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Author Topic: From a recently barred attorney - What I wish I knew before I went to law school  (Read 6469 times)

aglittman

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Before applying to law school, please read the following:

I graduated from a top 50 law school last May in the middle of my class, passed my stateís bar exam, and Iíve been having incredible difficulty just finding legal jobs that I can apply to.  Iím certainly not alone, as about half my graduating class is still unemployed.  There is so much press coverage about the shortage of legal jobs, I canít understand why flocks are still enrolling in law school. 

I strongly urge you (because I wish someone would have urged me before I went to law school):  if there is ANYTHING that excites you other than law, go do it instead of law school. 

Please, before you start 1L, understand what you are getting into.  With the exception of going to a T-14 school, chances are good that you will have extreme difficulty landing a job.  And even if you do land a job after graduation, chances are pretty good you wonít be that happy or be making that much money (only the top top students get 6 figure jobs).

Law schools are money-makers just as much as they are educational institutions.  Donít trust each schoolís published employment statistics, as so many are fraudulent.  For example, my school claimed that the average starting salary for 2010 graduates was $92,000, but very fine print at the bottom of the page stated that that was only based on 45% of the class reporting. 

Going to law school was honestly the worst mistake of my life, and I hope you donít make the same mistake as me.    

If you have any individual questions, I will happily respond to them.

FalconJimmy

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A good cautionary tale.  Hope things turn up for you.

bigs5068

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Agree with pretty much everything you said, but I always ask what educational institution isn't a money maker. This is not law school alone, but nurses, pilots, cops, teachers, and so on have a very difficult time starting their career.  Lawyers are not alone in.

Schools also misreport their information good old puffery, but if you read between the lines of any school you can see that many of there students did not report. They could do a better job disclosing for sure, but if you look at almost any schools stats you will see that many didn't report. lawschooltransparency.com does a good job of reporting the real fact.

Your point also goes to show the ridiculousness of U.S. News you graduated from a Top 50 school and many law students think it really means something, but U.S. is News is nothing more than a for private magazine offering complete B.S. and your top 50 school could easily be 80th in a year or so. Their formula makes absolutely no sense and is based on people across the country filling out scantrons numbering between 1-5. As a result of this absurd magainze and formula like the current 11 way tie for 84th place. http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings/page+4  (Direct from U.S. News)

To my main point I would wait a few years before saying law school is the worst mistake of your life. Education is a long-term investment and it almost never pays off right away. Many people have posted on this board and others saying your exact sentiment only to later find a job.

I will also tell you a recent story. I play on a Bar League basketball team and I go out with the lawyers afterwards and they all tell me the same story and they went to schools ranging from T14 to Tier 4. They all say it sucked to start out they were taking odd jobs to make money and so on, but they eventually got in the field and are doing well everyone one of them, but it was a huge struggle. Although one guy did go to the 2L summer associate job full time offer at graduation and the person was not a T14 grad.

However, I totally get the fear of finding that first job, bills coming in, uncertainty, all of it, but this does not apply to law school alone it applies to almost every profession out there.  With that being said I'm willing to bet in 3 years you will sing a different tune. Remember how long 3 years is you were in your first day of law school then and as you know a lot can change in three years. . So before saying it the absolute worst thing that ever happened give it some time. I am willing to bet things will turn around for you. Well good luck and for everyone's sake I hope I am right.

justanothersucker

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My point exactly. So why transfer into a "higher tier" lawschool if "half your class" is still unemployed.

Question: have you even tried JAG or public attorney?
Is the soup kitchen food that much better than the chow halls?

Before applying to law school, please read the following:

I graduated from a top 50 law school last May in the middle of my class, passed my stateís bar exam, and Iíve been having incredible difficulty just finding legal jobs that I can apply to.  Iím certainly not alone, as about half my graduating class is still unemployed.  There is so much press coverage about the shortage of legal jobs, I canít understand why flocks are still enrolling in law school. 

I strongly urge you (because I wish someone would have urged me before I went to law school):  if there is ANYTHING that excites you other than law, go do it instead of law school. 

Please, before you start 1L, understand what you are getting into.  With the exception of going to a T-14 school, chances are good that you will have extreme difficulty landing a job.  And even if you do land a job after graduation, chances are pretty good you wonít be that happy or be making that much money (only the top top students get 6 figure jobs).

Law schools are money-makers just as much as they are educational institutions.  Donít trust each schoolís published employment statistics, as so many are fraudulent.  For example, my school claimed that the average starting salary for 2010 graduates was $92,000, but very fine print at the bottom of the page stated that that was only based on 45% of the class reporting. 

Going to law school was honestly the worst mistake of my life, and I hope you donít make the same mistake as me.    

