One thing I think I've underestimated is the extent to which the "prestige" associated with being a lawyer affects peoples' thinking about whether to go to law school. This thread on TLS features an OP who, less than a year out of undergrad, is making $60K at a consulting job which features a lot of career stability, that will be paying him around $80K in his mid-20s, and around $100K by the time he's thirty, and which has ceiling of around $250K long-term, although it sounds as if he's more likely to top out at around $150K-$175K on this career path. He's bored by the work (which in comparison to being a lawyer sounds neither particularly stressful nor time-consuming), and he doesn't like the fact that no one seems overly impressed when he tells them what he does for a living.
The OP is quite refreshingly straightforward about his reason to go to law school: to make a lot of money, and to have a more prestigious job than being a consultant. His plan is to go to a lower T-14 and via a combination of "scholarship" money, family help, and savings, graduate with no more than $100K-$125K in debt. He'll then pay this off by working in big law for a few years, then lateral into an in-house position. (He's got a 3.5 and a 170, which would probably require him to pay sticker or close at lower T-14 schools, and which would leave him with far more debt than this, but he plans to retake the LSAT, add a few points, and shake some money out of Michigan or Penn or UVA or whomever).
His thinking is that the in-house position will in all likelihood pay enough to justify the direct and opportunity costs of going to law school, and that there's a decent chance he could get a post big-law job that would pay a lot more than $250K per year, thus making his law degree a good to excellent investment.
From a purely financial perspective this is, to put it mildly, a terrible plan -- his realistic best-case scenario is that he ends up more or less breaking even in the long run after dropping $500K in direct and opportunity costs by going to law school, and of course he's running a huge downside risk. So why is he even considering it? This is somebody trained in quantitative analysis after all, who is paid to advise business people, so it's not as if he's an innumerate snowflake who doesn't even know what "opportunity cost" means.
Who knows, but my guess is that what this guy is really chasing after is the cultural prestige associated with being a lawyer. When push comes to shove he's willing, or thinks he's willing, to take what from a probabilistic standpoint is a ridiculously risky gamble, in exchange for being able to tell people he's a lawyer.
And that, in the end, is what law schools from Yale to Cooley all sell, in one way or another.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
Heard any good lawyer jokes lately?ReplyDelete
So much for prestige!
The math in law does not work. Even coming from BigLaw and T14 there are 5 lawyers qualified for each opening. BigLaw has not adjusted hiring and up or out policies to take into account the lack of ongoing legal jobs. He is likely to have a bad ending, almost guaranteed bad by the second half of his career if not long before then.ReplyDelete
"the cultural prestige associated with being a lawyer"ReplyDelete
I think you might be a bit off-base and out-of-date on this one, LawProf.
The "prestige"/"attractiveness" factor, I think, tends to wax and wane with mass media portrayals.
With the rise of the internet and the endless subdividing of media audiences, no media representation is going to have the cultural impact of, say, sexy "LA Law" 25 years ago.
And the world of "The Practice" (at least initially) was a world away from "LA Law".
Further, (as with this blog) the *real story* of life as a lawyer is getting out - for the majority of the "profession", it is now seen as a long, over-hyped, drudgery-filled, arguably under-compensated *slog*.
The antithesis of glamour.
Also, I think the insular community that is your average college campus makes professors in general think their own specialty is the cynosure of all eyes.
It probably has something to do with intellectual ego, endless incoming waves of attentive "students", and the torrent of tax dollars (both direct and indirect) that flow into the Academy.
But, again, the internet is undoing all that - debunking sites (such as this one) are undercutting whatever residual appeal the law may have had as a career (which is all to the good, as it mirrors *reality*).
People are still competing (albeit at much lower numbers) to get into law school - but not for "prestige" - instead it is seen (rather horrifically) as one of the few remaining ladders of upward mobility in the US.
For the last dozen years (since the internet bubble), the US has been in a state of slow-motion economic collapse - despite the interest-rate manipulators and real estate bubble blowers of DC.
One look at the employment-to-population ratio of those 25-to-54, over those dozen years tells the tale - a historic post-Depression collapse from 82% to 74% (at bottom).
8% may not sound like much of a decline but each 1% represents *1.2 million* job slots that have ceased to exist (many/most for a good chunk of the past *dozen* years).
The extent and duration of the post-2000 downturn in the US in unprecedented since the Depression.
So law school (indeed, graduate education as a whole) has come to be seen as a life raft in a macroeconomic maelstrom.
But, as we know, for the overwhelming majority of the profession, it is more anchor than boat.
You don't think The Good Wife and Suits are glamorous portrayals of law? In Suits the kid suxceeds even without going to law school at all, just because he is smart.Delete
Both these shows feature beautiful people who work in big offices of firms. Even though the good wife firm is in financial straits- the glamour and allure are packed into the show.
Meant "is" packed in to every show.Delete
I can't think of a single show that has lawyers that does anything other than paint them as having prestige.
They may be glamorous (although in the Good Wife, the firm went *under*) but they each have audiences which are a small, small fraction of LA Law in its 3 network oligopoly heyday.Delete
Neither show is launching the children of an internet-jaded age into law school.
In fact, "The Good Wife" is pretty famous for its poor ratings - its repeated renewals are seen as a CBS "prestige" grab (heh) for Emmys. (Google it if you don't trust me).
As for Suits, I know less about it (although even the best rated cable shows of today get maybe 10-15% of the audience that an 80's broadcast hit got) - but the promos for Suits seem to emphasize the intra-firm intrigue and back-stabbing more than any "glamour".
Perhap the episodes themselves are different.
Granted, neither show illustrates the profession as it really is - the early days of "The Practice" probably came closest (*grubby*).
The truth of contemporary American legal practice probably has a very dark sitcom buried in it somewhere (starring Louis C.K. a la "Lucky Louie").
I disagree. Most of the 0Ls I know watch at least one of these shows. If you don't think the image of these wealthy beautiful people in fabulous offices is glamorous, I guess we just disagree.Delete
None of them show the real state of legal hiring. I guess the Good Wife has had competition between associates for jobs, but the guy who got fired just wen t to work for the prosecutors office.
I honestly can't think of any show that shows anywhere close to the real situation for lawyers. It isn't portrayed anywhere in the fictional media that I have seen.
On Modern Family, the one lawyer quits his job because of the hours and ends up working another job for a partner that has a fabulous house on the beach. He practices environmental law and went to Columbia.
The Good Wife portrays a pretty bleak picture of law. A well-reputed, former JAG lawyer searches everywhere and is told you can't get a legal job without knowing someone. They depicted OCI a few years ago and picked a partner's niece rather than the best candidate. The hot lawyer who was fired was unemployed for a long time before getting a job at the State's Attorney's office.Delete
The temporarily unemployed hot lawyer also went to Harvard.Delete
He worked for the firm, got fired because they could only hire one, was unemployed, worked for the states attorneys office and then the firm hired him back!
It isn't realistic. The cases they take and try aren't realistic.
I disagree with your critique of the post. Topping out at $175K to $250K as a consultant is nothing to sneeze at. The notion that a person already on that path "needs" to become a lawyer to achieve "upward mobility" makes no sense if you subtract the prestige.Delete
This thread also reminds me of a post on TLS I have mentioned a couple of times. In that post, the person felt that going to Harvard equaled 45 years of work making $100,000.ReplyDelete
There is also a thread asking people what full rides they would give up to attend Harvard, Stanford or Yale.
So , yes, law sells prestige and rankings mean uninformed 0Ls chase the highest ranked school they can attend. They have no clue how job prospects work in real life.
Chasing prestige is fine if you cn do it for free. Throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars away just to say you are a lawyer is absurd.
The OP is the epitome of a "special snowflake." In the thread he consistently refuses to listen to anyone because he arrogantly believes he will be a GC in-house at a major company eventuallty.ReplyDelete
He has friends who have been successful in getting biglaw and he feels just as capable as they are, so why shouldn't he go?
I think no one is going to convince him.
I agree. People shouldn't waste their time and words. He's hellbent on perdition; let him go for it.Delete
Is that redundant?Delete
Agreed. Since it's a slow Sunday afternoon and I'm waiting for the evening football game, I read through both the original post and all the comments.Delete
This guy is a special case of a special snowflake. Sheesh. "Prestige." "Being with interesting people." "Having people step back in awe and envy when they hear I'm a lawyer." [the last is not a direct quote, but is implied.]
