Just How Bad Off Are Law School Graduates?

Faced with a dismal job market, the legal profession may be undergoing fundamental change

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Arizona State University’s law school is attacking head on the growing problem of law school graduates — who are in the fifth year of a near-depression-level job market — not being able to find work. It plans to open its own nonprofit law firm, as the New York Times recently reported, with the goal of keeping 30 recent graduates off the unemployment rolls. Law schools have also been offering public interest fellowships to help recent graduates get a foothold in the legal market — and creating incubators to train solo practitioners.

But all of this law-school work-making is raising some fundamental questions about whether there are broader forces at work that are permanently altering the legal profession.

It may seem far off today, but it was not long ago that the good times were rolling for lawyers. In 2007, 91.2% of law school graduates got jobs and salaries were soaring. After the 2008 meltdown, the employment rate was far lower — and the quality of jobs a lot worse. In 2009, just 65.4% of law school graduates got jobs for which they needed to pass the bar.

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A grim sport has emerged of exchanging stories about just how bad things are. Many lawyers are stuck doing tedious, document-intensive contract work for as little as $25 an hour — not the worst job in the world, certainly, but not what many of them envisioned when they spent three years of their lives and $150,000 to get a law degree.

And there are plenty of worse jobs.  “Above the Law,” a website that follows the grim legal market closely, reported one listing on Boston College Law School’s job site that offered an annual salary of just $10,000 which “Above the Law” insisted the firm “had to have known” was “below minimum wage.”

And it gets worse still. There are a surprising number of job postings for lawyers that offer no salary at all, including government law jobs. That raises the question — as one headline put it — “Would You Work as a Federal Prosecutor — For Free?”

(MORE: The Biggest Barrier to Elite Education Isn’t Affordability)

Being unemployed — or working at minimum wage — is rough in the best of circumstances. But it is especially crippling for students who get out of school with six-figure debts that are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. The average debt load for law school graduates is now over $100,000 — and at some schools, it tops $150,000.

There are two views about the current bad times in the legal profession. One holds that it is a temporary setback, caused by the Great Recession, and that when the economy comes back, so will demand for lawyers. In fact, there have been some modest signs of an upturn in the legal job market.

The more pessimistic view is that the market will never recover: that as a result of globalization, it has become easier for law firms and companies to outsource legal assignments to places like India, where foreign lawyers will work for a fraction of what an American lawyer would earn. There are also new technologies that are putting lawyers out of work — including software that can do tedious document-review projects that used to require an actual human.

(MORE: Women At Work: Seven Ways to Negotiate)

And there is a third source of downward pressure: as in many industries, corporations and other legal clients are increasingly intent with doing more with less. They are insisting on fewer billable hours, and smaller bills, and that translates into fewer, and lower-paid, lawyers.

Prospective law students are already responding to the dismal job market. Applications to law school are expected to hit a 30-year low this year — down as much as 38% from 2010. Some law schools have responded by shrinking their class sizes, and there have been predictions that in the not-too-distant future some lower-ranked law schools might have to close entirely. Perhaps the job market will recover and lawyers will make up the ground they lost, but if the slide continues the result will be a significantly scaled-down profession. Because the one law even lawyers cannot get around is supply and demand.

104 comments
Barry_D
Barry_D

"In 2007, 91.2% of law school graduates got jobs and salaries were soaring."
 

92.7% of grads had *some job* - a lawyer job, a temp lawyer job, a non-lawyer job, a non-lawyer temp job (note - while still owing $150K).  The percentage of JD's who got full-time, permanent lawyer jobs has been around 50% overall. As for salaries, the schools only counted people with full-time, permanent jobs for salary statistics.

 
Yes, they counted *everybody* with *any* job for employment rates.

Yes, they counted *some people* with *some* jobs for salary statistics.

stokerface
stokerface

67% doesn't sound all that bad to me. It's closer to 25% for those wishing to enter the Barrister's profession in the UK and 50% for wannabe solicitors.

I am also not sure that a retention rate of over 90% of graduates would actually be good for the profession, that's a huge proportion and it makes the assumption that everyone who graduates will be of the exceptional calibre that clients quite rightly expect from their lawyers. Anyone who works in the law knows that there are good and bad apples in the barrel, surely weeding them out at an earlier stage is sensible?

Surely the better thing to do would be to admit less people into Law School in the first place? You say that lower ranked schools might close, well good. Close them! Recruitment in the legal profession is as much about the reputation of the academic institution as it is about the skills of the individual. If going to a school is unlikely to end in a career then it is a waste of the students money and the educational establishment is merely profiteering from doe-eyed students eager for a less and less attainable career.

We have the same problem in the UK. Students study law at undergraduate at all manner of universities but in reality only those in "red brick" universities (the top flight one, there are about 25/30) have a decent chance to getting a training contract / pupillage (on the job training for lawyers). Far too many are also admitted onto the BPTC (barristers course) and the LPC (solicitors course) and so the bottle neck occurs at the point at which they have spent the maximum amount on their education (approximately £60k), thus the law schools have made their profit and can move their attention on to next year's cohort.

