Law Schools

Try telling a recent college grad to think critically before applying to law school. Just try to do it. It won’t be long before the young person you are trying to help gets inappropriately angry and shouts, “Well what AM I supposed to do, you fat f**k? Seriously oh wise internet blogger, what the hell am I supposed to do, work at Barnes & Noble? Oh wait, they’re not hiring, a$$hole.”

Yeah, recent college grads tend to act like going to law school (or some other professional school or post-graduate degree program) is their only option in a market that doesn’t have enough jobs. Citing the results of a recent poll taken by Twentysomething Inc., Time reports that 85% of 2011 college graduates are expected to move back in with their parents. (Gavel bang: BL1Y.)

Honestly guys, this is how riots start. Unemployed adults living in forced infancy without enough money to start a family of their own. That’s the tinder that has brought down pretty much every society ever.

The report reiterates what we already know: people are turning to professional school to wait out this terrible job market.

In the face of these numbers… well, I still think that people going to law school simply in response to a difficult job market are making a terrible and ruinous choice. Here’s why….

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Of course this happened. Of course Andrew Meyer, the University of Florida student who was famously tased during a John Kerry speech, ended up going to law school. Of course a law school looked at Meyer’s history of barely civil disobedience and resisting police and said, “Come on down.”

And really, Meyer’s story isn’t even the craziest law school matriculation story out there today. Not in a world where a 15-year-old kid is trying to figure out which law school he’s going to.

Which institutions of legal education are welcoming these students with non-traditional life stories?

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We know that tuition keeps going up at American law schools. And, for the most part, we know where the money goes. Law schools use tuition money and alumni donations to fund capital projects and law professor salaries. And, at some schools, the law school kicks back some money to the larger university. Law schools are cash cows, and everybody likes money.

Who is to blame for this? It’s hard to say. I tend to blame the American Bar Association, since the ABA is one of the few entities with regulatory authority over legal education (some law students are trying to get the Department of Education involved).

If the ABA will not act, it’s only natural for people to make as much money as possible, with reckless disregard to who gets trampled along the way. But one can find other culprits if you look hard enough. You could blame law school administrators, who are more concerned with money than education. You could blame the students themselves, for willingly forking over all of this cash. You could blame the federal government, for seemingly giving away money without making sure the taxpayers are getting a return on their investment.

But you know who you shouldn’t blame? Law school faculty. That’s right — they might get fancy new buildings and make six-figure salaries, but it’s not really their fault that the cost of a legal education has outstripped its value.

Who among us would not take more money and more perks for doing our same job?

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You have the tools to build your own life.

Another day, and another round-up of terrible job opportunities available to J.D. holders. I think it’s important to continue bringing these jobs to your attention. I think it’s important to have a place on the web where people can go to answer the question: Why is it a big deal if Indiana Tech opens another law school? Somebody needs to keep an eye on what future graduates from such institutions will be doing for a living.

Today we’ve got two God-awful job opportunities. As we’ve said repeatedly, you can’t get on our radar as a terrible job unless you are offering something more interesting than low pay for overqualified individuals (though offering a Depression era hourly wage is always a good start).

Check out these two jobs, which add the insult to injury that unemployed J.D. holders are really looking for…

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Does somebody have to die? Does somebody have to commit suicide? Does somebody have to leave a suicide note that reads, “I just couldn’t go on paying off the debts I incurred from going to this law school”? What is it going to take before somebody, some organization, some kind of regulatory authority steps in and prevents universities from opening up debt-generation shops under the guise of providing legal education?

There have been some recent successes in the fight to get people to think before they open a new law school. Plans to further saturate the legal market with expensive J.D.s have been tabled in North Texas and Delaware.

But this is a game of whack-a-mole that can’t be won without regulatory control. The Indiana Institute of Technology is going forward with its law school plan, because nobody will stop them….

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Fed up with the slow movement towards law school transparency, several law school student body presidents are appealing to a higher power. They’ve proposed legislation that would require law schools to engage in some honest reporting practices, under the oversight of the Department of Education.

If the American Bar Association is too weak or too unwilling to act, these students are hoping the DOE will take into account the best interests of students. Arne Duncan, if you are listening, every law student in America could use your help.

The movement seems to be spearheaded by Nate Burris, the student president at Boston College Law School. But 55 other SBA presidents have signed on, representing law schools in 27 states.

We already know that the legal educators don’t give a damn about the changes their students would like to see, but is there any chance law makers or the DOE will take a look?

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Is it really that hard to make a commencement speech? I wrote one in high school. It was basically about seizing the day. My friend made one in college. Same theme, only in Latin. You can also make commencement speeches about giving back to your community, the importance of education, or how your generation is the most awesome generation ever to be generated. It’s not hard, people.

And yet people consistently screw it up. Today we have two different ways that people can screw up a commencement speech — one example from an old person, one example from a young person. One example from a very good law school, one example from a school that isn’t ranked that highly.

Apparently, anybody can screw up a commencement address if they try hard enough….

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Law school deans — as well as other administrators, and law students — obsess over law school rankings. It’s understandable why deans fixate on rankings; for better or worse, it’s their job.

But what about law students? Should they put so much stock in rankings? Do people, specifically employers, pay too much attention to where an applicant went to law school?

May is graduation month. Once you’re out in the real world of legal employment, do folks actually care where you went to school? That’s the topic for the latest installment in the ATL career advice webcast, sponsored by the Practical Law Company: Does your law school matter?

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Does where you went to law school matter?

Ervin Burell was a man who know how to 'juke the stats.'

All right folks, graduation is upon us. If you are a 3L who did not secure a post-graduate legal job, I’m sorry. Your life isn’t over, but law school didn’t work out as well for you as you might have hoped. At least not yet.

Not that your law schools want anybody to know that. No, according to your law school, you, unemployed 3L, are an embarrassment. They wish you would just go away. They don’t want to be reminded that you exist. Why? Because your unemployment could hurt your law school’s U.S. News ranking.

Unfortunately for some schools, U.S. News is actually paying more attention these days to schools that simply ignore their unemployed 3Ls for purposes of reporting their employed-upon-graduation statistics. Maybe U.S. News can’t force schools to report only those students employed in legitimate legal jobs, but they can punish schools that refuse to report on all of their recent graduates.

You know what that means: bring on your fake job programs, designed largely for rankings-enhancement purposes.

Let’s try to collect all of the schools that are enacting ridiculous “employment” programs that seem designed primarily to enhance their U.S. News rank. We’ll get you started with a fun one….

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California bar exam results will be made available to applicants tonight, at 6 PM (PDT). The pass list will be made public on Sunday at 6 AM (PDT). Congratulations to all of you who passed, and better luck next time — and next time, and next time — to those of you who failed.

Here’s an open thread for discussion. And here’s an earlier post looking at which CA law schools had the highest bar passage rates (for the July 2010 administration of the exam).

New lawyers! California, here they come….

February 2011 California Bar Examination Pass List [State Bar of California]

Earlier: California Bar Exam Results By Law School: Open Thread
The Bar Exam: If At First You Don’t Succeed…

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