Thursday, September 17, 2009

Law School: Don't do it!

So, I was stupid and uninformed and I went to law school.  But thank God, I wasn't the only idiot to make that mistake.  Some people think that God gives us all a mission in life. I definitely have one. I have a duty to tell all naive students not to go to Law School.

Let me break it down for you.  People think Lawyers make money. People hate lawyers, they respect Lawyers.  Whatever your feelings may be.. whether you think they are intellectuals, bloodsuckers, scam artists, ambulance chasers, or crooks....  you probably assume they make money.  WRONG!  My school, let's call it, Princeton School of Law, promised that the average salary of a lawyer graduating from law school was $70K.  That sounded like a lot of money to me at the time. I thought I could count on earning at least $70K.  That's not what happened.  What happens is that a shitload of people earn $40 or $50K, a few people earn (at the time I graduated), $125K and this somehow averages to $70K.  This was before "The Crash."  So things have only gotten worse.  Ha.  Lawyers graduating in May 2009 would be dancing for joy if they found a job earning $50K.  Let's downward modify that to $30K.  

And you can't even tell someone that your earning potential will grow.  If you're a first year associate today, earning $165K--your salary may have been cut down to $145K or $125K.  And you may never become partner.  Actually, you will never become Partner.  That's a myth. It's almost attainable in firms big and small.  So, you have no future in your big firm.  Eventually you're counseled to that effect and you're encouraged to move on.  What will you do?  Ideally, you will move to an in-house counsel job.  But you aren't that lucky.  

So, in all likelihood, you'll do something to give back to society.  I guess you've taken so much that you must be punished.  That's not true of course.  Earning a good living for less than a decade does not warrant punishment.   But you will be punished by earning $40K doing nonprofit work, or devoting yourself to civil service.  Either way, you're not earning a lot of money.  Oh yah, and you have $200K of debt that you PROBABLY didn't pay off because you thought you'd always be living on cloud 9 in big law.  So now you're fucked.  

The other scenario is that you weren't on moot court or law review and you're always trying to pursue to the allusive 6 figure salary.  And you can never save enough because you pitch over $1000 a month to those shitty loans that you pulled out to go to law school.

What should you have done?
You should have taken an entry level job at a company and worked your way up the corporate ladder.  By the time you're 25, when your dumb friends are graduating from law school, you are already earning over $60K without debt.  

It's all about net, not gross.  $60K-$200K law school loans equals not enough money.  $60K free and clear is ideal.  

This is the legal field's dirty little secret.  No one seems to know or consider this when they decide to take the $200K plunge for a law school education.  They just ASSume that this is the responsible thing to do when you graduated from college.  Law Schools aren't going to tell you this.  Because they can't be honest with you and still get you to fork over the money.  We are drowning in lawyers.  There are too many of us and there is certainly not enough money to make sure that we won't all go hungry.  But every day law schools open up and get accreditation from the ABA.  Every year, more and more people sit for the bar... thinking that the hard part is behind them.  It's in front of you folks!  Now that you're strapped with a law school loan that you can't get rid of in bankruptcy, how the hell will you live?

You can live in the hood like me.  I can very honestly say that I don't have more now than I did when I was in law school. I travelled more when I was in law school. I had a car when I was in law school. I had more clothes when I was in law school. I ate at nice restaurants.  Now, I live like a student.  I better get used to it because it's not getting better for people like me.

Maybe someday, Capitalism will do what it's supposed to do and law schools will close for failure to produce happy graduates.  I can only pray.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting summation. Our Dean of Student Affairs warned us on our first day: "Live like a lawyer as a law student and you'll live like a law student as a lawyer."



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