Home / General / The speech they’ll never hear

The speech they’ll never hear



To the class of 2015, welcome.

At this point in the proceedings, tradition dictates that I spend some time elaborating just how amazing and talented each and every one of you truly is.

But I’m not going to that this year. And let me tell you why: If so many people hadn’t spent that last 20-odd years telling you just how talented and amazing you truly are, you might not be sitting here today. And just where are you today?

You’re sitting in the faux courtroom of the Titanic School of Law, preparing to spend the next three years sailing straight into the iceberg known as the American legal profession. OK, everyone in an odd-numbered seat, raise your hand. Thank you. None of you are going to get jobs as lawyers. Do you know why? Because you’re not going to hustle and network enough.

J/K LOL! That’s not why. The real reason is because there are only enough legal jobs (sort of) for half of you. So half of you aren’t getting a job as a lawyer. Hey I know people go to law school because they’re bad at math but that equation’s not too tough to figure out, am I right?

And you people in the even-numbered seats, don’t start fist-bumping each other just yet. You know what the jobs you’re going to get are going to pay? $40,000! Sounds impossible doesn’t it? You’re going to be real lawyers after all. But check it out: last year the median reported salary for people graduating outside the top dozen or so law schools was $55,000. And that’s a big exaggeration, because only 35% of the graduates of non-elite law schools had their salaries recorded. Guess which graduates were more likely to have their salaries recorded? You in the middle of the front row in the Princeton sweatshirt. That’s right – the ones with higher salaries. Well reasoned my fine young man: I do believe you’re already thinking like a lawyer!

So half of you aren’t going to be lawyers, and as an added extra bonus you’ll pick up a degree which makes it a lot harder to get non-legal jobs. Oh wait, what’s that you say? A law degree is “versatile?” You’re killing me Smalls. Let me clue you in on a little secret: non-lawyers hate hiring people with law degrees. It’s true! They think you’re going to run off to a high-paying legal job as soon as one opens up, or they think they’ve got something wrong with you because you’re not practicing law, or they think you’ll sue them, or they just generally hate lawyers.

Plus most of you – future lawyers and non-lawyers with law degrees alike, are going to have unbelievably massive debt when you graduate. I mean have you seen what we’re charging now to go here? Every year we jack up tuition far faster than inflation yet again and I tell myself, that’s it, we’ve gone too far this time, they’re going to stop coming – and every year here you are again!

Maybe you haven’t done the numbers. Allow me: You got a $30,000 “scholarship,” right? Oh man I love that one: Target should call their discount rack “the scholarship section.” So you’re going to pay $33,000 this year in tuition. Hold on tight to that scholarship, because we’re going to raise tuition on you $2000 each of the next two years. So that’s $105,000 right there. It’s nice that your parents are paying your rent and otherwise helping out with living expenses, but you’re still going to borrow another $500 a month or so over the next three years or so for books, car payments, cell phone bills, and so on. And don’t forget the bar review course (That’s where you learn all the stuff we didn’t really teach you).

So you’ll be lucky if you only take out $125,000 in loans. But wait, there’s more: You know what the balance on those loans will be when the first payment comes due? $147,000! Amazing isn’t it. The mean old federal government just got rid of the subsidized loans that pay your interest while you’re in school, so interest will be accruing the whole time you’re here. It’s like an astonishingly huge credit card bill on which you never make a payment. Plus this doesn’t include your other educational debt, which we don’t know and don’t want to know anything about.

So a very few years from now, with the exception of a handful of you who will be lucky enough to sign up to be helots for a giant law firm, plus a few others who come from rich and well connected families (actually there’s a lot of overlap in those two groups for deeply mysterious reasons we’ve never been able to understand), all of you will be either practicing law for peanuts, or not practicing law at all and trying to figure out how to remove the stigma of your law degree from what you will be thinking of as your permanent record, while struggling with veritable and growing mountain of high interest debt that you can’t get rid of – lawyers say “discharge” – in bankruptcy.

All of which raises an obvious question: Why would anybody sign up to do what you’re doing to yourselves? I don’t know and I don’t want to know — I’m actually being paid $300,000 per year to never ask that question to myself or anybody else. So forget everything I just said. You can be sure it’s something you’ll never hear a law school dean say again.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • timb

    Ha! The joke’s on you, Paul. I’m three years out of law school and I make 60K! But, you know, why firm pays my dues and cell phone bill…

    I guess the joke is still on me

    • EZ

      Timb, I guess you missed the part where the first sentence addressed the class graduating in 2015.

