This is why I disagree that going to a T8 school means you will be in good shape. Whoever came up with the motto “Yale or Fail” has the right idea. Going to a top school no longer ensures your professional and economic safety unless you graduate at the top of your class and have the connections to secure and keep your job long-term.
I will say that college and graduate schools are good places to weather the storm IF you get a full ride. I have friends in other countries that are doing this but the big difference is that they only pay $10k or less per year in tuition compared to $30-50k per school year in the United States. I absolutely do not advocate going to any law school right now if it means you have to risk $200k and a possibility of lifetime debt to get a law degree. If you search hard enough, once in a while you can find some truth in a few of the employment statistics for law school graduates. One example is The National Law Journal’s annual rankings based on the percentage of grads that landed first year BigLaw jobs:
Here are the Top 10 in the NLJ ranking followed by the percentage of grads who
landed first-year positions at the nation’s largest firms.
1. Northwestern University School of Law - 55.9 percent
2. Columbia Law School - 54.4 percent
3. Stanford Law School - 54.1 percent
4. University of Chicago Law School – 53.1 percent
5. University of Virginia School of Law – 52.8 percent
6. University of Michigan Law School – 51 percent
7. University of Pennsylvania Law School - 50.8 percent
8. New York University School of Law – 50.1 percent
9. UC Berkeley School of Law – 50 percent
10. Duke Law School - 49.8 percent
Only 55.9% BigLaw employment for the “top law school”. Think about that. Since schools rarely if ever publish honest statistics about their graduates, I can only go on anecdotal evidence from our readers and I believe that even the NLJ rankings can only be taken with a grain of salt. I have heard that only half of last year’s Columbia Law School class received job offers. We have read the articles about some Harvard Law graduates being unable to find employment. Last year’s Georgetown Law graduates went on NPR to discuss their unemployment woes. And no, the other 50% did not land government jobs. Give me a break. They are more than likely unemployed or working in jobs that paid less than what they could have made straight out of college. I know quite a few people who went to these "top BigLaw" law schools who are reading this from their parents' basement. Don't be arrogant to believe that you can beat the odds just because you got into a T14 school.
Let’s be clear. If you do not graduate in the top quarter of your T14 law school, do not count on any job be it BigLaw, ShitLaw, or with the government. Bottom half of the class? Forget about it. You future was doomed the moment you saw your first semester grades. That is the risk you take when you go to law school in 2010. You can go to a T8 school and come out with no job prospects. It is happening to thousands of students today. Even if you do find a job, who says that you will still be employed a year later? Plenty of my law school classmates were laid off from BigLaw less than 2 years after graduation. Most law students with less than 2 years of law firm experience are in big trouble in this economy. That is not significant experience to compete with folks like Angel who have a decade’s worth of experience. I know people from T8 schools who are unemployed and I know a few “lucky” T14 and T30 grads with jobs as staff attorneys, aka BigLaw doc review. This is the gamble you take when you go to law school today. Is it worth the misery and the stress and the horrible work life to spend $200k and 3 years of your life so you can put JD on your resume?
A BIDER reader emailed me about his cousin who is applying to law school. The BIDER reader thought of all the reasons he decided not to go to law school and all of the reasons not to go to law school that Angel and I have laid out here for the past year. He told his cousin that there were scambloggers from T14 schools who could not find a job. His cousin isn’t even applying to a top school and is applying on a whim after getting laid off from his job. Here is the kicker: this guy doesn’t even want to practice law! He says he wants to be a consultant for the pro sports industry and believes the JD will make him more marketable. No, this is not a joke!
This is why BIDER is so important. We may be unable to save everyone, but people are listening and I think those who do their research deserve to be warned. This BIDER reader was unable to save his cousin, but after a year of reading BIDER he now questions the reasons why people go to law school with no intention of practicing law or believe that if they don’t find a law firm job that they are marketable in other fields. This is the biggest lie of the law school scam. You will be less marketable than the entry level candidate right out of college. And if you are among the majority of law students with not so stellar grades, there is a good chance that employers who care about grades will ask for your transcripts from college and law school. That has happened to me before. That C+ in Contracts could come back to haunt you when you are competing for the handful of respectable jobs left in this economy. For the millionth time, do not gamble with your future at a time when so few opportunities exist for anyone let alone a law school graduate three years out of college with no real world experience or marketable skills, just $200k in debt and a transcript peppered with Bs and Cs. Your life will be ruined.