Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Guest Post by Old Guy: "Which Law Schools are Worth Attending?"

Which law schools are worth attending? For most people with less gold than Croesus, prospects for finding well-paying work after graduation will be a prime consideration.

Data on the class of 2013 from Law School Transparency show that only the following 9 law schools had at least 50% of their graduates working at a law firm with 101 or more attorneys (a generous definition of Big Law) within nine months of graduation:


If we consider not just jobs in Big Law but also federal clerkships, we get the following additional schools:


That's a total of 13 schools—the so-called "top 14" minus Georgetown—at which at least 50% of last year's graduates found a federal clerkship or a job in Big Law.

With 40% of the graduating class finding those jobs, the number of schools increases to 16. With 30%, 24. With 20%, 31 (that's 15% of the ABA-accredited law schools). With 10%, still only 78.

Let's try raising the bar instead. With 60% of the class getting federal clerkships or jobs in Big Law, the number of schools falls to 11. With 70%, the number is only 4 (Chicago, Columbia, Harvard, and Stanford). And not a single law school sees 80% of its graduates get those jobs.

If we consider federal clerkships and jobs in Big Law to be the only good jobs for a fresh graduate of law school, we can conclude that more than 60% of the ABA-accredited law schools had not even 10% of their graduates in 2013 get good jobs. Almost all of those schools estimate the cost of attendance (including nine months of living expenses per year—don't people have to live during the other three months as well?) at $100k or more, usually much more. To people who feel that that is too much to spend (even before interest and fees are tacked on) for less than a 10% chance of a good job, at least 127 of the 205 ABA-accredited law schools are therefore not worth attending. Those who expect at least a 50% chance of a good job in exchange for what might well be a quarter of a million dollars' worth of non-dischargeable debt can immediately rule out 192 of those 205 law schools.

Why do I define "good jobs" in this way? Because of the cost of attendance—and the heavy debt that it usually entails. For law school even to begin to make financial sense, a person who is relying largely on loans needs the sort of income that a new graduate can seldom obtain without a job in Big Law or a federal clerkship. Indeed, the definition of "good jobs" is actually too broad, as most of those positions last only a few years and are followed by decidedly straitened circumstances.

These figures should give pause even to the typical devil-may-care lemming. Furthermore, they can inform educational policy. What exactly is the purpose of sustaining the 60+% of law schools at which not even 10% of the students have a decent chance of a respectable outcome? Should those schools not be shut down right now? Should eligibility for student loans require more than a rubber stamp from an admissions office? These are questions that we should not be afraid to ask.

For now, I say that the 13 schools listed above, those at which half or more of the students find jobs in Big Law or federal clerkships within nine months of graduation, are the only ones that anyone not independently wealthy should consider. And even they are dodgy, especially at full price. People who are paying little or nothing in tuition may shade the cut-off from 50% to 40% but should understand that in so doing they are taking a big risk. All schools below the 40% mark should be deemed fourth-tier institutions that no one without big money or genuinely usable connections should attend at any price.


  1. Best. Post. Ever.

    This captures in clear, concise terms--terms that even a special snowflake could understand--what every 0L needs to grapple with (or else).

    Why become a debt slave? Even if you go to one of the top 10 and get a BigLaw job, why become a slave to that kind of work? What will you do if you hate it? What will you do if you are shown the door after a few years of soul-crushing labor, while two decades of monthly 5-figure loan payments are staring you in the face?

    It's not worth it.

  2. Yeah, but, but - - - VERSATILE!


    Underserved, underwashed masses!

    Double Glurk!

    Unserved, unwashed masses!

    Triple Glurk!


  3. The amusing thing is that law school has gotten so expensive (I believe Columbia is at $60,000/yr not including cost of living or interest) that fully debt financing a degree from an elite law school is still a bad bet, even if you assume a guaranteed biglaw job. Is it worth it to go $300,000 in debt for a 60% chance at a $160,000 job (that most people don't like doing)?