As the undergraduate degree is transferable to a number of other professions, the answer here is to limit entry to the BPTC and LPC. I imagine the same would be helpful in the US. It would focus the pool of applicant for employers, manage the expectations of students and raise standards at the lower echelons of the profession.

Sadly this won't happen because education is big business and law students are a veritable cash cow.

RobertPeterson1
RobertPeterson1

I am a lawyer with ten years experience.  My advice to law students or those contemplating law school is that you should only be there if you've always dreamed of being a lawyer, you have a plan for the type of law you want to practice, and you don't mind the very real possibility of working horrible hours for mediocre compensation.  If that's okay, then continue.

For those who are in law school to advance their education with the expectation that it will lead to a comfortable middle-class lifestyle, quit now.  The only reason to study law is to practice law. It will not help you in other fields.  In fact, it can make you less marketable because prospective employers wonder what is wrong with you.  What was previous an upper-middle-class profession has turned into a mediocre one for the vast majority of lawyers.  Police officers, teachers, and firefighters will all make significantly more money than you, have retirement accounts, and work reasonable hours (perhaps the most important point).

Successful lawyers are a very strange bunch.  They are often miserable human beings.  A high percentage of sociopaths who can destroy your career.  People who routinely sneer at those who have families and want to spend any time with them.  Those who think Sunday morning meetings are a normal thing.  Those who believe that just being in the office (face time) is more important than you efficiency at billing.

Finally, probably the worst aspect of practicing law is that your legal skills are not that important in advancing your career.  Extremely skilled associates get fired when they become more expensive than new lawyers.  Billing is king and bringing in business is all that matters.  As long as you're not so shoddy as to be disciplined or lose your license, all that matters is how well you can bill a file.  It's a very depressing situation for smart people who were raised to think that smarts and hard work matter.  Get out and do something meaningful with your life before other opportunities pass you by.

JosephLee
JosephLee

Web Search: Transistor count in  CPU.


one transistor in 1947 to 6 Billion transistor in one chip.


Mooore law: double computing power in two years will mean almost Infinity in computing power.


computing power doubles every two years or about 5 doubling in 10 years.


internet will obsolete 95 of all legal jobs.   


learn to code/code/code a computer..... automated computer software can do 95% of all legal work for cheap.

sharmaine73
sharmaine73

4 years after graduating from law school, I still am no closer to getting a job.  I just got another rejection today.  Meanwhile my 250K in student debt continues to rack up interest.  Good luck getting any of that back...

kathy1516
kathy1516

I am 100% in agreement with RLJ84.  My daughter is a 3L from the flagship law school of our state, had an externship with a federal judge in charge of the entire northern district of our state after 1L, is an Executive Director of Law Review and is having both her Comment and Note published in next Law Review journal and cannot even get low level law firm interviews!  She recently interviewed with one of these firms who only wanted to meet her because they couldn't believe that someone with such a low GPA (3.4 GPA) could possibly have 2 articles published!  They had no intention of interviewing her for the job!  Yes folks, this is what you can look forward to after $100,000-$150,000 loan debt.  She currently is working part time while finishing law school at a local law firm for $15 an hour.  Think long and hard about the future of a career in law.

MissPriss1948
MissPriss1948

There are several disgraceful factors at work here:   First, it seems that every little hamlet has to have a law school.  In my state, which  has a comparatively small population, there are 3 law schools, each of them churning out new lawyers like the Mint turns out dollar bills. 

 Second, almost everyone has to take out student loans, because the cost of law school has become astronomical. Thirty-plus years ago, my state law school tuition was less than $1000 per year.  I took out student loans, and worked side jobs on the sly to pay my rent.  

The biggest disgrace, however, is the interest rate that young lawyers today find themselves paying on their student loans.  My law school loans back when were at 1-1/2%  and 3%, .  My understanding is that student loan interest rates are set by Congress, presumably with the able assistance of the BigBanks.   Today's interest rates are obscene, and create a trap from which many recently-graduated lawyers cannot free themselves.  Of course, we've all learned by now that Congress is the friend of the Big Banks, the NRA, and other well-heeled interests, and no longer functions as the friend of this country and its citizens. Don't forget to vote.

RLJ84,  I can certainly hear your distress and pain.  Find a place where you can do some kind of work-- perhaps a district attorney's office, a legal aid office, or a state agency.  You won't have a huge salary, but you'll have a paycheck coming in, and health insurance; and you'll learn how to practice law.  With two or three years of work under your belt you'll be in a far better position to get a better job, if you still want to,  or to start a practice.  If you start a practice, consider doing so in a smaller city, where your quality work and integrity will bring you clients and a local reputation long before you could do that in a big city. Share office space with another attorney to keep your overhead down.  Trust me on this;  it still works. Do a good job for your clients,.  Decline to take the bad clients, those who give you an uneasy feeling when you first  talk to them.  They  won't pay your bills, and will file complaints against you with the bar association.

