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‘Lapsed Lawyer’ Who Warned Against Law School Says JD Opened and Closed Doors

Jan 2, 2013, 07:00 am CDT

Comments

Humorous and a good cautionary tale.  I see not much has changed about the myth of a flexible juris doctorate in the past score.  Those who have not experienced higher education tend to put too much stock in the institution.  Think Peter Jennings.  Those of us who have, know better. 

I’m also amused by Griffin’s speculation that three years of imprisonment may have value tantamount to legal education

By Bamir on 2013 01 02, 7:53 am CDT

I don’t think he actually “ended up” in legal publishing, given the two jobs for non-profits since.  You can do very well serving a non-profit.  I do find it refreshing that some grads will still admit they essentially went to law school to put off growing up.  Of course the price tag for that today is getting fairly steep.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 02, 8:23 am CDT

“I think people like me are destined to screw up in their 20s. And then figure everything out, absolutely everything, in their 30s.”

He has the first part right.  Hopefully, there will come an end to the time when every casual empiricist, generalizing from his own experience, stops spouting cautionary tales about life.  The internet makes one nostalgic for the day when there were substantial barriers to “publication.”

By Pushkin on 2013 01 02, 8:30 am CDT

I always enjoy seeing the legal market apologists come out in droves to shout “ALL IS WELL!” Next up, “thank you, sir, may I have another?”

By Patriot on 2013 01 02, 9:58 am CDT

Specialized knowledge is always useful.  People have strong opinions about lawyers, but whether you like them or not doesn’t matter - if you NEED people with this sort of educational background and skillset, you’ll hire them. 

The real problem with law school is that it is a very expensive way to learn how to think and write critically - and law school wastes a whole lot of time with silly courses that are fun, but not helpful building your skillset.  I’d be a better lawyer today if I had a chance to draft and negotiate licenses in law school rather than learning all about poet-lawyer Wallace Stevens, or the ins and outs of being a lawyer turned legal fiction writer like Scott Turow. 


I’ve told my son to spend his money on an MBA.  That is specialized experience I think delivers far more bang for the buck.

By Kay on 2013 01 04, 12:21 pm CDT

I disagree that law school is an impediment to various career paths.  I knew I didn’t want to be a lawyer, but wanted law school - the purest form of school out there, at least in the old school model.  I loved the experience, and built other options in the process.  If you assert yourself, you can do a lot more cross-training in law school than you think.  As for prospective employers thinking an applicant is ‘... possibly unstable, a malcontent or a loser…’ has more to do, I think, with the applicant and his/her presentation, not with the JD on the resume.  In one of my post-law school gigs I was a hiring official…

By Pmint on 2013 01 04, 12:48 pm CDT

Perhaps Mr. Griffin assigns a little too much animosity by prospecitve employers to being a lawyer instead of to being a Harvard graduate.

That or perhaps his personality is at issue as well.  The quote “I think people like me are destined to screw up in their 20s. And then figure everything out, absolutely everything, in their 30s” stands out as potential prima facie evidence this guy is a bit full of himself which might just generate negativity in potential employers.

I am going to chalk this up to making a point without having a point.

By Jasper on 2013 01 04, 1:12 pm CDT

I’m with Jasper on this one. I’m disappointed that I wasted my time on this “article.” One guy is defining the world for the rest of us “lapsed” lawyers?

By Tracy TC on 2013 01 04, 1:47 pm CDT

“unstable, a malcontent or a loser” - is that all?

By Wortmanberg on 2013 01 04, 2:08 pm CDT

Griffin has a point but overstates his case.  Like him, I didn’t know what I was doing when I went to law school, and bounced around a lot in my 20s and 30s; although I never left law completely, I did send out resumes to nonlaw jobs here and there.  I certainly agree that a law degree, alone, isn’t a huge advantage in most fields.  For example, its a lot easier for me to get a job in law teaching than in undergraduate teaching, since colleges generally do not view a J.D. as equivalent to a Ph.D. 

