Friday, April 9, 2010

Prelaws Say the Darndest Things!

Remember the movie The Truman Show? I was personally a little disappointed when I watched it and learned that it had little to do with our 33rd President. Nevertheless, it did present a somewhat interesting concept - a guy lives in a manufactured world only to eventually discover everything he thinks he knows about the world is a farce.

Personally, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish I was on the set of the 'Esq. Never' Show. That way I'd eventually be able to open the door and exit to a world where I'm not both massively indebted and pretty much unemployable.

That's right. Ha ha, guys, okay, I fell for the joke...You had your fun...Can I get off the set now?

Of course, I know this isn't true. After all, if my life was a show, it would have been canceled long ago. Somehow I doubt that even the most voyeuristic audience would tune in to watch me type away at my computer, eat Chef Boyardee from the can, and sit in the corner of my room and cry.

Nevertheless, there is a place where you can go where everyone is so detached from reality that they all live in blissful ignorance about the environment around them. In fact, there are a number of these fantasy lands that exist around the web - perhaps you know them better as prelaw message boards.

Two of the most popular of such boards are Law School Discussion and the Top Law Schools Forums On the sets of the Prelaw Show you'll read fantastic statements that claim that some fourth tier dump is "highly respected" in a certain city or that finishing in the middle of the pack at a second tier school is going to guarantee you an $80k salary at a mid-sized firm.

But let's not just stick to generalizations. For your reading pleasure, I bring you the Top 10 Most Amazing Prelaw Quotes on the Internet...that I happened to stumble across during my five minutes of reading over these boards.

(For anyone who thinks that instead of making fun of these prelaws, I should be trying to help them, let me assure you I've already tried to weigh in. Nobody on these boards is willing to listen to reason. If you don't believe me, try it yourself and see just how receptive these folks are to your objections to law school.)

10. So I have to make a decision between the two. I haven't really heard much about either since they are both Tier 4 schools [Valparasio and Nova Southeastern], however, that doesn't mean anything to me. If you know anything about these two schools, please let me know it would be very helpful.

Because you're confused, let me inform you what "Tier 4" means. It means you're going to mortgage your future by handing over an obscene amount of money to some soulless dean in exchange for a piece of paper that couldn't be worth less if it was a page in a kids coloring book.

9. I am currently Waitlisted at Southwestern and I got accepted into TJSL. I am going to put down the deposit for TJSL but Southwestern is my dream.

Martin Luther King's dream was a united brotherhood of man. Your dream is being admitted to a law school that can't even crack the top 100 (which is pretty weak). Too bad once you graduate, you won't wake up from this nightmare.

8. Yea actually I am debating between widener and TJSL, and I am still waiting on southwestern. I happen to have some time to do a lot of researching of places, neighborhoods, apartments etc. so I would suggest you do that. maybe pick out 1 or two apartments you would like for both cities, I am sending in two seat deposits as well to buy myself more time...if you want any more info let me know

Instead of researching neighborhoods and apartments, perhaps you should take some time to research your future job prospects. I guess you can think about that when the law school apologists are denouncing you for not doing your research in three years.

Sending in two deposits is good idea. Choosing whether you want to destroy your life by going to a crappy law school or by going to a really crappy law school is a decision you don't want to rush.

7. Earlier in my cycle (when I was still considering these three [DePaul/Loyola/Kent]) I began talking to people in the Chicago area about this. They all said the three have made good names for themselves in the Chicago area. Obviously it would be harder to obtain "big-law" jobs from these schools as opposed to Northwestern etc. But from what I understood, it is very possible to reach your goals (considering they are realistic) coming from any of them. I would encourage you to visit each school and decide which you fit best with.

Reach your goals? As long as they're realistic? Well, unless your goal is work in some of the finest document review sweat shops in Chicago, I'd stay away from these second tier diploma mills. Oh, and that's assuming the economy improves. If it doesn't, your goals better include relying on state assistance in order to survive.

