Monday, November 7, 2011

They write letters

This email from a 2007 graduate of a top ten law school -- that is, from someone whose fellow alums are on average better off than more than 95% of law students -- gives some indication of how much the present and future crisis for recent law grads stretches beyond the last couple of classes:



I wanted to thank you for taking the time to honestly confront what is happening in the legal market.  My wife and I both graduated from Michigan law in 2007 - and we really enjoyed our time in Ann Arbor.  My fellow students were bright and engaging - and many of my professors (Rich Friedman, Mathias Reimann, Vik Khanna, and Christina Whittman) were fantastic.  There were a few faculty that did not seem to care or have time for students - but we learned to avoid their classes rather quickly.  And since we were in law school when the economy was doing well - and we all got multiple job offers - everything seemed great.  And though we graduated with $340,000 in loans (the capitalized interest adds up) - we had a plan to pay it off. 

Of course - a year after graduation - firms started laying people off.  My wife saw a number of friends and colleagues lose their jobs.  Some people were laid off six months into their first year.  Layoffs happened at my firm as well.  And we all knew people from the class of 07 - who were let go suddenly - and could not get another job.  We spent two years watching smart capable people lose their jobs, and it was all we could do to just hold on.  Meanwhile - our firms cut back on hiring - and each class kept getting deferred.  I had former summer mentees calling me to ask if I knew whether they would ever be able to start - and I had no answers. 

Through it all - my wife and have been fortunate to stay employed - and as a result we have scrimped and saved and paid off $244K in loans.  Of course when I tell family members that we still have $96K in student loan debt - they cannot believe it.  But I am hopeful that we have a shot at paying it all off reasonably soon. 

Most of our law school friends that were laid off eventually found new jobs.  But it took some of them more than a year to find anything.  In addition, many of them are now working for a fraction of their previous salaries in non-legal jobs - which makes it unlikely that they will ever be able to pay off their loans. (emphasis added)  And the lost classes of 2009/2010 - have almost no hope.  And as you have noted -- there has been a major shift in legal hiring by law firms - and there are huge numbers of jobs that are not coming back for the foreseeable future. 

So now - more than ever - all law schools need to be honest with prospective students about employment prospects.  I would love to see the ABA pursue the AMA model - and close down about 100 law schools.  But that won't happen as long as the money continues to come in from student loans. 

All of which makes your blog even more important.  Thank you for giving voice to the real problems that many graduates are facing - and also diving into the stark reality of law school loans and the legal market. 

If there is anything I can do to help with the petition for law school transparency, please let me know.  I am happy to contact the faculty members at Michigan that I still have good relationships with to ask for their support. 

On a related front - I have been asked by the career development office at my undergraduate alma mater to serve as a resource for students interested in law school.  I agreed to get involved as long as they understood that I was going to tell students about the real problems and costs of going to law school today.  I also shared your blog with the Director of the CDO at [this school] - and it made a real impression.  I am working on putting together a more formal presentation for students that helps them understand the real costs and benefits of law school today - so they can make a more informed choice.   

I know that this project has made your life a lot more difficult - but I wanted you to know that it has made a difference already.  Even those of us who have been lucky to be employed know there is a real problem.  And until your blog came along - it seemed like everyone knew something was wrong - but no one could explain it.  Your writing has clarified the issues - and raised a lot of awareness.  And now the rest of us have to do our part and speak up as well.  Thank you for helping us realize that.

I normally redact the superfluous complimentary parts of emails I publish, as I find that sort of self-praise when others engage in it quite grating, but I'm publishing all of this one because, in addition to several other important points it makes, it highlights the extent to which any amount of speaking out will often inspire others to do the same.  Just as keeping silent when one should not can have devastating effects, speaking out when one should can do more good than the speaker could have reasonably anticipated.

87 comments:

  1. At what point are people going to stop whining, and starting doing something?

    There are tons of ways you can put *real pressure* on the ABA and law schools to change.

    1. Prepare a website listing every professor and administrator and whether they are for or against the auditing of job placement statistics. We have a right to know who is standing in the way.

    2. This idea:
    http://qfora.com/jdu/thread.php?threadId=21481

    3. A protest at a law school. A walkout. Something.

    4. Talking to professors and administrators about the problem, to express your concerns, IN THE REAL WORLD.

    But no let's keep preaching to the choir.

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  2. Professor, why do you seem to cater to the opinions of the elites of our industry? Is it because now they are also finally hurting? Is their pain so important to post here because they went to a top school? I went to NYU, does that make my opinion more valid than theirs?

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  3. 5. Posting anonymous comments on blogs to try and shame other people into doing your dirty work.

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  4. How about mobilizing to vote younger lawyers into the ranks of the state bar associations and ABA delegates? There are 40-50K new bar passers every year. The last 10 years of graduates have to number in the hundreds of thousands at least.

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  5. what is "dirty" about not being a frightened coward?