He's such an ignorant tool, I almost wish him $200K of debt and a bleak future.
The poster at TLS sounds exactly like half of my class at NYU 30 years ago. These were folks who went to law school because, given their undergrad background [and, usually, dubious math and science skills which ruled out b-school + med school], law school seemed like the "thing to do." It combined prestige with comfortable lifestyle; it made the parents happy that their child had focus and a discernible career path. None of them had a clue what practicing law was really about. The panic that spread like wildfire during OCI was the first inkling that perhaps this wasn't going to be the cakewalk most of them had assumed. And this was in a pretty good BigLaw environment. It's astonishing that kids today are continuing to delude themselves in the same way.ReplyDelete
I think a combination of delusion and lack of access to mentors in the respective industries are the factors.Delete
Hopefully, over time, Google can become the parents and mentors these kids never had...Delete
I believe prestige drives education every bit as much as money. Many students know that, these days, there is just as much earning potential in blue-collar work as there is for graduates. But not everything is about money. Being seen as "the guy who couldn't cut it" is disastrous to social life in many circles.ReplyDelete
"Many students know that, these days, there is just as much earning potential in blue-collar work as there is for graduates."ReplyDelete
The 25-54 employment-to-population ratio has seen a 12 year long, slow motion collapse and median household income is lower than it was in 1999 - so *nobody* is making out.
But law schools have enduring myths and dishonest deans to pimp for them.
Graduate education offers the illusion of hope for a dying class (the striving middle).
In reality, it is less lifeboat than anchor for most JDs.
In my opinion, the unknown here is the career progession in this guy's career. Can he expect to do this for 40 years? Is his industry growing? Do most people leave when they voluntarily retire?ReplyDelete
In the baby boomer generation, commercial banking was another career that contracted along with law. As the banks merged and merged again, there were fewer and fewer jobs for bankers. Banking became a sure ticket for ending up unemployed and stranded at some point in a banker's career.
At least in banking there were not a surplus of people trained to be bankers, and there was not an up or out policy. There were fewer people who got caught in the scam - only those who actually found work as commercial bankers. Some of the bankers moved to work for their corporate clients. Some ended up unemployed.
In law, you have the triple whammy of negative forces. First there is an oversupply of people trained to be lawyers relative to real full-time permanent jobs (likely at least 5 licensed lawyers for every salaried or guaranteed payment full time legal job that pays what a school teacher in the same geographic area with the same experience gets when you include employee benefits in the equation for both jobs). Second, you have up or out policies which severely distort the legal job market, making it seem much much better than it is for full time permanent legal jobs and flooding the experienced legal job market with highly qualified, soon to be unemployed younger lawyers, all of whom have been asked to leave BigLaw. Finally you have the trends of less use of lawyers, document review, contract and staff attorneys, almost always staffing human resources and compliance jobs with non-attorneys doing what is effectively legal work, and outsourcing of formerly legal work to consulting firms that have an easier time because unlike lawyers, they can solicit business from non-lawyers who may need the services. The shrink the profession ethics rules prohibit a lawyer from soliciting - even sending direct mail ads to prospective clients designed to get their business.
Ols do not understand the negative forces at work in the legal profession. Few people would sign up for this if they did.
You also have "tort reform" which eliminates a lot of attorney work.Delete
The whole legal "profession" is based on prestige:ReplyDelete
* Numeric "rankings" of law schools by You Ass News (which somehow came to be regarded as the authority on this subject), with ubiquitous reference to "HYS", "Top 14", "Top 20", "Tier 1" (a risible marketing ploy designed to make the fiftieth position on the absurd list sound prestigious), and the like. A ranking of 39 is considerably more prestigious than a ranking of 40; indeed, a one-point decline may well precipitate the dean's resignation, if not a near mutiny.
* Unabashed use of "reputation" as a factor in the aforementioned idiotic "rankings". It matters not that none of the people opining on "reputation" has significant knowledge of each of the 200+ law schools, or that "reputation" could be affected by the existence or otherwise of a prominent football team (which includes no law student) at the parent university (if any). (At least two law schools sent me junk mail inviting me to root for their university's stupid football team at an upcoming game. I sent a contemptuous reply.)
* Parallel "rankings" of law firms.
* Whoring after every little point on the LSAT. Although the test reportedly has a three-point margin of error, 171 is vastly more prestigious than 169 or 168. Why? Because a few points here or there could make a difference to the all-important "rankings" of law schools. So the one applicant gets in while the other does not, or the one pays tens of thousands of dollars less than the other.
* Preference of a higher-"ranking" law school solely for its greater prestige, despite its costing tens of thousands of dollars more—or even a couple of hundred thousand more.
* Linking of law schools themselves to prestige. Someone told me to apply to Princeton's law school, which ceased to exist about a century ago. Similarly, a law school is somehow expected to grace the humdrum but likely serviceable Indiana Institute of Technology and the similarly humdrum city of Peoria.
* Fictitious but unfailingly flashy "specialties" such as "sports law", "entertainment law", "international law", "aerospace law", and "environmental law". Not a single law school anywhere touts a "specialty" in insurance claims or wills; there's nothing sexy about those. Nor is there a "specialty" in Roman law, civil procedure, or anything else that looks hard, academic, unglamorous, and far removed from the circles of prestige.
* Other desperate efforts to distinguish law schools, such as a purported focus on practice over theory ("we're not trying to be another Harvard") or an openness to racialized students (an untapped niche market).
* Comparably desperate efforts to distinguish large law firms. They all do the same shit (mergers and acquisitions, taxation, some litigation), but they strive—ridiculously—to portray themselves as special snowflakes.
* Publishing in the most prestigious law reviews—prestige here being determined by the host school's "ranking". Professors submit en masse to hundreds of law reviews and use an offer from one publication to get an offer from a "better" one—"better" being determined again by You Ass News, the universal authority.
* Refusal by law reviews to accept submissions from students. Why should it matter whether the submission be written by a student or a professor? Because the law reviews exist not for scholarship but for tenure-whoring. So the student's fine and useful contribution goes straight to the wastebasket, while Prof. Dumbfuck's illegible screed on neo-Rawlsian theories of underwater basketweaving ends up in print (collecting dust on the shelves of a few hundred libraries).
* Aggressive pursuit of activities (law reviews, mooting, legal aid, and so on) not for their own sake but to pad the old résumé. These activities themselves fall into a hierarchy, with the flagship law review far above one of the specialized ones.
* Buying and selling of prestigious "internships".
* Currying of favor with the most prestigious professors in order to get a prestigious letter of reference for this or that prestigious clerkship—itself a mere prestigious springboard to a prestigious job.
* Hiring practices that focus shamelessly on prestige by entertaining only those applicants from a "Top 5" or "Top 25" law school (as determined by God's own handmaiden, You Ass News), with experience at a "top" New York firm, and so on. What the applicants achieved (or did not achieve) at these "top" institutions is not so important; after all, only the institutions' sexy names will appear in the biography.
* Overt discrimination against people from a non-prestigious background, such as older students for whom the path to law school was obviously not paved with bricks of gold. Never mind that a fortyish student is up at the top of her class and has a long list of other achievements; she's just not presentable to clients.
* Legal careers undertaken despite a lack of interest or aptitude. Many people don't want to practice law; they want the prestige of being a lawyer.
"which somehow came to be regarded as the authority on this subject"Delete
Regarding "You Ass News" (good name by the way): They came to be regarded as the "ranking" expert because...before them there was absolutely f*cking nothing in terms of evaluating the relative (let along the absolute) merits of the over 100 law schools clamoring for tens of thousands in borrowed tuition dollars.
A hollow, empty, ringing void of darkness comparable only to the moral and ethical codes of the law schools themselves.
Yes. They were the first to have the good idea of "ranking" law schools (and universities more generally), so they became the authority. It was a clever idea; indeed, it was the saving grace of You Ass News, which would otherwise be out of business.Delete
I'm too principled and reasonable to come up with the idea of proclaiming arrogantly that this or that institution is the 47th or 136th best. That's why I'm scrambling to find a goddamn job (despite top grades and a strong résumé) rather than making every law school, law student, and legal employer genuflect before my exalted presence.
