Monday, February 13, 2012

Trap schools

Sports, and particularly college football, feature the concept of a "trap game."  A trap game is one that, for a variety of factors, a team is more likely to end up losing than a superficial glance at the team's opponent would suggest (For instance, a classic trap game scenario involves a strong team playing a lightly regarded but actually pretty good opponent on the road the week before a clash with a powerful traditional rival).

In honor of Wednesday's nine-month NALP reporting deadline, I'd like to introduce the concept of a trap school.  A trap school has the following characteristics:

(1) It's expensive to attend.

(2)  It's located in what the sort of people who go to law school tend to consider a desirable place to live (obviously these first two factors are related).

(3) It has superficially attractive employment and salary statistics.

A trap school, in other words, is the kind of place that attracts the kind of highly-qualified, reasonably prudent 0Ls who would never consider attending the vast majority of law schools at anything like sticker price, and yet still ends up generating a very high risk of financial and personal disaster for its students.  (Of course as long as law schools can get away with publishing misleading employment and salary statistics there are going to be a lot more trap schools than there would be otherwise, since it will be much easier for schools to make those statistics appear superficially attractive even to the reasonably prudent future victim of institutional malfeasance).

Under current conditions, some good examples of trap schools include USC, George Washington, and Fordham. (Many other schools qualify as trap schools to greater and lesser extents. In a more limited sense even HYS have become trap schools under current conditions.)  Students who enroll this fall at these schools without the benefit of "merit" -- i.e., cross-subsidized by their fellow law students -- scholarships can expect to spend between $225,000 and $250,000 in tuition and cost of living expenses by the time they graduate.  Now it ought to be obvious that, for people who don't come from The Blessed Realm of the One Percent or closely adjacent precincts, this constitutes a ruinous sum of money, given that such people will have to borrow most or all of that sum in the form of very high interest non-dischargeable loans.

It should also be obvious that the only employment outcomes that makes any economic sense for someone making this sort of investment is a job with a law firm that pays a six-figure starting salary, or a public interest job which qualifies for an unusually well-funded LRAP program. (I'm not going to address the PI/LRAP option in this post, except to note that PI jobs are becoming a good deal harder to get than big firm jobs, and that only a small handful of schools have anything like well-funded LRAP programs).

What are the odds that someone enrolling at these law schools will get such a job?  Since all these schools report median starting salaries well into six figures for those of their graduates who take private sector jobs and whose salaries are reported to NALP, our reasonably prudent highly qualified paragon could easily think that the answer is an encouraging one, especially on the basis of a not particularly skeptical perusal of the employment statistics published by these schools. The real answer can be deduced by adding together the number of graduates who get jobs with big law firms or clerkships with federal judges, and comparing it to the total number of graduates.  The latest figures for these three schools are 33% for USC and 29% for Fordham and GW.

Now this method is subject to various objections.  First, it could be pointed out that I'm limiting big firm jobs to jobs with Am Law 250 firms.  Yet while this isn't an exact proxy for such jobs, it appears to be a very good one. For example, in 2010 127 GW grads got Am Law 250 jobs, while the school reported that 134 grads obtained jobs with firms of more than 250 attorneys.  In addition, given that  less than 3% of the class got jobs with firms of 100 to 250 attorneys, it seems that reported employment with firms of more than 250 attorneys closely tracks total employment with firms that pay the sort of starting salaries that would make attending GW at sticker an arguably good choice (There are of course all sorts of problems with the assumption that someone who ends up getting a big firm job therefore spent the $225,000 to $250,000 it cost to get it wisely, but that's a separate argument).

A second objection is that 2010 was a particularly bad year for big firm hiring.  (See these comments from DJM to get a sense of both how much GW's big firm employment statistics deteriorated between 2008 and 2010, and how deceptively the relevant numbers are presented by the school).  Now that's certainly true from a backward-looking perspective, but this objection is itself subject to a couple of rather big caveats.  First, it's far from clear to what extent, if at all, the downturn in big firm hiring is cyclical as opposed to structural.  Given this uncertainty, it's imperative that, as DJM also points out, law schools update their publically-available employment statistics immediately to reflect the data they'll be reporting this month to NALP regarding the class of 2011.

Second, even if big firm hiring comes back to a significant extent, this will not by any means solve the fundamental mismatch problem between what the cost of law school has become and what the return on investment is likely to be.  If one makes the in my view extremely optimistic assumption that big firm hiring numbers will improve by 50% over the next few years, that would still mean that more than half of the classes at schools such as USC, GW, and Fordham won't be getting such jobs.  And keep in mind that these schools are all ranked around the 90th percentile of ABA-accredited law schools. These are, relatively speaking, elite (or at least sub-elite) institutions.  There are literally a hundred law schools that are not much if at all cheaper, yet have vastly worse employment outcomes than what I'm calling trap schools.

