It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it. -- Upton Sinclair --
This is why your law school charges what it charges. This is why your professors believe sincerely in the “value proposition” of what they have to offer. This is why nothing ever changes, until it does.
If something cannot go on forever, it will stop. -- Herbert Stein --
When the price of something increases and its value decreases, at some point people will not pay for that thing any longer.
Debts that can’t be repaid won’t be. -- Michael Hudson --
That someone lends you money does not mean there is a reasonable probability that you will be able to repay that money. It only means that someone is making money from loaning you money.
Your odds of finishing in the top ten percent of your class are ten percent.
Working harder than everybody else is not a plan if everybody else has the same plan.
There is no such thing as international law.
Or environmental law. Or human rights law. Or sports law. Basic rule: If some form of legal practice sounds interesting to non-lawyers, it does not exist.
The only reason to go to law school is to be a lawyer.
A law degree is not versatile. Non-legal employers don’t like to hire lawyers, because for among other reasons they believe, correctly, that law school has not prepared people to do something other than practice law. (It hasn't done that either but whatever).
Three years is a long time when you’re 22.
This means that if you can’t get a real job as a lawyer then law school costs far too much even if it’s “free.”
People who aren’t lawyers don’t know much about being lawyers.
This group includes your professors.
Spent money is gone.
It’s never too soon to fold a busted hand.
Having no good options does not make law school a good option.
But isn’t it pretty to think so?
"People who aren’t lawyers don’t know much about being lawyers.ReplyDelete
This group includes your professors."
It also includes your parents and first-year law students.
and 2Ls, 3Ls, first and second year associates.... etc.Delete
Second! This list needs to be e-mailed to every single person who has signed up to take the LSAT.ReplyDelete
Agree on most, but international law, environmental law, etc. do actually exist. There just aren't very many jobs available doing them. I don't think it serves anyone to pretend that there are no lawyers practicing international law or environmental law (or even "sports law" if you're talking about being a sports agent, I guess).ReplyDelete
The number is quite small, except for lawyers who do some "environmental" law, which is many if you include land use.Delete
Environmental law is a code word for "regulatory compliance." The problem with environmental law is that those who are interested in it think they'll be writing Brandeis briefs on Polar Bears. In real life, they'll be arguing over the adequacy of a Phase II study, whether a construction permit was properly denied, whether the standard applicable to the bakery's retaining tank anhydrous ammonia filtration unit should be the general point source standard or some lesser food source standard, etc.
That is environmental law boys and girls.
This. People are so literal-minded. Obviously all these practice areas exist but they have little resemblance to what 0Ls imagine they are like, plus it's extremely hard to get jobs in these areas, and almost impossible for entry-level lawyers.Delete
Well d'uh! Of course there is no such thing as international law or environmental law.Delete
That's why I will focus on arts and entertainment law at UNH Law, which has a top-10 program in IP. With the six figure salary that I will earn by representing movie stars right after graduation, I will have the financial security to take pro bono cases. More specifically, I wish to represent Vietnamese sweatshop workers in San Francisco against international human trafficking syndicates that enslave them.
Those areas exist, but they're not really specialties, they offer hardly any jobs (especially for new lawyers/graduates), and they're nothing like the following typical fantasies:Delete
International law: Rubbing elbows with important diplomats over champagne and caviar at five-star hotels, with plenty of time to spare for shopping on the Champs-Élysées.
Environmental law: Beating multinational corporations into submission. Turning the planet into a glorious verdant paradise. Posing for photo ops with snowy owls and variegated toads.
Sports/entertainment law: Glowing with the vicarious aura of celebrities, with whom one is on a first-name basis. Specializing in all of the many exotic legal questions that apply to celebrities alone; after all, they're unlike the little people. Lots of autographs and free tickets.
Don't forget the black-tie dinners and affairs with beautiful, wealthy socialites and heiresses.Delete
Yesterday, I went to a ceremony for a friend of mine who is retiring after being on the bench for 42 years. One of his colleagues who spoke said that when he retired, on his priorities list, he placed returning to the practice of law right above suicide. Says a lot, don't you think?ReplyDelete
This outline should be handed out to every LSAT taker in the land!
All that's missing from this is the fact that you have a fewer than ten percent likelihood of getting a job that pays a BIGLAW salary, and even then a less than fifty percent chance you'll even be able to say in the job after year.ReplyDelete
All law school is good for is socializing you to think you are a lawyer.ReplyDelete
Outstanding. It also makes you unemployable in most everything else, unless you are a self-starter entrepreneur. Law school doesn't help self-starting entrepreneurs, mind you, but many entrepreneurs went to law school before going out on their own.Delete
One more: Living for twenty years dependent on the generousy and good sense of the federal government is a good choice only if the alternative is starvation.ReplyDelete
And even then, it is a crapshoot.Delete
"When the price of something increases and its value decreases, at some point people will not pay for that thing any longer."ReplyDelete
While this is obviously true, we would have reached this tipping point a long time ago if it weren't for the no-questions asked federal loans. Sad to say, but far too many 20-somethings don't figure out how much law school costs until its too late.
The one thing I would disagree with, is that there is such a thing as environmental law, but it usually only pays to be on the side of the party that wants to pollute to the legal limits; there is also really sports law - my firm represents a number of professional players associations, professional teams, and a number of sporting, olympic and sport organizations. This can be a very lucrative practice, however, studying "sports law" will do nothing towards getting you hired. The plain fact is that most law firms don't care what you studied in law school.ReplyDelete
If merely having sports-related organizations as clients justifies a "specialty" of "sports law", then there are also "specialties" such as "sports accounting", "sports plumbing", and "sports hospitality". Why don't we ever hear about those?Delete
At the Indiana Institute of Technology, we offer the world's only program in sports plumbing. If you fail out, you can always transfer to our law school and apply some of your credits to the certificate in sports law.
The so called sports lawyers break down into the specific types of legal work the teams or the league, whoever one is representing, need. The teams need legal help with employment and labor law, corporate law, litigation and pension law, to be specific. There is also IP and trademark work if you are talking licensing and products. Point is that the people who do this work are experts in each type of law.Delete
Some people negotiate player contracts. Sometimes they are lawyers and sometimes nonlawyer agents.
