Posts Tagged ‘biglaw’

10 Things Law Schools Won’t Tell You: We reveal why the Juris Doctor isn’t what it used to be.

An article by SmartMoney magazine.  If you believe the following, in particular in reference to a law degree, you’re highly misguided and simply not listening to the CLEAR warnings being issued by the law school scam blogs and now the mainstream media:

“I thought if I got a higher degree, I’d have a better chance to get a job, but that’s not what happened.”

Ha. My favorite part is the caveat emptor, nonchalant ‘you’re stupid enough to believe what we say attitude from one administrator of the Thomas Cooley School of Law. Leave it to an attorney to justify its clients’ deceptive practices and possible violations of civil law. Yes, this is what you deal with in the real world, your supposed bosses, colleagues and mentors will eat you alive as long as they get paid to do it. “…. James Thelen, general counsel at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, says the institution follows the American Bar Association and NALP’s rules when reporting job placement rates, and its web site lists the sectors its graduates have been hired to work in. Separately, he says, colleges can’t predict how an economic downturn will impact job openings. “No reasonable person could look at the accurate data we report about graduate employment today and believe that it is a guarantee that the very same percentage of job opportunities will be available when he or she graduates,” says Thelen.” You hear that? you are being referred to as irrational, lacking sense or the ability to deduce that you will be gainfully employed or employed at all by believing what law school’s official represent in their statistics. Classic.

From the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times and now SmartMoney (this media outlet is designed to inform consumers about financial planning and investments–hint, hint) So if you haven’t received the hint that you should not go to law school, then go ahead, don’t say we didn’t warn you. This is self-explanatory, the rest of the story is here:  10 Things Law Schools Won’t Tell You ; SmartMoney, June 6, 2012.

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.

More on Law School Grade Inflation: A New York Times Article

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 Law Schools Visit Lake Wobegon – Economix Blog – NYTimes.com, June 22, 2010

I’m seeing more articles about the legal industry with some refreshingly honest one-liners: “To paraphrase the late, great  Henny Youngman: Take our graduates — please!”

That is the message blasting from the nation’s law schools, those cash cows of higher education that could once promise lucrative employment to the nation’s risk-averse young adults. Now the legal job market has turned chilly, though, and schools are trying everything from literally paying employers to hire their students to retroactively inflating their alumni’s grades. [emphasis mine]. I appreciate the raw characterization of these institutions of higher learning. But where was this integrity 15 years ago; it only surfaces when those who were in line for the next round of promised BigLaw employment are affected that more media outlets bring attention to it…or that the lid was on top of the boiling legal industry ready to spill over, but adding ingredients of false imagery, justification, cajoling and misrepresented statistics finally spilled over, a likely combination of both.

The schools making the changes range from all over the spectrum, from the tippy-top-ranked schools like Harvard and Stanford (which no longer use traditional grades) to other top-20 schools like New York University, Duke, Georgetown and Washington University in St. Louis as well as schools further down in the rankings like Tulane, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. In a sense, the economy became a great leveler of talent that was disbursed throughout the different law schools, but these recent changes in grading policies across the spectrum has led to a new characterization of IVY League and top fourteen law schools: ‘First Tier Toilets.’ Ouch.

I talked with a lot of law school deans and others involved in the “grade reform” process, and pretty much everyone argued that their school wasn’t trying to “leapfrog” anyone, just to keep an “equal playing field” with their “peer schools,” which already had higher grades. And likewise students whose schools have not yet inflated their grading systems are complaining that they are currently at a disadvantage in the job market.  Do people really think this will make a difference?

Higher grades (or no grades at all) are probably good for stressed-out students’ morale. But it is hard to say whether a stricter or a more lenient grading curve makes much difference to students’ job prospects, especially since many law firms try to keep up with what the schools are doing. (Above the Law, a legal news and gossip blog, has been publicizing such changes to schools’ grading systems, for example.)

I will now start my ramblings: Maybe in the schools’ rankings, the schools’ qualification for federal funding, the schools’ justification to continue tuition increases. However, for the law graduate it’s an odd benefit. Since a certain number of grades each semester had to be disbursed throughout the class, those who were intelligent may have been given the luck of the draw lower grade. So those who are above the curve, whether more talented or not continued to gain advantages over the former. Now, we can also theorize that the change in the grading process could give those who should’ve been above the curve the grade they deserved in the first place. With all of this convolution, it appears that the law school grading system was flawed in the first place and the likely privileged are now complaining because they were accustomed to the golden path to BigLaw. Yet, this argument against grade inflation will always exist: The flattened grading curve can make it harder for standout students to continue to, well, stand out. Grade inflation may particularly hurt top students at mediocre law schools, who want to show they can compete with job applicants from more elite institutions.

The bottom line is that the legal industry is unable to create new jobs in this failing economy. Increasing grades will not truly increase competition. The real issue is the number of new law schools that continue to become accredited and the increased number of law graduates that are continuously pumped into the market.

An article and the idea of Law Practice Reform

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I first would like to say, too little, too late for those attorneys who aren’t considered seasoned nor are newbies to the legal field. Many blogs have outlined the mass-marketing, mass-commercialization of modern, U.S. legal education. Some suggest the apprenticeship manner of practice to get the legal industry back to its roots. As noble as it sounds, it’s too late. The legal industry has thousands upon thousands of intelligent attorneys who have most likely missed a great window of opportunity to take advantage of these suggestions. Whether due to economy– thus a poor job market, lack of connections, graduation from a non-top-tier, discrimination and simply put a field that casts its law graduates aside like roadkill. Others have noted that the purpose of these blogs is to prevent wide-eyed, ignorant potential law students from taking the plunge, both economically and mentally to attend law school. I stumbled across this article:

Law.com – Three Law Firms Claim Success With New Apprenticeship Model

By no means is this some new idea, in England, which is what most state common law is modeled after, this was the norm for trades and guilds. At some point somewhere, proponents of free market and capitalism decided to mix these ideas with higher education and voile a disasterous recipe: adults with excessive debt and postponed lives with a rice-paper facade of having attained success. With any sweeping change, casualties abound. Those lawyers who weren’t IVY leagued or graduated at the wrong time will be included among the counted losses.

Apparently, the majority is not embracing this legal industry reform: “Not that there’s any rush to jump on the bandwagon — no other firms have announced similar programs since last summer. Critics worry that lower apprenticeship salaries will hurt a firm’s ability to recruit top prospects and that the programs aren’t worth the necessary partner time and resources. The few firms that have made the transition are either litigation-focused or regional in scope. No large general practice or white-shoe firms have started apprenticeship programs…”

Clients have certain demands that ingrains the lineage of prestige and the have vs. have nots. Major firms whose focus is the financial input, overhead costs and maintaining a certain level of clientele which funds their business/firms aren’t willing to sacrifice these efficacies to help produce quality attorneys. Economically it makes sense for the firms not to invest so much, since we read or have first-hand knowledge of associate burn-out, it is likely those would produce high-turnover, so why would a firm enhance skills of a non-partner, non-promotional/lateral attorney who would likely leave the firm anyway? “Partners at all three firms with apprenticeships conceded that they entail significant costs — and each said they had yet to tally up their actual costs thus far.”  Because of the nobility of the profession…[caught you laughing]

Whether the firm is a top level business or mid-sized, these are the ones that can actually afford to implement such a program, resulting in younger attorneys gaining more practial experience that they may use to advance their individual careers. Then there are the rest, who at the end of the day, regardless of whether these firms decide to follow the apprentice model, you will not hear them tell you “You’re Hired.” For the majority it doesn’t matter.