Friday, April 20, 2012

Stories from all over

(1) Business Insider has published a story about ten recent law graduates.  This sort of thing is useful in that it puts human faces on otherwise soulless data (as a very distinguished law school dean once said, one ruined career is a tragedy, 100,000 ruined careers is a statistic).   Anecdotes can be dismissed as anecdotal, and moreover American culture loves to turn structural social disasters into morality tales about Hard Work and Individual Responsibility; nevertheless personal narratives will speak to some people who are relatively impervious to other kinds of arguments.  And it's a sign of progress when a national publication treats the drastic lack of law jobs for people with law degrees as more like a well-known fact than a shocking revelation.

(2) LSAC is jacking up the cost of applying to law school (h/t TaxProf).  In the wacky world of monopolist pricing the following quote from the LSAC's President regarding why a sharp decline in the demand for his organization's services means its time to raise the prices for them sharply makes a certain amount of twisted sense:

"This mode of doing business probably was sustainable in an environment of record-level candidate volumes," Bernstine wrote. "Today, with successive double-digit volume declines and significant operating deficits, it's sustainable no longer."
People (for now) have to take the LSAT if they're going to apply to law school, and the marginal cost of doing so probably has almost no effect on the volume of applicants -- the cost of applying to law school accounts for about one of every one thousand dollars in direct and opportunity costs that the average matriculant will spend attending law school -- so LSAC, far more than even law schools themselves, can still raise prices with relative impunity.  

(3) I've been contacted by several people who attended Cornell's admitted students' weekend recently regarding statements made by the career services dean about how many 2011 Cornell grads got jobs with big firms.  The dean stated that 55% of the class did, when stats posted by the school itself on its web site indicate 38.8% of the class got jobs with firms of more than 100 attorneys.  When some members of the audience raised questions about this discrepancy the administrator at first replied that the 55% figure referred to jobs at graduation rather than at nine months (which makes no sense unless you assume a third of Cornell grads who went into big law in the fall of 2011 had gotten fired by February), and before he "ran out of the room," claiming he was out of time.

It seems likely that what happened here is that the career services dean mistakenly quoted class of 2010 numbers regarding how many Cornell grads got jobs with NLJ250 firms when referring to the class of 2011 -- it stretches credulity that he would intentionally mis-characterize information that the school itself had already posted on its website.  But this is yet another cautionary tale about the level of basic competence that often seems lacking among law school administrative personnel in general and CSO people in particular.

We all make mistakes, but as I've said in related contexts, what does this person get paid a (likely well into six figures salary) for except to know things like this? Cornell went from placing more than three quarters of its class in big law in 2010 (when 58% of the class got NLJ250 jobs, and no less than 76% of the class took jobs with firms of more than 100 attorneys) to putting less than two of every five of its most recent class into such positions. That is obviously a fact that would be of considerable significance to many if not most of the people visiting the school for the ASW event, yet the person whose institutional role is precisely to answer questions regarding such things wasn't able to do so accurately.  As I've also said in related contexts, law schools have pretty much forfeited the right to be given the benefit of the doubt in these situations, so minimal competence is a must if they want to avoid the appearance of serious impropriety.
 

39 comments:

  1. Inadvertent mistake. They say it all the time.

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  2. I read the story about the ten recent law grads and there's something that I find deeply disturbing. Many of them share how screwed they are yet state that they don't regret having gone to law school. Is this some sick way to avoid admitting they made a HUGE mistake? Why wouldn't you want to trade all that debt for a worthless degree that has nothing to do with what you are doing now?

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  3. 9:48,
    Not only that, but several of them imply that they don't even want a traditional law firm job. The way they word it makes it seem like they could have a traditional law firm job if they wanted it. Not the best picks for that article.

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  4. It's all rationalizations and trying to look better in print for ego driven purposes. Everyone but the Michigan law grad wouldn't be able to even sniff a Big
    Law job. Just the reality of today's market.

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  5. 9:48 and 9:51:

    When I read the Business Insider article, I had your feelings as well but I also felt as though the article was just another piece of media advertising the versatility of a law degree. In other words, it seemed as though these people were in a bad spot but then a happy ending was had by all because....they received a law degree.

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  6. If only they'd worked harder, they would probably be partners at a big law firm by now.

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  7. That also caught my attention, the girl on food stamps that says a fancy corporate job is not what she wants to do, as if she could just pick up the phone and ask to start Monday. If graduates that have already been dirty sanchezed by the law school scam are this delusional, one can ALMOST understand those sad lemmings.