And this, fundamentally, is the problem.  Legal education now has a cost structure that only makes sense, on average, for graduates who get jobs that pay six-figure starting salaries.  But at the vast majority of law schools less than 10% of graduates get such jobs.  Trap schools fall into the gap between the tiny group of schools at which enough graduates are currently getting such jobs that spending $200K+ isn't an extraordinarily risky gamble, and the huge number of schools at which, even under our current far less than transparent conditions, spending that kind of money is obviously reckless behavior for graduates who aren't either independently wealthy or children of hiring partners at successful law firms that don't have anti-nepotism policies.


  1. And we should assume that a sizable percentage of these students also have substantial undergraduate student debt.

    It is not unusual for private colleges to charge $30k or more for tuition (and board can add $15k or more to this). That means that some law students are in debt at $400k and more when they take their $40k lawyer job (if they can find it).

    1. You no know math. 30,000+15,000=45,000
      That interest rate would have to be astronomically illogically large to more than triple the cost of the loan.

  2. Great article:

    I ways thought the students at the super-elite schools (HYS) never paid full sticker. I guess some do?

  3. If they are very rich they do.

  4. Another point that has been made elsewhere but should be emphasized is that this cost structure makes sense only for graduates who not only obtain six figure jobs but also keep them until they have substantially paid off their student debt. The normal repayment period is, I understand, 10 years. The number of graduates hired into Biglaw who retain those jobs for 10 years is tiny. Most can count on being back on the market in three to five years. And the days when those firms took pride in placing their cast off associates in prestigious jobs with corporate clients, or even had the ability to do so, are over.

  5. I nominate NYLS as a "Deathtrap" law school.

  6. It is interesting that one of the plaintiffs lawyers in the latest suits against law schools -- Frank Raimond -- went to Fordham but chose not to include that school in the list of defendants.

  7. 8:15 am nailed it. The firms are no longer that interested in training associates in how to practice law. Many now want their associates practice-ready, upon hiring them. (This stems from the fact that many corporate clients have caught onto that scam, and they no longer wish to pay large amounts of money so that firms can train these new lawyers.)

    The other day, someone asked me "Don't some firms help pay off their associates' student loans? I mean, they could use that to recruit the best lawyers."

    Holding back tears of laughter, I said, "It is truly a employer's market. You have so many desperate attorneys out there. The firms do not need to offer such a carrot. Furthermore, most of these new associates do not know how to practice law, prior to working for a firm. The days of employers paying for employees' tuition are LONG GONE, and even that was a rarity. Why pay this expense, when you can hire among a throng of experienced, skilled attorneys?!"

    Trap schools include those that are "solidly" first or second tier - and "flagship" law schools, in their respective states. While it may be better for a Wyoming resident, hoping to practice law in that state, to attend the somewhat affordable local university than going to law school in New York and returning to Wyoming, at many states this is not a strong option.

    Many state schools are now charging $35K-$45K+ for in-state tuition. (The poor suckers who pay the out-of-state rate are truly taking on a mountain of non-dischargeable debt.)

  8. @8:15 Thank you. You are right on. That first job is for at least 80%, probably 90+%, essentially a temporary job. Again, a huge percentage of lawyers who win the biglaw lottery will make the most they will ever make in their life, inflation adjusted, during the first 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 years at a biglaw gig. After that, the vast majority will once again be looking for an inhouse job, a small firm, going solo or using the critical thinking skills they learned in law school at something else. Of course, at least that relatively short biglaw gig will allow the select to pay down their massive student loans to some extent. What a disgusting, immoral, fraudulent, pathetic business!!

  9. All the big 10 schools (exception being Northwestern, Michigan) are all huge traps. The amount of SAs coming out of some of these schools is ridiculously TTT small despite the academic standing and desirability that the Big 10 normally entails.

    The fact that midwest (Chicago) market sucks ass is also a factor relevant to making them traps. NY biglaw is growing while Chicago is being destroyed.

    Schools like Indiana, Ohio St., Illinois and Wisconsin might be high T1s, but the place like TTTs. People pay full board for these places as well, expecting biglaw.

  10. Wisconsin is a TTT.

  11. Ohio State is the worst on that list. I'm glad DJM is on the case, I bet the OSU numbers turn out to be completely terrible.

