OT: Debt from Law School at the School in Ohio leaves lawyer unfit for admission to Ohio Bar

Submitted by Cock D on January 14th, 2011 at 10:04 AM

A lesson for those thinking of starting law school this coming fall...

Wow. Guy goes to law school, guy racks up a huge amount of debt, guy has no idea how he’ll pay off his debts. Sound familiar? Okay, here’s the twist: the guy failed the “character and fitness” component of the Ohio bar because he has no plan to pay off his loans.



Waters Demos

January 14th, 2011 at 10:17 AM ^

This is a tough option because you've probably already sank quite a lot of cash into it.

At this point, unless you hate it, stick with it.

What can you do if you're not in the top 10%?

1) Make law review (this is not all that hard, depending on the school/journal)

2) Develop a dynamite personality and make a lot of contacts.  The first part in particular cannot be emphasized enough; being a person who other people like to be around will carry you further than you may think.  This is because the field often requires you to work closely with others for long hours.  Nobody wants to work all that time with someone who's awkward or altogether dislikeable. 


January 14th, 2011 at 10:35 AM ^

I know a couple weaker students who got summer jobs long before I did, because they knew the right people at the right firms.

Also, your first semester grades don't have much bearing on your final GPA. My first semester was pretty average, but it's come up every semester since then.


January 14th, 2011 at 11:53 AM ^

this is the wrong advice. "Unless you hate it" is not the right measuring stick. In this environment you should really want to be a lawyer in order to take on over 100 grand in debt, and even then you should think seriously about what it means to have that much debt.  And while you can certainly hustle your way into a job, there are no guarantees.  Also, making law review and "developing a dynamite personality" are both really hard to do.  I don't even know what it would mean to develop a dynamite personality at age 24. Certainly not the kind of experiment I'd want to wager 150k on. 

Waters Demos

January 14th, 2011 at 12:42 PM ^

1) I accept your apology.

2) I'm speaking generally here, and I think most will know what I mean.  I'm also reacting to the fact that he has already sunk a lot of money in, so it's best to see your investment through instead of ditching it and never recovering it. (See the very first comment in the thread for my advice to those who have not commenced the law school process).   But I appreciate your view; now those making these types of decisions have 2 competing pieces of advice, and, therefore, more to consider. 

Cock D

January 14th, 2011 at 10:16 AM ^

And I seriously thought about cutting losses and getting out after that first semester.  Dug out of the hole with some hard work.  Leveraged prior work experience and networking into a good job out of school a few years back. 

I stuck around out of pride - and the fact that the education was being largely cash financed.

In making your decision, don't let pride get in your way.  Confront the realities of the uphill climb and your ability to pay the freight of the education.  Good luck with your decision - it's a hard one.


January 14th, 2011 at 10:18 AM ^

I disagree.  Avoid law school like the plague.  Being a lawyer sucks unless you like being saddled with $100k in additional loans and working 12-14 hour days, 6 days a week, all the while wishing you were just about anywhere else.  /s

Also, law school is much more enjoyable if you treat it as undergrad, especially if you go to a school with "interesting" coeds . . .  For some reason, they seem to think lawyers are more attractive than they really are.


January 14th, 2011 at 10:50 AM ^

You made me laugh out loud and the guy in the office next to me asked what the hell I was laughing about.  How do I explain that one?

FWIW, her first question after I told her that Brady Hoke was hired was:  "Who?"  (I think I mentioned it, but that was the same question I got from the Chick-fil-A cashier a few days ago.)  She is not informed as to recruiting issues other than the Dee Hart saga and she does not appear to care about that in which I was so invested.  She does, however, have a big interest in when Michigan will contract with Nike again.  She's not a fan of the Adidas font on my t-shirts and I hear about it every time I wear them (which is much more often than she would like).


January 14th, 2011 at 10:12 AM ^

character that's stupid.  Hey, it's just a way the profession is telling people we have too many Lawyers now go do something productive with that high powered degree.  Happens in many professions.   Sorry, bout that guy it's too bad he had to learn this the hard way.


January 14th, 2011 at 11:13 AM ^

There aren't a lot of other uses for a law degree, the skills themselves are transitive but a lot of employers aren't interested in someone with that specialized of an education (or at least, employers who offer salaries proportionate to law school tuition).  This poor bastard wasn't carrying a debt load much higher than anyone I know who isn't on scholarship, and was working for a public defender who wouldn't hire full-time until they had bar results (a position that is pretty common across public employers, and a lot of firms outside of BigLaw).  The Ohio Bar screwed this guy, and is screwing over public defender hiring.


January 14th, 2011 at 12:35 PM ^

particularly the Veterans Administration has openings all across America and the Phillipines for JDs to do benefits disposistions, or adjudicate Veterans claims.  The starting pay is not bad and a job in hand is always good collateral.  In some cases the Veterans Administration will pay some or all of the loans back depending on how desperate they are to get someone in that posistion.  Could be a good deal all the way around.  were talking  at a range of  $70 - 100 grand. 

R Kelly

January 14th, 2011 at 10:12 AM ^

I am really struggling to decide if I should continue down this path.  I don't want to be a quitter, and I enjoy the school aspect to a certain degree; however, I don't really know if I want to be a lawyer all that bad.  I came here more for the versatility of the degree than anything else, but I really don't know if it is worth 100K+.  I know there are a lot of lawyers on the beard here, what advice would you have for someone like myself?

los barcos

January 14th, 2011 at 10:23 AM ^

to law school for the same reason as you - because of the versatility i thought a law degree would open a lot of doors.  which is true, i think, except now law schools are churning out so many lawyers there are very few jobs for anyone, especially in public interest. (and i went to a "good" law school).


if i were you i might stick it out at this point but honestly if i had to do it all over again i would have looked into a different degree, probably one in public policy.



