Friday, April 15, 2011

The Law School Bug

It seems that many people seem to catch the law school "bug" at least once in their lives. Just in the last month I've had three friends tell me "im thinking of going to law school" or "I should have gone to law school." Despite knowing full well of my struggles in the past, despite all the things I've said, the articles, they still catch the law school bug. One of these guys inherited a gas station (including ownership of the land which is a huge plus) and he's been talking about taking the LSAT for the last couple of weeks. I'm like "you fucking moron, don't you ever listen to a word I say?" His response is, "hey man, I'm the gas guy, you know what I mean? I want something better." I told him to take his LSAT, have fun wasting your time and money, and to get back to me once he gets his score. Sigh..


  1. I used to argue with people who want to go to law school, but after a while I started saying quietly, "That's probably a good idea. You SHOULD go." It's impossible to say this without a smirk (try it, you'll see) and that creeps them out. To date, not one person I've agreed with has gone.

    On the other hand the people I argued with just went into super analytical, "No I can MAKE THIS WORK" mode, no matter what I said. One of these types was especially fun - she went from, "I'll go to a top 3 school so there will be absolutely no worries," to, "Well, a top 10 is really just as good," to, "A state school will still give me the same education and I'm sure to be in the top of the class," and I haven't heard from her since school started, but rumor has it she dropped out and is back at her old job.

  2. @9:46. I sell items on eBay part-time when I'm unemployed (currently) or underemployed as an attorney. I mentioned that I was unemployed to the postal lady today and she seemed rather sympathetic, but when she subsequently asked me what I did for a living (attorney), her demeanor suddenly changed. The impression I get is that she thinks all attorneys are making serious bank. Everyone thinks that the pasture is always greener on the other side. I'd tell your friend to keep his gas station. He can always find some other hobby to make himself feel "smarter" than going $150,000+ in debt with no job prospects in sight.

  3. Your friend is a landowner and a private businessman. "I want something better." Seriously, you want something better than landowner and (presumably successful) business owner? And you think "lawyer" is something better?!?!?!

    No way. Successful businessman >>> associate attorney.

  4. Reminds me of an old story when I was right out of college. I thought because I liked going to bars, I should work in one. My brother said, "Don't be a dumb-ass. Get a real job (in this case, it was sales, not law, that was later), and go to all of the bars you want with your money." It was the best advice he probably ever gave me.

    Your buddy is a potential client, not a lawyer. Tell him the following, word-for-word: "You ever think you need a lawyer, hire one. Trust me, there are much easier ways to make money."

  5. There is really no point in trying to convince people out of the law school scam.

    I used to do the same thing out of the kindness of my heart. Outside of 1 friend who actually saw the light, I was met with nothing but utter disdain and contempt. In my case, I ended up doing pretty well in the legal field after law school. The fact even I was trying to espouse the degrading value of a JD should have spoken volumes but alas, it didn't.

    Personally, I have no qualms towards people who went to law school before the scam blog movement and when a TT JD was able to get you a decent position after graduation.

    However, the blogs, the anecdote stories, and even main stream media articles are out there now. If these lemmings can't do proper due diligence and put 2 and 2 together, that is their own damn fault.

  6. Hey Sub Prime,

    i have noticed that you are of Greek descent and from the So Cal area. Are you familiar with Papa Cristos, right near Saint Sophias? I am going to use this place as a perfect example of someone who has done well doing what they know best. For some people, what they know best is real estate, others, plumbing, or even being an attorney. If you have the requisite skills that it takes to be a good attorney, by all means go ahead and do it. However, unlike these other professions, law school doesnt teach or really help you realize if you do have the lawerying skills. Keep it up sub prime

  7. The bug will die out in just a few more years.

    Remember, for several decades, a JD was a ticket to a stable middle-class life or better, exactly as promised. As recently as 2008, before the crash and the ABA outsourcing ruling, there were government jobs for plenty of entry-level JDs, and big long-term doc. rev. projects for the rest.

    What I am saying is that law school is something that used to provide real opportunities and only recently became a total scam. The mystique persists for a short time after the reality vanishes, like the Cheshire cat's grin. But that fades too.

  8. Subprime,

    You have done well. Maybe your friend admires you.

