Monday, March 1, 2010

Unnecessary Enemies

Over the past year, the number of news articles and blogs that have been published in order to draw into question the wisdom of going to law school has been impressive. The popular legal tabloid, Above the Law, consistently urges people to stay away from law school while at least eight blogs do the same on a daily basis. The National Law Journal, the L.A. Times, and the Wall Street Journal (among other publications) have printed stories or op-eds assailing the ABA and the present law school system.

While much of this coverage has been met with strong support by those who have been wronged by the law school industry (and a number of neutral observers), there has inevitably been a bit of a backlash.

Obviously, this exposure is unwelcome news to those who profit off of the industry, but there has also been some criticism from those who are (at least allegedly) detached from the law school profit machine.

Most of these people are satisfied, practicing attorneys. To them, these attacks are foreign to their own experiences and are offensive to the career that they enjoy.

In some cases, these are just those at the top of the legal food chain taunting us with what amounts to little more than "Nya, Nya, a boo boo! I got a 170+ LSAT score and yooouuu didn't!" In other instances, it's simply the reality-challenged response of some old codger who graduated law school back when he could also go to the county fair and get cotton candy, a soda pop, and ride the Cyclone and still get change back from his nickel.

Admittedly, however, there are a few legitimate voices out there of people who truly enjoy practicing law. They didn't necessarily go to the best schools or get the best grades. Nonetheless, they were able to make it as attorneys and couldn't imagine doing anything else.

While they may not appreciate some of the commentary from the anti-law advocates, I don't think these people should necessarily be opposed to us.

Why? Well, I think most of us would agree that the world needs at least some lawyers. Our criticism is really aimed at how legal training is currently provided.

If anything, the prevailing system makes it more difficult for people who truly want to be lawyers to actually realize their dreams. The heavy debt load and glut of lawyers makes finding reasonable entry level work quite difficult.

What good does it do for anyone (save the law school industry) to throw so many attorneys (many of whom just want a job not a calling) onto the market with such punishing debt loads?

What sense is there in defending a system that doesn't even train budding attorneys as to how they should practice their future craft?

Aren't plenty of potentially good attorneys and caring advocates flushed out of the back of the law school toilet because they weren't able to pull off a top LSAT score or nail straight A's on a bunch of theoretically focused exams that bear little resemblance to the actual practice of law?

Why should those with a passion for the law have to compete with reams less interested graduates who went to law school in search of high starting salaries, stable careers, or versatile degrees - based upon the distorted statistics and information provided by the schools?

I had no business going to law school. Some people do. That's fine, but wouldn't we be better off with a system that taught these people how to be attorneys and didn't try to rope the rest of us into handing over our student loan dollars only to have all of us fighting over the limited number of entry level positions?


  1. Who would ride an airplane if they KNEW the pilot had read about how to fly an airplane, and subsequently received his pilot's license after passing a written exam?

    What if only those pilots who scored the highest scores on their exams were able to fly planes? What if only the pilots who attended the top 5-10 pilot schools in the country had a realistic shot of ever flying planes for a living?

    What if aviation and flight schools charged their students ever-increasing sums of money for a distant chance at working in a shrinking industry? Who would hire such a pilot?

    That is essentially what we have with the legal industry.

  2. Nando,

    You are a moron, but this is probably the dumbest thing I've ever read. That is EXACTLY how non-military flight training works in the United States.

    Sure, pilots do actually "fly" airplanes before they start working, but compared to classroom and simulator time, it amounts to virtually nothing. Most commuter airlines let pilots in with as little as 1000-1500 hours.

    Also, do you have any idea how much non-military flight training costs compared to how little entry level pilots make. Unless you want to spend 5-8 years as a flight instructor first, you are looking at around $75K-80K for a university flight training program ON TOP of the regular tuition.

    Starting salaries? Job prospects? Nepotism is even more rampant in the commercial airline industry that it is in the law. If you are not related, your chances of ever working as a long haul first officer or captain for a major airline are virtually zero.

    Money, again it's like looking in the law industry mirror. Long haul pilots for major carriers do make a lot, around $180k-250K, which is about half what they made before the unpleasantness. However, new pilots working for commuter airlines or small private aviation companies often don't crack $40k, and 90% have no chance of ever breaking into the big leagues.

    Sound familiar? Idiot.

  3. I agree with Anon @ 5:39.

  4. As if there hasn't been enough insult to injury lately. Today, I read in the Chicago Tribune about the latest craze of students paying for summer internships to the tune of around $9,000.00! You say you don't have $9,000.00 for an internship? Well no problem! The University of Dreams (yes that is the actual name, check out their website) will give you a loan that you can pay back at around $284.00 per month! The students featured in the Tribune article even went on to justify paying that amount! University of Dreams even has internships for law students, so step on up! If a law student does 2 summer internships during their 3 years that comes to $18,000.00 on top of the 100K plus in law school debt. My lower tiered alma mater is now at over $113,000 for 3 years, double of what it was ten years ago when I got suckered into attending law school.

  5. Anon @5:39, I disagree with you calling Nando a moron, one it's juvenile, unnecessary and detracts from the legitimacy of your argument. The mere fact that you PROMOTE this type of training shows the level of diligence you view certain trades. As a matter of fact if you watched 60 minutes last week you would've known that this type of training ended in disaster. An American captain (woman) and her husband were in the military. Her husband was deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Contractors had two INEXPERIENCED pilots flying over mountains at an altitude and range they had NO familiarity with. As a matter of fact the experienced pilots never took that route because they knew how dangerous it was. Recordings show the pilots admitting they didn't know what they were doing, they ended up crashing and killing the captain's husband who was in another plane which was piloted correctly. Just because that's how private industry does it does not mean it's the right way to do it.


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