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September 30, 2023

The More Money Your Parents Made, the Less Likely You Are to Become an Accountant

We'll file this under "Things You Probably Already Know" but found this bit over at Above the Law and wanted to share with the class:

I think we’ve long known that law is a refuge for people who are afraid of numbers. People who are good at math don’t borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars for a shot at winning the bi-modal salary distribution lottery and a job that they’ll most likely hate. I don’t think we needed a longitudinal survey to show that.

Well, duh, but you also don't have to go to a top school to land a decent job in accounting either. Any idiot can go to Cal State Northridge and get hired at Deloitte (I'm looking directly at you, Roger Philipp). But you'd have to be an idiot to take on six figures of law school debt only to end up both jobless AND broke at the end of your journey. That has nothing to do with being good at math, I'm pretty sure no law student takes on loans thinking that money will magically pay itself back in this job market.

Here's the deal: the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth followed the lives of a sample of American youth born between 1957-64. All that data is super complicated and extensive — as you would expect — but the important part for the purposes of this post is when you compare the household incomes of respondents as kids to their own incomes and professions as adults, you find that doctors tend not to come from higher income families but lawyers do, with accountants hanging out in the "probably not living in a cardboard box but probably not driving an Infiniti either" category.

If you are averse to clicking ATL links, let's check out the ABA number-crunching they shared:

The lawyers and judges in the sample came from households with median incomes of $85,000 to $89,999, in 2010 dollars.

The study also found:

• Doctors, dentists and surgeons came from households with median incomes of $55,000 to $55,999. Also in this childhood income category were nurses, social workers, counselors, clerks, salespersons and administrative assistants.

• Teachers, accountants, computer programmers and administrators, and media workers came from households with median incomes of $60,000 to $64,999.

• Engineers, architects, chief executives, general managers, designers, musicians and artists came from households with median incomes of $65,000 to $69,999.

• Financial analysts and advisers came from households with median incomes of $80,000 to $85,999.

Elie wonders out loud if it's your mom's fault you went to law school and have to live in her basement now:

It just goes to show, though, that maybe the people most responsible for pushing this “law is a safe career investment” aren’t charlatan deans of admissions, but your own parents. They are the ones who have drunk the Kool-Aid. They are the ones who can’t be bothered to do internet research on the new realities of the legal profession. They are the ones who still remember a time when lawyers were highly paid and respected members of the community.

And they are the ones who will be “surprised” when you boomerang back home after not being able to get a lucrative law job.

Which means you all should call your mom right now and thank her for pushing you into a career that you might not love but at least have the opportunity to hate, unlike the many, many, many indebted and unemployed would-be lawyers out there.

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