Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Time is money

I had a long phone conversation last week with a 2010 law school graduate, who asked me to employ his story for the purpose of illustrating the extent to which the current legal market makes even going to law school for "free" a risky proposition.  Anecdotes are not data, but the data reflect clearly enough that there's nothing unusual about this particular outcome.

"Ben" has a classic But I Did Everything Right story.  He was valedictorian of his high school class, an accomplished athlete, a community volunteer, etc. etc.  He got a full-ride academic scholarship (tuition and living expenses) to a top private college, from which he graduated with honors and no debt.  During college summers he did two internships with DA offices and participated in a DOJ program for undergraduates aspiring to work in public law.

He spent a year after college working and studying for the LSAT, on which he got a very high score.  He was offered admission to several top law schools at sticker, but, having avoided all educational debt despite coming from a comparatively modest SES background, he instead decided to take a full tuition scholarship at a school ranked in the middle of the top tier.

While in law school he was one of a half dozen applicants selected out of a pool of hundreds for a very prestigious public law summer position.  He got good grades, worked for a journal, "networked" with all the right people for the kinds of jobs he was aiming to get, and so on and so forth.

Ben is exactly the kind of person that law schools claim should be going to law school.  He knew exactly what kind of legal work he wanted to do and why, and he did everything one was supposed to do to get that kind of job.  But that kind of job -- public sector work -- has become even more difficult to get than big law firm work.  And given that the Republican party's official position on the matter is that socialism makes the baby Jesus cry, while the party's liberal wing makes impotent gestures suggesting this may be an overstatement, the situation doesn't seem likely to change any time soon.

Thus Ben, despite excellent work experience and stellar recommendations from his employers, graduated from law school without a real law job.  He has spent the last two years working at a couple of fake law jobs that count as real law jobs in the fake statistics put out by law schools -- temporary positions without benefits, one funded by his alma mater -- while applying for literally every public law job opening in the state in which he is barred, as well as private law positions that it doesn't seem inconceivable someone with his resume might be able to get.  For the last few months he's even been applying for non-law jobs, and getting nowhere, no doubt because he is "obviously" overqualified.

His latest temp gig is about to run out, and he's thinking about hitting the re-set button, and throwing in the towel on the whole law thing.  There are almost literally no jobs for someone who wants to what he wants to do, and what he wants to do isn't to be an international environmental sports law lawyer -- he just wants to be a lawyer who works for the goddamned American public (my adjective).  Apparently this is now a highly unrealistic career goal.  He would take a private firm job in order to stay in the game, but there's hardly anything in the way of firm jobs to speak of for people who have been out of law school for two years, especially people who have public law all over their resumes.  So what exactly are his options?

The kicker is that Ben has $50K in educational debt, because of course he had living expenses while wasting three years of his life on a degree from a "top tier" law school.  Except it wasn't three years -- as he emphasized to me it has added up to more like eight: a couple of years in undergrad doing all the right things in order to have the kind of resume you have to have to get into public law, a year after college dedicated to acing the LSAT and applying the right way, three years learning to think like a lawyer, and two years afterwards, learning to think like an unemployed lawyer.

Imagine if he had actually had to pay to go to law school.


  1. Most special snowflakes cannot get their dream job as their first job.

    He should have summered at a private law firm, worked for 1-3 years at said law firm, and then transitioned into public interest law as an experienced lawyer. If he could not have done so, that's a different story, but obviously he did not even try.

  2. "Summered"? Really?

    You are a jackass.

  3. "And given that the Republican party's official position on the matter is that socialism makes the baby Jesus cry, while the party's liberal wing makes impotent gestures suggesting this may be an overstatement, the situation doesn't seem likely to change any time soon."

    Campos' writing style is so good. You can always count on at least one gem of a sentence per posting; and today was no exception.


  4. So Ben couldn't get an ADA job because of the Republican party? Public agencies aren't hiring because half their budgets go toward pension costs.

  5. This guy is not a snowflake. He was valedictorian and an overall overachiever. If he can't even win in this game called life, what chance to us mere mortals stand?

  6. If I weren't already too invested in law school, I'd quit now. But since I am, I'll take this as a warning not to waste my 2L summer working for the government.

  7. I remember when "if you don't get a big firm job, you can always work for the government" was a career services cliche, right up there with "it is a versatile degree."

    Was it ever true-- like in 1970 or 1980? It isn't true now. These cliches continue to resonate culturally for a long time after they cease to be true; indeed, after they become not just false, but the direct opposite of the real situation. Public sector jobs have become both extremely desirable and extremely rare-- thanks to austerity, big firm downsizing, good benefits, and loan forgiveness programs.

    In 1998, I was one of two people hired by the appellate division of public defender office, out of 10 applicants. I was very lucky...I was a tier one grad, but with mediocre grades.

    In 2008, this same office posted for two more openings. 400+ applied. I never would have beat those odds.

    From 2009-2012, this office has posted zero openings. Whereas once turnover was high, now people cling to these jobs like crazy glue.

  8. Campos,

    Why are more faculty not vocally concerned about such facts? You'd think that the quality law schools (T-25, and about 40 public law schools), would see the entire market at risk and turn on their dumb cousins.

    Dammit, I want to see a U Michigan/Cooley knife fight.

  9. @6:28 a.m.:

    And especially because OCI went especially deep in the late summer of 2008.

    I mean, he only interned everywhere he could think of interning before getting an excellent LSAT and a full ride to the middle of T1. Obviously he did not even try.

  10. 6:42, there are no guarantees in life, but if you summer for a big firm you are much more likely to have some firm job upon graduation, and while employed in the private sector you can apply to as many public interest jobs as you want.

  11. 6:34 AM, " 'Summered"? Really? You are a jackass."

    No, s/he's not a donkey-like creature. You should read yesterday's post and comments, where there's a bit of discussion about that class of folks for whom "summer" and "summered" are naturally verbs.

  12. LawProf,

    I received a full tuition scholarship to attend Third Tier Drake in the fifth-rate city of Des Moines, Iowa. My wife was employed full-time, while I worked during the summers in non-legal work. We are pretty frugal. Yet, I still incurred $37K in student loans for living expenses, over three years. One troll/mental midget acted as if I frivolously took out student loans. I have friends from Drake who literally incurred $125K+ in student debt, strictly for law school. I shudder at where I would be with that level of debt.

    By the way, did you notice that Harvard "law professor" Lawrence Lessig exhorted Atlanta's Fourth Tier John Marshall Law School grads to "work for the people." The average student loan debt for that commode exceeded $138K for the Class of 2011. Plus, the pig has worked for the following BILLION DOLLAR ACADEMIC CORPORATIONS: Yale, Harvard, University of Chicago and Stanford.

  13. Not sure what type of job Ben was aiming to get. ADA? Problem is, decent public service jobs like that were never plentiful for freshly-minted lawyers, even 20 years ago. So it's a fair criticism to point out he would have been better served to broaden his career aims at the outset.

    That said, it's still a f*cking outrage that someone this accomplished, focused, and hard-working cannot find dignified employment. And that bodes ill for the ancient regimes running the legal industry and every other racket in our diseased republic.

  14. While I would never want to out one of LP's sources, I'm pretty sure I know this "Ben" guy. His last name is "Dover".