"That's why I'm scrambling to find a goddamn job"Delete
Well, if you could come up with a more reliable way (than You Ass) to evaluate law schools on a dollars in (total cost) and dollars out (*true* median salary) basis - the world would beat a path to your door.
(God knows there are plenty of rats in the legal education racket needing fatal traps).
USN&WR has great limitations (including being very late to calling b*llshit on its alleged evaluatees - the schools, who are really closer to co-marketers in some ways) *but* until very, very recently they were the *only* widespread source of independent third party information.
Not to say they aren't worthy of their own cause of action ("negligent misrepresentation" in their compilation of apparently unverified statistics).
Perhaps that rag was "independent" at first. As you said, though, it is now very much in bed with the law schools.Delete
Deans everywhere have signed a letter decrying the idiocy of You Ass News's "rankings"; yet they all dutifully submit data to You Ass News year after year, and the more highly ranked of the humdrum ones trumpet their "Tier 1" status (Hastings is a good example).
My ranking wouldn't sell. I've said before that there are only a couple of dozen law schools in the US that are worth attending—and that's probably a generous estimate. So I wouldn't gravely aver that Bumblefuck was some number of points above or below La Toilette, which is what the buyers of You Ass News want to know.
Also, there's just no realistic way to displace You Ass News: it is widely regarded as the one and only, and contenders (of which there are several) get nowhere. Elizabeth's royal ass will go on occupying the English throne however many more suitable people there may be.
One thing that is missing from the economic equation is the value of employee benefits. Law jobs especially at law firms have no employee benefits. $160,000 sounds great. In New York City, the $90,000 cop salary everyone gets after 5 years of working has overtime attached to it. A cop can easily get $100,000 in cash compensation. In the New York City government, the City spends as much on benefits as it spends on cash compensation.ReplyDelete
In reality, the cop is taking home somewhere north of $200,000. The $160,000 lawyer may be an independent contractor who pays his own benefits. In fact the $160,000 lawyer is earning three quarters of what the $90,000 cop earns. Even a typical first year BigLaw associate will struggle to reach the pay of the cop.
I don't know of any law firms paying 160k that pay their attorneys as independent contractors. Do you? These are full time jobs with benefits. They don't have overtime, true, but they have medical and 401k benefits. What are you talking about?Delete
Im going to have to agree here. A cop, fireman, or garbageman job is better than most law jobs. However, the pay and benefits ARE NOT better than what is provided by big law. The problem with big law is that the overwhelming majority of people with those jobs will not get to keep them for a decent time period, and a significant number of those who get let go will not be able to find anything that matches a cop salary in a big city. Nevertheless, unless you are in a nassau county or suffolk county like LE job, in which case your total compensation exceeds that of a high level medical specialist, let alone a lawyer, Big Law pays better than a cop (as long as ypu have it).Delete
Associates are employees. The extent to which the law firm contributes to medical benefits varies from firm to firm. Some may contribute relatively little. 401(k) for associates is all employee paid. Maybe it comes out to $190,000 for a typical first year associate all in.Delete
Partners are independent contractors. At a small firm, the partner pays everything out of pocket.
"One thing that is missing from the economic equation is the value of employee benefits. Law jobs especially at law firms have no employee benefits."Delete
My firm has:Delete
life insurance ($100,000)
I get all of these coverages.
A partner pays all his own benefits. For associates, the law firm pays a few thousand dollars towards individual (and nothing for other family members) health insurance and provides life insurance of one times base pay. The associate covers the rest of the cost of health insurance. If you get a $5,000 contribution from the law firm to the associate's employee benefits, that would not be unusual. There are also items that are legally required that the law firm pays, like employer share of Social Security.Delete
The thing is, if you were working for a big company in a non-retail job before law school, you may be getting a big employer contribution to health insurance for you and your family, and there may be a pension plan or more than one pension plan for large employers covering you. There also may be a generous bonus (BigLaw has not been generous in bonuses recently). Finally, as you get more senior in the job, to the mid hundreds in base pay, you may get some form of equity compensation. It is important to compare apples to apples and look at the whole compensation package before one quits a good job like the guy we are discussing plans to do. He may in fact be on track to make a lot more than he thinks because cash compensation is not the whole story.
4:08 The question is who pays for the employee benefits your firm offers. The law firms are sticking more and more of the cost of health insurance (including prescription drugs) on their associates. Some firms may be generous, some not. In a big company, the company may pay 80% of the cost of health insurance for your family, including vision and dental. Law firms generally do not pay for dental or vision care. Disability may be employer or employee paid. Short term disability is required in a few states. Some law firms pay for long term disability and some not. Life insurance of $100,000 costs very little for the firm as associates are generally young. In the area of pension benefits, these law firms fall apart. Associates pay everything themselves. The sum total means that the employee benefits in BigLaw are not generous and may be a lot less than in the job you had before going to law school if you had a decent job in a good company. Retail jobs offer little in benefits, so no one loses much in benefits by quitting retail.Delete
If we break down law prof salaries into hours worked, what do we think would be their average hourly rate? What level of big law lawyer would have commensurate pay to a law prof if we compare hours worked to salary?Delete
I advocate for people becoming cops and similar jobs over becoming lawyers as often as I can. However, I do so because getting a BL or similar job is tough as hell. Lets not be fucking retarted and say a cop makes more than a BL associate. If someone keeps a BL job long enough, they blow cops out of the water. The problem is i) most people dont get BL and ii) many that do get it, cant keep it long enough.Delete
Lets not lose credibility by spouting nonsense here. Is a cop better than a public defender or prosecutor? Yes. Is a cop better off than a shit law practitioner without independent support to get business? Yes. Is a cop better off than 95% of lawyers from non-wealthy backgrounds? Yes. Is a cop better off than a third year associate in Big Law? NO! (Unless we are talking Nassau County or something like that, and even then, thats because of the overtime and pensions).
Overtime and pensions are the critical points here. NY City is paying $216,000 or more for each of its very experienced teachers who has completed the requisite number of degrees and gone through the process of requesting regular raises. Private sector employers tend not to be as generous. For police who have regular overtime opportunities the City likely pays as much. Most people going to BigLaw would be hard pressed to repeat that performance until age 55, which I recall is retirement age that is assumed.Delete
We have no information on BigLaw outcomes long term, so why do we think the outcomes average more than $216,000 a year for 30 years? Sort of optimistic, isn't it?
lol, you're way off-base. you done fucked up.
You are wrong. Mayor Bloomberg announced this year that the City's benefit costs for its employees equal cash compensation costs. If you do not understand the value of benefits in a job, you cannot evaluate different jobs. The City has reduced benefits for future hires. In the past, the $45,000 starting teaching job was worth north of $80,000 with benefits, and there were guaranteed salary increases (to about $108,000 salary at the top level after 20 or so years of worth). The typical associate job is very short-lived and carries with it a very low level of benefits. The cash comparison to other jobs is misleading if you leave benefits out of the equation.Delete
The NYC cop gravy boat has sprung a leak, it just hasn't sunk yet. The NYC folks with good pensions and savings and equity in their houses are retiring, selling out and moving to SC, NC, AL, GA, if not FL. The folks that fill their jobs and buy their houses, townhouses, and apartments are highly stretched financially with unstable incomes and no benefits. No way they can continue to fund the NYC PD and FD retirement boondoggles.ReplyDelete
Yes, just another opportunity that was great while it lasted. Petroleum engineering is said to be one of the few hot opportunities these days; but I'd be close to fifty by the time I became qualified in that field, and I don't think that I'd be seriously considered, if indeed any jobs remained.Delete
Oil prices are notoriously volatile over a period of years, largely because the significant upfront expense of developing a well or a field (lowering supply) gives way to very low incremental costs of increasing oil production once the well/field is in place (increasing supply).
This is one reason why the history of oil production is one of boom ("We're out of oil!") and bust ("We're awash in oil!").
Over the last decade oil prices have steadily risen because of,
1) Hugely increasing demand from China, and
2) The debauching of the US dollar by the sh*theels in DC (oil is traded internationally in US dollars and sovereign sellers refuse to take ever more diluted pieces of paper in exchange for their finite real world energy assets - without hiking the price).
There really are no more "safe jobs".
