Wednesday, June 30, 2010

PSA: Rising 3L's Cut Your Losses

Let me be blunt: If you've just completed your 1L year and you've learned that you are not in the top 25% (save those from the top 3 schools or who have some incredible family connections), it's probably time to start looking at other options.

In fact, let me be even more blunt - If you're in this situation and you're even considering signing another promissory note with Aunt Sallie Mae and heading back to your TTT this fall, you, sir or madam, are insane.

If people who have the logical reasoning ability to crack 160 or even 170 on the LSAT can't recognize that pursuing entry into a glutted field with anything less than stellar credentials is a bad idea, then I have to agree with the critics of standardized testing: There must be something seriously flawed with the exam.

While the willingness of 1L's to hang around doesn't negate the wickedness of the law school cartel, it certainly does make these students seem like less sympathetic characters. What else do they need? A front page story in the Wall Street Journal with the headline, If You Stay in Law School, You'll Be Unemployed and Living in Your Mom's Basement in Two Years?

Unfortunately, the WSJ hasn't been kind enough to run such an piece, but we have something that's pretty darn close in the US News and World Report article entitled, Law Jobs Will Be Harder to Come By.

In this article, the law school cartel's court statistician, James Leipold (of NALP) admits that's it's going to be ugly for the class of 2011, and he's not exactly ready to predict a return to normalcy in 2012 either. (Though he does leave just enough room for hope so that 1L's and prelaws can talk themselves into going down with the ship.)

If people like Leipold can't come up with optimistic things to say about the legal market, then you know that happy days aren't here again.

How is this particularly relevant to rising 3L's? Well, while any sane member of the class of 2012, who isn't law review bound, should be preparing for his law school exit interview, members of the class of 2011 are in a far more difficult situation.

After all, as the conventional wisdom goes, if you realize after 1L year that LS isn't for you, it's time to cut your losses and move on, but if you've already invested two years into law school, you might as well stick it out and at least get the degree.

I respectfully disagree. Yes, walking away from two years worth of intensive school work (particularly when the third year is the least difficult) with little to show for it is not appealing. Nevertheless, one needs to keep in mind the sunk cost fallacy - it is irrational to make future decisions based upon costs that have already been incurred.

For many people having a law degree and a license is of absolutely no help. They can't find (or really don't want) legal jobs. The J.D. does nothing to help a person find non-legal work. Even trying to bail yourself out with doc review work isn't really an option anymore.

The cost of completing a third year is also prohibitive. At most private schools, tuition alone is between $30 - $50k. Throw in living expenses and the total cost could easily exceed $70k. Upon graduation, the fallacy of the sunk cost can become even more enticing. If you've completed law school, you "might as well take the bar exam". Of course, this little intellectual exercise can cost thousands more in test prep programs, exam fees, and even living expenses.

What's more there's still the opportunity cost of forgoing yet another year (and a summer) of wages. Add up all these costs - plus the interest on the amount you'll need to borrow - and you'll see that "just finishing up your degree" is hardly something you can do on the cheap.

Now, I know the psychological barriers to pulling the trigger and bailing out at this point are high. (To say nothing of the peer - and likely parental - pressure.)

Therefore, let me pose some more modest steps you can take.

It's still summer and the law school beast won't be demanding it's feast of your tuition dollars at least until August. Use this time to search for a job. If you can land something that pays decently and seems interesting, dump your law school faster than the average law school dean dumped his or her sense of decency.

While landing a half decent job that quickly may not be the easiest feat ever, you do have some advantages when compared to the average law school graduate. For one thing, you're only two years removed from either college or full time employment. Moreover, nobody is going to be afraid that you'll just run off and take an attorney position when the economy improves because you won't be eligible to even sit for the bar.

If employers seem skeptical about your decision to drop out, you can at least reply that you had hoped that law school would help prepare you for a variety of fields other than law, but once you realized that it had little application outside of practicing as an attorney, you decided to withdraw. Plus, a little lawyer bashing will warm the hearts of more than a few prospective employers.

If you can't bring yourself to drop out and you don't land anything over the summer, you should dedicate yourself to using your 3L year to find a job. By this, I don't mean occasionally applying for something. I mean putting in as much effort as those of use who are out of school. Network, try to get internships (non-legal), send out a ton of resumes (learn what works and what doesn't), etc.