  12. Not so much trap schools as crap schools, then.

  13. If you are from out of state, Minnesota Law is a huge trap. It costs a lot of money, is a T20 school and places people as if they were coming out of TTTs.

  14. Aside: I haven't received an NALP employment survey, or indeed any kind of employment survey from my school. Has anyone reported directly to NALP and bypassed their school?

  15. At $35,000 per year and rising rapidly, in-state tuition at Minnesota isn't exactly a great bargain any more either.

  16. All of the University of California schools are now at over 42k for IN STATE tuition!!! Hilarious. And they were having so much fun in in California, they brought Chemerinsky over to start a 5th overpriced unnecessary state law school at the UC Irvine campus!

  17. A few schools on this list:

    1. Brooklyn
    2. Loyola
    3. NYLS
    4. Pepperdine
    5. Miami
    6. Florida

  18. Over the weekend, an 0L asked me what I thought of Seton Hall Law School. I told him that he should ask General Ackbar (of Star Wars lore).

  19. Professor:

    It may have been proposed or written or your blog, but there's a very very simple way to avoid phony and useless employment reporting. A simple way to get rid of all the guessing of placement and salaries is to require a simple grid like I've listed below.

    You don't have to list names, or any personal info. But let it public knowledge for everyone, that of graduating students 1-400 (for example), X reported a salary of 160k+, Y reported no employment, and Z didn't respond at all. This shouldn't even be controversial; medical schools do it every year(such as student 1 is doing internal medicine at hospital x in Chicago and student 2 is doing psychiatry in hospital y in Boston, etc.)

    Student # Employed? Type of Employ. Salary
    1 Yes Private 160k
    2 Yes Private 120k
    3 Yes Clerkship 50k
    4 Yes Volunteer None
    5 Not Avail.
    6 No Seeking LLM
    7 Yes Walmart $8.50 hr
    8 Yes Private-temp $30 hr

  20. IT'S A TRAP!!!

  21. I'm a graduate of one of these schools, fortunately a little while back, right before things changed dramatically, but aspects of the trap were there.

    Another aspect of the trap with these schools is that aside from ok looking stats, these schools have successful alumni out there who remain involved with and proud of the school. A plaque of benefactors somewhere near the entrance might feature the names of prominent law firms. Alumni might sit on the Federal Court of Appeals for where the school is located and others might be name partners in major firms (that they started 40 years ago). These guys talk about their days back at school and how wonderful life has been and you start to feel like you're doing something wrong if you're not in the same position.

  22. @ 11:24 - when did Admiral Ackbar become a general?

  23. @ 11:24

    I would agree with putting Loyola Los Angeles on this list. On the surface, as Prof. Campos states in his post, Loyola appears to be a great school with very successful alumni. Yet, when one digs deeper, one finds that most of these successful alumni graduated decades ago. There are a few graduates of the lates 90's early 2000's who have hit the lottery, but for the most part, many Loyola grads that I know are thankful to just have a paying job. Many are no longer practicing law. The main issue with Loyola is that it is a school that is primarily known for producing litigators (Girardi, Cochran), and with the hiring freeze amongst of the City and state for public defenders & DA's, Loyola grads are left fighting for jobs with USC, UCLA & Pepperdine, all schools that have a higher rank and stronger presence in big law

  24. Loyola doesn't in any way appear to be a good school. Ever heard of Loyola 2L?

  25. Anyone that pays $30K per year for their undergrad tuition shouldn't be allowed to breed.

  26. People who pay 30k for tuition have, oftentimes, already bred. That's why they have kids in college.

  27. I'd like to meet more of them, I have a shiny new Rolex to sell them.

  28. Much better to let them go out into the world with a high school diploma. At least they won't have any debt. Oh, yes....then they can invent Facebook.

  29. It's a tough choice, if only there were undergrad schools that cost less than $30K per year...we could call them state schools or community colleges.

  30. Something else to consider from Chronicle of Higher Education:

    "Last month the authors released new results that should only add to our national worries about higher education. While press coverage of Academically Adrift focused mostly on learning among typical students, the data actually show two distinct populations of undergraduates. Some students, disproportionately from privileged backgrounds, matriculate well prepared for college. They are given challenging work to do and respond by learning a substantial amount in four years.

    Other students graduate from mediocre or bad high schools and enroll in less-selective colleges that don't challenge them academically. They learn little. Some graduate anyway, if they're able to manage the bureaucratic necessities of earning a degree.