The only guy who could claim to do sports law is the head honcho who represents the sports league or team. All other lawyers who represent the teams or the league (and work for that head honcho) or who represent the players are doing their specialized little piece that they would do for other clients.
In a just world, this would be required reading for all high school seniors, college students and for all idiots taking the LSAT.ReplyDelete
You forgot your most important talking point:ReplyDelete
Law schools collectively graduate 45,000 students for 22,000 open legal jobs.
I disagree with the claim that "[y]our odds of finishing in the top ten percent of your class are ten percent". My odds of finishing in the top 10% were always damn near 100%. For many other people, the odds were always 0%.ReplyDelete
It's true that far more than 10% of the students expect to finish in the top 10%—or believe that they should be, or are, in the top 10%. It's also true that any plan based on the blithe assumption that one will finish in the top 10% is probably shaky. But it's not true that people have equal odds of doing well in law school.
You should really go back to school in statistics.Delete
Looks like we got ourselves a special snowflake here.Delete
Before the first week of law school, I'd say that your odds of being in the top 10% are 10%.Delete
After the first month of law school, if you are honest with yourself, you know if your odds are much better or much worse. The reason is that it becomes pretty obvious pretty quickly to students that they either really enjoy the material or find it horrible and painfully dull.
In the former category, I'd put your odds of being in the top 10% at 30%. In the latter category, I'd put your odds of being in the top 10% at 1%.
"The reason is that it becomes pretty obvious pretty quickly to students that they either really enjoy the material or find it horrible and painfully dull."Delete
That's largely irrelevant to whether you quickly learn the important skill of "how to take law school exams." Especially at a top school where everyone will know the law.
From the very first day, I could tell that some people were going to do well and that others were going to do poorly. Was I wrong in a few cases? Yes. But I could sort the sheep from the goats pretty well quite early in the program, long before any grades came out. For that matter, so could everyone else.Delete
The idea that everyone has an equal chance is folly.
This wasn't my experience at all. Grades were exceptionally random and the predictive power of anecdotes, gossip, and what people observed during Socratic wasn't particularly predictive, not enough to guarantee someone would be in the top 20%.Delete
You might not know who would be in the top 20%, but it likely was pretty obvious who would NOT be in the top 20%.Delete
Again, not my experience. I had several "Elle Woodses" in my section who ended up at top firms, and several of the people who graded onto law review were fixtures at the local happy hours until a few weeks before finals.Delete
Maybe the original poster went to a total shitpile where 85% of the kids have no business being in law school? There are about 100 of those in America, and I imagine it is fairly easy to separate the gunners from the chumps in such a context.Delete
I attend one of the top law schools. (I'm not sure that a single law school in the US isn't a shitpile, but that's a different question.)Delete
I don't believe that grades are "exceptionally random" at BoredJD's school. If that were true, we'd expect final grades to fall into a very narrow range, with only a few outliers. Grades for any given course might well be random or close to it, but grades overall? That would surprise me.
"But I could sort the sheep from the goats pretty well quite early in the program, "Delete
Hey, hey - no need to go all Biblical on us, man.
"I don't believe that grades are "exceptionally random" at BoredJD's school. If that were true, we'd expect final grades to fall into a very narrow range, with only a few outliers. "Delete
In any event, I did NOT go to a "top" law school, it was in the 30's at that time (don't know or care today where it is).
But my experience was similar to BoredJD's. Grading was very random. I picked sections whenever possible by going to profs for whom my writing style just seemed to "click".
I would get an 82 in a class that I could have written a hornbook on blindfolded and blind drunk.
Then get a 96 or a 98 in classes where I'd basically just been phoning it in. (This in a school that at the time required adherence to a 76 curve all 3 years.) So I'd repeat those profs in a later class and pull off another high-90, and avoid the profs who gave the mysterious 82 (or whatever) like the plague.
...and from a 20 year veteran of 3 biglaw firms...ReplyDelete
The practice of law is for the most part awful even if you do get a job working as a lawyer. Law firms are malignant environments of backstabbing, stealing clients, undermining efforts, blaming others, sabotaging work, in short doing anything to come out ahead of your colleagues (who are your competition). Law school students pay what they pay for learning almost nothing practical and for a longshot chance of working for a few years if they are lucky in such toxic environments.
But to your neighbors, you have PRESTIGE.Delete
Prestige is even better than a job. It means dreams of a job, hopes for a job, expectations of a job! The sky's the limit with prestige.Delete
The problem is that once a month your various creditors want to get paid. And prestige don't pay the bills.
8:27 - I finished in the top 1% of my class at a T10 law school. And while I think you are correct that the odds of my finishing in the top 10% were greater than 10 percent, well, they were not that much greater - maybe 30 percent? Most everyone in the top 40% of the class had the capability to be the top 10% - a few breaks here and there and a bit more focus when it counted and they easily could have been in the top 10%.ReplyDelete
Although an inflammatory subject, most admitted with race preferences were essentially not competitive in any way, and so were many of the students admitted on mere connections. So, yes, a student admitted above the median in terms of GPA and scores and so on indeed has higher odds than 10% of getting into the top 10%.
By the way, if you asked me whether I would do it again today, the answer would be no, and by that I mean absolutely no. The cost in real dollars has increased 2.5 fold (from the 80's), the labor market has collapsed, and even with a steep tuition discount the opportunity costs make the law school I attended an iffy, if not poor value, especially considering that if you are capable of getting in you are also capable of doing a heck of lot of other things well in this world. Put into the mix that there is not much practical content learned, and well, law school does not make sense for the vast majority of students who attend.
Well, indeed I probably did exaggerate when I said 100%. But your chances and mine were always a good deal greater than 10%. Likewise, most of those who intended from the outset to get pig-drunk six nights a week never had much of a chance.Delete
In other words you're planning to work harder than your classmates. Good plan!Delete
Seriously, the point is that BEFORE THE FACT you have no idea if you have a better chance of doing well on law school exams than your classmates. After you've been in law school for a few weeks you may have a slightly better idea, but plenty of people are still in for a nasty surprise when grades come out.
