Post Academic

Want a Law School Degree? Hold Up There, Buddy

Posted in Law School Versus Grad School by Caroline Roberts on January 15, 2011
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What grad student hasn’t considered a law school degree? I can think of several former peers who have shifted from PhD to JD. Lawyers had a good run for a while there, hopping on the fast track to decent jobs that helped them pay off student loans.

But something went wrong, something similar to what happened to grad schools. While grad schools gloss over the numbers of PhDs who get jobs, some law schools lie outright. One professor from Indiana University tells the NYT in an expose: ““Enron-type accounting standards have become the norm…. Every time I look at this data, I feel dirty.”

A lawyer who feels dirty for reasons other than being associated with ambulance-chasers and embarrassing ads on late-night TV? That’s something. At least this professor admits there’s a problem. The author of the NYT article, David Segal, goes all the way there and calls law school a shell game: “Or perhaps this is more like a game of three-card monte, with law schools flipping the aces and a long line of eager players, most wagering borrowed cash, in a contest that few of them can win.”

The one thing law school has that grad school doesn’t is that there is still a chance of winning the game. Go to a good school, and you might get that high-paying job with a big firm. The situation isn’t so bad that it all boils down to blind luck and nepotism. But it’s still a shell game, and scarier than the one offered by grad school.

Why? Loans from law school are, to paraphrase the Wu-Tang Clan, “nothing to f&ck with.” It’s more expensive than grad school because you don’t receive TA-ships, and fellowships are rare. On a financial level, you might be smarter taking paralegal training. You won’t get the prestige, but you also won’t get the debt.

TAPPED sums it up nicely: “The bottom line — which also applies, with some differences, to grad school — is that if you can get into and have a chance of good grades at a top-tier law school, a law degree may be a sensible investment.”

If you are ever urinated upon, call this guy. Video from YouTube, originally spotted on Consumerist.

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