Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

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Chupavida
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby Chupavida » Wed Oct 24, 2012 3:10 pm

.
Last edited by Chupavida on Wed Jun 19, 2013 2:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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JCougar
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby JCougar » Wed Oct 24, 2012 3:31 pm

Chupavida wrote:I'll reiterate my point about understanding. Sure, by exam time many people will be able to recite black letter law (though I've overheard plenty of "doing it wrong" on exam day), but there's a lot more to understanding even basic 1L stuff than memorization. Knowing the tensions, connections to other issues, etc., and being able to turn them around and play with them in your mind is a big part of being able to spot exam issues and extend what was taught in class to handle them. Those things also provide many of the extra points that separate the A answers from the B answers.


I happen to find that those "tensions" are fairly easy to spot. Issues on your typical law exam tend to be far clearner and more obvious than those you encounter in real practice. In real practice, issues will be a mixture of 3 or more doctrines, and will straddle the border of, for example, contract law, inheritance law, administrative law, evidence, and civil procedure all at once. Issues on law school exams are usually straddling one single tension relating to something you already went over in class.

We're obviously having different experiences. And I'll admit I might have my own reasons to be personally biased. My GPA on exams with word limits is approximately top 15%. My GPA on exams without word limits is below median. Unfortunately for me, the majority of exams are the latter. I don't do anything different preparation-wise for my non-word-limited exams, and yet my grades are the difference between Biglaw and unemployment. Maybe it's just some wild random coincidence, but it's hard to have faith in a system where it seems your ability to take a certain type of test is so determinant of what your career path will be before you even begin actual practice. One simple factor such as word limit can change everything.

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JCougar
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby JCougar » Wed Oct 24, 2012 4:38 pm

This is a good article. I don't want to post too much of it here, but whoever has Hein Online or Westlaw can look up the whole thing:

Grading Law School Examinations: Making a Case for Objective Exams to Cure What Ails "Objectified" Exams

Linda R. Crane
Professor of Law at The John Marshall Law School, Chicago, Illinois.
Summer, 2000
34 New Eng. L. Rev. 785

* * *

VI. CONCLUSION

It is common knowledge among law school faculty that we are comprised almost exclusively of lawyers who teach, and that we typically have no formal training as educators, nor as testing specialists. Many law professors have only limited experience as practicing attorneys prior to entering academia and a law school.

. . .

The traditional model for teaching law school courses is essentially incompatible with the objectives of the law professor who wishes to evaluate student performance fairly and reliably; but who bases that evaluation on the results from the traditional model for testing law students--the essay examination. Under this traditional model for testing, the law school examination is formatted into a small number of comprehensive essay questions that the professor has never taught the student to answer. Essay questions assume that the student's orientation to the material being tested is vastly different than it really is. The traditional model for teaching law students is at odds with the traditional model for testing students' proficiency in the subject--at least if reliability, validity, and fairness are goals.

It is inherently unfair to teach students course material in one way and then to test it in another way. In addition, there is a century's worth of evidence that suggests that the essay question format of the traditional law school examination is highly unreliable due to the large number of subjective factors it allows to influence the final grade. 89

In 1976, the Law School Admission Council published the results of a study by Stephen P. Klein and Frederick M. Hart supporting the idea that factors other than substantive knowledge affect essay grades. 90 One factor that correlated highly with success on law school essay examinations was legible handwriting. 91 Another leading indicator of higher grades was length. 92 Longer answers were viewed by law professors as better. 93

Law schools have an obligation to use the most accurate and internally consistent, or reliable examination methods. 94 The essay exam is inherently capricious not only because of the number of subjective factors used in scoring that influence the student's overall grade; but also because they compare law students based on too few samples of each student's knowledge of a given domain of material to be reliable or statistically valid. 95

The traditional law school essay exam is mathematically unsound and [*807] unable to consistently measure the law student's proficiencies within the law school's curriculum. This is due to an inability to either accurately sample the same amount of material or to render the same number of samples of a given domain of material as an objective exam can within a comparable time period. 96 Therefore, single-shot essay exams used to measure numerous domains of information within each larger law school subject are notoriously subjective and unreliable. Accordingly, they are also invalid for their intended purpose. This is especially true given the enormous importance placed on the results of law school essay examinations and because those results are used to compare students' performances. 97
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minnbills
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby minnbills » Wed Oct 24, 2012 5:23 pm

JCougar wrote:
I've actually heard the exact opposite from almost every professor I've talked to.



