Unemployment

Living in a post-Oprah Show world is tough for people like me. Oprah was the one who convinced many that no matter what happens in your life, it’s not your fault. There’s always how your mother treated you, how you were bullied in third grade, your bad relationships, and, of course, the law school that held a gun to your head while showing you fake statistics and promising a job handed to you at the same time you shake the dean’s hand and receive your degree.

While I believe anyone stupid enough to choose a law school based on their job placement statistics should never, ever, ever, be a practicing lawyer, there are many of you out there. Even though you should run as fast as you can to another profession or career, I want to help you at least try to find a legal job so in a year you can realize that the real problem is that you never wanted to be a lawyer anyway — you were just looking for some easy cash, like everyone promised.

As a favor to you, and for the five-figure fees I receive at ATL for writing this column, I provide these little nuggets of weekly advice which are both appreciated (privately) and excoriated (anonymously). I realize one of the problems that causes seemingly intelligent people with law degrees to respond with unintelligible rants about how I “don’t understand” is that I am actually working, as a lawyer. As misery loves company, there is the notion that because I’m not sitting in my parents’ basement lashing out at the computer screen in an effort to convince people not to go to law school, I am just wrong.

So before you throw in the towel and go to that world of becoming a social media rock star, I want you to know that I’m not the only one out there giving you advice that does nothing but anger you. There’s also Anna Ivey….

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Hello again from the 2013 annual education conference of the Association for Legal Career Professionals (aka NALP). People here are very friendly — although, as noted earlier, the law firm folks tend to be more welcoming to us than the law school crew.

That’s to be expected, given our sometimes critical coverage of law schools. We seek to promote consumer awareness when it comes to legal education, but some schools — especially those schools with weaker job outcomes for their graduates — perceive this as an attack.

Yesterday I attended a NALP panel discussion about law school transparency. In the course of discussing what we talk about when we talk about transparency, the panelists provided five defenses that law schools can use when faced with criticism over unemployed or underemployed graduates….

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve brought you a few sets of rankings based on the class of 2011 employment statistics that were used in compiling the 2014 U.S. News law school rankings. These data points — in particular the one concerning full-time, long-term employment where bar passage was required — were the downfall of many a law school. If administrators weren’t looking out for their graduates before, now they’ll be forced to, unless they want to suffer even more in future rankings.

As for the 2015 U.S. News rankings, most law schools already have an idea of the fates they’ll be subjected to when Bob Morse gets his hands on the jobs data for the class of 2012. The fact that only 56 percent of the most recent graduating class were employed as lawyers nine months after graduation is already set in stone, so they’ll have to aim higher when it comes to the class of 2013.

But just because U.S. News hasn’t evaluated the most recent set of employment statistics doesn’t mean that we can’t. Today, the National Law Journal released a study on the latest employment outcomes from all 202 ABA-accredited law schools, ranging from the schools that sent the highest percentages of their class into Biglaw’s gaping maw to the schools with the highest percentage of Article III groupies.

The NLJ also has information on the law schools with the highest unemployment rates, and because we know that our readers are big fans of schadenfreude, we’re going to delve into that data. So which law schools had the highest percentage of graduates willing to review documents for food? Let’s find out….

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When wearing a tie, don’t pop the collar.

Legal education is a hot-button topic these days. Elie Mystal and I have taken our debate on the future of legal education to UNLV and Cardozo Law, in appearances co-sponsored by the Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society, and our roadshow hit Georgetown Law earlier today. (If you’d like to invite us to your school, most likely for the fall semester at this point, drop us a line.)

Despite disagreements over proposed solutions, folks generally agree on what needs to be improved. In an ideal world, law school would be less expensive, and legal jobs would be more plentiful. In an ideal world, more than 55 percent of recent law school graduates would wind up with full-time, long-term legal jobs.

But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in the real world, which is imperfect and messy and depressing. Law schools and their graduates have to make the best of a challenging situation.

Which takes me to the practice of law schools employing their own graduates. In an ideal world, law schools wouldn’t have to resort to this. But in the real world, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, at least when it’s done right.

So pop your collars in celebration. UVA, I’m looking at you….

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Some say that models and bottles should be included in a lawyer’s employment benefits package, but failing that, VIP treatment at the local strip club comes in a close second. You just have to make sure you’re getting these perks on the down low, or else you might find yourself in the unemployment line.