  15. Now, does anyone think this guy, if he tried, could not have been a high ranking cop banging out 150-250k a year if he wanted? Instead that job went to a mouthbreather and he gets fucked.

    Professor, your posts are excellent. However, maybe a post on alternatives to law school is in order, where you illustrate not only other opportunities to law, but also demonstrate that the consequences for failing in those endeavors are nowhere near as bad as those imposed by failing in law. You could also show that there are .1% outcomes for those other alternatives, (i.e.. nassau captain that acts as a consultant and makes 750k or the social worker that saves lives for the more public interest oriented people), and that those .1% winners beat most of law's .1% hand over fist.

    My 2 cents.

  16. Law school is fool's gold.

  17. 6:54, You're right, police work is one of the few alternative careers where a JD is viewed as more of an asset than liability (although many cops despise lawyers). And many departments pay well, and offer great benefits, although the pay scale can vary significantly by region, or even within regions. Generally speaking, larger departments pay better, but there’s many exceptions.

    But it’s not easy even for highly qualified applicants to find these jobs. Hiring cycles vary based on budget and manpower needs, and preferences based on residence, ethnic status, and veteran status form additional barriers to many applicants. Also, formulaic hiring criteria like entrance test scores, fitness scores, and psych eval scores are weighted as much as, or more, than prior educational accomplishments.

    Also, the job isn’t exactly easy, especially for new officers who receive the lowest pay and the least desirable shifts and assignments, including lots of nights and weekends. Police departments are operated on a military model, they are rigidly heirarchical, and seniority rules. Plus, you will deal with hostility and confrontation on a daily basis (sometimes within the department). It’s a lifestyle choice that's definitely not for everybody. (Have several cops in my family.)

  18. It's because of stories like this that I LOL heartily whenever someone that flames out of OCI thinks they are going to get a job in public interest "as a backup." The only way to get a job in public interest these days is top grades from a top school (and public interest employers in many ways are even snobbier than firms) or getting an increasingly competitive fellowship that will allow you to build up the experience you need to even have a shot at a career public interest job.

    I'm curious about the geographic market of this person though... at my huge city T14 local government is still very accessible as a fallback for a good # of grads... if he went to somewhere like WUSTL and tried to get local govt in MO, or tried to break into a market elsewhere, that might explain a lot of the issues. Still, this should be a warning to anyone who wants to do public interest: YHS, or CCN w/ a free ride, or bust

  19. Political connections are also extremely important for obtaining many gov jobs, especially at the state and local level.

  20. 7:19: Midwest rust belt. Feeder market for his law school, which "dominates" the local market but which carries no cachet in the big east and west coast cities (in other words a typical tier one).

  21. "Imagine if he had actually had to pay to go to law school."

    That ain't be no problems. IBR BITCH! hahahaha

  22. IBR = CPR for law schools

  23. This post about another law school being accredited in Massachusetts is timely to this post. The dean makes it sound that any law grad from UMass Law will be able to easily take that public servant attorney gig now that their debt is a crushing $100k instead of a crushing $200k. Riiiiiight.

  24. @HueyLewis & others

    What makes you automatically go to ADA for an example of public law ? (I have noticed lots of others who do this too on these blogs so not trying to pick on you.)

    Courts are only a sliver of the whole world of public law. I am coming from the perspective of someone who works for the government, but I am guessing there is this really huge invisible layer of legal jobs that the average non-government worker does not know about.

    There are a wide variety of public law jobs that exist within government. That said, there are very few openings, and fierce competition for them. Variety of jobs still does not equal lots of job openings, especially when lots of those jobs are being cut with budget cuts, and most likely being outsourced on “as needed basis”.

    I am STEM undergraduate degree holder who very nearly went to law school (over a decade ago), but fortunately chose to just finish out with a MPA with a concentration in policy analysis (that I got free tuition and paid internship).

    It is a long story, but right after I earned my MPA, I worked for several years as an administrative code writer at the state level in government, essentially writing rules at the state agency level. There is a whole another world of legislative and administrative legal type jobs within government. A JD had my position before me, and a JD replaced me when I left. This was a $35K job. I highly doubt that I could ever get my old job back because even though the job officially does not require a JD, there are too many JDs that would apply for it.

    Ben’s story sounds very familiar to me. I would suggest applying for non-legal government jobs because once they found out that Ben had a JD, they would throw in some legal type jobs duties to Ben as government jobs continuously merge and shift. However, I am fairly sure that Ben has already tried that and unfortunately HR has gotten so tight at weeding out people, that I believe that HR has weeded that route out for Ben.

  25. Not sure if socialism made the baby jesus cry, whatever that means, but socialism does kill productivity and productivity is the only thing that has ever really lifted people up. Raw productivity is the engine of progress. Over the last generation we make 3 to 4 times as much stuff with signficantly fewer workers. Just like agriculture which has grown manifold over the last century with 95% fewer workers. Amazing.

    By contrast anything government or government-subsidized is a productivity sink. But with the exponential growth of pensions that is no longer tenable.

    The legal world is necessary, but a drag on the economy. We don't need more lawyers, we need a more productive legal system and we should be able to automate things where we can do more with less. But that's hard because lawyers, like doctors, have a guild mentality and resist change and any loss of power or prestige. Well, everybody does that, but guilds can prevent progress more effectively.

    Tuitions and debt are so high because the government is supplying the loan money. No private lender would want to give money for such bad payback risks. Just another example of the misallocation of capital under socialism.

  26. @7:51, thanks for the laughs. Best part: The dean says that getting their ABA accreditation is "like a glowing Good Housekeeping seal of approval that we know what we’re doing”.

    Hmm. Aren't Thomas Cooley and Touro also ABA approved schools??

  27. 7:55, ADA was just a guess, based on my purely anecdotal observations that this, along with PD and clerkships, are the most commonly-sought gov jobs among recent law grads.

  28. Hey Milton Friedman at 7:58: “Productivity” is just a euphemism for fewer people doing more work at the same or (more often lately) lower pay, with all the benefits flowing to the top – and they don’t trickle back down. The creative destruction you describe is a complete myth. After you’ve been laid off and can’t find a decent job, then you’ll realize that “socialism” is not the culprit. In your case, I really hope that happens.

  29. I always wondered why so many great students in my school chose to spend their 2L summers working for the govt or public interest when it was well known that they would have to compete for a job at the end of 3L year. Some people even worked for agencies that flat out told them they wouldn't be able to hire them.

  30. Seems like the biggest problem is with the White Trash Republican Party's war on entry level government jobs. Wouldn't "Ben" be just fine if governments weren't shedding jobs with reckless abandon (in order to keep taxes low on rich people who've been making all the money the past 30 years)? What would "Ben" have done straight out of college? Wait tables but have less debt?

  31. 7:58:

    Since some of "we" are the workers who don't make anything anymore, "we" aren't really benefiting from that increased productivity. I mean it's great and all that Mitt Romney's sons can buy more with their $100 million trust fund than they could have one generation ago, but most of "we" aren't Mitt Romney's sons.

  32. 7:58 doesn't know the definition of "socialism".

