Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tell or don't sell

 Long time blog contributor Avor writes:


LawProf: I've asked these questions before, but I will ask them again.

1) I've labeled the "transparency issue" as largely a "red herring" in the past, and you concluded your post today, "...to a lesser extent, poor information regarding the actual relationship between the costs and benefits of acquiring a law degree."

While we both are only predicting, I think you are quite wrong in your follow-up to the above sentence that you think increasing the information (i.e. more transparency) "will lead to a massive disruption in the current economic structure of legal education in America."

Once the information is out there, there will still be more than enough applicants to fill all of the law school seats in existence, AND while the price continues to increase (although maybe not as fast as it has).

THEN what will you argue needs changing? I'd guess you'd go to the easy access to loans and the fact that they are non-dischargeable. If that is so, and you admit in your post that THAT is the more significant issue, then why do you not spend your time and effort lobbying for change on that front?

Again...transparency is a diversion that will not change anything.

Also, as the school year marches on, I ask you this again: How many students have you counseled to drop out so far? I figure the answer is zero, but do you expect to counsel any of your students to drop out after they receive their grades, if they have done poorly?

I'm not saying that you give unsolicited advice, but I'm assuming that if there are students "on the fence" that they may come to you for "honest advice." Will you give it? If so, why haven't you given it in the past, as you've claimed that you "saw the light" some time ago.

Typing along on the internet is one thing, actually doing something in the real world is another. I expect to see higher drop-out numbers on the ABA report for your law school when it comes out...even if it's only a couple. If not, this is all a lot of hot air.
 I assume Avor is a law professor. I think his (?) questions are good ones so I'm going to answer them in a separate post.

First, as he says, "we are only predicting."  Because of its traditional obsession with appellate court opinions, legal academia encourages the bad habit of treating data-and-method-free speculation as a form of useful social analysis, so it bears emphasizing that we simply don't know what effect really good employment and salary data would have on prospective law school applicants.  Avor doesn't speculate, if I understand him, that greater transparency would have no effect, but rather that it would have little practical economic effect, because even with good data every American law school now in existence would still be able to fill every seat, although he concedes that transparency might produce a slowdown in the rate at which tuition is increasing.

It's implicit in this argument, however, that those seats could well be filled by a significantly different mix of people than they would otherwise be.  The argument, I think, is that while transparency would deter some potential law students, their places would be filled by enough willing replacements as to make little or no difference, at least from the short-term financial perspective of law schools. Now, who would those others be? It seems likely they will have two characteristics: they will have weaker formal qualifications, on average, than the students being admitted now, and they will be more risk-seeking.  Both of these characteristics have practical and moral relevance, and so, even if we admit for the purposes of argument that greater transparency would have no immediate effect on the financial structure of legal education, it would still likely have other, non-trivial effects.

Following this line of speculation, what if really good transparency results in no change in the immediate bottom line for law schools, but does produce a mix of graduates who are less equipped to compete for jobs (this assumes entrance qualifications have some relevance to the ability to succeed as an attorney) and are more reckless in their willingness to gamble with their futures? Surely that outcome would have implications for how law schools ought to operate.  For one thing it would raise questions about paternalistic responsibility even more sharply than the current system raises them: Suppose it turns out that the "only" effect good transparency has is that it leaves law graduates even worse off than they are now. Doesn't this have implications for what we do?

Indeed, from the all too relevant perspective of being potential defendants in law suits, if Avor's speculation is correct then greater transparency is something law schools ought to be pursuing, since it would produce an almost cost-free (to law schools) reduction in potential liability. His theory of the case, essentially, is that even though schools have engaged in materially misleading behavior, that behavior was unnecessary, since if schools hadn't been materially misleading they would have ended up extracting the same amount of money from law students, although it would have been a different group of students (more reckless, less qualified ones).  If this is right, then the prudent course for unscrupulous institutions is clear: disclose, disclose, disclose, and then rip people off who are especially prone to "cognitive errors in regard to self-assessment" as the psychologists and behavioral economists say (but now with full legal impunity).

But beyond all this, I'm of the old-fashioned opinion that it's wrong to lie in the pursuit of your perceived self-interest, even if doing so didn't actually advance your interests after all.  Let's take Avor's view in its most extreme form, and assume that when he says "transparency is a diversion that will not change anything" he means this quite literally. Even if that were the case, it would still change something important if we stopped engaging in materially misleading behavior: that behavior, which is morally indefensible even if it turns out to have made no practical difference. Lying out of what turns out to be a mistaken calculation of one's self-interest is just as wrong as doing so out of a correct calculation of self-interest. (At this point I should emphasize that the extent to which law schools have engaged in material misrepresentation appears to have varied quite a bit. Some schools have made efforts to do better than the industry standard. That said, the biggest problem in all this is structural: the industry standard for disclosure has produced very significant material misrepresentation, and continues to do so).

Indeed, this latter point is why my initial focus in this project has been on transparency.  Whether or not transparency will make any short-term practical difference to the economic structure of legal education (and it's worth repeating that we simply don't know the extent to which it will), we are morally obligated to, at the very minimum, not engage in material misrepresentation to our prospective students. This is a point on which there seems to be unanimous agreement among legal academics, so it was a natural place to begin, especially given that the material misrepresentation is very much still ongoing.

Which brings me to Avor's other question, about counseling present and prospective students.  I have in fact had to deal with this question on a practical level, as this year two students have sought me out to get my view regarding whether they ought to stay in law school.  In each case, I gave them my candid advice, based on what they told me regarding their present position, while of course emphasizing the limitations of my perspective, which are considerable, and my knowledge of them, which was also quite limited.  One dropped out and one didn't.  (I've also given my views to a number of prospective students who've solicited them).

This brings me to the title of this post, which I'm told is a catch phrase from securities law, i.e., an insider can't legally trade on what was inside information without first disclosing the information in the legally required way. I believe that, if you're a legal academic, the current circumstances require you to educate yourself about the actual situation of (especially) recent graduates of your law school, to the extent that you don't know the answer to such questions as "how many of our recent graduates have real law jobs, and what do they pay?"  This information is known (more or less) to you career services office.  If you're a typical law professor you don't have it. But you need it, especially if students are going to ask you whether they should stay in school.

(More ambitious faculty can go on to explore other important questions such as,"how many of our recent graduates that have non-law jobs had value added by their legal education, and how much value was added?" Example: Graduate gets a job with a Big Four accounting firm that doesn't require a law degree. Could the graduate have gotten this job without the degree? How much does the job pay? If the degree helped the graduate get the job how much would the job the graduate would have gotten without the degree have paid?).

In other words, you as an individual legal academic can actually do something right now, which is to find out a lot more than you know at present (I'm generalizing on the basis of my own experience of course: 18 months ago I had no idea what the answers to these questions were in regard to graduates of my own institution) about the actual life situation of your graduates.  If you do this, then you will be in a position to disclose what should be disclosed to people who ask you to disclose it.  And I suspect that, in the near future, both individual legal academics and law schools as institutions are going to be asked -- or compelled -- to do a lot more disclosing.  Getting a head start on that process is a good idea.

181 comments:

  1. "But beyond all this, I'm of the old-fashioned opinion that it's wrong to lie in the pursuit of your perceived self-interest, even if doing so didn't actually advance your interests after all."

    Exactly - even assuming that transparency doesn't affect the bottom line - it's immoral to mislead people.

    Of course transparency does matter. For example, the class action plaintiff said that he would settle the lawsuits if Cooley/NYLS published honest job placement numbers, but Cooley/NYLS refused, choosing to hire very expensive biglaw firms to fight the lawsuits. In addition, earlier this year the law schools co-opted the ABA committee in charge of determining how to disclose the data, and changed the rules to stop distinguishing between full and part time jobs, and to stop distinguishing between legal and non-legal jobs.

    Law schools wouldn't fight transparency so hard if it did not matter. It matters tremendously because law schools target precisely those students who do not want to take risk. Law schools target students who want a stable income in return for consistent work. The risk takers go to business school or one of hundreds of other majors.

