Savor the comedy stylings of Don LeDuc, Dean and President of the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law:
The President of Cooley Law School believes the state has reached a "tipping point" where the number of older attorneys leaving practice will exceed the number of law students entering the market.
Don LeDuc said he believes the state will be in "deficit mode" where there are more jobs than lawyers for about 20 years.
"There's such talk about too many lawyers and no jobs," LeDuc said. "In two or three years, we will be producing fewer new admissions to membership than the numbers leaving membership in the same year."
Cooley Law School graduated 996 lawyers in 2011 and 918 in 2010, according to James Robb, associate dean for development and alumni relations at Cooley.
LeDuc points to a demographics report put out by the State Bar of Michigan that found 53.4 percent of the active members of the state bar were born before 1961. The survey also found that 11.1 percent (or about 3,716 lawyers) of the active bar members were born before 1944.
Citing data from the State Bar, LeDuc contends that 55.6 percent of the active Michigan bar members were 50 years or older in 2010 and 29.6 percent were 60 and older.
On average, the state will need 992 lawyers each year in the next decade to replace these older lawyers, LeDuc contends. With a shortage of lawyers, LeDuc fears the people hurt the most will be the ones relying on court-appointed attorneys. LeDuc said with a shortage, there would be fewer going after the court-appointed cases.
Actual Bureau of Labor Statistics projections for 2008-2018:
The Michigan economy is projected to produce an average of 470 new jobs for lawyers per year over the course of the decade. As of 2008 Michigan's five law schools were producing 2,016 graduates per year. This projected ratio of 4.29 grads for every anticipated job was the second-worst ratio of any state, behind Massachusetts.
BTW thanks to Cooley this ratio has gotten worse, as Michigan’s five law schools graduated 2,073 J.D. holders in 2011 per ABA data. How many of these people got full-time long-term legal jobs (excluding people listing themselves as solo practitioners) in the state of Michigan? This number can be estimated from the new ABA employment data, if we assume that the percentage of graduates from each school employed in Michigan who got full-time long-term legal jobs was similar to the overall percentage of each school’s graduates who got such jobs. The answer is approximately 376: 45 from Detroit-Mercy, 60 from Michigan State, 45 from Michigan, 142 from Cooley and 84 from Wayne State. (Overall, 868 of these 2,073 graduates, or 41.2%, got full-time long-term legal jobs per the ABA stats. This percentage falls to 34.3% if you exclude the University of Michigan data).
Now LeDuc -- who got paid $523,000 by Cooley in 2009 per IRS Form 990 – is basically just a carnival barker with a law degree, but his style of argumentation is all too typical of the things that pass for knowledge in much of both legal academia and the legal profession. (I recently heard a high-ranking member of the Colorado legal establishment make a similarly absurd argument about a looming lawyer shortage brought on by imminent boomer retirements).
LeDuc, like so many other people in this thing of ours, is an unabashed grifter, making up on the fly whatever argument he thinks might work on his target audience, while ignoring evidence, logic, and any constraints that might be generated by a sense of honor or the ability to feel shame.
Still, this is not so different from legal “reasoning” 101 as practiced in so many classrooms and courtrooms: Come up with some halfway plausible-sounding theory, tart it up with a few carefully selected statistics to give it a patina of faux empiricism, present it all with an air of great confidence and an implicit or explicit demand to respect your authority, and keep cashing those checks. (Cooley’s total revenues in 2009: $117,577,686. $108,957,933 of this came from tuition and fees, which represented nearly a $13,000,000 [!] increase in tuition revenue from 2008. The 28% drop in enrollment last year must be hitting them where it hurts).
Really, the difference between LeDuc’s transparently self-serving bullshit (this kind of thing doesn’t even rise to the relative respectability of a lie, which at least requires the speaker to care about whether what he’s saying is true or not) and many an appellate opinion is that he doesn’t have the ability to tack “IT IS SO ORDERED” on the end of it. And how many law school classes, which so often take the form of the professor engaging in Pretend Judging, or worse yet, Pretend Policy Analysis, feature the same willingness to just make it up as one goes along, as the little man behind the curtain frantically pulls on the rhetorical levers that operate the Wizard of Law?
In all these cases, the cognitive style is the same: the complete disregard for, or even interest in, real data or method or theory; the need to constantly pretend that one knows what one is talking about; the assumption, so deeply embedded as to be unconscious, that all arguments are nothing more than rhetorical tools; the contempt, in short, for anything resembling intellectual integrity, in even the loosest sense of the phrase.
What a world, what a world.