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May 08, 2009


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Steve Sedberry

Certainly, many legal employers presently resemble “deer in the headlights” in terms of their apparent future hiring needs. However, you should remember that the current economic climate is largely a function of three things: (1) the financial institution crisis;(2) the automotive industry crisis; and (3) the housing market crisis

Crisis #1 is simply a correction of the greed and excess of the prior 15 or so years. Crisis #2 is in reality, a result of numerous years of poor management. For an analysis of Crisis #3, see Crisis #1. And although these crises’ tenacles reach deep within the general economy, you should remember that there are numerous sectors within the generally economy whose fundamentals remain essentially unchanged.

My point is that although legal employers are presently frozen in the headlights of an apparently uncertain economy, eventually they will likely shake it off and resume hiring, although most likely at levels nowhere near the, yes, irrational exuberance of the past 10 or so years or the legal market.

This means that first-year lawyers may need to recalibrate their expectations of earning $175,000. But it does not mean that they should abandon all hope of finding a job.

Instead, newly-minted lawyers may simply have to be more creative in their search efforts, and perhaps consider employment opportunities they previously viewed as beneath their education and experience.

Specifically, there are still numerous public interest job opportunities out there. Further, to the student with debt, many schools offer loan forgiveness to students who take these jobs.
Additionally, there are still small to mid-sized firms that need new lawyers. Again, you should be prepared to lower your compensation expectations, but there are still jobs available in many areas.

Finally, now is the time to use every networking connection you have developed. Numerous social networking websites such as Linked In and Facebook afford you the opportunity to market yourself. But remember, the Internet is eternal. Do not say or do things that could come back to haunt you later.

If you are interested in additional discussion on legal careers and job searching, you might want to read “Law School Labyrinth”, available at most booksellers, including Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble and others. Also, the website is


JFK may not be afraid, but its prospective students should be. It's good that students at JFK have no expectation of "being pampered," because "being pampered" apparently includes being prepared to pass the bar or ever becoming a lawyer.

The odds of enrolling in JFK and ever becoming a lawyer, much less a paid one, are incredibly slim. During the last bar exam, JFK had 24 first time takers, and only 7 passed. Of 40 repeat takers, only three passed. Extrapolating from that data, if an entering class has been between 50 and 60 in the past, a student enrolling at JFK has roughly a 15-20% chance of ever passing the bar. Prior year data is often worse (but practically never better). In July 2007, a grand total of three people passed the bar. Three. Out of 44 takers.

Those are some crazy odds on which to plunk down over $20K, particularly since being one of the lucky few to make it through to the other side is unlikely to produce any meaningful salary increase from a job anyone who can pass the bar is probably otherwise eligible for. My guess is that they are not selling its prospective students dreams of being glorified paralegals at small firms.

The article distinguishes JFK from "more mainstream" law schools - and by more mainstream I assume you meant "ABA accredited."

JFK, like many other non-ABA accredited schools, should be ashamed of the scam they are pulling on their students. And Cal Law should be ashamed of the lack of critical inquiry it has applied to the claims. Where, indeed, will all of these people work in three years? Only one or two of them are likely to ever be qualified as lawyers... presumably the rest will be doing something else and paying off the loans incurred in their misadventure.

Chris Gus Kanios, Associate Dean and Professor of Law, JFKU School of Law

JFKU School of Law has over 800 alumni who have passed the California Bar Exam. The chances of a JFKU School of Law graduate becoming an attorney are not “incredibly slim” as reported by “Anon”. Yes, there have been some exams on which JFKU graduates did poorly. But State Bar records reveal the following information:

1) from 2005 to 2008, JFKU law students posted a 36% first-time bar pass rate;

2) over 65% of our graduates pass the Bar Exam on the first or subsequent efforts;

3) 85% of JFKU law graduates with a grade point average of 80 or above (3.00) pass the exam on their very first effort (statistics from the past five years);

In other words, if you do well at JFKU School of Law, you will do very well on the California Bar Exam.

We are concerned about any of our graduates who have had a difficult time passing the Bar Exam. It is one reason we have become more attentive to admissions and academic policies in recent years. But to suggest that students at JFKU don’t have a reasonable opportunity to pass the California Bar Exam distorts our record and ignores the achievement of so many of our alumni.


According to the statistics on the California Bar Association website, JFK has a first-time California pass rate of 31.5% from 2005-2008 (41 out of 130). I suppose there may be statistics for other states that we can't see in your number, but as far as California goes, that's that. Further, over the same period there is a 7.4% pass rate for repeat takers (30 out of 403).

Extrapolating from those numbers, I have a hard time understanding how you get a number of over 65% eventually passing the bar - at least in California. To get a 65% pass rate in California, that would mean repeat takers were taking the bar on average more than 10 times each. Presuming you are basing your 65% on something other than imaginary numbers, my guess is that a lot of JFK repeat takers are headed off to some other jurisdiction to try and pass the bar. I further guess that being admitted in Oklahoma or Guam was not in line with their expectations when they enrolled.

You failed to address that many of your students would not even make it to the bar. JFK had 130 first-time takers from 05-08. If we use 55 entering students as a proxy for your "50 to 60" statement, that means only 130 out of 220 students even made it to the bar. Thus, an entering student, after plopping down $22,500, has a 59% chance of making it to the bar in the first place. And after the 31.5% chance of passing and the 7.4% chance of passing on subsequent attempts, I'd say that, yes, those are pretty slim chances of ever passing the California bar, and would wager that less than 1 in 5 entering students ever make it.

Suggesting JFK students don't have a reasonable opportunity to pass the bar does not ignore the achievement of your alumni. Rather, I think it shows how exceptional they are that they beat such odds! But yes, those that do pass are often exemplary attorneys. I have come across some, and have no complaints. But my guess is that some number of them would have been admitted to ABA accredited schools and/or passed the bar without much help. It's great that good students at JFK pass the bar, but the reality is that good students everywhere pass the bar (students in the top quintile at ABA accredited schools typically have a 95-100% first time pass rate).

I also don't have a problem with the idea that some of JFK's students are people that ABA accredited schools would not have admitted, but still deserve a shot at taking the bar. Fair enough. There should be an option for people that understand the odds are against them based on the their UGPA and LSAT, but who still want to take on the challenge and prove the system wrong. And JFK might even be the school to fill that role.

The real problem is that no one tells your students before they sign on the dotted line that statistically they have a roughly 1 in 5 shot of ever being admitted in CA. You sign 'em all up for the loans and the federal money, and then let them figure out on their own that they are probably never going to become a lawyer. That, in my book, is a scam.

(I should note that I also think the ABA schools are engaged in scamming prospective students, particularly on job placement and starting salary numbers, lest you think I am some sort of ABA rep. But, to each their own).

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