: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at

Go Away Young Man, Proximity to Local Law School Associated with Lower Incomes for Small Firm Lawyers

The Empirical Legal Studies Blog has a fascinating post on Regional Law Schools and Lawyer Income. Bill Henderson takes a look at average attorney earnings in legal markets in and around Indiana and comes to a somewhat surprising conclusion – “After controlling for all of the above factors, proximity to a local law school is associated with lower incomes for small firm lawyers.”

For example, in my sample of approximately 1,200 Indiana lawyers in private practices, lawyers working full-time in 1 to 5 lawyer firms in large metropolitan areas [see map below, click to enlarge] made an average of $112,712 (n=318), versus $117,284 in mid-sized markets (75,000 to 200,000 residents) (n=104) and $117,741 in small and rural locales (n = 84).

First he makes a standard distinction between lawyers who serve organizational clients such as corporations and lawyers that provide personal services to individuals and small businesses, reflecting two distinct groups with the smaller firms in the segment more likely to be ‘personal services’ firms.

So why are personal service lawyers making less money in larger markets? My working hypothesis is that graduates of urban law schools tend to stay in the area (indeed, many lived in the metro area before law school), thus oversupplying the region with personal service lawyers, heightening competition, and decreasing income. If this is true, it has important implications for so-called “local” law schools.

It is important to note, as Henderson does, that his study only applies to Indiana and doesn’t account for regional differences in economy, etc, but once the point is made it seems to make sense. I suspect that most prospective students don’t analyze the return on investment they make when they embark on their law school careers. Henderson conclusion focuses on primarily on how his findings might affect law school choice, he is a law professor after all –

Greater Chicago has eight law schools, including Valparaiso in the northwest corner of Indiana. In my opinion, before going $100K into debt, it is important for a prospective student to understand (ideally, quantify) the expected return on investment for each school if he or she hopes to practice law in the Chicago metropolitan area. The results of a larger study may persuade some students to pursue opportunities in other markets (or perhaps rural counties) or forgo law school altogether. As tuition continues to climb ahead of inflation, law schools–and the ABA–need to start thinking along these lines.

– I wonder, however, if these results aren’t more pertinent to recent law school graduates attempting to plot the early part of their careers? Debra Bruce, a lawyer coach here in Houston who also writes the Law Practice Management Newsletter of the State Bar of Texas and has experience at both the Big Law and small firm ends of the spectrum, encouraged me to think long and hard about practice area when I graduate. One of her suggestions was to think geographically and look for under-served populations. Sage advice that’s looking increasingly relevant at a time when urban legal markets are oversaturated while others are desperate to attract. It’s not a particularly easy thing to do in some respects. As our associate dean is fond of saying when he encounters students worrying about what effect not being able to take Sports Law might have on their legal careers, ‘chances are we’ll take the first job we get offered anyway.’

Anonymous Lawyer: A Novel


Recovering law student Jeremy Blachman started writing Anonymous Lawyer Blog while he was a student at Harvard Law School. Amid speculation of who of the BigLaw partners had the time to put their malign misanthropy in digital form, Blachman was revealed as the author of the blog in NY Times article. A book deal was quick to follow (and now a tv series?!?!?!) and Anonymous Lawyer: A Novel is the result.

For a preview, Lat’s Observer review is the best of the bunch: Way Better Than Briefs: Legal Minds Turn to Blogs

I’m also planning on writing a book based on my blog. It’s tentatively titled “Please give me a job. No really. I’ll do anything.”

NPR: David Ginsburg, 95, Looks Back on 70 Years as a Lawyer in Washington


David Ginsburg, 95, retired Friday after seven decades of service in Washington. Ginsburg arrived in the capital in 1935, an idealistic young lawyer passionate about the possibilities of government.

He worked on Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, clerked for Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and, later, was executive director of the Kerner Commission on race riots.

NPR: A Lawyer Looks Back on 70 Years in Washington

Alternative Legal Careers: Devil’s Advocate

Well, ok, not any more. That position has been ‘downsized’, but it really was a job. According to Wikipedia:

Formerly, during the canonization process of the Roman Catholic Church, the Promoter of the Faith (Latin Promotor Fidei), or Devil’s Advocate (Latin advocatus diaboli), was a canon lawyer appointed by the Church to argue against the canonization of the candidate. It was his job to take a skeptical view of the candidate’s character, to look for holes in the evidence, and to argue that any miracles attributed to the candidate were fraudulent, etc. The Devil’s advocate was opposed by God’s advocate, whose job was to make the argument in favor of canonization. The office was established in 1587 during the reign of Pope Sixtus V and was abolished by Pope John Paul II in 1983.

A BBC radio story on the canonization process of Pope John Paul II turned me on to the subject this morning. If the abolishion of the position has dashed your current professional aspirations, fret not, you may still yet find yourself in a canonical practice.

Alternative Legal Careers: Agent’s Assistant

Are you a procrastinating 3L with no discernible career prospects? Staring down the barrel of a career in BigLaw? As you’ve no doubt heard ad nauseum, a JD can give you entree into many other exciting careers, even perhaps as amazing as Assistant to Agent – Gaming.

The Beverly Hills office currently has an opening for a highly motivated, technology savvy, research oriented assistant to a creative and very busy agent who specializes in video games.

But of course, don’t expect that J.D. to set you apart from the other applications, because either that or an MBA is required

The ideal candidate should live in the greater Los Angeles area and must possess the following: a four-year degree from an accredited university and either a JD or an MBA, excellent interpersonal skills, and proven ability to multi-task and meet deadlines.

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