Thursday, July 29, 2010

Profiles in Intellectual Dishonesty - “Associate Professor of Law” Ilya Somin

Look, there is a bimodal distribution of pay among recent JDs! The mean, adjusted mean and average figures do not tell us much, as 34% of those who reported their income made between $40K and $65K. And 25% or 4,878.25 graduates reported incomes of $160,000 or more. Also, what about the MANY who are working part-time?!?!

“However, because some large law firm salaries cluster in the $160,000 range while many other salaries cluster in the $40,000–$65,000 range, relatively few salaries were actually near the median or mean, as the Jobs & JDs report details.” [Emphasis mine]

And look, although there were 44,000 JDs pumped out for the Class of 2009, the graph is based on ONLY 19,513 salaries. Why would that be?!?! After all, fully 36,046 respondents reported being employed in some capacity – within 9 months of graduating from law school. Who knows? Perhaps many recent attorneys and JDs were too humble or embarrassed to report their high incomes to NALP, right?!?! (For instance, I was too meek to report that Jessica Alba unbuttoned my shirt with her teeth and threw me on the bed last night.)

Here is Ilya’s weak-ass analysis of bimodal distribution of lawyer pay:

“The relevant time horizon for lawyers, however, is the entire 30 to 40 year period of their expected career. On that score, it is difficult to make any precise forecasts. Still, the continued growth in the scope and complexity of law suggest that the demand for legal services is likely to rise. The demand for lawyers is inevitably closely tied to the growth of government and law.

Furthermore, the NALP data for the class of 2009 show that the median graduate has a salary of about $72,000; in other words, 50% of first year lawyers can expect to make that much or more. Even if you adjust the figure downward a little to reflect reporting rates skewed in favor of large firms, you still get a level of perhaps $65,000 based on the formula that NALP used to recalculate the mean salary (reducing the initial estimate by about 9%). That’s not bad for an entry level salary in the middle of a deep recession.”
[Emphasis mine]

Ilya, what about the tons of attorneys who never have the chance to practice law? Also, if law were such a great profession, why aren’t YOU out there putting your skills to use?!?! Instead, you teach “legal theory.” Don’t forget the number of lawyers who willingly leave the industry before the 5-10 year mark. What about the fact that the law school Class of 2009 had 44,000 members – competing for 28,901 jobs requiring bar passage? Apparently, Ilya is also not familiar with legal outsourcing. AND DON'T FORGET THE IMMEN$E DEBT LOAD TAKEN ON BY THE MAJORITY OF LAW STUDENTS, IN THIS COUNTRY.

"The combination of the rising cost of a legal education and the realities of the legal job market mean that going to law school may not pay off for a large number of law students. Dean David Van Zandt of Northwestern Law School estimates that to make a positive return on the investment of going to law school, given the current costs, the average law student must earn an average annual salary of at least $65,315.12 As the data above show, however, over 40% of law school graduates have starting salaries below this threshold. Thus, many students start out in a position from which it may be difficult to recoup their investment in legal education. Even students who do ultimately prosper over the course of a career face difficulties from high debt loads during the beginning of their career. High debt can limit career choices, prevent employment in the public service sector, or delay home ownership or marriage. In short, going to law school can bring more financial difficulty than many law students expect." [Emphasis mine]

“A good rule of thumb is that your total education debt should be less than your expected starting salary. If you borrow more than twice your expected starting salary you will find it extremely difficult to repay the debt.” [Emphasis mine]

So how many recent law grads will be able to reasonably afford to pay back their $160K in NON-DISCHARGEABLE student loans on their $45K salaries, Ilya?!?!

Apparently, Ilya only makes $130K as an “associate professor of law” at George Mason University’s public law school. However, he has also taught as a “visiting professor” at several law schools. Despite what he says, the little rat is CLEARLY looking to serve his own $elf-intere$t.

In the final analysis, Ilya Somin is engaging in intellectual dishonesty. How likely is it that a “law professor” is stupid enough to believe that fully half of all recent law grads can “EXPECT” to earn $72K? He is DELIBERATELY choosing to ignore reality of the bimodal salary distribution. In fact, he is FULLY AWARE that U.S. law schools are producing far too many JDs.

“Who are the real culprits in this disaster? The law schools, because they know how awful the job market is, and they're acting like it's still 2006. If an investment is risky, the SEC requires disclosure language, right? So shouldn't law schools tell students that their $100,000-plus investment might not pay off?”