  33. Reposting-

    Given the number of readers on this forum it seems to me that it should do something constructive - and since many have legal research training, I'd like to suggest a crowd source project to answer the following questions:

    Crowd Source Project

    1. ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct
    a. Is there any basis for suggesting that law schools and their administrators have violated the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct (the “Model Rules”)?
    b. What basis is there for suggesting that the Model Rules apply to the relationship between a Law School and students/prospective students?
    c. What basis is there to suggest that the Model Rules apply to the conduct of a bar-admitted law school administrator and students/prospective law students?
    d. Are there any precedential decisions apply the Model Rules to analogous situations?

    2. State Bar Rules
    a. Is there any basis for suggesting that law schools and their administrators have violated the Ethics Rules of your state bar (“[State]-Bar Rules”)?
    b. What basis is there for suggesting that the [State]-Bar Rules apply to the relationship between a Law School and students/prospective students?
    c. What basis is there to suggest that the [State]-Bar Rules apply to the conduct of a bar-admitted law school administrator and students/prospective law students?
    d. Are there any precedential decisions apply the [State]-Bar Rules to analogous situations?

    3. [Name]-School of Law Honor Code (or analogous)
    a. What sort of honor code does your law school have?
    b. Where can it be found (url)?
    c. Does the Honor Code apply only to law students or to faculty as well?
    d. Does the honor code describe itself in contractual terms – i.e., a contract between the members of an academic community?
    e. Does the Honor Code prohibit dishonesty?
    f. Does the honor code present false presentation of data?
    g. Does the honor code prohibit misleading presentation of data?
    h. Does the honor code have a broad requirement of honesty in dealings?
    i. Is the honor code strict liability?
    j. Are there any precedential decisions?

    4. Bad Faith Lending/Fiduciary Duty
    a. Does [your state and/or state where you law school is situated] recognize the legal concept of bad faith lending (i.e., a lender has a duty of candor to the borrower)?
    b. Does you state treat arrangers of loans as subject to the duty of candor?
    c. Is an arranger receiving loan proceeds a factor in the bad faith lending concept?
    d. Does [your state and/or state where you law school is situated] regard a academic institution as having any fiduciary responsibility to students?
    e. Can you supply any precedents?

  34. @7:58

    re: "lifting people up," it's too bad that real wages haven't in any way risen in the last 30 years as a result of all those increases in productivity. I suppose mean wages only apply to the ordinary rank and file, though, not randian hypergenius captains of industry.

  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

  36. About the police job thing:

    I worked my way mostly through law school with some financial help from my parents and 20 years ago I was the [bowel]-motion boy/law clerk in a major law firm, doing a lot of White Collar crime. Since the defendants had usually had assets frozen the firm wanted to keep the defense costs down (they might not get paid), so I wrote scads of motions, dismissal (firs cuts), in limine, etc. The partner was and is quite well known. We had two detectives working for us, one the ex-chief of detectives for the city and the other the ex homicide chief (they fell out with the Chief and the Mayor.) One day I asked the latter what it was like doing white collar – he responded:

    “better class of criminals, I mean they are not stupid, they are not impulse crimes, they are more intricate and tricky – yah know, the average criminal is dumber as a bag of hammers.”

    “and the average cop?” I asked

    “Add a hammer” he shrugged.

    Later I was circulated a case report that I think came from Ohio. The case was in essence a civil rights/discrimination case for a guy who had been rejected by the State Troopers/Highway Patrol. The reason he had been rejected was that he tested over 105 on the IQ test, and the state troopers had a cutoff of 95 or 98 (it was under 100 I seem to recall, but might have been higher.) In short he was rejected for being too intelligent!

    What was astonishing to all the lawyers is that the State Troopers defended the case and admitted this. Their explanation was that the job was extraordinarily tedious, involving essentially driving from one end of the state to the other and they had found that people with IQs above the cutoff tended to qui inside a year and they just lost the investment in training them. The State won!


    Possibly different case but same theme. The guy's IQ tested around 125 (based on 33/50 on the employment test), whereas the dept only interviews people who score between 20-27 of 50 on the test. Average nationally supposedly ~22/50 on the test, which is about 104 IQ.

  38. 9:12, Don't know about Ohio, but a lot of agencies have been under pressure to abandon entrance examinations that emphasized cognitive and reading skills on the alleged basis that they discriminated against minority applicants.

    And I doubt that being a cop is significantly more boring than practicing law.

  39. Unfortunately this bears one characteristic of the But I Did Everything Right story: excessive focus on one thing. That story is about being entitled to a particular type of outcome when you follow the right path. But this country just does not work that way anymore. When you're after something everyone else is also after - in law or elsewhere - being flexible, and defining success broadly, often makes the difference.

    First, you're wrong, LP, that he needed to do all the things he did pre-law school in order to make himself competitive for public law. If he'd majored in biology but did some public interest internships in law school, that would be fine. So, he didn't need to focus on public law from 18; he could have done whatever he wanted, and had he done something different maybe that even would have helped him (which is more interesting as an applicant, yet another law grad who majored in poli sci or one who majored in architecture?). I suspect the reality is he geared himself up for public law from 18 not because he needed to, but because like many ambitious law-school-bound people he wanted to. Which is fine, but let's not call that a requirement for being a DA.

    Second, once he was striking out in public lawland (really even before, since even in the good days it was hard to break in to), he should have been trying to set up something in the private sector as a plausible second path. You note he eventually did this, but it sounds like it was already quite late.

    He's had a rough time and I sympathize. It is, in fact, unfair. But that is the point: there is no such thing as fair in these things. There is only results. And to get results, he should not be so narrowly focused. Going to a regional school does not help on that front. But that is all past. It seems he is now wisely broadening his focus. I wish him the best.

  40. I swear to God that I thought Campos meant summering in the Hamptons - not working as a summer clerk. I think that makes me even a bigger jerk.

  41. "Law school is fool's gold."

    Good line

  42. HueyLewis -

    It was Highway Patrol/State Troopering and as I recall midwest - long empty highways, one end of the state to the other, turn around go back - write a few tickets. Not being a beat cop.

  43. Why would people assume that he could get a firm job when he was in school? His resume obviously screams public interest.

    And how was he to know that he wasn't on the right path? He was doing everything that he should have done. There is no point in him taking a private law job because he doesn't want to practice private law.

    Why is there so much emphasis on blaming him?

  44. MacK,
    I recall from Super Troopers the highway patrol folks get into quite a bit of hijinks. :)

  45. @9:36 That was a very thoughtful post. If it was ever true, it has not been true since the 1970s, at least, that anyone can pick a particular path and think it will certainly lead to one's dream job or that if one gets the dream job that will last forever. I've known people who were absolutely adamant about only doing public service jobs, which as you say, have always been hard to get (the good ones, I mean). They refused to even apply for private sector jobs for which they would have been snapped up. Flexibility is important, especially in a time of such great uncertainty.

  46. Ben and so many more of as did the right thing... too fucking bad it does not matter. When loans come due, doing the right thing does not matter. If you got no job, 1st tier or 4th tier you are a fucking failure.

    People who worked hard solid part of their lives to become lawyers or those who just had nothing better to do are in the same boat. This what America has become. Dishing out failure equally.

  47. @ 9:39:

    "summer" means the Hamptons to me too, but I am in finance in NYC.

    It usually means post college women with hermes weekend bags and men with boat shoes and salmon colored pants fighting for a seat on the 5:55 to westhampton. Well, for those who can't spring for the helicopter from Pier 6.