On the other hand, I have seen no evidence (based on my own personal experience which of course may not be representative) that any employer views a law degree as a negative.  At worst, its just irrelevant to most jobs.

One qualification: even though the law degree alone won’t get you much attention outside law, if your practice experience gave you skills that are relevant to other jobs that really helps.  I’m not sure litigation experience is particularly transferable, but I have known tax and transactional lawyers whose skills got them into financial planning etc.

By Michael Lewyn on 2013 01 04, 2:35 pm CDT

@5 - A Mostly BS Accolade? Seriously, JD’s may not be worth what they once were, but an MBA is little better.* Perhaps what MBA programs do best is inform (or maybe they don’t have to inform) prospective students that succeeding in business is hard; the main apparent criticism of law schools is they don’t.

@1 - Right on.

* http://management.fortune.cnn.com/2011/11/18/mba-costs-soar-salaries-not-so-much/

By Jeff on 2013 01 04, 2:36 pm CDT

@ 11. Agreed.  I have both degrees. I earned the JD first, but business associates told me I needed the MBA to think like more they do. I later found that meant learning to have no ethics, or even the bare bones ethical rules lawyers are subject to. We were taught that businesses first must make profits, and only then be concerned with following the law. (See: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/content_images/fig/2680050304001.png).

TO UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS: do NOT seek an MBA unless you already have full time professional work experience (e.g. as an engineer). I graduated with the MBA in 2010, and most of my classmates could not find paid jobs. The exceptions were the ones such as myself who already had work experience, and those of us who did mostly ended up doing the same type of work we did before the MBA. We were lucky; we were the last class with relatively cheap tuition, so the financial pain level was fairly light.

TO EVERYONE ELSE: I would not have gone for the MBA at current tuition rates. Unless your employer pays for the degree, or you have really good, specific reason for going, perhaps you should not go.

SOLUTION? We do need a better alternative for new college college graduates. Perhaps a 4 year, low cost law program where students study half-time, then work in clinics full-time (as paralegals for the first 2 years) to cover expenses might fit the bill if the ABA would allow it.

By JD + MBA on 2013 01 04, 8:50 pm CDT

$10 (ten U.S. dollars) an hour is what was I offered by a consulting firm to provide their clients guidance on entity formation, licensing, and certification. Ten dollars. I honestly made more money mowing lawns as a teenager. I honestly made more money at UPS during high school.


If a guidance counselor at any law school, Harvard or otherwise, tells you that a J.D. opens a wide-range of opportunities, immediately get up and run. It is not an M.B.A., where you study finance, marketing, accounting, management, develop leadership skills, etc. and then pick and choose if you want to work in consulting or at PepsiCo’s marketing department.


And these guidance counselors are not financial advisors. Any good financial advisor would warn you to not attend law school. Those employment and salary figures are completely bogus.


I am more scared today about housing, income, economic security than 2010. It is worse out there for newer attorneys and graduates than even a few years ago. I almost cannot believe how much of an awful financial decision law school is. It is completely shocking.


IF YOU READ NOTHING ELSE, READ THIS: They will NOT hire you in non-legal positions for the most part. More so today than ever before.

By $10 Dollars An Hour on 2013 01 05, 3:39 am CDT

JD + MBA combo is odd to ME. My MBA program for two years focused on taking what I was learning and immediately applying it in my current career. It was very practically oriented. It is probably why I am so critical of law school in terms of how there really is no skill development other than legal research and writing. M

Employer Paid. I also agree that you should not go to business school or law school unless your employer pays for it, generally speaking. You should have at least 1 to 2 years of work experience before entering into an MBA program.

As to J.D., do not even THINK of law school, unless:
1) You are wealthy to the extent that you can pay for your J.D. yourself and have sufficient resources to weather years of unemployment and underemployment after graduation; or
2) Have a job guaranteed after graduation at a relative’s law firm.