    You are much better off going to a lower ranked, much cheaper flagship state university on a large scholarship, in my opinion.

    1. Law has become a horseshit career because of too much competition. Get your flagship degree and be miserable without debt (other than if you can get a gubmint job). In my medium-sized state they get as many as a thousand applications for each gubmint lawyer job. We also have a 90-year-old who is still practicing because he can't afford to retire. Keeps bouncing trust account checks because he is so out of it mentally.

      Still, I wonder how much of what we all post here really sinks in with a 22 year old imagining herself in a designer skirt suit and heels arguing a case before SCOTUS.

    2. Agreed. I believe the traditional thinking is that any degree which requires you to take on debt more than 100% of your first starting salary (although this figure may need to be adjusted based on the huge increase in tuition even in UG the past 10+ years) is a bad bet. Assuming 100% of the JD is financed, even if you hit a home run you are at almost 200%d/i. Even when you win, you lose.

    3. I agree with 11:59 that even the Columbias are usually bad bets. Columbia is a second-tier law school, by the classification that I recently set out (http://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.ca/2014/12/news-flash-applicants-down-85.html):

      First tier (Harvard and Yale, maybe Stanford): Certainly worth considering, but ordinary people (those lacking money and connections) should think twice about the risk that they are taking.

      Second tier (a half-dozen schools, such as Columbia, Michigan, and NYU): Ordinary people might consider these at a very substantial discount.

      Third tier (about ten schools, such as Duke, Cornell, and maybe UCLA): Ordinary people might consider these if they are free or almost free but should bear in mind that they're taking a significant risk.

      Fourth tier (all others): Do not attend without money or connections, preferably both. (I'm willing to consider the possibility of a fifth tier for those schools that no one should attend under any circumstances. Feel free to discuss.)

      The last time I checked, about a quarter of the class at Columbia graduated with zero debt. Those students, or their relatives, wrote a check for $300k. It's a good bet that almost all of them (other than the ones that decided to spend a few years yachting) got those jobs that I mentioned. For people who have to borrow substantial amounts to attend Columbia, the chance of getting a good job is thus probably 50% or lower.

      Flagship state university on a full scholarship? That depends on the university. Michigan on a full scholarship could be a reasonable choice, and almost certainly better than Columbia at full price; but the U of Arkansas would be a mistake even on a full scholarship with a few thousand extra to put towards living expenses. (Note that "scholarship" is usually a misnomer. As we have discussed before, most "scholarships" to law schools are just discounts, not disbursements from an endowed fund.)

      Old Guy

  4. The cost is really high on these schools. Plus, with at least the lower half, there's a 50% chance of being in the lower 50% of the class, and those schools won't place you in Big Law or Fed Clerkships if you're below median (sad but true, no matter what the CSO's tell you).

  5. My law school is now around $50k. I would never sign up for 3 years of that. Living, working, and struggling to pay down/off $150k in debts (assuming I get a part time job to help offset other costs) is unimaginable. That's $1,331 every month.

  6. Excellent post, Old Guy! I mean it! It's good to see the reasoning behind some of the crazy comments you made, which really aren't so crazy after all!

  7. God Bless you, Old Guy!

    The T14 minus Georgetown schools probably aren't really that much better in terms of teaching and training, but you have to go there because that is the only way you will meet the kind of people you need to meet in order to get the kind of job you need to get to pay down the debts you'll end up having.... Unless you have a parent in the law game.

  8. How much does the debt component change the equation? I've got the GI Bill and VA disability compensation, between the two I can basically attend any public school without incurring any additional debt. I've been accepted at Iowa and it's the best school I'm likely to get into. I'll be in my early 30s when I graduate.

    I'm I missing something in my analysis or does this seem like a calculated risk seeing as how I will only have opportunity cost? (I don't have an employable undergrad so I'll be using my GI bill for additional education one way or the other, in that sense the opportunity cost doesn't reflect lost wages per se.)

