The National Law Journal
August 2, 2012
1. August 03, 2012 10:21 AM
Is law school only an economic equation? Life is long, and economics is only part of the equation. My questions are more along the lines of--Do lawyers like what they do? Do lawyers learn skills that help them succeed in business, politics, policy and other areas? Do lawyers learn skills that they can use to help society or help others? Not necessarily questions that would lead some to attend law school, but I think focusing on economic equations does a disservice to our profession. I'm not sure if the goal is to dissuade good people from becoming lawyers, to encourage law schools to reduce class sizes and shut down (thereby making lawyers more valuable), or to argue for reduced tuition.
2. August 03, 2012 01:40 PM
In answer to your question, having worked in the legal field for 30 years, I will say that from my experience the lion's share of attorneys wish that they had pursued other careers. However, it is best to do the research yourself. Consult attorneys in their 20th years in practice and ask whether they are satisfied with their career choice and their lives in general. What you will find, I suspect, is that many whom are partners in larger firms have some measure of satisfaction while many, if not most, in private practice and in small firms do not share in this satisfaction.
From my perspective, the greatest sense of futility for attorneys arises from not having anything tangible to look at in retrospect other than a dusty stack of papers. Most cases are settled, with outcomes that are not optimal for your client. Even in the best case of a "clear win," one wonders in hindsight whether the outcome actually contributed to the overall good of man. Conversely, Architects and engineers for instance, do have a tangible product to look back on with pride. Of course, you can and shoud supplement your legal career with public interest work or hobbies such as carpentry or gardening that will provide that missing sense of tangible accomplishment.
But there are many for whom the law is in our blood and who could not fathom doing anything else. So, ultimately, it is up to each person to ponder his or her life's course. What is important in any field is that your avocation match your vocation for that is where true satisfaction lies.
3. August 03, 2012 03:15 PM
This analysis is too simplistic. For example, "Hot prospects" come from TTT schools; otherwise, what do we call a relatively young top-10 student from Suffolk who chose to go there only because he wanted to keep his day job as a Boston CPA while going to law school at night? There are more of those scenarios than one might think.
Geographical concerns should also be factored in. Some cities, like Seattle, are much more insulated from regional competition, meaning the most desired biglaw candidates in that market come from a pool of about 20 schools: T14 plus a few other top schools like Vandy, the University of Washington, and the top-5% from Seattle University and Gonzaga Law.
Is law school a bad investment for the "Hot Prospects" from UW, SU and Gonzaga simply because graduates from those schools compete with those from T14 schools? The out-of-state competition for biglaw jobs in the Seattle market is virtually non-existent outside of the T14, and the graduates from Washington state's three law schools tend to be well sought-after in the Seattle Market.
The Dallas, Houston and Atlanta markets work similarly, although a few non-T14 schools (Tulane, U-North Carolina and U-Florida) provide some out-of-state competition in those markets.
All of those markets are somewhat unique, because the local, perceivably non-elite schools control their own markets better than do schools in other markets.
Other than that, the article correctly asserts that individual circumstances make a difference. Underrepresented minorities ("URM's"), i.e. Black, Hispanic and Native American graduates can still expect to be highly coveted and the recruiters are still wiilling to dig deeper into the the candidate pool (although not top-55% deep) to find URM's with potential.
Moreover, URM's with stellar credentials, regardless of the schools from which they graduate, can still practically write their own tickets, because of the dearth of qualified minorities in biglaw and in-house positions.
4. August 03, 2012 05:33 PM
For so long law school has been the premier idea for the middle class to become rich and the poor to become middle class. That idea seems to have totally torpedoed with the rising tuition at law schools across the country, and the one minded focus on rankings and less on where the law school student ends up. Sclunk was on the ball when he first released his report, now everyone knows it even some of the graduates who have resulted to suing their alma maters.
5. August 03, 2012 06:13 PM
I am San Diego Criminal Defense and DUI lawyer and I attended a low tier law school at Thomas Jefferson and I am happy with my decision to go to law school.