Yes, I damn well did have an idea. And it was a correct one.Delete
And sometimes the guy getting pig-drunk is the one you have to watch out for.Delete
Brevity is the soul of wit. Nice post LawProf.ReplyDelete
IBR already under attack:ReplyDelete
"The bill would also eliminate income-based programs that forgive loans entirely after 20 or 25 years -- and, after 10 years, for those who enter public-service careers, such as teaching or law enforcement. The new system would apply only to new loans."
Uh oh law faculty, looks like the US Congress is gunning for you.Delete
Perhaps you can publish a scholarly article or dupe the paper of record to publish more lies in defense of student debt.
I'm glad that Congress is looking to end this madness, which soaks taxpayers and benefits no one except bloated university administrations.
Nah, just call them racist or elitist.Delete
No one told the Republicans in the House about the good work that law schools do. This is outrageous!Delete
Read the Bloomberg article - on the surface this looks like an excellent proposal all the way round (who knows what is in the bill itself, though...).Delete
As described, the bill would streamline student loan payments via withholding (a la tax withholding) *and* eliminate the perverse incentives created by IBR, etc.
Perhaps some group support should be sent Rep. Petri's way.
The proposal in question gets rid of forgiveness, but it caps the amount of interest that can accrue:Delete
the plan would cap interest owed at 50 percent of a loan’s face value at the time of graduation, giving a break to lower-income borrowers who take longer than the standard 10 years to repay loans. For a student who took out $27,000 in loans, about the national average for a graduate of a four-year program who borrowed, the interest couldn’t exceed $13,500.
Right, law schools will tout this program just like they do IBR and PAYE. They will tell students to ignore tuition since students will never have to pay more than 15% of their income. Moreover, there is not reason to expect a proposal by one member of congress, who is not even part of the leadership, to be enacted.Delete
Is the idea of forcing employers to withhold (garnish) wages from their employees, who are not in default on their loans, unconstitutional?Delete
If it's implemented on a going-forward basis, there's zero problem with this. It's a contract. You agreed to it. Whoopee.Delete
Interesting that this article touts the new plan as similar to that used by other countries including Australia, but as far as I know, the loans in Australia have an interest rate of ZERO. Why not adopt that part of the system too? Let me guess, by the time this bill gets through, it will have the automatic payroll deduction part and NONE of the parts that actually help students. Great, I'll start saving my pennies now for that exorbitant IBR amount that I can't currently afford to pay on my "rich" pre-tax NYC salary (given my private loans and credit card debt, in addition to, you know, NEW YORK CITY RENT).ReplyDelete
Maybe you should have thought about that before going to law school.Delete
I should have "thought" that, 11 years after I graduated, Congress would decide to garnish 15 percent of my wages to pay my law school debt? Should I have thought that unicorns might exist 20 years from now too? What else should I have thought of?Delete
Well, I'm just a-waitin' and a-watchin' fer the flying monkees to come flappin' out of yer butt.Delete
Don't the children of Professors get to attend a University or College or even a Law School for free or at a reduced tuition?
And doesn't that also apply to administrative employees and possibly the children of the administrative EE's?
If so, is that tuition money cross subsidized by other students (or their federal SL tuition money) as is the case with the cross subsidization of scholarship students in a Law School?
As for pithy sayings: "Never play leap frog with a unicorn."
The tuition waiver for children of professors is part of the professor's compensation package. It is not subsidized by other students.Delete
The vast majority of law schools rely on tuition for the vast majority of their budgets - very few law schools get significant state support or endowment support. If the entire budget comes from tuition, and compensation for professors is paid out of the budget, then tuition is being used to pay for the professors' compensation. If a tuition waiver for professors' children is part of the professors' compensation, tuition is being used to pay for the children's tuition waivers. Of course, if the tuition waiver was eliminated, there is no guarantee that tuition would be lowered - the school could just increase cash compensation for the faculty or increase faculty benefits in some other way. But the bottom line is that students who are paying tuition using their own cash or loan proceeds are paying for their professors' children's tuition waivers.Delete
"The tuition waiver for children of professors is part of the professor's compensation package. It is not subsidized by other students."Delete
Uhhh...where does the professor's compensation package ultimately come from??? It comes from those "other" students who are paying!
So in a sense, those students who are the children of faculty are being "subsidized" by other students in the final analysis.
Yet another advantage for people who happen to have been born to certain mommies or daddies.Delete
"The tuition waiver for children of professors is part of the professor's compensation package. It is not subsidized by other students."Delete
Oh yes, of course you're correct - the money for the professors' compensation is just magic money that coalesceses out of the ether.
In no way does this Magic Money come from the tuition of other students.
Why should taxpayers support and subsidize graduate education?ReplyDelete
I mean, I can see a public policy argument being made about health care, which is a catastrophe and for which resident salaries are capped by uncle sam. I can see a STEM grad research grant program, as grad students do all the grunt work for all scientific research in this country. I can even see the argument being made about college education, as an educated post-secondary populace may help productivity in this country.
But why law, MBA, or most other grad subsidies? What public purpose do they serve? And if the answer is none, then why not cut in this era of budget consciousness?
Agreed. The federal government should start getting way more selective about which graduate programs it chooses to subsidize. The current system is insane.Delete
The hostility of the non-law employer to attorneys is ridiculous and needs to be more widely known. I recently applied to a job that's virtually identical to the one I left to attend law school, and the rejection/skills-don't-match email came within an hour. Ditto for many non-law jobs I've applied to over the last 3 months.ReplyDelete
Non-legal employers (a) don't believe there's that much of a job shortage for attorneys and assume you're a screw-up and (b) don't want a lawyer poking around their business to find liabilities and faults.
Going to law school is risky not only because of the loans, but also because you might burn a lot of non-law opportunities in the process. I now feel like a leper who's shunned from the leper colony.
An art history degree doesn't have this level of toxicity, and I imagine it might help in the job hunt for basic office gigs.
Every time a law dean talks about the versatility of the law degree, I thing a satanic angel gets its wings.
Lawprof -- there needs to be some objective support for this. This is a lie that's been repeated since the 1970s. It's about time that someone called bull.