That people are packed in?

I was just talking talking to a prof about his exam, he said the best students don't even come close to hitting all the marks. I had another prof say the same thing about his exam (a multiple choice exam.) One of them also reiterated the "it's the students who know what they don't know" who do well relative to the students who are really blind.

I think people "think they get it." I haven't gone through a finals season yet so we'll see what changes for me after that. But I get the sense that people are either confused or have a false sense of security.

Also, people are not going to admit it when they're confused.

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hume85
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby hume85 » Wed Oct 24, 2012 5:45 pm

JCougar wrote:This is a good article. I don't want to post too much of it here, but whoever has Hein Online or Westlaw can look up the whole thing:

Grading Law School Examinations: Making a Case for Objective Exams to Cure What Ails "Objectified" Exams

Linda R. Crane
Professor of Law at The John Marshall Law School, Chicago, Illinois.
Summer, 2000
34 New Eng. L. Rev. 785

* * *

VI. CONCLUSION

It is common knowledge among law school faculty that we are comprised almost exclusively of lawyers who teach, and that we typically have no formal training as educators, nor as testing specialists. Many law professors have only limited experience as practicing attorneys prior to entering academia and a law school.

. . .

The traditional model for teaching law school courses is essentially incompatible with the objectives of the law professor who wishes to evaluate student performance fairly and reliably; but who bases that evaluation on the results from the traditional model for testing law students--the essay examination. Under this traditional model for testing, the law school examination is formatted into a small number of comprehensive essay questions that the professor has never taught the student to answer. Essay questions assume that the student's orientation to the material being tested is vastly different than it really is. The traditional model for teaching law students is at odds with the traditional model for testing students' proficiency in the subject--at least if reliability, validity, and fairness are goals.

It is inherently unfair to teach students course material in one way and then to test it in another way. In addition, there is a century's worth of evidence that suggests that the essay question format of the traditional law school examination is highly unreliable due to the large number of subjective factors it allows to influence the final grade. 89

In 1976, the Law School Admission Council published the results of a study by Stephen P. Klein and Frederick M. Hart supporting the idea that factors other than substantive knowledge affect essay grades. 90 One factor that correlated highly with success on law school essay examinations was legible handwriting. 91 Another leading indicator of higher grades was length. 92 Longer answers were viewed by law professors as better. 93

Law schools have an obligation to use the most accurate and internally consistent, or reliable examination methods. 94 The essay exam is inherently capricious not only because of the number of subjective factors used in scoring that influence the student's overall grade; but also because they compare law students based on too few samples of each student's knowledge of a given domain of material to be reliable or statistically valid. 95

The traditional law school essay exam is mathematically unsound and [*807] unable to consistently measure the law student's proficiencies within the law school's curriculum. This is due to an inability to either accurately sample the same amount of material or to render the same number of samples of a given domain of material as an objective exam can within a comparable time period. 96 Therefore, single-shot essay exams used to measure numerous domains of information within each larger law school subject are notoriously subjective and unreliable. Accordingly, they are also invalid for their intended purpose. This is especially true given the enormous importance placed on the results of law school essay examinations and because those results are used to compare students' performances. 97


The study you cite is from 1976, so it may not be relevant.

sf2
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby sf2 » Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:44 pm

When people say "typed" does that mean LS exams are done on a laptop/computer and no longer hand-written?

If some of the posters in this thread are telling the truth (Which I would really only believe form a HYSCCN Top 1%er) and this is the case, I may have just moved up 70% in class rankings.

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IAFG
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby IAFG » Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:52 pm

sf2 wrote:When people say "typed" does that mean LS exams are done on a laptop/computer and no longer hand-written?

