Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Is it really law school's fault?

Sure, they are spinning employment numbers, but do other gra notreallyalawyer09/18/17
Some MBA programs probably do but I don't see the Business S caj11109/18/17
Why not just go solo? Appointed cases in rural areas of rur lawlyer8209/24/17
Yes, I'd say other graduate programs do the same. The d patenttrollnj09/18/17
I kind of disagree. Law school doesn't teach you remotely ho notreallyalawyer09/18/17
Here's the thing: NO graduate program teaches you how to pr patenttrollnj09/18/17
This is all true, but those other professions require experi onehell09/19/17
That is true. In law, training is more a "convention" rathe patenttrollnj09/19/17
Law School wouldn't be as big of a problem if they closed ha thirdtierlaw09/18/17
You could say the same thing about particular undergrad majo notreallyalawyer09/18/17
The difference is... it's undergrad. You're still young, st caj11109/18/17
7 law schools have shut down over the past few years. All o caj11109/18/17
If something can't go on forever...it wont. Eventually there onehell09/19/17
Yes, agree 100%. patenttrollnj09/19/17
I don't blame law school for anything other than giving me t isthisit09/19/17
It would probably take a book to chronicle the sins of the l 6figuremistake09/19/17
Again, I went to Michigan undergrad, when out of state tuiti notreallyalawyer09/19/17
I know people who have spent years in jail that are 100x bet sanka09/19/17
I meant that when they got out of jail, despite being felons notreallyalawyer09/19/17
This perfectly summarizes the Dickensian state of many law s patenttrollnj09/19/17
There is definitely abuse at the undegrad level, but it isn' 6figuremistake09/19/17
Law schools should take a large chunk of the blame also beca thedarkscrivener09/19/17
Yale or fail! triplesix09/19/17
I see a number of people who graduate from law school with w nighthawk09/19/17
Makes for a great lawl circle jerk tho. Gunners luv it too! triplesix09/19/17
It doesn't matter how practice-ready the lawyer is if the sc flyer1409/19/17
The whole practice ready discussion is a red herring, and it triplesix09/19/17
The flip side is I would have done a lot better in law pract flyer1409/20/17
Not disputing that but when a lawl school speak practice rea triplesix09/20/17
I wish they treated law school a bit more like a trade schoo thirdtierlaw09/20/17
The real problem with "practice ready" is that most law prof bsj2310/04/17
Do you think the reason law schools don't change the third y notreallyalawyer09/20/17
I would have to say that's largely the reason why, if not th caj11109/20/17
Some State's have tried implementing small versions of this, thirdtierlaw09/20/17
While you can technically set up your own shingle after law notreallyalawyer09/20/17
If that's truly the case, it doesn't look like that requirem caj11109/20/17
Where did you get that from? How is every divorce shop start nighthawk09/20/17
I'm a member of the NY Bar, this is the first Rule. RULE notreallyalawyer09/20/17
You can be competent in an area right after law school. Noth nighthawk09/24/17
All this talk of "changing" the third year of law school is patenttrollnj09/20/17
which is exactly why the residency idea will never take hold wolfman09/20/17
It's very unlikely. Too bad. patenttrollnj09/20/17
Hmm....I am not in a bad position so I really can't comment cocolawyer09/25/17
That's when I write a letter to the editor reminding them th flyer1409/26/17

notreallyalawyer (Sep 18, 2017 - 7:18 pm)

Sure, they are spinning employment numbers, but do other graduate programs do the same? I don't blame my law school for my predicament (even though it's 2 or 3 tier law school). It's my personality/anxiety as to why I'm unemployable. Everyone else I was on law review with got jobs, good jobs. I'd take anything at this point. People who were bitter at me for being on law review, being top 5% have good jobs. I can't get a job to save my life. I have to be the worst off person in my class if not my law school. I am literally getting rejected for temp doc review jobs now employed directly by the firm.. They don't even want to risk one day of me.