It is really sad to see such smart young people completely piss away their intelligent and talent during three years of law school that will ultimately leave them worse off financially.

By @ 12 I Agree on 2013 01 05, 3:44 am CDT

I have an MBA and a JD (and Esq.): got the MBA first and two years later went for a JD at a Top School

MBA

1) If you get into a Top 12 Business School (per US News & World Report)—AND you want to be an Investment Banker then go.  The best programs for that—in order of importance—are Wharton, Chicago, and NYU Stern [of course if you get into Stanford or Harvard, you’ve got a shot at Wall Street].  Of course you can go into Managament Consulting from a Top 12 school, but you will grow weary of travel, be tough to date, and likely get cheated on by your “significant other.”  Investment Banking is THE ONLY GOAL when it comes to an MBA if you ask me.

2) You can go to lesser schools—but do so ONLY if your company pays for it and you have experience.  Usually, an Executive MBA is offered and will be the one paid for. 

If 1 or 2 are not you, then DON’T GO to B-school.  If you want to open your own business, then JUST GO DO IT.  Most people I know that own homes in California—don’t have advanced degrees!  And they’re in sales…..

Now you can buck the system aforementioned, but you’re taking a huge risk.  But NOTHING like the risk of going to law school.

JD

DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL unless you want to be a practicing attorney (or are rich).  ALSO, DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL UNLESS YOU GET INTO A TOP 20 School AND your LSAT is 160—preferably 165—or above.  First, if you go to a school OUTSIDE of the Top 20, there’s a 99% chance you’re NOT going to get a job to even BEGIN to get experience—YET you have 100 to 200K worth of debt.

If your LSAT is not north of 160, odds are you’re not smart enough to pass the bar THE FIRST TIME—and maybe never….  Remember, you have to pass the bar within a reasonable amount of time (i.e., no later than the 2nd try) to make your investment make sense and for whomever it is you’re staying with while you’re trying to NOT get sick of you and throw you out. Regarding the California bar, you best not even dream of going to law school unless your LSAT is 165 or better.  While it is true that the “bar is a marathon,” those performance exams have more to do with mental ability and the speed with which you assimilate information.  In other words, no dummies allowed.  However, if you’re SMART BUT LAZY don’t even dream of going to law school.  I know two people with LSATs north of 170 but have failed the bar multiple times because they can’t bring themselves to study for the 8 to 16 hours per day required.

Anyway, a JD who also goes on to pass the bar—and practice civil litigation—is in a superior position.  This is because if you’re a lawyer you can always go into business for yourself and tell your boss to “go jump in the lake,” but an MBA cannot do that (especially if you work at a bank).  Also, transactional lawyers that work at a firm representing General Motors can’t just pick up and leave.  Being a lawyer is A SKILL if you can get it.

Finally, remember, you can take on ANY CLIENT if you have the time to learn the skill in time, or you can associate with someone who knows what they’re doing.  My advice: take a guy to lunch—pay for it—and kiss his/her butt for awhile in order to become a “mentee.”

Anyway, regarding the article at hand, most people are jealous and insecure with themseleves, so it doesn’t surprise me that one would “have trouble” utilizing a JD for non-law jobs.  Besides, getting a JD without wanting to practice law is like “WHY!!!”  The only guy I knew that did that was an MD/practicing Radiologist making 300K+

CONCLUSION

Remember, we’re “playing the odds here.”  You wouldn’t even go to Vegas and bet 200K and it only took 30 seconds to blow it, so why would you go to a BS law or business school that ALSO takes years to get—for nothing (or might as well be for nothing).  How many years of profit after paying your bills will it take “just to break even” from a law or business school investment—plue lost opportunity income?

If you can save 12K a year—and I doubt you can—it would take you DECADES just to break even!!