    The promise of jobs is law school's ONLY selling point, because it's the only positive thing that you can possibly get from law school. Without jobs, who would be willing to expose themselves to the abuse, the 40% rate of depression in 3Ls (compared to 8% in 0Ls), the opportunity cost, the time, the weight gain (how many of your peers blew up in law school?) and so on? No one.

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  2. I don't believe transparency is the beginning and end of this issue, but it speaks to something objectively rotten about how law schools sell themselves to prospective students. A more honest strategy would be for law schools to exit it the job placement forecasting business entirely, or at least take it out of the rankings formulation (as a print publication, US News has zero incentive to do away entirely with its most salient feature, but if there were even the wherewithall within the academy to tackle these issues honestly, there would be an effort in place to develop a less manifestly parasitic relationship between law schools and the rankings).

    I do think that transparency is only part of the puzzle. Either there needs to be i) serious curricular reform (which, pace Professor Campos, is as relevant to this discussion as transperancy) such that the law school pedagogical experience doesn't seem like quite so much of a shell game ii) significantly higher barriers to entry for law school (essentially, no one below a 165 can be considered; this would be coupled with a significant curtailing of law school admissions across the board, and maybe a system of stress tests to determine which law schools must close) or iii) a completely dischargeable loan structure that lowers the cost of exiting law schools and allows the herd to thin itself out without causing too much individual damage.

    This conversation about transparency is indeed useful, and it speaks to a practice in the legal academy that is indeed dishonest, and barely ethical. But as an actual structural reform, I suspect it will do little to alter the universe of practices and norms that makes law school a losing proposition for so many people who pursue it.

    However, Avor is being disingenuous if he honestly believes that one professor (who, I'm assuming, only has access to a portion of his 1L class) will have a meaningful effect on his school's drop-out rates given all the structural factors that argue against dropping out.

    Say you're staring at the possibility of two semesters worth of non-dischargeable law loans, which prospect would you find more compelling: i) that you "batten down" in the hopes that things improve for you grade-wise, or ii) the advice of one professor whose interactions with you probably represent a fairly minor portion of your law school experience. It's hard to put too much stock in a "voice in the wildnerness" when you yourself are stuck so deep in the brush. Remember also that 1L moves relatively quickly; rare is the unsuccessful 1L with the presence of mind to take the long view without it feeling like a paniced reaction.

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  3. If the information is actually clear and transparent, on what basis will the lawsuit be filed?

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  4. @7:58

    That's kind of a conclusory assessment to make, no?

    What makes information (particularly in the transactional context) "actually clear and transparent". And given that we are talking about a not insignificant feature of a supposedly self-regulating profession, wouldn't we be holding ourselves to a different standard that, say, the makers of Rogaine?

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  5. 8:02 are you a law professor?

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  6. @ vbp, I don't know what you are talking about. What I was referring to was the call for transparency supported on this blog. If the transparency sought is actually achieved in this context (I don't know how Rogaine comes in here), then what would the lawsuits LawProf refers to in this blog post be about? If you think transparency is possible--and I do think that-- if it is exists, what will people sue about on the transparency front?

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  7. 8:02, Read this quote from the plaintiff's lawyer to answer both of your questions:

    ANZISKA: In our Cooley lawsuit, we asked for injunctive relief, because all law schools must have their employment data audited. There can be no more self-reporting of unaudited employment data released to the public. Over my dead body, this has to happen, because the incentive to cheat is too great. All law schools must be forced to have their employment data independently verified. I will not sign off on an agreement that does not have that in it. Period. It will not happen.

    http://abovethelaw.com/2011/10/fifteen-more-law-schools-to-be-hit-with-class-action-lawsuits-over-post-grad-employment-rates/

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  8. "What makes information (particularly in the transactional context) "actually clear and transparent"."

    I agree, and for that matter what makes an investment prospectus "clear and transparent?" Define an "investment return."

    -Signed, Bernie Madoff

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  9. 7:58: The point is, if Avor turns out to be right that transparency by itself will make little or no practical difference to the financial structure of legal education, then law schools could avoid *future* liability for misrepresentation by starting to engage in genuine disclosure (or by refusing to disclose at all I suppose).

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  10. Well, let's start by unpacking this: how do you define "actually clear and transparent"?

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  11. Let me tweak that question a bit: How do you define "actually transparent"?

    Unless, of course, you're bold enough to argue that law school admissions figures are "actually clear" . . .

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  12. replace "admissions" with "job placement"

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  13. What is going on here? The whole point of this discussion has been to say that transparency is important-- and it is. AVOR argues that transparency probably won't make much different.LawProf says, yes it will.

    "For one thing it would raise questions about paternalistic responsibility even more sharply than the current system raises them: Suppose it turns out that the "only" effect good transparency has is that it leaves law graduates even worse off than they are now. Doesn't this have implications for what we do?

    Indeed, from the all too relevant perspective of being potential defendants in law suits, if Avor's speculation is correct then greater transparency is something law schools ought to be pursuing, since it would produce an almost cost-free (to law schools) reduction in potential liability."

    LawProf assumes, and I agree, that there can be a level of "good" transparency. All I asked was, if that is achieved, what will be the basis for lawsuits?

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  14. That's a disingenous question that speaks more about the character of legal academia than it does the substance of your question, but I'll play along nonetheless. Here is how you provide "clear and transparent" data:

    1. Stop calculating median and average salaries based on unrepresentative samples. If only 17% of students gave you salary information, then don't present a table proclaiming their salary to be the salary of the entire student population. That's an appropriate conclusion if this was a random sample of students, but not if it was a biased sample. The proper way you present that is as, "17% made this, but we don't know what the other 83% made." Presenting a biased sample as a random sample is a brazen form of statistical fraud.

    2. Stop counting part-time jobs the same way that you cound full-time jobs. Stop counting non-legal jobs in the way that you count legal jobs. Distinguish these categories. Why did a bunch of law ranked law school deans and professors take over the ABA career placement statistics committee earlier this year to do the opposite of the above recommendation?

    A very simple example of "clear and transparent" data would be a list of every graduate - anonymized i.e. represented by numbers - with their place of work, position, and salary range.

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  15. Law School Transparency designed a method that answers 8:23's question years ago.

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  16. Law Prof-- Is transparency achievable? I think it is.

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  17. 8:33: Imagine a scale that runs from 10 to -10. In this scale, 10 represents optimal transparency and -10 represents maximally damaging misrepresentation. Zero represents neither transparency nor misrepresentation but rather lack of information. One way of thinking about the present situation is whether the information law schools publish about employment and salary outcomes results in a negative outcome on this scale, and if so how negative. I believe that in the case of the typical law school the answer is yes, and fairly negative, i.e., it would be better not to publish any information at all rather than the misleading information that's actually published. A transparency regime obviously doesn't have to be perfect to get well onto the positive side of this scale. The LST proposal would certainly achieve that.

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  18. I agree that saying nothing is also a solution. If you respond to all questions about historical and prospective job placement with "no comment" then by black letter law you haven't committed fraud.

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  19. Here's a possible answer to my question. LawProf is saying that once transparency is achieved, there will be no basis for lawsuits, and I misunderstood him in saying that the potential would continue. My bad.

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  20. @8:28am,

    I'm actually the furthest thing from a legal academic, and completely agree with everything you've written in your explanation.

    Your question, as initially posed, seemed to the suggest that the status quo of job placement figures would meet some commercially acceptable threshold of "actually clear and transparent." One would straing to argue that it is.

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  21. @LawProf- thanks for the answer. I was unclear what you were driving at with the discussion of the effects of transparency. If the LST regime is adopted, there will be no basis for lawsuits on reported information. I took you to be suggesting something else. Again, my bad.

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  22. I agree transparently does matter and that law schools should be open and honest about what their graduates make in the first couple of years outside of law school. For all the high minded talk about intellectual pursuits, the vast majority of people are entering law school for economic reasons. That’s just the way the world works right now.