  1. I have a hard time believing that the median starting salary for law school graduates everywhere is 65k.

    Does the calculation rely on voluntary compliance with a survey?

  2. The pro-industry types make this common argument: that a law career should be looked at from a 30-40 year perspective. They say that even if your starting salary at shitlaw is $15,000 a year, but you end up making $75,000 (for some odd reason) in subsequent years, the average salary during your earning years will be what NALP and law schools trumpet. These statistics are clearly self-serving. The industry should be ashamed!

  3. Law is a game of appearances: how many 'solo' practioners report they make 20,000 or poverty level with the hope of 1 big hit? Would you hire an attorney that made poverty wages? So Solo's lie and inflate thire numbers. Its easy to get the numbers Lawschools want when everyone's economic life depends on lying about the numbers. Its been like this since the late 70's.

  4. what the fuck is Mr. Bean doing teaching at this law school? Shouldn't he be teaching British constitutional law?

  5. Please profile Touro Law School, Fucksburg School of law....

  6. All the published data is already so distorted that it's easy to keep distorting them, with assumptions like 30-40 year careers (lol), and deliberately ignoring unemployed graduates.

  7. Free Lusty LarryJuly 29, 2010 at 9:20 AM

    Tell this rat/weasel to take $150K of his own money and 'invest' it in something that MIGHT have a positive return after 30-40 years. I suspect his position on that investment will be inconsistent with his article.

  8. Nando, is that a picture of the associate professor? You couldn't have found a dorkier looking douche. What this virgin looking troglodyte is saying is nothing new. Ttthomas Mengler said the same thing ("A law degree is a long-term investment that will pay off over a 30-40 year career."). The reality is that if you became a lawyer in 60's and 70's, you could practice for 30 to 40 years. During those times, the billable hour requirements were substantially less (40% less) than they are today. When you went home back then, you could relax. Now, you have to turn on the computer, read email and God forbid you turn off your blackberry. Practicing 30-40 years today is not realistic for an overwhelming majority of attorneys. Most lawyers want to leave the profession after 10 years. The legal profession kills you and I have seen many lawyers in their 50s either die of a heart attack or develop a disability (e.g., post traumatic stress, dementia, etc.) that prevents them from practicing law. People are living longer today but they do so by avoiding stress and by engaging in a healthy lifestyle. Being a lawyer is not healthy (e.g., high sodium ramen noodle diet, 5-6 hours of daily sleep, high caffeine and sugar intake, no time for exercise being anchored to a chair, etc.). The only way you are going to practice law for 30 to 40 years is if you get a cushy government job and nowadays these positions are as elusive as the "lottery" prize biglaw jobs. These law school administrators/professors are full of shit.

  9. I'll defend his comments to a very small extent- I have a couple former classmates who are working for peanuts; in the $20/ hour range. However, both are gaining valuable experience. So, 9 months out of law school, their salaries are about $40K. But one's in court nearly every day for a solo practitioner, and one's in BK court at least twice a week. Within 3 years, both should be making six figures with new jobs, and there are *plenty* of jobs for people with a sweet spot of 3-5 years of experience. The new employer doesn't have to pay a 250+K salary to someone who's very experienced, but at least pays $125K or so to someone who can hit the ground running without significant training.

    Now, that being said, those guys worked REAL hard to get those $22/ hour jobs. Well, one guy worked real hard and the other was fixing bikes in a high end bike shop when he overheard some lawyers saying they needed a clerk. Call it a combo of luck and skill.

    So there's a tiny bit of truth to what that guy's saying- look at the overall income over the lawyer's lifetime.

    The reported salary numbers are still garbage though.

  10. @10:29AM

    I think it's great that your two friends are getting legal experience. However, small firms, and to some extent mid-sized firms (depending on the regional market) will not pay six figures after 3 years of experience. Most small firms only need bodies to cover cases in court. Just because your friends are in court everyday doesn't mean they are getting skills. Any monkey can make an appearance at an immigration master hearing, answer a calendar call in state or bankruptcy court. Does that mean their stock will rise in three years for doing the same thing? Hardly. I know many small firm partners that will fire and replace associates that will ask for a raise in this economy. I personally know of 6 firms in my city that have not increased salaries in 3 years. If an associate asks for a raise and threatens to quit, the firm says go ahead because there are thousands of unemployed lawyers willing to work more for less.

