Student Loans

How much prestige does your school serve?

How far are we from getting real answers about the value proposition of going to law school? Pretty far, if you read the New York Times Week in Review. An article by Jacques Steinberg illustrates that researchers don’t even really know if receiving an elite undergraduate education is worth the price.

The Times asks: Is going to an elite college worth the cost? And it comes up with this answer: “It depends.” Thanks NYT. Is mainstream, old media publishing dying a slow death? It depends on how many people want to read articles like this on their Kindles.

Oh, I kid, Grey Lady. It’s not particularly satisfying, but the article provides support for believing whatever it is you believed before you read the article. Do you think that going to the most prestigious school that will accept you is the better long-term choice for your career? Great, you’re right. Do you think that, depending on your family situation, going to a cheaper state school is the right choice for you? Great, right again. Do you think that successful people will succeed? Awesome! The Times likes circles too.

Yay, everybody made the right decision. And since most of the research was done on people who made college choices ten years ago, the ridiculous inflation in the cost of education only makes it more obvious that people should do the right thing — whatever the hell that might be….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How Much Are Educational Prestige Points Worth in Real Dollars?”

And we might have had a perfect score if it not for that pesky God character floating around.

In the past few weeks, we’ve brought you two stories about would-be lawyers trying to make critical life decisions. There was the first-year law student who was considering dropping out of law school after just one semester. And there was the prospective law student who wanted to take the LSAT instead of attending his grandmother’s funeral.

In the former case, the Above the Law readership overwhelmingly voted for the 1L to drop out of law school. In the later case, I strenuously argued that the person should go to the funeral and take the LSAT later.

We have updates on both people. It appears that Above the Law readers are more persuasive than I am…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Above the Law Is 1 for 2 at Helping Would-Be Lawyers Do the Right Thing”

Next month I’ll be appearing on a panel at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools. The subject of the panel: how to get good press for your law school.

One obvious answer: do good things for your students. Just like the University of Maryland School of Law.

Our coverage of UMB hasn’t always been kind. See, e.g., discussion of former Dean Karen Rothenberg’s controversial pay packages (here and here).

This time, though, Maryland Law is doing the right thing. In a time of strained state budgets, it has succeeded in holding the line on tuition increases (which, as we’ve discussed, are running rampant throughout the law schools). UMB law students won’t see their tuition go up next year, academic year 2011-12, even though students in other schools at the university will.

How did Maryland manage this feat? Let’s take a look — which might prove instructive for other law schools….

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So, let’s say that an intelligent child does do everything that she is told to do from kindergarten through high school, and then goes to Harvard and then to a very good law school, and then into a high-powered law firm, and ends up making $180,000 a year by the time she is thirty. So what? Her life will have been a life of drudgery piled upon drudgery, with no sense of freedom or self-knowledge.

A commenter on the New York Times responding to a Times article about the Race to Nowhere movie.

Martin Luther dropped out of law school -- and so can you.

Lat and I have already had a spirited debate about whether or not a 2L should drop out of law school. Predictably, Lat argued that the 2L should stick with it, while I extolled the virtues of running away and quitting. And the readers weighed in too: 66% of you said that the 2L should hang in there and finish law school.

Well, what if the student is a 1L? What if the student is just in his first semester of 1L year and can get out before incurring even another semester’s worth of debt? Does that change your opinion?

As I said earlier this month, I’m done worrying about the soon-to-be-failed careers of many prospective law students. If you won’t research basic employment information before you commit three years and $100K, nobody can help you.

But I guess I still have a soft spot for people who have to physically see law school for themselves before they realize the gravity of their choices. It’s taken this 1L less than four months to realize that law school / the legal profession presents a challenging value proposition.

Now that he has this information, albeit late, what should he do?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Should You Drop Out of Law School: The Sequel. A 1L Wants Your Advice.”

Chris Christie and Haley Barbour: portly potential presidents.

