Skip to comments.Don't go to law school!
Posted on 01/05/2010 10:28:46 PM PST by NJ sux
Don't go to law school (and if enrolled, drop out)
(Excerpt) Read more at bigdebtsmalllaw.wordpress.com ...
Much noise is made about ethics in the hallowed halls of legal academia. All ABA schools require mandatory classes in professional responsibility, empower honor councils of fellow students, and even devote an entire examination (the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam) to the subject. A hapless One L caught writing 0.0009 seconds after time is called may be summarily hauled before a dean, dressed down, and have permanent doubt cast upon their moral fitness for entry into this exalted industry. Some even need to retain lawyers to explain these heinous transgressions to the Character and Fitness Committees of their respective state bars three years hence.
Yet is seems that the law schools themselves may need a refresher course when it comes to ethics and honesty. That same crowned dean who sits regally in judgment of his students is held to a far different standard in the discharge of his own duties. He can supply patently false employment statistics to US News and molest salary data like a sleep-over party at the old Neverland Ranch, yet encounter nary a peep of admonition from his peers. He may install recent grads in temp assignments to fudge employment stats, hound the few success stories for salary data while blindly ignoring the struggling also-rans, and publish slick admissions brochures that brazenly broadcast these self-serving lies. The stakes are high, after all: a rise of a few rankings slots in US News can mean big bonus bucks for the perpetrators of this fraud and a lifetime of crushing debt for the victims of same.
This double standard is not only the height of hypocrisy; it is downright wrong. If publicly traded companies engaged in the type of statistical chicanery and elastic truth-stretching that the legal education racket routinely engages in, newspapers would scream with the scandal. Heads would roll. Lest we forget, young people are borrowing well into six-figures of non-dischargeable debt based on patently bogus statistics and purely false promises. As we write, third and fourth tier law schools regularly list average starting salaries in the mid 80s, and report employment numbers that bear scant relationship to reality. Law student lemmings are led down the Yellow Brick Road of this fantasy-plagued scam, only to find the sorcerer at the end is a grizzled old clown behind a thin curtain, working some smoke and mirrors. Todays law school deans are the modern day Wizards of Oz. They know full well (perhaps better than anyone) the gruesome market and long-shot odds that their grads will soon face, yet allow personal greed to trump all tenets of honesty and fair disclosure. And no, you cant get away with blaming the recession for the struggles of your grads. Not here. We graduated in 2005, at the zenith of American economic hegemony, and faced a market not significantly different from what exists today. The truth is this: Small firms in most US markets pay south of 50 K, offer minimal (if any) health benefits, and provide baptism by fire training at the expense of clients who can ill afford it. A brief Digression:
Im not just a click monkey or self-entitled malcontent. No, I havent spent my entire legal career, as it were, in the sub-basements of Biglaw. In fact, I worked sixty-hour weeks for two years as an associate at one of the most infamous personal-injury boiler rooms on the island of Manhattan, out there daily in the trenches of practice. My starting salary from a solid 2nd tier school, top 1/3 of the class (and top 15% after first year) was a whopping 45 K, with a Third World health plan to which I contributed $200 a month. I have taken and defended over 200 depositions, picked 14 juries first-chair (and taken two of these turds thru to verdict by myself with one 21 K win), and appeared in NYC Supreme and Civil Courts to argue countless motions and other papers more times than I can count. One would think that this experience would have some serious value, right?
Dead wrong. First off, the trial experience scam. For starters, about 0.0000001% of shitlaw fender-bender cases ever get as far as trial. Under NYs tough threshold law, most accident lawsuits are dismissed outright for failure to state a serious injury under NY Insurance Law 5101(d). The few winners with significant injuries (broken bones, paralysis, etc) usually settle long before trial since most of the time the insurance policies are but a mere pittance (25 K state minimum or less). Much is read about 18 million dollar verdicts, and pre-law lemmings get excited doing the math, but the harsh reality is that you cant take what folks dont have. Your client could have a broken neck with halo traction and spinal fusion surgery, but if the car that struck him carried a 25 K policy with Allstate and the defendant is a Haitian cabdriver who lives in a cardboard box, I wish you good luck in collecting said judgment. And even getting access to these gutter cases is tough: most rinky-dink PI lawyers engage in criminal kickback arrangements where the case is referred by a medical mill that staged said accident and then engaged in bogus treatment to rip off the no-fault system before selling the PI lawyer the injury part of the case on a points-kickback system. You wont learn this in One L torts, but after about five minutes in actual practice it will all start to make sense. The tiny handful of decent, legitimate cases usually go to firms with six-figure advertising budgets, not struggling recent grads. Sadly, most new shingle hangers will be quickly hung out to dry.