    The central problem in American higher education today is that most of the people running things in politics, business, and academe come from the first group, but most of the actual students enrolled in college are in the second group. The former cannot see the latter, because they are blinded by their own experience. And so they think the problems of the many don't exist.

    Now Arum and his colleagues have revealed what happened to those two groups after they left college and entered the unforgiving post-recession economy. Despite a barren job market, only 3.1 percent of students who scored in the top 20 percent of the Collegiate Learning Assessment, which measures critical-thinking skills, were unemployed. Not infrequently, their colleges helped them land the jobs they had. Many struck out on their own and were engaged in civic affairs. Those who got married or cohabitated often did so with someone they met in college. For students like these, the college-driven job and mating markets are functioning as advertised.

    Graduates who scored poorly on the CLA, by contrast, are leading very different lives. It's true that business majors, who were singled out for low CLA scores in Academically Adrift, did better than most in finding jobs. But over all, students with poor CLA results are more likely to be living at home with their parents, burdened by credit-card debt, unmarried, and unemployed.

    Those are inconvenient findings for a higher-education industry that is struggling to make the case for public support in the worst budget environment in memory. College leaders have long excused decades of relentlessly rising prices, exploding student-loan debt, and alarmingly high dropout rates with the assumption that students are learning. The prices are reasonable and the loans repayable, they say, because of the skills and knowledge that students acquire in exchange. And while dropouts are regrettable, we are told, that's an unavoidable—nay, admirable—consequence of maintaining high academic standards."

  31. Some interesting arguments I've been hearing recently are based upon the idea that our society's current educational structure is geared towards the Industrial Revolution ideology. However, we are now in a Digital Revolution and the skills being honed, rewarded, and promoted, are out of sync with the realistic demands of the job market, and those of greater society at large. In my humble opinion, this disconnect, between academia and the real world, is no where greater than that within legal academia/practice. This division would not be of major importance but unfortunately the price being paid for this "education" is coming at a cost equal to a mortgage.

    Sir Ken Robinson summarizes this predicament much more eloquently than I ever could.

  32. I am a 1999 graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School and U of MN was placing graduates very poorly even back then. It has always been a trap school.

    The TTT morons from Hamline and William Mitchell be-stride all hiring for state and county jobs. Be assured that U of MN grads rarely get hired to work for the attorney general or local D.A.

    The U of MN Law School is a nightmare. Most ordinary people in Minneapolis have never even heard of the U of MN Law School, much less heard that it is the state's only tier 1 school. The schools reputation outside of MN is also nil.

  33. Dickens wrote about the Yorkshire Schools in his novel: "Nicholas Nickleby"

    To quote from Dickens in the preface:

    "Of the monstrous neglect of education in England, and the disregard of it by the State as a means of forming good or bad citizens, and miserable or happy men, this class of schools has long afforded a notable example."

    History repeats itself, and in some sort of sense, a bullying 1L law professor in cahoots with all the robbery going about these days is, in my mind, nothing more than a reconstituted Wackford Squeers laying the stick about the shoulders of the students, and, by extension American Humanity.

  34. Interesting analogy. The distinction I'd make is that at the end of the day, the college football team that loses to the inferior opponent has only themselves to blame. They had the necessary information (game film) to prepare, but failed to adequately do so.

    A more accurate analogy would be if the trap schools were sending out false videos to the superior team, like a video of a high school team, in order to deceive the superior team into a false sense of confidence, the way that law schools massage the information to engender a false sense of confidence from their applicants.

  35. This phenomenon, taken to it's logical extreme also illustrates how the ABA's abdication of the role of gatekeeper has further perpetuated the problem.

    For example, if you have a kid that decides to go to Cardozo with a hefty scholarship as opposed to Cornell at sticker price, he could likely do well for himself.

    He can land in the top 10%. He may tell them he turned down Cornell. They may hire him. This is great for him. By finishing fourth in his class at Cardozo, he may well get the same job that he'd have gotten if he were say,in the 52% percentile at Cornell, and he managed to do so with a lot less debt.

    Again, good for him. But you know who it hurts? Every kid that picks up the glossy brochure and sees his picture, proudly displayed with the Biglaw firm's name beneath it, right below average salary information that implies that $150,000 plum jobs are right there for the taking at good old trap school university.

    There may be a couple of other glossy photos, with a couple of other smiling faces of students who got biglaw jobs. It won't, however, say below their names that the first girl has a father who's a partner at the firm, and the other guy has a CEO for an uncle whose business paid for an insane amount of billable hours at said firm over the last five years.

