Law School Discussion

1L First Semester Grades

Re: 1L First Semester Grades
« Reply #20 on: December 01, 2015, 04:23:56 PM »
I essentially agree with you Citylaw, nothing worth doing is easy. I know people who have struggled for years to become firemen, airline pilots, etc.

There is one difference though: the cost. Most of them (with maybe the exception of pilots) won't take on the equivalent of a mortgage to take a stab at the dream. The debt that many law students will accrue in pursuit of their dream is staggering. That has to be taken into account, and makes it a different discussion than cops, firemen, etc.

I wonder if the issue is not so much that aren't job opportunities in law, but that there aren't enough of the right kinds of jobs for inexperienced new grads. PD and DA hiring (at least here in CA) is pretty damn competitive. They don't necessarily care about pedigree, but you better have some experience and connections. Those used to be relatively safe bets for new grads. Same with big firms. There are opportunities in my area for a new grad who has serious previous work experience and wants to strike out as a crim defense/family law/whatever lawyer, but as Loki stated that is VERY daunting for most new grads.

I think you also get a lot of people going to law school because they aren't really what else to do. They have a degree in History or Poly Sci, and law school sounds vaguely interesting. Besides, it's three more years of getting to be a student (no work!), and it's sort of prestigious.

Those people would be better off doing something else for three years. Getting a real estate license. Becoming a financial planner. Becoming a building inspector, you name it. I suspect that they make up large portion of the 50% who don't get jobs.   

Re: 1L First Semester Grades
« Reply #21 on: December 01, 2015, 05:08:40 PM »
Well pilot school, med school and the like are all very expensive the same as law school if not more.

Med School is 4 years, plus residency etc and far more costly than law school.

Cops and Fireman unlike the other professions are limited in to their income potential. There salaries are set and there is no real private sector Fire Department or Police Department so the cost is less, but the rewards are less as well.

You can make an insane amount of money as a lawyer, but it is extremely difficult and more often that not making money in the legal profession requires you to argue on behalf of things that are not easy to argue for.

Law school is expensive and undeniably is more expensive than it needs to me. In reality that ABA for all intents and purposes has a monopoly and they are abusing it as evidenced by the skyrocketing tuition, but this kind of thing is not that uncommon.

It is a far from perfect situation, but if you want to be a lawyer go to law school. However, realize it will not be an easy journey and you could end up being out 3 years and $100,000+ for the right to do a job your not interested in doing.

Is law school right for everybody? No.

However, people make mistakes and attending law school could be a terrible decision or a great one. If we knew how things would turn out life would be pretty easy.

Law school is pretty much like anything else it has its pros and cons. It is a not a career death sentence to anyone that attends nor is it a guarantee of a million dollar salary per year.



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Re: 1L First Semester Grades
« Reply #22 on: December 02, 2015, 07:00:41 AM »

But let's look at the specifics. I happen to know a lot about the medschool career path. But let me ask you- how many unemployed doctors do you know? Have you thought about why? Well, long story short, the AMA artificially restricts the number of openings. They run a match program for residents and med school graduates. In short, it's pretty much guaranteed employment. Maybe you might not become a dermatologist (cool fact- that's one of the hardest specialties to get into!), but you're going to work at a very good wage. Provided you don't wash out, and you don't hate being a doctor, it's a great investment. Period.

Becoming a pilot is similar. Now, a lot of commercial pilots really come from the military. Many people aren't aware that becoming a commercial pilot involves working at a commuter airline for many years making the equivalent of minimum wage- if you make it. But you know what the profession entails, and it's not hard to figure out.

The trouble with our profession is the combination of opacity, reputation, and supply. Let me go, briefly, through each.
Opacity- Most people don't understand what a lawyer does. They may have a vague idea from, say, Law & Order reruns or some other TV show. Or maybe it's just "three more years of not working after UG." But, assuming they even find a job, they don't realize what being an attorney really entails. If I had a dime for every 0L who said they wanted to be a "Mergers and Acquisitions Attorney" or "Human Rights Lawyer" then I could retire already. "Discovery" and "Due Diligence" are likely foreign concepts for them. The divide between civil and criminal law (and what that entails) or, even more importantly, transactional v. litigation or government v. private sector work? In house or firm work?
Reputation- Most people, again, have the vague idea that becoming an attorney gives you magical and increased standing in the community, just like a doctor, but without the blood and science. Eh ... not so much. Going to law school doesn't mean you magically get a corner office in LA or NY on the 42nd floor with a killer wardrobe.
Supply- There are too many JDs and too few jobs. Period. Even a public defender's job, now, is competitive. At the local PD's office, there were over 3,000 applications for a new opening (one to three years experience necessary) before they closed the process. No, it's not nearly as bad as it was four years ago- but it's still pretty bad.