If some of the posters in this thread are telling the truth (Which I would really only believe form a HYSCCN Top 1%er) and this is the case, I may have just moved up 70% in class rankings.

wat and wat and wat

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby sf2 » Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:53 pm

IAFG wrote:wat and wat and wat

are ls exams typed or handwritten?!??

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bk1
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby bk1 » Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:55 pm

sf2 wrote:When people say "typed" does that mean LS exams are done on a laptop/computer and no longer hand-written?

If some of the posters in this thread are telling the truth (Which I would really only believe form a HYSCCN Top 1%er) and this is the case, I may have just moved up 70% in class rankings.


Hey dipshit, you just got your ban extended for alting.

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minnbills
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby minnbills » Wed Oct 24, 2012 11:02 pm

bk1 wrote:
sf2 wrote:When people say "typed" does that mean LS exams are done on a laptop/computer and no longer hand-written?

If some of the posters in this thread are telling the truth (Which I would really only believe form a HYSCCN Top 1%er) and this is the case, I may have just moved up 70% in class rankings.


Hey dipshit, you just got your ban extended for alting.


bahaha

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JCougar
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby JCougar » Thu Oct 25, 2012 1:10 am

hume85 wrote:The study you cite is from 1976, so it may not be relevant.


Law exams haven't changed since 1976. In fact, they haven't really changed since 1920 or so.

I would just take it for what it's worth. It's a messy process, and some of the factors that go into law exam taking are out of your control, and some are random noise. All the knowledge, understanding and application of the law in the world won't help you when the people who you are competing against can type nearly twice as much in a short time span. Certainly, typing speed isn't all that's required. You also need to understand and apply the rules very well (and I still think the majority of any T25 class can do this), and to make somewhat creative arguments for and against the use of such rules. There's a few people that consistently get good grades that have all of the above working for them.

I don't know if you have access to Westlaw or Hein Online or not, but I would read that entire article. It is a brilliant piece written by a Northwestern JD/MBA, and it goes over exactly why law exams are an extremely poor assessment vehicle, why they are unreliable, and why they lack validity.

Because of this, you can't really make any assumptions about where you're going to end up in your class. Understanding the concepts you learn in class is only a small part of your law school grade.

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hume85
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby hume85 » Thu Oct 25, 2012 7:46 am

sf2 wrote:When people say "typed" does that mean LS exams are done on a laptop/computer and no longer hand-written?

If some of the posters in this thread are telling the truth (Which I would really only believe form a HYSCCN Top 1%er) and this is the case, I may have just moved up 70% in class rankings.


LOL, because a Top 1%er at Chicago knows way more about what it takes to succeed on a law school exam than a Top 1%er at Virginia.

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Bronte
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby Bronte » Thu Oct 25, 2012 12:06 pm

I differ with JCougar and other posters in that vein on two points. The first is that law school exams are uniformly the type of issue-spotter, word-dump exams that were criticized in that 1970s study. At Michigan at least, a large proportion of professors now administer tests with a substantial objective component (i.e., multiple choice), which often sets the curve. Further, the nonobjective components of exams are now often composed of short answer questions with very strict word limits, making it impossible to word dump and completely eliminating typing speed from the equation.

My second point of contention is the idea that everyone understands the blackletter law. I think this is a myth. It's easy to point to torts and say, well, everyone understands that a tort has four elements: duty, breach, causation, and injury. You learn that on the first day and anyone can tell you that. But how many people really understand the difference between the foreseeability analysis that is a component of duty and the foreseeability analysis that is a component of proximate causation? How many people understand the difference between implied primary assumption of risk and secondary assumption of risk and the relation of the reasonableness of the assumption of risk to those doctrines?

Further, torts is by far the easiest target because it has the simplest blackletter law of any class in law school and because it is usually still tested using a traditional, no-word-limit issue spotter. Other courses, like civil procedure and contracts, have much more complex blackletter law than torts. Once you get to upper level courses, like tax, securities regulation, and bankruptcy, the notion that everyone understands the blackletter law becomes even more implausible.

