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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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