Monday, January 24, 2011

Question for Law school Graduates & Legal Professionals...

The recent article in the ABA Journal will likely give you a sardonic laugh..

Do these people think that we are lying? Of course, the scambloggers are RIGHT ABOUT LAW SCHOOL! Do you think they are just "making up stories" about having $200,000 in loans, 10 dollar an hour jobs and struggling to live with their parents in their 30's? Do you think that they are just bashing law schools, LSAT prep course companies and for profit colleges that offer Paralegal training because they have nothing else better to do with their time?

Law school, Paralegal school, Legal Studies, etc, it's all fucking bullshit!

There are no jobs in this shitty profession, and so I only have one question for all you law school students, recent graduates and frustrated attorneys/paralegals:

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently? What else would you have chosen as a major in college? Instead of joining the legal profession, what other careers and fields would you have chosen?

Please post your responses on the "comments" section! (The only sane response I've found online is the video of the intelligent man in the video above.) So all of you law students, attorneys and paralegals, please post your comments below. Please, even leave a comment  anonymously! I would love to hear from everyone!

-The Poor Paralegal


  1. I wish I could drop out of law school but I am already halfway through now. I have a partial scholarship and I will only be 60k in debt by the time I am done. Many biglaw firms have been slow to hire summer associates, but I hope things turn around soon or else Im screwed. I will say that its not worth going unless you get into a tier 1 school or get a scholarship.

    If I could go back I would have majored in nursing, sooooooooooooooooooo many jobs and good money without 3 years of misery like law school

    hook em longhorns!

  2. Hi Poor Paralegal,

    I am another poor paralegal. I graduated back in 2008 from CSUSB's shitty paralegal program, and I still have yet to find any type of employment within the legal field. I have managed to find a few UNPAID internships, but it has been nothing that has lead to any employment offers. Nothing that I learned in that shit-hole program translated to realistic on the job skills. These paralegal programs are as much as a scam as law schools.

  3. I left a Ph.D. program in the sciences to attend law school. Most of my classmates from that program are senior scientists or VPs at large pharmaceutical companies now. I graduated from law school in the early 2000's so my circumstances might be different from recent grads that are racking up huge, huge debt. I'm in debt, but after about 10 years starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Recent grads that are racking up $200K to attend law school will find that there is no viable way to pay off that debt based on the lack of jobs and salaries that have not kept pace with inflated law school tution. That is not to say that "some" people will get high paying jobs, but those individuals are in the minority. Even patent lawyers are being downsized in a major way (myself included) and are unable to find work. If I was in the law school market today, I would NOT go to law school. The risk is too great relative to the cost. To put this in perspective, my law school tuition DOUBLED from the early 2000's to present (not even 10 years). I'm still happy I attended law school, but only because I ultimately see myself working as a solo or small firm where I hvae an equity interest. Working for other people, particularly partners who could care less about you and your career development holds no weight for me anymore. When there are no opportunities, you have to create your own. It's just unfortunate that when you're $150-$200K (and more) in debt, going off on your own is NOT a realistic possibility, particularly when you have living expenses, family, etc. The bottom line is, unless you can envision yourself as a solo practitioner practicing in an area that you are passionate about, I would not attend law school. Decide what area of law interests you BEFORE you attend law school, otherwise you might end up being a divorce attorney and being absolutely miserable in the process. Good luck.

  4. Great clip! Is that Ed Poll?

    I'm going to show this clip to my parents, who think I have been crazy all these years.

    God I have so much regret!

    If I could do it all over again, I would have gone into teaching English at a middle or high-school level.

    I was on my way to doing that when I decided to go to a t4 law school, and that marked the beginning of the end of my "Life" as I once knew it.

    I have tripled debt at 300K, and credit that is destroyed forever because of tht debt.

    I am a Pariah in so many ways.

    Please kids, do not take out student loans, and never go to Law School. It will be a decade or more before the mess can possibly be cleaned up.

    I really feel sorry for the citizen that needs a good lawyer today. Perhaps an innocent person accused of a crime?

    They have to turn to someone that is part of a profession that is sorely corrupted. A profession that cannot take care of its own.

    My life is over. Do not end yours. Do Not go to Law School!

  5. I'm a paralegal and fortunately for me, I graduated in 1997 before the US and the legal field experienced its meltdown. While I have been fortunate to find jobs (with the exception in being unemployed for twenty months during this current recession), I find the biggest misconception in law are the salaries. The average person thinks attorneys are loaded and earn income in six figures. Guess again: most of my friends who graduated law school (some of them quite reputable T25 schools) started off with salaries in the 50’s and mid 60’s at some firms. It took me over 10 years to earn an income in the 60’s as a paralegal (in which I was responsible in managing a team in addition to my paralegal duties). I no longer earn that income of 60+ thanks to the current recession.