    That all being said, I would like to raise one point about the “value” of a law degree (or any degree for that matter); sometimes the value of such a degree does not manifest itself until later in one’s career and this can complicate the numbers reported by law schools. For example, I have an MBA in addition to my law degree. Was the MBA a requirement for my current position as an associate? No. Did it set me apart from other potential applicants for the position? Perhaps. But given the fact that I don’t see myself working at a law firm for the rest of my career (in fact, I’m unlikely to stay another year), and I would like to transition into more of a business development position, my MBA will probably be a great asset. My father, an engineer who took law school classes at night, graduated but never took the bar, used his legal education later in his career as a top manager when he had to deal with complex litigation from time to time.

    I don’t want to make it seem like I am arguing that law schools should be let off the hook in terms of reporting salary of recent graduates. If a person graduates from law school and can’t secure a position that pays enough to service his/her debt payments that is a problem. I’m just pointing out that sometimes the benefits of a particular education do not manifest itself until later.

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  23. "My father, an engineer who took law school classes at night, graduated but never took the bar, used his legal education later in his career as a top manager when he had to deal with complex litigation from time to time."

    Since he wasn't licensed he was obviously not doing any of the legal work. He hired a lawyer to do all that. I imagine all the law degree did was make him a particularly annoying and inquisitive client.

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  24. How many law students do you think actually go to law school based on the schools published data? How many go because of a bad economy so they can be off the market for 3 years at the expense of a lifetime of debt and a sliver of hope that they will be employed at the end of it?

    Are you truly this naive? What is your objective, to make sure that students avoid a lifetime of enormous debt or to force transparency on schools which may or may not have the effect you think it will, which may or may not be fudged for years to come and where, in a lot of cases, the numbers are available through other sources? And why is tuition where it is now? Why not attack that problem directly?

    The fact that you focus on the latter says a lot about you.

    It is clear that these issues need to be attacked by economists and lawyers who deal with real life transparency issues and not pie-in-the-sky law profs. Just do your job and start teaching your students practical skills and how to pass the bar (and advising as many as possible to drop out now)...these are the things that you can actually control.

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  25. ATTY, In your opinion, should the Cooley and NYLS lawsuits be dismissed?

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  26. @9:00
    "Since he wasn't licensed he was obviously not doing any of the legal work. He hired a lawyer to do all that. I imagine all the law degree did was make him a particularly annoying and inquisitive client."

    Yes. It's particularly annoying when clients ask intelligent questions and have the ability to understand the legal formalities involved in litigation. It makes it hard to screw them over and pad the bill.

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  27. "which may or may not be fudged for years to come"

    That's not transparency if it's "fudged."

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  28. dimmit, It is very annoying when a client who has never practiced law wants to play lawyer. Generally harmless but still annoying, especially if they don't want to pay for the time they want you to play lawyer with them.

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  29. @9:05 - yes, you are clearly naive. No wonder you were scammed.

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  30. @9:07

    And I have found that many times when lawyers complain about clients "asking too many questions" or "playing lawyer," they are simply mad that the client is trying to find a more efficient and cost effective way to deal with the issue (there's that MBA thinking again).

    But, this is off topic.

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  31. "How many law students do you think actually go to law school based on the schools published data? How many go because of a bad economy so they can be off the market for 3 years at the expense of a lifetime of debt and a sliver of hope that they will be employed at the end of it?"

    I suppose it says something about the value of legal education that you think you're asking rhetorical questions as opposed to real ones.

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  32. Should we change securities fraud laws as well 9:08? How about consumer labelling laws? How about the laws regulating used car salesmen?

    Why aren't you telling those segments of the fraud jurisprudence to change their ways? Why do you insist that the only industry not subject to fraud regulation be law schools?

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  33. "And I have found that many times when lawyers complain about clients "asking too many questions" or "playing lawyer," they are simply mad that the client is trying to find a more efficient and cost effective way to deal with the issue (there's that MBA thinking again)."

    It's not that dimmit. It's because they don't have the experience to comment helpfully, and because they don't want to pay for the time it takes to humor their desire to play lawyer. Imagine a patient who wants to tell the doctor how to do his job. Happens all the time, but it's still annoying.

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  34. LawProf - it says something about law profs that you give a non-answer while thinking that you're being cute and clever.

    9:11 - fraud does not apply to law schools?

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  35. "How many law students do you think actually go to law school based on the schools published data? How many go because of a bad economy so they can be off the market for 3 years at the expense of a lifetime of debt and a sliver of hope that they will be employed at the end of it?"

    There are literally hundreds of fun and interesting majors out there that provide a "sliver of hope" at getting a good job. You can get a creative writing PhD for example, and maybe you'll be the next Tolkien.

    Law school job placement fraud is based on promising not a sliver of hope, but near mathematical certainty.

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  36. "fraud does not apply to law schools?"

    Not in your world it doesn't. Anyone who accuses law schools of fraud is "naive."

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  37. I think one point that has been made on this blog a few times, and which bears repeating, is that one's long term economic viability as a lawyer is strongly correlated to how one beings their legal career.

    If you are not hired at a big or medium-sized firm, or are not working an appelate or similar clerkship, your chances of being able to find the type of stable, long-term, and (yes) WELL-PAYING employment needed to justify the expense of law school will be gravely diminished. Given that only about a quarter of total law school graduates (which, with few exceptions, breaks down to as much as 15% and as little as 2% of any given law school's graduating class) will ever be positioned for these kinds of jobs, it's difficult to envision what the long term value of a law degree is if your only options upon graduation are contract work, doc review, or going solo (which, for whatever reason, is put out there by a number of people both in and out of the profession, as a commercially viable pursuit despite limited evidence in support).

    In-House Legal Departments and Boutique Firms want to see contract drafting and negotiating experience, or some level of trial prep above the doc review level. The legal profession provides few avenues towards these kinds of exposure outside the BIGLAW setting. And if the BIGLAW setting is a non-starter for the vast majority of law school grads, then it's difficult to envision that many law school grads being able to develop the momentum required early in their careers for their ROI to have any kind of long-term value.

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  38. I'm not being clever -- I'm pointing out that you're just another know-nothing bullshitter in a profession full of them. I'm not sure legal academics can get the blame for that though, as whether law school is an asshole factory or magnet is another subject in need of further study.

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  39. You don't believe that law school is meaningfully any different from buying a used car?

    If so, a non-d**kish answer would be greatly appreciated.

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  40. I agree 9:18. It starts during your 2L summer. That summer determines so much about your future.

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  41. No Transparency Boy, you have no idea what was meant by "naive" and how it was used in that sentence.

    And I can tell its you. As someone put it perfectly yesterday, "You sure have a problem with restating what someone else says into a barely recognizable exaggeration of what was actually said, don't you?"


    And as someone else also stated, you are "retarded." Truly.

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  42. I actually know something about the used car industry. It has very tight consumer protection regulations. There are lemon laws, 3 day cool down periods, implied warranties, explicit (90 day) warranties and so on. It wasn't always like this. Back in the 70s there were horror stories about what used car salesmen would do to customers, but things change. (To be clear, the above protections generally do not apply to transactions between private parties, only to car purchases from a licensed dealer).

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  43. "I agree 9:18. It starts during your 2L summer. That summer determines so much about your future."

    Right, but relatively few law students even get to that "2L Summer", at least the type of 2L Summer you might be envisioning. Most have to work non-paying internships or work informally for small firms who may or may not be able to pay them. I did a fellowship funded public interest position, but it was clear to me from the first that there was no defined career path which could be extrapolated from it.

    (And before we start talking about Public Interest options, it's also worth repeating how tremendously limited these positions are, as well as the level of competition of-and the generally mercurial nature associated with-the hiring process).

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  44. LawProf, why don't you just answer the questions instead of getting your panties into a bunch? Sorry if your ego can't handle hard questions.

    So now you magically have full transparency...great (although the numbers are available through other sources). Now what? Students are still stuck with a lifetime of debt.

