Thursday, October 22, 2009

Update on My Visit to the Law School Fair

I was only able to hand out a few leaflets before someone from the school told me that I cannot distribute pamphlets at a university function. I gave my folder over to this person, and told him that I would head inside. I picked up my folder afterward.

I talked to reps/salespeople from the following schools: Albany, Cardozo, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexico, Pace, Roger Williams, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Touro, UCLA, Utah, and Whittier. I also picked up materials from Columbia, Pitt, and Villanova. I did not drop by the Drake table, but I noticed that the salesperson was someone I had never seen before.

As you can see, I intentionally dropped by some of the worst toilet law schools. And, of course, their salespeople were the most aggressive. These schools touted their location, clinical programs, internships, externships, alleged history, and other “accomplishments.” The saleswoman from Albany told me that “Albany is the only private law school in upstate New York.” (Wow - you got me. I wish I had gone there instead.)

The sales lady from Cardozo informed me that “The Innocence Project was started at Cardozo, not that school in Chicago.” The recent grad from Whittier was very excited, as he told us how strong the criminal defense program is at Whittier and how much he loves working for his criminal defense firm. He is still waiting on the California Bar results.

The salesman from Roger Williams was very likable. He even told me - with a straight face - “Our students have not felt the effects of the economy as much as other schools, because we have such a strong connection with the public sector. We are also the only law school in Rhode Island.” These are selling points?!?! The sales associate at Pace gave me the virtues of the location, i.e. “We are 30 minutes from Manhattan. In fact, several rail lines go directly from White Plains to New York. Several Pace students live in the boroughs.”

The ONLY straight-shooter of the entire bunch was the student rep manning the table for UCLA. When I asked him about response rates, he said “I was told that it is 99%. When I first heard that, I said ‘That can’t be right.’” When I asked about median salaries, he replied, “The salary info is probably skewed upward because those with high incomes almost always report back to the school.” (This is the same Top 15 school where a relative of mine just graduated from in May. The guy still does not have a job lined up.)

I had at least 3 salespeople tell me that no one else asked about response rates to graduate surveys. There were also lots of lemmings in attendance, which was to be expected.

I asked the salesladies at the University of Utah about response rates. They said “100 percent.” When I asked how that is possible, the younger woman said, “Because I’ll hunt them down. I was a lawyer, so I know how to track people down.” Yeah, that was real convincing. I then asked, “Which organization or firm audits your employment or salary figures?” They looked at me and said, “We audit our own statistics.” I did this in front of about ten other students who were checking out the school’s materials.

With regard to prospective law students, several told me that “Law school is a recent idea for me. That’s why I’m here today, to learn more.” It was also funny how fast the law school salespeople jumped on these students. Actually, it was disgusting. “These kids don’t know what to with their lives at this point in their college career?!? Let jump on them and lure them in with our glossy brochures, DVDs, slick sales techniques, and false and misleading employment statistics and salary figures. They don’t know any better, anyway.”

The highlights of the fair - well, the saleswomen from St. John’s and Kansas were pretty hot. Also, the woman from Seton Hall asked me right up front, “Have you heard of Seton Hall?” And I quipped, “Yeah, I’ve heard of Dean Hobbs and Scott Bullock.” But like a true professional, she went on with her sales pitch, without flinching or skipping a beat (and without reporting me to the front desk). I also enjoyed seeing the responses from some of the sales reps when I asked about audits, self-reporting, response rates, how the average salary is determined, how the median differs from the average, etc. In particular, the salesladies at Indiana and New Mexico need to work on their sales techniques. Professionals should not lose their cool that easily over a simple question.


  1. You've inspired me to do the's just a matter of finding a law school fair like this in my area.

  2. Great post, nando!

    I wish there was some way people like you and the others with these blogs, and the rest of us who know the "truth," could band together to demonstrate against these snake oil salesmen and saleswomen.

    I bet a protest like that, of unemployed and underemployed "lawyers," WOULD get media attention.

    I have continued to point people to your blog whenever the chance arises.

    What about starting a "Law School Scam" webring? I'm trying to think of ways to get through to "aspiring lawyers."

  3. Nando, you're my hero for risking this and going to a place where you were clearly not welcome. The truth isn't welcome in a place where they are trying to give students information. This is truly a sham. I wish it would get more press attention. Lawyers does not equal job or money or stability. I'm not even a recent grad and I'm unemployed and, by the look of my job hunt, fucked. Keep up the good work. It's my personal crusade as well. All of those law schools suck because a school is only as good as its students' long term career prospects.

