Prospective Law Students

Everything about 22 Reasons Why Going to Law School Is the Best Decision You’ll Ever Make is sublime. The article touches the face of God by slapping Him and then giving Him the finger. Imagine a defense of law school so bereft of substance that it actually exposes the cynical lie driving the law school-industrial complex. Truly a work of beauty.

Presumably trying to newsjack the success of How To Get Away With Murder (inaccurate though it may be), the venerable Huffington Post unleashed these 22 Reasons Why Going to Law School Is the Best Decision You’ll Ever Make upon the world. If we were trying, I’m pretty sure we can come up with 165K+ why it’s a bad one.

The story is written by Madison Rutherford, a senior in Journalism at San Francisco State. What does she know about the value of a law degree? Not much actually. And she’s graciously offered to show us how little she knows about law school in reader-friendly listicle format!

Join us then, as we review all 22 terrible reasons to go to law school….

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It’s that time of year again. Disregarding the fact that there are 204 law schools that are currently accredited, either fully or provisionally, by the American Bar Association, the Princeton Review has released its annual law school ranking which covers only the best 169 law schools. Our condolences to the 35 law schools that were left in the dust — per the Princeton Review, you suck.

Once again, we decided to focus on one of the 11 rankings categories that we thought people would be the most interested in: the law schools where graduates have the best career prospects. Before digging in, you should be aware that here, “career prospects” means a law graduate’s ability to get a job — any kind of job — period. Perhaps the Princeton Review ought to consider changing its methodology to include data people actually care about, like whether these law schools are helping their graduates become lawyers.

There was quite a shake-up in the rankings this year. Did your law school make the cut?

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* The lawyers fighting against marriage equality say “[w]hether [they] win or lose in lower courts doesn’t matter that much,” because everything will be up to the Supreme Court at the end of the day — but so far, they mostly lose. [National Law Journal]

* On the other side of the coin, the lawyers fighting in favor of marriage equality are sounding more and more like used car salesmen, always bragging about the quality of their “vehicles” just to get their cases in front of the justices. [New York Times]

* In the meantime, Justice Kagan officiated her first same-sex wedding this weekend for one of her former clerks. Only the women of SCOTUS, sans Sotomayor, have performed such ceremonies. [Huffington Post]

* In a landmark decision, Arab Bank PLC was found liable for supporting Hamas in a civil terrorism-finance case. There will be a second trial to determine damages, but the bank plans to appeal. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Here’s advice for those of you considering reapplying to law school during a time of educational crisis: rewrite your app in crayon, you’ll probably get in. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]


Ed note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Ann K. Levine, a law school admission consultant and owner of LawSchoolExpert.com, offers helpful tips on how to approach law school.

There is a lot of information right here on ATL that would dissuade most people from applying to law school. But, since readers keep coming back to read these posts year after year and month after month, I have a hunch that there are a lot of you insisting on going ahead and applying to law school anyway. In which case, for those individuals, I want to share some insights about the right way to approach law school and the law school application process.

Articulate Your Reason & Goal

Continue reading at the ATL Career Center….

A couple of months back, Jordan Weissmann of Slate and our own Joe Patrice got into an entertaining little dust-up over Weissmann’s assertion that “Now Is A Great Time To Apply To Law School.” The various arguments ranged over — among other things — the available data from the ABA and the BLS, the scholarship of Michael Simkovic and Brian Tamanaha, and the impenetrable mystery that is the “JD Advantage.” We’ll let readers determine who got the best of the debate. (Hint: Joe did.) But as pundits squabble over the value of a JD or the wisdom of the applying to law school in 2014, what are current would-be law students themselves thinking?

Recently, in collaboration with our friends at Blueprint Test Prep, we conducted a survey of 400 Blueprint students studying for the October 2014 LSAT. (We conducted an earlier, different 0L survey in conjunction with Blueprint back in 2012.) Our goal was to get a snapshot of these 0L’s perceptions of the legal education landscape: will it be harder or easier to get admitted? What are the most important factors in choosing a law school? What are law school admission officers looking for? What are employers really interested in?

