Monday, September 20, 2010

The Oprah Effect: It's Not Your Fault, It's The Law School

The Connecticut Law Tribune reports on one of my favorite topics - the entitled law student. (cue the angry commenters).

The article grabs me at hello: There's nothing like a scorned law school graduate with mounting debt and a niche in cyberspace to stir up a great debate about the merits of a legal education.

Like I said - "entitled."

Instead of law school grads looking at themselves and admitting that the only reason they went to law school was for the cash rainbow at the end, and not to actually be lawyers, they have decided that, surprise surprise, the law schools are to blame.

BAD Law schools - BAD.

My goal is to inform potential law school students and applicants of the ugly realities of attending law school," the author of the blog Third Tier Reality states. That includes few promising job prospects upon graduation unless a student attends one of the top eight law schools in the country, the author says.

Another blogger, The Jobless Juris Doctor, is more specific about his gamble and loss on attending law school for the guaranteed prize at the end:

Graduated from law school in 2009. Keep my diploma in the bathroom in case I run out of toilet paper.

The Tribune article analyzes this collection of blogs as a forum to send a message that law school is a "scam," and that law schools manipulate job placement and starting-salary figures to entice students to campus.

Apparently, the message is being heard:

Reading these blogs has made all of our expectations a little more realistic, said Danny O'Day, a second-year University of Connecticut law student from Westport.

And I've found the one law student who isn't entitled, although I know, I know, there's a ton out there.

O'Day said he and his classmates have no expectation of graduating into a legal industry job that pays six figures and allows for quick repayment of students loans.

Although the article says there are "dozens" of these blogs, written by whiners who wont admit that they only sought to be Members of the Bar and Officers of the Court, was because they heard 6-figures were as guaranteed as a cap and gown at graduation:

...they clearly aren't having much impact on law school enrollment. The number of law school applicants for the incoming 2010 class increased 3 percent nationally over last year, according to the Law School Admissions Council.

And the conspiracy theory gets more focused:

There are legions of underemployed document reviewers slaving away in unventilated basements so that morally bankrupt individuals [at law schools] can continue pulling down half a mil a year by scamming unsuspecting college graduates," the blogger states.

Yeah, now it all makes sense....

And here's my favorite part of the article:

Thirty people [working as legal temps] are absolutely miserable, but nobody has the courage to stand up and say anything," one blogger stated, noting that the air conditioner in the room was set uncomfortably low. "The market is so rotten, so-called professional attorneys are afraid of rocking the boat and being frozen out of low-rate $20 an hour temp gigs.

....nobody has the courage to stand up and say anything.

You should have stood up at the beginning of the law school process, when you held that application in your hand, and said something - like "why am I doing this?"

This guy has the right attitude:

I don't think in this economy that there's a reasonable expectation of anything," said Bryce Petruccelli, a 27-year-old first-year student at UConn. The world doesn't owe me a living, and I realize that," Petruccelli said. "You've got to do what you have to to get by, and I'm not afraid of doing that.

For a long time here I've been talking about this growing group of law school students and grads that have no concept of being a lawyer. They are there for the job at the end. They are there because they heard they could "make money as a lawyer." Lawyering is secondary. Representing clients, going to court, drafting pleadings is not in the mindset - it's all about the cash - and the entitlement.

So blame who you want. If you were stupid enough to go to law school because of the "lure," you're too stupid to be in this profession.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark


Juris Doctor Vinnie Boombatz said...

Almost 24 years doing this. It is the greatest job in the world except for when it is the worst job in the world.
Two questions all new lawyers must ask themselves:
1. What would I be doing if I were not doing this? Personally, my future in major league sports, movie stardom, and international business "tycooning" was not very bright.
2.In the words of an older lawyer many years ago-"Baby it beats digging ditches!" Cry me a river.

Anonymous said...

I have never read a scamblog that complained about not getting a six figure job. I don't know anyone in law school who felt "entitled" to a six figure job. What the scamblogs criticize the law schools for is falsifying employment data to fraudulently show that if you graduate from law school you are more likely than not to get a secure job for reasonable pay. If the Career Services Office publishes figures showing that 95% of their graduates were employed after graduation in order to convince people to pay tuition to go to their school, when they know that number is false, that is fraud. Why are you defending fraud?

jpm said...

Surely Brian is not suggesting that the law schools should get a free pass?
Is it good public policy to provide millions in government backed (taxpayers' backed) loans to law schools to pump out thousands more grads than the market for legal services can bear? I would suggest it isn't.

JPM said...

Brian you often bang the "entitlement drum"...but I really think that is a complete strawman that exists in your head and not in reality.

I am gainfilly employed. That said I know a number of hard working attorneys who got laid off through no fault of their own and are looking to work. They like being lawyers and like working. They are not lazy.....I know it's fashionable and easy to make sweeping judgments about generations....I do not knw anyone who thought they would just pass the bar and watch the cash roll in...that's absurd.

I applaud the scam bloggers for pointing the light at what is going on in the legal education market. It's not good for law students or the taxpayers'. Loan deafualts are the next big wave of defaults to come.....and who pays then?.....yes the taxpayer. Again, not good public policy.

Noob Lawyer said...


Thanks for this. I'm one of those shiny new attorneys (licensed in 2008) and I struggled to find a job, and have basically given up on doing what I really wanted to do coming out of law school. But even I'm sick of reading whining blog posts by a bunch of self-entitled people in their 20s. Yes I've sat up at night and whined about my circumstances to my wife, but even I have the decency to keep those complaints between my wife and I. Sure I'm not doing what I thought I'd be doing when I finished law school, but I also don't know a hell of a lot of non-lawyers who get paid $30 an hour to review documents and play on the internet all day (where I was), or who have a job which in all likelihood will have them making hundreds of thousands a year someday if they hustle and network and play their cards right (where I am now.) What on Earth do I have to bitch about, compared to somebody in their 50s who lost their job and can't find a new one after years of looking because nobody will hire them, or someone who works two or three jobs every week but can barely put enough food on the table?

I know humility is in short supply amongst lawyers, but these whiny kids would do well to try and keep people like that in mind before they hit the "post" button at the blogs they write on the shiny macs they bought with their student loan money.

Anonymous said...

Take a veteran attorney accustomed to a six figure salary. Now reduce their pay to 30-40k per year. Watch how they bitch and moan just as much as a recent law school graduate. What is the point of going into law? It is one of very few professions that can legally get 200$ per hour. To represent clients? To "seek justice"? If that is the goal, then show me an attorney (even an experienced one) making 35k per year who says, "I am just happy to be seeking justice for my clients while earning peanuts!"