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  6. great idea 11:17. in ten years, problem solved.

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  7. I'd just like to point out that two people who graduated in 2007, over 4 years ago from a public school, both ended up with roughly $170,000 each in debt. Tuition and interest rates have both increased dramatically since that time.

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  8. 1. All you need is a complete list of the graduates of a given year from one of the top 20 law schools, or, better yet, one of the lower tier schools.

    2. With that information, one person or a group of people can make 400+ phonecalls and/or emails to ascertain the employment information for these individuals if it isn't readily available online.

    3.Then compare THAT data to what was published in US News and World Report for that same year..and WATCH THE SCHOOLS SWEAT BULLETS.

    Let their "figures" be compared to the REAL RAW DATA. No more of this statistical sampling bullshit.

    They have 400 graduates?

    Question 1:
    How many were employed 9 months out in legal positions of those 400?

    Question 2:
    How much debt did they have for law school?


    Question 3:
    How much was their starting salary?
    (0-50K)
    (50K-100K)
    (100K-150K)
    (>150K)


    Over and done with. This is simple math folks. Let the numbers fall where they may, but it is RIDICULOUS that the law schools are continuing to cover up what should be SIMPLE ANALYSIS.

    3-4 EASY STEPS TO TRUTH...and THAT is it. How freakin' hard can this truly be?

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  9. 11:36: When they started law school in 2004 out of state tuition at UM was $32,000. This year it's nearly $50,000.

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  10. Preview your comments before posting because there is some glitch which shows them as posting, and then they are not there once you come back to it.

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  11. Michigan is essentially a private school. Less than 5 percent of its budget comes from the state.

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  12. 11:07: I don't mean to focus unduly on the situation among the legal elites, but one benefit of focusing on them is that it somewhat lessens the opportunities for victim-blaming, in which legal academia excels (If you have huge debt and no job you should have gone to a better school/gotten better grades/not been naive enough to assume employment stats published by schools were accurate etc). When people graduating near the top of their classes at top 20 schools, and in the middle of their classes at top five schools, are getting hammered, it makes it harder to maintain this defense system.

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  13. 11:20 We could do it right now. Get them elected to County Bar Associations, who send delegates to the NYSBA and then the ABA.

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  14. Yeah, but Lawprof only caters for extremists and disgruntled law students . . . .

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  15. This is simple math. No more of this statistical sampling bullshit.

    1. We need to obtain the list of the 400+ graduates from one of the top 20 UN&WR school and also from a lower tier school for a given year.

    2. With that information, we could then call/contact those individuals about their employment information if it weren't already available online.

    3. We can then compare the RAW REAL DATA with what the schools reported to UN&WR.

    4. Then let the schools SWEAT BULLETS as the STRIKING CONTRAST in data speaks for itself.


    Just ask them

    1. Did you have a legal job 9 months after graduation that required both your law degree and/or bar passage?

    2. What was your law school debt burden upon graduation?

    3. What was your starting salary in THAT legal job you had 9 months out from graduation?
    (<50K)
    (50K-100K)
    (100K-150K)
    (>150K)


    There you have it folks. The TRUTH in freakin' 1-3 EASY steps.
    This can and should be EASY.

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  16. Yes but Professor you are just buying into their stupid arguments. All of them should be dismiss doug of hand. They are not relevant. Those people are the problem.

    And even if you take those arguments at face value it shows how morally corrupt they are. Should those people be accepting $30-$50 grand a year from people who "should have gone to a better school/gotten better grades/not been naive enough to assume employment stats published by schools were accurate etc"? They can't have it both ways.

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  17. The author of this letter is not really a good example. He and his wife hit the BigLaw lottery jackpot. They are paying off their loans.

    It would be far more useful to post examples from T14 grads who were around median, then got nothing. Those grads, even at median in T14, are within the top 15% of the total law school grads nationally each year.

    If the median grads at T14 are failing, then the legal academic circles have no defense.

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  18. The author realizes how lucky he is in comparison to many of his law school classmates. That's the point. We're still at a stage of this thing where most people who did reasonably well at top schools and got crushed anyway are still to a significant extent blaming themselves, as they've been taught to do.

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  19. I guess we should have thought ahead and just been old sooner.

    http://news.yahoo.com/us-wealth-gap-between-young-old-widest-ever-050259922.html;_ylt=AlYbsmwi7w9Cm0lkNmXpdbMDW7oF;_ylu=X3oDMTRiZmY2MXZsBGNjb2RlA2N0LmMEbWl0A01vc3RQb3B1bGFyIExpc3RpbmcEcGtnAzg5MGU2ZTA4LWViMDYtM2Y5Mi1hOGJhLTYyNzQzOWE0YTE1YwRwb3MDNQRzZWMDTW9zdCBQb3B1bGFyBHZlcgNlNzQxMGM2ZS0wOTc1LTExZTEtOTEyOS03ZmZkYjAwMjgwODM-;_ylg=X3oDMTFsNnAxMGFjBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANwb3B1bGFyBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25z;_ylv=3

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  20. Original author here -- my point was that we did get lucky with biglaw jobs - and then were lucky again - and we survived multiple rounds of layoffs. And even after all of that (or because of it) - we have taken every dollar not spent on housing and basic food and put it towards loans - and we still have nearly a $100K to go. Given all of this - it is obvious that the system is broken.