Indeed, there are no more safe jobs, short of marrying a sugar daddy or being born with a silver spoon up one's ass. So what should I do: crawl under a rock and die?Delete
Not going to happen. Worst case scenario is they cut their pensions to - GASP- 40 or 50k, instead of what they currently get: 60-100k at age 45/50, and they cap the overtime to a reasonable rate. How many lawyers and other educated professionals would kill for that? These guys are protected beyond belief. Their nightmare scenario is a working professional's dream.Delete
If you think anything is going to happen, take a look at Chicago.
Campos is right. Prestige and pride is driving this scam. LS enables rich kids to say they succeeded on their own, even if they make peanuts as lawyers, and it enables brainwashed lemmings to think they are part of a club. When its all said and done though, the former get jaded and the latter get destroyed.
It is a cultural lag. For decades, post WWII, Americans believed that higher education, and especially a professional degree, led to financial success, job stability, and interesting work. And the belief was mostly true--until higher education costs went through the roof, digitation made it easy to offshore white collar work, and public sector austerity took on a cast of permenance.ReplyDelete
The cultural prestige may persist a little longer, but it will fade. I predict that inside of a few years, dating profiles will commonly say something like: "Please don't contact me if your educational debt exceeds your annual salary, and I am looking at you, JDs."
In addition, blue-collar work was drying up. Forty years ago, at least an able-bodied man could get a good job at a factory. When manufacturing was sent elsewhere, the universities became the best vehicle for advancement—so everyone and her goddamn gerbil enrolled. Now there's a glut of people with degrees that they can't use, and the professional schools have become attractive. So they too are filling up with all and sundry.Delete
"and her goddamn gerbil enrolled".Delete
Or communications. Or some other variation on the theme of underwater basketweaving.Delete
After reading your post here I went back and read through the entire TLS thread.ReplyDelete
I think the kid seems to be getting the main points by you and by many of the posters there. Still, he also seems to have a point himself - why not take a shot at the brass ring now while he's young and, if he flames out, he flames out?
Consider he's repeated a number of times that he won't go to LS if it will require over 100K debt.
However, I do think he's underestimating his ability to go back to his old consulting job if after LS he does flame out. This despite earlier in the thread, he did himself say that having a JD would make it tough to get a job like his old one back (flight risk, over-educated, old degree stale). So even though he wrote about these things himself, he seems not to have actually internalized them. This is what I see as the biggest weakness in his plan - he's not applying a strong enough negative to what happens if he doesn't get that biglaw job. It could be he'll be doing his old consulting gig or something like it. But it could also be effin' retail, and he hasn't put enough weight on that factor.
The other place where he's blind is in thinking that he'll just be able to jump in-house after a few years and "those working in large corporations have much higher earning potential eventually rivaling those of Big Law partners".
This is just patently wrong. Can a GC at an F-100 corp make money rivaling a biglaw partner? Sure thing. How many GC's are there at all 100 F-100 firms? Yeah, that number would be 100. Note a 2011 AmLaw survey says the 100th highest paid GC's salary is just under 300K, less than half the average large firm partner for 2011 (~680K). And GC's at smaller corps make significantly less. (To be clear, guys on that AmLaw top-100 GC list do get other comp such as options which, if the company does well, can easily double salary.)
And how many partners are there at large law firms overall? 60,000 or so? In any event, for a person to both become a GC and to do so at a rate that rivals average large firm partner's comp is a very, very low percentage bet.
For the rest of the guys working in-house (the non-GCs), salaries average more like 160K. Is it more in larger corps? Yes, it is. Is it less in smaller corps? Yes, it is. I know guys in several large in-house law departments (all F-100 corps) who are not legal VPs but who have 15-20+ years experience, and none of them have salaries much over 200 flat (and some are significantly under).
Depending on bonus (which depends heavily on corporate performance), a few of them could get pushed to 250 in a good year. But corporate bonuses are withheld as many years as they're granted. (E.g., at publicly-traded companies, if the BOD's compensation committee determines the corporate financial metrics were not met, the corporate bonus can be 0%. There may or may not be smaller "personal performance" bonuses available, depending on company.)
Now, that's not to say I don't also know some guys at the legal VP level who have salaries close to or over 250K. I do. It's just that these are not jobs that somebody falls into after 5 years in BigLaw. You generally work your way up to and into these jobs after 20 years, and that means you've proven year after year that (i) you're a real wonk when it comes to all aspects of your job; (ii) you are a great personality fit for that in-house culture (many firm lawyers are not and are gently slid out after a couple of years); (iii) you are a good enough politician to foresee and sidestep sabotage (but don't engage otherwise); and (iv) you have both the confidence and respect of upper business management (promotion to any legal VP level generally requires blessing by CEO and BOD).
So what about the young TLS poster? Is someone who frankly couldn't care less about the law going to be able to fake his way into that 250-300K legal VP slot?
Don't bet on it.
Great post. Points out how difficult it is to survive in house because so many soft factors are involved. Let me say that for those who are not promoted to positions where they manage lawyers, good luck surviving the last third of your career. The concept of fit is most important in house, and people who are a decade or more older than the boss tend not to be a fit. Nothing you can do to change that. People are more comfortable with younger people working for them than old. You really cannot count on full time permanent employment in the private sector in the last third of your career unless you get that promotion.Delete
To 1:10, thanks for the compliment. I agree with a small part of your post but don't necessarily agree with what I apprehend as your main point.Delete
I have seen a lot of in-house downsizing (particularly since about 2006), so to that extent yes it can be very hard to hang onto an in-house position.
But the downsizing I have seen has been across-the-board, young and old alike. I'm counting in my head all the folks I've seen RIF'd, and who their immediate supervising attorneys were. I know of at least 2 guys who were RIF'd and had younger managers, but these guys were both older than God so it would have been impossible for their managers to have been older than them. In that corp, though, 6 attorneys were RIF'd in that sweep, and besides the two older guys, the 4 younger people (3 male, 1 female) all had managers older than them. And in other sweeps, it seems pretty even (older and younger).
I think I've seen you posting similar comments before. It may be that you've had a particularly bad experience at one corp, but in my experiences they (corps) aren't hostile places for older lawyers. Perhaps it's just because the places I know of are for the most part large publicly-traded businesses who take care to "camouflage" their oldster firings with equivalent numbers of youngsters. But I doubt it.
Personalities aside, every hiring, firing, promotion and even just annual performance evaluations have to be vetted through a management committee. When people have to be RIF'd, the manager proffering a candidate darned well better be able to come up with a reason for selecting that person that has something to do with overall performance and not "I'm uncomfortable managing an older lawyer". (Not saying it still can't happen.)
I see very few of my older colleagues in house. Only the few people who were promoted to high level positions are still there. Most of the jobs in house of my colleagues were short lived even years ago. The handful of survivors in house are mostly white males, not minority or female. The females and minorities were almost all fired.Delete
Some companies have complete manager discretion in hiring and firing. There is no material contact permitted with other lawyers that are not in the immediate group.
Some groups and even companies run through lawyers like water. These tend not to be stable jobs for most lawyers.
I am not talking about RIFs. These were all individual terminations. I stand by my statement that in some in house positions, there are few non managers in the last third of their careers.
It's always possible to trump up a justification for firing someone. "I'm uncomfortable managing an older lawyer" is framed instead as "She lacks ambition" or "He doesn't fit well into the team".Delete
I disagree that he is getting the points that are being made in the thread. He feels that going to MVP for $100,000 in debt is a perfectly fine idea. How many grads are now employed by UVa alone? He could easily end up in that boat, much more easily than the biglaw boat.Delete
He has no good reason to dig a hole for himself to the tune of at least $100,000 in the hopes of making more than $250,000 as an attorney.
Even people who don't have good jobs should not go to law school expecting to end up earning over $250,000. A person with a good job and a career ahead of him should be strongly advised not to throw that away chasing the law school dream.
Based on his GPA and LSAT scores, for what they are worth, he is not that competitive. A 3.5 doesn't show that he is a strong student and a 170 doesn't help prove his case.
My guess is that he either quits while studying for the LSAT retake or that he stubbornly sticks it out, ultimately ending up with more than $100,000 of debt. I don't see him going for three years of MVP for $100,000.
"MVP"??? What's that?Delete
Michigan, Virginia, PennDelete
I wanted to comment on 2 other posts you previously posted. Since they are long past, I know that my comments will get ignored, which is why I wanted to post them here, as I didn't get a chance to post them with their respective posts.