    But to the prospective applicant...what could go wrong? I see these three smiling faces, and the data makes it look like I just can't lose.

    In reality, if there were fewer law schools, the world would not miss out on these top 10% talents at the lower tiered schools, because they'd still have the grades to get into other schools. The most talented kids would still go to law school somewhere, and those who aren't ever going to get jobs practicing law would be far less likely to take on piles of debt for a career that's a dead end for them.

  36. Practicing law is mind-numbingly boring. So, law school, in general, is indeed a trap.

    Clients are even worse, even if one is in-house. The reason why people do not like to hire JDs, as I have discovered, is because they don't want to think long term. Its all short termism.

    While it is important to ask whether students will practice law if they go to these trap, the real question is: Do they want to practice law given what practicing law is?

    I feel everyone who is considering law school should be thrown into the actual work environment a year before attending school to see for 6 months what practicing law really is.

    Bruh Rabbit

  37. I apologize for the cynical post. I spent today dealing with non-lawyer executives. This reminded me that part of the problem with the law is that the "Trap" means more than job prospects. It also means dealing with the cynical nature of the real world of practicing law versus the fantasy pushed by law school.

    Bruh Rabbit

  38. I enjoy practicing far more than law school, although there's definitely some crappy parts it's by far better than law school.

  39. Nothing personal, but anyone who says that they enjoy practicing law is essentially saying they like factory work combined with being in a service industry (e.g., glorified wait staff). Having done both, they are the same process in terms of mental exercise.

    Luckily, I get paid better than factory work. However, not enough to deal with my massive debt, which is why I am intimately aware of the wage stagnation issue.

    In addition, there is the often unethical ways in which clients want lawyers to practice law, so you get to be the "bad" guy and wonder about job security if you don't.

    I guess if someone does not want think too much, keep your head down, etc, its great. If one does happen to naturally be a thinker, it mind numbing boring. The other side of the Trap is the idea that one would be addressing lofty ideas so even if one gets over the hurdles, the actual practice is so cynical.

    Bruh Rabbit

  40. I guess it depends what area you practice in. Higher end legal work can be very challenging but I'll admit the lower end is pretty much plug and chug. Even with what I do there's a lot of shitty parts to it, including the people one has to work with, but it's way better than the bs in law school.

  41. Bruh Rabbit, why isn't enough to say how you feel about practicing law? Why characterize the experience for everyone else? There were times when I was very happy practicing law, and times when I hated it. My spouse enjoyed practice. Even if you enjoy your job, there will be times when it is just dismal.
    It really depends on what kind of law you are practicing, and whether it suits your personality.

  42. (a) 6:57, Today I helped a client (a mid-size company) come up (a) with an outline and time table for risk assessment strategies regarding changes in privacy data laws that affect hte company; and (b) risk assessment regarding the roll out of a new product. I am trying to imagine what you mean by lower level work.

    (b) 7:26, For the same reason that others feel the need to state their opinions here as facts- because I believe I am speaking a bigger truth for most practicing lawyers. Indeed, the data backs up that I am actually speaking for many lawyers on the subject of practicing law:

    The point that I am making is that one should be clear that even if one does obtain a job, the satisfaction level indicates that they are likely not to even like the work. So, what is it that they are working towards anyway even if they circumvent one element of the Trap?

    Bruh Rabbit

  43. 7:54,
    Lower level work is landlord tenant, foreclosure, traffic ticket defense, etc.

  44. The Washington Post article is about Biglaw, which as has been established represents a very small amount of Biglaw jobs. That article was also written when some firms were freezing pay.

  45. They were the first articles that I found in googling lawyer job satisfaction. in other words, it a general trend that you cannot overcome by parsing each article that I can pull up on the subject. If you want to argue there is high job satisfaction in the legal industry, feel free to link us to evidence of that fact.

  46. Bruh, I'm sorry you find yourself in such a ridiculously mind numbing position, but some of the statements you make just are not true ("If one does happen to naturally be a thinker, it mind numbing boring.") I find the best lawyers, at any 'level' of practice, are those who are the smartest and think the most.

    Really, you are revealing more about you than the practice. Life is really what we make of it, isn't it? Sure, there are parts of the practice that I prefer to others. That is why I have worked hard to create a position for myself where I can do the work I want to do, practice with people I like to be around, and work in a (self-created) job environment I like.

    I'm not trying to knock your experience, and I'm not trying to knock you. I guess that, to a certain extent at least, we are all responsible for our own circumstances and, if they suck, there is no one else but us who has as much skin in the game to make them change.

