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Don't Go To Law School (Unless): A Law Professor's Inside Guide to Maximizing Opportunity and Minimizing Risk [Kindle Edition]

Paul Campos
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Going to law school has become a very expensive and increasingly risky gamble. When is it still worth it? Law professor Paul Campos answers that question in this book, which gives prospective law students, their families, and current law students the tools they need to make a smart decision about applying to, enrolling in, and remaining in law school. Campos explains how the law school game is won and lost, from the perspective of an insider who has become the most prominent and widely cited critic of the deceptive tactics law schools use to convince the large majority of law students to pay far more for their law degrees than those degrees are worth.
DON’T GO TO LAW SCHOOL (UNLESS) reveals which law schools are still worth attending, at what price, and what sorts of legal careers it makes sense to pursue today. It outlines the various economic and psychological traps law students and new lawyers fall into, and how to avoid them. This book is a must-read if you or someone you care about is considering law school, or wondering whether to stay enrolled in one now.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Paul Campos is a Professor of Law at the University of Colorado. His previous books include The Obesity Myth, Jurismania, and Against the Law (with Pierre Schlag and Steve Smith). Campos publishes widely in the national media, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the New Republic, and many other publications. He writes a weekly column for

Product Details

  • File Size: 267 KB
  • Print Length: 118 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009D13IA6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,502 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most important legal education book of the past year? September 27, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Professor Campos has delivered the most important book about legal education in the past twelve months, and probably the upcoming twelve months too. Legal education has become something of a fairytale over the past decade: promises of happy endings and frogs becoming princesses, golden geese and wealth beyond belief, none of which is true in reality. Most law grads don't end up as successful lawyers, nor do dummies who scraped through undergrad and managed a 140 on the LSAT end up magically turning into legal masterminds. The legal education forest floor is littered with law school preparation books, many recent titles of which are written by law professors, claiming to offer a harmless and helpful trail of candy to guide the law school applicant through the thickets of law school. Except these guides are not offering a harmless candy trail, but the sinister fairytale device used to lead youth into peril, into traps from which they cannot escape. And like real life candy, they are delicious and enjoyable until you get to the dentist or step on the scales after three years, only to realize the irreparable damage that you've just done to yourself. Or until you find yourself in a nightmarish witch's cage of student loan debt, fattened for the oven, unable to find your path home.

A dose of reality was needed. A wake-up call. And Campos' book, "Don't Go To Law School (Unless)" has provided that antibiotic. Continuing the fairytale theme, Campos has ventured into the forest with a bright torch, illuminating the better paths to follow, the ones that will minimize the likelihood of falling into the most common traps, the ones that aren't lined with deceptive candy. The ones that other professor-authors are deliberately hiding, for their livelihoods depend on it.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm a professor who writes a lot of undergraduate rec letters for law school. I also have a law degree that I got at a relatively cheap price and I'm not and have never actually been a practicing lawyer. I have been telling my students for some time that law school is not the easy and obvious option it may have once been, but I didn't realize it had gotten quite this bad. Now I will not write another rec letter for a student without asking her to first read this book and then come talk to me about it and convince me that I am not assisting some terrible decision. I have so many students casting about for something to do after graduation that will impress their parents or who have some vague sense that there are a wide range of fabulous jobs out there that require a law degree, and this book is a must-read for them and for anyone who advises them. It is relatively short, very well written, and just devastating.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Need to know information October 10, 2012
By Nate
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was already a law student by the time I had a chance to read this book. Nonetheless, I still benefitted from it, and I would think the prospective law student would enjoy exponentially greater returns.

If you are considering law school you must also add his (and his co-author Professor Merritt) blog ( to your feed list to stay current. The comments there are frequently as invaluable as the main postings.

Prior to the publishing of this book, my greatest "criticism" of Professor Campos' work was how difficult it was to determine from his blog who, exactly, should go to law school, if indeed he thought anyone should. (To be fair, he has several posts devoted to this question; it just took a substantial amount of time in the archives to find them.) Fortunately, this book has several chapters devoted to precisely this question. Rather than name names on schools to attend, he sets up categories (National Elite, Sub-Elite, Top Tier Regional) and offers his opinion on the maximum in tuition it would be reasonable to pay at each.

These conclusions come at the end of the book, however, and in the preceding chapters he lays out the wide array of reasons you would be wise to follow his advice. Some highlights:

- Only go to law school if you want to be a lawyer doing legal work. Really. No other desired employment is fair compensation for the stress, increased risk of substance abuse, and debt you will take on over the course of law school. Read that again. I am serious.