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caj111 (Sep 18, 2017 - 7:29 pm)

Some MBA programs probably do but I don't see the Business Schools getting the same level of flack that law schools do for a few reasons - Business School is two years instead of three (hence, potential for less debt), many people in Business School are having it paid for by their employers (hence a smaller group of potentially unemployed people after graduation) and MBAs are not viewed as so "limiting" as a law degree might be; an unemployed MBA probably has more confidence about starting their own business than an unemployed JD, however rightly or wrongly.

There are other Master of Professional Studies (MPS) or even regular Masters programs out there that are also of dubious quality that have spun employment numbers too and largely seen as cash cows for for universities; however, these are largely 1 or at most 2 year programs, hence less of a scam and the group of people who feel they were scammed by these programs is so fragmented and widespread in many different areas of study, and not all of them are immediately looking to get a job either.

The people who feel scammed by law schools are more "united" as a group so to speak; all feel they are in the same boat...they all spent three years of their life working toward the degree, all went into a program that is supposed to be designed to get you a job, more so than any other graduate program.

Hence the message boards and blogs like this one and so many others.

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lawlyer82 (Sep 24, 2017 - 8:46 pm)

Why not just go solo? Appointed cases in rural areas of rural states = high five figures.

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patenttrollnj (Sep 18, 2017 - 8:31 pm)

Yes, I'd say other graduate programs do the same.

The difference, however, is that law school is specifically designed to make you a lawyer. By contrast, most other graduate programs are rather nebulous as to what they train you to do. They're also generally much less expensive than law school, so you're not quite as in debt afterwards.

But yes, I'd agree with your statement. I think most post-graduate study (even if it's STEM) doesn't result in the type of careers students anticipate.

Also, regarding caj111's comment that law school graduates are more "united"--again, yes ... and I think the fact that law school is designed for a specific purpose has something to do with that.

I'm sorry you're having trouble finding work. It sucks that you got on the law review and are still having problems.

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notreallyalawyer (Sep 18, 2017 - 8:36 pm)

I kind of disagree. Law school doesn't teach you remotely how to be a law school. Even at Harvard they don't teach you how to be a lawyer or do things that lawyers do. You just learn the black letter law, and how to take law exams. I'm good at taking law school exams, but I would probably have been a terrible lawyer if someone had given me a chance to be a lawyer.. Think about it, if they taught you how to be a lawyer, and assuming if bar exams are in any way related to the practice of law (which I doubt) then why do most people need to take bar review courses?

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patenttrollnj (Sep 18, 2017 - 8:39 pm)

Here's the thing: NO graduate program teaches you how to practice a profession. That you learn on the job, or in an apprenticeship, clerkship, residency, post-doc, etc.

The schools give you the right to sit for the licensing exam, as well as some theoretical knowledge. Note how traditionally law school graduates would become "first year associates" or "junior associates" or enter a clerkship. That was analogous to the post-doc PhD graduates would go through, or the residency doctors/dentists/pharmacists would do upon graduating. It's the same everywhere.

This is why making law school more "practical" or "practice ready" isn't relevant. It's just a deflection by the law school establishment, thereby obscuring the real problem of far, far too many law school graduates for the available jobs.

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onehell (Sep 19, 2017 - 1:54 am)

This is all true, but those other professions require experience to get that license. A doc's residency has to be accredited. It has to have faculty and a curriculum. It's a true apprenticeship. Heck even Clinical social workers can't get licensed without 2000 hours of postgrad experience and that experience has to cover certain areas.

Law is the only graduate school where merely passing the exam gets you a license to practice independently, and where the training you're expected to get postgrad isn't training at all, but just an entry level job where you may be trained, or may be told to simply sink or swim. Every other profession makes training a prerequisite to full licensure and has some standards that experience must meet beyond just verifying hours.

Its a catch 22 for lawyers who don't get biglaw: can't get experience without a job, can't get a job without experience. The fact that the unemployed JDs have the option to hang a shingle without a single hour of experience, however, is downright dangerous.

