Non-Legal Careers for Law Grads

ABA Journal:  Law grads who can’t find a job may want to try expanding their horizons, according to the publication that ranks law schools.

There are success stories outside of law practice, says the U.S. News & World Report’s Law Admissions Lowdown. The blog lists five alternative careers for grads that “reinforce the versatility of a law degree, which brings with it a plethora of marketable skills.”

U.S. News lists these five careers and illustrates with the names of law grads who succeeded:

1) Journalism. Law grad success stories include Geraldo Rivera and Star Jones.

Read the otherlaw four alternative jobs for  grads.

Law Schools’ Disclosures Raises Red Flag

Law.com:  Law schools on the whole have not done a great job of providing comprehensive job placement data for the class of 2010, Law School Transparency reported on Jan. 17.

The group looked at the Web sites of 197 American Bar Association-accredited law schools in early January to assess the amount and quality of the job placement data provided. More than a quarter of those schools— 54 — offered no meaningful information, and 22 offered no information at all, according to the report.

The remaining 32 schools used “consumer-disorienting behavior”— for example, citing figures for the kinds of workplaces in which graduates found jobs but nothing about the types of jobs, the organization reported.

“Our findings play into a larger dialogue about law schools and their continued secrecy against a backdrop of stories about admissions fraud, class action lawsuits, and ever rising education costs,” the organization wrote. “These findings raise a red flag as to whether schools are capable of making needed changes to the current, unsustainable law school model without being compelled to though government oversight or other external forces.”

Read more about Law Schools’ Disclosures Raises Red Flag.

A Prescription for Law Schools: Go Back to the Basics, Return to ‘Terra Firma’

National Law Journal:  “Judge José Cabranes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2d Circuit offered a three-part remedy for what ails the U.S. legal academy before a packed ballroom of legal educators who gathers in Washington for the Association of American Law Schools annual meeting.  Cabranes, like others before him, noted that law schools are in ‘something of a crisis,’ given the skyrocketing cost of tuition, ever-higher graduate debts and a growing feeling that legal scholarship is of little use to the bench or practitioners. . . . ‘For years,

[the rising cost of tuition and growing debt loads] have raised eyebrows. Now, they raise blood pressure,’ Cabranes said on Jan. 6. ‘These developments literally threaten the enterprise of legal education‘.”

See the response to Judge Cabranes statements from Daniel B. Rodriguez, Dean and Harold Washington Professor at Northwestern Law, who wrote a blog post called “Neither sacred nor profane: Real life, real law schools” in which he inadvertently helps prove Judge Cabranes argument with statements like:

“The retreat from globalization?  Huh?  The attention directed by substantial segments of the professoriate to problems of the world is, to me, a source of pride.  The concern usually voiced is that American law schools do not do enough to orient students toward the increasingly international legal environment, not that they do too much. “

I left the following comment on Dean Rodriguiz’ blog.  I suspect he will not allow it to be seen by his readers.

You said “The attention directed by substantial segments of the professoriate to problems of the world is, to me, a source of pride.  The concern usually voiced is that American law schools do not do enough to orient students toward the increasingly international legal environment, not that they do too much.”

You are living in a dream world that is out of touch with reality.  I’ve practiced law for 31 years.  I’m a business lawyer who at one time was a partner in one of the largest firms in Arizona.  Not once have I or any of the lawyers I know in that time EVER had to deal with the international legal environment.  Perhaps some of the 1% of lawyers in the mega firms may do it, but 99% of lawyers just don’t come across international law and if they do they refer the client to one of the 1% that has experience in the area.

My son is starting his last semester at an excellent law school and he was reading to me the list of possible classes he could take.  He had already booked all of the courses for the semester, but needed one more 3 credit course.  As he read the available courses to me I was dumbfounded by the worthlessness of each course.  He settled on law and economics, the course that had the most hope for some useful information.  Excuse me! It’s not a class about law.

