Sunday, October 25, 2009

I Speak Loudly, on Purpose.

Today, I took the train to meet a few friends for dinner.  On the way, a young kid was asking me directions and he was obviously not from around here.  He said he was in college and visiting his sister.  He asked me what I did.  I said, "laid off lawyer."

He was taken aback.  Just like everyone I tell my situation to, he was shocked to hear the three words in one sentence.  Lawyers are all doing great, right?  He asked me what I majored in, and I had this sick feeling he was sizing up his ability to become a laid off lawyer one day. I told him I was a poli-sci major.  He asked if that was a good major to go to law school with?  I said, "You're not considering going, are you? It's the biggest mistake of my life."

"Really?" he said.

"Mmmm.. yah. I'm nearly ten years out and I'm out of work.  What do you think?"

At this point, the train was really crowded.  So, I upped my volume so that I can spread the message far and wide.  

"You have to go to a top 15 law school and you have to be in the top 10% of your class to score one of those amazing jobs you hear about."

"Oh, so I have to study my ass off."

"NO.  Don't you get it?  Everyone who goes to law school at the top 15 schools and maybe even the top 100 schools were straight-A students in college or very near that.  Your entire class will be brilliant.  Even if you study your ass off, you may not be among the smartest of your smart class.  And even if you fully grasp the material, you are graded on a curve.  So if you get everything right, but it's less right then the rest of your class, you will get an 'F' and you will fail the class."

I was screaming at this point.  Partially because the train was packed and loud. I also peered around hoping that I got someone else's ear.  

"What firm were you with?" I could tell he thought I may have been a loser attorney.

"I was with one of the top 10 firms in the country.  Pull out your apple phone and look it up."  

Then I got to my stop.

I left him by saying... 

"Please listen to what I say and remember that I told you it's a horrible profession to spend money on.  Go for free or don't go.  And if you ignore what I'm telling you, you will remember me the rest of your life because you will be unhappy with your decision and you will wish you listened to my advice."

I hope I haunt that kid.  

Happy Halloween.


  1. If this author is struggling, what makes the other lemmings think they can do better?

    Angel, you should expand into the vlogosphere! But you'd be revealing your identity...

  2. Angel, thank you for doing this. All of us need to be a little more bold. In the last month or so, I have directly told no less than ten people that law school is a terrible gamble. And I have backed up my side with the facts.

    My friend teaches English in Korea - he really wants to go to law school. I told him my experience in detail. I hope it did some good. Of all things, he wants to go to school in NYC.

  3. I think that I saw in one of your earlier posts that you went to a Tier 1 school. At Skadden, were you an associate on partnership track or a staff attorney? I was laid off from Biglaw in the last big purge in 1991. It took me 8 years before I got into a large law firm again, and then I made partner. Now I am in-house.

  4. Another good one for you.;_ylt=AlkTCGCQRwX9qVGMCxazYEbpy6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20091025224001AAsmRAr

  5. I wasn't at Skaaden. Or maybe I was. Nice guess though. I can't really say much more about that because I don't want to reveal my identity.

  6. I went to a top five, and it's been a cage match every day for a quarter-century just to survive. That's what I tell everyone who tells me they're thinking about law school.

  7. Wow... Knute Rife. I had no idea. Seriously, if you think it was hard to survive... who has a chance?

  8. About as much chance as a GM line worker who's been outsourced, except for two things:

    1. The line worker's lobbying voice has been advocating against job loss. Our lobbying voice (ABA) is leading the charge on exporting legal work and relaxing UPL restrictions.
    2. The line worker's training and experience will not automatically disqualify him for every other job out there.

  9. Well said. We are the modern day switchboard operators (thanks for that article Nando).



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