Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Half as many students at half the price

I wrote and then accidentally deleted a heartbreaking post of staggering genius this morning, so this is going to be a shorter version of that.  (It was somehow deleted while I was trying to copy and paste the words of a Cooley law school administrator. Coincidence? I think not).  Update: I've just been advised that there is a thing in the toolbar called the "undo" button. If only life itself came with one . . . 

One critical issue at the core of the current crisis of the American law school is the extent to which that crisis is amenable to market self-correction.  The strong version of this view is that the crisis is largely if not wholly a product of poor information, and that the market for law school admissions will self-correct as buyers punish sellers for failing to provide adequate information about what they're selling.

There is a good deal of evidence that something along these lines is beginning to happen.  The law school applicant pool has shrunk by nearly 25% over the past two years, despite the comparatively poor alternatives available to recent college graduates, which keep the opportunity cost of continuing their education relatively low.  In addition there's evidence that law school applicants are getting increasingly price sensitive.

For example I've gathered from various sources that seat deposits at a number of schools are way down.  (A seat deposit is the several-hundred dollar payment that an admitted prospective student must make by a certain date in order to reserve his or her place in a law school's entering class.)  In particular it appears that something like panic may be breaking out in some admissions offices of what could be called legal academia's upper middle class -- "top tier" schools outside the semi-charmed Top 14.

Certain sub-elite schools that feature large entering classes, high tuition, and especially squirrelly recent employment numbers are admitting unusually large numbers of people off their wait lists, and more significantly still are offering steep tuition discounts to many of these prospective students, who until a week or two ago they had not deigned to even admit, let alone admit at half price.

Indeed it may make sense for applicants to employ a kind of Priceline strategy, in which they wait until late in the cycle to make lowball offers to schools which are in danger of having significant numbers of unfilled seats in their entering classes.  Sticker price tuition at some schools is coming to resemble the initial offered price of items at a suburban garage sale: that is, it increasingly bears little relation to what buyers eventually pay.

All this indicates that, to a certain extent (a crucial caveat which I want to emphasize), a kind of market correction seems to be happening. Sites like Law School Transparency and Law School Numbers are arming sophisticated consumers, to the extent that prospective law students fall into that category, with more information than ever regarding both the actual price at which they can buy seats in law school classes, and the actual likely expected return on that investment.

But the situation remains complex. For one thing, many prospective law students and their families are far from sophisticated consumers.  They remain in thrall to the powerful culture myth that greatly exaggerates the extent to which being an attorney means being a highly-paid high-status professional who does interesting and socially useful work.  This helps explain such otherwise inexplicable facts as that, at least according to its administrators, Thomas M. Cooley's new Florida campus (the school's fifth) has just admitted a first class nearly twice as large as that which the school anticipated admitting.  According to the campus's associate dean,  "these numbers indicate the Tampa Bay area was ready for a law school."  Well that's one interpretation.

Another is that, despite all the very real progress that's being made on the transparency front, the various "market distortions" at work are still powerful enough to ensure that law schools are still admitting twice as many students, and charging them twice as much, as what a well-functioning market for legal education in America would yield.

When the number of law school graduates, and the average tuition they pay, have both been cut in half, we will begin to be able to say that "the market is working."  Until then, we will still be dealing with the product of a massive mis-allocation of social and human capital, which is only in part a product of informational failures in the classical economic sense.



 


96 comments:

  1. We are heading for a two tier legal training system by default.

    One of the defining features of an effective and successful lawyer is that the person is usually both of above average intelligence and generally both well informed and capable of informing himself/herself of information relevant to what he/she needs to achieve. By this measure a 0L who accepts an offer at a lower tier school or even one outside the T14 in the current environment is on its face unlikely to have these qualifications for success - just going to Cooley for the class of 2015 establishes that you should not be a lawyer .... and I could say that about a lot of other schools.

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  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. Oh, we may try to slay the dragon, but it keeps rearing its ugly head in new places: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/05/08/washington-u-law-school-offer-fully-online-degree

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  4. And this is confirmation of the worst: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2012/05/07/projected-law-school-debt-figures-revised-even-higher/

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  5. Here's a Cooley grad for you, the pride of Waterbury Connecticut! Just don't shake his hand, you rather not know where its been.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/14/nyregion/ex-mayor-gets-37-years-in-prison-for-abusing-2-girls.html?ref=philip_a_giordano

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  6. The existence of schools like Cooley is proof that older lawyers don't care at all about younger lawyers or the overall health of the profession. Can anybody imagine the AMA supporting Cooley med school?

