Friday, November 19, 2010

Opening Remarks

You’ve been downsized, or have been working for some time with few prospects, or have moved from job to job…maybe you’re “older” and need new “training” and “skills”.  Maybe your small business went bust.

If going back to school seems to be the answer, you really couldn’t be faulted for thinking that.  After all, isn’t the GI Bill credited with turning a lot of people into successful and productive members of society, from World War II onwards?  All you have to do is read the papers to see the that education is touted as essential to America’s continued economic dominance in the 21st century, from the Halls of D.C. Power all the way down to Main Street, USA.

However, law school is a different proposition altogether.

Maybe you’ve watched all those law-related TV shows.  Or you know attorneys who have made it big in private practice.  Or you want to right the wrongs.  Or you want to put people away who have committed crimes against society.  Maybe being an attorney is the ticket.

To be fair, if you have the right family and/or business connections, then the world may indeed be your oyster.  Maybe you’re a paralegal at a large law firm and have worked there for 15 years – the partners have encouraged you to get your degree, pass the bar, and join the firm.  Or maybe you come from a long line of attorneys, and you’ve decided that after the old college-try at a rock music career, you now want to follow suit (pun intended).  Maybe you’ve been a successful real estate agent, and you now want to drive the legal aspects of real estate transactions and represent clients due to your huge prior network of contacts.  Maybe you are in semi-retirement, don’t need the money, and are looking for a new challenge.

Or, if you are like the vast majority of non-traditional students, you need to run for the hills.  Now.  Stay where you are, or go do something else.  But don’t double-down on a law school education.

“Hey, dupednontraditional, clearly from your title you’re just bitter.”  Partially guilty as charged – but I believe that a cautionary tale for the non-traditional student needs to be out there in any event.

“Hey, dupednontraditional, you just couldn’t hack it.  I, on the other hand, can make it.”  For your sake, I sincerely hope so.  However, go put that drive into something that will generate return on your investment.  For most people, that is not law school.

“Hey, dupednontraditional, I love legal academia.”  More power to you.  Go do something else.

Don’t believe me?  Then follow along with the discussion of the magic carpet ride that is legal education.  We’ll discover that the danger must be growing, 'cause the rowers keep on rowing, and they're certainly not showing any signs that they are slowing.  Welcome aboard.

And feel free to share your success stories, too!  I want to hear all about non-traditional law students who were single mothers in poverty making phat bank now and sending their children to Prague to study international law.  I will honestly rejoice with you.  Just because it’s a bad idea for most doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work well for a few. 

But seriously, non-traditionals.  RUN AWAY.  NOW.

1 comment:

  1. NALP itself notes that the JD Class of 2009 had 44,000 graduates - for 28,901 jobs requring bar passage. Legal outsourcing has resulted in less people entering Biglaw. The cost of tuition is sky-rocketing. Yet, many still believe that THEY - brilliant bastards that they are - will defy the odds.