    I'd love to get in touch with Oldguy or Nando directly if that's possible.


    1. Assuming you are paying $0 out of pocket for tuition and will accrue minimal debt for CoL, I don't think it would be a horrible decision. If you don't want/can't get biglaw you will have a leg up for government jobs due to your military service.

      Iowa appears to be one of the better flagship state schools, but it doesn't have a national reputation. Do you want to stay in Iowa/the midwest?

      The opportunity cost is important as you recognize. What is your undergrad degree in? What are your other realistic career options? Do you legitimately want to be a lawyer, or do you just not know what else to do?

    2. Your only viable option after law school is to use your disabled veteran's status to get a gubmint job. No private employer will look at you in your early 30s and a JD will stain your resume indelibly with non-law employers. And after two wars there could be a lot of disabled veterans getting law degrees.

      Could you do something like become a physician assistant?

    3. If you really can swing it without taking on debt, then you're right, it's "just" opportunity cost. Then you need to suss out whether it's worth that cost. If you haven't already, I would try to talk to as many practicing lawyers as you can, to get a realistic idea of what they do and whether you'd like it, assuming you can land a job. Is JAG a possibility? That could be a nice gig, though I've heard it can be pretty dull.

      You also need to take into account your age and whatever your disability may be. Either of those could hurt your job chances, even though employers aren't allowed to discriminate on those grounds.

      Personally, I'd be inclined to advise someone in your shoes to get an accounting degree and license. Accountants seem to be happier than lawyers these days, and their skills seem to be more portable.

    4. I hesitate to mention my major bc it's a specific enough degree area that combined with my other demographic details it could out me to my cohort. Needless to say I've worked in the field of my ug degree and hated it. I don't even really want to do academic work in that field anymore either.

      I think the health field is a great sector but I have zero desire to work in healthcare or in any kind of clinic setting or with patients. I wish I did bc I would try to become a physical therapist.

      This is a very lemming like 0L thing to say because I've never worked around lawyers, and I acknowledge that, but I honestly think I'll like legal work. Even document review doesn't sound too bad tbh.


    5. Obviously I wish to conceal my identity, as I am still trying to find work before my federal clerkship ends. I may eventually set up an e-mail address just for messages to Old Guy; I may even eventually reveal my identity. For now, perhaps the hard-working operators of this site will forward correspondence (especially from prospective employers).

      As others have said here, your analysis makes sense. The opportunity cost would be high, but there are worse things that you could do. That said, there are also better things that you could do. Think carefully before wasting on law school the opportunity to get a degree for next to nothing. Accounting, which someone suggested, would be a more sensible option.

      And, yes, thinking that you'd like legal work without actually knowing anything about it is a very lemming-like thing to do. Look into legal work more carefully before signing up for law school. As someone said above, your age will keep you out of private-sector jobs.

      Old Guy

    6. I salute the sacrifices you have made for our country and I am here to tell you that legal work in general and doc review in particular suck. I practiced for almost 30 years. It's a tar baby. You can't go home and relax. You get little time off. You will always be stressed out. My uncle was a pioneering cardio-thoracic surgeon and when the patient was closed up he went home and relaxed. I now sell luxury cars. It's wonderful. Close a deal in 90 minutes, sometimes a few a day, and then at closing time you take nothing home with you and sleep like a baby. Commission sales is a cakewalk compared to trying to get clients to pay their bills. When I sell a car I get my money next Friday, guaranteed. The customers come to me because of national advertising paid for by someone else.

      And I am incredibly lucky because I had a part-time state position for 20 years and vested a pension with COLAs and lifetime medical coverage for my wife and I when we reach 62.

      Being a lawyer used to be very lucrative but there are just way too many lawyers now, driving the fees down. In my state they are where they were 20 years ago although adjusted for inflation they should be more than 150% higher. Doc review lawyers used to be able to work 6 months a year and party six months but now I see ads where they pay $20.00/hour for lawyers and $18.00/hour for paralegals. You probably would love legal work but, sadly, it just isn't worth it at this point.

