeed taking jobs that do not require a J.D.), a legal education provides a strong foundation for work in a variety of fields through encouraging writing and critical thinking.

“It’s law graduates who don’t practice law who are often most complimentary about their legal education and the analytic skills they received,” said Judith Areen, a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center.  [If you're wondering about the likely analytic and empirical bases for this claim, see this]

I suspect that, as the pressure for genuine reform grows, this is going to be one of the most popular fallback defensive positions taken by those opposed to it.  Its essential absurdity should be self-evident, but since "it is difficult to get a man (or woman) to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it," I don't doubt Areen's statement seems plausible deep within the comfortable recesses of many a faculty lounge.

First, the economic value of a law degree is a product of the fact that, with rare exceptions, it is a prerequisite to fulfilling a licensing requirement that creates a significant barrier to entry to a specific field of employment.  As law school cheerleaders love to point out, there are a thousand and one jobs a graduate can do with a law degree.  What they neglect to mention is that one thousand of those jobs can also be done without a law degree.

It isn't the case, of course, that a law degree never adds value to a graduate's career prospects that don't involve the practice of law.  Rather, the problem is twofold:

(1) How much value do law degrees add for non-JD required employment; and, most crucially,

(2) How much value do law degrees subtract in regard to such career opportunities?

I suspect it would come as something of a shock to Professor Areen to learn how often law school graduates -- even graduates of her elite institution -- discover that a law degree seriously interferes with getting non-legal jobs, or legal jobs that don't require law licenses.  Consider that only 201 out of more than 44,000 2010 law school -- that is, less than one in every 200 -- reported working as paralegals nine months after graduation. There are surely several thousand people in the class of 2010 who would have loved to have taken a job as a paralegal, as opposed to what they ended up doing (especially considering that what nearly 4000 of them ended up doing was being completely unemployed nine months after graduation).  But most paralegal positions aren't even open to applicants with J.D. degrees, for a variety of reasons, the most darkly humorous being that employers are afraid law graduates will dump paralegal positions as soon as they get hired by Sullivan and Cromwell or the DOJ.

Second, consider that the whole you can do so many things with a law degree argument turns on the claim that "a legal education provides a strong foundation for work in a variety of fields through encouraging writing and critical thinking," and, as Areen argues, improves students' analytic skills. To deal with the less preposterous claim first, I don't deny that law school encourages (a type of) critical thinking, but the key questions are, in comparison to what and at what cost?  Do legal academics want to seriously maintain that law school encourages critical thinking and develops analytic skills more effectively than, say, the typical graduate school program?  (And graduate school, unlike law school, is often literally free, if one isn't counting opportunity costs).  Leaving aside post-graduate alternatives for developing critical and analytic thinking, potential law students have already had at least 17 years of formal education, during which we can hope they have acquired some facility in critical thought and analysis.  How much value does law school really add in this regard?  I more than suspect the answer isn't $150,000 worth.

As for the claim that law school turns people into better writers, really what can one say? How is it that people who have actually gone to law school can make these kinds of statements? Do they consider issue spotting exams, first-year LRW canned brief exercises, and perhaps an upper level seminar paper, effective ways of turning people into better writers? People who do seem to belie the extent to which their own legal educations actually encouraged critical thinking.

The fact remains that, with rare exceptions, the only sensible reason to go to law school is to be a lawyer.  This is so obvious for so many reasons that the increasing willingness of legal educators to argue otherwise can be taken as a sign of their growing desperation in the face of various unpleasant economic realities.


  1. “It’s law graduates who don’t practice law who are often most complimentary about their legal education and the analytic skills they received,” said Judith Areen, a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center.


    In my opinion, this is the most disgusting, despicable, revolting characteristic of law professors. What law professors do, whether in the quote above, or whether in their articles, or whether in class -- is that they confuse their imaginations with reality. They are no less than pathological liars.

    What truth, if any at all, was this statement by Ms. Areen based upon? What data did she see to make this statement? What experiences did she have?

    I guaranty that it was nothing more than one or two anecdotal statements, if there were any statements at all.

    And this is a problem. As a professor you are supposed to be beholden to the truth. You can't advance knowledge or understanding if you are comfortable lying, and thus you should not be a professor if are this comfortable with lying. This is why law professors are the most loathsome of all people in academia. They make me want to throw up.

    1. Well written.
      Professors want his job that's why encourage people get into school to maintained his payment monthly.
      They can not foresee whether the grads can get a job related with they've been trained with 4 years tuition .
      JD degree grads can not give legal advice , can not do any related with legal papers, can not present client to the court, ....what left JD can do with legal stuffs? What's good about getting JD degree can not do the work related with what you have trained?

    2. I agreed. ABA and Each State can not see, did not care the JD grads abilities, stripped down their degree , undermined their legal abilities.

      ABA/ Each State shall let those law school grads work related with what have trained in the school by the person's wishes to adapt such works.

      ABA/State can only be a center for disciplinary of lawyers/attorneys , JD grads,legal workers , whoever work related with legal, as a watch dog. By such way, society will not be controlled by licensed attorneys, fools by licensed attorneys, monopoly by licensed attorney.

  2. It depends on what school you go to. I went to law school knowing I did not want to practice law for the rest of my life.

  3. I am currently an occasional law student who entered knowing that I have no intention to ever practice law. I'm taking almost six years to get the degree and have a very nice scholarship.

    That said, I don't really think I've received any analytic skills...