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  21. @1:13pm Thank you for your initial email and response. You make a a very valid point. If everything essentially WORKED and you are still having to struggle/cut corners, then that is very, very telling and alarming. It further underscores the supposition that only the very wealthy and/or those rare individuals with full scholarships are truly unencumbered. Everyone else automatically has the deck stacked against them at the onset.

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  22. And I admit that the system has been broken for most law schools for much longer. But when I asked my mentors about law school - the story that I heard was - if you are a savvy consumer (top student with ability to move for school) - you can make smart choices (go to a top school) and be fine (pay off loans with 6 figure salary - and then switch to something else after a few years) - even if there are too many lawyers and too many law schools. This narrative only worked if you ignored the harm to students at most law schools. And I assumed (wrongly) that most people had the same information or bias I did - and knew that paying 32K a year to go to a Tier 3 law school when a top 10 school cost the same was a bad idea. To be clear it was a bad idea because that much debt is crippling. If the Tier 3 school was a good local school and it cost 1/10th as much - then the cost/benefit analysis is lot different. But it turns out that most law schools have been doing a lot to obscure the facts. And yes - the story changed when "savvy" graduates found themselves without jobs or job prospects. Not because they are more worthy - but because most people made a very strategic choice to go to a top school. I know a lot of people who got the same advice I did when applying - don't go if you can't get into a top school - there are just too many lawyers and not enough legal jobs. So once students at these elite schools weren't able to get a jobs - the question (rightfully) became what is wrong with the system.

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  23. Do OP and wife both work for biglaw? If so, I'm amazed they still have that much debt left.

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  24. ^They paid off over 2/3 of their debt in four years. Given living expenses in a major legal market - it has to be or they wouldn't have the high salaries - I'd say they're doing quite well and have probably been very frugal.

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  25. 3:04,
    They're doing ok but I'd hardly call it very frugal. I make $160K although $1K per month is deducted (from net of course) to repay a firm loan and I'm paying my loans down way faster than they are. Of course I don't know their circumstances (kids, elder care, etc.) so I wouldn't pass judgment, but if they're typical law grads without other obligations the're not living that frugal of a life.

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  26. Jesus Christ, they're paying $4,500 of their net income every month to cover their loans ($244,000/54 months since graduation). Also, way to stay on topic.

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  27. don't underestimate how much taxes take.

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  28. I know exactly how much taxes take out.

    You do realize their net income was around $14K per month while they were first year's right? If you get a biglaw job (and obviously most people don't) the loans are very manageable.

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  29. ^3:38 are you also 3:23? If so, you're fairly clueless about living expenses in a major market. Even if you get a biglaw job, the loans are not that manageable. You basically have to live a very ascetic life in order to make a dent in your loans.

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  30. 3:42,
    I'm both yes (I'll use an alias to make it easier). I'm not clueless, I work at a big firm and I live in a major market so I know exactly what it's like. I'll tell ya life is pretty ascetic when you work at a large firm. You're working almost all the time and when you're not working you're sleeping or you just want to relax at home. Now, there's people I work with that live a very extravagent lifestyle. They hire people to clean their apartments, they shop online and buy all kinds of shit and they live outrageous apartments (who cares because you're never home). It's all about perspective and most people in biglaw have a really warped perspective of what normal life is like.

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  31. @1:28 wrote:
    "It further underscores the supposition that only the very wealthy and/or those rare individuals with full scholarships are truly unencumbered. Everyone else automatically has the deck stacked against them at the onset."
    ================================

    Even someone on fully scholarship is screwed. It costs $20k/yr just for living expenses. Most of those people still graduate with $60k+ in law school debt. So don't swallow the line that TT, TTT is fine on a full ride. It is not. $60k in debt for a useless degree still sucks.

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  32. To the person who said "it's only 4,500 per month of the salary 244/54.." Your figures don't factor in the interest that accrues on a loan. If a person paid $4,500 dollars the first month on a loan of 340k (with an average interest rate around 7%), only $2,500 would go towards principal and about $2,000 would go towards interest. Therefore, in the first year or two, the payments would have equal roughly $6,500 per month to reduce the loan balance at a rate of $4,500 per month. That's 50% of the couples combined after-tax biglaw salary. By far this is the biggest oversight law students make when assessing their ability to repay student loans (the other is accrued interest during their time in law school).

    You also have to remember that not all major markets are the same. Many mid major markets moved salaries to 145k a year. That's about $3,500 net after taxes every two weeks.

