Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

General Sentiment

General Statement (many on JDU) I went to law school and nighthawk08/30/17
When I was looking at law school in 2001, that is in fact ab jackofspeed08/30/17
Thank you, Supreme Commander Obvious for yet another culture jddidtie08/30/17
I was thinking of you when I wrote it. nighthawk08/30/17
Doubtful. None of the above apply to me save for going to l jddidtie08/30/17
I love it when non-attorneys say something that indicates th themapmaster08/30/17
honestly I think it's a miracle for any liberal arts graduat uzername08/31/17
"I think it's a miracle for any liberal arts graduate to ear patenttrollnj08/31/17
the whole liberal arts major undergrad is the problem here. dingbat08/31/17
Keep in mind, in a lot of these other countries education is patenttrollnj08/31/17
and in other countries a professor's job is to teach, wherea dingbat08/31/17
Plus a law school teaches its students to be legal theorists nighthawk08/31/17
In my experience, law school tends to be geared toward appel dingbat08/31/17
No, not true! Graduates don't quite. They simply can't fin patenttrollnj09/01/17
It is not really a problem. Try to move up and you actually downwardslope08/31/17
I'd agree that anyone who has started law school in the past anothernjlawyer08/31/17
Wow this post hits home for me. I don't think I've ever agr miketrout08/31/17
I see a lot of people graduate law school and then take the nighthawk08/31/17
It's very possible to make 40-60 grand a year helping poor p dakotalaw08/31/17
Yes we all should return to school to buy a social worker de sanka08/31/17
I help clients qualify for welfare despite being f-cking loa dingbat08/31/17
Haha yeah the average welfare recipient sure got it good. 3lol08/31/17
A billionaire qualifies for Obamacare subsidies so long as t flyer1408/31/17
likewise taxation is based on income, not wealth. But gener dingbat08/31/17
Depreciation and carryover losses are all excellent ways to flyer1409/01/17
I spent years working in the tax avoidance industry. Yes, d dingbat09/01/17
Goodwill voodooo triplesix09/01/17
I've been trying to figure out nighthawk's true identity; I' williamdrayton08/31/17
I think I could cross (4) off that list. Simkovic after all flyer1408/31/17
Five and six may be one in the same http://esqnever.blogs 6figuremistake08/31/17
a cousin of mine recently lamented on facebook that "friends dingbat08/31/17
And lots of biglaw associate don't realize that they will ne mrlollipop09/05/17
"deserve" has nothing to do with it. dingbat09/06/17
Am I reading this correctly: biglaw associates do not deserv nighthawk09/06/17
"Deserve" should have nothing to do with this. Economics for loblawyer09/06/17
I earn a modest salary at a small law firm. If anything, I' themapmaster09/06/17

nighthawk (Aug 30, 2017 - 2:58 pm)

General Statement (many on JDU)

I went to law school and passed the bar. I have $220k in student loan debt. I was top 10% in college. I may have been on law review at a T3 school. I am intelligent and will work hard.

THEREFORE, I should be paid $100,000 plus benefits out of the gate, regardless of the market. Employers owe it to me. At the worst, I should have a government job paying $60k plus 3 months of vacation per year.

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jackofspeed (Aug 30, 2017 - 3:28 pm)

When I was looking at law school in 2001, that is in fact about what the publicly available outcomes regarding law school led one to believe. (Less debt back then, but worse rates and no IBR.)

Many people, who do not rigorously follow the travails of entry-level attorneys, still believe that all attorneys who are not purposefully seeking out low-paying public interest work make over $100,000 at a minimum. I submit this makes sense, since the most widely discussed attorney salaries are the publicly disclosed biglaw first-year class salaries. ($180k with bonus potential in New York in Anno Domini 2017).

This frequently cited number sets a psychological anchor in most folks minds that starting attorneys make salaries seemingly unconnected to any expert skills one might possibly develop in 3 short years of law school.

The number of such jobs is incredibly small given the enormous cohort of new attorneys licensed to practice each year.

The gulf between layman perception and the experience of most law school graduates is huge, and every law school graduate started out as a layman.

Less than a third of Americans have bachelor's degrees, less than 4 percent have professional doctorates. Most people will have rare interactions with an attorney, and very few with an attorney who will be comfortable being candid in describing the difficulties in the profession.

