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Why are people still applying to law school today?

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Well YB, I think you would find the average privately practicing lawyer quite hilarious.

 

The naivety on this board is extreme.

 

It can be helpful, when making these kinds of statements, to acknowledge when one is responding to a thread where a number of practising lawyers have chimed in. Especially when one is not actually a lawyer yet. :)

 

(Fwiw, I had taken your purple hair rant as an over the top semi-satirical quip that ventured into bad taste but was not sincere. I'd be disappointed to think you actually meant it... )

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my boyfriend's foreman makes 150k + running commercial construction job sites and essentially more time in the office/telling the boys what to do than any heavy lifting and his hours are still 9-5 without any debt so if money is the main motivator.... actually sorry, when my boyfriend had to go to trade school as part of his electrical apprenticeship (the only time he got off working full time) for three months every year THEY PAID HIM TO GO TO SCHOOL AND FOR HIS TRANSPORTATION to and back from school. 

 

There is always stories of the trades worker turned office rat as manager or business owner, but there are also lots of older trades workers who are crawling around on their knees in bad weather. That's where any of these "but what about x" comparisons get difficult. You have to pick a job you enjoy doing. I was talking with a couple students once about areas of practice we might want to do. They seemed shocked that I was viewing what I wanted to do through what an "average" lawyer in the field would do. Sure, it would be cool to argue criminal cases at the SCC and make significant changes to the law, but the average lawyer isn't going to do that so it doesn't make sense to use as a basis for career decisions.

 

Personally, there is a big advantage to working inside in a climate controlled (hopefully) office and using your brain instead of your back. That being said, who wouldn't love to work at a craft? That's the bonus of hobbies, ideally at some point I'll have time for something cool as a hobby to keep my hands busy.

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There is always stories of the trades worker turned office rat as manager or business owner, but there are also lots of older trades workers who are crawling around on their knees in bad weather. That's where any of these "but what about x" comparisons get difficult. You have to pick a job you enjoy doing. I was talking with a couple students once about areas of practice we might want to do. They seemed shocked that I was viewing what I wanted to do through what an "average" lawyer in the field would do. Sure, it would be cool to argue criminal cases at the SCC and make significant changes to the law, but the average lawyer isn't going to do that so it doesn't make sense to use as a basis for career decisions.

 

Personally, there is a big advantage to working inside in a climate controlled (hopefully) office and using your brain instead of your back. That being said, who wouldn't love to work at a craft? That's the bonus of hobbies, ideally at some point I'll have time for something cool as a hobby to keep my hands busy.

From what I see Unionized trades people have it pretty good IF (and this is the main problem in this discussion) you like the job. Apprentices have work all the time because they are paid less and they are easily moved around between job sites. Plus there's all the work you can do on the side without your company if you're any good at renovations. People will pay big money not to have to do that themselves. see that's what I'm saying... I've talked to trades people who couldn't imagine sitting on their asses all day and would go crazy/hate themselves in an office setting. It matters what YOU like to do. cause there's no amount of money in this world that would make me want to work my boyfriends job by choice and he feels the exact same way about the office. He likes dangling off roofs and suspensions too much. For other people it sounds like their worst nightmare. 

Edited by pandalaw
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It can be helpful, when making these kinds of statements, to acknowledge when one is responding to a thread where a number of practising lawyers have chimed in. Especially when one is not actually a lawyer yet. :)

 

(Fwiw, I had taken your purple hair rant as an over the top semi-satirical quip that ventured into bad taste but was not sincere. I'd be disappointed to think you actually meant it... )

 

Hegids, you are not going to like everyone you meet.  In particular, people like me who find humor begins where political correctness ends.  You might not like me, but if you've got a client who's been treated unfairly there's no one who will advocate more ferociously than me. I have no problem working 1-200 hours on a single file if someone will let me.  If there is a legal and ethical way to get someone what they want, I will find it.  So maybe, you find my behind closed doors humor offensive.  But, I will do more for my future clients than anyone else.  And when someone's business is an inch from failure and the responsibility for that lies on someone elses plate because they've behaved with impropriety, I will be everyone's first call.  Or, at least thats my goal.

