Law Schools, Student Loans

The Hubris of Would-Be Lawyers

The oversupply of lawyers. It’s a problem. There might not be a lawyer oversupply at the bottom end where poor clients need legal services at a price point that makes it hard for young lawyers to pay off their debts. But at the top end, there are too many lawyers seeking a diminishing number of $160K jobs.

You can blame the ABA and its liberal accreditation polices. You can blame law schools themselves, for charging high tuition to students who will not be able to land the highest paying jobs.

But some of the blame has to fall to young would-be lawyers themselves. Prospective law students have the information, they can look at market trends. They know how much they’ll have to take out on loan in order to debt finance an education. But they refuse to listen to the information available to them, and instead rush headlong into a very expensive education. Law school applications are up, even as the legal economy is going down. That’s a disconnect.

A new survey from Kaplan shows that prospective law students aren’t getting any smarter about their own decisions. Oh, they know what they’re up against — but in a show of amazing statistical ignorance, they seem to think that they”ll beat the odds, while their classmates will be screwed…

These stats really explain why the legal economy looks the way it does today:

A down economy hasn’t dampened aspiring lawyers’ confidence in their ability to get a job in the legal field – just their confidence in their peers’ ability to do so. According to a recent Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions survey of 330 pre-law students, 52% report that they are “very confident” that they will find a job in the legal field after graduating law school and passing the bar, but only 16% say they are “very confident” that the majority of their fellow aspiring lawyers will do the same. In fact, only seven percent of respondents indicated a lack of confidence in their own ability to secure employment upon graduation. Pre-law students’ attitudes are in keeping with research showing that students aged 18-29 are more optimistic about their economic future – despite a sluggish job market – than past generations.

Are you pre-law students insane? Those 330 pre-law survey respondents should be walking around with bicycle helmets for their own protection. To paraphrase King Theoden: “What can men do against such reckless stupidity?”

Honestly, the depths of hubris the would-be graduating class of 2013 shows here is beyond “self-confidence,” it goes straight to “self-delusion.” There’s no way 52% of pre-law students should be “very confident” about anything other than getting screwed with their pants on — and the fact that these same people can only point out the flaws in their own logic when thinking about other people is sickening. It’s the same idiocy that makes a person say “I can get a Biglaw job coming out of Law School X so long as I’m in the top ten percent of the class,” without understanding that everybody thinks they’ll be in the top ten percent of the class.

Really, I blame the parents and the educators. Where are the mothers and fathers that can, you know, read publicly available information? Where is the senior year pre-law requirement in “objective reality”? Who is taking these kids aside and smacking some sense into them?

And there’s another huge problem with where these kids are mentally:

[Jeff Thomas, Kaplan director of pre-law programs] also noted that he’s witnessed a growing number of pre-law students pursuing law degrees with the intent of seeking non-lawyer jobs.

Wonderful, just make sure those non-lawyer jobs pay something close to $160K or else those law school debts will suffocate your bank account from the inside out. Idiots.

I don’t really know what to say. I suppose it’s the problem with America. Everybody thinks they’re special, everybody thinks they’ll emerge from the scrum. People don’t revolt against obscenely wealthy oligarchs because they think that one day, they’ll be obscenely wealthy oligarchs.

If you think that 84% of your classmates are making a terrible career decision, just know that you are somebody’s classmate too.

Kaplan Survey: Despite Challenging Job Market, Tomorrow’s Lawyers Appear to Have a Healthy Outlook on Their Own Job Prospects, But Not Their Classmates’ [Kaplan]

Earlier: ABA Defends Itself — and Explains Why It Can’t Stop New Law Schools
Just How Crappy Is Legal Education Today?

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