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patenttrollnj (Sep 19, 2017 - 10:21 am)

That is true. In law, training is more a "convention" rather than a formal "apprenticeship." It's also generally subsidized by the clients of a law firm, rather than via government subsidies.

Perhaps if there were fewer law graduates, legal training would have evolved more towards the direction of a formal apprenticeship with specialties and subject-specific bar exams (in addition to the state bar exams). However, in its current state, there is little incentive to crate such a system. Rather, the incentive is to keep it chaotic so that more people are duped into attending law school, and those who fail to obtain legal employment are (in theory) directed towards the (non-existig) "JD Preferred" jobs.

Frankly, I think there is a real danger to the law school establishment if formal apprenticeships are established. Think of it, statistics will be released almost instantly specifying how many graduates of a certain law school got into such an apprenticeship. This can look really bad for many schools.

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thirdtierlaw (Sep 18, 2017 - 9:09 pm)

Law School wouldn't be as big of a problem if they closed half of them and limited class sizes.

Sadly none of the schools are offering to shut their doors.

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notreallyalawyer (Sep 18, 2017 - 9:35 pm)

You could say the same thing about particular undergrad majors, particularly stuff like gender studies. Completely useless, yet people still get those degrees. Schools make money off it, knowing there's no chance these people will be employed in those fields unless some nuts make a federal department of gender studies.

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caj111 (Sep 18, 2017 - 11:40 pm)

The difference is... it's undergrad. You're still young, still can go to grad school, still can be trained by potential employers, still have something of an open mind. I don't have any percentage statistics, but I think it's fair to say that there are a lot of people who get undergrad degrees in totally useless majors but manage to go to very fulfilling careers, some with a graduate degree, some without. Plenty of english and philosophy majors have ended up at investment banks, talent agencies, the publishing industry, you name it...

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caj111 (Sep 18, 2017 - 11:46 pm)

7 law schools have shut down over the past few years. All of them crap schools, although some might consider Whittier a "real" law school, since it was around since 1966, ABA accredited and actually churned out a few prominent alumni. The rest were a joke, but 7 schools closing down is at least some sign of progress and the academic world coming to its senses.

Unfortunately, there are four new proposed law schools right now. Can only hope someone comes to their senses about those. No doubt that someone will propose another law school if there's the slightest hint of the economy improving too.

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onehell (Sep 19, 2017 - 4:04 am)

If something can't go on forever...it wont. Eventually there will be no choice but to either cut price, close schools, or implement some kind of third party payment/insurance system like that brought us from the era of quack doctors getting paid in chicken feed and making house calls. I'd prefer this last approach.

We forget it now, but before insurance and Medicaid and Medicare became widespread, there was a "doctor glut."

Same thing here. Shortage of paying demand doesn't mean shortage of need, as any legal aid can tell you. if there was a sort of "Medicaid for legal services," we'd all do fine. Indeed, not having housing and food stamps and whatnot contributes to a lot of expensive ER visits and jail stays, aka the "social determinants of health." A third party payment scheme shouldn't be as far fetched as it is.

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patenttrollnj (Sep 19, 2017 - 10:25 am)

Yes, agree 100%.

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isthisit (Sep 19, 2017 - 7:51 am)

I don't blame law school for anything other than giving me the degree without the business and practice skills to open up a practice from the start.

I did a semester of clinic and I took some of the "practice" classes.

But I would have killed for an entire year of just clinic and practice oriented classes instead of garbage like Animal Law or Long-haul Trucking and American Transportation Policy. But with limited sections, classes, and the need to graduate on time, I took what I could and filled the rest with policy and general law classes in areas I'd never see as a New Jersey/New York small time lawyer.

I don't blame my school for debt (I don't have any plus Rutgers is pretty cheap in-state), their employment #s (I already assumed all non-elite school #s are BS), and the stresses of being a lawyer (that's just the field and my ability to cope).

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6figuremistake (Sep 19, 2017 - 9:10 am)

It would probably take a book to chronicle the sins of the law school cartel, but in a nutshell - the schools charge an exorbitant amount of money for a degree that they know provides mediocre to poor employment outcomes for many if not most students. This is particularly prevalent on the lower end of the LS spectrum.