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  7. Do they wear helmets - BD doesn't anymore - and he was not that dumb a jock in his youth

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  8. Well you have to take into account that the odds that a Cooley grad will ever find themselves in front of a client or doing legal work is pretty small.

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  9. Three lawyers who graduated from Cooley are sitting at the defense table. What does the Judge say to the one in the middle?

    "The Defendent may rise."

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  10. With the current student loan scheme in place, the schools are rewarded for not considering the prevailing job market. (Plus, we all know that the pigs will chortle, "It's not my place to make sure every applicant is aware of the job situation out there.")

    With the constant, gushing stream of federally-backed student loans, the schools would be turning down money if they based their admissions on the local or regional legal job market. As I have noted several times on my blog, the faculty and administrators are paid up front, in full. They do not give one damn about the students' outcomes - because they are not accountable for their conduct. They have no skin in the game.

    The seasoned banks and universities know the system well, and they have no liability if they accept too many grads - or if a certain percentage of students later default on their loans. The entire burden falls on the shoulders of those least able to carry it. Plus, the students are a one-time consumer of "legal education."

    Then again, corporate bagman Melvin Schweitzer did not take any of these things into account. That is the main problem with politics/law. When you want to reward your friends and cronies, facts do not matter. You simply reach a decision, and then pretend to have relied on solid reasoning.

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  11. Tuition cost is one factor for enrolling. Location is another. For some people being close to family is more important than tuition. Another reason is that one may want to work in the city where they go to law school. Going to a top tier law school because it's in the top tier is just as asinine as someone claiming that a lawyer has to go to a T-14 school to be qualified to be a lawyer.

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  12. Jesus.... That Wash U online-only LLM reeks of desperation. Guarantee you it is nothing but a "revenue stream enhancer."

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  13. Law schools don't teach the practice of law. This might seem an acceptable price to pay for their primary functions of sieve and gate-keeper-- a sieve to keep incompetents out of the practice, and a gate-keeper to keep the number of attorneys down to a figure that the market can support. But now that they've thrown that over in order to rake in federally-backed loan money, what do they really offer the student? They don't keep incompetents from getting into the profession and they don't help keep the numbers down. Now, I don't say that these are admirable goals-- teaching ought to be-- but really, what does a law school offer these days?

    In time the market would correct this, except that federally-backed loans keep distorting the situation. You won't have a proper correction if the government keeps working to shunt money to law schools.

    --Porsenna

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  14. A market correction is where price and numbers actually change in a relevant way.

    I don't see anything in what you describe that suggests either the number of schools in existence or number of law students attending will appreciably affect outcomes.

    But, I guess when you are going on about markets in a non-market area like education, you got to grasp on to something.

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  15. @8:48

    "Tuition cost is one factor for enrolling. Location is another. For some people being close to family is more important than tuition. Another reason is that one may want to work in the city where they go to law school. Going to a top tier law school because it's in the top tier is just as asinine as someone claiming that a lawyer has to go to a T-14 school to be qualified to be a lawyer."

    Have you looked at a map of law schools - there are almost always higher ranked schools in any US city. Certainly most metropolitan areas have 2-5 schools within 20 minutes of one another. So the argument that I went to Cooley because it was more convenient does not "fly."

    That said, I chose Georgetown because when I went there my family had a home in DC (they moved my 2L summer) and I saved a lot of rent and living expenses my two years and since I was working my way through...I had other offers from higher ranked schools in '89, but not in DC (I also had GW, Catholic (who tried hard to recruit me) but curiously not from American.)

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  16. @8:44 - "The existence of schools like Cooley is proof that older lawyers don't care at all about younger lawyers or the overall health of the profession."

    That is exactly right. Law attracts greedy people because it's boring and it can't attract anyone who 'loves the law' - that's just bullshit. It's boring and people do it for the money.

    And it follows that in a profession full of greedy fuckers, those at the top of the pile do what they can to screw money out of the system, their employees, their clients etc. The older lawyers at the top of this profession are using it as a personal ATM, taking out a huge overdraft that is ruining the profession for everyone that follows. But can we expect anything else from a profession full of people motivated by a love of money?

    They will be happy if the profession is bankrupt, morally and financially, just at the point they all retire to their nice comfy beach houses, and their "screw everyone else, because I got mine!" attitude.

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  17. Well, I'm glad to see that there's something of a market correction going on on that end, but there has been one going on on the other end for a while. Law students don't know anything, think they know everything and don't learn how to be lawyers.

