I read about this thread on JD underground today. I feel compelled, out of moral obligation, to comment on this school and in particular the state of the legal market today. I graduated from a Tier 1 law school (although anything outside YHS is considered a TTT these days) almost 15 years ago. I have been a practicing attorney since, having worked in biglaw, in-house counsel and now as a partner in "midlaw." As far back as I can remember, Seton Hall Law's reputation has been that of a third tier toilet. To be fair, it used to be a good school to attend if you wanted to concentrate in health/pharma law. As far as schools in the area go, Seton Hall law falls beneath other highly ranked area schools such as Columbia, Penn, Yale and NYU. Many area practitioners continue to view Seton Hall Law as inferior to other local schools such as Cardozo, Fordham, Brooklyn, St. Johns and even Rutgers (both campuses) despite what the USNWR (which is geared towards college students, not seasoned legal professionals) says. In my opinion, it is criminal what law schools in general charge for tuition these days. When I went to law school, annual tuition was less than $10,000. And during those times, any school in the first tier (e.g., Tulane, UC-Hastings, etc.) and in the lower tiers could place students in biglaw. Today that is not the case anymore (exception: unless you have a relative or connection that has guaranteed you a job). Biglaw is about profit margin and profits per partner ("PPP"). During this recession, Biglaw has downsized dramatically and has outsourced basic document review, discovery and legal drafting work to India and the Phillippines to non-licensed attorneys. Why did Biglaw do this? Two reasons: 1) The ABA recently ruled it was ethically ok to do this so long as the long arm of a licensed attorney in the States could supervise the work; and, 2) cheap labor (you don't have to pay $160K a year per "attorney," you still get to bill the client the same hourly rates, no insurance costs/benefits to employees and cheaper overhead). Remember folks, Biglaw is not in the business of catering to law schools or law students. The bottom line is PPP.
Since early 2009, my firm has received hundreds of unsolicited resumes from T14 grads that have been laid off or deferred. Some of these candidates have impressive law review and GPA stats. Unfortunately, these credentials are useless in midlaw, where a book of business or significant legal experience is paramount to whether you were on moot court or an editor of the International Sports Journal. If top T14 grads cannot find a legal job in this economy, do you really think a law degree from Seton Hall will provide you with a competitive edge? Now many of you I am sure, were probably sold by the employment rate and starting salary figures that are manipulated by law school administrators. Seton Hall for example, states that 94.74% of its 2008 graduating class was employed within 9 months. The problem with this statistic is that the number is self-reported and not verified by an independent audit firm. Recently, it was reported (and you can google this on your own) that law schools misrepresent employment stats for purposes of gaming the USNWR rankings. In Seton Hall's case, do they distinguish between legal and non-legal employment? Whether said employment is paid or unpaid? Take for instance the New Jersey Attorney General's office, which has had a 2 year hiring freeze (NJ is on the brink of bankruptcy). There are many folks competing to work for free at the AG's office. If you are a Seton Hall alum that is working for free at the AG's office or any other place, guess what? You are counted as employed. If your job is temporary, such as document review, you are also counted as employed. And what if you cannot find legal employment and have to work in the hardware section at Home Depot? You are part of the 90+% employed. So you see, the law school administrators massage the stats and make them as vague as possible with the message that "numbers don't lie." Sure, but the numbers here don't tell the complete and accurate picture. Don't take my word for it. If you are seriously considering wasting $45K a year in tuition plus $20K in cost of attendance per year at this school, at least talk to a recent Seton Hall law grad (class of 2009 or 2010) and ask how well they are doing. I am sure the school has a handful of hand picked students/shills and alumni that they parade to prospective students as "success" stories that can be emulated. I am sure Seton Hall has many fine attorneys that are practicing law. However, it is a miniscule number compared to the overall number of graduates it dumps on the already overly saturated legal market every year. I implore you to speak to a recent grad, someone that is not in the top percent of their class to get an accurate guage of how the legal market is receptive of a Seton Hall law degree. Or better yet, ask these questions to your dean, of course when he is not too busy serving in the dual capacity as the Athletic Director trying to revive the weak college Pirates basketball program.
If you ask me, you are better off gambling $150K in Vegas than investing it in a Seton Hall law degree. Why? Well for starters you can discharge gambling debt in bankruptcy proceedings. Student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy and many years ago Seton Hall unsuccessfully tried to argue that the law school tuition itself was non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. See In re Van Ess, 186 B.R. 375 (Bankr. D.N.J. 1994). When I went to law school, the average student loan debt for 7 years was $30K. People could buy homes, live a nice lifestyle and legal jobs were in abundance. That is not the case today. Many of you have no idea what it is like to deal with six figure non-dischargeable student loan debt (thanks to in-school forebearance). Wait until you are out 6 months and Sallie Mae starts sending you monthly loving invoices. In order to properly service six figure student loan debt, you must be earning six figures yourself. Unless you plan on becoming the mayor of Hoboken (a la Michael Cammarano, SHU Law, Class of '02) and take bribes and kickbacks, you likely won't be earning enough to service your debt and live well.
Now I know in this recession times are tough. However, hiding or riding out the recession is not only a coward's way to deal with reality, but also an irresponsible way to tightening the noose around your neck. Don't fall for the law school deans' tired and speculative soundbites (i.e., "the recession is cyclical and has to end," "the economy is turning the corner," "Obama's economic stimulus is re-galvanizing the legal sector," "the legal market is starting to see green shoots and by the time you graduate demand for young attorneys will soar"). These are all lies. Don't believe me? Go on the National Law Journal and see how many biglaw firms are re-deferring the Class of '09 for a second year or rescinding job offers outright. Folks, this recession is not going away any time soon and when it does, the legal jobs aren't coming back.
Lastly, I want to turn to the often talked about subject of living in the urban shangri la known as Newark. Seton Hall Law students often choose to live in 1180 Raymond or the Union Building. 1180 is a nice buidling that was renovated a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, the realty group that owns the building is about to default on a construction loan and may be forced into bankruptcy proceedings. But don't take my word for it. Google it or search for the story as it was reported months ago by the New Jersey Star Ledger. Or see: http://www.nj.com/news/local/index.ssf/ ... s_ren.html
As for the Union Building, for those that don't know, it is adjacent to the infamous Beaver Street alley. Beaver Street has a distinguishing strong odor of urine and during the night, rats the size of terriers can be seen scurrying and foraging for food or anything that moves. Beaver Street has also been the crime scene to many violent offenses such as rape, robbery and homicide. In fact, Eminem recently shot a music video for a song appropriately titled "I am Not Afraid" there because the producers of the video wanted to capture a "dangerous environment" on camera. Again, google "beaver street," "newark" and crime. Unless you have a red belt in jiu jitsu or are licensed to carry a firearm, living in Newark can be lethal to your health.
In sum, I am not asking that you not attend Seton Hall law school. You are adults and it is only your life. However, if this is the very best law school you could get into, in this economy, you won't cut it as a lawyer (my opinion after nearly 15 years in this business). At a minimum, you should research and investigate this school better before making a life altering decision that will severely and adversely impact you for the rest of your natural life. If you decide to go to this school and leverage your future out for a Seton Hall JD, you will have no one to blame but yourself as you have been warned. Folks, "caveat emptor" is not a fancy latin term or words of art. Heed them. Here are some helpful links (some light) that will shed light on Seton Hall Law and the "prestige" it enjoys.http://T14 Paradise.blogspot.com/20 ... rsity.html
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