Young, Gullible, Lazy, Unimaginative and Unbelievable: I Wonder Why This Lawyer Has Trouble Finding A Job?

Well, clearly “sign-maker” isn’t an option…

I have some observations regarding this unemployed lawyer’s lament as he Occupies Wall Street.

It is true that many law schools have been exposed lately for inflating their employment statistics. The American Bar Association announced last month that it was drafting a rule including sanctions for law schools that intentionally falsify jobs data, possibly including monetary fines or the loss of accreditation. That is as it should be.

Nonetheless, I am dubious about the sign’s 99.9% claim, especially in the absence of a named institution. Promising 100% employment to any group seems excessive, and a person of normal intelligence would, or certainly should be skeptical. Thus, after only the first line, I am dubious about the candor and/or judgment of the sign-holder.

I am also dubious about his account of his conversation with the Dean. Do you know what the unemployment rate was for lawyers in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Labor?

1.5%, and that’s a big increase from 2007, when it was under 1%. What law school is this where 30% or more of the graduates are unemployed?  If true, it has to be one spectacularly crummy institution. Again, I am dubious.

But I am especially dubious about anyone with a law degree who isn’t a drooling idiot and yet says he has “no job prospects.” Impossible. A law degree is the most versatile and useful degree there is. It is just as useful for getting management jobs in business and politics as it is in law. It is considered a credential for consulting, negotiation, public speaking, and lobbying. I once was hired to run a health care organization that required a medical degree: they couldn’t find a doctor they liked, so the Chairman of the Board said, “Eh, a law degree’s just as good,” and hired me. No prospects? None? What’s wrong with this guy?

His insistence on only legal fields is one mistake, a common and stupid one encouraged by the law schools themselves. There’s nothing inherently wonderful about working as a lawyer, and many terrific jobs in other areas regard lawyers as ideal candidates. My law degree was critical in getting me a job running a public policy research foundation, a position as a fundraiser for a university, a job as head of a marketing operation. My legal background came in handy in all of them, too.

Law school, like college and other graduate schools, costs too much, but as with a medical education, there is no excuse for not being able to find some employment with one. And unlike college, the tuition is still a good investment, since the majority of lawyers make at least six-figure salaries. Every day this lawyer is outside beating bongos or chanting “hey, hey, ABA…” or whatever magic mantra he’s repeating out there is a day he could be finding a job rather than complaining.  I believe we have some clues as to why this individual is unemployed, and it isn’t Wall Street’s fault.

And there is one more thing to consider. Nothing, presumably, is stopping a healthy young man who actually learned anything at law school from doing what young lawyers from Abraham Lincoln to Clarence Darrow to my father did and still do: hang out a shingle and start a solo practice, at least until another job materializes. There are indigent defendants that need representation; there are non-profits that need affordable legal work. He could be doing some good for the other “99%,’ and starting to pay of that loan in the process.

“No job prospects”?

Baloney.

[Ethics Alarms thanks The Legal Ethics Forum for finding the sign.]

135 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, U.S. Society

135 responses to “Young, Gullible, Lazy, Unimaginative and Unbelievable: I Wonder Why This Lawyer Has Trouble Finding A Job?

  1. Dwayne N. Zechman

    In fairness, there’s nothing in the sign to indicate that the writer/holder did, in fact, get a degree. He/she only represents that there’s a substantial student loan to repay and it could be interpreted that the student dropped out (or failed out) before the 3rd year.

    . . . in which case the lack of job prospects is primarily due to being a quitter, and the ethical analysis still stands.

    If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure.” –Bill Gates

    –Dwayne

    • And, of course, he can hardly claim to be a victim the school’s of false advertising if he hasn’t graduated—the stats, such as they were, inflated or not, don’t apply to non-graduates,

      • Jason

        The vast majority of well-paying legal jobs – those that actually compensate anywhere close to law school’s false, “average” salary statistics, and which actually might justify law school tuition – are actually sough by law students, not grads, during 2L (and occasionally 3L) fall recruiting.

        Just a thought.

    • Jason

      “In fairness, there’s nothing in the sign to indicate that the writer/holder did, in fact, get a degree. He/she only represents that there’s a substantial student loan to repay and it could be interpreted that the student dropped out (or failed out) before the 3rd year. . . . in which case the lack of job prospects is primarily due to being a quitter, and the ethical analysis still stands.”

      Yes he forgot to cram “AND I GOT THE DEGREE” onto a 30 inch sign. So let’s all take it for a fact that he quit his law school program.

      Because this could never happen to someone who graduated with a degree that nobody wants?

      • The confirmation bias fever goes on. Now “nobody wants” anyone with a law degree. Why did this attitude take hold? Nobody has a theory. Why do they believe it? Because in an economic downturn with two many lawyers on the market, a group of unemployed lawyers cannot and will not face the fact that nobody wants them. Not the degree. Not lawyers. Them.

        The President of the United States is a lawyer, and it as cited as one of his credentials constantly. President Clinton has a law degree, which was often cited as the basis of his ability to wiggle out of facts. Yet amazingly, the degree is now worthless.
        The barrage from the needy law grads is, I think depressing. It demonstrates a decline in personal responsibility and willingness to accept accountability. I wouldn’t hire people who think like this, and yet we are told it is the degree’s fault that nobody else will.

        Remarkable.

        • Jason

          Spare your boomer rant. Your generation created this mess with unlimited student loans, and now that the bubble’s about to pop, you blame the younger people indentured by this mess. We get it.

          http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2012/06/welfare-reform.html

          “In America, it is difficult to get a man to understand that sometimes people do everything they are supposed to do to get jobs, but do not get jobs, because there are more people doing everything they’re supposed to do to get jobs than there are jobs for these people to get. Traditionally, it has been particularly difficult to understand this when these people were poor and/or black, but now it is becoming difficult to understand even when they are professional class white people.

          Now, even professional class white people are suspected of not working because they do not want to work. Surely, if “those people” really wanted jobs they could get them. Because if this were not true it might mean that all those years of study and preparation, and all that networking with a laser-like focus, and all those massive tuition payments, had turned out to be a waste of time and money (except of course for the inherent value of legal education itself, which is literally priceless). And that simply cannot be true, because if it were true then that would be very disturbing….”

  2. Martin_Lack

    Hi Jack,

    I agree with both you and Dwayne. That is to say, if he completed his course, he should not, even the extremely adverse economic conditions in which we all now exist, have zero percent job prospects.

    However, I think the Occupy Wall Street campaign (OWS) – and its worldwide replications – are a refreshing and well-needed falsification of the orthodoxy that says all protestors are dumb, lazy, left-wing, or anachists (my words not yours). Furthermore, if the OWS campaign was, at least in part, a result of people watching the Inside Job documentary (as narrated by Matt Damon), it is, in my humble opinion, entirely justified and understandable public anger directed against a corrupt elite whom Barrack Obama has done nothing to disempower or, indeed, call to account for bringing this financial meltdown upon us all.

    Martin.

    • Jason

      “That is to say, if he completed his course, he should not, even the extremely adverse economic conditions in which we all now exist, have zero percent job prospects.”

      I doubt he actually meant “zero.” I’m sure he found something in retail.

      • Barry

        And that’s the point. I’ve used the Hunger Games reference in a comment awaiting moderation, and let me use it again – the lives of the Victors might be sweet indeed, but that doesn’t mean that one should volunteer as Tribute. The fact that lawyers are overrepresented as Presidents doesn’t mean anything for 99.99% of law grads.

        And this is where the cost of law school is critical. If you find out that you’re doing document review for $30/hr (when you can get work), a $100K – $250K debt is ruinous.

  3. Interested Blogger

    I have to agree that it is highly unlikely this person graduated from an accredited law school and cannot find employment. My best guess, if his claims of false advertising have any validity – is that he paid money to a fly-by-night on-line “law school” with no accreditation, cannot pass the bar exam in his state, and his degree, if in fact he has one, is not recognized by the state in which he wishes to practice. Sounds like he’s either lying, a gullible fool, or both. Before I decided to enroll in a paralegal certificate program I researched the best on-line programs and chose one with an excellent reputation – Boston University – which also offers the same program in a classroom setting. I also researched on-line law degree programs and, at the time, could not find ONE that was recognized/accredited by my state. Buyer beware!

    • Jason

      Well, considering that many paralegal positions now attach statements such as “lawyers need not apply,” I have no idea how it’s unlikely that this person graduated from an accredited law school and can’t find employment.

      Information about the law school scam is readily available. Unfortunately, many are too clouded in their assumptions and personal knowledge to even look at or consider it.

      • And many, many law firms are perfectly happy to hire paralegals who have law degrees, because, among other things, they don’t require as much training in legal ethics.

        • Jason

          Less than 300 of 44,000 2010 law grads working for law firms in non-lawyer capacities, is law firms being happy to employ lawyers as paralegals?

        • tio85

          “many, many law firms are perfectly happy to hire paralegals who have law degrees,”

          Mr. Marshall, I suggest that you’d have a very hard time providing any evidence for this statement*. Hiring managers (me, for example), know that the ONLY reason lawyers apply for paralegal positions is to get their foot in the door, hoping against hope that they can eventually wangle an attorney position. When I hire a paralegal, I want a paralegal who’s in it for the long run.

          *Unless by “many, many“, what you really meant something like “I bet 50 or 60 firms” (in the universe of tens of thousands of firms).

  4. Elizabeth

    Any graduate degree can help set someone up for a job, if only the person has some creativity and an ability to market him/herself. As Interested Blogger said, this guy DOESN”T say, and “I’m a member of the New York Bar” (or any bar, for that matter). Can’t pass the Bar, can’t practice law. But he still could use the degree for other types of employment.

    Unless, of course, he scraped through with just passable grades, went to a lousy law school, or, as Interested Blogger suggested, got his degree through some on-line ‘university.’ (Does anyone know, for example, that it takes about ten minutes on-line and the right website to be proclaimed a “minister/reverend” and conduct marriages and christenings? I know, because I know someone who did exactly that so he could “preside” at the wedding of a friend. And it was legal, recognized by the state in which the couple was wed.)

    The third major possibility (and this is also a likely one) that this individual (whose sign-making says something about him) is a nasty, unlikeable person, and/or unable to stumble his way through an interview without revealing his obvious attitude of entitlement. Or maybe he smells, picks his nose, farts uncontrollably, etc. The possibilities are endless. NO ONE OWES HIM A JOB, even with his supposed law degree, if he can’t/won’t/doesn’t present himself as someone who would be a valuable employee.

    • Jason

      1) “But he still could use the degree for other types of employment.

      Such as what?

      2) “Unless, of course, he scraped through with just passable grades, went to a lousy law school, or, as Interested Blogger suggested, got his degree through some on-line ‘university.’”

      Or he went to pretty much any ABA-approved legal institution. Any of which could be this lying, tax-payer-funded scheme of a “school.”

      3) “The third major possibility (and this is also a likely one) that this individual (whose sign-making says something about him) is a nasty, unlikeable person, and/or unable to stumble his way through an interview without revealing his obvious attitude of entitlement.”

      This is nowhere near close to a “likely one.” Perhaps people just don’t want or need lawyers, considering that legal “education” sets people up to do little more than practice law (less and less needed these days), and says only negative things about their ability to do anything of practical value.

      • Barry

        Elizabeth, if Joe/Josephine Just Passed the Bar and Can’t Get a Lawyer Job interviews for a regular job, what is the hiring manager going to say?

        ‘Hey, failed at your profession – we’re looking for failures!’
        ‘Been out of the work world for four years – no problem, we train extensively!’
        ‘Likely to leave if offered one of those high-paying law jobs that the law schools say are in lavish supply? Fine, we don’t care!’

        • Ridiculous. A law degree is a certification of a skill and knowledge set, not a lock-step declaration of an occupation. Any law degree holder that can’t rebut those idiotic assumptions deserves to be unemployed. My answer was always this: I got a law degree because the understanding of the law is a crucial asset in any job, and because I know that being trained in rigorous analysis would be invaluable. I never intended to work as a big firm lawyer, and that prospect has no appeal whatsoever.”

          • Jason

            If I can set up a debate between you and Campos – Campos arguing his usual over-the top position that a law degree is a burden, and you arguing your well-reasoned position that a law degree is a “certification of skill and knowledge” – hosted by Outside the Law School Scam, will you participate? I’d have to talk to the other parties but I’m first interested to see if you would like to be involved.

            We’re currently looking to hire a couple, additional people in my company’s local office. We’re looking for people with technology and project management skills. All of the resumes from candidates with just an “understanding of the law” go straight into the recycling bin.

  5. Michael Boyd

    It’s only a piece of paper. An expensive piece of paper. If you were top of your class in school, passed the bar and presented yourself well during interviews, doesn’t mean you have the abilities to effectively practice law or perform well at any job. Why do I know this? I have a similar story. I, however, won’t accept that I can not find a way to be productive in today’s society. I have skills and talents that are valuable, but the economy is affecting my prospects in gaining employment.

  6. Brendon

    Most people commenting here have no idea what they’re talking about. Take the following comment in the OP: “What law school is this where 30% or more of the graduates are unemployed?”

    To answer your question – most of them. That’s why law schools are currently being exposed in MSM as the giant, tax-payerfunded fraud that they are, likely to be investigated by congress in the near future.

    If you’re going to run an “ethics” blog, it might help to have at least some idea as to what you’re talking about before you go judging and assuming whatever you want about these hoards of unemployed law grads. Start here, for example: http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/

    Come on, you think a school like Cooley Law really has a 70%+ employment rate? Times have changed. The law school scam is text-book fraud. And most Americans are footing the bill.

    • I do know what I’m talking about: I worked in law school administration for six years; I worked with law school admission,I work with lawyers and bar associations,my father, sister,and nephew are lawyers, as are most of my associates. The unemployment rates of lawyers is about 1.5%, according to official statistics. I’m sure its comforting to a deadbeat lawyer to think the rate is 30% or higher, but that’s fantasy. A law degree is a versatile grad degree, more versatile than any other. If a lawyer can’t get a legal jobs, then there are plenty of jobs in other fields where a law degree, from any legitimate school, is an edge. Your contention that “most” law schools have “hoards” of unemployed grads is unsupported and unsupportable.There are jobs for them if they want them.

      What did your link have to do with anything, other than the cost of law school? Yup, it’s too high. That wasn’t what the post was about. A lawyer is an independent contractor, and can employ himself or herself, taking court appointed cases if nothing else. There is no excuse for an able lawyer to be unemployed. Your comment is self-serving fiction.

      • Brendon

        Mr. Marshall,

        I want to begin by apologizing in advance for the length of the following post. There is a lot that I could comment and elaborate on here, for example, though certainly not limited to: the majority of law schools blatantly lying about their graduates’ employment rates and starting salaries in a massive money-making scheme that can’t ethically be described as anything but fraud; MSM increasingly examining, discussing and exposing this fraud; the fact that tax-payers ultimately foot the bill for this fraud; law professors scrambling to choose sides in the increasingly heated debate regarding the uselessness and impracticality of modern legal education that constitutes this fraud (and in some cases, law professors changing sides as the blatant truth becomes even more readily available to the public); law schools being sued in class-action suits for this fraud; the ABA scrambling to change its employment-reporting standards in order to, it appears, avoid liability for this fraud; Senators on both sides of the aisle seemingly readying for an investigation of the ABA due to this fraud; ABA President William Robinson essentially conceding in an interview that such a fraud exists but stating that it’s neither his nor the ABA’s fault that students are stupid enough to buy into their fraud; etc.