 

I apologize if you find my humor offensive. But humor is my principle means of relief from anxiety and the pressures that go along with being the only thing between an individual's massive success or soul crushing failure.  And even as a summer student, I take my role extremely seriously.

Edited by ShirleysTemple

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I think people just need to have realistic expectations about law school.

 

I chose a law school that has some of the most affordable tuition in the country and between scholarships, school bursaries and provincial bursaries, I didn't pay a penny for tuition my first year, and will likely only have to pay a couple thousand dollars for my second year. I don't anticipate that I will graduate with much debt, if any.

 

If you attend an Ontario school, particularly a Toronto school, I think it's important to recognize that you will likely accumulate some debt, if not significant debt. That being said, you will also likely have a better chance at landing a higher paying position. There's no reward without risk.

 

Finally, I think it's important to recognize that there are more reasons to attend law school then a simple return on investment calculation. For one, you will get an excellent education that will prepare you for a number of careers, obviously including being a lawyer. I am working in a quasi-law enforcement position this summer that I wouldn't have landed if I wasn't a law student. If I were to continue on full-time, I would have a good paying job with a municipality that includes a pension, benefits and a number of other perks. When people say that a law degree is useless unless you get a position as a lawyer, I would disagree. 

 

I don't like the black and white perspective with respect to law school. It's not a golden ticket, but it's also not something that needs to be avoided like the plague. It's just important to have realistic expectations. 

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. It matters what YOU like to do. cause there's no amount of money in this world that would make me want to work my boyfriends job by choice and he feels the exact same way about the office. He likes dangling off roofs and suspensions too much. For other people it sounds like their worst nightmare. 

It does matter if you like what you do. I made pretty good money as a tradeish person last year, and I'd make more money if I stuck with it, but regardless I was much happier as a graduate student, which was my previous, less lucrative, er... "career" path..  Construction is just not for me, as I personally find it pretty boring. Nor am I really into the culture of construction work (hyper-machoism). However, I'm sure the dudes I work with feel the opposite way.

 

Prestige aside, I think we're all  happier sticking with whatever career feels right as long as were not constantly on the precipice of financial disaster.

 

 

However, when people immediately open up about money the second they start talking about career choices (like at the start of this thread) I wonder why don't always put trades first and foremost. After all if your just thinking about money when your looking at careers, you may as well pick a career where you can have money NOW instead of waiting four years to get a degree before you finally make less money than journeymen tradespeople do.

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I apologize if you find my humor offensive. But humor is my principle means of relief from anxiety and the pressures that go along with being the only thing between an individual's massive success or soul crushing failure.  And even as a summer student, I take my role extremely seriously.

 

I am the last person who is unsympathetic to anxiety, pressure, and the fear of soul crushing failure. I'm glad to hear you have so much passion and determination, whatever area it is that you're pursuing. Law in any area is full of pressure and high stakes success or failure. We're all right there with you, don't forget. (But since you bring it up, do keep in mind that this forum isn't actually behind any closed doors. On the contrary you can hardly get more public!)

 

You might be blending my post with other posts. While I referenced bad taste I didn't say I was offended by your humour. I only said I hoped it was humour.

 

 

Anyway, will be interesting to see if the OP comes back and contributes further. Lots of spinoff discussion to pick up on so far.