By Advantage: Top School on 2013 01 05, 4:52 am CDT

The alleged 99% unemployment outside grads of top twenty schools is just silly.  For an alleged “MBA,” you sure don’t have much ability analyzing numbers and statistics.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 05, 9:19 am CDT

I always enjoy the witty and entertaining comments following each article. A consistent theme regardless of the article topic is that the end of the world is near w/r/t the benefits of a law degree. Many generalizations are made above about the benefits and pitfalls, so on and so forth. Flip to any given thread and you’ll read the same, tired commentary. But I think there is an important aspect of a legal education and its resulting benefits that rarely enters the debate: the burden of the student to assess the market and make smart decisions. Along the lines of #5 above, law is highly specialized today. Like many professions. Merely graduating with a JD regardless of your school’s tier, etc. is extremely irresponsibile. I cannot count the number of interviews I’ve given to potential associates who have no discernible skill or interest beyond once being a sorority rush chair and that you organized a sweater donation drive. But they have a JD - isn’t that good enough? In this highly specialized market, and assuming your goal is to get a job, you should be able to convince a hiring partner that you are prepared. And by prepared I mean be able to demonstrate that you have researched the market, selected a specialty/niche, and your resume reflects that you are all in a la’ course selection, pro bono and professional experiences, memberships, you name it. Yes, it’s a gamble, but in my opinion it’s a gamble with much better odds. Of course there are exceptions (#3 in your class at Tier 1), but in the end there’s always space for a person who gets it.

By The Sky is Not Falling on 2013 01 05, 9:50 am CDT

Truly there is an overabundance of mooncalves who drifted through in the bottom half of their class, while living it up on loans.  They are indeed always to be found crying on multiple sites over their law schools’ failure to have wealthy clients meet them at the outer gates with high paying jobs and bags of gold and precious gems.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 05, 9:55 am CDT

We did a post on this subject on the Nutmeg Lawyer Legal Blog called “There’s No Crying in Law Practice.”  www.thenutmeglawyer.com   When we originally published our take on the subject, the response was overwhelming from readers.  It even led to a few threats towards yours truly.  They included fond wishes that I lose my job, wistful dreams that I get my tie caught in a paper shredder and forlorn prayers that I choke on a Skittle.  An advanced degree does not guarantee you a house with a white picket fence with a Mercedes in the driveway.  Still, if you think your chances stink with a law degree, they are far worse without one.

By There is no crying in law practice. on 2013 01 05, 10:39 am CDT

In one of the last few paper versions of The Journal, I noticed a law professor had written in to point out that the BLS numbers (so often used by the mooncalves to posit the existence of millions of unemployed lawyers) actually show a much lower level of unemployment in the legal services sector than in the economy at large.  So, when one uses statistics consistently (rather than the apples and oranges approach of the mooncalves), the point made in No. 19’s ultimate sentence appears to be very sound.  Statistically, there is better chance of employment in law than in a vast array of other fields.  (So, this is a further confirmation that the fault lies not in the mooncalves’ stars).

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 05, 4:51 pm CDT

@ “Head in the Clouds” B. McLeod—there you go “pettifogging” again.  ha ha I like you though.  You’re PROBABLY right about the 99% [but I’m STILL better at math than you…].  But don’t let that 99% remark detract from the cornucopia of wisdom that imbues my remarks.  :)

Anyway, my remarks pertain to the PROBABILITY of getting a job that will pay you enough to JUSTIFY going to law school if you go to a school outside of the Top 20 (i.e., have a few thousand per month left over after ALL of your bills are paid).  ANd as you know, no one can ACTUALLY ever know the true number, but my surmise is that it’s somewhere between 50 and 99%.  Remember, when you’re talking about incurring circa 150K of debt, spending three to four years of your life, and lost opportunity income costs (if one had a job prior to law school), for God’s sake—you want better than a “fifty-fifty” chance of that fancy house with Mercedes S-Class in the driveway….

