Monday, June 25, 2012

Questions that No Law School Dean Will Ever (Truthfully) Answer

I'm in the process of preparing some new useful (I hope) content for Finding a Non Legal Job. In the meantime, I decided to take another crack at a traditional "scam blog" article.

Above the Law has recently started running a series on law school success stories. It profiles law graduates who claim to be better off thanks to their J.D.'s. To be fair to ATL, they have published a number of stories about the difficulty in finding legal employment and some of the associated problems with law schools. They also disclaim that these success stories aren't necessarily representative of the environment awaiting heavily indebted and poorly trained law school graduates.

That said - what is the point of these stories other than to blunt the increasingly dominant message that law school in it's present form is a bad investment and needs to be seriously restructured? While law school critics rightly point out that the full employment statistics churned out by the law schools are borderline fraudulent data, nobody claims that there is a 100% UNemployment rate either. I have no doubt that there are a decent number of graduates who find at least OK jobs, and some subset of this group may even really enjoy their work (or at least their salaries).

Focusing on this subset is nothing new for law school apologists. One of the charges these folks make against law critics is that these critics just couldn't hack it in the law, so they're projecting their own dissatisfaction. I saw a comment on JD Underground the other week alleging this very thing.

Quibbling over this charge isn't particularly fruitful. Yes, some anti-law school commentators didn't make it too far in the law. Some did. The diversity among the opponents of the law school cartel is too great to ascribe a single underlying motive to the entire movement.

While I never went down the path of practicing law, I do know some peers who appear to be happy with their decisions to become attorneys. This doesn't matter. I congratulate anyone who has found success in the law (or any other field). I don't object to people becoming lawyers. Lawyer jokes aside, society does need a certain number of attorneys to write contracts, prosecute/defend criminals, etc.

The objection isn't to the desire others may have to become attorneys. The objection is to the law school system which: 1) knowingly plunges its students into untenable levels of debt 2) fails to provide these students with marketable skills, and 3) pumps out more graduates than the market can absorb into an industry that will only pay a select few (of those lucky enough to find relevant employment) anything approaching a reasonable salary.

Yes, some graduates are satisfied with their post law school opportunities, but highlighting this cohort is just a tactic law schools use to deflect criticism regarding the far larger carnage their collective greed has inflicted onto everyone else.

The law school deans and related apologists are quite skilled at trotting out their success stories. After all, these expert marketers are great at dismissing serious objections and instead offering well engineered PR campaigns, but here are some questions I'd love hear the law school deans address...

  • Do you honestly believe that it's worth $150k to $200k plus for a degree from your school?
  • Does your answer change if you knew that most experts believe you shouldn't borrow more than you expect to make your first year out of school?
  •  
  • Doesn't that reasonable rule preclude most of your students from attending your institution?
  •  
  • In the cases of particularly heavy debt loads, doesn't that preclude ALL students from attending your school? (The absolute highest starting salary even at Big Law is $180k.)
  •  
  • Law school tuition has increased considerably over the past decade, do you honestly believe the benefit of attending law school has justified this?
  •  
  • If you said yes, are you saying that you dismiss all the reports of the terrible job market over the past couple of years?
  •  
  • If yes, could you please explain why there are Craiglist ads offering $30k-$40k for entry level attorneys with top credentials?
  •  
  • Do you believe that $30k - $40k is reasonable compensation for someone who undertook three years of graduate education at the cost of six figures worth of debt?
  •  
  • If so, would you make this investment?
  •  
  • Would you encourage a family member or close friend to make such an investment?
  •  
  • Do you believe it's possible to live a normal life with such a salary and loan repayment obligations?
  •  
  • Would you feel comfortable raising a family under such a scenario?
  •  
  • Would you swear under oath that the employment statistics your school publishes are the truth - the whole truth - and nothing but the truth?
  •  
  • If yes, would your answer change if this means that the figures aren't based on partially reported data; don't include temporary work; don't include working for the school (except in a long term, professional capacity); don't include menial non-legal jobs; don't include paralegal jobs; don't include entry level, non-legal jobs that were pursued only as default options?
  •  
  • Your schools likely lists roughly 10-25% of its graduates filling "business" or "corporate" jobs - Do you believe all (or at least the vast majority) of these jobs are serious professional positions?
  •  
  • Would you swear that none of these jobs are simple service sector jobs that could be filled by someone without even a college degree?
  •  
  • Assuming 10 - 25% of your graduating class ends up with non-legal jobs, do you honestly believe 10 to 25% of your class willingly enrolled in your school to end up NOT being attorneys?
  •  
  • If yes, do you honestly believe that there are any employers that are specifically seeking (or strongly desire) non practicing recent law graduates?
  •  
  • Can you name ten such employers?
  •  
  • Can you name one?
  •  
  • Do they pay anything close to your advertised average starting salary?
  •  
  • Do you honestly believe that the average starting salary reported by your school accurately reflects what an average student will make after graduation?
  •  
  • If you answered yes, and I survey ten students ranked in the middle of your class, how many of them do you think will make within $10,000 of the average starting salary the year after law school?
  •  
  • Will any of them?
  •  
  • What if we exclude document review?
  •  
  • Do you believe temporary document review is reasonable employment for a licensed attorney who completed three years of schooling at your institution?
  •  
  • If yes, would you personally be happy reviewing electronic documents for relevance as your sole professional task?
  •  
  • If no, and you stand behind the published salary data your school offers, why do so many of graduates end up in this line of work?
  •  
  • Once again, assuming you stand by your salary data, why was this an issue even (or particularly) before the recession?
  •  
  • Do you believe any students would have really enrolled in your school if they knew they would have to work long term in document review?
  •  
  • Do you believe that students would have enrolled in your school if they knew they would end up in small personal injury law, low level insurance defense law, debt collection, or landlord tenant law?
  •  
  • If so, would you have been happy working in these areas of law after receiving an expensive graduate degree and forgoing three years in the workforce?
  •  
  • Do you believe that after three years at your LAW school, your students are capable of actually practicing law?
  •  
  • If so, would you be willing to be represented by any recent graduate assuming he/she passes the bar?
  •  
  • Do you honestly believe there are enough law or related jobs available to employ your graduates after they enter the workforce?
  •  
  • If so, why is there story after story in any number of mainline publications discussing the number of unemployed law graduates?
  •  
  • If not, do feel any culpability for leaving a generation of law graduates indebted and unemployed?
  •  
  • How do you sleep at night?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Taking the JD Off Your Resume - An Update

I recently saw a post on JD Underground recommending that applicants remove the J.D. from their resumes in order to try to land a non-legal job. I have a few things to say about this matter, so I thought it would make a nice segue into what I guess has become my annual update.

I can certainly empathize with this sentiment. The JD pretty much guarantees that you'll hear the inquiry "Why aren't you practicing law?" during every job interview you'll have from now until eternity.

The problem, of course, is that if you simply take your law degree off your resume, you'll have to come up with a method for explaining the three year gap. For the most part, however, the only "method" you'll have available to you is to lie through your teeth. I don't recommend this for a number of reasons. If you go down this route, it will definitely have to be some amazing fib (remember, you're covering up a THREE year gap) and it will have to be unverifiable (think background checks for new hires).

If you're not prepared and not unethical enough to claim you were independently building shelters for displaced tribes in Africa, you've got little choice but to leave your JD on the resume.

Here are a few tactics to handle this handicap:

1) Provide a brief summary of your background on your resume to tackle the subject head on. In your summary, include a sentence that reads something like "Recently obtained a J.D. for purposes of improving analysis and writing skill sets for application in a corporate role."

2) If you do land an interview, and the subject comes up (and it will), make a similar statement about wanting to go to law school because of the benefits it offers aside from practicing law. Also, mention the number of people who go to law school but don't end up working as attorneys - it was about 20% at my school PRE-recession. You can also note that law school doesn't really teach you to practice law; instead it helps you develop critical thinking skills. Not only is this persuasive, it's also for the most part, true.

3) On your resume, under education, don't put down "State University Law School, Juris Doctorate, May 2009"; put down "State University, J.D., May 2009). You'll be amazed at the number of people who have no idea what a J.D. is. Many will just assume it's a masters degree. Plenty will also be too embarrassed to ask what a J.D. is. It won't always work particularly if you're looking for work right out of school, but it can prevent a red flag from going up immediately in the minds of HR screeners, hiring managers, and recruiters.

Will these tactics always work? No, but they give you a better chance of slipping by the gatekeepers. Once you explain the potential benefits of a law degree, some hiring managers may even see it as a slight benefit.

Once you land a job and have some significant post-law school work experience, the J.D. will become less of a focus because your potential employer will a) be convinced that you're actually not interested in practicing law b) be more concerned about your recent work experience than your education.

In the interviews I have gone through since landing my first permanent post-law school job, the law degree has become more of a curiosity than anything else. Occasionally, the issue hasn't even been raised; if it has, I've had little trouble dismissing it as a detour on my path as a corporate prol.

I could probably get away with dropping it off of my resume given that most interviewers are usually too lazy to actually do the math and uncover the gap in my work history. I, however, have refused to do so.

Perhaps I'm violating my own words of caution regarding the sunk cost fallacy, but after wasting so much time in law school and going into considerable debt, I'm simply unwilling not to try to extract at least some value out of my J.D.

Now I'm not backing away from my long standing contention that a law degree doesn't qualify you for any position other than being an attorney - and it barely serves that function. I'm certainly not suggesting anyone should go to law school with the intent of going into a non-legal industry. That's just throwing money away.

Nevertheless, the J.D. is a graduate degree, and it's one that many people still believe is an indication of one's intelligence and academic prowess - rather than one's ability to sign a promissory note.

You're not going to get a financial analyst job - at least one that requires experience because a hiring manager thinks, "Gee, this guy doesn't know anything about finance and can barely open an Excel document, but he is well educated. I'm going to hire him over the other candidates with multiple years of Bloomberg experience."

If you are, however, a financial analyst with experience, and you also bring a law degree to the table, many employers will then be willing to give you some credit for your degree in the hiring process - at least if you can give an acceptable explanation for having the degree.

For example, I interviewed for a position a couple months ago where I think the hiring manager just interviewed me because she was thoroughly confused by the trajectory of my education. I think I offered a good explanation, and I ended up one of two finalist candidates for the role. I didn't get the job because the other candidate had a little more of the experience for which they were looking, but my J.D. didn't hurt me and may have helped a bit. (It was, of course, no substitute for the relevant experience they wanted.)

On a more positive note, I recently did take a new position where my J.D. may have actually helped. It's a more senior role with better compensation. While I had most of the skills and background for which they were looking, the job description said the company wanted someone with about a decade of experience and a masters degree. I haven't even been out college for 10 years. The hiring manager said I beat out a bunch of other strong candidates, and I have to believe that the J.D. did help cover some of the missing work experience and substituted for the masters degree.

Now before any LS apologists start whooping it up that the J.D. did turn out to be useful, let's get a few things straight. It's true they wanted someone with more experience and a graduate degree, but if I didn't go to law school, I could have easily gotten the experience (and if necessary a cheaper and more useful masters degree) in the same time it took me to get the law degree. I also would have done so without incurring the debt and other opportunity costs.

Furthermore, while it's a big increase in pay for me, I'm pretty sure I'm making less than they originally envisioned paying for this role - so the J.D. wasn't exactly a perfect substitute for the work experience.

So where do I stand? I will be in a senior, non-managerial position with a large corporation. I will make in the mid $60K's plus an annual bonus and benefits. This is roughly the equivalent of what an I.D. attorney would have made at a mid-sized firm pre-recession. It's probably on the lower end of what I would have reasonably been making right now had I not gone to law school, so it looks like I'm starting to right this craft.

I've also been able to knock out about $20k of loans since graduating - though there's plenty more to go, and I'm finally able to move out of my parents house - albeit with roommates.

I am very grateful that I seem to be in a much better position than many other recent graduates, and perhaps even a large swath of the population as a whole. Nevertheless, it definitely bothers me that I'll be paying for years for a degree I don't really need and that my career has been set back at least a few paces.

I was glad to see that TJ Law lawsuit is being allowed to proceed, and I'm sorry that the NYLS case was thrown out. It's definitely heartening to see that the mainline press and individuals across the political spectrum have acknowledged (and even protested) the scam. In the end, I really don't see how it can be sustained. When tuition hits $70k a year at private schools and graduates struggle to land $40k a year entry level jobs, you have to think somebody's going to blow the whistle and bring this game to a close - particularly now that the taxpayers are on the hook for any unpaid loans.

I wish everyone else the best on finding gainful employment and trying to rebuild their post LS lives. I've always been happy to provide advice via e-mail, and I've answered a number of inquiries since I stopped regularly posting. Feel free to reach out if I can assist you at all.

I'm also thinking of starting a new blog dedicated to the providing advice about the non-legal job search tailored to those with J.D.'s. I'll keep you posted. (Positive feedback for this idea will likely encourage me to move ahead.)

Thanks for reading - E.N.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Update: Mission Accomplished

"Yes," I somewhat exasperatedly replied when a gentleman called about my resume and asked if I recalled applying for a position with his company. I then dutifully gave him a series of stock answers I had memorized to the all too familiar standard questions interviewers are apparently required by law to ask.