    The salty lips of the socialite sisters
    With their continental fingers that have
    Never seen working blisters
    Oh I know they've got their problems
    I wish I was one of them

  48. I_have_a_name

    Similar fact pattern (including the police arguments) but different case

  49. I keep wondering why some well-valued millionaire/billionaire [Warren Buffet; Robert Redford; George Soros] doesn't take a bite out of this problem by establishing a foundation or something, hiring the "Bens" of the world at a decent wage that will both allow them to do good AND to eliminate his/her educational debt.

    I'm also wondering why some enterprising soul doesn't figure out a way to make a "deal" with graduates, refinancing their debt to a realistic amount and getting it out of the hands of the usurers. I know, I know, such "refinancing" would be dischargeable in bankruptcy, but the return that someone could get in this climate of "less than 1% treasuries" would be attractive.

    Such a "deal" would also get the money OUT of the hands of the private lenders and deny them the real profit centers: tacked on interest and fees.

    Just wondering.

  50. @9:53 a.m.:

    One of our most cherished American lies is that success proves virtue, or that failure proves a lack of it.

    It keeps us from doing things like questioning in detail why 1% of the population commands 22% of its reported income. "Because they're better than you, that's why. Now shut up and be grateful we can't pay you less."

  51. @ 7:19

    "The only way to get a job in public interest these days is top grades from a top school (and public interest employers in many ways are even snobbier than firms) or getting an increasingly competitive fellowship that will allow you to build up the experience you need to even have a shot at a career public interest job."

    Interestingly, a couple of years ago one way to get a job at a public interest shop was on BigLaw's dime.

    BigLaw had so badly "over hired" that it didn't want all those to whom it had made offers returning -- at least not at the pre-arranged time.

    So BigLaw would pay the "new associate" something like 1/2 his/her anticipated BigLaw salary on the condition that he/she went to work for the NAACP, NRDC or whomever. I've got a friend who's a senior attorney at a non-profit who talks about the good candidates they got, basically at no cost to them, for this "take a year off."

    Off course there were risks for the kid "taking a year off." Some firms made a promise to take them on in a year; some didn't. Some provided the "go away" money only if the kid "went and did good;" some didn't care, so there was a lot of "a year in Tahiti."

    But there was a brief period of exposure to the public interest side, and some good work being done on its behalf.

  52. 10:39,
    I was in that situation and my non-profit wanted me to stay with them. With the amount of turnover they had a spot opened up during my year and I had already proved myself.

  53. @9:12:

    That was a thoughtful post. I might add, however, that Ben had been successful at every step in the process up until the last.

    While I wholeheartedly agree with you that in retrospect it would have been better if he majored in biology or had diversified in some way, I can't really agree with you to the extent that your post intimates that this was some kind of oversight on his part. Had he diversified, yes, he might have something on his resume he could go back to to start a different career path, he still would suffer the stigma with non-legal employers of having a law degree, he would still be looked at as a risk by those non-legal employers who don't know much about the employment market for lawyers and who think he'd jump ship at the first chance to take a law job somewhere, and it's not as if he wouldn't be $50K in debt or that that debt would not be a complete waste of resources. It's also not as if he would have escaped criticism for having such a scatter-brained educational path or that he would not have been crucified as just another graduate who fell backwards into law school with no apparent knowledge of the legal profession, what he was getting himself into, what being a lawyer was really like and what he wanted to do with his law degree.

    I'm not proofreading this because you're not worth it. You're the internet.

  54. I feel for this guy, but from a purely selfish perspective, as a federal government lawyer with 10 plus years of experience, I'm probably competing for a lot of the same jobs he's applying for. (maybe not, if he's limiting his search to the state he currently lives in though, which is a mistake in my opinion.) I routinely apply for jobs that only require 1-4 years of experience, despite the fact that I have far more. And I get interviews for those jobs. So, if any of them would choose someone fresh out of school because he did some rad internships in college, I would be rightly pissed. The job market is just terrible right now and everyone is applying below their qualifications. The only reason I am doing so is because I hate my current job, but I know that I'm lucky to have a job at all. This guy is is a position where he could go do something else and forget about law; I'm not. (10 years of practice plus still having massive student loans = I'm staying in law.)

  55. Why isn't the moral of this story: pay sticker at a top law school (with good LRAP), so you can get the job you really want?

  56. Jesus, 11:06. The job market's not your fault in any way, nor is the fact that everyone you know is trolling for effectively entry-level positions, but are you new or just horrendously myopic? He could go do something else? There is no meaningful distinction between desperate people, or the loans they must service or else. Doomsday befalls us all just the same, no matter whether you default in your early years of repayment or after 10 years of working for the federal government. The imperative is just the same.

  57. ^^^ (11:30) "Jesus, 11:06. ...are you ... horrendously myopic? He could go do something else? There is no meaningful distinction between desperate people, or the loans they must service or else. "

    First, just let me say on the record that I think 11:06 is most likely not actually Jesus.

    I think 11:06 was under the impression that "Ben" was completely debt-free, hence the "he can do something else but I can't" comment. LawProf wrote that Ben was debt-free after UG and got a full tuit scholly to LS. 11:06 may have missed the point that Ben also DID borrow about $50K* for living expenses during LS.

    *Ouch - that's like $1500 per month. Are rents insane now? Back in the day (and in the mid-west), my fleabag student joint was only $275 a month...

  58. Well, but this guy has never practiced law, and he "only" owes 50k. That is an amount that can be paid off, eventually, with a non-law job. I wholeheartedly agree that it sucks for him and it is completely unfair, but I think a lot of current law students and recent grads convince themselves they are "trapped" because they've taken a few steps down the law path, when they really aren't.

  59. 12:14:

    "I think a lot of current law students and recent grads convince themselves they are "trapped" because they've taken a few steps down the law path, when they really aren't."

    I'm sorry. You're wrong.

  60. 12:25

    I agree with 12:14. Go to North Dakota. Work the oil rigs. You'll pay off your debt right quick.

  61. Just argued with the wife about how it would be better for us to get a divorce rather than to file our taxes jointly or to file married filing separately for IBR purposes.

    After crying and yelling, she hung upon me.

    Good times.

  62. 12:48:

    Good suggestion.

  63. @ 12:52pm

    If the divorce was just for IBR purposes rather than not wanting to be together, I'm not sure what the big deal is. If I could save a bunch of money, I'd just get the divorce on paper but continue to live as though we were a couple.

    And if a couple wanted to get married but things like IBR might get in the way, I'd just consider living together and even having a wedding but just not sign the actual papers yet but I'll consider ourselves married in our minds.

    (Although I realize that if children are involved it does get a bit more complicated even if the divorce is fake.)

  64. @ 12:55

    I don't know if you're being sarcastic or not, but my comment wasn't. If people really want to pay it off, and aren't finding lawyer jobs, there are good, high-paying jobs out there in this economy. They certainly weren't what you had in mind when you went to LS, but if you want to pay off your debt, you do what it takes. And ND is a damn good option.

  65. 12:52,
    Perhaps next you can tell her how much money you guys would save if she gave up wearing make up and getting her nails done.

  66. It is just for IBR purposes. We both love each other. We do not have to make the decision now but we will in about a year's time.

    I can no longer afford my loan payments. I have paid tens of thousands of dollars and barely put a dent in them. After fighting the good fight, it is time to face the facts: the debt will never be paid off. IBR is a piece of shit but it beats default.