      My grandfather was a talented civil engineer but his peak working years came during the Great Depression. He was never unemployed but he never reached his true potential. Sometimes we are victims of the times in which we live.

      Good luck with whatever decisions you make.

    7. Ringtail, I don't know if this would appeal to you at all, but have you ever considered becoming a social worker?

      I think Nando provides an e-mail address to contact him on his blog. I wish you the very best of luck.

    8. Ringtail, excellent question. If you attend U of Iowa then plan to stay in Iowa. Do you like Iowa? If you can go to law school without taking on loans, then I would try the first year. But make a blood vow that if you don't end up in the top 25%, you will seek greener pastures elsewhere.

      DO NOT count on the veteran preference for getting a decent government job. There are many fewer government jobs these days and many more veterans. One of my law clerks attended the naval academy, saw battle and had a career in the navy for several years. Upon graduation from law school, he was only able to get a low-level JD preferred position with the VA.

    9. Ringtail, going to Iowa for free is not necessarily a bad decision provided you can see yourself being happy working smallish law in the mid-West since that is the most realistic “good outcome” that you can expect from this school (although even that outcome is no sure thing). I would also reiterate 7:06's point - if you find yourself hating law school and the law and/or get mediocre or worse grades, you need to be fully prepared to cut your losses and drop out after first year. Also, you might want to check out the Top Law Schools website. There are a number of forums there where a person in your situation can find good advice. Whatever you end up doing, I wish you luck.

    10. Thank you everyone for the responses. I've got some more number-crunching and soul - searching to do before I commit to this. As Old Guy admonished, I really want to make sure I'm not blowing my shot at a free education recklessly.

      If I hadn't discovered the scamblogs I would have definitely careened headlong into this without a thoughtful analysis and I have you all to thank for that.


    11. Let's say, for sake of argument, that it's now 2018. You decided to go to Iowa. You're done. You got a 3.5 (or equivalent), finished in top 15% and all that. You're looking for a job. You are in my office for an interview. I'd look at it, and we'd have a nice chat. The reality if this -- I would place your resume into a list of 300-600 other resumes I have at any one time in our HR office (I've transitioned out of law, am in business, high tech). Bottom line -- I don't need someone who finished with 3.5 gold stars, accolades about how smart you are, high praise for being extern of the year, etc. What I need is someone who can take no for an answer 1,000 times and, on the 1,001 conversation with a prospective client, sell the pitch like it was the first time. I need someone with experience in sales (and all the subtle ways that it's executed); whether it be engineering, solutions delivery, architecture, ticket escalation, management, client relationship, account executive. Put your money in a curriculum that gets you those skills.

    12. 2/3rds of U of Iowa grads leave the state when they finish. Iowa has 3.8 grads per job statewide.

      Get a job selling cars in Cedar Rapids and forget about law; that's my advice. Regrettably.

  9. ...great post, clearly presented. The numbers are even more sobering when you consider how many of the 50% who did find "good jobs" obtained them with the help of strong family connections. In the absence of those invisible helping hands, there really isn't any hope of finding sustainable employment of any kind.

  10. Good post, Old Guy. Maybe this has been covered before, but some law schools are now paying prospective students to visit their campuses. It may be worth it to register with LSAC just for the free vacations.

    1. A couple of months ago, I asked here about the amounts that the various law schools are offering their visitors. I had hoped, for example, to get a free trip to Vermont; but Vermont Law Skule would pay only $150.

      If you hear of any particularly sweet offers, please let me know. For the right price, I'd even apply to Thomas Jefferson or Indiana Tech.

      Old Guy

    2. I'm surprised none of the more egregious offenders have started taking prospective students out to bars and strip clubs and getting them liquored up before signing on the bottom line, like some college football recruiters do.