I didn't mean to come across as uninterested or even ungrateful for this opportunity, but I was tired. This had been just one of a number of telephone interviews I had entertained over the last few weeks. Meanwhile, I was on the third interview for a promising (and even lucrative) position in what probably could be described as consulting. Furthermore, I was trying to juggle these interviews without jeopardizing my current position.

So, for all you whiners who complain about law school, you should realize that you just need to think positive thoughts and everything will work out...Just kidding. Actually, I loathe the law school cartel as much as ever, but the rest of what I have written is true.

Some of you may wonder why I decided to start this post with such a sanguine introduction. Well, if you've read this blog before, I'm sure you know that a year ago things weren't looking so good. I repeatedly woke up with thoughts of offing myself. I couldn't buy an interview, and I was constantly being pressured to just "network" in order to find myself a great legal position...all while I watched people who barely graduated from colleges that aren't even accredited make great salaries, buy homes, and raise families.

In fact, here's a quote from a January 27, 2010 post:

"Right now, I'm even being strung along by temp agencies with the possibility of getting hired for JUNIOR document review positions."

Yikes. What a difference a year makes.

But what's the point of this post? Well, I never was really satisfied with how I ended the blog. No, I'm not staging a comeback. The current crop of scam bloggers are far more worthy of their blogger sites than I ever was, and I couldn't be more proud of the way they've permeated the media - everything from Slate to the New York Times.

Instead, I just want to provide one final update regarding what happened to me after I left the scam blog movement in order to preserve what was left of my mental health and try to rebuild my life.

In a nutshell, I can finally do what I had endeavored to do from inception of this blog: Declare "Mission Accomplished". Yes, slightly over a year and a half after graduating from law school, I now have a real, salaried, non-legal job in an industry in which I'm interested.

Here is my story:

For those of you who haven't had time to read through all of my prior posts, getting to this point was an arduous and depressing struggle. I left law school unsure of what to do. With few exceptions, the law didn't really interest me. The economy was in shambles and the legal sector, which had never been that healthy (in terms of providing jobs for the non-elite) was experiencing a complete meltdown. I was already toying with the idea of just going into "business".

Like many unemployed recent graduates, I reluctantly (after five years of living on my own post-college) headed back to live with my parents, hoping that I could quickly find a new job. In the hopes of maximizing my employment options (namely through document review), I decided to spend the time and money preparing for the bar exam.

For a few of months afterward, I once again drank the law cartel's kool-aid as I dutifully played the networking game - going to CLE's, having people put me in touch with their lawyer friends, and even taking an unpaid internship with a personal injury firm.

One day while sitting in a converted filing room, struggling to use a typewriter to fill out some superfluous form that wasn't available on-line, I had an epiphany: The law had been nothing but a curse to me. I had continuously sunk time and money into into this pipe dream, and it was time to get out.

By November of 2009, I began my quest to escape this horrid "career path" - not that there were actually any legal jobs to set me off on a legal career anyway. I knew it would be difficult with my three year gap in work experience, the scarlet letter of a J.D. on my resume, and a lousy economy.

I was right. It took me months to even get one interview. I sent out hundreds of resumes and attended career fairs that offered a choice between selling insurance on a commission basis or joining the military. When I did get a rare interview, it was usually because the company was too disorganized to screen candidates properly and almost always ended in disaster. Networking, recruiters, and temp agencies proved to be equally unfruitful.

Finally, in June, I was able to impress two guys with a new start-up enough that they were willing to take me on as a contractor on a trial basis, which is where I left off my blog.

At first things went pretty well. The work was pretty interesting and I was learning new things. The pay wasn't great, but I could work as many hours as I wanted, and I was getting in on the ground floor of something that could really take off.

Unfortunately, it eventually became apparent that I didn't know enough about the industry to take a leadership position in the company, which is what they were really looking for. I did complete some projects that impressed them, and they encouraged me to really take things to the next level. I briefly committed myself to doing this, but I was already working fifty hour weeks, enduring a long commute, and making little money; I just couldn't bring myself to invest anymore into the company.

With a heavy heart, I ended up coming in one day and politely informed one of the partners that I didn't think I could fulfill the role they needed. He was sympathetic and thanked me for my hard work, and so I was back to square one.

I was exhausted, so I took a little time off, but I got a certification that was relevant to my industry and started reading industry publications and even considered starting a blog to demonstrate my knowledge.

Once I started looking for work again, however, it wasn't too long until something landed. I applied for a temp to perm position with a company that was in the e-commerce industry that did similar work to my previous employer.

The most amazing thing was that my resume was actually read and considered by an HR rep from the company. (Usually, the JD was poison to any trained HR professional.) She scheduled a phone interview with me that actually was surprisingly intense.

I then got a call back. I was shocked to learn that there were some hiring managers who wanted to talk to me. I came in and things went so well that there was even the suggestion that they would hire me for a full time position outright.

That didn't happen, but I was offered a temp position working for one of the company's larger clients. I accepted it, hoping that this was the path to finally gaining full time employment in the industry I was trying so hard to enter.

At first things seemed pretty good, but I suffered plenty of indignities. I was constantly reminded of my temp status whether by being excluded from meetings or not having the same access to technology. I even bristled every time I was introduced to someone by my "rank".

It didn't help matters that I was often being bossed around by people who had just graduated college within the past few years...That is people who were still in high school back when I graduated college. I also earned an hourly wage that barely would be acceptable to the average Wal-Mart employee.

Nevertheless, you know what I did? I just shut up and grinned and endured yet this additional affront made possible by my JD.

I did make a few other efforts to find full time employment. I shockingly received a call from another HR representative from a HUGE company who thought my resume was a good fit for the financial analyst position for which I applied a month earlier.

The screening interview went great. The woman was really on my side and said that even if this job didn't work out, she'd definitely be able to find something else for me given my background.

The panel interview didn't go quite as well. The first guy with whom I spoke seemed pretty confused as to why I was even looking at this position. I was questioned about the JD, the gap in my resume, and to paraphrase him slightly "Why in Sam Hill did you spend all that money on your degree?"

That's probably the best question I've actually heard from an interviewer. (Closely followed by, "So you have a law degree...what is that some sort of hobby of yours?")

At one point, he actually tried to help me brainstorm ideas as to how to find gainful employment (elsewhere, of course)!

The last woman with whom I spoke seemed to accept my explanations about law school, but she also questioned me about the cost of attendance. Note: Financial executives don't really want to hire idiots who go into six figures of debt and forgo three years of wages for a worthless degree. Go figure.

