Friday, June 29, 2012

Prestige and "Following the Script"

Wow.  As followers of this blog will know, this story is eerily familiar and hits WAY too close to home.  Comment #15, from "Non-Trad Student", per the following post:

"15.  Non-Trad Student

Jun 28, 2012 5:00 PM CDT

I wish I had known how much of a permanent caste system law is when i chose what school to attend.

In law, the choice of school is one that factors in at every step of an attorney’s career, for decades.  E.g.  people who dared attend a non-Ivy law school decades earlier won’t even be considered to be a Supreme Court Justice; while in some of your lifetimes, one didn’t even have to be a judge to be nominated.

I began my working career in another industry that had much more of a “what have you done lately?” approach.  My undergrad STEM credentials got me my first job, but I had to keep proving myself, and as time went by, my undergrad degree became less of a factor.  Where in law,  the choice of law school becomes a permanent asset or anchor, regardless of what an attorney can demonstrate once in practice.

When it came time to go to law school, I let geographic proximity control my choice rather than uproot myself to go to the higher-ranked school that my LSAT enabled.  I regret that decision every day because I will be perpetually perceived as lesser and inadequate by the very people who would have been my classmates—all because they ASSUME that everyone going to a lower-ranked school couldn’t get accepted anywhere else.  Especially for non-traditional students, factors other than USN≀ are used in our decision-making process.  My highly-ranked STEM undergrad, high LSAT score, and high bar exam score mean nothing because of my mistake in choosing the law school that was least disruptive to my life at the time.

Given that reality, it is even more absurd that the lower-ranked law schools charge what they do for tuition.  I think #8 is mostly accurate that the education is comparable.  But, clearly, the degree that is granted is not as valuable. "

Non-Trad Student, good luck to you; I feel your pain.  As for other Non-Trads considering lol skool, if you take nothing from this blog, heed this individual's experience.  The study of law is increasingly moving back to "traditional" students with family connections, backing, and/or scholarship potential, if it ever really was open to non-trads in the first place.  As I stated in some of my earliest posts, most non-trad students are already at a stage of life that make it even more difficult to succeed and thrive in the gauntlet, let alone find employment worth the opportunity costs.     

Again, if you have the right backing, Godspeed to you.  Everyone else, run away as fast as possible.  And I would say that to most traditional students, as well.

Friday, June 15, 2012

"You Can Do Anything With a Law Degree..."

...until you find out you can't, of course.  One data point does not make a trend, but darn it all if data points keep piling up and graphing out to the same conclusion - a JD does not help you outside of the practice of law. 

"Prior to attending law school, she worked at investment firms, so she was hoping to land a job at a securities law firm or another related field that could use her experience. Instead, says Tokarska, the only position she was offered after graduating was a $10 per hour part-time clerkship. Knee deep in debt and unable to find a decent job, she opened her own law office in San Diego in 2008. "I thought if I got a higher degree, I'd have a better chance to get a job, but that's not what happened," she says."

We can all debate why this is the case - the article suggests oversaturation of JDs, others would say that lawyering skills are not all that transferable to other jobs, what have you.  In any event, it turns out that neither law firms nor various "related fields" were interested.  This is not to impugn Tokarska, who by all accounts was a nontrad using her JD to make her more valuable in the marketplace and lead to some new advancement opportunity.  Just like the Office of Career Services said the JD would deliver, no doubt.

Sadly, its just not the 1970s anymore, no matter how hard the Law School cartel refuses to face facts.  Some would list her graduation date of 2005 as "the beginning of the end," although there appear to be legions who would claim there never was a "Golden Age" of Law regardless.  Either way, Law firms were starting to cut back, but the ABA Journal and other publications kept touting the "difficult" stories of law grads faced with too many choices for employment, not too few.  And the Law School Deans, Admins, Career Services offices and the like were all too happy to chime in, until 2008-2010 or so when "no comment" became the standard answer to employment statistics.

Nontrads, here it is again - do not go to Law School for any other reason other than to be a lawyer.  Period.  And if you must go, make sure (1) you know and understand the business of law, and (2) are capitalized well enough to hang out a shingle after bar passage, after the costs of three years of tuition, prior to ever darkening the door of a Law School.

Otherwise, that JD will be a $150k (and counting) albatross around your neck.