Monday, April 07, 2008

MoneyLaw in an altogether different sense


This news item went almost entirely unnoticed, but three Big Ten universities' student newspapers were on the story and took proper notice. (Going east to west: Penn State, Illinois, and Minnesota.) According to a survey by Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions of recent MCAT and LSAT takers, premedical and prelaw students differ noticeably in their motivations. Whereas 41 percent of MCAT takers reported that potential earning power affected their career choice "somewhat" or "very much," 71 percent of LSAT takers reported a comparable degree of raw, pecuniary motivation. Premed students reported a wide range of nonpecuniary reasons for entering the medical profession:
  • 49 percent expressed a desire to help others or to make a difference in the world
  • 23 percent reported an interest in or an affinity for the sciences
  • 17 percent expressed some sort of personal experience with health care
  • 11 percent credited a specific role model, real or fictional
Meanwhile, Penn State's Daily Collegian reported on a separate study "indicat[ing] that pre-law students felt that running for political office was their way of servicing the public." Evidently this is the score in the Preprofessional Bowl: Albert Schweitzer 21, Clarence Darrow 3.

In all seriousness, I have used this forum to express my opinion that there is nothing wrong with students studying law in order to advance their material well-being. If anything, law schools do themselves, their students, and their graduates a grave disservice by pretending otherwise. The harsh fact remains that very few law school graduates — and, for that matter, medical school graduates — can afford to work strictly for the satisfaction of serving others and advancing public welfare. Even the most altruistic lawyers and doctors need to pay their own bills.

Filthy though greed may seem to us legal academics, it is a significant motivator for our students. Here is a quartet of videos that will help us accept that coarse but undeniable reality:

Pink Floyd, Money
Client, In It for the Money
Liza Minnelli & Joel Gray, Money
Michael Douglas, Greed Is Good


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