    1. If your study of the law has not taught you "any analytic skills" in six years, you are wasting your time and money.

  4. You know, it's weird. Since finally landing some kind of job (yes, miraculously, legal), my JD has become quite a good thing for looking for non-legal jobs (yes, I still don't want to be in this miserable field). Everyone sort of wants the lawyer who could practice but would prefer to work for them instead. That's a good story they want to believe. But, I mean, when I was desperate for just anything career related, everyone, I'm sure, took one look at the JD and thought, "Oh, well, forget it." It's not as if I'm a different candidate or have really developed any skills I didn't pretty much have when I graduated law school. I certainly was not any less genuine about wanting a non-legal career - in fact there were times I was really excited about a new path, a new field, new kinds of people, new work and new opportunities which I really believe suit me much better. There was nothing I could do to change anyone's prejudgment, though. Nothing. It's really a cruel dynamic. I still tend to think that most law graduates are hardworking and generally bright. I've just never really understood the dynamic where HR people don't at least give some of these JD's at least a look or a chance to convince that they're not just disgruntled people who really ARE cut out for law and will jump ship at the first opportunity to practice. I don't know. If I were an HR manager, all I'd do is interview "over-qualified" people to find the one who is going to convince me that he or she really is done with law and has decided it would be much better to start a new career. That's how you hire a top performer. The fact is that there are a lot of us who, as a result of this experience, also learned something about the legal world and have realized that they've made a genuine mistake.

  5. “It’s law graduates who don’t practice law who are often most complimentary about their legal education and the analytic skills they received,” said Judith Areen, a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center [OF THE LAW GRADUATES WHO CAN STILL BEAR TALKING TO JUDITH AREEN].

    1. professor , can you see the JD grads , no license , can not give legal advice/ can not draft a legal paper , can not do any legal related stuffs, the rules were ruled by ABA/ State , what good to spend huge money, time, to get JD degree?

      JD grads been trained for 3-4 years intensively, shall be as a legal profession, shall be able to do the work related with legal .

  6. Ostritch, meet Sand.

    1. That's right, meet Sand, if JD grads can not give legal advice, help people the needs of legal advice; ABA/ STATE COURT RULED on JD grads abilities ,denied JD training for 3-4 years, its reflected to law schools, Law Prof.are all incompetent. Might as well, meet Sand.

      ABA/STATE can only be a watch dog on each lawyer, whoever work related with legal materials, discipline them if gone wrong, ( defraud,scam...),... except making a rules to denied JD grads abilities.

      ABA scammed on law schools, scammed on law students. We are still silent. Shall we? NO.

  7. The versatility of a law degree is truly a hoax. I think I believed it after being fed that line as a double science and liberal arts graduate at a small liberal arts school. I suppose the history, English, philosophy, sociology, etc. department members in those institutions like to believe that their graduates can improve their unmarketable undergraduate degrees, so that myth is comforting to those institutions. (One contribution readers can make is to contact the prelaw advisors from their undergraduate schools or professors or department chairmen in departments that ship many graduates to law schools to convey the truths of the market and tragedy befalling graduates.)

    The truth is that the vast majority of what you learn in a law school is not even useful in a law firm, much less somewhere else. As to the improving analytical skills and writing argument, I say in unison with all my colleagues that law school is a breeze after a technical degree. Students learn to think analytically in science and engineering curriculums. I think I studied less in law school than in high school. The only contribution to my thinking that I believe I acquired in law school was the habit or ability to think expansively, to entertain and connect many more possibilities, e.g. the unattended child at the public park who slipped through a broken fence in an ill maintained city park to run across the street to collect a ball that had escaped from a faulty toy that had no warning as to its known faults who was struck by an uninsured driver who swerved to avoid a drunk driver swerving in the road who in turn swerved to avoid an ill marked uncovered manhole left in that condition as a result of a strike by city workers, which child was left in its unattended state by its underage babysitter.

  8. One quick comment: You write "Do legal academics want to seriously maintain that law school encourages critical thinking and develops analytic skills more effectively than, say, the typical graduate school program?"

    I'd go even further -- JD programs that are marketed and developed as professional degrees (and with tuition set accordingly) are structurally hindered from providing the intellectual engagement of a graduate program. I have a PhD and am now in a JD program. While there is much in graduate education that needs to be fixed, it provided a space for intellectual argument that I have not seen anywhere in law school (including in intimate, graduate-style seminars). In part this seems to be due to the fact that most students are here in law school to become lawyers, not academics. But the persistent awareness of the debt that we students carry, the primary need to secure employment to pay off that debt, and the extremely hierarchical character of the profession (that extends into the classroom) all tend to inhibit the free discussion that would allow for critical inquiry.

    I don't mean to suggest that PhD programs are all roses -- but discussions are more open when grad students don't carry the weight of student loans, and when they are in the classroom out of love for the subject rather than as a means to an end. (I do not mean that last part to be read pejoratively -- I'm in law school to become a lawyer, not to pretend to do research in economics or history or critical theory. That's what my PhD was for.)

    I'm actually largely satisfied with my legal education. I don't try to get more out of lectures than they can provide, I seek out clinics and practical classes, and having experienced peer-reviewed scholarship, I stay away from the journals and legal scholarship. I'm content, and the job market has played out reasonably well for me.

    But it is crazy to justify the costs of law school through the development of critical thinking skills. A good professional education is important and valuable. I wish our faculty and administrators focused on delivering that, rather than trying to create second-rate general ed programs.

    1. AGREED. You wrote----A good professional education is important and valuable. JD grads shall able to do/work any related with legal . But did you see, ABA/ State restricted JD grads, no license to practice of law, to give legal advice, draft legal paper for fee?

      No license to practice law can not present a client in the court which I agreed, just like other career needs license, i.g. electrician, CPA, ...etc.