Agreed. This is the most persistent and destructive myth of all about JDs. Law school shills and various know-nothings love to tout other jobs in which lawyers may be found, but there are relatively few opportunities for jobs as MLB GMs, TV news reporters, sports agents, entertainment agents, journalists, and novelists – to name some common “alternative careers” for JDs cited by these phonies. And a law degree, while perhaps occasionally useful, is far from a requirement.Delete
The real question the few JDs in such positions should be asked is "Why aren't you practicing law?"
Purely rhetorical, of course.
I graduated law school in 2010 and have not been able to find work as a lawyer. After graduating, I began applying for both law and non-law jobs to pay my bills. I got no responses to the non-law jobs even though I'd always had a very high response rate/success rate prior to law school. I am a programmer. Eventually, I took the JD off my resume and presto, my prior response rate returned and I was able to return to the workforce. Having a JD on my resume was a show stopper for non-JD jobs. And, of course, there were no JD jobs.Delete
There seem to be a lot of (very naive) people who believe "politician" is a viable career option. Since a disproportionate number of politicians have JDs they seem to figure an essential first step on this career path is getting a JD of their own.Delete
Getting a JD and not using it naturally raises the question of why you're not working as a lawyer. One reason you could be that you don't like practicing law. But going to law school without first finding out what being a lawyer is like shows you have poor judgment and no one wants to hire employees with bad judgment. Another reason is that you're not that bright. I think this is a real issue for many of the kids who major in things like poly si and english, can't get jobs and then go to law school. Again, no one wants to hire an idiot. Sorry, but that's the truth.Delete
10:59 - "Eventually, I took the JD off my resume and presto, my prior response rate returned and I was able to return to the workforce."Delete
So how did you explain the 3+ years of non-activity on the resume?
"But going to law school without first finding out what being a lawyer is like shows you have poor judgment"
I didn't actually know what being a civil litigator was like until an internship b/t 2L and 3L year. Until you work in a capacity where you're do law work full-time and are required to bill hours, I don't think anyone knows "what being a lawyer is like."
The idea that people who go through seven years of post-grad education are "not that bright" is one of the dumbest things I've heard. We're talking about the bottom-rung Cooley kids here. The mid-level grads at GW and Minnesota are getting screwed, too.
Yeah - New England School of [F]law also has a "Sports Law Society" where all those TTTers think they are going to be going all Jerry Maguire in Miami with sports stars once they graduate. LOL.ReplyDelete
I really think that the legal job market is bad enough that there is a real question whether even Harvard is worth it for a lot of people. Sure many from Harvard will do great, but in an oversaturated market, you are taking a big risk of an unstable career. Needless to say, the farther down the law school is on the food chain, the more the risk. There is so much unemployment in the legal profession, and so few legal jobs, that the market is flooded with Harvards, as well as everyone else. The problem here is that if your first or second job doesn't work out, and you need to leave quickly as many lawyers do, Harvard may not help you much in landing on your feet. So law school is a risky value proposition even at the top.ReplyDelete
As an HLS grad of 20+ years ago, I would have to agree with you regarding the unstable career risk. I had no problem getting that first biglaw job, but of course it was awful, and I jumped ship to save my sanity three years later. Since then, I've had many jobs of several years each--a couple were good, others much, much less so--and currently have no job security whatsoever.Delete
At least you have a job. If you are class of 1992, you are still pretty young, probably in your mid-forties. Problem is that is gets worse from there. Especially if you a woman or minority, it is hard to work and hold a job after your age. So many of the Harvard women are no longer working when you go a little farther out than you are. I wonder why, but think it is because there are not good legal jobs.Delete
Honestly, if the BigLaw firms or some other very respectable employer had plentiful 20 hour a week jobs for Harvard women, many women would jump at the chance for an interesting job and be working at these jobs until they were ready to retire. The jobs are not there.
Law school today is a good idea for the scions of the great and the good. It's a bad idea for almost everyone else, including those that get into Harvard.Delete
So true. The drop out rate from the profession for Harvard women is high and it is not because they all married rich or they want to be retired from law.Delete
"Honestly, if the BigLaw firms or some other very respectable employer had plentiful 20 hour a week jobs "Delete
Uh, what? In what world is there a 20 hpw lawjob? I can't imagine what I would have someone do for 20 hpw. Maybe toss them my initial contracts work - but then, if I could hire someone 20 hpw to do that, I'd hire another paralegal, not another lawyer.
At a recent Thanksgiving conversation, my father pressured me about producing grandkids soon so he would "be able to enjoy them while still in good health." In response, I reminded him that my spouse and I are still young (28 and 34), and with $200K in educational debt for which monthly payments eat about 40% of my take-home, it doesn't seem to be the best time. Typical line of boomer responses followed, aimed at trying to make me feel bad about what I believe is a rational decision to wait to have kids.ReplyDelete
Later that night, my father sent an email that contained a link to this: http://therumpus.net/2011/12/dear-sugar-the- rumpus-advice-column-91-a-big-life/
He believes that this accurately reflects the "issues" that my generation of graduates is facing.
My brother is a lawyer. Waited until late 40s to start family. My parents have to watch the kids 60 hours a week because he can't afford day care. Tell your dad if he will step up 60 hours a week you will get right on that family for him.Delete
Demanding that others bring children into the world for one's own enjoyment is disgustingly selfish.Delete
My mother is distraught that I married a "cougar" and that we won't be having children. She constantly reminds me of same whenever she visits. I'm not living for my boomer parent's desire to have grandchildren. I couldn't afford it even if my wife could conceive. Nevertheless my wealthy boomer parents are too cheap to help me out financially. They would rather buy more useless crap, go on multiple vacations and generally live in a dreamworld. Boomers, please die. Soon.Delete
I am a boomer and am cleaned out of money by my kids. All my money goes to them or saving for their future. I save every dime. No vacations, dinners out, expensive cars and the like. We save, but everything is so expensive, especially school, that you really need to be very rich to have real excess money around.Delete
Anyway, none of my kids is going to law school. They saw me suffering as a lawyer and ran the other way. They know just how bad law is.
No one is having kids at this point either.
