Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Read it and Weep

The legal blog "Concurring Opinions" posed an open ended and extremely valid question to law students and law graduates:  "Why did you decide to go to law school given the current economic conditions?"

You can check out the comments.  There are 9 right now.  Here's a particularly painful one:

"I’m a 1L as of today. Honestly the decision to incur the debt was not easy. I did the research on those purporting the law school scam, read the materials on the inacuracies of U.S. News and World report data, and have spoken with a few lawyers about the bare job market. I do believe (possibly in error) that there are some jobs for those who work hard enough. I also recognize that there are very few jobs availible to those who only hold a bachelors degree. Compared to the legal job market ten years ago things are dire but sadly that is also true in most other job markets. Given the “rock and a hard place” employment options I chose to pursue law because interests me and I’m certain will challenge me."
Sigh.  He read the scam blogs and saw the data.  He even spoke to lawyers.  You know what they say about leading a horse to water... But Steve is right about one thing.  Law will challenge him.  Finding a job somewhere other than behind a cash register, paying off staggering debt and eating something other than ramen noodles will all be a challenge.  If you have to choose between a "rock and a hard place", why choose the one that leaves you with non-dischargeable debt?  The mind reels.

On another note, here is a particularly sane and sad comment:

"I went to a T20 school and graduated in 2009. I did well (honors) but am still under-employed. Many of classmates are in the same boat of under- and unemployment.
I went to law school because I believed the US News stats for my law school, which were apparently completely ginned up. (They base the numbers off the self-selecting group of alums who reply to Career Services’ inquiries). I’m in the Paul Campos/ATL boat of law schools being engaged in a giant Ponzi scheme.
When I talk to people who are going to law school, they’re shocked when I point them to blogs that highlight how bleak the situation is. Most law students go straight from undergrad. They’re busy partying, studying, doing what undergrads do. A NYT series, some blog posts in farflung outposts of the blogosphere, are not enough to break through the noise.
I think the general answer is: they are ignorant and they will get swindled as a result."

I've already gone over my poor reasoning for attending and staying in law school many times, but if you have missed those posts I think the name of this blog speaks for itself!  I feel bad for the people starting 1L this month, but the information is out there now to an extent that it was not when many of us matriculated.  And if all of those things named by the gentleman in the first comment I posted were not enough to dissuade him, it pains me to say that I do not know what can be done.


  1. "If you have to choose between a "rock and a hard place", why choose the one that leaves you with non-dischargeable debt?"

    That's it in a nutshell.

    Waves and waves illegal workers cross our borders, and they are not surrealistically deep in debt.

    Paradoxically, I am, as a result of Higher Ed./Law School

    None of it makes sense.

  2. I understand your disgust and frustration that someone can have the truth staring them in the face, and still plunge into the abyss. But what Steve is really saying is "I can't find a job, and I need to do something other than sit in my parents' basement, because a college graduate just sitting in his parents basement is considered pathetic. So I will roll the dice."

    He calls this gamble "working hard," but we all know that this is nothing more than a synonym for betting $150k+ on black that he will be the "lucky" one chosen to work 80 hour weeks in BigLaw for a couple of years until he is Lathamed. If the other option is extended unemployment or underemployment (likely with about $40-$50k of debt already for the useless undergrad degree), then the gamble seems less desperate. It at least postpones the desperation for a three years.

  3. The 1L comment to me says: "It can't happen to me. I'll be one of the lucky ones."


  4. Went to dinner two weeks ago with a friend who is now a 3l at USC's Gould School of Law. For the classes of 2009, 2010, & the recent 2011 class, at least a 1/3 are simply un-employed, another large amount, which my friend did not know, were under-employed. This is at a top 20 Law school, and a school that arguably has some of the best networking in the nation. This same friend pointed me to these blogs, and I am both saddened and angry that we are just making an entire generation of able bodied and smart individuals indentured servants.

  5. Anonymous said...

    I am "self employed anon" and back for this reason only. I have a challenge for my apparently "esquired/ticketed" but unemployed, and, by my estimate, unemployable-because-of-your-lack-of-work ethic brethren. Would you be willing to come on radio/TV with me to debate this? I will shortly be re-entering the broadcast medium after a 1 year absence and would love to discuss, and take audience participation on those things discussed on this blog. Rose? It's your blog. Are you willing to own your opinions? How about the others. Unfortunately, there will be a 17 second delay so some of your more inarticulate and offensive comments won't make it on air. Any takers? If so, I will provide contact information.
    August 23, 2011 12:47 AM

  6. "Self employed anon" - I have a blog dedicated to my opinions. If people want to use my anonymity as a factor in assessing my credibility, they are free to do so. For the sake of my future career/employers, and especially for the sake of my husband's career, I choose to remain anonymous. So I will have to decline your offer. I value the freedom that comes with anonymity. So do you, presumably, since you comment as "Anonymous". Good luck with your return to broadcast. Perhaps someone commenting here is interested. Or, you can try leaving a comment on some of the other blogs on my blog roll and see if any of them are interested.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. What a naive comment by Anon. To describe the out of work professional class as "unemployable-because-of-your-lack-of-work ethic" is absurd at best. As mentioned in previous posts, I've served as hiring manager for several position, including those in involving a legal background. One job post brings hundreds of resumes and round-about networking to me solicitations. Most applicants are very well qualified, often coming from top 20 schools with high GPAs or law firm experience - some even showing a large track record of business development. It's just a matter of supply and demand my friend.