Pretty much devote as much time as you can without failing out of school. Don't worry about law school. What do you think is going to be more important to your future? Getting a serious jump on finding a non-legal job or getting a "B+" instead of a "B" in Complex Litigation or making the "Octo-Final" round of the "Moot Court Tribal Indian Law" competition?

You guys didn't listen when you enrolled in law school. Now, you have an opportunity to mitigate the damage you've already done to your careers. If those who have already graduated are any indication, those who fall for the fallacy of the sunk costs are, well, sunk.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Good News; Bad News

I have some updates coming about my recent interviews and other events from the sad tale that is my job search. In the meantime, I thought I'd give you some insight into what I've seen in the job market in recent weeks.

I was somewhat surprised to hear the bad economic news this morning that consumer confidence plunged this month (and has taken the stock market with it). The main reason for the decline appears to be the weak labor market.

Obviously, it comes as no real shock that the economy isn't exactly booming, but at least from my own experiences, things are looking up.

One of the most depressing aspects of the job search used be just looking at the job boards for available positions. Entry level prospects usually only amounted to little more than sales positions or retail management trainee positions.

More substantive roles were available, but they usually either required years of work experience or a well developed skill set - usually acquired by having a practical degree in something like computer programming.

Recently, there have been far more positions available. Many positions also don't have the same strict guidelines they once did. I have found a number of roles where the employer actually appeared to be looking for bright, well educated, and talented candidates rather than someone who fits an inflexible rubric.

Moreover, within the last month, I have probably been offered a chance to interview one out of every ten times I have submitted a resume. Though, I'm not sure if it's entirely due to an improved economy because I've also received some help making my resume more professional.

The bad news, for many others with J.D.'s, is that a lot of the interest I have received in my resume has been based upon my previous work experience. (Though I have kept the J.D. on my resume.)

For anyone else who is pursuing a non-legal career, have you guys also noticed an improved market and better jobs options? Feel free to weigh in using the comments section.

Monday, June 21, 2010

For Shame

The other day I was talking to an elderly lady I knew. Sadly, she felt compelled to ask the question I dread hearing the most these days, "So, how's the job search going?" I tried to brush it off by saying I was still looking.

Nevertheless, she persisted. She wondered how I was supporting myself, and I was again forced to remind her (and myself) that yes, I am a 28 year old with both a college and graduate degree who lives at home with his parents. She continued to lightly reprove me by reminding me that this was a long time to be out of work and that I needed to find something soon.

Had this not been an old lady, who probably thought she was being helpful, I probably wouldn't have tolerated this line of questioning, but in truth, she was only expressing in words what I'm sure many people are usually thinking when they learn about my situation.

What acceptable response can I possibly give? The myth of the law degree permeates society (at least for people who don't make hiring decisions). Nobody understands just how few legal jobs exist - and just how crummy most of them are. Few people realize that the J.D. will automatically exclude you from many non-legal positions.

It's next to impossible to explain that because of the dearth of attorney positions and the difficulty of transitioning into another field, many law graduates are left in unemployment purgatory where the odds are stacked against them in finding any work at all during a recession.

Over the course of writing this blog, I've written about most of the woes related to attending law school: the debt, the lousy employment prospects, toilet law, doc review sweatshops, arrogant professors, all of the incidental costs associated with attending LS, etc. These are all bad, but the worst part is the shame.

When expectations are so high for law graduates and opportunities are so limited, people are confused. An unemployed lawyer? Something must be wrong here! And guess what? In the eyes of most of these people, that "something" is YOU.

It's amazing the number of people who ignore first hand accounts of just how bad the job prospects are out of law school. I had a friend who went to a TTT law school (and is continuing after his first year) even though he knows all about my situation and that I went to a better ranked school than him.

It doesn't matter if you went to a good school, had average to good grades, or a strong resume, these prelaws "know" that they just have to do better, and they'll be fine.

In the same way, people who don't go to law school will judge you based upon what they "know". Can't find a job? You must either be a real loser or you're just not trying hard enough.