  47. Greg

    Links to articles demonstrating job satisfaction is good should be fairly easy for you to find.

    I am really not interested in your opinon unless you can back up your comments.

    Bruh Rabbit

  48. Call them "Whitney Houston" law schools. Because if you attend them, you (like her) will never see 50.

  49. Law is a hard profession, but a necessary one. Many people do enjoy the profession. But there is high job dissatisfaction, and it is well known because people fixate on the profession. There are surveys about other professions, but everyone is interested in knowing how lawyers feel.

    Greg, I am interested in your opinion.

  50. What is there to back up? If you think your job sucks, change it. You need stats for that?

  51. If you click through to the ABA survey you'll see that around 80% of lawyers find their job intellectually stimulating. There's some stats for you. There are a lot of professional jobs out there that aren't interesting or challenging (think office space).

  52. Lawprof - even for wealthy people $200,000 or $250,000 is a lot of money to spend or cover. I have argued with people on TLS that no prudent financial advisor would approve spending this much money with the potential reward. I think you need to survey some respected trust fund trustees, and see what they say. Just because you have millions in the bank, $200,000 isn't a figure that people lightly spend when they have no guarantee of return on the money. That is how people got rich, they don't just give away a couple of hundred thousand dollars just because their kid wants to go to law school. Any prudent investor of that kind of money wants to know what the potential outcome will be.

    If you have a trust, every time you touch principal you are affecting the future of your family.

    I think that instead of lawyers or,worse, law students throwing around these numbers, we need some real experts in financial management. Maybe these people can explain how they would go about this analysis, and whether, if they were trustees of a trust that required their approval to pay for law school, they would approve spending the money. Don't assume that really wealthy parents or trusts will just pay for school, if they don't see a career of some kind as the end result.

    I am particularly irritated by students who get named full scholarships, that include living expenses, and wonder if they should take them. I guess if Harvard is your dream school, you just turn your back on the Hamilton at Chicago and happily get 6 figures into non-dischargeable debt.

  53. 3:54: The point about rich people buying useless law degrees for their kids is that at least that can be modeled as conspicuous consumption rather than prudent investment ("My son/daughter the lawyer." This kind of thing has real value to new money types from marginal social backgrounds).

  54. Also very rich people or those with strong political connections can often place their children in legal jobs in family businesses or firms to which they send legal work. One of my law school classmates graduated to become general counsel of the bank his family ran. Similarly, in the city where I used to live the housing authority sent $3/4 million in legal business to the firm that employed the mayor's son, no doubt because of his stellar legal abilities.


  55. @3:54-- why would you ever be irritated with other people about how they choose to spend their money?

  56. Also, it is more than a bit presumptuous to say what is "useless" to a person who is not you. If we are talking about rich people, in particular. I went to school with an extremely wealthy person (there were quite a few others) who went to law school solely for the experience. He had no intention of practicing. He did very well, but then went back to teaching the non-law related subject he had been teaching before. Others might say that was useless. He, the person most directly affected by it, would not.

  57. @ 5:20

    Dilettantes be dilettant-ing.

    I plan to never spend a moment considering the motivations of someone who can spend 150,000 on a lark unless they intend on giving it to me.

  58. That was my point. One of the good things about being rich is that you have the leisure to pursue interests without thinking you have to make a living at it. Actually, I see nothing wrong with it. He paid full freight, which made it easier to help other students who did not have as much money.

  59. 3:54 Here. I am not at all irritated by how people spend their money. I am saying that law school is such a bad investment that it is wrong to assume that rich parents or trust funds will pay for it. Just because you have the money doesn't mean you should, or will, spend it for a law degree.

    It is wrong to assume that a wealthy parent doesn't understand what that $200,000 is really worth and what else they could put that money toward. Maybe I'm tired of the assumption that it is ok to go to law school and waste money, just because you happen to be born with access to that money.

  60. Also, I never said a law school degree was useless. What I was saying was that it is a poor investment that even the wealthy may not back for their children.

    I think some 0Ls might listen to expert financial advisors. They don't want to listen to other students or even lawprof. Maybe some clear financial analysis by a trustee would show how foolish it is to spend 6 figures for law school.

    Maybe it wouldn't help though. They already no that no lender would lend them the money to go to law school without the government guaranty.

  61. It amazes me that there are still lawland shills in this day and age when it has been pretty much firmly established that law, for most, is a disaster. If one can even get a job, most lawland jobs are mind numbingly tedious and mostly consist of make work monkey work designed to inflate the number of billable hours and scam clients.

