Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Missing the big picture...

Like most current law students, I flip through “The National Jurist” when I'm bored It is usually right there between classes. One of their features is called “Good and Bad.” In this feature the editors name people or institutions who had either a good or bad month and why. Apparently, January was a good month for prospective law students. Before you get too excited, I checked and this does NOT mean that they are shutting down TTTs, lowering tuition, or providing more transparency in employment statistics.

According to the National Jurist, prospective law students had a good month for two reasons: the University of Delaware announced that it hopes to enroll students in a new law school by 2015, and Kaplan is going to open up a law school in Washington, D.C. Because when I think of American cities and metro areas that don't have enough law schools, D.C. is the first city to spring to my mind. And Delaware... while I'm not 100% familiar with the Delaware market, I know that in addition to Widener the Philadelphia area law schools send a fair number of their graduates to Wilmington. So I'm not sensing a huge unmet need for lawyers there.

Neither of these two stories are breaking news, but this is just an example of how out of touch people in the industry really are. Just because it will now be easier for prospective law students to get into law school does not mean that is a good thing for them. So I guess among other things it was a bad month for long term perspective.

In case anyone is curious, it was also a good month for “World Domination” due to the ABA considering accrediting foreign law schools. And no, I'm not being sarcastic.

NOTE: I could not find the “Good and Bad” feature online. It could be that it is only in the hard copy of the magazine.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Your Morning Outrage

Another warning to students contemplating taking on massive debt in this economy:

The ABA Journal recently reported on the plight of Hassan Johnathan Griffin, a recent graduate of Ohio State University Law School. He has $170,000 in law school debt, in addition to $16,500 in credit card debt. He is working part time at the public defender's office for $12/hour. As a result the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the Ohio Board of Commissioners on Character and Fitness, finding that Griffin has "neglected his personal financial obligations" in that he has "chosen" to work part time for the PD rather than pursue full time employment. Thus, he failed the character and fitness portion of the bar.

Are you there Common Sense? It's me, Rose. This is wrong on so many levels.

First, and most obviously, why should anyone drop $170K on training to become a lawyer (ha!) when they are going to be punished for that debt by being refused admission to the bar?

Second, do we honestly think this guy would be working part time for $12 an hour in the hopes of being promoted to a full time PD if there were other options available to him? Seriously, who would do that? Why wouldn't you just take a high paying job until the PD's office starts hiring again if that is really your dream job?

Third, I would say the title is misleading. This law grad has a plan to pay back his debt, it just hasn't played out yet because of the miserable job market. Instead of refusing people admission to the bar on these grounds, why don't we deal with the excessive number of toilet law schools? If we take on the over-saturation of the legal market, attorneys would not have to work part time for $12/hour.

Further coverage:

Jobless Juris Doctor
Above the Law

Monday, January 10, 2011

Great Start to 2011!

I'm coming into this a bit late in the game, but I am overwhelmed by the response I have received to the recent NYT article which included a link to Rose Colored Glasses. I think the article explores many important points. If there is a weakness, it is that the author should have mentioned more of the scamblogs such as "But I Did Everything Right!", Jobless Juris Doctor, and numerous others that I link to in my blog roll.

The fact that this movement is finally getting real, mainstream publicity makes me very happy. I have been accused by some of whining and looking for pity, or feeling entitled, but the fact is that if all this blog is is a chance for me to rant about how miserable I am in law school and the legal field, and for like minded people to respond in kind, it hasn't done anyone much good. The real point is to reach people who are CONSIDERING applying to or enrolling in law school and make sure that they really know what they are getting in to. I honestly don't think it is my job to be “fair and balanced” because frankly, the 0Ls get enough law school cheerleading in the echo chambers that are admissions boards. It is my goal to make sure that the pitfalls get any attention at all. The other side is well-covered and well-funded. It wouldn't be productive for me to pay token lip service to a bunch of pro-law arguments that I do not espouse.

While no one is entitled to a job, no less a six figure job, one thing that we are ALL entitled to is transparency when we are making a huge financial investment, and I would hope that even the law school apologists could agree on that. The more transparency the better, and the fact that the NYT article was the most emailed article yesterday can only be a step in the right direction.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Every silver lining's got a touch of gray...

I don't know if I have ever had such conflicted feelings about the end of an era in my life as I do about the start of my last semester as a law student.

On the one hand, I'm glad school is coming to an end. Law school is a generally miserable experience. I have met people who enjoy it, or at least claim to enjoy it, but they are few and far between. I'm tired of the charade and have been going through the motions for at least the past year. I am particularly tired of the arrogance and uselessness of the Socratic method. Fear of what comes after is what prevents me from being totally elated about the end of the era. And of course bitterness that I wasted so much time. It sounds strange to say but I just feel like I was so much YOUNGER when I started law school. And of course, I was. But that was two and a half years ago and I feel like I have aged at least a decade during that time period.

Once classes start up again, I hope to post more updates about my classmates' employment prospects. While I am not optimistic, I do hope for some good news. My sense is that career services has all but given up on the 3Ls who do not yet have jobs and is focusing on finding summer gigs for the 2Ls which (while painful) are not quite as hard to come by and thus give them a higher success rate.

Any 3Ls out there who can comment on the job market at their schools? My school is T2 for what that's worth.