Yes, how dare they spend their money on themselves. With luck, you'll precede them in exiting this life. Soon.Delete
(from the linked rumpus article...) "...program was in place, my family received blocks of cheese and bags of powdered milk from the federal government. "Delete
Gummint cheese and powdered milk. I remember that. The cheese was okay but the milk sucked - especially since my mother always felt the need to try to extend it by dilution.
Not for my kids. Ever.
Original poster here. I just find it odd that our parents' generation has filled us with incredible expectations, guilt, and pressure to achieve what they want for us, yet they have also had a hand in making it exceedingly difficult for their children's and grandchildren's generations to achieve those things. I don't feel angry or resentful; just sad that there is such a disconnect between generations. I actually feel that my grandmother understands our situation and identifies with it better than my parents do.Delete
These things go in cycles. We are the new Depression Era children.Delete
I think Harvard grads will be fine right after graduation, but as lawyers' careers go on, where you went to school becomes less and less important. So Harvard isn't going to save them later on if their careers stagnate/go off track as so many law careers do. So, go to Harvard, but be sure you get into some kind of stable position that you can stay in as long as possible, preferably forever, or you're going to face the same uncertainties that all other lawyers face in the job market later on.ReplyDelete
Thank You all:ReplyDelete
The JD makes one overqualified for non law jobs and with massive SL debt in the picture it all spells disaster for the JD holder.
And besides, the JD is irrelevant as well. One studies to be an electrician not to become a carpenter or an auto mechanic, but to be an electrician.
One has to dedicate very valuable years in learning how to earn a trade or a living, and to throw those years in the garbage and run up massive debt for life with no hope of paying it off is a human tragedy, and one for the history books someday.
Once more: The letters JD are scarlet letters in the non legal job market.
I would like to hear more about "tort reform"s effect on emolument. Here in Michigan when the Republicans took over the Supreme Court it was like a spiket was turned off. Defense firms shuttered within a year.ReplyDelete
9:04 - this is 8:44. I did have a decent idea of how well I would do. OK, I had no idea I would be at the top 1% summa cum laude level, but I did have reason to believe I would be in the top 25% percent. I had an unusual background, though. I was a scholarship athlete/All American who only marginally studied at a very well regarded and competitive undergrad school, and still did reasonably well academically. I was not a special little snowflake in thinking that once relieved of my obligation to be essentially a professional athlete at the Division 1 level, my academic performance level, which was already fairly healthy, would improve. Plus my sport hammered all of the illusions out of me - I did well, but I really realized the significant limitations of my talent in a way that was manifest in the highest level competitions. I did take the top 30% as a given into account before deciding to go to law school - this was not reckless or foolish but sound - and even then went with exceeding reluctance despite being able attend and graduate with zero debt. It was not such a great deal in 1986, and law school is so much worse of a deal now, even for someone similarly situated to me, that well, I don't understand why 90% or more go today. There is a whole world out there with lots to do other than toil in the legal profession (or never get in it). I mention this because my nephew got into this profession because he looked at me and thought it a rather mechanical way to success. I tried to persuade him otherwise - to no avail. He did finish in the top 10% at a top 10 law school, and is on the Big Law track and working like crazy, with a plan to eliminate all of his loans in 2 more years (he listened to me on that score), but he too now sees what I tried to warn him about. Yes, he will survive, but even he, a 3.9 GPA guy from an Ivy League school, knows all too well how difficult and serendipitous it is to be in the top 10%, and is warning younger peers to stay away. Of course, they look at his success and don't listen.ReplyDelete
Do you have many leather-bound books? Does your apartment smell of rich mahogany paneling?Delete
Everyone has some sob story to tell themselves about why their college performance is not predictive of their future performance in law school. It may be because they worked a lot of hours to pay for school, internships/volunteering, reformed drunk or drug addict, single mother, too preoccupied with partying, spent a lot of time "finding themselves," not interested in the major, etc. etc. That's the very definition of the optimism bias.Delete
Thanks for regaling us about your "glory days" Grandpa...ugh.Delete
Knock off the ageist bullshit.Delete
Bull. Very few legal jobs are stable. The whole point is there is nothing one can do to keep one's legal career from going off track in this supply demand imbalance, unless you are a law prof or judge with life tenure. For everyone else, there is a risk.....ReplyDelete
The Economist is covering the shortcomings of higher education in America (with a reference to law school) here:ReplyDelete
Go to med school people. Doctors rape the anus of life and have a ball.ReplyDelete
Most people on here aren't smart enough to get into med school. Its true many doctors are not geniuses but absolute idiots fail organic chemistry. In fact the main reason many people go to law school is they don't have good enough grades to get into med school. law school takes everyone and you don't need to take any hard science courses.Delete
Become a proctologist. It will prepare you to deal with asshole patients .. such as lawyers. ba dum dum.Delete
No, I think a lot of people at top law schools could have gone to medical school. One problem is that while we know long-term employment outcomes for doctors, we do not know the long-term outcomes for lawyers. If it turns out that being a lawyer is a very risky deal even at the top of the profession, I think people like me, who had a 97% chance of medical school admission after college, would have taken the medical school route. It was only lack of information that caused me to chose law, and this was before the internet. Boy, do I regret that decision.Delete
"No, I think a lot of people at top law schools could have gone to medical school."Delete
One wonders at your definition of "a lot".
Considering, I mean, that the usual flock of seagulls (Poli Sci, English, EngLit, Pre-law and Business majors) certainly are ineligible for med school.
"I think people like me, who had a 97% chance of medical school admission after college"Delete
Really? 97 percent? Sure it wasn't 96.8 or 97.5 or 95?
One wonders at your level of stated precision.
Unless you included the medical school at Grenada in your calculation, that is. In which case one wonders why your chance wasn't 99.9%. (Money+Pulse=Admit)
I highly doubt you had a "97%" chance of getting into medical school after college. Medical schools require extensive volunteering experience, patient contact hours, shadowing, as well as a host of pre-reqs most law students haven't taken. A good MCAT score is necessary and some basic science research experience doesn't hurt either.Delete
Which isn't to say you couldn't have gotten those things, or couldn't get those now, but it does take 2 years or so of hard work to add those things to your resume.