Sure there are no guarantees in life but going to all but the the Top 15 or 20 schools is now actually FOOLISH!!!  You’d be better off borrowing 150K and going to Vegas and “placing it on red,” instead of spending 3 to 4 years of your life to learn that your a loser and a fool….  LOOL

By Advantage: Top School on 2013 01 05, 5:59 pm CDT

Please note that the standard roulette wheel begins with “0” (in green, hence, neither red nor black), then the numbers 1 through 36, out of sequential order and alternating red and black.  Hence, the chance of making a successful play with $150K on “red” is 18/37, or roughly 48.65%.

So, that is actually not better than the 50-99% chance you ballpark for law school.  (I know, it’s the math again).

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 05, 7:17 pm CDT

Hey Cumulonimbus—I mean McCloud—you’re making my argument, for the most part.  I originally said there was a 99% chance a law student would NOT get a job if they don’t got to a Top 20 school.  Thus, the chance of a “successful play,” then, would be 1%.  And with my revision of 50% to 99% the odds of success at getting a job going to a non-Top 20 law school is at best 50%. 

So MOST of the time (i.e., the odds of NOT getting a job being from 50% up to and including 99%), I—not you—would be correct; thus, law school would be ONLY be better than playing roulette (using your numbers) when the odds of NOT getting a law job are 50% and 51% [i.e., success = 50%, 49%, respectively: each greater than your 48.65% calculation.  At 52% on up it’s then it’s better to gamble!  ha ha].

Voila!  Math + logic = The GMAT.

By Advantage: Top School on 2013 01 05, 10:17 pm CDT

Of course, you ignore the BLS numbers that show 1.5% unemployment in the legal field, versus the much higher general unemployment level in the country.

Also, your analogy to simple games of probability misses the point that a law student need not be simply adrift without navigation.  Each one can, in fact, take into account his or her relative intelligence, and can actively prepare for law school and actively make choices (and control study habits) in ways that may substantially influence outcomes.  So, some of them will always have a much better chance than at the roulette wheel (where the greater odds are always on simply losing money to the house).  On the other hand, the drifting mooncalves who think they can simply float through to a statistical outcome suggested by the US News stats for their school are likely to come out poorly.  I would tend to agree with you that those particular candidates should consider the play on “red”.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 05, 11:16 pm CDT

Good points.  OK Mr. McLeod.  See you on another comments-section in the future.  Keep “fighting the good fight.”

Best personal regards,

Big Red

P.S.  An owner of a boutique investment bank once told me:  “At the end of the day, I’m a shoe salesman.”  Touche!

By Advantage: Top School on 2013 01 06, 12:22 am CDT

How can “a Harvard law graduate who is now at the MacArthur Foundation, serving as program officer for juvenile justice in U.S. programs,” seriously suggest that a law degree was an impediment of any form, and not a valuable asset in securing such a law-related position?

Saying that his law degree “opened doors and closed doors” sounds like protesting too much, to me.

Michael A. Olivas
Houston, TX and Santa Fe, NM

By Michael A. Olivas on 2013 01 07, 5:52 pm CDT

@Advantage: Top School:  For the record, the viability of law as a career depends on where you are in the nation.  While employment prospects stink in my midwestern state, my classmates are gradually finding jobs.  Oh, and none of us graduated from a top 20 school because there aren’t any within several states of us.  Before you go shooting your mouth off, please realize that you are not the all-knowing arbiter of the world.

Also: many of us went to law school because we wanted to practice law, and the large majority of my classmates knew it wasn’t a get-rich-quick proposition.  Over our lifetimes we would have a fulfilling career, and eventually we would gain the earning power to pay off our loans.  For right now, though, we’re using income based repayment to keep our heads above water while we learn our profession.

Maybe your problem is that you’ve spent too much time around graduates of the top 20 schools.  While I agree that a lot of people go to lawschool without fully understanding the ramifications (And these suits about employment stats are ridiculous), I would NOT agree that law school is automatically a bad deal for anyone who doesn’t get it paid for by an employer.

Oh, and I disagree that anyone who doesn’t get 160 or higher on the LSAT can’t pass the bar.  Thousands of people do every year.

By RecentGrad on 2013 01 07, 5:52 pm CDT

Don’t worry recent @27.

In a few years, you’ll know your way around, be an alcoholic with a bottle in you desk just to help you through the day, and you’ll get divorce papers dropped on your desk because “you’re not around anyway”.

I look forward to your newfound insight after a while in the real world.

By associate on 2013 01 08, 1:21 am CDT

@ RecentGrad - Hey man “what it isn’t”?  lol

My comments are aimed at the guy/gal who is THINKING about APPLYING to law school and wants to know if it’s a “good idea.”  I could care less about your Panglossian views.  I’m not sure you realize the risks that inheres in what you’re saying, so let me break it down for YOU.

So in the year 2013 a prospective law school APPLICANT for the fall class of 2013 or 2014—who can only get into a 2nd or 3rd tier law school (per US News rankings)—which is MOST LAW APPLICANTS—is somehow supposed to become a soothsayer and FORECAST where the legal market will be HOT in the years 2016 or 2017?  If you go to a school that’s outside the Top 20, you REALLY SHOULD go to a school in the city/state (preferably the city) where you want to live.  What if where you want to live is NOT where the jobs are CURRENTLY?  Unless you want to live in the New York City area or Los Angeles, you WON’T be able to forecast “what’s hot” 3 or 4 years in advance.  So your suggestion of going where it’s hot not possible to do—in advance.

And guess what—California has THE TOUGHEST BAR EXAM in the country, and New York is #2!  I once heard that the US Dept. of Labor did a study and said that the California Bar is THE HARDEST EXAMINATION IN THE WORLD (including Medical Boards exams, other countries, etc.). 

So if the prospective law applicant with a 150 or 155 LSAT were wise (or as you will see UNWISE), they’d mozy on out here to California or New York and go to law school out here because this is where the jobs will be—at least the kind that can pay the toll on 150K in student loan debt. That means some school in California area (i.e., Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, San Diego) or New York area (i.e., Manhattan or Northern New Jersey [i.e., Seton Hall]). 

But the only problem is EVERYBODY wants to move to such places because of the nightlife and jobs—and these folks went to Top 20 schools.  And guess what, nowadays the 2nd and 3rd tier students won’t get jobs unless it’s for 30K or at a government agency.  I’m not trying to say there aren’t exceptions, but you don’t want to do all the crap it takes—and spend all the money it takes—to POSSIBLY become a lawyer with an eye towards being some doggone 1 or 2% chance exception!

And for the record, I never said don’t go to LAW school unless the employer pays for it—I said that about business school.  Misread a paragraph like that on the bar exam and you’re toast.

I remain omniscient.

P.S. That stated, THERE IS something to say about the fact that if one NEVER BECOMES a licensed practicing attorney, then just what else would you be doing?  Arguably, then—you’ve got no shot at the big bucks UNLESS you go into investment banking or open a SUCCESSFUL business, which are each very hard to do.  Thus, maybe that 150K of debt—which can be extended and amended giving you years to get a job and make things happen—or otherwise learn the law before the “debt man cometh.”  Admittedly, I don’t think I would have ever had $100,000 in the bank by mid-February, as I did one year.  But then again, then I learned just what the word TAXES means, and then I learned that “all that glitters ain’t gold—OR YOURS….  That’s Obama’s money!!  LOOOL

[don’t even get me started on all that “fair share” stuff when such should ONLY apply when two people are making THE EXACT SAME INCOME because a rich guy can cogently argue that he pays 50 times more in sheer amount than the “regular guy”—so why don’t YOU pay your “fair share/amount—we’re both just humans with the same appendages”...but I digress.]

