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Law School Admissions / The Tough Numbers on Law School
« on: February 27, 2013, 11:26:40 AM »
Now remember, The average education debt for law grads at private schools last year was nearly $125,000, while the average for grads of public law schools was more than $75,700, according to new figures released by the ABA.


According to the ABA data from 195 law schools:

Full-time, Long-Term Legal Jobs:

These jobs require bar passage or are judicial clerkships and are for at least 35 hours per week and have an expected duration of at least one year.
The national full-time, long-term legal rate is 55.2%.
At 73 law schools (37.1%), less than 50% of graduates had these legal jobs.
30 schools (15.2%) had less than 40%
10 schools (5.1%) had less than a 33%
89 schools (45.2%) exceeded the national rate of 55.2%.
31 schools (15.7%) had more than 67%
19 schools (9.6%) had more than 75%
5 schools (2.5%) had more than 90%


We define a graduate as underemployed when he or she is “Unemployed – Seeking”, pursuing an additional advanced degree, in a non-professional job, or employed in a short-term or part-time job.
The national underemployment rate is 26.4%.
180 schools (91.4%) reported a rate greater than 10%.
144 schools (73.1%) had more than 20%
109 schools (55.3%) had more than 25%
57 schools (28.9%) had more than 33%
20 schools (10.2%) had more than 40%

Large Firms (at least 101 attorneys):
10.7% of graduates were employed at large firms in full-time, long-term positions
Graduates seek these jobs in part because they’re the jobs that tend to pay the highest salaries.
At only 45 schools (22.8%) were more than 10% in these jobs.
20 schools (10.2%) had more than 20%
15 schools (5.6%) had more than 33%
Only 3 schools were over 50% – Columbia, Northwestern, and Penn.

General Off-Topic Board / The Sunk Cost Fallacy: Help me!
« on: August 23, 2012, 11:48:04 AM »
Working in the legal field sucks.  Wait, that's not right.  The legal field is so huge and diverse, that it can't all suck unless all work sucks.   So let me rephrase: I hate my job and I think I'd hate at least 25% of all law-firm jobs.
So I have law school debt, and I make less than I made before law school.   The long term financial outlook in the legal field is still very good, but it really sucks in the short term.
In summary, I hate my job, I'm bored to death, I have soul-crushing debt, I have a modest income, everything else in my life is going very well.
In addition to my law job, I teach college as an adjunct.  I absolutely love everything about it, but the pay sucks.

So I'm deciding between forging on with my current career and going back to school for a Ph.D. 

I understand there are many pitfalls with the professor path, but when evaluating my decision, should I consider my student loans and time investment as a sunk cost?  In other words, is it rational to consider the time and money investment as a significant factor when I can make more money and be happier doing something that doesn't require a law degree?

Current Law Students / 2011 Employment Prospects worst in 18 Years
« on: June 11, 2012, 07:42:13 AM »

I understand that the economy is tough in other careers as well, but this is still interesting.  34% of law graduates from the class of 2011 are working in a job that doesn't require a law license.

The media seems to be blowing this all out of proportion.  Even Bill O'reilly said the law was weird.  I'm not really commenting on the specific Martin tragedy.  I'm focusing more on the actual law and the media reaction.

It seems to me that the law is a normal common-law(ish) self defense doctrine, that eliminates the duty to retreat.   It's the same doctrine that many states allow for people in their home. 
If I'm walking to my car and a guy hits me with a baseball bat in the back, knocking me down, do I have to get up, turn my back, and run away if I can?  What if I determine that I have a 40% chance of getting hit with the bat again?  Does that mean I can shoot him with my concealed weapon whether a "stand your ground" law applies or not?

In order to win on self defense in Florida, you still have to demonstrate that there was a reasonable apprehension of force and your return force has to be proportionate.   It's just that if a guy is going to try to beat you with a baseball bat, you don't have to try to run before you can shoot him.

I've always been a little bit of an outsider on law school discussion.  For the first year of my posting, I was commonly involved in controversial arguments against the masses.  My ability to argue logically with those I didn't agree with was undeveloped, to say the least.   Even though I never made many friends on here, and many people seemed to hate everything I stood for, I loved my time on this board.   Reading posts and picking fights got me through a terrible fill-in job before law school.  I received heaps of incredible advice for my first year of law school.  I gave (hopefully) a lot of advice to eager applicants during 2L.  Unfortunately, the board started to die, and it's a pity. 