  11. Wasn't that guy Napoleon Solo's Russian sidekick in "The Man from UNCLE"?

  12. well, both these guys are doing actual litigation, doing research, writing briefs and pleadings, etc.

    Now, I realize even getting a job like that is very difficult, and of course it may not materialize into anything ever. But who knows?? At least they took the initiative and followed up on job leads and got *something*.

    Oh, and please don't call me an industry shill or apologist. All I'm saying is that there are *some* opportunities out there if you dig real deep, and definitely not enough to cover the 44K grads. The real resourceful, creative ones will find employment though.

    Oh, and here in the SF bay area, that experience probably will equal a 6 figure payday after 3 years or so of experience. Our public defenders start out at like 90K. Shoulda been more clear.

  13. Yes, but...I make $18 per hour (paralegal work) and don't make court appearances, don't have stress and don't take my job home with me. And I get off at 5 pm every day. I have a JD and wouldn't trade my job to "get to" go to court, write briefs and/or kiss a solo/small firm lawyer's ass just to call myself a "lawyer" for anything!

  14. To 4:00 am, remember that this is also based off only a mere 19,513 reported salaries – for the Class of 2009. Fully 36,046 respondents to the survey reported being employed in some capacity. Does this graph include part-time employees, or licensed attorneys not working in the legal industry?

    Don’t forget that the schools often prorate the “salaries” of those JDs employed temporarily in academic research positions. Also, note that many of the recent attorneys who responded to the salary question reported either earning between $40K-$65K, or making Biglaw money.

    9:59, that is the picture for this “associate professor”/weasel. The picture is from his George Mason University faculty profile.

    Evren, how do you figure someone working in toiletlaw, i.e. bankruptcy court, working for solo attorney, for three years making $40K will be able to command a $125K salary. Will Biglaw or midlaw firms throw money at these guys? How does being able to argue Chapter 11 for a client who has $18,000 in outstanding credit card debt help a corporate law firm that deals in mergers and acquisitions or complex litigation? Are the skills learned in toiletlaw, i.e. making court appearances, arguing motions, and meeting with low-income clients transferrable - or in demand – by large firms that are geared towards big dollar clients and transactional work?

    Also, if small law attorneys are in such demand after three years of experience, then WHY do so many solos stay in practice for themselves, making $40K-$50K per year?! Why do tons of thoroughly EXPERIENCED criminal defense solos jump at the opportunity to work for a Public Defender’s Office?!?! Could it be that these lawyers would be better off - financially, mentally and physically – by earning $43K and not needing to handle all of their secretarial duties? Seriously, these experienced, “battle-tested veterans” cannot wait to work for the state.

    Also, as others have pointed out, TONS of lawyers do not last more than 10 years in the “profession.” They get burned out, or they leave for greener pastures. TTThoma$ Mengler and Ilya would like us to focus on the length of a hypothetical lawyer’s career. Yet, Ilya wants it both ways – as he claims that FULLY HALF of all first year attorneys can EXPECT to earn $72K upon graduation.

  15. Law is an all or nothing profession. Forget the stories of those few who make 100k plus at some point, what do kids make those first 3-5 years out when they are having to pay back loans if they can even get a job? How many are working in non law because the money is probably as good with less stress and more stability?

    Even after getting that initial experience in law if you are so lucky and can land a decent paying job, you are not making that much and most lawyers I know in small and average sized cities not named NY and San Francisco(and please factor in the cost of living in these places when you say the PDs office pays 90k per year) are all trying to get any kind of State job whether its a Judgeship, DA position, PD office, or hell want to be full time mediators. They dont want to deal with the bs of practicing law and its no longer a shock to hear that someone who you always thought had tons of clients just signed up for a job with the State some 20 years after being in practice either solo or as partners with people they could care less about and is now happy to take that District Court Judgeship and all those traffic pleas day in and day out for job security and benefits that they did not have on their own.

    I know from experience that law is a dying profession for most. Yes there are elites who get all the big jobs and the status that comes with it and that will never change but how many of you are connected or get to go to Harvard or Stanford or shoot even University of Michigan for law school. My guess is the kids that go there already come from connected families.