First, I want to thank-you for posting regarding the plethora of unpaid internships and how that is really narrowing the field to more well-to-do individuals entering the legal field, as most lower and middle incomed people cannot afford to do unpaid internships indefinitely to get their foot in the door. I did several unpaid internships and the average at the organization where I worked was 5 before people were hired for a paid position. I eventually had to leave the legal field due to lack of finances to be able to continue doing unpaid internships, but am happy I left because I believe I dodged a bullet. Not long ago I read a comment by Prof. Tamanaha about the irony that law professors at law schools tend to care about access to justice issues, but because of their lack of action in addressing high tuition, their actions are directly contributing to ensuring that only individuals from the 1% will have legal positions in the future, because most individuals from the lower and middle classes will no longer be able to afford to enter the legal field. I think it's important to address this issue along with high tuition, because it is directly impacting who will be able to practice law in the future, so thank-you for making it part of your agenda.
I also wanted to remark on your post regarding the increase of females in the legal field. Unfortunately, the discussion got a little convuluted with the numerous young lads who posted thinking they were God's gift to women who went only to law school to catch a good man such as themselves, who were a good catch merely because they went into the legal field - LOL. I was amazed to see that despite going to law school with female students, numerous males could think the only reason women went to law school was to catch a good man - they of course couldn't have the same ambitions as men did. What I never got around to posting was that perhaps it is not coincidental that as more women enter the profession, the salary goes down. It is no secret that professions occupied by women tend to pay less than those occupied by males - as a society, we tend to value male skill sets far more than female ones. Studies are now showing that as more males enter traditionally female fields due to the economy, salaries for those fields tend to rise. Perhaps that is a factor to consider as more females enter the legal field and the salaries correspondingly drop.
Anyway, thanks, LawProf, for highlighting the subjects you do and for trying to make a difference in the field. Hopefully, one day, those efforts will pay off...
"It is no secret that professions occupied by women tend to pay less than those occupied by males..." .Delete
It's no secret why, either, although for certain people it will always be of value to ignore the truth and cling to prejudices that reinforce what they want to believe.
And it has nothing to do with some mysterious "males valued higher".
Men and women doing the same job under the same conditions for the same lengths of time are generally paid the same.
"Studies are now showing that as more males enter traditionally female fields due to the economy, salaries for those fields tend to rise. "
- That is imprecisely stated. What "studies are showing" is that average annual pay is such a field is increasing as males infiltrate such female dominated fields. Guess why? Take off your conspiracy guild tin foil hat for a moment and actually try to use your brain rather than relying on your prejudices. The average is going up because more of the men moving to these fields (a higher percentage of them than their women coworkers) are willing to take schit schedules and schit extra hours in schit duty locations. That drives the average up.
Here's a question for you to puzzle out. If women were really paid less than men for doing the same job and the same amount of work under the same conditions as men working, why would it pay any corporation to hire any men, ever?
Why wouldn't some sneaky corporation start over-loading with female workers on the sly?
I mean, heck, if women really get paid 70% of men's wages, if I could just sneak in an extra 5% of women (without my competitors noticing), I'd have an enormous pricing advantage over them. Simply put, I'd win all the marbles just by hiring a few extra women, and a few fewer men.
The propaganda about paying women eighty cents on the dollar or whatever is mostly a lot of nonsense. It used to be true in some types of work (although more often the women just weren't even considered for employment). Today, however, it just isn't so.Delete
It's true that female lawyers make rather less than male lawyers. But that, without more, doesn't imply gender-based discrimination. Several factors explain the difference:
1) Far more than men, women want to take time off to have children. That time off sets them back professionally.
2) Far more than men, women want to work part time. Obviously they cannot expect full-time pay for part-time work.
3) Women are much more likely than men to go into areas of practice that are pink ghettos, such as family law—in part because these are more flexible about scheduling. These areas also tend to pay relatively little. Again, everyone knows that corporate litigation pays better than divorces and custody battles.
Tragic. I have also seen many parents with young children - many of whom were earning decent salary - take the law school plunge. Of course, the commodes don't care if those people end up worse off than before. Remember, the "professors" and deans get paid up front, in full - regardless of outcomes for students and grads. What a great $y$tem, huh?!ReplyDelete
With respect to the "consultant" who is on track to earn $250,000 but is thinking of throwing it away to go to law school. Would you take consulting recommendations from anyone that stupid? I mean, anyone that thick is likely to be culled out fairly soon anyway.ReplyDelete
Lawprof asked me a while back to not post on this blog anymore, and I kept my promise for a little while, and then just decided that it is only a blog after all, and that no money is being made or exchanged, and that Lawprof or DJM don't make money from this ILSS thing, and so I continued making off topic posts as Anon, as well as some that were more serious and which were taken seriously as evidenced be some of the comments in response.ReplyDelete
A Federal SL debt of the magnitude that I have reaches into the absurd in life, and affects the individual psyche, over time, more than perhaps is appreciated by the peanut gallery, and maybe that is why I have taken up the role of King Lear's Fool, with riddles, jingles, limericks, goofs and tongue in cheek nutty forays.
But anyway, here is a copy of what I posted on TTR, in response to what seems like a rare life buoy of advice about 10 year Public Service Loan Forgiveness:
You are really horrible. Don't talk about my parents. They are old and have illnesses. What kind of a bastard are you anyway?
You proclaim so loudly about how Public service Loan forgiveness is the answer for student loan debt.
I am going to start a new blog, and chronicle a job search for a public service job.
I am also going to find out for sure if $342K of Federally loans will in fact be wiped away after 10 years and with or without an IRS tax bill at the end.
If I am able to land such a job and with all guarantees that I can have my loan discharged after 10 years, I will proclaim you to be correct and owe you an apology.
As it stands now you owe me an apology for insulting my parents. And calling me white trash kind of indicates something about you.
In fact, why don't you just tell me who you are?
If you feel so right about everything you say, you wouldn't be anon.
I went on television and also on NPR radio, and no one- not the interviewers, not the producers, etc. told me about public service loan forgiveness after 10 years for a debt of my magnitude.
cc. Cryn Johannsen
All Education Matters
Two last remarks: 1. Not even Deborah Cassens Weiss bothered to tell me that my SL debt could be discharged after 10 years under Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
2. When someone screams "Unga, bunga, bunga!" in your face, the best reply is: "Unga Bunga, Bunga, Inga Binga Binga Bungahhh!"
@ about 10 seconds here:
Did anyone tell you about the jobs at the fracking rigs in North Dakota?Delete
I think what ticked them off at third tier reality was the fact that you wanted all 360 million people in the US to pay down the 1 trillion in student loan debt at a rate of 1000 thousand a month or even all 7 billion on planet Earth to pay it down, which includes starving people in third world countries.Delete
Of course that trillion dollars doesn't actually exist in any physical form, due to our fractional reserve lending system.
This is what you wrote:
A trillion dollars is a million million, or a thousand billion dollars.
If all 360 million people that are in the US started paying down the 1 Trillion dollars in outstanding US Student Loan Debt at a rate of one thousand dollars a month, how long would it take to pay it off?
How long if they all paid two thousand dollars a month?
What I do know is that there are 7 billion people in the world, and if each paid about 142 bucks it would equal a trillion.
A trillion one dollar bills, laid end to end, would reach the sun which is about 92 million miles away.
You can't get loan forgiveness if you are in default.Delete
The rules are pretty clear. No one may have suggested it to you because they assume you don't qualify.
