This post is meant for the graduating class of 2016. In a few months, law school classes will begin. Some of you are pondering whether law school will be the right choice for your personal future. Others plan to matriculate and have already paid their seat deposit and the security deposit for housing. But before you pay the tuition bill and commit yourself to three years of law school, there is something you should know.
I started blogging for two reasons. First, it was to lend another voice to many forgotten attorneys and others trying to spread a message: Going to law school and becoming a lawyer does not guarantee a financially comfortable life nor an exciting career.
In fact, chances are good that you are going to be financially screwed for a very long time if you have taken out large student loans. Many law school graduates will have a difficult time finding an entry level position and even if they find one, the job might not be secure. It is now common knowledge that most average and even some top law schools have been lying about their post-graduate employment statistics. Schools known to be regional powerhouses are now being exposed as trap schools as their reputations relied heavily on unemployed graduates keeping their mouth shut due to social pressure. Finally, low-ranked schools have become the new “lawyer jokes” among practitioners, law students and even some law school professors and administrators.
This message has received mainstream media attention since 2007. There are many articles, blogs and websites that tell you not to go to law school unless you meet a very narrow criteria. And even if you do go, you should drop out after one semester or one year if you do not achieve a certain class rank or if you receive no job offers after participating in the school’s OCI.
This message is no longer being dismissed as the bitter ramblings of the stupid and lazy. It has been shared and confirmed by many who have lived it and suffered for many years but kept it a secret among their family and friends. It has been analyzed and confirmed by disinterested third-parties. It has even been acknowledged by a growing number of academics whose salary depends on discrediting the message and shaming those who spread it.
And now I will explain the second reason why I started blogging. While I am sympathetic to many recent unemployed and disillusioned law school graduates and practicing lawyers, I believe there comes a point in time where those who choose to ignore the above message and fail deserve no sympathy and should suffer the consequences of their actions. It is now time that we put the fear of God into the minds of idealistic lawyer wannabes.
Presently, I have to believe that everyone planning to go to law school this fall know the risks involved. You are knowingly putting your financial future at risk if you borrow anywhere between $100,000 to over $200,000 on top of your undergrad debt to go to law school. I have to believe that you are knowingly making a decision to enter a profession where there is a small chance of making the coveted $160,000 per year salary and a large chance of working at a small law firm at $30K-$70K per year or just being unemployed. I have to believe that you know that student loan debt will be almost impossible to discharge in bankruptcy during your young, productive and fun-filled years. I also have to believe that you are knowingly putting yourself in a position where you will pay at least $1,000 per month in student loan payments for a minimum of 10 years.
But some of you are not going to listen. You still think people like us are bitter losers. You think we’re trying to limit competition and entry into the profession. You’re probably thinking that now is the best time to go because there are fewer applicants, better chances of admission and larger tuition discount offers. You’re betting that the economy will improve in 2016 when Barack Obama is elected to his third term in office. You think you will be ok because you study harder, pray longer and you went through a lot of shit in your life and survived. And the WORST excuse is, “What else am I going to do?”
So if you really want to go despite the many warnings out there, then go. But know this: IF YOU FAIL THE LAW SCHOOL GAME, YOU DESERVE YOUR SHITTY FATE AND I WILL DO NOTHING TO HELP YOU.
If you graduate law school and find yourself in unmanageable debt for possibly the rest of your life, I have no sympathy for you. You deserve to live like an indentured servant for the rest of your life. Go cry to mommy who probably co-signed your student loans and will have to cash out her retirement to pay it.
If you don’t get a job after graduation, I don’t give a shit. Don’t come to me for a job because I’m not hiring you. If I need help, I’ll look for a college graduate or a contract attorney.
If you decide to start your own law firm, don’t come to me for help. I will not mentor anyone from the Class of 2016 nor refer you clients unless there is something in it for me.
If a client tells me that you fucked up his case, no matter how small, I will not hesitate to tell the client to go after you. I will tell the client to file a complaint with the State Bar, file a malpractice claim against you in small claims court or consult with a malpractice attorney. Especially if I see you driving a luxury car or living the “lawyer lifestyle” because you can surely afford to defend a malpractice claim.
If a hiring colleague were to ask me about hiring a Class of 2016 law school graduate, I will advise her to pay slave wages. It’s supply and demand. I will tell them about IBR and PAYE and how it can be used to convince/force young graduates to accept low pay and forgo raises at least 10 years. If IBR is still around in 15 to 20 years, there will be lawyers with substantial experience who will gladly work for next to nothing in order to qualify for loan forgiveness!
I want to continue the fight to advocate the shutting down of profit seeking schools legal education reform. But I also believe that the time is right to start putting equal responsibility on those who choose to attend law school despite knowing the risks. I hope that my friends and colleagues will agree and begin to shame those who go to law school for the wrong reasons.
So go at your own risk and I wish you luck. But don’t come to me for help if you fuck up your life.