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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Careers to avoid: Law and . . .

As noted here and at links therein, there are already too many lawyers and too many crummy law schools. If you can't get into a top 10 law school, find another line of work. Not there is vast difference between numbers 1 through 10 and 40 through 50, except for reputation among the hiring partners.

Especially don't bother with "International Law." Chances are the accident victims you may be lucky enough represent won't be involved in international affairs. And don't think you'll walk out of law school able to do anything involving real legal work. Law school doesn't teach that sort of practical knowledge. As some of those links note, law school today looks a lot like a scam.

Save your money and learn to be a plumber, a barber, A/C repairman or some other profession that people will need even in the future. My barber takes regular vacations, unlike many of my younger lawyer friends who are trying to pay back a zillion dollars worth of student loans that they can't discharge in bankruptcy.

In fact, even if you want to go to law school, get a barber's license (or whatever) first for all those days you'll be out of work.

I wouldn't spend any money getting a journalism degree either.


  1. How about maritime law? It's a small field with, as I understand it, a separate bar. Any info? Same, I believe, holds for Patent law.

  2. Look, there is always room for good people in any profession. The question is whether that includes the vast sums of money needed to pay back immense student loans.

    Admiralty law no longer has a separate bar and experience in the Coast Guard, Navy or the Merchant Marine is a valuable asset - but the number of career openings is small and often geographically limited. You might get a feel for the limited numbers of openings by the number of schools offering advanced degrees in Maritime Law in the US. That would be 1. Tulane.

    Patent law might be good, but you better have an engineering or chemical or perhaps a pharmacy background (PhD preferred) before you plan to get that law degree.

  3. Anonymous12:45 AM

    Especially don't do family law where you listen to people whine all the time and help them divide up their Tupperware.

  4. Anonymous2:39 AM

    How about a "piracy consultant"? How are those guys doing these days? Any future in that?

  5. My son just completed his first year of law school. He didn't decide to go until he completed a tour as a Navy nuke so he always has that training to fall back on.

  6. Eagle1, I should probably be the last person to quibble with your expert, professional advice, which seems to be shared by at least one associate justice of our U.S. Supreme Court.

    Heavy debt and school reputation also figure into other professions, however, including medicine and even a growing number of mid-level management positions in the Fortune 500.

    The free market helps students make appropriate career choices, or makes them examples helping others avoid poor choices.

    Until numerous lawyers are again driving NYC taxis, I say we do not yet have too many in civilian employment. For at least the last twenty years, however, we seem to have had too many lawyers in elected positions.
    - Vig

  7. Actually, in addition to taxi drivers, you have a large number of young and older lawyers working for $20-35 an hour to review documents on a contract basis for agencies outsourced to by big law firms, a 25% rate of "self-employment" (would you rather list "self-employment" or "unemployed" on your resume?) and a whole lot of law school grads doing real estate and a whole lot of non-law stuff.

    In addition to all the elected lawyers, look at the large numbers of lawyer engaged in federal and state jobs. If you feel over-regulated, there might be a reason...

    As one of the blogs complaining about law school "oversell" reports, some of the doc review firms are now limiting their hiring to "top 10%" grads of top law schools, which ought to give you an indication of where the hiring market is for lawyers.

    I agree that the market will sort it out, but young people looking for careers should be aware that the high cost of attending law school may not pay off in the way in which law school advertising suggests. Caveat emptor and all that, but you ought to have accurate information on which to base your decision. The same economic analysis ought to be applied to those other decisions Vigilis describes - an MBA procured at great expense from East Nowhere University more likely than not will not pay off like an MBA from MIT, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia and the other top 20 schools.

    It's meant as a cautionary post.

  8. Well, if you have to be a lawyer, be a Democrat lawyer. Contribute whatever you can to Congressmen that can support whatever industry you are focusing on. For instance, it would be very difficult to support all the lawyers suing BP with a $75 million liability cap. After all, there are thousands of law firms involved. So, those contributions to Sen. Bill Nelson (according to OpenSecrets, Lawyers/Law Firms contributed more to his campaign than all other industries combines) would be a very worthwhile investment if the bill he introduced to remove the liability cap is passed.