Friday, October 22, 2010

81% of clueless 0Ls would still apply to law school given horrible job outlook

From the NLJ today we have this depressing article wherein a small poll of prospective law students, taken this past summer, shows a whopping 81% of them are still content with going to law school even if there was a significant chance they would never be lawyers.
Veritas, a law school admissions consulting firm, polled 112 prospective law school applicants in June and July, and 81% said they would still apply even if "a significant number of law school graduates were unable to find jobs in their desired fields." Only 4% said they would not apply to law school under that circumstance.

At the same time, more than half the survey respondents — 63% — were concerned about finding a job after law school, and 70% said they were worried about finding a position in the field of their particular interest.

Now before someone starts sounding off about 112 fo0Ls not being a large enough sample, let's not kid ourselves. This rash denial of how bad things really are is one of the most common characteristics of all 0Ls. How else would they still be flooding into law school--in record numbers, no less--during a horrendous recession that has gutted the legal industry and left us with anemic recovery prospects? It takes a certain degree of self-delusion, right off the bat, to be a 0L in 2010. In fact, I'm a bit surprised that the 81% number wasn't higher, given the hubris and head-in-the-sand attitude displayed by many 0Ls. As we all know, unemployment and crippling debt may happen to their classmates, and is even likely to happen, but it still won't happen to THEM.

Even better, 63% of respondents are worried they'll find a job...so about half of even the 81% who said they still would have gone, are they themselves worried about unemployment. What is wrong with these people? The only conclusion I can draw is that they must be so disenchanted and burned out with the even-worse job prospects that an undergraduate degree allows these days, that they're willing to double-down and spin the wheel again for an extremely slim chance at a worthwhile payout. More insanity from the higher education casino.

But there are still more facepalms to be had from the survey data:
The grim employment news for recent law graduates does seem to be making an impression on would-be lawyers, however. In addition to worrying about landing a job, prospective students seem to understand that landing a $160,000 starting job at a major law firm is harder than ever. Only 11% of the survey respondents expected to earn more than $145,000 out of law school. Another 29% expected to earn between $100,000 and $145,000, while the remaining 44% expected to earn between $75,000 to $100,000.

Still, those expectations don't jive with reality: The latest new lawyer salary data from NALP show that 34% of reported salaries fell between $40,000 and $65,000 for the class of 2009.

Twenty-four percent of the survey respondents wanted to work as a public interest attorney, while another 21% wanted to work in for a major firm.

So a full 84% of these kids expect to make AT LEAST $75,000 right out of law school. Are these people high? Especially with only 21% of them wanting to work for a major firm (of which nowhere near 21% could possibly land the number of open positions at such firms). So 79% of these 0Ls, don't want to work at a major firm, but 84% of them think they will make AT LEAST $75,000 as their starting lawyer salary. Just shoot me.

I can't say what can account for the continued, mind-boggling resistance of 0Ls to the avalanche of stories coming out of the legal industry about how bad it is. First there were scambloggers, then mainstream websites, then legal media, and finally mainstream media outlets, have all reported, many times, on the diminishing prospects. Yet the lemmings continue on their insane death migration. There was a scamblog-esque story on the front page of USA Today a couple months ago...did you 0Ls not see that while you were eating your morning's corn flakes? It is next to impossible for any reasonably-well-informed young person not to have heard the bad news about law school.

These 0Ls, and the 45,000 of them who will show up in the Class of 2014, truly have no excuses. They know things are bad, they've heard about the systemic problems in the legal industry that makes recovery to pre-recession heights unlikely. They've seen the writing on the wall, they've seen the emperor standing naked and unclothed in the street. This boils down to pure, irrational self-confidence, helped along by a steady stream of lies from each particular school. Even in my day, before the horrible unemployment jokulhaups had truly struck, schools were quick to corral their new students in the auditorium and tell them that yes, things were bad, but that was everyone ELSE'S problem. You students at this particular Toilet of Law will be absolutely fine. Just look at our employment data! We will weather the storm.

I am running out of sympathy for these poor prospective students. Every day brings a new heap of information that should be setting off screaming red fire alarms in their minds. Yet they continue to march aimlessly forward. As this survey bears out, many if not all are aware that unemployment is three short years and -$100,000 away, but they refuse to believe it will happen to them. To their classmates, sure, but not to them. It's maddening, however, it is no reason to stop fighting the good fight. Some enlightened 0L out there has got to be listening...and if not, well, I welcome him as a reader in three years.

16 comments:

  1. Well, what's happening here is the kids are still buying the "fallback"-oriented selling technique used by a lot of people in regards to law school, i.e., that the degree is, in and of itself, a "booster" of some kind for you vocationally if the practice of law doesn't pan out.

    Whereas, nothing could be further from the truth for unconnected types without prior significant work/professional experience/contacts outside law practice. Such a basic misunderstanding can on a certain level be understood given that this generation is being raised primarily by early Boomers for whom education, almost all education, was per se of great value and offered decent payoffs relative to cost. They're still operating under the aegis of their parents' outdated views on higher ed.