And good luck to you.

RLJ84
RLJ84

I'm $200,000 in debt and make $30,000. I'm 28, live at home with my parents, and fight depression. I will likely never be able to own a home or have a family. I can't afford a car. I got a 168 on my LSAT and went to a law school that usually ranks in the #15-18 range. I worked hard in law school and made "ok" grades. I share my story because I don't think competent, bright individuals for whom things have always worked out believe that law school can similarly destroy their lives. I'm here to warn you. Law school destroys the lives of many smart people. If I had spent three years drinking, partying, doing drugs, and generally irresponsible, my life would be immeasurably improved compared with how law school has irretrievably destroyed and corrupted my happiness, my future, and my life.

I'm not here to blame anyone else. It was my own fault. I would like others who follow in my footsteps to be aware of my story. I would amputate a limb if it meant I could return my law degree and discharge my loans.

Here are the rules of engagement regarding law school:

ONLY go to law school if:

a. You were accepted into Harvard, Yale, or Stanford; or

b. You received a full scholarship.

If your scholarship is contingent upon grades and you don't retain your scholarship after 1L year, drop out immediately. If you are not in the top 10% of your class, a lifetime of misery and financial and emotional devastation awaits.

Law schools lie about their employment statistics. They are businesses and you, the prospective student, are the customer. The ONLY thing that concerns them is (1) your signature on the promissory note for student loans; and (2) your LSAT/GPA so the school can retain its ranking in order to lure in more students to sign promissory notes. Nothing - and I truly mean nothing - else matters. The professors are paid strong six-figure salaries for low amounts of work and have the luxury of teaching the same material each year. They want to keep their jobs, as do the administrators. 

Make no mistake - the law school industry feels threatened by the amount of negative information on the Internet, but reality eventually seeps slowly into the public consciousness. When you bilk thousands of people out of millions of dollars, eventually the truth will be known.

Law school has utterly destroyed my life. If you are not in the top 10% of your class (yes, even at a "good" or T14 school), then the jobs that are available to you will range in salary from $20,000 to $40,000 and you will owe $150,000 to $200,000 in student debt. You will spend the entirety of your life financing the lifestyle of bank executives and law school staff and professors. Many times, you will have to begin as an unpaid intern before you are even offered a small (and I mean extremely small) stipend. I had to begin as an unpaid intern.

Law school does not teach you how to be a lawyer. Law school graduates do not know how to draft motions, complaints, contracts, or wills. Law graduates have to teach themselves these schools. Clients are extremely hard to get - especially those that actually pay (and if you're lucky, they pay on time without demanding a substantial discount). You can't just hang a shingle and expect the money to roll in.

Law schools leave a trail of misery, emotional and financial devastation, bitterness, and regret. I wish I had joined the army. I wish I had studied a trade. I wish I had just stuck with my pre-law school office job. But no, I thought I was smarter. I thought I could be the exception. Just remember that EVERYONE going to the law school you attend will be just as bright and just as capable and yet only 10% of those students will obtain jobs that will allow them to remain independent.

If you want to destroy your life, if you want suicide-level anxiety and stress, if you want to enter a career where an extremely small percentage of those working in the field make a good living (and yet ALL lawyers work extremely hard - much harder than others who make larger salaries in less stressful careers), if you want your life to be infused with jerks and psychopaths who are attracted to being lawyers, if you want to be screamed at and yelled at by alcoholic lawyers, if you want to never have the financial wherewithal to afford an apartment or a car, if you want to move in with your parents, if you want to remain single indefinitely, if you want to feel shame and regret for the entirety of your adult life, if you want to spend your life doing boring mind-numbing adversarial work, if you want to really (and I mean really, no theoretically) experience the feeling of wishing you were dead or never born, then by all means go to law school. 

NedRavine
NedRavine

the government needs to change the laws and let students get rid of these obscene $100,000 student loans in bankruptcy!  there's no way I can pay back all these loans working for chump change doing legal work

flattorney
flattorney

Highly recommend not going to law school if you haven't started.  If you have started and are less than $30,000 in debt, cut your losses before it is too late.  Most of my colleagues have well over $100,000 in student loan debt including myself. The government isn't doing much for student loan forgiveness or fairness.  They continue to ignore Petitions with as much as 1,000,000 plus signatures.   Most attorneys I know with three years experience are making under or around $50,000 a year if they are lucky.  Many took jobs at the Public Defender's office or State Attorney's office paying approximately $38,000 a year.  Keep in mind this is with over $100,000 in Student loans with consolidated loan interest at 7.3%.  After making $15,000 in payments in three years my student loan which was at $120,000 is now reaching $130,000 because the payments aren't enough to cover even the interest.  Many of the private small firms locally aren't even giving benefits to their associates and paying them a low salary.  


