Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Law School is Most Definitely Losing its Mojo!

Wall Street Journal Blogs poses the question: Is Law School Losing its Mojo?  Hell, fucking yes it is.  Mizzou released news that it's applicant pool is down since last year, and down 12% nationwide.  So, these college kids are using their brains and getting a clue.  The WSJ blog ends with an appropriate question.  What else are kids to do?   After all, they can't find jobs.  So, why not go $100K+ debt and hide out from the recession for a few years, right?  Wrong.  Let's think of things that kids can do that are more productive than burying yourself under pile of debt:

  • Nothing.  Sometimes, inaction is better than action.  Especially when action results in negative net worth.
  • Volunteer.  It's an honorable thing to do and will be a better resume gap filler than the bullshit you make up to cover up the fact that you were in law school for 3 years, when you find yourself in the horrible position of having to drop the J.D. from your resume to find gainful employment.
  • Take an entry-level job anywhere.  You may think you're too good to be an administrative assistant, but you're not.  It's in your head.  The market says your college degree is worthless.  Nothing will make you shine more than competence.  Your degree is not enough, so prove yourself.  If you're really as smart as you think you are, you'll be running the place before long.
  • Explore your creative side.  If you are a writer, write.  If you're a painter, paint.  If you can build shit, do so.  This might be the only time in your life that you can focus on something that you enjoy.  I used to write poetry, and now I don't have time and I'm eternally uninspired because my life sucks.  Well, being a lawyer sucks.  Who knows?  You might end up the next Warhol or Edgar Allen Poe (hopefully you won't die a drunk in a gutter in Baltimore though).
  • Become an Entrepreneur.  All of the richest people in our country are Entrepreneurs.  You're young. You're on the pulse of technology and innovation.  If you have an idea, run with it.  Ask the rents and their friends for start up money and start something.  Even if you fall flat on your face, you'll likely owe less money to more sympathetic creditors.

I understand you'd rather be earning money.  But if you go to law school, you won't be making money. You will owe money.  Trust me, it's so much worse to owe than to be broke.  As an unemployed law school grad, you can look at a homeless person and say, "I can't give you a dollar because you're wealthy compared to me."  No money is greater than $100K of debt.
At the end of the day, you're not entitled to what our parents had.  Our society is falling apart.  Our grandparents had the benefit of jobs for life with benefits and pensions.  Our parents had the benefit of relatively steady employment and health insurance and maybe a 401K.  We have nothing.  No one is going to give you a fair wage and health insurance because you're smart or good looking.  So get over yourself.  Stop drinking Obama's Kool-Aid.  Education is not a panacea.  Make your way, by yourself.  It's scary, but I have faith in you.


  1. Excellent, hard-hitting post, Angel! Pretty funny, too.

    I have told college-educated kids to go to work - even if it is "beneath" them. Go to work at a damn call center. If you excel, you will not be on the phones for long. Even if you need to laugh at your boss's lame-ass jokes, and be friendly to your co-workers and supervisors, do it.

    If you can rebuild motors, remove trees, tattoo little angels of different sizes and colors on women's toes, cut hair, pierce people's nipples, sell vacuums, make sandwiches, wash carpet, lay tile, pound rebar, mend fences, mow lawns, etc. do it!! Will you be embarrassed at age 40, because you had to upgrade people's cell phones or give manicures when you were younger?!

    Don't fall into the "I will always wonder what would my life would have been like, had I gone to law school" trap, either. More likely than not, you will be BURIED in debt for the next 20-30 years, you will make a pathetic wage, and your family and friends will see you as a failure. In some cases, your wife will let Pedro pound her from behind - while you are trying to put food on the table.

  2. Nando-
    Dude, I've got a good thing going here! Don't ruin it for me.

  3. One thing I recommend for people just getting out of school is teaching English in South Korea. Seriously, just take a look:

    2.2 ~ 2.5 million SK Won per month plus living accommodations is a pretty nice gig for recent graduates. I did it after I got out of the Army (Also finished my BS when I was in too) and it was the best decision I ever made. I had really thought about Law School at the UofI ($33k/yr for in-state tuition!!!), but thankfully changed my mind. Instead, I was able to save $13,500 in Korea teaching English for two years. I was also able to travel to places like Fukuoka, Bali and Bangkok during my 2 years out east.

  4. "No one is going to give you a fair wage and health insurance because you're smart or good looking."