* Thinking of forwarding a juicy email to [email protected]? A federal court recently ruled that forwarding defamatory email is immunized by 47 U.S.C. § 230. [Eric Goldman / Technology & Marketing Law Blog]

* Kelli Space has almost $200,000 in student loans — and she doesn’t even have a law degree. [Gawker]

* Giving thanks (that you’re not Kelli Space): it’s the classy thing to do. And it’s in your self-interest too. Here are some tips. [What About Clients?]

* Is America ready for a pudgy president? It’s a subject of interest to two large lawyers, Governors Haley Barbour and Chris Christie. [The Daily Beast]

* A man charged with DWI by Duke University police advances a very interesting defense. [WRAL]

* After pay cuts, layoffs, and a management shake-up, Ruden McClosky is “poised to grow.” [ABA Journal]

* If you’re gay and flying today, here’s how to make getting your “freedom pat” a little more fun. [We Won't Fly]

* Maybe I shouldn’t have spent all that time at Wachtell. [Manila Bulletin]

While bonuses are burning up the comments here at Above the Law, there’s another discussion raging over at the ABA’s SoloSez Listserv — where solo and small firm lawyers from around the country share resources, practice tips and the occasional anecdote.

It seems that a 3L at Arizona State’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is seeking sponsors for the remainder of her law school and bar study days. (We noted the development in today’s Morning Docket.)

Claiming the debt load for the average ASU grad has increased by $40,000 since she applied, the 3L is “reaching out to the online community to help [her] pay for it.” Good choice, since everyone knows that bloggers are just rolling in cash.

Given its entrepreneurial nature, this seems right up the small firm alley. But the plan has been received quite poorly by a majority of practitioners.

More about the sponsorship, what she’s willing to do for it, and the identity of the student, after the break…

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At some point, even a lemming needs to take care of itself.

We’ve devoted a lot of coverage around here to efforts at forcing law schools to be more transparent about the true employment opportunities for law graduates. We’ve screamed at the ABA, at NALP, and at law school deans themselves. We’ve begged them to just tell the truth about jobs to would-be law students.

Maybe it’s been a colossal waste of breath. Maybe, at the end of the day, prospective law students just don’t care whether or not they’ll ever be able to get a job. Maybe trying to get them to think about their own futures before they leap into law school is as effective as trying to convince a lemming not to follow his brothers off of the cliff. Maybe they just don’t want to learn.

A new study from Kaplan asked students what factors they considered before choosing a law school. Getting a job barely made the list. I say again, getting a job barely made the list of things people consider when choosing a professional school. You simply cannot help people who won’t help themselves….

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On the Quote of the Day posted over the weekend, a commenter wrote: “In my head I’ve changed the name of this blog from ‘Above the Law’ to ‘The law is f**king stupid and dumb and anyone who goes into it is an idiot forever and did I mention it’s dumb.’ There are still reasons to pursue law.”

This is a fair point. Here at ATL, we do want to encourage debate about the value of a legal education, and we do want people who are thinking of going to law school — many of whom read this site — to go to law school for good reasons, after engaging in sufficient reflection and research. But we don’t want readers to mistake this site for one of the “law school scam” blogs, or to think that we’re opposed to law school for all people under all circumstances. (Of course we aren’t, if for no reason other than self-interest: the more law students and lawyers out there, the more potential readers for Above the Law.)

We’ve previously written in defense of going to law school. See, e.g., my post with that very title.

And last month we solicited from you, our readers, some pro-law-school thoughts. Let’s explore some of them, shall we?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “In Defense of Going to Law School: A Prudential Perspective (Part 2)”

You have to wonder what amount of research the student in question pursued before deciding that law school was a good idea, which then leads you to ask whether you’d want him as your lawyer. Sounds like he would be a good candidate for a sub prime interest-only mortgage, until he wanted a bailout on that, too.

– “Steve” of Geneva, NY, whose comment on the New York Times’s Bucks Blog was highlighted in Saturday’s print edition of the Times (page B5).

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