    I have more work than I can do by myself right now. I would never consider hiring a recent graduate. Why? For less money I can get a paralegal who can do 10x what a lawyer can for less money and wayyyy less attitude.

    Fix that and the rest will take care of itself. Law schools could never have charged so much if law firms somewhere weren't paying so much and that never would have happened if there were more qualified lawyers in existence. Supply. Demand.

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  18. @MacK
    The drool and helmet reference is a slur on disabled children. LawProf should delete it.

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  19. @8:34 - Your wish has been granted. I'm a Cooley student. Any questions?

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    1. You should go on Reddit and do an AMA.

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  20. 9:52,

    If you are who you say you are, what is your end game plan? What do you think the chances are that you will become a practicing attorney? How will you pay for your debt? How much debt do you have?

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  21. oh lawd, this is gonna be good.

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  22. @9:52 here.

    I'm going to Cooley because it's the only school that would allow me to attend part-time, for free, while keeping my full-time job. When I went in, my end-game was just to acquire the credential and hopefully leverage it for future promtions with my current (government) employer. I'd say that the chances of my becoming a practicing attorney are decent - I'll probably graduate in the top 1% of the class, so I'll be one of the few people who actually have a chance at a "real" legal job. I have no debt - with a full scholarship, my only expenses are books and transportation.

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  23. An additional salutary feature of steep tuition discounts to enrolling students is that the discount makes it easier for them to walk away after an unremarkable performance in 1L, OCI or both.

    Several classmates of mine might have gotten out after 1L and learning that the legal marketplace had little use for them. However, they had doubled their student loan burden in one year without adding measurably to their employment prospects. Thus, they reasoned, they would take a slim chance of the market improving enough to help them after graduation over no chance of repaying it in an entry-level position appropriate to their bachelor's degree.

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  24. @9:52 a.m./10:00 a.m.:

    You've done it as right as anyone can do it, then. Try to marry rich.

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  25. 9:52,
    8:34 here. Clearly you're an outlier so tell me about your classmates that you estimate are in the middle of the pack. Would you let them sell you a car? Bag your groceries? Babysit your child?

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  26. @10:00,

    How do you feel about having your tuition paid by the non-dischargable debt of your classmates?

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  27. Excellent question, terry. Very interested to hear Cooley Student's response.

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  28. @9:40 - I agree that it should be deleted

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  29. I have never met a Cooley grad either. But for 2 years I was on the faculty of a fourth-tier law school (accredited, but on no one's list of selective institutions). The top 10% or so of my students were excellent (I went to HYS, so I know what the competition is). Some were locked in to their city by geographic or other limits (often these were older students with families and roots in the area). Some had not taken college seriously and so had lousy GPAs. And some were brighter than average folks who just weren't bright enough for better law schools--say a 3.1 GPA in English from a non-flagship public college, a low LSAT score, usually very little training or ability to write or think critically (it's amazing how little of that is required to get a B.A.). Many of the latter group worked for a couple of years after college, but wanted to better themselves. And most believed (wrongly) that completing a JD was a ticket to a decent job at a small firm--most students understood going in that biglaw was not really an option.

    I left my position at said law school because I didn't want to help turn out grads with little hope of legal careers beyond doc review (or even a way out of debt).

    One thought on Campos' post today: I believe the decline in applicants will mainly affect those below the T14 and above Tier 4. The bottom-ranked schools don't care about US News or any other metric--they just need to put fannies in classroom seats and manage to get ~60% of their grads to pass the Bar. Admissions standards can be lowered as needed to fill classes (anyone admitted can borrow money for tuition). By converting law school into an intensive 3-year Bar review class, law schools can get enough college grads over the minimal hurdle of the Bar exam. I saw it at the school where I taught: admissions standards dropped each year as entering classes got larger, while the Administration pushed profs to include more Bar-specific material in their classes.

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  30. @9:52/10:00 here.

    There is essentially nothing "wrong" with the people in the "middle of the pack" at Cooley, and yes, I'd let them sell me a car or babysit my child. People who score in the 140-50 range on the LSAT aren't drooling morons - they just aren't good at a particular kind of analytical reasoning. For the most part, the students who haven't taken the K-JD route are people who have achieved a certain amount of success in jobs that they consider to be "dead ends," and who aspire to something better. The K-JD people are simply delusional - blinded by the conventional wisdom that educational debt is "good debt" and that they'll be the one who succeeds and not the one who fails.

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  31. @9:52/10:00/10:13 here.