      With attention to detail like that, I can see why you became a lawyer.

      You’re 6 years ahead of the game and you’re 10% above average. Good for you. That doesn’t really cover inflation, but it’s better than most ’09 grads. I hope you’re not living in a large city, especially on one of the coasts, because that would probably end up putting you well below average for the region.

      BTW, I’d avoid posting your salary in public places. It doesn’t really help your assertion that your schooling was worth it when I can directly compare you to what people I know with liberal arts BAs are making. It’s not flattering. Also, you’ll run into trouble down the road if you make it a habit (assuming no one at your firm sees this and makes a connection).

      • Non-practicing

        Whoa, easy, EZ. Timb is being sarcastic and admitted the joke is still on him. Guess you missed that one.

        • Timb

          Thanks, I thought it was obvious, but with attention to detail like forgetting to say “dittoes, Paul,” I guess it was too hardto follow. Luckily for me I have no time to really address the gentleman, since I have to apply for my third consecutive forbearance on the loans I still can’t pay!

          Take that, Campos!

      • “With attention to detail like that…”

        Yeah! If Timb had only paid attention to detail, he might have have realized that the joke was on him!

        • wengler

          I didn’t get it, but I think I heard Mitt Romney laughing.

  • Davis X. Machina

    Ah, but the reserve army of the unemployed, to be a proper army, also needs its Judge Advocate General Corps and its Office of the General Counsel.

    • catclub

      I think the unemployed lawyers will find jobs defending other unemployed lawyers from bankruptcy proceedings. That, and filing class actions for fraud against law schools.

      Isn’t there a joke about: “… the cats eat the rats, and the rats eat the cats, and then you sell the fur for profit!”

  • The Audience

    No Paul, you just don’t understand. I’m different. I’m special. I’m going to work hard and rise to the top of my class. I’ll get into a top law firm and I’ll be making six figures in a few years cause this is America dammit, and hard work always pays off! Then I’ll vote Republican and strip all those loser unemployed lawyers of any benefits or possibility of debt relief because obviously they are lazy and untalented if they couldn’t even get a job that pays 40k a year! If they only worked harder they would succeed. Just look at me!

    • Anderson
    • Lee

      This states the problem very nicely. Another issue is that there are also lots of very intelligent people who aren’t really sure what they want to do. They know they want to be financially succesful and upper-middle class but lack a passion. However, they can’t see themselves going through life holding one white collar job after another. Nor do they see themselves as having the technical mindset necessary for architecture, engineering or something similar. Or the creativity necessary for the arts. A lot of these become lawyers because lawyers make money and its seen as easier than other possibilities.

      • Sherm

        Seriously, the last word I would use to describe the practice of law is “easy.” The pressures which lawyers face are unbelievable.

        • LeeEsq

          What I should have wrote is that law school and the practice of law in general is perceived as easier than architecture, engineering, or anything more technical by less technically-oritented people. As former law school student and lawyer, I know this is a joke and I’m in one of the more low-key/routinized areas of the law.

        • DivGuy

          Eh. Most lawyers, if they screw up, large corporations lose money. In general, the nurses of the world would say they can believe the pressure lawyers face.

          • Sherm

            I know a lot of nurses, and not one of them lays awake at night thinking about clients, cases, deadlines, escrow funds, business generating, payroll, etc.. Nor do any of them have clients which expect you to return calls and emails 24/7.

            And most lawyers don’t represent “large corporations.” They represent real people with small businesses. And when they screw up, there are major implications for those people and for the lawyers as well. Dissatisfied clients don’t pay their bills, and they don’t refer new business. But they can sue for malpractice, and they can file grievances with the disciplinary committee, which will take the most frivolous of complaints quite seriously. Lawyers face constant deadlines and demanding clients, and have to deal with an arbitrary court system comprised of judges who don’t take the time to read the evidence and learn the law, much less have the intelligence to understand it. Yeah, a real piece of cake.

            • RN

              Hah, no, they lie awake thinking about patients, not clients.

              Some are on call at night or actually working at night. And dealing with admin types who think saving $0.05 is worth more than stopping an infection in the bloodstream.