6. You don't have to go to a school in the DC area to get a job in Washington; nor do you have to go to a T14 or T20. I've had friends who went to TTT-type schools who have scored DOJ and other nice attorney gigs in the federal government.

Unless your friends went to Regent Law during the Bush administration or have some incriminating photos of an attorney general, I'm pretty incredulous. If you go to a TTT because somebody claims he knows somebody who got a decent job in DC, I think you'll find that to be the case as well. Too bad if you wait until you graduate to come to this realization, that lesson is going to come at a high price.

5. The state of Ohio is boring and too far from a beach. Villanova is better than PSU in Philly. Philadelphia is a world class city and is an amazing place to live. Nova has a great rep in the city and grads do well in the Philly market. Which is a huge market. Go to nova u will like the mainline area and Philly is fun and a change of pace from Cali. It's a great catholic school with a beautiful campus.

Like, man, you totally need to go to law school near the beach, dude! Plus, the amount of fun you have in law school is totally going to determine your job prospects afterward!

Clearly sage advice.

4. Are you serious? I go to a tier 4 and know plenty of people doing well for themselves, someone even agreed to pay me pretty well this summer. I don't know if you are even in law school or not, but either way what you are saying is B.S. [In response to one compassionate soul telling the lemmings not to jump off the cliff.]

You got a summer job? Wow! Actually, that is kind of impressive. Nevertheless, those $10 you're making per hour aren't going to be much consolation when you can't find a job paying more than $40k as an attorney (if you're lucky).

You're right, though. Why wouldn't anyone pay sticker at a fourth tier school? I mean just because tier 1 students are struggling to find jobs doesn't mean that the lower half of law schools are going to be a risky investment.

Oh wait...this can't be a serious post. Thanks for checking in, Dean Matasar - you almost got me!

3. I just got accepted into Seton Hall but via the LEO summer program, does anyone have any information on this program, or attending this fall?

I think Nando has some advice. You couldn't even get into Seton Hall through the general admission process? Game over, man. Game over.

2. I'm officially a class of 2013 Brooklyn Law student!

I just got off the phone with Miss Cleo, and she predicts you're going to be considerably less excited in 2013.

1. I have a low LSAT Score (143) and I was admitted into the Summer Conditional (AAMPLE) Program through Florida Coastal. Can anyone give me their opinions on this program.

Res ipsa loquitur

Notice how nobody on these boards (not limited just to the above quotes) announces that they want to work in document review, or do cut and paste work for $40k for a personal injury firm, or end up in an entry level position unrelated to the law. Compare that to the number of graduates (even pre-recession) who ended up in such positions.

Oh, but it won't be you, my prelaw friend. No, your second tier diploma is special. There's something about your 45 percentile class rank at a TTT that sets you apart. Your lower ranked first tier has something magical about it just because it's placed in the top 50 even though it's surrounded by five similarly ranked schools in its region.

That's right. You're exceptional, and I'll look forward to reading your exceptional anti-law school blog in three years.


  1. >>I'll look forward to reading
    >>your exceptional anti-law school
    >>blog in three years.

    Haha, great closing argument.

  2. I rarely bother to read these boards. I have never posted on those forums, either. I have seen others try to use reason, statistics, their personal experience and other emprical evidence as to why law school is a poor decision - and the lemmings respond by attacking those people.

    There are plenty of scam-blogs and sites such as Tom the Temp out there. If these kids are impervious to reason - and respond with bile to the facts - they deserve what they get. (At least, we will have some more scam-blogs to peruse in the future.)

    A co-worker took the LSAT a few months ago. He is in his early 30s, married and has kids. He avoids me, after I gently tried to tell him about the realities of the marketplace. He will likely end up making LESS than what he does now.

    Another co-worker is jazzed about going for a (worthless) humanities PhD in Anthro from a pedestrian school. People believe whatever the hell they want to believe, I suppose.

    I have been able to talk a few out of going to law school, but those people tended to be those who were on the fence, to begin with. Those who look at law school primarily as a financial decision are also a little easier to persuade to forget law school.