Medical school is incredibly competitive to get into, and medical education is grueling. It doesn't really reward intelligence, unlike law school. This is what outsiders who come from other fields don't really get. How smart you are just doesn't matter that much because most things in medicine you aren't figuring out for the first time. There are right answers, and you need to memorize them.
As long as you are at least "bright" (~120 IQ) the only thing that matters in medical school is how hard you work.
Law really doesn't compare. Working 80 hours a week at a law firm isn't anywhere near the same level as spending 80 hours a week cramming new material. It's a whole different level of pain. Imagine picking up a textbook with 400 pages containing 3000 new anatomy terms and having to know that ALL in 10 weeks. No, not the concepts, every single nit picky detail.
The point is, being in the top 10 percent of your college class doesn't guarantee being in the top 10 percent of your law school class. Law schools are skimming from the top of every college in the country (I'm talking t-14 here, can't account for what is going on at the other schools.) I had a high GPA and LSAT score, got into a t-14, and was still in the middle of my class. With the curve, that's where the majority of people are going to end up. Working hard and being smart is not enough to put you at the top. Now, I fully admit that there were people in class who worked harder than I did, and who were smarter than I was, but I didn't slack, drink, etc. etc. to end up in the middle. That is just where the majority of the excellent students in my excellent school ended up.ReplyDelete
It's sort of "amusing" in a non-amusing way that spending three years and hundred of thousands of dollars so that one can list "JD" one's resume, you now need to REMOVE IT to be looked at for many non-legal jobs!ReplyDelete
Unfortunately you can't just turn in your JD and "remove" the debt you took to get it. Nor can you get those three years back. And also it looks somewhat suspect when people see this 3-year gap in your resume.
Its funny but sad that you spent so much time and money to get the JD only to have to do everything you can to hide it from non-legal employers.
But Dean Mitchell told me that law school is worth it.Delete
I've heard of others removing the JD from their resume, but realistically, you can't remove the time gap. How do you realistically explain an absence of 3 years of law school and say 2-5 years of law practice from a potential non-legal employer? I guess I'll have to resort to the 'ole I went on a 6-7 year vacation around the world, got abducted by a bunch of cannibals, jumped out of the soup pot, and rode a wild boar to safety ... story. That one always worked for me. :)Delete
Or you could make up a child and say you were the primary caretaker. The only problem is if someone asks about the kid later.Delete
Could someone please name a law school that touts its "specialty" in handling insurance claims or fighting traffic tickets or drafting wills or challenging decisions on unemployment compensation? How about a student who is seeking one of these "specialties"?ReplyDelete
I constantly run into students who are pursuing "international law", "environmental law", "human rights", "sports law", or "entertainment law" as a "specialty". And I can't throw a brick without breaking the window of a law school that touts one or more of those. Yet the specialties that I mentioned above don't seem to get the slightest bit of attention. Gee, I wonder why.
I think there are firms that do unemployment, disability and the like, as well as workmen's comp. Sort of falls in the realm of labor law and litigation, but is more specialized.Delete
Yes, there's work of that sort—unlike "sports law" and such. But no law school offers a "specialty" in those areas, nor does any law student willingly pursue them. No, only the sexy stuff is touted.Delete
I willfully pursued labor law while in law school, and did it after graduation too. Still do employment law. But then, I also still haven't paid off my debt over a decade after graduating, so there's that...Delete
^^^^ Go in-house (e.g., www.goinhouse.com).Delete
Outside of IP depts, the employment lawyer is really the only one they don't want to be a broad generalist.
Maybe this has already been commented on, but Friday's decision denying summary judgment in the "transparency" case against Thomas Jefferson Law School is quite interesting.ReplyDelete
Apologies for going off topic.
Thanks for posting. I hadn't seen that.Delete
"There is no such thing as international law.ReplyDelete
Or environmental law. Or human rights law. Or sports law. Basic rule: If some form of legal practice sounds interesting to non-lawyers, it does not exist."
Overbroad nonsense. It would be more accurate to say that "Most students are not going to get jobs in international law, environmental law, or human rights law." And it would even fit into a tweet! But it would not fit into Campos's need to post primarily in overblown hyperbole.
My friends working as prosecutors in international criminal tribunals (ICTY, ICTR, ICC) would beg to differ that international law practices does not exist. Those working as asylum attorneys, death penalty attorneys, or on behalf of Guantanamo prisoners or their overseas equivalents, would beg to differ about the existence of human rights law. (Sure, very few people are going to work for an organization with "human rights" in its name ... but when you break down the types of attorneys who are working on a specific human rights issue, you realize that there are a fair number of people out there who can view themselves as practicing "human rights law" full time.) The attorneys I know working for the EPA and Greenpeace didn't get the memo about environmental law not existing. I don't know or care about sports law, but I've got BigLaw alum friends now in entertainment law (another field that is often claimed not to exist) down in LA.
So look. The average special snowflake going to an average law school should not expect to get jobs in these admittedly unusual fields. But I wouldn't want a prospective student who could attend and do well at HYSCCN to be misled by this sort of idiotically overbroad posting regarding whether their field of interest exists.
What exactly is "entertainment law"? Just business or IP law for the entertainment industry? Would you also say that business law for copper smelters constitutes a specialty of "copper-smelting law"?Delete
Is your tl;dr this?Delete
* Don't bother with our Environment International Space Sports Program, because no one from our school will ever get hired for most positions in those field.
* Even if they do, the pay doesn't support the cost.
How about this one:
* People go to law school because they want to be grown ups, pay their bills, raise a family, and contribute to society. Law School is not providing that, on average, to its graduates.
Actually, here's the best:
* Law School -- more or less as useful as a Master's in English, way more expensive.
What exactly is "entertainment law"?Delete
Rumpole of the Bailey
Now that's Entertainment (Law).
"My friends working as prosecutors in [the] international tribunals ICTY, ICTR, ICC... [and]... working as asylum attorneys, death penalty attorneys, or on behalf of Guantanamo prisoners... [and]... working for the EPA and Greenpeace ... [and my] BigLaw alum friends now in entertainment law ".Delete
Golly Gee Willikers, Mr. Wilson, I cain't hardly believe you have friends doing all those different things.