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jddidtie (Aug 30, 2017 - 3:09 pm)

Thank you, Supreme Commander Obvious for yet another cultured pearl of wisdom. I look forward to more insights that only an exceptional 115 IQ can offer.

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nighthawk (Aug 30, 2017 - 3:15 pm)

I was thinking of you when I wrote it.

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jddidtie (Aug 30, 2017 - 3:28 pm)

Doubtful. None of the above apply to me save for going to law school and passing the bar.

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themapmaster (Aug 30, 2017 - 7:20 pm)

I love it when non-attorneys say something that indicates they think I make a lot of money. At least I am perceived as making a lot of money! In reality, I make about as much as a entry level teacher, except without the benefits and summers off. And with the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to my elite liberal arts college and highly ranked law school.

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uzername (Aug 31, 2017 - 10:51 am)

honestly I think it's a miracle for any liberal arts graduate to earn above a $50k salary. laborers and skilled trades have much harder jobs, and their total earnings time is lower due to physical deterioration, and should be paid more.

the problem with law is US specific - it's ridiculous that it's a separate 3 year postgraduate program that costs $200k (@ 8%!!) + lost time + bar exam effort. It means when you have a J.D. people really expect you to be a high flying attorney. really, it should be a liberal arts major just like anything else studied in undergraduate and combined with another major (like in Australia). So if you study Law/Business in undergraduate you can either get a law firm job and get admitted, or you can say "well I have a strong understanding of legal principles and this informs my business abilities" and go work in some other corporate field. And you're 23 years old with minimal debt. Not such a big deal.

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patenttrollnj (Aug 31, 2017 - 1:34 pm)

"I think it's a miracle for any liberal arts graduate to earn above a $50k salary"

No, it's much more nuanced than that.

I went to an Ivy undergrad, and I can assure you that many liberal arts majors have done very well for themselves. We're talking history and English majors here, so I'm not referring to those who went into finance or business.

As for STEM, my experience is that unless you go into medicine, dentistry or certain specific engineering fields, STEM can be a road leading nowhere. The pay is awful, and job security does not exist (I actually have some experience with STEM fields).

I hate to say it, but it really becomes an issue of what school you graduate from. From a top undergrad, any major can lead you to a successful career, provided you play your cards right. From a lower-ranked undergraduate--good luck!

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dingbat (Aug 31, 2017 - 1:57 pm)

the whole liberal arts major undergrad is the problem here.

In many other countries, there's no liberal anything undergrad degree, every class is geared toward your major*. An LLB in england means you only study law. A computer science degree in germany means you've only studied computer science, etc.

You want to learn about basket weaving while studying medicine? great, but that's not part of your curriculum and you won't get any credit for it

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patenttrollnj (Aug 31, 2017 - 2:03 pm)

Keep in mind, in a lot of these other countries education is specifically geared towards putting you in a specific profession. Thus, directly out of high school, you are sent to a professional school, and it's the government of that country that is paying your education. For this reason, they limit the number of people they graduate--unless, of course, some politician gets involved, and class size increases to keep the masses happy.

In the US, education is a revenue-generating enterprise. Universities are as much an employment vehicle for (worthless and semi-worthless) professors, as they are for training people to enter the workforce. Thus, they offer the "liberal arts" majors to keep the student population coming, and they use lies of their "intrinsic value" to keep parents paying. After all, who wouldn't believe a respected university professor?

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dingbat (Aug 31, 2017 - 2:23 pm)

and in other countries a professor's job is to teach, whereas at "elite" institutions in the U.S., their job is to publish

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nighthawk (Aug 31, 2017 - 2:39 pm)

Plus a law school teaches its students to be legal theorists, not lawyers. The bar tests your ability to be a theorist. You need to learn how to be a lawyer on the job, which is part of the reason so many graduates feel frustrated and quit.

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dingbat (Aug 31, 2017 - 4:06 pm)

In my experience, law school tends to be geared toward appellate litigation - and nothing else.
While it is vital to know what kind of sht gets people in trouble, it doesn't teach you squat about actual practice.

Sure, there are some skill classes, like contract drafting, but even those have little to do with what the actual work entails. Most contracts are cribbed off another's - just find an older version and make the appropriate changes. Far more important is knowing the underlying mechanism, and that's not taught in any meaningful fashion.

