Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Talking people out of law school

I know this topic comes up from time to time, but I just had jonthomas03/06/17
If he won't listen to reason, the best thing you can do is c 6figuremistake03/06/17
This is kind of what I have been leaning toward - take a sch jonthomas03/06/17
Advice to transfer may not be good. Transferring from a full flharfh03/06/17
One of my students changed her mind after I lent her a copy kaneloa03/06/17
I don't believe I was ever successful in talking someone out greenhorn03/06/17
Not on law school, but I've tried to "wake up" people on oth qdllc03/06/17
"...dismissed my warnings as attempts to thwart future compe 3lol03/06/17
I've talked a few friends out of law school by telling them bucwild03/06/17
I usually feel bad for people too. But, when you tell someon greenhorn03/06/17
I make them watch the first 15 minutes of The Verdict Bas dingbat03/06/17
Never talked someone out of law school, but at least convinc trollfeeder03/06/17
This was me in a nutshell. I wish I would have listened. No banana03/06/17
I failed to convince a friend to avoid paying sticker at Val flyer1403/06/17
Go to Valpo, dine on Alpo. If he hasn't heard it yet, he wi inindiana03/06/17
I disagree with most on this thread. Yes, by all means tell nighthawk03/06/17
At the very least they should stay out of the red. Also, lot 6figuremistake03/06/17
Bootstraps!!! thedarkscrivener03/07/17
My new strategy: talk to the parents. I find parents ar patenttrollnj03/06/17
I've talked several people out of law school, including thos 2breedbares03/06/17
In my experience, smart and aware people are open to advice wolfman03/06/17
I no longer think it's my duty to dissuade people from going dieter03/06/17
I'd have to assume that, today, anyone ignorant enough to co anothernjlawyer03/06/17
I agree with this assessment. Nighthawk is living in a fanta cocolawyer03/06/17
I did not got to HYS; I went to a T2 school. I finished law nighthawk03/06/17
The other week you displayed clear anti-social to mental ill agentdalecooper03/06/17
Congrats on your success. I graduated from a T3 with $145k i thirdtierlaw03/07/17

jonthomas (Mar 6, 2017 - 9:41 am)

I know this topic comes up from time to time, but I just had a brush with this. The kid is looking at potential full-rides at a bunch of tier-3 and 4 schools, or potential sticker at tier-2s. No chance at anything in even the top-50. I tried to steer him to all of the usual suspects - LST, inside the scam, here. But he's as eager as ever.

Has anyone ever actually been able to talk someone out of going? How did you do it?

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6figuremistake (Mar 6, 2017 - 9:54 am)

If he won't listen to reason, the best thing you can do is convince him to take the money and maybe re-evaluate once 1L grades come in. If he only had to borrow for living expenses, at least when he realizes there aren't any jobs - or least any appealing ones for non-elite law grads, he won't be saddled with 6 figures of debt.

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jonthomas (Mar 6, 2017 - 10:22 am)

This is kind of what I have been leaning toward - take a scholarship, bust your ass for a year, and transfer somewhere decent. If that doesn't work, drop out. But how often do people actually stick to a plan like that and drop out if they fail?

It's one of those friend of the family type situations, so I have more credibility than some random adult, and I will probably have a few more chances to talk to him.

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flharfh (Mar 6, 2017 - 10:31 am)

Advice to transfer may not be good. Transferring from a full ride at a T3 to sticker at, say, flagship state U is at best an iffy prospect.

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kaneloa (Mar 6, 2017 - 12:16 pm)

One of my students changed her mind after I lent her a copy of "Failing Law Schools" to read. She hadn't taken the LSAT yet but I suspect she'd be at least over 160 and probably crack 170. I have suggested she take the test before she decide for sure, but so far she hasn't.

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greenhorn (Mar 6, 2017 - 9:53 am)

I don't believe I was ever successful in talking someone out of law school, but I definitely tried.

Although I know this sounds like I'm an evil person, but I found satisfaction in running into people I tried talking out of law school but who went anyway and ended up as in a position worse than before they went. I distinctly remember this one guy who I tried steering away from law school but he dismissed my warnings as attempts to thwart future competition in a "lucrative industry."

I saw him working a cash register at CVS.

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qdllc (Mar 6, 2017 - 2:28 pm)

Not on law school, but I've tried to "wake up" people on other important "mistakes" the average American is making. So often I get "tuned out," and I just have to walk away knowing that I at least tried to talk some sense into them.