    3. Oklahoma City University School of Law is offering a two-night hotel stay, free meals, and $200 for travel expenses if you live more than 200 miles away. I looked online, and round-trip airfare from where I live is around $280. Seems like a good deal to me.

  11. There was an excellent article in the Gainsville (Fla.) Scene:
    "Thinking About Law School? Think Again"

  12. This "Old Guy" writer way off base. Law school is still an excellent value. Even if you have to take out $250,000 in student loans. Because global leaders for the 21st century. And space law opportunities for moon colony big law. Finally, practice-ready professionals for under-served communities.

    1. I disagree. If it's worth $250k, it's worth $350k. Debt, for lack of a better word, is good. Debt is right, debt works. Debt clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the law school spirit.

    2. I stand corrected.

      How could I have failed to see the sense in taking on $250k in high-interest, non-dischargeable debt in order to work for clients who have no money?

      Obviously I'm not cut out to be a Global Leader™. I'd better hit the open road.

      Old Guy

    3. "The life of the law is not logic, it is debt."

      -Justice Holmes

  13. 250,000 to attend Harvard Law School simply is not worth it. Too high!

    There has to be a price level at which even the most prestigious of law degrees (Harvard, Yale, sTTTanford) are simply not worth it.

    What is that price level?

    My feeling is that we passed that price level recently. I'd guess it is between 200-250k. At this level, a few people begin feeling its just a bit too much.

    At around 300k, it starts to become clear its not worth it to most applicants.

    At 350-400,000 USD for a prestigious JD (100-133k per year), applicants will understand a spot in Harvard Law School is a spot on the last layer of a pyramid scheme that is about to collapse.

    PS - Imagine the student loan payments on 250-300k. What would that be per month? 2500-3000? What about if interest rates go up....

    1. Excellent question! I went to HYS, and I agree that a degree from one of those schools is not worth $250k. Heck, IMO it wasn't even worth $250k (in constant dollars) back in the glory days.

      Today, I'd say $100k in tuition is probably the most that someone should be willing to pay for an HYS degree. (And that also assumes you have good reason to believe that you'll enjoy practice, won't end up in the bottom 10% of your class (yes, it's possible to have grades so bad that even the Harvard brand can't save you), etc.),

    2. From what I hear people write on scam blogs you should not pay more for a degree than the annual income that a person would make upon receiving a job that requires that degree. From that we can determine how much a person should pay for a degree from Harvard Law School (Or from any other law school)

      I will assume that good jobs pay $160,000, the bad jobs pay $45,000, and unemployment pays $0
      I will also use the data from Law School Transparency (http://www.lstscorereports.com/schools/harvard/jobs/employers/2013/ for Harvard university)

      Good Jobs
      Grads at Law Firms with 100 or more lawyers = 54.5%
      Grads with Federal Clerkships = 17%
      Grads with long term Government or Public Interest jobs = 11.9%
      Grads with jobs in the Education sector (I'm assuming new law professors here) = 1%

      Unemployed = 3.8%

      Bad Jobs (100%-(Good Jobs + Unemployed)) = 11.8%

      Expected Value ($160,000 * Good Jobs) + ($45,000 * Bad Jobs) + ($0 * Unemployed) = Approximately $140,350

      Therefore you should be willing to pay up to $140,350 for a law degree from Harvard, or approximately $46,783 per year.

    3. That calculation seems fair. Note, however, that a year at Harvard (including nine months' living expenses), by the university's own estimates, costs $82k before the interest and fees on student loans. That is almost twice the amount that 10:19 estimated as a fair price.

      Old Guy

    4. 10:19 here. From Old Guy's response I am forced to conclude that even Harvard is a scam.

      Also there are student loan calculators that we can use to answer questions like what is the student loan payment on $250,000.
      You can find one here --> http://www.finaid.org/calculators/scripts/loanpayments.cgi

      I decided to enter some numbers to give a quick answer to 7:21's question
      $250,000 = Lower bound of Student Loan balance (as per the question)
      5.41% = Interest Rate (Rates come from http://www.staffordloan.com/stafford-loan-info/interest-rates.php which has rates and fees for Stafford loans for several academic years)
      1.073% = Fees (From the same site as interest rates)
      10 years = Loan Term default for Stafford Loans and the calculator
      Also I said that I was a lawyer, still in school with 3 years of college.