If you have any individual questions, I will happily respond to them.

blue54

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Aglittman: I completely agree with you. I posted something similar to this vein on this forum a couple of weeks ago. I graduated in May at top 25% of my class at a T2 school that has a very strong name in the state it is located. I have also clerked for a mid size law firm for nearly 2 years (unfortunately, they couldn't hire me on, as the legal market is, well, you know, absolutely atrocious). I passed my state's bar exam, so here I sit, sending out resumes every day, going to bar functions, doing anything I can to "network" and make connections. For all of those considering law school, let me break down where you stand as a lawyer:

0-2 years: you are a newbie. You have no experience and no one wants to hire you. The best way to get hired at this stage is at OCI, but if you don't go to a T14 school, your school's OCI will suck and basically most of the firms that show up are just resume collecting anyways. Now you have sunk 150K into a degree, an additional 5K to take a bar review course and pass the bar, and now you are struggling just to land a job that pays 35K/year. Every position you apply to is flooded with resumes of those who are in your shoes, and, more importantly, there are hundreds of resumes of those lawyers who do have experience and thus do not need any training. Why would a firm sink time and money into you when they have someone who already has litigation experience willing to do the same job at the same price?  Not even doc review recruiters want to touch you, because you don't have doc review experience.

2-4 years: you are somewhat more marketable. You have most likely gained trial preparation experience, some litigation experience, and, more importantly, you have practiced in front of judges in the area. You can easily take the jobs those that have 0-2 years experience are fighting for. Although it pays crap, it still pays, and you have loan principle that is due.

3-6 years: now we are talking.  Recruiters start calling you.  You are beginning to specialize in areas of law that make you marketable.  Six figure jobs are on the horizon.  You may still work 70 hours per week, but now you are more comfortable doing so.

6+ years: you can apply to most of the employment ads out there and be satisfied that you will have a shot at getting an interview.  Recruiters will contact you as well.

*Note: these facts were given to me after I spoke with a recruiter over the phone. I did not make all of this up.

Sure, once you have 6 years under your belt, you are an attorney, making good money, and you can look back and say it was all worth it. But the problem is that you can't even get to that 6 year mark now because the jobs to get there just don't exist. They aren't there. Trust me. After sending out over 100 resumes and getting a few worthless interviews where the jobs went to those with more experience, I have some authority on this subject. Go get a degree or certification in something worthwhile, such as medicine or engineering.  Who cares if you don't have an interest in it, because it pays, and in the end, it is the person who can put food on his table that will be happiest. It is miserable living off your parents when you are 26 and can't land even an interview for a job that starts you at 35K (oh, but you have a J.D., so that makes it all worth it, right? Not.) And no matter what any idiot on this forum tells you, you will fall into this unemployed category. You will not be happy. You will not land a good paying job unless you have a connection, or you go to a T14 school and graduate top of your class. 10 years ago, you could work your way to the top. That isn't the case now. It is bad out there. I spoke with one partner at a firm who suggested I start delivering pizzas to help pay the bills while I continue searching for a job.  This was after I took the partner out to lunch to try and "network" with him like my useless career services told me to do. Awesome. At least he received a free lunch out of the meeting.

Oh, and the best part of it all?  What pizza company/any company other than a law firm is going to hire a licensed attorney? They know you are going to quit as soon as something better comes up.  So you go ahead and remove it from your resume.  Good luck explaining a 3 year employment gap.

I went to a bar function last month. Half of us were new attorneys (about 15 of us). There we were, standing around like jackasses handing out our business cards to anyone who gave us a curious look. Have I heard anything back? No. None of us have. We have nothing to offer a firm. They want attorneys with experience. When you get out of law school, you have nothing but debt.

Seriously, find another profession. Preferably, one that isn't dying.

justanothersucker

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For all the complainers out there, how many have even tried applying to the FBI for work untill "the economy gets better"?

I bet none. One example out of many folks.

bigs5068

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Finding a job always has been and always will be hard. This does not apply to law school alone.

http://news.yahoo.com/photos/millions-of-workers-zero-jobs-1322006105-slideshow/;_ylt=AlAuRM6pvV2RSGBEpSirbebNt.d_;_ylu=X3oDMTRkcWFsNzQ1BG1pdANQb2xpdGljcyBGZWF0dXJlZCBMZWZ0IFJhaWwEcGtnA2RkZDNhNzlhLWJkMTUtMzhlZC05OTFiLWY4NzVkNzAyYjI0NQRwb3MDMwRzZWMDTWVkaWFGZWF0dXJlZExpc3QEdmVyA2QzNGRjZDE4LTE1NjUtMTFlMS1iMTE4LTNiN2JhMzAxNGFhYg--;_ylg=X3oDMTNoYXVxYXFkBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDODY2NGFhOGMtMDljMS0zODY3LWFjYjItYjczNjg3NzI4NDkzBHBzdGNhdANwb2xpdGljc3xkZXN0aW5hdGlvbjIwMTIEcHQDc3RvcnlwYWdlBHRlc3QD;_ylv=3

Just some photos, but it was on Yahoo first page. It sucks to find a job whether your an architect, nurse, pilot, lawyer, cop, firefighter, it is freaking hard. Going to architecture school, flight school, nursing school none of it is cheap. Don't choose your profession based on the "supposed" money your going to make, because odds you will struggle choose the profession you will enjoy. I guarantee you at some point in your life you will get a job. Then you likely never post on lawschooldiscussion again. The economy is not great for lawyers or anybody right now, but this is the not first time there has been an economic downturn. Money will be around again then s*** will hit the fan again. I am sure both of you will be literally be shocked and the world would be if by the year 2021 you have not worked a single day. It sucks and I know for a fact I will be in the same situation in a few months if I pass the bar.