And that's why I keep asking you not to post such optimistic assessments. I am perfectly aware that any career goal has its drawbacks; heck, think about getting a PhD in English with the goal of becoming a tenured professor! But people should very carefully consider the risk/reward ratio for law school. They should know that-
1. There is a decent possibility that they will never work in the legal profession (which means that if they go to law school, they should work their butts off).
2. It is an investment (which means that if they chose to go, they need to lower costs, unless they are going to a T14 school and are open to the possibility of working in BigLaw to pay off debts).
3. It is not glamorous (which means they should talk to a few practicing attorneys to get a feel for what actual practice is like prior to committing).
4. And they should never, ever, ever go with the vague idea that "A JD can be used for all sorts of things," or "I'm not sure what I want to do, so I might as well go to law school."

Re: 1L First Semester Grades
« Reply #23 on: December 02, 2015, 09:04:23 AM »
I think it all traces back to your point about opacity (great word). If people actually knew what lawyers did for a living, there would be less law school applicants hence less supply.

I think the point that Citylaw is making isn't so much "Hey, anybody can be a successful lawyer!", so much as if you possess certain attributes and skills you can succeed regardless of the statistical averages. In other words, you will be in that 50% of employed lawyers.

The problem that I see again and again, however, is that 22 year olds are very poor judges of their own capabilities. I'm sure that 100% believe that they will be successful, without a serious objective evaluation of their own strengths and weaknesses. How can that be instilled in them? I don't know. Special snowflakes don't like to hear that stuff.

4. And they should never, ever, ever go with the vague idea that "A JD can be used for all sorts of things," or "I'm not sure what I want to do, so I might as well go to law school."

This point in particular is noteworthy. I cannot tell you how many times I've heard this from undergrads or even law students. People greatly overestimate the value of a JD outside of the legal market. I mean, it is a useful degree and people usually look upon it favorably (in my experience), but unless you have other job-specific experience a JD alone is not going to land you a gig as Human Resources Director or Amnesty International Spokesperson, or Congressman.

Re: 1L First Semester Grades
« Reply #24 on: December 02, 2015, 09:19:46 AM »
Everything you say is true, but I don't think I am being overly optimistic, but I am not unnecessarily pessimistic either.

None of the paths are easy plenty of doctors I know can't believe that law school is only 3 years and you have the same rights as any other lawyer immediately after passing the bar. There is no residency requirement in the law, you can pass the bar and make a court appearance the next day. Furthermore, there is no special requirement to be a trial attorney like there is to be a surgeon and so forth or obtain one of the numerous specialties in the medical field. You are simply an attorney licensed to practice law. The day I swore into the California Bar I had as much right to represent a client in California as Chemerinsky did. Pilots similarly do not just get to fly commercial airliners after going through pilot school they have to go through all kinds of b.s. So in that sense law school wins in that once your in you are in, but there is no set path of what to do next, which is stressful.

Since those rights exists immediately there are plenty of jobs for lawyers in the U.S. South Dakota for example is paying lawyers to simply move there.

The problem is everyone out of law school expects a corner office in NY City and well that is not easy to get. Even now I live in San Francisco, but I don't want work in San Francisco I have to commute, but 20-30 miles out in the East Bay there are plenty of jobs for lawyers.

Anyone attending law school or any form of school for that matter needs to have realistic expectations.

Law school is not a golden ticket nor is any other form of education. Law school is also more expensive than it should be I will not debate that, which is why as you say costs should be a concern I agree 100% with that.

As you describe in your own post becoming a pilot is not easy and more or less you need to be in the military to start that career. Well the law is not much different JAG is actively recruiting for any ABA law grad and if you want to get some solid experience out of the gate JAG will do it, but you will be in the military and it is a sacrifice.

I was offered a job by Army JAG, which I turned down. However, it was available, but it was realistically an 8 year commitment and I could be sitting in a base in Afghanistan right now, which was a sacrifice I personally was not willing to make.