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  8. I totally agree with 10:00. It was basically a "Hey kids! don't worry if you don't get a job coming out of law school! You can always: open your own altruistic law practice, start an awesome business helping guys score some chicks, be a stud that works at ESPN, or save our country's youth as vice-president of delopment at the YMCA!"

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  9. Hard Work + Individual Responsibility = I'm a Special Snowflake.

    Off topic, but what the hell: I start a part-time volunteer position next week. I can guarantee it will not lead to employment. Seriously. There is no job waiting. I will be taking my child to daycare. I will be spending money for the, ahem, opportunity.

    Wow. I never thought I'd be in this place.

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  10. Another story worth a read from the Atlantic monthly "The Death Spiral of America's Top Law Firms":


    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/04/the-death-spiral-of-americas-big-law-firms/256124/

    MacK

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  11. Crux:

    Absolutely reprehensible. And I know there are so many others in your situation. I'm so, so sorry.

    Do you still live in the city where your law school is located? Can you make an appointment with the dean (or at least the head of the CSO) and make them look you in the eye while you tell them that you have taken a -part time-, -volunteer- position for which you have to pay for childcare? And when they tell you how it will lead to actual paid employment, explain why that's not actually going to happen.

    I'm sick and tired of the law school industrial complex trying to explain away situations like yours.

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  12. It's not ego, it's denial. Addicts and alcoholics exhibit the same behavior. You cannot truly be free until you own your problem, or accept the simple reality that you have been screwed in the grandest possible way. The girl on food stamps has to understand that she will NEVER be getting a job as a lawyer in healthcare law, let a alone a job in a "corporate" law firm. She will continue to suffer in denial and food stamps until she accepts this reality and tries to make the best of things out of the wreckage that is her life.

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  13. Interesting article in Business Insider [although insufficient info about crushing nature o debt].

    However, don't read the comments; they're from a bunch of Neanderthals!

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  14. Having a difficult time to find a full-time job myself makes me wonder why a few of those attorneys mentioned in the article left their big-law jobs. Of course, I'm not in their position and wouldn't know what problems they were experiencing. However, it wouldn't be such a bad problem to have during these times.

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  15. The BI article was really interesting. I walked away from the article with the sense that students can still get jobs if they network, try hard enough, etc. I think because of this, it is not entirely an accurate picture.

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  16. That article is ridiculous. They should just cover 20 kids with $200K law school debt who are living in their parents' basements and working at red lobster.

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  17. 10:29:

    Great. More competition. The good news is, many of these fuckers from the Biglaw firms (mainly associates) cannot practice. They have drafted rogs the whole time, or done research, or drafted motions. Many have never seen a case from start to finish or done client intake, or even dealt with clients.

    I say to these failing law firms:

    Welcome to the Suck.

    Matt2 is a spammer.

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  18. Hey John Doe Attorney, I read your blog. You should have been in that article if you weren't so anonymous. Definitely interesting stuff. Hang in there man.

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  19. The Michigan grad is now an "expert" on picking up women? Did anyone see that troglodyte's picture? Who the fuck would be stupid enough to pay that guy for dating tips? Nevermind, I suppose he advertises in law school journals.

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  20. @11:25 a.m. Why did they leave their biglaw jobs? Because most people get fired from their biglaw jobs. As soon as there is not enough work to bill to clients, you get "reviewed out" of biglaw. Biglaw is a brutal work environment that functions to maximize the profits of the very few equity partners at the top.

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  21. 12:41,
    That's true, but I think 11:25's question was why would you leave a steady paycheck (even knowing it's going to end at some point) if you don't have something solid lined up.

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  22. Does anyone think they left voluntarily? They aren't going to admit they were fired, they are spinning their story as best they can.

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  23. @12:41 yes, and most didn't "leave a steady paycheck." The steady paycheck left them.

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  24. @9:48- I went through something like that myself once. Not for Law School, thank god, but something unrelated. I got scammed hard, and it took me quite a while to realize how screwed I was and what an idiot I had been to let myself be scammed.

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  25. You have to wonder how these grads got the start-up funds. Most grads are so encumbered with debt they can barely pay for rent and food, nevermind fund a start-up.

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  26. With regard to the LSAC fee hike, the one that's interesting to me is not just the bump from $139 to $160 to take the LSAT. It's the reporting bump from $16 to $21 for each school.

    Lawprof is right that the fee hike probably won't scare away applicants for the LSAT itself, but I would think that there will be some drop in the number of applications each student submits, even if it is small.

    At $16, you can apply to 6 law schools for $96. Add the $139 fee, and you were under $250.

    Now, at the new rates, taking the LSAT and applying to just five schools will push you over $265. The $21 increase in LSAT price also costs the same as having your score sent to another school.