    I know this: my unborn child will know the truth about the higher education scam. If the assholes in government and big business continue the scam and do nothing, in the end, the little guy will win because we will advise our children not to go to college, hence demand will go down. You cannot ignore 40 million student loan debtors.

    As an attorney, I will use every educational tool at my disposal to make sure my child is a independent thinker, and that she has a well-rounded education that she did not have to pay for.

    Fuck anybody (in advance) who says I should not have gotten my wife pregnant. I am almost 40 years old, this is my first child, and I have delayed children long enough because of these fucking student loans, all while being an indentured servant working for asshole bosses and hating my job.

  67. 1:21:

    Fuck you. You don't know my situation. Until you do, shut the fuck up and keep your piehole closed.

  68. ^^Do not think anger management counseling would be the appropriate "alternate track" for this commenter

  69. 1:16:

    What makes you think that "ND" is a panacea for anyone who can't find a job in an economy with a functional unemployment rate of over 10%?

  70. LawProf, you should refer Ben to apply for the JAG equivalent position within the French Foreign Legion. I am sure the FFL is willing to add Ben to its ranks and it would give him the opportunity to "see" the world.

  71. Look, plenty of people with undergrad degrees now have more than 50k in debt. I'm not saying that is an insignificant amount of debt, but why not abandon the law dream and seriously try to get into another field? You don't have to work on an oil rig, but thinking seriously about what types of office jobs you might be qualified for just makes sense, if you graduated 2 years ago and have not yet worked in a legal job. This post is more about the death of a dream than a ruined life. This guy's life is not ruined yet, nor should it be.

  72. So why are you applying for junior law positions instead of taking one of these easily obtainable high paying jobs to evaporate your massive loans right quick?

  73. As someone who spent over a year looking for an entry-level non-legal job that would start a new course, your suggestion, well-intentioned as it is, I am sorry to say demonstrates a complete failure to understand the reluctance of an employer to take someone with a law degree, the general ignorance among non-legal employers about the realities of the market for lawyers, the fact that employers generally are concerned someone with a law degree doesn't really want out of the profession and will hang around long-term and the simple fact that a great many law graduates have NO qualification for anything else and simply get out-competed for the available positions.

  74. I'm not applying for junior law positions. Most federal positions are offered at several possible grades - entry level up to my current level. I apply for those. And, it's my choice to continue practicing law, as I have put over 10 years into the profession, and ultimately have faith that I will be back in a position I don't hate eventually. But yeah, I could also go work on an oil rig if paying loans were the most important thing to me. If I were unemployed with no prospects in sight I might think about it.

  75. @1:52: I would assume that JAG equivalent in FFL would be an officer position thus he would not be qualified.

  76. 2:14, I do understand that, and I don't think it's easy to switch to another career with a law degree, but then, the availability of jobs is the issue, not the amount of debt you have.

  77. People who do everything right in undergrad and then "ace the lsat" don't have to settle for a full ride outside of the t-14.

  78. 2:14,
    Leave the JD off your resume?

  79. @ 2:14:

    So well said. Thank you. I'd love to get out of the legal field, because I can't find a job--but at the same time no one will hire me (or even interview me) for a non-law job. All of those reasons you list apply. FML.

  80. @ 2:35 (first):

    I can't speak for 2:14, but I simply can't leave the JD off my resume. I've been practicing for more than a decade--how the hell am I supposed to fill in that blank?

    --2:35 (second)

  81. 2:37,
    Obviously I wasn't talking about you.

  82. @ [I can't follow the above exchange between Anonymouses]:

    I can't speak for Ben, but just looking at it objectively, Ben's got at least a 3-year gap in his resume, and that assumes that someone like him would graduate and immediately start looking for oil rigs to swing from. Most people don't come to the realization that they're trapped this way. As it stands, between temp work, it seems, he's got a 5 year gap. In either case, though, I don't think leaving your JD off is particularly realistic as a strategy.

  83. "And given that the Republican party's official position on the matter is that socialism makes the baby Jesus cry,"

    Thought this was overkill, Campos. Hate to tell you, but in the fight that you've picked, the Republicans are one of your strongest potential allies.

    Perhaps if there had been a few more Republicans in faculty meetings on campuses across this country, a little more fiscal sanity might have taken hold.

    My liberal friends kvetch about Rush Limbaugh. They begrudge his giant audience. I ask them how they think that he got that giant audience. Would, perhaps, some of those millions upon millions of people have been less likely to swallow invective if they felt their ideals were getting a fair hearing in media outlets (estimates at that time were running 88-92% self-identified "liberals" in the newsroom)?

    Academia has a similar discrepancy. They'll search high and low for every type of diversity save one: ideological.

    Read Jonathan Haidt. That isn't a healthy long-term group dynamic, whether it's a church in the backwoods of West Virginia or whether it's the faculty lounge.

    Liberals can try to blame the Republicans for their share in a wrecked economy for not producing enough jobs.

    But the law school scam? By, for and of liberals, from the ground up. At least own it.

    And for the posters that follow me: I'm not trying to pick a fight. The Republicans have as many warts as the Democrats.

    My point is that the blame for this little fiasco belongs on campus, and it's going to be a little difficult to pin too much of the blame on Republicans on campus, seeing how they're pretty close to an endangered species there.

    1. 3:04, I agree with your political assessment and, to the extent that Campos pulls out cute little Krugmanisms from time to time, I just try to ignore them. After all, he is a tenured law professor. IMO, political pot shots tend to distract from the larger message that the law school scam is the product of a generation of law professors' stranglehold on the ABA's section on legal education.

  84. I agree with 3:04. Registered Democrat here.

    I have talked with my fellow law grads who are politically like minded and we all agree that if Romney adopted universal SL debt forgiveness we would vote for him regardless of his other policies. He could dump sludge in the ocean, chain women to beds or legislate prayer in schools, whatever.

    Anyone else up for a Faustian bargain?

  85. It also has to do with the inability to discharge SL in bankruptcy and the moral hazard it presents both for private corporations and government to extend loans.

    As far as I can recall, the removal of bankruptcy protections for private student loans were a Republican idea in 2005.

    That said, I also sort of agree with the above comments to the extent that there is no use in voting for either of these mentally-stunted candidates.

  86. Professor Campos, I agree with one of the anonymous posters who asked about the LRAP. It isn't clear that Ben made the right choice in law schools. First, it is easier (but not guaranteed) to get a public law job from a top tier law school. Second, many top tier law schools have an LRAP program. A rational choice might have been to take a degree with a top tier law school that has an LRAP program. I think the likelihood of a public law employment would be greater, and, while he would have had a lot more debt, the ultimate downside is IBR (not a good choice admittedly. In this case, I don't think Ben made all of the right choices.

  87. 4:25: Ben did go to a school in the middle of the top tier. Maybe you mean T-14, but he didn't get scholarship offers from T-14 schools. He was applying to law school in 2006 when:

    (1) IBR didn't exist

    (2) Schools in the middle of the top tier were advertising 97% employment rates.

    (3) The really top schools didn't feel the need to buy many 172 LSAT scores.

    As for LRAP, *if you can get a PI job* then going to law school while paying zero tuition is a vastly better choice than going to law school and going into an LRAP program, especially now, given that just about everybody but HYS have bootstrapped their LRAP programs to IBR -- schools will make your IBR payment but that won't touch your principal debt, and in many cases interest will accrue on that principal.