    The school I went to (Manhattanville College), the professors were realistic with us. We were told outright that law was a difficult field and to think really long and hard before deciding to go to law school due to the expense and the demands placed on those who work in law. Some of my friends have gone on to law school and I heard about this bubble about to go burst all the way back in 2003. My friends would comment how that it was so easy to get accepted into law school, but much harder to pass the bar and get a job. It should be the opposite way around in my opinion, same as it is in other professions such as medicine--if you don't pass the LSAT with at least a 155, no law school for you. Problem is that most schools are not straight with its students. When I audited some paralegal classes while I job hunt, the head of the program claimed that a paralegal’s average income was in the $50’s. Completely untrue, especially today, however these untruths are spouted off to students as gospel and it’s egregious.

    I know people love to target TTT and TTTT institutions, and I do applaud Nando, Kimber, Angel and others for their efforts in getting the word out there that there are too many law schools out there, and there is such a lack of responsibility that schools have towards its students. However I put most of the blame on the ABA in going overboard in accrediting any school with running water and computers. The ABA has done an absolutely miserable job in monitoring this field, and failing to consider how the US legal profession affects society as a whole. Did the ABA ever stopped to consider that many TTTT graduates may not be able to provide quality legal services? Did the ABA ever stopped to consider that too many attorneys also encourage frivolous law suits commenced? Maybe attorneys are forced to bill $200 an hour because they have to pay off their student loans? Of course not, but unless the ABA steps up and curtails the number of law schools and puts its foot down regarding the paralegal profession (that now any school can advertise “Paralegal Program” and the people will come), the quality of legal services provided will continue to deteriorate.

  6. I did OK for myself as a 2009 graduate of tier-2 DePaul in Chicago: I have much less than average debt and I'm employed as a judicial clerk in the Circuit Court and really enjoying it. So I am in the minority who answered that survey that law school was a good investment for me personally. However, I know a lot of really miserable attorneys in Chicago and elsewhere, both employed and unemployed. Law school was not a good investment for many of my friends.

  7. When I audited some paralegal classes while I job hunt, the head of the program claimed that a paralegal’s average income was in the $50’s. Completely untrue, especially today, however these untruths are spouted off to students as gospel and it’s egregious.

    If that's true, then WHY do I see numerous paralegal jobs offered for $50K and higher? I see them all the time on Craigslist and Robert Half Legal...

  8. MarkyMark,

    I can't figure it out either. I am a client of Robert Half Legal and I have yet to find a job that I'm qualified for that they list a salary of $50k or more for. I'm not saying the jobs don't exist, but somehow I am not qualified (despite my eight years of experience). I also apply for jobs advertised in Craigslist and run into these issues:
    -I'm not bilingual (either Spanish or Chinese);
    -I don't have 5+ years experience in something very narrow and specific like patent, mergers & acquisitions, probate, or coordinating real estate closings;
    -I have only very little database management experience (Summation, Concordance)and they require at least a year's worth.

    What I do have is excellent writing ability, a great head on my shoulders, a BA, a paralegal certificate, I work really well with a team, 8+ years of experience, and I'm resourceful. But it doesn't matter. What I find I'm qualified for these days is to answer phones for $30k if I'm lucky.

    The truth is, the market is so bad that when an employer asks for the moon, they can get it.

    And the kicker is that if you are the person who has 5+ years of patent experience at a law firm, you are unqualified to do anything else.

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  10. Liz,

    I was thinking of taking a paralegal cert program, because the PURPORTED salaries are better than what I earn in technology, which is my field. And I was getting ENVIOUS of those who are paralegals! I was thinking that I'm in the wrong business...

    I decided against doing the paralegal certification, because the $4k-$6k (depending on the programs I looked at) it would cost could be put to better uses. I could save it for a new furnace, new roof, or even a new scooter. Shoot, I could invest that money in some gold or silver; with the way the economy is right now, I think that those commodities could go up a lot.


  11. MarkyMark,

    I think it's wise that you avoid the paralegal cert program. I finished in 2002 and have made $50k, with some paralegal friends making quite a bit more. I made a move to a different city and left my job at a very bad time - 2009 - and have been screwed ever since. The bottom has really fallen out. I'm not sure if my career will rebound, but I'm doing what I can before I completely shift gears and go back to school. I'm hoping I won't have to do it. Good luck to you!