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I feel like there are essentially three levels of economic class, when it comes to attending law school. You've got people who are so insanely rich that their parents can and will just cut them a cheque for whatever they want to do. Then you've got people whose understanding of finances - when they are of the conventional age to be making major life decisions - works like, "Law school is a bad investment, because it costs $X and I can only make $Y in return, whereas if I did this other thing, I would only have to spend $A to make $B." But then there's a third level. I suspect it's where an overwhelming majority of us live, or at least lived when we were eighteen and trying to decide if we wanted to be lawyers when we grew up. That's the place that goes like, "Okay, you can either go work at Burger King like your parents did, or else you can go to school, and then that will cost some money, and then you will make some money, and whatever school you go to, you will be incurring massive debt and you will be in debt for the rest of your life, and whatever job you get you will just be making minimum payments on that debt for the rest of your life, so you may as well go to school for the thing you want to study and/or work at paying off for the rest of your life."

 

You may not live on this third level, OP. But this board and watching "Frasier" are the only pieces of evidence I have that any other level exists. Generally, for me, listening to someone run a cost-benefit analysis on law school is like trying to have a conversation with an alien from outer space who is talking outer space language - I'm sure the alien is very smart (he built his spaceship and flew here, after all), but it's just not the world I live in. Where I come from, the takeaway from "Law schools used to charge $X, but now they charge $2X, and you used to be able to make $Y, but now you can only make $0.25Y!" is, "...so I can still make some dollars?" Worrying about the difference between $20,000 in tuition and $100,000 in tuition is a rich person's worry, because you have to be rich for those dollar figures to be distinguishable from each other. For me - and for literally everyone I know in real life - both of those dollar figures are abstractions, representing "a fuckton of money". And the difference between making ("only") $55,000 a year as a lawyer and having to pay back all that debt versus making ("only") $45,000 working in IT and not having to pay that debt back...it's a meaningless distinction because the dollar amounts are meaningless. Would you rather make ten billion dollars to do something you hate, or nine billion dollars to do something you love? If the latter, do you understand that you're sacrificing a billion dollars? What kind of crazy gomer wants to sacrifice a billion dollars? Well...maybe the crazy gomer for whom making nine billion dollars sounds like a good deal and for whom the extra billion dollars doesn't provide much marginal utility, is who.

YB,

 

I'm with you that probably few students actually do that kind of analysis. But isn't that the problem?  

 

First, I think you're wrong that the distinction between, say, $20K and $100K is meaningless to many would-be law students.  Presented like that, it might be, but I doubt there is anyone going into first year law school who can't wrap their minds around the real world difference between paying $200 a month for a decade to repay your student loans and paying $1000 a month for a decade to repay your student loans - i.e., the real world implication of those different tuition fees.    Now, whether they frame the decision in that way is an open question (and, you may be right that they don't) which leads my next point.

 

Don't we want would-be law students (and everyone else) to be able to appreciate the implications of those sort of choices and to do that sort of cost-benefit analysis?   I mean, is it asking too much to expect that sort of analysis from people who are some of the best and brightest of their generation, who have been, by the time they apply to law school, lavishly educated (largely at the public expense) for, what, 17 years? Who can vote (and, in the last election did overwhelmingly for the Liberals, which in its way proves your point that they don't do this sort of analysis).  Who can legally make questionable, and long-lasting, financial decisions.

 

I mean, it's not as if this is skill set that has a limited application to choosing whether or not to go to law school, we will use it regularly in our lives.  Should I buy Car A or lease Car B or take public transit and ride a bike?  Should I take this job that pays more, but has limited growth potential or that job which pays less, but might translate into better opportunities down the road?  Should I buy a condo downtown or a house in the suburbs or rent a place? Hardwood or carpet.  Should I vote for the party with the blue platform or the party with the red platform.  If we haven't imparted that skill set in some of the best and brightest Canadians by their early/mid 20's, we have, as a society, badly failed them and their peers.