    To Terry - I feel guilty about it. I certainly had no idea when I went in that this was how things worked, and I don't think that dropping out now would change anything for anyone.

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  32. 10:13,
    It's more than just scoring poorly on the LSAT. It's also making the choice to attend a law school that ranks itself on par with HYS. Shouldn't that strike an applicant as completely insane?
    10:06

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  33. @10:06,

    I've actually never heard anyone at Cooley mention the "Cooley rankings" in person. To the extent that anyone does consider the rankings, I imagine that they think of it as a way for Cooley to thumb its nose at US News - not as a serious attempt to measure the quality of the school.

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  34. 10:13 here --
    I should clarify: Rather than describing some students as "not bright enough" for a better law school, I really should say "not bright enough in the right ways." Any law student is a college grad and more educated than most of the population of the planet. I had students who had been successful engineers, bankers, etc. who just wanted to be lawyers--but who in some cases weren't very good at the specific skills legal work requires.

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  35. existing law students should begin exacting concessions as well, threatening to drop out unless a scholarship is not magically found for them, especially if their grades are not great of course. this should work especially well towards the end of the summer when schools have the choice of cutting a break to an existing student who would otherwise drop out or trying to fill that spot by admitting someone down the waitlist with considerably lesser stats, less diversity and the like. this should be a useful strategy up and down the T14 below HYS.

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  36. 10:23,
    Clearly there are many undergraduate institutions that are more than happy to take people's money and hand them a diploma. I don't think one's level of education is a very good metric to use.

    I know what you're saying though...everyone now is a special little snowflake with their own little talents so we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

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  37. 10:26,
    Wouldn't it be funny if a law school pulled a Dewey?

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  38. I need to drop a Dewey. brb.

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  39. 10:28,
    like if a law school collapsed because its "rainmakers," ie its top students were granted too many concessions? this will never happen. schools are way overleveraged and have massive amounts of fat to cut.

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  40. 10:13: I agree that there's a good chance some middling law schools may find it harder to survive than the bottom feeders. Neiman Marcus and Wal-Mart will on the whole do better than whatever the law school equivalent of Sears is.

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  41. One minor caveat to an excellent blogpost, that was mentioned by one commentator previously.

    I'm not sure we can necessarily call it "the Market" working, because government guaranteed loans are an anomaly to a free market.

    We can say, however, that the fundamental economic principle of supply and demand is at play. If demand plummets, the game is over for Law Schools.

    In America there is a tendency to focus on the supply side of the equation, when the demand is the side to really target. For instance, in the war on drugs, if demand went away, there would be no need for this "war."

    The scam bloggers must continue to focus on the demand side, as don't expect any supply side changes when the Educational and Political networks in the country are corrupt and locked in embrace with one another.

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  42. 10:34,
    I was thinking more about them extending too many (schollies) to too many students (middle and top). I agree it's unlikely though and I imagine they also have an endowment to fall back on. They could also just increase enrollment too I suppose. It's an amusing thought, not all that serious.

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  43. I practice in Michigan and I must say that some of the more talented, impressive attorneys I've met have been Cooley grads. It seems possible to me that their curriculum might be more practice-oriented than a lot of law schools. In any case, as we all know, all law schools teach the same crap and all their professors come from similar backgrounds, so the discrepancy in employments statistics across the "rankings" is largely irrational.

    But of course, that doesn't matter. It is what it is. Cooley shouldn't exist at this point, and neither should other lower-tier schools, including my own Toledo College of Law. (Which I very much enjoyed attending and which I found to have excellent faculty and administration.)

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  44. I don't think that the majority of T4 schools have significant endowments. Much like law firms, they keep a minimum amount of cash on hand for operations - their continued existence depends on keeping cash flowing in.

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  45. 10:23:
    No, I meant what I said. I'm middle aged--the self esteem movement in the schools was way after my time. Many of my former students were in their 30s or older and had enjoyed fairly successful careers in other fields. While I admit I wonder(ed) at the level of due diligence that led them to enter law school, they weren't stupid.

    Most folks enrolled in 4th Tier schools buy the myth of the JD as a ticket to prosperity. And most (not all) do not have the intellectual firepower of students at top schools (or even the middle tier). But to write them off is a mistake. Indeed, that is a big part of the problem with the "scam" Herr Professor Campos writes about--it is a waste of human capital.
    10:23 / 10:13

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  46. 10:42,
    Could it also be that the ones you met were from the top of their class and are the only ones practicing law? In other words, it's likely the ones you met aren't a representative sample?

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  47. 10:44,
    Fair enough, I appreciate your thoughts.
    10:23

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  48. Where is Bruh Rabbit? This seems like the kind of post that would make him apoplectic.

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  49. Most of these problems originate from the artificially low interest rates on student loans. Student loans are basically uncollateralized consumer debt. What would be equivalent type of debt? A credit card.

    Most of these law students would be turned down for credits cards with 10k limits and interest rates north of 20%. Yet, we write them a checks for 200k at 7%. Gee, what can go wrong there? Meanwhile, someone with decent credit will be lucky to get a home equity loan at 7%.

    Remove non-dischargeability and let rates be set by the market. The market will clear overnight.

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  50. In America there is a tendency to focus on the supply side of the equation, when the demand is the side to really target. For instance, in the war on drugs, if demand went away, there would be no need for this "war."

    In the 1920s, after the Irish Civil War the IRA approached Lenin and asked him to supply weapons training and money to help them foment a further Irish revolution. He asked them "how many Bishops have you shot" "none" the scandalised IRA men said "come back when you're serious" Lenin responded.

    Occasionally I suggest at dinner parties when people are waxing n about the war on drugs and fighting it ... that what we need to do is execute drug addicts - after all they are committing treason in a time of war .... when shock ensues I usually suggest that the "war on drugs" types come back to me when they are serious.

    I do the same vis-à-vis Grover Norquist trying to destroy the US government during the War on Terror - it is amazing what a few well chosen Norquist quotes do to a Republican wearing an "I'm more patriotic than you pin (a lapel flag)" when juxtaposed with the war on terror -- paling around with traitors huh!

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    Replies
    1. "
      In the 1920s, after the Irish Civil War the IRA approached Lenin and asked him to supply weapons training and money to help them foment a further Irish revolution. He asked them "how many Bishops have you shot" "none" the scandalised IRA men said "come back when you're serious" Lenin responded."


      Pity NORAID and Gaddafi weren't so discriminating about supporting the Provos, but I guess the Provos weren't exactly shy about killing church men either.

      Delete
  51. Personal Disclaimer: Both parties are corrupt, so I only post this as an fyi

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/senate-republicans-block-vote-student-loan-interest-rates-163511302.html

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  52. Reid (Democrat) voted against the bill as well

    http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=112&session=2&vote=00089

    It would be interesting to see how much "lobbying" money individual senators receive from higher education / loan companies

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  53. @11:48

    Reid voted against it only as a parliamentary maneuver to allow him to bring the bill up again.

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  54. Rent control reduces the amount of housing, federally-guaranteed loans result in higher tuition. The market just doesn't work in the face of systemic governmental distortion. And it's clearly in the interest of politicians that does in this case.

    As a post above noted, the lowest tier schools can keep their bar passage rates up by focusing on bar passage. Think back: how hard was the bar, really? You studied a six weeks and passed. Don't you think you could teach reasonably intelligent people how to pass it if you had three years to do it?

    So, lower your admission standards, teach to the test, and keep raking in that federally-backed loan money.

    --Porsenna

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  55. If I could just post something relevant to my position as a T4 grad, and this blog in general, from an e-mail I just received:

    "Thank you for applying for the attorney position with the State Appellate Defender Office. The process is extremely competitive, with over 400 applications received. After careful consideration, we regret to inform you that we cannot offer you an interview at this time."

    This was an entry-level position, and my resume is LOADED with public interest stuff. That's what I want to do. But they won't even give me an interview. Thanks, legal administrators and other clueless parties for the advice that we should give up on large salaries and take a public interest job. I think everyone's following your advice!

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  56. Pretty amazing article here from a Yale grad arguing for higher interest rates for student loans.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/29/student-loan-subsidies-benefit-elites-at-taxpayers-expense.html

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  57. Joe Biden and Harry Reid voted for the 2005 BAPCPA provisions which tightened the noose around the necks of student borrowers by making private student loans non-dischargeable. Don't feed me some bullshit that Reid did this as a "parliamentary maneuver" (last I checked we are in the States, not England) to bring up the issue again. 2005 was SEVEN years ago. President Barry Hussein Obama had control of both the House and Senate from 2008-2010. Surely he could have done something to ease the plight of the student loan borrowers? Want to know what he did? He signed a law that eliminated student loan repayment subsidies while you are in grad school. Is that "change you can believe in?" Biden, Reid and Obama are mascots of the banking industry. Why would they help you out? Notice how every State of the Union address the Messiah or the "One" says to get an education, "get a masters" or "get a PhD?" Sure, just get all the education you want while you consign your life to the banks that are willing to give you the loans to own you for life.