        But I don’t want to write a book and/or needlessly clog up your blog any more than I will with this post, especially since all of this information is readily available via simple Google searches. (Though if you do want a cite for any of the above points, please just ask). Anyway, my point is that I promise to keep what I am going to say as concise as I possibly can. But it will be a long post nonetheless.

        First, I don’t see how any of the positions that you served in- though impressive- or the relations that you mention make you an authority on law school employment stats. In fact if anything it seems that working/having worked in law school admissions would make one much more adverse to accepting the realities of current legal placement. Moreover, I really don’t see how my previous comment is self-serving. Believe me, I’d love to live in a society where the unemployment rate for attorneys is a mere 1.5%. Unfortunately that stat is the fiction, and one that is only self-serving to the law school industry. The 98.5% D.O.L. employment rate for attorneys is even more ridiculous than the lies reported, at least until recently, by most law schools, which typically claimed something more like 95% for recent grads (stats that make the D.O.L.’s 98.5% stat for all attorneys even more questionable than it currently is). Lastly, I’m not sure how you find the means to question the intelligence of the subject of your OP for believing a school that says that 99.9% of its graduates find jobs, while simultaneously putting forth the notion that 98.5% of lawyers are employed.

        Fortunately, the “law school scam” movement that has gained so much steam in the past year, has resulted in many law schools releasing their actual employment statistics (that is, stats that are not completely self-selected, if not entirely fabricated). A lot of this likely has to do with Law School Transparency’s request that law schools do so: http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/2011/12/lst-requests-class-of-2010-employment-information-from-law-schools/.

        Some law schools, like Yale and the University of Chicago (both top 6-ranked schools) did so quickly and with no issue, as their grads generally all find jobs. Others, like Michigan State, for example- a lower ranked law school, tied to a good undergraduate university- posted stats like these: http://www.law.msu.edu/career/placement-rates.html. In this case we see that Michigan State Law was able to determine that, nine months after graduation, 33 of its 348 graduates in 2010 found full-time attorney jobs (aka jobs requiring a J.D. and bar passage) making over $60K per year. (33 of 348!). Meanwhile the average debt of (85% of) that graduating class was $108,444. I need to thank Law Professor Paul Campos for that analysis, as well as for his deductions from data from NALP (an organization that actually surveys law graduates) that, though 88.2% of law grads nationwide were employed (a statistic that includes law grads working at Walmart), only 62.9% of law grads were working in full-time jobs that required a law degree. And that 62.9% figure includes those working in temporary jobs, something that is increasingly common in law. http://www.tnr.com/article/87251/law-school-employment-harvard-yale-georgetown. I expect we’ll be seeing a lot more of these true statistics in the near future. Then again, one has to wonder why law schools are so hesitant to post these actual statistics if 98.5% of lawyers nationwide are in fact employed.

        Thus I do not think that my assertion that there are hoards of unemployed law grads is unsupported and/or unsupportable, nor is it fantasy. Furthermore, I’m not sure how any “deadbeat” lawyer (or unemployed lawyer- and I’m not sure if you are referring to me or the subject of the OP with that comment) would be comforted by the reality that the unemployment rate amongst attorneys is over 30%. In fact, as an attorney that was unemployed for a very long time up until just recently, I can tell you that it’s a mind-blowing and mind-numbing fact, one which serves only to make an unemployed attorney feel even more hopeless and helpless, as well as even more of a fool for having bought into the law school scam.

        If anything is unsupported and unsupportable, in my opinion, it is the common assertion that a law degree is versatile. Take for example this recent article by an NYU Law grad that worked for a prestigious biglaw firm a few years ago who, after being let go by that firm, couldn’t even get a job at Target: http://www.constitutionaldaily.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1422, accessed via http://abovethelaw.com/2012/01/what-cant-you-do-with-a-law-degree/. And I’ll offer myself up as another example. I graduated from a top 20 law school a few years ago, and outside of the few legal jobs that actually exist for attorneys with no practical skills or experience, I found that my law degree is actually a hindrance to non-legal employment, even for minimum wage retail jobs. Most non-legal employers think I’m going to jump ship once a high-paying attorney position becomes available. And that job is inevitably going to appear one day, at least in their mind(s), because “people always need lawyers,” “everyone knows that lawyers make a lot of money,” etc. Alternatively, many non-legal employers aren’t interested in hiring someone with a law degree who is a “failure” because they couldn’t find a legal job.

        Both of these examples are anecdotal, sure, but then so are those examples provided by the “a law degree is an incredibly versatile degree” crowd (which usually seems to consist mostly of law professors and law school placement staff). In fact, as someone who works on a daily basis with large teams of contract attorneys- that is, teams of attorneys who can’t find permanent legal jobs- I can tell you that the “versatility of a law degree” is one of their favorite topics for jokes.

        So when I hear statements such as that “[t]here is no excuse for an able lawyer to be unemployed,” or that “[t]here are jobs for [unemployed/deadbeat attorneys] if they want them,” I’m simply left asking one, simple question: where are these jobs? And if you truly know where these jobs are, I can tell you right now that you could make hundreds of thousands of dollars each year by placing unemployed law grads into permanent positions. Ask for just $5K of their first year salaries in turn for your placing them into these positions. They’ll have jobs, you’ll make a huge profit. Win, win. So why isn’t this being done? It’s because these jobs, which so many of these unemployed grads want so very badly, rarely exist. Legal openings that do exist typically require practical experience, not a legal education.

        If you sincerely disagree, I would suggest the following. Make a decision to hire a recent law grad for a position within whatever company/firm/agency you currently work. Post an ad on craigslist asking for resumes from law grads. Mention in this ad that the job pays $40K/year with no benefits. Then wait for the hoards of inevitable responses from those with law degrees and (again, tax-payer-backed) student loan burdens of over $100K, or in many cases over $150K, if not something like $200K.

        Which actually speaks to your point that “[a] lawyer is an independent contractor, and can employ himself or herself, taking court appointed cases if nothing else.” You are correct on that, assuming a few things: that law grads 1) are actually able to become attorneys, 2) know how to “hang a shingle,” find clients and make money as an independent contractor, and 3) can make enough money doing this to make it a financially-viable option. Unfortunately (1), an increasing number of recent law grads (including many of those who fail the bar on their first try) can’t be certified as attorneys because they can’t find work sufficient to balance their student loan payments once they become due, and thus default on those student loans, and thus lack the “character and fitness” necessary to practice law. Morever (2), law schools, for the most part, charge over $100K (actually now a best-case scenario) for a legal education and yet for the most part never manage to teach their students how to actually practice law. This is largely because many law professors never actually practiced law themselves, at least not for a significant period of time nor in a significant manner, and instead use their academic positions as vehicles to advance their “scholarship.” Furthermore (3), the salary that comes, at least initially, with this kind of work rarely provides a sufficient income to balance the modern law grad’s student loan debts, and also brings on all kinds of risks (e.g. malpractice) that a debt-burdened and money-lacking law grad isn’t usually in a position to take on, let alone in a position to know how to avoid (see comment (2), regarding legal education). In short, the fact that law school costs way too much actually means a heck of a lot. In fact absent law school costing so much, we’d have a lot more attorneys available to help those in our society who are economically disadvantaged.

        Anyway, the link to Professor Campos’ blog in my prior post actually has a lot to do with all that I’ve said above. You might have read one of the more recent posts on that blog, which mentions that law school costs too much and which also discusses the fact that tax-payers are essentially paying for this fraud once these hoards of unemployed law grads can’t pay their student loan bills. But his blog is a lot more than that. It’s become one of the main hubs for the law school scam movement which, until very recently, was something that existed only amongst recent law grads, on obscure websites, and which was never understood by those who graduated from law school, say, 20 years ago, prior to the system going completely whack. And his posts are incredibly informative, exposing basic facts and statistics regarding legal education, job placement/availability, as well as bringing out victims of this fraud who, until very recently, felt like they were nothing but deadbeats and losers who deserved their shamed fate, and forcing his colleagues in legal academia to actually take a stand on this critical issue. It makes for very good reading. Especially if you’re interested in ethical issues.

        But again, I apologize for the length of this post. I think I might use what I said above to start my own ethics blog about the ethically-void system that is modern legal education.

        • Dear Brandon:

          1. Please. It’s Jack. Never Mr. Marshall.
          2. Let’s get terms straight. I do not accept the “jobs requiring a law degree” definition of “employed.” I am aware that law firms in many cases have been unconscionably deceitful about what their employment stats mean. My own first job out of laws school was in law school administration, and while my degree was considered an asset, it was not a requirement. Your mocking law degrees as credentials is just in direct opposition to facts. A lawyer will be accorded preference over a non-lawyer in many or most professional positions. In addition to being a corporate counsel and a prosecutor, I have been a health care non-profit executive, a legal service marketing VP, a public policy researcher, a foundation executive, a law school administrator, a legal association executive, a legal services provider, a CLE provider and an ethicist, none of which require a law degree, but all of which came as a direct result of me having one. I did not go to Harvard Law school, I was not on any journals, and my claim to fame in law schools was launching a theatrical company. Don’t tell me it’s a myth.
          3. Until the Labor Department revises its statistics, 1.5% is the best objective statistic out there. It makes sense to me. All the others are anecdotal.
          4. Of course a law degree isn’t an advantage if you work as a clerk at Target…who wants a lawyer causing trouble? How about association management, charities and non-profits, municipal governments, small business counsel, business management, health care, marketing, academic management?
          5. Having unpaid loans is not normally regarded as disqualifying for character, unless they are egregious and there is evidence that no effort has been made to pay them back. If the problem is not being able to pass the bar, that’s something else. Any law school grad of reasonable intelligence should be able to pass the bar with a good bar review course, even if he or she slept through most classes. If a grad can’t, then that grad should not have been in law school anyway.
          6. What do you mean, they have no idea how to hang out a shingle? Any bar association will set up a young member with a mentor. They have free advice and assistance. Indigent legal services and public defenders are overwhelmed with work. Anyone with a law degree can be employed. The issue off whether they can earn enough to pay back absurdly burdensome loans, again, is a different issue.
          7. Going to law school to become a high paid law firm lawyer was understood as a fool’s game 40 years ago. Going into hock for the purpose was doubly foolish, as any attorney would have told any student who asked. The whole idea of choosing a law school based on some promotion-department employment stats is weird. You go to law school to get an education; employers hire people, not degrees.
          8. More later. But I believe that this whole line of thought is self-crippling, and Prof. Campos is over the top. There is alot wrong with the law school system, but it is not that there are too many lawyers. There may be too many people who deluded themselves by thinking they could or should be lawyers, but that, again, is another issue.
          9. Your post was excellent, and I will revisit the issue. It wasn’t too long. My response was too short, but I’m hungry.
          10. Don’t apologize. Jeez, when I want commenters to apologize for being jerk, they won’t, and completely civil and germane commenters keep apologizing.

          • M

            Mr. Marshall,

            The 1.5% unemployment figure for lawyers is incorrect because it does not take into account new attorneys. As you must be aware, the unemployment figures from the US Department of Labor are based upon those who qualify for and receive unemployment benefits. That is how unemployment is measured in this country. Those who qualify for unemployment benefits must have lost their job. (Ie: had a previous job and been laid off from the job.) Therefore, a recent graduate from a law school who was not previously working because he or she was in school does not qualify for unemployment benefits. He or she therefore is not included in the calculations as being unemployed. When you realize that the overwhelming amount of unemployed lawyers are new graduates, excluding them from the unemployment figures results in inaccurate figures.

            I hope you are a little more open to the fact that recent, hardworking legal graduates can be unemployed and are not losers because of it. I am surprised that you and several of your commentators seem to be unaware that the economy has changed drastically and that what was once a productive career just 10 years ago can now be less productive. (Is anyone on this board aware of the changes in manufacturing that have occurred in the United States?) I speak 4 languages and before law school I worked as an adviser overseas. I also produced radio and television comericals, quite successfully. I had an illustrious career before law school and in law school was an honors scholar, on the dean’s list, and interned for a federal judge. I also was educated (my undergrad) in Europe as well and have diplomas (all w/ honors) from both American and European universities. I took every opportunity to intern for free in legal positions to get experience and have interned for free for about a year and a half. I was so eager and determined to get that legal job and was told by every experienced attorney that I would have to intern for free for several years before I would be hired because in this economy, only experienced attorneys were needed. I currently work in a non-legal job for about $13,000 a year (I work about 30 hours a week and intern for free for another 30 hours a week) and am grateful for my salary, as low as it is, because before that I was unemployed.

            The people on this board can rail (without even knowing me) about how I must be a loser to be in this position and must not look very hard for a job. (I spend about 20 hours a week looking for a better paying job, so all in all, I put about 80 hours a week into my career and employment.) I know better. I know that I am grateful for the salary I do have, because I am much better off than MANY recent law grads I know, 50% of whom I know are currently working in retail because they could not get legal jobs.

            I understand that you have had an illustrious career, Mr. Marshall, and that the legal degree opened doors for you throughout your career. Please note that the economy has changed drastically and that the perception of a law degree has changed drastically as well. To expect that a recent law graduate will have the same experiences as you did, Mr. Marshall, is to ignore the realities of a changing economy. It is the equivalent of assuming that the manafacturing sector of the United States will forever continue to flourish, because it flourished in the 1960’s.

            The people who are unemployed in the legal field are not lazy losers. In many cases, we are hardworking individuals who often volunteer or intern for free at legal jobs in our communities – all desperate for that chance to hopefully one day land that legal job.

            • M

              PS: I passed the bar on the first time.

            • Does the actual content of the actual post inspiring all this shooting matter to the commenters? I cited the 1.5% for the specific purpose of saying I was dubious that any decent law school had a unemployment rate of over 30%…when I wrote the post. I’m still dubious, but I haven’t seen the data. Nor did I say or imply that “The people who are unemployed in the legal field are not lazy losers.” I wrote, meant and mean that unemployed young people with law degrees who can’t think of anything better to do to improve their prospects than to hang around in parks with signs are lazy losers. I think for you to identify with whoever that guy was is sad and self-defeating.

              “Things have changed since your day” is a time honored rationalization. Sure, things are different, but they are seldom as different as those who want to use the difference as a justification for failure claim. This is a downturn. It is a slump in the legal profession, and there are too many people seeking too few jobs. I agree. The respect a law degree earns in other fields has NOT changed, and I doubt that you have the experience testing that principle to declare otherwise.

              My field isn’t “illustrious.” It’s diverse, that’s all. And a law degree is an asset to a diverse career if you are open to one.

              • I don’t necessarily want to endorse the tactic of creating a crappy sign and protesting in a park. But if it weren’t for numerous people like this guy, taking the time to expose the law school scam, people would continue to believe bogus stats like the Department of Labor’s 98.5% employment rate for attorneys, or the law schools’ 99% published stats. And believing these bogus figures just allows law schools to keep siphoning taxpayer money. But thanks to these people, the ABA is now being forced into being honest, at least to a certain degree. http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202559883779&ABA_Only__percent_of_law_grads_found_fulltime_law_jobs&slreturn=1. I know you don’t prefer links, but this story is now all over the web. A 55% employment rate for law grads.

