Before Law School, How “Sophisticated” Were You?

Another suit against a law school for misrepresenting employment data was tossed last week. The ruling echoes what is becoming a common theme:

1) Prospective law students are sophisticated consumers of graduate education.
2) These sophisticated consumers are obligated to do their own research and not rely upon the law school’s claims about employment.

Which got me to thinking. Back in 2002, when I was taking the LSAT and applying to exactly one law school (which I attended), how sophisticated a consumer of graduate education was I?

Who was that guy?

I was not a typical prospective law student. I was not 22 or 23, but in my 30s. I had supported myself for over a decade. I had owned a home for 5 years. I had one child and another was soon to come. In addition to a B.A., I had almost completed a master’s degree. And my dad taught me early on to be suspicious of advertising and marketing. Compared to the “average” prospective law student in 2002, I should have been a particularly sophisticated consumer.

But I remember very well in 2002 looking at the employment stats presented by what would become my law alma mater, and thinking, well, this is not a prestigious law school, but their graduates get jobs . . . and in my mind, I filled in that crucial space after the word “jobs” with, “as lawyers.” Because, why else would one go to law school? Or open a law school?

Five years later, licensed in two states, with my my judicial clerkship term nearing its end, the economy tanked, and not long after, the scam bloggers began their furious typing.

“So long, suckers”

When I looked at those employment numbers, why did I interpret them the way I did?

The best I can come up with is to credit the legal profession for presenting itself in such a way as to make even a jaded guy like the 2002 version of me think that a law school would never have the nerve (or the need) to intentionally mislead potential students about their employment prospects. My failure to distrust everyone and everything was, of course, entirely my own.

Now I understand much, much better (and, ironically, my formal legal education helps with this) that those who control law schools can enrich themselves, knowing that their behavior will financially ruin a good percentage of their students while deluding themselves into believing that they are teachers of ethics.

(photo: Three-card Monte from Shutterstock)


  1. Sam Glover Sam G. says:

    Not at all. I went to law school because I was certain it would enable me to get a Dodge Viper, and it seemed more interesting (and a better guarantee that I would wind up with that car) than business school.

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