So if a licensed lawyer wants to get a job somewhere doing something as an attorney there are options. Every rural public defender office in California is hiring. Mendocino County. Tuluare County, has D.A., Child Support Attorney, Public Defender etc.

I could go on and on, but nobody wants to live in these places, but if you want to get a job and have a license to practice law it is available.

SF Public Defender though is booked and not hiring.

So there are jobs for attorneys, but the odds of a J.D. from some mid-level school with a 3.1 getting the corner office in the TransAmerica building with  $200,000k salary after graduation is not going to happen. This is true of even Harvard Grads.

Law school is difficult and getting a degree does not guarantee success, but if you have a J.D. and passed a bar exam and your sole goal is to get a job somewhere you can get one. JAG is an option, Move to South Dakota or some rural county somewhere and there is work. None of these are dream positions though.

Again this is true of all professions unless as I said earlier there is some easy to get, high paying, low stress, challenging when I want to be, glamorous job, that lets me take time off whenever I want. Please, please let me know and I will be eternally grateful.

Unfortunately, doctors, lawyers, nurses, cops, pilots, etc are classified as jobs that you "work" at. There is a reason it is called work and not fun. Work can be fun at times, but for the most if anyone in any profession was told you know what we will pay you $200k to not work and do whatever you want they would take it.

I think the issue is people in their bubble whether it be pilots, doctors, lawyers, nurses etc think their situation is unique, but it isn't. There are pros and cons and this golden job that I described above as far as I know doesn't exist, because if it did everyone would be doing it.  Again if it exists and I have been overlooking it for 32 years then let me know and I will walk out of this office right now and you should to.


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Re: 1L First Semester Grades
« Reply #25 on: December 02, 2015, 11:35:51 AM »

Allow me to illustrate with one of our former examples. If someone who is 14 years old tells you that they will play in the NBA, a person could reasonably note that this is a very difficult career path. Now, that doesn't mean it's impossible- some people, quite clearly, do make it! But perhaps that path is not for everyone.

So let's take generic student thinking of attending Golden Gate University (to use one example). Absent scholarships, his expected debt at graduation is approximately $260,000. After graduating, he has an approximately 21% chance of working at a law firm, an 8% chance of working for the government (this includes PD jobs), a 10% chance of working for some type of "school-funded" job (the school pays money to make their employment stats look a little better), and a 0% chance of a clerkship with the state of federal judiciary (really- they haven't placed one recently). They have roughly the same chance of being unemployed as being employed at a job that requires a JD. And, remember, that most of those JD jobs will make it hard to pay back the debt that was incurred.

The trouble is, a lot of people believe they are the unique and special snowflake. Here's the thing- unless someone was offered a free ride to Golden Gate, in this climate, *there is no way they should go there.* None. The debt/reward ratio doesn't make sense. But every year, 0Ls go there at full freight, get deep into debt, and graduate and either aren't employed in the legal field are struggle for years to repay their debts on low legal salaries. 

That's just common sense. You don't have to have a 180 and go to HYS to be an attorney (especially if you've seen the level of practice we've all seen). But you do have to properly value the money and the time to get the degree, and try to decide if, in the long run, it will likely be worth it. Some attorneys (me, you, maintain) find a high degree of satisfaction in their jobs. Others hate it. Prior to the 2007 correction, things were a little different; but, in good conscience, the only advice you can give a student thinking of law school is to *seriously consider the options*.

Re: 1L First Semester Grades
« Reply #26 on: December 02, 2015, 12:29:37 PM »
Again, I agree with everything, but not the numbers there are far more than 21% of Golden Gate Graduates that passed the bar working in law-firms right now.

The statistics for law school employment are absurdly flawed. As an example it requires you to report employment 9months after graduation. However, it is literally impossible for an attorney of GGU, USF, Santa Clara or any other California Law School or anyone taking the California Bar Exam after graduation to even be a licensed attorney until Mid-Late November.

Since graduation is in May there is no way for anyone to be a licensed attorney working in a law-firm until 7 months after graduation and Christmas is not exactly hiring season. Additionally, California Bar Passage statewide was below 50% if I am not mistaken.