My son would have loved to have been able to take an advanced course on copyright law or trademark law, but the school only offered one course and it conflicted with a course he must take.  He would have loved to have taken any business law related course, but none were offered that he had not already taken.  Yes they offered two international law classes, but I said don’t waste your time on something you will never see.  These foo foo courses like international law are selected by the ivory tower types like yourself who have lost sight of what young lawyers actually do when they go out into the real world of the practice of law.

Legal education today sucks.  People like you who are involved in the economic raping of law students should be ashamed of themselves.  Instead of patting yourself on your back you should be doing the right thing by reducing the number of law students and cutting tuition by at least 50% and reducing the salaries of the faculty and administration.  Why aren’t you doing something about the fact the number of lawyer jobs in the U.S. is decreasing while the number of law students and the cost of law school continues to skyrocket?

P.S.  Merriam Webster’s online dictionary says professoriat does not have an e at the end.

January 13, 2012, Update:  I checked the Dean’s blog today and just as I suspected he did not allow my comment to be viewed on his post.  I left the learned Dean the following message today, which I again suspect he will not post:

“Just as I suspected you did not allow my comment to be displayed.  I knew you would not post my comment so I put it on my blog here:
www.keytlaw.com/blog/2012/01/law-school-basics/

How Long Can The Law School Bubble Last?

ABA Journal:  For Andrea, a past decision to ensure her future in law has left her in a stressed and distressful present. Concerned over how it might affect her job prospects, she would not allow use of her real name. And there is reason for concern: She’s been laid off twice since her 2009 law school graduation, including from a position where she earned $20 an hour at a small firm practicing as a licensed attorney. For the 29-year-old, who’s supported herself since college, the financial repercussions of law school may amount to the worst investment of her life, despite a degree from a second-tier school and a resumé that boasts a position on law review and coveted summer associate positions.

“I deferred my loans because of economic hardship the first time,” says Andrea, who borrowed nearly $110,000 to finance her education. “After that,” she falters, “they might be in forbearance … accruing interest … I just don’t know.”

Andrea’s situation is far from unique. In 2010, 85 percent of law graduates from ABA-accredited schools boasted an average debt load of $98,500, according to data collected from law schools by U.S. News & World Report. At 29 schools, that amount exceeded $120,000. In contrast, only 68 percent of those grads reported employment in positions that require a JD nine months after commencement. Less than 51 percent found employment in private law firms.

The influx of so many law school graduates—44,258 in 2010 alone, according to the ABA—into a declining job market creates serious repercussions that will reverberate for decades to come.

Continue reading here.

The Law School Bubble: How Long Will It Last if Law Grads Can’t Pay Bills?

ABA Journal:  “In 2010, 85 percent of law graduates from ABA-accredited schools boasted an average debt load of $98,500, according to data collected from law schools by U.S. News & World Report. At 29 schools, that amount exceeded $120,000. In contrast, only 68 percent of those grads reported employment in positions that require a JD nine months after commencement. Less than 51 percent found employment in private law firms.  The influx of so many law school graduates—44,258 in 2010 alone, according to the ABA—into a declining job market creates serious repercussions that will reverberate for decades to come. . . . Legal education may soon provide an object lesson of what happens when we do nothing: Bad things happen when lawyers and law professors stick their heads in the sand. The republic may be in need of some world-class lawyerly judgment. And maybe soon.”

Bring on the class action lawsuits against law schools and law professors.

25 Tips For Staying Sane During Law School

Online Colleges: 

Law school is stressful, and that’s by design: the rigors of earning your law degree are similar to the rigors you’ll endure as a budding legal professional, where only the strong survive. And although law school can be difficult, that doesn’t mean you have to become insane on the way to graduation. There are several ways to cope, prevent stress, and stop the insanity before it starts. We’ve outlined 25 tips that can help you stay sane and happy, and even live like a normal person now and then.