  9. anon @ 1:02 said

    "However, the blogs, the anecdote stories, and even main stream media articles are out there now. If these lemmings can't do proper due diligence and put 2 and 2 together, that is their own damn fault"

    What you say is true but the lemmings need even bigger warnings. Eventually, some law grad owing 200k in student loans that is working at pizza hut will be featured on 60 minutes or some other prime time show. It's only a matter of time as momentum is moving against the law schools.

  10. Well...I'm not sure I am willing to place blame on "lemmings." I think it more complicated than that. I can't obviously go into all the psychology of why people pursue "futile" enterprises. I don't know myself. I can only speak from my own experiences.

    From what I gather, kids are indoctrinated from very young to see school as the only "key" to a prosperous future. It is very hard to undo that process without a hard dose of life's disappointments. Even our parents encouraged us to go and get these degrees. I see now they were not wrong. They simply see things a bit differently, because opportunities that were available to them, may not be here for us.

    Many of the Doc Review jobs that were bread and butter are gone to India or technology. Firms are downsizing and are no longer the sustainable path for the vast majority of JDs. Then, of course, there are MORE JDs than ever before. Not enough jobs to go around. More lawyers certainly places heavy downward pressure on wages in the legal sector. Why hire 5 people at $45 dollars for a year or more, when you can hire 20 at $12 an hour for 6 months. Not to mention if someone vacates the project you can fill it in hours with one of the many frothing desperate TIII grads.

    When markets flood wages usually go down. That is why SOME scarcity benefits us. That is why the ABA has said go somewhere where there are less lawyers(i.e. Rural areas). For most of us who have families and careers in cities like NY/Chicago/LA, etc, that is impossible. I also don't believe this is a situation where that approach would work. There are subjective factors which would make establishing yourself in small town USA from out of state that might be overwhelmingly difficult.

    Anyways, as long as there are no "entry" level positions where B.A grads can learn job skills and get decent salaries. There is very little hope to me, that the LS and grad racket will cease. People will always think (wrongly so) that more education will make them a value-added. But what your friends don't seem to get is that kind of thinking is incorrect. It makes you more of a flight-risk and less trainable to the vast majority of employers. They also see you as a threat. After all, if you have better credentials than your boss and you do good work, he could loose his situation to you. Higher education is a great investment if you have the experience to use it as a highlight. If you are a doctor, for example, and you get a masters of public health, that is a HIGHLIGHT because it makes you attractive in a leadership position if you are doing clinical work.

    So basically don't go get masters, phd, JD, or any of the above unless you have career experience that you would benefit from.

  11. I don't bother convincing people at all. I use public transportation to commute to work so it's actually pretty common for me to hear people in their early twenties talking about law school and education.

    I never say anything. Actually it's really good for my mental health, as I can tell how miserable and misguided these people are and likely always will be. Maybe they'll land something, but with those attitudes you'll never be happy anyway.

    Let's say they actually do get jobs as attorneys. There's about a 90% chance that they'd be even more miserable with having the job actually. It's usually a pretty shitty field, although I know you like it Subprime.

    I know I'll never pay off my student loans and that I'll never have a good job, get married, have a house or any of that type of stuff. But, amazingly, I actually don't care anymore. Instead of being miserable, I'm at total peace. I just go to doc review when I have projects, click away, and get through life.

    I have food on the table and a place to sleep at night. I'm on IBR and generally don't pay anything. When I'm unemployed I collect unemployment or welfare. If these are the "opportunities" this government wants to give me, so be it. Load me up with debt I won't pay and then subsidize me because you can't be arsed to regulate anything and use predatory lending and other tricks. Go ahead and destroy the entire middle class and any real opportunity I'd have.

    It's totally fine. Seriously. I won't buy the products and I just won't contribute to the economy. Obviously all this will do is just completely collapse the US economy. But that is what the ruling elite want, and the general public is either too stupid to stop it or is powerless.

    I'll just move to India or China in a few years. They get it. The US is all but guaranteed to fail.