The practice of law which is something that few sincerely enjoy doing cannot even be enjoyed now due to Student Loans and low paying jobs without benefits.  Most days I love practicing laws but not a day goes by I regret going to law school because of my student loans and low salary after seven years of college and passing a State Bar Exam.  Many of my non law school friends make more money, have better benefits and don't have student loans.  The days of being a new lawyer and making it big are a dream of the past.

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

as a starter, shut down the bottom 30 law schools

PaulDrake
PaulDrake

If law school grads only knew that they could make a whole lot more money being criminal defense investigators they'd stop engaging in this kind of self-loathing and fear-mongering.  As a PI in the defense world you can expect to make 3 or 4 times the beginning wage of a new lawyer. What's more-- many young attorneys would benefit from spending time at the crime scene than sitting in a law library looking up case law.  PI's know that finding key witnesses is what the successful trial outcome often hinges on anyway.  Yes, get your law degree, but if you can't find work as Perry Mason, follow your nose--Paul Drake is hiring and he's paying a whole lot more money. 

alankwellsmsmba
alankwellsmsmba

Poor little  lizards  The law is largely a  scam invented, designed and practiced for the benefit of insiders, not clients.  It's about money - and nothing else.  If there were those too starry eyed to see that, they will suffer like any other fool such as those who graduated in "theatre arts."  Cavet Emptor.  Yeah, although I'm an MBA by training, I had a little law too.  Oh, and it is my decided opinion that MBAs and computer scientists can replace most law functions, as they have with tax returns.  Now getting lawyers to write comprehensible codes to interpret, well that's a different kettle of lizards. People hate lawyers for a reason.  The most overrated "profession" ever created.

jellopeople
jellopeople

The ironic savior could be legalzoom.com.  They and other digital companies are partnering with attorneys to provide legal services to the under-served middle-income market - with benefits that are now expected from service industries, but those which attorneys have not been typically known for:  customer service, flat rates, transparency, using technology and data to not have to charge you for research on something that has been done a million times before, and very importantly, CALLING BACK IN A TIMELY MANNER.  With demand rising from the market previously shut out from legal services, supply can meet those people at a cost that's driven by competitive market dynamics, not oligopolies.

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

First -- close down the bottom 30 ranked law schools.

Leimomi
Leimomi

The ASU "solution" to the crisis of unemployed law school graduates is laughable.

First, most of the folks teaching in law schools have NO practical experience.  They went straight through on the academic express:  undergrad, law school, clerkship, maybe two or three years at a firm, then into teaching.  They've got absolutely NOTHING that they can impart to new law school grads.  The "old" model of a recent grad joining a firm [or government agency] and learning by doing, being mentored & guided by someone more experienced, has been cast aside because it doesn't make money for the firm, and because clients balk at paying for "unexperienced talent."

Second, well gee, how LUCKY for those who can't afford "real" legal services, [particularly now that Legal Aid has been decimated] to be served by some know-nothing recent grads and their equally out-to-lunch "teachers" from the law school faculty.

The only folks this "solution" benefits are the law schools: it helps them hide the fact that they're producing TWICE as many graduates as there are jobs, and obscures the real unemployment figures by claiming those working at their make-work "law firms" are "employed."

Claudius_II
Claudius_II

Prospects for engineering and the STEM careers are just as, if not more, dismal.  Yet both political parties insist that we have to import 85,000 foreign engineers/ scientists PER YEAR.  Meanwhile thousands of US engineers & scientists can't find work at any price: even $25/hour.

1neekehurley
1neekehurley

A wise one once said. Challenge the schools, the state education department whomever is responsible for this hefty price tag!

murphyg2013
murphyg2013

Obviously, this garbage was written by a law professor.  I can tell by the way it involves nothing original and is merely a summary of what you find if you did a 5 minute google search of 'law school scams.' 

The reason law school grads can't start their own practice upon graduation and can't find jobs is that law schools don't teach law.  When you accuse them of this, they don't deny it. They say: we teach student to think like lawyers.  But even that is not true.  Law schools are playgrounds for law school professors.  Students are basically in the way.  Students are the 6 to 9 hours per week of inconvenience that law school professors must put up with so they can spend their lives indulging in six-figure salaried hobbies.

One good example is the author of this garbage.  Instead of spending his time learning about law, or learning about how to be a better teacher or becoming an expert in the things he teaches (media law and privacy law) he fiddles about writing biographies of the people who were in FDR's cabinet in the 1930's.

AngelaDoddHarless
AngelaDoddHarless

If this is the case then why are they trying to shorten law school to 2 years so that there will be more graduates? It sounds like there are too many lawyers already.

AD
AD

Its not just law or mba. This is match week for medical doctors trying to find medical residencies. And there are only about 24000 1st year positions and about 38000 applicants. This at a time when everybody is yelling about physician shortages. No wonder then that there are US citizen FMGs who passed USMLE board exams working in jobs that have nothing to do with medicine.

doyamakai
doyamakai

I was surprised to read this article because just the same problems are rising in my country Japan, which create the low school system by learning from U.S. Many people in Japan regret changing its system and installing American style of law school.