                This isn’t just an economic downturn. This is a profession completely disappearing.

              • M

                “Things have changed since your day” is a rationalization when it is used as such. However, if I am talking about certain differences, it is a truth. If I am talking about technology or transportation from the 1800’s, I would be inaccurate if I didn’t acknowledge the differences, as you are inaccurate in not acknowledging the differences in the legal field today from just 15 years ago. 15 years ago, legal education cost a fraction of what it does today and the grads today have far less likely chance of obtaining a job that justifies the cost of law school than they did just 10 years ago. The rising cost of law school without the corresponding rise in salaries and the effect all this has on the legal job market makes such drastic differences in the legal job market today from when you entered it a fact, Mr. Marshall, not merely my opinion.

                Furthermore, Mr. Marshall, I would like to clarify: I don’t use that phrase as an excuse, because I have nothing I need to excuse. I work hard, do my best to get a better paying job, and volunteer in the legal community to help the lesser fortunate, far more in the two years since I have graduated from law school than most lawyers do in their entire lifetimes. When I had the privilege of getting an education, I made the most of it by working hard, getting great grades and receiving numerous scholarships and I worked my gut out at every unpaid intership I did. My strong work ethic extends to my professional life as well. There is absolutely nothing I need to excuse.

                One additional comment that I would like to add regarding the 1.5% claim of unemployment for lawyers that I did not originally mention: as I mentioned above, the figure derives from those collecting unemployment benefits and no recent graduates will qualify for those, making that figure not reflective of the true unemployment figures for lawyers, since it doesn’t include the numerous recent graduates who are unemployed. Since new graduates don’t have the luxury of receiving unemployment benefits, and unemployment benefits aren’t known for being particularly generous for those who do qualify, most of us don’t have the luxury of sitting around unemployed and we take any job we can to bring in an income, as we should. Technically, then, there are numerous lawyers who are not counted as unemployed, although we might be working at Wal-Mart for $7.50 an hour. (Don’t assume that that is far-fetched: about 50% of the recent law school grads I know are working in retail positions – ie: security guard, at the law school, Home Depot, etc. – for less than $10 an hour. Yet, under the Dep. of Labor, all these individuals are counted in their statistics as employed.) Therefore, a 1.5% unemployment rate that does not include recent graduates and all the numerous souls who had to take retail jobs to make ends meet might sound pretty good on the surface, but misses a large portion of individuals. In other words, it misses the majority of the story.

                Lastly, your doubt that I would not have the experience testing the proposition that the respect a law degree engenders in other fields has been diminished has turned out to be misguided. In the two years since I graduated law school, I applied to numerous jobs – both legal and non-legal, as I saw the need, early on, to expand my horizons with regards to employment. While I can only speak of my own experience, there were several instances where my law degree and legal background were a liability and this was verbally expressed directly to me. The employer for my present job was not going to hire me because of my law degree until a co-worker intervened and vouched that despite my legal background and all the ‘adversarialness’ that that is traditionally viewed as entailing, I would still be able to listen to and work well with clients, cooperate with coworkers, and do the job well. (It was a hard sale for my coworker and I was only hired because of her intervening.) In addition, on another job interview, I was flatly told by the recruiter that she had absolutely no interest in my legal skills or legal education and I was advised not to discuss them. The interview mainly revolved around her asking questions about the skills I learned in the workforce before attending law school.

                I am taking the time to write you because I feel the need to correct you on a misinterpretation. I identify with the attorney holding the sign because I know how hard it is in today’s market to find a job that allows me to pay off my loan payments for my education. In fact, I know, with all my qualifications, foreign languages, and years of work experience and unpaid internships, how hard it is to find a job, period. I can only imagine how much harder it would be for a new lawyer with little or no job experience. As a poster above commented, the lawyer holding the sign has done a great service: he or she brought awareness to the fact that law schools weren’t entirely honest in reporting employment incomes and that the legal employment market isn’t as rosy as what some would indicate. You don’t know what he or she has done to find work (I have an inkling), so please, don’t throw stones. Prospective law students have a right to know what the true job market looks like so they can make informed decisions. Those that notify them shouldn’t be mocked and unduly judged without even knowing anything about what that individual did to get a job. If you knew a complete history of what the person holding the sign had done to get a job, Mr. Marshall, I could perhaps understand a little better your contempt for him or her. But declaring him or her lazy and unimaginative, without knowing anything about his or her efforts to find a job – really, Mr. Marshall?

              • Mr. Marshall – Check out the stats for the class of 2011 for mid-table Valparaiso here:

                http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/clearinghouse/?school=valparaiso&class=2011&show=ABA

                As you can see, 56 out of 181 JD graduates were not employed 9 months after graduation. Only 76 had found work requiring bar-passage.

                • 9 months is nothing, and I don’t consider 56 a remarkable percentage at all, in a recession job market. How many had received offers and turned them down? What’s the matter with work that didn’t require bar passage?

                  • Jason

                    The problem is that, for some reason (and I think we all know what that is) law schools don’t provide any better information than employment 9 months after graduation, despite very pressing requests that they do so. Heck, they don’t even want to specify what “employed” means in many cases, which is a problem because it could include people working retail.

                    And who would turn down an offer to be unemployed?

                    • People do it all the time—I’ve done it, and many times. You don’t take the first job that is offered to you. Jason, that question is the kind of thing that supports my belief that law grads have no idea how to look for jobs, and that’s not unusual. It just wasn’t as much of a handicap when there were more jobs to go around, and a sellers market. I’ve been unemployed for 7, 8 and 11 month periods in my career—every time, I turned down well-paying jobs, because I didn’t like the conditions, or felt I could do better. And my experience is not unusual.

                    • Jason

                      “Jason, that question is the kind of thing that supports my belief that law grads have no idea how to look for jobs, and that’s not unusual”

                      That sounds like confirmation bias to me.

                      I know what you’re talking about. My industry is like that – a sellers market. I suppose it’s still like that for some law grads as well, such as those with multiple biglaw or fed offers (though those jobs are getting rarer and rarer, even at the top). But for most law grads, entering a market where almost half don’t find legal work, not taking an offer and remaining unemployed would be asinine. They can always take the offer and keep looking for a better job, and meanwhile make money and gain at least some experience. That certainly beats doing nothing for an extended period of time, which can be a touch of death in law.

                      I’m certain law schools would be happily telling us all about it if a substantial portion of their grads received offers but declined them. Maybe we’ll see those numbers once they’re finally honest. I expect that day to be soon, thanks in large part to the scambloggers, but the schools sure are fighting tooth-and-nail for that day to never arrive.

                    • Jason, where would law schools get offer and refusal information? My school never asked me about that—my school never asked me about my employment at all (of course, I went to work for my law school, so I was a special case.) Why is it assumed that law schools have or can obtain accurate employment stats? Over on Twitter, a lawyer acquaintance, recent grad, now out of work, commented on his experience with the law school scam. I asked if his decisions either to go to law school or which schools to apply to were affected by specific placement and employment statistics. He said no. I’ve asked others: I have yet to find a single lawyer who can credibly say the stats lured him or her into a profession he wasn’t interested in joining.

                      Here is what I do not deny:

                      1. That there are too many lawyers for the number of legal jobs available right now.
                      2. That the market is worse than these lawyers assumed it would be, because the market has in fact gotten worse with the economy.
                      3. That many of these unemployed lawyers are stuck with hopeless debt, given their job prospects.
                      4. That law school costs too much, period.
                      5. That law schools keep turning out lawyers without concern for whether they can get work or not.
                      6. That law schools do not train lawyers to consider or even know about non-legal uses for law degrees.
                      7. That in a setting where law schools charge such obscene tuition, a law degree is not a profitable or reasonable investment for someone without the means to pay for it.
                      8. That there are individual law schools that inflated their stats on employment to improve their ranking and reputation.
                      9. That student loans are a trap.

                      Here is what I emphatically reject:

                      1. That the employment stats are, in most cases, anything but an after the fact focus of criticism by layers who were not in fact influenced by them in the first place.
                      2. That employment stats are a reasonable determining factor in deciding to become a lawyer.
                      3. That there was any widespread scam or conspiracy to defraud students into going to law school.
                      4. That law schools have any responsibility to do other than convey a good, solid, useful, education in law, and maintain its reputation so that the degree has maximum value.
                      5. That unemployed law students, as a group, are maximizing their employment opportunities.
                      6. That a law degree isn’t as versatile as it has always been, since nothing has changed to make it otherwise.
                      7. That a law degree is “worthless,” since legal disputes and the need for legal services may rise and fall, but will never significantly diminish.
                      8. That standing around holding a protest sign is either a good way to spend one’s time when one is unemployed, or an effective way to show potential employers that they should want to employ you.

                    • Jason

                      Because law schools collect detailed employment data. That’s how they know who is employed/unemployed, how much their grads are making, what number went on to other grad school, who is not looking for work, etc. If they even thought that a substantial portion of their grads were turning down offers, I’m sure they’d ask an additional question about that on their employment questionnaires. And actually, employment by one’s law school is a no longer a special case. In the last few years schools have been hiring their unemployed grads into $10/hour school-created programs to count them as “employed 9 months after graduation.” I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what happens to many of these “employees” beyond the 9 month mark.

                      I don’t know what to tell you about the people you’ve asked about their consideration of employment stats. Maybe you know a bunch of older people who went to law school when its cost was reasonable, or rich people who can risk taking out hundreds of thousands of dollars without considering whether their future career would allow them to pay that money back. But 1) It seems to me common sense that less people would borrow $150k to attend law school if the schools were posting placement rates of 50% in jobs that pay an average of $42k, rather than 90% in jobs paying $100K, as 2) demonstrated by the sharp drop in law school applicants once law schools were even slightly honest.

                      As for your list what you do not deny, I want you to know that I appreciate you acknowledging those things. My only responses are to the following:

                      2. While the economy has certainly made things worse, the decrease in law jobs has much more to do with the contraction of the legal profession, at least for licensed attorneys. The recession has merely brought an older issue to the forefront.

                      6. Law schools hardly train their students to practice law these days, let alone inform them about or teach them to use the supposed non-legal, versatility of their degrees.

                      8. On what are you basing your claim that “individual law schools” inflated their employment stats? Recent ABA data on law grad employment has made it clear that pretty much every school except Yale, Harvard, Stanford and UChicago were doing so. Een NYU and Columbia (top 6 schools) were recently exposed as having inflated their numbers.

                      As for the things you reject:

                      1. See my comment above. This doesn’t explain the 25%, overnight drop in applications once law schools revealed slightly more honest employment stats. Nor does it explain why law schools are fighting so hard to NOT be honest and accurate with this information.

                      2. While I agree that employment stats are a bad reason to become an attorney, I still insist that consideration of these stats is respectable, responsible and ethical when weighing one’s ability to pay back money borrowed from other people.

                      3. Can you explain why you deny there is a law school scam? It seems to me contrary to everything that has been uncovered, and continues to be uncovered, over the past year or so.

                      4. I’m absolutely fine with the concept of law schools providing nothing but an education. But if that’s going to be the case, they need to stop using and manipulating employment stats to lure students in. Or at least provide accurate and honest employment data. I think we’ll get there soon. There is positive reform going on in legal education at the moment.

                      5. I don’t know that this can be proven either true or false. I don’t think most people in our country are maximizing their employment opportunities.

                      6. Certain skill sets have always increased or decreased in value as the market has changed. In a market increasingly based on things like technological efficiency, project management and entrepreneurship, it makes sense that something like legal education would decrease in value outside of the practice of law, as legal education hasn’t really changed (changed in positive, market-relevant ways; it’s certainly changed for the worse over the last 20 years, as demonstrated by the garbage subjects being taught to law students and published in law reviews). But again, that too is starting to change

                      7. The problem is that the nature of the way legal services are delivered is changing and will continue to change. Look at the way that e-discovery has taken over the litigation process – and most of that work is done by non-lawyers. Other areas of the law are also moving towards outsourcing and compartmentalization, where again, the work doesn’t need to be done by licensed attorneys. Meanwhile more and more people are buying pre-drafted contracts on websites like Legal Zoom, and reading inexpensive books explaining the law in lieu of paying an attorney hundreds of dollars an hour to explain it to them. Of course there will always be a need for lawyers who go to court. And in that sense I imagine we might move towards a legal system more reminiscent of those in some European countries, where a small number of licensed individuals litigate, and the other parts of the legal process are taken care of by a variety of other people. What’s completely disappearing is the traditional attorney who bills by the hour to take care of all of a client’s legal services. Which is why it’s no surprise that biglaw firms are losing clients and shutting down or merging, as are many smaller law firms. It’s actually a very exciting time to be in the legal industry if one doesn’t have Law & Order fantasies about legal practice and/or a mountain of student debt, and is also willing to observe where the industry is moving (and I will be the first to admit that many law students and grads, like most practicing attorneys, are not willing to make these observations, in large part because the industry is going to places that, traditionally, lawyers have never gone).

                      8. All we know is that someone took a picture of a sign that looks like it was created in two minutes. I could work my 60 hours a week and still find time to do that. Also, the sign calls attention to an important issue, and this kind of attention is starting to change legal education for the better. Besides which, I think people here were mostly upset with how you assumed so much about this person and chastised him, arguing that he was gullible for believing his law school’s bogus 99.9% employment stats, but lazy for not being able to find a job because the BLS statistic clearly shows lawyers are employed at a 98.5% rate, etc. For what it’s worth, I would also emphatically reject any argument that this is a good way to find a job. But I sincerely doubt that was one of this guy’s motivations for making the sign and taking the picture.

          • Barry

            ” I do not accept the “jobs requiring a law degree” definition of “employed.” I am aware that law firms in many cases have been unconscionably deceitful about what their employment stats mean. ”

            Jack, the thing is that law school costs a lot; far, far more than in your day. If one is considering law school, the ’employment’ percentage is meaningless, since that (a) counts jobs which one could get without the degree, (b) counts many bad jobs, and (c) counts many OK – good jobs which nevertheless don’t pay for the degree.

            • So what? You overpayed for your degree, which locked you into a professional track you either weren’t qualified for or didn’t think through. Do law degrees cost too much, period? Yes.Would I have gone to law school if mine cost that much and I had to go in debt to pay it? No. If I did, would I blame the law school for my plight? Absolutely not.

  7. Brendon

    “but I’m hungry.
    10. Don’t apologize. Jeez, when I want commenters to apologize for being jerk, they won’t, and completely civil and germane commenters keep apologizing.”

    Haha, I enjoyed this. Thanks. I’m off to dinner myself. I’ll get back to you tomorrow, or at least in the next day or two. I’d like to have more of this discussion with you and the points you made here (especially re: Campos being over-the-top).

  8. Jay

    Hi Jack-

    Your post reads like BS propaganda from someone who has absolutely no clue what’s actually going on out there and instead has decided to parrot a bunch of debunked statistics. There ARE too many lawyers being pumped into the system, the statistics are and have been bogus, and there is almost no versatility in a law degree except for those who go to H/Y/S.

    I’m a 2012 graduate of a law school that was/is ranked between 50-100 in the “official” rankings. I finished in the top 10% of my class, had an externship with a federal judge, help two other law firm positions, was a lead editor for our secondary journal, and won a couple of CALI awards.

