Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Are Law School Success Stories Really that Rare?

Law School Success Stories

Elie Mystal, of Above the Law, which I would characterize as one of the leading "scambloggers,"  made a posting yesterday entitled:  The Lack of Law School Transparency Claims Another Victim.

Here is the lead in paragraph:
Some guy on Twitter was complaining that Above the Law focuses too much on the negative side of going to law school. Apparently this person mistakes us for a law school admissions office — people who ignore facts when they don’t fit their happy-clappy narrative. We do bring you some law school success stories when we hear of good ones. Do you know why those stories are “news”? Because law schools are so effective at leading people down a path of career frustration and financial ruin that when somebody beats the odds, it’s mildly noteworthy.
This blog tends to focus on graduates from top-ranked schools who had expected to join BigLaw. They routinely paid $40,000-$50,000 per year in tuition at the top schools.

As some of my posts herehere and here have indicated, the largest percentage of job loss during the recession came in large law firms of 500+ lawyers. Hiring at smaller firms (2 to 10 lawyers), to which most of ASL's graduates head, has increased, even if salaries at these firms fall in the bell curve described here, with most new graduates earning between $40,000 to $65,000 to start.

So, I am putting these questions out there to our ASL alums:

  • Are you some of the law school success stories?  
    • If so, how and why?  
  • Are you happy you made the decision to attend law school?   
  • If you had not attended law school, what would you have otherwise done with your college education?  

I expect our unhappy graduates to respond first. But, I would like as many points of view as possible.

I am especially curious about this issue because I have now profiled twelve ASL graduates working in lower paying public service jobs in postings beginning here.  I have two more profiles in draft.  Based on my conversations with these alumni, admittedly about 10 percent of our graduates, they all seem happy in their careers and with the personal and professional opportunities their law degrees opened for them.

I am certain that their expectations about law practice have changed from the expectations they held as incoming 1Ls.  But, would they call a "do-over" and not attend law school?  Would you attend another graduate school even though the bubble may be bursting for graduates of vet, dental, pharmacy, and optometry schools -- and even some practice areas of medicine?


  1. Is there any further reading you would recommend on this?

    Lead conversion

  2. Amela, I profiled many of our success stories in my series on Distinguished Alumni serving in public interest jobs. That series ran in October through December 2013. I could easily start a new series featuring more public servants who graduated from ASL, as well as successful lawyers in private practice and industry (especially in the energy field). Most of the published accounts are anecdotal. I've not seen any publication discussing law graduate success in a more analytic way.