I told people back in 2000 that a college education was a questionable "investment" given where employment was heading (and the cost of college). It was 2011 that the mainstream press started reporting exactly what I had been warning people about...insane tuition/debt, lack of good jobs, a lifetime of debt slavery for graduates, etc.

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3lol (Mar 6, 2017 - 9:57 am)

"...dismissed my warnings as attempts to thwart future competition in a 'lucrative industry.'"
"I saw him working a cash register at CVS"

I usual feel bad for people but this is a cause for lol.

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bucwild (Mar 6, 2017 - 10:03 am)

I've talked a few friends out of law school by telling them they will likely come out of school making barely more than they make now. That, combined w/ 3 years of loss income, is a no-brainer reason not to attend. However, my friends are close to 30, and make close to six figures, if not already. It's a lot harder to talk someone out of law school if that person is young and has little options now.

Try to convince them to get work as a legal assistant for a small firm in 6 months. That will show them more about the reality of practicing as a lawyer than a warning from a website.

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greenhorn (Mar 6, 2017 - 10:12 am)

I usually feel bad for people too. But, when you tell someone "don't do this, this is a bad idea," and they then call you names or completely ignore reason, I have zero sympathy for you.

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dingbat (Mar 6, 2017 - 10:24 am)

I make them watch the first 15 minutes of The Verdict

Basically, it's about an old sh*tlaw lawyer who wakes up in the crappiest boarding room (not even an apartment) you can imagine, trails through the obituaries in the papers, shows up at the funeral and gets thrown out for offering his services to the bereaved spouse.

Yep, that's how bad it sucks to lose the law school game.

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trollfeeder (Mar 6, 2017 - 10:24 am)

Never talked someone out of law school, but at least convinced a few to go only without debt or to a school with good job placement.

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banana (Mar 6, 2017 - 10:47 am)

This was me in a nutshell. I wish I would have listened. No debt, but a lot of wasted time.

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flyer14 (Mar 6, 2017 - 10:54 am)

I failed to convince a friend to avoid paying sticker at Valpo. Trust me, if someone wants to attend law school, no amount of facts will dissuade them

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inindiana (Mar 6, 2017 - 2:46 pm)

Go to Valpo, dine on Alpo. If he hasn't heard it yet, he will someday.

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nighthawk (Mar 6, 2017 - 11:05 am)

I disagree with most on this thread. Yes, by all means tell people the lay of the land. it is expensive, competitive, difficult, and you are a long shot for a decent job. 40k chasing ambulances or doing doc review in Sullivan & Cromwell's basement sucks. And those are the "lucky" ones.

Nonetheless, I disagree. If you think that you can be a successful lawyer and are willing to do what it takes then go to law school. I succeeded because of my sheer will power, despite what people told me. If you are speaking with someone and he/she is insistent on law school, by all means encourage them.

Success is based on what you make of yourself, not your law school's rank. However, if you let others dictate to you then those people will be right.

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6figuremistake (Mar 6, 2017 - 11:37 am)

At the very least they should stay out of the red. Also, lots of people who go to law school don't really have a burning desire to actually be attorneys - it's more a desire to have a respectable, upper middle class job. Anyone, who "wants to be a lawyer" should have real first hand experience working in the law and know that he/she could very well be hustling for work at low pay for years before ever realizing his/her dreams. This stark reality would probably clear out 80% of prospective students (if they were willing to listen).

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thedarkscrivener (Mar 7, 2017 - 9:35 am)

Bootstraps!!!

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patenttrollnj (Mar 6, 2017 - 12:07 pm)

My new strategy: talk to the parents.

I find parents are more receptive to what I have to say than the 20-somethings.

However, like someone said above, it's not fruitful to tell them NOT to go. I figured this out the hard way. Young people really are hopeful, so me jumping up and down telling them how law school is won't dissuade anyone. It's more fruitful to simply explain the problems, and allow them (in consultation with their families) to make the decision for themselves.

If they do decide to go, I wish them luck AND offer to help in any way I can.

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2breedbares (Mar 6, 2017 - 12:39 pm)

I've talked several people out of law school, including those who had T14 prospects. One, don't rely on the bleak statistics because that doesn't appeal to their individuality. Second, take more of a life coaching approach, i.e. figure out their interests, what motivates them, etc. If you rattle off about how miserable law is, you sound like you're just compensating for your own personal failures. Rather than talking about the likelihood of failure, I've had more success talking about what it takes to succeed (a lot of hard work, long hours, not spending time with family, navigating career ceilings, more). It gets people thinking critically about what they want the next ten years of their life to look like. More often than not, they'll make the right decision.