    Sure, in retrospect it might have been a better choice to go to Michigan and rack up $200K in debt and dump most of it in the taxpayer's lap. In retrospect he shouldn't have gone to law school at all, period, despite his outstanding record. That's a sad comment on how absurd the situation has become.

  88. 3:48

    "As far as I can recall, the removal of bankruptcy protections for private student loans were a Republican idea in 2005."

    True. Seven years after the Democrats removed BK protections for federal student loans.

    Both parties are to blame. Equally. No, I would not vote for Romney if it meant I had to deal with his other policies. Half the problems in this country stem from groups of people who only care about their issue to the detriment of everybody else. Either way, Romney would not forgive the loans. He is too busy peddling for profit schools and telling students to "shop around" for the best loan rates and schools....while trying to get private banks back into the student loan business. A silk hat on a pig is still a pig.

    The only thing worse than a Republican is a Democrat.

  89. Dude

    Don't divorce the woman who loves you and is having your child just for money. She will never forgive you.

    If she is willing to stay married to you and raise a family with the debt you have and come what may, then hang onto her.

  90. 3:04, you misunderstand.

    Liberals = good, if insufficiently intense in their goodness

    Conservatives = bad

    Law School Scam = bad

    Law School Scam = conservative

    No other reasoning needed. This was my undergrad education in a nutshell.

  91. "As for LRAP, *if you can get a PI job* then going to law school while paying zero tuition is a vastly better choice than going to law school and going into an LRAP program, especially now, given that just about everybody but HYS have bootstrapped their LRAP programs to IBR -- schools will make your IBR payment but that won't touch your principal debt, and in many cases interest will accrue on that principal."

    Also the LRAPs were not a silver bullet. I was one of the lucky ones who did land a "public interest job" just a few years before the era of 2006.

    I did benefit from an institutional Perkins loan, which I was able to defer and eventually completely discharge after 5 years of public service, but that was only for about 7% of the total amount borrowed. Not insignficant, but not an answer in and of itself. Outside of that, LRAP at my "elite" school at that time only kicked in if you made under $35,000 per year. I think it eventually kicked up to maybe 38 or 39K, but by that time I was making more (marginally more, but enough to disqualify me).

    After that there was a federal program to help public interest lawyers, but it was woefully underfunded, and was disbursed on a "highest need" basis, so it doesn't take too long of gainful public interest employment to "age out" especially when tuition was on it's way to doubling in a decade, and those just five to seven years behind me were racking up far more debt. Further, by dutifully paying half of it off by paying ahead on principal, I was making myself a worse candidate, because my salary was rising with annual increases but my loan amount was dropping.

    Not that I'm complaining. I have a job that I love and I can make my payments. I wouldn't trade the freedom of having that first set of loans paid off anyway.

    Oh, and by the way, in my office, which used to have fairly rapid turnover, you never hear anyone talk about leaving any more. The last two hires we had both had nearly fifteen years experience, had been in public interest work before, and were more than happy to get out of the private sector. One was a name partner in a law firm. Both tier one grads, one a T-14, in a job that wasn't always particularly picky about law school pedigree.

    Five or six years ago people used to ask me when I'd be leaving to go into private practice. Now all the private practitioners ask me if I think we'll be getting any openings, and could I let them know if we do.

  92. It is the same story for older lawyers who went to law school at a reasonable price years ago - does not make sense to go to law school. We too are largely unemployed. We are the dregs of the lawyer population because we are older and less desirable as employees. It is very hard for most of us to hold steady long-term permanent employment as a lawyer or in any field for which a law degree is desirable, no matter how good our skills and how hard we work. It was different in our parents generation. I don't actually know any unemployed lawyers in our parents generation. For us, it is different. I am talking about top law school grads, most of whom were formerly in biglaw. All those awful law school deans who turn a blind eye to the damage they are doing by graduating many too many lawyers. Lawyers who had jobs at one time have to be pushed out to make room for newbies. There lies the problem- too many people for too few jobs, and the law school administrators do not care.

  93. Who is to blame for the student loan crisis:-

    It is complicated. A lot of it comes down to unintended consequences.

    That there are malefactors involved is true in part, but their malefactions were not intended to create the crisis - rather they advanced the agenda of their constituencies. So, some of the crisis can be tracked back to the California's Proposition 13 and its impact on public colleges not just in California, but across the United States. At least an element of the opposition to public funding of college education was politically driven - Republicans regarded colleges and especially public colleges after Vietnam as left wing centers of indoctrination while the fact that public education served minorities to a greater degree than private schools was a factor, but really the biggest factor was that the public voted for lower taxes and indeed even the working class complained as to why they should pay for "Joe College." The weakening of the public alternative allowed private schools to raise their tuition because that source of competition went away.

    That academia and academic administrations are closer to the Democratic party has to be seen as a factor in the unwillingness of Democratic politicians to ask tough questions about education costs or the reasonableness of the effective blank check that the student loan system writes to academia. Only a fool would not admit that law school administrations are "well wired" when it comes to the Democratic Party. Still, many involve delude themselves that education is a public good and that the astonishing cost is justified
    , that student loans are important to allow the socially excluded to attend college, to create social mobility - and maybe 40 years ago, or even 20 years ago they were still right.

    However, it is also fair to lay the blame for student loan industries abuses at a Republican party that has also cosseted it - see e.g., Virginia Foxx. It was the Republicans that gave the private loan industry the nice boon of the exclusion from bankruptcy relief - and at the same time allowed them to charge interest rates more appropriate to unsecured lending. It is also the Republicans that protect for profit colleges. But they to justify this by persuading themselves that the bankruptcy rule encourages lenders.

    On of the things you learn in Washington is that people are awfully good at rationalising bad policy - at taking any trace of a silver lining and building a shining curtain that conceals all the problems the policy causes and at kidding themselves that what their supporters and friends want is really in the public interest. And of course the campaign donations mean nothing.

    And that brings me to my pet peeve - not that politicians sell themselves for political contributions - but that they sell themselves so cheap! When you look at the size of the donations, $10,000 here maybe a bundler of $50,000 - and the scale of the benefits that the little line in legislation brings to that donor, tens of millions, billions - wow! Nothing brings returns like political donations - and that is the same the world over.

  94. "Ben did go to a school in the middle of the top tier. Maybe you mean T-14, but he didn't get scholarship offers from T-14 schools."

    Then he clearly didn't do everything right.

  95. Too much emphasis on going to the top tier. Going to the top tier gives a better shot at an entry level job. After several years, there is almost no difference between Harvard and Hofstra Law Schools, taking two people with similar recent work history. I went to the top tier. This blog gives people false confidence that their top tier law degree will work out. Not necessarily the case at all.

  96. MacK: maybe no one is to "blame" for the student loan crisis? I realize around here that's hard to fathom, but maybe nobody did anything blameworthy even though we are in a bad situation.

  97. Lawprof:
    I would love to see you do an analysis on the way the oversupply of lawyers benefits Biglaw.

  98. @5:43

    Respectfully, you've a better chance at fucking Alice in Wonderland than that being true.

  99. Clearly this is all Ben's fault for not getting a scholarship at Yale. If he had done that, he would have no problem. I don't understand why this is an issue.