              Plenty of other high-stress jobs to go around.

              • Sherm

                No offense intended to the hard-working nurses.

        • Pseudonym

          Are the pressures lawyers face actually justified though? It’s a genuine real-world problem if your bridge collapses or your patient bleeds out, but having to work 16-hour days to meet your boss’s expectations sounds like it’s just a way of narrowing down the field.

          • Sherm

            Well, you have managed to describe the pressures faced by a first year associate at a big firm. But some lawyers manage to soldier on beyond one year, and the pressures they face change over time.

          • Sherm

            It’s a genuine real-world problem if your bridge collapses or your patient bleeds out

            Its also a genuine real-world problem if you represent the family of the patient who bleeded out, and that patient left behind a wife and three kids who are now depending upon you, their lawyer, to successfully prosecute a malpractice action so that they can maintain their quality of life.

            And those insurance layers you are going against are well-funded and have a team of medical experts guiding them through every step of the litigation and numerous associates and paralegals and investigators whose job it is to beat you in war of attrition. But don’t worry, you can hire your own medical experts and lay out 25k out of your own pocket and expend hundreds of hours of your time with the knowledge that you will only get your money back and will only be compensated for your time if you can convince a skeptical jury, which has been told over and over again about the evils of trial lawyers and how malpractice lawsuits are ruining the medical profession and the healthcare system, to award your client millions of dollars for the doctor’s malpractice. And you will not just need medical experts, but you will need to pay out thousands of dollars for an expert economist to testify about the damages suffered as a result of the decedent’s death. If you lose, you are out tens of thousands of dollars of your own cash and hundreds of hours of time, and the family is devastated. And if you lost because you screwed up on an evidentiary issue (and there will be many) or because some dumbass republican judge who always errs on the side of the defense precluded testimony or evidence that you needed, guess who the family is suing next. No pressure, right?

            • Katya

              Or your client may go to prison, or lose their home, or see their business go under. Or a criminal may go free, or a large corporation may get away with dumping toxic materials, etc. Most attorneys don’t represent the big corporations–big corporations hire big law firms. Most attorneys represent small businesses, or individuals.

    • Timb

      I JUST had this conversation with one of our paralegals. She had a great LSAT score, but her undergrad grades were so poor, the law school wanted her to take a remedial class prior to 1L classes. She did NOT listen, because she is a special snowflake

  • Fighting Words

    Hey, if the law school grads are REALLY lucky, then they can do what I did – an unpaid internship with some solo practitioner. You know, because new lawyers love the law so much, they can work for free!

  • Manju

    Campos is a law professor, right? He’s gotta have some major cahoonas on him. I guess this is what tenure is for, but still…there’s gotta be some repercussions.

    • Vance Maverick

      I was wondering less “How can Campos avoid being fired?” than “How can Campos not resign?” Maybe he posts about the virtues of legal education on some other site.

      • NonyNony

        Knowing that your field has a problem does not mean that you have to resign. In fact, if you care about your field and you want to reform it, the worst thing you could possibly do is resign and go do something else – that’s essentially “giving up”.

        Nothing that Campos writes has ever led me to believe that he advocates shutting down all the law schools and not creating a new lawyers for a while. There’s an oversupply of new grads but it’s not like 100% of the newly graduated are unemployed – there are still positions that need filled every year. Advocating that the system needs to be changed is not the same thing as advocating that the system needs to be blown up completely. He’s advocating for reform and for being honest with the incoming students. Just that last little bit alone might reduce the oversupply by a bit once people become aware that a law degree is not a fast track to guaranteed big money employment.

      • Anderson

        Yes, by all means, any law-school prof who might tell the students the truth should resign.

        Otherwise, students might someday encounter a professor who tells them something along the lines of the OP.

    • L2P

      You know what I hope?

      I hope that everybody who doubts some aspect of their field or profession just resigns instead of criticizing from the inside, where they can be advocates for change with both (a) knowledge and (b) the respect and authority inherent to being an insider.

      Because you know what’s never compelling? Calls for police reforms from active police officers. Calls for criminal justice reform from active prosecutors. Calls for health care reform from active doctors. And etc.

      But you know what always works? Whining by people that aren’t directly involved in the area.

      So yeah, Campos should resign. Like yesterday. Then, finally, those other law professors and deans will LISTEN TO HIM!111!!11!!!!

