Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

(Please Ask Questions and Answer Questions)

Is Law School a Gamble?

Yes
43
75%
No
9
16%
Other
5
9%
 
Total votes: 57

User avatar
scifiguy
Posts: 575
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:41 pm

Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby scifiguy » Sat Mar 30, 2013 2:52 am

Aside from people who:

a.) attend law school on a full, guaranteed scholarship
b.) are wealthy
c.) have a guaranteed job lined up after graduation

...Is law school otherwise a career/life gamble?

Is there no way to tell how a person would do? What would be the best indicators of how one would do and how much predictive power and accuracy would they have? And even after factoring all of that in, do you guys still see law school as a career/life gamble?

User avatar
Tiago Splitter
Posts: 15515
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:20 am

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby Tiago Splitter » Sat Mar 30, 2013 9:43 am

More

User avatar
hephaestus
Posts: 2385
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:21 pm

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby hephaestus » Sat Mar 30, 2013 10:19 am

The only thing that really is in your power is the school you matriculated at. That's why there is so much emphasis here on the T14 or big $$$ at lower schools.
The problem is that everyone works really hard and is of similar intelligence. That's why it is so difficult to really measure your ability to perform.

User avatar
TripTrip
Posts: 2740
Joined: Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:52 am

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby TripTrip » Sat Mar 30, 2013 12:15 pm

scifiguy wrote:Aside from people who:

a.) attend law school on a full, guaranteed scholarship

Still a gamble on a full scholarship if that scholarship doesn't cover COL. You're not working for three years.

User avatar
Hjones33
Posts: 135
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:07 pm

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby Hjones33 » Sat Mar 30, 2013 12:21 pm

TripTrip wrote:
scifiguy wrote:Aside from people who:

a.) attend law school on a full, guaranteed scholarship

Still a gamble on a full scholarship if that scholarship doesn't cover COL. You're not working for three years.


Lets not go to far. I think for the majority of law school applicants, ones without legit jobs before matriculation, a full ride is not much of a gamble.

User avatar
TripTrip
Posts: 2740
Joined: Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:52 am

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby TripTrip » Sat Mar 30, 2013 12:24 pm

Hjones33 wrote:
TripTrip wrote:
scifiguy wrote:Aside from people who:

a.) attend law school on a full, guaranteed scholarship

Still a gamble on a full scholarship if that scholarship doesn't cover COL. You're not working for three years.


Lets not go to far. I think for the majority of law school applicants, ones without legit jobs before matriculation, a full ride is not much of a gamble.

$60,000 of debt is no joke! Especially when you're paying it off with interest.

User avatar
Tiago Splitter
Posts: 15515
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:20 am

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby Tiago Splitter » Sat Mar 30, 2013 12:28 pm

TripTrip wrote:
Hjones33 wrote:
TripTrip wrote:
scifiguy wrote:Aside from people who:

a.) attend law school on a full, guaranteed scholarship

Still a gamble on a full scholarship if that scholarship doesn't cover COL. You're not working for three years.


Lets not go to far. I think for the majority of law school applicants, ones without legit jobs before matriculation, a full ride is not much of a gamble.

$60,000 of debt is no joke! Especially when you're paying it off with interest.

Not to mention the opportunity cost, which includes three years you could have been building a career in a different profession.

If the number of matriculants gets down around 30,000 then it becomes much less of a gamble for people who just want to work as attorneys.

User avatar
Hjones33
Posts: 135
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:07 pm

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby Hjones33 » Sat Mar 30, 2013 12:48 pm

Those are both valid points, I just think if you have a full ride at a T1 or any top regional TT or TTT and you want to be a lawyer, it's not a bad bet. I also noted that a lot of the applicants that this is true for, weren't giving up much of a job career as a lot of law school applicants to even the best of schools, are working dead end service jobs before hand.

I also am assuming by getting a full ride there's a great chance of finishing in the top third of your class. I know that is an assumption, but there is a lot of data to back up recipients of named scholarships finishing very well.

User avatar
TripTrip
Posts: 2740
Joined: Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:52 am

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby TripTrip » Sat Mar 30, 2013 5:04 pm

Hjones33 wrote:there is a lot of data to back up recipients of named scholarships finishing very well.

Source?

M458
Posts: 387
Joined: Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:58 pm

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby M458 » Sat Mar 30, 2013 5:08 pm

TripTrip wrote:
Hjones33 wrote:there is a lot of data to back up recipients of named scholarships finishing very well.

Source?


+1. Because I'm of the belief that there is NO data to back this up.

User avatar
scifiguy
Posts: 575
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:41 pm

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby scifiguy » Sat Mar 30, 2013 5:52 pm

Professor Brian Leiter from UChicago Law School seems to have argued that you can almost "gaurantee" your outcome if given some conditions:

http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leit ... hools.html
This would only be true if class rank were assigned randomly. In fact, your odds of finishing in the top ten percent of the class may be much higher or much lower depending on your academic peer group at the school you attend. Someone who gets into Yale, but decides to go to Colorado is going to finish in the top ten percent of the class if they do the work. It is fair to say that having the same plan as everyone else is not a good plan if those against whom you are competing have a similar skill set coming in.

In the above paragraph, he's responding to something that Paul Campos wrote (see page for details). He added emphasis on the "if they do the work" part. It sounds like (if I'm reading correctly) that Leiter thinks that if your admissions stats are significantly higher than your peers, then you can practically guarantee that you'll finish above them and in the top 10% of your class if you work hard.

I'm not sure if he meant for this to apply exclusively to people who get very very high stats (think 172+/3.8+) and attend schools with peer groups of a lower level (e.g., Yale to Colorado) or if it'd apply to anyone who has signifcantly higher stats than their peer group at any school. For example, would it apply to people who attain medium-high stats (and below) attending schools with extremely low stats (e.g., George Washington to Regent Univ.) or simply one where their peers have signifcantly lower stats.
Last edited by scifiguy on Sat Mar 30, 2013 6:01 pm, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
NoodleyOne
Posts: 2358
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:32 pm

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby NoodleyOne » Sat Mar 30, 2013 5:58 pm

Haven't there been some studies that show that UG GPA and your LSAT has some correlation to law school performance? It's not a deal-breaker, obviously, but it's not nothing.

User avatar
gaud
Posts: 5790
Joined: Sat Feb 05, 2011 2:58 am

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby gaud » Sat Mar 30, 2013 5:59 pm

Tiago Splitter wrote:More

User avatar
hephaestus
Posts: 2385
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:21 pm

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby hephaestus » Sat Mar 30, 2013 6:00 pm

The problem with that argument is that it's based on no data whatsoever. It just sounds like something that should be true. However, the skills tested on the LSAT and law school exams are vastly different, and success on the former doesn't guarantee success on the latter.

LSTfan
Posts: 81
Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:05 am

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby LSTfan » Sat Mar 30, 2013 6:51 pm

scifiguy wrote:What would be the best indicators of how one would do and how much predictive power and accuracy would they have?


The LSAT is the best single indicator, and combining it with your UGPA increases the predictive power a bit more:

The correlation between LSAT scores and first-year law schoolgrades varies from one law school to another (as does the correlation between GPA and first-year law school grades).During 2010, validity studies were conducted for 189 lawschools. Correlations between LSAT scores and first-year lawschool grades ranged from .12 to .56 (median is .36). The correlations between UGPA and first-year law grades rangedfrom .09 to .45 (median is .28). However, correlations betweenLSAT scores combined with undergraduate grade-point averages and first-year law school grades ranged from .30 to.62 (median is .48).

For those who haven't looked at stats in awhile, remember that 1 is a perfect correlation, 0 is no correlation at all, and -1 is a perfectly inverse correlation. So .48 is a fairly strong correlation, but it still leaves a lot of room for some of the above 75% types to do poorly (and if you are in the great 25%-75% wasteland, like most everyone else, forget about it).

scifiguy wrote:And even after factoring all of that in, do you guys still see law school as a career/life gamble?


Yes, just look at the stats on employment outcomes for recent grads. The percentage of people employed full-time in JD-required jobs for 2011 and 2012 grads has only been 54.9% and 56.2%, respectively.

And even more depressing, the percentage of people from top law schools like Duke, Chicago, NYU and Berkeley landing jobs in Biglaw or getting clerkships is only in the 51-56% range.

So, for all law grads, you are looking at a slightly better than coin flip chance of becoming a lawyer at all, and even for the subset of grads from some of the best shools, only a slightly better than coin flip chance of becoming a lawyer that can service his debts.

User avatar
sinfiery
Posts: 3308
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 2:55 am

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby sinfiery » Sat Mar 30, 2013 8:28 pm

TYFT
Did not know the full extent of the stats


But that link for biglaw plus clerkship data is from 2011. 2012 was just released.


viewtopic.php?f=1&t=206368


Hopefully no major market hiccups by 2016 which causes us all to get no offered or lathamed.

User avatar
scifiguy
Posts: 575
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:41 pm

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby scifiguy » Sat Mar 30, 2013 9:56 pm

LSTfan wrote:
scifiguy wrote:What would be the best indicators of how one would do and how much predictive power and accuracy would they have?


The LSAT is the best single indicator, and combining it with your UGPA increases the predictive power a bit more:

The correlation between LSAT scores and first-year law schoolgrades varies from one law school to another (as does the correlation between GPA and first-year law school grades).During 2010, validity studies were conducted for 189 lawschools. Correlations between LSAT scores and first-year lawschool grades ranged from .12 to .56 (median is .36). The correlations between UGPA and first-year law grades rangedfrom .09 to .45 (median is .28). However, correlations betweenLSAT scores combined with undergraduate grade-point averages and first-year law school grades ranged from .30 to.62 (median is .48).

For those who haven't looked at stats in awhile, remember that 1 is a perfect correlation, 0 is no correlation at all, and -1 is a perfectly inverse correlation. So .48 is a fairly strong correlation, but it still leaves a lot of room for some of the above 75% types to do poorly (and if you are in the great 25%-75% wasteland, like most everyone else, forget about it).

scifiguy wrote:And even after factoring all of that in, do you guys still see law school as a career/life gamble?