The root of the problem is a student loan system that encourages such rent seeking behavior. Nonetheless, it seems like few other programs have taken advantage of the free money to the degree we see with law schools. As someone mentioned, MBA programs are shorter and there is a self imposed barrier to entry - you need to have 2-5 years of work experience to gain admission to most programs. Humanity PhD's are largely worthless and time consuming, but they are usually funded and no one is expecting any sort of riches from such programs.

In recent years, law schools have been forced to restrain themselves in waiving around expectations of six figure salaries, but back in the day they were pretty shameless about promoting such employment/salary puffery. For example, Seton Hall Law used to have an employment page where they even listed six figure starting salaries for graduates who went into *business*. Today, they don't list any salary information at all.

In fact, before there was greater transparency, nobody needed to engineer a study about the long term (million dollar) benefits of a JD because the schools could get away with these exaggerated claims of short term financial success. They didn't need to resort to dubious but less verifiable projections of future wealth.

Even with the easy student loan money, the law schools are hurting now that they've been exposed. Despite guaranteed financial access, many potential students are rejecting law school because the employment outcomes are so unimpressive. If the student loan system wasn't so liberal with disbursements, the law school system (as we know it) would disappear tomorrow.

When you have an entire educational system that only prospered because of phony expectations and abusing government loans (and protection from bankruptcy), I'd say, yes, the perpetrators of this system should be blamed. They may not have been the only offenders, but they were among the worst.

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notreallyalawyer (Sep 19, 2017 - 9:17 am)

Again, I went to Michigan undergrad, when out of state tuition cost $18,000 a year. Now it costs over $40,000 a year for tuition alone. Say if a student there today got a degree in African Gender Studies. $200,000 on tuition alone. that's worse than law school because it's 4 years instead of three. Yet nobody is really questioning undergraduate programs for these really expensive completely useless degrees. I'm spending time talking to my shrink now about how I know I'd have been better off dropping out of high school and going into a trade. It didn't matter that I did well in high school, college and law school. It never helped me to even be able to support myself. I'm furious at myself for having bothered to study, for bothering to have tried hard, to have succeeded, because my success led to my failure. I know people who have spent years in jail that are 100x better off than I am.

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sanka (Sep 19, 2017 - 9:24 am)

I know people who have spent years in jail that are 100x better off than I am.

Three hots and a cot!!!

The short answer to the entitled question is, "Yes!"

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notreallyalawyer (Sep 19, 2017 - 9:32 am)

I meant that when they got out of jail, despite being felons, they still have better employment prospects than I do, they are married, own homes.. I can't even support myself.

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patenttrollnj (Sep 19, 2017 - 10:30 am)

This perfectly summarizes the Dickensian state of many law school graduates.

People who spent years in jail are better-off than insolvent law school graduates.

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6figuremistake (Sep 19, 2017 - 9:40 am)

There is definitely abuse at the undegrad level, but it isn't as pronounced. Financial aid works differently for undergrad, so few people pay sticker and you can't borrow an unlimited amount of money like you can with GradPlus. It's far less common to see undegrads graduating with six figures worth of debt - I think the average is around $30-40k. Also, while there may be somewhat of a societal expectation to go to college, undergrad liberal arts programs aren't luring people in with exaggerated salary figures. Also, while plenty of undergrad degrees aren't very practical, a BA/BS is an essential credential for many jobs - you open your options up by having such a degree. Conversely, if you don't practice law, the JD has no real benefit and may even be an obstruction early in your career.

Nonetheless, it seems like the impetus for your post is less policy oriented and more personal. I empathize with your situation - regardless of where you place the blame. I was unemployed for a year after law school, and it took many years of working lousy jobs before I was able to build any sort of career. I hope things work out for you and you can start working your way back up.