The format of this site is better than its competitors.  The tone of this site is better than its competitors.  The culture of this board is far less snobbish than its competitors.

I don't know how, but I wish I could help to bring the Law School Discussion of 2007-2008 back.   I think it would do a lot of good for a lot of people.

I didn't want to say that law school is a waste of time or that it sucks, because my purpose here is not to talk people out of going to law school.  Law school was really pretty easy (to be average) and I think most people can find legal jobs (although the selection is obviously worse now than five years ago). 

My purpose here is to talk about how stupid the current system is, and how much money law schools waste.


1: Cut Professor Pay
Are they overpaid?  No, the current teachers are not overpaid.  Still, I would probably fire all of them if I had my way.  Law schools are paying near-market rates for ivy league educated professors who have limited real-world experience.   Cut professor wages to $75,000 a year and open the applications to all T2 and T3 schools.  I'm sure there are some argument about preserving the pure law that comes from the Ivys, but the effectiveness of a law professor is not really correlated to his education.  As a matter of fact, the effectiveness of a law professor is almost impossible to measure because of the curve and lack of any objective testing in law school.  The par passage rate is a poor indicator as well because law schools don't usually teach to the bar and most students take a prep course.  Many schools do this already with legal writing and part-time professors, and some of them are very qualified.
Long story short, my school would have saved a ton of money if they did this, and they would have had about 1000 applications for every open professor spot.    If a law school believes it needs Ivy league teachers, it can charge students more for those credits.

2: Cut The amount of professors by 75%
You may all love the socratic method.  Maybe you think it's the best thing ever.  However, you really don't need this beyond the first semester or year.  Every law school should team up with three other law schools and classes should be broadcast by video like barbri does it.  If a law school really believes they need live lectures, they can charge students more for those credits.   

3: Combine law school with another department on campus. 
Of course this wouldn't work for some independent law schools, but my campus had plenty of room for 450 law students without building a 50 million dollar law school.  The library could easily be integrated, and the empty classes in the history or whatever department can be used to teach classes. 
If a law school needs to be independent, it can charge students more.

4: Teach bar prep the last semester of law school.
Yeah, I loved taking clinic hours and obscure electives my last semester, but it would have been nicer to just knock barbri out.   Maybe the states could even move the bar exam up to june 1st, and license attorneys two months earlier.

5: Leave all administrative bull crap to the university or the professors.
Why pay a career services department?  Just make that part of a professor's job description.
Why pay an admissions department?  Just pay students a little to do the grunt work and pay a professor to oversee it. 
If a law school wants a career service department they should just endorse a third party to do it, and let students who want to use the services pay extra to sign up.

6:  Charge tuition per class, not per student. 
If a school charges $1500 for a 3-credit class, it should just charge $45,000 for the entire class ($1500 * 30 students).  If 60 people sign up, it should be $750 per student.  If students want to save money by going to a big class, they should be able to do it.  If they want a more "intimate" class it should cost more.   You may argue that this would cut out the "niche" classes.  I'm fine with that at this level. 


I know most people won't feel this way, but I think BarBri is a major waste of money.  I think the market value for the program is more like 500 bucks (not 3000), but most students feel like they have no other choice.  There are alternatives out there, but it's a risky gamble to pay someone else.

I think BarBri offers some great things (good books, a great schedule at a good pace, and some valuable tips and feedback), but they just waste so much of your time.
I feel like many people justify it by saying, "if this wasn't the best way to do it then BarBri wouldn't do it this way."
I suppose some people make that same argument about the socratic method.

If I could do it over again, I would buy the barbri books off craigslist and just study myself.  Then I would have spent the $3000 on a vacation after I passed the bar.

Current Law Students / BarBri might be a waste of money after all
« on: June 08, 2011, 08:29:16 AM »
So I'm a coward.  Some people I trust told me I could avoid the $3000 BarBri class and just study on my own, but I thought it was too much of a gamble.  Now that I'm 1/3 of the way done with the course, I realize my friends were probably right.  It's a good program, but I've been noticing that the lectures just simply go over the written materials.  They give a few tips and tricks for the bar exam that are very helpful (not $3000 helpful) but they don't really clear up concepts that are foggy in my mind.  I also don't think the lectures help me memorize anything.  Most of the actual learning I'm doing is still on my own.  The only benefit I'm getting from barbri other than a few tricks is that it keeps me on track.  I paid $3,000 for a babysitter.