    However these kids with no connections who take out huge loans to go to Shithead Law so they can land a job making paralegal type money to have their name on a letterhead are idiots. Yes you can get rich as a lawyer, but the odds are so slim and it requires further debt to start your own firm and mass market yourself hoping those big PI and comp cases will come to you. For this to happen your high dollar marketing skills have to hide your lack of experience. Every established firm I know, including mine, has seen their case loads dwindle over the years for many reasons.

    15 plus years in I would love to get out of this game and I have done better then most. If I had big loans to pay and was just five years or so out, how can you leave even if you make crap when you feel like you are on the cusp of big money? The carrot is never caught by most and then you end up dropping dead from stress.

    With the education costs going up, the opportunities and salaries going down no matter how these schools lie about statistics, combined with the delays in family and feeling stable why would you take out big loans while Mr. HVAC repairman, as intellectually challenged as he might be, has a house and a hot redneck wife and a big truck while at the same age you live with debt eating crap and killing yourself.

    Times change and the world changes, often too quickly for our own taste, but I am glad to see sites like this expose what is going on and how so many law school teachers and administrators are screwing people out of money for a profession they want no part of themselves because they cannot succeed at it.

    Yes law is like any profession where there are positives and negatives and a person can do real well, but the marketing of these schools has got to be exposed so new barely accredited schools will not keep being created. The only positive with that is maybe they will make a 5th tier of law schools so I can say I went to a 4th tier school and am no longer a graduate of a bottom tier crapper.

    Keep up the good work Nando.

  16. The ludicrousness of the legal industry is incredible.

  17. Nando:

    You are right its almost impossible to go from small law to Big Law and that the two require different types of experience. I think that Evrenseven meant that after a few years of small law experience, an attorney can start a practice, or join a partnership, and be on track to make 6 figures; not that they would parlay their small law experience for a 6 figure job in BigLaw (or a job anywhere else).

    Nando and crew seem to have a BigLaw or nothing attitude, calling everything else "shitlaw". Unfortunately that ship has sailed for you. You should all forget that BigLaw even exists.

    The decision you have to make is whether to try to make a career in small law or seek a corporate career. Both have advantages and opportunity costs. A serious corporate career, like BigLaw, is hard to break into. I don't know what kind of non-legal corporate job you have, but I doubt that it will lead to being a managing director of an I-bank, VC or hedge fund in 10 years. Most likely its a middle manager "shitcorporate" job where, for your entire career, you'll report to a boss and make no more than $100k a year.

    If you stick to small law, even for little initial money, you may have more long term income opportunities. The difference between a $30k/yr and $500k/yr (yes they exist) small firm lawyer is not luck, or office politics, or nepotism, or law school quality/grades but simply hard work over many years.

    I agree with Nando about law school deception. But readers have to seriously consider the opportunity costs of leaving the law. Everyone must make an informed decision about what is right for them.

  18. To 2:59, I don't have a “Biglaw or bust” attitude. Frankly, many people attend law school with no intentions of becoming corporate lawyers. (Also, many practicing Biglaw attorneys suffer from high levels of stress, sleep deprivation, anxiety, and job dissatisfaction.)

    However, in light of the fact that legions of law students take on immense amounts of student loan debt, I try to inform pre-law students about the realities of such debt. For instance, it is foolish to take on $130K in non-dischargeable debt for *an opportunity* to land a job that may pay $40K per year.

    I am troubled when I see young people who see law school as a way for them to "save the world." This is simply not worth the debt for most. Unless you come from a wealthy family, or have a spouse who is willing to pay for your intellectual pursuit, you go to law school to earn a paycheck - and hopefully, enter a "profession."

    I see too many young, bright people who seem to think that an advanced degree will make them more marketable, and lead to better-pay. This is simply not the case, especially for those with liberal arts and humanities backgrounds. (Why would a business corporation want to hire someone with a B.A. in History and a law degree?) When I see “law professors” explicitly tell their students that they WILL make more money as a result of their decision to attend law school, I am going to call these people out. Such “educators” have shown that they do not care about the future outcomes of their students/customers. They simply see them as a way to suck more money out of the federally-backed student loan system.

    From an economic standpoint, a person making $35K per year with only $20K in student loans is better off than the typical recent law grad making $45K per year and $125K in student debt. (People can earn their Bachelor’s degree for about $20K in student loans - if they attend a public university and work while they are in school, to defray some costs.) The student loan payments alone will nearly eat up the difference in income. Don’t forget that the person earning $45K will be taxed at a higher rate, also.