To 11:53 a.m. and all other posters who talk about how wonderful it is to be a cop or other blue-collar government worker: that party is about to end (or as 12:20 p.m. it in his excellent metaphor, the "gravy boat has sprung a leak, it just hasn't sunk yet"). Cities all across the country are going bankrupt because they promised their employees (both white- and blue-collar) pensions and post-retirement healthcare benefits that they can't afford to pay. San Bernardino, California, filed for bankruptcy in July, largely because they spend "about 75 percent of their general fund budget on salaries, benefits, and pensions, with the vast majority of those expenses coming from one class of employee: public-safety workers, meaning cops and firemen, who earn as much as $230,000 a year with overtime." Several other medium -sized cities in California have also gone bankrupt over the last couple of years, such as Vallejo and Stockton. These lavish public-sector pensions, salaries, and healthcare benefits are completely unaffordable, and the only two potential outcomes are cuts in those items or municipal bankruptcies, both of which are obviously bad for workers (the federal government is $16 trillion in debt, so there aren't going to be any federal bailouts coming). Anyone who is interested in this topic (or simply skeptical of what I have to say) should read this article by Kevin Williamson in National Review: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/312525/penniless-paradise-kevin-d-williamson (yes, Williamson is a conservative, but the article consists entirely of the reporting of facts, not policy recommendations).ReplyDelete
* as 12:20 p.m. put itDelete
Not happening in New York City. The City is not bankrupt. Far from it. A few years ago I came into contact with a policeman who was making not quite half but almost half of the salary they make now. He was worried about paying his bills. Really nice young guy. That was before the legal profession imploded with vast numbers of surplus lawyers. Now the tables are turned. Police are very well paid relative to lawyers. They give law firm associates in big firms and in house lawyers a run for their money and they have more job security. Not sure why the uniformed services got these hefty raises far above cost of living, but that is what happened here. Teachers are also highly paid. Now it is difficult to get tenure in the first three years though and jobs for new teachers are scarce.Delete
2:46 here. You're right that NYC isn't in bad financial shape right now (I live in NYC), but the reason for that is because of all of the tax revenue it gets from Wall Street. With the bad economy of the last few years, Wall Street revenues have been dropping, and the result is less tax revenue for the city. NYC has also given out lavish pensions and benefits to many (though, as you point out, not all) public employees, so the storm is coming to NYC as well, just not as soon as it did to other cities that didn't have large Wall Street tax revenues to prop their finances up.Delete
3:53, you get it, TITCR. In the big and rich cities, these jobs will remain protected. Like I said above, there worst case scenario is a professional's best case scenario. If I could only turn back the clock, I would have gone down that route. Look at what happened in Chicago, did the unions get their way? Did they get a raise from people.getting kicked in the teeth? You bet your ass they did.Delete
The fact that a couple of shit dump, no name cities, are going bankrupt means nothing. The day NYC, Boston, Chicago, LA, etc cant meet their payrolls we have bigger problems to worry about.
If you are smart, (but not smart enough for HYS, MIT or Cal Tech), poor, young and hungry, drop out of high school, do two years at a community college, and ride the politically protected gravy trains to sunset. At most, try to become a teacher (if blue collar work is too beneath your standards).
Otherwise, when you burn, STFU. You were warned. I wish I was too.
San Bernardino and Stockton aren't "shit dump, no name" cities. San Bernardino has a population of 213,012 and Stockton has a population of 296,357 (source: U.S. Census Bureau via Google). The Chicago teachers union (and perhaps other unions too; I'm not that familiar with Chicago politics) may have gotten their way now, but math trumps political power in the end. Very soon, the money will run out, and no amount of political connections will protect the union salaries, pensions, and benefits then. Increases in the money supply by the federal reserve won't work because eventually we'll have Weimar Germany-style inflation as a result.Delete
Also, NYC has a $3.5 billion hole in its 2013 budget that Mayor Bloomberg is currently trying to figure out how to close, and that number is as of mid-September (i.e., before Hurricane Sandy struck and added a huge amount of expenses for the city). That $3.5 billion statistic is from this article: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-09-13/legal-claims-add-to-new-york-citys-budget-woesDelete
Here's another good article on the financial troubles of cities around the country, from the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/11/nyregion/deficits-push-municipalities-to-desperation.html?pagewanted=allDelete
The counties you mentioned are insignificant in comparison to places like NYC and the like. When the money runs out in places that matter, this country will be fucked period. In the meantime, those places provide the jobs for social mobility.Delete
The NYC Department of Education has had a hiring freeze in place for teachers for several years (there are ways around it, so small numbers of people are getting hired, but there's no large-scale teacher hiring in NYC anymore). Some city agencies are still hiring, but not in large numbers, and the salaries and benefits will go down to address the budget problems (Gov. Cuomo, a Democrat, is pushing for new pension tiers that would reduce benefits, though we'll have to see if he sticks to his guns in the face of union opposition). Those government jobs won't provide social mobility for much longer.Delete
Paul - this is EXACTLY th eguy and situation I brought up to you and Transparency Boy when you started out this blog. Transparency is a fine thing and I admire you for your work in that arena - if nothing else it reveals the absolute scumbaggery that exists in supposedly progressive institutions. The problem is that guys like this will ALWAYS exist. Yes, the numbers will go down but the level of tution sure as hell will not as long as there are federally backed student loans with no limit or caps.ReplyDelete
Can we concentrate on the student loan crisis? Caps on tuition, bankruptcy protection, etc., should be the main foucs of any reform. Guys like this will always exist to be taken advantage of.
The point is to make it clear just how foolish this guy is, so that fewer people follow hi, due to not knowing any better. He throws out numbers, which are shown to be full of BS.Delete
Not that long ago people would have accepted his example.
I agree that this guy and his ilk are not going to listen. In fact, a good number of 0Ls are not going to listen.Delete
But I still think we are early in this process of educating people about the true employment numbers. We are still early in the process of revealing all the lies schools have told and are continuing to tell. We haven't even hit the ABA that hard.
And we do still need to focus on loan reform. But that isn't going to happen soon.
As far as prestige goes, I look upon the police with much respect and hold them in higher regard than any lawyer.ReplyDelete
That is why I did not go down to or want to have any involvement with Occupy. I did not want to bother the cops that were doing their jobs.
Hell, the Baby Boomers were the ones that probably showed the most disrespect for the police and law enforcement in the nation's history.
Four dead in Ohio. Well.........what kind of a world did the boomers create? Neil Young is rich and probably still pulls in royalties from that old song.
Thats good. Thats why they, and similarly situated "public servants," make more than doctors now. You might want to look at the requirements for the job now. Have a look at some of the sample exam questions too. Im sure the nation will do just fine when the best and brightest from non-wealthy families realize they are better off dropping out of high school than trying to strive for something more. Its only a matter of time.Delete
Whatever prestige the legal profession had was drained out long ago to make way for the low quality law schools and their sea of graduates. The only people who still see being a lawyer as prestigious are completely ignorant of what's going on with the profession. There many more effective and less costly ways to increase one's standing among friends and coworkers than pursuing a degree that has been trading on its former reputation for too long already.ReplyDelete
Yes, if you talk to attorneys who were licensed prior to the 70s they talk about the tight knit legal community where everybody knew everybody, people's word was their bond, they tried to settle cases because everyone had more work then they could handle, judges weren't political hacks, etc. All long gone.Delete
I spoke today with a medical resident who told me that after his school expanded its facilities, it opted not to increase its class size despite the facts that the country needs more doctors and that the expansion left room for about 40 more students.ReplyDelete
1. Why the difference? Is this explained by the stronger AMA cartel?
2. Why do medical schools forgo the extra revenue? If they are brining in revenue from elsewhere, why is med school tuition so high?
What about the human toll on a person from the stress of practicing law? Who needs it.ReplyDelete
Good News for Student Loan Debtors!ReplyDelete
This Blog and Post reveals the secrets of "Public Service Loan Forgiveness"
If you are unlucky in Law and cannot find a legal job (Lawyer or Paralegal) with a JD, you can heed the advice here and after 10 years your SL debt will be all gone:
No other profession, except maybe medicine, inspires this degree of irrational longing. We have this guy who assumes that if he can just get his T14 JD a BigLaw job paying 200k+ will be his, just like that. In the same forums you have others who's "dream" is becoming a lawyer.ReplyDelete
You don't see accounting or sales inspiring people to give up everything to follow their "dream" - even though from what I've read being a lawyer usually involves either long dreary hours of boring office work or perpetually hustling for clients.
The mass media has a lot to answer for. Its been promoting an unrealistic image of the business of law for a long time.