  3. Do you think the lower tiered law schools grossly inflate the number of student applications received? It might make the rube (I mean accepted law student) feel like they really accomplished something by being accepted and be more willing to spend, spend, spend on tuition. After all, law schools reporting of graduate employment statistics are dubious at best.

  4. Well done, Esq. Never. I've found that trying to talk to an OL with a low LSAT score and TTT stars in their eyes out of law school is like trying to get a cupcake out of a fat person's hands. Not going to happen.

  5. Geez, these students can't even make the top 100 law schools and have such horrible scores...usually when people are insulting us it's because they say we are these types of students. But these are actually those types of students.

    For most of us with a 165+ LSAT and a top 50 law school, we consider our schools TTTs if they're out of the T14, with few exceptions. Maybe 20 years ago this wasn't true, but currently it is. It is much more competitive now and stats that would get you into a T14 years ago now will get you into a TTT and give you poor job prospects.

    Now you really need at least a 170 to get into the bottom of the T14 (Georgetown) and anything lower than that your chances are pretty poor. These pre-laws here, they really shouldn't even have a chance at law school.

  6. DupednontraditionalApril 9, 2010 at 11:58 AM

    You ever notice how all the reasons to go to the TTTT of your choice are all hearsay? I say this in all humility, of course, given my TTTT experience as well. But when faced with the prospect of "I am not able to go to a T14 with well-established connections in tow," the response tends to be "Oh, but so-and-so TTTT graduate said Person X and Person Y would hire them", or "All that matters is what Z community says about the school" or "The school is highly ranked by whositwhatsit publication."

    Or better yet, "Career Services says that their graduates report statistics that translate to 94% of their graduates are in $80k median jobs, with a range from $35k to $260k."

    I'm sure some lemming can find an academic footnoted exception in the FRE comments to my use of the hearsay rule. That just demonstrates how "bought in" they already are.

  7. I think our entire society is like the Truman Show if you are either happily employed at a secure middle class job and have never been unemployed or if you are a naive student. Many Americans still believe blue sky, benevolent universe notions that may have held true in the Sixties and Seventies but which are very outdated today.

    I wonder how many of the posters at those forums will become future scambloggers. Those forums should include special forums for forum veterans who graduated from law school so that they can tell these naive kids the truth.

    Perhaps one of us will conduct a study of these forums to find out why these people are still so eager to go to law school in spite of the evidence that it's a bad deal. In the ABA article comments smug lawyers argue that people need to do their due diligence, and we argue that the prelaws are being misled by bogus statistics, and I would argue that they have all been indoctrinated since Kindergarten.

  8. 10:02 brings up a good point, and I've suspected this all along. The lower tiered law schools give the appearance that we were all part of some competitive, selective process and that we've made the cut, so better things should await us! I should have known; I should have known!!

  9. Glad to see you still put stock in the US News rankings. Must be nice not having an Ivy League debt payment.

  10. Right, the 2TT debt payment is so much more liberating. Man, even when it comes to misery, you Ivy Leaguers are competitive.

  11. Great roundup, Esq. I never visit these pre-law boards because the kids there are absolutely clueless. There is no point in arguing with them because most will only understand our situation when they experience it themselves in three years.

  12. Regarding bullet number 1. I was a conditional student at The John Marshall Law School 13 years ago. The reason they do this is to fill their enrollments for the new year, because they don't re receive enough applicants with higher LSAT scores since those students can go to a better school. Interestingly, out of the 50 of us who went through the program, only one graduated at the cum laude level. JMLS, of course knows that most entering the conditional program will not graduate in the top 10%, but they make you think you can, and have no problem taking your money in the process. Back then it was $4000.00 for the 7 week program, and if you didn't get a C or better in both the classes, then too bad, they kept your money and sent you on your way.

    My advice to anyone who gets invited to a conditional program is stay away. Take the LSAT again, and don't apply to any law school unless you get at least a 165-170 on the LSAT. Oh, and by the way, the LSAT has absolutely nothing to do with the law!

