Friday, July 30, 2010

Unemployed TTT grads take the bar, then what?

Minnesota Lawyer gave us this dandy video featuring a bunch of recent TTT grads reflecting on the bar exam they were all about to take this week.

This video is part the of general coverage of the bar exam that happens every year. While asking banal questions like "how hard did you study, when did you go to sleep?" isn't unusual, it is sad that none of the TTT or TTTT grads featured in this clip mention employment, and those that do are most definitely UNEMPLOYED with no prospects on the horizon. It's just a LITTLE ridiculous, when these kids are swimming in debt and are totally unemployable, to focus on vapid questions like what kind of cereal they ate for breakfast before the exam. At least this year's TTT interviewees are just a bit less depressing than last year's.

Given that the four law schools in this small market spew out 1,000 new grads every year, things must be especially tough for TTT grads trying to find work. Despite its relatively small population, Minnesota boasts the 12th highest lawyer per capita ratio in the Union, with 11.2 lawyers for every 10,000 people. When even your local T-25, the University of Minnesota, graduates more than half of its Class of 2010 without jobs, one can only imagine how much more awful thing must be down in the TTTs, or especially at the local TTTT, Hambone University School of Law.

How long are these people going to allow themselves to be scammed? After suffering through three years and tens of thousands of dollars' worth of hell, just to end up unemployed, it must feel great to be plunking down for bar review and the exam without having the slightest idea about where you will eventually find work. These folks from the lower tiers are, sadly, especially likely to never find work as lawyers. Nando has already given us a trio of excellent exposés about the dismal employment prospects offered by these law school puppy mills. I must grudgingly admire the irrational optimism that these grads display in continuing on the road toward lawyerdom, but as a scamblogger, I know what awaits them. We've had a smattering of commenters from these schools show up on the scamblogs in the past few months, and none of them paints a rosy picture of their class' employment. In fact, they all agree that most of their former classmates are unemployed, indebted, and desperate. Yet the charlatans and book-cookers who run these institutions are still busy tallying the seat deposits and packing the next 1L class in time for the fall semester.

Ah, to be a recent and unemployed grad. No longer will the school shelter you from debt collectors, no longer will you be able to tell people you're "in school." No longer will you have access to any kind of job you might have been able to snag as a student (because it was cheaper to hire you part-time for $15/hour). Now, no one wants you. Thus begins the long, depressing decline into a broken state of misery. How long will it be before these poor souls attempt to slink back to their former employers, broken and distraught, but $90,000 in the red? With 1,000 new, unemployable lawyers to feed in Minnesota, my guess is that there will be a boom in well-educated Starbucks assistant managers, volunteer librarians, and applicants to yet more forms of graduate education in the coming months. A job well done for all concerned. Thank you, MinnesoTTTa law schools.


  1. I have a question: I've heard somewhere that if you take a class or two at the local community college, you are considered to be still in school and you don't have to make any payments on your loans.

    Is that true? And if so, why not just take community college classes forever?

  2. The funny part is how everyone is so stressed over the bar exam. This is also the last time career services will treat you like a semi-human being, as they'll tell you to just concentrate on the bar exam and not stress employment. You can probably ignore them if you want, but it won't matter anyway.

    Also that $90k will balloon to $110k within two years, I know because I've been deferring and that happened to me. I looked at the bill, I'd need to pay roughly $15k in student loan payments a year. That's a huge chunk of money, if rent, food and utilities cost you another $15k, you'd have wasted $30k before any other expense. That means you'd want at least about a $75k salary, so you have something at least left over.

    If you don't have that debt, a simple $40k a year job is actually better. I don't know how you'd manage on $40k but you'd have to. At least IBR finally showed up, I don't know how in the hell anyone managed before that.

  3. With the upcoming school year starting, maybe returning students should start culture-jamming the school. For example, in the school facebooks that are given to all the students, maybe groups of students should get a big black marker and draw a dollar sign ($) on each photo or place a huge dollar sign on every page of the facebook. How do you feel about the scambusting movement culture-jamming your diploma mill?

  4. If you are enrolled half-time in school (6 units), you can get your government student loans deferred. So I guess you could just keep going to school forever to avoid loan repayment. But this policy does not apply to most private loans.

  5. Why is this video titled "Minnesota Lawyer" and not "2011 Suicide Watch List" ?

  6. You can take half-time classes and kick the student loan can down the road indefinitely, but after 6-7+ years in higher ed and hundreds of thousands of dollars, could you even stomach paying the few thousand in tuition that would run you, and doing so "forever?"

    As for "suicide watch," check out the above-linked video from the 2009 bar exam. The 2010 kids are like happy-go-lucky flower children in comparison.

  7. To the first Anonmymous - yes, and that's exactly what I did before enrolling in another "real" master's program - but after I finish that and I'm still unable to pay my loans, I'll go right back to doing the same thing. All my private loans, save for my bar loan that I'm paying, are in deferment.

    Scammed Hard!, if I had to do this forever (which I might), dying and knowing that my crappy schools never ended up with any of my money would be pretty satisfying. Also, I've paid around $500/semester ($1000 per year, or less than $100/month) to take the required 6 credits for opposed to having to pay upwards of $2000 per month on my student loans (which would also hardly be taking care of the principal) - so yeah, I can stomach the cost of doing this indefinitely.

  8. To Jerry: I'm doing the same thing. If I have to pay money out, why not keep getting degrees and education that could benefit me, rather than giving Sallie Mae interest on my loans. I'm staying in school until I leave the country.

  9. I know this market well. As a former graduate of a TTT mill in this state, I had a 20 percent chance at Biglaw at best (citing Herwig Schlunk's study). There are 6 NLJ 250 firms in this area. We know who gets those positions (grads of T14 and the best at the U of MN).

    What you'll find is that a lot of graduates end up working or temping for a big legal industry player -- West -- at a fraction of expected "attorney pay."

  10. I'm on the school bus again, too - defer those loans! With IBR, they'll never get their money anyway! To the person who couldn't imagine how anyone could manage on $40K per year, you really need to adjust your expectations down, and down some more. Where I live, a family can generally get by on that much. They won't be living in a pre-fab yuppie McMansion, but they'll be living. I've adjusted my expectations and am happier and freer now.

  11. MANY law grads would be happy making $40K right now. Check out my Minnesota toilet series: