Skip to Main Content
by Vault Law Editors | April 13, 2010


ATL’s Elie Mystal has little sympathy for would-be lawyers today. Commenting on the “oversupply of lawyers” and the ”diminishing number of $160K jobs,” he can’t get over the “hubris” of these “insane” students who choose to go to law school, notwithstanding the horrible legal job market. Sure, he acknowledges, “You can blame the ABA and its liberal accreditation polices. You can blame law schools themselves, for charging high tuition to students who will not be able to land the highest paying jobs.” But ultimately “some of the blame has to fall to young would-be lawyers themselves.”

What prompts this sudden heaping of scorn? A Kaplan survey of law-school-bound students has revealed that not only are these hopeful young things determined to “rush headlong into a very expensive education,” but worse still, they have a misplaced faith in their own abilities to outmaneuver the economy. From the press release:

A down economy hasn’t dampened aspiring lawyers’ confidence in their ability to get a job in the legal field — just their confidence in their peers’ ability to do so. According to a recent Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions survey of 330 pre-law students, 52% report that they are “very confident” that they will find a job in the legal field after graduating law school and passing the bar, but only 16% say they are “very confident” that the majority of their fellow aspiring lawyers will do the same. 

Mystal finds these students’ self-confidence a form of “self-delusion.” As he observes, “If you think that 84% of your classmates are making a terrible career decision, just know that you are somebody’s classmate, too.”

While I find myself somewhat sympathetic to Mystal’s basic premise — I’d guess that, rather than taking a serious cost-benefit approach, plenty of LSAT-takers consider law school an extension of college where they can hide from the real world for a few years until they figure out what they really want to do with their lives — like many of the commenters, his criticism struck me as unduly harsh. Among the (printable) responses from ATL readers explaining why, in Mystal’s words, “prospective law students aren’t getting any smarter about their own decisions”:

This is a short-term recession not the end of the legal profession. If people want to be lawyers, they should go to law school. If they think they can go to Cooley and get a job at Cravath, they're idiots. So what? There are a lot of idiots. People need country lawyers in Mount Pleasant, MI — so Cooley grads will find their way.

- from Bored with ATL

process works like this

1. i have undergrad private loans that are not defer-able for long unless enrolled full time somewhere because of the cap on public loans for undergrad.
2. i have shit prospects now
3. public loans are defer-able after i graduate
4. the econ may be better by then
5. i kinda like law
6. if i stay unemployed for a while it means living with/asking parents for help-which is embarrassing.

so i go to school because despite deep down knowing its bad not going is worse because it means living with parents.

then as long as i go why not be optimistic about my chances.

- from sad but true

- posted by vera


Filed Under: Law
Subscribe to the Vault

Be the first to read new articles and get updates from the Vault team.