  100. ^^^^

    He didn't even get money in the T-14. That means he didn't "ace" the LSAT as the Profe suggested. He is exactly the type of person people on TLS today would scream at to retake, so as not to "waste" his GPA on a garbage LSAT score.

  101. tdennis,
    There will always be an oversupply of lawyers for Biglaw...

  102. I thought lawprof said he had a 172 -hardly anyone on TLS would recommend retaking a 172. And those who did recommend retaking a 172 couple with a high GPA.

  103. Sorry - I mean only fools would recommend retaking a 172 coupled with a high GPA. Unless he wanted HYS only. But he is unlikely to get a full scholarship from them.

  104. ^^^^

    Well then the story is either made up or the guy slacked off badly in undergrad. It was actually easier to get in with a high LSAT in those days because retaking wasn't as common (reporting had just changed from the average to the highest score.)

  105. 6:37, you're a dipshit.

  106. This is an absolutely horrible American Television show, that celebrates how the 1 percent wants to wage class warfare on the poor and indebted that cannot pay their bills on time.

    I am absolutely ashamed in the face of the rest of the world to call myself an American when I see TV shows like this in an America that broadcasts televion shows like this:

  107. 5:33--why would anyone think a school is going to make their life work out?

  108. This is a sad story, but it does seem that "Ben" made the choice to take the free, lower-ranked school over the costly top school. The whole risk of making that choice was that his degree from the lower-ranked school might not open up the same opportunities as the higher-ranked one. Everyone knows that is the deal. Unfortunately he graduated into a crap market, where there aren't enough jobs for all of the bright young gunners graduating from law school, so where he went to school suddenly mattered a lot more. But, even when I was choosing law schools in 1998 (dark ages), I was aware that choosing money at a lower ranked school was running the risk of having fewer opportunities. I took an offer at a t14 with only partial scholarship help and a lot of loans, instead of much better offers that I had at several "top 30" schools. I don't know how graduates of those schools did at that time, maybe they all got jobs too, but I do know that everyone at my t14 had a good job within a few months after graduation, or at least I never heard of any who didn't. Nobody was doing doc review either. Obviously things have changed a lot since then.

  109. " I do know that everyone at my t14 had a good job within a few months after graduation, or at least I never heard of any who didn't."

    Ummm, those are two completely different assertions. I don't know how things were when you graduated, but T14 isn't what it used to be.

  110. 6:23: He got a full ride at a top 30ish school you fucking moron! How does that equal a "garbage" LSAT score?

  111. Given how gossipy and high schoolish my law school was, I'm pretty sure if someone from my class (or at least from my section) failed to get a job, that would have been Topic 1 on the rumor mill. So I would have heard about it.

  112. Holy shit. Is someone actually arguing that Ben would be better off if he had gone to another school at sticker? There are no jobs open for him. T14 is not going to make any difference because there are no jobs.

    I think he made very smart choices given the information he had at the time. I can't imagine that more debt would mean he would be in a better situation.

    Once again, I want to emphasize the never ending focus on blaming the unemployed student instead of seeing the overall problem. It happens all the time. We really need to fight this perception.

    If Ben had gone to Yale at sticker and didn't get a job it would be because he has a bad personality and doesn't interview well. The level of denial about the public interest job market is incredible.

  113. @ 8:01

    Pray tell us which T14 school has a guaranteed 100 percent employment rate. I already name checked Yale twice.

  114. Yes, 8:02, someone is saying that.

    Which means we've arrived, finally, today at what lies at the heart of the vociferous opposition to anyone who experiences failure: the fact that in America failure is not a part of the known universe: Things either worked out successfully (in which case you might be given credit for it or not, depending on whether we like you lots) or you must have made a mistake somewhere and should be forced to suffer the consequences out of some mistaken sense of morality.

  115. Why does it have to be all or nothing? Clearly, there are not enough jobs. Also clearly, the few jobs that are available are now going to the tippy tip top few grads. They're not going to the "mid-top-tier, was on 'a' journal" people anymore. Why are these controversial statements? It's ruthless out there, for everyone now. It's not the guy's fault, it's just the way it is.

  116. I think full sticker at a T14 vs. full ride at a (1) top-30ish school (U of Iowa? WashU?) that is (2) apparently not well-regarded, or at least not a "plus," outside the isolated, non-economically-vibrant part of the country it is in is a harder call than people are making it out to be. Either choice is reasonable in my view. The T14 does open more doors. In a world of shrinking jobs, guess who still gets hired? Of course it's no guarantee etc. but - sorry guys - Biglaw most definitely still is hiring, just less than the go-go years.

    Also, since Ben chose the riskier of the two options - riskier not in the short-term economic sense but in the short- and long-term career sense, given the preference for pedigree among both private and public-interest employers - as has been stated previously he should have prepared a solid Plan B, instead of putting all his eggs in the public law basket. Even a guy with tons of gov't and NGO internships on his resume can do things to signal his interest to firms. E.g., take Corporations, do securities law research for a professor, etc. Sound boring? Well, if you thought you could definitely avoid those parts of the law and just do public interesty stuff, you (1) were wrong and (2) should have chosen the higher-ranked school, even at higher cost.

  117. LawProf: fantastic interview you did with Bloomberg!

  118. Everything on this blog can basically be summed up in this excellent video critical of education, primary and post-secondary (and law), in the US and UK:

    1. Education is too regimented.

    2. As "Ben" proves, no guarantees flow from following the rules.

    Law school is just a small piece of the problem. Actually I think the way law school is taught is part of the solution, because it does make you think analytically and creatively. (If it didn't do that for you, I'm sorry to hear that; it did for me and as I've left practice is the thing I'm most grateful for.) We just need some way to bring the price down -- state funding, a public interest law firm like ASU just founded [LAWPROF - ARE YOU GOING TO WRITE ON THAT?], lower costs generally (physical plant, salaries, better loan terms), etc.

  119. and yet CUNY isn't going to reduce class size

  120. "thinking about hitting the re-set button"

    I am about to hit that button as well, after graduating with honors in 2010 with all the requisite internships bla bla bla I even tried to open my own practice and went broke, so I'm out, going to move away from my home state just so I won't be around anyone who knows I went to law school.

  121. My message to Ben and all others in his situation:

    I, too, felt like Ben. I don't want to get into the details because I value my anonymity, but I did much of the 'right things' like he did - the prestigious unpaid internships, the good grades, great scores, the years of doing what everyone told you to do, learning 4 languages, living overseas, excellent work history (for several years before going to law school), the scholarships, etc. It just wasn't enough, and I ended up much in the same situation as the guy who worked in Home Depot. It really ate me up knowing that I had done everything to end up in that same boat. So much for doing everything right.

    What kept me sane was accepting that despite passing the bar, I was never going to work as an attorney. Initially, this was a very painful realization, because I had been taught that I could achieve anything and to go after everything with gusto. But one thing I learned is that we don't control everything: I could work as hard as I could and do everything right, but ultimately it was another person's decision as to whether I would get hired as an attorney - it no longer rested with me. Once I accepted this and acknowledged that I didn't have to work as an attorney to be successful, I felt a burden lift off my shoulders. I no longer had to strive for everything. If it wasn't going to come, it wasn't going to come - but I could still be happy anyway.