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thedarkscrivener (Sep 19, 2017 - 11:11 am)

Law schools should take a large chunk of the blame also because the law is one of the few fields in which where you went to school determines 90% of your career path. I had a friend who really enjoyed our corporate law class and was told flat out *by the professor* that he would never get a corporate law gig because of the 3rd-tier status of our school.

Sure, getting into a higher ranked MBA will open doors at first, but where you go after that is determined by you, the connections you make and how hard you're willing to work.

You could be the best lawyer on the planet, but where you went to law school will haunt you for the rest of your career.

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triplesix (Sep 19, 2017 - 11:20 am)

Yale or fail!

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nighthawk (Sep 19, 2017 - 1:22 pm)

I see a number of people who graduate from law school with weak prospects and decide to open their own firms doing small law. They do PI, wills, immigration, traffic tickets, L/T and the like. They do that because it is almost impossible to do any corporate law by yourself. It is much easier to break into those fields as a newbie.

Imagine if law schools actually taught lawyer skills instead of the legal theory garbage that they currently teach: instead of solos and twosome newbies popping up here and there to draft wills and fight for "justice," there would be dozens of firms popping up to do the same thing. New graduates would think that they have the skills to open their own PI shops and make a crowded market even more insane. There would be more billboards about Robert Q. Von Willingham III fighting for justice of the downtrodden and defending those that did not stop for the stop sign of a school bus. I'm not sure that there would be any upgrade than the current situation.

Also, those law school clinics, which provide some good experience, do not provide real life experience. Neither does arguing by a moot court competition. These are not real life scenarios.

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triplesix (Sep 19, 2017 - 1:28 pm)

Makes for a great lawl circle jerk tho. Gunners luv it too!

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flyer14 (Sep 19, 2017 - 1:39 pm)

It doesn't matter how practice-ready the lawyer is if the school still graduates double the number of lawyers the market can absorb.

You just wind up with a very practice-ready but still unemployed lawyer.

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triplesix (Sep 19, 2017 - 1:43 pm)

The whole practice ready discussion is a red herring, and it always has been.

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flyer14 (Sep 20, 2017 - 9:07 am)

The flip side is I would have done a lot better in law practice if my civil trial practice class (which was actually done in a courtroom as the adjunct was a sitting county judge) was 15 credit hours instead of the 3 credit hours that it was.

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triplesix (Sep 20, 2017 - 9:16 am)

Not disputing that but when a lawl school speak practice ready, they are just shifting blame on their graduates who didn't get the job bc they obviously don't deserve employment bc they didn't make themselves "practice ready".

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thirdtierlaw (Sep 20, 2017 - 9:55 am)

I wish they treated law school a bit more like a trade school as well. Clinics are okay, but they aren't really practicing law in any meaningful sense. Internships are much better. I spent my whole last semester at an internship. My school gave me 13 credits for it. It was by far the best decision I ever made. Having had the oppurtunity to spend the whole year doing it would have been even better. I still spent my whole first year out of school terrified because I still felt like I had no idea as to what I was doing.

As for the normally required classes, they teach next to nothing about the actual practice of law. If you don't know how to issue spot after your first semester, you should just drop out. Even my legal writing classes were useless. I spent the whole semester either drafting one long brief or 2 small motions and a longer MTD. I currently do more writing in a week than I did over that whole semester.

Law school gives you a slight foundation on how to be an appellate attorney. How many appellate attorneys actually exist? I do maybe 1 appeal a year. Same with my bosses.

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bsj23 (Oct 4, 2017 - 10:38 pm)

The real problem with "practice ready" is that most law professors have absolutely no idea how to practice law.

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notreallyalawyer (Sep 20, 2017 - 9:35 am)

Do you think the reason law schools don't change the third year of law school from courses to all clinics or internships is that there aren't enough employers to allow for that?