    Under standard 30 year payment plans, set at 6.8%, the JD in the above scenario will pay $814.91 per month – or $9778.92 per year. This person would end up paying $293,693.48 in total payments, after 30 years. The person with only $20K in student loans will only pay $130.39 per month – or $1564.68 per year - for the next 360 months, at 6.8 percent interest. This person will also be in a MUCH better position to make extra payments and pay the debt off early.

    In sum, prospective law students need to look at law school SOLELY as a financial investment. The main purpose of going to “professional school” is to land a job. The work world is not glamorous, but we work so that we can pay our bills, rent/mortgage, put food on the table, and take care of our other obligations.

  19. Nando:

    This is Anonymous 2:59. I'm actually in complete agreement on the points that you make. You do an important service towards in warning 0Ls about the law school scam.

    My comments were intended more for people that are already lawyers and are deciding whether to leave the profession or stay. Your comments seem to be directed more to prospective law students.

    You write well and have a good blog.

  20. 2:59, I actually was not trying to lecture you. So, I apologize if that is the way I came across to you. I was simply re-stating a premise of this blog. Unfortunately, too many law students think that if they don't land a $160K job, they can at least come out making $75K-$90K upon completion of their "legal studies."

    The NALP survey shows that this is clearly not the case. And Ilya Somin is engaging in self-deception and intellectual dishonesty by trying to explain away the bimodal salary distribution.

    Thank you for your comments and kind words. I try to make quality blog entries. I also devote a fair amount of time to fact-finding, and looking up IRS tax forms for these in$titution$ of higher learning. I realize that the trolls will look for any excuse to attack this site. At least, I can count on the facts to smash their spurious arguments into the ground.

  21. Nando:
    2:59 here. No offense taken. I’m sorry if my comments were a bit harsh.

    I stumbled across the scam blogs and they reminded me of when I was an unemployed TTTT grad, about a decade ago. My purpose in posting is to share my experience with new grads. Law schools teach absolutely nothing. I’m beginning to think that this is on purpose. How to actually practice of law is a trade secret passed on from mentor to apprentice, or kept within the family. This applies as much to small law as to big law. Small law can still be pretty lucrative; and reasonably low stress, if you know how to do it right. But no one will teach you.

    But this is beyond the scope of your blog, and possibly at cross purposes to it. Rather than parasitizing your comments, I should start my own blog on new grad survival, or something.
    Thanks for letting me post.

  22. Can we get another scam-blog? Sweet! And the summer of discontent continues.

  23. On Somin's Volokh article, lots of commenters nail his ass.

    "Mike says:

    I hate to tell you, there is no market for what you are producing, and the cost of your services is purely a function of a federal program that guarantees student loans that absolutely nobody in their right mind would ever otherwise extend in a FREE market. Do you think your institution would survive for ten minutes without FEDERALLY GUARANTEED STUDENT LOANS?

    Correct. And that should end the discussion.

    Libertarian law professors are parasites on the federal government.

    I ain’t gonna hate the player, but what’s up with defending the game?"

    From the first Anonymous:

    "let’s have the other half of libertarianism, the part that makes it all work: ACCOUNTABILITY FOR FRAUD, which is a good description of all the bullsh*t fantasy numbers from NALP, career services, and the rest of the law school industrial complex. You are a very smart man and could do great providing legal services, if anyone outside academia would hire you. Care to try?

    This is the problem with too many libertarians: selective application of libertarian concepts. Regulation in the form of bar exams, bad. Reglation in the form of ABA barriers to entering a profession, bad. But what about out and out fraud by schools? Government subsidized loans distorting the market? Any sort of accountability for the harm imposed on third parties by incompetent lawyers? silence."

    If this man is a libertarian, his article truly makes him a hypocrite of the highest order.

  24. "Mr. HVAC repairman, as intellectually challenged as he might be, has a house and a hot redneck wife and a big truck while at the same age you live with debt eating crap and killing yourself."