      The monthly payment would be $2,731.33
      You would cumulatively pay $327,759.41 (Of which interest would be $77,759.41)

      The calculator is also generates paragraphs like this
      "It is estimated that you will need an annual salary of at least $327,759.60 to be able to afford to repay this loan. This estimate assumes that 10% of your gross monthly income will be devoted to repaying your student loans. This corresponds to a debt-to-income ratio of 0.8. If you use 15% of your gross monthly income to repay the loan, you will need an annual salary of only $218,506.40, but you may experience some financial difficulty.This corresponds to a debt-to-income ratio of 1.1."

    5. All of it is a SCAM and a BUBBLE (backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government). All of it. Every last bit. Absurd. The question is, when do victims stop killing themselves and turn the change outwards?

    6. 7:21 back. Thank Old Guy and HYS guy for thinking through my questions and conclusively answering them. I am a bit surprised my gut feeling is vindicated. After all, Harvard is supposed to be an incredible career booster that solves all your problems once you're admitted.

      Looking at Harvard's website, it's worth noting that it is actually difficult to locate the information on cost of attendance. Starting from the JD prospective students homepage, I had to click through 5 links to get to either of the two separate budget pages:


      Talk about "hide the ball." More like "hide the price." Anyway, the upshot is that the cost of attendance in recent years is:

      2014-15: $81,900
      2013-14: $78,700

      Attending HLS got more expensive by $3,200 in one year, according to the numbers they give.

      And actually, the numbers given by Harvard are incorrectly summed up. If you add the 2013-14 budget items up, actually, the cost is $78,350.

      So, in reality, Harvard is $3,550 more expensive this year than last year. $2,500 of that cost is pure tuition increase. Why should HLS charge $2500 more this year? Who knows, they dont have to justify themselves to anyone and the rest of legal academia will just ape them and follow suit.

      A further question: How long until Harvard Law Scam costs $100,000 per year to attend?

      Let's assume tuition increases of $3,550 each year:

      2014-15: $81,900 (now)
      2015-16: $85,450
      2016-17: $89,000
      2017-18: $92,550
      2018-19: $96,100
      2019-20: $99,650 (5 years later)
      2020-21: $103,200

      So in about 5 years Harvard will cost just about 100K per year. And we can count on the rest of the schools to mindlessly benchmark HLS' tuition prices. Thanks for setting great trends in academia, Harvard. We are so grateful for your ivory tower generosity you bestow on we ignorant American peasants. Thank you for letting some of us pay $250,000 to learn law. We know it would be impossible to teach law for less money. Thank you that it will only cost $100,000 per year to attend your school in 2019. Thank you for being a responsible trend-setter for the rest of academia. American students pay too little for their non-vocational legal training at the hands of socially-conscious progressive thinkers. When HLS costs $300,000 we will all thank you again for achieving social justice.

      As for the Harvard Law Scam graduate, those serving under-served communities are going to find themselves under-served. Those global leaders for the 21st century will lead the world in educational debt they'll be paying off for the rest of the century.

    7. 7:21 once again.

      If you guys need ideas for blog posts, please do one on the cost of attending Harvard Law School. It could be multi-part, with historical info, future projections, quotes from their hypocritical social justice rhetoric that accompanies their bombshell prices.

      HLS is important because virtually all the other schools will mindlessly copy what HLS does in tuition pricing (and pedagogy, administrative organization, etc.).

      The Law School Scam is in large part driven by the Harvard Law School Scam. Please expose them!!!!!

      PS - as a personal aside, I was waitlisted by HLS twice and now consider it to be a huge blessing that I was rejected and did not attend law school. $250,000 in loans would have ruined my life, and I dont want to work in a big law psychopath-training environment.