  12. MarkyMark: It's called bait and switch. It’s an old tactic staffing agencies have used for ages.

    Many staffing agencies often advertise very competitive salaries to get experienced applicants to respond to adverts. Most of the time, these jobs do not exist, or the agency is in competition with other agencies to fill the position, and vie for people with experience to present to the client/company. Very rarely a company or firm would advertise its salary. The only time I have seen salary posted was for government positions in which the qualifications sought often do not match what someone would be paid for in the private sector (side note: fact today, this is switched in that government jobs actually pay more than private sector). The current trend right now is asking applicants upfront for their salary range. Think about it: would you risk advertising that you would start the new employee off with a salary of $50K, when there is the possibility in getting someone qualified at a better price? Think about it.

    On another note, to answer Poor Paralegal’s question (which I went off on a tangent earlier), although I enjoy what I do for a living, I’m not so sure if I would do it again. It was hard as hell finding a job. It took me 20 months to land another paralegal position and I have ten years of experience, graduated from two top schools, and I’m a notary. And although I like my new job, I think most would be turned off working where I now work. Problem here is that for many years, the legal field paid well and it no longer pays. I think many ran off to law school and enrolled in paralegal programs (which by the way mine cost me $9K in 1997) because of the salaries. Surprise, surprise. Never do it for the money kids. Think long and hard if you really want to work in law. The field is full of egos and the stress can be over bearing at times and the great starting salaries are not here anymore. JD Painter also brings up an excellent point in that if you take on debt in going to school, make sure you would be able to pay it off with no problem. Too many people took loans out thinking someone would hire them—there are no guarantees.

  13. Well...I am not a lawyer but a college "re-entrant" (former drop out).

    It seems many of us had the same problem, not enough life experience and too little research before starting school ( whether undergraduate or law).

    I think I would have stuck with my liberal arts major ( with a minor in business, plus computer networking skills) and focused on getting as much experience working before graduation. I kick myself to think I could have had less debt and more LIFE !!

    Sure, ppl said things to me ,but to get someone who can explain it like you all? Puh-leese.

    Now I write a blog about all this mess, just like everyone else.

  14. I also entered undergrad college under the same misconceptions Law student do.

    "Get a job, learn skills, help people. Maybe have my own business."

    We are all in the school of HardKnocks. I feel sorry for the kids today who pay more for less since colleges started cutting services and raising tuition.

    What can we do about it?
    Vote with our feet.

  15. I've been unemployed since passing the Illinois bar in 2009. The American economy is in the toilet and will remain so until Obama steps aside or is defeated. America's economic movers and shakers have no confidence in President Obama and will remain on the sidelines (not investing, not hiring, etc) until he is out of the picture. Once he's out of office, the economy should improve dramatically.

  16. I've been unemployed since passing the Illinois bar in 2009. The American economy is in the toilet and will remain so until Obama steps aside or is defeated. America's economic movers and shakers have no confidence in President Obama and will remain on the sidelines (not investing, not hiring, etc) until he is out of the picture. Once he's out of office, the economy should improve dramatically.

    Amen! Barack Obama and his merry, Democratic band have done enough damage already...

  17. MarkyMark is an idiot. The financial woes in this country were caused by the Wall Street banks.

  18. MarkyMark is an idiot. The financial woes in this country were caused by the Wall Street banks.

    February 21, 2011 3:50 AM

    The same Wall Street banks that Obama bailed out?

    The same Wall Street bankers that got the big Obama bonuses?

    Obama has been the President for over two years. When will Obama fans face reality?

  19. Blame Bush Dear!

  20. I'd have not borrowed 120k to go to law school. Terrible move. I should have retaken the LSAT to see if a full ride was possible. If not, I shouldn't have gone. I should have tried to work my way up the corporate ladder at the major corporation I worked for during the year between undergrad and law school. The only problem is I really do want to be a lawyer. My life goal is to run a solo practice that focuses on business issues in my hometown. The only trouble is that with debt and far too little experience I can't start my own law practice. I'm sure there's a way out, but I haven't seen it yet.

  21. All I know is tonight was my last night. I graduated with my AAS in Legal Studies and I am screwed! I wish I could sue the bastards for lying. This field is shit! I have even offered to work for free for a few weeks and still no takers. As a single mom, and unemployed, I am totally fuckin screwed! I have went rounds with my school about helping me find a job, and I go off on them about this field being a crock and how they keep pushing their course and they just don't respond. They know they are ripping people off. I had to do my internship with the director of my program, which was just sitting at home looking up forms etc.., because nobody would even take me for that. He graduated me with not even the required amount of intern hours just to get me out of there because they know I am pissed! I would have never went to school and just stayed blue collar if I could do it over!

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  26. I would never have gone into law. If you get a good job they want to own you. It's just a different kind of hell