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Hey, Dude, Don't Blame My Law School!

Vivia Chen

October 25, 2012

Dumb_and_dumber_soundtrack_coverOnce again, it's time for a recap of law school news:

Are they undecided voters too? I don't know if recent law school grads are burying their heads in the sand or if they are just simple, happy people, but they don't seem to mind being in limbo.

The National Law Journal reports that almost all law grads surveyed by LSAT prep company Kaplan Inc. gave their law schools high marks—even though most have yet to find legal jobs. Here's what the NLJ's Karen Sloan reports:

Kaplan queried 705 members of the class of 2012 about their education, and 37 percent gave their law school an "A." Another 53 percent awarded a "B," and 9 percent offered a "C." A mere 1 percent of students gave their law school a "D," and none outright flunked their school.

The survey notes that a majority of the grads—56 percent—still don't have a law job. "But the respondents remained optimistic: More than half—63 percent—were confident they would land a job within three months."

Whatever.

I'm shocked, shocked. My goodness, a law school doctoring the employment statistics of its grads? The horror! Reports the NLJ's Sloan:

A former assistant career services dean at the Thomas Jefferson Law School has filed a declaration in a class action against the institution in which she acknowledges padding graduate employment statistics in 2006. 

Karen Grant said in a sworn statement in August that she counted recent graduates as employed if they had worked in any capacity since graduation. She blamed pressure by her supervisor to improve the school's jobs statistics.

Grant's statement was made in conjunction with a lawsuit filed by a 2008 Thomas Jefferson graduate who alleged that the law school committed fraud by lying about its employment records to prospective students. Grant stated that her boss responded to her concerns about the false reportings by saying, "Everybody does it."

Imagine that coming out of the mouth of a law school dean!

What's missing in Peoria. No, this is not an opening for a bad joke. According to the NLJ, the fabled midwestern town of Peoria wants its own law school:

A small group of judges and prominent attorneys in Peoria, Illinois, has quietly been exploring the feasibility of opening a law school at Bradley University—a private school with about 6,000 students. That effort has been under way for the past year, but came to light on October 21 after a columnist for the Peoria Journal Star caught wind.

So far, The Bradley University College of Law is just a twinkle in the eyes of its proponents. But U.S. District Judge James Shadid of Peoria, who is leading the effort, told the NLJ that an early study indicated that there's demand for a law school "that would largely serve aspiring attorneys who live within about 150 miles of the central Illinois city."

God forbid that there isn't a law school within a 150-mile radius of every town and cornfield in America.

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Comments

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Morons...that was my main problem in law school...I could not get to have my classmates to criticize anything. They were all chirping happy songs even though they knew that many things were wrong. When you question something they were all dismissive and all had something to attend that very moment you raised the question.

At the end it makes you feel like you're the only one. Ask me about my law school in the pacific northwest ( Portland ) I'd give it an F.

They hire some folks to teach...I'm stunned that those guys make it to be professors in law schools, especially the adjunct professors, feels like you're sitting in a community college. here is an example: we had a class called Lawyers in Society. One of the assignments for the class was to go find videos on youtube that contain people talking about lawyers. Can anyone believe that students pay $4000 to go to a class like this?

I wouldn't have a problem if these were regular people, but these are future attorneys who wrote in their personal statements that they want to change things...they took the LSAT for Critical Thinking and Reasoning and other fancy stuff...

The career services: what do these folks do? there are two or three of them with JDs. They print job ads from internet and post them on the wall of their office...

here is what I thought, should I really trust the career advice of someone who herself/himself is using her/his JD to do basic administrative tasks?

I agree with K.C. Victor, there is a difference between being picky and stupid and really wanting to excel in your career.

This is just another example of the law students arguments actually having some relevancy and real world examples of the kinds of tactics law schools have been using to hold up their monopoly. The lawsuits have merit and I expect the plaintiffs will use this example to further their case.

There is a Pollyanna aspect to this that is not all denial; Pollyanna did well at the end.
In the deep recession of the early 1990s, many young lawyers abandoned law. They were people who had never wanted to be lawyers; one or both of their parents were ambitious on their behalf, they had nothing better to do, etc.


This time, the people who are new lawyers started school in a near economic depression. Recent graduates want to be lawyers. No one goes to law school anymore because they believe it is an entry into serious money.


A few weeks ago I spoke with a 2012 top 10% graduate from a school just below the top 50. He was Executive Editor of a review, and is charming. So far, he has not had a paying law job. He decided to turn down a job paying in the $30s (no typo) because he wants to be a lawyer and believes that is a bad first step for a lifetime career. Right now he volunteers as a lawyer with prestigious government offices and not-for-profits. He makes money in other ways. I think that is not denial. It is desire, perseverance and optimism.

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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