The T is for ‘Tarded

Posted in Reasons Not to Go to Law School on October 21st, 2010 by bl1y

When I appeared on the Down by Lawcast I supposedly said something along the lines of the cognitive deficiency that makes people score a 155 on the LSAT is the same deficiency that makes you view that 155 as a sign that law school is the right place for you. Honestly, I don’t remember exactly what I said because I was a couple drinks in and don’t listen to other shows when I’m on them. I have to listen to myself all day long anyways, why make it worse for me? If wouldn’t even listen to my own show if I didn’t have to the audio editing.

Well, apparently a few people took offense to that.  Guess where they fell on the LSAT curve.  If you were one of those people, here’s some math (ah! oh no! numbers is hard!) for you to consider:

The median score for the LSAT is around 151.  So, let’s assume you take the LSAT, get a 158, see that you’re at about 77th percentile, and figure that’s pretty decent, you’ve got 17 percentile points between you and average.

Except then something weird happens between getting your score and going to law school, causing the median score to jump way up.  Actually, two weird things.

First, some people won’t enroll in law school, and the people who don’t enroll are more likely to be on the low end of the spectrum than the high end.  If everyone who got a 140 or lower didn’t enroll anywhere, the median score would go from 151 to 153, and your 77th percentile drops down to 73rd.

Now here’s the second strange thing that happens.  Assume 100 people take the LSAT, 1 person gets a 127 or less, and 1 person gets a 172 or higher (those two numbers are the top and bottom 1%).  The LSAT is offered four times a year, so at the end of a year, you’d expect 4 people with 172+ and 4 people with 127- right?  If you said yes, you probably sucked on the LSAT.

At the end of the year, 4 people will have 172+, but only 1 or 2 people will have a 127-.  Why?  Because low scoring test takers are more likely to retake the exam.  People who do well stop taking it.

How does this affect you?  It means the part of the curve below you consists of a lot of clones, and they’re artificially propping you up.  They’ll stop propping you up in law school and in real life, where they go back to only counting once.

Of course, some people with good scores won’t go to law school (maybe they’ll become doctors instead), and some people with high scores will retake the exam (because they want top 5, not just top 14).  But, in general, people with lower scores are less likely to enroll, and more likely to retake the LSAT.

The LSAT is taken about 150,000 times a year, but law schools enroll only around 45,000 1Ls.  Your 77th percentile that looked so hot before isn’t just dropping down to 73rd, but probably closer to 50th.  If you started at the 50th percentile, you’re not safely in the bottom third.

So now, when you get your 158 on the LSAT, should you still be taking that as a sign you should go to law school?  Probably not.

Of course, the LSAT pretty much only tests logical reasoning and reading comprehension, and if you’re not good at those skills, you’re not going to understand any of this, and you’re probably not going to understand why it’s a bad idea for you to go law school in the first place.  After all, someone has to feed law tier four law school deans.  If not you, then who?

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Blind Drunk Promo 4

Posted in Blind Drunk Justice on September 15th, 2010 by bl1y

It’s Too Late LOL!

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Reason Not to Go to Law School #50

Posted in Reasons Not to Go to Law School on June 9th, 2010 by bl1y

Here it is…the big one…are you ready for it?

There aren’t two good reasons to go.

Boom!

That’s right, you shouldn’t go to law school because, odds are, you cannot come up with two good reasons for doing so.  I can come up with two good reasons to eat McNuggets (delicious and convenient), so if you can’t come up with two good reasons to spend 3 years and $100,000 on law school, you really should be reconsidering your decision.

So certain am I that no one will come up with two good reasons that I am going to issue a challenge to anyone out there who thinks law school is a good idea.  Send your reasons to nycbl1y@gmail.com, and I will explain, in detail, why those reasons are bad.  Don’t have two?  Doesn’t matter.  If you can find just one good reason to go, you’re at least half way there.  Send it in, and I will write a post explaining why you are wrong.

