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Law school applications drop from 100,000 to 54,000

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Jeff_Carroll, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. Jeff_Carroll

    Jeff_Carroll New Member

    As a former sports writer who recently made the transition - which almost seemed like a standard career step for a while there in the journalism profession - I thought this story in today's NYT was really interesting:


    Some money lines:

    * Applications are down from 100,000 in 2004 to just 54,000 today.

    * "Last spring, the American Bar Association released a study showing that within nine months of graduation 2011, only 55 percent of those who finished law school found full-time jobs that required passage of the bar exam."

    I graduated law school this past May, and began when applications were actually on the rise (because of the recession), so it's quite interesting to see this trend. I'm not sure if this is still considered a viable escape hatch for some people here, but I'm happy to field questions about it, either on this thread or via PM if you're more comfortable with that.

    There have been a few law school threads around here, but this particular story seemed worth its own discussion. Or perhaps not. Looking at the figures in the Times piece, perhaps no one is going this route any more, and the thread will die on the vine pretty quickly. Someone else can start the medical school thread then.
  2. Amy

    Amy Well-Known Member

    I struggle when people ask me whether they/their kids should consider law school. While I was fortunate to have stumbled into a successful career, I know that it hasn't worked out that well for everyone from my class - and I graduated back when things were good.
  3. Jeff_Carroll

    Jeff_Carroll New Member

    Amy, there are some very specific choices I would recommend to anyone considering it, beginning in their undergrad years. Some of these choices I made, some I did not:

    * Double major in a hard science (patent law!) and a rigorous humanity, preferably philosophy or economics. Political science and English maybe, just maybe, but really the philosophy and economics undergrad majors were the people who really seemed to be able to put together arguments and speak extemporaneously in class right off the bat.

    * Kill your undergrad grades. I mean absolutely kill them. This is probably the toughest for anti-estabishment journalists to grasp, as we frequently roll our eyes about grades, to the point that it's a badge of honor to log a 2.5 but spend 70 hours a week at the school paper.

    * Kill your LSAT. I'm talking high 160s, preferably 170 and above (98th percentile, I think). A lot of people fail at this step, and it's completely preventable. Another tip: If you can buy a prep book at Barnes & Noble, it isn't worth the paper it's printed on. Use it as toilet paper and buy better prep material, because it exists.

    * There are only about 15-20 schools you should probably consider attending, in this climate. A sizable scholarship and geographic concerns may mitigate this.
  4. Webster

    Webster Well-Known Member

    In 1993, I graduated with $75,000 in debt. I was lucky not to have undergaduate debt and between grades, school quality and the economy, I knew that getting a job wasn't really an issue.

    But despite making a market salary, I struggled financially for the first few years after school because of the debt. Schools are getting more expensive, jobs are not out there and salaries at what jobs there are have stayed flat. I am not sure that I would have made the same choice today if I were facing 2-3x the debt.
  5. printit

    printit Member

    Agree with all this, just want to add that a great LSAT and mediocre grades will be looked at much better than great grades and a mediocre LSAT.
  6. Jeff_Carroll

    Jeff_Carroll New Member

    And as kind of a side note to that, once you are already in law school and interviewing for jobs, your law school grades are what matter, not your undergrad grades. I think I was asked just once for my undergrad transcript, and I interviewed at about 20 places at our campus job fair. That day was hilarious, as everyone was scrambling to get in touch with their undergrad schools to get an old transcript stat. I have a good friend who is clerking on the Court of Appeals who went back to law school after 8-10 years working in advertising. He said whenver a judge would ask for undergrad grades, he wouldn't even bother to apply because he couldn't fathom how that reflected on him now.
  7. Webster

    Webster Well-Known Member

    Jeff is correct, law is probably the most resume conscious profession that I've seen, so unless you are going to knock it out of the park at a second tier school, you are always at a major detriment to a below average student at a first tier school.

    My college girlfriend, who was smarter than me and who had slightly better grades than I did at the same major at the same school, took a full ride at a "lesser" school. She was ranked higher in her class than I was at my law school (although my school was too fancy to deign to rank students) but she had a harder time getting a job, just because of the comparative reputations of the school.
  8. Amy

    Amy Well-Known Member

    The one thing I do advise is to go to the best law school you can get into and afford.

    I got into what was an obscure specialty in 1983 that later became a specialty in demand, so was able to build my career and find good jobs despite going to a lousy law school. I've been in my current job since 1995. There is no way I would be hired today without a fancy pedigree.
  9. printit

    printit Member

    That's interesting because that's been the complete opposite of my experience. I find that most employers (not talking the biggest of the big here, or federal jobs) are more interested in location. The top 10 at the local law school will have a huge edge over the middle of the pack person at the bigger law school. The caveat is that the local law school still has to be Top 100 or so. Fourth tier law schools are stealing your money and third tier law schools can be a danger. But I would bet that the person who finishes first in his/her class at the 80th best law school in America will get a better job then the person who finishes 60th in his/her class at the 30th best law school in the country.
  10. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    This topic interests me a lot because my daughter is a college sophomore with political aspirations and she is thinking law school after graduation.

    So how large are these "tiers?" I was just checking the US News and World Report rankings (which I'm assuming are among the more reputable) and the law school at the university she attends is ranked just outside the top 50 (it has an almost identical position among national universities in the undergrad rankings, incidentally). Is that a "second tier" law school? How deep is the first tier?

    She is currently working on a double major in economics (has to do with those political aspirations) and communications (her debate team coach is the chairman of the department and convinced her it's a great major to prep for law school) with a minor in Spanish. It's a pretty heavy load, but I'm thinking it's probably still lighter than what she'll have to handle if she goes to law school.

    Anyway, I'm learning a lot from your discussion. Please carry on.
  11. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    After being laid off in 2008, I seriously considered going to law school. My brother, who did so and was a practicing attorney, basically talked me out of it by telling me all his horror stories.

    Fast forward five years and both of us have burned through jobs and are on the outside looking in. Big difference is I'm not straddled with $200,000 in student loan debt for the sake of a career I don't really enjoy.
  12. qtlaw

    qtlaw Well-Known Member

    After 24 years into my legal career, most important bit of advice I'd have is, law is a career, NOT A MEANS TO AND END.

    If you do not enjoy the career, you are going to resent your law school experience, whatever the price tag and you will be miserable. There are plenty of lawyers making huge $$ (not me) but they actually relish the challenges.

    As for the tiers, a top 20 (nationwide) school is very prestigious and will get you into big, prestigious firms with high paying salaries initially but then there will be a lifestyle choice because they want work hours for those salaries.

    Anyone considering law schools has to look at whether a lower tier school is worth it; if you go that route, you'll still be able to find employment but it will be a different level of employment. Look at where the graduates from those schools work and consider that when deciding if attending will be worth it.

    My classmates went to top firms throughout the world and (higher reaches of govt. and the judiciary) have done very well; I kinda like my weekends and evenings so I went for something else, a smaller firm. Its worked out great for me and my family; same for most of my friends.

    You want to go to a great school? Like Carroll said, GREAT GRADES AND GREAT LSAT scores; independent of your degree choice. (I went from engineering to economics because it was easier for me to get As; turns out even though a B in Engineering was tougher to get than an A in Econ, admissions did not care (I was on admissions committee in law school)).
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