« on: December 12, 2008, 05:20:42 PM »
The true intention of my post is to provide a cautionary tale for those looking at law school (like someone already mentioned). There are a few rants in my post, but I'm not trying to disparage my law school or the practice of law (I would probably still go to Tulane if I had to do it all over again). This is reality. I have seen a number of posts from people who think law school is a golden ticket. I've even seen a couple of people talking about how they will soon own a BMW because they just got accepted to XYZ law school. I'm sure a lot of it is in jest, but I have a feeling that there are some half-truths in there. I was gungho when I applied to law school and didn't think unemployment or underemployment would ever be an issue. I saw the $100K+ average starting salary stats and the 98%+ employment after 9 months of graduation stat and thought law school was a sure thing. I also remember hearing stats about how the legal field is recession proof because "you are always going to need a lawyer" and there is always bankruptcy law, etc, etc. Again, stupid on my part for not researching further.
I posted on here several times when I was applying to law school and swept up by the group think mentality. Look around. The majority of people who post on here are not trying to convince each other to NOT attend law school. Most here have already convinced themselves to commit (rightfully or wrongfully) and they use these boards to pump themselves up waiting on admissions and determining what to do before going to law school. No one likes a debbie downer, but I think more debbie downers need to start posting about realities people here don't know about, or purposely try to avoid.
A lot of folks on here engage in active ignorance - they know recent law school grads are struggling, they know more law schools are opening up, they know there are more lawyers, they know some legal jobs are being outsourced to India, they know law school debt is getting higher and higher. These folks think that they will never graduate below the top 10%, that the economy will be bad at graduation, that they will make less than $100K/year, or that their monthly payments for their law school loans will be more than $2K/month. I know this because that's what happened to me. There were tons of cheerleaders on here congratulating me when I was accepted to Tulane, told me how good the school was and that the job prospects would be good.
According to OCS, I did everything I was supposed to in law school. I made above average grades, graduated with honors, was an editor on a law school journal, was published, was active with law school student groups, did some pro bono my 1L year, interned for a federal judge for a summer, was a summer associate during my 2L year, worked part-time at a law firm during my 3L year, networked with alumni and local attorneys, etc. Yes I haven't turned EVERY stone, but I didn't spend 4 years of undergrad, 3 years of law school, and 3 months prepping for a hellacious bar exam to throw my hands up in the air and pick an area of law I have no interest in and don't want to pigeon-hole myself into.
If you think it's easy to setup your own shop and start practicing and billing hundreds of dollars an hour, then you are up for a rude awakening. If you think it is so easy to setup a solo, why aren't the people who graduated in the 10% or T-10 law schools opening up their own law firm? Yeah an attorney earned $800K last year as a solo...I also know someone who won the lottery. Go look at actual statistics and see how much the average solo is making right out of law school - (hint: it's not going to be 6-figures). Do you know the amount of money you have to spend to get malpractice insurance, to be current on your CLE, to hire staff, to advertise, to get westlaw/lexus, to buy equipment, or to even get a lease? Guess what, being a solo is not for everyone. Just because I don't want to "fight" to be a solo, doesn't mean I won't fight for my clients or that I will be a crappy attorney. I know several established partners who would cringe at the idea of setting up their own practice, and they have been practicing law for years. Not to mention the number of malpractice suits and disbarrment hearings that solos have to put up with.
Again, caveat emptor, read the fine print, look before you jump. I'm not saying that people should avoid law school...I am saying that prospective students do better research and analysis before going to law school. Am I complaining? Yes. Am I sitting around expecting a job because I graduated from a tier 1 law school? Hell no. I am being proactive, but the economic conditions are not optimal for recent law school grads. I even went on an interview a few months ago for a contract attorney position. The recruiter looked at my resume after he called me in and said that he could not give me a job because I was "over-qualified." He said someone with my stats will find a much better job and his client does not want to risk hiring someone who will not be on the project for at least 1 year.