Tuesday, July 20, 2010

And you may ask yourself...

...how did I get here?

Dropping out has been on my mind even more than usual, mostly because tuition is coming due in about a month.

It is such a hard topic to get advice about, and I think that's because no matter who I ask, I know what the response will be. If I ask someone from one of the scam-busting blogs, they will tell me that I should definitely drop out. If I ask a friend or relative, they will tell me to stick it out for one more year.

Why is this so hard? It's not like dropping out of college. I have a college degree. This was, theoretically, supposed to be a bonus -- the cherry on top of my undergraduate pedigree. And now that I see that it is nothing more than a hindrance, it should be the easiest thing in the world to give up.

These posts from Scammed Hard and Esq. Never really got me thinking and forced me to ask myself what I am clinging to. It's not the "sunk cost" thing... those costs are what they are. I know there are no legal jobs, but I just wish there were any jobs, so I could feel that at least if I drop out I would be able to do something else within a reasonable span of time.

I guess this post really has no main point. I'm not exactly asking a question, but I do wonder if anyone out there has any thoughts or advice. I feel like every option sucks.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

This couldn't come at a worse time...

Here is an appalling post from someone who should damn well know better.

I used to read Above the Law when I was a paralegal at a big firm. It was a good place for law firm gossip, but I stopped reading it after I was no longer in the biglaw scene. I still check it out from time to time, however, and occasionally they come out with something interesting about the decline of the legal market.

Then comes a post by David Lat, whose writing I generally enjoy, making the case for law school. I respectfully but vehemently disagree with all five of his points. My responses to his points:

1) The lottery argument: Yes, when it comes to the lottery you “have to be in it to win it” but that hardly makes it a smart investment. Yes, you have to have a law degree to be a biglaw associate and make $160K per year starting salary, but the point is that so few people will achieve that, especially from the ever expanding pool of TTTs that it is arrogant (and na├»ve) to assume that you will be one of those people.

2) The “Go to law school if you want to be a lawyer” argument: This might hold water if the people applying to law school had any clue what being a lawyer entails. But I think the vast majority of 0Ls have no real concept of what law practice entails, or how bad the job market is. So a 0L's desire to be a lawyer is not worth much because it is quite often without foundation.

3) The “What else are you going to do?” argument: As my fellow scamblogger at First Tier Toilet points out in his response, this one is far and away the worst argument. Honestly, law is the only degree that people say this about. Not having a game plan for your career when you are a recent college graduate in your early twenties is NOT a good reason to take out a ton of debt just to narrow your career options further. I cannot say anything more about this particular argument or I will get too angry.

4) The “Not everyone has a ton of debt” argument: So what? Even if what he says is true and a full fifth of law school grads have little or no debt, that’s still 80% that do. Hardly a reason to go.

5)You can put “Esq.” next to your name: At $50K per letter, I could forgo the dubious honor.

The sad part is that ATL has a wider readership than the scambloggers, and this might be just the validation the 0Ls need, right as deposit deadlines are creeping up. Sigh.

Monday, July 12, 2010

LL.Ms.... the wave of the future?

I have to confess ignorance on this topic. I do not know much about LL.M. programs. But this past weekend, I happened to run into a classmate of mine. She mentioned her disappointment with the recruiting options available to us and expressed a desire to enroll in one of these LL.M. programs as a way of "waiting out" the bad market. I very politely inquired as to whether she really thought one year would make such a difference. She said she didn't know, but that it couldn't hurt.

Not knowing anything about the relative job prospects for LL.Ms versus JDs, I am going to go with my instinct and say that this is just a way for schools to extract more tuition money from students. Maybe someone more knowledgeable about this area can chime in. Who knows? Maybe some day a JD without an advanced legal degree will be functionally obsolete. Until then, I am willing to bet that the person who advised her to do this is a law school employee.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The end of the world as we know it...

Here's an article on one particularly abysmal legal market.

Once again, a swing and a miss in terms of getting to the actual point. The author comes extremely close to writing a great piece on the state of the legal market, at least in one city. Now I don't know if this is a flaw in the article or in the presentation/layout, but the site chose to use as it's photo/caption a picture of a smiling girl in a business suit, holding law books. The caption tells how this young woman was warned about a bad job market and yet still received multiple offers.

THAT is what the Philadelphia Inquirer thinks is the take-away from that article???

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Almost Doesn't Count

I know this article is a few days old, but I am just seeing it.

It's a good article, overall, but like so many of the other articles in the mainstream media that touch on this subject, it falls short. Essentially, almost everything that the author says is true, but law degrees are not mentioned by name. She does say that degrees in finance or business are still in "hot demand" but I don't think that is necessarily true. I know a few people with advanced business degrees who have had a lot of trouble finding jobs, and an even harder time finding jobs that justify having gone to school and earned that degree.

In short, I wish the author had gone further with this, but when it comes to our "movement" all press is good press.

Sidebar: I was complaining to someone today about the dearth of law jobs and how frustrated I am that I have essentially locked myself into this profession. Her response: "Well, at least a law degree opens a ton of other doors. It is an asset in any field, really." For some reason, that particular line goes THROUGH me.

Question for readers: is there a particular line that you get that is your pet peeve?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Never-Never Land, aka 0L Message Boards

For the sake of my blood pressure, I am going to stop looking at 0L message boards. I don't know why I do it. Boredom, I suppose.

I can't tell if they are being arrogant and assuming that the bleak statistics quoted by the scamblogs are true but just won't apply to them, or if they simply do not believe the statistics and think that the scambloggers/posters are mere trolls. When I was a 0L, I suppose it was a little of both. I assumed that the scambloggers were embellishing, but I also assumed that even if the numbers were true I would find a way to be successful at it. Ah, starry-eyed optimism.

Maybe the best advice to give prospective law students, rather than "Don't Go!" is just "Wait." I think that this is the advice that would have had the biggest impact on me when I was applying. No one likes to be told that they will not be able to succeed at something, even if it is true. Maybe we should be telling the 0Ls, "If you have a job in this economy, keep it. Wait a little longer. If you still have a burning desire to go to law school in three years and your circumstances allow for it, then go." I am willing to bet that a very high percentage of people who take that advice will end up reconsidering, and end up rejecting, the idea of law school.