By Advantage: Top School on 2013 01 08, 4:55 am CDT

The persistent rumor is that the jobs are in Nebraska.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 08, 8:28 am CDT

Or, any other rectangular state.  Advantage: Top School, can I assume you’re from one of the coasts or Chicago?  Why in God’s green earth someone wanting to practice in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, etc. would need a top 20 law school education is beyond me.  Here’s my tip.  Save the money and go to a state school in the state where you want to practice.  Graduate at the top of the class and you won’t have any problems getting a big law job in your state.  “Big” law firms in midwest cities often hire top grads from regional schools (Think MU, KU, Iowa, etc.).  If you don’t graduate at the top of your class, jobs at a mid-sized firm are an option.  So are government jobs.  There are plenty of opportunities out here if one wants them.  And you don’t have to go into six-figure debt to make it happen.  As an aside, please cite your source for speculating odds are against someone with an LSAT south of 160 passing the bar.  Considering the bar passage rate in my state is fairly high, I find your contention a difficult one to believe (I think the median LSAT scores at our two law schools (both state institutions) are around the 160 mark, but I haven’t looked that up in a few years.)

By KS Attorney on 2013 01 08, 10:54 am CDT

@KS Attorney - thanks for backing me up ;)  I’m in a midwestern state as well, and most of the people I went to law school with didn’t have a 160 on their LSAT.  I didn’t.  But I’m Order of the Coif, 8th in my class, and a working attorney.  That last part is the part I really love.

Oh, and by the way, Advantage: Top School.  When my Mock Trial team went out to Boston last year, we took first and second place in our regional, ahead of alllllll the east coast schools that were out there.  And boy, were they pissed.

Good lawyering happens all over the country, and some of my friends who weren’t even top half of the class are going to be better lawyers than some of the people in the top ten with me because 1) their heads aren’t too big for the rest of them and 2) they work damn hard.

By RecentGrad on 2013 01 08, 11:49 am CDT

@ Recent Grad and KS Attorney - all good points and valid commentary.  But REMEMBER, I’m just talking about the kind of advice that you would give somebody off the street who was contemplating applying to law school so as to 1) pass the bar on the first or second time [most firms will fire you if you don’t pass on the 2nd try].

I think we’re getting to the bottom of things here so as to help a prospective applicant ascertain the risks involved in going to law school.

1) If you go to a non-top 20 school, you’d better be prepared to come out in the top 10 or 20% of your class.

2) If you’re prepared to practice law OUTSIDE of California or New York, then you’d better KNOW that you need to come out in the top 10 or 20% of your class.  That’s pretty hard to do no matter WHERE you go to school (so kudos to you).  I heard of a 2nd tier school that won’t even invite you to on-campus interviews unless you’re in the Top 20% of your class.  Imagine if you’re one of those in the “bottom” 80% and you’re basically EXCLUDED from the good life (or it’s made way more difficult) even when you’re just a 2L !!!

3) Regardless of where you live, if you score less than 160 on the LSAT, then you shouldn’t take the bar in New York or California—the exams are too hard—and you’re LIKELY not going to pass even by the 2nd try.  Remember, we’re playing the odds here.  In light of the above discussion, it follows that you shouldn’t attend law school in New York or California either (i.e., the biggest legal markets in the nation).  BECAUSE, you’re probably only going to get into a 2nd tier or worse school and PROBABLY won’t get a job as aforementioned PLUS you’ll be sitting around failing the bar.  Not good.  If you get less than a 160—and definitely if you get a 150—you should go to law school in Iowa or Nebraska and take the EASIER bar there and set yourself up to get a job there (assuming you come out in the top 10 or 20%.  And yes, if you come out lower than that, then the “gubment” is an option.  HOWEVER, keep in mind that you still have to be able to afford to pay off your student loans—and if you’re a man—look like you’ve got enough money to attract a mate….  lol [but for God’s sake—don’t date anyone that doesn’t have a college degree!  I don’t care how ugly you might be!  LOL]

4) Law firms are switching over to a lateral hire model, which doesn’t bode well for the long term health of the profession when the old-heads die off, so I’m surprised RecentGrad is talking about all of these jobs.

By Advantage: Top School on 2013 01 08, 9:25 pm CDT

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