    And you really think students go to school based on published data?

    And yes, this occupation is chock full of assholes. We learned from the best, starting on day 1 in law school.

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  45. Yeah part of the law school scam is "if you don't get biglaw you can always help the world by doing public interest for $50k/year." It's a complete lie because a $50k/year public interest law job is about as hard to get as biglaw.

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  46. Would you characterize the current status quo of law school admissions as being more in line with the current state of affairs in automotive sales, or the status quo ante that you described?

    In either case, would you find this acceptable? Does a used car give you quite the same expectation of social and economic mobility as a law degree does? I understand the theoretical basis to the argument that it shouldn't, but *does* it? And is law school as much a buyer's market as automotive sales typically is?

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  47. "So now you magically have full transparency...great (although the numbers are available through other sources). Now what? Students are still stuck with a lifetime of debt."

    Debt incurred based on an informed decision.

    Where are these "other sources" that only you know about? Perhaps you can solve the transparency problem right here.

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  48. Also, you'll be lucky to find a public interest position that even pays that much.

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  49. No as I described earlier used car sales have far better consumer protection regulation. If a used car salesman lies about the history or features of a car you can have his license pulled. A law school can lie about the ability to place students, and their regulatory body (the ABA) will do nothing. The ABA taught them how to lie.

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  50. @ATTY
    As a recent graduate I can tell you that employment statistics greatly affect the decision to go to law school, because at the very least it induces one to think that you will be able to pay back the money you take out in a reasonable amount of time. People don't look at a 93% and instantly go "I'm going to be a lawyer" but they do look at it and go "Okay, I'm taking out 90k for school, but there's a 93% chance I'll make at least 80k a year so I can afford to go to this school."
    There are a few people who want to be lawyers no matter what, and so real (grim) employment statistics probably wouldn't mean anything. But the majority of people, if they saw what their true odds were, would take a pass not because they didn't have a genuine interest in law, but because they would realize how financially irresponsible it would be.
    I don't know anyone who was at school to hide out from the real world; if anything everyone was pretty enthusiastic about it. This "hiding" is more a result of the world showing that an undergraduate degree is usually worthless. Young people want to get out into the world - we want to have jobs, have homes, have kids: but what we're finding is that the bar to obtain those things is getting progressively higher and higher, while we're attempting to obtain them.

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  51. @9:25 and there are a whole library full of disclosure laws applied to the financial sector. How is that working out?

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  52. The general public likely doesn't give a shit about failed lawyers or law schools spitting out an excess supply of 20,000+ useless law grads per year.

    If the same thing happened to doctors, the public would care because people generally want positive outcomes for medical school graduates. People make the link between producing good doctors and how it will potentially affect their own health in the future.

    We are totally fucked in the legal business. People hate us and generally cheer on the decline and failure of our business model. If a bunch of snotty law grads fail in life, get stuck with $200,000 in debt and they never breed because it chases off potential mates.... then most of the general public would not really be that upset with the situation continuing.

    All of these scam blogs are not going to change anything.
    It is only giving the general public the chance to enjoy the show.
    Schadenfreude.

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  53. I actually don't believe the ABA has taught them how to lie, I think (more accurately) the legal academy (and its representative cum regulatory bodies) are peopled to a person by individuals who are both experientially and temperamentally ill-equipped to engage with the idea of law school on anything less than lauditory terms.

    I call this cohort "The Achiever Caste".

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  54. "@9:25 and there are a whole library full of disclosure laws applied to the financial sector. How is that working out?"

    Much better than if those laws did not exist.

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  55. @9:31, i.e. transparency boy...these sources were discussed yesterday. Not surprised that you don't pay attention. Also, a simple google search would reveal a lot. But people don't use the internet, right?

    But its good to know that you defend $50,000 tuition based on a fake market and non-dischargeable debt.

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  56. "I actually don't believe the ABA has taught them how to lie,"

    vbp, you need to read Cooley and NYLS's motions to dismiss. Their main defense is that their fraudulent job placement statistics were in line with the ABA's methods.

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  57. "these sources were discussed yesterday"

    No they weren't. Why do you keep repeating the lie that honest job placement data is out there, when you won't tell us where it is?

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  58. "Much better than if those laws did not exist."

    No kidding. But that is not the issue now is it?

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  59. ATTY: Just to let you know, the class of 2011, of which I am a part, entered law school during what was considered a good economy. I don't know when you graduated, but most of my class was a fairly practical lot. Of my close circle of friends in school, three of us were leaving good positions (one a very good position) because we actually believed that the institutions of the profession would not outright lie to us about the earning potential of young attorneys. The other two were straight out of undergrad. We've discussed this very issue and all of us made the decision to become lawyers and where to attend based on the published data on debt loads and job prospects. None of us were waiting out a bad economy or looking to waste three years. So when you ask silly rhetorical questions such as "How many law students do you think actually go to law school based on the schools published data?", I can tell you at least five. That's 100% of my small survey.

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  60. Exactly 9:39. Ignore ATTY (and his other monikers) he's a bit unbalanced as you can see.

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  61. @9:34 - I recently graduated as well and everyone I went to school with knew the numbers were complete BS. We actually use the internet. Some people here want to act like law students live in some sort of bubble where the only source of info available is from law schools.

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  62. The scamblogs serve the purpose of whipping up discussion internally in the profession. That we are even talking about them is proof that they're effective enough. I don't read scamblogs themselves, and find many of them tonally and substantively deranged.

    But the profession's problems aren't going away, and as long as they're around, there will be an ever increasing chorus of dissenters within the profession. The other side has really only one factor going for it: the next hoped-for debt-driven bubble economy that will temporarily create the artificial short-term demand for lawyers, most of whom will be probably be dismissed once the bubble inevitably bursts.

    I do not understand, and therefore cannot persuade, the type of mentality that would welcome such circumstances, but I've yet to hear any other compelling counterargument for what benefit the status quo presently offers.

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  63. "I recently graduated as well and everyone I went to school with knew the numbers were complete BS."

    You claim to have spoken with every person in your graduating class, and all of them agreed with you?

    Can you please share your school and class year (it wouldn't out you) because I'm pretty sure we can find people who would disprove your claim.

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  64. "vbp, you need to read Cooley and NYLS's motions to dismiss. Their main defense is that their fraudulent job placement statistics were in line with the ABA's methods."

    Right, but I'm stating that the ABA's approach is as much a problem of culture as a problem of volition. (I usually don't was theoretical out here, but any frank discussion of these issues with people I meet in the profession is often met with a kind of startled pearl-clutching).

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  65. @9:44,

    I went to law school long before 2008, and if you'd like, you can go ahead and solicit every single graduating member of the Rugers clas of 2005 and see if they're willing to engage you on what their frame of mind was about a decision they made in 2002.

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  66. I think it's much simpler than that. The ABA committee designing the job statistic rules is made up of deans and professors from bad law schools, whose bread is buttered by making the statistics as misleadingly optimistic as possible (to be fair there was a Yale prof on the committee but he was the only member from a good school).

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  67. @9:44, ie.e. transparency boy - why are you asking the person you disagree with about their school and year and not the person making the opposite argument? Why don't you try and say one intelligent thing here?

    ReplyDelete
  68. vbp are you ATTY and the other "transparency doesn't matter" person? That's crazy if you're using not one but two sock puppets.

    ReplyDelete
  69. 9:48, He said that not one member of his class believed the job placement numbers. I don't believe that statement and I would like to know what year and school he graduated from, because I will find people who will disprove the point.

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  70. "The ABA committee designing the job statistic rules is made up of deans and professors from bad law schools, whose bread is buttered by making the statistics as misleadingly optimistic as possible ."

    This is exactly right and why this issue will drag on for years. Meanwhile students are still taking out massive loans....stupid is as stupid does.

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  71. @9:36

    Pretty much agree with you that the outside world hates lawyers. By some of the responses on here, it's not surprising.