1. Keep your goals achievable

It’s great to set big dreams and work toward making them a reality, but be careful not to overdo it. Think about how you’re going to get there, and set achievable goals that you know you can reach along the way. Checking off goals that are realistic for you to achieve can really build your self confidence, and give you momentum to keep going for the big stuff.

2. Give your mind a break after lectures

After going through lectures and briefing, your mind needs a break. Although it’s tempting to go straight to the books, spending a little time vegging out is important to your mental health and energy. For an hour after your lectures are over, just take some time to do something else, like playing with your pets or watching TV. Anything that can temporarily get your mind off of law school and let you be yourself for a while.

3. Practice time management

Read 22 more tips here.

Proposed Formula For Law School Return On Investment vs. Tuition

ABA Journal:  Legal academics like to think their students are studying the law because they want to advance justice, right wrongs and serve the underprivileged. But most students are motivated at least partly—and often substantially—by the lure of money, according to a law dean who decided to evaluate whether law school makes economic sense.

In a paper set to be published by the William Mitchell Law Review, University of Louisville law dean Jim Chen realizes the reality and analyzes law school in terms of return on investment. In his view, law grads need to earn three times their annual tuition for adequate financial viability and six times their annual tuition for good financial viability, the National Law Journal reports.

The NLJ explains Chen’s theory. It would mean law grads at a school charging $16,000 a year in tuition would need to make $48,000 for adequate financial viability and $96,000 for good viability. Grads attending schools with annual tuition of $48,000 would need to make $144,000 for adequate viability and $288,000 for good viability. The formula assumes no other debt besides law school loans.

ABA Plans To Collect More Detailed Law School Information

ABA Journal:  An ABA committee has completed work on its proposed plan to begin collecting more detailed job placement and salary information about recent graduates from ABA-accredited law schools.

The proposed changes, which have been recommended by the Questionnaire Committee of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the ABA’s accrediting arm, will be presented to the section’s governing council at its Dec. 3 meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

If approved, the changes would begin to take effect with the graduate placement questionnaire law schools will be required to fill out regarding the as-of-Feb. 15 employment status of members of the graduating class of 2011. That questionnaire would be due back to the ABA on March 15.

ABA officials anticipate that the data, which will eventually be published in the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools, could be available on the section’s website as early as July.

Should Law Schools Offer Rebates To Dropouts?

ABA Journal:  Yale law professors Akhil Reed Amar and Ian Ayres are citing the example of an Internet shoe-selling company in an essay suggesting ways to discourage would-be law students who are unlikely to succeed after graduation.

Zappos offers $3,000 to new employees at the end of a four-week training course if they want to quit the company, the professors say in a Slate opinion piece. The idea is to rid the company of employees who aren’t enthusiastic to work there. Amar and Ayres think the idea could be modified for law schools.

Their proposal: Law schools could offer rebates of half the annual tuition to any students who quit after the first year. Then the schools could disclose what percentage accepted the offer, and the salaries they earned after dropping out. (Students who go on to law school elsewhere would have to repay the money.)

ABA May Approve New Disclosure Requirements For Law Schools

ABA Journal:  An ABA committee is moving quickly on a proposed new accreditation standard that would greatly expand the amount of consumer information law schools must publicly disclose to prospective students.

The Standards Review Committee, which met last weekend in Chicago, is now putting the finishing touches on its proposed changes to the standard, which it hopes to act on at its next scheduled meeting in Washington, D.C., in January.

The proposed changes would then go to the governing council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which could take up the committee’s recommendations as soon as March.

“We want to be in a position to move forward on this matter as quickly as possible,” committee chair Jeffrey E. Lewis said at the conclusion of last weekend’s meeting.

If adopted, the proposed changes would more explicitly state the categories of basic consumer information that a law school is required to publicly disclose on its website, including admissions data, tuition and fees, enrollment data, curricular offerings, library resources and physical facilities.

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