Yes, just look at the stats on employment outcomes for recent grads. The percentage of people employed full-time in JD-required jobs for 2011 and 2012 grads has only been 54.9% and 56.2%, respectively.

And even more depressing, the percentage of people from top law schools like Duke, Chicago, NYU and Berkeley landing jobs in Biglaw or getting clerkships is only in the 51-56% range.

So, for all law grads, you are looking at a slightly better than coin flip chance of becoming a lawyer at all, and even for the subset of grads from some of the best shools, only a slightly better than coin flip chance of becoming a lawyer that can service his debts.



It's not a coin flip at all the T14s.....but I get your point. Even at SOME of the T14 you'll have a 50/50 shot at landing a job that can comfortably pay back median level loans.

To me, that sucks! Who would go to medical school under such odds? Or any other program where you take out $150 to 200K and have a 50/50 shot at employment that can pay it off.

User avatar
Dr. Dre
Posts: 2347
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:10 pm

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby Dr. Dre » Sat Mar 30, 2013 10:29 pm

what's up with these dumb poasts ?

User avatar
Blessedassurance
Posts: 2081
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2011 3:42 pm

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby Blessedassurance » Sat Mar 30, 2013 11:12 pm

the "gamble" doesn't end with securing biglaw. you don't really "win" anything. also, the whole "if you really want to be a lawyer" thing needs to die. what does it even mean? it's one of those feel-good things people tell themselves in the face of reality like the following flames:

1. till death do us part (pfft)
2. the best things in life are free (so are the worst things. it's not like people are dying to purchase cancer, herpes, and diabetes)
3. do what you love (few people actually love their jobs. it's a matter of relative tolerance. the reason they pay you is to compensate you for the inconvenience. pursuant to the laws of supply and demand, enjoyable jobs are always going to pay shit. the exceptions are the rare members of our species who enjoy mind-numbing drudgery for various reasons, and enjoyable activities that require a skill-set not abundant in the general population, but for which there is a great demand, e.g., sports, entertainment etc).

i think you know the answer to your question, monsieur.

LSTfan
Posts: 81
Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:05 am

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby LSTfan » Sun Mar 31, 2013 6:20 am

scifiguy wrote:It's not a coin flip at all the T14s....


Yale or Fail!

User avatar
ManOfTheMinute
Posts: 1562
Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:54 am

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby ManOfTheMinute » Sun Mar 31, 2013 6:21 am

Dr. Dre wrote:what's up with these dumb poasts ?


seriously.. I dunno if UCI has enough room to take all these OPs

User avatar
rouser
Posts: 233
Joined: Sun Jul 29, 2012 1:23 am

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby rouser » Sun Mar 31, 2013 7:08 am

Blessedassurance wrote:the "gamble" doesn't end with securing biglaw. you don't really "win" anything. also, the whole "if you really want to be a lawyer" thing needs to die. what does it even mean? it's one of those feel-good things people tell themselves in the face of reality like the following flames:

1. till death do us part (pfft)
2. the best things in life are free (so are the worst things. it's not like people are dying to purchase cancer, herpes, and diabetes)
3. do what you love (few people actually love their jobs. it's a matter of relative tolerance. the reason they pay you is to compensate you for the inconvenience. pursuant to the laws of supply and demand, enjoyable jobs are always going to pay shit. the exceptions are the rare members of our species who enjoy mind-numbing drudgery for various reasons, and enjoyable activities that require a skill-set not abundant in the general population, but for which there is a great demand, e.g., sports, entertainment etc).

i think you know the answer to your question, monsieur.

it's definitely a huge gamble...there are hardly any jobs right now because USA corporations are not doing super hot.

jwinaz
Posts: 179
Joined: Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:03 pm

Re: Is Law School More or Less a Gamble?

Postby jwinaz » Sun Mar 31, 2013 2:48 pm

I think another factor that makes law school a gamble (rather than an investment) in the situation above is that the JD might not be very versatile.

It seems from various sources online that people say that over-qualification can be an issue or that the JD training may not really give you any advantage over another person for other jobs in the non-legal sector, since it might be seen as too specific of training and not necessarily applicable for a job in "industry." So, it doesn't seem like an investment the way a bachelor's degree would be. It seems these days the bachelor's is what a HS diploma was many years ago and you can't get a good job oftentimes without it.

With the JD and poor employment prospects for law, if you strike out, then it doesn't seem like the JD offers a whole lot of benefit outside of law (do correct if I'm wrong folks! ...I'd love to know more about this actually.) and thus I'd say it's not really an investment under the conditions above.

The one thing that I'm looking into currently is going solo (as a back-up plan). But putting that aside, as an 0L, law school does seem like a gamble in the situation you describe.

Also, another poster seemed to suggest that even after securing biglaw that it could still continue to be a gamble. You may have to worry about biglaw attrition and also the stability of biglaw as a whole. With medical school and medicine, we have a shortage of doctors, so you wouldn't generally have to worry about losing your job after securing a medical practice position. With law, it seems that you have to worry all over again (eyeing those student loans and legitimately wondering if you may not be with your firm within a few years).




Return to “Law School FAQ”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest