Is law school still attractive?

November 1, 2011
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Let’s face it – it’s not the best time to be coming out of law school. The students who just graduated got in just as the economy was beginning to take a nose dive, and those who are in school now have seen the prospect of getting a job after school decrease. Last year was the worst job market for law school graduates since the mid-1990s, according to the National Association for Law Placement.

This is reflected in a recent survey by law school admissions consulting firm Veritas Prep which found 68 percent of prospective law students said they’d still apply even though a lot of recent graduates haven’t been able to find jobs in their desired field. Just last year, 81 percent of those surveyed said they’d still go to law school.

The survey revealed that most were concerned with finding a job to help pay off the large amount of debt they’ll accumulate while in school. Student loans are a growing concern among prospective and current students because if you don’t have a job, you can’t pay it back. Who wants $70,000 or more of student debt (and that’s not even counting undergraduate loans) hanging over your head while unemployed?

In the Oct. 26 issue of Indiana Lawyer, reporter Jenny Montgomery talked to students around the state about how they feel regarding jobs and loans. Several of them are optimistic that they’ll be among the lucky ones to find a job after graduation.  Many are worried about how they’ll pay their massive amounts of debt.

“People are freaking out,” said Ellen Winterheimer, a 3L at Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis. “I think people are more concerned about paying off their loans, because at this point, we’re overqualified for certain jobs, but underqualified for a lot of legal jobs that are requiring three years of experience.”

Something else that jumped out to me in Montgomery’s story is one student said many lawyers tried to discourage her from attending law school. It reminded me of when I was deciding whether to major in journalism and several people in the profession semi-jokingly told me to look for another major. But I think they were serious.

Law students – if you could do it all over again, would you have still gone to law school? Would you have waited a few years to see if the economy rebounds? Practicing attorneys – what would you say to students who ask you if they should go to law school?
 

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  • Re law school
    Compared to my other profession - classical symphonic music - the law profession seems vigorous! I can't think of better, more flexible or adaptable training than we derive from a law degree. Perhaps one needs to examine the essential reason to go to law school (or medical school); making big money might not be the best initiator now! However, service still is important perhaps even more so in troubled times as these.
  • Not a Good Investment...
    And that's not just true for outgoing grads. I actually have right around 3 years of full-time experience, and it's been a long time since I was able to have full-time work. Based on job statistics, it's clear that a large number of law school grads will not be able to find work. Yet no one ever thinks they will be in that number. I know I never thought I would be. I went to a top national law school followed by a top national firm where I worked my tail off. I did everything I knew to do to earn job security. And yet here I am.
  • No way
    If you want to work hard, mess up your physical and emotional health, pile up on the debt, and find no decent job prospects upon graduation, and be treated like a leech, law school is for you. There already too many lawyers for fewer job openings. Financially, law school makes no sense. If you are going for the sakes of knowledge, by all means have a go at it, but just know that it's going to cost you a lot.

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  1. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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