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wolfman (Mar 6, 2017 - 1:04 pm)

In my experience, smart and aware people are open to advice (they are a tiny minority).

Most people either ignore you or try to attack you by pointing out your own shortcomings, and why these are the reason for your being an idiot failure - and why, by implication, their lot will be different (see recent thread on Arizona for an example).

I've largely stopped discussing the subject with most people for that reason... if you are unable to understand that I derive no actual or even potential benefit from your not going (I don't practice and am trying hard to get out of law; if I ever get a law job, however, it will likely be with an agency that doesn't even review resumes off the street) and am actually trying to do a good deed purely out of Christian charity (or secular empathy, if you are an annoying atheist)... well then: Godspeed!

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dieter (Mar 6, 2017 - 3:30 pm)

I no longer think it's my duty to dissuade people from going to law school. When 0Ls find out I'm a lawyer, they express that they are planning on going to law school. After a complete of interest on my part, they'll usually ask for advice, to which I respond "Don't go. It's a mistake for most people." If they ask why, I'll ask "Why do you want to be a lawyer?"

I'll engage as much as they want, but a refusal to show any enthusiasm for their plan usually results in a quick end to the conversation.

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anothernjlawyer (Mar 6, 2017 - 3:56 pm)

I'd have to assume that, today, anyone ignorant enough to consider at T2 or lower school is probably too stupid to listen to good advice.

Nighthawk, it's great that you've had success, but telling someone that "sheer will power" will result in a rewarding legal career is terrible advice. If "sheer will power" didn't get you a 170 LSAT, a T14 offer, top 10%, or law review, why is it going to start working for you now? If you don't have those things, you're already lost.

Obtaining economically desirable legal employment requires pedigree (T14, top of class, law review, etc.). A T2 law education isn't pedigree. T2 graduates have 2 options: obtain sh!tty employment working for someone else, or, work 110 hours a week, hustle constantly, advertise, scramble, get lucky, somehow build a practice, and maybe, just maybe, build respectable business. The thing is, you don't need a law degree to do that. Building a smallaw business from scratch is probably more difficult, less likely to succeed, and no more lucrative than starting a landscaping / plumbing /locksmithing business, running a food stand / restaurant, or doing a million other things. True, statistically, a very small number of law school graduates will build successful careers from the bottom / scratch. The vast majority of them won't.

If you don't have 2 of three, don't go:
1) Admission to HYS
2) Ability to graduate with less than 75K in debt
3) Lead-pipe lock family connections that guarantee desirable legal job out of school.

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cocolawyer (Mar 6, 2017 - 5:00 pm)

I agree with this assessment. Nighthawk is living in a fantasy land. Pure hustle doesn't do anything if you don't have everything else associated with that hustle. You will always be limited.

Where you really nail it is the fact that you can do ANYTHING as well as law with hustle. You also can make as much money doing ANYTHING as law with hustle. The difference is that law is full of despair, conflict, and endless stress. I am doubtful if running a landscape empire is going to keep you up at night or cause premature stroke.

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nighthawk (Mar 6, 2017 - 5:15 pm)

I did not got to HYS; I went to a T2 school. I finished law school with well over 75k in debt. I did not have any great family connections. I was not on law review and did not graduate with honors. However, I made something of myself in other ways. I have a high-level corporate job with good pay, decent hours, and benefits. Others can do the same. There are ways to enhance your resume without law school credentials. If you believe you are a loser because you lack the above-mentioned credentials then you are a right, you are a loser. If you believe that you are a doc review lawyer because you had a 3.2 GPA at a T3 then you are correct. You will not be making life happen; life will happen to you.

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agentdalecooper (Mar 6, 2017 - 5:29 pm)

The other week you displayed clear anti-social to mental illness destroying a guy who went to you for an informal interview. You said your shtick now stop harrassing posters and read the rules.

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thirdtierlaw (Mar 7, 2017 - 9:56 am)

Congrats on your success. I graduated from a T3 with $145k in loans. I've also been able to make a go of it. Mainly I did it through networking and busting my butt during an internship. That does not mean that everyone or even most people can do the same. Plenty of people can and plenty will fail miserably. The question is whether or not it makes sense for a person to gamble with these life changing consequences.

Law school ended up working out for me. Even with my large student loan payments, I am making more than I would be in my home city without a law degree. However, I cannot ever leave the law. My legal experience has not given me any experience I can use to command a higher salary in the nonlaw world. So when you look at my debt, it is hard to say whether or not law school was the right decision.

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