      • Vance Maverick

        Yes, that was clumsily written. I didn’t mean that he should resign, but that I literally wondered what aspect of law school it is that keeps him there.

        • The part about the $300K/year got past you?

          Seriously, if you want to teach law, law school is a great place to do it. Much more satisfying, and much better paid, than teaching in an undergraduate political science department or at a community college.

          If Paul’s quest succeeds, odds are his law school will do fine, and odds are his salary won’t be much affected. If he succeeds the most profound impact should be on the lower-tier schools, some of which are nothing more than diploma mills. Ridiculously expensive diploma mills, at that. Because if you halve the number of people who attend law school, if the remaining students have enough sense to be lawyers they’ll pick the schools ranked above the median.

          • Ruviana

            Now, I teach anthropology not law or political science but I really enjoyed my community college teaching. And I like teaching in an undergraduate institution. Pretty satisfying and probably fewer ruthless yet toadying students. Just sayin’.

          • Pseudonym

            Uh, I read that as part of his “law school dean” persona; I’m not sure it really applies to Paul Campos in person.

    • Cahoonas? Is that phonetic?

      I don’t want to credit Paul with false modesty, but I am skeptical that he would claim that his trousers are cut large enough to accommodate a pair of major kahunas.

  • Seitz

    Paul, I enjoy your work in this area, but where is the tipping point in terms of law school ranking? Presumably more than half of the graduates from Harvard will get jobs, and a good lot of them will get jobs that pay more than $40k. Presumably graduates from John Marshall Law School will not do quite so well.

    It seems like most of what I read from you here is laid out as fairly universal, meant to describe the average law graduate experience, but clearly there have to be some schools from which graduates do really well, and vice versa. Where do you suppose the line is? If I’m a prospective law student (too late for that in actuality), at what point does law school go from a wise decision to a poor one in terms of future employment prospects?

    • Paul Campos
      • Furious Jorge

        Minnesota 66.3%

        2/3 of a Top 20 law school’s graduating class has experienced “undesirable employment outcomes?” Jeeebus. I would hate to see that number for Cooley graduates.

        • (the other) Davis

          I’m not sure I fully agree with Paul’s characterization of “undesirable employment outcomes” as applied to students of elite schools in his paper. I just graduated from HLS, which supposedly has a 17.9% incidence of such outcomes in prior years. And in fact, I know quite a few people who ended up with these sorts of outcomes, so I don’t think the number is off based on my personal experience.

          Rather, I think the characterization is off. I know a number of people who have ended up in law-school funded positions, business and industry, and further graduate study rather than traditional legal jobs. For the business and industry types, it always seems to be a matter of choice — these are generally folks who learned they weren’t really into law during their three years, or who never really had law as a final career goal (one person I knew went to HLS apparently because of a number of rejections from HBS — and yes, I realize that makes no sense). The graduate school folks are either people who decide they don’t want to pursue law, or people who want to ripen themselves for legal academia. Finally, as far as law school funded positions go, the folks I’ve seen end up following that road are graduates who want to go into public interest rather than private firms. That job market always seems to be the toughest, so the school creates a number of positions that allow unemployed public interest students to continue following that path (rather than settling for the firm world).

          Ultimately, the problem with looking through elite schools through the same lens as the rest is that students at these schools can afford to be a lot pickier about their job prospects. I’d be willing to bet that 95% of all HLS grads could successfully land private firm jobs paying six figures, if that’s what they wanted. But (a) the school takes great pains to make public interest work a feasible option for students (largely through its low-income payment plan), and (b) a huge fraction of these students come from extremely comfortable backgrounds, and thus have the privilege of “following their hearts.”

          • L2P

            I think that’s a function of how crappy it is to be an attorney. 15 years ago, if you graduated from Harvard and wanted a job in the public interest, you got one. Same at UCLA. If you wanted to work at the ACLU or Bet Tzedek or Children of the Night or Sierra Club or whatever, a position was there for you. Not anymore.

            That’s a very, very bad sign no matter how you slice it. If a school like Harvard can’t get 20% of its class into something career-oriented, that’s a huge problem.

            • (the other) Davis

              That’s a very, very bad sign no matter how you slice it. If a school like Harvard can’t get 20% of its class into something career-oriented, that’s a huge problem.