So the numbers just don't make any sense and I do not agree with any statistics, because it does not take account any of these factors. If it was 18 months for all students of these schools that passed the bar exam then I am open to hearing those numbers, but the current statistical breakdown makes no sense.

Now should you go to GGU, USF or any of these schools excpecting to have anything handed to you? No. In fact, you probably will not have a glamorous job.

To use the 14 yr old example let hypothetically lets make him a 17 yr old is 6'4 220 pounds and moderately athletic and the 4th best player on his mediocre high school varsity team.

Is he going to make the NBA? Highly unlikely.

Is the kid going to be a division 1 starter? highly unlikely.

Is the kid going to be make a division 1 roster? highly unlikely.

Could the kid tryout and make a Junior College team somewhere in the U.S? Probably if he really wanted to seek it out.

Could this same kid then walk on or get a small scholarship to a D2-D3 or NAIA school. A little more difficult, but likely.

Could this kid then play in some league somewhere in Europe making $40,000 a year. Yes.

With all this experience could the kid then become a high school coach somewhere and make a living through baskeball. Sure.

Is doing any of those things easy? Is the kid willing to relocate to Weed, California for two years to play JUCO basketball and then play at Humboldt State for 2 years.

Then move to Germany while making scraps to play in an empty gym?

If he is then he can have a career in basketball if he really loves B-Ball.

It is a far cry from the NBA, but it is a living playing basketball.

This is the same for law students at these schools.

If you go to GGU and expect a Supreme Court Clerkship out of school, well not happening. If your open to moving to Mendocino County to be a Child Support Attorney and get your feet wet, because you really want to be a lawyer you can go on to make a living as an attorney.

That is my point. Is it possible to succeed from GGU, USF, Santa Clara? Of course.

Are you going to have an experience like Tom Cruise in the firm? No. not even if you are Valedictorian.


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Re: 1L First Semester Grades
« Reply #27 on: December 02, 2015, 01:12:51 PM »
Again, I agree with everything, but not the numbers there are far more than 21% of Golden Gate Graduates that passed the bar working in law-firms right now.


If your open to moving to Mendocino County to be a Child Support Attorney and get your feet wet, because you really want to be a lawyer you can go on to make a living as an attorney.

Two quick points. Statistics aren't everything, but ... I have seen you make this argument before, and you've never backed it up with anything. The statistics I see back up my anecdotal knowledge of the job market, as I have worked with law schools, worked with law students looking for jobs, and have hired for law firms. Stating "statistics are wrong" doesn't quite cut it.

Next, the point you miss is that even undesirable job opening are hard to find. Those PD positions, for example, usually require 1 year of experience ... from? And even when they are posted, they are oversubscribed. And if you get them, remember what I said about debt? Yes, you can work in public interest for a long while for loan forgiveness, but you *should be aware of that going in.*

I could never, in good conscience, *with the market as it is today*, recommend that someone go to a school like Golden Gate paying full freight. I just couldn't. If they lack the requisite abilities (given the current climate) to score well enough on the LSAT to go to a school like that on a significant scholarship, they need to seriously consider why they are going to law school. Because this is a gigantic investment. You don't normally tell people, "Hey, spend $260,000 and three years of life, and maybe you can find a job you don't want in a place you don't want to live for a salary that you could have received without the investment ... and that's if you're one of the lucky ones."

Re: 1L First Semester Grades
« Reply #28 on: December 02, 2015, 01:45:41 PM »
Basically, yea if you are a licensed attorney you can find a job, unless you a female dog and moan about it.

More than 15% of JDs who graduate remain long-term unemployed. That's the most recent statistics.

More than 30% of JDs who graduate and are employed cannot find employment in the legal field (you want burgers with that). That's the most recent statistics.

This is industry-wide. This is includes the best law schools (HYS) making up for, well, some of the not-so-good ones. This also includes the reduced class from 2012.

Short version- almost 50%. That's terrible. Which is a nice way of saying ... do not believe that. Law school is a great option for some people, and is the equivalent of flushing money down the toilet for other people. Please, please, please make sure you make an informed decision, and do not assume that there will be a job for anyone with a JD. That is not true.
And anyone who compares lawyer to medical (as I've seen Citi and a few others do) is just apples to oranges at best. Doctors have not only better employment rates, but the WORST doctor in their class will have MULTIPLE jobs begging them still (I know an MD in this very situation) plus their pay/benefits are FAR higher on even day 1 for them vs half a decade later for the lawyer, and almost never get laid off unless the lose their license (even if they should have lost it for killing people), its not at all comparable.