  

And maybe we have.  I think most people coming out of high school or university (no matter their background) have no idea what constitutes a "good" salary or their probability of making X amount of money (wasn't there a survey a few years ago of high school graduates showing that most of them expected to make $100K a year within a few years of graduating?). In fact, I think it's fair to say that most people enter adult life as complete economic and financial illiterates.  Sure, they can pontificate at great lengths on a post-colonial trans-gendered interpretation of King Lear, but god forbid they know anything the world they're going to be working in for the next 40 years.   And, I take your point about class and life experience (although often it's kids from wealthier families who most oblivious because their "normal" isn't normal), but really isn't this the sort of skill that you need to be an informed citizen  in a democratic society (this, after all, is the basis for rational policy making), shouldn't this be universally ingrained in us by the public school system, if not our parents, by the time we graduate from high school?  In a society which devotes billions of dollars every year to providing universal public education largely (though not exclusively) to prepare them for the working world, there is no excuse for our failure to provide every kid, from every family, with knowledge about the world they live in, what reasonable expectations should be in that world, and how to assess their choices.  

 

Finally, you're wrong that it's  "rich person's worry".  It is, in particular, a poor person's worry, because they're the people who can least afford to make a bad decision and have the least buffer to avoid the consequences of such decisions.  If you're sitting on a trust fund and make a  bad $100K decision, oops, guess you have to go with the Toyota instead of the Lexus.  If you're at the bottom of the totem poll and you make a bad $100K investment, it's not Toyota vs. Lexus consequences, it's life-crippling financial consequences (and, as an aside, I think that become very clear when you look at many of the sad stories coming out of the US law school gong show).

 

So I take your point, maybe students don't do this sort of analysis. You're probably right about that.  Many of them probably haven't been equipped to do it.  But a 20-something university graduate should be able to do that analysis, and if they aren't or can't, that's a serious societal problem.    

 

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Hey guys,

 

I long ago finished law school, and have subsequently long since left the legal profession, but I had to ask the ol' board simply: why are you still applying to law schools, particularly Ontario ones?

 

Let me explain. I was graduating back in 2009, during the Great Recession. It was clear even then that structural issues had developed within the profession while the ossified faculties remained aloof to even a hint of change. In fact they were increasing class sizes and tuition costs by the maximum amount legally allowed.

 

I'm asking today because I've got a man who now works for me. He's a law school graduate. But his field is now low level IT. He makes 50k a year. I look at him and I remember how I used to come on to this board years ago and shout "NO, it's not just the US, it's systemic, there's a real problem!!!".

 

But the groupthink was intense. This board was an echo chamber of self-assurance and delusion back in 2010-11. I bet my employee was on this board making fun of the warnings at the time.

 

Now matters are unbelievably worse. The low-end of the market is flooded with Bond graduates, technology is commoditizing work, wages have been stagnant for almost a decade (particularly in Toronto). I mean COME ON.

 

Any argument that this isn't structural, and really bad, is a blatant disregard for reality. I mean, applications at HARVARD are down nearly 20%. Columbia is down 30%. There is now open speculation that a top-20 US school will close. Guys, when the top law schools in the world are seeing declines like this, it's time to hit the exits.

 

Let's look at the vaunted University of Toronto's reaction to this hurricane:

 

2008: Laid off articling students, a bloodbath during the recession, are "shown concern for by the faculty" by extending the deadline for a Tax LLM application. They freaking upsold desperate grads like a 3AM Shamwow infomercial....school increases tuition.

 

2010: "Career Services" office is caught telling third-year students without an articling offer to Google search for a job. That's literally their prime advice. Hilarity ensues in Ultra Vires....school increases tuition.

 

2012-2013: Average starting salaries drop by like 15% (or something similar) province-wide. Partners are openly complaining that associates don't "bill enough". Which really translates to they no longer have the work to give associates.

 

Concurrently, protests of tuition increases by student body ensue. Faculty hold listening groups, concerns are heard. Everyone leaves for summer.....raises tuition.

 

2015: Dean Ron Daniels, the stooge who started this insane and never-ending regime of tuition increases, comes back to give graduation speech. Students threaten protest AT GRADUATION for his role in the massive tuition increases. Faculty listens to concerns. Dean allowed to give speech anyway. And gets an honorary degree. Kinda shows where the faculty's priorities are (hint: NOT THE STUDENTS).

