Friday, December 1, 2017

First Tier Financial Heartburn: Harvard Law School

Tuition: As one would expect, the cost of admi$$ion is nothing short of outrageous. Specifically, full-time law students at Harvard Univer$ity will face a tuition bill of $61,650 – for the 2017-2018 academic year. How egalitarian, huh? Essentially, this is a bold sign that says “Those of modest means need not apply.” If this price tag does not cause you to faint, then you clearly come from established wealth. Congratulations for “choosing” to come to the correct family.

Total Estimated Cost of Attendance: This same document lists the total budget – for one damn year – as $92,200. Who doesn’t have that amount of money laying around in their couch cushions? This is under the Nine Month Standard Student Budget. That means that all non-direct costs add up to $30,550. The line item for room/board/personal allowance alone tales up $23,158 of that figure.

A total of $1,575 is set aside for a travel allowance. That seems to be ridiculously low. I suppose that the eggheads at Harvard think that no one will incur auto repairs or vehicle maintenance costs at any point during the year. In the real world, many students will still have payments remaining on their car loans. Then again, perhaps these “educators” feel that everyone will travel by public transportation.

Seeing that actual law students will accumulate expenses over the full year – and not just when they are in class – we will prorate the following items: room, board, personal costs, and travel allowance. Doing so, we reach the following, more accurate total COA of $100,444. Again, this is for a single year, of a program that takes six semesters to complete.

Ranking: Since Harvard is often mocked for its perceived status as the ideal setting for ultra-wealthy students, one would expect HL$ to be among the best in$titution$ of “higher education” on earth. Well, it is rated as the 3rd greatest, most spectacular, and illustrious law school in the whole nation, by US “News” & World Report. While its gigantic first year class sizes have moved it out of the first or second slot, it does retain possession of 3rd place. Enjoy the bronze medal.

Employment Placement Data: Let’s review the school’s Class of 2016 Employment Report at 10 Months After Graduation. As you can see, there were 598 members of this big-ass graduating class. Of that amount, a total of 585 obtained full-time jobs within ten months of earning their law degrees. That is an effective placement rate of 98.3%, which is pretty remarkable, right? And only three of those were short-term gigs. 

Well, take a closer look for a moment. Fully 25 of those positions – including the three short-term employees – were funded by the univer$ity or law school. Without those jobs included, the placement rate would have been 93.6 percent! That is a significant difference, and it speaks volumes that the third best law school in the country had to resort to these measures. But I’m sure the “scholars” did not do so, in order to artificially bolster their statistics. It must just be one of those coincidences that just happens to benefit the ABA-accredited in$titution of “higher learning.”

Scroll down to the next section, Employment Type. A total of 349 grads from this cohort reported working in private law firms – within 10 months of receiving their JDs. The bulk of these posts were in Biglaw – with 41 in offices of 251-500 lawyers and another 287 landing jobs in firms of more than 500 attorneys. These positions are the reason why most HL$ students enrolled there.

Furthermore, 137 members of this class were working in judicial clerkships. In fact, 122 of these men and women were in federal clerk positions. This means that a large portion of this cohort postponed Biglaw by a year. Another seven landed jobs in academia, however two of those were short-term. These are referred to as the law school winners. Now compare these outcomes to those facing graduates of your TTT alma maTTTer. Still liking your decision, Stupid?

Average Law Student Indebtedness: USN&WR lists the average law student indebtedness - for those members of the Harvard Law Class of 2016 who incurred debt for law school - as $153,172. In fact, 77% of this school’s 2016 graduating cohort took on such toxic debt. Remember, this amount does not include debt from undergrad, and it also doesn’t take accrued interest into consideration, while you are enrolled in school. Enoy seeing how quickly $165K becomes $189K, when you are not making any student loan payments.

Here is some excellent news: while Harvard Law $chool is ranked 3rd best in terms of overall quality, it only has the 18st highest amount of average law student debt. And we all know that means this constitutes a fantastic bargain for the student! Hell, that could qualify as a “windfall” to the pupils. Of course, the 23 percent of the class that did not incur a dime of student debt for a Harvard law degree could care less. By the way, have fun competing with these rich young men and women for the best legal jobs available to recent graduates. Their connected father – or federal magistrate uncle – can further secure their future with a few phone calls.

Conclusion: Harvard Law $chool costs a king’s ransom to attend, and that is for those who are smart enough to gain entry. But at least the name carries serious weight with pretty much every employer in a professional field. If you no longer want to practice law – or you get tossed from Biglaw in 3-5 years – then you can do something else for a living. In three years, you should be able to make at least a few decent connections with rich classmates. Whereas low-ranked toilets claim that a law degree is “versatile,” one from Harvard should actually open other doors for you. This is still a huge investment, and there are no guarantees.


  1. The problem with Harvard Law School became apparent to me in the 1990s when I ran into the valedictorian of the high school class a few years before me. She had been laid off from her in house job after double Harvard degrees (undergrad and law) and several years at a V10 law firm and was unable to get another comparable job or any legal job after that.

    More recently a couple of colleagues spent something like two plus years unemployed. One was double Harvard and Harvard Law Review grad. The other was a Yale/Princeton and cum laude Harvard Law grad with a federal clerkship.

    You enroll in Harvard Law with a big risk If you cannot work for 2-1/2 years through no fault of your own, your finances are going to go into the tank.

    Any US allopathic medical school would offer more career-long job security than a Harvard Law degree, even with honors and a federal clerkship.

    Sorry to say, but a lot of the few good jobs for experienced lawyers go to graduates of lower ranked law schools. Harvard Law is risky today.

  2. The question is the opportunity cost of attendance. If you end up unemployed or underemployed for a long time with this degree and you did not meet a partner who is able to support you, you messed up getting the degree in the first place.

  3. According to Harvard Law School’s ABA disclosures, the school has a 16.6% acceptance rate. 345 admitted students (6% of applicants) did not matriculate. Compare the law school to the undergrad. Harvard College accepted 5.2% of applicants. Only 350 admitted students (0.9% of applicants) did not matriculate. You have better odds of getting into Harvard Law School than getting into Harvard College. Even if you miss out on 1L year, Harvard plays the transfer game to prop up their admissions stats. The school accepted 27 transfer students last year, from top schools such as Chicago and Columbia, and from toilets such as Crooklyn and Loyola Law Sewer –LA.

    Last year, 25 grads were employed in “law school/university funded” positions. The school funded positions may not be a ploy to prop up the school’s employment rate like the vast majority of ABA toilets. According to Harvard Law School, the school “is in the fortunate position of being able to award several Public Service Fellowships each year to graduating students. These law school funded positions typically fund employment for a period of a year or more and routinely serve as a gateway to public service employment. The awards are made during a highly competitive process to students whose abilities, backgrounds, and proposals show demonstrated promise for undertaking such work upon graduation. Students also have access to international fellowship opportunities through funding from the University.”

    Having gone to a toilet law school and never having had the opportunity to have a legal career (my toilet JD is omitted from my Resume), I couldn’t tell you if a Harvard Public Service Fellowship is meaningful or not. It is certainly possible that these grads deferred big law, Federal Clerkships, or other prestigious jobs so they could add this fellowship to their Resume.

  4. Harvard's the only law school in Massachusetts worth attending. BU and BC are really 2nd or 3rd tier. And all the others in the Commonwealth are pure shit.

    1. Harvard is the only one in Massachusetts that is conceivably worth attending. Boston University and Boston College are fourth-tier institutions (, very risky unless one gets free tuition and has connections in greater Boston. The other law schools in Massachusetts, as you put it, are pure shit.

  5. "...or you get tossed from Biglaw in 3-5 years."

    Thanks to the scamblog and transparency movements, and belatedly to mainstream journalism, I believe the public is somewhat aware of the staggering expense and dismal outcomes involved in attending a bottom-of-the-barrel law school.

    However, I have not seen any studies or mainstream journalism about the plight of those who go to top-tier law schools, land a big law job upon graduation, and then are quietly downsized a few years later, as so many are. See e.g. Steven J. Harper, The Lawyer Bubble (Basic Books 2013), 60 ("[T]he prevailing big-firm model survives on staggering associate turnover rates").

    It is a basic point, but it should be emphasized: A person cast out of big law will not necessarily be welcomed with open arms into the more humble (but still highly-competitive) realm of public sector law.

    1. The general public regards Harvard and Yale with an odd mixture of reverence and resentment. A study bemoaning the plight of us graduates of top-tier law schools who cannot find jobs (in my case not even a day in Big Law) would invite disbelief and derision: "Those people don't deserve cushy jobs just because they went to a snooty Ivy League university. Besides, they're all rich anyway. And they can easily get jobs in other lines of work."

      But a JD from Harvard or Yale is usually a liability, not an asset, outside the legal profession. Even within the legal profession, it is often viewed with suspicion: "Why are you applying for this job rather than making a fortune at some white-shoe firm in Manhattan?"

    2. dybbuk is correct about this point. A lot of potential law school applicants have gotten the message that bottom tier toilet law schools are a bad investment. They are shooting for Top 7 law schools or they don’t go to law school. But like all of us who went to toilet law schools before the scam blog movement, they are relying on bad information and making faulty assumptions when they enroll in these top law schools. The post grad employment data of the top law schools looks great – Federal clerkships making $60k followed by big law making $160k. But many of these students assume they’ll work in big law firms forever. They think they’ll become Federal judges down the road or run for Congress.

      The legal market is not the “perfect competition” market we learn about in Econ 101. The basic market consists of many firms making a similar product demanded by many consumers. The price is set by the supply and demand. When I enrolled in a toilet law school, I believed the fictitious employment data that every grad is employed making $100k. With little info on the legal market, I made the faulty assumption that the legal market was a “perfect competition” market. In reality, the legal market is much more complex. A large percentage of the market for legal services is dominated by a relatively small number of consumers (big business). These consumers are not looking for the lowest bidder. Rather, these consumers view legal services more as a luxury purchase. They behave like a wealthy individual shopping for a car or a watch. They don’t want a Kia or that $20 Wal mart digital watch, they want a BMW and a Rolex. When it comes to legal services, big business demands attorneys with elite credentials. They do not want grads from toilet law schools. There is a legal market to serve the needs of middle class America, providing wills, representation in DUI defense, handling real estate transactions, etc. But this market is much smaller than the market that serves big business and the wealthy, toilet law schools churn out far more lawyers than are needed to serve the middle class market, and the market is being undercut by companies such as legal zoom. This is why we have so many unemployed/underemployed broke grads of toilet law schools.

      Even for grads with elite credentials, the market to provide legal services to big business/the wealthy is not all that great. There are more elite grads than needed to meet the legal needs of this market. So law firms can be much more selective in who they employee. Law firms can take a few years to evaluate their young associates while squeezing 80 hour+ work weeks out of them. They can keep the handful of associates they like, kick the remainder to the curb, and bring in a new batch of elite law grads. This is an unusual business model compared to the majority of businesses in America. But law firms can operate this way, because there are far more applicants than they need. Many of the applicants to top law schools are probably unfamiliar with this type of business model.

      In the past, when elite grads at big firms figured out that they may not make partner, they had the chance to become a law prof. Toilet law schools could lie to applicants about job prospects, leading to a law school bubble as these toilets increased class sizes and demanded more profs. But now the toilet law schools are feeling the pinch so they are not hiring as many elite grads. That leaves these elite grads with fewer options, and a lot of debt.

  6. For ten years or more, studying law at Harvard has been a risky and questionable undertaking for all but the very rich. Most fresh graduates of Harvard Law, it is true, go straight into Big Law or federal clerkships, and some others get highly paid jobs in business (such as "consulting") or in the public sector. But Big Law typically lasts only a few years and does not lead to good jobs elsewhere. Now that a JD from Harvard can easily leave a fresh graduate owing more than a third of a million dollars on non-dischargeable student loans (on top of any debt for other degrees), the risk of a bad outcome looms large.

    1. I know of a lawyer in the Jackson, Mississippi metro area who, according the the law firm's website, graduated from Harvard Law in 2008, was admitted to the New York bar in 2009, and moved (or perhaps returned) here and was admitted to the Mississippi bar in 2011. She's an associate in a small firm (one owner, three associates) that specializes in debt collection. Presumably she enjoyed her time up North.

    2. From Haw-vard to Debt Collection Mill.... those jobs are not well paid, by the way.

    3. Your acquaintance, 9:42, may herself face debt-collection proceedings in respect of student loans.

      When even a JD from Harvard is likely to end badly after a few years, there's no need to ask about one from, say, Illinois, never mind one from Cooley.

  7. I went to another elite law school, but the demise of my legal career in my early 50s is a warning to people considering an elite law school. When I arrived at my counsel job, I got a form severance and mandatory arbitration agreement and release with three months notice. When my billable hours dropped to 1880, the Firm fired me saying they had no problem with me, they just did not need me. They also said to me that the severance period was not long enough to find another job. I had a dozen interviews, but the only offer I got involved a backbreaking commute, which I did not think I could do along with the job, so I decided to turn it down.

    After leaving, I was not employable in any good job. I spent more than a year out of work and ended up in temp jobs I got through networking. They were real legal jobs and not through an agency.

    When I was finally hired back by big law, it was on very marginal terms that made my job short term. What I was able to get after the counsel experience were jobs that were not full-time and permanent and that did not pay even two thirds of the first year going rate. None of these jobs were worth going to law school for, let alone a super-elite law school.

    The big law firm used mandatory arbitration and severance agreements as well as releases to run huge classes of associates, counsel and partners through a system of very high turnover where it is almost impossible to recover if the lawyer was fired. The mandatory arbitration, severance agreements, releases and confidentiality clauses that this law firm uses is why you don't hear about the hardships of the up or out system that law schools rely on for placement.

    Not every big firm does this. Some make an effort to move their lawyers to another job. Problem is that those follow up jobs are often unstable and last a short time, leaving the lawyer without good employment options.

  8. Arbitration for those of you who are not yet in law school is confidential and operates behind closed doors. Law firms that impose mandatory arbitration on employment disputes with their lawyers and employees also include substantial procedural provisions which severely limit the lawyer's legal rights to challenge a termination. One of the provisions i remember is a provision for speedy arbitration with the lawyer being allowed to call only two witnesses. I recall lawyers trying to get into court, where they would be have a better chance of winning the case, to challenge mandatory arbitration. Those lawyers lost and were rammed into the arbitration proceeding with minimal due process.

    Unless you are fortunate enough to hold onto your job until you want to retire, many lawyers from elite law schools, especially those who are not white males, are going to face a challenge in trying to remain in a full-time permanent job as a lawyer until retirement.

    The up or out, class year hiring system that the elite law schools rely on for placement is badly stacked against elite law school graduates.

  9. Harvard's for rich kids. I was accepted to an Ivy for undergrad (Dartmouth). And this was around the year 2000. Tuition was something like $35K (probably more). What I do remember is my financial aid package was maybe $10K in scholly money, about $7K in a work study job, and the rest was student loans. I would have been going from living at home with mom and dad rent free in LA to go all the way out there. No car. Student housing and food and all the rest would have been another $20K back then.

    I said Forget that. I went to UCLA and ended up going for almost free. Now I run my own property management firm. And I own outright 2 storage unit places and 3 car washes. I employ more than 20 people. When I call my city councilman or state senator, they get back to me within hours. And it's consistent income. I was able to give them each of these wonderful people a big Christmas bonus each of the last 5 years and it'll be the same this year. I am so grateful I avoided going to the most prestigious college that would take me. It's outright disgraceful the rates these colleges (and law schools) charge for a name on a sheepskin. That's what kids are paying for. The name on the degree. Does it really cost the college anywhere near that much for you to self-study and learn finance for 4 years? Or for the same for a humanities degree?

    I had friends in a similar boat (poor to working class) and they fell for the trap. One of my best friends from high school went to Princeton. ANother went to U of Chicago. We were all from lower middle class families. What they still have in common is that they still owe a shit ton of money in student loans. They drive run down cars. (I pay cash for my luxury cars. I have a 2 year old Ford 450 and my wife has a 2017 Lexus to transport our daughters with.) They've had several periods of unemployment. (I've been able to create jobs for others and pay them well.) I would tell any high school upperclassman this: be wary of paying to go to a top college or graduate degree program. In the end prestige doesn't pay the bills. Because a lot of people take that road. And it's hard to distinguish between them and that from the employer’s perspective. And so much of what you learn in college doesn’t translate into the workplace. Cool, you can write a term paper analyzing Chaucer. Can you manage payroll? Oh, you’ve read up on supply and demand. Can you help me move some residential and commercial property? Can you get city building inspectors to get off their ass and approve an application?

    1. Going to an élite university was a big mistake. I never fit in there among all those wealthy people. And I went there about thirty years ago.

      Take it from me: the Harvards and the Yales are only formally open to the great unwashed. In reality, they're finishing schools for the rich. That goes for the undergraduate schools and the law schools alike. Do not expect, as Nando suggests, "to make at least a few decent connections with rich classmates". If you're not in the club, you won't be getting in.

  10. (cont.)

    But the rich kids don't have to worry about that. They go from driving daddy's white Audi in high school to owning their own sleek black Audi as an adult. They don't even have to create a network. They have one growing up. They keep those friends and they get the good jobs (as long as they aren't drug addicts or in and out of rehab). Or they take over their dad’s business. One of my high school classmates did just that. He learned from his dad how to run the family’s 3 restaurants. He didn’t even go to college. And I’m sure he makes even more money than I do. They now own close to a dozen restaurants. I know another guy who went from getting head from cheerleaders in the back of his Mercedes (as a high school kid) to running 2 car dealerships by age 30. He didn’t do the college thing either. That’s the big lesson.

    Poor kids seem drawn to the idea of going to most prestigious college or law school or MBA program that will take them, because they see it as a way out. But they make one big mistake: they don’t have the key connections or family wealth to ensure they are successful. So they try to make connections awkwardly with people they don’t know at all. That’s like walking up to a pretty woman you’ve never met and asking her back to your place. It’s too awkward and stupid to work. Now it might work 1 out of 1000 times or one out of a million. But those are the successful salesmen kind who are born with the gift of gab or movie star looks. Don’t make a similar decision based on their success (I’d call it luck). Poor or working class kids who take this prestige route often end up owing a ton of money in student loans and they are in worse financial shape than those who went to trade school or the local college. And the rich kids don’t even need the college sheepskin in order to do well.

    1. ^TITCR

      I used to take the bus to school until I was a HS junior. We used to have one kid that got dropped off at the trailer park. I ran into him years later. Guy went to some no-name shitty law school on the east coast. He said he was doing something in insurance. Owed a ton in student debt too. But I can't feel sorry for some dumbshit who made the choice to travel halfway across the country to attend a toilet.

    2. This cannot be emphasized enough. Maybe one could have bootstrapped a career a lot easier in the baby boomer heyday, but it's all about connections nowadays. Chances of a working class kid with no connections making and maintaining a career in law aren't all that great. And as technology continues to take away more and more of the legal industry's bread and butter, expect those odds to diminish even more.

  11. Even if you are well off enough to be able to get through this without much debt, the question is how good an investment it is relative to other options. For many white males Harvard Law School is a good investment. That is not true for everybody though. For women and minorities, Harvard Law is more dicey. Some women will win the successful husband lottery at Harvard. Others will win neither the husband or the good career lottery. For minorities, you are really much better off in medical school, hands down, where you will not face anything near the level of employment discrimination that you face in law.

    My experience is that many minorities and most African Americans suffer terrible employment discrimination in big law, so much so, that it is not worth it for most minorities to enroll in Harvard Law. There are not tons and tons of career lawyer jobs out there in government outside of DC or in house, including public service jobs, relative to the huge supply of lawyers.

    Do your research and think carefully. You want a career where you can earn a relatively good living and make a contribution. Law is going to be a struggle for many people with unemployment and underemployment, notwithstanding an elite law degree.

    1. Minorities may do well in Big Law—if they come from money. Just fifty years ago, Big Law wouldn't even hire Jews, let alone racialized people. Today it is happy to bring in a few brown-skinned scions of rich people from South Asia, who probably have connections to potential clients. It still does not want Black people from Harlem or Alabama. Now and then it may hire the Black son of a robber baron from Africa.

      Older people (and "older" starts around 29), do not think that excellence will get you into Big Law. I have struggled to get so much as an interview for any job at all after finishing law school in my forties, even though I was at the top of the class of an élite law school. My experience is typical—except that most older people don't do half so well academically.

    2. Suppose I should count myself lucky. Graduated 20 years ago from a 3rd tier school with $95k in undergrad, graduate and law school loans. Hired by federal agency, in part because two highest ranked attorneys graduated from my law school.

      I am still with the same agency, having transferred jobs through a half dozen states. I am compensated very well. I am paid for a 40 hour week and earn “overtime” for any hours that exceed that. I have great benefits and am able to afford a nice lifestyle.

      The problem? I hate my job. I have practiced a very specialized type of law that resulted in all other skills atrophying. I am literally stuck.

      I am one of seven children. Two lawyers and five physicians. The physicians all love what they do and love working. Aside from the honeymoon period when I began working after spending 10 years in college, I have never been able to say the same. I am miserable.

    3. After spending many many years in big law, I can tell you that most minorities do not do well in big law. It is getting better for younger minorities, but the older ones lost out. Even an elite background did not help a minority much if at all.

      Stupid to make pronouncements about minorities in big law if you have not been there to observe how they do.


    Take a look at the Law School Transparency report for the third best law school in the land. Here are the numbers for the class that entered Harvard Law $chool in Fall 2016:

    25th percentile LSAT: 170
    50th percentile LSAT: 172
    75th percentile LSAT: 175
    25th percentile UGPA: 3.76
    50th percentile UGPA: 3.86
    75th percentile UGPA: 3.94

    Now, let’s review the numbers for the group that started their “legal education” at the bronze medal law school, in Fall 2010:

    25th percentile LSAT: 171
    50th percentile LSAT: 173
    75th percentile LSAT: 176
    25th percentile UGPA: 3.78
    50th percentile UGPA: 3.89
    75th percentile UGPA: 3.96

    For $ome rea$on, Harvard Law $chool lowered its admi$$ion $tandard$. In fact, each of the six areas listed above were lower in Fall 2016 than the figures for Fall 2010. That cannot be a mere coincidence.

    Now look the Overview page for this school, also courtesy of LST:

    Employment Score: 88% for 2016 grads
    Under-Employment score: 5.4% for 2016 grads
    Bar Passage Rate: 95% for the Class of 2015
    Non-Discounted Cost: $336,866 for those starting in Fall 2017

    There is a large discrepancy between the school’s employment report for its Class of 2016 and LST’s figures regarding employment and under-employment. Perhaps, Law School Transparency is taking the 25 graduates that were in university and law school positions into account. By the way, if you are not from a wealthy family, take a good look at the non-discounted cost above. Good luck competing against your rich classmates, armed with your “hard work” and willingness to network with people who don’t really need you for anything.

    1. That's not really a lowering of standards. At the extremes (the 170s and the 120s), a point on the LSAT doesn't mean much. The slight decline in LSAT scores probably hsa more to do with the disproportionate tendency of high-scoring people to stay out of law school. Having fewer high-scoring candidates with whom to fill a class of the same size, Harvard has to dip deeper into the 160s, thereby lowering its LSAT scores.

    2. Is hard to say how much median LSATs and grades actually dropped when taking into account the competitiveness of the applicant's college and classes the applicant took. It would be really hard to get a 3.84 at Harvard. At a low ranked college 3.84 may be easy to get. Science classes are graded lower than humanities at many colleges.

      Just saying that they could have taken people with high LSATs from much less competitive schools or with easy classes and kept up the median LSATs and GPAs as much as possible to game the rankings.

      When you have a profession that does not hire most lawyers with more than 10 years of experience in virtually all high paying law firm jobs absent a guaranteed book of business covering at least twice the lawyer's salary, the smart people will flee, rightfully so.

  13. You forgot to include the obligatory Elle Woods picture.

  14. In 1958 a years worth of tuition was $1000:

    Adjusted for inflation, this works out to about $8500 in 2017 dollars. I suppose you could argue the income from Big Law jobs has also increased faster than inflation in the meantime.

    Even so, $60,000 is still way too much. They probably should be charging no more than $30,000. Lowering their tuition to a more reasonable level would also positive effect on tuition at lower ranked schools, since it would be hard to justify charging considerably more than the likes of Harvard.

    1. Baby boomers and the Silent Generation don't like to talk about the cost of attendance when they lecture subsequent generations (especially Generation X). "I worked my way through school", they say. Sure, in an era when a summer job and a few hours a week during the academic year could pay for university. Now a year's tuition exceeds the income—before taxes—of a typical newly licensed lawyer, to say nothing of a 1L waiting tables.

      The baby boomers and the Silent Generation also easily found well-paying work even without a degree (or for that matter a high-school diploma). Nowadays it's not easy to find work with multiple degrees and abundant skills. I'm the poster boy for that.

    2. Baby boomer below, 10 minutes BEFORE your post, speaking of what you claim boomers don't speak about. And, I have posted before that if a law student today can earn enough during the summer to cover their current law school tuition, they are doing better working part time than they will be doing with a law degree.

      It took me 2.5 years to find a lousy law job even from my top 25 school in top quarter of class. There was a recession then.

      I know well what is happening to prospective law students, current law students, and recent law school grads. I have been discouraging folks from attending law school for decades.

    3. Some baby boomers, 7:16, are responsible and informed enough to admit that their generation had it better than mine. Most do not. Most deliver dismissive lectures of tne "get a job, as I did" variety.

    4. 7:16 here. Posted 30 to 50 times here. I am 41 years in practice. 37 or 38 as a solo. I did not have it easy. It took me 2.5 years to find a job with a 5 person firm. My first year salary was about equal to what I made teaching a musical instrument to students, part time. The only employee benefit I have ever had was 2 weeks off one year. No health insurance, no life insurance, no disability insurance, no 401(k), no pension, 2 weeks off-once. I was making about $248 a week, so about $500 in total benefits in 41 years. About 28 weeks of vacation, half at scout camps as my spouse covered the phones at the office. When I went out on my own, my "client files," all of them, was about 12 inches thick, total. Just last year, I purged 1.4 million sheets of client files. I worked furiously for decades. I made a living, and I "spent" my life for something that turned out to be satisfying, at times, but mostly just a very ugly and difficult job. I learned early on that no one would hire me for anything outside of the law, as lay persons are in awe of the glamour of the law and the money, and the vacations, and the prestige. Well, solo law provides precious little of that.

      I haven't made a single effort at marketing my practice as I just hate the law and believe that I have no product to sell, but I still have all the work I can do.

      I am personable and do take care of my clients. I would never do it again. Virtually ever boomer lawyer I know is struggling in retirement.

      45 year old engineers at a Fortune 500 company in my area are making 2 to 3 times what I manage to make being 20 years older. I was just a sucker, like so many others.

      And, for all the special snowflakes out there, I can and have done: practice solo, general practice law and make a living, raise and pay for 3 children through private schools, raise 3 Eagle Scouts, draw blueprints, design and build a residence, hang and finish drywall, build my own furniture, do commercial artwork for a Fortune 50 company, publish books on musical instrument technique and instruction, teach music students, polish out fountain pen nibs (THE most difficult skill to learn-law school was easy by comparison-there are maybe 20 people in the country who can do what I do-I know), sharpen a knife, build a fire with one match in the rain, wire and plumb a house, lead a community action movement costing a year's pay and succeeding, crack shot, cartoonist (about 3,000 of them), carpenter, expert backcountry navigator, hang wallpaper, whitewater boatman, sewing, public speaking...

      It took me 45 minutes to list just the positions I have held in Boy Scouting for a recent activity I was involved in.

      I have made an effort to develop myself. In the words of Robert Heinlein: "Specialization is for insects." My point is that solo practice demands a varied and broad skill-set. It is MUCH easier to make a living in many other fields. If you are mathematically inclined, become an engineer. If you can get into medical school, you SHOULD. My oldest son will START at 3 times my current income and have 8 weeks vacation, plus pension, 401(k), disability insurance, etc. In 5 to 6 years, he will have earned an amount equal to my 41 years of practice.

      And so it goes...


    5. And following on...

      The point is that nobody cares about what you can do other than your law school's pedigree and if you are in the top XXX%, X being smaller the lower your school is "rated."

      I started in an employed position as a lawyer after my 2.5 year search at $11,200. My first job offer was $9,600 which I turned down as I made more than that teaching a musical instrument to students and the offer seemed pathetic.

      My sister, 7 years younger than me with a bachelor's degree in computer science, was working for a Fortune 50 company at $22,000 per year and full benefits. (I knew then that the law was a terrible decision and that I could not escape it.)

      The firm where I got my first job was willing to offer me partnership after 1.5 years (I was the second highest fee producer in the firm my first year there-even above senior lawyers who were 10 years out!)

      That offer did not come because one of the partners was not offered partnership that early, so the offer was never made. (I can't recall how I learned this.)

      I was offered partnership the next year at 2.5 years with the firm. I turned it down as I did not think that I could make enough money to cover my pay, and I was not willing to be a co-signer on the firm's liabilities for which I might be solely liable, having a marginal income. I soon left that firm.

      While as a solo, I applied to a very small firm with an extremely competent attorney at the helm whom I greatly respected and was a natural "fit."

      The attorney asked what my salary requirement was and I said "$25,000.00." I never heard back.


      I netted $175,000.00 that year, which I got to keep, instead of giving $150,000 to that attorney and me grossing a mere $25,000.

      I never looked back. Some years have been much leaner than others.

      For whatever strange reason I have rarely been short of work. Now, I have written off about a billion dollars in time that the abusive, thieving, worthless......

      But one can make a living if one works hard enough.

      Make no mistake. This is NOT EASY!

  15. In 1975, at a Land Grant University law school, my tuition was $550 per semester, $1,100 for 32 credit hours. A top 25 law school when maybe that made a difference.

  16. As noted above, the only way to fully reveal the scam would be to track employment/income outcomes through a long-term study of graduates, for a period of 20-30 years. But the only organization with the ability to fund such a study-the ABA-has zero interest in doing so. i can't even find a study tracking outcomes for BigLaw associates. Instead, everything is anecdotal and therefore easily dismissed or just ignored.
    So the scam will continue. There will be a few glitches, but the argument will continue that lawyers obtain stable, well-paying jobs through retirement. The reality is that most biglaw associates don't make partner and don't just fall into in-house or government jobs; that when you hit 50 nobody wants you; and that discrimination based on age/gender/race is still rampant in the profession.
    Unless you're totally connected, going to law school is a bad idea.

    1. My experience is exactly as you describe. It is really hard to work in a full time permanent position as a lawyer until age 70 or even 65. The number of lawyer jobs drops as each law school class ages. Going to an elite law school is actually worthless if you lose a legal job after age 50. A younger graduate of a toilet is much preferred over a 52 year old Harvard graduate.

      Big law firms inexplicably can refuse to hire lawyers in their 50s and older without a book of business. AARP Litigation Foundation is fighting experience limits in hiring with very mixed results under federal age discrimination law.

      In house employers care little what school you went to.

      I was reading up on Kaiser Permanente, an HMO that employs doctors on very generous terms. Even though you have to retire from there at 65, the pay and benefits are very, very generous. You are actually taken care of in your retirement if you spend your career at Kaiser. What a contrast with most graduates of elite law schools.

      The smarter people are definitely getting the message. At one of the HYP undergrad schools, the only one I researched, almost twice as many graduated undergrads in 2016 went into health care professions, almost all into medicine, as went into law.

    2. 1. Uh, 6:29, no court is ever going to tell any employer of what is in essence a sales position that they have to hire someone who can't sell. This is what so many 0l's don't get. It's not like being a teacher in the government schools where you get a certification and tenure and that's it, you're set for life as long as you keep your hands off the kids. In law if you can't bring in business you are worthless, because if you are such a top-notch, nationally recognized expert the business will come to you. Know what a freeze-out is? Back in the day firms would dispose of unwanted junior partners by not giving them enough work to meet their billable hour requirement. Even in the go-go 80's the simple solution, bring in your own business, wasn't anywhere near as simple as it looked.

      2. Comparisons to the medical profession are worthless. People get sick. Get enough people and someone to pay the bill for them and you will make money. Bellyachers are easily told they aren't sick. Get involved with one of those low-level employees in a lawyer/client situation and just hope you might get paid. Because, 6:29, here's what. My wife works in management for a large group of radiologists - one of the highest paid specialties. And the reality is virtually no one shops around for radiology services. They mostly just go to the group to which their PCP direts them. Want to try competing with the biglaw boys for the clients that can pay real money? Guess we've all got to die of something. I've heard that after the initial hunger issues starvation isn't really that bad.

    3. The pay for many age 50+ experienced graduates of elite law schools is terrible. My total pay, my job includes no benefits, from a very elite law school is significantly less than half of the base salary that a first year gets out of my law school. There is not enough work to go around so I cannot get any more work or just sign up for an extra shift. The reason I am making to little is that law firms, including my law firm, have serious overcapacity today and not even close to enough work to go around. My job search, which has encompassed years, has been unsuccessful.

      My close colleague, from Harvard Law with honors, makes less than a first year gets out of Harvard and spent a long period of years in outright unemployment after big law. This was a guy who had all of the sterling credentials and leadership history going into Harvard Law and job offers everywhere coming out of Harvard Law, as well as a federal clerkship and only one job, at a V10 big law firm in his whole career.

      The employment outcomes for a lot of people do not warrant going to law school. In fact the outcomes are worse in terms of compensation than going to work as a public school teacher in my area.

    4. My son is an internal medicine physician at Kaiser and enjoys the benefits you described.

  17. Let’s take a look at some of the tertiary law journals at the 3rd best law school in the United States:

    "Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review

    Founded in 1966 as a “journal of revolutionary constitutional law,” the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review has become the nation’s leading progressive law journal. Our mission is to promote social change and intellectual debate through the publication and advancement of innovative legal scholarship, and we are committed to exploring new directions and perspectives in the struggle for social justice and equality. CR-CL fosters progressive dialogue within the legal community by publishing two issues annually, featuring innovative articles. Recent volumes address such issues as affirmative action, civil liberties in the aftermath of September 11th, housing and employment discrimination, the rights of immigrants, and criminal justice. CR-CL is also committed to fostering progressive dialogue on the Harvard Law School campus and serves as an intellectual and social meeting place for a diverse group of progressive students. Visit for more information."

    Yes, I’m certain that this student-edited publication will lead to social change. Have that little dialogue among yourselves. Anyone with a brain stem recognized that those with deep pockets have a ton more sway than social justice warrior ass-wipes.

    "Harvard Journal on Racial and Ethnic Justice

    Founded by the Black Law Students Association, the vision of the journal is to advance progressive legal scholarship by focusing on the intersection of race, class, gender, and the law. The journal seeks to promote a conscientious and honest dialogue on issues of race and class in the law through publishing articles by academics, practitioners, and students. Past issues have presented a tribute to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and a forum reexamining the impact of Brown v. Board of Education, 35 years after the initial decision."

    These black Harvard Law students will not be able to make Biglaw partners hire more black JDs as associates. And I’m sure that the tribute 35 years later to Thurgood Marshall – who pissed away countless hours watching soap operas in chambers, when he was on the Supremes – paved the way for “progressive legal scholarship.”

    1. It in not that African Americans are not hired by big law. It is that they are rarely promoted to partner or counsel, and if they are promoted, their job tenure can be limited. Having witnessed this over many years, I can tell you the problem is employment discrimination.

  18. read these stories and weep, 0Ls. You think you know better than these lawyers? Get over yourself, dumbshit.

    I remember when I got into my TT. The manager at my old company was going over some paperwork with the lawyers. One of them came out and said Hi to me. He said that he went to Harvard Law School. He couldn't have been more than 40 at the time. Barely a gray hair and he looked well. When he asked me what law school I got into and I told him, he was taken aback. Of course he tried to brush it off. But he said that he hated the practice of law and that's why he was doing contracts and employment matters with smaller companies. This was in flyover country. I still went to TT law skool because I figured I (with no fucking experience working in a law firm) would do well.

  19. The going rate for a former Sullivan & Cromwell senior associate or counsel in New York City is $25 to $50 and hour in temp jobs. Tons of lawyers are desperate for these jobs. The jobs all limit the hours to under 30 hours a week of work to avoid paying for health insurance.

    The headhunter will say this is the range and then offer many resumes to the employer at different rates -what the lawyer will take. So you went to Harvard and want $50, but a Brooklyn grad who will take $40 may get the temp job.

    The jobs don't last long enough to pay a decent income, and there is lots of down time for many lawyers between these jobs.

    Most of these people are not able to get full-time permanent jobs at the time. Relatively few of the jobs become permanent, because given the glut of elite lawyers for these jobs, there is no need to pay for benefits or to even pay what would be a market rate of pay for a newly graduated lawyer from an elite law school.

  20. In student loan news:

    House Republicans want to whittle the suite of eight student loan repayment plans down to two: one standard 10-year plan and one income-based plan. As it stands, people can opt to have their monthly loan payment capped to a percentage of their earnings, with the remaining balance of the debt forgiven after 20 to 25 years. The House plan would eliminate that loan forgiveness, but cap the interest payments on the loan after 10 years
    House Republicans are also envisioning the end of loan forgiveness for college graduates who pursue careers in the public sector. The plan, much like the White House budget, would do away with Public Service Loan Forgiveness, a program that wipes away federal student debt for people in the public sector after they have made 10 years’ worth of payments.

  21. Who can forget this gem from the halls of Harvard Law? Back on February 12, 2012, the Harvard Crimson published a piece from staff writer Juliet R. Bailin, under the headline "HLS To House a Falik Bathroom." Enjoy this classic opening:

    "Male students, faculty, and visitors to the Law School’s new Wasserstein Hall will have the opportunity to use the newly christened “Falik Men’s Room”—a cleverly named restroom bequeathed by Harvard Law School graduate William A. Falik.

    Falik donated $100,000 to the Law School to establish a public interest law fellowship in honor of his father’s centennial birthday. The Law School named the restroom in his honor.

    Several years ago, Falik met with then-Dean of the Law School Elena Kagan to discuss the donation and naming opportunities.

    Falik said that he told Kagan that “the only thing I've ever been able to name with a name like Falik is a restroom,” and that he would be interested in the possibility of naming one in Wasserstein Hall, which opened its doors this winter.

    According to Falik, Kagan was receptive to the idea and “she essentially said something to the effect, ‘sounds good to me, let me check it out.’”

    Falik has previously sprinkled his name on another restroom. At the University of California Berkeley, where Falik currently teaches law, Falik created a public interest law fellowship and sponsored a restroom in Berkeley’s Boalt Hall."

    That is the very definition of "prestige," huh? I'm sure that will add immeasurably to the value of a Harvard law degree.

    1. Plenty of other people have had their names put on toilets, usually without their knowledge: Thomas Cooley, Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall…

  22. Harvard Law School - the uber, fancy and costly toilet that now accepts the GRE in lieu of the LSAT.


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