January 14th, 2011 at 10:51 AM ^

I was in the same situation after my first year.  I thought law school would be interesting and make me a more well-rounded person for whatever job I decided to pursue, and I was hoping to do something in the public interest sector. 

However, I seriously considered leaving.  Among other reasons, I hated focusing on the academic side 24/7.  I decided to give the second year a try, but I wanted to try something different - doing something I liked.  I volunteered at a legal aid office, got involved in some of the school organizations, and joined one of the school's legal clinics.  It made my experience a lot better because I found that I actually cared about what I was doing. 

So if you want any advice, I would say tough out that first year, and then think about what initially interested you in law school.  From there, pursue activities, organizations, and opportunities that relate to those initial reasons for going.


January 14th, 2011 at 11:17 AM ^

At the debt load, the degree is not very versatile.  You'll gain skills in critical thinking and organizing and presenting arguments, but most employers outside of some consulting groups will wonder why the heck you wasted time and money on a law degree when you aren't going to practice.  I'd sit down ASAP and figure out what you want to be doing with your career, and then adjust you education/employment choices toward that goal.


January 14th, 2011 at 11:33 AM ^

If I were you, I'd cut your losses.  If you hate idea of being a lawyer while in law school, you probably will hate the idea even more after you graduate.  Cut your losses now and look for work.  It may not sound fancy to not finish law school, but it's better than being left with the weight of paying off student loans for the rest of your life, while stuck working a job you're admittedly not sure if you'll even somewhat like.

OSUMC Wolverine

January 14th, 2011 at 12:45 PM ^

I went to Law School, realized after the first year that I had no desire to be an attorney.  I worked through the next two years, graduated, and never sat for the bar.  I went back to healthcare, work 3 days/week, make more than most of my classmates I still have contact with from law school, and am happy with my decision.  In retrospect, I should have stopped after year one and saved the money and wear and tear on myself.  If your heart is not in it, give continuing some serious thought.  Your heart not being into it will undoubtedly impact your performance as well.


January 14th, 2011 at 10:18 AM ^

attending.  I did not enjoy the law education or the practice of law, but the legal education was crucial to my current career in commercial real estate (Space Bitches Space in a different context).  I would recommend the JD/MBA combined degree however;  with it you can 'write your own ticket".


January 14th, 2011 at 10:30 AM ^

At the time, law school felt like the inner circles of purgatory.  Both brain and liver were elated in the spring of 1997 when it was over.  Ashley's and Grizzly Peak were probably a bit sad that I graduated, as the amount of money spent on booze during those three years probably added a fourth year of tuition.  Mercifully, my parents paid for it.  I have no idea how I managed to pull that off, so I can't speak to the debt situation.   

That said, I can give you a perspective on what it has done for me. 

I was at Winston Strawn in
for 10 years and left in the fall of 2007 to start doing PE work with a handful of friends.  During the lovely meltdown of 2008/09, I wondered (maybe a few million times) "what on gods green earth have I done"...), but now I can tell you that it was by far the right move.  

The degree, connections and experience have proven invaluable.  I miss the 90+ hour weeks like a dog misses fleas...


January 14th, 2011 at 11:39 AM ^

day grind of the practice;  it just wasn't for me.   The real estate business, on the other hand is a joy;  different every day, constructive (no pun intended), and fulfilling, at least for me.  I use my legal education every day, all day long. 


January 14th, 2011 at 11:48 AM ^

Seven years of my life flew by in about 10 minutes.  The last three were stressful.  Was on planes more often than pilots and working constantly.  No wonder I am 38 and single! 

I made the decision to leave right about the time for me to be considered for partner.  My mentor told me I was nuts (and at the time she was probably right), but I just didn't have it in me anymore. 


January 14th, 2011 at 10:20 AM ^

The fact is, a law school education costs $150,000 and MOST legal jobs don't pay enough to comfortably pay that off.  The jobs that do, suck.  I'm a 04 UMLS grad, and since I never went into BIGLAW - I've had jobs where I get to see my kids - student loans are the bane of my existence.  I could almost drive two BMWs for what I pay in loans every month.  I always advise against going to law school, unless you (a) know what lawyers really do everyday (drudgery) and (b) you get some great scholarship. 


January 14th, 2011 at 10:26 AM ^

...but right now, the legal market is beyond brutal, ESPECIALLY in Michigan.

I'm a 3L.  I attend a top-25 law school.  I'm on pace to graduate magna cum laude.  I'm Editor in Chief of one of the legal Journals.  I'm on the moot court board.    I have four years of pre-law school work experience in a respectable position.  And I'm personable, damnit.  And I can't get an interview, let alone a job.

As a result, this is my current Student ID picture:


January 14th, 2011 at 11:31 AM ^

I spent all last semester combing the Midwest for summer jobs, and wound up finding one with a firm in Indy. If you have an interest in talking strategy, drop me a line at jaloh [at] nlaw [dot] northwestern [dot] edu


January 14th, 2011 at 10:49 AM ^

Find some UMich alums at law firms, ask whether they read the 'blog, and show them your point total.  When they put that together with your other outstanding credentials, they'll hire you on the spot.

I'd personally conclude that you have some seriously high bandwidth/capacity, which is obviously good.