      JD grads being trained for 3-4 years, did not get license to practice of law , can not even give a legal advice, draft a legal paper?

      What is all good about this---professional education is important and valuable.???????

  9. Law professors love writing fan fiction about legal education.


  10. Given the ambiguous state of employment discrimination law, what employer wants people working for him who view life's problems through the prism of litigation potential? William Ockham

  11. Peruse Monster or Craigslist and notice how many job ads explicitly state JD's NEED NOT APPLY! It will open your eyes.

    1. It does open JD grads eyes.
      Monopolized by ABA/ STATE, LICENSE Attorneys,

      JD grads had spent huge money , trained for 3-4 years, even can not touch any legal work. What's good about this?

      We need to convert such unthinkable controlling.

  12. Exactly 2:55. Litigious people are persona non grata in business.

  13. When I read Law Deans say crap like that it makes me want to start firebombing law schools. Why doesn't she just shut the f#ck up and teach real skills instead of the ones she conjured up in her moronic little brain. It still wouldn't justify the cost but at least we'd be learning skills. And its not as if making practical changes are all the tough. Scumbags, the lot of them.

  14. Real skills... like which ones?

  15. If you need to ask you're too stupid to understand.

  16. The kind of thing I thought you would say. You have no idea...

  17. @anonymous 3:50. Seriously, what skills beyond what is available at many modern law schools, in one form or another, do you want taught?

  18. “It’s law graduates who don’t practice law who are often most complimentary about their legal education and the analytic skills they received,” said Judith Areen, a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center."

    I don't find this statement surprising at all. Only graduates who actually practice law learn how unprepared their legal education left them for the practice. Anyone not actually practicing could easily assume the value of their legal education since they have not had the experience of their work (and their "analytic skills") being ripped apart by a supervising attorney, opposing counsel, etc.

  19. I agree with firebombing the schools. After all, when you have nothing to lose things can get dangerous for these flithy criminals. The fact that no one has shot up their deans and professors yet is genuinely surprising. Its going to happen soon, and I must say that I will Celebrate it!

  20. Here's some skills law schools could, but generally don't teach:

    How to read and write a contract.

    How to form various organizations (LLC, C Corp, 501(c), etc).

    Deductive reasoning.

  21. I am not familiar with every law school program, but of the ones I do know something about, all of those things are taught.

  22. Thanks for expounding on the "JD preferred" argument law prof. In my earlier post, the argument made by Matasar to which I referred was made in an interview he gave regarding the pending lawsuit against New York Law School.

    As I recall, the essence of his argument was that graduates of law schools need to look at a longer time horizon, of say 30-40 years post-graduation, when assessing the value of their law degree.

    I have to hope he's right. Because repaying 120k in loans on a 50k salary is very difficult, if one hopes to maintain a middle class lifestyle. Perhaps things will improve. I'm not an exceptionally religious person, but I have to look at my circumstances and think that a higher power may have deliberately impoverished me for a few years so that I might better appreciate what I have.

  23. Four reasons why a law degree is useless and hinders a career outside of practicing law:

    1. Employers think you are a loser if you cannot find a job as a lawyer.

    2. Employers think that they probably cannot get away with abusing you like they abuse other employees (even if the lawyer doesn't know shit about the law).

    3. The employer thinks the lawyer will leave the moment better employment comes up because of course, all lawyers make 250K a year in a law firm.

    4. The most important one and probably the deal killer in most circumstances: the public HATES lawyers.

  24. @5:10: I know at NYU these things aren't taught.

    Contracts will teach you the elements of a contract, but doesn't involve actually reading any (you just read the facts as summarized by the court), and we certainly never had a writing exercise.

    In Corporations we learned the differences between organizations, how to decide what you need, and some stuff about what should go into the bylaws, but we never went through the process of creating the documents.

  25. Law prof, I'd like your take on the various esoteric seminar classes that are offered at various law schools. When I attended one of the tops schools I was appalled that during the typical year, only one advanced criminal law class was offered (and it was filled) while there were boat loads of comparative legal mombo jumbo stiff offered that nobody wanted to take.

    All of these various esoteric seminar classes had one thing on common to me: they were thinly veiled ideological BS courses that had very little practice value for people who wanted to be lawyers. Animal rights law, feminist law, critical race theory, etc, etc,etc.

    Isn't this also part of the problem?

  26. "I've just never really understood the dynamic where HR people don't at least give some of these JD's at least a look or a chance to convince that they're not just disgruntled people who really ARE cut out for law and will jump ship at the first opportunity to practice. I don't know. If I were an HR manager, all I'd do is interview "over-qualified" people to find the one who is going to convince me that he or she really is done with law and has decided it would be much better to start a new career."

    Where do I start. HR people are suspicious of JD degree holders applying for non-legal positions for the following reasons.

    1) The perception that we are all litigious and will find a way to file suit if the job does not work out.

    2) The perception that we are domineering and will not listen, or work well with our bosses or co-workers.

    3) The perception that we will not accept entry level salaries or will be immediately looking for a higher paid job.

    4) When there are often hundreds of applications per job the HR specialist says "why take a risk?"

    is the best article ever written on the subject

  27. Aren't there clinics at NYU that involve teaching drafting contracts?The catalogue says there are. Clinics are a part of law school.

  28. 5:45: That's definitely part of the problem. Schools and professors delude themselves about the opportunities their students have.

    Looking at NYU (I pick on them because they have all my money), Trusts and Estates is offered only once in the 2011/2012 year. It wasn't offered in the 2010/2011, and again only once in 2009/2010. Basically, once every two years. If there's a conflict with another class you want, tough.