Im also sick of hearing all the lectures about building experience in these 45 K gutter jobs. News bulletin: my landlord doesnt accept experience points in lieu of rent payments. Sallie Mae likewise deemed my experience points non-negotiable when proffered to pay my loans. So saddled with debt are todays grads that the salaries offered by small-law are simply impossible to survive on even if one wanted to try. And the experience gained from shitlaw just leads to more dead-end shitlaw at miniscule salary increases. In insurance defense, one can metaphorically lateral from McDonalds to Burger King, but you aint gonna be chef at Waldorf anytime soon. Theres an endless supply of losers with the experience to cut n paste this low-end garbage and show up in kangaroo court to bicker over these turd cases. Thus, huge firms like Sullivan can walk into the middle of a doc review project (as they did recently) and cut all the coders pay by $2 an hour knowing that no one will leave. Theres nowhere else to go. That $2 may not mean much to these repulsive pigs, but to many recent grads its an electric bill payment or student loan that now has to enter forbearance. In a 160 hour month its $320 before taxes, after all. Multiplied by all the coders in that sewer, the partners can treat themselves to an extra round of golf or new drapes for the mansions in Greenwich.
And trials aside, the rest of the court appearance experience in injury cases are a complete joke. Preliminary and status conferences are just ways to waste time, and all one does is fill out carbon-paper stips that set deposition dates and other filing deadlines. A lobotomized circus chimp could do as well as most newbie law grads in this endeavor. One notorious insurance defense firm actually sent one of those tuxedo-clad monkeys that you can rent for kids birthday parties to a status conference once on a trip and fall matter. The judge didnt even notice as the puckish primate honked his tin horn and hurled feces at the other shit-lawyers in the bullpen. I think the little fellow may have been a NYLS grad, but Im not positive. Last I saw of him he was supplementing his pathetic insurance-defense income by playing a miniature accordion in the L train station on First Avenue.
As evidenced by the above, thats why most personal injury & insurance defense mills in NYC pay 40 K or less to new grads (and the rest just cheat and send secretaries or paras to court to sign the toilet paper stips that pass for pleadings in this gutter area of law). Go ahead and scan NYC craigslists legal services section right now and count the hordes of older lawyers begging for per-diem work at $50 an appearance. Some of them will even mow your lawn and perform other non-legal work on the side. All new grads should pay a visit to the courtrooms of personal injury before plunking down the seat deposit. Just swing by CCP on the first floor of Kings Supreme or the dreaded landlord-tenant part over on Livingston Street. Lawyers who reek of cheap booze and look like they woke up on a subway grate haggle and bicker over $125 cases and, when it gets too loud, the court officer resorts to hammering a stapler inside a metal trashcan to get everyone to quiet down. Usually the air conditioner is broken. The elevators are as packed as a Springsteen concert and contain more disease-causing microbes than a biological warfare lab. The Republic of Myanmars court proceedings probably unfold with more dignity and decorum than what is seen in Kings Un-Civil Court on a daily basis.
