In the News: Smart People Halt Going to Law School

 

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The Smarties Aren’t Rushing to Law School – The Careerist (full article) July 15, 2010

It’s madness. It’s loopy. How else to explain the spike in law school applications — a 7 percent surge, according to

The National Law Journal? Hello — didn’t anyone hear about those 22,000 legal jobs that got wiped out last year? Why is everyone and their mother trying to get into law school — any law school? So far we’ve heard the terms, irrationale, fool-heartedly, unaware and now madness and loopy. These characterizations refer to the mindset of those who continue to ping their false hopes on attending law school. At this point those who are already members of the legal industry are diagnosing you with a being deranged or a mental illness, I’ll refer to it as psychosis. This is when a person does not deal with the reality of situations or circumstances and continue to operate and behave as though the reality they’re comfortable with is the reality that’s actually there.

So who’s not rushing to law school? Ironically, some of the nation’s most sought-after college graduates are spurning law school, even highly coveted ones–at least for now. [emphasis mine]. The author asserts that those applying to law school in this economy and particular shift in the legal industry are not doing so with diligence and research. You are considered to be haphazard in making a very important decision. Now 0Ls and first year law students are being referred to as unintelligent.

A few days ago, I queried what’s harder: getting a job in a big-name law firm or a seat at a prestigious kindergarten in Manhattan? Though I’d put my money in the kiddie pool, it turns out there’s another prize that might even beat out admission to a swanky private school — and that’s a junior position at Teach for America.  

The New York Times reports that the nonprofit education group received over 46,000 applications for 4,500 spots to teach at some of the nation’s most troubled schools. (Hat tip to ABA Blog.) The article is full of anecdotes of students at highly selective colleges who got dinged by Teach for America. But what was really interesting is that many of the students in the article said that they’d rather teach than go directly to law school, including some who had gotten into places like Harvard Law School.  Earlier this year it was the U.S. Census that witnessed a unprecedented spike in temporary employment applications, with lawyers and Ph.D graduates at the helm. Teach for America is the runner-up for sought after position? This is interesting as far as law graduates who are now directing their attention to more meaningful, less paying work; though by the general public are perceived as money-grubbing-fast talkers. Let’s face it, not everyone who went to law school had greed in their hearts, though they did think that law school was the easier method for financial stability, many creative people are in business and law. These persons have sometimes found a way to escape the legal industry and focus on their creative outlet while sustaining a living. Some posts about these people may give some hope about leading your own path out of law.

But before you get all misty-eyed about the altruism of America’s youth, consider this: A stint with Teach for America is an instant resume enhancer. That it’s now become so competitive to get into the program can only add to the glow of those who have made the cut. Of course, when the market contracts, different careers either become extinct or more competitive as a shift in applicants increase. I’ve also heard that Peace Corps is now competitive. You even have to prove that you are able to pay your student loans, credit cards or other loans (either off in their entirety or meet monthly payments) while you’re in some remote area with none of the comfortable Western amenities you’ve grown accustomed to.

Corporate America can’t seem to get enough of these elite do-gooders. I can’t tell you how many times partners at major firms tell me that their favorite interviewees are Teach for America alumni. Partners talk about them in glowing terms, citing their leadership skills, work ethic, and all-around wonderfulness. From the personalities I witnessed in law in general, I disagree that this is the majority of firms or higher-ups within firms and businesses.

If you think about it, the profile of a Teach for America alum is what every big firm would want — someone who went to the right school, worked for a couple of years in a challenging environment, and then had the good sense to get back on the corporate track. They are what big-firm lawyers like to fancy themselves to be: smart and thoughtful, but practical enough to keep their billables up. So if you’re interested in doing some good in the world, make sure to the best of your ability for altruistic reasons; should you do this type of program to get your foot in the door of big business, you STILL won’t be considered because you attended a TTT/TTTT. It’s really saying, that Teach for America would be an ADDITIONAL criteria along with graduating at the top of your class at an IVY League. Ha, the door is still shut for the majority in the legal industry.

It might be too cynical to suggest that Teach for America has become a magnet for those with legal or corporate ambitions, but big law firms certainly seem smitten with the credential.  Umm, references to the legal industry should be cynical, afterall that’s what law schools trains its students to be resulting in depressed, hyper-competitive, backstabbing patrons of the legal industry, all the while having the student loan monkey on your back.

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1 Comment »

  1. Nando Said:

    Smart students foregoing makes sense, in light of the four idiots highlighted in this law.com article:

    http://www.law.com/jsp/law/careercenter/lawArticleCareerCenter.jsp?id=1202463454284&Law_School_Applications_on_the_Rise

    One girl will attend Third Tier Drake, even though she figures that she will gradute with $90K in debt; she currently has no aspirations to work in Biglaw. One lemming is a golf instructor; apparently, he wants to give up an easy, rewarding job for a REMOTE CHANCE at a frustrating “career.” One girl turned down a 9-5 paid position at a DC-based non-profit, so she could attend WillameTTTe in Portland, Oregon.

    The madness, mania and stupidity doesn’t stop.


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