    The business law clinic takes only 16 students each year, and there's a class size of about 450. Admin law also only takes 16.

    The school can advertise a wide selection of classes, but they won't disclose all the things that might get in the way of you taking them; small class sizes, not offered frequently, conflicts with other classes you want, and the role the lottery plays in course assignments.

  29. @6:01: See above comment.

    Only 16 students can take the business law clinic each year. It's in the course catalog. Can you take it? You have a better chance of making Law Review.

  30. BL1Y: same deal at USC (the shitty one, that is the one that isn't in California). Maybe there were courses that involved writing contracts--or motions, or whatever--that I didn't take. I dunno. The only actual legal writing practice I got was in my criminal law clinical, and I suppose I learned more about how to actually do shit in that than in every other class combined--but there's only so much you can learn from one case, that you dispose of on motion, even if you "spent" a whole year on it.

    I'm not counting, of course, 1L legal writing classes. Maybe I'm just being pessimistic, but somehow I suspect writing appellate briefs is not something I'm going to do very often. The one memo assignment we had was fine, I suppose.

    5:38: Yeah, that's all probably true, although it seems sort of silly of hiring authorities outside of law to think that way. (1) doesn't make one an idiot, it just makes one a failure in a very competitive field; for (2) it doesn't require three years in law school to realize that working off the clock or being asked to do dangerous shit is unlawful, and I'd imagine J.D.s are probably easier to treat like human garbage than anyone else, since it's what we expect;(3) is true of any employee, anywhere, that is not literally chained to something nailed down; (4) I got nothing for this, unfortunately. Doctors have it better in this regard. Sure, you only see a doctor or lawyer when things have gone wrong, but at least there's not a second doctor on the other side, advocating for your disease to finish you off.

    5:45: I actually sort of like the existence of those sort of classes, with the caveat that the climate change law course I took involved more work (little of it particularly legal in nature) than every other course I was taking combined, including the clinical, due to the instructors deciding it would be a good idea to use the entire class as unpaid RAs for a paper they were writing.

    Granted, at the prices 2 and especially 3Ls pay to participate in such quasi-bogus classes, and the fact that there are *way* better uses of that time and money (more clinics, for example), I'm certainly sympathetic to the idea of getting rid of them--no matter how much I do enjoy thinly veiled ideological BS.

  31. Oh, yeah, and to mention, clinics at my school used a lottery system too. Not everybody who wanted to get into one could. I'm practically certain that you couldn't take two.

  32. @ BL1Y, maybe they weren't there when you were there, but I did just a cursory look at the catalogue and saw several non-clinic upper level courses where drafting and construction of contracts were parts of the course description. If you did not take those courses, you do not know that this material was not covered.

  33. We should get back to the topic of firebombing the law schools and how there MUST be some recent graduates that are so disgruntled they are ready to take violent action. After all, they have almost nothing to lose.

    Shouldn't this be a concern to the criminal deans and professors? You simply can't treat people like dirt, ruin their lives, and not expect some sort of retribution.


  34. My 3L year there was only one class that offered any deals side drafting, it looks like that's only a tiny portion of the class, and you only draft individual clauses, not an entire contract.

    There are a few classes this year that have some sort of drafting, but what you won't see is something like a 1-2 hour drafting course offered twice a semester, such that it's a realistic option for anyone who wants to take it.

  35. @6:56 p.m.:

    Bench Press Guy is probably the closest thing we have to a lone nut ready to explode on his former law school. Look for somebody telling everybody else how they lack the guts/balls to do something real, and then dare him to firebomb his school until the appropriate headline appears.

  36. I don't wanna incite.

    How about public suicide? It worked for Thich Quang Duc. I've considered it.

  37. BL1Y--I don't want to prolong this, but it is not true that law schools do not offer classes on drafting contracts. You have a specific set of things in mind, a specific way you think it should be done. But that is just your preference. I just looked at the offerings at Stanford and Fordham. They have a number of courses covering this, where that will be a part of the class. I guess there is a problem with taking a personal experience at one place --at one period--and extrapolating that across 200 law schools.

  38. I think the bottom line is this: a J.D., in and of itself, does not qualify you to do anything other than practice law. If you apply for a job, and (putting aside the J.D. for a minute) there is nothing about your background that suggests any particular interest or aptitude for the job, adding a J.D. is not going to somehow solve that deficiency. Among the reactions you'll get from employers, from worst to best:

    1. I don't understand why someone with a law degree wouldn't be able to find a job as a lawyer. There must be something seriously wrong with them that isn't apparent from their resume. I may bring them in for an interview just to see what an unemployed lawyer looks like, but I'm not touching this person with a ten-foot pole.

    2. I'm aware that the legal market is bad, so I understand why they're applying for this position, but I hate lawyers/believe they make bad employees because they tend to be litigous/overly risk averse. I have no interest in hiring one. I may bring them in for an interview, however, so I can tell them that.

    3. I'm aware that the legal market is bad, so I understand why they're applying for this position, but going to law school was obviously a huge blunder on their part. We don't want to hire a candidate who has such poor judgement.

    4. This field clearly isn't their first choice. We need to hire a candidate who's more committed to the field.

    5. I don't necessarily hate lawyers or think poorly of law school grads, but they just don't have the right skills for the job. We need to hire a candidate who's a better fit.

    6. I feel kind of bad for this person; they're really in a tough position, and on a certain level I wish I could help them. But there's just nothing in their background that ties in with this job in any way. If there was, I might consider hiring them; they're probably smart enough to do the job, and we could probably teach them the skills they need. But we need to hire a candidate who has the right background/if I hire someone from "outside the box" and they don't work ,that's on me; that's a risk I just can't take.