    After my summer as a summer associate and while waiting to hear on whether I would recieve an offer, I weighed my options. I was pretty worried and one of the options I considered was immigration to Australia. I played around on the website and researched their points system for immigration. I quickly learned that a medical doctor (of course), gave you the highest number of points. A PHD was also very valuable. My MBA was helpful as well. A law degree was worthless.

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  72. I'm absolutely not ATTY, and I *do* believe transparency matters. I *don't* believe it's the silver bullet, and I'm mostly supportive of LawProf's endeavors. I'm not sure what in my comments would have indicated otherwise.

    And I can already imagine how this conversation would plan out:

    Random Lawyer: "Hello?"
    9:50: "Hi, I'm a complete stranger who got into an argument on a blog with somebody who claims he went to law school with you. Would you be willing to answer some questions I have about what weight you put on law school job placement figures as a 0L?"
    Random Lawyer: "How did you find me?"
    9:50: "Oh, LinkedIn and your firm website . . . "
    Random Lawyer: (Hangs up)

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  73. vbp - transparency boy is a well-known troll who squats on this blog all day, every day. Every time he makes his dopey arguments and is understandably attacked for them by anyone with any kind of sense he starts crying that they are all the same person.

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  74. "I quickly learned that a medical doctor (of course), gave you the highest number of points. A PHD was also very valuable. My MBA was helpful as well. A law degree was worthless."

    Fascinating bit of information dimmit.

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  75. Having read a few Australian contracts here and there, they would problem think our lawyers would make things needlessly complicated for them.

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  76. I'll assume the statement "everyone in my class knew the law school's numbers were bullshit" has been redacted.

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  77. 10:00 AM - i.e. transparency boy, your understanding of how language is used is laughable. But that is what you endlessly engage in. No wonder you're unemployed and were scammed. So what percentage of students do you think went to law school based on their numbers?

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  78. Is this how we're gonna have this conversation? By being haughty and supercilious?

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  79. LawProf has established that transparency is a necessary (even if not sufficient) part of the solution to the law school scam as articulated by this blog. Thus can the "transparency doesn't matter because law students know the numbers are wrong and/or they're stupid and/or the true numbers are available somewhere and/or the only solution is to ban all federal law school loans and/or the only solution is to make all debt [including his debt I assume] dischargeable in bankruptcy" person leave?

    If LawProf came out and said transparency didn't matter at all, then I would leave this blog because it wouldn't be a message I agreed with. Why argue your point on a blog that doesn't agree with you?

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  80. vbp - you obviously have not read transparency boy's comments before. So the answer is yes. Fair warning.

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  81. "LawProf has established that transparency is a necessary (even if not sufficient) part of the solution to the law school scam as articulated by this blog."

    You have a funny definition of "established." So now its law? And if you just want a circle jerk why don't you just hang out with your buddies? What law school did you go to exactly?

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  82. Other than to disrupt the blog, and to prevent others from reading and commenting on LawProf's posts - why are you here?

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  83. "Other than to disrupt the blog" - that would be you. At least 50% of the comments are your barely coherent shrill arguments that attempts to shut down any reasonable discussion if you disagree with something somebody says.

    "and to prevent others from reading and commenting on LawProf's posts" - and how am I doing that?

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  84. Transparency boy - you have already chased off 3 people today. Avor and a few people yesterday. You just repeat the same shit that contains very little logic, never absorb all the info others hand you and completely ignore every time you are proven wrong.

    The internet was thought to be a wonderful thing until it slowly dawned on people that it gives voice to intractable idiots like you who have the power to shut everything else out just through sheer ubiquity.

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  85. 10:14: +1, I think we all wonder that. I think he's more than a troll. Maybe Prof. Campos has the ABA's PR guys more than a little worried.

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  86. So, what's his schtick? That he was scammed and that Campos is wrong, or at least being disingenous? How do you square that?

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  87. As stated above, this blog does not agree with your statement that transparency doesn't matter. It considered your idea, and rejected it. Incidentally, I also doubt it agrees with your proposal to end federal loan subsidies to law schools (because again, that would deprive people such as e.g. Barack Obama and numerous other deserving students access access to law school. President Obama couldn't have gone to Harvard Law School without federal loans).

    Your goal, induced by an unhealthy personal obsession with one poster, was to stop anyone from making the point that transparency matters. Not only are commenters making the point, but the author of the blog made the point in this post.

    You have failed completely in your fued with the poster who has invaded your mind. Why waste more time here?

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  88. @10:20, yes transparency boy is more than a troll...he's a sad psychotic. And the ABA would flip out if their cash cow, law school loans, were reformed. That is the counter-argument.

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  89. "You have failed completely in your fued with the poster who has invaded your mind. Why waste more time here?"

    Melodramatic much?

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  90. vbp - he thinks that transparency is the only answer for some reason...completely ignores loan reform and other issues. The problem is that his arguments are extremely poor and he ignores anyone with a reasonable counter-argument or a different take. He's like the worst densest law student ever. It wouldn't be so bad except that he sits here all day and attempts to squash any conversation with his ramblings. Go back and read other comment sections...50%, at least, are from him.

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  91. @vbp

    Odds it is the same person arguing with himself/herself?

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  92. 10:31, This is clearly a person thing between you and "transparency boy." Why subject the entire blog to your obsession?

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  93. dimmit and @10:33 - transparency boy does this every day with multiple commenters who he accuses to be the same person. Go back and read other comments sections. I come here every few days and watch him ruin the discussions. So who exactly is subjecting the entire blog to his/her obsession?

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  94. Frankly, I only see one poster with an obsession on here.

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  95. The only person repeatedly adding non-substantive comments here seems to be you 10:37. In this thread alone you've written about 20 comments about "transparency boy" that did not even attempt to discuss any other issue. Why give him the satisfaction of knowing that you obsess over him? It's just a stupid commenter on a blog. Let it go.

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  96. dimmit - yes I agree. Transparency boy repeats the same lame arguments every single day.

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  97. 21 comments solely about "transparency boy."

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  98. who is the transparency boy?

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  99. If only I had the charisma of transparency boy. No one even noticed I exist and this guy has a cult following.

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  100. @10:43 - then stop picking fights and repeating your shit every...single...day.

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  101. If it's the only way to get you to stop posting about "transparency boy" - what "repeating shit" do you not want to see posted on here?

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  102. "who is the transparency boy?"

    The proper question is what is transparency boy. It's a misfiring neuron in the brain of one mentally disturbed poster.

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  103. I *think* I'm transparency boy. Not sure though.

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  104. I'd like to add three notes to LawProf's excellent post: First, hear, hear for the idea that transparency matters as a moral issue. In addition to good old-fashioned honesty, law professors have special obligations as both attorneys (a profession granted special economic privileges because it is supposed to act in the interest of clients) and educators (who are supposed to improve understanding rather than obscure it).

    Second, transparency is essential for a reason LawProf suggests near the end of his post. Law faculties need to understand this information, both to counsel current/prospective students and to figure out how we are going to restructure legal education. The need for restructuring now goes far beyond the old skills/theory debate (although I'm one who agrees with a lot of that debate). I don't want to write too much right now on this, because it will distract from the main point here. But the legal services market continues to undergo huge changes, even as we speak. To survive economically, both lawyers and many law schools are going to have to make significant changes. And the scariest part is that there's no clear map to what those changes should be. In the current legal market, the healthiest survivors will be those who take a hard look at all possible data, keep an open mind, and innovate to meet change. That may sound like B-school babble (brought to you free, by me, without even earning an MBA!) but this is an area I've been studying for some time, and I'm deadly serious about the economic changes facing both lawyers and law schools.

    Third, the transparency focus has been very helpful in prompting a hands-on look at lots of other issues. This is a very tangled web we're unraveling and it helps to have people who want to look carefully, piece by piece, and talk in specifics. One piece leads to another. I've been looking, for example, at some of the data on loans and I think there are some interesting points to be made about graduate loans in law, medicine, education (as a field),the sciences, and the humanities/social sciences, all of which seem to have different cost/risk profiles from the perspective of federal lenders. Changes may be coming for law simply because (again, based on just a very quick read) it imposes the heaviest cost/risk burden on the lenders.