    I’ve applied to probably thirty to forty jobs in the last six months and gotten one interview, where I had the vibe that the position was already filled. I’ve been applying to non-law jobs as well, but competition for JD-preferred jobs is as bad as competition for firm jobs and the JD does nothing for non-JD-preferred employers.

    It’s not just me, either. I know law review editorial board members who are in the same spot I am. I know an honors grad from 2011 who is still looking for a job. I know another Dean’s List-level grad who is still looking for anything. I know top 5% graduates of other schools who have absolutely no prospects right now. I know multiple 2009 and 2010 graduates who are still floating around looking for decent employment options.

    In fact, the only people I know who actually have solid employment prospects either landed the position at OCI (I know about 15 people who landed OCI positions in a class of hundreds) or worked for a small/mid-sized firm as a law clerk (this is maybe 5-10 people) or have a networking connection that’s been in place since before they were in law school (another 3-5 people).

    When I went to law school [Fall of 2009, a year and a half after things started going downhill], the school advertised an employment rate north of 95% with a salary expectation of at least 85k. The school portrayed itself as a good educational option with excellent placement locally and in public service. This seemed entirely plausible given the ranking of the institution (if this school wasn’t landing 90+%, how could 115 schools be ranked lower than it and still exist?), the reputation of attorneys, and what I saw in my own experience (I know multiple intellectual lightweight 45ish year olds who are successful attorneys). I’m not an idiot or gullible, but it looked reasonable, especially since there was very, very little out there at the time (spring 2009) that contradicted what the school said.

    At the time, I was working in a 30k dead-end office job, so upon lots of research and reading, I legitimately felt the law was a good option, both for me personally and for my economic prospects. The former was true: I think would be great work for me, and I enjoy a lot about it. The latter is a bald-faced, fraudulent lie.

    The jobs simply are not there. The real numbers, based on anecdotes and conversations with schoolmates, appears to be that roughly 60% of the class of 2011 found full-time remunerative work within 9 months, and that the median salary is much closer to 40k.

    I’m obviously going to keep looking and my prospects will likely improve once I have a license, but there’s absolutely no doubt on my mind from the ground floor that the numbers put out by the schools are willfully fraudulent and inflated to hide how bad reality is. Every year there are 47k law graduates nation-wide for roughly 25k “good” jobs. And many of those “good” jobs are illusory, as I know people going to top-500 firms who know full well they’re going to spit out of the biglaw machine in 3 years.

    Reality is for 50+% of my peers (including possibly myself) that there is not enough legal work to secure them any sort of employment that will justify the exorbitant cost of the legal education that promised to help all their careers in those shiny brochures. If the brochures were even remotely correct, that number would be like 10%.

    It’s possible the law degree will benefit me economically, but I highly doubt it at this point, and I think that anyone who argues for the many of the propositions you allege above is being willfully dumb. I’d like to highly a few that are especially moronic:

    “The whole idea of choosing a law school based on some promotion-department employment stats is weird. You go to law school to get an education; employers hire people, not degrees.”

    –it’s not just an evaluation between law schools, but also between law school and other options. additionally, the idea that legal employers “hire people, not degrees” is pure TTT PR fluff. The exact same person who goes to NYU will land a job 100 times out of a hundred against the exact same graduate (same stats, experience, etc.) who went to NYLS. Heck, the NYU student will get hire over superior “people” from lower-ranked schools.

    “How about association management, charities and non-profits, municipal governments, small business counsel, business management, health care, marketing, academic management?”

    –How about not producing much work, not hiring new law grads, not hiring at all, not paying many bills, definitely not hiring JDs [there’s a glut of MBAs and places are going to hire a JD from a TTT? Are you for real?], not hiring anyone with less than 10 years of experience, a joke profession that most people can get out of undergrad, and limited to top-tier graduates?

    and

    ” A law degree is the most versatile and useful degree there is. It is just as useful for getting management jobs in business and politics as it is in law. It is considered a credential for consulting, negotiation, public speaking, and lobbying.”

    –Utter crap.

    • Your logic, reasoning, and willingness to blame everyone else for your problems is adequate explanation for why you can’t find a job even with a law degree, Jay. Blame the degree if it makes you feel better, and good luck with that.

      You sought a magic degree, and that’s always foolishness. The education to be gained in law school, if you bothered with that, would enable you to find gainful and satisfying employment. Geraldo Rivera is a lawyer. Tony La Russa is a lawyer. Laura Ingraham is a lawyer. I’m a lawyer. I’ve hired, fired, been fired, been hired—obviously a lot more than you. And you’re telling me I don’t know what gets people hired. Ironic, no?

      • Jay

        Why do you have the need to construct a straw man instead of addressing my points?

        I sought a degree that would improve my career. That isn’t “magic,” but the primary function of professional education since time immemorial. It has improved my skills greatly, but the expense was absolutely not worth it.

        And I do blame myself quite a bit, as I fell for a well-crafted consumer scam to get students to pay 5x and spend three years of their lives getting a degree that should cost far less and take far less time. Our problem isn’t the law degree per se, it’s (a) the way the law degree was presented to us; and (b) the way legal education is constructed. Your failure to address these points (or the simple math of 47k new lawyers for 25k jobs wanting new lawyers, or the grim reality than non-legal employers simply do not want JDs in this economy) does not speak well to your logic [put for sarcastic purposes, as you’re misusing the word] or reasoning.

        Perhaps, as a former professor, you’re trying to blame others for your own participation in the unethical scam?

        The fact that your bring up Rivera, LaRussa, and Laura Ingraham is laughable and non-instructive. Are new grads supposed to walk over and apply to be reporters at local TV stations? Are they supposed to go back and play professional baseball in 10 years? I didn’t even know who Laura Ingraham was, but looking her up on wikipedia, you’re pimping conservative shills as a model to follow?

        While we’re at it, Steve Young and Matthew Hale have JDs as well. How that’s supposed to help 20k JD holders who have no place in the economy find a place in the economy defies all “logic or reasoning.”

      • Putting aside Jay’s “willingness to blame everyone else for [his/her] problems,” (and the fact that you could make the the same, non-falsifiable assertion no matter how dire the employment situation for lawyers gets), I don’t see much wrong with Jay’s logic and reasoning. Jay cites basic, disturbing facts about legal education and employment, and you don’t challenge any of them. Instead you resolve to blaming Jay. But putting 100% the blame on applicants/students/grads like Jay, just allows law schools to keep charging unconscionable tuitions, and convincing prospective students to pay these tuitions through active, fraudulent marketing. These prospective applicants then borrow this money, without limit, from the public in the form of federal student loans, which the public is unlikely to ever see back due to loan defaults and/or IBR loan forgiveness repayment plans. Ethically, is that something you want to stand by?

        Jay might have “sought a magic degree,” which is certainly foolish. Yet all I see you suggesting here is that a law degree is a magic one.

        • I said it’s a good one. It’s only as good as the person holding it. You disagree?

          I do not comprehend going to a school based on assumptions about what a degree is “worth.” I never believed that, so I have a very hard time having much sympathy for anyone who did—it seems absurd to me. I wanted a good legal education, not a guaranteed job. I never checked what my law school claimed its employment rate was—what do those people have to do with me?

          It’s unethical to borrow money you aren’t certain you can repay. It is unethical to deceive people into borrowing such money with misleading information. Neither of these matters are at issue in my post or the subsequent discussion. I am asserting that a law degree has value. I am not asserting that the price today is fair. I would not have paid it.

          My son is a smart kid, but he has determined that the current cost of elite colleges are not worth the going price. He’s right.

          • Jay

            ” It is unethical to deceive people into borrowing such money with misleading information. Neither of these matters are at issue in my post or the subsequent discussion. ”

            Your post criticized someone who was critical of the bogus information put out by a law school, and you say flatly that ” the tuition is still a good investment.” To figure out whether it’s a good investment, you need to know the expected return and expected debt level. Your insistence that the plight of the individual law graduate is somehow divorced entirely from the fact that the law schools are putting out bogus information to entice the law graduate into debt that isn’t repayable is absurd.

            Now you want to claim that your belief is that you are “not asserting that the price today is fair. I would not have paid it” while standing by your assertion that law school is a “good investment” and that the person in the picture is unjustified in his/her criticisms even if the law school defrauded him/her because the law degree still has value.

            Have you considered how unethical your view is, since it basically eradicates consumer protection (“that car still has value; so what if they duped you into paying double for it, go drive the thing!”)?

            You are either a troll or a complete idiot, and now you’ve contradicted yourself while offering no proof for your prime assertions. You must be doing your alma mater proud.

          • Jason

            Well, do I disagree with what? That a law degree is a good one? Yes, I absolutely disagree with that. Heck, I work in the legal field (unlike some others posting here, I am fortunate to have found a job); I just don’t work with a group of traditional, practicing attorneys. And still my company doesn’t like to hire attorneys, because their legal education sets them up to practice law and think a certain way, but little else. I’m lucky to even have a job with the company, and it’s due only to some my non-legal experience and my background outside of law.

            Or do I disagree that a law degree is only as good as the person holding it? This is sort of interesting because, at least for those very few with a JD who do get a decent shot at a decent legal career with a decent chance of paying off their loans – namely those in biglaw – I disagree. Those people are hired based on their degrees (plus grades, maybe law review). A complete idiot could get a biglaw job with the right degree and grades. Or at least they could until biglaw itself started to collapse, right along with the rest of this antiquated, inefficient profession.

            I’m sure that when law school cost $5K a year you could justify going to law school for the education. Today that is economically infeasable for anyone who isn’t rich (never mind that legal education has become a joke, anyway). Most people go to law school to become lawyers, as law school is really the only way left to become a licensed attorney. And the reason they consider their employability/future earnings after graduation is that it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to go to law school. In my experience it’s not a bunch of kids thinking “I’m going to go to law school to make millions of dollars.” It’s a bunch of kids thinking, “I’m going to borrow money to go to law school. It’s a lot of money to borrow, but I can make a decent salary after graduation, pay off my loans, and then go on to [fill in whatever stupid dream they had about “practicing” in some nonexistent area of the law].” And the reason they think they’ll ever be in a position to pay off their loans is, well, because law schools lie and manipulate.

            Your son does sound smart. Pray he doesn’t change his mind. Better yet, convince him to skip higher education altogether. Tell him to pay for a tutor(s) rather than college credits, learn a skilled trade, and start a business.

      • Barry

        “Your logic, reasoning, and willingness to blame everyone else for your problems is adequate explanation for why you can’t find a job even with a law degree, Jay. Blame the degree if it makes you feel better, and good luck with that.”

        Well, no.

  9. Bobby Wilburger

    Jack, I have to say that (1) I get what you’re trying to say here and get where you’re coming from, but (2) your post is filled with many, many examples of completely inaccurate information.

    Other posters have pointed out quite a bit of this, but before I share my experience, I do want to point out that the conversation over the value of a law degree doesn’t begin and end with the problems of a few entitled slacker-types. The problem – and I understand that you probably disagree with me on this point – is that the *average* JD who has graduated recently is doing very poorly. I would even go so far as to say that, by now, it has become close to an accepted fact that the average law student comes out a loser as a result of getting their JD. There is plenty more information on this out there, and one rarely sees an informed commenter actually defending law schools these days. As a primer I would encourage you to read the following:

    http://balkin.blogspot.com/2012/03/quickly-exploding-law-graduate-debt.html (to give you a better idea of why the debt problem cannot be separated from the employment problem)

    http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2012/06/two-out-of-three-2011-law-school.html (to give you an idea of what the employment problem actually looks like)

    Anyway, I cannot begin to describe to you how bad the market is. In lieu of that, here’s my own anecdote, which I’ll preface by saying that I am one of the very lucky ones. I’m what you *might*, by some stretch of the term, call a law school “success” story.

    I’m a recent JD who, by all indications (good grades, journal, T14 school, all of that nonsense), should have a decent job out of law school. By “decent” I do not mean biglaw, though that would have been nice. I mean – literally – *any* job that can give me a reasonable salary and a chance to learn some things about how to actually practice law. By hustling – hard, by the way – for the past two years, I’ve been able to get something like three interviews for those types of jobs. The best chance I had of landing one came when there were *only* 19 other people who made it to the interview stage for a single position.

    As for the legal jobs that are attainable for someone like me? Well, let’s just say that it’s hard to make loan payments when you’re an unpaid intern for the third time, even if you’re also a waiter. While we’re on it, here’s two quick sidebars: (1) nobody but the most seriously deranged is going to attempt to go solo directly out of law school, except as an absolute last resort. Financing problems, marketing problems, malpractice risks, a lack of any practical legal or business knowledge, and the need to actually make student loan payments are going to prevent that from working out in all but the luckiest or most well-supported (for example, financing by the JD’s parents) of circumstances. (2) That 1.5% unemployment figure you threw out there? This article (http://amlawdaily.typepad.com/amlawdaily/2011/11/dear-prospective-law-students-do-not-reasonably-rely-on-cooleys-report-one.html) has a few reasons why that figure is not nearly as useful for evaluating the value of a JD as you would have initially believed. Try this instead: http://www.lawschooltransparency.com .

    Anyway, a little more than a year ago, I ventured into looking for non-legal work. And I kept hustling. And quite recently, I was successful. Proof of the versatility of a law degree? Hardly. I’ll be doing exactly the same work as I was prior to law school, but with a different company. And, as with every other contact I’ve had with a non-legal employer, I had to convince them that my law degree wouldn’t make me a liability or flight risk in order to get the job. And I am damn lucky they hired me too. At no point was the law degree seen as an asset, and it really only served to undermine my credibility as a candidate for every chance at employment that I had outside of a legal context. Finance, consulting, marketing, real estate, administration, and everything in between, up and down, from retail stockboy to investment banking. The JD was a complete and total liability each and every time.

    Of course, I had the fortune of having at least some prior experience to fall back on. I can’t say that most JD’s have that same luxury. And most don’t have a fancy T14 degree to lend them credibility, or a strong professional network, or financially secure friends or family to help them out. However, most are very hardworking and bright. Most went to law school to make a positive impact on the world, have an interesting career, or earn a middle class income. Some went to law school to be able to afford to send their own children to college. Many are the first in their family to attend college themselves.

    What they have in common is that nearly all of them have a massive amount of student debt outstanding. And the vast, vast majority of them have almost no chance at getting a job that would allow them to pay it off. And these students – generally – are very, very screwed (as are U.S. taxpayers who also are on the hook for these loans).

    After all that rambling, I guess my point is this: You are completely wrong. Your conclusion is wrong, your facts are wrong, your assumptions are wrong, and your attitude towards others is wrong. Your post and its title suggest that only “Young, Gullible, Lazy, Unimaginative and Unbelievable” people with JDs have trouble getting jobs. I can assure you that this suggestion is not only wrong, but is nowhere close to reality. A cursory bit of research would indicate the same, and I would encourage you to begin with the links I’ve provided.

    I strongly encourage you to read up on these issues before rushing to judge a very large group of people who are struggling to make ends meet. These people are my friends. While I can appreciate that the Occupy folks don’t always place themselves in the best light and that there is something to be said for pulling-self-up-by-bootstraps type folks, the job market for JDs is absolutely horrendous. Most people are doing their best to get by, most aren’t making excuses, and most just want to get to the point in their lives where they were three years before graduating. Taking a hostile tone and acting like a know-it-all is not the correct approach. Please, next time read up on the issues before you feel free to comment.

