Before You Go to Law School Research the Ugly Truth about the Legal Profession

Going to Law School may be Financially
and Vocationally Disastrous.

Think very, very carefully before going to law school and perhaps ruining your life, permanently.  The law schools have been flooding the market with a large oversupply of attorneys for decades.  This has been a problem for a long time, not just in the current recession.  The legal job market is horrible right now and it was only a little less awful earlier in the decade and in the 1990's.  Consequently, the happy-talk about how the legal job market will improve significantly after the recession ends is bogus and intended to fool you.  A huge amount of JDs, perhaps as much as 50%, never find work as attorneys, and many who do find work don't earn enough to make having gone to law school worthwhile.  If you are looking for something to do with a liberal arts degree, find something else.  Also, because of the huge oversupply of attorneys, working as a lawyer can be very miserable.  Attorneys work very long hours under intense pressure in Machiavellian environments and many do not earn high incomes unless they are at large firms.

Eventually one out of every 172
Americans will be a lawyer!

Based on calculations I have made previously using ABA, LSAC, and Census Bureau projected population data, one out of every 275 people in the United States was a licensed attorney in 2004.  This inverse attorney-to-population ratio decreased to about 258 in 2009, just five years later.  At the current rate of lawyer overproduction where about 44,000 new JDs are produced every year, assuming that a new 25 year old lawyer would want to work for 40 years and that enough new law schools open so that the current pace of new JD production increases proportionally to population growth, enough new lawyers are being produced so that eventually one out of every 174 people will be a lawyer.  If (as reported at various places) students at top schools have been having difficulty finding entry-level jobs in the legal profession when that ratio is 257.5, how hard will it be to earn a living when one in every 172 people is a lawyer?

The law schools, the universities, the ABA, NALP, the student loan companies, and other law school-dependent and related industries do not necessarily have your best interests in mind.  These are NOT necessarily benevolent organizations that look out for the best interests of students and society.  Rather, they may be socially irresponsible, self-interested, greedy organizations that could care less about you and society.  They may be no different from regular for-profit corporations in those regards.  This conflict of interest is not specific to the legal profession, but to the education industry-student loan complex in general.  Colleges and universities are essentially greedy businesses that generate profits in the form of salaries for university executives, deans, and well-paid professors.  They don't care if they are producing three or four times as many new lawyers as what the market needs.  Some of these entities can and will purposely and knowingly publish inflated and misleading employment statistics so that the student-loan funded tuition dollars continue to roll in.  These are not benevolent, socially responsible societal organizations.  They are not your friends.  There is a conflict of interest between these organizations' interests and students' and society's interests.  Most people are completely unaware of that conflict.  Also, remember that someone who works at a fast food job after law school is technically "employed" for statistical purposes.  Also, if only 20% of all employment survey recipients respond and they are the ones who obtained positive outcomes, the employment statistics will look good.

You can damage yourself severely by accumulating over $120,000 (if not much more) in student loan debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.  That debt could haunt you forever and reduce your attractiveness to members of the opposite sex, delay (or prevent) important life events such as marriage and having children, and leave you impoverished and feeling like a member of the indentured educated class for the rest of your life.

Also, your law degree could make it difficult to find work in other fields because employers will assume that you are a loser if you couldn't find work as a lawyer because the naive public believes that all lawyers are rich and that the legal profession is a good field.  Even if they know that law is a competitive field, they will regard you as a complete loser anyway since you couldn't make it.

If you are thinking about going to law school, most of the information you will find will be positive, optimistic happy-talk put out by self-interested law school industry organizations or naive journalists.  The purpose of this side-blog is to provide an easily available list of alternate resources for people who are contemplating law school.


David said...

I always appreciate the impressive work. Thanks all for doing such via Law School


Anonymous said...

Unaccredited Law Student, former Cooley Kid, starting my own unaccredited Scam Blog, need help. Here is my first post. Would love a link, and your thoughts on how I can improve. You are one of my hero's! Keep fighting the ABA man!

Jan said...

This is all sad, but I doubt that it will change anyone's mind about attending law school.

Curved grading is a very unfair system. It means that a A quality paper could be given a C. Yet, if you make Cs people think you just didn't study hard enough. Many bright people are thrown out of law school by unfair curved grading systems. Most exams are essay exams, and its simply a matter of what the professor "thinks" about what you have written down. Many people lose their scholarships in law school because of the subjective, arbitrary nature of the grading system.

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