Harvard Law School: The New Community College
I say that because, if this Harvard Law Review Note is any indication, HLS doesn’t require much from its top students in the way of reasoned, informed adult thinking: just glittering childhood fantasies and a posture of preening condescension. [Note to non-lawyers: Law Review is supposedly the Winner’s Circle of law school.]
There’s a lot to take issue with, so I’m just going to pick this pathetic excuse for scholarship apart at a few key points. First: aren’t you required to do, like, research when you write a Law Review note? From page 20:
Law students may be quick to argue that . . . they face the prospect of enormous debt. But the point about debt is merely another version of the argument for making lots of money. Debt is nothing more than a monthly payment–it can thus be thought of as a portion out of your salary. Suppose you choose a public interest job that pays $4,800 per month. If you debt payments are $500 per month, then your monthly earnings become $4,300. On an annual scale, that debt turns a $57,000 yearly salary into a $51,000 yearly salary.
Clearly, the author has never had a real job. First, debt does not exist only as an index of a person’s ambitions for income, and it is not something that will vanish like a child’s closet boogeyman when the light of “progressive thinking” is shined upon it. Student loan debt is a huge sacrifice that law students make in order to be a part of the legal profession, and for those of us without an allowance from Mummy and Daddy, debt absolutely dictates many of the career decisions we make.
Second, there are other expenses to be considered besides student debt. Since our author is talking about a public interest job, the $4800-per-month salary they’re contemplating ($57,600 yearly) surely must be before taxes. A person earning $57,600 a year is going to pay about 25% of their income in taxes, right off the top (not counting state taxes). That leaves our public interest attorney with $44,928 per year, or $3744 per month.
The (Harvard Law Review!) note author then hypothesizes a monthly student loan debt of $500. In your dreams, bitch. If you attend a private law school–like, say, Harvard–on loans, you’ll owe at least $1100 per month in loan payments. I speak from personal, present experience. So that leaves our hypothetical public interest lawyer with $2,644 per month.
Well, then you have rent, utilities, the inevitable cell phone and/or Blackberry (actual necessities for practicing attorneys), car payment, car insurance, food, and let’s not forget gas/transportation expenses. Not a lot left after all that, and God forbid our public interest attorney has a family to support.
So what have we learned from the prim moral lecture of our little Harvard snotnose? That you don’t have to be very bright to go to Harvard Law School.
Wait, didn’t Michelle Obama go there?