    • Bobby, thanks for one of the more measured and reasoned response to that post I’ve received so far. I’m making this the Comment of the Day, and will reply further on your comment was a featured post. I will see you on the home page in about an hour.

  10. Barry Walker

    I notice a strong disconnect between people who graduated from law schools in the last five years and people who haven’t.

    I’m a recent grad employed who landed a gig as a government lawyer after 9 months of un/underemployment (must mean I wasn’t that young, gullible and unimaginative, huh?). The near universal consensus from practicing attorneys, hiring attorneys, law graduates, unemployed attorneys, judges, law professors, career services administrators, NALP, the blogosphere and the New York Times is that the market for attorneys is awful and that the market for recent graduates is more awful and that things are going to be very grim for the next several years.

    The next time you try to sweep the upending of the profession under the rug and toss out a bunch of unsupported statements, append these to your post to pre-empt comments like mine:

    inb4 bimodal salary distribution
    inb4 graveyard effect
    inb4 cognitive dissonance

    • Huh? And where did I say in the post at issue that the job market wasn’t awful? I sadi it was better for someone with a law degree than someone without one, which is true. What unsubstantiated statements? I said that standing around in a park holding a sign was a stupid and irresponsible way to look for a legal job, and it is. I quoted the Labor department’s 2010 stats on lawyer employment.

      9 months? Kid stuff. I’ve looked for the right job for almost a year in the past. These are special times, and yes, it’s tough. I didn’t say it wasn’t. I said that it’s not the fault of the law schools or the law degree.

      • Barry Walker

        unsubstantiated statements:

        “most lawyers earn six figures”
        “the tuition is still a good investmen”
        everything about hanging a shingle

        Congrats on enduring unemployment for almost three more months, though I would be more impressed if you did it right out of school with $150 in loans

        • Wrong.
          The median income of lawyers is 6 figures according to Labor Department figures.
          The tuition IS a good investment. If you can’t afford to pay it, that’s a different issue. A home is also a good investment, but not if you can’t pay the mortgage.
          Your position is that hanging out a shingle is IMPOSSIBLE? I’d love to see your support for THAT. Impossible for you, perhaps.
          Who made you take out $150,000 in loans?

          • BoredJD

            Law school WAS a good investment when the people who graduated 20-30 years ago and are now at their mid-career earning power are counted. The BLS stat has very little relevance for a recent graduate or a person considering whether to go to law school right now. It also does not include the salaries/prospects of people who are not lawyers or have left the profession.

            The simple fact is there are 45,000 JDs being produced each year (over 90% of whom will take the bar) for 25,000 new lawyer job openings. These job openings include part-time, temporary, and experienced lawyer positions. Many of them will be filled by attorneys who graduated in 2011, 2010, and before, who have been waiting for years for a job to open up. That’s simple arithmetic. The fact that so many people are choosing to take the bar after graduation (at considerable expense) should tell you that many of these hopefuls want jobs as lawyers. They are just unable to find them.

            Now whether a JD could secure a non-law position paying enough to justify the cost of going to law school is another question. Maybe that was the case in your day, when tuition and debt were extremely low. It’s just not the case today. A BA holder with a job and three years of experience is in a much better position than a JD holder with no job, no experience, and 100-120K of high-interest, non-dischargable student loan debt. Have you run the numbers on what a 40-50K salary (the median outcome for the c/o 2011) looks like with that amount of debt? It is not pretty. The interest expense alone is between $8-10,000 per year.

            I’ve always found it interesting that people who work for law schools love to tout how driven, passionate, intelligent, and hard-working their students are in admissions materials, then turn around and call those same students whiny, entitled, and lazy when they come back to them during or after law school frustrated at their inability to secure employment and keep current on their loans. What changed during the prior three years?

            Your suggestion that someone with $120,000 in student loan debt and no idea how to practice law could or should open up their own law firm is absurd on its face. Where is the financing for basic office space and supplies going to come from? Equally absurd is your claim that students shouldn’t expect to rely on the employment statistics presented by the law schools. What does this say to students? Why should they pay $40,000 per year to attend a school where they always need to be on the lookout for some new kind of duplicity or misrepresentation?

            Before you dismiss me as some whiny, entitled, indebted loser, I graduated from a top 10 law school and have what most people would consider an excellent employment outcome. But I am concerned about the massive reputation hit my profession is taking due to the oversupply of JDs and the high debt loads, and I recognize that we all have a duty to maintain the law as a desirable field for young people to enter. If that means that some schools need to close and many professors/administrators will lose their jobs, that’s a small price to pay.

            • Sorry, but…
              1. The non-legal jobs available to lawyers pay very well. Ignoring these in the calculation of job opportunities is either ignorant or intellectually dishonest.
              2. What supplies? You can start a solo law practice with a phone, a laptop, a printer, a website and a basement. Excuses. Not having the guts and initiative to go solo is not the same as “it’s impossible to go solo.”
              3. The post said that hanging around all day holding a hand-lettered sign about your un-named law school was whiny, lazy and entitled. It isn’t??? Explain.
              4. I repeat: if you go to law school because of job statistics from the marketing department, you’re going to school for the wrong reason. The school’s job is to educate you. Finding a job is your responsibility. If you can’t get an interview and impress the potential employer, no degree will help.
              5. We have been taking about the over-supply of JDs for decades, which is why I did not assume that my law degree would lead to a job as a lawyer. My father was a lawyer and worked as a banker, a buyer for Sears Roebuck, in local politics, as an association executive,and a sole proprietor of a consulting business. I’ve been a marketing VP, a legal services operator, a public policy research foundation CEO, a consultant, a law professor, a theater executive, a professional director, a satiric performing troupe operator, a published author, a playwright, a health care organization president, an association executive and a legal ethicist. Oh yes… a lawyer. The law degree helped in every one of these pursuits.

              If a law grad ends up holing a sign, I have no sympathy for him.

              • I’m sorry for my flood of comments, but this is one more things I want to comment on: “I repeat: if you go to law school because of job statistics from the marketing department, you’re going to school for the wrong reason. The school’s job is to educate you. Finding a job is your responsibility. If you can’t get an interview and impress the potential employer, no degree will help.”

                Considering that law schools now costs somewhere near $200K for three years of education, it’s both logical and ethical for prospective law students to consider their employment outcomes and opportunities before borrowing this type of money from the public. And this goes far beyond law school marketing departments (not that it being restricted to law school marketing departments would justify their distonhesty).

                Law schools gave up their role as solely educators/not employement agencies when they began actively deceiving people with fraudulent employment statistics. That’s why, even in the class action against New York Law School (the only one of many class actions against law schools to be dismissed) the Judge did not dismiss the case because law schools provide only an education. He dismissed the case because he didn’t believe the law schools had been dishonest enough, and also because he believed college grads applying to law school were smart enough to not buy into law schools’ dishonesty.

              • BoredJD

                1) Where’s your evidence for this assertion, and evidence that these jobs are available for graduates of non-elite schools? Because it’s not found in the employment statistics presented by law schools, and it is not found in an anecdote about your experience 20 or 30 years ago when law school cost $5-10K/year in today’s dollars.
                2) Many jurisdictions have a physical office requirement. Unless you think lawyers should be inviting clients into their homes or discussing matters with them in public places, renting a physical plant seems necessary. Starting a small business takes time and guts, but it also takes capital. Who is going to give a recent law school graduate with $100-120K in non-dischargable student loan debt and no experience a small business loan? Not a very good investment.
                3) No, it isn’t whiny to call attention to a serious social problem like institutions of higher learning misleading 22 year olds about the employment prospects so they will give them $150K in federally-backed student loans. You must be one of those people who never complains about any problem, ever. It must be amazing to live in a perfect world.
                4) I’m sorry, but that really doesn’t jive with the reality of the situation. If you want students to take it as reality that their schools are out to cheat, lie, and mislead them, then you have to take it as reality that most students go to law school to have middle or upper-middle class lawyer careers. Quid pro quo.
                5) Again, you graduated how many years ago, when tuition was how much? Things have changed. Nobody should go to law school on the off-chance someone will hire them for a non-legal position. If they want a non-law job, they should forget law school and go get a non-legal job.

            • One more observation..if a website called “butidideverythingrightorsoithought” isn’t whiny, I don’t know what is.

              • Angel the Lawyer

                Angel here from “but i did everything right or so i thought”. It’s not whiny, it’s a fact. I did everything right, but I was wrong in thinking that it would lead to the intended result. I am not a victim by any means. I work 3.5 jobs to support myself and work over 12 hours daily to make ends meet. I’m not whining, I am out to warn others who read your website and are misled into believing that a law school education will get you some place in life. Thanks for caring!

                • That’s a passing strange definition of doing everything right, Angel. How about, “I made some foolish judgments and am now blaming everyone and everything in sight rather than accepting that I was wrong”? Too long?

                  Millions of successful law degree recipients are successful in legal and non-legal jobs as a direct result, including the President of the United States, the entire Supreme Court, the Senate majority leader, the creator of “The Good Wife,” four successful radio talk show hosts and best-selling authors Scott Turow and John Grisham, and many, many others, but because you haven’t been able to make it work, a law education is worthless.

                  I am sorry that you got this way, but I don’t know what I can do about it.

                  • Angel the Lawyer

                    You’re hilarious. I don’t need you to do anything for me. I remain self-sufficient, and use my degree every day. It’s just not what I had hoped. I am shocked that you think that this degree is that valuable is all.. or that it’s versatile or that random peoples that made it in life credit their law degrees for their success. I think of mine as an anchor, but I’m still afloat.

                    • hymotion

                      I have to agree with Angel. The law degree is an anchor in the current environment. The value of a law degree has simply be diluted into oblivion by 10,000 to 20,000+ extra lawyers being produced every year for the past few decades. Unemployed lawyers are a dime a dozen. It is getting almost comical to see anyone discuss the “versatility of a law degree”. It is so far off that such a statement doesn’t even deserve to be taken seriously these days.

                    • Go ahead then…give up. More opportunities for grads withe wit and imagination to show how legal expertise can help the organization. The glut of lawyers affects high paying jobs and low-performing lawyers. Anyone who went to law school to make a bundle—it is a profession, you know—and took a huge loan to get a degree, knowing that the loan greatly limited the opportunities for employment, set themselves up to fail. The slump just made it worse. Good lawyers make their degrees look good.

                      The more I read these posts, the more it seems clear that this is just a mass avoidance of accountability. Who needs employees that think that way, in law, in politics, or anywhere?

                    • BoredJD

                      Jack,

                      What about the accountability of the ABA and the law schools? The ABA allows existing law schools to operate and new law schools to open knowing that many graduates will be in effective default on their taxpayer backed loans upon graduation. The law schools publish misleading employment statistics and continue raising salaries for professors and deans knowing that their graduates are not getting jobs that justify ever increasing tuition.

                      You’re part of the problem. People like you rant about accountability when applied to individuals, but never the institutions who created this problem. Why the difference? Is it really better to blame tens of thousands of individuals working with incomplete information and biases than a few large institutions who created and profited from a market failure? Don’t the law schools and the ABA owe a duty to their students, the legal profession, and the taxpayer (since they take advantage of federal loans)?

                      Our problem with you is that you seem to completely missed the forest for one lone tree.

                    • 1. I’m not ranting. When I rant, I say so.
                      2. It is not the ABA’s job to find jobs or monitor the job market; it is not the law schools’ responsibility to tell students not to take out risky loans. It is the law schools’ job to make sure it conveys a good legal education to qualified students who work diligently.
                      3.The law is a profession. Anyone who goes to law school to make a lot of money shouldn’t be going to law school at all.
                      4. I hold the law schools responsible, along with the rest of higher education, for charging unconscionable tuition fees. Those fees would and will go down when students refuse to pay them.
                      5. There is no “scam” if a known product is sold for a known price. The fact that the product is not as useful for some who use it as they assumed dows not make it a scam. The product is the knowledge, not the diploma.
                      6. An institution was not holding a sign in a public park. I wrote about the guy who was.

                    • 1. No comment
                      2. It’s one of the ABA’s jobs to monitor and regulate law schools. It is the law school’s job to educate/train tomorrow’s attorneys, which includes encouraging honesty. Since law schools do the exact opposite and engage in dishonest behavior, both they and the ABA should be held responsible.
                      3. Hoping to pay back one’s loans is not necessarily equivalent to going to law school to make a lot of money.
                      4. But you don’t hold them accountable for lying? Students will stop paying the unconscionable fees once law schools are completely honest. Look at what happened to applications and enrollment as soon as law schools were even a tiny bit honest.
                      5. This is wrong. Even when a product is sold at a known price, the exchange can still involve a scam if misrepresentations are made about the product. And I have no idea how you have concluded that the diploma is not at least part of the law school/law student contract.
                      6. How do you know he was in a park?

                      A side note: for better or for worse, it seems you’ve become rather well-known amongst the scambloggers. http://thirdtierreality.blogspot.com/2012/06/profiles-in-wicked-deceit-jack-marshall.html. Even my search for “Jack Marshall ethics alarms” brought some of these blogs up.

                    • BoredJD

                      1. You’ve written thousands of words on this one topic, through two blog posts and debating with commenters. You’ve raised no new points and your argument is pretty much the exact same thing as when you started. You cite no statistics (unlike the commenters who come armed with facts).
                      2. What the hell happened to your generation? Since when did it just become okay to screw people over just because you can? The ABA Section on Legal Education is the regulatory body for law schools. It is their duty to make sure law students are entering the profession prepared to practice- which includes a decent job that will allow them to develop their skills. Nobody is saying it has to be Biglaw.
                      The ABA needs to protect the profession. As you can see, the profession is taking a huge reputation hit. It’s starting to become common knowledge that people who go to law school right now are doing so because 1) they are too dumb to parse the misrepresentations made by law schools, 2) they have no other job options and need the three years of living expenses, 3) they have a lot of undergrad debt they need to defer. That doesn’t speak very well of the future generation of lawyers now, does it?
                      Additionally, access to the legal profession is being impeded by the high tuition costs. This burden falls on poor and middle-class students.
                      Law schools owe an even greater duty to their students. They claim to be respected institutions of higher learning. They claim most of their graduates wind up in full-time legal jobs. They claim to be a community where people look out for one another. A community would not do this to its members.
                      Any law school that is run by lawyers may also be liable for failure to be honest and forthright in business dealings as required by ethics rules of their jurisdiction.
                      3.Nobody suggests that every student who goes to law school is 160K Skadden or bust. But, as has been pointed out, many law students are not even receiving wages that will allow them to avoid effective default on their federal loans. Many of these people are working jobs outside of the profession, or are working jobs that are not professional track.
                      4. I’m not sure how you expect this to happen in an information void (or a world where the only information presented is put out by law schools). You keep mentioning whiners. A whiner to you seems to be anyone who complains about anything, ever. If nobody says that law school is too highly priced to be a good investment given the jobs available after three years, how exactly will there be any change in the numbers of people going to law school?
                      5. Fraud is fraud.
                      6. See #4. This guy is the market at work. He’s just not saying what you want him to say.

                    • Fraud is fraud. Either there is no case for widespread fraud, or you’re a lousy lawyer, because the case hasn’t been made.