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Reason Not to Go to Law School #49

Posted in Reasons Not to Go to Law School on June 7th, 2010 by bl1y

Arms Race!

When you start law school in the fall there will be a few professors who have written study guides for their own classes, but they insist you do not read them until exam time is closer, because doing so will make the class experience less valuable to you.

A few weeks later, you’ll start to realize that when you get called on, you say dumb stuff and the professor openly exposes every tiny problem with your comments, but yet there are other students who engage in intelligent discourse with the professor.  Those other students read his study guide.  …And you should too.

But, you don’t read it just to save a little class room embarrassment, after all, most tests are graded anonymously and class room performance won’t affect your grade.  Read it early because it will help you understand the lectures and because you have a lot more free time at the beginning of the semester than at the end.  You can always read it later too, but then you’ve read it twice and have a leg up on the people just starting to read it for the first time.

Law students routinely engage in various forms of arms racing.  The most common is probably forming study groups.  Since classes are graded on a curve, studying early can really help your grade, but only if other people aren’t doing it, so it’s not just about getting started early, but getting started first.  You don’t want to be the kid who’s shocked that people have already formed their study groups weeks before you even learned what an outline looks like.

There is a way to completely ensure you won’t fall behind in the studying arms race.  No, you cannot form a pact with your fellow students to slack off until after Thanksgiving.  Half of law students cheat on exams, so they won’t think twice about breaking your pact.  The answer is to start studying right now.

That’s right, you’re not in school yet, you’re just enjoying your last summer.  Too bad.  This is the perfect time to start studying.  You have an abundance of free time that will disappear in law school.  During the summer you can easily read most of the materials that will be covered your first semester, so when you start school you have a huge leg up on the competition.

Go to your school’s website, find the professors that teach 1L classes, and see if any of them have written any study guides.  If so, buy them, and read them.  If not, just buy study guides from other professors.  Any time a case is mentioned, find it for free online somewhere, print it out, and read it two or three times.

If you study 8-10 hours a week this summer, you’ll still have plenty of free time for goofing off and getting drunk.  But, when law school starts, you’ll be spending your evenings reviewing material instead of trying to parse difficult cases for the first time.  You’ll be less stress, better informed, and light years ahead of the other students.

Remember, you’ll be interviewing for your second summer job before your 2L year, and you’ll only have your 1L grades to go on.  That second summer job will likely determine the outcome of the rest of your career, so a couple higher grades can be the difference in a multi-million dollar partnership track or contract attorney basement dwelling.

And, your first semester grades are more important than your second semester grades, because they’ll be the only grades you have when you go looking for your first summer job.  A good job that summer will make it a lot easier to land a great job second summer.

Lastly, be sure to pray that studying so early doesn’t catch on, because all you kids are royally screwed.  Sorry, but there is no detente.

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Reason Not to Go to Law School #47

Posted in Reasons Not to Go to Law School on May 23rd, 2010 by bl1y

The legal hiring donut.

Wow, look, two pink slips.  One for me and one for…hm… T-Pain.

I missed the boat, and
I’m unemployed, and
Moved in with the parents and gotta take the bar again,
Should’a been king of the world pullin’ one-sixty kilo,
Maybe happened for you, but not for me-oh.

Never thought I’d miss the boat,
It’s one big downhill road,
Sally Mae, stop calling meee.

This question comes from a reader, “That Guy,” who posted it in response to Reason #42 Not to Go to Law School.

I find it surprising that you know of people who were unable to find big law employment at NYU a T5 (T6) school. As someone questioning whether to go to law school, BL1Y, is it true that you’re pretty much fucked if you can’t land a big law position right out of law school since most big firms don’t hire unemployed recent gradates?

Yeah.  Pretty much.

