Monday, July 5, 2010

The Battle for a 0L’s Soul

Over at the Minnesota Lawyer blog, they actually do a good job of regularly posting articles about the horrible prospects for J.D.s . Thus, I was a little disappointed to see a post seeking advice for a prospective student who wants to decide which local TTT to attend. The result is an ongoing comment war between supporters of TTTT Hamline and TTT William Mitchell. The lost soul who originally asked the question let it be known that she is 100% set on going to law school, so we should not try and dissuade her. She merely wants to hear about the relative merits of these trash bins when making her decision.

As a Minnesotan myself, I feel particularly well-suited to add my two cents on the matter. I applied to William MiTTTchell and St. TTThomas (but not fourth-tier Hambone) when I was a wayward 0L, although I thankfully wised up and made it into the presTTTigious UniversiTTTY of MinnesoTTTa, home to the 30%-employed Class of 2010. St. Thomas actually had the decency to offer me some big bucks, but it wasn’t enough to entice me. Mitchell had the audacity to expect me to pay sticker price to attend their spittoon of law. (The U came through with a scholarship after all. Not like it made any difference in the end.)

Nando over at Third Tier Reality has already done a great expose of the two dung heaps of law that our poor 0L is considering, so I won’t go into the details of how much they will pillage your finances and/or soul.

Minneapolis-St. Paul is a funny legal market. With four law schools in this mid-size city, 1,000 new J.D.s are defecated out into this oversaturated field every year. Minnesota as a state has one of the highest lawyer per capita ratios in the Union, despite it being pretty small population-wise. When I was considering law school, the general consensus was “get into the U of M or else your life will become a living hell.” Well, having gone to the U of M, and my life being even worse than I ever imagined, I don’t know how helpful this advice was. I can’t imagine how much worse things are coming out of the local TTTs.

In a market when T-14 graduates are getting screwed left and right, why would anyone seriously consider one of these dumps? I have to chalk it up to inability to follow the news, and/or "it won't happen to me" syndrome. In better times, Mitchell grads would have had a reasonable shot at eking out an existence in shitlaw or solo practice, but plenty of them still slipped through the woodwork. Hamline did even worse…it’s most prestigious grad is arguably a former local TV news anchor. In this market, students from the “best” school in town, which is generally agreed to be head-and-neck above its peers, aren’t finding jobs. How can any lawyer or law student in good conscience recommend a third-tier-toilet to a clueless 0L, who is looking for help?

The advice given to this 0L essentially devolved into a war between TTT cheerleaders who cite the “great practical experience” these toilets offer, versus disillusioned lawyers and graduates of these schools who are urging this 0L to reconsider.

The shills:
“Mitchell is known for its practical skills courses and clinics.”

“Mitchell has more alumni, which can be good for networking.”

“Hamline was a very good experience for me. I also had a lot of professors who were practicing or had recently practiced and were able to make legal issues come alive.”

“Making the choice between Mitchell and Hamline is simple: Mitchell is the better choice. I know many big-firm lawyers (and people in the government, and people at non-profits, etc.) who went to Mitchell and loved it. Mitchell is a fine school with solid legal education. And their career services people work very hard indeed.”

A nugget of honesty:
“But please reconsider. Mitchell and Hamline are both terrible choices for the vast majority of students. Almost everybody after graduation finds that their job choices are very limited, their career trajectories are flat, and they can’t get the kind of experience they want. . The very best people in any school will do fine. Chances are, I’m sorry to say, that you will not be in the top of the class.”

The best place for this wayward 0L to look is at actual recent grads of the schools:
“I’m a 2009 Hamline grad. I graduated with honors. I’m still unemployed. There’s a data point for you.
Good luck!
PS — it’s not too late to go to medical school.”

“Do not go to law school. The legal market is terrible, and it is going to keep getting worse: law classes are getting larger and larger. Top 1/4 students from UMN Law are having trouble finding jobs. You will be eaten alive unless those schools are offering you full-ride scholarships.”

“The legal market is terrible right now, no real news flash there. But if you are going to choose a MN school either go to the U and make sure to place in the top 25%, or go to Mitchell on a scholarship and place in the top 10%. If you can’t do that, don’t go to law school in the Twin Cities. And I’m not just saying that with regards to placing at a large firm, I’m saying that about having a chance at getting a legal job period when you graduate.
Hamline should never be an option.”