 

All the while it was back-slapping on this board. We're the big winners of course. Anyone who raised concerns was a loser who couldn't hack it. Meanwhile tuition goes from something like $4000 to $33,000 per year over the course of two decades. And people kept applying. Good god.

 

Law schools are stores of trust. And that trust was built up over decades of service to both students and the community. But about twenty years ago service may have no longer mattered to the faculty and staff of Ontario law schools. Instead, they viewed that store of trust like a financial asset to be drawn down in the form of exploding salaries for themselves funded by student debtors like us. When that trust is gone the value of the institutions and the degrees they confer will drift away.

 

This isn't sour grapes from me. Quite frankly I could care less if any of you think that. But I can see the human cost in all of this right in front of me. I can't stand it. Why aren't you protesting with your feet?

 

I think this post raises all kinds of good points and students should look carefully at law school before they make the leap. But law school was a good investment for me. Both financially and personally (e.g. career satisfaction, etc.). I suspect it will continue also be good investment for many others (perhaps even the majority of most classes), notwithstanding issues you point out, and that is why ppl are still applying.

Edited by conge

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YB,

 

I'm with you that probably few students actually do that kind of analysis. But isn't that the problem?  

 

First, I think you're wrong that the distinction between, say, $20K and $100K is meaningless to many would-be law students.  Presented like that, it might be, but I doubt there is anyone going into first year law school who can't wrap their minds around the real world difference between paying $200 a month for a decade to repay your student loans and paying $1000 a month for a decade to repay your student loans - i.e., the real world implication of those different tuition fees.    Now, whether they frame the decision in that way is an open question (and, you may be right that they don't) which leads my next point.

 

Don't we want would-be law students (and everyone else) to be able to appreciate the implications of those sort of choices and to do that sort of cost-benefit analysis?   I mean, is it asking too much to expect that sort of analysis from people who are some of the best and brightest of their generation, who have been, by the time they apply to law school, lavishly educated (largely at the public expense) for, what, 17 years? Who can vote (and, in the last election did overwhelmingly for the Liberals, which in its way proves your point that they don't do this sort of analysis).  Who can legally make questionable, and long-lasting, financial decisions.

 

I mean, it's not as if this is skill set that has a limited application to choosing whether or not to go to law school, we will use it regularly in our lives.  Should I buy Car A or lease Car B or take public transit and ride a bike?  Should I take this job that pays more, but has limited growth potential or that job which pays less, but might translate into better opportunities down the road?  Should I buy a condo downtown or a house in the suburbs or rent a place? Hardwood or carpet.  Should I vote for the party with the blue platform or the party with the red platform.  If we haven't imparted that skill set in some of the best and brightest Canadians by their early/mid 20's, we have, as a society, badly failed them and their peers.

  

And maybe we have.  I think most people coming out of high school or university (no matter their background) have no idea what constitutes a "good" salary or their probability of making X amount of money (wasn't there a survey a few years ago of high school graduates showing that most of them expected to make $100K a year within a few years of graduating?). In fact, I think it's fair to say that most people enter adult life as complete economic and financial illiterates.  Sure, they can pontificate at great lengths on a post-colonial trans-gendered interpretation of King Lear, but god forbid they know anything the world they're going to be working in for the next 40 years.   And, I take your point about class and life experience (although often it's kids from wealthier families who most oblivious because their "normal" isn't normal), but really isn't this the sort of skill that you need to be an informed citizen  in a democratic society (this, after all, is the basis for rational policy making), shouldn't this be universally ingrained in us by the public school system, if not our parents, by the time we graduate from high school?  In a society which devotes billions of dollars every year to providing universal public education largely (though not exclusively) to prepare them for the working world, there is no excuse for our failure to provide every kid, from every family, with knowledge about the world they live in, what reasonable expectations should be in that world, and how to assess their choices.  

