Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Law School Applications Decline 12.5%

It looks like the word is getting out from all of us in the scam blog universe that legal education is not a good choice for many college students seeking a rewarding profession. Many Economists forecast that the US economy will create 2.2-2.4 million new jobs this year, more than the 1.1 million created in 2010. This is a great improvement compared to 4.8 million job losses in 2009 and 3.6 million job losses in 2008. Some say that with the economy rebounding and more hiring anticipated in the new few quarters, that college students will get jobs instead of seeking shelter in law school to ride out the recession.

In fact, the number of people taking the LSAT exam have fallen drastically. The number of students taking the LSAT in December 2010 fell 16.5%!

I think the real reason why people are staying away from law school is because there is so much information available on the web from law school bloggers, news articles in The New York Times, and basically the ugly realities of the legal profession are now out there for everyone to see!

To all you college seniors out there:  Don't be fooled by the glossy brochures,  bogus employment statistics and false promises that law schools and paralegal schools give you, its nothing but lies!

Take a long time to figure out your career goals!

-The Poor Paralegal


  1. Are you really a paralegal or an unemployed JD? Anyhow, I just took the lsat and scored a 162, but I went to boston college and after reading the horror stories on these blogs, I've decided to put law school on hold. I heard about that guy who wants his tuition refund at BCLS because he can't get a job and is maxed out on student loans. I am going to work for a year or two and then decide if I want to pursue a graduate degree.

    btw, at my lsat test prep class more and more students are talking about all the law school blogs, so maybe thats why apps are down

  2. This was so long, that I'm splitting this up into multiple parts. Here's Part I...

    It's about damn TIME that LS apps go down! It's not like the over supply of lawyers is news. I knew this a long time ago. One, anyone reading John Grisham would know this; the lawyer glut is a prominent theme in his novel, The Rainmaker. Two, talking to attorneys would reveal this. Three, doing PROPER research would yield this information. I'll develop these points below.

    I've read John Grisham for a long time. I've read all his legal thrillers up to The Jurist. In his novel, The Rainmaker, the main character, Rudy Baylor, had much trouble finding a job because of the glut of lawyers out there. In the book, he talked about how Memphis State, his law school, told his class that the legal field was terribly overcrowded; how many of them would struggle to find employment; so, as a favor, they'd flunk out 1/3 of Baylor's class, which they did. Even though our hero, Rudy Baylor, made it through and passed the bar on his first try, he still had trouble finding a job. He was forced to take a job where he basically took a loan as salary, and he would be forced to pay it off when he had a big month; it was decidedly what they now call 'shitlaw'! Rudy did the solo thing for a few months, then ended up leaving the law altogether at the end. BTW, The Rainmaker was written back in 1993...

    I talked to attorneys while researching law school. My personal attorney attended Rutgers, which is the lower end of the first tier or upper end of the second tier. He did well; he was on law review; he found a job at a small, local law firm. I saw then that, in order to have a shot at finding a job, one had to do well (i.e. finish in the top 25%, preferably in the top 10%) at a school outside of the T14.

    My business law professor in college was a former attorney. While he still did legal work for those he knew (e.g. friends, family, or past clients), he'd all but gotten out of practicing law. He spoke of the lack of civility, the confrontational nature of young attorneys, the stress, etc. He also made it a point to tell me that law is terribly overcrowded. To emphasize this point, he told me that, in NJ, that THREE THOUSAND people were taking the oath after every bar exam. For a small state like NJ, that's a lot! Those people would be my competition if I were to attend law school. Based on my research, the story would have been the same elsewhere.

    To be continued...

  3. Here's Part II of my comment...

    Finally, I read a book that ALL 0Ls should read: Law School Confidential, by Robert H. Miller. The book was orginally published in 2003. Mr. Miller is a graduate of Penn's law school, which is T10. He takes you from application all the way through to the bar exam. It's an eye opener.

    One of the unique features of the book is the inclusion of fellow student 'mentors'; he features other contemporaries of his to share THEIR insights on the law school experience. One mentor who stands out is Bess Franzosa. She was a former journalist who went to law school to become a prosecutor. As a journalist, she was sick of just observing heinous crimes and acts; she wanted to DO something about what she'd seen-a noble desire, to be sure. Here's where it gets interesting...

    Miss Franzosa said that she would NOT attend law school again; if she'd had it to do over, she wouldn't have attended law school. She said the costs (financial and opportunity) outweighed the benefits of law school. Because of the huge loans she had to take out for law school (her payments are $1,100/month), she had to take a job at a large, Boston law firm doing labor & employment law. Miss Franzosa said that her original motivation for attending law school seemed foolish, or at least naive. Finally, she said that she wished that she'd inquired MORE about law school and the legal profession BEFORE attending law school-ouch! You can view the mentors' comments here. You can search inside the book. When you do, go to page 18, and you can read Bess Franzosa's comments; while you're at it, read the other mentors' comments too.

    One thing that quickly became apparent to me was this: all the mentors and the author attended T14 schools. They were either on law review, or they were on a journal. They all had legal jobs during their 1L and 2L summers; they said that, if one wanted to have a shot at getting a legal job after graduation. These jobs, even then (before the economy tanked), were difficult to get; some of them sent out tens or hundreds of resumes and applications to get their summer jobs. These were all students @ T14 schools!