              Agreed that it’s a bad sign that it’s difficult to land public interest jobs — that’s one of the consequences of having so many more experienced attorneys on the market looking for work (supposedly the ACLU won’t even hire students straight out of law school now). But Paul’s numbers cover a wide array of outcomes, not just this one; I’m guessing it’s more like 1-2% of people that HLS can’t get into “something career-oriented.”

            • Marek

              Try 30 years ago. I tried to get a public interest job out of HLS about 15 years ago, and there weren’t any. (This despite spending a good deal of time at law school doing legal aid/legal services work.) The people who got those jobs 30 years ago still had them.

              Fortunately, I got a good job (in a firm of fewer than 10 attorneys) doing work I believed in, though not for very much money. As much as a pain as the LIPP was in terms of paperwork and taxes, it did help me.

              • Marek

                I should say that I never, ever wanted to do BigLaw.

            • Lee

              I was relatively lucky. I went to an average law school and had decent grades. After law school I was unemployed for a year but managed to get a good paying job at an immigration firm. My hours are very reasonable for a lawyer.

  • Keaaukane

    Your words are too late. If the class of 2015 is getting the entrance address, it means their checks have already cleared. At that point you have to decide, cut my losses after 1 semester, or let it ride in hopes of a big payoff at the end.

    • Malaclypse
      • Keaaukane

        Alas, I’m no BradP, to argue economics with you. I’d prefer to discuss the role of walrus sex in public satiety

        • Malaclypse

          Well, who wouldn’t prefer that?

          • Manju

            Larry Craig

            • Keaaukane

              Walrus sex in a men’s room is just PERVERTED!

              • Manju

                Especially with an elephant in the room.

              • Hogan

                I agree. That’s what the Admirals Club lounge is for.

              • NonyNony

                unless the walrus has a wide stance. Then it’s just awkward.

              • Pseudonym

                How does that even work? Can anyone hear it when a walrus taps its flippers?

      • (the other) Davis

        The Sunk Cost Fallacy is literally one of the most important ideas I’ve learned in my life, as far as decision-making is concerned. It should really be taught in schools.

        • djangermous

          One of these days i’m gonna make a whole list of the things they should actually teach you in school at some point instead of the mostly useless shit that they do.

          Like marginal income taxes, holy shit an amazing number of adults don’t know how they work.

          • NonyNony

            Marginal income taxes are actually really easy to understand – if you want to understand them. But the thing is, IME people don’t want to know how they work. They’d rather believe that they’re not paying the full percentage of their income because they’ve wisely picked all of the right exemptions and credits than to understand that, no, your effective rate is not supposed to be the same thing as the marginal rate of the bracket you are in.

            • mark f

              My guess is (t.o.)d meant:

              “I just got a raise.”


              “Ya, except now I’m in a higher tax bracket. I’m really making less!”

              • Pseudonym

                Which actually happens sometimes when one accounts for stupidly-designed income thresholds for certain benefits. “I just got a raise, and now I don’t qualify for Medicaid…”

                • mark f

                  That’s true, and I’ve known people who try limit their hours worked for similar purposes, but I usually hear from people moving into the 28% bracket.

  • ironic irony

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, from someone who seriously wanted to go to law school. The more I think of it, the worse it seems.

    So I’ll just work on a Ph.D. (insert your gaffaws here).

    • MPAVictoria

      Well my masters did help me or my partner much. At the end of the day with myself employed at a job I don’t love and her still looking for anything in our field a year later you have to ask yourself what you did wrong.

    • Furious Jorge

      I’m here to tell you: don’t.

      The end result seems to be not much different from what Paul has described at length on this blog. The academic job market is freakishly tight, and there definitely exists a reluctance among employers to hire PhDs for positions that do not expressly require such a high level of education.

      This has been my own life for the past five years now. Going to graduate school (or, more specifically, continuing past the masters’ level) was, without question, the biggest mistake I ever made.

      • Anon
        • Furious Jorge

          No. You’re not.

      • GFW

        This depends on the field of the PhD. I did a PhD in physics, partly because I really liked learning physics, and partly because my undergrad profs were all “hey, you’re just like us; you should become one of us”. By my 3rd or 4th year I was less attracted to academic research and I could see that the academic job market was terrible. Luckily, this was the mid 90s and the business job market was booming. I joined a consulting firm and I generally love my work.