                    • BoredJD

                      Nice cherry picking Jack, but the lawsuits have already been filed. Care to respond to how you think we’re going to see a reduction in lawyers if nobody ever talks about how law school is a bad investment?

          • Jack, when this topic started 9 months ago, you could be excused for your statements. They were in line with mainstream thinking about the state of the legal job market.

            However that is simply no longer possible. Law schools are in crisis mode right now because of the information that is now available. The smart kids have realized that a law degree is essentially a scam these days. Law school applications have declined dramatically.

            Anyone doing even a basic search for the facts would disagree with the bulk of your points listed above.

            I am not going to repeat the same arguments made by commenters above. But I agree with the bulk of them. You are on the wrong side of this debate and will realize it over time.

            • Are they teaching reading comprehension in law school? Maybe that’s the problem.

              The post was 9 months ago about a boob holding a sign. That law school applications are down proves nothing, but it’s about damn time. My post wasn’t about the legal job market, but about the ability of someone with a lawyer’s skills and credentials to find a good job, legal or not. It was not about the difficulty of paying off a loan that was a bad bet to begin with, either.

              I don’t know what points you’re talking about. Are people who don’t have the courage, diligence and sense of personal responsibility getting law degrees for bad reasons? Yes. Is this an especially difficult time for anyone looking for a job? Yes—and it will pass. Are student loan burdens hopelessly high? Yes—and my post wasn’t about that.

              Is the solution to sit around all day with a whiny sign?

              I’ll leave that one to you.

              • Boomer

                I think that Jack Marshall is a flame that only writes this stuff to try and get people riled up. Surely he cant believe that what he is saying?

                • I can’t believe that a lawyer who doesn’t have a job should sit around all day with a sign complaining about his law school? Wow, what an outrageous concept.

                  • Jason

                    To be fair, how do you know he “sit[s] around all day with a sign complaining about his law school”? Maybe he just made a sign and took a picture of it. Or perhaps he went to a rally on a Saturday. In fact if he actually is a law grad, as another poster pointed out, it’s not like he has the chance to sit on his butt collecting unemployment (or welfare, or disability). He’s probably working retail, like a lot of law grads.

                    The scale of the law school scam is so massive (the public now funding the legal “education” of unneeded lawyers to the tune of more than $4 billion/year, and unlikely to see most of that money back) that I’d say it’s ethically outrageous for people to not speak up about the matter. Good for him for making this sign.

                    • Well, the sign represents law grads as 1) deceptive 2) lazy and 3) without skills to deal with problems. He didn’t have the candor or guts to name the school so his facts could be checked. Good for him? I guess its good that he sparked this thread, so everyone can see the subculture of the unemployed law grad support group concocting a vast conspiracy theory to explain their failure to find a job that lets them pay off their absurd, irratioanally and irresponsibly borrowed loans.

                    • Jason

                      With the exception of the statement that he has “no job prospects,” which no one in their right mind should take literally, how is the sign deceptive?

                      How does making a sign prove that he’s lazy? It looks like it took 2 minutes to make.

                      Does anyone who mentions being defrauded out of money lack the skills to deal with problems? If not, why is it the case for this guy?

                      And there you go again, referring to a “conspiracy” and blaming the victims while defending the thieves that you have previously admitted are guilty. This law school scam “subculture” exists well outside a little-read blog thread. Law professors blog about it and now write books about it. Mainstream news sources cover it. Sen Boxer is considering prosecuting people for it. And you are appalled at a guy that you know nothing about, who made a sign?

          • Jay

            “The median income of lawyers is 6 figures according to Labor Department figures.”

            Wrong, or at best highly misleading. The Labor Department is citing working lawyers. If you look Matt Leichter’s work on this subject, he estimates that roughly half of JDs produced in the last 40 years are out of the labor market. Thus, the “median” is getting skewed much, much higher than it should be. The poster above referred to the graveyard effect. You would be wise to look into it.

            Another problem is that current salaries (demand) for experienced attorneys in no way predicts future salaries for people graduating law school now. There are a lot of signs that lawyers wages are stagnating or dropping thanks to a variety of sources (increased competition, increased efficiency, clients scrutinizing bills more carefully, etc.). As a matter of logic, your position is unsustainable.

            “The tuition IS a good investment. If you can’t afford to pay it, that’s a different issue. A home is also a good investment, but not if you can’t pay the mortgage.”

            A good investment is one that pays a good return after factoring interest and time value. The total cost of law school ranges from around 80k to 200k. It takes 3 years and about 3 months to go from nothing to licensed attorney. Assuming most of those people could have menial jobs during that span, the “investor” is forgoing roughly 75k in lost income, 3.25 years of lost work experience, and (taking the halfway point) spending 140k. That’s 215k and 3.25 years down the sinkhole. It would be justified if the average JD holder could make back that 215k and 3.25 years over the next 45 years. The raw numbers clearly show that is not the case for about 50% of new JD holders, and the jury is still out on the remainder.

            Law, like anything, is a good bet for the people who rise to the top, perhaps 5% of new JD holders. It’s an awful investment choice for everyone else considering the other options.

            Another reason one could easily deduce this is that private lenders aren’t pushing their way into the student loan market at lower rates than the federal government offers. If higher education funding were left to the private market, the whole system would collapse immediately.

            RE: hanging a shingle

            Have you ever tried to run a business? The overhead is a killer. The idea of a profitable law office trying to work with “a phone, a laptop, a printer, a website and a basement” is absurd. How about insurance? Bar dues? CLEs? Where/how are you meeting clients? How are you getting grunt work done? Where are you keeping files? How are you paying for transportation to court? How are you drumming up new business and doing billable work at the same time? How are you researching, are you paying for a Westlaw subscription? Why would the average consumer select you over established law offices with the advantages of size and support staff? What about postage? How are filing fees going to get fronted? How are you going to pay process servers/investigators?

            I would imagine the number of law offices started in basements with a laptop and a phone and an HP printer is about 1 to every 1000 that fail within 6 months.

      • Barry

        “I sadi it was better for someone with a law degree than someone without one, which is true.”

        Please post some evidence – and please note that citing the unemployment rate for lawyers is not proof; this has been explained for you.

  11. Pretty sure that title is meant to be ironic.

    • Jason

      To be clear, here I meant the title of the blog “But I Did Everything Right.”

      Had an issue with the reply feature..

  12. Lawyers are overpaid

    Lawyers are overpaid. Crank out more of EM, and lower their exorbitant prices!!!

    • Jason

      The exorbitant prices are going to lower regardless of how many unemployable law grads are cranked out. People and businesses are already beginning to realize that legal matters do not require a “legal expert” and that you don’t need to pay $300/hr to get legal matters sorted out.

      This government-protected monopoly – a joke of a “profession,” really – is falling apart.

      • Jason, you are obviously a smart guy, but the more you write, the more I picture you sitting in a room with tin foil on your head.
        If a company pays 300 dollars an hour for a lawyer (or more), it chose to. It didn’t have to.

        • Jason

          Thanks, but what necessitates the “foil” comment? I imagine it stems from either my comments law school is a scam, or that the traditional legal market is disappearing (inform me if I’m wrong). But the former is increasingly well know, and the latter is nothing knew.

          Also, I didn’t say that companies were coerced into paying $300/hour. I said that companies are realizing that it no longer makes sense to do so.

  13. Jason

    From http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2012/06/cost-of-living.html#comment-form (comments section). Slightly political with its comment regarding fiscal conservatives (not that liberals don’t make up a very good portion of the “academics” that drive this scam), but still a very good point:

    “I do not believe the people that are fiscal conservatives that say they are being hard on you because you took money and are not paying it back. I do not believe them because whether you took money or not, the people who benefited from the scam are still able to steal from the public trough. If they were concerned about money being stolen from them, they would stop the thieves FIRST. AFTER they stop the thieves, then they should punish the negligent and naïve students. I also do not believe them because of what I said above: there are far, far bigger parasites than some stupid kid who believe the BS his/her teachers fed him/her since birth.”

    All that goes for blame as well. Blame the thieves first. Blame the sign-makers afterwards.

    • “Blame the thieves first. Blame the sign-makers afterwards.”

      1) I don’t have to blame anyone in the order you prefer, frankly. Nobody questions the bad ethics of thieves. Too many people are willing to be sympathetic to healthy, credentialed whiners carrying signs and blaming everyone else for their problems. Hence my choice of targets.
      2) How I detest the category of comments in this and other threads that consist of: “Why are you picking on A when B is worse?” That’s just a variation of the “It’s not the worst thing!” rationalization. I don’t care if other individuals are “worse.” I get around to them when I write about that issue.
      3) That so many law degree holders will rally to the defense of, and indeed identify with, the ludicrous OWS sign-maker is an indictment of values, not to mention self-recognition, on its own.

      • Jason

        1) It’s not a problem of you blaming people in the wrong order. It’s a problem of you putting all of the blames on the “whiny” people while making every excuse you can to defend the thieves, despite your having admitted elsewhere that they are in fact thieving.

        2) You made the original post almost a year ago and you’ve known about the law school scam for a while now, as does pretty much everyone who reads/watches the news. When do you plan to get to this crucial, ethical issue? And does it really take a back-seat to “How’s My Driving” bumper stickers?

        3) The sign raises an important matter. And your avid defense of law schools says a lot about values as well.

      • Barry

        ” I don’t have to blame anyone in the order you prefer, frankly. Nobody questions the bad ethics of thieves. Too many people are willing to be sympathetic to healthy, credentialed whiners carrying signs and blaming everyone else for their problems. Hence my choice of targets.”

        It’s interesting, because that comment is also applicable to law schools.

  14. Brendan

    First of all, I’m no fan of the OWS crowd either. Protesting Wall Street is a waste of time.

    But I feel compelled to point out that your valuation of a law degree is somewhat skewed. For those graduates who have the right background (MBA or what have you) or extensive professional experience (or just the right connection), a law degree might be the tipping point that lands you a non-legal job. The further along in your career and the more diverse your experience, the more that I imagine this will be true.

    However, in this economy, for a newly minted attorney with no prior work experience, that law degree is going to shut more doors than it opens. If you majored in English (essentially a background in the analysis of “story”) and you’ve never had a great internship anywhere, a law degree seems to be the kiss of death. No non-legal employer is going to take you seriously. Despite graduating Cum Laude from Notre Dame with a degree in English, I can’t even land an interview for an assistant editing position with a religious literary association that expressed a hiring preference for people of my own religion living in my city. In other words, my law degree makes me “over-qualified” for most entry level positions in non-legal fields. However, within the legal field I have little hope of obtaining permanent employment. “Hanging a shingle” for legal work is not for everybody and refusing to do so doesn’t make you unimaginative or lazy. (If Albert Einstein had made the mistake of going to law school, would you characterize him as unimaginative because he couldn’t find a job or drum up new clients? In fact, Einstein struggled for years to find a post and when he did finally find one– it was a temp job at a patent office where he was continually passed over for promotion. Quantum theory isn’t the product of a lazy and unimaginative mind.) Additionally, I’ve outstripped the profits of several classmates who went solo just by doing contract work. The problem with a law degree isn’t that it doesn’t afford new opportunity. The problem is that it shuts out old opportunities that can’t then easily be re-opened. Be careful what you wish for, because you’re stuck with the label “attorney” for life once you have that J.D.

    Ultimately it is everyone’s own responsibility to find satisfactory employment. You are correct that newly graduated attorneys must learn to be more imaginative and resourceful than ever. But if and when they find success, it will hardly be due to their law degree. More likely, it will be DESPITE the shackle of a law degree around their neck. I fully expect to solve my financial dilemmas, but only after I’ve managed to counter the dead weight of three years in law school.

    Finally, I just want to say that success in the field of law isn’t a great indicator of ability. I know several classmates who work in big law and failed their first bar exam. I passed with a high score on my first try without taking a commercial course. Having just paid for THREE YEARS of legal education, why would ANYBODY need a commercial course??? The answer to that is simple: law school utterly fails to prepare you to practice law. Your grades are mostly a measure of how well you understand your professor and not how well you understand the law. In my case, my grades were a measure of how well I remembered to sign an attendance sheet that got passed around a classroom of 100 people. That was what the great endeavor of law school boiled down to for me…. could I remember to sign my name on a sheet of paper? No. I rarely ever did. So every other grade was docked half a letter grade for each time over 5 times I forgot. It turns out the ivory tower of law school is less intellectually stimulating and more banal than counting beans in kindergarten. And now I click through thousands upon thousands of emails for a living. Thank god for the intellectual challenges afforded to me by my law school education and law degree. Or not.

    • Great comment, and I agree with a lot of it, believe it or not.

      I agree that hanging out a shingle is not for everybody. Not for everybody, however, is not the same as “no prospects, none.” Picking beans and carrying trash away isn’t for everybody either, but if someone can’t find anything to do and those things are available, don’t tell me there is nothing to do. (I mean the universal you, and the other posters here, not you.)

      I agree that law schools do not prepare students to practice many kinds of law, or often does not. I had access to a clinical program that allowed me to work in prosecutors’ offices, take defense cases in criminal court and actually do the work with accompanying supervision and related study—that was excellent job training. I worked writing appellate briefs during the summer, and law school also prepares you for that. College, however, teaches workplace skills even less, and I never hear that a college degree is an impediment to employment.

      I agree that employers are stunningly ignorant regarding what law grads bring to non-legal jobs, and I lay that directly on the backs of legal educators, graduates and lawyers, who have failed to communicate it. Saying that a law degree makes someone over-qualified is like saying that the fact that someone can think clearly makes them over-qualified. (I once successfully made this argument to an interviewer, quizzing him about what it was exactly that he thinks law school trains students to do.

      You do realize the inconsistency of saying that law schools don’t prepare students to practice law and saying that legal training is so specialized that it isn’t a useful credential, right? Law school is a general education in indispensable skills that are as applicable to many other professions as the are in law. If graduates and lawyers and schools choose not to communicate that (and indeed undermine understanding with the attitude I’m reading in these posts, who’s at fault?

      • les9

        My reply (I’m the same poster as above) is this: my views aren’t inconsistent because I never actually said legal training was “so specialized that it wasn’t useful.” Legal training has inherent value. My implication was that employers BELIEVE that legal training is so specialized as to be useless, and worse, they think the law degree means I’ll leave their company as soon as the economy turns around and a legal job becomes available. So regardless of its inherent value, it’s practical value is greatly reduced to the point of being a burden. And I agree, it’s my job to sell my degree’s value. But, unfortunately, if you can’t get in front of anyone, it’s difficult to convince anyone of that. (And I thank you for a great answer to the “over-qualified” argument. However, it doesn’t solve the problem that employers either feel threatened by an attorney or think you’ll quit later. I know a contract attorney who quit and took a job at McDonald’s as a cook because he just wanted an honest job with a hope of a genuine career where he could be recognized. He left his JD off the application and when the manager later discovered he had an attorney flipping burgers in the kitchen, he was fired on the spot. I WISH I was making that up.)