    One thing I learned about law school grading is that there's an absolute distribution of grade; that is to say that the professors will give 20% of the class A+, 20% As, 20% B+, and so on. IOW, making the top 25% (or better yet, top 10%) of your class is NOT in your control! If the professors decide that you don't belong, tough noogies.

    To be continued...

  4. Here's Part III...

    For me, reading Law School Confidential showed me that there was too much that could go wrong to make law school a good bet. What if I didn't get into a T10 school? What if I didn't do well (i.e. the top 25% of the class)? What if I didn't make law review, which is contingent on your 1L grades? I could go on, but you get my point; I simply saw too much to go wrong to make law school a good bet; and given the MONEY one must spend on law school, you better have a sure bet! Therefore, I opted not to go.

    For those who are older, there's another, trusted resource: Scott Turow's iconic One L. It's still available, and it can be ordered on Amazon. One L was published back in 1977, which is over 33 years ago now. For over generation, 0Ls have had a good resource available to them. While it isn't the 'how-to' manual that Law School Confidential is, it nevertheless gives one valuable insight into the law school experience. It certainly provided one with enough information with which one can ask intelligent, probing questions when talking to lawyers they knew. By doing so, by digging beneath the surface, a 0L would have been able to suss out what law school was like for those who didn't attend HLS like Turow did. Until recently, HLS grads could, unlike most other law school grads, write their own tickets; HLS grads, unlike students at other law schools, didn't have problems finding a job. Being armed with the insight Turow's One L gives a 0L, an intelligent 0L would have been able to figure out whether or not attending law school was a good idea.

    Given the huge investment of time, effort, and money, it truly surprises me that more 0Ls haven't done more research BEFORE law school. Why don't they dig some to find this out? Why do they believe that law is like what they see on Law & Order, Ally McBeal, or LA Law? Why did they believe the law schools career stats? Why, pray tell me, did they not do their research? For me, the information was out there; I had no problem finding sufficient information to make a smart decision-forget about law school. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why others couldn't have done likewise. Those are my thoughts...

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  6. Oh, in Part II, I meant to say that, if one wanted a shot at finding an attorney job after graduating law school, then one had to work at a legal job during their 1L & 2L summers. I meant to put a comma after that clause, but I inadvertently put a period instead. I also wanted to say that working at a legal job during your 1L & 2L summers was a must, because law firms would question your commitment to working in the law. They'd ask: why, if you wanted to be an attorney, didn't you work at a law firm during your 1L & 2L summers? As I said above, getting a summer job (for a law student's 1L & 2L summers) at a law firm has been tough for years now. The writing has been on the wall for years now, folks!

    For years now, just putting the necessary pieces in place (or punching your ticket in the right places) has been a must for any law student outside of the T3, or HYS. For years, there's been too much that could go wrong for most 0Ls. Again, I ask, WTF were they thinking?! Why were they so sure that they could beat the odds? Wouldn't they realize, particularly @ a T10 school, that ALL the students are bright, and accomplished? Wouldn't they realize that, like them, their fellow students were the top of the heap at their undergrad alma mater? Wouldn't they realize that not all of them (themselves possibly included) would be on top at law school? Didn't they try to find out that, unlike their undergrad, the grading distribution is absolute? WTF didn't they do their research? Someone please enlighten me! I truly do not understand how so many could miss the obvious...

  7. Hi MarkyMark:

    Maybe you have already, but I think you should post on Third Tier Reality, and Shilling ME softly, Jobless JD, BIDER, etc. You can see them all on my blog list.

    You have a lot of great stuff to say.

    Is that a pic of a Warthog?
    I saw one fly over once when I was upstate once a few years back on vacation.

    There was an airshow going on nearby, and some of the planes kind of looped around over us, and I was like: Hey Look!

  8. I have to agree in part, that young people are undervalued.

    But this only benefits employers who can find the talented ones (and there are many) to benefit the bottom line.

    Also, plenty of people start out in one industry and change into another.

    But the passion thing is real. You have to know everything and WANT to be good at your job/career. So maybe the toy thing would not have worked out, but the connections....that could work. The chance to show artistry and skill.

  9. I kept waiting for the part of the story where Lauren's employer moves operations overseas and lays off her and everyone else in the New York location. This advice sounds wonderful, "I will do more than is asked for no money for a long time.... and then THEY WILL PAY ME BACK WITH A BETTER JOB." But there's really no reason for the hard work and sacrifice to inevitably lead to a better position. In fact, I've seen several "superstars" at the office who were targeted and fired by other coworkers, and several older loyal employees fired or demoted to make room for younger people who will work longer for less.

    I like Suze Ormann, but she's an entertainer and she tells stories people will pay to hear. I don't think her story was actually very good advice, in the long run, given the realities of the employment market.

  10. JDPainter,

    No, the plane is a Northrop A-9, which was the competing plane that lost out to the A-10 Warthog. I liked its simple, basic lines; it's also unique. Ergo, I used it as my avatar.

    As for posting on the other sites, I'll do so when I have time. I've been working a lot and trying to study job related material, so I don't post much anymore. I will copy and paste my comment on the other sites soon though...