JD Underground: Truth and Consequences
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If you want to get a sense of how it feels to be inside a law school bubble as it bursts, JD Underground is a website you should visit. It’s a mess of contradictions. It’s not just a scamblog; it’s much more than that. It’s a scruffy community of law students and lawyers that are simultaneously nasty and kind, despairing and defiant, fascinating and dull. It’s a unique destination for anyone interested in spending some time hanging around the metaphorical back alleys, park benches, and fleabag apartments frequented by less-fortunate new members of our noble and learned profession.
JD Underground is an un-moderated list of threads where law students and new lawyers rant about, well, anything. Visually, the site itself seems like a throwback to the early bulletin board or chat-room days of the internet. No graphics, no advertising, apparently no credited contributions by the site’s owners/builders. Just a list of threads—that’s it. The utter lack of concern about design, marketing, SEO, etc., makes it seem like somebody just put this thing up online for people to contribute to, then left. And that’s part of the site’s scrappy charm.
”Why Should I Read This Whining?”
This is not strictly a collection of “woe-is-me, I can’t find a job, my law school is evil” stories. There are some of those, of course, but most of the threads wind up with an overall tone of mutual support. Recent topics include:
- Should I go to law school?
- Will LinkedIn help me get a job?
- Should I even apply for this job I saw on Craigslist?
But every so often, you’ll find a “I am so screwed” post that is grounded in dismay and despair rather than anger. These can lead to threads that are entertaining, infuriating, even touching. These are the posts that keep me checking back.
It’s a site that I suspect many “successful,” i.e., employed, people visit, but they don’t talk about that fact. Paul Campos of Inside the Law School Scam spends time at JD Underground, and he wishes more law school professors and deans would, too. He wrote that reading this JD Underground thread, and then this typical law blog post is a useful exercise in compare-and-contrast. He added:
In all seriousness, few things would do legal academia more good than an imperial edict requiring every law professor in the country to spend 15 minutes of his or her precious time every day reading JD Underground. I’m genuinely fascinat[ed] by the question of what effect this would have on peoples’ behavior. Would it be possible for a faculty that was forced to perform this particular exercise to just go on doing the same things they’re doing now, in the same way, in their classrooms, and in faculty meetings, and on their word processors?
If you care about the profession, you should care about what’s going on in the trenches. Follow Campos’ advice and check out JD Underground. The truth can’t set us free if we don’t face up to it.