Law School Discussion

Before you go to law school...

bigs5068

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Re: Before you go to law school...
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2010, 08:49:24 AM »


But here's the difference:  The young MD with a small family practice in Weed, CA, is making $200k a year with excellent job security.  The young JD in a small general practice firm in Weed, CA, is making between $30k and $60k in any given year, with no job security whatsoever.

Hmm...  I'm not helping make the case for law school here, am I.
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See the misconception is that it is  200k right out of school. As the poster above me said they need to do residency for 5-7 years in places like Weed, California making 30-40k. If and when they finish the residency the money comes, but I don't even know if that is guaranteed. You might need to still go out and find a job after completing the residency I am not sure . The general practitioner in Weed, California might start out making 30-40k as well, but with 7 years of experience he/she will hopefully learn enough to be efficient and make a better salary. Many med students think law students have it easier and more guarantees. The grass is always greener.

As I have tried to say a million times  education is a LONG-TERM investment and the higher up in education you go the longer it is going to take to get any benefits back. Whether you are in Med School, Law School, Business School, whatever it may be. It takes a LONG TIME to build a career, but lawyers are actually one of the few professions where you CAN go to Biglaw and get paid really well right out of school, but that is really rare. Whether you go to med school or law school it will take a long time to build a career. I am not expecting when I graduate that employers will be sitting in the audience begging me to work at their firms for 200k a year. I am going to be another J.D. and hopefully I will maintain my high class rank. I can speak mandarin, which is pretty helpful and  I am trying to get as much work experience as I can to make my resume look better, but so are 95% of other students. Hopefully I will pass the bar and if I do that then maybe someone will hire me, but there are no guarantees that I will get an ASSOCIATE POSITION after I graduate. Even if all that goes well and I get a job and pass the bar I will need to continue to do well and bring in the billable hours etc. If I do not well then there are plenty of other people that would be willing to take my job. Yes the legal industry shockingly enough is competitive and actually anything in life is. Generally speaking businesses do not like to pay people for doing nothing and writing about how unfair everything is.  These bloggers who write this bs  just kill me.

Re: Before you go to law school...
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2010, 09:31:50 AM »

See the misconception is that it is  200k right out of school. As the poster above me said they need to do residency for 5-7 years in places like Weed, California making 30-40k. If and when they finish the residency the money comes, but I don't even know if that is guaranteed. You might need to still go out and find a job after completing the residency I am not sure .

No misconception, but I should have been clearer.  All my hypothetical physicians are fully licensed, residenced, and specialized.  No doubt - at 26 years of age JDs make more than MDs.  I am moving a few more years ahead, since frankly the first few years after law school are basically an overpaid residency anyway.

But after the residency, frankly, the minimum doctor income is pretty close to guaranteed.  This is in no small part to what Megan explained - actually GETTING to that point is harder for the physicians.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to get a law degree from some random law school.  Getting the MD is much harder.  The MCAT requires more preparation, specific undergraduate studies are required, med schools do flunk people out, and there aren't as many med school spots available.  The supply of physicians does not meet the demand, whereas the supply of JDs exceeds the demand.

I wouldn't say the grass is greener - there are many reasons why I am glad I went law instead of medicine - but one of the indisputable benefits of a medical license in the US is near-guaranteed income at a very comfortable level.

(Roughly half my family is medical, and I have seen the process play out countless times over the years.  Doctors are a funny bunch.)

bigs5068

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Re: Before you go to law school...
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2010, 09:43:49 AM »
I think Med School is harder and that is why if you get through all of that you have a guaranteed job. That is why I advocate for law school being harder than it is. You can put in a decent effort graduate and pass the bar. You are not required to do one practical thing in law school. Certainly it is wise to get work experience while your in school, but it is not required. If law schools made you do a clinic for 5-7 years  that was highly supervised then when you got out I am sure there would be able to find placement somewhere. However, in law school you CAN skate by and take art and the law etc. Knowing the elements of negligence alone is not really going to do anything for you. How do you initiate the suit, take a deposition, do discovery, just everything that is entailed in it. Law school does not r teach you how to REALLY do it. I learned theoretically how to do a lot of it in Civil Procedure, but again the theory and actually doing are two different things. I wouldn't care if my brain surgeon aced every class regarding brain chemistry etc. I would care how many brain surgeries he did. There is no substitute for experience and I am really shocked that the ABA does not require you to complete some type of REAL INTERACTION before graduating. I know law is a broad field, but you could handle several REAL people's matters under the supervision of an attorney. Medicine is a broad filed to and they managed to figure it out.