 

Finally, you're wrong that it's  "rich person's worry".  It is, in particular, a poor person's worry, because they're the people who can least afford to make a bad decision and have the least buffer to avoid the consequences of such decisions.  If you're sitting on a trust fund and make a  bad $100K decision, oops, guess you have to go with the Toyota instead of the Lexus.  If you're at the bottom of the totem poll and you make a bad $100K investment, it's not Toyota vs. Lexus consequences, it's life-crippling financial consequences (and, as an aside, I think that become very clear when you look at many of the sad stories coming out of the US law school gong show).

 

So I take your point, maybe students don't do this sort of analysis. You're probably right about that.  Many of them probably haven't been equipped to do it.  But a 20-something university graduate should be able to do that analysis, and if they aren't or can't, that's a serious societal problem.    

 

I agree with you completely. My point wasn't that potential law students shouldn't weigh these factors, just that those I've known generally don't, and that students with less financial literacy and/or less awareness of their opportunities generally can't. These are certainly problems. And when I say that figuring out how much debt one will take on is a "rich person's problem", I mostly mean that it's a problem rich people are likelier to be able to grapple with in a meaningful way.  I know people for whom the idea of taking on any student debt was totally unbearable---"What if I don't get a good job? What if I can't pay it back? What if I have to declare bankruptcy? What if I go to jail?" For those people, taking on $1,000 in debt seems as bad as taking on $100,000 in debt would - the numbers become abstractions, and the idea of the debt is the problem. And I know that the inverse is true too---if numbers are abstractions, it's easy to convince yourself that going $100,000 in debt isn't that much different from going $20,000 in debt.

 

I do believe that we, as a society, are failing our young people. We're not teaching them enough about financial/economic literacy; we're not teaching them how to monetize their skills and talents properly within that framework. When I describe what I've seen regarding would-be lawyers who don't know enough (or don't feel confident enough to make rational decisions) about their finances, God knows I'm not endorsing that. I'm just trying to answer the question of, "Why are people still applying to law school today?", and I think one of the answers is that some of them are operating from a different economic understanding than the OP brings. If the question were, "Given the state of the legal market, should a Canadian student be going $100,000 in debt to get a JD from Cooley?", my answer is no.

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From what I see Unionized trades people have it pretty good IF (and this is the main problem in this discussion) you like the job. Apprentices have work all the time because they are paid less and they are easily moved around between job sites. Plus there's all the work you can do on the side without your company if you're any good at renovations. People will pay big money not to have to do that themselves. see that's what I'm saying... I've talked to trades people who couldn't imagine sitting on their asses all day and would go crazy/hate themselves in an office setting. It matters what YOU like to do. cause there's no amount of money in this world that would make me want to work my boyfriends job by choice and he feels the exact same way about the office. He likes dangling off roofs and suspensions too much. For other people it sounds like their worst nightmare. 

 

Yeah this is key. I'm from a blue collar city and almost every single one of my friends are in trades or something similar. Although I had a knack for some of the trades I never liked the work. I even worked construction with some of them for my summers and the only great part was working with friends, the rest sucked. On the flip side, they all loved it! It's challenging, it's fun, it's rewarding, it's hands on etc. Just to give you an example of how much the work matters, my best friend quit his job as a lead millwright to work for Delta elevators since they make a lot of money. Although, 2 weeks into his Delta career he realized that elevator mechanics is not what he was interested in. He said everything is too structured, it was like putting lego pieces together and not even challenging. So he asked his old boss for his job back and was offered a raise to rejoin lol. I really respected him for that. He quit this new higher paying job simply because it was boring and not challenging.

 

 

Now let's talk comparisons and success. It varies friend to friend and if they lucked out with sweet jobs. I know my plumber friend is nearing $80k/yr but on average I'd say they all make $60-70k probably. Nevertheless, all of them own houses now and other than mortgages and some car payments, are debt free. Some even have extra investment properties – in fact, one friend who isn't even in the trades but works at Toyota has property, a paid off car and ~$40k in cash saved. I told him to invest it and his words "Yeah, I just don't know what to do with it but I like looking at my bank account" lol :s. 

Edited by Jgweebz
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I agree with you completely. My point wasn't that potential law students shouldn't weigh these factors, just that those I've known generally don't, and that students with less financial literacy and/or less awareness of their opportunities generally can't. These are certainly problems. And when I say that figuring out how much debt one will take on is a "rich person's problem", I mostly mean that it's a problem rich people are likelier to be able to grapple with in a meaningful way.  I know people for whom the idea of taking on any student debt was totally unbearable---"What if I don't get a good job? What if I can't pay it back? What if I have to declare bankruptcy? What if I go to jail?" For those people, taking on $1,000 in debt seems as bad as taking on $100,000 in debt would - the numbers become abstractions, and the idea of the debt is the problem. And I know that the inverse is true too---if numbers are abstractions, it's easy to convince yourself that going $100,000 in debt isn't that much different from going $20,000 in debt.

 

I do believe that we, as a society, are failing our young people. We're not teaching them enough about financial/economic literacy; we're not teaching them how to monetize their skills and talents properly within that framework. When I describe what I've seen regarding would-be lawyers who don't know enough (or don't feel confident enough to make rational decisions) about their finances, God knows I'm not endorsing that. I'm just trying to answer the question of, "Why are people still applying to law school today?", and I think one of the answers is that some of them are operating from a different economic understanding than the OP brings. If the question were, "Given the state of the legal market, should a Canadian student be going $100,000 in debt to get a JD from Cooley?", my answer is no.

 

 

And how are we, "failing our young people."  If you're not smart enough to consider the cost/benefit of spending 100k on a law degree, not only are you clearly incapable of ever providing adequate counsel, but you're probably going to be one of 15% of students who can't get licensed.  If you need your hand held through life to that degree, I don't know how you can expect to advise people through the most complex and important decisions of their life.  Do you know what a lawyer does?  We are supposed to be the last people in the world who need that type of micromanagement.

 

OP clearly did not have the requisite ability to succeed in the legal profession and is projecting his insecurities on the rest of us.  The legal profession in Canada trains a ton of people with the hopes that a good proportion of them turn out.  The legal profession is saturated with sub-par professionals but there is a dearth of the competent, high-end counsel that clients are in need of.

Edited by ShirleysTemple

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Speaking only for myself, I personally did not spring from the womb with a sound knowledge of economics, investments, finances, or accounting. I learned.

 

Most of what I learned I learned in the first two years of my practise. (Do not recommend.)

 

All this just to say it's fine and dandy to look back at our 21 or 22 year old selves (still the usual age when law school solidifies into a plan) and say Oh, you should have had this completely adult and mature and thorough grasp of your finances and debt risk and the statistical likelihood of economic success - but I don't think it's something a person just comes into on their 18th birthday. I mean it's not like how as soon as we all turned 19 we knew how to drink responsibly and never got blackout hammered and endured a four day hangover. Some things you learned by screwing up. If left to our own devices, most of us are perfectly capable of innocently screwing up our finances when we first get control over them absent any supervision.

 

I wouldn't know how to read, write, or do long division except I was taught. Seems reasonable per YB's analysis that some finance/accounting/budgeting education would be a healthy addition to the ABCs. I certainly would have benefited back in the day.

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  Do you know what a lawyer does?  We are supposed to be the last people in the world who need that type of micromanagement.

Do you know what a lawyer does?  The world is filled with lawyers who are financial basket cases, which has nothing at all to do with whether or not they're capable of giving their clients good legal advice.  Equally, I can think of lawyers who are very savvy businessmen, who are absolutely terrifying lawyers.   A person's financial literacy does not necessarily reflect on their competence as a lawyer.  