    So bottom line: Is transparency important in its own right? Absolutely. Is it just the first step in further change? Yes again.

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  105. Thanks DJM. We all appreciate the time you devote to this cause.

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  106. Thanks for the response, LawProf.

    You are correct in the way you described my view in the first portion of your post (i.e. the seats being filled, although by a different mix).

    Don't misunderstand--I do believe that it would be a good thing to have accurate info provided by all of the schools, and I also believe that until such information can be confirmed that there should be NO SUCH INFORMATION provided by those schools.

    Ultimately, whatever circuitous route it takes though, it comes down to the money. The law schools want it, and as long as students have easy access to it the law schools are going to get it.

    I can't think of any other arena in life where someone can sign on the dotted line and get such vast sums handed to them with so little due diligence being done by the lender though. That is exactly what flips the script on the whole lender/borrower relationship here. In most other cases, the lender has to be much more concerned about a breach by the borrower, so there are a lot of qualifications that a borrower needs to meet. Here, almost all of the risk is on the borrower, but the borrower is too young, too inexperienced to understand what that means and what to do about it.

    It is so similar to the sub-prime sharks that it really is just a matter of time before it blows up, but that's when there will be some attempt at making a change.

    And I'm a cynic, so I'll also say that in the end it'll probably not make much difference, just as it hasn't for the bankers. Look at what happened from that mess, and really...how much different are things now?

    But again, thanks for the response, and I really am happy to hear that you gave those inquiring students the advice that you did.

    Avor

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  107. "Ultimately, whatever circuitous route it takes though, it comes down to the money. The law schools want it, and as long as students have easy access to it the law schools are going to get it."

    A lot of people want money. The point is that you can't attain it by fraud. For example, hundreds of other more deserving academic programs would want the tuition revenue, but unlike law schools they're not willing to lie to get it. So while transparency may not alter the amount of student loans, it will alter how that money is spent. It will be spent on deserving programs.

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  108. No argument here that you shouldn't get your money through fraud.

    I haven't looked into it, but do any/all/many/few other "professional programs" advertise placement percentages and median salaries like law schools do? If not, when did law schools start doing it? Was it only when USNEWS started using it for their rankings?

    The ABA should ban the reporting of the numbers until a method is developed to ensure some semblance of accuracy. Alternatively, they should force any law school to put a huge disclaimer at the head of any document that lists their numbers (and request that USNEWS does the same).


    I still don't see why it's such a crazy idea to force the lenders for the government loans to do some basic due-diligence on BLS numbers, loans outstanding/in default, growth/or not in the legal sector in general, etc. before lending rather than just handing out money to everyone for everything because it can't be discharged. This should be done for all education lending, not just law school loans, but since this is the law school scam site...

    Avor

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  109. As yourself this question:

    If I knew before entering law school that X (say, 50%) of the graduates before me did not obtain full-time legal employment as lawyers and of those who did, most made far less than Y (say $100k), would I have gone to law school?

    Transparency matters at least to some.

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  110. I don't think anybody here is actually arguing that transparency doesn't matter at all to anyone!

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  111. "I haven't looked into it, but do any/all/many/few other "professional programs" advertise placement percentages and median salaries like law schools do? If not, when did law schools start doing it? Was it only when USNEWS started using it for their rankings?"

    They generally don't actually. Go on your average tier 2 MBA site and you won't see such numbers. Not sure why or when law schools started publishing it.

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  112. "This should be done for all education lending, not just law school loans, but since this is the law school scam site..."

    Also, you do not have the authority, standing, respect, or right in any fathomable way to decide whether people who are much brighter, talented and helpful citizens than you are get federal loan money. If you have a problem with Cooley and NYLS, deal with them. Don't make some young genius who needs loans to go to Harvard suffer for their sins.

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  113. Many posters here point out that you have to be an blind fool not to see the law school scam. However, when mainstream media cover lawyer salaries they cover top firm bonuses such as this WSJ piece http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2011/11/29/law-blog-video-lawyers-bonuses-under-pressure/?mod=WSJBlog

    They focus on how 7.5K is not such a big bonus. Granted, in this particular report they acknowledged issues of employment.

    When I was in undergrad I saw such reports but they did not tell me to watch out there are no jobs out there. They just confirmed what law schools were misrepresenting: lawyers make good money. Lawyers make less money then bankers, but banking is risky, law is stable.

    As college kid you see law schools post misleading stats, media talking about lawyers making good money. I just do not see how someone expects a college kid to believe some lunatic scamblogger over LS stats + all the media attention lawyers get.

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  114. To vpb on your 9:25 comment: I am a lawyer and the daughter of a professor who taught at a top twenty school. In all my years of observing academia, I have never been able to describe the problem with academia with the élan and elegance of your comment. You nailed it.

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  115. I'm sorry vpb, I was referring to your 9:36 comment.

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  116. Exactly 2:55. There is still a ton of information in the media supporting the fraudulent numbers.

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  117. WOW at the video in 2:55.

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  118. To summarize the video, Ashby Jones and the interviewer are bemoaning the small $275,000 salaries of a fifth year associate, to which Ashby responds - hoping to defend the legal profession - that the partner make seven figures.

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  119. Avor - nobody but one moronic troll endlessly commenting (he was the first, of course, to respond to you) thinks that loan reform isn't vital. Any time someone starts in on that vein you know who it is.

    Oh and the two law profs, of course, think its the most vital issue....but you know legal academics.

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  120. Loan reform is important, but it's impossible without data on how graduates do in the job market - i.e. transparency. That's why transparency is more important than loan reform. One can't occur without the other.

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  121. "Oh and the two law profs, of course, think its the most vital issue....but you know legal academics."

    1. What does this sentence mean?

    2. It's, not its.

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  122. FYI this just came out in today's Financial Times (the Financial Times is thought to be the world's top business newspaper):

    US school profile: Northeastern University School of Law

    Law school is notorious in academia for housing type-A-personality students, interested only in a fast track to partnership and the fat pay cheque that comes with it. But this is not the case at Northeastern University School of Law. . . .

    Prof Bierman says Northeastern students “mature faster” than students in traditional programmes because internships force them to contemplate their long-term professional prospects. Job prospects for newly minted lawyers are grim, but for Northeastern’s class of 2010, 92 per cent secured employment within six months of graduation. . . .

    Kate Richardson, a third-year law student from Michigan, was attracted to the school because of its emphasis on real world learning. She worked as a paralegal in San Francisco before law school and has done internships at agencies in the US, and a stint in Tanzania at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/805d69ec-1641-11e1-a691-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1f7ySnjeE

    How do law schools get such stories placed? Their PR machine is amazing.

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  123. Another law school related story:

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/90ecfb2e-1641-11e1-a691-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1f92ikWCK

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  124. The FT articles are targeted at foreign LLM students. I wonder if law schools have started to give up on scamming US students (ha!) and now they're marketing their lies to foreigners.

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  125. Serious question - and I'm not trolling the loan issue, but can foreign LLM students get US government loans to attend law school?

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  126. How is this article just targeted to LLMs. It's mainly a look at the way British firms and law schools are evolving.

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  127. It's part of a "Special Edition" ranking the world's LLM programs.

    http://www.ft.com/intl/reports/lawschools?ftcamp=traffic/email/content/bized//memmkt

    I don't think foreign LLM students can get federal loans. When I was at NYU I knew a lot of the LLM students and all of them had to use their parents' money.

    Another nail in the coffin of the moronic "we can solve the problem by cutting off loans" crowd.

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  128. But the information contained in that particular article is not primarily of interest to LLMs. The programs described in this article-- the partnerships between law schools and firms-- are not about LLMs.

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  129. underemployed tier 2 law gradNovember 29, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    After reading that article about Northeastern even I want to attend!