As I've expressed elsewhere in this thread, I don't disagree with the premise that you can't know to any degree of certainty how you will perform in law school before the fact. However, I think the "law is easy" concept (which posters often posit in both the law school context and the legal practice context) has started to reach exaggerated proportions on this site.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby vanwinkle » Thu Oct 25, 2012 12:07 pm

Chupavida wrote:I just don't think it's as arbitrary as some people say. I'd say grades are two parts analytic ability, one part preparation, and one part other stuff (handling pressure, typing speed, luck). That breakdown best explains the way my class has been sorted over the last few years. There just aren't a lot of speed-typist idiots at the top of the class, and there aren't a lot of hunt-and-peck geniuses at the bottom. The top is generally a bunch of people who checked all the above boxes (ability, preparation, not being a nervous handwriting mess during exams), while the bottom is full of people who prepared like crazy and can type just fine but who just can't think accurately, deeply, and quickly enough to compete. The middle is where it gets a bit messy, and where your view may be most relevant.

Grading clearly isn't arbitrary in some sense. If it were truly arbitrary then everyone should end up with a roughly median GPA over three years of law school, and yet there are some who consistently get top grades and some who consistently sink to the bottom. There are clearly factors that go into grading that divide students, and while word length might have some correlation to grading success, it's obviously not that simple either; there's more to it than just that.

But here's the problem: Even if I concede your factors (analytic ability, preparation, handling pressure, typing speed) and the weighting you give them, it's still arbitrary from a 0L point of view. The reason for this is that those factors all come into play, but on a curved exam you need to know more than just how much of those things you have, you need to know how much more you have them than anyone else. And most people prepare, and some people need to prepare less than others to still do well, and again, it's not something you can really predict as a 0L.

At the top law schools, there will clearly be some people who have such innate legal reasoning skills and retention that they can crush an exam with little prep. There will also be people who study full-time all semester and still just can't "think accurately, deeply, and quickly enough to compete". And there will be those who fall in the middle enough that they get separated out based on the smaller things. But for the most part you can't tell which group you'll fall into as a 0L, especially when you're entering a class where everyone has a 98th percentile LSAT score and a high UG GPA. That's the sense in which I think it's arbitrary.

And since we're in a 0L forum talking about whether going to law school makes sense, and since grading is arbitrary relative to any predictive factors a 0L has to rely on, I think that's worth pointing out. Especially when law school grades dictate ITE whether one can even find legal employment at all.

Chupavida wrote:I'll reiterate my point about understanding. Sure, by exam time many people will be able to recite black letter law (though I've overheard plenty of "doing it wrong" on exam day), but there's a lot more to understanding even basic 1L stuff than memorization. Knowing the tensions, connections to other issues, etc., and being able to turn them around and play with them in your mind is a big part of being able to spot exam issues and extend what was taught in class to handle them. Those things also provide many of the extra points that separate the A answers from the B answers.

Yeah, but it takes going through a year of law school to know if you'll be an A student or a B student. By then it's too late to decide whether it's worth the cost, because you're already at least $50K in debt.

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bk1
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby bk1 » Thu Oct 25, 2012 12:23 pm

^ What VW said.

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JCougar
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby JCougar » Thu Oct 25, 2012 1:10 pm

Bronte wrote:I differ with JCougar and other posters in that vein on two points. The first is that law school exams are uniformly the type of issue-spotter, word-dump exams that were criticized in that 1970s study. At Michigan at least, a large proportion of professors now administer tests with a substantial objective component (i.e., multiple choice), which often sets the curve. Further, the nonobjective components of exams are now often composed of short answer questions with very strict word limits, making it impossible to word dump and completely eliminating typing speed from the equation.


I can't say the same for the exams here. I've had two or three that included part multiple choice, but the rest are the standard word-dump issue spotters.

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Chupavida
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby Chupavida » Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:22 pm

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Paul Campos
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby Paul Campos » Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:28 am

People who are interested in getting Don't Go to Law School (Unless) as a physical book can now get it here https://www.createspace.com/4035648, as well as on Amazon.

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JCougar
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby JCougar » Fri Nov 02, 2012 4:00 am

In other news, I met a Biglaw attorney last weekend at a party. He's been practicing for 5 years, and still has $140K of debt...and a newborn son. He was an awesome guy. I really hope he makes partner. Otherwise, I don't think he has any idea how he's ever going to pay down that debt. He went to a "top" law school.