  13. I respectfully urge you to make this a recurring feature. It is nice to put all of these quotes in one place, for people who are looking in the future.

    I feel profoundly sad about these young people who think their dreams are about to come true. It will be a bitter pill to swallow when they graduate with a mountain of debt and realize that all of these warnings were true.


    A lawyer walks into a bar.

  15. Hard to fight that post-undergrad, mid-20s to early 30s malaise - "This sucks, there has to be something better. Ok, more education, lawyer prestige, looks exciting, more money."

    I believe the law firm model will quickly die. It is a rare model where every dollar paid to an associate come out of a partners pocket. I've heard a partner mention that "you cost me . . . " In order for young associates to survive, they will probably shift to gov't or in-house positions, and need to work night and weekend jobs.

    The normal Joe can't afford $250 to $400/hour and frankly, doesn't see the value of the services.

  16. A quote from a TLS thread re: student loans

    "I agree its a huge debt that may be difficult to pay off. However, I cant imagine attys making $500k+ even think about their student loans from LS. It may take a while to get to that point but its not impossible. I know attys who make over $1 mil. However, the field you go into is of HUGE importance."

  17. Heh. That's priceless...The level of delusion there is mind-boggling. There was another poster who wanted to know if he/she could realistically expect to get into Biglaw with a 2.9 from a second-tier school. Not because he/she was so interested in Biglaw but because "it would be really nice to make $100,000 a year." One kindly poster gave him/her the straight facts about Biglaw hiring, but then some other buttinsky cut in to say that he/she could always lateral into Biglaw after working in some mid-sized firm for a couple of years. Oy.

    The level of smug self-delusion among these prelaws is immense. On what board dedicated to "where should I go to LS?", one brave, honest, and self-sacrificing soul posted a heartfelt plea to say "NOWHERE" to that question, with a good explanation of why. Only to be met with derision, bile, and "it'll be different for me! I know someone friend's dad dean told us...bla bla bla."

    It's really sad. When I was thinking about LS years ago, it took only one session of straight-talking from an experienced, successful attorney to give me the goods...enough to scare me away from the idea forever and thank my lucky stars (and that lawyer's honesty) that I got away clean.

    But these kids don't seem to want to listen, to people who have been to the schools they're considering, to lawyers who try to tell them about reality, to people like me who work in a law-related field and see news about the horrors of the lawyer job market every day. They know better! With no experience, no real knowledge, and no desire to do any research, they know better! Ah, youth.

  18. I think it's interesting that everyone assumes the pro-law-school forum posters are genuine. Law schools pay a LOT of money for marketing, and it's pretty common practice to provide forum posts about your product. At best, arguing with these people runs up the fees for the marketing company, at worst, it gives them more info to spew bogus profit-protecting "arguments" into the blogosphere.

    Further evidence for my theory is that if you google "law school admission" or "get into law school," or even "law school loans," you get pages and pages and pages of pro-law school propoganda. You actually have to google "law school scam" to find the scambloggers. Even "law school debt" returns mostly pro-law school information, with a few stern warnings to profligate law students "to take steps to minimize debt loads," as if there are so many options to keep your debt low when your school charges $42,000 a year.

    So yes, the scambloggers are out there on the web now. But I think the law school propogandists are out there too, and they're better funded.

  19. Interesting point, Liz. It could well be. Lots of organizations do this, why not the law school cartel?

  20. I wanted to do doc review actually. The rate was $35/hr and a few years ago the gigs were probably pretty easy to land. Now they've dropped to maybe $20 and are very difficult to break into and there aren't too many projects to begin with.

    Yeah I have no ambition. But with OT, $35/hr could get you near 6 figures, to at least about $70k a year or so if you're constantly working in straight time. A few years of that to pay off a part of the loans and then use the rest as capital for startup, not in law, but in some other business, or to use for investment purposes, and you'd be doing fairly well for yourselves by your mid-30s. Unfortunately, it didn't work out even for that for me.


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