        I’m sure it’s a lot worse now than then, but there are still openings for technical PhDs in software, consulting, and similar “agile” professions. Similar to what Paul is saying about law school though, the PhD should be at a top 20(?) school (in the particular field). Luckily that’s where the scholarships tend to be (and don’t go without a free ride on tuition and some reasonable expectation of support via a TA or RA work – it might be poverty level, but at least you’re not digging a hole).

      • Linnaeus

        This has been my own life for the past five years now. Going to graduate school (or, more specifically, continuing past the masters’ level) was, without question, the biggest mistake I ever made.

        I often have the same feeling. But at other times, I try to think of what I would have done if I hadn’t gone for a Ph.D. And I don’t come up with any good answers to that question.

        • Lee

          This is the crux of the problem. There are lots of intelligent people in college who do not know what they want to do. They can’t see themselves as doctors, dentists, architects, or engineers, interior decorators or anything artistic or technical. At the same time, they don’t want to do white collar work in a corporation or teaching in an elementary, middle, or high school.

          As a result, they default to law or graduate studies. Some make it, most don’t.

    • Malaclypse

      Just look at the two hundred or so applicants for each tenure-track job, and ask yourself, “do I feel lucky?” I wasted 6 years, and quit when I realized that the Burger King across from my school was literally paying more than full-time adjuncting did.

    • Bill Murray

      My PhD worked out great, as it did for every American (both North and South) in my field that I know and went this route. well, there were a couple of guys hosed by their major professor who quit and I have subsequently lost track of so I guess every should be almost every. But then engineering fields are quite different in their outcomes.

      Even the master’s students have generally gained 10% extra to their initial pay and a faster rise to top positions in their company.

    • (the other) Davis

      Depends very heavily on what you want to do with your PhD. If your plan is to go into academia, don’t do it unless you have a backup plan. If you’re getting it in a field where industry is a real option, then it might make more sense. But being on the academic job market is one of the most soul-crushing experiences I’ve had in my life (three years adjuncting, one “real” job offer in the middle of nowhere). And this was in a STEM field.

      Ironically, the best thing my PhD did for me was to help me get into a top law school.

      • Murc


        I have a friend with a PHD in history. Not only that, he loves, loves loves LOVES, writing. He had articles and his name on the cover of a textbook while an undergrad. Busts his ass, too.

        He currently lives at home while teaching as an adjunct at Southwestern and a few other Texas unis.

        • Emma in Sydney

          My PhD in Cultural Studies currently holds up my extra monitor at my editing/tech writing job.

          It’s quite useful doing that.

          Sometimes the Dr in front of my name impresses a client, which is handy (Yes, using the Dr is customary here in Australia). Gets me medical appointments faster too, at least the first time.

  • MPAVictoria

    Well my masters did NOT help me

  • Manju

    Right under this post, there is an ad saying:

    John Galt?

    Atlas Shrugged Pt II
    In Theaters 10.12.12

    Paul Campos is John Galt?

    • Timb

      Robert Byrd is John Galt

  • KLG

    So, what should Professor Campos do with his life besides further saturate Colorado with unemployable lawyers?

    FJ is right, if you are thinking only about a job According to what I have read, a biologist with an MS makes 26% more than one with a BS. A PhD makes 29% more than a BS, but is much less employable in the non-academic market. The academic market is a complete crap shoot, as it has been since about 1973.

  • Teri

    What happened to the practice of “reading” the law with practicing lawyer? Or did the Bar Association get rid of that? Isn’t that how Lincoln became a lawyer.

    • Paul Campos

      This is still theoretically possible in a half dozens states, although a couple of them (New York and Maine) also require you to go to law school, for one and two years respectively.

      My understanding is that very few people attempt this.

      • Teri

        My 80 year old father had told me that two of his med school classmates had “read” law during their residency back in the 50’s. I know that the AMA got rid of the practice where someone could shadow a practicing physician to become a doctor.

      • Murc

        Honestly, if you can find a lawyer willing to do it with/for you, it seems like this would be PREFERABLE to law school.

        My understanding is that law school basically doesn’t prepare you at all for the actual practice of law at either the state or local level, even if you take a lot of courses that supposedly focus heavily on a specific field (contract law, probate law, etc.) Law school teaches you how to “think like a lawyer,” which is great and all but somewhat less useful than knowing the ins and outs of your market.