Not surprisingly, I never heard back. (Despite promises that I would hear back from HR.) Oh, and that promise of there definitely being something for me, guess what happened...That's about lie 346 during this process.

I also got to a second round interview for another company that was located nearby to where I live and seemed like a great place to work. I didn't seem to have the stats background they wanted, though. Oh, they did promise to be in touch...Yeah, need I say more?

After taking time off for these interviews, I decided to put my energy into getting promoted from my temp role. The company was pretty laid back, the starting salary for full time analysts was pretty good, and I got to work in a skyscraper...and I'm referring to an actual office, not some subterranean dungeon in contrast to temp jobs in some other industries.

After a few months, I finally had my quarterly review with my manager and his manager. I got a strong score on my performance review, and my manager said he was pushing for me to move into a permanent role.

Finally, I got called into the "big boss' " office for my review. I was complimented on my performance and was asked general questions about how I liked the job. I was also asked if I planned to try to get into law...*sigh*....even three months of employment wasn't enough to convince an employer that I didn't want to be a stupid lawyer.

And then...the review ended. I was asked if I had any questions. I actually grew a bit of a spine and asked if there were any plans to make me full time. To which the reply was, "Are you interested in working here full time?"

"No, I'm actually so pleased to live at home as I enter my thirties that I want to make sure I never make enough to jeopardize this dream come true!"

What a question. Pro tip: Always take the initiative to push your boss if you (reasonably) are looking for a raise or promotion.

I was informed that there had to be a specific opening, but that it was definitely a possibility.

A possibility? Great. Three months of work for that. Did I mention that when I joined, HR said I would be on the fast track to permanent employment.

I then decided to take more initiative; I applied for a bunch of new jobs and posted my resume on Monster.

This is when everything changed. Not only did I get slightly less than a 50% response rate to my resume - compared to a .05% response rate in the past, but I had recruiters (both internal and third party) unilaterally contacting me about my resume. Where were you guys for the last year?

I have no idea if this means the economy is coming back, or if I have a great resume, or if actually having a job makes me more attractive to employers. Whatever the reason, it was definitely nice to be courted by employers for once. It was like those old milk commercials in which the skinny loser adds some more dairy to his diet and voila!, he's big man on campus.

I actually got within a hair of landing a job with a big company with a well defined career path and great starting salary, but I was missing one necessary skill set (that I could have obtained through a process a lot easier than getting a law degree).

As things turned out, I actually finally got promoted to a full time analyst position with a salary in the mid-40's and full benefits (health, dental, vision, 401k, vacation, etc.). Good enough for an exhausted man whose other options looked like they were going to pay about the same.

There's still some other options open, but for the time being, this looks like the job I'll have for a while. This would have been a great position if I had taken it back in 2006 instead of going to law school. It's not quite as impressive after taking four years (including the year of unemployment) off from the workforce and incurring more debt than I want to think about. (Thank you IBR!)

Also, I work with coworkers and for bosses who are actual humans, who even care about me from time to time. I have benefits. I'm on a career track. I don't have to go to housing court in the bad side of town or write horrible memos that nobody will read. When I look out, I can see the downtown of a major city instead of the industrial boiler in the bowels of some subterranean sweatshop.

All of this said, I'm obviously upset about law school, and I know it doesn't sound like it, but I'm quite grateful that's it's all over. I'm out. I don't have to work in law, and I can start rebuilding my life and repaying my debt (for the rest of my natural life).

So let's take a look at the final break down:

Number of resumes sent: Hundreds? Thousands?

Negative responses: Plenty, but not anywhere close to the number of resumes I sent out.

First round interviews ending without an offer: 4

Second/Third round interviews ending without an offer: 3

Withdrew application after being asked to interview or further interview: 4

Received and accepted offer: 2*

* - I resigned from the first position

Let's also see how I stack up against the goals I set forth when I first started this blog.

Feel free to check out the post: http://esqnever.blogspot.com/2009/11/mission-impossible.html

Compensation: I said I wanted $40,000; I make a few thousand more. Looks good.

Professional: I wanted a job that required a college degree. This definitely does. It even requires some previous work experience.

Non-Legal: My current manager, who even interviewed me, didn't even realize I had a law degree. I'd say I'm safe on this point.

Minor Points: I didn't need to move. I got a very cheap certification, but I didn't head back to school. There was no bailout via an inheritance or a wealthy spouse, and I'm actually in the industry that I wanted to enter.

I guess that's mission accomplished as I try to fly away from the flaming wreckage that is my legal education and "career".

I kind of feel like a veteran of a war - and yes, I'm well aware that that soldiers have experienced worse things than any law grad - who somehow survived the carnage of the battlefield. He can never forget what he saw. He has wounds that last a lifetime. He may not even feel particularly proud of what he has done, but it's over. He can return back to society. It isn't so much joy that he's feeling. It's relief.

I hope that everyone else out there can also feel the same relief one day.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The End of Esq. [Never] - Final Post

When I first started this blog, I was not sure what direction it would take. While I linked to the other scam bloggers, I think I saw this blog as more of an attempt to chronicle my quest to find a non-legal job and to occasionally share my thoughts about law school, the legal industry, and, of course, the dishonesty involved in both.

(As it turned out, however, the career search aspect became a secondary concern as my contempt for the law school scam began to take prominence. More on that in a moment.)

One thing I did know from the start was that I didn't want to end this blog until I could triumphantly declare that I had secured a serious, decent paying, non-legal position despite my J.D., work experience gap, and the miserable economy.

I sincerely regret that this will not be the case.

A few posts ago, I informed you that I was taking on a temporary, contract position with a company that was designed to evaluate whether or not I would receive a permanent offer. While I am pleased to report that my "employer" envisions me working at the company well past the initial evaluation period, it is going to take them longer than expected to determine if they plan to take me on as a permanent employee.

While this is a contract position, I still work long hours and have a long commute. This has left little time for blogging. While I have not run out of things to say, I have exhausted my motivation to say them.

Over the past month, I had hoped to receive the final word about the position, my specific role, and my annual compensation. Sadly, it appears that it could be weeks or even months before this is settled. There is also the possibility that in the end, I will not end up working full time with this company.

With no particular date in sight when I can foresee declaring victory, and with little time to blog, I have decided to "prematurely" bring this blog to a close.

As mentioned, I have run out of steam to maintain this blog. After 100 posts, while I may have some additional thoughts to share that may be either interesting or entertaining, I don't know if I can really add anything more of substance. I've made my case as best I could through personal anecdotes and more detached analysis.

In addition, whether this present position works out, or I am just able to finally have some recent, substantive work experience on my resume, I believe I am on the road to leaving the law and securing an actual career.