- Average debt figures quoted by schools are a mirage. One, they don't include interest accrued during the life of the loans while you were in law school.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading! February 10, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Absolutely nobody should apply to, much less enter, law school without first reading this book. And every first year law student should read it, in order to decide whether to continue after 1L, or cut her losses and avoid the financial disaster that is, tragically, the fate of too many newly minted J.D.'s these days.

This book pulls together the information that everyone - including people my age whose kids may be considering law school - needs to know about the law school situation. It's appalling but true that law school is now a trap for the unwary. High tuition, low employment rates for graduates, staggering levels of student debt that are not dischargeable in bankruptcy: it's a recipe for disaster. Campos lays it all out, and even warns about the "Special Snowflake Syndrome," that marvelous victory of optimism over reality which convinces us that whatever the statistics say (or whatever our academic history), we WILL be among the top ten (or two) percent-ers who'll waltz out with that J.D., straight into highly paid professional paradise.

Dream on. Better yet: don't dream. Get real. Read this book. Think about it. Read it again. Ask questions. Do the math. And do it again. Campos doesn't say not to go to law school, but he all but implores the reader to make an informed decision at every stage. Including the time when those first year grades are posted, when there's still time to get out alive.

From now on (I'm a recently retired lawyer) I will tell anyone who so much as mentions to me that they (or their kid or boyfriend or aunt or whoever) is thinking about law school: read this book.

Campos, bless his heart, is unshackled by orthodoxy. He writes with composure, passion, practicality, and humor.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading if you're considering law school
I have been admitted to law schools and this book is helping me re-think my top choices and what I should be willing to pay in tuition.
Published 1 month ago by eagleseller09
5.0 out of 5 stars seriously, don't apply until you read this
Stop fueling third tier toilets! Shut down the legal education system and save yourself hundreds of thousands of dollars by refusing to go to law school unless you have the stats... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Emily Cummins
4.0 out of 5 stars Helps Out with Law School Decision
Alright, the book is a great book to read if you're figuring out if you want to go to law school or not. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Simon Ilyaev
5.0 out of 5 stars Def. worth reading
He keeps such a hostile tone the whole time I started to wonder if the book isn't a bit too slanted, but at any rate it's great to take in with all the rest. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Kevin Kirby
3.0 out of 5 stars Its Okay
Read it so you know the opposing sides argument but take most of it with a grain of salt. Law School isn't for everyone and if you go in with false expectations you will be... Read more
Published 2 months ago by jrob63
4.0 out of 5 stars Should have come out five to ten years ago
Paul Campos broke the ice and gave some serious credibility to, for lack of a better way to phrase it, the anti-law school movement. It indeed is as bad as he says, and then some. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Herb Hunter
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible book written by a jaded professor who has given up on his...
In the introduction to this book, Paul Campos says that his "ridiculously good job" as a professor is paid for by law students who are increasingly unable to get the jobs... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jason Bourne
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book
1. Read the book
2. Read the book
3. Do not take private student loans to finance a law degree. Take govt loans and do IBR or PSLF
Published 3 months ago by Heidi Jund
5.0 out of 5 stars Lawyers Should Give this Book to any Student Requesting a Letter of...
The author lays out in definitive terms hidden aspects of the profession, including a glut of lawyers, complicated by older lawyers no longer able to retire, the phenomenal... Read more
Published 3 months ago by RetroReader
4.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opening dose of reality for any prospective law student
Like many aspiring law students, I had the naive big-dreams and "special snowflake" mentality when I began looking at a legal career. Read more
Published 4 months ago by R. Lee
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More About the Author

Paul Campos is a Professor of Law at the University of Colorado. In addition to his numerous academic publications, he is a widely published journalist, who writes a weekly column for His work also appears regularly in Newsweek/The Daily Beast, and in The New Republic. Campos's blog "Lawyers, Guns, and Money," where he co-blogs with five other academics, is one of the top 100 political blogs on the internet, as measured by site traffic. In August of 2011 Campos began another blog, "Inside the Law School Scam," which in the first year of its existence hosted nearly two million visits. In January of 2012 Above the Law named Campos its Lawyer of the Year.

His books include DON'T GO TO LAW SCHOOL (UNLESS), THE OBESITY MYTH, JURISMANIA, and AGAINST THE LAW (with Steven Smith and Pierre Schlag).

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