        You and I are not too far apart in our viewpoints. My legal education didn’t prepare me to operate my own business, find clients, or navigate a court room, but I agree that it sharpened my analytic skills and has inherent value. However, when the only job I can find involves clicking and re-clicking through thousands of email so that big law can fraudulently bilk clients… it has little practical value to me. I think the difference in our viewpoint can be attributed to the fact that you graduated in a different era. Times have changed. Employers have streamlined everything for efficiency and they expect candidates with specialized degrees. Everything is becoming more specialized and the liberal arts approach is losing value. I see it everywhere. As an English major, I’ve been told that it will be hard for me to break into technical writing because I don’t hold a degree specificially IN technical writing. And no employer seems to want an employee who’s primary experience is taking notes in law school.

        Believe me, I hear you about picking beans and carrying trash. I paid off 3/4 of my loans in my first year by picking beans and carrying trash for Big Law. And that’s doing the lowliest job in the entire field: document review. And when I’m not working, I’ve got a tutoring business set up on the side. Everything goes on the loans. “Young, gullible, lazy, unimaginative and unbelievable.” For the most part, I couldn’t agree more. My generation has no concept of fiscal responsibility. But then why should they? They can pay a mere ten percent of their salary for 20 years and have all their debt forgiven. The rest of it can be paid by hard-working taxpayers who had the good sense not to go to law school. Couldn’t agree more on that point.

        I just take issue with this: “A law degree is the most versatile and useful degree there is.” I have to disagree that this is still true in today’s market. I think a law degree is the worst mistake you could make if you lack strong experience in the work force. You may not starve with a law degree… but you’ll pay for it with a thousand clicks of your mouse.

        Nonetheless if you have any quick and candid suggestions on how to aggressively move out of document review into a job that involves real analytical thinking, I would be glad to benefit from your experience. I’m not looking for some kind of scheme to dump my loans on somebody else. My loans will shortly be paid in their entirety. I just want a genuine opportunity that doesn’t involve a temp agency taking away half my wages for the dubious service of pretending to be my employer so that my real employer doesn’t have to pay me any benefits. (I do appreciate your graciousness in responding to all these posts for so long by the way.) If you know of any fields waiting to be harvested by a motivated bean picker…. hey…. just wave your hand in the direction.

        • les9

          Also, not to be confused… when I said “responding to all these posts for so long” I didn’t mean I was the one posting all of them! I just meant to remark on your diligence in replying to everybody. I’m a different Brendan from the earlier “Brendon” who made comments.

        • Fascinating and thoughtful comment. Thanks.

          But let me say just this:

          1. Law degrees have always been versatile, and lawyers have always failed to recognize that. It’s no surprise that non-lawyers need some explaining on the the matter.
          2. Hostility to law degrees didn’t magically appear. That’s a perception borne of confirmation bias. People who can’t get jobs in a bad market and believe in themselves have to blame something external, so its now the degree. Columnists are writing that the U.S. Presidency is an impossible job to succeed at, because the current President is struggling and inept. They did the same thing with Jimmy Carter—anything to avoid facing the ugly truth.
          3. My theater company just hired a lawyer as the Managing director. She explained why the job, which does not require a legal degree, benefits from a lawyer. Any lawyer who can’t make a similar argument to an employer and convince them didn’t learn much in law school, or doesn’t understand their own profession.

          • BoredJD

            Was it an entry-level lawyer with no experience in theater?

            • No, but an entry level lawyer with experience in theater would have had a competitive edge over a non-lawyer with comparable theatrical experience, which is the point at issue.

              • It’s a competitive edge when its versatility and value has to be explained to employers?

                Regardless, what’s at issue here is the value of the law degree itself, not whether it can be boost to those who already have relevant skills and/or experience (I’m certain it can be a boost in certain cases; a boost worth what a law degree currently costs is a different matter). The background and experience(s) that most law grads have is their schooling.

              • BoredJD

                The question is whether the entry-level lawyer with experience in theater and 120K in debt would be in a better position than a non-lawyer with comparable baseline experience PLUS three more years of experience gained while the lawyer was in law school. Would that be the case?

                • Of course not. But the debt issue has never been part of this discussion. If I could only get a law degree by accepting a $120,000 debt, I wouldn’t have gone to law school. If you know of a verified case where a law school held someone’s family at gun point and made a college grad take on a $120,000 debt to get a law degree and save their lives, please enlighten me.

                  • BoredJD

                    Fraud is fraud, Jack. It may not be a gun to the head, but it is still against the law. If law schools induce graduates to take on massive educational debt with bogus employment stats that is illegal.

                    Even if debt is not an issue, the question still stands: All else being equal, does the recently graduated lawyer with some theater experience get the job over the non-lawyer with theater experience PLUS three years of theater experience gained while the lawyer was in law school?

                    • I answered that: “of course not.”

                      The employment stats, flawed as they were in some cases, cannot be fraud because nobody in their right mind would use law school employment stats as the justification for 1) going to a law school or 2) taking out a huge loan.

                    • “The employment stats, flawed as they were in some cases…”

                      It currently appears that all law schools besides Yale, Harvard, Stanford and Chicago had flawed statistics. Is that what you mean by “some cases”?

                      “…cannot be fraud because nobody in their right mind would use law school employment stats as the justification for 1) going to a law school or 2) taking out a huge loan.”

                      Then why were the schools manipulating these statistics, and holding off on releasing honest and accurate statistics for as long as possible? It’s because no one in their right mind would pay or borrow $200K to attend law school if they knew that half of law grads don’t find legal employment, and the half that do make $40K/year. Law schools lied, and continue to lie because they know that people do use the stats as justifiying their decision to 1) attend law school at such a high price and 2) take out huge loans to do so.

                      There’s a reason no one else is making your argument.

                    • Yes, THAT’S valid logic, Jason: if nobody else is making an argument, it must be wrong. Till it to Copernicus.Like the “lawsuits have been filed” response to my claim that there is no valid basis for a lawsuit. Once, they taught students why such reasoning was fallacious.

                      I asked four law students I know and seven recent graduates whether they checked those employment stats before applying to laws school and accepting. You know how many answered yes? ZERO. And that’s what I expected, too. I think the “scam” mongering is an after the fact attempt to blame the law schools for assumptions, rash ones, made by graduates who can’t find jobs now and want to blame anyone but themselves. And that’s why your law suits are doomed—you can’t possibly show that the statistics, accurate, flawed, negligent or otherwise, were the primary or even decisive motivation for students going to law school.

                    • Jason

                      “Once, they taught students why such reasoning was fallacious.”

                      That must have been back when they were teaching students that fraud allegations require a gun being held to someone’s head, and that cherry picking is a valid form of argument. The point of my last sentence was to reiterate that no one – not the judges hearing these cases, not the desperate law schools themselves – are making the argument that no one relies on these statistics, because that argument is ridiculous. Again, even the one lawsuit that was dismissed was not dismissed because it couldn’t be shown that the statistics were not a motivation for students, or any such nonsense. And the many remaining law suits do not appear to be “doomed” for this reason.

                      The students and grads you talked to did not borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend law school, or took out loans but have some other way to pay them off should they not find employment sufficient to do so, or are irresponsible and unethical morons who are willing to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars from taxpayers with no concern as to how they will pay this money back (and I know you don’t believe that anyone truly cares about the taxpayers being ripped off, but even if that were true, it doesn’t justify taxpayers being ripped off).

                      I wish that the law school scam was fiction. But if you really think that it is, then you have absolutely no idea what’s going on. Legal education is in an epic crisis. Law schools were recently forced to be somewhat honest, and almost immediately applications dropped by 25% (which, by the way, says a lot about your assertion that applicants don’t consider employment stats). Law schools are now chaotically struggling to figure out a way to remain relevant and survive in the long term, now that everyone knows they have been lying, and now that it’s becoming clear that the traditional legal market is not coming back.

                      As a law grad who is actually employed, like you, I have no direct financial interest exposing the law school scam (aside from the tax money that law schools steal from all of us). But I simply cannot understand your making every effort to excuse and justify what the law schools are doing, and blaming no one but law students and grads. It’s a corrupt system, and everyone involved is to blame. When this bubble bursts – which it will soon – do you really want to be on permanent record as a law school apologist and anti-scam celebrity?

              • Brendan

                So let me get this straight, Jack. You think my hostility toward the practical value of a law degee is borne of a “confirmation bias”, or in other words that I want to blame the degree instead of myself. I can turn that right around on you. You were successful after getting your law degree so instead of wanting to admit that times have changed (and that’s why new grads can’t find perm jobs), you have a confirmation bias toward believing there’s something more special about yourself and that’s why you succeeded where we failed. (Regardless of what the facts actually are here, your argument is less than convincing and equally damaging to your own position.)

                Second, the example you give is completely unreliable because it was YOUR theater company. You’re going to prove your point by showing that one employer (YOU) prefers lawyers over others? On one hand, I’m glad somebody’s hiring lawyers, but speaking of a confirmation bias…

                Third, I think it’s completely absurd to believe that a law degree has more than a tenuous relevance to theater. It’s stretching the available facts way past my suspension of disbelief, and while stretching available facts way past a jury’s suspension of disbelief may in fact be the job of a lawyer… it doesn’t change the very REAL fact that theater and the law are related by the most tenuous of strings. In fact, the only real connection is public speaking and the fact that many theater majors end up going to law school because they don’t know what else to do with themselves.

                In fact, I could go further and argue lawyers as a group would be WORSE at some jobs than others who didn’t have a law degree. Lawyers are trained to analyze problems, pick them to death, and inhabit both sides of an argument. That leads to a more careful, reasoned, and slower decision-making process. It might also lead to a constant flip-flopping between positions as you internally debate the merits of the different sides. Thus, lawyers would probably make very poor infantry officers. In fact, I have a friend in the special forces who DESPISES having legal officers around him in the field because they cannot make combat decisions in a hurry and few of them ever develop a combat instinct. He tells me horror stories of having his men pinned down under fire while a lawyer in the field hems and haws about whether or not they can take action and how much action is legal. Research shows that too much analysis inhibits decision-making and can even cause us to make poorer decisions when we stop trusting our instincts. It’s not just possible, it’s very LIKELY that lawyers are worse than normal people at some jobs. And I haven’t even touched on the fact that most people who go to law school are high-maintenance, ambitious, and egotistical compared to the average human being. Any one of those three characterstics might be enough for an employer to say to himself, “Yeah, the last thing I need is some over-entitled law grad with no practical experience who thinks he’s a genius.”

                So your theory that a law degree is this unequivocal good that would make everyone better at every job… not in the least. That’s your confirmation bias speaking.

                • Brendan, your argument proves my point. You doom yourself, because you don’t understand your own degree. The failure to comprehend that the law degree is versatile isn’t new—I faced it in law school, when everyone, profs and fellow students alike, told me that it was either make law review or face unemployment. Good non-lawyer jobs were and are out there if a lawyer is open to them and seeks them out. The difference now is that there is less hiring in all fields and more lawyers, as well as more lawyers who don’t have the flexibility to accept jobs, like public defender jobs, that won’t pay off the mega-loans some students took on.

                  “Third, I think it’s completely absurd to believe that a law degree has more than a tenuous relevance to theater. It’s stretching the available facts way past my suspension of disbelief, and while stretching available facts way past a jury’s suspension of disbelief may in fact be the job of a lawyer… it doesn’t change the very REAL fact that theater and the law are related by the most tenuous of strings. In fact, the only real connection is public speaking and the fact that many theater majors end up going to law school because they don’t know what else to do with themselves.”

                  Well, you know about as much about theater as you do about legal jobs. Not only is law relevant to to theater, but theater is relevant to law. Most of my management jobs, as well as my first job out of law school and my entry into the legal ethics profession were directly related to my theatrical experience.

                  I can’t say whether your particular embrace of the “blame the law schools” rationalization is confirmation bias, or if you’ve just been convinced by colleagues searching for an explanation for their own plights that requires no acknowledgment of personal responsibility. Law degrees haven’t changed, and knowledge of the law and training in analytical thought are as useful as ever. Are they as lucrative as ever? I don’t know—I didn’t go into law to make money. Professions aren’t supposed to be about making money. So anyone who 1) got a law degree to make big bucks 2) assumed that there is any such thing as a guarantee that a credential, rather than demonstrable qualities of skill and character, will get a high-paying job 3)trapped themselves with a loan they could only pay of if they got said job and 4) never explored other avenues of challenging employment other than law set themselves up for failure with a series of poor decisions that should have been recognized as flawed when they were made.

                  • “Most of my management jobs, as well as my first job out of law school and my entry into the legal ethics profession were directly related to my theatrical experience.”

                    And not your law degree? I found success by explaining away my law degree and relying on other, relevant and useful experiences.

                    Where does your “blame the law grads” come from? It seems like pure confirmation bias. I’d like to put blame on everyone involved, not just one group.

                    • AND my law degree. My God, if this thread is indicative of recent law grads’ understanding of networking, no wonder they can’t find work.

                    • Jason

                      I have no idea what any of this has to do with networking, but I can tell you that law students and grads know a lot about it, as law schools love to ramble on about the magical tactic of networking one’s self into a non-existent legal job.

                      And you still didn’t answer my question in my last post – why blame only the law students and grads?

      • Barry

        “I agree that hanging out a shingle is not for everybody. Not for everybody, however, is not the same as “no prospects, none.” Picking beans and carrying trash away isn’t for everybody either, but if someone can’t find anything to do and those things are available, don’t tell me there is nothing to do. (I mean the universal you, and the other posters here, not you.)”

        The point that many people are making is that such a choice is not worth what law schools charge.

  15. I have roasted Nando before, and today I want to say, I roasted the man that roasted you at: http://gotolawschool.blogspot.com/2012/11/jack-marshal-fair-analysis.html

    Like the Occupytards you mentioned above, the scambloggers, Nando et. al. have whined, complained, and FAILED for YEARS. They think that slamming those who disagree with poo pictures will make them right.

    I am glad that people out there are still willing to fight back against these disenfranchised children. There is no reason why anyone contemplating law school should listen to these kids. There is no reason that a person who is willing to do what it takes to succeed should think that these blogs hold any muster.

    Further, these scambloggers would have a hard time with any major they chose. Many are depressed, half-suicidal, or self defeating individuals (namely JDPainter, “A terrified law student”, Nando, “Esq. Never”, “Lawyer to Temp”, and the rest).

    Keep fighting the good fight. The scamblogs will fall FAR before any law school goes under due to their efforts. We’re winning the war folks!

    P.S. their fear of boomers is really cute. And sad.

    • If anyone can read Mr.Infinty’s blog and discern whether he really means what he says or is engaged in one of the most excessive tongue in cheek exercises in history, please let me know. I tried, and I have no idea. My guess is that he is a scamblogger who sees himself as a budding Stephen Colbert. (He is wrong.)

      Sarcastic, vague and laughing alone at your own “cleverness” is no way to go through life, son.

      • Jason

        Unfortunately, Mr. Infinity appears to be both serious and clinically obsessed (and, really, I’m not joking here). There is no bigger pro-law school troll than Mr. Infinity. Well, other than that great philosopher BriAnon, anyway.

  16. Alice

    It speaks volumes that so many comments here revolve around whether this guy graduated law school or not. Essentially, it is impossible for people to believe that a law grad could be unemployed, with no prospects in sight, impoverished, disheartened, bitter, etc. But it is true — he has a law degree, as do I. Due to the lack of job prospects, I became a solo practitioner but I am living below the poverty level, attempting support a family of 3. As far as the degree being versatile, I personally have found that having a law degree has been a tremendous hindrance to getting employment in other fields —
    employers don’t seem to be comfortable hiring someone with a law degree for a job that does not require one. It’s a shame really, because most of us, including I’m sure the young man who participated in OWS, have so much to offer, alot of character, and a profound desire to contribute to society.