Moreover, while I stand resolute that the law school deans and their cohorts are as crooked as the day is long, I am somewhat concerned about the cynicism and bitterness that I have expressed in this blog. In all honesty, I do not want to be an angry or resentful person.

I believe most of what I've said on this blog is accurate and defensible. I know that one man's sincere regret is another man's "whining", and I am not oblivious to the duplicitous tactics of some of the law school apologists and administrators. That said, I do not think it's healthy to be a in a bitter feud with anyone - even the more corrupt and miserable elements of society.

I certainly am glad that there will continue to be a scam busting community, and I hope it grows into a larger, more visible organization, but I'm not the right person to be part of this movement. I don't regret most of what I've written, but I do regret some of the occasionally snide and nasty ways in which I've expressed myself.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, this blog went in a somewhat different direction than I expected. With my resumes ending up in oblivion and my networking connections flaming out, I didn't have much to write about regarding my job search.

When "A Law School Carol" unexpectedly garnered national legal press attention, I was pushed into the forefront of the scam busting movement. I hope this event was able to draw greater awareness about the community and in some ways contributed to the success of some of the more popular blogs such as Third Tier Reality, But I Did Everything Right, and the Jobless Juris Doctorate.

I would have never believed that simply by creating a blog and some simplistic cartoons I would be featured in three national legal publications and the Wall Street Journal blog. Moreover, being able to draw hundreds and sometimes even thousands of hits every time I publish a new post has been an honor. Maybe I should write into my law school's alumni magazine to advertise these accomplishments!

I contemplated revealing my law school in my final post, but I decided it wouldn't serve much of a purpose. Listing the school could possibly hurt me in the future, and my objection is to law school as a whole and not specifically Syracuse Law....oh wait, I mean the University of Florida Law...oh, I mean Loyola Law, uh, yeah that's it...

I did, however, plan on posting a narrative about my job search, a closing argument about why law school is a bad idea, and a final farewell after I posted my intended "victory" post. While I don't have the energy to write three full posts, let me conclude with three micro posts within this one:

***
In all, I spent 13 months unemployed since I graduated law school. Eleven of those months were post the bar exam. Eight of those months were months in which I was seriously committed to finding a non-legal job.

I sent out over a hundred resumes. I probably received a total of fifty responses - most of which were outright rejections. I was asked to come in for four interviews for serious, professional positions.

The first interview went well at first but quickly collapsed when it turned out that I lacked the requisite technical knowledge to succeed in the position without additional training. I was annoyed that neither the job listing nor my resume made any mention of serious programing experience. I was also displeased because I couldn't get a hold of anyone at the company to find out my status.

The second interview was a disaster. The security guard didn't even have me in the computer to let me up to the office. The guy who interviewed me clearly had no idea what was on my resume and asked a total of three questions. I had to fight traffic and pay for parking. Obviously, I couldn't get a hold of anyone in the office after the interview. I'm still shocked by the lack of professionalism I experienced.

The third interview was far more professional. The interviewer was the CEO of the company. He was polite and professional but not very friendly. I appreciated that he not only read my resume but also memorized it.

Unfortunately, this was the interview I was dreading. The first three questions were essentially "Why the #$%! did you go to law school if you don't want to practice law?" I actually think I handled these questions well, but his interrogation pushed me into defensive, moot court mode, and made me come across as too adversarial and quick talking throughout the rest of the interview.

In the end, I'll admit that I blew the interview by coming across as too aggressive and over-eager. Though, I don't think the interviewer and I would have gotten along very well, so maybe it was for the best.

While the interview was as professional as could be, and everything that went wrong was entirely my fault, I did become annoyed after the interview. I called the guy afterward, but he kept brushing me off instead of just thanking me for coming in and but saying that they had gone with another candidate. Moreover, during the interview, he actually promised to put me in touch with a networking connection (not a great sign at an interview), but he never followed through despite my requests.

My fourth interview was with my current employer. I actually wasn't expecting to get a job. I had a phone interview with my company, and it turned out that I wasn't at all qualified for the position for which I applied. Nevertheless, they invited me in to talk more about the company.

I didn't think this would amount to much, but I figured I'd go because it wasn't like I had much else to do. I actually considered not wearing a suit, and almost walked out when one of the interviewers took a call during the interview without excusing himself.

Then something odd happened - after I reiterated that I probably lacked the requisite skills to fill the role, he brushed it off by saying that it didn't matter. He then had me interview with another employee. Then he came in and talked to me again. Then I talked to another employee. Then he came in and asked me about my salary requirements. Anything above minimum wage that didn't require me to wear a paper hat sounded pretty good at that point, but I gave him a realistic figure.

He said he'd think about it, and the next day called me back to offer me a contract position that paid around what I wanted (albeit sans benefits and with the requirement to pay the SE tax for the time being) to evaluate my work before taking me on permanently.

The position could generally be called an IT/business position, which is what I wanted. I would prefer it to be a little more development/tech oriented, but otherwise it's pretty much exactly what I was looking for.

I was generally offered this role because my "employer" (technically "client" since I'm an IC) thought I was an intelligent guy with a pretty solid computer background. For the record, yes, they did see the JD as a plus, BUT before you apologists start yucking it up, let me point out the following: 1) This was one 1 of over 100 employers; 2) I presently make less than I did at my pre-law job; 3) I'm not even a permanent employee; 4) I still have a mountain of debt to worry about - IBR or no IBR.

I am, however, very grateful for this job, and I enjoy it. I'm also learning a lot of new thing, which will be marketable should I have to move on. I don't think I will voluntarily do so because there are some great opportunities available at this company.

For those of you still looking for work, I'm afraid I don't have much new advice to offer. Trying to sell yourself as a generally intelligent and capable person is a good idea, but learning some new, marketable skills is really the best approach. Try finding software that is used in the field in which you're looking and see if you can master it to give yourself a head start. If you're a writer, learn about SEO. If you're creative, look into learning about filming and video editing.

Besides that, just keep trying. If you have something to offer, eventually you'll find somebody who will pay you for it.

***
While things seem to have turned around for me, I wouldn't wish this experience on my worst enemy - maybe a law dean or two, but I'm talking about actual humans here.

If you're a prospective law student, I don't know what I else I can tell you that isn't already available elsewhere on my blog to try to convince you not to go to law school.

At the end of the day, if you ignore these warning, I guess it doesn't really affect me. I have my debt and my shame already, but you see, I do care. Maybe you think I'm a loser. Maybe reading my blog makes your blood boil. Maybe you're a pompous punk who thinks that he'll sooner grow a tail than end up begging for an unpaid internship with the local DA after passing the bar. It doesn't really matter; I still don't want this fate to beset you.

In other posts, I've tried to appeal to your reason; let me use this last post to appeal to your emotions.