    Nice one. I know exactly what you mean. We spend an extra 7 years in a classroom, while skilled tradesmen live in the same neighborhood we do. These guys have been learning and perfecting their trade, saving money, and earning a paycheck since a little after high school. As you point out I see that they often have hot redneck wives (and yes, redneck women can be incredibly hot). You know, the ones who get their monthly pedicure and have to decide whether to go with French tips or electric blue. They do the grocery shopping, yard work and maybe have a part-time job so they can have discretionary income. I'm not saying their life is ideal, but it sure beats the hell out of wasting 7 years of one's life in a futile pursuit. These guys may own their homes outright by age 45, while lots of 30 year old lawyers are still renting a shitty apartment. Thanks for cheering me up, guy.

  25. @9:47AM

    I have a client who owns a landscapping company. He came to the U.S. at the age of 18, did not attend college and did not take out any student loans. 20 years later, this guy is making just under a million a year and he owns a nice house, which is incidentally located on the same block that Peter Kalis, managing partner of KL Gates, lives on. The guy has a hot wife, drives a Range Rover and takes 4 vacations a year. He has no student loans or mortgage. This guy has the life. It amazes me how much people are willing to go into life lasting debt and live a miserable life just to be called a lawyer.

  26. To 10:13, I've heard a similar story about landscape company owners. I bet Peter Kalis envies him! Peter probably wishes he were home more!

  27. Hey, JDUnderdog's blog disappeared. What happened?

  28. Fernando, if you would stick to writing like you did in your last few comments here, you'd be a lot more effective.


  29. When people act civil, I treat them the same. I can even tolerate when a person states something that is flat-out wrong, as long as they don't persist in their delusions and stoop to insults. When someone has proven to be deliberately difficult, belligerent or abrasive, I respond in kind. Doug, you have never been part of the scam-blogging movement, and apparently that irritates you. We all know you have been offended by the toilet images on this blog. The people who read this blog ask for those photos. And they are accurate portrayals of the situation.

    Third tier toilets often charge students - including many of modest means - ridiculous sums in tuition and fees. These same schools provide their graduates and students with meager job prospects. The “professors” and administrators often make well into six figures. How do you square that with your sense of fairness? Do you want to see tons more poor people be strapped down with $140K in NON-DISCHARGEABLE DEBT? Such debt WILL lead to higher rates of depression, suicide, angst, fear, broken marriages and anxiety.

    Why are you so offended by such images, anyway? You are not a "professor of law" who is earning $170K per year on this scheme. You are not a law school administrator. And seeing that you are a non-traditional student, you will not be hired as a law firm associate or become a “law professor.” Also, your situation, i.e. a full scholarship to a local school, is the rarity. How many law students will walk away from law school relatively debt-free?

    Yet, you try to apply your case to the thousands of others out there. Apparently, you do want other pre-law students to ponder whether their decision to attend law school. But you get angry and hostile when someone else is trying to alert these same people, merely because they go about it in a different fashion. How does that make any sense? You and I simply do not agree on the tactics.

    For instance, you actually believe that law schools will comply with requests for accurate info. If the school’s had any integrity or ethics, they would have done so already. The schools would be more transparent in the publication of their employment and salary figures. The schools would provide the NALP with accurate info. However, there is no incentive for these institutions to do so. In fact, if accurate info was provided, less people might sit for the LSAT and apply to law school.

    The reality of the situation is this: (a) law schools are concerned with getting as many asses into their seats as they can; (b) the ABA keeps approving more law schools; (c) there has been a glut of attorneys and JDs for decades; (d) the “professors” and administrators live large off of the federally-backed student loan system; (e) law school tuition continues to SKYROCKET; (f) there is no corresponding demand for more lawyers, by the public; (g) U.S. law firms continue to outsource more legal work; (h) many States permit non-lawyers to engage in the practice of law, in certain circumstances; (i) the schools are paid up front – in full; (j) the student is taking on all the risk, as the debt is non-dischargeable; (k) the schools are not concerned with how many of their students are unable to land legal employment – after all, working at Sears counts as “employment” under NALP’s definition; (l) many recent practicing lawyers are not able to make ends meet; and (m) the law schools lie about the employment and salary figures – so they can entice even more people to take the plunge.

  30. ?

    But I don't want to be part of the scam-blog movement! As I've said from the beginning, if AFTER I attend and I think it's a scam, then I'll address it as such. If it isn't (or if it isn't any more of a scam than most other things out there), then I won't.

    The pics don't offend me at all. I think you may have me confused with someone else on that one.