    • The post was about why an unemployed lawyer thought it was fruitful and a good use of his time to stand in a park holding a sign when he needed to be looking for a job and that such a law grad, with such limited initiative and creativity, perhaps should consider other explanations for his unemployment rather than the inadequacies of his degree.

      Which is true.

      • Jason

        Not really. I still see no evidence (from this picture, anyway – and all personal predispositions aside) that this unemployed attorney spent his or her time standing in a park and holding this sign rather than spending that time looking for a non-existent lawyer job. Signs are easy to make. Pictures are easy to take. And this is the kind of message that needs to be heard. In this particular case the message is, fortunately, receiving serious response.

        Anyway, I again apologize for my late comment. I get still get random email updates for this thread. Though I do (and honestly, I really do) want to commend you for your recent coverage of the “Law School Marketing and Legal Ethics” essay. Word is finally starting to go mainstream about what is really going on with these federal student loan-sucking cockroaches and all they have done to utterly destroy the legal profession and, in their wake, young lawyers. I pray that history never forgets their actions.

  17. Barry

    First, this was a sign, not a formal document. I’d love to browse your e-mails, and run them through a grammar/spell check.

    “It is true that many law schools have been exposed lately for inflating their employment statistics. The American Bar Association announced last month that it was drafting a rule including sanctions for law schools that intentionally falsify jobs data, possibly including monetary fines or the loss of accreditation. That is as it should be.”

    If I were writing in an ethics publication, the fact that the overwhelming majority of law schools were being unethical or downright fraudulent in their claims should be shocking. The fact that the ABA is *finally* going to maybe do something sorta about it is not reassuring.

    “Nonetheless, I am dubious about the sign’s 99.9% claim, especially in the absence of a named institution. Promising 100% employment to any group seems excessive, and a person of normal intelligence would, or certainly should be skeptical. Thus, after only the first line, I am dubious about the candor and/or judgment of the sign-holder.”

    In other words, it’s the law students’ fault for believing what the law schools put in writing. BTW, perhaps you should get a thesaurus, and find a synonym for ‘dubious’. Although you do work that word very hard, which must save a lot of hand-waving. Carpal tunnel syndrome is to be avoided.

    “I am also dubious about his account of his conversation with the Dean. Do you know what the unemployment rate was for lawyers in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Labor?

    1.5%, and that’s a big increase from 2007, when it was under 1%. What law school is this where 30% or more of the graduates are unemployed? If true, it has to be one spectacularly crummy institution. Again, I am dubious.”

    If you don’t get a law job (and ~50% of grads don’t, as of 9 months after graduation), you are not an unemployed lawyer, because you never worked as a lawyer. If you lose a law job, and take a job doing *anything*, because you don’t like living in the streets, you are neither unemployed nor a lawyer. If you lose that job and are unemployed, you are not an unemployed *lawyer*, because you were working in another field.

    Perhaps before being ‘dubious’, you should find out what’s what.

    “But I am especially dubious about anyone with a law degree who isn’t a drooling idiot and yet says he has “no job prospects.

    Impossible. A law degree is the most versatile and useful degree there is. It is just as useful for getting management jobs in business and politics as it is in law. “

    And I am dubious of your claim, because nobody has ever posted proof of this ‘versatile’ claim; the best that I’ve seen is people pointing out that some people with JD’s (out of millions) have succeeded in various field. As for getting management jobs, check out management, and there are far more degrees in engineering and business than in law.

    “It is considered a credential for consulting, negotiation, public speaking, and lobbying.”

    ‘Credential’? That and $5.00 will get a venti mocha latte at Starbucks.

    “I once was hired to run a health care organization that required a medical degree: they couldn’t find a doctor they liked, so the Chairman of the Board said, “Eh, a law degree’s just as good,” and hired me. No prospects? None? What’s wrong with this guy?””

    That’s really, really bad. Please post that name of the company. And your name. And then consider that anecdotes are not evidence. Heck, I know a dropout who started a computer company, and became a multi-billionaire. Have you encouraged your kids to drop out of college yet?

    “His insistence on only legal fields is one mistake, a common and stupid one encouraged by the law schools themselves. “

    He doesn’t say that he was only considering that; perhaps you should have actually, you know, *read* his sign, before being so ‘dubious’.

    “There’s nothing inherently wonderful about working as a lawyer, and many terrific jobs in other areas regard lawyers as ideal candidates. My law degree was critical in getting me a job running a public policy research foundation, a position as a fundraiser for a university, a job as head of a marketing operation. My legal background came in handy in all of them, too.”

    Again, no proof. And I refer you to Mr. Multibillionaire Dropout above.
    And you got those jobs how many months out of law school?

    “Law school, like college and other graduate schools, costs too much, but as with a medical education, there is no excuse for not being able to find some employment with one. “

    The difference is that with a medical degree, you do get a job – as a doctor. ‘Costs too much’ is not a triviality to be dismiss with a hand-wave; somebody who’s paying $1,000-$2,000 per month in student loans either gets a job which can pay for that, or is financially screwed for the rest of their life.

    “And unlike college, the tuition is still a good investment, since the majority of lawyers make at least six-figure salaries. “

    Many lawyers are working at far under six figures, and that’s to support a business as well. And, as I’ve pointed out, ‘a majority of lawyers’ counts only those who are still in the field, after a couple of decades. You might as well be talking only about the Victors in the Hunger Games, while ignoring the massive pile of Tribute corpses.

    “Every day this lawyer is outside beating bongos or chanting “hey, hey, ABA…” or whatever magic mantra he’s repeating out there is a day he could be finding a job rather than complaining. I believe we have some clues as to why this individual is unemployed, and it isn’t Wall Street’s fault.”

    You have no idea of how hard this guy is looking for a job. As you’ve not quite realized, that sign was a five minute job; it’s not like he spent a month writing it in ornate script.

    “And there is one more thing to consider. Nothing, presumably, is stopping a healthy young man who actually learned anything at law school from doing what young lawyers from Abraham Lincoln to Clarence Darrow to my father did and still do: hang out a shingle and start a solo practice, at least until another job materializes.”

    Law firms are shedding partners to an unprecedented level; a newbie is going to fail quite quickly.

    “ There are indigent defendants that need representation; “

    And many experienced lawyers chasing those clients, at horrible rates.

    “there are non-profits that need affordable legal work. He could be doing some good for the other “99%,’ and starting to pay of that loan in the process.”

    Those non-profits need to have money, and again, there are hordes of experienced lawyers chasing those, in desperation.

    • Just saying this stuff over and over doesn’t make it true, and the point of the post remains: holding a sign and complaining is no way to find a job. It’s a great way to prove you don’t deserve one.

      • Barry

        Then why are you saying it? You’re repeated the same stuff about unemployment rates, versatility, etc. again and again and again.

        • I repeat it because it is true, and those building this silly narrative about a conspiracy deny it with absurd and disingenuous claims. Last May, I was in room of 60 lawyers spanning 40 law school classes, and inquired of each how many chose their law school because of the employment statistics. The result: ZERO. Zero. Just as nobody chooses to buy cereal because the ads say it’s yummy.

          • Jason

            I know this isn’t my argument, but this point needs to be addressed.

            Putting aside whether anyone is going to admit to a room full of their peers that they chose their law school based on its salary statistics, I don’t believe that prospective students pick a school based on salary stats. That is, very few are thinking “I’ll go to Wisconsin rather than Marquette because its average starting salary is 10K/year higher.” The issue is that these scum law schools, across the board, were (and still are) lying about their salary stats. This led the lemmings to think “Well, I guess borrowing $200K isn’t a big deal since I can find a decent employment afterwards.” Meanwhile the ABA, which is supposed to be regulating the entry of adequately-trained professionals into a monopolized profession, sat around watching law schools operate as profit-mills, duping lemmings into “paying” exorbitant tuition on the taxpayers’ dime and then dumping these “professionals” out into the marketplace. And these lemmings are supposedly fit to represent the legal interests of others?

            Though I would also add that, even just a few years ago, prior to the transparency/scamblog movement, this information really wasn’t available. Being forced to publish slightly more honest salary stats has essentially driven law schools into crisis mode (no silly narrative there). I can’t even imagine what would happen if they were 100% honest (and heaven forbid the ABA do its job and require such a thing).

            • Putting aside whether anyone is going to admit to a room full of their peers that they chose their law school based on its salary statistics…

              Because it’s an admission of crassness and stupidity?

              I don’t believe that prospective students pick a school based on salary stats. That is, very few are thinking “I’ll go to Wisconsin rather than Marquette because its average starting salary is 10K/year higher.”

              Exactly. Which removes the law school stats from the realm of causation and places them into the realm or “convenient excuses.”

              The issue is that these scum law schools, across the board, were (and still are) lying about their salary stats.

              That’s NOT the issue, though. The issue is that students were scammed by that puffery. If they didn’t act on it, then they weren’t scammed.

              This led the lemmings to think “Well, I guess borrowing $200K isn’t a big deal since I can find a decent employment afterwards.”

              Substitute “morons who had no business aspsiring to be lawyers in the first place” for “lemmings,’ and I might buy this.

              Meanwhile the ABA, which is supposed to be regulating the entry of adequately-trained professionals into a monopolized profession,

              The ABA has no such authority, moral or otherwise.

              “… sat around watching law schools operate as profit-mills, duping lemmings into “paying” exorbitant tuition on the taxpayers’ dime and then dumping these “professionals” out into the marketplace.”

              This is not the law schools’ fault. The student loan system guarantees inflation. The same thing is happening with college, and that scam IS one.

              Being forced to publish slightly more honest salary stats has essentially driven law schools into crisis mode (no silly narrative there).

              Come on–be serious. The crisis is that there are not enough legal jobs to justify the ridiculous tuition. Salary stats have nothing to do with it.

              I can’t even imagine what would happen if they were 100% honest (and heaven forbid the ABA do its job and require such a thing).

              They shouldn’t offer salary stats at all. Who cares? The fact that individual X gets Y salary with his law degree tells me exactly nothing about what I might get with the same degree. Nothing. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. Nothing.

              “And these lemmings are supposedly fit to represent the legal interests of others?”

              No, they are not fit..and THAT is why they aren’t getting hired.

              Though I would also add that, even just a few years ago, prior to the transparency/scamblog movement, this information really wasn’t available.

              Again, who needs it? I never asked for it. Nobody ever suggested that I look for it. I wanted to get into a good school. Period. That’s all anyone should be concerned with.

              • Jason

                Crassness and stupidity, or whatever it is, my point is that you’re probably not going to get anyone to answer “yes” to that question even if that is in fact how they made their decision. But the fact that law school stats were not being used by applicants one way (e.g. picking a school based on which had higher salary stats) does not mean they weren’t being relied and acted upon (and therefore this is all just “convenient excuses”; I’m really not sure how this excuse would be “convenient” anyway as grads still have to pay on their loans). Law school applicants could still rely on fabricated employment data, and then choose to make an investment based on this fabricated data, even if they weren’t expressly selecting schools based on which had higher salary stats. For example, if two schools are offering a JD at $200K total cost, and one school advertises a placement rate of 90% and an average starting salary of $125K, while another school advertises a placement rate of 85% and an average starting salary of $115K, but the latter promises a specialization in bankruptcy law that the applicant wants, the fact that an applicant chooses the latter school does not “remove the law school stats from the realm of causation….” Both schools were still fabricating their stats, and it’s entirely feasible the applicant would not have borrowed $200K to purchase a degree from either school had they known that placement for both schools was actually 40% with an average starting salary of $35K.

                Believe me, I think that people going to law school these days are morons; not just because all of the information available, but also because this antiquated and inefficient “profession” is in shambles. That said, the ABA regulates legal education as part of its stated mission to improve both legal education and the legal “profession.” The ABA had power to stop this mess, as they’ve demonstrated recently with their tighter restrictions on law schools and their employment stats (which, again, severely affected application numbers). But the ABA previously did nothing. As for the law schools, it’s not their fault that they have taken advantage of a bogus student loan system? How can it be a scam when colleges do it (which, I agree, it is) but then when it comes to law school, there is no scam and the law schools aren’t at fault? That simply doesn’t make any sense, and I’m being very serious.

                Salary stats are a combination of average starting salary and the percentage of graduates employed legal positions. Both were manipulated by law schools. The crisis facing law grads (no jobs) is tied to but still different from the enrollment crisis that law schools are now facing. Once the (somewhat) actual number of legal jobs landed by grads was made available to law applicants, along with (somewhat) actual average starting salary figures, applicant numbers started to drop significantly. The legal academy now holds meetings and conferences in which they discuss this crisis.

                I agree that law schools probably shouldn’t be offering out salary stats, advertising them, etc. On the other hand I think it’s responsible for them to have this information available to anyone looking to make an investment in their school that is interested in these stats. When you make a significant investment, it’s a good idea to know what your LIKELY outcome is going to be. Of course the outcome is going to be different for everyone, but that’s always the case. If I’m going to invest in a franchise, for example, I want to know what sales figures are like for others who have made a similar investment. Sure, these figures are not going to be 100% predictive of my particular outcome, but they’ll give me an idea of what I’m looking at. And if they’re completely fabricated, I’m going to be irate. I’d be especially pissed if the company then tried to pull some “yeah maybe the data was fabricated but the outcome is always going to be different for each person” nonsense excuse.

                Finally, I’m pretty sure that law school tuition was nothing like what it is today when you were trying to attend the best school possible. Today, I would say borrowing $200K of someone else’s money to go to the best school possible, without considering one’s ability to pay that money back, is ethically irresponsible. Applicants should also consider whether it makes more sense to take a scholarship at a lesser school and borrow less or no money in the first place. I’m doing fine career-wise, but I still wish that I had taken a scholarship at a less prestigious school rather than attending the school that I did.

                Anyway, what jobs are there that the lemmings are not getting hired for because they’re not fit? Are there a bunch of firms and companies that are desperately seeking new JDs, but can’t find “fit” candidates to fill these positions? I’m rather sure that there just aren’t a lot of jobs in law. What a joke of a “profession.”

  18. Barry

    I’ll check back, and see if you’ve actually posted this. My guess is not.

    • My guess is that you are a troll and a jackass. Read the Comments policy: anything there about not posting combative comments? I view this as a smear on my integrity without justification. Keep it up, and you will have proven yourself correct. I won’t tolerate that for long.

      • Barry

        I do apologize; you’ve got more honesty in that respect than I had thought. I had posted before reading the comments, and didn’t realize that you would actually allow debate.

      • Jason

        I wouldn’t take too much offense at Barry’s comment. Those who take your position on this issue rarely allow for open discussion on their sites (e.g. Brian Leiter). It’s honest of you to do so.

        • It’s an ethics site. I state opinions and my analysis specifically to promote argument and collective enlightenment. My greatest fear is ending up with readers who only agree with me. That is not, and has never been, the purpose of the blog. I’m wrong sometimes, a lot in fact. I’m here to learn too.

          • Jason

            Sure, for example on this issue I think you’re completely wrong. But I admire you for being one of the very few people on your “side” (for lack of a better term) that is actually willing to engage in this debate. This isn’t common.

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