Law firms have two roads in, you can either be recruited from your law school, or you can join as a lateral hire.  Law student recruiting usually goes through an on campus interview (OCI) week  where you’ll get a job for your second summer (few firms hire summer associates in their first summer).  At the end of the summer, you’ll probably get an offer for full time employment after graduation, starting around October (but with deferrals January, or even the next January).  In a good economy, about half of the firms that do on campus interviews will also consider 3L students who either didn’t get an offer from their summer gig, didn’t want to take it, or did a non-firm job for their summer.  Doesn’t mean half of the 3Ls that are looking for jobs will find them this way, just that half of the firms are willing to hear them out.

Then there’s lateral hiring for experienced attorneys.  These positions are aimed at either midlevel or senior associates, and typically ask for 3-5 years or 6-8 years of experience, and they generally are seeking people with very specific backgrounds, such as 3-5 years of international natural gas pipeline contract litigation experience.

This creates a gap for people in the 0-2 years experience range.  You either have no experience, or what little experience you have is fragmented across a dozen areas of law, so you don’t have in depth knowledge of anything.  There’s not really anything you bring to the table that’s different than a fresh graduate.

But, hiring a junior associate outside of the normal model creates a lot of extra work for law firms.  You’re not fitting into the training schedule they had set up and all the little meet’n'drinks they plan for the new arrivals.  Why bother with making special accomodations for someone when there’s a hundred clones that are less trouble?  Plus, you have the smell of unemployment on you, so firms will suspect there’s something wrong with you.  It’s like having a dry spell and then trying to get laid.  Girls can tell, and they assume there’s a good reason other girls have been staying away from you.  Why risk it?

That’s not to say there are zero law firm job opportunities for these people, but they are extremely rare.  And, when they do pop up, the people with 3-5 years of specialized experience are going to be your competition, not just other people who missed the law firm boat.

And don’t think you can go to a midsized firm, get some experience, and then transition into big law.  The type of work you do at a midsized firm can be entirely different from big law work.  You’re not going to be handling any multi-billion dollar mergers at Fred and Jack’s Law Firm and Tire Center.  It’s not just years of experience, but the kind of experience you’re getting.

I hope this helps you make your decision.  If you’re still on the fence, try to come up with two good reasons you want to be a lawyer.  If you can’t, that’s a good sign you should be doing something else.

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Reason Not to Go to Law School #46

Posted in Reasons Not to Go to Law School on May 14th, 2010 by bl1y

Dedman.

Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law is now offering to let law firms take a “test drive” of their grads.  Under the new programs, Dedman will pay a firm $3,500 to cover the cost of hiring one of its grads for a month.  (Apparently in Texas they haven’t heard of 2L summer.)  If the graduate is kept on full time, Dedman pony up another $3,500 to pay for the new associate’s second month’s salary too.

As pointed out on Above the Law, this will likely just put $7,000 in the pockets of firms that were already planning to hire a Dedman student anyways.  A $7,000 incentive isn’t really going to sway hiring decisions.

But, there’s something far more interesting going on, and to take a look at that, you’re going to need to take out your calculators.

$3,500 a month x 12 months = $42,000 a year.

Dedman tuition is just over $38,400.

$38,400 x 3 years = ~$115,000.

Let’s assume you took out loans to pay for tuition, but magically didn’t need to take out loans to cover anything else, like living expenses or bar prep classes, so you graduate with exactly $115,000 in debt.

Let’s also assume a 20 year repayment period and an interest rate of 6.0%.  Everyone done the calculations?  What did you get for a monthly loan payment?

$823.90, and that works out to just under $10,000 a year.

$42,000 – $10,000 = $32,000.  Think you could earn a little better than $32k a year without your law degree?

Yeah, great fracking investment.

PS: In case you’re thinking these numbers are unique to some fourth tier toilet you’ve never heard of like Dedman, …yeah, it’s actually ranked #48.  …Tier 1 and they have to pay people to take their graduates.

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Reason Not to Go to Law School #44.5

Posted in Reasons Not to Go to Law School on May 11th, 2010 by bl1y

It’s really REALLY expensive.