    Funny thing is, now that I have accepted everything and come to peace w/ it and am actually happy where I am, the doors are opening up again and suddenly everyone is offering me attorney jobs. And guess what? I don't want them. I seriously don't know what to say to someone who offers me an attorney job other than, 'Why would I want that?' I honestly don't know the answer to that question anymore and wonder why I ever wanted to work in the profession to begin with. I strove for so long just to have doors shut in my face that I went somewhere else and found out there were plenty of doors open - I just wasn't looking in the right places. Just because someone isn't 'accepted' in the legal field doesn't mean they're not worthwhile - there are much better places to be, where you will actually be appreciated!

    I have finally come to peace and don't want to go back down that unappreciated road again. I dodged a bullet. Ben did too, although he may not yet realize it. Ben - you're lucky: there are a lot more places where you will be happier - places where you can serve others (which is why you went to law school, right?) and feel much better at the end of the day. Places where you will be rewarded and not always made to feel inadequate. Places where your skills, talent, dedication, and passion will be appreciated, valued, and put to use. Trust me - these places exist. You just aren't looking for them, because like I was, you probably are fixated with the legal field, because after all, you have invested so many years of your life in it. (And dollars!) But the legal field isn't the only place. There are plenty of places waiting for your skills and talents - you may be surprised once you start looking, especially after being told by the legal field over and over again that your skills have no value and certainly aren't worth a paycheck. I hope you don't waste too much more time searching in a profession that undervalues public service. I wish you all the best in finding your better path. There are much more enjoyable paths out there.

    A reformed public interest lawyer - and a happy one

  122. When I was clerking for a 9th Circuit judge, we had a pretty nice gym at the courthouse where I would work out every day with the marshals. Because I was in pretty good shape at the time (serious weightlifting), they would tell me all the time that I should apply for one of those jobs. HOW I WISH I HAD LISTENED, rather than take that temp job, I mean associate position, at Skadden. If only 2012 me could go back and shake the sh*t out of 2001 me, I might have dignified employment today.

  123. @5:43

    I am not saying no-one is to blame for the student loan crisis - there is plenty of blame to go around. What I am saying is that there are a lot of contributors to the crisis, few if any of whom thought they were doing things that would lead to the crisis and many of whom ignored the possibility of negative consequences flowing from policies that benefited their constituency. To this day many probably think that they did nothing wrong.

    I will take the example of say Judy Areen, the former Dean of Georgetown - who presumably thinks she is a wonderful person and is puzzled by so many Georgetown graduates detesting her. In 1990-91 she hosted a national conference of law school deans during the summer and decided that the drab law school needed brightening up with flowers. A student working in administration leaked the bill - it came to about $14,000 - a whole year's tuition! I am sure that to this day Areen does not think she did anything wrong.

  124. As a student at BCLS a decade ago I ran across an exhibit about the early days of the school, back in the 40s. Limited facilities, small library, but dedicated profs and an administration that took seriously the mission of making legal education available to the increasingly middle class urban ethnic population.

    Nobody was getting rich running the law school and teaching there. A few graduates in the 40s, 50s, 60s did get rich, but the majority went on to productive careers inside and outside the legal profession, including a generation of outstanding public servants. Boston has been cleaned up in the last 30 years in no small part by BCLS grads. They also spearheaded the prosecution of the Catholic church, which has got to be the best revenge on the part of the Jesuits.

    What a great school. Too bad it ceased to exist long before the current century. Instead we have the lush Hotel California out there in Newton.

  125. 12:38/Ninth Circuit clerk:

    Are you saying that you're a Ninth Circuit law clerk/former Skadden associate who is unemployed? How long? And why?

    - Another ex-Ninth Circuit law clerk who job-searched (successfully) after the economy crash. I know that the Ninth's law clerks have had more trouble with their job searches than before, but everyone whom I know of has been coming up with something "dignified," usually during the clerkship or within a month or two after leaving. Given that you'd have had far more experience given the timing of your clerkship, I'm wondering what the deal is.

  126. Posts like these make me glad I chose not to go to law school. I don't know if anyone knows "Ben" or if "Ben" is reading this but maybe he should consider trying to get into the Foreign Service.

  127. This is a multi-faceted cluster f@^( that has been created and maintained by every player in the game. At the end of the day, the impact on students (who would otherwise be engaged in and contributing to society) is debilitating in ways that haven't even played out yet. My younger brother wants to go to law school and I have done everything possible to talk him out of going.

    I graduated in 2010 with a job that pays a very decent salary. In that regard, I am very fortunate. The problem is that the 8.5% interest rate the government charges on grad plus loans is debilitating in light of the amount of loans I have. Obviously, I knew that I would have to pay student loans back. What I missed, however, were changes in student loan laws that went into effect around the time I started my first year of law school. Admittedly, I didn't do my homework and assumed that I would be able to do with my law school loans what I did with my undergraduate and graduate loans -- consolidate them at a reasonable interest rate (3.25). Shame on me for not doing my homework; the government took away that option and decided, instead, that all GradPlus loans would be subject to a fixed 8.5% rate. My loans are not at all insignificant so you can imagine how much principal (and how little principal) I've managed to pay over the last two years. I had to make decisions about whether to save for retirement and save for a home, our to put every extra penny I have on my student loans. It angers me and I would like to do something to effect change, but I really don't know how.

    At any rate, I am sure that I, like many others, could rant about this all day. In sum it boils down to 3-4 issues: 1) law schools need to increase admission standards and decrease overall class size; 2) the government needs to stop blindly acceding to each and every tuition increase - schools couldn't continue to raise tuition to obscene levels year after year if the government wouldn't doll out the dollars. Quite an arrangement by the way - schools name their price, feds oblige - and benefit, and the student is left holding a bag that has strong potential for destroying his life. He'll be carrying that bag down the road until he retires - Maybe later.

    Thank you for providing a forum to share thoughts on this issue.

  128. Lol, why didn't this pathetic piece of shit just run up a 4.0 by getting straight As and get a 180 LSAT? Do either of those require social connections or wealth? Or do they just require him not to be a fucking cretin?

    4.0/180 - full ride to Columbia. Very little debt, and if anyone is going to get a PI job, it's someone finishing top 10% at Columbia. Again, none of this requires anything except not being a drooling moron who fucks up everything he touches.

    Seriously, you are a useless piece of crap, Campos, who just hopes and prays that all the students you've defrauded don't pay you a visit and stuff half a dozen pitchforks up your shitty arse. Just kill yourself, ok?

  129. WTF? If he really worked at DA offices, he could hang a shingle and have unwashed masses in seconds. That's the beauty of criminal law, everyone is a solo and you can get out there and hustle for work and make more than waiting tables. Seriously, it's true. I'm more thinking he's a special snowflake and shouldn't have to actually talk to criminals.

  130. @2:48

    Have you gotten a 180 LSAT? I got a 178 and I don't think I could get a 180, there is always some chance you can't hit it.

    This kid got a 172 - I stand by my statement that no one will tell him to retake. Maybe if he had always gotten 178 on his PT he would have been ok with retaking, otherwise, it would have been pointless.

    Probably most smart people could get a 4.0 - I ended up with a 3.9 plus because of 2A-s. I think I could have gotten the 4.0 by planning my schedule better.

    Plus- he was debt averse and he knew what he wanted to do. He didn't need Columbia for that.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.