The latter assumption has underscored what many people seem to feel about my job search. It doesn't matter that I've submitted tons of resumes, gone on interviews (which plenty of JD's can't even get), gone to job fairs, and networked with just about everyone I can. This is practically a full time job to me, but no, if other people don't see results, they assume you're just sitting at home watching the Cartoon Network instead of trying to find a job.

There's nothing I can really do to rectify this problem. It isn't like I've been particularly picky when applying for jobs. I've told temp agencies I would accept clerical positions. I've applied (and begged for) entry level positions designed for recent college graduates. I've been willing to accept salaries south of $40k.

The shame game doesn't necessarily end after finding employment either. Suppose I did land one of those low level positions, that's not exactly the sort of thing that's going to be trumpeted in my law school's alumni newsletter. Even if I could get a decent $40k a year, corporate job with room for growth, that still wouldn't impress too many people (even though it'd be a dream come true for me). Heck, if I became a corporate VP making $100k, I know some people would still be disappointed in me for not being a lawyer.

For those who do become attorneys, there's still plenty of shame to go around. If you're paying back loans while finding yourself in small law, people are going to wonder why you don't drive a fancy car and live in a luxury condo. If you're chasing ambulances, you better believe people are going to make fun of you.

How about being a doc review prol? Trying to explain what you do to a non-attorney probably isn't exactly fun. "Well, I essentially click a mouse all day in a windowless basement. Those three years of law school really were necessary for this."

Going to law school certainly is a good antidote to pride. It's hard to be arrogant when you're in your late 20's or early 30's and either living with your parents or barely squeaking by while working a job that doesn't require a GED. There's not too much room for boasting when you spent three years in law only to make less money than you could make with a college degree.

If you're somebody who hasn't been able to reign in his ego through any other means, give law school a try. It'll certainly help bring you back down to earth (and even lower). For everyone else, unless you want to be filled with shame every time anyone asks you about your career prospects, please stay away from law school.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Response to a Commenter

[Note: This comment appeared in the comments section to my last post. I've decided to address it as a separate post because it raises some important issues.]

Just a question: What exactly is "toilet law?" It sounds like you are saying there is "Big Law" or "Toilet Law" or "Non-Profit/Public Sector Law" and that's I getting that right?

I'm only asking because I will be attending law school (on a scholarship) and would not work in so-called "Big Law."

Don't bother telling me not to go to law school--I've weighed everything and am going, at least as long as I maintain the scholarship.

And on a side note--why WOULD anyone think that a JD would help with a non-law job? I think anyone who would go to law school based on that (or give that any weight whatsoever) is kind of foolish to begin with. The purpose of a JD is to practice law. Of course a job that gains no benefit form that isn't going to pay a premium for you (or even hire you) based on that! Instead, I'm sure most employers look at that and think that you'll just want more money either now or down the road while a "less educated" applicant will not want as much.

Gerald T. Studebaker

Esq. Never's Response:


Thank you for providing an intelligent comment from a pro-law school perspective. I'm sorry that you can't be talked out of going to law school, but I certainly hope that you're somehow able to succeed.

"Toilet law" generally refers to small firms that are not very pleasant to work for. They have low starting salaries particularly when weighed against the average starting salaries depicted in the law school marketing materials. (See some of the links from my last post for examples.)

Moreover, there is very little room for advancement, much of the work involves tediously filling out forms for different courts, and the time one spends in court usually takes place in some of more depressing court rooms in the jurisdiction. I urge you to take a look at Big Debt, Small Law's "about" section also linked in my last post.

I know that you probably think that you'll just work for a mid-law firm or a "good" small law firm. This is not quite as feasible as you believe. Many of these boutique and mid-sized firms don't hire law school graduates straight from law school. In most cases, you actually need to work for Big Law and then lateral over to these firms once your time as a big firm associate comes to an end.

Some of these firms may hire a handful of recent graduates, but in those cases, the graduates will likely have the same credentials that most Big Law starting associates have (either very high grades or a degree from one of the top few schools).

You may believe that you're a shoe in for ending up in that category, but just remember there are currently plenty of unemployed T-14 students, and even if we assume that the end of the recession will take care of this "anomaly", even before the recession, plenty of good law students were in tough shape. (Hence the topic of my last post.)