    Remember, this is on top of the application fees to each school.

    I applied to five schools, plus a couple others that waived the app. fee.

    The kids that I've spoken to that are going to law schools now are trending towards 8 to 12 applications.

    I'd expect those numbers to go down....not to mention that hiking the LSAT price makes it more expensive to take it multiple times, which has become more commonplace as schools, desperate to raise their medians, began to calculate highest scores rather than average scores.

    If applicants become more selective (and they will), that will likely hurt both the overall application figures as well as the yield numbers at some law schools in the next cycle.

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  27. @6:56

    "The kids that I've spoken to that are going to law schools now are trending towards 8 to 12 applications. "

    Did you try to convince them not to go to law school? you will save their future

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  28. To add to what 6:56 says, that $21 dollar fee applies even to those with fee waivers from the schools.

    I applied to 10 or so schools when I applied, most of which with fee waivers. I know people who applied to 20 with fee waivers. These people are looking at a 30% cost increase for applying to schools they might not be seriously considering (e.g., you often scattershot lower schools giving you fee waivers to have more scholarship offers to then bargain for a lower cost of attendance).

    Given that the rise of application numbers has often meant increased bargaining power for students, I dislike that $5 dollar increase a lot more than the LSAT increase.

    Anyways, great article by Tamahana on the increases over at Balkinization:

    http://balkin.blogspot.com/2012/04/what-is-going-on-at-law-school.html

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  29. semi-related blog on UNC Chapel Hill's undergraduate tuition rise. This time, the sharp upturn in tuition began in the early 1990's, as opposed to the 80's like most places.

    The reason for the blog is due to garbage comments made by a Congresswoman on the shocking tuition rates in the country

    http://www.nextnewdeal.net/rortybomb/virginia-foxxs-comment-and-intergenerational-problem-public-university

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  30. Actually this is important news because another writer has found out that Foxx's (the Congresswoman) biggest campaign contributors "are PACs like Education Management Corporation, the Assn of Private Sector Colleges/Univs (which, I assume is actually pronounced “The Association of…” and not “The Ass-en”), as well as the esteemed, for-profit, Kaiser University (Home of the Fightin’ Sozes.)"

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/04/19/1084658/-Virginia-Foxx-First-Woman-to-Ever-Pay-for-College
    http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cid=N00026166&cycle=2012


    This is important as it shows that Politicians should not be expected to help with the scandalous tuition rates in this country, as they are beholden to their campaign contributors. Therefore the only solution is to starve the beast of its supply of sacrificial students.

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  31. OK. This is not quite on point, but it does strike me as an way out of this quagmire: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/04/the-burgeoning-student-debt-problem.html

    Since we have adopted th right wing approach that students should bear the costs of their educa tion, why not adopt Milton Frieman's idea of equity financing? Namely, a student pays, for example, 10 pct. of his income for his education for the next 20 years. The I R S collects this money through withholding.


    This money is all the money the school collects. If their alumni don't get jobs, or if those jobs don't pay well, the la w school does not get paid much. This would force them to be more careful with admissions and work harder to find jobs for graduates.

    A similar system exists in Australia.

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  32. More bottom 1% losers trying to act like they're anything more than a tiny minority. Fucking losers.

    If you don't like this country then why are you here? Move out.

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  33. Sounds like a good idea BUT...

    If some student makes a few million $$$$$$$$$$$ in those 20 years then the Universities will make out like bandits

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  34. Oh no, Sarkozy is going to lose his job as president and be unemployed.

    THE FRENCH PRESIDENCY IS A SCAM! IT'S ALL LIES. IF YOU BECOME FRENCH PRESIDENT YOU WILL WIND UP UNEMPLOYED AFTER FOUR YEARS!

    That's a perfect parrallell to the ridiculous "logic" on this site. Losers.

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  35. Why don't you go sit on a banana and stop trolling?

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  36. Wait, maybe this troll is on to something. Maybe it's only the bottom 1% that did not get a return from their LS investment. Here's some food for thought:

    http://abovethelaw.com/2012/04/the-most-influential-lawyers-in-the-world-attorneys-on-the-time-100/

    Over 10% of Time's 100 MIP are lawyers, kiddos. This could be you too! You can even attend a TTTs like Miami (Rubio) and Albany (Cuomo) and be on top of the world!

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  37. Exactly 2:19. Look, bottom line is that nothing guarantees you a job. Look at Sarkozy. Had he gone to law school he might be working now but instead he's unemployed! Do you want to be the President of France? Well law school is clearly a better investment of time than that, so you should go to law school.

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