    Well, maybe if you're "good looking." I've observed many instances during law school and in firm life where the hottie with the big kahunas gets the job. I'm confident you've seen it too. Fact is, there are a lot of "horn dog" partners out there.

  5. "As always, though, the problem is the what-else question. Sure, law may be a rockier path these days, but what else is out there for smart, ambitious, probing, argumentative college grads?"

    Wha?? All the law school deans & profs whine about how 0Ls are morons for wanting to go to law schools for bad reasons or no reasons. And now the WSJ thinks that's okay?

    Angel, you nailed this one.

  6. Of course there are a lot of "horn dog" partners out there! Have you seen what 20 years of being a desk jockey with a drinking problem, cardiac problems and a snarky attitude does for the possiblities of sex with an angry ignored wife?

  7. "Take an entry-level job anywhere. You may think you're too good to be an administrative assistant, but you're not."

    Is this advice really any more useful than telling law school graduates "You may think you're too good to take less than $160k a year, but you're not. Go out and get one of those plentiful $50k per year jobs, or hang your own shingle!"

    I'm not sure the problem ITE is all the degreed applicants who think they are "too good" to take an administrative job or some other equivalent. No, education is not a panacea, but suggesting to students that they can volunteer or "create" their way into an income is just another form of Kool-Aid.

  8. "Fact is, there are a lot of "horn dog" partners out there."

    To be fair, that's not just law.

  9. 12:39. The time to take any job is before law school, not after. Before you owe $100K+ in student loans, taking a low paying job hurts your pride. However, taking a low paying job after you graduate, hurts your wallet. You may make enough to make payments on student loans and very little else. You're almost forced to rule out jobs that pay too little. So, it's much easier to take a job that you're too good for, before you go to law school. And it's much easier to make your own way, without debt service.

  10. Why to go, Angel. You just gave more practical advice than 10 bullshit online articles about career advice combined. For free.

    That's what I call a public service.

  11. But is Pedro keeping up his mojo when he is pounding biglaw partner T. Clayton Hamilton V's wife in the ass? That's important you know.

  12. Angel - I understand that you were advising students currently considering law school to seek admin jobs. My point is simply that those jobs aren't necessarily available for the taking either. One of the main reasons that college grads seek to "hide out" for three years in law school is that they can't find ANY gainful employment, and grad/prof school is a surefire way to put the loans on hold, borrow enough to live, and (in fantasyland) come out the other end with a job.

    You get no argument from me that being broke and unemployed with $30k in loans and a useless degree is better than being broke and unemployed with a $150k in loans and a useless degree. But most students are trying to escape broke and unemployed status, and just want some practical guidance on how to do it without going into insane debt and wasting time. It might be better to start a business and at worst come out the other side with loads of dischargable vs. non-dischargable debt, but the stats in terms of outcomes for entrepreneurs aren't much better than they are for law grads. Most of the richest people in this country are entrepreneurs (or heirs), but so are many of the people in bankruptcy court. Is there any practical guidance out there for young people who just want to work and make a living?

  13. Welcome to Egypt! Oops.. The U.S.A. Sometimes, there's nothing you can do. But don't make it worse!

  14. Angel,

    I discovered your blog a few days ago and it has been so cathartic for me. Like so many others, I graduated law school with a hefty debt and had no idea how I was going to pay it all back. After a few years struggling as an attorney, I decided to take a job overseas that was related to my undergraduate major. By doing this, I was able to avoid US taxes and have free housing, etc. I managed to pay off my debt in ten years and started saving after that. Now, I work for the federal government spending about half my time in other countries.

    The moral of the story is that you CAN recover from the mistake of going to law school. You just have to think outside the box and apply the same energy to your new career that you did in school. I have no regrets in leaving the legal profession and am pleased to see that others are doing the same.

    Thanks again for this site!

  15. Lol, when I pass by homeless people in NYC I think the same thing, I'd give you money but I'm 100k+ in debt, sorry.

  16. Agreed w/4:20. Not everyone comes from money or has people willing to invest in their business ideas. Not everyone even HAS business ideas. Some people HAVE to work & some HAVE to be selective.

    You also don't know the entertainment business. I do & it's EXTREMELY competitive. If you don't have the passion & talent for creative works, you'll just be wasting your time + feeling more miserable with all the rejections from agencies, publishers, casting offices, etc. Classes also cost money & most people don't have natural talent for things.