    Conversely, if you do have a background in the industry in question, and there is a logical progression from what you've done in the past to a legal-related position (e.g., compliance, regualtory, contracts), a J.D. may actually help you. The percentage of law grads who have this type of background is a tiny minority, however. In addition, many of these people set out from day one of law school to do this, and continue working in the industry in question while they attend law school; a disporportionate number can be found in part-time/evening programs. In other words, it's not something most people can just decide to do upon graduating and not being able to find a legal job.

    It's also possible that practicing law for a few years will leave someone in the above position, but once again, you have to somehow end up with just the right background, and only a tiny minority of practicing attorneys do. It's also theoretically possible for someone who couldn't find a legal position to end up there through gaining non-legal experience in an industry after law school, but that's an even longer shot. These things can happen, but one cannot count on them to.

  39. If you come anywhere near fitting the following description -- and a significant percentage of law grads do -- a J.D. absolutely will not help you in the non-legal job market. Best case scenario, it will be neutral. If it has any effect at all, it can only hurt you:

    --You went to law school straight out of a college, or after spending a year or two in between in a dead-end job.

    --You undergrad degree is in a subject that is fairly useless in the job market, e.g., liberal arts.

    --Any work experience you have is in typical "work your way through college"/"first job out of college for someone who can't find a job doing anything else" positions, e.g., retail, restaurants, unskilled manual labor.

  40. A decade out of law school here. Moved to a new market and my speciality area is pretty much dead, so I can't get a legal job. And I haven't even been able to get a single interview for a non-legal job. My experience in this job market backs up all of the reasons enumerated above that a J.D. is actually a huge hindrance in the job market. (And by the way, I've been looking for work for 2.5 years now. FML, so hard.)

    1. This is a big problems in out law school + ABA/ STATE , THEY DID NOT SEE what JD grads had trained + abilities what they can do if does not have licensed.

      What a false hope in law school? If you JD grads did not get licensed to practice, you worth nothing, you wasted money , time for 3-4 years + debts.

      ABA/STATE limited JD grads can not give advice,and draft legal paper for fee, can not present client in the court , what else JD grads can do? Really nothing, except hanging up your diploma on the wall. Good looking.

      We need to change ,we need to push forward this aspect to be valuable and useful.

  41. @8:02(1): There are two distinct issue, one is what I think schools ought to offer. The other is whether what schools say they offer accurately reflects opportunities students have.

    If a school says "we offer opportunities to study contract drafting," that could mean anything from a full contract drafting class, to having 1 class offered once a year which mostly covers other topics, but spends 4 of 25 class sessions on drafting, and only 5% of the students can take the class.

    I think when a student hears that he can take a class on drafting contracts, he imagines the former, and would be rightfully disappointed if the latter is all he gets. Schools need to be more forthcoming and more exact when describing what they offer so that gaps in offerings can be identified and corrected. Many professors are woefully unaware of what other professors teach, even within their own discipline, so they have no idea what the gaps are.

  42. For some reason, lately I want to say the word "son" a lot like a black person would. Like,

    "That's right, son!"

    "You messed up, son!"

    "You done got schooled, son!"

    I don't know where I picked this up. Any ideas?

  43. whoops wrong forum (but feel free to answer)

  44. BL1Y We are not going to get anywhere with this. I just do not think you can say what is not happening in classes you did not take, and at schools you did not attend. You are saying that you know for a fact that the courses that say students will learn drafting aren't really covering that.

  45. At yet, professors can say what their school and schools in general teach, despite also not attending those classes.

  46. Whatever you say...

    But you know you overstepped.

    Again whatever you say.

  47. BL1Y, you seem to drink too much. Can I ask when you started? Was it in college or law school? By started I mean started drinking heavily and consistently.

  48. @ Mikoyan

    Do not commit suicide. Contact me through email. I've setup a throw away email address where you can email me your contact/facebook whatever info.

  49. to the guy arguing with BL1Y, are you an idiot or a troll or a pedant? Do you not understand that law school does not prepare one to take the bar or offer anything substantive AS A WHOLE to make one a working lawyer upon graduation and handing over $150,000.

  50. I was addressing his specific claim that law schools do not offer classes on drafting. That was it.

  51. There are also numerous perspectives on drafting. Some believe that all you have to do is change the names and date, and hit print. Others believe you must understand the history and law behind every provision. Then others are somewhere inbetween.

  52. Mikoyan, Can you go back to your pre law school life, get a job at a diner or something and forget about law school? Try to block it out of your mind?

  53. @9:23: I take umbrage with that, sir!

    Now, objectively you could say I drink a large amount relative to my body weight, or that I drink far more than the average of my peers. But, sir, saying I drink "too much" is a moral judgment, and that is not appropriate talk in these comments.

    To answer your question though, I went to school at Alabama for undergrad, so there was no transition between starting to drink and drinking heavily. The incident where a dean crashed into my hotel room looking for gin aside, there's jolly college heavy drinking, and then there's addiction levels of drinking (and I do draw the House-esque distinction between an addiction and a problem), and in college it was just happy go lucky binges punctuated with days of not drinking at all.

    Same with law school, until 3L year. I had left over money from my summer gig, and a crushing realization that I hated law. That's enough to start a very bad habit.

  54. Do you drink Southern drinks, like mint juleps?

  55. I was joking, more or less.

    It'd be a lie to say I wasn't suicidal at various points throughout the past year--and even though I'd say at least half of that involves personal components not directly attributable to LS or lack of legal jobs,* if I were to have done it I'd have definitely done it in public, especially during the Occupy thing since I felt that a good public suicide would have galvanized sympathy for the movement and the poor outcomes for overeducated young people in the U.S., law students most definitely included.