  9. I am moving to Canada in a few months due to the student loans in the US, which I cannot pay and can no longer defer, as well as because of a job market that provides no job with income sufficient to pay back those loans. Having completed my undgrad degree and law school, my loans now total over 200K. With law school tuition roughly $43,000/year on average and living expenses(rent) being $10,000/year, law school easily accounts for most of my loan balance. After having taken the bar and applied to over 10,000 jobs(yes, 10,000) within the past year, I have only been able to find temporary work that pays $15-20/hr, which in no way covers my loan payments, which alone are over $1600/month. Seriously, the MATH IS NOT THERE. I work two jobs now and can't make it here. All of this nonsense about the American Dream and social mobility and the value of education is GARBAGE.

    Some people have even suggested that I should have worked my way through school or saved up the money for law school!!! HA!! If I had a job that allowed me to save up over 200K for law school, don't you think that I would have stayed in THAT job.

    Others have suggested that I should have anticipated the risks. Well, no one tells you that the law schools fraudulently manipulate the numbers they release to US News and World Report. Having now worked in the admissions office at Georgetown Law School, I can tell you that the school cherry picks the data to only use the high-paying individuals....and then actually has the nerve to hire people part-time in a temp position for 4 weeks so that they can count those people as employed for the purpose of the survey. Further still, they count people working in fast food and who have no legal jobs as employed for the purpose of the survey. THAT IS FRAUD. Basically, I along with many people were sold on lies and dishonest stats, which we used as the basis for our investment/risk. This issue deserves a wikileaks-styled espose in itself.

    Move to Canada where the US has NO JURISDICTION over your loans. Start life anew and watch the US economy collapse under the weight of its own lies. Enjoy this life; this is the only one you have. I chose to follow the rules and believe the popular mythology about education debt being good debt. Rather than squander year and year....month after month....trying to find solace in entertainment, books, music, friends, family and that old adage "things will work out"....wake up and get the hell out while you can. You owe it to yourself as a HUMAN to have no allegience to anything or anyone that would suppress your humanity, making you a slave to an orchestrated, bureaucratic fraud that is so large that the contemplation of it likely makes even my short message here seem exaggerated.

    Don't trick yourself into saying this is all YOU. You know what you are feeling, and your brain has already made you keenly aware of what is not working. The powers-that-be have already fooled you once. Don't go on fooling yourself.

    WAKE UP and get out.

    Yes, it is that bad. (Remember, DO NOT FOOL YOURSELF...USE YOUR BRAIN and YOUR SENSES)

    It is time to follow your own path rather than follow the misguided directions of others that served only to line the pockets of your schools and the bankers, who now make interest on the money that was loaned out.

    You can punish them by listening to yourself.

  10. Here here to 12:10! You may want to try a live/work arrangement on an organic farm (Google WWOOF Canada). And I always recommend reading blogs such as

  11. from " self employed anon"- Rose- I remain anon b/c your readers/responders have shown a vitriolic response that is irrational, and unlike them, I have to run a business and actually make money. I have to protect my business from your wack-job posters who would attempt to damage my bus. via social media. I assumed you were younger than me and media savvy re: repercussions: apparently not.

    errrrr, so I take it that you guys talk the talk but are unwilling to step up and defend the reason why you refuse to take steps to get employed in the legal field. Enough said. Good bye and good riddance. I have to hire 2 new employees (1 atty) in the next month and will be asking them to turn over all social network passwords. If they participate in this AMAZING bunch of circle complaints, they will NOT be hired.

  12. "I assumed you were younger than me and media savvy re: repercussions: apparently not."

    So your reasons for choosing to stay anonymous are the same as my own. You have a business to run, and I have a job search and a spouse's career to consider.

    But I join you in celebrating your departure. One can only hope it is for real this time, since you have threatened to leave before and, regrettably, you resurface each time.

  13. A legal career is advertised as a meal ticket into the upper-middle class. Regrettably, law school is a financial, career, and psychological assrape.

  14. Hello, I never went to law school, but I have a bachelor's degree in social work and am employed (thankfully) in a city agency. Without an MSW you can't really go far in this field and I applied, and was accepted, to a very well known social work school in my city. Problem is, the tuition is over $30,000 a year! I was given some financial aid, but I would have to take out over $40,000 in loans for the program. (Some) lawyers have the potential to make good money, but few social workers ever make over $60,000 a year. After thinking about it I decided not to go. One of the administrators at the school said she was "disappointed" that I decided not to attend. Yeah right, you're upset that you are not going to see that ca$h!

    My point is -- these education scams are all over. Law school grads aren't they only ones getting ripped off. Good luck -- I feel your pain!

