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Suffering Lies in Your Perception of the Fact and Not the Fact Itself
published May 07, 2018
Law schools with lax admission standards
Students who attend top-tier schools such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and NYU pay a hefty price tag for their degrees, but they are guaranteed prestige and a network of highly-successful alumni. Students who attend well-respected local universities such as University of Texas-Austin or Brigham Young University in Utah also know that their degrees are worth the price and time. However, students with low LSAT scores and poor GPAs are being allowed in numerous other law schools around the country, thinking that a law degree will change their lives; but enrolling in these schools is nothing but a mistake.
Over the past few years, the American Bar Association, which regulates law schools and licensure, has sanctioned numerous schools such as Charlotte Law, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and Arizona Summit Law School. These schools were criticized for their lax admission standards, and some sanctioned schools even admitted students with LSAT scores as low as 150. Graduates from these sanctioned schools usually were unable to pass the bar exam on their first try, and they often were unable to get full-time employment as lawyers after their first year post-graduation.
The ABA has been fighting hard to stop this practice of what appears to be open enrollment, and many of the sanctioned schools have increased their standards after their notice from the ABA. Unfortunately, for unqualified students who got into law school, they were usually still saddled with debt and wasted time if they attended.
So for anyone considering law school, buyers beware if you do not have high grades or a good LSAT score. While the past may have prevented schools from admitting these students, there are now institutions who will happily accept their money.
Rising tuition costs
Law school graduates lucky enough to snag a BigLaw job after school can earn approximately $160,000-$180,000 for their first year of work, not including a bonus. For everyone else, the salary rate is like the Wild Wild West. It all depends on where you live and how large a law firm you land in.
While first-year salaries vary, the cost of tuition is pretty standard—law students can expect to pay anything from five to six figures for their degree. In 2016, the least expensive law school in the country was the University of Hawaii--Manoa, and it left students with a total average debt of $54,988. In contrast, the most expensive school was the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, which left 90% of its students with an average debt of $172,726. That range from cheapest to most expensive is vast, but the majority of law schools in the US cost in the six-figure range, not the five. With that in mind, students should carefully consider whether or not their law school is worth the price tag.
Median starting salaries for the Class of 2016
Data courtesy of US News and World Report
Artificial intelligence replacing duties of entry-level attorneys
There is technology in existence that can scan online legal libraries for research and citation purposes, and this artificial intelligence can do in minutes what used to take human attorneys hours, or even days. There is also software that can prepare simple contracts, and bots that can answer easy legal questions.
This technology concerns critics, who believe AI will take the jobs of paralegals and entry-level attorneys. While this is somewhat true, AI also does not look like it has the capability to replace attorneys’ ability to analyze cases, to work within the legal system (i.e. negotiating cases or representing clients in court), and to calm worried clients’ nerves. Because AI will never be able to replace a quality licensed attorney, anyone who is specialized, great with people, and can create a large book of business is safe in their job security. For people who cannot rise above mediocrity, then the legal industry of the future may not be in their favor.
Lack of full-time employment
Getting the full-time Big Law job is the brass ring for most law school graduates, and going to a top school and getting the best grades is usually what is needed to obtain those coveted positions. But sometimes even getting into the best schools does not guarantee a full-time job, according to Harrison Barnes, CEO of BCG Attorney Search.
“If an attorney does not get into a top law school, they need to do exceptionally well at the school they do go to. Generally, that person is going to need to be in at least the top 5 to 10 percent of their class to stand any chance of getting a job with a large law firm. There are some exceptions to this, though,” Barnes said. “At the same time, even attorneys who graduate from top law schools are struggling to find work. I review the resumes of hundreds of unemployed new attorneys who graduated from the University of Chicago Law School, the University of Texas, and Harvard Law School, the University of Pennsylvania Law School, the University of Michigan and similar schools weekly. These attorneys simply cannot get jobs. For whatever reason, they end up working as contract attorneys and other things.”
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