Unlike law schools in days of old, medical schools are not and have never been tuition cash cows for affiliated universities. Medical school education -- particularly after the first four years -- is extremely labor intensive. (Something for those in favor of law school curricular reform along the med school model to keep in mind.) Med schools pay universities back in prestige and in alumni contributions but they have to be willing to wait quite a while for both, unlike the law school immediate gratification model.ReplyDelete
The OP probably has more going for him than most law students and graduates. if he goes to a t14 school and does well, he has a better chance than most. I think he should do fine if he studies hard.ReplyDelete
the only thing is he may be better off getting another year or two of experience before going to law school
OP has a job and a career. OP does not want to be a lawyer. OP is giving up that job and career so he can make more money long-term than he can in his current career.Delete
I think OP has some friends he is jealous of and he wants to follow their success. After all, he thinks, they did it, why can't I.
OP hates the drudgery of his current job. Coupled with his complete lack of desire to be a lawyer, he will hate law more then his current job.
I note he has nowhere in his posts even considered that he might hate law more than consulting.
He, like so many 0Ls, only sees the Biglaw salary numbers- and even those numbers are declining along with the number if jobs .
Most 0Ls on TLS refuse to believe that severe structural change has happened in Biglaw. They discount all stories to the contrary . Most of them think that biglaw hiring will be increasing as the economy starts chugging along.
"Most of them think that biglaw hiring will be increasing as the economy starts chugging along."Delete
The American economy will never chug along again.
The best scenario that be hoped for is the current stagnant, virtually no growth economy...a gradual, slow and relatively peaceable decline and eventual fall.
The worst case is a second Great Depression, civil war, the violent breakup of the United States and a swift wrenching collapse into a "Mad Max" style dystopia
In either case, the vast majority of lawyers simply aren't getting those coveted brass ring Biglaw jobs.
This is really depressing. But I tend to agree....Delete
That was me 14 years ago (albeit not with a consulting gig). I had my 3.5 from a big 10 and a 172. I got sticker at Michigan (and Cornell and NYU, but no Chicago or Stanford).ReplyDelete
Here it is Sunday night, I'm doing time sheets at 9:00 p.m., worked this weekend while my three kids were sleep. I've stopped drinking because it's easier to get by on four to six hours of sleep without any booze. I'm still waiting for that in-house gig to open up.
Kids, the best-case scenario of the law school scam is a tough life. There are (much) easier ways to make a living. You don't want to be the guy working 60 to 70 hours so you can bill 45 to 50.
P.S.-- I got my wife mad when she was watching the Good Wife because I said "No way chicks that hot work law firm gigs."
Au contraire, people in big law are disproportionately good looking.Delete
None of them look like Julianna Margulies.Delete
are u a 9th year associate? why are u still filling out time sheets if you went to LS 14 years ago?Delete
Partners and counsel have to do their time too, you know.Delete
Lawprof: if you ever need fuel to keep you going. Here is part of a post in a thread on TLS for 3Ls without a job.ReplyDelete
In truth, I sometimes feel that the biggest mistake was not killing myself after striking out when I was at the bottom of a mental pit rather than have wasted so much time and money and other people's time, would have even be a positive for my law school since one less person it would have to bs for job stats.
Breaks my heart. This kid needs to know that the schools have lied for years and years about employment, that there just aren't enough jobs and that he isn't alone in being scammed.
I wish the scammers had any sense of pity or even better any sense of obligation toward the 3Ls that they are getting ready to push out the door without jobs and with massive debt.
"Vt. law school cutting jobs, preparing for changes"ReplyDelete
This could be called the beginning of the end.
‘‘Distance learning,’’ with classes offered mainly online, is becoming increasingly popular. Mihaly cited his daughter Elena, a third-year VLS student who is taking courses online while already working at the Colorado attorney general’s office in Denver.Delete
great way for the LS to cut down on fixed costs during 3L year
The mental deficient on TLS is vastly overrating himself.ReplyDelete
I know something about consulting. The turnover is high by design. It is, like law, and up-or-out system.
He'll be gone in 2-3 years, likely fewer.
The progression he describes is, like his Biglaw aspirations, far more theoretical than reality for the majority.
He doesn't have the connections, work ethic, or idiot savant-like aptitude, in that order, to likely do even moderately well in law.
With the ongoing contraction of Biglaw, he is far more likely to end up under / unemployed vs. a Biglaw Associate position.
The rest has been said.
Special Snowflake who is ready to throw himself head-on into the Grinder not realizing that there's a far better chance of a bloodied carcass coming out than quality sausage.
People are too quick to believe his claims of a high income and bright prospects in "consulting". I suspect that he's a zero who is only big-noting himself. Even the GPA and the LSAT score may be exaggerated.Delete
His fantasy of attending a Michigan for half fare will transmogrify itself into acceptance of a Vanderbilt at full fare. He'll be mediocre at best, because his heart isn't in it. He's nothing but a prestige whore. And that will show.
Maybe the person who got him the job in "consulting" will pull strings again and get him into some law firm. But he won't last.
Don't try to talk him out of it, though. His mind is set on becoming a lawyer; he only seeks confirmation.
My mind is set on dating Tori Praver.Delete
You think that's likely to happen, maybe?
I wishes were horses, we'd all ride. If hs was doughnuts, we'd eat 'till we died.
Oooh, this is fun. I want to go to law school, and after I graduate I want to work for the public defender and or attorney general. Then, after 2-3 years at the AG and or PD (once I get enough trial experience), I can start my own solo shop performing white collar defense for CEOs and other executives. My exclusive client base will probably generate 500-600k a year in billings, which will make for a great life.ReplyDelete
Meow Meow responds: Don't fix something that isn't broken.ReplyDelete
This is discouraging. Nothing about the law or the lifestyle it may entail would turn me off if it weren't for the damn debt; the unavoidable debt; the regressive barriers to entry. I love the law. I love it. I love 'boring' legal research. I love writing. I love the strategy one can inject if one's plucky. I love court. And I would take it all back if I could have a legitimate hope for a future of even a normal middle class existence. But there's not much of that. And really, the debt is to blame. Debt removes choice.ReplyDelete
My rotten ttt made absurd claims for years about its employment stats. I looked at their site recently and saw a kinder gentler "we know things are temporarily bad due to the economy" theme. Really? Funny how only a few tears ago career services wouldnt even return emails or phone calls. Though they did tell a classmate to seek "less competitive geographic markets". They didnt reduce tgeur tuition though despite an inability for their garbage degree to comoete with t14 schoolsReplyDelete
I'd be curious to know how many law students since the '80s are the first generation from their families to go to college. I suspect quite a few. Their parents were middle class blue collar who wanted to make sure their own children went to college or even law school. But really thought once you had the degree it was a ticket to a better life. Not really understanding the economics of a professional life.ReplyDelete
I once gave a summer job to a young man just to convince him not to go to law school. His dad was an auto worker who wanted his kids to be professionals. I spent the entire summer explaining to him why law school was a terrible idea. In the end he didn't want to disappoint his dad so off to Cooley he went. I think we all know the rest of the story.
Now that I'm thinking about it .... I know several students who went to Cooley whose dads were auto workers. Is that their niche? Prestige degrees to auto worker kids? Is that why they are so huge in Michigan?Delete
This was my story. My dad looks at my situation in disbelief now that he knows I would have been better off working for the city. I remember the pride in his eyes when I graduated, but I feel unending shame for my mistake. When I see what I could have had if only I possesed a little humility and drank the mother's milk offered by the political class, I feel deep, deep shame. And my outcome is relatively good in comparison to my classmates...Delete
I feel like there's even more pressure if your parents are professionals. Both my parents are college professors and it would be unacceptable not to go to grad school in my family. They know that there are few tenure track positions these days, so they said get a JD instead of a PhD. It is so hard to be the only one without a higher degree in your family, so it's easier to just go along with it.Delete
The auto worker knew that his own line of work was in decline. Wanting his kids to be professionals was understandable. Unfortunately, law isn't much better than auto work these days. And a graduate of Cooley doesn't stand a chance.Delete
Vermont Law School is offering voluntary buyouts to its staff and might soon do the same for its faculty as it deals with increasingly small enrollment.