    Like I said, it worked for raising awareness of the Buddhist Crisis in Diem's Vietnam, and also of the problems with the economy in Tunisia and of British rule in Ireland. I definitely feel if you're going to commit suicide anyway, if your motivation for doing so has a dimension which affects the nation, you should make it into a fully political act.

    Anyway, lately my life has made signs of stabilizing. For example, I have a job (granted, a literally minimum wage job--and I mean "literally" literally, as in $7.25 per hour, which is oddly about half what I made in the same industry prior to LS.** But it's better than nothing.

    The point is, I'm dealing with it? Sort of? Got parents that love me, if for poorly founded reasons, and have simple tastes in material goods. That's all to my advantage.

    Nevertheless, thank you. But don't sweat the contact. Albeit maybe to the annoyance of others, I'm not uncomfortable discussing these issues in (semi-)public. Hey, at least I'm less repetitive than that guy who's used the "4% depressed at matriculation/40% depressed at graduation" statistic about fifty times.

    *Although the relationship breakdown, and the lack of anything plausible to replace it, which is probably the core of my depression may be *indirectly* attributable to law school, it's probably unfair to say so.

    Also, I made some really really poor decisions my 3L year based on the "versatility" of a law degree, and on the naive and frankly stupid belief that I could get out of this state and fall ass-backwards into the civil service and not have to struggle in the blood and mud with all the other pigs, i.e. in the battered legal field itself, at least until a time and on terms largely of my choosing, notionally when the legal sector "imrpoved," and in a jurisdiction that I actually wanted to live in. I didn't quite reckon on being turned down for everything from a GS-11 contract specialist to GS-3 file clerk positions, with the only glimmer a "intermittent paralegal specialist" that would only be activated if a hurricane/oil well/nuclear bomb went off in the Gulf of Mexico.

    So that's not strictly LS's fault either, though their representations about what JDs are good for didn't help.

    That said, I think I'd have been extremely poorly positioned to get work as a licensed attorney either here or elsewhere, and I'd have sunk significant costs into trying to make a life in this jurisdiction, with no reciprocity to any other, which is something I didn't want to do--but anyway, we'll find out, I'm taking the SC bar after all in July. I'm sure everything will go swimmingly; I'm only in the same position someone who failed the bar twice would be in.

    **And you bet I'm filling out my survey in full. Enjoy computing that "salary" of $15,080 a year!

  56. 10:27: Indeed, I'm working in a restaurant currently. That's the minwage job referred to above. I waited tables for almost three years, and since I actually reported my income and paid my taxes (an exception in the field, to be sure), I know I made about $29,000 a year in my last waiter job. (The only uncertainty is that I never worked a full tax year there, but extrapolating the $17,000 for seven months in 2008 to a full year is conservative, since the holidays are big times for restaurants.)

    I was even given managerial responsibilities there. Nothing special, but potentially quite rewarding (one of my former coworkers who did become a manager makes about $40k before bonuses and about $55 afterward. College dropout. Interestingly, according to him every single server they've hired since he was promoted *does* have a college degree.)

    Restaurants which I've applied to since May haven't looked at me much. I got this job as a favor to a friend. (Another underemployed law grad, at that--who'd worked with the owners while in school. And still does. It doesn't quite beat the ~100% college-educated staff of my old restaurant, but this place has more J.D.s than many actual law offices.)

  57. Given that law schools like to argue that a legal education makes one employable in other fields, wouldn't it be good to know how many non-legal employers come to on campus interviews? Afterall, doesn't it make sense that non legal employers would take advantage of OCI if they were in such hot pursuit of these vaunted analytical skills?

  58. 5:20, The bitch was lying. That's what she is, a dumb lying bitch.

  59. The way that lawyers used to learn how to draft a contract is by taking one of the forms, i.e., used, actual contracts, available at their job/firm, and looking at it with the benefit of their legal understanding. Then it would all click. There are two problems with this now. 1) There aren't jobs- this method of learning only applies to a small percentage of law grads. 2) Firms have become so rapacious, profit hungry and billing driven that the idea of a young associate having time to peruse some of the firm's old documents to figure things out and learn a little bit is quaint. So its not just the schools, but the profession itself which has failed. Schools are doing what they've always done. Do they have to change to keep up with reality and the profession's failure? As long as there are dopey law school administrators out there saying things like hey, you've been educated and licensed, why not hang a shingle, yes. Yes they do, and until they do, they're just thieves.

  60. I agree 8am. No one ever wrote a K from scratch. You took someone else's K and marked it up. But should law schools teach you where to find boilerplate Ks for most any situation you will encounter? I think that would be nice. That's what a contracts course should be.

  61. That's precisely the kind of instruction law professors are least qualified to teach.

    Which form book is widely considered the best? They won't have a clue. Is there anything you need to know about a signature page? Probably won't know that either. Is there a standard way of naming a contract? Does the buyer's or seller's name come first?

  62. To BL1Y and others arguing that law school needs to be more skills orientated:

    Having gone to a TR1 school, you may not be aware that many lower-tiered schools teach and emphasize skills as a means to compete w/ higher-tiered schools. You argue that most law schools don't teach contract drafting or setting up businesses. This may be true of higher-tiered schools. I graduated from a lower-tiered school. Yet I (and almost all of my fellow graduates) graduated law school having conducted NUMEROUS full-length trials from start to finish (I conducted 5 by the time I had graduated), having argued numerous times in front of judges, having written contracts, motions, complaints, answers, briefs, memos, court opinions, and having drafted statutes. I also graduated having interviewed clients NUMEROUS TIMES and having taken a case from start to finish.

