Saturday, February 20, 2010

Oh God, It's That Time...0L

I just say this over at Dennis'. Yep, it's time for the next crop of idiots to start looking at the different schools and weighing their options for law school.

I have a couple of things to add. And yeah, this is completely unsolicited advice. One is specifically for second career folks.

1. I don't care how smart you think you are and I don't care what you think about how you are going to do. Someone is in the top 10% and everyone else in the other 90%. Odds are not in your favor. Good luck.

2. Where you go is sort of important. But most of the people I know were hired not based on where they went to school. And before someone out there starts correcting me, I know people from a number of schools, including Texas, Harvard, and Stanford. And it's all anecdotal anyway. The only guarantee is a Supreme Court clerk. Sure, there are exceptions, but THEY are EXCEPTIONS.

3. As to #2, if you are going to a third or fourth tier, you are not likely to go into BigLaw. Yeah, it's stupid, but true. I have numerous contacts at 3rd and 4th tier students that graduated 2 years ago without a job. And they still don't have one.

4. The job market sucks. And I don't mean normal sucks, I mean top 10%, Law Review folks not getting jobs. And the worst part is that even with a summer position, it's no longer a guarantee for anything. I know too many people that did not get an offer because no summer clerk got an offer. Or because the firm knew it was only offering to a small percentage. Guess what you get to do for the third year? Yeah, sucks.

5. The pay is going down, not up. Yeah, you read that right. Many firms are freezing raises, eliminating paying for bar prep courses and other bar stuff, and lowering starting salary. Yeah, there are a couple of people that will get that crazy 160K. But even that might go away.

6. Stop listening to the idiots that say "A Law degree is highly marketable in other careers." Bullshit. Would you hire someone that could potentially leave once the legal job market got better? Or how about wondering if this person with the JD is going to actually have the skills you need? Or wondering if you will have to pay more? It's idiocy. Career services and others trot out a few examples of people that did something other than law. But I have worked before and know a number of second career folks and people outside of law. They all laugh at this. And if you add up all the debt, unless you have a great scholarship, whatever you are going to start at, money wise, is unlikely to give you much breathing room.

7. And that brings us to debt. It's a ton. And unless you are making over 70K (break even for the debt) when you graduate, it's simply not worth it. Especially with the attrition rate. You work for 5 years and then quit, then it's really not worth it.

8. Last, but not least, if you are second career and think anyone is going to give you credit for your previous career, forget it. If you have connections, great. But the actual work that you did does not equate well to law, I really don't care what it is. And for you scientists, yeah, Ph.D. is great, but not that great.

Bitter? Not really. I am only trying to say what no one told me before doing this. You are going to ignore it any way. God, you poor, poor souls.


Virgin In The Volcano said...

I agree. If I could do it all over again, I'd have gone to one of the second tier law schools that offered me a full or nearly full ride. I'd have gone somewhere close to the area I intended to practice in, and I'd have taken the idea of networking seriously. As it was, I moved across the country to a place I'd never stay in just so I could come out unemployed from a top 20 school. And I've got another graduate degree too, which is, as you say, not half as valuable as people like to pretend it is.

Oy vey.

Eliza said...

I would have done almost exactly what you are saying here. Especially the scholarship thing. I feel extremely foolish.

Dennis said...

Shoulda-coulda went for the scholarship at the 50 (yes that's right) 3-4th tier schools I applied to... all those fee waivers for nothing!

Although I had to go to UMN to know for sure that the grass wasn't greener.

Eliza said...

Yeah, Dennis, same here. I was so afraid to go to the 30th, 50th, 3-4 tier, etc. school because everyone said the same thing. And it was idiocy because where I am working now wouldn't even consider MN under normal circumstances. I am from employer city and know a lot of folks so they decided I would probably stay. It's like a crap shoot. Why don't they simply say "go to a top 100 school if you can, and if you get into Harvard, Yale, Berkeley or Stanford, go there."