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  58. One thing I've noticed with left leaning politicians: neither results nor past votes matter. All that matters is whether they now profess to be pure in heart and righteous in motive.

    If they do, the press won't ask tough questions and voters send them back every time.

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  59. 12:42: That is actually one of the worst articles I've ever read about anything. It should be mandatory in LSAT prep curriculum for "spot the logical fallacy."

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  60. @12:58

    Dude, you need to calm down. Reid voted against the measure as a parliamentary tactic--yes, we have a Senate Parliamentarian and Senate Rules in this country--to be able to bring this particular bill up again for a floor vote during this session. You were misinterpreting that his vote as an expression of his position on the issue, so that's why I corrected you. He's the freaking Majority Leader and brought the bill to the floor in the first place--he obviously doesn't oppose it.

    I'm just trying to help you understand Senate procedure, something with which you are clearly unfamiliar. Here are some helpful resources if you want to learn more about how the Senate works: http://www.senate.gov/reference/reference_index_subjects/Rules_and_Procedure_vrd.htm

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  61. 1:27, you might want to use one of my heuristics: anyone who refers to the President as "the One" or "the Messiah" or suchlike, may be completely ignored. In the same way that people who referred to his predecessor as Chimpy McHaliburton or whatever were unworthy of attention. Such people are crying out not to be taken seriously, and I'm more than happy to oblige.

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  62. When we are talking about law grads, a couple percentage points of interest isn't going to save someone with north of 100K in debt.

    It's a meaningless talking point. Dems trying to pander to students to try to save Obama, Reps trying to show some fiscal spine for taxpayer benefit (even as presumptive nominee Romney backs a 1 year extension).

    On another note, I attend a TTTT (had no idea about tiers until I stumbled across Nando and LawProf's blog) with a full tuition scholarship that is secure due to my grades. I could have gone to a T1 or better, but something didn't sit right with me for borrowing $50K a year for 3 years. Here comes a school calling me up telling me that they will give me a full tuition scholarship if I can maintain a 3.0.

    But now I know the truth, and yes, I feel guilty, and the knowledge that I carry with me that my fellow law students and I are hitting the Normandy beaches, except I get nigh-invulnerable body armor and they don't even know the casualty rates are has left me a wreck.

    I am doing an internship in a DA's office this summer (it has been my dream to become a small-time prosecutor, and with no debt and a low CoL the 40-50K salary I would make, if lucky enough to get a job, would be realistic), but if I don't like what I see I'm out. The only way I can justify going through two more years of useless hell (torts and crimlaw wasn't so bad) is if I could get some sort of psychic satisfaction from being a prosecutor. Perhaps someone could speak from experience.

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  63. I'm still laughing about the idea that someone who can write a blog entry of "staggering genius" can also not know how use undo...

    Beautiful.

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  64. http://www.collegescholarships.org/research/student-loans/

    Check this out. It lays out the whole skinny.

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  65. @MacK om your 11:08 post
    That was delicious!

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  66. I just wanted to correct something that's been said by several different posters on this blog. It was not the 2005 BAPCPA that made student loans non-dischargeable. Rather it was The Higher Education Act Amendments of 1998, P. L. 105-244, 112 Stat. 1837 Sec. 971(a) (effective October 7, 1998) So dischargebility has been with us for a long while.

    It's worth noting that only 3 members of Congress voted against the final law that included this provision, and only one did so because of the dischargebility provisions (former Rrepublican Rep. Tom Campbell of Silicon Valley). I've met Mr. Campbell (during his failed US Senate campaigns) and he wasn't your typical Republican in many ways.

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  67. 3:17 is a nerd.

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  68. @5:39PM

    You are incorrect. The 1998 Amendments to the Bankruptcy Code eliminate the dischargeability provision of government backed student loans but private student loans were still dischargeable until the 2005 amendments, which were sponsored by republicans but also supported by corporate whores such as Harry Reid and Joseph "The Plagiarizer" Biden.

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  69. LawProf: can you please write about the WUSTL absurdity in offering an online-only LLM?

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  70. Anone who thinks that law is a high status profession only has to listen to some of the lawyer jokes floating around. Most people who are in law school would make more money selling mattresses, and would enjoy higher status as well. I kid you not.

    As far as employement, there is a reason most job vacancies exist: someone else had the job and could not stand it. Typically, they were not paid well, were expected to work long hours, and were not treated with much respect.

