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Many people consider going to law school because they think they have no other career options after college. For most of these people, their GPA wasn’t great, and they have an average or even bad LSAT score. So they resign themselves to going to an average law school with plans to do really well in their first year and then transfer to a top school.

We warn the noobs that going to law school on a whim is a bad idea. We tell them about the many law students who don’t make it to the top of the class and are unable to get a job after graduation. So they are back to square one. But our warning does not address a fundamental problem: what alternatives do these people really have?

While that is ultimately not our problem, I want to talk about some alternatives to law school that an applicant should consider:

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “3 Worthwhile Alternatives To Law School”

Despite surveys showing that being a law firm associate is the unhappiest job in America, we know a fair number of happy lawyers. We don’t tend to write about them very much — we like our stories to have a little more bite or edge around here — but there is such a thing as a happy lawyer (affiliate link).

Still, there’s no denying that the stereotype of the miserable lawyer has some truth to it — and that, after a while, some of these lawyers leave the legal profession. Most people who go to medical school end up practicing medicine for the long haul; many people who go to law school end up doing something different after a while.

If you’re thinking of leaving the law, what should you do?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Thinking Of Leaving The Law? Here Are Some Resources”

* “[T]he nation’s last explicit ban of the right to bear arms has bitten the dust.” On Saturday, a federal judge said D.C. couldn’t ban the carrying of guns in public for self-defense. [Legal Times]

* Late on Friday, Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage was tossed by a state judge, making it latest in a string of major legal victories for marriage equality. Congrats, Floridians! [Bloomberg]

* There’s been some new updates in the case of Dan Markel, the young FSU Law professor who was murdered in his own home. We’ll have more on the details police released later today. [CNN]

* “I’ve come to the realization I’d really like to have a paycheck at some point.” Ouch. Law school graduates in Florida are starting to feel the pain of a very tough job market, and they’re not too happy about the situation. [Tampa Bay Times]

* “[T]hey treat us like step children instead of adoptees.” A group of Texas Wesleyan Law graduates have filed a complaint (in vain?) with the ABA in the pursuit of new diplomas from Texas A&M Law. [WFAA 8]

The traditional arguments against going to law school are: (1) there are too many lawyers and not enough jobs; (2) tuition and student loan debts are too damn high; (3) the high-paying or high-powered jobs are available only to the top students of the top schools; and (4) most “JD Advantage” jobs could have been obtained without a law degree.

The typical response to the above is something along the lines of, “That won’t apply to be because I’m going to put in the work and be one of the top students.” Now those of us who lived through law school might find this amusing and even ridiculous. But we can’t really blame them for their determination. We were their age once. Back then, the world was a playground and full of opportunities. If 0Ls today know all of the risks and can obtain a decent scholarship at least for the 1L year, then they should take a shot and see where they fall on the bell curve.

Today, I am going to talk about a few issues regarding law school and law practice that have not been discussed (at least extensively) amongst the law school critics. The issues apply to most students (even the top students) of almost every law school….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Understanding Law School: 3 Common Misperceptions”

These days, when someone announces that they’re going to law school, there’s a cacophony of groans from law school graduates pleading, nay, begging that the prospective law student do something else with their lives. “There aren’t any jobs!” they shout. “You’ll be drowning in debt!” they scream. Some people listen and don’t enroll, but others forge ahead to become future members of the exponentially growing army of law school naysayers.

But what if we told you that there’s some evidence that the jobs are coming back? What if we told you that there are some law schools that have seen more than 20 percent improvement in their employment rates?

If you think we’re crazy, keep reading, because we’ve got some hard data for you…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Are These The Law Schools With The Largest Gains In Employment?”

With the number of LSAT takers dropping yet again, the law school class of 2017 is likely to reach a similar low. And there is no indication that the application freefall has stabilized. Regardless, just about everyone (except for this guy) agrees that law school is still either an extremely risky gamble or a complete a waste of time and money.