If you don't believe me, Angel the Lawyer of "But I Did Everything Right!" graduated from a top 30 school with a scholarship (pre-recession). Big Debt, Small Law graduated in the top 1/3rd of his class from second tier, Seton Hall. This was also pre-recession. Both of them ended up in "toilet" law making only slightly more than many college graduates are able to make. They didn't even have real benefit packages (e.g. no real health coverage).

The reason why so many bright students who miss the cutoff for Big Law but are still able to find firm work end up in "toilet law" is because those are the firms that tend to hire. Many small firms are small for a reason, and if they are going to expand they either want attorneys with a pre-existing book of business or at least somebody they don't have to waste time training.

The law firm "mills" that make money on the volume of cases they are able to churn out tend to be the low level personal injury and insurance defense firms. Because they just need warm bodies to keeping pushing the clients and settlements through, they're willing (or at least were willing, pre-recession) to take on inexperienced recent graduates and continue hiring them as older associates burn out and can't endure working for these firms anymore.

As for your query about non-legal jobs. You are correct that there is no reason to go to law school if you don't plan on practicing. Moreover, I'm glad you're going into school recognizing that getting a non-legal job after graduation isn't really an accessible option.

Nevertheless, plenty of law students enter law school every year under the assumption that if that can't make it law, they'll at least be able to market their skills in another field. The law schools certainly do nothing to persuade law students against believing this fallacy. They often highlight the ostensible versatility of the J.D.

Regardless, many students do eventually end up never practicing either because they hate the law or can't find work as an attorney. At my decent, second tier school, the school's own statistics indicated that almost 20% (1/5) of the students went into "business" after graduation! This was also based upon the Class of 2007, who graduated before the market crashed.

The problem with the legal field is that there are so many attorneys and only a limited number of jobs. As I mentioned, before the recession, many of the surplus J.D.'s could find mind numbing temporary jobs working in document review. Now that those jobs are largely unavailable (at least to recent graduates), the only exit for many students is to try to find non-legal positions.

Moreover, a good number of people end up going through law school and realize that being an attorney is not for them.

Once again, I regret that you seem unwilling to listen to some of these warnings, but if you do end up in a position where you either lose your scholarship or don't have the grades to get a good job, I urge you to remain open minded to the possibility of dropping out.

Best of luck,

Esq. Never

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Essential Law School Talking Point: Blame the Recession

You don't have to tell me that recessions stink. With unemployment hovering around 10% and unemployment for folks under 30 usually reported at about 15%, who knows when I'll ever find a job. Moreover, those statistics don't include the underemployed and people who have just stopped looking for work.

Recessions aren't bad for everyone, however. Those with stable jobs that are largely unaffected by the business cycle (or are living off savings) can enjoy an indirect boost in discretionary income due to the falling price level. Certain speculators can take advantage of depressed prices and eventually profit when the economy and prices rebound. Even scam artists can take advantage of those who are out of work and are looking for an easy way to generate extra income.

Speaking of scam artists, law schools aren't exactly hurting during the recession either. For one thing, the economic collapse has resulted in a skyrocketing demand for graduate education as throngs of dupes flock to the ivory tower to wait out the recession. This has allowed the law schools to keep the scam (and tuition prices) growing stronger than ever.

Not only that, it has given them the cover they need to explain away the disastrous employment prospects that await their victims, err, graduates. "Surely, the law schools aren't to blame for the downturn in the economy," they contend. "Why everybody is hurting, and unfortunately the legal industry has been no exception." Plus, they make sure to add, "Prospective students should not be deterred; after all, the recession will surely be over by the time you graduate. Pay no attention to the plight of the classes of 2009/10."

It's, of course, true that jobs aren't exactly plentiful in any field. Nevertheless, as I pointed in in my "Craigslist Test" post, while there are few if any opportunities for attorneys (at least at the entry level), there are listings for positions in other fields - even in legal support roles!

There have also been multiple Craigslist ads offering salaries south of $40k in which the employer is only willing to consider the most elite applicants. Other firms have sought to hire new "attorneys" at hourly wages comparable to what one could make at Home Depot.

This ugly scenario can partially be attributed to the recession, but the reason why the market for attorneys is particularly atrocious (when compared to other industries) is because it never was all that robust to begin with. When the economy collapsed, the legal labor market got pounded into the ground.