Even making Biglaw doesn't save you from today's astronomical debt burdens.

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IAFG
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby IAFG » Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:06 am

JCougar wrote:In other news, I met a Biglaw attorney last weekend at a party. He's been practicing for 5 years, and still has $140K of debt...and a newborn son. He was an awesome guy. I really hope he makes partner. Otherwise, I don't think he has any idea how he's ever going to pay down that debt. He went to a "top" law school.

Even making Biglaw doesn't save you from today's astronomical debt burdens.

If you have been practicing since 2007, you got the last big bonus (Cravath paid 2007ers $35k) and then mostly smaller bonuses (with c/o 2007 receiving $20k in 2011 on top of a $210k salary and making $230k in 2012). You can't tell me this bro has $140k in debt because he couldn't find a way to get out from under it.

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rayiner
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby rayiner » Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:51 am

IAFG wrote:
JCougar wrote:In other news, I met a Biglaw attorney last weekend at a party. He's been practicing for 5 years, and still has $140K of debt...and a newborn son. He was an awesome guy. I really hope he makes partner. Otherwise, I don't think he has any idea how he's ever going to pay down that debt. He went to a "top" law school.

Even making Biglaw doesn't save you from today's astronomical debt burdens.

If you have been practicing since 2007, you got the last big bonus (Cravath paid 2007ers $35k) and then mostly smaller bonuses (with c/o 2007 receiving $20k in 2011 on top of a $210k salary and making $230k in 2012). You can't tell me this bro has $140k in debt because he couldn't find a way to get out from under it.


I mean what a bad example. If he graduated in 2007 and got an SA, his total debt load couldn't have been more than say $180k to start with. Meanwhile, he's been getting paid on the $160k scale this entire time. He could a couple of years of decent bonuses too. He's clearly been living like he makes $160k, and not $160k with $180k of debt.

Also, what do you think he's going to do after leaving big law if he doesn't make partner? Wait tables?

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JCougar
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby JCougar » Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:54 pm

He didn't get biglaw right away. He spent some time in a temp job, and finally got a full-time shitlaw job. After about 6 months in shitlaw, he did so well that he got promoted. After this, one of his professors that he remained friends with that had a connection to Biglaw got him an interview, and he was hired. So he spent about a year and a half after school deferring his loan debt, and the interest accrued rapidly.

Also, he works Biglaw in a smaller market, so he didn't exactly make $160K to start. But his firm is well within the NLJ 250, which is what the NALP seems to consider "Biglaw" on all their charts.

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JCougar
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby JCougar » Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:57 pm

rayiner wrote:Also, what do you think he's going to do after leaving big law if he doesn't make partner? Wait tables?


Not make enough to pay off his loans and pay for his kid, that's for sure.

Also, he married someone he met in law school, so his wife has nearly as much debt herself.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby Tiago Splitter » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:02 pm

Saying that people who miss BigLaw out of law school might still get BigLaw later isn't going to keep people from going to law school.

For people curious as to what someone who graduated 6 years ago might have paid for law school, here you go:

--LinkRemoved--

AllTheLawz
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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby AllTheLawz » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:09 pm

JCougar wrote:
rayiner wrote:Also, what do you think he's going to do after leaving big law if he doesn't make partner? Wait tables?


Not make enough to pay off his loans and pay for his kid, that's for sure.

Also, he married someone he met in law school, so his wife has nearly as much debt herself.


Dude you picked the worst example possible.. I mean we understand that when people strike out at Biglaw they want to warn people about the dangers of doing so but being hyperbolic about it just makes it less credible. Anyone who can do basic math can figure out that if you get biglaw and live reasonably you can pay off $150k in 5 years.

Also, TLS needs to stop with this idea that leaving biglaw w/o making partner = back to poverty. Before OCI I used some data I had available to research people who were no longer at their original firms. The vast majority of them are now in positions that almost certainly pay six figures (women had somewhat "worse" salary outcome overall but its hard to tell if self-selection is involved).




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