I know one person that failed the bar 3 times. They found a job in the meantime and finally passed, but it was a long hard road. Be thankful you have passed the bar it is a big accomplishment and you are a lot better off than many people that didn't pass. Have patience and I would be bet a lot of money that in 10 years you will have at least worked one day in a legal job. Hopefully I am right and I agree with a lot of your points law school is a long, expensive, and difficult road with no guarantee of a job at the end of it. If you go to law school expecting anything to be handed to go to school for anything then you will be waiting around for a long time. Finding a job sucks.

I really think law schools or any school should make you earn how much your borrowing before they let you enroll in school. I don't know how many undergrad-straight to law school or some other grad school I have met and things do not work out for awhile. School is nothing like the real world and you should have to work at least a year or two before going into any form of grad school. I would strongly agree if they imposed that requirement on incoming students.

FalconJimmy

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Sucker, what universe do you live in?  FBI jobs are highly competitive. 

blue54

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Read this article from the NY Times. It was published last week. If there's any doubt that law school is a terrible, awful choice right now, this article will get rid of it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/20/business/after-law-school-associates-learn-to-be-lawyers.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=general

"Altogether, the top 250 firms ó which hired 27 percent of graduates from the top 50 law schools last year ó have lost nearly 10,000 jobs since 2008, according to an April survey by The National Law Journal."

This is the problem with arguing: people like to use personal anecdotal evidence or opinion over facts.  The "I know someone who got a job right out of law school" story is used repeatedly, and yet there are actual, objective facts such as the one I just posted from a credible source that states hiring in essentially non-existent in this legal market. Google it for yourself, this article is just one of many written by the Times, Wall Street Journal, etc. who are all documenting the monumental downshift in the legal market, and how the law schools are hiding these facts while raising tuition.  I have not seen a single similar article about nursing or engineering. In fact, engineering and healthcare are in the top 6 of degrees that employers demand right now:

http://education.yahoo.net/articles/six_in_demand_degrees.htm

Will you automatically get a job with an engineering degree? No, you need to go to a reputable school and have high grades. But the differences between this and law school is that (1) it costs much less (2) the starting salary is much higher (3) four years of school versus 7 (4) no bar exam and (5) there is a market to be hired in.  While some engineers are being hired and some nurses are being hired, no attorneys are being hired.

It's bad out there. Don't go join the slaughter. Get a degree that is in demand, that costs so much less, that takes less time to get. They do exist, and you will be happier for it.

bigs5068

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Numerous Articles about how Nurses, MBA's, Architects can't find jobs. Two second google search type in Profession X no jobs and you will see a slew of articles.

Nurses Can't find Job Articles. 
[/b]
1)http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-07-09-1Anurses09_ST_N.htm
2)http://nursingcrib.com/news-blog/why-graduates-cant-get-a-job/

MBA's cant find jobs
1) http://www.diaryofanunemployedmba.blogspot.com/
2) http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/content/oct2009/bs20091029_862211.htm

Architects Can't find jobs
1) http://archinect.com/forum/thread/12306014/it-s-not-just-architecture-grads

This is just an article about every recent grad between 22-26 unable to find work

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_42/b4151032038302.htm

So no it is not just law schools it is everything. The job market is hard and it always has been, but now everybody can click on google and find someone else to complain with them. Starting a career is terrifying and no form of education trains you how to be a professional as soon as you graduate just the way it is.

As for expense look the tuition at these places is the same as law school

Undergraduate tuition for enginneering from USC a reputable  school 21,000 per semester x 8 semesters= 168,000 in tuition alone.

http://www.usc.edu/academics/classes/term_20113/tuition_and_fees.html

Engineering is expensive and there is no guarantee of a job there.

Nursing at University of Pacfici decent school in California 17k per semester http://www.pacific.edu/Campus-Life/Student-Services/Student-Accounts/Stockton-Tuition-and-Fees.html

So 34k per year right on part with law school tuition.

I agree with most of what your saying, but my point is law school is not much different than anything else. Education is expensive, it does not guarantee you a job, if you go to Harvard, Yale, Stanford for anything you will have more doors open to you.

Or maybe your right and law school is the only thing that is expensive and jobs can't be found. I have a lot of non-lawyer friends who say the same thing about their degree, but maybe they are just complaining and law students are the only ones that really have it tough.