Aside from those of you who know you want to be lawyers - and unless you've actually worked closely with practicing attorneys, you DON'T know - the people who go to law school are either recent college graduates or dissatisfied young employees who think a legal career will be more lucrative and/or more exciting than their present options. (Law schools prey on these poor souls with the ruthlessness of a lioness picking out and pouncing on a wounded wildebeest.)

If this is you, let me empathize with you. I was fortunate when I graduated college. The economy was doing well in 2004, and I landed a decent paying professional job. In some ways, I had it all. I lived in a luxury apartment (albeit sharing the rent with a friend), I had savings, and I had no debt. I could eat out with friends, and I could pretty much buy (within reason) whatever I wanted.

Yet I wasn't happy. My job was mundane and boring, and while it paid the rent and let me live a stable life, I wasn't exactly rolling in the dough and didn't think I could support a family on my salary. I also envisioned holding a job that was exciting, challenging, and lucrative.

Then I drank the law school Kool-Aid. I believed the data about the average starting salaries. I listened to the anecdotes about appearing in court, working with interesting clients, and researching compelling issues.

Sure, I knew that at the very big firms, the work wasn't that interesting, but I was never all that interested in working at the largest firms anyway. Besides, if the money ever seduced me into taking such a job, I could always move over to a smaller firm with more interesting work later on.

All I "knew" was that there's lots of work for lawyers because everyone needs lawyers, even the average law graduate was making good money, and whatever job I received, it would have to be better than my current job.

Sound familiar?

So I dutifully dumped tons of money into LSAT prep courses and the application process. I researched the schools and essentially felt like I was a senior in high school again, weighing my options as I embarked on a new chapter in my life.

I actually laid awake paralyzed with fear one night, worried that I had blown the LSAT and would have to stay at my job and forgo law school (back then you only had one chance at the LSAT). If only I HAD bombed the LSAT!

Maybe my job was boring. Maybe I wasn't making enough money. Maybe I needed to find a new career path, but the answer certainly wasn't to be found by going six figures into debt and wasting three years of my life all to attend a school that would give me neither practical training nor a pipeline into a new and better industry.

On the eve of law school, I had a good job, my own place, and a positive net worth. When I graduated law school, none of these facts were true.

Let me put it this way, if I had access to a time machine, I would go back in time to find myself sitting at my desk, reviewing law school brochures. I would then rip the glossy brochure out of my former self's hands and throw him to the ground. I would proceed to kick him several times and tell him if he ever even considered applying to law school after this, I'd be back to finish the job.

Sure, I'd probably have a few bruised ribs today, but I'd also probably not be in the process of requesting Sallie Mae to put me on the IBR, so I "only" need to hand over 10% of my salary for most of the rest of my life.

***
With that, I guess it's time to close up shop. Thank you to everyone who took the time to read, comment, or contact me with your stories.

It was an honor to hear from so many people who changed their minds about law school because of this blog, derived some comfort by reading my posts, or just found this blog to be an entertaining way to kill some time at work.

If this blog has helped one person find a non legal job or convinced a single person not to go to law school, then I'm convinced that my efforts have been worth it even if "Esq Never" hasn't moved the law school industry even an inch towards reform.

While I don't have any intention of pulling a "Brett Favre", I may occasionally post articles on Underdog, Esq. if I believe I have anything particularly compelling about which to write, but I wouldn't expect any such articles for a while.

I will leave this blog up (but not add to it) and available until Blogger goes the way of Geocities and deletes all of its pages.

I wish everyone the best of luck, and I hope that all of you who are currently suffering from unemployment and underemployment (thanks to your JD's) end up landing on your feet.

While I don't want to discuss law school or the scam anymore, if I can ever help anyone in the future with advice about transitioning into a non-legal job, please feel free to e-mail me. I can't promise an immediate response, but I'll do my best to check my esqnever at hotmail dot com account and try to respond.

With that, this is Esq. Never - signing off.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Esq, Never's 100th Post

Well, after nine months of blogging about the non-legal job search and the law school scam, I've finally reached 100 posts. It would be great if I could use this occasion to make an exciting announcement - but I can't. I wish I had something particularly creative for this post - but I've been too busy.

Instead, I'm going to do what every great production of the past has copped out by doing when it reaches a milestone of some sort - A "Best Of" episode!

For those of you who have been regular readers since the beginning (or those who have read through the archives), I'm afraid there won't be much new in the post. For those who may have missed some of my earlier posts, I'm going to try to highlight some of the articles I've enjoyed the most that you may want to check out.

If you've already read these posts, I'm going to provide a few additional comments that you may or may not find interesting.

Thanks to everyone for reading. I hope others have found my blog to be either informative or entertaining.

The Best of Esq. Never

Not Another Law Blog

My very first post. Find out why not all unpaid internships are bad. Mine, for example, finally convinced me to move on with my life and leave the futile search for an attorney position behind me.

But I Have a Law Degree!

I wish I had put more effort into getting more people to adopt this catch phrase. Sure, you know somebody who graduated from Bob Jones University who is doing just fine while you're barely qualified to pick up cans on the side of the highway with you first tier J.D., but you have a law degree!

A Law School Carol


I'm probably the only 2009 law school graduate (at least from my school) to be featured prominently in the National Law Journal, the ABA Journal, the Wall Street Journal (law blog), and the National Jurist.

Is this because I'm secretly some hotshot attorney biting the hand that feeds me? No, it's because I spent part of my year of unemployment creating a cartoon known as "A Law School Carol".

The Thanksgiving Day Turkey

Thanks to law school, I'll probably have to eat crow at every single family gathering for the next decade.

E-Mail Scam Alert!


This is almost as honest as the marketing materials that most of the law schools use.

The Fallacy of the Sunk Cost

Say it with me: There's no use crying over spilled milk. There's no use crying over spilled milk. There's no use crying over spilled milk.

This makes sense, so why do so many people continue with law school or with being lawyers just because they've incurred some associated expenses? My guess is that most lawyers never took an economics class in college. Oh wait, I majored in economics, and I still made this mistake. Never mind.

The Greatest Sham on Earth


"Wow! You passed the bar! Congratulations! Now, let's squeeze you into an overflowing room for one of our fifty swearing in ceremonies this year. See everyone else who is here? You'll be competing against them for the eight attorney positions that are available in the state."

I'm Everything I Ever Hated


I used to be pleased with myself for avoiding falling into the trap of earning a worthless liberal arts degree. Thanks to law school, that's no longer the case.

The Federal Student Loan Program


Speaking of economics. Here's an economic analysis of why the law school scam has been able to prosper and thrive. Hint: Free student loans + shameless law school deans = lives of misery and shame for law school graduates.