    When I completed internships (and I did a few), I almost never had to be taught or instructed - I was simply given an assignment -write a motion/brief/opposition/writ, etc. - and came back w/ a finished product that was submitted to the court after my supervisors' review with no corrections made. In other words, I and my fellow grads could be hired tomorrow and are ready to hit the ground running.

    However, it is precisely the lower-tiered graduates who are most likely unable to find a job. Because of this, I don't buy the argument that if graduates were better trained they would have a better chance at finding a job. You may not be aware, BL1Y, but there are many well-trained lower-tiered graduates, who, the day after graduation are ready to write and review contracts for their employers and are ready to take a case from start to finish with little or no supervision. However, it is precisely these graduates who are most likely not to be hired.

    If the practice ready graduates aren't being hired and the graduates from first-tiered schools aren't being hired, then guess what? It's not a problem with the training. It's a problem of simple oversupply. And employers are taking advantage of the situation by whatever means to pay less, and that includes using the argument that graduates should be paid less simply due to lack of skills. And we are allowing them to cheapen the value of our degree by buying into that.

  63. You're comparing apples and oranges. The fact that lower tiered grads aren't being hired is almost certainly because of the tier of the school, not the type of education provided there. That doesn't tell us if once you cross the rank threshold your skills training makes a difference.

    And, you have to consider the larger number of students going solo, where that experience will make a big difference, regardless of what hiring managers care about.

    We have also seen plenty of large institutional clients refusing to have first and second years staffed on their cases. They're cheaper by the hour, but require longer hours due to their inexperience. That greatly depresses the demand for young lawyers.

    Greater skills training might not open up many doors, but is there any chance it would close them? I can't imagine employers saying "no no, I don't want to hire you because you know how to form a corporation, I need someone who can discuss sociological origins of the Occupy movement."

  64. You are right. It is astonishing to see so many people take employers' word at face value. They do not want to pay anyone...workers, lawyers...anyone. And they are sitting on more piles of cash than any people since the Gilded Age--partners and the companies who hire them. And the problem schools aren't teaching students to be practice ready on Day One. Right..and as you say, they will not hire at places that do teach more skills.

  65. BL1y: I'd have to think graduates of lower-tiered schools would be at a great advantage in going solo if only they had lower debt. It's the fact that the "skills training" school costs the same as a big firm feeder schools that really hampers the options of these graduates. Instead they are forced to take jobs at small firms, who do not have the same pressure biglaw firms do to keep salaries at a market level.

  66. I call complete bullshit on this idea that "lower tiered schools" teach actual skills in law school.

    I graduated from the shit third tier law school called the University of Arkansas -

    This shit school DID NOT teach me ANYTHING about law practice.

    When I confronted the garbage Dean who makes 200k+ per year about the lack of actual skill, her response was, "Well, our tuition is very low, and that gives our graduates A LOT of flexibility!"

    Kill this idiot. NOW.

    1. See this what ABA/ STATE made for JD grads ?
      Worse to come/ being ruled --ABA/STATE limited JD grads can not give advice,and draft legal paper for fee, can not present client in the court , what else JD grads can do? Really nothing, except hanging up your diploma on the wall. Good looking.

      We shall convert their restrictions, we shall push forward whoever grads law school are able to do legal work for client for fee. Law grads had 3-4 years training why not can not do legal work? Why has to be only licensed attorney ?

      ABA/STATE can only be a watch dog , as disciplinarian for those legal workers for disciplinary.

  67. "The fact that lower tiered grads aren't being hired is almost certainly because of the tier of the school, not the type of education provided there." - BL1Y

    BL1Y: That's exactly my point. Regardless of the training a person receives, he or she is going to be told by an employer that he or she is going to get paid less. That's not because of a lack of training. That's because of the market and the fact that employers are taking advantage of it royally.

    If greater skills training won't open up any doors, then why are bloggers focusing on it as if it is going to change the status quo of the current situation? The large number of lower-tiered graduates who have graduated from a skills-oriented school who still remain unemployed are a testament to the fact that focusing on increasing skills training at law schools isn't going to change anything.

    What needs to change are two things, one that bloggers currently have focused on and one that they have not: the law schools and the legal market. Law schools have gotten plenty of focus so I don't need to add to it. But some of the dishonest practices being used by legal employers (some are even illegal) are getting little focus and they are severely damaging the market, practices such as continually hiring unpaid interns to do the work or hiring individuals for wages that end up amounting to less than minimum wage. And I probably don't need to mention the effect that opening up the market to foreign attorneys who have not incurred the same amount of debt for their legal education that American attorneys are required to do has done to the legal market.

    I think it's great to continue to put the legal education industry under scrutiny. But legal employers who have exploited the situation to the point that they are not only destroying the futures of upcoming attorneys but are also damaging the profession and the country as a whole (afterall, it's the American public who is on the hook for all these loans that graduates can't pay back because they are continually doing legal work for free) should also be scrutinized.

  68. Not everyone goes to a lower tier school, in fact, 25% of students are in a top 50 school.

    If those schools focused more on practical skills, you might see a change in hiring for those students.

    It obviously doesn't fix the whole market, but it's certainly an improvement.

  69. True, but if learning practical skills didn't improve the employment options of the other 75% of the students (and from what I hear from my fellow unemployed graduates, it didn't), I doubt it will change things much.

    Again, I think that when the market is allowed to commit hiring abuses that are not scrutinized, a large portion of the problem will remain and I say this because I see the huge damage being done by ignoring the federal law on the restrictions on internships. I recently did a job search in the public sector and discovered that about 80% of the 'jobs' offered were unpaid internships.