To be sure, aspects of the legal industry were booming during the middle of the last decade. The large corporate firms were raking in the dough, and as a result, graduates from the elite schools, the top 10-20% of the "decent" schools, and a few "affirmative action" picks from the true toilets made their way into the coveted SA positions and eventually landed cushy first year associate positions.

Those who were truly gifted at networking, were born into the right families, or were just plain lucky also did alright. Also, those who were willing to accept the vow of poverty could likely find some DA or PD position to allow them to get the experience of working in the courtroom and to call themselves attorneys.

For pretty much everyone else, the golden age of legal employment wasn't exactly golden. Sure the media didn't really start to notice until their Ivy League golden children were no longer getting wined and dined by the big law plutocracy, but life wasn't so pleasant for the average unconnected graduate of virtually every school below the top 25 schools (and that's probably being generous) during this era.

For one thing, grad plus loans and the IBR plan have only been available since 2007 and 2009 respectively. While tuition was slightly lower a few years ago, going into six figures of debt for a private law school degree was hardly out of the question. That meant that it was easy to rack up nearly half of ones debt in private, non-dischargable loans and essentially become Sallie Mae's indentured servant for life.

But let's put that aside because the debt issue has been "solved". (At least until the the expense of the IBR blows up in the government's face.)

One cliche from that "golden era" was that law students were forced to take the high paying but largely unfulfilling associate positions at large firms in order to effectively pay down their debts. The truth was, of course, that only a limited number of students even had this opportunity.

What about the rest of the poor schlubs who were saddled with just as much debt but less impressive transcripts and/or academic pedigrees?

It's true that between 2004 and 2008, this wasn't an automatic sentence of unemployment and living in your mom's basement. Instead it usually was a sentence of wishing you were unemployed while working in Paul Weiss' poorly ventilated document review basement.

You see, this age of abundance was an era when the bright and well educated were flushed out of the back of law school machine only to work for some ambulance chasing parasite, click a mouse for $35 bucks an hour in a document review gulag, or abandon law altogether, rendering one's entire graduate education worthless.

And you know what? Those really were the good old days! I'm serious. As mentioned, today's toilet law firms essentially want top 10% students from tier one schools who were on law review. (All for the princely sum of $35k/year sans benefits.)

Doc Review gigs now requires experience - meaning entry level attorneys are actually under qualified to click a stupid mouse. I've personally been waiting for almost nine months to get a JUNIOR doc review position that pays $17/hour. We all, of course, know the score when it comes to finding a non-legal job.

Still, while I am left to dream about the days in which I could sit around in some third-world-worthy landlord tenant court or where I could actually be taken seriously at an interview for a job that doesn't require more than a BA, it probably says something about the law school industry when its most prosperous years were still a vile nightmare for most graduates.

Think I'm exaggerating? Take a look at our friend, Big Debt, Small Law. He graduated in 2005, top 1/3 of his class, from a second tier school. His reward? Cutting and pasting some mind numbing motions while representing the dregs of society for some ambulance chasing chop shop. Somehow, I doubt that this lovely career option was in the ol' Seton Hall brochure.

Tom the Temp was around long before unemployment launched into the stratosphere. In fact, his website gained notoriety largely based upon the sheer number of law grads who were being carted into these legal gulags to help the large firms keep up with their reams of discovery during the last economic expansion.

At least back then, watching your career and dignity slip away into oblivion before your very eyes earned you around $35 an hour plus overtime. Today, if you can even find this sort of work, you'll be lucky to make $20. (Experienced "attorneys" only, of course.)

Recall, it was during 2005, the height of the expansion, that the WSJ blew the whistle in its print edition on the fudged employment statistics published by the TTT diploma mills and helped expose the subterranean, doc review sweatshops.

How about trying to jump ship and finding a career outside of the law? Well, admittedly, back before the recession, it seemed like more companies were willing to give those with law degrees a second look (or at least were more forgiving about resumes with an unexplained gap).

To be sure, this wasn't because non-legal employers valued a JD; they just had a smaller pool of candidates from which to draw their "talent". A writer from the now defunct Barely Legal blog successfully transitioned into the corporate world before the crash, but guess what key piece of advice he has for those following in his footsteps:

"[Your J.D.] doesn't entitle you to anything more than you were entitled to coming out of college."