Same with litigation - just because you took a class on what gets struck down on appeals doesn't mean you're ready to argue in front of a judge. Or you might learn in Civ Pro how many days before you need to file an Answer - but in real life, the only Answer you ever give is a request for an extension of time.

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patenttrollnj (Sep 1, 2017 - 9:04 am)

No, not true! Graduates don't quite. They simply can't find sustainable work.

Every graduate program teaches you theory, rather than anything practical. Law school is NOT unique in that sense. How to actually work the profession is learned on the job, or in some type of apprenticeship or residency.

With law, back in the days before the glut, that's what being an associate or a clerkship was about. That is where you'd train to be an actual lawyer, putting into practice the theory you learned in law school.

Today, unfortunately, there are simply not enough jobs for the number of graduates. Thus, your law school education goes wasted, since there is no vehicle to train you to practice. This situation is made worse by the fact that the law degree isn't versatile in the way that it is advertised, and now a highly frustrated and indebted student must re-train in some other profession .... or accept a "lesser" job simply to get by.

Bottom line: if there were sufficient jobs, nobody would give two sh*ts that law school was all theory.

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downwardslope (Aug 31, 2017 - 2:57 pm)

It is not really a problem. Try to move up and you actually need a broad base of skills to network and have intelligent conversation with people in various departments. People with liberal arts degrees tend to have higher salaries late in their careers because they can move up, while other majors do better early on.

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anothernjlawyer (Aug 31, 2017 - 11:15 am)

I'd agree that anyone who has started law school in the past 5-6 years can't complain about sh!tty job prospects. The scamblogs have been thriving for at least that long and any reasonable consumer should know that a law degree guarantees nothing but debt.

I started law school in 2003, before the scamblog movement. The schools, my college professors, parents, classmates, and pretty much every social / cultural reference I remember being exposed to confirmed that law school was a path to a good career. Remember Apollo Creed in Rocky telling kids to "be a doctor, be a lawyer..." we grew up with a cultural image of lawyers as being socially and financially successful. You figured that if you studied your a!! off, graduated, studied your a!! off again and passed the bar, and then worked your a!! off, or were at least willing to, that you'd have the opportunity to have a good career.

For a huge percentage of law graduates, that's simply not true. It's not a question of being "owed" a good job; rather, its having, before starting law school, a reasonable expectation that there'd be good jobs available for more than the top 5% of graduates.

It's like buying a piece of property to build a home. You realize that the house won't build itself, and that nobody's going to build it for you just because you bought the property, but the property gives you the opportunity to build. A law degree is like buying that piece of property only to find out that there's a huge sinkhole underneath it when you start to lay your foundation.

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miketrout (Aug 31, 2017 - 5:29 pm)

Wow this post hits home for me. I don't think I've ever agreed with something so much in my life. Great analogy!

And then you spend the first few years of your career trying to fill that sink hole with whatever experience you can!

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nighthawk (Aug 31, 2017 - 12:07 pm)

I see a lot of people graduate law school and then take the bar. At this point, if they did not get the well-paying corporate job, they fall into despair. They just stop hustling at that point. "I didn't get the corporate job, it's all over. Now I will compete for doc review jobs." Perhaps it may be helpful to work hard before, during, and after law school.

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dakotalaw (Aug 31, 2017 - 1:35 pm)

It's very possible to make 40-60 grand a year helping poor people with basic things. We need more lawyers who want to do this.

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sanka (Aug 31, 2017 - 1:43 pm)

Yes we all should return to school to buy a social worker degree and get a government job giving taxpayers' money to welfare recipient clients who live better than we do....

This thread started out interesting and full of promise, then careened into epic fail abyss.

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dingbat (Aug 31, 2017 - 1:52 pm)

I help clients qualify for welfare despite being f-cking loaded

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3lol (Aug 31, 2017 - 3:24 pm)

Haha yeah the average welfare recipient sure got it good.

I hear the people in jail get three free meals per day and a place to sleep. What a utopia!

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flyer14 (Aug 31, 2017 - 3:38 pm)

A billionaire qualifies for Obamacare subsidies so long as their adjusted gross income falls below a certain point in the prior year (a capital loss can easily get you there).