    I've also NEVER tried to apply my situation to the thousands of others out there. I've stated clearly in every post I've ever made that I'm the exception and that for most other people I think law school is not a wise choice.

    What I did say is that, while I will be an old man when I graduate (if I graduate), I will not have the burden of debt weighing me down, so IF I decide to report on the scam, nobody can say I'm bitter because I'm in debt. Believe me, this whole thing will still be going on in four years, so I've got time to wait it out and give my view later.

    Where you are correct is that I totally disagree with your methods, at this point. The name-calling and other things you inject into your otherwise sound posts detract from what you are saying and you are only making yourself less effective. Furthermore, I think you've taken this template as far as it will go (and then some)...

    It really is the same thing every few days, but you just change the picture, the school name, and a few of the numbers.

    I'll tell you what--being that other people are now apparently getting in on the game of our back and forth (whether it is people posting as me, as you, as both, whatever) I suppose this has all gone on long enough. I still think JD Underdog was responsible for some of this (if there is a JD Underdog), but I'll leave you to your thing...a truce, if you will. I've got too much coming up that I need to do to take the time with these blogs anyway with potentially moving, reapplying to schools, etc. anyway.

    And again, as your comment above--much more effective. It's obvious you can do research and write well, so why let your emotions overshadow your reason in your writing? No need to respond--I'll likely not check back.


  31. Law school is a lottery, not a scam/ You buy a ticket for $140,000 (loans) - you graduate and the first drawing is to get into the Biglaw partnership track or sign on to shitlaw to go solo.
    Second drawing is at the '5 or out' in Biglaw or if as a shitlaw solo/partnership to win a COLLECTABLE and massive med mal, fraud or corporate gig so you can retire from Shitlaw to Florida to recount your war stories.
    If you make it to the Third drawing: You win a State judgeship, an overpadded retirement and social security to retirement or you take a massive heart attack and die.

  32. @7:45AM

    I disagree with you. Yes it is a lottery, especially when the topic turns to the $160K starting salary job at Biglaw. However, it becomes a scam when the schools misrepresent the stats. Let's say the state lottery officials publish that your chance of winning a million dollar jackpot is 1 in 25 million. Do you think it would be fraudulent if the state, in an attempt to raise additional revenue, reduces the odds to 1 in 10,000; thereby, engaging in fraud? Well that is what the law schools do.

    Nando, I have been reading your blog for a few months now. Unfortunately, the majority of law schools have always lied about their employment stats and starting salary figures. The only reason why this is coming to light is due to the economy and thanks to blogs such as yours. Keep up the good work. I really hope one day the Feds prosecute the law schools administrators for basically committing common law fraud, not only on the students but also the taxpayers (who are backing the loans that support the life of luxury that law professors and administrators enjoy).

  33. Nando, it's quite a novel concept that NOT earning an advanced degree will somehow make a person more desirable, as opposed to earning one. This is what your blog boils down to. Did you make this up by yourself, or did you have help?

    Unfortunately, this blog's focus is all about starting salaries and starting out. I would suggest that new lawyers should not be concerned with starting, but rather, the actual quality you provide AFTER you start.

    Even if you only make $40k right away, but you prove to be an excellent lawyer, you can probably name some big figures. There is always a VERY HIGH demand for good lawyers. Prove yourself first!!

  34. Tyson,

    Reading Comp fail.

    "Unfortunately, this blog's focus is all about starting salaries and starting out."


    Get it?

  35. dan,

    A little too textualist there! There is a big difference between what the blog SAYS it does and what the blog ACTUALLY does.

    If I cared to waste my time, I could find at least a post or two from every article (often from Nando himself) that references starting salary as a major components of the overall "scam."

    SCAM! Ha! I guess all of the industry professionals which predict 12% attorney growth over the next decade are all "in on it" too. OH! and every lawyer who has a job is also "in on the scam."

    Gotta wonder about those schizophrenic types.

  36. TYSON: "Unfortunately, this blog's focus is all about starting salaries and starting out."

    NANDO: “However, because some large law firm salaries cluster in the $160,000 range while many other salaries cluster in the $40,000–$65,000 range, relatively few salaries were actually near the median or mean, as the Jobs & JDs report details.” [Emphasis mine]

    Reading Comp fail? Tell us another one!