  4. BRAVO!!!

    This is an incredibly brave action, and very very effective at stopping whats going on.

    I did something very similar down here in Australia, handed out about 15 leaflets at a postgraduate information evening. Before that, in July, I handed out about 10 leaflets.

    WELL DONE. And everyone else, please consider doing the same.

  5. Good work Nando. Keep it up! The truth must come out.

    Ironically, the least misleading school on your list is IU. Strange that they didn't send someone pimping the fact that they are T25 and half the cost of any private school. Suppose cost is not real impressive when you have 40%+ of the class unemployed and 70%+ underemployed.

  6. I am inspired to do the same. A couple of months ago I received a phone solicitation from my law school seeking a donation. The young man on the phone was an undergraduate student at the university. I asked him about his major and he said he was studying political science. He also told me that he also was planning on going to law school, just like I had. We had a long chat. I let him know why much of the advice he had received was incorrect. He was very receptive when it came to my advice about the debt and how it would affect his life, or at least how it has affected mine. He had one of the worst jobs on campus so I knew he was not a trust fund kid and would be paying himself.

    I am not sure if I changed his mind completely, but I gave him a lot of advice on asking the right questions about salary reporting and employment figures. I think I at least convinced him to change his undergrad major. In any event, my alma mater did not receive a dime in contributions. My good old university also paid this kids salary while I hopefully convinced him not to attend their law school. I hope everyone takes this small step when they receive a similar solicitation. The status quo cannot be allowed to continue.

  7. I guess I am one of those aspiring law students that you are trying to dissuade. But even though you have not dissuaded me from applying to law school, I wanted to let you know that I really appreciate the effort you and others like you are making to educate prospective law students about the risks of going to law school. Reading blogs like yours has convinced me to consider the decision very carefully, and that I need to be prepared to walk away or at least wait a year if I do not do as well as expected on the LSAT (taking it for the first time in December) and do not get into a T14 school or get substantial scholarship money at a T50 school ranked below the T14. Even if I do achieve one of those two objectives, I will consider very carefully whether it is worth giving up a job that pays well but has limited growth potential to go to law school. I appreciate your effort to raise awareness of the inaccuracy of employment statistics published by law schools, as knowing this will motivate me to study harder and do more networking if I do end up going to law school, rather than taking it as almost a given that going to a top school will guarantee a job.

    You might feel like I am a lost cause, since you have not outright dissuaded me from going to law school. But you have convinced me to really think about it carefully before jumping in, and to be more selective about which schools I am willing to pay sticker price for. So I hope that makes you feel like your efforts are worth something.

  8. I'd like to add one more time when you can "think" about whether or not to become a lawyer. Even if you score 175 on your LSAT and you get a substantial scholarship, if you aren't in the tope 20% of your class after 1st semester, withdraw from school and cut your loses. I have three friends that quit after first semester grades came in and they don't regret it all. Those first semester grades will determine your whole future.

  9. Amen, Angel. The first semester grades are all determinant of your legal destiny. People already start applying for the prestigious summer clerkships in the second semester of the first year. All they really have to stand on are those first year grades. Never mind that you already have it figured out your second semester.

    Law school is one of the only schools that assigns homework before the first day.

  10. democrattotheend: I don't think you're a lost cause (as long as you REALLY are willing to look at the potential downsides of law school). And please avoid sites like TLS and LifeAt160 - these sites are dominated by other pre-law students who have NO CLUE about the legal profession.

    Angel, as a former Biglaw attorney, is a much better resource for someone in your position. She graduated from law school nearly a decade ago, and she is currently unemployed.

    Just be FULLY aware that there is a good chance that a law degree will result in you working in the same job you are currently at. Is this really worth the opportunity costs (i.e. three years of lost/reduced income) and more student loans to pay back?

    Also realize that a JD will limit your future job prospects, as potential non-law employers will wonder why you would be willing to pass up a "high-paying legal job" to work there. Even JAG positions are EXTREMELY competetive now. Make the best-informed decision you can.

  11. I graduated New Mexico Law and wouldn't put them in the same boat as the others. I got to practice in court as a student and wound up with a real nice job after law school. I know a ton of people that did the same.


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