    Also, the thought that every Biglaw associate makes 160k a year plus bonuses and gets lock step raises each year is also untrue. There is huge unrest in Biglaw firms as associates and partners struggle to make hours. Many partners and associates do not make their quota. The result is that many associate's salaries are frozen, some associates are laid off, and bonuses are non-existant. Associates don't complain because they are "just happy to have a job." Nobody complains about not receiving a bonus, because really, what other options do you have? When you work as an associate in Biglaw, now moreso than ever before, you're a fungible billing unit. Associates know they can be replaced and there are thousands of qualified graduates from good schools looking for work, so many people pay off as much of the loans as they can, while at the same time trying to build a nest-egg in case something happens (lay-offs, etc.).
    Also, Biglaw is notorious for having very poor health care plans. For example, an associate can expect to pay $400 per paycheck for healthcare for him/her and a spouse. Also, 401k will eat into your paycheck as well.

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  33. OP here - I will simply say that the math isn't as simple as it seems. anon5 is right that our first year take home pay was very reasonable (~13.3K a month.) But we knew that most people did not spend ten years working at a law firm - so we wanted to pay off our loans as fast as possible. To pay off 244K of principle in 4 years - we paid an average of $5800 a month (~$280K total). It was actually a little higher initially since the private loans were pegged to the Libor rate and briefly moved to over 9% at one point. When that happened - we doubled down on pasta and spent every extra dollar paying those off first. We also owned a house that we couldn't sell for over a year - so our housing costs were higher than average - which limited our ability to pay more than 43% of our net income to loans. Nonetheless, I doubt anyone else from my class was spending over 40% of their take home pay on loans each month. Fortunately - our federal loans were fixed at an avg rate of 7%. Of course after we paid off our private loans we had a kid - and moved. And again we were lucky and grateful - our daughter is healthy - and we can afford good child-care. But we both can't work at law firms forever - and so we are trying to spend every extra dollar on loan repayment before one of us has to leave. The resulting lifestyle isn't devoid of comfort - but it isn't extravagant either. I know how lucky we are - and if we have struggled to make this work - I don't know how law schools can claim that there is no problem.

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  34. To the OP, your combined income was only $13.3K per month? Two biglaw salaries from T14 schools? Is that $13.3k after taxes? That seems low. I would have expected $20k per month with each of you above $120,000 individually.

    If you were paying off $244k of principle on $13.3k per month, that is actually quite amazing. My congrats on having that sort of discipline. 40%+ of income towards loans is amazing.

    Now everyone else should consider that 90% of law grads don't make that much, but still could easily have the same amount of debt. $170,000 in student loans is not atypical. $40,000 for tuition and $15,000 for living expenses will get you there in 3 years.

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  35. 6:22- I completely agree - the debt is practically insurmountable without that kind of income. $13.3k a month isn't a surprise when you factor in the marriage penalty and the higher tax bracket - plus 401k and healthcare costs....it works out to ~ 50% net

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  36. Look at how any fiscally responsible BigLaw associate with 150k in loans lives. In many cases it's by no means glamorous or extravagent. At my Biglaw firm, the running joke among 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years is that the assistants and staff drive nicer cars than we do and own homes. If you're lucky enough to get that Biglaw job, just wait until you get that first paycheck, then come back and post about how much money you're making and how fast you're paying off loans.

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  37. OP thanks for sharing your story

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  38. Personal finance note:

    I am surprised at how impressed everyone is that this guy and his wife share expenses and pay 40%+ of net to loans in BigLaw in a major market.

    I live alone, in Manhattan, and thus don't get to share any expenses. I'm a midlevel making market. By choice I pay only about 10-15% of my net salary and bonus to loans (they are six figures, but pretty low interest). But I save about another 45% of my net salary and bonus, NOT including 401k, which I max out. So, exclusive of loans, I live on about 30% of my net. This means 30% to live, 10-15% loans, 55-60% savings/401k.

    You don't need to own a home yet, you don't need nice stuff. If you are determined to do something other than BigLaw, you can structure your life so that it is possible.

    BigLaw firms depend on you not doing this, on you acting as though you have "arrived" when you start making $160K. Whether you want to stay up all night doing BigLaw work really is a choice.

    (I realize many folks would be happy to have this choice. Just saying that if you have that opportunity, it *is* a choice.)

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  39. 7:58- so your total living costs in Manhattan are $3100 a month and you live alone?

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  40. 8:24: slightly more, maybe $3600 (rent/utils/food/entertainment). I guess this does not include metrocard since that comes out of my paycheck, but that's ok, that still lowers my calculation of net income (along with health insurance and the other pretax deductions). For me the key has been reining in shopping and eating out and bars, and taking reasonable vacations (everyone spends money on different things).

    You just don't need all the stuff you tell yourself you need, and that your coworkers use to measure their self-worth by. One caveat would be that when you are starting out, you have a lot of start-up costs (furniture, moving, work clothing). But then you should be good. Ppl complain about how their parents never had debt--true. I'd trade my financial situation for theirs when they were my age. But you know what? They also did not do the amount of travel and eating and going out that people in our generation do, to say nothing of flat screens and cable/dvr/premium channels and iPhones etc.

