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October 01, 2014


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You're not going to get the Glengarry leads with that attitude. JD Advantage jobs require our additional LLM in compliance. Coffee is for closers. ABC - Always Be Closing.

On a serious note, the jd advantage manure got so thick that an enterprising truth seeker started a blog regarding the jd disadvantage. On that blog are postings for jobs that expressly bar JD holders from consideration. There are lots of such jd disadvantaged positions.


Thanks Ray for your honest and accurate assessment of the emperor's outfit. It takes guts to speak the truth.


I've seen many professors and deans talk about 'JD Advantage' jobs. I've never seen any of them offer evidence that a JD has an advantage in getting these jobs, or what their salaries are.

John Thompson

"What we have here is a market opportunity for someone able to come in and offer a different product."

By your own admission, law schools have spent decades not caring how well their graduates are prepared to handle tasks in the job for which law school is intended to train them. I say this merely as an observation of how comparatively little research is produced on what JDs do with their education, and the essentially static curriculum and pedagogy of law schools striving to emulate higher-ranked schools in their regional market.

If most law schools have not seriously examined most of their assumptions regarding the training of future lawyers despite years of criticism, why would they do that for JDs who by choice or necessity find themselves outside of the lawyer box?

Ray Campbell

While I think JD Advantage jobs do not justify going to law school, I do think there are plenty of jobs where a JD provides an advantage in getting hired and a further advantage in moving up in the profession. Compliance is one - I'm not sure, as Deborah Merritt notes in her excellent blog post that I linked to above, whether that works as well when the JD Advantage job is a first job rather than a step in a career progression that starts off with a lawyering job, but I think quite a few Chief Compliance Officers have legal training. I think it also helps with Human Resources. I've known people who either right out of law school or after legal careers moved into HR departments, which tend to involve a lot of law. Mediation would be another field where legal expertise can help but is not required. Fields where lawyers are clients are another example, such as working for legal headhunters or Lexis/Westlaw. As for salaries, therein lies, if not the rub, a rub. While a Chief Compliance Officer is making C level scratch, I think the entry level jobs tend not to pay that well, especially if the candidate is not coming out of a high paying job. Ditto for the rest. JD Advantage jobs might provide a lifeboat of sorts, but just as you wouldn't sign up for a cruise in the hopes of spending two weeks floating around in a small lifeboat when the ship goes down, you wouldn't knowingly sign up for law school hoping to get a JD Advantage job. The most recent After the JD data show that graduates who end up in JD Advantage jobs tend to be be less happy, which makes sense if you assume they went to law school with the dream of being a lawyer.

Ray Campbell

A professor at a school that is planning to offer a masters in law relevant to one of the JD Advantage fields sent me an email. The planned masters would offer deep exposure to the regulatory law relevant to the field. He wanted to know if I thought law schools had an opportunity to participate in disruptive innovation.

I think law schools not only can but should participate in training specifically aimed at JD Advantage fields.

The problem, I think, is that people at law school tend to think that the solution is some version of what they already do - some version of teaching law in standard casebook classes. It's hard for any organization to get away from what it has always done well, and law schools are no exception. That goes double in the current environment when many deans and provosts are thinking about how to squeeze more revenue out of existing assets, rather than how to design a program that meets unmet needs but in doing so will require investment in new assets.

I think the dividing line between the right kind and the wrong kind of programs is this: does the program start from scratch and think through what is needed to meet a problem, or does it start with what it has on hand and think of ways to sell it to new customers? If it's the former, they are innovating. If it's the latter, they are just looking for new customers for old products. Because I think these new careers will need tailor made training, not just a subset of law training, I'm not predicting that the programs that simply sell a subset of the JD program will end up with much traction.


Ray, you've got a lot of 'I think that.....' going on. To be frank, if harsh, law professors in general have been shown to be (at best) ignorant of the legal job market, as proven by law school statistics, which pain a rosy picture not matched by reality.

At this point why should we accept the word of law professors that a JD is an advantage in getting jobs in fields where they know even less than the law?

Second, what do these jobs pay? Even if there was a reasonable advantage in getting these jobs for JD holders vs. BS/BA holders, a $100-250K additional debt swamps that.

Ray Campbell

Barry, it doesn't appear that you read or understood what I wrote, so let me recap. At present, there are jobs where a JD does give you an advantage in getting a job. I don't think that will last, because I think someone (MBA programs? Undergraduate schools?) will start offering tailored programs for those jobs that fit a lot better than law school. In the meantime, I don't think anyone thinking clearly would go to law school to get a JD Advantage job, because law school costs too much for what these jobs pay and doesn't offer training across the full set of skills needed. In the long run, I think the folks who will enter the market providing training tailored for JD Advantage jobs could start offering training for what lawyers actually need, which I think will be threatening for law schools still offering a curriculum based on the one Langdell dreamed up in 1870. And, yes, there are a whole lot of "I thinks" in there because I don't know how to get data sets for events that haven't happened yet. If it makes you feel better, I was right in 1996 when I quit my big firm partnership because I thought the internet was going to be a really big thing and I think (that phrase again) it's kind of the same level of foreseeability here.


Ray, I appreciate your assessment of the situation, and as stated by another poster I think it took some fortitude to say what you said.

Given my handle, however, I was one of those folks "not thinking clearly," apparently, several years ago, when I went to law school. I wish someone then was willing to say what you are saying now in 2014. The Law School Cartel was more than happy to take my money at the time and advertise what wonderous things JD grads go on to do. The recent lawsuits by dissatisfied grads did not develop in a vacuum overnight.

A crtical point, that you make, it that JDs more-or-less do not help outside of legal practice immediately upon graduation, and only are potentially valuable in other fields in the very long-term. Again, I applaud the honesty, but let's not beat up on folks who did what they did in good faith and in reasonable reliance upon the Cartel (whether or not the Courts agree), before these more honest assessments and data were revealed.


Ray, my point is that I've never seen anybody offer evidence that having a JD job gives one a leg up on getting a 'JD Advantage' job. Law schools have been playing fast and loose with their job statistics, and seem to have come up with a category which people would accept as being sorta lawyerly. BTW, I've also never seen (non-scamblogger) professors and deans cover the negatives of going for non-JD jobs with a JD.

I agree strongly with your other two points:
1) Even if a JD did help, and help a lot with getting these jobs, the salaries don't justify it, except for the absolutely lowest cost (probably evening) programs.

2) Law schools can't count on this for an honest advantage, as too many other programs can quickly and easily be tailored to this at far lower cost. I do expect them to continue the 'JD Advantage' - well, BS forever, since it's clear by now that there are no penalties no matter what a school does.

BTW, I also love the 'salvage value' analogy.


Lets face it, 'JD Advantage' is code for 'whoops there's no jobs for students we scammed, lets make up some rubbish how they are 'JD advantaged'.

Its just scam law deans and scam profs trying to cover up the fact law school is only about one thing - scamming liberal arts grads out of their student loan cash.

In fact a JD is a scarlet letter - it actively reduces the number of jobs you can get, as the blog jd disadvantaged proves.

Stop the scam now! Stop unlimited federal backed lending for useless law degrees.


How do you professors live with yourselves? You know your students will never get jobs. Why do you do it?

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