# Is Law School a Losing Game?

IF there is ever a class in how to remain calm while trapped beneath $250,000 in loans, Michael Wallerstein ought to teach it. Kimber A. Russell, who has a J.D., writes a blog about the high debts and grim job prospects facing law school graduates. Here he is, sitting one afternoon at a restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, a tall, sandy-haired, 27-year-old radiating a kind of surfer-dude serenity. His secret, if that’s the right word, is to pretty much ignore all the calls and letters that he receives every day from the dozen or so creditors now hounding him for cash. For Law School Graduates, Debts if Not Job Offers - NYTimes.com #### bigbadwolf The NYT mentions some blogs from disillusioned law school graduates but fails to mention this one (which I've mentioned before), no doubt out of a sense of propriety and decorum. Postscript: The blog is mentioned on page 2 of the article. It's interesting to speculate on why there aren't blogs like this from quant students? Is it because most are immigrants and hence more docile? Is it because disenchantment hasn't yet set in? Are they more indoctrinated? #### Anthony DeAngelis I've read the third tier reality site and it is pretty addicting. I think all things considered, an MFE is cheaper and more useful than 3 years of law school plus trying to pass the bar. People really need to work a little before they start getting into all this student loan debt. I found that some real world paychecks gave me a good stomach for how much student loan debt I could handle. Buyer beware. #### bigbadwolf *Shrug* -- the problem is all those history, literature, and fine arts graduates out there who want a crack at the good life. They want to believe, they need to believe, that they can have the life. The law schools deceive, true, but they have a credulous population of arts students who think they can make partner. #### TraderJoe These are the actual salaries. http://www.ilrg.com/rankings/law/index.php/1/desc/LSATLow Generally 96% placement rate with starting base salary around$130 K from any decent law school.

The key difference is that the law school students are 98% domestic students. So the few students who don't get jobs whine like crazy.

The MFE students are 80% international students. So when they don't get jobs they just quietly disappear which is very convenient for the schools which do not publish placement stats.

Anyway the people making the really big  are the MBAs and not the JDs or the MFEs.

These are the actual salaries.

http://www.ilrg.com/rankings/law/index.php/1/desc/LSATLow

Generally 96% placement rate with starting base salary around $130 K from any decent law school. *Sputtering up my coffee* -- I don't believe those figures, if the blogs are anything to go by. The T-13 (Harvard, Yale, all the way down to Michigan) have a crack at the good jobs. There are some who get the plush jobs; most don't. Knew one computer network technician with a law degree from the William Mitchell College of Law (4th tier). Knew another lawyer -- a female -- who was driving a school bus. Too many lawyers. A third of all the lawyers in the world are in the US. Another well-known blog: http://temporaryattorney.blogspot.com/ #### physEcon I've read the third tier reality site and it is pretty addicting. I think all things considered, an MFE is cheaper and more useful than 3 years of law school plus trying to pass the bar. I have to agree. Generally when an MFE grad doesn't get a job it is because they can't find a finance job. Usually by the end of one year post graduation they have found some numerical and/or programming gig that allows them to pay off their debts, albeit probably rather slowly and not with the lifestyle they thought they would have had. #### Stefan Zota These are the actual salaries. http://www.ilrg.com/rankings/law/index.php/1/desc/LSATLow Generally 96% placement rate with starting base salary around$130 K from any decent law school.

The key difference is that the law school students are 98% domestic students. So the few students who don't get jobs whine like crazy.

The MFE students are 80% international students. So when they don't get jobs they just quietly disappear which is very convenient for the schools which do not publish placement stats.

Anyway the people making the really big  are the MBAs and not the JDs or the MFEs.

Yes percentage of international students in MFE is similar to other science departments. However I wouldn't say that MBA make a lot of . I agree that top graduates (5%) can get to higher salaries than other graduates.
However I doubt that average is high. It's difficult to get to $90-100k average for 1000 MBA than 30 MFE ... #### IlyaKEightSix Ehhh? I've opined on my blog about the horrible job market, but honestly, it's gotten old. I've applied for 5 PhDs in the meantime (thinking of applying to a sixth in the next couple of days), and frankly, the truth of the matter is that nobody really gives a rat's ass, so what's the use in whining? Most people would probably see it as "waaah waah I did 'what was expected' and didn't get my guaranteed reward" and probably think of anyone writing such things as spoiled and/or entitled. And even if they have sympathy to you, it's not like they're going to go to their local hiring manager and say "hey this kid has a great background, hire him now please okay thanks". And odds are, complaining on the interwebs is going to generate more negativity than anything else. So at the best, it's useless. At the worst, it's self-destructive. And in the meantime, so long as a bunch of gullible, wide-eyed children, from the US who want to go on to become liars--errr--lawyers, or a bunch of kids from overseas who dream of learning what is effectively alchemy, universities are all too happy to rehash the same unproven crap in exchange for some very provably real cash, and when the student loans come due, oh well, not like the university gives a damn. I myself believe that universities should be paid their weight of 15% of a graduate's gross income (EG if someone went to undergraduate school for four years and got a master's in one, the undergrad university should receive 12% gross, and the master's 3%), the way that agents receive royalties when they help an aspiring author get published. Of course, there are those idealists in the world that claim that the purpose of a university is to provide you with "knowledge" instead of the macguffin that is a degree that helps you get a job. I will forever disagree with them, but c'est la vie. #### Connor I think it is somewhat similar with MBA programs. Top tier MBA graduates have less trouble getting a job compared to lower tier programs, and it seems like everyone offers an MBA program as a cash cow. #### Andy Nguyen Distribution of Law School Graduate Starting Salaries My Money Blog #### bigbadwolf Readers' comments below the graph are eminently worth reading. One is struck by how articulate they are, their easy command of language, and the facility with which they marshall facts and arguments to make their case. #### Andy Nguyen There are lots of fallout after the NYT article on law school debt issue. Now, it's discovered that law schools use merit-based scholarships to trick students http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/business/law-school-grants.html Now, U.S News demands law schools to be more responsible http://abovethelaw.com/2011/05/its-...schools-to-take-some-personal-responsibility/ Now, there is a non-profit organization with a mission to demand more transparency from law schools http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/ #### atreides ##### Graduate Student This appears to be happening more often. Jobless law school grads suing school Link #### purplyboy #### AV-Wolverine I did research a while ago on law and the conclusion I came to was much the same as everyone else: there are too many lawyers in the country. Here's the link to Yale's (the no.1 program) placement data: http://www.law.yale.edu/admissions/cdoprospectivestudentstats.htm And the shocking things to note are: - The industry standard is to report employment status 9-months (!!) after graduation - Less than 40% hit those big bucks at law firm jobs - The median salary is$65,000, while the 75 percentile is $160,000. So, more than half the class isn't immediately getting a great ROI. All from the no.1 law school in the country! #### AV-Wolverine Is MFE in the same boat as law or heading there very soon? There are so many new MFE programs jumping on the gravy train, aren't there? #### Ken Abbott ##### Managing Director Is MFE in the same boat as law or heading there very soon? There are so many new MFE programs jumping on the gravy train, aren't there? MFE programs are already in the same boat. When it was just CMU and NYU in 2001, everyone was easily placed. Consider: what's the key stat of any program today? Placement. And those numbers aren't great. #### purplyboy I did research a while ago on law and the conclusion I came to was much the same as everyone else: there are too many lawyers in the country. Here's the link to Yale's (the no.1 program) placement data: http://www.law.yale.edu/admissions/cdoprospectivestudentstats.htm And the shocking things to note are: - The industry standard is to report employment status 9-months (!!) after graduation - Less than 40% hit those big bucks at law firm jobs - The median salary is$65,000, while the 75 percentile is \$160,000. So, more than half the class isn't immediately getting a great ROI.

All from the no.1 law school in the country!
The top 25% at Yale Law School are making 160k. The others are suffering. This is from Yale. I wonder how those from less known law schools do?

#### AV-Wolverine

MFE programs are already in the same boat. When it was just CMU and NYU in 2001, everyone was easily placed. Consider: what's the key stat of any program today? Placement. And those numbers aren't great.

Would an M.Stats with financial concentration be a wiser option? I felt I would be opening doors to other fields of quantitative analytics work if quantitative finance isn't a great prospect.

As an aside, thanks you Quantnet for giving me a better perspective to the fairytale MFE->Wall Street stories.