That said, if you’re interested in potentially having to fish dollar bills out of your g-string as an alternative career due to your sudden joblessness, then perhaps you should consult with Ari Pregen, an assistant state attorney from Florida. Well, actually, that was his job before he got fired.

You see, when you walk into a strip club and expect to be treated like a king just because you’re a lawyer, you’re going to get yourself into some trouble when your superiors find out about it….

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We are going through a revolution in law with a time bomb on our admissions books. Thirty years ago if you were looking to get on the escalator to upward mobility, you went to business or law school. Today, the law school escalator is broken.

William D. Henderson, a professor of law at Indiana University (Maurer), commenting on the rigor mortis that’s quickly spreading now that everyone’s fantasies of fame and fortune in the once storied legal profession have died.

(Enough doom and gloom. What are law schools planning to do about it?)

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I don’t know about everyone else, but when I was in law school, I would sometimes feel like a little kid again. And to answer your first question, no, it’s not because of the low level of education I received at my TTT. Instead, I was reminded of my childhood, when I used to play sports in the backyard. I imagined that the game was in its final seconds, and I would win it all by making that big final play. But as childhood fades, so too does some of the fun of life.

What’s the proof of this? What once was a childish fantasy became a legal fantasy when I became an adult. That’s right, in law school, I would sometimes daydream about being a big-shot attorney, with a huge, O.J.-sized case. I would spout off some legal jargon to the amazement of the jurors in my closing, and then they would come back after only a few minutes, giving my client the “win,” and making me very, very wealthy at the same time.

Just like my dreams of athletic glory, this dream now seems far-fetched. The résumés and cover letters continue to rack up in my sent mail box, but nothing except spam, CLE event notifications, Groupon ads, and messages from ugly girls on Match.com fill my inbox. Things have become so bad that I would even welcome a simple acknowledgement that my application was received….

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It’s about that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about when ESPN tells you what Ray Lewis and his teammates ate for breakfast along with every other remotely interesting detail of the other Super Bowl players’ lives. Instead, I’m talking about the time that law schools start to really get anal retentive about getting their graduate employment forms back.

I bet some of you readers have already received a couple of emails from your alma mater, each increasingly desperate and frantic as the head of career services threatens to pull his hair out unless you respond. This may seem like a good or even noble task for the school to perform, but let’s take a closer look at what’s really going on….

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Overworked and underpaid.

* “Why drag us into it?” Constitutional or not, it seems that not even the D.C. Circuit wants to deal with the political hot mess that’s been caused by President Barack Obama’s recess appointments. [National Law Journal]

* There’s something (allegedly) rotten in the state of Texas: Bickel & Brewer was booted from a multi-million dollar lawsuit due to accusations that the firm paid top dollar for insider information. [Dallas Morning News (sub. req.)]

* There are many more women in the legal profession these days than there were 40 years ago, but — surprise, surprise, here’s a shocker — they’re still getting paid less than their male counterparts. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* And here’s today’s opportunity to beat the horse that just won’t die. This law professor says he pities those who buy into the media’s law school scam narrative, while in reality, most would pity the many unemployed graduates of his law school. [Huffington Post]

* Here’s a protip for the February bar: don’t fake a disability to get extra time. Even if you end up passing, the bar examiners will find out and pretty much ruin your life. Just ask this UC Hastings Law grad. [Am Law Daily]

* “Also, you probably shouldn’t bring pot with you to the federal courthouse (or any other federal property).” Umm, come on, were the Washington police officers who created this marijuana guidebook high? [CNN]

If there’s one thing that lawyers love more than arguing, it’s law school rankings. Whether you’re a prospective law student, a current law student, or a law school alumnus, you’re likely obsessed with the U.S. News law school rankings, the most well-known of all national law school rankings.

But come on, let’s be real with ourselves: members of the legal profession are unhealthily obsessed with rankings in general. From the rankings that seem to defy logic and common sense to the rankings that seem nonsensical at best, if they’re out there, we know that our loyal readers are going to salivate over them.

One major criticism of the U.S. News rankings of late is that prospective law students still place a far greater weight on these rankings than any other metric — which is quite foolish. That’s why we were excited to see that Law School Transparency recently released an alternative to the U.S. News law school rankings, based on factors that ought to be important to would-be law students: cost and employment outcomes.

Let’s check out the LST rankings alternative, and see what they’ve got to offer….

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