Saturday, April 11, 2015
Open Letter to the Graduating JD Class of 2015
Average Law Student Indebtedness: Every year, a defunct magazine called US “News” & World Report publishes its idiotic law school rankings and people go crazy over this nonsense. However, it also rates ABA-accredited diploma mills by the amount of debt their students incur. For $ome rea$on, law school administrators and “professors” don’t pay much attention to this chart. Here are the biggest totals for the JD Class of 2014, of those reporting their figures – with the percentage of those taking out loans and the school’s overall rating from USN&WR:
Thomas Jefferson School of Law, $172,445, 91%, TTTT
New York Law School, $166,622, 83%, 127th greatest
Northwestern University, $163,065, 80%, 12th
Florida Coastal School of Law, $162,785, 93%, TTTT
American University (Washington), $159,316, 83%, 71st “best”
Vermont Law School, $156,713, 84%, 122nd most amazing
Touro College (Fuchsberg), $154,855, 85%, TTTT
University of San Francisco, $154,321, 88%, 138th
Columbia University, $154,076, 76%, 4th
Whittier College, $151,602, 91%, TTTT
Yes, who wouldn’t want to take out such outrageous sums of NON-DISCHARGEABLE debt, for the mere opportunity to sit for the bar exam, right?!?! Again, these totals do not include debt from undergrad. They also do not take accruing interest into account.
Hell, even Columbia is no longer a safe bet for many students. Since you are about to receive your law degree – and at one point, you viewed yourself as having brilliant critical thinking skills – then you should notice that most of the schools on the list above are low-ranked cesspools that provide their graduates with weak-ass employment prospects.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Data: Take a look at the entry for lawyers in the Occupational Handbook, provided by the U.S. Department of Labor. Specifically, focus on the following:
Employment of lawyers is projected to grow 10 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Competition for jobs should continue to be strong because more students graduate from law school each year than there are jobs available.” [Emphasis mine]
What portion of that description gave you the idea that you were making a sound financial decision? In the end, YOU need to view law school PRIMARILY as an economic choice – because this will impact you for the rest of your life. If you do not practice law for one damn day, you still must repay the debt. It doesn’t matter if you fail the bar exam, or if people don’t hire your ass to represent them – even after you get your license.
Class of 2013 National Summary Chart: According to the NALP Class of 2013 National Summary Report, 86.4 percent of this massive cohort was employed within nine months of graduation, for those whose employment status was known. Of course, this figure includes non-law positions, attorney jobs, part-time and full-time work, plus long term and temporary posts.
Overall, there were 46,776 members of the JD Class of 2013 – competing for a total of 28,746 jobs labeled “bar passage required.” Keep in mind that not all of those positions were traditional attorney openings. Then again, only 45,592 graduates had their info sent to NALP. Using the entire class size, a mere 61.5% of all JDs ended up finding such legal work, i.e. 28,746/46,776. However, this figure jumps all the way up to 64.4 percent, when relying on those for whom employment status was known, i.e. 28,764/44,637.
Scroll down to page two of this PDF, and go to the subheading Type of Law Firm Job. You will notice that a total of 16,672 members of this class reported working as private lawyers. Presumably, this figure includes desperate solos and recent grads who decided to hang a shingle with their classmates. This represents 37.4 percent of those who supplied their employment status, i.e. 16,672/44,637. Imagine if medical school graduates faced a similar job outlook, after completing their professional schooling.
This is the cohort right before your group. You ignored the extensive articles and signs out there and still took the plunge. If you cannot look out for your own financial self interest, then how the hell do you expect to represent others in legal, personal and financial matters?!?! Apparently, you could not be bothered to conduct a few hours – at most – of online research. At least, the lazy “professors” got paid well – at your expense.
Conclusion: In the final analysis, you cannot avoid the following harsh truths: (a) the U.S. lawyer job market is GLUTTED; (b) outsourcing, LPOs, vendors such as LegalZoom, and other advances in software have taken a serious collective toll on the need for more attorneys; (c) these technological improvements will not slow down and, in fact, will continue to impact the legal industry; (d) law school is incredibly expensive as tuition has SKYROCKETED to disgusting levels; (e) legal academics do not adequately prepare students to practice law; and (f) the law school pigs do not give one goddamn about you, the student or recent graduate. Do you have a financial death wish?!
Furthermore, as William Henderson of Indiana University Maurer Sewer of Law noted years ago, in his bimodal distribution analysis: if you do not land Biglaw, then you are looking at making $35K-$55K per year upon graduation. Based on this chart from NALP, this still holds true. Do the math, simpleton. You will not be able to reasonably repay $150K+ in student loans, while taking care of your necessities, on a $39K annual salary. Enjoy eating Ramen noodles and living in your parents’ home when you’re 32 years old.
Posted by Nando at 5:04 AM