Did you catch that? After three years of law school and hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt (and possibly securing a law license), you'd better not expect any special treatment when applying for entry level positions outside of the legal field. Just try going into an interview with any sense of entitlement, TTT Grad, Esq., and see how far that gets you.

On top of that, almost every employer that takes your application seriously for a non-legal position is going to grill you over your legal education to a degree that would impress even the fictional Jack McCoy. This might be the only time in your life that having moot court experience will actually be of any benefit - to help you quickly address a barrage of hostile questions.

Barely Legal claimed that the only way to handle this inquisition is to simply explain that law school was just a detour in your educational development that helped you prepare for entry into the business world. I have found this advice to be pretty accurate.

If you find this account unpersuasive, Calico Cat wrote a few years earlier (also during the same period of prosperity) that the only way he was even able to find a job was to leave the J.D. off his resume altogether. Oh, by the way, he graduated in the top 10 percent in his class* from a tier 1 school.

So, let's assume the economy bounces back tomorrow. Let's further assume that the legal market returns to the way it was before the recession. I'd be overjoyed.

Nevertheless, what would await the majority of graduates of the class of 2011 in this more prosperous environment? Working for toilet law firms for $30-$50k per year. Being able to take mind numbing, document review jobs for hourly pay without gaining any substantive work experience. Taking a job which only requires a BA/BS and therefore rendering three years of graduate education entirely worthless.

Not exactly worth the $150k worth of debt.

Here's the Essential Esq. Never Talking Point: DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL!

*Based upon his final GPA; not his 1L GPA

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Prelaws Say the Darndest Things (Part 2)

It's time for the latest installment of "Prelaws say the Darndest Things!" As always, these are actual quotes from prelaw message boards/forums made by actual future Best Buy clerks and AFLAC sales representatives.

Save Your Yuan

I'm currently deciding between Temple and Villanova, with the hopes to transfer at the end of 1L.

I am interested in international law with an emphasis on China/Asian law. Temple has a LLM program with Beijing for an extra semester. The program is run by Mo Zhang who is known for his academic work in Chinese Law. Villanova has an LLM program in Singapore where you spend 2 years at Villanova and 1 year in Singapore, followed by work in Shanghai/Beijing. Villanova has two professors who are Fulbright scholars in China and Taiwan, but they do not specialize in Chinese law. There is no extra semester at Villanova. Temple has an International Law Journal, Villanova does not.

Yeah, and I'm interested in obtaining the super ability to leap over tall buildings in a single bounce, but even that fantasy is more realistic than your chances of landing an attorney position in international law after graduating from some 2TT with a third rate international law journal.

I guess Villanova is nice enough to throw in a worthless LLM with their worthless JD, but get a clue: Everybody and their brother wants to work in "international law" and a diploma from a school that can't crack the US News top 50 plus a year of partying in Southeast Asia isn't exactly going to put you at the front of the line for these jobs.

There aren't word to describe the foolishness of actually paying for an LLM in International Law (from Temple?!).

That's Crazy Talk!

Q: Would I be able to find a job in Colorado after passing the Bar (and attending University of South Dakota Law)?

A: depends on where you want to work. As a general rule, yeah. unless the school in unaccredited why wouldn't you be able to?

Maybe because very few people these days can find actual attorney jobs or any jobs at all with the plague of a JD on their resumes...Unless you're talking about working at Arby's - but then again, why would having an unaccredited degree hurt you?

But sure, going to a TTT in a state outside of where you want to practice shouldn't pose any problems in the future. Remember, you clearly want to look to prelaw message boards for important career planning advice.

Heckle and Jeckle Discuss the Florida Legal Market

Heckle: I have said this before, I will say it again, there are only 4 law schools in Florida worth considering, and they are UF, UM, FSU, and Stetson. In the future, I might add FIU, but not at this moment. ["Advising" a student looking at Nova Southeastern.]

Jeckle: Not me i want to work in the public defenders office or da's office so im sure most graduates of those four schools would not want to work in local government for 30-40k a year but i would to get the experience for a few years then open up a office.