In Reason #44 I discussed how grossly overpriced legal education was compared to CLE training, with your bulk law school purchase costing somewhere between $90/hr and $150/hr, while CLE’s ranged from free to $70/hr.

Well, there’s another good legal educator we can compare law school to: BarBri.  They teach black letter law, the kind of stuff most non-law graduates think you learn in law school, and the kind of stuff you’ll definitely need for the bar exam, and probably use in your real life practice.

BarBri runs in the area of $2500, with some variations based on where you are, and provides somewhere around 80 hours of instruction.  I can’t get a hard number on the hours, because all I have is the schedule, which obviously has some time set aside from breaks.  Also, classes may vary from state to state based on what those states test.  So, I just added up the hours on the schedule, and then subtracted 1 hour from each day where 6 or more hours of class were scheduled.  Maybe my estimate is a little high, but I’m in the ballpark.

$2500 for 80 hours of legal education?  $31 per hour.

Pretty spot on for the costs for CLE training, and more evidence of just how incredibly over priced law school is.

Remember, BarBri comes with a free electronic copy of the lectures as an iPhone App, as well as all of your books.  Good luck getting that from law school.  (Actually, some professors do record their lectures, which is way better than an iPhone app because you don’t need an iPhone, though you can’t see anything they write, so maybe not better for some classes.)

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Reason Not to Go to Law School #44

Posted in Reasons Not to Go to Law School on May 3rd, 2010 by bl1y

It’s really expensive.

Wait…what?  Yes, I know, I’ve previously covered how expensive law school is, and how you’d be better off spending the money to buy a house in Vegas and gorge on pizza, whiskey and hookers.  But, here’s a whole new angle to just how ridiculously expensive law school is.

Quick refresher of just how much a single year of tuition is at a few schools:

Yale: $48,000

Chicago: $45,000

UVA: $39,000

Notre Dame: $39,000

American: $41,000

I think you get the idea.

The ABA requires you to park your ass in front of an over-paid douche bag for 56,000 minutes to get your paper.  That is, roughly 933 hours.  So, if your school costs you $30,000 in tuition per year, which is pretty low, it comes out to about $96 per hour to get educated.  (If you came up with $32/hr, you forgot that law school is three years.)  On the cheaper end, if you spent $20,000 a year, it would cost $64 an hour.  And, at the extreme high end, in the $48,000 range, we’re looking at $156 an hour.

As I discussed just a few days ago, there’s these classes that lawyers are required to take called Continuing Legal Education (CLE).  They basically cover changes in the law as well as basic stuff you should have learned in law school.  The one I attended on Friday cost $310 and had 6 hours of instruction.  So, you were getting legally educated at the low price of $52/hr.  That’s cheaper than all but a few schools that offer deep discounts for in-state tuition, and it’s a whole helluva lot less of the more common $96/hr price tag.

But, maybe the class I took was unusual.  We should look at a few other CLE classes and get their prices.  After all, the class was in Alabama, and we can expect the prices to be cheaper here.

Tomorrow (and the next day), there is a CLE in New York on Current Issues in Immigration Law for US Employers.  It costs $455 for a whopping 15.5 hours of CLE credit.  $29/hr.  Wow.  And, if you’re a member of the New York State Bar Association, it’s only $23/hr.

There’s also a drunk driving litigation CLE coming up in New York.  10.5 credit for $430.  $41/hr, or $29/hr with membership discount.

These are some pretty big bundles though, so maybe I should look at how much it costs to get smaller sessions.

NYSBA has a Landlord and Tenant Practice CLE that’s only 2 hours long and costs…oh, shit… it’s free.

Okay, here we go, ethics issues for solo practitioners, 3 hours at the price of $210.  $70/hr ($47/hr for members).  That’s more like it!

So, there are some high priced CLEs out there after all.  They’re tough to find, but they do exist.  Of course, the really expensive CLEs are still less than half the price of the high-end law schools.  LESS THAN HALF.

