Friday, June 11, 2010

New York-bound 0L should consider Fordham!

Above the Law did a nice little profile of a typical 0L who is headed to law school to kill time and ride out the recession. In New York, no less, where in addition to paying confiscatory tuition he can cough up for the ridiculous cost of living.

A lot of bloggers try to keep the kid-gloves on when talking about 0Ls. They think that by gently presenting the awful jobs data and sobering testimonials, 0Ls will see the light and reverse course. Prospective law students are really smart, right? Surely they can take these facts and arrive at a rational decision.

Apparently not, as prospective students continue to logjam themselves into schools and take the LSAT in record numbers. For every would-be biglaw associate over at top-law-schools, there are probably two or three times as many Ryan Kams. In my anecdotal experience from 1L orientation, those of us who frequented forums, blogs, and sites like, numbered perhaps 30. This didn't make us any smarter, but we had spent the past six months learning what OCI was and trying to one-up each other on our reasons for going to law school.

This would-be 0L doesn't even feign an interest in "the law."
"As far as I'm concerned, evading the real world for a little bit is not a bad idea, especially with the current economic climate," Kam says. "Law school is a great way to kill time."
Yes, it's also a great way to kill your future and finances.

Perhaps we ought to take it to Mr. Kam directly. This can be a case study in shattering the law school myth. His mom joined the service out of college when there were no job prospects, something that in retrospect I also should have done. In any case, more 0Ls need to be taking a serious second look at a J.D. They can start by not believing the self-published employment and salary numbers schools put out. How might they find out what it's really like? Talk to the actual students.

One intrepid 0L over at TLS is on the right track:
“[H]ow would T20-40 grads at median be getting halfway decent jobs... ... ::bites lip:: ... are T20-40 grads at median finding decent law jobs???”
Glad you asked! And the short answer is no. I do give you props for asking, and for assuming that you'll be near the median at a mid-ranked school. Ten points for realistic expectations.

Let's take a look at one of these schools, number 34-ranked Fordham. While previously the top third of the class could look forward to good jobs, these days they're all screwed. And let's not forget what the bottom 2/3 of the class must have gone through, even before the recession. (This would include students at the median.) For only $62,000 a year, prospective students like Ryan Kam can also go to law school and end up working for free, or for $9/hour, like the poor souls in this article. Fordham self-reports 85.3% of its grads as employed, so you might still have a shot at an unpaid six-month volunteer position!

But hey, Fordham can't be THAT bad. I mean, Michael Clayton went there. Plus, it's in New York and is probably right up Mr. Kam's alley. Every prospective 0L who thinks they can hibernate near the median for three years in law school and emerge after the winter of recession, please listen to those who have gone before you:

"I mean, it's not just this summer we're talking about, this is the rest of our lives."

I couldn't have put it better myself, anonymous Fordham 2L. Perspective might be hard to come by as a 22-year old. It certainly was for me, and look where I ended law school!


  1. If he just wants to spend 3 years avoiding work, he can either A) look for part time retail work (we're talking 10-12 hours a week here, virtually any place will hire you for that and it won't be that bad) or B) travel somewhere outside the country and live cheaply.

    The problem with law school is that you are paying a premium to not gain anything. It's not like you are just paying living expenses here, you're being gouged, totally suckered. There are better ways to ride out a recession if you're lazy.

    And yes, NYC is way too high cost of living. But you can hide out somewhere else in the state, the further upstate you go the cheaper things get. Borrow 10k from your family, just promise them you'll pay them back. That will last you a year or two in most parts of even the US. This makes considerably more sense than borrowing $70k for a year that you will be totally miserable.

    What people fail to mention is that law school sucks. The people are assholes, the professors are assholes, the work is boring and tedious and classes are just a hazing ritual. You will not enjoy it, seriously. Law graduates are like violent crime victims, they just block it out and don't talk about it but it haunts them for the rest of their lives and it's a terrible thing to happen to them.

  2. Sigh, this kid is so frakking clueless.

    Kill time? Kill time?!? Try frakking murdering time and strangling any prospects for non-law related jobs in the future.

    This kid deserves whatever he gets if he is so blithely going to mortgage his entire future.