    In most law firms, a competent legal secretary is better liked and more respected than any of the associates in the firm.

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  71. While the market for students attending law school isn't a real market in the classic economic sense, market discipline may punish law schools in another way. Think Greece.

    If accurate, the desperate actions of law schools to fill seats will not escape the notice of bond rating agencies. A credit downgrade would hasten the decline of a troubled school.

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  72. Uncle Sam should not subsidize the law schools. End Grad PLUS loans for the TTTs.

    They are horrible risk, and there is no reason that the taxpayer should be on the hook for IBR of law school.

    College, med school, STEM fields might be another story in that arguably there is a public benefit served from making those fields more attainable and affordable. Not so with overcrowded law.

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  73. New graduates are running like lemmings into law school for three reasons: (1) historical status and high compensation, which no longer exist; (2) the perceived safety of education as they've been doing "school" for at least 15 years; (3) lack of imagination.

    Here are several more productive things that you can do with a poli sci or English or philosophy degree, plus 150,000k, plus 3 years of time, than go to law school.

    1. Learn foreign languages. Take a small percentage of that 150k and move to Costa Rica or Beijing or Moscow or Abu Dhabi. In 3 years, you will be almost fluent in an in-demand language.

    2. Learn programming languages. If you're smart enough to get into all but the worst of the TTTTs, then you're smart enough to learn how to program. You can get student loans to do this. For about $20,000 you can enroll part time for 2 years in your local public university on a non-degree granting status. If you also want the paper, in 3 years you can probably earn a second bachelors in CS. Take as many CS courses as you can. After you have one under your belt, continue to take 3 more semesters of the classes AND buy programming books. In 2 calendar years, you will have actual marketable skills that someone will pay you $55k+ to do to start. At a fraction of the debt and time that law will take.

    3. Get over your snobby status-driven life and take the police exam, firefighters exam, or apply to work in a craft on the railroads. The railroads pay a very high wage with great retirement benefits. Conductors who are willing to go on the road can make $75k+ after a few years.

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  74. 4:40: My uncle just started as a Conductor for Union Pacific and it is shit. He has already had two involuntary furlough periods where they told him, "Hey, we're not firing you, but you'll work again at some point. We'll call you when we need you." In this position, someone cannot find additional work because you have no idea when they will call and say they need you tomorrow. He is gone from his family for weeks at a time when he is working. I have another uncle who was laid off from Union Pacific a few years ago. He was an accountant. Working for the railroads is nice work, if you can get it. And keep it.

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  75. The women that male law students want to date will not date a train conductor.

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  76. "Learn foreign languages. Take a small percentage of that 150k and move to Costa Rica or Beijing or Moscow or Abu Dhabi. In 3 years, you will be almost fluent in an in-demand language."

    This is also a pretty awesome way of spending three years in your twenties and makes you a more rounded person (or a narcissist, but whatever). Can't say it makes it that much easier to find employment unless you're going to stay overseas though.

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  77. 4:40,
    Being a (paid) firefighter is harder to get than Biglaw. Do you know how many well-trained volunteer firefighters would love to have full time paid positions? These volunteers already have the fire schools and fire training that law grads don't have. Why not just apply for a position as an astronaught?

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  78. @7:33,

    This will all vary by municipality, but most major city fire departments hire stricly based on a civil service test (with possible points added for prior service in the military and/or for residency within the municipality). Some of them also prefer to train people fresh in "their" way of doing things, and therefor don't prefer those with prior experience as volunteers. Not sure how this helps anyone here, but I suppose its always better to have more information.

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  79. FOARP is right. No matter how well you document your overseas learning or work, State-side employers will think you spent three years surfing and partying.

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  80. For most jobs, I'd rather hire someone who spent 3 years learning Mandarin and surfing, than someone who went to TTT. And that includes most legal/paralegal work. Why?

    Well, most jobs are sales jobs. I'd much rather have a beer with the guy who picked up stakes and went to China for 3 years than a Kindergarten through TTT law school robot.

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  81. The problem, 7:59 a.m., is the you are not the 25-year-old airhead recruiter who culls the resumes, the 54-year-old HR battleaxe who decides who to call in for interviews or the mid-career professional with an uninterrupted three-decade work history who makes the hiring decision.

    90s-style hiring of "interesting" people is over. As long as there are so many more jobseekers than jobs, employers will hire the applicants with the most traditional resumes.

