Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Inflated expectations collide with deflated reality

Diana Smith, Staff Writer//April 8, 2011

Inflated expectations collide with deflated reality

Diana Smith, Staff Writer//April 8, 2011

N.C. Central University law dean Raymond Pierce says you’ll be hard-pressed to find an educator who doesn’t support law school

“I hear very little resistance because deans and faculty are close to students on this issue,” Pierce said. “They want to accommodate them on transparency because those are our clients – our students, our graduates, our alums – and we want them to support the school after they leave.” 

But a lingering question is whether students, alumni and potential students are being realistic in the level of detail they want in data when it comes to employment rates, salary information and other consumer information collected by the American Bar Association.

It’s a tough call to make.

On one hand, law schools and the ABA are under scrutiny for data-reporting methods that can skew information prospective students use in deciding where to apply.

But some speculate that generational differences may create expectations about the profession that don’t mesh with real-world realities.   

“I want to be careful at how I word this, but there is a sense of entitlement I think kids in their 20s and 30s have,” said Michael Wells Jr., a Winston-Salem attorney. “There’s this myth from books and TV that gives people an overblown conception about lawyers, and I think that bleeds into law students thinking it’s a glamorous profession where the money comes really quickly. It doesn’t,” he said.

Wells is the North Carolina representative to the ABA’s Young Lawyers Division, which passed a resolution in February supporting the association’s effort to improve transparency.

He completely agrees that schools need to provide better data.

“It’s a combination of wanting law schools to be authentic about the information they present in a way that’s unvarnished, but then I think law students bear some responsibility for having realistic expectations,” he said.

Jack Boger, dean of the UNC School of Law, agrees. He said that the vast amount of information available online has led some to assume that it’s simple to provide minute breakdowns about salaries and employment.

“The notion that all of that information pops out to us, but is hidden from students, reflects a culture of people who are used to Google and the Internet,” he said. “I understand the instinct.”


– By DIANA SMITH, Staff Writer


Top Legal News

See All Top Legal News


See All Commentary