I think there will be a lot of people who have bar degree but do jobs nothing related with law like elementary school teacher...

markrmulligan
markrmulligan

Major in a foreign language like German or Chinese as an undergraduate. Then when you later graduate from law school, you will not be disappointed if you made an effort to specialize in something like International Law. You might have to relocate for at least a while to a foreign country, but the adventure and broadening of horizons should make it worth your while.

_hardhatBetty
_hardhatBetty

not really trying to change the subject, but this situation clearly doesn't just pertain to law students, but architecture students as well.  Granted, an architecture degree doesn't cost $150k, there are a lot of "undocumented" costs, such as software, model making supplies and printing costs.  We're lucky to find jobs that pay $15 an hour drafting somewhere.  Time ought to write a whole series about the value (time AND money wise) of degrees vs. finding a job after graduation.  So many more industries could use the exposure of the struggle.

KamranKastle
KamranKastle

I think it is fair to assume that a lot of people are having a difficult time finding their ideal job...whether they have a great education or not.


vcgordon
vcgordon

“%s: Just how bad off are law school graduates? | %sbJC v%se%sred” interesting way to help

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

To add my perspective to the TIME Article:

I was starting my 3rd year of undergrad when the Great Recession of '07-'08 hit.  Studying History/Education, my goal was to be a History Teacher upon graduation in 2010.  Unfortunately, the recession took a gigantic meat axe to public education, and now over 300K teaching positions have been eliminated nationwide.

At the time, I could see the hardship coming, so I decided to apply for law school as a back-up plan.  Biggest mistake ever.  After attending the University of Baltimore (UB) during the Fall '10 semester, the realities of law school and eventual lawyering became clear to me.  The profession was not what I desired as a career, so I left.

After going the Business route (earning my MBA in December '12), I read story after story about the inflated job placement scandals at many law schools (including UB).  It was striking to think that we as students had been deceived by academic statisticians, who inflated the placement numbers.  I have real pity for my friends in law school (who graduate this year) and all others who are entering such a difficult job market.

catwomanbeyonce
catwomanbeyonce

@dingakaa These articles are passed around school like crazy. Not that bad. Economic downturn means everyone suffers. It's a crab bucket.

sixtymile
sixtymile

If we don't need all the lawyers who are graduating out there filing or defending lawsuits, how is this bad? Definitely, knowing the law and legal language and processes can be an asset in other more useful professions. Don't give up yet.

shaunace
shaunace

@kathy1516 Oh my god... that's shocking indeed.  There's file clerks at the firm I work at with little or no college education making 15 bucks an hour.

anw5000
anw5000

@RLJ84 I totally sympathize with your story and I agree with you 100%.  I was facing $150k in loans and deep depression after law school too when I swallowed my pride and took a job as a landman in the middle of no where, Ohio.  Luckily, I have fallen into some amazing opportunities and have been able to pay back my loans.  I sincerely recommend that you try to move to Ohio, western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia, or any where else there is a major land play and get a job as a contractor landman.  I agree with your statement that oftentimes a JD jeopardizes your employability, but I assure you that it is the opposite case when it comes to land work.  Please look into it.  http://aapl.energyjobsnetwork.com/home/home.cfm?site_id=12984

Dylan_RobbinsDR
Dylan_RobbinsDR

@RLJ84 I found your comment very eye-opening because I've been working at a law office for 3 years, ages 18-21, and was taken back by how difficult it is for somebody with a law degree to get work. I found work relatively easily, $10 an hour is chump-change to the attorney I work for. I desired to go into the field of Law because I've seen the amounts of money my boss is raking in and it astonished me... Enough to make a career choice. Ever since I read your comment though, I searched online for other horror stories and found your statements to be bizarrely true in a sense. Now I'm not sure if I still want to pursue the career of being a lawyer. It's weird though because I see my boss who is handling about 6 cases in CA and a couple in MI, always having work to be done and clients to be had. I had never figured there would a shortage clients for lawyers. 

Dreamer84
Dreamer84

@RLJ84I sympathize with your situation and I have some suggestions that you could consider(if you haven't already).  There are transition to teaching programs in many states which welcome professionals from other disciplines who do not have a degree in teaching.  I have a friend who is a physician and took this route to teach high school science.  I have another friend who is a banker who is also teaching through that program.  You have excellent communication skills and those could transfer to many careers outside of law.  A teaching job would guarantee you good insurance and (since your level of education is beyond master's level) decent pay.  

I also have friends in Korea who teach conversational English.  Free housing is often provided, food subsidy and decent pay.  Due to factors such as these Korea has a reputation for enabling conversational English teachers to pay off student loans.  Many of them taking the opportunity to earn a good living while waiting out the US economy.  There are a lot of companies that recruit such as EPIK.  