I reject the notion that one would not be successful unless they go to the "top four" schools in florda. I have a friend that goes to famu and interns for a lawyer that practices criminal law in orlando and graduated from barry. He makes 250k a year handling violation of probation and other criminal cases.

Good grief! The "top four" schools in Florida? Talk about a meaningless statistic. Florida is like everywhere else. The truly elite firms still prefer T-14 students even if they're not local. U Florida will give you a chance (during good times) if you have top grades, but it certainly isn't going to guarantee you a job.

You've got to be kidding about recommending UMiami and freakin' Stetson, right!? You'd be better off hitting the Magic Kingdom in Orlando and converting your money into Disney dollars than wasting three years at those toilets.

Sadly, apparently "Jeckle" seems to believe that that PD and DA jobs are slam dunks. Actually, students who don't hit the top 10% at the "top four" schools will quickly realize that the big firm jobs aren't going to happen for them and by the time they graduate many of them would kill for stable PD and DA jobs (particularly with the public service loan forgiveness).

Oh, and you know a guy who INTERNS for a guy making $250k/year? Guess what, that's as close as you're going to get to the big bucks as well.

That Was Easy!

Rumors of people not being able to find jobs!!! OH MY GOD NO!!!!!!! So you are saying that if someone goes to law school they may not get a job? I heard that argument before and then I went to talk to the other academic programs at my school since a J.D. doesn't guarantee me anything, but it was the weirdest thing apparently M.B.A's, Clinical Psychologists, and even M.D.'s and basically every other academic program can't guarantee a job. Weird right?

Apparently just getting an education doesn't guarantee you a job. I know it is impossible to get a job handed to you if you go to a tier 4, but I came up with this WILD IDEA and sent my resumes into a few firms and actually showed up for an interview and got hired. I know it's a radical concept that you actually have to try to find a job, but that is the horrors of going to a tier 3 or 4 you have to put in an ounce of effort. As you said these t-14 student's probably didn't accept that they might have to put an ounce of effort in and of actually doing something they just female dog and moaning that nobody is handing them a job. Welcome to real life is all I can say. At the end of the day just saying I go to so and so school doesn't matter. You got to put effort in to succeed in life. Shocking concept for spoiled rich kids I know, but some people actually have to put work in.

[In response to somebody having the gall to complain that getting job with J.D. can be difficult...Perish the thought, I know.]

Oh, so all this time, I just had to send in a resume, get an interview, and show up for the said interview. Well, why didn't somebody tell me?!

Yes, this is great advice, prelaws. Dump a ton of money into a bottom of the barrel degree and just assume that sending in your resume to a few firms will get you interviews and inevitably a job offer.

Definitely ignore the number of students who have mass mailed their resumes to firms to receive nary a response back. Don't pay any attention to the fact that there are virtually no entry level attorney positions listed on most job boards - but plenty of paralegal and legal assistant positions available. Just having determination should be more than enough!

Pearls Next to Swine

No tier 4 is going to fail out half their class or do anything much differently than any other school. Is Touro Harvard not even close! If you go to a tier 4 you won't have people chasing you down for a job, but if you put the work in you will get a job somewhere. You probably won't sit on the Supreme Court or Work in Big law, but if you want to a lawyer then Touro will be fine. You won't be living a jet-setting lifestyle, but not many lawyers do no matter what school they go to.

Well, there's actually a pearl of wisdom in this field full of dung. It's true you'll hardly have access to a life of wealth and ease regardless of which law school you attended. But going to Touro vs. Harvard isn't a question of big law vs. small law. It's a question of big law vs. washing cars and changing addresses several times a year to avoid your creditors.

If you want to be a lawyer, getting a degree from many tier 1 schools isn't enough to secure a serious law job. You're a fool if you think you'll get anywhere with a degree from TTTouro, a TTT among TTT's.

Esq. Never: Brilliant Financial Adviser

I need a financial aid consultant because I need to understand what's the best strategy to maximize my situation and get the best aid. I am working and don't have time to figure this all out and I'm under time pressure to get it done.

Allow me to provide some free assistance. Do you have a pulse? If you answered "yes", whichever school to which you've been accepted will be more than happy to accept your virtually guaranteed Stafford and GradPLUS loans to cover the entire cost of tuition and fees.