The point isn't that these fields don't, in some literal sense exist, it's that the number of actual job oppotunities vastly exceed the number of naive 0L's lured to law school with the career bait of human rights law or international sports law.. It's bait and switch, one of the oldest swindles there is.Delete
* Another one, an only but a goody -- BIDER (But I Did Everything Right).Delete
There should be a flip side to that, something like:
* Even the bottom 10% of the class has to pay 100% of a tuition which only makes sense for 10% of our graduates, if that. (although technically, that's not true anymore).
".... an only but a goody "Delete
@ 6:55 - person who made the original post, here. I agree with you, which is why I said Campos should say, ""Most students are not going to get jobs in international law, environmental law, or human rights law." - perhaps with the further caveat, "...virtually no students from law schools ranked X or below."Delete
But going further, to "Field Y doesn't exist," is tiresome and lacks the accuracy that Campos loves to demand of everyone else.
"International law jobs are very rare" still leaves a lot of room for the optimism bias/special snowflake syndrome. All most people will see is "yeah, sucks for all the rest of them!"Delete
If a student really has a shot at working in international human rights law, they will have done the research and know what kind of resume will get them the few jobs in that area. But that isn't the audience Campos is writing for.
Prof. Campos didn't mean that absolutely no one works in those areas. Of course he's aware that there are tiny numbers of people who do work that could be characterized as international law.Delete
Saying "Most students are not going to get these jobs" just invites every goddamn special snowflake in the world to think "But I'll be an exception!". Saying "These fields don't exist" makes the point more starkly.
The problem with saying that "XYZ areas of law don't EXIST" is that it makes it really easy for lemmings to come back and say "That's crazy, they do too exist, look at the people working in the Hague and the EPA." Why not just say the truth, that you're not going to get a job in any of these areas coming out of a school ranked below, say, 30? I just don't get the point of making on-their-face ridiculous claims like "environmental law doesn't exist." And before you start in on me, yes, I know a person who got a job at the Hague, and I know several who work for the EPA. But then, I didn't go to a bottom feeder school that lured people in with its "environmental law program," whatever the hell that means (nothing). These jobs are rare and you need to have strong credentials to get them, period.ReplyDelete
You also have to be young. A lot of those positions in the Hague have an age limit of 32.Delete
Sometimes hyperbole is effective. Saying these jobs are hard to get gets lost as background noise with a lot of prospective students; after all, getting into law school is hard (not really, of course), and didn't they do it?Delete
Saying these jobs don't exist is a bucket of cold water in the face. The prospective law student isn't going to believe it in literal terms but it's more likely to make them actually think for a minute about it and wonder if they are actually so rare that they don't exist.
By the way, your guess that you need to be in the top 30 law schools to get a job in them is wildly optimistic; I would say to have even a small chance of getting one you'll have to be in the top 4.
I think that the EEU and britain actually have international law and human rights law. We just don't get those jobs as Americans. It is possible to have a human rights practice in England. At least my Professor at my class on Human Rights Law at Columbia (which I took with the school of international studies one summer when I was an undergrad) claimed this was so. She said we really don't have a human rights practice in the US.Delete
I do know people who work at the Hague, but your chances of setting out to get a job there and then actually getting one is minute. For Americans the likelihood of getting work is likely smaller still due to the fact that the US is not a member of the ICC. I guess there are a small number of firms specialising in human rights law (basically matters related to the Human Rights Act 1998, the ECHR etc.) in England and Wales - Matrix Chambers being the most famous - but I'd forget about it unless you're an Oxbridge graduate from a desirable background.Delete
Matters with a European dimension, or a dimension related to any other international treaty, could theoretically be described as "international law", but in reality they are much better described in terms of what they deal with. If you're looking at the Madrid system you are working on trademarks, if you're looking at the PCT you're dealling with patents, if you're looking at EU Regulation 1383/2003 then you're looking at an IP enforcement/customs matter, if it's Articles 81 and 82 EC then it's competition law (AKA anti-trust) - in any case they're just an additional body of laws that you need to know about on top of the national law related to your practice area.
"in any case they're just an additional body of laws that you need to know about on top of the national law related to your practice area."Delete
Well, *yeah*. And anyone who wants to do "international law" without appreciating that it means "international + domestic law" is sufficiently moronic that they deserve exactly what's coming to them. But it doesn't mean that international law (or jobs dealing heavily with it) does not exist.
I just read a case for work that dealt with extradition of a third-party national from Country A to Country B, ultimately to face domestic criminal prosecution. The lawyers that dealt with the extradition issue were, obviously, dealing simultaneously with domestic and international law.
Med school was easier to get in when I was young 97% acceptance rate for those undergrads at Yale who made it through their program. Today it is more competitive. No one went to dental school from Yale. Peer pressure led lots of people to law.ReplyDelete
I started a thread over on top-law-schools.com about the pending bill to end IBR/PAYE here:ReplyDelete
I could use a little help trying to knock some sense into these kids.
wow - I can't believe I used to read TLSDelete
There's no such thing as "international law". Even if your buddy works at an organisation with "International" in the title.ReplyDelete
Treaties between states exist. "International law" does not. Wake up.
"There is no such thing as international law.Or environmental law. Or human rights law. Or sports law."ReplyDelete
I think the point here was two-fold:
1. For the people who work in these fields, you are just practicing business law, admin law, criminal law, or IP law. The day-to-day is really much more mundane.
I had a prof in law school that taught a number of "International" courses (... business, ... trade, etc.). On the first day of class, he would always give the same lecture -- international law is not a separate specialty, if you want to work in this field, take tax, bus. ass., IP, sec. reg., etc.
2. The number of people practicing in these areas is so infinitesimally small as to be close to zero.
So chill out and take the post as intended.
>>There's no such thing as "international law". Even if your buddy works at an organisation with "International" in the title.ReplyDelete
In-house counsel at International House of Pancakes?