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caj111 (Sep 20, 2017 - 10:48 am)

I would have to say that's largely the reason why, if not the primary reason, but nobody will officially say so. In Europe and Canada, after you finish law school, you are required to spend typically a year in an apprenticeship type position, usually at a law firm or sometimes the same as a clerkship, referred to as "articling", as part of the prerequisite for practicing in addition to the necessary licensing exam. Most people are paid while articling, I believe, however, even in Canada and Europe, there aren't always enough of these paid positions either and some people end up working for free for a year.

While it is always nice to be paid for your work, I think it would make sense to have an equivalent type of program in the USA for would-be lawyers, after all, doctors and dentists legally can't go straight into practice out of medical or dental school even after they've passed their licensing exams. Law graduates, once they pass the bar, can legally hang out a shingle (even if it is a recipe for total disaster). If they made law school more like medical school with an internship/residency component, this would probably cut down on the number of applicants and force law schools to reduce their class sizes. How can anybody really be ready to practice law after three years of education?

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thirdtierlaw (Sep 20, 2017 - 10:56 am)

Some State's have tried implementing small versions of this, however, unless every state requires this then it won't make a difference.

But I'm all for requiring a "residency." It'll likely make it easier for people to find employment opportunities from all the different tiered schools.

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notreallyalawyer (Sep 20, 2017 - 11:13 am)

While you can technically set up your own shingle after law school, you still are ethically required to have someone who knows the subject area, so in essence you cannot set up your own shingle on yoru own. You need a more senior lawyer otherwise if you screw up you'll get punished by your bar authority.

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caj111 (Sep 20, 2017 - 11:35 am)

If that's truly the case, it doesn't look like that requirement is enforced very well anywhere.

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nighthawk (Sep 20, 2017 - 11:46 am)

Where did you get that from? How is every divorce shop started?

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notreallyalawyer (Sep 20, 2017 - 1:36 pm)

I'm a member of the NY Bar, this is the first Rule.

RULE 1.1.
Competence
(a) A lawyer should provide competent representation to a client.
Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and
preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.
(b) A lawyer shall not handle a legal matter that the lawyer knows or
should know that the lawyer is not competent to handle, without associating with a
lawyer who is competent to handle it.
(c) lawyer shall not intentionally:
(1) fail to seek the objectives of the client through
reasonably available means permitted by law and
these Rules; or
(2) prejudice or damage the client during the course of
the representation except as permitted or required by
these Rules.

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nighthawk (Sep 24, 2017 - 11:56 am)

You can be competent in an area right after law school. Nothing in the rule tells us that you cannot hang a shingle right away. You assume competence equals experience, which is incorrect.

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patenttrollnj (Sep 20, 2017 - 2:41 pm)

All this talk of "changing" the third year of law school is mere deflection.

Law schools can do whatever they want with 3L, but that will NOT do anything to change the underlying problem: TOO MANY law school graduates.

I too like the idea of a legal residence after 3 years of law school, as suggested above.

Not only will the residency help train new lawyers, but it will also provide statistics for the success of individual law schools in placing their graduates. If, for example, only 20% of a certain law school's graduates get into a residency, that law school will almost certainly close-down soon. They won't be able to fudge their way out of it, as they do now with so called "JD preferred" jobs (which, let's be honest, are mere secretarial positions much of the time).

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wolfman (Sep 20, 2017 - 3:39 pm)

which is exactly why the residency idea will never take hold

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patenttrollnj (Sep 20, 2017 - 7:56 pm)

It's very unlikely. Too bad.

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cocolawyer (Sep 25, 2017 - 6:26 pm)

Hmm....I am not in a bad position so I really can't comment (although ABC interviewed me once about the pitfalls of student loans...ps they got my income and debt so so wrong. They later had to make a correction from $90,000.00 a year to $140,000.00 and my debt from $220k to $160k). That being said my law school blowed and most of the people I went to law school with are barely getting by.

I don't know the solution but its a horrible situation to be in, if you have no job prospects and have 6 figure non-discharagable SL debt.

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flyer14 (Sep 26, 2017 - 8:37 am)

That's when I write a letter to the editor reminding them the numbers were wrong. If they don't retract their story, I'd write a letter to the nearest city paper... they'd publish it.

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