If your federal government loans are no longer eligible for forbearance, ask to be placed on an income based repayment plan.   Continue to explore other options and don't give up!  Good Luck!

blazezm
blazezm

@RLJ84 You can become a law enforcement officer. Whether it is federal, state or local. I live in NJ and state troopers make really good money up to 80k after a few years. Your degree will be extremely valuable to these agencies and you will be priority in hiring!

jaredrogers763
jaredrogers763

Hi RLJ84 - I sympathize with your story. I am debating the law school evening route but I already have a full time day job. I've heard the horror stories and am strongly considering pursuing another path. I was accepted at a T20 with a small scholarship and a lower ranked school with siginificantly more scholarship money.

However, there are a lot of professions which require any type of graduate degree and pay more than $30k, especially regulatory analyst/policy careers with the government. I am precluded from applying to most of those soely because I only hold an undergraduate degree. Maybe you should seek out a government career or a position in finance. Many brokerage firms pay more than $30k (Fidelity, Charles Schwab, etc.), will sponsor brokerage licenses (Series 7 and 63) and once you have those, many people move on to larger asset managers. Bottom line, there are a lot of professions which pay well which you are stringly qualified for. Don't get depressed :) 

JLiberty
JLiberty

@alankwellsmsmba I don't understand people like you. The people being crushed by this are kids in their 20's who are trying to push themselves to accomplish, what they thought, was a meaningful achievement that would benefit themselves and their families. Everyone I went to school with just wanted to have a career that was engaging and make enough money to get by. Acting like students who went to law school should have known better and deserve their fate is ludicrous. Just 5 years ago the employment rate was 91%, it's probably half of that now depending on what sources you look at. Is the profession bloated? Absolutely. However, I'm truly disturbed by the complete lack of empathy for graduates in their 20's who have had nothing to do with the toxic state of the profession and you saying that they somehow deserve to be saddled with the burdens of all it's shortcomings for the rest of their lives.

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

@Claudius_II Maybe the unemployed engineers need to update their skills and/or move to another area of the country.


Unemployed scientists should either go get their PhD or get certification to work in a technical job in hospitals or get an engineering job or learn how to do programming.

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

@AD why doesn't the medical profession create more residencies especially for family/general practitioners?

jyladvik
jyladvik

@AD  Don't kid yourself. Someone working in  hands-on healthcare has no fear of life long unemployment.

RLJ84
RLJ84

@Dreamer84 @RLJ84 Read my new message above. Thanks for the reply.

Law degrees are viewed as a liability for many reasons as I explained above. They think you'll jump ship, you're a loser, incompetent, or wishy-washy. You can do many things things with a career and none of them (other than practicing law) require a law degree. Law schools are trying to sell JDs as versatile. They're not. Law schools know their highly-profitable business model is being threatened because information is coming to light through the Internet. Their defensive message is now that JDs are portable and versatile and that income-based repayment means loans do not burden graduates.

I'm on IBR and you end up paying more over the long term. It's just an added weight around your neck that doesn't need to be there. By not going to law school, it's like getting a 15-20% raise.

Teaching English abroad is a good gig. It's hard to get but it's a good gig. I've never heard of places paying off student loans. If a law school told you this, it sounds like marketing and sales talk and not truth. They might offer a bit of assistance but they're not going to pay $200,000 in loans when the base salary is like $20-30k. That wouldn't make economic sense.

You don't need to go to law school to be a law enforcement office, a teacher, a banker, or anything else other than a lawyer. Yes, I am looking into other career options but law school delayed my life by 4-5 years (wasting my time at law school and taking bar exams). I've poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into a hole, lost relationships and friendships, and thrown away my 20s trying to attain this worthless degree.

I appreciate your suggestions and if I sound bitter, it's because I am. I just want to warn everyone out there that law degrees are worthless, useless degrees. Law schools are businesses designed to induce prospective students to sign up for large bank loans to enrich law school administrators, professors, staff members, and banks. They don't care about your career, your life, or you. Law degrees do not open doors. Law degrees are a liability.

I'm suspicious of anyone who defends law degrees online because many law schools have PR and communications professionals who troll online to defend these institutions that ruin so many lives. They don't want people to know that most lawyers make well south of $60k.

Law schools' new game is to sell prospective students on these loan repayment plans. They say, don't worry about these gigantic loans that are going to finance our upper-middle class lifestyles, you can just put it into IBR and live a fantastic, care-free life. This is just more smoke and mirrors from law school swindlers and thieves. IBR costs you more in the long-term and 15-20% of your income is a very large percentage. It's far from a trivial amount, as the law schools like to pretend. It also means you pay more if you ever make more money later in your career, which is still very speculative if you have a law degree.

I was told by a few people before I went to law school that it was a bad idea. I foolishly ignored them. Don't be me. Don't be a cautionary tale. If you don't want to live with your parents in your late 20s and have horrible career prospects, don't go to law school.

