Law Students

Between 2008 and 2012, the median debt burden for newly minted JDs increased by 54 percent, from $83,000 to $128,000. (That compares with a 22 percent increase in medical student debt.) It is the responsibility of every aspiring law student to understand the implications of taking on such a financial commitment. For law grads who have already accumulated the debt, there may be options for you to better manage repayment. Thanks to our friends at DRB, today’s infographic takes a look at law student debt, including the possible benefits of refinance or consolidation. Click here for more details.

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‘Should I go to law school? Nah, I don’t want to be poor.’

Last year, there was such a substantial national decline [in law school applicants], and a lot of law school deans said, “It’s got to be the bottom of the market, right?” People assume there has to be an uptick, because there’ll be a recovery and students will see an opportunity to get into better schools. But then a year goes by and there’s an additional decline. I will say this: The preliminary data I’ve seen on the students who have taken the LSAT this year suggests that we’re not seeing a big recovery — let’s put it that way.

– Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez of Northwestern Law, in an interview where he discussed the problems that law schools face in the post-recession world.

This girl will cut you and/or f*ck you.

Now that Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, summer is here. Law students like to hold grudges, though, so we’re still hearing about insane tales from the law school finals period.

Law students can be ultra competitive, and they become even more so during exam time. You may have heard stories about law students ripping pages from much needed books to prevent their classmates from getting ahead. You may have heard stories about law students deleting pages of outlines from their classmates’ laptops to ensure their own success on the grading curve.

But we’re pretty sure you’ve never heard about sexy law school retribution before….

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I previously wrote about the depressing prospects for graduates of all but the top ten or twenty law schools (“Two Law Grad Markets”). And yes, these were statistical generalizations, and the experience of specific individuals with particular skills and backgrounds will always be different, pro and con. But as an industry, if you care about our supply chain for talent, many law schools are burning platforms.

There are actually some closely connected problems driving this dynamic:

  • More JDs are being turned out each year than there are (a) full-time, (b) long-term jobs, (c) requiring bar passage, (d) at current salary levels;
  • perhaps the primary reason for the mismatch between supply of JDs and current demand for them (about two supplied for every one today’s market is demanding) is that clients increasingly resist paying for junior associates, which makes it uneconomic for firms to invest in traditional training;
  • but/and at the same time, every sentient observer is painfully aware that vast segments of the U.S. population — consumers and businesses alike — remain underserved by lawyers.

This would prompt any economist to ask, almost instinctively, “Why isn’t there a market-clearing price where supply and demand can meet?” Which is another way of asking, “What if there were a way to address both these problems at a single stroke?”

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In case you’re not aware, law school costs a lot of money. Just one year of legal education can run the average law student more than $50,000. Many, if not most, law students take out loans to cover the costs of law school, but some are lucky enough to have their educations paid for in full by their parents. The students in the latter group are beholden to their parents and can’t run the risk of making them angry, for fear of getting cut off financially.

Of course, today’s incredible tale deals with a law student in her 20s who pissed her parents off so badly that they refused to continue paying for her prestigious law school tuition. This girl did what any law student with cash flow problems would’ve done: she became a prostitute.

This law student cum lady of the night came across some choice clientele, as one of her top johns, a man in his late 60s, was a lawyer at a prominent firm. You can guess what happened next: the lawyerly lovers created a sex contract, and the relationship quickly soured. As it turns out, notwithstanding Fifty Shades of Grey (affiliate link), sex isn’t quite so sexy when it’s wrapped in a condom of legal terms.

The pair ended up suing each other, and now we’ve got a juicy judgment for you to feast your eyes upon…

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Would you like fries with your entitlement?

Back in March, we brought you a story about a law student gunner who questioned his way out of a summer job with a law firm. It was awesome and awful, all at the same time.

Today, we’ve got yet another law student employment train wreck. When you’re searching for a summer job in this economy — or really, any job at all, even after graduation — you don’t have very much bargaining power as to your starting salary. Apparently some law students aren’t familiar with this fact.

Pay close attention, 1Ls, because this is a teachable moment. If you want to negotiate for a higher salary, please don’t tell a law firm managing partner that you consider his firm’s summer wages to be on par with those of a “McDonald’s hourly worker”…

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* When it comes to billing rates, starting at the junior level, female law firm partners are still lagging behind their male counterparts by an average of 10 percent less. Boo. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Just in time for the graduation of one of the largest law school classes in history, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says the legal sector is shedding jobs. That sucks. Sorry Class of 2014. [Am Law Daily]

* Law school deans are dropping like flies. Since last week, at least three have announced their intention to leave their positions. We know of one more that we may discuss later. [National Law Journal]

* If you want to work as an attorney, your odds are better if you go to a Top 50 law school. Seventy-five percent of Top 50 grads are working as lawyers, compared to 50% of all others. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* The verdict is in on the latest Apple v. Samsung patent case, and Apple is probably pretty miffed it was awarded only $120M this time, since lawyers for the company requested billions in damages. [Reuters]

* Laura LaPlante, a 3L who was set to graduate from U. Chicago Law on June 16, RIP. [Chicago Tribune]

I get at least an email a week from law students seeking advice on what they should be doing to secure a law firm job involving China. This post is my once and future answer to those emails.

Two kinds of firms have a China law practice: mega firms (I began my career at one) and high end boutiques (I founded one). A small number of in-house lawyers also do China work, but nearly all of these lawyers went in-house after working for a mega firm or a high end boutique. Both kinds of firms generally interview only law students with top grades from highly rated law schools.

This means that entry-level China law jobs in the United States are generally limited to only the best students at the best schools. On top of this, most mega firms do not have recent graduates work on international law matters because they believe associates must first master corporate law or tax law or dispute resolution or labor law or IP law or whatever before being tasked with the additional layer of complexity of an international matter.

So what are the options for a law student who wants to practice China law?

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Edward Snowden

* When asked whether she thought Edward Snowden was “a whistleblower or a traitor,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg politely declined to answer — justices of the Supreme Court don’t just give previews of their opinions. [CNN]

* Ed Siskel recently left his role as deputy counsel in the Office of White House Counsel. It’s anyone’s guess which Biglaw firm added Gene Siskel’s nephew to its practice. Hopefully it’ll get a thumbs-up. [Politics Now / Los Angeles Times]

* It’s a “tale of two law schools”: the kind that place their students in jobs and the kind that let them languish in unemployment or underemployment. More on this tomorrow. [National Law Journal]

* Two NYU Law students’ emails were subpoenaed after they denounced the business activities of one of the law school’s trustees. Now, we’re not going to say that the school picked a side, but… [DNAinfo]

* Congrats, you can “Like” General Mills all you want without fear of arbitration. The company was so overwhelmed by negative consumer response that it withdrew its new legal terms. [New York Times]

After the Civil War, Robert E. Lee accepted a position as president of what was then called Washington College. By all accounts, he served the school well and had a nice end of life. After his death, Washington College was renamed Washington & Lee.

Today, many black people attend the university that bears Marse Robert’s surname, so I guess we won. But a group of black law students at Washington & Lee Law School is getting really sick of the university’s consistent, stars-and-bars waving support of Lee’s legacy and the whitewashing (no pun intended) of what that legacy represents.

They’ve got a list of some very specific “demands” for the Washington & Lee administration…

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