Re: 1L First Semester Grades
« Reply #29 on: December 02, 2015, 02:13:48 PM »
Again, Loki I agree with you.

To go back to by Basketball example, ending up as a high school basketball coach is not a glamorous job, but if you truly love basketball and that is your passion then that is great.

I went through a similar path in basketball and ended up in some crazy places and gave up more lucrative regular job offers to pursue basketball, because I loved it. However, at some point I decided I did not want to keep living in China going to obscure villages to play basketball getting by and hoping x-shady Chinese basketball owner would pay me after the game, which did not always happen.

However, I have friends that stuck with it and are now assistants at D2 colleges or in a high school and they are extremely happy. However, they are making $45,000 in Nebraska and getting by and hoping that one day they will get a head coaching job or maybe become an assistant in the NBA somewhere. There is no guarantee of it, but they are pursuing their passion. If you really love basketball that is great.

The law is similar and I think we both agree that you shouldn't incur the costs, three years of your life, etc to figure out if law school is for you. Instead, you have to really want to be a lawyer and unless your admitted to Harvard, Yale, etc I strongly encourage a law school applicant to get a Paralegal Certificate first and work in a law office. If after that experience they are still dead-set on going to law school, but Golden Gate at full freight is their only opportunity then I would recommend it.

If some kid out of undergrad just doesn't want to start work or likes watching Law & Order and can only muster a 152 on the LSAT and thinks sure why not go to law school. Then I would give that kid the same advice you are.

To the stats issue. I don't know how else to back it up. Law students graduate in May? Am I wrong? You cannot sit for the California Bar Exam until you graduate from Law School and the exam is in late July.

You then have to sit and wait like a jacka** until the Friday before Thanksgiving to get your bar results.

Then the typical law student swears in at their school ceremony in December.

If that is not the process then I really f'ed up, because I went through the purgatory of waiting for bar-results clerking at some b.s. places making $15 an hour as a "clerk" from August to November.

However, p I had several job offers that were contigent on me passing. I sat around like a complete jackass waiting for the f'ing aholes that grade the bar-exam to give me my results so I could start real attorney work, instead of hustling to make a $100 a week.

However, none of the real jobs wanted me to start if I was going to have to go right back to taking the bar exam. Why would they waste the time, resources and money to implement me into their work environment, which I was not even licensed to do until my results came out?

If there is a way to avoid that situation then I am an idiot, but very few jobs if any were eager to hire someone until results were out. With more than 50% of takers not passing the first time would you? If some kid came into our office right now and seemed great, but could not make court appearances etc and if we did hire them they might have to take 4 months off to study I would not hire them. Instead, I would hire one of the countless people licensed already as would any reasonable business.

Thankfully, I passed and I accepted a job offer, but did not start until mid-January, because after I passed I went on a trip. The last thing on my mind after passing the bar exam, going on a cross-country trip and starting a new job was filling out my employment statistics with my law school.  In fact, I never filled it out so I am likely one of the people listed as "unemployed" according to the statistics.

In all honestly, did you fill out anything after graduating? On top of the countless things I have to do everyday that is not my #1 priority. However, for some reason I spend time on this board, but I like it, however more productive uses of my time could be found, including filling out the stats, but I didn't do it. I personally don't know many of my classmates that did either.

In summary my personal experience is how I dispute the statistics and I don't think anything in my experience is that unusual.

So as usual, I think we agree for the most part.  If a OL is considering law school research everything and take the commitment seriously. Don't half ass a 3 year and $100,000 plus investment.

Furthermore, do not I repeat do not attend Golden Gate, USF, Santa Clara etc if you don't want to be a lawyer. That is one of the biggest issues I saw. I don't how many people at my school said oh yea I am in law school, but I don't really want to be a lawyer. "WTF?" Unless you have time and money to burn then sure enjoy the intellectual challenge it provides.

However, if your an undergrad student already $50,000 in debt that has never worked a day in your life and you scrap by with a 2.9 from Humboldt State and then eek out a 151 on the LSAT and GGU says hey we will take $200,000 of your money. Then I would tell that kid to do some research and work for a little bit to realize how much $200,000 actually is and see if the life of a lawyer is for them.