  12. @ 9:24 am

    You wrote:

    "I know I'll never pay off my student loans and that I'll never have a good job, get married, have a house or any of that type of stuff. But, amazingly, I actually don't care anymore. Instead of being miserable, I'm at total peace. I just go to doc review when I have projects, click away, and get through life"

    I'm glad you have found peace with your situation. That is the first step of getting out of the hole and doing something with your life. That being said, don't let these fuckers defeat you. If you want to get married eventually someday you will. If your debt is astronomically high and bankruptcy reform is nowhere to be seen in the near term, then getting the fuck out of here is not a bad idea at all. You will be one of thousands of economic refugees, just as millions of others left their homelands in search of a better life. I hear Brazil is doing fine. Fuck it, learn some portugese and do some research. You may find yourself one day with a hot brazilian mama.

    Keep your head up

  13. The fact is taking on significant student debt for a non-elite JD will lead to financial hell. Unless you have GREAT family, political or business connections, a non-prestigious law degree is a waste of time, energy and money.

    I have seen MANY young minority men and women get the law school bug, in the last 2-3 years. They mistakenly think that this will elevate their status and improve their financial situation. I become particularly frustrated when I see such students - who are making $55K-$65K in their late 20s to early 30s - talk about going to law school.

    I tell them, "You live in an area where the cost of living is affordable. Hell, you can purchase a nice home for less than $150K. If YOU go to law school, it is MUCH more likely than not that you will end up making less than you are now. You will also be saddled with tons more in student loans."

    Occasionally one of these men or women will retort: "Well, I hate my job. Being a lawyer will be much more exciting. If I cannot get hired by a firm or government, I can start my own office and be my own boss."

    Because it is just that simple, right?!?! (Maybe if I think positive thoughts, perhaps Salma Hayek will break into my home, climb on top of me, and rub my balls afterward.)

    At a party last October, one young woman gave this response. I got up and said, "You have an MBA, a husband and a child. You MUST be smarter than that. Do you want to give up your management position - and your $50K salary - so that you can selfishly pursue this goal?!?!"

    Her 6'3" spouse then got up. I took a step over to him and then some other people came in between us. (I honestly would have fought him.) Needless to say, I have not spoken to her since. Last I heard, Dumbass sent in her applications.

  14. Nando,

    That's a pretty funny story. I'm surprised that hubby got all crazy on you. Check out what happened at court today:

    So I go to this mandatory settlement conference in Riverside CA. The court is a old historic building and they have the MSC's in the hallway. It was around 2:30 pm so there were some trials going on. While I was sitting on a bench there was this younger couple sitting across of me. The girl (very good looking) was staring at me big time. Her guy noticed her staring so he started staring. Just because I was there talking to the judge with my suit tie and briefcase she figured "ooouu he must have money, he's a lawyer and a handsome one as well." I'm a decent looking fellow and women check me out on a regular basis. Throw me in the court with the lawyer attire and the eyeballs go wild. I will make 60k this year (maybe a bit more) yet my clients that are gardeners go into shock when they realize they make more than I do lol. Hopefully I will be able to double my earnings within the next decade.

    It's amazing how people become so enamored with attorneys. As I'm in court at least twice a week I see full well how powerful the law school bug is. It's good thing we have these blogs so that some diligent souls will avoid making the mistake of going to law school with big nasty student loan debt. Carry on fellow soldier. And to the law schools: you are lying scum for ruining the lives of thousands.

  15. Still confused about this like your job, attractive women want you, 60k+ in LA is not bad for late 20's....yet you bash law school...

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  17. yes I still bash law schools because
    (a) many of my law school friends got obliterated
    (b) I consider myself extremely fortunate wrt my job
    (c) I have 19k in loans while many others relied on bogus numbers borrowing up to 100k plus
    (d) Until law schools start posting real data,I will continue bashing the schools.
    (e) It took me 20 months to get a law job after graduation. If I owed 100k the interest would skyrocket.
    (f) It is a moral and civic duty of mine to warn others about the law school scam, regardless of my "comparative" success
    (g) I know plenty of law review types that are either unemployed and/or making shit money at shit jobs

  18. So..I agree with everything you posted -- and I didn't experience inflated salary reports-- that's very wrong. But some people will do well by going to law school, so there should be some balance in this blog. I am trying to provide that.

  19. What people will do well from law school? The people who have no debt and graduate from Harvard? Do you really think they need your help?

    The people who will be fine with a law degree are the people who would have been fine without a law degree - while the people who are screwed with a law degree would have been fine without. So why are you so concerned again? It really doesn't add up...


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