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dingbat (Aug 31, 2017 - 3:52 pm)

likewise taxation is based on income, not wealth. But generating paper losses year after year while still generating actual growth is a lot harder than you think.

Some programs are income-based, others are means-based. I prefer the latter.

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flyer14 (Sep 1, 2017 - 9:08 am)

Depreciation and carryover losses are all excellent ways to zero out your tax bill or even generate a tax loss while still putting money in your pocket. Winning?

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dingbat (Sep 1, 2017 - 9:28 am)

I spent years working in the tax avoidance industry. Yes, depreciation and carryover losses are an excellent way to zero out the tax bill - but it's very difficult to generate these year after year.

Yes, there are a lot of strategies that can be used to maximize the "benefits" of a loss, or to delay booking income to later years, but these are not as easy and readily available as you think. Remember, to depreciate assets you need to have assets that can depreciate - and these don't magically appear in your possession. Likewise, carryover losses (kinda) require actual losses.

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triplesix (Sep 1, 2017 - 9:53 am)

Goodwill voodooo

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williamdrayton (Aug 31, 2017 - 1:39 pm)

I've been trying to figure out nighthawk's true identity; I've come up with a few possibilities:

1. the late, not-lamented JDU Delusional Contrarian Venceremos
2. Joan King
3. Brian Leiter
4. Michael Simkovic
5. Steven Diamond
6. Baghdad Bob

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flyer14 (Aug 31, 2017 - 2:10 pm)

I think I could cross (4) off that list. Simkovic after all believes any JD is worth a million or more - thus, many JD's will immediately all land significantly above median wages upon graduation. 100k isn't too far off the pale.

(6) is more iconic, though. Typical of the bluster and bombast that is common with "communications directors" (the 21st century nomenclature of a propaganda minister.)

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6figuremistake (Aug 31, 2017 - 2:39 pm)

Five and six may be one in the same

http://esqnever.blogspot.com/2017/05/the-baghdad-bob-of-law-school-scam.html

Former Deans Matasar and Hobbs are also possible candidates.

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dingbat (Aug 31, 2017 - 1:51 pm)

a cousin of mine recently lamented on facebook that "friends" were hitting him up for money, because he worked for a Fortune 500 company and therefore must be rich.

There is no way he makes anywhere near 6 figures.

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mrlollipop (Sep 5, 2017 - 11:54 pm)

And lots of biglaw associate don't realize that they will never make 180K once they get washed out of biglaw.

And for biglaws,raising associate's base pay actually makes them less tolerate to on the job learning and force them to raise annual billing hours. Associates position also become less secure as they are being demanded more and become to expensive too soon.And this 180K thing also motivate more idiots who never should enter the profession to go to law school.

There are too many negatives to the industry for biglaws to pay 180K to associates which they never deserves. Nobody wants to mention this

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dingbat (Sep 6, 2017 - 3:39 pm)

"deserve" has nothing to do with it.

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nighthawk (Sep 6, 2017 - 4:12 pm)

Am I reading this correctly: biglaw associates do not deserve to start at 180k plus benefits and bonus but everyone else deserves to start at a small immigration firm paying 100k? Biglaw firms owe nothing to top graduates but small firm owners do?

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loblawyer (Sep 6, 2017 - 4:58 pm)

"Deserve" should have nothing to do with this. Economics for most biglaw firms does not remotely justify these salaries. Given the supply of law school grads, they could likely attract legions of the same talented kids at $140k a pop. The best and the brightest aren't going to law school these days anyway - I do not think $180k is changing that.

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themapmaster (Sep 6, 2017 - 7:17 pm)

I earn a modest salary at a small law firm. If anything, I'm amazed that I make as much of a fraction of 180,000 as I do. Many biglaw associates are working on deals or matters worth tens or hundreds of millions. Meanwhile I'm closing residential real estate transactions on slumlord properties and drafting Wills for factory workers. Relative to the size of the deals or matters I'm overpaid compared to biglaw associates.

The bottom line is this. The legal market is a free market. Associates are earning free market wages, and they're worth what employers are offering them. No more and no less. To say that associates in biglaw are overpaid is a defensible position but the burden should be on the one that asserts that to enlighten us on how the free market has got salaries wrong.

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