Here in 2009, Americas legal system is the laughingstock of the entire Western world. From the infamous McDonalds cup of coffee case to the Sarb-Ox sideshow to the asleep at the switch SEC, no other nation subscribes to the parasitic, money-sucking, time-wasting circus that is law in the U.S. Its really downright comical. An example: From my first week of law school, Ive often dreamt of being a fly on the wall at a meeting of the Bluebook committee. Those august Harvard 3 Ls and the tweed jacket profs who guide them, bereft of their briar pipes thanks to politically correct smoking bans which they themselves have championed. One can hardly imagine the heated debates about whether to underline punctuation marks in case citations or establish the font size employed when quoting Kings Bench cases from the fourteenth century. What a war room it must be! These nerds make Steve Urkel look like George Clooney. Really, how could mankind possibly conceive of a more pointless, boring, and all-around worthless waste of time? And lets not kid ourselves, folks: behind this pedantic, tedious time-wasting is the sad realization that 99.98% of this shit is just totally fucking pointless. Its like a mania that borders on autism: one could glean as much from memorizing a White Pages phone directory a la Rain Man as studying for the MBE or reading the Bluebook.
Most hilarious is the new Legal Rebels campaign spawned by the American Biglaw Association (ABA). Cry me a river for the recently laid-off AmLaw crew and their well-padded plight. Heres a newsflash assholes: youre about as rebellious as a 19 year old lesbian womens studies major at Barnard pedaling her bicycle to a Natalie Merchant concert. Remember the Happy Days episode when Ralph Malph borrowed Fonzies leather jacket to impress a chick? It didnt work for him, did it? You were never cool and certainly never rebels, as evidenced by your inaugural video of a twitchy 37 year-old geek who needs a hairpiece reading his manifesto straight into the camera, Unabomber style. Your rule of law plank and its hallowed relationship to civilized society is especially side-splitting! Surely you jest? Im sure wed quickly revert to cave-dwelling and pissing in chamber pots without such legal chestnuts as UCC-§2-207 and ERISA and the rest of the cash-sapping, needlessly complex, paper-pushing plagues that this parasitic joke of an industry extracts from its hosts.
We here at Big Debt are launching a quiet rebellion. Like Bartleby the Scrivener, we simply prefer not to. We prefer not be crammed elbow to elbow in document review gulags for less money than an ex-con gets paid to stamp holes in sheet metal. We prefer not to run around toilet courts and haggle over $500 whiplash cases for 45 K a year and no health benefits. Our sole purpose is to dissuade, deter and prevent more hapless lemmings from repeating the mistake of law school. Law has no rewards. Instead of pots of gold, youll find only piles of shit.
Law is 4 Losers, August 2009
Stay at a Holiday Inn Express instead!!!
I suggested he might apply under the provisions of the ADA...
You should have seen the faces of the 20somethings who had just graduated from undergrad and were sitting in first year torts dreaming of multimillion dollar settlements when I suggested to the Dean of the Law School (who was teaching torts that year) that the only sure tort reform would be to make all attorneys state employees on a fixed pay scale and do away with contingency fees.
You would have thought I’d sacrificed a virgin right there in class...
Ping for later...but I totally agree with the premise.
LOL!! Excellent rant! I’ve read many of these “don’t go into law” manifestos lately (it does seem to be a growing movement) but this is the best. Particularly fun to read since I am soon happily retiring from BigLaw (paralegal)after 24 years. I’ve seen it all. Never a dull moment, interesting work and good pay as long as you are available to work 24/7 and have no hopes of every having an outside life!
American capitalism is being systematically destroyed by this cesspool full of leeches.
More good could be done in America by closing law schools than in any other single action one could imagine.
Thanks gang, glad you’re enjoying the blog. Please fwd my blog’s link to ANYONE & EVERYONE you know who may be considering law school.
Also, please write your congressman/senators and tell them to withdraw Stafford funding for law school. You taxpayers are picking up the tab for the billions in law student loans that are NEVER getting paid back!
Except maybe schools of social work...
I don’t know where you went to law school or when you graduated, but law school isn’t the same any more, either. They don’t have classes or tests the way they did on that tv show about law school. They no longer study precedent. It’s all court room experience and grades are handed out like candy because if you don’t get good grades, you don’t get top jobs. A young woman that I know said that she couldn’t get below a B+, so she decided to slack off and let the other students fight over the top grades, she planned on working in Indian court, anyway. You don’t even have to pass the bar to work in Indian court and she makes over sixty thousand a year. You might look into that. It sounds pretty easy.