    How the hell is anyone going to get a job (skilled or unskilled as that individual may be) if there aren't jobs to begin with? This is killing the market and taking advantage of individuals who are so desperate to remain in the legal field that they will do almost anything. While a few partners or leaders of organizations and certain members of the public may benefit initially from the free labor, ultimately, the graduates, everyone else in the profession and the general public ends up paying the price in the future.

  70. 1:13 again.

    PS: I guess you could say I have a somewhat personal stake in the matter. I recently heard from a fellow graduate who was hired at a firm for $500 a month to work 80-hour workweeks. He was told by the employer that the employer was doing him a favor by taking him under his wing and teaching him, as he hadn't learned any skills in law school. He readily acquiesced, although I should mentioned he had graduated and had been working in legal jobs for at least two years. Several months later he found out that the employer thought that his skills were apparently valuable enough to charge the client $250 an hour. (My friend, meanwhile, was making less than $2 an hour for 'learning,' and he was one of the practice-ready graduates I referred to in an earlier post. His employer rarely had to teach him anything.)

    They will pay what you ask for. If we don't believe our skills are worth anything and don't demand a sufficient salary for them, they won't pay it. And buying into the law school doesn't teach you anything is just feeding into their excuse as to why they don't have to pay us anything for our labor.

  71. Law Prof. If it is a scam, which I believe it is, why are you staying inside the bullish*t? Quit your job and come out! Be a man or woman!

    1. Thanks Law Pro, brought up this blog.
      As law Pro. indication---- J.D. not preferred
      A crisis facing law school graduates, and even some acknowledgement of the extent to which law schools are no longer operating on the basis of a sustainable business model.

      I would like t point it out reasons---ABA/STATE limited JD grads unable to give legal advice, unable to draft any legal paper for fee, unable present client in court, ..which restricted any legal work for JD grads( who does no obtained license to practice). What let can do? NOTHING. The consequence is why youngest go to law school for?

      PLUS, licensed attorney can not cross state to present client freely unless registered with court first.

      ABA/ STATE shall evaluate law grads abilities and valuation, whether licensed or not. . ABA/ STATE can be a center of disciplinary for attorney, JD grads, legal workers ,whoever work with legal materials. By this ways will gain---1>getting more students to law school.2>boots finance for law school.3>more jobs created in society. 4> gain competition legal works for people. know what is a quality work , what is a quality legal workers.

  72. Being posted this issue---JD grads can not give legal advice?!!!!!This is a seriously issue, why not have been discussing /discovered about? why no one look in to the law systems crafted the inhibitions. Such unthinkable controlling is violated FIRST AMENDMENT OF US constitution.

    JD grad , no license, still shall/ can give legal advice to the one needs , which in return people/client will not afraid / deter by licensed attorney.

    MONOPOLIZATION system a pushing law systems to the edge,shadowed,mazed the future/ new comers.

  73. The law school is not a scam, Law Profs, are not scammers, they are pretty competent . The only obstacle is---- ABA/ STATE COURT set the rule , prohibited JD grads can not give legal advice/ bring client to the court. Which is --monopolized controlling law systems and schools/ Law Profs, and JD grads.
    The rule is --violated FIRST AMENDMENT --US CONSTITUTION.
    The real scammers are ABA/ STATE COURT,setting such rule to abetting license attorney to scam on the one needs legal help....freely.
    ABA/STATE COURT set that rule undermined JD grads abilities, in returned school/ Law Profs are incompetent.


  74. ABA does not have authority to accredit law school,. ABA is a profit association gets into law areas, does not have AUTHORITY given accreditation to each law school. The law schools shall NOT take ABA into account , binding by it. Only each State in US , has authority given law school accreditation.

    Law school self is NOT a schemer, so as law professors. They are doing academic education, same as other degree learning.
    J.D. degree grads obtaining degree that had paid and learned. Its a law degree ,as same as other legal professionals. SHALL be able giving a legal advice to a client. ONLY if not licensed , then unable present a client in the court as behalf of client, as mouthpiece to the client , which I agreed.

    NOW, the rule came down from ABA and Each State complied together prohibited J.D. who had no license , CAN NOT give a legal advice ,......WHICH IS TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE. SUCH RULING.


  75. LAW PROF. IS FIRST AND ONLY ONE TOLD THE JD GRADS who had been trained for 3-4 years facing big problems .
    NO one , even judge, even ABA/ STATE SUPREME COURT PANELS are silent for law grads, the worst being made is ABA/ each State prohibited law grads, J.D. ( who has no license) CAN NOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE. YOU see? Such inhibition violated US Constitution---FIRST AMENDMENT--FREE SPEECH.
    Each person can give a legal advice , even 3 years old child too. The mater is the person takes in or not. i.e giving medicines input, the matter is the person will take it in or not. i.e. advice person eating taco bell will get slim/fat, the matter is the person will take that advice or not. SO, paralegal, J.D giving legal advice does not constituent illegal . ABA/ State set such rule purposely, strip down the people's knowledge . , to abetting only license attorney twist the law as wants. What / where ethic rules? Is ABA/State permit them to twist?
    ABA is a profit association does not have authority to accredit each law school, .....only State can do. But whether grads from accredited law school or not, if once been in and paid tuition , .trained as set for credits, graduated from it, the title of J.D.earned. As a professional with other fields degree grads. Giving a legal advice who needs is certainty.

    The rule came down from ABA/ State to PROHIBITED J.D. of free speech on legal issue ,..... is lunatic, unreasonable, unacceptable. We need to revise it.


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