Oh, and get this, your CLEs include hand outs.  They basically come with the text book.  And mine last week also came with breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack, a flash drive with a copy of the printed materials (great for allowing electronic searches), and a parking token.  That’s right, a fracking $5 parking token so we got to park in the garage attached to the building for free.  BOOYA.  Good luck getting such a complete package from your law school classes.

But really, there’s one big concept that makes the law school prices just completely outrageous:

Economy.  Of.  Scale.

CLEs, just like law school, require facilities (rented, instead of owned), websites, administrative staff, tech support, the whole works.  But, if you know anything about how economics works, you know that as you provide a service to a larger group, it becomes cheaper.  So, you would think law schools, which often times have well over 1000 JD students (and then more LLMs) would be able to offer legal education at a much cheaper rate.  And, with CLEs you get a cheaper rate when you buy a big whole day, or even two-day package.  Basically, a bulk discount.  So, you’d think a 3-year package should be super cheap.  Law school should be the Costco or Sam’s Club of legal education.

Why the fuck isn’t it?

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Reason Not to Go to Law School #42

Posted in Reasons Not to Go to Law School on April 28th, 2010 by bl1y

You will not get a big law job.

This year Northwestern sent the highest percentage of its students to the big law jobs almost all law students covet.  But, even at the top of the pack, Northwestern managed to secure these positions for only 56% of its students, and that number includes students who have seen their start dates deferred and might ultimately never start at a big firm.

Yes, we’re in a recession, and hiring is way down.  But, even in a great year, like 2008 where graduates had seen two massive pay increases during law school, the top school only got 71% of its grads into big law.  So, best case scenario, 71%, and that’s the best school in a top hiring year.  It’s all down hill from there.

Now, yes, not all students want to go into big law, and that affects the numbers.  A lucky few will land clerkships, and others will opt to do public interest work or go to a midsized or small firm, not out of necessity, but choice.  Still, the vast majority of law students want the big law job and the big law paycheck, and the odds on getting it just aren’t very high.

Unfortunately, there is not yet any sort of survey that compares the jobs students got to the jobs they would have preferred, so any survey is of only very limited utility.  I knew of two people from my graduating class who were unable to find work at a firm.  One of them, after about 40 OCI interviews didn’t manage to eke out a single callback.  That’s just the people I knew about, so there were undoubtedly many more.  This was at a top 5 school.

You may looking at your T3 school and thinking “Whatevs, I don’t want to work 3500 hours at Skadden or Cravath.  You can’t pay the loans with prestige.  I won’t look at the super-prestigious firms, hell, I won’t even look at the top 100!  Big-ish Law, here I come!”

The survey data doesn’t consider Big Law to be the mega-prestige houses, or even the AMLaw 100.  “Big Law” for these purposes are the largest 250 firms.  That’s like considering a “top law school” to be anyone in Tier 1 or 2, or Sarah Silverman to an HB10.

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Reason Not to Go to Law School #41

Posted in Uncategorized on April 11th, 2010 by bl1y

I thought I’d said pretty much all there is to be said about how little you learn in law school.  But, as reported on AboveTheLaw, a couple speakers at the Future of Education conference summed up the dismal state of legal education.

Chester Paul Beach, General Counsel at United Technologies had this to say about the skillset posses by recent graduates:

“We don’t allow first or second year associates to work on any of our matters without special permission, because they’re worthless.”

Gillian Hadfield, USC Law Professor of Law and Economics agreed:

“As Paul said, graduating 3L students are worthless. They’re really, really awful.”

When asked about the epic fail going on at law schools, most professors and administrators say that there is a wide spread concern about this problem in the academy.  Unfortunately, what isn’t wide spread is people actually doing anything about it.  Law schools need to learn there is a huge difference in concern and action.  But really, when professors dedicate their time to useless tasks like making sure gender education pervades all levels of substantive legal education, it’s hard to believe the concern is genuine.

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