    8. Can't fault the math and definitely agree with the comments that some 200 law schools are much like their lemming 0Ls in slavishly following the outrageous costs set out by schools like HLS.

      But something to be considered is if you're one of the ~ 270 students listed on their 2013 form 509 who are receiving half-to-full* scholarships, that can change the calculus.

      * NB, not to overstate the "full" aspect - it appears only about 30 of those kids got full tuition. The remaining ~ 240 were at "half-to-full".

      And then there were some 540 in the "less than half" category - those probably wouldn't change the math much (i.e., going from "too darn high" to "yeah, still too darn high" not being helpful).

      And I did note that 7:21 as a waitlisted app would not find any relief from the above so I'm not arguing in any way here with 7:21's personal decision - I'm talking the general case, not his/hers specifically.

    9. Well, you have to admit, Harvard is very effective at educating some of the biggest sociopaths in the country and sending them to work for government and outfits like Goldman Sachs, so its value is clear.

    10. Not only cost but employment options. Employment outcomes are mixed from Harvard Law. With someone with a Harvard Law cum laude and Article III clerkship with several years of big law. Guess what- cannot even get a job interview and is unemployed. I know others in the same boat with similar records. There may be no employment opportunities after Harvard Law and BigLaw. The lawyer glut has hit Harvard Law grads very hard, but less so at the entry level and more at young middle age and after that.

    11. To gain admission to HLS, these bright kids had to save villages in Africa and cure cancer. Or at least claim this on their applications. Now America fails Harvard by flooding the market with sans-culottes lawyers. How are Harvard grads supposed to run America if they can't even get second jobs?

      More importantly, HLS' admissions dean is supposed to be selecting future presidents and senior corporate affirmative action hires. Not doc reviewers and craigslist part timers. At this rate they will need to rename it Harvard Coastal Law School. They will need a space law center to lure in the lemmings. Does Harvard deserve this shabby treatment from America?

    12. If your career shelf life is much shorter than you want or need to work, or you have long periods of unemployment while looking for work, HLS may be a poor choice, even for superstars. No one is safe from career death in law. Law is a bad bet for a number of very top law school grads. Don't say there is something wrong with these people. What is wrong is the legal job market for experienced lawyers with top credentials.

  14. Gawker: "It is now completely clear to everyone that law school is for suckers"


    1. That one's ca. 3 years old.

      Try this one, too (from today). As of now, it already has 240+ comments.


  15. There is serious harm being done to the institution of LS by ABA and LS admins (see falling enrollees). Much like the Pinto, Betamax, and other bygone products, the harm to the brand/class will take generations to undo. Mostly because the ABA, lawyers, professors, and the "adults" refuse to do anything about the current state. It's sad. When the house burns down, the damage inflicted will inevitably include the entire brand (including the top 12 schools that should survive).

    1. I generally hold the ABA in contempt but on this one they are blameless. They tried to hold the line but the antitrust goons at USDOJ forced their hand. If accreditation was done by government under an interstate compact there would be less of a problem.

    2. There's another way to write ABA, namely, "regulatory capture." How absurd is it for the federal government to out-source its quality control (which governs the financial health of its lending portfolio) to a private entity that is quite literally run by persons who are simultaneously employed by the institutions they oversee? It's pathetic. It's America. It's faux regulation in a country that does not want either genuinely free markets or genuinely, centrally-controlled markets.

      There are approximately 40 million federal student debtors today; we're adding 10 million per year in a country of 311 million, many of whom are past schooling age. In six years at this pace, it's 100 million, 1/3 of the entire populace that's been inducted into this market already massively awash in the inability to repay.

      Matt Taibbi really said it best: student lending is a massive tax on the labor of just one demographic. Millennials are spoiled, lazy, entitled "takers"...allegedly... meanwhile the average Medicare recipient - just the average - receives $350,000 more in benefits from Medicare than he paid in during his entire lifetime in taxes. Which generation is the entitlement generation???