    The kids do not understand that, for most of THEM, lacking said significant experience, the JD will be a crippler with non-law employers. They will have their collective asses grilled by Human Resources, as they desperately seek that coveted, post-TTT position managing a Toyz-R-Us, as to why they are not "practicing law" and about what is "wrong with them" for "turning down" the lucrative, ever-glamorous practice of law.

    They have been thoroughly warned on these august scamblogs as to what may happen in this vicious, prestige-driven and unforgiving job market. Best of luck to all.

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  2. Yes there are always law students happy about being on the chosen path. Remember law school is a time when you don't practice the law everyday, and you are so busy with stupid law reading, briefing, and arguing that you don't have too much time to think about implications. Also by the time someone is in law school, let's face it, its way to late they are stuck on the money pit train.Its generally takes 5 to 10 years from the law graduate to realize the folly and craziness behind law school. I will not assume all will look for non-law jobs; its always been a some will and some will not get law jobs opportunity--no sure things.

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  3. These people are simply too stupid to be trusted with complex legal matters. In fact, most of these cretins are too dumb to be entrusted with a run-of-the-mill DUI.

    They KNOW that legal jobs are disappearing, but they have faith and confidence in their own abilities to land legal employment. "I have no connections, no one in my family is an attorney, and I don't have money - but I will catch a unicorn and ride it into the sunset."

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  4. People this stupid fully deserve the fate that awaits them. It's called natural selection. Bye bye stupid lemming with no future, you now have $200k in debt and no job prospects.

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  5. @10:28 is correct, and the message cannot be repeated enough.

    A Law Degree prepares you for Law only.

    NO company (with few exceptions) outside of Law will want you with the JD on your resume.

    You can increase your chances of landing a non-legal job by leaving the 3 years and the Law Degree off the resume, but that is problematic because it is a very large omission and can be viewed as unethical by your non-legal employer.

    Then there is always sales. And here is the skinny on sales:

    The car dealership or insurance agency or stock borker agency will hire you becaue they figure you have family and friends as contacts.

    You will sweat out a sales job for a year or more, until yousell to your mother and aunt and uncle and sisters cousin's brother, and use up all of your charity contacts, and then you will not be a "Producer" anymore.

    So you will be working in sales for no paycheck and either fired or quit out of pure starvation.

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  8. Did you catch the WSJ Law blog article on Law Schools and employment data?

    http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2010/10/19/on-law-schools-and-employment-data-is-the-aba-the-answer/

    I think it would be great if everybody went over and commmented, and the number of comments went from 16 to 16,000.

    Maybe the WSJ would realize this is a big deal and do a bunch more stories....

    just a thought.

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  9. I have to agree with Nando, anyone capable of making such an irrational, illogical and self- destructive decision should not be entrusted with a client's future well being or money.

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  10. I almost went to law school in 2007 - I would be close to graduating right now.

    It took me until the last minute to decide not to get a JD. I read some of the early blogs that were out there and put 2 and 2 together. It didn't take rocket science to work out that perhaps the legal field was not going to be a golden ticket.

    Instead, my wife and I moved half way across the country to a no-income tax state. I became a Petroleum Engineer in Houston, Texas. Best move I ever made.

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  11. I too almost went to law school in 2007. I can't say I didn't go because I was scared of the debt (which I did think of) but for other reasons. Instead I went to library school and, while I'm still in debt, and working at a paraprofessional job, boy, it could be so much worse. I feel for everyone. :(

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  12. Part of the issue is that the vast majority of these bloggers complete morons. It's hard to take someone seriously that complains that is clearly clueless. If you are seriously trying to dissuade people from going to law school, maybe alarmist tactics and gross exaggerations isn't the way to go. I feel like if simply changing your title from "the law school scam" to "why law school isn't worth it" or something along that lines will give your argument a whole lot more credibility.

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  13. I myself am a 0L. The reason most go even after seeing the situation is simple. Degrees in Humanities. Plain and simple. Double majors minors etc. I wish now I would have minored in Spanish, it would have been far more useful than adding on my Poli-Sci minor in last two years of undergrad. I even stayed an extra year to participate in moot court. I have been putting off law school to evaluate the market and due to what I see I won't be going. I had intentions to start my own firm with the realization that it would be a business move based on local competition. Now with legal process outsourcing this seems to be a foolish move as well. I currently have my own business and plan to start another one not in the legal field. We need to start finging jobs for individuals with these degrees, I knew what I was doing was non-vocational training. Others do not.

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  14. I always say that the biggest beneficiaries of law schools are NEVER the law graduates, but the law firms and other employers of law graduates.

    Another beneficiary of law schools is the faculty and the administration running the law schools.

    In this capitalistic society, why would the law school industry in general make the law graduates the biggest beneficiaries, when the people running the law industry are law firms, employers of law graduates, and the faculty??

    As a corollary, college education in the US mainly benefits corporate America, who are the employers of college graduates. Education in America produces workers for corporate America, not citizens for the society.

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  15. Admission to the bar = license to print money. I couldn't find a job after graduating from law school in 2009. Quickly found out that attorneys don't need jobs...just clients. Do a good job & you'll get more. Finding the first few are a bitch, but a person who presents well & takes a bit of initiative should have no problem making it.

    Have no connections? Make some.

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