    Law is for wealthy and mostly immoral devilish people. It is a pox upon society that is built on false nobility and false prestige. It mostly brings nothing productive to society. Its funny to see the shills try to make themselves feel better by spewing denial and by blaming the victims. But it is also pathetic. God bless.

  62. By the way, I think, in the NYC area, Brooklyn is such a trap school with its broad older alumni base and the illusion among many, that Brooklyn is a "good school". As its rep falters though as word gets out, it will be less of a trap school and more of a laughing stock. Cordozo, as it moves up the US News ranks, is becoming more of a trap school whereas it used to be more known as slightly toilety. Fordham used to be a decent suitable alternative school that provide decent odds at success but now is fast becoming a trap school too. God bless.

  63. Hello Friends.........

    Great information.Thanks for sharing this useful information with all of us.Keep sharing

    more in the future.

    Have a nice time ahead.


  64. It's not clear why you think HYS are traps too. Or why one of the commentators thinks that most people at these schools receive scholarships. It's my understanding that no one at these places gets a merit scholarship--because there's no "better" alternative the student forgoes, and because these places are still good investments. Am I wrong?

  65. Here is a comment about this article from TLS:

    Everybody who says law market is terrible needs to closely examine non-law market. After undergrad but before grad school, I sent applications for over 200 jobs, mostly safety and good fit with probably 5 or fewer that I never had a shot at. I got zero call backs. It is interesting that you guys think everything else is so much worse for law students. BTW, my brother graduated around the 60th percentile from a TTTT and it did take him awhile to get a job as a lawyer, but less than 9 months after his LLM, he makes above the 75th percentile for his school.

    As for trap schools, it is a thought. I don't think Minnesota can be within a hundred miles of that list. Unless you are out of state, I guess... but there are much better examples. Incidentally, GWU ad Fordham are two of my top choices, and I would probably pay sticker. Because nothing is guaranteed, and no school is really free. So why not go where you WANT to be? These forums can make people so cynical because a bunch of people who wanted to get rich quick have to work a little longer... like every non-lawyer is getting there so much more quickly right now! I hate the elitist garbage... according to many TLS posters, if you aren't HYS, or at least Chicago, Northwestern, Texas, Columbia or Cornell, you may as well kill yourself. Funny that none of the richest people I know (many millionaires) went to any of the aforementioned schools. Law is a way to a better career, not a get-rich-quick scheme. If you look at it that way, feel free to ignore the whining of the future yuppies on this and many other threads.


  66. Followed by this comment. after the original poster objected to some of the content in this post, not understanding that "killself" was an overstatement (eyeroll):

    Ok, well regardless of all that, either all law schools are a trap or none are... but I think it is interesting to say that FORDHAM and GEORGE WASHINGTON are traps... I would have to agree that Golden Gate and Cooley and New York Law may be "traps" in great locations that do not have the connections to get people a job that could justify the outrageous cost (especially NYLS). But if you really think calling two of the top 30 law schools in the country "traps" with "terrible career prospects" isn't elitist, then you are right. We have nothing to say to each other.

    As for the suicide comment, sorry you are offended by that hyperbole. You aren't they only person who knows somebody who took their own life. But how do you think people on here feel (not myself; I made my bed with a 2.81, and my 167 will doubtless let me make up for that better than I deserve) when you belittle the schools that are the best hopes for them to continue toward what would be the culmination of their life's efforts? I don't know about you in particular because I don't "troll" so I have no idea or interest in who says what. I simply cannot stand the rampant elitism on this site. What does a person with a 3.95 and a 175 have to gain by belittling the schools that a peer with a 3.2 and a 155 attends?

    I just was astonished that you call Fordham and George Washington traps... all schools in populated areas (therefore, big markets) have inflated salaries that reflect the cost of living, not the quality of the school. So in that sense, every non-Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Georgetown may as well give up on law... because those are the only schools with the name-recognition that goes beyond the legal profession. Most non-legal people have no idea that Texas, Minnesota, Chicago, Northwestern or Michigan are good law schools. To admittedly varying extents, the future will certainly be brighter for those who get into THE top school, and the job market is certainly highly competitive for lawyers, but the condescension displayed by those who pretend to care about anything but their own bitterness and cynicism (like the guy with the Israeli flag for his avatar, for instance) helps nobody, it only knocks the wind out of the sails of people who are trying to go after their dreams.