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  41. "They also did not do the amount of travel and eating and going out that people in our generation do, to say nothing of flat screens and cable/dvr/premium channels and iPhones etc."

    Speak for yourself re: the weekend trips to Paris, and who cares about tech stuff?

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  42. OP here- glad to hear that you have been able to cut living expenses down to 34% of your net income. Life is all about choices. As you noted you don't have kids and you are making a mid-level market salary. We have double the loans but not double the salary since my wife has been frozen for quite a while - and a child with all of the attendant costs. Your loans are also at a low interest rate so making minimum payments makes sense....bottom line-everyone has to make the best choices for them. We chose to put close to 45% of our net income towards loans and also have a family....and save for emergencies and fund our 401ks. None of this involves buying things for status or trying

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  43. In your post asking for signatures for your petition you said that you wouldn't reveal any names until you had at least one hundred signatures. But, you essentially revealed two signers in your post yesterday. How can anyone trust you now?

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  44. OP -- to keep with anyone else.

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  45. OP -- you guys are doing awesome. Seriously, more power to you.

    I was just saying, if you make market, devoting the % of your net that you do to loans and/or savings is very doable. If you are married, don't have kids, and/or don't live in NYC, it's even more doable (we each have some of these economic benefits/burdens).

    -7:58

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  46. "Speak for yourself re: the weekend trips to Paris, and who cares about tech stuff?"

    I do think ppl in our generation spend a lot of money on weddings and all the associated fanfare, not to mention all forms of excuses for travel (spring break, summer break, bar trip, etc. and of course bachelor/ette parties and weddings). May not be wkds in Paris but a wkd in Vegas might be just as expensive. TV's and iPhones etc. -- do you realize how much these things actually cost? Sure those two devices only run you a grand total, but the service on them both combined is probably $2400 *each year* including taxes ($100 for each service x 2 services (cable & wireless contracts) x 12 mos). That is a serious chunk of income.

    I realize this is veering off-topic, but it started from this post's discussion of personal financial decisions.

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  47. Anon5 here,
    Sorry for disappearing, glad to see a few others agree with me regarding how one can pay down the loans and live a reasonable lifestyle. As I noted earlier, OP has certain circumstances (kids and the carrying cost of the house) that others don't have which of course changes the equation.
    OP you graduated around when I did, didn't your school have a preferred lender? Mine did and by signing up for electronic payments my interest rate on my federal loans went from 6.8% to 4.3%.
    FWIW, I pay $1500 a month rent, have roommates and have about 80K that I'm putting towards loans this year (no 401k contributions this year). I'll be making that up next year when I'm not repaying my law firm loan. I'm happy with my life and I don't feel that I want for anything. I go out to eat two or three times a month with my significant other to modest restaurants and we usually enjoy wine at home. It's not a rockstar lifestyle, but I'm comfortable and happy I have a lifestyle that won't keep me chained to biglaw forever.

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  48. OP, disregard the amateur mathematicians in the comments, your letter to LawProf is very useful.

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  49. "I do think ppl in our generation spend a lot of money on weddings and all the associated fanfare, not to mention all forms of excuses for travel (spring break, summer break, bar trip, etc. and of course bachelor/ette parties and weddings). "

    Again, speak for your motherf*cking self.

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  50. Look at Brian Leiter's latest post.

    http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/2011/11/what-do-you-need-to-find-out-now-that-youve-gotten-a-tenuretrack-offer.html

    Amazing stuff.

    1. Notice how *salary* is actually an important thing to law professors, especially salary during Summers off (doing "research.")

    2. Notice how career expectations are a hugely important thing to law professors. They want a "timeline" so they can know where they will be in X years. Too bad their students get no such timeline, at least not a non-fraudulent one.

    3. What "research leave" policy does the school have? Is research leave paid, I imagine?!

    4. MAKE SURE YOU'RE TEACHING THE SAME COURSE EACH YEAR, BECAUSE TEACHING A NEW COURSE IS HUGELY TIME CONSUMING. Didn't Prof. Campos state this exact point in his inaugural post?

    5. More money grubbing. Professors sure do like money!

    6. Finally, he closes with a nice little nepotism entitlement. I guess Neitzche had no moral qualms about giving favoritism in hiring to family members.

    Brian Leiter is really an amazing piece of work.

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  51. @1.18 - Amazing. Note how the word "students" does not appear once in the article. Apparently you don't need to know a damn thing about them, except that you need to teach the same classes every year, otherwise the workload (you know, doing the thing that pays for everything else) might get "too much" (yeah, like 10 hours-a-week or something).

    Check out the responses for profs and dean underneath.

    People commenting on the importance of engaging with students, and ensuring that the school you're going to is one where this will happen:

    Mike Livingston.

    Kim Lane Scheppele.

    That's it. The remaining 7 profs all concentrated on how best to feather their already-very-comfortable beds. The sense of entitlement is astounding.

    I mean, seriously, in how many other industries could you get away with trying to get the firm to offer your wife/hubby a job as well? Even well-paid expat gigs - where the significant other is often dumped into a totally alien society - don't normally offer this.

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  52. Actually it is not uncommon at all for private companies to give assistance to spouses of new employees and, if needed, hire them as well. It is seen as a valuable recruiting tool.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=unBG-ablVW0C&pg=PA58&lpg=PA58&dq=spouse+hires+companies+private+companies&source=bl&ots=q34GOGhw5W&sig=QAbt6sdCaGhQIw0LmL1S8-LYC-8&hl=en&ei=CxK5TuaCFYTM2AWc9JXKBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAzgU#v=onepage&q&f=false

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  53. Don't poison the well by displaying a sense of entitlement and self-importance before you even get through the door. Remember: no matter how good you are, you're quite dispensable--in almost every instance, you need the job more than the school needs you. . . . A good school doesn't need a prima donna.

    No comment necessary.

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  54. anon5 - how can you put 80K towards loans in a year ($6667 a month - when you only make $160K (monthly gross is $13,333)? According to your earlier posts - you are paying $1500 in rent, $1000 towards a firm loan, and $6667 towards loans - for a total outlay of $9167 before food, utilities, or anything else.

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  55. U of Illinois Law School Used False LSAT/GPA data: http://ingeneralcounsel.blogspot.com/2011/11/law-school-our-lsat-data-was-bogus.html

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  56. This trend needs to go NATIONAL:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/higher-education/u-of-ill-investigation-finds-law-school-dean-was-to-blame-for-inflated-gpas-lsats-posted/2011/11/07/gIQAmow3wM_story.html

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  57. Yup, 6 YEARS OF FALSE DATA: http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/illinois_law_admits_to_six_years_of_false_lsat_gpa_data/

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  58. And Illinois is a TIER ONE SCHOOL FOLKS. Blaming it on ONE PERSON. YEAH RIGHT. Don't you know that he got a handsome payout to keep his mouth shut and take the fall for the collusion of all involved. It is rather doubtful that ONE LONE person had the PERSONAL and SINGULAR DESIRE to inflate all those metrics for his own personal thrill.

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  59. 6:17,
    I saved a large part of the firm loan, so as I "earn" it back I'm counting that as money available to repay the loans ($10K so far). I've paid $15K so far this year and I have $60K sitting in the bank that I am going to put towards the loans (no idea why I haven't yet, it's certainly not doing anything for me in the bank). The rest will come from Nov and Dec pay.

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  60. Apropos Leiter:

    Being a law professor is a good job that comes with bargaining power. It is not akin to becoming a junior X in any industry (not just law). It is akin to becoming - surprise! - a medical school professor, business school professor, econ prof, etc. And guess what? These are exactly the concerns they have.

    I think what you are experiencing is jealousy/envy (e.g., insulting a policy granting "research leave") rather than making a genuine criticism. I have friends in different departments in academia (I'm not myself in it). Every one of them will tell you how critical it is to have time off to publish, especially pre-tenure. Your criticism here seems to be that these people have the time and money to research and write, which you think sounds like fun, and are able to do so because they teach at a school that pays for it. That describes 100% of good schools in this country, not only law school. You're just jealous of your old professors.

    I say to LawProf: get back to transparency. The only thing that might make this situation unfair is that those paying for this might not understand, based on law schools' own data, their likely employment outcomes. Further, that is the only thing separating a law school degree from a degree in a hundred other things that also do not yield outsized economic outcomes (too many examples to list, but try private school social work degrees for starters) (and don't tell me that work is "fulfilling," your whole point is that "fulfilling" doesn't pay the bills.

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  61. Look...even good ol' Yale knows that it has to shoe-horn an MBA in with its JD to make even its grads marketable. Coincidence? Nope.

    Just keep stacking those letters up behind each graduate's name. It is obvious that the cost of the law degree isn't worth it; therefore, they pad it by adding on yet another degree. Gotta justify those costs somehow!!:)

    http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2011/nov/08/yale-approves-jdmba-program/

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  62. Coming Soon to an Ivy League near you: The Yale JD/LLM/MBA/PHD/MD Program.

    If you throw enough shit at the wall, something has gotta stick.

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  63. " . . . a medical school professor, business school professor, econ prof, etc . . ,"

    You would have a bit more of a point if these people:

    1) Received the kind of compensation that law profs do (According to Salary.com econ prof averages: 99K, prof. of business administration: 103K, Medicine: 135K, Law: 147K).

    2) Produced the kind of useless research and education that law profs largely do.

    3) The students of most of these people, having been presented with misleading statistics showing a high likelihood of finding well-paid employment on graduation, were instead being tipped, unceremoneously, into a blood-bath of a job market without even the slightest degree of interest in this situation from the professors whose salaries their students pay.

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  64. And all of those profs, plus those in every other discipline and all administrators, will have to face the music when the edu-bubble bursts.

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  65. @ 7:12

    Why should the discussion be limited to transparency?

    Please explain to me why the Federal Tax Payer should guarantee and pay for inflated higher education salaries, particularly law school professor salaries. In what other industry, other than WS and banking, can so much failure exist, and yet, the government pays out whatever the industry wants in spite of producing the failed result.

    It doesn’t matter anymore if the students are irresponsible. The Federal Tax Payer should not guarantee people’s gambling debts in this fashion. Moreover, the consequence for idiot borrowers in this industry far outweighs anything else that exists anywhere because of the non-dischargeability of the loans. So essentially, the Tax Payer is paying black jack dealers at a casino whatever salary they demand, while permanently destroying and/or severely harming 95% of the players. Rationale? Since 5% win, and since some of those 5% would not have had the opportunity to play without the guarantee, the (i) inflated price of the gambling (ii) paid for by an uninvolved and innocent third party (Tax Payer) is (iii) warranted because irrespective of the damage done to the remaining 95% the 5% succeed.

    This is absurd.

    My classmates and I deserve to suffer. We scorned fine careers set up for us by the elite: firemen, cops, urban trades, etc. We could have had a life that is infinitely better than what we have now, and even better than some of the “winners” of the LS game. Most of the things Leiter talked about in the post cited above are important to everyone in any careers, and people in the careers I mentioned have a lot of those things without student loan debt or opportunity cost loss. We rejected that for “prestige” despite the fact that our parents were not rich, and despite the fact that we were not incredible (incredible means capable of getting admitted into Yale, Harvard, or Stanford, period). We deserve to suffer for this, and we are responsible for the hell we built for ourselves, at least partially.

    Yet I ask again: WHY SHOULD THIS ENTERPRISE BE FUNDED BY THE GOVERNMENT IN THIS MANNER UNDER THE CURRENT CIRCUMSTANCES?

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  66. 1) and 2) are just wrong. You're looking at the wrong figures.

    As to 1), B school profs make most of their money consulting etc., and they have unbelievable budgets for research and other things; the post is a perch and neither the publishing nor the teaching requirements are as demanding. Med school profs: I don't know for sure how they make their money, but does this include their salary from seeing patients (as part of their appointment, not on the side)? This seems very low.

    As to 2), do you think research produced by B school profs is generally better or more socially beneficial than by lawprofs? (Have you seen Inside Job?!) I guess it is possible this is true -- I have never looked into it -- but it seems unlikely. As to med school professors, this seems likely.

    3) This is what I alluded to: the need to emphasize transparency. If someone wants to pay $50K a year for a master's in social work, no one thinks that person should be stopped. To get to the same place with legal education -- which is ultimately a better place for everyone -- misleading employment statistics need to be abolished. Even statistics would be better than bad statistics.

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  67. *Even NO statistics would be better than bad statistics.

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  68. @8.37 - RE 1) & 2), it's great to through up a wall of blather, but if you're going to cast doubt on the salary stats as they are, you need to come up with better stats.

    As for no employment statistics for graduates being better, that's pretty much the situation in England & Wales - yet there's still a total over-supply of would-be lawyers there. The difference in England & Wales is that they don't get to be lawyers unless they can get a contract, and only have to have 1 or 2 years of vocational school-learning before starting as a trainee (depending on whether they did an LLB at undergraduate), and the fees are much lower. The result is that whilst a lot of people go into debt pursuing a career that will not materialise, they do not take on crippling debt to do so.

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  69. Nov 7, 12:13:

    If it's so easy, feel free to do it.

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  70. Hey ANDY. Doesn't anyone have the email addresses for those in their class or know what the mass mail group list for your particular class is? Type it up and send it. SIMPLE.

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  71. @8:35am So, you basically think people should KNOW THEIR PLACE, huh?

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  72. The AMA comment is dead on point! The ABA's leadership has been absolutely toilet compared to the doctor guild. The AMA not only restricts medical schools from creating unnecessary and doctor-damaging oversupply, they effectively lobby to block alternatives to doctor care (such as midwifery) and effectively lobby to shield doctors from responsibility for the damage caused by their failures. Meanwhile the ABA can't find the "approved" stamp fast enough to authorize every Cooley from opening *yet another branch!!!* That's where a lot of the ire should be directed; the gross incompetence at the head of the ABA.

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  73. ABA is not incompetent, it's just self serving.

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  74. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203554104577000023072914382.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

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  75. 12:02, the AMA is self serving too. The difference is competence.

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  76. The ABA can't limit the number of law schools because of antitrust laws. You guys did go to law school?

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  77. They also think the ABA can wave a wand and close 100 schools. The ABA can deny accreditation, but there are unaccredited schools out there.