Some of you who have taken the bar are probably scoffing at me right now.  A lot of people say barbri is awesome.
Answer two questions for me though:

1:  If BarBri charged per session, and not per course, how many classes would you go to?   So if you paid 500 bucks up front for the books, and then the other 2500 was split over the roughly 35 barbri class periods ($71 dollars per class period) how many times would you go?  I would have went for two weeks and then I would have stopped.

2: If a decent law student just memorized the elements in the conviser mini review and the state distinctions and did the practice tests in the books, don't you think they would pass in most jurisdictions?

In my state you can buy all of the books on craigslist right now for $250.  I assume that's legal (I'd check first), and if it is that's the way I would have went in retrospect.

Current Law Students / Why Law School Sucks for me
« on: April 07, 2011, 10:10:31 AM »
Here's some background on me:
I'm near the top 25% of my class, I had a summer job both summers, I'm on the law review board, and I have some decent prospects in the job hunt (even though I don't have anything nailed down yet, and I'm going to starve this summer)

I wasn't manipulated into coming to school and going into debt.  I knew it was a risk, but I felt it was worth it in the long run.  I still don't feel that ripped off on a macro level, but I feel ripped off every time I go to a law school class.

I hear all this talk about how law school is a scam because they publish exaggerated employment statistics--I don't buy into that.  If law school is a scam it is because they require you to pay for 90 credits when you really only need 20-30, and they do a piss poor job of preparing you to practice law.

For some of my friends and I, law school is a complete waste of time after the first year, and it costs between $400 and $800 per credit hour.
The first year was important because I learned how to read cases and use them in my arguments.  I also learned how to study the law without falling asleep.   By my third semester, I was no longer listening in class.  This is my fault, of course, but my grades still improved.  I took "practical" classes that didn't teach any practical skills, and I took "interesting" classes that basically ended up being a geek professors love affair with legal history.   
During my 2L spring semester, I fought to pay attention and participate in class.  I took notes on prior outlines and I asked the professor when I was confused.  My outlines ended up more bloated, less useful, and harder to memorize.  The next semester (3L fall) I decided to test my "waste of time" theory.  I didn't listen, I didn't take notes, and I didn't buy any commercial outlines.  I got outlines from former law reviewers for all of my courses and I started to memorize and index them a few weeks before finals.  I got a 4.0 on a 3.3 curve (upper division curve is higher at my school).
I understand that my diligence in my 2L year might have unseen benefits, but I haven't been able to find them yet.  I don't remember any specifics from that time, and I will have to relearn that material for the bar anyway.  I'm actually paying $3,000 to have a private company prepare me for the bar because my law school doesn't do the job.  I wish law school was one year of normal instruction, six months of bar prep, and the bar exam.  Then the law school could offer certificate programs that were not required for the bar (litigation, tax, bankruptcy, etc).  If firms felt students needed more education they could require these certificates.

Reading is no longer useful, taking notes doesn't help at all, and there is really no incentive to choose a particular class on any basis other than who is teaching it.  I love the legal field, and I think I will continue to love my career in law, but law school is a huge waste of time and money.  Unfortunately, it's another hoop you have to jump through and the only people who could do anything about it are too heavily invested in the current system.

Current Law Students / Does effort even matter?
« on: January 08, 2011, 11:31:50 AM »
I've always been a decent law student;  I hover around the top third in class rank.  Well this semester (my second-to-last) I have a job and I work a lot, so I decided to not do anything school-related.  No reading, no listening in class, no notes.  A week before finals, I got some old outlines for my courses, indexed them and read through them a couple times.  I got straight A's.
I usually study my butt off and get a 3.3 gpa, so this is kind of a big deal to me.  It just makes me think that knowing how to take a test well and focusing on the highlights might be far more important than the hours spent on learning everything about the course (most of which won't be on the test).
It also makes me wonder how anyone could ever fail a law school exam.

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