Read on to see what we could glean from the 0L mind, including their thoughts on why fewer people are taking the LSAT and applying to law school, even as some — à la Weissmann — predict the demand for lawyers will outstrip supply the supply of law school graduates in 2016.

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Ed note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Ann K. Levine, a law school admission consultant and owner of LawSchoolExpert.com, offers helpful tips on proper decorum for recruiting events.

‘Tis the season for LSAC Recruitment Forums and on-campus law school fairs. These are great opportunities for law schools to recruit applicants, but they can also be great opportunities for law school applicants to get a jump up on the competition. Here are some things you can do when interacting with law schools at recruiting events:

    1. Do your research ahead of time. Know which schools you hope to target and have specific questions ready. Great questions include how to arrange a campus visit, how many students specialize in an area that you are interested in (some interest/faculty support is good, too much competition is not so good), the attrition rate (how many people transfer versus stay at the school after the first year), and other information that you may not be able to find so easily on the school website. Stay away from things that should be obvious from the website like median LSAT scores, etc.

Continue reading at the ATL Career Center….

For the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about law school hoping that it would help would-be law students make an informed decision. I exposed some misperceptions about law school that no one discussed. I also suggested some cost-effective and possibly lucrative alternatives to a legal education. And I wrote about some last-minute things to consider before going to law school.

But some of you will still go to law school for the wrong reasons and pay rip-off prices. Ego, familial expectations, and peer pressure may play a role in your decision. So I want to finish the law-school-themed posts by issuing a warning to students and their parents about the consequences of graduating without a meaningful job and with six figure, nearly nondischargeable student loan debt….

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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:

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Not since its pursuit was enshrined in the Declaration of Independence has “happiness” had a bigger cultural moment than now, and not just because of that “room without a roof” earworm. There is a new and rapidly growing science of happiness, a mash-up of economics and psychology sometimes called “hedonics,” which tells us that money can buy happiness, but only to a point. Meanwhile, in corporate America, we witness the emergence of a new C-suite character, the Chief Happiness Officer, who is responsible for employee contentment. Sort of like an HR director, but smiling and magical.

Recently, the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research released a paper, “Unhappy Cities,” reporting the findings of a major survey asking respondents about their satisfaction with life. The authors, academics from Harvard and the University of British Columbia, found that there are persistent differences in self-reported subjective well-being across U.S. cities and, unsurprisingly, residents of declining cities are less happy than other Americans. (Interestingly, the authors suggest that these unhappy, declining cities were also unhappy during their more prosperous pasts.)

So there are unhappy cities; there are also unhappy (and relatively happier) law schools. When ATL’s own Staci Zaretsky learned that Springfield, Massachusetts — home of her alma mater, the Western New England University School of Law — made the list of unhappiest cities, it came as no surprise: “It’s hard to tell where the local misery ends and that of the law school begins.” Prompted by Staci’s observation, we wondered whether unhappy cities make for unhappy local law students. Or is the law school experience so intense and self-contained that one’s surroundings have little impact? What are law students in the happiest (and unhappiest) cities in the country telling us about their own personal satisfaction?

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Every now and then you forget that Capitol Hill interns are the absolute worst. Unless you live in Washington, D.C. In that case, these type-A Tracy Flicks are always around to give your already douchetastic bars that extra drop of vinegar. It’s not just that these proto-gunners won’t stop talking about their overinflated sense of the long-term legacy their ability to alphabetize will have on tax reform, it’s that they do this while surrounded by other D.C. professionals who actually make a difference want to talk about how much more alphabetizing they’ve done in their careers.

On some level you want to appreciate their eager spirits. It reminds you of the hopes and dreams you had before the weight of the world crushed you. But then other times their shameless sense of self-worth reminds you that politics is a narcissist’s game. Even if the narcissist is well-meaning, like I presume most interns are. Like when you get a tweet like this one from Yahoo’s Chris Moody:

I’m not gonna snark on this Hill summer intern. More power to him.

So apparently Moody is getting his passive-aggressive on by telling his 22K followers all about how he’s not going to snark on the snarkworthy link he’s sending. Moody would have made a great lawyer.

Well, what did this intern do? Did he make a cheesy webpage about himself explaining how he’s going to president?

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