Re: Before you go to law school...
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2010, 01:22:14 PM »
Medicine is a broad filed to and they managed to figure it out.

Well, part of the way medicine provides better training is by requiring specific undergraduate studies.  Med school isn't a two-year program, but a six-year program.  You can't even start the "official" medical school unless you spent your college years studying relevant subject matters.

I am not sure exactly what the law school analog would be, but my point here is that nobody enters med school without a solid foundation in biology and chemistry.  Most 1Ls have no relevant knowledge at all when they show up.

So maybe we should make law school a six-year graduate program instead of three, or have specific undergraduate admission requirements - with an LSAT that tested substantive knowledge rather than general smarts.

bigs5068

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Re: Before you go to law school...
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2010, 03:04:48 PM »
I agree I mean I got a paralegal certificate from my school. I had an extra year of a basketball scholarship so I had to take classes, but that really taught me a lot. We had a final exam that we had to in IRAC and we literally did the same exact things I learned in Legal Writing and Research in law school. I wouldn't mind having a paralegal certificate being a prerequisite and maybe regulate those programs more. Those are not nearly as expensive and if someone says man this sucks they can leave. Instead of facing 30,000 in debt at the end of the first year.

That is probably the main problem is that so many students show up not knowing what to expect at all. I mean you can pull a 4.0 in Religious Studies I took several of those classes in college to produce a (REAL SOLID MINOR) and pulled an A in every class and I don't know anyone who did not get an A in those classes. Anyways, hypothetical student with a religious studies major thinks they are really smart they have a 4.0 in undergrad. They say I will take the LSAT and they pull a 163 on the LSAT now they are TRUE GENIUSES DESTINED TO BE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES MAYBE PRESIDENT. This hypothetical student may have never worked a day in their life or at least not in the legal field. So they have a 4.0 and 163 LSAT score gold and get some real demanding religious studies professor to write about how great they are and then they piece together a coherent 2-3 page personal statement. This candidate with NO EXPOSURE to the legal field is pure gold to a lot of admissions committees. The student might be terrible though who knows or maybe they will just hate the law. You should have a lot more exposure to something before you are allowed to commit 100,000 to a profession that is supposed to be highly regulated.

I mean I got the paralegal certificate and worked in law offices for two years. It was not a huge commitment, but I enjoyed it enough to pursue the law. Many people I worked with were fresh graduates to who thought about law school, but said god this sucks. It is a lot better to learn that lesson long before you commit 3 years of your life and 100,000.

Re: Before you go to law school...
« Reply #15 on: October 06, 2010, 05:02:45 PM »
Medicine is a broad filed to and they managed to figure it out.

Well, part of the way medicine provides better training is by requiring specific undergraduate studies.  Med school isn't a two-year program, but a six-year program.  You can't even start the "official" medical school unless you spent your college years studying relevant subject matters.

I am not sure exactly what the law school analog would be, but my point here is that nobody enters med school without a solid foundation in biology and chemistry.  Most 1Ls have no relevant knowledge at all when they show up.

So maybe we should make law school a six-year graduate program instead of three, or have specific undergraduate admission requirements - with an LSAT that tested substantive knowledge rather than general smarts.
I don't know, though. 
I met my husband right after undergrad.  I had gone to a top NE private university with a heavy focus on liberal arts, and he had gone to a tiny elite engineering school in the midwest.  He would explain scientific topics to me, and I would feel like I had learned nothing in the past four years.  After a couple months in the workplace, though, I discovered that my liberal arts background taught me how to think, to problem solve, to be flexible, to communicate effectively.  Because of this, I've found success in every job.  You learn the skills you need on the job.  My current employer (a Fortune 500 retailer) stresses that 70% of your development is gained from experience.  The education is important to give you that foundation and context.
The foundation for medicine is and should be different than the foundation for law, and not just in content.  While doctors and lawyers are both professionals, medicine is more of trade while law is an art.  Doctors need to learn all the problems and solutions.  Lawyers need to learn how to create solutions. 
So, I don't think pre-reqs prior to law school is necessarily ideal.  I do think there should be fewer spots/schools for JD candidates each year, though, to have greater standardization in the field, and I also see the benefit of a clinical year or two in law school.