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  130. *struts around*

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  131. Anyone else suspect that Avor's hidden agenda was to take the heat off of the law schools that employ him and place it onto the federal government?

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  132. Some of the programs described in the FT article are examples of adding more training (and expense) on the back end of legal training rather than doing it earlier. I have long thought that law schools should require applicants to have taken basic economics, basic political science, basic accounting, and at least one course related to the history/culture/language of another country. Even schools of public policy, which have much less rigorous curricula, require at least two of those!

    If we required these courses, our programs would acquire sharper (and more practical) focus in several ways. Familiarity with accounting is essential, not just for business law practice but for family law (much of divorce is about understanding what assets exist and how to divide them fairly), some types of criminal law, IP practice, election law, etc. Not to mention that knowledge of basic accounting would help students understand the economics of law practice--whether they go into solo practice or just need to understand the shifting fortunes of different types of practice.

    If all students had this basic knowledge, the law schools themselves could teach some of the business/law points that are now missing. And, of course, if the students all understood accounting, the faculty would have to catch up. :) Pretty embarrassing, even as a 1L Torts professor (which I used to be) if you can't answer a student's question about present value of damages or sophisticated designs for settlement payouts over time.

    The law schools and ABA have always resisted these kinds of requirements--seeing law schools as the last bastions of the liberal arts. But I think the time has come to create a program that more efficiently builds on undergrad time (or even just a small portion of that time). Course requirements would attack just a small part of the problem (it's not, for example, more important than transparency or loan reform), but what do others think?

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  133. I am a public interest lawyer and my work is primarily focused on representing immigrants (documented and undocumented) in employment law matters. Although I don't have the debt burden of many recent law grads I still have close to $90,000 in debt.

    I respect the work that Law Prof is doing on this blog, but I must admit the majority of the comments from recent law grads I find hard to feel sympathetic. Many, not all, seem to complain that the promised biglaw jobs of starting salaries of $150,000 a year don't exist. This is true, but I have been opposing counsel to many of those who did get these jobs and the truth is they get paid this money to screw my people with far less power and resources than they have. If you work in biglaw, especially labor and employment, your job is to defend, regardless how damning the facts, the exploitation of workers. Many of you seem to be complaining that your education and significant debt has not provided you with the opportunity to screw other people.

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  134. I like DJM's idea, but maybe for different reasons than hers. Law school needs to require a slate of prerequisites to keep the number of applicants down. A year or two of extra undergraduate coursework as a barrier to entry would probably dissuade many hundreds or thousands who apply to law school because they don't know what else to do with themselves.

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  135. I think the anger about the missing 150K biglaw jobs is really more about the act of deception than disappointment about not having such a job. Most of the most bitter people I know, including myself, were more upset about the lack of "average" $60,000 jobs.

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  136. Brian, It's definitely not just about biglaw jobs. its about any kind of legal job with a liveable wage.

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  137. Anonymous @ 6:40 pm:

    You are absolutely correct and I did not mean to suggest otherwise.

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  138. DJM. You school does not have Accounting courses? You did not take Accounting in law school?

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  139. "I like DJM's idea, but maybe for different reasons than hers. Law school needs to require a slate of prerequisites to keep the number of applicants down."

    Doesn't medical school require Organic Chemistry, Biology and a whole bunch of other prereqs? Or maybe people just take those to prepare for the MCATs even though they're not required prereqs.

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  140. I'm not sure if my law school offered an accounting course (just too long ago for me to remember), but I definitely didn't take one. I've educated myself over the years, as I've learned the importance of accounting principles. My thought is that it would be much better if all law students took accounting (and a few other courses) before coming to law school--so that we could build off that shared knowledge base in the same way that medical schools build off undergrad biology, chemistry, etc.

    I definitely agree, 6:27, that this would be a good way of keeping down the "drift into law school" phenomenon. And there could be a process for people who have been out of school for several years and want to start law school--they could show equivalent knowledge or take these courses during law school rather than pay extra for them in advance. Public policy schools have a process like that for their prerequisites.

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  141. My school did not require accounting, but we were strongly encouraged to take it. I do not know any among my friends who did not. This was also many years ago.

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  142. @7:16
    Your instincts are correct. From Vanderbilt Medical School website discussing requirements for admissions:

    "Advanced placement credits, CLEP credits, and pass/fail credits are not acceptable in lieu of ANY required courses. Advanced courses in the same discipline may be substituted for the requirements when the applicant has placed out of the entry level course.
    •Biology: A minimum of 8 semester hours, including laboratory.
    •General Chemistry: A minimum of 8 semester hours including laboratory.
    •Organic Chemistry: A minimum of 8 semester hours including laboratory.
    •English and Composition: A minimum of 6 semester hours in English literature and/or writing.
    •Physics: A minimum of 8 semester hours, including laboratory."

    Average GPA---3.8
    Average MCAT---11.1

    My research also indicates that at many schools, the instructor grades the above courses on the curve.

    Obviously it takes a great deal of commitment to navigate successfully the rigors of premed education and I would think, this process weeds out a large number of aspirants. I think you are right, law schools could learn something from medical schools---that is, if they would place their interest in their students and the profession before profits.

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  143. Wow they even have a GPA cutoff.

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  144. On the medical profession

    http://wallstreetpit.com/5769-the-medical-cartel-why-are-md-salaries-so-high

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  145. @9:29
    Thank you. Excellent article. But I have one question that perhaps an anti-trust specialist can answer: Why doesn't the AMA trade union run afoul on the Justice Dept. as did the ABA? What am I missing?

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  146. The AMA's lobbying is very powerful and effective.

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  147. The AMA's principal argument is that every needs a *meaningful* residency experience, otherwise they will not be properly trained. This requires limiting the number of residencies, which limits the number of medical schools and thus doctors.

    I think the underlying policy is that you want your licensed doctors to know what they're doing. The same concern does not hold for licensed lawyers, since they're never working on a life or death matter.

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  148. "The AMA's lobbying is very powerful and effective."

    Why hasn't the AMA been co-opted by university deans who seek to create medical schools purely for the tuition revenue - without any regard for the students? In other words, why hasn't the AMA suffered from the capture that occured to the ABA?

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  149. No they just leave the country without enough doctors and help drive up health care costs beyond what any other industrial societies endure.

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  150. @9:49
    Thank you. That makes sense. However, I respectfully disagree re: lawyers and life and death. I live in Tennessee. While our death row doesn't rival that of Texas, our juries aren't shy about the death penalty. . . and most of those death row inmates didn't get the reincarnation of Clarence Darrow to represent them.

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  151. @9:59
    I know you are right of course, but I can't help but envy the docs for their AMA watchdog.

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  152. Your analysis is missing a key piece of data - how much health care revenue goes to pay doctor salaries? It's actually a tiny percentage. The biggest chunk of healthcare cost goes to drug companies, medical products manufacturers, health care "executives and managers" (meaning white collar types who don't practice medicine), health care company shareholders, and yes lawyers.

    Try to discipline yourself to think things through before you jump to erroneous conclusions.

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  153. That is why I said HELP raise costs. The main problem is the artificial shortage of doctors.

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  154. That's why I told you to investigate the percentage of the total healthcare cost that goes to pay doctor salaries. It's a small percentage, and thus you are wrong when you say "the main problem is the artificial shortage of doctors."

    On a deeper level, control your jealousy of people who did better than you. You could have gone to medical school too if you had what it takes.

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  155. I promise you, you do not know what you are talking about....

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  156. The biggest driver of healthcare costs is new drugs, new technologies and new procedures. It's essentially medical inventions that are the problem.

    Why do these new things have to be used once discovered? Because if you don't use them some lawyer will sue you. It's called defensive medicine. A bunch of expensive and cutting edge tests make no sense, except in front of a jury as some scumbag attorney is grilling you.

    Lawyers are a far bigger driver of healthcare cost than medical salaries, by orders of magnitude.

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  157. "I promise you, you do not know what you are talking about...."