        So why not cut out the middleman and spend two or three years hanging out with a practicing lawyer? He gets an intern for free, basically, and you learn actual useful shit rather than spending an entire year practicing ConLaw arguments you will never use.

        • Sherm

          Correction — Law school purports to teach you “how to think like a lawyer.” But the ability to think like a lawyer is largely innate, and law school is a breeze for anyone with such ability and a waste of time and money for most who lack it. Those who discover that they fall within the latter category at the end of their first year would be wise to consider year one a sunken cost and to move on to something more suitable. Easier said than done, of course.

          • Pseudonym

            What does it mean to think like a lawyer, and how does one figure out whether one has this talent?

            • Sherm

              Excellent question. I’d say its really just the innate ability to spot legal and factual issues and potential legal problems when presented with real-life scenarios and to locate flaws in the arguments raised by others. These are things that you are graded on in in your first year of law school. The knowledge of the law is largely irrelevant. Anyone can learn the law. Applying the law to real-life situations and advocating on behalf of clients take unique skills, however.

            • Brautigan

              If you organize information inside your head hierarchically (like an outline), then chances are you do. Similar to engineers, etc. Incidentally, some of the best law students in my class had STEM backgrounds.

        • Timb

          Because law schools in most states captured the licensing process. In my State, one cannot sit for the Bar if one does not have a JD

          • Murc

            Which has always struck me as insane. The bar is a test designed to see if you’re competent to argue before… well, the bar. If you can pass it, you should be in.

            I hold a few professional licenses in my field of expertise (IT) and none of them required any sort of degree in Computer Science. My roomate is an architect, and he doesn’t have any post-secondary education whatsoever, but he passed the state licensing board and has all the relevant certificates.

    • JoyfulA

      Famous birther Orly Taitz is a California lawyer who never went to law school. She’s also a dentist.

      • Paul Campos

        She actually has a degree from an on-line law school (there are several in California).

  • Leeds man

    a handful of you who will be lucky enough to sign up to be helots for a giant law firm

    When is Krypteia Week? This is a trick question.

    • redrob64

      The first rule of Krypteia is that no one talks about Krypteia.

      • Bill Murray

        I thought it was no one spells Kryptia Crypteia Krypteia correctly

  • djangermous

    Dear Kids:

    Richers destroyed every reasonable pathway to success, ya’ll gonna to have to build something new (step 1. probably knife some money out of the hands of some old white man with a death grip on it).

    • Timb

      This is true. Because of the plethora of lawyers, the money is held at the top and the rest of them can scramble for the pennies

    • Curmudgeon


      The only advice anyone should be giving to today’s young adults is to either emigrate to an emerging market or take a long walk off the side of a bridge.

      The rich have taken your future and it’s not coming back.

      • Pseudonym

        Just how is it that per-capita incomes are higher than ever and yet it seems harder than ever to make a decent living?

        Asking for a friend.

        • Barry

          “Just how is it that per-capita incomes are higher than ever and yet it seems harder than ever to make a decent living?”

          Meditate on the word ‘average’.

          • Malaclypse

            So, Bill Gates walks into a bar…

  • Anon21

    Thank god for COAP…

  • Pseudonym

    As someone who is well versed in the use of the Socratic Method, and with a low BMI, I find law school to be a highly valuable choice for my career path.

  • brendon

    I guess I’m the exception that proves the rule — went to a top 30 law school, graduated in ’00, went right into a “real” legal job that I’ve held for 12 years now and really love. Of course, I went to law school with a very specific plan – to be a JAG. I had the advantage of being prior service and applying at a time with 20% or so of JAG applicants were hired. In other words, I started law school under circumstances such that I really did know that, given the advantages that came with being prior service, so long as I went to a good school and got good grades, I’d have a job. Today, the JAG Corps in the respective services hire something like 3% of applicants. So what I did then I actually could not do now. I loved law school and it really did prepare me well for the practice of law. I love being a lawyer. But the reality is that whenever anyone askes me about becoming a lawyer I tell them that’s its just a very, very bad idea. In the current environment, unless you happen to already be independantly wealthy, it just seems like you might as well borrow 200K and buy lottery tickets as borrow 200K to get a JD.

It is main inner container footer text