    Unless you are extremely dedicated, don't scare easily and can be a decent human being to others, you are not going to make it in the creative field. You have to be your own advocate & truly believe in yourself.

    My practical advice is to find something that makes you happy & that you'd want to do for the next 50 years so you will have a reason to live. If you can manage that, you'll be miles ahead of most people even if you're flat broke since you'll at least have that inner peace.

    I'd also make it a habit to meet & network with as many different people as possible. You never know who might do what or see some spark of potential in you; plus, this gives you life experience for writing.

    Plus, you could always become a criminal if all else failed. Jail might be better than homelessness.

  17. I don't know how it is everywhere, but it's been my experience that with b.s. jobs like administration, it's fairly easy to price yourself out of the market quickly.

    It's been my experience that people with crappy work histories or younger people have a much easier time sliding into those jobs. They'd much rather have someone who can perform their job with 50% competency rather than worry over what to do about a go-getter of an employee. Eventually, that person is going to want a raise or promotion. That causes a problem for them because they want someone who is only motivated enough to keep showing up day after day and is happy living in their little hovel.

    Not that it doesn't happen in the legal profession. Shit law is rife with also-rans, but at least those employers were smart enough to use those things like promotions and raises as weapons to trick their employees into producing while eventually pushing them out of the chute within the next couple of years when they become too expensive for them.

  18. Here is a clue 2:35. It is all shit law.

  19. I'm 53 high school educated and currently under employed. In my day we were told 'you can be anything' I hated the phrase, because if forgot to mention finances for school mental abilities, and the political arena of working.
    I didn't go into debt,OR go to college and chase my dream job as a film maker.Of coarse as the years passed I have felt like a loser for having made that decision.But now I have the confirmation my instinct was right-don't go to school IF YU FEEL UNSURE. Educ is what WE older generation R pushing onto R kids along with the live your passion bullshit Oprah Winfrey is very guilty of pushing this madness. Yes, it would be lovely to live an ideal life. But reality has to be faced. 4 your generation and younger they NEED to be told they may not get into their field of study. Ask is that ok with them to have 2 wait7 yrs 2 begin at the bottom after graduation.
    I feel deeply for the educated youth of today having to face so many closed doors.In my youth, I did unskilled labour and their were plenty of jobs. What the country needed was trades people and educated professionals.So that is my we pushed our kids into.
    No 1, told us the Government would open all the trade doors wide open in a gesture of a united world of goodwill. What happened? Every 1 got into the game, under cut the price of his neighbouring business.
    Today, the jobs I'am experience in are no longer here, I have to work cleaning houses to make 3/4's of what I did in a 8h factory job.
    Yes I am scared one day I will be fighting a 66 year old for the same stupid job and maybe her 'political' standing will push me out. What do I do then? I have you government pension to blanket my expenses - I'll have to chose to do something very ugly to survive. Use a man or go into an illegal enterprise.
    I know Angel, how it hurts to see only locked doors. I am bless not to have you'r debt, but I want to see you rise above this shit. You and your contemporaries deserve the same richness, the 1st baby boomers had given to them.
    Now in their era,(these are the folks seeking jobs in the 60's and 70's) jobs were plentiful. Boring perhaps -general labour jobs- but there was a chance to live the American dream -a house, a car, and a family living in relative comfort.
    Then the greed mentallity hit us in the early 90's and has f'ked up ev'ything. Bigger houses, bigger wages, prettier spouse, fat RSP's, vacation, designer clothes and expensive running shoes. Things we never needed before were what we thought were not only attainable but the measure of our success.
    THEN government's decided we are so wealthy we can afford to HAVE 'free trade' stop all the tarrifs and protectionism of US/Canadian jobs. It was a myth, the economy was not worth what our political leaders had valued it at.
    But no government has the balls to say, we are broke - we need to protect our assets (our country).
    I honestly believe we need to reintroduce tarrifs and protective legislation to keep both our nations viable at least until we get our of our debt situation.
    Me as a single ONE, knows when I have more debt than I can handle - I guestion can I work two jobs, I then stop all luxury expenses. What does big business and government do? They cut the cheapest costs in their budgets. They get rid of low level employees or programs were the reciepent has no voice.
    They still spend thousands on state dinners, travel, and grant lobbist a place in political decisions.
    We can't just let the lobbist run the nation. Look what they have done - they have given several thousand executive people enourmous wealth - while we the backbone of the nation beg for crumbs.

    Love you Angel



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