Law school is like high stakes gambling. You take a loan for $200k and place it all on red (red being the top 10% of the class). Because of confirmation bias, most people think they'll be in the top 10%. And yes, you need to be in the top 10% for even so-called good schools (UVA, Georgetown, UCLA, Cornell, etc.). What prospective students fail to realize is that 90% of students who are also very smart, very hardworking, and very ambitious do not get a good paying job. There is no mid-tier or mid-size law firm job waiting for them that pays $70-120k. There is nothing. These mid-size jobs go to mid-career lawyers or BigLaw associates who aren't on partner track. They don't go to new law school graduates who didn't make the top 10% cut. If you're part of the 90% not in the top 10%, there is nothing but a trail of tears that awaits. You will move back with your parents. You will beg solos for jobs. Government jobs will not be available to you (they request law review and "stellar" academic credentials, meaning the vast majority of students won't qualify). You will have to "intern" for solos and small firms for free. You will be yelled and screamed at by angry, irate lawyers in small firms who are often alcoholics or have mental issues. You will work harder than your friends. You will work longer than your friends. You will start to lose friends. And to top it off, you will make MUCH less than your friends. Even though you're making a lower base salary than your friends, you will still have 15-20% of your pre-tax income (which translates to a much higher percentage post-tax, obviously but that's another thing law schools would prefer that you not understand or investigate) garnished by the bank that so helpfully provided you with those gigantic law school loans.

I could go on and on (and I'm afraid I already have) but I rue the day I thought law school was a good idea. I regret thinking law school would provide me with a good career. Law school destroyed my future and my life.

I am investigating alternative careers and I'm working for a law firm currently but not involved as much in legal practice (more so on the marketing and tech side) but I'm making $40k, which is what I was making pre-law school. My situation is not uncommon. Many lawyers make less. At my old law firm job, I worked for free for three months, then got paid $1,000 per month for three months, then got paid $2,000 per month for three months. I was also working extremely long hours and working weekends. My situation was not strange or rare for law school graduates. I worked with other T20 law grads (this greedy lawyer had 3 other recent grads working for him) who were making the exact same amount or less.

It's not as if other non-law employers are waiting with open arms to hire JDs and law grads. You have to convince them and explain why you couldn't hack it in law. The general public still thinks lawyers are rich and it's easy to get paying clients. JDs are viewed as a liability. When I've interviewed with non-legal recruiters, they're utterly shocked I would be interested in working a database job for $50k. They think I'm insane but they're not aware of the worthless nature of  law degree.

RLJ84
RLJ84

@jaredrogers763 Thanks for the input.

Unfortunately, a JD is not a portable degree. Non-law employers think that you will jump ship at the first offer from a law firm or that you will constantly search for a legal job while working for them.

The portability of a law degree is another lie that law schools try to sell to students in order to get them to sign promissory notes. You have to understand that the law school business model is based upon getting good jobs for 5-10% of students and getting everyone else to sign promissory notes. The incentive for prospective students to sign these loan notes is the prospect of a high-paying job.

I've applied to banks, financial institutions, journalism and media companies (which is my pre-law background), insurance, and general analyst jobs. The JD is a black mark on my resume and viewed as a detriment.

Non-law employers do not like JDs. They think you are either (a) a loser who couldn't get a good law firm job, (b) incompetent, or (c) going to jump ship. It's not viewed positively. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not buy the law school tripe about the law degree being marketable to other professions. It's not.

Law schools that you correspond with are dead set upon you signing loan notes. That's ALL they care about. They are marketing to you. They are engaged in the art of persuasion and will say anything to get you to sign loan promissory notes. There is nothing else that matters to them. They are emboldened by recent court decisions against plaintiffs who attempted to sue their law schools for fraudulent behavior.

It's difficult to win fraud cases. You have to show legal reliance upon a law school's claims. Sales "puffery" (which is what law schools are providing to you - it's a nice way of saying sales "BS") does not count for showing reliance. The court will presume you were smart enough to know it was just sales language.

These schools don't care if you destroy your life. It means nothing to them if you have to spend your prime years saddled by soul-crushing debt. You will be a slave to their lifestyle. Don't believe any of the liberal do-gooder propaganda that they put out (as if law schools want to end racial and sexual inequality and save the environment). They put out these feel good messages so that you will ascribe selfless and non-self-interested motives to them. Don't believe it. They are ruthless, unscrupulous mercenaries whose goal is one thing and one thing only: getting students to sign up for ludicrously large loans. They will lie, they will cheat, they will swindle, they will blow smoke and mirrors, they will do anything as long as it ends with you affixing your signature, digital or otherwise, to a bank loan document.

Law degrees are not portable. Yes, there may be examples of lawyers who have gone on to magnificent careers in other fields but they are the exceptions. Don't you think that the THOUSANDS of lawyers who are part-time, temp, who work for free, who work document review jobs (look up doc review jobs for lawyers if you don't know what they are) would give anything to have a satisfying career in another field? Of course they would. Don't put on horse blinders.