Which side will come away with the victory? Will the law school shills claim another bloody scalp from a hapless 0L? Will this woefully uninformed prospective student find her way to the scambloggers and others dedicated to exposing the law school scam? Classes are two months away, and the oilcan deans are busy making sure every seat will be filled with a warm body. Godspeed, "Jackie" the 0L, and may you see the light and run far, far away from law school.


  1. The amazing thing to me is that this same story is repeated over and over from every single state. Yet, no one seems to be catching on. I guess it's like one of those things where all of the lemmings have to jump off the cliff and at their last moment before drowning say, "Oh...wait...they were right...damn."

  2. The OL's problem can be summarized as follows:

    1) OL is told 1 out 100 lawyers ITE are successful.

    2) OL falsely believes he/she will be that unique person who will succeed where 99 others will fail (in the survey of 100).

    It is of no use to talk to these children. They feel like losers with their 170 LSAT and 3.8 GPA in Poli Sci when the best they can fetch in this economy is a retail or customer service position. So sure law school is the ticket. Look, I am a successful lawyer (it took me 10 years of 18 hour work days including weekends and a lot of luck to get there) who is constantly referred to by laypersons as an example of what their children can become with a JD. I laugh. I paid my dues when the economy was booming. ITE, going to law school with tuition prices the way they are is life ending. The only reason I have survived in this economy is not because I went to a T25 school. I am still at the firm because I have a book of business. I bring clients in. My legal skills are irrelevant. Law school doesn't prepare kids for the practice of law, much less acquiring clients. So what are kids given for a $150K degree? A piece of paper attached to life debt. If these kids want to fuck themselves over to chase an illusory dream, who am I to stop them?

    Two weeks ago I fired an associate with T14 credentials. He pleaded with me to get his job back including offering to take a salary reduction. I felt terrible for him but he wasn't carrying his weight. So much for a T14 grad nowadays. What good is it to have a T14 law degree when you are destitute and cannot even gain invitation to social events where you can brag about your "prestige?" The real world is vicious children. Law schools might as well write the bullshit language they include on a paper degree on a long piece of rope. At least you can hang yourself with your degree. That is all.

  3. If I may, I offer a middling approach in the recognition that some of these kids just HAVE to go to law school, for some strange reason. And that is, of course, go, BUT IF (as I say in my most "executory interest" fashion, heheh)you end up outside the top ten percent of your class 1L, drop the hell out. Do not pass go, do not waste time and money on a second year, no, it's over. Get out and go do something else, in the hope that this loathsome experience is out of your system. Plus, you will happily not have that largely unusable JD hanging around your neck to explain to your future non-law employers.

    Go into nursing, kiddo, or find a good, licensed plumber who needs a dependable apprentice. You will always work and earn.

    This generation MUST start thinking outside white-collar.

    Well done, Scammed Hard.

  4. "Go into nursing, kiddo, or find a good, licensed plumber who needs a dependable apprentice."

    Have you taken one of these paths? I don't ask to be sarcastic, but only because I am looking for people who actually have left the law in order to do something else. I often hear this advice on scamblogs, but other than Esquire Never, I rarely see anyone who has actually even attempted to venture into another field.

  5. Nando also did an excellent expose on the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minnesota. Don't confuse it with St. Thomas in Florida. Do a search on Third Tier Reality and you'll find it. It's arguably one of his best blog posts because a shill by the name of Chris Wheaton defends the institution! The comments section is priceless! 100+ comments!

  6. Sadly, if not this person than someone else. There is always someone less qualified who will jump at the chance to attend one of these toilets.

    Anon - as a practicing lawyer, I am always on the lookout for alternate career paths or business ideas. I have a few that I'm nurturing right now, and I honestly see more potential there than in the practice of law. Doesn't mean I will become a plumber (I don't have the skill set) but in a few years, I would be extraordinarily pleased if one of these ventures offered me a way out.

  7. July 6, 2010 11:27 AM

    That's a good and valid question, 11:27, and the answer is...yes. I became an electronics technician. Been working steady ever since. I gave up on the white collar concept, at least for me.

  8. Congrats, 7;48. Did you leave the legal profession in order to enter the electronics field, or did you avoid law altogether? If you left the law, I would be grateful if you would share the path you took to escape the law. Thanks in advance!