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  82. 8:10, you are exactly right. And they will hire the applicants with the EXACT experience/qualifications they are looking for, because no organization these days wants to train anyone to do anything. And when there is such a glut of applicants, there most definitely are applicants who have every last single bit of specialized experience needed for every opening. People who creatively fill those qualifications are not even considered. People who have the "potential" or the intellect to absolutely and quickly learn the particulars of the job are also not considered.

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  83. Late response to @5:39 - it's interesting to note that Tom Campbell is now the Dean at Chapman Law School, which is or will be part of the class action lawsuit. It seems that he's now profiting off of the student loan problem, and that makes him a typical politician, regardless of party affiliation.

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  84. 8:21 AM

    Which is how and why people get stuck in doc review… even if they wanted to leave they probably couldn’t.

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  85. 8:21:

    Plus, we hear all the time that companies cannot find top work or talent. Their definition of those qualifications stem from the fact that they want the prefect candidate and much like Dems and Republicans, they will not budge from that stance.

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  86. 10:41: Yes, I agree. I am in a different industry altogether but I am experiencing this problem as it exists in my industry. I'm stuck doing monkey work that an intelligent high school student could do, despite having recently completed an advanced degree in my field while working here, despite graduating with that advanced degree with a perfect 4.0, and despite having over 10 years of experience in this field. I graduated a year ago and I've had four interviews over this past year, but I do not know how I can spin my current job to future employers. My parents (baby boomers) don't understand why I haven't been offered a position yet, with my grades and my experience. I try to tell them "this is just how things are these days," but they just don't get it. I suppose I feel lucky to at least have the job I do, but I also regret deciding to pursue that degree and staying in this field for as long as I have, thinking surely that my YEARS of experience would someday "get me something." I've been very wrong and it's very frustrating. On the other hand, what is the alternative? I don't know of one.

    - 8:21 AM

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  87. 11:42 So what industry are you working in? I work in a regulatory/ quality assurance position at a bio tech. Since leaving school I’ve only been able to get similar/related jobs. I’ve been in these entry/mid-level positions for a couple of years- the jobs are easy and not challenging. I probably couldn’t even get an interview elsewhere doing anything else. For the hell of it, I’ve tried to change jobs and there have been times when I’ve been unemployed and needed a job- and have applied to jobs outside of industry but I’ve never get much of a response.

    I always laugh when I hear people talking about stem degrees and the need for them. The work is work that any decent high school student could do… which is a product of de-skilling and making everything process based which goes hand in hand with all the other changes in the labor market that are occurring. The only people who need adv stem degrees are top level researchers and those jobs are significantly limited anyway. Moreover, -real research oriented- grad school in the sciences have their own probably (namely that it’s a pyramid scheme like elsewhere). And all of these new, hybrid professional grad school programs are too expensive in my opinion to even consider, considering what wages are and the limited number of upper level positions that would warrant having the degree.

    There’s nowhere to go… I guess I should just be glad to have a job. When I talk about my job with my older friends they always ask (with seriousness) “is there room to move up?” “Don’t you want to be a manager or supervisor or something that you will find more challenging” …the fact is they’re (boomers) are sitting in them and they’re not leaving until the absolute have too (out of necessity or because they have nothing else to do and you're family's grown, etc- I guess you spend all this time working that you have no time cultivate other interests or actually become good at something else outside of work).

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  88. ^Typos and grammar errors due to distracting nonsense at work…

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  89. @ 1:35: Libraries. Your story rings true with me even though my work is quite different than any STEM field. People ask me the same sorts of questions, about "moving up." There's nowhere to go. Everyone is staying put, even people who are well-off financially and completely able/eligible to retire, very comfortably in fact.

    There are lots of similarities between the library world and the MLIS and the problems with the legal profession and the JD. Libraries are being rapidly de-professionalized, but everyone is still raving about how great the MLIS is (when, like the JD, the MLIS does NOT teach you how to be a librarian in any practical sense). I am very fortunate in that I at least have very minimal debt from mine (under $10k) because my employer offers tuition benefits, but there are plenty of people who still go to private schools and shell out as much as $30k/year to get an MLIS (typically two-year programs).... For a profession where the average starting pay hovers around $40k. Like the law, it is a shrinking profession and the Boomers' claws are sunk in to their desks.

    - 8:21 AM

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  90. ^ Thanks for the info.

    -1:35pm

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  91. 0.5 x 0.5 = 0.25

    You think schools are going to cut their revenue by 75%? That's as likely as a man cutting his penis length by 75% i.e. becoming asian.

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  92. ^ that's Linsane

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