The problem of no ongoing employment statistics in law is so serious. This is leading so many 0Ls to make a serious mistake, not realizing that even a law degree from Harvard does not guarantee a job in the second half of one's career.ReplyDelete
One of the problems here that U.S. corporations are complicit in not retaining older lawyers, especially older women and older minorities. If the corporation has to settle a discrimination claim, they go right on doing the same thing. A manager can discrminate and keep his or her job. That is a problem in the legal profession particularly where there is such a surplus of supply over demand and the victims often cannot work again in a saturated job market.
While law firms at least run open up or out policies, corporations settle individual discrimination claims and the manager who discriminates is not sanctioned in any way.
If we had the ongoing employment numbers and it became clear that a lot of older lawyers with top schools cannot make a living in this profession, and most are women or minority, there would be pressure on the in houses to fire the managers guilty of unlawful conduct. That is not happening without the data around.
My practice area has a large pool of unemployed older women. Older women are the lowest form of life in law because there is no data protecting them from exactly what has happened.
So what is the best way to go about collecting this data? It must be possible to do some sort of survey or data collection about the state of employment of people over 40.Delete
Also, I agree this is important. I mentioned a couple of times the people on TLS calculating the worth of a Harvard degree based on a 45 year career.Delete
Probably most 0LS think they will have a 45 year career, regardless of the school they are attending. Most 0LS are assuming they will actively practice law for the next 45 years and make a lot of money doing so.
As a young woman working in health law, this is terrifying. First I'm told that I will be all but eliminated from my field if I decide to have a kid, then I'm told that even if I can stick with it, I'm not likely to keep my job once my hair goes grey? It's outrageous. I don't see how I'm any different than the men I work with.Delete
"If the corporation has to settle a discrimination claim, they go right on doing the same thing. A manager can discrminate and keep his or her job. That is a problem in the legal profession"Delete
You make this allegation 3 or 4 times for each LP post. Yet you never offer any proof. No news outlet articles about old lawyers being discriminated against? No court filings you can find on all of these settled discrimination suits?
All I can say is, I hear what you're saying but have no clue what you're talking about. I know lots of in-house lawyers. Older lawyers. Minority lawyers. Female lawyers.
While I can't prove companies are not discriminating (the usual problem of proving the negative), if it were rampant as you serially allege, shouldn't you be able to provide something in the way of proof more tangible than your incessant ranting on here?
"No news outlet articles about old lawyers being discriminated against? No court filings you can find on all of these settled discrimination suits?Delete
While I can't prove companies are not discriminating (the usual problem of proving the negative), if it were rampant as you serially allege, shouldn't you be able to provide something in the way of proof more tangible than your incessant ranting on here?"
You could not possibly be a lawyer. You don't read about it, special snowflake so the world is hunky-dory.
Most large companies have mandatory arbitration policies that employees must agree to as a condition of employment. Arbitration takes away the employee's right to go to court and is confidential.
Employers virtually always get releases from employees they fire in exchange for paying severance. Releases have confidentiality and antidisparagement clauses.
Most employees of larger companies have no legal right to go to court to claim discrimination. No one in the company will find out if the person who sat next to them made a discrimination claim because the information is confidential. Employees who are fired are silenced one by one, and are legally obligated not to talk about it.
Harvard, Columbia Law, at least the older grads I know who are female are mostly not employed in paying jobs that pay anything like the $160,000 starting salary.
Recent op-ed discussion of mandatory arbitration, if you wonder why you do not hear about litigation by lawyers against their employers.
The NALP, law schools and the ABA should start collecting long term employment data. It could be the same as the 9 month data, but going out by 5 year intervals from graduation, and should be done each year. The data needs to cover 40 years from law school graduation.ReplyDelete
Honestly, if what I see happening to me and my peers is validated by the data, it calls for policy changes. These include modifications to up or out system in law firms, and for corporations to have written policies with teeth that prevent age discrimination and age-based harrasment. Right now there is no sanction in most businesses against the manager who discriminates - policies against disrimination have no teeth.
If the long term employment data is as bad as it appears, the answer is producing even fewer lawyers than the 9 month employment data would suggest. The younger lawyers right now are simply pushing out their more experienced peers in an oversaturated market, so there are not realistically 40 year careers for most lawyers.
But most of those gray-haired attorneys are actually "retiring" and *need* to be replaced by young blood.Delete
While at law school (almost 35 years ago) I interviewed at an L.A. firm that then employed Alex Kozinski as an associate. I had about 15 minutes with him. He told me that he was planning to leave that firm because he had joined up in the hope of doing "international law" but instead found himself "doing domestic law for clients with funny names."ReplyDelete
Environmental lawyers (even for the Sierra Club) quickly realize that the lawyers for spotted owls work in the same windowless offices and read the same particulate studies as everyone else. Your expert may do field studies; you will not. You will just write his affidavit for him to sign.
Right. So there are rote aspects to law, and "environmental" and "human rights" law are not seem as sexy every day as 0Ls might think. Again, this is a reasonable point for Campos to make: even if you get a cool-sounding job, you won't be doing "exotic law" every day. And you will still deal with the boring aspects of your field that other types of lawyers do.Delete
But that doesn't mean the Sierra Club lawyers aren't practicing environmental law. Or that jobs in bona fide environmental law don't exist.
But the issue is the schools who are touting their great environmental law programs. Not that you need to go to a T6 school and probably clerk for a judge to even get hired in those jobs.Delete
So the correct way to call them out is to say just that: "Unless you go to a T6 school and (likely) complete a federal clerkship, you will not be hired for one of the extremely limited jobs in environmental/human rights/etc law. If you do meet these prerequisites and get one of these jobs, be forewarned that it's not going to be as consistently exotic/exciting as it (a) sounds to laypeople and (b) was described in your T6 school's recruiting brochure."ReplyDelete
Again, a far different and more accurate statement than "There is no such thing as international law.
Or environmental law. Or human rights law. Or sports law. Basic rule: If some form of legal practice sounds interesting to non-lawyers, it does not exist."
Hyperbole. It's a rhetorical device.ReplyDelete
But at some point, when one speaks only in hyperbole (as Campos does*), it's not called "hyperbole" anymore, it's just called flat out inaccuracy. Especially coming from someone who excoriates everyone in his field about their inaccuracies.ReplyDelete
*and if that's not accurate, I can just claim hyperbole, right?