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Author Topic: Another article from the WSJ: Poor Law grad prospects, and avoiding debt traps  (Read 1006 times)

stateofbeasley

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Requires a subscription, but someone posted the text on jdunderground:

http://www.jdunderground.com/thread.php?threadId=5977

Quote
Mike Doty landed a six-figure job this fall as an associate at a big law firm in Minneapolis because of a smart move: The University of Chicago Law School graduate had performed so well at a second-tier school in Cleveland that he was able to transfer to Chicago after his first year.

Many of the friends Mr. Doty left behind in Cleveland graduated with no jobs and a lot of debt. "Law school is definitely a huge financial mistake for a lot of people," he says. "Schools are asking consumers to spend upwards of $100,000 on a product, and there's nobody out there giving them the information they need to make an informed decision."


Law-school application season has begun, and prospective students have a lot at stake as they choose among schools. Many recent law-school graduates who don't work at big firms are struggling to pay off student loans in an increasingly tough job market. The legal sector has grown at an average annual inflation-adjusted rate of 1.2% since 1988, or less than half as fast as the broader economy, according to Commerce Department data. While the top firms have prospered, leading to ever-rising salaries for new lawyers there, studies suggest salary growth elsewhere has stagnated.

The article mainly offers advice on how to avoid the debt trap:

Quote
Consider an in-state public law school: Unless you've been accepted at a nationally recognized top-tier school, where getting a job is easier regardless of your grades, think hard about minimizing cost. Over the past 20 years, law-school tuition increases were nearly triple the rate of inflation, and in 2006, graduates of public and private law schools had borrowed an average of $54,509 and $83,181, respectively, up 17% and 18.6% from the amount borrowed by graduates in 2002, according to the American Bar Association. An in-state public law school costs about half as much, on average, as a private school or a public school for out-of-state residents.

And of course, there's a blurb on the shady practices that career services offices use to puff up their school's employment stats:

Quote
Scrutinize schools' data on graduate employment: Most law schools try to keep track of where their graduates end up and what their salaries are, but some schools are more forthright than others. When schools report that a certain percentage of their students were employed nine months after graduation, the figures can include nonlaw jobs or jobs for hourly wages. Some schools' salary data are heavily based on their most successful graduates who made it to big firms. Don't rely on the salary figure unless it's based on a high percentage of graduates who reported their salaries to the school. (Those percentages can be found in the "career prospects" section for individual schools in the "online premium edition" of U.S. News's latest graduate-school rankings. It sells for $14.95 at www.usnews.com, under "rankings.") And schools often include lawyers working on a contract basis in their figures, even though those jobs often don't offer significant career-growth potential.

Most of this is old hat to people who have been at lawschooldiscussion for several months, but I think this is good information for new members.

CoxlessPair

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The WSJ Law Blog covered this: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2007/10/30/law-blog-news-you-can-use-how-to-get-a-biglaw-job/

Read the comments. They are dead on. This is seriously one of the worst f_cking articles I have seen in terms of advice.

Unless this was written by a 0L who would not know any better, there is really no excuse for this sort of content being published
Air Force JAG Corps

big - fat - box

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The actual article has more text and is better than the law blog part. The blog part only has the worst aspects of the article.

Good:

Pick an in-state public school

Transfer if you have the grades after 1L

Ask students about grade cutoffs for certain jobs


Bad:

Be a "big fish"...wildly presumptuous and not what I'd stake my career on. Many of the "big fish" at my 1L school tanked when grades came out.


My take on location:

Don't go to a non-top 25 school in a saturated market.

stateofbeasley

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Bad:

Be a "big fish"...wildly presumptuous and not what I'd stake my career on. Many of the "big fish" at my 1L school tanked when grades came out.

Same thing happened during my years at Temple.  Some of the "big fish" did well, and others fell flat on their faces.  There's just no way to tell if you'll do well on law school exams.

I'll third that the "big fish" advice is IMO not good.

big - fat - box

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bump

Special Agent Dana Scully

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The WSJ Law Blog covered this: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2007/10/30/law-blog-news-you-can-use-how-to-get-a-biglaw-job/

Read the comments. They are dead on. This is seriously one of the worst f_cking articles I have seen in terms of advice.

Unless this was written by a 0L who would not know any better, there is really no excuse for this sort of content being published
i can't believe that one of the comments mentioned that their classmate chose a t3 NY school over CLS and NYU.  dummy.
Columbia 3L

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http://deloggio.com/usnews/medians.htm

Here is an interesting table on salaries and reporting rates. Note that I'm not endorsing this website or deloggio's admissions consulting service. I just think this particular page on her site has some value.


As for legal education being better or worse at certain schools, legal education across the board is BAD at worst, and INADEQUATE at best. For what it's worth, I was talking to another T14 transfer today and we both agreed that moving up the rankings has resulted in less practical teaching, some aloof profs, etc. BUT we also both agreed that the job prospects at our new school were much better and therefore leaving was worth it overall.

Basically, the novelty of "policy discussion" that pervades most top law school classrooms wears off very, very quickly after you take some exams and know what learning the law and practicing law is really about.

studymaster

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Could it partly be, that the general form of North American law education has developed in order to create out of rather weak raw material a set of people who can "think like a lawyer" and you are actually already pretty good raw material in the first place? Your two semesters of torts was redundant for you; but for 90% of law school graduates, it might be the only thing standing between them and genetic stupidity.


Two semesters of torts won't cure that, trust me. They are just as stupid as 3L's. I used to think law school was full of smart people, there are lots of them here, but they are not the magority. Maybe at "top schools" but I doubt it, the law attracts an overabudance of tools it seems.

And you think practical trainign will help?

The matter as I see it is the top law grads are the most capable of learning the black letter quickly on their own, and they can do ti as theyre trained up in firms or wherever. But someone needs to knwo the theory and higher level ideas, how a good lawyer thinks if you will, and so we get the cream of the crop and instill in them this knowledge, reasonably expecting them to fend for themselves on practical matters.
It is whispered that soon, if we all heed the call, the piper will lead us to reason.