But here's the best financial advice I can offer. You have a job. Presumably it pays your bills. Once you graduate law school, landing a decently paying job could very likely no longer be an option. You will also owe money to pay for your worthless degree. Please keep your current job and forget about law school.

There. I just saved you hundreds of thousands of dollars and from the possibility of you throwing yourself in front of a train one day.

Hear No Evil

Well, for starters, anyone with the name "lawschoolblows" is obviously biased. Continuing that thought, anyone who finds their way onto a thread for happily admitted new students who are trying to make friends and get excited for their first year at law school CLEARLY needs something else to do with their lives. Shame on you for your negativity and for giving unsolicited opinions that were clearly not asked for nor socially acceptable in this situation. So I am going to disregard most of the comments "lawschoolblows" just made.

[NB: I did not make the post in question using the moniker "Lawschoolsblows".]

Yes, shame on him for trying to save you from a life of debt and despair. Did you have the same attitude when the police officer visited your high school to warn you about the danger of tanking up and wrapping your car around an oak tree?

Just as the prom season inevitably leads to a bunch of drunken hooligans having their remains scraped off the pavement with a giant spatula, the start of a new law school year also features a flood of these naive 1L twits skipping into career perdition.

Blind Leading the Blind

Q: I am trying to decide between The University of Richmond (sticker) and The University of Baltimore (8K/year if I maitain at least a 3.25). Some things to consider....

I want to got into IP law

I would like to work in the D.C. or Richmond area after graduation

My Parents live in Richmond so I could live at home if I went to U of R.

Richmond being private is ~33k/year, Baltimore would be ~34/year the first year, but ~24K the last 2 years once I get residency.

Richmond is 86th in the Rankings, Baltimoire is a T3 school

A: I did campaign fund raising in Richmond a few years back (over 50% of our donors were attorneys), and while this is somewhat anecdotal, I found Richmond extremely well represented at all of the firms there. I would see Richmond and UVA and not much else at most of the firms. Additionally, the alumni network at Richmond seemed particularly active and engaged. I don't think this completely answers your question and I can't speak to anything about DC, but if you want to practice in Richmond going to school there seems like a good choice.

Let me get this straight. One goober is seriously considering choosing between paying full price at a school that's barely in the second tier and taking a measly 8k scholarship from an abysmal TTT. The other chump is egging him on by guessing that some of the attorneys at some fundraising event went to Richmond (likely years ago)?

I can hardly comment on this. All I can say is that at least con artists like Bernie Madoff had to put some effort into their scams. I mean the law school hucksters can't even say their scam is a challenge. Even shooting fish in a barrel has to be more difficult than relieving law school lemmings of their tuition dollars.

Alumni Connections: The Last Refuge of a Loser

Considering they're all about evenly ranked, yeah, alumni is probably the biggest factor. Fact is that employers tend to hire from their own school, and there are probably more people with AU degrees in DC than with WF or GM. Also, AU has extensive internship/externship opportunities (much more so than GM), so you could network while a student.

However, I think Wake is significantly cheaper than American, both in terms of tuition and CoL. For me personally this would be a huge factor, but you seemed to place the most emphasis on working DC so the "safest" bet among those three is almost certainly American.

If you get to the point where you're banking on alumni to help you get a job, you've already lost. (You're also likely working at a place that requires you to wear a paper hat.)

What if...I Destroy My Life?

I don't think I'd be necessarily unhappy in San Diego, but I know that I'd be happier in San Francisco. And that's where weighing the debt versus the preference comes into play.

Plus, and I didn't mention this, Cal Western has a stipulation put on the scholarship and their curve is pretty tough (they drop the bottom 20% out of their 1L, which probably helps to keep their bar passage rate up with the T1/T2 schools). I'm not sure how to consider this, I know I have the dedication and ability that should keep the scholarship, but there is always the "what if". If I had to pay tuition at Cal Western, and I knew that now, I'd absolutely choose USF.

[Choosing between Cal Western vs. University of U. San Francisco]

"The 'What If?' " [???] If you go to one of these schools, it's really not a question of IF you'll come to hate your station in life; it'll be just be a question of the degree to which you hate it.

ABA - They who are about to die, salute you!
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