Incoming students likewise hope to ride out the recession while gaining new skills, and re-emerge into a brighter, more welcoming real world. Nationwide, law-school applications are up two percent from last year.

But White offers up some jaded perspective from the trenches: "Over the next two years, it's going to be an absolute mess for people," she says. "It will make them think long and hard about going to law school. It's an insecure feeling — a feeling you're not used to having when you're in school."

Kara Baskin's education prepared her to argue the law of the jungle in the court of public opinion. She can be reached at .

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