  37. Deceptive manipulation of salaries makes it hard to warn prospective students of the reality of starting out. Focusing on this is a means to the end of fighting propaganda that leads many unthinking applicants to willingly pay 40k a year to many diploma mills. No one is saying you are wrong to think you must earn your success. You are wrong to think that's the point of this blog though

  38. Dan,
    Let me straighten this out for you. Not only are salaries low to start, but salary growth can be minimal. Salaries for lawyers are just as stagnant as they are for the rest of the countries. It is not uncommon in small to mid sized firms to have raises of 1K to 3K a year... if that.

  39. Angel

    Wage stagnation is nothing new. It's been going on for 30 years in every industry. Most people just don't think about this in law because of the deceptive marketing and misconceptions. At least in law you can be your own boss, although with debt levels at 100k plus that's a super longshot

  40. There is always attorney positions open for good lawyers. For the shoddy lawyers...not so much.

  41. Tyson/Stupid,

    This blog is concerned with the economics of the decision to go to law school. The header goes along that line. If people do not meet these criteria, they may end up with LARGE amounts of NON-DISCHARGEABLE DEBT. Got that?!?! Or do I need to draw you a diagram, Tyson?

    This blog is not ALL about starting salaries. However, one's starting salary provides a decent baseline as to what that person can expect to earn in 5-10 years. Some toiletlawyer earning $35K-$40K will NOT suddenly be in demand by Biglaw. Hell, such firms will not even look at such a lawyer - as the skills learned in toiletlaw do not prepare one for transactional, corporate work. Furthermore, Biglaw partners and their big dollar clients care about prestige. They want associates with the "right" credentials, i.e. Ivy League law graduate, the "right" pedigree, and law review. Maybe this is news to you, son.

    Midlaw wants people who can bring a nice, fat book of business with them. Such a person is probably better off going into – or staying in - business for themselves, rather than share clients with other attorneys.

    A boutique lawyer may know how to draft a will or answer a motion in limine, on a criminal matter. You may know how to properly draft a motion to produce, or how to argue a property line dispute between neighbors. Do you think corporate firms give a damn about any of that?!?! They don’t want someone who can defend DUIs and traffic violations. They want someone that they can brag about to their clients, i.e. “Our newest associate graduated cum laude from Columbia Law School. He went to Princeton for undergrad.”

    News flash, kid: Advanced degrees can be a significant barrier to employment. HAVE YOU EVER HELD A JOB, AT ANY POINT IN YOUR LIFE?!?! You are so naïve. Employers are stingy, and they feel that someone with an advanced degree will expect or DEMAND a higher salary than someone with a mere Bachelor’s degree. I personally know DOZENS of such people. They have resorted to leaving off their Master’s degrees or JDs, because their experience has shown them that they receive more callbacks from employers when they do so.

    Lastly, idiot, whereas you have a problem with me citing starting salaries, you DO NOT have any issues with TTTs publishing median starting salary figures, for recent graduates, of $120K. Why is that – especially when you have admitted here before that you are a third year law student?!?! I have conclusively shown that law schools lie and distort their figures. Apparently, you are so caught up in the desire to be a lawyer that you simply do not want to listen to the facts – or objectively look at the evidence. That – along with your anemic reading comprehension skills – is the mark of a poor lawyer, by the way. This site is about reality, not the way we wish things were.

  42. Hmm, academic pedigree still matters in Biglaw, but somehow, a few grads with the "right stuff" fall through the cracks. For example, I know a brilliant guy, MIT undergrad, Columbia Law with 10 years of practice. You would think this fellow is an equity partner at Cravath or Sullivan & Cromwell. No. That guy is slaving away for a greedy boss in toilet law in some rathole office in Brooklyn. HYP (undergrad) + YHS (law school) does not necessarily guarantee success in the legal profession. Granted, folks with these credentials have a 100x better chance of succeeding than a TTT grad. Quite frankly, I am dumbfounded that many college grads are eager to piss away their future for a TTT JD. Sad indeed.

  43. These kinds of figures are bandied about in many professions - always with the top-end 'success stories' dragging the median up to unrealistic levels, with the vast bulk of graduates being forced to revise their expectations downwards along with some pretty grim realizations of exactly how deep a hole they are in regarding college debt.

    Perhaps it's more of a reflection of a society that is obstinately refusing to deal with the very real problems of an eroding middle class, a nonexistent manufacturing base and a rapidly expanding peasant underclass?


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