  15. turde has a way with words. I love the righteous anger. Go with that, and help us continue to punch the law school pigs right in their filthy, slimy snouts.

  16. To Social Worker Anon: Thanks for pointing out to this "gang" of angry birds that jobs for the educated in all disciplines is problematic right now. Law is not the only job market that is suffering. Personally, I wish they would stop blaming the law school for their poor choices. They knew they didn't want to be lawyers, but they signed up anyway! They knew it would cost upwards of $100,000.00, and they signed up anyway! Now they are suffering from buyer's remorse and have held this infinite pity party in the name of Ms. Rose (who should be called Rose, J.D., and not Rose, Esq., since she is not licensed anywhere).

    I have never heard of a law school promising a student a job! In fact, I have never heard of any school promising a student a job! Where is your contract that said at the conclusion of your third year you would be employed with blank big law firm with a starting annual salary of $175,000.00??? No really, where is it???

    As for self-employed anon, I do understand why you return to this blog. It is a bit like watching a car accident. It's wrong to look, but how can you not??? LMBO!!!

  17. I am also grateful for the social worker's comment. He is 100% right - law is not the only field that is struggling, and I have never claimed that it was. Neither have the other scam-bloggers. But that is all the more reason not to waste your money on a "professional" degree in an attempt to wait out the poor economy.

    The law schools do not explicitly promise anyone a job, but they misrepresent employment and admission data to intentionally make the employment situation appear better than it actually is. Tell me, Anonymous @1:46 - do you think that is acceptable? Maybe you do, and if so that is really sad. But it is what is to be expected of shills and apologists.

    As for using "Esq" in my blog name... it's just a pseudonym. Is your name "anonymous?" Esq. just looks catchier than "JD" to me in terms of a visual tag line, but that's neither here nor there. When I started the blog I did not have a JD yet, so that's a moot point. And in any case, "Esq." as a designation actually does not have independent legal significance. Anyone can throw that at the end of their name, as long as they are not attempting to engage in the practice law and convince others that they are licensed to practice by doing so.

    And last point: even if you are totally correct and this blog is just a pity party for me, the fact is that people are showing up to my pity party and that is because the story resonates with people! The comments demonstrate this, as does the volume of email I receive. Why don't you start a blog about what a great investment a law degree is? We'll see how many takers you get.

  18. Such a defensive posture Rose! Did I hit a nerve?

  19. If that tone came across as defensive, you must be a delicate little flower indeed! But I'll bite - I think it is telling that you failed to answer my question. So, do you think it is acceptable for law schools to publish intentionally misleading employment, starting salary and admission data? I think it is reprehensible.

  20. Rose, I didn't fail to answer your question. If the facts are as you say, that law schools "publish intentionally misleading employment, starting salary and admission data," then of course its wrong! But if that's what drove you to apply for law school, then it only proves my point! You had no real desire to be a lawyer! Some medical schools publish data stating that a physician's starting salary can be anywhere from $200,000.00 to $300,000.00. Should we all sign up for the MCAT now?

  21. When I started law school, I had no idea whether I had a real desire to be a lawyer. That's my point. It's a huge investment to make with precious little information. At least with medicine, people pretty much know what they are getting into. They know the salary range and the job market. Plus, they are weeded about by the rigorous pre-med requirements.

    As for the misleading data, I would say it is enormously misleading to list your employment rate and median salary information based on an extremely low response rate from the graduating class, wouldn't you? This is common knowledge and not a theory that I concocted. The schools will claim near 100% employment within 6-9 months of graduation, with pretty high starting salaries. But they base it only on those graduates who respond to their survey, and the response rates are sometimes as low as 25-30% of the class. They would be better off saying that they don't have enough data to provide employment figures. But they don't do it because they know that no one would go, so instead they selectively put forth data (or, in the case of Villanova, falsify it all together).

  22. If law schools never posted a single statistic on the employment of their graduates, people would still sign up. I never read a single statistic about the employment of graduates before I went to law school, during my law school career, or even after I graduated. You know why? Because I wanted to be a lawyer, period.

    If you really didn't know what you wanted out of life, then you should have taken some time off to figure that out. Someone was turned down or wait-listed because you accepted a seat you really didn't want. And then to top it all off, you turn around and bash the law school, not because they didn't teach you the law, but because they didn't "give" you the "guaranteed" job they "promised" you in the data you read about. Are you kidding me???

    Your story is no different from the many people who get a degree in one field and decide to work in another. You're allowed to change your mind! So go ahead! Do something else. But if you signed on the dotted loan for student loan money to pay for that education you were unsure about in the first place, you deserve to have to pay back every penny! No one held a gun to your head! You did that all by yourself.

  23. I didn't say they promised anything. Read my post again. Did I use the word promise? I said their reported data was misleading, which it was. Nor did I ever say that I wasn't paying back my loans? Are you reading my posts, or are you responding to the voices in your head?

  24. Nor did I say you weren't paying back your loans! I said, "you deserve to have to pay back every penny!"

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