As a side note, there is talk in the world of BigLaw about setting up a match process much like medicine has.  I'm not sure how far the firms have gotten in this type of talk or even how many are considering it, though.

Re: Before you go to law school...
« Reply #16 on: October 06, 2010, 05:28:44 PM »
Med schools are also willing to experiment with their admissions to determined what works and evolve.  I read an interesting NY Times article recently about med school without a science background.



It seems as if the law evolves slowly, so do the schools.  Med schools must adapt quickly to the times.  I find the comparision difficult to make.

Re: Before you go to law school...
« Reply #17 on: October 06, 2010, 06:18:51 PM »
I think Med School is harder and that is why if you get through all of that you have a guaranteed job. That is why I advocate for law school being harder than it is.

BINGO!  Med schools are much more restrictive than law schools: harder to get into and harder to complete.  There are no US "diploma mills" when it comes to med school - the same cannot be said for law schools.

Re: Before you go to law school...
« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2010, 06:51:03 PM »
Med schools are also willing to experiment with their admissions to determined what works and evolve.  I read an interesting NY Times article recently about med school without a science background.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/30/nyregion/30medschools.html?pagewanted=all

It seems as if the law evolves slowly, so do the schools.  Med schools must adapt quickly to the times.  I find the comparision difficult to make.
One of my sorority sisters is a graduate of that program!  She's doing well, but many I've spoken with regarding this are skeptical.  I'm curious to see what longer-term findings are.  Of course, this program is likely different than what it would be if rolled to all medical schools because it has to be incredibly selective; a study of these top liberal arts students who have become doctors might not indicate the success of the larger body of liberal arts students who would be admitted if all medical schools implemented this type of admission.

Re: Before you go to law school...
« Reply #19 on: October 07, 2010, 04:37:58 AM »
But at the same time, I would like to believe that nobody would believe that there is such a thing as a "golden ticket," let alone that an academic degree would qualify.  As I have posted earlier, even had you landed your dream job out of law school, you would still have no guarantees.  Most BigLaw hires don't last more than a few years before moving on to something else (for instance).  There are no guarantees in life, and a law degree may be the furthest thing from a guarantee.  If you wanted safe employment, you should have gone to medical school, because all paths from law school to "success" go through lots of hard work and peril, with failure lurking at every turn.


A number of interesting points here, but there seems a deeper point that is easily lost:  the factors surrounding rank, prestige, etc. are connected to but rather different from the factors surrounding personal success, whether in law school or thereafter.  These in turn are different from the "cultural" factors, including the good luck of graduating into a robust market . . . or the bad luck of graduating now.  (And, for the record, I graduated in 1991, into the maws of a legal recession every bit as scary as today's.)

It's easy to discount the relevance of objective factors such as prestige--objective under the standards of law regardless of subjective bases--primarily because, well, we don't like them.  (Note the similarity to how one can mess up in a law exam.)  Luck is something we either have or not, although a fair portion of luck gravitates to a select few, based often on thoughtfulness as much as good breeding.  Those are very different factors from the last--quality--which is something we actually do control.  Thus, as painful as it is, and as quasi-random as law grades seem to be, how one approaches law school is a choice, and it's one many make badly, or at least haphazardly.  The same is true of the practice of law.  In a market such as this, the reasons will hardly matter.

For all, take a moment to re-read Morten's highlighted sentence:  Even after all the work of stellar and perhaps pampered primary, secondary, and undergraduate years; after the sky-high LSAT; after the tippy-top acceptances; after a gruelling first year and wildly great grades; after two more years of mind-numbing schooling; and after an even more mind-numbing application to the bar and the bar exam itself . . . the odds are still against success.  Or at least conventional success. 

I know we sound like old farts (or at least I do), but as to the issue of your own quality as a law student--and future colleague--please read Morten's first book.  It might be an eye opener as to the very real world you're about to enter.  (I would mention my own first book--The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book: A Survival Guide, now with fewer carbs!!--but that would be far too shameless. = :  )