When you're dealing with law schools, you're dealing with individuals who want to maintain their opulent lifestyle. They get paid low to extremely high six-figure salaries to teach the same material every year for six to seven months out of the year. They only have to teach a few hours a day. The publishing requirements are minimal. They get the false prestige of being a professor.

I would say a big indicator that will reveal to you what swindlers and thieves law schools are is how emotionally distant and cold they will become when inquiring about jobs. If you're seriously thinking about destroying your life by going to law school, I would recommend visiting the law school and talking to 3Ls about jobs. Ask them where they're working. Don't be shy. Talk with professors and ask if they'll help you get a job during law school. Ask students if the career services office helped them find employment. When talking to professors, don't identify yourself as a prospective students (because like snakes, they will change their demeanor and go into swindling sales mode). Observe for yourself how cold, distant, and deflecting they become. Don't hide from it. This is the true face of law school - distant, cold, greedy professors and the shattered hopes and dreams of the vast majority of 3Ls.

If you're smart, you won't live one day to rue my comments. Rather, you'll explore a different career. Don't be like me. My life is a cautionary tale. I think about suicide and escaping to a different country every day due to my regretful decision to attend law school. I went to a supposedly "good" law school (usually ranked from 15-18), so it's not just students from poorly-regarded, low ranked schools that are enduring pain and suffering. Don't kid yourself. The numbers preferred by law schools are a sham. They doctor them and, as I've said many times, it's all part of a full-scale effort to induce prospective students to sign non-dischargeable and excessively large bank loan documents. The schools know most students won't be able to pay these loans back. The law schools know these loans destroy people's lives. Don't be fooled.

I'm on income-based repayment but it's not all unicorns and rainbows. The loans continue to grow in size through high-interest rates (6-8% or higher). I will pay a fixed percentage of my income to banks for the rest of my working life. That means if I ever (God forbid) make a salary that puts me above the poverty line, I will still owe that fixed percentage of my income. At that point, the loans will have grown to such a size that I won't be able to pay off the balance of the loans even if I'm making a good salary. What this means is the banks will make a huge profit on the loans, which is precisely the plan. If you think income-based repayment was implemented by some selfless individual with your interests at heart, you're naive. The banks have very smart individuals who run the numbers and do the math to ensure they make a profit on the deal. Also, after 25 years of repayment in an IBR (income-based repayment) plan and you get to discharge loans when you're well into middle-age and have spent your youth and young adulthood chained to a bank, you're stuck with a huge tax liability. So in either case, the bank wins.

I know graduates from George Washington, UCLA, University of Virginia, Georgetown, and Cornell who are either working temp jobs, doing doc review, working for less than $40k for solos, or going solo and living with their parents. These are sad, desperate people who would give anything to return their law degrees. For thousands and thousands of people, law school was an irreversible, regretful mistake. Law school destroyed my life. I was dumb enough to believe the salary numbers offered by my law school. I didn't think an educational institution would lie and act fraudulently. I was wrong. Schools are run like for-profit businesses with one goal in mind: getting students to sign promissory notes to keep the money flow flowing.

Law school means a 75% likelihood you won't be able to buy a house, a car, live independently, and it's a likelihood you'll have to move back with your parents. These are not remote possibilities. These are not students who were at the bottom of the class. This is the majority of law school graduates.

THINK BEFORE YOU JUMP.

littlebear3
littlebear3

@Leftcoastrocky

Anyone who has worked in a company that chooses the H1B visa foreign professionals over an

American understands a simple truth.

When someone is hired on a visa, they are not able to quit their job, or accept a better job. They must work for the employer that brought them in. It doesn't matter how long the hours, or how poorly they are treated, they must stay at the job.

As soon as they quit or are layed off, they have to return to their native country. That is a real issue if they have a family.

It isn't about lack of skill, or education, it is about business benefitting and being able to drive salaries down without worrying about retention. It is also about professionals coming from countries that pay for their citizens to pursue advanced education, so they enter the job market debt free.

The question we should be asking is why is it that someone with few economic resources from a poorer country has a better chance at getting an education than middle class Americans. And they enter the labor market without a huge debt load.

smc329
smc329

@RLJ84 @Dreamer84 No offense, but it sounds more like an error in attitude on your part than an error with companies. If you look at a plethora of HR based jobs, especially Employee Relations, many companies pay in th 75k+ range for those jobs. I decided to work for 3 years, start law school next year, and return to the same company. THey fully support me and are always looking for motivated individuals to come work in their Labor or Employee Relations departments. They manage arbitrations, internal investigations, and compliance with federal law. AND you work a normal work week. If you are a strong candidate, most companies are at least willing to interview you. If you're not the right fit after allowing an interview, it's not your law degree that lost you the job.


Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

@littlebear3 @Leftcoastrocky Their countries are paying for their education, which benefits our colleges and college communities.  If they are pursuing a PhD in engineering and plan to work in the U.S. we all benefit.  We have far too few Engineering PhDs  (and probably too many JDs and MBAs).  Frequently they will stay and start businesses, hiring US citizens.