      The student lending system is inter-generational, economic warfare. Respond accordingly.

    3. I don't agree that the ABA is blameless. The USDOJ is not forcing the ABA to accredit every new toilet that someone decides to set up. Nor does it prevent the ABA from imposing a meaningful standard for admission to law school (people now get in with LSAT scores in the 120s, so really the only requirement is to take the LSAT; any score will do).

      I do, however, agree that accreditation should be run by government rather than by an odious "professional" organization run by scamsters (deans of law skules, Infilaw flim-flam artists, corporate shills, and so on).

      Old Guy

    4. Agreed, that the antitrust screen is hogwash. It is an old document by some official who is no longer at DOJ and was not written the context of a huge oversupply of lawyers. In fact, the relevant standards for accreditation would require limiting the numbers of accredited law schools and the number of students they are accredited to graduate where their graduates cannot get jobs.

    5. Actually, 5:12, the ABA did enter into a consent decree with USDOJ following a lawsuit by Massachusetts School of Law which, ironically enough, remains unaccredited. I know of at least one other anti-trust suit; there may well have been others. Among other things, MSL argued that competition would lower tuition. I swear I am not making this up.

  16. Great post, Old Guy. Based on your post and subsequent replies, you appear to an intelligent and thoughtful individual. So intelligent and thoughtful, in fact, that you may have created a paradox here.

    You've stated that you're a graduate of an elite law school. Could that elite law school, however misrepresented and overpriced, have actually contributed to making you the observant, incisive and articulate person you are today?

    1. No, I don't think that it contributed much. Some people in my first-year class claimed that law school was teaching them a whole new way of thinking, but I never felt that in the slightest. I was as observant, incisive, and articulate before law school as I am now.

      In addition, the admissions office of the law school that I attended gives applicants past their twenties extra scrutiny on the grounds that we older people are allegedly set in our ways and cannot learn readily. If that be so, the law school cannot take much credit for contributing to my development.

      Old Guy

  17. Georgetown is at 46.5% BL +FC, which is extremely close to 50%. With its enormous PI % relative to the other schools ranked 7-14 (25.6%, and if you wish to subtract school-funded, then 18%), the discrepancy appears to be due to self-selection. Consider that the most similar school wrt PI placement is Berkeley, which comes in barely ahead, at 55%.

  18. Georgetown is at 46.5% BL +FC, which is extremely close to 50%. With its enormous PI % relative to the other schools ranked 7-14 (25.6%, and if you wish to subtract school-funded, then 18%), the discrepancy appears to be due to self-selection. Consider that the most similar school wrt PI placement is Berkeley, which comes in barely ahead, at 55%.

  19. The author doesn't consider income based loan repayment plans, and loan forgiveness for public interest careers. While I do agree that taking on $200K + debt is painful no matter what school you go to, there is a middle ground for people who want government jobs like prosecutors or public defenders. As long as their debt is under control, and they are able to get those jobs, they can make it out fine.
    Also, a good job is not limited to big law and federal clerkships. Federal government, state government, and state court clerkships are all good options for recent law grads. These jobs can be just as hard to get as big law.
    By the author's logic, no one should bother attending law school, because everyone wants to go into big law and these jobs suck! And federal clerkships are only for one year and after that it's big law! Widen the perspective a bit and see what people actually do with their JDs.

    1. Keeping debt under control is not easy; getting a job in government is even more difficult. Plenty of people who want jobs in government cannot get them. Government agencies have even been known in recent years to run competitions for unpaid jobs—and demand high marks from a well-regarded law school. Furthermore, the few openings for inexperienced prosecutors or public defenders tend to go to the graduates of the 13 law schools that I mentioned; the unconnected graduates of La Toilette need not apply.

      Income-based repayment has been discussed here many times. It is no answer to the problem of unaffordable tuition coupled with poor prospects of employment as a lawyer.