Life After Law School

Since September 1 I’ve written law school recommendations for 15 students. They’ve all heard my spiel (don’t go straight from college, work, live, mature, ask lawyers what they like and dislike about their jobs,* think about why you want to be a lawyer, analyze what type of job you could realistically attain after graduation and whether the $100,000+ investment makes sense). Some–evidently the really, really intelligent ones–have read all of my blog posts about law school. A few have even followed some of my advice.

I’ve not posted often recently about law school. The legal market is not as bad as it was a few years ago, and most prospective law students have done due diligence before coming to me for advice. So this cold shower is overdue.

The opening sentence of Law Firms Keep Squeezing Associates from the Wall Street Journal Law Blog:

Law firms are finally starting to recover from the recession, but they aren’t taking their young lawyers along for the ride.

The post fleshes out various ways in which associates are being left at the station: flat salaries and bonuses, outsourcing entry-level work, demanding billable-hour expectations, longer partnership tracks, attrition. Here’s the quotation most immediately relevant to current and prospective law students:

[R]eputable firms*** can be even more picky about whom they hire. While firms still compete for the highest-ranking graduates from Ivy League and other top law schools, it is a different story for solid candidates who lack gold-plated résumés. Students with lower class rankings or from second-tier schools who once would have made the cut “wouldn’t have a prayer of getting in now,” Mr. Dantzler [hiring partner at White & Case] says.

A harsh reality for the majority of law students.

*The response is universal: “Don’t go to law school.”**

**That’s not what I tell prospective law students. I say make an informed decision.

***Note the unthinking snobbery in the phrasing: reputable firms. So those law practices that employ the vast majority of the legal profession are . . . disreputable firms? The author means “large national and International corporate law firms that pay the highest salaries to first-year associates.” Those who work in such firms believe it means “firms at the pinnacle of the legal universe for quality of clients and practice” (a/k/a “the only firms fit for a lawyer of my superior skills”). Some who’ve worked at such firms and left for any of a thousand reasons define the term as “those firms filled with lawyers who combine Type A personalities and a desperate need to believe they’ve might the right career choice, despite the misery and unpleasantness of almost everyone around them.”

2 Replies to “Life After Law School”

    • DavidRandall

      Also key is performing exceptionally well in law school. Rarely will it help one’s candidacy to be in the 50% of the class–but that is where 1 out of every 2 law students ends.

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