But for those who are determined to go to law school no matter what any rational, non-biased individual says, I want to help make your dream come true. So while I am waiting for future job interviews, I am going to again interrupt my Back In The Race programming to give the future lawyers some advice that I wish someone had given me when I was an idealistic pre-law student. This is not a joke. Nor am I going to use a clever pitch like “Yale or Fail.”

The next few weeks should be spent taking some proactive and reflective steps to ensure that you will attend the right school and leave with minimal debt. Keep reading to figure out how….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Go To Law School — Seriously. Just Do A Few Things First.”

We’ve spent a fair amount of time in these pages decrying the low wages that contract attorneys are being offered. And the reasons for this go deeper than just some intrinsic belief that attorneys deserve to make more than minimum wage or the somewhat selfish desire to pay more than the minimum amount due on your student loans (or any of your other financial obligations).

Accepting low-paying jobs, and doing a decent (read: non-malpractice) job, has the effect of driving down the overall market rate. Once one major staffing agency or vendor starts offering below-market rates, others start dipping their toe into the cheaper waters and before you know it, the market standard has changed . . . and not in a way that helps contract attorneys. This reality has even gotten some begging their compatriots not to take below the market rate and even floating the idea of a contract attorney union.

So aside from the obvious, and all too common, scenario where you are trying to stave off financial ruin, is it ever okay to take a job that pays significantly below the market rate?

This is more than just a hypothetical question…

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J.D. = Just Debt

* Per the latest Gallup study, Republican approval of SCOTUS is up, while Democratic approval is down. Gee, considering how the biggest cases of OT 2013 went down, no one should be terribly surprised by this news. [New York Times]

* Will our leader make the grade? Law profs wrote a strongly worded letter to President Obama, asking that he not include a religious exemption in his executive order prohibiting anti-gay bias in federal contractor hiring. [National Law Journal]

* Hey guys, there’s a new report out that contains some pretty shocking information about the realities of life after law school. Seriously, who knew that would-be lawyers were poor? Oh wait, we did. [CNN Money]

* Washington & Lee recently surrendered its Confederate flags to appease its black student population. Here’s an interview with Brandon Hicks, the law student behind the historic movement. [Huffington Post]

* “Fret for your latte, and fret for your lawsuit.” Tool hasn’t put out a new album in in almost a decade, and it’s all because of one pesky little lawsuit filed way back in 2007 that just won’t go away. [Rolling Stone]

See the resemblance here?

* Utah is appealing its gay marriage case directly to the Supreme Court, presumably because the state’s attorney general doesn’t even want to bother with an en banc hearing before the Tenth Circuit. This should be good. [Salt Lake Tribune]

* Perkins Coie recently appointed its first ever Washington, D.C.-based managing partner in its 102-year history. Congrats to John Devaney, who will lead a “true national firm” beginning in January 2015. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* When your career goes awry in Biglaw through no one’s fault but your own, you can end up living your life in shame or in jail. We’re going venture a guess and say the former is nicer than the latter. [Am Law Daily]

* How can law school graduates obtain law work experience? Simple. Get on your knees and learn how to please. Just kidding. Take some advice from this “poorly written” article instead. [CollegeRecruiter.com]

* Everything about Lacey Jonas from Grand Theft Auto V is so Lindsay Lohan-esque that she should totally win her lawsuit. Just take it from someone who’s “no legal expert, but know[s] [her] tabloid stars.” [TIME]

* Need a break from bar exam studying? Searching for something to do as a summer associate? Are you an attorney in need of fun? Come to tonight’s trivia event! All are welcome, sign up here. [Above the Law]

Ed. note: Please welcome Steve Dykstra, our newest columnist, who will be covering the Canadian legal market.

I am a Canadian-trained lawyer and legal recruiter. I recruit throughout North America so I really get to study the legal systems on both sides of the border. I thought it would be fun and interesting to highlight some of the differences between the American and Canadian systems — hence the column’s title, “The View From Up North”.

As this is my first column, I want to provide a bit of an overview. In coming weeks, I’ll focus more narrowly on specific topics.

Sound good?

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