Football, Job Searches, Law Schools, Sports, Student Loans

Gradenfreude: The Legal Profession Has the Luck of the Irish

With the Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s attempt to win their first national championship in a quarter of a century, and at the same time, their attempt to end the Southeastern Conference’s years of dominance of the BCS, I am hoping that this return to glory by a once storied franchise will be accompanied by a return to glory for the storied legal profession.

When I was growing up, most thought of lawyers as highly educated, intelligent, and self-motivated (even to a fault) professionals. Many considered lawyers to be part of the upper echelon of society, and most people also believed that simply being a lawyer would result in a huge, guaranteed payday. And for most of college football history, the Fighting Irish received similarly high praise.

In recent years, however, both the legal profession and the Irish have been held up to strong criticism, and were unable to enjoy the same success people became accustomed to. Even while I was still in law school at my TTT, respected attorneys told me not to worry about the school I was attending, because by the time that I got to my second or third job, no one would care anymore. The little detail that everyone left out was just how much it would matter for that first job — because it’s rough to get to the second or third job when you can’t even find your first, no matter how hard you try.

Going along with the Fighting Irish’s return to the top, here’s a look at a few other things that were once closely associated with the legal profession that are no longer true, but would be welcomed back with open arms….

A return to the days were law schools didn’t have to lie to make the end game seem better than it actually was.

We all went to school thinking that if 75 percent or more of the prior class got jobs within nine months of graduation — with average salaries of over $50,000 — then we’d wind up with legal jobs where the salary would be over $50,000. No such luck, thanks to those supposedly skewed statistics. Right along with this, of course, is the return to the day where jobs were plentiful and actually worth the years of time and money spent in law school, as opposed to only 55 percent (a failing mark at any stage of education) being able to find an employment opportunity of any kind in the legal profession.

An end to the immoral practice of misrepresenting facts to young adults who will subsequently be taught not to misrepresent facts when dealing with clients.

Besides the obvious irony of this situation, it also hurts the job market, the economy, and law school costs. These tactics have helped oversaturate the job market, and in turn, created a massive law school loan bubble. (And not for nothing, but some of those loans should never have been given out, and will likely never be repaid.) The economy is hurt because the cost of attending law school keeps rising, increasing the size of the debt bubble. As long as students continue to think that there may actually be jobs out there for them, they’ll keep shelling out the dough in the hope of their future success.

A return to the quality of law students of yesteryear.

While I was in school, numerous people informed me that the main reason they decided to attend law school was their inability to find a job that was even remotely in the field of their undergraduate degree. Many of them had never even thought about the idea of becoming an attorney until the Great Recession. While at a time, this may not have been a completely terrible reason to attend, this “I don’t know what else to do” attitude is part of the problem that’s led to the oversaturation of the legal profession.

Unfortunately, last night we were reminded that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The SEC is still the dominant conference in college football, Notre Dame is better but not elite, and the legal profession still has more problems than solutions. Damn, I was just starting to think positively, too. Oh well.

When not writing about life after law school for Above the Law, Tristan Taylor Thomas (not his real name) works at a retail job stocking shelves — which he admits is slightly better than being a shoeshiner. You can reach him by email at

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