Esq. Never's Season's Greetings to Law School Deans


I'll bet you think I don't like law school deans, but this year I actually had a present for them: An Esq. Never original poem.

Pride and Prejudice


Remember how that after Elizabeth married Darcy she found out that his wealth was actually illusory and that Pemberley was financed through his Sallie Mae student loans, so she subsequently left him for that loser who was in the military? No? Well, that's probably why Jane Austen made Mr. Darcy a businessman and not a barrister.

Yes, I'm kind of ashamed I know that much about a romance novel aimed towards women. Another reason why I'm glad this blog is anonymous.

In any event, if you're prideful about going to law school, I can guarantee you that you won't live happily ever after.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Look at this picture and tell me it doesn't send a chill up your spine. Bonus: If you're a recent graduate who still thinks you have a crack at a serious attorney position and can look at this without breaking a sweat, you must be fearless, an idiot, or legally blind.

The Networking Trail of Tears

What's worse? Being a Cherokee who is forced to live in Oklahoma or being an attorney forced to rely on the kindness of your network to get you a job? This is an honest question. I don't really know.

The Craigslist Test

Want to find a used washer, an apartment, or a one night stand? Craigslist can help. Want to find an attorney position - or at least one that pays better than home depot? Craigslist probably won't be quite as helpful.


There are some more recent posts that I think are pretty good, but I assume most people have read them.

I know plenty of people question whether it has been worth my time to run this blog, but if it has stopped one person from going to law school or plays any role in eventually encouraging some reform, then it has been worth it for me.

Law school is a scam. There's no reason for there to be an entrenched system that charges thousands of students so much money while providing a reasonable rate of return to only a tiny percentage of graduates. It shouldn't be allowed to be propped up by unjustified loans and distorted employment data.

I'm glad that I've been able to play a small role in attacking this corrupt system for 100 posts. I also hope I've been able to assist those looking for non-legal jobs. It's been my pleasure to bring you this blog, and I hope you've enjoyed it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Calico Cat

Calico Cat was one of the first bloggers to try to expose the law school scam. He did so as a top 10% (at graduation) student from a tier 1 school back in 2004! Imagine what he would have to say about today's environment.

Unfortunately, this forefather of the scam busting movement's site is no longer available, so I have decided to run his salient essay on this blog. (Thank you, Google Cache.)

The lousy post-graduation opportunities for new attorneys are nothing new; it's just that both the economy and COA are much worse today. Don't be fooled. Even if the economy recovers, happy days will not be here again (for lawyers).

Law school: the big lie


(Reprinted from the now defunct Calico Cat blog.)


Every year tens of thousands of wannabe lawyers enter law school. The majority will be extremely disappointed by their career opportunities.

Thus the title of this essay: law school is a big lie. People enter law school with the idea that a law degree is their ticket to a comfortable upper middle class lifestyle. In fact, just the opposite, law school for most is a ticket to a worse financial state than if they had not attended at all.

This news is hard for people to accept, because “everyone knows” that lawyers make a lot of money. Right? Well look at the salaries for government lawyers in your area. They probably start in the 30s. Why would anyone take a job paying in the 30s if law jobs pay six figures? They wouldn’t. After a decade or more of service to the state, you salary will most likely max out in the five figures. That’s a pretty lousy salary for a job that requires three years of graduate school education. There are plenty of people without any graduate education earning six figures, and they don’t have to pay back the student loans that lawyers have to take out in order to pay for law school. Bill Gates is the richest man in the world and he doesn’t even have an undergraduate degree.

There are some lawyers who start out with a good salary. They work for what they call “BIGLAW” on the internet message boards. Big law firms pay their associates a starting salary in the six figures. But here’s the sad news: only a tiny percentage of law school graduates will ever get these six figure jobs at big law firms. Unless you go to a top law school, the six figure big law firm job will most likely not be yours.

There are only 14 top law schools. That’s right. Not 10, not 15, but 14. They are, in descending order of prestige: Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, NYU, Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, University of Virginia, Duke, Northwestern, Cornell, UC Berkeley, and Georgetown. And that’s it. Go to any other law school, and your chances of getting a big law firm job will be slim to none.

There are also distinct levels of prestige within the top 14. Yale, Harvard, and Stanford are head and shoulders above the rest. Then Columbia, NYU and maybe Chicago round out the top 6. Attending one of these top top law schools will vastly improve your odds. The guy graduating at the bottom of the class at Harvard will have better career opportunities than the guy graduating at the top of the class at an ordinary law school.

Outside of the top law schools, the only law school graduates having decent job opportunities will be those who graduated in the top ten percent of the class and who made law review. Law review and top ten percent are usually the same people because at most law schools the law review members are selected from those whose grades are in the top ten percent at the end of the first year. If like me, your grades weren’t in the top ten percent at the end of the first year, but you managed to graduate in the top ten percent, you are screwed because you weren’t on law review. Furthermore, most big law firms make offers to their summer associates, who get interviewed and hired during the second half of the second year, thus it’s mostly your grades during the first three semesters of law school that determine your entire legal future.

If you are reading this, and you’re a law student who already received your first semester grades, and they aren’t top ten percent, then my advice is to drop out now instead of throwing more money down the law school black hole.

Despite being warned that the only way to get a decent job in law if one attends a non-top 14 school is to make law review and the top ten percent, tens of thousands of suckers will enroll anyway. They think “I will be the one who makes the top ten percent” or “even if I don’t make the top ten percent, things will work out.” Let’s state the odds clearly: 90% of the class will not make the top 10%. You are not the only person in law school thinking they are going to bust their butt to make the top ten percent. 80% of the people start out thinking they are going to bust their butt. And some people from the 20% who are slackers are going to wind up in the top 10% too, because law school grades have a huge random element. One of the biggest slacker/party girls in my first year law school class made the top 10%. She wound up getting a high paying job at a big law firm because the law school gods decided to randomly grace her during her first semester.

The law schools will trick prospective students with bogus statistics about the great career opportunities available to graduates. Don’t believe everything you read. First of all, there are the documented lies, like the admissions brochure for my law school alma mater, Arizona State University College of Law (ASU), which listed the average starting salary for graduates with job offers at graduation from private law firms. But what percentage of the class graduates with a job offer in hand from a private law firm? About 10%? Trumpeting the average salary for 10% of the class is damned deceptive.

I further suspect that some law schools outright lie on their reported career placement statistics. Think about public companies. They have a strong incentive to lie on their financial statements, so that is why they have to prepare their statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and the accounting has to be audited by an independent public accounting firm. Despite these safeguards, companies like Enron are still caught lying on their financial statements.

