On Seeing L1s

L.A. Law

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Yesterday when I was downtown waiting for the bus to take me to get my haircut, I saw two women carrying their torts books. We were close to Loyola and their conversation drew me in. I had to know if they had the same profs they have. So eventually I asked.

Once it was established that we went to the same class I offered some tips, though now I wish I’d told them to get the Sum and Substance CDs with Arthur Miller for Civ Pro, that was the best way to learn those principles. We then turned to the rough job market. I was tactful since I don’t know these women, and I know that it’s exciting to start law school and that law school students are prone to an exceptionalist view of the world. They think, “Yes, it’s hard to get a job and yes, I’ll have a lot of debt, but I’m different with my hard work and brains, I can avoid the underemployment and financial difficulties inherent in the field. My career will be like someone on L.A. Law or Ally McBeal.”

Fact is, it probably won’t unless you bring a lot to the table like stellar grades, a medical or engineering degree, fluency in a critical language and the ability to bring in clients, you’re likely to end up with debt up to your ears, no insurance, and a part time job waiting tables. See But I did Everything Right and similar blogs. At one point, when she looked a bit downhearted, one L1 asked what I now did. I said I dropped out of law school and never worked in a firm. I said I was glad I didn’t accrue a lot of debt to enter a field that’s changed so drastically. That seemed to have been sobering.

What’s worse for these female L1s is that because they’re likely to have a family within a few years of getting hired, they’re not high on anyone’s hire list. The firms won’t tell them that because they’d be sued, but one friend who’s an older lawyer made it clear that his firm doesn’t look for young women. He also mentioned that he’d hired a lot of my father’s friends kids and not one of them still practices law.