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  78. @ 10:45

    People are free to KNOW or NOT KNOW their place. If people think that careers like a cop where you start a career at 20, where you reach a 90k base salary at 26, with the potential to make 30k in overtime, retire with a 60-100k pension at 50, and the ability to start another career at 50 is bad, then please, forego such opportunities.

    I forewent those opportunities, and let me tell you, I have a lot of “presTTTige.” Sure, I make less than guys doing that line of work, I work more hours than them, I have no benefits, I sustained massive opportunity loss, I lost precious youth, no interest group in society protects my interests, but hey, I have a lot of esoteric value, am I right?

    I also showed those rich kids that I am the same as them, and I showed them I didn’t KNOW my place. When their done with their ninth unpaid internship, while mom and dad pays the bills for them to live in Manhattan, Chicago, or La, drive a nice car, and pay off their student loans, they will have demonstrated “commitment” to the field of law. The kind of commitment to public service and the legal profession that makes them more palpable practitioners than their greedy middle class and poor counterparts that want to make money practicing law. After all, it’s a privilege to be lawyer- a privilege worth any cost.

    What’s more, once we enact transparency, more informed legal applicants deluded lemmings can make the rational and informed decision that a 5% chance at repaying their debt make sense, after all they are smarter than everyone else. Yes, they can make this perfectly rational decision courtesy of the United States Tax Payer, after all, if even one person can succeed going to Law School, and they are denied the opportunity to practice, this is a greater tragedy than over 20,000 being permanently crippled. This is especially true if those 20,000 had the right numbers in front of them to make such an informed decision. Also, the cost sustained by the Tax Payer is not an issue because since professors enable at least one person to succeed from every graduating class, and since Michael Livingston IX needs the appearance of legitimacy, i.e. that education and success in white collar America is purely a meritocratic enterprise, well, the Tax Payer should be thrilled to pay 200k plus salaries to secure this endeavor, costs and collateral damage be damned.

    But here’s the real fucking bottom line. People don’t have a right to be stupid with other people’s money, whether those people are WS analysts, banking executives, or law students. If you think you are better than a cop, plumber, or electrician, convince a private bank to lend you money to go. The fact that they won’t because Michael Livingston IX’s father is going to bust a load in your face when you graduate is not the Tax Payer’s problem.

    So if you have an ego that doesn’t match the last name on your birth certificate, or an IQ that exceeds 145 with the LSAT (north of 172 unless you are a minority, in which case, north of a 167) and GPA to boot, transparency does not translate into your right to gamble with other people’s money.

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  79. 2:08, I guarantee I've forgotten more competition law than you'll ever know. Quit spouting the weak ABA line that allows them cover to allow garbage "schools" like Cooley to continue pumping unemployable "lawyers" on the market. The AMA does *exactly that* and it is faces no antitrust exposure. Further, with the garbage schools over-represented in more outrageous ethical violations (e.g. the Joseph Rakofskys), the ABA has plenty of pretext to scrub its imprimatur off the filth (e.g. Cooley/Touro) at the bottom.

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  80. Sorry 2:08, that should be 1:55. But your point lacks validity as well; the ABA could make life almost impossible for the unaccredited schools if it wanted to be an effective guild.

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  81. My point was that the ABA can't simply close 100 schools. The point stands.

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  82. @2:08: for some reason I think that that those uncredited law schools did not even try to get an accreditation. They have a different business model.

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  83. Ever hear of the 1996 ABA consent decree. See http://www.justice.gov/atr/public/press_releases/2006/216804.htm and http://www.justice.gov/atr/public/press_releases/1995/0257.htm. "The powerful status of the ABA does not insulate it from the antitrust laws," said Bingaman. "The Antitrust Division has sued many professional trade associations, which, like the ABA, have violated the antitrust laws. Lawyers must keep their own house in order as well."

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  84. I could not agree with this letter more

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  85. While somewhat envious of the biglaw commentor, who is making far more than I am as a (state) government attorney, I think it's interesting to hear his perspective, and can't fault him for grabbing the golden ring. The one advantage of government work is that US-government backed loans can be forgiven after 10 years. While this will only take care of half my loans, at least it's something, and at least I'm employed. For some perspective, I graduated in 2001, when things were great, and still had to work at $20K-$50K/year at small firms that offered no health insurance until I stumbled into government.

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  86. The reference to the AMA and its move a century ago to reform medical education is an excellent model for the ABA to implement. The end product of the reforms that came out of the Flexner Report included a more rigorous educational process that increased the quality of physicians, the elimination of for-profit schools and along with that a huge reduction in the number of graduates. A Flexner Report-style overhaul of legal education might not only cut new graduate numbers by shutting down schools of lesser caliber but also serve as a springboard to introduce actual preparation to enter the practice of law rather than the theoretical underpinnings that law schools stop at today. The result would be a legal education pipeline that is leaner and better focused on the needs of future lawyers.

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