Law school career placement statistics do not have to be prepared in accordance with generally accepted principles, and they aren’t audited by independent public accountants. Therefore they can’t be trusted. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because they are “non-profit” they can be trusted, or that they are run only for the benefit of the public. There’s no such thing as no one making a profit. “Non-profit” only means that no one owns the residual profits from the law school, there are plenty of stakeholders making out like bandits. Law schools are run for the benefit of the law professors who have cushy six figure jobs, and the money for their salaries comes from the gullible chumps called law students.

How cushy is a job as a law professor? Law professors earn six figures and only have to work six hours a week. And they get summers off too. How much better can it get? That’s right, law professors are only allowed to teach six hours of classes a week. If they taught more than six hours a week, the law school would lose its accreditation. Maybe some of the new law professors have to spend some time preparing for class, but by the time the law professor has a few years under his belt, he knows the material cold. Some of the older law professors were able to recite the entire textbook without ever even looking at it. In class one day, all the students looked quizzically at the law professor while he recited the exact details of a case that wasn’t in the textbook. Finally this was brought to his attention. It turns out that he was reciting from the last edition of the book. He didn’t even bother to look at the textbook in front of him to see that the case wasn’t in there.

The only time that law professors have to do any real work is when they grade exams. And law school exams are only given once at the end of the semester. So we are talking about two weeks of real work at the end of each semester. And in one case, a law professor at ASU, was apparently too lazy to even put in his two weeks of work and he made up fake grades for the students in his class. When his deception was discovered, all he got was a temporary suspension, and a short time later he was back at law school teaching law.

So we see, law professors have cushy jobs, therefore they have a strong incentive to lie on the career placement statistics because those are equivalent to a for-profit company’s financial statements, and it’s what the prospective law students look at to decide if they want to “invest” in the law school education.

Another fallacy that prospective law students hold onto is that the law degree has some kind of value outside of law. They think, “if I don’t practice law, at least it’s a prestigious degree that will help my non-law career.” This is completely false. Having a law degree hurts your chances of getting non-law jobs. No one wants to hire you if you have a law degree. Because “everyone knows” that lawyers make so much money, they can’t understand why someone with a law degree would want to do anything else but practice law. If you say “I couldn’t find a job practicing law.” which is probably the truth, they will think “this person is a loser because everyone know how easy it is to find a job practicing law, and we don’t hire losers around here.” If you say “I was just exploring my options but decided I didn’t want to practice law,” then they will think “this person has no idea what he wants to do, we want to hire people who know where their career is going.” There is absolutely no way to spin the law degree in a way that it helps you get a non-law job. Hiring managers are looking for cookie cutter resumes, not resumes where people have education unrelated to the job. From their perspective, they’re not hiring a lawyer so they don’t give a crap if you know how to synthesize appellate cases (assuming they even know what “synthesize appellate cases” means, which is unlikely). The only way I have been able to find any jobs outside of law is to leave the law degree off my resume. Whenever the law degree has been on my resume, it has been the kiss of death that prevents me from finding a job.

Finally, this essay would be incomplete if it didn’t discuss the burden of student loans. Whatever salary you make after graduating from law school has to be discounted by the cost of your student loan repayments. The student loan payments are not tax deductible (except to a very limited extent which will likely not apply to you). Your marginal tax rate will probably be around 45%, which means that for every $100/month in student loan payments, you need to have a stated additional salary of $182/month to cover the student loan payments. This means that if your law school education adds $500/month in student loan payments, you are paying $6,000/year in student loans and you need to earn an extra $10,910/year to cover the payments. This means that a $40,000/year job as a law school graduate gives you the equivalent disposable income of a $29,090/year job if you didn’t have a law degree. And it’s a lot easier to find a $29,000/year job with a bachelor’s degree than it is to find a $40,000/year job with a law degree.

Even if you are one of the rare and lucky law school graduates who can obtain a six figure job at a big law firm, those jobs are rumored to be bad. I can’t say much about this because I never worked at a big law firm, but according to what I’ve been told, a large percentage of the partners at big law firms are jerks who treat their associates like garbage and make them work ridiculously long hours. Some of this may be unjustified whining, because I was treated like garbage at a job where I was making $9/hour. Nevertheless, one needs to consider that the ultimate goal of law school, a big law firm job, attained by only a small percentage of law school graduates, may not be the great reward it’s supposed to be.

I predict that some prospective law students will find this essay, read it, and not believe it. Because no matter how much you try to tell a prospective law student the truth about law, they don’t believe it. “Everyone knows” that lawyers make a lot of money, how can this be true? Believe me, it’s true, and if you attend law school you will learn this the hard way. Don’t waste three years of your life and go into tens of thousands of dollars of debt that can never be discharged in bankruptcy to find out that your career opportunities suck after all that. Please, learn the truth now.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I Joined the ABA

If learning this comes as a surprise to you, it actually came as a surprise to me as well.

Apparently, while the law school scam is humming along nicely during the recession thanks to an endless supply of federally backed loans, the ABA hasn't been so fortunate. (I guess even recessions have bright sides.)

This makes sense as struggling solos and unemployed lawyers, who need to decide between heating their homes or eating from somewhere other than the nearby dumpster, probably are not in the position to pay the annual $125 dues to the ABA.

Therefore, it looks like Ms. Lamm and her criminal buddies need to engage in some creative marketing techniques to ensure the long term fiscal help of this worthless organization. One such tactic is apparently to offer free one year ABA memberships to "recently" barred attorneys with the hope that many of us will lazily renew our membership at cost the following year.

I put "recently" in quotations because the ABA granted me free admission to the ABA under the guise of congratulating me for passing the bar - a "feat" that is now several months old.

The letter they sent me promises that as an ABA member I'll get networking opportunities, access to the ABA website, and use of the ABA's "economic recovery resources". In other words, I get nothing.

Oh, but they are going to mail me my PRESTIGIOUS ABA membership card. Yes, they actually used the word "prestigious". I didn't realize that being able to write a check for 125 dollars is all it takes to earn prestige.

The most insulting part is that they advertise my ability to sign up for CLE's and that if I send in a survey, they'll match me with appropriate products and services. Pretty much they have to hide behind the veneer of doing me a favor when they're just trying find a way to sell my information to make more money for themselves. Thanks for looking out for me, ABA.

Ah, but it isn't entirely a loss. After all, I received a certificate of membership to the ABA, which can double as a place mat for my Chinese food, and I was able to save a whopping ten bucks on a car rental thanks to some deal they have with Hertz.

That almost makes up for the $90k I wasted on law school. Oh wait, it doesn't.

Carol Lamm, if you're not going to do anything about the law school scam, please just leave its victims alone. Thanks.
 
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