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Interesting discussion, a few scattered thoughts so not quoting.

 

1. Pretty much all formal education (i.e. what you need for credentials, becoming a professional, getting a job with a degree, entering a trade, etc.) is much more expensive, even adjusted for inflation, than it used to be (while informal education, even sometimes e.g. MIT etc. lectures, at least via Internet are much more accessible).

 

2. It is much more common to require credentials (certified/provable formal education) not just for professions, but for entry-level jobs (e.g. must have a degree to get jobs that used to be high school graduate was enough, and jobs for which the college or university skills are not necessary) - there are states where you need 1200 hours and 6 months of courses merely to be licensed to shampoo hair (that's from memory, I may be off a bit). This isn't really relevant to law, but to part of why tuition generally is less price-sensitive than it used to be, because you need more formal post-secondary education for more and more jobs.

 

3. So for law, where it's a second degree (so multiply the enhanced costs even more for the extra years), and the nature of the work and the availability of jobs and the costs of serving clients (in significant part due to the need to service educational debt, i.e. what you can afford to accept as a salary or to charge clients if a solo), means that law has become significantly more expensive in real dollar terms, and people who need lawyers have (on average, i.e. non-wealthy) become less able to afford lawyers, given the enhanced costs the lawyers need to charge. If lawyers could afford to charge less (partly as a function of educational debt, partly as a function of all the CYOA one is required to follow...), more clients could and would pay them. I support regulation of paralegals, not only on for their own sake but because regulation makes them have to deal with the sorts of tribulations lawyers do...  :roll:

 

4. In law particularly, given the number of practitioners (i.e. it's not like history, you need academics because there aren't a lot of solo historians hanging up their shingles and answering client questions about the influence of train schedules on Britain's entry into WWI), including un- or under-employed practitioners, it would actually be more feasible to provide adequate legal education for significantly less (i.e. people teaching law would accept lower rates of remuneration if one is willing to hire plain old lawyers rather than SJDs or PhDs), but for reasons including university attitudes, prestige, inertia, and willingness of students to pay (even with fewer applying there's still demand), I don't see that happening anytime soon. People who know law + students + classrooms, that's all you need, even libraries are not as necessary as they once were (except that they're required for accreditation...).

 

5. So - and I think this was raised already, albeit more briefly - if you're going to be in debt anyway no matter what, why not be in debt for something you (think you) want to do, like practising law?

 

6. Also, some people (including me) see a value in education even if not practical - I know lots of people who e.g. do Master's degrees in theology or divinity or whatever, out of personal interest.

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I had typed up a very short and very harsh response to your posts but then thought better of it.  Mostly because I understand the enthusiasm that being a summer student inspires.  That enthusiasm is great.  However, you seem to have slipped past enthusiasm and marched head-long into un-justified confidence territory.  It's pretty frustrating, but also super adorable.  Like half of me wants to tell you to fuck off and the other half of me wants to give you a hug and tell you everything's going to be ok.  

 

You write very much like a summer student.  Everything is black and white.  Hard work will always win the day.  It reminds me of watching an episode of "Suits".  

 

I don't want to get bogged down in an argument with you over the merits of your main points here because I can tell there won't be a point.  But I do implore you to bookmark this thread and come back and re-read your posts after you've been practicing for a year or two.  Trust me - if you appreciate humor as much as you say you do - you'll pee your pants laughing.  

 

Dude is talking to lawyers about what the practice of law is like and he/she is a summer student?  Jesus.  

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Dude is talking to lawyers about what the practice of law is like and he/she is a summer student?  Jesus.  

Yup. God bless him/her.  And I probably would've been able to bite my tongue too were it not for this gem:

 

"I wholeheartedly enjoy going after people who have fucked someone else.  I have the power to bankrupt them..."

 

Like seriously adorable right?  

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