Law School Discussion

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Messages - HYSHopeful

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BAFF for later... interesting discussion...

BAFF? I'm afraid this acronym is not a part of my lexicon. I'm new here, so I apologize in advance if this is nomenclature that I am expected to be privy to. Would someone please fill me in?

I for one do not approach law school as something that is as conditional as the OP's concerns may suggest. I want to be a lawyer. I am not buying stock or leasing a car because I have extra money. This is a life decision that I have made and I am fairly confident in.

I suppose the issue then becomes a matter of timing: "If I wait until 20xx to begin law school, I will be more likely to graduate into a favorable job market." This is, of course, nearly impossible to predict with any precision. If you are able to time the market with that kind of accuracy then you'd enjoy a much more lucrative career in hedge fund management.

Given that law school is a three-year endeavor, it is very difficult (if at all possible) to forecast the macroeconomic conditions into which you are likely to graduate. If you begin your matriculation in a bear market, you are just as likely (if not more likely--given historical trends in economic expansion and contraction) to graduate into a bull market as you are to graduate into a bear market. Imagine the uncertainty facing those students entering law school in 2001--yet they graduated into a rapidly expanding economy. Alternatively, I'd imagine that the class entering law school in 1999 was very optimistic about their job prospects, yet they graduated into the worst job market in a decade.

This morning I read this article about how a lot of Ivy league grads have had their job offers from Bear Stearns rescinded before they have even started working, and it TERRIFIED me.

BSC is a unique case, and their situation bears--no pun intended--very little resemblance to the legal job market. Bear suffered serious liquidity issues resulting from mortgage-backed securities and hedge fund losses, and were subsequently taken over by JPM. Layoffs and offer retractions are commonplace during any acquisition, as redundancies in organizational structure result in operational inefficiencies. Unless the firm that you accepted an offer from was going bankrupt and was taken over in a white knight acquisition, then the BSC case offers no parallel. The high-finance job market is notoriously volatile even in the best of times, and offers much less job security than the legal profession.

That said, I would argue that layoffs and slow hiring over the next couple of years would actually result in an increase in hiring as the economy picks back up in the wake of a recession or economic slowdown. The economy is cyclical, and periods of contraction tend to last, on average, 17 months. It is highly unlikely that this current period of economic slowdown will continue for another 3 or 4 years, when many of us will be entering the job market. In fact, we may enjoy graduating into an expanding economy and above average hiring practices.

In Sum: The case of Bear Stearns is unique and not representative of the high-finance job market at large; The high-finance job market, though currently contracting (to a lesser extent than the Bear Sterns example would cause you to believe), is more sensitive to changes in the overall economy than is the job market for lawyers; The economic cycle rarely sees periods of contraction lasting longer than several years, and we are likely to  graduate into a period of economic expansion in 3 or 4 years.

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