    Start researching FACTS. For example, read this: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/HealthCare/health-care-costs-biggest-drivers/story?id=10044091&page=1

    If you want more, dig up the detailed studies.

    A bright person collects complete data and then makes a decision. You made a decision based on some jealous person's blog post on wallstreetpit.com. It's things like this that prevented you from getting into medical school. Such errors in reasoning and analysis can kill people when made by a doctor.

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  158. Go away 10:12. The person at 10:10 did not deserve your snarky disdain. I don't care if you think you have the right to express yourself anyway you want. I don't care if you think I'm trying to stifle 'free expression'. I don' t care how much pride you take in your obnoxiousness. You are uncivilized. If you are an unemployed lawyer, I can see why. If you aren't, you should be.

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  159. You do deserve it, because a wrong thought leads to wrong action, which leads to a dysfunctional world.

    Aren't you a medical malpractice lawyer tdennis? Of all the people to criticize doctor's salaries.

    There are hard working pediatricians with 30 years of experience making a measily $100k salary. Once you investigate the data, read the ABC News story linked above and read the more detailed studies, you will never again blame doctor salaries for the cost of medical care.

    You'll blame the lawyers - the intellectual property lawyers that allow medical companies to make incredible profits off of their new inventions, and the medmal lawyers who force doctors to use the inventions.

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  160. And it is not a matter of jealousy at all to say that the salaries of doctors in the US are artificially high with no better outcomes than in other countries. Cancer treatment may be better.

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  161. I'm not an unemployed lawyer, obviously. Next time, say thank you when someone educates you on a topic.

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  162. According to the BLS, there are about 650,000 doctors in the country earning an average of about $250,000 each. That's 162 billion in salaries paid to doctors.

    The total amount spent on healthcare last year was about $2.7 trillion.

    162 billion divided by 2.7 trillion = 6%.

    Still think it's doctor salaries driving the cost of healthcare?

    FYI that's how you do analysis. You might want to send that to the wallstreetpit.com moron.

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  163. Do American citizens pay more for visits to the doctor than do people in other countries?

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  164. Yes, but not because of doctor salaries. The error you are making is that you think healthcare cost = physician's salary. I just showed you above that phsyician salaries make up only 6% of healthcare cost.

    At this point further discussion by you is either a sign that you are mentally handicapped or a troll. Either way you and that wallstreetpit.com person's moronic analysis were pwned. I'll leave you the same way the MCATs left you, defeated.

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  165. Health care costs obviously can mean the cost that people pay to go to the doctor, which is what I was referring to. Having lived here and abroad, the difference is astonishing.

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  166. I once looked into the possibility of pharmacy school. Pharmacy school requires a specific set of prerequisites that take about 2 years to accumulate as a normal undergraduate on a normal schedule. Its heavy on biology, chemistry, and organic chemistry, but also requires calculus, physics, and economics. A few of the required credits can come from the liberal arts.

    One great thing is that you do not need a bachelor's degree to apply to pharmacy school, all you need are the prerequisites. So, it is common for people to become pharmacists after 6 years of education, 2 at the undergraduate level and 4 in pharmacy school. Many universities with pharmacy schools have "pre-pharmacy" programs that help the students complete the prereqs required to attend their pharmacy school and I assume many students complete all 6 years at just one university.

    So its great for the students who are serious about pharmacy and it pretty much keeps out everybody who is not. When I looked into the program, I already had about half of the prereqs completed (when I got my BA years ago), but I didn't have a lot of the science. I would have to take night school for over a year in order to qualify to apply. I actually started doing this, and did it for a year, although my plans changed later when I finally and unexpectedly got a real lawyer's job. I took a total of 10 courses.

    This was a gigantic commitment. Organic chemistry is hard, you have to study, it takes a lot of time. The average person just won't do this.

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  167. I work in IP for an IT firm that does a lot of work with healthcare providers.

    Put simply, the biggest, and most rapidly increasing part of the cost of healthcare in the United States is in administration costs. McKinsey estimates that of difference between the predicted cost of healthcare in the US based on GDP figures and the actual cost, 85% is caused by the unjustifiably high administrative costs.

    This post and the links in it are a good primer on this topic:

    http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/21/why-does-us-health-care-cost-so-much-part-ii-indefensible-administrative-costs/

    Blaming pharma IP for this is barking up the wrong tree. Yes, pharma companies do engage in some very dodgy practices - see the AstraZeneca EC competition law case for an example of how what was essentially patent fraud inflicted great costs on society as a whole. However, this does not explain the overall difference in costs between the US and Europe, because many of the products patented in the US are also patented in European countries, and the behaviour of pharma companies in the EU and the US is essentially the same.

    Litigation costs are also a red herring. Although the number of cases per capita is much higher in the US, the lower pay-outs compared to e.g., the UK means that the average cost of litigation in the US is only a small component of the overall cost of healthcare, and does not explain the difference in costs between the US and other countries. See here:

    http://www.unc.edu/courses/2007fall/nurs/379/960/Module%208%20econ%20forces%20budget/anderson.pdf

    Basically, the high cost of the US healthcare system is explained largely by the inefficient way in which it is adminstered. Hard as it might be to accept, the US healthcare system is inefficent to an extent stunning compared even to bloated giants like the UK's NHS. Large-scale healthcare reform is the only realistic solution to this.

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  168. Yes, and despite the fact that a single payer system would provide administrative efficiencies, the AMA has opposed a single payer system. They say it is out of concern for patient choice, but the organization must must know what it would do to the salaries of doctors--which is where this conversation started. This is not all about greed. The cost of medical school is high, though other countries manage it well enough to give doctors training and provide them with a good standard of living.
    The US could use more doctors. Admiring the AMA for keeping the numbers lower than they should be, to maintain medicine as a high status profession, is not the way to go.

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  169. 10:24:

    Don't put words in my mouth. I did not critizize doc salaries. Yes, I envied them. And yes, many physicians are smarter than me---many people are smarter than me. So what? Good for them. I benefit from a society full of people smarter than I. However, my envy and lack of intellect does not justify your poor manners and ad hominen attacks on those who respectfully disagree with you. The lady or gentleman with whom I was speaking was giving valuable information and had observations worth hearing. You attacked him or her, personally. If you argued like that in court, at least down here (I know--you think we're all just a bunch of ignorant crackers) the judge would admonish you.

    And what does my representing people injured by a physician breaching the standard of care and significantly harming them have to do with solutions to the law school crisis? Don't start in on me about frivolous malpractice suits. Look at TN and Ga malpractice statutes and see how hard it is to bring an action. Furthermore, these suits cost about 60 to 70k just to get to the mediation stage. Do you think I spend that on a patient's hurt feelings? To justify that outlay, I have to believe that a jury, in a very conservative state will value my client's injury at least at 500k---here, a very grievous injury.

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  170. On another topic, the article about the partnership between law schools and firms was not a part of a special issue directed at LLMs. It was a part of a special issue of The Financial Times called Innovative Law Schools 2011. There are a number of articles directed at different aspects of law schools in the UK and other countries. Some interesting stuff.

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  171. The anti-AMA person got owned by 10:33. Brutally owned.

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  172. The commenter was 100% correct.

    A. Disclosure would not change the admission equation one little bit.
    2. Whether law schools are lying (a moral problem) is not all that relevant to this discussion.
    C. There is no duty for a law prof to gather potential career info so that he or she might properly advise students.
    a) They are already students of an advanced degree that should have done that "homework"
    b) That is not the law profs job, i.e. advising every possible question of a law student
    3. As you said: a law prof's opinion on whether a student should stay in school is just that ... an opinion, which may or may not be based in fact.

    D. The inference that someone somewhere will be deposed as part of a lawsuit sometime, is a horrible reason to act in any particular way. Do the right thing or don't, who cares if there is liability (this is bad as doing things for "tax reasons" and usually ends just as well.

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  173. What are you the devil 8:06? Your thought process is as wrong as your lettering system.

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