If this guy is so determined to base his law school decision on pure math (as he sees it), he should figure out what European country would let him study there for a cheap law degree and then only pay a U.S. school for the one-year L.L.M.ReplyDelete
He probably doesn't speak anything but English and wouldn't be competitive for law school in Europe.Delete
Here is a response from another idiot consultant who quit his consultant job to focus on the LSAT:ReplyDelete
OP, I was in your same boat about 6 months ago. I have a technical undergrad degree and was doing consulting making $60K a year, so maybe I can provide some perspective. I quit my job in order to solely focus on the LSAT. The problem with the analysis of a lot of people is that you cannot put a price on misery. All this opportunity costs this and opportunity costs that was meaningless to me. I knew I could not wake up every day for the next 40 years wondering how far I could have gone with a T-14 law degree. I wanted to know what would happen if I put all my effort into the LSAT. I will attend law school in only one of the three circumstances though: (1) YHSC at sticker, (2) the rest of the T-14 at $ and (3) UT-Austin with $$. If you set standards, you should do ok. My reason for getting a law degree is a lot different than most on this board though: I am going to law school solely as an avenue to get into politics. A lot of people think this is a dumb idea to go to law school, but advanced education for a political career is important or you may end up like Rick Perry or Sarah Palin and barely be able to string together a few coherent sentences.
Note: Rick perry has a JD.
My error: Rick Santorum has a JD not perry.Delete
Not really first generation college (I have an uncle who went to college and worked for the government), but I am the first to go to grad school and the only lawyer even remotely connected to my family. I graduated in the mid-90s with only $35k in debt after two undergrad degrees and JD - all at state schools (Top50 law - regional, but then I left the state). I have been in-house almost from the start and have done incredibly well with options, salary and bonus - if I told you how it all came about, you wouldn't believe it. I know how lucky I am. I also know that I had one vacation day this year...that I am tied to the phone and laptop virtually 24/7/365...that the outside lawyers I work with say I work more than they do...but that is just who/how I am. I tell everyone I meet to be wary of law school. I tell them that my story is "one in a million". I explain that most people in law don't like it...the stress, the hours, the tedious nature of it...that 90% of lawyers are grinding for less than $100k per year and are deeply in debt....that despite the money and my weird affection for the crap that I do, it has taken its toll on me and my family. I tell them that as I approach my mid-40s I know that when this gig ends I will probably never get another job as a lawyer because we really do have a career-span like pro athletes...so I have lived well below my means to save enough to live on afterwards as I scrounge for jobs bagging groceries. I have friends whose children are coming of age...and I direct them to this blog and related articles...I never say "don't", I say "read this first". Law has got to be your life and passion for you to have even a remote chance of making it work financially...and even then there is way too much luck involved to gamble high debt on it for folks who don't have a lock on a spot due to connections.ReplyDelete
Consultant who quit: I am going to law school solely as an avenue to get into politics.ReplyDelete
Still in school, eh?
Falling is a lot like flying until you hit the ground.
Even worse, the consultant who quit and is advising the OP to do the same hasn't even started law school yet.Delete
That is some 0L to 0L advice. And completely worthless.
And he/she is entering politics a bit late. They should just put their money where their mouth is, and go straight into politics.Delete
Law is a tough profession, and not very lucrative anymore. Consider this: though the number of applicants has fallen, the number of graduates has stayed the same or slightly increased. That ebbs away the old prestige stone, doesn't it?ReplyDelete
The day to day life of a lawyer isn't glamorous, prestigious or even interesting. Very few litigators try cases anymore. If you go to biglaw, you will not be trained and will not learn how to practice law in any meaningful sense. If you crap out at biglaw, which you likely will, you're then unemployable in real law, otherwise known as "shitlaw" because you have no skills and no book of business.
Why go into big debt to accomplish this? If you have no self esteem, no marketable skills, and no job prospects, it may make sense. Otherwise, not so much.
$1 Trillion in student loan debt equals $2,800 for every man, woman, and child in the U.S.ReplyDelete
$16.5 Trillion in federal public debt equals $45,000 for every man, woman and child in the U.S.
When you add in mortgage debt, and private consumer debt, and state and local governmental debt, you're well over $100,000 for every man, woman, and child in the U.S.
That is not sustainable where the per capita income of the U.S. is approximately $48,000.
not all debt is bad and not all debt is the same.Delete
Agree. But not all debt is good, and almost all debt incurs interest.Delete
"That is not sustainable where the per capita income of the U.S. is approximately $48,000."Delete
Pretty sure that $48k is *household* income not *per capita*.
If so, then divide the 48k by something like 2.2 to get true per capita.
Of course, this makes everything look even *worse*.
Which it is.
"That is not sustainable where the per capita income of the U.S. is approximately $48,000."Delete
You're wrong; please talk to somebody who knows finance.
When you covet prestige, you've surrendered your individual identity and self respect. You're playing another man's game, for another man's prize.ReplyDelete
"A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon." - N. Bonaparte.
Very true. And the sad part is, by the time he's forty he may have a much different perspective about the merits of chasing "prestige," but of course by then it may be too late.Delete
Hopefully when he is 40 he can remember that he chased prestige because he didn't want to wonder "what if" he had gone to law school.Delete
Yeah he can remember that every month when he sends Sallie Mae a check... which he will probably still be doing at 40.Delete
A modest proposal:ReplyDelete
In the 3 or 4 states where "reading law" is still a path to entry into the profession, why don't more solos employ "apprentices" to supplement their incomes? This is win/win. You could charge something like $25,000 per year for 3 years from the apprentice, get free labor from your apprentice, and the apprentice would still save $100,000. Solos get income and labor, law schools get the shaft, and the apprentice might actually learn something.
Uh, why you ask?Delete
How about, "cuz it's illegal" to do what you propose.
These law schools are p1ssing on hospitality! And George Hardy won't allow it!ReplyDelete
I am the "idiot consultant" that quit their job to focus on the LSAT. When you are miserable, all this opportunity costs crap does not mean a sack of beans. I would have not quit my job if I did not have a very good GPA (3.7). I just need to pair that GPA with a nice LSAT number. Like I stated in my TLS post, I will only attend law school under the following three circumstances: (1) YHSC at sticker, (2) T-14 with $(at least $60K or so depending on which T-14 it is), (3) or UT-Austin with $$ (I am from Texas-- UT has a lot of lay prestige in the state). Instead of getting a law degree, I have thought about obtaining two master's degrees from elite schools before getting into politics, but I don't think this would be as well respected as a law degree from an elite school. For someone that truly is serious about having a political career (being a state representative or city councilman does not count), it is important to get some advanced education.ReplyDelete
Wow, you really are an idiot. Unless you want to go the Karl Rove, professional operative or think tank route, having a career in politics means running for elections. Which means getting people to like you enough to vote for you. And voters care less about your TTT sheepskin and more about what you can actually do as a public official. And consider this: Harvard Law Review would have been worth crap if Barack Obama hadn't gained enough experience as a grassroots organizer to get elected... as a state rep. Serious about getting into politics with zero interest in practicing law? Here's a tip: join the military. Voters love vets more than they love lawyers with no experience.Delete
Local voters in small time elections might not care that one has a TTT sheepskin, but for big time state wide politics it matters a lot. Do you think President Obama would have been selected for the keynote address at the 2004 DNC without his elite educational background? Of course not. His elite education is what distinguished him from all the other Senator and Presidential candidate wannabees. What do you think makes a politician special and stand out more from the other clowns?Delete
I'd agree that a degree from Harvard Law School would help a lot. But from MVP?Delete
"When you are miserable, all this opportunity costs crap does not mean a sack of beans. "Delete
You really don't read well, do you?
One of the things specifically mentioned is that the odds of you being miserable practicing law are very high, probably higher than for another consulting job.
I don't plan to practice law for very long. I am going to go directly into politics. If I do not make it very far in politics, I will figure something else out. I am not so sure about MVP. Those schools do still have some lay prestige. There have been a lot of senators with degrees from MV. I am surprised Penn has not produced a major politician in recent times. I think Columbia has a lot of lay prestige as well. Columbia will produce a major politician in the near future.Delete
"Two masters degrees from elite schools"Delete
You should only go to school because you actually want to learn the content and advance intellectually. Wanting to go just to look smarter to other people is plain stupid. And why would you plan to do TWO masters degrees? Obviously, you're just prestige whoring. You don't belong in any grad school until you have a better reason for wanting to go.
I have zero undergrad debt and 60K in savings. The two master's programs I am looking at are each only one year, so the opportunity costs would be low. If I cannot get into an elite law school, I am going to do that instead and start working my way up the political ladder. A politician's educational background is very important if they want to be big time. Being a state representative or city councilman isn't what I would call a political career.Delete
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete