In support of a recent New York Times Op-Ed.
I’m a law professor, and I’m proud of it. Really. We really need to stop this nonsense of you all thinking that only having a 50% shot at a job after graduation is a problem. You all are really just wusses.
First of all, if you have a shoddy chance at getting a job, you’ll feel SO much more appreciative of having one. If we just gave you one (and I don’t mean in our law library to boost our rankings), then you will just be resentful. But if after a short period of homelessness and despair you get a job, you’ll be thankful! See? Law school is worth it!
What follows? Well, if you are REALLY lucky, you’ll work for a major law firm! They’ll make you work (and you’ll love working 120 hours a week for a law firm that will treat you like dirt). But you’ll make money to cover your student loan debt, and that’s what counts. Unless they merge and lay you off.
And, I’m tired of the LAME stream media, bloggers, and people named Campos talking about Law Schools as if we are for-profit schools. Many of us have deficits now! And we are not seducing students into our buildings. Although some schools have really sexy new buildings.
All this LAME stream media talk of a bad lawyer job market has caused hysteria, particularly among deans of admission. A lot of really smart people are no longer thinking about going to law school. This is not to imply that if you’ve applied to law school recently that you aren’t smart. But those other smart people aren’t going. And that’s not smart!
Look, the job market is bad. I hear this all the time from recent alums as I order my Chai Tea Latte from them. If you look at some basic math, it will help. See, I’m going to take two points in time. There is this 1998 figure that shows that 55 percent of law graduates started in firms. And in 2011, that number was 50 percent. See? Not so bad! Of course, the fact that the rest of that pie chart shifted from federal government jobs to Starbucks and the fact that the starting salary for those in law firms has declined does not need to be mentioned because law students are notoriously bad at math!
And you shouldn’t even be thinking about first jobs! Law careers last 40 to 50 years, from graduation to your first stress-filled heart attack about billables or your firm merging with another and laying you off. The world turns, man, and you can’t just think about the first job which you don’t have yet! Moreover, we law schools teach creative problem solving, such as how to pay $125,000 in student loan debt when you only make $40,000. They will survive because we taught them well. Don’t forget to thank us in your next alumni donation!
And if you don’t go to law school, you’ll be filled with regret. Think you’ll be a doctor saving lives? Or maybe become an investment banker and steal from the American people twice (once through a bailout)? No. If I wave my magical statistical wand, you’ll see that if I look at historical averages over a long period of time, things look way better. Oooh. It’s like I’m an economist now! See the pretty picture? Much better than looking at the ugly short term and forecasting forward in light of technological and structural changes in the lawyer job market.
Yes, tuition has increased. If you compare it to med school, you’ll see that law school tuition only recently caught up to medical schools. No, don’t ask me if there is any reason why med school might reasonably cost more. I don’t know. I have stats on my side, though!
Debt is a huge, problem too. Law school grads have $125,000 in debt. But the average lawyer’s salary (in my mind and ignoring trends) is way better than that. You’d buy a house with that debt ratio. And someday in the distant future after you graduate someone who made that investment in equity maybe will buy one for you!
Investment in tuition is for your life’s career. (And the student loans are for life, too). There are many ways to get a return on investment. Such as a second job.
And don’t forget that the baby-boomers will retire someday. As more senior lawyers retire, mergers of law firms will occur, and their jobs won’t be replaced. Wait, I didn’t mean to say that. Logically, it makes sense if one person leaves a position, someone will have to replace him, right? It’s a circle of life kind of thing. You could be the next Simba! Doesn’t that sound much better?
Having wowed you with my statistics and mind-bending logic, let me tell a personal example with all the charm of a presidential candidate. A student we accepted needed to only borrow $5,000 a year. We gave her a generous package. She thought it would be stupid to borrow the money. And her 4.0 GPA and her perfect LSAT score indicated that she’s not stupid. Her short-sighted decision led her down another path, which I think is now the basis of the Broadway smash “Wicked.”
Sure, we law schools can be better. We are trying to figure out how to address problems. The biggest one is that people aren’t applying to law school as much because they aren’t understanding my logical, statistically flawless arguments.
Seriously, stop whining. Apply to law school. Trust me.
Future Dean, and Titanic Deck Chair Rearranger,