    I know it is law, and people should be tough if they are going to be in it, but this isn't tough, it's cruel. I would certainly agree that law schools should have their accreditation ripped away from them until they are 100% transparent in all regards (that means admissions matrices from EVERY school, and extremely detailed and mandatory post-grad employment data). I would not say that everything that is not the biggest and the best is a trap. Is it a lot of money? Yes. Is it a lot of work and time, for a pay-off that may never happen? Absolutely. What else would you have people do, though? Go do something menial that they hate, just so they can avoid loans? Many of these people's alternatives are jobs in fields that are no more stable than law school and pay (at absolute best) as much as they would make coming out of a TTTT. Patronizing people and telling them that it's HYS or an embarrassing waste of everybody's time is not helping them.

    Like I said, calling any school a trap is a little snobbish. Calling Top-30 schools traps is elitist as hell. And ignorant. So I'm not sorry if you are offended; you are belittling schools that may be other people's imperfect, best chance at their dream job. I could give a shit if you are offended by my pointing that out.

  67. Here is another one:

    To avoid arguing, and not a moment too soon ( ), I would probably unabashedly pay sticker at GWU, Fordham or Minnesota. Probably not at American, or at Brooklyn (but I have scholarship making that comparable to in-state TTTT for me)... there are certainly some schools not worth the price, but more important than the school is geography. If you want to work in South Dakota, don't go to school in New York. Not only is USD a better school than every one of the T14 for South Dakota jobs (fairly true statement, in my experience), it is also wicked cheap, even for a TTTT.

    The trap is the rankings system in general, and the notion of "prestige" that people get suckered into caring about so much that they forget everything else. In that sense, even the T14 at sticker are not worth it unless you are extremely geographically flexible (or if you happen to live in their back yard). There is a legitimate point to be raised... but if you are going to drop the word "trap", don't draw arbitrary lines of distinction; there are none. Any school that lures you into paying too much for an education you cannot fully utilize is a trap, no matter what the reason. Geographic incompatibility, enormous price-tag that will chain you to Biglaw and 2500 billable hours for 15 years, like it or not, poor job placement history, lack of a reputation... anything could make a school a trap. I think the best words of wisdom would be to encourage people to learn EVERYTHING, spend the money to apply to enough schools, shop around, know what you want, have a plan, and make a contingency plan for when that plan doesn't work. But calling specific schools traps? No, I don't buy that. There are schools that are traps, but for every person, and for every set of circumstances, the trap could be any different school. Harvard can be a trap, too.

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  69. If you are from out of condition, New york Law is a enormous entice. It expenditures a lot of cash, is a T20 university and locations individuals as if they were arriving out of TTTs.

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  70. Law became commoditized a decade ago. In the 90s law was cool - there were a dozen lawyer shows on TV.

    By 2000, thanks to 8 years of budget surpluses, everyone was getting jobs at big firms for 150K to start. Of course, you had to work 80 to 100 hour weeks. But if you played the game well (helps to be a game player) you could make partner in 7 years. Demand was strong and everyone went to law school.

    Universities realized law school was a cash cow. Pack 200 walking wallets of cash into an auditorium and pay a guy to lecture and grade two tests per student per semester. As long as metrics are good people will clamor to pay any tuition.

    While engineering and medical schools require costly capital intensive equipment and sometimes operate at a loss if not for grants and donations from industry, law schools make big money just from tuition. So, law schools popped up everywhere and the supply of new lawyers exploded.

    Standards plummeted, quality dropped, civility disappeared, and people began to realize that they could outsource 80% of work to attorneys in India / online law services and get comparable or better quality.

    I graduated from a top three law school, did the big firm thing, and have been in law for over a decade. I'm ready to get out.

    I've seen the industry go from profession to business. It is no longer about high standards or client service, or abstract concepts of justice or integrity. It is all about billing hours, and playing games.

    Many new lawyers I've seen were frightening - not because they lacked knowledge (software) but rather because they just weren't bright (microprocessor speed). You can't fix that.

    Many seem more inclined to create problems than to solve them. Lawyers traditionally put out fires and resolve legitimate disputes. Now, more often than not, lawyers carry matches and lighter fluid instead of extinguishers.

    Many would be better suited to running a pool hall or working in a hardware store than to serving as professional problem solvers. But they are in the field, they have a credential, and they are going to get theirs even if they have to hose over everyone else to do it.


  71. For the record, if you halved the number of lawyers, bankers, fund managers, wall streeters, brokers, agents, and transactional people and doubled the engineers, medical personnel, mechanics, and productive people, you'd have a far better world.

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  73. I've heard a lot of people say that law school is a scam and that only 60% of law school grads find jobs. Is this true?

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